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Time for Spring Christian Fiction 2019!

Hooray!  Spring Inspirational fiction is here!  Wow!  Such a lot of good-looking stories out there by newer authors, more in this CBD catalog than I’ve seen in a long long time!  You can check out the books I’ll be checking out in the future linked below:

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Posted by on February 21, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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2019 Audie Awards Finalists

The finalists for the 2019 Audie Awards have been announced and for the first time, I’ve gone through all 24 categories and made my choices IMHO.  It’s rather like the Oscars; in fact the Audies are like the Academy Awards for audiobooks.  Let it be known that I haven’t listened to any of these books in their entirety, only just the 3-4 min. excerpts available on AudioFile Magazine’s website.  Let it also be known that just because I approve of a narrator’s capability in delivering the material doesn’t necessarily mean I approve of the material itself.  Who do you think deserves to win?

Audio Drama: The Martian Invasion of Earth (hear trailer here)

Audiobook of the Year: Calypso

Autobiography/Memoir: Letter to Louis

Best Female Narrator: Girls & Boys

Best Male Narrator: Harry Clarke

Business/Personal Development: The Courage to Be Disliked

Faith-Based: not enough info.

Fantasy: Spinning Silver

Fiction: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

History/Biography: Robin

Humor: Noir

Literary Fiction & Classics: Bleak House

Middle Grade: Louisiana’s Way Home

Multi-Voiced Performance: not enough info.

Mystery: The Mystery of Three-Quarters

Narrated by Author: My Pride

Non-Fiction: Eager

Original Work: Magus Elgar

Science Fiction: Artemis

Short Stories: You Think It, I’ll Say It

Suspense: The Outsider

Romance: skipped.

Young Adult: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

Young Listeners: Her Right Foot

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2019 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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January 2019 Word List

I am going to try something new.  I don’t know how this will go or if I will keep it up, but I thought I’d share a fun reading habit I’ve been doing lately.

As recently mentioned, I tried a couple reading groups on goodreads to sort of spice up my reading life.  The first one (The Seasonal Reading Challenge, in case you’re interested) contained challenges where you had to find books that fit into certain categories, like genres, page totals, book cover art, and titles or author’s names that spell out certain words.  This would probably appeal to folks who don’t know what to read next or who want to expand their reading comfort zones.  I did not make it very long in this group mainly because of my strict adherence to my own lists.  The second group also has rigid rules but they do have one particular challenge I’m liking: word scavenger hunts!

Every month (and other alternative timelines), they provide new scavenger lists of up to 50 words to look for while reading whatever you choose to read (for example, the current list includes the word “bells”).  If I come across that word while reading, I mark it down.  It’s fun to see how many I can find by the end of the month.  This works well if you have more than one book going at a time like me, or read very fast.  I do it along with another person I know and we compare lists to see who found the most words.

I have found that one of the benefits of practicing these scavenger hunts is that I pay much more attention to the particular words I read.  In addition to the monthly lists, I also participate in a long-term Color Word list and am enjoying the wonderful descriptions I come across.

My findings don’t qualify to enter in the group forum because they have a few more rules than I care to follow, so I will just log it in my own post here.  But for those interested, the goodreads group is called “The Lost Challenges”.  There are far more reading games than just hunting for words and they may appeal to you more.  Are there any reading challenges you’re enjoying in this new year?

1. Bean ~ I am really a stickler on this, and it is not just because I am trained as a bean counter and like all the boxes checked.  [The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success]
2. Bears
3. Beef ~ For those readers who are old enough, think of the Wendy’s commercial from the eighties in which the elderly ladies asked “Where’s the beef?” as they looked at a tiny hamburger patty dwarfed by a massive bun.  [TPFfLS]
4. Big ~ Walking out into the rain as though it were not there, she moved through the downpour with a monumental and unhurried measure, her big head lifted.  [Gormenghast]
5. Boys ~ Yet for all that, Titus was conscious of always being watched: of a discrepancy in the attitude of the officials and even at times of the boys.  [G…]
6. Bulls ~ Of a sudden the dusk, knocking as it were a certain hollow note to which their sweet ribs echoed, they were in the air– a group of herons, their necks arched back, their ample and rounded wings rising and falling in leisurely flight: and then another and then another: and then a night heron with a ghastly and hair-raising croak, more terrible than the unearthly booming note of a pair of bitterns, who soaring and spiralling upwards and through the clouds to great heights above Gormenghast, boomed like bulls as they ascended.  [G…]
7. City ~ The arrow flies continuously around the city at breakneck speed without landing on a specific target.  [Rhythms of Rest]
8. Cloud ~ Lost in the flying clouds the craggy summits of Gormenghast were wild with straining hair– the hanks of the drenched rock-weed.  [G…]
9. Comedy ~ In tragedy and comedy and satire and farce– in anything that is worthy of the stage,– conflict is at the root.  [Respect for Acting]
10. Court ~ His hunched shoulders, his pallor, his dark-red eyes had never encouraged intimacy even supposing he had ever courted it.  [G…]
11. Crown ~ Now he was climbing a slope of reddish sandstone; now he was skirting a rock-face whose crown overhung its base and whose extensive surface was knuckly with the clay nests of innumerable martins; now the walnut-covered slopes from where, each evening, with hideous regularity a horde of owls set sail on bloody missions.  [G…]
12. Cubs
13. Deep ~ “I would like to show you what I have found, away to the south, your Ladyship, where the granite domes are elbow-deep in moss.” [G…]
14. Dibs
15. Dish ~ And then one day, while drying the dishes, of all things, God stripped away my greatest illusion.  [RofR]
16. Fields ~ But, dark as was the day, it had no power to suppress the craving which had been mounting for weeks– the craving to ride and ride when the rest of the world lay in bed: to drink the spring air in giant gulps as his horse galloped beneath him over the April fields, beyond the Outer Dwellings.  [G…]
17. Food ~ A mingling of wet, scrubbed floors, unaired rooms, and food for a hundred people always steaming on the stove.  [Dear Enemy]
18. Fountain ~ An impromptu theatrical gathering of young children splash in the nearby fountain, hiking their pants above their knees until it becomes a nuisance.  [RofR]
19. Friendly ~ But there was nothing on fire except the tobacco in his pipe and as he lay supine, the white wreaths billowing from his wide, muscular and lipless mouth (rather like the mouth of a huge and friendly lizard), he evinced so brutal a disregard for his own and other people’s windpipes as made one wonder how this man could share the selfsame world with hyacinths and damsels.  [G…]
20. Gate
21. Grow ~ And so, at her funeral, the majority of the mourners were gathered there, to pay their respects to the memory not so much of Mrs. Slagg, as to the legend which the tiny creature had, all unwittingly, allowed to grow about her.  [G…]
22. Gym Shoes
23. Hotdog
24. Jewels ~ Their peurile ambition and vanity– and their only too obvious longing to assume, one day, the roles in which they were always seeing themselves, the roles of ladies, great and splendid, bedecked with jewels, precluded any such idea as suicide.  [G…]
25. Lake ~ It is seven years since he watched from the attic window the procession far below him wind back from Gormenghast lake, where Titus had come into his Earldom, but nothing has happened to him during the long years apart from the annual arrival of fresh works to be added to the coloured carvings in the long room.  [G…]
26. Lincoln
27. Loop  ~ Steerpike uncoiled himself of the rope and looped it over a nail in the wall.  [G…]
28. Mother-in-Law  ~ It’s the third week of Advent, and my mother-in-law, Geri, left Phoenix and is flying on windwings heading east.  [RofR]
29. Museum ~ Instead of wandering through a museum or sightseeing somewhere different, I lose myself in watching people give themselves permission to playfully rest.  [RofR]
30. Navy ~ One boy wades unabashedly in his underwear and a striped navy sweater.  [RofR]
31. Park ~ From a park bench, beneath a canopy of ancient trees with long tendrils swaying from Spanish moss, I hear the distant sound of an ambulance siren and birds chirping in the various “dialects”.  [RofR]
32. Pier
33. Pioneer
34. Pizza ~ We cook every night except Fridays when we eat pizza (and it’s amazing), and we don’t really do processed snack food.  [Slow]
35. Pop ~ Now consider that you are surrounded by cracked and peeling walls and ceilings, have wrinkled pop posters pasted to the walls, walk on bare floorboards, and sit on a rickety stool at an oilcloth-covered table in front of a lumpy burlap-covered studio couch, drinking beer from a can to the accompaniment of the Beatles and a leaky faucet, while you look out of the streaked window at a fire escape against a blackened brick wall.  [RforA]
36. Props
37. Ribbon ~ Their curls bounce beneath felt hats trimmed in dark satin ribbon  [RofR]
38. Sears
39. Second ~ (Bought them second-hand from Doctor Brice in the village, who is putting in, for the gratification of his own patients, white enamel and nickel-plate.)  [DE]
40. Shore  ~ From the high-rise hotel, I stare over the vastness of sky meeting water and wonder over what God is planning for us beyond the horizon, on the shores of England.  [RofR]
41. Shoulders ~ It was more like the shadow of a young man, a shadow with high shoulders, that moved across whiteness, than an actual body moving in space.  [G…]
42. Slider
43. Sports
44. Style ~ What she lacked was the power to combine and make a harmony out of the various parts that, though exquisite in themselves, bore no relationship either in style, period, grain, colour or fabric to one another.  [G…]
45. Taste ~ But he tasted the sharp fruits of the quick bridle-wrench which had freed him from the ostler.  [G…]
46. Tower ~ It played with sere flags, dodged through arches, spiralled with impish whistles up hollow towers and chimneys until, diving down a saw-toothed fissure in a pentagonal roof, it found itself surrounded by stern portraits– a hundred sepia faces cracked with spiders’ webs; found itself being drawn towards a grid in the stone floor and, giving way it sang its way past seven storeys and was, all at once, in a hall of dove-grey light and was clasping Titus in a noose of air.  [G…]
47. Town ~ “I am so glad you were able tos pend a little time with our ladies while you were in town.” [RofR]
48. Washroom
49. Wet ~ The face was wet.  [G…]
50. Windy

 

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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BBC AudioDrama: “The Club of Queer Trades”

There isn’t much time left to listen to these; I only just discovered them on BBC Radio 4.  The drama is G.K. Chesterton’s “The Club of Queer Trades” and stars Martin Freeman.  I’ve found the two episodes I’ve listened to so far to be entertaining and very much like the book.  My favorite story out of the bunch is the first one, “The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown.”  If you have some time, give them a try.  I’ve been listening while working on making valentines.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2019 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Winter 2018-19)

I was feeling very stressed during the last few months of 2018.  I don’t do well with rush, pressure, deadlines, and then trying to enjoy the holidays on top of it all.  Looking back over my year, I can tell there were areas where I wanted become more organized and less of a workaholic and so I determined my New Year’s resolution would be to learn to breathe.  These two books were the beginning of my foray into learning to live more intentionally… 

Rhythms of Rest, by Shelly Miller~ I do not feel like I do Sunday well.  I’m not sure where I go wrong, but I thought perhaps relearning what the Sabbath is all about and building upon those spiritual roots were the way to go.  There were dozens of books I could have chosen to read on this subject, but this was the one I started with.  I found Shelly’s voice very soothing and gentle, with a lovely poetic turn to it.  She definitely put forth a convincing perspective on spending slow, fun time with God.  I also enjoyed reading about her family’s journey toward their calling to move to England.  I could relate to some of her trials and it gave the book a type of plot instead of being completely a how-to book.  One thing I wish the author would have discussed more in depth, instead of waiting until the very last chapter, was about how Christ is our Sabbath rest every day of the believer’s life, not just on Sundays (although, it is a holy day set apart as special).  But after I finished the book, I went online to subscribe to her email newsletter called Sabbath Society because I could use a little present of encouragement in this direction now and then. 

Slow, by Brooke McAlary~ This book was just sitting out on the New Arrival shelf at our library and it was calling my name.  I took it home with me and have been slowly reading it since the beginning of the year.  It’s a delightful read.  The author has a great sense of humor imparting little bits of wisdom she’s learned over the years that make her life full of what really matters and less filled with stressed.  Since her years of struggling with deep depression, Brooke has developed a more flexible way of living that includes what she calls ‘wobbly balance’ (my favorite chapter!).  She started by writing out her imaginary eulogy!  From there she took baby steps to live more intentionally.  I took lots of notes!  It was also fun to read during breakfast because it is broken up into short, readable pieces with fun pictures, diagrams and lists.  Her metaphoric word pictures help convey her ideas and they have helped me to relax just a little bit easier and to let go of some of the guilt and perfectionism.  We could all benefit by doing the same, so let this book show you how! 

 

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Book Review: “1984,” by George Orwell

Genre: classic; dystopian; futuristic

Playlist…

Plot Summary: [from goodreads:] Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality.”

My Book Review:  Who hasn’t heard of this classic novel by now?  Of course it’s a must-read, and I had to find out for myself why it is.  I quickly learned that this doesn’t have much to do with how George Orwell predicted the world would be by 1984.  It’s not really futuristic in that sense.  It’s just the year (or, approximate year for no one really knows for certain) that the story takes place in.

This review isn’t going to do the book justice.  Let’s just say it got my inner cogs going page after page!  I wish I had kept a journal of things I came across as interesting, along with my commentary and thoughts but I didn’t have a notebook at the time.  I fairly flew through this.  I will probably want to go back and dissect it even more later.  I recommend an annotated version, commentary, curriculum, or cliff’s notes to go along with reading it.  There’s just so much food for thought!

There were not a few unsettling parts.  I wasn’t prepared for the sex scenes.  There are several, so parents will want to be really cautious if letting highschoolers read this.  The main characters don’t always make moral choices or follow a moral code.  That’s not to say our main character doesn’t try, but at some point any of us may reach a weak spot somewhere.  I disliked the character of Julia.  I found her shallow, worldly, and rather a tramp.  I didn’t really trust her emotionally with Winston.

I felt frustrated with the interruption of Winston’s reading of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, a mini-book within the book which was more interesting than it sounds.  Just when it got to the really good part–!  (No spoilers here.)

Naturally after reading the book, I wanted to know more about the author.  Some readers may be surprised to find that George Orwell himself (pen name for Eric Blair) was a socialist.  He distinguished himself from it in the ordinary sense of the word by calling himself a democratic socialist, but all socialist roads lead to socialism in my book.  There are no checks to keep man in balance once you start playing around with it.  I think he began to move more and more toward this conclusion near the end of his life, though he may not have completely turned about.

I could make this a super long review, but I’d recommend reading the book for yourself.  If you’re looking for a feel-good story, this is not it.  The whole tone is tense, gritty, and black and blue.  I came away from it with two thoughts: A) relief that man is too human to be able to hold up a perfectly rigid system such as Big Brother’s; and B) anxiety knowing that man is too human not to try.

The world goes batty:

I would also recommend:

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2019 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: “The Valiant Papers,” by Calvin Miller

Genre: inspirational Christian fiction

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Plot Summary: The angel Valiant has been sent to Muddyscuttle again to guard a person called J.B. Considine.  To be honest, there were tons of other assignments he would have preferred.  For one thing, his charge seems to show no interest in the things of the Lord High Command.  Feeling that a Hittite princess would have been an easier job than this contemporary man, Valiant writes faithful reports back home detailing the frustrations- and even small triumphs- of his daily efforts.  Time is running out… Valiant knows J.B.’s expiration date, but not his final decision.  Will he be able to turn him around before it’s too late?

My Book Review:  I recognized this author’s name in the church library because of a children’s book of poems my sister and I had when growing up.  There were so many great rhymes in When the Aardvark Parked on the Ark and we even dramatized a few on audio.  I highly recommend that book!  I was curious to see what his adult fiction was like.

This book has been compared to Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.  In a sort of way, I can see the similarity of themes on angels writing epistles.  Unfortunately, I think the similarity stops there.  The version I read was published in 1988 and felt very dated.  The pictures felt too childlike for a novel for adults.  I was hoping for some great quotes and deep insight among spiritual things, but didn’t come away with much.  I didn’t always care for Valiant’s shortsighted perspective, but did appreciate that he was portrayed as a created being who had things to learn from humans.

Feeling a little disappointed over this one, but I plan on reading at least one more from this author.  I understand he’s written a few other books of poetry which I have begun collecting because I so enjoyed him as a kid.

I would also recommend…

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2019 in Book Reviews

 

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