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! 😉 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. 😉

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. 🙂

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.

Review for Beowolf

Beowolf

Author unknown, translated by Seamus Heaney

Genre – Medieval Epic, Fiction, Poem

Series – No

Rating – PG- for battles with monsters

Age Range – Adult

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

confused where are we GIF

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

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

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

Quotes –

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

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

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

Language – None

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

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

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

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

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

Anna

Two YA fiction Books I’ve Finished

So, after Ender’s Game, I wanted something light and breezy. These two books were a nice break from heavy topics and were just what I needed. I had seen the first two movies in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. So wanted to give it a try. Now, normally I don’t read romance novels as they seem to be so formulaic and boring. I finished To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before first so I’ll talk about that one and move to The False Prince.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Genre – Romance, YA, Growing-up

Series – First book in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy

Rating – PG-13 for innuendo and language

Synopsis –

The three Song girls were supposed to stay together forever. Yet, when Margot the oldest Song girl leaves for college in Scotland, Laura Jean feels devastated. After losing their mom at a young age, the three sisters – Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty form a close bond. So, after Margot’s move Lara Jean decides to try her best to fill Margot’s shoes. Unfortunately, someone sends out her secret love letters that she has kept hidden in a box for years. This causes her life at school to tilt on its axis. What will she do?

My Thoughts –

I enjoyed the movie and thought it was cute. I have seen this book pop up on several blogs and was curious just closely the movie followed it. In between work I wolfed the book down in four days. There were parts of the book that I truly liked better then the movie – All the baking, Kitty, Margot’s relationship with her sisters, their dad.

To be honest, I feel a lot like Lara Jean at times. She is a homebody who is close to her sisters and does well at school. I loved how the author incorporated cooking throughout the book. Lara Jean made some amazing sounding cookies and cupcakes. Made me hungry just reading it. However she could be naive and very dreamy at times. She reminded me a bit of Anne from Anne from Green Gables. Where she has these high expectations of having a boyfriend, only to find it isn’t quite what she expected.

Kitty was hilarious and totally the baby of the family. I loved how supportive their dad was and wanting to be apart of their lives. So many YA books showcase poor parenting, and nice to see a strong dad character. I didn’t really care for Josh, he seemed nice, but more for Margot then Lara Jean. Peter was a bit of a toss up. There were times when I really liked him and how he treated Kitty kindly, but other times Peter was very insecure which bothered me.

Favorite Quote – “I’m a betrayer of the worse kind, because I’m betraying my own sister, and there’s no greater betrayal then that.”

Content – Lara Jean mentions at one point how she and Margot were waiting to do it, until they were older or married. However there is talk at school at her school about who is having sex with who. No descriptions though. Lara Jean asks Margot some questions about it later on. Lara Jean kisses Peter in a hot tub. As well as mild language used throughout, with three occasions of strong language.

The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen

Genre – Fantasy, YA, Coming of Age

Rating – PG – for mild sword duel violence

Synopsis –

In the land of Carthya, civil war is about to erupt after the king, queen, and princes death. So one of the regents comes up with a plan to stick a false prince upon the throne. He collects four orphans to train and teach how to be royalty. The only problem, Sage has no wish to be a prince. He is a poor orphan who loves his freedom. Conner meanwhile has plan to break Sage and the others down to do his will. If they don’t become the prince, he will kill them. Sage must make a choice to either obey Conner and save his life, but lose the freedom he holds so dear or disobey and lose his life.

My Thoughts –

Honestly, it was an interesting premise, however it was a bit slow and predictable. I love fantasy and wanted to give this one a chance. It did pick up a bit toward the end and resolved well. I kinda saw the surprise at the end coming though.

At the start Sage got on my nerves for his resistance of authority, but later I came to understand where he was coming from. He did grow on me. I liked Rohen, Imogen, and Mott. Mott being my favorite. He was the only one who saw through Sage’s facade and showed some kindness to the boys. I had difficulty figuring out where Conner stood whether he was evil or just a flawed character. I was impressed at how Imogen was able to pretend to be mute.

Really, the one complaint I have with the author, was how she told us everything as opposed to showing us. I mean we had to tell us all the details of just how Jaron survived. I wished she could have done it more subtly. Wasn’t bad, pretty decent, but not the best either.

Content – one character is shot with an arrow and dies, several sword fights, Sage gets sliced by sword, and beaten by Conner with a whip.

Conclusion –

I’ve been trying to keep my reading up although at times, it feels like I’m forcing myself to keep going. Thankfully, these two books were light and breezy enough, they were just what I needed!! I liked both in different ways and glad I gave them go.

Up Next – I’ll be trying I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, although honestly, not super excited for this. 🙂 Then I’ll finish the TAtBILB series with Always and Forever.

Over to you guys, what have you been reading recently? Have you read either of these books? Hope your spring is going well!

Anna

Review for Merlin

Merlin by Stephan Lawhead

Genre – Christian, Fantasy, Historical fiction

Series – 2nd book in The Pendragon Cycle

Rating – PG-13 for violent battles

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

Excited Season 2 GIF by The Office

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

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

I wanted to add a new section for favorite quotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion –

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

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

Review for Caraval

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Genre – Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Series – 1st book in the Caraval series

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and innuendo

Synopsis –

Scarlet and Tella have lived on their tiny island of Trisda for their whole lives due to their father’s strict rules. Scarlet is preparing for her marriage to a count, meanwhile Tella has created a scheme to escape their island for good. Scarlet is abhorred at the thought of leaving, yet with a sailor’s help, Tella’s plan works and they arrive in time for Legend’s Caraval, a wonderful game lasting 5 nights where dreams and fantasies seem to come alive. Upon arrival, the sisters are separated. Scarlet makes it her goal to win the game and save her sister, but the game becomes very real, very fast. Will Scarlet be able to tell what is real or become lost in the land of fantasy?

My Thoughts –

Well, mid-January I kinda hit a reading slump. I’ve started some longer books like The Count of Monte Cristo and Hood which has slowed me down. Not to say that I’m not enjoying these books, but it takes a good amount time to sit and become enthralled with these stories. So, I decided to try a new book and was pleasantly surprised.

I had never heard of Caraval or Stephanie Garber before reading this book. It started a bit slow as I stepped into this mysterious world. Garber has a way of sweeping you off your feet with glittering descriptions and dazzling characters that felt just a bit like The Phantom of the Opera with a secret villain/hero who invisibly pulls the strings expertly. I enjoyed the whole mystery surrounding Legend and Scarlet’s Nana.

The characters were set in a beautiful world, yet seemed to lack something. I did enjoy a few like Julian and Scarlet, but the rest seemed to fade in the background at times. I wanted to like Tella, but she got on my nerves more often then not that I came to dislike her. Although the end helped me to like her better. *note* I’ve read the second book Legendary, and still dislike Tella so not just the setting. Julian was quit the swashbuckling rogue, that eventually won me over to his side. Scarlet was my favorite! I appreciated that the author gave her flaws and that she wasn’t perfect. Yes, she wanted to save her sister, but she also became lost and indecisive on how to precede. Julian and Scarlet did make a cute couple. 😉

Garber has a way with words and knows how to make things sparkle with color and delightful descriptions. You truly want to go visit Caraval and join the game. Yet, with all this word building, the world felt a little flat. I didn’t feel like she explained her world very well. Just sorta jumped right into the action. I wanted a little history. The plot is very action oriented and moves rapidly which makes it hard to put down.

I loved the idea of a game that takes place once a year and never in the same location twice. The actors switching roles every game was a neat little trick. Because of this, the actors couldn’t reveal certain information like who Legend is or key parts to the clues. Which lead to several actors having to lie to Scarlet about who they were. Although I didn’t appreciate all the lying that happened. We did end up seeing how lies can be harmful.

Language – Mild- maybe one or two uses of mild language, used pretty sparingly

Violence – Um, yeah, well there was violence kinda throughout. We have several characters die mostly off the page, but one that I’ll talk about later we see happen. Scarlet’s father was abusive to the girls growing up. If one disobeyed, the other sister was punished. At the beginning, we see him hit Tella. As a consequence for Scarlet trying to get a clue, she pays for it with a day of her life. She almost dies if not for Julian giving her some of his blood. Blood has power in the book. At the end, Tella falls off a tower dying instead of going to Trisda with her father. Turns out it was all it was all a plan, and through Scarlet’s love, comes back to life.

Innuendo – At the start we find Julian and Tella kissing in a cellar. Although Tella is just using him to get to Caraval and doesn’t truly care for him. Julian also was trying to orchestrate the girls coming to Caraval. Scarlet begins to fall for Julian during her stay in Caraval. There is a mix-up with their bedroom which only has one bed. Scarlet refuses to sleep in the same room as Julian. They share a passionate kiss after he saves her life.

Conclusion –

It was a frothy book filled with colors and imagination that you can almost taste. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed Caraval quite a bit and eagerly moved to the second one, (which is no where near as good as the first). The characters were flat at times, but also mysterious. For picking up a random book off a bookstore’s shelf, I enjoyed it.

Up next, I’ll be finishing Hood and continuing my reread of The Count of Monte Cristo.

Can you believe that January is almost over!? What have you been reading this month? Any fun new reads?

Anna

Marvel Cinematic Universe Tag

I am finally getting around to participating in this Marvel Blogathon hosted by Miss Woodhouse –http://notesfromahartfieldgirl.blogspot.com/ and Winchester North Star – https://www.thewinchesternorthstar.net/2020/12/tag-of-ten-mcu-bolgathon.html. Thank you guys for hosting this!! What a fun event!! Throughout the month of January they are reviewing favorite characters, movies and superpowers. For my contribution, I will be doing the tag of ten!! Whohoo!!

Just a heads up there are spoilers throughout this post. So here we go!

1. What is Your Favorite Movie?

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Hmm, this is a hard one. I have several contenders: Doctor Strange, Endgame, & Ant-Man. Visually, Doctor Strange is stunning, both odd and cool at the same time. Plus an amazing character arc! Endgame is well the endgame. A culmination of all the movies. Ant-man is just hilarious! Well, I’m gonna say Doctor Strange just cause I feel like everyone will say Endgame.

2. What is Your Favorite Stan Lee Cameo?

Honestly, the one that made me laugh the hardest was his appearance in Captain America Civil War “Are you Tony Stank?” 🙂 It’s perfect way to close an intense and emotional movie.

3. Who is Your Favorite Character from the Original Six?

It’s between Hawkeye and Captain America. Although, we don’t get much screen time with Hawkeye in movies, what we do see is that he is a wonderful father and husband. He quits being an avenger to stay home and be with them. On the battlefield he is focused and precise while also giving advice to those who need it. Cap is a stand up guy trying to do the right thing for his friends. He will have your back no matter what and will take risks if it means saving a friend in trouble * cough * looking at you Bucky.

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4. Who is Your Favorite Sidekick (characters not from the Original Six who don’t have their own movie)?

It’s got to be Luis!! He is such a funny character and supports Scott Lang albeit in a bit of an odd way. Luis goes from being a hacker/bugler to forming a security agency. I really wanted Luis to do a recap of all the movies for Endgame, but that didn’t happen.

5. What is the Funniest Moment?

There are so many funny moments throughout these movie. Hmm, oh I remember one. Get Help! Loki and Thor are having a conversation in an elevator before a battle and Thor suggests they “Let’s do Get Help.” Loki is adamantly against it. Yet, we get this is hilarious scene of Thor throwing Loki at an assailant. Priceless!!

6. Who is Your Favorite Villain?

Loki, that’s easy! He is a conflicted villain who at times you kinda feel sorry for. Then at the beginning of Infinity War we get a powerful redemptive moment with Loki and Thor. While no where near as power as Thanos, Loki has some charm.

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7. What is Your Favorite Power or Technology?

The time stone is unique and would be fun to use! I think it would be a lot of fun to travel around in time. Although, being careful about not upsetting the different realities. 😉 So yeah, that’s my favorite.

8. What is Your Favorite Sequel (no trilogies!)?

What a hard question! Hmm, Spider-Man Far From Home is the best so far. Ned and Peter learn some life lessons and begin to grow. After Endgame, it held up quite well, & even had some surprises. Mysterio made for a pretty decent villain. Although the Spider-Man Homecoming was better in my opinion.

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9. What are Your Favorite End Credits? Or End Credit’s Scene?

Honestly, I’m drawing a blank on end credit scenes. So much for staying in the theaters, waiting patiently for such short scenes that I can’t remember . ;)I remember the scene in Doctor Strange caused more questions then answers. So I’m just going to use that one.

10. Who is Your Favorite Ship?

So, I have three! The first is not cannon with the movies. Peggy and Daniel Sousa. This is from Agent Carter a show that takes place after WW2 and we see what Peggy does after finding out Captain America supposed death. I liked their chemistry and to me it makes more sense for her to have gotten married. Like is suggested in Captain America Winter Soldier as apposed to Endgame. I know lots of people like Peggy and Cap, but I think it would have upset a whole timeline having him stay.

Also Dr. Strange and Christine! I thought they made a cute couple. Plus, what a way to come back after a break-up, almost dying.

lincoln, Marvel, and shield image

The other ship is Daisy and Lincoln from Agent’s of Shield. They worked so well together!! Ugh, so mad they killed him off, but at the same time quite a sacrifice.

Anyway, that’s my contribution to this Blogathan!! Hope you enjoyed it!!

What’s your favorite Marvel Movie? Have a favorite sidekick or ship?

Anna

Review for Nova

Nova by Chuck Black

Genre – Christian Fiction, Fantasy, & Sci-fi

Series – 1st in The Starlore Legacy

Rating – PG – for science fiction related battles and violence

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

Language – None

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

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

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

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

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

Anna

2020 in Review

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

Now on to some of my favorite books!!

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#6 Offworld by Robin Perrish

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

#5 Flight of Angels by Allen and Aaron Reini

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

#4 Maze Runner by James Dashner

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

#3 Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

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

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


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

And my favorite book of this year is …….

#1 Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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

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

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

Anna

Tolkien 2020 Blog Party

Hooray!! Its the Tolkien Blog party! Last year I just kinda watched as it was my first year blogging, but this year I thought it would be fun to participate in the tag questions! So here we go!

First I wanted to thank Hamlette for hosting! Check out her blog post here to find other post: https://theedgeoftheprecipice.blogspot.com/2020/09/a-tolkien-blog-party-2020-kick-off-post.html

1. What Tolkien character do you think you’re the most like?

Honestly, I would have to say Bilbo as I am not a fan of big changes and prefer to stay in my comfy abode to read. Although with a little pushing, I can be convinced to explore the outside world 😉

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2. What Tolkien character do you wish you were more like?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. After my reread of the LOTR last year, Faramir comes to mind. He has a lot of quality character traits that I hadn’t picked up on before like leadership, trust, resisting evil. So, yeah, that is who I’ll pick.

3. What would your dream home in Middle-earth be like?

I am conflicted with this one. I would love to live in the shire, but I think I’d also like to be in view of the mountains. Ah, I know, I would live in Rohan!! You get the mountains and a land known for their horses. Perfect!

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4. You get to make a movie of the story of Beren and Luthien!  Who do you cast as the leads? I think Emily Blunt would make a good Luthien, she could be very elf like & mysterious *cough* Mary Poppins 😉

Now for Beren … oddly enough Chris Evens comes to mind. I think he could be a good Beren. I’m thinking of his role as Captain America. He goes out and gets things done. So I could see him playing a character who risks his life, several times, for the one he loves.

That’s who I would cast. Kinda fun to pick and choose who you would cast for a role, especially since no one has ever attempted The Silmarillion.

5. Have you ever marathoned the LOTR or Hobbit movies?

Yes, I have done so a couple times. Before The Battle of Five Armies came out we watched the first 2 Hobbits over the course of a day. It worked really well! Then a couple years later, we marathoned the movies over several days. You pick up on certain details that I miss when I watch them separately.

6. Do you have a favorite song or track from the movie soundtracks by Howard Shore?

I love the “Concerning Hobbits” soundtrack, but I also really like “The Misty Mountains” song. Oh, cannot forget “The Last Goodbye”!! So many good songs to pick from!!

7. Which of Tolkien’s characters would you like to be best friends with?

Either Legolas or Samwise. Legolas becomes Gimli’s friend overcoming some prejudice and they become so close! I always loved their friendship, but I love Samwise’s loyalty!

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8. Who of the people in your real life would you want in your company if you had to take the ring to Mordor?

I would have to say my siblings. We all each have are own skill set, although not really any survival skills, 😉 but I think it would be like a fun road-trip.

9. Have you read any of Tolkien’s non-Middle-earth works?

Yes, I have read several: Roverandom, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – which I think Tolkien translated, Farmer Giles of Ham, Leaf by Niggle & Smith of Wooton Major.
10. Is there a book by Tolkien you haven’t read yet, but want to?

Yes, I still want to read Beren and Luthien & maybe The Children of Hurin.

lord of the rings GIF by Maudit

Well, that is it!! This was a lot of fun! Nice to have a break from the normal blog posts and do something fun like a blog party!! What are your thoughts on the tag questions?

Anna