Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa Terkeurst

Synopsis: Made to Crave is the missing link between a woman’s desire to be healthy and the spiritual empowerment necessary to make that happen. The reality is we were made to crave. Craving isn’t a bad thing. But we must realize God created us to crave more of him. Many of us have misplaced that craving by overindulging in physical pleasures instead of lasting spiritual satisfaction. If you are struggling with unhealthy eating habits, you can break the “I’ll start again Monday” cycle, and start feeling good about yourself today. Learn to stop beating yourself up over the numbers on the scale. Discover that your weight loss struggle isn’t a curse but rather a blessing in the making, and replace justifications that lead to diet failure with empowering go-to scripts that lead to victory. You can reach your healthy weight goal – and grow closer to God in the process. This is not a how-to book. This is not the latest and greatest dieting plan. This book is the necessary companion for you to use alongside whatever healthy lifestyle plan you choose. This is a book and Bible study to help you find the "want to" in making healthy lifestyle choices. (from the online description)

Review: This was given to me by a dear friend, who knows how I struggle with food and my weight. I eagerly read it. It seemed to promise more than just a “if you believe enough, Jesus will make you thin” approach.
For the most part, Terkeurst writes good advice about how eating health and exercise isn’t about how we look, but is more of chance to practice self-discipline and self-denial. Both of these character traits are worth pursuing in our walk with Christ. “If we want to truly get close to God, we’ll have to distance ourselves from other things.” (p16). Weaving encouragement and practical tips in with the story of her journey make for an appealing book. She writes in chatty, easy to read language, with warmth and humor. Snippets are highlighted in bold print every few pages, making it easy to pick out the main points. And she said several things that made me stop and think and consider how I approach my struggle with over-eating. For example, “Weakness is hard, but weakness doesn’t have to mean defeat. It is my opportunity to experience God’s power firsthand.” (p103) I think this. She writes about turning moments of temptation into moments of prayer, moments of kindness to others, and understanding what we can and cannot handle. Scripture appears often, and she included an appendix that lists all the scripture she quoted.  I don’t find anything theological wrong with her work.
Yet, for all that, there is something off about the ideas she teaches. I can’t place my finger on it, nor can I explain it. It is frustrating. If someone were to ask about this book, I would not recommend it, but I can’t tell you why. I took to the internet to read about her other books, and found similar reviews. The strongest argument against Terkeurst is her promotion and devotion to Steve Furtick, of Elevation Church fame.  And indeed, Furtick theology is repugnant and heretical.  Sadly, if Terkeurst accepts the teaching of Furtick as truth, then all her own teachings concern me, and make me approach with extreme caution.
To conclude, I plan to use some of the ideas Terkeurst teaches in this book, but I will be careful about what I accept as truth, and I will not be reading any more of her work. 

Bookmarks: 5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-310-29326-2
Year Published: 2010
Date Finished: 3-29-2016
Pages: 219

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Review: Here's to Hindsigh by Tara Leigh Cobble

Synopsis: Following the journey of independent singer/songwriter Tara Leigh Cobble, Here's to Hindsight is an honest portrayal of her effort to reconcile God's goodness with the uncertainties of the moment. Readers will recognize themselves in her struggles with faith, fundamentalism, relationships and navigating the post-college years. As a result, they will walk through their questions with a greater hope for the future and a renewed faith in the God who writes their story. (from the online description)

Review: Someone introduced me to Cobble’s music just after I graduated college. It was her first CD. Her message came to me at a profound time, saying just the things I needed to her. But as I don’t really keep up with music, I lost tract of her – until I found this book in a thrift shop.
Critics compare her (favorable) to Donald Miller, Lauren Winner, and Anne Lamott – and this could not be more accurate. I have the same reaction to her work as I had to theirs. I find all of them an odd mixture of narcissistic dribble, raw honesty, God-given truths, and too-private-for-comfort stories. Perhaps because the idea of writing such personal things for the world to read fills me with not a little panic and dread, I find it hard to understand why people like Cobble want to. It seems egotistical and vain. And yet, what they are writing about is not. Cobble is honest about her mistakes, her faults, her fears. She’s open about her wants and desires and needs – all of which resonated with me. She expresses her struggles to act as she preaches, to live as she believes and to follow God when it’s hard. These are not the confessions of a conceited person. This book makes me want to have lunch with her, perhaps travel on a road trip. I recommend for anyone, particular if you are in your 20s and searching for the place God is calling you.  And no matter what I say, my actions speak louder – after finishing this book, I purchased (for full price off her website) the next two she wrote. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-9768175-9-4
Year Published: 2006
Date Finished: 3-27-2016
Pages: 193

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ramble: Reading Books About God

I set myself of goal of reading 50 Christian books in 2016

I can tell you, straight up, I am going to fail at the goal. fail hard. 

To accomplish it, I need to read four books per month for ten months, and five books per month for two months. 

It is the end of March and I need to have read twelve or thirteen by this point. I've read six. Total. 

But I can still catch up! I just need to read 5 or 6 by the end of April. That's doable, right? (and all the readers said no.)


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Review: Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God by Dallas Willard (Updated and Expanded Edition)

Synopsis: Being close to God means communicating with Him-telling Him what is on our hearts in prayer and hearing and understanding what he is saying to us. It is this second half of our conversation with God that is so important but that also can be so difficult. How do we hear his voice? How can we be sure that what we think we hear is not our own subconscious? What role does the Bible play? What if what God says to us is not clear? The key, says best-selling author Dallas Willard, is to focus not so much on individual actions and decisions as on building our personal relationship with our creator. In this updated classic, originally published as In Search of Guidance, the author provides a rich, spiritual insight into how we can hear God's voice clearly and develop an intimate partnership with Him in the work of His kingdom.  This updated and expanded edition includes new material from the author’s teaching at the Renovar√© Institute. A new appendix highlights key questions related to hearing God and helps you find the answers in the text, as does the Scripture index. Also added to this edition are six lecto divina exercises places throughout the book that guide you into the experience of hearing God. (from the back of the book)
Review: Having been a Christian for almost 30 years, I can tell you that the one thing all Christians want most, and yet struggle with the most, is hearing God. As our world grows increasingly loud and we are bombarded with messages, lies mostly, it is nearly impossible to find the inner stillness and clarity of mind and heart required to know God’s will.
Willard’s work tells us how. And it is both easier and harder than one thinks. Easier, because it is open to all who want it. Harder, but it requires dedication, patience, and above all, an absolute sacrifice of all we are and want and have. In short, it requires a radical shift, a stepping out of the world and into the Kingdom of God.
Being that Willard is a professor of philosophy, his writing is more complex and verbose that your average Christian prose. But it is well worth any effort put forth for the truth and understanding, the life-changing knowledge that one can learn. His book is not for the faint of heart. It requires careful and thoughtful study.
Willard’s general premise is this: Hearing God comes from Knowing God. We know God the way we know anyone – through daily interactions, mostly, through study of the Bible. The more we know God, the more we will recognize His voice, however it reaches us – through the Bible, through preachers, teachers, authors, and friends, and through the still, small, voice of the Holy Spirit. This of course is something all Christians know intellectual, but most never put into daily practice.
I highly recommend Willard’s book for any Christian who wishes to have their life and relationship with God challenge. If you read this with an open heart and mind, you cannot fail to grow.
“Spiritual People are not those who engage in Spiritual Practices; they are those who draw their life from a conversational relationship with God.” (pg. 288)

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-8308-3569-0
Year Published: 1984 (Under the title "In Search of Guidance). This edition was published in 2012
Date Finished: 3-25-2016
Pages: 304

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Review: The Book Club Cook Book: Recipes and Food for Thought from your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Synopsis: This first cookbook created specifically for book clubs shows readers how to add a delightfully delicious angle to their book club gatherings. Featuring recipes and food-related discussion ideas for one hundred popular book club selections, The Book Club Cookbook guides readers in selecting and preparing culinary masterpieces that tie in just right with the literary masterpieces their club is reading. From "Honey Cakes" to go along with The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd to "Eggplant Caponata" to go with Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; from "Lemony Goat Cheese Tart" with Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel to "Shrimp Flautas" for Empire Falls by Richard Russo; The Book Club Cookbook makes adding foods that stem from the books your club reads fun and easy. Vicki Levy Krupp and Judy Gelman polled hundreds of book clubs all over the country to determine what their members are reading and to discover the creative ways that they're integrating food into their meetings. With recipes and colorful background information on the role that food plays in the reading choices-much of which was contributed by the authors of the book club selections themselves-The Book Club Cookbook will add some real flavor to your book club meetings.(from the online description)

Review: As both a book-junky and food-lover, this book held much appeal to me. I was eager to see what recipes and books they choose, and to tag both books and food to try. However, the book didn't match my expectations. The books selected seemed fine - a good mix of classics and modern, fiction and non-fiction, and a variety of ethnicities and genders. But often, the recipe didn't seem to match the book. The food would be from the birthplace of the author and not the setting of the book. Or, a dish would be specifically mentioned in the book, but Gelman and Krupp would choose a completely different recipe to include. The book felt disjointed as well. I didn't always get how the book club synopsis connected to the recipe or the book. The recipes also, seemed a bit lack-luster. There were a few good ones (A Sour Cherry Pie and a Seafood Casserole I can't wait to attempt) but often there were just your normal recipes - or something way to complicated. It was an interesting read, just not as engaging as I'd hoped.

Note: This refers to the original edition. There is a revised edition, published in 2012.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 1-58542-322-X
Year Published: 2004
Date Finished: 3-25-2016
Pages: 509

Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: Harry Potter and the Classical World: Greek and Roman Allusions in J.K. Rowling's Modern Epic by Richard A. Spencer

Synopsis: J.K. Rowling has drawn deeply from classical sources to inform and color her Harry Potter novels, with allusions ranging from the obvious to the obscure. "Fluffy," the vicious three-headed dog in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is clearly a repackaging of Cerberus, the hellhound of Greek and Roman mythology. But the significance of Rowling's quotation from Aeschylus at the front of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a matter of speculation. Her use of classical material is often presented with irony and humor.
This extensive analysis of the Harry Potter series examines Rowling s wide range of allusion to classical characters and themes and her varied use of classical languages. Chapters discuss Harry and Narcissus, Dumbledore's many classical predecessors, Lord Voldemort's likeness to mythical figures, and magic in Harry Potter and classical antiquity among many topics. (from the back of the book)

Review: Although light in tone, Spencer's book is firmly a textbook. This I did not know when I requested it. That made it more challenging for me to read, but also envious of those with the chance to take college courses in Harry Potter. With obvious enthusiasm, Spencer dives into a detailed description on the motifs and themes of the Greek and Roman classics. To start, he explains in his introduction why he only included Greek and Roman classics (as opposed to biblical or near east), why he only consulted the seven books and not the additional material like interviews and Pottermore, and why he thinks Rowling’s use of mythology is important. From there, he moves into exploring the three main characters, as he sees them – Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, and Lord Voldemort. He then writes about Major and Supporting Characters, Magical Beings and Materials, and the Classical Languages used in Harry Potter.
While his knowledge of Harry Potter and Greco-Roman mythology is extensive, I’m not sure there is quite enough for the whole book. Several times, particular in the chapters on Beings and Material and Supporting Characters, it seemed he was stretching a bit to find the connection. Or, assuming Rowling meant more by the name that she really may have (although, he states in the beginning he doesn’t claim to know her mind or motives, and so, he may be right.). I found his Appendix on the “Ring Composition” of Rowling’s work to be most enlightening. Rowling has been called a literary genius for her use of that literary device and Spencer’s appendix makes it clear how deeply woven into the narrative this device is.
While I’m not sure this book would appeal to your average Harry Potter fan, it will appeal to your diehard or academically-minded. And for anyone who also enjoys Greco-Roman mythology, this is a must-read. Spencer’s tone is jovial and accessible, if somewhat repetitive, and although it reads like a textbook, it’s not overly complicated or difficult. I recommend as a fine addition to the library of any Harry Potter fan. 

Note: I received this free as part of LibraryThing's Early Review Program, in exchange for my fair and honest opinion. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-7864-9921-2
Year Published: 2015
Date Finished: 3-23-2016
Pages: 315

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Review: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Synopsis: Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways. (from the back of the book)

Review: Ten-year old Raymie faces one of the hardest events that can occur to a child - when a parent leaves. Particularly when that parent doesn't say goodbye. DiCamillo writes this with authenticity - the complex emotions, the uncertainty, the strange plans we pin our hopes on, As an adult reader, I can see what Raymie doesn't about Beverly and Louisiana - see how both are in the same place, emotionally, that Raymie is. Vulnerable and hurting, as only kids can. While the resolution in the end didn't make this a happy ending, but made it a realistic ending - for all the girls. As with all DiCamillo stories, this is excellent and worth reading.

Note: I received this free through LibraryThing's Early Review Program in exchange for my fair and honest opinion. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8117-3
Year Published: 2016 (April)
Date Finished: 3-20-2016
Pages: 263

Monday, March 21, 2016

Review: Christina Rossetti: Passion and Devotion compiled by K. E. Sullivan

Synopsis: A illustrated anthology of poetry by Rossetti, one of the greatest female poets of all time.

Review: This is a quick, beautiful volume. The poems are surrounded by gorgeous full-color reproductions of Pre-Raphaelite art, many by her brother Dante. The poems themselves are excellent, although I'd read many before. Goblin Market, one of her most famous, was included only in an excerpt. But Cousin Kate and A Better Resurrection, two of my favorites, where included in their entirety. Spring, as a subject, was repeated often, but I don't know if this was because Rossetti utilized that motif often or because K.E. Sullivan, who compiled the anthology, chose all the spring ones. It was repetitious after the first half-dozen or so. Overall, I wouldn't seek out this volume, but I consider it a pleasing addition to my Rossetti collection.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 1-86019-387-0
Year Published: 1998
Date Finished: 3-19-2016
Pages: 96

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review: A Call to Arms by Alan Dean Foster (The Damned, Book 1)

Synopsis: For eons, the Ampliture had searched space for intelligent species, each of which was joyously welcomed to take part in the fulfillment of the Amplitur Purpose. Whether it wanted to or not. When the Amplitur and their allies stumbled upon the union of races called the Weave, the Purpose seemed poised for a great leap forward. But the Weave's surprising unity also gave it the ability to fight the Amplitur and their cause. And fight it did - for thousand of years. Will Dulac was a New Orleans composer who thought the tiny reed off Belize would be the perfect spot to drop anchor and finish his latest symphony in solitude. What he found instead was a group of alien visitors - a scouting parting for the Weave, looking for allies among what they believed to be uniquely warlike race: Humans. Will tried to convince the aliens that Man as fundamentally peaceful, for he understood that Human involvement would destroy the race. But all too soon, it didn't matter. The Amplitur had discovered Earth..... (from the back of the book)

Review: It took me a bit to get into this story. The first chapter or so is a bit slow. But once the Weave met the humans - the story grabbed me hard. Foster does an excellent job of exposing humanity, and letting the reader see humans through the eyes of the aliens. It was both hilarious and horrifying to see the Weave try to make sense of the violent, duplicitous, illogical humans. Foster's assertion is that no matter what humans say, our natural state is violence - which is why peace is so hard for us to achieve. And the Weave may hate that about us, but they need us. The characters were solid and complex, the action and pace of the story excellent (aside from the slow beginning), and the world building well done. As normal for some of the older sci-fi (actually, Sci-Fi in general) there are multiple philosophical discussion among the characters, Sci-fi has always been about the exploration of the universes - including the one in our minds. Foster did a good job of incorporating these discussions without making it seem tedious, preachy, or boring. I actually enjoyed them! And while the end conclusion was the humans are violent sons-a-bitches, the question remains - is that to be abhorred? The book ends with a good question - once the enemy is vanquished, what will happen to the humans, as there is no place for our violence among the peaceful species in the galaxy. I look forward to the next two books to answer that question.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-345-37574-2
Year Published: 1991
Date Finished: 3-15-2015
Pages: 341

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review: The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship: A Russian Tale retold by Arthur Ransome and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz

Synopsis: When the Czar proclaims that he will marry his daughter to the man who brings him a flying ship, the Fool of the World sets out to try his luck and meets some unusual companions on the way. (from the online description)

Review: In the tradition of most folktales, the third son, neither clever nor wealth nor important, sets out to find his fortune. And through his kindness and obedience to those wiser then him, he gains friends, fortune, and love. My issue with it is that it doesn't seem to be anything outside your normal folktale. Why the praise? True, the illustrations are lively and colorful, and the story fun, but nothing worth a medal. Fine for a school or home library. 

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: 1969 Caldecott Medal

ISBN: 978-0-374-42438-1
Year Published: 1968
Date Finished: 3-13-2016

Pages: 23

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ramble: Currently Reading

I'm normally reading at least three books at a time. I blame my mother for this one. As a child, I would often get caught up in a book at the expense of my chores, and my punishment was always to have the book taken away for a week. So I would start a second (or a third, or fourth, as the case might be) while waiting for the first (or second, or third) to be returned. So being in the multiple books at a time is standard. 

But over the last week, my currently reading pile is out of control!


Eight. EIGHT! 

Let's break this down. 

The Slow Readers: These are books that I am intentionally reading at a slow pace. 

The Intellectual Devotional: Health by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim: This is my "purse book" - meaning, it's the one I keep in my purse for quick reading in grocery store lines and dead-stop traffic. 

Tozer on the Almighty God compiled by Ron Eggert: This is a daily devotional take from the extensive works of A.W. Tozer. I started it in October, and being that is it 366 daily reads, it's going to take me a year. Obviously. 

The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle: This is an expanded Book of Common Prayer, part of a three book set, spanning the year. This one will be complete at the end of Spring, and I will move to the Summer one. 

The Early Reviewers: I'm part of LibraryThing's Early Review program and I get free books in exchange for my opinion. Which, let's be honest, I'm going to give anyway. 

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo: DiCamillo write books often set in Florida - The Tale of Winn Dixie and The Tiger Rising, both of which I enjoyed. And being that I grew up in Florida, any story set in my beloved homeland is sure to get my attention. Plus, DiCamillo is excellent as saying a lot with a few words, and bringing out depth in her characters. 

Harry Potter and the Classical World: Greek and Roman Allusions in J.K Rowling’s Modern Epic by Richard A. Spencer: The title says it all. A bit more academic than I assumed, it's taking me time to read it, but I'm enjoying it. 

For Fun:

The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp: This is precisely what it seems. Books read by book clubs across the nation, and dishes that match the books. 

The Call to Arms: Book One of The Damned by Alan Dean Foster: First book in a trilogy. Space Opera with aliens and telepathy and crazy technologies and dire circumstances and daring exploits. Just my sort of fiction. 

Hearing God by Dallas Willard:  A Renowned theologian, Willard gives excellent expositions about God and our relationship with him. This one is one prayer and has proven, so far, to be excellent. (Not picture is the audiobook I'm listening too, also by Willard called the Divine Conspiracy). 

So many books, so little time!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review: Anastasia at Your Service by Lois Lowry

Synopsis: A long, boring summer - that's what Anastasia has to look forward to when her best friend goes off to camp. She's thrilled when old Mrs. Bellingham answers her ad for a job as a Lady's Companion. Anastasia is sure her troubles are over - she'll be busy and earn money! But she doesn't expect to have a polish silver and serve at Mrs. Bellingham's granddaughter's birthday party as a maid! As if that isn't bad enough, she accidentally drops a piece of silverware down the garbage disposal and must use her earnings to pay for it! Is the summer destined to be a disaster? (from the back of the book)

Review: This had all the makings of your average Anastasia book - meaning adventure, snark, vocabulary, imagination, schemes, and friendships. But then the issue with Sam, Anastasia's brother, and the book got much more serious. The relationship we have with our siblings, particularly when we are young, is complicated. Anastasia learns that, learns you can love someone and be annoyed by them at the same time. And that getting mad at a siblings doesn't mean you don't love them. I also enjoyed seeing Anastasia navigate her first job. Again, I highly recommend all of the Anastasia books, but this one in particular is a good story for kids.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-440-40290-5
Year Published: 1982
Date Finished: 3-6-16
Pages: 149

Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: Anastasia on Her Own by Lois Lowry

Synopsis: Help! Anastasia Krupnik's mother must organize her chaotic life. So Anastasia, who is a very organized person, and her father invent the solution to Mrs. Krupnick's problem: the Krupnik Family Nonsexist Housekeeping Schedule. But when Mrs. Krupnik goes to California on a ten-day business trip, Anastasia finds that the problem isn't solved at all. It's hard to stick to a schedule that doesn't leave room for her little brother, Sam, who's come down with the chicken pox, and her father's former girlfriend, who's invited herself to dinner. How is Anastasia supposed to cope with these interruptions when she’s planning her first dream-date dinner for Steve Harvey? It's a cinch. As long as she sticks to the Krupnick Romantic Dinner Week Schedule, what could possibly go wrong? (from the back of the book)

Review: As always, Lowry's Anastasia's stories are enjoyable. Anastasia deals with the events in a realistic way. Caught between child and adult, mature for her age but still innocent, she has an imaginative and bold way of approaching things. Being the daughter of an English professor, she has an extensive vocabulary, which she uses. As a word-lover myself, this is fun to read. I also enjoyed watching Anastasia learn what it's like to manage a household. Her complaining in the beginning changed to gratitude when she saw how hard her mom worked.
I had an odd moment during this book, too, as I realized, I'm probably the age of Anastasia's parents - and I find I approve of their parenting style. I'm also not sure I would be as supportive of my daughter if she died my best white table cloth purple, but hey - too each their own.
I highly recommend these books. Although written in the mid-80s, other than the lack of cellphones, they don't feel dated or out-of-touch. Perfect for your 10-12 year old girls.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-440-40291-3
Year Published: 1985
Date Finished: 3-6-2016
Pages: 131

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith

Synopsis: When we last saw Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy—at the end of the New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—they were preparing for a lifetime of wedded bliss. Yet the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the only acceptable course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote being developed in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love—and for everyone to live happily ever after. (from the online description)

This was the best of the three. But I'm not certain if that is because it's actually better or because by the third book, I was able to suspended any hope of something like The Walking Dead and just assumed I was getting Night of the Living Dead. This made the story moderately enjoyable. Like watching a cheesy horror flick because it is a cheesy horror flick. The zombies still don't make sense. How the hell did King George get bitten? Why, after 20+ years of zombie attacks, have the British NOT figured out how to handle the issue? And what happen to the bunny? Because I really did care more about the bunny than the people. One might argue that since I care about the story, it must be good. Don't mistake my questions for caring. I ask them because if the answers had any consistency or coherent reality to them, the story would be ten times better. But the answers are dumb and so is the story.
The only bit I liked was Anne being a zombie. As she was always described as a "pale, sickly creature" this was perfect.
However, there was a enough ridiculous romance, nasty ninja, dastardly doctors, and flesh-eating zombies to make this a fine read for a lazy afternoon by the pool. I wouldn't recommend it, but I also wouldn't buy copies just to burn.

Bookmarks: 6 1/2 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-59474-502-7
Year Published: 2011
Date Finished: 3-4-2016
Pages: 287

Friday, March 4, 2016

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Synopsis: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read. (from the online description)

After seeing the movie, I decided I should probably read the book. It was dreadful (pun intended).
I understood this to be a re-write of P&P, but with the assumption that zombies existed and Lizzie Bennet engaged in war against them.  I expected zombies to be integral to the plot and the quality to similar to Austen’s original work.
Instead, it felt like Grahame-Smith just replaced words in Austen’s story with the word zombie. Most of the time, the mention of zombies made no sense in the sentence or scene. It seemed the zombies where just dumped in without consideration for how they connect to the plot. It ruined the story. The idea of Lizzie as a warrior was fantastic, but the execution was cheesy, amateurish, and ridiculous.  The constant references to their time in China and the over-the-top training they supposedly received – seemed ludicrous and stupid. If they were so well trained, Lizzie wouldn’t lose control and nearly behead Darcy just for insulting her. Lame. And zombies weren’t the only thing dumped in. Grahame-Smith also added odd things that had no influence on the story - like Mrs. Gardner having an affair with an old boyfriend. Why would you add that in?
My other main complaint is the inconsistencies in the story. For example, at the time of the story, zombies have been around for 20+ years.  So why do they still have zombies coming up from the earth, new, each spring. Why aren’t people cutting the heads off – in particular because it is the law? And after a while, with all the roving bands of militia, the warriors like Elizabeth and her family, and Darcy and his family - do you still have these large packs of zombies? After a while, you’d simply kill all the ones above ground, and dig up and kill all the ones in the graves? The population seems to shift it’s attitudes towards zombies based on whatever suites the plot at the time. This creates characters that change – one page they are ignoring basic zombie safety, the next berating other characters for their lack. There was also a lack of consistency in the supposed British manners – sometimes it seemed society praised the skills of the warrior and others, the girls were shunned and whispered about for carrying sword.
In the end, I had to shift my thinking. By treating it as I would, say, an episode of Power Rangers, meaning, I suspend hope or expectation of consistency or reality, I assume the author is an amateur and the intended the story for a immature audience, was I able to finish this book. It almost was enjoyable once I stopped expecting it to be good. Not sure how this made it to the top of the best-seller list with it being so dreadful…..

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-59474-334-4
Year Published: 2009
Date Finished: 3-1-2016
Pages: 319

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith

Synopsis: Readers will witness the birth of a heroine in Dawn of the Dreadfuls—a thrilling prequel set four years before the horrific events of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. As our story opens, the Bennet sisters are enjoying a peaceful life in the English countryside. They idle away the days reading, gardening, and daydreaming about future husbands—until a funeral at the local parish goes strangely and horribly awry. Suddenly corpses are springing from the soft earth—and only one family can stop them. As the bodies pile up, we watch Elizabeth Bennet evolve from a naive young teenager into a savage slayer of the undead. Along the way, two men vie for her affections: Master Hawksworth is the powerful warrior who trains her to kill, while thoughtful Dr. Keckilpenny seeks to conquer the walking dead using science instead of strength. Will either man win the prize of Elizabeth’s heart? Or will their hearts be feasted upon by hordes of marauding zombies? Complete with romance, action, comedy, and an army of shambling corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls will have Jane Austen rolling in her grave—and just might inspire her to crawl out of it! (from the online description)

Review: This is a dreadful book (pun intended). Seriously. It's like the author never read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The discrepancies are too numerous to mention. Huge plot holes, the ridiculous attempt at a romantic triangle, complete disregarded for the original work and Austen’s style of writing. It’s a travesty. Not worth reading at all, as it’s certainly cannot be cannon. Worthless book.  

Bookmarks: 5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-59474-454-9
Year Published: 2010
Date Finished: 2-21-2016
Pages: 287