God is Not One Thursday, May 23 2013 

Hi Readers,

I think I’m going to change up how and what I blog. My goal, at present, is to post once a month. I’m not entirely sure how it is going to work yet, but I guess that is the beauty of figuring things out. Which is where I bring you to this book, God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero.

God is Not One was incredibly informative and gave me a better insight into religion than my Religious Studies professor did when I was in college–but I guess he had to “guide” us in the direction of Christianity because that’s what he believes–ANYWAY. At times, Prothero was obviously giving his opinion about a certain topic, but for the most part, I felt he was able to stay impartial.

He introduces each religion as the “Way of…” This method, without having to read further, immediately tells the reader that all religions are different. Who knew? Prothero titles them:

Islam: The Way of Submission
Christianity: The Way of Salvation
Confucianism: The Way of Propriety
Hinduism: The Way of Devotion
Buddhism: The Way of Awakening
Yoruba Religion: The Way of Connection
Judaism: The Way of Exile and Return
Daoism: The Way of Flourishing
Atheism: The Way of Reason

While incredibly simplistic, his “four part approach” for each religion states:

a problem;
a solution to this problem, which also serves as the religious goal;
a technique (or techniques) for moving from this problem to this solution; and
an exemplar (or exemplars) who chart this path from problem to solution (14).

He uses Christianity and Buddhism as his examples.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It took nearly six months to finish… but what can I say, life happens. If you want to get a basic understanding of “the world’s major religions” this is the book to read. Also, he acknowledges he doesn’t discuss religions such as: “Shinto, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Wicca, Baha’i, Rastafarianism, Scientology, and Sikhism,” simply because he was ranking the mass of the religion by number of followers. Overall, I am giving God is Not One a 5/5. Some parts were dry, but Prothero has a way of writing that helps people understand what exactly it is that they’re reading.

Favorite quotations:

“The ideal of religious tolerance has morphed into the straitjacket of religious agreement” (4).

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where religion seems as likely to detonate a bomb as to defuse one. So while we need idealism, we need realism even more. We need to understand religious people as they are–not just at their best but also at their worst. We need to look  at not only their awe-inspiring architecture and gentle mystics but also their bigots and suicide bombers” (7).

“You don’t have to believe in God to want to understand how beliefs in God have transformed individuals and societies from ancient Israel to contemporary China” (15).

“After 9/11 and the Holocaust, we need to see the world’s religions as they really are–in all their gore and glory. This includes seeing where they agree and disagree, and not turning a blind eye to their failings” (17).

“Religious Studies scholars are rarely honest enough to admit this in person, much less in print, but we all know there are things that each of the world’s religions do well, and things they do poorly” (20).

“…just as hitting home runs is the monopoly of one sport, salvation is the monopoly of one religion” (22).

If you read this, I hope you enjoy it.

Always,
Nolaleigh

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The Laughing Corpse Monday, Jun 13 2011 

Hi Readers,

It has been a year, maybe a little more or less since I’ve read Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. It is unfortunate because she is a great writer and her novels really pull the audience in. I’m not sure why I stopped reading… other than my school work… BUT, I’m back now and so is Anita in The Laughing Corpse:

Messy, Dolph had called it. A master of understatement. Blood was everywhere, splattered over the white walls like someone had taken a can of paint and thrown it. There was an off-white couch with brown and gold patterened flowers on it. Most of the couch was hidden under a sheet. The sheet was crimson. A bright square of afternoon sunlight came through the clean, sparkling windows. The sunlight made the blood cherry-red, shiny. (Pg. 18)

Trust me, I was being gracious by posting that particular quote. Hamilton does have a way with words. 🙂 I really can’t wait to read her other works, and more specifically, the ever-growing Anita Blake series. I kind of wonder how much Anita resembles Ms. Hamilton; her picture on the back-cover fits the image I get when I’m reading about Anita.

I love Anita. I love Jean-Claude. I absolutely adore Hamilton’s other characters… but Anita and Jean-Claude… Their dialogue was awesome in The Laughing Corpse. I’m serious! Ask my mum… I scared the crap out of her one evening around 1 am because I was laughing so hard. I’ve been restraining myself from going and finding out what is in store for them in the future books… and I’m not a fan of being someone’s servant, but I am rooting for these two. Then again, if the relationship “works” between any vampire character and the mortal woman, I root for it… ANYWAY… These two characters are so well drawn out; in the first book, Guilty Pleasures, I really liked them bickering and overt “lusting” as Anita calls it, but here, I love it. I was all antsy waiting for Jean-Claude to show up–and he didn’t disappoint.

So, a little bit about the second novel in the Anita Blake series. This time, Anita has been asked to raise a corpse for a client with deviant preferences. Ms. Blake soon learns the more powerful a person is, the more their monster within surfaces. Whether she’s defying a vampire’s rights over her life, or a voodoo grandma with a bad rep, she does it amazingly well. Sarcasm in full swing, Anita Blake kicks ass and asks for names later. Which in all truth, makes this series…

Monstrously entertaining.
— Publisher’s Weekly

The plot was hella intriguing. I’d be getting ready to put the book down for the evening, and then BAM!, something would happen. I’d sit up in bed, “Say what?!” Aaand keep reading. On a side note, I don’t necessarily want to get involved, but researching voodoo would be pretty cool.

As soon as I can, I hope to pick up another book from the Anita Blake series. I mean, every time I finish one of these books, I become a bigger fan of Hamilton and this series. So, I am giving The Laughing Corpse a 4.5/5 out of 5. I was thoroughly entertained and can’t wait to pick up the next novel!

Until next time.

❤ Nolaleigh

Bloody Valentine Wednesday, Jun 8 2011 

Instead, his love had been absorbed and dispersed into his spirit (Pg. 34)

Hi Readers,

This post is probably going to be fairly short. I’ve a bit going on right now, but I promise a better book review soon. Without further ado…

I bring you another companion book to the Blue Bloods series. Bloody Valentine tells the healing story of Oliver Hazard-Perry, the forbidden love story of Allegra Van Alen, and the bonding of Schuyler Van Alen and Jack Force.

I gotta be honest, I was more excited for the bonding than anything. AND it went above and beyond expectations! The entire Blue Bloods series is becoming a problem. New novels and series are branching from the original series which does not help me finish my lists. Oh well, they are amazing, so it is completely worth it! Haha.

I’m giving Bloody Valentine a 5 out of 5. This companion book answered some questions and filled in blanks that I’m sure will be slightly left out in the sixth Blue Bloods novel which I am very excited for! My one issue that isn’t really an issue: You have to carefully read Allegra’s story and be willing to read between the lines…

Fans came for the romance but stayed for the  slow-build family family and murder mysteries.
–Entertainment Weekly

Until next time…

❤ Nolaleigh

Low Red Moon Sunday, Jun 5 2011 

Hi Readers,

If my memory serves me correctly, this is the first posting for the 2011 Reading List, whoop whoop! I’ve decided to make minor changes to my book reviews as of now. You might notice, you might not. Either way, if you read my blog, I hope you enjoy what you find and that it might be a little helpful. So, here goes…

Ivy Devlin’s Low Red Moon is about a young woman named Avery who can’t remember the night her parents were murdered. Strange events begin to take place and she wonders if she is losing her mind. Interestingly enough, she falls for Ben,  the new guy in town who can’t remember that particular night either. It is a race to regain her memories and stand against the evils clouding the town.

I was covered in blood when the police found me. Head to toe: in my hair, on my eyelashes, in the skin between my toes. Dried so deep into my clothes they were taken away and I never saw them again.
(Pg. 1)

Small note: This quote makes me think of the show, Dexter… when he remembers who killed his mother and you get the full visual of his mother’s murder. The amount of blood in the show is cringe inducing, but a good show nonetheless. Anyway…

Worth note, the word “moon” is written in red every single time it is on a page. Seeing a red word makes me think of auto-correct in Microsoft Word. It took a while to get used to it–but the concept is original, at least to my knowledge.

My only complaint: By the very beginning we have a Twilight-esque novel. I mean, there are no vampires, but we have werewolves in place of the Cullens. In the middle of a BFE town. And I kid you not, almost word for word, Avery and Ben have the same discussion about being 17-years-old and for how long–almost EXACTLY like Bella and Edward. WHY? And the bond mate issue–seeing someone and being bonded immediately. At least Avery has a reason to be upset! I won’t even finish that thought, I think you get the idea.

Ivy Devlin’s Low Red Moon is my favorite new paranormal romance! Lyrical and engrossing, with a heroine we can all relate to and a sexy, mysterious new boy who’s a total fox–I mean, wolf!
— Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times–bestselling author of the Blue Bloods series

For the age group it is written for, very good book. I would recommend it to girls in high school. So, keeping in mind this book is geared towards Young Adults, I give Low Red Moon a 3.5/4 out of 5. The only major problem I had with this story is the huge  similarity to Twilight.

Until next time.

❤ Nolaleigh

Angelology Monday, May 30 2011 

Hi Readers,

One word: Amazing!! Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology is a masterpiece and one of the best novels ever written. Never before have I been pulled into a book this way, and even better, you do not see the end coming. There might be small spoilers below…

One of the original branches of theology, angelology is achieved in the person of the angelologist, whose expertise includes both the theoretical study of angelic systems and their prophetic execution through human history.

The following is a huge passage, but I love all the names Trussoni mentions:

If we were in Paris, it would be possible to present you with concrete and insurmountable proof–you would read testimonies from witnesses, perhaps even see the photographs from the expedition. I would explain the vast and wonderful contributions angelological thinkers have made over the centuries–St. Augustine, Aquinas, Milton, Dante–until our cause would appear clear and sparkling before you. I would lead you through the marble halls to a room where the historical records are preserved. We kept the most elaborate, intricately drawn schemas called angelologies that placed each and every angel exactly in its place. Such works give the universe order. The French mind is extremely tidy–Descartes’ work is evidence of this, not the  origin–and something about these systems was extremely soothing to me. I wonder if you, too, would find them so? (116).


If there was ever a book that brought in many of my favorite subjects, it is this one. Trussoni brings in:

Religion:
Rose of Viterbo is the Catholic saint which St. Rose Convent is named for. Depending on the source, there are different possibilities as to how she died. Here is one in particular: She began hearing voices at a young age and those voices told her to “speak the word.” The townspeople thought she was nuts, so they had her burned. Legend is that she stood in the middle of the flames and did not die, but conversed with the angels protecting her. She eventually died at the stake, but people paraded her body around afterwards, supposedly, she was unscathed.

The genealogy of Jesus and the idea that Jesus was not human at all, but an angel. This idea is known as angelmorphism. This is “interesting” because most Christians believe in the hypostatic union of Christ–he is not just human and not just divine, he is both. Controversial… 😉

History:
Kanpur Massacre occurred mid-1800’s. I by no means wish to downplay it, but basically what happened is the British attacked Kanpur, India, and killed two hundred children. The author does not leave any detail untouched, quite graphic in fact. Anyway, the Kanpur Massacre is connected to Angelology because the British were led by a Nephilistic being.

The French Revolution, the Hapsburgs, and the Tudors are also brought in as Nephilistic families.

Mythology
The Watchers are mythologized in the Greek legend of Prometheus, and various other mythologies are introduced. But I think I’ll leave this research up to you. There’s no fun in being told everything, and lots of fun in the investigation. 🙂

Geography:
Central to the conflict is the location of the Fallen. The Greeks call it Dyavolskoto Gurlo, or “the Devil’s Throat” or, in Old Bulgarian it is called Gyaurskoto Butlo, or “Infidel’s Prison.” It is a deep cave in the Rhodope Mountains, southeastern Europe (southern Bulgaria and Greece).

Philosophy:
Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine’s views on the role of angels in the universe. Kind of Philosophical, but leaning more toward a Biblical reference is Enoch, who also makes an appearance. His 7 Heavens can be found here.

In the novel, angelic hierarchies are called the First Sphere, the Second Sphere, the Third Sphere, and the Heavenly Choir. These twelve hierarchies are divided in four orders, or spheres. I thought this was incredibly fascinating–there was no particular set of themes to be established, certain characters held the focus.

Readers, I was forced to do some math. I am here to say, I am an English major–you do the math. In any case, they are giving measurements called cubits for a male nephilim on pg. 228:
The cubit is a measurement of length used by early civilizations. It is the length of the forearm from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow.
Biblical system: 1 cubit=21.8 inches = 1.82 feet
Arms–2.01 cubits= 43.82 in.= 3.7 ft.
Legs–2.88 cubits= ? 62.78 in.= 5.2 ft.
Head circumference–1.85 cubits= 40.33 in.= 3.4 ft.
Chest circumference–2.81 cubits= 61.26 in.= 5.1 ft.
Feet–0.76 cubits= 16.57 in.= 1.4 ft.
Hands–0.68 cubits= 14.82 in.= 1.2 ft.
Scary. Keep in mind that the Nephilim are about 30% larger than the average human. Seven feet tall is their average height. Does that mean certain athletes can be nephilistic? That would suck. 😉

Danielle Trussoni created a music playlist that goes along with her novel. Click here to view the list because it is so worth viewing and listening to–I love it. And! This is a pretty cool site–oh so helpful. 🙂

Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child and Angels of Destruction states, Angelology lets loose the ancient fallen angels to the modern world with devastating results. Trussoni has written a holy thriller that will arrest your attention from the opening pages and not let go till its mysteries take wing.

To me, this novel was…terrifyingly amazing. I’m giving it a 5 out of 5… In my mind, 6 out of 5, but you know it is all good. 🙂

The last hundred pages or so are a complete rollercoaster. The ending is a cliffhanger. I sat there, speechless… so, to satisfy my need to know, I did a bit of research. Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s going to be a sequel titled, Angelopolis. I really want a deeper understanding of these topics… which means, it is time for Miss Nolaleigh to hit the books and articles to find out as much as I can. So… until next time…

❤ Nolaleigh

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