Review for The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Genre – Adventure, Historical, Suspense, Romance

Series – No

Rating – PG-13 for violence, death, and an affair

Synopsis –

Edmund Dantes is a young sailor returning from a fated voyage. He is brimming with joy as he has his father, a future as captain of the Pharaon, and is engaged to his beautiful fiance, Mercedes. He does not realize the dark turn of events that will change his life forever. Three men sit at an outdoor cafe create an anonymous note that paints Dantes in a dangerous light. Their names are Fernand, Danglars, & Caderousse. At his betrothal feast, he is put under arrest for being in possession of a Bonapartist letter. Despite his innocence, the deputy crown prosecutor finds his letter which betrays his father’s Bonapartist allegiance and covers it up by sending Dante to prison. Dante is in prison for 14 years. Will he find an escape? What will become of three men who sent an innocent man to his doom?

My Thoughts –

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I’m back!! Sorry about my long absence!! I feel like it’s been forever sense I have written a post! Let’s just say life has been busy. 😉 Plus, it took me a while to actually finish this book. Was it worth the several weeks it took?? Absolutely!!! I loved going back and rereading this classic. There were sections of the plot that I had vaguely remembered and others that felt completely new to me. Anyway, here I am and I’m going to put down my thoughts.

To start this is a massive book!! My copy is 1,243 pages. I believe War and Peace was just a tad longer, but not by much. Which is kinda funny cause The Count of Monte Cristo picks up only a few years in history after War & Peace . 😉 There are many subplots woven throughout and affect the main plot in intricate ways. Yet, they all come together and it eventually makes sense why we had all these odd sections of the story. Trust me on this! It does pay off, massively! Real quickly, there are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t read it yet tread carefully!

Now, with a such a large book, you would except lots of characters. And there you are right!! There is a ton of characters some from the days when Dante was a young lad, who come back after his escape. Others seem to be completely new *cough* Albert and Franz, looking at you. Dumas does tend to help the reader out by reminding us occasionally who everyone is which is handy. The few characters I struggled with were Albert’s bigwig friends. Who don’t play a major role, but tend to pop up every now and again.

Many of the characters you cannot help but fall in love with like the Abbe Faria, Valentine, Mercedes, Morrel & Dantes himself. I remembered liking the Abbe from my previous read and I found I liked his wit and immense knowledge of the world and languages that he passes on to Dantes. Valentine is so sweet and innocent & I love her love for her grandfather, who at first seemed kinda a scoundrel, but does grow on me. Her relationship with Morrel is an interesting romance. They have so many obstacles to overcome, and yet Morrel is patient. It’s hard to pinpoint what I like about Mercedes as she is more of a complex character who for the majority of the book sits backstage. She loves her son and has endured some tough times.

Then we come to Dantes. What a character arc he goes on!! I kinda had a love/hate relationship with him. On the one hand his friends betrayed him and married his fiance so kinda deserve his revenge. On the other Dantes becomes consumed by his revenge and at times allows the innocent to suffer. Dantes does do it with class and almost uses other characters to pull the trigger if you will. His climax at the end of the book got to me. After seeing what had occurred at the Villefort home, he is overcome with just how far he went down this path. Does have regrets with how everything happened? Yes, I believe so. We see a bit of it with how he treats Morrel. Does he get a happy ending? To an extent, yes.

And what about the villains you ask? Well, most of them I truly despised. Danglars being the worst scoundrel. Ugh, his whole family is rather atrocious.

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Fernand was second to Danglars. He actually sent the evil letter. Caderousse while despicable, wasn’t a complete goner. I had hope for him, sadly that didn’t help. Villefort was the only scoundrel you feel a bit sorry for.

I did want to briefly mention the pacing. For being an adventure novel, it starts off with quite a bang. The first 2oo pages or so move quickly and set everything in motion. Then after that we get a lull.

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There were a few chapters that really dragged, but the whole Roman Bandits chapter could have been completely cut. No use at all, except to give background to a minor character. Just why??

Before I finish, I did want to mention how surprised I was at how Dumas wove some philosophical and religious discussions into the book , similar to War & Peace. There is a brilliant quote during Dantes imprisonment, “God is the last refuge. Such unfortunates, who should begin with Our Lord, only come to trust in Him after exhausting all other sources of hope” (Dumas, p.131). Later, Dante truly believed he was being used by God to minister God’s vengeance. Many of the characters take to praying to God throughout the book which you just don’t see in many books these days. At the very end Dantes comes to realize that the Almighty is the only one who can hold supreme power and the ultimate judge.

Language – Mild infrequent uses of language. Mostly kept within the PG realm.

Violence – There is quite a bit of it. You have a character killed by Caderousse in cold blood for money. During an affair, Villefort tries to kill a baby, turns out someone saves the baby. Mrs. Villefort poisons several members of her family, again for money. Fernand commits suicide. Several other characters die various deaths.

Innuendo – There are two affairs that occur. The first is between Mr. Danglars & Mrs. Villefort. Theirs is pretty subtle. I missed it at first only later do you see its implications. Nothing overt though. Then you have Mrs. Danglars and Lucian Debray. Again, Dumas is subtle so you blink you’ll miss it.

Conclusion –

Honestly, it has been wonderful to read this classic again!! This is a book that I will probably return to in the future as well. There are so many good themes throughout and I picked up on different things this go around. The characters were not so cut and dry. They had depth to them. If you haven’t read this book yet, I’d highly recommend picking it up!! I am hoping to add more classics to my reading list. Any suggestions?

* Up next I will be starting a lighter read – an installment in The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series & listening to Silas Marner (a reread for me).

Have you read it? What are your thoughts? How is your winter going?

Anna

Review for Caraval

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Genre – Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Series – 1st book in the Caraval series

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and innuendo

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion –

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

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

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

Anna

Marvel Cinematic Universe Tag

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

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

1. What is Your Favorite Movie?

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

2. What is Your Favorite Stan Lee Cameo?

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

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

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

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

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

5. What is the Funniest Moment?

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

6. Who is Your Favorite Villain?

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

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7. What is Your Favorite Power or Technology?

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

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

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

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

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

10. Who is Your Favorite Ship?

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

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

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

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

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

Anna

Review for Nova

Nova by Chuck Black

Genre – Christian Fiction, Fantasy, & Sci-fi

Series – 1st in The Starlore Legacy

Rating – PG – for science fiction related battles and violence

Synopsis –

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

My Thoughts –

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

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

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

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

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

Language – None

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

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

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

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

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

Anna

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 😉 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

2020 in Review

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

Now on to some of my favorite books!!

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#6 Offworld by Robin Perrish

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

#5 Flight of Angels by Allen and Aaron Reini

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

#4 Maze Runner by James Dashner

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

#3 Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

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

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


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

And my favorite book of this year is …….

#1 Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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

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

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

Anna

Top Audiobooks of 2020

I have listened so a handful of audiobooks this year, less then I did last year. Probably due to the pandemic and less driving. 🙁 Anyway, I wanted to mention a few that I have really enjoyed. Most of these the narrator does a great job drawing you into the story, with one exception. I’m not going to list these any particular order.

On with the show!

  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow

This year I dipped my toe in a fair amount of Russian themed books. I had come across A Gentleman in Moscow on several blogs and decided I was in the mood to travel back in time to 1922 Moscow. 😉 I really enjoyed this one!! Nicholas Smith narrates and truly brings the character Count Alexander Rostov to life. It tells the story of Count Rostov and how the Bolshevik tribunal place him under house arrest at the fancy Hotel Metropol. While there, he meets some of the most interesting people who help break up him hum drum existence and change his life. This is a whopper of an audiobook as it clocks in at 17 hours, but I’d highly recommend listening to it!

  • The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
The Night Gardener

After reading the first two books in the Peter Nimble Adventures, I found that the author had written several other novels. This particular one peaked by interested. It tells the story of siblings who work as servants inside an old manor house. The family that lives there seem to be plagued by problems. The siblings resolve to mind their own business and just do their job, but when Kip sees a mysterious spectre roaming the grounds, Molly needs to figure out what is going on before it’s too late. While creepy at times, it becomes more of a fable for what happens when people become greedy. Beverly Crick adds to the quirky characters. While the book is aimed at middle graders, I’d say young adult on up.

  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
My Lady Jane Audiobook By Cynthia Hand,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Brodi Ashton,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Jodi Meadows cover art

Years ago I had read about the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey. This retelling throws history out the window and embarks on its own fantasy twist to the tale. I love retellings and decided to give this one a try. It’s narrated by Katherine Kellgren, and I can honestly say I wasn’t a huge fan of either the book or the narration style. I feel like it had a lot of potential, but I didn’t like the lead character who seemed very prideful to me. Anyway, it was a pretty light and fluffy audiobook, good for the summer (as it has that feel and that’s when I listened to it).

  • The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

This was probably my favorite of the audiobooks I listened to this year!! Also, was of the shorter audiobooks only a little over 7 hours, but it is packed with charm and whimsy! The lead character is very relatable and the narrator, Elizabeth Jasicki, did it justice! It is about 15 year old Jennifer Strange who currently runs Kazam, a employment agency for magicians. She has things running as smoothly as they can while the real owner is missing. Yet, odd things begin to happen as the last dragon is predicted to die shortly. The long and short of it is, is a coming of age story with fantasy set in a world very similar to our own. I’d highly recommend giving this one a go!

  • Britt Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman
Britt-Marie Was Here Audiobook By Fredrik Backman cover art

This was the book club’s pick for the month of November and I really enjoyed it quite a bit! I had never read anything by Backman prior to this. So, it was a fun surprise. The narrator is fantastic at giving all the characters a varied voice and made you feel for Britt-Marie. After finding out her husband was having an affair, Britt Marie finds one of the few jobs available for someone her age, running a youth center in Borg. The people in this small broken down village lead Britt-Marie to discover who she really is and what she wants from life. There are so many heartwarming scenes that will make you laugh and then cry. *Warning* The language in this one is rough and used throughout by certain characters.

  • Tarzan of the Apes by Edger Rice Burroughs
Tarzan of the Apes

This was a re-listen for me as I had read this several years ago. To prepare for reading the next book, Return of Tarzan, I figured I’d listen to it in order to re-familiarize myself with the story. Tarzan’s parents die tragically in the jungle leaving behind a wee baby. Kala the ape had just lost her baby and adopts Tarzan as her own. Tarzan grows up with the apes and learns their ways and language. He doesn’t meet one of his own kind until a African native kills Kala. He begins to learn to read and write. When a ship brings Jane Porter and her father Archimedes Porter, Tarzan must decide whether he wants to stay in the jungle or leave for civilization. I enjoyed revisiting the jungle! Jeff Harding does a wonderful job narrating.

Well, that’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed seeing what I listened to this year. Cannot wait to hear from you all! Do you enjoy audiobooks? Or prefer an actual book? What did you listen to this year?

Anna

Review of Ishmael

Ishmael by E. D. E. N. Southworth

Genre – Adult, Historical, Christian Fiction

Series – 1st of two books, followed by Self-Raised

Rating – PG for thematic elements and discussions of a illegitimate birth.

Synopsis –

Hannah and Nora are two sisters who, although they are dirt poor, are quite content with their life. Until Nora meets Herman Brudenell, the handsome land owner’s son. Nora falls in love with him despite Hannah being very obstinate against it. They are soon married in secret for Herman’s mother’s sake. A series of events leads to Nora’s death in childbirth, and cause Herman to flee his newly born son, Ishmael. Despite the odds against him, Ishmael lives. He faces many hardships on his road to understand the world around him.

My Thoughts –

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I finally finished it! Whoohoo! It took me a while to work my way through Ishmael, but hey, at least I made it. My goal was to finish before Christmas, so check that off the list. I cannot say this was my favorite Lamplighter book, but there were some good elements to it. Quite a bit different from any of the other Lamplighters that I had read previously.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritties shall we? To start the character development and setting are spot on! Southworth does a great job giving the characters a backstory and motives for their growth or moral decline. The setting felt real, probably due to fact that this book was written close to time it was set. Ishmael is a likeable character, you root for him to be victorious over the circumstances of his birth and childhood years. Although, for the majority of the book, he felt almost too perfect. He didn’t have any major flaws to speak of, until literally the last chapter. So, that got on my nerves a bit. Beatrice is great women who loves and sacrifices her wants for her friend Claudia.

Now, I had one major problem with it – main character love interest. He fell for the snotty and proud Claudia who views him as a dog. Ugh, this annoyed me so much. He literally will do anything she asks. I really wanted Ishmael to realize how Beatrice felt and cared about him. That being said thankfully the romance side of the story takes a backseat to his growth as a person and Ishmael climbing the proverbial work ladder.

Southworth does a great job weaving faith throughout the book. We see Ishmael’s faith in the Lord grow from barely recognizing his Creator and almost worshiping the founding fathers to a strong devotion to the Lord and reliance upon him. Even Hannah, listened to her dying sister and opted to leave revenge in God’s hands. She could very easily have told everyone the truth of Ishmael’s parentage. So, I appreciated that aspect.

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I do have to mention that it moves very slowly. The plot takes it times and meanders a little bit which was part of the reason I struggled to really sink into the novel. Maybe it’s just me being picky. 😉 Whatever the reason, (mentally saying quote from the Grinch) just wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

Language – Just a few uses of mind swearing, used by Ishmael’s rivals.

Innuendo – Several of his schoolmates make fun of his birth. Leads to several characters believing that Ishmael was born out of wedlock.

Violence – A house is burning and Ishmael rushes in to save to boys who were trapped. He suffered some burns and bruises. Later, he endeavors to halt a runaway horse and carriage. He is trampled by the horse and wheels of carriage. He breaks a few ribs and both of his legs, maybe his arm as well.

Conclusion –

I can say that I enjoyed bits and pieces. There were many aspects of the book that were very compelling and realistic. Several character just annoyed me with their constant pettiness, but the main character was devoted to the Lord. Written during a very interesting time in history. I can say I read it! Overall, word building was fantastic and very clean.

How is your December going? Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?

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.

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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

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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. 🙁 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. 😉 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.

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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