Tag Archives: young adult fantasy

Series Review – Shadowfell

24 Oct

As promised, a review on a new favorite series of mine! I’ve read it twice now and it’s set onto my must-own-one-day-soon list. Juliet Marillier has written twenty (!) historical fantasy novels and has won many awards. If you’ve been following SGL for any length of time, you know that Wildwood Dancing is one of my all-time favorite novels. When I first found this at the library, I was interested but nervous as my experience with fantasy was still limited to Brandon Sanderson. But, almost immediately, I was sucked into this story and never wanted to put the books down! It’s a three book series and at the end of it, you want it to continue! I really enjoyed Marillier’s descriptions of the world of Alban – the different regions/topography. But, on to a synopsis of the series!

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Photo by Niilo Isotalo on Unsplash

Shadowfell:

Left on her own at sixteen, Neryn must put to use her knowledge of keeping hidden as she evades the king’s soldiers that are hunting her down. In the kingdom of Alban, anyone with canny skills is considered an enemy, and treated accordingly. Her ability to see the Good Folk – the wee fairy-like creatures behind that rock or in that tree – is something she’s always striven to ignore, knowing exactly what the consequences are for her ‘gift’.  After being rescued from certain death by the mysterious Flint, Neryn decides to set off for a place that she’s only heard of. Shadowfell. The only place left in all of Alban that is free of the evil of King Keldec – the only place that is planning on overthrowing him. Her journey is dangerous and her helpers are the Good Folk and Flint who tell her that she is the only one who can save Alban.

Raven Flight: 

Having reached Shadowfell, Neryn can finally rest. But too soon she learns that she must leave her new rebel friends and seek out each of the four Guardians to learn how to be a Caller. To learn how to use her canny gift to call the Good Folk to help them in their battle against Keldec. To do this is to risk compromising herself and the cause but remaining at Shadowfell is impossible because her skill will mean the failure or success of their venture. Her path will take her to the four corners of Alban, far away from Flint. Her companion is the warrior Tali, whose main allegiance is to the cause.

The Caller: 

Having journeyed to the mountains of the north and the isles of the west, Neryn has learned of water and of earth, but now she has to continue her training to learn of Air from the White Lady in the freezing winter. But when the White Lady isn’t what Neryn expected, plans must change and Neryn has to make a tough decision. Stay where it’s safe, or do what she knows she must. When another threat looms against the rebellion, she must enter into Keldec’s court and watch every step, for one wrong move will mean her death – as well as the death of the rebellion. She has to make it to the moment that she’s been training for, standing up against a stronger enemy than she ever imagined.

I tried not to give too much away ( I absolutely hate it when I learn too much about a series before even reading the first book, it makes me not want to read it at all. Anyone else have that reaction?), but to give enough info so that it intrigues you and makes you want to read it. Really, you should. Even if you’re not much into fantasy fiction. The romances are so lovely and sweet, although there is a bit of delicate sexual content in them. Marillier  wrote it well and mild but I do like to share with you that it’s there so you’re aware of it if you’re going to share it with a young reader – pre-read it first so you know if it’s appropriate!

I so appreciate the moral lessons woven through each of the books and the adventures that Neryn and her band of friends (fey and human) are so engrossing. I HIGHLY recommend this series!

~Laura

 

 

~ 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. ~

 

My Top Reads of 2017

29 Dec

I decided to do something a little bit fun – share a list of my favorite books of this year. We all love lists, don’t we?! We do.

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These aren’t in any particular order – just my Top 5 in each catergory:

New Reads:

~ Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

~ Failure is Impossible (Susan B. Anthony ) by Lynn Sherr

~Timber Ridge Reflections by Tamera Alexander

~Mermaid in the Basement by Gilbert Morris

~Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce

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Classics: 

~Captain’s Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

~Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore

~ Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

~ Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

~Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte’

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About Writing: 

~ Revision and Self- editing for Publication by James Scott Bell

~ The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

~ The New Book of Etiquette by Lillian Eicher

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Fantasy :  (note: remember I am still new to this genre. . . .)

~ Beauty by Robin Mckinley

~ Spindle’s End by Robin Mckinley

~ Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

~ Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

~ The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley

and a bonus one :

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

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Marriage/Faith: 

Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David H. Stern

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

 

 

What’s your favorite read from this year? Do you love some of my top reads as well? I’d love to hear about it! 

~Laura

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 beseiged, 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 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

July 2017 Book Review

1 Aug

Hello hello! I read quite a bit this month – which always makes me happy. There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good book is there?

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – While set in a sleepy town in Virginia, the events that take place in Scout Finch’s childhood, rock the residents of the town.

– I hadn’t read this book since high school and since I seem to be on a classic kick this year, I pulled it off the shelf! I feel like opinions on this novel are very divided – either it’s loved or hated. Well. I’m on the loved it side – I do not know why it took over 10 years for me to read it again! I enjoyed  Lee’s descriptions – the sleepy street, the moonlight on the trees, the rabid dog making its way down the street – they were so vivid I could see them. I think everyone should read this book at least once.  (Now I want to read Go Set a Watchman)

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson – A full review of this great trilogy will be coming next month! (I promise. the wait will be worth it.)

Seasons of the Heart series by Janette Oke – Watch for a full review of this in the next few weeks!

When God Doesn’t Fix it by Laura Story

Currently Reading:

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Anathema by Colleen Coble

On my To-Read List:

One Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are by Ann Voskamp

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – I finally picked up my own copy of this book. I’m excited to read it (I’ve been doing an audio version) and finally finish it!

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

 

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 – January ’15

29 Jan

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Welcome to the first book review of 2015!!! How exciting!! On goodreads, I have a goal of reading 50 books this year. Seems quite reasonable to me, that’s only 4 books a month, right? Easy peasy. I mean, I’m currently reading 4 right now, with another one on the bottom of the stack to start whenever. My fellow book-lovers, that made perfect sense to you, I know it did.

Well, I’ll get right to the reviews!

  • Torah Rediscovered -by Ariel and D’vorah Berkowitz –  This book shows how Jews and non-Jewish believers can honor the Torah. And also how years of neglect and abuse have muddled the difficult issues in the Torah, and clarifies them.  You might recognize this title as I started reading it mid last year, but as I never finished it, I am starting it all over again and will finish it this time! It is such a well-written book, and written so that I can understand!
  • Happy Wives Club – by Fawn Weaver – One night, Fawn started a club to get women who love being married together and speak positively about marriage. Very quickly it spread like wildfire across the world – and Fawn traveled around it to speak with some of these women/couples in order to find the secrets of a great marriage. I have enjoyed reading this so far. I am reading it as a part of the Meaningful Marriage Study group that I am a part of on facebook. It is a light read and getting to ‘meet’ these couples has been a joy and through each couple something new stands out to me and makes me pause in contemplation. I very much recommend it!                                                    bookreviewjan2015
  • Wildwood Dancing -by Juliet Marillier – Jenica and her sisters and father live in the Transylvania woods, in Piscul Draculi – a castle that hides a portal to the Other Kingdom. Every month, with her sisters and pet frog, on the Full Moon, they go through the portal and dance the night away. But at home, in their world, everything is changing, and soon, events will bring their two worlds together and change everything. Forbidden love – Unswerving anger over an act of betrayal – an enchanted frog – and the ultimate test of trust. I mean, really, can you get any better than that in a story?? Sigh of contentment. A friend suggested this book to me years ago and I now read it a few (or several) times a year. I am pretty sure I’ve talked about it here on SGL before too. If you like a bit of magic and fantasy, this book is for you. (for those of you that are not sure, let me also say that I don’t read very much magic/fantasy but still love this one) Plus, my OH surprised me recently with a copy of my very own!

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  • Mrs. Mike – by Benedict and Nancy Freedman – A 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.  I am only a quarter of the way in, in this book so cannot give it a full recommendation yet. I can say that the opening is fantastic – it sucked me in quickly. It did lose me a little bit as it went on though, with a drunken right-hand man and some other random scenes that I can’t quite recall. But, i give it a tentative review so far. Check back next month for a full review! ( this was a Christmas gift from a friend, and you can see the packaging in the back of the photo, I didn’t waste any time starting it!)
  • Lousia May Alcott : Her Life, Letters and Journals – Edited by Ednah Dow Cheney – This book gives an intimate look at one of America’s most beloved authors.  It was originally published in 1889 (!!), just one year after her death. Combining her letters and journal entries with comments from a family friend (Cheney), shows how ‘faithfully and fully she performed whatever duties circumstances laid upon her’.  I really enjoyed this book, even though it took me over a month to complete it. I talked about it here and still recommend it for any young/older woman to read as motivation to keep at our tasks of loving and taking care of our families.

And for the book that’s on my list to start in the near-future – Heal Your Headache by David Buchholzm M.D. – this book has the “1-2-3 program for taking charge of your health”.  With answers to questions that nearly all headache sufferer asks, this book is a treasure-trove of information, based on ‘the breakthrough understanding that virtually all headaches are forms of migraine.’   “Step 1 – Avoid the Quick-Fix. Step 2 – Reduce Your Triggers. Step 3 – Raise Your Threshold” – I have owned this book for a few years now, after having been recommended to it for years by several doctors. While I have read bits and pieces of it, I haven’t ever read all of it. I highly recommend it to fellow headache/migraine sufferers from the bits I’ve read though.

Two boards for you to check out on my pinterest page – SGL (that way you’ll never miss a post if you don’t want an email!) and my quotes and books board!

Happy reading friends!

~Laura Starr

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