I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was in 5th or 6th grade, but for some reason, never chose to finish the series. With The Chronicles...moreI read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was in 5th or 6th grade, but for some reason, never chose to finish the series. With The Chronicles of Narnia finally being made into movies, I decided it was time to rectify that situation, since I have always had a preference for reading the book before seeing the movie. Though I didn't find it to be quite as compelling a story as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian was still a very good follow-up. It was a little like visiting with old friends. I enjoyed learning a bit more about the history of Narnia, and seeing how it had changed since the Pevensie children had ruled the land. It was also very nice to see them reconnect with Aslan and once again wrest Narnia from the control of evildoers, though I have to say that the "bad guys" in this story just simply weren't as convincing as the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I must admit though that I really loved the scenes where the girls, along with many of the creatures and inhabitants of Narnia have a feast, as well as the celebration everyone took part in following their victory. All the joy and happiness in those parts of the narrative just really drew me into the story. Although I was left with some questions that I hope will be answered in the remaining books in the series, I definitely thought Prince Caspian was a fun and enjoyable read.(less)
Reviewed for THC Reviews Throughout my childhood, I read the Little House on the Prairie books several times, and they became some of my all-time favor...moreReviewed for THC Reviews Throughout my childhood, I read the Little House on the Prairie books several times, and they became some of my all-time favorites. I probably hadn't picked one up since my early teens though, and finally rediscovered the series when I decided to share it with my children. I made the pleasant discovery that I still enjoy it every bit as much as an adult, as I did when I was a kid. I've always had a love for history, and the vivid descriptions of pioneer life just draw me into the story. Life in that era was not easy and required a great deal of hard work, but there were also many rewards in return. I simply can't help but love the entire Ingalls family. They are so close-knit and loving, the ideal family that almost any child (or adult) would love to have as their own. Laura is a lively and curious child who is very relatable, and who obviously adores her father very much. I loved reading all the little stories that Laura's pa told her and the songs that he sang for her. In my opinion, they add a lot of warmth and authenticity to the story. The illustrations by Garth Williams are absolutely charming, helping to bring the narrative to life even more. Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in the Little House series, and I greatly look forward to continuing my exploration of the series through adult eyes while sharing them with my children. For a complete list of books in the Little House series plus fun activities and information for both kids and adults visit the Little House Books website.(less)
Reviewed for THC Reviews Until picking up The Black Moth, I had never read a “classical” romance, and I have to say that it was a rather different sort...moreReviewed for THC Reviews Until picking up The Black Moth, I had never read a “classical” romance, and I have to say that it was a rather different sort of reading experience that was more challenging than the typical modern romance. It is written in what I would call a literary style with vernacular that is more authentic to the time period in which it is set. It was a little difficult to keep track of all the characters, because there were so many and each one went by several different names (first, last, nickname, alias, title). It was all somewhat confusing, but I think I managed to keep up fairly well. Also, the romance itself is very low-key with nothing beyond a few chaste kisses and embraces occurring. The palette of characters in The Black Moth was more of an ensemble cast with the supposed main hero and heroine only present in approximately fifty percent of the scenes and few of those were in each other's company. All of this made the book feel a bit more like historical fiction than historical romance to me, although I have to admit that the climax was pretty romantic with the hero swooping in to save the heroine from the dastardly villain so they can live happily-ever-after.:-)
Jack was a very noble hero, the heir to an earldom, who sacrificed himself for his brother in the name of love. Ever since he took the blame for cheating at a game of cards, he has been living in virtual exile, and has taken up the profession of highwayman, albeit in the style of Robin Hood. He always gives what he takes to the poor, and he refuses to rob ladies or the elderly. On the rare occasions that he makes that mistake, he apologizes profusely which was rather amusing. When he's not playing the roguish thief, he is a dandy who always tries to be at the height of fashion. Jack is the classic dashing, debonair hero, full of charm and lighthearted spirit in spite of his lot in life. When he saves the lovely Diana, they fall madly in love, although the development of their relationship is pretty much left to the imagination.
Diana was a sweet girl who had unfortunately caught the unwanted attentions of the Duke of Andover, a notorious libertine. When the villainous Duke kidnaps Diana in an attempt to force her to wed him, she is rescued by Jack. She falls for her savior while he is recovering from his wounds at her home, and is terribly distraught when he is unable to return her affections and leaves. Diana was in even less scenes than Jack, so I didn't really feel like I got to know her well, but I will say that I admired her spunk and determination, as well as her ability to verbally spar with the Duke when he attempted to take her a second time.
As I mentioned earlier, The Black Moth boasts a very large cast of characters, some of whom are equally as important as Jack and Diana. Jack's brother, Richard and his wife, Lavinia would be at the top of that list, experiencing their own romantic ups and downs. Richard had allowed Jack to take the blame for his actions, because he loved Lavinia so much he couldn't bear the thought of loosing her if the truth came out. He has lived with the guilt ever since, which has taken it's toll on him. At first his actions seemed selfish, leaving me unsure as to whether I liked him or not. He also had a tendency to be a doormat for his wife which wasn't particularly endearing either, but I was pleased to see him grow and change throughout the story. Lavinia was a difficult character to like, because she always seemed so spoiled and shrewish. In fact, she and all of her brothers were pretty much portrayed as hedonists with little or no self-control. Although I don't think I'll ever truly understand why all the men in her life were so taken with her, I did at least gain a small measure of respect for her by the end when she finally realized what a good life and husband she had. The other top-tier character would be Lavinia's brother, Tracy, the Duke of Andover, who became obsessed with Diana. In my opinion, he was a dangerous miscreant to have kidnapped and tried to force an innocent young woman who obviously didn't want him into marriage. I'm usually used to seeing the villain get a more sound comeuppance than Tracy did, so the way things ended with him were somewhat unsatisfying. However, I suppose that in a historical sense, sending a duke to jail is not something that would typically have happened. I also think the author was trying to show that he had perhaps learned from the experience and turned over a new leaf, although I'm not so sure I believe that. Although The Black Moth is not officially considered part of a series, it is my understanding that the Duke does return in These Old Shades.
The Black Moth was definitely a change of pace from my usual romance reading. Although the story contains large swaths of dialog, punctuated by shorter passages of prose, I felt that Ms. Heyer gave the reader a good feel of what it was like to live in the Georgian era by imparting many little details of fashion and society. In fact, I learned a few new and surprising things. I might point out here as well, that a number of individuals and a few websites have this book mislabeled as Regency romance, and although the exact year is never given in the text, the historical details clearly place it in the Georgian time frame. I felt that the pacing of the book was rather up and down with some parts moving pretty slowly, leaving my mind wandering, and others being engaging and fast-paced. It took me a while to get used to how different this book was than the romances I typically read, but it ended up being an agreeable experience. Based on the ratings I've seen on various book-related sites, I'd say that The Black Moth doesn't appear to be a fan favorite, but it was good enough to make me want to pick up another Georgette Heyer book in the future. If one takes into account that Ms. Heyer wrote the book when she was only seventeen to entertain her sick brother, I'd say she did quite well for one so young.(less)
Reviewed for THC Reviews I usually prefer to enjoy my reading material rather than having to parse it's deeper meaning, so I can sometimes be rather re...moreReviewed for THC Reviews I usually prefer to enjoy my reading material rather than having to parse it's deeper meaning, so I can sometimes be rather reluctant to read books that are critically acclaimed and/or considered classics, since they are often difficult to understand. I'd heard so many wonderful things about To Kill a Mockingbird that I finally decided to take a chance on it when it was chosen as a book club read for the GoodReads Readers Against Prejudice and Racism group of which I am a part. I was very pleasantly surprised at what an easy read it was, while at the same time conveying a deep and layered message, not only about prejudice but also about standing up for what's right, that I know will stay with me, probably for the rest of my life. Another astonishing thing about the book to me was the number of lighthearted if not downright funny moments it contained. This is something I never would have expected from a book that tackled such a serious and controversial issue for its time. In my opinion, Harper Lee is an amazing writer, and I was absolutely stunned to discover that To Kill a Mockingbird was the only novel she ever wrote. However, I suppose there's nowhere else to go once you've won the highest honor in the writing world, a Pulitzer Prize, and she certainly made her one shot count in a huge way.
Young Scout Finch is the first-person narrator of the story. She is only about six or seven when it opens, but more than two years pass by as Ms. Lee builds up to the penultimate events of the book, by which time Scout is nine years old. She is a tomboy who's as smart as a whip and a precocious reader. When her first grade teacher told her she had to stop reading because her daddy was teaching her all wrong and first-graders weren't supposed to read, I had to laugh. It was ludicrously funny but also a sad commentary on our educational system. I just loved Scout's enthusiasm for reading. She joked that her brother, Jem, said she was born reading and she couldn't remember a time when she couldn't read. In this way, Scout very much reminded me of myself. I thought it was fascinating how Scout, in her child's mind, thinks of her father as old, decrepit, and thoroughly boring. She doesn't think he has any real skills or has accomplished anything. It was an absolute joy to watch Scout's opinion of Atticus gradually grow and change as she matures and begins to see him in an entirely new light through, not only the big trial, but all the little things he does.
I loved Scout's relationship with her brother. She and Jem fight like siblings often do, but at the same time they were very close. I like how Jem is a little gentleman, always looking out for Scout. It was wonderful how closely he actually watches their father, and subtly emulates him. When their summertime friend and neighbor, Dill, gets in on the action, these three can get into lots of amusing mischief. Seeing the world through these kids eyes was a positively delightful experience. Dill is quite good at creating wild yarns. I just knew he was destined to be a writer someday;-) (for anyone who doesn't know Dill is patterned on Harper Lee's childhood friend and neighbor, Truman Capote). The lessons that the kids learn are deeply touching. Whether it's how they go from being scared of their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley to beginning to understand why he stays away from people; or learning from Mrs. Dubose, the cranky old lady who likes to hurl insults at them, that things aren't always as they seem; or the tough lessons they learned about injustice through Tom Robinson's trial, they are on a constant journey of discovery, both of the world around them and themselves that often brought tears to my eyes.
If I were Scout, I'd think that I had the best dad in the world, but since I'm much, much closer to Atticus's age than Scout's, I'd have to say that he has become my latest literary crush. He is just quite simply an amazing man. Some people think that he's a questionable father who lets his kids run wild, because he doesn't spank them and they have a tendency to speak their mind. To the contrary, I believe he was a man who led by quiet example, and showed his kids how to be good citizens by teaching them to think critically for themselves. I love how Atticus just naturally speaks with “bigger” words and doesn't dumb it down for his children, but instead allows them to ask for clarification if they don't understand something, always answering their questions with complete honesty. That's how I tend to be, and I think kids can learn more that way. Atticus is a very wise man who sees many facets to the world around him. He is a kind, loving, gentle soul who always seems to see the good in people. He's a true gentleman, a brilliant attorney, an honorable and humble man who fights for what's right no matter what. If more men were like Atticus Finch, the world, without a doubt, would be a much better place.
To Kill a Mockingbird is another of those books which sadly, over fifty years after its release, is still found at the top of the ALA's most banned/challenged books list. It does contain some profanities, mostly mild, but a couple of more moderate ones including taking the Lord's name in vain twice. There is also a number of instances where the derogatory “n” word is used for African Americans, but given the time and setting of the book, it never seemed overdone or out of place to me. There is also the mature subject matter of a black man being wrongly accused of raping a white girl, but since it is all told through the eyes of a nine year-old child, everything has a certain air of innocence to it, with nothing ever really being spelled out explicitly. In spite of this potentially objectionable content, I still feel that the book is fully appropriate for high school level students. In my opinion, the positive role model that Atticus presents and the positive messages contained within the book's pages, far outweigh any possible detractors. I personally think it would be an absolute travesty to ban a book as thought-provoking as this one, and in fact, would encourage everyone, teens and up, to read it at least once.
I'm so glad I finally picked up To Kill a Mockingbird. The courtroom scenes were extremely well-written and appear to reflect Ms. Lee's personal experience with the law. Some parts of the story were a little slow at times, but never boring and always worth the wait for something more exciting to happen. Every character and every little side story added flavor, color and depth to this wonderful tale. The message it conveys is a timeless one. It is one of the most, if not the most, affecting book I've ever read centering around the themes of prejudice and racism. To Kill a Mockingbird has without a doubt earned a spot on my keeper shelf and has become a new all-time favorite book for me.(less)
Reviewed for THC Reviews I've been a fan of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe since I was a child, but for whatever reason, I never got around to r...moreReviewed for THC Reviews I've been a fan of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe since I was a child, but for whatever reason, I never got around to reading the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia. With the books now being made into major motion pictures, I've been taking the opportunity to rectify that situation, and I'm so glad to be discovering them. Each “new” book I read in the series takes me on another adventure of both mind and spirit. C. S. Lewis constantly amazes me with his ability to make me feel like I'm there in Narnia with the characters. His descriptions of the Dawn Treader, the sometimes perilous sea voyage, the places they see, and all the people they meet along the way are so well drawn that they kept me engrossed and anxious to continue reading. Somehow in a mere 216 pages, Mr. Lewis took me on a grand escapade that made me feel as though I'd sailed to the ends of the Earth myself, while also imparting some important spiritual truths that spoke to the depths of my soul. Aside from Aslan's sacrifice and his forgiveness of Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I haven't always been able to clearly identify the allegorical parallels to Christian beliefs that I know are found in The Chronicles of Narnia. The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” was a whole different story for me. I could see so many things in it that nurtured my spirit with its gentle, easy to understand message. It was a feel-good book which also left me pondering the deeper meaning in life.
The characters are such a joy to visit with. Edmund and Lucy are back, and make their travels to Narnia with a new player, their cousin, Eustace. Edmund has grown a great deal since his close call with the White Witch. I've always loved Lucy. She is brave, while also being a kind, caring and sweet girl to everyone, but as this book proved, even she can be tempted by power. Eustace begins the story as quite the spoiled brat, making me hope for a quick comeuppance. Some amazing things do happen to Eustace which lead to a loving transformation courtesy of Aslan, after which he's not perfect, but much nicer. On the Narnian side of things, Caspian and Reepicheep also return. Caspian is now King and going in search of the seven lost lords of Narnia who were friends and supporters of his father. The brave little mouse, Reepicheep, his loyal and fearless companion is very wise and ready to conquer any challenge that crosses his path. All of these combine with lots of new characters who are met along the way to create a thoroughly entertaining cast.
The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” is a book that presents something new and exciting in nearly every chapter. There is a little something here for everyone: adventure, mystery, magic, and discoveries galore to be made. I'm a “purist” who has been reading the books in their original order, which makes The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” the third book of the series, and I'm a little sad that it seems many of my favorite characters may not be back for the remaining stories. However, that doesn't deter me from greatly looking forward to continuing The Chronicles of Narnia soon.(less)