Tag Archives: Christian

Demon (Tosca Lee)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Demon (Tosca Lee) Recently divorced and mired in a meaningless existence, Clay drifts from his drab apartment to his equally lusterless job as an editor for a small Boston press — until the night Lucian finds him and everything changes with the simple words, “I’m going to tell you my story, and you’re going to write it down and publish it.”

What begins as a mystery soon spirals into chaotic obsession as Clay struggles to piece together Lucian’s dark tale of love, ambition and grace — only to discover that the demon’s story has become his own.

And then only one thing matters: learning how the story ends.

What a haunting book. I heard about Tosca Lee from Camy, and after reading about the book on the official website (especially after reading this page) I knew I had to get this book.

Demon: A Memoir gives us a view of the whole Salvation history from another point of view: a demon. It’s kind of creepy at first when you think of it, but like Clay, I got curious. What could a demon know about salvation? What could he possibly tell Clay, and what could Clay possibly gain from all this?

The novel had no frills about it. Clay wasn’t a righteous guy, he wasn’t even religious at all. He’s drifting in his life, finding no meaning until his encounter with Lucian. Tosca draws a very different picture of a demon — not one with an image we know, with horns and bat-like wings, but drawing from the story of the first fall: Lucifer. There were no bargains for the soul for Clay, although it seemed like he almost sold his soul to the devil as he became obsessed with the story.

Lucian was a very interesting character too, taking on a lot of forms of humans because he liked to “test” them out. He started out as a Mediterranean-looking man and then later met Clay as a woman and then a geeky teen — it seemed like he could not get enough of the “clay” people, regardless of age and use of best wrinkle cream. He was also fascinated with humans eating, and made sure Clay was eating almost every time they met. His hurried manner at some parts of the story makes you wonder who exactly is out to get the demon — Lucifer? Another hoard of demons? But why? And why is he talking to Clay in the first place?

Like I said, it’s a way to view the story of our salvation from another side. It almost comes to a point that I felt some sympathy for Lucian and I wished there was something better for him…and in the same way, it made me realize how lucky I was to be created in God’s image and likeness. How infinite my chances are, how much patience God has for me. How forgiving God is for someone like me who commits the same mistake over and over again. It’s…amazing. And humbling.

The ending of the novel is satisfying in a way that it’s not wrapped in neat bows nor it is terribly disturbing. The book reminds us of a choice that everyone has to make in this life. What will you choose?

Altar Boyz will alter your mind

Rating: [rate 5]

Altar Boyz

It’s no secret: I am a Christian, and I am a boyband fan. I am a self-confessed Backstreet Boys fan (sorry Julie, N Sync is just second on my list ^^), and I have spent some years of my life collecting stuff about them, playing their albums nonstop, crushing on Nick Carter, and even writing stories about them. I used to watch MTV all day just to catch their videos, even if I’ve watched that a million times before. I’ve moved on from that, but every now and then I still love singing boyband songs because they’re such great stress relievers.

So the moment I heard about Altar Boyz, a musical about a Christian boyband from Julie, I knew I just had to watch it. I am all for Christian rock/alternative (hello Switchfoot!), but I still have my boyband roots, and combining the two would just be fun.

And it was AWESOME.

Continue reading Altar Boyz will alter your mind

La la la Live Out Loud

At the office with Vanessa and RachelleLast Friday was my last day at work. I was permitted to be a bit relaxed, provided I finish all the documents for turnover and request for transfer early. Around 3:00pm I was done, so all I did was talk with my officemates and do some picture taking. I was really surprised at all the good luck messages I got and the cake I received from one of the vendors. :) And luckily, I also got paid yesterday which means I won’t be poor for the next two weeks until I get paid for my new job. :) Praise God.

I still can’t believe I’m done with my first job. Wow. It’s been an amazing journey, and even if I felt like wanting to quit a lot of times already, every moment is irreplaceable. Great Adventure indeed.

And speaking of Great Adventure, Tuesday, Happy and I went to meet the person who composed and sang the song, Steven Curtis Chapman. Yesterday was his second night of concert sponsored by Cathedral of Praise. Of course we wouldn’t miss this one, so we got there early. Funny though, because I think God played a joke on us because Happy and I almost didn’t get back in when we took a CR break at around 5:30pm. I will be eternally grateful to this guy usher who Tuesday talked to so we could get back in again. We didn’t get his name, but I will really pray for him.

The show was great! I still wish he sang Moment Made for Worshipping but it’s okay because he sang Great Adventure anyway (in a really rocking version!), plus other favorites like Dive, Speechless, For the Sake of the Call. :) Great great night.

With Chris ChesbroAnd then we got to hang out with the band afterwards. See, last year, Tuesday was one of their tour guides when they visited here (I was a part of the team too, but I was selling tickets so I didn’t get to go around with them). So this year, Tuesday introduced us to Chris (the band’s bassist), who picked us up and brought us upstairs (which got him into trouble…oops!) so we ended up hanging out in the green room. A little while later, Steven’s sons, Caleb and Will, and their sound engineer, Russ, joined us and we took tons and tons of pictures and talked. I have to say, Chris is the most popular one that night, with all his photo ops and whatnot. :P It was fun hanging out with them, getting to see their personalities aside from their stage presence.

With Caleb Chapman With Will Chapman

With Russ With Caleb and Will

Unfortunately, Steven was busy so we didn’t get to talk to him that much. We only saw him right before they left, which gave us the photo op:

With Steven Curtis Chapman

They had to leave because they were up to watch Transformers (Awesome movie, btw). Tuesday dropped us off at Taft, we ate late dinner and then headed to Robinson’s Pioneer to wait for my brother to pick us up.

Today, I am watching CSI: Miami on AXN, and I should get ready to go out because I’m up for a haircut/pedicure and picture taking for my 1×1’s for my new job tomorrow. I better get going if I want to get back home by 6:30 for the mass.

Awesome weekend, and I’m praying for an awesome week at my new work. :) Have a blessed Sunday everyone. :)

With This Ring, I'm Confused (Kristin Billerbeck)

With This Ring I'm Confused by Kristin BillerbeckRating: [rate 4]

“Confusion is part of God moving you out of a comfort zone. A comfort zone that should cease to exist. God’s way is never the easy path, but it’s by far the most exciting.”
Ashley Stockingdale

She’s got the rock, so when does happily ever after kick in?

At long last, Ashley Stockingdale–patent attorney, fasionista, and homeowner–can finally add “fiancee” to her spirited resume. That means the next four months will be a dizzying and decadent waltz through aisles of Vera Wang, Kenneth Cole, Sheridan sheets, Kate Spade place settings, and Oneida flatware. Well…maybe not.

For starters, the HR department has hired Ashley’s ex-boyfriend (yep, the one who ran off to India with that other woman) as the new director of software. And now her fiance is starting to sound crazy–something about moving across country, to Philadelphia of all places. Worst of all, right before her eyes, Scarlett-I-need-some-Prozac O’Hara is hijacking her wedding plans!

Life for our heroine is spinning from out of control to downright confusing. But whether she makes it to the end of the aisle or not, she’ll never be at a loss for drama!

This is the third and last installment of the Ashley Stockingdale series, and the book (obviously) focuses on Ashley’s wedding preparations. In this novel, it occured to me that Ashley is pretty normal for a protagonist — albeit a bit neurotic sometimes — but she does attract chaos quite often.

Ashley faces a lot of challenges in preparation for her wedding, mostly concentrating on her in-laws who seem to be driven to make Ashley’s most dreamt-of day to be a disaster. Her future sister-in-law (Emily) is determined to make Ashley a laughingstock in her own wedding by following a “theme” while her future mother-in-law (Elaine) is set to make her look unworthy of her son. Add her commitment-phobe ex Seth’s comeback into her life, her fiance Kevin is always out and he has plans of moving to Philadelphia, and the fact that she is broke, how will she plan the day she has been waiting for all her life?!

The characters of the past two novels make a comeback in this last installment, giving a particular familiarity with the wacky Silicon Valley bunch. Although Ashley’s struggles seem too far-fetched at times, it could happen to anyone still.

The Christian point of view of the novel is a bit hard to grasp at first, but then the author shows it all in the end: marriage requires a lot of hard work, and it doesn’t end at the wedding; in fact, it only starts there.

With This Ring, I’m Confused ends with a happily-ever-after-like ending, which is a great feel-good novel to read on a lazy afternoon. :)

She's Out of Control (Kristin Billerbeck)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

She's Out of Control by Kristin BillerbeckEver been on the verge of buying your own engagement ring?

Ashley Stockingdale, the charming, but always-in-over-her-head patent attorney from What A Girl Wants, has finally found the man she wants to marry. But after nine months of dating, it seems her commitment-phobe boyfriend will never use the “M” word. And just when she thinks she’s got it all together, Ashley is having trouble knowing where to put it.

A massive remodeling project, a hyperactive puppy and an ex-boyfriend who wants to be part of her lie again all keep Ashley’s world spinning. As the mayhem escalates, Ashley’s life quickly goes from What A Girl Wants to out of control.

Reading the second book in the Ashley Stockingdale series makes me wonder if the author has read the Shopaholic series and got an idea there or vice versa. I really think Ashley Stockingdale is Becky Bloomwood on the Bible, although she [Ashley] seems to be a lot smarter and deeper than her secular counterpart.

This novel is even a more fun read than the first one: you wonder if there would be any redemption for Seth and Ashley’s relationship which seemed to be going downhill. But then another guy gets in (the same guy from the first novel) and you find yourself rooting for that guy for Ashley and totally disliking Seth for the way he’s acting.

And if there’s such a thing as the most romantic fictional male character in chicklits, Dr. Kevin Novak should win the prize!

The story focused more on how much Ashley liked controlling her life but then God sends a lot of things her way to make her stop wanting control and just leave it all up to Him (hmm, now that’s something I could use). The novel would make you laugh, feel bad for Ashley, want revenge on the other guy and the annoying girl and love Kevin’s ways at the same time wish for someone like him too.

Such a fun fun read, and the ending is just worth everything Ashley went through for the first two novels. Read, read, read! :)

What a Girl Wants (Kristin Billerbeck)

Rating: [rate 4.0]
What A Girl Wants by Kristin BillerbeckEver felt like the last item left on the clearance rack?

As a successful patent attorney, Ashley Stockingdale has all the makings of a perfect catch — the looks, the brains, even a convertible. ut at 31, she’s beginning to wonder if she’s been passed over for good.

Deciding to adopt a new attitude, Ashley suddenly becomes the romantic interest of three men within a matter of days. While her heart enjoys turning the tables on the dating game, the rest of her previously predictable world is being turned upside down. Is it more than Ashley can handle? Or is it exactly what she wants?”

Ever since I read Dreaming in Black and White, I’ve always wanted to read more Christian chicklit. I’ve heard a lot of good reviews for this book, and so when Marvs headed over to the US, I jumped on the chance to get this book from him. :D

What’s fun about What a Girl Wants is the main character, Ashley. Ashely is a devout Christian, and I know that whenever anyone hears that, they already expect her to be holier-than-thou, one who doesn’t care about the world or dressing right or whatnot. But Ashley is none like that — in fact, she may be not how you expect a Christian to be. I don’t mean that in a bad way, of course. Ashley is just as prayerful and just as nice as what you would expect of her, but she can also be quite vain, quite fashion conscious and can still have enough bitterness and envy going on with her — which just makes her more human, more easy to relate to.

Storywise, the novel is a fun read. It can seem a bit exaggerated at how things turned out the way it was for Ashley, and you’d find yourself siding with her at how unfair life became for her. As with her dating life, one of the guys who dates her seem to be the perfect one, with all his manners and good looks, although at the end, she chooses someone she had been noticing before. It felt a bit anticlimatic for me since I like the other guy already. But then, that’s why there’s a sequel. ;)

Anyway, the novel is fun: a lot like Shopaholic, but a bit less shallow. :D And because it talks about singlehood and finding the perfect guy, it becomes an even more appropriate read for singletons like me. ;)

Flabbergasted (Ray Blackston)

Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston Rating: [rate 5]

Jay Jarvis just moved East.
His dating life’s gone south.
What else is a guy to do but go fishing?

Flabbergasted is a story of a twenty-something year old stockbroker who just moved to Greenville, South Carolina. Jay is not a serious Christian; in fact, he calls his religion “workaholic”, and it wasn’t until his real estate agent told him that in Greenville, the in thing are churches, not bars. So Jay drives to the North Hills Presbyterian Church, fully intending to meet females but he didn’t expect Ecuador missionary Allie Kyle to catch his eye. In order to get to know Allie, he volunteers to help out in their singles beach trip. There he meets his new best friend Steve, righteous-man-with-big-words Stanley, married surfer dude Ransom, The Numericals, Allie’s lime-green loving best friend Darcy (and her lime green Sherbet) and of course, Allie. Jay’s landing into the church feels so casual, and yet, “God had him at the collar” and was leading him into places he never would have imagined he would be.

Flabbergasted is a lad lit, a sub-genre of chick lit for men, where a twenty-something semi-successful man is the narrator. Reviews of this book are mixed; some of them really like this while some don’t. I fall in the former.

The novel, true to its nature, is very light and funny. The dialogues kept me laughing and giggling to myself while reading it and the characters are indeed so wacky but at the same time so real. I like how clean it is, with hardly any mention of sex or male enhancement or anything in that nature. The story is real enough in the sense that some people join religious groups to scope out some chicks or some boys, and while it’s not right, the novel shows that even with these kinds of intentions, God makes use of them to get us closer to Him.

Writing wise, some parts of the story are kind of hard to connect with each other, especially when the story suddenly turns into another part of Jay’s life. Some chapters are kind of skippable too, but they make up the story quite nicely. I think we will all see ourselves in Jay Jarvis as he eventually sees himself and what God wants for him. The ending is a bit obvious, but Jay’s realizations wraps it up really good.

It’s a good book, perfect for some light afternoon reading. :D

…I really just wanted to stay tight — tight to the south of God, right there in his shadow. Because outside of God’s shadow, I was just a gaudy plastic float filled with stubborn air, drifting off like a blind Jonah in search of Plan B, manipulating circumstances and wondering why I kept waking up in my very own Tarshish. But in God’s shadow I had been dazzled by the detour, amazed at the fraternity, and flabbergasted by the depth that comes from simplicity, from serving in a village that was shabby, green, and pulsing with life.”
– Jay Jarvis, p. 326

Savannah from Savannah (Denise Hildreth)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Savannah from Savannah by Denise HildrethI’m coming home to prove something..to my city, my mother, and myself.It is a place known to most as Savannah. It is a place known to me as home. I wish I could tell you it was my love for this city that precipitated my return. But I did not return out of a mere longing for home. I returned because I have something to prove to home. I am Savannah…from Savannah.

Savannah from Savannah is the first part of the trilogy of Savannah Phillips, a twenty-four year old woman who has been named by her mother after their beloved Georgia town, Savannah. Savannah had just finished graduate school when she learns two things: 1) her favorite newspaper writer back home passed away and 2) her novel was chosen by a New York publishing house and it will be considered for publishing and she should go to their awards night. After a bit of squealing and all, she notices that the letter has her mother’s name. She puts two and two together and realized that her mother Victoria (Vicky) pulled some strings to get her there. She decided to go home and apply at the newspaper to continue the legacy of her favorite writer and to show her mom just who she is and that she doesn’t need any help — especially her’s — to reach her dreams.

Or does she? Savannah goes back home ready to prove things to her mother, but it turns out she has a lot more to find out not only about her mother but also about herself. (What a cheesy way to put it. :p)

Continue reading Savannah from Savannah (Denise Hildreth)