Books

I Missed Reading

I am FINALLY able to do a post about some books again! All through the pregnancy, I read…about babies. I read some other books, but honestly, I didn’t read much at all.

I was busy, yo. Lay off me. I had a kid to prepare for.

And then she was born via surgery. Between me recovering and becoming a mom, there was no time. I guess that’s not true. I did watch tv. But then I could do other stuff while it was in the background. Books require full attention.

But NOW. Now I have started to read again, and I am devouring the pages like a long awaited meal. I love to read. And it has been so long. Ooooh, I missed you, books.

So here’s what I read while I was pregnant:

Your Pregnancy Week by Week.

Written by doctors and full of helpful information. I highly recommend it if you’re pregnant.

But for non-pregnancy related reading, continue.

Peak by Roland Smith.

This is a young adult novel about a 14-year-old who gets caught climbing skyscrapers in New York and gets shipped off to Asia with his dad who is a professional climber. His dad has him go on an expedition to the peak of Everest.

It was a pretty good read, but not the best I’ve read. It really painted a picture of what it would be like there and what’s hard about the climb. Pretty interesting, and told in first person.

Divergent by Veronica Roth.

LOVED this book! If you like the Hunger Games, you will be just as happy with this! It is the first in a trilogy, and it’s so great.

It’s about a 16 year old girl, Beatrice, living in a future, dystopian Chicago. The whole city is divided into “factions,” with each faction based on a core value (bravery, selflessness, honesty, peacefulness, and intelligence).

When you turn 16, you have to choose which faction you will belong to for the rest of your life, and if it’s not the one you were raised in, you have to leave your family behind in order to join. No matter the faction, you must go through initiation to join.

Beatrice makes her choice, changes her name to “Tris” and begins initiation, a dangerous, difficult process. During the testing and initiation, she finds out that she is “Divergent,” because her brain works differently in simulations.

If the leaders find out, they’ll kill her. She has to survive initiation without standing out.

It’s a really great book! I feel like Tris goes through changes and grows in ways that are believable. It’s really interesting, and I couldn’t put it down.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth.

This is book two in the Divergent Trilogy.

As soon as I finished book one on my kindle, I bought book two and flew through it. I don’t want to say much about it because it will ruin the first book for you.

Just trust me. Go get them both. I can’t wait for the third book to come out (scheduled for fall 2013!). Thank you to Jennifer Smith for telling me about them!

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson.

Oh my goodness. If you are looking for a laugh-out-loud funny book, this is it.

I will preface it by saying it’s written by blogger, The Bloggess, and she holds nothing back in foul language and pretty much has no filter for topics.

A good test for whether or not you’ll like this book is this post she did about “Beyonce” the rooster. If you find yourself laughing while reading this, you will probably like the book. If you think it’s crude and inappropriate (which it is, but had me shaking with laughter), just skip it.

So that’s been on my reading list lately. What should I read next?

~Meghan

It’s About Friggin’ Time.

Unless you live under a rock, you are aware that The Hunger Games hit theaters last night at midnight. I read it for the first time back in January 2010, and I have been in love with the trilogy ever since.

The first time I ever reviewed the books on my blog, I commented that it would be an awesome movie. Exact words -> “This is one story I would LOVE to see turned into a movie. It would be an action/thriller for sure, and no worries, guys, it’s NOTHING like Twilight, and romance is not the driving factor.”

Hopefully the movie did the book justice. I know they had to tone down the violence or it would have been rated R instead of PG13. But my hopes are high, seeing as it has an 86% from Rotten Tomatoes, which is virtually unheard of for a movie based on a young adult book.

I’m willing to bet it has to do with the fact that Suzanne Collins, the author, was very strongly involved with the movie, helping write the screenplay and even listed as an executive producer.

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It’s about time this book was turned into a movie. The entire trilogy is superbly written with suspenseful action, strong characters, a societal critique you can’t miss, and so many themes worth discussing that it’s no wonder teachers across the nation have put it in their classrooms.

If you haven’t read the books, pick them up TODAY. They are great. I’ve been singing their praises for years.

I could hardly stand the wait for Mockingjay, the third in the trilogy, to arrive. When it did, I devoured it in one day. Though it was my least favorite of the three, I read all three books again and again.

I put them on my list of books to give for Christmas. And The Hunger Games even has a special spot in our living room- right up there with the Bible, Harry Potter, and Lord of The Rings.

So you’re telling me I get to extend my love affair with The Hunger Games via the movies? It’s about friggin’ time.

~Meghan

February Books

I started off this month with a book that is a favorite.

1. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.

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I don’t really know what to say about this book. Three scenarios come to mind: you’ve already read it (and so need no description), you are going to read it (and my synopsis would be a spoiler), or you are not interested in it for some reason (and so you don’t care to read a synopsis).

I think it’s my favorite of the Harry Potter series. I’ve read it so many times I’ve lost count, but I would wager a guess that this was about my 12th time through this particular book in the series. I love it.

2. The Pact by Jodi Picoult.

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I read My Sister’s Keeper last month, and I felt pretty sad afterwards. But for some reason, I couldn’t resist picking up The Pact. I had read the back cover when I was in Target a few weeks ago, and I was drawn to the story line. So I picked it up at Border’s near the Mall of Georgia on sale (hint: the store is going out of business, so go check it out!!).

Basically, here is my summary: next door neighbors, the Golds and the Hartes, are best friends. So when their kids start dating, everyone is pleased, albeit not very surprised. What does catch them off guard is when Chris ends up in the ICU and Emily in the morgue after what Chris claims was a botched attempt at a suicide pact.

The aftermath of this situation affects the two families deeply, and Chris is charged by the state with first degree murder. The story follows the aftershocks of a suicide that no one saw coming, and what it means to different people to find out things they never wanted to know about those whom they held most dear.

Just like the last Picoult book I picked up, I found this one interesting and sad. I think the reason I keep coming back to her stories is that she looks at things in her books that most people wonder about but never want to actually discuss: teen suicide, abortion, stem cell research, children with deadly diseases, gay rights, malpractice, mental handicaps, and more…and their affects on people on all sides of the issues they present.

Even though I have figured that I probably won’t get a happy ending with her, I also realize that I will most likely get a realistic one. Maybe I’m speaking too soon, as I’ve only read two of her books. But I find them oddly addicting, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself reading more of her works throughout the year.

And that is all I read in this short month. I have more books lined up for March, though. Can’t wait!

~Meghan

January 2011 Books

Christmas is always exciting for me because I can ask for books. I LOVE books. You can use them repeatedly, share them with others, and get through boring winter days with their stories.

In January, I read three books that I was given from my Christmas list and two books that I bought with a Target gift card.

1. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

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This story was made into a movie with Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin a few years ago, but I never saw it. I had heard it was great, though, so I thought I would read the book. It focuses on Anna, a 13-year-old who is suing her family to have medical emancipation because she is a genetic match for her sister, who has cancer. She is continually used for her sister’s treatments, and this story explores the delicate balance that is saving one child at the expense of the other. I really liked it, but I found it pretty sad.

2. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.

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I really enjoyed reading books from the young adult genre last year (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, etc.), so I blindly picked books from that genre for some of my reading. This was one of those books, and I really enjoyed it. They’re actually making a movie about it, and it’s due out very soon. This book is written to have a sequel, so it leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and I am looking forward to The Power of Six, the sequel.

This book follows a teenage boy from Lorien, a peaceful and somewhat magical planet that was taken over by a murderous race (Mogodorians) that deplete Lorien of its resources. All the people of Lorien were killed except for 9 children with special abilities, their keepers, and the pilot of their spaceship. Human in appearance, they come to earth and split up, but only after casting a charm that will make it impossible for their enemies to kill them unless they are killed in order or if they come back together. Each time one of them dies, a scar appears on the ankles of the others, so they know where they stand. Our hero is number four in line, and he has just received a third scar. That’s where the story begins.

It’s a fun read, and it’s hilarious reading about this boy who, though extraordinary in many ways, still thinks and acts much like most 15 year old boys. I laughed a bit, and I enjoyed the action involved in the story as well. There’s a bit of everything alien in this- Superman, X-files, etc.

3. The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers.

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This was an interesting one for me. The whole concept of sin eaters was something I had never heard of before. Apparently a long time ago in Scotland, there were people who served as the “sin eaters,” or scapegoats, for communities. Their role was to eat bread and drink wine placed over a dead body at its funeral in order to take those sins from the person and into themselves. They would do this for all who passed away until they, themselves, died. Then they would go to hell for everyone. At least, that was what they all thought would happen. This person was chosen by casting lots and then they were pretty much treated like they had the plague after they were deemed to be a sin eater. No one would even look at them.

Some people who came to America brought that tradition with them, and it eventually died out. The Last Sin Eater takes place in the 1800′s in a small mountain community in North America, where the Sin Eater tradition was still taking place. One little girl, Cadi, the heroine of the story, is curious about everything and starved for attention after the death of her little sister warps her family into a sad shadow of what it once was. She ends up trekking out on her own to visit others or to places she likes in the mountains during the daylight hours, and through her adventures she meets a missionary who leads her to Christ as well as meets the sin eater that she both pities and fears.

Her new faith causes her to see the way that her people are mislead in their thinking about sin and the afterlife, so she and a friend set out to change things- against some pretty high odds.

I continued to get distracted by the way that what the characters said was written as Rivers thought it would be pronounced by someone with a Scottish accent instead of as the word is truly spelled. The book could probably have done without that since everyone in the book (except the missionary) had the same accent.

Other than that, the book was okay. I like other works by Rivers more (The Mark of The Lion trilogy, for example).

4.Radiance by Alyson Noel.

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Radiance was another book that I picked up from the young adult section without knowing anything about it other than the price (cheap). It was alright, but I saw that it is in a set of books called The Immortals, so I wish I had gotten some of the others as well.

The main character, Riley, was introduced in the first book, which I haven’t read yet, called Evermore. (It’s about Riley’s sister, Ever.) I plan to pick that one up sometime.

Riley is about 12, and she’s both sassy and funny. She’s also pretty bullheaded and brave. The story starts with her death, and it’s all told from the perspective of her in heaven.

Radiance reminded me of The Lovely Bones in that it is told from the perspective of the dead person, and it’s also got a very humanistic view of heaven (aka not very Biblical). The characters never see God, feel the full range of negative emotions they felt on earth, are sarcastic, miss their life on earth, and they can make pretty much anything they want to happen or appear in heaven. So yeah. Pretty secular.

But if you can get past that, it’s still a pretty entertaining book. Riley is assigned a job in heaven (as all spirits are, in this story), and hers is to convince reluctant souls lingering on earth to cross over. She befriends a teenage soul that is her teacher, and she meets some interesting souls along the way. Her dog is with her for these adventures too (he died when she did).

5. Hero by Mike Lupica.

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I was pretty excited about this book. Although it was another blind pick-up from the young adult section, I thought it looked fun. It’s all about a 14-year-old boy named Zach whose dad works for the government and is killed by bad guys. These same people want Zach alive so that they can turn him to their side. Unbeknownst to Zach, he and his dad shared some pretty supernatural abilities. After his dad’s death, Zach begins to realize something is different about himself, and as his powers grow, he meets various people that confirm that his dad was murdered and that he is, at 14, about to be thrust into his dad’s role as a hero protecting the US. He just has to decide who to trust.

It sounded like a fun read.

It was not.

Not only did Lupica try way too hard to sound like he was hip and “with it” for 14-year-old-speak (the kid would say he was “amped” or call the bad guys “bads”), which was lame and super distracting, but the story itself was just weak. It explains very little, you find out RIGHT at the end who the bad guy is, and that’s pretty much it. It literally leaves you with Zach leaving his own home with the bad guy in it after having a confrontational conversation, and him just going for a run through Central Park. Umm…what?

I guess there might be a sequel, but there was just too much wrong with the first story for me to waste my money on the sequel. Spare yourself. This book’s not worth it.

And now I’ve picked up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows again. It’s one of my faves and is dangerously close to parting with its spine from overuse. I like to fall back to it when I want to read something I know I will love. It never disappoints.

~Meghan

September Books. Long Overdue.

We’re over half-way through October, and I’m just now getting around to my September books post. This is partly due to me feeling like I’m just not remembering one of the books I read and partly due to me forgetting to post about it. So anyway, here are the books I could remember reading in September.

1. Sparkles by Louise Bagshawe.

This was a book that was given to me by a cousin, and I grabbed it on the way to work one day to read during naptime. At first, I just couldn’t get into it. First of all, it had glitter on the cover and was called “Sparkles.” I was embarrassed to be seen with it, as silly as that sounds. Then there was the fact that many of the characters are spoiled, bratty Frenchmen, obnoxious, self-serving Americans, and timid British people. Of course, the Brits come out strong, smart, generous, and rich in the end. I say “of course” because the author is British.

But after a few chapters, I began to enjoy it. The story was much better than the cover implied. There was murder, mystery, deception, loss, gain, and trials that were overcome. It was fun to read. They only named it “Sparkles” because the main characters are all involved in the jewelry business. I wish they had thought that through a little more.

2., 3., and 4. Annie’s People Trilogy by Beverly Lewis.

The author of these books grew up in Lancaster Country, PA, which is about as Amish as it gets. Her mother had been raised Amish, but Beverly Lewis was not. A Christian author with a great deal of insight into the strictest order of Amish life, these books show the struggles of the young Amish with conforming to the rules set by the Brethren who lead their order.

I knew just some of the basic information about the Amish before reading these books-no electricity, buggies and horses instead of cars, dresses and caps for the women, beards on the men, etc. Not much. While I won’t take a work of fiction as the final authority on Amish life, I found the author’s background lent some major credibility to the story. I was fascinated by what they believe in reference to the Bible and even more fascinated by what they don’t believe. Thank the Lord that I wasn’t born Amish; I would have been horrible at sticking to their rules.

What books did y’all read last month?

~Meghan

August Reads

Hello, Hello. Here’s what I feasted my eyes upon this month:

Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes.

This is the second book in a series I started in July. I actually read them all out of order, due to some confusion I explained here. This book was an interesting look into the mind and experience of Rachel Walsh, a drug addict going from addiction to rehab to recovery. Not your typical chick lit.

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes.

While the same author, this book is unrelated to the previously mentioned series about the Walsh sisters. It actually covers about 5 different women, and one man (a politician, of course) that was charming up until the point that he started to be abusive. It’s actually a pretty common thing for an abusive person to be extremely charismatic, and when you add in that in this story, that person was also quite powerful in the government, it’s not really surprising that nothing was done about the abuse. But he’s put in his place in the end.

This was not my favorite of Keye’s works, but I did see (after reading Rachel’s Holiday right before it) that she has a definite heart for women. She’s all about women overcoming struggles in her books, and I can appreciate that.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

This story is interesting but sad. This really fed into my whole “what if” ideas as I went on and on to Tom about time travel and the whole idea of it. Fortunately, he loves Back To The Future, so he was willing to converse about time travel with me. I’m wanting to add the movie to my Netflix Queue now.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Don’t worry, no spoilers here.

When I finished this long anticipated end to the Hunger Games trilogy, I just closed it and stared at it. I felt like bawling, but I didn’t cry. I felt frustrated. And I felt a sense of closure. It was confusing because I wanted to be mad at some of the book but couldn’t be. Here’s why:

It’s a very dark book, and there are several sad parts. You lose many characters you love, and the ones who make it are irrevocably changed. Collins doesn’t wrap everything up in a pretty package, but if she had, she’d be doing an injustice to the story. And that’s the hard part…You want everything to end happily, but you know that if it did, it would cheapen the trilogy. So you’re left grieving the friends you’ve made and lost in this less-than-ideal world and accepting the author’s decisions as best.

My only complaint is that one of the main characters is someone who fights for what they want so strongly throughout the book, and right at the end, they just accept defeat in that area. It doesn’t seem to fit the personality of that character, and it’s so anticlimactic.

Even in the happy parts at the end, there is sadness. But these characters aren’t and never have been perfect; they’ve been through some awful torture, watched loved ones die, and fought for their own lives and the lives of the other citizens of Panem. And don’t forget that most of them are between 16 and 20 years of age. You can’t expect that they don’t have a breaking point. You have GOT to read it, but be prepared to battle your emotions when you’re done.

Can I just give mad props to Suzanne Collins for a second? I mean, wow. She does something that almost no other authors do for me- she surprises me. Even with Harry Potter, I saw some of the stuff in the 7th book coming. But I’m constantly wondering what’s next with Collins, and I hardly even know what to guess, much less wonder whether or not I’m right. I’m definitely going to have to check out some of her other books.

What?! Only 4 books?

I know. Who am I? I had actually started reading another book before Mockingjay, but I put it down as soon as Mockingjay came to bookstores. Although I read MJ in about 5 hours, I just couldn’t pick up another book right away. At first, I was still processing it. Then, there was the fact that NO ONE I interact with had read the third book, so I had no one to talk about it with, which meant I’ve just been stewing in my thoughts on it. Then I was busy with Boot Camp. And I’ve finally picked up the other book again. But I’m far from finished with it, so it’ll have to go under September books.

What did y’all read in August?

~Meghan

July Books

Here are my books that I read this month:

1. The Host by Stephenie Meyer.

I’ve told you my thoughts on this book before. I was reading it earlier in the month when I posed the question of what makes something count as sci-fi. Whether you like science fiction or not, though, I think you’ll like this read. And, just for the record, it is NOTHING like Twilight. Really. Promise.

2. The Boy I Loved Before by Jenny Colgan.

My cousin, Theresa Anne, gave me two big bags full of books to read (I love my family), and this was one of them. It made me laugh. It is definitely chick lit (as are the next 3 books), and it was a fun read. I loved seeing how high school looked from an adult mind stuck in a teen body. I laughed and read some parts out loud to Tom just because I felt like I couldn’t help but totally agree with some of the observations made by the main character. High school wasn’t the disaster for me that it was for this character, but, oh, I’m so glad to be an adult.

3., 4., and 5. Watermelon, Angels, and Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes.

Okay. Marian Keyes is a new author for me. She’s Irish, and so are her characters, the Walsh sisters. I love that, especially when their mom is involved. She’s so funny. TA also gave me these books (and another one called Rachel’s Holiday), all about these sisters. First of all, if you read these, you should know that the author’s works are NOT PRINTED IN ORDER on the flaps inside the books. This is both strange and confusing for me, as I use that as a guide of where to start and where to go next when reading a new series.

Basically, based on the order of events in the stories of the books I’ve read, I think the correct order is supposed to be: Watermelon, Rachel’s Holiday, Angels, then Anybody Out There. And then I assume there is another book coming out about Helen, the last Walsh sister, sometime soon. What I find interesting about these books is that these are not sweet little love stories. They cover everything from divorce to overcoming addictions to death of a spouse. My heart would just break for some of these people (yes, fictional people). And it would also give me such relief to see them recovering and/or overcoming hard situations when they could.

These are not the only books by this author, and TA included some of the others for me, so I’m gonna check them out too.

6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Yeah, Yeah, I know you’re tired of hearing about it. So I won’t go in depth. I’ll just say that I’m re-reading these books before the third one comes out on August 24th. I read this one in 2 days and am going to get started on Catching Fire again as soon as I get it back. Please do yourself a favor and read these books. If you’ve read them for the first time anytime lately, did you like (or,…okay, love) them as much as I did? If you haven’t read them, read about them here and here.

And lastly, just for fun, I borrowed a copy of The Little Prince (in English instead of French, which I can’t read), and I’m going to read it probably before July is over. I’ve heard it’s a great story. It’ll have to go to the August books post though since this goes out before it’s completed.

What books did you read this month?

~Meghan

Mockingjay

If you’ve read my posts about books consistently, you’ll know that I LOVE The Hunger Games Trilogy. I reviewed it twice, once in January and again in June. The first book, The Hunger Games, and the second book, Catching Fire, were so captivating, fast-paced, and packed with suspense, danger, and action that I couldn’t put them down.

The final book of the trilogy is slated to come out on August 24th, and I can’t wait. I’m SO excited. I search for it every now and then to see if any new buzz has come out about it, but all I would see is that “the third book is due out in August.” But yesterday I finally saw that it has been named and even has cover art online. The third book is to be called Mockingjay. Here’s the cover:

I had a miniature freak-out at the computer when I saw this. I am so pumped. Elizabeth and Austin (Will’s parents) were so sweet and gave me a gift card to Barnes & Noble for my birthday. It’s been designated for Mockingjay from the moment I saw it. Elizabeth is even reading my copy of the books, and she just finished The Hunger Games and is now reading Catching Fire. I’m trying to get the word out to anyone I can because these books are a lot to miss out on if you love to read.

In other exciting news for fans of the trilogy, The Hunger Games is being turned into a movie. Lionsgate has bought the rights, and Suzanne Collins is writing the screenplay herself. If it’s anything like the books (which it might not be because of the somewhat gory violence), it is going to be awesome. I remember thinking so many times as I read it that it would make a great action/thriller movie. Tom and I will definitely be seeing this in theater. I just want to get Tom to read the books first. (He said he will, but he has too many other things lined up first. This drives me nuts. I had to bug him for years to read Harry Potter, and, when he did, he loved those books. I know he’ll like these too, but it’s almost impossible to fight his schedule.)

But listen up folks: You need to read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Then you need to get yourself to a book store by August 24th to get Mockingjay. If you like to read, you don’t want to miss this.

~Meghan

What Makes Something Sci-Fi?

This is something I’ve been debating with myself over the last few days. I’ve been re-reading The Host, and I have been asked what it’s about by various people who’ve seen the cover. Or who caught me reading outside the mens’ dressing room at Nordstrom Rack. Whatever.

As soon as I say the word “alien” to them, they all have the same reaction. They ask, “so it’s science fiction?” And I say, “…yes, kind of.” And they say, “I hate science fiction.” And that’s that. They’ve missed out on a great book simply because there are aliens in it.

And so I began to think it over…what makes something sci-fi? I mean, this book has aliens in it, yes, but it’s more than that. It’s also a psychological thriller, a debate of ethics versus survival, a story about family and loyalties. I feel like the story itself is great, and it’s about so much more than aliens. My first thought isn’t sci-fi when I read it.

Should something be categorized as Sci-Fi just because aliens are involved? Why? We have no scientific proof of aliens. Why are they part of  ”science” fiction? I decided to look up some definitions of sci-fi, and this definition (from Wikipedia) caught my attention.

Science fiction is a genre of fiction. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).


I stopped to think about that. I mean…aliens are definitely in the realm of “pure imaginative speculation” in my opinion. I mean, I’m not saying they couldn’t exist, but I don’t think crop circles are great evidence. (Now if I could just see someone use The Force, on the other hand…) So why are they  included in sci-fi? Shouldn’t it be just “some” things and not “the whole premise of the story” that is imaginative speculation? I kept reading…

Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”. Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possibilities. The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality, but the majority of science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief provided by potential scientific explanations to various fictional elements.

These may include:

  • A setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in an historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record
  • A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens
  • Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature
  • Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics, or new technology, such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems (e.g., a dystopia, or a situation where organized society has collapsed)

So then it seems like…it’s all “imaginative speculation” with just a little bit of widely accepted scientific theory thrown in with it. I mean, alternative timelines, scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature, and time travel are no more proven than aliens. I do agree with the next part:

Science fiction is difficult to define, as it includes a wide range of subgenres and themes.

I just don’t understand why it’s called science fiction, then. I mean…historical fiction takes place in the past, usually in a well-known, or at least recorded, time in history. Christian fiction has a Christian theme and/or a Christian main character. Horror fiction has horror in it. Romance fiction covers romance. Shouldn’t science fiction cover…science? I know some science fiction DOES…but it seems that some things falling under that category would be better suited to fantasy.

Fantasy covers all things fanciful. In this genre you’ll find things like talking animals, elves, magic, etc. It seems like aliens who come to earth and take over our bodies are just as fanciful and unlikely a story as  hobbits, vampires, and schools with young witches and wizards. So why do all alien stories get grouped into sci-fi?

Of course, other sources claim that fantasy is an umbrella under which science fiction rests or the other way around. But I usually think of and hear of them being their own, self-sufficient categories.

So, what do you think? What makes something science fiction? Is there something that falls under the sci-fi category that you think shouldn’t? Am I the weirdest girl in the state (or country) for even caring about this?

No need to answer that last question. I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that, at least.

~Meghan

June Books

I feel like the month of June is always completely packed with things to do and places to be. There’s so little down time. Due to that, I read only 6  and a half books and one novella this month; of those, five I had read before.

I started off by borrowing Tom’s copy of Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley. Andy is our preacher at Northpoint Community Church, and we love to hear what God uses him to teach us. He is a great communicator, and I was looking forward to finally reading one of his books.

No disappointment. This book is all about when and how you have to make the choice to cut back in your work life in order to give more in your family life. And it also addresses the spouses who sometimes turn themselves into martyrs so their spouses can spend the time they should be with family elsewhere.

It’s a quick read and a great guideline for staying out of the trap many fall into of committing more of themselves to work than they should. Andy does repeat himself a little bit, but I told Tom that it kind of reminded me of when he does a sermon series at church. There are a few things he will say enough times during a series that when you hear the title of that sermon series, those phrases immediately come to mind. Those are the key phrases that drive home the point, so I can understand it. And because of that, I can forgive the repetition in the book.

The second book I read in about two days. It was The Duggars: 20 and Counting! by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.

I first heard of this family several years ago, long before they had a show on TLC. My mom had heard of them and visited their site. She was encouraged by what a loving and godly family they seemed to be, and she was especially interested in how they managed to stay organized (or maybe she was just looking for tips on how to get me to be more organized as my room was the bane of her existence when I was a teenager). Regardless of my mom’s impression of them, I just thought, “why would anyone want to have that many kids? Is that even safe to have that many kids and keep going? How can they even have a relationship with their parents? And why are all the kids given names that start with J? This family is kinda weird.” And then I saw that they all usually dress the same and wrote it off as an out-of-touch with normality group of people.

So I was surprised this last year when I found myself being drawn in to watch their show on TLC. At first, I was merely curious and trying to understand them. But then it became more of appreciating something wholesome and uplifting in a real family. They genuinely love each other and the Lord. These kids respect their parents AND these parents respect their kids. They don’t humiliate them or make fun of them or exasperate them. They encourage the good and weed out the bad choices their children make with love. It’s fascinating to find something on tv, reality tv, no less, that doesn’t make me sorry I turned it on in the first place.

Eventually, I borrowed this book from my mom, who owns it. It answers a lot of questions as to why and how they do things in their life. I won’t be doing things the same in all respects (less children, more variety in clothes, updated hairstyles, etc.), but I found myself really impressed with this family. The parents married quite young, and they have learned to be great stewards of what God has given them. They have all those kids and absolutely no debt (no, not even a mortgage), and they make wise decisions about how to use what they have. They even share how they came to be financially independent and tips for how to stay that way. I fully intend to try out their recipe for home-made laundry detergent. Once I’ve made it and tried it, I’ll review it on the site and post the directions if it’s good.

The next four books were the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.

I already covered my opinion on these books, so I won’t repeat myself. But it was just that I was feeling the urge to read them again. I just finished them (that’s the third time I’ve read them) and picked up The Host (again). Stephenie Meyer has a knack for writing books a reader just can’t put down. I hope she writes something new soon.

Which leads me to my next read, the novella. I was looking on Stephenie Meyer’s site to see if she had any new projects coming out, and I saw that she had a short novella about Bree Tanner, a vampire that is briefly part of the story in Eclipse, the third Twilight book. And that’s when I saw that she wrote a novella about Bree. It made me wish her story had a happier ending.

If you like Twilight, check out (for free and with the author’s permission) this short novella: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. I actually read this (and the next thing I list) before diving into Twilight again.

And then there was the half book I read, Midnight Sun. I only read half of it because that’s all there is to it, but this was my second time through it. Stephenie Meyer was in the middle of rewriting Twilight from Edward’s perspective, and it got leaked online. She stopped writing it. So sad about that because I actually enjoy reading it from Edward’s perspective more than from Bella’s. There’s no picture to go with it, but there is a link. You can just try to imagine this dude telling it to you, k?

Yikes. He looks a little p.o.’d. Not good for a vampire.

Oh cheer up, Edward. You’ll get your turn to tell your story if Mrs. Meyer ever gets back around to it. We’re just as disappointed as you are.

Until then, happy reading!

~Meghan

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Update on my Nana:

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and kind words and prayers. It’s been a rough week. They finally were able to get Nana where she could breathe on her own without a ventilator, but she’s not very responsive in general. My mom and her siblings had to make the decision to move her to hospice care. This hasn’t been easy for them.

On Sunday, my dad called me and asked me to talk to her. He said when she heard my brother and sister on the phone talking to her, she seemed to smile a bit, though she couldn’t respond. Of course, I was happy to have the chance to tell her how much I love her and that I am glad to talk to her and that she’s out of the hospital and how I want to come visit her soon. She couldn’t talk back to me, and I could hear her labored breathing on the other end of the phone. That was much harder than I expected and it’s hard for me to think about it without getting upset. Tom and I are making plans to go to Savannah next month to visit her.

At this point, I’m praying that if she can’t improve that she’ll at least live long enough for us to get to go down to see her. But of course I don’t want her to suffer any, so if God takes her early, I’d rather His will be done. Please continue to pray for His will and for comfort. Thanks, friends.