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

Discovering Forgotten Books: the Weird, the Wacky & the Wonderful

Recently, my bedroom has gotten a major makeover — fresh paint, new floors, the whole shabang. As a result, I had to completely empty out all of my belongings, including my bookshelf which was a major undertaking, due to the fact that it’s a hefty floor to ceiling structure, (custom made by my brother, I might add ;p). It was easy enough to empty all of my “junk” a.k.a., shove everything in storage bins. But when it came time to unpack it all and return everything to its proper place, boy oh boy, was that a challenge. It took me several hours to complete the job, likely because I spent most of the time sitting on the floor staring dismally at the piles and piles of books, instead of delivering them back to their designated place.

It can be very hard to let books go, but I realized I had so many books that I was never ever going to read, and even books that I disliked but was still hanging onto. I was determined to minimize, and be honest about the books I didn’t want, so I buckled down and weeded out lots of books that simply did not spark joy in my heart. (Marie Kondo, anyone??) I was able to eliminate a whole bin full of books that were taking up very valuable space on my shelves! Clearing things out not only cleared my mind but allowed room for my future acquisitions.

While sorting through almost every book I’ve collected in the last ten-or-so years, I was able to rediscover so many books I’d forgotten about. And today, I wanted to share with you some of my most epic finds from the depths of my little library. Some weird, some awesome, and some slightly eccentric books I didn’t even remember that I owned. Let’s start with…

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

Let’s just call this one book research. Yeah, that sounds reasonable. Plants and herbs have the ability to do amazing things from healing wounds, and disease, to becoming a valuable tool for sabotage. Because you never know when you might find yourself in a situation where you need to poison your enemy– I mean, when your characters need to poison their enemies, you know, in fiction. ;p

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt

Next, we have a middle-grade book, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. This is one of the oddest books I’ve ever read, about a strange boy who appears in a small town in a camper trailer which he is unable leave, for reasons I’m not going to tell you. Some of the other children in town visit him regularly, and try to get to the bottom of the mysterious predicament the boy is in. If you want to find out more, and don’t mind reading something a little wacky, you’d better get yourself a copy.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

I stumbled across this series at a thrift store, and it sounded interesting so I snatched it up. I found book 1 and 3, but I was missing the second book, so I waited patiently and lo and behold, the next time I went thrifting there it was, just sitting on the shelf waiting for me, (a major success in my book). Honestly, about 90% of the books I own came from thrift stores, many of which I knew nothing about before I purchased them. Sometimes they can be a flop, but sometimes they are true winners. This is an extremely underrated series, that I think a lot of people would enjoy if they knew it existed! It’s a sci-fi/dystopian retelling of Alice in Wonderland, and it’s totally epic.

The Milagro Beanfield Wars

A lot of the books on my shelf were inherited by me, from my brother when he moved out, and thus I have no idea how, or why he acquired some of these titles. The perfect example, would be these books right here. I don’t know much about this series, other than it being a historical, and possibly magical tale. It looks so strange and creepy I just have to keep it, and perhaps read it one of these days.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

I’m sure a lot of you have heard of this book, and probably read it, as it is the rightful bearer of the Newbery honor medal. I’m not someone who cries easily, but this is the one and only book that has ever made me shed actual tears. Heartwarming, and heartbreaking, this is a touching story of a young girl on a journey to her mother. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read this book, but it left a lasting impression.

Michael O’Halloran by Gene Stratton-Porter

I love to collect vintage books, and read them too. There’s something so captivating about cracking open an old book with yellowing pages, and a creaky spine. Not to mention, the musky old-book smell, that generally accompanies such treasures. The thrill of diving into a story from days gone by is priceless, and Gene Stratton-Porter is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I’m slowly reading my way through all of her works. She has a unique talent for making somewhat simple stories, flow so deep, and tug on your heart-strings. I would recommend any of her books.

Magic Tricks

Back in the day, my brother was quite the magician, always showing off his newest trick and such. He used to guard his secrets with his life, but no longer… Looks like his secrets are about to be exposed. What do you think? Should I try out some of these tricks on my own, or keep his mysteries hidden?

Dune by Frank Herbert

I bought this book more recently, and I read it only last year. It’s considered a classic in the sci-fi world, so naturally I wanted to give it a go. While I did find it interesting, and somewhat entertaining, it was just a little too weird for my taste. It had some very dark, and slightly occult themes which admittedly, turned me off. Though I must say, I did like the sand worms, and thought they were absolutely terrifying. I would describe this book as Star Wars meets Tremors. There are many more books in this series, so I can’t say if/how my opinion would change if I were to continue on with with it, but as of now I’ll call it a done deal.

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel, book 2 of the Airborn Series

This is another one of my favorite underrated trilogies. I borrowed this series from the library, so I don’t own all of the books, except for book two which I happened to find at–you guessed it–a thrift store. I would really like to re-read this series if I ever get my hands on the other two books. From airships to spaceships, this story takes you on a wild ride, and really gives you that “steampunk” vibe. Fun fact: I found out about this series from Adam Young, (a.k.a, Owl City), after I learned that one of his songs was based off of a line from book two. All I can say is, Adam never let’s me down and if you like adventure you’ll like these books.

So there you have it, the conclusions of my discoveries for today. It took a lot of work to get my books looking all nice on the shelf, and my back surely paid a fair price. It was a lot of fun to remember many of the books I had forgotten about, and fawn over my favorites. And it was surprising to find that I have so many awesome, yet underrated books that I don’t think many people have heard of. If you’re interested, I can do another post dedicated to some of my top underrated books, and series. Let me know.

I hope you enjoyed exploring my bookshelves with me, and maybe added a few new titles to your TBR. Do you have any strange books on your shelf? Do you like to search through your shelves for old and forgotten books? Tell me about it down below, I’d love to hear from you.

As always, thank you for reading,

Lady S

P.S. If you’re curious, this is the Owl City song I mentioned. Give a listen.

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

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 reading

2017 TBR

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

DSC_05591.Food Forensics, Mike Adams

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

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

 2. Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas 

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

3. Endurance, Alfred Lansing

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

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

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4. Villette, Charlotte Bronte

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

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

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

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

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

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6. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury

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

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

7. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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