Quick Lit – What I’ve been Reading Lately

It feels like forever since I’ve popped on here! Feel a little bad about that. 2022 has been an interesting year so far and has lots of changes in store. I’ll be moving soon which, honestly, not sure if I’m ready for it. Also, have a family wedding soon. This brings me to my point, I’ve been doing more listening than reading. I’m still counting audiobooks in my overall reading count. For me, it has just been easier.

Without further ado, I’ll mention some books that I’ve enjoyed over the past few months.

Season 7 Nbc GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine

The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel – Read

The Magic of Ordinary Days by Anne Howard Creel

Genre – Historical Fiction

Series – Stand-a-lone novel

Rating – PG for discussion of pregnancy before marriage

Age -Adult

My Thoughts – Honestly I don’t remember what lead me to put it on my list for this year?? I saw the movie a few years ago and enjoyed it, but at the time had no idea there was a book behind it. I must have seen this book somewhere on around the blogosphere.

However, I really did love this book!! The setting is beautiful, and takes place in 1944 on a Colorado farm in the fall. Olivia and Ray really drive the novel. All Olivia wants to be an archeologist visiting far off places. However, after her mother passes, Olivia falls for a Edward who is preparing for deployment. She ends up pregnant. He father arranges a marriage with a bean farmer, Ray. While there she becomes friends with two Rose & Lorelei, Japanese Americans who are in a camp. I really liked the portrayal of Ray and Reverend Cass’s faith. They both have a simple trust in the Lord and reverence for the Bible which was nice to see.

My only dislike was that Olivia got whiny and had trouble making up her mind. I almost wished the author could have alternated every other chapter with Ray.

Maid Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

Maid by Stephanie Land

Genre – Memoir, nonfiction

Series – No

Rating – PG-13 for language and domestic violence

Age – Adult

This was one of our book club’s picks for April. Stephanie’s story is fascinating, especially since I have little knowledge regarding how people on such a low income live. Maid reminded me of the Pursuit of Happiness. Some sections irked me a bit with her whole attitude toward certain things. However, she truly worked hard to provide for her daughter. My favorite parts where her stories about the different houses she cleaned. To be honest I would not do well with all the black mold she had to clean. Her client Henry was so sweet! Most of the chapters titles are names for the different houses.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J. K. Rowling

Genre – Fantasy

Series – 3rd book in the Harry Potter series

Rating – PG for some name calling and peril

Age – YA

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Now, this by far was my favorite of the first three. We see the characters mature a bit and get more backstory of Hogwarts before Harry. Surprised that we got a decent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Lupin was the mentor that Harry needed! He has a calmness about him. Honestly, I wasn’t sure about Sirius, however, he grew on me. It was sweet hearing his defense of James and Lily. Of the three kids, Ron is my fav! If I was someone in real life, I’d be Nevil Longbottom. πŸ˜‰

Well folks, that’s all I have for now!

Have you read any of these books? What’s your take on them? Favorite characters?

It’s hard to believe that April is almost here!

Up next – I wanted something easyish so am reading Hollow City, the second in Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series.

Anna

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

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

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 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

Review for Dune

Dune (Dune, #1)

Dune by Frank Herbert

Genre – Science Fiction, Adventure, Political

Series – 1st in the Dune series

Rating – PG-13 for skirmishes, battles, and betrayal

Well folks, I’ve finished Dune a few days ago and it has been rolling around in my head. I picked this up at the library, sort of spur of the moment situation; I saw it sitting on the shelf and recalled that they were making a movie out of it. So I figured I’d give it a shot. This year has been my sci-fi year, am I right??

I went into it thinking it was going to be Tolkienesque with lots of descriptions and perhaps some dry bits. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Herbert was able to draw me into the story within a few chapters. Let me just say, Herbert’s word building is incredible. He masterfully creates a world that is different from our own, but also relatable. Arrakis sounds awful, but also has a natural beauty that I didn’t appreciate at first. You are drawn into his universe and yet, he doesn’t overwhelm you with ton of details at the start. He slowly builds the story.

Now, I’m torn about the characters. The characters I was drawn to were more minor, except for Paul. Paul started out really interesting with his Bene Gesserit training and visions of the future. I also liked that he was wrong on occasion despite all his wisdom. But later on once he realized he was Muad’dib he become less connectable. And I didn’t like him as much. He was a brilliant military strategist and I liked his friendship with Stilgar! In fact Stilgar was one of my favorite characters. He was a noble leader and cared for his people.

I also liked Duke Leto and Jessica to an extent. They made an interesting couple. The Emperor put him in tight position and he did the best he could. It would be interesting to see if Leto knew he would be betrayed? Chani was ok, didn’t really connect with her. Duncan Idaho went up in my opinion with his sacrifice. Wish he was in it a bit more.

Plot-wise, the best part for me was the survival in the desert. I love survival stories and this was neat to see how they conserved water. Also, the worms, loved how the Freman rode them. One of the reasons why I love sci-fi is seeing the creatures and worlds the authors create.

The main concern I had was the whole new age thing the Bene Gesserit taught. Very force like from Star Wars. I mean I get when you create a world, you sometimes create new religions, but it messed so many together, it got very convoluted in my opinion. Also, wasn’t a fan of the joined consciousnesses that Jessica did with the Reverend Mother. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. Coming from a Christian background, I don’t agree with many of the author’s ideas. Especially the stuff about being one with the world. I believe we are only here on this world for a little while and our job is to glorify the Creator.

Content – Language is pretty minimal, only a few mild choice words. Violence is pretty typical of a fantasy movie, we do see several characters poisoned. Several die by knife wounds. There are references to concubines. Mostly used as statement of fact, we don’t get details thankfully.

Conclusion –

How to sum it all up? Its an interesting novel, with some political intrigue as well as a journey. I can see how this classic has influenced other sci-fi movies. I liked it a lot more then I had thought I would. Stayed engaged and interested in the plot to finish. I am curious to see what they do with the movie.

So, have any of you read Dune? What were your thoughts?

Up Next – I’m rereading The Book Thief!

Anna

End of Summer Books

Hello friends!

I hope you all have enjoyed your summer! This year it felt like it especially went by fast. I love summer! The swimming, picnics, campfires, walks, ice cream, and of course 4th of July! I did a fair amount of reading as well! My favorite summer read has been Project Hail Mary which I’ve previously talked about.

Today, I wanted to talk about two books I’ve recently finished that I enjoyed, but didn’t quite cut it for me. They fell a little short, but there are some good things in each. Also, both are somewhat summery which fits.

Season 8 Running GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Let’s get started shall we!

This Won’t End Well has an interesting premise. Annie quits her job after an incident with a coworker made her realize the truth about him. Right after this her fiance, Jon, suddenly leaves for France only telling her on the way to the airport. For good measure we have a mysterious neighbor who does some odd things which cause Annie to investigate. Throughout the book Annie makes several discoveries about herself and realizes she needs to make changes.

I liked several things in this novel. First, Annie cares very much about her mom and currently lives with her due to her mom’s health problems. There is a touching moment at the end where both Annie and her mom tell each other the truth. I also loved Harper the next door neighbor. I found her character hilarious and quirky. Naming her dog, dog! πŸ˜‰ Also, have to give a shout out to Viola, the next door neighbor, who spoke some much needed wisdom Annie.

Sadly, there were several times when Annie really got on nerves. Her indecision and lies to the neighbor. Also, Jon was no better. Like why would you leave 4 months before your wedding?? Plus, wanting no communication with your fiance? Glad they split amicable though. Now I did like Moe at first, but then later on when we found out why he was spying on Annie, he went way down in my estimation. Even at the end, I kinda wish the author would have left Annie single.

The plot was a bit predictable at times, I mean most Rom-coms are, but the author threw a few surprises in. The main thing that kept me reading, was the whole who Harper was. Her and Annie’s friendship was fun to read. Also, the Moe the private investigator was different and I didn’t see that coming.

As far as summer reading goes, This Won’t End Well was light and breezy. Had some cute moments, but nothing deep. Good book for the beach!

Now on to Ember’s End!

Excited Season 4 GIF by Friends

I discovered the Ember series several years ago and liked how Smith created a world around rabbits. For middle-grade fiction, he packs some good themes into his writing: Perseverance, Forgiveness, Family, & Loyalty to name a few.

This latest and last book in the series came out last year. For some reason I didn’t have an interest in reading it for the longest time. Kinda put it on the back burner. But, a few weeks ago, I was looking in the MG section at the library and saw it sitting there and knew I should go for it. Cannot leave Heather and Smalls stuck in a pit. πŸ˜‰

Overall, Ember’s End was a decent conclusion to the series! Our characters have matured and changed throughout the 4 books which I appreciated. We see many heroic acts of bravery in front of certain doom. We also get to see Heather and Smalls romance bloom, while Picket become quite a leader. There were several rousing speeches before a battle that were inspiring.

Yet, it felt a wee bit off to me. Maybe it was all the battles which took up a good chunk of the book. I’m not sure. This last book in particular felt very predictable. I saw the ending from a long way off. *Spoiler Alert** I almost wish Heather and Smalls would have died in the tunnel. It would have made their victory so much sweeter. *End of Spoiler **

The plot was a bit slower then some of the previous books, part of this I think was due to the big battle sequences. We see the rabbits parry and thrust quite a bit which slows the pacing. I mean we needed a big battle to defeat the birds, but maybe could have been smoother.

I do have to say I loved the addition of a dragon. Dragons seem to be in a lot of fantasy, but Smith did something a bit different with them that I really liked. That whole section was one of my favorite parts!

Ember’s End finished Heather, Picket, and Smalls’ story in beautiful way despite some bits I disliked. If you know someone who is reads MG or enjoy MG fiction yourself, this book is a good reminder to not give up when the going gets rough. Very fitting for our times.

Up Next – I’m working on Dune by Frank Herbert. Almost half-way though. πŸ™‚

So, have you had a good summer? Do you have a favorite summer book? Have you read either of these two books? Tell me below!

Anna

3 Books I’ve Recently Finished

Hello Blogger chums!!

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately, however, I finished three odd, quirky, and a little bit different books that I want to discuss. I liked two of these and the last one I struggled to really enjoy.

So let’s talk books!

First, Arthur by Stephan Lawhead

Arthur by Stephen Lawhead

Genre – Fantasy, Historical & Christian Fiction

Series – Book 3 in The Pendragon Cycle

Rating – PG-13 for War

Synopsis –

Using three different characters – Pelleas, Bedwyr, & Aneirin, we get a glimpse into who Arthur was and how he ruled his kingdom. We start with Arthur as a lad of 13 who is eager to earn honor. He is the rightful king of Britain, but the people do not acknowledge him and bicker amongst themselves. With the help of Merlin, Arthur begins to unite the land and fight for freedom.

My thoughts –

I’ve been a fan of Lawhead’s for quite some time. He has a way of crafting characters that leap off the page. We see flawed heroes who struggle with inner demons, but when push comes to shove they stand for truth and righteousness. In previous posts I’ve talked about how I love the Arthurian legend and this series has done a great job taking the characters we know and love and placing them in a totally different environment with a fresh perspective.

Of the three characters we hear from, Bedwyr was my favorite. He is the war hero who fights alongside Arthur during their many battles against Picti, Irish and other barbarians. I didn’t really care for Pelleas as we never really got to know him as a person. He was always off to the side helping Merlin on his adventures. Aneirin did grow on me, but I just didn’t click with him. Now I really loved the portrayal of Arthur and Merlin’s friendship. Merlin is more of a mentor, but also a close friend to Arthur. We also had Gwenhwyvar who is an Irish princess that marries Arthur. It was nice to see her more as a warrior maiden as opposed to her and the whole Lancelot thing.

A neat aspect that Lawhead throws in is the Christendom of Britain. We get to see how the faith spreads across all of Britain. Instead of being a magician, Merlin is more of a prophet who is given visions. He is staunch advocate for following Jesu and instructs Arthur in the Lord.

Quotes

“I left him staring into the red-gold embers, searching the myriad paths of the Otherworld for that which would bring him wisdom and courage” (p. 26).

Myrddin gave a bitter laugh and raised a hand to his eyes. “I was blind before, but now I see quite clearly; My Lord is all-sufficient to his own defense. He did not need my help. It is he who saves and protects, not me, never Myrddin” (p. 222).

“Buffeted by wind and battle roar, we stood to the barbarian host and our swords ran red” (p. 306).

While Arthur is a bit slower with more battles then Merlin was, I liked it a lot! You can see my thoughts on Merlin here –Review for Merlin. Now if you aren’t a huge battle fan, this might not be the book for you. There are many technical battles with a fair bit of violence. It is an interesting read though and if you like the Arthurian legend, I’d highly recommend it.

Content – Really, mostly violence. We hear about how battlefields run red with blood. Many characters are killed in battle or mortally wounded. Arthur cuts off heads of certain barbarians. There is one scene with Nimue or Morgian tries to seduce Pelleas. He senses something is not right and resists her.

Moving on Where’d You Go Bernadette?

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Genre – Travel, Family, Mother daughter relationship

Series – No

Rating – PG-13 for brief use of strong language and mention of an affair

Synopsis –

Bee’s parents had told her that if she got straight A’s in 8th grade, they’d grant her a wish. All Bee wants is a family trip to Antarctica. Her mom Bernadette freaks out at hearing this. Bernadette hates people and stays home as much as possible. However her and her husband, Elgie agree to take Bee to Antarctica. In order to prepare, Bernadette has her virtual assistant take care of everything from ordering supplies to getting an anti-nausea medication. Things start to derail when Bernadette disappears during an intervention. Where did she go?

My thoughts –

This is an epistolary novel told from Bee’s perspective, but also other characters as well. Bee is combining emails from her mom and putting them together to figure out where her mom went. It’s different odd and quirky all at the same time. I’m not a huge fan epistolary books, as most of the time, I find it hard to connect with the characters. However, I found myself rooting for Bernadette and really liking her relationship with her daughter.

I liked that we got to see the character’s flaws. Bernadette isn’t perfect, she argues with school moms and erects a sign prohibiting trespassing on her property. Bee struggles with her dad and they get into a pretty big fight. Elgie and Bernadette’s marriage is in a rough patch and to compensate that Elgie works more and more. All of this to say, Semple writes some very real characters. I don’t agree with some of the choices they make, but we are all sinners in need of grace. That stands out to me in this book.

There were several sections that dragged on and I had to keep pushing myself through. One part looks back at Bernadette’s life when she was an architect and we see all the hard work she put into 2 homes, one that was destroyed. This began her dislike of people and her escape from California. However, I really liked the end!! I brought things together and made me very happy!

Quotes

“The only way to get to Antarctica is by cruise ship. Even the smallest one has 150 passengers, which translates into me being trapped with 149 other people who will annoy the . . . out of me” (p. 10).

“Not a terrible thing to be getting out of the house while this infernal machine with spikes, telescoping arms and vicious rotors is chewing up my hillside” (p. 55).

Content – Language is used infrequently throughout, with several uses of strong language. Also, Elgie has an affair with his assistant. Bernadette figures it out, but wants to stay together and Elgie drops everything to find his wife.

Lastly, Crossing to Safety

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Genre – Marriage, Friendships

Series – No

Rating – PG

Synopsis –

Hmm, how to give this book a summary. Well, its a story of two families. Larry is looking back at his life and friendship with the Sid and Charity Lang, so we get alternating chapters of his life now vs their younger years. Larry and Sally Morgan have just moved for Larry’s job as an English professor at a university. They are dirt poor and not a friend for miles. They are newlyweds to boot. After a chance meeting with the Lang’s at a dinner party, the Morgan’s and Lang’s become fast friends. We see their friendship blossom throughout the years.

My Thoughts –

I honestly don’t remember how I found this book, but its been on my list to read for while now. While I was sick, this happened to be the book I worked my way though. Cannot say I really loved this one. Its a slow moving story, definitely focused on the characters and their lives. We see them go through losing a job, writing a book, and facing illness. It an intimate look at marriage and friendship and how they impact each other.

Of the characters, I liked Sally the best. She is a patient soul who endures much and remains content. Her friendship with Charity is sweet and these two women help each other through a lot. Charity is a very strong independent women who is very much in charge of the household with Sid just along for the ride. We see this impact their marriage. I liked Sid and there were times when I wanted him to stand up to Charity.

Wagner has very poetical style of writing. He describes the scenery constantly, some of it is very beautiful, but after a while, I kept thinking, ok, let’s move on. He does make you want to travel back in time to the 30’s and just take a walk in the woods or have a picnic like the Lang’s.

I have to say though, I absolutely hated the ending!! It left a very sour taste in my mouth. I kept saying, Why??? After all they have been through, that how you want to die?

I’ll leave you with a good quote

“Dew has soaked everything. I could wash my hands in the ferns, and when I pick a leaf off a maple branch I get a shower on my head and shoulders” (p. 5).

Conclusion –

For some reason, these three books keep popping up in my mind. They are each unique and they linger, making you think about them. By far, Arthur is my favorite of the three! We see a side of the Arthurian legend that we don’t normally get to see. There were several times in Where’d You Go Bernadette? that I laughed out loud. I appreciate a book that can make me laugh.

Have you ever had a book that sticks with you long after you finish the pages? Have you heard or read any of these books? What have you been reading this summer?

Anna

Up next – I am starting The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow.