The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis

The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis takes the idea of imagination and completely expands it past what you might have previously supposed. While there is no question that C.S. Lewis was an imaginative individual, the book breaks apart the types of imagination that Lewis uses in various writings. Root and Neal provide a guide for getting more out of Lewis’ books by going beyond the surface and the stories and looking into how imagination played a key role in not only content but also the message behind the words.

I was a little surprised to find the depths to which the authors went when unpacking Lewis’ imagination. But after acquainting myself with the style and message of the book, I’ll admit, I was eager to get to the next chapter. Presented in these pages is a deep look into more than just imaginary creatures and captivating stories. Instead, there are examples, using Lewis’ own words that explain an overall worldview and perspective that many have left behind. I count myself one person that has had an eye-opening experience reading this book, looking at life in a new and different way.

There is no doubt that the text can be challenging and at times read like a textbook. But despite the academic language and explanations, this is still a book that is well worth the read. In fact, it doesn’t need to be read cover to cover. Lewis enthusiasts may just want to pick out one chapter of interest that corresponds to one of their favorite Lewis writings. If you think you have a grasp on the imagination, I would challenge you to read The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis and see if you have truly pushed your imagination and thought as far as it can go.

Just as Lewis consistently used doors as a metaphor to transport someone to a new location, consider this book your door to a new perspective on imagination.

Nightmare City by Andrew Klavan

Klavan’s story begins with a high school journalist that wakes up to find that life as he knows it has taken a dramatic turn. With people missing, cryptic messages over the phone and television, and a mist that seems to be taking over the neighborhood, Tom must do what he does best: seek out the truth. Unfortunately, learning the truth always comes with a cost.

This book, much like the other books by Andrew Klavan that I have read, is written in an easy to follow manner. As the descriptions are provided, characters come to life and their struggle continues to keep the reader’s attention. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where the story was headed but it was interesting enough to stick around and find out what was going on with Tom and his situation.

The message, while subtle, offers an interesting look at the supernatural versus the reality that we feel most comfortable with. I love that his stories don’t tend to be over the top or preachy as far as the message goes. It leaves the reader hopeful and encouraged. While most people won’t face the difficulties that Tom was subject to, everyone has times when the struggle and fall prey to fear and disappointment.

This book would be a great read for middle school students, high school students, and even adults looking for something that provides a little bit of mystery.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Dark Halo by Shannon Dittemore

If you had the choice, would you give up being able to see the good in the world if it meant that you no longer had to see the bad?

Brielle has been gifted with celestial sight, the ability to see beyond the current circumstances in life and into the realm that includes both angels and demons and the fight for people’s souls. Through circumstances beyond her control, she comes to a crossroad and must make a decision. Both choices will affect her life with her boyfriend Jake, another gifted individual with the ability to heal, her father, struggling to come to grips with a secret that he has held onto for years, and the city of Stratus that is currently under attack.

Dark Halo by Shannon Dittenmore is more than just a book. To me, it was a challenge to realize that things are not always as they seem. In moments that we feel most alone, we aren’t. In times when it feels like life is a struggle, there really are two sides that battle it out. This book, much like one of my favorites, This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti gives the reader a glimpse into the celestial and the things that our human eyes and sometimes out human hearts cannot truly comprehend.

After agreeing to read Dark Halo and complete the review, I realized that this is book 3 in the Angel Eyes series. While the author says that it is possible to read this one without having read the others (it is) I would suggest going back and reading the first two, Angel Eyes and Broken Wings. Both were well worth the time and ensured that Dark Halo completed the circle.

Thomas Nelson Publishing provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Prison by Toni V. Lee

Sonja Grey is an undercover police officer that is determined to take down a local drug dealer, Johnny Stone, aka Rock with the help of a fellow officer, Max Trent. Trent attempts to disarm the usually tough Grey while they work together to take on a mission inside her local church. The cast of characters adds to the antics the couple goes through in their search for justice.

This was really not a favorite for me. The entire plot seemed a little too predictable and at times, the dialog tried way too hard to convey what was going on between characters. While I liked the connection between Grey and Trent, there were a few points that seemed to be confusing and a few areas that seemed to work out a little too well.

To me, some of the messages of the book tended to come across a bit preachy. Sidelined characters came through with messages that were straight from the pulpit instead of allowing the story and the concepts to speak for themselves. While I was entertained at times, there were moments when the “message” seemed to take away from the story and the book in general.

Recommending the novel to others is tough. There may be readers that like when the plot is predictable and in turn, everyone lives happily ever after without anything really hindering the characters in the end. If this is the case, this is the perfect book for those readers. On the other hand, for those interested in a more complex plot, this may not be the book of choice.

Thomas Nelson publishing provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Asylum: The Circeae Tales by Ashley Hodges Bazer

When Captain Chase Leighton finds out that his wife has gone missing, his experiences a variety of different emotions. As Asylum: The Circeae Tales continues, Leighton will find himself going to extraordinary lengths just to get her back. As the plot unfolds, Trista, Leighton’s wife is discovered, however she no longer goes by that name and no longer has the beliefs that her friends and family have held close for years. What happens when regaining someone is almost more difficult than losing him or her completely?

From the beginning, I was hooked. I’m not much of a sci-fi reader but I love sci-fi movies so I assumed that this book would be a great read for me. I was not disappointed. Bazer knits together a plot that is both heart wrenching and insightful. While there are obvious points when the message of the book is a little overwhelming, the majority of the story is filled with subtle references to a Higher Power and His control in the lives of the people. The sentences flowed smoothly and it was easy to get caught up in the story of Chase, Trista, the Legacy, and the Ghosts.

Aside from the entertainment value of the book, there is an inspiring message and one that we can never hear too often. There is always a plan. Even if we don’t see it, there is a reason for everything that happens.

Would I recommend the book to others? Absolutely. However, I would consider starting at the back of the book with the definitions for some of the more difficult people, places, and things in the book. For those that don’t want any of the mystery revealed too quickly, consider using the back of the book as a resource when a specific idea doesn’t make sense or isn’t clear. (I had trouble keeping track of all the different people, their names and their jobs on either side of the spectrum.)

Thomas Nelson Publishing provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.