Book Review: The Visitation by Frank E Peretti (1999)

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Official Goodreads Summary

Travis Jordan, a widower and burned-out pastor, hoped to disappear into the quiet, unassuming town of Antioch, Washington. Then a man claiming to be the new Christ arrives, performing miracle after miracle, and the national spotlight soon follows.

As the town escalates in its religious fervor, Travis must battle with his own questions about his faith and the increasing extremism and zealotry overtaking the town. The startling secret behind this visitation will ultimately push him into a supernatural confrontation that has eternal consequences.

My Review

I don't remember a time in my life when I wasn't reading Frank E. Peretti's Christian fiction. I read his Cooper Kids series when I was a tween, graduated to his spiritual warfare duology when I was a teen (probably waaaaay too young, in hindsight, but I regret nothing), and have now read every novel he has ever written, some of them multiple times.

One of his books that I've read multiple times is The Visitation, that was originally published in 1999 but many aspects of it still remain relevant today. People love a hero, we love to be followers of the person who has it all together and can fix all the things that are wrong in life through this method or that belief. Just sit down and scroll through the cult section of Netflix docuseries. You'll be appalled at how often people are misled and fooled by a charismatic leader who's been hit with the "lucky stick" and obtained a cult following.

It had literally been a decade since I last read The Visitation. But I had a strange, burning need to buy a copy, as if it had some nugget of truth that I needed to encounter right now. Turns out, that was the Holy Spirit's leading. I feel a lot like Travis Jordan sometimes. Burned out and tired of faking an enthusiasm that I don't feel for all the "church things." I'm not burned out on God, but on church, I am majorly burned out.

I'm a middle of the road kind of person. And I would like to think that I'm not easily fooled or pulled into causes or party lines. I know what I believe in and that's what matters, but I don't have to advertise my beliefs everywhere. And I do not appreciate feeling like a whole section of the American Christian church has been taken over by a certain political candidate. Now, who you vote for and why is your business. But no political party or candidate is my God, and I find myself cringing at the cult-like following that's developing for a certain someone.

I don't know or care what Mr. Peretti's political views are. He might completely disagree with my middle of the road stance and that's fine by me. He's allowed to. But The Visitation helped me continue to wake up to the reality that Jesus saves and everyone else is a counterfeit. Any church leader or political leader who claims to have all the answers, well, they're a counterfeit. What I look for in leaders is servant leadership, that they know they still have a lot to learn from the people round them, and that they are completely fallible and prone to mistakes.

Anything else and you've got a Brandon Nichols arriving in a small town, working signs and wonders, and the entire Christian population proclaims him as Jesus instead of stopping and thinking "hmm, where is his power coming from?"

I don't know. I'm probably super sensitive to the political season right now. Politics always drain me, and never more so than right now. But one thing that didn't drain me was re-reading The Visitation. It is 500+ pages long and I breezed through it in a few days, just like I always have before. It's a brilliant novel by a brilliant storyteller and I will continue to love it. And now I own it so I can pick it up for a thrilling re-read whenever I want.

One last thought, be careful who you make your god.
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Canceling the Children's Literature Party

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Well, turns out I have a few unexpected commitments that came up in April, one of which will include 10 days of traveling for work (I am quite excited about that, actually, since it's an overseas trip!). Plus, well, as I'm sure ya'll have noticed, I just haven't been very active on this blog for the last 9 months or so. I think I need to be more active before I try to host anything. It just makes sense.

So, yep, I am canceling the Children's Literature Party for this year.

I might reassess for next year, but for right now, I do need to focus on my other commitments.

Hope everyone is well and enjoying their best life and their blogs! I'll post about books when I feel the urge to do so since I am reading a TON in my spare time, but I love reading more than I do talking online about the books that I read. Go figure! 

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We Love Sibling Stories Week Tag

Friday, February 23, 2024

Today is the final day in Rachel's We Love Sibling Stories Week! It's been fun to celebrate on her blog and I encourage my readers to go over and play some of the games and such that she's put together and, of course, read the posts that others have done about their favorite sets of siblings!

Here are my answers to her delightful tag. I've enjoyed seeing the variety of responses that people have shared! 

The Tag:

1. Do you have any siblings?

Yes, I have a younger sister who is also my best friend. She means the world to me.

2. Who are some of your favorite fictional sibling groups?

Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes

Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility

3. Are there any fictional families you wish you could belong to yourself?

Evie and Jonathan from The Mummy

The Mummy is one of my favorite movies of all time and a big part of that is Evie and Jonathan! I think it would be endless chaos and fun in a good way being a part of their sibling group! Plus, I would be traveling in Egypt with them so what's not to love about that?!

4. Have you ever watched or read a book that reminded you of your own family?

None that I can think of right now. I tend to avoid stories that feel too much like real life. 😉

5. What fictional sibling would you NOT want for your own sibling?

Lydia Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, hands down! She would drive me crazy with her impulsive, careless behavior. Of course, we all know that her behavior is encouraged by her mother and ignored by her father, so the family really is to blame, but still.

6. Are you more drawn to stories about brothers or sisters?

It doesn't matter to me one way or the other. I tend to like male protagonists and there is a sad lack of them, so I'm always excited when I find a story with brothers instead of sisters. But I love stories with sisters because that's what I have and can relate to.

7. What makes a story involving siblings interesting to you?

Dean and Sam Winchester from Supernatural

I prefer stories with a solid older/younger sibling relationship. I can relate to older siblings taking care of or being concerned about younger siblings. I'm not keen on stories where there's a major family rift, but stories with quirky sibling groups really warms my heart. And I think I'm curious about sibling groups with brothers and sisters because that isn't my reality. So I'm fascinated by siblings like the Pevensies in Narnia or even male sibling groups like Frank and Joe Hardy or Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes or even the Winchesters in Supernatural. Guys relate differently than girls so that intrigues me.
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Dark Tales: Collection of Short Stories by Shirley Jackson

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Shirley Jackson is one of those authors that readers either love or hate. I've only read one of her novels and loved it for its psychologically dark premise. I'll let you guess which one it was. This collection of short stories, published as Dark Tales, has what I consider a mix of her work. Some of the stories sucked me in completely while others just had me rolling my eyes, either because of a non-ending, or because I thought the entire premise was implausible.

The Best of the Collection

In my opinion, the best in this collection would be the following stories. The Lottery is not included in this collection or I would definitely mention it.

The Possibility of Evil - This one gets me every time. I really can't say too much without giving everything away other than the elderly protagonist holds a certain rigid view about the people around her but considers herself entirely too polite to say anything out loud. It's a brilliant tale, which is probably why it's placed first in the collection.

All She Said Was Yes  - How did Shirley Jackson manage to keep friends? Did anyone she knew ever wonder if she were writing about them? Anyhow, this short story tells of a set of neighbors who have lived next to one another since before their teenage daughters were born. When one set dies in a car accident, the other set reluctantly takes in the teenage daughter, disturbed how she expresses no grief at their loss. In fact, the girl keeps insisting that she told warned her parents two months before they actually died. It's a creepy book, made even creepier because the reader is inside the head of the spiteful and selfish wife of the second set of neighbors. She's a reminder that we carry on entire conversations in our head that are totally different than what comes out of our mouths. And if we weren't burdened by societal expectations, just think how awful we would be face to face as we can be online.

What a Thought - Creepy. A wife has thoughts of murdering her husband, not because he is abusive, but because he is so kind and willing to do what she asks of him. What a bizarre tale, but very well told and extremely shivery on many levels. Not long either, but it doesn't need to be.

Let's Call Them Meh

These are some of the least of the collection, in my opinion, either because they make no sense or because they are simply overdone.

The Good Wife - There are undoubtedly folks who love this story, but I am not one of them. This trope of abusive husband has been done to death at this point and the twist at the end, well, there is no known motive for it and so it makes no sense. I made it through and then ground my teeth a little in annoyance. You wouldn't find me willingly being locked up, that's for sure.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice - I'm sorry, what? At least make it make sense, please. I know there are undoubtedly ill-behaved children like this little girl, but why?! None of this story made sense, from the record player to the bizarre doll to the little girl downstairs and the protagonist's behavior. Just implausible on every imaginable level.

The Summer People  - To be fair, this one might make a decent suspense movie. But it's unfinished. What annoys me sometimes about short stories, is how they're left unfinished instead of giving the reader a real zinger at the end to make us catch our breath. So what if the elderly couple decides to stay on at their summer house by the lake after Labor Day for the first time ever? Why should that suddenly upset the delicate balance of absolutely everything in the townspeople's behavior? It just is bizarre and not in a good way.

The ultimate takeaway for me is to be aware of what we're thinking when it doesn't align with how we're actually behaving. A kind act if done with a reluctant and irritated heart might just as well not be done at all. I'm still a Shirley Jackson fan and I encourage folks who like psychological horror/thrillers to give this collection of short stories a try. Just know that you've got some real winners and some that are just . . . not.

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Quick Life Update

Friday, November 10, 2023

I've enjoyed the last 5 months off from work immensely. It's allowed me to rest and recuperate from a rather intense and stressful job and just get reacquainted with myself.

One thing I obviously did was stay off blogger. I was pretty much off social media entirely. And it was heavenly. I was able to gain some new perspective, figure out what interests of mine were being used as a coping mechanism for stress, and so forth. I did a lot of growing, just as a result of the layoff circumstances. God has been very gracious.

In other news, I start a new job next Monday! Unlike my previous roles, I'm not going to go into specifics about the company or the position other than to say that it is still with an NGO. I'm excited to start and see where it leads.

I am now a business owner. My earrings boutique is called Butterflies and Bows Boutique and is proving very successful. I make primarily dangle earrings although I did branch out into little post earrings for my last craft fair and they were quite popular so I'll keep with that trend. They're super fun to put together anyway, so I enjoy that. But dangle earrings are still my favorite. Click here to visit my etsy shop if you're at all interested. I only have about 1/8 of my inventory online so I'll be working on that the rest of the month. I've sold roughly about 175 pairs of earrings so far, a lot in person at craft fairs, but several online too so that's been a lot of fun.

Which leads me to the last update, which is, I finally caught covid. Or it caught me. Not sure how that works. Anyhow, I tested positive this week so I'm just keeping a low profile. Thankfully my new job will allow me to work remote whenever needed so I don't need to worry about that. And my brain is working just fine. It's this darn sore throat and sinus pressure that's the most annoying. I did have to bail out on a craft fair this weekend which I'm not happy about, but I do realize life happens so I just let it go. 

I just finished reading Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express for the first time so there should be a post with my thoughts coming out on that sometime soon for my Agatha Christie Project.

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The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie (1936)

Sunday, November 5, 2023

It's hard to believe that The A.B.C. Murders is #13 in Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot series, yet there it is. It is the story of a serial killer running rampant through England killing people in the chronology of the alphabet. So Mrs. Ascher is murdered in Andover and Betty Barnard is murdered in Bexhill, and so on and so forth. Clearly a madman is behind the murders, and like most serial killers, this individual must write a letter to someone, either to give them a sporting chance at stopping them or to gloat over their genius. The recipient of said letters is, naturally Hercule Poirot, and so he partners with the police on this manhunt.

The A.B.C. Murders is undoubtedly intriguing, but it would have been more so if it hadn't been for Captain Hastings as the storyteller. I've only really read one or two other Poirot novels, so I found Hastings to be quite the irritant. This is a shame, because I love Hastings in the series with David Suchet, but found him irksome in this novel.

Poirot was his usual genius self, as expected, and I enjoy that he has a twinkle in his eye and good humor about many things as the story progresses. I heard Suchet's voice in my head and enjoyed envisioning an episode of the series that I know remarkably well.

Agatha Christie is quite the master craftsman. The plot is excellent from start to finish and based on my understanding, she developed the ending first and them worked backwards, which makes a lot of sense and is probably the best way to write a solid mystery. If you're not familiar with this story then you may have some surprises in store.

The copy of The A.B.C. Murders in the photo is one that I newly acquired. It is a HarperCollins edition and was available for purchase from England through Waterstones. I love the art deco cover style and am pleased with the quality.

I am very slowly reading Agatha Christie novels as part of my personal Agatha Christie Project. Emphasis on the slowly. And clearly I am not reading them in any particular order.

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Next steps

Friday, June 16, 2023

I interviewed for an entry level IT position today, at the same ministry where I worked previously. Both gentlemen were engaging and warm types of individuals, so that was terrific to encounter. I wasn't nervous at all and we had a solid conversation going. I'm not sure what will happen, but I am very pleased with my interview and am grateful to have had the opportunity. Let me reiterate again in case I haven't said it enough. I love the ministry where I've worked for almost a decade. I want to continue to work for them. Just not in the position I held prior or for the department I previously worked with. IT would be a completely different set of management and if what I saw in the interview is indicative of the trend for management styles in IT, then I think it's a positive working environment.

I don't believe in crossing my fingers for anything, but I do believe that this situation is in God's hands and if I'm meant to start a career in IT, then it will happen.

Meanwhile, the data entry team of people at my local pro-life pregnancy center have been tons of fun to work with. We're a diverse group of ages, which I prefer, and all of our youngsters are college boys. Those conversations are lots of fun to be a part of and also very interesting. It's easy to lose confidence and hope based on what you see as trending on Twitter or TikTok. But these young men, almost boys, are passionate Christians who want to serve the Lord in all seriousness. They're also crazy fun to talk to. So it's been a really lovely experience for the last week and a half. It was also nice to have additional income on top of my severance. And now I consider myself trained on the Etapestry data software system so that's cool.

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