Hello, all, and welcome to March! This is a super exciting month full of great things coming. Three books that I’ve been anticipating (so much so that I even preordered them!) are coming out, the coffee shop I’ve just begun working on is planning to open, my sister-in-law is coming from the windy shores of California for a long-overdue visit, and there’s a convention that a friend of mine and I are going to.
God is good.
This week, after a crazy Fantasy Month in February, I’m (finally) updating my latest stack of reads! It’s been a while. As you’ll see, though, I haven’t been reading an awful lot over the last couple of months. However, I am still plugging away at that read-through-that-stack-of-unread-books-you’ve-collected-over-the-years challenge, albeit with some minor detours.
Let’s take a look at this list, shall we?
The Angel’s Command ─ Brian Jacques enchanted me with his Redwall books, so when I saw this swashbuckling sea adventure I knew I had to read it. This is actually the second book in the series, but I didn’t feel lost at all, embarking on a brand new adventure with these characters. At first I thought it simple. The writing is gauged toward a younger audience, replete with exclamation points and ‘pal!’, and I kept thinking the characters were more like twelve rather than their actual fourteen and above. It was fun, but not magical. But then I kept reading, and it continued to grow deeper and deeper, like sinking. By the end I was almost in tears for Ben and Ned, who are forced to wander forever, never to have a place or people to belong to. The story came in two parts, one on the sea, one on land, and everything tied together wonderfully. There was humor and wit, danger, and terrible villains. I loved it, and am eager to know the rest of the tales from the castaways of the Flying Dutchman!
Falling Kingdoms ─ If you like twisted politics, magical prophecies, and teen romance, I dare say you will enjoy this book. I have to admit that I didn’t, but not because of the writing or plot or anything ─ both of which were rather good ─ I simply couldn’t get into it. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and the one I thought I could get behind disappointed me and then died in one fell swoop. There’s no clear ‘good side’, really, because like in the real world every side is broken and biased, which I suppose in some light might be refreshing. It didn’t excite me, nothing surprised me, and it doesn’t hold enough interest for me to keep reading into the series. Just not my cup of tea.
Watership Down ─ I listened to the audiobook of this, and it was great. Ralph Cosham, who narrated it, did a phenomenal job bringing to life this beautiful work by Richard Adams. It’s full of adventure, with all the danger, courage, and wit, alongside a classic English charm. It’s a story about trust and loyalty, about leaving the familiar in search of a safe place, somewhere to belong and call home. Don’t be fooled just because it’s the story of rabbits. It’s lovely.
The Akhenaten Adventure ─ This is a romp of a YA where two kids from the city discover that they’re not normal children at all, but djinn. I haven’t read a lot of djinn stories outside of the Arabian Nights, and it has an interesting concept. Being the first book in a series, there was a lot of dialogue exposition about djinn and how they and their power worked (based on physics), and I’ll admit that those were rather dull moments. The characters were fun, though, and I particularly enjoyed Nimrod for his eccentricity.
Birth of the Firebringer ─ I read this on recommendation from a fellow author when I asked in a blog post if anyone knew of any unicorn stories that weren’t fluff and sparkles. And indeed, this book is not at all either of those. Despite the fact that the cover looks like something I might have drawn when I was seven, the story is deep and magical, following the adventure of a young firebrand of a unicorn as he tries (and fails) to fit in, ultimately becoming so much more through his dreams, sense of justice, and bravery in the face of ancient enemies and powerful magics. One thing in particular that caught me was that it’s written in the perspective of these sentient unicorns, and so some things are not known as the same or in the same way that we know them as people, and the twist in perception was interesting. It was different, yet felt strangely classical, and I enjoyed it.
What it Is Like to Go to War ─ I originally wanted to read this book as research for my writing, so that I could better portray my characters in war and post-war situations. It was NOT an easy read. I teared up at the first paragraph, because while all the other war and battle related content I’ve read is fictional, this was true. This was real. This actually happened, and it’s sobering. Each chapter touches on a different topic, and Marlantes (the author) is completely honest about the thoughts and emotions a warrior experiences in the midst of combat and afterwards. As a veteran of the Vietnam war, he talks about how things were, how things should have been (in regards to preparing warriors, actions taken during the fighting, and how our vets were treated when they got home), and how things could change for the future. It’s a very deep book, and has really broadened my understanding of the ‘warrior’ and today’s society in general ─ but America’s particularly ─ when it comes to matters of war and violence and aggression. He’s made some rather enlightening and poignant points concerning how we raise our children and prepare our youth for war and how that affects their psychological, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing during and after the fighting. I can’t say that I enjoyed this book, like I enjoyed any of the previous books in this list, but it was a good read and fascinating, and I appreciate what it has accomplished. I highly recommend this book to everyone. We should all be more aware of these things.