The Bells of Paradise, by Suzannah Rowntree // New release! 

 

(can we all just take a minute to revel in the prettiness of this cover? O.O)

Summary

Only a madman would go into Faerie of his own accord.

The one thing John the blacksmith loves more than his peaceful, hardworking life in Middleton Dale is the tailor’s free-spirited daughter Janet. But unlike John, Janet dreams of adventure beyond the Dale. And when her dreams lead her into Faerie to be captured by a dangerous witch, John realises he must dare the perilous realm of the Lordly Folk to free his bride.
A poignant and profound retelling of the Grimms’ fairytale Jorinda and Joringel, set in the fantastical realms of Elizabethan folklore.

My Thoughts

I know I’ve said this before but Suzannah Rowntree’s writing is like decadent cake. And it only gets better with each book.

Pendragon’s Heir was delicious; The Bells of Paradise made for a delightful treat on an afternoon relaxing, like a sleepy kitten, in a patch of warm sunlight.

First of all, Suzannah Rowntree has a knack of making her fairytale re-writes feel, not so much like retellings, but like original fairytales themselves. The world of Bells is vivid and full and never too involved or overwhelming. I loved every glimpse of Faerie and the sense of otherness and fey just around the corner.

“Here were strange and preposterous marvels: mice the size of goats being sold, saddled, and bridled by little brown men, a lady in a gabled hood carrying a tiny lion like a lap-dog…”

Secondly, the hero of the story is refreshingly unique in that he isn’t some ardent youth off on a quest or a prince bored with his lot in life; instead John is a simple blacksmith, content with his world and his people until events upset the equilibrium of his life. I like that he is a reluctant hero–he would never even consider himself a hero, actually–and his journey throughout the story felt so real and near to my heart, despite the fact that I’m much more similar to Janet’s character. We only spend roughly an hour’s time with John (about as long as it takes to read the novella), but it feels like so much more, and he’s already one of my favorite male protagonists of 2016. The literary world needs more Johns, methinks.

Thirdly, the story of Bells itself is well-worth devouring. Again, it isn’t even that long, but there’s so much depth and richness to it. I love it when a book gives me chills, whether it’s from a character epiphany or a slice of gorgeous description or a bit of skillful plotting. In particular, every now and again a book will give me a fleeting glimpse of Sehnsucht, a tiny glimmering of the world beyond the tapestry, as Montgomery sums up so well:

“It had always seemed to Emily, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside–but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond–only a glimpse–and heard a note of unearthly music.”

 ~ Emily of New Moon, by L.M. Montgomery

A book that does that for me is a book I will treasure. The Bells of Paradise actually brought me close to tears from the dance of joy and beauty and fire that I could just barely see beyond the surface of the story. I had a similar experience recently with Golden Daughter and let me tell you, people, it’s not something you forget quickly.

So, if you love fairy tales or delicious writing or humble heroes or even just want a quick read to while away an afternoon, by all means pick up The Bells of Paradise. You will be glad you did, my friends.

*I received a free ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review — Resist // by Emily Ann Putzke

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Synopsis

Munich, Germany 1942—Hans Scholl never intended to get his younger sister involved in an underground resistance. When Sophie Scholl finds out, she insists on joining Hans and his close friends in writing and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets entitled, The White Rose. The young university students call out to the German people, begging them to not allow their consciences to become dormant, but to resist their tyrannical leader and corrupt government. Hans knows the consequences for their actions—execution for committing high treason—but firm in his convictions, he’s prepared to lose his life for a righteous cause. Based on a true story, Hans, Sophie and all the members of The White Rose resistance group will forever inspire and challenge us to do what is right in the midst of overwhelming evil.

My Thoughts

I picked up this book with high hopes and, happily, it did not disappoint. The WWII era is one of my favorite historical periods, I’ve been planning on reading more books with male protagonists, sibling relationships make me happy, and the German resistance is something I know little of but am curious about.

Resist covers all those bases and then some.

It’s a book about war and coming of age and struggling against tyranny and the age-old battle of good and evil. At its heart Resist is the story of a young man who chooses not to take the easy path, who has the courage to act upon what he believes. Hans Scholl has his whole life ahead of him… and his country is crumbling to pieces around him. I love that he doesn’t bury his head in the sand and he doesn’t misuse his sense of patriotism by pretending that his country is so great it could never really become the monster Hitler was creating of it. Instead he takes his frustration, his passion for justice and truth, and channels it into doing everything he can to make a difference. The fact that he really lived and the events of the book actually happened only make it that much more poignant and impactful.

The story is by necessity disturbing and heart-breaking at times, but the darkness is beautifully woven in with simple, happy moments of light—such as when Sophie and Hans eat and exchange sibling-chat after midnight or at the dance scenes or the touching, sweet moment with the Russian family or when his friends gave Hans grief about Gisela. Speaking of which, their relationship made me a happy human. Nothing like falling in love over deep discussions about literature and politics and religion.

And Sophie and Hans melt my heart. I have a wonderful, close relationship with my older brothers too so it was extra special to see how the siblings looked out for each other and protected each other.

Which makes the ending of the book all the more powerful and painful. I honestly couldn’t remember what was going to happen, and reading a few of those last chapters was suspenseful to the point that I was actually feeling nauseous from the sense of dread and impeding peril. Not good for my peace of mind, dearies.

Also, this book is chockfull of stellar quotes, my fellow rabid bookworms. I’m pretty sure I ended up high-lighting about 50% of my Kindle ARC. It’s that good.

“If they allow their dreams to be dormant, I don’t see the point in dreaming at all.”

“Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition…”

“It is my firm belief that every human needs at least one friend in whom he can confide.”

“When, thus, a wave of unrest goes through the land, when ‘it is in the air,’ when many join the cause, then in a great final effort this system can be shaken off. After all, an end in terror is preferable to terror without end.”

“But I am your brother. I have to take care of you… no matter how stubborn you are.”

“He may call me home sooner than I’d wish, but I’d rather die for what is right, true, and just than to live with a dead soul and conscience.”

One of the many reasons Resist left such a deep impression on me is because much of it parallels the direction America is headed right now—so much of it flashes a stark light over all the missteps we’ve taken, the missteps we are considering taking, and the consequences of them. Hans’ frustration and agony of mind over his countrymen turning a blind eye and choosing to do nothing cuts me to the quick because I’ve often felt the same about the apathy and deliberate ignorance of so many Americans.

“Some of us take the easy road, myself included, for why would you risk your safety if you are a decent German citizen who’s minding your own business? You can simply close your eyes to the evil your government is committing and pretend you don’t notice while they strip away every freedom you possess. Perhaps you’ll make it through the war, through the tyrannical government, but at the end of the road, you will be in utter agony. The road that seemed the easiest led to destruction. But perhaps you take the painful road instead, the one that causes you to lie wide awake at night in fear? The one that could cut your life short, but would lead to peace and eternal rest. Would you take it? Would you bear the painful road? As you see, just as Hugo writes, ‘these two roads were contradictory.'”

“If I knew what was happening but gave it no heed, I was voluntarily allowing my people to be devoured by the wolves.”

“If everyone waits until the other man makes a start, the messengers of avenging Nemesis will come steadily closer; then even the last victim will have been cast senselessly into the maw of the insatiable demon.”

The story of Hans and Sophie Scholl demands attention because they were real. They were just two ordinary young people who loved and laughed and studied and wolfed down food at scandalous hours and managed on far too little sleep and got depressed and made mistakes and liked cake. But they were willing to put their lives on the line for what they believed was right, and they persevered even when they were terrified.

They were true heroes and I couldn’t be more thankful that history has remembered them.

May we never forget.

“When this terror is over, are we going to be included with the ones who allowed death to freely reign, or are we going to resist? If we choose the former, then what are we to say when asked ‘What did you do about it?’ We will have no answer. I for one, desire the latter. I want to stand up for life, goodness, morality, and most of all, God.”

*some disturbing scenes because of Hans’ exposure to Holocaust victims. A goodish amount of swearing.

*I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review

If I’m ever on an island with only ten books…

Anyone else feeling the cold of winter yet? (except you Aussies and other peeps enjoying summer which we will not discuss the injustice of. Kidding. Ish. *gives you all chocolate chips and laughs maniacally as they melt in the sun*)

I really wouldn’t mind finding a hobbit hole and hibernating with a ginormous stack of books until Spring. Alas, that is not an option for us humans so shall we warm ourselves up with this taggy thing about fresh, sunny breezes and books and fun stuff like that? (thanks, Joy!). and do not remind me that a desert island would likely be sweltering and miserable and Mount Doomlike. we can pretend it’s not, m’kay.

Let’s hope I’m never actually trapped on a desert island with only ten books at my disposal (*gasp*), but if I were… what would I choose? This is an agonizing question, bookworms!

I’m going to assume I don’t need any survival books and all that. This list shall be the books I would want by my side if I could possibly have them — practical or not.

Ten Books I Absolutely Must Have If Trapped On A Desert Island

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1. The Hobbit.

Having my Bible with me is a given so the first book on my list shall be The Hobbit. My love for this book of my childhood knows no bounds. It is the first storybook I remember, and the one that had the most influence on my mind as a young Story Girl. If I’m all alone on an island, I want Gandalf and Bilbo at my side.

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2. Jane of Lantern Hill.

Of all of Montgomery’s books this one is dearest to my heart — it typifies everything that’s charming and beautiful and soul-touching about her stories. Also, the charries in this book might possibly be some of my favorites ever. Jane would make a grand friend, methinks.

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3. Les Miserables.

Because:

a) I need to read this.

b) My Mum sings its praises and begs me periodically to pick it up so I can cry and discuss it with her. I shall read it, Mumsie. Sooooon.

c) It is a Doorstopper of a read. And I love Doorstoppers with all the fierce love of a Bookworm.

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4. To Kill A Mockingbird.

This requires no explanation.

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5. Shadow Hand.

I dithered forever over which of the seven I would take, and I finally narrowed it down to Shadow Hand because it has Eanrin (which is obviously a Must) and one of the most convulted and epic storylines of the series. I suppose, really, it has the best of the Tales of Goldstone Wood world.

“This is a tale of blood.
And love.
And the many things that lie between.”

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6. Halo: Ghosts of Onyx.

Just thinking about this book makes my heart hurt — in the best way possible. You really can never have too much hardcore science fiction. And I will probably dehydrate myself by crying over the ending.

“Every other Spartan on the field charged as well, hundreds of half-camouflaged armored figures, running and firing at the dazed Jackals, appearing as a wave of ghost warriors, half liquid, half shadow, part mirage, part nightmare.
They screamed a battle cry, momentarily drowning the sound of gunfire and explosion.
Tom yelled with them–for the fallen, for his friends, and for the blood of his enemies.”

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7. A Christmas Carol.

As hard as it would be leaving David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities behind, I choose A Christmas Carol. It’s the happiest of Dickens’ books, but still has all his distinctive motifs. I love it dearly. And it is set in winter with lots of descriptions about frigid snow and wind so maybe it would help me feel cool on a hot, sandy island? I CAN HOPE.

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8. Steal Like An Artist.

It is inspiring, humans. So inspiring.

I WILL WRITE IN THE SAND AND MAKE ART WITH SHELLS AND BRAID SEAWEED INTO BASKETS AND SERENADE SEAGULLS WITH SONGS I CREATED.

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9. The Wind in the Willows.

All the whimsy and charm and humor and descriptions of tasty food and adorableness and ACK. This book is special to me.

“He saw clearly how plain and simple – how narrow, even – it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one’s existence. He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage. But it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.”

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10. The Iliad.

Because GREEK LEGENDS.

I’ve never read this — and I hear it’s incredible — so I think that should be amended, yes? After all, between catching fish and snaring seagulls and avoiding the sun and escaping deathly scorpions and generally staying alive, there will be plenty of time to read on this island. Naturally.

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If you’re wondering why there is no Wodehouse on this list that would be because I simply could not choose just one. I tried, lovelies. It is IMPOSSIBLE. Try it yourself and you’ll see.

Cheerio, darlings! I’m off to Panama — if you understood that reference you earn a largish bag of chocolate chips.

(feel free to steal this tag if the spirit so moves you.)

 

//bookish survey of 2015

Prepare your minds for much flailing and fangirling, humans. Because I love books with all the love and I’m about to talk about allll the books I read last year.

*maniacal laughter*

Batten down the hatches.

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Speaking of books, last year I devoured a grand total of 101. I am quite pleased with myself over this. *gives Self chocolate chips*

(I’m borrowing The Perpetual Page Turner’s end of the year book survey.)

2015 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 101. But I think it’s actually more like 103 because Goodreads sometimes turns sulky when I try to add books to my Currently Reading shelf. which is why this year I must also keep a tangible list.

Number of Re-Reads: Five. But I know that’s inaccurate because, as I said, Goodreads likes to misbehave. Tsk. Tsk.

Genre You Read The Most From: Apparently Mystery wins out (with Fantasy as a close second). It would seem I read stacks and stacks of Agatha Christie over the summer and autumn. O.o Not to mention, I fell in love with Chesterton’s Father Brown. Also, I read my first Mrs. Meade and Anon, Sir, Anon.

Best In Books

Best Book You Read In 2015?

This question should be outlawed. I refuse to answer with a single book. Therefore, I shall answer with six.

Pendragon’s Heir was rich, rich, rich and I think I wouldn’t mind being best friends with Blanche and Perceval. Plus, KING ARTHUR LEGENDS YUSSSS. The Phantom of the Opera broke my heart in the best way possible. Monster made the deep-thinking, philosophical side of me happy. And I cried quarts and am probably far more attached to Mir than is strictly healthy. Love books like that.

Peter Pan was utterly magical and whimsical and strangely soul-achy. Shadow Hand only strengthened my love for Stengl’s writing and fantastic charries and story-lines and worldbuilding — I am consistently in awe. Also pain because feels. The ending was so beautiful it gave me a brief flash of Sehnsucht. Anon, Sir, Anon satisfied the Annie who-adores-mysteries-and-is-perpetually-curious, and it had all of Heffington’s signature charm and vividry.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

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This was a deliciously gripping mystery/police/plotsy thriller thing… and then halfway through it turned into something so deep and theological and quirky all I could do was squint at the pages and wish I was more clever so I could understand WHAT IN CREATION CHESTERTON WAS TRYING TO SAY. I may still be slightly bitter over this.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

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I didn’t really know anything about this brilliant scientist when I started the book. I emerged full of story ideas, fascinated with Tesla and indignant with Edison and even more in love with science-y stuffage than I was before. (although, Author Chap, quit bashing conspiracy theorists already.)

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

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Because everybody needs a generous dose of hilarity from the master of British comedy. You’re welcome, humans.

Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

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Best series I started: I enjoy the superhero genre. I enjoy parodies. I enjoy stories with snap and fun and plenty of humor and unexpected angst. Cue Supervillain of the Day. 

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Best sequel: I still haven’t recovered from this book. Can I sneak into the future and steal Book Three, please?

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Best series ender: Need I say more? *gazes dreamily into the distance and murmurs “across the pale parabola of joy”*

Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

I DISCOVERED FAR TOO MANY NEW AND WONDERFUL AUTHORS. HALP.

Top Five:

P.G. Wodehouse. Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Kate DiCamillo. Suzannah Rowntree. Rosemary Sutcliff.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

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Apparently The Phantom of the Opera is classified as horror. Okay then. o.O

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Steelheart. Woah. Talk about action! Dragonwitch had twists and turns and ACK. The Secret Adversary was impossible to put down. The Phantom of the Opera? NO WORDS TO EXPRESS ALL THE FEELS AND THRILL.

Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I don’t think I’ll ever not want to re-read The Tales of Goldstone Wood. The sheer amount of richness and beauty and emotional depth in these books…. my preciousssss.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

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I could gloat over this beauty all day long.

Most memorable character of 2015?

I encountered many memorable charries in my reading last year, but the first people that spring to mind is the little crew from Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. From Flora who is the cutest cynical, comic-book reading, squirrel-rescuing human ever to William Spiver with his “blindness” and love of Big Words, and Tootie who is one of my favorite adults in a children’s book. Not to mention, Ulysses himself — a squirrel who can fly and has an optimist spirit and a penchant for writing poetry. They are the most lovable cast of characters and I wish I could hug them all and share chocolate chips with them.

Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

All. The. Pretty.

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

I’m still trying to gather my thoughts on Go Set A Watchman. The moral dilemmas of genetic manipulation and enhancement in For Darkness Shows the Stars were fascinating. The King’s Scrolls challenged me on how strong I would be if I had to withstand incredible temptation and pain for the sake of what I believe, and A Wish Made of Glass helped heal a part of me I didn’t even realize was still hurting.

Runner Ups: Monster, Firmament: Machiavellian. Pendragon’s Heir. Shadow Hand.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?

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Need I say more?

 Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I could write a whole blog post on this subject. Oh, look: I did.

Book That Shocked You The Most?

I will never recover from that moment between Eanrin and You Know Who. Talk about unexpected and wonderful and heart-breaking. O.O The plot twist at the end of The Unmapped Sea is not okay. The fact that Penelope is missing from the book cover is ALSO NOT OKAY. And grown-up Scout is shocking and I feel her, but still, GIRL.

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Eanrin and Starflower (Tales of Goldstone Wood). Mir and Eva (Monster). Blanche and Perceval (Pendragon’s Heir). Kyrin and Jace (Ilyon Chronicles). I like to adopt ALLL the ships.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

 The friendship between Jack, a normal little boy, and Beth, a wind-up little girl, is sweet and touching (Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times). The love-hate relationship between Floyd and Adams in Supervillain of the Day is my favorite. Flora and William Spiver are the cutest. *hugs the babies* Marcus and Esca (The Eagle of the Ninth) remind me in a way of Frodo and Samwise. But more historical and with less ring-of-power-trauma.

Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?

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This requires no explanation. *hugs book*

Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

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That would be this wonderful, quirky, magical read which I am ever so grateful I was told I absolutely must pick up. Looking at you, Amanda. *hugs*

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

One word: EANRIN. *fangirling so hard*

Best 2015 debut you read?

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Read it, cyberspacelings. READ THE BOOK IF YOU WISH TO LIVE. Ahem. Because you want to? I will bribe you with chocolate chips.

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The world-building is, hands down, one of my favorite parts of Tales of Goldstone Wood. It’s amazing. Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times has some of the best steampunk worldbuilding I’ve encountered yet. Perfection, kind of.

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Basically anything ever by P.G. Wodehouse.

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

SO MANY. Sooooo many. I cry easily in books it would seem. *shoves box of kleenex under the sofa*

  • The Man Who Knew Too Much.
  • It Took A War.
  • Dragonwitch.
  • Shadow Hand.
  • Johnny Tremain.
  • The Two Towers.
  • Firmament: Machiavellian.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • Peter Pan.
  • The Bird in the Tree.
  • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.
  • A Wish Made of Glass.
  • Monster.
  • A Tale of Two Cities.
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
  • The Phantom of the Opera.
  • Pendragon’s Heir.
  • The King’s Scrolls.

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

All of these captivating, excellent beauties.

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

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 Let’s just say that this ends in such a unexpected manner that you wander about trying to collect your thoughts and wondering, “What do I do now?”

I cried. Goodness, that was a painful and beautiful ending. I’ll probably never recover.

Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Oh, help, I don’t even know. Maybe Flora and Ulysses? After all, it’s not every day you read about a squirrel that gets vacuumed up and comes out able to fly and fond of writing poetry.

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

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did dislike this actually. I rather wanted to drop it off a cliff. Flat characters and pages full of cliches do that to me. *deep breath*

MY BLOGGING/BOOKISH LIFE

(I know this is long. Bear with me, lovelies! Chocolate chips at the end, okay?)

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

I didn’t discover many new book blogs this year, but Cait is so lovable and fun, and her blog is an absolute favorite of mine. Plus, she has mad photography skills. And she’s just plain nice.

Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

Ahh, yes. That would be this one. I’m rather fond of the book too.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I had far too much fun blathering on about all the secrets of my writing processes. And I really love all my Beautiful Books posts.

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

By far that would be the short story contest I hosted with my fellow SEA Scribblers (which was an amazing experience), and the 2015 blogger awards were also grand fun.

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Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

That would be all of you, actually. Since starting this blog I’ve been overwhelmed by all the love and support from each and everyone of you, my dear friends. I couldn’t be more thankful for it. I really don’t know how to express how glad I am to know you all, and as for my Shadow Readers (as I like to call you) I’m so happy you take the time to visit the Curious Wren house, even if I don’t know who you are.

You are all special to me.

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Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

“Time is not the boss of me.” *painful laughter*

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

That would be my introductory blog post. And you all really loved my feelsy sci-fi flash fiction which made me beyond happy.

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Honestly, I’ve had some serious amounts of love on all my blog posts so I don’t think I could wish for more. ❤

Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

My Dad found a tiny book shoppe near us that sells used books and let’s just say that the proprietors know us by name and every time I come in, the lady lets me know at once if they’ve picked up any Wodehouse recently. It’s the best.

Also The Book Depository is a nice place. Free shipping, peoples. On EVERYTHING. O.O

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I passed my challenge of 100 books. GO ME. And I ventured out of my comfort zone by reading more books published in recent years so that was fun.

This year I shall be unstoppable! Ahem. Anyway.

LOOKING AHEAD

(In which we dramatically look off into the middle distance)

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

Lots and lots and lots. 

(with the exception of The Wind and the Willows these would all be first reads.)

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Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

I’m curious about Heartless mainly because Marissa Meyer wrote it — plus it’s Alice in Wonderland so there’s that. I can not wait until Resist comes out. Five Magic Spindles has the prettiest cover of ever and it’s fairytale re-tellings so yay!

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

I am dying to know how The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place ends.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

Reading: I want to dig into more of the older classics like The Illiad and Shakespeare’s plays. Vice versus I am hoping to venture into the cleaner YA books.

Blogging: Be much more consistent with commenting. Both on my own blog and on others. And I really want to do more posts specifically about writing and the process of spinning Story. Also put up more book/film reviews.

Look, we reached the end. EVERYBODY CHEER.

*gives out handfuls of chocolate chips and chocolate chip cookies*

What do you think of my 2015 reads? What are a few books you hope to crack open this year? Let us chat!

Winner of Best Character // 2015 Blogger Awards

And it’s time to announce the winner of Best Character! Thank you so much to everyone who entered nominations back in October — you all have excellent taste. ^_^ And, of course, thank you to the authors for creating such amazing Book People.

Honestly, characters make or break a book for me. It can have an almost non-existent plot, but if the writing is good and the characters capture my heart and run away with it? Well, that book automatically jumps onto my favorites list.

Weighing each of the finalists in the balance and choosing the best out of all of them was hard. When you have three such incredible characters, the choice is not going to be easy.

JACE has to be my favorite character in the Ilyon Chronicles so far. He is a half-breed who used to be a slave and gladiator and he still struggles with the trauma of his scarring past, and the rejection of others because of his bloodline. It’s gut-wrenching and convicting to see his refusal to deny his faith, despite his deep fear that he may not even have a soul. He challenges me not to give up on the things that matter, no matter how hard the struggle might be.

ISIDORE believes herself unlovable, ugly, and left-out and her pain becomes so strong that she hurts even those trying to help her. She is a girl whose heart is splintered more with every blow it takes, and who draws the bleeding shards close to herself and away from others, believing that will keep her safe. Her story is one many can relate to, and seeing how her heart mended and opened to welcome others in was so beautiful it moved me to tears.

PERCEVAL as one of the Knights of the Round Table has an adventurous and demanding life. His evolution from a merry-hearted, untried youth to a mature, wise man is one of the best parts of Pendragon’s Heir. He is flawed, and impetuous which only makes him more realistic.

And the winner is…

PERCEVAL 

His character embodies everything a hero ought to be, and yet he is still believably human with his own faults and temptations. There is a bright, clear essence about Perceval’s steel-true integrity that is wonderfully refreshing. I wish there were more heroes like him in modern day literature.

*much applause and confetti*

I highly recommend you add all three of these fantastic books to your TBR.

Don’t forget to check out the winners in all the other categories of the 2015 Blogger Awards!

Best Cover — hosted by Schuyler on Saturday, December 19th.

Best Title — hosted by Hannah on Sunday, December 20th.

Best Short Fiction — hosted by Ghosty on Monday, December 21th.

Best Character — hosted by Annie (Yours Truly *bows) on Tuesday, December 22th.

Best Book — hosted by Sarah on Wednesday, December 23th.

Best Author — hosted by Allison on Thursday, December 24th.

(I do apologize for the lateness of this post. Two words: unreliable technology.)

Cover reveal and Book Release Day — The Bureau of Time

I have a Very Important Announcement, cyberspacelings.

Today my fellow writer and friend, Brett Michael Orr, debuted his science fiction novel The Bureau of Time! (congrats, Brett!)

I’m incredibly excited about this because a.) this particular book is one I really, really, really want to read, and b.) cover reveals/release days are my favorite.

What is the book about, you ask? Read on, my friends.

The Bureau of Time

You can not change fate.

Cassandra Wright is a Timewalker – a teenager with a genetic mutation that allows her to manipulate the flow of time. But her inexplicable powers have made her a target for Adjusters – monstrous assassins from a parallel universe.

Saved from almost certain death, Cassie is pulled into a secret agency sworn to defend our timeline against these threats: the Bureau of Temporal Integrity, Monitoring, and Execution. Cassie’s life soon becomes entwined with Shaun Briars – a reckless Timewalker with an alluring smile and dark suspicions about the Bureau itself.

When Cassie and Shaun cross into the parallel universe, they discover a world in the grips of nuclear winter, with a new war threatening to spill over into our universe. With time running out, they must learn the true history of Timewalkers, confront the unforgivable crimes of their future selves, and defy their own fate to save two worlds.

Join the Conversation: #TheBureauOfTime

And now for the cover reveal!

*flings red and silver glitter everywhere* *trumpet fanfare*

 

(loving the red and the eagle and the symbolism of the hourglass and the shinyyy.)

THE BUREAU OF TIME is the debut YA SF/thriller novel from Brett Michael Orr, available on the AmericanAustralianBritish, and Canadian Amazon stores, and soon to be available on all digital reading platforms, including Kobo, iBookstore, and more.

Add on Goodreads. Stay up-to-date with The Bureau of Time by following @BrettMichaelOrr on Twitter.

I’m so excited about this book, y’all!! Most of you know how much I love science fiction and since this is time-travel science fiction it makes me even happier.  Plus, I asked Brett and he assured me that The Bureau of Time is free of sexual content (it does have some mild swearing) which is so. much. yes. Maybe somebody will buy it for me for Christmas?

Make sure you check out the hashtag, share your thoughts with me on The Bureau of Time‘s awesome cover and how much you want to read it. And maybe even buy a few copies as Christmas pressies! You know you want to. *nudges you towards Amazon*

Later, lovelies!

“A few of my favorite things…” // Twelve Days of Christmas Countdown

My friend Hannah had this clever idea to create a taggy thing to celebrate Christmas and get in the spirit of happiness and good-will — or more in the spirit if you happen to already be there! And she tagged me because she’s sweet like that. And so did Olivia. They both deserve chocolate chips, methinks. 

Rules:

Answer prompts with the wintery/Christmassy theme in mind.

Tag at least 5 of your blogger-buddies to take part.

Use the title picture I provided above.

Spread the love around!

  

1.) Favorite “snuggle weather” Books

The Wind in the Willows is, hands down, the best “snuggle weather” in the history of ever. Also,

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Actually, all of the Chronicles of Narnia.

— The Borrowers.

— A Christmas Carol. 

— The Hobbit.

— Jane of Lantern Hill.

— Little Women. 

And basically any mystery by Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or G.K. Chesterton.

2.) Favorite wintery/Christmassy Snacks

Gingerbread and milk. Frosted sugar cookies. Candied nuts. Chocolate. Oreo truffles. I shared some recipes yesterday.

  

3.) Favorite Hot Drinks

HOT CHOCOLATE ALWAYS AND FOREVER. Ahem. Tea is lovely too. 

4.) Favorite Christmas Movies

I chatted about that on Monday.

5.) Favorite holiday Songs

*sings Jingle Bells at the top of her lungs* 

I’m actually going to share a post about my favorite Christmas music next week! Complete with linkys. ^_^ 

6.) Favorite “snow day” Crafts 

I knit allll the things. And make paper snowflakes very badly. 

 7.) Do you wanna build a snowman?

I would love to… IF THERE WAS ACTUALLY SNOW. *mournful wail*

Tagging these lovelies: 

Joy @ Fullness of Joy | Hanne-col @ Ain’t We Got Fun Serena @ Poetree | Savannah @ A Scattering of Light | Lydia @ Lydia Carns
Have a jolly day, humans!