Review for Nova

Nova by Chuck Black

Genre – Christian Fiction, Fantasy, & Sci-fi

Series – 1st in The Starlore Legacy

Rating – PG – for science fiction related battles and violence

Synopsis –

Daeson Lockridge is the cousin to the prince of Jypton, Linden. Jpton has three castes: Elite, Colloquials, and Drudge (A.K.A Rayleans). The Drudge make up the whole working class who submit to the Elite’s authority. Despite being apart of the royal family, he dreams of being a becoming a topnotch pilot at the academy. Having almost finished his training, Daeson life it turned upside down when he meets Raviel, a Drudge mechtech. Upon talking with her, Daeson realizes everything he once held dear was a lie. Force to flee Jypton, Daeson must decide what he believes before it becomes too late.

My Thoughts –

So far in 2021, I’ve finished 3 books, two of which I loved: a reread of Salt to Sea which made me love that book even more and Nova!! I have been waiting to read Nova for quite some time, having read almost all of his previous books. Most of his books involve a Christian virtue or Biblical story woven throughout. It was a wonderful mix of a retelling of Moses with a unique technological universe of planets.

I liked Daeson, Raviel, and Tig. Daeson especially felt fleshed out. I kept hoping we would get more about Tig. Compared to some of Black’s previous female leads, Raviel is a definite improvement and I liked her and Daeson together. Not sure what to make of Rivet the droid. Is he good or just waiting to betray them? The AI wars reminded me of Star Wars and Rivet of a droid from Mandolorien series.

Black’s strong suit is setting and word building. He does a great job creating a believable world with unique technology and writes in a way that makes you fell like you are there with the characters. I mean he even provides diagrams of some of the technology. I do wish he had a map of the galaxy or of Jypton.

You can tell it’s based off Moses and the Isrealites in Egypt, but it’s subtler then I had expected. Which is totally fine and works! The prologue introduces Immortals who I am assuming are angels?? Ell Yon is the one true God who is with the Immortals. Both are invisible. Ell Yon makes an appearance to Daeson somewhat similar to the burning bush. They have an exchange where Daeson asks questions and Ell Yon answers, “I am.” Very similar to God’s words to Moses in Exodus.

The plot moved a quick pace and had a fair amount of action sequences. Intriguing enough to keep you hooked, but felt very predictable. I’d say The Clock of Light had a better plot, but Nova had better characters, but that’s just my opinion.

Language – None

Violence – There are fighter jet type ships that Daeson flies so we get several aerial battles. Several enemy Starcraft are blow up during Daeson’s escape. In protecting a meeting with Raviel, Daeson destroys a few drones and knocks out a sentry. Later rogue robots shoot and almost kill both Raviel and Daeson. We see the desolation that occurs when the Elite’s massacre most of the Raylean population.

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

A solid start to a new series! I love science fiction and am always on the lookout for anything new, especially Christian science fiction, which is difficult to find. Nova was a pleasant surprise and very clean. It’s something you could easily read in a day or two. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Next – I’ve already started my next books which I will be reading at the same time: Caraval by Stephanie Garber and rereading The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

Now over to you! How’s your January going? Have you heard of Nova or Chuck Black’s other series?

Anna

Review for Return of Tarzan

The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Genre – Adventure, Survival, Classic

Series – Second book in the Tarzan series

Rating – PG for peril and violence

Synopsis –

Picking up where Tarzan of the Apes left off, we find Tarzan on an ocean liner heading toward France. He has left Jane that she could marry Clayton. In doing so, he has given up his rightful title of Lord Greystoke. During the ocean crossing, Tarzan intercepts several attempts at besmirching and harming the Count De Coude’s honor. The count and his wife Olga are hounded by a man named Nikolas Rokoff. In siding with the Count, Tarzan has created a formidable enemy in Rokoff who will go to the ends of the earth to seek his revenge. Will Tarzan be able to settle for living a quiet life in France or will he revert to his former lifestyle as an ape-man?

My Thoughts –

I wanted to make sure I published another review before the end of the year. So, I decided upon Tarzan. I enjoy these rollicking adventure stories. They have a completely different feel to them compared to some of the writers today. You have a duel, espionage, fights, desert battles, and surviving the hostile jungle. I will say the first book is better in my opinion. Although, the two books could almost be merged together. The Return of Tarzan continues many of the themes from the first book.

Really the only thing that I didn’t care for was how the RoT was almost two separate books. The first section was set in France with the whole intrigue surrounding the Count and his wife. This section was well written, and I really enjoyed the duel and the courage and sacrifice Tarzan shows. The second half kinda wanders a bit and seems the author throws everything he can think of into it. You go from Tarzan being a spy to him finding the lost city of Opar and let’s not forgot the whole Arabian battle in Sidi Aissa. A little too much hopping from one event to the next for me.

I really liked Tarzan’s progression from a man who didn’t understand many common practices to becoming fluent in a variety of languages and cultured enough to pass in society. He truly cares for those around him and is a loyal person to the point of sacrificing his life. Also, I liked Jane’s personal development as she realized where her heart truly lay.

What a relief it was that Burroughs left off much of his primeval man talk. In Tarzan of the Apes, he spent a lot of time talking about about how man had evolved from the primeval ape. You can really see how Darwin’s theory impacted Burrough’s writing a bit which is kinda sad. Although, Burroughs also mentions a Creator or deity a few times.

Language – Pretty clean, only a handful of uses of mild language

Violence – There are several attempts made to kill or hurt the Count and his wife. Tarzan intercedes in a way that no one is harmed. There is a duel between Tarzan and the Count over possible infidelity. (more on that later) Tarzan is shot twice, but only scratches and is not seriously harmed. He is lead into a trap by Rokoff, yet Tarzan kills and harms Rokoff’s men and a few police officers. He almost kills the count in a fit of rage. Later in Africa is left for dead in the desert. He kills several lions to save his life. Burroughs makes it clear that he does not advocate aimless killing for sport. Tarzan battles several Arabs who work for Rokoff. Later, he is presumed dead after being pushed off a ship. I will note that most of the killing is bloodless and not very descriptive.

Innuendo – Throughout the book it is shown Tarzan being noble and heroic in his dealings with women except for one instance. After meeting Olga on the ocean liner, they become friends and he spends quite a bit of time with her and her husband at their home. Rokoff finds out about this and sets up phony letters to get Tarzan alone with Olga. Upon realizing the set up, Tarzan tells Olga what has happened and he comforts her. They end up kissing. The Count, also sent a letter, rushes home and sees them kissing. He believes that more had occurred. So sets up a duel. Tarzan realizes his mistake takes the blame for what happened and cleared Olga of any crime.

Conclusion –

All in all, it was a light splashy read. For a short novel it takes you many places around the world. I don’t know much about Burroughs, but he wrote in way that felt that he had been to all these places, especially the African sections. I really preferred the first book though. His whole learning to read/write was just fascinating, maybe that’s just cause I’m a teacher πŸ˜‰ The portions of the book on the various ships were great and probably my favorite parts!

Now over to you! Have you read this book or the previous one? How was your Christmas?

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

Anna

2020 in Review

I thought it might be fun to go over some of my favorite books that I read. I believe I did a similar post last year. http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/01/01/2019-in-review/. It has been such a crazy year!! I didn’t read quite as many books as I did last year, but I came close. Probably part of it due to reading some longer books *cough * War and Peace *cough * Atlas Shrugged. I’m looking at you two. Anyway, my total (I’m going to count the book I’m reading as I will defiantly finish it before New Year’s day) count is * Drumroll please * 65!! Whoohoo!! Plus, I read all but 2 of the books on my TBR list posted here – http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020-book-list/

Now on to some of my favorite books!!

Excited Season 4 GIF by The Office

#6 Offworld by Robin Perrish

Really enjoyed this Christian science fiction book!! Its a little different in that instead of astronauts going to outer space, they are returning to find quite a different world. Its quirky and unique, but keeps you guessing which I loved! My review here – http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/02/25/review-for-offworld/

#5 Flight of Angels by Allen and Aaron Reini

Another Christian Science fiction themed book! Go figure! πŸ˜‰ This one includes some spy & thriller type feel to it. I liked the diverse cast of characters and being set on different planets other then earth. Capatin De’falco and Nikky were my favorite characters of the bunch. I mean who doesn’t like the guy in the chair. πŸ™‚ There also some good themes about friendship and betrayal. Link to my review here – http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/04/16/review-for-flight-of-the-angels/

#4 Maze Runner by James Dashner

This was a new to me dystopian that I fell for hard! Love the movies version of this book. The first one is the best of the series in my opinion. The second was ok, but the third was a disappointment. Anyway, its an easy read, but bits of it hit very close to home, what with their illness and our virus. My favorites all seem to be science fiction. πŸ˜‰ My Review here – http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/11/01/review-of-the-maze-runner/

#3 Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

I discovered Gary Schmidt last summer and absolutely loved Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now. I heard this book was more for adults then some of his previous books. He does a wonderful job with a tough subject and showcases a family’s love for a foster son. Read this with tissues nearby! I truly loved the story arc of the main characters. Truly one I highly recommend! My review here – http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/05/14/review-for-orbiting-jupiter/

#2 Taliesin (Book 1 of Pendragon Cycle) by Stephan Lawhead


This was really close to being #1, but Lawhead takes his time to develop the characters and setting and so it takes time to really get going. Taliesin tells the story of Merlin’s parents while recreating the lost world of Atlantis. I’m really looking forward to continuing the story. Lawhead has a lyrical sense with the way he writes. Solid fantasy epic with a redemptive arc. My more in depth review is here – http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/07/13/review-for-taliesin/

And my favorite book of this year is …….

#1 Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Ugh, I really loved this WWII survival story!! It’s so good. Sepetys weaves together a tale of four teenagers at the end of the war. Each has had a different experience during the war. It’s also based somewhat on a true story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise ship endeavoring to flee. Truly a captivating story although this is another one you’ll need some tissues. My Review here – http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/01/31/review-for-salt-to-the-sea/

These are some my favorites this year! A few close seconds include: A Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody & Joanne Randell, Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hilton, Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, & This Tender Land by William Kent Kruger.

Now I want to hear from you! What did you read this year? Have any favorites? Have you read any of these?

Anna

Top Audiobooks of 2020

I have listened so a handful of audiobooks this year, less then I did last year. Probably due to the pandemic and less driving. πŸ™ Anyway, I wanted to mention a few that I have really enjoyed. Most of these the narrator does a great job drawing you into the story, with one exception. I’m not going to list these any particular order.

On with the show!

  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow

This year I dipped my toe in a fair amount of Russian themed books. I had come across A Gentleman in Moscow on several blogs and decided I was in the mood to travel back in time to 1922 Moscow. πŸ˜‰ I really enjoyed this one!! Nicholas Smith narrates and truly brings the character Count Alexander Rostov to life. It tells the story of Count Rostov and how the Bolshevik tribunal place him under house arrest at the fancy Hotel Metropol. While there, he meets some of the most interesting people who help break up him hum drum existence and change his life. This is a whopper of an audiobook as it clocks in at 17 hours, but I’d highly recommend listening to it!

  • The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
The Night Gardener

After reading the first two books in the Peter Nimble Adventures, I found that the author had written several other novels. This particular one peaked by interested. It tells the story of siblings who work as servants inside an old manor house. The family that lives there seem to be plagued by problems. The siblings resolve to mind their own business and just do their job, but when Kip sees a mysterious spectre roaming the grounds, Molly needs to figure out what is going on before it’s too late. While creepy at times, it becomes more of a fable for what happens when people become greedy. Beverly Crick adds to the quirky characters. While the book is aimed at middle graders, I’d say young adult on up.

  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
My Lady Jane Audiobook By Cynthia Hand,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Brodi Ashton,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Jodi Meadows cover art

Years ago I had read about the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey. This retelling throws history out the window and embarks on its own fantasy twist to the tale. I love retellings and decided to give this one a try. It’s narrated by Katherine Kellgren, and I can honestly say I wasn’t a huge fan of either the book or the narration style. I feel like it had a lot of potential, but I didn’t like the lead character who seemed very prideful to me. Anyway, it was a pretty light and fluffy audiobook, good for the summer (as it has that feel and that’s when I listened to it).

  • The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

This was probably my favorite of the audiobooks I listened to this year!! Also, was of the shorter audiobooks only a little over 7 hours, but it is packed with charm and whimsy! The lead character is very relatable and the narrator, Elizabeth Jasicki, did it justice! It is about 15 year old Jennifer Strange who currently runs Kazam, a employment agency for magicians. She has things running as smoothly as they can while the real owner is missing. Yet, odd things begin to happen as the last dragon is predicted to die shortly. The long and short of it is, is a coming of age story with fantasy set in a world very similar to our own. I’d highly recommend giving this one a go!

  • Britt Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman
Britt-Marie Was Here Audiobook By Fredrik Backman cover art

This was the book club’s pick for the month of November and I really enjoyed it quite a bit! I had never read anything by Backman prior to this. So, it was a fun surprise. The narrator is fantastic at giving all the characters a varied voice and made you feel for Britt-Marie. After finding out her husband was having an affair, Britt Marie finds one of the few jobs available for someone her age, running a youth center in Borg. The people in this small broken down village lead Britt-Marie to discover who she really is and what she wants from life. There are so many heartwarming scenes that will make you laugh and then cry. *Warning* The language in this one is rough and used throughout by certain characters.

  • Tarzan of the Apes by Edger Rice Burroughs
Tarzan of the Apes

This was a re-listen for me as I had read this several years ago. To prepare for reading the next book, Return of Tarzan, I figured I’d listen to it in order to re-familiarize myself with the story. Tarzan’s parents die tragically in the jungle leaving behind a wee baby. Kala the ape had just lost her baby and adopts Tarzan as her own. Tarzan grows up with the apes and learns their ways and language. He doesn’t meet one of his own kind until a African native kills Kala. He begins to learn to read and write. When a ship brings Jane Porter and her father Archimedes Porter, Tarzan must decide whether he wants to stay in the jungle or leave for civilization. I enjoyed revisiting the jungle! Jeff Harding does a wonderful job narrating.

Well, that’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed seeing what I listened to this year. Cannot wait to hear from you all! Do you enjoy audiobooks? Or prefer an actual book? What did you listen to this year?

Anna

Review of Ishmael

Ishmael by E. D. E. N. Southworth

Genre – Adult, Historical, Christian Fiction

Series – 1st of two books, followed by Self-Raised

Rating – PG for thematic elements and discussions of a illegitimate birth.

Synopsis –

Hannah and Nora are two sisters who, although they are dirt poor, are quite content with their life. Until Nora meets Herman Brudenell, the handsome land owner’s son. Nora falls in love with him despite Hannah being very obstinate against it. They are soon married in secret for Herman’s mother’s sake. A series of events leads to Nora’s death in childbirth, and cause Herman to flee his newly born son, Ishmael. Despite the odds against him, Ishmael lives. He faces many hardships on his road to understand the world around him.

My Thoughts –

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I finally finished it! Whoohoo! It took me a while to work my way through Ishmael, but hey, at least I made it. My goal was to finish before Christmas, so check that off the list. I cannot say this was my favorite Lamplighter book, but there were some good elements to it. Quite a bit different from any of the other Lamplighters that I had read previously.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritties shall we? To start the character development and setting are spot on! Southworth does a great job giving the characters a backstory and motives for their growth or moral decline. The setting felt real, probably due to fact that this book was written close to time it was set. Ishmael is a likeable character, you root for him to be victorious over the circumstances of his birth and childhood years. Although, for the majority of the book, he felt almost too perfect. He didn’t have any major flaws to speak of, until literally the last chapter. So, that got on my nerves a bit. Beatrice is great women who loves and sacrifices her wants for her friend Claudia.

Now, I had one major problem with it – main character love interest. He fell for the snotty and proud Claudia who views him as a dog. Ugh, this annoyed me so much. He literally will do anything she asks. I really wanted Ishmael to realize how Beatrice felt and cared about him. That being said thankfully the romance side of the story takes a backseat to his growth as a person and Ishmael climbing the proverbial work ladder.

Southworth does a great job weaving faith throughout the book. We see Ishmael’s faith in the Lord grow from barely recognizing his Creator and almost worshiping the founding fathers to a strong devotion to the Lord and reliance upon him. Even Hannah, listened to her dying sister and opted to leave revenge in God’s hands. She could very easily have told everyone the truth of Ishmael’s parentage. So, I appreciated that aspect.

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I do have to mention that it moves very slowly. The plot takes it times and meanders a little bit which was part of the reason I struggled to really sink into the novel. Maybe it’s just me being picky. πŸ˜‰ Whatever the reason, (mentally saying quote from the Grinch) just wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

Language – Just a few uses of mind swearing, used by Ishmael’s rivals.

Innuendo – Several of his schoolmates make fun of his birth. Leads to several characters believing that Ishmael was born out of wedlock.

Violence – A house is burning and Ishmael rushes in to save to boys who were trapped. He suffered some burns and bruises. Later, he endeavors to halt a runaway horse and carriage. He is trampled by the horse and wheels of carriage. He breaks a few ribs and both of his legs, maybe his arm as well.

Conclusion –

I can say that I enjoyed bits and pieces. There were many aspects of the book that were very compelling and realistic. Several character just annoyed me with their constant pettiness, but the main character was devoted to the Lord. Written during a very interesting time in history. I can say I read it! Overall, word building was fantastic and very clean.

How is your December going? Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?

Anna

Review for The Death Cure

The Death Cure by James Dashner

Genre – Dystopian, Mystery, Suspense

Series – 3rd book in the Maze Runner series

Rating – PG-13 for violence and death

Synopsis –

Thomas is fed-up with WICKED, they have told so many lies and caused him to lose many friends. They have even told Thomas that his best friend Newt has the virus. So, he decides to take matters into his own hands and leave as quickly as possible with Mingho and Newt. Yet, when their escape is too easy and they begin to suspect something is off. Did WICKED let them go? Will they be able to find a cure before it is too late? And just who can be trusted?

My Thoughts –

Wow, um kinda hard to believe that I finished this series already! Now that I’ve read/listened to the series, I can honestly say the first book is the best! The Maze Runner was able to bring to life these boys and yet still move the mystery along. Plus it didn’t have the weird love triangle that started in The Scorch Trials, ugh, sorry Brenda fans.

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I just really didn’t like or trust her. Even in The Death Cure, she just got more annoying. Like what even, that kiss at the end?? Your best friend who was a girl just died, and Thomas goes and kisses Brenda? No! Just No!

I was also kinda sad about the characters in this one. So far they were pretty consistent, yet now Newt goes all crazy and acts completely different. I get he has the flare, but really! Ugh, * Spoiler Alert * His death felt so sidelined and why did he have to die? End of Spoiler. Thomas also was a bit wishy-washy not really knowing what he wanted. I missed the good old days when they had a mission to see through

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The One good thing Character wise was Gally! So nice to see him again, despite how the author left him off in The Maze Runner, he had some redemption here that made up for Chuck a little bit.

The plot felt a little bit all over the map. Maybe that is just my take on it. The storytelling is pretty good, and Dashner creates a fairly believable world, especially when talking about recent events like COVID. Felt a little too close to home. Overall the plot moves more like 1 step forward, 2 steps back, which was a little frustrating. I did like the end though, not counting a character death, too convenient for me. πŸ™ The whole going back to maze and saving everybody was good to see. I’m not really sure how I feel about the Immunes just leaving rest of world to crumble though, I guess there isn’t much they can do.

I have to say that I really liked how the movie did The Death Cure! They smoothed out a few crinkles and kept the characters from changing so much. They also did a much better job with the 2 character’s death. Didn’t feel so worthless and more self-sacrificial.

Violence – I feel like the author stepped up the violence quite a bit! What with the flare turning people crazy and zombie like. Lots of fighting, stabbing, characters get shot, and tazzed with electricity. One instance of running cranks (people with the flare) over in a car. The cranks were trying to kill our characters by smashing windows, reaching in and grabbing them by hair. One character shots another character to put him out of his misery. He is dying a slow and painful death. Didn’t really appreciate this at all. A building collapses causing characters to get trapped or smashed by rocks. One character stops a rock to save others before dying.

Language – Maybe 5 instances of mild swearing. The author invented his own colorful language that the boys use including: shank, slim it, and shuck, used throughout book.

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

I feel like I mostly had negatives to say about book, but it really wasn’t all bad. There were a few nice moments, and I will say it was hard to put down! It’s an interesting end to the series a bit odd, but you get a few answers about why they went through the trials and maze, but nothing concrete. Movie better, period. Maybe, it would have helped to have read books before watching movies. πŸ˜‰ The books are very much aimed at the YA audience, like 90% of the characters are teenagers. I have mixed feeling about this book, I liked it, but also got annoyed by characters.

Anyway, have you ever read this series and have a favorite? What are your thoughts about ending?

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Anna

Review of Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Genre – Mystery, Suspense

Series – #17 Hercule Poirot

Rating – PG-13 for violence and death

Synopsis –

The famous French detective Hercule Poirot has decided to take a vacation to Egypt. Little did he know that he would become involved in the mysterious murder of Linnet Ridgeway a British rich aristocrat. A few months before heading to Egypt, Linnet meets with her best friend Jacqueline de Bellefort to talk about Jacqueline’s possible engagement. Jacqueline is madly in love with Simon Doyle, a poor country man, and wants Linnet to give her consent to Jacqueline’s marriage. Several months later. Poirot meets Linnet during his trip in Egypt, and she had married Simon. Linnet is scared for her life and begs Poirot to investigate. After she is murdered on a boat, Poirot needs all of skill to figure out exactly what happened.

My Thoughts –

Sorry if my thoughts get a little jumbled, I finished this book almost a week ago and its still swirling around my head. I’ve only read/listened to a handful of Christie’s novels, yet this one seems to stand out to me. I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express with its unique ending, but I almost liked Death on the Nile more. For starters, the focus is on character development and exploring what makes each suspect tick. I loved this aspect, most whodunit’s just focus on the crime. Then the murder doesn’t happen until half-way through the book. Again, this was different then most mystery novels I’ve read and it really worked!

There is a whole host of characters, some of whom are very well created. I really like how Christie wrote Jacqueline. Although she carries a grudge, I liked and felt sorry for her. I also was drawn to Cornelia; what a bright flower among so many flawed people. Cornelia had a kind and humble heart. Now, I cannot forget Poirot. He is definitely a quirky detective; he’s able to notice things that nobody else does, but also has a soft side. There was a section where he takes Jacqueline aside and they have a little chat. It was such an emotional scene and after having only met this women, Poirot cared about her.

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The plot had several twists and turns to it. I was so sure that certain characters were innocent, but Christie had me fooled. There were a few things that I found odd, but wasn’t able to put everything together.

Although this is not a Christian book by any means, Poirot believes in God. He quotes scripture a few times at just the right moment and on the inside I was like “Yes!” Also, he tries to prevent several characters from making poor decisions.

Language – Mild infrequent swearing

Innuendo – A character marries her best friend’s boyfriend, (we find out later this was all planned by best friend to get money). A character references sex as a subject in her book she wrote.

Violence -Now while it is a murder mystery, Christie keeps the violence to a minimum. You know they die and how, but it isn’t gratuitous. A character is found dead the next morning by gunshot to head. Another character is shot in the leg. A few other characters die, but not very detailed. Later to avoid going to prison, a character commits suicide.

Conclusion –

Death on the Nile gives an interesting look at what can lead a person to do horrible things. There is a lot to think about and I really enjoyed diving into another Agatha Christie novel. I had a hard time putting it down!! Personally, I love seeing an in depth look at characters and their development . So this was right up my alley. Overall, a well written story that defiantly worth a read!

Have you read any Agatha Christie books? Do you have a favorite? Hope you are having a wonderful November!

Anna

Review of The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Genre – Dystopian, Science Fiction, Survival

Series – 1st book in the Maze Runner series

Rating – PG-13 for violence, scary situations

Synopsis –

Thomas wakes up in box remembering nothing of his previous life, except his name. He soon discovers that he is trapped inside a maze with roughly 4o other boys with similar experiences. They live in the Glade a square space set in the middle of the maze that is closed off from the maze at night. As he befriends some of the other boys, becomes curious about how the maze works. Alby and Newt (the two leaders) show Thomas the ropes, and he soon realizes that he desperately wants to be one of the runners who map out the maze. There is a little resistance from Gally, who claims to recognize Thomas, There are also Grievers, a rubber slug like creature with robotic appendages, who roam the maze at night. Will Thomas and the other boys be able to find a way out? Who put them here?

My Thoughts –

Sorry about the small Hiatus! Things have picked up at work and life has been busy! Hoping to post more soon. I liked this book, I really did, despite reading of this book after watching the movie. Previously, I hadn’t really heard of this series before finding it at local library. I was fascinated by the mystery behind it. Reminded me a lot of Lost, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So after seeing the first movie, I found the book at the library and plowed through it fairly quickly. I have to say that personally, I like puzzles and figuring out what’s going on, so I didn’t mind that the author held back information or gave it to us in small chunks.

I have to say that I liked the movie’s portrayal of Alby and Thomas better then the book. I feel like it flushed out their characters a bit better then the book did. Although, Newt and Mingho had more personality in the book. So, go figure that one out. Chuck is so sweet and the perfect friend for Thomas, who could be a bit selfish at times. Newt is one of my favorite characters and I can connect with him on several levels. He is kinda like the peacemaker of the group and the one who keeps things going. Not really a leader though. Liked the whole Newt having a limb, remind anybody of Crutchie from Newsies ?? πŸ™‚

Although the writing wasn’t super great, the plot moved quickly and kept me interested in the story. There isn’t much character development, more focused on the action and mystery behind the maze which didn’t bug me too much. You don’t get many answers even by the end of the book. * Spoiler Alert * I liked that the maze actually spelled out words to help escape, but wanted more there to be more it. Ending a wee bit flat. It seemed that Thomas just suddenly had the answer to solving maze. Wished he had to work harder to get answer.

There were several little bits that I really loved! Chuck’s sacrifice! What a noble act for such a young kid! He was so brave. I also loved the parts about the Glade and how they had built a little community. Every person had a job; left me wanting more. It felt like that section so brief before we moved on to more action sequences. The meeting of the Keepers was also a nice touch.

Language – Maybe 2 uses of mild British language, mostly the author invented his own slang words that the boys used frequently like “Greenie”, “shank”, “shuck”

Innuendo – None

Violence – Um, yeah, there is quite a bit. Not gory, but it’s in there. First, there is this sickness that people get if stung by the Grievers. It makes them lose their mind and eventually die if they don’t get antidote. The antidote has side effects as well. It causes green veins to appear all over the body & gives the person flash backs to their previous life. The Grievers also will attack at night and either sting them or use its appendages to cause harm. This happens a couple times. Mentions of people getting left out in maze at night who disappear or killed. There is a battle where many Gladers are killed by grievers. Not really detailed, but we know it happens. Chuck jumps in front of a knife to save Thomas. One guy tries to kill Thomas after going through changeling process and remembering.

Other – One other thing I want to mention. After the guy tries to kill Thomas, he is banished to the maze. They all kinda push him out of the glade. This made no sense to me. I mean the guy wasn’t right in the head due to the antidote. Cut him some slack. I felt sorry for him and we see Thomas being horrified at this. Just wish he didn’t have to die.

Conclusion –

I’m a sucker for good mystery with twists and complex puzzles; this book fit perfectly. I enjoyed it quite a bit! The characters felt and acted like normal teenage kids and hopefully they get a bit fleshed out and develop over next book. I really wanted to figure out what was going on, despite having seen the movie, as there were some big differences. Although I had a few quibbles, its a decent first installment and yeah, I’m reading the next one. πŸ˜‰

Have you seen or heard of this series? What are your thoughts? Can you believe it is already November!

Anna

Review for I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Genre – Historical, coming of age, romance

Series – No

Rating – PG – for mild innuendo

Synopsis –

Cassandra has received a journal and decides to practice her speed writing by writing about her life living in a run down castle with her family. Her mother died many years ago and her father remarried a women named Topaz. Cassandra’s family has no money, and so excitement surfaces when two American bachelors move into their landowner’s estate. Rose, the sister, is determined to marry someone who has money because she is sick of being poor. As her father sinks into a miserable and forlorn state, Cassandra desperately wants to help out. Will Cassandra be able to come up with a form of income? or will these 2 Americans kick their family out for good?

My Thoughts –

I didn’t realize this until after I started this book, that it is by the author of 101 Dalmatians. I have conflicting thoughts on this book; defintatly unique with a surprising ending that I kinda liked, but also felt a little dissatisfied with it. Yet, I have to say the author did a wonderful job sweeping you into the story of this family’s life. There were a few moments that very much reminded me of Pride and Prejudice. Poor family, 2 sisters that are close, rich neighbors – you get the picture. πŸ˜‰

All the characters come across in a very real way. The story itself moves along slowly as the author takes time to describe surroundings and build characters. I liked the Mortmain family, although some of their actions were a bit annoying at times. Thankfully, nothing felt contrived though. I have to say that I liked Stephan much more then I did Simon. *Spoiler Alert * I am quite glad that Cassandra does not end up with Simon, but why did she drag Stephan along !! I didn’t really like Rose. I just couldn’t support her convictions. However, I found Mr. Mortmain to be quite comedic l and a complex character.

The plot had some very sweet moments to it, but then the characters would do something that got on my nerves. I have to say I liked it, but not so much that I truly loved the story.

The characters themselves are not Christians , so their choices can sometimes reflect that. Although, Cassandra does go to church a few times and discusses theology with the priest. There was one part where Cassandra and Rose would throw these big rituals on May Day. They would read poetry, dance around the fire, and collect flowers. It just felt odd & I cannot say I cared for it.

Violence – The reason Mr. Mortmain got sent to prison was because a neighbor saw him brandishing a cake knife at his wife. (He is truly a kind man although a bit distant and sarcastic).

Language – There really wasn’t that much, maybe a few uses of mild swearing.

Innuendo – Cassandra mentions that Topaz likes to commune with nature by walking outdoors naked. (We never see this happen, but it is mentioned a few times.) Cassandra decides to sunbathe naked when none of her family members are home. She does do this in a private part of the castle where no one could stumble upon her. It is suggested that a character made love to another character.

Conclusion –

In thinking back, I have to say the first half was good and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The second half seemed to derail a little bit with a big twist at the end. Overall I’d say a unique story with some out of the box characters. Honestly I cannot think of much more to say about it.

How is your fall going? What have you been reading? Have you heard of this book?

Anna

Review for My Dog Skip

My Dog Skip by Willie Morris

Genre – Memoir, Historical, Humor

Rating – PG – rare uses of mild language

Series – No, stand-a-lone

Synopsis –

Willie receives a dog for his ninth birthday, while his family has had previous dogs, but Skip is special. Skip and Willie grow up a small Mississippi town back in the 1940’s. As Skip & Willie grow up, they have many adventures and learn a few lessons along the way. Whether it’s Willie’s night at the cemetery or Skip driving the car, it sure to bring a smile to your face.

My Thoughts –

This book was such a heartwarming & quick read that I didn’t want it to end!! I am a sucker for a good dog story and feel like I find a new one every year. I discovered this one by chance when I saw the movie for the first time. It was cute and brought tears to my eyes at the end. When I realized it was a book first, I quickly put it on hold from my library. My Dog Skip is less then 200 pages long and yet after reading it you feel like you’ve known Skip and Willie all your life.

The stories are not really in chronological order just by theme or year. Despite that fact, I didn’t mind it; it just flowed so easily. So, sometimes you get many little stories within one chapter or one single story. Morris has a humorous way of writing which made me chuckle and smile several times. You could picture the town and the characters. πŸ™‚ Who would have thought to create a prank around a dog driving a car or putting dewormer into cookies.

I will say its not really character driven, just mostly focused on the author’s memories of growing up with his dog. He names some of his friends, but doesn’t give very many details about them. Skip makes up for it though for he has quite the personality.

Language – Many 3 uses of mild language.

Violence – None

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

Morris writes such a charming book about a time long past & makes you want to go back and visit this small town. You can tell how much the author loved his dog & all the fun adventures they had together. Plus it was pretty clean and might make for a fun read aloud!

Have you read this book or seen the movie? How is your fall going? What have you been reading?

Anna