Showing posts from 2016

#OpenBook - what are you reading this month?

Finally, I managed to break the Netflix addiction just enough to pick up a few novels in the past couple of weeks.  A few days' travel to DC helped, because who wants to waste phone battery in an airport when books fit neatly into a purse?  My recent reads are an odd variety of genres, but here goes.

I've been in the happy process of reviewing a handful of books, most recently Karina Fabian's Dicovery.  (And I got to interview her!  Yay!)  No spoilers on the other two, but suffice it to say I burned through one of them in a total of two hours.  And discovered again that non-fiction takes me forever to get through unless I have to read for class.

On audiobook, I picked up Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's The Long Earth, which was a fascinating start to a series that I only hope I have the stamina to finish.  If I only read this one, though, I think I'll be okay, as it's much more sci-fi and much less fantasy than his other books (not quite my thing).  The bo…

Of Spaceships and Sisters: Meet Sci-Fi Author Karina Fabian

Following up from the review I posted on Tuesday, I have the great pleasure of welcoming to the blog stellar sci-fi author Karina Fabian.  Getting a glimpse into the workings of an author's mind is like opening up the engine of a spaceship.  My challenge was to come up with questions that dig deep into Discovery itself and Karina's own remarkable creativity.  It's possible that I had way too much fun.  Enjoy!

By day, Karina is a mild-mannered reviewer of business software and services for Top Ten Reviews. After hours, she’s a psychic intent on saving the world; a snarky dragon who thinks he saves the world all-too regularly; a zombie exterminator who just wants her world clear of undead vermin; and Catholic religious sisters whose callings have taken them off our world. Needless to say, her imagination is vast, her stories legion, and her brain crowded. When she’s not converting her wild tales to stories, she’s enjoying time with her husband, Rob, their four kids, and their…

Discovery: Brand-New Sci-Fi Awesomeness

What happens when you put religious sisters in space?  A darn good book, that's what you get, but I suppose a little more elaboration is called for.

Karina Fabian's new release from Full Quiver Press, Discovery, is well-crafted sci-fi with a quirky Catholic edge.  Fabian drops her readers into a believable future Earth, and launches us with a massive and diverse spaceship crew to explore a mysterious alien ship - all the while challenging the minds and hearts of both characters and readers.

The official synopsis:
Sisters Ann, Tommie and Rita are part of a classified mission to explore an alien ship that has crash landed on an asteroid three billion miles from earth. Humanity's first contact with beings from beyond the solar system is bound to unlock the mystery of life in the universe, but the crew have their own secrets; hidden fears, desires, horrible sins - and a mission to kill. Researchers discover something unique about the third arm of the ship: something wonderfu…

Announcing Restless Independent!

Hi y'all!  I've spent the last few weeks working on the launch of Restless Independent, my new blog for young adults.  RI has (or will have) how-tos, notes from the young adult trenches, recipes, lists, resource dumps, infographics, and guest posts.  Check it out!

In the meantime, I'm mulling over the fate of Our Hearts Are Restless.  I still have a ton of book blogging I want to do, and I'm not sure that will always fit well at RI.  So OHAR may turn into a lit-focused site, basically an opportunity for book reviews, what-I'm-reading posts, author interviews, and book tours.  Faith might come in a bit too, since I'm trying to keep RI fairly non-denominational.  I just don't know!  If I'm going to keep up two blogs, though, it'd better be pretty straightforward.  So I'll keep working on it.  How does Recusant Books sound as a rebranding title?

In the meantime, pop on over to Restless Independent and tell me what you think!

Year One in the Mitten State

One down, unknown quantity to go.  A year ago today, I moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and took up legal residence in this corner of the Midwest.  All things considered, A2 is a great location, but the state and Michigander culture certainly have unique points.

As I've been repeatedly asked "So what are the differences between Michigan and Indiana?" I decided to whip up a list based on my experiences of this first year.

1. Speed Limits are Suggestions
You know you live in Michigan when the policeman standing on the shoulder of the freeway with a radar scanner doesn't blink when you cruise by at 15 over.  At this point, I wonder how fast one must actually drive in order to get pulled over?  Definitely, don't go the posted speed limit, because you'll get run off the road.

2. The Great Lakes Obsession
It's all about the Great Lakes.  (One might think there's nothing else to brag about?  See #4.)  "Unsalted and Shark Free&quo…

#OpenBook August

This blog is getting pretty quiet, isn't it?  I'm close to launching Restless Independent, my new site, and that's draining most of my creative energy.  BUT I haven't decided yet whether I'll keep Our Hearts Are Restless as a separate entity, or possibly switch its identity to more of a books-and-faith focus, or say goodbye to this site altogether.  The life updates and miscellania will all switch over to RI, which is basically a blog about adulting.

Anyway!  The OpenBook linkup is still the highlight of my blogging month, so here's your regular window into my bibliophile world.  This one is slightly delayed, but what the heck.

My mom and I share a love of fiction.  When I asked her for a reading list this summer, because I needed recommendations for new novels, she happily gave me a piece of paper that brought nostalgia and excitement.  As a kid, I knew the season had begun when Mommy gave me my summer reading list.  Always hand-written on lined, usually yello…

Camping, with Bison (and Babies)

Fourth of July weekend with my family means camping.  Over the last few years, we've explored several Indiana state parks, where we hike, hang out, and chill for a few days.  2016 brought a new development, as my parents decided to invest in a tent for my sister and I, so as not to cram four people into an RV meant for two.  The first thing Meredith and I figured out how to do is attach a flashlight to the ceiling so that we can read after the parental units have gone to bed.  It's the important things in life. This tent could only be improved by the addition of a green door with a round knocker and a G-rune.
Despite a bit of a cloudy chill over the weekend, it was quiet, peaceful, and refreshing for all of us.  For me, I think the change of scenery was the principal attraction, as I've been in a city for the majority of the last year.  Living simply and unplugged under the trees for a few days was a much-needed change of pace.  Although, when we packed up the tarp and dis…

King's Books - A Bibliophile's Paradise

If you're a bibliophile, you've probably dreamed of owning - or at least walking into - a library like the one from the Beast's castle:
There's something intoxicating about the thought of so many adventures, waiting for discovery behind their polychromatic spines.  Unfortunately, chances are that, like me, there's not a snowball's chance in Hades that you'll ever actually own that many books.

The next best option?  Swing over to John K. King Used & Rare Books in Detroit.  This book lover's paradise is curled in four floors of a repurposed glove factory.  It's cramped, dusty, not air conditioned, eccentric, distinctly old-fashioned, and relies on red-aproned attendants to help you find your favorite books among newspaper clippings and bric-à-brac.  In other words, it's all about the books!  And books there are in abundance, on seven-foot shelves, stacked in corners, piled along the walls, and displayed in glass cases.  Navigation is tricky - …

#OpenBook July - Classics & Fun

Welcome to July's edition of An Open Book linkup!  I've got a lot to share this month.

Two other book nerds were aghast when I told them I hadn't read Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. The reason was that The Three Musketeers had scarred me as a kid, and it took a lot of bibliophilic peer pressure to get me anywhere near another Dumas. I took the plunge, finally - and if CMC didn't hit any other superlatives in my book, it definitely wins the prize of The Book that Took Me Forever to Read.

I started the massive tome (okay fine, it was an e-book) in mid-May, thinking to have it done within a week or two. Took me over a month to get through it.
Dumas' skill is readily apparent, opium trips and irritating not-quite-heroes aside. He manages a dozen primary characters and several supporting plot lines, successfully wrapping up all the loose threads with neatly bookended scenes. Simultaneously, he manages to create in Edmund Dantes a sort of sociopathic Cin…

Joy Under the Sword

The current condition of the world forced me to turn over a conundrum in my head on the way to Mass after work.  You can probably, like me, list the locations of the last half-dozen major acts of international terrorism, the recent ethical and moral rulings of SCOTUS, and at least three of Pope Francis’ confusing statements.  There’s a lot happening in this world, and with the help of mass media, we see little that is good.
Many of my friends and colleagues have no optimism left.  Accurately, perhaps, they predict an oncoming storm of chaos, fear, amorality, and death.  In the current day and age, many feel that the world is rolling down a steep hill, picking up speed as it nears destruction at the bottom.  Hope has faded into a dull resignation.  But when I hear comments like “This is the end of civilization as we know it” and “Martial law is coming”, and I listen to the underlying tone of despair, something in me recoils. 
While that analysis of the downhill trend is probably right…

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

So this took me forever to actually write...apologies!  A nasty case of writer's block has set in, so I'm determined to get this post out the door so I can write other things.  

Despite being born in Ohio, and moving to Michigan this past year, I remain a Hoosier through and through.  I love breaded pork tenderloins, basketball, fresh sweet corn, 4-H, and the Indiana State Fair.  And as a Hoosier, I know that on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend comes "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing", the Indianapolis 500.

I grew up listening to the race annually on the radio, hearing Jim Nabors singing "Back Home Again in Indiana", Mari Hulman-George announce "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!" and the excitement in the announcers' voices as they communicated lead changes and track incidents.  This year was my first opportunity to actually attend the race in person.

Explaining the 500 to out-of-towners can be challenging - what is the thrill of wa…

#OpenBook June - Driving with Audiobooks

Welcome to this month's An Open Book!  While the calendar tells me we have entered June, my brain is not convinced that March has ended yet.

Last month's linkup generated quite a discussion about audiobooks, with various recommendations bouncing between blog sites.  While I grew up with beloved memories of my mother reading innumerable classics to me - everything from Little House on the Prairie, to Jules Verne, to Regina Doman's fairy tale retellings - I could never wrap my mind around audiobooks.  Why listen to some unknown person reading a story when I could pick up a hardback and immerse myself, a few pages or a few hours at a time?

Then last summer, adulthood hit like a systemic disease, and in three weeks I had bought a car and moved to Michigan, four hours from my parents' house.  I can manage a four-hour drive, but even music gets old after a while, and it doesn't take long for me to get bored and drowsy.  The Overdrive app lets me borrow audiobooks from t…

Meanwhile in Kittenland

Little balls of energy and fluff have invaded our apartment.  They have claws, bright (occasionally manic) eyes, perky tails, and Mack-truck-sized purrs.
Finnegan Patrick, occasionally referred to (by me) as "Dammit, Finn!", is a beautiful tabby with the type of curiosity that has killed other cats.  Portia's sweet face conceals a wild and crazy Hyde side, and a penchant for being overly affectionate at 5:50 AM. When they aren't learning the word "NO", they are entertaining us with somersaults, sleeping in awkwardly cute positions, and generally being much fun.  My roommate Iris has a video up on her blog of us bringing them home last week - check it out here!
I'm heading down south for the centennial running of the Indianapolis 500 this weekend, so I will be incommunicado for a few days.  Y'all have a great Memorial Day!

A Patron Saint for College Nomads - Guest Post by Amy Marter

If you are currently in college, just flipped your tassel, or - like me - are still struggling with calling a new apartment "home", please enjoy this guest post from one of my good friends, Amy Marter.  Amy just graduated as Valedictorian from Christendom College, with a BA in Literature and a minor in Classics.  She is working for Our Sunday Visitor for a second summer, volunteers at the Catholic Writers' Conference, and will attend Catholic University of America this fall for a MA in Literature.
A Patron Saint for College Nomads If there is one practical skill that I have gained from my college education, it has been that of packing. After four years of moving into dorms and returning home for breaks, I like to think that I have mastered the art. There is an exhilarating liberation that comes from the decision that all of one’s necessary earthly possessions can fit into the back of the station wagon. It gives rise to freedom to roam, travel, explore, with no physical r…

Quick Spring Scrapbook & News

Hello y'all! My writing schedule may be sporadic this month. Between friends visiting, new kittens coming home, the Indy 500, my parish choir concert, and finishing a major freelance project, I will be lucky if I get time to go grocery shopping!  It is going to be an awesome few weeks.  Who needs food anyway?
My lovely roommate and I are just a few days from bringing home our kittens - her grey tabby Finnegan Patrick and my calico Lady Portia.  So far, Finn is a package of Energizer Bunny-esque entertainment; Portia is a fluffy, only slightly more lady-like snuggler.  Both are equally susceptible to the lure of the laser light. Last week, I spent my Friday night going on an adventure.  I'm frequently busy, but I don't often breach my comfort zone, so this was a good change.  Juventutem Michigan, the local chapter of an international young adult group focused on the Extraordinary Form, held their spring Mass and dance at St. Mary, Star of the Sea in Jackson.    The picture…

Pomegranate Margaritas

Hi y'all!  Thought I'd share another recipe over here, although I'm not quite as good in the kitchen as my lovely roommate over at Starving Inspired.

If you've met me, you may know that I'm not fond of either wine or beer; I hate the taste of alcohol, so I'll only drink something that cuts the alcohol burn with a strong flavor.  Hence, my propensity for hard ciders and margaritas, which are about the only drinks that don't remind me of cough syrup.

A near escape from tipsiness with a glass of rum punch has entrenched my resolution to keep tight control of my alcohol consumption.  I hate feeling like I'm not in control!  With careful parameters, though, I do enjoy the occasional drink with friends.  When I visited Christendom recently, a girlfriend and I made a late-night Walmart run before heading back to her house.  Besides getting myself food for the weekend, we also grabbed ingredients for homemade margaritas.  The recipe turned out to be delightful…

#OpenBook: Tom Clancy & St. Francis de Sales

Welcome back to another round of the Open Book linkup via Carolyn Astfalk!  I'm sorry to say I haven't been reading much this past month - blame it on travel, Netflix, and my current propensity for reading really long novels.  Happily, working a full-time job gives me a nice long lunch break, and I've been using it lately to work through the seventh book in Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series.

My parents tried for years to get me hooked on these books, so last year I finally picked up most of the set in paperback from the Half Price Books annual clearance sale.  This spring, I spent about two months burning through the first half-dozen.

If you're not familiar with Clancy, his novels are typically shelved with "spy thriller" or "military fiction" genres, although the books also take on characteristics of alternative history and political commentary.  Stylistically, Clancy resembles Charles Dickens - he has a remarkable ability to present a dozen thre…

A to Z: Christendom

Once upon a time, I was dead set on being a professional musician.  A degree in arts administration with a minor in trombone performance awaited me, and I would hear of no other possibility, no matter how hard my parents tried.

Then, the summer of 2010 happened.  My parents dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the same week-long program my two older sisters had previously attended at a little liberal arts college in Virginia.  "It's just a week," they said.  "Think of it as a vacation."  Some vacation!  Classes began and ended with prayer.  We had daily Mass, daily adoration, and an introduction to the depths of the liberal arts and Western civilization.

Midway through that week, I sat in the back of the chapel, looking at the monstrance.  I can't leave this behind, I realized.  I knew, with overwhelming certainty, that this place was where I belonged.  The next few days were one long existential crisis, as I fought with myself to put aside my music, my h…