April Minireviews

Heck yeah, now we’re talking!! I’m also down to only 1250 unread emails, so I’m really making progress LOL

I actually read three series in April, so here are all the one-offs, and I’ll be posting some series reviews hopefully soon!

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up.  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis – 5*

Another enjoyable reread, I’ve always been fond of this one, maybe because I absolutely LOVE the name Caspian. So perfect.

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief & Mayhem by Manda Collins – 3*

//published 2020//

This one was a read for the traveling book club, although it’s also one that was on my TBR, so score.  In the end, it was just a little too “sassy independent women are the only kind who get anywhere in the world” for me.  I don’t mind sassy independent women as characters, but when it’s combined with an attitude that all other women are just sad little victims of the patriarchy, it starts to grate on my nerves, especially in “historical” novels.  The timing also felt weird in this one – the main character meets a woman and they hit it off and start hanging out – then literally two weeks later they’re just going on and on about how they’re BFFs and basically inseparable and it just felt odd.  It was the same with the love interest, who goes from a complete stranger to the most important person in her life in about five minutes.  It was also a book that would have benefited from deciding what it wanted to be – either a romance OR a mystery, because in the end it was just pretty muddled.  It wasn’t a bad story, and I can see why some people really like it, but it wasn’t a good fit for me.

Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie – 3.5*

//published 1934//

This is a collection of short stories based around the character of Parker Pyne, who isn’t a detective at all but someone who says he can make people’s lives happier.  While these were fairly entertaining, they were also a bit ridiculous.  Not a bad read, but not a particularly strong collection.

Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken – 3.5*

//published 1985//

After reading Mansfield Park in March, I read a few MP variations that had been on my TBR in April.  In this one, Aiken writes a sequel that focuses on Fanny’s younger sister, Susan, who comes to live at Mansfield Park towards the end of the original story.  This wasn’t a bad story, it was just kind of boring.  Aiken also ruthlessly kills off Sir Thomas in the first chapter and since he’s actually pretty much my favorite character in the original story, I was sad to see him go haha

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling – 4*

//published 1999//

Not my favorite in the series but still a decent installment.  I’m really enjoying reading the British edition of these books as well.  I’m a strong believer that if a book is written by someone who is British, and set in Britain, there should be no “translation” into American English.  It’s just silly!  So it’s fun to read these with their original British slang and terms.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis – 5*

//published 1952//

This is probably the most episodic of the series, with each chapter or two being its own little adventure.  I really do love the redemption of Eustace, and while Reepicheep can be a bit much, I still can appreciate his valor.  There are a lot of interesting little tales here, some better than others, but on the whole a delightful revisit.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

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by C.S. Lewis

Published 1950

Gaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh where do I even begin?!?!  The Chronicles of Narnia are very, very high on my list of all-time favorite books.  (It’s a mental list, by the way.  That way I can make it be whatever I want whenever I want.)  I first read these books when I was pretty young, probably 8 or 9 I started reading at a tender age, not to bore you with personal history, but the point is that I was reading legit chapter books by about the age of 5, and while overall I think this was positive, I think that it also sometimes meant that I read books that I wasn’t really mentally ready for even though I was capable of reading them, if that makes sense.  That definitely happened with the final book in the Chronicles, The Last Battle.  As a young child, I hated that book, so much so that even though I would read the other books frequently, I didn’t read that last book again until probably ten years later – and now I think it may be my favorite.  But that’s a different story for a different time.

Point is, the Chronicles are fantastic.  They are humorous, exciting, fun, and, somehow, plausible.  I know for a fact that I’m not the only person who’s wondered about the existence of Narnia.  :-D  The traditional, original drawings by Pauline Baynes are fantastic overall (although every now in again I get exasperated because it’s not how imagined it!), as well.

Okay, I think we’ll start by getting my rant out of the way.  My rant has to do with the fact that the  book pictured above has a “2” on the spine.  UNACCEPTABLE.  I am SO ANGRY at the fact that these books are now published in the wrong order.  Narnia should NEVER be read chronologically (at least, not the first time that you read them!).  You miss SO MUCH reading them chronologically instead of in published order, especially when people read the chronologically-first book, The Magician’s Nephew, before reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I don’t even understand how The Magician’s Nephew makes SENSE when you read it first.  I am EXTREMELY PASSIONATE about this.  Some people drag up a supposed quote from Lewis in response to a letter written by a young reader of his, but it’s pretty apparent that the reader is asking if the books can be read chronologically and he says yes, that makes sense, but not in a AND OH HEY PLEASE REPUBLISH ALL MY BOOKS IN THIS ORDER FOREVER.  My gosh.  Ridiculous.

Okay, so, anyway, if you’ve never read the Chronicles, or if it’s been a long time, please read them in their published order:

  1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  2. Prince Caspian (Which, by the way, is subtitled Return to Narnia, which doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense if the book isn’t, you know, the return to Narnia, instead of the third time around.)
  3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  4. The Silver Chair (These four books, by the way, are chronological to each other, and have many of the same characters.)
  5. The Horse and His Boy (Which takes place during the reign of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, so somewhere towards the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
  6. The Magician’s Nephew (Which is about the creation of Narnia, and truly would be super confusing if you didn’t already know about Narnia.)
  7. The Last Battle

Alrighty, so The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe…  there has been loads of stuff written about this book.  It’s been made into movies.  I’m not going to tell you anything about it that you don’t already know, other than my own opinions.  The Chronicles aren’t books of incredible depth and description like The Lord of the Rings.  These stories are for younger readers, and are somewhat simple in scope.  However, there are many layers, and even if you aren’t a Christian and don’t like the allegorical aspect to the tales, I think that that overarching story, of a god willing to sacrifice himself for someone completely undeserving, is still an excellent tale.

I’m not sure that I can explain what has drawn me back to Narnia time and again, but I know that these are books that have withstood the test of time for me – I have easily read them twenty or more times, and they never disappoint me.  I never fail to find something new, to underline some different sentence that hadn’t struck me before.  The redemption of Edmund is so beautiful (Edmund is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time), the resurrection of Aslan, the battle with the Witch – I love it all, down to the best advice for running a country that I’ve found yet:

And they made good laws and kept the peace and saved good trees from being unnecessarily cut down, and liberated young dwarfs and young satyrs from being sent to school, and generally stopped busybodies and interferers and encouraged ordinary people who wanted to live and let live.

If only all rulers were so wise!

In conclusion: if you’ve never read these books, you absolutely must do so.  If you haven’t read them since childhood, pick them up again, because they will not disappoint.  They are just as magical for me at the age of 31 as they were when I first read them as a very young child.  Return to Narnia – just make sure you do it in the correct order.  ;-)