This book sealed the deal for me - I'm officially a Kerry Nietz fangirl. When I was first introduced to A Star Curiously Singing for the 2010 INSPY awThis book sealed the deal for me - I'm officially a Kerry Nietz fangirl. When I was first introduced to A Star Curiously Singing for the 2010 INSPY awards I was .. concerned. I'd never been a big science fiction (hard core sci-fi that is) fan, but I gave it a chance and was thoroughly hooked by this original, fantastic story.
Then came The Superlative Stream, and once again I was dragged into HardCandy, DarkTrench, and Sandfly's world. And once again, I had to face disappointment and the book came to an end. So when I got a chance to read Freeheads I was giddy. However, school made huge demands on me.
So I put it aside and I read it over spring break - no, actually.. I devoured it over spring break. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading Freeheads and loved every single moment of it. There was so much character development that happened over the span of the previous books and everything just came together well in this finale. Plus... I love returning home moments, and I think, considering how he wrote this book, Kerry Nietz might just share that love.
This is a great trilogy, and it's so hard to just review one book without talking about the other two. I've talked them up to my friends and highly recommend you give them a shot. Just remember - it's speculative fiction, and what else is more fun than reading a "what if"?...more
I.. get the feeling this book was supposed to be about mental illness. Instead, what I got was a story about an incrediblyOriginal review posted here
I.. get the feeling this book was supposed to be about mental illness. Instead, what I got was a story about an incredibly immature couple who make unrealistic choices over, and over again. This book paints Christianity, rather.. Christians, as being incredibly naive, and selfish. Then – story aside, the characters were annoyingly two-dimensional. There was nothing but fluff there – and don’t get me started on the musical references when it comes to Amelia.
All I have to say about the musical aspect of the story is this – if you do not have access to a professional, classical musician when you write a story like this, then get access to one. Having played piano, played classical music (as in, the kind Amelia would have been playing at Julliard), you could not catch me with a keyboard for my permanent practice. There’s too many different sizes of pianos (if you absolutely cannot have a Grand). This is just one of the things that hit me and, yes, I know I’m a music snob, but it really brings the story down and makes me wish that there’d just be more research done into it (by the way, a “song” has words, classical pieces do not).
Then there’s the husband, the minister, who’s been offered a position out of nowhere in Nebraska. Really? And because there’s not enough tension between him and Amelia, we have to throw in complications and.. ugh ok, this review is so disjointed by this point and honestly, I just don’t care about this book enough to go back and re-write it. This is Christian “fluff”- it’s feel-good nonsense that’ll give you a warm and fuzzy feeling as long as you don’t look too deep for a message, because it’s just not there....more
I’m going to begin this review of a warning and a list. Here’s the warning: This review is a negative opinion of this book.Original review posted here
I’m going to begin this review of a warning and a list. Here’s the warning: This review is a negative opinion of this book. If that troubles you, move along.
Here’s the list:
1. I love fairy-tale retellings.
2. I love a good, solid inspirational read.
3. I love strong heroine’s.
Unfortunately, this book was only one of the three. It was a fairy-tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast. While it was a Christian retelling, it bordered more on the preachy, in your face side of Christianity, and the heroine… well… I’ll talk about that in a bit.
First of all – here’s something that really annoyed me – as in, made me so angry I couldn’t sleep last night in thinking about it. I felt as if Annabel was being used as a pawn, or rather – her “calling” to be a nun was just a set-up to make it seem as if she wasn’t going to actually end up with the “Beast”, Ranulf. It felt forced – all her speaking of the Holy Writ, the huge passages of Bible verses being read, the constant protesting, and yearning to be a nun. It felt forced, unrealistic, and made me uncomfortable to read.
Now, as for Annabel herself – seriously, I’m amazed the girl can even stand up straight enough to walk in this story. No. backbone. at. all. Her one method of standing up for herself is to carry a knife around – but when push comes to shove, she can’t even use it – and THEN.. she carries that martyrish guilt around when something bad does happen to the guy she intended to use it on, thinking it was her fault for wanting to defend herself in the first place.
HELLO. THIS IS NOT THE MESSAGE WE WANT TO SEND TO YOUNG WOMEN OUT THERE.
What happened to having a good, Christian woman with strength, character, and integrity? If she wants to be a nun, follow through! If she wants to protect herself, have her do it – why does she need to hide behind the britches of a man who has to do her dirty work for her? And furthermore – what is the big deal about telling someone what happened?
(I’m not even going to talk about the bait and switch pulled here because, God-forbid, a bad guy actually get his just desserts in a book)
Oh my gosh, I’m angry just writing this review, and I swear I was finally calmed down when I started to write it. Y’all, I tossed and turned last night, railing against the messages being broadcast in this book.
Basically – if you want your daughter/sister/cousin/niece to believe that she must be protected by a man, that she should feel guilt for wanting to defend herself from being RAPED, that she should be wishy-washy in her goals for herself, because who knows – the right guy might just come along! Then this is the book to give them.
As for me – I’m going to find a Christian book that treats women with respect....more
Yet another of the books nominated for the 2011 INSPY awards, and one that definitely kept me reading until the end.
When I was in college (the first time around), we lived in a town that experienced quite a bit of spiritual warfare. There were strange things that would happen, quite a few stories drifting around, and even a tragedy which made the national news. It was a place that always had me feeling as if it was dark outside, even when the light was there, and a place that saw some things happen to me which have remained with me (in not a good way) since.
I don’t know how much of that was all spiritual warfare, and how much was just plain bad luck, but this book brought to mind a lot of these events, making it a difficult read for me. The story was a fascinating one – a young woman, upon visiting a funeral, touches the boy who should not have died, and he comes back to life. The way the family has to deal with the aftereffects, the church’s method of handling things, and the town’s history all end up knitting together to create an interesting story – but also a story that needed a bit of polish to make it really good.
For example – if you are going to name your book after an event like a resurrection, I think the story really needs to center more around that specific event, rather than just using it as a catalyst for something else that’s going on. I never quite understood WHY the resurrection happened, even though I understand why everything else was happening. This is a big pet peeve for me – using a name or an event or a disability/illness as a hook into a story about something else. Although it wasn’t quite that bad with The Resurrection, I still was left a bit bewildered.
The Resurrection did not win the INSPY awards this year, but I think Mike Duran has the potential to write something that, in the future, will give that award a run for its figurative money. Overall, The Resurrection made me think, provided me with a good story, and also opened my eyes to this author and the potential he has for future books....more
Okay – first of all, I really loved the Native American aspect of this book. Among other things, it really reminded me thatOriginal review posted here
Okay – first of all, I really loved the Native American aspect of this book. Among other things, it really reminded me that I need to devote some time to reading some Native American literature. I really have no excuse right now, because one of my professors wrote her dissertation on a Native American author, as well as wrote an Encyclopedia of Native American works and authors.
That said, The Falling Away is part-thriller, part-supernatural, part-just-plain-creepy-Twilight-zone-esque, story. It has got it all, folks. Murder, running from the law, spiritual warfare, crazy cults, science fiction, drugs, smuggling – you name it, it’s an edge of your seat, this book is not going to let you put it down thriller.
It also won the 2011 INSPY awards.
I was really impressed, overall, with the quality of books being nominated this year, and I really, really enjoyed this piece of fiction. I’m not always the biggest fan of Christian or Inspirational literature – so I consider myself to be rather tough on these type of books, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one – which tells you something!
That all said, I will say – in the interest of full disclosure, that there were parts that had me a bit confused. The whole “chosen” bit, and the warriors seemed really vague – almost as if Hines didn’t want to cross any lines by making it seem like corny Christian-speak. I got that Quinn was considered to be a type of “Warrior” against the dark agents (I almost said force, y’all, I really have been watching too many Star Wars reruns on TV). But until things started to get knitted together at the end, I admit to being in a bit of a fog and fairly confused as a result.
Still, The Falling Away is a worthwhile read, and the perfect book to those who love both inspirational as well as science fiction/paranormal type books....more
Out of the five finalists for the INSPY Speculative Award for this year, this one was my least favorite. While it wasn’t neOriginal review posted here
Out of the five finalists for the INSPY Speculative Award for this year, this one was my least favorite. While it wasn’t nearly as awful as another book I recently read, it still walked a very fine line between preaching (and the subsequent talking down feel) and storytelling.
I had high hopes – dragons, princesses, strange names – all were in abundance and can usually equal the ingredients for an interesting, if not thrilling story. Instead I got a very tame fairy-tale that seemed to be catering to 12 year old girls and not the adults it appeared to be marketed for.
There are so many issues today with Christian fiction. With the exception of a few authors, most books are like this – watered down stories that instead of conveying a powerful message, instead give a simplified message for fear of offending one of the readers.
Bring on the offense – I crave strong reactions that test my belief and make me constantly examine them to determine whether they are made up by myself or truly beliefs given to me by God....more
I don’t know what it is with all these books that deal with ley lines and time travel and alternate realities, but I’m totaOriginal review posted here
I don’t know what it is with all these books that deal with ley lines and time travel and alternate realities, but I’m totally digging it. Stephen Lawhead splashes into this time-travel alternate reality thing with a bang, giving us a group of characters that are likeable and not so likeable and providing us with trips to Egypt, England and other fantastic places and times – no limits here!
There is a lot of set-up in The Skin Map, a lot of scientific explaining and figuring out how things work and, I won’t lie.. a lot of the Cosimo/Kit storyline had me bored to tears in places – but as I’ve learned in the times I’ve read Lawhead, it’s worth the payoff.
I think my favorite storyline deals with Wilhemina – it was just so perfect and had me giddy with happiness – but I won’t spoil it more for you.. just check the series out because it is worth it!
If you are a science fiction fan, or even wanting to be a sci-fi fan but are too afraid of the genre to dip your toes into it, then this is the perfect blending of history and sci-fi. It moves slowly enough that it’s easy to grasp and has just the right amount of action in it to make it worth while....more
The Bone House is the book that made reading The Skin Map worth it. I loved this book, for its adventure and its charactersOriginal review posted here
The Bone House is the book that made reading The Skin Map worth it. I loved this book, for its adventure and its characters. My only complaint? It feels as if the story is being drug out for the series sake.
This is a problem that occurs when there are many storylines happening at once. When you skip from character to character and pieces are put together. Speaking of pieces put together, that’s another of my pet peeves – when characters are added into the book in such a way it seems as if they were added last minute in order to keep the story moving. Does it make the story less exciting? No. It just gives it that element of… “eye-rolling, whatever”, you know.. the unbelievable (even when reading about science fiction/fantasy things like time travel and magic).
I hope that all made sense.
Still, The Bone House took off running from where The Skin Map left off and left me wanting more answers at the end. Lawhead is definitely a master when it comes to spinning a good tale, I have to say. I’ll be right there on the list waiting for the next installment to come out....more
This book was not available for me to check out from my library. It's not available on the bookshelves in Barnes and Noble for me to look through - soThis book was not available for me to check out from my library. It's not available on the bookshelves in Barnes and Noble for me to look through - so without the INSPY awards, I can guarantee you I would have never purchased this book and taken a chance on it.
So thank you INSPYs for putting this book on my radar and for forcing me to take that leap and read a book that totally blew me away.
Christian Sci-Fi - what does that label make you do? Does it make you wince and imagine some hokey story with a message that's dumbed down and beat into your head? And can you tell I've read quite a bit of .. just plain bad Christian fiction? So if any of this sounds familiar, then you are exactly where I was before I began reading A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Neitz. In fact - I put this book off until last because I was afraid of just how bad it was going to be.
How wrong was I?
Seriously, this book was like the sci-fi, Christian version of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. And when I say sci-fi, I mean hardcore sci-fi - not some wimpy fantasy/sci-fi hybrid. This is a look at the world once it's been dominated by a version of the Islamic faith - pushing the boundaries of "what-if" women were concealed at all times and children were taken from their parents to become living "computers".
I was blown away by the story, by the message of faith (which did not come across as preachy, but rather "sang" the glorification of God). Although A Star Curiously Singing did not win the INSPY award, it was one of my favorites to win and I'm here to tell you that as a Christian and a sci-fi fan, this is a book worth owning. ...more
I took some time off after reading this book before writing a review - partly because I wasn't going to post reviews of the INSPYs books until the awaI took some time off after reading this book before writing a review - partly because I wasn't going to post reviews of the INSPYs books until the award was given, and partly I needed to do some soul-searching myself. You see, I have an issue with inspirational "Christian" books. Most of the time I find them corny, cliche and trite. So after reading several books nominated for the award I started to wonder if it was just me and maybe I was a bad Christian?
I just don't understand why Christian literature has to be this way (and I know it doesn't have to be, I find Ted Dekker to be absolutely fabulous and let's not get me started on some of the more classic books).
Let's take Rooms by James Rubart for example. The premise seemed interesting and I am a lover of speculative fiction - the idea of a house adding rooms one by one was interesting to me. But what I got was a story about a man who, somehow, found what he was needing through massively supernatural powers and I also got an ending that was so predictable that it had me groaning and praying fervently that the author wouldn't go there... but he did.
And I'm not even going to take about the romance aspect of this book. (It's not needed, authors! Do you hear me? Don't stick romance in to sell your books - it hurts that story you are trying to tell!!)
What I want when I pick up a Christian Speculative novel is a story that challenges me, makes me think and encourages me to study my faith harder. I don't want fluff romance and a happy "everything is going to be okay" story. I don't want holier-than-thou preaching pushed at me, which, although it wasn't as bad in Rooms as it was in some other stories I read, still.. there was enough of it here that it made me grit my teeth.
Rooms did not win the INSPYs. I was not surprised by this. I think James Rubart can write well and can tell an interesting enough story, but as a story designed to challenge me spiritually, this one was sadly lacking....more
I loved this book. I found it to be charming, loveable, delightful, inspiring, giggle-worthy, heart-breaking, tender, sweetOriginal review posted here
I loved this book. I found it to be charming, loveable, delightful, inspiring, giggle-worthy, heart-breaking, tender, sweet, and perfect. I loved everything from the face plate introducing each chapter, to the sweet boy who thought he really was the Ugliest Boy in the World.
As I read this book for the INSPY awards, I was a bit confused as to its inspirational merit, I found it to be extraordinarily well-written, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “Christian” book. More of a fairy-tale – think The Ugly Duckling.
Every adventure, every hoax had me groaning and laughing, and all I can really say, because this review is turning into a rave over how wonderful the book is, is that you should read it. You really should. But set aside time to curl up on a sofa and really devote yourself to the story, because it deserves that....more
I received this book from another blogger participating in Unputdownables Crazy Book Swap. We were to pick a book and send it another blogger via theI received this book from another blogger participating in Unputdownables Crazy Book Swap. We were to pick a book and send it another blogger via the information given to us.
I struggled with this book. It got great reviews here on GoodReads so I was hopeful and I did give it an honest chance, but there were moments that had me cringing and as I continued to read those moments were more and more frequent.
The first was in the following text:
"For those not enlightened," an authoritative voice cut through the sufer's explanation, "my name of General Olin Lambert, I am a member of the Joint Chiefs. But among the seven of us, I am merely a citizen of the United States, just like you." Blue eyes probed each man. Right into Max's soul.
At this point I realized that, no matter how seriously I try to take this book, it would just be another cheesy Christian book designed to make us Christians feel good about ourselves and provide us with a fluffy story about forgiveness. I can appreciate that there are people who love this story and I'm not knocking you if you do - but I like harsh realities literature. I like knowing what other people are dealing with on a regular basis, in a realistic way so my attention gets drawn to those same situations in life and I can plead for those people in my prayers.
There were generalizations throughout this entire book and it felt as if the author decided to use a few hot words "Islam" "SEALS" "pregnancy" to make the story more interesting but just succeeded in giving a cliche story I just couldn't get into.
I know Ronie is here on GoodReads and I apologize for the harsh review - but I promised in this bookswap to do a review on this book and I just can't give it a more positive one.
I did manage to read the whole book, I just didn't like it....more
This was the first book I've read by Kristen Heitzmann. I wasn't sure what to expect and there were some aspects that pleasantly surprised me, but alsThis was the first book I've read by Kristen Heitzmann. I wasn't sure what to expect and there were some aspects that pleasantly surprised me, but also a few things that disappointed me.
The biggest issue I had in reading this book was that I spent about 65% of it completely confused. The characters (especially the women) were so similar in personality I kept mixing them up with each other and had to go back and remind myself who was who a few times. Once I got them straightened out though things started to fall into place.
The book is full of suspense, a bit gruesome at times, but interesting and (this is important for Christian-lit), I didn't feel as if it was trying to shove the gospel down my throat. Instead there were nice little reminders here and there of the importance of faith and how it works in peoples lives.
If you are a mystery fan and looking for something that combines some intrigue, romance and is clean, good fun I'd recommend checking this book out....more
Allison Pittman's story based on the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and the Cleveland Spiders and a group of four sisters had a lot of promise and it was for thAllison Pittman's story based on the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and the Cleveland Spiders and a group of four sisters had a lot of promise and it was for that reason I opted to join in on this blog tour.
The premise was interesting enough for me to want to read this book. Four sisters, abandoned young by their mother, each with a story and personality that was prominent and interesting (and the characters were the best part of the book, but I'll address that in a bit). An introduction to the baseball theme which was something different and I thought could be exciting.
I did enjoy the sisters, don't get me wrong. I thought they were interesting, their personalities were intriguing and I wanted to get to know them better.
But let me tell you how I was disappointed. It was too rushed. Each girl was larger than life but there wasn't enough time devoted to them. Instead we're rushed through these miniature love stories and the girls are herded into marriages with men we hardly know. Decisions that are life-affecting are made so quickly I actually had to turn back a few pages just to reassure myself that yes, it did happen that quickly. This book should have been the first of a series of four, each one devoted to a sister. There was so much going on I felt like I didn't actually have a grasp on each character until I was already half way into the book because there were so many names and events occurring - it almost felt like I was thrown into the middle of an established story and I'd missed a part somewhere.
I really wanted to enjoy this book and have been looking forward to reading it ever since it came in the mail. I'm hoping that in her future books, Pittman won't throw so many characters at us and, instead, spend time really flushing out the story of one or two. ...more
I've come full circle now - having started with Green and ending with White.
What amazes me most is how relevant and current Dekkers writing is. I've rI've come full circle now - having started with Green and ending with White.
What amazes me most is how relevant and current Dekkers writing is. I've read so many Christian novels that border on cheesy, or just full on cross the line that it makes me cry for well-written novels. I wish I had been introduced to Dekker much sooner!
I met Chelise in Green and always wondered about her story. She had been one of the Horde and had drowned and become Thomas' bride. The love story in this book is astounding and moved me to tears (which is happening quite often with these novels).
Red is still my favorite out of the series but White's story of redemption, of love, of forgiveness and of sacrifice is a brilliant, moving, fantastic rendition of the story of salvation and I applaud Ted Dekker for being brave enough to put this story out there, despite the warnings he received....more
On the surface, this appears to be a book about a woman, Lady Marjorie Kerr and her two sons and their wives, Janet and Elisabeth. The setting is 18thOn the surface, this appears to be a book about a woman, Lady Marjorie Kerr and her two sons and their wives, Janet and Elisabeth. The setting is 18th century Scotland during the uprising of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his subsequent defeat at the hands of King George II.
This is unlike any Christian historical novel I've read - which was refreshing. The characters are full of flaws and, as a result, very real. There was no large amount of preaching and no "perfect" behavior, although Elisabeth bordered on it at times.
It wasn't until I finished the book and finally checked things out a bit more that I realized that nagging thought that had accompanied this book while I read it was recognition of the story. This was, ultimately, a re-telling of the story of Ruth and Naomi.
Beautifully written, filled with sadness but still hope, I'd recommend this novel to anyone seeking out a historical novel dealing with Scotland. A fascinating look at the time period, the class distinctions and what it must have been like to be a Jacobite - along with a message of faith and hope. ...more
This was my first Ted Dekker book. I received it from BookSneeze publishing after choosing (what looked to be) an interesting novel from their selectiThis was my first Ted Dekker book. I received it from BookSneeze publishing after choosing (what looked to be) an interesting novel from their selections. I was not disappointed.
I've read quite a few Christian novels and most of the time am disappointed by the writing and the plot. That wasn't the case with Green. From the first chapter I was hooked and sucked into the world of Thomas Hunter and his dreams. So hooked that I immediately requested the rest of the "Circle" books from my library so I could read them.
This is both the first and the last of the circle series. You can read it as the first (like I did) or the last. It's difficult to understand and the symbolism is quite thick, but the story is an incredibly fast-paced, interesting one.
What I loved most about this book was that Ted Dekker doesn't hesitate to pull punches. He doesn't spare characters or make things go the way you would like them to go, but instead he stays true to the story and paints a brutal picture of the nature of sin and the glory of salvation. I was horrified at the descriptions of the "Horde" and moved to tears when salvation was chosen for one of the characters.
Overall a very interesting, thrilling read and I'll definitely be reading more of Dekkers books in the future....more
I think I will be singing the praises of this book for a very long time.
This book had everything. Kick-butt heroine? Check. Fascinating time in histoI think I will be singing the praises of this book for a very long time.
This book had everything. Kick-butt heroine? Check. Fascinating time in history? Check. Humor? Check. Heart-break? Check. Action? Check. Pirates? Double-check.
When I began the book I was immediately taken in by the almost fairy-tale like start. It was all just so.. fascinating. Fin's origins, the complex characters that made up the people in her life. Hilde.. I couldn't decide whether to love or hate (and I think that's the point!). I fell in love with Bart. Who wouldn't love a fiddle-playing pirate turned cook? I fell for the pure sweetness of Peter and never once for a moment doubted the outcome of the end of the book with regards to the relationship there.
I read this book in an afternoon. Now, granted, I was traveling.. so I had a lot of reading time, but I found myself walking between gates at the airport, my Kindle in hand, completely absorbed in the saga.
Peterson does not pull any punches. This story will knock you over, pick you up and then knock you over again. I finished it and immediately turned back to the beginning, wanting to read it again (but decided, ultimately, I shouldn't if I planned to finish my reading list for the week). But I can guarantee you, I WILL be re-reading this book again in the near future.
It's very easy to see why The Fiddler's Gun is nominated for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. This book lived up to the story excerpt I read first and then some. Bring on The Fiddler's Green, Peterson! I want to read it now!...more
I haven't yet read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (It's on the kindle though for Thanksgiving). But the premise intrigued me and my aunt recommenI haven't yet read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (It's on the kindle though for Thanksgiving). But the premise intrigued me and my aunt recommended this book as well.
I'm kind of torn on the book. I understand what the author was intending to do, and the story of redemption was interesting and moved at a good pace - but the letters were.. wordy and frustrating to read. Not necessarily because of the content, just the style of writing did not appeal to me, at all. I would imagine it would be difficult to write only one side of the exchange of letters - but perhaps showing both sides might have been better (even if it went over the same material). I'm hoping that since Lewis' Screwtape Letters is just letters it will address this.
Interesting book though - but it hit a few of my sore points with Christian literature (mainly making me feel as if I'm criticizing then surely I must be of the devil!). Assumptions are made about many things (i.e. sci-fi channel, games, etc) and these things are portrayed as being the pathway to hell. This annoys me on so many levels, I don't even want to get into it here because this review will end up filled with my rants and ravings.
So I'll just leave it at: Interesting book, I don't agree with everything, but I understand what the author was attempting to do, and commend him on it.