Summer Book Review

Wow! It’s hard to believe that August is already upon us! My summer has flown by and honestly, been a bit slow on the reading front. My brother got married in June which was exciting. A lot of thought and preparation went into the wedding. It surprised me how many little details were involved.

Season 3 Netflix GIF by Stranger Things

Anyway, I have a few books that I’ve finished and have been simmering on the brain. One of which I still can’t decide whether I liked it or not.

Let’s begin!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)

Genre – Fantasy

Series – Harry Potter Book 5

Age – YA

Rating – PG-13 for violence

This has been my year for reading my way through the Harry Potter books. I’ve found these to be very enjoyable, especially via audiobook as Jim Dale does a great job creating voices for the characters.

Most people have at least heard of these books. This has been my first go. Honestly, been surprised by them as I was excepting flimsy writing and childish characters. By The Order of the Phoenix, I’ve grown to like so many of the characters. The story has progressed and become more complex throughout the books.

What I Liked –

~Fred and George’s Antics – When Harry gave them his winnings from the tournament, I was excited to see what they’d do with it. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes such a good joke shop name. I love the twins! They provide the levity needed to brighten the dark tone.

~Neville’s Parents – We finally find out what happened to Neville’s parents. It’s heartbreaking, but reveals Neville’s loyalty. Plus, nice to see Neville actually succeed in the D. A. meetings. He fought so hard to master the defensive charms. Also, mimbulus mimbletonia. 😉

~The D. A. meetings – These provided some of the best moments in the book. These students actually took to learning on their own, and they were able to hide it from the rest of the school.

~ Mentor Lupin – It has taken me a while, but I’ve decided that Lupin is my favorite character. He is gentle with Harry, and yet, speaks to him like a man. Lupin gives us some insight into what Harry’s father was like. We also see his struggles as well.

~Snape’s background – Although a brief snippet, we come to understand why Snape has such a strong hatred for Potter. I felt sorry for him. Hoping we get to see more of his past. Maybe a softening between Harry and Snape?

Dislikes –

~ Harry’s Emotions – My goodness! This boy goes through so many! The author especially shows his anger. I’m glad we find out why, but on the whole I thought Harry was very whiny. I wanted to smack him on the head and tell him to buck up.

~ Tea with Cho – On the whole, I don’t mind Cho. However, I can’t say she worked well with Harry. Her relationship with him felt forced and more admiring what he did for Cedric.

Quotes –

“Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, t0 be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing, Potter . . . or at least, most minds are. . .” He smirked” (P. 530).

“”It was worth it though,” said Fred, who was taking order from clamoring Gryffindors. “If you want to add your name to the waiting list, Herminone, it’s five Galleons for your Basic Blaze box and twenty for the Deflagration Deluxe. . . .” (P. 634).

Up next:

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger

Ordinary Grace

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger

Genre – Historical Fiction, Mystery, Coming of Age

Age – Adult

Rating – PG-13 for innuendo and violence

I was browsing at Barnes & Noble and stumbled across this book. A couple years ago I’d read one of Kruger’s other books called This Tender Land. It was unique and left a imprint on me. So, I was curious about this one set in the 60’s.

Ordinary Grace tells the story is told from the perspective of Frank Drum, a preacher kid. Frank and his brother Jake enter a summer that will change both of their lives. A string of deaths will test what really holds a family together and see how grief effects lives differently.

Likes –

~ Characters – Kruger has way of speaking directly to you through his characters. Frank is your typical 13 year old boy, and despite his tendency for trouble, he loves his family. Jake was a character painted in subtle tones, but we we see his wisdom and maturity for his age. Also, really liked Nathan, their dad. The author shows respect for the position of a pastor. Nathan loves his congregation and desires to see them grow. Plus there is Gus, hard not to like him, although he is stubborn as a mule.

~Small Town – You can tell the author grew up in the Midwest. He captures life in a rural town so well: The barber shop meet zone, railroad tracks, even the quarry swimming hole.

~Mystery – The four deaths that rock this town to the core are each complex. Some of them we never do get a reason why they occurred. This felt realistic, sometimes we don’t get all the answers.

~Ending – For me the epilogue really sealed the deal. I loved the time jump and seeing Frank and Jake as adults brought closure to the story.

Dislikes –

~Karl Brandt -His secret, while it explained Ariel’s behavior, felt unnecessary.

~ The whole Emil Brandt situation – just no.

Quotes –

“In my own life, the two trains of this problem are the summer of 1961 and the present. And they collide every year on memorial day in the cemetery in New Brennen” (P. 301).

“I just wasn’t afraid anymore. I mean, maybe nobody else would even think of it like a miracle, but for me it felt that way. . . If we put everything in God’s hands, maybe we don’t any of us have to be afraid anymore” (P. 282).

Next: A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

By Norman Maclean

Genre – Historical Fiction

Age – Adult

Rating – PG for some mild innuendo

I saw the movie a while back and was curious to see if the book was much different. It is very much a summer book as most it discusses fly fishing. It tells the story of the Maclean family, Norman and Paul grow up in Montana are the sons of a Presbyterian minister. Fishing is their way of life. Norman eventually becomes a teacher, while Paul a reporter. Its small stories that are all connected.

I struggled with the fly fishing sections as most of it went over my head. I’ve only been fishing a handful of times and those using worms as bait. For me I struggled to visualize certain movements. However, I can appreciate that fly fishing is an art form that takes years to master.

I loved learning about Norman and Paul’s upbringing, how they were taught. Their father seemed to be a hard man to please. Fishing was something that brought the three together. I believe most of the book was based upon the author’s real life. It does make me want to go visit Montana and fish by the river.

Quotes:

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” (P. 1)

“As a Scot and a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a mess and had fallen from an original state of grace” (P. 2).

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all things – trout as well as salvation come by grace” (P. 85).

Lastly: A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

Genre – Contemporary fiction

Rating – PG-13 for language and attempts of suicide

I’ve read two previous books by Backman: Brit Marie was Here and Deal of a Lifetime, and have found him to be a decent writer. Brit Marie was different, a breath of fresh air. After finishing an audiobook, I was on the hunt for something new. Decided to try this Backman book as it had high reviews.

To be honest, I still have an hour left, 😉 but I have really enjoyed Ove so far. Backman really knows how to make characters that speak to your soul. They are relatable and he doesn’t shy away from showing the sad parts of life.

Ove is a fifty some year old curmudgeon who has has had enough of life. He just wants to die. He tidies his house and does his morning inspection of the neighborhood for burglars and rule breakers before prepping to install a screw in the ceiling. During his inspection, he sees the new neighbors who have moved in: a husband and his Iranian wife & kids. Ove is not impressed. Through a series of events, Ove’s neighbors show him a brighter side of life and that one is needed.

We find out about Ove’s past through a series of flashbacks. We hear how he met his wife, their trials medically, and her death. Ove was truly dedicated to his wife. She brought a ray of sunshine into his life.

I know it sounds like a depressing and sad read, but it isn’t. In fact, I have found myself laughing as I’m driving. Parvaneh cracks me up. She can be just as sarcastic as Ove. Puts a smile on my face before I head to work. While Ove has a crusty outside, we see how he defended Sonja or how he helps the neighbors. His friendship with Rune really shows how much time can sneak by without us realizing it.

Now, he does attempt to kill himself three times. However, each time, he is interrupted by a doorbell or someone who needs his help. He begrudgingly does, and each time there is humor regarding Ove’s situation.

My one complaint is the gay character that gets stuck in towards the end. He doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the book and feels more like a statement.

Quotes –

“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”

“He was a man of black and white. And she was color. All the color he had.”

“It’s been six months since she died. But Ove still inspects the whole house twice a day to feel the radiators and check that she hasn’t sneakily turned up the heating.”

Soon, I’m hoping to finish Can’t Hurt Me by David Groggins.

Have you heard of any of these books? How is your summer reading going? What have you enjoyed reading?

That’s all for now!

Happy August!

In Which I Rave about Mirror of Souls

If you’ve read very many of my posts, you’ve probably figured out that I dig fantasy. Probably started when I was little. My mom read aloud a variety of books including Narnia, Wind in the Willows, and The Secret Garden to me and my siblings. Fantasy has a way of sparking the imagination of children and adults alike. It takes real concepts like faith, love, betrayal and spins them in way to be more palpable. As well as introduce you to new worlds and peoples.

Long story short, I remember the first time I found one of Batson’s books at a bookstore and bringing it home. Even just the cover was appealing. It was The Door Within. From there spawned a new fan who avidly devoured whatever series came next. One Christmas my grandparents gifted me with The Sword in the Stars, the original version from 2011. Of all his books, this was and is my favorite. The Myridian Constellation series feels deeper then some of his previous works. We have dark villains who last for multiple books and heroes who die. This is his latest installment, and it did not disappoint.

Mirror of Souls by Wayne Thomas Batson

Genre – Fantasy, Christian Fiction

Series – Book 4 in The Myriadian Constellation

Rating – PG-13 for violence and foul creatures

Synopsis –

Myriad is in ruins as Morlan Stormgarden has conquered most of the continent. Recently coming back from a brutal war eradicating the Gorrack nation, Morlan considers himself invincible. Locklan Stormgarden has other plans. He has quietly been growing an army to try to depose his evil uncle and to take back his rightful throne. Meanwhile Abbagael Coldhollow is recovering from the birth of her baby, Jak. She is disquieted and believes her lost husband, Alastair is still alive somewhere. Abbagael sets out to find him, even if it costs her everything she has. Telwyn is taking up the mantle of being the Halfainin which means he must sacrifice himself for his friends safety.

My Thoughts

I’ll be honest my synopsis does not do the book justice. Also bear in mind this being the fourth book, lots of stuff has happened previously. I do recommend starting in order. I even struggled at the beginning remembering where everyone was at and what they were doing. Been too long since I read the previous book. 😉

Shocked The Lord Of The Rings GIF by Maudit

I kinda looked like this as I red. Trying to put all the pieces together.

Anyway, let’s talk about what I liked.

Batson is the king of throwing twists and turns into a story. There were several throughout this book. A few I had anticipated, while others surprised me. He has a way of building the story and climax as to hold your attention. Some authors you reach the climax and could care less what happens to the characters. Not with Batson. The last two chapters were so hard! Why!? He ends it on several cliffhangers. I wish there was more to read. Oh, well. I’ll probably have to wait.

I honestly think his characters are some of the strongest I’ve read. He isn’t afraid to show you their dark side whether that be alcoholism or craving power. We see quite a bit from Morlan’s perspective which can be gritty. He truly wants absolute power. My absolute favorite character is Alastair Coldhollow! A few books back, he left the main story and his fate was unknown. Very much hoping Batson hasn’t ruined my favorite! Abbagael has grown on me especially in these last two books. She has a fire to her and a strong moral compass. Telwyn also is becoming a man who speaks truth. He is a Jesus like character, several moments were very touching and had me almost in tears!

Loch has never been a favorite of mine, but he does some soul searching and I am looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for him. We had some new additions Xerk & Strylun who are very viking like and I enjoyed seeing some new faces. In fact I am curious if these are same two characters that Batson had written a short story for a few years ago? Anybody know??

We are introduced to a new part of Myriad which is fun. Plus a sea turtle that has a mountain on his back!!! It’s why I love fantasy, literally anything can come to life.

There are two scenes are really loved!! One being Telywn and Morlan’s showdown. So good to see Morlan get a taste of his own medicine. Telywn is completly good and can handle almost anything. They also throw snide comments at each other which was kinda funny. Second, Telwyn revealing himself to Loch. Very emotional!

Batson is a believer so he weaves Christian themes throughout most of his books which is super cool. Self-sacrifice is a big one as well as loyalty, & perseverance. We saw the coming of the Halfainin, basically a Jesus type character, in the first book The Sword in the Stars. Here we see his death and how it breaks the death key. Also, Loch sees himself in mirrors revealing just how sinful he was. Love the picture of a chasm that he cannot cross, but Telwyn made a way.

My one dislike was that it took awhile to get going. This could all me on me. As I felt out of the loop, but I struggled actually getting into it. After the first 100 pages though things started clicking.

Quotes –

“Jak Alastair Coldhollow, you are a gift from the First One, and I love you with all my heart. Your father loved you, loves you too, but he has gone missing. I have to go and find him. It’s not fair, I know to leave you so soon.” (p. 92)

“Abbagael stares out over the black water. “I think I’m going to need to pray. . . a lot more.” “And we will pray for you even as we return to Willowdell,” Alec said. “The Maker of the Stars is worthy of your trust. Let Him be your compass.”” (p. 113).

“That is purity, Morlan” Telwyn declared. “It consumes your wickedness, and by that, I mean… it consumes you.” (p. 156).

Content – No language, a few suggestive comments here and there, but not much else. Now violence is a biggy. We see just how truly evil Morlan is as he has stolen gifts from people and uses it to kill any who oppose him. Also, quite a bit of blood in certain sections. Morlan literally liquidizes his enemies’ blood. Cythraul too can be quite cruel.

Conclusion

The book ended sooner then I had expected with the last chunk being a short story about how Alastair leaves behind his life as an assassin. For me that was nice surprise. It is hinted at in the previous books, but never fully revealed until now. Overall this is an intense story filled with flawed heroes trying to do what is right. The mark of good author is when you can tune out the world around you and be totally swept away by the story. Where it feels like you are in it. This happened for me. I do highly recommend this series!! I feel like I will be doing some rereading soon!

Have you read this series? Or maybe some of the authors other works? Who do you like/dislike? Why?

Up next – Before I read my next Christmas book, I need to read – A Short History of Canada for book club.

Anna

2021 Books in Review

Well folks, we are closing in on the finish of 2021 with only one more day left. Overall this has been a hard year. Started a new job in June which has its ups and downs. Then at the beginning of August I got Covid which was rather unpleasant. At least now I can say I had it and recovered. So, as we think about what the future holds, I have been thinking back to the books and movies I’ve seen this year. My total was 60 books!!! I’m just going to list my top favorites. A lot of these books you’ve probably heard me talk about before, but they are favorites for a reason. 😉

Let’s start with the books!!

fox films book GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

#8 Caraval by Stephanie Garber – Fantasy- Review for Caraval

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

Caraval is like entering a circus for your brain. It’s glittery and vibrant. Has some good messages about family, although quite a bit of innuendo. I liked the first one, however the next two books lost some of the magic and I didn’t end up liking the characters.

#7 Greenwillow – Fantasy, fiction – Review for Greenwillow

Greenwillow

I’d seen this book quite a bit from different bloggers. Reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables which I loved! Simple life of a family and a small rural town. Good for if you need something light-hearted! Will make you laugh!

#6 The Power of One by Bryce Courtney – historical fiction

The Power of One (The Power of One, #1)

This was a spring read for our book club. I’d never heard of this author before, but ended up liking more then I expected. Taken from the author’s experience as a kid growing up in South Africa. Covers some tough themes – bullying, loss, abandonment

#5 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Sci-fi – Review for Ender’s Game

At the beginning of the year, I had looked up clasic science fiction. Ender’s Game was one of the ones on the top of the list. It’s unique and takes a look at how far the government will go to beat a supposed enemy, including manipulating kids. Gives a lot to think about. Ender is a complex character who has flaws, but you sympathize with him.

#5 Les Miserables – Historical fiction – Review for Les Miserables

Les Misérables

I have listened this music ever since I was little as it is my grandma’s favorite musical. I’ve read an adapted version and knew I should go for the unabridged. It’s lengthy, and the author deviates a lot, however, the story of redemption is well worth it. Jean Valjean alone is a fascinating.

#4 Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – WWII – Review for Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

I reread this back at the beginning of 2021. For some reason this book speaks to me. I love how the characters protect each other’s secrets. Four teenagers each face decisions as they flee to escape Germany. As they trek to the sea, they face crowds, ice and limited space on the few ships available. Based on the true nautical disaster greater then then the Titanic.

#3 Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – science fiction –

This was another book club pick for July. I had just finished The Martian when they chose PHM. It tells the story of man who wakes up on a spaceship with amnesia. He has to figure out why he is there before Earth is wiped out. I actually liked this one a smidge better then The Martian. The main character is a middle school science teacher which connected with me. Plus, Rocky is the best alien I’ve ever met!!

#2 The Book Thief – reread – WWII fiction – Review for The Book Thief

Years ago I got this movie as a Christmas gift and then read the book. It became one of my favorite movies of all time. But it has been a few years and had forgotten quite a bit. Tells the story an orphan girl whose adopted parents hide a Jew during the war. Beautiful story! Bring a box of tissues!

It should be no surprise what was my favorite book this year!! 😉

#1 The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas- Adventure – reread – Review for The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

I read this book in high school and honestly don’t remember why I chose it. Maybe was from a book list for literature. Whatever the reason, I ended up loving it!! Dante has an incredible developmental arc!! This book has it all from romance to sword duels. Yes, it is long, but keep going! Dumas uses even the small characters to play a roll in Dante’s revenge.

So has has your reading year been? Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favorite reads? Any books you are looking forward to in the coming year?

Up next – I’ll review favorite movies/shows from this past year!

Anna

Reread of The Hobbit

As we close in on Christmas, this is a great time to finish the last few books on the ever growing TBR pile. This year has been hectic and stressful at times. Many changes will be occurring in the next few months. Which put me in the mood for a comfort read. I set aside several other books and just let myself be swept up in the tale of a small hobbit. It honestly was the perfect read.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Genre – Fantasy

Series – A prequel to the Lord the Rings, written first

Rating – PG for peril and danger

Synopsis –

Bilbo Baggins is a quiet Hobbit who loves the comforts of his own home. One day Gandalf, the Wizard, comes by asking if Bilbo would like to go on an adventure. Despite Bilbo’s protesting, Dwarves begin showing up one evening. They cause a ruckus and poor Bilbo is unsure what is going on. With a little prodding he joins their mission to go to the Lonely Mountain and capture their long forgotten gold from a dragon.

My Thoughts –

This story has become so ingrained in our culture; most people know at least vaguely about The Hobbit. However, recently I’ve meet two individuals who had never heard of The Hobbit, which surprised me greatly. These books were such a big part of my childhood. I can remember seeing The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings sitting on our bookshelf when I was little. I was 13 when I first read The Hobbit. The cover I used up above is the same cover that I have. You cannot look at it without being intrigued. One time I was not feeling so good, and I remember my mom sitting next to me reading An Unexpected Party. So, it goes without saying that I love this book!

Anyway, it has been several years since I’ve picked up The Hobbit. I had reread The Lord of Rings a little over a year ago. So felt in the need for some more Tolkien. 🙂

Tolkien is a master wordsmith. He writes in such a way as to create a realistic world similar enough to our own and yet unique. Middle earth is filled with lush landscape and dark forests filled with all manner of creatures. I mean he invented orcs and mines of Moria.

Of all the characters in The Hobbit, I relate to Bilbo the most. We would be kindred spirits. He loves his hobbit-hole and is quite fond of food. While I don’t eat as much as hobbits do, I love comfort food. Tea, biscuits, cake, cheese! Yes, please! I love how Tolkien develops Bilbo and he goes from a scared rather flighty person to someone who will risk is own share of the treasure for the peace and safety of his friends.

Also, the elves. I had forgotten how cheerful and musical they were in the book. Would love to spend time in Rivendell and hear all the stories of old. Elrond sounds like a great host.

It was nice seeing Gandalf take more of a back seat and more a conductor then playing a big role. Now way back when I don’t remember ever really liking Bard. But this go around I really loved his small role. I do like how the movies portrayed him. Gave him more background and family, yet keeping in line with the book.

There are so many great things I could say about this book!! I mean talking dragons, riddles – which I struggled to solve on my first read. The songs are a lot of fun too!!

Quotes –

“This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbor’s respect, but he gained – well you will see whether he gained anything in the end” (p. 2)

“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” (p. 1).

“As they sang the hobbit fell the love of beautiful things made by hands” (p. 15)

“”That would be no good” said the wizard, “not without a mighty warrior, even a hero. I tried to find one; but warriors are busy fighting one another in distant lands” (p. 21-22).

“You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all” (p. 305).

Content – Honestly, there isn’t much to mention here. We have fights and battles. A few scary creatures like goblins, trolls, and wargs. A few characters die.

Conclusion –

What a nice to book to sip with a warm tea on a cold night. As I look back on the books I’ve read this past year, I want to give myself grace next year. More freedom to just pick up whatever book fancies me. Less pressure to finish a certain amount. The Hobbit is a wonderful book, although originally written for children, it has lessons that even us adults can appreciate. Plus, who doesn’t love a solid fantasy story that has held up well with time. This is a classic that everyone should read sometime in their life.

Up Next – I’m hoping to do a post reviewing some of my favorite books of the year!

What are your thoughts on The Hobbit? Is this a book you grew up with or discovered later? Do you like the movie?

Anna

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I had some high expectations for this book, let’s just say I absolutely loved the movie!! Quirky, odd, unique characters, & of course time travel. For me I love seeing the different ways to portray time travel. And these time loops are different and kinda fun. Also loved how Jacob was portrayed in the movie. Now I was disappointed with certain aspects of the book, but we will discuss that later.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

Genre – Sci-fi, YA

Series – 1st book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series

Rating – PG-13 for scary monsters and language

Synopsis –

Jacob is like most smart 16 year olds; he keeps to himself and is close with his grandfather, Abe. When Jacob was little, Abe told him some of the most fantastical stories about living on an island during WWII with children with special capabilities. One day Jacob gets call from his grandfather who sounds distressed and in danger. Unfortunately by the time Jacob finds him, its too late. His grandfather is only able to whisper a few odd sentences before he dies. Slowly, Jacob begins to unravel the mystery surrounding his grandfather’s past.

My Thoughts –

Let’s start with what I liked : the first person narrative – for me this worked really well. You connect with Jacob and it was nice to see how to put together the pieces of the mystery. Jacob also has flaws & doubts; he is not perfect by any means, but it is a likeable character.

Abe – Also, really liked the grandpa in both book and movie. He is smart and an ex-solider who did his duty in world war II. He tried so hard to keep his family safe from the monsters. And yet he wasn’t the best dad. I feel like the things that happened during the war and his time on the island, probably led Abe to keep so many secrets that it was hard letting people inside.

Miss Peregrine herself – what a job keeping so many children safe and hidden while keeping the time loop going. She also was super knowledgeable about the world around them. She is able to multitask like nobodies business. Plus, I mean she can turn herself into a bird. That’s a pretty cool capability. Now, I do wish we could have spent more time with her, most of the book resolved around Jacob.

Last but not least the Setting – part of the story occurs in Florida, which I’ve visited several times. The author does a great job describing the scenery. Then we jump to the island off the coast of Wales. Which provided the perfect location!! All the rain and the small fishing village. Perfect!

One more note I loved how the author came up with the idea. He found all these old photos at flee markets and picked out the odd & bizarre ones and created a story surrounding them. Pretty neat!

Now on the Dislikes 😉

First, got to say did not like Emma and Jacob together in the book. Emma’s character just didn’t work. To me she was snobbish and the whole knowing Jacob’s grandfather was odd. Big pass for me. In the movie however, they switched characters and it was fine.

Also, the ending! Esh, like what even. We don’t get a good description of why the Wights are taking the ymbrynes other then doing a big experiment. The movie flushed out Golan better and gave him more motive then the book did. Left a lot undone. I wish it could have wrapped up a bit better.

Content – there is some language throughout, not overwhelming though, but enough to be annoying. Also the hollows are pretty scary kill/hurt several characters. Then you have a teen romance.

Quotes –

“It was my grandfather’s island. Looming and bleak, folded in mist, guarded by a million screeching birds, it looked like some ancient fortress constructed by giants.” (p. 70).

A patchwork of sheep-speckled fields spread across hills that rose away to meet a high ridge, where a wall of clouds stood like a cotton parapet” (p. 71).

“Trees burst forth from broken windows and skins of scabrous vine gnawed at the walls like anti-bodies attacking a virus – as if nature itself had waged war against it” (p. 83)

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was” (p. 351).

Conclusion –

Overall, I preferred the movie, but the book has some good points as well. Love the author’s writing style. Certain characters were fleshed out, but the all the children at the home, kind of got put on the back burner. We don’t really get to know them that well. I did get hooked though and struggled setting this one down. 😉

Up next – I’m thinking about re-reading The Hobbit. Feel in the mood to go visit Middle-Earth!

How about you? How has your December gone? Have you read Miss Peregrine? What are your thoughts, book vs. movie?

Anna

Review for The Mysterious Benedict Society

It me again! Yes, I’m back for another review; two in a one week! What perfect timing! On the eve of Thanksgiving finishing one of my favorite MG books of all time. That is well worth giving thanks! This is a series I grew up loving and as a family we read these together. On one of our vacations, we listened to the audiobook which kept my dad entertained while driving. As kids, my siblings and I even tried to make a movie out of it. Let’s just say we only filmed about 2 scenes worth. 😉

Usa Network Fist Bump GIF by Psych

With great pleasure I give you The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society

by Trenton Lee Stewart

Genre – MG fiction & sci-fi

Series – 1st book in the Mysterious Benedict Society series

Rating – PG for mild peril and danger

Synopsis –

Reynie Muldoon lives in an orphanage and despite being bullied for being smart, he enjoys his tutor Miss Perumal. One day while reading the newspaper together, Reynie spies an ad seeking exceptional children. After consulting Miss Perumal, he sets out to complete the test. Throughout these series of tests Reynie finds several things that are odd and make no sense. He eventually is joined by three other children who also passed. Together they are told they must stop a madman from brainwashing the world.

My Thoughts –

What a fun book! I enjoyed it when I was younger and still love it today! That speaks a lot for a book to hold up after all these years. I truly believe anyone would enjoy it! Stewart does a wonderful job creating a world that is similar to our own and with such relatable characters. Before I talk about these fantastic characters, I wanted to mention the mystery. The book is filled with puzzles and riddles. The high arcing one though is who is sending these messages and why. The author build it in such a way as to keep the reader interested and invested in what is happening. Is is a super complex mystery? No, but its done well.

Now, there are four main characters: Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance. Of all the characters on my reread I connected with Reynie the best. He is an average boy, who fears being left alone. You cannot but feel for Reynie and the gang. Being an orphan would be hard. Kate is so upbeat is hard not to like her optimism and charm. Both Sticky and Constance have grit and perseverance that isn’t easily seen. All of them experience normal emotions and yet when push comes to shove, they stand together which I love.

Ever since I first read this, narcolepsy has intrigued me. Its awesome when authors include people with disabilities, especially ones that aren’t discussed as much. I even used narcolepsy as a subject for one of my college papers.

There are so many great themes like teamwork, forgiveness, finding family, and sacrifice. Stewart writes for children, but also teaches life lessons hidden inside. These themes stand out in today’s society where right and wrong are based on how you feel. Also, much of the Emergency feels like what has occurred over the past two years. Who would have thought that a middle-grade book written in 2007 would stay pertinent.

So many great things I could say about this book! I mean Sticky and his parents just makes you want to cry and then go over and give him a hug. Milligan’s story as well! I’m a sucker for amnesia as I’ve mentioned before. Not sure why. Hmm, it is very odd.

I do want to mention that they made this into a TV series on Disney+ which does capture the 50s vibe. Also, the costumes are super cool. I just didn’t care for how they portrayed Reynie or Mr. Benedict. Two key roles to the whole story. I mean Reynie is pronounced similar to Jenny. Even the audiobook had that right. Why did they make it sound like Rainye??And I cannot begin to talk about what they did to S. Q. Pedalian which is sad. Beside all that, it is a decent show, just not quite faithful to the book.

Quotes –

“”Are You A Gifted Child Looking for Special Opportunities?” How odd, he thought. The question was addressed directly to children, not to their parents” (p. 3)

“The Mysterious Benedict Society,” Constance said, rising as she spoke. Then she left the room, apparently convinced that no more discussion was necessary. And, as it turned out, she was right.” (p. 145)

“Yes, he had wanted to convince Mr. Curtain he was working alone, had wanted to take suspicion off the children. He had sacrifice himself for them” (p. 409).

“He held his breath until the message was completed. Remember the white knight. Reynie let out his breath. A long, slow release. He didn’t have to think very hard to know what Mr. Benedict meant by that.” (p. 369)

Conclusion –

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a lovely book where you cannot but love the characters. Of the four in the series, not counting the prequel, this is my favorite! The prequel coming in close second. Which makes me want to go back and reread it as well! I cannot highly recommend it enough!! 🙂

Have you read this series? What are your thoughts? Have a favorite character?

Anna

Review for The Way of Kings

Well folks, after finishing the Way of Kings, I had a lot of thoughts and cannot wait to share them. Just an FYI, this was the first Sanderson book that I’ve read. His name has popped up a few times around the blogosphere, but honestly, I don’t remember why I wanted to read this in the first place. Oh, well!

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Genre – Fantasy

Series – 1st in The Stormlight Archive

Rating – PG-13 for battles, death, & murder

Synopsis –

The world of Roshar is under attack and has been for many years. But when the Knights Radiants disappear leaving behind their Shardblades, the peoples across Roshar are left to bicker and fight amongst themselves over the mighty swords. Leaving an opening for evil to creep in. Kaladin is a slave who had been a leader in Amaram’s army. After performing a good deed, he is sold into slavery. Destitute and abandoned by the man he thought was honorable, turns Kaladin into a bitter and depressed man. Yet, there is a slim hope that he might one day be able to escape. Meanwhile the Brightlord Dalinar Kholin, the right-hand man to the king, is thinking of doing the unthinkable, uniting Alethkar and ending the war with the Parshendi.

My Thoughts –

Whew, let me just say, The Way of Kings is long and very different from what I had anticipated. if that synopsis wasn’t confusing enough, the first part of the book, jumps around so much that I got lost. Thankfully, after the first 100 pages or so, we got to rotate between two characters which helped immensely. I feel like Sanderson could have rewritten the the prologues as they gave me more questions then answers. They didn’t connect well with the rest of the book, except a little bit towards the end. I did get frustrated at times that each chapter would shift between characters. I really just wanted to stick to Kaladin’s story line.

Now, I will say Sanderson does a decent job word building. He has created a complex system with everything from giant snails to a religion. In his world the people lighteyes are in control or the ones who can be commanders and kings. The darkeyes serve them. He also created an interesting weapon – the Shardblade which is different then any sword as it cannot cut a living being, but burns them from the inside out.

There are two characters that held my attention and who I really liked! Kaladin and Dalinar grew as characters and became men of leadership which was super cool to see. Of the two, Kaladin’s story drew me in from his first segment.

Playing Star Wars GIF by MOODMAN

The way he unites Bridge Four from men literally sent to die to trained spear-men was fantastic!! They are like a big family! Also, Rock’s stew. 🙂

Also, Syl, the spren, was a neat friend who kinda woke up Kaladin to the truth. I couldn’t help smiling when Teft or Rock started coming out of their shell and pledged their loyalty to Kaladin. Then their whole rescue mission! Yeah, that is what I like to see in a fantasy novel. It took me a while to like Dalinar, but he held staunchly to his beliefs and truly wanted to do what was right. His visions were interesting, but didn’t like the explanation for them. However, Sanderson, did a marvelous job portraying leadership and the pitfalls and trials going with it.

Shallan was kinda boring. Very similar to all the other female fantasy tropes, untrained, is seeking a secret to save her family, which leads her to major self-discovery moment. To me she didn’t really develop during her stay with Jasnah. Szeth was an odd character, I felt pity for him and yet committed atrocities. I don’t know. Sanderson let this character unfinished in my opinion. I’m also not sure what to make of the Parshendi. Are they good? Does this war get dragged out across multiple novels?

The use of Stormlight was unique and cool. Especially as it manifested itself in Kaladin’s life. The way he is able to draw in light and increase speed or draw objects toward himself – very Thor like. I would love to see Kaladin and Szeth have a showdown and I am pretty sure that it will happen possibly in book 2.

Quotes:

“The things others have always seem better than what you have,” his mother said.” (P. 363).

“A life is priceless,” he said immediately, quoting his father. Dalinar smiled, wrinkle lines extending from the corners of his eyes. “Coincidentally, that is the exact value of a Shardblade. So today you and your men sacrificed to buy me twenty-six hundred priceless lives. And all I had to repay you with was a single priceless sword” (p. 957).

“Teft rolled his sphere between his fingers again, holding it up and staring into the depths. “Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination” (p. 831)

“It was amazing. Months ago, Moash – along with the others – had eagerly placed the new or the weak at the front of the bridge crew to catch arrows. Now to a man, they volunteered for the most dangerous jobs” (p. 880).

Content- Throughout there are a few choice words. It is insinuated that Navani never loved Gavilar, her now deceased husband. Lots and lots of battles. I do feel like Sanderson leans toward too many descriptive battles. Many innocent people die, especially whenever Szeth enters the scene.

Conclusion – I really did like The Way of Kings! So, many unique elements and let’s be honest without Kaladin, I probably wouldn’t have finished. He added so much! There were some stuff that didn’t quite sit well, particularly Vorinism.

Have you read The Way of Kings? Should I continue this series? Who is your favorite character?

Look forward to hearing from you!

Anna

All About You Round the Blogosphere Tag

Hello blogger friends!

I’ve been a bit absent of late, work has been busy and on top of that my reading has slowed down immensely!! Currently, I’m working on finishing up The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. Whew, its longer then I had expected, but I’m enjoying more then I had thought I would.

Anyway, Ivy Miranda has tagged me for an All About You Tag which I’m super excited to take part in. Thanks Ivy!! If you want to see her post, click here- https://revealedintime.blogspot.com/2021/10/all-about-you-round-blogosphere-tag.html#more

On to the questions!

What is your favorite book/series and why?

Hmm, there are so many, but I’ll go with my gut A Sword in the Stars by Wayne Thomas Batson which is a part of The Myridian Constellation. This is one of my all time favorite series. I think I was roughly 14 when this first came out and having finished The Lord of the Rings, I was looking for more fantasy. This series fit the bill perfectly!! Plus, Alastair Coldhollow has one of the best character arc ever.

Who is your favorite author?

Again, so many good ones. J. R. R. Tolkien was the one of the first fantasy authors I discovered. He is a masterful writer who created a whole language to go with his world. Gary D, Schmidt is a more recent author who brings some depth to the MG genre. Lastly, Trenton Lee Stewart, literally grew up reading The Mysterious Benedict Society.

What is your favorite food?

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies - Eat With Clarity

Chocolate Chip cookies – warm and soft, only slightly crunchy on the outside, being GF can make these a bit tricky, but I have accomplished making these taste great!

What gives you inspiration for your books?

As much as I’d love to be an author, that just isn’t my cup of tea. I tried writing a short story once, and I got so frustrated as I just kept coping off of a book series. However, movies, shows, and books can be inspiration for blog posts. I especially dig emotional, deep and good character development in movies or shows. It’s one of the reasons I’m re-watching Lost. 😉

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I love sunshine and hills or mountains. Cornwall and Port Issac would be an amazing places to live. You are right on the coast of a quaint fishing village. Also New Zealand!

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Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Introvert – I do enjoy hanging out with people, especially good friends or family.

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Beware, she reads big books which can lead to emotions over characters!

I tag:

Movies Meet Their Match

And anyone else who like to join!! Here are the questions –

What is your favorite book/series and why?

Who is your favorite author?

What is your favorite food?

What gives you inspiration for your books?

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Are you an introvert or extrovert?

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Thanks again to Ivy for the tag and the graphic!

Anna

Tolkien Blog Party!!

Hello one and all! I’m so exciting to be participating in the Tolkien Blog Party hosted by Hamlette over at https://theedgeoftheprecipice.blogspot.com/. What a fun way to kick off fall! I did the tag last year and had so much fun seeing how other people answered the tag. This year Hamlette has some great questions focusing on the number 9, some are quite tricky to answer.

So let’s get started shall we!!

1. Aragorn: Favorite Tolkien hero/heroine –

Alright, so I have two! 😉 The first being Aragorn. I fell for his character the first time I read the books; his mysterious appearance and willingness to support Frodo. Plus, he made such a great king. He fought for what was right and showed courage in the darkest night. Viggo Mortenson was spot on with his character. I absolutely love the army of the dead scene!

My second fav is Bilbo, particularly the movie version! Martin Freeman does such a great job portraying a homebody who loves all the comfort of home. And his facial expressions are fantastic. You feel for Bilbo and truly want him to become a part of the dwarf group. Plus, he is an amazing poet which I wished they showed more of in the movies.

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2. Boromir: Favorite Tolkien character arc –

I’ve been mulling two in particular, but I’m going to go with the more canonical one – Faramir. When I read the Lord of the Rings last year, the chapter House of Healing really struck me. I had forgotten much of it and loved Faramir and Eowyn’s relationship. The book version of Faramir goes a lot deeper and shows him a more upright man then the movies do. He goes from this Robin Hood type character to becoming royalty. He goes through quite the learning curve while with Frodo.

3. Frodo: Favorite song or poem by Tolkien –

In Western lands beneath the Sun the flowers may rise in spring,

the trees may bud, the waters run, the merry finches sing.

Or there maybe ’tis cloudless might and swaying beeches bear

the Elven-stars as jewels white amid their branching hair.

A long time ago I stumbled across an audiobook of the Lord of the Rings. They sang many of the poems and they had set this piece to music. I adored it then and still do!

Sam's Song ~ The Lord Of The Rings

4. Gandalf: Favorite wise Tolkien quotation –

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“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hold, and that means comfort.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

5. Gimli: A Middle-earth location you’d like to visit –

arrow archery and arrow archery and bow kép

Ugh, there are so many! Well, I’ve been thinking about the Hobbit recently, and I think it would be fun to visit the Lonely Mountain and city of Dale before the dragon of course.

6. Legolas: Favorite Middle-earth Weapon –

To be honest, I’ve always wanted to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow. I mean Legolas makes it look so easy! Despite the inaccuracy of him always having enough arrows. 😉

7. Merry: Favorite way to celebrate Tolkien’s stories –

Rereading the books is always a good way to go or a re-watch of the movies. Recently I have to discovered a new way to celebrate … listening to the Friendship Onion podcast!!! Billy Boyd and Dom Monaghan host a new podcast where they discuss life and the Lord of the Rings. They make me crack up so much! It has literally made my Tuesdays so much better!

8. Pippin: Favorite funny Tolkien quotation –

“Fool of a Took!” he growled. “This is a serious journey, not a hobbit walking-party. Throw yourself in next time, and then you will be no further nuisance.”

“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not Today. Good morning! But please come to tea -any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Good bye!

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9. Samwise: A Middle-earth food you’d like to try –

There is so much to pick from! I would love to try Sam’s Potatoes! I’m a big fan of anything potato and would love to see how he cooks them. But a dinner with Tom Bombadil would also be lovely! Anybody else curious about what Lembas would taste like??

Well that’s all that I have folks! Hope you are enjoying the blog party! Happy first day of fall!!

Anna

End of Summer Books

Hello friends!

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

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

Season 8 Running GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Let’s get started shall we!

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

I liked several things in this novel. First, Annie cares very much about her mom and currently lives with her due to her mom’s health problems. There is a touching moment at the end where both Annie and her mom tell each other the truth. I also loved Harper the next door neighbor. I found her character hilarious and quirky. Naming her dog, dog! 😉 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