Best Sequels Ever

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10. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare | Wound up tight for the final book in this series!

9. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi | Oh Perry.

8. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness | Reviewed this series here!

7. Anne of the Island by Lucy Montgomery | Oh Gilbert.

6. Fire by Kristin Cashore | Oh Brigan.

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5. Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli | Such a difficult book for which to create a satisfying conclusions– but Spinelli pulls it off!

4. Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta | After reading Finnikin of the Rock, you just can’t possibly imagine that you could grow to love Froi.  And then you read this book.

3. Prisoner of Azkaban by Jo Rowling | I love books like puzzles!  This is where the Potter books really started getting great.

2. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta | It is just unbelievably satisfying to see how the Saving Francesca gang has grown and changed!

1. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis | The best of the best!

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at The Broke and the Bookish

thoughts on heaven

I have heard it credited to Saint Augustine: “Make me chaste — but not yet.”

For a long time, that was my thought about heaven.  I wanted to go there someday— but definitely not today.

Heaven scared me, and it still does sometimes.  There is so much I don’t understand about it:

* How can something last forever?
* Won’t it get boring?
* If all imperfection is gone, who will I even be?
* Will we have goals?
* Will I still write?
* Will there be any challenges?
* Will I interact with others or only be focused on God?

Even now, thinking about it has made me a little uneasy.

My co-worker believes that heaven will be on earth.  I seem to think it will be entirely separate.  I know that I will be with Christ, and since He is my true love, I will be happy.  But I still get a little scared sometimes.  I’m so used to this earth, as messed up and sinful as it is.  I know what it is like to desire things and work for them and how to draft and re-draft chapters in a bookstore on the weekends.

I used to be even more scared of heaven– before I read The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, that culminating seventh and final book of the Narnia series.  I won’t tell you what happens in it (my favorite book), but it eases my mind about heaven.  It reminds me not of the questions I have but of the JOY I’ll experience being in the presence of my Savior.

Nine Names

She dreamed often of a lion, tawny gold and glorious, with light that scattered from his mane as if it were born inside of him.  In her dreams, she stood beside him, staring east across a vibrant sea, and when she woke, it was always with the refrain, He has nine names.

She hated to wake.  The sea in her sleep was alive but behaved, and in the days since the accident, her days were a horror.  She was in a stupor, flummoxed with loss.  How can I be the only one left?  The mornings were darker than her dreams.

Her aunt and uncle had planned the funeral, which, she realized, was perhaps not the best choice, but she herself was of no use to anyone.  Then again, no one expected much of her at a time like this.  And when that dreaded service came, with the nine closed coffins at the front of the sanctuary, she could not greet the guests or be consoled but instead fled to the solace of the church nursery, where she sat in a chair meant for a small child, her arms wrapped tight about her body, rocking back and forth as if the motion itself would somehow comfort her.  There is no one left.

On the wall was a mural of Noah’s Ark—painted in the friendly, child-safe version that curtailed the dreadful details.  Instead, there was a large boat with a smiling man on board, surrounded by animals, and above them stretched a rainbow in the primary colors of youth.  Two giraffes poked their heads from the roof of the ark; a dove carried an olive branch back to the man; pairs of smiling anthropomorphic animals stood together on the deck.  Two elephants, two horses, two monkeys, two zebras.  One lion.

The lion.  He has nine names. 

She grimaced as she brushed away thoughts of her dream.

“Susan?” Aunt Alberta said, leaning her head inside the nursery door.  “Oh, there you are.  The service—it’s about to start.”

She nodded.  “I’ll be there in a moment.”

No tears had come yet, although she was certain that they would—and when those floodgates opened, she wondered if they would ever close again.  Her mother and father, her brothers, her sister, her cousin, and three friends—all gone, leaving her life as shredded as the railway tracks that day.  She had seen the bodies before they’d closed the coffins.  Nine plastic faces smiling serenely, as if they were all in on a secret she did not know.

Her throat caught as she stood to her feet for the service.  She wanted to blame someone, but whom would she blame?  She glanced again at the mural on the wall, all those happy animals looking as if they were talking beasts.  She frowned; it was as if—as if—it was like a moment of déjà vu.  Stop it, she told herself.  Just get through the service, through the burial.  Just hold together for a few more hours.

And yet, as she walked back toward the sanctuary, now full of mourning guests, it happened again.  This time an image burned in her mind as if it were a memory from another life: a stone table, cracked in two, empty of life or death, but full of meaning and magic.  And when she opened the door to the sanctuary, she uttered a loud gasp when she saw the crucifix at the front of the room.  The guests turned to look.

He has nine names.  And now she knew two.

Farewell to the Shadow-Lands by Brothers

If you love Narnia even half as much as I do, you will love this song by Zach Zurn and Julian Flores (the duo known as Brothers), available for a free download here.

Inspired by C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle

all is bright, greenest of greens and bluest of blues
the sweetest of fruits and freshest of springs
Our heart’s desire stands before us. the time has come
stars come home, night falls and the door is shut
“and marvel of marvels, he calls a dog like me Beloved”
we run for miles and miles, further up and further in
saints are home, we are home
Look now here He comes!
“the dream is ended: this is the morning”
“Farewell to the shadow-lands” we cry
Further up and further in, we are alive!

from Brothers, released 24 April 2012