Saturday, January 5, 2019

December Monthly Recap




Books Read



Comeback Girl (Parts 1-6) – 4-5/5

These books are part of a daily serial, where each part consists of one month and each chapter is a day in that month. The first part started off a little slow, but starting with part two I was hooked. This was a clever mystery involving a writer, and I honestly didn't see the bad guy coming, so props to Stephanie Bond for the twist. These are pretty short and you can honestly finish one part in one sitting, which honestly makes you feel a little productive when you get through six parts in a few days.


Ready to Fumble – 5/5

I really loved this mystery. The story was great, the characters were interesting, and I couldn't put it down. This book was the first full length novel in a long time that I've been able to read in a single day. I love it when a novel is able to pull me in and keep me guessing.


Movies Watched


Ralph Breaks the Internet

This was a cute movie. I don't think its quite on the same level as the first movie, but it was still enjoyable to watch. I especially loved the parts with the Disney Princesses, and it was fun trying to find all of the different website references when Ralph and Vanellope first enter the Internet.


Book of the Month


So after some debate, I've decided to take a couple of months off from doing a book of the month (really just January and February), so the next Book of the Month post will take place in March. I'll still be reading and giving my thoughts in my monthly recap posts.


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Book of the Month: The Christmas Candle




Imagine a Victorian England village in the Cotswolds where very little out of the ordinary ever happens... except at Christmas time.

This year, Edward Haddington, a lowly candle maker, is visited by a mysterious angel. That angel silently imparts a precious gift—a gift that’s bungled and subsequently lost. The candle maker and his wife, Bea, struggle to find the gift.

And when they do, they have to make a difficult choice. Who among their community is most in need of a Christmas miracle?

My Rating: ****


This was a nice, short, Christmas read. Actually, it was a lot shorter than I originally thought it would be, because it turned out that a good chunk of the book contained excerpts from other books. The length isn't really a negative, as a short story can be really great, but it does make it slightly harder for me to review. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so this is probably going to be short as well.

The Haddingtons are a family of candle makers with a very special tradition. Every twenty-five years, an angel will impart a gift on one of the Christmas candles, and the family will give it to someone in their community. Whoever receives this candle will light it and pray, and they will receive a Christmas miracle. Edward and Bea believe this will be the last year of the Christmas candle, and with everyone in their community in need of a miracle, choosing someone is difficult. And when an incident occurs with the candle, well things aren't exactly going as planned.

The story primarily revolves around Edward and Bea, with a little bit of focus on the community's new minister who doesn't believe in the Christmas candle miracle. There are also a few segments with a woman and her baby who making a journey on their own. In the end, everything comes together and we have a happy Christmas tale.

If I were to have any complaints, it would be that I would have liked a few more details with some of the other people in the community. I just feel like it would have been a nice addition and it would have added more to the story.

Overall, this was a good Christmas story, and if you're looking for something to read this weekend in preparation for Christmas, I'd recommend picking this one up.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

November Monthly Recap




Books Read


Severed Veil – 5/5

Breaking Into Butterflies – 4.5/5

I'm not typically a bit poetry person, but I really enjoyed this poetry collection. These poems were clearly very personal for the author, Miranda Kulig. I have to give major props to anyone who can essentially bare their soul for the world to see. Once the second section of the collection started, I found several of the poems to be personally relatable – it was like I could see several of my own thoughts and feelings reflected right back at me.

The Girl Who Could See – 5/5

This was a great story. I was hooked from the first chapter, and I enjoyed it from start to finish. I loved the characters, and Fern and Tristan were a delight. I was a little bit worried about how the story was going to end, but it didn't disappoint and it was what I was hoping would happen.  


Movies Watched


The Grinch

I have to say that this movie was another one that was better than I was expecting it to be. It's not my favorite by any means, but it wasn't bad (except for the version of “You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, that was bad in my opinion).  



December's Book of the Month


The Christmas Candle



Imagine a Victorian England village in the Cotswolds where very little out of the ordinary ever happens … except at Christmas time.

This year, Edward Haddington, a lowly candle maker, is visited by a mysterious angel. That angel silently imparts a precious gift—a gift that’s bungled and subsequently lost. The candle maker and his wife, Bea, struggle to find the gift.

And when they do, they have to make a difficult choice. Who among their community is most in need of a Christmas miracle?

Since it's December, I think it's only fitting to pick a Christmas book for the book of the month. This book sounds like it'll be a good one, and I'm looking forward to reading it!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Book of the Month: Severed Veil




A dream-traveling boy haunted by a broken girl. A cursed warrior, weary of bloodshed. A princess who battles dragons in an enchanted slumber. A treacherous graveyard in the stars. From Bethany A. Jennings—author of Threadbare and Dragon Lyric—come twelve mesmerizing short works of poetry and prose that boldly pierce the shadows. Severed Veil contains a selection of fantasy, sci-fi, and poetry, including “Dreamskip,” the winner of an honorable mention from the Writers of the Future Contest in 2018. Illustrated with ethereal pencil sketches by artist Julia Busko, these tales dance on the delicate rift between life and death, waking and dreams.


My Rating: ***** 


I love a good short story. I've mentioned before in an earlier review, that I think short stories can be difficult. You have to have an entertaining, engaging story with a small word count. It doesn't sound that hard, but thinking about it, it has to be complete. This one story may be all you ever see of the story's world. You have to bring the reader in without spending a lot of time focusing on worldbuilding, because you're sort of dropping the reader off in the middle. Needless to say, I'm always impressed when this is pulled off well, and Bethany A. Jennings was able to do just that with her short stories in Severed Veil.

I'm a little bit at a loss of how to review and sum up my thoughts when it comes to a short story and poetry collection. There's so much to say, and at the same time I don't want to say too much because I don't want to spoil anything in these stories. The worlds of these stories were fascinating, and a few left me wanting to see more of them – which is both good and bad. Good, because I was pulled into these stories so easily. Bad, because I was left with questions and wanting answers. Don't get me wrong, these stories made sense on their own. I sometimes just find stories where I want to know everything that's going on in that world, especially when the story feels like one that could be expanded into something bigger. My favorite story in Bethany's collection would without a doubt be “Dreamskip”. This short story just felt so complete and left me completely satisfied with the ending.

I also really enjoyed the poetry in this collection as well. I'm typically not a big poetry person, because frankly, poetry and I are not friends. I've never had a good grasp of it, and that's something that frustrates me both as a reader and a writer. I do occasionally come across poems that I do enjoy, and I'm glad to say that the ones in Bethany's collection are in that category.

On one final note, I also want to say that the artwork by Julia Busko that accompanied the short stories in Severed Veil are wonderful. You can see an example of two of them up above in my cover image. Bethany had a giveaway for swag packs for this short story collection that contained two random artwork pieces (along with other goodies) from Severed Veil, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the winners. You'll see the artwork right before the short story starts, and I found that they were a nice little hint of what the story would be about.

So if you're looking for some sci-fi and fantasy short stories to read, I'd recommend reading Severed Veil.

Monday, November 5, 2018

October Monthly Recap



Books Read


Darkest Fear – 5/5

I didn't do a lot of reading in October. I was busier than I thought I would be, so I wasn't able to get through Darkest Fear as fast as I originally thought I would.

Movies Watched


The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Based off of the trailers, I thought this movie looked like it would be interesting. And I guess it sort of was, but I personally didn't care for it. There were some funny moments here and there, but ultimately this isn't a movie I'd watch again.

Venom

Based off the trailers for this movie, I didn't think I'd enjoy this movie. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was much better than I thought it would be. It had its week spots, but it was fun to watch. It's not a movie that I'd want to watch over and over, but I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel if they get around to making it.

Travels


I enjoyed a day trip with my family to Boone, North Carolina in October. We enjoyed a stop at a living history museum, which was very informative and may have given me a few ideas for stories to write in the future. We also walked through the Daniel Boone Native Gardens. It was nice, but it was kind of a cold, windy day, and I imagine that the gardens look a lot prettier in the spring and summer when everything is in bloom. We ended the day with some shopping and a stop at Krispy Kreme, which is always a nice treat.

November's Book of the Month


Severed Veil



A dream-traveling boy haunted by a broken girl. A cursed warrior, weary of bloodshed. A princess who battles dragons in an enchanted slumber. A treacherous graveyard in the stars. From Bethany A. Jennings—author of Threadbare and Dragon Lyric—come twelve mesmerizing short works of poetry and prose that boldly pierce the shadows. Severed Veil contains a selection of fantasy, sci-fi, and poetry, including “Dreamskip,” the winner of an honorable mention from the Writers of the Future Contest in 2018. Illustrated with ethereal pencil sketches by artist Julia Busko, these tales dance on the delicate rift between life and death, waking and dreams.

I enjoyed reading Threadbare and Dragon Lyric by Bethany Jennings, so I'm excited to start reading her new short story collection. All of the stories inside sound like they'll be interesting, so I'm curious to see which one will be my favorite.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Book of the Month: Darkest Fear



A surprise visit from an ex-girlfriend is unsettling enough. But Emily Downing’s news brings Myron to his knees. Her son Jeremy is dying and needs a bone marrow transplant from a donor who has vanished without a trace. Then comes the real shocker: Jeremy is Myron’s son, conceived the night before Emily’s wedding to another man. Myron is determined to help him. But finding the missing donor means cracking open a dark mystery that involves a broken family, a brutal kidnapping spree, and the FBI. And as doubts emerge about Jeremy’s true paternity, a child vanishes, igniting a chain reaction of heartbreaking truth and chilling revelation.

My Rating: ***** 


Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors, and I especially enjoy his Myron Bolitar series. One thing I will note about this series is that I've read it out of order, and there are still a few books in it that I haven't tracked down to read yet. The Myron Bolitar books actually work as standalone stories. There are progressions with the characters and their lives throughout the series, but a new reader could pick up a book that takes place in the middle of the series and understand what's going on without much trouble.

Darkest Fear is book seven in this eleven book series, so it's sort of around the end of the middle of the series (at least of how it stands today). It's a thrilling mystery, filled with twists and turns that leave you trying to guess what will happen next.

As it is part of the series, Darkest Fear also features the typical Myron Bolitar characters. Myron himself, Win, Esperanza, etc. It also brings in other characters that have had roles to play in Myron's past or that are in some way connected with the big mystery at hand. It was interesting piecing together everyone's goals and motivations as the story progressed to see what role they had in the mystery.

As I said before, the Myron books can work as standalone stories, and Darkest Fear is no exception. The overall mystery is completely wrapped up by the end of the novel. There are no hanging threads (at least none that I could see) that would require the reader to find another book to get a complete resolution. Of course this is still part of a series, and if you want to see what happens next with Myron, you will have to pick up the next book to see what's going on in his life and what mystery he discovers next time around.

Overall, if you're looking for a mystery-thriller, I highly recommend reading Darkest Fear (and some of Harlan Coben's other works as well).

Monday, October 1, 2018

September Monthly Recap




Books Read



Mere Christianity – 5/5

I started reading this book in April, and I finally finished it this month. I really enjoyed this book and wished it hadn't taken me so long to finish it. I have a hard time sometimes really getting into non-fiction books. I can enjoy them, but then if I set it down, I don't always feel a rush to finish it right away. Regardless, this was a really good book and I personally found it interesting how some of the points CS Lewis made are still relevant today.

Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World – 5/5

On the flip-side, if I actually sit down and read some of a non-fiction book every day, I can finish it within a month. I really enjoyed this book, and Max Lucado offers some good advice for anxious Christians.


Not a lot happened in September. I was busy with work, so outside of reading and playing the new Spider-Man PS4 game, the only other thing accomplished was some writing.


October's Book of the Month


Darkest Fear



A surprise visit from an ex-girlfriend is unsettling enough. But Emily Downing’s news brings Myron to his knees. Her son Jeremy is dying and needs a bone marrow transplant from a donor who has vanished without a trace. Then comes the real shocker: Jeremy is Myron’s son, conceived the night before Emily’s wedding to another man. Myron is determined to help him. But finding the missing donor means cracking open a dark mystery that involves a broken family, a brutal kidnapping spree, and the FBI. And as doubts emerge about Jeremy’s true paternity, a child vanishes, igniting a chain reaction of heartbreaking truth and chilling revelation.

I feel like October needs to have a spooky book, and the most fitting genre for that would be horror. I don't read horror though, so we're going with a mystery thriller instead. I love Harlan Coben's books, especially the Myron Bolitar series. I've read a good chunk of the series, but there are still a few that I haven't had a chance to read yet and this is one of them.