sonk’s #CBRV Reviews #39-43

Catching up on reviews again! Below are the links to reviews #39 through #43.

#39: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (3 stars)

The first in the Narnia series, the world-building prequel that sets the stage for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the rest of the books.

#40: Tampa by Alissa Nutting (3 stars)

The disturbing story of Celeste, a young and beautiful schoolteacher who is–just below the surface–a sociopath and pedophile obsessed with prepubescent boys.

#41: The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean (4 stars)

A look into the bizarre, beautiful world of orchids, and the people who love them.

#42: One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (4 stars)

The second book in the Jackson Brodie series.

#43: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (4 stars)

A collection of interconnected short stories dealing with love and loss in the life of Yunior, a young Hispanic man.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #18 – Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

And the travels through Narnia continue. The Pevensies are on their way back to school, about a year after their initial visit through the wardrobe. They’re sitting in the train station, and are suddenly sucked back into Narnia. They land on an island, which turns out to be Cair Paravel, their castle, but hundreds of years have passed, and the castle has fallen into ruins. They start working their way to the mainland, trying to figure out why they’re there. On the way, they encounter a dwarf. They save his life after some bad guys toss him overboard, and he becomes their guide.

The dwarf tells the kids a tale; the tale of Prince Caspian. Caspian’s father had been king of Narnia, until his sudden & untimely death. Caspian’s uncle Miraz is now king, and Caspian will inherit when Miraz dies, unless Miraz has a son. Unfortunately, that’s what happens, so Caspian is expendable. His tutor sees the writing on the wall before Caspian does, and spirits the boy away to safety. Caspian also runs into some dwarves, and then begins gathering his army to take his rightful place on the throne of Narnia.

So much time has passed since the Pevensies ruled Narnia, that the talking beasts and dwarves have gone into hiding. The people that conquered Narnia drove them away. They didn’t disappear, they were just hiding. Waiting for the true king – who turns out to be Caspian, of course.

The war begins, and the Pevensies join forces with Caspian. This being a Narnia book, one can expect a reasonably happy ending. Of all the Narnia books, this is definitely one of my favorites. For me, Pevensies + Narnia = happy reading.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #7 – The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

The third book in the Chronicles of Narnia takes place during the reign of King Peter (along with his brother and sisters), and the Pevensies appear in this book as their (semi-)adult selves. The titular boy is Shasta, who lives with a fisherman who he’s pretty sure isn’t his father, and who abuses him. Dad’s about to see Shasta to a traveling noble person, which Shasta overhears, and is of two minds about the situation. Shasta starts talking to the traveller’s horse, who (to his amazement) talks back. The horse and the boy decide to run away to Narnia, where the horse is from.

Whilst on the run, Shasta and Bree (the horse) run into a young girl also running away from home (to escape an arranged marriage to a gross old man) and her talking horse Hwin. They have adventures, escape various perils, and Shasta gets mistaken for some prince kid (hmmmm).

Calormene, the place Shasta and Aravis are trying to escape, appears to be a sort of Persian/Arabian sort of place, with viziers and the like. They see the Narnians and Archenlanders (northerners) as barbarians, but act more barbaric (of course). Queen Susan rejects the Calormene prince, who decides to invade. Shasta and Aravis try to save the day, and Shasta learns who he really is.

Aslan makes his usual god-like appearance, helping things along, and of course it all works out in the end. I liked this one, it has a sense of humor, especially with all the invented aphorisms that Lewis puts in the mouths of the Calormenes (although they might be a bit racist). It’s another quick and easy read, as enjoyable as Lewis’ other stories.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #5 – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I bought this series in paperback as an adult, because for some reason I had not read the books as a child. It’s a nice little boxed set, and I’m getting ready to pass it on to my niece, who has just started reading what the kids call “chapter books.” We just used to call them books, but I’m old. Anyway, the first book in the boxed set was “The Magician’s Nephew,” but this was actually the first book written and published (although it is second chronologically in Narnia time).

Between the books and the movies, you all know the story: the kids are evacuated to the countryside during the Blitz, and end up staying with old, odd Professor Kirke. That’s Digory Kirke, for those of you who have already read the prequel. Little Lucy Pevensie finds a wardrobe in a disused room, and finds a whole other world inside (outside?) it. She meets a lovely faun, Tumnus, who tries to betray her, but then can’t. Her brother Edmund makes his way to Narnia as well, and meets the queen (so she says), who tantalizes him with sweets, and promises of glory. Then all four kids end up there, they discover that Mr. Tumnus has been taken, they meet beavers, Edmund betrays them to the White Witch, they go on the lam, meet Santa Claus, and the long winter begins to end. Oh, and there’s a very big lion who might be Jesus.

Here’s what I love about this story. I adore the Pevensies, they’re just so very British. Peter is all stiff-upper-lip-man-of-the-house, Susan is such a mother hen, Lucy is adorable, and Edmund is a total prick until he finds out that prickiness isn’t all that great, no matter how much Turkish Delight there is (I’ve never had it, but I looked it up and it sounds kind of icky). I love all the talking animals, especially the saucy Mrs. Beaver. I love how she packs food for everyone and tries to bring her sewing machine before the wolves descend (she just couldn’t bear their nasty paws all over her stuff – and I also love that Santa got her a new one after the wolves trashed their place).

Ok, so I’m not all that enamored of the Christian mythology aspect, but Lewis doesn’t totally beat us to death with it (although he does get in a few good smacks). I do enjoy these books, they’re yet another way to turn off the churning brain at the end of the day (which is all too necessary). I’ll be reading these books for the rest of my life. I’m excited to introduce my niece to them, and can’t wait until my boy is old enough to read them.

Captain Tuttle’s CBR5 Review #2 – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

I’ve read these books over and over again since re-discovering them in adulthood. They may have been written for children, and by a religious man, none of which I am, but I enjoy them nonetheless, and generally all in order.  I picked it up this time because I left my Kindle at the office, and needed something smallish for bedtime reading.

This book is the “prequel” to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; sort of.  It tells of Digory and his friend Polly, and his nasty uncle who thinks he’s a magician. Digory’s stuck in London because his dad’s in India and his mom is dying. He’s sad and lonely.  He and Polly start exploring the row houses, and end up in weird uncle’s special room where he does magic. He has these rings, which seem to make things disappear.  Jerky uncle fools Polly into touching a ring that makes her disappear, and forces Digory to do the same (because he doesn’t want to abandon his friend).

When they’re away, Digory does something stupid and impulsive, and awakens a nasty (if beautiful) witch. She hitches a ride back to London with the kids, and wreaks havoc all over the place. The kids figure out they have to get her out of there, and try to bring her back to her own world. This time bad uncle, a cab driver, and a horse come along.  They end up in a dark and empty place, and to help them feel better, the cabbie sings a song. When he stops, something else is singing, and the world comes to life. The singer is Aslan, and the world becomes Narnia. There’s quite a bit more, but the important thing is that Digory brings back an apple from Narnia, saves his mom, and plants the apple core in his yard. It grows into a tree, and the wood from the tree was used to make a wardrobe.  Hmmm.  I wonder who Digory grows up to be?

Anyway, like I said, this book is a total standby for me, and I’m looking forward to the time that my boy is old enough to sit through me reading it to him.