Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top 10 Christian Fantasies

Here's a list of my top 10 Christian fantasies to date:

*Lord of the Rings (some people may find this dry and dull...I personally don't. Also, some may argue that it's not a "Christian" book. I think that even though it was published in the secular world, Tolkien's faith shone through the work. And truly, if you're considering writing fantasy, Tolkien is a must-read).

*The Chronicles of Narnia. (Once again, this wasn't strictly "Christian" fantasy. Lewis himself said that he didn't mean to make it allegorical. But as with Tolkien, his faith shone through his work. Another must-read for the fantasy writer.)

*The Door Within Trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson. (This is a very imaginative work, with lots of action. The only thing I regretted was not getting to spend more time in the world and discovering more about Glimpses.)

*The Dragonkeeper Chronicles. (Anyone who loves dragons has to read these books. Some people may not agree with the magic usage in them, but I think Paul did an amazing job setting magical boundaries.)

*The Curse of the Spider King by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper. (This book was amazing! I loved how our world intertwined with the Elvish one, Allyra, and the comings and goings between the worlds--fascinating! And they had some really creepy, imaginative bad guys...I'm envious that they came up with the Drefids! I'm looking forward to the sequel, Venom and Song.)

*Auralia's Colors by Jeff Overstreet. (This one I'm not sure about...for being an amazing, imaginative work of fiction with gorgeous description, it's one of my favorites. But I'm not sure where he's going with it...so we'll see)

* The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker. (Once again, the comings and goings between our world and Otherworld are so cool! ery imaginative)

*Lonoma's Map by F.W. Faller. (It seems no one has ever heard of this book or the prequel, A Sword For the Immerland King. I love these books! The world building is incredible within itself--I mean, the author has a whole fantasy explanation of the moral guidelines in the world!)

*The Sword of Lyric series by Sharon Hinck. (OK, these books are cool. Way cool. The world is cool, the characters are cool, cool books!)

*Lilith by George MacDonald. (MacDonald's kids books I hear about often, but not so much his adult fantasies. This one takes a Jewish myth about Adam's first wife, Lilith, and turns it into an incredible fantasy set in another world.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kindle Technology

I recently read a very good post at Rachelle Gardner's agent blog about how she doesn't think any of the new e-readers (Sony E-Reader, Kindle, etc) will replace books.

I totally agree!

Which mind sound a little weird, because I'm usually up for any new technology that comes out. For instance, I think that iPods and mp3 players are the best invention since the wheel (OK, slight exaggeration) and I wouldn't mind having all the bells and whistles of a BlackBerry phone.

But, I've also read books online--several Sherlock Holmes, an Agatha Christie, The Christmas Carol, and Worlds Unseen by Rachel Starr Thompson (which I will soon be doing a review of). And I just couldn't get into them.

Usually, I don't passively read an Agatha Christie--I'm trying to run ahead of her, figure out the clues, and generally outdo Miss Marple or Hercule Poroit. But in the one I read online, I just sat there and read. I couldn't get into it.

There's nothing that beats a book in my hands--the feel of it, the smell of it, especially if it's an old book. As for having a Bible on a Kindle, I say there's really nothing that can beat having a print Bible, along with your own highlights and notes. I also enjoy having two bookshelves in my room that are overflowing with books. Yes, it makes it a little messy, but I think there's aesthetic value in a room that has shelves full of books (of course, ask my future siblings-in-law, most of whom don't like reading, and they'd probably say there's nothing scarier. :0)

However, I can see where having a Kindle would be useful. Rachelle talks about using her Kindle to read client manuscripts and edit them. Wow! That would save me quite a bit of money on paper and ink--because I can't edit using the computer (I've tried). I think there's something so satisfactory about being able to make utter chaos of manuscript pages, go back, and re-enter them, making it even more beautiful than before!

So, yes, I see a need and a use for e-readers. I wouldn't mind having one too much if they came waaaaayy down in price (like all the other technology I like). But, if not, it's not going to ruin my life--I'm perfectly content with paper, ink, and a good book in hand.

How about you?

Technical Difficulties

Hey everyone,
I apologize for not posting yesterday. I'm having trouble getting my Windows LiveWriter program to upload to my blog, so please bear with me as I'm trying to figure it all out! Thanks!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The City of Ember and The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember

Storyline: Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow have grown up in the city of Ember, where floodlights provide their day, no one ventures beyond the city limits, and the generator that provides their electricity is slowly dying.

On the final day of school, Assignment Day, where the students of Ember receive jobs, Doon draws messenger and Lina draws Pipeworks laborer. They trade because Lina has always wanted to be a messenger, while Doon wants to be close to the generator because he thinks he has ideas on how to fix it.

But things twist in a different direction than they expect. Doon discovers that the generator's workings are far beyond his knowledge, and Lina's grandmother finds a strange box in their closet. Unfortunately, Lina's little sister Poppy takes and eats half of the paper in it before Lina can look at it.

Lina and Doon discover a hoarding plot by the mayor of Ember, plus instructions for leaving the city. They decide to take action before the generator breaks and the city is lost in darkness.

My Take:

Though it's written for younger teens, the post-apocalyptic premise of this book snagged my attention. Technically, it's very well-written except for the head-hopping she does. And even that isn't as confusing as it could have been.

I saw the movie first, but as I read the book, I wondered, Why couldn't they have stuck to the book more faithfully? It's fully exciting enough as is. The giant mole didn't need to be added, nor the story of Lina's parents changed.

There's mention of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship between a 12-year-old girl and an I-don't-know-how-old guy, though the book leads us to assume that he's only a few years older. But nothing worse.

There's a definite humanistic/socialistic outlook to the books, with the assigning of jobs and the belief that humans can fix the mess they created themselves. It mentions Believers, people who think that the Builders of Ember are coming back to rescue them. Whether that's making fun of spiritual issues (not Christianity specifically, I think) or if it's just a part of Ember's ordinary life, I'm not sure.

Altogether, though, this is a fun, exciting book most suitable for kids 11-14, though I think older ones could enjoy it.

Rating: four out of five stars

The People of Sparks

Storyline: The people of Ember have made it out of the mountain! Doon and Lina lead their people from the mountains, inadvertently stumbling upon a small town, Sparks. The town leaders agree to let them stay until the month of Chilling, winter.

The Emberites eagerly begin learning how to survive in the world. But it's much harder than they imagined—their muscles aren't nearly strong enough, and their pale skin is susceptible to bug bites, poison plants, and sunburn.

Lina decides she dislikes it in the village, and when a roaming trader comes through, she secretly hitches a ride to a ruined city, which she discovers isn't what she expected.

Doon, intent on making their situation better, struggles to understand the new world. But Tick, another young man, is intent on one thing—stirring up trouble.

My Take:

I found Doon just as curious and likable as ever, but Lina seemed—sneaky. I didn't like that she slips off without telling anyone that she's going to the ruined city.

I think there would be more hope in these books if there was any mention of God. But there's not. Even the Believers seem to have vanished. And, once again, Lina's friend Lizzie attaches herself to a loser guy (this time Tick instead of Looper).

However, this is a decent read. The story of a group struggling for survival is intriguing and brings to mind stories of pioneers. The reminder that some things really aren't worth all that much in the grand scheme of things is very welcome. It's good to see kid protagonists shown working hard (even if they complain about it). Also, it shows how ingenious people can be when they have to come up with stuff on their own.

And, though it sounds hard, the life of a roamer (roaming trader) sounds interesting. It made me wish she'd write a book specifically about a roamer.

Rating: four out of five stars


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