This short book is a fantastic introduction to holiness, or freedom from sin, and its role in the Christian life. The book first defines holiness and...moreThis short book is a fantastic introduction to holiness, or freedom from sin, and its role in the Christian life. The book first defines holiness and sin, and explains why it is so very important to pursue holiness in the Christian life. It then moves into tips on how to recognize sin and an exhortation to guard one's self against it. Then, the pursuit of holiness is discussed in the context of how it relates to other elements, such as free will, faith, God's power, etc. Ultimately, the book addresses why Christians, despite being set free from sin, must still work to become free from it.
The book is never very specific, instead serving as an abstract guide for sin in all forms, which I really appreciated. Nonetheless, that could be frustrating to some readers, since it neither provides a clear "list of sins" (although arguably that's because it's difficult to make an absolute one), nor does it provide much practical advice other than to pray and read your Bible daily.
I found the book functions better as a means of convicting someone to pursue holiness, not as a practical guide on how to do so. Although I have been a Christian since I was a child and knew sin was "bad," this book is one of the first books I've personally encountered that drives home just how integral it is that Christians work to vanquish the hold of sin in their lives. I strongly recommend reading this with a pen and notebook beside you.(less)
The first thing that always strikes me about Jelinek's work is how she manages to use such "dirty" language. I naturally don't mean cursing, but I do...moreThe first thing that always strikes me about Jelinek's work is how she manages to use such "dirty" language. I naturally don't mean cursing, but I do mean her inexplicable ability to always use the exact word in a situation that leaves the reader feeling as if they need to shower after her writing. This characteristic comes across to me, even a non-native German speaker, and seems intrinsic to her writing style. That said, this ability is a very good once since she writes about "dirty" things. Not necessarily inhuman, but certainly nonsocial, the darkest parts of human interaction. Perhaps the most striking part is that she does so as if a passive observer, merely telling the facts and actions as they occur, with little speculation as to the motivations of the reader (a technique which only works for her in light of the fact that almost all books these days explore the internal landscapes of the protaganists) and ultimately leave the reader feeling very ambiguous about their narrator.
Also, without giving away any spoilers, it is my personal belief that this book is about change, and the dangers of being unable to do so in light of darkness.(less)
This short book was incredibly useful when studying for my qualifying exams. Not only is it a great refresher on the events of the French Revolution i...moreThis short book was incredibly useful when studying for my qualifying exams. Not only is it a great refresher on the events of the French Revolution itself, but the chapter on its repercussions and the historical debate surrounding the revolution were very useful in putting the books on my list into a framework of understanding.(less)
I expected to like this book much more than I did, what with the high ratings from some of my friend and overall from Goodreads. I did enjoy the plot...moreI expected to like this book much more than I did, what with the high ratings from some of my friend and overall from Goodreads. I did enjoy the plot of this book, and I enjoyed the fast-paced story. I read this in an afternoon, in one sitting.
That said, I felt the world-building suffered somewhat for the plot's speed. There is really no reason why the characters in this book need to be vampires; they could just as easily be magic-users and it would make no real difference to the plot. Moreover, I did not get the sense of immersion in a parallel or otherwise fantastical world that I want from my fantasy/paranormal stories. I am unsure if this is because the plot was so self-contained at the academy, or if it's because it just exists in our current world.
Ultimately, I did not hate this, but I have not yet decided if I will continue the series or not.(less)
Ruth Klueger’s Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered is a powerful book that is difficult to describe. The work is divided into four sections a...moreRuth Klueger’s Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered is a powerful book that is difficult to describe. The work is divided into four sections and an epilogue. “Vienna” recounts Klueger’s early childhood in the city. “The Camps” discusses Klueger’s time spent as a twelve- and thirteen-year-old in Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the labor camp at Gross-Rosen, and on a death march throughout Germany. “Germany” discusses time spent in the country after running away from the death march until Klueger’s emigration to America, while “New York” discusses Klueger’s experiences of immigration and, more generally, the rest of her life spent in America. The book is difficult to describe for a few reasons. First, the book covers nearly 70 years of experiences. While the impacts of the Holocaust are at their heart, the book covers a great deal more of Klueger’s life than simply her time spent in the camps. Relatedly, Klueger’s background as a poet shines in the ways that she destabilizes the chronological backbone of her narrative by interjecting things that happened long before or long after key events in question. In this way, I would describe Klueger’s work as more of a “meditation” than an exact chronological account.
“But a meditation on what?” remains the difficult question to answer. The answer seems to be the ambiguity and dilemmas surrounding a life after the Holocaust, expressed particularly through the themes of childhood and gender. On one hand, Klueger demands that the reader accept her childhood as just that, a childhood not unlike anyone else’s. On the other hand, Klueger reasserts the particularities of a childhood endured during the Holocaust and the ways it has transformed and continues to transform her life. For instance, Klueger recounts her hatred for an aunt who lived with them before the camps, because the aunt constantly told her to be more ladylike and punished her by taking away a collection of tram tickets she kept as a hobby. Although this aunt died in the Holocaust, Klueger says she still feels no real pity, just a lingering sense of outrage toward her aunt. This causes Klueger some distress, because of the "bad fit between facts and feelings, between actual, normal, petty sentiments and the horrendous suffering to which childhood is innocent." (33) Klueger's feelings are typical feelings for a slighted youth, but they cannot change or transform because of her aunt's demise in the unforeseeable Holocaust. What does one do with such feelings? As another example, Klueger contends her entire life with a mother who, among other mental problems, suffered from paranoia. While her mother’s harsh words and behavior hurt Klueger deeply, Klueger is clear that it might be that very paranoia that got both of them through the camps. How does one deal with the ambiguities surrounding these competing facts and emotions? Klueger does not provide clear answers to any of these questions. What she does do, however, is show the reader that Holocaust survivors (and perhaps people in general) must be understood within the full breadth of their experiences, which are complicated and convoluted. Holocaust survivors cannot be reduced only to their Holocaust experiences, but neither can the impact of the Holocaust on its survivors be denied or easily accounted for. Historians must be willing to face ambiguities, rather than search for easy answers.(less)
**spoiler alert** I read this for Felicia Day & Co.'s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout bookclub.
This was a fun read and I certainly did not hate this book,...more**spoiler alert** I read this for Felicia Day & Co.'s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout bookclub.
This was a fun read and I certainly did not hate this book, but I felt very ambivalent about it in several ways.
First, it was very difficult for me to make the personalities of Chas and Gabriel fit together and make sense. It was hard for me to pair their vulnerability with their strength. I like many elements about Chas and Gabriel, particularly as they were presented early-on. Chas was a kick-ass redhead and Gabriel was mischievous, with the drawl, flippant demeanor and card tricks. But we quickly learn that their relationship is largely predicated on lies (another factor that severely detracted from the romance I would have otherwise enjoyed), some of which are very, very serious and nigh-on abusive. I also found the personalities presented in the latter part of the book, with Chas very fearful and Gabriel incredibly intense and powerful to just not make sense with the beginning of the book. I felt Ren was a much more solid and interesting character.
Second, the author overused many of the same lines. Sometimes this is a good narrative device and is helpful. I loved the line that signified the scary monsters ("The sound that tissue paper would make if it were composed of glass"). But mostly it was irritating because many of the lines weren't that good to begin with, and so they simply stuck out to me. Also, I will hopefully never read the phrase "Chazzy-girl" again.
Finally, the overarching plot apart from the romance was a bit wonky. The plot pacing was a bit off, not in that it moved too fast or too slow, per se, but characters, particularly toward the end, were introduced a bit clumsily. I did not like having to get to know (and being barely able to do so) the characters that appeared toward the end while others disappeared. Also, while I intellectually understood the importance of the mission the characters were on, I had real difficulty feeling the enormity of it. What they were doing was important in a humanitarian way and the reasons it is important in the bigger picture is clear, but they engage and destroy so little in the book the important can be lost.
Ultimately, I don't regret reading it, as there were lots of interesting and entertaining elements. I will likely not continue the series, however.(less)
This book is a deceptively simplistic text. The book is well-written and and enjoyable read, with very interesting anecdotes. It was hard, at the begi...moreThis book is a deceptively simplistic text. The book is well-written and and enjoyable read, with very interesting anecdotes. It was hard, at the beginning, not to find Trouillot's points about history's constructed nature as anything other than a repeat of lessons already learned. The end, however, features a strong message regarding public history and the role of historians as educators. It is here where Trouillot applies his principles to a very thought-inducing critique of history as done by modern historians.(less)
The artwork is really nice. It's a bit wonky in a few panels, but generally awesome. The plot is very loosely held together, though, and could certain...moreThe artwork is really nice. It's a bit wonky in a few panels, but generally awesome. The plot is very loosely held together, though, and could certainly use more cohesion. Ultimately a pretty series so far, but not amazing beyond the art.(less)