'The Truth About Forgiveness'

Author: John MacArthur
Genre: Christian Life and Thought, Theology
Series: The Truth About
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

I requested this book after reviewing (and loving) it prequel, The Truth About Grace. (Click to read my review.)
I don't know if I would say I enjoyed this book as completely as I enjoyed Grace, but it was still a very enjoyable study of core truths about something that we Christians tend to throw around as a byword very casually.
The parable of the prodigal son is one of the book's main focuses, and the author goes into explicit detail about what is both said overtly and implied in each tiny aspect of the story. Honestly, I'm still on the fence about whether I actually liked that or not. True, I'm not an expert on ancient middle-eastern cultures, so the detailed explanations of what even the smallest detail implied to the Pharisees Jesus was addressing provided some interesting insight. However, I still get very nervous when people (no matter how much of an expert they may be) begin expounding in great detail on what is implied by, but not actually said in, a passage of Scripture. The fact that the author was simply trying to get to the bones of the story rather than trying to promote some radical new idea made me feel better, though.
Over all, this book is focused on God's forgiveness of humans and spends very little time discussing the forgiveness of one person to another. But that shouldn't be a problem, since the forgiveness God has extended to us is the pattern we use to forgive each other.
As I said of the prequel, The Truth About Forgiveness was a lovely, refreshing read that took me back to the basics while still challenging me to think in new ways about the incredible nature of God, and I would highly recommend it.


'The Truth About Grace'

Author: John MacArthur
Genre: Religion/Christian Life and Thought
Series: The Truth About
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

I really wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this book up, but I was delighted with what I got. The Truth About Grace is not a cutting-edge, ground-breaking revelation like so many books flooding the market today claim to be. Instead, it is just what the title says: a straightforward look at the fundamental truths about grace as laid out in the Bible.
The book is heavily referenced, which I love. To make it even better, the references are all from scripture rather than from other theologians or scholars.
I wouldn't call this book a heavy-duty study, necessarily (although I do plan on re-reading it in the near future), but it made a wonderfully refreshing look into the founding principle of the Christian faith. And it's always good to revisit the basics of what we believe; otherwise it becomes very easy to get lost in the details. This is a book that will be staying on my shelf for a good while, I suspect.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my review.


'Elisabeth of Austria: The Princess Bride'

Author: Barry Denenberg
Genre: Historical, Historical Fiction
Series: The Royal Diaries
Publisher: Scholastic

Elisabeth of Austria is an independent young lady who loves spending time outdoors, riding horses, and looking after her host of pets. Her family life is a little less than ideal, which seems to be typical of royal families, but she nonetheless enjoys a peaceful, somewhat isolated life in a secluded but beautiful palace.
When Elisabeth accompanies her sister and mother on a trip to introduce her sister to the emperor in hopes of arranging a marriage, she instead finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance and engaged to the emperor her sister had hoped to marry. With barely enough time to realize what's happening, she's been swept into the new, very different, very strict life of the emperor's court.
I have to be honest, while the descriptions of Elisabeth's home and the quiet life she led there were beautiful and appealing, the story left me feeling sad and disappointed for Elisabeth. Several times throughout the book I found myself thinking 'Don't do it, girl! Back out of it while you still have a chance!' Unfortunately, she didn't listen to me. And the epilogue confirmed the fact that Elisabeth and her emperor did not live happily ever after.
I will say, though, that the author did a fantastic job taking the historical facts of Elisabeth's life and putting them together into the fictional young version of her featured in this book. History tells us that throughout her adult life Elisabeth was obsessed with her appearances (particularly her hair) and struggled with anorexia. Author Barry Denenberg did an excellent job of showing the beginnings of those tendencies in his fictional reconstruction of Elisabeth.
As always, a book from the Royal Diaries series makes a great supplement to a history lesson, or a fun way to begin learning about a historical figure... even if it isn't always the most uplifting lesson in the world.