Shows I’ve been watching!

happy usa network GIF by Psych

Well, fellow book lovers, I’m back. It been while and I wanted to say hello and pop on. Its time for me rave and rant about some newfound shows I’ve been watching. 😉 Since I’ve been feeling under the weather recently, I figured lets talk about shows!! My reading has slowed down quite a bit sadly, life likes to keep you on your toes. I’ll start with the more family-friendly options.

Anyway, let’s begin!

~The Mysterious Benedict Society

Genre – Mystery, Adventure, Children

Rating PG for peril

Thoughts –

This book series is one I grew up on and loved wholeheartedly. This kids are so dear to my heart and when I heard they were making a series, I was pumped. Still waiting to watch the last episode. Overall I have been impressed with how well they’ve kept the story intact. Have they changed things? Yes! Have I gotten annoyed? Yes! But if you want something that a fun family friendly mystery this is it!

Likes – First, the costumes are fantastic. The creators set the story in the 5o’s which I think fits quite well with the author’s writing style. The colors are vibrant and pop in the murkiness of the emergency. Plus, Kate’s bucket is spot on!! I do wish they had given her blonde hair and ponytail though. The actors for Reynard Muldoon and Sticky Washington fit so well with how I had envisioned them. Mulligan is hilarious and spot on as well. The Institute has manicured paths that must be kept to. Lastly, the Whisperer! If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about.

Dislikes – A big one for me is Mr. Benedict. Yes, they occasionally show is narcolepsy which I love!! But they’ve changed a few aspects about his character which bug me. In the book, Mr. Benedict was the epitome of calmness and courage. Yet, the series likes to show his craziness and worry. Also, they cut off Mr. Curtain having narcolepsy, which makes no sense. I really wanted to see Mr. Curtain speeding though the hallways on his wheelchair. Ah well! Also not sure why they killed off Sticky’s parents??? Like how does that add anything?? A little miffed they didn’t put the poison scene in, that was one of the best parts and the show didn’t even use it.

I’m starting to get too picky!! Moving on!

Loki

Genre – Superheroes, Villain, Time Travel, Adventure

Rating – TV14 for language and violence

Thoughts –

Of the three Marvel series out so far, this one is my favorite!! All three shows are vastly different, but Loki almost doesn’t even feel like Marvel. Do they mess with his whole character development and death, yep, they do. However we get to see a side of Loki that we haven’t seen before, a softer and kinder side. Albeit at the expense of Loki’s other characteristics. We get to see him learn some valuable lessons like trust, sacrifice, and helping others reach a goal.

Likes – Time travel! Yeah, after Lost, I love finding a well done time travel story line. Mobius! Who knew we needed Owen Wilson in the MCU, but he fits his character so well! Jet skiing! 😉 Sylvie is complicated. You dislike her desire to overthrow anything and everything in her path that remotely relates to to the TVA, but as you find out her reasons, she does grow on you. I’m still not sure what I think of the romance!? I mean technically they are both Loki’s so not sure how that will work out, but at the same time, Sylvie and Loki are different.

Dislikes – Not much to dislike here, the show can be odd, complex, and dark at times. At times the pacing felt off and slow. The time keeper at the end left more questions then answers and I cannot understand where he fits in MCU. There was some language, but I don’t remember anything blatant.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Genre – Cops, Humor, Drama

Rating – TV14 for crude jokes, language, & innuendo

Thoughts –

I’ve seen this show pop up a lot and several people I know have compared to Psych and Parks & Rec. Now, I’m only in season 2, but so far I like it. Its goofy and funny. Jake is soo similar to Shawn, except he is an actual cop who loves catching bad guys and cracks jokes as he does it. I don’t agree with some of the things the show stands for, but it makes for a fun show about a precinct that turns into a family. I’ll be honest, this show makes me laugh, hard!

celebrate hell yeah GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Likes – Boyle! Jake! Terry, and of course Rosa! All these characters have their quirks and idiosyncrasies, but they are also lovable. Amy is sweet, but a bit over the top for my taste. I love the way Jake is so willing to step in and help a friend in need, even if its wedding planning. 😉 Terry puts his wife and kids first and truly wants what is best for them. Boyle is clumsy and nerdy, which I relate to, and needs a big hug. Even the captain has wisdom to share with his crew on occasion.

Dislikes

Gina – there are times when I want to like her, and then she does something. I think part of it is her work ethic. I cannot imagine, spending work time to primp and do make-up. Crass Humor – so yeah, its in there, mostly from Jake, Gina, and occasionally Rosa. We hear talk of who is doing who or who likes who quite a bit. Also, the Captain is gay, so they reference his husband. Its sad that this has become the normal on shows these days.

And the final one

Lupin!

Lupin

Genre – Mystery, Heist, Revenge

Rating – MA for strong language and suicide

Thoughts –

A good friend of mine told me about Lupin and absolutely loved it. She compared it to Sherlock, one of my top 5 favorite shows, so I figured why not give it a try. Lupin tells the story of Assane Diop a gentleman thief who is seeking to restore his father’s tarnished name. To do so he must take down a tricky and sneaky man named Hubert Pellegrini.

Likes – Assane is a conflicted hero, he steals from the rich and performs these incredible heists, but he is in turmoil over his dad being framed for a crime he didn’t commit and then dying shortly after. Also, Assane has a best friend named Benjamin who helps him along. I love their interactions and friendship; they’ve know each other since childhood. We also meet Assane’s family- ex-wife Claire and son Raoul. For each heist or con, we see it from how it appears to go down, and then we get the behind-the-scenes glimpse into how Assane pulled them off, which I love!! We do see that despite his vendetta against Pellegrini, Assane loves his family and wants to keep them safe.

Mona Lisa Lupin GIF by NETFLIX

Dislikes – Really, I only have one, the language. The first part has a lot!! You don’t need to use foul language to get your point across constantly. However, by the second part, it was much better. Also, there is violence thrown in, we see an suicide which as well as a kidnapping.

Conclusion –

So these are some of the shows I’ve been watching and enjoying! Almost all of these have characters growing or changing. We see villains save the world by willingly sacrificing something. We see kids being courageous and standing firm in the midst of a wave of danger. And a son who so wants to right the wrongs done in his past, that he loses a bit of himself as he faces his enemy. These are just a few things that stuck out to me!

Now over to you! Have you seen any of these shows? Do you have a favorite character? What have you been watching lately? Can’t wait to hear from you!

Anna

Review for The Help

Well, folks I’m back for another post! I’ve just finished reading The Help which tickled my funny bone. Some books you have to make yourself finish. Thankfully this was not the case. I took it to work to read during nap time and would force myself to stop to get things done.

colin morgan smile GIF by BBC

Let’s get to the good stuff shall we! 😉

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Genre – Historical fiction

Series – No

Rating – PG-13 for tense situations and language

Age Range – Older Teen or Adult

Synopsis –

Aibileen’s son died several years ago which leaves a hole in her heart. She has been working as a maid for most of her life. As she cares for Miss Leefolt’s two-year old daughter Mae Mobley, Aibileen becomes attached the the child and tries to impart some wisdom to her. Aibileen’s friend Minny struggles to hold her tongue while working and is seeking a job after being fired. Then there is Eguenia Phelan or Skeeter. Skeeter has two goals in life: become an author and find out what happened to her family maid Constantine. These three women come together to make a difference in their town of Jackson, Mississippi.

My Thoughts –

A while back I saw The Help with my sister. We both enjoyed the movie and quoted it from time to time, but I didn’t really think about reading the book. Then a few months later, I was out garage saling and saw it sitting there on a table. I bought it thinking it would make for a good summer read. And now I finally got around to actually reading it.

We hear the story from three alternating perspectives – Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. At first, I just wanted to hear Aibileen’s story as it was captivating hearing about what her life was like serving a white family. However, as the book moved along, I grew to appreciate all three of the ladies. Minny’s sections were thought provoking as well as humorous. The author did a great job giving each of the ladies a distinctive voice that flowed through the book. These three lives intersect and change. I loved the phone conversations and meeting these three had.

Stockett builds a colorful picture of what Jackson Mississippi would have looked like in the 1960’s. To me it felt like the author had done her research and really brought Jackson to life.

you is kind the help GIF

Personally, Aibileen was my favorite. From working with kids, I appreciated all the work Aibileen went through potty training Mae Mobley. I loved seeing her prayer life as well and how writing her prayers was a way for her to keep practicing what she learned in school. She has a list of people that she prays for every night. Aibileen may be quite, but she has a brave heart and is a good friend to Minny.

Ceila Foote surprised me! I really rooted for her and her husband. Despite her gaudy outfits and ignorance about certain things, she stands up for Minny and has a great love for her husband. The whole bathroom scene was touching.

As a novel, this book makes for a fun read. It isn’t flashy, instead more down to earth. Now, I highly doubt this sort of thing would have ever happened. Especially in the ’60s and I’m no expert. I just cannot see maids actually spilling these stories out to Skeeter.

Quotes –

“Bouncing her on my hip to get the gas moving and it didn’t take two minutes fore Baby Girl stopped her crying, got to smiling up at me like she do.” (p. 1).

“”Miss Celia . . .” I shake my head, not believing I’m already arguing with this lady and I haven’t worked here two minutes.” (p.

“Sure, I dreamed of having football dates, but my real dream was that one day I would write something that people would actually read.” (p.69).

“She hugs me around the neck, say “you’re righter than Miss Taylor. I tear up then. My cup is spilling over.” (p. 461).

Language – There is some swearing throughout as well as some instances of using the Lord’s name in vain.

Violence – We hear how the employer treated Aibileen’s dead son. As well as how a character becomes blind. We see how the police treat the black community during that time. There is also several mentions of domestic violence.

Innuendo – There are rumors about a character having gotten pregnant out of wedlock.

Conclusion –

I really liked this book, liked the characters, the storytelling, and the setting. This book has been out for while now and people seem to either hate or love it. For me I loved it! Much of the book takes places in the summer which was very fitting. It different and at times sad to hear some of the ladies stories, but the author does it in an engaging way. All I can say is that I’d recommend it! 🙂

Up Next – I will be starting Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Cannot wait to hear from you!! What book are you reading? Do you like historical fiction? Have you read/watched The Help? What are your thoughts?

Anna

The Martian VS Project Hail Mary

Hello fellow bloggers!

I know its been awhile since I’ve popped on here, but I am hoping to get back into the groove of posting. Life has picked up the last few months. Got a new job which has been keeping me busy. Has also led to slow down in my reading. After The Scoripo Races, which left a bad taste in my mouth, I stumbled upon some fun science fiction!! I’ve talked about my love for sci-fi in the past; it is one of my go to genres. Some of the ladies in my book club suggested The Martian which I read over vacation. Then I saw the author had a new book about an astronaut with amnesia. Books with amnesia have always fascinated me going back to The Black Stallion Revolts. 😉

So with that long preamble I am going review and lay out my thoughts on these two books Enjoy!!

I’ll start with The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir

Genre – Science fiction, Survival

Series – No

Rating – R- for Strong frequent language

Age Range – Adult

Synopsis –

After waking up to a low oxygen warning, Mark Watney realizes he is stranded alone on Mars. His crew believes him to be dead and reports back to NASA what had occurred. Watney begins adapting the HAB, a station built by the crew, and conserving food. He was the crew’s botanist and engineer and uses these skills to try to stay alive; doing everything from growing plants, exploding stuff, and retrieving a radioactive heater. Once NASA realizes they’ve made a mistake, they endeavor to save Watney.

My Thoughts –

First, I knew the premise from watching the movie. I love the movie!! Its well done and feels so realistic. Plus, Matt Damon does a great job as Watney! It had been a few years since I had watched it though, so it gave me a chance to come to the book with fresh eyes. I love the originality of the book. Sending a crew to Mars that goes disastrously wrong and getting to see how someone might survive that circumstance. I liked The Martian quite a bit. Watney can be hilarious. He is much more of a wise-crack in the book more so then in the movie.

The majority of the book is told through Watney’s eyes with sections switching to NASA. I preferred the sections with Watney, some of the people at NASA got on my nerves at times.

Pretty much everything goes wrong, and we see Watney try to resolve the crises using lots of math and science. Some of the math stuff was super complicated, but made an intriguing read. It was the sort of book you don’t want to put down so you can see what will happen.

Content – Yeah, there is lots and lots of language here. Watney uses it frequently as well as the crew at NASA. Which was annoying, but the story held my interest so I kept reading. The only other thing was Watney was injured in his side by an antenna which isn’t really discussed much in the book.

Now over to Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Science Fiction, Dystopian

Series – No

Rating – PG-13 for occasional language and peril

Age Range – Adult

Synopsis – Grace Ryland wakes up strapped to a bed and unable to remember his own name. A machine feeds him and provides medical attention. Upon escaping the mechanical machine’s arms. He explores his surroundings. Ryland realizes he is on a spaceship hurling through space with two dead astronauts for companions. Ryland has no clue why he is traveling through space. The only clues he has are a few vague memories. How will Ryland survive?

My Thoughts –

I loved that we got to slowly figure out what was going on with Ryland. It was a great tactic! The whole amnesia in space was awesome as well! I know I would totally freak out if I woke up in the middle of another solar system with no clue how I got there. Plus, I got to say Rocky was the best side kick!! I am trying not to give anything away, but he takes the story to another level. Ending kinda reminded me of Interstellar and Ender’s Game. There is some crazy manipulation going on that isn’t quite the level of forcing kids into military training, but its close.

We have some similar elements of a guy stranded and trying to survive, but Ryland is a junior high science teacher. Which I loved!! So he uses Chemistry and Physics at time, but I liked Ryland as a character better then Watney. Plus loved the conversations with Rocky. Which we didn’t really get in The Martian, most of focus was on saving Watney no real character development. And you know I like my character development. The author does a great job giving you a villain to dislike. Some of the sections with Stratt got a little repetitive and boring at times, and I kept saying, “Let’s move on.”

I liked the moral questions Project Hail Mary asks. What would you do if all of humanity rests on your shoulders? How would you handle the stress of being alone?

*Spoiler Alert* – There is a scene with Ryland trying to clean and save Rocky where he uses air pump that had me laughing out loud.

Also the ending guys! Isn’t what I was expecting at all! But I like it, it different and unique. Anybody else see a resemblance to Ender’s Game?

Content – There were a few choice words said, however much cleaner then The Martian. Not much to say here, except some people thought Stratt and Ryland were a thing, which they were not.

Conclusion –

So far I would describe my 2021 book genres as Classics and Science Fiction centered. Both of these books were perfect summer reads! Light and fun! I liked Project Hail Mary a bit more though. It had lots of surprises and things to think about.

That’s all I got for now!

How is your summer going? Have any favorite sci-fi books? Have you read either of these books?

Up Next – I’m finishing up Where the Crawdads Sing then starting The Help

Anna

Review for Les Miserables

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Genre – Historical Fiction, Classic

Series – No

Rating – PG-13 for death & some mild innuendo

Age Range – Adult

Synopsis –

This epic weaves many characters together to tell the story of the underdogs, the oppressed people struggling to survive in France in the early 1800’s. We start with Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who has just been released on parole. No one will offer him work due to his criminal past. Until the Bishop of Digne, Charles Myriel gives him supper and a bed for the night. Jean Valjean attempts to steal from Myriel, but the Bishop offers forgiveness and new life instead. Meanwhile Javert was an officer at the prison where Jean Valjean spent his 19 years and has been looking for him since. Javert holds his job above everything else in life. Then there is Fantine; who is destitute and at her wits end to provide for her daughter Cosette. She pays the Thenardiers to look after Cosette, but they scam Fantine for all she is worth, raising the price beyond what she can bear. Marius is a dreamer at heart. Once he realizes just how noble his father was, he leaves the safety of his grandfather’s house to find his own path in life. Fantine, Jean Valjean, Javert, Marius, & Cosette’s lives weave together to form an unforgettable story of redemption.

My Thoughts –

Well, this book holds a fascinating story. I do love the musical and movie versions of this book, but the book goes deeper and truly fleshes out the characters. At the start of the year, I saw that a blogger had decided to read two classic French books in a year – The Count of Monte Cristo & Les Miserables. I had read an abridged version of Les Miserables years ago and thought this should be the year when I actually read the whole thing. I had some time on my hands so went for it. I’m glad I did!! Was there tediously boring parts? Yes, several that didn’t even affect the story much. Plus Hugo is wordy guy! He loves taking pages to cover something that probably needed only a few sentences. At times it was slow going. Beware if you haven’t read the book or at least know the story, there will be *spoilers ahead.*

My Fair Lady movie review & film summary (1994) | Roger Ebert

Despite all this, I did it! I did it! Mentally singing the My Fair Lady song. 😉

There are so many characters woven throughout the novel, some play minor roles and are only in a small percentage of the book. So, I’m just going to mention some of my favorites. First, Jean Valjean. His developmental arc is amazing!! His story is heartbreaking, and shows how much prison can change a person. His transformation into Monsieur Madeleine is unique in that he does it to keep his vow. He uses the money he made to impact and support the town of Montreuil-sur-mer. He builds workhouses to create jobs. But all it takes is one event to bring that crashing down. I loved that Hugo gave us a look into Valjean’s mind and the turmoil he goes through. Love and forgiveness can truly impact a person’s life.

Next, I was surprised at how much I liked Marius in the book. Hugo gives him a bit more backbone as opposed to some of the movies where he is a bit wishy-washy. His love for Cosette is sweet and innocent. I mean they go a whole year without having said one word to each other and just seeing other from a distance. I got frustrated with his constant endeavor to repay the man who saved his father’s life despite knowing that Thenardier is a scoundrel.

There are two minor characters that I loved as well – Gavroche and Enjolras. Gavroche is the forgotten son of Madame Thenardier. He lives on the street, but has generally happy attitude. Unbeknownst to him, he gives his brothers a safe night . While helping at the barricade, Gavroche sacrifices himself to retrieve ammo. Enjolras on the other hand was rich leader of the ABC society. He sought justice and liberty for the people and yet was aloof and distant from his comrades. I found him intriguing and a bit odd.

Although Hugo can be a long-winded writer, he does know how to draw the reader in to the character’s lives. The sections that revolved around plot I enjoyed quite a bit, it was the parts in between that could drag on forever. I kept wanting Hugo to make his point already. He covers everything from politics to his views on religion, and the sewer system as well as the whole battle of Waterloo.

However I do this is a book that everyone should read once in their lifetime. Jean Valjean’s story alone is worth the 1,200 pages. I teared up at the when when Marius realized just how wrong he was about him. Its an expansive story that covers a lot of territory. It took Hugo more then 20 years to write it and it shows. He gives you quite a bit to think about.

Quotes –

“Jean Valjean, my bother, you no longer belong to what is evil but to what is good. I have bought your soul to save it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God” ( p. 11).

“Or so she believes, but it is an error to suppose that we can ever exhaust Fate or reach the end of anything . . . He who knows the answer to this knows all things. He is alone. His name is God” (p. 180).

“And he blesses God for having bestowed on him those two riches which the rich so often lack – work which makes a man free, and thought, which makes him worthy of freedom” ( p. 591).

“And then she wholeheartedly loved her father – that is to say, Jean Valjean- with an innocent, confiding love which mad of him the most charming and desirable of companions” (p. 767).

“and he thanked God from the depths of his heart for having caused him, unworthy wretch that he was, to be so loved by a creature so innocent” (p.769).

Language – Roughly 6 uses of mild language, mostly used by author in his meandering,

Violence – We get a look at what it is like to live in the prison at Toulon and it is a sad how the prisoners were treated. Valjean goes on the run several times running away from Javert. In one instance he is captured by the Thenardiers and beaten. A man seeing Fantine, puts snow down her dress which leads to her becoming very sick. Fantine dies from hearing words that devastate her. Hugo mentions how soldiers died at Waterloo and were piled up. At the barricade, all the combatants die terrible deaths. Eponine dies in an effort to save Marius’s life. Marius believes that Valjean kills Javert, finds out later this is untrue. Javert commits suicide.

Innuendo – So, we get a brief look at Fantine’s life before she moves with Cosette. She falls in love with Tholomyes a poet and she is thinking of marriage. Unfortunately he leaves her in the lurch with a child. Later on, it is mentioned that, as a last resort, Fantine becomes a prostitute to make ends meet. No details, but it is mentioned a several times throughout the book.

Conclusion –

Les Miserables is one of my favorite musicals and I’m glad I read this giant book. Although, actually its exactly the same length as The Count of Monte Cristo, go figure. The story takes dark turns at times and it can be depressing just how far some of the characters go. Yet, it is not all dark, there are moments of self-sacrifice, forgiveness, and love. Even Javert begins to realize that people can change. Is it a commitment? Yes, you will have to set aside time to delve into this classic. However it is worth wading into.

Have you heard of Les Mis or read an adaption? Do you have a favorite song from the musical? Looking forward to hearing from you!!

Up Next – It is finally beginning to feel like summer and I’m in the mood for some lighter reading. I am starting The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

Anna

Review of The Normal Christian Life

The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee

Genre – Nonfiction, Christian

Series – No

Rating – G – Aimed at adults

Synopsis –

Nee walks us through different aspects in a Christian’s life with his focus being on the book of Romans. He dives into just how much the the blood and the Cross did for us as well as going from knowing to reckoning what Christ did. He includes a few stories from his own life to help elucidate certain points. His goal is that we would be wasted for the Lord.

My Thoughts –

It has taken me 5 months to slowly read though this book. Normally I don’t take that long, but I read this one chapter maybe every 2 weeks. To start, a lady at my church began a women’s study through this book back in December. So I began reading it then. Also, I don’t read much nonfiction especially related to Christian living. Many of the modern Christian living books have some interesting beliefs thrown in so I tend to steer clear. Before that I had never even heard of this book, but what a deep and engaging book it turned out it be!

Nee starts off discussing the blood of Christ and why we need it. “We need forgiveness for the sins we have committed, lest we come under judgment; and they are forgiven, not because God overlooks what we have done but because he sees the Blood.” (p. 7). He then goes though Romans 6, 7, & 8 discussing 4 conditions: Knowing, Reckoning, Presenting ourselves to God, & Walking in the Spirit.

Nee really drives home how we died with Christ and I found this section eye opening as I hadn’t really thought of that verse in this way. He references Romans 6:6,8 and delves into how can you know, “whereas you were crucified on the selfsame cross a he, for you were in him when he died. How can you know? You can know for the one sufficient reason that God has said so.” (p.45). He brings it home by discussing the first Adam and how Christ was the last Adam.

Quotes:

“Grace means that God does something for me; law means I do something for God” ( p. 156)

“deliverance from the law implies that he exempts me from doing it, and that in grace he does it himself.” ( p. 156).

“Having at last reached the point of utter despair in ourselves so that we cease even to try, we put our trust in the Lord to manifest his resurrection life in us.” (p. 166).

“As long as we are trying to do anything, he can do nothing. It is because of our trying that we fail and fail and fail. ” (p. 167).

Conclusion –

Nee goes deep into several chapters in Romans as well Genesis. He raised up several points that led me to think about where I stood in my walk with Christ. I loved that he used Scripture to support Scripture. A good book to read slowly, and not rush though. I’d highly recommend it!

Up Next – I started Les Miserables and am about half way though. So will be working on that. Hoping to finish in about a week.

Over to you what have you been reading lately? Have any favorite nonfiction? Have you read this book?

Anna

Review for Beowolf

Beowolf

Author unknown, translated by Seamus Heaney

Genre – Medieval Epic, Fiction, Poem

Series – No

Rating – PG- for battles with monsters

Age Range – Adult

Synopsis –

We are given a glimpse into the history of two nations: the Geats, & the Danes. The Danish kingdom is under attack by a monster named Grendel. Their plight has been spread far and wide. King Hrothgar cannot protect his people. A noble Geat warrior comes to lend a hand to Hrothgar. Hrothgar welcomes him to Denmark and tells him of monster. His name, Beowolf. He proceeds to battle the beast with his bare hands. Will Beowolf be able to conquer Grendel?

My Thoughts –

I went into this book with a little trepidation as as I knew it was a poem and lengthy. However, Beowolf surprised me! I had heard the gist of the story though a podcast I listen to called Myths & Legends. The book goes into greater detail behind the history of these two nations as well as some back story into the Swedes. You get three epic battles that Beowolf fights.

There are many heroic characters in this tale, although this is definitely more action led with fictional history thrown in. So we don’t really see any character development per say, but we get to know them a little. First, Hrothgar, King of the Danes and son of Halfdane. He is noble and goes from the frying pan into the fire. Hrothgar is an honest man and keeps his word. He is only man still sitting in his mead hall after Grendel’s nightly attacks. Then we get Beowolf who is an extraordinary warrior and above the average man. Yet, humble. I liked Beowolf quite a bit. We spend most of the book following him as he is the hero. Lastly, King Hygelac, King of the Geats. He is a bit more reserved. He didn’t send Beowolf and actually told him not to go assist the Danes. I didn’t really care for him, but he wasn’t really a bad character.

The plot revolves around the three fights: Grendel, His mother, and the dragon. Lots of fairy tales and legends revolve around sets of threes. Of the three fights, I personally found the fight with Grendel’s mom the most interesting.

confused where are we GIF

Although really, how could a person swim underwater for half a day?? It just seemed a little absurd to me!

The dragon fight was cool too. Very Tolkienesque. I mean Tolkien did do a translation of Beowolf so he could have taken the idea of battling dragons and hidden gold. I know Tolkien was influenced by the Tale of the Volsungs.

I was surprised at how much Christianity impacted the author. There are many times where the characters prasise God or mentions creation. There is a great line about how the Almighty placed the stars. I’ll put it below. All of stories comes from the OT. No mentions of Jesus or the cross.

Quotes –

“The leader of the troop unlocked his word-hoard; the distinguished one delivered his answer” (p. 19) – this line had me laughing.

“. . .in his splendour He set the sun and the moon to be earth’s lamplight, lanterns for men” ( p. 9).

“May one so valiant and venturesome come unharmed through the clash of battle” (p. 21)

Language – None

Violence – Nothing graphic or gratuitous. Beowolf wrestles with Grendel and somehow pops his arms off. Grendel kills many Danes. His mom eats someone and beats up Beowolf. The dragon pillages and burns villages. He mortally wounds Beowolf.

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

Beowolf is a fascinating story filled withe feasts, battles, and wars fought. It is similar to Sir Gwain and the Green Knight. Both are poems that depict heroes. Also its shorter then I had expected. Half of my copy was in Old English so really only a little over 100 pages. More readable then I had imagined, but not something I will be rereading over and over. Did I like it? Well, I really liked sections of it.

Up Next – After Beowolf, I just finished Watcher by A. J. Everly. Now I think I’m going to give Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater a try.

Over to you guys: Have you read Beowolf? Have any favorite legends?

Anna

Review for I, Robot

I, Robot (Robot, #0.1)

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Genre – Science fiction, Futuristic,

Series – 1st book in the Robot series

Age Range – Adult

Rating – PG for mild language

Synopsis –

To start, this is a collection of short stories about how robots become progressively smarter then humans & just how do humans fit in this technological world. It’s seen through the lens of Dr. Susan Calvin who specializes in robot sciences. She is looking back at her life and is telling a reporter various incidents that either sparked better robots or led to their demise.

My Thoughts –

Well, I can now say I read this one. I hadn’t really read any science fiction with robots in it before, so I, Robot was my first. It was shorter then I had imagined, but fit the way the author wrote it. Each chapter focuses on a different robot and there are really only a few characters that routinely pop in and out.

Of the few characters that are in there, I really only somewhat liked Greg Powell & Mike Donovan. They had some humor to the few stories they are in. They make quite the duo. When trying to figure out what is wrong with Speedy, a robot to help them collect materials on Mars, they brainstorm different ideas. Eventually doing a sneaky approach to the 3 Robot laws to get Speedy back. I really didn’t care for Susan Calvin though. Maybe cause, of my worldview, I don’t agree with robots taking over human society and ruling over us. I just got really annoyed with her love for all things robot.

Of the short stories, I have to say the first one with Robbie was one of my favorites. He was a simple non-speaking robots who was a nurse maid to girl named Gloria. She spent a lot of time with him. Loved her dad and his clever plan to get Robbie back.

Despite my disagreement with some of Asimov’s ideas, he was a master storyteller. He knew how to keep the reader interest and wrote in an engaging way. I was surprised that I liked it more then I had thought I would. Each story involves a crisis caused or involving a robot that the characters have to resolve which became more complex as the robots got more upgrades and such.

Quote:

“We have: one, a robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human to come to harm” (p. 37).

Violence – None

Language – Infrequent mild language used by the human characters.

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

Honestly, it was odd, but not horrible. I found it interesting that he gave the robots 3 rules that must be obeyed. Each one revolved around protecting humans or the robot from destruction. Being a Christian, I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the character’s choices and the whole thing against those who don’t trust robots. Kind of scary cause I can see us in the not so distant future using more AI technology.

Side Note – I also finished Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han. A good conclusion to the trilogy.

Up next – I will finish up The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place which I am thoroughly enjoying!!

What have you been reading lately? Happy May!

Anna

Review for Merlin

Merlin by Stephan Lawhead

Genre – Christian, Fantasy, Historical fiction

Series – 2nd book in The Pendragon Cycle

Rating – PG-13 for violent battles

Well folks it took me a wee bit, but just finished Merlin! Let’s just say I really enjoyed this book!! Last summer I read Taliesin which surprised me. You can see my thoughts here – Review for Taliesin

Excited Season 2 GIF by The Office

As I’ve talked about before, legends, particularly Robin Hood and Arthur, are really intriguing and speak to me. I love the quests and adventures and how that changes them. Recently, I’ve been in the mood to continue this series. Overall, I liked Merlin more then Taliesin. Being able to hear his thoughts helped a lot!

Synopsis –

Merlin was born to two parents of noble lineage. His mom Charis, a lost princess of Atlantis who came to Britain seeking refuge. She married Taliesin a Bard who became a king to his people. Because of this, Merlin was well taught in everything from sword craft to the art of a Bard. Hafgan and Dyfed, and Blaise teach the young lad everything they know. Especially when it comes to Jesu who is The Great Light. In his 12th year Merlin is captured by Hill folk and separated from all he holds dear. What will he do? Will he find his purpose in life?

My Thoughts –

So far this series has taken a different take on the Arthurian legends. It has more Celtic roots with a dash of fantasy thrown in for good measure. To me the characters in Merlin were an upgrade. We can see their thoughts and what drives them. Plus, I liked Charis as a person, she felt more down to earth and humble. Ygerna is another strong female character. Call me weird, but I did not care for Ganieda. She felt flat. Now Dyfed was fascinating. I loved seeing the shift from being a Druid to Christianity. Dyfed really stood up for the truth and had an impact on Merlin’s life.

I really enjoyed getting to see a young Merlin. So often we see the tail end of his life with setting up Arthur. The only other place I’ve seen him young is in show The Adventures of Merlin which I love!! His path in life wondered a bit, which seemed realistic to me. He honestly had no clue what to do with his life. Although I was kinda surprised Lawhead made him a king. I loved the qualities that he gave Merlin, of being an upright and truthful young man.

For this particular book the plot meandered and was a slow burn. I truly didn’t mind that when you did have action it moved along quickly. The whole battle in slow motion was cool reminded me of Alistair Coldhollow’s ability from The Mydrian Constellation series. Personally, I loved the Celtic angle with all the kings of their own slice of land and then seeing the progression to having one British High King. There were times when I wanted the plot to move closer to the legend, but I got used to it.

Lawhead did something unique and almost entirely removed magic from the tale. Instead Merlin has visions, does miracles, along with a slow-mo fighting ability. There is a small dose of magic with the Hill Folk, but its not the spell or incantation kind. I didn’t really like the Fhain/Hill folk, but they valued their children more then gold which was neat. Also, we see Druid beliefs and how Christianity impacts and changes the Druid ways.

Overall there are many Christian themes and beliefs woven throughout. Several of the characters follow Jesu or Christus as they call him. We hear some of Merlin’s prayers as he asks for guidance. Several of the Druids convert to Christianity and they become priests and Bishops. We hear the gospel preached at a service.

I wanted to add a new section for favorite quotes:

“Wisdom will be given when wisdom is required, courage when courage is required. All things are given in their season” (p. 35).

“The body knows it is dust, and will return to dust in the end, and it grieves for itself. The spirit, however knows itself to be eternal and glories in this knowledge” (p. 134).

“Darkness has no power over light, and no power on earth can move me if I do not wish to be moved” (p. 259).

Language – Occasional uses of a certain word although typically used in its proper form. Also, a demon swears.

Violence – There are only a handful of battles, but one in particular got a bit gruesome. There is a surprise ambush and only a small force to defend the land. Ganieda is violently killed with multiple stab wounds and they killed her unborn baby and see a blue finger sticking out. Merlin then goes on killing spree and kills many Saecsen barbarians. We are told bodies lie all around and the river turned crimson. Later on, a few characters are poisoned and killed.

Innuendo – Merlin and Ganieda get married. They prepare for their wedding night and lie in each others arms. Thankfully that’s the extent of it. Two brothers fall for the same women and false rumors spread about her.

Conclusion –

Merlin was the perfect mix of fantasy with historical fact. Ancient Britain is a fascinating place filled with warlords and invading barbarians. You have noble kings who stand for what is right and a receding Roman empire about to crumble. A young man goes on a journey to find his purpose in life and ends up uniting a tattered kingdom. This book was a perfect way to spend my spring break! Definitely not a book you will finish in one sitting, but I highly recommend it if you love legends.

Up Next – I’ll be starting Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, its been a while since I’ve read sci-fi.

Review for Greenwillow

Greenwillow by B. J. Chute

Genre – Romance, Village Life, Cozy

Series – No

Rating – G – Pretty clean

Synopsis –

Welcome to Greenwillow, where things tend to stay the same. Until an unwanted preacher comes claiming to be from the Bishop. Greenwillow is unsure how to handle this as they already have a preacher. They eventually settle for holding 2 services on Sunday due to their different preaching styles. Then we meet the Briggs family whose father/husband left them to go wandering When the Amos Briggs returns, both preachers go trying to convince him to stay. Gideon the oldest Brigg child, fears for his call to wander as he loves working the farm. Dorrie is a nearby adopted orphan who supports Gideon and wishes that his call won’t come.

My Thoughts –

To start this year has been a great year for audiobooks! I had this on my 2021 list and was surprised they had Greenwillow as its a bit older. I found this audiobook quaint and charming. The narrator is wonderful and did unique voices for each character which I appreciated!

Throughout the book, Chute creates some beautiful and lyrical descriptions whether it be discussing the Meander river or Dorrie’s tarts. It’s done in a way that makes you want to visit the village of Greenwillow. It follows this village through all the seasons which was neat to see.

This is a very character driven novel that shows their everyday life. For me the characters felt real and life-like. I connected with Dorrie and her life at Miss Madie and Miss Emma’s house. She is a soft spoken character who shows kindness wherever she goes. Of the Briggs family, Micah was my favorite. Quite the bubbly personality and very curious! I chuckled at granny’s antics with her turnip and tramping through the snow to save their cow. The two reverends got on my nerves, not sure if it was their bickering or something else.

The plot takes it time to develop, kinda wanders as we are introduced to the cast of characters. If you are looking for something fast paced or with action, this isn’t it. Nothing really out of the ordinary occurs, which was pleasant. Reminded me of the Miford books by Jan Karon.

The theological elements of the book were kinda odd. The two preachers -Lapp & Birdsong held vastly different views. Lapp preached about hell and needing to repent or the devil will catch you, while Birdsong took the everyone is happy and saved approach. I so wanted a bit about being saved by grace and the works of Christ, but mostly focus is on works. I think their Catholic We did see a turnaround at the end, but didn’t feel quite right.

Language – None

Violence – None

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

Greenwillow takes you back in time before technology and the internet. Where a villagers find a lost pig big news and a cow being born a proud accomplishment. I’d highly recommend this one!! Especially if you are looking for a change in pace!

Up Next – Finishing up The Power of One, which is our Church’s book club pick and The Inheritance Games.

How is your spring going? What have you been reading/listening too? Have you heard of Greenwillow?

Anna

Review for Mawson’s Will

Mawson’s Will – The Greatest Survival Story Ever Written

by Lennard Bickel

Genre – Nonfiction, Exploration, Survival

Series – Standalone

Rating – PG-13 for survival related violence

Synopsis –

Dr. Douglas Mawson had been to Antarctica once before on the 1908 expedition to Mt. Erebus. This light a fire in Mawson who yearns to return to the inhospitable continent. He seeks the help of Shackleton, but Shackleton has no interest in exploring west of Cape Adare. So, Mawson assembles his own team which became known as the Australasian Antarctic Expedition. By December of 1911, Mawson emerged at the coast of Antarctica. He divided his crew into 2 groups, one captained by Frank wild who would endeavor to reach the magnetic south pole, the other by Mawson that would explore West. What ensues is an epic story of survival and exploration of Antarctica.

My Thoughts –

Survival stories fascinate me! Being lone in a wilderness and coping with whatever weather is thrown your way is an accomplishment in itself. Let alone going to the coldest continent. Mawson shows the meaning of courage, bravery, & resilience! Before reading this book, I knew next to nothing about Antarctica. So I loved learning about its climate and changes in weather. The one thing I wish the book had was a map of Mawson’s travels. Thankfully, there is one on the internet that proved helpful and I referred to quite a bit.

Personally I don’t think I would have what it takes to live there for over 2 years. Some of the wind gusts were over 90 mph! In Antarctica’s winter it could get down to 60 degrees below freezing. Which first off, I didn’t know Antarctica could have a winter, figured it was winter year round, which isn’t far from true. It’s winter is the stormy/wind season. Gets the most snowfall.

Anyways, the story really picks up once Mawson sets out on his march across Antarctica. Before that, there’s lots of going over who’s who in the world of exploration. They spent almost 11 months in their hut before being able to travel. I loved how inventive Mawson and his men were. If they didn’t have something, they’d try to make it. Or if a tent piece broke they’d find a way to fix it. They brought everything they needed from the boat and made do.

I was surprised at how often Mawson mentions his faith or at least his belief in Providence. He has a hymnbook he reads from on several occasions as well as prayers he says for their journey/funerals. As well as quoting scripture on occasion. He questions why God would take away one of his companions.

Now was it the greatest survival story as the name implies? I’m not so sure. I’ve read a variety of survival stories from Unbroken to We Die Alone. They each have their own incredible tale. Was Mawson’s survival surprising? Yes! I mean after eating such a high level of vitamin A, he should be dead. The whole overdosing on Vitamin A was really interesting. And truly made me feel sorry for Mertz! Only by the hand of the Almighty did Mawson live to tell his story.

Language – None, at least none that I remember

Violence – Okay, so here is where it can get a little grisly. * Spoilers ahead * So Ninnis dies by falling into a crevasse taking most of the food stores with him. This causes Mawson and Mertz to rely on the huskies livers. Now they only killed them when the dog was on it’s last legs. But yeah, they talk about shooting or killing them. Mawson then would chop the carcass up and turn it into jelly. Now Mawson did treat these animals with the greatest respect. Also, we see the affects caused by high levels of vitamin A. Mawson’s soles fall off, his fingers nails nails are in bad shape and mentions of sores all across his body. So not for the faint of heart.

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

Mawson’s lone trek to civilization is incredible. Just goes to show that our human body is amazingly designed! It made me appreciate living on a continent that has people. Reading this book, made me want to see Antarctica. It’s not the best book ever written, but I enjoyed it!

Up Next – I’m working on another survival story set in the Peruvian Andes called Touching the Void by Joe Simpson.

Do you enjoy a good survival tale? Have any favorites?

Anna