In Which I Rave about Mirror of Souls

If you’ve read very many of my posts, you’ve probably figured out that I dig fantasy. Probably started when I was little. My mom read aloud a variety of books including Narnia, Wind in the Willows, and The Secret Garden to me and my siblings. Fantasy has a way of sparking the imagination of children and adults alike. It takes real concepts like faith, love, betrayal and spins them in way to be more palpable. As well as introduce you to new worlds and peoples.

Long story short, I remember the first time I found one of Batson’s books at a bookstore and bringing it home. Even just the cover was appealing. It was The Door Within. From there spawned a new fan who avidly devoured whatever series came next. One Christmas my grandparents gifted me with The Sword in the Stars, the original version from 2011. Of all his books, this was and is my favorite. The Myridian Constellation series feels deeper then some of his previous works. We have dark villains who last for multiple books and heroes who die. This is his latest installment, and it did not disappoint.

Mirror of Souls by Wayne Thomas Batson

Genre – Fantasy, Christian Fiction

Series – Book 4 in The Myriadian Constellation

Rating – PG-13 for violence and foul creatures

Synopsis –

Myriad is in ruins as Morlan Stormgarden has conquered most of the continent. Recently coming back from a brutal war eradicating the Gorrack nation, Morlan considers himself invincible. Locklan Stormgarden has other plans. He has quietly been growing an army to try to depose his evil uncle and to take back his rightful throne. Meanwhile Abbagael Coldhollow is recovering from the birth of her baby, Jak. She is disquieted and believes her lost husband, Alastair is still alive somewhere. Abbagael sets out to find him, even if it costs her everything she has. Telwyn is taking up the mantle of being the Halfainin which means he must sacrifice himself for his friends safety.

My Thoughts

I’ll be honest my synopsis does not do the book justice. Also bear in mind this being the fourth book, lots of stuff has happened previously. I do recommend starting in order. I even struggled at the beginning remembering where everyone was at and what they were doing. Been too long since I read the previous book. πŸ˜‰

Shocked The Lord Of The Rings GIF by Maudit

I kinda looked like this as I red. Trying to put all the pieces together.

Anyway, let’s talk about what I liked.

Batson is the king of throwing twists and turns into a story. There were several throughout this book. A few I had anticipated, while others surprised me. He has a way of building the story and climax as to hold your attention. Some authors you reach the climax and could care less what happens to the characters. Not with Batson. The last two chapters were so hard! Why!? He ends it on several cliffhangers. I wish there was more to read. Oh, well. I’ll probably have to wait.

I honestly think his characters are some of the strongest I’ve read. He isn’t afraid to show you their dark side whether that be alcoholism or craving power. We see quite a bit from Morlan’s perspective which can be gritty. He truly wants absolute power. My absolute favorite character is Alastair Coldhollow! A few books back, he left the main story and his fate was unknown. Very much hoping Batson hasn’t ruined my favorite! Abbagael has grown on me especially in these last two books. She has a fire to her and a strong moral compass. Telwyn also is becoming a man who speaks truth. He is a Jesus like character, several moments were very touching and had me almost in tears!

Loch has never been a favorite of mine, but he does some soul searching and I am looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for him. We had some new additions Xerk & Strylun who are very viking like and I enjoyed seeing some new faces. In fact I am curious if these are same two characters that Batson had written a short story for a few years ago? Anybody know??

We are introduced to a new part of Myriad which is fun. Plus a sea turtle that has a mountain on his back!!! It’s why I love fantasy, literally anything can come to life.

There are two scenes are really loved!! One being Telywn and Morlan’s showdown. So good to see Morlan get a taste of his own medicine. Telywn is completly good and can handle almost anything. They also throw snide comments at each other which was kinda funny. Second, Telwyn revealing himself to Loch. Very emotional!

Batson is a believer so he weaves Christian themes throughout most of his books which is super cool. Self-sacrifice is a big one as well as loyalty, & perseverance. We saw the coming of the Halfainin, basically a Jesus type character, in the first book The Sword in the Stars. Here we see his death and how it breaks the death key. Also, Loch sees himself in mirrors revealing just how sinful he was. Love the picture of a chasm that he cannot cross, but Telwyn made a way.

My one dislike was that it took awhile to get going. This could all me on me. As I felt out of the loop, but I struggled actually getting into it. After the first 100 pages though things started clicking.

Quotes –

“Jak Alastair Coldhollow, you are a gift from the First One, and I love you with all my heart. Your father loved you, loves you too, but he has gone missing. I have to go and find him. It’s not fair, I know to leave you so soon.” (p. 92)

“Abbagael stares out over the black water. “I think I’m going to need to pray. . . a lot more.” “And we will pray for you even as we return to Willowdell,” Alec said. “The Maker of the Stars is worthy of your trust. Let Him be your compass.”” (p. 113).

“That is purity, Morlan” Telwyn declared. “It consumes your wickedness, and by that, I mean… it consumes you.” (p. 156).

Content – No language, a few suggestive comments here and there, but not much else. Now violence is a biggy. We see just how truly evil Morlan is as he has stolen gifts from people and uses it to kill any who oppose him. Also, quite a bit of blood in certain sections. Morlan literally liquidizes his enemies’ blood. Cythraul too can be quite cruel.

Conclusion

The book ended sooner then I had expected with the last chunk being a short story about how Alastair leaves behind his life as an assassin. For me that was nice surprise. It is hinted at in the previous books, but never fully revealed until now. Overall this is an intense story filled with flawed heroes trying to do what is right. The mark of good author is when you can tune out the world around you and be totally swept away by the story. Where it feels like you are in it. This happened for me. I do highly recommend this series!! I feel like I will be doing some rereading soon!

Have you read this series? Or maybe some of the authors other works? Who do you like/dislike? Why?

Up next – Before I read my next Christmas book, I need to read – A Short History of Canada for book club.

Anna

Review for The Hunger Games

Where to even start! This book was never on my radar until recently mostly due to the fact that all I knew of it was that teens killed teens. Several people in my sphere mentioned it including my book club. On a whim I thought I’d listen to the audiobook. Having a 15 minute drive to work, gives me plenty of time for listening. Well, I finished it a few days ago. After mulling it over, I thought I’d lay out my thoughts.

So here goes!

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Genre – Dystopian, YA

Series – 1st in The Hunger Games series

Rating – PG-13 for violence

Synopsis –

America no longer exists, and Panam has taken it’s place. Panam consists of twelve districts which are ruled by the Capitol. Most of the districts live in poverty and surrounded by rules & restrictions. Years ago the districts rebelled against the Capitol which resulted in district thirteen being obliterated. Now to remind the people of their submission, the capitol takes a boy and girl from each district and forces them to compete in a game to the death. Katniss loves her sister more then anything. Being from one of the poorest districts, Katniss has learned how to hunt and provide for her mom and sister. During the reaping, her sister’s name is called, and instead Katniss takes her sister’s place as tribute. She is whisked off to the Capitol with her fellow tribute, Peeta.

My Thoughts –

First off the narrator was fantastic! She gave each character a unique voice and captured their emotions well. I was impressed. For me the narrator can make or break a book. Even if the book was well written. So, liked that she did a good job.

Second, hats off to the author for being able to create a world grounded in our own, yet unique enough to be interesting. She had a way of writing that draws you into the story. For me this was more plot driven then character driven. The whole backstory and setting were well created. I liked how each district had it’s own resource. District 12 is somewhere in the Appalachian mountains which is a region that is fascinating.

Here is where it gets interesting, for a good chunk of the book I struggled to connect to any of the characters. My problem with Katniss was that she was so independent and strong that she was devoid of emotion. I mean really? She only loved Prim, who was kinda annoying. We do see the whole book from Katniss’s perspective so we get to know her really well. I just wished we could have softened some of her hardness. I’ll be honest I didn’t care for Peeta a whole lot. I know he is everyone’s favorite, but for this book, I liked Gale better as he was friends with Katniss from childhood.

Which lead us to the love triangle. While is isn’t horrible in this one, it is there. This trope has been way overused. Most of it was staged for the games which was different. But this will have repercussions later on for both of them. Katniss kinda was oblivious to the fact that Peeta actually liked her. Like really??? How did she not see that?

Peeta is nice to a fault. He loves people passionately, cares for his brothers, and has a humorous side. I just didn’t like him with Katniss. I did like Gale & Haymitch (not sure on spelling due to audiobook). Despite his being almost always drunk, Haymitch did have some good advice. Acted like a father to Katniss. Also, Rue! She was probably the best character in the whole book.

Let’s talk about the actual games.

To start I think the author used the games to show just how corrupt the government was. She shows that the crowds actually like it when a tribute dies. This is what the Capitol loves. Vanity, shows, and seeing just how far these kids will go to protect themselves. This is what Katniss and the others are up against. Even the President manipulates people. However, I did want Katniss to team up and make a stand that they won’t fight. Band together and make a statement. While she does try to take away there being a victor, I thought it was too little. So many lives could have been saved.

Do teens kill each other? Yes, they do. Do they want to? No, most of them are pawns and being forced into this.

It is an interesting story that is about love, survival, & self-sacrifice.

Content – No language which was surprising! Some innuendo, mostly just kisses tho. Violence is throughout the second half. Everything from a deadly hornet aka Tracker Jackers to sword wounds. Blood isn’t really talked about, but lots of characters die.

Conclusion –

Did I enjoy the story? Yes, to an extent I did. It was creative and the plot held my attention. I do wish the characters maybe were portrayed a little better. Tweak a few things here & there. I think the violence was a device used by the author to show the corruption, not to say I do wish there was less though. Also, I would probably not hand this off to a young teen. As an adult, I think it gives you things to think about. But definitely didn’t deserve all the hype it got.

I have started the second book which in some respects I like better. Although Katniss can still be so oblivious. πŸ˜‰

What are your thoughts on this book? Favorite characters? Movies vs book?

Up next – I’m finally sinking my teeth into Wayne Thomas Batson’s newest installation in the Myridian Constellation series, Mirror of Souls!

Movies & Shows from 2021

Hello again folks!

I’m back for another look back at my favorite films from 2021. That being said I didn’t see a huge amount in theaters – roughly 7 total. However, streaming has made it easier to watch movies. I’m just going to list them in no particular as picking favorites can be so hard. I’ll try not to give spoilers, but there will probably be mild ones.

Excited Game GIF

On with the show!

Movies –

Quiet Place II – Sci-fi, dystopian – Rating – PG-13

Now I still think the first one was better, but the second put up a good show. I love that they cast a married couple in real life to play the mom and dad. It makes it feel real. The whole seeking help was fascinating! I don’t remember the lead girl’s name, but she was incredible. Traveling alone while being deaf! Is it scary? At times yes, but not gory. There is a lot to said for a movie depicting a close family in the face of loss and danger.

Black Widow – Superhero, Family – Rating – PG-13

I’ve been a marvel fan for quite some time. To be honest I didn’t have high expectations for Black Widow. While a strong character, Natasha was never a favorite of mine. However, I really liked seeing her adoptive family. It explained why Natasha was the way she is. I loved her sister!! She stole the show!!! Plus, her dad was a hoot. This is yet another film about family and forgiveness. Also, was not as dark as I had expected it to be, which was a bonus. I’d say you don’t really have to have seen other Marvel movies to see this, but it does explain the end credit scene.

Spider Man No Way Home – Superhero, Coming of Age, Rating – PG-13

Another Marvel movie!! Again I didn’t have super high expectations, I like Tom Holland’s Spider-man, but wasn’t sure where they would take this. Got to say though, it was good! Probably, one of the best Spider-man movie I’ve seen. Dr. Strange was fun to see! His interactions with Peter were hilarious. Plus seeing the three spider-men together! Awesome. Plus the plot was unique and different from your normal Marvel movie.

Dear Even Hansen – Musical, Coming of age, Rating – PG-13

I stumbled across the music from Dear Evan Hansen two years ago. They really spoke to me and I had them on repeat. It was during a time where I reacted to everything and connected with Evan. Now, I didn’t really know the story, just pieced it together. So when I heard they were making a movie, I was psyched!!! The movie was different then what I had anticipated, but not in a bad way. They did cut some of my favorite songs though. πŸ™

It covers a tough topics like social anxiety, fitting in, and a family facing the suicide of their son. I feel like this topic is a bit taboo and not much discussed. Even in the church. All the characters have flaws and the movie shows that. I love the message that everyone matters. They just missed the part of why they matter. But that’s to be expected. How cool would it have been if they showed how the Lord can heal the broken! I do wish they showed more consequences for Evan lies. Supposedly the Broadway version does. Which I’d love to see. Maybe someday.

Free Guy – Fantasy, Comedy – Rating – PG-13

I saw this trailer and thought it looked funny and reminiscent of the Lego Movie. My brother saw it in theaters and recommended it. When I watched it, I had a hard time not laughing. I haven’t really seen Ryan Reynolds in many things, but he fit the role of Guy perfectly! There were several plot twists that added some uniqueness. Plus Joe Keery as Keys! I kept wanting to call him Steve. πŸ˜‰ His character gets a nice arc and a cute little romance. Recommend if you need a laugh!

Last but not least . . .

The Outsiders – Coming of age – PG

I had recently heard of the book, but knew nothing of the movie. Hamlette @ The Edge of a Precipice had mentioned loving the book. I stumbled across the movie for free on demand. Honestly, I had no clue what the story was, which I think was perfect!!

Ended up really enjoying this movie!! Ponyboy is very relatable character, he doesn’t quite fit in with either the gang or his family. After his friend Johnny gets in trouble, they hide out together. There is a lot about family, loyalty & self-sacrifice. Bring a box of tissues though, the end had me tearing up. I’ve now put the book on my TBR list for the year. Going to leave you with a quote, “Stay golden, Ponyboy.”

Shows –

Honestly, I didn’t find many new shows this year. I finished a few though.

Merlin – Fantasy

I’ve talked a lot about this show already. I finished it last March and it left a hole. Merlin is such a noble and loyal person. He puts up with so much crap from Arthur. I wished we could have had more time where Arthur knew who Merlin really was. Oh well!

Friends – Sitcom

My sister got me into Friends. It isn’t my favorite show ever, but it is good after a long day. Short episodes are super nice. Personally, I love Joey and Chandler’s interactions! Phoebe also adds an odd with lovable flare.

Lost – Sci-fi – Re-watch

I know I only just finished it a little over a year ago, but I missed the characters. So, there! I had forgotten how much I had liked Jack in season 1. So much builds from this season!

Stranger Things – Sci-fi – Re-watch

We were late to the party discovering Stranger Things. However, we had a fun time watching it all together a few years ago. It kinda became an older sibling thing. After finishing the episodes for the night, we’d begin discussing theories, likes, & dislikes. Its been roughly two years and I’d forgotten much of the plot line. My sister and I began back with season one. The kids are so little!! Wow! Seasons 1 & 3 are the best. 2 got a little sidetracked and didn’t care for the new characters. Steve as a babysitter is one of the best bullies to heroes stories I’ve seen. Little bit of content to be aware of, quite a bit of language as well as a scare factor. Plus some innuendo.

Well that all I’ve got!! Whew!! That was a long post! Hope you enjoyed it! Now over to you. Have any new movies/shows that stuck out to you? Or maybe a favorite that you returned to? It’s hard to believe we are already six days into the new year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Anna