I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.
Blurb: Dorothy returns to Oz during a storm only to find that the magical kingdom has been conquered by the evil Nome King and Mombi the Witch, and she sets out with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and other new friends to find the rightful ruler.
I chose this book for today’s Shabby Sunday because I enjoyed this movie as a child and I love the novelization. My copy is the original from 1985 and is in very rough shape with a worn cover and heavy wear to the pages.
After Dorothy’s original return from Oz, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry tell her that Oz was never real, but Dorothy finds a key from Oz and realizes that it simply isn’t true. A wicked storm returns her to Oz, but she finds that it’s nothing like it was when she left.
I read this many years ago after watching the movie featuring Fairuza Balk. The book is way better than the movie, in my opinion, because it really gets into the characters and their feelings. It covers the entire story of the movie, but also has added extras from the original screenplay that weren’t in the movie.
The writing is simple and this is a quick, easy read that’s even suitable for upper elementary readers. Although I remember the movie being a little scary, the book isn’t as bad and I wouldn’t hesitate to read it out loud to my younger kids. There are also photographs from the movie which make it even more enjoyable. Even though I would prefer Baum’s original Oz books over this one, it’s still one that I’ll keep on my shelf for the nostalgia. This gets a 3.5-star rating from me.
Last month, we took a trip to Barnes and Noble and picked up The Unicorn in the Barn. We were instantly attracted to the title, cover, and blurb. I had the pleasure of reading The Unicorn in the Barn with my younger children and you can see my review and author interview with Jacqueline K. Ogburn below.
For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away.
One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead.
When Eric discovers the unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed.
A tender tale of love, loss, and the connections we make, The Unicorn in the Barn shows us that sometimes ordinary life takes extraordinary turns. – Goodreads
Have you ever seen a Unicorn? Eric has, and now his life may be changed forever.
Eric’s grandmother isn’t well and has been put into a nursing home. Her house is now being occupied by someone new, a girl named Allegra, and her mother, a veterinarian. One day, Eric stumbles upon Allegra pounding in a “No Trespassing” sign on the tree where his treehouse resides: his favorite place to be. They don’t seem to like each other, but Eric doesn’t know yet that Allegra may not be as awful as she seems.
As Eric spends more time around the woods and farmhouse, he begins to discover magical creatures, including a white and glowing animal he first thinks is a pony. Soon, he realizes this beautiful pony-like animal is a unicorn: the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. He soon observes that she’s living in the old barn near the farmhouse which has been converted into a vet practice by Allegra’s mother. The unicorn was meant to remain a secret, but Eric is inquisitive and must find out everything he can about this magnificent creature.
We absolutely loved all the magical creatures in the book, especially Moonpearl, the majestic unicorn. The talking animals reminded us of another favorite children’s story-Charlotte’s Web. The human characters are memorable and even though it’s an imaginary story, it felt real. The relationship between Eric and his grandmother is heartwarming and we admired how Eric and Allegra’s friendship developed over time.
There were a few events in the book that we needed to stop and discuss that dealt with loss and mourning and not everything unfolded the way we wanted it to. Overall, this story was beautiful and something I would’ve loved reading as a child. We fell in love with all of the illustrations and found ourselves wanting more. My kids did enjoy it and I’m happy to have it as part of our home library.
My rating on this book is 5*****
You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon as well as many other bookstores.
Age Range: 10 – 12 years
Grade Level: 5 – 7
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (July 4, 2017)
Author Interview with Jacqueline K. Ogburn
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: I didn’t really start calling myself a writer until after about my third picture book. By then I began to believe it was something I was good at, not just a fluke. I had always written things – poetry, journals, letters – starting when I was around 8 or 9.
Q: What made you decide to write children’s books?
A: My path was a bit unusual. I had moved to New York City in my early 20s because I wanted to work in book publishing. My first job was in children’s books, and it made me remember how I fell in love with reading. I wrote my first picture book when I misunderstood a book title. I thought it was The Noise Lullaby, but it turned out to be The Norse Lullaby. Not nearly as intriguing a title, so I wrote a manuscript to go along with the incorrect one.
A: Like many people, I started with poetry. I like playing with the rhythms and how intricate they could be. Writing a poem can be like solving a puzzle, finding how the pieces fit.
Q: What influenced you to write The Unicorn in the Barn and are any of your books influenced by your childhood?
A: My daughter sparked the idea, when she mentioned that unicorns might be hard for a vet to treat. The setting of the story is based on the farm in North Carolina near Charlotte where my grandmother and my mother grew up, and my uncle still lives. I tried to give it a Southern feel, but not in a stereotypical way.
My book The Jukebox Man was based on my grandfather, who had jukeboxes and pool tables at bars and restaurants throughout North Carolina. The illustrator, James Ransome, also used my house in one of the pictures.
Q: How does writing make you feel and does it come easy for you?
A: I hate starting a piece. Starting is so hard, trying to find a way in. Those first few sentences set up so much. Once I get past that, it is very absorbing. Picture books are so short that I can usually write a full draft in a day or two. I can hold the whole picture book in my head while I research and work out the plot or the structure.
Novels are hard because they have so much middle. Some many possible blind alleys and it seems to magically expand. Or you get stuck and aren’t sure how to keep it building towards the end.
Q: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A: That’s like asking who is your favorite child. I love them all. I have published 10 picture books and one middle-grade novel. I love The Reptile Ball because it was a collection of poems. The Magic Nesting Doll was an original fairy tale. The Bake Shop Ghost because it is about cakes and a cranky ghost. Also because I got to write a musical based on it and see it performed, and it was made into a short film, which I got to see being made.
Q: What makes a great children’s book?
A: It’s easier to say what makes a bad one – a didactic approach, condescending tone, sugary sweet sentimentality, not respecting that children are people, stories that rote, routine and boring.
Q: Why don’t you illustrate your own books and what’s the process like for finding illustrators?
A: While I like to draw, I haven’t developed that talent. There are so many incredible artists out there, and I have been lucky in the ones who had illustrated my books. I don’t find the illustrators, the publisher does that, because they give a separate contract to the artist. I usually discuss the style of art the story needs with the publisher. Lots of artists have turned down my stories, for all sorts of reason – they didn’t like it, didn’t fit their schedule, etc. Once I met an illustrator years after he turned down my story. He did wonderful, realistic illustrations of children that were beautiful and intense. He remembered my story. He explained that he didn’t do it because the action took place inside, and he hated drawing interiors. He loved illustrating outdoor scenes.
Q: What’s the publishing process been like for you and how do you market your books?
A: I have been very lucky in my publishing career. I don’t have an agent, but have worked with several editors at three different houses. I have had several books rejected, and probably don’t market those enough. I do some online marketing for my published, but that is changing so rapidly that it is hard to keep up. I do some school visits, but I have a day job, so I’m not a true road warrior.
Q: Do you like to read a lot? If so, who are some of your favorite authors and are there any that heavily influence your writing?
A: I read constantly. I’m the type of person who reads the cereal box if there is nothing else around. For picture books, Margaret Mahy was an influence – she is very funny and whimsical and playful with language. For a novel, The Bridge to Terabithia was an influence.
Q: When it comes to writing, what tools do you use?
A: Pen for poetry, computer for prose.
Q: How long did it take you to write The Unicorn in the Barn?
A: More years than it should have – about 10. I didn’t work on it consistently. I would put it away for months at a time, then find myself thinking about the characters and work on it until I got stuck again.
Q: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
A: The middle kept growing, that there were more things I realized I needed to put in that weren’t part of the original outline.
Q: Will there be any other books regarding Moonpearl or the characters in this book in the future?
A: I have some chapters of a sequel, told from Allegra’s point of view. The main magical creature is a griffin, because I love the hybrid of lion and eagle.
Q: How did you come up with the character names in the book and are any characters or events based on anything true?
A: My daughter who gave me the spark, her middle name is Harper, so I used that for Eric’s family name. I did research by volunteering at the Piedmont Wildlife Center, so some of the details about the clinic are drawn from that, and the farm is based on the one where my grandmother and mother grew up.
Q: I appreciated that the book dealt with some harder topics like aging, death, and mourning which can be difficult for children to cope with. Did you make any major edits to the book or have other endings for the story?
A: I changed an important scene. Originally Eric tried to take the unicorn to his grandmother and Moonpearl ran away after being frightened by a car. My editor and husband thought it made Eric seem too selfish and unsympathetic. So I had to change a lot and ended up with the wampus cat.
If you tell a story about a hospital or a doctor, about healing, then death is always a possibility. I called a friend crying once, because I realized I needed to include the death of an animal if it was going to be a fantasy grounded in reality.
Being the parent or grandparent of a children’s book protagonist is risky business – they die off at an alarming rate. The loss of a grandparent or a pet are frequently a child’s first experience of death, and the initial setting I created made them almost inevitable. I tried to do it in a way that was emotionally true, but not crushing. To show that these things can be faced, especially with help.
Q: Do you have any advice for parents who are dealing with struggling readers?
A: That is a bit outside my expertise, but modeling reading is one. Anything that appeals to an interest they have, don’t worry about if it’s “good” just something that they want to figure out. Reading out loud, just as sharing, not as pressure.
Q: Are you working on anything now and do you have any future projects planned?
A: The possible sequels and I have an idea for a series, maybe a bit younger than this.
Q: What else do you like to do outside of writing?
A: I live in Durham, North Carolina, which is now a foodie town. I like to cook and eat well. I grow herbs and flowers and tomatoes, because not even the farmer’s market has tomatoes as good as the ones in your own backyard.
I’d like to thank Jacqueline K. Ogburn for her time in completing this interview.
Blurb: In her thirteenth life, Aven has settled into the now witchcraft-friendly Salem where she has found true happiness and friendship, maybe even love. Despite her contentment, the truth of Aven’s existence haunts her. When she dies, her Spirit is forced from the Veil to live again in the body of a stranger.
Does the elusive white raven, who has shadowed Aven through each of her lives, hold the secret to her release–or is it the cause?
To make matters worse, an unrelenting, twisted evil from Aven’s past lurks closely behind her. Sustained by his hatred of the witch, he won’t give up until she’s paid for what she did to him.
When the truth of Aven’s connection to the white raven is revealed, it is more horrifying than she could ever have imagined.
Her freedom will come at a terrible price. And even then, will she truly be free?
Paperback: 410 pages
Publisher: FiveFold Press; First edition (April 28, 2017)
Aven is living the happiest life she’s ever had, and she’s had twelve others before. She lives with memories from her past lives and unfortunately her deaths too, including the remembrance of her murderer-Morris Stiles.
“This is the happiest I’ve ever been. I have been through so much pain and suffering in my previous lives, but here I feel like I’ve finally found a place where I belong and can thrive. When the recurring dread and despair that this life will end too soon creep into my mind, I pack them back down tightly. I’ve set aside all thoughts of my curse for now. I will make this a good life.”
Aven’s been cursed to continue living on Earth no matter how many times she dies. In this life, she’s settled down in Salem and owns a little shop where she does readings and sells magickal items. She has Jo- her very close and supportive friend who accepts her for who she is and has true power herself, Cal- a man who’s just come into the picture and might be just what Aven needs, and the white raven- who seems to follow her wherever she goes, but she cannot see it.
“He’s always around you, you know,” she says absently, looking off behind me again. “I know.” I don’t turn around; he won’t be there. “But he never shows himself. This has been going on for several lifetimes. I think almost all of them.” I can’t remember a time when the bird wasn’t there.”
Everything seems to be perfect until suddenly something haunts Aven from her past. Will she overcome it? How will she ever break this curse of living over and over again?
This book is written well and I thought the character development was perfect. The characters are memorable and I must say, Aven ended up being my favorite character in the book. She’s so strong-minded and doesn’t let anything stop her from using her magick. She has a strong and important message to be who YOU want to be. I loved Maggie – her canine companion, Jo, and Sylvia as well. I cherished all the details, descriptions and imagery that really pull you in and make you feel like you’re living the story. The author managed to add a little bit of everything here–romance, magick, jealousy, friendship, evil, and love. This is the perfect book to read this time of year, especially with all the magick and Halloween elements. I’m hopeful there’s going to be a sequel and I’ll definitely be reading it if there is!
Are there any authors that have inspired your writing?
My tastes change all the time and I take away a little something from every author I read. Who has affected me more recently is Paula Brackston (The Silver Witch, The Witch’s Daughter). Her writing style is like a song in my head.
What have you written so far?
I’ve written many stories over the decades but only completed and published one, The White Raven.
What are some of your writing tactics? Do you outline?
I am a planner! I outline, research, and spreadsheet or diagram as much as I can about the story. I create character dossiers, also. The outline for TWR was 18 pages. I don’t treat the outline as gospel, though. I use it mostly as a guideline. If my writing veers off in other directions, I go with it. I scraped many pages of TWR’s outline because I loved the different directions it went.
Do you do all your own editing?
While I do revise and edit as much as I can, I know what my limitations are. I hire professionals for that kind of stuff.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do?
A year and a half ago, I quit my ‘day job’ to become a full-time writer. I was a vice president of a software company, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I decided that it was time to take the leap, to take a shot at the dream I’ve had since I was a kid. I have zero regrets.
What do you love most about writing?
I love seeing the story build and grow. I love seeing the characters come alive, watching their unique personalities and behaviors take shape. I love the tingling feeling, the excitement flitting around in my chest as an amazing scene flies out of my fingers.
How do you publish and market your books?
I decided early on that I would self-publish. I am a bit of a control freak, so it made sense for me to go that route in the beginning. I initially published exclusively on Amazon, but in July I expanded to everywhere else – Nook, iTunes, Kobo, etc. I’m running ads on Amazon and Kobo right now.
Do you have any advice for others on publishing and marketing?
One word: RESEARCH. Don’t just do things blindly. Don’t wing it. Research, research, research. Follow and observe what other authors are doing, read articles on best practices and the mistakes made by others, and ask questions. That will save you heartache, headaches, and embarrassment in the future. And for heaven’s sake, don’t create your own book cover or rely on only your own editing skills. Hire professionals!
What do you consider literary success?
I have discovered that my definition of literary success has a few levels. My initial success was that I actually published a book! Now that people are buying it and giving it great reviews, that’s a whole new level of success to me. The way that feels in my heart, knowing that people are sitting down on their couches or curled up in their beds with my book in their hands, giving me their precious time, gives me such a feeling of success that I couldn’t have imagined before. My next success will be when I can make my car payment without having to dip into my savings. 😀
What made you decide to write this book?
The creation of this book sprang out of frustration. At the time, years ago, I couldn’t find any books featuring witches that weren’t annoyingly cliche or that didn’t perpetuate the Hollywood or Christian stereotype. I wanted to write the kind of book that I wanted to read. Since then, I’ve discovered several authors that pen wonderful stories featuring witches and magick that I just love, so I’m very happy with the shift that’s taken place over the years.
Can you tell us about the covers for The White Raven and who designed them?
The original book cover was designed by an artist, Helen Lloyd (http://www.helenlloyd.com), from England who specializes in animals. I had seen an amazing pencil drawing of a crow and knew she would be the one to bring Ren to life. I kept the original cover for about 3 months.
After doing some more research on how book covers should be done, I decided to go a different route with it. The new design was done by Damonza (http://www.damonza.com) and I’m thrilled with it.
Are you working on anything now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m 23k words into a story involving copper pennies, dead criminals, a bad guy wanting to do bad things involving demons, an old woman’s spirit held in a cracked crystal ball, and twin red-headed sisters who know nothing about magick but have to stop the bad guy from doing bad things with his own spell book they can’t read. It’s set mostly in modern-day Prague and Boston but will venture back into the 1930s. I foresee these sisters becoming a series. Two or three books, I think.
Do you think your writing will remain in the fantasy genre?
Probably but I do have a science fiction idea in my head. Maybe one day I’ll resurrect the high fantasy I started 15+ years ago. I even created a world map. It’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.
Is Halloween a special time for you and an inspiration for writing this magickal book with Halloween elements?
I absolutely love Halloween. Not just because it’s my birthday either. If I could dress in costume all the time and have my home decorated for Halloween all year long and not be looked at like a crazy person, I would totally do it.
Do you have a special connection with Salem or have you visited there?
I’ve visited it twice. Once because I was in Boston on business and the second time as research for the book.
How much research did you do for The White Raven and how long did it take you to write it?
As they say, write what you know! I didn’t do that much research for the witchcraft aspects of the book. I am a witch myself, so I knew much of this already. I needed help from my sisters in the Craft when it came to the past life rituals, of which I knew nothing, and the selection of a stone to shield energy. And I’m not very good with auras so I researched online what colors are associated with deep negative emotions. Although I had been to Salem before, I went back there to specifically research the area for the book. All-in-all, it took me about 3 months to write the whole thing, minus the few chapters I’d written over the years, which got mostly rewritten.
Is there a book trailer for The White Raven or do you intend on making one?
I’ve considered it but no, it’s not in my plan. It’s a costly endeavor, especially since I want movie-quality awesomeness.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The hardest part by far to write was the first sex scene, no pun intended. I ended up having to google how to do it! How much detail do I go into? How far do I go? What euphemisms do I use without sounding corny? I think that first one was rewritten three or four times, thanks to the help of my editor.
I loved the ending and have to ask, will there be a sequel to The White Raven and when can we expect it?
There will absolutely be a sequel. I hope to get it out sometime in late 2018.
Was anything edited out and did you have alternate endings for the book?
Honestly, I had the ending written years ago. I never had any other thoughts on how else it could end. It simply had to end like it did. As for what was edited out, the original manuscript was over 115k words. The final was about 107k. With the guidance of my amazing editor, she helped me streamline scenes and cull bits that did nothing to move the story along or build out a character.
If The White Raven were adapted into a movie, who would you see playing the main characters?
I see Eva Green as Aven, maybe even Kate Beckinsale or Charlize Theron.
I’m taking a hiatus from Breakfast and a Book because I’m catching up on reading and won’t be able to add a new book this week. I should be back next week.
I’m always looking for friends on Goodreads that have similar tastes. I like learning about new books and discussing them with others, so I decided to experiment with a new idea and thought it would be neat to find readers that I’m friends with on Goodreads and share them with you. Maybe they might be someone you’d like to add too. As I find readers with an interest, I’ll introduce them.
Meet the Reader Series
Today’s Featured Reader:
David – proud Gleeman in Branwen’s adventuring party
Q: Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?
A: I did! I actually started reading at a very young age. My parents used to have audio cassettes of me reading “Sam & The Firefly” out loud when I was only two and a half years old. During my grammar school years, I mostly read mysteries, it probably was influenced by my love of Scooby Doo cartoons at that time! I used to read series like “The Hardy Boys“, “Encyclopedia Brown“, and “The Three Investigators“. Then when I was around 12 years old, I read Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”, which was unlike anything I had ever read before, and I realized how magical books could really be!
Q: What are some of your favorite books this year or last?
A: Well, the last couple of years, I’ve been taking part in a buddy read of the entire “Wheel of Time” series with one of my best friends. That’s over 12,000 pages, it might be the most epic buddy read in history! This series has such vast world building and is populated with compelling characters who truly grow as the series goes on, it’s been an enthralling read. I also read “To Kill a Mockingbird” last year for the very first time… such a powerful book, I have no idea why I waited so long to read it!
Q: What are your favorite book genres?
A: My first love is the fantasy genre, both high fantasy and urban fantasy. There are so many new worlds and imaginative adventures to find there. I also like science fiction, although truth be told, I don’t have a very sciencey brain, so sometimes I can get a little lost if the author gets really intricate with the scientific elements… this tends to happen to me a lot in the cyberpunk and steampunk sub genres. Still, the stories themselves are often so good I still enjoy the stories even if I get confused at times. I’m also a big fan of mysteries and graphic novels as well.
Q: What are some of your favorite authors?
A: Well, I’ve always credited Agatha Christie for igniting my love of reading, so I will be eternally grateful to her for that! One of my favorite authors right now is Brandon Sanderson, who I think has crafted some of the most amazing stories I have ever read. Other authors whose work has really stayed with me are J.K. Rowling, N.K. Jemisin, Robert Jordan, Jim Butcher, Gail Simone, Eve Forward, and Brian K. Vaughan. Also, one author I have to give a special mention to is R.A. Salvatore. Not only do I love his action-packed fantasy novels (especially with his ability to describe sword fights in such a fluid way), but he indirectly introduced me to my friend Branwen, the same person I’m currently doing the “Wheel of Time” buddy read with! I was reading Salvatore’s “Sojourn” novel when Branwen started posting on my GoodReads status updates about the book, and through our appreciation of the same author, she and I began a wonderful friendship that continues to this day!
You can check out Branwen’s Goodreads Profile HERE.
Q: How many books are on your TBR shelf?
A: Oooh… like many people, I don’t think I’ll ever manage to read every book on my TBR shelf! I think right now there are over 700 books on it! Exposure to more books is both a blessing and a curse of GoodReads. On the one hand, it introduces me to so many books out there that sound like something I’d love to read. However, the operative phrase there is “so many”! Thanks to Goodreads, I now know about all these books I want to read, but I’ll never have time to read them all unless I live to be at least 900 years old!
Q: What’s an emotional book, or one you won’t forget that you’ve read this year or last?
A: The first book that sprang to mind when you asked this is “All The Light We Cannot See”. It was such a heart-wrenching story about how war tears people apart on all sides. I was especially moved by Werner’s role in the book. Watching him start out as such a sweet and innocent child and being slowly indoctrinated into the Hitler youth movement was equal parts tragic and horrifying. Plus, there are all the hardships that Marie-Laure suffered while trying to elude the Nazis. Not gonna lie, while reading it, my eyes did water up several times!
Q: Is there a book you really didn’t enjoy this year or last?
A: One book I just couldn’t get into was a paranormal mystery called “Dark Side of Sunset Pointe“. It sounded great on paper, a freelance photographer who saw ghosts and was plagued by premonitions, trying to use his link with the supernatural to help solve a murder. Unfortunately, I found the characters bland and some of the attempts at writing in a noir style just felt too forced to me. Still, the book has several four-star and five-star reviews on Goodreads, so just because it wasn’t for me doesn’t mean it’s not for everyone.
Q: What are you reading now?
A: I’m up to Book #7 in the Wheel of Time buddy read, which is “A Crown of Swords”. It’s fairly well known that the pacing of the Wheel of Time novels slow down in the middle of the series, and that’s certainly true of this book. Still, I’m fully invested in the characters and they’re still interesting to read about, even when they’re not doing a whole lot but traveling and arguing. I’m also currently reading a gothic vampire novel named “Corcitura” by Melika Dannese Lux. Reading it, I’m constantly blown away by Melika’s ability to weave such a complex tale and to even inject so much humor into a horror novel. Melika is one of the few authors whose writing can make you laugh, gasp, and cry all within the same page!
Q: They say to never judge a book by its cover, but just how important is the book cover to you?
A: In all honesty, not very. When I’m in a bookstore, I’m much more interested in the description on the back than the picture on the cover. While a great cover can certainly help catch the eye, there are plenty of books I’ve enjoyed that had lame covers but brilliant plot summaries. “Storm Front” by Jim Butcher and “Mind Games” by Carolyn Crane are two books that immediately come to mind that I was so glad I bought and read even though their covers did nothing for me.
Q: Do you have a blog? Have you ever thought about starting one?
A: I don’t have a blog myself. I would love to start one someday, but much like reading all 700 books on my TBR shelf, this is another thing that there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to be able to do right now.
Q: Have you written anything? If not, have you ever thought about writing your own book?
A: I actually am working on a book right now! I had an idea for a while about an urban fantasy series featuring a group of social workers called “The Good Spirits” who specialize with paranormal beings and help them to thrive in a world where many people fear them. For the last couple of years, things have been so crazy in my personal life, I didn’t have the time or energy to pursue it, but I recently became more determined to get back into my writing. The first book is called “When Only Ghosts Remain” and is about a cult of ruthless monster hunters called “The Night Suns” who are trying to unleash an army of malevolent spirits on the world in order to convince everyone how dangerous these paranormal creatures supposedly are and why their own organization is supposedly necessary. The Good Spirits have to stop the Night Suns’ plot and protect both humanity and the paranormal beings from being harmed by the angry ghosts. I’ll be posting chapters on Wattpad as I complete them.
Q: Which do you enjoy more, e-books or physical books? How about audio books?
A: This is a tough one! I actually resisted e-books for years, but after finally getting a Kindle, I have to admit that e-books are so convenient as far as storage space and being able to highlight certain passages. Still, there’s just something about flipping through the pages of a physical book that E-readers just can’t replace. If I had to pick only one format or the other, I think I would have to go with physical books. I don’t do audio books myself, I’d rather read books in my own voice.
Q: Where do the majority of your books come from? (Library, bookstore)
A: These days, the majority of my books come from Amazon. That ultra convenient “one-click” buying option has cost me hundreds of dollars over the years! I do love browsing through the shelves of a bookstore, but unfortunately there just aren’t as many of them left these days. There used to be a Borders bookstore about 10 minutes away from me which was one of my favorite places to shop, but once Borders closed, the nearest bookstore is a lot further away now. So even most of my physical books come from online stores these days.
You can buy your copy of Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault here on Amazon.
About the Author:
Candace Robinson is just your average hemiplegic migraine sufferer. Her days are spent writing, book reviewing and traveling through books. She live just outside of Houston, Texas, where it feels like the hottest place on Earth with the crazy weather. No, seriously, one day it’s 30 degrees and the next it’s 70 degrees! She resides with her husband and daughter.
Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.
-This week’s Pick-
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I could read this book over and over again. After seeing mixed reviews on it and reading that many people complained about the writing and characters, I bypassed it for awhile, but I had to read it. I’m a long time Anne Rice fan and LOVE vampire stories.
I fell in love with this book from the first chapter…
“In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, a small town named Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains on this inconsequential town more than any other place in the United States of America. It was from this town and its gloomy, omnipresent shade that my mother escaped with me when I was only a few months old. It was in this town that I’d been compelled to spend a month every summer until I was fourteen. That was the year I finally put my foot down; these past three summers, my dad, Charlie, vacationed with me in California for two weeks instead.”
Bella is moving to Forks, Washington, to live with her dad. Forks is a small town and dreary for the most part. Bella doesn’t have a great relationship with her dad as she was raised by her mom, plus she’s the new girl in town and doesn’t know anyone. Bella’s new life is fairly boring until the Cullen family comes into the picture.
“I stared because their faces, so different, so similar, were all devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful. They were faces you never expected to see except perhaps on the airbrushed pages of a fashion magazine. Or painted by an old master as the face of an angel. It was hard to decide who was the most beautiful – maybe the perfect blond girl, or the bronze-haired boy.”
Bella is fascinated by the Cullens and ends up with an assigned seat next to Edward in Biology class. Edward acts strangely…
“I peeked up at him one more time, and regretted it. He was glaring down at me again, his black eyes full of revulsion. As I flinched away from him, shrinking against my chair, the phrase if looks could kill suddenly ran through my mind.”
It’s so mysterious. Why is Edward acting so strangely around her? Bella is fascinated by him and as the story moves forward, there’s no telling the upcoming circumstances Bella will be dealing with.
This may not be the beautiful prose that many people are looking for, but the plot and characters were enough to captivate me. I loved everything about it and flew through it. I couldn’t wait to read the next book.
My rating on this book is 5*****
Blurb:About three things I was absolutely positive.
First, Edward was a vampire.
Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be—that thirsted for my blood.
And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
In the first book of the Twilight Saga, internationally bestselling author Stephenie Meyer introduces Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, a pair of star-crossed lovers whose forbidden relationship ripens against the backdrop of small-town suspicion and a mysterious coven of vampires. This is a love story with bite.
Series: The Twilight Saga, Book 1 (Book 1)
Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 6, 2006)
Happy Wednesday! I have a delicious breakfast recipe for you all today and a few new books to share. I woke up this morning and had a taste for blueberry pancakes!
So the original recipe is titled “Fluffy Pancakes” and it’s from Allrecipes.com. I’m making this recipe exactly how it’s listed below, except I’m tripling the recipe ingredients to cook for the eight people in my house. The original recipe you see below serves four.
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.
I’m using this all natural sausage I picked up from Costco. It’s made by Jones Dairy Farm. We’ve been buying this sausage for years and it’s the only link I like to buy because it’s nitrate and msg free. I’m not big on eating meat, but my family is, and I like to pay attention to the ingredients I’m feeding them as well. The ingredients are pork, water, salt, and spices. There are no antibiotics or hormones and it’s pork raised on a vegetarian diet. This company makes chicken and turkey sausage too, which is equally delicious. You can click the link above to visit their website.
This sausage is brown and serve. I just add it to my preheated cast iron pan.
Cook them on medium heat until they’re browned and cooked through.
For the pancakes…
I like to make my pancake batter right in my Vitamix because there’s less mess, it’s easy to mix, and it’s simple to pour out the batter.
First, I add the milk and vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes to sour up.
After 2 or 3 minutes, it’s ready. I added in the eggs and melted butter.
Turn it on low and start adding all your dry ingredients.
Turn it up to medium or so to get a nice thick batter. You don’t need to mix it much.
Grease and heat your pan over medium heat. Pour the batter evenly, roughly 1/4 cup at a time into the pan. Immediately add the blueberries.
You can even use chocolate chips, nuts, or other fruits.
I read The Bear and the Nightingale earlier this year and fell in love with the story within the first few paragraphs, so when I heard that there were two more books coming out, I watched and waited patiently for the release of the second book. Sure enough, I found The Girl In The Tower on Netgalley and was approved for it. You can see my review of the book below.
The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden
Blurb: The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop. – Goodreads
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (December 5, 2017)
Brave Vasya, older and wild as ever, is faced with a choice to either marry or live in a convent as a nun. Neither choice seems applicable to her and she would rather die riding in the frozen wintry forest than be stuck living a life that doesn’t fit her. She’s been deemed a witch and questions still loom regarding her father’s death. Vasya needs to discover who she is and as she embarks on a journey alone with her horse Solovey against Morozko’s wishes, she takes risks, experiences danger with violent bandits, witnesses burned and destroyed villages, meets the Grand Prince, and even reunites with family. Only time will tell if she’s made the right decisions and the commitment may be more than she can bear.
This second installment has more action and adventure, the addition of new characters, and clues that offer insight to some of the events in the first book. It’s just as enchanting and a little darker than the first. I enjoyed the characters and relationships, especially Vasya’s relationship with Morozko and her horse Solovey. When I first began reading, I felt as though I was right back in the first book again and had to remember a few of the characters. It doesn’t take long to pick up and as Vasya’s traveling begins, there’s no telling what will happen next and the book is far from predictable.
The Girl In The Tower is written in the same enchanting prose as The Bear and the Nightingale and I did enjoy it, but it didn’t captivate me as much as the first. As this book closed with an unexpected ending, I’m even more excited for the third. 4 ****
I’d like to thank Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book to read and review.
I have to apologize for posting so late this morning, but I had my entire post typed up and ready to go, posted it, and there was nothing on the post. I’ve never had that happen before, but let’s try again!
I’m super excited to share a new smoothie recipe and a new book this week! I had a bunch of Japanese sweet potatoes and garnet yams that needed to be used and decided to go with an orange sweet potato smoothie for breakfast. This recipe is great anytime of year, but reminds me of fall which is approaching at an alarming rate. No complaints here!
Why sweet potatoes?
They’re super cheap
High in vitamins A, B6, and C
They contain potassium and magnesium
They boost your immune system
Great for the skin
They taste great!
Here’s what I did below…
1/2 cup almond milk
1 Japanese Sweet Potato (super sweet and white inside!)
2 Garnet Yams
1 banana (optional, but you can barely taste it)
1/4+ tsp of cinnamon
1/4+ tsp of ground ginger
1 TB of Honey or syrup of your choice
1 cup of ice – If you’re using frozen ingredients, omit the ice
Put the sweet potatoes in a pan with some water. The water doesn’t need to cover the potatoes. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes.
When they’re done, take them out and peel them. The peeling comes right off.
I like to cut them up into chunks and cool them. In the winter, I’ll put them in hot. There’s nothing better than a warm smoothie like this in the winter…If you’d like to freeze a bunch of these, just lay them out on a cookie sheet and freeze for about 4-5 hours. Take them out and store them in a freezer bag for later use. This is super convenient!
Prepare your orange – Leave on as much pith as you can as it’s FULL of vitamin C and adds more fiber. This works best with a sharp knife and mine is a tad dull.
After the sweet potatoes have cooled, put everything in the blender in the order listed. It’s important to load it in the order listed by starting with liquid, adding the foods, and then topping off with ice. It makes the blending go very smooth without the use of a tamper stick.
Blend starting on low, and increasing to high. Here’s a video of me making this smoothie this morning. I love my Vitamix because it tears through anything and makes the smoothest smoothies ever.
It’s worth every penny! It’s so easy to stay healthy when you have the right tools…
I’m really late to the party on this one guys! I finally picked this up at Barnes a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to read it. You can see my book review below and also the movie trailer! It’s scheduled for 2018
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Blurb: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
This was my first buddy read with the one and only *Craig* and what a pleasure this was. I’d like to thank Craig for reading this one with me. Craig always makes me smile and this was fun!
I’m not even sure where to start with my review. I was highly anticipating this book for some time after seeing so many 5 star reviews and awesome comments, but the book was just a “like” and I wasn’t overly impressed like I thought I’d be.
The story takes place in 2044 and the world is in a Grimm state. A man by the name of James Halliday has created a virtual video game world known as the OASIS which becomes an escape for people. He’s hidden something in the labyrinth that everybody wants to find, and a teen by the name of Wade wants to be the one to find it first. The person who finds the prize is promised riches and as more people come in to play, it becomes a fight to the end as the gunters hunt for the prize while making their way through game after game.
The story fell a tad short despite some action and fast paced reading. I felt like there was a lot going on, maybe too much detail even, but the best parts in the book that really held my interest were all the ’80s pop culture references. Some of my favorite movies, music, and games from the ’80s were referenced and I found myself looking up old music videos like “The Safety Dance,” a fave. Oh, the memories. ♡
The music references really took me back and as a child of the ’80s I can still remember sitting on my mom’s harvest green carpet in front of the Zenith watching them on MTV, which is nothing like what it used to be. And the games! It took me back to the days of my Atari and my Amiga Commodore: jousting for hours, and Burgertime! There were literally hundreds of references, even old Tv shows, and I almost want to rate it highly for that one reason. Sure, there were interesting parts in the book with Wade’s adventures in the OASIS and with all the competition, I continued to think it might pick up for me, but the book just kept me hanging on until the end with all the nostalgia. I was yearning for a pick me up.
I did think the story was unique and enjoyed the characters. I also thought it was very descriptive and I was extremely pleased with the ending. For me, I simply felt like the story maybe had too much added information which made me a little uncomfortable.
I’m still glad I read it and can’t wait to see the movie because the trailer looks awesome and I ♡ Tye Sheridan! 3.5***
I was nominated by Claire@Brizzlelassbooks.com for this Unique Blogger Award! I was super excited as I haven’t received this award yet. I’d like to thank Claire for nominating me. If you haven’t checked out Claire’s blog yet, please do. She has many book reviews, tours and giveaways to explore. I feel very lucky to have met Claire and we have some things in common which I think is awesome!
Share the link to the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
Answer the questions.
In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.
Ask them three questions.
1. If you could have any animal or mythical creature from a book as a pet what would you pick?
I admire horses so I’m going to go with unicorns. I truly lOVE unicorns and I’ve always been fascinated by them. I loved “Uni” from Dungeons and Dragons and also the movie “Legend” with Tom Cruise which had Unicorns in it. How awesome would that be to have a unicorn?
2. Which is one of your least favourite characters of all time?
Denethor from Lord of the Rings. I didn’t like the way he treated Pippin and I despised him for trying to kill his own son, Faramir. Ugh!
3. Is there a supporting character who you liked far more than the main one?
Many of the characters in LOTR. Mainly Samwise Gamgee. I also loved Boromir, Gandalf, Aragorn, and others.
A little over a week ago, I started reading Above the Flames by Cassandra Fear. I really enjoyed the writing, so after finishing it, I dove right in to It Starts With L which was just released.
Cassandra was willing to share some of her time with me to discuss her books and writing. In addition to the Q&A below, you can read my book reviews for Above the Flames and her new book It Starts with L. Also, don’t forget to enter the giveaway toward the bottom of the page to win eBook copies of both books!
Above The Flames
Blurb: Jasmine’s sixteenth birthday was the worst ever…
All in one day, her dad died, she met a demon, and her mother rejected her existence forever. After all, the demon who killed her dad was there to take her, and all because of her stupid powers—the ability to conjure blue flames.
Two years later, she’s happy. But happy never lasts…
After moving to Idaho to live with her grandparents, Jasmine has a new life. Almost nobody knows about her powers, and she’s just a normal teenager with normal problems. Then comes her eighteenth birthday—and the earthquake that changes her world forever.
An army of demons rise from Hell. And Jasmine is right in the middle of the battle…
When demons claw their way to Earth, Jasmine is surrounded by hundreds of fire-eyed beasts. Worse, she is captured by a big-shot demon named Bael. He’s a tricky foe with a chip on his shoulder—and the desire to make Jasmine use her powers for evil.
Amon is a fallen angel with an attitude—and everything to lose.
Successfully escaping the underworld undetected, Amon is on a quest to regain God’s grace when he rescues Jasmine from the clutches of a particularly nasty demon he knows all too well. The attraction between him and the not-entirely-human captive is instantaneous. Heavenly sparks fly, but ideas of romance will have to wait. First they have to stop the demon race from wiping out the mortal realm. Humanity’s fate rests in their hands.
Can two troubled angels rise above the flames to ensure a future for mankind? Or will Jasmine and Amon’s souls be bound together—in hell?
I wasn’t sure what to expect because I haven’t read many paranormal books and certainly haven’t read a story including angels and demons with this plot, so it was a fun read and different from what I’m used to.
I was pulled into the story right away. Jasmine is a 16-year-old teenager dealing with a mother who simply doesn’t care about her. An unforeseen wicked event causes an accident with her father and because her mother doesn’t want her, she’s relocated with her grandparents. Ma and Pa love her so much and all seems to be going well with Jasmine as she lives a fairly normal life with her boyfriend Beau, until demons appear and hunt her down. They’ve been released and plan to take over all mankind. Jasmine doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to have to figure out how to control her powers while she trains to defend against the evil demons.
I really liked the characters in the book. Jasmine, Beau, and Amon were my favorites. Jasmine is very strong and confident and the majority if the time she wasn’t afraid despite all the evil events unfolding around her. At times I didn’t like the way Jasmine treated Beau as their relationship started to change due to Amon’s introduction, but everything came together eventually. It wasn’t a predictable read! It was difficult to tell what decisions the characters would make and there were times I couldn’t differentiate between friends and foes as more characters are introduced. I don’t want to include a bunch of spoilers, so for the most part, I enjoyed the book. I felt like there were some slow parts with mainly the beginning and the ending remaining my favorites. The ending was a complete total shocker.
I love the way Cassandra Fear Writes. I found it very easy to read from cover to cover. I would’ve liked a tad more romance and maybe faster pacing, but understand this is YA. I’m looking forward to the next book!
It Starts With L
Blurb: High school is tough, and Arielle knows this all too well.
She’s slightly chubbier than most of the other girls and gets reminded of this every day. And the fact that she’s never had a boyfriend makes her prime meat for the bullying crowd.
But then in walks Blake, the cute new boy who sweeps her off her feet and stands up to her bullies. Instant swoon.
Now with a guy at her side, and the promise of a blooming love, Arielle realizes it’s easy to lose sight of what is important. Her best friend, Jess, is on a downward spiral toward disaster, and Arielle needs to find a way to help her.
Unfortunately, Arielle discovers not everything in life is simple. Sometimes things happen, tragedy strikes, and it leaves you with wounds that might never heal.
Arielle is a teenager dealing with typical high school drama and bullying, but won’t let it change her. She’s a simple girl from a good family, but deals with a few insecurities about her weight and appearance, until she meets Blake.
Blake stands up for her and makes her feel more confident. As their relationship blooms, everything seems to be perfect, until Blake starts thinking about the future and becomes unsure of their relationship. She’s not prepared to deal with the uncertainty, but doesn’t want to give up. On top of all her relationship problems, her best friend is making poor decisions and her home life takes a turn for the worse. Arielle is on a slippery slope, but will she be able to regain happiness again?
*Mild Spoilers* I liked all of the main characters in the book, but I wasn’t pleased with Blake. He’s one of those characters that at times you sort of “grrr” over, but you still admire him at the same time. Arielle was confident enough to stay true to herself and I loved that. I didn’t feel like the story was too predictable and really looked forward to finding out how these characters would end up. It was a pleasant surprise and not like the one I expected.*
I’m giving this book 5 stars because I was never bored and I really enjoy this author’s writing as it’s smooth and easy to read. This book reminds me of something I would’ve enjoyed reading in high school and I think this is a perfect book for teens. There really isn’t anything inappropriate and overall it’s a great YA book. I can’t wait to read the next one!
Last week while on Goodreads I happened to see a blog post by Nicholas Kotar regarding his new book release The Song of the Sirin. I read the blurb and decided to dive right in. After reading I was able to ask Nicholas Kotar some questions about his new book, being an author, and what he’s doing now. You can see my book review for The Song of the Sirin, and the Q&A with Nicholas Kotar below.
You can enter the giveaway for a free SIGNED copy of The Song of the Sirin at the bottom of the page.
Blurb: An evil omen clouds the sky. A song of lore returns. Can one man’s quest save the world?
Voran can’t help but believe the rumors. As blight ravages the countryside and darkness covers the sun, the young warrior of Vasyllia hears of an ancient spirit that devours souls. He feels powerless to fight the oncoming devastation until a mythical creature entrusts him with a long-forgotten song. Legend has it that such a song can heal the masses, overthrow kingdoms, and raise humans to divine beings…
Armed with the memory of the song, Voran must hunt down a dark spirit before it achieves its goal of immortality. His quest takes him through doorways to other worlds and puts him on a collision course with seductive nymphs and riddling giants. With each step of the journey, the strength of the villainous spirit grows, as does Voran’s fear that the only way to save his world… is to let it be destroyed.
The Song of the Sirin is an epic fantasy retelling of the Russian fairy tale Prince Ivan and the Grey Wolf.
Series: Raven Son (Book 1)
Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: Waystone Press (June 26, 2017)
*This review may contain a few very mild spoilers*
Fantasy isn’t one of my favorite genres and when it comes to epic fantasy’s like The Song of the Sirin, it takes me extra time to read it along with some concentration. After reading the blurb for this one and finding out that it was inspired by a Russian fairy tale, I couldn’t resist. I rushed to Amazon and picked it up at sale price. I believe it was an exceptional reading choice for me.
The story begins with Voran and Lebía, a brother and sister living in Vasyllia. Their father Otchigen and mother Aglaia have vanished and no one knows where they are. Some say Otchigen vanished after killing many people and stories abound claim him to have beaten his wife Aglaia. Voran doesn’t know what to believe, but he trusts in his heart that his father didn’t commit these crimes. He meets a pilgrim in the wilderness and discovers that everything may not be how it seems.
“You surprise me, young Voran,” said the Pilgrim. “How quickly you pierce to the heart of things. Whatever happens, my falcon, do not forget this. Vasyllia is everything. You must never let Vasyllia fall. She is everything.”
Voran begins to realize that Vasyllia is on the brink of destruction and he’s told that he must locate Living Water to save Vasyllia. At this point, everyone in Vasyllia and the outer lands is in danger. The Covenant Tree is fading, the Sirin sings for Voran, and the adventure unfolds…
There’s so much going on in the story and I was thoroughly surprised throughout the entire book. Even with each chapter having an excerpt from other tales, there was no way I could predict what was ahead. Every chapter had something new happening with separate plots taking place. New characters and events come into the story and they literally leave you aghast. The plot and the characters were so complex with a few of my favorites being Voran, Tarin, and Leshaya. Nicholas Kotar writes beautifully and his writing is very detailed and descriptive. With that said, I have to admit that there were times when I found the reading to be a tad difficult. I ended up with 235 notes and highlights by the time I was done. This may not be a book that you sail through quickly, but it’s very enjoyable to take the time and relish in the beautiful prose.
Overall, I enjoyed the book very much. This epic fantasy has a lot of what fantasy readers expect including shapeshifters, giants, wolf-like monsters, weird creatures, good and evil, magic, and mystery. The ending was heartwarming for me which was not expected with the events that were taking place throughout the book. I’m definitely going to recommend this one and I’m looking forward the other installments.
Anyone who enjoys fantasy will love this book. 4.5*****
This week I have a simple smoothie recipe along with some exceptional books to share!
With yesterday being July 4th, I wound up eating a few uncured hot dogs, and while they may be a little healthier than standard processed hot dogs, I always feel like I need to cleanse myself the day after like I’m suffering from some sort of hangover. So, this morning I’m having a smoothie and I’ll have raw food and juices the rest of the day.
I was able to find a few beautiful pineapples over the weekend and they’re ready to cut, so I decided on a Piña Colada smoothie! The only issue is that I don’t have any coconut milk on hand. My problem with canned coconut milk is that the majority of brands you find on the market have sulphites and I have a serious allergy to them. You will find sulphites in many foods including frozen foods, dried fruits, dried coconut, bottled lemon juice, grape juices, and pickled foods. They occur naturally in wines and some other fermented foods as well. You can find organic coconut milk that doesn’t have sulphites, but I make it easy. I buy shredded coconut that doesn’t contain sulphites and use that to make the milk. I’ll show you how to do this first in case you’re in the same situation as me.
For homemade coconut milk you will need:
Yes! I’m dead serious. You don’t need anything else. Here’s the kind I use.
Bob’s Red Mill makes a shredded coconut that doesn’t contain any sulphites. It’s not organic. Here’s the one I get on Amazon. It comes in a pack of 4 for under $12.
Measure out a cup of coconut and add it to 1 cup water in the Vitamix.
Blend it until smooth. Add in another 2-3 cups of water and reblend.
There’s your coconut milk!
If you want to drink the milk alone, I’d add in a little honey. Also, put it through a nut milk bag to strain it. You can see how to use the nut milk bag on my previous post HERE.
The Enchanted World Series by the Editors of Time-Life books is a book set of 21 volumes and I’ve been working to complete my set by purchasing a volume here and there. The volumes have the year of 1985 and you can see the original commercial for the books with Vincent Price below.
Some of of the volumes are more expensive than others. I recently read Wizards and Witches by Brendan Lehane and you can see that review HERE.
Magical Beasts by Tristram Potter Coffin is the second book in the Enchanted World Series that I’ve read recently. The book is split into three sections/chapters and covers many different beasts and myths from long ago.
As you can see above, this volume has some serious cover wear. It has a very vintage smell to it as well. All the volumes have fabric covers.
This magical and mysterious volume contains stories about beasts including the Minotaur, Satyrs, Centaurs, Fomorians, dog-men, flying beasts, and unicorns. The first section covers “Vestiges of the Elder Days” and readers learn about some Greek Mythology here.
I found the second section titled “Riders of the Wind” more interesting which highlights flying creatures like the Firebird of Russia and other strange creatures that scholars learned about after their travels. It’s interesting how some of these false tales formed. This section covers the manticore, the basilisk, and the peryton to name a few.
The Summoned Kingby Dave Neuendorf is a fantasy story about a 17 year old student named James, mostly referred to as Jim, who falls asleep in a library and wakes up in another world. He’s been chosen by Maynard the Wizard and is expected to be the new king of Kalymbria.
I truthfully enjoyed Jim’s character. What’s not to like about him? He’s smart, confident, considerate, and seems to be completely comfortable even though he’s been transplanted into another world, Kalymbria. Much of the story centers around James settling in as king, getting to know Julia-his soon to be wife, and devising a plan to fix Kalymbria. I enjoyed the interaction between James and Julia and found it interesting the way they expeditiously clicked. The book contains a little bit of everything including science and Christianity, although not too much for those not interested in those elements.
This is a very smooth and simple read that’s perfect for young adults. Even without an abundance of action, I thought it was wonderful and I actually admired that there wasn’t any explicit content which makes it perfect for younger readers. I believe the second book will have much more action especially with the conclusion of The Summoned King. I’ve heard that the second book is releasing soon and I’m looking forward to reading it.
I’d like to thank the author for granting me a complimentary copy of this book.
I grabbed a copy of The Star Thief from Netgalley earlier this year after reading the blurb. I’m always looking for interesting reads for my middle grade readers. This one is quite long- a little more than 400 pages or so, but very adventurous and never boring. You can see my review below.
The Star Thief by Lindsey Becker is a fantasy chapter book for middle grade ages but can be read by anyone who enjoys a good fantasy, including adults.
We loved all the characters, especially Honorine. The story moves fast and becomes an exciting adventure. The author is so imaginative to have created this story and the way she incorporated living constellations along with the detailed steamship makes it so fantastic and magical. This is a book I would’ve loved reading when I was in grade school.
We loved the few illustrations that were included, but wanted more.
Looking forward to more from this author.
Thank you Netgalley for sharing a copy of The Star Thief with me.
Honorine’s life as as maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia’s study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night….
Suddenly, Honorine is whisked into the middle of a battle between the crew of a spectacular steamship and a band of mythical constellations. The stars in the sky have come to life to defend themselves against those who want to harness their powers. Much to her surprise, Honorine is the crux of it all, the center of an epic clash between magic and science, the old ways and the new. But can this spirited young girl bring both sides of a larger-than-life fight together before they unleash an evil power even older than the stars?
The book retells the movie in a simple summary that even children can understand. It’s loaded with beautiful full page photographs and smaller ones in between. A few of the photographs look like paintings which offers a nice feel.
I haven’t read the original Hobbit story yet, but plan to this year. I personally loved The Hobbit movies which are continuously playing in our house. This book is certainly one to keep around. One of my favorite characters in The Hobbit movies is “Kili” played by Aiden Turner.
I was really surprised that I’d never even seen this series when I was younger, but once I started reading a few of them I quickly realized that there’s no way these books would’ve ever been allowed into my house growing up. It’s a set of 21 volumes and I’ve been working to complete my set by purchasing a volume here and there. Some of of the volumes are more expensive than others. They don’t seem to be numbered in any way. I decided to start with Wizards and Witchesby Brendan Lehane and so I’m titling this volume #1.
The Wizard and Witches volume is split into 3 sections – Singers at the World’s Dawn, Masters of Forbidden Arts and The Shadowy Sisterhood. It begins with Finnish Folklore about Väinämöinen and discusses other wizards including the Wizard of Kiev, Merlin, Math and Gwydion to name a few. The Forbidden Arts discusses satanic servants, tarot cards, goblins and more. The book ends discussing white and black witchcraft.
I really wasn’t pleased with the book, however, I did enjoy some of the artwork. It seems to be written well and the pictures contain captions and quotes.
I was SUPER excited today when my inbox had a message from S.Jae-Jones stating that the new Wintersong #2 book was titled with a release date! I wanted to re-post this for all those who haven’t subscribed yet. Her website is (http://sjaejones.com/).
I finally got a chance to read one of Michael J. Sullivan’s books! When Age of Myth came out I read that it was a new series and not attached to any previous works and so I decided to start here. Here’s my review below:
Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan is the first book in the Legends of the First Empire series. I’ve been wanting to read Michael Sullivan’s books for some time and decided I’d start with Age of Myth after learning that it was the first book in a new series and in the Riyria world 3,000 years prior. I went into the book completely blind, not having a clue what to expect.
I’ll start by saying I enjoyed this fantasy world. I loved all the characters including Raithe (God Killer), Malcolm, Suri & Minna, and Persephone. I knew in the first part of the book that Raithe would be a favorite. There’s something great about an author that can make me feel connected to characters and that’s exactly how I felt when reading this book. I loved how the three main characters and plots come together, the interaction, development and twists -all of it. I felt like I had a good visual of the characters in my mind as well. I was pleased with every part of the book and happy with the ending too. It was an easy and surprisingly fast read. The glossary of terms and names in the back were helpful.
I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen in the next book and I’m astonished that the author has already written all of the other five books for this series. Getting a sneak peak into Age of Swords was unexpected. How awesome is that!
I was truly psyched to win a giveaway on Goodreads a little over a month ago, and this was one of them! You can see my review below along with some author information.
The Farthest Cityby Daniel P. Swenson is a sci-fi story that takes place in the far future of Earth. There’s a battle forming for Earth between humans and aliens, but the humans need to find the machines (chines) that have since disappeared in order to save themselves from the aliens (Hexi).
I haven’t read much Sci-fi and this isn’t my kind of story, but I was fairly pleased with it. I liked that there were two different plots going on with different characters throughout the book. The characters were very well developed and I was pleased with the story’s end. The author writes well and is very creative to have come up with this unique story.
I did find my mind wondering a few times as the story had a few dull moments. It felt as though there were some pieces missing from the story as some things were not explained. Being that I don’t read much sci-fi, it’s possible that this is a normal aspect I’m just not used to, maybe? I believe true sci-fi fans will really like this book.
I am interested in reading more from this author and wonder if there will be another book after this! I would definitely like to read more about Kellen, Sheemi, Abby and the other characters.
I won this in a giveaway here on Goodreads. I’d like to thank Goodreads and the author.
I recently came across a short story titled Bolded Hearts on Goodreads by author Jane Jago. After seeing a few reviews and instantly falling in love with the cover, I had to try it. It turned out to be a really short fantasy read about two main characters named Amal and Chin-Cha.
Amal is a healer and has been labeled a witch because of it. Chin-Cha is her once human protector. Follow along in the story to discover their future.
Nice short fantasy read
Bolded Hearts by Jane Jago is a short, well written fantasy story about two main characters, Amal and Chin-Cha.
I was a tad confused when I first started reading, but as the story goes on, the characters become better understood. It essentially feels like folklore. The story and characters are genuinely magical and I loved the ending.
Here are a few of my favorite Q&A’s with Jane Jago on Goodreads:
Q: You have a human turned wolf in Bolded Hearts. Was it fun writing a character like that? What kind of changes in your own thinking did you have to make?
Jane JagoChin-Cha was a challenge to write, in that I wanted to give him depth as well as difference. I had to make quite a few adjustments.
First, there’s always the thing of a woman writing a man. Then there was the need to make him both human and canine at the same time, and all within the word constraint of a short story.
But I liked him so much that it was pleasure as much as work.
Q: Which do you have more fun writing – Fantasy or twisted thrillers?
Jane JagoFantasy is more fun to write, but the twisted thrillers are more of a compulsion.
I came across The Black Witch on Netgalley and thought after reading the blurb and loving the cover, I’d try it. Please read below for my review of the book along with some author info.
Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.
When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.
As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.
At the beginning of this year I came across some reviews for A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Once I saw the cover and read the blurb, I had to read it. My first rating was 4 stars because there was something I didn’t love about it. I picked up the book again and re-read it this past weekend. And so the story begins…
Blurb: An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous.
It wants the truth.
From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.
The moment I saw Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones I had to buy it. The cover, the title, the blurb-pretty much everything about the book baited me. First, I must say that I’m a Labyrinth freak and I’ve been highly anticipating reading this. I was under the impression that this was a true Labyrinth retelling, but there’s more going on here.
I was so taken-back in just the first 70 pages of the book. The authors writing style is so appealing. It’s exquisite, dark, and romantic. There were also music elements consistent throughout the entire story which I loved. I truly savored this book and the writing is what I appreciated the most.
“Those icy eyes glittered, and I was afraid. I trembled, but not with cold. I ached, but not with pain. My feet began to move of their own accord, and I followed the Goblin King out of the light and into the darkness.”
I absolutely loved the way the author added a few poems by Christina Rossetti.
A linnet in a gilded cage, – A linnet on a bough, – In frosty winter one might doubt Which bird is luckier now. But let the trees burst out in leaf, And nests be on the bough, Which linnet is the luckier bird, Oh who could doubt it now?Continue reading “Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones”→
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
The Wizard of Nod is the second installment of a larger tale of The Bloodline Chronicles. Once again Jake and Stephen find themselves back in prison when they are tasked with recovering the Staff of Moses. Time is running out for the Shaddai and their last hope is to recover the staff before the evil Grigori find it. As Jake and Stephen try to stay one step ahead of Sam Jericho and his task force they must fight the Wizards minions and make it across the country and back before the evil Wizard kills the only man who knows the secrets of the staff’s powers. The battle for the twelve enchanted instruments continues and Mordred, the Wizard of Nod has located the Sword of Kings also known as Excalibur. In their journey from San Francisco to Washington DC and back, Stephen and the beautiful Sherri Burke find love does not wait for ideal timing. Evil is on the rise and Jake’s faith will be tested like never before as he learns his teenaged daughter Abigail has joined their quest.Continue reading “The Wizard of Nod by Anthony Jones”→
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