Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Surprised By Oxford

Summary from Thomas Nelson:  Surprised by Oxford is the memoir of a skeptical agnostic who comes to a dynamic personal faith in God during graduate studies in literature at Oxford University.

Carolyn Weber arrives at Oxford a feminist from a loving but broken family, suspicious of men and intellectually hostile to all things religious. As she grapples with her God-shaped void alongside the friends, classmates, and professors she meets, she tackles big questions in search of Truth, love, and a life that matters.

From issues of fatherhood, feminism, doubt, doctrine, and love, Weber explores the intricacies of coming to faith with an aching honesty and insight echoing that of the poets and writers she studied. Rich with illustration and literary references, Surprised by Oxford is at once gritty and lyrical; both humorous and spiritually perceptive. This savvy, credible account of Christian conversion and its after-effects follows the calendar year and events of the school year as it entertains, informs, and promises to engage even the most skeptical and unlikely reader.

My reaction to the book:  This is an incredible account of an Agnostic (at best) and her discovery of the Holy Trinity at the most unusual of places: Oxford.  Being a very liberal university, one would not suspect this setting as the place where such a turnaround would occur.  Many believers come out of college more doubtful and more skeptical, thanks to their well-rounded education.  Carolyn Weber studies some of the greatest minds in history, and in doing so, discovers a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.  Her story reminds me much of the conversion of C.S. Lewis, himself a nonbeliever and thinker for many years before coming to know Christ through his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien.  This book is a fabulous memoir in and of itself, as well as a powerful and, yes, surprising, conversion story.  Believers will rejoice in the honest words written here, and I daresay Agnostics and Atheists may even understand and respect her journey to finding God.  Highly recommended.

Legal Disclaimer:  I received a review copy of this book through Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze program.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wow. It has been over a year...

... In four words, I HAD A BABY.  Wheeeeee!!!  My reading didn't go by the wayside, but my blogging did.  Sorry, folks!  Back in the saddle nogw.  Just a quick word to say look for book reviews to begin again soon, as well as updates about my knitting!  I am going for at least two sweaters this year.  I will post updates with pictures to keep track of my progress (for me), and for you to see how I am doing!

Hope everyone had a very Happy Holidays, and I look forward to you joining me in this new year as I begin to book blog (with a little knit blogging) again!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: Worlds Collide

Summary from Waterbrook Multnomah:  Some Decisions Change Your Day. Some Will Change Your Life.

While the headlines screamed “Hollywood Heartthrob Marries Girl Next Door,” the public relationship of Jack Harrington and Grace Winslowe never revealed the private struggles that threatened to pull them apart–and when celebrity biographer Jada Eastman starts digging, she discovers that there’s more to this couple than anyone could guess.

Their relationship began like a scene from one of Jack’s movies. Leaving behind a dead-end relationship and the bitter Chicago winter, Grace had moved to Southern California to start a new life. Meanwhile, Jack had established himself as an up-and-comer with considerable acting talent, and a private heartache. When a fateful accident pulled the two of them together, they couldn’t avoid their initial attraction or the vast differences in their values and lifestyles.

Now, against the backdrop of Beverly Hills and the 24/7 nature of the entertainment world, Jada grapples with her own beliefs as she encounters the spiritual chasm of this famous couple. Can Grace and Jack face the consequences of their own personal histories–and can the biographer avoid being affected? As the three of them examine the couple’s bittersweet story, it becomes clear that everyday decisions can carry lifetime consequences when individual worlds collide.

My reaction to the book: Wow, did this book blow me away!  As a lifelong film lover, I adore any books that take place behind the scenes of television and movies.  This book does not disappoint.  Written by Alison Strobel, daugther of Christian Apologist Lee Strobel, Worlds Collide brings readers face to face not only with the realities of Hollywood, but also the realities of marriage.  Being one who has a "history", just like everyone else, I could relate to the couple in this book.  I rejoiced along with the characters and choked up with them as well.  God's truth of forgiveness and newness is sung throughout this book, however.  Through this fictional tale, the reader is able to firmly grasp God's healing powers, if they will allow themselves to do so.  It's clear Alison has picked up some pointers from her father.  This story is gripping, well fleshed out, and Biblically sound.  Pick up this book.  You won't be disappointed.

Legal Necessities:  I received a free copy of this book through Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blogaversary alert! Prizes, prizes, prizes!

Head on over to LaVigne's Blog to sign up for his Blogaversary giveaway!  He will be giving away lots of books and special prizes!  He will also host a Facebook party on September 22 from 7-8 pm EST!  He would LOVE to have all of you join him, so head there now to get in on all the fun!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Blogger Hop 8/26-8/29

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question on Crazy For Books:

“Non-book-related this week!! Do you have pets?”

No, I don't!  I will tell you about the pets I used to have, and why I don't have any right now.  When I was really little, I had a black cocker spaniel named Midnight.  He ran around in the backyard, I played with him, and he freaked out my mom's piano students.  My parents sold him because he freaked out my mom's piano students, and he whined at night, too.  Then we had cats.  Some of them were hit by cars, and two brought fleas into the house.  Plus we found out my dad was allergic to some of the cats, so no more cats.  Good thing, because I developed an allergy to some cat danders later in life.  Then we had rabbits.  I looooved my rabbits!  Okay, one was my sister's, but I played with them and fed them.  They were not allowed inside.  One died, and the other we left with a neighbor when we moved.  I still would love another rabbit, but I would want it to be indoors.  Rabbits are actually very clean.  Now that I am married, and am in complete control over whether or not I could have pets, I still can't.  Being a tenant, my lease clearly states "no pets".  Hmph.  I still hope one day I can have an indoor rabbit, or an indoor terrier of some sort.  Hubs likes Yorkies, I like Scotties and Boston terriers.  So we shall see.  Maybe I can have a lop-eared rabbit if I let him have a Yorkie!

Book Review: The Hunger Games

In this post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel, Suzanne Collins has created a world called Panem, located where the United States of America used to be.  In Panem, every district works to provide The Capitol with everything they need to run the country.  The Capitol holds absolute power, and to prove their power, they hold The Hunger Games every year.  One boy and one girl from each district in Panem are chosen to participate.  In The Hunger Games, the object is to fight to the death - the last one standing is the Victor.  The Hunger Games are required viewing for the citizens of Panem, and they're also a required celebration.  By holding The Hunger Games, The Capitol proves that absolutely no one is outside of their reach, not even the children.  

I was captivated by this world so far from my own within the first few pages of this novel.  I was drawn into the struggle to survive, not just by those participating in The Hunger Games, but also everyone else in the district who lives to make the lives of those in The Capitol pleasant.  Suzanne Collins paints a very vivid picture of a dystopian, police state society, arguably more real than Orwell's 1984.  I clearly envisioned everything that happens within these pages as I read along, and found myself cheering for more than one participant in The Hunger Games.  These characters are very well developed, with good character histories given, and their interactions with others make them even more well rounded.  The struggle between absolute power and humanity is so tangible in this story, it's hard to walk away from this book and not make comparisons to our own society.  We may not live in a police state, but I could draw some distinct parallels between the world of Panem and the United States today.  This frightens me.  It has been a long, long time since a book gave me chills, and this book kept my breathing shallow all the way through.  This world is so real, so intriguing, so terrifying - I could not put this book down.  I didn't want to.  I put it down to work, because I had to, and I put this book aside for a few minutes because I had to eat.  But only because I had to since, believe me, I really didn't want to.  And now I am aching to read the second book.  I guess the simplest way I can recommend this book lies in these words: It's called The Hunger Games not just because that's the name of the competition, but because you may actually not eat until you have finished this book because you can't put it down.  This is one of those books where you won't understand all the hype until you've read it.  Once you've finished,  I will be happy to tell you "I told you so."

Legal Necessities:  I borrowed this book from's lending program for the Kindle.

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

This weekly Meme is hosted by Sheila on BookJourney.

What I Read Last Week:

What I Am Reading This Week:

What I Will Read Next Week:
???Finishing up By Darkness Hid???

Here is my review for Hello, Hollywood!  I loved this book!  This week I am really enjoying Sleepy Valley by Tim Callahan.  I have started it today, and am already wishing I could visit Sleepy Valley.  I will finish this book tomorrow or Wednesday, and hopefully will start By Darkness Hid toward the end of the week.  It's a fairly large book, however, so that may overlap into next week. I am also looking forward to reading Worlds Collide, which I acquired through Waterbrook Multnomah's book blogging program.