The Core of the Sun

coreofThis book was on fire! (sorry I had to make the joke). This has been one of my top reads for this year. I sped through this book in a day and a half. The edition I had clocks in at 304 pages and was soft cover.

Johanna Sinisalo is a female Finnish author of multiple Fantasy and Sci-Fi works. She is the recipient of multiple awards for her writing and was awarded the “Prometheus Award for Best Novel” for this book, The Core of the Sun. Her writing is unique, expressive and has been coined “Finnish Weird”. The Core of the Sun written in 2016, is her most recent work.

The Core of the Sun takes place in Finland. It has been turned into a society where women are raised to be submissive, unquestioning eye candy who sole purpose is to fulfill the man they are with. They are given no voice and no rights other than what their husbands may give them. Beauty is prized above all and intellect is looked at as a disease to be subdued.

There are 2 castes of women in this society. One is called the Eloi. These are women that possess traits such as physical beauty, submissiveness and basically act like the crew of girls from that movie “Mean Girls”. The other group of women that don’t fit in this group are called morclocks. These are women who have brains over beauty. As young children, each girl is given an aptitude test to see where they may fall. The smarter, more dominant women tend to end up as morlocks, which basically amounts to being shunned by society. Think of it as being the brown tootsie roll pop in the bag. You may look like the others but let’s face it, they are just gross.

The main character Vanna is a blip in this system as she is highly intelligent but also extremely beautiful. Early on, she realizes that in order to stay with her sister, Manna, (who is the quintessential eloi), Vanna must pretend not to be smart in public. Therefore, she secretly reads books on every subject. These books are smuggled in to her and must be hidden under ground when she is not reading them. Through a chain of events, Vanna and Manna end up having a sort of falling out over a man that comes to stay with them. The man is attracted to Vanna because of many of the things that she is not supposed to have, like intelligence and the ability to reason. As a result, Manna blindly finds the first man she can and marries him. The relationship is rocky and she ends up disappearing without a trace. Vanna feels responsible for Manna’s blind leap into marriage and spends most of the book searching for her. Much of the interaction the reader has with Vanna revolves around letters written to the disappeared Manna and it is not until the closing chapter that we find out what has happened to her.

Much of the book involves chili peppers as well. In the future, Finland has eradicated any thing that could be addictive such as alcohol, tobacco and drugs. However, in people’s desperate search for a “high” they have turned to chili peppers and the high they get through the effects of capsaicin. Capsaicin is the fiery chemical in peppers that regulates the amount of burn you feel when you eat them. In the book, Vanna becomes a capsaicin drug user and dealer. It is through this desperate search for a bigger and better pepper high that she ends up being part of a project that creates the hottest pepper ever known called you guessed it…The Core of the Sun. It is interesting to see how anything can become addictive given the chance.

This is definitely a unique and interesting take on dystopian literature. While I was reading, I thought about the small changes and tweaks that are made to society all the time to mold it one way or another. I believe this is a cautionary tale about identity and the damage that can be done when we pretend to be someone or something we are not. It is very Handsmaid Tale-ish crossed with Chili Peppers. Its hot stuff (no pun intended)!

 

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Starting Back Up!

maxresdefaultIt sure has been a while since I wrote on this blog (2 years, I am the mayor of Loserville). However, I have still been reading like a rabid monkey. My tastes have changed a little but my love of books has not. We are still in a very real and committed relationship. As I thought about why I wanted to start the blog back up, it really came down to 3 things.

I created the Intentional Reader for a couple of reasons.

  1. First, I love to read. Reading isn’t just a hobby for me, it is a passion. A hobby is something you do in your spare time when you get a chance. A passion or something you are passionate about is something that is a core part of you and drives you each day.
  2. Second, I love learning and growing. The most effective vehicle to growth and learning is books. Fiction, Non-Fiction, Graphic Novels, Poetry, Memoirs, Biographies, Children’s Lit – all these point us toward something new and grow our minds and imagination.  There are plenty of things that expand our minds but I still believe books are the best resource available.
  3. Finally, I want to help others on their journey. Maybe you read my review and read the same book and say that I’m an idiot for posting that I liked the book. That’s awesome! You engaged the book and moved forward a step. I’ve grown just as much through books I didn’t like and as through the books that brought me the most joy.

A little about me – I’m just an average guy who happens to be married to an above average girl and has three radically awesome kids. Obviously love reading and coffee. Known to sing in the shower and occasionally use 80’s movies as philosophical advice. I’ve been known to ask Alexa and Siri to play Bon Jovi much to my kids’ chagrin.

I realize there are thousands upon thousands of book review sites that most likely are much better but I hope that this one will push you forward in your love of the written word.

Hope you share the journey with me.

Monster

monsterOn a scale of 1 to 5, I’d give this one a 3. But, don’t let that keep you from reading this book! Monster (by A. Lee Martinez) mixes humor, fantasy and fiction all together to create a reality where magic is real but going extinct. Dionysus Monster, the main character of the book, is a monster catcher. Much like a dog catcher, he is called in to catch monsters on the loose. Anything from Yeti to Hydra are his domain. Problem is, he is pretty mediocre at his job and well at his life in general. Once he meets Judy though, things begin to change. Under attack constantly from Judy’s subconscious, Monster must deal with rogue monsters bent on getting him. Judy does not know she is doing this to Monster and no one is even sure how she is doing it. I’ll let you read the rest of the book to keep from spoiling it for you…

Suffice to say, this is a book about growth. It is lame in several areas. The dialogue could use help and the plot is sketchy. But beneath all that, is the story of Monster’s growth from being mediocre and self absorbed to becoming admirable and involved in life.

The most memorable quote from the book for me was “Being a good person is more than just not being a bad person”. Simple yet good advice.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy and fun read, this is your book. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

The Gospel as Center

gospel-as-centerWhat is the center of your life? Is it family, your job, your sports team, money, possessions? There are so many things that vie for our allegiance. And more than that, not only our allegiance, but our ownership. I once heard someone say, “Whatever we own, owns us”. That is true in so many aspects.

A book I received quite a while back has been slowly helping me re-center on what is the core of my whole life. This book is titled, “The Gospel as Center”. It is a collaboration of essays by a great set of minds and thinkers in the evangelical (and overall reformed) world. This book builds a theological foundation on what is essentially the core of all aspects of theology, the Gospel. One thing I enjoyed most about this book was seeing the way the different writers tackled each subject. I love when great minds come together and tackle a project with a mission of proclaiming the Gospel.

This book may be a little technical and academic in some areas. Therefore, its readership may not reach a big audience, but it probably deserve to be read and read slowly by all of us that are constantly battling relativism in ministry and mainstream life.

Readership will most likely be those involved in full time ministry or para-ministry leadership.

The Lost Art of Reading

8518218Obviously I like reading. No wait, love is a better word. Give me a library over a sports game any day of the week. Half Price Bookstores are fatal to my bank account. And my kids usually shout, “We are not going to a bookstore today!” whenever we go out somewhere together.

Reading takes up a lot of my spare time. It is vitally important to me. I will read most anything at anytime anywhere. We recently packed stuff up for a move and I had quite a few big boxes of books, like 10 or 12!

Unfortunately, reading has fallen on hard times. Internet, TV, game systems, etc. have taken away reading’s stronghold in most everyone’s life. That is why I love books like “The Lost Art of Reading by David Ulin.

Ulin shares with the reader why reading is essential. Imagination, cognition and relationship skills are all wrapped up in reading and reading well. One main assertion of this book is that we need to disengage from electronic media and return to the lost art of reading. In fact, Ulin describes reading as a revolutionary act against our culture and its demands.

This is a small book both physically and length wise. It comes in at 150 pages. Ulin is a book critic for the Los Angeles Times. Take some time to read this important work of why reading is so important. You’ll learn that reading is its own reward.

Other thoughts:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R291AEX0Y15PKN/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1570616701

http://www.amazon.com/review/R2RC63ELPB81IV/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1570616701

“The Heavens: Intimate Moments with Your Majestic God”

9781404189997I can still remember my first telescope. It was one of those cheap Wal-mart type ones that you can buy for like $30. Basically, it was a glorified binocular. I’m not sure how much of space I saw but that dinky little telescope changed my life. From the moment I stared into the lens and saw the moon, I was hooked on stargazing.

Space always has something new to reveal. So often we limit space to our little corner of the milky way, but with each new day some new planet or star or celestial object is being uncovered. It reminds me of two things. 1. How infinitely small I am. 2. How infinitely great and glorious God is.

In “The Heavens”, Kevin Hartnett shares a similar mindset. Each day and devotion reveals to the reader something remarkable about outer space. How does this get you closer to God? It reminds you that God is the creator and has everything under control. Beautiful photography along with a great book layout make this a daily devotional you wont want to miss out on.

In our all too busy and hectic lives, it is nice to find something that can give you a moment’s rest and meditation. Buy this book and begin praising our majestic God.

Other resources:

http://www.ccmmagazine.com/article/the-heavens-intimate-moments-with-your-majestic-god/

http://www.amazon.com/review/R3NRNTVFA8FPO3/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1404189998

“The Fight”

UBB-TheFightbyLukeWordleyBoxing intrigues me. To me, fighting has always been something I’ve shied away from. I’m definitely not one of those guys who tries to prove himself by being tough or getting into fights. I am a trained blackbelt but even that has never made me crave fighting. In fact, it taught me just the opposite; the very harshness, danger and consequences of using our bodies as weapons.

With that being said though, boxing is a sport of focus. You must learn your opponent and anticipate his next move and yours at the same time. Split second decision making is not only required, it is imperative. In Luke Wordley’s newest book, “The Fight”, the reader sees the positive impact boxing can have on a life.

Sam Pennington is an angry kid who has lost everything. A dead father, a drunk mother and the harshness of moving into public housing has led Sam to his breaking point. It is at this breaking point that he comes to a crossroads. After a particularly brutal fight, Sam is introduced to Jerry Ambrose, a boxing trainer. Jerry takes Sam under his wing and Sam begins to discover a hidden talent and passion for boxing.

The story is redemptive in nature and deals with the core of what happens to our lives when our emotions rule us. It is also a coming of age story for Sam. This is a longer book at 380 pages but the story keeps your attention and drives home some important messages.

All of us has demons and skeletons that resurface from time to time and we all must learn how to deal with them or we will be ruled by them. We all have a “fight” we must engage in. How will yours turn out?

Other “Fight” thoughts:

http://christianbookshopsblog.org.uk/2012/02/25/a-novel-to-fight-over-introducing-luke-wordley-and-the-fight/

https://jimkane.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/my-review-of-luke-wordleys-the-fight/