Genesis and Cannonball #4-5.

Can’t read the start of Genesis without getting this stuck in my head.

Thanks, Ned Flanders. Hey, have a good day with that cycling through your brain, too!
To Cannonball news – recently I finished CBR4 book 4, ‘The Declaration’, by Gemma Malley…review will be up soon. I’m working afternoons this week, so I’m trying to cram as much stuff in before 12.30 as possible. I just started the second book in the series, ‘The Resistance’; these are fairly quick, easy reads so I feel as though I’ll need to push myself for my next CBR4 pick (unless I just review the whole bible?)

And, eep, starting the popular couch to 5k programme in about ten minutes. Got the podcast. Got some shoes. Got no motivation. But we’ll see how we go.

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An update as of…three…four…seconds ago.

This is my bible reading plan, for those who are interested. Fairly straight forward.

However I am fifteen days behind.

Goals, bibles and things.

Havin’ a chat with one of the guys from work about goals. He’s one of those superrrr ~goal-orientated people; he doesn’t seem to able to function without having three types of goal going on at once.

I have never, ever in my life set a goal for myself. I am not entirely sure what this says about me. Probably that I am lazy. True fact. Has it lessened my life experience somewhat? Er. Probably not.

Bleh, anyway, goals. Neat. I have a couple in mind. Obviously cannonballing is one. There’s some financial stuff (boring. as. heck.) and some other less soul-deadening stuff. But the one I’ve been tossing up for awhile now is reading the entire bible this year.

Non-Jesus types or the otherwise uninterested can switch off…now!

Doesn't it just look like angels will sing when you finally crack this thing open?

I’ve been a Christian officially since I was about seventeen. One of the usual stories, really – my dad died and I needed something more. I’d never not believed in God; I just hadn’t acted on it – never taken the plunge to commit myself to Him. I finally did that, and from then on was a fairly regular church goer/camp attender/small group member. 

I’m twenty three now. My church attendance has fluctuated since I got married almost two years ago. My husband comes from a Christian family and has been in a church all of his life, culminating in his attending bible college this year in order to eventually lead a church (which he could do now, I suppose, Brian Tamaki style, but he’d rather, y’know – have a solid theological background). Due to some sucky family circumstances last year, I felt myself backsliding away from God and from my ‘true path’ (Christian talk, there ain’t nothin’ like it). Going to church became quite possibly the worst thing I could do with my time on a Sunday morning, when I could be doing worthy things – like working, or watching TV, or sleeping. Sleeping was my favourite.

It’s no one’s fault but mine, just so you know. Church hadn’t suddenly become boring or terrible. Somewhere, my heart just went…’nah.’ So I shut off. I shut down my ears in church services (when I went) and I shut down my brain to prayer or any form of talking to God, outside of listening to some badass Christian bands (they exist).

This is a fairly brief overview of a chaotic and kind of shameful time in my life. It’s sort of vital background, though, for where I find myself at the start of this year.

I went to the first church service for the year with my husband, his family and my best friend. While sitting there, I decided this year I would only miss church when I couldn’t avoid it. Looking around at the full-up service, I wondered if everyone else was making the same promise to themselves. You know how it is, new year, everyone’s like, ‘Okay! This year, things will be different‘, and you know they’re saying it like it’s in bold italics. Everyone makes bold italic promises that they keep for about three weeks.

I’ve never made resolutions, either. They’re probably the same as goals, but there you go.

It’s fifteen days in and I haven’t missed a service yet. I would be more proud of this if there hadn’t only been two Sundays so far. I will be missing one this week (work roster, once every third Sunday I will inevitable be MIA). But the other part of the bold italic promise I’ve made to myself and the Big Guy, is that I’ll finally crack the spine on my years-old-but-brand-new-looking study bible.

Mine legit looks just like this - 'never been used' about covers it.

I’ve tried to read the entire bible before, heaps of times. And each time I’ve just sort of…stopped. I get to Leviticus and go, no thank you. No. Thank. You. I’ll take my salvation and run with it, cheers, Jesus.

Yeah. I can’t do that anymore.

Two weeks ago, one of the kids from my work asked me what I’d learnt in church that morning. I told him the lesson that day had been how to follow Jesus, in a nutshell. Then I freaked out because I couldn’t give him any relevant scriptural supplements.

A few months ago, one of my friends brought his girlfriend around for dinner. We were talking about Narnia and scripture and Jesus and Aslan and Jesus, when she said ‘What, have you guys not read the whole bible?’ The incredulous tone in her voice was not, I don’t think, imagined by me. Her boyfriend, my husband and myself all hedged on answering with vague ‘Oh, I’ve read the new testament’, ‘I skip bits but read my favourites’, ‘I tried to read it, but I skipped to the end and it ruined it for me’.

Stealing her words as I wanted to steal her sassy Dominican ways.

No matter how much I grapple with the bible, for many different reasons (I think gay marriage is a great idea, I work on Sundays, it’s REALLY LONG), I just need to suck it up and get into it. Not just to say I’ve read it; but to finally, finally, be changed; to learn to lean on and love God’s word, even when it’s tricksy.

Sorry. That last bit was hammy. But there that is.

Finally (finally), what’s happened to Nathan Fillion? He’s gone from this:

To this:

In summary, gonna read the bible, gonna blog about it sometimes. So I guess I lied when I said this was probably only gonna be a cannonballa blog. Darn.

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Whoops.

It’s been awhile, I have been reading, I swear. I just keep picking up books and stopping and restarting. I’m reading World War Z, and it’s great, but I haven’t had the best week so I went back to my happy place – chick lit. I know, I know. It’s the guiltiest of pleasures. I try to hide my Marian Keyes behind my other, better books (who am I kidding, better books?) but y’know, I guess I’m out and proud as a chick lit reader.

Yeah. Anyway, book #3 in the cannonball was pretty fantab.
After the disappointment of this, I found myself wanting something just a tad more cerebral. I’d had about all the ‘satire’ I could take. I don’t know if you could call Gillian Flynn’s ‘Dark Places’ cerebral, but it certainly kept my brain switched on for its 345 pages. This is roughly the 345th time I’ve sat down to write my review, but I intend it to be the last.

Gillian Flynn sets you up to expect the worst throughout her second novel, Dark Places. Considering the depths main character Libby Day sinks to (at least in her thoughts), it’s clear Flynn is an author not afraid to go there. At least, until the end, which is awesome and yet somehow…not.

Libby Day’s mother and two older sisters were brutally murdered when she was seven years old. Her brother, Ben, is in prison for the murders. But when an adult Libby hooks up with a group calling themselves the Kill Club, she finds herself mired in a murky world, where strangers hold court on her history. They do their best to convince Libby that what she remembers is not what happened at all – and Libby, despite herself, begins to doubt. Throughout Libby’s current story are flashbacks from the past, in the voices of her dead mother and imprisoned brother; it’s in these that the story of what went on at the Day farm becomes clearer.

Flynn weaves an interesting mystery – the story is all twisty, as you would expect for a book of this ilk, and even single character seems to have an agenda, including Libby herself. For her, it’s mainly money: how she can get it and live off it without having to work. While she understandably is deeply changed by the murders, some of her reactions reveal a black persona. It’s right there in the book’s opening line: “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.” Libby desires money and nothing else, until she finds herself drawn into the Kill Club’s theories and goes on a chase for the truth. The story hits its stride here. Uncomfortable as it was, with hints of paedophilia and satanism, it’s never less than engrossing – take Libby’s meeting with female fans of Ben. It’s a perfectly-written segment, conveying some of the bug-eyed craziness of serial-killer fans; but it also manages to show there may be some method to their madness. Of course, they also tell Libby they ‘forgive you for your part in this fiasco’ while blaming Ben’s imprisonment on her – balancing out any sanity they try to present.

It’s an enjoyable tale for sure; particularly with brother Ben and mother Patty’s last-day stories mixed in – but at the same time the narrative begins to suffer a little, as Flynn starts to tie them up just a touch too neatly. It’s a small complaint for a really good read, and if you like books were everything is wrapped up neatly in a bow, then Dark Places will do it for you.

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Number two.

Libba Bray wants to make you laugh. Desperately. Her need to have you guffawing your way through ‘Beauty Queens’ is clear in every footnote, every ‘commercial break’, every 2D character who says something like ‘I thought Catapult was a spring break city in Mexico.’. But! She also wants to make you think! Gosh, have you ever actually thought about just how much it sucks to be a girl? You haven’t?! Fabulous. Here’s 390 pages of ‘feminist’ ‘rhetoric’. When you’re done, you’ll surely realise the errors of all your ways, but also the errors of everyone else’s – the media. Your parents. The government. Those hot pirate guys.

I really wanted to like ‘Beauty Queens’, with its interesting sounding concept: Miss Teen Dream is a beauty pageant run by the ubiquitous Corporation. A plane full of Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant contestants crashes on an island. They now need to work out how they’re going to survive and how they’re going to get out – all while remaining in pageant mode. The island itself is a Lost wannabe, with secrets and Others and weird animals galore. The surviving group of beauty queens divide themselves into two teams: the Sparkle Ponies and the Lost Girls. Miss Texas shows her steely side and takes on the role of team captain. Miss New Hampshire is snippy. Miss California is Indian. And Miss New Mexico has a tray lodged in her forehead. That all counts as character development here.

It’s unfortunate that an idea with good potential has had the life squeezed out of it by an author who is simply trying too hard. The footnotes, explanations of cultural references, are cute at first, but quickly become an intrusion –  likewise, the ad breaks and ‘classified document’ style chapters. By the time the pirate guys crash on the island (just enough for one boy per girl!) you’re groaning, when one of said pirates films himself having sex with one of the girls you want to throw the book at the wall. These aren’t spoilers, by the way. You’ll see it all coming a mile away. Bray also writes in characters that suddenly disappear for a few chapters, only to reappear later as if they’ve actually been there all along – think of it as Glee in book form, where there are just a bazillion ideas, stereotypical characters and storylines mushed together and called satire.

Now, I’m not sure if my disappointment here is because I’m not the intended audience. It’s entirely possible that the young adults Bray is writing for will or do love this book to bits; but I’m not going to be foisting it on the teenage girls I know saying ‘here! This book is feminist! It will make you feel good to be a girl when everyone else wants to make you feel bad!’ because it’s quite likely that it will still make you feel bad.

Finally, Libba Bray herself seems insufferable. Check out her interview with…herself.

I can’t.

I just can’t. 

Really? Really? Although, this is not yet confirmed or a done deal. This same website claims that Amanda Seyfried has been offered the role of Cosette, which at least seems more likely than this hot mess of a casting.


I can only assume this is the face she made if this offer is legit, but I think history is on my side here. If this is in fact real talk, then Swift has beat Lea Michele, Evan Rachel Wood, and Scarlett Johansson (at least) to the punch.

After performing a fast google search, this story is popping up everywhere. Well, Lea Michele will have access to your personal address, Taylor. Now might be the time to look into your home security, ’cause girl will eat your face right off for getting in her way.

 

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Basically, Goodreads is 4chan for readers. ?!!

http://bookphilia.tumblr.com/post/15231500785/goodreads-reviewers-attacked-by-authors

I’m a new user to Goodreads, but one of the main ways I decide whether or not to add a book to my ‘to read’ shelf is by reading the reviews left by other users. The post above gives a little detail about some authors ‘attacking’ these reviewers…when they’re negative.

I don’t feel like I got the whole picture from the post,  but from what I can glean, it’s disgusting. It’s also made me think a little bit about my own reviews. My previous post was about Isaac Marion’s “Warm Bodies”, which I loved, but now I’m thinking – was I slightly too effusive in my praise? I have some style-hangover from writing reviews for Penguin; I believed reviews just had to be positive and at no time could I write about the bad points in the books I was reading (which of course, they all had). So I worry that my Marion review was just a touch too cheesy and therefore dishonest, in a way.

Wahwahwah, in short, I will be watching myself carefully when I review my next book, “Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray.

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