Posted in reading

5 Books on my TBR for Summer

Hey, everyone!

How goes it? Are you keeping afloat in this sea of uncertainty? It feels like monsters, mayhem, and certain death is lurking around every corner…or so we’re told. Besides all of that though, we’ve made it into the thick of summer – which means swivel fans running nonstop, long lazy days too hot for anything, ice cream, and cold drinks all around. It’s supposed to be monsoon season here, but one little rain shower, doesn’t qualify as a monsoon, does it? So this heat-wave has me feeling more like a puddle, than a person. And to make matters worse, there isn’t a single beach within five-hundred square miles of me, or even a pubic pool open to wade in, so I’m left with many, sweaty afternoons to fill. And what’s better than to fill my time with books?20200712_150346

As with all readers, my TBR (To Be Read) list is ever growing and expanding, while the list of books I’ve actually read is criminally short. But amongst the eternally broadening TBR, there are some titles that are calling out to me louder than all the others. Some of these books have been on my list for ages, and others are newly added. I am hoping to cross these titles off my list very soon, so I thought I’d share with you the top five books I’m so looking forward to reading this summer.

1. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

In this “utopian” future, humans are genetically engineered, socially manipulated, and pharmaceutically anesthathized to become docile, and uphold the authoritarian ruling order… all at the cost of freedom, humanity, and our very souls. Is it me, or does this sound a little too, familiar?20200718_123801

I’ve known about this book for a long time, but my curiosity was first piqued when I heard from someone that they preferred this book, to 1984. (Not that I’ve read 1984 either, but that’s beside the point.) A couple of months ago, I got this book as a gift for my birthday, so now that I have it in my possession, I’m going to be reading it very soon.

2. The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy

Set in the year 1792, this story takes place in France, during the Reign of Terror. Sir Percy, and Lady Marguerite Blakeney find themselves targets, at the center of a deadly political scheme. And only one man can help them–The Scarlet Pimpernel— a master of disguises who leaves only a calling card behind, after his covert rescues, emblazoned with the infamous red flower.20200721_111236

This book is relatively new to my list, but when I heard about it, it jumped straight to the top. I was at a book store and saw this book sitting on a table, so I snatched it right up. I think the themes, and content of this book could be especially valuable in today’s world.

3. Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus

 In 1841, Manjiro and his four friends are castaways on a deserted island. Beyond the island are countless unknowns – demons, monsters, and barbarians, or so they’ve been told. One day, an American whaling vessel passes the island, and brings the castaways aboard. Together, they sail across the high seas, and visit places they never could have dreamed exist. But years later, Manjiro wants to return to his home in Japan–to become samurai.20200721_111017

First off, can you think of anything cooler than samurai’s? If I could be anything, I think, I’d become a samurai. So as you can imagine, when I read the title of this book, I knew I had to read it. I’d seen the book floating around the book world, at libraries and such, and I got lucky and found a copy at a thrift store. So I’m excited to dive into this story very soon. (Also, this book has pictures. Bonus points!)

4. Shirley, by Charlotte Brontë

Centered around two young heroines, this story takes place during a difficult time in history. With the Napoleonic wars raging, Luddite revolts, and industrialization of England, this story covers many social struggles of the contrasting characters.

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I’m a huge Brontë fan, so this book was a given, for me. I’m ashamed to say though, this book has been sitting around, gathering dust on my shelf for far too long while I waited for the right time to pick it up. But there’s no time like the present, right? Charlotte usually writes very deep, and profound books, so I can’t wait to start Shirley.

5. The Wingfeather Saga book 1: On The Edge of The Sea of Darkness, by Andrew  Peterson

“Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog, Nugget.”IMG_20200713_085140_255

Just about everyone and their grandma has read this book and loved it – and I’m starting to feel a little left out. I’ve heard such great things about this series, so I am really stoked to read it. And if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that the so-called middle-grade books can truly be some very impactful stories.

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So that’s the list. This year hasn’t been a very good one in terms of getting books read. I’m sure it has a lot to do with procrastination, and the threat of extinction hanging over our heads, so its understandable that I’ve been reading less than usual. But in June, I decided I was going to make more time for reading, and spend less time endlessly scrolling on social media. And happily, it’s been working. The more I read, the more I want to read, and I’m feeling ambitious about crossing these books off my TBR. So wish me luck, friends, and I do the same for you!

What are some books on your TBR? How is your reading year coming along? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

2019 Completed Reading List

20200125_140456Hello friends. How has life been treating you? Are you settling into the new year?

I’m finally, here to bring you my annual list of books read in 2019. Hard to believe it’s my fourth year of compiling this list on my blog. Time really flies!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record… I’m a bit disappointed with the amount of books I read. I didn’t set a specific number for myself, but every year I say I’m going to get back into the rhythm, and “read all the things”! I’m still reading a lot, and studying, so I guess I need to adjust my expectations and not be so hard on myself. Life changes, routines change, and sometimes that’s just how life goes. In truth, I feel like I might have done more reading than I ever have before, just not the kind that builds up my library. I think I’ve done enough yammering, so let’s move on to the list!

Rating: 1/5 stars

Favorites in: bold

Classics:

  1.  Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen 4
  2. Napoleon of Notting Hill, by G.K. Chesterton 3
  3. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury 5
  4. The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens 4
  5. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens 5

 

Non-Fiction:

  1. Structuring Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland 5
  2. Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass, by Harold Gatty 4
  3. The Creator and The Cosmos, by Hugh Ross 5
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading, by Anne Bogel 5
  5. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau 4

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:

  1.  The Dark Between, by Sonia Gensler 2
  2.  Dune, by Frank Herbert 3
  3.  The Fork The Witch and The Worm, by Christopher Paolini 5
  4.  Skyward, by Brandon Sanderson 5
  5.  Flashback, by Shannon Messenger 4
  6.  The Year of The Griffon, by Diana Wynne Jones 4
  7.  The Raven Boys, by Maggie Steifvater 4
  8.  Itachi’s Story: Daylight, by Takashi Yano & Masashi Kishimoto 2
  9.  Romanov, by Nadine Brandes 5
  10.  The Silent Corner, by Dean Koontz 4
  11.  Wicked Fox, by Kat Cho 4
  12.  The Expeditioners, by S.S. Taylor 1
  13.  Shadow Keeper, by Hope Ann 5
  14. Healers Bane, by Hope Ann 5
  15.  The Merlin Conspiracy, by Diana Wynne Jones 5

Total: 25

There it is folks. No surprise that I read mostly fantasy, but I did try to break away now and then, and pick up a classic or something non-fiction.

And Speaking of non-fiction, one of my favorite reads was, The Creator and the Cosmos, by Hugh Ross. If you find the cosmos to be utterly fascinating, and amazing, I highly recommend this book. Back in the day I studied a bit of astronomy, and ever since I’ve grown a deep appreciation for space. This book offers an in depth look at the creation of the universe, from a biblical perspective, and I found it beautiful to learn of the exquisite design and attention that went into our Universe. Though some of it was over my head, I admit, I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Also, if you enjoy reading books, on the very topic of reading, I think you’d like, I’d Rather Be Reading. It was a lot of fun to talk about all of the different things related to the life of a reader.

In the fiction realm, one of my favorites was, The Merlin Conspiracy. I never knew much about the original Merlin…and I still don’t! This book had nothing to do with the old Merlin, at all, but instead, wove a magical and chaotic tale, as only Diana Wynne Jones can. By the end of each Jones book I read, I’m left struck by the way she creates such wild stories, and yet ties them all up nicely in the end. Her style, and creativity is one that I greatly admire.

Secondly, I was pleasantly surprised by, The Fork The Witch and the Worm. The Inheritance Cycle, also by Paolini, is one of my all-time-favorites, and reading this book reminded me of the good old days, when I marathoned the series. It was nice to settle back into the land of Alagaësia, even if my favorite characters didn’t get a lot of screen time.

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So there you have it. How about you? Did you reach your reading goals in 2019? Did we read any of the same books? Leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

As always, thank you for reading,

Lady S

Posted in WORDS

Reviving Inspiration

Hello, friends! Sorry for vanishing on you, but I’m back now, and hope to be posting more regularly.

Let’s move on with today’s post:

20190818_203358Reviving Inspiration

As of late, writing has been taking up much of my time, and brain space. I don’t typically talk about my writing online, but I thought I’d open up a bit today, and offer a glimpse into my writing journey. At the time of this writing, my very first novel has been completed. *cheers & applause!* It may be a tangled mess that needs work, but at least I can say I’ve finished the thing!

It took a lot longer than expected to finish the draft, but I’ll allow myself some slack, since it was the first work of fiction I’ve completed in years.

You heard that right– years.

But let’s start at the beginning.

In my early teens, I realized that writing was something I really enjoyed. So naturally, I began to write short stories, one after another. And then… I stopped completely, for a good three years. For some reason I had lost interest; be it laziness, fear, life or just plain discouragement, I don’t know.

But then, a couple of years ago, (2017-ish) I felt compelled to take up the mantle once again. I dusted off my ol’ writer’s cap, and allowed the story ideas and creative juices to start flowing.  (Little did I know, I was in for a looong and bumpy road.) With this resurgence of inspiration, I tossed together a very vague plot, and jumped right into the first draft.

I wrote a few chapters, and was on a roll, until I realized that I had dug myself into a hole. Painted myself into the corner, was up the creek without a paddle… You can probably get the picture. It was a wreck, and I ended up abandoning it.

Going back to the drawing board, I came up with new characters, different plot, yet still the same old quandary. What I like to call, naivety. (Until recently, I was a pantser in the extreme; writing by the seat of my pants, as they say. It makes me cringe now, thinking back to my lack of forethought.)20190816_143215

After trying, and failing four times, I had to sit myself down, and have a serious discussion. I had to admit that I had no idea what I was doing. And no matter how much I pretended that I didn’t need to plot, I was W R O N G.

This fact was further cemented, after I read K.M. Weiland’s books, Outlining Your Novel, and Structuring Your Novel, (both of which I highly recommend). After combing through multiple articles from her website,(and Story Embers,) I made the executive decision to begin a proper plot. It was difficult and awkward at times, but gradually I became accustomed to the process.

Fast forward through a long and painful process, I’d written the first draft. It was most definitely not a future best-seller, but it was a real story, with a (somewhat) consistent pace, and (slightly) recognizable structure, and most importantly, it was complete!

It was the first story I had completed in several years, and my first novel, e v e r. Currently, I’m neck deep in the second draft, in the throes of editing, and revising. But dare I say, I’m actually enjoying it. Though I may moan and groan, I know this is a very necessary step in working towards a future in writing. Becoming an author does not happen overnight. (Am I just realizing this now?)

For so long, I felt that writing (and completing) a novel was too far-fetched to be a reality. You too, may feel that your goal is beyond your capabilities, but don’t ever give up. Persevere, and work hard because in time, it is possible to reach your goal. 20190816_142808

I’ve already started outlining my next project, which I can’t wait to start writing, but I’m holding myself back, until I have a solid structure to build my world upon. I still have much to learn, and in fact, I have more questions now than ever. But that’s okay. Taking the time to study and hone my skills, I feel more hopeful about the future. And I’m going to keep striving, working hard and pushing forward.

So write on my friends! And remember, if I can do it– you can too!

~~~

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found some small bit of inspiration in this post. And if you’re ever feeling discouraged, don’t forget that somewhere out there in that big wide world, there are others like you, (and me) who are struggling too. But through prayer, and hard work you can make it through!

Until next time,

Lady S

 

 

 

Posted in reading, WORDS

2018 Reading List, & Reflections

Here we are once again, at the start of a brand new year. A clean slate, if you will, filled with new possibilities, new adventures and uncertain, uncertainties. As the saying goes, time flies! And that statement rings truer still, at the closing of each year. We count down the days of the year, with ticks off the calendar, but when we finally reach its end, somehow, we are taken by surprise.

dsc002132018 was a decent year, as far as years go. It was the year I finally buckled down, and got back to writing seriously, (after squandering a couple years, with self-doubt, and undisciplined habits). While I didn’t complete an entire manuscript, I did come very close to finishing my longest writing project ever. I have no plans to pursue anything with the finished story, (or share it with any prying eyes, just yet), but I’ll be proud when I’m finished, and be able to say that I actually wrote a novel.

That’s a task that I can cross off my bucket list.

You might think I’m getting ahead of myself by saying this, but 2018 was also the year I started to feel old. Now my hair isn’t turning gray, and my joints aren’t giving out, mind you; but I had the odd realization that the days of my childhood are now officially, behind me, and that I am moving on to new goals, dreams and adventures. Strange and bittersweet, but it was definitely, a feeling that stood out to me last year.

One way I fell a little short, was in reaching my reading goals. I was hoping to read a minimum of forty books in 2018, but alas, only reached thirty five. I read some pleasant books, some challenging books, some downright boring books, and even a couple of simply terrible books. All in all, though, I feel like I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, which was another goal I had set for myself.

Now onto the list, shall we?

Note: To make things easy, my favorites are typed in bold.

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Stars 1-5

Non-Fiction

  1. Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland – 5
  2. The Maine Woods by Henry David Thoreau – 5
  3. Common Sense by Thomas Paine – 4
  4. Down the Garden Path by Beverley Nichols – 5
  5. What the Robin Knows by Jon Young – 2

Classics

  1. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien – 5
  2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll – 4
  3. The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – 4
  4. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare – 5
  5. A Daughter of the Land by Gene Stratton-Porter – 5
  6. Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie –
  7. The Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë – 5
  8. Meet Mr. Mulliner by P.G. Wodehouse – 3
  9. Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery – 4
  10. Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene – 3

Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Speculative

  1. The Lighthouse Land by Adrian McKinley – 2
  2. Enclave by Ann Aguirre – 4
  3. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson – 5
  4. Nightfall by Shannon Messenger – 4
  5. The Paradise Wars by Stephen R. Lawhead – 3
  6. The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer – 4
  7. The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer – 4
  8. Song of the Sword by Hope Ann – 5
  9. Alanna by Tamora Pierce – 5
  10. In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce – 4
  11. Fire and Hemlock Diana Wynne Jones – 3
  12. Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev – 2
  13. Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland – 3
  14. Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire – 3 
  15. Orphan’s Song By Gillian Bronte-Adams – 3
  16. Fawkes by Nadine Brandes – 4
  17. Little Brother by Corey Doctorow  – 3
  18. Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger – 2
  19. Gifts From the Sea by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock – 4
  20. The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson – 5

TOTAL: 35

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Thus concludes my reading adventures, for the year, two thousand and eighteen. As I said last year, (and the year before that, and the year before that…) I’m going to push myself harder to read more. I know that I have the ability to read larger quantities of books, it’s just gotten buried beneath inordinate amounts of laziness, technology, and dare I say, Korean dramas. There is a time and a place for everything, though, and I am determined to make more time for books, and reading this year.

~~~

How was your reading year in 2018?  Did you have any revelations, or epiphanies about life? What are your biggest plans for 2019? Leave me a comment, and let me know!

As always, thank you for reading,

Lady S

Posted in reading

Autumn Reads

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As the seasons change, when the days shorten and the nights get a little colder, I so look forward to reading. My spirit begins to crave the quiet evenings, when I can settle down with a cup of tea and a good story.

Now that the busy days of summer are coming to an end, that means I have a little less on my plate, and that allows me more time for reading. I’ve noticed that in the colder months, my taste in reading materials changes a bit; and now that it’s officially Autumn, I thought I’d share some of the books that have found their way onto my list this season.

The Maine Woods, by Henry David Thoreau

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Over the course of three years, and three trips, into the yet unknown regions of Maine, Thoreau gives an account of the whys, hows, and wonders of the woods, as he sees them.

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Fall, more so than Summer, is the time I find myself most curious, and in want of something involving nature. I’m not sure why exactly, but these types of stories really call to me, and The Maine Woods, in particular sounds like a perfect fit for the season.

Wildwood, by Colin Meloy

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After her brother is abducted by a murder of crows, Prue’s life is turned on its head. Prue, and her friend Curtis, must brave the Impassable Wilderness, or what the locals call, Wildwood. There they will uncover a secret world, full of darkness and mystics, and soon they’ll learn that their mission has become something much more than they first thought.

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I don’t know much about this book, but sometimes it’s fun going into a story without any presumptive ideas or notions. I was drawn to the beautiful, fascinating cover, and I really hope that this book will meet my expectations. I’m especially excited to start this story, because the cool, fall days/nights of October, always call for something a little strange and mysterious.

Emily of New Moon, L.M. Montgomery

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After the death of her father, Emily is placed in the care of her mother’s relatives. A stranger and outsider, the family isn’t thrilled with the new responsibility on their hands. But once settled, Emily becomes enchanted by New Moon Farm, and forms strong bonds with new friends, and soon her Aunt Elizabeth will wonder how they ever got along without her.

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Fall, and classics go hand-in-hand, in my opinion. I love classics any time of year, but when the weather cools, my first choice of reads is usually a classic of some sort. Anne of Green Gables, is one of my favorite stories ever, and since I’ve not read Emily yet, it’s just the right time to fix that. I’m especially curious to read this, because I’ve heard that Emily, was actually the author’s favorite character.

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, by Valerie Martin

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In 1857, a merchant ship was discovered off the shores of Spain, with her cargo still intact, but not a trace of her crew. The mystery sparked great interest for the struggling writer, Arthur Conan Doyle. After his story causes a sensation in America, it catches the attention of two very different journalists. As the two dive into the history of the vessel, and the families involved, a tragic story unfolds.

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When I stumbled across this book, the title and eerie cover, instantly grabbed my attention. After I skimmed the description, it was exactly the type of story I wanted to read this fall. Set in centuries past, and revolving around a spectral ship, appearing in the mist, well… I was all in.

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I kept the list short, because I know that there are going to be plenty of other shiny, new books that will inevitably, cross my path, and call for my attention. But for now, I’m going to make an effort to read these four books this fall. I’m really excited, and can’t wait to get started. Strangely too, it makes me immensely happy that all of these books have such lovely covers that compliment each other so well! Just an added bonus, I suppose.

What about you? What books are you most looking forward to reading this fall season? Leave me a comment down below, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

5 Classics I Did Not Enjoy

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I love classics. Many of my favorite stories were written a hundred, or more years ago. There is something special about the books written long ago, that can never be replicated in modern ones. You might read a dozen books written in modern times, and dislike more than half, whereas, if you read a dozen classic books, chances are, you will love nearly all of them.
That said, just because a book is labelled a ‘classic’ is not a guarantee that it will be as wonderful as you might expect. Below, I’ve made a list of just such books. I’m not going to say that I “disliked” them, but rather, I just “didn’t enjoy”.

1.The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde
I read The Picture of Dorian Gray, quite a while back, so I’m not sure, if I re-read it today if my opinion would be any different. But, from what I recall, this book was a strange read. The main theme of the story, in a nutshell, portrays the evils of greed, and vanity and how they can ensnare you; and that was definitely achieved. I read this book quickly, and was never bored while reading, but I must say that it was a relief when I finished it. This book really gives off a dark, disturbing, feeling of immorality, and evil; and I suppose, it being a classic, in gothic literature, that was to be expected. Nevertheless, reading through the events that transpired, left me feeling greatly uncomfortable. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this story, but I might give them fair warning beforehand. The feelings and emotions that it evoked in me, is what keeps me from regarding it as a favorite, though it was well written, and thought provoking.

2. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly
Frankenstein. There have been so many fascinating spinoffs, and legends inspired by this book, so I was very excited to read it. But, my excitement was not met within the story. Mostly, I was “disappointed” while reading this book, rather than “disliking” it. I felt a bit let down, that it wasn’t the scary and mysterious book I thought it would be. I felt bored many times, and the lengthly dialog and endless recounting of events, outweighed the more interesting parts.
Perhaps some of the issue was the frame of mind I was in, at the time I read it, I was traveling, and that may have had much to do with my lack of enjoyment.

3. Emma, by Jane Austen
Now, before the Jane Austen Police Force comes after me, here is your friendly warning: you may prefer to skip this section.
Like all of Austen’s works, it follows the life and adventures of a young woman, trying to figure out her future. I felt that the story was “spoiled” for me, by Emma, herself, who also, happens to be very “spoiled”. In nearly everything she did, she tragically, ruined the situation for someone else. And though her intentions may have been good, it doesn’t change the fact that she left a path of destruction behind her. In the end, she finally, recognizes some of her past mistakes, but that wasn’t quite enough to improve my view of her, or the book.
(I did like Mr. Knightley, though. The only character who had any sense!)

4. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
It saddens me terribly, to add this book to the list. But, I simply, can’t pretend that this was the best book I’ve ever read. Of course, the overarching story was still very enjoyable, but there were a few things that made the reading experience feel very tedious for me.
One of those few things was the very large number of songs in the book.
That may not sound like a big deal, but when there are three to four pages of one song appearing quite frequently…well, it’s just not fun. I suppose, one could simply skip the songs entirely but, to me, that felt like cheating, so I read through them all.  Even though I could barely keep my eyes open a few verses in.

5. Villette, by Charlotte Brontë
Now, for this particular book, I actually really did enjoy it, but I had one major issue with it. That issue was the French dialog. The story takes place in France, so as you might expect, there is quite a lot of French, spoken throughout. But, what you might not expect is the utter lack of translation. This wouldn’t be a problem if I spoke French, but unfortunately I do not, and I’m sure many others don’t either. If this only happened once or twice, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but there were times that I would miss out on entire conversations, and have very little clue as to what was being discussed. Many times I was left feeling confused and annoyed over missing out on some important piece of the story. So if you want to read Villette, it might be handy to have a French-English dictionary nearby. Or like me, you could just try to decipher the meanings of any words that might look slightly similar to something in English.

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There you have it. I’d like to think I’m not alone in my feelings toward [some] of these books.
Tell me what classics you’ve read that you have found to be somewhat, disappointing.
Or share below, how wrong you think I am for thinking such horrid thoughts about such grand works of fiction.

Thank you for reading, Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews

Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne

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Professor Otto Liedenbrock is an eccentric, and esteemed boffin, (person engaged in scientific research), of Hamburg, Germany. One day, he discovers a slip of paper, fallen from an old manuscript, written in an ancient runic code. Sure, that it will lead to an incredible discovery,  he stops at nothing until he cracks the code. When the message is revealed, Liedenbrock prepares to depart immediately to the destination mentioned.
Together with his unwilling, yet ambitious nephew, Axel, and indomitable guide, they make their way to Iceland, where the true journey will begin. Their travels will result in one of the most remarkable discoveries of the nineteenth century.

5/5 stars

This was the first Jules Verne book that I actually enjoyed AND finished. 
Written from Axel’s point of view, I was pleasantly surprised by his humorous, reluctant, and dramatic personality. The exchanges between uncle and nephew, were very silly and entertaining. There were many times that I found myself laughing out loud, or smiling, while reading.
Their relationship was reminiscent of the one between Sherlock, and Watson, from the BBC show Sherlock.
Professor Liedenbrock, with his strange ways, and wildly excited attention was much like that of Sherlock.
Counterbalanced by Axel, who is quick to point out the dangers, and risks, (though he is unfortunately ignored).  Yet he too, eventually finds himself as interested and invested in their schemes, as his uncle.  The pace did slow a bit in the second half of the book, but being that it was such a short read, it didn’t bother me.

If you haven’t read many classics, or are perhaps intimidated  by them, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, is a fun, and easy read.  A true classic filled with adventure, and discovery; you should definitely give it a try.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

The Mermaid’s Sister, by Carrie Anne Noble

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One, of them was delivered by a stork, another was delivered in a seashell, and a third, was found beneath an apple tree. Such is the story of the three orphans, that Auntie shares with Clara, Maren, and their best friend, O’Neill.
Clara, and her sister Maren, lead quiet lives in their cozy cottage on the secluded Llanfair Mountain. They spend their days frolicking in the woods, gathering herbs for Auntie’s potions, and awaiting the day that O’Neill returns from his travels.
But, when Clara, discovers shimmering scales growing beneath her sister’s skin, she soon realizes the terrible truth: Maren, is becoming a mermaid!
Not only that, if Maren doesn’t get to the ocean soon, she’ll die.

For the first time ever, Clara leaves home, with O’Neill, to take their mermaid girl to the sea.
Their travel is not without it’s struggles; along the way they have an encounter that threatens their very lives, and that of Maren’s, who grows weaker everyday.
Ensnared by nefarious traveling performers, Clara and O’Neill, must plan an escape, before it is too late.

4/5 stars

This was a very different story; simple, yet completely captivating. The first half was on the slower side, but I didn’t mind. I was drawn into the little cottage, in the quiet woods, and became acquainted with Clara, Maren, and Auntie.
But, before long, things took a dark turn, and with each chapter, the stakes began to rise.
I really enjoyed the simplicity of the novel. The author achieved an awesome story; not in a big, flashy, over the top way, but in a subtle, and profound way.
It portrayed the love, and sacrifices one makes for their family, despite the costs, (which is something many of us can relate to.)
If you are in the mood for something truly different or just feel like reading a good story, you might try, The Mermaid’s Sister.

Posted in Book Reviews

Into the Fire, by Kim Vandel

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Kate is an ordinary college freshman. The biggest concern in her life is passing her med-school exam…until the day she meets Nathan, who reveals to her the existence of the Guardians.
He tells her she has been chosen by God, and has been given a supernatural ability that she must use for the good of mankind.
Disbelief, and shock race through her. Yet, there is the permanent flame shaped mark etched onto her wrist; proving that she was indeed Chosen.
Kate now struggles with the challenge of living her normal life at home, and embracing the call of the Guardians.

5/5 stars

I first heard about, Into The Fire, after reading a review/interview with the author, Kim Vandel, (shoutout to Kingdom Pen), and I thought it sounded interesting.  I stashed it away mentally in my future “to be read” pile.
When the kindle version went on sale, I snatched it up and started reading right away!

It’s been a long time since a book kept me up late into the night like this one did; it grabbed me right from the start.
The characters were my favorite part of this story. Each one had a distinct, and unique personality, which made them feel real, and relatable; and really set them apart from a lot of other books I’ve read.

I found it refreshing that Kate did not fall into the “typical teenager” category. And while she’s not perfect, she didn’t infuriate me when she made mistakes.
I loved watching her become stronger, both mentally and physically; and how her friendships with everyone (especially Hassan) grew.
When Hassan was first introduced, I wasn’t sure what to make of him. He comes off as sulky, and sometimes rude. But learning about his past explained a lot of that, and developed his character arc.

Another character I enjoyed was Ty.
In many YA books, the main character’s sibling(s) are brushed off to the side, and don’t play much of a role in the story. Often they are cardboard-cutout characters. But Ty wasn’t like that.
I liked that he and Kate would hang out, and enjoy being in each others company, even though they also irritated one another. Which in truth, is how siblings usually feel.
Also speaking of Ty… that ending! Gah!

My only critique was the role God, played…..which was’t a big one.
The Guardians were chosen by God, yet He wasn’t mentioned much.
It seemed like in Kate’s circumstances, she should have been turning to God, for reassurance and strength, especially, when facing tough situations. That didn’t really happen, and I felt it was lacking.
(Perhaps, that’s how it was meant to be, leaving room to grow in the next book(s)?)

It can sometimes be hard to find Christian YA fiction, that’s not boring, has a good story, AND awesome characters. But Into The Fire had it all!
I very thoroughly, enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it.
It was a breath of fresh air in the YA genre, and it’s definitely one of the best books I read in 2016. The series could become one of my favorites once it’s finished.
I can’t wait to read, Among the Flames, next!

 

Posted in reading

2017 TBR

DSC_0551Before you ask, yes, I am aware that the year is halfway over, and yes, late is an understatement for the timing of this list; but I made one anyway.
I realized that there was a small, (yet intimidating), list of books that I am determined to read in the near future. Some of them have been sitting on my shelf for ages, and others are a bit newer, but I really want to read them. (Hopefully, in this century!) So I decided to stack them up and call it, my 2017 TBR.
These aren’t the most leisurely books to read, but I’m going to try my hardest to read them by the end of the year. (Realistically, I may not….. but if I do, I’ll probably throw myself a party or something)
Some of you may think, “Meh, I could read those in my sleep!” And some of you may think I’m out of my mind! Especially, considering the amount of books I’ve managed to read thus far… well…this could seem a bit far-fetched. But, we shall have to wait and see!
Now, on to the list:

DSC_05591.Food Forensics, Mike Adams

“What’s really in your food?” Begs the question in this book.
The Health Ranger, Mike Adams, takes us inside his laboratory, to conduct extensive    research on the quality, and contents of the foods, and supplements we consume daily.
Not much is known, and still more is hidden from the publics’ knowledge about the  health benefits, and toxins that may be lurking in our foods.

I can’t wait to delve into the science, and information this book contains.

 2. Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas 

The account of a pastor-turned-spy, and eventually martyr, during one of the darkest         periods of human history. In the face of unspeakable evil, Bonhoeffer was one of the few heroes who sacrificed everything in order to save countless lives, in the midst of the vile reign of The Third Reich.
In this day and age, we can learn much from the faith, of one so committed to following God’s will, and fighting against the evil that thrives in this world.

3. Endurance, Alfred Lansing

In August of 1914, explorer Earnest Shackleton, and his crew board the Endurance, and set off on an impossible mission to travel to Antarctica, and travel across uncharted seas on foot.
This is a true story of survival, in the harrowing events that the crew of the Endurance withstood. Overcoming unspeakable odds, in one of the most hostile environments on the world.

I’d known about this book for a while, and I was lucky enough to find it in my local thrift store; so now that I own it, I’m excited to get into it.

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4. Villette, Charlotte Bronte

Lucy Snowe is a leaf blowing in the wind.
Not a relative to speak of, she struggles to find a place in the world she can call home.
On a whim, she travels to France, and ends up at a girls boarding-school in a town called, Villette.
There, she comes into the presence of old, and new friends, and begins to build a new life.

I only recently heard about this book online, and was surprised to find it sitting on a bookshelf in my house!

5. Journey to The Center of The Earth, Jules Verne

Professor Liedenbrock, along with a small team, leads an expedition through a secret tunnel, on a journey deep into the center of the Earth.
An old classic, filled with adventure, and discovery.

I’ve wanted to read this book for a long while, but only recently, was I able to get my hands on a copy. (Thanks to my grandpa, for giving away a whole bunch of books!)

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6. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury

A modern classic; this tells of a time when Halloween comes early; blown in by the strange and unsettling, Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show.
Drawn in by the novelty, and excitement, two boys soon realize that there is something sinister going on, and indeed, Something Wicked This Way Comes.

I had forgotten about this book for the longest time. All year it’s been waiting around for me, so I am finally going to take the time to actually read it.

7. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin

This is the tale of the greatest Sorcerer in all of Earthsea.
He was once called Sparrowhawk, a young and reckless wizard, who unleashed terrible darkness upon the world. We follow him through the tests, and trials he experiences, to try to restore balance to the world.

(This too, has been collecting dust on my shelf, and it’s high-time I read it!)

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8. The Return of the King, J. R. R. Tolkien

The raging battle against the the dark forces of Mordor, comes to an epic conclusion in this final tale. We will learn the ultimate fates for, Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the rest, in their last battle to overcome the Dark Lord, once and for all.

For the past three years, I have been slowly making my way through this series. Starting with, The Hobbit, and now ending with, The Return of the King, I’m going to be happy that I have completed the story, but a little sad too. The good news is that I can always re-read them if I want to!

9. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien

Raise your hand if you have never heard of this book. (*raises hand*)
I’m either, way out of the loop, or this book doesn’t get much attention….but I digress.
Set far in the past, (long before Bilbo, or Gandalf), we get a glimpse of the history of Middle-earth, the creation of the world, the great battle between Light and Darkness, and insight into the likes of Elrond and Galadriel. All, are detailed in this book, setting the stage for the Hobbits, the Orcs, and the Dwarfs, that are yet to come.

So there you have it…my TBR, (To Be Read), for 2017. These nine books are going to be my top priority for the rest of the year…(in addition to whatever else may come across my night-stand).

What are some books that you really want to read this year?