Ramblings

Tea and a Tome

This week I want to have a little fun (who am I kidding, I’m always having fun!) and match up titles I’ve read with various teas I adore. You’ll get to know me a little as I pair up blends with books! This is easier done than explained, so let’s get started…

Constant CommentA well-known and popular flavor.

I think most if not all Christian fiction readers know Lynn Austin! I’m going to particularly mention her Refiner’s Fire series because I think it was one of the first Christian fiction series I was introduced to. It was so long ago that my mom actually marked pages I should skip because she wisely felt some passages of the Civil War story were too intense/mature for me at that age. Even so, some of the happy moments from the books are still with me, particularly heartwarming scenes between two sisters.

Raspberry iced tea—an easy, sweet read

Love’s Long Journey, by Janette Oke. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge Janette Oke fan, but there were a few here and there that remind me of iced tea. Pleasant and refreshing, this one is probably my favorite. 🙂

Earl grey—a classic I love

I don’t know if An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott constitutes a classic, but Little Women does—so I’m going to list them both. I love Little Women because I see a little of myself in each of the four sisters; I love An Old-Fashioned Girl because I see someone I would like to be more like in Polly. And of course the romances are beautifully crafted.

London Fog—a recent discovery I think will become a lasting favorite

I’m in the middle of Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke and I have a really good feeling about it. I think she may end up a favorite author; Secrets She Kept and Band of Sisters both look promising.

Blueberry Herbal—something I’ve been wanting to try but never seem to get around to

Maybe the Circle series by Ted Dekker. The series is so well-known I feel as if there’s probably very little I could say about it that hasn’t been said already, so I’m hesitant. I’d still like to see if I enjoy it… and I’d kind of like to get into a good series.

***Tea-less bonus!***

Hot Chocolate—something I loved as a child but haven’t read in a long time

A little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett… someone just reminded me of this book recently, and I remembered how I must have read it three times at least. I also loved The Secret Garden; when I was little, after finishing it, I went out and found myself a nook near the woods and would try to grow and tend my own secret hideaway! Many a sapling birch died after being “transplanted”, haha. It started my love of perennial flowers which continues until now. We just pulled a very worn but beautiful copy of the book for replacement at the library and I called first dibs on it if it happens to go to our book sale. Here’s hoping it will be mine soon!

Ramblings

The One I Really Want to Love

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Science fiction. Final frontiers, colorful characters, thrilling and imaginative challenges to overcome… I love it. But where’s the Christian Science Fiction? I realize it’s more difficult to write because so many of the common constructs of science fiction do not fit within a Biblical worldview, but it can be done. As a teen, for example, I read a lot of the Daystar Voyages series by Gilbert Morris. There was plenty of space travel, conflict, and even an “Intergalactic Academy”, but he removed the evolutionary worldview common to science fiction. Aliens were replaced with humans who had colonized other worlds generations before–and looked unusual due to limited gene pools and environmental factors.

And C.S.F. doesn’t have to be on such a large scale or set extremely far in the future; another book I’ve read, Offworld by Robin Parrish, tells the (invented) story of a team of astronauts who return to Earth after the first manned landing on Mars.

But I’ve had a difficult time lately finding titles I deeply enjoy in this genre. My most recent attempt has been The Shadow and Night by Chris Wailey. I’ve read about 140 pages so far, and it presents the vastly far future. A what if? story,  it imagines what the universe would be like if there was no sin (but it’s not heaven and Christ hasn’t returned yet.) At some mysterious point (I’m not far enough in to know more), God seemingly decided to give humanity a reprieve from sin, and has been holding Satan back… so literally everyone in existence serves and worships God. The main characters spend every day exactly as we wish we would– praying, praising God, working hard to better other’s lives; but everything begins to change when one person tells a lie. Sin begins to spread to others, and the protagonist is at the epicenter of it all.

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It’s a great exploration of multiple ideas; what might it look like to live in a truly Godly society? How does sin spread, and what are its consequences? Without sin, how would different personality traits express themselves (e.g. talkative/quiet, funny/serious)? How seriously should we take sin? All this against a backdrop of space travel and terraforming.

Unfortunately even with so many great concepts the pace is extremely slow. As I mentioned earlier, I’m 140 pages in, and I still feel as if nothing has happened! The dialogue goes on and on, repeating information that was previously covered…altogether I’m struggling, to say the least. There are two more books in the series (The Lamb among the Stars trilogy) so maybe it’s just taking a long time to set the stage. I really hope that’s the case and things will warm up soon, because this is one book I really want to love.

 

Ramblings

Awards Ceremony Ramble

aeroplane-air-travel-aircraft-249581Everyone has wanted an invitation at one time or another. As a child, maybe some of you watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and wondered what it would be like to find a golden ticket. Or perhaps you waited expectantly for your best friend to call you over for a sleepover.

A few days ago I received an email…

YOU ARE INVITED: Two events honoring Christian fiction on November 7in Nashville

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association is hosting their annual Christy Award Gala as well as an Art of Writing Conference, and I was asked to attend!

Granted, I think this email is generically sent out to hundreds of book reviewers who express interest, and it’s not even free ($99 for both events) but I still had a little bit of child-like wonder opening up that email and imagining what it would be like to go.

If you haven’t heard of the Christy Awards before, they are given out each year to recognize novels of excellence written from a Christian worldview. Like the Academy Awards only for fiction written with a Christian worldview, various new books are nominated each year in different categories (romance, historical, suspense, etc.) and the winners in each division are announced at the Christy Awards ceremony. This year’s featured speakers include Francine Rivers and Charles Martin, bestselling authors–among others.

While I don’t really think I’ll be able to spend money on tickets to Nashville next month, I will be very excited to see which books are finalists (and which ones win.) I’ve been known to look through lists from past years (take a look at wikipedia’s here, covering 2000-2014) to get reading inspiration. My Hands Came Away Red is just one of the great books I’ve discovered!

Will you be going to the Christy Gala? Would you want to?

Ramblings

Hoopla vs. Overdrive for Christian Fiction Readers

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I don’t know about you, but since none of my rich uncles have decided to die and leave me untold fortunes (I don’t think I even have a rich uncle) I’m always open to exploring affordable ways to get my hands on books and audio books! Recently I’ve been trying two apps my local library subscribes to, hoopla and OverDrive.

If you haven’t heard of them before, basically both apps are designed to give library patrons access to thousands of free ebooks, audiobooks, and more. If your local library subscribes to these two popular “vendors”, all you need is your library card and a device to get started.  Each app is a little bit different though, so today I’m going to share a few of the pros and cons I’ve noticed as I’ve tried them out, particularly in regards to downloading/streaming Christian fiction.

First off, hoopla.

Your library pays a small fee every time you borrow an item through hoopla, which means the vendor is motivated to have a really good variety of books available in the hopes you will find what you want and digitally “check it out.” As a result, the selection on here is fantastic– even with the less popular Christian fiction genre.  I’ve found semi obscure books like Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, for example, or the futuristic The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley. Personally, the selection alone makes this app my favorite of the two options we’re looking at today! Some other thoughts:

  • There’s no way to search “Christian Fiction” and just see a mix of that genre, which makes it more difficult to discover new titles and authors.
  • I can’t find any way to recommend titles be added to the collection if they don’t have what I want.
  • All the books I’ve looked at have a loan period of 21 days.
  • You can “favorite” an item to come back to it later if you don’t want to borrow it now
  • At the end of the loan period the item is “returned” and removed from your device if you downloaded it
  • Limited borrows (may not be an issue depending on your library.) Through my library I am allowed to check out up to five items per month.

OverDrive

Each library or school that utilizes OverDrive picks the digital content they want for their users, so the selection available to you may be far better or worse than mine. More than likely, this is directly correlated with budgeting, so in my case I’m not surprised that it’s difficult to find anything but the most well known Christian fiction authors. On the upside, you can recommend an item for purchase and will be emailed if the item is added to the collection. Also:

  • In a roundabout way I can search Christian fiction; after bringing up a Christian fiction title and then clicking on it for more info the app lists the genres it falls into. From there I can click “Christian fiction” to see a selection of similar items
  • There are only a certain number of digital copies available of each book—so you might have to wait by putting the item on hold
  • Haven’t had any troubles downloading this to any of my android devices, including old nook
  • Like hoopla, there are limited borrows allowed. I’m not sure if this varies by library, but for me the limit is 7 items per months.

Both apps are worth looking into if you haven’t used them before. If you have, which do you prefer? What did you like (or not?)

 

 

Ramblings

Sneak Peek and Ramble, Hind’s Feet on High Places

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Recently I’ve been reading an old allegory by Hannah Hurnard called Hind’s Feet on High Places. Similar to Pilgrim’s Progress in ways, the main character (named Much-Afraid) is traveling up a mountain with the help of the Good Shepherd, hoping to someday make it to the High Places. Along the way she learns lessons and encounters various interesting characters. Continue reading “Sneak Peek and Ramble, Hind’s Feet on High Places”