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

2021 Books in Review

Well folks, we are closing in on the finish of 2021 with only one more day left. Overall this has been a hard year. Started a new job in June which has its ups and downs. Then at the beginning of August I got Covid which was rather unpleasant. At least now I can say I had it and recovered. So, as we think about what the future holds, I have been thinking back to the books and movies I’ve seen this year. My total was 60 books!!! I’m just going to list my top favorites. A lot of these books you’ve probably heard me talk about before, but they are favorites for a reason. πŸ˜‰

Let’s start with the books!!

fox films book GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

#8 Caraval by Stephanie Garber – Fantasy- Review for Caraval

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

Caraval is like entering a circus for your brain. It’s glittery and vibrant. Has some good messages about family, although quite a bit of innuendo. I liked the first one, however the next two books lost some of the magic and I didn’t end up liking the characters.

#7 Greenwillow – Fantasy, fiction – Review for Greenwillow

Greenwillow

I’d seen this book quite a bit from different bloggers. Reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables which I loved! Simple life of a family and a small rural town. Good for if you need something light-hearted! Will make you laugh!

#6 The Power of One by Bryce Courtney – historical fiction

The Power of One (The Power of One, #1)

This was a spring read for our book club. I’d never heard of this author before, but ended up liking more then I expected. Taken from the author’s experience as a kid growing up in South Africa. Covers some tough themes – bullying, loss, abandonment

#5 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Sci-fi – Review for Ender’s Game

At the beginning of the year, I had looked up clasic science fiction. Ender’s Game was one of the ones on the top of the list. It’s unique and takes a look at how far the government will go to beat a supposed enemy, including manipulating kids. Gives a lot to think about. Ender is a complex character who has flaws, but you sympathize with him.

#5 Les Miserables – Historical fiction – Review for Les Miserables

Les MisΓ©rables

I have listened this music ever since I was little as it is my grandma’s favorite musical. I’ve read an adapted version and knew I should go for the unabridged. It’s lengthy, and the author deviates a lot, however, the story of redemption is well worth it. Jean Valjean alone is a fascinating.

#4 Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – WWII – Review for Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

I reread this back at the beginning of 2021. For some reason this book speaks to me. I love how the characters protect each other’s secrets. Four teenagers each face decisions as they flee to escape Germany. As they trek to the sea, they face crowds, ice and limited space on the few ships available. Based on the true nautical disaster greater then then the Titanic.

#3 Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – science fiction –

This was another book club pick for July. I had just finished The Martian when they chose PHM. It tells the story of man who wakes up on a spaceship with amnesia. He has to figure out why he is there before Earth is wiped out. I actually liked this one a smidge better then The Martian. The main character is a middle school science teacher which connected with me. Plus, Rocky is the best alien I’ve ever met!!

#2 The Book Thief – reread – WWII fiction – Review for The Book Thief

Years ago I got this movie as a Christmas gift and then read the book. It became one of my favorite movies of all time. But it has been a few years and had forgotten quite a bit. Tells the story an orphan girl whose adopted parents hide a Jew during the war. Beautiful story! Bring a box of tissues!

It should be no surprise what was my favorite book this year!! πŸ˜‰

#1 The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas- Adventure – reread – Review for The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

I read this book in high school and honestly don’t remember why I chose it. Maybe was from a book list for literature. Whatever the reason, I ended up loving it!! Dante has an incredible developmental arc!! This book has it all from romance to sword duels. Yes, it is long, but keep going! Dumas uses even the small characters to play a roll in Dante’s revenge.

So has has your reading year been? Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favorite reads? Any books you are looking forward to in the coming year?

Up next – I’ll review favorite movies/shows from this past year!

Anna

Reread of The Hobbit

As we close in on Christmas, this is a great time to finish the last few books on the ever growing TBR pile. This year has been hectic and stressful at times. Many changes will be occurring in the next few months. Which put me in the mood for a comfort read. I set aside several other books and just let myself be swept up in the tale of a small hobbit. It honestly was the perfect read.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Genre – Fantasy

Series – A prequel to the Lord the Rings, written first

Rating – PG for peril and danger

Synopsis –

Bilbo Baggins is a quiet Hobbit who loves the comforts of his own home. One day Gandalf, the Wizard, comes by asking if Bilbo would like to go on an adventure. Despite Bilbo’s protesting, Dwarves begin showing up one evening. They cause a ruckus and poor Bilbo is unsure what is going on. With a little prodding he joins their mission to go to the Lonely Mountain and capture their long forgotten gold from a dragon.

My Thoughts –

This story has become so ingrained in our culture; most people know at least vaguely about The Hobbit. However, recently I’ve meet two individuals who had never heard of The Hobbit, which surprised me greatly. These books were such a big part of my childhood. I can remember seeing The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings sitting on our bookshelf when I was little. I was 13 when I first read The Hobbit. The cover I used up above is the same cover that I have. You cannot look at it without being intrigued. One time I was not feeling so good, and I remember my mom sitting next to me reading An Unexpected Party. So, it goes without saying that I love this book!

Anyway, it has been several years since I’ve picked up The Hobbit. I had reread The Lord of Rings a little over a year ago. So felt in the need for some more Tolkien. πŸ™‚

Tolkien is a master wordsmith. He writes in such a way as to create a realistic world similar enough to our own and yet unique. Middle earth is filled with lush landscape and dark forests filled with all manner of creatures. I mean he invented orcs and mines of Moria.

Of all the characters in The Hobbit, I relate to Bilbo the most. We would be kindred spirits. He loves his hobbit-hole and is quite fond of food. While I don’t eat as much as hobbits do, I love comfort food. Tea, biscuits, cake, cheese! Yes, please! I love how Tolkien develops Bilbo and he goes from a scared rather flighty person to someone who will risk is own share of the treasure for the peace and safety of his friends.

Also, the elves. I had forgotten how cheerful and musical they were in the book. Would love to spend time in Rivendell and hear all the stories of old. Elrond sounds like a great host.

It was nice seeing Gandalf take more of a back seat and more a conductor then playing a big role. Now way back when I don’t remember ever really liking Bard. But this go around I really loved his small role. I do like how the movies portrayed him. Gave him more background and family, yet keeping in line with the book.

There are so many great things I could say about this book!! I mean talking dragons, riddles – which I struggled to solve on my first read. The songs are a lot of fun too!!

Quotes –

“This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbor’s respect, but he gained – well you will see whether he gained anything in the end” (p. 2)

“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” (p. 1).

“As they sang the hobbit fell the love of beautiful things made by hands” (p. 15)

“”That would be no good” said the wizard, “not without a mighty warrior, even a hero. I tried to find one; but warriors are busy fighting one another in distant lands” (p. 21-22).

“You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all” (p. 305).

Content – Honestly, there isn’t much to mention here. We have fights and battles. A few scary creatures like goblins, trolls, and wargs. A few characters die.

Conclusion –

What a nice to book to sip with a warm tea on a cold night. As I look back on the books I’ve read this past year, I want to give myself grace next year. More freedom to just pick up whatever book fancies me. Less pressure to finish a certain amount. The Hobbit is a wonderful book, although originally written for children, it has lessons that even us adults can appreciate. Plus, who doesn’t love a solid fantasy story that has held up well with time. This is a classic that everyone should read sometime in their life.

Up Next – I’m hoping to do a post reviewing some of my favorite books of the year!

What are your thoughts on The Hobbit? Is this a book you grew up with or discovered later? Do you like the movie?

Anna

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I had some high expectations for this book, let’s just say I absolutely loved the movie!! Quirky, odd, unique characters, & of course time travel. For me I love seeing the different ways to portray time travel. And these time loops are different and kinda fun. Also loved how Jacob was portrayed in the movie. Now I was disappointed with certain aspects of the book, but we will discuss that later.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

Genre – Sci-fi, YA

Series – 1st book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series

Rating – PG-13 for scary monsters and language

Synopsis –

Jacob is like most smart 16 year olds; he keeps to himself and is close with his grandfather, Abe. When Jacob was little, Abe told him some of the most fantastical stories about living on an island during WWII with children with special capabilities. One day Jacob gets call from his grandfather who sounds distressed and in danger. Unfortunately by the time Jacob finds him, its too late. His grandfather is only able to whisper a few odd sentences before he dies. Slowly, Jacob begins to unravel the mystery surrounding his grandfather’s past.

My Thoughts –

Let’s start with what I liked : the first person narrative – for me this worked really well. You connect with Jacob and it was nice to see how to put together the pieces of the mystery. Jacob also has flaws & doubts; he is not perfect by any means, but it is a likeable character.

Abe – Also, really liked the grandpa in both book and movie. He is smart and an ex-solider who did his duty in world war II. He tried so hard to keep his family safe from the monsters. And yet he wasn’t the best dad. I feel like the things that happened during the war and his time on the island, probably led Abe to keep so many secrets that it was hard letting people inside.

Miss Peregrine herself – what a job keeping so many children safe and hidden while keeping the time loop going. She also was super knowledgeable about the world around them. She is able to multitask like nobodies business. Plus, I mean she can turn herself into a bird. That’s a pretty cool capability. Now, I do wish we could have spent more time with her, most of the book resolved around Jacob.

Last but not least the Setting – part of the story occurs in Florida, which I’ve visited several times. The author does a great job describing the scenery. Then we jump to the island off the coast of Wales. Which provided the perfect location!! All the rain and the small fishing village. Perfect!

One more note I loved how the author came up with the idea. He found all these old photos at flee markets and picked out the odd & bizarre ones and created a story surrounding them. Pretty neat!

Now on the Dislikes πŸ˜‰

First, got to say did not like Emma and Jacob together in the book. Emma’s character just didn’t work. To me she was snobbish and the whole knowing Jacob’s grandfather was odd. Big pass for me. In the movie however, they switched characters and it was fine.

Also, the ending! Esh, like what even. We don’t get a good description of why the Wights are taking the ymbrynes other then doing a big experiment. The movie flushed out Golan better and gave him more motive then the book did. Left a lot undone. I wish it could have wrapped up a bit better.

Content – there is some language throughout, not overwhelming though, but enough to be annoying. Also the hollows are pretty scary kill/hurt several characters. Then you have a teen romance.

Quotes –

“It was my grandfather’s island. Looming and bleak, folded in mist, guarded by a million screeching birds, it looked like some ancient fortress constructed by giants.” (p. 70).

A patchwork of sheep-speckled fields spread across hills that rose away to meet a high ridge, where a wall of clouds stood like a cotton parapet” (p. 71).

“Trees burst forth from broken windows and skins of scabrous vine gnawed at the walls like anti-bodies attacking a virus – as if nature itself had waged war against it” (p. 83)

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was” (p. 351).

Conclusion –

Overall, I preferred the movie, but the book has some good points as well. Love the author’s writing style. Certain characters were fleshed out, but the all the children at the home, kind of got put on the back burner. We don’t really get to know them that well. I did get hooked though and struggled setting this one down. πŸ˜‰

Up next – I’m thinking about re-reading The Hobbit. Feel in the mood to go visit Middle-Earth!

How about you? How has your December gone? Have you read Miss Peregrine? What are your thoughts, book vs. movie?

Anna

Review for 438 Days

Hello again, last you all heard I had reread The Mysterious Benedict Society. Well I went on to reread the second book in the MBS series, which was lovely and a nice break from all long and more tedious books I embarked upon. πŸ™‚ After which one of the ladies in my book club recommended a survival book which fit my mood, particularly with all this cold weather we are having. It was a fascinating read; I truly love hearing how people survive rough conditions.

438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea

438 Days An Extraordinary True Story of Survival At Sea

by Jonathan Franklin

Genre – Nonfiction, Survival

Series – No

Rating – PG-13 for infrequent language and drug use

Synopsis –

For most of his life Alvarenga lives on the sea. After leaving El Salvador to come to Mexico, he finds a place there. He works hard as a shark fisherman and usually brings in quite the catch. In November Alvarenga and a novice fisherman named Cordoba head out to hit a particular spot where the fish are biting. While there a storm comes in and wreaks havoc on their expedition. They try to head back to shore, but loss their anchor and have engine trouble. This is a true story of how these men fight to survive in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

My Thoughts –

Throughout most of this book, I became enthralled with Alvarenga’s journey. I’d never heard his story before and became sucked into the world of fishing. The whole fishing industry situation in Mexico was sad. I mean these fisherman get paid pittance compared to what the actual fish cost.

In all honestly, I probably would not have survived what he went through. I am a picky eater and would not have been able to eat birds. I mean he ate the whole bird bones, feathers and all. Also, shark skin. He literally did whatever he could and ate anything that came his way. It boggles my mind that he spent that year on just a tiny boat with no covering. With most of his time being spent in an icebox!! It would be interesting to see where Alvarenga is at today and if he ever found help for his back pain.

Both Alvarenga and Cordoba sound like interesting men. Kinda surprised how big the drug industry was even for poor fisherman. I could connect with Cordoba’s fear and anxiety during the first storm. Where would that put your state of mind? Being overtaken by a fierce almost hurricane and unable to reach the shore only 20 miles away.

To me there is no doubt in my mind that the Lord was watching over Alvarenga and brought him through this horrible situation. Our bodies are such miraculous things; it truly gives credit to our Creator. It was neat to see Alvarenga turn at least to believing the possibility that there was God out there. I would imagine it would be easy to blame God for this horrible situation and become bitter, but instead the opposite happened and this man softened to the truth.

Content – There is infrequent swearing throughout as well mentions of drug use. We also are told that Alvarenga was quite the ladies man, often dating more then one women. He had a daughter our to wedlock who plays a role in the book as well

Conclusion –

I got to say this truly was an incredible story. The first chapter or so dragged a bit as they gave a lot of back story. However, it picks up and takes you on a wild ride through the Doldrums and the Pacific Ocean. What’s crazy is that this took place only a few years ago. It’s hard to picture places so desolate where there is not a single soul. I’d highly recommend this if you enjoy survival stories!!

Up next – I’m reading Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children. I saw the movie and really loved it so am giving the book a try.

Over to you all! What’s your favorite survival book/movie? Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?

Review for The Mysterious Benedict Society

It me again! Yes, I’m back for another review; two in a one week! What perfect timing! On the eve of Thanksgiving finishing one of my favorite MG books of all time. That is well worth giving thanks! This is a series I grew up loving and as a family we read these together. On one of our vacations, we listened to the audiobook which kept my dad entertained while driving. As kids, my siblings and I even tried to make a movie out of it. Let’s just say we only filmed about 2 scenes worth. πŸ˜‰

Usa Network Fist Bump GIF by Psych

With great pleasure I give you The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society

by Trenton Lee Stewart

Genre – MG fiction & sci-fi

Series – 1st book in the Mysterious Benedict Society series

Rating – PG for mild peril and danger

Synopsis –

Reynie Muldoon lives in an orphanage and despite being bullied for being smart, he enjoys his tutor Miss Perumal. One day while reading the newspaper together, Reynie spies an ad seeking exceptional children. After consulting Miss Perumal, he sets out to complete the test. Throughout these series of tests Reynie finds several things that are odd and make no sense. He eventually is joined by three other children who also passed. Together they are told they must stop a madman from brainwashing the world.

My Thoughts –

What a fun book! I enjoyed it when I was younger and still love it today! That speaks a lot for a book to hold up after all these years. I truly believe anyone would enjoy it! Stewart does a wonderful job creating a world that is similar to our own and with such relatable characters. Before I talk about these fantastic characters, I wanted to mention the mystery. The book is filled with puzzles and riddles. The high arcing one though is who is sending these messages and why. The author build it in such a way as to keep the reader interested and invested in what is happening. Is is a super complex mystery? No, but its done well.

Now, there are four main characters: Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance. Of all the characters on my reread I connected with Reynie the best. He is an average boy, who fears being left alone. You cannot but feel for Reynie and the gang. Being an orphan would be hard. Kate is so upbeat is hard not to like her optimism and charm. Both Sticky and Constance have grit and perseverance that isn’t easily seen. All of them experience normal emotions and yet when push comes to shove, they stand together which I love.

Ever since I first read this, narcolepsy has intrigued me. Its awesome when authors include people with disabilities, especially ones that aren’t discussed as much. I even used narcolepsy as a subject for one of my college papers.

There are so many great themes like teamwork, forgiveness, finding family, and sacrifice. Stewart writes for children, but also teaches life lessons hidden inside. These themes stand out in today’s society where right and wrong are based on how you feel. Also, much of the Emergency feels like what has occurred over the past two years. Who would have thought that a middle-grade book written in 2007 would stay pertinent.

So many great things I could say about this book! I mean Sticky and his parents just makes you want to cry and then go over and give him a hug. Milligan’s story as well! I’m a sucker for amnesia as I’ve mentioned before. Not sure why. Hmm, it is very odd.

I do want to mention that they made this into a TV series on Disney+ which does capture the 50s vibe. Also, the costumes are super cool. I just didn’t care for how they portrayed Reynie or Mr. Benedict. Two key roles to the whole story. I mean Reynie is pronounced similar to Jenny. Even the audiobook had that right. Why did they make it sound like Rainye??And I cannot begin to talk about what they did to S. Q. Pedalian which is sad. Beside all that, it is a decent show, just not quite faithful to the book.

Quotes –

“”Are You A Gifted Child Looking for Special Opportunities?” How odd, he thought. The question was addressed directly to children, not to their parents” (p. 3)

“The Mysterious Benedict Society,” Constance said, rising as she spoke. Then she left the room, apparently convinced that no more discussion was necessary. And, as it turned out, she was right.” (p. 145)

“Yes, he had wanted to convince Mr. Curtain he was working alone, had wanted to take suspicion off the children. He had sacrifice himself for them” (p. 409).

“He held his breath until the message was completed. Remember the white knight. Reynie let out his breath. A long, slow release. He didn’t have to think very hard to know what Mr. Benedict meant by that.” (p. 369)

Conclusion –

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a lovely book where you cannot but love the characters. Of the four in the series, not counting the prequel, this is my favorite! The prequel coming in close second. Which makes me want to go back and reread it as well! I cannot highly recommend it enough!! πŸ™‚

Have you read this series? What are your thoughts? Have a favorite character?

Anna

Review for Lincoln on the Verge

Well folks, I know its been awhile since I have popped on here. Now that the holidays are upon us I am hoping to do more posts. This book was chosen by my book club for our nonfiction pick of the month. I’d never heard of it before reading it. Typically, I steer clear of nonfiction as it just doesn’t grab me. I prefer to escape through fiction and enjoy characters growth inside new worlds. Now, I set a goal for myself that I’d finish this before Thanksgiving. I really didn’t want a weighty book for Thanksgiving break. I can say I accomplished this goal!!

Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington

Lincoln on the Verge Thirteen Days to Washington

by Ted Widmer

Genre – Nonfiction, Historical

Series – No

Rating – PG for mild discussions of slavery and mentions of assassination

Synopsis –

Basically this covers the 13 days Lincoln traveled from Springfield to Washington before his inauguration. We see a bit about his election and just how close the race was. Widmer also discusses how dangerous these few days were for the president-elect. He ends with the impact that Lincoln’s death had on uniting the American people.

My Thoughts –

I’ll be honest. The start of the book was dull and felt like the author had just assembled facts together related to one individual’s election. After the first chapter which introduces us to Lincoln’s plan to meander across America, the author then launches into a whole chapter devoted to railroads and how travel became more accessible to the people. However, one the journey began it did get a bit more interesting. I will say that I learned quite a bit about Lincoln, particularly related to the multiple assassination attempts throughout his journey.

The focus of the book is Lincoln. We don’t really see much of his family life. Widmer uses many quotes from John Hay, who was Lincoln’s assistant secretary. Hay gives inside to Lincoln’s behavior. I was surprised at how melancholy Lincoln seemed throughout his journey to Washington. It it mentioned several times that Lincoln had a feeling that he’d never be back to his home in Springfield. Especially near the end of his life, the author indicates, “That night, as he headed to the theater, he said “good-bye” to Crook instead of the usual “good-night.” (Widmer p. 450). I cannot imagine the weight of being president entails.

This book does portray just how committed Lincoln was to the cause of freedom and following the founding fathers vision for this new country. Throughout the 13 days that Lincoln traveled, he willingly put himself in harms way. He shook thousands of hands and after one evening, his hands became painful. Even just by visiting these states on his path to Washington, Lincoln raised morale and united a nation on the brink of collapse. At one point Lincoln could barely speak and yet he still gave a speech.

Now, the author doesn’t mention it, but to me it felt that the Lord played a big part in protection Lincoln. He had many close calls even from his own fans. In one instance a cannonball hit the train and shattered a window close to the Lincoln family. Throughout his travels, Lincoln was up close and personal with crowds of people and very readily someone could have taken a shot at him. Without Lincoln, who knows where our country would be today. My opinion of Lincoln has definitely increased.

I have one complaint that bugged me quite a bit. Widmer repeated himself a lot. He truly nailed down how homely and tall Lincoln was. It got very repetitive! Same with the different cities Lincoln visited. The author rehashed the same thoughts – big crowds, speeches, late nights, and how tired Lincoln was throughout it all. I get the point. Being a president is tiresome and hard work, I just wish that the author could have written it a different way.

Conclusion –

Lincoln on the Verge is long and at times tedious. However, it is very informative about this small section of Lincoln’s life. I learned more then I had anticipated I would. If you enjoy American history or look up to Abraham Lincoln, this gives an interesting look at this famous man’s travel to become president.

Up next – I’m rereading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. After all these long books recently, I need something lighthearted! πŸ˜‰

How about you? What books are you reading this November? Do you enjoy history?

Anna

Review for The Way of Kings

Well folks, after finishing the Way of Kings, I had a lot of thoughts and cannot wait to share them. Just an FYI, this was the first Sanderson book that I’ve read. His name has popped up a few times around the blogosphere, but honestly, I don’t remember why I wanted to read this in the first place. Oh, well!

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Genre – Fantasy

Series – 1st in The Stormlight Archive

Rating – PG-13 for battles, death, & murder

Synopsis –

The world of Roshar is under attack and has been for many years. But when the Knights Radiants disappear leaving behind their Shardblades, the peoples across Roshar are left to bicker and fight amongst themselves over the mighty swords. Leaving an opening for evil to creep in. Kaladin is a slave who had been a leader in Amaram’s army. After performing a good deed, he is sold into slavery. Destitute and abandoned by the man he thought was honorable, turns Kaladin into a bitter and depressed man. Yet, there is a slim hope that he might one day be able to escape. Meanwhile the Brightlord Dalinar Kholin, the right-hand man to the king, is thinking of doing the unthinkable, uniting Alethkar and ending the war with the Parshendi.

My Thoughts –

Whew, let me just say, The Way of Kings is long and very different from what I had anticipated. if that synopsis wasn’t confusing enough, the first part of the book, jumps around so much that I got lost. Thankfully, after the first 100 pages or so, we got to rotate between two characters which helped immensely. I feel like Sanderson could have rewritten the the prologues as they gave me more questions then answers. They didn’t connect well with the rest of the book, except a little bit towards the end. I did get frustrated at times that each chapter would shift between characters. I really just wanted to stick to Kaladin’s story line.

Now, I will say Sanderson does a decent job word building. He has created a complex system with everything from giant snails to a religion. In his world the people lighteyes are in control or the ones who can be commanders and kings. The darkeyes serve them. He also created an interesting weapon – the Shardblade which is different then any sword as it cannot cut a living being, but burns them from the inside out.

There are two characters that held my attention and who I really liked! Kaladin and Dalinar grew as characters and became men of leadership which was super cool to see. Of the two, Kaladin’s story drew me in from his first segment.

Playing Star Wars GIF by MOODMAN

The way he unites Bridge Four from men literally sent to die to trained spear-men was fantastic!! They are like a big family! Also, Rock’s stew. πŸ™‚

Also, Syl, the spren, was a neat friend who kinda woke up Kaladin to the truth. I couldn’t help smiling when Teft or Rock started coming out of their shell and pledged their loyalty to Kaladin. Then their whole rescue mission! Yeah, that is what I like to see in a fantasy novel. It took me a while to like Dalinar, but he held staunchly to his beliefs and truly wanted to do what was right. His visions were interesting, but didn’t like the explanation for them. However, Sanderson, did a marvelous job portraying leadership and the pitfalls and trials going with it.

Shallan was kinda boring. Very similar to all the other female fantasy tropes, untrained, is seeking a secret to save her family, which leads her to major self-discovery moment. To me she didn’t really develop during her stay with Jasnah. Szeth was an odd character, I felt pity for him and yet committed atrocities. I don’t know. Sanderson let this character unfinished in my opinion. I’m also not sure what to make of the Parshendi. Are they good? Does this war get dragged out across multiple novels?

The use of Stormlight was unique and cool. Especially as it manifested itself in Kaladin’s life. The way he is able to draw in light and increase speed or draw objects toward himself – very Thor like. I would love to see Kaladin and Szeth have a showdown and I am pretty sure that it will happen possibly in book 2.

Quotes:

“The things others have always seem better than what you have,” his mother said.” (P. 363).

“A life is priceless,” he said immediately, quoting his father. Dalinar smiled, wrinkle lines extending from the corners of his eyes. “Coincidentally, that is the exact value of a Shardblade. So today you and your men sacrificed to buy me twenty-six hundred priceless lives. And all I had to repay you with was a single priceless sword” (p. 957).

“Teft rolled his sphere between his fingers again, holding it up and staring into the depths. “Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination” (p. 831)

“It was amazing. Months ago, Moash – along with the others – had eagerly placed the new or the weak at the front of the bridge crew to catch arrows. Now to a man, they volunteered for the most dangerous jobs” (p. 880).

Content- Throughout there are a few choice words. It is insinuated that Navani never loved Gavilar, her now deceased husband. Lots and lots of battles. I do feel like Sanderson leans toward too many descriptive battles. Many innocent people die, especially whenever Szeth enters the scene.

Conclusion – I really did like The Way of Kings! So, many unique elements and let’s be honest without Kaladin, I probably wouldn’t have finished. He added so much! There were some stuff that didn’t quite sit well, particularly Vorinism.

Have you read The Way of Kings? Should I continue this series? Who is your favorite character?

Look forward to hearing from you!

Anna