The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia #7) by C.S. Lewis

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official blurb
A false Aslan is roaming Narnia, commanding everyone to work for the cruel Calormenes. Can Eustace and Jill find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land? The last battle is the greatest of all and the final struggle between good and evil

my blurb!
The final book in the Narnia series. Join the characters from all of the previous books as they face the greatest evil in Narnia yet.

4.5 out of 5

what i liked
Wow this book was CRAZY.  It was my favorite of the whole series.  But wow, this one was dark.  The plot in this one moved quickly.  While I still had a lot of the same issues in this book that I did with the others, I think by this point in the series, I have looked past those shortcomings a bit more for this book.  The plot in this one was a bit confusing but in the end when they explained it all- it’s a really fun “woah!” moment.  I also felt like this book moved along quickly compared to some of the previous ones (I’m looking at you The Horse and His Boy!).  One of my favorite parts about this whole book was the discussion I was able to have with my friends who participated in this series long buddy read with me.  There is a CRAZY (and I mean “WHAT?! CLIVE! WHAT DID YOU DO?! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WROTE THAT!) plot point that happens in this book.  I mean, theologically (if you’re reading these books as an allegory) it was great to discuss!  I know this is confusing if you haven’t read the book- but I don’t want to spoil anything for you.  If you’ve read it and you know what I’m talking about- comment and talk to me about this crazy ending!

what i didn't like
This book was DARK.  I am imagining that, similar to the Harry Potter series, you’re supposed to start reading these at a certain age and read them as you’re growing up. Because this last book is really dark if you think of it as specifically a kids book.   There is a strong palpable sense of hopelessness when you read it.  You actually  encounter a demon, or a (note the lowercase) god in this one- named Tash.  It is violent and has some graphic scenes.  These aren’t huge negatives for me- but I noted this under the negative column in case you were thinking about quickly reading through the whole series with young kids.
Honestly, the biggest negative in this book (because, really this one was quite good) is the way it’s written.  The older english just simply didn’t agree with me.

Can you believe I finally read and reviewed the entire Narnia series?! I’m glad to have finally done it because I feel like these are wildly treasured books, especially in the Christian circle.  They weren’t beloved for me and some books were completely hit or miss.  Overall, for my personal reading style, I would love to read an updated (abridged?) version of these because very regularly I would read a whole monologue and then Google the book+chapter to find a good breakdown of what that portion was trying to say.  I don’t think all readers will have this issue, but I will say that two out of the three people involved in the buddy read had this conclusion.

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Stop – and – Go Devotional by Diane Stortz

stop and go devotional

official blurb
Stop-and-Go Devotional provides short, active devotions based on Bible stories, designed for busy families with preschoolers and primary-grade children. Written by bestselling author Diane Stortz, this to-the-point, interactive devotional gives bite-size teachings on how to follow God.  Each short devotion consists of an action-filled Bible story (Stop and Read), an age-appropriate devotional thought with questions and a brief prayer (Think and Talk), and an easy and fun follow-up activity, a thought to remember, and a supporting Bible verse (Green Means Go!). This book provides a way to have intentional quality time with your kids; it’s fun, educational, and meaningful for your family’s faith journey together.

my blurb!
A devotional for families to do together geared towards kids.  Featuring a breakdown of a bible story, some questions, and an activity.

4 out of 5

what i didn't like
The only thing I didn’t like about this book, is that it does take longer to complete the devotionals than my previous devo I was doing with my kids.  It also is a bit too old for my 2 and 4 year olds to do, the “Think and Talk” section specifically.

what i liked
I know, I literally just mentioned that this book was a bit longer than I was expecting for devos.  Sometimes it felt too long for what we were used to. But that is also something that I liked.
I LOVE LOVE LOVED the “Green Means Go” sections.  This was the part that has little activities to do with your kiddos to weave in what you just learned in the story.  We had a lot of fun doing this together as a family.
The illustrations at the start of each devo were super cute and need to be mentioned because I really liked them! It’s cool to see biblical characters drawn with brown skin, so points for that in my book!

Overall, while my kids are a bit too young for this book, we will keep adapting it to our needs with the questions sections and continue reading it together!

arc review

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (The Chronicles of Narnia #5) by C.S. Lewis

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official blurb
Lucy and Edmund, with their dreadful cousin Eustace, get magically pulled into a painting of a ship at sea. That ship is the Dawn Treader, and on board is Caspian, King of Narnia. He and his companions, including Reepicheep, the valiant warrior mouse, are searching for seven lost lords of Narnia, and their voyage will take them to the edge of the world. Their adventures include being captured by slave traders, a much-too-close encounter with a dragon, and visits to many enchanted islands, including the place where dreams come true.

my blurb!
Some of our favorite characters are taken back to the magical land of Narnia.

3.75 our of 5

what i liked
This book was all over the map!  Okay, if you’ve read this book I just made a joke there, If you haven’t… trust me, it was funny.  The characters in this adventure are traveling all over the realm that contains Aslan’s homeland as well as Narnia (and many other places!)
As I was reading about Caspien interacting with Lucy I found myself totally shipping them.  Have I been reading too many romance novels?  Maybe.
The big highlight of this book is Clive’s (C.S. Lewis) ability to keep redeeming characters in his adventures! I don’t know how he does it, but he just keeps on doing it!
This was by far the most random book in the series.  There is no antagonist in this book.  It is super weird.  But also kind of fun to read.  Each chapter holds a different tale.

what i didn't like
Okay Eustace sucks.  I know, I know, I have beef with one character in every one of these books. But Clive can write some of the most annoying characters out there!  You read it and you just keep saying “Are you serious right now?!”  I mean, (kind of a spoiler but not really) Eustace eats a dragon.  If that doesn’t seem weird to you, trust me, it’s super weird when you read about it.
The sexism that is woven throughout these books is still going strong in this one.
At the end of this book they explain exactly WHY the four children came to Narnia to begin with.  I literally screamed at the book “THAT’S WHY?!”

There are some heavier elements in this book- including being sold into slavery.  This isn’t something I disliked- but wanted to mention because people do tend to market these as children’s books. Again, the sexism and slavery could easily go over a kids head and I am reading these books as a 30-year-old.  But these aspects did surprise me so I feel they need to be mentioned?  Did that sound like a posh English sentence or what?! I am totally channeling Clive right now.

while reading you should
Drink: Water.  You never know when you’ll be sucked into a long journey and need to be hydrated just in case! (A bookworm’s version of survivalist prepping is drinking water in case you’re summoned by Narnia)
Listen to: The Planet Earth Soundtrack
Watch: This movie!  Did you know they made two Narnia movies?  This was the second one that they made!

happy eating

The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia #6) by C.S. Lewis

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official blurb
Jill and Eustace must rescue the Prince from the evil Witch. NARNIA…where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans, where a prince is put under an evil spell…and where the adventure begins. Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor…or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face to face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rillian is to be saved.

my blurb!
Eustace and Jill go on some adventures in Narnia.

3.75 our of 5

what i didn't like
Okay – it’s possible that I just don’t jive with Clive’s character development, because the same old same old for this book. One character who I find unbelievably annoying (Jill).  Check. Sexism. Check. Eating a large animal that grosses me out. Check.  There is a LOT of evil encountered in this book. It was so noticeable to me, a big shift.  And the characters are pretty casual about it.  It was kind of weird to me. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Well, if you read it for the time period…”  I’ve heard that precisely 1000 times while reading this series. But hey, it’s okay that I didn’t love this series and you did!  I’m glad to have finally read them and that counts for something in my book!  Also, my book taste is better than yours.  Just kidding! (Kind of).

what i liked
My big takeaway from this book is the power of dreams.  I don’t want to give any spoilers at all – and I won’t! But I really did love this aspect of this one.  Overall chapter 11 was really good! I know- I’m singling out an entire chapter!  I made a note in my book journal about how much I liked this chapter!  What can I say? It stood out!   Another very random thing I liked about this book was the name of the character Puddlegum.  It brought me humor every time I read it.

Whew, can you believe I only have one other Narnia book to review?!  Let’s hop to it!  Plenty of books to read and review ahead of me and I am personally ready to be done talking about Narnia!  But prepare yourself because the seventh book was bonkers.

happy eating

Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia #4) by C.S. Lewis

prince caspian

4 out of 5

official blurb
The four Pevensies help Caspian battle Miraz and ascend his rightful throne. Narnia… the land between the lamp-post and the castle of Cair Paravel, where animals talk, where magical things happen… and where adventure begins. Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are returning to boarding school when they are summoned from the dreary train station (by Susan’s own magic horn) to return to the land of Narnia—the land where they had ruled as kings and queens and where their help is desperately needed.

my blurb!
The siblings are back in Narnia after being summoned mysteriously.

what i liked
I really liked this book! This is the kind of book I was expecting when I started this series!
MAJOR shout out to Edmond, who in my mind is now the VIP of this series.  I know, I know, I hated him in LWW but he has redeemed himself greatly in my eyes.  And let me tell you, that rarely happens for me. Once I dislike a character, I’m committed to the act.  So props to Clive for some good writing.
I really liked the addition of Caspian- I loved seeing the siblings in Narnia again.

what i didn't like
The end of this book. Hmmmm.  Part of it was just a plot point that I didn’t appreciate.  If you’ve read it, you know that I’m talking about.  Rude, Clive! Rude!
The other aspect was that there was this super confusing greek/roman god section that had me so lost.  Upon researching, I realize that to the kids of the era, this would have made sense.  To 30 yr old, college educated me, it made little to no sense.

Overall, this book made me happy to be reading this series at all!  Which was a good feeling because after finishing THAHB, I was ready to quit this series.  Onto book #5!

while reading you should
Do: Sit by the fire and stay warm
Eat: A nice heart stew.
Listen to: The Planet Earth Soundrack

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The Horse and His Boy (The Chronicles of Narnia #3) by C.S. Lewis

the horse and his boy

official blurb
The Horse and his Boy is a stirring and dramatic fantasy story that finds a young boy named Shasta on the run from his homeland with the talking horse, Bree. When the pair discover a deadly plot by the Calormen people to conquer the land of Narnia, the race is on to warn the inhabitants of the impending danger and to rescue them all from certain death.

my blurb!
A long story without very many pages, about some talking horses and the people who ride them.

2 out of 5

what i liked
This book would have been a one star read had it not been for Edmond. Edmond – who if you remember from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – was a world-class annoyance, came back to this book as the MVP.  He had amazing dialogue, great insight and seriously was as delightful as turkish delight! (I couldn’t help myself there. And no, I still have never had turkish delight so I can’t even say that with confidence).  I can say a lot of things about Clive (yes, C.S. Lewis and I are on a first name basis), and I can say with confidence that he writes a great epilogue.  And while they’re just a chapter number like any other, they are definitely epilogues.  I love a good epilogue- seriously, more people need to write them, we as readers want more!

what i didn't like
Wow, I almost didn’t finish this book. I almost looked up the summary and moved on.  The language in this one was hard for me to rally behind.  Not like there was a lot of cursing in this book, just the eloquent speech was hard for me to keep up with.  Let me mention again, that I am 30 years old, and this book was written for children. I know, I know, children of a different time – but children nonetheless! Chapter eight had come and gone and I was still not into this story.  There were a lot of character names that were rough – I really appreciate a good character name and didn’t find them in this book.  There was a character named Bree who was one of the main characters and he was super annoying.  Is it the rudest thing ever to say that C.S. Lewis wrote a lot of annoying characters?  Oops, I just said it!

while reading you should
Do: ride a horse (only to remember that it is an insanely uncomfortable way to get around)
Drink:  water (They’re on a long quest in this book so water is fitting. But also, do you ever really drink enough water?)
Listen: Come to Me by Bethel Music

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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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