Review for Return of Tarzan

The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Genre – Adventure, Survival, Classic

Series – Second book in the Tarzan series

Rating – PG for peril and violence

Synopsis –

Picking up where Tarzan of the Apes left off, we find Tarzan on an ocean liner heading toward France. He has left Jane that she could marry Clayton. In doing so, he has given up his rightful title of Lord Greystoke. During the ocean crossing, Tarzan intercepts several attempts at besmirching and harming the Count De Coude’s honor. The count and his wife Olga are hounded by a man named Nikolas Rokoff. In siding with the Count, Tarzan has created a formidable enemy in Rokoff who will go to the ends of the earth to seek his revenge. Will Tarzan be able to settle for living a quiet life in France or will he revert to his former lifestyle as an ape-man?

My Thoughts –

I wanted to make sure I published another review before the end of the year. So, I decided upon Tarzan. I enjoy these rollicking adventure stories. They have a completely different feel to them compared to some of the writers today. You have a duel, espionage, fights, desert battles, and surviving the hostile jungle. I will say the first book is better in my opinion. Although, the two books could almost be merged together. The Return of Tarzan continues many of the themes from the first book.

Really the only thing that I didn’t care for was how the RoT was almost two separate books. The first section was set in France with the whole intrigue surrounding the Count and his wife. This section was well written, and I really enjoyed the duel and the courage and sacrifice Tarzan shows. The second half kinda wanders a bit and seems the author throws everything he can think of into it. You go from Tarzan being a spy to him finding the lost city of Opar and let’s not forgot the whole Arabian battle in Sidi Aissa. A little too much hopping from one event to the next for me.

I really liked Tarzan’s progression from a man who didn’t understand many common practices to becoming fluent in a variety of languages and cultured enough to pass in society. He truly cares for those around him and is a loyal person to the point of sacrificing his life. Also, I liked Jane’s personal development as she realized where her heart truly lay.

What a relief it was that Burroughs left off much of his primeval man talk. In Tarzan of the Apes, he spent a lot of time talking about about how man had evolved from the primeval ape. You can really see how Darwin’s theory impacted Burrough’s writing a bit which is kinda sad. Although, Burroughs also mentions a Creator or deity a few times.

Language – Pretty clean, only a handful of uses of mild language

Violence – There are several attempts made to kill or hurt the Count and his wife. Tarzan intercedes in a way that no one is harmed. There is a duel between Tarzan and the Count over possible infidelity. (more on that later) Tarzan is shot twice, but only scratches and is not seriously harmed. He is lead into a trap by Rokoff, yet Tarzan kills and harms Rokoff’s men and a few police officers. He almost kills the count in a fit of rage. Later in Africa is left for dead in the desert. He kills several lions to save his life. Burroughs makes it clear that he does not advocate aimless killing for sport. Tarzan battles several Arabs who work for Rokoff. Later, he is presumed dead after being pushed off a ship. I will note that most of the killing is bloodless and not very descriptive.

Innuendo – Throughout the book it is shown Tarzan being noble and heroic in his dealings with women except for one instance. After meeting Olga on the ocean liner, they become friends and he spends quite a bit of time with her and her husband at their home. Rokoff finds out about this and sets up phony letters to get Tarzan alone with Olga. Upon realizing the set up, Tarzan tells Olga what has happened and he comforts her. They end up kissing. The Count, also sent a letter, rushes home and sees them kissing. He believes that more had occurred. So sets up a duel. Tarzan realizes his mistake takes the blame for what happened and cleared Olga of any crime.

Conclusion –

All in all, it was a light splashy read. For a short novel it takes you many places around the world. I don’t know much about Burroughs, but he wrote in way that felt that he had been to all these places, especially the African sections. I really preferred the first book though. His whole learning to read/write was just fascinating, maybe that’s just cause I’m a teacher πŸ˜‰ The portions of the book on the various ships were great and probably my favorite parts!

Now over to you! Have you read this book or the previous one? How was your Christmas?

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

Anna

Review for The Death Cure

The Death Cure by James Dashner

Genre – Dystopian, Mystery, Suspense

Series – 3rd book in the Maze Runner series

Rating – PG-13 for violence and death

Synopsis –

Thomas is fed-up with WICKED, they have told so many lies and caused him to lose many friends. They have even told Thomas that his best friend Newt has the virus. So, he decides to take matters into his own hands and leave as quickly as possible with Mingho and Newt. Yet, when their escape is too easy and they begin to suspect something is off. Did WICKED let them go? Will they be able to find a cure before it is too late? And just who can be trusted?

My Thoughts –

Wow, um kinda hard to believe that I finished this series already! Now that I’ve read/listened to the series, I can honestly say the first book is the best! The Maze Runner was able to bring to life these boys and yet still move the mystery along. Plus it didn’t have the weird love triangle that started in The Scorch Trials, ugh, sorry Brenda fans.

buddy the elf no GIF

I just really didn’t like or trust her. Even in The Death Cure, she just got more annoying. Like what even, that kiss at the end?? Your best friend who was a girl just died, and Thomas goes and kisses Brenda? No! Just No!

I was also kinda sad about the characters in this one. So far they were pretty consistent, yet now Newt goes all crazy and acts completely different. I get he has the flare, but really! Ugh, * Spoiler Alert * His death felt so sidelined and why did he have to die? End of Spoiler. Thomas also was a bit wishy-washy not really knowing what he wanted. I missed the good old days when they had a mission to see through

gilmore girls dancing GIF

The One good thing Character wise was Gally! So nice to see him again, despite how the author left him off in The Maze Runner, he had some redemption here that made up for Chuck a little bit.

The plot felt a little bit all over the map. Maybe that is just my take on it. The storytelling is pretty good, and Dashner creates a fairly believable world, especially when talking about recent events like COVID. Felt a little too close to home. Overall the plot moves more like 1 step forward, 2 steps back, which was a little frustrating. I did like the end though, not counting a character death, too convenient for me. πŸ™ The whole going back to maze and saving everybody was good to see. I’m not really sure how I feel about the Immunes just leaving rest of world to crumble though, I guess there isn’t much they can do.

I have to say that I really liked how the movie did The Death Cure! They smoothed out a few crinkles and kept the characters from changing so much. They also did a much better job with the 2 character’s death. Didn’t feel so worthless and more self-sacrificial.

Violence – I feel like the author stepped up the violence quite a bit! What with the flare turning people crazy and zombie like. Lots of fighting, stabbing, characters get shot, and tazzed with electricity. One instance of running cranks (people with the flare) over in a car. The cranks were trying to kill our characters by smashing windows, reaching in and grabbing them by hair. One character shots another character to put him out of his misery. He is dying a slow and painful death. Didn’t really appreciate this at all. A building collapses causing characters to get trapped or smashed by rocks. One character stops a rock to save others before dying.

Language – Maybe 5 instances of mild swearing. The author invented his own colorful language that the boys use including: shank, slim it, and shuck, used throughout book.

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

I feel like I mostly had negatives to say about book, but it really wasn’t all bad. There were a few nice moments, and I will say it was hard to put down! It’s an interesting end to the series a bit odd, but you get a few answers about why they went through the trials and maze, but nothing concrete. Movie better, period. Maybe, it would have helped to have read books before watching movies. πŸ˜‰ The books are very much aimed at the YA audience, like 90% of the characters are teenagers. I have mixed feeling about this book, I liked it, but also got annoyed by characters.

Anyway, have you ever read this series and have a favorite? What are your thoughts about ending?

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Anna

Review of Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Genre – Mystery, Suspense

Series – #17 Hercule Poirot

Rating – PG-13 for violence and death

Synopsis –

The famous French detective Hercule Poirot has decided to take a vacation to Egypt. Little did he know that he would become involved in the mysterious murder of Linnet Ridgeway a British rich aristocrat. A few months before heading to Egypt, Linnet meets with her best friend Jacqueline de Bellefort to talk about Jacqueline’s possible engagement. Jacqueline is madly in love with Simon Doyle, a poor country man, and wants Linnet to give her consent to Jacqueline’s marriage. Several months later. Poirot meets Linnet during his trip in Egypt, and she had married Simon. Linnet is scared for her life and begs Poirot to investigate. After she is murdered on a boat, Poirot needs all of skill to figure out exactly what happened.

My Thoughts –

Sorry if my thoughts get a little jumbled, I finished this book almost a week ago and its still swirling around my head. I’ve only read/listened to a handful of Christie’s novels, yet this one seems to stand out to me. I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express with its unique ending, but I almost liked Death on the Nile more. For starters, the focus is on character development and exploring what makes each suspect tick. I loved this aspect, most whodunit’s just focus on the crime. Then the murder doesn’t happen until half-way through the book. Again, this was different then most mystery novels I’ve read and it really worked!

There is a whole host of characters, some of whom are very well created. I really like how Christie wrote Jacqueline. Although she carries a grudge, I liked and felt sorry for her. I also was drawn to Cornelia; what a bright flower among so many flawed people. Cornelia had a kind and humble heart. Now, I cannot forget Poirot. He is definitely a quirky detective; he’s able to notice things that nobody else does, but also has a soft side. There was a section where he takes Jacqueline aside and they have a little chat. It was such an emotional scene and after having only met this women, Poirot cared about her.

Parks And Recreation Reaction GIF

The plot had several twists and turns to it. I was so sure that certain characters were innocent, but Christie had me fooled. There were a few things that I found odd, but wasn’t able to put everything together.

Although this is not a Christian book by any means, Poirot believes in God. He quotes scripture a few times at just the right moment and on the inside I was like “Yes!” Also, he tries to prevent several characters from making poor decisions.

Language – Mild infrequent swearing

Innuendo – A character marries her best friend’s boyfriend, (we find out later this was all planned by best friend to get money). A character references sex as a subject in her book she wrote.

Violence -Now while it is a murder mystery, Christie keeps the violence to a minimum. You know they die and how, but it isn’t gratuitous. A character is found dead the next morning by gunshot to head. Another character is shot in the leg. A few other characters die, but not very detailed. Later to avoid going to prison, a character commits suicide.

Conclusion –

Death on the Nile gives an interesting look at what can lead a person to do horrible things. There is a lot to think about and I really enjoyed diving into another Agatha Christie novel. I had a hard time putting it down!! Personally, I love seeing an in depth look at characters and their development . So this was right up my alley. Overall, a well written story that defiantly worth a read!

Have you read any Agatha Christie books? Do you have a favorite? Hope you are having a wonderful November!

Anna

Review of The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Genre – Dystopian, Science Fiction, Survival

Series – 1st book in the Maze Runner series

Rating – PG-13 for violence, scary situations

Synopsis –

Thomas wakes up in box remembering nothing of his previous life, except his name. He soon discovers that he is trapped inside a maze with roughly 4o other boys with similar experiences. They live in the Glade a square space set in the middle of the maze that is closed off from the maze at night. As he befriends some of the other boys, becomes curious about how the maze works. Alby and Newt (the two leaders) show Thomas the ropes, and he soon realizes that he desperately wants to be one of the runners who map out the maze. There is a little resistance from Gally, who claims to recognize Thomas, There are also Grievers, a rubber slug like creature with robotic appendages, who roam the maze at night. Will Thomas and the other boys be able to find a way out? Who put them here?

My Thoughts –

Sorry about the small Hiatus! Things have picked up at work and life has been busy! Hoping to post more soon. I liked this book, I really did, despite reading of this book after watching the movie. Previously, I hadn’t really heard of this series before finding it at local library. I was fascinated by the mystery behind it. Reminded me a lot of Lost, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So after seeing the first movie, I found the book at the library and plowed through it fairly quickly. I have to say that personally, I like puzzles and figuring out what’s going on, so I didn’t mind that the author held back information or gave it to us in small chunks.

I have to say that I liked the movie’s portrayal of Alby and Thomas better then the book. I feel like it flushed out their characters a bit better then the book did. Although, Newt and Mingho had more personality in the book. So, go figure that one out. Chuck is so sweet and the perfect friend for Thomas, who could be a bit selfish at times. Newt is one of my favorite characters and I can connect with him on several levels. He is kinda like the peacemaker of the group and the one who keeps things going. Not really a leader though. Liked the whole Newt having a limb, remind anybody of Crutchie from Newsies ?? πŸ™‚

Although the writing wasn’t super great, the plot moved quickly and kept me interested in the story. There isn’t much character development, more focused on the action and mystery behind the maze which didn’t bug me too much. You don’t get many answers even by the end of the book. * Spoiler Alert * I liked that the maze actually spelled out words to help escape, but wanted more there to be more it. Ending a wee bit flat. It seemed that Thomas just suddenly had the answer to solving maze. Wished he had to work harder to get answer.

There were several little bits that I really loved! Chuck’s sacrifice! What a noble act for such a young kid! He was so brave. I also loved the parts about the Glade and how they had built a little community. Every person had a job; left me wanting more. It felt like that section so brief before we moved on to more action sequences. The meeting of the Keepers was also a nice touch.

Language – Maybe 2 uses of mild British language, mostly the author invented his own slang words that the boys used frequently like “Greenie”, “shank”, “shuck”

Innuendo – None

Violence – Um, yeah, there is quite a bit. Not gory, but it’s in there. First, there is this sickness that people get if stung by the Grievers. It makes them lose their mind and eventually die if they don’t get antidote. The antidote has side effects as well. It causes green veins to appear all over the body & gives the person flash backs to their previous life. The Grievers also will attack at night and either sting them or use its appendages to cause harm. This happens a couple times. Mentions of people getting left out in maze at night who disappear or killed. There is a battle where many Gladers are killed by grievers. Not really detailed, but we know it happens. Chuck jumps in front of a knife to save Thomas. One guy tries to kill Thomas after going through changeling process and remembering.

Other – One other thing I want to mention. After the guy tries to kill Thomas, he is banished to the maze. They all kinda push him out of the glade. This made no sense to me. I mean the guy wasn’t right in the head due to the antidote. Cut him some slack. I felt sorry for him and we see Thomas being horrified at this. Just wish he didn’t have to die.

Conclusion –

I’m a sucker for good mystery with twists and complex puzzles; this book fit perfectly. I enjoyed it quite a bit! The characters felt and acted like normal teenage kids and hopefully they get a bit fleshed out and develop over next book. I really wanted to figure out what was going on, despite having seen the movie, as there were some big differences. Although I had a few quibbles, its a decent first installment and yeah, I’m reading the next one. πŸ˜‰

Have you seen or heard of this series? What are your thoughts? Can you believe it is already November!

Anna

2 Mysteries that I have recently finished

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

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

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction

Series – Second book in the Mycroft and Sherlock series

Rating – PG -13 for violence & drug use

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

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

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

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

Now for the second mystery!

The Religious Body by Catherine Aird

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction

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

Rating – PG – Mild violence

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

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

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

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

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

Anna

Review for Nine Coaches Waiting

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Genre – Suspense, Mystery, Romance

Series – No, it’s a stand-alone novel

Rating – PG – Attempted murder, mild language throughout

Synopsis –

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

My thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion –

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

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

Anna

Review for Murder at Hatfield House

Murder at Hatfield House by Amanda Carmack

Genre – Historical fiction, Mystery

Series – First book in the Elizabethan Mysteries

Rating – PG – for Mild language and violence

Synopsis –

Kate and her father are the musicians for princess Elizabeth who is quietly residing at Hatfield house after her sister’s ascension to the throne. Yet, trouble is brewing when a courier from the Queen suddenly appears with a dead servant. He demands to search the premise in search of banned religious materials. Kate’s life becomes difficult, but Elizabeth trusts Kate to find out who killed the servant. Will Kate be able to figure out what is going on before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

Hmm. What to say about this book??!! I cannot say that I really liked this book; however there were some good parts to it. I enjoyed the whole history behind princess Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey as it had been a while since I had read about this time period. So it was nice to step back in and learn a little bit about the political upheaval of this time. The author also does a decent job of characterizing Elizabeth and Anthony.

Nevertheless I do have a couple quibbles. First, the writing style. The majority of the language in the book is very modern, and didn’t feel right for England in 1558. I get that writing in older English can be tricky to write, but I feel like the author could have tried to add some phrases used back in that time period to make it less modern sounding.

Secondly, I do not like the main character. Maybe that is just me, but she felt like every other heroine in a cozy mystery. Nothing really stood her apart for me. I wanted to like Kate, but I just couldn’t.

There were several good things about Murder at Hatfield House. It held by attention enough that I cruised through this novel in a little over a day. The plot moved along at a decent pace, and there were some good themes like kindness and standing up for what is right. I enjoyed the descriptions of how Protestantism was changing England politically and how it varied from Catholicism. The mystery started out quite interesting, but began to wobble by the end. The conclusion confused me a bit, and overall the book was fairly clean which I appreciated.

Language – Infrequent mild language, with a couple exclamations of “God’s wounds” or other similar phrases.

Violence – Overall, pretty mild. Several characters are killed by arrows. A few mentions of blood either on clothes or the ground. A character gets shoved and left in a locked room.

Innuendo – Two kisses on the hand (pretty common for back then) and a bit about developing feelings for character.

Conclusion –

Carmack wrote about an interesting time in history, and there is lots to learn from it. There were a few characters that I liked, but most felt flat to me. This novel would make for a nice beach read when you want something light and breezy. Murder at Hatfield House is aimed more at YA age range as main character is 18. Give this a go if you enjoy the Elizabethan era, or are looking for a new cozy series.

Cannot wait to hear how you all are doing!! Do you enjoy cozy mysteries? How is your June going? What Have you been reading lately?

Anna

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰ 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!!

6 Movies and Shows I’ve watched recently

As I am still reading Atlas Shrugged (such a long book), I figured I would do a post about some movies/shows that I have been watching. I’ll start out with some family-friendly options, then move on to some more adult. I have done one of these posts before back in 2019. Link here – http://www.pagestoremember.com/2019/07/21/my-current-top-5-tv-shows/

1 Onward

Genre – Fantasy/family

Rating – PG

Synopsis- In a time when magic has all but disappeared, there lives 2 elf brothers Ian and Barley. Ian is a quiet and reserved high schooler who just wants to fit in, while his brother, Barley, is a fun-loving geek. They embark on a quest to bring back their dad for a day.

My Thoughts –

This was such a cute movie!! There were several interesting themes throughout. First, family! Both of the parents are shown in a great light, very supportive of their children. In a lot of movies, parents are shown to be stupid or not able to understand what their children are going through. So I appreciated having parents who actually care. Second theme, becoming who you are meant to be. Both Ian and Barley are teenagers and trying to figure out how they fit into the world. I am not going to say much more as I don’t want to spoil it.

Content – Overall this movie is pretty clean. Definitely one for a family movie night. There is some mild cartoon violence and a bit of name calling, but surprisingly not a lot of potty humor. Also a bit sad as talking about how to deal with someone who has passed. Side note- there is some use of magic and using a spell.

Moving on to number 2.

#2 Newsies

Genre – Musical, Historical

Rating – PG – Mild Language

Synopsis –

Jack Kelly is the leader of the Newsies who make a living by selling papers. When Pulitzer decides to raise the price of the papers, the Newsies go on strike. With the help of Davey and Katherine, they get an article in the papers. Will that be enough to end the strike?

My Thoughts –

So a couple years ago I saw the original 1992 Newsies movie and loved it. Later on I found out there was a Broadway version available. Last fall I finally watched it, and it was AMAZING!! A really well done musical! The new numbers the added really helped, and I liked how the gave Jack a bit more back story.

The characters are fantastic and it is based on a true story. The first time I saw it, I didn’t care for Katherine, but now that I have re-watched it a several times, she has grown on me. Jeremy Jordan aka. Jack Kelly can really sing. This would also make for great family movie night!!

Content – Not much there. Jack and Davey use some mild language a couple times. There are a couple fights, but its all choreographed and more cheesy. Characters kiss a few times. A mention of girls not wearing pants (they were in a custom with tights).

3 White Collar

Genre – Crime/Drama/Comedy

Rating – PG – for violence and language

Synopsis –

Neal Caffery is a conman and a good one at that. He also is a thief who steals/forges artwork. In a deal to reduce his jail time, Neal works for an FBI agent, Peter Burke, to solve cases and catch other criminals. Neal might just make a few friends along the way.

My Thoughts –

This is a clever and fresh show! It has a fast-moving pace, but it also gives you a look into the white collar crime division. It looks at the possibility of can you reform a conman/thief. I gotta say that this is one of the few shows that highlights a positive marriage. Peter Burke and his wife are shown in a great light. They talk about what is going on in each other’s lives and truly care for one another.

For me I really wanted Neal to come clean and be truly reformed, but it is also really neat to see how he pulls off heists. I’m giving a shout out to Mozzie who is one of the best characters on the show. He provides some much needed comedic relieve. πŸ™‚ Also as a side note I have only seen up through season 4. I am hoping to finish this eventually.

Content – For a show about the FBI, there is not much violence. Yes, there are threats and kidnapping, but its kept pretty tame. From what I remember there is some language, but again not a ton. There are a few episodes where they try to spice it up and give Neal a girlfriend. So a couple scenes that you can fast forward through. I think there might have been one episode we skipped entirely. Note- in season 2 or 3 we find out that a character is a lesbian. I think her partner is only shown in 2-3 episodes, but just a heads up. I don’t agree with how this character lives, but it is only a minor side-line. Overall a fairly clean show, probably more for teens on up.

#4 Merlin

Genre – Fantasy, Adventure, Drama

Rating- PG – Peril, violence, scary creatures Also on amazon it says its TV14, I am not exactly sure why. I think most of the series is within the realm of PG.

Synopsis –

The story takes places before Arthur is king and before Merlin is the famous wizard. King Uther Pendragon has outlawed the use of magic to protect his kingdom. Merlin comes to Camelot in order to hide. He becomes an assistant to Gaius, a doctor. Slowly, it is revealed that Merlin has magical powers. Gaius takes him under his wing and trains him to use these powers for good. Meanwhile, Prince Arthur is a stuck up brat who is training for when he becomes king. Eventually, it is revealed that Merlin and Arthur are connected they impacted each other’s destiny. Will these two be able to come together and fight for what is right?

My Thoughts –

I have always loved the Arthurian legend, and I have a soft spot for fantasy. This brings together the best of both worlds. I just found this series back in March. So I have only made it through the first 2 seasons. Now, it definitely gives the tales a new perspective. As most of the stories are about Arthur when he is king. So don’t except it to follow the books. πŸ˜‰

I love Merlin and Arthur’s relationship. It reminds me of the relationship in Sherlock between Holmes and Watson. They have a fun banter back and forth with many witty remarks. Also Gaius has a lot of wisdom and is a father figure to Merlin. Uther I go back and forth on. He can be such an idiot some time, but then in some episodes we see his love for Arthur and Morgana. Now Morgana is different story. Since I have read/heard some of the legends, I kinda knew where she was headed. Gwen is a great role model, she is sweet, caring, and wants to make a difference in the world.

Now I normally don’t care for books/movies with magic in them, but I have read a few of the books about Merlin and Arthur, so I knew what to expect. This use of magic is a little different. It shows the fight for good /evil. Merlin only uses his magic to save people, mostly Arthur. He also is not showy about it. He doesn’t take the credit he deserves, but stays in the shadows.

Content – Now I can only say what was in season 1&2, but overall not too bad. Only occasional mild language. Some episodes don’t have any. Any violence is mostly cheesy fight scenes with no wounds shown. There are some tense moments where characters are in peril/dying. The ladies sometimes where some low dresses. Several characters are put under a spell that makes them fall in love. A couple characters kiss and talk about falling in love. I think this is another show that will appeal more to teens on up.

#5 1917

Genre – War, Historical, based on true events

Rating – R – Strong language and violence

Synopsis –

Lance Corporal William Schofield and Lieutenant Blake embark on a dangerous mission. From reconnaissance the ally army believes that the Germans have retreated. So Schofield and Blake are commanded by a general to take a message to the Second Battalion that the next morning’s attack is called off. Blake is told that his brother is in the Second Battalion so it becomes a personal matter. If they don’t make it in time, the Germans will slaughter the Battalion.

My Thoughts –

For the most part I stay away from R movies, but when I saw the trailer, this one peaked my interest. It had several actors that I had seen in other movies and the story sounded interesting. Now I looked up the Pluggedin review before I watched this. Use your own judgement on whether to watch or not.

Not gonna lie, but it was amazing!! The story was well told, and the director shot this movie in what looks like 1 continuous shot. I think there were a handful to hidden breaks, but if an actor messed up a line, they would have to go back to the beginning of the scene. The characters had such an emotional journey, that you really felt for them. I felt that it had a journey feel to it, that reminded a bit of The Lord of the Rings. One character in particular showed kindness and determination. I enjoyed it so much that I have seen it twice: once in theaters, once with the family.

It takes place at a sad time in history, and it shows us how war can change us. It a story about loss and what wars can take from us. I felt that it depicted war fairly realistically. We see the characters go hungry, march through mud, and talk of what they miss.

Content- There was some strong language, especially at the beginning as one character has quite the foul mouth,(I’m looking at you Moriarty) but after that it becomes more sporadic. Honestly, there isn’t a ton of dialogue, more focused on the journey. Also, surprisingly there isn’t really a battle scene. Yes, we do see some dead bodies or injured soldiers, but the fighting is more one-on-one combat. Several characters are shot at or stabbed. One scene where we see a medical tent full of injured soldiers. I will say that the violence wasn’t gratuitous. Also no sexual content at all.

Side note – If you love soundtracks, 1917, has a great soundtrack!

Lastly,

#6 Lost

Lost - The Complete First Season

Genre – Adventure, Mystery, Survival

Rating – This one is little bit of a mixed bag of marbles, Some episodes are PG while others are TV14.

Synopsis –

This is a hard show to write a synopsis for as it is so complex. I will give my best go at it. πŸ™‚ It starts off with a plane crash on a isolated island. There are roughly 40 survivors who try to set up a camp and figure out a way off the island. We slowly find out who the survivors are, and how they come to this island. The survivors fight a monster, wild animals, and their biggest threat, the Others. Will they ever make it off the island?

My Thoughts –

Just so you know this is a thinking show. There are many complex layers to this. I would really recommend starting at the beginning, as each episode gives you a little bit more info on what’s going on. Also, I would take this in smaller chunks. Characters who you don’t think matter, end up playing an important part later on. There are main characters who die, so if you don’t like shows that kill off characters, skip this one.

So far, I have really enjoyed this one!! We are currently in season 5. So I can not tell you whether I liked the end or not. There are so many interesting elements. The mystery surrounding the island, is slooowlyy explained. If you have seen Stranger Things, take that and multiply it’s slowness. Yet, it also a reason I like it. It makes you want to keep watching just to figure out what happens.

The characters in the show are also really fascinating. First, they all have flaws!! Every character comes to the island with baggage, whether that be an addiction, workaholic, or a crime record. So don’t expect the characters to be sweet. They do grow and change throughout. There was a few characters I hated, Jin, Sawyer, Locke, to name a few, but they do change for the better. There are some characters you cannot but help love them, Charlie, Desmond, Hurley, and Jack.

I will give a heads up that this show does lots and lots of flashbacks/flash forwards. It takes some getting used to, but overall it helps develop the characters. I would say that I really loved seasons 1&2. Season 4 was also really interesting.

Content – So, to start, the first 2 episodes could definitely be considered scary/gory. So if you can get past that, you start to get some answers and the violence goes way down. People get shot, stabbed, and die. After the first couple episodes, not much blood shown, except for scraps and cuts. Two women go into labor, nothing shown. There is some language, but again varies from episode to episode. Sawyer is the biggest culprit, but mostly mild language. Two cases of infidelity. In one case the truth does come out, and the couple becomes better afterwards. The other case ends in divorce. In season 1 &2 we see ladies in bikinis/tank tops a couple times. There are several couples throughout the show. So there are several kisses. There were a couple scenes we skipped through, mostly dealing with Sawyer.

These are a couple shows that I have been watching during quarantine. What have you been watching? Have you seen any of these shows? If so, what are some of your favorite characters?

Review for At Home in Mitford

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At Home in Mitford by Jan Karen

Genre – Christian fiction, Mystery

Series – 1st in Mitford series

Rating – PG – for thematic elements

Synopsis –

Father Tim is an aging bachelor who is just worn out from life. He has ministered to the Mitford parish for 25 years. Yet, now that he is in his 60s, his life seems to be throwing him several curve-balls. First, a large dog follows him around town. Then an 11 year old boy needs a home while his grandpa recovers from pneumonia. Later on food is disappearing from the church refrigerator. Lastly, a new neighbor has moved in and the Father begins to like her. Will Father Tim figure out a way to juggle these things?

Summary –

Since I haven’t been able to go to the library for a while, I have been catching up on reading books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for way too long. This was a gem!! I have never read anything by this author before so it was a complete surprise. I had recently finish Christy, which was OK in its own right, but this blew it out of the water.

To start the characters felt like people who you would meet walking down the street. They all had flaws and issues they were working through. Father Tim was a gentle shepherd. It was interesting to see him take his flock so seriously. Each week he would visit just about his everyone in his church. Dooley was quite a handful, but he provided some needed humor. Father Tim takes him under his wing and provides a home. Also the character Emma is a hoot.

There were a few twists I didn’t see coming which I appreciated. The mystery is just a small portion of the book, but it pays off hugely in the end. Also, I laughed out loud several times. The novel uplifted me, plain and simple. It was refreshing to have a clean, wholesome story.

There are some theological discussions sprinkled throughout the story. Several characters come to know the Lord which is always neat to see. The Father is an Episcopalian, which is a denomination that I didn’t know much about. So I learned a few things along the way like gospel side vs. epistle side.

Language – Only one foul word used by someone who wasn’t a believer

Violence – A character is shot off the page. Also there are characters who were ill. Mention of a heart transplant.

Innuendo – As Father Tim falls for Cynthia, they talk about going steady. A few mentions of wanting to hold her. One kiss on the cheek.

Conclusion –

If you are looking for a wholesome story that is not dark, I would recommend this book. I loved the small town community as it felt like I had stepped back in time. Its the type of book that will make you laugh and then cry as the story unfolds.

Have you read any books in this series? How is your March going? Cannot wait to hear from you!

Anna