Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Doing Vs. Being; Or, Too Many Rules

A few days ago, I was finishing my coffee and reading The Ten Commandments (not just the actual commandments) by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I didn’t get very far. I was only on the third page of the first chapter when I saw a mention of a person not wanting to attend church because there were “too many rules”.

I hear this quite a lot when I get into discussions about church and established religion. (Oh, that terrible established religion!) It’s generally the same: too many rules, too much pressure to “be good”, the people are judgmental, etc. However, growing up attending church from infancy, I’ve never felt that same pressure. Which leads to only two conclusions: Perhaps the “pressure” comes from within oneself, rather than outside; or I am brainwashed.

A large portion of people who read this will automatically leave, knowing that I am, in fact, brainwashed, and can get on with their day without feeling the least bit uncomfortable. But is that the only reason anyone enjoys church? Or is there more?

Other than the Starbucks in the foyer, that is.

I think where a lot of people get put off to Christianity and the church isn’t necessarily with the people. (Although I can see someone attending Westboro Baptist Church one day, promptly assuming a Lovecraft-style expression, and never changing that expression for the rest of their days. But I digress.) What happens is that they see the “good” behavior of Christians and immediately assume they are acting entirely by a set of rules.

Well they are. But not just the rules.

Let me explain. As a child, I knew I had to behave a certain way because God and my parents told me to. But as I grew older, I began to realize there was much more to this behavior than just acting by rules. Take, for example, the idea of sex before marriage. This is something that is becoming accepted, or at least tolerated, in many Christian circles. After all, it’s not hurting anyone. Is it?

Even science is on our side, however. When one engages in an act of sex, the body releases chemicals that, for lack of a better phrase, cause one to start becoming attached to the partner. In other words, even people who claim that they are just in it “for sex” and nothing else may very well be more attached to the other person than they wish to admit, or may even understand. While listening to the pop radio station one day, a girl called in to the host complaining about how she hooked up with a nice guy the night before, but now he keeps texting her and wanting to see her. They had never met before their little “interlude”.

So engaging in an act that becomes more emotional than you plan, in a relationship that could end much more easily than a marriage, is a recipe for disaster. In marriage, unless you just know how to pick ‘em and find the biggest loser on the face of the planet, there will be reluctance to have that relationship end. Why? Because they made a vow. Even the average person tends to take a serious promise, well, seriously. So, as I said, unless someone is dumb enough to pick a jerk who doesn’t take it seriously, the marriage will be a way of protecting oneself from emotional pain.

Not to mention…I mean, doing that with someone with the idea, “Oh, I’ll probably wind up finding someone else a few years down the road”? And people wonder why STD’s are becoming so widespread.

And therein lies my point. Sin has natural consequences. These aren’t just arbitrary rules made by a God determined to make your life as boring as possible. To say that essentially makes you sound like a whiny fifteen year old. “But Moooooom no one else cares if Johnny is ten years older than me and just got out of prison! You don’t want me to have any fun!”

This is why I appreciate Orthodoxy so much. The Greek word for sin essentially means “missing the mark”. It isn’t a rule you broke, but how far off the mark of behaving in a godly fashion you are. Which, in some ways, makes it more uncomfortable for people. What do you mean, arriving at church half an hour late could be missing the mark? I’m here, aren’t I?

Sin isn’t simply breaking a rule. It’s acting in a way that continues to separate one from God and righteousness. Why do you think Jesus informed the Pharisees that lusting after a woman is the same as committing adultery? Because it is. Apparently the Pharisees were trying to justify their drooling over the chicks by saying “Well we aren’t acting on it so it’s okay right?” Nope. Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments by saying “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Why? Not because the Ten Commandments are suddenly invalid, but because those two sum up the spirit behind the Ten Commandments.

In other words, what many see as people acting entirely by a set of unnatural rules are actually people behaving in a way that is growing more and more natural for them. We live in a fallen world, and godly behavior is not going to come easily to us, at least at first.

I know a young couple who had a child out of wedlock. As they began to attend a local church, they decided to get married.

Several years later their marriage fell apart. I can give you many reasons why. They were constantly arguing, even over little things, and each refused to give the other the benefit of the doubt or the slightest leeway. If there was disagreement, each was doing it on purpose to hurt the other. And then the woman in the relationship decided to go have a fling. She had no reason whatsoever to do this, or if she did she refused to admit it. She just…did.

Afterward she began talking about how they simply weren’t ready for marriage, and how it was the pressure and judgmental attitudes of people at church that forced them into it.

No sense of personal responsibility for this. It was simply pressure to “be good”. And unfortunately, the young woman still believes this “being good” is based entirely on rules she thinks herself incapable of following.

Godliness comes, not from merely “following rules”, but from incorporating the spirit of the rules into our lives. We don’t follow rules simply because we are told to. We follow these “rules” because they help us grow closer to God.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

BOOM.

Surprise Come to Cthulhu Moment!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Third post in three days? What is this world coming to??

But I have a lot of back reviews I haven't posted yet. First off I'm going to do my Debra White Smith reviews, which won't take long. Then I shall start posting my Parody 5 series. Yes, I went through and parodied every single Babylon 5 episode. Okay, I haven't done all of them, but I'm going to finish them. They're a combination of utter nonsense and obscure geek references. And if you haven't seen Babylon 5 they may be amusing but will make not the least bit sense.

With that...onto my first review.


One of the most fascinating and wonderful aspects of Jane Austen’s novels is their relevance. It is rare to find a book that touches a chord in its readership a hundred years down the line. Those that do touch a chord are rightly called classics.

The unfortunate part of this resilience is that sometimes chords are touched in some very strange ways. (Not that way, you pervert!) The strangest, of course, involves fanfiction, and I will not go into most of that, only to say that a particular crossover between Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice has left me somewhat…traumatized. The only thing that saved my sanity was the fact that this was posted on PotterSues, a site dedicated solely to mocking horrible fanfiction to the utmost.

It also takes the form of strange sequels in which an entire novel of character development is undone (What? Emma and Knightley separated? Bingley cheating on Jane? Who Writes This Crap?), at which point the sequels become nothing more than glorified fanfiction themselves.

However, for every bad sequel, interpretation (Fanny is not a hypocritical Pharisee fool!), and psyche-scarring drivel, there are spin-offs, sequels, and modern updates that are refreshing and fun. I’ve already raved about the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mysteries, and I did quite enjoy Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen mysteries. I need not go into all the movies, save to say the majority I’ve seen are decent and fun to watch. However, the modern updates can sometimes get tricky. Modern sensibilities, as a whole, are rather different from those in the Regency era. If someone mentioned their little sister ran off to Chicago with some soldier boy, many people would shrug and say “Eh, she’ll live and learn.” Only in a few circles would the little sister be an object of pity, contempt, or shock.

This is where Debra White Smith can succeed quite nicely. Jane Austen’s novels, whatever people may say, are thoroughly Christian novels. They are embedded in Christian mores and ethics, and trying to take that away makes them seem rather empty. Austen’s personal letters and writings show a definite Christian side that cannot be explained away by habit. (But of course, the real question is, did she have a personal relationship with Jesus? BOOM! Surprise Come To Jesus moment!) Debra White Smith, as a Christian author, can carry over these storylines without losing that particular part of them. Does she always succeed? Not always. But those that succeed do so quite well.

Reason and Romance:

This one, quite obviously, is the update of Sense and Sensibility. I thought this succeeded well on most counts. Elaina Woods unexpectedly falls for the shy musician Ted Farris, who wishes to be a music minister, but whose family wants him to become a famous concert pianist. Anna Woods becomes nearly obsessed with Willis Kenney the Dr. Pepper ad star. (Gotta admit, I got a kick out of that.) Meanwhile, the local doctor, Brian,  pines quietly away for Anna. Smith did a good job of carrying this one over. I especially thought the Mrs. Jennings character was well done (and she gives a shout out with the woman’s love for green olives). However, the one part that doesn’t work so well is the secret engagement. It just doesn’t make sense in a modern context. In the original book, we see Edward as upright and honorable for keeping his engagement to Lucy, especially when his inheritance was practically all the money he had. To jilt her would be treating her dishonorably, as the engagement is secret and she has no way of defending herself, and once the engagement is public, jilting her publicly would have an effect on her reputation, which is all she has. In this book, “Ted” seems much more of a weenie. He is perfectly capable of getting a job on his own, and his staying with the Lucy character seems less honorable and more like he is one of those men who have chronic “knight in shining armor” syndrome-Woman in distress? I’ll save her with my love!

I’m not entirely sure how the secret engagement could carry over into modern terms, since we don’t have the same problems of maintaining gentility as they did in nineteenth century England. Overall, it was a good book.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

This is the sort of book I would recommend for anyone to read, simply for its sheer inventiveness. I’ve yet to watch the movie, which I’ve heard is very unlike the book (but that it was so good Diana Wynne Jones still loved it).

The premise is set in a fantasy style setting, though time period is never specified (indeed, given that they basically go dimension hopping, it’s not surprising). Sophie is the eldest of three girls, and per rules of fairy tales, the oldest girl never prospers. So, after their father dies, her two sisters are sent out in the world to learn amazing skills, while Sophie is left helping her stepmother run the family’s hat shop.

But this is not your usual fairy tale, and soon Sophie finds herself in a very strange situation indeed. The Witch of the Waste arrives, accuses Sophie of somehow meddling in her plans, and before Sophie can figure out what’s going on, the Witch has turned her into an old woman!

Rather than stay and explain what happened, Sophie decides to make her own way. To this end she heads on down the road, and finds herself feeling free, since old people are allowed to be eccentric. She finds herself at the Wizard Howl’s castle, a strange flying building that has recently set down near Sophie’s village. Howl supposedly likes to catch young girls and collect their souls, but Sophie figures she’s safe since she is now old. She  bullies her way past Howl’s apprentice and strikes up a deal with Howl’s fire demon Calcifer. If she can figure out how to free him, he’ll help her figure out how to change back to a young girl.

So Sophie winds up being housekeeper for the very messy Howl, his hapless apprentice, and Calcifer, while Howl gallivants about between wizarding jobs, flirting with girls, and trying to escape the Witch of the Waste, who is apparently mad at him as well. They all make for a very amusing quartet.

In the end, this is nothing more than a coming of age book, albeit a strange one. Sophie gains confidence once she stops worrying about society’s expectations. And she matures because, well, one really ought to be mature if they’re in their 70’s or 80’s, shouldn’t they?

It’s really a funny book. Sophie’s blooming confidence (to the point of being able to bully people quite well when called for), Calcifer’s snarkiness, and Howl’s airheaded behavior makes for some very interesting dialogue and a fun story.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

For years, Jacob believed his grandfather’s fantastical stories about an old refugee home during World War II, and how he spent his life fighting monsters. But as Jacob grew older he stopped believing. After a family crisis, he and his father set off for the Welsh island where the refugee home stands, in hopes of finding out more about Grandpa than he was willing to tell. There, however, Jacob learns that the “peculiar” children Grandpa spoke of may have been real…and may still be alive.

This is a very unique, fun novel, one that goes fast and keeps your attention to the very end. The author, Ransom Riggs, also a professional photographer, had people search for old photographs, and it is these photos that are peppered throughout the book and referenced in the text. Jacob is a believable teenage protagonist without verging into what I call “wangst” territory. Even very minor characters are well rounded and alive, and it feels very colorful despite most of the novel taking place on a rainy island in Wales. Riggs also does well in conveying the lilt of the Welsh accent without using annoying phonetic spelling for everything.

One of my few gripes is the atmosphere of the novel. At first it starts out quite creepy, and that feeling sticks…until halfway through, when suddenly it turns into a fantasy novel. Not that I mind the fantasy part of it, but the sudden change in atmosphere was a bit jarring. I got used to it after a while, though.

Others might have problems with the ending. It was a bit of a cliff hanger, and one particular part I felt was not concluded properly, especially if you think about the aftermath. However, overall I enjoyed the ending, bittersweet as it was.

This is a book that will appeal to nearly everyone, between the engaging story and the fascinating photos the author has used. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5.

It also seems there will be a movie out next year. I expect special effects galore.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Marble Hornets: Season 3 Predictions

I was going to post another book review, but having just finished rewatching the series so far, I feel I should post my predictions for what Season 3 has in store.

With the onslaught of tweets from our somewhat herp-derp narrator, I feel that Season 3 is nearly upon us. Therefore, I am going to post my predictions on the ending, similar to what I did for Harry Potter. Except, in reading Harry Potter, I had a decent idea of what was going on, what the villains wanted, and the goals of the minor characters. Here, I have little idea what is happening, beyond Jay breaking into more buildings, we still haven’t the foggiest why the Operator likes to stalk/annoy college students, and Tim’s activities seem limited to either A.) Smoking cigarettes or B.) Stalking Jay while wearing a theater mask and making bizarre videos that convey basically nothing. My predictions may be a bit hazy and off the mark.


First off, I believe the next set of tweets we get from Jay will be something like the following:

“Going to try and look around the antique store some more.”

“A lot of this stuff in here looks like Alex’s things.”

“Felt something hit me on the head. Woke up in this dark place. Don’t know where I am.”

“Heard an engine start up. Sounds like that delivery truck driver is laughing.”

“We’ve been driving for a while. Wish I could see something. *twit pic of darkness*”

“I hear banjo music.”

Jay escapes via running away really fast, and finds they were only a few minutes from his hotel, and that Trucky had really been doing donuts in a parking lot the whole time while listening to bluegrass. He finds that his laptop has been messed with, and that a video had been posted while he was away. The video is a full six minutes of Tim smoking.

After several more days of posting to his public Twitter about trying to stalk Tim, Jay gets the bright idea to follow a trail of cigarette butts into Rosswood Park, not realizing Trucky is following him. He finds Tim smoking cigarettes in the Tunnel of Doom, and he tries to ask him what the thing with the stalking and the mask is about. But then Trucky arrives! He takes Tim’s cigarettes, but before he can do much else, falls into an acute angle and disappears through time. It is then Jay realizes how much Trucky resembles Beardy. At this point Tim whips out his mask, dons it, utters some cryptic phrase, and dashes off.

Jay decides to spend some more time stalking Tim and talking about it on his Twitter, until finally Tim signs up for a Twitter account and tells him, in a very cryptic way, that talking about stalking someone on Twitter isn’t a good idea. Jay has trouble understanding this.

After many videos, some involving harrowing encounters of hitting Tim in the head with things, and a few involving the Operator popping up randomly and looming, Jay spots Alex in the woods at Rosswood Park. He follows him quietly and discreetly, meaning Alex knows he is there the entire time. Alex leads him deeper into the woods, to discover…

Why, it’s the whole cast of Marble Hornets! They’re living in a hippie commune off the abundance of nature, since everything grows in Rosswood Park so well. It turns out the Operator is just a nature spirit trying to get people to stop using technology. Alex was afraid Jay was not going to go along with the plan, and attempted to kill him to save Mother Earth. However, Jay is fine with the idea. Shortly afterward, Tim arrives, and upon discovering their plan, sheds his mask (and his clothes…they’re one with nature there after all) and joins them. Alex explains he really broke Tim’s leg and left him in an abandoned building so Tim could learn to survive without technology. Trucky/Beardy is there as well, and says that he and Alex faked his death to lure Jay in. The series ends with an impromptu singalong about taking care of the Earth.

THE END




But seriously I have no idea what’s going to happen. BRING ON SEASON 3.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

You know, Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap. Between people who say “I don’t need this day to prove my love!” and those who say “WHY DOES IT MATTER I HAVE NO ONE?”, it just seems really depressing.



And of course, there are always snarky remarks involving Hallmark cards.


But I think everyone needs to take a step back and actually look at the day itself, not the trappings surrounding it. (Personally I think this goes for any commercialized holiday, but I digress.)

First off, who was Valentine? (Which sounds a lot like “who was phone”, but until someone names their kid “Phone” it will be different.)

Not much is known about him. The myth that he married soldiers before they went off to war is just that-a myth. What he was known to do was marry and give aid to Christians at a time when everyone’s favorite entertainment was seeing one of those “blasphemers” get eaten by lions. He also purportedly healed the blind daughter of a judge, and the judge’s family converted as a result. The emperor was pretty fine with him until Valentine tried to convert him, upon which he was beaten and beheaded. (Anyone else notice how often they had to behead saints to get rid of them? I’m thinking Highlander.)

What is all this about, then? Well, it wasn’t originally about romantic love. You can thank Chaucer for that. But since we’re on the topic of love, I want to point out something.

Love isn’t just those mushy fluttery feelings one gets around a love interest. Romantic love might be that, but love goes beyond that. For example, the reason some couples stay together so long isn’t because they have the fluttery feelings all the time, but that they continue to do loving things for one another even when they’re not particularly fluttery. And on that note love can extend to others, since it isn’t centered just on romance. Love can be shown through a kind act, a simple hug, an encouraging word.

Today, as Dale and I were heading out the door to have breakfast, we found our old Chinese neighbor outside cleaning off cars. And then we noticed he had cleaned ours as well, and was moving on to others. This? This was an act of love. On a cold snowy day he scraped and clean cars so no one else had to.

So, the moral of the story is that Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be about being mushy with your significant other (though that’s fun as well). If you don’t have one, do something nice for someone else. Give a coworker a candy bar. Something. You don’t even have to buy a Hallmark card.

(All information about St. Valentine taken from Wikipedia.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Hmm. In my eagerness over the third book, I forgot to post a review of the second. Well, here goes.


Poor Dexter. He’s supposed to be our Dark Avenger, but at the beginning of this book he is forced to play the domestic man, playing kick the can with his girlfriend Rita’s kids and pretending to be the devoted boyfriend. All because of Sergeant Doakes.

Our dear Sergeant Doakes is quite convinced at this point that Dexter is a serial killer. He’s entirely right, and he has taken to following Dexter. Everywhere. Why Dexter doesn’t issue a formal complaint with his coworkers is anyone’s guess, but either way he cannot go out hunting evil. His life is dull routine.

However, a plot must happen, one way or another, and it happens in the most gruesome way. This is no killer they’re hunting-rather a man who has taken his victim, mutilated the man beyond help, and left him alive. Dexter refers to this as a “yodeling potato”, which is one of those instances where you’re laughing and shuddering at the same time. (Lindsay is good at getting that reaction.) However, very soon the feds step in and take it over, and it seems Doakes and the government man sent to deal with the problem are acquainted.

While Dexter’s sister Debra and the government man Chutsky get very closely acquainted, Dexter spends his time between pretending to be a good boyfriend and researching what is happening. He soon discovers that Doakes, Chutsky-and the “yodeling potato”-were part of a special ops team in South America. And then Chutsky disappears…

I can’t say this was as good as the first book, but it was still decent. In some ways it was more disturbing due to the nature of the antagonist. However, the book does convey Dexter’s sense of frustration very well. You want Doakes to just go get a life so our protagonist can go back to killing bad guys. For some reason there seemed to be less comedy in this one, maybe because the antagonist was much creepier than the last one. Still, a good read, and bonus points for the concept of owning an “attack peacock”.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl Update

Well, we lost. It was quite surprising, and rather unpleasant. However, as I said before, I was not too emotionally invested in the game. I was chiefly confused by Madonna’s EgyptiRomaNorse Cheerleading squad, and trying to understand whether or not she had been reading the Necromonicon beforehand.


As for my threat? It…didn’t pan out so well.

Immediately afterward I used a closet to teleport to Alabama (closet teleportation is all the rage these days, you know) and attempted to steal Tim’s mask. Naturally, TiMasky did not take kindly to my trying to steal the Magic Theater Mask™, and very frankly told me to bugger off. Upon which Alex came out of nowhere and started playing a trumpet. Rather frightened by all these happenings, I ducked back into the Teleportation Closet™ and fled home.

My original plan for punishing the Patriots having failed, I decided instead to use the Necromonicon to send Cthulhu to the Patriots’ stadium. Obviously the entire incident was covered up.

Rumors of Cthulhu meeting the Giant Spider at the Jets’ stadium are, of course, ridiculous and nonsensical.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Consequences of Enthusiasm

It appears I posted my review of the third Dexter novel before I posted my review of the second. The second will be done within the next few days. But today...today I must speak on something dear to my heart.

Okay, not so dear. The only reason the Super Bowl isn't a total bore to me this year is because I think the Patriots are all right (and I believe they were quite mean to the Packers, who as you know are the enemies again), and I'm not too fond of the Giants. So I can take sides that aren't entirely meaningless. This does mean that my threats aren't going to be quite as severe.

But Patriots...do win. I really don't like the Giants. If you lose, I'm not going to send a giant monster rampaging through your town. Not a spider. Not Cthulhu (I think he's already there, actually, it being New England and all). No, nothing terrible. But if you lose, I will develop this strange compulsion to don a theater mask, break into your house, and make cryptically silly videos about you. This might, I'm afraid, have the side effect of causing you to be stalked by the Slender Man. Of course, this may already be happening to you if you have wifed in the club once too often. But I digress.

If you win this game, you need not give up any twenniez whatsoever. And that is my final word on the matter.

Love, Erica.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review: Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay

Those who know me also know precisely how I feel about “Scooby Doo” reveals. They usually see my eye start twitching, see me chewing my tongue in vain, and simply wait for the outburst to occur. I’m not entirely sure why this happens. The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of those sorts of stories, and it’s on my top ten list for favorite books to re-read. And yet, whenever I read it, a part of me always says, “Oh, come on, why can’t Holmes just be stumped by the supernatural for once?” Of course, when I did find a book like that, it…was all right, but it wasn’t that great. So maybe it’s better the way it is.

All this to say, I generally dislike those types of endings. This is the reason I’ve decided not to struggle through the first flowery chapters of Udolpho and Emily’s Incorruptible Pure Pureness. And this, I have to say, is why I don’t like the Dexter TV series as much as the books. Why? On the TV series, Dexter’s Dark Passenger seems to manifest as his adoptive father, indicating it’s all just part of his own psyche. In the books?

The Dark Passenger’s a frikking demon.

That’s right, I gave it away, although I’m going to use a Mom line and say it was pretty painfully obvious from the start. Dexter constantly treats the Passenger as a separate entity, frequently talks about “invisible black wings” and “sibilant giggles”. Does This Remind You Of Anything?

Now Lindsay never goes into detail about whether this is a demon in the truest Judeo-Christian sense, or if we’re in one of those stories where demons are simply just malevolent spiritual entities.

Either way, this book made me very happy, because Lindsay didn’t handwave some explanation about “oh it’s his psyche we all know he’s crazy so there ya go”. And with that out of the way, onto the review.

After a very bizarre first chapter indeed, which might make you think of Stephen King, we find Our Anti-Hero in the midst of wedding plans. Dexter is not happy, nor is the Passenger, but that doesn’t matter, because the plot happens quickly enough. They find two dead girls whose bodies are burned and whose heads have been replaced with ceramic bull heads. Everyone is confused, but the Passenger immediately goes into hiding. And with a dangerous Watcher dogging Dexter’s every step, the Passenger soon just up and leaves, and Dexter is left to face the danger alone, while trying to piece together the mystery.

This is one of my favorites, even though Dexter sort of sulks through the whole thing, because of the supernatural element to it. I actually guessed who the antagonist was pretty quickly, and I suppose you can thank all those years of Bible reading for it. It was interesting to see how Lindsay was able to weave such a strange subplot into an otherwise ordinary (somewhat ordinary) story, and I thought he did an excellent job. Unfortunately he never goes back to this sort of thing (somewhat like Carrie Bebris, who apparently caught flack for inserting the supernatural into her Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mysteries, and hasn’t done it since the second book), though the books still continue to entertain.

There was less humor in this one, because Dexter does spend quite a lot of time being rather depressed, but it still had its moments, and I found overall the book was very intriguing, and very fun.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Before The Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard

First off, let me say I went into the book with the expectation of it being fluff. And on that head, the book succeeded very well. Regency romances are supposed to be fluff, inspirational or not. And this was quite fluffy indeed.


Our heroine, Ariana, is convinced that God is calling her to marry a preacher. And the only preacher near her home is sixty five years old. Naturally, this somewhat concerns her parents, so they send her off to visit her wealthy aunt in London. There, she mixes with high society and crosses wits several times with the handsome though taciturn nobleman Philip Mornay. (What’s that? A Regency hero who is handsome but somewhat of a jerk? Nah, that doesn’t sound familiar.) As she navigates the shark infested waters of society she must also work to stay grounded in her faith.

Now, this succeeds very well on one level and fails very epically on another. In its success, it is exactly what one expects from this type of book. Beautiful, spunky heroine meets handsome, brooding hero. Romance Ensues, with some Regency Costume Porn thrown in. However, where it fails is that you get Surprise Come To Jesus Moments that feel less like a natural part of the setting and more like the author has just manifested into the story to hit you over the head with the heaviest Bible she could find.

Not to mention every single devout Anglican talks and sounds exactly like a Southern Baptist, as though people who do not talk or sound like that cannot be truly saved! (Note to self: Find out if any earthquakes occurred in England around the time this book was published. Sure sign of poor Jane spinning in her grave.)
Overall, the book was entertaining, and I would give it, oh, a 2.5 or 3 out of 5. The author could use work on two points. First, and more minor, is the Costume Porn. We all expect Costume Porn to be a part of just about any chick lit book. But the author takes whole paragraphs to describe an outfit, and at one point does it while we’re all in a tizzy over the hero’s dark secrets. It was…sort of a moment killer. The other is that Burkard apparently decided to use the book as a missionary text as well, and that simply doesn’t fit in with the rest of the story. It’s one thing to have Christianity be a normal part of the characters’ lives, it’s another to have the author-as-heroine anviliciously knocking both the other characters and the reader on the head about being saved and “the sinner’s prayer”. And, yes, she doesn't use the sort of prayer of that century. She uses the version one hears in Evangelical churches. It's a truly bizarre piece of anachronism in what is supposed to be a historically accurate novel.

For a chick lit author who is better at weaving Christianity into a love story, see Debra White Smith (though she commits some writing sins of her own, but I’ll talk about that in a later blog).

As I said, the book was decent, but I don’t like reading a book only to suddenly find myself in an Evangelical revival meeting.


"I love you Darcy!" "I love you Elizabeth!"


"Praise Jesus! Mr. Darcy has converted!"