Tag Archives: elantris

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?

Series Review: Mistborn Trilogy

17 Aug

 

It’s FINALLY here you guys! I’m finally reviewing this trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. He is the author of one of my favorite novels – Elantris. So I was interested to read some of his other work. This series really had mixed reviews so I wasn’t that keen on just buying it but my library didn’t have the first one. I eventually broke down and bought Mistborn (book #1) at Powell’s because I couldn’t take it anymore. Thankfully the library has the other two books.

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Photo by Edgar Guerra on Unsplash

The sci-fi fantasy genre is relatively new to me. Because of that, I didn’t know what to expect in regards to – well, anything. I was most concerned about the sexual content that might be included but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. ( I feel the need to add that when I read any new book that’s not a faith-based author, I worry about this.)  There were a few innuendos in each of the last two but were mild enough that I didn’t feel the need to put down the book.

(I’ve shared the only pics I have of each book. Apparently I never took cover pics of them. I decided to go ahead and share them because they show just how BIG/long they all are! If I remember right, they average 700 pages each) 

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Mistborn – It took a thousand years for even the memory of hope to die, but the Lord Ruler dominates his world with a violent and dominating fist. Ash falls from the sky and mists rule the night. Kelsier, a mistborn, gathers his crew for the greatest heist in history. By chance, he runs into street-smart and wary Vin, a mistborn as well. For their plan to work, Vin must learn to use her powers as well as trust those around her. They are all in for a surprise when Kelsier tells him the other part of his plan – kill the Lord Ruler.

~Was thoroughly surprised and delighted to find myself drawn into this story as quickly as I was with Elantris.  The characters are interesting and varied and the world Sanderson creates – while hard to imagine with ash falling daily from the sky and the whole world a neutral gray – comes alive. The villain is terrible, although there’s enough mystery that keeps him from being trite. The ending was unexpected and I had a hard time waiting for the next two books from the library.

 

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The Well of Ascension – With the Lord Ruler, the man who claimed to be god incarnate, dead, the world is left in the hands of Vin and the aristocratic man that she’s fallen in love with. Kelsier’s crew is left trying to learn politics, while a new religion among the people – based around Vin and Kelsier – is growing.  Stopping assassins from killing the new ruler soon proves to be the least of Vin’s problems – the mists now have a strange quality about them. As if they are against her. As Luthadel is besieged, a legend comes to light. While it seems to offer hope, no one is quite sure what to do about it. Where is the Well of Ascension? And what power does it really hold?

 

~I wasn’t sure what to expect at the start of this book, what with the ending of the first one. The story had me so in its grip though, that I couldn’t wait to delve back into it. The individual characters’ growth were interesting – Sazed, Elend, Vin, Spook, etc, and how they each searched for their role in this new government, this new world. I think Sazed really started to shine in this one, becoming the one that I most… identified with. The ending, if I remember correctly, was slightly dissatisfying and didn’t tie up as many loose ends as I thought it would. 

 

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Hero Of Ages – When the Lord Ruler was killed, the Deepness was released back into the world. Creating all sorts of havoc that Vin, Elend and the others fighting to save the world can’t stop – the ash is falling heavier than ever, the mists are killing people and earthquakes are increasing in strength. It seems that humanity is doomed.

~ This book. Where do I even start? This book concludes everything that you’ve been wondering if he’s ever going to tie up – and more that you hadn’t even realized were left dangling. Sanderson is an amazing storyteller, going against the grain of  what you expect to happen and pulling the rug out from under you. And then you go ‘aha! (waking up your significant other in the middle of the night) because you just got what he’s been alluding to. And then later realizing that perhaps you didn’t have it figured out. The turn-about that he does with the Lord Ruler was a brilliant move on Sanderson’s part. I’d say I was slightly heartbroken but also pleased with its ending.

 

I have to point out that it’s really hard to write synopsis’ without giving any major details of the plot away. If you look these up anywhere online you’ll learn a whole lot more about them but I hate it when I learn a pivotal plot line before I should! So, it’s up to you if you want to know more about them or not.

This series is one that will probably be a yearly-read for me. Meaning that I’ll eventually just buy the next two books! If you enjoy this genre, I recommend that you give it a shot. It sucks you in quick and takes you through every possible emotion – a sign of a good story. I will add that I didn’t end up loving it in the same way as Elantris, but perhaps that’s because this series breaks your heart more often. heh.

Because of the subtle innuendos that are sparsely included, I wouldn’t recommend this for a younger audience.

(Yes, I took these to read while getting my IV’s. The rather huge size of them made them easier to handle while one arm was immobilized. )

~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.~

Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson? What genre have you recently tried, or have been wanting to try?

~Laura

Book Review – April 2017

25 Apr

This month has been full of reading, folks! I’ve made a conscious effort to pick up a book instead of turn on the tv, and this month’s list is the result.

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When Bad Things Happen to Good People  by Harold S. Kuchner  – Striving to answer the age-old question ‘why, God?’, Kuchner shares the doubts and fears that often come with the question. He shares his wisdom as a rabbi, reader and parent in the hopes to bring comfort to the reader.

~This was recommended to me – that’s the only reason I finished it. I’m not a fan of this book. There were very few points that were made that I either didn’t already know or agreed with. That probably sounds arrogant but I don’t mean it to be. He has different beliefs than I do, and his including those (evolution for one), I felt to be unnecessary and distracted from the point of the entire book. If I rated these, this would be half a star.

The Shepherd’s Voice by Robin Lee Hatcher – Finally free from prison, Gabe has a hard time finding work during the Great Depression. He heads home, hoping his father will take him in. Instead he finds compassion and faith when Akira offers him a job and a home.

~This is a favorite that I read once a year. I love the journey that Gabe and Akira go through. As well as the faith and life lessons peppered throughout. Plus it’s set in the 1940’s (?) in Idaho. Fantastic setting.

Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott – As a sequel to Eight Cousins,  we revisit Rose after she’s traveled the world for two years. She’s decided that before she marries, she wants to show that she’s an independent young woman. But the world is at odds with her decision, making her wonder just who her true friends are.

~Another delightful story from Alcott. The twists were unexpected and surprising – I had a hard time putting it down! In fact, i read it in just a few days. Highly recommend this, young or old.

Captain’s Courageous by Rudyard Kipling – When young millionaire, Harvey, is swept overboard and rescued by a fishing boat, his life is forever changed. The crew teaches him how to fish, and how to be a man.

~This was a birthday present and came with a recommendation from one of my nephews. I enjoyed this book so much, although I will admit to still not knowing what a ‘foc’sle’ is. Kipling wrote a classic boy’s adventure with this one. Highly recommend, for young or old readers!

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy – Click through for my full review! For now, I’ll say that I enjoyed this novel immensely.

Created to Live by Cathy Harris – Click through for my full review! Well worth the read on a heartbreaking and controversial topic.

Currently Reading:

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss ~I am listening to this as an audio book via Librivox. If I had a copy in hand, I would have read it within a week, most likely. As it is though, I listen to it on the nights when I’m in too much pain to sleep. Very entertaining and not sure how I haven’t read it already!

Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David H. Stern ~ Pulled this from my OH’s library. I’m moving through it really slowly but it’s a good read so far. I am able to understand it without feeling overwhelmed. 

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson ~ A favorite that I read probably twice a year. Here’s a review from a few years ago if you want to check it out.

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell ~I picked this up at the library and am eager to get any helps on editing my first novel!

Once again, I’m joining the Reading Roundup linkup. Click the picture and find some more great reads!

Reading Roundup

What are you currently reading?

~Laura

Book Review- June

21 Jun

How many months has it been since we’ve had a book review?!? Too many, and I am here to fix that! I have been reading all over the genres lately – thanks to the stack of books my mom gave me and other gifts by wonderful friends!

I am going to cover the books that I read since our last review in March and work forward from there, this might just be a two-part review.

Let’s begin shall we?

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Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (book 6) –   Anne is expecting another child but to the family’s dismay, Aunt Mary comes to visit, for a long time. To add to the difficulty, Anne starts to wonder if Gilbert still loves her. But, still full of spunk and imagination, Anne is ready to make her husband fall in love all over again.

~  Ah, this book was probably one of my favorites of those later in the series. I loved the children being young, a difficult relative coming and staying indefinitely and seeing Anne older and wiser but still full of dreams and imagination.

Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery  (book 7) – Anne and Gilbert now have six children, and their amusing antics are carried out in Rainbow Valley. Their new neighbors, two boys and two girls who only have a minister father, join them in the valley and add to the escapades.

~ This book was a delight to read. While I grew up out in the country, I certainly didn’t have adventures like these! You will fall in love with these children.

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (book 8) – Only young Rilla is left of the Blythe children at Ingleside. Pretty 15 year old Rilla is only focused on getting to her first dance and hopefully, her first kiss from Kenneth Ford. But when the world erupts into war, her world is turned into one of drama and challenges. Not only do her brothers go off to fight, but she rescues an abandoned baby in a soup tureen.

~ I must admit that this one was harder to read, with it being focused on the war. But because of that fact, it was the best ‘account’ of what life was probably like for them during those days, so for that, I appreciated it. I like how Rilla grew up throughout the challenges and years.

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. 10 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 two goals – 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’. I’m even contemplating taking it on my trip to Cali with me!

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame – Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger are the main stars in this delightful children’s classic as their adventures range from the constant river,stolen  motor cars, the Wild Wood and gypsy caravans. Originally published in 1908, these friends have long delighted readers. Mole and Rat are the best of friends , as well as being the best type of friend to others; Toad is peevish, thinking only of the fun he longs to have and Badger is the bachelor who knows everyone and is the wisest of them all.

~Some friends recommended this book and I scored an older copy at Powell’s bookstore in order to read it. Delightful. Absolutely delightful. It will certainly be a yearly read.

Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy (Sophie’s Daughters #1) – Having trained as a nurse, Beth is on her way back home to her sister’s wedding. But when a stagecoach accident nearly kills them all, Beth struggles to help the injured by herself. When she realizes the incoherent bum she’s barely tolerated, is a doctor, she forces him to help her. Once in her hometown, her younger sister Sally has an accident and in order to be able to help Alex continue caring for Sally, Beth agrees to marry Alex. As time passes and Alex starts to show signs of being sane, and Beth starts to fall in love with him – everything else goes wrong, a bounty hunter intent on taking Alex in for deserting the Army and Alex decides to turn himself in and face the firing squad.

~ Happy sigh again with this book. It is a light, you-know-it’s-going-to-end-happily type of book but well written with a good twist on the ‘usual’ Christian western story line.

Part two will be later this week – with the rest of Sophie’s Daughters series and more! Come back and check it out!

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised when reading outside your regular genres?

~Laura

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