When I first started Tempest, I have to admit… I didn’t buy the story line. A guy who time travels with his mind but not his body? I’m think the boy’s having seizures and is delusional. I kept expecting the author to give me a “gotcha, this is all a dream” scene. In fact, I have notes up to the 13th chapter like “I still think he’s delusional.” haha But you know what? I couldn’t put the book down.
The read was so unique, I never knew what to expect. And as complicated as I expected time travel to be, Tempest was written in a way that explained everything in simple and realistic terms. Goodbye Paradoxes; Hello Tempest.
This book had more than a few heartfelt moments. At the same times, it was chalked full of humor to lighten the mood. And it certainly didn’t hurt to have such a likable character like Jackson.
Though at times, I thought he was beyond mature for his 19 years. His mentality on issues such as dating and sex made me think of men pushing thirty and over. None of the boys I dated in my early teens and twenties were anything like that. It made Jackson sweet in many ways… and very dreamy. Take notes, boys. Girls will be reading this book and expecting more from you, because Jackson really steps up the game.
My summary? Think Back to the Future, MiB, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Doctor Who, roll it all into one and you’ve got Tempest. If you don’t believe me, read it for yourself. I loved it and can’t wait for the next installment.
***Tempest by Julie Cross was an EXCELLENT read. 5/5 stars and one of my favorites for 2011. Way to make it under the 2011 deadline.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.(less)
I started out very hopeful with this book. The prologue absolutely rocked, and the writing was sound. I have to say, I was quite impressed with the opening. One thing for sure, Mr. Young totally knows how to reel in the reader. If I could categorize this work, I’d call it an action fantasy adventure.
Xandir is the main character with every other chapter is in his viewpoint while throwing in various other characters in between. He’s a different kind of hero from my normal reads: quick to anger, self-centered, short-sighted, and at times quite reckless. Yet he still has a moral drive which compels him to save every day people. It’s quite an odd combination, but in a way, very realistic.
I mentioned other characters. The Last Archangel steps into the mind of quite a few of them: Judy, a college language professor; Jarom, a cherub and Xandir’s apprentice; and Eden, an abused spouse. When I first started getting into the different POVs, I expected each to be a catalyst in the story. What I found was, though they played a part in the grand tapestry, they truly were only single threads. The true story is Xandir and how the way seemingly unrelated plot lines work their way back to his journey, and eventually his final outcome.
I think the idea of having mini-plots and weaving them together to create a grand finale is an awesome idea. I’ve seen some wicked movies use that technique. In The Last Archangel, I think it ended up being the weak point.
When I thought about why, I believe it’s because the characters didn’t have enough interactions to really make me care about their overall predicament, particularly Judy and Eden who seemed to disappear toward the end of the book before reappearing.
In my mind, The Last Archangel was two separate stories which are briefly touched. There was Judy and Eden who had their fight–-a strong enough plot to stand on its own, but the characters lacked the ability to do much about their situation. With virtually no involvement from Xandir, Judy and Eden’s story seemed to be nothing more than filler. Then we had Xandir and Jarom with an entirely different fight–-also a strong plot. Really, I believe if the novel only included Xandir and his predicament (with Jarom as his side kick), the entire story would have been stronger.
So was it a bad story? Not at all. It was quite decent, I would say. In fact, if my reading list wasn’t a million and a half books long, I’d probably read The Last Archangel again just to achieve a better appreciate for the entire story line.
Overall, Mr. Young did an excellent job creating an alternative world loosely based on Christianity and angels. I wouldn’t call it a Christian read because the world he created deviated quite a bit in some areas from the bible and relied on worldly misconceptions. However, it was still quite an interesting interpretation.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review(less)
This was one of those books I had mixed opinions about. By the time I reached the end, it felt like a 3 to 3.5 out of 5 star read. I liked the premises of the story but wasn’t at all fond of the characters–except James.
We have Kate who agrees to spend six months in Hades in order to receive a little extra time with her mother who’s knocking at death’s door. Plus, if Kate passes a series of tests, she becomes the Queen of the Underworld and is granted the gift of immortality. One of the things I like about this concept is Kate isn’t Persephone. Though we have the old Hades (aka Henry), it’s not about taking an old myth and changing it up to make it fresh. Everything about this story is new and original. Awesome!
For me, the shortcoming came in the delivery… namely the personalities and the way the characters interacted with one another. Looking at my notes, I see I made quite a few comments about the weirdness of the people and their behavior. Yet by the end of the novel, I understood why the situations were so odd. The thing is, Ms. Carter did an excellent job staying true to the storyline. All the information was revealed at the appropriate time. I knew what the main character knew, and the world beyond was hidden. Kudos to Ms. Carter for staying in deep POV. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting past the oddities that came with the lack of outside knowledge. So much so that it made the story unbelievable.
As for the main character, Kate was a cranky one which made her a bit unlikeable. However, I could see someone not having the best of personalities when dealing with a mother on a deathbed. That was reasonable, but add that to her many, many not so wise choices and overboard compliancy, and it didn’t make her a very appealing character, at least not at the beginning. Really her story was sad, but the way her character was portrayed, I couldn’t muster the empathy to care about her situation.
Then there was Hades, God of the Underworld. Let’s call him Henry, shall we? He rather lacked spunk. For the most part, he was alive but not living… just biding his time until the end. It was unfortunate, because Hades typically has a tendency to really steal the show. As it were, he didn’t have enough spirit left in him for me to care about his situation. Sorry about the broken record bit.
Let’s end on a positive note. Though this is classified as a young adult (YA) novel, at least I believe it is, it really had more of a New Adult feel to it. Kate is 18 and in high school, but she’s not dealing with adolescent issues. She’s beyond that and transitioning to the next stage of her life–adulthood. In many ways, she’s already there, and her attitudes about life and responsibilities reflect that. It was nice to see a character leave her childish ways behind and embrace the future with maturity.
So… not so great characters but interesting storyline.(less)
I have to say, I’m so glad Ms. Rigel decided to make this into a full length novel. Whereas the first two novellas left me wanting more information, this one was full of depth. Wonderful world building!
Before I go deeper into the review, one thing you must know about me is I’m the type of person who LOVES to HATE. Many aspects of this book riled me, but in a way which was satisfying because of the realism. Think Darth Vadar: an absolutely wicked character but in such a way where you can’t help but say he’s a kick-ass villain.
So with that in mind, I went through Bleeder hating characters, attitudes, and situations, but absolutely loving the book because of it.
For me, this work delved a bit into women’s fiction with its clash of opposing ideas. On one hand, it celebrated womanhood by making fertile women the most valuable resource on the planet. On the other hand, they were just that… resources–either breed for the planet or face the consequences.
Then there was the idea of motherhood. In Spiderwork, the women seemed to want to be mothers, but responsibilities forced on them by society denied them that opportunity. They were breeders, nothing more. This time around, the breeds mocked and criticized any birth mother for holding any emotional attachment to a child. The Chosen were brainwashed into believing that motherhood was something to be scorned. It was a rather disheartening future to think something so natural would be frowned upon. All in all, it was like two giant leaps backward for women.
Bleeder had such a deep message which dealt with human rights and politics. In many ways the society lost its spirit. Lack of choices made them complacent with the way things were. Even those in charge of making the rules were complacent. Each new ordinate chipped away freewill leaving an entire society of slaves with varying privileges. I could see our society becoming like that.
Overall, I truly enjoyed this book. Bleeder came pretty close to a 5 star read. Like I said, it was full of issues I LOVED to HATE. I recommend this work to readers who enjoy exploring human rights.
By the way, romance lovers… this does have a happily ever after.
A few of my favorite lines:
“I kept the sun out of her eyes.” Pleasure sure did look hilarious on other people. She had that completion tat in addition to the traditional roses, but it was impossible to imagine any man brave enough to enter this woman. Last minute comments
The question which continued to be on my mind throughout the novel was, “What are ghosts?” Great news all! Ms. Rigel has added a Lexicon to her website which answers that question and many more.
This story was well beyond the time of Char’s story, Space Junque. Though we get an idea of what happened to her sister Sky Meadowlark, we never get the entire story. I do hope to see Sky’s story in the future. If you didn’t catch my review of Spiderwork, you can read it here. (less)
I only made it a few pages into Women Food and God before I knew I would enjoy this book. Ms. Roth filled the pages with story after story which were entertaining while also educational and touching. She had an interesting take on the relationship one has with food and spirituality. I don’t subscribe to her beliefs 100% but do find merit in a lot of what she preaches.
For example, I’ve never considered myself as one who eats to numb myself to feelings. However, I imagine a lot of individuals out there do. On the other hand, her examples of people she called permitters was all me. On page 156, she had this to say:
"You’re sitting in front of a chocolate cake and you notice you want the entire thing right now. You don’t care whether the band around your small intestine from the operation you just had breaks. You don’t care if anyone else in the group gets a piece. You want it all."
This is my relationship with food. I want it, not because I’m sad, not because I’m hurting, not because I’m broken. I want it simply because it’s there… and I want it all until it’s gone. It tempts me, it taunts me, it calls to me. And the only way to get the food to shut up is to eat it all right then and there.
A lot of the book was about learning or rather relearning to love oneself. To recognize and understand why one has the compulsion to overeat. I wasn’t always a gorger. As a kid, I gorged like nobody’s business. Of course back then, I was as thin as a rail. I left high school weighing only 112 lbs but could pack away food like a grown man. Sometime during my adulthood, I realized I didn’t have to eat EVERYTHING right then and there. I could save some for later. I didn’t have to leave the table with my tummy hurting. Women Food and God was a reminder of what I’d forgotten not too long ago. On page 157, Ms. Roth follows up with:
"Good thing you notice. You don’t judge yourself. You don’t think that wanting it all means anything about the kind of person you are. You don’t tell yourself how selfish you are, and if the others knew that you wanted it all, they’d throw you out. None of that. You bring yourself back to the present moment, and since your body is right here, right now, since hunger or lack of it is also right here, you ask yourself if you are hungry. Simple. Am I hungry?"
When I go back for seconds, thirds, and please don’t tell anyone, but fourths and fifths, I can guarantee I’m not hungry by then. I even know I’m not going to like the way my body feels after it’s stuffed, yet I persist. Now if that isn’t crazy, I don’t know what is.
Okay, so the example I used above may not apply to you. Here’s the thing, Ms. Roth addresses so many issues in this short book, one might be hard pressed to find everything applies to them. Like I said, I didn’t jive with all she said 100%, but quite a bit of it hit home.
One item I disliked about this book, but at the same time found beneficial was the repetition. Ms. Roth said the same thing a hundred and seven different ways… and sometimes exactly the same way twice. Here’s the thing, whenever I thought to myself, this doesn’t apply and can we just get on to the next part, she repeated the information in a way which was relevant to me personally. If I could take all the filler out and get to just the parts which inspired me personally, this book would be perfect.
If you’re struggling with weight, if you’re tired of dieting, if you want to love yourself, I highly recommend reading this book.(less)
Tastes are so subjective, the value of them can be questionable. That’s the dilemma I faced with Darkfever. Okay… let’s just get to it. Darkfever wasn’t my kind of read. What’s interesting is I can see why a lot of other people would like it for the very same reasons I didn’t.
Let’s start with the main character, Mac. She reminded me a lot of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse. In fact, I wouldn’t even be surprised if the two were related. Southern bells, blond, perky cute, and both prone to getting into situations most would avoid. Although, I do believe Mac is a wee less intelligent than Sookie. All-in-all, the Mac/Sookie persona isn’t bad. I admit to being a Sookie follower, even if I think she’s too stupid to live at times. But really, one Sookie is enough for me. Despite the subtle differences, I just couldn’t get into the Mac girl. *Subjective dislike*
Barrons, on the other hand, I liked him. I guess, liked isn’t the exact word. It’s not like I’m fond of him as a person. I’d certainly never befriend him. HOWEVER, the character added a unique flare. Is he good? Is he bad? Just who is this guy? I liked the mystery of Barrons, but would have liked to have learned something significant about him by the end of the story.
Okay… some weird turnoffs for me.
I’m not into fashion. Here’s where my husband had to remind me tastes are subjective. Lots of women are big into the glamor, makeup, clothes, and accessories. The main reason I wear clothing is so others won’t be embarrassed. Some days you can catch me gardening in a nightgown or bathrobe. I don’t think I’ve worn eye shadow since my wedding day, and even then it was so light folks probably didn’t notice. Mac focused A LOT on fashion. As for me, I could care less what funky name her nail polish had or what shade of pink her hair bow was. Frankly, I got tired of reading about her attire and accessories and found myself skipping over paragraphs of description, given in a laundry-list style, to get to the meat of the story. *Subjective dislike*
Then we had the Fae, which is a huge part of the story. Okay, without the Fae, there would be no story. I discovered after reading the Iron King by Julie Kawaga that I wasn’t a fan of the Seelie and Unseelie courts. I like my faeries to be like Tinkerbell… not human-sized beings of royalty. This is where the importance of reading blurbs come into play. Still, I’d heard of Ms. Moning and had wanted to read her works for awhile. So the Fae might not have been a big enough discouragement to have avoided this novel. *Subjective dislike*
Even before I realized this was a Fae novel, I remember thinking this might not be my read, even as early as page 8. You might wonder why I kept reading, because I had contemplated shelving it. I remembered the slow start of Unearthly and how much I loved that novel once I hit around page 40-60. So many people boasted about the Darkfever series, I pushed onward, thinking it might be a funky start.
Well, it wasn’t. The writing style wasn’t to my preference. It was rather rambly. Before you mention Ramblings of an Amateur Author, keep in mind I’m a hypocrite. I do things I don’t always enjoy in others. Rambling–yeah… not so fond of listening to others do it. Told from the first person point of view, Mac loved to ramble. I could almost get over that, except she ruined the story in other ways also.
The way this was written was as if Mac was telling me, the reader, what had happened during her adventure in Dublin. I’ve started books written with sentences like you’d never imagined life would be so tough, but I’ve never warmed up to the style (*Subjective dislike). Mac took it one step further with foretelling at the end of most scenes and sometimes in the middle, which made an otherwise okay storyline too predictable for words, and frankly, rather anticlimactic.
Here’s an example by what I mean. I’m all excited about an upcoming fight. I can feel my heart pick up speed in anticipation. Yeah… I get that into books. My eyes are glued to the page. Mac reveals her plan, and I’m like oh yeah! Let’s do this thing. I’m tensed, and then she narrates:
“It could have worked that way, it should have worked that way, but I made one critical error.”
At that moment, I put the book down and contemplate tearing it in half. Why in the world did she ruin the surprise? If anything ruined the book, it was stuff like that in every single scene. Seriously. I’d be hard pressed to find a scene without that kind of foretelling. What’s wrong with slamming a reader with the unexpected when it happens.
Story also hopped back and forth between time rather just telling it in a linear fashion. I hated that. I thought a matter was settled and was ready to move on, since we had. Then she popped back to the time directly after two scenes ago and filled in a gap. Why not just fill in the information so the gap was never there to begin with? *More subjective dislikes*
Finally, the tense wasn’t consistent. Others might not notice or care, for me the switches between past and present tense were jarring. Yeah… I’m all over the place in this post with tense…. but remember… hypocrite.
So Darkfever wasn’t for me, and I’m certainly not ragging on it. This novel/series has received a lot of praise, and I’m sure for good reason. If you’re into the Fae, fashion, and Southern bell-like heroines, you might really dig this work.
I did have a favorite passage. Perhaps it’s because I’m as morbid as Mac.
Don’t accuse me of being morbid when I’m merely the product of a culture that buries the bones of the ones they love in pretty, manicured flower gardens so they can keep them nearby and go talk to them whenever they feel troubled or depressed. That’s morbid. Not to mention bizarre. Dogs bury bones, too.
One other thing, if you’re looking for a story with a finite ending, this isn’t it. Darkfever is only the beginning and very open-ended. (less)
I’ve been dying to try a young adult M/M romance. I’ve...moreExpect my full review January 14, 2012 on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-26N
I’ve been dying to try a young adult M/M romance. I’ve read a few m/m adult romances and have had a hard time getting into them. I’d hope adding the young adult element would pull me in where other novels had not. What I found was although this is a coming-of-age novel, it is NOT a young adult novel. Yes, the protagonists are young (18), but the sexual scenes are very adult. While the level of sex in the novel surprised me, it didn’t detract from the work at all. In fact, I loved the realism, which really helped make it into a discovery, coming-of-age novel. Well done, Ms. Snow!
When I first read the prologue, I was apprehensive about this piece. The prologue didn’t grab me at all, and after reading the entire book, I wish it’d been omitted. If nothing else, it would have been nice for me to the type of person to skip prologues. After the first chapter though, the book had me hooked.
One of the passages I loved from the Zero Knot was:
“You weren’t a Freebird who’d soon be earthbound. You were an alien, and you’d never be anything else.”
It’s such a beautiful truth. A big part of adolescence and even life in general is about finding yourself, trying to fit in. But what happens when you figure out you’ll never fit in the way society expects you to? No matter the outside image you portray, you’ll always be you inside… and that you is different from the established norm.
That sums up The Zero Knot in the nutshell — young men, despite living outside the social norm, coming to terms with who they are. Throughout it all, Ms. Snow splashed enough humor to keep me laughing when I wanted to cry about the injustice of an unfair world.
Who I’d recommend The Zero Knot to? That’s a tough one. I want to say everyone because the story line was so touching and provided such understanding. However, the graphic nature of some sex scenes makes this work suitable for adults. Parents should definitely read this one through before they consider passing it along to their teen.
I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review.(less)
Despite Esther being one of my favorite biblical s...moreExpect my complete review October 31, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1RP
Despite Esther being one of my favorite biblical stories, I wasn’t sure about this work when I first started. The writing focused on quite a few mundane descriptions written like a laundry list, and I feared the entire book would be muddled with them. As the story progressed, it was as if the author got so wrapped up in telling the story, she forgot to throw in the drab descriptions.
It was wonderful. I went from wanting to skim the passages to wanting to take in every word. Truly, The Reluctant Queen was an interesting take on the story of Esther. I never knew what to expect or how Esther would handle each situation.
The king. He was a very attractive character. Despite the many problems he faced, he never lost his cool, always waited until he had the relevant facts before making a decision. A wise king. You’d think he was King Solomon. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic toward his plight.
Speaking of sympathetic… one character I didn’t expect to feel any for was Haman. Ms. Wolf did a wonderful job giving him motive and making him human. He was actually a character I could root for and mentally say, “Don’t do it!” Despite knowing the biblical story, I hoped for the best for Haman. He was like the Sandman in Spiderman. “I’m not a bad person, I’ve just have bad luck.” Of course, Haman had a hand in his bad luck. Still… couldn’t help but feel bad for him.
Bottom line: Ms. Wolf mentioned taking liberties with the story and embellishing at times. I think by doing so, she created a culturally rich piece with a realistic and fresh take. Over all, this was an enjoyable story of Esther. (less)
I know the book was supposed to be about Emma, but my...moreExpect my full review November 4, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1SA
I know the book was supposed to be about Emma, but my first major thoughts about the book were, what in the world is going on with Emma’s sister, Clara? She lived in an Amish community where I thought materialism was frowned upon. Yet here was a woman who seemed obsessed with finances. I loved how human she was.
I completely sympathized with Clara and her husband, Peter. I’ve been were Clara was, fretting over the lack of money, wondering what I could do to relieve the financial stress, feeling trapped in a situation with no respite. It was nice to see members of the Amish community portrayed as less than pure. This does not mean at all I want to see them fail. It’s just comforting to know they face similar demons as the Englisch, yet still find the Godly strength to overcome the trials.
Then there was Clara’s wandering eyes. Truly she seemed like a fair weather friend: with her husband during good times, but seeking elsewhere for companionship during rough times. She wasn’t at all endearing, yet I felt sorry for her and her inability to find joy.
Lucky for Clara, Mark (Peter’s cousin) was more than willing to fill her need for companionship… maybe. Mark was an anomaly in the story. I didn’t get him. Was he a sociopath? I remember thinking at one time, the only thing which could keep this from being a 5 star read is if Mark didn’t pan out. He did well and had sufficient motivation for his villainous ways.
So I’ve talked about everyone but Emma… almost. Granny was awesome too.
So Emma. The poor girl was tugged in every direction. She knew what she wanted (most of the time) and had no problem expressing herself. Yet she was constantly bombarded with the desires of others, and put under pressure to make a choice between what she thought was best for her peace of mind and what would please others. She faced a tough struggle. She knew others imposed on her unfairly, but her Amish upbringing valued putting others before self.
I just loved the realistic, worldly problems in the Amish setting.
The introduction of a final character toward the end, Laura, was a bit shaky in the presentation, but overall, I quite enjoyed myself. I’m definitely curious about this Laura gal. Hopefully she’ll be the star in the sequel. 4.5-5 out of 5 stars.
I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review. (less)
One thing I have to say about Every Other Day, th...moreExpect my complete review December 24, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-23X
One thing I have to say about Every Other Day, the story line was unique to me. If anything, that alone kept me in the story.
The novel is set in an alternate reality where paranormal elements (zombies, hellhounds, dragons, etc) were discovered by Darwin way back when. Not only are the paranormal creatures a part of the world, but they’re also protected as endangered species. Too bad for them, Kali is a natural born hunter during her “non-human” cycle.
The bulk of the story follows Kali, the main character, during a 48-72 hour time span. All the while, Kali’s internal clock provides a countdown until her next cycle.
For the most part, this was an okay read. Like I said, the story was unique. Early on, I was a bit confused about the Darwin theory, but eventually it was explained. Other parts were a bit predictable, but my biggest gripe was Kali’s near invincibility.
On her “non-human” days she was like Spider-man in the areas of strength and reflexes and Wolverine when it came to rejuvenation, but she felt no pain and was A LOT harder to incapacitate.
Meanwhile, all she had to do was lay low on her human days and voila! she was back in action. As such, it lacked any real stakes.
Normally I like to talk about side characters, and there were quite a few with varying importance in the story. However, the relationships Kali seemed to form with them seemed rather shallow, making it difficult to care for anyone in particular.
I give the story an A+ for uniqueness, but the execution could have been better. If a sequel does happen, it’s a story I may or may not seek depending on mood. Overall, 3/3.5 out of 5 stars.
I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review.(less)
This was an EXCELLENT read. 5/5 stars. Way to make it under the 2011 deadline. This book will be part of the giveaway on my blog December 27-31 as par...moreThis was an EXCELLENT read. 5/5 stars. Way to make it under the 2011 deadline. This book will be part of the giveaway on my blog December 27-31 as part of "Best of 2011." Woot!
And last year, I won Soul Deep from Diane from Book of...moreExpect my full review October 8, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1Nf
And last year, I won Soul Deep from Diane from Book of Secrets
The first thing I hit was chapter 1 (well, duh), which happened to be written like a prologue, completely in italics and everything. The information was useful though, if not a bit dry and mislabeled. Seriously? I was a bit apprehensive. Later I discovered even though Soul Deep was the first of the Coyote series, it wasn’t the first of the ENTIRE Breed series. So the upfront information really helped and made Soul Deep a standalone story.
Okay… my review might sound a little harsh, but I’m telling you, I really liked this story (4 out of 5 stars). It was just what I was looking for when I went in search of a bit of erotica.
My first impression when the sexy got to happening was Amanda was every man’s dream come true. Kiowa pretty much got to do anything to her, and she loved it. Dirty little slut came to mind. I was like, what’s with her? It was like reading a porn movie. Keep in mind, I was looking for erotica, so a little naughty wasn’t a bad thing.
Later, I found out why she was behaving the way she was, and it totally reminded me of Shadow Cat with the uninhibited lust due to being in heat. One awesome thing about Soul Deep, the sex scenes were evenly spaced throughout the work rather than clumped together in the center like Shadow Cat. For an up and coming writer like me, Lora Leigh offered an excellent example.
So here’s the bottom line. I DEFINITELY look forward to reading more Lora Leigh. Thanks again, Diane! (less)
I loved the beginning of this book where it talked about the letters. The rest of the book, relied on a lot of speculation which may or may not be tru...moreI loved the beginning of this book where it talked about the letters. The rest of the book, relied on a lot of speculation which may or may not be true in the end, yet was presented as fact. Still, it was an interesting interpretation of Revelations, and I believe most venturing into the final book of the bible would come out with more knowledge overall.
Let’s start this review off by providing a quote from...moreExpect my full review November 11, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1T0
Let’s start this review off by providing a quote from the book:
"I’ve had an epiphany. I realize that I don’t reject Christianity. Instead, I reject the way that intolerant Christians package Christianity."
I love that! Years ago, I refused the title of Christian for that very same reason. It’s odd though. On the inside and out, I was very much Christian orientated… a lot more so then than I am now. Yet instead, I would call myself a follower of the bible or a follower of Christ. I didn’t want to be known as a “Christian.” In my mind, taking on the title would mislead people into thinking I was one of the hypocritical mainstream Christians. And one thing for sure, I didn’t want to be associated with them.
Martin Thielen had a very engaging style, which made this work an enjoyable read. I will admit, there were times he was long-winded though, writing the same theme in various ways. It gave me the impression he needed words to fill the page rather than getting his point across in an effective method. Still, he kept me entertained.
Mr. Thielen broke the book into two parts: What folks don’t have to believe and What folks do have to believe. So I’m going to address each part separately.
Part One: What you don’t have to believe One thing I didn’t like about part one, is the author tried to slant ideas to fit what he wanted to believe rather than what is actually in the bible. For example, explaining away all the unhappiness in the world, as if God had no hand in any of it. At some point, Mr. Thielen asked, “how can we serve a God like that?” referring to incidents people label as “acts of God,” like tornadoes, car wrecks, earthquakes, etc. I’m not saying God is up in the clouds wreaking havok. However, if we look at the history in the bible, God has been known to do just that. The Old Testament (OT) is full of “acts of God.” The New Testament (NT) has a few of its own also.
To say my God wouldn’t… or I couldn’t serve a God like that, is rather naive, in my opinion. Now I’m not out to make God a bad guy, and I agree folks are quick to pass blame to God when things don’t go right. However, I think it’s important to face the reality of what’s in the bible when trying to teach the bible.
Other times, Mr. Thielen takes modern ideas which are popular in society and applies them as biblical fact when they’re very much contradictory to the bible. For example, he says, “God doesn’t want people to be in the bondage of slavery. Nor does God want women to be submissive, second-class citizens. God intends for marriage to be a partnership, not a hierarchy.” Now I’m all for equality. I want it for myself. Yet hierarchies and submissiveness is very much a part of the bible. Submissiveness is not a bad thing; it keeps order. And being submissive doesn’t necessarily make one a second-class citizen nor does it deny partnership. Likewise, being at the top of the hierarchy doesn’t mean one must treat those in submission poorly. I would even go as far to say, if one had a master or husband who truly walked the Christian lifestyle, being the slave or wife wouldn’t be such a burden.
That’s not to say I’m a proponent of slavery or want to take a step into the past and strip women of the rights they’ve gained. I am just saying, the bible says what it says even if we don’t want to believe it. If we throw out submissiveness to husbands and masters (employers for us present day people), where do we stop? Do we stop being submissive to Christ? Stop being submissive to God? Submissiveness has it’s place. We shouldn’t throw out a concept because some individuals abuse the power.
Here’s the thing. Women do have important, valuable roles in society. The problem isn’t submission; it’s the undervaluing of the gifts women possess.
I could go on with my objections about part one, but I’d rather not. Let’s just say, there was a lot in there which didn’t jive right. Still there were some inspiring pieces.
My favorite chapter by far was 5: God cares about saving souls but not about saving trees. Remember, these are things we DON’T have to believe to be a Christian. The idea behind chapter 5 was folks get so caught up in the battle, they forget there’s an entire war out there. For example, the issues of homosexuality and abortion. Honestly, it seems like Satan is pulling a slight of hand with a lot of folks who call themselves Christian. “Lookie over here!” Get Christians to focus all (most of) their energy on abortion and homosexuality, and they’ll miss the big picture: bringing folks to Christ through love.
As Mr. Thielen puts it “Exclusively private faith degenerates into a narrow religion, excessively preoccupied with individual and sexual morality while almost oblivious to the biblical demands for public justice.” God cares about saving souls. He also cares about other things, like trees, the hungry, world peace. There’s no need to make God one dimensional.
Part one ends with what I think is the biggest turn off for non-Christians. Judgmental attitudes. Mr. Thielen tells a story about a friend struggling with his personal life who is later hounded by a judgmental Christian about returning to church.
One day she asked my friend, “Don’t you want to go to heaven?” In weary exasperation he responded, “not if it’s full of people like you.”
Haha. How many of you out there have had the same thoughts? Mr. Thielen’s bottom line is “True Christians leave judgment to God.”
Overall, Mr. Thielan had some great points in Part One. Other times he turned the bible into a smorgasbord where one can pick and choose what works best for his/her lifestyle. Mostly, I think it’s important to understand that True Christianity is about what’s in the bible, not necessarily the way people who call themselves Christian present Christianity to the world.
Part Two: What you do need to believe I’m not going to go deep in Part 2 because most of it I’ll say was irrelevant. Mr. Thielen seemed to go off on tangents, which did not focus on the the questions “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” Yes, he answered the question, but it could have been done in 1 chapter versus the 10 chapters he used to do it. Perhaps he was trying to make the two parts even: Ten don’t needs and ten do needs. Like I said, 1 chapter (chapter 1 specifically) answered the question. After that, we hit some nice to know information. Other information I’ll say was specific to the teachings of his church (mainstream Christians even), because they don’t support my understanding of the bible.
Though not an item in part 1 or 2, Mr. Thielen concluded the book with a bit of evangelicalism in chapter 21. I found it to be an excellent addition. While Part 1 & 2 dealt with the nitty gritty assertions (even though I didn’t support all of the findings), the last chapter addressed the most important issue in a person’s life (according to Christians): Salvation.
My bottom line for What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? — It’s an engaging read, has a lot of instructive information, but is also full of fallacies.
As I tell my husband, commentaries and such are great, but people really need to get into the Word so they can decipher what is true and not true when information is presented to them.
Would I recommend What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? Yes and no. If you’re unfamiliar with biblical teachings, I wouldn’t recommend reading this work solo or for using as a basis for Christianity. However, it would be a nice book to study with someone who is knowledgeable about the bible. I also think it’d make an excellent book for a study group. Why? Because either of the latter two scenarios would provide the opportunity for discussion. When readers hit the areas which are questionable, they can talk it over, compare notes, and look up scriptures to determine if the bible supports Mr. Thielan’s ideas or not.
I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review.(less)
I’m usually not into mermaid like tales. However, I thoug...moreExpect my review on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer September 11, 2011: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1Kf
I’m usually not into mermaid like tales. However, I thought this had quite a realistic feel to it (as far as mermaids and realism go). They were truly half fish/half human. None of that Splash nonsense where all you have to do is dry off the fins and they grow legs. Nope, the fish portion stayed fish, and they even reproduced like fish. Weird? Yeah… but totally believable.
The style of Awakening was presented a bit differently than Ms. Thomas’ other works. In fact, I thought I was reading a prologue of sort when I started, as the front was loaded with background information. It didn’t take long to realize I was in the actual story, and Nerina was narrating. Another interesting note about the style: this work had a feel to it as if Nerina was reminiscing about past events. That is, her story was already said and done, but she wanted to tell her experience so she wouldn’t be forgotten. Different. I don’t know if that was the author’s intent or not, but it made me think of reading someone’s diary.
Like the Auction, Awakenings was quite a bit milder as far as the BSDM goes. In fact, the BDSM was implied it would happen in the future rather than occurring onscreen. Instead, Awakening focused on coaxing Nerina into becoming a sexual being rather than dominating her. No spoilers here, so you’ll have to read Awakening for yourself to see how that works out.
Though this was a short work, which was fine, I had hoped for more. Without giving anything away, the ending didn’t quite give me the closure I’d hope for. All the issues were addressed, but one item seemed to be left in limbo. (less)
I liked this a bit better than the other two. It just seemed better put together. The biggest drawback, in my opinion, was history had a way of repeat...moreI liked this a bit better than the other two. It just seemed better put together. The biggest drawback, in my opinion, was history had a way of repeating itself in this series. I did enjoy the ending though. It had a nice finality to it, but showed life goes on. 3.5/5 stars.
First things first: I liked Pretties more or less th...moreRead my complete review October 29, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1Rw
First things first: I liked Pretties more or less the same amount as I liked Uglies. There were plenty of annoying aspects about Pretties, but the story was unique. In fact, I have to admit, the trilogy is really starting to grow on me.
Let’s start with what I disliked the most about Pretties so we can move on to the good stuff. The lingo. The lingo sucked big time. It reminded me of Neal Bortz when he tries to sound like a valley girl with all the “like this” and “like that” “like” “like.” Okay… we get it. It’s obnoxious. Now can we get OVER it?
Same thing with Pretties. Everything was bogus or bubbly or whatever-making, and totally overboard. I don’t know if the overuse of the special lingo was purposeful, but the excessiveness of it made it seem like an adult trying to fit in the young crowd but failing miserably.
What I enjoyed? I loved that despite being transformed into a Pretty, Tally was still the same person inside — pretty but still full of insecurities. Instead of the focus being on her outward appearance and being adored, the focus shifted to fitting in. Just like when she was ugly, she still had doubts about being good enough.
In a way, it was sad. We had a society which perfected individuals physically… in essence, giving them all they dreamed of having. To help the pretties along, they turned them into the addle-brained, content with having fun. They created an utopian environment, at least it appeared that way to an ugly looking in. Well, even Pretties believed they were living the ultimate life despite their continual strive to be cool. In reality, they had a broken society full of daft people who never had an opportunity to be comfortable with who they were.
Though I consider the books middle of the road reads thus far, I still think the trilogy is worthy of attention. Well, I’m working on the last book of the trilogy. It’ll be interesting to see how everything resolved itself.(less)
First off the bat, Tally rubbed me all sorts of wr...moreExpect my complete review October 24, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1Ob
First off the bat, Tally rubbed me all sorts of wrong. All she could talk about were pretty people and how she couldn’t wait to become one. She reminded me of that scene from A Bug’s Life…
Bug one: Harry, harry no! Don't look at the light! Bug two: I can't help it... it's so beautiful. !!Zap!!
That was Tally when faced with a Pretty. And when she wasn’t being enraptured by the Pretty, she was full of condescension. Consider these lines/thoughts by her:
pg 76 Their ugly little faces peered up at the dorm’s four-story height, their eyes full of wonder and terror. Oh I hate Tally and her attitude. pg 81 “Don’t be weird, Shay. I’m an ugly, you’re an ugly. we will be for two more weeks. It’s no big deal or anything.” She laughed. “You, for example, have one giant eyebrow and one tiny one.” Tally being the biggest jerk as she talks to her friend. pg 198 “What are these freaks?” “They aren’t freaks,” Shay said. “The weird thing is, these are famous people.” “Famous for what? Being hideous?” Tally talking about people in our modern day magazines.
Need I say more? Let’s just say, Tally and I didn’t hit it off.
How about the plot? The beginning was rather rocky, and I wasn’t sure I’d even finish Uglies. Once Tally started focusing on other issues beside just being pretty, the book improved. I couldn’t help but be interested in what happens during the Pretty process. I had a hard time believing a child could grow up thinking they’re were ugly and worthless all their life, then after a surgery which fixed the outer imperfections they’d have high self-esteem. Then the Smokies were introduced, and I had to know what that was about.
Uglies also had a bit of romance action. At first, the romance seemed so fake considering it came out of the blue. But sometimes, I guess that’s how it happens. Just having someone take notice can create an attraction. In the case of Tally falling for an Ugly, I’d say that’s what happened. After all, she was quite superficial throughout the story.
Over all, this wasn’t the best read, and the presentation wasn’t all that great. However, the story was unique to me. It also ended on a cliffhanger, which I absolutely hate. I’m just glad the series is over, and I have the complete collection. Now I can read (or not read) them at my leisure.(less)
Dark Eden started off quite slow. I wasn’t sure wh...moreExpect my complete review October 17, 2011 on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1OT
Dark Eden started off quite slow. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. After reading the blurb, I thought the book would be a YA paranormal, but the further I progressed, the more it just seemed like a book about a boy with a phobia. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what his phobia was at first, only that he was elusive… and a bit of a stalker.
I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed the book was so far off from what I’d expected. I’m not saying a book about kids with mental disorders couldn’t be interesting. After all, I quite enjoyed Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson. It was more on the lines, I had no idea what the ultimate purpose of the story was until well into the book. What were the stakes? Simply spying on kids with phobias wasn’t enough for me.
Eventually, I did discover what was at stake: be cured of the phobias using some weird, undisclosed method or continue to live with the fear. Even with the stakes laid out, they weren’t big enough to make this work stellar. Interestingly enough, the bread crumbs left as I followed the story kept me entertained and eager for the big reveal. Unfortunately, it never came.
I hit the end of the book, well what seemed like the end, and was sorely disappointed in the conclusion. The ending was followed by several short sections which explained what was really going on in Dark Eden, and this is where I hit the paranormal aspect of the book. The oh by the way, this is what happened and why wrapped up everything in a nice package, but the presentation was flat and lacking in appeal.
I hate to be overly critical, but Dark Eden by Patrick Carman was mediocre, which is a shame, because it had the potential to be so much more.
I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review. 2.5 stars(less)
One thing I like about Buroker books is the writing is de...moreExpect my review September 19, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1Lu
One thing I like about Buroker books is the writing is descriptive in all the right places. The same goes for Hunted. Plus, Hunted was a short and easy read, a trait I'm truly appreciating these days.
This time around, Kali and Cedar work on ironing out their relationship -- both on the business and romantic front. "Does he like or like-like me? But if he's trying to rip me off, perhaps he doesn't like me at all." Before we continue, a little video that comes to mind when I think of Kali and Cedar's relationship.
Okay... maybe Kali wasn't that aggressive, but I know she wanted to be.
Quite a few plot points and a few mysteries in this piece. I'm thinking Ms. Buroker has an entire saga running around in her head with these two characters. Bit by bit, pieces of the puzzle are being laid out. On the same note, major issues throughout the story went unresolved, giving me the impression this was more of an intermission. Hunted doesn't exactly end on a cliffhanger, but I'm sure there's more to the story since it had an incomplete feel to it. I'm curious to know where it will all end. (less)
I had a rocky start with Black, White, Other. This bo...moreExpect my full review September 5, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Author: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1JS
I had a rocky start with Black, White, Other. This book threw me right into the middle of a packing scene, followed by Nina (15 years old) rushing out the door to catch a bus to see her dad. And I’m thinking: her mom isn’t going to see her off? Of course, I’m thinking she’s catching a Greyhound bus. Well, at least until she missed the bus only to catch another one shortly. It also took me awhile to figure out where she lived, other than Canyon Valley that is. But what state? A few clues thrown here and there and I realized she was in the San Francisco Bay area. Overall, I think the setting could have been presented better.
Hmm. I would absolutely love to read what a teen has to say about this work, as I found the style to be heavy on the narrative. The style works in other genres, but I’m not quite sure it works for the YA crowd. Of course, my YA years are far in the past, so who knows? Maybe the teens are big into narrative styles these days.
So the actual story. Black, White, Other actually had a two for one deal going. We had Nina’s story, then within we had the story of Sarah Armstrong which was written by Nina’s father. I know this is weird, but Sarah’s story has a descriptive flare which Nina’s lacked. It was as if two different people wrote the book. I have to say, Sarah’s story intrigued me in ways Nina’s didn’t. Each chapter of Sarah’s story had a cause and effect which built toward a greater event.
Nina’s story, on the other hand, reminded me of a collection of vignettes. I wasn’t quite sure what the major plot in her story was until I neared the end and she started to make some really horrible choices. Once she started to screw up her life, her self-created problems presented opportunities to solve.
My overall impression was this wanted to be a historical fiction (Sarah’s story) while also wanting to appeal to the young adult crowd (Nina’s story). Truthfully, I think the book missed the mark. Sarah’s story had the potential to be so much more, but sandwiched between Nina’s it didn’t offer nearly enough time to explore her situation. Nina’s story, well… she spent so much time acting out, I had a hard time sympathizing and connecting with her character. And as I mentioned above, it was lacking in the area of plot.
If I were to rate the two stories separately, I would give Sarah’s story a solid 3 and Nina’s story a 2.
Like I said, I’m really curious about the opinions young folks had on this book.
I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review.(less)
Before I started this book, I skimmed over the...moreMy complete review available October 10, 2011 on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1Np
Before I started this book, I skimmed over the Goodreads blurb, which is a bit different from the one above. Apparently, I skipped over a few too many words, because I didn’t realize this was a search and rescue type mission. Right off the back, I have to say, I’m not fond of those kind of books. HOWEVER, Ashfall reeled me in.
I loved the author’s voice. Let’s start with Alex. I immediately connected with him because he reminded me so much of my daughter, Alex. Same name, same hobbies, if you can call World of Warcraft a hobby, and same moody attitude. It didn’t take long for Alex to reevaluate his life and realize what was really important. And I can guarantee it wasn’t making it to level 85 on his Death Knight.
Throughout the story, Alex had just the right amount of childishness about him to make him seem real. Not his attitude so much, but rather the way he went about his everyday life. Though he talked about conservation and how long his supplies needed to last him, he never seemed to change his consumption rate. For him, it was feast or famine.
Darla was the wildcard. Okay… the whole book was a wildcard, but Darla was full of her own surprises. She was the ultimate tinkerer. If I could give her a motto it would be: Just give me moving parts, and I’ll do the rest. I loved Darla’s inventiveness. She could get out of just about any situation. On the other hand, I wasn’t quite fond of her over all attitude. Honestly, I hope I never meet an individual like her. She was unreasonable rude way most of the time. Other times she overly verbal with her every-(wo)man-for-(her)himself mentality. For someone her age, one would think she’d learn how to curb her tongue a little and be a bit more subtle. With her out of her comfort zone, it’ll be interesting if she changes her talk in the sequel.
Despite the search and rescue theme, I quite enjoyed the storyline. There were enough close calls to keep me wondering who’d survive the ordeal (besides Alex, that is). Overall, this was a great read. It had a definitely conclusion, but provided a new opening for the next book, which I’m definitely looking forward to reading.
Notes for parents: Safe sex was addressed in Ashfall. However, the benefits were totally squashed with the idea of reusing condoms. I’m also not sure why the teens were such eager bunnies. (less)
A Beautiful Dark was an easy book to get into. I...moreExpect my complete review September 24, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1Ni
A Beautiful Dark was an easy book to get into. I originally had concerned about the dialogue, which seemed like nothing more than a series of fast paced lines thrown together. However, the dialogue faded away to some interesting turn of events. From then on, the book had me hooked.
Each character had a definite personality. We had the star of the show, Skye, who a conscientious rule follower, the perfect student (always on time, straight As, on track for a wonderful college future). Sure she was a high achiever, but for the most part, she just seemed, well, normal… except for the funky mercury eyes she had at times.
Then there was Cassie, Skye’s best friend. She was what I’d consider the life of the party… and a bit boy crazy. Whenever she appeared, the atmosphere brightened. Skye’s other best friend, Dan… well, Dan was just Dan. More of a side kick than anything. Finally, we had Ian — the boy crushing on Skye, but also a very good friend. Of all the characters, I would have liked to see more of him — the thoughtful, concerned friend who was willing to give a hand. With the implications at the beginning of the story, I just thought he’d play a greater role.
The angels: We had Asher, the fun one, and Devin, the goodie-goodie. I have to say, I didn’t like either one of them after the initial introduction. If they’d come sniffing around my daughters, I’d probably have a word or two to say. It wasn’t until later, they started to grow on me. Despite Asher being the play boy and Devin looking smug half the time, they seemed to be caring (deep, deep, DEEP) inside. Still, the characters seemed well developed, though mysterious.
One thing I might note: though the setting was high school, the characters seemed quite grown up. In fact, it made me think more of an office than a high school, most of the time. Their dialogue, behavior, attitudes — none of it had that high school feel to it. It lacked the silliness I’ve seen in high school students in general. Instead, it was like watching a bunch of late 20s-30 year-olds interact.
So the plot: Excellent. I never knew what to expect next. Who was the good guy? Who was the bad guy? Maybe they were a little bit of both. And what was with Skye? Exactly what was her role in the universe? Where would the events lead her? Unfortunately, it was a cliffhanger, so I have no idea. Grrr. It was more than a cliffhanger. It was just incomplete. Nothing had been resolved. None of the initial questions were answered. Leading up to the end, was great… pieces were following into place, at least I’d hoped. But alas, I only got half the story.
It was like The Matrix Reloaded… you’re getting into it. “Yeah! This is great!” Then the words “To be continue” pop on the screen, and you think WTF? I remember the silence in the theatre as the audience read the word. We all sat there… stunned for the longest moment. Then we quietly got up and left like zombies. That’s how A Beautiful Dark ended. Not really a cliffhanger, just half a piece of work.
What I’ve read so far, 4 out of 5 stars. Would I recommend it to others? I don’t know. The ending of a book has a lot to do with the overall recommendation. Since I haven’t read the ending, I can’t determine if the story is even worth starting.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.(less)
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Along Wooded Path...moreExpect my full review October 1, 2011 on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1No
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Along Wooded Path was actually the second book in the series. I have to admit, I did feel like I was starting the story in the middle of something. At times I wasn’t quite clear on why the characters were separated in two different states. Eventually, enough details were given throughout the book, that Along Wooded Path acted almost as a standalone novel. In fact, I don’t see myself going back to read the prior book, yet I am looking forward to the next work in the series.
So I mentioned almost a standalone novel. Along Wooded Path ended with an unfinished story. I’d expected everything to be wrapped up in the epilogue… a happily ever after feel. Instead, the epilogue ended with the next day with a very open-ended feel to it. How do the characters fare? Do they go through with their plans? And what happened with the losing guy? I guess I’ll find out with the next book.
As far as the story line it self, interesting. The entire work kept me intrigue. I never knew whom Marianna would choose as her beau. Would it be Ben, the man who captured her heart? or Aaron, the safe choice? In most romances, one might say Ben, hands down. True love trumps all right? But when taking into account an Amish life, the choice isn’t nearly as clear, especially since Marianna had no intention of giving up her Amish ways, and Ben was a musician. Anyway, you’ll have to find out for yourself what her decision was.
Most my issues with Along Wooded Path were more technical. For instance, the writing style was a little repetitious at times, and I hoped Ms. Goyer would move on with the story. I’m not sure if I became so engrossed in the story or Ms. Goyer did indeed slow down with the repetition, but the further I read, the less noticeable it became.
I also wondered if the author worked hard to meet a particular word count. A good portion of the book included letters the main characters wrote to others. Personally, I didn’t find the letters moved the story forward, just reiterated events which had occurred. Filler.
Other than those small items, I enjoyed the read. Like I said, I look forward to reading the next in the series.
As a side note: Though I received the ARC through Netgalley in exchange for a review, I was surprised at the number of errors (typos, putting the wrong name, spelling). It would be interesting to compare the final copy with the Galley. (less)
Rich in pictures and didn't look well on the Kindle. Since it was a NetGalley copy, I was able to view it in Adobe Digital Edition which wasn't bad ot...moreRich in pictures and didn't look well on the Kindle. Since it was a NetGalley copy, I was able to view it in Adobe Digital Edition which wasn't bad other than being stuck in one place staring at the computer. I actually didn't read much of it, but rather cruised through the photos.
I didn't like the layout so much. The book seemed a bit disorganized at the beginning. Later it was sectioned by steampunk artist.
My mechanical knowledge is as such, I don't feel comfortable reviewing or rating this work. Interesting, but not exciting enough to pique the interest of this low tech gal. Though it didn't strike my chords, I can see steampunk fanatics finding this work interesting.(less)
One thing I want to emphasize is this book is not aimed...moreExpect my full review August 22, 2011 on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1C7
One thing I want to emphasize is this book is not aimed at non-Christians. It’s not meant to convert the non-believer or convince the non-believer that Christianity is the only way. Instead, it focuses on individuals who claim to be Christian and helps those individuals examine their lives, so they don’t miss the boat.
Much of what Mr. McKinley said, I knew to be true. It’s clearly laid out in the bible. I don’t know who has a ticket and who doesn’t, but I do know the bible says something to the effect of the gate is small and the road is narrow and few will find it. So logically, it makes sense to me that not everyone who boasts to be a Christian is going to find the path. Especially when considering upwards of 60,70, 80% of Americans believe they’re Christians. Who knows the figures in other countries. Few doesn’t equal the majority.
So the question is: if one truly believes the information in the bible, wouldn’t he/she want to be sure to be on the right track rather than one of the many who think they’re walking down the right path, only to find too late they’re on the broad road? Am I Really a Christian? is like stopping and asking for directions. In the end, some might receive a wake up call, but also might find hope and an opportunity to step on the road they’d meant to travel.
I loved that this book doesn’t focus on hells fire and damnation. It doesn’t try to scare folks into becoming a Christian or scare people who claim to be a Christian into behaving right. Instead, it identifies markers which might suggest one is or isn’t a Christian. Not by way of finger pointing, which can be so easy (That person’s not a Christian. That person isn’t. That person is.) No. None of that. It isn’t about whether others want to classify a person as a goat or a sheep. Rather it helps a person examine his/her walk with the help of those in the Christian community.
Even though this is a work tailored toward those who believe they’re Christian, I still think it’s a great read for non-Christians. Why? Because I believe the worldview on Christianity is tainted by those who profess to be Christian but act in non-Christian ways in the name of Christianity. Am I Really a Christian? is truly insightful.
I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review(less)
I particularly liked the first story, A Marriage of th...moreExpect my full review October 21, 2011 on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1R5
I particularly liked the first story, A Marriage of the Heart. An Amish man (Joseph Lambert) returns to the community after a bann and is forced into marriage in order to protect the honor of a deceitful young Amish woman (Abigail Kauffman). The first thoughts which came to mind was this couple was unequally yoked. Early, I worried Abigail would lead Joseph astray. It was beautiful the way love and patience transformed the couple so they both ended up pulling in the same direction. 4.5 – 5 out of 5 stars. Definitely my fave of the three.
What the Heart Sees was quite enjoyable, though the ending was a bit rushed. Still, it held my interest throughout though. In this story, we have an Amish man (Christopher Bender) wanting to reenter the community after a bann but his inability to forgive another member interferes with his desires. Helping him through his journey is blind Amish woman (Ellie Chupp) who believes her blindness makes her undesirable for marriage. I think this work would have been much stronger if so much information weren’t withheld from the reader. The information was doled out in a way that left me (as a reader) in the dark but offered no suspense. But like I said, the over all story kept me interested. 3.5 – 4 out of 5 stars.
The final work, Healing Hearts started out wonderful. I absolutely loved the idea of an older couple falling in love again. Though I’m far from their age, I could truly relate to their situation. My biggest issue is the story dragged out too long, and the characters got a little silly stupid toward the end. Partway through the story, a side character (Larry) was introduced with minimum information. Though he played a significant role to keep the story moving beyond the happily ever after, I knew so little about him, I lacked interest in his story line. 3 out of 5 stars.
One thing interesting about this collection, all the stories were in the same setting. Not just an Amish environment, but in the exact same town so that characters from on story mingled with characters in the other stories. Now isn’t that cool?
I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review.(less)
Where as Hush Money was a suburban fantasy, H...moreMy complete review available September 26, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1MO
Where as Hush Money was a suburban fantasy, Heroes’ til Curfew was more of a paranormal romance. An interesting change, which I didn’t expect, but at at the same time, didn’t surprise me, considering the ending of Hush Money.
Heroes ‘Til Curfew started off a bit slower than Hush Money. For a while, I was afraid it’d lack the fast paced action I loved in Hush Money. Reading Hush Money was like sprinting a marathon — all go, go, go! Heroes ‘Til Curfew, on the other hand, started off walking, then picked up to an easy jog with a couple of burst of energy which led to a wee bit of running. For the most part, the pacing was more typical of what I’d expect in a novel, so definitely not a bad thing.
So paranormal romance I say? The romance started off sweet… rather innocent. Cute, I’d say… then it turned intense and hot. At times, it was like being in an adult novel. Good thing? Bad thing? I don’t know. It’s easy to pretend that teenagers don’t have similar feelings as adults… simply because we want them to be sweet and innocent. However, if you’ve spent time in high schools, as I have, you’re likely to come across some hot make-out sessions. Excuse me, young lady, but I believe your need to pull your skirt down and get off his lap.
In this sequel, sex seemed to play a huge role in the plot… not that the characters were having sex, but rather sexual issues weren’t skirted and sex seemed to influence many of the actions (heroes and villains alike). One thing I did notice was Ms. Bischoff truly tried to address the issues of rape in this work. I read quite a bit of criticism on the subject in Hush Money. This time around, I got the impression she wanted to clear up any misconceptions.
Overall, I think Ms. Bischoff made a bold move to go as heavy as she did with the sexual undertone in a young adult novel. Then again, we see it on TV all the time… adults (20-30) playing high school students to get around the rules dealing with minors and sex. Though parents might be a little leery to let their kids read it, I think the story would go over well with high schoolers.
Would I let my daughters read it? If I were a parent who didn’t talk to my kids about sex, I’d say no. But since I do talk to my kids, I don’t see a problem with this work. Quite a few kids start dating in high school. They’re going to experience sexual feelings (emotionally and physically). Beating around the bush isn’t going to change that. Heroes ‘Til Curfew addresses some of those feelings without getting too physical (heavy petting and kissing only). Of course, being the parent I am, I’d end up talking to my daughters once they finished reading it.
The characters: I have to say, this was the cast of thousands. I honestly couldn’t keep up with most of them or their talents. I think it’d be real cool if Ms. Bischoff had an index of the characters and what they could do on her website. That would have been highly helpful while reading. For now, I’ll stick with the big players.
Josh was quite different this time around. She’d grown into her role as leader and advocate. No more hiding in the shadows, waiting for others to get out of the mess they got themselves into. She was a true player. The cautious side was still there — don’t get caught — but she wasn’t afraid to step forward. In Heroes ‘Til Curfew, her flaw was the inability to trust. Would she learn to let others help her?
Dylan… hmmm. He had quite a bit more of a point of view in this work. However, it still seemed mostly Josh’s story. His presence (other than being Josh’s love interest) seemed more to prove his worth to Josh. To show he was more than breakable glass. In truth, that really wasn’t his problem, but rather Josh’s perception of him (her problem). Again, her inability to trust others interfered with her relationships.
And the villain! Marco returns. We actually got an opportunity to spend some time in his head, and I loved it. At one time, I actually thought I understood him, thought he had some redeemable qualities, and he was just misunderstood due to his circumstances. I really rooted for him to have a pivotal moment and come around. Well, I’m not going to ruin the ending… you can read the story to see if he turned good or not.
The only thing I really didn’t like and think slowed the story down was the characters spent way too much time thinking. I’m not sure if it was intentional. Sometimes I thought it was, as side characters would note the contemplative silences. Hey, are you listening to me? Or characters would mentally yell at themselves to stop thinking so much. Personally, I would have preferred a bit of brevity in the internal dialogue area.
All in all, Hereos ’til Curfew was an excellent sequel to Hush Money.(less)
The Auction was more mainstream than the rest of Kitty...moreCatch my full review on August 8, 2011 on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer: http://wp.me/pPz8s-1Bg
The Auction was more mainstream than the rest of Kitty Thomas’ works. Notice I didn’t say COMPLETELY mainstream. After all, we’re talking about a Kitty Thomas work, and her stories are anything but mainstream. I’m just saying more mainstream than not at all.
Belle was unique amongst the characters Ms. Thomas has presented in the past. Belle has a bit of rebellion in her which couldn’t be squashed. I loved that. Sure she had a master, but in no way was she under his thumb. Quite a change of pace from the typical Kitty Thomas fair. If you’ve shied away from some of her other works because of a less than strong female, you might give this one a try.
The only issue I had with The Auction was based on person preference. I couldn’t get into banging a dragon like humanoid monster with sharp pointy teeth any more than I could picture doing it with a vampire. That’s my hang up. After all, there are plenty of vampire whores… I mean lovers out there.
Ms. Thomas touched briefly on the setting–the colonization of the planet, the difficulties the humans had with the natives, etc. I would have liked to learn more about the world Belle lived in. Like how the colony arrived on the planet, why the humans chose the planet, the origination of the auctions, why the natives confine the humans to the colony, and so on. There’s so much about the world I’d like to explore. I did read Ms. Thomas might someday consider a sequel. So that’d be awesome.
I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review.(less)