Review for I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Genre – Historical, coming of age, romance

Series – No

Rating – PG – for mild innuendo

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion –

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

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

Anna

2 Mysteries that I have recently finished

Recently I just haven’t had as much time to read as I would like, yet I have just finished 2 mysteries that were quite good! I enjoyed both, but for different reasons & and will give a mini review on both.

First, Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse.

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction

Series – Second book in the Mycroft and Sherlock series

Rating – PG -13 for violence & drug use

Synopsis – Mycroft has just started working high up in the British government and has saved the queen on a previous occasion when a series of murders occurs. At first he is not interested, but when Sherlock’s professor becomes involved and a few close calls, Mycroft begins to suspect that something is brewing. Sherlock meanwhile has secretly taken on this case as his budding investigative powers lead him into the lion’s den. Mycroft and Sherlock work together to find out who is behind these awful murders.

My Thoughts – First, I really liked the authors take on younger versions of Mycroft and Sherlock. I haven’t read the first book as I had no idea this was series, but there was enough information that I didn’t feel too lost. I preferred Sherlock’s escapades for I found Mycroft’s character not as interesting. Plus Sherlock has always been a favorite character of mine. 😉 I liked Douglas with his orphanage for boys & appreciated his values. Nice to see Douglas endeavoring to keep his son’s memory by helping others in need. Charles and George were sweet and wanted to hear more of their story.

While the beginning was a wee bit slow, it began to pick up midway through. The action was spread out and did a decent job keeping the pace going, Although the conclusion felt a little off to me. It felt just a little anti-climatic. Oh, well. Overall I enjoyed it and liked several of the characters.

Content – Only a handful of mild uses of language. Really pretty minimal. Violence was mostly characters seeing an already dead body or a description of how they were killed. A couple mentions of genitals getting cut off. Later we learn this is a ritual done in Asia to teach others a lesson. There is a fight scene were a couple characters get beat up. The other content issue is drug use. It is a main theme as the bad guys test drugs on young children before shipping it to users. Sherlock enters a drug den and is injected multiple times.

Now for the second mystery!

The Religious Body by Catherine Aird

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction

Series – First book in the C. D. Sloan mysteries

Rating – PG – Mild violence

Synopsis – When a nun is thought to have been murdered in the convent of St. Anselm, Inspector Sloan is called in. Sister Anne is found at the bottom cellar. The problem for Sloan is that the Nuns are a very quiet group and have given up everything worldly to live for God. Sloan begins diving into Sister Anne’s past and interrogating the others in the convent. Will Sloan be able to get to the bottom before anyone else dies?

My Thoughts – This was a well done mystery. For the longest time, I thought someone was the culprit, but I was proved wrong. 😉 Anyway, this was really clean and breath of fresh air. Set after WWII, it has a lot going for it. I like Sloan and his partner Crosby. They were a good pair that reminded me of a couple characters from the show Foyle’s War. While there isn’t much character development, the focus was on introducing the characters and solving the mystery. It was a pretty short book less then 200 p. We also get to see things from the sister’s perspectives and what their life was like. So pacing was pretty quick and it flowed really well for my tastes. I think that I will probably continue this series and see where it goes.

Content – Rare mild language, violence was again after the character had died. She is hit on the back of the head. The villain tries to kill another nun, but is stopped by inspector. Maybe a couple mentions of blood on her clothes. Other then that it is really clean.

Conclusion – So these are a few books that I have finished. It feels so good to finish a book!! Slowly, but surly I am ticking off books on my list. I think I only have maybe 2 or 3 left!! Yea!!! My next book will be My Dog Skip. I recently watched this movie and really enjoyed it! Then found out there was a book behind it so yeah, looking forward to that!!

What books have you read recently? Do you enjoy mysteries? Read any Sherlock Holmes pastiches? What is your favorite?

Anna

Review for That Hideous Strength

That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Christian fiction

Series – 3rd book in the Ransom trilogy

Rating – PG-13 for strong violence and language

Synopsis –

Jane and Mark Studdock have had a rough patch in their marriage. Mark teaches at Bracton college and has recently joined the Fellowship there; he is constantly endeavoring to be a part of the inner circle. This leads him to joining an evil organization called N. I. C. E. Jane on the other hand prefers her independence, but that is changed when she has visions that begin to scare her. With help from an older couple, Jane meets the Director aka Ransom. Will Mark realize his mistake before its too late? Should Jane trust what the Director is telling her?

My Thoughts –

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I did it!! I finished the Ransom trilogy!! Whew, that has taken me on quite a journey. I actually really liked this last installment as it felt completely different from first 2 books. Lewis moves the story back to earth with a little time gap between Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. We also alternate between the N. I. C. E. stronghold at Belbery and Ransom’s group at St. Anne.

The characters that Lewis added in this book were my kind of jam. Jane and Mark felt flushed out, yet pretty relatable. I actually liked Mark, despite some of his views/flaws, and wanted him to see the error of his ways, but he was kind of fooled by N. I. C. E. flowery phrases. Jane, while stubborn, at least realized she needed help. The group at St. Anne’s was kind of funny in their own way – a band of misfits who no one would think could impact Britain. How can you not like a bear named Mr. Beltitude? Plus, Ransom was more of a background character which I think fit after his transformation on Venus. He was like the wise father to the group. In Perelandra, Ransom was odd and a bit idiotic at times, and I just didn’t care for him. So, it was definitely a breath of fresh air to see him change.

One thing Lewis add to That Hideous Strength is a bit of Arthurian legend which was not in his previous books. I liked it. Merlin was kind of kooky, but he added to the plot and was a vehicle for climax. After listening to a talk on this book, I learned that Lewis became friends with Charles Williams while writing. He influenced Lewis quite a bit. I ‘ll add a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61w7SHOJQEg

Spiritual warfare is also heavily present. The N. I. C. E. have found a way to keep a dead head alive. This invites the “macrobes” or demons to speak through this head to the key people in N. I. C. E. Their whole philosophy is to brainwash the public into a very sterile way of thinking. Meanwhile, Ransom has been conversing with the Oyarsa, who are equivalent to angels. At one point, Ransom is talking to Jane and he tells her that she will have to convert to Christianity which goes against Jane’s strong sense of will. Eventually she submits.

One downside for me at least was the ending. I kind of expected a huge battle between the Oyarsa and the bent one, but really all it took was Merlin freeing the animals, who then brought justice. It felt a little odd to me.

Language – Pretty frequently used, although mostly by the nonbelievers. I would say used more often then in the previous books. Kept within the bounds of PG though.

Violence – The directors of N. I. C. E. murder a couple of people who try to leave their organization. Mostly done off the page. Also, mentioned that they want to murder large groups of people to cleanse the world and perform experiments upon animals. They orchestrate riots in Edgestow. Miss Hardcastle takes pleasure in torturing the prisoners. In one instance she burns Jane with a cigarette. Towards the end, Merlin releases animals during a banquet at the N. I. C. E. headquarters, who proceed to kill and maul the guests. References to the room filled with blood. One character’s arm is mauled off. Later a character kills several characters and covers the room in blood. He is then eaten by a bear. So, yeah, violence is also stepped up a bit compared to previous books.

Innuendo – Miss Hardcastle takes off her tunic revealing that she isn’t wearing a corset, while it doesn’t outright say, it hinted that Hardcastle is a lesbian. One of N. I. C. E. goals is to get rid of sex. Mention that on one side of the Moon they don’t breed, but live forever. The other side is depicted as savages. Later on, 3 N. I. C. E. members strip naked before their head. After everything is set right, Venus draws near. This leads to all the animals mating. Jane and Mark spend the night together with a promise of a child.

Conclusion –

It feels really good to have finished this series. It will probably be one that I will reread in future. It wasn’t what I expected for the final book, but it worked. I would say that this one is my favorite of the trilogy. Followed by Out of the Silent Planet then Perelandra. The N. I. C. E. organization really reminded me of the Nazis so you could see how the war impacted what Lewis wrote. Funny little anecdote, Lewis mentions Middle-earth and Numinor which is from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings/ Simarillion. I thought that was kinda neat!

Have you read this trilogy? Have a favorite book by Lewis? Cannot wait to hear from you all!

Anna

Review of Perelandra

Perelandra by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Christian fiction

Series – 2nd book in the Ransom Trilogy

Rating – PG for violence and innuendo

Synopsis –

Ransom has been home a while since his adventure on Malacandra or Mars. Lewis is taking a trip to meet Ransom when stumbling upon Ransom’s house Lewis encounters an Oyarsa. Eventually Ransom shows up an explains to Lewis why he needs his help. The Oyarsa have summoned Ransom to go to Perelandra (Venus), and Lewis is supposed to help Ransom upon his return. Lewis agrees and so off Ransom goes. Perelandra is a lush planet with a variety of unique wildlife. While there, Ransom meets a Green Lady who is looking for her missing husband, the king. Will Ransom be able to figure out why he was called to Perelandra?

My Thoughts –

Well, I am now 2/3 the way through the series and can say that it is different then I had expected. This second book is much more descriptive then the first, not to say that first was descriptive, but this has an elegant feel to it. Again, like Out of the Silent Planet, this book tries to get you to think outside the box as Lewis tackles some tough subjects.

Let’s talk characters! First, yeah, Lewis sort of wrote himself into the book although albeit in a minor role. I found it kinda humorous as not many authors do that. Maybe Tolkien did as well, cannot remember though. The Green Lady is very innocent and naive, partly because she has just been awakened. Her and Ransom have many philosophical conversations, not gonna lie, but some of it went over my head. Yet, she didn’t have much of a personality. She does go through some development, but not in a way you would expect. Also, Weston comes back and this time he is possessed by Satan which makes for an interesting and odd character.

I will say that the plot is slower then the first. There isn’t much action until closer to the end. A fair amount of the story takes place in conversations arguing this and that. I loved the first few chapters with Lewis and his trip to Ransom’s house. For me it just flowed nicely and kept me engaged.

Lewis delves into several topics that Ransom, the Lady, and Weston discuss. One of the first things they go into is what is evil/good. It kinda plays on the Garden of Eden and what would have happened if Eve never sinned. The Lady doesn’t know what evil is, so Ransom tries to explain it. Lewis also mentions myths a couple times and how a myth on our world could be reality on another. Weston tries to get the Lady to disobey Maleldil’s one rule that he gave her and her husband. That is only scratching the surface. 😉

Lewis does a great job weaving Christian elements throughout the story. Here and there Ransom will mention Genesis and the similarities with Perelandra. Multiple times they discuss how Maleldil had been made into a man on our planet and died. Ransom himself is a Christ-like character not in his characteristics, but in how he sacrifices himself. There is also mention of a cleansing of our world. So, there is a lot of Christian content which is nice to see.

Language – One use of mild language.

Violence – Ransom wakes up to find a trail of sliced frog like creatures that are dying. Turns out Weston is mutilating them. Later on Ransom attacks Weston after prompting from Maleldil. They bite, scratch, rip each other up pretty bad. Weston tears Ransom back which bleeds. They chase each other across the world until eventually Ransom pushes him over a cave ledge and he burns up. Ransom realizes as he recovers that he was hurt in his heel. Bleeds for quite a while, meaning weeks.

Innuendo – Upon meeting the Lady, Ransom realizes that both of them are naked. Later on Weston sees Random and the Lady close together (due to Random trying to warn the Lady) and thinks Ransom was seducing her. Weston cannot believe that their interaction truly wasn’t sexual. Near the end Ransom compares something to a women’s breasts.

Conclusion –

This has been an interesting series so far. Lewis delves in deep into some philosophical and spiritual issues all while conveying an interesting story. Although, I cannot say that I liked his characters which ranged from Ransom being idiotic at times to Weston, a pure form of evil. I believe that these books will need to be reread a couple times to fully appreciate what Lewis is doing. Perelandra made me ponder things that I never thought to consider. Would I recommend it? Yes, but take the time to think on what you are reading. 🙂

Review for Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Christian fiction, Fantasy, Science fiction

Series – First book in Cosmic or Space Trilogy

Rating – PG for mild language and peril

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion –

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

Review for Nine Coaches Waiting

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Genre – Suspense, Mystery, Romance

Series – No, it’s a stand-alone novel

Rating – PG – Attempted murder, mild language throughout

Synopsis –

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

My thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion –

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

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

Anna

Review for The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King by T. H. White

Genre – Fantasy, Romance, Classic

Stand-alone novel

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and mild innuendo

Synopsis –

The story begins with a boy named Arthur or Wart as that is the nickname they gave him. Wart lives with Sir Ector and his his son Kay as no one knows who Wart’s parents were. When Wart’s tutor quits quite unexpectedly, he goes on a quest to find a new one. He encounters Merlyn, a wise wizard, in the forest and brings him back to the castle. Merlyn instructs both Kay and Arthur for many years. As part of Wart’s instruction, Merlyn transforms him into various animals in order to teach him valuable lessons. Many years pass before one day Wart pulls a sword out of a stone to give to Kay. This leads to his eventually becoming king. Once Arthur becomes king, he has many adventures in trying to bring unity to England. He brings together a group of knights to reform England. Will Arthur and his band of knights be able to bring unity before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

First off, The Once and Future King is composed of four separate books. They all kinda go together, but they each tell a separate section of Arthur’s life. For some reason it took me quite a while to read this. Not sure exactly why??! Just glad I finally finished!! Overall, it gave an interesting look at King Arthur that is different from the previous books I had read. This was more personal. We could hear what went on his head and his conversations with those around him. Unlike King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, which focused more on telling a legend. I enjoyed this book more!

The characterization in this was great! You could see these characters and feel for them. They felt more human compared to some other tellings which make them out to be legends. I actually liked Lancelot’s character, which was weird for me because in the past I kinda hated how arrogant he was. White does a great job of making this flawed hero conflicted and torn about some his past decisions. Arthur also has some great development that occurs throughout the book. We spent the most time with Arthur and see him transform from boy to wizened king. The one character that was a thorn in my side was Guenever. Her character just didn’t sit well with me. Something about how she is portrayed, but I can’t put my finger on it. The four Orkney brothers while childish at times, were fine, it was just Guenever that didn’t belong.

The plot was slower as it kinda built up the characters from the ground up. We get introduced to many of them while they were still young. So there were a few sections that truly dragged on. One especially slow section was Wart being an ant!! It had no connection to the actual plot! Also, a few political sections that felt like they went on forever!

White has quite the sense of humor. Especially in the first two books he would break the third person narrative and jump to first person. He would then try to describe something using modern terms. I kinda liked this. There was one particularly humorous scene with the Questing Beast and King Pellinore where I truly laughed out loud! 😉

I would not call this a Christian book, despite the fact that there are many Christian themes and several characters are considered Christians. The author makes a couple references to evolution and some hints that God might not exist. You can tell the author has a different view then some of the characters. It isn’t shoved in your face though, and oddly enough he does quote from the Bible.

Language – There is some mild language throughout the book. Mostly the same two words used over and over.

Violence – Honestly, there wasn’t much despite this being a book about knights. Yes, there a few battles or tournaments where knights get injured, but not described. Knights knock each other out with their sword. Maybe a mention or two of blood on the grass. There are a couple jousts to the death. Again not much description just a blurb that they died. There is a scene where a women is tied to a stake to be burnt to death for infidelity (She gets rescued).

Innuendo – First, I’ll mention that there are a couple times where the author describes a knight as being naked and then later mentions him having clothes on. So I believe it means that they didn’t have armor not that they were truly naked. Second, is Lancelot’s and Guenever’s relationship. In this story, Arthur is warned beforehand that he should watch out. He dismisses the warning and pays for it. Lancelot hates Guenever until an event occurs where he hurts Guenever’s feelings. This is what sparks him to fall in love with her. Lancelot’s uncle calls him out on it, but Lancelot doesn’t listen. They kiss several times and many characters try to tell the King that Lancelot is sleeping with his wife. Lancelot tries to end it on multiple occasions. Lastly, there are a couple mentions of other character’s infidelity, just brief mentions.

Conclusion –

This gives a good look at Arthur and how he truly wanted to change England for the better. We get to see what makes these classic character tick. There is also a brief history lesson thrown in which I enjoyed. If you want a book that focuses on a smaller cast of Arthurian characters, this is a good choice. While it has some content issues, overall a well done fantasy!

Cannot wait to hear what you all are reading!! Have you read any King Arthur stories? Any favorite retellings?

Review for The Jerusalem Assassin

The Jerusalem Assassin by Joel Rosenberg

Genre – Political Thriller, Christian Fiction, Suspense

Series – 3rd book in the Marcus Ryker Series

Rating – PG-13 for Suspense and violence

Synopsis –

Marcus Ryker is looking forward to some rest and recuperation after having just returned from a dangerous mission. After working many years in the Secret Service he is transferred to secretly work of the CIA. As he is learning the ropes, an unknown organization begins killing key members of the U.S. government. Marcus begins to suspect something big is a foot. Meanwhile the President is organizing a peace summit between Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Will Marcus be able to figure out who is behind the assassinations before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

I have been reading Joel Rosenberg’s books for years! So when I heard he was coming out with the next book in this series, I was thrilled. Rosenberg usually writes about 1 book a year. So my mom and I are always trying to remember what had occurred in the previous book. It had been such a long time since I had read The Persian Gamble that I had forgotten just about everything. For the most part Rosenberg does a great job juggling the political aspects with suspense and action.

Now I have to say that overall this series was one of my favorites. Most of his previous books take place in Israel or the Middle East like his J. B. Collins series which got a little repetitive. So I appreciated having this series focus more on Russia. It felt fresh and different. The Kremlin Conspiracy was probably my favorite of the three books in the Marcus Ryker series. It felt like something out of a Jason Bourne movie.

This newest installment was a wee bit of a let down. Not to say that it was bad, but it defiantly felt slower and more politically based then character based. Most of the book takes place in closed door meetings with either our bad guys or good guys. So not really any character development. Marcus has stayed the same throughout much of this series. I kept hoping that we would see a change in him or find out more about his past. I also wanted to see more of Peter Hwang or Oleg Kraskin, but these characters kinda got sidelined.

Oleg Kraskin is one of my favorite characters in this series. We got to know him so well during the previous two books and I was looking forward to seeing how he did, now that he was in America. There was one great scene between Marcus and Oleg that made me really happy. We get to hear Marcus be a little more open about his faith and ask Oleg about what his beliefs were.

Despite being labeled as Christian fiction, there is not much Christian content in this series. Honestly, it did not bug me too much as Marcus himself is kinda a quiet person. In The Jerusalem Assassin, we do see Marcus praying or reading his Bible.

I do want to mention that so many of the Middle Eastern characters have similar names. At first I struggled telling who was who. It got better later on. The end fell nicely together and I liked how Rosenberg paced the end.

Language – Two different uses of mild language.

Violence –

Honestly, compared to some of his other books, I felt that the violence was toned down a bit. There are several shootouts. One takes place at a church and a character dies. Several people are wounded and end up in the hospital. A character kills one of the intruders and incapacitates another. Later on we have a character who has surgery to place a bomb inside her. She is a suicide bomber and willingly goes to her dead. In the bombing she kills 23 people and injures many more. A couple mentions of blood and body parts exploding in the air. Lastly, we have another character who has a similar surgery to implant a bomb in his chest. Several characters are killed.

Innuendo – Really only a mention of a character liking another character. That it.

Conclusion –

I always love a good political or action thriller, so it was nice to step back into Rosenberg’s series. Although I cannot say it was my favorite, I had a hard time putting it down. My mom and I had to take turns, which was tough especially for the action sequences. Rosenberg gives us an interesting look at what could happen if there was peace in Israel. Overall an enjoyable read, but would highly recommend reading these books in order. 😉

So over to you guys! What books have you been reading? Read any of Rosenberg’s books? Have a favorite?

Anna

Review for The Blue Castle

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

Genre – Historical fiction, Romance, Mystery

Series – Standalone novel

Rating – PG – Thematic elements

Synopsis –

Valancy Stirling is tired of being told what to do. She lives with her mother and her aunt who prefer nothing to change. They do not even allow Valancy to move things around her room. So on Valancy’s 29 birthday she decides to change things up a bit. She gives up pretending to enjoy things she hates, and do things in her own way. Which may lead to Valancy finding her own Blue Castle. Will her family be able to understand her?

My thoughts –

I really enjoyed this novel!! It felt different then the Anne series. I almost thought it was written by a different writer. The Blue Castle is aimed at adults and has more of a grown up feel to it. It also takes place after the Anne books as things are more modern. Several characters have cars and there are movies playing as well.

I really connected with Valancy’s character. She feels like she has done nothing productive and for her self in her life. Her family is overbearing and she is the women who is always in the shadows. Then she gets a letter that changes everything and gives Valancy a new look on life. I liked Valancy’s growth and change throughout the story. She takes a step and helps someone else who is suffering. She even makes quit a sacrifice for someone she loves. I could just relate to this story.

There are many descriptions of nature and scenery. It felt like you were outdoors, fishing and exploring with these characters.

There is quite a variety of interesting characters thrown into this story. I actually liked Roaring Abel, despite his drinking. He was one of the few honest characters and told it like it is. Cissy is such a sweet character. She has had such a hard life and I loved how Valancy befriends her. Barney was odd. It took a while to actually like him as a character. Towards the end though, he and Valancy had a strong relationship.

Although the plot was a little slow, there was some charm to it. There is not much action and mostly all character driven. It was nice to have a book that was about normal everyday events, but some sections were a wee bit boring. The end has a couple firecrackers that were surprising. Someone should make this into a TV series or movie.

Language – Mentions of people swearing, no actual words though. Maybe 2 uses of mild language.

Violence – None

Innuendo – Valancy attends a back woods party where there is drinking and dancing. A couple men try to force her to dance with them. Barney ends up coming in and saving Valancy. The town busybodies gossip about Valancy and Barney. Two characters kiss and get married.

Conclusion –

If you love the Anne series and are looking for something with a similar feel, I would recommend this book!! It has a different flavor to it, but it is a sweet story. Sometimes you need an uplifting book like this.

Review for The Tale of Briar Bank

The Tale of Briar Bank by Susan Wittig Albert

Genre – Historical fiction, Mystery, Fantasy

Series – 5th book in The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Rating – PG – Peril and mild violence

Synopsis –

Beatrix Potter has returned to her house at Hill Top farm. She is looking forward to spending some time in the country. Yet, when she arrives, the town is in an uproar. Mr. Wickstead has met an untimely death by the form of a tree. The villagers believe it is a curse, while Constable Braithwaite is not so sure. He has noticed some unusual marking on the tree. One of the witnesses to the event is a badger named Bailey, but of course he has no way of telling the humans what exactly he saw. Will Miss Potter be able to get to the bottom of this mystery before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

I have so enjoyed this series!! And this book is one of the better ones. The previous book, The Tale of Hawthorn House, was bit odd and disjointed. The Tale of Briar Bank flowed much better and the animals were much more likeable. There was Norse theme throughout which I liked. I have always enjoyed Norse history/mythology. One of the animals we are introduced to is a dragon named Thorvaald. He was so sweet and odd. It was hard not to like him.

Another new element is Miss Potter and Mr. Heelis’s blossoming friendship. Many years before Miss Potter’s fiance had died quiet suddenly and ever since she has been grieving her loss. So it was wonderful to see her start to move on after four books. 🙂

The villagers are so quirky and odd. You have the usual gossip that spreads like wildfire and villagers falsely believing characters are a couple. They complement their town so well. The author does a wonderful job bringing this English countryside to life. You can picture the lakes and hills in your head. It reminds me a bit of the characters in the BBC show Doc Marin.

The author also breaks the third person wall and speaks right to the reader. She does this frequently throughout the book which I enjoyed. It made it seem like we were co-conspirators invading the town. 😉 Albert would tell the reader that, “So you and I shall not stand idly by and wait whilst Will examines the photographs and eats his lunch. Instead we shall take ourselves up to The Brockery. . .” (Albert, p. 144). I think this is a great way to connect to readers, especially when done the right way.

Albert, Susan Wittig. The Tale of Briar Bank. Berkley Publishing Group, New York. 2008.

Language – None

Violence – A character is killed by the top of a tree. A dragon tries to hurt a badger by its fire. Badger gets singed arm.

Innuendo – The villagers believe that 2 characters are a couple and possibly engaged. (all false). Two different characters begin to develop a romantic relationship. Very mild.

Conclusion –

This was a lovely addition to the series. It was delightful to be able to visit the small town of Near Sawrey again. I highly recommend this series as it is something the whole family could enjoy. The author does a great job of keeping them pretty clean which is wonderful. Plus you get to learn some of the history surrounding Beatrix Potter.

Have you read any book in this series? What are you currently reading? Cannot wait to hear from you all!!