Saturday, April 2, 2011


You know, I never thought a video game could injure you . . . but it did. Thank you, Wii Fit, I now officially have a pulled muscle . . . in my side . . . breathing is killer. It's been three days and we show no signs of improvement. Oh well. Pride must suffer pain, right?

Oh, and P.S. to the Dude in front of me in the grocery store checkout: Seriously? Playing your Nintendo DS the entire time you're in line? We can pause Mortal Combat 500 for just a few minutes to acknowledge the existence of other human beings, right? or, as a society, are we that desperate to be constantly entertained? Just a thought.

Anywho . . . On with the reviews of recent reads!

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

Hadassah, a Jewish Christian, is captured then sold as a slave after the Roman victory over Jerusalem. She is bought by the Valerians, a wealthy Roman family with two grown children: the handsome, pleasure-seeking Marcus and the spoiled but stunning Julia. And from this point I have to divide the book into pros and cons because I'm not sure how else to describe the plot.
  • The character development is excellent. Wonderful relationship dynamics--you get the good, the bad, the ugly, growth--whether good or bad there is growth--and they all seemed realistic. 
  • Julia's development and downward spiral is very well done. Both the character and her circumstances struck me as pretty realistic. Is she annoying as all get-out? YES. But she's the one character that really drew me in because she is so desperate. 
  • Ms. Rivers also did a great job at bringing first century Rome to life. The research is fabulous and the integration of Roman and Jewish culture is very well done. You can't help but notice similarities between Ancient Rome and the modern world. Similarities to teach a lesson or are our worlds really that much alike? Hmmm . . . 
  • I love the story of Atretes--a German Barbarian turned Roman-loathing gladiator. He was just a really fascinating character. 
  • You do end up loving Hadassah, but sometimes she seemed just a little too perfect.
  • Dear Ms. Rivers: I know that fainting, heat waves, tremors of desire, trembling, fluttering lashes, and all this glorious melodrama is completely necessary to romance . . . which is why I personally have never experienced any of it. And P.S. when Marcus grabs her wrist and "felt her pounding pulse beneath his thumb" . . . you can't feel a pulse with your thumb--it's scientifically impossible because, you see, your thumb has it's own pulse. So, really, Marcus was feeling his own inner romantic swarthy turmoil. Yeah . . .
  • Ok, this whole Marcus/Haddassah thing (should we call them Mardassah?) . . . where the crap did that come from???? I get that it's supposed to create tension in the plot . . . but I did NOT understand when and why she fell for him, and how could he be drawn to a person whose lifestyle he openly detests? I almost understood his attraction--she's innocent and kind--but what on God's green earth attracted her to him? Please, Hadassah, tell me you have more depth than to fall for his good looks and charm. I absolutely couldn't get into the romance because I didn't see it. Seriously. I totally understood and could envision Julia and all of her screwed up relationships, but I just could not get my mind wrapped around the one couple I was supposed to be cheering for. 
  • P.P.S Ms Rivers, the young man who ran off naked on the Mount of Olives was John MARK not John of the Gospel John. Golly, all that Scripture quotage in the book and you get this one thing wrong. Really bugged me.
Now, will I be reading the two sequels? I think so. Just to see if it all pulls together well. I've heard wonderful things from friends, so I'm more open to this series than I usually am when it comes to Christian fiction. Though, I must be honest, if the romance gets any more romantic . . . hmmm . . .

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

I was shocked at how much I just loved this book. I usually avoid Big Names like Koontz when it comes to modern fiction because I feel like it's all rehashed plots and predictability. Not this one.

Odd--yes, that's his name--is your average twenty-year-old fry-cook who can see dead people--not communicate with them because, you see, according to Odd, the dead are mute. Content with his life and destined to marry his longtime girlfriend, Stormy, Odd pretends he doesn't have the ghost of Elvis following him around. When he begins seeing shadow creatures--a sign of tragedy--roaming his small, California town by the thousands, Odd sets out to prevent a disaster without any idea where it will strike or who/what is the cause. Hysterical, creative, filled with fantastic characters, suspenseful (the first book in a long, long time to make me jump in my seat and gasp out loud), and surprisingly touching,  Odd Thomas is a winner. I read this book in five hours, and wished there had been more.

A random thing that made me smile was that Odd is the fictional incarnation of the hubs. Not even kidding. The dry, witty humor could have come out of Chris's mouth and not from Koontz pen . . .er. . . keyboard? It was also nice to see a believable, touching romance between two likable characters with chemistry and compatibility but without the pages and pages of explicit sex.(in fact there's not a single sex scene) . . as opposed to most modern fiction where it's ALL about sex and not about two people understanding and caring for each other.

The only thing that bugged me? The Black Room. Awesome, awesome concept and introduction. But the explanation later on was almost as if Koontz had forgotten about it then remembered he still had some loose ends to tie up. Oh yeah it was this and this and this . . . huh? Still, it didn't ruin the story
Still five stars. Not even kidding. Bravo, Mr. Koontz. Bravo.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I have read this book three times within the past year and would read it again tomorrow if I weren't reading something else. Mr. Gaiman, you sir, are a master of the written word. I am not worthy to clip your baby toenail. Clear, concise (no word is frivolous), stunning narration, wonderful fleshed-out characters, and a delightful, creative story. Oh, I love it, I love it, I love it!

One night, a baby wanders into a graveyard inhabited by well-mannered, well-meaning ghosts who never before bothered with the world of the living outside their gates. Adopted by the Owens ghosts, the infant grows into the intelligent and "grave" Nobody Owens who has a series of suspenseful adventures both within and outside of the graveyard including--but not exclusively--a ghoulish kidnapping, a pre-Celtic creature, schoolyard bullies, and the reason he came to the graveyard in the first place. Surprisingly, one little person can change the world and, truly, life is wasted on the living.

Gaiman originally created this tale to be his own version of Kipling's The Jungle Book (and if you've read The Jungle Book, you'll love spotting the similarities) but Graveyard Book quickly became it's own supernatural creature. Gaiman's dark sense of humor peppers the pages with wit, new worlds and creatures, and suspense. It's marketed as a children's book (and won a Newberry Honor Award FYI) and is an easy read but can be enjoyed by any age group. I've made it my mission to pass this book out to anyone with a love for the written word and leans towards fantasy and the supernatural. If you don't finish this and feel warmth in your heart and a tear in your eye, then you are completely soulless . . . and that's coming from a Grinch like me.
 Six out of Five Stars. No joke. Read it.


  1. i also loved the Graveyard Book! Bod is wonderful.

  2. I love Francine Rivers, and that trilogy was my favorite!


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