I detest hipsters, pretentious jerks, and the creeps of the world just as much as anyone else. However, I couldn't get past the rather awful writing i...moreI detest hipsters, pretentious jerks, and the creeps of the world just as much as anyone else. However, I couldn't get past the rather awful writing in this book. I got to page 50, and I just had to give up. There were so many childish quips, unintelligible rants, and unnecessary parenthetical in nearly ever paragraph. I'm chalking this one up as "couldn't be arsed to finish" despite the fact that there may have been some decent thoughts within the commentary on American society.(less)
Those that know me know that I'm eternally fascinated with little things in human culture. The biggest thing about human culture that has always fasci...moreThose that know me know that I'm eternally fascinated with little things in human culture. The biggest thing about human culture that has always fascinated me is faith. I picked up this book as a first read from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group because I'm interested to see why people turn to fundamentalism in anything, what drives them away, and how they heal. This book was read with this perspective and the review written with this in mind.
Summary This is the story of Elizabeth Esther's childhood through young adulthood within The Assembly. Elizabeth details the emotional, physical and spiritual abuse she grew up with, how it affected her then, and how it affects her now.
Elizabeth's raw feelings come through from page one when she opens with a street preaching scene at the age of 9, and relates how fundamentalists view heckling -- a prize to be won in order to earn the love of their parents and the love of their god. She takes you through this emotional train-wreck through trainings in hyper-survivalism in case of the end of the world, irrational views on disciplining children, and even more irrational views on human roles within the world. Through all this, you sense that you are hearing the thoughts of a child who was stripped of their childhood, only to have it replaced with beatings and brainwashings. While this could be anyone's story, it's special because Elizabeth is the granddaughter of the founder of The Assembly. The story shows how they treat their own even worse than an outsider as to not show favouritism.
Elizabeth, like few others in any cult movement, retained the ability to have an open mind and question silently while obeying a majority of the rules. This was her strength for being able to eventually see a way to her way out. She did not see her way out for herself, though, but rather her children. She would not break her own children the way that she was broken as a child. This part of the book begins an even more touching memoir of what it takes to breaking the cycle of abuse. It also begins a story of daily struggles and daily healing, as well as the backsliding that comes with it.
This is only the beginning of Elizabeth's story, though. There are more books to come on how to heal coming from her. I think those will be just as intriguing, though not as accessible to the pop culture that loves to read about dirty laundry.
Thoughts Tales of abuse stemming from the cultural shift is nothing new. There were lots of cults, lots of hidden secrets, and lots of manipulation and double standards. Each tale coming from these experiences shows the power of a cult, and the abundance of people willing to fall for the schemes in order to feel something. That something could be spiritual, emotional, or even mental; however, the fact that these cults fall apart under their own megalomaniac and egotistical designs is always at the end of the story. It's sad, really, that nothing can be done to prevent people from falling into these abusive traps. Humans, after all, will always fall into some trap or another in search of something that fulfils them when they are at their weakest and most desperate.
I'm happy that Elizabeth has found a sense of peace in her own way. I may not understand the need to replace one form of organised religion with another, but at least it makes her feel more complete. She is doing what it takes to heal in her own way so she completely breaks the anxiety-driven way of The Assembly, the abusive cycle, and finds hope. And that's what matters.
Disclaimer I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I am under no obligation to write a positive review, just an honest one.(less)
Who the hell doesn't love an archaeological fiction about aliens?! Seriously. Archaeology, space, a mystery that asks, "What happened to the aliens th...moreWho the hell doesn't love an archaeological fiction about aliens?! Seriously. Archaeology, space, a mystery that asks, "What happened to the aliens that were here?"
Summary The Engines of God is a strange book that combines archaeology, space, and a modern apocalyptic Earth. Earth is in shambles with the same ol' tragedy that we over extended and over used our resources, thus destroying the earth. Naturally the only recourse was to find a different planet to move to. While the discoveries were rolling, somehow space travel had advanced to the point Star Trek may have even gone "OK now, that's a little far fetched." After all, they had space suits that seemed like harnesses they could just toss on and be impervious to everything. No real space suit needed.
Despite of that, they found archaeology on different worlds, and thus a curiosity was born and a mystery that drove intellectuals to make stupid decisions. It got a little Indiana Jones-esque once in a great while, but other than that it was very slow going.
In the end they found more mysterious things floating out in space, such as giant organic telescope on the edge of the void, three planets with life, and some weird gas that hates cubical objects with a passion, and thus destroys cities. (Don't worry, Hobbiton will survive, but nothing else will...)
Characters What to say about the characters. They were lack lustre for the most part, though there was a brief bit of character building with some of the main characters. It wasn't much to write home about. Even the quintessential plucky heroine was, uh, less than plucky.
I already forgot their names, what they did, and how they affected the storyline.
Summary While I don't think I could bring myself to recommend this book to anyone other than as a campy archaeological fiction book, I did enjoy it. Mostly because as soon as I realised it was an archaeological fiction book, I put it into the same category as "campy" and thus began to enjoy it. It's not for everyone though as it's achingly slow in most places due to its complex intellectual nature, and where it starts to speed up, it's still not that engaging.(less)
Summary Johannes Cabal is an unimaginative necromancer. He's dedicated to science and defeating death, and he will let nothing stand in his way. Not ev...moreSummary Johannes Cabal is an unimaginative necromancer. He's dedicated to science and defeating death, and he will let nothing stand in his way. Not even Satan and Hell itself. So, when Johannes needs his soul back to finish an experiment successfully, he marches straight into Hell, past the demonic file clerk, and straight up to Satan himself to demand his soul back. A wager later, Johannes must collect 100 souls in a year, and he has a Satanic carnival to help him. Alas, Johannes knows nothing about fun -- or even normal people. So he enlists the help of his brother, Horst, who has been made into a vampire during an unfortunate series of events that Johannes is responsible for.
Story line This is one of those interesting stories that when you pick it up you don't know where it's going. Despite of not really knowing Johannes' motivation for wanting his soul back, you keep reading to find out if he can win the bet. And because it's full of dry wit and gallows humour that keeps you laughing.
My favourite part was Author Trubshaw -- a bank clerk that designed the heinous forms that would take the lost souls from Limbo and into Hell. It not only made me grin with understanding and commiserate, but also laugh at the unexpected detail. You'd think of lawyer jokes, but crazed bankers that are anal retentive?
Most of the book is filled with these fun little quirks that make utter sense, but aren't cliché. And that's most of the fun.
Characters I have to say, I wasn't expecting much in the way of character development from this book, but it's there. It's actually so subtle that it folds smoothly into the story and you don't even realise it's there. There aren't dramatic changes, just enough to make you realise that these characters are not one sided, and there is more that can come from them.
Thoughts Sardonic, yet delightfully touching, The Necromancer made my tough week of juggling business, school, clients, and family bearable. I may have to either hold it hostage from my friend a little longer or buy my own copy to read at a later date.
This is one of those books that had too many characters and too many things going on. I was not really enjoying it at all, but a promise to read every...moreThis is one of those books that had too many characters and too many things going on. I was not really enjoying it at all, but a promise to read every book on my shelf is a promise that I'm keeping to myself. It wasn't so bad I couldn't finish it, but it definitely took some effort to keep picking it up before moving onto the next one on the shelf.
Is this because it was the second book in the series? I think it was more likely because 15 pages of an appendix at the back of the book to keep track of all the players. Ugh. (less)