Friday, May 28, 2010

Blog Tour

I've got an ARC of Juliet by Anne Fortier that I'm wanting to send around on a tour. If you're interested email me at cla37619 at gmail dot com or leave me a comment here!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: The Last Christian

Can I just tell you guys how excited I am about this book? I feel like I've read a string of Christian fiction lately that has been somewhat enjoyable, but the same old, same old. Some better than others, but it's all still been done before over and over. Blah. So when Waterbrook/Multnomah sent me The Last Christian, I was pretty excited. I've never read dystopic/futuristic Christian fiction. It's actually original! It hasn't been done a million times over! The entire book was really reminiscent of the Space Trilogy by CS Lewis, but also completely unique. The basic plot is that Christianity completely dies out in America. A child of missionaries in the jungle of Papua New Guinea who hasn't been exposed to any outside cultures emerges when her entire tribe is killed by a mysterious disease. She returns to America and discovers a conspiracy involving a high-tech neuroscience group who has discovered a way to replace the human brain and provide the potential for eternal life - but killing the soul in the process.

Yeah, ok it's a little far-fetched. And there were some writing issues that I think could have been worked on. But I really want to focus on the positive and the fact that someone is doing something new finally. We're off the whole Amish people, orphan train, utopian Christian romance where we clutch our pearls at the thought of premarital sex or alcohol. This author portrays real life and real people who aren't perfect and does it in a completely original story. It's a great book that shows what could happen to Christianity if things continue the way they are now but doesn't sermonize. It doesn't necessarily have a happy ending. I almost passed out when I got to the ending and people didn't become Christians and some of them died. It was believable and did I mention creative?? I'm so excited to see something new in this genre and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the idea of doing something original spreads.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Moby Awards

I haven't seen all of these yet (students keep using the library and keeping me from watching book trailers - what's up with that?) but I love the idea. I really get into the whole idea of book trailers even though I don't get a chance to watch them often because I get online almost exclusively at work. But, hopefully the library will clear out around noon and I'll get a chance to see all of these. Some of the categories look hilarious!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

I have to start by saying that Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is not my typical read. Everyone I know has been raving about it, but I still didn't have any plans to read it. Then I went to the AL Book Festival with my Nestie Besties and not only heard the author read from the book, but also met her and got a signed copy. No I'm not giving it away. So even though paranormal/fantasy YA is TOTALLY not my thing (maybe I should say was not my thing since I've read several lately) I just had to try it because the author is hilarious and so nice and did I say hilarious?

Life and moving conspired to keep me from reading it for a while, but after an exhausting (and super fun) weekend with Crystal and her hubs I decided to give myself a break from unpacking and spend Sunday afternoon reading it. I couldn't put it down. Literally. I read the whole thing from start to finish without putting it down. Poor Luke and Sly were completely neglected. And it was awesome! I'm in love with the characters, especially Jenna. And I never saw the ending coming. Ever. And the book was laugh-out-loud funny. Are you ready for heresy? I liked it more than Harry Potter. I'm not even kidding people. It's about a school for Prodigium (those with magic - shape shifters, warlocks, witches, faeries) who aren't quite cutting it in the real world. The author described it at her reading as "What if you went to Hogwarts and it sucked". Have I said yet that it's hilarious? Of course I also love the Georgia setting and with the humidity this weekend I could totally appreciate her references to the misery of summer in the South.
Thank you Rachel Hawkins for an awesome book!

Book Review: Life, In Spite of Me

If YA Memoir was a genre, it's how i would classify this book. It's the inspiring story of a teenage girl who attempts suicide by laying (lying?) down in front of a train. Instead of being killed, she ends up losing both of her legs. The book tells the story of how she came to a place of suicide and how she has found hope to continue living in spite of a tremendous physical handicap. (Alert!Alert!: She finds hope through Jesus, so if that bothers you this probably shouldn't be your next read). I found the story inspiring and, given her focus on the acceptance of Christ, interesting having just read O Me of Little Faith. Both are memoirs, but the author of Life in Spite of Me has the exact conversion experience that the author of O Me of Little Faith is so skeptical of. So it was interesting to compare the two. My only criticism, and it isn't really a criticism per se, is that it is SUCH an easy read. The author is open and reveals her innermost thoughts and feelings, but it doesn't delve deeply into any particular issues. I would be more likely to recommend this book to younger teens because of the ease in reading. If you don't love reading or you just want a short, inspiring true story, pick this one up! Thanks to the publisher for providing this book for me to review.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book Review: O Me of Little Faith

First of all, how cute is this cover? I probably wouldn't have picked this one out were it not for the cover. I'm really torn over my review for this one. I wouldn't necessarily describe it as a memoir, but more as a collection of the authors thoughts and feelings about his faith - or lack thereof. He brings up doubt as a potentially taboo topic in the church and asks some hard questions about the relationship of science to religion and describes his struggles in finding a way to trust God while keeping his intellectual integrity.

As far as the writing is concerned, the book is flawless. I love the author's voice and I've laughed out loud several times. He has great, funny stories and his style is easy to read. I have however, struggled with this one. The author did not have a positive experience with the church, the Southern Baptist church in particular, growing up. I find him hard to relate to in this area because I grew up in the Southern Baptist church as well, but had only positive experiences. Because I feel like "conservative", "evangelical" and "right-wing" have all become derogatory labels (and I consider all them applicable descriptions of myself), I found myself feeling very defensive as I read the book. However, I think that makes it all the more important for me to hear the author's point of view and determine what truly bothers me: the author's theology or his analysis of my heritage. Be forewarned, I am about to write a book-length post on my theological differences with this book. I recommend it because the writing is fantastic, and the book itself is funny and challenging, but before I can recommend it, I have to give my disclaimer that there are a lot of theological assumptions that I strongly disagree with.

I think I've determined that my only major issue with the book is the over-simplification of Scripture and of conservative Christianity. For example, in one chapter the author describes his problems reading the book of Job, specifically the part where God gives Satan permission to test Job. The author believes that this shows that God is in charge of Satan, therefore, Satan must be on God's side, therefore the Bible contradicts itself. In his analysis it can't be both ways. But just because my boss at work tells me what to do and I obey doesn't mean we are always on the same side. It's an issue of authority.

The entire issue of faith itself is treated the same way. In the author's opinion, a person's response to doubt is to either hide your head in the sand or become an atheist/agnostic. I've struggled with doubts about my salvation, much like the author has. But I think that faith is a choice, not a feeling. So I can feel like I'm not saved/God doesn't exist/God isn't loving/etc and choose with my mind to believe anyway. I really want to mail the author a copy of Faith Is Not A Feeling by Ney Bailey. That book revolutionized the way I think about faith and how it isn't an emotional response, it's a choice that you make. You can always choose to believe despite what your emotions are saying - like the father in Mark 9:24 who tells Jesus "I do believe; help my unbelief". It's something I've prayed over and over - and I don't think it's ignoring the issue or putting my head in the sand.

Finally, I feel like I have to point out that I completely disagree with the author's opinion that people overstate coincidence in the name of God. He mentions people who feel like God speaks to them every day in a tone of disbelief, but I know those people. He mentions worship songs that are so trite that God wouldn't want to claim them - I can't get on board with that. He talks about how feeling God's presence is an emotional response to music in worship many times - so what if it is? If a group of people are in the room loving Jesus and praising him, even if the lyrics are stupid and the worship leader is "traditional", does that really change the fact that I'm worshipping? I say no.

So anyway, go read the book and when you have, tell me what you think. I'd love to hear other people's opinions of the theological questions raised as well as the author's style and sense of humor. Even if I don't agree with some of the author's ideas, I think this is a great book to use in starting a discussion on topics that are very relevant for the church today and that must be addressed by all of us conservative, evangelical, right-wingers if we want to be taken seriously on an intellectual and cultural level.
Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book.
Find more information at or on Amazon.
See more reviews by bloggers here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Book Review: Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann

Ok, for the most part I really enjoyed this book. Quick summary: small town police chief and his old flame try to solve a mystery surrounding mutilated animals found in the woods. The premise was good and I liked the characters. My favorite parts were some of the "taboos" in Christian fiction that the author was able to break away from. Her characters are real people - they aren't perfect - and they live like human beings: the drink, sleep together, make mistakes. The writer also doesn't shy away from describing acts of violence or using what a lot of Christian suspense novels would shy away from, which makes it more interesting.

A few flaws I feel compelled to point out:

The writing isn't spectacular and the dialogue isn't always believable.
Too many subplots.
Predictable resolution - I knew from the beginning "who done it".

Basically it's a step in the right direction for Christian suspense fiction, but it hasn't arrived yet. I'm still waiting for a suspense author to blow me out of the water in the same way Stephen King has, but the real positive in this novel is that the characters aren't Christian cut-outs who have no issues. They struggle with their prayers, relationships with God, and don't always fit the conservative Christian mold, which was refreshing.

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me the book - this is an author I'll continue to follow and see if she improves with time.

Here's a link to a sneak peek:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Because I Have To Brag

Despite my somewhat half-hearted efforts this semester...I pulled off a 4.0! Only four classes left before I'm an official MSLIS degree holder!

Bridegrooms Winner!

Keep meaning to post this and forgetting - Kate you are the winner of the Bridegrooms giveaway! Email me your address or reply to this post with your email address and I'll put it in the mail!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Literary Houses

I've been meaning to do this post since last week, but wouldn't you know, I got busy with life and never got around to it. Over the weekend we went to Arkansas to visit the in-laws, see my sister graduate, and help her move back where she belongs - home with us! Not literally in our home, but close enough that I can see that baby sister any time I want. I'm beyond thrilled! So there's my excuse...on to the homes:

The Gothics:

The House of Seven Gables - featured in the book of the same name by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This picture is of the actual house itself in Salem, MA. The book centers around a curse placed on the house and the family who inhabits it as a result of their ancestral involvement in the Salem Witch Trials.

Hill House, a movie version, from the book The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Another haunted house, this one being studied by four individuals, one of whom has a connection to the house. The house itself is often considered the fifth character.
Manderly, as imagined by Hitchcock in his movie version of the classic by Daphne du Maurier. Another home that may or may not be haunted plays a large role in this psychological thriller about a new wife who can't seem to escape the ghost of her new husband's previous wife.
Other Gothic Homes:

The House of Usher - featured in "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe

The Castle of Otranto - features in the book by the same name by Horace Walpole

Thrushcross Grange - setting for Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Thornfield - where the madwoman is housed in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Overlook Hotel - scene of paranormal horror in The Shining by Stephen King

There are so many more, not just gothic novels, but houses in completely different genres of literature. I'll be posting on this for a while.

Question for today: which houses have I missed? What's your favorite gothic literary home?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Book Review: Radical by David Platt

This is a two for the price of one review: Radical and The Radical Question, both by David Platt. The awesome thing is that even though I'm being selfish and keeping my copy because it's one I'll read again, you can request a copy of The Radical Question and Waterbrook-Multnomah will send it to you free! See the link in the post below - and I'm not even kidding DO IT! It will change how you think and feel about church and life and the whole idea of the "American Dream".

I've always been bothered by the whole prosperity gospel - if you pray and tithe, God will give you material things. I'm even bothered by the idea that God wants us to be happy. I think God desires our obedience and our holiness a lot more than he desires our happiness. Of course He loves us and what He has for us will always bring us joy, but if you think about Christians in the persecuted church, you realize that they aren't always "happy". Many of them have lost everything they have and some are in prison, tortured, or killed for choosing Christ. Not sure how happy that makes them and they certainly aren't getting all those Jabez blessings now are they? And that is what this book is all about. Do we pray for material, earthly blessings and choose to sit in our nice comfortable sanctuaries while people around us are living in poverty, or do we follow the Christ of the Bible and deny everything else to follow Him.

I know this is a lot more religion than many people are comfortable with, but let me just tell you that this book is life changing. Having just bought a new house and wanting to buy everything I can get my hands on to fill that new house, this book is challenging me in a lot of very uncomfortable ways. But ways that I think are going to make my life better. And the awesome part of it is that the second book, The Radical Question, leads you to make some decisions based on what's taught in the book.

As far as my review itself, I hope to post a little bit more tonight. I haven't finished yet, but that is my plan for the car trip we're taking to Arkansas today. If I have internet tonight I'll publish my thoughts on completing the book. But I can already tell you from the first half that I want you to read it, but only if you are brave. If you don't want to be challenged to make radical life changes, this may not be the book for you. But if you're sold out on the idea of loving your neighbor, this book is going to teach you how!

PS: Waterbrook gave me this book, I have to write that so the FTC people don't get all up in my business.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Quick Post

I'm going to come back later and post about some literary houses, but for now I just want to stick up a few links. The first is a giveaway from Waterbrook-Multnomah. They sent me a copy of Radical by David Platt, which I hope to finish tonight and will be reviewing tomorrow. They're offering a copy of the companion book The Radical Question for free to anyone who requests a copy. Request it here:

I haven't finished the book yet, but so far it is excellent. It's a frank examination of the American church's lifestyle and how it fits (or doesn't fit) the example set by Christ. It answers, or at least addresses, some of the hard questions about self-denial and taking up your cross (to use a very churchy phrase).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cover Love Wednesday

I've basically given up on this as a meme, since I don't even do it weekly myself, so I'm thinking I'll stick to using it as a feature that I do when I get a chance. Since I've been spending every spare second working on the house, enjoy these covers that I love which feature homes. And tomorrow I'll be posting about some significant literary houses!

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Update

April has been a slow book month because of moving, but I'm still trucking along. Here's my list of books read:

Kissing Dead Girls by Daphne Gottlieb (2/5)

Princess: You Know Who You Are (3/5)

It (5/5)

Forget Me Not (2/5)

House Rules (4/5)

Shiver (5/5)

Hate List (4/5)

Books read this year: 53
Pages read this month: 3175

Tomorrow or later tonight I hope to publish my review of Hate List as well as the winner of my Bachelor's giveaway!
Pages read this year: 15933