Tag Archives: c.s. lewis

Book Reviews – August 2020

26 Aug

First off, since I haven’t done a book review since May, I am going to add a few more books that I really have been wanting to share with you on SGL. Because of that, this will be quite the mix of classics and modern books, so get out your TBR list because I’m sure you’ll find a couple at least, to add to it!

A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich – A story about a young girl that dreamed of doing something big with her life. When she became a young bride, she followed her husband West and became one of the pioneers that helped build a nation- in so doing, becoming part of something great! ~This story was heart-touching and with little life lessons all throughout. I can’t believe I’ve owned this book for years and haven’t read it before this! Following Abbie from childhood to the end of her days, you meet all the people she comes in contact with and see all the joys and trials she goes through. Living with her through the difficult pioneer years and raising children and watching them grow makes you appreciate all that our ancestors did.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo – When the poor hunchback, Quasimodo, is tortured during the Feast of Fools, the only one who steps forward and helps him is a young gypsy named Esmerelda. That one act of kindness fills Quasimodo with love. But his caretaker, a cold, stern priest – Dom Claude Frollo, has plans of his own for Esmerelda, and Quasimodo. What will happen to each of these people under the shadow of Notre Dame?

~Now, I’d tried reading this back about 12 years ago and didn’t get too far. I’d been wanting to give it another shot (as I’d been carting the same copy around all this time for just that reason), when I spotted a read-along on Instagram for it! The group helped me in finishing it as I likely would have given up again. Don’t get me wrong, the story is quite good and heartbreaking and the twists of the plot keep you turning the pages. It was just all the other aspects of the whole unabridged version that I tended to struggle through. In the future, I plan on reading the abridged version. But, I do recommend you read the full book for yourself, at least once. The end was GOOD and I can’t give spoilers away here but I didn’t see all of how Hugo was going to tie it all off. True, some of it was a little dissatisfying to me but, shrug. It didn’t end up ruining it for me. The other characters that Hugo weaves into the story were very interesting – the crazed woman, the beggars, the gypsys, etc. One last thing, this is quite different from the Disney version! Much darker and if you think Frollo is bad in that movie… Just give it a read yourself before giving it to a young teen to read, is my suggestion. (book pictured is my abridged version, 1956)

A Table By The Window by Lawana Blackwell – Carley has finally created a calm, orderly life for herself in San Fransisco. Her childhood was neither of those things, leaving her scarred. But, then she receives word that a grandmother that she barely remembers, left her an inheritance in Talullah, Mississippi. She travels to the small town and is instantly charmed by it as well as the friendliness of its residents. She decides to move there and open up a bistro. She loves her new life, and getting to know her family there. But she gets more than she expected when suddenly, she’s involved in a murder mystery.

~I’m not sure how I’ve never reviewed this book! I read it at least once a year, and that’s saying something since my favorites tend not to be set in modern times (unless of course, we are talking about Dee Henderson books…) I really enjoy how Carley learns and grows through the story. How she learns what it means to be part of a family and to let go of the past. The romance is good and sweet and unexpected. Plus, she opens a Bistro and there’s a murder mystery – as well as she gets migraines occasionally. Need I say more? Give this one a try!

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis – This is a partial biography by Lewis – his main goal of this book wasn’t to give a full description of his life. Rather, it was to share what he viewed as the main points in his life that drew him ever closer to what he’d been searching for all his life, that which he called – Joy. The longing for something so good and intense that it couldn’t be explained with words. However, he does cover quite a bit of his life, sharing stories with a mix of humor and sadness.

~My brother and I had been talking about Lewis and when he heard that I hadn’t read this- he loaned it to me! I’m glad he did as it was an interesting read. His younger years were entertaining to read about and yet sad. If you’re a fan of C.S. Lewis, I recommend reading this as well.

She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard – When Cambridge professor, Horace Holly, and his ward, Leo Vincey, open the package left by Leo’s late father. It contains artifacts suggesting an ancient mystery about the Vincey family. They quickly set off on an adventure to the interior of Africa, but they’ve no idea what is in store. Eventually they meet Ayesha and a primitive race of natives. Ayesha reigns as ‘She’ or ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed’ – and who does have an inexplicable connection to Leo.

~Now this is an interesting story – and quite different from probably any that I’ve read before.I first read this well over 10 years ago, but my copy from at the latest 1905 (thanks to the inscription), didn’t have the last of the story printed in it… And i never found another copy (or didn’t really look) until last year when I did find one! It was much more satisfying, with the ending, even though it is still a fantastical story. It can be pretty open/violent/descriptive in places, I found, so I wouldn’t recommend it for a younger reader. I’m really not sure that I’ll read it again anytime soon, but there’s something special about it to me, plus, just look at the book itself!

The Pillar of Fire by J.H. Ingraham – The Prince of Tyre, Sesostris, goes to Egypt as a state guest of Pharoah. His letters to his beloved mother describe Egypt and the plight of the Hebrews that are enslaved there; all the way to their subsequent release from their labors and set free.

~This was a book that I found at Powell’s – and then it sat on my shelf for probably almost two years, waiting for me to read it! It did take me about four months to finish, a large part of that because I got on a Brandon Sanderson kick. It started out rather slow for me, as I expected the part about the plagues to start quite early in the story. But the descriptions of how the author envisions how Egypt was, were incredible. I did get bogged down by them at times, to be perfectly honest! I’m so glad I didn’t give up on the story though as it was well wort the full read. How they took the Biblical account and gave it such life was very interesting – and I didn’t spot any glaring discrepancies. I highly recommend this book as a way to bring that story to life. My copy is from 1859 but you can buy newer copies on Amazon.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (book 1) – Elantris was once a golden city in Arelon – literally glowing from the magic of the Shaod. It was the epicenter of trade and the demigods used their power to help others. Ten years ago, all that changed – the Elantirans became like lepers, and the city became their prison. In the devastation, a new capital has risen, Kae -in the shadow of the walls of Elantris. From across the waters, Princess Sarene of Teod comes to wed Prince Raoden – eager at last to meet and fall in love with this enigmatic man, but instead finds out that he has died and according to the laws of Kae, their engagement vows are as binding as marriage vows. Hrathen is a high priest of the Fjordell empire, and stepping into Kae hours after Princess Sarene has only one goal – convert the people of Kae in a few months’ time or they will all be killed. As Sarene battles politics in order to save both Teod and Kae from Fjordell control, she finds out the truth of Prince Raoden. He had become an Elantrian – outcast in the decaying city, and while trying to help the wretches there, he just might find the answer to the secret of Elantris.

~ Yes, this book deserves a long review. I LOVED this book. I never would have chosen it myself, but thank goodness for friends that send you books out of your ordinary! This quickly became a favorite of mine. The story line twists and turns so that I never knew how it was going to end and the characters were very well written. Neither Sarene nor Raoden are your typical royalty, and even the villian, Hrathen, has depths that intrigued and kept him from being someone you grew bored of. All in all, an excellent book full of suspense and lacking in anything sensual or ‘sketchy’. Highly recommend.

I did finish the Chronicles of Narnia series, click here for a review I wrote in 2018

Mistborn Era series by Brandon Sanderson

Currently Reading:

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

~Laura

What have you been reading this month?

Book Reviews May 2020

28 May

Sadly, my quest to find a book that just sucks me into its world is still continuing. Well, let me clarify, The Horse and His Boy, Virginia and House at the End of the Moor did the job admirably well, it’s been ever since then that I’m still struggling. (and, transparency here, I adored the book by Griep and had intended to do a separate post but as I loaned the book to my mom before I took pics, I decided to just add it here). I’m enjoying the two classics that I’m reading right now but both are better at little spurts of reading, and I’m really only slogging through one because I REALLY want to have read all of it at least once. Which, this isn’t something I do, normally… Anyhow, that’s a very long and probably confusing introduction!

Virginia: Four Inspiring Stories of Valor, Virtue and Victory by Cathy Marie Hake – In these four short stories, follow a family from the turn of the century to the end of World War I as they battle loss and love, faith and prejudice.

~Now, if you’ve been around SGL for a while, you know that I’m not a big fan of short stories, but as these were all written by Hake, they ended up feeling kind of like a whole novel. (not really b/c they ARE about different people). But I couldn’t even really peg which one was my favorite, each was unique and pull-you-in. Definitely recommend this!

The Prarie Legacy Series by Janette Oke – Follow Clark and Marty’s granddaughter, Virginia, through her teens on up through her adult years. As she struggles to fit in with her friends in school, falling in love, learning sacrifice and faith and then onto marriage, children and the inevitable heartache that accompanies life. Her faith and family bolster her through them, growing her into a woman of strength and godliness.

– I don’t think I’d ever read this series before! I fully expected to recognize it, once I got into it but that never happened! (I’m such a fan of Oke’s that I’m surprised when I run across a book I’ve not read of hers). This series was similar to her Love Comes Softly series but as it is based on their granddaughter, it helps it feel like a continuation. There were aspects of the book that hit so close to home that I had a hard time reading, but that’s what I appreciate about Oke’s books is that she writes what real life looks like – to a point anyway. If you’re looking for a sweet series that teaches life and faith lessons throughout, this is the one to reach for.

Tis Herself by Maureen O’Hara – In a straight-forward tone, the famed beauty and actress talks about her life from girlhood in Ireland to becoming a star in Hollywood. The men that formed her career and tried to destroy it; a disastrous marriage; birth of her daughter; lifelong friendship with ‘Duke’ and so much more. She doesn’t simper away from her mistakes, rather owns up to them and moves on. As so many of her roles in movies, she was a fiesty, strong red-head who fought for what she wanted.

It’s always a little scary starting a book about a favorite actress, so this book sat on my shelf for about a year until I picked it up. I’m glad I read it even though it was a sad story, if you know anything about O’Hara’s life, you know that she had Trials. But the way she writes (this is an autobiography after all) and the things she shares – like her long friendship with John Wayne – keeps you engaged and interested. It was fun getting to read about how Hollywood used to be, and the making of some of her movies that I enjoy. If you’re a fan of her movies and don’t mind reading about heartaches and laughter, give this a try.

The Horse and His Boy (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis – When young Shasta talks about running away, he’s startled to realize the horse that he’s confided in can Talk. And not only talk, but wants to run away as well! With warhorse Bree helping him, Shasta sets off toward Narnia. Their travels include great adventures and require both of them to move past fear and prejudice.

~In reading other reviews of this book, a big theme of them was ‘racist’ and ‘prejudice’ but I never thought that the whole time I read it. Yes, the Calormen are the slave-owners and terrible people but, I never associated that with Lewis saying all dark-skinned people are such. That aside, this is one of my absolute favorites of the Narnia books. Perhaps it’s because a horse is one of the main characters? For whatever reason, I really truly love reading this. The lessons on Not judging people by what they look like are true for every generation (which is why I probably never have thought of it as racist…) and the truths that Aslan imparts are so so good.

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep – When a powerful politician threatens to ruin opera singer Maggie Lee’s life, she runs away and lives in anonymity on the edges of the moor. While life is lonely, she knows she’s safe. Until one day, she finds a wounded man and takes him in to care for him. But this man isn’t who he seems to be either. Escaped convict, Oliver Ward, is out to set the wrongs in his past right – little does he expect to find the same jewels that got him convicted in the very house that he’s now staying in. Both Oliver and Maggie decide to try and set things right by returning the jewels, clearing his name and, in the midst of all that, keeping Maggie’s identity a secret.

– I got this as a birthday present and LOVED it. I’d never read anything by Griep before but I do want to give some of her other books a try now! The twists and turns in this mystery were good- so much so that I had a hard time putting it down once I’d picked it up! As well as one time that I got so worried about what was going to happen to Maggie that I Couldn’t pick it up for a day or so – ha! I just loved Oliver as he tries to get his life back and yet is eaten up so with hatred and revenge. So superficial but you’ve got to check out the Cover! It’s simply lovely. But really, just get this book, you won’t regret it! This became a Top Favorite for 2020

Montana Marshalls series by Susan May Warren – Follow the Marshall siblings as each have to face their fears and doubts along the way as they have to choose between who they think they are and who they want to be. Love comes calling for each of them- Knox, Tate, Wyatt, Ford and Ruby Jane- but will they be able to survive long enough to reach for it?

I won this series as ebooks as a giveaway and was quite excited as I’ve enjoyed most of Warren’s novels. I enjoy series that focuses on siblings (looking at you, The O’Malley Series), so eagerly started Knox (book 1). I’ve made it through most of the books but am really struggling to finish this series. Which makes me sad. I’ve enjoyed the adventure aspect of each one, and have found some favorites among the main and side characters. I’ll try to be brief on why this series hasn’t hit it off with me: Warren’s style seems to have changed and it’s a little too… millenial (?) for me; there’s more intense kissing than I think is necessary – especially when the people barely know each other/aren’t married; lack of remorse for intimacy out of wedlock for one couple. Now, that last one might change as I’ve not finished the book. All in all, I’m not sure I’ll finish the series, if I do, I might skip forward (something else completely unheard of for me).

Currently Reading:

Pillar of Fire by J.H. Ingraham

She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard

To-Read:

Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

the next Narnia book

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

the next Wheel of Time book (I have to figure out which one I’m on!)

Did you find any books to add to your To-Read pile? I’d love to know which ones! And if you have read any of the ones that I wasn’t that crazy about, did you love them? Share that too!!

~Laura

Book Reviews April 2020

2 May

It’s been a while since I did a monthly book review, so get ready to add some books to your To-Read pile! I’ve honestly been having a hard time finding a book that really grabs  me and pulls me into its world that I don’t finish in just a couple of days! I’m thinking it just might be time to get back into the Wheel Of Time series (I’m only on book 7..or 8..or 9…).  

One last thing, these aren’t all from this past month- I’ve not read quite that much in four weeks!

bkrvwapr2020

 

Little Princes by Conor Grennan – I shared a full review here if you’d like to go check it out. This was such a great read that it made it to my 2020 Favorites List.

Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson –    …. I also have a full review here if you’d like to read it. And I have since bought all three books so that I CAN read them yearly, or bi-yearly, whenever the mood strikes.

None Like Him : 10 Ways God is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin – While humans were created to reflect God’s image, there are several ways that we do not – unlimited power, knowledge and authority. This book delves into those attributes, shining a light on how realizing these limitations of ours compared to a limitless God can help us in our daily lives.

~This is the second study book that I’ve read by Wilkin. (In His Image being the other one.)This was insightful in highlighting the incredible attributes of God. As with the other of hers, I was a little disappointed how she stayed, what I felt, was surface level, with the topics and chapter questions. So while it was good and well worth the time, I would have appreciated a deeper delve into the topic. 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia #4 -chronological order) by C.S. Lewis – King Caspian has built the first ship that Narnia has seen in centuries. He sails to find the lost Lords of Narnia – and Lucy, Edmund and cousin Eustace travel with him.

The Silver Chair  (The Chronicles of Narnia #5- chronological order)  by C.S. Lewis -Narnia is in need again, and this time Eustace and Jill are the ones brought to help. They must help find (and then rescue) the lost Prince of Narnia, who has been put under an evil spell. 

~Forgive me for combining my thoughts for both these books into one section. But – IT’S Narnia. And that means adventures; Aslan; Magic; Lessons; and just a wonderful world to escape to. I fell in love all over again with Puddleglum (from the Silver Chair) and enjoyed all the different adventures on the islands in the Dawn Treader. Delightful reads all around.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo – Despereaux is not like the other mice, he loves stories and music and the gentle Princess Pea. Roscuro is a rat who isn’t like other rats because he likes light and soup. Miggery Sow is a serving girl who dreams of being a princess. These four – a mouse, princess, rat and serving girl- are about to enter each other’s lives in ways they never dreamed. And when that happens, the choices they make will lead them in dark twisty tunnels of a dungeon, in the glittering light of the castle and through Cook’s kitchen. 

~I’d been curious about reading this story after having seen the movie a few times (although it has been several years since I saw it last). When I saw this at Goodwill (quite a few months ago now), I snagged it right quick! It ended up being quite fun and Camillo’s way of writing TO the reader just added that extra little bit of uniqueness to the story. I can see this being a great read-aloud book with your kids. 

The Candymakers (The Candymakers #1) by Wendy Mass- When the yearly national candy competition nears, Logan Sweet is excited. He’s finally old enough – 12 – to enter and make his candy-making father proud. His family owns Life is Sweet candy factory. But he’s not the only contestant that will be making their entries at the factory – three other kids from his town will also be there. Daisy, Miles and Logan show up on the first day – she with a bounce to her step and encouraging. Miles with a backpack and nervousness. Phillip with a briefcase and attitude. Which one will create the most innovative new candy this year? 

~I had no idea this was a series! I also didn’t know what to expect when I picked it up, at first I felt that it was pretty formulaic but I quickly revised that opinion. I got sucked into the story so much I felt kind of silly since it IS a children’s book! Mass shares each child’s perspective of what’s going on in the competition and their own personal world and that just made it so cool to see each motivation and viewpoint. A very fun story.

I also read/started these two books but for various reasons didn’t like them/finish them. So they are both leaving my bookshelf to open up space for more books! 

Zorro by Isabel Allende

The Measure of a Lady by Deanne Gist

20200501_114928

Currently Reading: 

‘Tis Herself by Maureen O’Hara

Pillar of Fire by J.H. Ingraham

Virginia by Cathy Marie Hake

 

To Read: 

the next Narnia book

The Prairie Legacy Series by Janette Oke

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

the next Wheel of Time book (I just have to figure out which one I’m on!)

February 2020 Book Reviews

11 Mar

It’s a bit late for a Monthly Book Review but I’m going to give you guys a quick one! I’m going to be talking about the books that I shared in My Library Book Haul.

I’ve already shared my thoughts about The Bridge to Belle Island. Trust me, you want to click over and have a read.

The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill – When Piper Sail’s best friend, Lydia, goes missing, the only thing she knows is that she can’t just sit around waiting for the police to find her. Especially when it seems that they are looking in all the wrong places. She sets out on her own investigation, with the aid of a young detective, into the underbelly of Chicago in 1924. She’s determined to find Lydia, no matter what. But she soon has to decide exactly what that means as the truth just might upset her privileged life. ~This book immediately made it to my Favorite Reads of the year list. I’ve not read anything else by Morrill but she wove an incredible story of family, intrigue and 1920s Chicago. It was also very clean, with only subtle mentions of women of a certain profession and innocent romances. If you’ve followed SGL for a while, you’ll know that for this to be on my Faves list, it HAS to be clean! I adored Piper’s spirit, her brother (even when he was being a jerk), and of course, the detective who decides to help her.

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #3) by Theodora Goss – When the girls of the Athena Club return home only to find that their friend, Alice has been kidnapped along with Mary’s employer, Sherlock Holmes, they rush to find them. But along the way they realize that the kidnappings are only a small part of a sinister plot that threatens not only the Queen, but all of England. Can Mary, Justine, Diana, Catherine and Beatrice stop the plans already in motion and save, not only their friends, but their country as well? ~As I shared in the Library Haul, I’ve not read book one. These were both on the ‘new arrivals’ shelf of my local library and they intrigued me. This series is very different from what I’m used to – seeing as how each of the girls are victims of an evil scientists’ experiments on them (one’s poisonous, one’s a vampire, one’s part cheetah etc). I’d almost say that I’d enjoy these stories more if those elements were taken away. But, I’m certain that those very parts are what makes this series stand out. I did end up enjoying this one- to a degree. The chase and revealing of the sinister plot were clever and intriguing – and were what kept me reading. The other stuff relating to the… vampire and such, were a bit much for me. Just like in the first book, honestly. But it seemed to be more present in this one. I don’t think I’ll read either of these again but they were well written with a fun, unique plot. If you want to see my review for the first book, click here.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini – I want to do a review of the full series, so for now – know that I enjoyed this conclusion to The Inheritance Cycle

Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams – The Early Years 1903-1940 by Gary Giddins – This covered Bing’s childhood and on up to his rise in fame til the 1940s. I did enjoy what I got read of it. But, well… it took me several weeks to get a quarter of the way through it. And that was with skipping ahead to a section that was of more interest to me. Giddins wrote it well, and he did extensive research on Bing’s ancestors and life. While I fully appreciate that, it was a bit more than I was wanting. I finally just wanted my (huge) stack of library books gone, so I returned it without finishing it. Perhaps one day I’ll get back to it. But, even if I don’t, I still learned some cool (and sad) information on Bing. And found some songs of his that I’d never heard before!

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S. Lewis – When Susan’s horn is blown, the Pevensie children are called back to Narnia to help Prince Caspain reclaim his rightful throne. The false king is ruthless and will stop at nothing to kill the old Narnians and maintain his rule. ~I’m reading this series as part of a reading group on Instagram. It’s been fun to re-read these again as I feel it’s been a while! Prince Caspian is, I think, one of my favorites of the series as we see some of the growing up the Pevensie’s have to go through and of course, we meet Caspian and see Aslan again.

Jennifer: an O’Malley Love Story by Dee Henderson- I have read the O’Malley Series, for years and I still enjoy them immensely. This is a short story with one of the siblings as the main character. It was so nice to get to read more about Jennifer as a doctor and see as she falls in love. The heartache though! Agh. Even knowing what is coming (thanks to reading the O’Malley series beforehand), it was still a good, quick read. If you love the O’Malley’s, check this one out.

Thrive by J.J. Eden – A small book of poetry and micro-fiction that focus on the highs and lows of life. On keeping the will to thrive strong in our hearts. ~I got this book free for my honest review. And while I haven’t read any poetry in several years, I enjoyed this a lot. So many of her words resonated with me and some of the micro-fiction I was wishing was a full length story!

Currently Reading:

Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

Tate (Montana Marshalls #2) by Susan May Warren (ebook) – this one is so good but with it being an ebook, I’m just not reading it much.

Zorro by Isabel Allende

To Read:

Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis

Series Review – Chronicles of Narnia

9 Feb

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Originally published between 1950 and 1956, this children’s classic series has become the author’s best-known work. It has sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages (thanks wikipedia for these fun facts). This was only my second time reading them – although as a home-schooler, I feel like I should have grown up reading them. Ha. But! I’m so glad I’ve been introduced to them now as an adult.

srsrvwchrnlcsnrna

There are seven in all, and while there is some disagreement on how they should be read – chronologically or the order in which Lewis wrote them, I’m not sure it matters too much. I think it comes down to personal preference. But, let me give you an overview of this series.

Each book chronicles adventures in the land of Narnia. Aslan’s country. Each time that the country faces real threat, children from our world are called to help. It takes courage and faith for these children to succeed at their tasks. They meet many friends, and many foes, along their journeys. From The Magician’s Nephew, we see the creation of Narnia and follow its entire history until it’s destruction in The Last Battle.

I love the little lessons that are learned along the way in each adventure – and the worlds they come upon. In reading reviews, a common feeling is that The Last Battle (#7) is the strangest of them all and in some ways I have to agree but I did still enjoy it. They all are a few hundred pages each so they are pretty quick reads. (I mainly read them while taking detox baths!)

I highly recommend these books, for any age. The lessons within are great for when reading aloud to kids, or even as reminders for adults.  If you haven’t read this series, I suggest you give it a try.

~Laura

*fun fact, the series we have is the set that my hubby grew up reading.*

Dec 2017 Book Reviews

5 Jan

It’s a blustery day here in Oregon, leaving the landscape looking slightly barren and depressing. There’s no snow, no sign of a cold, beautiful winter. Just windy, cloudy and rainy. But, that’s why there are such wonderful things as books to get lost in. I cannot believe I read 70 books in 2017 . I’ve decided to set this year’s reading goal to 60 books. I have always been an avid reader but I’m hoping to tone down my amount of reading just a smidgen and increase my amount of writing a lot! I enjoy keeping track of what I’ve read on Goodreads, it’s so much easier than writing them all down like I used to do.  (please tell me I’m not the only one who did that).

If you  missed it, I shared a post of my Top Reads of 2017 just last week, check it out!

bkrvdec2017

Photo by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson – Two princesses’ lives are thrown into turmoil. While both scramble to learn the ways of their new environments, political upheaval is on the horizon.

~As good as this story was, I admit to being a little disappointed with how much sexual content there was. While I realize that it was mild, it was still more than I like. Because of that, I don’t think I’ll read this book again – which makes me sad because I really liked Siri and Lightsong, and the different twists and turns and character development that happened throughout.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis – Shasta and Bree – a young slave and a talking horse – are running away from cruel masters. Their destination is Narnia.  But when they discover a plot to overthrow Narnia, their journey becomes a race to warn the people of the impending attack.

~Series review coming next month!

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman – A compelling love story between a young Irish girl, Katherine Mary O’Fallon, new to the Canadian wild, and Sergeant Mike Flannigan of the Canadian Mounted police.

~This is a yearly – winter read for me. The wilderness and those occupying it – the animals, peoples and nature itself – are described so vividly, it’s a delight. The heartbreak that occurs will tear your heart out just as surely as you’ll rejoice when good things happen. If this book isn’t considered a classic, I’m not sure why. Read it, you’ll be glad you did. 

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy – When singer Annette Talbot shows up, with trouble following close on her heels, Elijah Walker has to decide if she’s telling the truth or lying. Like his ex- fiancee. Despite himself, he’s drawn to her – and just when he decides to trust her, he finds out she’s a wanted woman. Will he find out the truth before he loses Annie forever?

~ This was my second time reading this sweet romantic mystery. I liked how Connealy dealt with Elijah’s struggle to forgive himself and Annette’s mis-guided belief in ‘bearing her cross’. Faith is central to this novel, and it’s done very well. It’s a great Christmas-time western read.

For Men Only by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn

~A full review along with its companion book, For Women Only, will be up this month!

An Amish Christmas : December in Lancaster County by Beth Wiseman – Forgiveness is on the horizon – or is it? – for several people in Lancaster County. Facing some of their deepest fears at Christmastime has the potential to change their lives.

~I forgot how sweet these stories were. I enjoyed all 3 of them – I am seeing on Goodreads that it says there’s four novellas, my copy doesn’t have “Christmas Cradles”. A good way to describe these are Hallmark movies set in an Amish community – and that’s not a bad thing. They deal with different struggles, but all 3 stories tie in with each other. They may be a bit cliched but sometimes that’s what you want. It only took me a few days to read all of them, they are quick, fun reads for anyone. 

 

Currently Reading: 

Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson

Samantha Among the Brethren by Marietta Holley

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallotton

 

 

To Read:

A Yellow Journalist by Miriam Michelson

The Writer’s Journey by Vogler (finish!)

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

 

What are you reading?

 

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

~Laura

Nov 2017 Book Reviews

8 Dec

Hello again! I read varying types of books this month – and am sad to say there are a few that I didn’t care much for. I do love how much I was able to read this past month though! I have already more than met my Goodreads goal of reading 52 books this year.

bookreviewnov2017

Just the Essentials by Adina Grigore 

~This was a fun book that tells about the history, composition and encouragement to enter the world of essential oils. To make it even better, there were several do it yourself recipes for the home, personal care and cooking.

Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

~ As an introductory book about Messianic Judaism, this book (originally printed in 1995 I believe) did a nice job of answering a lot of questions. It was easy to read. I recommend this as a good starting place if you’re curious about how it got started, where it was at at the point of printing and the basic beliefs and traditions. It would go well with God-Fearers as well.

Beside Still Waters by Annalee Conti  When Violet Channing’s aunt, her sole relative, dies, she isn’t sure what she’ll do. She certainly doesn’t want to continue working in the Boston garment factory, so she takes a job in the Yukon Territory as a live-in teacher for a sick child. As she’s traveling, she falls in love with a Yukon riverboat captain. But, tragedy strikes again and Violet has to decide if she’ll become bitter or learn to love again.

~I received this book free from Ambassador International for my personal review. I was excited for this book as it’s set in the early 1900s and in Alaska, no less! After receiving it, I realized that it’s the third book in the Alaskan Waters Series. Perhaps this is why I didn’t get into the book until I was three-quarters of the way into it. I couldn’t connect with Violet well. It was interesting and fun to find out the history of Alaska that is sprinkled throughout the book. Some of the side characters I really liked and would have liked them to have an even bigger part! (like Cally).

Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann – When Trevor MacDaniel rescues a toddler from a cougar, he inevitably meets sculpter Natalie Reeve.  But trouble comes at them from all sides, including a twisted mind seeing him as an adversary. Can the hero save himself?

~I tried to like this one so much! My mom recommended it and let me borrow it but… I got a quarter of the way through (barely) and haven’t picked it up in weeks. I normally like Heitzmann’s books so I really want(ed) to like it but it just hasn’t hit the right note for me I guess.  I felt like I couldn’t get connected to one character before being introduced to another one; it almost felt like I was expected to already know a few of the characters; the main character felt like they should be more of a minor character (and then with talking to mom, apparently someone else is the main character so now I’m really confused). Anyway, since I have it for a few more months I’ll keep trying it but it might be a lost cause. Which makes me sad.

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia #2) and Voyage of the Dawn Treader (#3) by C.S. Lewis

~I will be doing a separate post on the Chronicle series (how have I not done it yet?!) but for now –  I love the completely different people they meet and  ‘worlds’ and they enter as they travel! And Reepicheep. Always Reepicheep.

IMG_20171113_202835_884

The Mermaid in the Basement (Lady Trent Mystery #1) by Gilbert Morris – In London, 1857, Lady Serafina Trent has one goal – prove that her brother is not a murderer. In order to do this, she must ally herself with people outside of her social class. But nothing will stand in her way.

~This book is probably in my top ten historical fiction list now. It’s also a mystery which, let’s be honest, makes it even better. I haven’t read much of Morris’ novels ( mostly just The Price of Liberty series, which I reviewed a little of here and here) so I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I quickly got pulled in and found it hard to put down! I highly recommend this novel. (fun fact: this is one of almost a dozen books my mom and I got for $1!!)

IMG_20171118_075837_949

For Women Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

~I read this right after we got married and did a short review on it . I’m planning on reading the accompanying book For Men Only next and want to do a separate review for both – so here’s hoping! Suffice it to say that this book is well worth the read!

 

Currently Reading:

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

The Horse and His Boy  by C.S. Lewis

For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

 

To Read:

Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson

Samantha Among the Brethren by Josiah Allen’s Wife (printed 1892)

Next Narnia book

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

 

I hope you found something to add to your to-read list! Happy December!

~Laura

 

Oct. 2017 Book Review

1 Nov

I jumped around from book to book so much the past month – and then I started some more Brandon Sanderson books and I have a hard time putting them down…So every other book slooowed way down.

oct2017bkrvw

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – After a tragic childhood, orphan Jane Eyre emerges with her spirit intact. She takes a governess job at Thornfield, where she meets the enigmatic Mr. Rochester. They fall in love and plan to marry – but then she learns of an obstacle to her happiness. Heartbroken, Jane stays true to herself and seeks a life that offers peace and self-respect, if not love.

~It took me so long to get through this! I had only read this once before and I ended up enjoying it just as much the second time as the first. Her tenacity in staying true to what she knows is right is inspiring.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis – When Lucy Pevensie stumbles into the magical land of Narnia, she meets Mr. Tumnus, who ignores the command of the White Witch and leads her back home again. When she tells her siblings, Peter, Susan and Edmund, they don’t believe her but as luck would have it, they all discover Narnia and meet Aslan, the Great Lion. And that begins an adventure that Lucy and her siblings will never forget.

~I will do a full review of this series once I’ve finished it, but for now, know that I’m thoroughly enjoying this series again – it’s only my second time reading it. I love how Lewis talks to the reader in places. Not every author can pull this off but he does. 

Collected Poems of Henry David Thoreau –  I read a few throughout the book but with all the books I’m currently reading, and nanowrimo starting tomorrow (!) I decided to return this one to the library. I do, however, want to get it again and give it a more thorough going-over.

Mistborn series (books 4-6) by Brandon Sanderson – Separate review coming soon!

Series Review – English Garden by Lori Wick

Book Review – Stepping Heavenward

Currently Reading :

Just the Essentials by Adina Grigore

Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

Beside Still Waters by Annalee Conti

Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S. Lewis

 

To-Read List:

More Narnia books

Samantha Among the Brethren by Josiah Allen’s Wife (printed 1892)

 

I’m really not figuring I’ll read much this coming month. I do want to finish everything that I’m in though, so that will be more than enough. I’m hoping to spend a lot of time and focus on editing my novel during nanowrimo! Because of that – and Thanksgiving in three weeks! –  posting might be a bit spotty. Happy November!

~Laura

What are your currently reading? 

 

Book Review – August 2015

28 Aug

Happy end of August! Not that it’s really sunk in yet that summer is pretty much over – we are looking forward to vacation next week (finally one we are going on together!!!) which includes a wedding, lots of time with friends and family and possibly buying a car! EEK!

This month has been one full of reading a rather random assortment of books. But, really, it would be boring to read all one genre in a month wouldn’t it? Aug2015bkrvw

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas On the brink of the happiest day of his life, Edward Dantes is thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Years later, he learns of a treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo. He then focuses on escaping the grim fortress and, after finding the treasure- exacting revenge on the three men who ruined him. — I am reading this on my phone, which means it’s going much slower than if I had a book to pick up! I am loving the complexities of the story, and realizing that, of course, the movie changed some major components of it. I might need to get a copy just so I can actually finish it.

The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis – Man has been plagued by one question for years – ‘if God is good, why does he allow pain?” Lewis, who is known as the ‘greatest Christian thinker of our time’, answers this complicated question and seeks to heal a hurting world.  – I have this next to my bed to read before falling asleep = it’s taking me a very long time to get through….But I am learning from it and figure it will become a yearly read.

The Storekeeper’s Daughter – Wanda E. Brunstetter – Daughters of Lancaster County, book 1 – In Amish country in Pennsylvania, tragedy strikes  – Naomi Fisher’s mother dies in an accident. At the time when she should be going to singings and riding in a courting buggy, she is instead taking care of her seven siblings and helping her father in the family store. Just when she thinks she can’t take one more day in the restrictive world she now finds herself, the unthinkable happens. And any confidence she, or her family, had in her is shattered – will she be able to continue on? – This was a re-read for me but still just as enjoyable. Brunstetter rarely lets you down with her novels. The gospel message is clear throughout, without being overkill. I hope you know what I mean by that….I enjoy the slow-paced nature of books set in the Amish world, and inevitably feel incredibly lazy with having washers for clothes and dishes….and plenty of time to read novels!

The Hero and the Crown – Robin Mckinley – She had always known the story of how her mother, the witchwoman, had used a spell to get the king to marry her. Aerin had heard it from beginning to end many times – how, after giving birth to a daughter instead of the longed-for son, her mother had turned to the wall and died of despair. Being the daughter cast her into a difficult position – one with a destiny she couldn’t see. But through determination and with a willing war-horse, Aerin would learn that her destiny was far greater than anyone believed – she was to be the hero who would wield the Blue Sword, Gonturan.   I picked this book up (along with #2 in the series) at Jupiter’s bookstore in Cannon Beach Or. Seriously, I love going to that bookstore. No matter what else I do while in the cute seaside town, I spend at least an hour in the cram-packed-full-of-used-books bookstore. I have read a few of Mckinley’s books – Beauty being one of my favorites – so I decided it was worth risking it. It is fantastic. A new world and language to get sucked into, plus it’s about a sword-wielding heroine? Yes please. The twists and turns and the growing that the heroine does from beginning to end are engrossing.

The Secret – Charlotte Bronte  – A collection of short stories by Charlotte and her siblings are in this light read. Each are set in the imagined world of Verdopolis and are full of intrigue, lies and love. – These were very fun to read even though due to taking so long to read them I did get a little confused about the repeating characters. The heroines are all gorgeous and brave and true while the heros are handsome and trustworthy and the villians easy to spot by their dark brows and evil intent  – all in all, very charming stories.

The Blue Sword – Robin Mckinley  – Harry Crewe, newly orphaned, has come to the desert land of Damar, a place of secretive, magical Hillfolk and the Outlanders. Her life is a bit dull and ordinary – until she is kidnapped by Corlath, the king of the Hillfolk. She begins training in the arts of war, even though she doesn’t understand it.  –  This is the second book in the series (not sure it’s actually a ‘series’ though) of the world of Damar. Absolutely engrossing so far. Fantastic characters and I do love a bit of magic in my novels. And when a book can make me forget I’m eating lunch, well, you know it’s good.

Hope you find something to fill the coming weekend,

Laura

What are you reading lately?

Book Review – July 2015

3 Aug

Hello again!

I am so very excited about the new look and direction for SGL! As I, even with the best of intentions, rarely posted crafts or recipes, I am going to focus on books, writing (what I’m working on and tips and encouragements), chronic pain management and will be continuing the Virtue Series until the end of the year. So far, these seem to be the topics that you, my lovely readers, are interested in. You will undoubtedly see other changes coming along over the next few months (me being an Amazon associate hopefully will be the first one!). I hope you like this new look and direction – but for today, we have the book review for July.

bkrvw-july2015

I picked up a few books while at an antique store in Cali on vacation, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Mayor of Casterbridge. The former I read way back in high school and enjoyed it so I am interested in reading it again with a different perspective. The latter ,well, you’ll have to keep reading to hear what I think of it!

And yes, I am very excited about Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, but am far too cheap to pay full price for a book. Plus while in Ca, my mom and I got given two bags of novels from my aunt that I have never read any of! Who needs to buy books when you’ve got such family and friends??

The Mayor of Casterbridge – Thomas Hardy – While intoxicated, Michael Henchard sells his wife and young daughter. Upon realizing what he has done, he makes a vow to never drink again. Years pass and he rises up in wealth until he is the Mayor. Unexpectedly reunited with his wife and daughter, the shame that he has always had of his past is now put to right….or is it?

~This was such a great book!  Henchard is a tragic hero,  always seeming to get in his own way.  As I read more of the story, the harder it was to put down! The twists weren’t what I had expected and even the satisfying conclusion followed that pattern.  There is a moral lesson being taught throughout,  but I won’t spoil it for you – go read it for yourself!

Courting Morrow Little – Laura FrantzReturning home to Kentucky,  Morrow Little’s memories of the day Shawnee warriors destroyed her family come back full force. Will dealing with them while taking care of her ailing father, who has befriended two Shawnee, and the chaos of the war between the whites and ‘savages’ , be too much? Will she choose to marry a man she doesn’t love instead of letting go of her bitterness – and betraying the memory of those she loved – and pursue a life with a man of contradictions?

~This Book! Ah, this book. I have never read a book with this setting and story line – the struggle during the war raging in the 1760’s. I got sucked in the first page and was sad when it was over. I will admit to getting upset about 3/4 of the way through that something else had gone wrong. But it was still a great historical-romance-fiction-i’ll-be-reading-it-again-book!

The Secret – Charlotte Bronte –  A collection of short stories by Charlotte and her siblings are in this light read. Each are set in the imagined world of Verdopolis and are full of intrigue, lies and love.

~It has been fun reading through these again – being full of the beautiful maiden, heroic duke and crafty villian. If you are a fan of the Bronte’s, you must read these as they were written when they were young and still learning their own style of writing.

Elantris – Brandon Sanderson – I know, only last month I gave a review on it,  but I really hadn’t read it since March/April and it was the PERFECT book to read while on vacation! I loved it just as much the second time, picking up on different things said and referenced, which made it fun.

The Sherwood Ring – Elizabeth Marie Pope – After her father dies, Peggy Grahame Is sent to his ancestral home,  Rest-and-be-thankful.  She meets Pat Thorne, a British scholar , who is promptly tossed out by her Uncle Enos. As she is left to herself, and wondering when she’ll see Pat again,  Peggy learns the family’s history, and that the mansion really is haunted!

~This was such a fun read, and due to the fact that I read it while traveling, it was also a quick one! The storyline was unique and the characters – in both modern time and historical – were engaging.  I always enjoy a book that can pull off 2 different times. It would be great even for preteens. It is absolutely a book I’m going to be reading again.

The Problem of Pain- C.S. Lewis – ” How human suffering raises almost intolerable intellectual problems”- Lewis addresses one of man’s most frustrating questions, why do we suffer if there is a loving God?

~I haven’t finished this book but it has been very good so far.  His way of wording things is different enough that I’ve had to go back sometimes and read a section again but that’s not a negative for me. It’s been nice to read about a question that I have struggled with off and on, I’m sure most of us have! Very enlightening and I’m only on the fourth chapter.

~If you purchase a book from Amazon by following a link here on SGL, I will get a percentage of the sale =) ~

Little Blossoms for Jesus

Little Things for Christ's Glory

A Musing Maverick

"What good amid these, O me, O life? - Answer: That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." - Walt Whitman

Elaine Howlin

Slow Living & Reading

See Jayne Run

Navigating with Chronic Illness in a Self Absorbed World