Friday, November 17, 2017

The Bibliophile Sweater Tag

This tag was shamelessly stolen from Josiah over at The Steadfast Pen. If you haven't visited his blog yet, you should definitely check it out. He has some great perspectives on Christian writing and also shares some hilarious snippets from his early writing. 

As always with tags, there are rules to follow. Or are they more like guidelines?

1. Give the person who tagged you an endless supply of cookies. (Since I tagged myself, can I still do this?)
2. Answer the questions and use the blog graphic. 
3. Pass along the tag (since I'm following the pirate code and these are more guidelines than actual rules, feel free to pirate this tag from me).
4. Wear a sweater. Does wearing one yesterday count?

Fuzzy Sweater--The Epitome of Comfort
For this book, I'm going to pick A Wrinkle in Time. I know that I bring it or LotR up in pretty much every bookish tag that I do, but I can't help myself. It just really picks me up when I'm feeling blue--just like a fuzzy sweater.

Striped Sweater-A Book which you Devoured Every Line
It's going to sound weird, but Ender's Game. I read it on my Kindle and I think about a third of the book is highlighted."Perhaps it's impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be," is one of my favorites.

Ugly Christmas Sweater--Book with a Weird Cover
Even  though I loved the book, I'm going to have to go with this version of Daughter of Light. It makes more sense once you've read the book, but it's still weird. 

Cashmere Sweater--Most Expensive Book
I didn't buy it, but the most expensive one I own is a really nice copy of LotR that my parents got me for my 21st birthday. 

Hoodie--Favorite Classic
To veer away from LotR, I'll say A Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne.

Cardigan--Book Purchased on Impulse
Most recently, The Chronicles of Riddick. I actually enjoyed it a fair bit.

Turtleneck Sweater--Book from Your Childhood
Pippi Longstocking. I'll still read it if I've had a bad day and it doesn't fail to cheer me up.

Homemade Knitted Sweater--Indie Book
I've reviewed a number of Indie books on the blog, so I went searching for one that I haven't given much publicity through book reviews, buttons, or multiple books reviewed in a series. I rediscovered The Collar and the Cavvarach, which I would definitely recommend.

V-neck Sweater--A Book that Didn't Meet Your Expectations
The Messengers: Discovered. I really wanted to like it, but I didn't. It had all the things wrong with Christian apocalyptic fiction and even the spot-on theology wasn't enough to save it. I partially set it up for failure because many of my friends on the internet really enjoyed it and I therefore had similar expectations, especially considering that it came from a publishing house that I trust (albeit more for non-fiction). I'm still debating on reading the sequel.

Argyle Sweater--Book with a Weird Format
I hate myself for even writing the title of this book. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Apologies if you like it. My opinion on it is that someone was eating far too many mushrooms in the woods. It was the 70's, after all. 

Polka Dot Sweater--A Book with Well-Rounded Characters
There are quite a few that I could pick for this one, but I'm going to choose A Cast of Stones, by Patrick W. Carr.

What would you answer for some of these questions? 

Feel free to steal the tag!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Just Dropping By

Hi folks,
Sorry for the quietude on the blog lately. Between some matters in my personal life, an increasing work schedule, and some other issues, writing for NaNo (and the blog) has taken a bit of a back seat for the moment.
Thanks for your patience! I hope to get back to posting and NaNo'ing soon.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Fiction Fix: "Hood"

Beginning next week, posting during November will be reduced. Posts will go up on Fridays, but watch out for pop-up posts during the week, word wars, and other NaNoWriMo fun. 

The Short:

King Raven #1

By: Stephen R. Lawhead

5/5 Stars

What: A young prince finds that he is his people’s only hope of freedom—but will his brash, strongheaded ways cause him to fail?

Recommended to those who like: Fantasy, Robin Hood, Loosely Christian

The Long:

Bran ap Brychan is the reluctant prince of a piece of Welsh countryside. He wants nothing to do with the kingship or his father, but he seems to be doomed to be drawn into the conflict brewing between the Welsh lords and the invading Normans. However, when the conflict comes to a head, he’s forced to step up and become the leader he was born to be.

I remember trying to read this book a few years ago, but I didn’t finish it before the library wanted it back. (Silly libraries—wanting books returned to them). I’m not sure whether it was some maturity I’ve gained in the past few years, the gloomy weather, or the fact that I just wanted to sit down and read a book from start to finish in a couple days that compelled me to finish it this time around.

I enjoyed it, too. The weather has suddenly turned cold here in the Midwest and this was the perfect book to read. It’s relatively realistic fiction for fantasy, but it’s eerie and a bit gritty, perfect for some gloomy, rainy weather. However, that does make this book better suited for teens and older audiences.

The pace is a little slower than many books and takes several Tolkien-esque detours, so if you’re looking for a book that’s fast-paced and action-packed, I would steer you away from this one. (One detour in the middle of the book caused people on Goodreads a certain amount of consternation and star-reduction). The castle politics and larger political scene can also be a bit mind-boggling at times. This is on par with much of Lawhead’s other works, such as Taliesin, so if you’ve read those you have an idea of what to expect.

Also on par with Lawhead’s other work is the somewhat ambiguous Christian nature of the story. I’m expecting him to come out with a bit of a clearer message with the next installment, like he has in his other stories. This story planted a seed of Christian thought, but it hasn’t quite sprouted yet.

The Bottom Line: This grim fantasy story is well-suited for teens and up who are looking for a more ponderous read. 
What's your favorite fall read?

Are you NaNo'ing this year? Find me on the NaNo site under the name R. Lutz!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pictures from Wittenburg

As we wrap our celebration of the 500th anniversary of the reformation, I thought that I would share a few pictures from Wittenburg, Germany that I took on my trip over the summer. Hope you enjoy!

Downtown Wittenburg. If you're looking for Luther gifts, you can find it here.

A monument to Luther, about halfway between the two churches he's come to be associated with.

The Theses doors. All 95 theses are printed on them. The original wooden doors were lost.

The Schlosskirche (castle church) where Luther nailed the Theses. The top of the tower has the opening lines to "Ein Feste Burg" (A Mighty Fortress is Our God).

The Stadtkirche (city church) where Luther preached regularly.

Inside of the Stadtkirche.

Luther's House, which is now a museum.

The altar piece in the Schlosskirche. 

The stained glass at the front of the Schlosskirche. For perspective, this is above the altarpiece shown in the picture before. Aside from being beautiful, it was a powerful reminder that, at the end of the day, Jesus is above all else--even famous, snarky theologians. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Sequel Review: "Fortress of Mist"

I would highly recommend reading The Orphan King prior to picking up his sequel. I'l be back with a new series next week!

The Short:

Fortress of Mist
Merlin’s Immortals Book 2

By: Sigmund Brouwer

4.5/5 Stars

What: Two opposing forces have their eyes set on Thomas, new Lord of Magnus, as the centerpiece to their schemes.

Recommended to those who like: Fantasy, King Arthur/Merlin, intrigue, Christian

The Long:

The tension continues to build right from where The Orphan King left off. While I would definitely recommend reading these books in order, you can easily pick up Fortress of Mist after taking a break from the series; the offer provides enough of a recap to make the story understandable if you have some memory of the characters.

Thomas is placed in an ever deepening web of deceit, intrigue, and plots as the new Lord of Magnus. Two groups seem to have their sights set on his soul and knowledge, but which is worthy of his allegiance? Can he even rely on the wisdom of his departed mother? What if he was wrong about who he could trust all along?

The resulting tale is a quick read and could easily be enjoyed by younger audiences (through early teens—some violent scenes), though older readers will also likely enjoy he captivating, twisting storylines just as well.

The Christian message is more fleshed out in this book than the previous book, but continues to complement, rather than overwhelm, the main plot lines.

The Bottom Line: I would recommend this fantasy series to fantasy fans who enjoy a touch of intrigue.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hound Dog Harmonies: "The Lutheran Song"

I'm going to be a terrible blogger and inflict "Lost and Found" on you twice within a month.

Unfortunately, this song doesn't really have any themes to analyze, but it does list off people who are--or were at one point in their lives--Lutherans. With no further ado, you can check the Famous Lutherans Song

If that wasn't enough Lost and Found for you, you may be slightly crazy, just like me you can also search for their songs about the LCMS and ELCA. (Unfortunately, they don't have a WELS song that I can find.) I think you'll recognize the tune right away.

Next week I'll be wrapping up my Reformation series with a series of pictures I took in Wittenburg, the birthplace of the Reformation.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Fiction Fix: "Chains of Gwyndorr"

The Short:

Chains of Gwyndorr
The Poison Tree Path Chronicles #1

By: Joan Campbell

5/5 Stars

What: A young aristocratic woman is a prisoner in her own home, but maybe the stone she’s found will provide her way of escape.

Recommended to those who like: Fantasy, Christian

The Long:

Wow, what a pleasant surprise! I picked up this book during an online sale and didn’t expect a whole lot out of it. The worldbuilding, characters, and plot sucked me right in.

Shara is the adopted daughter of two aristocrats. However, she’s not allowed to leave the house and it seems that her parents are interested in just about anything but her. One day, she finds a magical stone that may hold the key to her past—and her future.

But her future looks more uncertain by the day. Her freshly rekindled friendship with the low-born stable hand seems to be causing more trouble than even her headstrong nature could. The law’s on his tail for teaching low-born children how to read and saving them from the raids that send them to the deadly Rif’twine forest. If he’s not careful, he’ll be sent there himself.

The resulting story is one of intrigue, friendship, and excellent worldbuilding. The author opened the story by giving us a load of mysteries and she revealed just enough at a time to keep me drawn in. She left quite the assortment of mysteries to keep me intrigued for the next installment, as well.
The book has some Christian undertones, but nothing strong as of yet. I look forward to seeing how those themes might be explored in the next book, which was just released.

The Bottom Line: This Christian fantasy was a pleasant surprise and has a lot to offer to fans of the genre. I would definitely recommend it!