Review for Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Christian fiction, Fantasy, Science fiction

Series – First book in Cosmic or Space Trilogy

Rating – PG for mild language and peril

Synopsis –

Dr. Ransom is out on a walking holiday when he meets an older women who is worried about her boy. After endeavoring to save the boy, Ransom is drugged and taken aboard a spaceship. His kidnappers are Devine and Weston. They proceed to take Ransom to Malacandra as a sacrifice to the inhabitants who live there. Ransom embarks on a journey across the planet as his misconceptions are challenged by the inhabitants. Will Ransom be able to escape the clutches of Devine and Weston? Or will he be forced to stay on Malacandra forever?

My Thoughts –

This is a tough book to review as there is a lot to unpack in this small book. It is very different from the Narnia books. In fact it almost felt more like J. R. R. Tolkien’s style of writing. Yet, there are a few moments that reminded me of scenes from Narnia. It goes deeper into theology and philosophy then Narnia does, although some of it kinda hidden underneath the plot. Lewis’s goal was to get people to stop thinking about space and think of it in terms of the heavens. I found a lecture that does a pretty good job explaining Lewis’s perspective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP-7lc52IZ0&t=3s.

The characters were unique and had some interesting characteristics, but focus is on the allegory. Ransom is a likeable character whose preconceptions about the universe around him are stretched as he learns from the creatures living on Malacandra, which is Mars. There are 3 types of creatures that live on Malacandra and each have different gifts: Sorns, Hross, and Pfifktriggi. Hross were the poets and storytellers, while the Sorns were the philosophers, and lastly the Pfifktriggi are inventors. I have to say that I liked the Hross the best as they felt the most fleshed out of the three. I liked how they were simple creatures who took life as it is without worrying about tomorrow.

However, the villains felt flat to me and at times foolish. They never really added much to the story. Plus, they had such a minor role. As a reader, I want the villain to stand out and make me worry that he will actually do something evil to our characters. I never felt that way in this book. A good example is Thanos or Loki from the Marvel universe. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have always been fascinated with space and space travel. Even when I was little and learning about the Apollo missions, it excited me that we could travel to the moon. So, I loved how Lewis describes space and gives it beauty. He also gives Mars a lush landscape with a variety of terrains. Ransom goes from odd jungles with purple tree like plants to a barren Alp like place. He gives the creatures on Mars a unique language that Ransom is able to learn. Hands down Lewis is a master wordsmith.

Overall the plot felt slow and methodical. Lewis has a plan and reason for writing this series, and you can tell. There really weren’t any intense moments. It is defiantly a book that makes you think.

Language – Whenever the two antagonists are around, they use mild language. A few uses of “God” as exclamation by villains. Ransom does not swear.

Violence – Devine and Weston threaten a boy and try to kidnap him. They try to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the Sorns. They shoot and kill a couple Hross as they believe the Hross are hostile.

Innuendo – A couple mentions of procreating with the Mars inhabitants, mostly as a joke. At one point during there space travel, the ship becomes so hot that they only wear weighted belts. As a character is traveling, he notices that an island looks like a women’s breast.

Conclusion –

It was really interesting to dip my toes into something by Lewis other then the Narnia series. I have read The Screwtape Letters, but it has been a while. So, I really enjoyed getting to go on a space odyssey to Mars! It gave me a new perspective on the heavens. Normally we think of space an empty void, but there is beauty and creativity in all that God made. I would highly recommend this book. Although don’t expect it to be a light read. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Review for Nine Coaches Waiting

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Genre – Suspense, Mystery, Romance

Series – No, it’s a stand-alone novel

Rating – PG – Attempted murder, mild language throughout

Synopsis –

Linda Martin has just accepted a job in France as a nanny for a nine year old boy. In order to acquire the job, Linda has omitted the fact that she grew up in France before she came to England. She is eager to return and looking for something fresh. Yet, upon her arrival, the aunt and uncle are giving off some strange vibes. Linda dismisses them and endeavors to settle herself in her new environment. As the weeks turn into months, there occurs several “accidents” involving, her charge, Philippe. Who is causing these accidents? And why?

My thoughts –

This was a reread for me as I had read it several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was wonderful to return to France and the Chateau Valmy. The book was written in the 50s and has a cozy air about it. I loved this book so much that I bought it to add to my ever growing collection. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Alright, let’s get down to business. The characters are superb and have a depth to them. Linda is a plucky and courageous young women who you can easily root for as she faces the dangers surrounding her young charge. I liked Philippe; he has wisdom beyond his young years. He experienced what no child should have to experience as both of his parents died suddenly. These events have lead to Philippe’s quietness and thoughtfulness. Then you get to Raoul. I have to say that I really liked Raoul. Now, he can be an idiot at times, but he cares both for Philippe and Linda. Although, I do have say that he falls for her rather quickly, but oh well. You can’t have everything.

Honestly this was a hard book to put down, despite having read it before. There were a few scenes that I remembered like the Easter Ball, but I couldn’t remember how everything turned out. Stewart does a great job dragging you into story, yet also moving the plot along at a decent pace. Also, Stewart does a job creating beautiful descriptions that she uses throughout the novel. They reminded me a bit of the descriptions in The Blue Castle.

The one thing I didn’t care for was the ending. There was a whole misunderstanding that occurs and it is only resolved on like the last few pages. I wish there could have been a bit more to tidy things. I would have loved to see where Linda ends up and how Philippe handles the whole situation.

Language – Mild language throughout, mostly kept to what you would hear in PG TV show. 1 use of God’s name in vain.

Violence – Stewart keeps the violence down to a minimum. Mostly, the threat is what you can’t see. There is a shooting accident out in the woods where they try to shoot at a character. The character is not hurt though. Also, they try to cause him to fall off balcony. Again though a character’s ingenuity, she protects him. Lastly, at the very end a character commits suicide (although a character thinks he was murdered at first). It isn’t described in detail.

Innuendo – Two characters fall in love. They kiss twice. Some talk of falling in love. Gossip gets out that two characters run off together, but in reality they didn’t.

Conclusion –

Overall for a cozy mystery, this one is really enjoyable. Yes, there is a bit of love at first sight, but the romance is secondary to the mystery. I love cozy mysteries that have that old fashioned feel to them. So many cozy mysteries today feel over done or have cardboard characters. Its always refreshing to find a mystery that is different and unique. This would make for a great summer read as it is relatively short, but enjoyable. I would say that this book is aimed at adults.

How are your summer’s going? What have you been reading?

Anna

Review for Taliesin

Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead

Genre – Fantasy, Science fiction, Historical fiction

Series – First book in The Pendragon Cycle

Rating – PG-13 for mild violence & innuendo, peril

Synopsis –

This is the tale of Merlin’s parents. First we meet Charis a daughter of one of the nine kings of Atlantis. Avallach, her father, is a wise and noble king, yet he faces a dilemma with one of the neighboring kings. This king issues a threat to Avallach. Charis is ignorant of the politics going on behind her father’s doors, and she is surprised when this enemy takes away something very important to her. Charis tries to overcome her grieve by becoming a bull dancer. Her troubles still follow her. Until she is faced with a choice: does she leave or stay? Meanwhile in other kingdom we find another king grooming his son, Elphin, to eventually take over. The clan member disagree as Elphin seems to walk into trouble wherever he goes. Until one day Elphin discovers an abandoned baby who brings joy to everyone around him. The baby is called Taliesin.

My Thoughts –

To start I wanted to say I have been so busy lately it has been a bit hard to post as much as I wanted to. I am hoping to do more soon.

And now back to the book ๐Ÿ™‚ I really enjoyed this one. While it took me awhile to get through it, (not the books fault) I loved the way the author engages the reader. He writes in a way that draws you in and brings this story to life. I know I have talked a lot about the Arthurian legend, but this one is one of the best versions I have read. Its much better then the Once and Future king which was a bit disjointed. This flowed much smoother. Review for that book here: http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/06/19/review-for-the-once-and-future-king/

I have to mention the characters who were amazing!! Now in the first section, I cannot say that I liked Charis. She was pretty childish and naive, but she changes and grows up a bit. By the second section, I liked her a lot better! However, the two characters who I loved were Elphin and Taliesin. Elphin starts out an outcast to become a great leader among his people. I totally connected with this character. Taliesin was unique; he grows up too, but even when he is little, he has wisdom beyond his years. There was a side character who I also thought added to the story named Dyfed. He is one of the few believers in the book and brings some much needed changes.

I do want to mention that many of the characters follow a variety of gods/goddesses. The Britons follow the druids with their host of gods while the Atlanteans follow a multitude with Bel being the foremost god. The author depicts what they believe, but not in way that supports it. He shows how these false gods will get you nowhere. Later on he introduces Christians who spread the Gospel. We see how the one true God can bring light to the darkness and peace to someone who is distressed.

For the most part the plot had a pace to it and the climax did not feel rushed. I do have to say that I had an inkling to how it would end, but the author did it in a colorful and fresh way. The way Lawhead writes is lyrical almost. I always wanted to have the next chapter be continue with the same person’s story instead of jumping to the other person. However, I got used to it and just allowed myself to sit back and see where it led.

Language – None, except for one use of the word for donkey (used in that context not as expletive)

Violence – There was a minor amount. A few people are killed with maybe a handful of mentions related to blood. Mostly people who are wounded. A king is stabbed and dies. Reference to wars and battles with Irish/Pict. For the most part all battles are off the page. So we really only see the effects of the battles. Many people die when Atlantis sinks. A boat runs over small fishing boats which kills many people. A character dies from an arrow. A baby is born blue and almost dies, but it brought to life. Also, a women goes into early labor; she bleeds almost passes out. Later on once she has the baby mentions of blood on sheets. Most of this not detailed, just told that it happened in a very matter of fact way.

Innuendo – We have several couples get married. Two references to consummating a marriage. Several kisses, all after the couples are married. A married couple falls asleep together. Also, mentions of a mother nursing her baby or being placed on her breast to feed. (Again just Lawhead mentions it happened, but leaves it at that).

Conclusion –

I truly loved this book!! It has a defined plot line unlike King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I have read many of Lawhead’s other books and knew I enjoyed his writing style, and was not disappointed. There were so many beautiful sections! Also, we get to see a character’s redemption which was wonderful as we see how utterly lost this character is. I love it when author pull off a convicting and believable conversion. So many times it seems to just be out of the blue. Anyway, I highly recommend this book!! Especially if you enjoy a good fantasy or are looking to step foot in the Arthurian legend. I would probably say teen on up as I can see a middle schooler getting pretty bored. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Review for Between Burning Worlds

Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Genre – Science Fiction, Les Miserables retelling

Series – Book 2 in the System Divine series

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and language

Synopsis –

It has been several weeks since we last saw Marcellus, Chatine, and Alouette. Things have gone from bad to worse for Chatine. She protected the mysterious group called the Vanguarde from General Bonnefacon, and because of that, she is sent to the remote prison, Bastille. She feels that there is no escaping from Bastille as it is an impenetrable place. Meanwhile Marcellus has joined the Vanguarde and is endeavoring to stop his grandfather from unleashing a new weapon upon the citizens of Laterre. Yet, General Bonnefacon figures out what Marcellus is up to and makes an attempt on Marcellus’s life. On the other side of the planet, Alouette is running away from her past. She has been lied to about her past; so she seeks answers that she so desperately needs. Will these three rebels find what they seek before a new enemy appears?

My Thoughts –

This book stood out compared to Sky without Stars as it felt more like it own story as opposed to a new version of Les Miserables. While Sky without Stars does a great job of setting the stage, Between Burning Worlds takes things a step farther. Honestly, it didn’t feel like the story of Les Miserables at all. There were maybe a few scenes that reminded me a bit like Les Miserables. Overall though I could just sit back and take it as new story which I loved.

There were so many good parts to this book. You are thrown into the plot at a brisk pace that keeps up through the majority of the book. There really weren’t any dull parts. Pacing was well done by the authors. The plot was also pretty intricate with lots of moving parts. Several twists occurred that surprised me as I had thought that I had it figured out. I didn’t. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I enjoyed the characters quite a bit; they have grown up and changed since we last saw them. Marcellus is still my favorite character. He is likeable for a spoiled rich boy, but also fairly humble. He cares about his friends and bears their burdens on his own back. I still liked Alouette, but not as much as I did in the first book. Some of the secrets that she has uncovered have shaken her beliefs. It takes a while before she can recover. I like her quiet spirit, and how all the knowledge she has learned from the refuge has a purpose. I have to say that I like her and Marcellus together. Although it seems that the authors might do something different. I have mixed feelings about Chatine. I liked her developmental arc, but she still wasn’t my favorite.

I also appreciated Marcellus’s compassion for others including his evil grandfather as Marcellus hates violence and killing. There was one scene where I kept expecting Jolras to burst into singing “ABC Cafe”. ๐Ÿ™‚

Language – Maybe 7 uses of mild swearing. Also, the authors made up some of their own expletives that our characters say including: fric and sols. Used infrequently throughout the book.

Violence – There is quite a bit of violence in this one. I kinda expected it as it is a retelling of a revolution. Lots of shooting with pulse like guns affecting your nerves that wears off in a couple hours. A character gets shot with bullets and bleeds. Mentions of fixing a machine that is similar to a guillotine expect with a lazer instead of blade. A character dies from this machine. There is another group called Red Scar that brands people with a lazer. The new weapon consists of manipulating people to hurt/kill other people. Happens several times and many people die because of it.

Innuendo – Less then the first book. You can kinda see that a couple characters like each other. But that is about it.

Also, there was a mention of 2 guys as a couple. Mention that they kissed. I was kinda upset about this as they were such minor characters. You could tell the authors did it to make a statement. I don’t agree with that particular lifestyle as the Bible speaks out against that particular behavior. Kinda sad they added it in there, but thankfully only maybe a sentence or two where it’s mentioned.

Other – Several mentions of blood bordals which is where a women is paid to have nutrients in the blood extracted from her. These nutrients end up going into the First Estaters facial creams. A character unwillingly has this happen to her.

Conclusion –

Despite the issues mentioned, I got swept up in the story. Some characters did grow on me, and the authors did a great describing this world. Made it feel like you were there with the characters. I truly liked Marcellus’s character; he had the perfect balance between being flawed, yet still making a difference. Not to say that there weren’t issues that bugged me, but overall I enjoyed it. I love it when an author is able to describe things in such a way that you can visualize it in your head. These authors accomplish this. Age range probably older teens to young adult as book is over 600 pages plus content issues.

How are your summers going? Any exciting books being read? Looking forward to hearing from you all!!

Anna