Book Review: The Wingfeather Saga

What the Books Are About:

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On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson (summary from Goodreads)

Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.
Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.

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North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson (summary from Goodreads)

In order to survive, the Igibys [Janner, Tink, and Leeli] must flee to the safety of the Ice Prairies, where the lizardlike Fangs of Dang cannot follow. First, however, they have to escape the monsters of Glipwood Forest, the thieving Stranders of the East Bend, and the dreaded Fork Factory.
But even more dangerous are the jealousies and bitterness that threaten to tear them apart, and Janner and his siblings must learn the hard way that the love of a family is more important than anything else.

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The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson (summary from Goodreads)

Janner Wingfeather’s father was the High King of Anniera. But his father is gone. The kingdom has fallen. The royal family is on the run, and the Fang armies of Gnag the Nameless are close behind.

Janner and his family hope to find refuge in the last safe place in the world: the Green Hollows–a land of warriors feared even by Fangs of Dang…Join the Wingfeathers on an adventure filled with mystery, betrayal, and sneakery in a land of tasty fruits. There’s a monster on the loose and the truth lurks in the shadows.

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The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson (summary from Goodreads)

All winter long, people in the Green Hollows have prepared for a final battle with Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang. Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli—Throne Warden, Wolf King, and Song Maiden of Anniera—are ready and willing to fight alongside the Hollowsfolk, but when the Fangs make the first move and invade Ban Rona, the children are separated. Janner is alone and lost in the hills; Leeli is fighting the Fangs from the rooftops of the city; and Kalmar, who carries a terrible secret, is on a course for the Deeps of Throg. Meanwhile in Skree, Sara Cobbler and Maraly Weaver care for the broken Artham Wingfeather as Fangs muster for battle across the MightyRiver Blapp.
Sea dragons lurk in the waters. Wicked Stranders crawl through the burrows. Ridgerunners and trolls prowl the land. Cloven haunt the forest. Monsters and Fangs and villains lie between the children and their only hope of victory—in the epic conclusion of The Wingfeather Saga.

What I Liked:

I don’t know if you’ve noticed by now, but I like fantasy (yes, that was sarcasm).  The Wingfeather Saga is not only fantasy: it’s fantasy done well.  It’s got it all: fantastical creatures (such as toothy cows), magic, and a different world.  What’s not to like?

One thing I especially liked about this series is that the reader can really relate to the characters.  Each character has his or her own personal struggles.  Janner, the main character, struggles with jealously and bitterness, and he is a much more relatable character because his struggles and faults are so evident to the reader.  We all have probably struggled with jealousy at some point in time, so the reader can not only relate to how Janner feels but also really empathize and understand how Janner feels in the story.  And although the reader can admit that Janner is being selfish, Andrew Peterson somehow still manages to make Janner likable.

Andrew Peterson also does a wonderful job world-building.  He creates a world that is so original, it’s realistic in the reader’s mind.  He pictures it so clearly that the reader has no doubt about what this mysterious world is like.  The most important thing in creating a realistic world is picturing it your own mind so that you can convey this picture to your readers, and Andrew Peterson does this brilliantly.

Another thing I loved about this series was the creativity and originality of the story.  It was refreshing to read a fantasy series that is so creative and original and like none other I’ve ever read.

If anything I said above about this series sounds appealing to you, you need to read this series.  Even if what I said doesn’t sound appealing, still read it, okay?  When you read this series, you make life-long friends of the characters, friends you will never forget.

What I Didn’t Like:

Honestly, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this series.  There isn’t any inappropriate or objectionable material.  If you like fantasy, you need to read this series!

Who I Would Recommend This Series For:

I would recommend this series for almost all ages.  This would be a great family read-aloud.

Underlying Themes and Messages {SPOILER ALERT}:

The two main themes throughout this series are good vs. evil (which every good fantasy series should have) and brotherly love.  In the series, Janner, the main character, is the Throne Warden, whose job it is to protect his brother Kalmar, the king.  Janner has to make many sacrifices along the way to keep his brother safe, including the ultimate sacrifice at the end of the series.  At first, Janner is bitter about his responsibilities, but as the series progresses, he willingly protects and even *MAJOR SPOILER* sacrifices himself for his brother. *END OF MAJOR SPOILER*  This message is so powerfully portrayed throughout the series, as well as good triumphing over evil.

Rating (Goodreads):

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga #1): 4.22 out of 5 stars

North! Or Be Eaten (The Wingfeather Saga #2): 4.47 out of 5 stars

The Monster in the Hollows (The Wingfeather Saga #3): 4.63 out of 5 stars

The Warden and the Wolf King (The Wingfeather Saga #4): 4.69 out of 5 stars

My Rating:

I would give this series a 5 out of 5 star rating.

Quotable Quotes:

And guess what?  I’m adding a section: the quotable quotes section!

“Blood was shed that you three might breathe the good air of life, and if that means you have to miss out on a Zibzy game, then so be it. Part of being a man is putting others’ needs before your own.”  ~ Andrew Peterson, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

“Here I sit in the presence of queens and heroes and magic. Yes, magic. It is only when we have grown too old that we fail to see that the Maker’s world is swollen with magic – it hides in plain sight in music and water and even bumblebees.”  ~ Andrew Peterson, North! Or Be Eaten

“When children say it’s time to leave, they mean, “It’s time to leave.” When grownups say so, they really mean, “It’s time to begin thinking about leaving sometime in the near future.”  ~ Andrew Peterson, North! Or Be Eaten

“‘But I don’t want to be the Throne Warden,’ Janner said with all the bitterness he could muster.
‘I understand,’ Nia said. Janner had planned to send her over the edge with that comment, but she didn’t seem surprised.
‘Sometimes I don’t want to be queen. But what I want doesn’t change what I am.'”  ~ Andrew Peterson, The Monster in the Hollows

“Love runs stronger than blood. Deeper than any name you could give me.” ~ Andrew Peterson, The Warden and the Wolf King

“When you run out of hope, everything is backwards. Your heart wants the opposite of what it needs.” ~ Andrew Peterson, The Warden and the Wolf King

 

Have you ever read the Wingfeather Saga?  Did you like it?

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On a completely unrelated note, sorry I haven’t posted in a long time.  I’ve been really busy lately…I’m sure you all can relate. 🙂

 

 

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5 Great Novels For Fantasy-Lovers

I love fantasy.  Don’t know if I’ve ever told you that, but I do.  I love it so much that I’m going to write a fantasy novel this summer.  I love fantasy a lot.  The images below pretty much sum up my attitude about fantasy:

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What is fantasy, anyway?  I think we would all agree that it is a genre of literature, but what makes it different from the rest of the literary genres?  What makes it a unique genre?  Here are some elements of the fantasy genre from this article:

  • Events occur outside the ordinary laws that operate within the universe.
  • Magic is central to the fantasy genre.
  • Fantasy stories often involve journeys and quests.

According to this article (which you can find here), fantasy is…

Fantasy is a form of literary genre in which a plot cannot occur in the real world. Its plot usually involves witchcraft or magic taking place on an undiscovered planet of an unknown world. Its overall theme and setting is a combination of technology, architecture, and language resembling European medieval ages. The most interesting thing about fantasies is that their plot involves witches, sorcerers, mythical and animal creatures talking like humans, which never happens in the real life.\

Guess what?  After this post, I’m going to write a[nother] post about why Christians can write fantasy, even though some may object to the idea of magic in their novels. {Hint: You’re the author; you control what you write!}

Anyway, I’ve created a list of fantasy novels which I really enjoyed, so if you love fantasy, you should definitely try reading these books:

1.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

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If you haven’t heard of the Lord of the Rings, you might just live in a hole in the ground.  You also might be a hobbit.  The hole probably isn’t a nasty, dirty, wet hole.  It’s a hobbit hole.  Okay, I’ll stop.  {For those of you who haven’t read the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, that was a Hobbit reference. 😉 }  This is probably one of the best fantasy series of all time.  It’s that good.  J. R. R. Tolkien is a master world-builder.  He creates a world–Middle Earth–that is realistic.  This world he created is so complex that he even wrote entire books about the lore and legends and history of this world.  It’s incredible.  The books in the series are as follows:

  • The Hobbit (which is not technically part of the Lord of the Rings series, but anyway…)
  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King

2.  Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

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Yes, I’ve read Harry Potter.  Now before you start screaming at me, let me tell you something: these books are some of the most brilliant novels I’ve ever read–and I’ve read a lot of novels.  J. K. Rowling creates a world of magic so vivid, the reader can picture it quite clearly in his or her mind.  Another post coming on why Harry Potter is not a bad series for a Christian to read.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about reading Harry Potter, too. *winks mysteriously*

These are the books in the series (they’re pretty long [the longest is 800 some pages], but they aren’t hard reads, and they’re so action-packed and suspenseful that you won’t be able to put them down):

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix 
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

3.  The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

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Although the first book, Eragon, was not my favorite, I loved the rest of the books in this series.  Christopher Paolini creates yet another realistic world of his own.  His world has a Tolkien-ish feel to it, but it is his own and unique.  The way he uses magic in his series is also unique and fascinating (after all, to be considered a fantasy book, it must contain magic).  The books in this series are:

  • Eragon
  • Eldest
  • Brisingr
  • Inheritance

4.  The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan

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This series is one of my all-time favorites (okay, all the books on this list are some of my all-time favorites).  In the series, the Greek gods are real, and therefore, there are demigods who must fight monsters like in the myths.  If you’re a mythology geek (I almost typed greek XD ) like me, you’ll love this series.  And if you’re not (I pity you), you’ll still love this series.  The books in the series are as follows:

  • The Lightning Thief
  • The Sea of Monsters
  • The Titan’s Curse
  • The Battle of the Labryinth
  • The Last Olympian

{There is also a second series, and I believe the author is writing a third.  I can’t recommend the second series because I haven’t read all of it, and I’ve heard some bad things about it.}

5.  The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

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Okay, I’ve still only read the first three books (I’m finishing the last one this summer), but I can tell you from what I’ve read these books are amazing.  Andrew Peterson really creates another realistic world of his own, with its own feel and its own culture.  It’s amazing that so many authors can create worlds that are so different, isn’t it?  Anway, read these books!

  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
  • North! Or Be Eaten
  • The Monster in the Hollows
  • The Warden and the Wolf King

Have you read any of these books?   What did you think of them?  Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see a full review on any of the books above!

 

 

 

Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

{Note: I try to keep this review mostly spoiler-free.  However, there are a few in the  “What I liked” section of this review.}

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What It’s About:
Here’s a summary of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee from Good Reads (here):

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Here’s a bit more about the plot from Barnes and Nobles (here):

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South—and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred [sic]

One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

What I liked:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of my all-time favorite books.  It’s not called an American classic for nothing!  To Kill A Mockingbird is about racial prejudices in the South in the 1930’s.  This book will make you laugh, cry, and want to punch something (or someone).

One area that Harper Lee really excels in is characterization.  All her characters are very real, and they all are unique in their personalities.  For example, Scout, the main character, is an innocent, naïve young girl, who’s a tomboy and is always getting into trouble.  Jem, her brother, acts tough for his little sister, but he genuinely cares about her.  Dill, Jem and Scout’s best friend, is small for his age but acts tough and thinks he’s smart.  Atticus, Jem and Scout’s father, is a lawyer, who cares about doing what he believes is right and doesn’t back down even in the face of impossible odds.  All these characters have their own unique personalities, one element that makes this book truly a worth-while read.

The story centers around a court case in which Atticus is defending a black man accused of raping a white girl.  The black man (Tom Robinson), as you find out in the story, did not really rape the white girl, and Atticus believes Tom.  This is unheard of in the South in the 1930’s.  While most defense lawyers would not defend Tom Robinson fairly because he is black, Atticus defends Tom to the best of his ability.

Scout, the main character, develops throughout the course of the novel and learns that the world is not as innocent as she once thought it was.  She’s made fun of in school because her father is defending Tom.  But she has to learn to stand strong through all the mayhem and evil of the world.  This book is unbelievably moving, and the story conceals truths and morals that are still relevant today.

What I didn’t like:

There really isn’t anything I would change about this book.  I love everything about it (except the cussing).  However, once you get past the cussing, you’ll realize the true genius of this book.  Please do yourself a favor and read it, if you haven’t already.

Who I would recommend this book for:

This book contains PG-13 material, including rape and some cuss words.  The book does not show the rape scene but talks about it often, since there is a lawsuit about it, which is the main plot of the book.  Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone 10 and under.  I said this above, but let me say it again.  Once you get past the cussing and yucky stuff, you find a story containing wonderful truths and messages.  Believe me, you don’t know what you’re missing if you haven’t read it (or maybe now you do since I just told you what you’re missing 😉 ).

Underlying themes and messages:

Messages and themes include (source):

  • Justice–Tom Robinson is innocent.
  • Courage–Atticus’s courage standing up for what is right.
  • Social classes–All men are created equal.
  • Racism–Discrimination against African-Americans.
  • Heroism

Rating (Barnes and Nobles):

Barnes and Nobles give this book a 4.5 out of 5 star rating.

My rating:

I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 star rating, as well.

To Kill A Mockingbird movie:

The movie was well-done but, of course, not as good as the book.  If you want to see the movie (which I would never recommend watching before reading the book), simply Google “To Kill A Mockingbird movie,” and you’ll find it.

Have you read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee?  Did you like it?  Tell me what you think in the comments!

Northanger Abbey–a Little Known Jane Austen

Hey, my first official book review!  Tell me what you think in the comments. 🙂

I recently finished this book called Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  Here is a summary from Good Reads:

A wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events.

What I liked:

Over Christmas break, I was looking to read a Classic, well-written novel, but I didn’t want to read a morbid, overly-depressing Classic.  So I thought, Why not read a Jane Austen novel?  I noticed that on my bookshelf, next to the huge Jane Austen treasury, was a small Jane Austen novel, barely 200 pages long, called “Northanger Abbey.”  Northanger Abbey, I thought, hmm, I wonder what that’s about?  So I picked this little book off the shelf and read the back cover.  Sounds intriguing, I thought.  Then I read the first chapter. And the second.  And the third.  And the fourth.  I couldn’t put the book down!  Not only is this little-known Jane Austen novel well-written, but it is also gripping, entertaining, and brilliant.  To say the least, this is a beautiful novel.

Yes, it is a romance novel.  But it’s not one of those extremely predictable romance novels; it’s actually rather unpredictable.  Catherine does *SPOILER* end up marrying Henry Tilney .  But it is still unpredictable–for most of the book the reader is trying to figure out if Henry likes Catherine or not. *END OF SPOILER*  This book had me sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next.

What I didn’t like:

I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about “Northanger Abbey.”  It was a wonderful story, predictable enough to know that it would end happily, but not too predictable, at the same time.

Who I would recommend this book for:

I would recommend this book for anyone who likes romance or Jane Austen novels.  Seriously, I love “Pride and Prejudice,” “Sense and Sensibility,” and “Emma.”  “Northanger Abbey,” in my opinion, was every bit as good as Austen’s most famous works.  As great as this book is, if you don’t like romance novels, this book probably isn’t for you!

Underlying themes and messages:

“Northanger Abbey” emphasizes the importance of marrying for love, not money.  This was an important theme to Austen herself, so it is no wonder that she emphasizes it in this book.  Marrying for love (not money) is a recurring theme in many of her novels, not just “Northanger Abbey.”  In “Pride and Prejudice,” *SPOILER* Mr. Bingley’s sisters convince him to go away to London, so that he will not marry Jane Bennet.  They object to their brother’s marriage to Jane because she is poor.  *END OF SPOILER*  Although I particularly noticed that this theme was emphasized in “Northanger Abbey,” it is also an underlying theme in other Jane Austen novels.

Rating (Good Reads):

Good Reads rates “Northanger Abbey” as a 3.78 star book.

My rating:

I would give this book a 4.0-4.5 star rating.

Northanger Abbey Movie:

There was a PBS Masterpiece series of this novel made in 2007.  You can find the link to the full movie here.

{CAUTION: I HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE, so I can’t tell you what it’s like or if there’s any yucky stuff.}