Review Time

Craig Lancaster: Inspiration from Montana

Montana Sunset in 2009. Photo by me.

(Disclaimer: I am writing this post out of pure inspiration for the writer mentioned. I did not receive any payment for this.)

Have any of you all heard of Craig Lancaster? Maybe, maybe not. He’s one of those underrated writers…needs more publicity!

Craig is a Montana-based writer and has published two books so far, 600 Hours of Edward and The Summer Son. I have devoured both of them this year (ok, not literally). Both books touch on the theme of father-son relationships, but…I feel anyone from any walk of life could identify with the parent-child relationship.

Also, I find both books’ settings very intriguing (both set in Montana for the most part). Yes, I am biased in some ways, because I have been to Montana and I know how beautiful that state is. It’s refreshing to read fiction set in off-the-beaten-path places. I think we have enough books set in New York or San Francisco or wherever else (not that that’s entirely bad….). People need to give a chance to books set in small places/towns.

As for Craig himself, he is a very personable, kind man. I have had the chance to correspond with him via Twitter and Facebook; he responds in a timely manner and is always so gracious. I like that in any person I interact with, especially people who have more exposure to the public than I do. Shows that they don’t let the fame get to their head.

Anyway, I just want more people to check out Craig’s books. You won’t regret it! Below are links to buy the books and also brief summaries of my reviews of the books (via Goodreads):

600 Hours of Edward ($14 plus $4 S&H via Craig’s own website) – “600 Hours of Edward” was amazing to read. In many ways, I could relate to Edward’s illness. But, despite the illness, I could see how Edward had the same issues to grapple with like anyone else.

Sure, at times it got a little annoying to read about Edward’s timetable, but I also understood why he did the things he did. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is something that exists in basically everyone, but in varying degrees. (Side note: another cool thing about this book was that it was written during NaNoWriMo! Score.)

The Summer Son ($13.95 plus $4 S&H via Craig’s own website) – This is the kind of fiction I like.

It was fate for me to pick up “The Summer Son” and read it when I did. I gobbled up the whole book in 2-3 days because it was so riveting. The storyline, albeit about a father-son relationship that’s been tense for many years, spoke to my own current life situation so much.

Most importantly, the protagonist, Mitch, was very realistic, and not annoying (I’ve had my share of fiction with annoying protagonists in the past 2 years+). I could empathize with his internal struggles/thoughts about his father, someone he wanted to love more but couldn’t because of secrets/a past Mitch didn’t know about.

(Extra perk about purchasing the books directly from Craig: he signs each copy with special note!)

#amreading Review Time

Book Review: Will the World End in 2012?

Last Judgement - painted by Michelangelo and h...Image via Wikipedia

Note: Special post today because I just finished reading this book. Regular posts will be back on Tuesday!
I read Will the World End in 2012? With a skeptic mind due to the fact that I’ve been wishy-washy on all the theories of the “end of the world”. To say the least, the book was entertaining to read yet I also learned a little bit from it. There were a few theories I had never heard of before, and these theories were essentially shot down as possibilities of the end of the world in the book anyway.
What bothers me slightly is how Dr. Hundley and his publisher market the book as an unbiased look at the end of the world theories. The cover of the book clearly states the book is a Christian guide, and the book even ends with a few suggestions of how, if the reader was not a Christian before, he or she should consider bringing Christ into his or her life.
Look, I am a Christian, and I believe in sharing the word of God with others. But I’m not sure if Hundley’s efforts in writing and marketing this book for a “wider audience” would be effective unless his publisher specifically requested for the book to be stocked in the 2012 literature sections of major bookstores. If not, the book may only reach Christian readers, which, although that’ll still be a success for the book, it may not be as effective as Hundley had wanted it to be.
Overall though, I found that the book was easy-to-read and was insightful in other aspects. Recommended for those who are curious about all the 2012 theories floating out there (Hundley analyzes the ten most-popular theories).


I had finished reading this book late last night, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea since it made me feel a little agitated before bedtime. Yes, let’s read about fire and brimstone right before bedtime! But I only had part of the book left to read so I figured, why not.

On the subject of 2012, I seem to be surrounded by people who are poking at the end-of-the-world talk with jokes. For instance–

My brother: “Well, in terms of car loans, we can go with the 5-year-one because the world will end in 2012 and we won’t need to finish paying off the car!”

At least some of us can look at the situation with a chuckle.

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Review: Lucado’s "Fearless" Quashes Unnecessary Worries

Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Max Lucado is a pro at writing inspirational books, and “Fearless” further confirms that fact. Each chapter opens up with scenarios/small stories to warm the reader up for the topic of the chapter. Lucado includes many aspects of the Bible throughout the text just to prove more and more that people should not fear so much, that God has taken care of many of our fears/worries.

This was a great book for me to read while recovering from a car accident; definitely a good way to get my mind back on track.

View all my reviews >>

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Megan McCafferty: One Smart Writer

Back in the summer, I’d mentioned about my book genre preferences. And as that entry stated, even though I’m open to all genres, I prefer certain ones over others (as does everyone else). For awhile, I hadn’t wanted to venture into Chick Lit mainly because I honestly felt like “Well, I already know what it feels like to be a girl, so why read about all that angst?”

That was before I started reading Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series.

I was yoked in immediately through the first book, feeling like I was going down memory lane, re-living a parallel universe of my high school years. Albeit mundane, the plot has drawn in so many readers, because they can relate to the protagonist, Jessica Darling. McCafferty’s skill at writing the series is what impresses me the most though; anybody can write about the tumultuous years of high school through college, but can they do it as well as McCafferty?

Earlier this year, I read an article about what Sesame Street can teach writers to do: to write in “the monster at the end of the book”. This is where a writer knows how to draw readers in with a bit of a promise of a “treat” by the end of the book. McCafferty has honed this craft well with the 5-book series, making skeptical readers (like myself) keep on reading, trying to search for that monster at the end…

I flew through the first few books in the series within a few days of starting the books; that’s just how easy yet well-written they are. The language is simple (as if I myself were Jessica Darling writing the diary entries out), and, well, the story is one that many of us can relate to.

I’m looking forward to reading the last of the books in the series, and I hope to hone my craft as well as McCafferty has.

#amreading Review Time

Ryu Murakami’s "Coin Locker Babies": Drawing in an Audience

For the past week, I’ve been engrossed in Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami (see the picture, left). My friend had shown it to me about a month ago, and, just by reading the front cover flap, I felt intrigued by the subject matter.

The book is roughly 300+ pages, but already I’m nearing the end of the book after only reading it for one week. The first sentence immediately drew me in, and, although a few parts have been a little slow in reading (Murakami likes to focus on descriptions/lists), the book in general has been very satisfying for me to read.

It’s books like these that make me feel really inspired: the writer takes a unique topic, twists it into this fantastical plot, and keeps going with it. Murakami is really talented in drawing the audience into the book fully. Although I haven’t read any of his other works yet, the reviews I have come across for his other novels have been nothing but positive ones.

I have to admit, the subject matter in this book may not be for those who get a queasy stomach (some parts become a bit too graphic), but it’s all very well written. I didn’t even realize that this book was meant to be somewhat “futuristic” until I noticed the story’s timeframe and the publication date of the novel (the novel was published in 1980; the story is set in the late 1980s).

I’m certainly looking forward to reading more of Murakami’s works, and I do believe I have found some spot of inspiration from this reading episode.