Clear the Shelves – Update!

Hey readers! I’ve been using my sick time to catch up with with my reading challenge. I’ve been doing pretty well with reading my own books. I keep being tempted to refresh my Kindle Unlimited books – OK, I did it. I got the latest book B. R. Kingsolver and I got a couple of audiobooks from the library. But I don’t feel so bad about it because I have been going through my books.

Here to Stay by Mark Edwards – This was a Kindle First selection, and the best thing about it was it was free. I did read it, but really it was just so farfetched.

Princep’s Fury by Jim Butcher (Codex Alera 5) – I was really excited to read this one, but it looked so huge! Really I think it’s under 600 pages, which isn’t that bad for a paperback now. It was a great book and I’m pumped to read the last book in the series.

The Marvels by Brian Selznick – OK, this one was from the library. It’s been on my list for a few years. It is a combination of a graphic novel and a print story. Great for any kid who likes a bit of mystery in their books.

She Shoots to Conquer by Dorothy Cannell (Ellie Haskell # 13) – The last book in the series, and not her best, but still good fun.


I thought it would be more, but I have a couple of paperback that I’m reading right now. I hope I’ll get them both finished this weekend. I also have SO MANY BOOKS to take to the used book store. I can’t wait!

 

 

 

 

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Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them. Be sure to check out Renee’s page for the whole list!

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Today I’m sharing Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. I read this in 2009 and I was captivated by the slow burn love story and the powerful story. This one is the first in the Sevenwaters series, and as it’s been a bit since I read it, I want to reread it before continuing the series. It’s based on the fairy tale of the Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen. In it, six brothers are cursed by their new stepmother to become swans. Their younger sister finds a way to break the curse. She must weave them each a shirt from nettles she gathers herself, and she cannot speak until she has finished the task. She has 7 years to finish or they will remain swans.

Here’s the book description.

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all.

I loved Marillier’s version of the tale, but I have to add a CONTENT WARNING for animal abuse and rape. Be prepared – this story is beautiful, but it is not suitable for young teens.

Writing Prompt

Today’s writing prompt comes from Twitter where I found this from Brittney M. Morris, author of the upcoming book Slay. I love the idea for this prompt and I can’t wait to give it a try.

If you feel stuck in the character dev department or your MC is emotionally 1-dimensional, try the cafe exercise. Write a half-page scene in which your MC is sitting in a cafe and their nemesis walks in. Then best friend. Then car mechanic. Then teacher. Then boss. etc.

Focus on the 5 senses. What does your MC see, hear, smell, feel, and even taste? What are they drinking? Listening to? How does the new character change their cafe experience, and how their day is going? Do they want to invite them over? Buy them something? Leave altogether?

Try throwing in some action! Is this new character clumsy? Do they spill something on your MC? Do they buy something for your MC? Do they get testy about how their coffee is made, and how does your MC feel about this? See how your MC reacts to things to tap into who they are.


43723509._SY475_ By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

10 Books on my TBR I’m avoiding

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Find out more at http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Maybe you’re put off by the hype, maybe you didn’t realize how long it was, maybe it just doesn’t sound as good as it used to, but we all have books we’re just not that keen to read as we were. I have a list, and I’m sure you do too.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. This one has been on my Good Reads TBR list since 2008. Why don’t I just pick it up already? I think I’m afraid I won’t like it and honestly, if it’s been this long, do I really even want to read it?

With Malice Toward None: Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates. This is supposed to be an excellent biography of Lincoln, but IDK, I just can’t seem to pick it up. I’ve read a lot of Civil War/Abraham Lincoln stuff. Maybe I don’t need to read this too.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas. I know exactly why I haven’t read this one – it’s intimidating. It’s big and it’s French.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I heard this one was really good, very important, but depressing. And I’m already depressed, so….

Shanghai Diary by Ursula Bacon. Another book that’s highly recommended, but again depressing and brutal.

North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud. A collection of short horror story, which is not my usual genre, but it sounds good. However, my library doesn’t have it and I’m not sure I want to buy it.

Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg. This book and the whole series sounded good, but it’s not rated very highly and I didn’t like the last book I read by her. So not a priority.

Passionate Minds by David Bodanis. It sounds interesting, a love story between two 18th century French aristocrats, but then again, maybe not.

The King Commands by Meg Burden. This is easy – it’s book 2 in a series and I forgot everything about book 1. So I’d have to read it again. I mean, I liked it, but is it worth it?

That’s only 9, but I’m going to quit there. What books have you been putting off? Let me know it the comments. I’m sure most of mine are super obscure, but if you have read any of them, let me know!

September Cold aka What Are You Reading in Bed?

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This is an actual scene from what might be my own room. OK, it’s not, but that’s exactly what’s going on in my house this weekend. Along with a lot of coughing and wheezing. My husband has had this crud for a whole week, but mine hasn’t been quite as long.

As always, lots of cons to a cold/sinus infection/bronchitis, but the pros are plenty of time to read. Unfortunately, with a head full of snot that doesn’t leave much room for brains. I swear, your IQ drops when you have a cold. So I’m staying away from anything challenging in favor of fun books.

Currently listening:

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?  by Frans de Waal

I thought this book was quite interesting to begin with. The writer is a primatologist who works with bonobos, which are the primate most closely related to humans. There’s some fascinating stuff in here, but it get much to repetitive and political. I’ve been giving it a miss for the last couple of days. I was hoping to finish it – I’ve only got 90 minutes or so left, but I just can’t follow what he’s saying at all right now.

She Shoots to Conquer by Dorothy Cannell

Ellie Haskell, husband Ben, and friend Mrs. Malloy wind up on the set of a reality dating show. I’ve had this one for a while and this was the perfect occasion to read it. I feel like Cannell is the English counterpart to Donna Andrews. Where she falls short a bit is that there is just so much interior monologue that I tend to skip paragraphs and then I get lost. But this one was fun.

Princep’s Fury by Jim Butcher 

I just started this one. I really like this series, but it’s a much bigger book than I remembered. The story is moving pretty quickly, so I hope it will work.


That’s about it for now. I might not be on as much this week. Take care and take your vitamins! Flu season is upon us!

 

The Dark Angels: A Series Review

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The Dark Angels series by Ian Whates

Pelquin’s Comet Book 1

The Ion Raider Book 2

I love Kindle Unlimited. It’s just such a good value for the money. I will admit that there are plenty of duds out there. The editing is hit or miss on these books, but even if I find a book that’s just completely bad, it’s not like it cost me any money. And the fun thing is that I find some entirely new authors that I don’t think I would have heard of otherwise.

That’s how I found this series. The author has been writing for quite some time, but I’d never heard of him until Amazon kept pushing book 1 over and over. Finally I decided to give it a try.


Book description

In an age of exploration and expansion, the crew of the freetrader Pelquin’s Comet – a rag-tag group of misfits, ex-soldiers and ex-thieves – set out to find a cache of alien technology, intent on making their fortunes; but they are not the only interested party and find themselves in a deadly race against corporate agents and hunted by the authorities. Forced to combat enemies without and within, they strive to overcome the odds under the watchful eye of an unwelcome guest: Drake, agent of the bank funding their expedition, who is far more than he seems and may represent the greatest threat of all.


If that reminds you a bit of Firefly or Han Solo, you’re not alone. But what really made the book is that there are so many more layers to the story than that brief description indicates. Every member of the crew has a secret, and their stories interweave in surprising ways.

Then we get to book 2, which I will not give a description of because there are spoilers, but it starts off with a completely new set of characters. The story travels in an unexpected direction and ends on a cliffhanger so extreme, I actually gasped out loud. If I had been reading a physical book, I think I would have dropped it.

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I hope that I’ve got you interested in this one. It doesn’t seem to have a lot of readers, but I really enjoyed it. I’m waiting for book 3 to be released, but so far, this has been an amazing science fiction series.

Flashback Friday

This review appeared previously on my other blog. I’m sharing it again here.

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The Tree of Man

by Patrick White

Wow, what a chunk of a book! 499 pages. And I don’t know why that feels so big, as I have read some for the challenge that were even bigger, but it just felt like a really big book.

The book is all about an Australian couple, Stan and Amy Parker. It is sort of an epic, a great Australian novel, as it were. They build a home, work on their farm, raise cows, have a couple of kids, survive a flood and a fire, meet the neighbors. Stan goes off to war. Their son turns out to be a weak criminal type; their daughter a social climber. They both get old. Stan dies.

And believe it or not, that is really the whole book. Why did it take 499 pages? I’m not entirely sure. It’s certainly not because of the dialogue. Both Stan and Amy are taciturn by nature.

Perhaps this is White’s way of portraying the basic honest type of person who is always at the heart of a thriving nation. The Parkers are not anyone special. But their lives are still important.

I didn’t really love this book, but I did enjoy the style. I’m not sure if it’s the writer or because he was Australian, but there are just small differences in the way the story is told. I had to read it a little more carefully, because he says so much without saying it straight out. So much of the story is implied in just a few words, which means the reader has to extrapolate and decipher the littlest clue.

I don’t know if I will read more by this author or not, but this was certainly a change from what I normally read.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on the Bottom Shelf

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s list didn’t work for me, so I am going with 10 Books on the Bottom Shelf.

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  1. Veins of Gold by Charlie N. Holmberg
  2. The Age of Genomes by Stephen M. Lipkin
  3. The Boy in a Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl
  4. Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin
  5. Come on Shore and We Will Kill You and Eat You by Christina Thompson
  6. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton
  7. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  8. Galileo’s Daughter by Dana Sobel
  9. Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye
  10. A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow

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Naturally, I should point out that this is just one bookshelf among so, so many, and there are other books on the shelf. I just listed some of the ones I haven’t read yet. If you’re like me, they tend to get stuck down there and then you forget about them for the ones that are closer to eye level. I’ve got a couple of YA books, one memoir, a couple of mysteries, a science book, and a couple of history books. Which one do you think I should read first? Let me know in the comments.

August Wrap Up!

Hey fellow readers! How’s your summer been? Mine has been so hot, definitely the kind that makes you want to stay in and read. It’s paid off. I was on Good Reads a couple of days ago and noticed that I had met my yearly goal. 227/225 books finished. I guess I should have set it higher, but I’m pretty happy with it.

As for August, here are the stats.

ABANDONED

Sherlock Holmes Never Dies, anthology

The Book of Swords, anthology

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World

NON-FICTION

The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke 4/5

Human Error: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes by Nathan Lents 3/5

Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini 5/5

PICTURE BOOK

I went on a binge at the library and read a bunch I’ve been meaning to read. Please note that I don’t have little kids anymore, so the ratings are based on what I think, not on the intended audience. Kids might rate them differently.

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio. Loved the art more than the story. 3.5/5

Little Red Hood by Marjolaine Leray 2/5

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke. Charming and magical. 4/5

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke 4/5

Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds. Predator humor. 4/5

Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio 3/5

Me … Jane by Patrick McDonnell 4/5

FICTION

Greywalker by Kat Richardson. Recommended by my sister, but I thought it was too slow and didn’t like the MC. 2.5/5

The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay 3) by Chris Wooding. Freaking awesome, especially the ending. This series just keeps getting better.

Bad Move by Linwood Barclay. Amusing domestic thriller. 3.25/5

Split the Party (Spells, Swords & Stealth 2) by Drew Hayes. Really fun lit-RPG romp with satisfying ending. 4/5

The Genius Plague by David Walton. Not at all what I expected. 4/5

The High House (Evenmere 1) by James Stoddard. Modern book with Victorian worldbuilding. Strange, but good. 4/5

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. Only audiobook this month. Loved it! 5/5

Death on a Quiet Day (Sir John Appleby 16) by Michael Innes. Didn’t love it quite as much as the first time, but still very good. 4/5

The Ion Raider (Dark Angels 2) by Ian Whately. Introduces a new set of characters, lots of twists. 4/5

Snowflakes (Snow Queen 2.5) by K M Shea. Nice stories, but didn’t add anything. 2.5


Best of the Month The Iron Jackal. Great character growth, really upped the stakes for the story, and explosive ending that was really unexpected.

Worst of the Month Sherlock Holmes Never Dies. I only read part of one story, but it was so bad, it put me off the rest of the book.

Best Picture Book Julia’s House for Lost Creatures. The art was delightful and what a fun idea for a book.

Most Enraging Book Superior. Nazis just make me mad, whether they were brown suits and swastikas or lab coats.

Biggest surprise The Genius Plague. The plot was so wild and crazy but I was completely absorbed in the story. Creepy fun.


That’s it for me. Let me know what you read this month, what you liked, what you didn’t. And for the US reader, enjoy your 3 day weekend!

 

Flashback Friday

This review appeared on my previous blog. I’m sharing it again today.
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Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde

This play wasn’t what I expected. I think I was expecting something like The Importance of Being Earnest, which is such a light and fluffy bit of fun. This one wasn’t like that. There were still some very funny lines, like the familiar “I can resist everything except temptation,” but the subject was more serious and the funny lines were just thrown in around the action.

Lady Windermere has only been married 2 years. She and her husband married as a love match. But now gossip has linked her husband with an older woman. Lady Windermere can’t forgive or listen to her husband’s attempt to explain that it’s not really like that. A tangle of complicated situations that can’t ever be explained follow, with mixed results. I might enjoy it more if I saw it onstage. As it is, it was fun reading, but nothing more.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet, and author of numerous short stories, and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.

As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labor after being convicted of “gross indecency” with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe by the night ferry. He never returned to Ireland or Britain, and died in poverty.