Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (finished)

I finished Dead Until Dark this weekend.

I have mixed feelings about this book.

The writing was not good in my opinion. There were a number of fragment sentences (I do not think that they were intentionally fragmented). And there were too many colloquialism. Yes, I know. It is written in the first person and it reflects the way the main character thinks but it felt like lazy writing to me.

There were large sections of explicit content in the book. It did not add to the story.

The book was a dubious read. I felt the beginning of the book was really strong. The book at times caught and held my attention but at other times it did not. There were no layers to the book. Essentially, what you read on the surface was pretty much all there was. I don't think that it merits a second read at all.

Overall, I do NOT recommend Dead Until Dark. The book was not written well. And although, there were parts of the story were engaging, most of the book was trite. I will not be reading any of the sequels in the future.
Good times.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


A snapshot of K babysitting...

"What's your favorite color?" K asked the little girl she was babysitting.

The girl looked up. She was two years old. She didn't answer immediately but she looked to the corner of the room and stared off into space for about 3 seconds. Three seconds. One. Two. Three. That is a pretty long time if you think about it.

"I don't have a favorite color," she replied.

"Oh, why not?" K asked.

"There are no colors left for me."

Yikes! That answer made K want to cry. The little girl probably had no idea what those words would mean to a teenage girl but she was really affected by what the girl said.

Fast forward about a week. K was baby sitting her again and she asked the little girl, "What is your favorite color?"


...just a snapshot.

Good times.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mythology by Edith Hamilton

May 3, 2009
This book is a high school classic. High schools across the country use this book to teach mythology to young people. I didn't read the books that I was assigned to read when I was in high school so part of my diet of books today are high school classics. Good times.

May 20, 2009
Still reading this. It's slow going and a bit dry. I think that it is worthy to read but it's just not catching my attention. I'm currently on page 100 something. I'm going to put it down for a little while and come back to it later.

The Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

May 20, 2009
My students were incredulous that I hadn't read this yet.

"Mr. Lee, you haven't read this yet!"

"Mr. Lee, I read it the day it came out!"

"Mr. Lee, I read the entire book in one 7 hour sitting."

Well, by the look of the book, it will probably take me close to 20 hours to read it but I'm not a very fast reader but that's okay. It's taken me many years of reading to get to the point of enjoying the process of reading itself. In the past, I only read because I like to have-read (past tense) books; the actual process, I loathed. Today, I would probably choose reading over just about any other activity that I can think of.

I will let you know what I think of this. (NOTE: I thought the first four were good; book 5 and book 6 were okay).

Dead Until Dawn by Charlaine Harris

May 20, 2009
I'm going to start this soon. There is an HBO series based on these books. I haven't watched the tv series but why watch tv when you can read. I'll let you know how this is.

FYI: I'm a sucker for vampire books and vampire tv shows (i.e. buffy). Although, I don't like vampire books indiscriminately (see my review of Twilight).

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

May 14, 2009
One of my students recommended this book to me last year. I started the book today. I'm on page 66 and I like it. It feels refreshing to read good fiction again.

The Book Thief begins with a nine year old girl, Liesel Meminger, in Nazi Germany. As she is traveling with her mother and her brother, her brother dies. Leisel picks up a book she finds by her brother's grave, left there by accident. This is the first book that the book thief, Liesel acquires. NOTE: I find it interesting that the narrator of the story is Death.

The book is targeted towards young adult readers.

May 15, 2009
I'm on page 154. Book is still good. Characters are rich. I especially like the German boy who smeared charcoal all over himself, pretending to be Jesse Owens and ran an imaginary olympic event in a local field--he was caught by his conservative father.

The book has a melancholic flavor to it; though, not in a bad way.

QUESTION: Is this book full of profanity? There is actually quite a bit of foul language in the book but it is in German. The German profanity doesn't affect me the same way that English profanity does. Should it?

May 16, 2009
QUOTE, The Book Thief, page 154. "In years to come, he would be a giver of bread, not a stealer--proof again of the contradictory human being. So much good, so much evil. Just add water."

May 20, 2009
I just finished the Book Thief. Overall, I would give it an A. It was good from beginning to end. Last night I read about 200 pages in one sitting--which is a lot of pages for me. The ending didn't make me cry...but it almost did.

I have two reservations about the book. (1) I didn't like how many fragmented sentences there were. I think the author did it intentionally but I found the fragments distracting. (2) I don't know how I felt about how he described a lot of sensory observations with respect to colors. It reminded me of thoses people who literally see in different tints when different music is playing. I don't know if this was what he was going for--but it reminded me of these people. I think that colors are important in the book but I couldn't figure out why they were important. Maybe if someone explains it's importance to me, it won't be so enigmatic.

I would highly recommend this book. Easy read but a good read.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Greetings and salutations to you Constant Reader,

My students have encouraged me to review a book that I've read a little while ago and so here I go...

(The following sentence is a reminder for me ... Stephanie Meyer is a real person with real feelings and I need to remember that.)

The book was weak in two different ways: (1) usage and (2) pacing.

One example of poor usage is the ubiquity of adverbs. I find adverbs distracting, especially with respect to dialogue attributions (he saids and she saids). The context of the story should tell the reader how someone said something, not the adverbs. Adverbs pull me out of the story; they remind me that I am reading, instead of being lost in the story. When I remember good books, I remember pictures and scenes acted out by the actors in my mind but when I remember Twilight, I remember adverbs. I think that adverbs are a result of fearful writing; the writer is fearful that the reader won't get it so they put in adverbs.

The pacing of the book was weak. The first half of the book was essentially Bella thinking "Wow, he is so good looking. I wonder if he likes me? But he can't like me. But I like him. I wonder if likes me? Wow, he is so good looking." After a couple of pages, I felt that I got that part of the story but the I-wonder-if-he-likes-me part of the book just kept going for hundreds of pages.

Also, the story should build to a climax that is resolved in a satisfying way towards the end, but this is not what Ms. Meyer has done. In her story, which doesn't start until half way into the book, an evil hunter vampire starts to chase after Bella until it climaxes in the dance hall. But what happens then!? She passes out and wakes up in the hospital. The rest of the story is told in retrospect!? She should have kept the reader in the story. When she wakes up in the hospital, all the tension of the dance hall moment was gone; all the work that Stephanie did to create tension...poof, gone.

The book is popular. I find this fact absolutely fascinating. Why? Why do people embrace this book so much? I've given this quite a bit of thought but have not come to any satisfying conclusion. If you have any ideas about why this book is so popular, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Overall, I do not recommend this book. I thought it was poorly written.

So, until next time...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks

The Phantom Menace is a novelization of the movie by George Lucas.  I just finished it tonight.

I did not like the movie--maybe because my expectations for it were so high, but I remember leaving the theater, when I still went to movie theaters, feeling pretty disappointed.

Ironically, I did like the novelization enough to have read this book twice--this is my second reading. There are some explanations--such as the history of the Sith--that are not included in the movie that I found very interesting in the book. Reading the book felt like watching the movie with additional scenes.

Terry Brooks is a very good writer (keeping in mind that this is a Star Wars book and not Dostoevsky or Tolstoy) -- his description of the final Sith fight was especially good.

Overall, I recommend this book--even if you didn't like the movie. It's a good, fun, light read. Good times.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Reason For God by Tim Keller

April 30, 2009
I am currently reading The Reason For God by Tim Keller. He is a pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. It is a good so far. Nothing in the book is new to me so far but Keller probably didn't have me in mind when he wrote the book. I think Keller wrote it for non-christians who have questions about Christianity. This book is primarily written from an academic point of view.

May 4, 2009
I just finished the book this weekend. Overall, I thought that the book was outstanding. If I were to give it a grade, it would be an A. If you are a Christian, buy one for yourself and then buy one to give to a non-Christian friend.
There were many good things about this book but the acknowledgements really caught my attention. I loved what he said about his wife. "The main reason I am putting this book into print is because she likes it. The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards."

I would highly recommend this book.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Biblical Dating

If you are interested in reading, what I think, is a pretty well written blog about Christian dating, check out the following blog, beginning with the following article (there are 8 articles in all):

NOTE: In my humble opinion, I thought some of the biblical exegesis was a stretch and I disagree with some of his application of biblical wisdom, but, keeping these things in mind, the blog is very well written and I felt that he respects the reader, which is really important to me.  Even if you don't agree with this author, I think that if you are going to date in the future, currently dating, or counseling someone who is dating, these articles introduce good points to consider.  Good times.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Weather Book by Jack Williams

I just finished The Weather Book by Jack Williams.  It is an introductory text on weather.  I didn't like the book so much.  I didn't like the non-linear progression of the book; there were a lot of side articles and side comments written in the margins.  I found the organization of the book distracting; it was organized like a coffee table book instead of a textbook.

In addition, I've been watching a series of DVDs--The Weather presented by Donal MacIntyre produced by BBC Video.  This series is outstanding and it is a great introduction to weather; my interest has really been cultivated by this series.  There are four episodes (wind, wet, cold and heat).  Donal MacIntyre was personable and charismatic and the presentation was accessible.  If you are interested in learning more about weather and how it works, I would highly recommend this DVD series.