Category Archives: Reading

Fifty, Though Sluggish – Updated Review

19. The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young – I had heard a lot about this book going into it, how it would make me cry, and rejoice, and learn, and be made aware. It did not make me cry (I wanted to, but the tears wouldn’t flow), but I was amazed at some of the truths in this book. It was simply written – I confess, I expected something poignant and poetically moving – but that makes its message stand out even more clearly without a lot of hoopla and unnecessary eloquence.

It’s about a man named Mack whose seven-year-old daughter is abducted. They find evidence of her brutal murder in an abandoned shack in the woods, and years later, he is mysteriously invited back to that shack by supposedly God. Too curious (and angry at the note-writer and God as well) to rationally ignore the note, he goes to the shack and, well, encounters God. It’s a brilliant devotional book without being one, a peek into God’s heart and desires for His creation (much like The Screwtape Letters).

UPDATE: I feel the need to go in-depth of my review. I read this review and it made me realize how misleading The Shack can be for non-believers, or for new believers who are still learning the foundation of Christianity.

This is a really, really good review for someone who wants to get to the nitty-gritty of theology. I can see what the author is saying, and agree with many of his points. In fact, one of my biggest gripes about the book was when Papa (God) told Mack that He never left Jesus when He died on the cross. In fact, God DID leave and had literally FORSAKEN Jesus on the cross. The fellowship Jesus had enjoyed for His entire human life (thirty-plus years) was broken; when He had walked in the light so perfectly, suddenly, He was plunged in complete & utter darkness. God may not have wanted to leave – He had to. He absolutely cannot go against His holy nature and remain where sin is prevalent, no matter how much He wanted to, no matter how desperately Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” That is what made Jesus’ sacrifice NECESSARY. Otherwise, the cross would have been just a show – you can read more about that in an earlier blog.

I think you have to be in a certain place spiritually speaking to glean from this book some of the good stuff about God’s love and persistence. I don’t think I would actually recommend this book to a non-believer, or anyone less familiar with Christianity, just because there is so much more important foundational things the book leaves out (namely, the tenets of Christianity and the very narrow path to Heaven).

I think it’s ultimately a feel-good book for believers who have a very one-sided view of God. It helps Christians realize less of an authoritative figure of God and more of a loving, involved God. One of my favorite quotes from the old Jars of Clay song, Love Song for a Savior, goes: “Seems too easy to call You Savior; not close enough to call You God.” That may be why the book speaks so profoundly to some Christians and leaves some Christians dry – the latter may have already experienced and encountered THAT God and are offended by its lack of spiritual depth.

For me, however, I was really refreshed with this desperate God. Good stuff.

So to keep pace, I’ll have to read six more books by the end of June to be at the half-way point all around. My next post will be brimming with pictures of our cruise. Andele!

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Fifty – Chicklit; UPDATE

Fun!

17. Megan Crane’s English as a Second Language: There’s something vacantly delicious about chick-lit. The only thing I can say about it is, it’s fun to read, thoroughly predictable, and usually has it’s laugh-out-loud moments. At least this one was set in England and had fun Anglican phrases like, “let’s get pissed (drunk)” and “bug off” and “well, aren’t you a daft bloke?”

18. Charlaine Harris, Dead in Dallas: Okay, I’m over these Sookie Stackhouse novels. They’re lame and disjointed and kind of embarrassing to admit that I read them. The only consolation I have is that I know someone who has read more than me in the series and we sit around and joke about them and their awfulness, then wistfully plan our opus to get rich and famous, because seriously, if this lady can do it, I can do it. Although, I’ve decided vampire love is overplayed. Maybe I’ll reinvent human-goblin love. Throw in a few zombies and/or the boogey man. What’s he doing lately?

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Closer to Fifty – Update

15. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris – A friend of mine suggested this new series (well, not so much “series,” as “bunch of books starring the same characters” – I think each novella can stand on its own) about a telepathic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse. This first installment, she falls in love with, you guessed it, a vampire. Not much of a goth-reader, and yet here I am, starting another vampire love saga. I liked the first one okay, and liked that the books are only about five bucks each at Target. Harris writes cleanly and efficiently, which is to say I don’t get enough of her characters to care very much, and the story fits neatly in about two hundred pages. Her Sookie Stackhouse books are also the basis for HBO’s True Blood series, which I hear is pretty fantastic. I’m not actually sure if I’m going to get anymore, unless I come across the next one during my next library expedition.

UPDATE:
16. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky – I’m going to count this on my list to fifty, even though I technically re-read it. I read it once in high school as a reading assignment, and like all assigned reading, I didn’t actually read it all the way through and probably studied the Cliffs Notes more thoroughly. After reading it again, I wish I had paid more attention back when I had the chance to discuss and dissect it as a student. Of course, nothing becomes a cult classic for just being fun to read. It’s intelligent, it’s funny, poignant, relevant, and incredibly sad. These are the types of books that truly inspire.

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Fifty, With an Unfair Domination

To recap:

1. The Guy Not Taken, Jennifer Weiner
2. Sundays at Tiffany’s, James Patterson
3. Mirror, Mirror, Gregory Maguire
4. Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, Ann Rice
5. The Centurion’s Wife, Davis Bunne & Janette Oke
6. The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry
7. Gods Behaving Badly, Marie Phillips
8. The Last Queen, C.W. Gortner
9. Train to Trieste, Domnica Radulescu

10. Sideways, Rex Pickett – If you liked the movie, you really will like the book. Surprisingly, the movie doesn’t deviate too far from the book, and a lot of the happenings (that I can remember) follow pretty accurately. It makes me want to become a wine connoisseur, and after reading it, I can at least be one vicariously. There is no sense of overkill when it comes down to the drunken debauchery that wine, of all things, contributes to. After all, the book is about a week-long adult version of spring break. Alcohol? Check (granted, it’s Pinot Noir). Casual sex? Check – with a fantastic comedic slice. Drunk dialing? In the worst possible way. Throw in a little wart hog hunting, and you’ve got one fun read.

11-14. The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer – (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, & Breaking Dawn) Sorry. I’m apologizing ahead of time. Just to make things clear, I don’t compare her writing to J.K. Rowling’s – JK is undeniably more talented. (Stephen King actually said that the only difference between Meyer & Rowling was that Rowling can actually write.) But the fan-demonium is the same between the two series. Meyer created a world that everyone wants to get lost in, and where every girl wants to find her Edward. Teen romance, absolutely, but still delicious to read. And another perk to the books is the movie’s soundtrack. Killer music…Muse, Mutemath, Debussy (I know, right?!), Iron & Wine, a new iPod addition quickly becoming a regular (scooch over, Bebo)…

Quick sidenote – for an introduction to the fabulously mellow Iron & Wine, check out “Passing Afternoon,” or the one found on the Twilight soundtrack, “Flightless Bird, American Mouth.” You won’t be disappointed. They have a very Nick Drake-type vibe, with much more depth musically-speaking. They make me want to drive with the windows down at midnight.

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Weekend Updates

Shoot. I finished Eclipse last night, and that means I only have one more left, Breaking Dawn. Judging by its thickness, it’s probably about seven hundred pages, but that’s not really a comfort.

You’d think the whole vampire-mortal love-eat relationship was tired and outplayed, but these books more than adequately pull it off. Not that I have much to compare it to, not really being a goth-style reader myself. But alas, when I find myself thinking about what will happen next while trying to do something else productive (and most often necessary), you know the book has got to be something amazing.

So while the Twilight books have been dominating my reading list (and blog…sorry, folks), Hubs has been field calling in south Alabama. He came home late last night, and now our leetle family is complete again. I wonder how he’d feel when I tell him I spent the whole weekend with another man. Granted, he was buried in a book (a few books, to be technical). The best part about Hubs’ field calling is the day off afterward – so we’ll be spending the whole day together (and what a fantastic day we’re going to be having weather-wise. I love you, Spring!)

Tomorrow Bug has his EEG, so we will be keeping him home today. The sleep-deprivation begins…we’re going to try and let him take a later nap today (even though he woke up early this morning) to stretch out the evening, so he won’t be quite so worn out by nine o’clock. We’re going to have to stock the fridge with Jell-o, juice and popsicles (hah! When I typed that first, I typed too fast and wrote “poopsicles!” I am hilARious) since he will also have to be on a liquid diet until two hours before the test. I am not looking forward to this – it will be hard, and I have a profound feeling it will be unnecessary.

And another thing haunting me is that this Friday will mark seven weeks from his last episode. There were exactly seven weeks between his first two episodes. I know it seems silly and medically retarded to think these episodes are on a calendar, but I’ll be able to breathe a little easier Saturday. But only slightly. Just to give you an idea of what it’s like, it’s like a mathematical number line (sorry, I’m a mathematician at heart) with each integer tick mark being another episode. No matter how many infinitesimal decimals fit between those tick marks, each sweet day that nothing happens just brings us closer to the day it inevitably will. Hopefully with less severity, and definitely with more mental preparedness as parents, but another one nonetheless.

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More Than Slightly Pathetic, but Fully Aware

Of course, of course, I finished the second installment of the series, New Moon. I think I finally went to sleep at five in the morning. And apparently the books weren’t enough to sedate my ever-growing literary crush (on the books, not the boys), because I also watched Twilight on Comcast last night. (I’m always, always going to be partial to the text versions, so of course the movie didn’t quite hold up. That didn’t stop me from Googling all the main characters, though.)

I can see why these books are so popular, and am slightly hesitant to finish the series. It’s Harry Potter all over again. (Good-bye, old friend!)

I have put myself on a Twilight restriction for the rest of the day, until the housework gets done. Since I’m in-between novels (next up: Eclipse), I can actually refrain for the moment. Unfortunately, since tomorrow is a work day, no five a.m. bed times for this one.

So that puts me currently up to twelve for the year – only thirty-eight more in eight months’ time. See you at the finish line!

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Curse You, Perry the Platypus.

And by “Perry the Platypus,” I really meant E. (Unfortunately for most of the adults in my life, Disney channel sitcoms frequently color my expressions these days. It’s the price of being a mom, I guess.)

By my best friend E’s hand, I have unwittingly joined the Twilight cult, and as embarrassed as I am by this, I stayed up almost the entire night reading the first installment in one go. And adding to that humility (I must be a masochist with these confessions), I actually just took an inconvenient trip to Target for the rest of the books under the pretense that Bug needed more socks.  And finally, because why stop there? I am eagerly awaiting Bug’s bedtime so I can curl up on the couch with Robert Pattinson on Comcast onDemand. I have reduced to a thirteen-year-old girl, the way I’m anticipating reading the rest of the novels like it’s prom night.

So that ups my book count to ten for the year. No, make that eleven, because before my Twilight crush, I read Sideways. Which I loved and which I will properly synopsize later, because unfortunately for Rex Pickett, his brilliance is forgettable right now. Sorry, Homes. (It’s too bad; I wish someone out there could appreciate my wit. Just then. Back up. Yep, right about there.)

Ah, hell, let’s just go ahead and make the final count for the weekend fourteen, because there are four books in the Twilight saga, and, honey, I’m just getting started.

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Fifty and I’m Not Lame: UPDATE x2

7. Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips – Too fun to read. If you like Greek mythology with all the fun the gods had in Olympia, this will absolutely crash that party. Phillips sticks the main gods in modern-day London and chaos ensues. Apollo, god of the Sun, makes his debut as a TV psychic; Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, makes her living as a phone sex operator; Zeus has reduced to the crazy invalid in the attic. My personal favorite is Eros (commonly, Cupid), who is a born-again Christian. SoFun.

8. The Last Queen, by C.W. Gortner – I’m starting to get hooked on these historical fiction novels. This one is about Juana la Loca, or Queen Juana the Mad, heiress to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. It’s told from her perspective (and probably with a lot of liberties taken), but has piqued my interest in this little-known Queen who, despite being held prisoner by her husband, Archduke Philip of Flanders, and later by her father, kept her title safe and paved the way for her children to inherit the throne of Spain. What this novel educated me on was the politics of Spain during the fragile time of colonization. Queen Isabella was actually the hierarchy, and Ferdinand was in fact merely governor of Aragon, a lesser kingdom. Their marriage fused together what is now Spain, and Isabella’s cunning betrothels of her five children led to alliances across medieval Europe: Portugal, Austria, England…very cool.

9. Train to Trieste, by Domnica Radulescu – It was almost short of too laborious to read. Her prose is elegant and astonishing, but it seemed like there wasn’t quite enough…I don’t know what it is, because the plot was good (about a Romanian refugee who finds herself in America) and you can tell the author writes from experience. But it was lacking something, maybe an empathetic narrator. I couldn’t quite bring myself to care that much about her, but aside from that, the author is obviously very talented in forming words and pictures.

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Fitty, Now With Brilliant Updates.

Shut it, Jen, don’t be a hater.

1-4: See previous posts.

5: The Centurion’s Wife, Davis Bunn/Janette Oke – This was another Christian historical fiction, which was completely accidental. I didn’t know what it was actually about, save for a centurion and, well, his wife. (I tend to actually judge books by their covers when choosing reading material.) This one is set in the time immediately after the crucifixion. It follows the story of two people, Leah & Alban, who are betrothed. Alban is a Roman soldier who, under Pilate’s orders, tries to discover what happened to Jesus’ body, and whether the Judeans are a threat to Rome. Leah, meanwhile, serves Pilate’s wife, who suffers from nightmares because of the crucifixion, and Pilate’s role in it. Leah is also on orders to find out what happened, in order to try and cure her mistress. It somehow turns into a love story, without being gross. So anyway, loved it, and have decided I would totally be cut out for ancient-age romance.

Last one in my library book posse: The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry.

UPDATE (because I’m getting lazy) – 6: The Lace Reader = Brilliance. I read it in one night, foregoing sleep until 4AM. I can’t say too much about it, because it’s pretty impossible to explain, and when I tried to summarize it for Hubs, he said, “Yawn.”

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50: Update

1. The Guy Not Taken, Jennifer Weiner
2. Sundays at Tiffany’s, James Patterson
3. Mirror Mirror, Gregory Maguire

4. Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, Anne Rice: spectacular. It is actually the second book in this series, the first being Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, which I read maybe two years ago or so. I don’t know what her persuasion is religiously, but her depiction of Jesus as a man is amazing to get swept up into. Both novels are written in first-person, narrated by Jesus, called Yeshua, and somehow she has been able to capture a small taste of how He was fully God and fully man at the same time. It was splendid to get caught up in, and while it is fiction, she has based these novels on the Gospels and Gospel-based encyclopedias. It was satisfying.

Next up: The Centurion’s Wife, Davis Bunn & Janette Oke.

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