Writing Prompt – Deamon the Villain

13 Apr

“What are you doing here?” Daemon spewed the question out of the side of his mouth, the anger and disgust evident. If circumstances were different, he’d sideline the Hero, so that maybe he’d finally learn to stop interfering. But as it was, Daemon had to satisfy himself with a distracted question and turning his back on him. Far worse things were in the dark parking garage with him right now. He could deal with the Hero later.  He cast about, looking for the fiend who had lured him here. The cover of night made it easy for one such as him to hide. But he quickly remembered that it was to his advantage as well and took cover next to a pillar, pulling his long black coat around himself.  To his dismay, the Hero followed him. The insufferable guy slid next to him, his gray clothes melting into the darkness. 

wrtngpromptvillaindaemon

 

“Get out of here. I don’t have time to deal with you.” The side of his mouth twitched in irritation.

“I’m here to help.” The Hero’s voice was quiet and solid, not a waver of fear in it. Despite himself, Daemon felt a flicker of admiration for his long-time nemesis. Disgusted at the emotion, he jerked his collar high around his neck and checked that the safety was off on his gun. Once again, his eyes searched the darkness, sure that at any moment…

“Daemon. Come out, come out wherever you are.” The voice was alluring and dangerous yet deep inside, Daemon wished he could do as the dark voice asked.  He felt the Hero move from his side, but kept his eyes in front of him  – the Shadow would have to move eventually. “Daemon – I don’t like waiting. Come out here where I can see you. There’s no use hiding, I’ll find you eventually. Let’s get this over with, shall we?” 

The voice slithered inside him, planting doubt that he’d make it out of this alive. Daemon silently made his way to the next pillar, hiding behind parked cars as he moved. From the corner of his eye, he caught a flash of the Hero on the other side of the parking garage. Desperate to get a better fix on where the Shadow was hiding, he screwed up his courage and hollered into the night ,

“What do you want with me?”

A low cackle filled the cavernous space, “You know exactly why I’m here. Don’t toy with me, pathetic worm. You haven’t dealt with that Hero like you were supposed to. So.” The voice dropped to a low pitch, so full of malevolence that even Daemon shivered. “You will die. And then he will die.” 

He brought the gun up, ready to shoot the first movement he saw, even knowing the bullet wouldn’t harm his opponent. Instead, a loud crashing noise followed by a startled grunt rent the air. Daemon ran towards it, dodging cars and concrete dividers as he went. The noise of the fight ended in a sharp, angry scream and Daemon slid to a halt as the Shadow fell to his knees. The Hero stood nearby, doubled over.  The hilt of a knife protruded from the Shadow’s stomach, all black with a red stone set in the pommel. Before Daemon could react, the Shadow fell in a dead heap, stabbed by the only weapon that could kill one such as him. 

The Hero turned. And instead of the obnoxious joke that Daemon was certain he would make, the Hero’s face was contorted, and he too fell to his knees. Daemon laid the Hero on his back, his hand beneath his head. The Hero’s blood covered him now but there was no victory in it for him.

“You pulled the Shadow’s knife from your gut? That was suicide!” Daemon’s heavy voice registered shock as he realized what had happened. 

“He was…going to kill…you.” The Hero gasped and coughed. 

“But…that would’ve done it for you. No more villain to your hero.”

“There’s more to.. you than…you know.”

Daemon snorted in derision, sure that the Hero had lost any sense he’d had. He looked over at the Shadow, laying in folds of black fabric, a ghastly look on his face. “That was the only way to kill him, you know. That knife. To kill such a creature…” Daemon shook his head, relieved and confused all at the same time. 

“You are…reborn, Daemon.The darkness will not… haunt you anymore.” With his last breath, the Hero blessed his enemy. And Daemon stayed on his knees, cradling the one whom he’d hated for all his life.

 

Today’s writing prompt was ‘The Hero dies for the Villain’. But I thought it would kind of spoil things if I told you that beforehand.

I hope you enjoyed this sad little short story! I’m plotting away on my book and I can’t wait to start writing it! By the  way, have I mentioned how much I’m loving The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler? Definite recommend, there.

Anyhow, come back on Thursday for this month’s book review! Thanks for stopping by, let me know if you’ve got any writing prompt ideas, or even places to find cool ones online!

~Laura

The Sword in His Hand Book Review

2 Apr

The Sword in His Hand by J. J. Fischer is a christian fantasy novel that I got free for my honest review from Ambassador International. Now, I am so excited that they are publishing more christian fantasy – the other one I received was The Kingdom Above the Cloud.

When I got this book in the mail, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it is- the cover, the map, -etc? Plus it’s a hefty 500+ pages which is always a good thing, especially in the fantasy genre.

When a strange young woman named El, washes up on the shores of Darcentaria, brought somehow by a strange metal craft that is now a burning wreck, there is plenty of suspicion about her. The villagers wonder if she’s an agent of their cruel oppressors, the Dalriadans, sent to spy on them? Or is she from the Outside – the legendary lands that lie beyond their borders. Torsten Eislher has spent the last nine years wrongfully imprisoned. His uncle, the empire’s ruler, used him as an example to any who might oppose him. But now, as a young swordsman, and having escaped the fate planned for him, Torsten is staying alive and one step ahead of his uncle’s soldiers by keeping a firm grip on his sword. He hates anything to do with the Outside; but when he is inexorably drawn to El, he finds himself questioning everything he’s been told about her world. The hunt for Torsten and El is started in earnest when the ruler, Jurien Arminius decides to take the Outside world’s advanced military for his own. But it’s not just Torsten and El that he’s looking for, there were two others that landed with her. And he will stop at nothing to win the war against the rebellion that could destroy his empire.

Now, this is one that is going on my Favorite Reads of 2021, no doubt about it. Fischer carried quite a few different storylines throughout and wove them together so beautifully. I did get a little confused between the bad guys in the beginning, but it becomes clearer once you get into the story more. I appreciated the strength of Torsten’s convictions throughout (even if they aren’t the best *cough*) and found myself a little frustrated with El’s vacillating although it did make sense, with all she went through. There were so many great side characters, I’m not even going to try and name any of them because then I’ll never get stopped.

As I am always curious about how clean a book is, I will share a few things with you. First off, it is very clean – a fact that I just loved, getting to read another fantasy with no ‘ugh’ parts! But, throughout there are mentions of the guards forcing themselves on the women prisoners, and El deals with a lot of suggestive behaviors and more from the strangers that she’s around while traveling through this world. (Thankfully, none from Torsten – that probably would have broken my heart.) There is also talk of how she gave herself to a young man back in her world – but none of this is shared in detail. Another fact that I highly appreciated.

I was engrossed in this novel pretty much from beginning to end and while I was satisfied with the end, I was sad it was over and needing to know what happens next!

I can’t wait for the sequel that’s coming out this summer!

Jan and Feb 2021 Book Reviews

25 Mar

Well, it’s been a minute since I last posted, hasn’t it? As you can tell by the title, I’ve decided to lump the book reviews in two months today. Hopefully I can then get caught up and do March’s book reviews in the next week or so. Let’s begin, shall we?

Photo by Mahendra Kumar on Unsplash

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson – English orphan, Maia is sent to live with her distant relatives who own a rubber plantation on the Amazon. Excited to explore the new world of sunshine, bright flowers and butterflies, she is surprised to encounter her cousins who douse the house with bug killer and won’t let her leave their compound. But Maia can’t be cooped up forever and she becomes involved in a mystery about an inheritance, a reluctant actor and a giant sloth

~ This is a children’s story so well written that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I fell in love with Maia and her governess, Miss Minton. I highly recommend it to pass on to young readers as well! It was such fun and getting to read about the Amazon just added to the delight.

A Year of No Sugar: A Memoir by Eve Schaub – when Eve’s eyes were opened to how sugar is hidden in just about everything (bacon, dressings, baby food, etc), she challenged her husband and two daughters to going a whole year without sugar. As they traversed the rocky road through holidays, birthdays and vacations, she learned what the real cost of such sugar consumption is- obesity, diabetes and increased risk of heart disease among other issues. Eve talks about what it’s like for an average American family to kick the sugar habit.

~ Every now and then I love to read food memoirs and this was a good one. I appreciated Schaub’s easy to understand explanations about sugar byproducts, and her honesty about the challenges of cutting sugar out of their diets. As someone who has had to cut out all processed sugars out of my own diet, I identified with a lot of what she talks about. It also motivated me to keep looking at the ingredient lists of anything I buy – which can get wearying after a few years but it’s Worth it. Highly recommend, whether you’re wanting a good kick in the pants to minimize your sugar intake or just a good memoir to laugh and groan along with.

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin – We all know that habits are the key to change but Rubin wondered – how do we change our habits? She gives practical advice and theories – that she tested on herself and those around her- mixed with humor and research, on how to improve our lives by intentionally creating habits that help us lead the life we want.

~ This book was so inspirational. I’m tempted to buy it (I got it from the library to read) and actually give some of her ideas a try. This book was such an easy read and kept me turning the pages. (I even stopped reading the novel I was in at the time, it’s that good). I highly recommend!

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes – Raised on stories of the magic of the past and high seas adventures, Lucy Clairmont grew up to be a marine archaeologist. She’s not seen her childhood friend, Dashel, for years. But when tragedy strikes, it’s his knowledge as a forensic astronomer that will help her unravel the mystery that she finds in her childhood home. Somehow, it’s linked with a story two hundred years old- of childhood love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption. And so, Lucy and Dashel journey to an estate on the East Sussex coast, where they find a community of gentle souls and long-lost secrets where they both just might find healing.

~ Deep breath, you guys. This novel was Incredible. It immediately went onto my Favorites of 2021 list. I adore when an author can carry two different timelines through the story and weave them so seamlessly together. This was my first novel of Dykes by the way, and I was thoroughly enchanted with her writing style. I wanted to shake Lucy a few times as she let fear or assumptions dictate her actions- but don’t we all do that at times? And really, if you can write marine archaeology into a book, I am probably going to be a fan. If you’re wanting a novel that you just can’t put down, give this one a try! I already can’t wait to read it again.

My Secret War: The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck, Long Island, New York, 1941 by Mary Pope Osborne – This diary follows the adventures and trials of young Madeline. Her and her mother live in a boardinghouse on Long Island while her father serves on an aircraft carrier on the Pacific Coast. When her and her friend find a German U-boat on the coast, they form “Kids Fight for Freedom” to do their own part in the home front war effort.

~ This is a part of the ‘Dear America’ series. I have read a few, mostly when I was a young teen, and enjoyed them. This was no exception, even if it was written a little simply and I would have loved more details on certain things. But, this is written as a diary, not a novel, so it makes complete sense as to its level. I appreciated the growth of Madeline throughout the story as she goes through good and bad times during the war. Also, it’s a little known fact that a German U-boat was found on the coast in New York. I definitely recommend this for younger (and older) readers.

Books coming up in the next review:

Redwall by Brian Jacques

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

and more!

What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear!

Daughters of the Mayflower Series Review

12 Feb

I ran across this series while perusing the Christianbook site for more novels by Michelle Griep, and the first three were such a good deal that I decided to give them a try. Now, this series is rather unique as it is written by six different authors – and covers the stories of Americans from the Mayflower through World War 2. There are at least twelve books in total. I just found the site for the series here.

The first one is The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse- set in 1620. Mary Elizabeth joins her family and small community of Seperatists aboard the Mayflower in search of a better world. William Lytton is also seeking a fresh start. As a carpenter aboard the ship, he hopes to succeed in this venture. When he’s asked to look out for the interests of the Virginia Company as the community settles in exchange for a goodly sum, he agrees. But the season is late for sailing and even when they do reach land, the people are weak from the journey and building a settlement is a challenge. Will Mary Elizabeth and William survive the natives and the innumerable losses as spring comes? Will William be branded a traitor just when things seem to be turning for the better?

Next is The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’barbo – set in New Orleans, 1725. Maribel Cordova clings to the little she has left of her mother- a shawl that has been passed down through the family since they came to the New World. But she’s lost something else – her father’s treasure. And the one man who can help her find it is attorney Jean-Luc Valmont. When he accepts a position on the governor’s staff, he is certain that he’s buried his past deep enough that it will never see the light of day. But then Maribel walks into his life, and as the daughter of a notorious pirate, she could ruin everything. Will they both be able to find what they seek, and hold onto what they hold most dear?

And last but not least, is The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep- set in  Upper Fort Wilderness in Upstate New York, 1760. Mercy Lytton straddles two cultures that are united in their cause- to defeat the French. Mercy was raised among the Mohawks and has keen sight that makes her invaluable as a scout for the English military. When she is chosen for a mission with three men, she is expecting the physical danger. But the real danger is to her heart. Elias Dubois is condemned as a traitor and awaiting the gallows. At the last moment, he is offered the chance to live a little longer and help guard a shipment of gold. The gold that he stole in the first place. As he sets off with Mercy, an old ranger and a whiny soldier, Elias realizes that Mercy is far more intriguing than any woman he’s met. Will they be able to deliver the gold on time – and will they find common ground amidst the divided loyalties that split the country?

My Review: I enjoyed the first novel but felt that it was quite slow moving in the first half (or even longer) I would have liked to see more of their time in the New World than was shared. Nothing faulting the author here though, personal preference. I also felt that the characters could have jumped off the page more – while I liked both Mary Elizabeth and William, I wasn’t gripped with needing to know how their story ended. A good book but could have been even better, in my opinion. I am not sure that I’ll read it again but give it a try, it’s worth a one-time read!

As for the Pirate Bride, I had only read some short stories of hers in collections (you know, where there’s a handful of similar short stories in one book?). But I was excited about it as it was a book centered on PIRATES. And yes, I needed to capitalize that whole word to get across just how excited I was about it. The above synopsis doesn’t tell you near enough about what actually happens in this novel! I really enjoyed it and had a hard time putting it down. I’ve not read a novel quite like it before, which was so refreshing! I will definitely be looking out for more books by her. But, back to this one – Maribel is a spunky kid- and young woman. Yes, we get to see her in two different stages in her life which really brought her to life. If we had only seen her grown, we wouldn’t have understood her struggles and stubbornness and love for ships. Y’Barbo didn’t overdo it on the information on the details (rigging, masts, starboard, etc) about the ships which I appreciated. But I did revel in what she included. Danger and intrigue; family devotion and betrayal; faith being put to the test; sweet, clean, lovely romance – all are covered in this one, folks. The characters were real and jumping off the page. In other words, give this one a try!

As for The Captured Bride by Griep – I absolutely loved it! I was sucked into the story right from the beginning, and couldn’t stop thinking about it whenever I had to put it down to do things..like life. Mercy was such a great character – her skills and knowledge were believable; her weaknesses true to life and her being willing to learn and live made it so that you could identify with her. I really liked Elias as well- the intrigue behind his story was so good and while, after finishing it, I wondered how I didn’t see ‘that’ coming –the truth is that it’s written so well that I just didn’t! Griep wove so many twists and turns into the story that it’s sure to keep you intrigued, just like it did me! This one is definitely on my Favorite Reads of 2021!

So, as a summary, each book that I read, I enjoyed more than the last one. I look forward to slowly reading more of this series but I’ll probably be trying to get them through the library before buying any more, penny pincher that I am.

Kathleen Y’Barbo’s website is here.

Kimberley Woodhouse’s website is here.

Michelle Griep’s website is here.

My review of Griep’s House at The End of the Moors is here.

Have you read any of this series?

~Laura

What I Read at Christmas Time and Beyond

21 Dec

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have some favorites for certain seasons. Let’s be honest, mainly for winter. I have Winter reads.

During my cleaning out of my library the past few years, this list has gotten shorter, which means that when I was gathering all the books for this photo/post, I spent plenty of time searching for ones that I’ve gotten rid of. Why do I tell you these things? Because I like to feel that I’m not alone in my forgetfulness and book adoration. (Even as I started working on this post again, I realized that I’d forgotten two more books! Up I popped to go grab them.)

An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County by Beth Wiseman – Forgiveness is on the horizon – or is it? – for several people in Lancaster County. Facing some of their deepest fears at Christmastime has the potential to change their lives.

~ A good way to describe these are Hallmark movies set in an Amish community – and that’s not a bad thing. They deal with different struggles, but all 3 stories tie in with each other. They may be a bit cliched but sometimes that’s what you want. It only takes me a few days to read all of them, they are quick, fun reads for anyone. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – If Ebenezer Scrooge could have cancelled Christmas, he would have. But on one cold Christmas Eve, he is visited by his late business partner, who warns him to change his ways before he too has the same fate. Scrooge is visited by three Spirits who show him what has been, what is, and what will be.

~This hardback copy also has : The Cricket on the Hearth, The Chimes, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

~How Wonderful A Christmas Carol is, truly. I enjoy it every year. I’m partway thru The Chimes and it’s intriguing as well.

Wildwood Dancing -by Juliet Marillier – Jenica lives with her father and sisters in the Transylvania woods, in Piscul Draculi – a castle that hides a portal to the Other Kingdom. Every month, with her sisters and pet frog, on the Full Moon, they go through the portal and dance the night away. But at home, in their world, everything is changing, and soon, events will bring their two worlds together and change everything. Forbidden love – Unswerving anger over an act of betrayal – an enchanted frog – and the ultimate test of trust.

~I’ve been thinking about this book for over a month now but love starting it on January 1st..We’ll see if I can make it that long.

The Cricket on the Hearth and Other Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens – This Dover Thrift Edition has, aside from the story on the title, The Holly Tree and The Haunted House.

~Had I remembered my hardback edition had short stories as well, I don’t know that I would have picked this up this fall. But, I’m looking forward to reading the two extra in this. So while this isn’t one that I go back to year after year, I anticipate doing so with at least some of these short stories!

Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury – All of Alcott’s short Christmas stories and novellas have been compiled in this lovely treasury. Full of love, hope, sorrow, redemption, strength, joy and goodness, these stories will enchant you.

~Last year I read a few of these short stories and was enchanted. Alcott’s writing is just so wonderful, how she weaves such lessons through her tales.

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman – A compelling love story between a young Irish girl, Katherine Mary O’Fallon, new to the Canadian wild, and Sergeant Mike Flannigan of the Canadian Mounted police.

~This is a yearly – winter read for me. The wilderness and those occupying it – the animals, peoples and nature itself – are described so vividly, it’s a delight. The heartbreak that occurs will tear your heart out just as surely as you’ll rejoice when good things happen. If this book isn’t considered a classic, I’m not sure why. Read it, you’ll be glad you did. 

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy – When singer Annette Talbot shows up, with trouble following close on her heels, Elijah Walker has to decide if she’s telling the truth or lying. Like his ex- fiancee. Despite himself, he’s drawn to her – and just when he decides to trust her, he finds out she’s a wanted woman. Will he find out the truth before he loses Annie forever?

~ This was my second time reading this sweet romantic mystery. I liked how Connealy dealt with Elijah’s struggle to forgive himself and Annette’s mis-guided belief in ‘bearing her cross’. Faith is central to this novel, and it’s done very well. It’s a great Christmas-time western read.

Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge – this book was first published in 1865. This story takes place in early nineteenth-century Holland. The description of Holland is fascinating, including some Dutch words which aspects always make me enjoy a book more. There are two connecting story lines – Poor Hans dreams of winning the Silver Skates in an ice-skating race while we also see the lives of other Dutch boys whose families are a little more well-off than Hans’.

~I believe I’ve only read this once but am excited to enter into Dodge’s world again. I remember just being enchanted with the Dutch villages and some of the characters. If you’re worried about how much she describes Holland (a valid fear from what I remember), there’s also a junior edition that I’m assuming cuts some of that out. I have both versions and haven’t decided which one I’ll read this year. Probably the unabridged, because that’s how I do things.

how sweet is this picture?

What are your Winter Reads?

~Laura

Book Reviews- Oct/Nov

14 Dec

Two months of book reviews in one today! I guess it’s just not in me these days to be consistent on my blogging. No matter how much I want to be. I’ve not only shared some novels but I’ve also linked a few reviews below that I shared previously as well as research books for my own novels. I hope you’ll find something to add to your TBR. Happy Reading!

Skyward Series by Brandon Sanderson –

Kingdom above the Cloud by Maggie Platt

After reading it, I had to buy my own copy

Rebecca by Daphne Du Marier – Even though working as a lady’s companion is a step up for her, it’s still a small and dismal world to be a part of. So when the heroine of Rebecca meets and subsequently gets an unexpected proposal from Max de Winter, she accepts. She’s quickly swept into a world that she has no experience with. Max takes her home to his estate -overwhelming and set in its ways – Manderley and the staff that comes with it. The memory of Rebecca is kept alive by Mrs. Danvers, Max is haunted by the memory of his late wife and becomes taciturn and our heroine is caught in the middle.

~Over the past few years I have been getting told that I simply must read this book. When I saw that Enchanted Book Club was reading it a few months ago, I decided it was the time to give it a shot and was able to borrow a copy from a friend. And I’m so glad that I did. There were times that I did not enjoy what was happening in the story – why was Max so cold all of a sudden? Why was Frank Crawley so nice and yet seemingly so disliked by Mrs. Danvers? What was Mrs. Danver’s problem anyway? What changed Max so much when they got to Manderely? etc. The Questions were numerous. But they just made me keep reading, needing desperately to know the answers. The unexpected reveals in this story just blew me away. I didn’t see them coming. I did really love seeing the new Mrs. De Winter gain self confidence as the story went on, as she learned more about what was truly going on at Manderley. The writing style was incredible, I’m interested in reading other books by Du Marier now. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers, due to the intensity of the storyline.

the copy on the left was a gift from my 9th birthday!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – We follow the March sisters as they grow up in New England during the Civil War. Feminine and proper Meg, tomboy Jo, spoiled Amy and tender, sickly Beth each go through their highs and lows. Young neighbor Laurie joins in many of their adventures.

~It had been a few years since I read this classic story and I have to admit that I forgot so much of what happened (that isn’t typically in the movies). I liked seeing how Amy grew and matured; Beth’s faith despite everything; Meg’s learning how to be a good, Godly wife and Jo’s independence and realizing love can come, despite your intentions to avoid it. Can readily recommend this for younger readers, the life lessons throughout are just wonderful, for any age.

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott – Years later, Jo now has boys of her own, as well as a dozen orphaned boys filling her informal school. And she couldn’t be happier, she loves each one of them and strives to help them grow in all the important ways. But boys will still be boys and they get into trouble and many an adventure.

~ This was only the second time I’ve read Little Men! I think I can honestly say that I enjoyed it even more than I did Little Women. The scrapes the the boys get into are just so interesting and you really root for them when they make the right choices. I highly recommend this for anyone, especially younger readers as it’s so fun and the life lessons are just as good as in Little Women.

Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan Severa – Through photographs and writings, we are shown how poorer Americans could wear the current fashions within a year. And how fashion equality really rose in people’s minds as the years progressed. Through ready-made clothing and other inventions, the fashion industry changed the average American’s style.

~I got this book as research for the novels I’m writing and while I only focused on the years that were pertinent to my stories, I highly enjoyed (and took copious notes) it. The detail that Severa goes into is so great for historical information that I would love to own this eventually.

20th Century Fashion 1900-1920 Linen and Lace by Sue Mee – As part of a series that covers how fashion changed – from the tea gown to sportswear- it covers eight ‘looks’ as well as other information about the time period.

~This book was interesting but it wasn’t as in depth as I was wanting. It had some great information though!

Police Procedure and Investigation- a Guide for Writers by Lee Lofland – With this guide, you can get your facts about the inner workings of police departments straight instead of ending up like so many television shows that get so much of it wrong.

~This is yet another book for research, and that I’d love to own eventually. I didn’t need very much information from it but ended up flipping through several chapters just out of pure curiosity. Lofland gives it to you straight and detailed. A very good reference book.

Currently Reading:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

To Read:

Christmas/Winter books (watch for an upcoming post on that!)

What have you been reading lately?

~Laura

Series Review- Skyward

29 Nov

I’ve been meaning to get this review up for quite some time now and lo and behold – I’ve finally done it! Are you surprised that it’s another Brandon Sanderson review, I mean, really?

Skyward – The human race has been chased to one lonely planet -one that is constantly attacked by alien spaceships. Spensa’s dad was a pilot- one of the best. She dreams of being just like him, but as a teenage girl with the label of ‘coward’ attached to her, she is going to have to fight like crazy to fulfill her dream. When she finds a wrecked spaceship, she realizes that this might be the chance she’s been waiting for. All she has to do is get through flight school, fix the ship and convince it to help her. This ship not only talks, but it appears to have a soul.

Starsight – Spensa has made it to the sky, but the journey to her dream was filled with truths about her father and herself that are hard to live with. She’s not only sure that there’s more to the story about what happened to her father, she’s pretty certain that the same thing could happen to her, too. When she broke through the protective shell around her planet, she could hear the stars. And it terrified her. Because everything that Spensa has been told about her world is a lie.. She will go to the other side of the galaxy to save humankind if she has to.

Close up of the amazing cover

A friend loaned me these, knowing how big of a fan I am of Sanderson’s. They had a different feel than the others that I’ve read of his, but I imagine that to be because they are young adult genre. I highly enjoyed this series though – even if some of Spensa’s choices made me wonder WHY she would do that; and made me incredibly sad when I finished it and realized that I’m going to have to wait until sometime 2021 at the earliest for book 3.

To be honest, it’s actually been a few months since I read them, but I still think about them. Something will remind me of a scene in them – or the plot line that completely surprised me (shhh, no spoilers here!!) And that is how I judge how good a book was – still thinking about it months later? Worth reading again.

If you’re interested in seeing the other reviews I’ve written for Sanderson novels, here you go:

Series Review: Mistborn Trilogy

Series Review – Mistborn Era

Elantris: Book Reviews – August 2020

Warbreaker: Aug/Sept 2018 Book Reviews

*finding that I’ve apparently not reviewed The Reckoner’s series! That will have to be remedied!

~Laura

Book Review – Kingdom above the Cloud

18 Nov

Kingdom above the Cloud : Tales from Adia book One by Maggie Platt

“What if the nine fruit of the spirit and the seven deadly sins were locked in a battle for control?” -from back cover

I received this book free from Ambassador International in exchange for my honest review. The copy was an ebook and as I was enjoying it so much, I decided to buy a copy. I really don’t read ebooks very well. I need to feel the pages and smell the lovely bookish smell.

Here’s the synopsis: Despite being adopted and raised by kind and loving people that are part of an eclectic treehouse village in the valley, Tovi has always felt the lack of blood relatives. The only one she’s had as a close friend and confidante has been her twin brother. But when he goes missing, Tovi starts to doubt her faith in the invisible King Arwen. Her best friend, Silas begs her not to but she decides to go searching for her brother in the kingdom at the top of the mountain. But much more intrigue exists above the clouds than she even imagines. King Damien and the Council of Masters have plans that inevitably involve both Tovi and her brother. As she gets more involved in the kingdom above the cloud, Tovi is torn between her own unanswered questions and dark longings. And it starts with a snake and a crown. Will her life be forfeit when the ring is complete?

My thoughts: I was intrigued by a fantasy/epic young adult fiction coming from a faith based perspective. As you probably know, I’ve gotten into sci fi/fantasy the past few years (*hello Sanderson novels*) so I couldn’t wait to dive into this story. The idea of the 9 Fruits of the Spirit pitted against the 7 deadly Sins – who can resist that? Anyway, when I first started reading it as an ebook, I felt the beginning was rather slow. But when I had the book in my hands and started it over, I didn’t feel that way. Was it because I knew where the first quarter of the book was heading? Perhaps. Either way, you might feel that as well, but it picks up quickly. I really enjoyed the characters Silas (he has my heart forever), Eryx and Xanthe. Damien is one that you are glad to dislike, I’ll just say that. As the book progressed, I had a harder time putting it down. And when I reached the end, I was sad and excited and wanting to read the next book! I really enjoyed the symbolisms of the deadly sins in people and …well, I don’t want to spoil anything.

I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers. This is a reminder that I like to put in each of my reviews. For this one, it was very mild, but there were some references to women using their bodies to get what they want, and that sort of thing. I would recommend reading the book before giving this to any younger readers. I’ll reiterate though, it is quite mild.

If you’re a fan of fantasy or are just thinking of dipping your toes in, I think you’ll enjoy this book. I am really pleased to see Ambassador International bringing a fantasy that has a faith basis to readers.

One last thing, in reading about Platt (writer, traveler, cancer survivor and dreamer) on the back of the book, I feel like the two of us could be friends. And that’s just fun.

Also, can we just talk about how gorgeous that cover is?!

~Laura

Book Reviews- Sept 2020

13 Oct

I’m finally sitting down and getting book reviews up for you all! I’ve been reading quite a bit lately – novels and books for research, as you’ll soon see! I’ve joined an online book club called An Enchanted Book Club, where each month a classic book is chosen. September’s was Peter Pan! Let’s get to the reviews, shall we?

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner – When Marian puts on Robin’s cape to help her maid’s brother, she doesn’t intend to lead people to believe that he has returned. Because he never can- he’s died in the Holy Crusades far from England. But there’s a corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham draining the people and land of food and hope, and Guy of Gisborne wans to take Robin’s place as Lord of Locksley as well as Marian’s fiancee’. She decides that if no one else will stop them, she will. She decides to become her own hero : Robin Hood.

– Click the title to read my review! Trust me, this book is worth one extra click.

Yours for Liberty: Selections from Abigail Scott Duniway’s Suffrage Newspaper by Jean M. Ward – Duniway started a small newspaper in 1871- one of the very few of its time that was focused on the advancement of women. This book shares excerpts from its conception to when she sold it.

-Duniway was a powerful woman in a time when women were expected to mind the house and babies. While she did raise several kids, she also pushed the boundaries of normality and became the main breadwinner after her husband had an accident. She was formidable in the fight for women’s emancipation.( I got this from the library)

Abigail Scott Duniway and Susan B. Anthony in Oregon: Hesitate No Longer by Jennifer Chambers– When entrepreneur Duniway was on a business trip, she waited excitedly to meet Susan B. Anthony outside the convention. That meeting sparked a friendship that would last decades – through travel by train, carriage, horseback and boat as they shared the message that women had a right to vote. They each were vital in the parts they played to bring about the 19th ammendment.

Having read the previous book about Duniway, this was interesting to read more about her life in detail. Chambers shares an intimate view of each Duniway and Anthony as they fought tirelessly to give women a voice. They were different in many ways, and often disagreed, but their end goal was the same. Duniway became the head leader in the Pacific Northwest for the Suffrage movement. This was a good, easy read with a lot of interesting facts about the movement. Highly recommend. (I got this from the library)

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden – Not only is Elizabeth Black the headmistress of a girls boarding school in Victorian London, she writes ‘silver-fork’ novels- stories for the upper-class societies. But she finds the restrictions placed on women constricting, so she’s assumed the pseudonym of Mr. King and writes penny-dreadfuls. Those stories of daring fights and dashing heroes fighting supernatural villians. Fletcher Walker is the most popular author of the penny-dreadfuls, until Mr. King comes along. Fletcher has come a long way from being a street urchin and now, as part of the Dread Penny Society, helps the fraternity to rescue as many kids from that life as he can. But, Mr. King is taking his readers- and his profits. In the search to find out who the elusive author is, Fletcher goes to Miss Black for her assistance. But neither expects the danger that is about to come their way – nor the attraction that draws them ever closer

This book, you guys. This book. Just click on the title and read my full review, okay? It’s worth it, I promise. (I got this from the library)

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – When Peter Pan lands in the Darling’s nursery to look for his shadow, he meets Wendy, John and Michael. With a bit of help from pixie dust, he teaches them to fly and off they go to Neverland where they meet pirates, pixies, Indians and mermaids. With plenty of adventures for them, the Darling children are enthralled with the Boy who Refuses to Grow up, and the world he lives in.

I’m quite certain I’ve read this before but so much of it seemed new to me that I can’t be certain… I’m not the only one who does that, am I? I adore the Disney version, so it was fun to see what they kept and what they changed in the story. The book is a tad darker but not so much that I’d limit the age of who could read it. Barrie’s style is quite different from what I’ve read before, I’m intrigued to read another of his. Peter Pan will probably be a yearly read for me, it was fun, sweet and full of little lessons along the way.

The Mayflower Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #1) by Kimberley Woodhouse– in 1620, Mary Elizabeth, along with her father and brother, board the Speedwell with her community of Seperatists in the search for a new life. William Lytton boards the Mayflower not only as a carpenter but also as an agent of the Virginia Company, to keep an eye on their interests as the colony is set up in the New World. But the journey seems doomed from the start- the season is not good for sailing, food runs low, disease runs rampant and hope is failing. Will Mary Elizabeth and her people survive in order to start their new life? Will William be branded a traitor and sent home?

-I snagged the first three books in this series when it was on crazy sale on christianbook.com. This book, as stated, starts in 1620 when three ships started out for the New World. I enjoyed the story overall, but it didn’t suck me in completely. I’m not sure why though. Woodhouse did her homework on the Separatists and those that sailed with them, and I really appreciated that. I especially liked William as he was trying to do what was right, even as he searched for his own faith. I did appreciate how clean the romance was, so sweet and caring without anything unnecessary! Because of that, I feel that even younger teens would be able to read this book and enjoy it as well as learn faith and life lessons.

American Queenmaker: How Missy Meloney brought Women into Politics by Julie Des Jardins– “Marie “Missy” Mattingly Meloney was born in 1878, in an America where women couldn’t vote. Yet she recognized the power that women held as consumers and family decision-makers, and persuaded male publishers and politicians to take them seriously. Over the course of her life as a journalist, magazine editor-in-chief, and political advisor, Missy created the idea of the female demographic. After the passage of the 19th Amendment she encouraged candidates to engage with and appeal to women directly. In this role, she advised Presidents from Hoover and Coolidge to FDR. By the time she died in 1943, women were a recognized political force to be reckoned with.” – I grabbed this synopsis from Goodreads because it’s just so well written.

I got this from the library as part of my research for the novels that I’m writing. I’d never heard of Missy Meloney before but I’m so glad that, not only this book was written, but that I decided to give it a try! I expected to read only the bits that were what I was wanting info on but I found that I couldn’t put it down! I think everyone should learn about Meloney- she was a woman who was behind so much in this country. I also was inspired to try and work past/through my health ailments as she did throughout her life. This book was very well written and researched, it had so many interesting tidbits of history throughout.

Currently Reading:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Rebecca by Daphne Du Marier

To Read:

Winter’s Heart( Wheel of Time #9) by Robert Jordan

The Pirate Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #2) By Kathleeen Y’Baro

Police Procedure and Investigation- a Guide for Writers by Lee Lofland

20th Century Fashion 1900-1920 Linen and Lace by Sue Mee

Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan Severa

(these last 3 are library books for research for my current WIP)

Health Update – Sept 2020

6 Oct

Hello! Thanks for coming to spend some time at SGL!

This time around, as I didn’t take any notes at all this past month on how I was doing, I decided to go through each symptom and fill them out. I was surprised at how often I wrote something along the lines of ‘this has eased’. Even with that being the case, I’ve still been a veritable wreck, so please don’t think that I’ve made some big strides in healing! If that were the case, I’d be announcing it loud and clear on here, believe me! Sometimes, even if things have calmed down, they are still overwhelming and difficult to deal with on a day to day basis.

Overall Health: Very back and forth – Severe migraines and crashing hard for hours at a time to feeling pretty well.

Migraine: It’s still too early to see any changes due to the Aimovig (monthly migraine shot) as I need to take 3 doses before I’ll hopefully start to see improvements. The Rizatriptan that I’ve started taking when they go nuclear have been good to have. Only once did it not seem to help, otherwise, they knock the pain out without any negative side effects. (I have been taking 1/2 a pill only). In this past month, only one nuclear migraine hit- but that lasted several days. Otherwise, the pain has responded to treatments well – and I’ve been able to go to bed without an ice pack several nights.

Sleep: This has been rough for multiple reasons. I took melatonin a few nights.

Memory/Brain Fog: This has improved a tiny bit more, I think

Vision: The odd not-wanting to focus issue has pretty much disappeared. My eyes aren’t hurting as often as they were, either. (not to say that they aren’t hurting at all anymore, it’s just not as often)

TMJ: Less popping, but still often tense and painful

Fatigue: After my nutrient IV, this eased some. I decided to increase Olivirex from every other day to every day – but it caused such terrible fatigue that I backed off of it again. I’ve actually not taken it at all these past 4-5 days. Noticing a big difference, even while on my cycle.

Fibromyalgia: I can’t believe how much this has eased. I still have slight aches in knees and elbows but it’s mostly ignorable. My left calf is still pretty bad but it’s eased as well.

Weight Loss: Baby steps by baby steps, it’s slowly happening

Mood: Oof da. Oy Vay and Augh. This has been a definite struggle.

Digestion: Back to my normal, and perhaps a little better than that even

Current Protocol

My current protocol:

Biocidin, G.I. Detox, Olivirex, Biofilm Phase-2 Advanced, Low Dose Naltrexone, Xiao Chai Hu Tang, Candidastat, Yin Chao, Molybdenum, Berberine as well as CoQ10

~Laura

Little Blossoms for Jesus

• Enjoying the old-fashioned & beautiful • • Thankful for grace • Growing in faith • • Learning life • Loving people •

Elaine Howlin

lost in the pages of books

See Jayne Run

Navigating with Chronic Illness in a Self Absorbed World