Category Archives: Entertainment

The Last Stand (Review: UnDivided)

Statue of Liberty

Image CC0 from Pixabay.

It’s bittersweet when a journey comes to an end. I loved the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was sad to watch that chapter of my life (pun intended) come to an end, but I was very satisfied.

I feel the same way about UnDivided, the final book in the Unwind “dystology” by Neal Shusterman. Since I read the first book on a whim, I haven’t been able to stop raving about the series. The second book, UnWholly, was everything a good sequel should be. I struggled with book 3, UnSouled, because the fast pace from previous installments became markedly absent. Now that I’ve read UnDivided, the story has been brought to a perfect close, and I feel complete.

Beware: Spoilers for Unwind, UnWholly, and UnSouled follow.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Running Slowly Up the Ramp (Review: “UnSouled”)

It takes incredible skill to be a master storyteller. After Unwind and even UnWholly, I would have easily put Neal Shusterman on that list. I read UnSouled, though, so I’m withholding final judgment for now. I’m not as encouraged to keep reading, but I’m glad I did. I have to push through to the end, just like Connor, Risa, and Lev.

Spoilers for Unwind and UnSouled ahead.

The story picks up right after UnWholly. After the destruction of the Graveyard and the dramatic execution of Starkey’s stork mutiny, our main characters are scattered once again. Risa has betrayed Proactive Citizenry but made it out alive—and walking. Connor and Lev are on their own, now running from parts pirate Nelson and making their way toward Sonia and toward the whole truth. Starkey and the storks are embarking on a plan to make him a hero no matter what the cost. The politics are heating up in the background, making the unwinding of teenagers seem like a mere prelude to a much bigger scheme. Camus Comprix is finding slow acceptance in the world and discovering who he was really made to be, whether he likes it or not. Before long, their paths once again converge as they head toward the climax of their journeys and the saga.

"It never ceases to amaze [him] how far society will go to protect the children it loves and to discard the ones it doesn't." —Unsouled, by Neal Shusterman

Read the rest (and find out whether I liked it!) at Austin CNM.

Biography, Theology, and You (Review: “C.S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian”)

I like C.S. Lewis a lot. He wasn’t a Catholic, but he was a convert to Anglicanism, and more importantly, he was an incredible writer. I read The Chronicles of Narnia first, but when I entered adulthood, I discovered his apologetics works. I love them so much that I have reviewed most of them here at Austin CNM!

It was with great interest, then, that I read C.S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian, by Gregory S. Cootsona. Rather than being a simple biography, this reads like a biographical bibliography, taking us through Lewis’s life by way of various existential and spiritual crises. Lewis’s life was far from easy and his theological journey far from straight. Despite having read so much of his writing already, I found much to enjoy in this detailed, insightful, and well-organized presentation.

"If we find the gospel message to be true, we need to surrender to God and change our lives. For that reason—whether or not the [C.S. Lewis] trilemma or some form of it works—many will still never assent that Jesus is God." —Gregory S. Cootsona

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

7 Quick Takes on 2 Viral Things and Also Grammar


— 1 —

That intense cold I mentioned last week is still hanging on. It has now taken the form of a super-attractive persistent cough. I’ve sworn up and down that I have not taken up smoking for Lent, but I sure sound like it. Cough medicine isn’t working, and I can’t exactly work on cough drops all day. I’m about at the point of pursuing home remedies. I would love to hear yours in the comments.

— 2 —

I think I just had my third viral post. The first was an ancient one back in the days when my blog was called Contrariwise, Switchfoot’s website had a fan-run blog, and fewer than 50 visits in one day was a big deal. The second was my post on my five favorite love songs. I hit Hallie’s link-up at just the right time to snag one of the first few spots, and my traffic was accordingly gigantic.

This time, it was my post on joining the Apostleship of Prayer. I’ve already mentioned that the national director and children’s ministry director, Fr. James Kubicki and Grace Urbanski, had read and enjoyed my post. They said they wanted to share it (although you can’t really demand permission for anything that isn’t behind a login wall), and I was totally cool with that.

I did not expect them to share it in the monthly e-newsletter. I opened mine shortly after it arrived and was bewildered to find a giant photo of myself. My bank includes my name in its emails so I know they’re real, but none of the previous AOP e-newsletters have had a picture of me. Then I realized it was about me. This month’s universal intention is for women (in accordance with International Women’s Month), so I guess they went with me since I am one!

I can’t quite express how flattered I am. I even sent a link to my mom, and, as mentioned, my site traffic was ridiculous. It was my best single day (traffic-wise) ever.

— 3 —

The other highlight of my week was getting to visit my former roommate and her new baby. The little cutie pie was several weeks early, so we showered New Mom with gifts after her daughter was born. It was pretty delightful to get to hold the baby at the shower.

I showed up empty-handed that day, though, because I had only been invited a few days before. I was left off the Evite list at first. New Mom was super chill and completely understood. I was able to get in some shopping and wrapping over the weekend, so I went over to see the new little family after work yesterday.

Among our conversation topics was the completely casual way infants spit up. They seem totally unfazed by food going back out of their mouths. I guess it’s pretty new that food is going in, though, so out isn’t as much of a surprise.

— 4 —

Matt Maher is releasing a new album! It will be all new songs, not mostly live ones like the previous album. I was rather disappointed by that last one, although I understood that his life changed a bit after getting married and having two kids.

I received the happy news of this new material through the email newsletter. (I’ve been signed up for years.) In addition to advertising, he has been sending out a series of daily reflections based on the lyrics from his song “Because He Lives.” The reflections are, of course, awesome.

The campaign worked. I pre-ordered the deluxe version, getting me “Because He Lives” immediately, and I’m listening to a free-in-exchange-for-your-email stream of a few other songs. I am pleased.

— 5 —

We have a new bishop! I’ve lived in Austin for almost five years now, and I said Bishop Joe needed an auxiliary the whole time. Back home, they have three auxiliaries. My friend Michael Raia, whose writing on his employer’s blog I have recommended here before, was able to attend the Mass for Bishop Garcia’s ordination. His summary of the background info and the Mass itself is fantastic, and you should go read it.

— 6 —

March 4th was National Grammar Day! I do love grammar, and I was delighted to have several friends share happy greetings on my Facebook wall. The best press I saw was this interview by Grammarly with Martha Brockenbrough, who started the whole holiday. I may or not be a card-carrying member of her other brainchild, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG).

— 7 —

I had takes about Jesus (via Bishop Garcia) and grammar, but I don’t have any Harry Potter takes today. Sad day. Next time?

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

When Religion Gets Real (Review: “Yom Kippur as Manifest in an Approaching Dorsal Fin”)

If I were Jewish, I would still write about my faith. I’m not Jewish, and I don’t plan on becoming a Jew. But I am Catholic, and you can probably tell from my writing at Austin CNM or on my personal blog that I write a lot about my faith. It’s such a huge part of my life that I can’t imagine not writing about it.

Aside from just blogging, though, I have a heart for fiction. I still consider myself a writer, though I might never actually publish a book. I was never much for poetry. Blogging, however, is a form of essay-writing, and I can manage some creative nonfiction now and then. It was my living preference for stories from real life permeated by faith that led me to Yom Kippur as Manifest in an Approaching Dorsal Fin. In it, Adam Byrn Tritt shares stories of faith, culture, and family, and what happens when they all converge along the Florida coast.

"A shark comes so close as I contemplate a million years and this seems like a message." —Adam Byrn Tritt

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

I Pick My Own Required Reading

Booking Through Thursday seems to be having a bit of a hiccup these past few weeks, but Thursday is always about books here at Lindsay Loves, so a bookish post you shall receive.

This month’s NaBloPoMo is full of prompts about habits. There are some gems there. Coincidentally, last Thursday’s prompt was about books.

If you had to read the same book year after year after year, what would it be?

One of the reasons I struggle with some of the BTT prompts is that they ask for your favorite book about X or your favorite X genre of book. My favorites cluster heavily around YA dystopia and Catholicism/Christianity, so I have to write about the same books all the time. If not for my Goodreads account, I might not even realize how narrow my book choices have become since I started reviewing at Austin CNM (and since I finished school, where a semester’s worth of reading is always on a single theme). This prompt is delightfully open-ended.

I’m going to turn the requirement into an opportunity, though. Going through my “off-site shelf” made me realize how much I’ve missed fantasy. Most of the books I saved from Goodwill were fantasy novels. My mom gave me a Harry Potter calendar for Christmas this year. I hung it above my desk at work, so I get a reminder of my Harry Potter love five days a week. And since I finally finished watching my way through Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Hulu, I switched to Merlin, so I get to see magic and knights and such all the time. I forgot how much I love fantasy.

My erudite side wants to say that I’d read To Kill a Mockingbird every year if I could, because meditating on the human spirit like that is good for everyone. (If you’re only going to write one book, it had better be an incredible one.) My Catholic side clearly wants to say it would be the Bible, but I have yet to make it through after eight solid years now. All the way every year is a ridiculous goal to set for myself.

But my book-loving heart says Harry Potter. It has been far too long since I have made my way through the series. Life as a cord-cutter deprives me even of Harry Potter weekends on ABC Family. I miss Harry Potter, and I want those stories back in my life, so if I had to re-read something every year, it would be all seven books, in order, in a row. It wouldn’t be an obligation, though. It would be a joyous opportunity.


Why I Love Young Adult Literature

I love to read. Anyone who meets me becomes rapidly aware of this. My mother claims that I taught myself how to read, and although I have not verified the legend, I choose to treat it like St. Christopher and accept it as true even if it is not factual.

I also love words and grammar. I have a master’s degree in English education. I used to use that to teach high school students; now I use it to amuse my coworkers in a construction company office. I enjoy words precisely because we use them to communicate stories. We study literature because it teaches us what it means to be human. That’s my motto. That and…


Read the rest in my guest post over at Super Swell Times! Many thanks to Elizabeth for inviting me to hang out at her place today.

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