One Night with the King (2006)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

One Night with the King (2006) from Gener8Xion Entertainment
Rated PG. Drama, Royalty, Faith Film, Historical/Period Film, Romance

Description (from the film case): Born into poverty, Hadassah (Tiffany DuPont) grows up to become a beauty who catches the eye of the powerful King Xerxes (Luke Goss) and ultimately becomes his bride. But despite her position, Hadassah’s life is in danger, as the state has decreed that all Jews will be put to death. Defying warnings to remain silent, however, Hadassah struggles to save her people, even as she attempts to hide her heritage…

My thoughts: The music, set design, and many of the costumes are what I like best about this film, which is based on one of my all-time favorite novels. I also appreciate the film’s take on Queen Vashti, not making her just a haughty or conniving beauty with her nose stuck up in the air but a woman with poise and conviction who does appear to have some genuine concern for the king.

Vashti is certainly more queenly than Hadassah/Esther in this movie, as there isn’t much that’s distinctly regal in the lead actress’s carriage or speech, even after her time of preparation to meet the king. It’s also unfortunate that she has to spend so much of the film, particularly the second half of it, in tears.

However, going on about more of the movie’s weaknesses (yes, I see them) would make it sound more horrible than I’ve found it to be on the whole. All things considered, I do enjoy this movie for what it is, and at the time of its release, I think it served as a come-up from previous Christian features.

My corresponding reading: Hadassah: One Night with the King and The Hadassah Covenant by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen.

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Predictability in Fiction

I often say that readers are entitled to their preferences and what they choose to read or not to read. So, even though I write some romance, I don’t think all readers should prefer that genre just because it’s something I write.

Even so, I was prompted to write this blog post because I often hear fellow readers say things like, “I don’t read romance because it’s predictable. You already know the guy and girl are going to end up together.”

True, you already know that fact beforehand, but predictable outcomes aren’t exactly exclusive to the romance genre. Besides, I think there’s a difference between a predictable outcome and a predictable story. I appreciate it when an author can weave originality and unpredictability together on the way to what may be a predictable outcome.

For instance, if you read an adventure or literary novel called Wreck of the Seafaring Vessel, you already know beforehand that the ship is going to wreck. But when the author can make you CARE about the fact that the ship will wreck, can make you wish that it wouldn’t wreck even though you already know it’s going to (or can ironically make you GLAD that the ship will wreck, even though you never thought you’d feel that way), can help you to deeply empathize with the complex characters on the ship through their backstories and emotions and motives–then you get something fresh, thought-provoking, and memorable out of the novel. The outcome, or an aspect of the outcome, is predictable, but overall, it isn’t a predictable story.

I look for the same thing in romance. I know the outcome, or an aspect of the outcome, but I want something fresh and thought-provoking along the way.

As far as predictability goes, much the same can be said for many suspense, thriller, and mystery novels, where readers especially like to be surprised. Before you even start the book, you pretty much know the major aspect of the outcome: the good guy is going to catch or put a stop to the bad guy, solve the murder case, prevent the enemy operation from blowing up the ocean, or what have you. In, say, 999 books out of 1,000, no matter how many thrilling car chases there are, how many kidnappers set out to blindfold and tie people up, or how many airplanes spontaneously combust in the sky, you already know that none of those dangers are going to kill the protagonist right smack in the middle of the novel. But when I read a thriller or a suspense or mystery novel, it doesn’t matter if I already know the protagonist will indeed make it out of the burning plane alive and the antagonist will inevitably get caught. I just want something fresh and thought-provoking on the way to seeing the inevitable take place. A predictable outcome, but not a predictable story.

Again, if romance simply isn’t your thing, then it simply isn’t your thing. Nothing wrong with that. But if you’ve considered predictability alone to be the issue, then perhaps it’s had more to do with the overall style or storytelling in the romances you’ve read, and less to do with the inevitable outcomes. Perhaps it’s had more to do with particular books or authors, and whether or not those were the right books and authors for you, and less to do with the romance genre as a whole.

I believe it’s just as possible to write a fresh and unpredictable romance as it is to write a fresh and unpredictable suspense or mystery novel, since it’s not merely about what happens in the end (the guy and girl get together, the detective wins and the murderer loses, etc.) It’s about the journey or process toward that outcome.

Does that make sense? 🙂

 

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Out on a westward journey, a wagon accident has forced Clare’s husband to go back for help, and pregnant Clare is left alone with her four-year-old son, Jacob. When her labor pains begin, Clare leaves the wagon during the night, only to return and find Jacob gone. A passing frontiersman, Jeremiah, offers to help Clare search for her son, but getting the boy back from the Shawnee people who took him will be no simple task in Many Sparrows, a novel by author Lori Benton.

I must say I was gripped early on in this novel. I hadn’t encountered a childbirth scene as harrowing as the one here since the last time I watched Michaela Quinn in labor in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I didn’t remain quite as gripped the further I got into the book, but I hadn’t expected to. Having previously read three other novels by this author, I expected to gradually wade through a dense story and look out for the striking, brilliant parts, especially like the memorable ones in The Pathfinders series.

While this novel isn’t without its own striking moments, I did find the pace too slow at times. I’m used to the “waiting” feeling I’ve also encountered in other stories by this author, and waiting is indeed a theme of this novel. But I got a little weary here and there, waiting for the plot to move forward. Also, though I understood Clare and her plight, I wish I could have liked her more, at least as much as I did Jeremiah.

Nevertheless, I think this novel will be right down the alley of other historical ChristFic fans. And like the author, I’d also recommend readers to check out The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn after reading this, if they haven’t already.

 

Inspiring Love Release Day!

Hope and inspiration in a trio of sweet romances

It’s officially Release Day!
Three of my romance stories are now together in a collection,
Inspiring Love: Three Romantic Reads.

You can find this book in print at the following eStoreAmazon, (in print and for Kindle), Barnes and Noble (in print and for Nook), and as an ebook at Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. The ebook editions are available at a limited time price!