Friday, December 23, 2011

Nook loving and Hey, its Christmas!

I have to say, I love my Nook. Yes, I realize that maybe the Kindle is more popular, that the books are possibly cheaper and that there is a better selection, but, still, I love my Nook.
When I started navigating the very confusing waters of readers a couple of years ago, I wanted badly to buy the Nook. However, it was not available for Puerto Rico, where I live. Also not available for Puerto Rico at that time: the Kindle. I had to settle for the Sony reader which was not bad at all, but the touch screen had an incredible (but manageable) glare and the books were more expensive than its counterparts. But I cannot complain much. I fell in love with it and treasured it.
A few months later, the Kindle and the Nook were made available for Puerto Rico but it was too late for me. Fast-forward to November 2011. My Sony reader was giving me troubles. Each day it became more and more slow. Then, Best Buy, my favorite store (unpaid advertisement) had a great sale. Nook Simple Touch for only $79. Oh, yes. I got mine as an early Christmas present, and how I love it. It is a wonderful device. One of the best Christmas presents I have ever received (thanks, hubby!).
But I have to say, Christmas for me has never been about presents, although we exchange gifts every year. And I sure hope that it will never be about the presents for my 2 year old boy. Christmas is about remembering the One who gave me hope. The One who came to live life in perfect obedience, in righteousness to comply with God's law, as I cannot do it on my own. The One who came and gave his life so that I could be forgiven. The One who rose from the dead so that I could live and have hope, have peace and have freedom. I celebrate Jesus. He is the reason I am happy, fulfilled and very much blessed. Yes, I celebrate Jesus and I thank God that, in His mercy, He saved me. And it all began one beautiful, quite night in Bethlehem where the fate of humanity laid in the hands of a newborn.
Yes, I love my Nook, I love presents but this great and wonderful salvation is the greatest gift of all. Enjoy and be merry!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Always the Baker Never the Bride, by Sandra D. Bricker

Overview: Emma is a 36 year old specialty cakes and melt-in-your-mouth pastries baker who is also, ironically, diabetic. She can only taste minute portions of her creations. However, that has never stopped her. And now she has won he Passionate Palette Award for her crème brulee wedding cake.
Enter Jackson Drake, who bought The Tanglewood Inn to honor his deceased wife wishes of converting it into a wedding destination. For that, he needs a baker, but little did he anticipate that the baker who got on his nerves a week before would be the front runner.
Can they put their differences aside and work together on this new business venture? Will they survive the first wedding and maybe have one of their own?

Review: Light, entertaining. It isn't without flaws, but it was mostly enjoyable and all around nice. Emma is a great character, as well as Jackson and Fee, Emma's quirky assistant. Jackson's sisters are too much for me: too loud, too in-your-face, too sweet. A few things here and there that were not necessary and an ending that left me wanting better closure. I don't want to give anything away, but I must in order to be understood (SPOILER!): I don't see the point on making a big deal about how Jackson advances in showing affection towards Emma, and then retreats because he freaks out, leaving her wondering, and then, when he finally tells her he loves her and that he is not retreating we jump ahead a month. There's no next day to see their actions in front of everyone and everyone's reaction. And there's not much else really. It just left me hanging. 
However, the characters are nicely developed, and the plot is nicely paced. It is actually pretty well written, so that almost makes up for the not-so-thrilled-about-ending.
3 1/2 stars out of 5.

My classics

From a young age, I learned not to discriminate books, not to judge them by their cover, and to give them at least a fair chance before forming an opinion. That is why with books, as well as with movies, I always begin on page one and very, VERY rarely leave it unfinished. Somehow, no matter how bad it is, I have to see how it ends. This has led me to, like many people before and after me, read almost anything. Starting with the Phone Book, following up with dictionaries and encyclopedias, I have read some interesting stuff. Some have been good, others, not so good; a few have been bad and some others have been, plain and simply, terrible.
However, there are books that just stay with you, that somehow define who you are, how you think, what you read,  and what standard you use to grade other books. These are my classics.

1. Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), by Gabriel García Márquez.The best novel I have ever read. Incredibly well written plot, characters, ambiance, dialogues. This novel is almost a true story of Hispanic countries, and it also has a little prophetic streak in it. It's beautiful, terrible, crude, inventive, complicated, magical. I wish I knew how to better express myself, but suffice it to say that it won a Nobel Prize and it was well deserved. Loved it! I, however, read it in Spanish, my native language, so I can't vouch for the translation.

2. Persuasion, by Jane Austen. This is a beautiful, sweet, tender, extremely well written novel. I loved Pride and Prejudice, but Persuasion is on a whole other level. Every character is well developed, every feeling so wonderfully expressed... It is the first time I have encountered a male lead so deeply moving. The letter he wrote to Anne near the end... it let me speechless. And the following conversation with her... I'm speechless again. Just beautiful. Anne is a very sweet character, her family is laughable, and you get a sense of who everybody is, what moves them. Remarkable, lovely, excellent.

3. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. I was 13 years old when I read this novel, and it changed me, it moved me. I loved it, cried over it, and made it my favorite. I was so engrossed in it, that every time I took a break from reading it, for me it was like pausing a movie. Maybe now, 24 years later my opinion would be different, but any book that can stir the emotions this one did at my 13 year old self deserves a classic treatment from me.

4. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I devoured this novel. It was funny, tender, a great romance. Again, Jane Austen was a master at developing characters, their quirks, their expressions, what moves them. I loved how Lizzie spoke her mind, how vulnerable her eldest sister was, how ridiculous her mother was. But most of all, I loved how clueless, rude and ultimately charming Mr. Darcy was. This is a wonderful novel.

5. Grace Unknown, by R.C. Sproul. Not a novel. This is the theology of grace explained in layman terms. R.C. Sproul is a great theologian and what makes him great is the way he can take the most confusing and difficult doctrines and explain them in such a way that you wonder how you did not understand it before. Also, two other classics of mine that complement Grace Unknown beautifully are Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith, by R.C. Sproul, and Doctrinas Claves, by Edwin Palmer (I think the title in English is Five Points of Calvinism, but I read it in Spanish). I highly recommend these titles to anyone looking to better understand or learn about the reformed faith.

So these are a few of my classics, the ones I like most, anyway. Nothing better than loosing yourself in a good book.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Choice, by Suzanne Woods Fisher

4/5 stars.
This made for a great read. I was surprised by the way the Amish were portrayed. The author does a great job by not painting a perfect picture; the Amish are not saints, they sin like us, they have doubts like us, they resent like we do, and sometimes it's hard for them to forgive, just like us.
Carrie irritated me a little bit by not being more proactive in her marriage, not asking the questions that needed to be asked, but that's the way she is. I loved Mattie's character and her wisdom, Abel and his freedom in the Lord, deacon Abraham and his sweetness, and many others. These are characters that stay with you for a little while after the story ends, which I love.
I will say this, though, the story is too fragmented from paragraph to paragraph; it just doesn't flow, for example: "One day, Carrie was washing the dishes..." And the following paragraph begins: "Another afternoon, Emma was making pies..." And so on.
The story kept me interested (it is actually a good one (hence, the 4 stars)), it has a few unexpected twists where I thought the story was going one way and it completely changed on me, so you're always wondering. However, I wish the author would've figure out a way to do this without having to kill off so many characters. Too many deaths if you ask me; I mean, so many deaths that it could've been called "Death Becomes Her" instead of "The Choice". Still, a very good read.