The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S. Lewis

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official blurb
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy find their way through an old wardrobe into the world of Narnia. There, they unite with Aslan to fight the White Witch and save Narnia from perpetual Darkness.

my blurb!
Three siblings discover a magical land and then come to find that it is their destiny to save it.

3.5 stars

 

what i liked
I can vividly picture the scenes in this book.  I mean, I have seen the movie, so maybe that was why- but I’m gonna say that it was because of how descriptive it was.
There is something so magical about discovering an entirely new world within the confines of a house.  I don’t think that walking into that wardrobe will ever be anything short of amazing for me!
The overall allegory in this story is so well written- there is no room for confusion and it is so easily understood in the mind of a child.  I mean… it’s really pretty cool.  For instance- turkish delight is so good, it’s sinful.  See what I did there?  I couldn’t help myself.  Edmond has a taste of turkish delight and that is soon all he can think about.  It becomes an unquenchable desire to have more turkish delight regardless of the EXTREME consequences it would take to acquire more.

what i didn't like
Edmond sucks so badly.  I mean, wow- he is AWFUL.  I should mention that he isn’t inherently sucky- his siblings (or maybe the narrator) mention that he went away to boarding school and came back with this level of suckage.  He is a genuine unkind soul and I just got so irritated reading about him!
There is a scene featuring Aslan and Edmond and that scene was perfectly awkward in every way.
I think that Peter is portrayed as mean to Edmond.  And I didn’t really like that! Not that Peter was mean, but that he came across that way.  Because seriously, Peter said everything I wanted to say to Edmond.
Again, just as in The Magician’s Nephew, the sexism in this book was off putting for me.  Just so many constant insults about girls.

Overall, I thought I was going to like this book more.  I discovered when reading my copy, that I had actually read the book in college but I hadn’t remembered that at all!  So there are a few reasons that perhaps I didn’t like it as much- being a kids book and a reread, and having already seen the movie.  But I will say, that that has not stopped my love from blooming in the past.
Also, you know when it snows and everything is a beautiful winter wonderland and people all around you make references to Narnia?  I just want to point out that when Narnia was in this perpetual state of winter, it was being ruled by a dark and evil queen.  (Did I just make it obvious that I don’t like winter?)

 

while reading you should
Listen: The Blue Planet by Hans Zimmer
Watch: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe movie!
Eat: Turkish delight! (oh… that’s gross? Okay,  eat dark chocolate brownies.)

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The Magician’s Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis

the magicians nephew

 

official blurb
In this unforgettable story, British schoolchildren Polly and Digory inadvertently tumble into the Wood Between the Worlds, where they meet the evil Queen Jadis and, ultimately, the great, mysterious King Aslan. We witness the birth of Narnia and discover the legendary source of all the adventures that are to follow in the seven books that comprise the series.

my blurb!
Read chronologically, this is the first book in The Chronicle of Narnia series, telling the origin story of the creation of Narnia.

4 out of 5

what i liked
This was a great start to The Chronicles of Narnia series. I really enjoyed reading it!  I had a hand injury when I started doing this buddy read, and was in a bit of a time crunch to complete it – so I actually read the print version and listened to the audiobook version in order to finish it on time.  And I would recommend either version of this book.
This is written for young readers.  I know you’re wondering, “How do you love it so much when you’re not a young reader?”  First of all, don’t be rude. Secondly, I really enjoyed the writing style! I was nervous that the old english would overtake me, but because it was written for kids it was a lot less intimidating!
This book features great quotes, amazing life lessons and a lot of Christian allegories throughout.
My favorite part about it, was probably all of the snide references about people who think they’re better than everyone else.
Shout out to Polly (why isn’t that name more popular by the way? What a cute name!) and to Aslan.  They were my favorite characters in the book!
The last big pro of the story for me was the final chapter.  It was a great wrap up for the story- almost more epilogue-ish.  And I love a good epilogue!

Now, I know I mentioned this is a kids book, but I also feel the need to mention that the queen was SCARY.  Lewis did a great job with her, I had no compassion for her whatsoever because – wowzah- that woman was out of control.  This isn’t in the pro or con column for the book- but I wanted to mention that if you’re thinking about reading this book to your kids.

what i didn't like
Diggory was so completely annoying in this story.  He is one of our main characters and oh boy, I found him so frustrating.  The uncle in the story was also way too much for me, but it made you really dislike him and he wasn’t supposed to be likable so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
There are a lot of statements about women being lesser than men throughout this book.  Insults to girls overall.  Now, this book was dedicated to a girl, and I feel that Lewis overall does have the girls stand above the boys as far as plot goes.  So if you’re studying the book, you would probably notice that and let it go. However, since this is a book for children, I’m not sure if they would easily separate the girl insults from the overall character arch.

while reading you should
Do: go on a walk in the countryside.
Listen: Zero by Hans Zimmer
Drink: tea. (this is an English book, afterall)

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

official blurb
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

my blurb!
A fantasy dystopian Ocean’s Eleven crew, with a story that leaves you turning the pages non-stop instead of going to bed.

5 out of 5

*This book is a part of a world created called the Grishaverse.  Technically in the timeline of the Grishaverse, this book (which is part one of a duology) comes AFTER the Grisha Trilogy.  However, this is a stand alone duology and can be read out of order. I did read these books BEFORE picking up the Grisha Trilogy and I don’t regret that decision.*

what i liked
I liked so much about this book.  First of all the characters were SO well written!  The story is told by each of the six crows different perspectives.  Although now that I think of it, I’m not sure if there actually was a chapter from Wylan’s perspective.  As the chapters unfold there are also time jumps that occur.  I mean, the characters aren’t time traveling, but you learn about them in the past and then you come back to the present day heist.
All of the characters were fighting to survive in the world- filled with darkness and thievery and rich merchants and traveling acrobats.  I mean… what a world to live in!  This book was a little dark, just in the realistic world building that Bardugo writes, and the revelations of what the characters had to do to survive with the hands they were dealt.
Seriously, the world building. Wow. so good.  Big shout out to my favorite characters Kaz and Inej.   I was doing a buddy read for this book and we decided to do our own Hollywood casting.  The actors we chose are FAR too old to be playing these teens in the book, but when has that ever stopped Hollywood before?!  In the fictional movie that my friend and I created, Kaz would be played by Taron Egerton and Inej would be played by Alicia Vikander.  You’re welcome for that fictional casting.  (If you’ve read the book, who do you think should be cast in the 6 of Crows roles?)
***since reading this book it was JUST announced that this series will be combined with the Grisha Trilogy books in a new Netflix show!***
This book was a page turner, it had a great plot, amazing characters, and a realistic world created.  What else do you need for a 5 star book?!  So good!
I want to mention again that while this is YA- it is dark- so reader beware. Also, don’t let the whole YA tag dissuade you from reading this book! Read what you love and love what you read!

what i didn't like
Towards the end-ish of the book, Bardugo literally tells you some things about Kaz’s character that I already knew as a reader.  I couldn’t tell if she wanted to make sure the reader understood what she was alluding to in previous chapters, or if she had forgotten she’d already mentioned that whole plot line previously in the book.  I’m not sure.  It wasn’t enough of an annoyance to not make this book Required Reading: Fantasy- because readers who love that genre will love this book – but it needed to be mentioned.

while reading you should
Play: Poker
Watch: Ocean’s Eleven or the Italian Job
Eat: Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes… and waffles. Not together. But hey, you do you.
Listen to: Everybody Knows by Sigrid

if you would like to buy
Click here: Six of Crows

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

official blurb
They killed my mother.  They took our magic.  They tried to bury us. Now we rise. Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

my blurb!
A YA fantasy novel about teens attempting to save their world.

2.75 out of 5

Full disclosure: There was an extra .25 star for the end notes written by the author.

what i didn't like
The predictability! I just got the vibe that this book was supposed to be constantly surprising me with plot points. But somehow I was never surprised.
The writing –  This book was written for a young audience. But I read a LOT of books written for a younger audience. It was just too spelled out. How are the characters feeling? I know exactly how they’re feeling because you literally just told me.
The characters constantly making annoying choices. I won’t go into specifics to avoid any spoilers but I was basically annoyed the whole book.
Inan reminded me a lot of Cal from the Red Queen series but without the likeability of Cal. (Team Cal!) Inan mostly annoyed me 100% of the time.  BUT his character was needed in the plot so he’s meh.

what i liked
A lot of plot elements (but not twists) were featured in this book, and that made it a little more fun to read.
The setup of the world was believable and realistic for it being a fantasy novel.
Shout out to Mama Agba. Her character was strong, resilient and great!
Shout out to Tzain for putting up with his annoying sister. (So annoying!)
Shout out to Amari for being anything but what she was born to be.

Overall, I had to force myself to read this book which is over 500 pages and is not a stand alone novel.  I don’t know if I’ll read the next one but feel free to wait until the whole series is out before you pick it up.

It should be noted that this author is black. She advocates for black rights and we need more authors like her. We need to be reading more diverse books (myself included!).  In her authors note she explains that she wrote this book to allow people to process and have more empathy for the police brutality issues plaguing brown America.  For that reason, I would recommend this book if you’re thinking of picking it up.

while reading you should
Take: a self defense class
Eat: a fresh loaf of bread
Watch: The Harry Potter series (feel free to skip around and watch one you know you love, ONLY if you’ve already watched them all before.)

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

official blurb
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.
Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

my blurb!
a bizarre and fantastical book about kids on a quest to save their family, and unknowingly the world.

3 out of 5

Okay, I’m gonna take some hits here but this book was not the amazing book that everyone said it was. It is a “children’s book”… that’s in quotes because the diction in this book was not easily read for children but for kids. I know that seems like I’m not making a distinction. I would say this isn’t a children’s book like… Ferdinand the bull. It is a kids book like… Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, or The Lion the Witch and the wardrobe.

BUT the biggest question on your mind is- will I see the movie? (I know, I’m practically a Jedi mind reader). I will see the movie- when my library gets it for free. (Which is NOT a knock because I love me some Reese Witherspoon, and also I surf the library app like its Instagram so I usually get the movie within a week or 2 of its initial release to DVD). This book just didn’t touch me so profoundly that I need to run to the theater to experience the glory in IMAX.

Did you guys ever skip a classic Disney movie growing up just to watch it when you’re an adult and when you watched it you were like- oh… that was good I guess? (cough cough, Cinderella cartoon). That’s what this was like for me. I think if I had the magic of it at a younger age and I was rereading it- the nostalgia value would rank it higher. But alas, this deprived child (why me, why?!) did not read a wrinkle in time (damn you California public education system!) Although to be fair if it was assigned I was way too cool to do my reading assignments (okay, sorry CA education system, I take it back).

what i liked
Fun scriptural references, good life lessons, dynamic family, kids on adventures.
I also liked that this was a quick read. I’m not interested in continuing the series but it was a good one time read for me.

what was meh-
There was a level of cheesiness at the end of this book, but no spoilers here. (However if you’d like to comment on the cheese yourself in the comment section I’d love to talk about it!)

what i didn't like
I felt like I almost missed a chapter in the beginning when the character of Calvin is introduced and he is constantly insulting but also somehow has instalove.

It should be noted that this is a series but could be read in a stand alone setting. every book in the series is out

If you would like to purchase this book, please click here.

while reading you should
listen to: the pride and prejudice soundtrack
watch on your dad player: the stepford wives
eat: movie theater popcorn

when to read
this is a spring or summer read. good weather required.

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Blood Oath (The Darkest Drae) by Rayne Wagner and Kelly St. Claire

Everything I know is a lie. I’m an ordinary mortal girl. Lord Irrik is a depraved dragon-shifter. King Irdelron is an immortal tyrant. In the disease-ridden land of Verald, life is mapped out much like the well-established rings of our kingdom. Everyone has a role… Me? I’ll be uselessly serving potato stew for the rest of my life because I can’t make anything grow. But starvation brews rebellion. When the king strikes back, I’m captured by Lord Irrik. Instantly, I’m embroiled in a deadly game. One where I’m desperate to understand the rules. Because nothing makes sense anymore. Now, I’m not only fighting for my life… but a love that could be the key to my freedom. What if the truth means you’re not who–or what–you thought you were?

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately that are great Guilty Pleasures, but not, like, literary masterpieces. Blood Oath is one of those books.

Listen, I have a confession to make. My name is Hawk and I have an addiction to Kindle Unlimited. Every time I try to end my subscription, I’m sucked in by another book I would never spend money on, but somehow justify spending $9.99/month to access on Amazon…

That makes sense, right?

Let’s talk about our heroine, Ryn. She is infuriatingly dumb. Especially once you realize everything her mother did to keep her safe. Spoiler alert, Ryn blows it in like the first few chapters. I mean, I like Ryn. She can be funny. But she also causes a lot of problems simply because she’s being stubborn or obtuse. She’s also super special, so I guess she can get away with some of it.

Now, let’s talk about our hero! Lord Irrik has done awful things in the name of the king. But we learn there is a reason why he has done them. And we learn that he has done everything in his power to mitigate the damage that could be caused by his actions. I totally fell in love with him right away! You could tell there was more to him than we saw on the surface. I really felt for what he had been through, and what he put himself and others through in an attempt to do the right thing.

There are some dark aspects to this book. Ryn and Irrik don’t live in a happy world. And realm change doesn’t come without a cost. There are a lot of dramatic emotions that make me want to roll my eyes, but I still read the book, AND read the sequel, AND marked the release date of the third book… Guilty pleasure. You feel me?

SUMMARY

Read it for fun. There’s an element of fated romance in here, too, which y’all know I’m a sucker for at this point. And since it’s been raining LITERALLY EVERY WEEKEND, it’s definitely a good rainy day read! I don’t even know how to read sunny day books anymore.  What even is sun?

 

 

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

SUMMARY

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives Elias and Laia as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire. Laia is determined to break into Kauf–the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison–to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholar’s survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom. But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kaur, and–most heartbreaking of all–Helene, Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike. Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a tortuous mission of her own–one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read An Ember in the Ashes, the review of its sequel may spoil some of its story.

FAVORITE SENTENCE

Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.

MY THOUGHTS

Ok, I normally don’t love stories told from multiple points of view. But, as with the first book in this series–An Ember in the Ashes–it works. We get two from the old crowd, Laia and Elias, but we also get to hear from Helene Aquilla in this book. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel about Helene in the first book, but I totally fell in love with her in this book. I loved hearing her story even more than Laia and Elias’s.

I did roll my eyes at the blossoming love between Laia and the jinn. I rolled my eyes quite a bit at that plot twist…

But other than that, I loved this book. I have a lot of exciting hopes for Helene and her new ally. I am curious to see how Laia and Elias stay connected. And there are TWO more books to read after this one!! TWO!!!

SUMMARY

If you liked An Ember in the Ashes, keep reading the series. I think it’s only going to get better!