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Recent Reviews

  1. What’s a writing life with no writing?

    What do you do when your writing life doesn’t include much writing? It’s a guarantee that at some point you’ll hit a wall with your story, or you’ll get busy at work, or you’ll lose the initial spark that inspired you, or you’ll pick up a new hobby and writing will get pushed to the side. What’s a writer to do in a time when their own writing is dormant?

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  2. The Shadow of the Wind is Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s first adult novel, telling the story of Daniel, a young man tasked with finding out the terrible secrets behind the Spanish writer Julián Carax. In a similar vein to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Umberto Eco, Zafón has produced an immense Gothic novel. Filled with suspense, horror, and surprising wonder, The Shadow of the Wind is a phenomenal piece of writing that fully immerses you in its world Continue reading »

  3. Last week we talked about keeping a deep and varied reading list as a great way to get inspiration for a story. Today, we’re going to drill into a specific type of inspiration: the ancient classics. Suzanne Collins is great, but have you read your Aristophanes lately? Continue reading »

  4. There aren’t too many names in sci-fi bigger than Frank Herbert. Dune is his 1965 classic, a landmark in science fiction, and a ground-breaker for many novels to come. I may be fifty years late to the party, but even so, I enjoyed Herbert’s masterpiece, and found Dune a compelling story of humanity, loss, and prophecy that makes for the best sci-fi I’ve ever read. Read on for more: Continue reading »

  5. There are those who say that television rots our brains. Neil Postman would disagree. Rather than rotting our brains, he would say, it removes the necessity to use them. Now, this isn’t some old crank arguing about kids not playing outside anymore, or that the violence on TV will make us murderous. No, Postman argues that the way television presents information is erasing our need to think. Books, he writes, are the solution. As a writer on a book review website, just allow me to adjust my monocle and I’ll tell you why.

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  6. Reading good books is like throwing grain into the field of your brain. You’re filling your brain with stories, thinking over ideas and concepts that other writers have poured out onto the page. In the past few weeks, I’ve read or read parts of a classic sci-fi novel (Dune by Frank Herbert), a Gothic novel (Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafón), Augustine’s Confessions, a children’s book (Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet), and most of the book of Job. Keeping a large and varied reading list helps me to feel deeply, to learn from other writers, and to come up with new story ideas. Continue reading »

  7. In an effort to chip away at my ever-growing “To Read” list, I sat down the other day and picked up The Lightning Thief, first book in the series of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” by Rick Riordan. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. After all, elementary kids these days are crazy about Percy Jackson, which can either mean it’s a really great book, or a really lousy one. As I read through the book almost in one sitting (with a good night’s sleep about halfway through), I found that I was rather surprised by the book. It was a fun and engaging read, and I see why kids love it! But there were many parts that made me question whether The Lightning Thief is for everyone. Continue reading »

  8. College is a tough time. I am faced with deciding what I want to do with my life, forced to spend lots of money and study a smorgasbord of difficult topics, and try to sift through what I really believe. I’m faced with so many questions: how do I find God’s will for my life? How can I be sure I have the right motivations? How can I hear God’s voice in my heart? Philosophy Professor Phillip Cary noticed many of his students wrestling with the same questions, and becoming ever anxious in search of answers. However, as he spoke with his students, Cary realized that the issue was not with the students, but with their bad theology. So Cary decided to write a book showing the good news to those anxious Christians.

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  9. There was a train station.

    All trains come to where the world all stands. Some people may sit on the roof for a time, but they all come to the gap eventually.

    Scrawled, horrible words cover the walls, the floor, the beams and ceiling. Some tried to paint over, some tried to clean them off, and some tried to fix it with beautiful words. Chaos mingles here with the brushing shoulders of strangers, caking memory.

    But the station still, just barely, quakes when the trains rumble by and when the brakes screech and gravel peppers the station. Continue reading »

  10. Names are always the hardest part of a story for me. A name is a label for a being, and the wrong name can doom a character. I always feel apprehensive when my pen is hovering over a character, waiting to be granted a name. I’ve spent so much energy on a character name for my latest story. Here’s a little more on my thought process for coming up with a good name. Continue reading »