April 8th, 2012

Kanye Shrug

Books 9-11

Title: Heaven is For Real
Author: Todd Burpo
Genre: Religious

"Heaven is for real, and you're gonna like it!" Declares little Colton Burpo, who is now eleven years old. When Colton was about three years old, the little boy claimed that he had died during an emergency appendectomy surgery and got a first hand look of heaven and Jesus Christ. Although he was just barely out of his terrible two's when the incident happened, Colton remembers vividly his experience in heaven and made sure to tell his parents about all the things he'd seen. Years later, Colton's father, Todd, tells the story of Colton's near death experience and his trip to heaven.

What can I say? There are a lot of skeptics out there and most of them haven't hesitated to brandish this book as just a ploy by the Burpo's to cash in on their children. As I mentioned in my review on goodreads, I would like to have a little more faith in people. As a man of God, I would like to believe that Mr. Burpo wouldn't use something as precious as his son to make a quick buck. With that being said, I love little Colton's tale. Whether it was something conjured up during many Sunday's of sitting in Sunday school, or listening to his Father preach (Todd Burpo is a minister), Colton's story was very touching. As a Christian any mention of Jesus makes me hungry for more. I love Colton's description of how gentle Jesus had been with him; comforting him while the little tyke sat on his lap, having the Angel's sing his favorite songs to him and letting meet his great-grandfather "Pop" and his older unborn sister. I believe with my whole heart in a loving God like Jesus and it was wonderful to hear this from " out of the mouths of babes."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not some gullible sucker. A part of me did raise a brow at the story. Particularly because for such a small child, Colton was able to articulate his thoughts very well. But I also had to put it into perspective. I've worked with children for years and I have had the pleasure of caring for some of the most expressive, articulate two year olds I've ever met. So yeah, I think I can buy some of the things Todd writes about. There were things that his three year old son couldn't have known about (like their unborn first child that his wife had miscarried years before Colton was born) unless they told him.

Either way, it was a nice quick read. I just wish there was more description about Heaven and Jesus. A lot of the story relied heavily on fillers, I'm suspecting because without them, Todd Burpo could have told the whole thing in 20 pages or less. Other than that, I liked the book. Although, the book did get preachy at some spots, I would recommend it to my friends. I noticed a lot of reviewers were adversed to that aspect of the book. My thoughts on those negative reviews is what did you expect? It's published as Christian literature and the author is a preacher.

Anyway, if heaven is as wonderful as little Colton says it is, I'm going to love it!

Title: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larson
Genre: Mystery, Crime Drama

Harriet Vanger has been dead for over thirty years and her mysterious disappearance has haunted industry tycoon Henrik Vanger to a point of obsession. For years he had spared no expensive trying to solve the murder of his beloved niece. Now nearing his death, Henrik tries one last time to find out what happened to Harriet. When Mikael Blomkvist, well known journalist and editor and Chief of Millennium Magazine comes under fire for liable charges and subsequently walks away from journalism, Vanger seeks out the journalist and makes him a deal that is hard to resist: Find Harriet's murderer and he'll see to it that Blomkvist is vindicated.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, is a long draggy posthumous debute novel by writer and journalist Stieg Larson. While I liked the story, the "mystery" was easy enough to crack about half way through the novel and the tale didn't quite live up to the hype. To be honest, I found the pace to be too slow for this type of novel. It took me nearly a month to finish because I found myself either falling asleep at some junctions or reading the same line repeatedly and not processing what I had just read. I feel like the story could have been much more enjoyable if the pacing had picked up and stayed that way throughout the rest of the novel.

I've read a lot of mystery novels in the past, mostly by J.D. Robb and Sydney Sheldon, what they may lack stylistically, they more than make up with a good edge of your seat thriller that is both well written and entertaining. I just wished the same could be said for Dragon.

However, there was a lot to like about this story. I particularly liked Lisbeth Salander. From what I understand, Larson stylized the character after a young woman who he witnessed being raped. Throughout the novel, statistics about crimes against women were peppered in to home in the underlying message of the originally titled "Men Who Hate Women." And there was plenty of that going on in the story. Lisbeth, a victim of rape (like her namesake), isn't a very likable character, yet Larson pulls her taciturn nature off beautifully and you have to like this girl by the end of the novel. I especially enjoyed her when she said, "Fucking Harriet Vanger," once she and Mikael solved the mystery of Harriet's disappearance. I found Lisbeth's parts in the novel a lot more interesting to read than Mikael's and the novel did seem to move quicker during her parts.

All in all, the book was very well written. I would recommend it, but only if you don't mind overly descriptive prose and a slow starting plot. Otherwise, just watch the movies.

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Genre: Romance, Young Adult, Supernatural

All her life Mary has dreamed about seeing the ocean, a place she had only heard tales of from her mother. Mary can't visit the ocean because all around her small village is a forest inhabited by the "unconsecrated" or zombies. Many years ago, a plague swept the world causing people to die and comeback as the undead. The Sisterhood, a group of women who protect the village, call it The Return.

The Sisters protect the people of Mary's village from The Unconsecrated along with The Guardians who helped build the fences that surround the village. Despite The Sister Hood's warning about the surrounding forest, Mary knows that there has to be something else out there and she is determined to see the ocean. Mary gets her chance to explore the world beyond the fences when one day the unconsecrated breach the village. Mary and her friends take to the series of gated pathways that lead out of the village and through the forest of hands and teeth. The pathways are marked with roman numerals that Mary feels will lead them to the ocean.

Oh, Mary why did you have to be so completely useless and unlikable? And Oh Ms. Ryan, why did you have such a great premiss only to squander it so horrifically with lack luster characters and so many open ended plot devices? After reading Forest, I was so happy to be done! I was excited when I first got the book (having recently almost gotten over my fear of an impending zombie infestation), only to be disappointed by a character that made me want to vomit with each advancing page. For those of you who have yet to read this book (I urge you to turn away now, but if you must, here are a few things to know) The Guardians are under the command of the Sisterhood. The Sisterhood is a group of women who live in a Cathedral in their village and protect the people from the Unconsecrated ones (zombies). Mary is in love with a boy named Travis, who loves a girl named Cass, who loves Harry, who loves Mary.

I should have known right then and there this was going to be some half baked load of crap, perfect for the tweens. But seeing as I don't judge YA novels and rather enjoy them for a bit of light reading, I ventured on with this novel.

Mary is a selfish little girl cut from the exact same cloth as one, Bella Swan. Like Bella, Mary's relentless obsessive pursuit of something (in this case the ocean) leads not only her lover and brother to their deaths, it also endangers everyone else around her. Yet, none of this matters to Mary because she will have her day at the beach no matter who it kills.

While I understand to pursue an impossible dream is something worth doing, the same is not true in Zombieland, people. In Zombieland we try not to become some hordes next meal and we certainly don't give a crap about which boy we're going to be shacking up with. But don't tell this to Mary. All of this is lost on her as she she pokes at Zombies with a stick or asks them questions when clearly the only thing they want to do is suck the marrow out her bones after devouring her flesh. No, Mary is a special girl who just can't seem to get it.

I would not recommend this book nor will I be reading the other two books in the trilogy.