Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Restorer, by Sharon Hinck

Last night, at 12:15 am, I finished reading Sharon Hinck's fantasy book The Restorer! I read it in only two days, which I haven't done in a very long time! It was such a good book! I'll wait to post a review of it until the CSFF Blog Tour features it next month, but it was an awesome book! :)

My favorite character was Kieran! I liked him from the moment he was introduced into the book! For some reason, I always have to tell people who my favorite characters are. I think it's because characters are what make a book great for me (along with other things, of course), and in a good book I feel like I get to know them. :)

This book is fast-paced, and gets you right into the story. It does a very good job of surprising you too. So many things happened that I never expected.

The second book of The Sword of Lyric comes out in October. It's called The Restorer's Son. I can't wait to buy it! From the first chapter provided in the back of The Restorer, the second book is going to be even better! If that's possible. :D

So there are my excited ramblings that come right after finishing a great book! :) You can buy The Restorer on Amazon.com! I very highly recommend it! :) You can also visit Sharon Hinck's website, or check out Sharon Hinck's blog and say, "Hi!" :) Have fun reading!

Becca Johnson

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Skin, by Ted Dekker- A Review

This morning, I finished reading Ted Dekker's new book, Skin. I can't say much about the book without giving stuff away, as with all of Ted Dekker's books, so I'll try not to spoil it for anyone. But this story was really, really good! :D

Here's the back cover copy as an overview:
"A freak storm has spawned three tornados that are bearing down on the town of Summerville.
"Yet under the cover of the storm looms a much more ominous threat: A vindictive killer known as Red who's left a string of victims in his wake and is now bent on exacting his revenge on the unsuspecting town.
"But there is an enigma surrounding Red that the FBI is unwilling to admit--closely guarded secrets of something gone terribly wrong beneath the skin of Summerville. Secrets that will destroy far more than one small town.
"Wendy Davidson is caught in the middle. She's a recovering cult survivor who takes refuge in Summerville on her way to visit her estranged mother. And with her, four strangers, any one of whom could be the next victim...
"...or the killer."

I like to save the best for last, so I'll talk about the weaknesses first.

The beginning of this book reminded me a bit of Showdown and House, two other books Ted Dekker has written/co-written with Frank Peretti. The premise is once again a killer who wants the other characters to kill each other. In Skin, Red demands that the five main characters kill the ugliest among them. For every day that they delay, he kills seven townspeople.

Another weakness, is I found some mistakes in the writing that really distracted and/or confused me. The biggest mistake that tripped me up is when the story is in Blair's point-of-view and he's on the phone with Clifton. Then, Clifton hangs up with Blair, and suddenly, with no indication of a POV change, the story goes into Luke's POV. I didn't notice the word "Luke" at first, and I was very confused as to why Blair was thinking this way. I didn't realize what was going on until I got to the end of the page and had to go back because I was so lost. That's when I saw the word "Luke" instead of "Blair." That was the main mistake. There were a few minor things here and there, but not too many.

A third weakness: it was kind of gross in places. But I've learned to somewhat expect that from Ted Dekker. :) Plus, the grossness serves its purpose: to show the ugliness of evil and sin.

This book delivered what I love about Ted Dekker's books: plenty of suspense. Toward the end of the book, I was so into it that my heart rate had risen fairly high, I was sweating, and I couldn't put the book down.

Dekker had some great twists that I never saw coming! :) Which is great, because I was afraid I had gotten to the point where I could somewhat guess where he was going. But these were totally unexpected. And, just when I thought it was all over and I could (somewhat) relax, he pulled the biggest twist of all! I'm still going back and reading to find the clues and try to figure this thing out! It's great! :)

I highly recommend this book to readers of speculative fiction, suspense, thrillers, etc. :D

You can buy the book on Amazon.com. You can also check out Ted Dekker's website and learn more about Ted Dekker and his books. Have fun! :D

Becca Johnson

Quotes of the Week #2- Joy

The subject of this week's quotations is joy! I find it humorous that the week before finals, I posted quotations on courage, and now that school is over, I'm posting quotations on joy. I didn't plan it that way! :D How funny! Okay, here are your quotations of the week:

1. Every joy is gain. And gain is gain, however small.
-Robert Browning

2. Joy is prayer—Joy is strength—Joy is love—Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. God loves a cheerful giver. She gives most who gives with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Christ risen.
-Mother Teresa

3. The joy that comes past hope and beyond expectation is like no other pleasure in extent.

4. Surely joy is the condition of life.
-Henry David Thoreau

5. The writer's joy is the thought that can become emotion, the emotion that can wholly become a thought.
-Thomas Mann

Humorous Quote:
I wish you joy of your unhappiness, since you cling to it so.
-Mason Cooley

Random Quote:
Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.
-C.S. Lewis

Becca Johnson

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour- The Sword Review- "ME Control"

Today is the last day of the CSFF Blog Tour of The Sword Review and I finally have an opportunity to post! :)

The Sword Review is an online magazine of Christian speculative fiction, poetry, and essays. They have some really good reading material there. The site also includes a forum where readers can discuss what they've read. I've been browsing The Sword Review in preparation for the CSFF Blog Tour, and the piece that I enjoyed the most was a Science Fiction short story called "ME Control" by G.K. Werner. The description the magazine provides for "ME Control" is: "Today, the politically incorrect claim students are responsible for learning—teachers for teaching. But what if tomorrow’s educational technology equipped schools with complete behavior-control? What excuse would teachers have for not being 100% accountable?"

In "ME Control," teachers have the ability to control everything their students do. The students cannot raise their hands without their teacher allowing it. They can't even move their heads. The only thing the students are left in control of are their eyes. The teacher plants the answers in the students' minds and then allows them to speak the answer.

"ME Control" explores the issues of responsibility, power, and public schools. It's an interesting picture of where our world could be heading someday if we don't change our thinking. Students are responsible for how they behave and how much they learn. And if the teacher simply implants the answers into their minds, are they really learning? Learning, to me, is the journey, not just knowing the answering.

The author of this story, G.K. Werner, does a good job of portraying things from the perspective of a teacher involved in this futuristic classroom. You feel his pleasure in the control he has over his students and what they learn, his nervousness as he is being evaluated, and his fear of what the students might do if given too much freedom. Good job, G.K. Werner! Excellent work!

"ME Control" also brings up this scary idea: if the teacher is in total control of the students, and the government is in total control of the teacher, then the students will learn, or basically be brainwashed into believing, whatever the government wants them to learn. It's a clear warning to us about the path our educational system may be heading down.

Overall, "ME Control" is a well-written, thought-provoking piece. In fact, you should go check it out! You'll find it on the main page of The Sword Review, along with many other great stories, poems, and essays, such as: "Modesty," "While the Wyverns Watch," and "Polar Daughter."

And while you're at it, why don't you go exploring and discover others' opinions on The Sword Review and its contents! Here are the links you can find them at:

Jim Black
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
April Erwin
Kameron M. Franklin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Heather R. Hunt
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Terri Main
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Daniel I. Weaver
Russell Griffith
Jason Waguespac
Brandon Barr

Have fun exploring!

Becca Johnson

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Quotes of the Week #1- Courage

Okay, I've decided to add a new feature to my blog! :) Once a week, I will post five quotes on a certain topic, along with one related humorous quote (if I can find one) and one unrelated random quote. Sound like fun? I love quotes, so it sounds like fun to me! :) Let me know what you think! Feedback is always greatly appreciated. :D

This week's topic: courage. (The quotes are posted in no particular order.)

1. You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.

2. Courage is just fear, plus prayers, plus understanding.
-Edward Albert

3. Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.
-Billy Graham

4. Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.
-C.S. Lewis

5. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.
-Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Humorous Quote:
To bathe a cat takes brute force, perseverance, courage of conviction - and a cat. The last ingredient is usually hardest to come by.
-Stephen Baker

Random Quote:
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.
-C.S. Lewis

That was fun collecting those quotes! Remember, I welcome your opinions on this new feature. :D Have an awesome night!

Becca Johnson