Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Harkness finally completes her All Souls Trilogy with The Book of Life!  If you read my reviews of the first two in the series (A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night), you would probably guess that I went into this story with high expectations.  I really wanted to be more than satisfied; I wanted to be wow'ed by the conclusion of this trilogy.

In this final installment, Diana and Matthew return home in both time and space, and as is their fashion, they do it with an extravagant, yet quiet entrance.  They discover that things have changed in their absence.  The stakes have been raised.  And, it is time that they raise their own if there is to be any hope for themselves and the rest of their family.

The Book of Life was a finale that brought the "WOW!"  We saw the return of previously loved characters and made me love them even more.  Harkness turned the story in completely unexpected ways that left me impressed.  Everything about this story went above and beyond my expectations.  It never did disappoint.

I have my copies of my books sitting on a living room shelf.  When I see the beautiful covers reflecting in the light, it reminds me of the magic of this story - a magic that will always hold a special place in my heart!

Have you been moved by The Book of Life and the All Souls Trilogy?  What are the parts or who are the characters that stand out the most to you?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Maunder: To Be Continued . . .

I am currently spending a little time in the beautiful city of Seattle!  I will be back next week during the regularly scheduled time to chat more with you about books.  In the meantime, you can probably catch a few of my adventures on Instagram.

Until next week . . .

What are you currently reading?  Do you have any big plans this week?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

I first read Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness in September 2012, and despite the disappointing fact that I never reviewed it here, it did make my list of favorite reads in 2012.  When the final book in the trilogy was released earlier this year, I knew it was time to revisit the story.

Shadow of Night is the second installment of the All Souls Trilogy, following the story of Diana and Matthew.  Diana, a descendant of the Bishop witches, has found a friendship and more in Matthew, a vampire.  The two of them unsuspectingly put a plan in motion in A Discovery of Witches, sending them on a dangerous adventure around the world.  As Shadow of Night opens, the two are taking their adventure beyond the constraints of world travel to a world in another time.  The initial adventures were crazy and dangerous, but these new adventures and challenges that the two face are unimaginable and unexpected.

The first time, I found myself impressed with the historical references thrown in by the author.  In fact, I frequently found myself researching individuals and how their real-life past played into this new fictional world.  On my re-read, I already was aware of these connections and could focus more on the story and the relationships formed in another time and place.  In my conversations with other readers of this installment, I have often heard many say this is the weakest of the series.  I disagree.  I believe the connections traced and relationships formed actually have shaped this book into one of the strongest middle books in a trilogy that I have ever read.  It was fascinating, intriguing, and I hated setting the book aside and leaving the world that Harkness magically created.

In case you missed my latest review of A Discovery of Witches that was posted yesterday, click on over and check it out now!

What are your thoughts on Shadow of Night?  Have you found other strong middle books in a series or trilogy that you would rave about?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Back in 2011, I reviewed this book for the first time here at Tif Talks Books.  In that review, I made a promise . . .
"I promise you that I will return to this book at some point in the future . . ."
This year, I have fulfilled that promise thanks to the release of the final book in the trilogy.

A Discovery of Witches introduces us to Diana, a descendant of the infamous witches of the Salem witch trials, and Matthew, a man infamous in his own scientific and paranormal right.  The two unlikely friends set an adventure in motion that rattles the world around them.

I obviously loved this book the first time around.  On my re-read of Diana's and Matthew's tale, I was able to savor their story, lingering through the scenes that I may have devoured the first time around.  The result was an intensified appreciation of Harkness's creation.

The first time around, A Discovery of Witches made my favorites of the year list.  This time has cemented it in my favorites of all time!

Have you had the pleasure of reading (savoring or devouring) A Discovery of Witches?  What do you believe makes this story shine?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Joan of Arc

Another shot from my photography workshop in August.

For more Wordless Wednesday, 

What are your thoughts on this shot?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Maunder: Dewey's Readathon Results

Sometimes, you just need a day that you can read all day.  And, I tried to make Saturday that day thanks to Dewey's Readathon.

I listened to my audiobook of Sisterland.  I finished my current read of The Haunting of Hill House.  And, I started a new book, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  I thought my stats were going to be awesome.  Turns out that I didn't read as much as I thought I did, but I am completely okay with that.  I got more reading in than I have in a long time.  I had a nice relaxing day, and even had some great conversations with my fellow readathon participants.  The stats don't necessarily prove that, but I'm looking at the quality of this readathon over the quantity!

For those more interested in the quantity, however, here were my official stats:
  • Listened to Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld for approximately 66 minutes.
  • Completed The Haunting of Hill House with a total of 110 pages read.
  • Started Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand with a total of 27 pages.
  • Total pages read were 137 pages.

Thanks to the organizers and fellow participants for kicking my reading in gear, and doing it with some fun and relaxation!  It was just what the doctor ordered!

Did you participate in the readathon?  How did you do?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dewey's Readathon: Fall 2014

Tomorrow morning, I will be kicking off Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, and it could not have come at a better time.  Life has been so crazy since I started my new job, and my reading has taken a big hit.  This weekend, I really do not have a lot scheduled and I am looking forward to spending a good chunk of my Saturday reading and relaxing.

I have compiled a good pile of books to get me through the day.  I will likely not be able to finish all of them, but I am hoping to at least get to a good chunk of them.

I am already about halfway through The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, so that is the one that I will be starting with.  From there, I may read a short story or two from Joe Hill's book, and then dive into one of the others.  If I'm really needing some quick reads, I may dive into that huge stack of Christopher Pike books that are the extras in the back.  Also, I can't forget my current audio read!  I will be working on Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld when I need a break from the written words.

I will be posting updates via Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr throughout the readathon, so catch me there.  I will post my wrap-up results in my usual weekly wrap-up on Monday.

Will you be joining in the readathon?  What books would we find on your stack?  (Please feel free to share links.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: What The Hay?!?

Welcome to Wordless Wednes-HAY!


Win-hay the Pooh

My Own Little Flur-hay



For more information on What The Hay or also known as the Montana Bale Trail, check out their official website.

For more Wordless Wednesday selections, click here.

Which one of these pieces is your favorite?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Maunder: My Plate is Full

How can it already be Monday again?!?

Seriously, it seems just a couple of days ago that I was writing last week's Monday Maunder, sharing the latest readathon results and wrapping up the month of September.  Now, we are quickly approaching the middle of October and I am back at the beginning of the week to start the whole routine over again.  Life has just gotten so crazy and it is taking me a bit longer than expected to adjust back to working full-time.

My day is full of appointments, meetings, paperwork, and an exploding email inbox.

I leave work to chauffeur my kids to their activities, which I really actually enjoy watching them participate in.

I finally get home to eat, clean up a bit, and sit down to relax; finally getting the time to read or write.

As I think about it, I think that my plate is full.  My work is the meat of the day.  Time spent with my kids (even if a lot of it is in the car) is the grains . . . and one of my favorite parts.  My time to read and write and relax is the fruits and vegetables.  And, I clearly have been neglecting one of the most important food groups to balance out my diet.  I need more of those fruits and veggies!

Thank heavens I have a few things coming up that will help fill that deficiency!

The first is Dewey's Readathon this Saturday!  I have already warned my family that I expect to sit home and read all day (with the exception of my son's football game, of course).  And, that is what I plan to do!  I will share the details of what I plan to read later this week, once I see where I am at with my reading in the next few days.

The second is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  I had planned to participate in this last year, but failed miserably.  This year, I am giving it another go and hope to have a better plan than I ever have before.  I have been trying to build writing into my work day, which results in me spending my lunch hour hidden in a corner at work with my pen and paper.

When I think about how full my plate is, it makes me feel better to think about all the good that is coming.  It feels good to know that I can still fit in the things that I love and that fill me up . . . even if I am missing things along the way.  The house isn't clean every single day.  The laundry piles up.  I may postpone deadlines for things that are not really priorities.

Life has had to be altered over the last month, but I finally feel like I am figuring it out.  I am exhausted by the end of the day, but sleeping better.  I am reading less, but am still reading almost every single day.  My plate is full, but I still get a little dessert every now and then, indulging in the sweets of life.  I can live with that!

(It has been a hard month as I transition into this new routine.  This is me trying to be positive, and I actually feel like it might be working!  On that note, it's time to publish and go read in bed!)

What fun things do you have coming up that are filling the voids in your life?!?  Will you be joining in the readathon or NaNoWriMo with me?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014