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The first time, I found myself impressed with the historical references thrown in by the author.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

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Maunder: Readathon Results & September in Review

Hello Monday!

I was hoping to get this posted earlier, but this weekend was chaotic.  I even had to bring work home with me over the weekend, so I didn't get a lot of time for anything else.  Enough complaining though.  Let's get to the good stuff . . . my #FrightFall Readathon results and my monthly wrap-up!


The results of my #FrightFall Readathon was . . . well, frightful!  I was only able to read one book and start another.  Thankfully, I can tell that the second book is going to be so much better than the first!  Here's a quick wrap-up of the final stats:

Pages Read:  164 pages
Books Read:  1
Books Finished:  Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

And, for those interested, the second book that I started was The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.  I was also able to get at least a couple of hours of listening in on my audiobook, Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld.


Now, let's take a look at the whole month of September.  There is honestly not a lot to report.  With the start of my new job, the kids going back to school, and then the kids kicking off all their activities, I found myself not reading as much as I typically do or as much as I would like.  I think that combined with reading the same book almost the entire month (one that was not that intriguing to me, but yet I still found myself trudging through) left the month a bit on the thin side in the reading department.  Let's hope that October proves to be a more successful month in the books!  In the meantime, here's the usual monthly highlights from September . . .

The TOP POST for the month, in both hits and comments, was #30Authors Featuring Eleanor Brown.  No surprise there!  And, I can't wait to get my hands on her personal recommendation.

The TOP PIC for September was my intended reads for the month.  Sadly, I have only finished two of these books as of today.  However, I will be continuing with this stack this month until it is complete!

And, for my list of BOOKS READ . . . well, it was not actually a list, but a single book:  Ghosting by Edith Pattou.

September was not my best month of 2014.  Thank goodness that my previous months were better and I am still currently 11 books ahead of schedule for my goal of 75 for the year!

Did you participate in the FrightFall Readathon?  If so, how did you do?  How was your month of September?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fairy Tale Friday: Faithful John

Welcome to October's Fairy Tale Friday!

I was originally going to go with a scarier tale in honor of the month of creepy.  But, then I decided to go with my current selection instead because it really does have elements of disturbing in it, some more so than your usual horror novel!

Faithful John is another short story by The Brothers Grimm.  It is also known as Trusty John or John the True, and as the name suggests, features a loyal servant at the forefront of the story.  This loyal servant makes a promise to the king to protect and serve his only son.  However, after the king's death, he goes against his one promise and allows the boy to enter the one room that his father requested that he not see.  That one mistaken step leads the two on quite an adventure.  They create golden statues to woo a woman's heart.  They kidnap this said woman, but she agrees to marry her captor.  The two marry thanks to Faithful John stepping in to save both their lives.  And in the end, the young King sacrifices his own children to bring the loyal servant back to life.  Thankfully, once the servant's life was saved, he was able to bring back the children.

Where do I even start with this tale?!?  This so-called loyal servant completely disobeyed the King's last wish.  He continued to support the pursuit of this beautiful princess, even so far as to cover up the essential kidnapping of her.  After hearing the voices of ravens and their prophecies, he takes action to supposedly save the lives of both the new king and his bride, including sucking the bride's blood from her breast.  Then, once he is no longer in the picture, he requires the king to sacrifice his own children by beheading them with his own hand to provide him with yet another breath of life.  The one redeeming factor is that Faithful John restores the children's lives so that they all can live happily ever after.

Does anyone else see any abnormalities with this story?  Do you feel any dissonance and elements of disturbance like I do?