Winter Reading: Mini-Reviews

Well… it’s been a long time since I’ve done this, but here we go. Book reviews on some of my reading over this past winter.

Cress and Winter

Overview: The final two books of the Lunar Chronicles… I enjoyed the series but, all told, Cinder was my favorite. I loved her story and her character and I found myself looking forward to getting back to the parts with her and with Kai.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4.3 of 5 – Characters: 4.5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5

My thoughts: Winter did get a little long. I thought it could have been better if the climax happened a few hundred pages earlier. I enjoyed the series as a whole, though not enough to reread them (not as if I’m rereading much of all these days). And, like I said, Cinder was my definite favorite – both the book and character.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. They are interesting. Keep in mind that romance is also a big part of each book. It never gets terrible, but by book four you do have four couples and all the attendant brooding and misunderstandings that goes along with it. 😉

The Lays of Beleriand

Overview: Containing various lays by Tolkien, this book also goes through some of his changes to both the stories and the wording. I did read that part, but focused mainly on the lays. I’ve never read much poetry, though these are too epic to just be called poems. I loved them so much, even if some of them just… ended. *sniffs*

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

My thoughts: The lays were beautiful. I absolutely loved them. These are one of the few things I’ll have to reread one of these days.

Recommendation:  5 of 5. I want nothing more than to find someone who hasn’t read them, sit them down by a crackling fire, and read these out loud. Even better… if someone who could pronounce all the names wanted to read them to me, I could listen for hours.

The Napoleon of Notting Hill and The Ball and the Cross

Overview: The Napoleon of Notting Hill deals with nationalism, in which England is plunged back into a medieval type of formality, while The Ball and the Cross follows two men trying to find a quiet place to duel to the death due to their argument on the view of God’s existence.

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

My thoughts: Love these books! Chesterton’s works are fascinating and thought-provoking. I love his sarcasm and the theme and philosophy woven into both of these works.

Recommendation:  5 of 5. Granted, The Napoleon of Notting Hill does start rather slow, but both books are fascinating, both in their themes and in philosophy. I highly recommend them.

 

And there you have it. Yes, I’ve read more than these books over the winter. But either they were nonfiction or I didn’t feel like reviewing them for various reasons… 😉 I did reach my 100 book goal last year, and am 20 books into another 100 book goal for this year. We’ll see how that goes…

How about you? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What was your favorite read this winter?

Autumn Reading: Mini-Reviews

Despite lack of time, I did get a good amount of reading done this summer.

Inkdeath

Overview: Yes, it has a skull on the front. But there is a reason the book is called Inkdeath (and it doesn’t have to do with skeletons or anything gruesome of that kind). What happens when one gets read into a book. And when the author has based a heroic rebel off of you (or your father, as the case may be).

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

My thoughts: Inkdeath is the last book in the Inkheart trilogy and it is also my favorite. These books are charming and well written with great characters. Mo/the Bluejay is so cool, and I absolutely love Dustfinger. And the writing humor in here, with the author trapped in his own book…so good.

Recommendation:  5 of 5. I’ve enjoyed these books very much. I love writers meeting characters and writing humor. Besides, I just loved the book.

The Light of Eidon

Overview: All Abramm wanted was peace. But when he is caught up in political schemes and betrayed to be sold as a slave, fighting is the only way to survive.

Technical aspects: Writing: 3.5 of 5 – Characters: 4 of 5 – Dialogue: 4 of 5 – Theme 4.5 of 5

My thoughts: I really liked the story itself. The characters, for the most part, I enjoyed. The theme was well done and the pacing was pretty good. The writing itself was not especially impressive. It wasn’t awful, just lots of telling instead of showing or mingling descriptions with the scenery. This is the first book in a four book series and I like it enough that I might get the next book sometime.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. If you like allegorical fantasy, you will probably like this story. It is exciting. I mean, how can you go wrong with gladiators and rebellion? If the writing style doesn’t bother you, then I would definitely recommend it.

Space Drifters: The Iron Gauntlet

Overview: Captain Glint Starcrost is one of the few humans chosen to  compete in the Iron Gauntlet, pitted against four of the most fearsome, fang-filled, alien fighters in the universe. With the help of his crew, he must survive. But he’ll never be the same.

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

My thoughts: The second Space Drifter book doesn’t disappoint. Hilarious, exciting, dangerous, with fresh new characters and unexpected twists, it builds up for the next book while telling a complete story. I can hardly wait for the next book.

Recommendation:  5 of 5. This is my favorite Christian sci-fi series and, really, my favorite sci-fi series anywhere. Not that I read much sci-fi, but I love this series. And the characters. As one person put it, it reminds me of a clean Christian Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder and Scarlet

Overview: A retelling of Cinderella where Cinder is a cyborg. Little Red Riding Hood with Lunar enemies. Each book in the Lunar Chronicles has a new main character, but they build on each other, containing past characters and running in a progressive storyline.

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

My thoughts: I loved Cinder. All the nods to the original fairytale, and yet there were a number of new twists as well. Scarlet I enjoyed, though I liked Cinder’s character better. (Plus, Cinder was as passionately romantic). Still, I’m looking forward to reading Cress, the third book.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. This isn’t a Christian series, but it is pretty clean. No swearing. Not too much romance. Well, there is more in Scarlet than in Cinder, which I could have done without, but it wasn’t too bad.

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What your favorite book which you’ve read this autumn?

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.

summer-2016-books1

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.

elantris

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.

 

Books Worth Reading – June 2016

This month has been busy, but I’ve still got some reading done. Of course. Even if it was just during the evenings some days.

Three of these books are parts of series that I finally got around to reading. And only one of them is a library book. Hurray! I’m finally starting to read some of the books on my shelf. Or am adding more books to my shelf. But who really cares? And if you do, what does it matter? They’re books!

Futuristic Fiction

Last month I told you about, A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes. And, this month, I read the second book in the Out of Time Series, A Time to Speak. What happens when one expected to die and finds themselves alive? With a mission to help and lead people who hate them?

Writing: 5 out of 5; well written and engaging. Like the first book, the style reminds me of how a biography would follow a person’s life more than the normal novel story arc, though there is an arc too . At the same time, it was a bit quicker with more action than the first book.

Characters: 5 out of 5; the poor characters. Nadine hasn’t grown any more merciful in the second book. But I love them. They are distinct and very human. And Parvin’s struggles connect me to her so closely even though we aren’t very much alike.

Dialogue: 5 out of 5; Fresh, strong.

Theme: 5 out of 5; Very clear and foundational to the story, but at no time does Parvin’s struggles seemed forced or sections turn preachy.

Recommendation: 5 out of 5; I highly recommend this book. Though be warned, the end will leave you in anguished expectation for A Time To Rise which comes out this fall.

Fantasy Books:

I wrote about the first two books in The Blades of Acktar last month. In a fantasy land, set in some obscure corner of our world, Christians must worship in secret to escape the wrath of an evil king and his handpicked blades: assassins proficient at spying and fighting with knives. But now in Defy, war covers the land, Renna is a captive with a horrible choice before her, and the price Leith must pay to rescue her is indescribably high…assuming the rebels will even trust him enough to let him help.

Writing: 4 out of 5

Characters: 4.5 out of 5; there was so much character development in so many characters in this book. Especially Renna. And the things things Tricia makes her characters suffer…I’m so glad I’m not one of them.

Dialogue: 4.5 out of 5

Theme: 4.5 out of 5; Very clear and very up front, but it didn’t proceed to the point where it was annoying and preachy.

Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5; This is my favorite of the three books, and there’s a fourth book coming! I loved Renna in this book, and Leith, and basically everyone. Defy is a fitting climax to the last two books and is a exciting read filled with danger, turmoil, and treachery.

And here’s another third book in a trilogy, Arrow by R. J. Anderson. This was also a fitting climax to the No Ordinary Fairy Tale trilogy. In a world where fairies are real, they’re far from innocent glittering pixies. With an evil empress, rebels determined to fight for their freedom, and a fairy determined to stop bloodshed before it’s too late, this is a fascinating story.  If you like reading about fairies, then this is a version of their life you will very much enjoy.

Writing: 4.5 out of 5; good pace; very interesting.

Characters: 4.5 out of 5; fairy and human are both excellently done, though compared to some of the other books I’ve read this month, they don’t have as many distinct quirks as they could. But still, well done.

Dialogue: 4.5 out of 5; sound, solid.

Theme: 5 out of 5; Subtly woven into the story.

Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5; I loved all three books in this trilogy. The climax didn’t disappoint and is probably my favorite of all three. I love the main character, the settings, the other characters…an exciting read.

And finally there’s this book. A single book, not part of a series, just one beautiful, delicious, single book…Waking Beauty by Sarah E Morin! I heard about this book during The Very Serious Writing show podcast and, when I saw it at the library, I couldn’t resist. What happens when a prince wakes up the Sleeping Beauty, but she refuses to believe she’s awake? What happens when a princess has been tormented by dreams for so long, she won’t let anything close to her heart for fear it will be torn away again?

Writing: 4.6 out of 5; a little slow at the beginning but very interesting.

Characters: 5 out of 5; fresh, fun, distinct.

Dialogue: 5 out of 5; sound, solid.

Theme: 5 out of 5; subtle at the beginning, but the depth of allegory by the end stunned me.

Recommendation: 5 out of 5; I loved this retelling of Sleeping Beauty! I enjoyed reading about the ‘after it all happened’ story and the allegory was wonderful. If you like fantasy and fairy tales, I highly recommend this book.

How about you? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned and what did you think? What other Christian fantasy books do you love?

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.