August 24, 2013

City of Bones

Posted in Blogging, Book Reviews, Fantasy, Movie Reviews tagged , , , at 9:21 pm by catsinboxes

I might not be blogging here, but I am doing some work over at Redeemed Reader. Here’s my latest post: a movie review of City of Bones. If you aren’t familiar with this fantasy series, I can’t say that you are missing out, but the movie was quite fun!

http://www.redeemedreader.com/2013/08/city-of-bones-movie-review/

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June 10, 2013

Mention it Monday, Mississippi Version

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Fantasy, Favorite Quotes, Fiction, Freebies, Just Life, Theology/Christian life, Travel at 10:10 am by catsinboxes

Greetings from Mississippi!

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Though to be more accurate, it looks a bit more like this today:

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I woke up this morning to thunder rumbling and pretty soon a torrential downpour was ensuring that 1) I didn’t take the dog out for a walk and 2) Bible time on the porch was out of the question!

I must admit that I had hoped to do more blogging on this vacation, but that is not how it worked out, and that’s okay. Still, no reason I can’t do some before I head home. So, here’s another Mention-it Monday!

Red to Black -by Alex Dryen

After reading World Magazine’s review of Dryden’s latest novel, I checked out all three of his books to date and started reading the first. I’m not usually one to read thrillers; Joel Rosenburg’s Last Jihad and Last Days are the extent of my reading in this genre! Still, having just travelled to Eastern Europe, I was intrigued by the Russian side of this novel. So, I started to read. And I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a thriller, but it’s also a fascinating look at modern Russia that is written by an author who knows his facts. The book is told in a series of flashbacks which I normally find annoying, but this time it absolutely worked! The story was engaging and kept me interested and reading. The main storyteller, Anna, –a Russian KGB agent caught up in an intricate plot involving a British spy– is interesting and well-developed. What’s more, she is likable, and you definitely find yourself pulling for her! There is occasional language, but I appreciated the fact that it was used sparingly and wasn’t gratuitous. There are also some sexual references: the KGB is happy to use Anna’s sexuality in getting what they want, but nothing was explicit. All in all, it was quite a fun book, and I look forward to reading more by Alex Dryden.

Merlin’s Blade -by Robert Treskillard

I won’t say much here because this book deserves a whole review and post in itself. In fact, I probably will be reviewing it for Redeemed Reader this summer. I started this book on the plane, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Arthurian aficionados, you should read this! Right now it’s only $2.99, Kindle version, on Amazon. What’s it about? I love how the cover puts it:

Before the Round Table . . . Before Arthur was Crowned . . . There was Merlin.

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The Explicit Gospel -by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson

This is my theological vacation read, and so far, I haven’t made much progress though I have enjoyed everything that I’ve read.  Having heard Matt Chandler speak, I appreciate that his unique voice is very clear in this book.  Chandler is passionate about the gospel; that is very evident.  From a mere evangelistic point, I love the title of this book.  It’s eye-catching: a good book to read at the airport!  (If you’re like me, you do your best, via casual glances, to figure out what your fellow passengers are reading . . . This title is provocative enough to get more than one glance.  They’re reading the explicit what???)  As it happens, The Explicit Gospel is Christian Audio’s free audiobook of the month, so I might be finishing it via audiobook.  If you’re looking for a theological read or audiobook this summer, I’d highly recommend this.  (And you can get the audiobook for free this month, remember!)  In closing, here is a quote from The Explicit Gospel that I quite enjoyed and is very applicable to this post:

How deep is the wisdom and the knowledge of God?  God knows every word in every language in every sentence in every paragraph in every chapter of every book ever written.

May 13, 2013

Monday . . .. mmmmmm?

Posted in Blogging, Books, Fantasy, Just Life, Poetry tagged at 10:16 am by catsinboxes

Brainstorming for blog posts is not recommended,

while lying in bed –sleep apprehended.

Tomorrow is Monday, Monday what?

I need an m-word that just hits the spot!

Mundane . . . morning . . . mayhem . . .

none good though some are true.

Alliteration’s clever but can be hard to do!

I went to sleep without a satisfactory answer, but it came to me this morning after my coffee.  (Of course, much better timing!) It was perfect! I will reveal it in a moment, but first a quick note.  While I have been away from blogging, I certainly haven’t been away from writing. I think I’ve written and brainstormed more recently than I have in a long time. I’ve written letters, emails, newsletters for Redeemed Reader, a book review, journal entries, story ideas, story snippets,
and –truthfully– quite a lot of blog ideas. And now, my friends, you will receive the fruit of my labors on the first . . .

Mention it Monday!

What to mention? Books, of course! I read a couple recently that I have wanted to highlight and, incidentally, the first both begins with an ‘M’ and was written by an author whose last name is also ‘M.’ (I am sorry, I’m just seeing ‘m’s all over the place this morning!) True to this blog post, the following are not reviews but mere mentions. (Hah, hah! Another allusion, oh I’m bad this morning!)

The Moorchildby Eloise Jarvis McGraw 

After reviewing Mara, Daughter of the Nile for Redeemed Reader, I decided to read another of McGraw’s books that I had often seen but never read. The Moorchild, written in 1996, won a Newbery Honor, so it is not lacking in appreciation from the children’s literature community.  I enjoyed it –I love bringing children’s books with me when I travel; they are perfect airplane reading material! The story was enjoyable. It’s fantasy, and I am used to historical fiction from McGraw, so this was a bit different. It is very well-written, but after reading the gushing commendations on the back cover, I wonder how much of an agenda was behind it.  Saaski is caught between two worlds: the world of the moor and the fairyfolk, and the world of the superstitious villagers.  I feel like there is symbolism going on, and I’d like to dig deeper at some point, figuring out what McGraw believed and how it influenced The Moorchild.

The Emerald Atlas —by John Stephens

I first read about this at Redeemed Reader. A look at Amazon’s sample left me intrigued; I
tracked it down at Barnes and Noble and spent about 5 minutes with my nose between the pages, but I just was too cheap to buy it! Retrospectively, I am glad I didn’t. My chance to read The Emerald Atlas came after it appeared at our library, and I remembered to look for it. I brought it on the same trip as The Moorchild, and as airport reading material, it served me very well. It is a thick book, think Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart trilogy, so it did keep me occupied! (Especially thanks to airport delays; imagine getting up at 4 something in the morning, only to get to the airport, find delays, and spend several hours on the tarmac waiting for weather to clear in Chicago.  . . .  Oh the joys of travel!) While definitely entertaining, I would say that The Emerald Atlas is a bit dark for younger readers.  Personally, I really didn’t like the way time traveling worked out; it wasn’t logical in my opinion. The characters are interesting and likeable but sometimes their decisions are implausible and their thinking difficult to understand. There’s a sequel (I believe it will be a trilogy), but I am not itching to read it. Still, I might given the chance and another airplane flight.

And that, my dear readers, is the first of –hopefully– many more Mention it Mondays!

May 24, 2010

Thoughts on a book

Posted in Books, Fantasy at 10:14 pm by catsinboxes

My room has become quite wild as of late, but before I spend most of my evening cleaning, I want to write down a few thoughts about a book I just finished two nights ago.  I know, you’re thinking: Hey, wait a minute!  What about that Korean War post that was supposed to be three afternoons ago and what happens to that horrible princess?  I want to see some more poodles chucked out of windows!

Well, not quite that.  I suppose I’m the only one who takes delight in thinking up creative ways of knocking off toy poodles.  In answer to your thoughts though, I do admit I have other things to do.  At the same time, I believe that a fun blog is a hodge-podge of this and that and is created at the writer’s whim.  So, while I do promise I will duly write about Korea and additional poodle demises my fairytale, at the moment I will write about a book.

With all that said, this isn’t meant to be a book review.  Rather, it is some musings on a particular series, the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke.  I finished the third book, Inkdeath, two nights ago, and I’m going to create a sort of dialogue about the book.

What interested you in the series? Well, I first heard of them when I read World Magazine’s movie review of the the first novel, Inkheart.  The reviewer wasn’t very enthusiastic about the movie but referenced with enjoyment the book.  I love fairytales and fantasy, but there are not many recent, good fantasy novels.  So, I mentally made note of Inkheart.  It was mentioned again in a conversation, and shortly afterward I came upon the first book at our library booksale.  I read it and really enjoyed it.  Some time between then and now, I read the second book, Inkspell.  Then, finally, I read the third.

Okay, nice history, but what is it about and why all the ink??? Well, it takes place in our contemporary world and also in another world dubbed “Inkworld” by Meggie Folchart, the story’s heroine.  Meggie’s family finds themselves increasingly drawn into the affairs of Inkworld.  I’m not going to say anymore about the storyline here; It’s thoroughly unpredictable, and I don’t want to spoil anything.  I really enjoyed that because I never knew what twist the story would take.  Also, despite several hundred pages (you could knock someone out if you dropped this volume out of a second-story window), the plot never lagged.

What sort of person would enjoy it; would I? Ah, that’s the tricky part.  The best way I can compare it, is to a piece of realistic medieval historical fiction.  Inkworld, in many ways, is medieval.  It’s magical, but poverty and dirt and sweat are all very real.

Morality is not an emphasized point or strength.  And, several remarks along that line are made that would make me classify this as a book for older teens or adults.  At the same time, in a Robin Hood sense, there are good guys v. bad guys.  And boy, are the bad guys bad; Funke can create quite the villain.  You might say that this is a Dickensian sort of fantasy.  A rambling fantasy world with all sorts of twists and turns, peopled with a whole host of characters.  And a warning, there is some profanity and “damn’s.”  Eleanor, a bristling middle-aged woman, is the prime culprit of this offense.

All right, I’m sort of interested, but you do have some warnings.  If I accept those, why should I read this? If you love fantasy, you will love the world that Cornelia Funke has created.  Her writing style is a rich, descriptive narrative (and this book is translated from the German!).  Also, Funke has invented all sorts of interesting creatures; blue fairies that nest in the eaves, glass men that act as assistants to scribes, to name only a few.  Then, you might say as icing on the cake, there is a wonderful quote from some book or poem at the start of each chapter.  They are very well chosen to correspond with the chapter itself.  That said, there were a few rather sacrilegious ones towards the end of Inkdeath.  (Quotes about God cleaning his workshop and finding half-created things he had forgotten about; I don’t think so!)

If you don’t mind my “warnings”, prepare to lose yourself in the pages of Cornelia Funke’s series; it really is a delightful experience.

P.S.  All right, what do you think?  Did you like this?  Would you mind commenting your thoughts?  I know there are some people out there reading this!