What were the ingredients?

After a long, long love affair with vampires (everything from “Interview with” to “Buffy” to countless others and yes, even “Twilight,” which I didn’t hate), I’m starting to weary of the saturated genre. I’m sure I’ll come back to it, but after my latest foray with a library book, I’m done for a bit.

But let’s talk about my current crush – Regency England. Hailing back to “Emma,” and “Pride & Prejudice” I love the sweet yet gossipy nature. The relative innocence that can be shared with today’s youth.

Not forgetting my roots, though, a twice recommended book, “Shades of Milk and Honey” hits both on the magic of vampires and the innocence of Austen.  The novel doesn’t shy from it’s other worldliness, bringing you in to its world with the very first page. No whirling sparkles, no giant spells, simply a gentle art practiced mostly by women, and, of course, the odd artist.

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Like many novels of the time, it follows the upper middle class, particularly in the country, without touching on the rougher, tougher life. But it makes for a sweet novel with an easy-going protaganist faced with travails that wouldn’t have been out of place for a non-magical version of the book.

My only complaints are the unnecessary use of words like “shew” instead of “show,” which thrust me from the novel each time; and the rather fast wrap up. Still, I’m left curious about the next in the series.

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Mmm…chocolate

One of my all time favorite authors, Gail Carriger (g like gardenia not giraffe) also happens to be a reader with similar tastes to mine. And she makes recommendations. A long while ago, she suggested “Sorcery and Cecelia.” So when it was available as the trilogy for a low price on Amazon, I jumped at it.

And then I let it sit.

For a long time. Practically a year or more? That’s a lot considering I always seem to have something on the go for my kindle as well as a hard cover from the library.

Sorcery & Cecelia: Or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (The Cecelia and Kate Novels Book 1) by [Wrede, Patricia C., Stevermer, Caroline]

And then I started it. And it was AMAZING. I loved it. It just hit the spot with the Regency (19th Century) storyline set in an alternate timeline a la “Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell,” which I totally couldn’t get in to, but loved the miniseries of (though maybe not so much for the younger set).

Sorcery & Cecelia, though, was so sweet. And the little mystery was just engaging enough to feel like I wouldn’t want to put it down, but I also didn’t feel stressed or that it was so overly complicated that I needed to take notes, chapter by chapter.

If you’re like certain nieces, this won’t appeal, as it is written as letters back and forth from Cecelia to her cousin. But the girls are sweet, smarter than they appear, and the men are accepting of their intelligence.

5 stars to the first book!

(I read the second book and disliked it so that I started skimming and probably won’t bother with the 3rd).

Bawk bawk

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Thanks to some downtime due to events beyond my control (ahem, looking at you Thomas Wildfire) I was able to sit and read. And read and read and read. I came across Kelly Jones by reading another of her works, that one of us will have to write about soon. But when I saw this book, “Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer,” I knew I had to give it a try. It wasn’t until after I checked it out that I learned not only was it a kids’ book, but Vera and her brothers had already read it!

And their take was completely different than mine.

First off, I’ll admit that I was a little emotionally stressed when reading it. And I own chickens (of the usual variety, an Easter Egger and two Gold Sex Links). But I loved this book!

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The story is told through a series of letters that the little girl, Sophia, writes, both to the purveyor of Unusual Chickens and to her deceased Abuela (grandmother) and uncle (which is why she’s living on a farm and learning about chickens). The story of Sophia moving from LA to a farm and becoming interested in chickens is engaging but fraught with the boredom and sudden excitement that comes with the slower way of life.

Her adventures are engaging, her narrative sweet but plaintive as she sorts out her new life. I highly recommend this tale that deals heavily with change and touches briefly on race.

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Grim

I seem to be on a bit of a Lady Grim Reaper kick of late. It started off with a very sweet little novella by K.N. Parker called “The Death of Death.” I got it free on Amazon and it was so sweet that I’m definitely going to be seeking out other books by the author, in fact I think I’ll add that blog to my Feedly feed. An adorable tale of finding out who you are and what your purpose is.

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Then, on the way out of the library I came across something called “Second Grave on the Left” with a pretty bad ass looking woman. IMG_20170115_185059.jpgThis one was less sweet with some risque scenes, in the Harlequin Romance vein but without the fadeout (so I’d consider limiting this to the older side of “young” but there wasn’t any actual humpty hump dance). Author Darynda Jones writes a smart mouthed, wicked smart, smooth talking Grim Reaper Private Investigator who keeps getting herself in to trouble. I didn’t realize this was the second in a series, but was eager to pick up the third book…until I read on Goodreads that there are ELVEN books in the series, not counting the half books to bump the count. Uh, the story was pretty fun as a stand-alone. As a trio it would have satisfied that itch for more that comes from a good book. But 11? No, no thank you. I don’t need to know eleven books worth of some random shenanigans.

Not Interested

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Ha, this photo makes my hand look so BIG and the book look itty bitty! Since it is the only one I took I am going with it.

What makes me stop reading a story? Illuminate, by Aimee Agresti, is an example of a book that I just could not get behind. I always feel extremely guilty when I stop reading a book once I have started and will keep it for weeks to see if I want to finish it or not. Or, sometimes I do the unthinkable and skip right to the end to see if I am going to like what happens or not. That is to be used only in extreme cases.

Not Illuminate, back to the library it went. Haven is the heroine of the story and she is described as meh. Not kidding, but somehow she lands a prestigious internship at a luxurious hotel that is opening in Chicago. It was so far fetched. First, why would high school students be allowed to miss school to work at an internship that requires them to live away from home. Second, almost immediately they are invited into a bar scene.

The book bothered me and at the same time bored me.

Not your average apocalyptic story…

It turns out I am a total sucker for a good apocalyptic story…

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Strong female lead – check, a little bit of romance – check, and an adventure rescue story – check! So here is the odd thing, it took me forever to finish this book. I started it 5 months ago and made 70ish pages in and then just got stuck. It was a tad scary for this reader in the fact that I could picture this as a true story. Picked it up again two weeks ago and BOOM! Loved it!

Have you ever done that? Thought a book was too much or not enough, picked it up for a second time, and realized it was just your speed. Cassie is our heroine and the trials she faces are extreme. Humans are being exterminated by aliens (or the others) and she is on a search to find her brother. I will be reading the second book in the series as soon as possible.

My goal for 2017 is to look through all of the unread books that I own and decide to either keep and read or donate. I own so many books, too many. I thought that wasn’t possible, but with 7 bookcases filled in our house the need to downsize is becoming urgent. Otherwise, where will I put all of the new books that I buy?

Christmas Traditions

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Traditions are a bit tricky in that you have to decide what you want to do and then make it happen every single year. Follow through is not always my strong suite. This is why a tradition at a friend’s house is nearly perfect. Every year our good friends ask family and friends over for three consecutive nights to read Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. It is one of my favorite times of the holiday season and I value the invitation.

The evening starts at 6:30 where a feast of appetizers and finger foods is assembled on the table. Eating and chatting are on the agenda for a good hour plus. Have you ever had Glog? It is a yummy red wine + spices + raisins + sliced almonds concoction. It is heaven and smells like Christmas to me.

Then, everyone sits in a circle and takes turns reading, you can read as much or as little as you want. All of the kids want their turn and then usually disappear to another room to cause a ruckus and celebrate in their own way. This was the first year that Gus (the 5-year-old) wanted a turn reading. Me, I just want to make it through my turn without mispronouncing too many words. That is a feat in itself.

2016 was our fourth year attending and the cast of invitees attending is familiar to us. There is such comfort in this tradition and such joy. A Christmas Carol, turns out it is a pretty good read.