Spring Cleaning Challenge Update
A little over a month into the challenge and as a group, you’ve all read 4o books. New followers and readers, there’s still lots of time to join in the challenge! A little less than two months to go and reading even one book will count for the prize draw. Find the instructions in the challenge tab.
It’s a tough race for first place between Tracy and Kate. Remember that the first place reader gets a prize but the grand prize will be drawn randomly from everyone who reads at least one book. The more books you read, the more entries you get for the grand prize draw. Below are our current standings. Participants: let me know if you notice any errors in your scores.
Kate – 10
Tracy – 9
Becky – 4
Ellen – 3
Nicole D – 3
Andrea – 2
Lynsey – 2
Sushicat – 2
Brandy – 1
Tessa – 1
Tricia – 1
What do you think of the challenge thus far? Have you been surprised by any books (pleasantly or unpleasantly)?
Please take the time to read the reviews of books read thus far (since last update). You might find something you’d like to read.
The History of Love – Nicole Krauss. Read by Nicole D.
I don’t often read a book’s synopsis. Most books I choose because of a history with the author, or a friends review. This book I dismissed outright because of the title. Even though it was a 1001 book, I thought it would be nothing more than trite sentimentality. This was not the case.
It was definitely sentimental, but in the most beautiful possible way. It’s a story of love, obviously, war and survival, family, longing … hope. The writing is beautiful but the structure is a bit confusing and I did feel lost a few times, but I was not left confused.
Absolutely loved it. And really – it ended perfectly, and so often that is not the case
Half of a Yellow Sun by Adichie. Read by Tricia
2.5 stars rounded to 3.
I really, really wanted to love this book. I went into it with super high expectations. However, as I actually delved into it something just kind of fell flat for me. I could not find a single character I liked enough to care what happened to them. Not even the new country, Biafra, could gain my sympathies. Not liking the citizens made it hard for me to care how it fared in the war. I’m not saying they (characters) weren’t well-written because I think that they were. I understand who they were, why they were, and how they evolved through the conflict but I was unable to connect on an emotional level to anyone or any part of the book and for this sort of book I find that to be disastrous to my level of enjoyment.
That said, the writing was very good and I’m sure I’ll read more of this author. I also am glad I read it because it’s a part of African history (one of many, many parts) of which I was completely unaware. It’s was a worthy way to spend a few days of my reading time but I left the experience underwhelmed by the story itself.
Lamb by Christopher Moore. Read by Kate
Started to read this Thursday for Jen’s Spring Cleaning Challenge and finished it on Easter! Perfect timing. The angel Raziel raises Levi bar Alphaeus, known as Biff, from the dead, gives him the gift of tongues and sequesters him in a modern hotel room for the purposes of writing another gospel. Biff you see was Joshua bar Joseph’s (you know him as Jesus) best friend and his account can tell us what the Messiah was up to for all of those years that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John skipped over completely. As the friends travel the East in search of knowledge and inspiration Moore manages to give us a humorous overview of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism to go with the expected send up of biblical Judaism. As an extra bonus Biff manages to invent sarcasm, the latte, and pencils among other things.
For those who think they might find this premise offensive I enjoyed this quote from the author in the afterword:”This story is not and never was meant to challenge anyone’s faith; however, if one’s faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel one may have a bit more praying to do.” A sentiment that anyone who gets worked up by cartoons should consider as well.
The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman. Read by Lynsey
Lyra Belacqua is a feisty young orphan, being raised by a bunch of scholars at Jordan College. In Lyra’s world, all human beings have daemon’s, which is basically their soul in animal form. People are never alone as their daemons never stray far from them. When Lyra learns that there are gobblers taking children from her town, including her best friend Roger, she teams up with a band of “Gyptians” to head North and get the children back. Lots of twists and turns make for an action packed story.
It has been a long time since I have read a fantasy novel for my own pleasure. A favorite genre of mine when I was a child and young adult, I slipped away from reading it in pursuit of more “serious” reads. Then I had kids and began reading the genre again and enjoyed reading old favorites along with new ones. However, I feel that I have gotten rusty in my ability to imagine unimaginable worlds and scenarios. I found it very difficult to set aside my inner critic and just enjoy, needing to remind myself that this book is meant for young adults. I found the book somewhat inconsistent in it’s writing, at times reading more like an adult book with more mature themes and at other times explaining things that didn’t need to be explained. Despite the inconsistencies, I found it to be a fun imaginative read, with a likable main character.
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. Read by Kate
Our story opens in the modern day when J. Will Dodd, the scion of an “old money” Chicago family, uncovers a family secret in the form of the 1875-1876 journals of his ancestor May Dodd. May did not end her life as the victim of a mundane unnamed illness in an Illinois asylum as the family had maintained. She was actually one of the thousand volunteer white brides secretly promised by the federal government to the Northern Cheyenne in an effort to peacefully assimilate that tribe.
This novel has been tagged as an alternative history as May’s husband Little Wolf was the Sweet Medicine Chief of the Northern Cheyenne as described in the novel but no such brides program actually existed and the details of his real life and role in the crushing defeat of the Cheyenne and their being forced into penury on reservations do not quite match up. The premise was interesting, tell the story of the Cheyenne’s last seasons as a free people on the Plains from the perspective their white brides, themselves outcasts from strict 19th century American society for one reason or another. However in practice I think the choice of the narrator cheapened the story putting a simplistic Dances with Wolves Hollywood treatment on a tragic genocide. I would have been equally or even more invested in the story had it been narrated by Little Wolf’s other young Cheyenne wife, Feather on Head. I also think the Tag alternative history is misleading in this case in that the outcome, the defeat of the plains tribes, was unchanged. Had the fictional brides program led to some sort of improved peaceful assimilation and better outcome for the Cheyenne the book would have earned the tag.
It’s probably good that we didn’t choose Physics of the Future for our Back to School challenge, since I found it a REALLY slow (though interesting) read.
Physics of the Future: Michio Kaku. Read by Becky
Kaku, a theoretical physicist, describes in Physics of the Future his view of how technology might advance over the next hundred years. Tackling topics like robotics/artificial intelligence, space travel, computers, and energy, Kaku describes present advances in these areas and how they might change society in the coming decades.
I found this book really interesting; I enjoyed reading about projects currently in progress at places like Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and CERN and how they could be applied in the future. This book is really one that needs to be read slowly, though. There’s too much information packed too tightly (I think) to fly through it, and Kaku’s definitely more a methodical scientist than a really innovative writer. It’s definitely a worthwhile read, but it’s not a book I see myself rereading any time soon.
Home by Marilynne Robinson. Read by Tracy
In the late 1950s, in Gilead, Iowa, the Reverend Robert Boughton and his daughter, Glory, await the promised arrival of the prodigal son, Jack. Jack hasn’t been home in 20 years, and even as a child, was never really at home- he never felt he belonged in a family of 8 children. When Jack does come home, he brings bitterness, joy, and hope for forgiveness from his father, along with a laundry list of sins that even a minister could find hard to forgive. Robert wants to be a family, and to be called something other than “Sir” by his favorite son, before he dies. Glory just wants to be needed, and to get to know her brother.
As Jack’s visit passes, he battles his vices, and Robert weakens. There are several discussions about the bible, and about what it says about forgiveness. Robert sees his son as a man who deserves love and forgiveness, and Jack feels he is beyond saving.
I enjoyed this book- the writing style was much more enjoyable for me than Gilead or Housekeeping, Robinson’s previous novels. The character development was excellent- each person seemed very real to me- I could certainly sympathize with Glory. The biggest downfall for me was that it got too preachy, and Jack was just a little too “Poor me” for my tastes. I liked it enough for 4 stars, but I’m not quite sure why it is on the 1001 list- it didn’t seem terribly unique to me.
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. Read by Kate
This is one of those books that leaves you feeling wrung out and emotionally exhausted, and that is the only reason that I’m not going to give it a favorite heart. I’ve put this title off for months because I expected that any book that dealt extensively with trench warfare in World War I would be rough reading. Those parts were every bit as harrowing as expected. Faulks doesn’t distract by trying to give any sort of an overview of the global strategies and troop movements. All of the war scenes are intimate, immediate, and deeply tragic. I had no idea of the role of the sappers in the war and, just as the main characters debated between themselves, still can’t decide who had it worse, the men underground or the infantry.
I was not expecting the impact and the eroticism of the love story. Most of the so called “romances” that I’ve read lately have seemed trite and predictable, often downright silly. Imagine my surprise to be so captivated by the romance in what I was dreading as a war novel. Equally vivid was the depiction of the effects of shell shock on the soldiers, particularly in the account of Stephen’s disorienting leave in England. I’m left contemplating how Europe could possibly have allowed themselves to plunge back into a global war one generation after suffering through this horror.
The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul By Douglas Adams. Read by Tracy
After reading some pretty deep, thought-provoking books lately, this was so refreshing!
Book #2 in the Dirk Gently series: A big Norwegian man causes a minor uproar at an airport, and then a thunderbolt hits from out of the blue. There are minor injuries, and the airline employee is missing. Thor strikes again. Meanwhile, Dirk Gently, late to meet with his new client, a one hit wonder songwriter, stumbles into an ongoing death investigation. Of his client, whose death was gruesome, and darn near impossible to rule a murder or a suicide. Throw in angry Norse gods, golden eagles, soul exchanging pacts, a mysterious Coke dispensing machine, and a cast of crazy characters in even crazier circumstances. Then you’ve got a classic Douglas Adams novel. Indescribable, but funny and very satisfying.
I’m sure it’s not a spoiler alert if I say that Dirk saved the day.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Read by Andrea
This is a novel which happens to cover different themes, as racism, prejudice, society, and growing up in a little town in the southern states during the 1930s; all of this from a point of view of a child, a girl, from age 6 to 9.
The story is narrated by, Scout, a nine year old girl, who tells the reader all about her life with her older brother Jem and their friend Dill, who only visits during summer time; about her father, Atticus, who’s a lawyer and stands up for what is right, no matter what. Through her innocence, she finds out the cruelty about racism and social classes that was going on at the time. Her father and brother try to make it easier for her to understand, and they also try to keep her child innocence as much as they can, but Scout has a grown up mind regard her age.
This novel is a must read, and now more than ever knowing that a second part is coming up.
Tell Me Lies by Jennifer Crusie. Read by Brandy
If you think small-town life can be boring–think again. There are complex social rules: there are certain people with whom you fraternize and those you don’t, and, of course, there is the all-powerful gossip. Everyone knows everything about everyone else. Don’t they? That’s what Maddie Farraday thinks until she finds a pair of black crotchless panties in her husband’s car that don’t belong to her. That’s it; Maddie’s had it. She’s ready for change, and the first thing she’s going to do is divorce her no-good, philandering husband Brent. But then everything goes haywire: Brent turns up dead, Maddie’s daughter wants a dog, her best friend is suddenly acting very strange, and Maddie’s secret boyhood crush, bad boy C. L. Sturgis, arrives in town after a 20-year hiatus–and he’s as sexy as ever. You may laugh out loud at the wild and crazy antics in Jennifer Crusie’s exceptional novel, but you’ll exclaim with delight over the sizzling, dynamic, passionate affair between Maddie and her first love, C. L.
Imagine my surprise to be given a reading challenge only to discover a Crusie book that I hadn’t read yet! I love Crusie, she has been a favorite author for years. In Tell Me Lies, Crusie takes the story down a more dark and serious road than normal. Maddie wasn’t my favorite character from a Crusie novel but the story was face paced and enjoyable. Crusie left me guessing as to the outcome all the way up to the end and that was a nice change of pace for a mystery twist. The passion was good, probably even sizzling, but the plot of this one overtook the romance in my opinion. And that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing although this book lacked Crusie’s normal light and quirky approach.
Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. Read by Kate
How does a peaceful civil protest become a bloody riot? Where is the line between a policeman’s legitimate self-defense and outright brutality? When does interrogation become torture? What is an individual’s responsibility to preserve and protect the greater good of the community? Why when the oppressed citizens manage to overthrow a tyrannical government and install a new regime is it always a case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”?
Pratchett tackles all of the above questions and more in an action packed time travel adventure that manages to be both thought provoking and funny enough to have me giggling out loud on a city bus at 6 am on a Monday morning. Certainly topics in today’s headlines. I don’t know exactly who Sir Terry had in mind as the inspiration for various characters but I had no problem slotting faces from the news onto the bumblers and evil doers.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. Read by Becky
I was given a collection of Tolstoy’s works featuring this novella in a Christmas gift exchange last year; I’m definitely glad that I read it. I found the first twenty pages of the novella less interesting than the latter part that delved into Ivan Ilyich’s thoughts over the course of his illness, but even the initial portion was no great trial. The magic and beauty of the novella really emerges in the latter part of the novella, though, as it succinctly and evocatively captures Ivan’s worldview and thoughts as he inexorably approaches death.
This novella proved a short, relatively painless read, and one that was definitely worthwhile.
Before I Go to Sleep – S.J. Watson. Read by Ellen
Every morning when she wakes up Christine Lucas has no idea where she is or who the man in bed next to her might be. Looking in the mirror expecting to see her 20 year old self staring back at her she sees instead a near stranger who is at least 2 decades older than she remembers. Patiently her husband Ben explains to her, as he does every day, that she was in a terrible accident many years ago and she suffers from amnesia so severe that she forgets everything once she falls asleep. Christine has been seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Nash, who has encouraged her to write in a journal every night before she goes to bed. In the mornings Dr. Nash calls Christine, explains who he is, and instructs her to go to the closet and find the journal in a shoe box where she has hidden it from Ben. As she reads the previous days’ entries, Christine begins to form vague images of memories and many of them are frightening and contrary to the things Ben has been telling her. Unsure of whether she can trust her husband Christine is afraid to share her regained memories with him and begins to doubt her own sanity. She knows that Ben has lied to her about very important events in her life but she cannot understand why he would do so. Finding out the truth might be the most dangerous thing she could possibly do.
I cannot imagine anything more frightening than the scenario used in this novel – to not know who you are every single day of your life. Of course you would not have any idea who you could trust and Christine’s journal shows how scared and desperate she becomes. I thought the story was very engrossing and certainly kept my attention. The ending was just a bit too over the top and unbelievable although I must admit I never saw the story going there. Overall an interesting book with a fairly good amount of suspense.
At Home by Bill Bryson. Read by Tracy
I must preface this by saying I love Bryson’s extensive work, because he’s a good writer. But I also like that he’s from Des Moines, Iowa, about 50 miles from my hometown. Of course, he doesn’t live in Iowa anymore, but I’d like to think that his experiences here were what made him a curious and eloquent guy.
His curiosity is what At Home is about. Inspired by his home in the English countryside, a former rectory, and the door in the attic that led to nowhere, he decided to research and write about our homes, and the events and things that shaped our comfort. He dedicates an entire chapter to the fusebox, and in it describes the history of lighting and heating our homes. He even goes into some detail about the different types of candles.
Bryson goes from room to room, describing everything from salt and pepper to the little Ice Age and the effects of each on our lives. And he does it in a way that actually keeps the reader interested.
I really liked this one- it was light and fascinating, and I find myself sharing tidbits with friends, family and coworkers. I like reading Bryson, but I’m not sure they like me reading Bryson!
This is definitely a book I would recommend to others, and all his books are worth reading. My favorites include his book on Shakespeare, A Walk in the Woods and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, but they’re all well worth reading.
Possession by A. S. Byatt. Read by Kate
As impoverished post-doc Roland Mitchell toils away at his research into the work of prolific Victorian poet Randolph Ash, he finds himself examining Ash’s own copy of a reference work in the London Library. When he opens the dusty long-neglected volume he is astonished to discover amid various notes and scribbling two drafts of a letter to an unnamed woman, evidently not Ash’s wife. Making a split second decision, Roland pockets the letters and sets off to research this mystery woman himself without notifying his boss, noted Ash scholar Dr. Blackadder, or indeed the rest of the ridiculously ardent Ash research community. He soon identifies the intended recipient of the letter as a relatively obscure poet by the name of Christabel LaMotte who has never been overtly linked to the more famous, and famously married Ash. Roland subsequently hooks up with the haughty and reserved Maud Bailey, a distant relative of LaMotte’s and Britain’s pre-eminent expert on her works. Together they attempt to figure out the relationship between the poets while dodging the interference and interest of a wide variety of intriguing and borderline grotesque fellow academicians.
Byatt’s prose was uniformly beautiful but I found the stretches rich with the jargon of literary criticism very heavy going. The long series of letters between Randolph and Christabel also made my eyes cross at times. By contrast I found the passages dealing with natural history and their time in Yorkshire delightful, no doubt due to the fact that I was a biology major rather than an English major. The ending was fun and satisfying.
Treasure Island by Stevenson. Read by Sushicat
Billy Bones, former pirate and a drunk, has taken residence at the inn of Jim Hawkins’ father. He’s hiding out from his former comrades who want the treasure map he’s hiding. When he dies suddenly, Jim Hawkins finds the map which starts him on a sea voyage to recover the treasure. Of course the pirates are on it from the start and it takes quite some adventures and luck to succeed.
This must be the source of all these treasure hunts and pirate adventures. It was a fast and enjoyable romp, with likable characters and villains that get their just deserts. I liked it more than expected – even though I kind of knew the story, the details of the tale were fresh and entertaining.
The House of Ulloa ( or Manors of Ulloa) by Emilia Pardo Bazan. Read by Tracy
Set in 1860s-1870s Spain, when political upheaval was the norm, and every election was rigged, this novel is told mainly through the eyes of a young priest. His first assignment is to Ulloa, where he is greeted with depravity and greed. The young marquis is overrun by his majordomo and his daughter. All the marquis’ wealth goes into their hands.
The priest, Julian, is too naive to understand much of what goes on around him, and when his eyes are finally opened, it is too late for him to do much, except recommend a wife for his master.
Without spoiling the story too much, there are difficulties for her, as well.
Primarily about the politics of the day, and full of symbolism regarding the rise of the working man and woman over the aristocracy, this was an interesting and intriguing read, almost like a soap opera at times. It touched on feminism, with a female martyr. The author also pointed out, very effectively, that the new regime isn’t always better than the old, just different: the people at the bottom of the food chain don’t see much difference. The writing was excellent, but could get windy at times, despite the short length of the book, which is why I knocked off half a star. All in all, a very good read.
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. Read by Kate
Private detective and divorced non-custodial dad Jackson Brodie has been trying to earn a living with routine cheating spouse and missing pet cases when suddenly several complex heart-breaking cases, all involving girls or young women, fall into his lap at once. What sets Atkinson’s novel apart from the run of the mill crime thriller is how she finds the humor in eccentric dysfunctional families and blithely racist cat ladies. Jackson bumbles along trying to balance his disastrous personal life with his unpromising professional one while being relentlessly stalked by a murderous git. Something about him reminded me of the classic James Garner TV role of Jim Rockford.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. Read by Lynsey
If you are considering reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra my best advice is not to rush through it and leave it for a time that you can savor the writing and appreciate the story that develops very slowly. ACVP is centered around the Chechnyan Wars that took place between 1994 and 2004. It is not an easy read both in content and style. First it is a war novel and it is brutally honest as a war novel should be. Second, Marra has a very unique way of putting words together that I often found myself rereading sometimes for clarity and sometimes because there was so much meaning contained in one short sentence. The story line jumps around both in time and perspective. It is a bit like doing a puzzle and I usually love this style but I wished I had taken notes on the characters from the beginning. It perhaps may not have taken me quite so long to appreciate the story and the connections. Most of the book was a 4 star read for me but the second half was so well done in connecting all the dots that I had to upgrade it to 4.5 stars. I don’t give out 5 stars very often and for a book to get that it has to make me not want to put it down. ACVP didn’t do that for the first half of the book. Even though I admired the quality of the writing, it took me way too long to connect to the characters and the story. That being said, when I finished the book, my first thought was “I need to reread this.”
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine D’Engle. Read by Nicole D
Yes, this was my first time reading this! And I’m glad I finally did. It actually reminded me a lot of Narnia, which I adore – but something about this felt a little to geared to the message and not the story, which detracted a bit for me. Whereas, in Narnia it was all about the story and you just “got” the message … if you wanted to.
I loved Charles Wallace at the start, but he got a wee bit annoying for me before they “wrinkled.”
It was fun, and I’m glad I finally read it
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. Read by Tracy
An alternate history, set in America in the early 60s, this explores what may have happened if the Axis had won WWII, and if FDR had been assassinated in 1934. The U.S. is split between German and Japanese rule, and a book has been written, speculating about the world if the Allies, joined by Americans, had won.
An interesting premise, and an interesting book. I was a little disappointed with it, though. I think my expectations were too high. I have really liked other work by Dick, and this wasn’t new to me. I can see how it would have caused more of a sensation when it was released. Now, it’s like a lot of other old science fiction- outdated.
If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino. Read by Kate
Have you ever started a good book and then misplaced it just as it became interesting? I certainly have, left in a doctor’s office waiting room two hours from home, or accidentally abandoned in a hotel room, it is an amazingly frustrating sensation. In this imaginative novel this abortive sensation occurs not once but ten times. The novel fragments (actually fairly satisfying short stories if you choose to look at them that way) are linked by the story of two frustrated readers, male and female, who link up in an effort to track down the rest of the stories. Their interlocking story arc becomes increasingly bizarre and amusing as they span the globe in their quest. I imagine I’d have enjoyed it more if I understood the publishing industry better, there seemed to be a plethora of in-jokes. Even without a literary background I was laughing out loud at some of the situations encountered by the hapless readers especially in their encounters with pulp author Silas Flannery. I’d love to know who Calvino used as an inspiration for Flannery.
Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day – Winifred Watson. Read by Tessa
Miss Pettigrew is a down-on-her luck, middle-aged governess – and not a very good one at that. Her last position has ended and she cannot make her rent. Her agency sends her on one last appointment, but when she arrives at the apartment she finds a nightclub singer rather than a family with children. The lovely Miss LaFosse, however, needs help – not with children but with the three (3!) men in her life; and Miss Pettigrew is just the sort of woman to take charge of the situation. What happens over the next 24 hours will change both their lives.
What a delightful comedic romp! I just love Miss Pettigrew, who is in turn amused, shocked, befuddled, brilliant, compassionate, composed, or flustered, but who manages always to overcome her own fears and objections and rise to the occasion. Miss LaFosse is a perfect counterpoint for Miss Pettigrew; she is confident where Miss P is unsure, and unsure where Miss P is confident. Miss LF is ebullient and casual, where Miss P is restrained and formal. Miss LF is an exotic, tropical bird, Miss P, a common house sparrow. The three men in Miss LaFosse’s tangled love life are straight out of central casting – a playboy show producer, a criminal nightclub owner, and a self-made, earnest young man.
I was reminded of Damon Runyon’s stories, although with a bit more class.
Democracy by Joan Didion. Read by Tracy
This is the story of Inez Victor, the wife of a senator and presidential hopeful. She has a longstanding love for another man, Jack, an arms dealer or a diplomat, or something- he’s never really said what he does. This is also the story of the end of Vietnam, and life in the spotlight. Vacillating between first and third person, Didion makes herself a character, as a friend of Inez, and as a reporter/novelist. There is murder, politics, smuggling (maybe), and more politics.
I enjoyed this book. It took me a little while to get the hang of the vacillating voice, but once I did, it really worked for me. The author gives the ending away at the beginning of the book- which is a bit of a spoiler, but it really is inconsequential. And the story was very well done. It put me in mind of The Safety Net by Boll. Inez was kind of a doormat, doing what was expected of her, dressing properly, fund raising for her husband’s political campaigns, one of which was for president. Then, one day, she did what she wanted.
It was an interesting book, and I look forward to more of Didion’s work.
Doctor Sleep – Stephen King. Read by Ellen
Dan Torrance, having survived the horror of the Overlook Hotel as a child, is now an adult drifting through life in a haze of alcohol. Dan drinks to stifle his “shining”. his paranormal abilitiy to see ghosts and look into the future. After a devastating night with a drunken woman he picked up in a bar, Dan drifts to New England and settles in a small town in New Hampshire. Here he joins AA, makes good friends and begins a job at a hospice where he is known as Doctor Sleep as he sits by the side of the dying to soothe and comfort them as they pass from this life. He also meets young Abra Stone, a young girl with a ‘shining’ much stronger than Dan’s own. Abra has caught the attention of an unholy group of fiends known as the True Knot who search for children with the ‘shining’ gift so that they may kill the child and inhale what they call the “steam”. The steam sustains the True Knot and has kept them alive for hundreds of years. The vicious leader of the True, Rose the Hat, has her sights set on Abra. Dan and Abra will have to team up to defeat the evil Rose and the fact that the True Knot is living at the site of the destroyed Overlook Hotel will test Dan’s courage and horror-filled memories.
This is definitely a great sequel to King’s “The Shining” and it is nice to know what happened to young Danny. He is still a great character as is Abra and their group of friends and assistants in the classic battle of good vs. evil. I have a bit of a problem when huge tragedies such as 9/11 and the theater shooting in Colorado are used in a book to show how the evil True Knot delight in the steam they are able to inhale. Real people suffered immeasurable loss and I don’t like their use as a piece of plotline. Aside from that, it was an exciting book with characters you care about and root for.