4/5 Stars: Alpha & Omega #0.5 by Patricia Briggs

I have to say, this book was not one that I would have normally picked up, but it came recommended to me by a handful of friends when I was looking for something ultra casual (but still a good story) to read. I wanted to start with the first book of the series, but I did some sleuthing and learned that the first book would make much more sense if I read the 0.5 one first – so I did.

Shapeshifters? Check. Romance? Check. Other supernatural beings? Check. Anna is the main character, unwillingly turned into a werewolf with more than one suitcase of baggage dragging along with her. I loved the play between her and Charles (another werewolf, and love interest of course), and she feels like a real character despite the fact that I was (at times) frustrated with her meekness (that passes as she discovers herself and heals). The writing is beautiful, and that’s what really made this a page turner. The world building felt complete, and it fully prepared me for what to expect in the first book. I didn’t have to work too hard at deciphering where the book was going, and I was able to just submerge myself in the characters. I love those types of books, even if this one ended too quickly since it was more of an introduction novel to the first of the series.

I hear that this novella comes either as a stand alone, or a compilation of three others – the suggestions mention that the other books are not nearly as good, so if you’re just looking for this one, buy it as the e-book stand alone. I’m glad I did, and I fully enjoyed moving forward to the first novel having read this one.

4/5 stars

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3/5 Stars: The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, by Michael Finkel

This book was fascinating – until it wasn’t.

I loved reading about Christopher Knight and his story was interesting until I got to the uncomfortable parts (the last 20 pages or so) where the author basically harassed the Knight family in order to get information. He (the author) tried to get close to Christopher, and even showed up at his house after being told not to. I didn’t enjoy any of that part, and it was uncomfortable to read about. I understand he’s a journalist, I understand their job is to find the truth, but the means in which he went about it left me feeling awkward. I at least appreciate that he put it in the book, and was honest about his means.

The story is unbelievable, and yet you’re left believing every word. I felt no sympathy towards Knight since he did steal and terrorize people (whether unintentionally or not) but I also understand the desire to get away from everything. Knight lived a life that few people these days can ever accomplish, and I think that’s why it makes a fascinating story. I just wish there were more ‘morals’ involved, if that makes sense.

3/5 stars

4/5 Stars: Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker

This book was powerful. It’s a non fiction written about an American family that had 12 children (the oldest born in 1945, youngest in 1965) – 6 of them developed schizophrenia. The book goes into incredibly graphic detail about the family and their happenings, if you’re struggling with mental health this might not be the book for you. It also touches on subjects of self harm, violence, and rape.

I found the entire thing fascinating, and the author did an incredible job of melding together both the stories from the family, and the medical side of things. It spoke passionately about the human beings involved, and clearly about the genetic research, and science behind it all. This was one of those rare books I couldn’t put down – but had a few flaws that are not exactly the fault of the author but more due to the subject. Of course over time family members have passed, and near the end of the book the relationship between the daughters and the mother is a point of contention for me. There is huge emphasis on the history and grudges that has nothing to do with the rest of the schizophrenia that was supposed to be at the forefront. The book also paints Mimi (the mother) in a less-than-favourable light, when it’s not her perspective that we hear from, so we can only guess at her reasonings and decisions. Because this part of the book relies on the daughters’ accounts of things, it feels a bit uneven. In any case, this is certainly a book that makes you think, and hopefully gives you a deeper understanding.

4/5 stars

5/5 Stars: Sylvanas, by Christie Golden

I’m a huge World of Warcraft fan, but I’ve never taken the time to get into the lore on a deeper level before, and I have not read any of the prior books. Since I had knowledge of lore through the game, that wasn’t such a big deal.

I absolutely loved this book. I have to admit, I’m a pretty big Sylvanas fangirl, and Christie Golden did an amazing job with bringing this character to life and making her (dare I say) human. It didn’t let her (Sylvanas) off the hook for anything, but I left with a new understanding and appreciation. My only issue with it is that the first 75% of the book is beautiful, painful, and reads as a detailed biography, but the remaining 25% where it gets back into the video game happenings read different, and it was a bit jarring and noticeable. I didn’t enjoy the later half of the book nearly as much.

Still, I’m incredibly glad I picked it up and certainly look forward to reading more of the Warcraft world in the future.

5/5 stars

4/5 Stars: Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree

I picked up this book back in March on the recommendation of a friend, and I’m so glad I did. I didn’t intend on binge reading, but it was fantastic and exactly what I was looking for at the end of the day. The book had just enough action to keep me turning pages, and at a time where stress is everywhere, I felt like I could let go and relax a bit into Travis’ world. For a debut novel, Travis hit it out of the park, and I can’t wait to see where this takes him next.

We follow the story of Viv, an orc barbarian, who is trying to give up her heated battle forged ways and open a coffee shop. She (of course) comes up against trials and tribulations, and makes (and loses) some friends along the way. If you’re a fan of high fantasy worlds but want to see a lighter side, I highly recommend giving it a read.

4/5 Stars

1/5 Star Review: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

I’ve been a Debbie Macomber fan in the past when I wanted something lighthearted to read that wasn’t going to involve too much brain power. The books were simple, sweet, and I have a collection of them sitting on my bookshelves.

I purchased this book expecting the same – and it was nothing like previous books I have read. It focused on an unbelievable tale, and repeated the same story over and over. I couldn’t connect with the main character (woe is me, I’m beautiful and thin and smart too and I have to write the society pages when I really want to write about what’s going ON out there) nor did I connect with the love interest (I hate the world, I’m angry at my Mother – I hate this lady who just showed up – gasp, she’s beautiful, I love her, I want her, nope, don’t want her after all, gasp, love her!)

What REALLY irked me though, was the judgmental ideas sprinkled throughout the book about “kids who spend all their time playing video games instead of exploring outside” – the love interest writes his book ‘Alone’ because he felt that too many people were playing video games and having screen time instead of exploring.

There is a way to write about exploration and the excitement of exploring that doesn’t talk down or judge your potential audience. It felt very off putting, very forced, and it made me uncomfortable to read it worded that way. We do not need to judge people like that.

Quiet, but Still Reading

I know it has been a while since I made a post here – but that doesn’t mean I’ve slowed down in the reading! My goal of 20 books read for 2021 is almost complete, and while it’s a far cry from the 50 books that I used to read pre-kids, it’s still something. I am a firm advocate for reading – period. It doesn’t matter what you’re reading, so long as you read. Comics, romance books, magazines, they all count in my eyes. I’m currently making my way through The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, and I am absolutely loving it. I knew a bit of what to expect since I read (and loved) the Night Circus many years ago, and while this novel is a bit confusing (it involves many timelines that sort of merge into a central one) the world building is constantly what draws me in.

It’s exquisite, to put it bluntly. I always feel like the world is alive, that the author is able to create a flow that just speaks to me. Even if the story itself is something that I find difficult to follow along with, the writing is superb. I appreciate that.

2021 has been a particularly lucrative one as far as reading ‘good’ books goes (for me, personally). Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan was fantastic, and I had a great time reading The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso. I was able to delve into a handful of novellas by Martha Wells that were all great reads of their own merits, and the comic ‘Sunstone’ by Stjepan Šejić was beauty on every page.

I was also able to take some time to read some ‘just for me’ books, The Book of Hedge Druidry, by Joanna van der Hoeven, and The Witch’s Shield, by Christopher Penczak. While these books were not exactly what I was looking to find, it was nice to round out some knowledge and there were portions of each book that spoke to me.

My TBR pile keeps growing, and that’s always a great thing. Up next I’m hoping to read The Hidden Palace, by Helene Wecker (#2 to the Golem and the Jinni), and The Color of Dragons, by R.A. Salvatore and Erika Lewis. I even managed to read a few Canadian authors this year, something I attempt to remind myself of as often as I can. They’re not always books I completely enjoy, and I know that life is too shore to waste it reading bad books – but they don’t have to be 5 star reads in order for me to complete them and learn from them. I’ve branched out a little bit but of course there is always more room when it comes to reading. With any luck I’ll discover even more authors that I’ve never heard of who have gems to share with book worms like myself.

In any case, I’m sorry for the lack of posts. Some days are more difficult than others when it comes to reading (I’ve had to put my physical books away during multiple sclerosis relapse days because it is too painful to hold them) and sometimes it just slips my mind. That being said, books are (and have always been) an important part of my daily routine, even if blogging is not, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Review: Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

I’ve never been one to write a review where I talk about the entire contents of a book because I really don’t want to spoil it for people. I know plenty of people who write those types of reviews, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, but it’s just not my jam. I just wanted to put that out there.

When a book enters my TBR pile it usually happens one of three ways. One, a friend recommended it. Two, I read about it some place online. Three, I happened to be browsing ‘what should I read next’ lists or recommendations off of sites like StoryGraph or even here on GoodReads. ‘Age of Myth’ entered my pile from all three of these methods. I was searching for an epic fantasy book to read because I hadn’t read one for some time, and this one popped up on my feed. After I purchased the book I noticed that the back cover has a brief review from Mogsy over at the BiblioSanctum, who I adore and have been friends with for a number of years. We don’t always like the same books, but when she gives a 4.5/5 star review, I know it’s going to be a good read.

I was not disappointed at all with Age of Myth. It was everything I wanted – but not perfect. It was a book I found hard to put down, beautifully written (the world building is absolutely top notch) with a fascinating story. There are multiple story lines going at once, so if that’s something that doesn’t interest you, you might want to take a pass – on that same note, the stories do converge fairly early on, making it much easier to keep track of everyone.

Female protagonists, epic deities, a ‘big bad’ – and let me say that’s one thing that I actually think the book did not need. Further on you meet ‘a big bad’ on top of a few other ‘bads’ wandering around. You’ll know who I’m talking about when you meet him, and it is a very stereotypical ‘big bad’ and one that I think the book absolutely did not need. It felt a bit like HBO trying to force blood/gore/elicit emotion that I was already feeling before the ‘big bad’ even showed up. I’m not even sure their role was needed at all. I might be alone in that feeling, but it seemed unnecessary.

I finished this book within a week, it was that good. It was a great epic fantasy read, and exactly what I was hoping for. Thankfully the second book is already out, and I’m thinking of picking it up as an audio book because Tim Gerard does the reading and apparently it’s quite amazing.

5/5 stars

My TBR Pile

One of my favourite books is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wrecker, and I first read it way back in 2013. Much to my excitement, I learned that there is now a follow up book, The Hidden Palace. I instantly added it to my ‘want to read’ pile, which varies little to my TBR (to be read) pile. I don’t really plan out which books I want to read, or what order I want to read them in. I tend to go by emotion / mood alone, and if I find that I’m not actually into that book after all, I’ll speed my way through it or it will fall by the wayside. I do tend to continue on with books even if I don’t enjoy them – except for one book that I just couldn’t read any further and I just gave up. I think I even wrote a review for it here some place. I know time is valuable, but I’ve always felt like in some weird way I almost owed it to the book to finish it. I know that makes absolutely no sense, but that’s how I felt.

Any way, my TBR pile is quite short these days because I haven’t the faintest idea of what books are releasing, or when. I haven’t actually browsed for books in a while and most of what I add to my pile is word of mouth and suggestions from others more than actually looking for myself. I’ve also wanted (once again) to get into some audiobooks but most of them are very expensive, and I just don’t see myself being interested long term. I know there are some sites that offer free trials of their audiobooks and I might look into that, and NetGalley also now has some audiobook options. It would be nice to be able to listen to a book while I knit, I’m curious if it would have the same effect on me it usually does – when I listen to audiobooks I tend to fall asleep almost instantly.

In any case, this is definitely a book that’s very high up on my ‘next to read’ list, if not at the very top. I’ve finished a few more books that I’ll get reviews up for in the future (we’ll see about that) and I’m currently reading Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan which is fantastic so far (I’m only a few chapters in, as a word of caution). What’s everyone else reading these days? What does your ‘to read’ pile look like? Do you have a physical collection or are you more likely to keep a digital collection of books? Let me know in comments, and happy reading!

August Book Goals – 2021

How did I manage with those July book goals? Well:

  • I completed reading volume 3&4 of Sunstone
  • I completed reading Rogue Protocol (Murderbot #3)
  • I finished reading The Book of Hedge Druidry: A complete guide for the Solitary Seeker

I actually managed to complete all of my goals for July! I made sure to spend time each night reading before bed, and fit in some reading here and there throughout the day, too, which is no easy feat with a 3 year old and a 5 year old constantly underfoot (side note, I should add the kids books to my reading goals too, we read every night together before bed).

The goal to update my book pledge on the Canadian site I’m a part of completely fell through because they announced that they’re shutting down and moving on to a new project! I was heartbroken to hear that, but I understand. They were running the site in their spare time, and I don’t imagine it was much of a money maker for them. I’ll be interested to see what they come up with next.

My August goals include:

  • Finishing 5&6 of Sunstone
  • Completing Age of Myth
  • Starting a new book
  • Posting at least 5 book related blog posts for the month of August

I think this should be a fairly manageable list to acomplish. I might slack a bit on the blog posts because I tend to be bad about that, but I’m trying to stick to it and make it a positive habit. Age of Myth is a joy to read, aside from the fact that I decided to purchase a physical copy, which means it’s not quite as easy to sneak into bed and read (I tend to use my kindle more than anything else) especially when my 3 year old daughter still has her crib in my room. I feel like this is a good year for reading, and I’m proud that I’ve been making time to enjoy it again. It’s important to me, even if it does end up being just a few pages here and there.

Happy reading!