Posted in life

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Too

Hello friends, I hope you’ve been well. I realize I’ve been absent for quite some time, and I’m terribly sorry to have left you waiting. My usual quiet, and calm life has been anything but, as of late. I could say I’ve been “busy”, and move on, but I thought it would be better to have a little catch-up, instead.

Spring is a very full time of year for me, because that is when the greenhouse I work for opens up to the public. Most of the year we all work quietly behind the scenes, carefully planning and preparing flowers, and vegetable plants for the growing season. But all of that changes when opening day arrives, and my job shifts from planting, to working retail— an entirely different ballgame. Instead of plants flying from my hands, it’s now numbers, and totals, and answering all kinds of questions from customers. I’m really grateful for my job and I have been there for many years. My days are filled with very hard work, beautiful flowers and much sunshine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Before our official opening day at the greenhouse, my sisters and I squeezed in a four day trip, for a very special, and highly anticipated event, which I’ll tell you about in another post. I don’t think I have to explain to you the stress level of travel planning and booking reservations and all that sort of stuff. It somehow has the ability to absorb all of your time, and drain you of all your mental capacity to think of anything else in the universe. Thankfully though, that is all behind me now, and I am getting settled back into daily living. It is the combination of work, and travel, and home responsibilities that has barely given me the time to brush my teeth at night before I literally fall into bed (let alone write a blog post). And for that, I apologize.

Needless to say, I haven’t been doing much reading either. Funnily though, a recent power outage prompted me to finally sit down and make some progress on my current read, The Summer We Forgot, by Caroline George. I’m really enjoying the story so far, and it kept me up till 1 a.m. last night because I just couldn’t put it down. I’m also in the middle of The Mysterious Benedict Society, which I feel like everyone and their brother has read but me. (My own nephew even told me I had to read it!) It’s a super quirky and fun mystery, and I can’t wait to get back to it and find out how it ends.

Since we’re on the topic of good-reads, my birthday passed a few days ago, and I was thrilled to have received so many new books as gifts! I worked a double shift on my birthday, but I was still able to celebrate with my family at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, and open presents with so many BOOKS in them. Most of the books are cozy British mysteries, which I can never get enough of. And my sister got me a copy of Sweet Bean Paste, by Durian Sukegawa, a book I’ve heard a lot about, and has been on my TBR for a while. I’m looking forward to summer, when things quiet down a bit and I can finally get back into reading, and tackle my expanding TBR.

My writing has also been undergoing a major shift lately. I haven’t been able to write much at all for the past few weeks, but I’m using this time as a little pause, to reconsider some things. I’m working on a blog post to tell you more about it, but for now I’ll say that I’m in the process of beginning a new novel, which is exciting, and terrifying at the same time. I also wrote a short story last month, for a contest that I heard about last-minute. My story wasn’t chosen, but I still love what I wrote and if it wasn’t for the contest, it wouldn’t even exist. I had a lot of fun writing it, and that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?

Spring is in full swing, and I wish I could say that I’m enjoying it, but the allergies, and high-winds are sort of ruining that. Even so, it makes me happy to hear all of the birds singing so cheerfully, and watching the trees slowly wake from their long slumber. Overall, this month has taught me that life is wild. Sometimes it feels like I’m wading through a vat of peanut butter, not making any progress, and other times it feels like everything is happening all at once, and I’d give anything to slow it back down, and take things one at a time. But I suppose that’s the name of the game. Nothing ever happens exactly how we wish it would, and that’s how it’s meant to be. Taking the good with the bad, and appreciating every moment along the way.

What about you? How has your Spring been? Have you read any good books this season? Tell me all about, I’d love to chat with you.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in WORDS

Cracked Spines and Wrinkled Pages

Tell me, do you read used books? Does your book collection contain a patchwork of miss-matched series, or numerous, old, mass market editions? Mine does. My shelves are filled with books that are out of print, worn and torn with yellowed pages, stains and spills. Odd copies that contain hand-written dates, love dedications, and even an occasional scribble or two in the margins. Used books, to me, are like finding a buried treasure– a diamond in the rough. Finding that treasure requires nothing more than a bit of patience as you comb through miles of shelving, and a keen eye.

I must admit, most of the stories I come across are entirely a mystery to me. Never before have I set eyes on them, nor do I know what lies within. It’s a risk to choose such a book, but the thrill of discovery is too great to pass up. Without the familiar comfort of reviews, or recommendations, I have only my most basic reader instincts to rely on. The cover, the title, the feel of the paper in my hands– those simple things will determine the fate of the book. The little tome of bound pages must speak for itself, and it is up to me whether I listen to its voice, or not.

Despite the well-known saying, we all know that it is well-nigh impossible not to judge a book by its cover, especially when it comes to newer books. I won’t so much as breathe in their direction if I don’t fancy the cover. But when it comes to used books, I will pause and consider whether the strange colors, and illustrations on the cover are disguising some hidden treasure waiting to be found. Though I would never dare to crack a spine on any book, or mistreat a page, strangely, in old books, even those flaws cannot turn me away. In fact, when I see a book that is worn, and scuffed, annotated, or dog-eared, I find it to be a curiosity. It tells me that someone, somewhere, handled it, and maybe even enjoyed it.

Sometimes, I wonder if all the time it’d been left alone, unread, and covered in dust, was because it was waiting for someone like me to come along and give it another chance. Usually the books that find their way into second-hand shops are stories from bygone eras, or books that might have been underappreciated at the time of their release. Each has lived a long life, and I often wonder at the history of the lives they’ve led, and what brought them to the shops.

Books are much like people, too. Each has a character of their own, a personality that shines through the font on the pages, and the binding at their spines. And just like people, there is more than meets the eye at first glance. So next time you see an old, shabby cover on a book, perhaps you should pause for a moment, and look past all the dinginess. You may find a bright, and glimmering treasure waiting inside.

Until next time,

Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

January Nights and What I Read

I think I’ve turned over a new leaf–or perhaps I’ve just hit a stroke of luck. Whatever it is, I mean to say, that I had a really good reading month. With these long, dark, winter nights, my favorite thing to do is curl up with a fluffy blanket, or sit beside the fireplace and read. I don’t know why, but reading in the winter makes me feel like the heroine in a Brontë novel, or some other classic work of literature. I wonder if anyone else feels like that? Back in my hay-day as a teen, reading was pretty much all I did, so I flew through most books. In more recent years, my reading habits have changed quite drastically. But this month, I read a book a week, which is more than I’ve read in a really long time. Some of the books I read were real gems, so I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Spin the Dawn, by Elizabeth Lim

Book Review: "Spin The Dawn" (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim –  Life of a Female Bibliophile

This story is a little reminiscent of Mulan, but with a lot more magic. When the Emperor holds a competition to find a new imperial tailor, to create a dress for his bride to be, Maia, must go to the palace in place of her father. Women aren’t allowed to be tailor’s, so Maia, must go in disguise in order to prove her skills. But that’s just the beginning of her story. Soon, strange enchantments, and a nearly impossible request pushes Maia to the limits of her strength, yet she doesn’t back down. With the help of a mysterious enchanter, she achieves the impossible to protect her own life, and her family’s–but it comes at a great cost.

Magic Book Olvely GIF

This book was a Christmas gift, and my first official read for 2022. I was really happy that this story lived up to my expectations, and I enjoyed immersing myself is this new world. This story read like an old legend, or a classic fairy tale, and the way it flowed was great. The setting, and characters felt a lot different from most current fantasy YA novels, so it was a refreshing read.

5/5 stars

2. Calculated, by Nova McBee

Calculated (Calculated #1) by Nova McBee

This story follows a teenage math genius–a prodigy. After graduating with a PhD at age fifteen, Josephine Rivers signs up for a special program in China where gifted teens like her can put their skills to use. But on the day she is set to leave for home, she is kidnapped. Everything Josephine has ever known, or dreamed of, is crushed–except for her special gift. This gift is the only thing that keeps her alive, but it becomes exploited when dark forces use her for their evil schemes. Josephine is tossed from one nightmare to another, until everything changes, and she is presented with an opportunity to undo the harm she helped create. Beginning in Seattle, this story takes you to a secret prison, and gang hideout in China, to the lux high-rises of Shanghai.

Magic Book Olvely GIF

This book has been on my TBR for a long time, and I was glad to finally cross it off. This story dealt with the extreme reality of smuggling, and millionaires, and the world they live in. My mind was completely blown when I realized the story was a re-telling of the life of Joseph, and how God turned his kidnapping, and terrible circumstances into something that would change the entire course of history. This story kept me thinking about it for days after I had finished it, and it’s one I think I’ll always remember.

5/5 stars

3. 100 Days of Sunlight, by Abbie Emmons

Amazon.com: 100 Days of Sunlight: 9781733973311: Emmons, Abbie: Books

After a car accident with a drunk driver, Tessa’s whole world is upended as she loses her sight from a brain injury. The doctors tell her the condition is temporary, but the struggle to come to terms with her trauma is almost too much to bear. That’s when Weston, a boy with his own skeleton in the closet, makes it his mission to help Tessa face the reality that there is so much more to life than merely–sight.

Magic Book Olvely GIF

This is another book that has been on my TBR for a while. I borrowed the audio-book version of this story from the library, and I really enjoyed it because the author herself, did the recording. This is a feel-good, contemporary novel that shows you that there can be joy in life, even in the midst of darkness. It was nice to read a lighter story, in between some of the heavier books I’ve been reading.

4/5 stars

4. What Lives in the Woods, by Lindsay Currie

What Lives in the Woods: Currie, Lindsay: 9781728245720: Amazon.com: Books

Ginny Anderson’s summer plans are ruined, when her parents tell her that they are going to spend a month in an old mansion that her father has been hired to renovate. She’s not happy when they arrive at the creepy old place, but soon, things get even worse. Ginny begins to experience strange events, and see disturbing apparitions throughout the house. With the help of her brother, and a boy from town, Ginny is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, and end their stay at the mansion.

Magic Book Olvely GIF

This is a middle-grade horror story that I wanted to read before I passed it on to a family member. It was a fun, spooky story, but nothing too scary. I liked the mystery surrounding the mansion, but I was underwhelmed by the character development, and story progression. I think a younger reader might enjoy it more than I did, but I was still a little disappointed.

3/5 stars

5. Every Bright and Broken Thing, by Brian McBride

Every Bright and Broken Thing: McBride, Brian: 9781798076729: Amazon.com:  Books

This is the story of two brothers, and the tragedy that overtakes them after the death of their mother. Caught up in lies, and the pit of substance abuse, their lives are slowly destroyed. As things come to a breaking point–they have the chance to be redeemed, but will they take the chance?

Magic Book Olvely GIF

I picked this book up on a whim, because I’d seen some good reviews on it and I needed something new to read. It deals with some very heavy topics, which was a little difficult to read at times. I have some mixed feelings about this novel, and while it did have a redemption arc in the end, it’s not something I would recommend to just anyone. Overall, the writer did deliver a good story, with some powerful themes.

3/5 stars

Pix - Album on Imgur

And that’s everything I read in January. Sometimes these dreary winter nights can feel a bit lonely, but with a good book for company, they become a lot less so.
So now I want to hear about your reading month.
What was your first read for 2022?
How many books did you get to?

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

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