Category Archives: Book Reviews

‘In Defense of Plain English’ (2016)

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Holy cow, is this stressful! You should see what they’ve done to my blog this morning. If it looks normal at your end–well, I wish it’d look normal here.

Anyway–remember when I had to read and review all those books by “Abner Doubleday,” aka Brian Godawa? The fantasies set in the world before the Flood, which featured everyone using 21st century slang.

Hint to aspiring writers: Plain English is just about always suitable for whatever purpose you have in mind. There are some famous authors who love to write in dialect, and subject their readers to whole pages of blah-blah at a time. I have never enjoyed those books.

Now I’m Cheesed Off!

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Once you go down there, you can never come back up

Back in September some perky publicist pitched me a book “re-telling Bible stories without an angry God.” I didn’t think we needed anything like that. We’ve already gotten enough to incur a spiritual pollution. So I told them to get lost.

Would you believe it? He’s back! Back with another invitation to read and review this monstrosity. I mean, come on! “Gay lovers in the sanctuary cities of Sodom and Gomorrha”? Does this come with a barf bag, or do you have to provide your own?

Apparently my first refusal, months ago, struck the perky publicist as somehow ambiguous. So I guess I’ll have to try again.

No, no, no! Not if you put a gun to my head! I will not soil myself, I will not insult my own soul, by reading this toxic, heretical trash. And you’ve signed yourself up for a long, long stay at Club Hell, unless you repent now and tell the author you will not represent him anymore.

Personally, if it were up to me, I’d smite the pair of you with lightning and be done with it today: “So perish all who do the same!” You’re lucky the God you hate is much more merciful than I am.

But if He listens to me, he’d smite you.

‘Christian vs. Almost Christian Fantasy’ (2015)

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Maybe this year I’ll find some really great, current, Christian fantasy to review.

I have to be careful about going into the theology shop, because I’m not a theologian, I might break something.

But a demon-hunting hit squad? If that seems a familiar motif, it’s from a book called Pax Demonica about “a demon-hunting soccer mom.” I know, I know–but really, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. But the theology was way, way off.

Is it really necessary to warn anyone that learning Christian doctrine from paperback novels is probably not a good idea?

‘You’ve Got to Read This’ (2016)

Notes on the Parables of Our Lord

Notes on the Parables of Our Lord, by Richard Chenevix Trench–doesn’t sound all that inviting, does it? But if you’re looking for an after-Christmas present for yourself or someone that you love, this little book is golden.

The thing about Our Lord’s parables, as John MacArthur observes, is, you’ve got to study them. Devote some thought to them. The more, the better. And you’ll be amazed by the unexpected treasures you discover.

Rev. Trench, speaking to us out of the 19th century, can help us make discoveries in Scripture.

What better way to start the year?

‘Freddy and the Bean Home News’

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Is it okay for me to review a book when I’ve only just started to read it? Yeah, well, why not?

Only Walter R. Brooks would ever think of starting a sentence with these words: “There was an ant named Jerry Peters…”

I got this for Christmas this year, Freddy and the Bean Home News. It’s one of the few Freddy the Pig books that I haven’t read. But I know I’m going to love it.

I read a lot of these when I was a little boy, scarfed ’em down like marshmallow peeps. Back then, it was the story and the characters that kept me coming back for more. But now I read them for the subtle wit and humor that went right over my head when I was ten or twelve years old. How many writers can write just as effectively for young children and mature (chronologically, at least) adults? I think I might enjoy them even more now than I did as a child–and that’s saying something.

What could be more soothing, more quietly hilarious, than a Freddy book? Mr. Brooks cranked them out for almost 40 years, and there’s not a bad one in the bunch. Ideal for reading aloud to your kids or grandchildren; and just as ideal for reading for yourself.

Many of these have been recently reprinted, and the rest are available online through used book services. Rejoice!


‘Borrow “The Borrowers”‘ (2013)

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If you sometimes buy presents for your loved ones right after Christmas–usually because events conspired to make you late!–this series of young readers’ books might be just the ticket.

The Borrowers and its sequels, by Mary Norton, is a treat for any reader, young or old or in-between, whose imagination hasn’t ossified.

Now, at last, you’ll understand what happened to all those little green army men who went missing from your toy-box, way back when.

‘After Lewis and Tolkien’ (Comes Me?)

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Jon Dykstra of Reformed Perspective Magazine did a fine job of welding several of my blog posts, and my answers to his questions, into an article about Christian fantasy.

After Lewis and Tolkien

I was especially gratified when he told me how his children loved Bell Mountain as he read it to them. They called it simply “Jack and Ellayne.” I think they were five or six years old at the time–way under the age of the target audience. But I’ve heard this a lot, over the years–mostly from adults.

Anyway, it’s an interesting article and I was very pleasantly surprised to find it available online.

Our Own Tower of Babble

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Someone has invited me to review a book that “challenges women to live each day with fearless authenticity.”

Oooh, that sounds grand! Can men do it, too?

Only… what the dickens does it mean?

There appears to be something here about you being you. Well, what if “you” are a jerk? An authentic ignoramus? Or a fearless dunderhead? But we can only try to guess what the author means, since she isn’t using plain English and who feels like reading a whole swinkin’ book just to find out what the title means? “Fap!” to that.

But this is awful–politics is seeping into our broader culture and making people as dishonest as their politicians. I mean, this is the kind of babble you expect to hear from some yo-yo running for the Senate and not having anything like a reason for you to elect him. Grandiose babble is meant to paper over his vacancy. “Once in the Senate, I pledge myself to a fearless authenticity in championing inclusion and diversity!” Living proof that nature does not, after all, abhor a vacuum.

Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Which probably bars the door against your being hailed as an expert. But at least people will understand you.

‘I Stand Rebuked’ (2016)

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I post this every now and then to illustrate the kind of trouble you can get into if you try to review books honestly.

I couldn’t read the whole series: just couldn’t take it. I bailed out when Gilgamesh’s mother, a pagan goddess, called him “Gilgy.” This story lasted 5,000 years for that?

It’s just a fact of life that not everybody can write both fiction and non-fiction. You can be good at one and awful at the other.

And it’s also a fact of life that awful fiction sometimes sells like mad. It takes more lifetimes than I’ll get, to come to terms with that.

‘Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America’–a Book Review

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Here’s my review of David Horowitz’s grim little book.

Our greatest weakness in this cultural and political war is complacency. We have lives to live, work to do, families to raise, and we go about our business while Far Left Crazy eats away the foundations of our country. No one knows this better than David Horowitz. His book is both an analysis and a warning. We really ought to heed it.

Leftists are dead serious about turning America into something we would never recognize as America. It’s not something we can safely ignore. We see it every day in the news. And they’re not going to stop. They have to be defeated. Mr. Horowitz doesn’t tell us how to do that. It’s something we’ll have to discover for ourselves.

I’m convinced we have to start by breaking down a massive public education establishment whose chief purpose seems to be to crank out more leftists and dumb down everyone they can’t use to make a revolution. We should have started sooner.

Let’s not leave it until it’s too late.

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