Thursday, February 28, 2013

Halfway update

I felt the need to make a post since it has been some time and it is taking me longer to make it through the book than I anticipated. It is certainly something EVERY person should read. The author makes it accessible to all those who pursue it. I am not an active member of any of the Western religions due to the persecution between the identical philosophies. I do believe in God and the open interpretation to existence. I also believe in quantum mechanics, which has no space in the Western faith.

A History of God: The 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

This intellectual expose on the "major" religions of the West is a must read for every one. As the hatreds rise, people need to truly understand where their roots are. They need to experience history from every angle. This book should not be the source of all information, but added as yet another perspective on where the religions of the West developed. This wonderfully depicts how the religions evolved with the times and the needs of the people. It clearly depicts periods of enlightenment and periods of religious oppression. This tome also clearly explains that all three religions are not different. Their spiritual views and interpretations may be different, but they all evolved from the need to explain the existence of man, the globe, and the purpose of life. Every faith should read their religious tome, the tomes of the other religions around the world (including the polytheists of the East), and this book. You cannot claim that your faith is superior than any other. The imposition of faith on another just creates hatred and strife. It also forces unwieldy intellectual discourse to cover what clearly is not founded or evidenced. 

I have made it through the early chapters of infancy of each religion and what drove them to be created. I found these chapters fascinating with the details of polytheism making way to monotheism, maps of emigration and immigration, diversifying through assimilation, and the extreme similarities between the big three. The following chapters of the philosophers held me up for a couple of days. The rationalism kept putting me to sleep (I'm not always the most rational person), yet it provided an interesting depiction of how religion always adapts to the needs and culture of the people. Faith is not a finite concept.

Here is to the Mystics, Reformers, and Enlightenment!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Random series conclusion interruptioin

Hopefully I have not thrown you overboard with my unique reading pattern this month. I have been very unfocused in my reading. This book ended up being a complete interruption to the various book juggling I had mentioned two weeks ago. As I was packing up the non-essential items in preparation for our move, I dug out this forgotten gem. It had not yet been shelved since its unwrapping. 

Stargazer by Patrick Carman

While this book is certainly geared for the Middle Grade reader, it is poignant for all ages. You are never too old to learn new intricacies of life that can impact the person you are and the person you would like to be. I read the beginning of this fantastic series before the holidays in anticipation of receiving this novel for Christmas, so I will try to keep the review spoiler free for those who wish to start from the first, which I highly recommend.

This was a conclusion that happily wrapped up all the threads in a realistic fashion. There were no mighty swoops of fancy that make for an impossible conclusion. Everyone learned vital life lessons that can hold value to readers of any age. The poignancy of the ending really struck me. 

I did not read the "fourth" book in this series due to it being a prequel of sorts and I was rather impatient to learn the continuing adventures of Yipes and Alexa. So as I pressed forward with the real fourth installment, I don't feel I missed anything in the plot or timeline; however, there were enough allusions to the prequel story I may consider going back and reading it as well. 

Patrick Carman has an excellent way of reaching out to the reader and making them evaluate themselves along with the story. His day job certainly bleeds through his writing. It is an excellent adventure and a quick read. The introduction of new characters were charming if a little flat compared to more advanced reading material. The parting of familiar characters and remembrance of earlier heroes made my heartstrings twang. I found this book to be captivating at a time I was losing some of my momentum from my goal. I recommend this series to all readers especially those who have perhaps forgotten a little of themselves.

Here is to getting back to the spiritual enlightenment!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Short stories don't always equal fast reads

Especially when you are reading them in between the lull of another book. It does however increase the enjoyment and anticipation by dragging out the read.

At First Sight by Tammy Blackwell

As a companion piece to the Timber Wolves series, it was a great addition. I love when an author gives the perspective of other characters. Since the original story is told from first person point of view, it is nice to see the world from all the angles. There is so much more depth when an author provides these stories. Tammy Blackwell has created an entire authorverse without the lengthy drudgery akin to Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire (sorry for my blasphemy epic fantasy fans, but those books just really tend to exhaust me with their glory). She has managed to keep it light and entertaining while showing the layers of creativity invested in the lives of her characters. I truly appreciated this companion piece and look forward to more works from this author. She has cemented her name on my "check what has been published lately from insert author here" list.

Here is to spiritual enlightment!

Fell off the edge of the world

Or so it seems. Trying to read multiple books at once seems to make it impossible to finish any at all. But over the weekend I made a valiant effort to finish up all the pieces of what I had been reading. I also took the week to tidy up my unfinished project: cleaning the living space to minimize the crap and prepare for our move. Sold off some of the bulkier furniture I never wanted to move again. I will never own another couch. EVER! Note to visitors:  bring your own seating or be prepared to be cozy on a love seat. It felt nice to pare down and organize the clutter to manageable moving loads. The whole process seemed to jive very well with my reading material. Wonder which one inspired which?

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag by Creek Stewart

I think part of what made this a longer read is the activity that goes along with the reading. I pulled out my own survival gear and made comparisons and lists of what I should add or delete from my gear. I also involved my husband with the process and he had many arguments to the cause between the author's suggestions and his own Eagle Scout preference. That added several hours onto my usual pace. 

Overall, the book was very informative and helpful. To someone who is already fairly prepared for a quick "bug out" to the woods (and for much longer than 72 hours to get to some predetermined location), it was not a completely necessary read. It did provide valid conversation for the my husband and I to determine each of our levels of preparedness. Mine is substantially below par (but that just cemented my argument that is why I married an Eagle Scout to take care of me). This book would be fantastic for someone like myself but does not have a partner of extreme survival experience to tag along with them. There are excellent charts and lists of links where you can find all your major backpack needs. The author also provides helpful exercises to ensure that you are capable of pulling off such things as hiking more than a mile, starting a fire, drawing your own clean water, and building a shelter. The language is engaging and makes you want to be prepared. 

Here's to running away from the mainstream!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Preparation is all the battle

Still having a hard time really digging into any of my current reads to finish them. Here is a micro update on what I have been reading, and what it has taught me.

I hate preparing for anything! Even taking a short drive down the street can make me dig my heels in like a stubborn mule. I'm not sure where this derives from honestly. I'm sure a psychoanalyst could derive much meaning from it, but I'll pin it all on anxiety. I hate preparing. I would rather just jump right in and figure it all out as I go along. 

Unfortunately for me, this is one of the worst survival plans in the history of every creature that has had to survive. Oh, and I'm married to an Eagle Scout (who holds incredibly tightly to the mantra "always be prepared"). 

Reading books like How to Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag are helping me somewhat. Good news from what I have read so far: I am mostly in line with what I'm being told I need in terms of preparation. However, this is all remotely due to the hand me downs from my husband as he updated his own survival gear. My equipment probably needs to see its own sprucing and modernization. 

Second set of good news: I love to buy things. I am a gadget junky, but very rarely have actual use for such items; therefore, do not waste my hard earned cash on said gadgets. Now I get to legitimately go out and purchase a range of very cool gizmos in the name of scientific preservation. 

I think this is a book everyone should read through and test their preparedness. Even if you fly by the seat of your pants in life, this book is pertinent. Full review to come when I have completed it, but since I am reading in concurrently, that may take some time.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A lull between the reads

I'm not reading anything in particular right now. I need a small break from sitting all curled up with five-novels-in-a-row reading marathon. So, I have been reading some paragraphs here and there in some of the books lying about the house. 
  • A short story every now and again from Tammy Blackwell's At First Sight.
  • Some instructional preparation from How to Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag.
  • Some inspirational development from Stephen Knapp's Proof of Vedic Culture's Global Existence.
All of them are good books, but none of them is particularly holding my attention for long. I have a very bad habit of reading scholarly books all at one time. Maybe it is to keep my brain from being swamped or maybe to allow time to process the more academic side. Build up to an opinion of my own, so to speak. Either way, I enjoy all of them but can't seem to focus on any one for prolonged sit-downs.

Sometimes I just get in a funk of procrastination that keeps me from reading anything through to the end. Perhaps I should take this lull to tidy up some other projects. I feel guilty neglecting the others to read, and it might be throwing me off right now. I guess I haven't found that juggling perfection just yet.

Or, I just need a good recommendation on something that would capture my interest more than the academic pursuits. I'm all for expanding the mind and spirit, but I'm even more for a good book that escapes to a vast world of imagination.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fundamentally conclusive

Timeless by Gail Carriger

What a way to end the series! While this installation did not provide such head dashing moments as Heartless, it definitively earned it's title. I feel that I was able to predict the outcome of this book much easier than the previous novels, which was slightly disappointing after being so thrown from the scent in Heartless. A continuously fresh outlook to the story, that was pleasing with its consistency to the preternatural world, made it worth every sentence, though.

Gail Carriger provided just the right amount of chapters after the climaxing moment to neatly tidy the storyline and conclude the narrative without opening any new avenues. She certainly could continue the story onward
 since all characters are still highly present, but it would be able to be years down the line and completely independent of this wonderful five novel set. I was highly impressed with the succinct wrap up. These have made my re-read list, which I believe will age like a very fine wine.

Here's to picking up several different options to choose the next path!

Monday, February 4, 2013

When the unexpected dashes you upon the head

Heartless by Gail Carriger

Trying to make a complete review of this novel will be difficult. I have so many words for it and yet none of them are proper. The wit, the surprise, the freshness, all exceedingly wonderful. So apologies in advance for being short-winded from all the exertion and exurbance just uttering the brief exclamations in true Tunstell style.

What a comeback! Heartless completely revitalized the series. I was proceeding through the novel with increasing expectations for a make-up from Blameless when Alexia Maccon took her parasol straight to my head. I truly did not see the direction the plot was progressing. Very few authors can claim that honor. Now thinking over the original three, I can catch the subtle foreshadowing and building mystery. The allusive little shadows ducking down the alley just ahead of me have been caught and made sense of. Wonderful! So many characters being unexpected and undignified. Misplaced diaries. Giant octopus on the loose. Oh my!

As always, the new characters are vastly interesting in your love or hate for them. The metaphysical relation between all the supernatural of Ms. Carriger's steampunk universe has a fresh rendition to an overwhelmed fiction category.  This installment certainly makes the entire series worth the read!

Here is to the conclusion I never saw coming!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sometimes bumps in the carriage happen

When writing a series, authors typically have developments planned out ahead of time and a "big picture" of what the story needs to create. Then they have to go back and figure out how to get from Point A to B with the correct amount of foreshadowing. I am not a fan of the mystery genre due to the fact that very few authors are capable of foreshadowing. I do not want to know the answer by the second chapter. 

Blameless by Gail Carriger

The review here will be brief in honor of how I feel about the abruptness of this continuation of the series. Blameless has done a fantastic job of keeping me from seeing the big picture while still making me feel that there is something niggling the back of my mind about the importance of an occurrence. I almost notice the foreshadowing, but then it slips around the corner before I remember I'm following the trial.

However, the third installment in the Parasol Protectorate did fall short of being fantastic. It seems like it was stretched a bit too thin to cover that Point A to B aspect without having substantial meat for itself.  The toast really just wasn't suitably covered at this tea party. 

Perhaps it is the middle child syndrome of wanting all the attention then falling short from intimidation. There were still skyrocketing moments of bloomer indecency and entomological pursuit to keep me trundling through, though. Ms. Carriger introduced some very loved and very love-to-hate characters to keep the story tantalizing. Certainly not a failure, just proof why I do not set my mind that all sequels must be as ravishing as the first. It did, however, continue my high hopes for the series. 

Here's to continuing the parassault!