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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

Book Reviews – August 2020

26 Aug

First off, since I haven’t done a book review since May, I am going to add a few more books that I really have been wanting to share with you on SGL. Because of that, this will be quite the mix of classics and modern books, so get out your TBR list because I’m sure you’ll find a couple at least, to add to it!

A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich – A story about a young girl that dreamed of doing something big with her life. When she became a young bride, she followed her husband West and became one of the pioneers that helped build a nation- in so doing, becoming part of something great! ~This story was heart-touching and with little life lessons all throughout. I can’t believe I’ve owned this book for years and haven’t read it before this! Following Abbie from childhood to the end of her days, you meet all the people she comes in contact with and see all the joys and trials she goes through. Living with her through the difficult pioneer years and raising children and watching them grow makes you appreciate all that our ancestors did.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo – When the poor hunchback, Quasimodo, is tortured during the Feast of Fools, the only one who steps forward and helps him is a young gypsy named Esmerelda. That one act of kindness fills Quasimodo with love. But his caretaker, a cold, stern priest – Dom Claude Frollo, has plans of his own for Esmerelda, and Quasimodo. What will happen to each of these people under the shadow of Notre Dame?

~Now, I’d tried reading this back about 12 years ago and didn’t get too far. I’d been wanting to give it another shot (as I’d been carting the same copy around all this time for just that reason), when I spotted a read-along on Instagram for it! The group helped me in finishing it as I likely would have given up again. Don’t get me wrong, the story is quite good and heartbreaking and the twists of the plot keep you turning the pages. It was just all the other aspects of the whole unabridged version that I tended to struggle through. In the future, I plan on reading the abridged version. But, I do recommend you read the full book for yourself, at least once. The end was GOOD and I can’t give spoilers away here but I didn’t see all of how Hugo was going to tie it all off. True, some of it was a little dissatisfying to me but, shrug. It didn’t end up ruining it for me. The other characters that Hugo weaves into the story were very interesting – the crazed woman, the beggars, the gypsys, etc. One last thing, this is quite different from the Disney version! Much darker and if you think Frollo is bad in that movie… Just give it a read yourself before giving it to a young teen to read, is my suggestion. (book pictured is my abridged version, 1956)

A Table By The Window by Lawana Blackwell – Carley has finally created a calm, orderly life for herself in San Fransisco. Her childhood was neither of those things, leaving her scarred. But, then she receives word that a grandmother that she barely remembers, left her an inheritance in Talullah, Mississippi. She travels to the small town and is instantly charmed by it as well as the friendliness of its residents. She decides to move there and open up a bistro. She loves her new life, and getting to know her family there. But she gets more than she expected when suddenly, she’s involved in a murder mystery.

~I’m not sure how I’ve never reviewed this book! I read it at least once a year, and that’s saying something since my favorites tend not to be set in modern times (unless of course, we are talking about Dee Henderson books…) I really enjoy how Carley learns and grows through the story. How she learns what it means to be part of a family and to let go of the past. The romance is good and sweet and unexpected. Plus, she opens a Bistro and there’s a murder mystery – as well as she gets migraines occasionally. Need I say more? Give this one a try!

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis – This is a partial biography by Lewis – his main goal of this book wasn’t to give a full description of his life. Rather, it was to share what he viewed as the main points in his life that drew him ever closer to what he’d been searching for all his life, that which he called – Joy. The longing for something so good and intense that it couldn’t be explained with words. However, he does cover quite a bit of his life, sharing stories with a mix of humor and sadness.

~My brother and I had been talking about Lewis and when he heard that I hadn’t read this- he loaned it to me! I’m glad he did as it was an interesting read. His younger years were entertaining to read about and yet sad. If you’re a fan of C.S. Lewis, I recommend reading this as well.

She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard – When Cambridge professor, Horace Holly, and his ward, Leo Vincey, open the package left by Leo’s late father. It contains artifacts suggesting an ancient mystery about the Vincey family. They quickly set off on an adventure to the interior of Africa, but they’ve no idea what is in store. Eventually they meet Ayesha and a primitive race of natives. Ayesha reigns as ‘She’ or ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed’ – and who does have an inexplicable connection to Leo.

~Now this is an interesting story – and quite different from probably any that I’ve read before.I first read this well over 10 years ago, but my copy from at the latest 1905 (thanks to the inscription), didn’t have the last of the story printed in it… And i never found another copy (or didn’t really look) until last year when I did find one! It was much more satisfying, with the ending, even though it is still a fantastical story. It can be pretty open/violent/descriptive in places, I found, so I wouldn’t recommend it for a younger reader. I’m really not sure that I’ll read it again anytime soon, but there’s something special about it to me, plus, just look at the book itself!

The Pillar of Fire by J.H. Ingraham – The Prince of Tyre, Sesostris, goes to Egypt as a state guest of Pharoah. His letters to his beloved mother describe Egypt and the plight of the Hebrews that are enslaved there; all the way to their subsequent release from their labors and set free.

~This was a book that I found at Powell’s – and then it sat on my shelf for probably almost two years, waiting for me to read it! It did take me about four months to finish, a large part of that because I got on a Brandon Sanderson kick. It started out rather slow for me, as I expected the part about the plagues to start quite early in the story. But the descriptions of how the author envisions how Egypt was, were incredible. I did get bogged down by them at times, to be perfectly honest! I’m so glad I didn’t give up on the story though as it was well wort the full read. How they took the Biblical account and gave it such life was very interesting – and I didn’t spot any glaring discrepancies. I highly recommend this book as a way to bring that story to life. My copy is from 1859 but you can buy newer copies on Amazon.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (book 1) – Elantris was once a golden city in Arelon – literally glowing from the magic of the Shaod. It was the epicenter of trade and the demigods used their power to help others. Ten years ago, all that changed – the Elantirans became like lepers, and the city became their prison. In the devastation, a new capital has risen, Kae -in the shadow of the walls of Elantris. From across the waters, Princess Sarene of Teod comes to wed Prince Raoden – eager at last to meet and fall in love with this enigmatic man, but instead finds out that he has died and according to the laws of Kae, their engagement vows are as binding as marriage vows. Hrathen is a high priest of the Fjordell empire, and stepping into Kae hours after Princess Sarene has only one goal – convert the people of Kae in a few months’ time or they will all be killed. As Sarene battles politics in order to save both Teod and Kae from Fjordell control, she finds out the truth of Prince Raoden. He had become an Elantrian – outcast in the decaying city, and while trying to help the wretches there, he just might find the answer to the secret of Elantris.

~ Yes, this book deserves a long review. I LOVED this book. I never would have chosen it myself, but thank goodness for friends that send you books out of your ordinary! This quickly became a favorite of mine. The story line twists and turns so that I never knew how it was going to end and the characters were very well written. Neither Sarene nor Raoden are your typical royalty, and even the villian, Hrathen, has depths that intrigued and kept him from being someone you grew bored of. All in all, an excellent book full of suspense and lacking in anything sensual or ‘sketchy’. Highly recommend.

I did finish the Chronicles of Narnia series, click here for a review I wrote in 2018

Mistborn Era series by Brandon Sanderson

Currently Reading:

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

~Laura

What have you been reading this month?

Health Update- April to August 2020

21 Aug

Oh dear, I haven’t done a health update since March! It always makes writing these out a bit more interesting when such a length of time has passed. So because of that, I’ll just tell you that from March until around the end of June, I was struggling with debilitating fatigue and joint pain.

And here it is now, nearing the end of August and I’m determined to finish this! Part of the problem is that when I have been feeling well enough to be slightly human, I’ve been focusing on other projects instead of SGL. I really do want to change that and today is the first step in doing so.

SO. Yeah, debilitating fatigue has carried through this latest month as well. With some migraines off the charts.

Overall Health: Ups and downs these past months. But, bad fatigue and getting hit with severe migraines.

6/1-felt tired when got up in am. took hr nap, felt a bit better. head didn’t hurt much, felt well enough to go to dog park. fatigue hit early afternoon. migraine at @ a level 4 at 3pm. calf hurting pretty badly, almost at cramping point in evening. Some migraine but not that terrible. -i’ve noticed that i’m not as itchy or flushed. hands still swollen most mornings. since starting the adrenal support, i think i’ve felt a wee bit more energetic w/ a bit less brain fog.

2nd- very strong fatigue. took 2 naps and didn’t do much at all, all day b/c of it.

3rd-IV late am. strong fatigue all day but antsy energy in afternoon – normal after an IV. migraine kicked up in early evening, calmed down though. YI pretty much gone, heat rash chill today, brain fog strong, mood a little improved. allergies not so bad either. increased adrenal support to 2/day. needing ice pack at bedtime

-think i need to decrease the Yin Chao to 1/day, see if upset stomach eases

4th-woke up w/ migraine, stayed all day. only taking 1 yin chao, helped stomach.

~days in between- lots of naps, fatigue, brain fog. some mood struggles too

8th-started molybdenum. low migraine in am but was able to go to costco. bad fatigue hit on way home, lasted pretty much the rest of day. long nap and doing nothing.

10th- felt a little better, little bit more energy even tho the fatigue kept me blurry brained and was still down most of day. dogpark in am, migraine increased in evening.

April 9, 2020

-started progesterone creme on 11th. have still had strong fatigue but have had strange energy a good portion of both days 11th and 12th. calves are really painful, esp left. got heating pad that helped. brain fog strong. -fatigue has not been as overwhelming as it was in june, pain overall has diminished. still very tired & days of pain though. occasionally more sensitive to light.

9th- itchy in evening. calves are in a lot of pain, twitches on right side. some in left hand too.

13th-felt pretty decent today, til @430. got hit w/ overwhelming fatigue. lasted rest of day. migraine kicked up to an 8 minimum. ice pack at bedtime for first time in @ a week.

16th-felt pretty good all day. got quite tired in afternoon but not awful. stomach upset after dinner,not sure why? fatigue has increased since starting olivirex again (on the 17th). upset stomach many evenings.

22nd-strong fatigue, took nap in afternoon. lost vision in left eye at 830, ice pack, pain pills and short nap helped but then migraine came in. went to bed at 10pm. first time in a long while that i’ve been hit with one of these.

eyes still blurry and kinda painful the next few days. tired. achy. weak.

25th- vision loss again in late evening. cried. pain pills, ice pack, slept about 3hrs in evening. next day took 2 long naps, eyes still hurting a lot, achy body, just sluggish all around.

27th-felt better today, no nap. was able to write/read w/out too much trouble but eyes still painful and need glasses more than normal. completely on LH diet as of monday.

august 4th-good energy in am, minimum pain. fatigue hit @ noon, 11/2 hr nap late afternoon. joint pain kicked up early evening, migraine after that. close to cycle.

9th-fatigue and migraines the past 3 daysish. naps. not much other than ice packs, helping with migraines.

May 7, 2020

Migraine: They aren’t responding to normal treatments as readily. And I’m in the midst of one that’s been going on for almost a week now that I just can’t get rid of completely. I did have an appt with a neurologist for the first time in years and now have some new prescription meds to try and get these things under control

Sleep:  I’m getting about 7 hours each night, with the normal 2 or 3 wakings. I do frequently take involuntary naps however. And I’ll add that I never feel rested after sleeping. – this hasn’t changed at all since march.

May 13, 2020

Memory/Brain Fog:  This has improved some, but when the brain fog hits – it hits hard and doesn’t want to lift for quite a while. – again, this hasn’t changed.

Vision: Scintillating scotomas have made themselves known the past month odd. my eyes do hurt fairly frequently now and sometimes just don’t want to focus right away.

June 11, 2020

TMJ:  My jaw has been tight/tense more lately and has been popping every so often. So this has increased although it’s not where it used to be. I’ll add that i’ve not been as diligent about wearing my night guard when I nap like I know that I should be…

Fatigue: This has been my biggest, most constant struggle for months now. My body just drags and aches every day.

Fibromyalgia:  This has eased a bit lately. still present in joints though – especially in elbow and knees.

Weight Loss: Not much, but a little! And i’m excited for that.

Mood: Mostly this has been good…

Digestion:   This has been perhaps, a teeny bit better since going on the Low Histamine Diet at the end of last month? I was hoping that there would be more noticeable improvement in this area though.

July 23, 2020

Here’s a list of symptoms that I don’t have as often lately:

-pain in hands/wrists

-severe calf cramps

-nausea from lights/sounds

-falling asleep standing in lines

-exhaustion from standing in lines

-jaw popping/getting stuck

-nightmares

-excessive itchiness

July 26, 2020

So, I guess that I’m still in the midst of that flare that I mentioned back in March. Which explains why I’ve been becoming more of a hermit, I suppose.

~Laura

The Unread Books Project – All the Other Books I Own

30 Jul

As I shared my list of Classics for you already, this list will be a little different. First off, it’s shorter! But, there will likely be some overlap with some of these books being old enough to be in the ‘classic’s list but as they aren’t either actual old editions that I own or whatnot, they are getting put here. Secondly, a good majority of the novels on this list I have previously read, so they will be re-reads to see if I still like them enough to keep.

Now mixed up in this list are historical fiction, children’s, fantasy and non fiction, but they are listed alphabetically.

by Author, A to D:

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

I Gave God Time by Ann Kiemel Anderson

Satin Slippers by Elizabeth Bernard

A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart

Ginny by Mary Carson

Choosing a Jewish Life by Anita Diamant

by Author, E to H:

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldridge

Twice Shy by Dick Francis

Loco the Bronc by Patsy Gray

Never Miss a Sunset series by Jeanette Gilge

Diamond of the Rockies series by Kristen Heitzmann

An Emerald Ballad Series by B.J. Hoff

by Author, I to M:

The Morning Gift by Eva Ibotson

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibotson

Pursuit of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone

The Queen’s Smuggler by Dave and Netta Jackson

Outlaw Red by Jim Kjelgaard

The Vampire Earth Series by E.E. Knight

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Dave King

Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury

The Revelation by Beverly Lewis

October Song by Beverly Lewis

The Trail to Seven Pines by Louis L’amour

Books by C.S. Lewis:

The World’s Last Night

The Four Loves

Reflections on the Psalms

The Great Divorce

Mere Christianity

The Problem of Pain

The Grand Miracle

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

by Author, N to T:

Books by Janette Oke:

Pordy’s Prickly Problem

The Calling of Emily Evans

Julia’s Last Hope

The Bluebird and the Sparrow

The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah

Oregon Trail by Rick Steber

Portraits of Destiny by Jake and Luke Thoene

Books by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Silmarillion

The Lord of the Rings

The Book of Lost Tales (both 1 and 2)

By Author U to Z

Tying the Knot by Susan May Warren

The Perfect Match by Susan May Warren

The Dream Givers by Jim Walker

Daughters of the Promise Series by Beth Wiseman

How Fiction Works by James Wood

Daughters of the Mayflower Series by Michelle Griep, Kimberley Woodhouse, Kathleen Y’barbo

That’s still quite the list isn’t it? Yes, it’s shorter than my Classics Edition list but yikes! That’s still a lot of books! Well, best get to it, eh?

Again, I don’t have an end goal/date in mind of when to finish this list, it’s just a fun thing to help encourage me to read all of what’s on my shelves.

~Laura

The Unread Books Project Classics Edition

14 Jul

A few weeks ago I ran across something called the – you probably guessed already — The Unread Books Project. I read about it on The Unread Shelf and was instantly inspired to do it as well!

Because of the size of my library, I decided to make separate lists. This one, as you’ve already deduced, is the Classics.

(Now, picture me with a pad of paper and pen going around my house where I’ve been able to stack a few (or more) books in odd places, writing title and author down) I do hope to add the published date of these books when I come back through and mark that I’ve read them. (that’s a reminder for future Laura)

by Author, A to D:

A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich (read Aug 2020)

Reluctant Pioneer by Mary Vowell Adams

Books by Jane Austen:

Pride and Prejudice

Mansfield Park

Sense and Sensibility

Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

The Fighting Preacher by Rev. John H. Aughey

Lives of Girls Who Became Famous by Sarah Knowles Bolton

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmoore (read May 2017)

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

The Unannointed by Laurene Chinn

Eliza by Patricia Campbell

Streams in the Desert by Lettie Cowman

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Robe by Lloyd D. Douglas

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas

The Princess Aline by Richard Harding Davis

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dufoe

by Author, E to H:

An Important Family by Dorothy Eden

The Great Brain Series by John D. Fitzgerald

Lord Hornblower by C.S. Forester (printed in 1946)

Man O’ War by Walter Farley

Anne Frank : Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

Man to Man by Jackson Gregory

A Last Lamp Burning by Gywn Griffin

A Falcon for a Queen by Catherine Gaskin (read Jan 2019)

Our Friend the Charlatan by George Gissing

Princess Bride by William Goldman

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Grimm Brothers

She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard ( read in June 2020)

Passionate Pilgrim : The Life of Vincent Van Gogh by Lawrence and Elisabeth Hanson

Cloud Jewel by Grace Livingston Hill

Betty Grable and the House of Cobwebs by Kathryn Heisenfelt

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (read in June 2020)

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

Best Known Works of Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Grandison Mather by Henry Harland

by Author, I to M:

Pillar of Fire by J.H. Ingraham (currently reading may 2020)

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Rachel by Agnes Scott Kent

The Long Chance by Peter B. Kyne (printed in 1914)

White Fang by Jack London

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Silver Nutmeg by Norah Lofts

An Iceland Fisherman by Pierre Loti (printed in 1902)

Thankful’s Inheritance by Joseph C. Lincoln

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Road Back to Paris by A.J. Liebling

The Second Chance by Nellie L. McClung

Lalla Rookh by Thomas Moore

Beverly of Graustark by George Barr McCutcheon

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

by Author, N to R:

The Pit by Frank Norris

The Runaway by Kathleen Norris

Ralph Marlow by James Bell Naylor

The Merchant of Prato by Iris Origo

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy

Moonraker’s Bride by Peter O’donnell

The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

Lavender and Old Lace by Myrtle Reed

by Author, S to W:

Books by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Treasure Island

Kidnapped

The Black Arrow

The Burnished Blade by Lawrence Schooner (printed in 1948)

Saint Joan by Bernard Shaw

Paris Underground by Etta Shiber (printed in 1943)

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Who Could Ask for Anything More? by Kay Swift (printed in 1943)

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Rudin by Ivan Turgenev

Alice of Old Vincennes by Maurice Thompson

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Gilded Age by Mark Twain

The Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien

Candide by Voltaire

Looking for a Bluebird by Joseph Wechsberg (printed in 1944)

Common School Literature by Westlake

A New England Nun and Other Stories by M.E. Wilkins

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The Nine Brides and Granny Hite by Neil Compton Wilson

The Blazed Trail by Stewart Edward White

You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe

Bumper the White Rabbit in the Woods (Twilight Animals #1) by George Ethelbert Walsh

Bobby Gray Squirrel’s Adventures (Twilight Animals #6) by George Ethelbert Walsh

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Abigail Adams by Evelyn Witter

Best Known Works of Oscar Wilde

A History of the Jews in the U.S.

And that’s it! I hope to have my Unread list of ‘regular’ books up soon as well! Have you ever made it a point to read through your library? Did you make it all the way through?

I don’t have an end goal for this – I figure it’ll take me quite a while to read ALL of these – a few years perhaps?

~Laura

Little Blossoms for Jesus

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

A Musing Maverick

"What good amid these, O me, O life? - Answer: That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." - Walt Whitman

Elaine Howlin

Slow Living & Reading

See Jayne Run

Navigating with Chronic Illness in a Self Absorbed World