Book Review: “The Last Battle”

Book twenty four of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle

The seventh and final book in the Chronicles of Narnia brings closure to the entire series. We get to see all our favorite characters once again in Narnia which wraps up the seven books nicely.

The story focuses on an impostor Aslan that is beginning to destroy Narnia with the help of the Calormene, Narnia’s not-so-nice neighbors. The current king of Narnia, a decedent of Prince Caspian, attempts to thwart the fake Aslan but cannot do so without help. Here is where we see Jill and Eustace from The Silver Chair return.

Jill, Eustace and the king gather what faithful Narnians they can find to expose the fake Aslan and revolt against the army of Calormene. Unfortunately, the land is divided and many Narnians perish at the hands of other Narnians. All that Narnia stands far begins to crumble and Jill and Eustace begin to realize the fate of their favorite land is dismal.

I don’t want to give away too much or what happens in the end, but we get to see the Penvensies and even Polly and Digory, the children from The Magician’s Nephew. The return of characters from past books really brings together the story of the series as a whole and creates an all-encompassing ending.

I really enjoyed reading this series and recommend it to anyone that enjoyed the movies. The movies didn’t tell the whole story and the whole story is worth telling (reading).

Stay tuned for my next review: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell.

Book Review: “I Was Here”

Book twenty three of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Gayle Forman’s I Was Here

Forman, the author of If I Stay and Where She Went, brings another coming-of-age novel to the YA genre with I Was Here.

I don’t think I will ever get out of the YA genre. Maybe when I’m in my 60s, but right now I really like reading YA and Forman is a great YA writer. I read If I Stay and Where She Went when I was in high school and really liked the books and style of writing. I Was Here is another great addition to Forman’s novels.

The novel is about Cody, a young adult, who has recently lost her best friend to suicide. She spends the novel investigating her death and coping with the fact that she never saw it coming. In her investigation she finds new friends and learns a lot about more about her best friend. And like all coming-of-age novels the main character learns more about herself as well.

I really liked this novel because Cody’s character showed tremendous love and dedication to her best friend and also grew throughout the novel because of that love and dedication. I really enjoy character development and Cody’s character developed throughout the story in many different ways. It kept me engaged and I wanted to keep reading after every chapter.

The topic of suicide is always touchy no matter what medium you’re talking through. I think Forman handled it very well considering teenage suicide is a topic that is hard to talk about in an appropriate way. She handled the overall situation with a story about what happens after someone is gone and how friends and family have to handle it. The actual suicide was only mentioned as a past event and had very little detail which I think is the best way to approach it.

Another non-plot related aspect that I really liked in Forman’s novel was the short chapter length. I think having shorter chapters keeps the reader in focus and it makes reading easier in a way. I also think it’s a great approach to YA writing.

Overall I really enjoy Gayle Forman’s novels and her writing style in particular. I recommend this book with caution of course. If you’re sensitive to the topic of suicide I’d consider another book.

Stay tuned for my next review: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Book Review: “An Age of License: A Travelogue”

Book twenty two of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Lucy Knisley’s An Age of License: A Travelogue

With this reading challenge I am trying to expand my ‘read books’ repertoire and read more than just novels. If you’ve been following along you’ll know that I’ve been reading poetry collections a lot lately. In addition to the poetry books I’m also trying graphic novels. Enter Lucy Knisley, a New York Times best selling cartoonist and her amazing graphic novels.

An Age of License: A Travelogue is both a graphic novel and journal from one of Lucy’s trips to Europe. It’s a very insightful book that focuses on the unknown that a young woman faces when starting her adult life. Lucy is experiencing heartbreak but also seeking adventure and questioning what the next step is for herself.

Besides having the funds to disappear to Europe for a vacation, Lucy’s life mirrors that of someone my age. That’s what made me really enjoy the overall story and ultimate conclusion about being true to yourself and doing what you want to do. Each day in Lucy’s graphic journal she gets to not only explore the area of Europe she’s in but she learns something new about herself in a way.

The small stories about Lucy’s adventures were great and because of the graphic novel style the reader also got to see a bit of what Lucy saw. It adds to the reading experience in a different way. Lucy’s experiences were obviously genuine and it was nice to read about someone’s more vulnerable life incidents to learn from in a totally different way.

Overall I really enjoyed the graphic novel and would recommend it to any young girls who are just trying to figure out what the next step in their life is.

Stay tuned for my next review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Book Review: “The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One”

Book twenty one of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Amanda Lovelace’s The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One

This collection of poems is book two of Amanda Lovelace’s ‘Women Are Some Kind of Magic‘. The first is The Princess Says Herself in This One, which I reviewed earlier this month.

I enjoyed this collection more than the first installment because of the content and overall message.

I think empowering women is a great subject to write about in today’s climate. Poetry can be a powerful medium to speak out about what’s happening in society and Lovelace does it in a beautifully artistic way.

I’m slowly falling in love with poetry and I’m itching to write some of my own. I think reading poetry can really boost someone’s feelings in a positive way. I’ve needed a little bit of a pick-me-up recently and this book did exactly that, it gave me something to look forward to, something to strive for. Thank you Amanda Lovelace.

I’m hoping to finish off this trio of poetry books and I recommend you pick it up as well. Especially if you’re a woman in need of a little inspiration.

Stay tuned for my next review: An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley.

Book Review: “The Silver Chair”

Book twenty of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair

The sixth book in the Chronicles of Narnia brings a new adventure and new characters to the series. I remember this being one of my favorite movies from the BBC film adaptations because of the characters and the different style of adventure it brought.

In this book we see Eustace, cousin to the Penvensie children, again with a new character, a schoolmate named Jill Pole. Eustace and Jill are summoned to Narnia by Aslan to help find and return Prince Caspian’s son who has been missing for 10 Narnian years. And if you’ve ever read the series or seen the movies you’ll know that in Narnia time moves differently. So when Eustace arrives again in Narnia he doesn’t realize the old frail king about to board a ship is his old friend Caspian.

After arriving and missing the chance to speak with his old friend, Eustace and Jill head out to find the lost prince with four key clues given to Jill by Aslan. Now this is where another new character is introduced and the adventure begins. Jill, who has just been introduced in this book, plays a key role in the journey that encompasses the book’s plot. Even though Jill is a new character I found that she fit well in Narnia. I liked that even though Eustace was the returning character the plot was focused on her and her own challenges. Her character really made or broke the individual tasks that made up the entire adventure.

The adventure in this book is similar to all the other books but with different challenges, tasks and settings for the characters. This was an aspect of the book that I really enjoyed because it took the characters outside of the areas we readers have already learned about in other books of the series. The tasks and challenges presented to the characters were unique compared to others thus keeping my interest.

In addition to the new characters, tasks and challenges and settings, the book was very fast paced which kept me interested and engaged. This cannot be said about the other books in the series so I found this refreshing.

I’m happy to have continued reading this series and with only one book left I am actually a bit sad about it all ending. Overall the series is an easy read and I enjoyed being able to read the books in only a few settings. I still recommend reading this series to anyone who is okay reading YA.

I won’t be jumping straight into the final installment of The Chronicles of Narnia quite yet, but I will read The Last Battle soon and post an overall series review.

Stay tuned for my next review: The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace.

Book Review: “Fierce Fairytales”

Book seventeen of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Nikita Gill’s Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul

Keeping with the poetry theme, I decided to put a couple of books of poetry on hold at the library and of course all three came at once and I’m loving reading them all. This particular book is the best of both worlds because it includes both poems and short stories.

Gill’s take on classic fairytales is unique and gives the meaning to the stories a whole new perspective. I honestly couldn’t put this book down because I wanted to keep reading the different adaptations of the stories I’ve know since I was a child.

The interpretation of each story wasn’t just different from the classic tale. It told the story with elements of today’s societal flaws in between the lines. A lot of modern poetry has deeper meaning and tells a story that many can relate to and these certainly did. I found the poem below in particular to be very powerful.

If you ever want to have
a look at the way a word
can totally demean and destroy
the entire worth and value of a woman
just look at what the word ‘ugly’
did to Cinderella’s two stepsisters.

Two Misunderstood Stepsisters

Even though there are only a few words in the poem it talks about something millions of women can relate to. It also speaks on a historical literary level. Almost every young girl has read, been read or seen the classic fairy tales so isn’t it possible that the literature we read to entertain and excite creativity also perpetrates a sense of demeaning oneself? It’s certainly something to ponder.

This book of poetry was not only a fantastic read, but also encouraged a new way of thinking about the classic tales we all loved as children. I highly recommend the collection to anyone that loves poetry, short stories and the classics. And I encourage those of you that read the book to think a bit more about the stories’ meaning.

Stay tuned for the next review: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by podcast queens Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.

Book Review: “The Princess Saves Herself in This One”

Book sixteen of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself in This One

I’ve been trying to get into poetry more because there’s just something about reading exactly how you feel in words that you would have never chosen to use. I love reading books and escaping to another world, but poetry keeps you in your own world and usually says so much with only a few carefully put together words.

If you’ve been keeping up with some of my other book reviews you’ll know that I read both Rupi Kaur’s poetry books and fell in love with her writing. It was the connection I made with her poetry that I really enjoyed. When a piece of writing is relatable it’s more interesting to read. Lovelace’s writing wasn’t that of Kaur’s, but both developed that relation. The poets have different styles (as most should in my opinion) but they both had powerful poems that told similar stories and had impactful meaning.

One of the poems for this book that I found so powerful summarized a feeling that’s hard for most to describe and did so with only 16 words. The style of writing that Lovelace uses in this poem, and the entire collection, is unique and I really enjoyed it.

A review of The Princess Saves Herself in This One on Goodreads criticized the multiple lines of single words and how it wasn’t considered poetry and “anyone can do it”. I disagree. I think poetry isn’t just about the words written on a page. There’s a style choice when it comes to the layout of those words. It gives the poem itself character and I think this style for Lovelace’s collection in this book is spot on for the character and message of the poems themselves.

I truly enjoyed reading this book and will certainly look into some of the author’s other collections. Lovelace’s style is short and sweet but packs a lot of emotion which is the best aspect of poetry. If you haven’t dipped your toe into the poetry pool I suggest you do. It’s usually a quick read but gives you perspective on how others are interpreting things you are also experiencing.

Stay tuned for the next review. I’ve been jumping around reading a few books, which I don’t do often so it could be any of these: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by podcast queens Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark; The Silver Chair, book six in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis; Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill; or American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes.

Book Review: “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”

Book fifteen of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The fifth book in the Chronicles of Narnia was the third movie made by Disney. It follows Prince Caspian in both the book and movie.

I have to admit I am getting a bit burned out on these books, but I am still determined to finish the entire series.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader had similar plot differences with the film adaptation as Prince Caspian did. Some details were different and some order of events were swapped around. But, of course, that is to be expected with film adaptations of books.

I did enjoy this book more than I enjoyed the last. I think the detail and flow of this story was better and had more action and development. I, personally, like the two younger Pevensie children more and so having them be the only two in this book was more enjoyable. Lucy’s character is always ready for adventure and ready to learn new things. She develops more and more as a young lady as the books fo on and I really enjoyed her personal battles in this book.

I also enjoyed the new character Eustace, Lucy and Edmund’s cousin. He definitely isn’t a likable person at the beginning but his growth in the book is relatable and was fun to follow. His experiences were other worldly, but they parallel many things that young children experience in the real world which makes him a key character for young readers to bond with.

This one is a bit short, but as I’ve said in all my review of this series, I’d recommend reading it.

Stay tuned for the next review: The Silver Chair, book six in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis or Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by podcast queens Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.

Book Recommendations from the Boyfriend

If you haven’t figured it out, I love to read. I might be a bit behind on my reading challenge, but I’m always down for a good book recommendation. My boyfriend is the same. He loves to read and usually gets through a book fairly quickly. I can’t read that fast or I feel like I’ve missed key elements to the story.

This past weekend while he was visiting I asked him about some of his favorite books and what he’d recommend to avid readers such as ourselves. He had to think about it a bit, most likely because he’s read so many books and doesn’t necessarily remember them all, but in the end he gave me five book recommendations and talked about one of his all time favorites.

Book 1: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

George Orwell writes about the years he spent in Spain during the 30s participating in the Spanish Civil War. The Nazi backed Franco Regime had an oppressive hold on the country and what we saw in Spain during the mid to late 30s was basically a small scale preview of WWII. Tyler read Homage to Catalonia while in Barcelona, and seeing the landmarks that George experienced while he was there really made the book come to life for him. Among Tyler’s other suggestions that are mostly fantasy and science fiction, this is a stand out read for anyone interested in history and nonfiction.

Book 2: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Tyler describes this book as the epitome of the science fiction genre. In a future where human consciousness can be transferred into new, weaponized bodies and humanity has been exploring the farthest reaches of the galaxy, how does a regular guy fit in? The best part of this book is that it is the first in a series which Tyler enjoys reading and it even spawned a prequel series and a tangentially related series from one of the secondary characters, so you will never be left wishing there was another book. Series are convenient for the avid reader as it keeps the story, the fantasy or the foreign world alive for more than one book. Tyler enjoys series, as do I, because it’s even more books to read.

Book 3: A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

“This is a pretty cliche response I’m sure, but noteworthy all the same,” started Tyler. For many of you who may be a fan of the TV series you’re in for treat according to Tyler if you dare to pick up one of George R.R. Martin’s books. As Tyler says if you’ve only watched the show and never read any of the books, you’re really only getting a small fraction of the story. “You are not a real GOT fan if you have only watched the tv show.” Now this I have to slightly disagree with as I as well, have not yet read the large series. “The story in the book is bigger, has waaaaaaaay more plot lines, characters, and many of the items they do share actually pan out totally differently,” says Tyler. One of the best fantasy series he’s ever read, and he claims it’s worth the time it takes to get through the roughly 1000 pages in each book. I hope to one day get through the books as the TV series has come to an end.

Book 4: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson

Neil starts his book in the earliest measurable moments in the universe and explains how a tiny pinpoint of matter could become the complex universe we live in now. Tyler says the book is incredibly accessible, even for people with no math or science background and he loves the book because all of the material is presented in an interesting way that really makes learning, what in reality is some of the most advanced and challenging material from one of the newest, cutting edge fields of science, an enjoyable experience. “Neil has been bringing science to the masses through a variety of different mediums for years now, and this is yet another triumph for him.”

Book 5: Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan

Ranger’s Apprentice is set in a fictional medieval kingdom where there is a ranger, an elite warrior, charged by the king to live in and protect his fief (basically a state). The books follow a young orphan named Will as he is assigned to be the new apprentice ranger in his fief. Tyler especially likes these books because of the different perspective they give to the often-overused medieval setting. He explains that Rangers are not knights in shining armor protecting the honor of their citizens in all the traditional ways a medieval knight would, but rather smaller men, experts with bows and knives, who favor stealth to open combat. “It is a fresh and exciting look at the world, and the main character Will is someone who I connected with easily, and I suspect that many young men would feel the same way.” Despite the fantastical setting, many of Flanagan’s characters are incredibly detailed and real, which makes the story that much more enjoyable.

Bonus: An all-time favorite of Tylers: Origin by Dan Brown

Dan Brown’s latest novel takes the basic outline of many of his other most popular stories. We see the return of Robert Langdon from Angels and Demons, the DaVinci Code, and Inferno. Tyler describes Origin as, “by far, is his most ambition Langdon plot to date”, and he mixes the tantalizing technological future that we are on the precipice of reaching today with one of the most ancient questions that humanity has faced: how did life begin? You will see a pattern emerge in Tyler’s reading here, as one of the main setting of the book is, you guessed it, Barcelona. This was another book tha he read while visiting Barcelona a few summers ago, and again, reading it while he was there really enhanced the story. Tyler says the book is a good balance between nonfictional and fictional elements and a good read for people who may not be into the fantasy and science fiction genres.

Tyler’s taste in books is similar to my own and I’ve read a few that he’s recommended to me before. I hopefully will be able to take these recommendations as well and add them to my “To Read” list.

What book recommendations do you have for this summer?