Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Everything you always wanted to know about God (but were afraid to ask) by Eric Metaxas

With a couple of small exceptions, I found this to be a very readable & helpful book on basic Christian apologetics – in other words, a book that answers questions about what Christians believe & why. The author, Eric Metaxas, uses a dialogue format that is shot through with humorous asides & cultural references both new & old (he manages to quote Pink Floyd, reference Aretha Franklin, and even bag on Barney… and then quote major chunks of William Blake, the English poet.) An example:
Q: What happens when you die?
A: Well, it depends, but typically the lawn goes unmowed for a while, and the newspapers really pile up
This is not your typical apologetics book… which is a good thing.
I esp. like how he dealt with the questions about the difference between religion & Christianity. As well, I like that he doesn’t claim to have perfect answers for difficult questions like “Why does God allow suffering?” or “How does prayer work?” Instead of trying to cobble together something pithy & quotable that panders to the churchified crowd, he honestly presents ways those questions have been answered, admitting that the answers may not be satisfying to some.
I did mention at the beginning that I found a place or two where I didn’t agree with his arguments. I think his facts about the number of deaths from the Inquisition & Crusades are wrong – but he hasn’t sourced them where I can check them out. Still, I don’t think an error of 10x magnitude here undermines his basic argument, so it’s not that big a deal.

This book is not going to convince a militant nonbeliever that they’re wrong – actually, I don’t think any book can do that by itself. But I do think it could be very helpful for folks who are asking questions about faith… and for those who believe who’ve never worked through these kinds of issues

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Wow. I am so glad I got to read this fantastic book. So, the story goes like this – I’ve decided to begin reading Goodbye Days at about 10pm and I’ve planned on reading till 12pm as I had to get up early for my kids that I watch the next day. But oh boy, have I done something completely different. I have ended up reading till 2am and just COULD NOT STOP. I got so invested into these characters that I just couldn’t seem to let this book down. And so I read, and read and read until my eyes decided it was finally enough. The next day I had kids till about 5pm and all I could think of the whole day was this book.So while they were napping I was able to read a little been more. The writing is phenomenal, it sucks you into this tornado of feelings right away and just won’t let you go until you REALLY think about your whole life and things that you’ve done and that you’re still maybe regreting. At least that was the case with me.

It’s a difficult task to make readers love the characters who are not alive and who are a part of the main character’s past but Jeff did it astonishingly. I have loved every single member of the Sauce Crew and just kept wishing they were able to make even more memories together. Life sucks and we all get to know that truth at one point of our lives. But yet, we continue living and pushing forward even though we feel broken inside. Maybe we’ll never truly be fixed but I do admire us, humans, for even trying to move on and make the best out of the worst.

This novel will bring you tears, quiet laughs and characters that you can relate to. I have to mention the fantastic brother-sister relationship and parents who, unlike many other YA books, are a BIG part of this book and this story.

A List of Cages by: Robin Roe

A List of Cages is my first favorite book of 2017 so far. I've been hearing nothing but positive things about it, particularly from people in the BookTube community. I used to think that the praise was quite exaggerated, but now I understand why this book has garnered so much hype.

Essentially, A List of Cages is similar to Jennifer L. Armentrout's The Problem with Forever, in that it also explores the mechanics of foster care and its occasional, traumatic consequences. Furthermore, this book also features troubled characters who eventually find healing in each other's company. The protagonists, Adam and Julian, both have psychological problems. The former has ADHD, while the latter has a much more serious "illness" that is unraveled throughout the novel. Regardless of their four-year age gap, Adam and Julian are able to form a very platonic and meaningful friendship. As Julian's secrets are gradually brought to light, Adam becomes determined to protect him at all cost. That being said, A List of Cages is inevitably an emotional piece of literature.

Honestly, A List of Cages made me tearful so many times. I felt quite stupid because I kinda expected it to give me positive feels only because it was published by Disney, which is famous for its love for happy endings. Believe me when I say that this book trumps Colleen Hoover's It Ends with Us in the popular list of Cry Worthy Books. Not-so-sincere apologies to Lily Bloom and Ryle Kincaid. If Adam and Julian won't make you cry (or at least tearful), then you need to have a doctor heal your stone cold heart!

With that in mind, the best thing I liked about this book was its character-driven story. Given her background in psychology, I wasn't surprised that Robin Rowe really did an effort to create such impactful and inspiring characters. As flawed as they were, Adam and Julian's personalities felt so authentic. And since the novel was written in dual perspectives, I loved getting to know them in a deeper and virtually personal way. Adam's chapters were fun and lighthearted, while Julian's chapters were generally morose and tear-jerking. This seesaw of alternating voices definitely messed with my emotions, thereby giving me a wonderful and memorable reading experience.

Overall, A List of Cages is YA contemporary fiction at its finest. It's a short novel that surprisingly has super substantial content. For the sake of objectivity, the only thing I did not like was its tendency to be shockingly graphic. I sincerely enjoyed this novel, and I would happily recommend it to all of my bookish friends. I just might reread it by listening to its audiobook version. 

Caraval by: Stephanie Garber

I'm not sure if I should call this one of my favorite books of 2016 or 2017, but it's definitely at the top of both lists! I can totally see why Fox already bought the movie rights!! The setting kind of feels like The Night Circus meets the first Pirates of the Caribbean with a bit of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus thrown in? The story is completely unique, though, and TOTALLY pulled me in. I'll write a more detailed review closer to 2017, but here's some general gushing for now: Every single element was so well done! The way the whole story unfolds as a sort of mystery + quest with a deadline makes it a million more addicting, but the characters, writing, and setting would have been incredibly strong on their own no matter what. There really isn't much I'd change about this book. Every time I had some complaint (like "do NOT try to make the abusive father sympathetic now") the story would just twist in a different direction that worked even better. I had a few complaints at first involving Scarlet's character and the men in her life, but then everything totally worked by the end! And by 80% I wasn't sure how on earth there would be a sequel but when I got to the epilogue I was like NO! OF COURSE! THIS IS BRILLIANT! NEXT BOOK PLEASE! So I was just constantly surprised the whole way through. The plot weaves all over the place and keeps throwing curveballs at you to the point where you don't know who or WHAT to trust anymore. I thought I called some plot twists at the beginning, but was completely off. This is one of those rare books you wish you could forget and then go back to read all over again for the first time because figuring everything out is an adventure on its own. I also loved how the relationship between the two sisters was the strongest relationship in the story. I mean, there is romance, but it's not the central focus. And I liked that this is a complete story by itself, but then the epilogue has a cliffhanger that leads into a sequel that's already perfectly set up! Stephanie Garber is an incredibly talented author and this is a book that pretty much any age will love!!