Thursday, December 8, 2016

FLASHBACK REVIEW: The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones

The perks of renovating my home is that I have had things packed away, and when a room is done, I get to unpack and discover all sorts of items that I have forgotten that I have.  One of these things is a pile of my notebooks that I frequently write book reviews in once I have finished the story.  This is one of those reviews, written in April 2015.

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Every March, Kristen of We Be Reading hosts DWJ March in honor of Diana Wynne Jones and her fantastical work.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this event ever since Kristen first introduced me to DWJ.  Sadly, this year I did not participate as much as I had hoped, but I was able to sneak in one new DWJ - The Time of the Ghost.  

The Time of the Ghost is truly a mystery at heart.  The story opens with the narrator realizing "There's been an accident!"  We follow along her path to figure out what this accident was and what must be done to move forward.  I cannot share more details than that without giving away crucial spoilers from the story.  I will tell you, however, that the story involves four very different sisters.  The narrator happens to be one of these sisters.  Fantasy elements make an appearance, but it is done in a realistic way.

I had fun with The Time of the Ghost.  There were times that I was confused.  There were times that I was enthralled.  I also found myself stumped and I think that I would understand and appreciate this one even more on a re-read.  Some day, I will do that.  In the meantime, I will have fun discovering more DWJ adventures.

Have you experienced the mystery of The Time of the Ghost?  What did you think?  What are some of your favorite DWJ titles?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

BOOK CHAT: November 2016 in Review


November has come to a close, and that means that 2016 is about to come to an end.  Thankfully!  It's been one heck of a year!!  This month really threw me for a loop, starting with the election.  We traveled a good bit and had a great Thanksgiving dinner.  And, to close out the month we kept up the excitement and moved my mother-in-law in for an undetermined amount of time.  (Please tell me that you could sense the sarcasm in that last sentence.)  On that note, let's take a look at the book stuff.  It's pretty light on all fronts this month, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed to finish strong in December!

The TOP POST for the month was quite a few.  In fact, I did not have many posts total, and with my usual parameters I am going to highlight almost every single post!  The post with the most hits was Thankfully Reading Weekend 2016.  However, the posts with the most comments was threefold -- BOOK CHAT:  October 2016 in Review; WEEKLY WANDERINGS:  Currently Reading & Final #ReadSherlock Giveaways; and The End of #ThankfullyReading Weekend.

The TOP PIC was no surprise because it featured books!  To be exact, it was my picture from my local independent bookstore on Small Business Saturday.  I purchased a stack of books, and it completely made my day!



My BOOKS READ for the month is the smallest list yet, and both of them were actually audiobooks.  I didn't finish a single print book all month.  Ugh!
  1. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
  2. Son by Lois Lowry
In order to meet my annual reading goal of 80 books this year, I will need to read 23 books during the month of December.  I don't think that is very likely!  At this point, I am hoping to read more books than I did in November.  If I'm lucky and finish all the books that I am currently reading and then some, I may be able to finish 13.  That's a lot of reading!  I don't work the last couple of weeks of the month, so let's see what I can do.

I really do have a lot to look forward to during the month of DECEMBER.  I've got Christmas parties and my kids' holiday concert.  I've got Christmas with my amazing little family.  We are continuing to work on my library and we are slowly making progress.  (Well, my husband is since he is doing most of the work these days!)  And, I've got some good time off at the end of the month to chill and relax and start fresh in 2017.  Maybe I will be able to get in some good reading along the way, too!

How was your November?  What are you looking forward to the most during this last month of 2016?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Hinges of Broams Eld by Jennifer Cano

Sometimes a book ends up in our hands by accident, and sometimes it is just meant to be.

The author of Hinges of Broams Eld contacted me via a referral of a fellow blogger.  She thought I would be interested in reading this little story, and despite my current desire to not accept any review requests, I relented.  As soon as I pulled the book from the package, I could feel the magic that it held.  The cover was gorgeous, and I immediately thought to myself that this is a book that I would have been drawn to if I had first seen it on the shelves at the bookstore.  Then I began reading the description from the back cover . . . 
Livy Hinge thinks that her biggest worries are the bully next door, the mysterious ingredients lurking in her mother's Everything Casserole, and the tricky dilemmas her overactive imagination land her in.  But even Livy has never envisioned trees slinging splinters big as swords at her.  Or falling off a giant moth five-hundred feet in the air, commanding the elements to stand still, or battling a throng of birds.  And she's certainly never been tasked with defeating an enemy bent on the destruction of her world.  Until now.

Livy Hinge is the main character is this vividly imaginative new tale by Jennifer Cano.  She is a young girl with a big imagination as the snippet of the description above indicates, but she is truly so much more than that.  She is down-to-earth and humorous and adventurous, and most importantly, she is a human child that experiences the difficulties of childhood like all of us.  With her brother by her side, she stands up to the bullies that haunt her school, her bus, and even her own land.  She misses her aunt that recently passed away, struggling to understand the loss of one of her favorites.  She is strong and she is smart.  She also discovers that the combination of all of these traits are about to send her on an adventure that will change her life forever; the way she views the world and the way she perceives herself.

Cano has created a magical world that blew her own Livy's imagination out of this world.  It's a world filled with unimaginable foods that may not tempt your tastebuds, but it does tempt your desires to explore the world around you.  You will see a tree and wonder what story it may hold within.  You see a door and envision a place you may be transported beyond.  You see an average girl and wonder what powers may be hidden within her to change the world.  

Hinges of Broams Eld is the beginning of a series, and that is my one complaint.  The story within the pages comes to a conclusion, but it also leaves you with questions left unanswered.  And questions left unanswered means I must wait until the next book in the series can land in my hands.  Until then, I will be passing this story on to my children to experience, so we can dive into the second installment together when it becomes available.

Thank you to the author for a copy of this book for an unbiased review.  For more information on Hinges of Broams Eld, visit the dedicated website here.

Have you discovered the world of Broams Eld?  If so, what is one piece of that world that you would like to see in our own?

Monday, November 28, 2016

The End of #ThankfullyReading Weekend


The long Thanksgiving weekend here in the States has come to a close, which means that the Thankfully Reading Weekend has also come to an end.  I shared with you last week my intent to participate in this annual event, and I went into the weekend with some pretty high hopes.  In fact, here is what I had to say as the event kicked off on Wednesday . . .
My life has been so chaotic and my schedule filled to the brim, but this weekend will be about catching up on some much-needed tasks around the house, spending some good time with family, and then a LOT of reading.

So, how did I fair on all these goals?  Well, I did catch up on many of those household tasks as I prepared for my family to arrive, and then cleaned up after they left.  I still have a bit of laundry I need to finish up, but that will get done over the next couple of days when I find the time.  I spent a LOT of good time with my family.  It was fun to get together, catch up, laugh, and then laugh some more.  I had the joy of spending a couple of days with a cousin that I have not seen in a while, and it was so good to hang out with him.  As for the reading, I think it was only okay.

I had hoped to finish my current audiobook, but it expired on me with less than an hour left.  I was not able to renew it, and discovered that I am #5 on the holds list.  Needless to say, I found a new audiobook and I went in search for the book at my local library to finish it in print.  For those wondering, the audiobook was Son by Lois Lowry, and I really needed to know what happened at the end of this quartet.  Overall, I think I listened to about an hour and a half of audio over the weekend.

As for the print books, I did not complete any books that I read, but I did read a bit here and there.  I read more Sherlock.  I read through a good chunk of my friend's manuscript.  And, I read more Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with my kids.  I did not keep track of all my total pages like I usually do, but I bet a read a few hundred pages overall.

Today, it was hard to return to work.  I know that I had a good long weekend to enjoy and relax, but I felt that I could have used one more whole day devoted only to reading and not all the other stuff.  Oh well!  I will accept what I did accomplish, and continue to enjoy my stories in the evenings and my spare time throughout this week.

How was your (Thanksgiving) weekend?  Were you able to get in some good reading time?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thankfully Reading Weekend 2016


I am officially starting my five day weekend, and there is no better way than to spend it with good food, family time, and of course, reading.  That's why I will be joining in this little readathon hosted by Jenn's Bookshelves:  Thankfully Reading Weekend.  It will run from Wednesday, November 23 through Sunday, November 27.  Here's a little something from Jenn herself regarding the purpose of the weekend . . .
There are no rules to the weekend, we’re simply hoping to devote a good amount of time to reading, and perhaps meeting some of our reading challenges and goals for the year.

Honestly, I'm looking forward to the long weekend of reading for some self care.  My life has been so chaotic and my schedule filled to the brim, but this weekend will be about catching up on some much-needed tasks around the house, spending some good time with family, and then a LOT of reading.  It will likely be in that order, so the bulk of my reading will be during the latter half of the weekend.  Though I may throw in some good movies that I've been wanting to catch up on!

I really prefer to read according to my mood, but I do have a list of books that I want to get through before the end of the year.  Therefore, I have made myself a stack of books that I will be pulling from over the next few days.  In addition to this stack, I will be listening to an audiobook or two, and finishing up my friend's manuscript.


I will posting updates via Twitter and Instagram throughout the weekend, and will share a wrap-up post here early next week.  I encourage you to follow along or join in with me!

Will you be joining in on the readathon?  What are your reading plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Currently Reading & Final #ReadSherlock Giveaways!


When I posted last week about my weekly check-in posts returning, I really had no idea that it would be so long before I posted again.  Then again, I didn't realize that the election was going to go the direction it did and that it would have such an effect on me.  I felt so drained last week emotionally, and the rumors running rampant from the kids surrounding me were HARD questions to address.  Fears arose, and many of them were from very irrational beliefs and lies, no matter who you believed would be the best president of the country.  Needless to say, my writing and my reading took a toll, but this week I am trying to bounce back and to find the comfort in these tasks.  And, so I am back!

Let's start with the promise I made last week with sharing my current reads.  The last few weeks, I have found myself dabbling in so many books.  I am finding it a task to focus on one book these days, so I am jumping between a number of reads.  I think it will be easier to just share with you the long list of books that I am in the midst of . . .
  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling  (This is my current read with my kids.  We each take turns picking the next read, and this is the book that my son desired.)
  2. The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce D. Perry (A book study for work.)
  3. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (The third Flavia de Luce novel, and my current audiobook.  I hope to finish it this week.)
  4. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1 by Arthur Conan Doyle (I simply could not put Sherlock aside quite yet.)
  5. Dead Wake by Erik Larson (A recent book club read that I was supposed to finish last month, but have not yet had the opportunity.)
  6. The Brothers Grimm:  101 Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm (I like the option of picking up a few short stories these days.)
  7. Play Therapy by Virginia M. Axline (Another read related to work.  One that I started too long ago.)
  8. Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson (All I can claim on this one is that I am currently a distracted reader.)
  9. A friend's unnamed manuscript (A fun read that I hope to finish within the next week.)

Nine books!!  I'm telling you it is ridiculous!  I'm used to having three books going at one time ... an audio, a print, and one with the kids, but this is just too much!  I'm thinking I need to get it back to the usual three books.


Also, I completely dropped the ball on all the #ReadSherlock giveaways.  In fact, I even forgot to contact the winners on a couple of them until now.  Here's a quick recap on the winners . . . 


Did You Miss Me Journals:  Kami & Jonnie


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Word Cloud Edition:  Marie 


Sherlock Bookmarks from simplywalkintomordor:  Deborah & Kai

?????

Mystery Sherlock Bookmark from Nook & Burrow:  Tasha

Be sure to check your email if you see your name on the list.  Then, email me back within the time limit mentioned.  I hope to have all prizes sent out no later than Saturday!

I will close with all that goodness.  

What are you currently reading these days?  How many books do you usually read at once?

Monday, November 7, 2016

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: The Return

For the longest time, I posted a weekly update here on the blog where I would just touch base on anything that was on my mind at the moment that I sat down to write.  Sometimes, it had to do with my current reading.  Sometimes, it was completely random and nothing to do with books.  I have discovered that since I have discontinued this feature at the beginning of the year I have felt that I am missing something.  I miss writing those posts.  I miss those little check-ins.  And, I miss the accountability that it provided me for writing regularly here on the blog.  Therefore, I've decided to bring them back.  But, I've decided to change it up.

I used to post every Monday, and I called the feature Monday Maunder.  I do not want to be restricted to only posting these weekly thoughts on Mondays because Mondays tend to be one of the craziest days of the week for me.  Plus, the graphic was getting a little old.  I decided to give myself a bit of flexibility by changing the name to Weekly Wanderings.  The name still reflects the randomness that the post may hold, but it also allows me to post it anytime during the week.  I will likely stick to sharing early in the week, but it will not require me to with a name like Monday Maunder did.

With the new name, also must come a new image.  May I present to you, the new Weekly Wanderings image . . .


For a long time, I used PicMonkey to assist me in creating a few of my images for the blog.  Recently, I have begun to also use Canva, and this is just one of the images that I have created thanks to this amazing website.  I love the clean cut designs, and the options you have to create either complex or more minimalist images.  I could spend hours just creating on both of these websites, but alas, I only have limited time these days.

I really have so much to share with you about life and reading these days, but I will save the topic of current reads for next week's conversation.  For now, I will leave you with a video of a song that has been playing in my head for about a week now.  I had the opportunity at the end of October to attend a Ben Folds concert, and I had such a blast!  I knew the man was talented, but really it goes beyond that.  He is amazing and funny and I couldn't have asked for a better night out with my husband.  I hope you enjoy!



What are your thoughts on these weekly check-in posts, whether it be my new Weekly Wanderings or another that is floating around out there?  Or, would you rather talk about the music of Ben Folds?!?  

Friday, November 4, 2016

BOOK CHAT: October 2016 in Review


October was quite a month of reading fun!  My month was filled with #ReadSherlock; days filled with chatter about the great Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.  I'm still reading Doyle's work, and think I will continue until I get through all of it.  Maybe I can finish it before the end of the year.  Then, we had Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon!  A day filled with reading, relaxing, and fun with my kids.  I was able to catch up on a bit of my reading goal, and I got myself back into blogging regularly.  I attended a fabulous concert of Ben Folds.  On top of all that, we completed the renovations on the office and started my dream library!!  Before we get into the details of the month, let's take a look at the before picture of the said dream library.


Now, for the details and usual monthly statistics . . . The TOP POST for the month was more than one.  It was more than two.  It was tied at three!  Operation #ReadSherlock Guest:  The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes received the most comments and hits for the month.  Two additional posts also came in with the same number of comments for the month . . . Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon:  October 2016 and Operation #ReadSherlock Hub:  Week One & Link-Up.

The TOP PIC for the month featured my little reading buddy!  Nothing beats a little cuddling while reading a good book.


As for the BOOKS READ, this has been my BEST reading month so far this year!  Let's take a look at the list:
  1. Hinges of Broams Eld by Jennifer Cano
  2. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
  3. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
  4. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
  5. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
  6. Jedi Academy:  A New Class by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  7. Dork Diaries:  Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell
  8. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
  9. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
  10. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
  11. Messenger by Lois Lowry

It was such a fabulous reading month, but there is definitely one book that stands out as my FAVORITE READ . . . The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.  There were really so many more great books in this stack, but this start to the Flavia de Luce series was a fun and very unexpected pleasure.

There is really so much to look forward to in the month of NOVEMBER . . . the results of this crazy election year, progress on the renovations in my library, Thanksgiving, and lots more great reading!  I am not officially participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year, but I am working on making writing a regular daily habit again.  I will be working to get back to a regular blogging schedule (without a month of hosting a special event) and pulling out some old stories to begin building on again.  There is really so much to look forward to!

How was your October?  Do you have any big plans for the month of November?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Operation #ReadSherlock Ends: Wrapping It Up & Final Giveaway


Today is the final day of October (and it is really the final hours!), which means that is the final day of Operation #ReadSherlock!  I can't believe how quickly the month flew by!  Let's take a few minutes to look back at this final week, and then I will share some of my own final thoughts.  Let's start with a quick shot from Instagram!


ICYMI:  There were only two posts from this last week, but one was the favorite fandom results from the survey that we started the week with.  That was a fun one!


Overall, I had a blast this last month, and got to read some of the Sherlock stories that I had not previously read.  I am considering doing something Sherlock related again in the future because there is just so much more to chat about than what I did this last month.  And, some of the chatting I wanted to do, I simply just didn't have time to do.  Speaking of this future event, this is where you all come in and I'm going to attach it to my . . . 

FINAL GIVEAWAY.  I have a special order on the way from Nook & Burrow.  It is a bookmark that I consulted with the artists about, and I cannot wait to see it in person.  It is shipping from Australia, so as soon as I receive it, I will turn it around and mail it out to you.  

But, how do you enter?  Simply comment on this post with feedback on the event:  what did you like or dislike about the event, what you would like to see in future Sherlock events, would you like to see a future event as a full month or just a week-long event?  Leave your email address so I can contact you.  All comments received within one week (through Monday, November 7, 2016) will be entered.  One entry per person, and I will open this one up internationally as well.

Thank you to all who participated in #ReadSherlock!  It is because of you that the event was so much fun!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Operation #ReadSherlock Fandom: The Survey Results Are In!


The month of Operation #ReadSherlock is quickly coming to a close, but I still have a surprise or two up my sleeve for you!  But first, we must take a look at the survey results that I asked you to vote on during the first day of the event.  I only received a handful of votes, so if you didn't have a chance to share your opinions on these questions, chime in on the comments!

WINNER:  The Hound of the Baskervilles


WINNER:  Benedict Cumberbatch


WINNER:  BBC's SHERLOCK


I also totally forgot to ask about your favorite Dr. Watson!  So, let me know what you think!  Would you say it is Martin Freeman from BBC's SHERLOCK, Jude Law from Warner Brother's SHERLOCK HOLMES, or Lucy Liu from CBS's ELEMENTARY?

Go on!  Share your favorites!