Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus, by Ruth Rosen


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I admit it. Sometimes when I review a book that I've gotten free from Booksneeze I am a little more generous with my praise because when I say "it's good" what I really mean is "it's good for a Christian novel" or "it's good for a YA novel" or "it's good for a Christian biography". In other words, "it's good, considering this isn't exactly the kind of book I would normally read if I hadn't already agreed to do so." I'm not being dishonest, I'm just giving it the benefit of the doubt because maybe it isn't exactly the kind of book I thought it would be when I first agreed to review it and I don't want to be rude. Afterall, if I never read YA novels and then give a horrible review of one based solely on the fact that I don't read YA novels, that's not very helpful to anyone, is it?

Anyway, the point is, I'm not sure how to state how much I genuinely LOVED Called to Controversy without making it sound like I'm secretly implying "it's good for a religious biography." It is good for a religious biography because, quite frankly, I had started to think that all religious biographies were hopelessly saccharine, cloying, unwilling to address any unpleasantness and incapable of objectivity. But also, this book is "good, for a biography" but also just plain good. It is an excellent story, expertly written.

More gushing after the jump...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mr g: A Novel About The Creation, by Alan Lightman


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If you've ever found yourself wondering where you can find a novel that combines poetry, science fiction, theology and astrophysics, preferably by an author who is also a professor at Harvard and MIT and who builds schools in Cambodia in his spare time, then look no further. Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams (one of my all time favourites) has a new novel about the unnamed deity (known only by the title as "Mr g") who got bored and decided to start making things. It's a lovely tale about stars, religion and math.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick DeWitt


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Well, this isn't the kind of book I normally read and I have to admit that the author photo freaked me out quite a bit--he's like a hipster undertaker--but I was intrigued by the buzz around this book and the captivating cover. Plus I wanted to understand the title. Turns out "The Sisters Brothers" refers to Eli and Charlie Sisters (it's their last name), a pair of hired hitmen travelling from Oregon City to California in 1851 in search of their latest target, a prospector named Hermann Kermit Warm. Their boss, the elusive Commodore, has sent them to kill the man because he apparently stole from him, but one of the brothers, Eli, begins to question whether this is true and, in fact, whether or not this is even the life he wants anymore. The novel is written from the first person perspective of Eli and is, I must say, a pretty good read (though it is gory in places).

Hit the jump for a picture of the author (don't say you weren't warned)...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel, by Alan Bradley


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This is definitely just as delightful as any in the series, and perhaps even more fast-paced, but the one thing that perplexes me about the last few books in the Flavia de Luce series is the character of Dieter. He's a former Nazi soldier and recent prisoner of war who decided to remain in Britain after the war. The series takes place in 1950, so the atrocities of the war would be all too present in the characters' minds, yet none of them has a problem with welcoming a Nazi into their home. He's even considered a likely--and suitable!--candidate to become a member of the family by courting one of the de Luce sisters. Why the Nazi sympathy, Mr. Bradley? It's the one thing that bothers me in an otherwise flawless series.

Hit the jump for an alternate book cover (it's 50's adventure girl-iffic)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant Send An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington, by Karl Pilkington with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant


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It's sort of a behind-the-scenes DVD bonus footage feature, but in book form. I honestly can't get enough of Karl Pilkington so I loved it!

Hit the jump for more pictures of Karl Pilkington (WARNING: He has an extremely round head that may be disturbing to some)

Friday, February 10, 2012

GUEST BLOG: Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White (illustrations by Garth Williams)

GUEST BLOGGER: Magda!

I'd like to welcome my guest blogger, Magda. She is two-and-a-half (or she will be soon) and Charlotte's Web was the very first chapter book she ever read (and by that I mean, of course, had read to her). Here are some of her thoughts.


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Mommy (and Daddy) read Charlotte’s Web aloud to Magda over the course of about a week, ending around February 10, 2012. This was her very first chapter book. Mommy asked Magda some questions about it on March 7, 2012.


The full interview (with ART) is after the jump...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult

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I sincerely love when authors--and, perhaps more accurately, publishers--expand their notion of traditional storytelling by writing a book that follows a slightly different format: novels in verse, illustrated novels for adults, stories that are told in a multitude of media. Sometimes the risk doesn't always pay off, but I really enjoy the effort. Jodi Picoult's novel, Sing You Home, falls into that category by being the first novel that I've read that comes with its own soundtrack. The book has a CD included that acts as a companion to the story being told.

The novel's main protagonist is Zoe Baxter, a music therapist who uses music in every aspect of her life, both professionally and personally. While the novel isn't really about music, the author felt that the reader should hear Zoe's voice, since the character uses music and singing so much. Jodi Picoult's good friend Ellen Wilber acted as the voice and musical composer behind all of the tracks on the CD.