Review: Desperate Duchesses, by Eloisa James

When the Netflix series of Bridgerton came out, people flocked to it. I didn’t realize it was actually a book well before it ever became a series, and while looking at the reviews I noticed that Felicia Day (who I happen to follow on GoodReads) had a recommendation for people who enjoyed these types of historical romance – and that’s how I came to find Desperate Duchesses. I attempted to read Bridgerton and I did NOT enjoy it at all. This book though? This book was magical.

If you’re a fan of The Queen’s Gambit (another Netflix show, what can I say) then you’ll appreciate this book even more, because there are some intense chess scenes in the book that will take you right back to that show. The author has a fantastic way with words, and this book was an incredible way to relax that did not require very much brain power but still kept me interested enough to turn the pages. It was like listening to a conversation take place instead of reading.

You’ll follow the story of Lady Roberta St. Giles as she tries to meet the man of her dreams (who she thinks is Duke Villier) but spread throughout the story is a number of other interesting characters, including her father (a poet) known as the Mad Marquees, and her distant cousin, Jemma, who is a bit of a calculating fiend, to be honest.

Without spoiling any of the book, I will say that the reviews of it can be quite harsh, so I’d give it a go yourself if you’re interested in those types of books and not rely solely on the public. Otherwise, I might not have given it a chance at all – and I’m so glad I did.

4/5 stars

July Book Goals – 2021

One thing I do on another blog where I write about video games and fiber arts (because those are related..) is post a monthly update / goals in order to give myself a bit of direction when it comes to these things. My life runs better with direction, otherwise I can spend hours just sitting and doing nothing at all, completely lost with whatever I had intended to do. That doesn’t meant I can’t go off track, it just means that during times when I need direction, it’s there.

July goals:

  • Finish reading volume 3&4 of Sunstone
  • Finish reading Rogue Protocol (Murderbot #3)
  • Finish 50% of The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker

I have some non-reading but still book related goals to work on, too. I want to properly set up StoryGraph, which I’ve never used before but has come highly recommended by some friends. I also just downloaded their app, so I’d like to explore that in more depth. Maybe even do a post about some great book apps.

I’d also like to update my ‘My Book Pledge‘ page, which is a Canadian site sponsored by some of the larger publishing companies. They host a lot of competitions and I’ve been adding my books there for a number of years, very similar to the GoodReads book challenge that is hosted yearly.

These are not lofty goals, and I should be able to complete them with very little issue so long as I consciously make the time to read. The way I tend to work is that the more tired I am the less I want to read, which means in June I did very little reading because I was incredibly tired. In fact for the entire month of June I only finished reading one book, which was Sunstone volume 2.

I want to do better this month.

Have you set yourself up with any reading goals?

Review: ‘Millionaire Teacher, The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should have Learned in School’ by Andrew Hallam

Not everything I read is for pure pleasure, though personal development books do tend to fall under that category for me most times since they’re actually a lot of fun. When Cryptocurrency began to gain traction this year and was being talked about all over the place, I decided to look into old school stocks. I’m not always patient, but when it comes to money I’m a fan of slowly putting some away over time until you look back 20 years later and see what has amassed. This book, Millionaire Teacher, looks at something called Index Funds that you can invest in to do just that. Index funds are little bits of all sorts of publicly traded stock. Instead of buying into just one company (that might fail) you buy small bits and pieces of many companies. Some fail, some do well. It boats a 10% return each year, so depending on what you invest, you could gain a fair amount. It takes time, but you don’t have to be a stock market wizard.

The book was great at explaining the ins and outs of this method of making money to me – but the author also spent a whole lot of time talking about things that could have been summed up faster, or just left out all together. I did like the way they explained how to think about money, the information they had about fancy cars, and little useful tidbits here and there.

Do I think it will make me a millionaire? Probably not. I think people who read this book and assume they will get the exact same results need to step back and take a little bit of caution. Sure, if you’ve been investing since you were a child, you can certainly amass a good amount of money over the years – but most of us are well into our 30s or even 40s before we start to suddenly realize that ‘saving money’ each pay is a good thing. I don’t know about everyone else, but in school I didn’t learn anything useful about budgeting, or how to actually function in the real world when it comes to money. It’s something that could have really helped me out.

Overall? I don’t regret spending any time reading this, I learned a lot, and I feel like less of a dunce when it comes to money and investment.

4/5 stars

Graphic Novel Review: Sunstone, Vol.1

I’m not really a huge fan of graphic novels, to be honest, but every once in a while I attempt to give them another go and see if they’ll stick. This one was recommended to me by a friend, and then I noticed that a bunch of other friends on GoodReads had also read it. It happened that the author was releasing the series for free since it started out as a web comic and that’s how I found myself picking up the first seven volumes. Purchasing the physical copies came next, because the artwork and the story is just that great.

The author is Stjepan Šejić, who is known for all sorts of things that I had never heard of (thank you GoodReads author blip). The novel is about Lisa and Ally, and their less-than-vanilla relationship. If you’ve ever read 50 shades of Grey and thought that was what actual BDSM was about, I implore you to give this novel a read instead. It’s about how their relationship developed, what insecurities they each had, and how they ultimately were able to be themselves very naturally thanks to open communication. That, folks, is the key to a good relationship, whether it is vanilla or otherwise.

The book is steamy, let’s not try to cover that up – but it presents the reader with a realistic view into a BDSM relationship and I absolutely love that. If you’re uncomfortable with nudity, or BDSM just isn’t your thing (it’s not for everyone, no shame in that) you may want to give it a pass. However, if you’re hoping to read about two people who might potentially be falling in love with each other, because of the intense and often times overwhelming sensations that are experienced while exploring BDSM – then give it a read. I was pleasantly surprised.

5/5 Stars

Oh Look, I’m Back

It has been over three years since I’ve done any writing on this blog, and yet I’ve kept it active and kept the domain name thinking that one year I might actually get back to it, and do some writing. Kids and life in general have kept me pretty busy without a lot of extra spoons kicking around. I haven’t given up reading by any means, but I rarely spoke about what I was making my way through, let alone wrote about it.

A friend recently started writing about their book adventures over on Dragons and Whimsy, and it inspired me to brush off the dust on my own, and start writing about the adventures I have in other peoples’ worlds. I’m hoping for one post a week, for now. Maybe that will keep me motivated enough to post more frequently. Not everything will be a review (this post is a good example of that) but it should all be book-ish.

With a 3 year old and a 5 year old under foot, a new puppy, and the pandemic still lingering, I have cut down my GoodReads Challenge quite significantly this year. I used to aim for anywhere between 30 and 50 books a year, and now I’m quite pleased if I manage 20. To me a book is a book is a book and it doesn’t matter if you’re reading graphic novels, novellas, or 1,000 paged books – at least you’re reading. I count everything on my challenge list for this very reason.

So far I’m at 12/20 books for the year and I’ve read some fascinating (and some not so fascinating). I’m trying to add variety to my reading, whether it be from Canadian authors (I try, but I just don’t seem to connect) POC, or a unique genre. Branching out of my comfort zones through books is really important to me. I’ll do a more in-depth look at each book that I’ve read this year, and hopefully toss out a few fluffier posts in between. In any case, it’s just nice to be talking about books again.

Goodreads Challenge – Progress Update

While I may not have been keeping up very well with the site, that doesn’t mean I haven’t managed to read a few books this year! I’m still hoping to get more detailed reviews up, but in the meantime this is what my 2018 GoodReads Challenge looks like. I really wish I were the type of person who could do audiobooks, but for some reason they continue to put me to sleep, no matter who the reader is or what I’m reading. If you have a suggestion for me about audiobooks I’d love to hear it! I feel like I could optimize my time better if I were listening along to a novel instead of just filling that space with xyz background noise.

One of my goals this year was to read books written by Canadian authors, and as you can tell by my list, I’ve managed a couple. My favourite would have to be American War, but there’s lots of time left in the year for that to change. I’ve been using CBC reads to find Canadian authors that I’ve never heard of before and so far it’s working out wonderfully.

I love branching out with my book genres and I hope I continue to find amazing new authors that I’ve never read before. What are you currently reading and how is your GoodReads challenge stacking up? I do hope to complete 50 books this year, but with a new baby on the way (due end of July) we’ll just have to see how things go.

Reading Challenge: 2018

I know, I have fallen behind in posting to this site for many months now, the last one being back in July 2016. I didn’t even write at all in 2017, even though I did read books. I can’t promise that I’ll be any better about it in the upcoming months but I do want to try. I set myself with a new reading challenge over on GoodReads for 2018, last year I managed 30 books which seemed a bit abysmal for someone who enjoys books as much as I do. Sure, things are busy, but even just a few minutes before bed can allow you to get some wonderful reading done.

So this year I’ve decided to aim higher, 50 books. 50 is what I would ‘typically’ read before having children, before moving to a new province, before my life became the complicated mess that it is these days. I am not sure if I’ll actually make it, but I am sure going to try. That’s approximately one book a week (give or take a few days) and so far I’ve managed two books for 2018. I don’t want to force myself, but on the other hand I don’t want to continue to fall so far behind, either.

Along with that new reading goal I decided that I wanted to read more Canadian authors, so I went to CBC Books and looked up what books people were talking about. My first two 2018 books were both by Canadian authors, and I’ll be talking about them more in the upcoming days (hopefully, again no promises). I’m trying to decide what I want to read for my third book of the year, something a bit different than what I’ve been reading I think (I’ve stuck to a lot of plain fiction).

Hopefully putting these goals down in text here on the site will inspire and motivate me to actually get the reading done (and the writing). I’m sorry for slacking so badly over the past year, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve been reading with everyone.

Review: The Wicked Wager, by Anya Wylde

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Remember how I was writing about those books you can get for free every now and again from Amazon, and how most of them happen to be romance? Well, this was one of them. I initially picked it up because the description sounded mildly interesting – and then I got to a line in the first paragraph that made me almost drop the entire thing and not even bother.

“He tilted his head and his naughty ears trembled impatiently.”

Yep.

I don’t mind silly stories, or comical ones, but the writing has to be able to grab me if that’s going to be the case, and I just about found that one line to be too much for me. Thankfully I decided to press on to see if the writing got any better. It did (slightly).

Emma and Richard are meant to be, but before they can they have to convince Emma’s uncle that they don’t need to wait on the wedding and they should be able to get married sooner rather than later. Emma heads over to her uncles place for a few weeks to convince him of their love, and Richard concocts a plan placing him as a gardener within the mansion so that he can be closer to Emma. Of course life never works out that easily, and the couple meet up with lots of complications along the way, including having to convince Richard’s close friend to pretend to be Richard when the uncle invites him over to get to know him better.

The book is an easy relaxing read, but the writing style was not one I was fond of. The bond between Emma and Richard didn’t feel ‘real’ enough, where as the relationship that budded between Catherine and Lord Raikes felt much more ‘real’ (and it felt like there was more focus on them later on in the book even though they were background characters). The book also changed gears towards the end where it felt more like a game of clue (It was Emma in the yard with a candlestick!) instead of being about the various romances going on, almost as though the author got bored of their own story line. I personally wouldn’t classify this book as a mystery since nothing mystery related actually happens until the last 5-10% of the book, but since the author herself calls it that, why not. It just felt a bit out of place and forced compared to the first half of the book.

If you’re looking for a funny, easy read with a bit of romance (all clean) and some mystery, then The Wicked Wager may be just what you’re looking for, especially for the price.

3/5 stars

Review: The Dragon Round, by Stephen S. Power

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This book started out pretty interesting. Tales of swashbuckling adventures, a mutinous crew, and an island where Jeryon and the apothecary from his ship are eventually stranded. The whole first half of the book was about their adventures in survival. Separated at first they find a way to survive and eventually meet up on the island. They create a camp together, and stumble onto a baby dragon hatching. All of these stories I enjoyed a great deal and it reminded me a lot of The Count of Monte Cristo in the way that the first half of the book was about revenge. Jeryon wanted revenge on the ship crew that left him stranded, and he decided to use the baby dragon to seek out that revenge. He starts training it, making plans, plotting his calculated revenge. He gets wrapped up in it.

As much as I enjoyed the first half of the book, the second half left me scratching my head in confusion. Instead of adventures and tales of heroic (and some not so heroic) deeds, it was about politics. Politics of the lands that Jeryon and his apothecary are from. Politics where a war is starting up and people are looking to place blame. The apothecary’s story (her name is Everlyn) is pretty much ignored from this point on and we don’t hear from her any more until the very end. Gone is the depth and personal connection we feel to any of the previous main characters as the focus suddenly shifts without any warning (and in my opinion, without any need). It was so sudden and jarring that a book I would have gladly given close to four stars to dropped down to a 2.5 (I round them up on goodreads). I almost started to wonder if the second half had been written by someone else, or after a long break where the author suddenly decided to change the story. It’s not a smooth transition, and that’s a shame because for the first half of the book there was just so much potential. The abrupt ending, especially, felt (to me) like it was rather slapped on.

3/5 stars

Review: The Song of Kahunsha, by Anosh Irani

299773A friend was giving away some of his books because he’s running out of room, and of course being the book lover I am, I decided to pick out a few to add to my own collection. One of them was this Canada Reads book from 2007 that I had never heard of.

The Song of Kahunsha is about a 10 year old orphan boy who lives in Bombay. One day he learns that the orphanage is going to be shut down, and instead of going that rout he decides to take his fate in his own hands, and sets out to find his birth father who left him on the steps so long ago.

One of the great things about this book is the innocence that Chamdi has, no matter how many hardships he faces. This comes across as a child’s method of coping, and it’s written in a magical way that pulls the reader through his world. His world is one of heartache, pain, and violence but also one of incredibly colours, hope, and belief. He learns that the world is rough, and even though he meets up with two children around his own age, Sumdi and Guddi, things are going to get a lot harder. Together they start collecting money for Anand Bhai, who “turns people into boxes”. Chamdi’s world is further shaken when on the day he is supposed to steal from a local temple, something terrible happens (as if enough had not already happened).

Still, Chamdi finds beauty. He sees things with the eyes of a child and he’s unable to completely give up his child-like ways, even though he sees evils all around him, evils that the reader understands but that the 10 year old Chamdi cannot.

This isn’t a happy ending book but sometimes you need something deeply emotional to shake you up a little and get you out of a reading rut.

4/5 Stars