Katy Perry's New Album in 16 Sentences or More

katy-perry-prism-album-cover-revealed The day had finally come.

I rushed to my local record store five minutes before it opened, drooling against the glass as they stocked the last one on the shelf.

When ol' Mr. Crenshaw—he’d owned the place as long as I could remember--finally opened the door, the bell jingled as I tore inside, going straight to the “P”s.

There she was, airbrushed makeup glowing amid pastel pink glory: Katy Perry - PRISM. I paid for it in paper money and change, walked out of the store and put it in my car stereo. It has cycled through about 80 times since I bought it.

Okay, that was all a lie. That was what would happen if this was 1998 and people bought CDs anymore. Real life is a lot less exciting. I had actually pre-ordered this album and just clicked “download” on Tuesday morning. The end.

Wasn't my first story so much better? I want to hear more about what it was like only being able to listen to one album without doing physical labor and having to carry around all your music in a glorified binder that weighed as much as you did.

Anyway, the fact that it was six-thousand times more easily accessible than the story above did not diminish my excitement for Katy Perry's new album to finally be released. I had already had the privilege of downloading "Roar," then "Walking on Air" and "Dark Horse," all of which I loved, so I didn't expect to be disappointed. I wasn't.

But I do have a lot of specific thoughts on the songs. (Please pick your jaw up off the floor. Oh wait, you're not shocked at all? Never mind.) So I thought I would share them with you, song by song.

To keep it brief, I have decided to limit myself to ONE SENTENCE per song. One. It may be a run-on sentence, but dang it, I will keep it to one. Because if I had my way we'd be here for days. Actually, just I would, because you would have stopped reading after minute five.

So without further ado I present to you the Laura McClellan 16-Sentence Amateur Review of Katy Perry's PRISM.

UPDATE: Stream the album while you read my descriptions here.

SONG NUMBER ONE: "Roar"* Easily one of the world's most satisfying pop songs, "Roar” makes you wonder where it has been your whole life but then realize you never could’ve pictured your life without it. Rating: A+++++

SONG NUMBER TWO: "Legendary Lovers" Despite the squirminess of the phrase “I feel my lotus bloom," which I find to be an entirely too-descriptive metaphor, this song is an enjoyable hip-hop-y, somehow march-like mid-tempo song which, like many others you will find on this album, is basically just about sex. Rating: B+

SONG NUMBER THREE: “Birthday” “Birthday” is a disco-y dance song with a perfect hook rounding out the chorus, to which you will probably find me dancing in the car, but not singing very loudly because several of the lyrics make me embarrassed. Rating: A

SONG NUMBER FOUR: “Walking on Air” Similar to the one preceding it, the super-catchy “Walking on Air” is a disco-y song about sex, adding to the list of songs I feel uncomfortable singing out loud, but it is infused with a little more hip-hop. Rating: A-

SONG NUMBER FIVE: “Unconditionally” Really all I can think about during this supposed-power-ballad is how it bothers me that she puts the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle on “Unconditional” about 800 times (she says un-con-di-TION-alllll”…no…if it doesn’t fit, rewrite the chorus). Rating: B

SONG NUMBER SIX: “Dark Horse” Admittedly very hip-hop for Katy Perry, “Dark Horse” is probably my favorite right now due to its building, unpredictable, belty chorus and, let’s be honest, super crunk beat (did I use that right?). Rating: A+

SONG NUMBER SEVEN: “This Is How We Do” Despite the fact that I can’t relate to anything this song is talking about (Breakfast in last night’s dress? Uh I’m still in my PJs I got for Christmas. Car still at the club valet on Tuesday? I won’t even pay for a valet at Chuy’s unless absolutely necessary), nor is it profound in any way, but I CAN’T HELP IT THIS SONG IS SO CATCHY AND IT WILL NEVER LEAVE MY BRAIN. Rating: A+

SONG NUMBER EIGHT: “International Smile” A delightful, repetitive electronic song, this track rhymes “Artist” with “star dust” which I appreciate, and features a vocoder more than once and I am not mad about it. Rating: A

SONG NUMBER NINE: “Ghost” If you ignore the fact that the first line of this song is “you sent a text” (NO KATY JUST NO), this song is an okay supposed-to-be-sentimental ballad, but it’s not the next “My Heart Will Go On” or anything. Rating: B-

SONG NUMBER TEN: “Love Me” Another slightly slower-paced quasi-ballad, this song has a lot more depth (love yourself in spite of insecurities and all that) and is a lot more compelling musically and lyrically than the others I’ve heard on the album so far, so people will probably identify with it. Rating: A-

SONG NUMBER ELEVEN: “This Moment” This one sounds a little bit like Devo did the production at first, and I’m pretty sure she actually wrote this cliche-filled quasi-ballad for Kelly Clarkson to sing, but hey, people like Kelly Clarkson, so you’ll probably still be on board. Rating: B+

SONG NUMBER TWELVE: “Double Rainbow” (OMG SHE WENT THERE) Another ballad, which is really hard to take seriously at first considering the name of the song, but it’s actually pretty great once you get over that, especially the melody in the pre-chorus and the Phil Collins drums. Rating: A

SONG NUMBER THIRTEEN: “By the Grace of God” I first heard (and loved) this song on her iTunes festival performance, and it is a fantastic, compelling, honest ballad with a perfect melody all the way through. (PLUS GOSPEL-Y BGVS YOU GUYS) Rating: A+

SONG NUMBER FOURTEEN: “Spiritual” (On the deluxe version) Super 80’s-fabulous, this is another disco-y song about sex (sensing a theme?), but I kind of think it’s got a weird vibe and it’s probably one of my least favorite songs on the album, mostly because I don’t think the chorus pays off at all. Rating: C+

SONG NUMBER FIFTEEN: “It Takes Two” (On the deluxe version) Katy is no slouch at writing a melody, you guys, and this one grabs you from the first line, keeping you with her throughout the rest of the song with its gospel influences and just plain catchiness. Rating: A

SONG NUMBER SIXTEEN: “Choose Your Battles” (On the deluxe version) This one doesn’t necessarily grab me in any particular way; it just kind of plays enjoyably in the background while you do something else. Rating: B-

Overall I obviously enjoy the album and you should go get it, but I’m going to stop talking now.**

What’s your favorite song so far? Alternatively, if you aren’t a fan, what’s your favorite album you’ve bought lately?

*Let it be known that I failed at this IMMEDIATELY. My first thoughts were: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Which is ALREADY two sentences and I hadn't even said anything yet.

**Also I was not in any way compensated for this post or affiliated with Katy Perry, though it’s adorable that someone might even think that.

Puffy Paint, Exposed Bras and Beyonce: The Mrs. Carter Tour Recap


First things first, on this Tuesday morning: I SAW BEYONCE IN REAL LIFE ON SATURDAY NIGHT. I mean sure, I had to pay a hefty sum to do it and stay in my seat like 75 yards away from her but she was THERE. And it was every bit as incredible as I'd hoped.

For those of you who care very little about this experience (I don't understand you, but I accept you just the way you are), here is the quick roundup based on my predictions for the show:

BEYONCE BY THE NUMBERS: Number of outfit changes: approx. 9. (I know there were at least 8 but I think even more than that. I started to keep count but was too busy dancing to keep up.) Number of hats worn as part of her outfits: 2 (I was surprised by this. Who wears hats? Well, Beyonce does. And she was pulling. it. off.) Number of minutes we sang "to the left, to the left" before the song actually started: I predicted 3, and I'd say this was about accurate. One of the guys who got to sing this in the microphone actually screamed it in like a manic fit and I was afraid he was just going to spontaneously combust out of sheer excitement. Other lucky attendees included two angelicly-voiced children and one painfully tone-deaf girl. Number of "how y'all doin', Nashville?"s: She technically broke this up and said "Nashville," [screams] "How y'all doin?" But I think that still counts as 1 out of 2. Number of wind machines: I think 2 was accurate but it could have easily been more. UPDATE: My husband reminded me that there were at least two on the 2nd stage as well, so this brings the total up to AT LEAST four.

As you can see below, my friend Taylor and I did not skimp on the puffy paint. We were the only ones in a sea of 20,000 people wearing puffy paint shirts (Period. Not even small children were wearing these. Can you believe that? Kids today.). We were simultaneously proud and embarrassed, so I think the puffy paint did its job. Note that Taylor is 800% more artsy than me.

mrs carter tour puffy paint shirts

If you can't tell, mine says "Beyonce 4 President," and hers says "Who Run The World? BEY."

As we walked in to the venue and made our way to our seats we were impressed with the diversity of the crowd. Small children, adults, black people, white people, gay people, straight people, moms, teenagers. Basically all your kinds of people. I mean, everyone loves Beyonce, you guys.

We were also impressed how low the bar some women apparently set for the amount of clothing that counts as acceptable concert-wear was. Many women were just wearing fuchsia bras with like half of a denim jacket over top, but only buttoned once underneath the chest so as to give the necessary amount of boost. We learned that showing midriff is apparently back in, jumpers --while not convenient for bathroom-going purposes--are now all the rage, and that I apparently have a low pain tolerance because most women we saw were wearing like 6-inch heels. To a concert. Which requires standing. For hours.

The opener was named Luke James, who I chose to describe as a cross between Usher and Mr. T., due to his abs, gold jewelry, Mr. T haircut and shirt that he had ripped into a vest mid-song. I can't remember a single one of his songs, mostly because they all ran together and I had trouble picking out a chorus at all, but people seemed to like it when he warbled long notes at us (especially the high pitched ones), accompanied by nothing but some tracks and a drummer.

That was over pretty quickly and we proceeded to wait nearly an hour for Queen B to come out. But she's Beyonce and I was getting the privilege of paying an exorbitant amount of money to be in her remote vicinity so she can do what she wants. Plus maybe Blue Ivy needed a juice box or something. I don't know.

Beyonce Mrs Carter Tour Set

During this time it came to my attention that I am woefully out of touch with hip hop and R&B these days. Seriously the whole arena at one point erupted in cheers followed by dance moves I could never do on the first note of some song that I later found out is called like Birthday Song, sung (term used loosely) by someone I've never heard of. It was clear something was happening there that we were not a part of.

Finally she emerged and proceeded to blow our minds with her insane talent for two hours. There were huge LED screens, interlude videos that made no sense but Beyonce still looked pretty in, flying between stages via harness, dancers whose legs moved about as if independent from their bodies, basically all you could want and more.

I won't do a play-by-play because I have already written about 800 words and I'm still talking, but suffice it to say it was probably the most fun concert I've ever been to. She dances like no one I've ever seen and of course she sings amazingly. And she's someone who has so many hits that almost every song is just a dance party to a song you love.

mrs carter tour

My favorite part was probably after she flew to the other stage (closer to us) and sang "Irreplaceable", "Love on Top" and "Survivor." I mean come on. Dream team of songs. Plus we got to hold our fists in the air and pretend like we were survivors like Beyonce which I totally did because I will do whatever Beyonce asks me to do without question (hold my first in the air, put my hands up, snap, repeat after her…you name it).

Other highlights for me: "Get Me Bodied," "Crazy In Love" (though I was disappointed at the lack of Jay Z in this performance--you are married, Beyonce. This means you get to tell your husband to put his married pants on and do things he doesn't want to do and this should have been one of them.), "Run the World."

Did I leave anything out? If you were there, what was your favorite part? If not, what is your favorite concert you've ever been to? (And did you make puffy paint shirts?)

An Amateur Analysis of "Man of Steel"

SIDEBAR: I wrote a (very) short story over at my dear friend Nicole's blog on Friday. Seriously, we're talking a third the length of this post. Check it out here!

man of steel laura mcclellan

Once upon a time, I wrote an amateur analysis of "Brave." I had high expectations for that movie, admittedly, but it let me down in more ways than one. So I shared my thoughts here [Summary: Approx. 500% more bears than anticipated; very little character development]. Reactions were mixed--but it was fun to hear what everyone thought. So I thought I'd go there again.

On Saturday, I finally saw Man of Steel with my husband. Monsters University or Despicable Me 2 would have both come before this movie in my queue, but since it came out first, it was only fair to see this one first. (We are woefully behind because of the whole moving thing.)

I didn't have enormous expectations because I'm not necessarily a die-hard Superman fan, but most superhero movies are at least worth seeing, so I had a general expectation that it would be enjoyable.

It wasn't The Worst Move I've Ever Seen, but I definitely thought it was lacking.

Keep in mind that I like good stories and don't go see movies for special effects or action, but overall I left feeling like it was very surface level in terms of story and character development, and I wasn't invested in it hardly at all.

Here were my main issues with it: [NOTE: calling them "issues" makes it seem like I care deeply about the making of this movie or the legacy of the Superman franchise, but in reality I just have a lot of opinions about things that don't matter.]


1. I didn't care about Superman. In order for me to enjoy a movie, I need to be invested in it. I need to know at least enough to know why that person is the way he is, what gets under his skin, how he interacts with people, etc. Clark, to me, didn't make relationships or interact with people. He had like six lines in the first hour and a half of the movie. He just stood around looking solemn and broody. Don't get me wrong, he was pretty and all, and there's nothing wrong with broody, but this role is not requiring much acting from Henry Cavill at this point. The most emotion I saw him display was when he was yelling at his dad in the truck when he was a teenager.

I'm just saying, I at least need a PERSONALITY. Even if I don't have a ton of background information, show me what you are like. EMOTE. Make me want to hang out with you. Or punch you. Just don't float somewhere in between. And I don't like perfect super heroes. Give me some flaws. Give me some mistakes. Give me some regret. I just need more human elements.

Point 1 Thor for having all of these things, and still being pretty.

2. Superman looked better with a beard. I was sorely disappointed that he didn't stay scruffy. I thought it was an exponential improvement from the stereotypical Superman appearance and would have been a welcome refresh to the whole Superman look. But I'm partial to facial hair. Wouldn't you have liked him better if he kept the beard? Is it a requirement to be clean-cut and slick back your hair if you wear a cape? I'm asking.

My new mission in life is to create the first scruffy super hero. He will wear a v-neck.

3. It could have ended like three times. I mean honestly. When Zod was STILL alive after all the others got sucked into a black hole and they fought for like another three hours? Just...we get it, okay? Enough.

4. More setup, less fighting please. I know this is a total girl move, but overall this movie lacked background. I need to know how Clark just HAPPENED upon the ship. I need to know how they just flip a switch to change the air from "human compatible" to "Krypton-person (Kryptonite??) compatible." I need to know how Giselle from Enchanted who is a JOURNALIST in this film, by the way, came up with a way to create a black hole to suck the bad guys into. I need to know how they arrived at that conclusion. Too many things in this movie seemed coincidental.

Also, things that could have been fleshed out more got totally bullet-pointed, and I was left wondering what the heck just happened. Like all of a sudden Russell Crowe reappears and Clark now has a full costume and a cape and apparently had time to shave and he can fly now and WHAT. I don't understand how he could I know he jumped and could soar because of less gravity and all, but how does that translate to FLYING and HOVERING? I NEED MORE INFORMATION.

And thanks for telling me Zod's predisposed job at the very end. Could've used that information 45 minutes ago. I would have cared more.

5. STOP RUINING BUILDINGS THERE ARE STILL PEOPLE IN THERE! Yo. Clark. The rest of the bad guys have been sucked into a black hole and Metropolis has stopped caving in on itself. Let's take the fight outside, okay? How about let's NOT flail around amid skyscrapers and send several more crashing down. Also by the way this movie could've ended 10 minutes ago.

Basically I've concluded that Dr. Who has ruined everything else for me by creating such a complex and beloved character that I can't even deal with Superman's blah-ness anymore. [But really, was him fighting Zod not just a worse version of The Doctor's face-off with The Master? Someone help me out here.]

In conclusion, Superman should've had a beard, and I need someone to make up a backstory or two for me.

Have you seen Man of Steel? What did you think? (Males, feel free to argue that fighting > story development. I won't be offended.)

What I Have In Common With a Fictional Neurotic Teenager


Holden Caulfield is crazy. Let's be honest. He's as crazy as his name is awesome.

But many things about his character resonated with me, and I really enjoyed reading Catcher in the Rye.

I've been on a mini-quest to read some books considered "classics" by most but that I've never read. I really enjoy reading fiction, as evidenced by last Thursday's post, and I figured there had to be something to these books to make them so popular and revered so widely as great stories.

So I just finished The Catcher in the Rye. (I almost always leave off the "The" when I talk about it. I feel like I should at least once call it by its official name. Do ol' J.D. Salinger justice.)

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. On its face it doesn't really have a point, I suppose. It doesn't really have your typical beginning, middle and end. I mean, it does in a sense, but it's much more subtle and you can't really figure out why Holden is telling you all this.

You're also stuck inside Holden's head, which doesn't really allow for much of a level-headed, unbiased perspective. It's a bit of a rambling recap of the escapade that was his last 48 hours, but I very much enjoyed it.

Primarily because I loved Holden as a character and could identify with a lot of his characteristics.

So here are the things I loved and identified with most about this kid:

1) His rejection of all things "phony." Holden takes this idea to the extreme--to the point where he has little tolerance for anyone he comes into contact with. He lacks any sort of grace for people he sees as "phony" (which is most people). But I do appreciate that he wants people to be genuine and is fed up with all the pretense. I also like that he admits that some of it is necessary to life and, he hates the fact that he subscribes to the same thing himself.

For example, when observing the fact that he says "Glad to have met ya" to someone he was not, in fact, glad to have met at all, he succumbs, "if you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though."

I totally identify with him on this anti-phony sentiment. Of course, I don't take it to the level that he does, but I am drawn to what I see as genuine and put off by what I feel is fake. And I, too, see the necessity for the little phony-isms here and there, even though I see the ridiculousness of it just like he does.

2) His understanding that not everything is black and white. This was one of my absolute favorite quotes in the book, and it's in the first 10 pages:

And yet I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true. People always think something's all true.

I love that. I, too, hate feeling like I am misrepresented--that one of my characteristics overshadowed the rest and someone I don't know very well might assume that's how I am all the time. I know that's also something to concern myself less with, but it still happens.

I get the feeling that's what Holden was saying in that sentence. Nothing is 100 percent one way or the other. It's almost always a blend, and we have to be careful to make generalizations.

3) His desire to protect the innocent. Holden knows that life isn't pretty. He knows things aren't what they should be and that bad things happen. But he still strives to protect those that don't know it yet. Deep down, I think even he doesn't really want to grow up too fast.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when he writes a letter to his little sister Phoebe to meet him during her lunch break from school, and he goes to her school to deliver it. He sits down on the staircase, then says:

But while I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody'd written 'F*** you' on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them - all cockeyed, naturally - what it meant, and how they'd all think about it maybe even worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever wrote it.

He rubs the phrase off the wall. Then after delivering the letter, he continues:

I went down by a different staircase, and I saw another 'F*** you' on the wall.I tried to rub it off with my hand again, but this one scratched on, with a knife or something. It wouldn't come off. It's hopeless, anyway. Even if you had a million years to do it, uou couldn't rub out even half the "F*** you" signs in the world. It's impossible.

Finally, when he is seeking solace later in a quiet spot in the museum, he sees another one written in red crayon on the wall and laments:

That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody will sneak up and write "F*** you" right under your nose.Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetary, and I have a tombstone and all, it'll say "Holden Caulfield" on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, then right under that it'll say "F*** you." I'm positive, in fact.

[Censoring my own. :)]

I love that he wants to protect the world from its own badness, but he can't. He realizes it's impossible, but he still tries. I love that nobility. Especially in a 17-year-old.

If you want an enjoyable, quick read that you can still learn from, I highly recommend Catcher in the Rye.

What's your favorite character in a classic novel? (Or, if you've read "Catcher," what's your favorite or least favorite thing about Holden?)

An Amateur Analysis of Disney/Pixar's "Brave"


As a connoisseur of all things pop culture (I use this term loosely), I wear many hats. Sometimes I track trends, sometimes I question current events, sometimes I write ballad poetry about Spencer Pratt. I'm really a renaissance woman if you think about it.

Anyway, today, much like little Theodore in the picture above (whose name I just gave him), I wear the hat of movie critic.

Saturday my husband and I saw the new Disney/Pixar movie, Brave. Anyone who knows me at all or has even talked to me for more than five minutes probably knows I love all things Disney. Pixar movies are no exception. Needless to say, I was pretty excited.

I have viewed the film (movie critics call movies "films," you guys) and made some assessments I'd like to share with you.


If you haven't seen Brave but care deeply about keeping your ears away from major plot points, unfortunately this is your stop. I won't give away endings or anything, so that you can still go see it, but I'll be giving away some of the plot that isn't covered in the trailer.

So, here we go.

An amateur analysis of Disney/Pixar's Brave:

Overall, though I thought it was a fun movie, I was disappointed that it didn't hit the bar most--actually, all--Pixar movies have set. It was no Up. Here's the three main things that threw me off:

1) There were more bears than I would have expected. Like, 500 percent more bears. I expected approximately zero bears. There were five. Little bears, big bears, mean bears, nice bears who start losing their inner identity as a human and slipping into becoming a ferocious bear...basically all your types of bears.

The thing the trailer does not tell you is that the central plot point of this movie is actually the main character's mother (the queen) turning into a bear. I know, I know. I was surprised, too. And something has to happen [I won't tell you what, so as not to ruin it completely] before the 2nd sunrise in order for her NOT to remain a bear forever. So there's that.

2) The characters and story were underdeveloped, in my opinion. I don't know how Pixar usually accomplishes this, because this movie was probably the same length as Nemo, Up, Toy Story, etc., but it definitely needed a little more. There were concepts in the movie we were just forced to accept without any explanation, and I feel like movies need to give you a reason to care about what's happening. In order for me to invest in it, I need to know the point. I need some background narrative or something. I also felt like it resolved super quickly. The tension didn't last long enough for me to be worried that it might not resolve, you know?

Anyway, for example, there is a witch in the story who we don't get to know at all. She just lives in the woods, has no name, makes wood carvings by day but turns people into bears by night. We see her for about five minutes then don't see her again. What's that about? I'm just saying, Pixar. Step it up, story-wise.

I learned more about the characters in Up during a 90-second montage than I did in the entirety of this movie.

3) I was under the impression that the main storyline was the suitor business. And that she would go off on an adventure and learn things and meet other characters and everything. But then the bear thing happened and I think it just unraveled my suspension of disbelief. It totally took a left turn from what I expected. I think they needed to hint at that in the trailer--y'know, just to prepare me for bears. Maybe there was a more bear-heavy trailer and I just missed it, but because I wasn't expecting it, it had already gone on for like 20 minutes before I realized, "oh...ok..this is the main plot? Alright, we're doing this. Bears. Got it."

I still enjoyed it because it was Pixar and it was a fun movie, but it just didn't have the depth that all the other Disney/Pixar, and even regular Disney (like Princess & the Frog, which is one of my favorites), have.

So in conclusion: bears.

So in addition to being a terrible judge of men, Maynard is also a sub-par judge of what constitutes a "great" movie. As if anyone's surprised. [For all my fellow Bachelorette commentators out there.]

If you've seen Brave, what did you think? Am I totally off-base? If not, what's your favorite Pixar movie?

Books I'm Gushing Over: "Every Bush Is Burning"

I don't usually do book reviews, usually because I'm too busy talking about groundbreaking topics like babyonce and mustache parties. But I read a book this week that I had to tell you about. It's called "Every Bush Is Burning," by Brandon Clements.


I heard about it through Knox McCoy's Awesometown interview. I had some time to kill last week and remembered there was a free excerpt available. Since most people in Awesometown are in fact awesome, I decided to check it out.

And guys. I could not stop reading it.

When I finished reading the excerpt and found out the Kindle version was only $.99 (score 1 for the poor married person), I bought it immediately. It was literally the next thing I did. And I finished it in about four days. Which is fast for me. (Don't hate.)

Sometimes I come across a book or a blog post that I almost see my own heart in. The kind of writing I absolutely love but am simultaneously totally jealous of because I wish I'd written it. This is one of those times.

Here is the description from the book's website, to give you a quick synopsis before I tell you what I loved about it:

It’s about a rough-around-the-edges guy named Jack whose life is falling apart and who, despite having awful experiences with Christianity, makes an unlikely friendship with a crazy homeless guy who claims to be Jesus. It’s a story about forgiveness, satisfaction, and the sometimes tragically painful sins of the church.

Reasons I will gush to you about how great it is:

1) First and foremost, its honesty. For me, in a world full of masks and perfectly polished shoes, anything or anyone genuine stands out. This book isn't pretty. It's not tied up in a nice, neat bow. It's a little jagged, a little off-center---much like its main character---but it has heart. It's brave. It's intended to spark conversation, not give you all the answers. It doesn't really resolve (I had a feeling it wouldn't)--but sometimes life doesn't resolve.

Even though it's fiction, it feels real--because it is real. It's life. It's full of mistakes and pain, but also joy and laughter and Taking Back Sunday references (which made the emo highschooler in me happy). Even though the details may not have actually happened, the emotions, the story, the people--they're all real in their own way. And you can sense it. I'm willing to bet you will see some of your own experience reflected in it.

2) It's a compelling story. I'm a sucker for a good story, and this one definitely fits the bill. You almost immediately get a sense of Jack's character and become invested in him (even if you hate him--which you probably will at first). There's a sense of urgency and suspense throughout the whole book that compels you to keep going, chapter after chapter. It was hard to tear away from. It's relatable, but still unpredictable.

3) It is creative. The framework of this book is unique. The entire book is written from the perspective of the main character writing a letter to another person--someone he doesn't know, sitting near him in a coffee shop. It's conversational, and you can sense kindness in his voice as he writes. He uses flash backs within his story and jerks you back to the present (where he is actually writing the letter), but it's never confusing.

4) On a personal-preference note, it dealt with traumatic issues in a manner that evoked emotion, but it wasn't so graphic I couldn't handle it. I can't watch or read scenes that are super graphic--it will stay etched on my brain for weeks and chances are I will have nightmares. Not kidding. I can't help what I dream, ok? I have an active imagination. (It's a blessing and a curse.) I felt like this book described enough to get an understanding of the painful situation and challenge me to think about it without going into too much detail. I respected that (and was thankful for it).

5) It captures what I believe to be the heart of Christianity. It strips down all the ritual, all the misconceptions, all the arguments against it, and just speaks truth. It talks redemption, unconditional love, the heartbreaking effects of sin...I think it really gets to the center of who Jesus is without sacrificing the things that are hard to hear.

If you're interested in reading the book, check out the site to read a very generous free excerpt from Brandon. You won't regret it!

What's a great book you've read lately?