Posted in Book Reviews, reading

2019 Completed Reading List

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

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

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

Rating: 1/5 stars

Favorites in: bold

Classics:

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

 

Non-Fiction:

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

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:

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

Total: 25

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

As always, thank you for reading,

Lady S

Posted in 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.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne

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

5/5 stars

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

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

 

Posted in Book Reviews

The Mermaid’s Sister, by Carrie Anne Noble

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

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

4/5 stars

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Into the Fire, by Kim Vandel

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

5/5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted in Book Reviews

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold) by Traci Chee

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Synopsis:

Sefia has spent her entire life in secrecy; trusting no one, always moving and watching over her shoulder, (just like her parents taught her).
After her father was brutally murdered, Sefia is orphaned, and left with her one surviving relative, aunt Nin. For a time, they live hidden in the forest; hunting, and stealing what they can, to survive. But when aunt Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is left to fend for herself. She is alone, in a wild and ruthless world.
She has only one possession still valuable and dear to her; a strange square object, which she carries with her everywhere.
Setting off on a solo mission to rescue Nin, Sefia finds an unexpected ally, and together they journey through the vicious world, followed by unseen foes, and encountering a group of rugged, swashbuckling pirates.

In this wild and ruthless world where reading and writing, do not exist, Sefia realizes that there’s more to the object than she first thought. Slowly, she begins to uncover some of the mystery shrouding it, but most importantly, she learns to read.

[*Spoiler alert*, the ‘object’ is a book. (Don’t worry, it’s not really a spoiler)]

Thoughts:

I rate this 4/5 stars

The unique-ness of this story was something I had never really experienced before. It had so many different aspects, and twists throughout.  Not to mention, that the actual pages themselves were my favorite part. Ink splotches, and markings really brought the book to life, and made the reading experience fun.                                                                                           I find it a bit hard to describe; as my initial idea about the setting, ended up being quite different from what it was at the end.
It’s an adventure, pirate novel, with some fantasy thrown into the mix.

The way the book was written, was somewhat confusing at first. Every now and then the perspective would switch between characters, to an alternate story, or time period, leaving me unsure of who, or when the chapter was written.
But, by keeping mental notes, the pieces eventually began to fit together.

I had only a couple of issues with the book; one of them being how easily Sefia learned to read.  She’d never really seen words, or actual books, yet by looking at it long enough it all just came to her… and then she could read and write!  (Just like ‘that’ *snaps fingers*.) I found that unrealistic, and hard to believe, but I played along to keep the story moving; trying hard not to dwell on those “minor” details.
The other thing isn’t so much a problem, as it is a critique. Sefia is a great character, yet we didn’t get to see enough of her. I’m sure that was in part, due to the fact that this is the first book in a series. Therefore, a lot of world building, and setting up of events went into this book and there wasn’t a lot of room for character development.
In all, this was a solid starter, and I’m optimistic about the next book, The Speaker.

P.S. As a tip, I would suggest keeping paper and pencil nearby while reading, for any notes or messages that you may find along the way.

And remember, look closer, and then closer. Continue reading “The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold) by Traci Chee”