Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction · Young Adult

Twelve Days of Christmas Book Tag

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In an attempt to try to get more into the Christmas spirit, I’m doing the Twelve Days of Christmas Book Tag. About halfway through I realized that this took entirely too long and that I’m probably insane for finishing it. So, um, enjoy!?

ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE. – The partridge stood alone in the pear tree. What is your favorite stand alone? 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I love the concept of the story and the main character, Bod. It’s so interesting to read about Bod’s life among the inhabitants of the graveyard and see how he learns so much about life through the dead. I love the variety of characters in the book, as well. Gaiman does an amazing job incorporating modern humans, ghosts from different historical periods, ghouls, and other paranormal beings together without it being too over the top.

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ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: TWO TURTLE DOVES. – Love is in the air! Who is your one true pairing?

Romeo & Juliet. I don’t care how cliche and cheesy the whole premise is. The hopeless romantic side of me adores the passion and dedication that Romeo & Juliet had for each other. (You can go ahead and roll your eyes now :-P)

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ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: THREE FRENCH HENS. – In the spirit of threes, what is the best trilogy you have read?

The Wendy Darling series by Colleen Oakes. I wouldn’t call it the best trilogy ever, but it’s definitely one of my favorites.

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ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: FOUR CALLING BIRDS. – Since series usually consist of four or more books, what is your favorite series?

The Harry Potter series! You can read all about how much I love the series in multiple posts on my blog. (Like here and here)

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ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: FIVE GOLDEN RINGS. – One ring to rule them all! Who is your Favorite Villain/Antagonist?

Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones. She’s so horrible that it’s fascinating.

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ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: SIX GEESE A LAYING. – Creation is a beautiful thing. What is your favorite world/world-building?

Any one where castles and magic exist.

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ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: SEVEN SWANS A SWIMMING. – Who needs seven swans when all it takes is one good animal sidekick? Who’s your favorite animal sidekick?

The 3 witches familiars in the Elsewhere series. It’s a middle grade series, but it’s adorable and the cats add so much character and humor to the story. (One of them is a little kooky and likes to pretend he’s random historical/fictional characters. It’s fantastic.)

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ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: EIGHT MAIDS A MILKING. – Milk is so 18th century. Which book or series takes beverages/food to a whole new level?

I love the food scenes in the Harry Potter series. The descriptions of the feasts laid out on the long tables in the Great Hall always made my mouth water. (The irony is that I’m not particularly fond of British food.)

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ON THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: NINE LADIES DANCING. – Dancing is just one skill of a Lady! Who is your favorite kickass female lead?

Jane from Jane Eyre. She wasn’t the physically strong and rebel type of female, not compared to today’s standards, anyway. She definitely had feminist characteristics that were not common of women during her time. She stood up for herself when she needed to and she knew how to stay true to what she believed in. She endured many a hardship during her life, yet she didn’t let that slow her down. She didn’t let love or emotions cloud her judgement either. She was pretty badass.

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ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: TEN LORDS A LEAPING. – How about your favorite leading lad?

It’s a toss up between Jamie from Outlander and Rhysand from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

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ON THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: ELEVEN PIPES PIPING. – What is your favorite book or bookish thing with musical influence? (It can be about music, reference music a lot etc.)

This is a tough one. I’m actually drawing a blank. Does the Hobbit count with all the Hobbits singing?

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ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: 12 DRUMMERS DRUMMING. – Drum roll please…what is your favorite read of this year?

This question is so hard! I’ll probably have to go with A Court of Mist and Fury.

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If you made it this far in the post I congratulate you. Consider yourself tagged! 

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Poison by Sarah Pinborough

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My Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

I’m going to keep this review short and sweet: This book sucked major monkey butt.

I was under the impression that this was a more twisted telling of the original Snow White story. If you call mostly the same story with some random sex scenes and profanity thrown into it, then sure, I guess that description applies.

The story was the same as the original Snow White. There was a twist at the end that was a tad unexpected, but by the time I even reached that point I wanted to literally set the book on fire. The wicked stepmother was a evil, as expected. Snow White was a little more interesting, as she was a more rough-and-tumble, outdoorsy type of princess. What drove me nuts though was that Pinborough was telling the story and then randomly felt the need to make a scene lustful or erotic. Most of the time it was oddly placed and just seemed ridiculous.

For example (Don’t read if you don’t want spoilers): After fucking the wicked Queen, whom he had only met 5 mins earlier, the huntsman goes off to search for Snow White in the woods. After he finds her he decides to spare her life. Rather than being grateful for his decision or being outraged that her stepmother tried to have her killed, Snow White decides that she wants the huntsman to fuck her the same way he fucked her stepmother.

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Then there was the addition of a few random fairy tale characters who didn’t belong in the story and were glaringly out of place.

Overall, this was a giant NOPE.

Uncategorized

Christmas Traditions

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I haven’t been into Christmas the last couple of years. I used to be, many moons ago. There was a time when I loved Christmas. As I’ve gotten older and things have gotten more difficult in my personal life, however, it’s gotten more challenging to be excited about the holidays.

Once my ex and I got separated all of the holiday traditions that I used to look forward to went away. We used to decorate the tree…or, I mostly decorated it, but he and the cats liked to help. I really enjoyed decorating the tree. I even hand-made some ornaments for it. Now I don’t even have a tree or any Christmas decorations. I let him keep all that stuff. I don’t even have any of the ornaments that I made.

Even more exciting than the tree was the holiday food! I used to bake a ton of stuff around the holidays, for both my profession and just for fun. Sometimes it would be tedious, but for the most part I enjoyed it. Even when it was “work,” baking holiday goodies was still a fun activity for me. Now, I don’t really feel like I have much reason to do it. There are no clients looking for my treats and my friends/family aren’t asking for it either. So why bother? It seems silly to bake hundreds of Christmas cookies when nobody wants them. I used to make a big Italian dinner for Christmas Eve, similar to what my family did when I was growing up. We spent most of these holidays with a group of friends that felt more like family to me than my actual family. I’d cook practically the whole day and we’d be drinking wine the whole time. It was fun. Now, those people we spent the holidays with no longer live here, which makes me sad. Some of us barely even talk anymore. I can, of course, keep up with the Italian tradition, but it’s definitely not the same if nobody is around to help you cook/eat all the food.

Although buying gifts for people stresses me me out sometimes, I’ve always loved buying presents for my fur babies every year. It’s so adorable, because they actually get excited on Christmas when they get their presents. I went to Petsmart this weekend to buy presents and my heart broke because Nooch won’t be here for Christmas anymore. It didn’t help that there were kittens up for adoption in the store that day. When I went over to say hello to the kitties the lady volunteering asked me if I had a cat…and I started to cry. 😦

I know that life changes all the time and that traditions change. I think I’ve felt extra sad and lonely these past few holidays because I haven’t made any new traditions to take place of the old ones. Sure, I get invited to parties and do some things with friends, but it’s not really the same. None of them feel like my traditions anymore or have given me something to get excited about.

I guess I need to start working on some new traditions,  but I don’t even know where to begin.

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Do you have holiday traditions? What are some of your favorites? 

Adult · Books · Fantasy

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

After finishing Age of Myth this weekend I picked up Poison by Sarah Pinborough. It’s a short, wicked re-telling of the Snow White story. I didn’t know anything about the book or the author when I purchased this, but I can never say no to new spins on a classic. This one is classified as “adult fantasy,” so I am hoping for something a little more sinister than the YA re-tellings I’ve been reading.

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What are you reading at the moment? 

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Since the beginning of time, humans, or Rhunes, have been taught to fear the Fhrey. The Fhrey are invincible. They posses strong battle tactics and weaponry, mystifying powers, and can’t be killed. As long as they keep away from each other peace can be maintained. 

When a Fhrey is suddenly killed by a human blade the rules of the game change. Raithe, the proclaimed “God Killer,” struggles to figure out where his destiny lies. Suri, the young mystic, warns the Rhunes of the impending doom that she sees in their future. Persephone, recently widowed, tries to figure out how to keep her people safe from harm. 

Danger is coming. Rebellion has begun. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this book was to read. I find that with lengthy epic fantasies, they can sometimes lag in the middle. This wasn’t the case at all here. The story was rich with detail and the plot moved at an even pace.

All of the characters were fantastic. There was a huge divide between the different factions of Rhunes and Fhrey at the beginning, but by the end those lines were all blurred. I absolutely loved this aspect of the story. It was so much fun to see how so many different personalities and talents could work together for the same cause.

While all of the characters were great, the females definitely took center stage. (Persephone and Suri both kick some major ass!) It’s refreshing to see women being at the forefront of a fantasy novel, rather than being side characters.

There was one thing that I found mildly disappointing: There was a lot of reference to the Art, which was the form of magic that the Fhrey used. I really wanted to learn more detail about the Art and how it all worked. I had so many questions! Hopefully this will be discussed further in one of the other books in the series.

Overall, this was a great book. Highly recommended for anyone who likes fantasy and needs to get lost for a while.

 

Books

‘Tis the Season 

I’ve never been  one for holiday-themed literature. I don’t mind books where a particular holiday is incorporated into the overall story, but I don’t do stories that are solely based on Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc. I find books like this a bit too cheesy or lacking in substance. And, to be honest, I really don’t like Christmas enough that I would want to read an entire novel about it. Be that as it may, I cannot deny the amazing-ness that comes with the covers of some holiday-themed novels. I’ve seen quite a few of this popping up online and in stores lately, and I just can’t help but giggle each time.

Allow me to share some of my favorites with you:

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(Is it weird to admit that I kind of want the zombie Christmas carol book?)

 

I can’t decide which one is the best. What do you guys think?

 

Uncategorized

What is “Self-Care?”

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The holidays can be a hard time for people. Whether you’re someone who struggle with mental health issues, are experiencing some kind of major change or loss, or are buried in financial problems, the holidays can create an excessive amount of stress that make this “season of joy” anything but. As I mentioned earlier this week, I was already beginning to feel anxious over the approaching holiday social gatherings I will be expected to attend. Now, in addition to that, I’m trying to cope with the loss of my fur baby, Nooch. 😥

…Oh, have I mentioned that my therapist has been on vacation for 3 weeks now? Does anyone else smell a major mental breakdown in the air!? *Joker laugh*

I’ve seen countless reminders on the internet lately reminding those of us who struggle during this time of year to practice “self-care.” But what does that mean, exactly?

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out. For the longest time I thought self-care was mostly about taking time to pamper yourself with soothing baths, massages, etc. For some reason, images of women lying in the bath tub, surrounded by candles and cucumber slices placed over their eyelids often accompanies articles on self-care, so I don’t think I’m entirely to blame for the confusion. (Side note: as a woman, I feel like a complete failure for never having the desire to buy produce and put it in my eye or smear it on my face. Maybe there are even more things wrong with me than I thought.)

On the surface, self-care is pretty self-explanatory. It’s about taking care of yourself and making sure your personal needs are being met. Taking care of your body through food, exercise, and regular sleep is a good place to start. But is it really that easy? If you’re someone like me than,  unfortunately, the answer is sometimes no. My eating disorder struggles can make eating a highly stressful, tantrum-inducing situation. My depression can make it hard to get motivated to even get up and shower, let alone exercise. My anxiety can keep my brain running at the wee hour of the morning, when I should be sound asleep.

What about other needs? Aside from the basics that we require to keep our bodies functioning, there’s your mental health to consider. Depending on who you are, your needs will be different. They might even change daily. Sometimes you’ll need more alone time, other times you’ll need more social time. Sometimes you need more “fun” in your life, other times you’ll need more quiet time on the couch with a book. For me, trying to figure out what I need to keep my mental health in check can be frustrating. When you’re being pulled in all directions, between work, holiday shopping, family obligations, etc., it can be hard to even figure out how to keep things balanced. If you decide that you do need more alone time, how do you ensure that you’ll get it? Does that mean neglecting some of your other obligations? If you do that, will it just make things more stressful later? What about the unexpected things that will inevitably pop up? How are you supposed to fit it all in?!

I don’t have a clue.

I do my best to practice self-care every day, but it doesn’t always happen. I try to reserve my lunch breaks for spending time at the bookstore, drinking coffee and reading a book. Even though it’s only 40 minutes or so, it helps keep me sane during my work day. I try to set aside time for blogging/writing, dance, and my crafty projects. I take baths periodically when my muscles are feeling tense and need to unwind a little. But is all of that enough? Am I doing it right? I truly don’t know.

Last night I forced myself to go walk around the bookstore for a little while. After spending the better part of the day laying in bed, sobbing over my cat, I knew I probably needed to get out of the house. Truthfully, it didn’t help as much as I needed it to, but I tried. At one point I found myself sitting on the floor of the dreaded self-help aisle, with tears in my eyes. I don’t even really know what I was looking for. Anything to make me feel better, I guess.

Did I do the right thing by forcing myself to go out and try to be “normal?” Is this what I’m supposed to do in the upcoming weeks, as the holiday stress starts to gnaw at me? Can I just skip all the holiday bullshit or is that just “hiding?” Do I need to put more cucumbers on my face?

Again, I don’t know. It’s all quite frustrating.

(Side Note: I really need to stay away from the self-help aisle at Barnes & Noble.)