Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rating System

I have given much reflection to the rating system of our books and have come to the conclusion that I will rate them on a scale from 0 to 7.  Drew has chosen the caffienated beverage rating system (it's first appearance in a blog of this kind), and that is fine with me, but I am not sure where perception and reality blur in this rating system, so I am setting out on my own path.  I figured 1 to 10 was a little too wide a range, 1 to 5 too narrow, and 0 to 7 just right.  After all, 7 is the number of completion. 
So here are my ratings on the previous books.  All future posts regarding specific books will have ratings attached (should I remember to do so).
1.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. I: 4
2.  Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt: 4
3.  Eyes to See, ed. Bret Lott: 1

Wow that last one was pretty harsh...


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not Worth the Look

I guess Drew and I were on the same track this week.  I, too, read a book I picked up while at Mardel in Texas.  A little background to the story of this book (Eyes to See, ed. by Brett Lott):  Mardel had this amazing after Christmas book sale, and I went a little wild.  I have never purchased so many books at the same time in my life...but they were such a good deal!  You might know the sale shopping maxim: If it is on clearance, there is a reason.  Well, my book this week was subject to this maxim. 
Further background to this book:  In my book searching, book buying, excited state, I was less than attentive to the description of this book and might have passed on it otherwise.

What I thought the book was: a non-fiction lit-crit type book that discussed the hidden messages/meanings of some of the great novelists who were of the faith.

What the book actually is:  a collection of short stories by famous authors (and some not so famous) who are "of the faith"; if the reader is also of the faith, he is supposed to see hidden spiritual meaning to the stories.

With that said, I sat down to read this one and enjoyed the introduction by the editor a great deal.  He promised stories of conflict, of faith, of worship.  I was excited! 

I was disappointed. There are 10 short stories in this collection and 3 of them were decent enough to recommend. As to the faith aspect, I think the editor stretched his imagination a little bit.  Standouts were "The Blue Cross,"  by G.K. Chesterton, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," by Flannery O'Connor, and "The Story of the Other Wise Man," by Henry Van Dyke.  I am trying to not view the less than enjoyable ones as introductions to these authors and will give them a try in a longer format someday.  I don't want to say I hated this book, but it was tedious to read and I did not look forward to visiting the subjects of most of the stories, however brief the visit.  However, in looking up the book to create a link, I discovered that Lott published a second volume.  It doesn't matter how good the deal is, I think I will pass.


Current Ratings

Since Leah said that we might want to do some ratings I figured I might just do a quick *update* post for the first three books of the year. Until I look into K's recommendation, I'll use some archaic method.

Robert Jordan: Fires of Heaven - 8 out of 10 Caffeinated Beverages (the last book before Jordan waxes tedium)

Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club - 5 out of 10 Actual Caffeinated Beverages / 7 out of 10 Perceived Caffeinated Beverages (I don't know how much I like Palahniuk but I'm already contemplating another one of his books - for a total of three in two years)

Frank E. Peretti: This Present Darkness - 6 out of 10 Caffeinated Beverages and one Go-Tab

It needs work as a rating system... maybe out of a 100 because I tend to be too nice. =\

This Present Book Read

Another week, and another blog post! So far we've been having fun starting up this experiment and will hopefully continue to enjoy it. We've been discussing what other books we're going to read over the next few weeks. I love fantasy books, but need to get some classics and maybe even some non-fiction to write about. I'm also down to reading two books, but I know what I am adding in as my third so I feel comfortable about reading. ;-) It's something that I got from my Mom. Dad reads one at a time.

This week I read Frank E. Peretti's novel This Present Darkness. It's Christian fiction. My parents got me the series back when I was in high school and I remember enjoying reading them at that age and thought it could be worth revisiting. Leah picked up the book series at Mardel's in Wichita Falls, TX during our Christmas vacation in preparation for our year in books. The story continues in Piercing the Darkness, but I'm going to wait to start that one up.

The storyline is about a small town in the middle of an intense spiritual battle. Peretti gives a glimpse at the unseen world that's happening all around us - one of angels and demons. I won't give much away, but it's part sci-fi, part mystery, part murder story. Most of the character development is interesting and gives a good cross section of small town happenings. You won't get any cussing and most situations aren't graphic for a young adult, or conservative older adult(which wouldn't be me since I read Fight Club last week). The progression was decent with very little slow down. The story did reach it's climax and conclusion relatively quick, but didn't feel too rushed.

Now, the one thing that I would complain or caution about is the doctrine that *might* come across from Peretti's book. In some ways, he's created a story that will reach more people, but isn't as Biblically accurate as he could be or needed to be. If you are a discerning Christian you'll be able to look past a few of these and understand where he's coming from. But, a newbie Christian or a non-Christian might see some of the demons/angels interaction and wonder about what's true and what's not. The biggest concern I could see is the naming of the demons as Rape, Anger, Jealousy, or Lies. It almost makes it appear that the demons are making the person sin. If one comes in believing that by the end of the book then why would we even need a Saviour? It's not our fault that we've been sinning, but the demons that have been possessing us! It's a slippery slope that young Christians AND long time Christians can fall into. So I caution that part of the book so that when I recommend this book you can be discerning about non-Biblical ideas. There are a couple small items as well, but that's the main gripe I have.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in getting something a little different. Peretti gives a book that's engaging from a story standpoint, but also gives you enough leeway to let your imagination wander on what else is happening all around us. He also gives the gospel message in a fiction book. Give it a chance and see what you think. (nothing witty or humorous to really say about this one)