January 31st, 2015

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Savage Battle Cottage; Fox Drift

Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress, by Sarwat Chadda
A splendid concoction - very like the Percy Jackson books, but not copies - and with Indian mythology rather than Greek. We know a 13-year-old who'll be getting this series for his birthday (but I'll finish it myself first).

The Tale of Castle Cottage, by Susan Wittig Albert
A vast improvement on the last book in this series, but not as good as the early ones. I think it stayed on the right side of the twee line, but then I am so fond of the idea of Beatrix Potter solving crimes in a village filled with animals that talk to each other like they were Beatrix Potter characters, that I have a lot of willingness for these. Also I tend to enjoy authorial intrusions if they're done with warmth.

The Battle Bunny Book, by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers
A sappy kid's book altered by an imaginary kid to become an epic tale involving many battles and the kid himself being needed to save the day. Really fun.

Jane, the Fox and Me, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault
I have a soft spot for stories set in Montreal, but even without that, this would have pleased me deeply. Dreamlike and imaginative, without eliding the pains of middle school.

Monument 14: Savage Drift, by Emmy Laybourne
An exciting and satisfying conclusion to this man-made disaster trilogy. I confess I miss the hook of the kids being stuck in the superstore, but there was more than enough drama to make up for it.
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Book #4: "Fundamentalism" and the Word of God by J.I. Packer

Number of pages: 191

This is quite a recent edition, but it is a reprint of a book first published in 1958. It conveys the sense of having been written entirely on a typewriter just in the style it is printed in.

The book explores the meaning of fundamentalism, which he notes has "recently grown notorious".

With groups like Westboro Baptist Church, it's not surprising that fundamentalists gets such a bad reputation.

The word "fundamentalism" refers to the act of taking scripture completely literally, and in his book J.I. Packer seems quite passionate about his beliefs and upset that many evangelists are referred to as "fundamentalists".

I got the sense reading it that the author was somewhat conservative himself with his views, as he made his points. A lot of the subject matter in the book is about the increasingly secular society that we live in, and he seemed particularly upset about liberal forms of Christianity that skip over areas of scripture, seemingly to satisfy others who might not agree.

As well as complaining about the impact of liberalism, he asserts the importance of faith and understanding the scriptures, and also highlighted places where churches themselves were failing to remember these things. Overall, there were some points where I was able to identify with and agree with what he was saying, particularly with regard to the typical cynicism of modern times, and there were some arguments that surprised me as they were things I'd never even thought of.

This book over overly political and philosophical, and is not a particularly easy read. I had to re-read some chapters because I found some of the language difficult, and sometimes what I had read just would not sink in. If you're into challenging books and philosophy, I would recommend it.

Next book: The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
cats on bookshelf

Book 9 : Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Book 9: Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2).
Author: Stephen King. 2013.
Genre: Horror. Ghosts.
Other Details: Hardcover. 486 pages.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless - mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the 'steam' that children with the 'shining' produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him and a job at a nursing home where his remnant 'shining' power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes 'Doctor Sleep. Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan's own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra's soul and survival .
- synopsis from UK publisher's website.

When I first started the book I wondered whether 'The Shining' really needed a sequel and yet quite quickly I was caught up in Danny's tragic yet redemptive story. Aside from being a very scary tale about a group of psychic vampires who travel the byways of the USA preying on children who have psychic gifts such as Danny's , the novel returns to the themes explored in 'The Shining' such as the legacy of Jack's drinking and violence and that some buildings or places can hold the seeds of evil.

Danny's own fall into alcoholism and the role of the AA in assisting those who want to break that cycle also is explored. I cannot imagine being so dependant upon drink or what it would be like to have to avoid completely and yet King did provide a graphic picture of what it is like.

The novel wasn't quite as powerful as 'The Shining' but still deserved full marks for continuing the story and also addressing some important social issues. I especially enjoyed Danny's role serving the dying assisted by the hospice's cat that was clearly inspired by the real life tale of Oscar.