Summer Reading: Mini-Reviews

As summer has progressed, I’ve gotten busier. The good news is I’ve managed to keep track on writing. The bad news is that my reading list has suffered.


Some of you might remember was writing monthly reviews on what I’d read, but I realized I’d only be posting about one or two books a month, so I decided I’d settle for writing seasonal mini-reviews on the fiction I’d been reading.

a-branch-of-silver-a-branch-of-goldOverview: When Heloise’s sister vanishes, she will do anything to get her back. No matter the cost.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4.5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: I loved the depth of the fantasy world and the characters. I also liked how there was very little romance…a few hints of what could happen towards the end, but that was it. This is the first book in a series and, while ending the story, A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold was left very open ended (obviously). The climax of the book was exciting but *spoilers* I did feel like it more involved Heloise reacting to situations and accepting help than actively forcing a conclusion.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. This book was an exciting read and I enjoyed how the focus was more sibling orientated than romance orientated…though that is something which I’ve a feeling won’t continue through the series.


Overview: Once a transformation called the Shaod gave ordinary humans power. Now it is a disease. For those who are struck, there is no cure and they are thrown into the city they once ruled, Elantris. But while Elantris is rotting from the inside, not all is well in the lands under its shadow either.

Technical aspects: Writing: 5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5

My thoughts: This is the closest to an ‘epic’ fantasy I’ve read in awhile. The book is long, but I didn’t find it slow. Also, three cheers for a story contained in a single book! I loved the depth of the fantasy world and the multiple threads of politics and religion with influence the story. The themes of loyalty and doing one’s duty are strong, but Elantris is not a Christian fiction book so the religions are just that, belief systems of the world. They’re not allegorical, they are just there. There is also a magical element in the story with an abstract force which can be tapped into by those with the right abilities.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. I love fantasy, so I loved all the subplots and threads of this story, but this book isn’t for everyone. However, if you enjoy world-building and don’t mind an abstract view of magic or fictional religions (they play a fairly large part in the story, though their details aren’t gone into much…it’s political as much as anything else) then I’d definitely recommend the book for those 13 and up (due to an element of violence which isn’t graphic, but is still present).

cave-worldOverview: Donny enjoys writing about his science-fiction world where all worlds are connected by the caves of the planet Arrax. What he doesn’t expect is to be caught into his own world.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4 of 5 – Characters: 4.5 of 5 – Dialogue: 4 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: Cave World was a fun read. I loved the humor included as well as the idea of meeting one’s characters and entering a world one has created. The characters were fun and the plot moved quickly.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. An enjoyable read, but I’d recommend it for those 13 and up since it is on the darker side of Christian science fiction when it comes to violence.

Overview: What if some people have the gift to read characters out of books? And what happens when the villains escape and want to use the reader’s gift for their own profit.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4.5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5

My thoughts: I’ve read Inkheart and Inkspell, and Inkdeath is on my list sometime soon. These books are charming and well written with great characters. The first one started a little slow, the next one not so much. But even if it takes 100 or so pages before the story is moving quickly, they are also 500+ pages long so there is plenty of time for action. Warning: there are a few minor swear words, mainly when the aunt is talking.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. I’ve enjoyed these books very much. As I mentioned before, I love writers meeting characters and the idea of going into a book.

the-secret-of-the-lost-settlementOverview: A Colonel must find proof to save himself and his friend from the gallows while two brothers eager for an adventure take it upon themselves to help him.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4 of 5 – Characters: 4 of 5 – Dialogue: 4 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: Secret of the Lost Settlement brings Colonel Nobody from The Boy Colonel and Lawrence and Chester from Brothers at Arms together in one adventure. This is a fairly quick and enjoyable read.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. If you’ve read the first two books, then this book is a fun sequel where you can see your favorite characters again.

What about you? Have you, or will you, read any of the books I’ve mentioned? What have you been reading this summer?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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  1. I have read The Secret of the Lost Settlement. The book I most want read put of the ones you have mentioned is Inkheart. I have been reading The Scarlet Pimpernel, A Tale of Two Cities, A Study in Scarlet, and Glennal’s Betrayel.

  2. Elantris is soo good! It was the first Sanderson book I read and since then I have bought more and more of his books because amazingness!!!!

  3. I HATED Secret of the Lost Settlement. There were some good bits, but for the most part it was so poorly done I was just like… no. For one the theme was terribly handled and really destroyed by some completely meaningless plot-twists (aka deaths) at the end. And though the setting (living time capsule? Yes please!) is so unique and has so much potential, hardly ANY of that was capitalized on like it should have been.
    I was extremely disappointed. John J. Horn is not a fantastic author in the first place, but I expected more from him.
    My loss. :/

    *deep breath*
    Yes. Mini rant over. 😛

    • So you come out of your wifi proof shell to criticize a book? Figures. *smirks* You must have really hated it.

      The main thing I enjoyed about Secret of the Lost Settlement was being able to see the characters. As for a theme…I couldn’t even tell you what the theme was besides a generally Christian worldview. The writing isn’t the best, but it’s not the worst I’ve read… *sighs* It’s definitely at the lower end of four stars, but I wasn’t expecting too much going in and I try not to be too harsh on other writers (in public, at least).

      • Haha… we finished our hiking early and came home to the lodge before bedtime, so we has time to do the things we likes, precious. 😉

        Yes, I will confess I was pleased to meet the characters again. And I must admit the story kept me moving until the end. So it wasn’t completely horrible. 😉 But my overall impression was not favorable.
        The theme, I think, was supposed to be that no matter what’s happened to you or what you’ve done, God can still use you, which was going pretty strong with Noble, and then got ruined with Matthew. 🙁 And the twist with Edmund was just completely random, which is why it didn’t have the power it otherwise could’ve. *shrugs* *sighs*
        I hate being a writer sometimes. 😛

        • I know. *sighs* There are some books I used to love, then I try to read them again and the writing is just awful. Though there are one or two authors I read anyway because I love their stories. At least that means that when I do find a really good book, I enjoy it all the more.

      • Corissa, Maiden of Praise

        *jumps into the conversation late* *pretends I’ve been here all along* *smiles*

        Yes, The Secret Settlement was not his best work, that’s for sure… of all the books of his I’ve read (3) I’d have to say that The Boy Colonel was my favorite. 🙂

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