Required Reading: May

And just like that, April has come and gone. WHAT. Why are the 2011 months just flying by? :o

April was a busy month but it was busy for work! Gah, I am still buried in a ton of work right now, but of course I am procrastinating by blogging. :P I thought the reading for April was quite good, though, especially since I got a long break during the Holy Week, and I was also sick almost half the month so the lack of gym time became reading time. Not bad, I guess?

So what happened for Required Reading for April?

As expected, I only got to finish reading three books:

  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis – perfect Holy Week reading. Kind of creepy, but true to C.S. Lewis style, definitely thought-provoking.
  • BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker – not as good as the old Dekker ones I love.
  • Losing Faith by Denise Jaden – very quick read, entertaining, but it kind of lacked a bit of the tone that I was expecting it to have.

Like what I predicted, one of them will take a bit of time to finish Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk because it’s non-fiction and it’s not really for quick reading. It’s a very good read so far, and I think when I’m done with this, I’ll hunt around for other biographies because they’re fun. I think I’ll be taking my time with this one, though.

It’s not a bad month, as I’ve actually finished the three books early on, giving me room to read other books within the month. :)

And now, we go to Required Reading for May!

Required Reading: MayAgain, the rules (note to self: create a separate page for this soon):

  • The books should be read within the specified month
  • These books should be in my TBR and not yet to be acquired
  • These books cannot be used for any other reading challenges I am participating in.

I am truly excited for the books I chose this month. They’ve been sitting pretty on my shelf since last year and I know people have been bugging me to read them. :D I realized it’s also just right, too, especially since I’ve been reading one contemporary novel after the other in the past weeks. This month’s theme is fantasy. The books!

I don’t really know why I’ve been putting these off, but I know people have been bugging me to read these, especially the first three books (ahem, Chachic! :) ). LOL, well now I am going to read them and I am excited because as much as I enjoy contemporary, I think I need a little bit of magic in my reading now. :)

What about you? What books are you lining up to read this May? If you’re planning to participate in the challenge, leave a comment so I can link you up. :)

Losing Faith

Losing Faith by Denise JadenLosing Faith by Denise Jaden
Simon Pulse, 377 pages

A terrible secret. A terrible fate.

When Brie’s sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie’s world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don’t line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night…a secret that puts her own life in danger.

My first impression on Losing Faith before I read the book’s summary is it’s a paranormal romance novel. Which, based on my current reading preferences, is something I kind of avoid. It wasn’t until I was going through the YA Contemps releases for 2010 that I found out it was not paranormal romance. When I found out it was a NaNoWriMo novel, it kind of cinched the deal for me and I got a copy of the book.

Losing Faith is a word play on the inciting incident in the book, when Brie’s older sister Faith dies from a freak accident. Her good, church-going sister is just gone and Brie struggles to deal with her grief and to adjust to the abrupt change while her parents cope on their own — her mom hides in her room while his dad focuses more on his sales jobs than in consoling and holding their family together. Until Brie finds out something strange about her sister’s death — some things don’t add up, and she starts wondering if Faith’s accident is more than what it seems. Together with her new friends, Brie investigates, and finds out something dark about her sister that she never knew she could be involved in.

The thing that really stands out in Losing Faith is the introduction of a really creepy cult, something quite new in contemporary YA. Growing up as a church kid, I was easily immersed in Brie’s world, and the familiar terms like worship, youth group and all that were things I could easily understand. I think it may have made the cult factor scarier for me too, because even if I don’t really know some religious fanatics, I know how easy it is for one to box themselves inside church and judge even the other people around them. I remember having to close this book when it came to the parts when Brie was snooping around because it got just a bit too creepy for me. I think Denise Jaden did a good job with that without being disrespectful or putting church-goers in a bad light. I also liked how she wrapped it up in the end, with how Brie and her friends chose to deal with the aftermath of their discoveries.

What didn’t really shine for me in this book is its tone. I don’t know, maybe I was expecting something like Sara Zarr’s Once Was Lost, which was also about church and was haunting and emotional. I didn’t really feel any connection with Brie. I know nothing about losing a sibling, but I felt that her grief wasn’t portrayed as much as it should, except maybe when they were having the service for Faith. I wasn’t a fan of how Brie’s plans were labeled in headers at different parts of the book, which kind of felt like awkward chapter starts or scene changes. I realize now that it gave the book a NaNoWriMo feel, which isn’t necessarily bad. I guess I was just expecting it to have a different tone.

Losing Faith was just okay. I liked the overall storyline, but it didn’t really rock my worlds as I thought it would. Nevertheless, I still liked it, and I think it was able to address religion and cults in a very good way. I think I’m going to put Denise Jaden’s future works in my radar. I’m curious to see what she comes up with next. :)

Rating: [rating=3]

2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – April

My copy: paperback bought from Fully Booked

Cover & blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine
Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf
YA Addict

Required Reading: April

Wow, look at where March went. My favorite month always ends too soon.

However, that means it’s time for another Required Reading post. :) Once again, here are the rules (one day I will make a separate page for this):

  • The books should be read within the specified month
  • These books should be in my TBR and not yet to be acquired
  • These books cannot be used for any other reading challenges I am participating in.

But first, how did I do for March?

Despite my busy-ness for March (you would not believe how much we raaaaageeeed! at work the past month), I was able to do a bit better for this mini-challenge. I think I was more than determined to get through all the books? That, and I find that I had a lot of waiting time during the past month, especially when you had to sit for six hours straight in the salon chair for a hair rebond treatment). Here are the books I finished and reviewed:

  • The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell – such a fun read. :) I love Damien.
  • Storm Front by Jim Butcher – another book with such a fun hero voice. Finished this one real quick while waiting for my hair to dry before my birthday party. :D
  • Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram – not exactly what I expected, but still enjoyable.

I still didn’t get to finish all four books for March, but I’m halfway through the last book (A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly) now and that’s so much better than how I did last February. :)

I think my problem with the books I pick for this challenge is I always pick books in print. I can usually juggle reading two books at a time if one of them is an ebook. However, 3 out of 4 books I chose are in print, and I find it hard to read two print books at the same time. That, and March had two releases I was really excited about, books that made me drop everything else I was reading just so I can read them. But still, it’s a pretty good month, IMHO.

Now for my Required Reading for April!

Required Reading: AprilThe month of April usually means two things for me: the start of summer and Holy Week. Last year’s Holy Week barely touched April, but this year, Holy Week is right smack in the middle of the month. I usually go offline during that week and pick a slightly difficult book to read because not being online means I have more time to tackle a hard-to-read book.

I would pick summery books this month, but Holy Week has more bearing for me than that, so this month’s Required Reading theme is all about faith.

This is a pretty varied selection of books. Ted Dekker is usually a pretty fast (although far from light) read. I was browsing through The Screwtape Letters and it’s a short book, but knowing Lewis, it’s not going to be an easy read, either. Losing Faith is YA Contemporary, which should be a welcome break, and I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now. The hardest, I think, would be Mother Teresa’s book. It’s my first non-fiction for a while, and I have a feeling I will cry with this book. I think I’ll reserve this one for Holy Week, when I’m offline.

I’m actually quite excited to tackle these books. :) I’m sure it won’t be easy, but if there was anything I learned about my faith in the past years, I know it’s been anything but. :)

What about you? Any specific books you’ve lined up for this month?

In My Mailbox (6)

Hi. My wallet is currently mad at me right now. I had to hide it away because it’s about to scream obscenities at me for…well, spending so much. I can feel it grumbling at me at the middle of the week, but as of today, it’s positively seething.

But, but, I have a very good justification why I spent so much this week. One thing is the Cebu vacation…and another…well, are books. :P It didn’t spend as much as if I buy a Branson Missouri vacation, anyway. That is a perfectly justifiable expense even if I know I have about what, 70 books that I have yet to read.

Yeah, yeah, like that means something.

So yeah, I’m doing an In My Mailbox post this week because I find that I have a pretty huge stash of books this week! Well, including Friday last week, since I kind of count that purchase as part of the weekend purchase, and it feels like I just bought it this week. In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store.

And here we go. *throws wallet under the bag and ignores it angry screams*

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