Night Shift, by Charlaine Harris

Another fantastic tale of the odd residents of Midnight, Texas! In this, the third installment, people are coming to the crossroads in Midnight for the sole purpose of killing themselves.

Eventually, the residents figure out that something supernatural is going on, and more than likely, it lives underground right below the traffic signal at the crossroads.

In the meantime, as a subplot, someone seems to be after Olivia (the local assassin), and Teacher and Madonna Reed (Madonna runs and cooks at the local diner), don’t seem to be exactly who we thought they were.

It turns out that the entity living under the crossroads is attempting to rise. And it wants Fiji, the local witch. Virgin witch.

There’s plenty of fun and action in this story, and the Midnight series has become my favorite of Ms. Harris’s. I’ve really grown rather attached to the people of Midnight.

Now, I have watched the first season of the TV show adapted from these books. What is weird to me, as I began to read the third book, is that they took plot elements from both book one and book three. And threw in a few non-book scenarios, as well. The TV show was fun, though, and they teased the second book at the end of the first season, so I hope there will be a second season. I also hope that Charlaine will change her mind about this being a trilogy and write some more Midnight, Texas books.

TTFN, y’all!

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Entanglement by Sameer Ketkar

This was a fascinating tale of two people, born on opposite sides of the earth, at exactly the same moment, whose lives were inextricably entangled.

They felt each other’s heartbeats. They felt each other’s emotions. They could even feel each other’s pain. There were other downsides to this, as well, as each one could only sleep when the other one slept. So, as long as they were far apart, they slept about four hours a night.

Eventually, they met, and fell in love, assuming that they were perfect for each other. The closer they got, the louder they heard each other’s heartbeats. And, when they were in the same location, they both slept all night long.

But that’s also when the storm started. Their relationship was a fiery one, made complicated by the fact that each one always knew what the other was thinking.

It’s a fun read, with a tragic ending, although I will not reveal the details of that here. I’m not sure what genre I would place this in. In some ways it is science fiction, but in some ways it is also fantasy, and even a bit of romance thrown in.

TTFN, y’all!

Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard’s Teaching on Faith and Formation

They had three different memorial services for Dallas Willard, after he passed away in 2013. The essays in this book are divided into the same categories as the three memorials; close friends and family, colleagues in the philosophy realm, and students and others that were inspired by Dallas’s life and work.

I didn’t recognize very many of the names. Richard Foster opened up the book, followed by Dallas’s wife Jane, then his daughter, grand-daughter, and his son. The first two essays had me crying all the way home from work (I listened to this on my drive home from work each day).

I will confess that some of the essays by the philosophy colleagues were a bit over my head, and not quite as inspiring. And there were a couple of the other essays that I simply didn’t like. One person was a gung-ho evangelist type (not there’s anything wrong with that, mind you) who seemed to try to transfer his own passion for evangelism onto words that he thought Dallas would have said in a large stadium full of people. It sounded more like what Billy Graham would have said. I found myself thinking, “I don’t think Dallas would have said that at all!”

The book closes out with John Ortberg, a close, life-long friend of Dallas’s, talking about all the questions that people constantly asked Dallas, all beginning with, “Hey, Dallas!”

I could easily add my own essay to the mix, about how Dallas Willard’s work has inspired me, and continues to inspire me. I’ve read The Spirit of the Disciplines, Hearing God (previously titled In Search of Guidance), and Renovation of the Heart. I’m currently reading The Divine Conspiracy. Very slowly. Dallas’s work has been described as “dense.” It is that and more. It’s like every single word has meaning, and must be chewed slowly, like a delicious steak dinner.

One of the contributors said something to the effect of, “When Dallas died, we lost a five-star general in the army of the Lord.” That very well may be true, but he left behind a lot of people to carry on the work of transformation in the body of Christ. Many of those contributed to this volume.

TTFN, y’all!

Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City continues where the first Miss Peregrine’s book left off. The children are navigating toward the mainland, away from the island where their now destroyed loop and home are. They rescued Miss Peregrine from the wights in the submarine, but she is stuck in bird form.

This book seems to be all about carrying on in the face of despair. Right from the beginning, there seems to be little hope of success for this rag-tag team of peculiar children, who, let’s face it, can’t even seem to get along with each other.

I’m not going to include and real plot information, because almost anything I write could be considered spoilage, and I certainly don’t want to do that. Suffice it to say that these children demonstrate great fortitude in their journey from Cairnholm Island. Along the way, they meet some strange and interesting, um . . . “people?”

Of course, the book ends with a massive plot twist and cliff-hanger ending. So I can’t wait to get my hands on the third book, Library of Souls. Oh, and I almost forgot, this book is most certainly enhanced by the strange and real photographs that Riggs has found along the way.

TTFN, y’all!

Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton

I noticed that one reviewer said that this book was worthless. I wouldn’t go that far, but it was probably my stubbornness that made me finish the book.

There are some gems in here, though, so perhaps it was patience more than stubbornness.

One of the gems is his insistence that we be both astonished at the world and at home in it. And in this book, he sets out to prove that his faith, Christianity, is the only way to accomplish that. It is interesting that, in his defense, he says that he set out to discover something, and then found that it had already been discovered. At one point, he says that he tried to be “ten minutes in advance of the truth,” but instead, found himself to be “eighteen hundred years behind it.”

As he proceeds, he says things like, “Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness.” One of my favorites, “Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess players do.” I don’t know if I agree with that one hundred percent, but I see some truth in it. Bobby Fischer was most definitely on the edge of insanity. “Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite.”

Chesterton kind of loses me, though, in his lengthy discussion of optimism and pessimism. In all, the book is quite philosophical, and I will confess that I am not well-trained in the language of philosophy. I kept reading, though, and did finish the book. One thing I will say is that this book seems to have been written in 1908. A lot of things have changed since then. As Stephen King says in his Dark Tower series, the world has moved on. I think Chesterton might have written a slightly different book, had he been alive today.

TTFN, y’all!

The Beauty of the Fall, by Rich Marcello

I received this book as part of the Goodreads giveaway program (do they still call it First Reads?).

I almost put this book down when the main character smashed a Martin guitar with a sledgehammer, within the first ten pages. There is nothing bad enough, NOTHING, that could EVER make me do that!

Dan Underlight, is a driven man, who has started a company. The thing that caused him to smash the guitar was his release from that company by his business partner, Olivia. The thing that caused him to lose that job was, ultimately, the death of his ten-year-old son.

After grieving for a bit, he begins working on this new idea he had, a somewhat fantastic idea that involves people coming together on the Internet to change the world. The probability of something like this ever actually happening is, of course, very slim.

As the story progresses, Dan, who has already been divorced, destroys another relationship because he has issues with trust. And, it seems that he never learns, because he continues to pour every ounce of his life into work, which he claims to believe is what was responsible for the death of his son.

And lets not forget the hypocrisy of him having an ongoing relationship with a prostitute (several times a week), while engaging in conversations about the evils of prostitution, with hopes of causing legislation to be passed that would eventually eliminate it. But it’s all okay, because he stopped.

I think Rich Marcello’s writing style is good. I might like him if he wrote a different story. And, in all fairness, I’m probably not in the target audience for this one. There was way too much business lingo for me, much of which I will be perfectly honest and say I didn’t understand. I’m not a business person, not an entrepreneur. I can’t even spell it.

There were parts of the book that I didn’t like, and parts that I did like. But not enough to get more than an “it’s okay” two-star rating.

TTFN, y’all!

Renovation of the Heart, by Dallas Willard

Let me start out by saying this is a tough read. John Ortberg once described Dallas’s writing as being “dense.” Well, this book is certainly “dense.” It took me just over a month to finish it, and I will read it again, even more slowly, right after I finish my re-reading of Practice Resurrection, by Eugene H. Peterson.

In this book, Willard introduces the concept of “spiritual formation,” and goes through all of the various parts of the human being that need to be renovated, or transformed: the mind, the will, the body, the soul, and even the social dimension of the person. He tackles each of these dimensions individually in one or two chapters each.

He finishes the work with talking about how we need to be children of light, and then goes into a final chapter about how this all should play out in the local congregation.

There are many moments in this book that caused me to stop and think about what he had written, most especially what he wrote concerning being and making disciples, from Matthew 28:18-20. I’ll end this with a quote from Ray Stedman, that Dallas quoted in the last chapter.

“God’s first concern is not what the church does, it is what the church is. Being must always precede doing, for what we do will be according to what we are. To understand the moral character of God’s people is a primary essential in understanding the nature of the church. As Christians we are to be a moral example to the world, reflecting the character of Jesus Christ.” (From Ray Stedman’s book, Body Life: The Church Comes Alive)

For anyone interested in spiritual formation, this is a must read.

TTFN, y’all!