Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Chronicles of Narnia

After many years from whence I set my mind to it, I finally read The Chronicles of Narnia. It was very interesting to read these works that many have discussed and, actually, debated.  One of the main debates is which order to read them in: how Lewis wrote and published them, or in chronological order, as they are currently published. My copy has all seven in one, and I read them in the order the appeared in this compilation, chronologically. 

One of my reasons for wanted to read Narnia in the first place was because I'd heard it was like a children's bible; a way to present some of the stories and morals from the bible to young children. In fact, when I first read The Magician's Nephew a few years ago, I wrote a paper on it connecting it to Genesis's telling of the creation and the tale of Adam and Eve. It seems to me that Narnia certainly has many links to the bible, but not in an annoying way, more in a teach-your-child kind of way.

Lewis denied allegorical intent in his writing, instead stating that the aspects of Christianity he presented are merely "supposition"1 and I find they're still a great series regardless of their Christian aspect. They're written for younger children, but enjoyable to all ages. I highly recommend this series (even though I didn't like the ending!): just read the books before the movies because they're very different, especially in the battles. Read on! 

1.  Yes, it's Wikipedia, but I'm quoting a cited source. I just don't know if it's 51 or 52! :) 


There's a quote on this cover about Barefoot making you want to pick up everything and head to the beach. Which it did-- Just to get me away from this book! Elin Hilderbrand writes to show us how smart and well-read she is, trying to make herself sound brilliant and comparable to the great works of literature one might study as an English major, while presenting herself as a beach-read chick-lit author. And Barefoot certainly appears to be a beach read, but it clearly is not.  Hilderbrand, in mixing her demographics and genres, seemingly to obtain more readers, must be losing readers from both sides. She attempted to write an intellectual beach book and failed. I can't say that I recommend this book. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Wide-Awake Princess #2: Unlocking the Spell


ED Baker introduces us to a new kind of princess in her Wide-Awake Princess series.  This princess is named Annie, and she is unaffected by magic.  She can't be "magicked" beautiful, like other princesses, but she also can't be placed under any magic spells. And when Annie gets too close to someone, their magic starts to fade. 

Unlocking the Spell is the second in the series, but it is fairly easy to read as a stand alone. I didn't read the first one, but I could put enough together (context clues!) to understand and enjoy this novel. 

I enjoyed Unlocking the Spell for its morals and lessons.  Princess Annie isn't a traditional princess. And that's okay. Her sister is a traditional princess: girly, a bit of a priss, and beautiful. And that's okay too. Growing up, they weren't necessarily friends, but throughout this novel, they learn a lot about each other and grow closer together on their quest. There's other nice lessons to be learned from this novel. It's great. 

Written on about a 4th-5th grade reading level, I would recommend this to upper elementary readers (and their parents!). However, it was still enjoyable for me, much more enjoyable than other books I've read with students at that level! It's also nice that the princesses are older, so for an older-yet-struggling-reader, it doesn't seem like a baby book. I highly recommend this book and I'm going to give my copy to Jordyn. I hope she likes it! If not, I'm sure my mom will :) 


*I won this novel from Goodreads FirstReads. All opinions expressed are my own.


I picked up Mockingbird by Charles J Shields because of my deep, undying love for To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee.  I was sorely disappointed, and I'm sure you will be too.  It basically states all the connections (which I already knew) between Harper Lee and Scout.  Basically To Kill a Mockingbird is like her life. Scout's friend Dil is Harper Lee's friend, and fellow author, Truman Capote. The novel is basically a fictionalization of her life.  Even the Radleys were based on a real family, which I didn't know, so that part was interesting, but it dragged on for ever and ever! There was a nice bit about how Lee worked with Capote on In Cold Blood, which I also didn't know about, but again, my! Shields drags on!

Another issue I had with Mockingbird was that Shields didn't have Lee's input or permission or approval or anything to write about her life! The novel had no new information from Shields; it was more like a thesis paper with too much research.  It was long and boring and I felt like there was no point to reading, and there is certainly no point in me recommending this novel to you!

Read my post on To Kill a Mockinbird here:

Friday, January 11, 2013


One of Matthew's books, Savvy by Ingrid Law is a cute idea of a novel for the younger YA reader. It's sort of a fantasy, but not overly so.  it tells the story of Mibs and her siblings as they go on a coming-of-age road trip style adventure to "fix" Mibs's ill father. It's a cute book, but definitely more for the younger reader. It's not quite enough for an adult. I recommend as a read-with-your-child or for a younger YA reader. Read on, friends!

The Leviathan Trilogy: Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath

In Scott Westerfeld's best work, the Leviathan Trilogy featuring Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath,we meet some great characters and go on an exciting adventure through alterna-history's WWI with both an Allied and an Axis perspective. The trilogy has elements of both steampunk and fantasy as well as threading in truths and actual people from history (Westerfeld includes an afterward correcting some of his alterna-history).  It was a lively exciting read that I highly recommend to any reader. I give it five stars. Westerfeld, you hit your mark with these works. Read on, my friends.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Virgin Earth

Virgin Earth, the free-standing sequel to Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory, tells the story of John's son, John. The two men have never seen eye-to-eye, especially in the turmoil of England, but they have been able to make it work because they need to, because they are both gardeners for the king. And so John the younger goes to Virginia (remember, this is pre-United States of America. This is early Jamestown days) to collect new plants and escape the pain of his wife's death. While there, he falls in love with his young Powhatan guide. But the story doesn't end there! John travels back to England, then back to Virginia, and back to England again. Similar to Earthly Joys, yet slightly more enjoyable, there are nice aspects to Virgin Earth. It's neat to learn about the way of the Powhatan and the changes England goes through prior to and during it's civil war. But it has the same problems as Earthly Joys, too. I didn't connect with this John, either. It was like Philippa was trying to cover too much ground and couldn't get into enough depth for me to enjoy it. I'm not sure that I recommend this book, but it really wasn't a terrible read. I just expect more from Ms Gregory and didn't love Virgin Earth. 

Earthly Joys

Well, Philippa, ya win some, you lose some. And you just didn't win me over with Earthy Joys, either time I've read it. The historical backdrop of the switch from the Tudors to the Stuarts was interesting, as was the tulip crash. And sometimes I even liked John (the main character), but I didn't always get why I was reading about him. Nothing was pulling me forward into the story.  it covered almost John's whole life, instead of being a story about X,Y,Z. There wasn't necessarily a conflict, or even a climax to the novel. I couldn't draw this out as a plot line diagram, as they have students do. It was a long, long novel and didn't seem like one unified story. Maybe I just didn't get the love story between John and his "masters" well enough. Maybe I didn't get his love for his plants. So, I don't really recommend this, unless you're like me and determined to read all of Philippa Gregory's books so you can honestly say she's your favorite author (I need to be researched and legit, ya'll. and I have to read everything!!) or a lover of botany. And if you do choose to read it: warning & slight spoiler -- there is one gay sex scene. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Attack the Lusitania!

When I first saw my mom borrow this book from my grandpa, I was really excited to read it. Grandpa likes war books and this looked super exciting and about a topic I didn't know much about. Of course, it took me a while to get to reading Attack the Lusitania! amid the moves and book shuffles and the fact that I always want to read about 500 books, but I finally banned myself from the library and got to reading the books we have at home. 

I really wanted to like this novel. But no. I didn't like it at all. First of all, why even make the characters LDS? Is that a requirement for being published by Covenant? Because the characters being LDS didn't seem to have much of tie-in other than getting some of the characters to talk, but that could have been done in another way. And why were there all these different perspectives? The novel is barely over 200 pages, and I'm supposed to follow three different story-lines, one of which disappears halfway through? It made it so hard to get to know the characters and feel for them. There was no character development and I didn't feel attached to any of them. 

It was interesting to learn more about the Lusitania and the circumstances under which it was attacked, but I learned just as much about the Lusitania from The American Heiress, and I'm going to recommend that book to you instead!