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

Review for The Last Dragonslayer

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Genre – Fantasy, Contemporary, YA fiction

Series – First in The Chronicles of Kazam series

Rating – PG – for fantasy violence

Synopsis –

Working at Kazam has taught Jennifer Strange a fair amount about wizards and how to deal to them. After Mr. Zambini’s disappearance, Jennifer has also taken over managing the whole building. As a 15 year old founding, Jennifer has no clue who her parents were, but she is looking forward to finishing her indentureship upon turning 18. News begins spreading that the soothsayers have foreseen the last dragon dying. The dragonlands are surrounded by a force field that keeps everyone but the dragonslayer out. This leads to a flood of people If the dragonlands disappears then so will all the history behind the dragons. Jennifer decides to try to stop it.

My Thoughts –

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Sorry about the small hiatus, but things have picked up with work, so I haven’t been able to post as much as I’d like. I have had this post in the works for a couple weeks &I have to admit that I listened to this as an audiobook.

Going into it I had no expectations and was pleasantly surprised! The narrator was terrific, although some of her guy voices kinda ran together. The characters were quirky and odd, but enjoyable. It made me enjoy driving which is a statement right there. It takes a good audiobook to do that as you are constantly pausing every 20 minutes or so. In addition it was pretty clean, yet interesting enough that the whole family could enjoy it.

Jennifer was a strong character who was used to having the world on her shoulders. She was kind, truthful, and sometimes right to the point. Tiger was so sweet and I really wanted to see more of him, but since its a series hopefully he appears more later on. In all the other fantasy books I’ve read, dragons usually team up or are evil. This story was different. The dragons were kinda neutral, depending upon how you looked at it. They also were a minor part in the book.

Pacing was also well done, although a little bit predictable. I kinda saw who the last dragonslayer was from like a mile away. The ending though surprised me. I figured they would have to wrap it up quick and didn’t know how author would accomplish that. Kinda neat actually! (I’m Trying not to give away spoilers.) 😉

An overall theme was greed. Fforde really showed what can happen when man just keeps taking and taking. It was sad how many characters were affected by it. The truth came out in the end and we got some answers into why some of the characters did the things they did.

Violence – Minimal, one creature self sacrifices himself for Jennifer. Jennifer reluctantly uses her sword to kill a dragon (he actually asked her to do it). Cannon shots are fired.

Language – Maybe one or uses of a certain word

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

This was a very enjoyable audiobook!! I liked the characters and found myself pulled into the story & smiling at the wit & humor sprinkled throughout. Despite the fact that there was some magic, it was mostly kept to the foreground and didn’t really bother me too much. The perfect audio for family trip!!

Have you read this series? How is your summer’s going? Been able to read?

Anna

Review for That Hideous Strength

That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Christian fiction

Series – 3rd book in the Ransom trilogy

Rating – PG-13 for strong violence and language

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion –

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

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

Anna

Review of Perelandra

Perelandra by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Christian fiction

Series – 2nd book in the Ransom Trilogy

Rating – PG for violence and innuendo

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

Language – One use of mild language.

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

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

Conclusion –

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

Review for Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Christian fiction, Fantasy, Science fiction

Series – First book in Cosmic or Space Trilogy

Rating – PG for mild language and peril

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion –

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

Review for Taliesin

Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead

Genre – Fantasy, Science fiction, Historical fiction

Series – First book in The Pendragon Cycle

Rating – PG-13 for mild violence & innuendo, peril

Synopsis –

This is the tale of Merlin’s parents. First we meet Charis a daughter of one of the nine kings of Atlantis. Avallach, her father, is a wise and noble king, yet he faces a dilemma with one of the neighboring kings. This king issues a threat to Avallach. Charis is ignorant of the politics going on behind her father’s doors, and she is surprised when this enemy takes away something very important to her. Charis tries to overcome her grieve by becoming a bull dancer. Her troubles still follow her. Until she is faced with a choice: does she leave or stay? Meanwhile in other kingdom we find another king grooming his son, Elphin, to eventually take over. The clan member disagree as Elphin seems to walk into trouble wherever he goes. Until one day Elphin discovers an abandoned baby who brings joy to everyone around him. The baby is called Taliesin.

My Thoughts –

To start I wanted to say I have been so busy lately it has been a bit hard to post as much as I wanted to. I am hoping to do more soon.

And now back to the book 🙂 I really enjoyed this one. While it took me awhile to get through it, (not the books fault) I loved the way the author engages the reader. He writes in a way that draws you in and brings this story to life. I know I have talked a lot about the Arthurian legend, but this one is one of the best versions I have read. Its much better then the Once and Future king which was a bit disjointed. This flowed much smoother. Review for that book here: http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/06/19/review-for-the-once-and-future-king/

I have to mention the characters who were amazing!! Now in the first section, I cannot say that I liked Charis. She was pretty childish and naive, but she changes and grows up a bit. By the second section, I liked her a lot better! However, the two characters who I loved were Elphin and Taliesin. Elphin starts out an outcast to become a great leader among his people. I totally connected with this character. Taliesin was unique; he grows up too, but even when he is little, he has wisdom beyond his years. There was a side character who I also thought added to the story named Dyfed. He is one of the few believers in the book and brings some much needed changes.

I do want to mention that many of the characters follow a variety of gods/goddesses. The Britons follow the druids with their host of gods while the Atlanteans follow a multitude with Bel being the foremost god. The author depicts what they believe, but not in way that supports it. He shows how these false gods will get you nowhere. Later on he introduces Christians who spread the Gospel. We see how the one true God can bring light to the darkness and peace to someone who is distressed.

For the most part the plot had a pace to it and the climax did not feel rushed. I do have to say that I had an inkling to how it would end, but the author did it in a colorful and fresh way. The way Lawhead writes is lyrical almost. I always wanted to have the next chapter be continue with the same person’s story instead of jumping to the other person. However, I got used to it and just allowed myself to sit back and see where it led.

Language – None, except for one use of the word for donkey (used in that context not as expletive)

Violence – There was a minor amount. A few people are killed with maybe a handful of mentions related to blood. Mostly people who are wounded. A king is stabbed and dies. Reference to wars and battles with Irish/Pict. For the most part all battles are off the page. So we really only see the effects of the battles. Many people die when Atlantis sinks. A boat runs over small fishing boats which kills many people. A character dies from an arrow. A baby is born blue and almost dies, but it brought to life. Also, a women goes into early labor; she bleeds almost passes out. Later on once she has the baby mentions of blood on sheets. Most of this not detailed, just told that it happened in a very matter of fact way.

Innuendo – We have several couples get married. Two references to consummating a marriage. Several kisses, all after the couples are married. A married couple falls asleep together. Also, mentions of a mother nursing her baby or being placed on her breast to feed. (Again just Lawhead mentions it happened, but leaves it at that).

Conclusion –

I truly loved this book!! It has a defined plot line unlike King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I have read many of Lawhead’s other books and knew I enjoyed his writing style, and was not disappointed. There were so many beautiful sections! Also, we get to see a character’s redemption which was wonderful as we see how utterly lost this character is. I love it when author pull off a convicting and believable conversion. So many times it seems to just be out of the blue. Anyway, I highly recommend this book!! Especially if you enjoy a good fantasy or are looking to step foot in the Arthurian legend. I would probably say teen on up as I can see a middle schooler getting pretty bored. 😉

Review for Between Burning Worlds

Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Genre – Science Fiction, Les Miserables retelling

Series – Book 2 in the System Divine series

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and language

Synopsis –

It has been several weeks since we last saw Marcellus, Chatine, and Alouette. Things have gone from bad to worse for Chatine. She protected the mysterious group called the Vanguarde from General Bonnefacon, and because of that, she is sent to the remote prison, Bastille. She feels that there is no escaping from Bastille as it is an impenetrable place. Meanwhile Marcellus has joined the Vanguarde and is endeavoring to stop his grandfather from unleashing a new weapon upon the citizens of Laterre. Yet, General Bonnefacon figures out what Marcellus is up to and makes an attempt on Marcellus’s life. On the other side of the planet, Alouette is running away from her past. She has been lied to about her past; so she seeks answers that she so desperately needs. Will these three rebels find what they seek before a new enemy appears?

My Thoughts –

This book stood out compared to Sky without Stars as it felt more like it own story as opposed to a new version of Les Miserables. While Sky without Stars does a great job of setting the stage, Between Burning Worlds takes things a step farther. Honestly, it didn’t feel like the story of Les Miserables at all. There were maybe a few scenes that reminded me a bit like Les Miserables. Overall though I could just sit back and take it as new story which I loved.

There were so many good parts to this book. You are thrown into the plot at a brisk pace that keeps up through the majority of the book. There really weren’t any dull parts. Pacing was well done by the authors. The plot was also pretty intricate with lots of moving parts. Several twists occurred that surprised me as I had thought that I had it figured out. I didn’t. 😉

I enjoyed the characters quite a bit; they have grown up and changed since we last saw them. Marcellus is still my favorite character. He is likeable for a spoiled rich boy, but also fairly humble. He cares about his friends and bears their burdens on his own back. I still liked Alouette, but not as much as I did in the first book. Some of the secrets that she has uncovered have shaken her beliefs. It takes a while before she can recover. I like her quiet spirit, and how all the knowledge she has learned from the refuge has a purpose. I have to say that I like her and Marcellus together. Although it seems that the authors might do something different. I have mixed feelings about Chatine. I liked her developmental arc, but she still wasn’t my favorite.

I also appreciated Marcellus’s compassion for others including his evil grandfather as Marcellus hates violence and killing. There was one scene where I kept expecting Jolras to burst into singing “ABC Cafe”. 🙂

Language – Maybe 7 uses of mild swearing. Also, the authors made up some of their own expletives that our characters say including: fric and sols. Used infrequently throughout the book.

Violence – There is quite a bit of violence in this one. I kinda expected it as it is a retelling of a revolution. Lots of shooting with pulse like guns affecting your nerves that wears off in a couple hours. A character gets shot with bullets and bleeds. Mentions of fixing a machine that is similar to a guillotine expect with a lazer instead of blade. A character dies from this machine. There is another group called Red Scar that brands people with a lazer. The new weapon consists of manipulating people to hurt/kill other people. Happens several times and many people die because of it.

Innuendo – Less then the first book. You can kinda see that a couple characters like each other. But that is about it.

Also, there was a mention of 2 guys as a couple. Mention that they kissed. I was kinda upset about this as they were such minor characters. You could tell the authors did it to make a statement. I don’t agree with that particular lifestyle as the Bible speaks out against that particular behavior. Kinda sad they added it in there, but thankfully only maybe a sentence or two where it’s mentioned.

Other – Several mentions of blood bordals which is where a women is paid to have nutrients in the blood extracted from her. These nutrients end up going into the First Estaters facial creams. A character unwillingly has this happen to her.

Conclusion –

Despite the issues mentioned, I got swept up in the story. Some characters did grow on me, and the authors did a great describing this world. Made it feel like you were there with the characters. I truly liked Marcellus’s character; he had the perfect balance between being flawed, yet still making a difference. Not to say that there weren’t issues that bugged me, but overall I enjoyed it. I love it when an author is able to describe things in such a way that you can visualize it in your head. These authors accomplish this. Age range probably older teens to young adult as book is over 600 pages plus content issues.

How are your summers going? Any exciting books being read? Looking forward to hearing from you all!!

Anna

Review for The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King by T. H. White

Genre – Fantasy, Romance, Classic

Stand-alone novel

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and mild innuendo

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion –

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

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

Review for The Tale of Briar Bank

The Tale of Briar Bank by Susan Wittig Albert

Genre – Historical fiction, Mystery, Fantasy

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

Rating – PG – Peril and mild violence

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

Language – None

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

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

Conclusion –

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

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

Review for War of Swords

War of Swords by D. Barkley Briggs

Genre – Christian fiction, fantasy, YA

Series – 5th & final book in the Legends of Karac Tor

Rating – PG for violence and scary creatures

Synopsis –

The four Barlow brothers have been in Karac Tor for 2 years now. They have all grown up so much since following the ravens through the tunnel. They are about to enter into a battle not only to fight for their lives, but for the whole realm. Kr’Nunos is assembling an army of twisted and evil creatures to ransack and take over the land. As the Barlow’s fight for their lives, they are about to confront their greatest fear – losing someone they love. Will these brothers be able to stand firm against the incoming onslaught?

My Thoughts –

Yea!! I finally finished this series!! It took me a while to finish this. I think I started this series back in the summer of last year. Now that the library is somewhat open, I can now finally get books!! Anyway, this was an interesting conclusion to this series.

Honestly, I did not remember many of the characters as it has been awhile since I read the previous books. So I was a little lost. I spent a good chunk of the book trying to remember who everyone was. Weirdly enough, the author did not summarize what had happened previously. There were a couple characters I still don’t remember how they met the main characters. Also, I believe there is a gap between this book and previous one as now it has been 2-3 years since the first book. The author did provide a glossary of names at the back of the book which helped a lot.

One thing I really like about this series is that it incorporates the Arthurian legend. We have Arthur, and a mention of Tal Yssen (basically Merlin). I have kinda been on a Arthurian legend binge what with watching Merlin and recently reading a couple different stories. So I enjoyed Arthur being a key person in this story.

Of the brothers, I really only connected with Hadyn and Ewan Barlow. I think part of the reason that I didn’t like Gabe or Garret was they just felt soo young. There were a couple sections where the writing felt like it was aimed at middle-schoolers. I can’t quite put my finger on it, it just felt childish at times. Maybe I am just getting used to reading high fantasy. I don’t know.

The allegory was strong in this one. Pun intended. 😉 Aion (basically a Jesus character) is the high prince of Isgurd (heaven). His followers have to trust him despite Aion being across the sea. Kr’Nunos was a Satan like character. He had corrupted certain people groups who before the song had turned their backs on Aion. Bits of it reminded me of the last book in the Left Behind series. As it is the final battle.

Language – None

Violence – As there are battles throughout the book, there are some descriptions of the fights. Most of these descriptions are well kept within a PG rating though. Many characters get wounded/die. A couple mentions of the ground being covered with blood. There is a sea battle where ships get destroyed by a hurricane/ bombs. Characters shoot arrows/get shot by arrows. Several descriptions of the evil creatures called Goths and Ravers and their powers.

Innuendo – Very little, a few kisses between a few couples. One couple gets married.

Conclusion –

This was a great conclusion to this series. It feels so good to have finished this series. There were some great themes like loyalty, faith, and sacrifice. Most of the characters stood for what was right despite difficult situations. I would have no problem giving this to a middle-schooler or teen. If you are looking for a new fantasy series to read, this one would be a great choice.

Have you heard of this series? Which is your favorite book? How is your May going?