Reading Slumps and Other Updates

Although I have been reading a little bit, I’ve been in one of the worst reading slumps in the last few months. My husband and I are expecting a little one and with the changes life throws your way including an addition to the family, reading ends up being a side goal.  So far I have picked up more books than I can count only to put them back on the shelves. Last year, audible was one of the only things that got me through, but this year, audiobooks have been just as difficult to start as regular books!

What are some of the books you’ve tried to pick up? well, the answer is, a bunch of the ones that I’d been really looking forward to!

  • An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
  • Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maasanalysis blackboard board bubble
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
  • The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
  • Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

The list goes on and on…so why can I not get into reading right now?

Honestly, I’ve been sick. Pregnancy is something that varies for many women. Some have no issues, some have tons of medical concerns, but many are somewhere in the middle. So for me, so far, I’m somewhere in the middle. Sleep has been far more important than reading despite the desire to read. I’ve spent far more time on YouTube and googling “new Mom” stuff. I spent so much time in fact that I haven’t even looked at children’s book ideas!

So, despite my 2020 goals, I haven’t made much of a dent in the TBR as of yet. It will most definitely be a “Year of Discovery” but perhaps not solely in the way I expected.

My hope right now is to get through at least one book a month or every other month. I haven’t had much success as of yet, but, since I’m beginning to feel a little better. So — fingers crossed — I can meet this goal!

My questions for you guys are these:

  • What are your favorite activities to get you out of a reading slump?
  • Do you have suggestions for children’s’ books for me? If so are they your favorites from childhood or newly discovered favorites?
  • What book do you think will get me out of this slump, if any? I’d love some suggestions.

As always guys, I hope you have a fantastic day!

~mk

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Hey guys, I hope you are enjoying a wonderful week. I am trying to catch up on my reading but it’s definitely been hard!

So for me, this includes reading as many books as I can. I’m in the middle of several books but I just finished first in a trilogy that I have owned for a few years. Of course, I’m talking about Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. And by the time I am editing this post, it’s been several months since I finished the book. So much has been going on in my personal life recently that sadly reading has truly fallen on the back burner. But despite this, I still want to share what I read when I can. So let’s just go into it!

I didn’t know anything about this series other than what it said on the back of the book. which wasn’t even a full summary, it was the recommendations of other authors. So when I pulled it off the shelf, I didn’t know what to expect and honestly, I think you should go into it that way if you haven’t read it. The characters are unique and different from others that I’ve read. The situation the main character starts in is so mysterious, I hardly knew what to expect. Since this book has been out for a long time, I was honestly surprised I hadn’t seen or read any spoilers about it. So much of it was different than anything I’d ever read before and yet once you finish the book it felt like a familiar friend. I was truly blown away.

Suffice it to say that this book has me speechless. It’s funny, unique, fantastical, and just leaves you craving more. 5 out of 5 stars.

There’s something refreshing about the locations in the story, the writing style, the characters, and just the overall story in this novel. Everything is different from any other novel I’ve ever read. (Maybe that means I haven’t read enough in my life, I don’t know…I would agree with that.) And yet…there are similarities. It’s YA, there, of course, are similarities to other stories. There are tropes and thematic elements that we have seen before in other novels or on television. Still, it’s done in a way I haven’t seen before.

When I finish the trilogy because I’m sure I will be working through it soon, I hope to prepare an overall review of the series, with spoilers, for those who might want them just to share my thoughts with the books and the characters.

Again, I really enjoyed this novel and I hope to finish the next two in the trilogy very soon so I can share my thoughts in a spoiler review at that time.

Until then, happy reading!

~mk

Beauty and The Beast Book Tag

Hello, lovelies! I hope you are having a fantastic day. So was looking at one of my new favorites bloggers, Kirsty, over at her blog The Bibliophile Girland I decided to do a book tag she did called The Beauty and The Beast Book Tag. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies of all time!

I will link Kristy’s blog and the creator of the tag’s blog right here:

The Bibliophile Girl and here is the direct link to her version of this tag here.

The creator of this tag is Gretchen over at Chicnerdreads so definitely check out her blog as well!

* * *

So let’s do this thing!

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Question #1.

‘Tale as Old as Time’ – A popular theme, trope or setting you will never get bored of reading.

I honestly love dystopian novels and fantasy novels. I specifically love fantasy novels about the fae. I always have. I can read The Hungar Games trilogy over and over without growing tired of it, and the same is true with either of  Sarah J. Maas’s book series. I also love the “Beauty and the Beast” retellings too, of course!!

~*~

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Question #2.

Belle – A book you bought for its beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too.

I recently bought a copy of Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and it’s stunning. I loved the film and I’d been waiting for it to come out as a novel for years! It was definitely worth the wait. If you haven’t seen the film or read the novelization I highly recommend it.

~*~

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Question #3.

Beast – A book you didn’t expect much from but pleasantly surprised you.

So for this one, I’m going to choose a novel I had to read for the course I took this past semester. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It’s a 19th century novel about a family who moves from the country to a highly industrialized town in Britain. Gaskell definitely has her own writing style but the story is written with a nod to Jane Austen. It very much has a Pride and Prejudice feel to it but in a completely different style. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did!

~*~

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Question #4.

Gaston – A book everyone loves but you don’t.

Okay, I don’t know what the opinion of the interwebs is, but when it comes to people I know personally, I am the oddball with this book. What’s the book I’m talking about? Probably one of the first real YA books out there: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I had to read this in school and I hated it. I was bored the entire time. I don’t even remember what the story is about anymore. I’ve considered giving it a second chance now that it’s been ages since I read the book. I just don’t know if I can do it. (P.S. Sorry, if you love this one, no offense.)

~*~

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Question #5.

Lefou – A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counterpart.

I’m going to have to say Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series. She always brings me joy when I am reading the books and she comes into the story. She’s so kind and smart, and honestly forgiving too. She ignores so much that people do to pick on her. She’s just one of my absolute favorite characters!

~*~

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Question #6.

Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiér, and Cogsworth – A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable.

Okay, this will totally sound cheesy to some of you but I’m going to go straight to it. My Bible has helped me get through more tough times than any other book possible. I believe it is God’s word and therefore I can learn and grow through it. For those of you who have read it and believe in it as well, you understand what I mean. As far as any other book that I learned from, as a kid, reading Nancy Drew or Anne of Green Gables and learning about life through the different dynamics of the characters, those things helped me grow as a person. But no other book has helped me through the tough times the way reading my Bible has.

~*~

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Question #7.

‘Something There’ – A book or a series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end.

Okay, as crazy as this will sound, the first book of The Hungar Games trilogy was like this for me. I had a really hard time getting into it. I think maybe it was because I was reading it on my e-reader instead of reading a physical copy of the book. I prefer physical books to digital ones, despite having TONS of them. So maybe that’s why it took me so much longer to read despite enjoying it once it was over.

~*~

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Question #8.

‘Be Our Guest’ – A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner.

Oh gosh, just one? Wow…um, I guess I’d have to say, Nancy Drew. She was one of the first fictional characters to get me into reading as a kid, so if she came over for dinner, I could ask about her latest mystery!

~*~

That’s all I have guys! Feel free to do the tag and let me know if you do so that I can check out your answers!! Have a wonderful week!

~mk

Favorite Characters of 2019

So now that 2019 has come and gone I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite characters that I met or revisited in 2019. For this post, I came up with my top five favorites of the year and then I threw in some honorable mentions at the end. Just keep in mind these are all from books I read this past year so they have nothing to do with my overall favorites list (which may or may not need to be updated at some point since I’m not sure I’ve ever shared that with you guys) so take a look and let me know if any of these are some of your favorites from this past year:

  • Tatiana Metanova from The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons:

    Tatiana is one of the bravest characters I’ve ever read about. She cares for her family and others before herself. Her story in The Bronze Horseman is more than just a romance, it is a frightening history of the suffering that real people like Tatiana went through in the Leningrad of World War II. It also provides a picture of a life without privacy. The idea of everyone knowing everything about you without even so much as having a room to yourself or the freedoms that many people sometimes overlook is depicted very strongly in this novel. Tatiana, however, moves on and keeps fighting despite the hardships and fear that surrounds her life. If you haven’t read this book I would definitely say check it out but keep in mind that this is not a book for young children and has some very adult themes.

  • Anne Elliot from Jane Austen’s Persuasion:

    Anne Elliot is another character who surprised me. I had never thought I would find a character I enjoyed quite as much as Lizzie Bennet. Anne, however, is right up there with her! She is such a gentle and surprisingly kind character who despite what seemed like a downhill romance ended up behaving like a lady and ultimately regaining the affections of the man she loves because of her good character.

  • Alyssa Gardner from Splintered by A.G. Howard:

    Alyssa is a very different “Alice” character because technically, she’s not the “Alice” she sees and hears things that change her world. She gets hurt, she faces her fears to attempt to save her mother, even knowing that things might not turn out exactly how she wants them to. She’s brave and stubborn, but she’s not the strongest character ever or the typical YA heroine. She likes things you don’t see other YA heroines’ enjoy. She messes up and does bad things. I enjoyed her form of Alice a lot.

  • Donatella (Tella) Dragna from the Caraval trilogy by Stephanie Garber:

    When I read Caraval, I did not care for Tella much. I adored Scarlett (I still do) but Tella is not who I thought she was. She loves and cares for her sister far more than Scarlett knows and Tella will do anything for her. She’s definitely stubborn, but she’s not a fool and she tries very hard to “play the game” better than everyone else. If you haven’t given Tella’s story a try, pick up Legendary and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Last but NOT LEAST: Ronan Lynch from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater:

    There are few words to describe Ronan: tough, magical, dreamer, fighter, comic relief. When I read The Raven Boys, Ronan was my least favorite of the boys. By the time I finished the Raven King, I adored him. Ronan puts up this tough facade but really he is a heart filled character. I feel like he is the “tin man” of the Raven Boys. I love his relationship with Blue! I honestly wish I could see more of that. They have a wonderful brother/sister relationship it always brings a smile to my face.

Honorable mentions:

~Lyra from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. ~

~Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.~

Who are some of your favorite characters from last year’s books? let me know in the comments!

~mk

Series Review: The Raven Cycle

Most book series that I complete (which seems to be a precious few these days) leave me feeling pretty good. I feel accomplished and happy. I’ll admit sometimes I am a little sad when it’s over, but overall there aren’t too many series that leave me feeling like there should be, could be, or I’m dying for more.

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This is one of those series….

To visit Maggie Stiefvater’s website click here!

The Raven Cycle is one of the absolute best series I’ve read in a long time. I’m really embarrassed that it took me so long to get into it, especially since Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favorite authors but I adored this series. Also, side note, Will Patton does an amazing job with the audiobooks if you are someone who enjoys those. I sometimes pick a series and listen to the book as I read along with it, and this was a great one to read along with.

I’m not going to sum up The Raven Cycle other than to say this: it’s the story of a girl, four boys, and the hunt for a king and the discovery of an adventure unlike any other. It’s perfect for the fall/winter time of year but it’s also perfect for any time of year. Blue, Gansey, Adam, Noah, and Ronan are amazing characters with such interesting life experiences, some good, and some bad it’s a truly magical story. I recommend you go into the story not knowing much more than what I told you (or what’s on the summary itself) because it adds a bit more mystery to the story.

Overall this series gets a five out of five stars from me and I hope you check it out!

By the time this goes up I will hopefully be finishing up Call Down the Hawk which is the first in another trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater that is based in the same universe as the Raven Cycle. I am incredibly excited to be reading it (I’ve already started it the book and I really don’t want to put it down.) and I’m hoping to be able to review that when I’m done with it.

~mk

2020 Year of Discovery

2020 is having perfect vision, seeing clearly, and having perfect hindsight. Okay, that was cheesy, but looking back on 2019 I am really hoping to have better focus this year. We spend a lot of time as a culture looking back on our past or forward on our future. When we look at the now, oftentimes it’s without any kind of wisdom or clarity. We focus on what feels good in the moment instead of what will actually bring us true joy. So for 2020, my plan is to discover novels that truly captivate my attention and discover or rediscovering hobbies that I have enjoyed in the past.

A few years ago, Mollie Reads hosted an event called the “DoAThon”. This event motivated me a lot and helped push me to do more in my house and just adjust my focus in general. My hope for this year is to be more intentional. I want treat the entire year with a “DoAThon” type attitude but with the twist of discovering the joy in creativity and self-care.

What do you plan to do?

Well, first off…TBR pile is a mile long. My hope is to read more books I truly enjoy. My husband and I are trying to declutter our lives a bit more and books are not something I plan to just get rid of unless they are ones know I don’t like. I’m sure many of you have seen or read Marie Kondo’s book or seen her show on Netflix. I read her book a while back and it was truly helpful to me. I’m not sure I agree with her book limit, but the point is, I want to try and get that TBR pile down and keep what I truly love and “unhaul” it if I don’t like it. There is always someone who will enjoy them more than I do.

Second, there are so many things I want to do, that I never make time for. Painting, reading, journaling, studying the Bible, playing with the dogs more often, puzzles, coffee with friends, photography…I could go on and on. I want to make more time for the little fun things in life. Those things are important and often get forgotten in the mix of all the business of life.

My question for you guys is this. Are you being intentional next year? Are you taking care of yourself and giving your mind the rest it needs or the push it needs to discover new things? What things do you want to discover? What new books are you getting rid of? What are your favorites that you know you will read again and again? Are you learning anything new for yourself? Are you seeking spiritual growth? Are you running a 5k? Are you planning on spending every Saturday with your family and friends? Are you planting a garden? Are you investing your time in something good for you?

Let me know what your discovery plans are!

Food for thought.
~mk

 

2020 Is Here!

Hello, lovelies! Happy New Year! 2020 Is finally here and with it, there are so many new books to read and new adventures to be had. I am incredibly excited!

So with the New Year looming before us, I am hoping to read a bunch of new books that I

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didn’t get to last year. I’m also hoping to accomplish several goals that I honestly don’t know that I would have had the time to complete last year.

  1. I want to set my reading goal back up to 30 books. I’m not sure if that will be realistic or not, but we will see.
  2. Decluttering — I desperately need to do this in my house. I’ve already done some of it but I need to do it again, badly.
  3. Schedule in my reading time. I feel like so much happens with life that often I don’t have time to read as often as I would like to. So, that said, I think I’m going to literally add it to my schedule. Block out a day where I don’t have to do as much so that I can make time for reading…or any other forms of fun that I need to allow time for. (Yes, this includes naps.)
  4. Focus on the fun! So much has happened in the last few years that I think I’ve allowed way too much busyness in. Time to fix that!
  5. Get in shape. I know round is a shape, but for me, I have never been this out of shape. I used to be able to walk farther and more often without feeling completely winded. So that said, my plan is to try and be a little more conscious of my health and fitness this year. I started working towards this goal as soon as I began to really feel the need for it. I have been making a conscious effort to work out 3 times a week for an hour or so and I am already feeling the impact it has had on my life. So I am planning to stick with this as much as possible.

So what are your biggest goals for 2020? These are just some of mine. I may have more that come about as the first few months go by. Let me know your thoughts!

Enjoy the new year!

~mk

2019 Christmas Reading Recommendations

Happy Christmas everyone! I hope your holiday season is going well. I have been looking for Holiday reading recommendations to share and new holiday reads for myself as well. Although I have read a few of these, several are new recommendations to me too from my amazing sister! So without further ado, Let’s look at the books!!

  1. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray. This is the second book in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy and I do recommend reading the first one first, this second book takes place during the Christmas season!
  2. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. This is a cute contemporary Christmas romance story and I very much enjoyed it. Dash and Lily are very cute and have an enjoyable adventure together. I would definitely recommend checking it out for a quick Christmas read!
  3. Hunted by Megan Spooner. This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling but when I initially read the novel, it gave me such winter vibes, I thought it would be a fun one to read around the Christmas season. I do plan on doing a Winter Reads list, so maybe it’s more appropriate to list there, but sometimes I enjoy a good Beauty and the Beast novel around Christmas.

Christmas Recommendations I haven’t read yet:

So as I said, some of these are new discoveries for myself this year. Although I cannot give an opinion on whether or not these books are any good myself. I will state if they were recommended to me or if they are ones I am just hoping to check out. You may even find that they were some of the same ones listed on my December TBR post:

  1. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie. This is a recommendation from my wonderful sister who loves Agatha Christie’s novels. I can’t give an opinion on it yet myself but I know she loves it and has excellent taste in classics.
  2. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie. Another recommendation from my lovely sister.
  3. What Light by Jay Asher. I have heard mixed things about this one. I hope it ends up being one that I enjoy but I am not sure. We will see.
  4. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins. I have heard some great things about this book and the stories it holds. Hopefully, I enjoy it when I get to it.

So hopefully I have some good recommendations for you here and for me as well. If and when I get a chance to check these out (the ones on my TBR for this year at least) I will hopefully get a chance to review them and let you know what my thoughts are.

If you have read any of these and found that you liked them or didn’t, let me know! I’d love to get your thoughts and opinions on these novels!

Merry Christmas everyone!!
~mk

 

 

Book Review: Turtles All The Way Down

Hello, again lovelies! I hope you are having a wonderful week!

I believe I said in the past that I would be reviewing Turtles All The Way Down. I read it quite some time ago, back in 2018 if I remember correctly, but I didn’t remember doing a review on it. It was one of my favorite reads of the year, so I thought now would be a great time to go back and do that. So I know this is a long time coming but here we go!

This is my first John Green novel. I have heard so many mixed things about his works. Some people absolutely love them and others don’t. I have two of his other novels, Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars. I haven’t read either of them. I think it’s probably crazy that I haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars, but I’m hoping to remedy that soon. Anyway…on to the review!

John Green has an amazing writing style. I’m not sure really how to describe it but it seems to me, at least with this book, that you would know if you were reading one of his novels. I follow John Green youtube channel and it seems that he just has a wonderful way with words in general. The writing was stunning the story was stunning, and it was just a very needed book in my opinion. Aza deals with such feelings and thoughts running through her mind that I just can’t fathom experiencing that on a daily basis. She’s one of those characters that you can’t forget. I don’t want to give away much of the story because I feel this is one of those stories you kind of want to go into without any expectations. I will say be warned that there are some major mental health themes in this story, so if you do decide to read it, you may want to do some research if you are sensitive to that type of thing in any way. I believe this is an “Own Voices” novel as well, meaning that some of these issues Mr. Green may deal with himself. I am not completely positive on that but I have heard that from other people who I know have read and enjoyed the novel.

I gave Turtles All The Way Down 5 out of 5 stars. It’s beautifully written and it’s a stunning novel overall. I highly recommend it!

That’s all I have for you guys. Have a wonderful week!

~mk

 

Series Review: The Cruel Prince & The Wicked King

Hello, lovelies! I hope you are having a fantastic day!

I promised I would review The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, so in honor of Holly Black’s upcoming release of Queen of Nothing, I thought I’d do a mashup review of the first two books!

   

Also, this will be a spoiler-free review!

I should probably state off the bat that despite owning several of Holly Black’s novels, I had never read any of them. I know that’s crazy! I think so too. Sometimes I think I drive my husband crazy with the number of unread books I have…and then I go buy more.

First of all, If you haven’t read the series, it’s about a girl named Jude and her sisters who are stolen away as children to live in the land of faerie after seeing their parents murdered. Without giving away too much, Jude does not like Faerie. As with many faerie stories, the faeries are tricksters and they love games. Jude is trying to fit in as a mortal, knowing that she lives in a very dangerous place. It’s especially difficult for her because of her mistrust and dislike for the faerie prince. Cardan is cruel and seems to have a special dislike for Jude. When the game of faerie politics changes, Jude gets wrapped up in the game, with Cardan, in ways she might never have imagined playing.

I gave The Cruel Prince 5 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed the story, the writing style, the characters and the world that Holly Black created. Jude was refreshing, she didn’t have powers, she was so utterly human and taking on the world and its politics and training herself to do the things she does but in such a human way was amazing to read.

The Wicked King I gave 4 out of 5 stars only because I wanted just a little bit more from the story than I got. Cardan and Jude grow so much as characters in this story it was amazing to read.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I cannot wait for The Queen of Nothing to be released!! If you haven’t read this series I highly recommend it. In the meantime, I’m going to look into some of Holly Black’s other novels!

Enjoy lovelies!

~mk