Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Single-Word Titles

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is “Books With Single-Word Titles.” I thought this would be really easy, and then I looked through my list of books on Goodreads and realized…it’s not so easy. At least, not for me with the amount of books on my Read and Want to Read shelves, which I generally want to stick to for these weekly posts. And because it is a Top Ten list, after all, I didn’t want to include any books I didn’t really enjoy. Below is what I came up with, which includes 8 books I’ve read and 2 that I haven’t, but have a very good feeling I will like more than the average books I read. For once, my list is ordered 10 to 1, with #1 being my favorite of all the books on the list.

10. Redshirts by John Scalzi
Between enjoying the 2 books of Scalzi’s that I’ve read so far and being a Star Trek fan, not to mention my husband’s recommendation, I expect to really like this book too.

9. Unoffendable by Brant Hansen
I read Brant’s second book before reading this, his first, and have plans to get to it soon. His second book (Blessed Are the Misfits) is great, so I have high hopes for this one.

Pithea cover, Kindle

8. Pithea by Kristi Drillien
Bridging the gap between the books on the list that I haven’t read and those that I have is my own book (which, of course, I have read).  (See more about this book here.)

7. The Battlemage by Taran Matharu
I sort of cheated with the “The,” but ran out of books and wanted to fill out the final spot. This is the third book in a trilogy that that I really liked, and my favorite of the 3.  (See my review for this book here.)

6. Sneak by Evan Angler
This is book 2 in the Swipe series, which contains 4 books with 1-word titles. I’ve only read 2 of them so far. (See my review of this book here.)

5. Holes by Louis Sachar
Great book, great movie. If you haven’t read or seen this, you really should! (See my review of this book here.)

4. Thr3e by Ted Dekker
Great book, not such a great movie. I definitely recommend the book, though. (See my review of this book here.)

3. Priceless by Joel & Luke Smallbone
This book has a subtitle, but I’m ignoring that for this list. Actually, the 2nd book on the list has a subtitle too…oh well. (See my review of this book here.)

2. Obsessed by Ted Dekker
I tried to not include any 2 books by the same author, but oh well. I have not read this book for many years, but I read it a few times in my early adult days. I remember loving it, but plan to re-read it soon to see if it holds up.

1. Illusion by Frank E. Peretti
A new favorite of mine by my favorite author.  (See my review of this book here.)

What are your favorite books with single-word titles? If you also posted a TTT, share your link so I can check it out!

Top Ten Tuesday: Side Characters I Love

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is a freebie about love. I was going to skip this week, but then I hit on an idea. For my list this week, I’m listing 10 side/minor characters in novels that I loved. It’s easy to list main characters that I like, especially in books that I rated high. But something I always find fascinating is when I like a side character at least much as I like the main character(s). Even if the book ends up being one that I don’t love, I’ll always feel connected to that character. Here is my list in no particular order, because I couldn’t quite order them:

1. Levi Cobb from The Oath by Frank E. Peretti
He’s the town crackpot…talks to inanimate objects, preaches at everyone who comes to his garage, and talks about dragons. But really, he knows a lot more than people realize and is the only one in town with any real sense. And then he saves the day! (See my review for this book here.)

2. Dale of Priceless by Joel & Luke Smallbone
With his own troubled past to fuel him, Dale prods the main character to do the right thing. I don’t know if I would have loved Dale as much as I do if I hadn’t seen the movie before reading the book, as he was very well-portrayed by David Koechner. But even if that’s the reason, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s my favorite character in the book. (See my review for this book here.)

3. Matthew Cuthbert of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne herself is a lovable character, but I really identified with her adoptive…father? Uncle? To be honest, I’m not real clear on how that whole thing worked. But this older gentleman is shyer than me, and that’s truly saying something. Yet, to watch how he fell in love with this little girl I really think I think was a huge part of what made me fall in love with the book.  (See my review for this book here.)

4. Walagash of The End of the Magi by Patrick W. Carr
The way Walagash treated Myrad, the MC, in a culture where people took care of their own and didn’t have much love for strangers, endeared him to me early on in this book. And as the story went on, he became like a father to Myrad, and I loved him more and more. (See my review for this book here.)

5 & 6. Berdon Wulf and Arcturus of The Summoner Trilogy by Taran Matharu
I tried to decide between these two, but I gave up and decided to include them both. Berdon is the MC’s adoptive father and provides much-needed strength and stability throughout the trilogy, when he can anyway. Maybe it’s because he’s a blacksmith like my own dad, or maybe it’s because the MC’s dad in my own book is also a blacksmith, but I really liked Berdon.

Arcturus is the kind and fair mentor who takes Fletcher, who is brand new to this magical world, under his wing somewhat. Even more, there’s a question about a familial connection that I won’t say any more about, because it ventures into spoiler territory. There’s a reason that the prequel to the series focuses on Arcturus, and I’m looking forward to reading it. (See my review for the first book in the trilogy here.)

7. Dr. John Francis of Thr3e by Ted Dekker
Dr. Francis was a professor (I think of theology), and the book starts with him and Kevin (the MC) discussing the nature of evil in man. As the story unfolds and the FBI agent is trying to understand what on earth is happening to/with Kevin, the professor helps her work through some questions. And he ended up playing a huge role in the climax that I really loved, which made it all the worse that the professor had no part in the climax in the movie version. (See my review of this book here.)

8. Arthur Weasley of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
I just finished reading this, so it’s fresh in my mind. While the HP books have a lot of interesting and lovable side characters, I found myself mentally cheering for the Weasley patriarch when he was so appalled by the way the Dursleys treated Harry near the beginning of the book. While the reader (and Harry) may accept their terrible behavior (because what else can we do about it?), Arthur gets to say to them what we wish we could.

9. Zander Cruz of Stealthy Steps by Vikki Kestell
Christians in fiction (in any medium) are often represented as overly preachy or as more depraved than the non-Christians. This associate pastor was a realistic example of Christians–he loved God and loved people, had a difficult past, and still struggled with his sinful nature as a pastor. Sadly, his status as my favorite character in the book slipped in the 2nd installment of the series, but I’m hoping to see him re-instated in the last 2 books. (See my review of this book here.)

 

Pithea cover, Kindle

10. Jonathan of Pithea by Kristi Drillien
I ran out of ideas after 9, so I decided to include one from my own book. Yes, I like all of my characters because I created them. But contrary to what some might think, I do have favorites. Jonathan is one of them. He becomes a good friend to the MC when she needs one most and is not afraid to call her out when she does something stupid. (See more about this book here.)

What side characters did you fall in love with? Link your own TTT post in the comments so I can see what you did with this week’s freebie!

Top Ten Tuesday: Titles with Numbers

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic this week was “Book Titles with Numbers in Them.” While of course, it would be easy to just randomly find 10 books with numbers, it makes more sense to me to choose books I’ve read or that I’m planning to read. And for a little added challenge, I tried to find titles with the numbers 1-10.

So without further ado:

1. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I have not read this YA thriller that has been on my TBR list for about a month and a half, but I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

2. Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh

This sci-fi book is also on my TBR list, and is one of the first I added based on the recommendation of another book blogger.

 

 

3. Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

I first read this book in high school, for my English class. It was on a list of books that were deemed “new classics,” and could be read in place of an older classic. I was especially fascinated by the Holocaust in high school, and hadn’t cared for most of the classics I’d read so far, so I jumped on it. Later, I read the first book as well. They contain not only a true account of the author’s father surviving Hitler’s Europe, but also show how he and his family cope in the aftermath, years later. It is depressing, but also enlightening and encouraging.

4. Thr3e by Ted Dekker

This Christian thriller has long been one of my favorite books, even after a recent re-read. Click here to see my review.

 

 

 

5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


This is one classic I read in high school that I did enjoy. I plan to read it again someday. (This book has both a 4 and a 5 in it, which is why I put 2 books related to the number 2 on the list.)

 


6. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I don’t actually have this book on my TBR list, but it’s on a back-up list of books I want to revisit in the future. I’m not quite sold enough to start this fantasy series soon, but may choose to add it to my list in the future.

 

 

7. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

This was the second book I read when I started making reading a regular hobby again back in July. I enjoyed it, and recommend it to fans of mystery and thriller books. Click here to see my review.

 

 

8. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

I have Little Women on my TBR list, and if I enjoy that (which I suspect I will), I will likely end up adding this to read as well.

 

 


9. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

This fantasy novel first came onto my radar last Tuesday, when it was on the Top Ten Tuesday list of many people. I eventually decided to check it out, and then added it to my TBR list.

 

 

10. Ten by Gretchen McNeil

This YA mystery is on my TBR list only because of this week’s TTT. In figuring out what books I wanted to use, I searched for books with the word “ten” in the title, and found this one. Though some of the negative reviews give me pause, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

 

Have you read any of these? What would you add to the list?

Book Review: August Review

In my second month of reading with more intention, I picked up the pace at first, and then seemed to slow back down at the end of the month. Now that school has started (I homeschool), it remains to be seen how much time I have to read, but I will definitely make as much time for it as I can.

Here are the books I read in August:
The Curious Conspiracy on Gamma Ceti by Nemo West (2.5 / 5)
Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker (1.5 / 5)
Thr3e by Ted Dekker (4.5 / 5)
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (4 / 5)
Tilly by Frank E. Peretti (3.5 / 5)
Lock In by John Scalzi (4.5 / 5)
#NotReadyToDie by Cate Carlyle (2.5 / 5)
The Inquisition
by Taran Matharu (4 / 5)
Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card (2.5 / 5) (review pending)
Illusion by Frank E. Peretti (5 / 5) (review pending)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (review & rating pending)

This list includes 5 ARCs, my first ever, and 1 re-read. My favorite book from August was Illusion. The rest of reviews from last month will go up in the next week and a half. My ever-changing list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads, if anyone is interested in that. (Note: The list of books I have read overall is not remotely complete there. When I created my Goodreads page 4 years ago, I added some of my favorite books over the years, but to add everything I’ve ever read would be very time-consuming, not to mention impossible to remember it all.)

Despite my almost too-long list of TBRs, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book vs. Movie: Thr3e

3 movie vs book

This movie originally came out in 2006. I watched it in the theater, but I don’t actually remember much about it. I’ve had the DVD for years, and only re-watched it recently after re-reading the book for the first time in over 10 years. It was…not great, unfortunately. Part of that is the curse of most faith-based movies, where the production quality isn’t what we normally look for. For example, even though several of the actors I’ve seen in other things (like Marc Blucas), and they were perfectly fine in those other things, most of the acting seemed stiff.

Past that, I had some notes about things that were different from the book that I felt detracted from the story, one that I liked in the movie, and one that was mostly neutral. Fair warning, the rest of this post will be full of spoilers!

Continue reading

Book Review: Thr3e

Thr3e
by Ted Dekker

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Christian suspense

Thr3e

Equal parts thriller and philosophical, this book starts with a discussion about the nature of man and by the end of the first chapter, has the main character nearly blown up. Kevin is tormented by a man who demands he confess his sin or his attacks will only get worse. Aided by a caring FBI agent whose brother was killed in a similar fashion only a few months previous and Kevin’s best friend since childhood, he struggles to understand what the madman wants from him. All of this leads up to an unexpected confrontation that I did not see coming.

The book is billed as a thriller, but I think where it tends to trip some people up is that it’s also very philosophical. Unlike Peretti, whom many people compare Dekker to, I don’t know that I’d classify Ted Dekker as a Christian author exactly. The books of his that I have read contain religion or spirituality, but not exactly Christianity. There is a fairly strong moral message in this book, though, and it can slow down the action. It doesn’t bother me much, but it might others.

I first read this book in the early 2000s. I’ve considered it one of my favorite books ever since then, but unlike my long-time favorite book, I have never re-read this one before now. It has the type of ending that led me to think that it wouldn’t really be worth re-reading. Now that it’s 15ish years later and I find myself enjoying books again, I decided it was time. I did enjoy it this time through, but not quite as much as the first time, because of the knowledge I had. However, knowing the Big Twist, I was able to see the build-up to it, spot the signs and hints. I appreciated the way that Dekker spun the story.

I did still enjoy the book, particularly the characterization of the main character, Kevin, and his childhood. That was one big thing I didn’t quite remember from when I first read it–the book hinted at him having a more difficult childhood than what was even shown up front, but I couldn’t remember what it was. I enjoyed unraveling the story again, even though I knew what it was leading up to. I also very much enjoyed Kevin’s relationship with his professor, and the role the professor played in the latter part of the book.

One gripe that I have is in the symbolism regarding the Big Twist. To use an example, when watching Sixth Sense for the first time, you may not even know that the color red is always involved in the Big Twist (not spoiling, though by now, if you don’t know the twist in that movie, where have you been living?) throughout the movie unless you are told about it by someone else. It’s there, but it’s subtle. In this book, the number 3 is a huge part of the bad guy’s psyche, and it’s not even remotely subtle. The bad guy himself says how much he likes the number 3 more than once. I think I would have liked to see it as a more subtle element.

I would recommend this book for fans of Christian thrillers and philosophy.

Find out more about Ted Dekker and Thr3e

This book was made into a movie that came out in 2006. I watched it in the theater, but I don’t actually remember much about it (except that the main character was played by Marc Blucas).  I remember having a terrible migraine, so I don’t think my forgetfulness is completely indicative of how good the movie was. However, I also never felt the need to watch it again in all this time, and that’s considering I’ve had a DVD copy for years. I do plan to watch the movie now though, and will likely post about the comparison like I did with Ready Player One.

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: Light from Distant Stars

Light from Distant Stars
by Shawn Smucker

My rating: 1.5 / 5
Genre: Christian drama

ARC2

The book opens on the main character, Cohen, finding his father dead in the basement of the funeral home where Cohen works with his father. In the ensuing difficulties that come from such an event, Cohen finds himself beset with memories of his childhood and adolescent, split definitively by an event that basically destroyed his family. The story highlights multiple father-son relationships.

As you can see by my rating, I did not care for this book. For one thing, I was expecting more of an investigation into how the father died than was presented, especially considering that most  summaries I read ended with, “Did he kill his father?” As it turns out, it was more introspection and reminiscing.

Even as I started to realize that this book was more drama than mystery, it still presented me with little of interest. There are two threads followed–Cohen in present time dealing with what happened to his father (Spoiler: he wasn’t even dead at the very beginning of the book; he was near death, but was in the hospital for a week before dying, and the reason that Cohen thought his father was dead when he wasn’t is never explained, even though he questions it himself. This leads me to feel like this was just sensationalism for the blurb.) and his memories of significant events of his past. The present-time storyline is fairly uneventful, filled with light conversations with his pregnant sister, confessions to a retired priest, and then sudden action near the end of the book that I didn’t really understand the point of. The past-time storyline has a lot more going on, though it drags a bit here and there too.

There are 2 more significant events in his past, one of which led to the split that broke up his family, and the other of which comes across as a supernatural element, which is maybe a bit confusing in this book. After some time, I came to suspect what was really going on, and turned out to be correct. However, it is severely lacking in explanation–not about how this supernatural memory came to be, but about how it actually made sense even in context. The extra half a point in my rating is because this story arc was at least a little interesting to me as I went through it, even though I figured out what was going on more quickly than I think I was meant to.

Building from that, because of the supernatural element, as well as a particular scene in the present-day storyline, I had a very difficult time knowing what was real later in the book, and I am not sure that was meant to be the case. It led me to be fairly unimpressed by the sort-of twisty action scene that happened near the end. Also, there was one huge plot thread just left hanging…something that happened during Cohen’s adolescence that came to light near the end that should have had repercussions, and instead, somehow just became a catalyst for Cohen’s realization (or reminder) that his father was not quite how he’d always seen him.

I wanted to like this book (which I suppose is a silly statement, because we don’t often start reading a book that we’re not wanting to like). I read a couple of reviews by others that were glowing, and the premise sounded interesting. However, by the time I was 75% through, I felt like nothing had happened, and I just wasn’t getting the point of it. There is also quite a bit of description and figurative language, which bogged down the story for me. By the last half of the book, I had started to skim the descriptions, especially every time the narrator, whether a child, teenager, or adult, stared at the sky or the city. This happened often. It let me to wonder if there was some sort of symbolism I was simply missing.

Final thoughts: The book is labeled as Christian, though if I’d not seen that label on it, I never would have guessed it was meant to be Christian. The main character does visit a church and confess several times through the book, and there is a bit of a heart change near the end, but to me, it was fairly shallow. This book is simply not my taste, but for those who enjoy descriptive and figurative writing styles and drama and introspection, it may be a great read for you.

Thank you to Netgalley and Revell for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Find out more about Light from Distant Stars

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!