Monday, November 14, 2011

Pieces of Words #7

Here's a new collection of quotes that I found inspiring or beautiful and wanted to share with you! Feel free to leave in the comment section any quotes you've recently discovered. I love reading what other people find.

To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable. -Aaron Copland

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea. –Isak Dinesen

God doesn't want something from us. He simply wants us. –C.S. Lewis

Freedom lies in being bold. –Robert Frost

And justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dust hangs in the air of the nighttime wood; the moonlight makes constellations of the particles where it creeps through the branches overhead. -Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Don't be afraid of change because it is always necessary for progress. –Joyce Meyer

You will never become greater than you think of yourself. –Jason Vallotton

You're the only you this world has. Don't waste your time trying to be like someone else. –Alyssa Barlow

Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? –C.S. Lewis

-Becca Johnson

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour: The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead -Review

This month, the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead. In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. The Bone House is the second book in the Bright Empires series. If you'd like to read my review of The Skin Map, the first book in the series, you can find it here.

The Bone House continues to follow the stories of the characters we met in The Skin Map, and it also introduces a few new characters. Kit, Mina, and Giles are on the run from Burleigh and his henchmen, Arthur Flinders-Petrie is traveling through ancient worlds with his wife, and Douglas is working to unravel the secrets of the skin map. As these characters travel from one dimension to another using ley lines, they meet historical figures from many different times and places. Befriending these historical people and manipulating events throughout the multiverse, they further themselves in the race to find the skin map and the fantastic secret it holds.

What impressed me most while reading this novel was Lawhead's ability to jump back and forth in various characters' timelines and yet not confuse the reader. I knew what was going on and never got lost. The fact that he was able to write that way and avoid any contradictions or confusion shows what a talented author he is. And I think the shifts along the characters' timelines actually made the book more interesting to read. Plus, it mirrored how the characters themselves were not fixed in any one time or place. I think Lawhead's choice to tell the story in a nonlinear fashion was brilliant.

Unfortunately, I noticed at least one time where the author contradicted himself on a smaller issue. In one scene, Mina hands something to Kit, but then he asks her for it and she passes it to him again. While this is a minor mistake, it did pull me out of the story for a moment and could have been fixed with a little editing.

I felt that the characters were stronger in this second book of the series. I empathized with all of them now, and they all felt distinct in their personalities. Mina is still my favorite character, but now I really like Kit and Arthur as well. And the minor characters, such as Turms and Thomas Young (my two favorites in this category), were just as fascinating and unique as the main characters. No matter which group of people a particular chapter was following, I was always excited to find out what was happening in their lives.

Another fun thing about this book was that it visited so many times and places in the world. I love history, so I enjoyed reading about every reality the characters traveled to. Often, something in the story would ignite my curiosity, and soon I'd be exploring an encyclopedia, learning more about the interesting people, places, and cultures. Books are so fun when they integrate history as part of a story or myth.

I greatly enjoyed The Bone House and would recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction, history, or travel across alternate realities.

If you'd like to read what other people on the CSFF Blog Tour are saying about The Bone House, you can find links to their blogs below.

Noah Arsenault
Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Jeff Chapman
Carol Bruce Collett
Karri Compton
D. G. D. Davidson
Theresa Dunlap
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Janeen Ippolito
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Marzabeth
Katie McCurdy
Shannon McDermott
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant

Becca Johnson

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Feast by Merrie Destefano -Review

Feast by Merrie Destefano is about Maddie, an author who goes to the woods of Ticonderoga Falls to rediscover her inspiration, and Ash, the Darkling who rules there and lives off of the dreams of humans. The Harvest is coming, and both of their lives and the town itself will be threatened by a darkness intent on enslaving or destroying them all.

Feast's plot was tight and well-constructed. Everything happened for a specific purpose, and as the book progressed, the reasons for certain events or details that had seemed insignificant became evident. There was a particularly brilliant moment in the plot which I will discuss in further detail later in this review. When I read that scene, I got so excited that I could barely contain myself. That happens when I find in stories echoes of the Greatest Story.

The characters felt real, and it was fun to get to see things from so many of their perspectives. My favorites were Ash, Maddie, Ross, and Joe. But it was hard to choose favorites, because I liked all of them a lot. They all had unique perspectives and it was cool to see how they thought and to see their varying views on situations. Even the villain’s point of view was enjoyable and not obnoxious like they can be in some books. Merrie Destefano did a great job with her characters.

I had only two small complaints about the book. The first is that there was no explanation for how Ross and Sienna came to like each other. First Ross was terrified of her, and then they were acting like old friends at the end of the book. I would have liked to see what changed his attitude toward her. The only other complaint I had was that the characters would sometimes know names of things or information without first learning about the names or information. But that didn’t happen too often.

This paragraph has spoilers, so read it at your own risk. If you don’t want spoilers, skip ahead to the next paragraph. I liked how Ash's bitterness and desire for revenge were taken from him as the villain was killing him. And I loved what the Legend was whispering then. It reminded me of how God can take something meant for terrible evil and make something amazingly good come out of it. And He knows that it is a joyful thing that will come to pass in our story, even though we don’t understand. That's the part of the book that got me so excited. And now the spoilers are over.

Merrie Destefano does a great job of creating atmosphere through her choice of words. She painted scenes that carried strong senses of beauty, darkness, foreboding, or joy. Her words are lovely and powerful. Sometimes I would read a passage a second time just so I could experience again the atmosphere it held.

Here are some of my favorite descriptions from Feast.

“Leaves, soggy and heavy, muddled to the ground, broken mementos of the narrow bridge between summer and winter.”

“All of her thoughts were being built and fashioned from the ether, fog swirling in tempestuous roiling eddies, patterns that morphed and growled, a womb of cloud and idea that was giving birth as she walked.”

Feast is a beautiful, exciting read, and I recommend it to readers of fantasy and to lovers of words and legend.

Becca Johnson

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pieces of Words #6

I've collected a lot of quotes by Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church lately, so all the quotes in this post will be from him. My next quotes post will return to being an assortment from all over. Enjoy!

"There is no such thing as worshipping God your own way."

"Favor increases your capacity to sacrifice and give to the Lord."

"On my best day, I’m alive because of mercy. On my worst day, I’m alive because of grace."

"Persistence in prayer doesn't change God. It shapes us for the answer."

"If you knew who God made you to be, you'd never want to be anyone else."

"If you don't live by the praises of men you won't die by their criticisms."

"No one has ever overdosed on encouragement."

"You know your mind is renewed when the impossible looks logical."

"What you tolerate will eventually dominate."

"Lists reveal God. They don't contain Him."

What are some quotes you've read or heard recently that stuck with you? I'd love to read them in the comments!

Becca Johnson

Thursday, June 30, 2011

6 Books I'm Most Excited About Being Released Later This Year

I can't wait to read these books, so I thought I'd share my excitement and the cool covers.


Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Third in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series
July 12, 2011


Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Third in the Leviathan trilogy
September 20, 2011


Fullmetal Alchemist volume 26 by Hiromu Arakawa
September 20, 2011


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
October 18, 2011


Crossed by Ally Condie
Second in the Matched trilogy
November 1, 2011


Fullmetal Alchemist volume 27 by Hiromu Arakawa
Final volume in the Fullmetal Alchemist series
December 20, 2011

What books are you most looking forward to?

Becca Johnson

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding -Review

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding is about the crew of the Ketty Jay, an airship that exists in a world that depends solely on flight for transport. The Ketty Jay's captain, Darian Frey, is a selfish man with terrible luck leading a crew of people who are each running from something. When he's given the chance to attack an airship carrying a large amount of treasure, he goes for it. Unfortunately, everything goes wrong. Discovering he was set up, Frey finds himself entangled in a bigger plot than he could have imagined. Now Frey has the law, bounty hunters, and the most feared pirate in the sky after him, and he must find a way out of the mess before anyone catches up to him.

During the beginning portion of Retribution Falls, I had trouble caring much about the characters. The main character of Frey made enjoying the book initially hard because of how little he cared about anyone but himself. Some of the other characters were not appealing either because of their cowardice or lack of intelligence. I did like Crake and Jez right away, though, so that made it a little easier to get through the parts written from the viewpoints of the other characters. Thankfully, as the book continued and the characters finally started growing and changing, it became easier to enjoy reading the book.

One thing that annoyed me was how the book repeated its descriptions of places and people. It annoyed me because it repeated the same details to the readers as if we'd forgotten since the last time we'd read about that place or person. I would have preferred to read some new detail or even to read the same detail, but worded in a new way.

I was also disappointed in how easy the escapes were sometimes (not always). In the first half of the book, I felt no tension or worry in scenes where the characters' lives were threatened because I knew they'd be just fine. Something would happen at the last minute to save them and they'd escape with barely any damage. That all changed at the end of the book, which made me very happy. If there's danger in a book, I want it to be convincing.

Another thing that bothered me about the book was its frank mentions of certain parts of anatomy that seemed to be mentioned regularly. This, together with mentions of prostitutes (which I guess you'd expect with pirates), frustrated me. I found it in poor taste. The book would have worked just fine without any of that. In fact, it would have been better. All those things did was lower my opinion of the main characters.

Despite these things, by the end of the book, I had come to like most of the members of the crew. I liked Jez, Malvery, Silo, and even Frey, and I liked them more once I'd read their interesting backstories. My favorites, however, were Crake and his golem Bess. Crake's backstory was the coolest and saddest, though it did remind me a bit of the manga Fullmetal Alchemist.

Retribution Falls was full of adventure and daring battles in the sky, which were exciting, especially near the end. It also had some touching moments when characters learned more about each other's pasts or simply came to accept and care about each other. I liked that it had a balance of both.

I would recommend this book to those who like adventure and science fiction, and who don't mind some occasional unsavory elements to the characters.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Becca Johnson

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pieces of Words #5

I've found some new quotes. :) I hope you enjoy them!

"I prepared for the end. Then just as everything was going dark, I felt a hand on my shoulder. And when I opened my eyes, standing above me was the creator, your father. He saved me. I guess you could say I was a rescue." –Quorra in Tron: Legacy

"In the old covenant the clean things became unclean at a touch - in the new covenant the unclean things become clean by being touched!" –Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church

"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory." –Betty Smith

"Faith is a no-brainer." –Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church

"Hope is not in imagining that men will change but in knowing that God sees. Men changing or not doesn’t affect my confidence in God. Hope must be rooted in eternity, not in wishful thinking." –Misty Edwards

Do you have any quotes you've heard or read over the past week that you'd like to share? Please feel free to leave them in the comments. I love reading what people find.

Becca Johnson

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pieces of Words #4

Most of today's quotes come from Twitter. In fact, even the quotes from authors were found by me on Twitter. Enjoy them!

Twitter:

"Our revelation of humility has to change. There are too many lamps with bushels hanging over them…feeling bad for what they have." –William Matthews of Bethel Music

"Perfectionism is religion, excellence is Kingdom." –Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church

"Faith is much more free to develop when we truly see the heart of God as good." –Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church

"One glance at the Cross dispels any thought that God is somehow holding out on us." –Matt Lockett

"There are things in this world worth fighting for - among them is true friendship. So get in the ring, and keep fighting even if you bleed." –Ivoryline

Authors:

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." –John A. Shedd

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." –George Eliot

Do you have any quotes you've heard or read over the past week that you'd like to share? Please feel free to leave them in the comments. I love reading what people find.

Becca Johnson

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pieces of Words #3

The quotes for today's Pieces of Words come from a book, a blog, a sermon, and musicians on Twitter. There's some really great stuff here.

Book:

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable." -C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves

Blog:

"...after awhile you start believing your own lies, which all essentially say the same thing: 'I'm not good enough.' Suddenly, and unknowingly, you defeat yourself. Has anything positive come from guilt and shame? Has any life flourished after believing that it was worthless? The only thing left after believing our own lies is our own defeat." -Matt MacDonald, lead singer of The Classic Crime

Sermon:

"David lost the battle with his eyes, which opened the door for him to lose the battle over his heart, all because he was not in the battle he was born for. When you turn away from the battle you're assigned to, you face the battle you're not equipped for." –Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church

Twitter:

"There will always be someone more talented, but never someone more called. Live according to your calling, not your talent." –Alyssa Barlow of BarlowGirl

"Just when you think you can depend on something or someone, Jesus reminds you that He's your ONLY Hope." –William Matthews of Bethel Music

Do you have any quotes you've heard or read over the past week that you'd like to share? Please feel free to leave them in the comments. I love reading what people find.

Becca Johnson

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour: The God Hater by Bill Myers -Review


This month, the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring Bill Myers' The God Hater. In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

The God Hater is about an atheistic philosophy professor, Nicholas Mackenzie, who is asked to help with a computer program. This computer program contains an entire world and characters who think, react, and feel just like real people. The programmers believe they have thought of everything and made the program perfect. But every time they run it, the characters end up self-destructing. Nicholas reluctantly decides that they need to introduce religion into the program. But that too fails. Even giving them laws doesn't help, but instead turns them into unforgiving legalists. He is forced to realize that the characters' only hope is for someone to go into the program and show them how to live. So he steps into the program with them as a character just like himself and begins a mission to save them from themselves.

When I read the description of this book, I thought it sounded like a very cool idea and possibly a good book. I was right. This book is fascinating and touching, and it shows man's need for redemption from a Creator-like perspective. I loved reading things I'd heard before about sin, the payment for sin, redemption, and forgiveness in new terms, since most of it was in the computer program's terms. It made things fresh and made me look at them in a new way.

I only had a couple things that bothered me. One problem I had was with an inconsistency I noticed. The programmers said that the characters didn't eat food and instead survived on life units. And yet, later in the book, the characters were eating life units fried in crumbs, drinking wine, etc. Unless I misunderstood something, that was a big inconsistency.

The other thing that bothered me was the ending. Its bittersweet nature frustrated me, and it didn't end with as much resolution as I would have liked. There's a key event I was expecting that I'm upset about being left out. But that didn't diminish my overall enjoyment of the book, and the ending actually was pretty good. It just felt like it was missing something.

I connected with the characters well, especially Nicholas and Alpha 11. I could feel their inner struggles clearly, as well as Nicholas' father-like love and sadness. That was essential to making the book work, and Bill Myers did a great job.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

"It's impossible to adequately capture every nuance of truth with words. To convey the truths of life...you have to live that life."

I recommend The God Hater to both believers and those who don't yet believe. The philosophy is presented logically and never preaches. It's an entertaining read that also makes you think.

To find out more about The God Hater, please visit the book's website or Bill Myers' Facebook page. You can also read what other people thought about The God Hater by visiting the other blogs participating in the CSFF Blog Tour. Their links are below.

Noah Arsenault
Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Rachel Briard
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
April Erwin
Amber French
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Joleen Howell
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
MollyBuuklvr81
John W. Otte
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Nicole White
Dave Wilson

Becca Johnson

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney -Review


I just finished reading an ARC (advance readers' copy) of Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney. I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Dark Mirror is about a girl named Tory who lives in England in the early 1800s. The book is slightly an alternate history story, because in its England, magic is a real thing and is commonplace. Magic is a useful tool embraced by the commoners, but the nobility has been taught to view it as wrong and disgraceful. Tory is the daughter of an earl and looks forward to finding a high-ranking husband. When she discovers that she has magical ability, she is determined to hide it. If anyone finds out about her magic, she could be disowned from her family and rejected by everyone she knows. Despite her resolve to keep her power hidden, she has no choice but to reveal it when an accident occurs. She is sent to Lackland Abbey, where young people of the nobility are sent to be cured of their magic. Once there, she will have to make many choices concerning sacrifice, bravery, duty, and love.

This is a fun book filled with adventure, likeable characters, and magic. I don't think I ever got bored, even during the slower portions of the plot. M.J. Putney combined a rich, realistic-feeling historical setting with a complicated, detailed world of magic. It was fascinating, especially when the magical powers were being explained or when people were learning how they could use their magic in new ways. The magic was also described beautifully and clearly. I looked forward to the magical parts of the story most.

As I was reading and increasingly more characters were being introduced, there was a point where I got concerned that I'd never be able to remember, let alone keep track of, all of the characters. However, they all had distinguishable personalities and important roles to play. I was pleased to discover that I had no trouble keeping all the characters with their personalities and abilities separate in my head. Each person was an interesting character, and I came to care about all of them. I'm now glad that there was such a large cast of characters to enjoy.

Tory, the main character, was a nice choice for a heroine. She was smart, kind, and wanted to do the right thing. It was refreshing to read a book where the main character started off already having some wisdom and strong virtues. That way, Tory could work on building her strengths and adding to them, taking the story deeper than if she'd been a spoiled, selfish child. I really liked that about her.

I only have a few complaints about the book. One is that some of the foreshadowing was too obvious for me. I knew what the inciting incident would be before it happened. (An inciting incident is the first conflict that sets the plot in motion.) The clues were on the pages leading up to it and they stood out clearly to me as hints as to what was about to happen. Also, in the same night that a character mentions preparing for a possible danger, that danger happens. On one page the character was finally discussing the need seriously (even though the need had been there before), and on the next page or so the danger struck. It seemed too set up to me.

Also, the love story did not seem entirely believable to me. It would have been a good romance, but I didn't see how the characters suddenly fell in love with each other. And saying they had a magical connection isn't enough to explain it for me. I would have liked to see more development of the love before the characters were declaring their undying love for each other. Because the love story was not rooted in a deep relationship (at least not that we the readers saw), it made a scene that would have been much more powerful seem just slightly overdramatic. I really wish we'd been allowed to see the relationship develop more. It would have been good.

Speaking of romance, M.J. Putney's history as a romance writer started peeking through here and there. It seemed like she couldn't resist throwing in a little suggestive dialogue between Tory and her love interest. It didn't seem plausible considering what era these characters came from, and it also bothered me. I would have preferred if she'd stuck to keeping the book mostly a fantasy book about magic and adventure.

But aside from those few things that I mentioned above, I really enjoyed Dark Mirror. It had a well-developed setting, an exciting plot, and interesting characters. If there is a sequel, I will most definitely be reading it.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, history, time travel, or romance.

Becca Johnson

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher -Review


Tonight, I finished reading Sapphique by Catherine Fisher. Sapphique is the sequel to Incarceron. If you haven't read Incarceron, you need to. It’s good. I'll try to avoid spoilers in this review for those who haven't read Incarceron yet.

Sapphique is the continued story of two groups of characters. The first group is made up of prisoners inside Incarceron (a living prison as large as an entire world to those inside it) who are trying desperately to find a way out. The second group consists of people Outside of Incarceron who are trying to defeat both the Prison and the stifling rule of Protocol (a requirement that everything stays like it was hundreds of years ago to prevent further nuclear desctruction to the world). Old characters, such as Finn, Claudia, Jared, Keiro, the Warden, Attia, and Incarceron itself, return in this book. New characters, like Rix, are also introduced. And of course, Sapphique (the only prisoner to Escape) is again present in this book through the many references to him and the "excerpts" from the stories about him.


What first got me to pick Incarceron off the shelf was the beautiful cover. Isn't it lovely and intriguing? And the cover for Sapphique looks just as great, if not better. What intrigued me further and got me reading was the idea of a futuristic prison that was alive and that had a personality of its own. I'm glad the cover and the idea drew me into reading Incarceron, because I've really enjoyed it and Sapphique.

I liked the way the author described some of the things in Sapphique. I especially liked when she worded something differently or turned recurring themes around so that the reader saw them in a new way or understood that they could stand for a separate idea in the story.

The story jumped from point of view to point of view, but it didn’t bother me like it does in some books. One moment we knew what Finn was thinking, and then suddenly we only knew what Claudia knew. But the shifts from one point of view to another weren’t jarring and I actually liked them, because then I could know various character’s secrets as they became important to know (there were a lot of secrets).

It was interesting switching back and forth between the world of the Prison and the world of Outside. The Prison was filled with despair, fear, technology, and all sorts of strange sights. The plants were made of metal and some of the people were part machine. The Outside was like history with its castles, political intrigue, balls, faked pleasantries, and scenic countryside. And yet, the two places had so many things in common, such as danger, illusion, and the desire for escape.

The book was never too slow, which made me happy. The last hundred pages or so grew so much in intensity that I was unable to put the book down. I was hurrying through the pages, excited to find out how everything was going to work out in the end. I love it when that happens.

Although I enjoyed reading the book, I was fairly confused when I reached the end of it. Either I’m not catching on, or some of the questions were never truly answered. They were given answers that might be true…but they might not be. At least, that’s how I understood it. *MAJOR SPOILER WARNING* I’m still confused as to who Sapphique was. Was it really Jared, or was he just filling the role for the prisoners and Incarceron? And if Jared really was Sapphique, how on earth did that happen? I’m just a little perplexed. *END SPOILER*

My favorite characters have always been Keiro and Jared, so it was fun to see them both play important roles in Sapphique. Keiro was entertaining with his arrogance and bluntness. He always had some plan for getting out of trouble. And, despite his best efforts, there were moments when he showed that he did have a heart. Jared was just as kind and intelligent as before, but we got to see more of his loyalty, fear, and courage in this book. I liked other characters in the book, but these two were the ones that stood out to me. They’re very different, but both fascinating characters.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"People will love you if you tell them of your fears."

"Perhaps the Prison is in us."

"The stable was hung with small golden lanterns, like the ones used at Court. Or perhaps these were the stars, taken down and propped here and there, hung on wires."

I recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, steampunk, or adventure.

Becca Johnson

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pieces of Words #2

Pieces of Words posts are collections of quotes that I come across that are beautiful, amuse me, make me look at something differently, or stick with me. Today, I have quotes from a song, a movie, and a sermon. Enjoy!

Song:

"We can be who we are. Now we are alive. We can fight. They cannot contain us. It’s who we are. We are undying. We won’t hide our faces from the light. Eliminate the space between us. It’s who we are. We are forever." –"Who We Are" by RED

Movie:

"Destiny is not the path that's given to us, but the path that we choose for ourselves." –Megamind

Sermon:

"Unbelief forces me to live in thirst within the reach of water." –Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church

Do you have any quotes you've heard or read over the past few days that you'd like to share? Please feel free to leave them in the comments. I love reading what people find.

Becca Johnson

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pieces of Words #1

I’ve decided to do a variation on the weekly quotes I used to post. What I have in mind will be called Pieces of Words and will sometimes be posted more often than once a week, sometimes less often. It depends on if I find some good pieces. These posts will be collections of words from songs, poems, stories, blogs, other nonfiction, etc. that I thought were beautiful, that touched me, that stuck out to me, or that made me think. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? So, here’s my first Pieces of Words post. Enjoy!

Songs:

"And when you’re finally in My arms, you’ll look up and see love has a face. And I will be your hope." –"Not Alone" by RED

"You’re not so far that I can’t get to where you are." –"Invisible" by Disciple

Story:

"He infected it."
"With a disease?"
"A desire. And desire can be a disease, Claudia."
-The Warden and Claudia from Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Nonfiction:

"Maybe every breath we take is the outcome of the breath we took before it." –Joy in her blog post life beside the silverscreen.

Happy adventures!

Becca Johnson

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie -Review


Last night, I finished reading Matched by Ally Condie. This book is the first of a trilogy.

Matched is a dystopian novel that takes place in a world where the Society decides everything for the people. The Society tells its people when and what they will eat, what they will wear, where they will live, what job they will have, who they will marry, and when they will die. They have also reduced all the art in the world to the 100 songs, 100 poems, 100 paintings, and 100 stories. The Society claims that they have made everyone's lives perfect because they have simplified everything and chosen the best things for them.

Cassia believes in the Society and dreams of having a perfect life with the boy she is about to be Matched to. When she sees on the screen at the Matching ceremony that her Match is Xander, her childhood friend, she couldn't be more happy. But later, when she goes to read more about Xander, something goes wrong. For a moment, she sees a different face on the screen. She knows this boy, Ky, too. The Society tells her that it was a mistake, but now Cassia can't get Ky off of her mind. Her growing love for him and a secret her grandfather gives her drive her to begin questioning the choices made for her and those around her. She will have to choose whether she goes along with what the Society has planned for her, or if she will go against everything in her world and make her own choices in her life.

This is a beautiful story about words, stories, choice, remembering, and love. Poetry played a large role in Matched, and sometimes the writing itself seemed almost poetic. I really liked this book's story, characters, and that it made me think.

Through this book, we see how dull and empty life would be without choices, and yet we must be responsible for every choice we make. We see the power of words (particularly poetry and stories in this case) and how, once they're in you, they take hold and draw out ideas that can change everything forever. And we see what risks love is willing to take and how it protects even when it is wounded or doesn't understand.

I could envision the world that Cassia lived in and I liked the way that the author chose to describe things. Like I said, there were times that it felt poetic. The characters were all unique and I think I came to love all of them for different aspects of their personalities. Yes, I even liked the "bad guys" a bit. The way that the Society worked was filled with detail. It seemed like the author had thought of just about everything. When I read this book, it felt like I was in that world with those characters, and that's what I love about reading.

I wasn't too surprised by most of the twists in the story, but it took me long enough before I caught on that I still enjoyed it. *SPOILER WARNING* I figured out early on the reveal about how the elderly die. Other times, I figured things out just pages before they were revealed, like where Ky and the other workers were being sent. *END SPOILER WARNING*

There were a few times that I noticed inconsistencies. These mostly had to do with a character suddenly knowing the name for something that they didn't know before. Thankfully, the inconsistencies were not big problems and didn't occur too often.

My favorite character was Ky. I loved the way he told stories and his quiet bravery. But even though he was my favorite, I liked both Xander and Cassia quite a lot as well. Usually in a book that has two love interests for the girl, I come to love one and despise the other. But in Matched, I like both Ky and Xander. I have my preference for who should get Cassia (Ky), but I'd actually love to see both guys happy in the end.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Is falling in love with someone's story the same thing as falling in love with the person himself?"

I recommend this book to anyone who loves dystopian stories, science fiction, poetry, romance, or something that makes them think.

You can find out even more about Matched by visiting the book's official website or Ally Condie's website.

Becca Johnson

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour: The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin- My Review


The CSFF Blog Tour is featuring The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin this month. On Monday, I posted a brief warning about where not to read the book’s description. Today, I’ll be posting my review of the book. I just finished reading it tonight, so everything is pretty fresh in my mind and I may still be mulling over how I feel about the story as I write this.

For those of you who missed my Monday post, here’s my favorite description of the book (taken from the back cover copy):

Joran dreams of living a simple life as a blacksmith in his forested village of Tebron. But when his wife, Charris, disappears in a whisk of magic, his dream shatters as he is forced to go on a perilous journey to the ends of the world to rescue her. The goose woman tells him he must solve the riddle of the three keys, and will wear out three pairs of shoes before he battles the Moon—who has trapped Charris in a sand castle perched above the sea.

Dismayed and fearful, Joran sets out alone, but along the way finds unlikely companionship in a wolf named Ruyah, who becomes his guide and trusted friend. In true fairy-tale tradition, Joran must face daunting challenges—within and without—in order to bring Charris safely home.


My favorite thing about this book is Ruyah, the wolf. I love wolves and I love loyal characters. Ruyah is both of these things, so I had a great time reading about him. He is a beautiful picture of patience, wisdom, protection, faithfulness, and love. Joran could not have asked for a better companion.

I also enjoyed the author’s descriptions of the fantastical places that Joran and Ruyah visited. I could feel the strangeness of one, the peace of another, the beauty and mystery of another, the oppressiveness of another, and the desperation and urgency of yet another. She did a great job of conveying each place’s flavor, and her descriptions seemed to fit perfectly. For example, I would picture the Moon’s house much like she described it. No detail seemed out of place or missing in the picture she wove.

There was one thing that bothered me while reading the book. Ruyah often quotes the sayings of wolves, but these sayings are actually taken from people like C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. A few other characters also quote famous people. I wish that the author had written the ideas in her own words, or had even written them so that they were in terms that a wolf would use when Ruyah said them. I think that would have been a nice touch. For me, reading the quotes was occasionally frustrating because they sounded so familiar or because I could identify them immediately. Even if I didn't know where I knew them from, I knew that they were from somewhere else. It was like being repeatedly pulled out of the story and into our world. It might not be that way for people who wouldn't recognize the quotes, but it bothered me. One of the many reasons that I read is to find a new way of looking at something. I wish that the concepts in the quotes had been reworded so that I would have been forced to look at the familiar ones anew.

The book provided a clear picture of what things like anger can do to a person and to a life. I liked how it showed the spiritual side of that in a tangible way. It’s a very important warning to all of us about letting anger and other negative emotions take root in our lives. I also liked the way it showed what it required for Joran to overcome each of the negative influences in his life and to “loose the three keys.” Each of those moments was depicted in powerful, beautifully triumphant scenes.

I look forward to reading the next book in The Gates of Heavens series. It should be a wonderful read.

If you're interested in reading more about The Wolf of Tebron, you can check out C.S. Lakin's website or her blog. Also, please take a moment to visit the other blogs participating in the CSFF Blog Tour:

Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

Enjoy the adventure!

Becca Johnson

CSFF Blog Tour: The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin- A Musical Thought


The CSFF Blog Tour's featured book this month is The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin. My review is coming next, but I wanted to post this music-related thought separately.

Tonight, I was reading the last third of the book, swept up in the adventure and wanting to reach the final chapters so I could know how everything was resolved. As I was nearing the end of the book, I grabbed my iPod so I could listen to music while I read. I felt like listening to RED, one of my favorite bands, so I selected a song of theirs that sounded good. I chose “Shadows.” And once it started playing, I realized how good it was for what I was reading. After listening more closely to the lyrics, I wondered if C.S. Lakin had ever heard this song. Some of it reminds me a lot of the story. If you’ve read the book, you might see what I mean when you read these lyrics:

The sun has set
I close my eyes
I pretend everything’s alright
Drowning in anger from all these lies
I can’t pretend everything’s alright
Please don’t let me fall forever
Can you tell me it’s over now?

There’s a hate inside of me
Like some kind of master
I try to save you but I can’t
Find the answer
I’m holding on to you
I’ll never let go
I need you with me as I enter
The shadows

Caught in the darkness
I go blind
Can you help me find my way out?
Nobody hears me. I suffer the silence
Can you tell me it’s over now?

I’m holding on to you
I’m holding on to you


What do you think, those of you who've read the book?

Becca Johnson

Monday, January 3, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour: The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin -Day 1


This month, the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring C.S. Lakin's The Wolf of Tebron. I'll be posting a review on Tuesday or Wednesday, but today I just wanted to post a quick warning about where to read the book's description.

When I first heard about the book and wanted to see what it was about, I searched for it on Amazon and Goodreads and read the description they both had there. The description got me interested in the book, but it also gave away something that would happen in the book. And the thing it gave away was very important. It made me feel cheated of a surprise that would have meant even more if I hadn't seen it coming.

So, if you're interested in the book and want to know more about it, I recommend reading the back cover copy:

Joran dreams of living a simple life as a blacksmith in his forested village of Tebron. But when his wife, Charris, disappears in a whisk of magic, his dream shatters as he is forced to go on a perilous journey to the ends of the world to rescue her. The goose woman tells him he must solve the riddle of the three keys, and will wear out three pairs of shoes before he battles the Moon—who has trapped Charris in a sand castle perched above the sea.

Dismayed and fearful, Joran sets out alone, but along the way finds unlikely companionship in a wolf named Ruyah, who becomes his guide and trusted friend. In true fairy-tale tradition, Joran must face daunting challenges—within and without—in order to bring Charris safely home.


Doesn't it sound like an intriguing book? You should check it out. You should also check out the blogs of the other people participating in the tour. They should have some fun information about the book or its author and some good reviews. Here are the links to their blogs:

Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

Becca Johnson