A Look at the Bookshelf Part 1

Greetings everyone! I’m glad to be back with you all today after an absolutely glorious week in Florida for Thanksgiving! I hope you all had as blessed a holiday as I did.

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Here, have a glorious sunrise šŸ˜€

If you haven’t guessed it by now, I love books. A lot. And so does my family. Behold, our two largest bookshelves:

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I thought it might be fun to give you all a peek at my personal bookshelves in my room along with the contents thereof. Because even my shelves tell stories šŸ™‚ If you see a volume you’re curious about, let me know and I’ll do a post about it!

Today we are going to be starting off with my Christian Fantasy shelf.

Number of books from this shelf that are unread: 21

Number of read: 11

Favorite book on the shelf: Hmm… Okay this is actually really tough. I’m going to say Eye of the Oracle because it meant a lot to me at the time I read it. But Runt the Brave is a close second, if not a tie. But if it is possible to have a favorite unread book, then Robert Treskilard’s Merlin’s Blade and Merlin’s Shadow win the prize. Or maybe Embers by Ronnie Kendig…

Which book from the shelf will be read before the others? House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo – I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS ONE!

Have you read any of these books before? Which was your favorite? Which book do you think I should read next?Ā 

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Story Exploration: The Neverending Story

Story Type: Movie

Overall Rating: 2 of 5

Description in one word: Weird

Description in One Sentence: An attempt to show the wonder of story and the need for hope in the world with 80s music and creepy animatronics.

A couple months ago, my sister and I watched The Neverending Story for the first time. As soon as the opening credits began we knew we were in for something weird. As the film progressed, we weren’t disappointed. There were a lot of “What?”, “Huh?”, “Aaaaahhhh!” and “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?”

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In the end, I was left feeling deeply disappointed. Because this film had so much potential. It dealt with two themes that are deeply important to me, it had a book seller and a boy who had read Lord of the Rings and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at an extraordinarily young age, and it tried very hard to give a sense of wonder to the audience.

And maybe, when it first came out, it did accomplish that for people. I could say it’s just that I’m stuck in a CGI generation and I need more lifelike effects to make me believe. But I don’t think that is so. The 1970s BBC Chronicles of Narnia films are some of my favorites ever. They were my first enterance into Narnia, and though there are no stellar effects like in today’s movies, I believe they do a phenominal job in instilling wonder into the beholder.

So what is it about The Neverending Story that made it lack?

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Throughout the film, I felt disconnected and weirded out. Even though pity and empathy and even interest was established in the main character, once he started reading The Neverending Story, the disconnect began. Everything was so strange, foreign, and rather distracting. The MC of the book was, honestly, annoying. And then, when the ending occurred, my sister just sat there saying, “Wait… huh? What just happened? I don’t get it. I’m confused.”

Perhaps that was it. Confusion. Perhaps if the makers had narrowed down the phenominal, and focused more on the writing instead of freaky creatures it would have presented it’s golden themes in the manner they should have been.

Despite the weirdness, however, we will be watching the second movie. Because, well, we’re weird too.

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Story Exploration: Iscariot by Tosca Lee

I had the honor of meeting Tosca Lee this year at the One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshop, and then getting to see her again a month later the first night of the Realm Makers conference.

I was determined to read one of her books before I met her, so a few days before the OYAN SW, I stayed up late reading her short story Ismeni,a prequel to her novelĀ Sheba: Rise of a Queen. I decided then and there that I would be purchasingĀ ShebaĀ at OYAN. Which I did. I then devoured it before leaving for Realm Makers (staying up far too late night before I left in order to finish it, in fact)

But this post, of course, is not aboutĀ Sheba (that will come later). It is about the novel of Tosca’s that I have most recently read.Ā Iscariot.

Rating: 5 of 5

Description in One Word: Powerful

Description in One Sentence: A journey through the life of Judas Iscariot that will leave you shocked, in awe, and probably changed.

Tosca is a masterful storyteller that deals with things in a direct, real, and raw way. She doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff, and her prose benefits from that. Her stories are strong.Ā Iscariot is no exception.

How can I aptly describe the emotions, the discoveries, the awe? Tosca takes you into the world of Judas in a way I’ve never seen or thought about before. You see a side of the history that a read through of the gospels may not give you at first glance.

And though all the time you know what is going to happen, you know what the eventual outcome is going to be, you are still left clinging to the book, sitting on the edge of your seat with heart pounding, wondering what is going to happen next.

I cried – no, sobbed- over this book. Yes, I do admittedly cry a lot over stories. But this was a major cry, people, okay? We’re talking grab the box of tissues because of excess snot sobbing. Because it’s beautiful. And it changed me. It made me look at that time period, the events that happened, in a new light. It gave me a speculation about what Jesus’ relationships with his disciples looked like, what He went through, what He did.

Iscariot is one of those tales that when you shut the book, you just kind of sit there, held up in a ball of feelings that you don’t quite want to dissapate, staring at the cover going,

Have you read Iscariot? What were your thoughts? What other works by Tosca Lee have you enjoyed? If you haven’t read any what are you waiting for???

Story Exploration: Into the Woods

Story Type: Movie/Musical

Overall Rating: 2 of 5

Described in One Word: Sad

Described in One Sentence: The threads of classic fairy tales are woven together to create a melancholy tapestry.

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First off, I knew absolutely nothing about Into the Woods before watching the movie, and that includes the stage production. I vaguely knew that there were a lot of un family friendly things in the stage production and that Disney cut those out. I would more than likely hate the stage version because of that, especially with how I feel just about Disney’s version. With that disclaimer out of the way, let us continue.

I didn’t get to see Into the Woods when it came out in theaters. We had to wait until the end of August for our turn to finally get it from the library. After such a long wait, my hopes were pretty high for this film. In the end, however, I was kind of disappointed.

Now don’t get me wrong. This film holds in it Disney Magic, making it aesthetically brilliant and beautiful to watch, and of course there are songs that will stick in your head and that many of my friends sing out with gusto. But instead of at the end of it feeling joy, I felt sad. Depressed, even. Ā There wasn’t a whole lot of hope in the story. Ā And, perhaps, that was its point.

Following the familiar fairy tales but in the original oft-times gory fashion was quite the interesting twist to begin with. But the continuation of the sad and rather dark story just brought me down. In the end I felt rather cheated.

But you know… this reminds me of The Princess Bride (why yes, I am referring to my favorite book for more than likely not the last time, thanks for noticing šŸ˜€ ) Goldman says he suffered so much when he thought that Buttercup had married HumperdinkĀ because he was outraged. It wasn’t fair. But he didn’t realize that until his teens when a neighbor woman told him thatĀ life isn’t fair.

And it’s true. Life isn’t fair. Sometimes, horrible things happen. There is pain and Agony (see what I did there?) and tears. Ā Sometimes, Princes are not princely. Children have to grow up without one or both of their parents. Our actions have consequences we never thought possible. Ā But even in all of this, we can make the right choices. The choice to stand up and be the father you need to be. To stand by others who have helped you, been there for you.

Perhaps, that is what Into the Woods is trying to say. That even when endings are not fair, even when there are no happily ever afters, it doesn’t mean that everything is hopeless. You can still step up to the plate and make a difference in this world, and you have something that other people need.

The thing is, if that is what they were trying to say, they didn’t do that great a job in my opinion. If they had, I would not have left the film feeling the way I did. I didn’t feel motivated or empowered or hopeful.

Despite theĀ feeling of sad emptiness, I think there are still things you can glean from the movie. And I would also like to point out that Rapunzel’s story was awesome.

Also, the entire movie is worth watching just to see the Agony musical number.

In a nutshell: If you like Happily Ever After Disney, you probably won’t like this story. But if you like sad things and original Grimm and lots of food for thought, then by all means give it a watch.

Have you watched Into the Woods? What are your thoughts? Which song gets stuck in your head the most?Ā