Sunday, August 27, 2017

Weekly Links!

The hibiscus on my patio is gorgeous right now.


-This is funny: "Unrealistic Things in YA Books, Pt. 2"

-So is this: "Celebrating the Many Doubtful Looks of Princess Anne"

-This is long, but it kept my attention the entire time: "'Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God," by Brian Zahnd (Long Review)"

-Interesting: "Chemists Say You Should Add a Little Water to Your Whisky. Here's Why."

-This podcast from Writing Excuses was really helpful: "Structuring a Short Piece"

-Finally: "What Brands Are Actually Behind Trader Joe's Snacks?"

I hope what's left of your Sunday is peaceful and restful.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Sabbath Books

I found that I was reading more and more, and getting more and more discouraged. My heart was worn. The world kept looking uglier and uglier. And reading was…well, reading was becoming work. 
And, actually, it was okay with me that reading was work! Some things are good to know, but hard to read about. Most of the books in the world that are worth reading still have hard parts, or ugly parts, or even downright disagreeable parts. You read them anyway, because it’s worth doing the work of panning away the sand in order to get to those flakes of gold. 
But, friends, I had forgotten: Six days shall you labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest. 
I needed to read books that were pure rest.

Please head over to Alicia's place to read the rest!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Book Notes: "Quintessence," by David Walton

"Quintessence," by David Walton, is, as the back-cover copy says, set in "an alternate Age of Exploration" where "alchemy is a true science."

And that, right there, was just about all it took to sell me on this book. I'm fascinated by the Elizabethan age, and the metaphysical poets, and Shakespeare, and...and, and, and. In that time period, alchemy and science were sometimes pursued by very similar means, and the only difference between the two is that science ended up working and alchemy didn't.

So positing a world where that turned out differently is interesting from the start. And Walton followed it up with a nicely-paced plot and great description.

This is definitely a book where the setting is the strongest part of the story (and there were a couple of nice shout-outs to Lewis' Dawn Treader, if you keep your eyes open for them), but the characters worked, too. I especially liked that he had religious characters whose beliefs felt real, and integral to their personalities. They didn't all agree--you had Protestants, Catholics, and atheists, just for a start--but it felt like the author was determined to give them each their own best arguments, and not just throw up straw men for his heroes to knock back down.

(One possible exception is the Inquisitor character--but, granted, it's hard to make someone from the Spanish Inquisition sympathetic.)

I enjoyed this one. Walton gave me a new world, with fascinating new creatures, and a plot that kept me wondering what was going to happen next. Recommended if you enjoy the time period, or just like well-written speculative fiction.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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