Posted in Book Reviews, reading

2021 – A Year in Books

Hey friends! We have arrived again at the end of another reading year, where we look back at all the of the wonderful worlds, and words, that crossed our paths in 2021. This was a much better reading year for me, than the past couple of years have been. It felt so good to get back to the joy of reading and immerse myself in so many amazing story worlds. So without further ado, it’s time to share my completed reading list for 2021. Let’s see how I did.

Rating: 1-5 stars (Favorites in bold.)

Classics:

  1. The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux – 5
  2. Dracula, by Bram Stoker – 5
  3. The Epic of Gilgamesh – 4
  4. The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery – 5
  5. Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy – 4
  6. Old Herbaceous, by Reginald Arkell – 4
  7. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson – 4

Non-Fiction:

  1. Bach Flower Therapies, by Mechthild Scheffer – 5
  2. A Different Shade of Green, by Gordon Wilson – 4
  3. The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron – 5
  4. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben – 4
  5. The Successful Author Mindset, by Joanna Penn – 5
  6. Successful Self-Publishing, by Joanna Penn – 5
  7. As Far As You Can Go Without a Passport, by Tom Bodett – 5
  8. The Unseen Realm, by Michael S. Heiser – 5

Fiction:

  1. Dust, by Kara Swanson – 4
  2. Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi – 4
  3. Dearest Josephine, by Caroline George – 5
  4. Hood, Stephen R. Lawhead – 5
  5. Greenglass House, by Kate Milford – 3
  6. The Forest of Wool and Steal, by Natsu Miyashita – 5
  7. Storming, by K.M. Weiland – 5
  8. Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (reread) – 5
  9. Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer (reread) – 5
  10. The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater – 4
  11. Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater – 4
  12. The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater – 4
  13. Dark Souls, by Paula Morris – 3
  14. The Rise of Kyoshi, by F. C. Yee & Michael Dante DiMartino – 3
  15. The Songkiller’s Symphony, by Daeus Lamb – 4
  16. At Night I Become a Monster, by Yoru Sumino – 5
  17. The Alchemyst, by Michael Scott – 3
  18. Six Crimson Cranes, by Elizabeth Lim – 5
  19. An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson – 4
  20. Liar, Liar, You Are Hired, by Devin Joubert – 4
  21. Ignite, by Jenna Terese – 4
  22. Knight from the Ashes, by Shari L. Tapscott, and Jake Andrews – 5

Total: 37

Q & A Time.

Q: What was the biggest book you read in 2021?

A: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, coming in at 480 pages. This year I didn’t tackle anything over 500 pages. It wasn’t intentional, and I didn’t even realize until now.

Q: What was the shortest book you read in 2021?

A: Liar, Liar, You are Hired, by Devin Joubert. Sitting at 90 pages, this is actually the first part in an ongoing serial novel.

Q: What was the most surprising book you read in 2021?

A: I Would have to say, Hood, by Stephen R. Lawhead. This book surprised me in a number of ways. I thought it was a fantasy novel, so I was anticipating some form of magic, but as I reached the end of the book, there wasn’t an ounce of magic among any of the pages. It turned out to be more of a historical fiction, and I actually learned a lot about a time in history I knew very little about.

Q: What was the most disappointing book of 2021?

A: There were a few books I found rather disappointing this year, but if I had to choose one, it would be, Greenglass House, by Kate Milford. This book is quite popular in the book-community, so I felt let down when I finally read it. For a middle-grade book, I thought it was a little boring, and felt like it was written for an older audience despite being labelled for kids. It could have been a good story, but by the end of the book, it just felt dull to me.

Q: What book left the biggest impact on you?

A: Definitely, The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron. I read this collection of essays slowly throughout the year. Each time I read it, I found a new little nugget of truth, or inspiration to take away. Her writing felt like a hug and encouragement to a struggling writer. At times the author put me off by some vulgar references, and I considered giving up on it, but I’m so glad that I pushed through. I think this is a book I will return to again.

Q: What was your favorite book from 2021?

A: I would have said my favorite book from 2021 was The Blue Castle, but since I already raved about that book in another blog post, I’ll choose a different one. And since I also ranted about how much I loved The Forest of Wool and Steal, in the same post, I won’t choose that one either. I read a lot of books that I loved this year, but for the sake of this post, I’ll choose just one, and that is, Dearest Josephine by Caroline George.

I’m not quite sure how to label this book. Contemporary? Historical Fiction? I suppose the genre doesn’t matter, when it’s a book you really love. Dearest Josephine is told through letters, emails, and a shifting time-line that alternates between Josie De Clare, a girl from 2021, and Elias Roch, a boy from the year 1821. Dearest Josephine is about two broken-hearted souls that become strangely connected to one another, though separated by a span of 200 years. It’s a rare thing when a story can make you feel something so bittersweet, and heartfelt. I came away from this story with so many emotions, and warm feelings. It’s one of those books that after you’ve finished reading it, you just have to sit still for a moment, and appreciate all the little details that made you adore it so much.

Aside from that, my honorable mentions would have to be, At Night I Become a Monster, by Yoru Sumino. A fascinating story about a boy who becomes a monster when night falls, and a classroom overshadowed by bullying.

I was also completely blown away by Dracula, a classic that had been on my list for quite some time. I was not prepared for such a deep, and impactful story. This is another book I want to read again, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything the first time around. The memory of this story still haunts me.

In conclusion, I read a lot of great books, and found some that have become my forever favorites. I realized this year, that reading is a give and take activity. In years past, I wasn’t giving it enough time or attention, and so my attitude towards reading reflected that. This year, I made an effort to make more time for reading, and be very intentional about it, and in the end, I enjoyed it all the more.

9 Reading ideas in 2021 | book gif, animation, reading gif

I hope you read lots of great books this year, and I hope you read even more next year. What was your favorite book from 2021? Tell me a little about your year in books, I’d love to chat with you.

Happy reading,

Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews

The Songkiller’s Symphony – A Review

Hello, everyone! Today I have a special book review for you. I was fortunate enough to receive an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of the first book in a brand new epic fantasy series by author, Daeus Lamb. I received the novel early, in exchange for a review with my honest thoughts and opinions. I’m excited to talk about this book, so let’s get started.

Official Blurb:

You may hate me when this ends. For the crimes I committed. For crimes I couldn’t dare commit. I have seen the face of God a thousand times and buckled beneath his blows. But I made him bleed as He bled my heart.

I am a hero. They say.

Have you ever run in terror from your perfect past?

Do you yearn for redemption for the time you failed your dying mother? Will you sever immortal evil’s head to get it?

Are your dreams filled with damnation, or has the offer of a free wish broken your soul?

No?

Then let me tell you my story. Venturing with a world-weary bard, a battle-hungry ranger, and a best friend who soon doubted me, I set off to destroy the Songkiller. It is only in looking back that I perceive the devilry of the song that made us fools. The monsters we fought bore our faces.

My Review:

The first thing that struck me, was how this story hit the ground from the first page, and kicked into high-gear. The cast of characters were as wide, and as varied as the differing lands, and cultures that were explored. In particular, I thought the unique race of the Ublideck’s, and the swampy environments they inhabited were an interesting, and refreshing change from the typical dwarves, and elves most often seen in fantasy novels.

The story begins with our main character Exton, during a secretive meeting with his father, and a legendary, if somewhat mystical bard. Bards in this world are something similar to a wizard–a person with special abilities–and in this story, that ability is called “Songweaving”. Exton’s two closest friends arrive, and they are presented with an incredible challenge, and something Exton has been waiting for his entire life. Along with his two companions, Exton agrees to the daunting task and sets off with the bard on a dangerous journey, bringing them to the brink of death, and their very sanity.

Ventar the bard, was probably my favorite character. I admired his straightforward, rational way of thinking, and I was fascinated by his past and his role as a bard. I only wish we had spent a little more time exploring the magic system–the Songworld–and how the act of Songweaving worked. I had a general understanding of the system, but a bit more of an explanation would have been nice.

In contrast, Exton, our main character, was a wild card–young, passionate, and a little reckless. He tended to be over-confident which led him into some difficult situations, but he did persevere despite the setbacks. By the end of the book, it was clear that he still had much to learn, and his true journey was only beginning.

The Songkiller’s Symphony boasts an incredibly large cast of characters and alternating points of view. At times that made it difficult for me to navigate through the story. New POVs appeared throughout the book, and while they each shared an important detail, I wasn’t thrilled when I had to acquaint myself with so many new characters.

I enjoyed this story, and writing style, but I never felt a real connection to the characters. I felt that I didn’t have the chance to really settle in, and get to know the characters as much as I would have liked. The fast pace kept things interesting, but I missed having some slower moments with the main characters instead of hopping around between POVs.

This story tackled some difficult topics, like morality and war, and they were handled well and didn’t avoid the ugly consequences. The Songkiller’s Symphony, is a promising start to the series, and I’m curious to see where the characters will find themselves next. Lastly, I’ll leave you with a few lines from the book which perfectly capture the essence of this story.

“Do not lose your light, nor let your heart run dry. Run wild, but not too far. Stop before you can never regain your innocence. Don’t touch the night too closely, or it will consume you.”

Books Open Reading - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

You can check find out more on Daeus’ website: www.thescratchingquill.com

And you can purchase this book online now, wherever books are sold.

ebooks

Physical copies

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

Books You’ve Never Heard of – New Titles for Your TBR

Greetings friends. I hope this entry finds you well, in body and spirit. I’m doing quite well, thank you. Fall has arrived, and I’m very happy about it. Most days are still in the upper 90s, but the morning’s and evening’s are so dusky and crisp, and I’m loving them. But I’m not here to talk about the weather (*again), I’m here to talk about books–my other favorite topic of discussion. It’s about that time when readers all over the world start to rummage around, and squirrel up some juicy reads for the remainder of the year. And since we are all eternally, foraging for good books to add to our lists, I thought it would be fun to share a few books that you may not have heard of before. In the book world there are many books circulated that nearly everyone has read, or has plans to read. But there is a vast library of hidden gems out there, and maybe your new favorite book is still waiting for you to find it. Today, I’m sharing a few books that you may not have heard of, that I really enjoyed, and that you might enjoy as well.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm, by Dianna Wynne Jones (Middle-Grade Fantasy)

I’ve mentioned Dianna Wynne Jones on my blog many times before, since she is one of my favorite authors. But apart from Howl’s Moving Castle, not many of her other books get much attention, which is a shame because she’s written a lot of books. One book that I truly adored was, The Dark Lord of Derkholm. This is a fantasy book, with a premise that’s almost too convoluted to describe. It takes place in the same universe as all her other works–which consist of many different worlds. In this novel, there is an event which takes place each year, where those from across the worlds can take part in a Pilgrim Party–an all expenses paid trip to a neighboring world where “pilgrims” a.k.a. “tourists” can take part in a rehearsed adventure. These so-called pilgrims get to defeat dark lords, and dragons, and experience a “real” adventure. And for this year’s event, Derk, and his eccentric family are chosen to host it. We follow our main characters as they endeavor to put on the show of a lifetime, and create a convincing experience for the good paying tourists. The book is hilarious and completely enthralling.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë (Classic Literature)

We are all familiar with the Brontë sisters, and their widely acclaimed books, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights–but you don’t often hear about the third sister, Anne. If you haven’t heard about this book, I’d just like to say that in my humble opinion, the The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, far surpasses the two aforementioned, both in plot and writing style. Wildfell Hall, centers around a reclusive young woman, and her son, and their mysterious past. When a young gentlemen takes a liking to the woman, he makes it his goal to befriend her, and find the truth about the unfortunate events that lead her to the quiet, secluded cliff-side town. This is one of the most honest, and poignant works of fiction from the 18th century, I’ve ever read.

Blur, by Steven James (YA Thriller)

Occasionally, I like to pick up a story in the thriller, or paranormal genre. I read this book on a whim, when I wanted something gripping and dark, and I was pleasantly surprised by the story. It takes place in a small, quiet town in Wisconsin, where the body of a teen girl is discovered. The death is ruled an accident, but the main character Daniel, soon comes to believe that may not be true after all. He tries to get to the bottom of the case, while strange and unexplainable things begin to happen in his personal life. For anyone interested in a chilling, and mysterious story you might want to pick this book up. Oh, and Blur, is the first book in a trilogy, but I didn’t really like the other two books as much as I liked the first.

The Forest of Wool and Steel, by Natsu Miyashita (Contemporary, Slice of Life)

This year I’ve been delving into some Japanese Fiction. I decided to pick up The Forest of Wool and Steel, and the title is what initially drew me to this story, but I then stayed for the characters. This story is about a young piano tuner, apprenticing at a piano shop in a small mountain village. The main character Tomura, was someone I really related to in many ways. The book managed to make the challenges and difficulties he faced while pursuing his dream, somehow feel like my own struggles in life. This is a heartwarming and true to life story about a young man forging a path for himself, while walking in the footsteps of great teachers.

The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery (Classic Literature)

As a self-professed member of the Lucy-Maud-Montgomery-Fan-Club, you can imagine my surprise when I found this book, while doing some online book shopping. I knew Miss Montgomery wrote other books besides her famous Anne series, but somehow, The Blue Castle slipped by my radar. As soon as I read the title, I immediately, ordered the book. I might be the only one living in ignorance of this book, but in case you too have not heard of it, don’t worry, I just fixed that problem. It was interesting to read a more modern book by L.M. Montgomery, and a story very unlike that of Anne of Green Gables, or Emily of New Moon. Our main character, Valency, is only months away from turning thirty when she receives shocking information that spurs her to break free from her overbearing, and stifling family. Much to the chagrin of several aunts, uncles, and cousins, Valency casts public opinion aside, as she chooses to live the life of her dreams. This is probably my favorite read of the year, and is one of those books I know I’m going to want to read over and over again. So if you’re in the market for something humorous, uplifting, and heartfelt, I think this is just the book you’re looking for.

Book Sticker for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Thus concludes my list of lesser-known masterpieces. Searching for hidden gems in the book world is one of my favorite hobbies, and something I intentionally seek out. The mainstream book market dominates nearly all of social media, yet when you take the time to find books outside of that realm, you may be pleasantly surprised by the treasures that are out there.

Tell me, have you heard of any of these books before? What are some of your favorite lesser-known reads? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

To Read or Not to Reread – 5 Books I’d Like to Read Again

Are you a re-reader? That wasn’t a stutter, I’m curious to know if you read books over again. There are so many books in the world, and even more are getting published every day. Most of us have an ever-growing list of dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of books we’d like to read in our life-time, so it probably sounds counter-productive to go back and re-read a book. I don’t often allow myself the pleasure of a good re-read, but a good book is a good book and should be worth re-reading shouldn’t it? It’s like sitting in that most comfortable chair, in your favorite corner, with a warm cup of tea and an old friend to chat with. So I gathered up a few books that I read years ago, that I feel are due for a re-read.

1. Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones

I consider this one of my favorite books, though, I confess, I can hardly remember the plot line. I’ve seen the Miyazaki film dozens of times, and the two have somewhat blurred together in my memory. The book, and Studio Ghibili adaptation are quite different, and I feel like I underappreciated the book when I first read it a few years ago. Dianna Wynne Jones fills her stories with so many unique, and funky details, it’s sometimes hard to take it all in. And since Dianna Wynne Jones is one of my favorite authors, and Howl’s Moving Castle is one of her most legendary works, I must give it a proper re-read.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’m not exactly part of the Austen fan club, but I have read most of her books. Some I enjoyed, others, not so much. One that I did enjoy, as far as can I remember, was Pride and Prejudice. It’s been, seven…? eight…? maybe even nine…? years since I read this book, and all that I can remember is a certain Mr. Wickham dashing off with a certain daft younger sister. I know that is but a smidgen of what occurs in this book, and not at all the main plot, but for some reason that is what stuck in my memory. I’m terrible at remembering what happens in books after I finish them, which is probably why I like re-reading, because it’s almost as if I’m reading them for the first time…again! I’m hoping that that is the case with this book. I’d love to dive in with fresh eyes, and experience the story all over again. And since this book is so highly acclaimed, I feel it deserves closer look.

3. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

Kudos to anyone out there who knew that C.S. Lewis also wrote a sci-fi series. I wasn’t aware of that fact, until I chanced upon the series while sifting through the bookshelves at a thrift store. But I digress… where was I? This book is yet another case of, ‘I’m sure I read that book, I’m just not sure what happened’. This book too, went by rather under appreciated by my youthful brain. What remains of my foggy memory are strange, gorilla-like creatures, on this far-out planet, (and that much is evident by the cover). Anyway, I’d really like to read this story again with a more mature perspective.

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

First off, a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella definitely deserves to be read. Second of all, The Lunar Chronicles is probably one of my favorite series ever. I have so many fond memories of reading this series, and waiting eagerly for each release. I remember reading each book as fast as I could, so that I could pass them on to my sisters after I’d finished, (I always insisted on reading them first). I want to read these books again, simply because I miss them. I miss the world, and all of the colorful characters, the moon castles, cyborgs, lonely satellites, a certain prince, and so much more. One of my sisters and I have been talking about re-reading Cinder for a while now, and I think the time has finally come.

5. The Blood Race by K.A. Emmons

What should I say about this book? The premise is so unique, and I’ve never read anything else like it. I really enjoyed this story and all of the deep, gut-wrenching moments, I absolutely couldn’t wait to read the second book. But for some reason, I never got around to it. I’m not sure what held me up for so long, since it’s still high up on my to be read list. So before I strike up part two of this series, I feel that I should go back and reorient myself with the first book. This is an indie published novel, which is awesome, so I want to continue my support of the rest of the series.

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There are so many more books I’d like add to this list but I don’t want to keep you here all day. For me, re-reading books is a lot of fun, and its kind of like catching up with that old friend, taking a trip down memory lane, back to some of my favorite worlds, and favorite characters. There are certain books that I could read over and over again, but I chose a few books that I haven’t read in a long while, and that I don’t ever want to forget about.

What about you? Do you ever re-read books? What are some books that you’d like to read all over again?

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

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 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.

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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 Adventure, reading, WORDS

Get-To-Know-Me-Tag: Writer’s Edition

I have another tag to bring you all today!

This tag was created by Savannah Grace, and I was kindly tagged by my friends, Catwing, and Mariposa, and Aberdeen, over at Dino’s Digest. I may be the last person in the blogosphere to complete this tag, but I’m going to fix that right now.

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You might not know this, but in addition to being a writer of blogs, I’m also a writer of stories. Today I’m going to be answering some of the burning questions that you never knew you wanted to know about me.

Beginning with:

Vital Stats and Appearance 

Name:   You’ve probably guessed that one by now.

Nickname:   We’ll go with, Lady S.

Birthday:   Sometime in the spring. You may even call me a spring chicken! But that would  be stretching it.

Hair color/Length:   Dark brown, just above the shoulder.

Piercings/Tattoos:   Pierced ears, and a full sleeve of tattoos. In color. Just kidding. My ears aren’t actually pierced.

Righty/Lefty:   Righty

Ethnicity:   American, will suffice.

Firsts

Fist Novel Written:   Um…I’m still writing it.

First Novel Completed:   Haven’t completed any yet. Started a few, but they were all flops. None had names.

Award for Writing:   None currently.

First Publication:   Once upon a time, in an e-magazine far away, (RIP, Kingdom Pen) a short poem of mine was published. That is still the most crowning achievement of my writing career to date.

Conferences:   Conferences? Don’t you have to talk to, *shudders* people, at those things?

Query/Pitch:   At this moment in time, I don’t have one, thankfully.1020181211

Favorites

Novel (that you wrote):   Am I allowed to say, the one that I haven’t written yet? Because it’s definitely that one.

Genre:   A couple of years ago I would have said, fantasy. But these days, my horizon has broadened a little, to places such as, speculative, classics, and even into non-fiction.

Author:   The first that comes to mind, would be Diana Wynne Jones, for her epic fantasies, and of course, Howl’s Moving Castle. But also Gene Stratton-Porter, for the way she blends her love of story, with her love of nature, in a way that I can only dream of coming close to.

Writing Music:   Hmm… That changes pretty frequently. But lately it’s been anything from the YouTube channel, Smyang, his piano covers are lovely.

Writing Snack/Drink:   I don’t really eat while I write, but if I do, it’s usually something unhealthy. (Hot Cheetos, preferably, but then my keyboard suffers greatly!) On the healthier side of the street, apple slices are handy, and thankfully not very messy.

Movie:   I’ve never had one movie that I’d call my ultimate favorite. So I’m just going to choose one that I have enjoyed, and that maybe you would too. And that movie is called, A Letter to Momo. It’s a movie with a unique storyline, accompanied by a cast of eclectic, and very memorable characters.

Writing Memory:   I don’t think I have any special memories, but if I had to pick, it would probably be when I wrote my first, decent story and got into such a rhythm that I was able to crank out seven pages in one sitting. (Being somewhat of a pantser, that’s quite a lot for me!)

Childhood Book:   Now that’s a pretty a tough question but, The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, is definitely a prominent one in my memory. Then there’s, The Tail of Emily Windsnap, by Liz Kessler. Those books were the mermaid stories of my childhood dreams.

Currently

Reading:   Orphans Song, by Gillian Bronte Adams, and also, What the Robin Knows, by Jon Young. (So far, the Robin doesn’t know anything very interesting. Wouldn’t recommend.)

Writing:   This. While procrastinating and not finishing my current writing project. (A.K.A., my first actual novel)

Listening To:   The wind howling through the trees, and rattling down the chimney pipe beside me. It’s quite a blustery day and rather rotten.

Watching:   Nothing at the moment, as I’m taking a short respite from TV shows. I’ve fallen very far, and very deep into the pit that is, K-Drama’s. After growing tired of nearly all Western entertainment, I had to travel all the way to Korea, (through the internet, of course) to find something interesting. But it’s a dangerous road to travel my friends, be forewarned.

Learning:   I’m actually attempting to re-teach myself piano. Not formally or anything, but since I played several years ago, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to jump back in. (…I was wrong)

Future

Want to be Published:   Yes, I think so.

Traditional or Indie:   That’s something I’ve been contemplating, but for now, I’m going to keep my options open.

Wildest Goal:   Get published! Or maybe just travel to, Japan. Though I’m not sure which one is more unlikely.  😉

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There you have it. I wonder if you feel like you know me just a little more now?

Thanks again, to Dino’s Digest, and Catwing, for tagging me! I had a lot of fun answering these questions, and I hope you had fun reading them, too.

And since I don’t have anyone to tag, I’m presenting the opportunity to all of you, if you’d like, to consider yourself tagged, or even leave your answers in a comment down below. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks 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 reading, WORDS

The Books I Read In 2017

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Here we are at the close of yet another year.
Time literally feels like it’s flying by in a high-speeding rocket, and I can barely hold on to  the days! That may sound a bit dramatic, but I’m sure we all feel the same, don’t we?

Anyway, reading-wise, this (past) year went fairly well. Though I only read four more books than I did in 2016, I’m still pretty happy that I managed to pull that off!
I feel like I branched out a bit, and read genres that were a bit unusual for me, which I’m pretty proud of. I also crossed off six books from the nine I had on my TBR. That too, was an accomplishment. (I may have unconsciously, avoided the more intimidating ones, *wink, wink.)
In addition, I read a lot of really good books that I very much enjoyed. Even a few that I absolutely LOVED! I’ll share those with you at another time, so keep an eye out for a future post about them.
Without further ado…here is my complete list of books read in 2017:

Ratings 1/5 stars

CLASSICS
1. The Inheritance, by Louisa May Alcott – 4
2. The Wind in The Willows, by Kenneth Grahame – 4
3. Villette, by Charlotte Bronte – 4
4. Michale O’Halloran, by Gene Stratton-Porter – 4
5. Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne – 5
6. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury – 5
7. The Shepherd of Bethlehem, by A.L.O.E. – 4
8. Animal Farm, by George Orwell – 5
9. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee – 5

NON-FICTION
1. Food Forensics, by Mike Adams – 5
2. A Buzz in the Meadow, by Dave Goulson – 4
3. Endurance, by Alfred Lansing – 5
4. Ghosts in the Fog, by Samantha Seiple – 3

PARANORMAL/MYSTERY/HORROR/THRILLER
1. House of Furies, by Madeilne Roux – 2
2. The Betrayal, by R.L. Stine – 3
3. The Secret, by R.L. Stine – 3
4. The Burning, by R.L. Stine – 3
5. And Then She was Gone, by Christopher Greyson – 4
6. Thornhill, by Pam Smy – 4
7. Dream House, by Marzia Bisognin – 2

HISTORICAL FICTION
1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith – 4
2. Maud, by Melanie J. Fishbane – 4

FANTASY
1. Heartless, by Marissa Meyer – 4
2. Mortal Song, by Megan Crewe – 3
3. The Mermaid’s Sister, by Carrie Anne Noble – 4
4. The Reader, by Traci Chee – 4
5. Green Ember, by S.D. Smith – 3
6. Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo – 4
7. Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo – 4
8. Seeds of Discovery, by Breeana Puttroff – 3
9. Roots of Insight, by Breeana Puttroff – 3
10. Falling Kingdoms, by Morgan Rhodes – 2
11. Rose of the Oath, by Hope Ann – 4
12. A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin – 3
13. Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson – 5
14. Among the Flames, by Kim Vandel – 5
15. Seeker, by Arwen Elys Dayton – 3
16. Blood Race, by K.A. Emmons – 5
17. Dark Lord of Derkholm, by Diana Wynne Jones – 5
18. Caraval, by Stephanie Garber – 4
19. Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale – 5

TOTAL: 41

There it is, folks!
Again, wouldn’t call it a “grand” total, but rather a decent one, I suppose.
I usually try not to end on an odd number, (my OCD is showing…) but it couldn’t be helped this time. I’m hoping this year will be better, as I’m aiming for fifty books, but don’t quote me on that. My personal best was seventy books in a year, and maybe some day I’ll be able to top that, but I don’t think that will happen very soon.
As far as goals go, I want to read more non-fiction, you know, educational books. *shudder*
I realized that there are some really great non-fiction books out there, I just have to find the right ones. And along with that, I’m going to continue on as I did last year, and try to read a wider range of genres/styles.

So tell me, did you meet your reading goals last year?
What are your goals for this year?
Did we read any of the same books in 2017?
Please share your comments below.