announcing ‘the outsiders’ read-along!

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I first read The Outsiders in the summer of 2016 and I’ve loved it ever since.  I borrowed it from the library (this gorgeous edition) and read it and grew so attached that I took it with me on the family vacay (something I never do with library books because they could get Lost or Damaged).  Then I found and bought my own copy at a thrift store and then I spent a million bucks on the brand-new, 50th anniversary edition.  And watched the movie.  And loved the characters and themes so much that The Outsiders quickly become my favorite book of all time, a title previously held by Gone With the Wind (and I adore how there’s a connection between the two).

So now I want to share that love with you, my love for The Outsiders (book and characters).  And what better way to do that than with a read-along, where I (and you!) go chapter by chapter through the book, discussing and thinking and fangirling the whole way through? (And, yes, this read-along is inspired by those read-alongs.)

I’m thinking I’ll do a chapter a week, as the chapters are pretty long and each one is filled with so much plot and character stuff.  If anyone wants to write a guest post for this read-along – character sketch, movie review, what The Outsiders means to you – email me at evaschon1793@gmail.com and we’ll talk.  I’m super excited for this and I hope you are as well!  Whether you’ve read The Outsiders several times or have never read it, there’ll be something in this read-along for you.  Hope to see you there!

Eva

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cover reveal: ‘dancing & doughnuts’ by Rachel Kovaciny

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Do you know how happy I am to participate in this cover reveal?  Ridiculously happy!!!  I’ve had the privilege of reading a draft of Dancing & Doughnuts and let me assure you…if you liked Cloaked, you’ll love D&D (it sounds cliched to say, but it’s true).  It’s a sweet, happy mystery filled with lovely characters and descriptions of doughnuts that will send you out to buy some ASAP.

Before we get to the beautiful cover, let me share a few things about Dancing & Doughnuts.  It’s a retelling of the classic fairytale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses (one of my favorite fairytales, incidentally), and it’s book 2 in Rachel’s series Once Upon a WesternDancing & Doughnuts is set for release in August 2018 and here’s a little plot summary so you won’t go into the story completely blind as to what’s going on:

Someone’s been spiking the apple cider at a Kansas dance hall owned by a family with twelve daughters. No one in the small town has been able to find the culprit. A hungry Civil War veteran drifts into town and decides he’s going to solve this mystery for them and earn the reward the family is offering.

And you can find the book on Goodreads here and Rachel Kovaciny herself here!

SO.  Let’s get to the real reason we’re all here: the cover reveal!

….

Are you ready???

Dancing and Doughnuts cover

*SQUEALS*

Isn’t it wonderful?  As with Cloaked, I love the textures and the general style of it all.  Reminds me of a Lois Lenski illustration, in a way.  Super vintage and I love it.

What do you think of the cover?  Do you plan on reading D&D? (You should!)

Eva

the les mis book tag

Stole this from Twist in the Taile.

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~I Dreamed a Dream: a book that didn’t live up to your high expectations

If We Survive by Andrew Klavan.  This book had the potential to be so good!  Four Christian teens on a missions trip in a South American country and a bitter, disillusioned Marine must band together to reach home when a revolution breaks out in said country.  But the characters killed the book.  They were cardboard cutouts, stereotypes of the worst kind, and it was painful to read. (The only good character was the aforementioned Marine.)  Such a disappointment.

~The Confrontation: your favourite literary duo

This is actually a trio, but I LOVE the Baudelaire siblings in A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Actual siblings goals.  For real.

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~Castle on a Cloud: a book that comforts you

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass and any book by Katherine Reay.  The Candymakers has been special to me ever since I read it for the first time.  Logan’s sweetness (haha!), generosity, and ability to look squarely at the world even when the world ducks away from him speaks to my heart.  And Phillip makes me cry.  Ditto for Miles.  And Daisy…Daisy adds sugar and spice to the group.  As for Katherine Reay, her books are gentle reads that at the same time aren’t afraid to talk about real issues and struggles.

~Red and Black: an unpopular bookish opinion

Jo. And. Laurie. Would. Have. Been. Horrible. As. A. Couple.

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~Do You Hear the People Sing?: a book you read because of hype

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Never should’ve read it. #regrets

~One Day More: a book that kept you reading into the next chapter (and the next and the next)

Fear is the Key by Alistair MacLean.  Such a nail-biting read!

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~On My Own: a ship of yours that isn’t canon

Everyone in The Hunger Games + happiness.

~Drink With Me: your favourite bookish friendship

Hamlet and Horatio keep coming to mind, for some reason…

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~Bring Him Home: that one character you will do anything to protect

Johnny from The Outsiders.  He’s a precious cinnamon roll with a heart of gold, also horribly abused by his parents and he wouldn’t know what love is if the guys didn’t take care of him and THAT LETTER and basically he deserves all the hugs.

~Empty Chairs at Empty Tables: a character death you don’t think you’ll ever recover from

SO MANY.  Honestly, there are probably dozens.  Sydney Carton (A Tale of Two Cities), Dan Kean (Jo’s Boys), Finnick Odair (Mockingjay), Johnny Cade (The Outsiders), Rab Silsbee (Johnny Tremain), everyone who dies except Bane (Underland Chronicles), Queenie (Code Name Verity), Jest (Heartless)…and the list goes on.  Please commiserate with me in the comments.

code name verity: this quote from the book was one of the most emotional scenes I've ever read in a book. i sobbed

If you’re a fan of Les Mis, you’re tagged!

Eva

life of pi: a story that will make you believe in God?

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Recently, I asked for blog post ideas from my followers and one of my them asked some interesting questions about Life of Pi.  Those questions were so good and so intriguing that I thought I might as well dedicate a whole blog post to answering them.  There’s no doubt that Life of Pi is a beautifully written work.  But it’s also not without its problems and I’ll address some of them as I answer these questions.

Question #1 – Which ‘explanation’ did you think was the truth?

(Going to be major spoilers here, just so you know.)

So, a little background to the above question.  After Pi makes it to the shores of Mexico, he gets asked a bunch of questions by a couple insurance inspectors (because their company had insured the ship that sank).  They don’t believe Pi’s tale of all that happened with him and the animals (especially Richard Parker).  So, out of frustration, Pi spins another tale where all the animals have been replaced by people on the ship (the ship’s cook is the hyena, Pi’s mom is the orangutan, Pi himself is Richard Parker) and the inspectors believe that story, though they admit that they like the one with the animals better.

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As I read Pi’s alternate version of events, I didn’t think seriously about the fact that he could have been an unreliable narrator for the last three hundred pages and was only now telling the truth.  I suppose that could be the case.  But, like the inspectors, I prefer the story with the animals (not least of all because cannibalism is a thing in the other version) and…I believe Pi was a completely reliable and truthful narrator.  I believe (as much as you can with fiction) that there really was a tiger called Richard Parker and that he and Pi shared the same uneasy existence together on the lifeboat/raft/floating island.

Question #2 – What do you think it said about the existence of God?

First of all, I’m confused by the idea that a work of fiction could make someone believe in God.  And yet that’s what Yann Martel says that Life of Pi will do.  If the book was a true story, I could understand Martel’s claims, but as it stands, Life of Pi is fictional and I can’t see how it would make anyone believe in God. (Though Martel’s considerable writing talent and creativity has an undeniable Source.)

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Secondly, I would say that the god Martel writes about in Life of Pi is not the true God of the Bible.  Pi follows three religions – Hinduism, Islam, and Catholicism.  According to Pi/the author, each of these religions worships the same God.  But how can that be when Hinduism has hundreds (if not thousands) of gods, Islam does not accept the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, and Catholicism believe that Jesus is God’s Son?  You can’t reconcile these three religions.

Overall, I’d say that Life of Pi gives a muddled, theologically unsound view of God and His attributes.

Question #3 – What did you think of it as a whole?

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Life of Pi is problematic.  There’s no doubt about that.  There’s a little swearing and some iffy theology and gory parts that make me want to gag (I loathe hyenas now).  I’d only recommend it to truly mature readers.  But it’s also a powerfully drawn novel that highlights some of the things I love best about books.

 

  • The writing is phenomenal.  Yann Martel writes with a clearness and conciseness and interestingness that gripped me from the very first page.  The way he wove the story together and kept building the tension between Pi and Richard Parker…it was masterfully done.
  • The characters!  Pi was a great hero, complex and brave and troubled and unique.  I also liked Pi’s family and The Author with his little asides and Richard Parker was actually the legit best.  Totally a character in his own right.
  • Have I mentioned that the plot was just plain interesting?  I think the Great Books can sometimes be a little boring because they’re so literary and the language gets in the way of the story.  But Life of Pi has none of that.  The writing is wonderful, yes, but the plot is even more so.  My favorite part is the floating island.  That whole little episode was so clever and intriguing.

 

So, those are just a few of my thoughts concerning Life of Pi.  It’s an amazing book, though I wouldn’t recommend it wholeheartedly.  And the movie is quite good as well, quite faithful to the book.  And gorgeous, the kind of movie aesthetic that I crave.  Oh, and speaking of movies, I watched ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ last night and that bit when Irrfan Khan’s character was talking about Peter’s dad, Richard Parker, made me give a delighted snicker. (How can a snicker be delighted?  I don’t know, but it was.)  BEST. (And, I have to believe, unintentional, since ‘Life of Pi’ came out after TAS-M.)

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Have you read Life of Pi?  What did you think of it?

Eva

DNF’ed: why I’ll put down a book

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It’s no secret that I love books.  They’re wonderful friends.  But I’ve often stopped reading different books for one reason or another and I thought I’d share those reasons with you because it’ll make for an interesting blog post. (And I don’t write enough bookish posts on this blog.)  Now I will say that if you went on my ‘Read’ shelf on Goodreads, you’d probably find at least one book for each rule/guideline I’ll list here.  Nobody is consistent 100% of the time.  But I try not to be a hypocrite, so…yeah.  If you have any questions about my reading choices, let me have ’em in the comments!

// Swearing //

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Authors, take note!

I can handle some bad language in the books I read.  But if there’s multiple f-bombs or uses of Jesus’s name as a curse word, I’ll set it aside.  I do tolerate more swearing in a book if I own that book and can mark out the words as I read but, again, if there’s tons of bad language, I’ll probably give it up.

// Sexual Content //

I don’t have a meme for this. 😛

If it’s just one scene, I’ll skip it and move on.  But if there’s multiple scenes and/or sexual references and crude comments, I won’t keep reading.

(I also usually won’t read books with LGBTQ+ characters.)

// Magic //

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This is a little bit of a tricky subject.  I’m mostly fine with stuff that’s more natural and organic to the storyworld.  But witches, wizards, sorcery, magic spells…I’m out.

// Messes with my mind //

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This one is a little difficult to explain.  As an example, there’s the Percy Jackson series.  I read all the books and really enjoyed them (LUKE IS STILL THE BEST *cries*) but by the end of them (and also after starting a couple other of Riordan’s books) I found that they were messing with how I thought of God.  I started to think of Him a little more…flippantly?  I realize that this doesn’t happen to everyone and I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t read Rick Riordan’s books (he’s an amazing author), but personally, I’ve decided I won’t.

There’s also books that change how I think of certain fictional characters.  A couple examples: I recently stopped reading a book called Little Women and Me mainly because the March girls were all portrayed as nasty, simple-minded prudes and Laurie was really weird as well.  I don’t want that version of the characters stuck in my head!  And then there’s the novelization of ‘Risen’, which I didn’t get very far into because I didn’t like how Angela Hunt was handling the character of Lucius.  Maybe I’m weird for DNF’ing books just for that reason, but it’s how I am.

// Boring //

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And, finally, if a book is boring, I’ll more likely than not refuse to finish it.  The quote “So many books, so little time” is legit, people, and I don’t have time to waste on books that don’t grip me.

There you go!  Five reasons for why I may not have finished that I’m-sure-it’s-totally-cool book you recommended to me last week. 😉  What are some things that will make you DNF a book?

Eva

P.S. As you may have guessed my blogging slump is a thing of the past.  Thanks for all the encouragement!

book review: to save a race

To Save a Race

When Duke Callon divorces his wife and decides on an uncanny way of choosing his next duchess, Arianna’s left with little choice. Faced with the intricacies of politics, Arianna struggles to find her place. Just as she thinks she has her footing, a decree, issued with the blessing of her husband, calls for the extermination of her entire race. 

A young innocent girl, a capricious duke, and a decree that will change everything. What will it take to save a race? 

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Esther has always been one of the my favorite books in the Bible, so when I was offered the chance to read and review To Save a Race, a steampunk retelling of Esther, I was more than happy to do so.

WHAT I LIKED:

~The faithfulness of the retelling. Kandi J. Wyatt did an admirable job of placing the story of Esther into a steampunk setting and didn’t switch around story details as many retellings of fairytales and such do. Which is good because Esther isn’t a fairytale – the events in that book actually happened.

~Characterization was pretty solid, as was the writing. I’m not sure that Kenden added a lot to the story, but I still liked him. I was prepared to dislike Callon, but how he changed and grew and worked through his weaknesses and insecurities…I quite liked him by the end. Marcos was great, as any version of Mordecai should be.

~The writing was also well-done. To Save a Race was a quick, easy, enjoyable read because of that.

~I liked Callon and Arianna’s relationship. Believable, even though they got married so quickly.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

~The steampunk setting wasn’t too clear and aside from a few mentions of leather corsets, the use of gas instead of electricity, and hand-cranked car engines, there weren’t many details. Which was disappointing because I love the concept of steampunk and I wish I could’ve been immersed in the story world.

~Arianna was annoying at the beginning. She reminded me of Esther in ‘One Night With the King’ sometimes and that’s not the best thing.  Still, by the end of the book she’d grown as a character, which is what matters.

Overall, I had an enjoyable time reading To Save a Race and I’d recommend it to fans of retellings and clean Christian fiction.

Have you read To Save a Race?  Do you know of any other Biblical retellings?  I’d love to hear about them!

Eva