January 16, 2017

Mini Book Reviews~Two

Well, I've been shamefully absent.

But here I am again, bringing back a post concept I used two summers ago. I love books, and book reviews are such fun to write, but I have neither the time nor energy to write full posts on each book I love, much less all the ones I read. But, I want to share some of my newly discovered favorites with you all, and praise the highly honored favorites to the skies. And fangirl over a few. I'm afraid I won't be able to leave this post without the Caps lock. Bear with me. :)

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Ascendance Trilogy is a new favorite, although I admit I didn't fall in love with The False Prince. The falling-in-love part happened with the next book, The Runaway King. But this first book is still utterly fantastic and fun. Sage is the BEST. His sassy and witty remarks never fail to make me smile or laugh, and I love reading books that make me laugh. The plot is ingenious and that plot twist...oooOOooh. Read this book. Then you'll see what I mean. :P

The Runaway King
THIS BOOK I LOVE. Ahem. Right away, I could tell this would be more exciting than The False Prince...not to mention, I already knew and loved the characters so everything was off to a great start. And then Fink appeared on the page, and Sage's sass is even better, and he goes to the pirates and...and...

I officially want to adopt Fink. He is the funniest, most pathetically adorable boy and HE IS MINE. 
AND WHEN HE FAKE-CRIES. Mah goodness, this boy. <3

Not to mention, this book contains so much suspense and adventure. SO MUCH. And crazy things like Sage climbing a cliff with a broken leg. 
 AND IMOGEN AND SAGE. I love them so much. 
(Also, the planting-the-flowers idea was one of my favorite things.)

The Shadow Throne 
W o w. This conclusion was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Especially the last few pages. And the battle scenes were a LITTLE draggy, but all in all I loved it.
Although, I wished Fink was in it more. :P
(I admit, I looked ahead when That Unspeakable Thing happened. I had to know whether it was true.)
(No regret. The scene in the dungeon made up for it. <3)
(PS. I guessed Tobias and you-know-who would fall in love. I was right!!)

A Year with C. S. Lewis by C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors and this year-length book with daily selections from his nonfiction works was greatly encouraging and inspiring. Snippets from Mere Christianity and The Weight of Glory especially tugged at my heart, and I hope to read those volumes soon.

Blue Ice and Amber by ├łowyn Peterson
You probably recognize this author's name. ;) This short story is the creation of my dear friend and fellow blogger, ├łowyn, who blogs over at Captured by the Word. I finally got around to reading this story recently and I was blown away. The writing is deliciously vivid, putting words to images and allowing you to see and feel and touch the setting through the eyes of the heroine, Lily. And then there's the viking warrior, Jarl Hubba, with his blue eyes and blonde hair and god-like appearance. 
To say this story is thrilling is to say the very least. And that's all I'll say, for you must read it yourself.  I will definitely be reading this again someday. :)

Resistance BY Jaye L. Knight
I admittedly just finished it this morning (after staying up till nearly midnight to keep reading because *spoilers* JACE AND KYRIN WERE BECOMING FRIENDS. MY HEART. *end spoilers*)...and am thus still suffering from a book high--which is much more enjoyable than a book hangover, if you're wondering.

And my small cupcake muffin.


Maybe I'll write a full review for this one. ;)

Beauty by Robin McKinley
This book was utterly beautiful, in its words and style and....everything! I loved how Beauty's sisters were not greedy and cruel, as the original tale has them. Instead, everything about Beauty's family life was sweet and touching. Everyone was so closely-knit and supportive. It was a refreshing thing in a fairy tale, where usually the heroine's family are either horrid or apathetic. :P
Descriptions of the Beast's castle were glorious and detailed and beautiful. And the Beast himself...mmm. :) He was both frightening and mysterious, but oh so gentle and pitiable. Reading this book felt so cozy and yet magical, just as a fairy tale should. I loved it and can't wait to read it again.

Kitty Carter, Canteen Girl by Ruby Lorraine Radford
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it's adorable and lighthearted, despite the mystery that our heroine becomes entangled in, Nancy Drew style. On the other hand, I've gotten so used to reading books with more deeply fleshed out characters and plots that the simple, happy characters of this novel fell a little flat. Not to mention, the progranda-ish optimism about the war effort is a little heavy handed. ;) Not that I'm putting down patriotism and helping out with the war effort, but the true horrid nature of war didn't seem to touch these characters. They seemed almost too happy about it. :P
But it was still sweet and entertaining. I'd probably read it again. 
(Also, how is it the heroines in books like these always gain a boyfriend within minutes of the story's opening who becomes their nice, cheerful best friend and confidante and helps them solve the mystery and ends by practically proposing marriage? Despite knowing each other for a like a week. These books make it look too easy. :P)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I finally read the most popular Christmas classic!! I was greatly surprised by the humor to be found in it. It was a light, fun, and easy read, compared with some most of Dickens' works, although I admit my interest dragged about 3/4 of the way through. Nevertheless, I stuck with it, and am glad to have done so. :)


Boston Jane by Jennifer L. Holm
These two were re-reads, but I had to include them because they're just so delightful and fun. Jehu and Jane never get old. I love them so much. <3
And though I handled reading The Claim much better this time around, it usually frustrates me to no end because of all the horrible characters who mess things up for Jane and the other nice people in Shoalwater Bay. I just want to pack William and Sally up and set them adrift in the Pacific. :P 
Don't worry, I'll give them supplies. They can make it to some to deserted island and make each other miserable.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
After it sat on my shelf for months, I finally picked up North and South and was able to relive one of my favorite miniseries through its original telling. Ahh, this book was lovely. I really can't decide whether I like the book or miniseries better, but there were definitely things I preferred in one and things I preferred in the other. One thing that definitely made the book stand out against the miniseries, however, is Margaret's strong faith in God. Her strength of character is so much apparent in the book, and the trials she goes through are much more clear. She is a heavily burdened character. Both her parents rely on her, and she has no one to share her cares, making the absence of Frederick from her life much more painful. But through it all Margaret remains steadfast. Reading of her struggles and optimism greatly encouraged me in some trials in my own life. One quote especially stood out to me while reading:
"Come! poor little heart! be cheery and brave."
Such a simple statement, and yet so often I need to tell just the same thing to my own heart, which whimpers and withers into sorrow and fear far to often. ;) And when I let my heart rest on Jesus, cheeriness and bravery are completely attainable things. I pray I learn how to do so more and more.

Also, I need to mention that Mr. Thornton is thrillingly just like Richard Armitage's portrayal (perhaps we should say Richard Armitage's portrayal is perfect compared to the book, but shh. I knew Mr. Thornton-Armitage before I knew Mr. Thornton of the book. :P) in the miniseries. And any part where Elizabeth Gaskell described his thoughts and feelings......ahhhhh. I melted. POOR MR. THORNTON. If you pity him in the movie, read the book. You'll pity him even more so. 

Have you read these books?
 If so, what are your thoughts?
Have my reviews convinced you to read any of them? ;)


  1. The battle scenes dragged? The whole Ascendance Trilogy dragged! I just didn't like it much really.

    1. The reason for this atrocity is that thou hast poor taste in literature. :P

    2. Thou scorner of written works.

  2. The only one I've read is A Christmas Carol, haha :-) But that is definitely an old favorite of mine . . . I never thought of it as "light" or "fun" actually--it always seemed a bit dark to me (which is FINE because I rather like dark stuff); but I suppose, compared to the rest of Dickens' work, it IS rather light and cheerful :-)

    Ugggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that's what I hate about SO MUCH World War II fiction, especially the CFR stuff--it just makes the war period seem like a "fun" and "sweet" and "romantic" time, instead of actually dealing with the fact that HELLO THIS WAS A WAR AND PEOPLE ACTUALLY SUFFERED AND DIED IN AGONY. I mean, I know not *every* war story has to be *super* dark, but I want more acknowledgement of the real horrors of WW2 (because it really was a terrible, terrible time in human history), instead of all this sugary romanticization. You'd think some of these authors had never heard the words "bombing raid" or "refugee" or "concentration camp."

    Okay . . . that was a bit of a rant :-) Sorry. History major here. Can't help myself. ;-P

    1. That is a very good point about WW2. Especially since we had it the easiest out of all the major powers, not suffering any major bombing raids or any other especially significant invasion other than the U-boats and other coastal stuff. And since we arrived later in the war too. Not to be unpatriotic though, we were a major player in combat obviously.

    2. Exactly. Even today, we Americans tend to have an extremely narrow view of the war, precisely because our actual wartime experiences were (relatively speaking, of course) much, much lighter than those of the rest of the world.

      We lost about 400,000 soldiers. And that's huge; and I would never want to downplay the suffering experienced by the families of those who died. But Russia, for example, lost TEN MILLION (after losing a million or more in World War I). And it wasn't just soldiers who were killed in WW2, either; bombing raids and war-related famine and deliberate famine took millions upon millions of civilian lives.

      We still like to think of it as the "good war," but . . . it wasn't. It really, really wasn't.

    3. I think our military had fairly realistic ideas (at least after a few years of fighting) but yes, the American public has never really "tasted" war. It is kind of like having a dad who is a police officer. He goes out and arrests people you never really come in contact with in normal circumstances, but actually being affected by war is like having someone break into your house and scare you half to death and then your dad has to shoot him. The difference between hearing about it and then actually being affected by it. Hopefully that made sense.

    4. *nods sagely* Makes perfect sense. I definitely agree with you.

  3. Jessica,
    Well, after years of watching the Alistair Sim version, which I like the best of all the CC adaptions I've seen but don't absolutely love (if that makes sense) I expected the book to be bland and boring. Sorry Dickens, I was wrong. :P
    But yes, compared to other Dickens books I've read, I find CC VERY light and humorous. :)

    Hahaha, totally agree. I don't like depressing, dark stories of WW2, but I do like realistic ones. However, I also like "light" books set during WW2--as long as they don't make the war almost seem like a good thing, which is what this book kind of felt like it was doing. However, in its defense, it was written during 1944. I would think it was purposely made as happy and optimistic as possible to keep the reader's morale up. Because of that, I don't mind it as much as I would if it were written nowadays.

    Haha, not a problem. ;)

    1. Sure!! And some of this is just *my* personal taste--I really tend to prefer darker stories (in general, that is) and so if something feels too light or fluffy (no matter the genre or period!) I'll be kinda dissatisfied :-)

    2. Gotcha. ;) I'll keep that in mind if I think of books to reccomend to you! :D

  4. NATALIEEEE! YOUR HEADER!!! YOUR BACKGROUND!! THAT PICTURE OF YOU ON THE SIDEBAR!! <3 <3 <3 (Sorry, too many caps.) But seriously!! I literally gasped with delight when I saw your new layout. It's SO beautiful! In fact, it may actually be my favorite of all your blog layouts thus far. Maybe. Of course, you've had so many lovely ones that's hard to say for sure but...gahhh! I LOVE IT!! :D <3

    Okay, calming down now. Let's get on to the subject of this post. I like it when you do mini reviews. They're always so interesting. The Beauty and the Beast story sounds really intriguing. Also, Eowyn wrote a book? How cool!

    "'Come! poor little heart! be cheery and brave.' Such a simple statement, and yet so often I need to tell just the same thing to my own heart, which whimpers and withers into sorrow and fear far to often." Oh, my sweet friend, I can totally relate to this. It is hard not to get discouraged about things, isn't it? But you're so right. We must let our hearts rest on Jesus. He's all we need. *hugs*

    1. THANK YOU!!! :D Eek, I'm SO glad you like it. I'm rather proud of it myself. Definitely one of my favorite looks. :) Thanks!!!

      Ooh, good! I'm happy you enjoy them. :) "Beauty" was a wonderful story! And yes, she did! Definitely give it a try if you ever need any Kindle books. ;)

      Awwwww. I'm sorry you can relate....but THANK YOU FOR THE SYMPATHY. *hugs*

  5. I've had "Beauty" on my reading list forever and your review makes me want to read it even more! Also, love your new blog look!

    1. Do try it! It's such a great retelling. :) Thank you!!!

  6. I'm glad you liked The False Prince books! They are a couple of my favorites. I need to read those again. Sage is awesome.
    I looked ahead too! When it happened... the 'unspeakable' in The Shadow Throne. :)
    Great post!

    1. Thanks, Amaris! YES. Sage is indeed awesome. Ohhh, good. Thanks for telling me that. I'm glad I wasn't the only one. ;)
      Thank you!!


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