Ramblings and Ruminations

BEST READS OF 2019 – 1ST QUARTER

Obviously, this should have posted this at the end of March, but . . . you know.

 

 

Apparently, people enjoy reading my book reviews, even though I don’t think they’re very good at all?

 

 

But it seems to be a general consensus (I’ll consider three or five of you a consensus) for me to continue my mini book review posts – so that’s what I’m doing!

 

Onto the book reviews!

 

Find It On Goodreads

 

I love a good contemporary story, but very few hit the nail on the head for me.  This book did.  An evocative story about family and a cute main character who’s struggle to be reconciled with her father (a wounded veteran) creates a real and sympathetic arc, instead of the fake drama that drives most contemporary novels.

The aesthetic is strong with this one, creating a truly sensory experience on every page.

The polished floor of a dance studio / musty old book stores / soft and gentle Labradors / bird-watching / owls gliding past a moon / slush melting on old carpet / snowball fights / mysterious messages / daring investigations / military talk/ the shrill of a coach’s whistle at a swim meet / fathers and daughters / icy bridges / frozen waterfalls / the magic transformations of home improvements / the snap and pop of grease on a hamburger grill /  the hum of a radiator / socked feet sliding over creaky wooden floors / cracked and worn letters / broken families mended together

Blend all these intense and evocative images with sweet characters and with a heartwarming plot and we are heading to a very satisfactory ending.

 

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Unlikely some of Tolkien’s more depressing offerings to the world of literature, Roverandom is a whimsical little adventure bursting at the seams with old-fashioned romps.  The world building is wild and unfettered and reminds one of a slightly manic but happy chef throwing in “a bit of this and a bit of that” into a pot to make an irresistible concoction.  The world building is the true highlight here, along with the heartwarming backstory as to why Tolkien wrote this story, for his enthusiasm in entertaining (and comforting) his children is definitely present in these pages.  Amusing, clever, and droll, this is a truly imaginative fantasy novella that I highly recommend.

 

Find It On Goodreads

 

This little fantasy adventure draws on what are now often-used fantasy tropes, but there is a freshness and innocence to this story that makes them all new.  From purple, orange, and blue colored snow to the darling little mountain gargoyles who help and comfort our heroine, the world building was engaging and had some elements that felt delightfully fresh.

Written in the old, melodic style that I’ll always love, this short novel drops our truly plucky heroine into one exciting hazard after another.  Despite her obstacles, our heroine exhibits a determination and courage that is rarely see in more modern stories.

The ending / resolution did feel a little rushed and unsatisfactory to me and there were a few scenes that were very creepy, but that was the only thing that made me reduce a star from my rating.  All in all, a sweet original fairy tale that I highly recommend.

Find It On Goodreads

 

While not overtly Christian, there are wonderful themes that can be found in The Princess and the Goblin—like the nuggets of gold the goblins may find in the mountains.  Themes of trust, obedience, and courage are on fine display within these pages.  Curdie’s knowledge about how to defeat the goblins with songs (or stomping on their highly sensitive feet) and, most importantly, to not show them any fear is one of the best allegories I’ve ever seen for how we ought to face demonic forces.

Which leads me to the best part.  Curdie himself.  There are very few fearless heroes to be found in literature, but Curdie is one of them. I am sick and tired of heroes who are scared of their own shadow.  The trust that his parents (another plus in this novel, fantasy parents that are alive and love their children!) place in Curdie demonstrate the old-fashioned and, regrettably, bygone attitude that a boy of Curdie’s age was expected to be as responsible and courageous as an adult – and Curdie, while fully remaining a little boy who misunderstands and makes mistakes, does not disappoint in this expectation.

A beautifully written classic with a dreamy tone, I truly enjoyed this delightful fantasy novel which, I believe, was twice as good in an audio format.  Highly recommended!

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Since I was very young, I have been enamored with miniatures. Bugs Life, Tinkerbell, dollhouses – anything tiny has always tickled my fancy and the idea of something like, say, a leaf being used as a hammock is altogether magical to me. This method of shrinking our known world makes the most ordinary surroundings and implements truly magical.

And while the characters and dialogue are so British to the point of being (occasionally) stilted with the dialogue can even be a tad incomprehensible at times, the adventures this little family goes through are something that anyone can appreciate and their yearning for a home is a classic theme that is completely relatable.  A delicately written and imaginative little adventure that is not to be missed.

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Unlike The Magician’s Nephew (a blend of fresh and old, ancient and new) this story delves into the nitty-gritty of the path that lies before every human.

Sooner or later, we all step through a door that forces us to make our choice.  Are we with the Witch, or are we with Aslan?

This book more than any of the other Narnia books (except, perhaps, for The Last Battle) contains the clearest and most linear allegory paralleling the Bible and human history, as it shows a supposed follower turning traitor on the true king and then that king’s resurrection and redemption for all those that love him as he sends the Enemy into eternal death.

My eyes grow moist as I read Aslan’s sacrifice and my heart leaps with gladness when I read about his resurrection.  The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe is a bit of melody to a song I never grow tired of hearing, and it’s only sweeter every time I listen to it.

Find It On Goodreads

 

I usually NEVER like the sequel of a book, it’s almost a physical impossibility for me.  It’s quite bothersome and, at times, downright upsetting.

 

 

I’m going to do a slightly different format for this review and list all the “sequelitis” problems (or story problems) I usually have with this kind of scenario and how this book rose above those pitfalls.

1.  The usual solution for a character caught between two worlds is to have them ultimately choose which world they belong in (Pocahontas, Balto, Tarzan . . . I could go on) but Palace of Stone showed a more realistic solution in the fact that Miri and Pedar, as artists and scholars, couldn’t resolve themselves to just one way of life but realized that a balance and a blend was a viable possibility.

 

 

2.  The love triangle.  We’ve seen this one before, the girl moves into the city and meets a new guy and experiences doubts about her hometown boy because he’s distracted and suddenly doesn’t seem interested in her, blah, blah, blah.  This is really the only book I can think of that executed this cliche well.  Palace of Stone really captured Miri’s mental and emotional implosion as she steps into such a foreign world, and we experienced her doubts right along with her.

Usually, I’m so annoyed with hometown boy, that I end up cheering on the new guy, but Palace of Stone but in enough obvious flaws in Timon and made it pretty clear from the start that he and Miri wouldn’t be compatible, keeping our loyalty in Pedar’s court.

I could go on, but suffice it to say, this is one of the best sequels I’ve read in a long time.

 

Find It On Goodreads

 

A hilarious original fairy tale where every line is packed with humor that is alternately sly, tongue-in-check play-ons, or bold-faced winks at the audience with a humor so broad, you have to groan a little even while you snicker.

This zany adventure had me laughing out loud every few pages (a rare thing for me) and is ridiculously self-aware.  It’s very much in the vein of The Hero’s Guide To Storming Your Castle, but with its own unique spin, The Unicorn’s Tale is sure to amuse.  If you’re looking for an unabashed fantasy novel that romps and mocks its way through every trope under the sun with a silliness that would put The Princess Bride to shame, this is the story for you.  I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend this clever little read.

Find It On Goodreads

 

Imagine a contemporary Christmas Carol with a less creepy story line and you might have an approximation of this story.  After inhaling Mollie Reeder’s The Electrical Menagerie, I was eager to try anything else by this authoress, but wasn’t sure what to expect from this altogether different premise.  Never fear, the Reeder touch is still present.

The novella moves along at a strong clip, sweeping us up into the main character’s confused plunge through a succession of dreams – or are they dreams? – and culminating in a very satisfying and truly sweet ending.  A perfectly paced story full of heart but without the saccharine jingle-jangle that inhabits most Christmas stories with a narrator who remains sympathetic without wavering, even if he isn’t the most likable guy.

If you’re looking for a holiday story but aren’t an overly sentimental person  – *raises hand* – this is just the ticket.  And if you are a full-blown, holly-jolly Christmas Elf this will STILL satisfy you.  There’s simply nothing to dislike here.

And there you have it, my friend!  My favorite reads of 2019’s 1st quarter!  Not a great deal, considering that’s three months worth of reading, but I guard my four and five stars as fiercely as Bilbo protecting a wounded Thorin.

 

 

*pauses a moment* *overwhelmed by the emotion of that scene*

 

Ahem.  Anyway.  Do you want me to keep doing these book review posts or are you tired of them?

 

Have you read any of these books, my fellow book lovers?  If not, are you going to?  Please notice that I added very convenient links for you to add these titles to your already top-heavy TBR pile!  MUAHAHA!!!  *sails out of the room in triumph*

 

What were some of your favorite reads of 2019 thus far?  Let’s chat!

 

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10 thoughts on “BEST READS OF 2019 – 1ST QUARTER

  1. I grew up on The Borrowers series, pretty sure I had crush on Spiller (not at all weird?!).

    I’ve read the Princess and the Goblin/Curdies stories, not exactly my cup of tea. But I also might I been a bit scarred from skimming Lilith and Phantastes (which I’ve yet to actually read).

    I shall have to try that Tolkien novel. Right now, I’m reading his biography with tons of other books about him, his letters, his world, to read as well (spurred by the apparently not great movie).

    1. Aww, what a treat to grow up on The Borrowers!! Hmm – Spiller? Well, I applaud your unique choice! 😀

      Ahh! *nods* I’ve never tried that one, actually.

      Neat! HAHA. Well I don’t think it was a great movie, but a lot of other people do. *squints*

  2. I LOVE these posts and 100% want you to keep writing them! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. These are always fabulous!

    I read the The Princess and the Goblin yeeears ago and thought it was so adorable. It is WAY past due for a reread. I’ve forgotten so much.

    And tiny things are GREAT. Yes! I’ve never actually read a Borrowers book, but I’ve wanted to for ages.

    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is of course EVERYTHING.

    Okay, apparently I need to read the next Princess Academy book. o.o I read the first one and enjoyed it buuut I wasn’t SO enamored that I was clamoring for the sequel. But apparently I need to reconsider this??? I am so with you on those sequel problems. It’s good to know this one doesn’t suffer from those painful cliches!

    The Unicorn’s Tale sounds like a delight! I’ll have to remember that one.

    AND THE SIXTH CHRISTMAS. That was such a precious little story! Mollie E. Reeder writes pure magic. I just love her stories so much. <333

    1. JUST THE COMMENT AND THE GIRL I NEEDED TONIGHT TO BRING A SMILE TO MY FACE!

      AWWW, CHRISTINE! *squishes* You are the SWEETEST!!

      I had peaked at The Princess and the Goblin YEARS ago and was puzzled and set it aside – LOL, so, technically, this was my first time reading it. YES, YES – A REREAD!

      It’s absolutely no surprise to me that you love tiny things!! I think you would really enjoy the aesthetic of The Borrowers!!

      *SIGHS* Narnia. Is. EVERYTHING. yes.

      Haha! I was pretty enamored with the first book (and lots of nostalgia), so that made me interested in reading the others, but, on the other hand, also extremely suspicious because I didn’t think it would live up to the first one. UGH, I know. Those sequel cliches are quite maddening, but this was a refreshing change!

      OOO – if you love The Princess Bride or anything in that nature, The Unicorn’s Tale will tickle your fancy!!

      I KNOW – MOLLIE REEDER IS MAGIC!! She is so talented!! *nods and high fives*

  3. I’m so happy to see Roverandom and The Unicorn’s Tale on this list! I loved your mini reviews of those and all the others! I really enjoy seeing everything you choose for your lists.

    Also, I hereby proclaim that everyone who loves hilarious fantasy should read The Unicorn’s Tale! You should post your mini review on Goodreads, Allison!

    1. Yes!!! Be proud!! Two Mary recommendations!! 😀 Aw, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed them!

      I so agree about it appealing to lovers of hilarious fantasy! Yep, I was planning to! 👍

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