A Month of Favorites: Introduction

Throughout December, Estella’s Revenge, Girlxoxo, and Traveling with T will be sharing their fave bookish (and sometimes not-so-bookish) experiences from the year and they’ve invited their readers to join in on the fun! The schedule and details are posted at Estella’s Revenge.
Today is all about introducing myself and my reading this year:
  • Favorite genre: Fantasy
  • Favorite author this year: That’s difficult to decide.  It’s a tie between the authors of two very different Fantasy books – Phil Gomm, author of Chimera Books 1 – 3, and Charlie N. Holmberg, author of The Paper Magician.
  • Formats this year: Physical – 37 (65%), eReader – 19 (33.3%), audiobooks – 1 (1.7%) I’m not a big fan of audio books, but I’m trying to get used to them for when I’m doing something (other than driving) that doesn’t allow for holding a book/eReader.
  • When I read: Mostly at night after I’m done with whatever homework I have and after the boyfriend has gone to bed.  However, I read whenever I get the chance.
  • Genre I read the most from this year: Fantasy
  • Total number of books read: 57 so far, which is 7 above this year’s goal.
  • A clue about my favorite book this year (try to guess): It’s a recent addition to my all time favorite books (which isn’t in any particular order), since it was published just a few months ago.

Will you be joining in on this Month of Favorites?  Even if you’re not able to participate, what are your answers to any of the above?  Leave a comment 🙂

Ivanhoe Read-Along: Week 1 Recap


Today ends the first week of the Ivanhoe read-along.  It’s also the last day to sign up!  If you’d like to participate, create a blog post, and then sign up through the linky below before 11:55pm, or comment with your Tweet or Facebook post.  We’ve read chapters 1 – 7, but if you’re a little behind, that’s OK!  I’ll mark any spoilers so you can come back after you’re caught up.  Below is the chapter break down:

  • Mon. 24th Nov. – Sun. 30th Nov.: Chapters 1 – 7
  • Mon. 1st Dec. – Sun. 7th Dec.: Chapters 8 – 16
  • Mon. 8th Dec. – Sun. 14th Dec.: Chapters 17 – 25
  • Mon. 15th Dec. – Sun. 21st Dec.: Chapters 26 – 31
  • Mon. 22nd Dec. – Sun. 28th Dec.: Chapters 32 – 38
  • Mon. 29th Dec. – Sun. 4th Jan.: Chapters 39 – 44

Ivanhoe was the final novel of five that Sir Walter Scott wrote in the space of two and a half years!  Can you imagine writing FIVE novels in that short amount of time?!  Ivanhoe is also the 10th “Waverley” novel, but it’s unlike any of the others in that it’s set in England instead of Scotland, and takes its origins from other books instead of living experience.  Even though the book is not considered to be one of Scott’s best by critics, it is his most popular one.  In fact, it was so popular that Thackeray wrote what amounts to fanfic, a “sequel” titled Rebecca and Rowena.

Even though it might seem like seven chapters is a lot to read in one week, the chapters are fairly short and Ivanhoe is just a bit longer than the average novel.  The first seven chapters barely scratch the surface of the story, but they introduce quite a few characters as well as the setting.  We find ourselves in an England populated by Anglo-Saxons who have been conquered by the Normans.  King Richard’s whereabouts are unknown, and Prince John, his younger brother, is running the show while he’s away.

[SPOILERS]  The story begins with Norman knights and prelates seeking the hospitality of Cedric. They are guided there by a palmer, who recently returned from the Holy Land. Also seeking refuge is Isaac, a Jew.  Following the night’s meal, the palmer overhears Brian de Bois-Guilbert issue an order to his Saracen soldiers to follow Isaac after he leaves Rotherwood, capture him, and take him to a noble’s castle.  The palmer warns Issac and helps him escape. The swineherd, Gurth, refuses to open the gates until the palmer whispers something in his ear.  Gurth suddenly turns helpful, and allows them to leave Rotherwood.  Isaac offers to repay his debt to the palmer by offering armor and a horse to participate in the tournament at Ashby-de-la-Zouch. He makes the offer after discovering that the palmer is really a knight.  The palmer is surprised but accepts the offer.   [SPOILERS]

So far, I’m enjoying the story, as well as the character descriptions.  This is a more difficult read, since the writing often contains words that had very different meanings during Scott’s time.  Also, it’s very easy to get confused if you’re not paying attention.  I’ve been doing some Googling to refresh my memory on the time period and the historical events that are mentioned.  All of this amounts to Ivanhoe being exactly what I needed to end my reading slump.  I wanted to continue reading past this week’s chapters, but I stopped myself so that I wouldn’t accidentally include anything in this week’s post that shouldn’t be discussed until next week.

How are you enjoying the book so far?  What are your thoughts on the story, characters, setting, etc?  Please mark any spoilers.

Tuesday’s Tunes and Things #2

Since it’s Book Week Scotland, and I’m hosting a read-along for Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, I decided to dedicate this month’s playlist to Scotland.  Below is a link to my Spotify playlist, “Outlander”, named for the book and TV show.  I have a significantly longer version on my MP3 player that I listen to whenever I’m reading one of the “Outlander” books, or anything set in Scotland.

Outlander Playlist

 This month’s links are a bit all over the place.  There’s something interesting for everyone who loves books:

What I’m Reading Monday #13

Currently Reading: Cold Hillside by Nancy Baker, a review book, Villette by Charlotte Brontë, what I’m reading for The Classics Club, The Hobbit and Philosophy, what I’m reading for fun, and, starting today, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, for the read-along.

Cold  Villette1.52.qxd

Hobbit Philosophy   Ivanhoe

Finished: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, which I reviewed on Friday, and Scrapplings by Amelia Smith, which I’ll be reviewing at the end of the month.

Paper   Scrapplings

Total pages read for the week: 615

Total number of books for the year: 57.  I’ve hit a weird reading slump.  It’s weird because it’s not the kind of reading slump in which I’m not reading, but one in which I don’t want to read.  I’m not sure why.   It might be because I feel like I’m either coming down with a cold or my allergies are getting worse.  However, it might be because Scrapplings was such a disappointment, Cold Hillside, while really good, has a slower pace, Villette is still a struggle to make any progress with, and I miss the fast pace of The Paper Magician.  Actually, I miss everything about The Paper Magician.

What are you reading this week?  Have you ever had the kind of reading slump I’m talking about?  If so, what did you do, or what book brought you out of it?

Ivanhoe Read-Along: It Begins!


For the Classics Club Spin #8, I’m reading Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, and I’d like you to read-along with me.  Today is the first day, and it also happens to be the first day of Book Week Scotland.  Sir Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh on Aug. 15th, 1771, and died in Abbotsford on Sep. 21st, 1832.  He wrote during the Romantic era, which was my favorite time period while I was in high school. Between the years 1814 and 1832, he wrote 30 novels, several long poems, and many other books, including a nine-volume Life of Napoleon.  He has been called a combination of Shakespeare and Samuel Johnson, and he was greatly admired by Honoré de Balzac and Alexandre Dumas.

We’ll finish on the 4th of Jan, 2015.  I’ll do a progress/discussion post every Sunday, which will include trivia about the book and Sir Walter Scott, and a review post on Jan. 5th.  Don’t worry if you get a little behind at any point during the read-along.  The discussion posts will most likely include spoilers, but I will mark them as such so you can skip over them until you get caught up.  Below is the chapter break down:

  • Mon. 24th Nov. – Sun. 30th Nov.: Chapters 1 – 7
  • Mon. 1st Dec. – Sun. 7th Dec.: Chapters 8 – 16
  • Mon. 8th Dec. – Sun. 14th Dec.: Chapters 17 – 25
  • Mon. 15th Dec. – Sun. 21st Dec.: Chapters 26 – 31
  • Mon. 22nd Dec. – Sun. 28th Dec.: Chapters 32 – 38
  • Mon. 29th Dec. – Sun. 4th Jan.: Chapters 39 – 44

If you’d like to participate, create a blog post, and then sign up through the linky below before the 30th, or comment with your Tweet or Facebook post.  You don’t have to be a member of the Classics Club to participate, but if you are, leave a comment with a link to your Classics Club list.  Happy reading!

The 2014 Book Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide*

Image: Stephanie Kilgast
Image: Stephanie Kilgast

*Otherwise known as my Christmas Wish List

I am not in any way affiliated with any of the companies linked to or mentioned in this post, and I’m not receiving any form of compensation for clicks, sales of these products, or this post.

The Holiday’s are rapidly approaching, and most people have at least one person they want to get a gift for, even if it’s themselves.  I usually make my gift purchases online and well in advance, but I know a lot of people don’t, or they’re not sure what to get.  Here’s a list of unique items for the avid reader in your life because getting him or her another book store gift card says “I waited until the last minute” or “I didn’t care enough to put any thought into it.”  Either of which is BAD BAD BAD and should earn you a stocking full of coal in return.

Review: The Paper Magician


  • Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
  • Publisher: 47 North
  • ISBN: 9781477823835
  • Genre: Fantasy

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ceony Twill wanted to be a Smelter, but she’s placed in a Paper apprenticeship with Magician Emery Thane instead.  Emery’s past comes back to literally rip his heart out, and it’s up to Ceony to save him.  Along the way she discovers more about Emery than anyone else knows, and that sometimes Paper is the strongest of the material magics.

I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but it grabbed me and didn’t let go.  The writing, pace, plot, and characters were perfect.  I don’t have a single negative thing to say about this book.  I had a difficult time putting it down to go to bed, and if it weren’t for the fact that I had an exam first thing in the morning, I would have finished it in one night instead of two. The book’s version of early 1900’s England comes alive, and I wanted to be there and become a paper magician.  This isn’t Harry Potter though, not even close.  In fact, it didn’t remind me of any other Fantasy story I’ve read.  On top of that, there are two events that occur towards the climax that made me gasp and cover my mouth in shock as well as cry.

Adding all of that up equals to The Paper Magician being one of the best Fantasy stories I’ve read this year, and quite possibly in my life.  I’m adding it to my “Through the Magic Door” list of all-time faves, and I recommend it for anyone who loves Fantasy in general, and especially for those who love Urban Fantasy.  I’m giving it all the stars!

Thursday’s Quotables #8: Stephen King

Stephen King
Image: Stephanie Lawton

I started reading Stephen King when I was 12.  I think my parents thought that books of any kind were OK for me, no matter what the content.  Despite being introduced to highly adult themes in a horror setting at a very young age, I turned out OK.  Sometimes I think that’s because all my reading gave me an education that taught me to think for myself, and clowns are scary.  Sometimes I think I was like the majority of kids and understood that what is in books and on TV isn’t necessarily real life and therefore “don’t try this at home”.  Oh, and clowns are scary.

Some of today’s quotes are from King’s books I read when I was much younger, and some are from his books that I’ve read as an adult.  None of them are from IT because, in case you didn’t already know, clowns are scary.

“The mild, spicy smell of old books hit him, and the smell was somehow like coming home.”The Wastelands

“In this world Dr. Seuss was king, Judy Blume was queen, and all the princes and princesses attended Sweet Valley High.” – “The Library Policeman” in Four Past Midnight

I spent a lot of time in libraries or in my bedroom reading the books I checked out.  I learned to read from Dr. Seuss books, there was a copy of Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret in my Catholic school’s library, and I even read a couple “Sweet Valley High” books before moving on to more interesting reads.  The smell of books is truly like coming home for me.  I’ve moved from place to place so many times throughout my life that the only constant no matter where I’ve been has been books.

“Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast.”The Stand

A close second to books is music.  I’ve been places where I had no music.  Fortunately, my stay in those places was short, and I still had at least one book.  I use music for just about everything.  Music helps me wake up, get out the door on time and through my commute without road raging.  It helps me focus and makes work/chores more enjoyable.  It supplements whatever I’m reading, and most importantly, it’s a mood corrector.  I would love to be able to drop everything and hide away with a book any time I’m in a bad mood, but when I can’t do that, I turn up the tunes and scream-sing myself into happiness.  This usually occurs in my car or when I’m by myself at home.  I don’t believe in torturing others to make myself feel better.

I’m ending today’s Quotables with a humorous toast.  I won’t be posting anything next Thursday, since it will be Thanksgiving.  So, this quote is for all of you:

“To us, Stu.  May we have happy days, satisfied minds, and little or no low back pain.”The Shining

Clowns are scary.

Review: The Historian


I found The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova at a used book sale.  One of the many student organizations on campus was raising money.  Usually all the books have already been picked over by the organization members (I don’t blame them.  I’d do it too!), but I guess no one thought this one was interesting because I got it for $2.  Not only did it end up being one of my new favorite vampire stories, but it’s a hardcover in near perfect condition with it’s original dust jacket.

My copy has 642 pages, and I savored every last one of them.  The story is told from the perspective of the narrator’s father, Paul, after she finds an old book in his library.  He explains how he received the book and the events that occurred involving the book, his adviser, Professor Rossi, and the narrator’s mother, Helen.  Several other characters come into play along the way, and one of the things I love about this book is that there isn’t a single unnecessary person, event, or detail.  The story requires all 642 pages.

Another major part of what makes this book so good is the setting descriptions.  I always felt like I was wherever the characters were, even though I haven’t been to the majority of the countries they travel through.  Also, this book might be the perfect one to read around this time of year because of the wonderful mouth watering food descriptions.  If you’re already planning on eating a lot of food over the holidays, you might as well save yourself a few calories later by reading the book now, because it will make you feel ravenously hungry.  It was a mistake for me to read it at night before I went to bed.  The following quote was a prediction, and should have been my warning:

“My stomach ached with pleasure and my father said ruefully that he’d have to diet again when we returned to our ordinary lives.”

For a vampire story, it’s very light on vampires.  There’s only one who occasionally shows up throughout most of the story, until the last 100 pages or so.  It’s definitely not a Horror book, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Gothic literature or a good Mystery/Thriller, even if you’re not a fan of vampires. I definitely recommend it to those who loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Also, this website has pictures of many of the places throughout the book, in order by chapter, in case you’d like to supplement your armchair travels.

What I’m Reading Monday #12

Currently Reading:  The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, a review book, Villette by Charlotte Brontë, which I’m reading for The Classics Club,  and The Hobbit and Philosophy, what I’m reading for fun.

Paper Villette1.52.qxd Hobbit Philosophy

Finished: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which I’ll be reviewing sometime this week, and Ennara and the Fallen Druid by Angela Myron, which I reviewed yesterday.

Historian Ennara

Total pages read for the week: 513

Total number of books for the year: 55.  I’m still struggling to finish Villette.  My review books for this month are much more interesting, and November is already half-way over.  Besides The Paper Magician, I’ve got 2 more to finish, and I don’t want to push their reviews back, especially since I decided to participate in The Classics Club Spin #8 by hosting a read-along.

What are you reading this week?