10 books I’ve carried with me

This post originally came from a Facebook meme that’s been going around: name 10 books that have you’ve carried with you and don’t take too long to think about it. Normally I ignore stuff like this (“If you don’t forward this post, you’re a terrorist!” “If you don’t copy  and paste this post, I’m going to unfriend you!”), but it’s about books, so I couldn’t resist. It was a good exercise and I tried to follow the instructiosn by not thinking too much about it, so I missed The Giver, but other than that I haven’t thought of any other books that I would’ve added to the list. Apologies to my Facebook friends, who will have already seen the list.

If you are interested in seeing how the masses responded, Facebook has compiled the data here. There are some great books on the list, and the only one that gave me pause was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but since my first and favorite way to experience that story is via the radio drama, I don’t really think of it as a “book”.

So here’s my list, alphabetical by author (because picking 10 was hard enough, and I sure as heck wasn’t able to rank them!). One thing that helped me narrow down the list was thinking about which books I have physically carried with me over the years and miles, and which books continue to survive my frequent library purges.
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – le sigh. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

2. Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey – since I’ve had the privilege of living in cultures very similar to the one Jesus inhabited, I’ve long felt that the western world misses out on alot of the cultural context of the Old and New Testaments. This book gives some great context for Jesus’s life. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – such a great story about the power of books and the dangers of censorship. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

4. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – this represents the entire Christie oeuvre, which has given me hours and hours of reading pleasure. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

5. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George – this is a great children’s survival story which not only features a non-male, non-white main character (gasp!) but handles incredibly adult themes very deftly and in an age-appropriate manner. This is definitely due for a reread. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

6. The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis – this again stands for the whole Chronicles of Narnia series, and is probably my favorite of the bunch, though the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a very close second. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

7. 1984 by George Orwell – this book has stayed with me since I snitched it from my older brother’s assigned reading list in high school. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

8. Harry Potter by JK Rowling – such a fun story! (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

9. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers – possibly my favorite book of all time. Layers upon layers of depth, and I discover something new about the book or myself everytime I read it. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

10. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein – what can I say? The fantasy by which all fantasy is measured. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

What about you? What 10 books would make your list?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Book Review: Matt Archer: Monster Hunter by Kendra Highley

Bottom Line: A gritty YA fantasy definitely worth the read.

Rating: Strongly Recommended

Blurb:

Fourteen-year-old Matt Archer spends his days studying Algebra, hanging out with his best friend and crushing on the Goddess of Greenhill High, Ella Mitchell. To be honest, he thinks his life is pretty lame until he discovers something terrifying on a weekend camping trip at the local state park.

Monsters are real. And living in his backyard.

But that’s not the half of it. After Matt is forced to kill a strange creature to save his uncle, he finds out that the weird knife he took from his uncle’s bag has a secret, one that will change Matt’s life. The knife was designed with one purpose: to hunt monsters. And it’s chosen Matt as its wielder.

Now Matt’s part of a world he didn’t know existed, working with a covert military unit dedicated to eliminating walking nightmares. Faced with a prophecy about a looming dark war, Matt soon realizes his upcoming Algebra test is the least of his worries.

His new double life leaves Matt wondering which is tougher: hunting monsters or asking Ella Mitchell for a date?

Review:

This is one of those books that languished on my Kindle for a very long time. I’d grabbed it on sale, but just didn’t get started on it for one reason or another. Then I found myself stranded in an airport for several hours one Saturday morning – WITHOUT my toddler – and I have to say, those were pretty much the most relaxing hours I’ve had since December 2012, when said toddler entered my life. I sat in an airport restaurant, drank my weight in tea, and read Matt Archer: Monster Hunter.

It was very, very good. It’s the classic YA tale of a normal teenager finding out he has powers, and must use them to fight for his family and his world. However, there were a few things done differently that I thought elevated it above the general YA fantasy offering. I loved that adults are fighting the evil as well, and they are mostly skeptical of bringing this kid into the mix. It seemed much more realistic than say, the Percy Jackson books, where the issue of “but where are all the adult demigods and why aren’t they doing anything?” is pretty much glossed over. I also loved its international outlook. Matt’s an American kid, and the story is based in America, but instead of everything happening in the states, there are incidents popping up all over the world.

Another issue I have with some YA fantasy series is that so often it feels like watching an old school video game. Each book is a level, and you have to make it to the end of the level to fight the boss, and then you start a new level with its boss,  then at the end of the whole game, you fight the big boss. Each book neatly wraps up one year of school or a summer between school years, with the bad guys conveniently making their move during finals or right before school starts up again, depending on the series. And while I understand authors wanting to contribute to the overarching series plot, while giving readers closure during the individual books as well, it so often just feels contrived. Matt Archer’s plot moved along in a very natural progression. He’s fighting monsters, and he’s also going to school, but it didn’t feel like the monsters were timing their attacks around the school year.

Ranting aside, Matt feels like a very realistic teenage boy. He’s likeable, has character flaws, and reacts in a very believable way to all the weird stuff that has now become his life. I loved his family and friends and hope we get to know them better.

The author, Kendra Highley (who I can claim to know slightly through the power of social media – and is a lovely person as well as talented author), was in the process of releasing the fifth and last book in the series while I was reading the first, so I’m excited to have a completed series to plow through as time, energy, and budget allows. I am a little nervous to do so because this book started off grittier and more intense (and with an older protagonist) than many YA series, and I’m guessing it follows the pattern of becoming darker as the story progresses. I don’t handle stress all that well in general, and definitely not when I’m pregnant. I mostly want everything to be rainbows and sunshine and unicorns. I’m pretty sure people are going to die in this series…people I like. Oh well.

If you like YA fantasy, this is a book that must not be missed!

Get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Review of Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990) (Jurassic Park Series)

Bottom line: A classic, both in paper and on the screen, that is worth the hype.

Rating: Recommended

Blurb:

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.

Until something goes wrong. . . .

Review:

I had not read Jurassic Park, nor seen the movie, until a few weeks ago. I’d read maybe one or two other of Michael Crichton’s work, so I was looking forward to getting into this classic – and not just so I could then watch the movie, which I’d been hearing about for years.

Jurassic Park did not disappoint. It’s certainly a Crichton: full of action, a sense of impending doom, slightly flat characters, and very engrossing. As the proud holder of a math degree, I especially enjoyed his portrayal of the jerk-mathematician-academic-rockstar. I thought it started out a little slow in the beginning, building up to the “hey, look, we made dinosaurs!” part, but the beginning pieces did help add to the tension and mystery surrounding the park.

The movie was a fairly stressful for me. I realized about halfway into it that it’s really a horror movie: things jumping out at you from the darkness to rip you apart. Knowing who was going to die and approximately when just made it more tense for me as I waited for the bad things to happen. I don’t think I could watch it again.

I will say that I was completely astonished by how well the twenty year old special effects have held up. Because they used a mixture of puppets/animatronics and CGI (according to my movie consultant/husband), it doesn’t feel as dated as say, the Lord of the Rings movies which are about ten years old and rely much more heavily on CGI, which were perhaps not quite up to the challenge.

The kids in the movie were much more realistic and less annoying than they were in the book, although I thought the lone female academic was wimpier in the movie version. I also enjoyed the book’s more detailed exposition of both the science being discussed and the steps that led to the massive failures of the park. In the movie it was easier to keep track of the different characters – at least for me, since I had a hard time keeping Crichton’s more supporting characters straight in the book.

In all, I’m glad I finally got around to watching such an iconic movie, even though (as usual) the book was better. It was a fun and engaging read, but I don’t feel drawn to the world enough to explore other books in the series.

Get it (Book): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Get it (Movie): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of Sorcery and Cecelia

Sorcery and Cecelia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot (1988) (Cecelia and Kate #1) by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Bottom line: Delightful

Rating: Strongly Recommended

Blurb:

In 1817 in England, two young cousins, Cecilia living in the country and Kate in London, write letters to keep each other informed of their exploits, which take a sinister turn when they find themselves confronted by evil wizards.

Review:

I try not to use the word “delightful” too much (or any other word that I don’t use in real life), but with this book, I just can’t escape it. It simply is delightful: think Jane Austen with magic, mysteries, and mayhem. The entire book is told in the form of letters written between the two cousins, and the adventures they find themselves in are a fun way to explore the characters.

One of the things I loved the most about this book, apart from the introduction of magic and wizards into a traditional Regency setting, is that it is all about relationships: the girls’ relationship with each other, their siblings, their families, the men in their lives, and how all of those people interact. The plot keeps things moving along, and the humor is a very nice touch. I love Kate, who is clumsy and generally unlucky, despite being an intelligent and capable person. She’s just the sort of person who would manage to accidentally stumble into a not-quite-real garden in the middle of a ceremony and embarrass everyone.

If you like the occasional (clean) Regency romance, but sometimes find them a bit, well, boring, this is definitely a book to check out. I read it with a smile on my face, and was delighted (if I’m going to use it, I may as well over use it) to find that it was the first in a series. 

Confess: do you read Regency romances?

Get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy

Review:

C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strengthh) is the most disjointed trilogy I have ever read. That’s not to say it isn’t worth reading, or even good, but it feels more like a very loosely related collection of books than a trilogy. What makes it feel so disjointed is the tone, rather than any major plot or character devices. To me, Out of the Silent Planet feels like Lewis is exploring the idea of what life on another planet might look like. Perelandra takes that concept and builds upon a Christianity-compatible philosophic framework introduced at the end of Out of the Silent Planet. That Hideous Strength is, quite frankly, very weird. It seems to be the next step in Lewis’s thinking about philosophy, and planets, and angels and demons, but with more science AND more fantasy thrown in.

I’m still recommending these books, as they are such classic science fiction reads, and I found the first two enjoyable. I didn’t necessarily “enjoy” the last book, but I’m still glad I finished the trilogy. Lewis is, as always, a very skilled writer, and it’s incredibly interesting to get a glimpse into the way his mind worked as his characters interact with each other and explore other planets and our own.

Hard-core Tolkien fans will enjoy glimpses of his influence in this work, both in the languages and some of the names, and the character of Ransom, who was modeled after Tolkien. There are also a couple of references to Numenor.

Get it: Amazon (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength), Barnes & Noble (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength),

Blurbs:

Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet is the first novel in C. S. Lewis’s classic science fiction trilogy. It tells the adventure of Dr. Ransom, a Cambridge academic, who is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the “silent planet”—Earth—whose tragic story is known throughout the universe!

Perelandra

Perelandra, the second novel in Lewis’s science fiction trilogy, tells of Dr. Ransom’s voyage to the paradise planet of Perelandra, or Venus, which turns out to be a beautiful Eden-like world. He is horrified to find that his old enemy, Dr. Weston, has also arrived and is putting him in grave peril once more. As the mad Weston’s body is taken over by the forces of evil, Ransom engages in a desperate struggle to save the innocence of Perelandra!

That Hideous Strength

That Hideous Strength is the third novel in Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. Set on Earth, it tells of a terrifying conspiracy against humanity. The story surrounds Mark and Jane Studdock, a newly married couple. Mark is a sociologist who is enticed to join an organization called N.I.C.E., which aims to control all human life. Jane, meanwhile, has bizarre prophetic dreams about a decapitated scientist, Alcasan. As Mark is drawn inextricably into the sinister organization, he discovers the truth of his wife’s dreams when he meets the literal head of Alcasan, which is being kept alive by infusions of blood. Jane seeks help concerning her dreams at a community called St. Anne’s, where she meets their leader—Dr. Ransom. The story ends in a final spectacular scene at the N.I.C.E. headquarters where Merlin appears to confront the powers of Hell.

What did you think?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of The Princess Bride by William Goldman (1973)

Bottom line: A movie that is 100% fun, and the book that inspired it.

Rating: Strongly Recommended for the movie, Recommended for the book

Blurb:

William Goldman’s modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests—for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love—that’s thrilling and timeless.

Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you’ll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that’s home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”

Review:

The Princess Bride movie version gets about 10 out of 5 stars from me. It’s sweet, funny, memorable, and might just be one of my favorite movies of all time. I actually had no idea it was based on a book until very recently, and I had a recommendation for it, so I thought I’d give it a try – not without some trepidation, as in my experience either the book is good or the movie is good, but generally not both, and I was afraid of ruining one of my beloved childhood classics if I hated the book.

The book is quite odd in some respects. It’s framed as an abridgement of (the fictional) S. Morgenstern’s “classic” story of the true history of the nations of Florin and Guilder.  It’s a fairy tale fantasy wrapped in layer upon layer of fiction. I’m a very literal person, and I like there to be a pretty distinct line between fiction and non-fiction. I’m ok with books being framed as “truth” when it’s pretty clear that we’re reading fiction (as in the Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy). But Goldman is telling you the story of his childhood, and about his life with his wife and son, presented as fact. Frankly, he’s kind of a jerk about both of them, and I was relieved to learn that that part was also made up. To me it felt like the difference between a practical joke at someone’s expense, and just a joke – Goldman’s fake narrative of his life feels mean spirited at times. He’s at his best when he’s actually telling the story of the Princess Bride, although I kind of hated that in the book, Buttercup is really, really stupid.

I feel like the movie (which Goldman wrote the screenplay for) kept all the great parts of the book, and smoothed out some of the rougher edges, so that the result is just an incredibly fun, swashbuckling fairytale movie that can make fun of itself. I think the book is worth reading if you were a huge fan of the movie and want to see where it all started, but I don’t know that I’d recommend it in and of itself. I’m still trying to sort through whether I liked it or not – when I finished instead of thinking to myself “Wow, I loved it!” or “That was terrible!” or any of the usual things I think when I’ve finished a book, I thought, “Well, that was different.”

Have you read the book? How much did you love the movie?

Get it – book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Get it – movie: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of Young Frankenstein (1974) Movie

In celebration of Halloween on Thursday, I’m going to review Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein. For those of you who are familiar with Mel Brooks, those four words pretty much tell you all that you need to know. It’s Mel Brooks putting his classic touch on the Frankenstein story. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mel Brooks, I’m sorry for your difficult childhood, and please go watch Spaceballs immediately. The humor is crude, the acting is over the top, the lines are ridiculous – in other words pretty much everything you could ever want in a movie.

If you’re still not sure if this movie is one you’d enjoy, let me give you a hint: my female relatives are reading this and wondering where they went wrong with me, while my male relatives are reading this and thinking “man, it’s been a while, I need to watch it again!” It is certainly the type of movie that you need to be in the mood for – slapstick comedies don’t always fit the bill for an evening in, but it is really funny and showcases some greats: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Madeline Khan, and even Gene Hackman has a small bit.

My plans for Halloween are set: dress my baby up as Luke Skywalker, eat candy corn, and watch Young Frankenstein. I’m also wishing I could sedate our dog for the evening, as an anxious terrier plus trick-or-treating kids ringing the doorbell every five minutes is not a happy combination, but that’s neither here nor there.

Side note: It’s rated PG, which by today’s standards is probably technically accurate, but I’d call it more PG-13 lite. Apart from the rauncy bits, there are some parts that might be scary for younger children, so I’d definitely make sure you are very familiar with the movie before deciding whether or not to let your kids watch it.

Get it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

What’s your favorite Mel Brooks movie? Can’t stand him? Anyone want to watch my dog on Oct. 31?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Review of Firefly (TV Show)

Bottom line: Intense and yet often hilarious – a rare example of a good sci fi show.

Rating: Shiny (Strongly Recommended)

Blurb:

The blurb that follows is lifted from the Barnes and Noble page, and it’s a bit long, but it does a reasonable job of answering the question “but what is it about?

Joss Whedon, the executive producer behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, reached for curious new heights in the fall of 2002 with the Fox series Firefly, and the fruits of his labor are collected in this four-disc set. Set 500 years in the future, Firefly falls in the category of sci-fi space adventure, yet its flavor is rooted in the Wild West. Earth is pretty much spent, and a totalitarian government known as the Alliance rules the planets where most of its earlier inhabitants have spread. Nathan Fillion stars as Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, who fought for independence from the Alliance in a civil war, and now captains the Serenity, a ship of outcasts. His crew includes his second-in-command Zoe Gina Torres, a pilot named Wash Alan Tudyk, engineering maven Kaylee Jewel Staite, and career soldier Jayne Adam Baldwin. Also aboard are Inara Morena Baccarin, a highly respected prostitute; a preacher known as Shepherd Book Ron Glass, of Barney Miller fame; and a mysterious pair of siblings — Simon and River Tam — portrayed by Sean Maher and Summer Glau, respectively. Although Whedon’s Farscape- meets- Bonanza concept clicked straight away with many fans, the series failed to meet Fox’s ratings needs, and crashed after 11 episodes, all collected here, in addition to a trio of unaired episodes. Fox could not permanently ground this crew, however; Serenity, a big-screen reunion movie directed by writer-producer Whedon, opened in theaters in September, 2005, drawing generally favorable reviews.

Review:

This show has many things that I would normally hate – there is lots of tension, drama, and unhappiness – but there is also excellent characters, strong morals, and subtly hilarious lines. Essentially, it is Joss Whedon (god of the nerds) at his finest. Shoot, it might be TV at its finest. It was cancelled after eleven episodes, and strong fan outrage prompted a follow up movie, Serenity, which is also amazing, but difficult to watch because there are so many sad moments in it. (Note: Firefly also has its very hard to watch moments. Don’t be scared off: I am a total wimp and want everyone to be happy all the time. Tone-wise it’s very similar to Castle – see my review here.)

So what is it that prompted such a small but incredibly intense following? Everything about it is done well. The casting, acting, writing, special effects, everything is just fantastic. The characters feel like real people and you root for them even when they screw up. Whedon developed the show after reading the book The Killer Angels (strongly recommended, even for non-history buffs, like myself) about the Civil War and wondering what happened to those who fought on the losing side.

This is the kind of show that you find yourself thinking about days, months, even years after watching it. I can’t watch it too frequently because, as I said earlier, it can be dark and there is definitely violence, language, and sex. Even with all of that, it still feels hopeful. Loyalty and family bonds are very strong themes throughout – family being those we are related to, those we gather around us, and those we somehow fell into it with. And if we have our family standing with us, we can face anything.

Get it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Are you a Browncoat? Does it sound like something you’d try?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Close Encounters of the Fourteenth Century Kind

Howdy! I’m on vacation in Brazil for most of September, so I turned the tables on my readers and opened up the blog for guests posts while I’m gone. Today’s post comes from John, a.k.a. Mr. Lector’s Books.

I have a confession: I listen to a lot of audiobooks.  Where most people listen to music, I would much rather hear a story.  This is why (other than my utter lack of mathematical ability) I majored in history.  History courses and books are most engaging to me when I get to know the people involved and understand how situations and perceptions affect decisions and events.  One of my favorite books, and one assigned in my American History 101 class, is Killer Angles by Michael Shaara.  Killer Angles is a novelization of the Battle of Gettysburg and tells the story of the battle from the perspective of soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies.  To study a battle is one thing, but to read/hear it coming from the voices and conflicted inner monologues of real people brings depth to a war that divided our nation and shaped its future.

I enjoy historical non-fiction and books on current events, but, if I’m completely honest, most of the books I listen to are pure sci-fi escapism.  I love the world building of authors like Robert Heinlein, C.S. Lewis, Susan Collins, and John Scalzi.  When I need something outside of my trusted authors, I will randomly pick a sci-fi book from an author I haven’t read or heard of before.  Sometimes I end up with a dud, but other times I find gems like Eifelhiem by Michael F. Flynn.  This wonderfully strange book combines elements of actual history and sci-fi to produce a work of fiction that is truly unique and speaks to my historical and alien-loving geekiness.

Eifelhiem is about humans making contact with alien race that comes to Earth.  What is fascinating about the book is that the author sets this close encounter in fourteenth century Germany and the protagonist is the village of Eifelhiem’s priest.  As the author tells the story of the humans interacting with a “demonic” looking race of beings, there is a secondary plot set in the present.  In the present, a cliometric history professor (a field that uses economics to study the course of history) is trying to piece together why the village of Eifelhiem was abandoned in the fourteenth century and never inhabited again, while his wife, also a professor, ponders the mysteries of theoretical physics.

Like the history professor in the book, I came to admire the village’s priest, Father Dietrich.  Dietrich is a man whose fervor for his faith once led him down a darker path, but he now channels his passion into serving and taking care of the people of the village, his adopted home.  He is a man trained in religion, philosophy, history, logic, and science.  His learning and religious views are tempered by his age and wide array of experiences, making him a gentle and wise man and pastor.  His congregants love and respect him, and feel comfortable enough to make fun of his often technically brilliant yet dry sermons.

Dietrich is the first of the humans to recognize that the aliens, the Krank, are not demons.  He sees them as mortal men, simply different from himself.  However, he is not the first of the humans to offer hospitality.  The story explores themes of racism, charity, and grace.   It also delves into questions regarding the soul and who our “neighbor” is in the New Testament sense.

I would not call this a religious or Christian book.  The intent is to tell a story in the world of medieval Europe.  To tell a story in that place and time, just like when you study Western history, you have to consider the beliefs and motivations of that era’s people.  For Europeans at that time, their views of the world were shaped by the Catholic Church.  The author is not making a statement, just using the resources available to him during the time period of when he is writing.

I would recommend this book if you have any interest in history, economics, sci-fi, physics and/or if you have ever wondered how Christianity would reconcile the existence of sentient extraterrestrials.  I would also warn that the time period lacked our current medical understanding.  There are several scenes of detailed medical procedures that would seem counterintuitive to anyone who has even watched a modern medical drama.  There is serious foreshadowing throughout the book about the eventualities of the humans and the aliens. Even though the fates of the villagers and the visitors can be surmised through information in the book, I found that I still wanted to know how everything played out.  This is yet another unique quality of book I greatly enjoyed.

Thanks for reading,

John

Available (Audiobook): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Available (e-book): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

What are your favorite audiobooks?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Review of Illusion by Frank Peretti (2012)

Bottom line: A fascinating and intriguing story about love, time-travel, and magic.

Rating: Strongly Recommended

Blurb:

In a world where nothing is as it seems, anything is possible.

DANE AND MANDY, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life—or so everyone thinks. Even as Dane mourns, Mandy awakes in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discovers a magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop.

Hoping to discover a new talent, Dane ventures into the shop and is transfixed by the illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot explain. But more than anything, he is devastated by this teenager who doesn’t know him, is certainly not in love with him, but is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier.

They begin a furtive relationship as mentor and protégée, but even as Dane tries to sort out who she really is and she tries to understand why she is drawn to him, they are watched by secretive interests who not only possess the answers to Mandy’s powers and misplacement in time but also the roguish ability to decide what will become of her.

Review:

A friend lent me this book, and I’m so glad she did. It’s not the type of thing that I would have sought out on my own. I’ve never been all that fascinated by magic, and the innate frustration of the storyline – I know you, why don’t you know me? Or am I just crazy? – is the kind of thing that could easily drive ME crazy. And yes, there was definitely some frustration in all of that, but was a remarkably well told story. I found myself racing through the pages, frantically trying to figure out a solution that would let Dane and Mandy be happy and together.

I guess the only issue I really had with the book was that there were a lot of characters, and I had a hard time remembering who was who. Genre-wise, I’d say it was kind of sci-fi light – there aren’t an excruciating amount of details given about the mechanics of the time/space travel, in fact, I could have used a little more explanation myself, but it wasn’t all that important. This is a story about love.

The writing and storytelling were excellent. I seem to vaguely remember reading some of Peretti’s other works as a child, but I can’t remember what. I’ll have to do some research. I’m not very good at names: real people, characters, or titles, so I’ll have to dig into some of his storylines and see if they ring any bells. I’m very interested in trying some of his other works (or retrying as the case may be). This was a book that captivated me from page one.

Side note: The pain and loss felt by Dane at the opening of the book when Mandy dies is vivid and real. I teared up several times during the story – something that is rare for me. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who has recently lost a loved one. There are also strong Christian elements in this book, again, this was something that was handled remarkably well. It felt very natural to the story and the characters, which is not always the case.

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Have any of you read the book? Read any of Peretti’s other works?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.