12.31.2014

wordless wednesday

"God of breaking dawn, you dance the earth into day."



*Quote borrowed from Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book

12.26.2014

The Greatest Story Ever Told

by Fulton Oursler


from Goodreads
Fulton Oursler's 1949 novel about the life of Jesus Christ was written with powerful simplicity and set against a rich historical background. Using a fictionalized narrative, Oursler takes events from the Gospels of the New Testament and adds imaginative dialogues and personalities to recreate the first century, while maintaining Biblical integrity. As you experience Christ's nativity, the Holy Family's flight into Egypt, Christ's public ministry, passion, death, and resurrection, you will almost feel as if you were there.

my rating





my review
First off, can we all just take a moment to appreciate the irony of this situation? The Greatest Story Ever Told is the only book I've ever given a 1/5 to. And it gets such a rating because after 105 pages, one-third of the book, I couldn't go any further.

I was willing to work with a golden-bearded Joseph and blue-eyed Mary, despite the inaccuracies there. I didn't even mind overly much that the wise men appeared far too soon, and that there were exactly three of them. But while Joseph, Mary, and Jesus are all described as pale, the evil king Herod alone has brown skin. Though offended, I kept reading.

Later, when young Jesus is mentally questioning the practice of sacrificing animals, the author quotes Amos 5:21-24, which includes "Yea, though you offer me your burnt offerings and meal offerings, I will not accept them." Jesus asks himself why no one pays attention to this teaching of Amos. However, these verses do not refer to God's appreciation (or lack thereof) of sacrifices, but rather to the unfaithfulness of His people. God despises the empty rituals of those who do not fear Him.

I finally (and readily) gave up on the book at my husband's urging (apparently I was far too tense while reading it), ending just after Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine. Apparently, according to Fulton Oursler, ancient Israel had caterers--and they were male. I highly doubt it.

12.22.2014

DragonQuest (DragonKeeper Chronicles #2)

by Donita K. Paul


from the back cover
A dragonkeeper of Paladin, Kale is summoned from the Hall to The Bogs by the Wizard Fenworth to serve as his apprentice and tend his newly hatched meech dragon, Regidor. But Kale isn’t going alone. The Hall is sending a student to monitor her performance and report back to the scholars. Worst of all, it’s Bardon–an older boy Kale finds irritating, but who at least can hold his own in a sword fight.

Meanwhile, the Wizard Risto has seized another meech dragon, bringing him dangerously close to gaining the power he seeks. So with only a motley band of companions, Kale sets out on a desperate quest to rescue the second meech, to free those dragons already enslaved, and to thwart Risto’s devious plans. It’s up to Kale to lead the search and to embrace the role that’s rightfully hers. But will her efforts be enough to save the land of Amara from the dark future that awaits at Risto’s hands?


my rating





my review
If DragonSpell was Donita K. Paul testing the waters of fantasy writing, DragonQuest is her diving right in. The juvenile moments are gone, and the character development deepens. I remember liking book one more, but this is definitely my favorite of the two the second time around.

New characters are introduced, new friendships created, and more answers (and questions) written on the blank page of Kale's past.

I always find it difficult to review sequels (spoilers, anyone?), so I'll just leave it there--if you've read DragonSpell, then you know it was good and you should continue on with book two (you can't not like Donita K. Paul's fantasy books, in my humble-ish opinion). If you haven't, why are you reading the review for DragonQuest? You need to be over on this page to discover your new favorite series. :)



DragonQuest (DragonKeeper Chronicles, #2)

12.15.2014

DragonSpell (DragonKeeper Chronicles #1)

by Donita K. Paul

from the back cover
Once a slave, Kale is given the unexpected opportunity to become a servant to Paladin. Yet this young girl has much to learn about the difference between slavery and service. 

A Desperate Search Begins…

A small band of Paladin’s servants rescue Kale from danger but turn her from her destination: The Hall, where she was to be trained. Feeling afraid and unprepared, Kale embarks on a perilous quest to find the meech dragon egg stolen by the foul Wizard Risto. First, she and her comrades must find Wizard Fenworth. But their journey is threatened when a key member of the party is captured, leaving the remaining companions to find Fenworth, attempt an impossible rescue, and recover the egg whose true value they have not begun to suspect…



my rating




my review
This is the third time I've read this book... in about two years. The first two times I would have given it a 7/5 if such a thing was possible, but on this last reading I picked up on some details that actually brought it down to a plain ol' 5/5.

I absolutely love how Donita K. Paul writes her characters. As usual, the antagonist, Kale, is my favorite character--she's not "spunky," naively brave, or flawed-but-still-perfect (and unbearably obnoxious). She is timid with an underlying strength, yearning for purpose and belonging. And she reacts realistically to all of the situations Donita K. Paul throws her into, which is, unfortunately, not always the case with some book characters.

Kale's companions are, well, eccentric, but in the absolute best possible way. Especially Wizard Fenworth, who is Eccentric with a capital E. He's also one of my favorites (ok, they're all my favorites).

So why did I like it less the third time around? It seemed a bit juvenile in places. Towards the beginning of the book, a few of Kale's thoughts seemed like lazy substitutes for good detail. Overall, though, I still really enjoyed it. I won't remove DragonSpell from my favorites list quite yet! (or, you know, ever...)



DragonSpell (DragonKeeper Chronicles, #1)

12.04.2014

Beauty

by Robin McKinley


from the back cover
Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?"
Robin McKinley's beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty and the Beast.

my rating





my review
Before I begin, allow me to point out that this book was originally published in 1978, and the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast came out in 1991. Are we clear on this detail? Yes? Good. Whether you realize it or not, this brings a whole new perspective to the book; namely, it clarifies that Robin McKinley could not have copied Disney. Despite the great similarities between the two tellings. Anywho...

I found this to be a fun, light read and a wonderful retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales. Honestly, who couldn't like a book where the antagonists's best friend is a draft horse? (If you didn't already know, I have a slight obsession with horses. Especially of the larger variety.) It does seem to be geared more towards young adults, but it has a cover I wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in public with, and I really enjoyed reading it.

I do remember thinking it needed a good final edit, but I can't remember any specific examples, nor could I find any by scanning a few random pages. There's a reason why I don't usually wait a week before writing a book review.



Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast