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Friday, September 09, 2005

Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover

Hello everyone! How's it going, eh? I just had to put that in. I have no one to say that to here. Everyone just laughs at me and start saying, "Eh? Eh?" Yeah, yeah, I'm quite the novelty. I don't mind, though. The Brittish are so cute when they start giggling!

Not too much has been happening over the past couple of weeks. I don't remmeber if I mentioned it in the last email but Danny and I have moved into our own appartment right smack in the middle of Walsall. If I did mention it before I probably went on and on about the 62 steps we have to hike up and down between our place and the rest of planet earth at ground level. I won't go into that again. It's a great appartment though. It was fully furnished so we didn't have to carry any furniture up those evil stairs. The place even has a TV, but we don't watch it. Not because of any personal convictions about spiritual contamination and rotting of the brain. Oh no. It's because here there is a TV tax. You have to pay 100 pounds a year for every TV on your property that is connected to any type of station services. Basic cable is only about 7 channels and then you pay for anything extra after that. What this works out to is over $200 Canadian a year for 7 channels. $200 plus for Coronation Street, a few news updates, and the weather. There's breaking news: Today's forecast is rainy with some sunny patches. It's not even about that the price is too high, but its the principle of the thing. We come from the land of the glorius and free. We ain't paying no stinking TV tax! That's like having a separate donut tax at Tim Hortons. Yes, these are sad and sorry days. Danny and I unhooked the cables from the TV and sent them back to our landlord. We don't have any channels, but we can still watch movies on it, and there is even a DVD player with our place! And we don't have to pay any TV tax.

DeLong's - 1; TV Tax People - 0. The MacKenzie Brothers would be proud. (If you didn't get my SCTV referrence there, don't worry about it.)

In a related story, Danny and I have kept busy reading quite a few books lately. And being that it is summer, here's some short reviews of what's been passing our eyes lately:

Stormie - by Stormie Omartian (Its a she, and that is her real name)
Category: Christian Autobiography
Some of you may have hear of Stormie Omartian before. She's written a bunch of books such as, "The Power of a Praying Wife" , "The Power of a Praying Husband" , "The Power of a Praying Parent/Grandparent/Second Cousin/Mantis..." and so on and so forth. I've actually never read anything of hers before. My reasons are shallow - I always thought she looks like the Christian poster-child for Prozac. Anyway, somehow I ended up with her autobiography for a few days. It was really good. The lady's got quite an incredible story. I do recommend it and I may just be picking up another book of hers in the future.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).

The Lazuras Trap - By Davis Bunn
Category: Christian Suspense Fiction (supposedly)
My interest was baited by the back of the book cover: A man awakens with bumps and bruises but no memory of who he is, where he is from, or what has happened to him. As memories flash back, he finds himself in the middle of fraud, revenge, and murder. Sounds exciting? Well, it wasn't. What a disappointment for a book with such great potential in its plot. I never really became attached to any of the characters, no real surprises (the guy had his memory back within 3 chapters so the plot was over), poor dialogue, and there were lots of loose ends. I hate to be cruel, but leave this one on the shelf.
Rating: 1 star (its a pitty star, really).

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less- by Jeffrey Archer
Category: Fiction
Jeffrey Archer is an English writer who specializes in tales of brilliant fraud and big stakes. Ironically, Archer is in prison for a brilliant fraud in which the stakes where too high for him. No joke - the dude is doing time. I enjoyed this book very much though. When four guys are suckered and loose big bucks, they decide to return the favour by scamming the scam artist back, but for not a penny more, not a penny less. If you like that Ocean's Eleven feeling, then you'd probably like this book.
Rating: 4 Stars

Kane and Abel - by Jeffrey Archer
Category: Fiction
Another book about fraud (write what you know, as they say). This is a biggy, though. It was, like, twice as big as "Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less." It follows the lives of two men from different worlds. Inevitably, their worlds collide. Its all about the money, the power, and revenge. It was interesting because you really saw what made each man what he was and what he was about. Take note, though, this isn't Christian fiction and some parts are a bit graphic, which never enhances a book's impression in my opinion. This one is seriously 500+ pages, they could've done with out some details.
Rating: 2 stars

Black, Red, White - by Ted Dekker
Category: Trilogy, Christian Fiction
This is a set of 3 hefty books, but absolutely fantastic! A man is trapped between two realities: One of the world where a deadly virus is about to be released; One of strange creatures, true love, and the battle between good and evil. But which one is real? One world may help him save the other. And one world might save him. Let me warn you, if you pick these books up you will not put them down. They are super great fantastic! Yes, a real adventure. It's like "The Clear and Present Danger" meets "Lord of the Rings."
Rating: 5 stars (even 6 stars, they are that good).

THR3E - by Ted Dekker
Category: Christian Suspense Fiction
Okay, Mr. Dekker made a fan out of me after Black, Red, and White, but after this one, he's made me an obsessive follower. This book was nothing like the trilogy, but just as super great fantastic, which, to me, shows talent. In this psycho-thriller a man receives a call from a stranger. "You have 3 minutes to confess your sin," is the demand, "or you will die." Whoa! Read this book, but not when you are alone in the house. Or after dark. Ted Dekker has an incredible gift for taking something from the Bible, be it a verse or a principal, and building an entire story off of it. The thing breathes life - and it is exhilarating! Get ready for goose bumps!
Rating: 17 million stars (the ultimate 'read-it-now' rating).

A Painted House - by John Grisham
Category: Fiction
I am a huge Grisham fan. Many of his books have been made into movie classics such as 'The Firm,' 'The Pelican Brief,' 'The Client,' 'A Time to Kill,' and there are a few others. He usually writes a typical lawyer/underdog type of story, but A Painted House was totally different. It's written from the perspective of a 7-year-old boy growing up on a cotton farm in Arkansas during the 1950's. Another doozie of a book, around 500 pages, but it was a great read. Lots of great things that kept my attention. I admit that in this one I did find myself laughing out loud in some parts and wiping away tears at others. I'd recommend this one if you're on holiday. It was delightful (sorry for the cheesiness, but it was).
Rating: 5 stars

Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
Category: Children's Fiction
Ha ha! Just Kidding! I haven't read this one. You should have seen the madness here in the U.K. when it came out! Let me put it this way: When JK Rowling releases a new book, the Royal family could go to a McDonald's drive through, order Happy Meals and wear the boxes on their heads to the mall without it making the papers. Potter is royalty over here (although nowhere near as good looking as Prince William).

Once again, I have written a novel of my own. Is everyone still with me? Are any of you experiencing a dryness of eyes or stiffining of back or cramping of retna and that sort of thing? Maybe wait 24 hours before picking up a book.

On that note I will be off. Oh hey, one last thing. Danny and I are heading over to Malta this week for about 10 days. We will be in a few churches and taking a few potential candidates for LifeForce out for coffee (shmoozing, as we say in the business). There's also a wedding we get to attend (score - free cake). So until next time, God bless you all - I hope you are all having a wonderful summer - and give your TV's a hug this week, for me and Danny.

~Alycia DeLong

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