Hello again, last you all heard I had reread The Mysterious Benedict Society. Well I went on to reread the second book in the MBS series, which was lovely and a nice break from all long and more tedious books I embarked upon. 🙂 After which one of the ladies in my book club recommended a survival book which fit my mood, particularly with all this cold weather we are having. It was a fascinating read; I truly love hearing how people survive rough conditions.
438 Days An Extraordinary True Story of Survival At Sea
by Jonathan Franklin
Genre – Nonfiction, Survival
Series – No
Rating – PG-13 for infrequent language and drug use
For most of his life Alvarenga lives on the sea. After leaving El Salvador to come to Mexico, he finds a place there. He works hard as a shark fisherman and usually brings in quite the catch. In November Alvarenga and a novice fisherman named Cordoba head out to hit a particular spot where the fish are biting. While there a storm comes in and wreaks havoc on their expedition. They try to head back to shore, but loss their anchor and have engine trouble. This is a true story of how these men fight to survive in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
My Thoughts –
Throughout most of this book, I became enthralled with Alvarenga’s journey. I’d never heard his story before and became sucked into the world of fishing. The whole fishing industry situation in Mexico was sad. I mean these fisherman get paid pittance compared to what the actual fish cost.
In all honestly, I probably would not have survived what he went through. I am a picky eater and would not have been able to eat birds. I mean he ate the whole bird bones, feathers and all. Also, shark skin. He literally did whatever he could and ate anything that came his way. It boggles my mind that he spent that year on just a tiny boat with no covering. With most of his time being spent in an icebox!! It would be interesting to see where Alvarenga is at today and if he ever found help for his back pain.
Both Alvarenga and Cordoba sound like interesting men. Kinda surprised how big the drug industry was even for poor fisherman. I could connect with Cordoba’s fear and anxiety during the first storm. Where would that put your state of mind? Being overtaken by a fierce almost hurricane and unable to reach the shore only 20 miles away.
To me there is no doubt in my mind that the Lord was watching over Alvarenga and brought him through this horrible situation. Our bodies are such miraculous things; it truly gives credit to our Creator. It was neat to see Alvarenga turn at least to believing the possibility that there was God out there. I would imagine it would be easy to blame God for this horrible situation and become bitter, but instead the opposite happened and this man softened to the truth.
Content – There is infrequent swearing throughout as well mentions of drug use. We also are told that Alvarenga was quite the ladies man, often dating more then one women. He had a daughter our to wedlock who plays a role in the book as well
I got to say this truly was an incredible story. The first chapter or so dragged a bit as they gave a lot of back story. However, it picks up and takes you on a wild ride through the Doldrums and the Pacific Ocean. What’s crazy is that this took place only a few years ago. It’s hard to picture places so desolate where there is not a single soul. I’d highly recommend this if you enjoy survival stories!!
Up next – I’m reading Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children. I saw the movie and really loved it so am giving the book a try.
Over to you all! What’s your favorite survival book/movie? Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?
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. 😉
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
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.
“”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)
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?
Well folks, I know its been awhile since I have popped on here. Now that the holidays are upon us I am hoping to do more posts. This book was chosen by my book club for our nonfiction pick of the month. I’d never heard of it before reading it. Typically, I steer clear of nonfiction as it just doesn’t grab me. I prefer to escape through fiction and enjoy characters growth inside new worlds. Now, I set a goal for myself that I’d finish this before Thanksgiving. I really didn’t want a weighty book for Thanksgiving break. I can say I accomplished this goal!!
Lincoln on the Verge Thirteen Days to Washington
by Ted Widmer
Genre – Nonfiction, Historical
Series – No
Rating – PG for mild discussions of slavery and mentions of assassination
Basically this covers the 13 days Lincoln traveled from Springfield to Washington before his inauguration. We see a bit about his election and just how close the race was. Widmer also discusses how dangerous these few days were for the president-elect. He ends with the impact that Lincoln’s death had on uniting the American people.
My Thoughts –
I’ll be honest. The start of the book was dull and felt like the author had just assembled facts together related to one individual’s election. After the first chapter which introduces us to Lincoln’s plan to meander across America, the author then launches into a whole chapter devoted to railroads and how travel became more accessible to the people. However, one the journey began it did get a bit more interesting. I will say that I learned quite a bit about Lincoln, particularly related to the multiple assassination attempts throughout his journey.
The focus of the book is Lincoln. We don’t really see much of his family life. Widmer uses many quotes from John Hay, who was Lincoln’s assistant secretary. Hay gives inside to Lincoln’s behavior. I was surprised at how melancholy Lincoln seemed throughout his journey to Washington. It it mentioned several times that Lincoln had a feeling that he’d never be back to his home in Springfield. Especially near the end of his life, the author indicates, “That night, as he headed to the theater, he said “good-bye” to Crook instead of the usual “good-night.” (Widmer p. 450). I cannot imagine the weight of being president entails.
This book does portray just how committed Lincoln was to the cause of freedom and following the founding fathers vision for this new country. Throughout the 13 days that Lincoln traveled, he willingly put himself in harms way. He shook thousands of hands and after one evening, his hands became painful. Even just by visiting these states on his path to Washington, Lincoln raised morale and united a nation on the brink of collapse. At one point Lincoln could barely speak and yet he still gave a speech.
Now, the author doesn’t mention it, but to me it felt that the Lord played a big part in protection Lincoln. He had many close calls even from his own fans. In one instance a cannonball hit the train and shattered a window close to the Lincoln family. Throughout his travels, Lincoln was up close and personal with crowds of people and very readily someone could have taken a shot at him. Without Lincoln, who knows where our country would be today. My opinion of Lincoln has definitely increased.
I have one complaint that bugged me quite a bit. Widmer repeated himself a lot. He truly nailed down how homely and tall Lincoln was. It got very repetitive! Same with the different cities Lincoln visited. The author rehashed the same thoughts – big crowds, speeches, late nights, and how tired Lincoln was throughout it all. I get the point. Being a president is tiresome and hard work, I just wish that the author could have written it a different way.
Lincoln on the Verge is long and at times tedious. However, it is very informative about this small section of Lincoln’s life. I learned more then I had anticipated I would. If you enjoy American history or look up to Abraham Lincoln, this gives an interesting look at this famous man’s travel to become president.
Up next – I’m rereading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. After all these long books recently, I need something lighthearted! 😉
How about you? What books are you reading this November? Do you enjoy history?
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 by Brandon Sanderson
Genre – Fantasy
Series – 1st in The Stormlight Archive
Rating – PG-13 for battles, death, & murder
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.
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.
“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?
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.
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?
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!
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!
Movies Meet Their Match
And anyone else who like to join!! Here are the questions –
Guys, so I discovered this book via the movie several years ago and loved it!! The movie moved me. Shortly after, I read the book. I remember liking it, but preferring the movie. It’s been several years, leading to the book version fading from my mind. I’ve been wanting to reread it for about a year now. Finally, had a break in my other books and went for it. Gosh, it was so good! Better then I had remembered.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Genre – Historical fiction, WW2
Series – No
Rating – PG-13 for death and language
Death begins by explaining that he’s been drawn to certain humans. Their lives intrigue him. He begins the book with the ending with Liesel Meminger buried beneath rubble. Liesel is a young nine year old girl whose mother put her in the care of the foster family during World War II. After seeing her brother die, she faces nightmares. Her foster family consists of Hans & Rosa Hubermann, who couldn’t be more different.
First off, I liked the book way more this second time around! I think my problem before was that I compared it so much to the movie that I didn’t fully appreciate the book’s uniqueness. The Book Thief holds some deep themes like forgiveness, loss, death, and the power of words. I was struck by the colors used throughout the book. Both death and Liesel are attracted to color and the author brings it out beautifully.
If I’m honest, the character that stole my heart yet again, was Rudy! What a friend, he always went the extra mile where Liesel was concerned.
Although Hans Hubermann comes in a close second. What a great Father he is; he is a quiet and kind. The one who will sit by your side after waking from a nightmare and read with you til three in the morning. Despite the hardship and constant fear, he hides a Jewish man in his basement. Geoffrey Rush encompasses this character so well!
Also, Rosa is force to be reckoned with despite her animosity and swearing, there is heart underneath all that gruffness. I had completely forgotten the scene where she holds the accordion in her arms and prays for Hans’ safety. It showcases how we humans can be complicated, not all actions are black and white, sometimes they fall in the grey area.
The whole book focuses and brings out the emotions of this family which I love. We see the good, bad, and the ugly. Sometimes even the simplest thing like a cloud can bring a smile. 😉
Throughout the book, we get inserts from Death and his perspective on certain people or actions. So, sometimes, the plot slows down a bit. For sure this is a character driven novel, action falls secondary. If you have a problem with knowing how the end comes out at the beginning, you might want to steer clear. We are told multiple times how the ending plays out. Normally I hate skipping to the end, to me that just spoils the surprise, but this time it didn’t bother me. The ending is also a kicker!! So sad! I so wish Rudy had gotten his kiss.
“It felt as though the whole world was dressed in snow. Like it had pulled it one, the way you pull on a sweater.” (p. 6).
“The Book Thief had struck for the first time – the beginning of an illustrious career” (p.29).
“Insane or not Rudy was always destined to be Liesel’s best friend. A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship” (p.48).
“Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day. That was the business of hiding a jew” (p. 211).
“Why did I have to build that snowman?” Papa to his credit was adamant. “Liesel,” he said, “You had to.” (p. 316).
Content – There is a smattering of language throughout although 70% is done in German. There is death and sickness; we see villages bombed and several main characters are killed. During Rudy’s medical examination for the Nazis, he is forced to strip. This has quite an effect on him. He later tells Liesel and she ends up picturing the event.
The Book Thief can be a sucker punch to the ribs at times. Yet, it is deep and beautiful too. It is definitely worth a read and will leave an impact on you. I also highly recommend the movie too! Very well done!
Up Next – Working on Women who Risk for book club.
Over to you all! How’s your fall going? Have you read The Book Thief? What are your thoughts?
Rating – PG-13 for skirmishes, battles, and betrayal
Well folks, I’ve finished Dune a few days ago and it has been rolling around in my head. I picked this up at the library, sort of spur of the moment situation; I saw it sitting on the shelf and recalled that they were making a movie out of it. So I figured I’d give it a shot. This year has been my sci-fi year, am I right??
I went into it thinking it was going to be Tolkienesque with lots of descriptions and perhaps some dry bits. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Herbert was able to draw me into the story within a few chapters. Let me just say, Herbert’s word building is incredible. He masterfully creates a world that is different from our own, but also relatable. Arrakis sounds awful, but also has a natural beauty that I didn’t appreciate at first. You are drawn into his universe and yet, he doesn’t overwhelm you with ton of details at the start. He slowly builds the story.
Now, I’m torn about the characters. The characters I was drawn to were more minor, except for Paul. Paul started out really interesting with his Bene Gesserit training and visions of the future. I also liked that he was wrong on occasion despite all his wisdom. But later on once he realized he was Muad’dib he become less connectable. And I didn’t like him as much. He was a brilliant military strategist and I liked his friendship with Stilgar! In fact Stilgar was one of my favorite characters. He was a noble leader and cared for his people.
I also liked Duke Leto and Jessica to an extent. They made an interesting couple. The Emperor put him in tight position and he did the best he could. It would be interesting to see if Leto knew he would be betrayed? Chani was ok, didn’t really connect with her. Duncan Idaho went up in my opinion with his sacrifice. Wish he was in it a bit more.
Plot-wise, the best part for me was the survival in the desert. I love survival stories and this was neat to see how they conserved water. Also, the worms, loved how the Freman rode them. One of the reasons why I love sci-fi is seeing the creatures and worlds the authors create.
The main concern I had was the whole new age thing the Bene Gesserit taught. Very force like from Star Wars. I mean I get when you create a world, you sometimes create new religions, but it messed so many together, it got very convoluted in my opinion. Also, wasn’t a fan of the joined consciousnesses that Jessica did with the Reverend Mother. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. Coming from a Christian background, I don’t agree with many of the author’s ideas. Especially the stuff about being one with the world. I believe we are only here on this world for a little while and our job is to glorify the Creator.
Content – Language is pretty minimal, only a few mild choice words. Violence is pretty typical of a fantasy movie, we do see several characters poisoned. Several die by knife wounds. There are references to concubines. Mostly used as statement of fact, we don’t get details thankfully.
How to sum it all up? Its an interesting novel, with some political intrigue as well as a journey. I can see how this classic has influenced other sci-fi movies. I liked it a lot more then I had thought I would. Stayed engaged and interested in the plot to finish. I am curious to see what they do with the movie.
So, have any of you read Dune? What were your thoughts?
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.
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!
4. Gandalf: Favorite wise Tolkien quotation –
“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 –
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!
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!!
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.
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!
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!
I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately, however, I finished three odd, quirky, and a little bit different books that I want to discuss. I liked two of these and the last one I struggled to really enjoy.
So let’s talk books!
First, Arthur by Stephan Lawhead
Arthur by Stephen Lawhead
Genre – Fantasy, Historical & Christian Fiction
Series – Book 3 in The Pendragon Cycle
Rating – PG-13 for War
Using three different characters – Pelleas, Bedwyr, & Aneirin, we get a glimpse into who Arthur was and how he ruled his kingdom. We start with Arthur as a lad of 13 who is eager to earn honor. He is the rightful king of Britain, but the people do not acknowledge him and bicker amongst themselves. With the help of Merlin, Arthur begins to unite the land and fight for freedom.
My thoughts –
I’ve been a fan of Lawhead’s for quite some time. He has a way of crafting characters that leap off the page. We see flawed heroes who struggle with inner demons, but when push comes to shove they stand for truth and righteousness. In previous posts I’ve talked about how I love the Arthurian legend and this series has done a great job taking the characters we know and love and placing them in a totally different environment with a fresh perspective.
Of the three characters we hear from, Bedwyr was my favorite. He is the war hero who fights alongside Arthur during their many battles against Picti, Irish and other barbarians. I didn’t really care for Pelleas as we never really got to know him as a person. He was always off to the side helping Merlin on his adventures. Aneirin did grow on me, but I just didn’t click with him. Now I really loved the portrayal of Arthur and Merlin’s friendship. Merlin is more of a mentor, but also a close friend to Arthur. We also had Gwenhwyvar who is an Irish princess that marries Arthur. It was nice to see her more as a warrior maiden as opposed to her and the whole Lancelot thing.
A neat aspect that Lawhead throws in is the Christendom of Britain. We get to see how the faith spreads across all of Britain. Instead of being a magician, Merlin is more of a prophet who is given visions. He is staunch advocate for following Jesu and instructs Arthur in the Lord.
“I left him staring into the red-gold embers, searching the myriad paths of the Otherworld for that which would bring him wisdom and courage” (p. 26).
Myrddin gave a bitter laugh and raised a hand to his eyes. “I was blind before, but now I see quite clearly; My Lord is all-sufficient to his own defense. He did not need my help. It is he who saves and protects, not me, never Myrddin” (p. 222).
“Buffeted by wind and battle roar, we stood to the barbarian host and our swords ran red” (p. 306).
While Arthur is a bit slower with more battles then Merlin was, I liked it a lot! You can see my thoughts on Merlin here –Review for Merlin. Now if you aren’t a huge battle fan, this might not be the book for you. There are many technical battles with a fair bit of violence. It is an interesting read though and if you like the Arthurian legend, I’d highly recommend it.
Content – Really, mostly violence. We hear about how battlefields run red with blood. Many characters are killed in battle or mortally wounded. Arthur cuts off heads of certain barbarians. There is one scene with Nimue or Morgian tries to seduce Pelleas. He senses something is not right and resists her.
Rating – PG-13 for brief use of strong language and mention of an affair
Bee’s parents had told her that if she got straight A’s in 8th grade, they’d grant her a wish. All Bee wants is a family trip to Antarctica. Her mom Bernadette freaks out at hearing this. Bernadette hates people and stays home as much as possible. However her and her husband, Elgie agree to take Bee to Antarctica. In order to prepare, Bernadette has her virtual assistant take care of everything from ordering supplies to getting an anti-nausea medication. Things start to derail when Bernadette disappears during an intervention. Where did she go?
My thoughts –
This is an epistolary novel told from Bee’s perspective, but also other characters as well. Bee is combining emails from her mom and putting them together to figure out where her mom went. It’s different odd and quirky all at the same time. I’m not a huge fan epistolary books, as most of the time, I find it hard to connect with the characters. However, I found myself rooting for Bernadette and really liking her relationship with her daughter.
I liked that we got to see the character’s flaws. Bernadette isn’t perfect, she argues with school moms and erects a sign prohibiting trespassing on her property. Bee struggles with her dad and they get into a pretty big fight. Elgie and Bernadette’s marriage is in a rough patch and to compensate that Elgie works more and more. All of this to say, Semple writes some very real characters. I don’t agree with some of the choices they make, but we are all sinners in need of grace. That stands out to me in this book.
There were several sections that dragged on and I had to keep pushing myself through. One part looks back at Bernadette’s life when she was an architect and we see all the hard work she put into 2 homes, one that was destroyed. This began her dislike of people and her escape from California. However, I really liked the end!! I brought things together and made me very happy!
“The only way to get to Antarctica is by cruise ship. Even the smallest one has 150 passengers, which translates into me being trapped with 149 other people who will annoy the . . . out of me” (p. 10).
“Not a terrible thing to be getting out of the house while this infernal machine with spikes, telescoping arms and vicious rotors is chewing up my hillside” (p. 55).
Content – Language is used infrequently throughout, with several uses of strong language. Also, Elgie has an affair with his assistant. Bernadette figures it out, but wants to stay together and Elgie drops everything to find his wife.
Lastly, Crossing to Safety
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Genre – Marriage, Friendships
Series – No
Rating – PG
Hmm, how to give this book a summary. Well, its a story of two families. Larry is looking back at his life and friendship with the Sid and Charity Lang, so we get alternating chapters of his life now vs their younger years. Larry and Sally Morgan have just moved for Larry’s job as an English professor at a university. They are dirt poor and not a friend for miles. They are newlyweds to boot. After a chance meeting with the Lang’s at a dinner party, the Morgan’s and Lang’s become fast friends. We see their friendship blossom throughout the years.
My Thoughts –
I honestly don’t remember how I found this book, but its been on my list to read for while now. While I was sick, this happened to be the book I worked my way though. Cannot say I really loved this one. Its a slow moving story, definitely focused on the characters and their lives. We see them go through losing a job, writing a book, and facing illness. It an intimate look at marriage and friendship and how they impact each other.
Of the characters, I liked Sally the best. She is a patient soul who endures much and remains content. Her friendship with Charity is sweet and these two women help each other through a lot. Charity is a very strong independent women who is very much in charge of the household with Sid just along for the ride. We see this impact their marriage. I liked Sid and there were times when I wanted him to stand up to Charity.
Wagner has very poetical style of writing. He describes the scenery constantly, some of it is very beautiful, but after a while, I kept thinking, ok, let’s move on. He does make you want to travel back in time to the 30’s and just take a walk in the woods or have a picnic like the Lang’s.
I have to say though, I absolutely hated the ending!! It left a very sour taste in my mouth. I kept saying, Why??? After all they have been through, that how you want to die?
I’ll leave you with a good quote
“Dew has soaked everything. I could wash my hands in the ferns, and when I pick a leaf off a maple branch I get a shower on my head and shoulders” (p. 5).
For some reason, these three books keep popping up in my mind. They are each unique and they linger, making you think about them. By far, Arthur is my favorite of the three! We see a side of the Arthurian legend that we don’t normally get to see. There were several times in Where’d You Go Bernadette? that I laughed out loud. I appreciate a book that can make me laugh.
Have you ever had a book that sticks with you long after you finish the pages? Have you heard or read any of these books? What have you been reading this summer?
Up next – I am starting The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow.