2012 Year In Review: Non-Fiction

Top Ten

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1. THE WAGES OF SPIN by Dr. Carl Trueman
I predicted back in April that this book would probably be “the best piece of non-fiction I read in 2012.” Turns out I was right. This essay collection is short, sharp, challenging, and frequently hilarious: a prime example of why Trueman is one of my favorite writers. Full review
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2. TEN WAYS TO DESTROY THE IMAGINATION OF YOUR CHILD by Anthony Esolen
The title is potentially misleading: this is not a book exclusively for parents. Anybody can (and should) read this book, because anybody can (and will) benefit from it. It’s a witty, gritty, and delightfully subversive assault on the Bastions of Modern Educational Theory and Practice, and Esolen’s satiric flair is worthy of Uncle Screwtape himself. Full review
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3. WORDSMITHY by Douglas Wilson
My favorite writing book. Whether you want to write full time, or merely have a passing interest in it – this slim little volume should be on your shelf. It’s just that good. Full review
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4. BLACK HAWK DOWN by Mark Bowden
One of the ugliest, most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Ugly for its depiction of modern warfare; beautiful for its depiction of the men who endured it. A must-read if there ever was one. Full review
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5. JUST DO SOMETHING by Kevin DeYoung
Want to know what the subtitle is? How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Full review
Continue reading 2012 Year In Review: Non-Fiction

Soundtrack Giveaway 2012

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the third annual soundtrack giveaway here at the Ink Slinger blog. I am your host, Caesar Flickerman, and this year our contestants will be fighting to the death for a chance to win one of the best soundtracks of 2012. Continue reading Soundtrack Giveaway 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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It’s been almost a decade since The Lord of the Rings trilogy came to a close, and now, finally, The Hobbit has arrived. Was it worth the wait? Yes. A thousand times yes. Gorgeous visuals. Marvelous characters. Brilliant storytelling. Spectacular action. Thank you again, Peter Jackson… now hurry up with Parts II and III. You’ve got a promise to make good on.

“Remember this: true courage is not about knowing when to take a life, but when to spare one.”

(I’ll post a more in-depth review
on my movie blog Reel Quick)

Book Review: Peter’s Angel

Peter's Angel - Final FrontIt’s been over a year since Aubrey Hansen published her first novel. Now she’s back, just like Ah-nuld. And she’s stepping up her game.

Peter’s Angel is historical fiction with a twist. It takes place in the aftermath of a lost War for Independence, following young Lord Peter Jameson as he struggles to protect the small patriot state of Rhode Island from the greedy hands of New Britain.

This is alternate history at its most intriguing, and for the most part, Aubrey pulls it off beautifully. Against this backdrop, she sets in motion an invasion, a kidnapping, a rescue, and a love story. And that’s only the beginning.

W. Somerset Maugham once said that “only a mediocre writer is always at his best,” and I think it’s safe to say that Aubrey’s style have improved since her debut. Make no mistake: I think Red Rain is a great read. But I also think Peter’s Angel blows it right out of the water.

For one thing, it’s more ambitious. You could say the stakes have been raised. There’s a boldness to the characters, a thematic and dramatic depth to the story, which clearly marks Aubrey’s growth as a storyteller. There are a couple of places where the story drags, but the plotting is generally tight, and the large cast is well-managed. The main characters – particularly Peter, Nathan, and Mark – are more complex than you might initially think. If book one is any indication, I’m willing to bet on some fascinating character development as the rest of the series runs its course.

That’s right, I said “series.” Peter’s Angel is the first book in a proposed trilogy. As such, I think it will be even stronger when considered alongside its sequels. There’s room for growth here, because the story isn’t over. Aubrey has started something big, and I’m eager to see where she goes with it.

There were some things about the writing which bugged me – nothing major, just little quirks that stood out to me. For instance, I didn’t care for the repeated use of “what if” paragraphs (silly name, I know, but I’m not sure what else to call them). Example:

Were the soldiers prepared for battle? What if the British outnumbered them? What if Peter didn’t get the message to pull back? What if the they wouldn’t accept Stephen’s plea for a ceasefire?

That kind of internal monologuing is fine in moderation, but it appears more frequently in the story than I would’ve liked.

Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad here. Peter’s Angel gets an enthusiastic recommendation from me. It’s a promising start to a potentially epic series, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for part two.