The Screwtape Letters

Under Secretary Screwtape is writing advice to his protégé Wormwood as how to best tempt Wormwood’s “patient”, a human male living in England, into sin and draw him away from God. Written by C.S. Lewis and copyrighted 1942, this book is a masterpiece of satire and would fall under the category of Christian fiction.
C.S. Lewis wrote with a different style in this book than he tended to do with his other works; he uses less detail and no dialogue, as the book is told primarily through Screwtape’s letters to Wormwood. The Screwtape Letters is not an easy read, though it does flow very well; Lewis’ ideas and philosophies are quite profound. I would rate it at a hard read.
I would definitely recommend this book for ages 15+. There are some mature themes in it regarding the temptations that are recommended by Screwtape. An amazingly well written book with excellent literature, deep theological values, and thought-provoking chapters. 4.8 out of 5 stars.

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The Hobbit: There and Back Again

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

Featuring Dwarves, Wizards, Elves, dragons, gold, and little people called Hobbits that live in holes, J.R.R Tolkien’s classic work The Hobbit has stood the test of time and continues to be widely read today. It was first published in 1937 by George Allen and Unwin Ltd., and would fall under the fantasy genre.
Bilbo Baggins is a very well-to-do, respectable Hobbit. He never does anything unexpected or goes on any adventures. All that will change when a wandering Wizard, Gandalf the Grey by name, shows up for tea, bringing with him thirteen rowdy Dwarves. These Dwarves are the Company of Thorin Oakenshield, and they are determined to reclaim their homeland from the evil dragon Smaug, “Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities”. Gandalf recruited the unwilling Bilbo to be a professional Burglar, and he will-albeit reluctantly-accompany Thorin and his Dwarves on their dangerous quest through Wilderland. Will the Company of Thorin Oakenshield be able to defeat Smaug to reclaim their homeland and gold from the greedy dragon? Will Bilbo ever see his beloved hole again?
Tolkien writes with amazing imagery and excellent dialogue, and his use of detail is immense. The Hobbit flowed very well and will captivate you whether it is your first read or your tenth. This book is an easy to medium read. I would highly recommend it for ages 8+; it was originally written for children, but people of all ages have enjoyed read this prequel to his other great work, Lord of the Rings. A charming story, wonderful characters, and admirable morals. 5 out of 5 stars.

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

 

Artemis Fowl

Brimming with action, intrigue, crime, technology and fairies; Artemis Fowl is a gripping read for teen booklovers. Written by Eoin Colfer and published by Disney • Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group; this book would fall under the fantasy genre.
Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old child prodigy. His family-the Fowl family-are legendary criminals, and have made a fortune dealing on the wrong side of the law for generations. Artemis is no exception, and neither was his father, Artemis Senior; who mysteriously disappeared some time before, after his ship exploded while it was at sea. Artemis is convinced his father is still alive and is determined to find him. However, what he intends to do requires money…something the Fowls are running low on. Artemis knows just how to attain the funds he needs: kidnapping a fairy to acquire fairy gold. The fairy he kidnaps just happens to be an Elf named…Holly Short.
Captain Holly Short is a female officer in LEPrecon. Known as “leprechauns” in human lore, they are an elite division of the Lower Elements Police force. They protect all the fairies that live beneath Earth’s surface in huge cities that (they think) humans know nothing about, and they are determined to keep it that way. If the humans found out that there were armed and deadly fairies living below them, there would surely be consequences. So far, they have succeeded in remaining hidden; or so they think…until one of their own is captured by a juvenile human.
How did he know where to find them? Will Holly be able to escape the boy genius’s grip and foil his evil plot? The fairies are bound by ancient laws and have specific boundaries regarding humans…but what if they stop playing by the rules? Will Artemis attain what he needs to locate his father?
Eoin Colfer writes with excellent imagery and a good dose of comedy. His use of dialogue is fairly good; and the story flows very well with no dull spots. I would recommend this book for ages 13+; as there is an occasional inappropriate word and some mild rude humor.
Artemis Fowl is a riveting story with genuine characters and is a thoroughly enjoyable read. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Steelheart

How far would you go to get revenge on the man who murdered your father? Would you go as far as plotting to kill him yourself? David Charleston will stop at nothing to provide justice in this post-apocalyptic book, Steelheart, written by Brandon Sanderson. Published by Ember, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, this book is the first in a series called The Reckoners.
David was only eight years old when he watched an Epic called Steelheart callously murder his father. Epics have superhuman abilities; some are immortal, and others have regenerative powers. They are virtually impossible to stop and they want to take over the world. Everyone fears them.
David’s life goal is to one day kill Steelheart. He’s a particularly tyrannical Epic with the power to turn inanimate objects to steel. He is incredibly strong, and almost impenetrable to any weapon. Moments before he died, however; David’s father was able to injure him…and David is determined to find out how.
Ten years later, David is still as determined as ever to kill Steelheart. Now he has a plan, and it involves a group known as the Reckoners. This elite group of rebels are an extremist gang that kills Epics. David has collected information on almost every Epic in the world. He is convinced that because of his knowledge they’ll let him join them. They can help each other; the Reckoners with their tactics and David with his information, so he sets out to find them. But when he does, they’re not exactly what he imagined they’d be…
Sanderson writes amazing stories with detailed scenes and humorous quotes. His use of dialogue is pretty good; this book is told from first person perspective and it is very interesting to read David’s insight on everything happening. The story flowed very well, and is fairly easy to read.
I would recommend this book for 15+. It had some mature themes in it, and a few uses of mild profanity. It has an extremely well written storyline, and has good imagery. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Heartless

I listened long to your story,
Listened but could not hear.
When you chose to walk that path so overgrown,
I remained alone with my fear.

Cold silence covers the distance,
Stretches from shore to shore.
I follow in my mind your far-off journeying,
But I will walk that path no more.

Beyond the final water falling,
The Songs of Spheres recalling,
We who were never bound are swiftly torn apart.
Won’t you return to me?

Heartless, written by Anne Elizabeth Stengl, is a beautiful story of magic, love, and forgiveness. It was published in 2017 by Bethany House Publishers and is the first book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. This fantasy book is sure to warm your heart as you follow the adventures of Una, princess of Parumvir.
Una has come of age, and now suitors will be allowed to pursue her hand. She is filled with romantic ideas and notions; handsome, dashing princes; love songs in the moonlight-those kinds of things. Unfortunately, that is not what is the case when her first prince comes. Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore is as ordinary a man as could be (from her point of view, anyway). And Farthestshore is a mysterious fairy kingdom that is remembered only in ancient legends and the memories of the elders of Parumvir. Una wants absolutely nothing to do with him. However, Prince Aethelbald professes his love for her, refuses to leave Parumvir, and brings whispered tidings of danger. A Dragon is rumored to be roaming the countryside, ravaging kingdoms and destroying homes. Also, Prince Aethelbald knows something more. The Dragon’s mind is set on Princess Una. And he’s coming to Parumvir.
Una’s father, King Fidel, refuses to heed Aethelbald’s warning, and Princess Una spurns his love for the love of a more charming prince. When the dragon comes, there will be nothing to stop him. Una is alone. Will her charming prince remember her and come to her aid, or is he a false lover? Will she ever discover who her true Prince is? Or does she already know?
Stengl writes with a good amount of detail and description. The story flowed well; there were no particularly slow spots although it did move more quickly near the end. This book is a fairly easy read, and I would highly recommend it for girls (and maybe even boys?) ages 12+. A wonderful, heart-warming read, with excellent morals and virtuous themes. 4 out of 5 stars.

I listened long to your story,
Listened but could not hear.
When you chose to walk that path so overgrown,
I remained alone with my fear.

Cold silence covers the distance,
Stretches from shore to shore.
I follow in my mind your far-off journeying,
But I will walk that path no more.

Beyond the final water falling,
The Songs of Spheres recalling,
We who were never bound are swiftly torn apart.
Won’t you return to me?

Poem taken from Heartless, written by Anne Elizabeth Stengl, published in 2010 by Bethany House Publishers

The Hound of the Baskervilles

“…He said there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. But I did- some little distance off, but fresh and clear.”

“Footprints?”

“Footprints.”

“A man’s or a woman’s?”

Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered.

“Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!” *

Among all of the numerous fictional characters that have made their entrance into the world of stories, legends, and mysteries; few have been as popular or as well-remembered as Sherlock Holmes and his faithful counterpart Dr. John Watson. The eccentric, amateur detective and the loyal, retired army surgeon solve crimes of the most bizarre types in four novels and fifty-six short stories. The Hound of the Baskervilles-written by Arthur Conon Doyle- was first published in 1902 by George Newness, and it falls in the mystery\detective genre.

The story takes place in England in the late 19th century.  Holmes and Watson are enjoying a leisurely morning in Baker Street when a young doctor comes to ask their opinion on a death that had recently happened at Devonshire, in Baskerville Hall. While most are convinced that the victim-Sir Charles Baskerville-died as the result of a heart attack, his doctor, Dr. James Mortimer, thinks otherwise. He tells Holmes and Watson of a strange tale that was handed down from generation to generation of the Baskervilles, a tale of a huge man-eating hound that was said to wander the moor at night. In recent years, this story was dismissed by most, but Sir Charles took it very seriously and refused to walk on the moor after sundown. In fact, he was becoming so nervous about the whole affair that Dr. Mortimer became very worried and was going to suggest a short holiday in town. The next night, Sir Charles was found lying dead on the outskirts of his estate. When the scene was examined, Dr. Mortimer found a footmark that alarmed him; the mark of the foot of a giant hound.

 Holmes agrees to take up the case, sending Dr. Watson as his agent to Baskerville Hall with the young heir to the estate; Sir Henry Baskerville. While there, a series of events causes much unrest and anxiety to both Sir Henry and Dr. Watson. What do missing boots, strange messages, lights on the moor, secretive servants, and a long, haunting cry have to do with the mystery of the Hound of the Baskerville? Is it just a dirty trick, playing on superstition to scare the inhabitants of Baskerville, or is there some deeper, more sinister intent? Is there really a hound on the moor? And if there is; is it just an ordinary hound, or, as some suggest, is it some agent of the devil? What is the truth behind all of these seemingly unrelated incidents?

Arthur Conon Doyle uses excellent dialogue in his Sherlock Holmes novels. His use of detail is immense-as he wrote mysteries-but it never becomes dull or monotonous. His stories flow very well and there were no dull spots. This book was not a particularly easy read; I would say about medium-hard.

I would highly recommend this book for 12+. There are some mature themes and very mild language, and it can be quite chilling at times. It has excellent literature qualities, a thrilling story, and well-loved characters. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*Excerpt taken from The Hound of the Baskervilles, written by Arthur Conon Doyle, published in 1902 by George Newness.

 

P.S. I am a self-acclaimed fan of Sherlock Holmes. Just F.Y.I. 😉

               

Courageous Love

The camp had come alive. The fire burned brightly, casting an eerie red glow into the sky… Andi ducked back into the shadows. A heartbeat later, powerful arms encircled Andi from behind. “Chica, you will live to regret this.” *

 

Courageous Love is a heart-thumping tale of escapades and adventures in San Joaquin Valley, California, 1885. Written by Susan K. Marlow and published in 2017 by Kregel Publications, this historical fiction story-fourth in the Andrea Carter Milestones series- will not disappoint long-time fans, and is an excellent introduction to the adventures of the Circle C ranch and its high-spirited family.

Andrea Carter-know by most as “Andi”-is a lively, 16-year-old ranch girl. She helps her older brothers run the Circle C ranch, and when she isn’t roping cattle or training horses, she learns trick riding with the help of young horse wrangler Riley Prescott. One day, when coming back from a training session, Andi and Riley come across a cut in the wire fence surrounding heathy black Angus cattle. When nothing seems to be wrong with the cattle, Riley and Andi mend the fence and leave; not knowing that someone had poisoned the cattle’s drinking water. Later, when they find a note- that was wrapped around a brick responsible for breaking a window during a party-telling them about the poison, they realize that cattle may be the least of their problems. Someone is out for revenge against the Carter family; someone who will do anything to ensure pain and sorrow in their midst.

Added to all these larger problems is Andi’s own personal one; her feelings for Riley. He has grown from merely being her friend to something else-something she is not sure she wants him to be. When her world changes dramatically overnight, she must reconcile herself and trust that God has a plan for her-with or without Riley.

Susan K. Marlow is an excellent author; she uses a medium amount of details and description and her dialogue is very good. The story flowed fairly quickly; there was an occasional slow spot at the beginning, but it quickened near the middle and kept it up until its conclusion. Courageous Love is an easy to medium read.

I would definitely recommend this book for girls-and even boys- ages 13+. There is some romance, as well as a few mature themes, but it has Godly morals and is written very well. 4 out of 5 stars.

 

God forgive me. I did what I had to do, but I hope I never have to do it again. *

*Excerpt taken from Chapter 24 pg. 175 of Courageous Love, written by Susan K. Marlow and published by Kregel Publications, 2017

**Excerpt taken from Chapter 25 pg. 126 of Courageous Love, written by Susan K. Marlow and published by Kregel Publications, 2017

 

The Great Divorce

“I seemed to be standing in a busy queue by the side of a long, mean street…” *

 

C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is an incredible allegory, one that readers will enjoy for centuries. While reading this book-published in 1946 by HarperCollins-you will be challenged to consider how you spend your time here on earth in light of life after death, and also how you treat those around you.

This book takes place in Heaven and Hell. It is told from the perspective of Lewis in a first-person account. He suddenly finds himself in a grey, dingy town in line for a bus that will take the inhabitants away to a new life. When he boards the bus, he observes that the passengers on the bus are superficial in both their ideas and their philosophies. He also notices that both himself and the others are slowly turning transparent. Once they get to their destination- a beautiful land with green grass, running water, and ripe fruit trees-they are practically invisible, as well irrelevant to the place they are in. The grass feels like sharp blades on their feet, the flowers are as hard as diamonds, and the water is solid enough to bear a full-grown man’s weight on its surface. Yet, as Lewis notices, it is not that the humans have become less real, it is that the place they are in is more real, more solid that our world. So Lewis sets out to explore this new world and discover the mystery that lies behind it: one that will change his life. Forever.  

C.S. Lewis uses his usual writing style in this book; speaking to the reader individually as a friend. He uses quite a bit of detail and description; and he does it in such a way that he can really convey the feel of the place or the deeper meaning of an object, rather than just the place or object themselves.  The story flowed very well; this is definitely a book you will find it hard to put down. It is not an easy read; I would rate it hard to very hard; both in content comprehension and word usage.

I would highly recommend this book for 15+. There are some adult themes in it, as well as some mild language. Other than that, a remarkable book altogether; with excellent imagery and godly themes and morals. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

“But what, you ask, of earth? Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.” **

 

*Quotation taken from The Great Divorce, written by C.S. Lewis, published in 1946 by HarperCollins: chapter 1.

**Quotation taken from The Great Divorce, written by C.S. Lewis, published in 1946 by HarperCollins: Preface.