Bard on the Blogs (1)

Bard

Hi friends!

You may remember (I mean, how could you forget) that I am a Shakespeare fangirl!! Honestly, I have a Shakespeare inspired tattoo, two kitties named after Shakespeare’s famous women, my most important inanimate objects are named after Shakespearean characters..the list goes on and on!

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What’s past is prologue.

 

That being said, it is no question that when Alexa of Alexa Loves Books asked if I wanted to to join her in a blog collaboration celebrating the bard I jumped at the idea immediately. Thus, Bard on the Blogs was born! It is an event celebrating William Shakespeare, starting on his birth (and death) day, April 23 and ending on April 27! Alexa and I will be sharing some Shakespeare centered posts, and we want you guys to join in!

Much like the call for volunteers for Fortnight of Fright, you just fill out the form below with what you would like to do. You can write about whatever you like as long as it is Shakespeare themed! Maybe a review of his plays or the film adaptations, or your favorite quotes, even Shakespearean recipes are allowed! Get creative! The form closes on April 1, so go forth and sign up! Oh and P.S. rumor has it there might be a giveaway involved!

To see what I have done in the past to celebrate Shakespeare, take a look at the post below:

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

 

Review: The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier

Hi friends! Whew it feels like it has been forever since I have brought you reviews but if I am being honest, I have barely even had time to read! I have, however, had time to listen to ALL THE AUDIOBOOKS!! Well, “all” really covers too wide of a range as in actuality I started some pretty awesome but LONG series on audiobook and have been devouring them for months. Let’s take a looksie..!

Oh these books. These books were just wonderful. I can’t lie, I was a little wary to branch out into another Marillier series seeing as my love for her Sevenwaters series knows no bounds. I took the plunge, and did so in the form of the audiobook read by Michael Page and in doing so, found myself a new favorite narrator! Don’t you just love it when that happens?! I would highly recommend this series for fans of Marillier, strong female leads, brooding heroes, slow burn romances between the two and hints of political intrigue…

Title: The Dark Mirror

Author: Juliet Marillier

Narrator: Michael Page

Publishing Information:  March 6, 2004 by Tor

Genre: Fiction, Epic Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance

Series Information: Book one in The Bridei Chronicles (was a planned 5 book series that turned into a trilogy)

Format: Hardcover, 512 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library (in hardcover AND audiobooks!)

Recommended For: Fans of epic fantasies, slow burn romances, and historical fiction

The Dark Mirror was one of those books that broke my heart a little bit, the relationship between Bridei and Tuala is very sweet and I loved the strength shown from both of them. Each has to deal with their own struggles, but it was the struggle that Tuala faced that really felt heart wrenching to me. I liked how The Dark Mirror set the tone for the rest of the series, though the next two books branch off, they always come back to the backbone that is Bridei’s kingdom, and the relationship between he and Tuala. If I am being honest, though I did enjoy book one in this trilogy, I did not LOVE it and it was the promise of better things to come that had me continuing on with the series. The relationship between Bridei and Tuala was very sweet, but it was the secondary characters that really piqued my interest. Had I not known that the next two books would be focusing on Faolan (hubba, hubba) I am not sure that I would have been as excited to continue on.

“Tales within tales. Dreams within dreams. Pattern on pattern and path beyond path. For such short-lived folks, the human kind seem determined to make things as complicated as possible for themselves.” Continue reading

On the Same Page: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Hello my friends! This month the gals and I read American Gods by Neil Gaiman! It should come as no surprise to you that I love, love, LOVED it. It is well known that I am a Neil Gaiman fangirl. Therefore, it is no question that people usually come to me and ask questions like, “If I wanted to start reading Neil Gaiman books, where should I begin?” This question is generally so hard to answer because Neil Gaiman is such an interesting author, he writes all types of books, for all ages and levels of enjoyment. Due to his eclectic nature, I think that it is important  to do a reference interview of sorts before recommending any of his books, you may read something by him and loathe it, but then pick up something else he wrote and fall in love. Keeping that in mind I decided I would put together a little guide on Gaiman. If you don’t know where to start, read on and let me help!

If you like fairy tales…read Stardust:

Stardust is much more than a fairy tale, and given Gaiman’s nature it holds a lot of so called “horror” aspects as well. Stardust is a coming of age novel, a novel about family. It is also a story about different kinds of love. Like those feelings of “love” that really turn out to be just being in love with the idea of who you want someone to be and not who they really are. Stardust has witches, fallen stars, and pirates. It’s filled with intrigue, bravery, witty banter, and a sweet romance. The best thing that I can say about Stardust is that it is often compared to The Princess Bride by William Goldman, how can a review get any higher than that? If you enjoy fairy tales, witty main characters, and novels filled with light and dark moments, then Stardust is the book for you.

If you want to laugh out loud…read Good Omens (co-written with Terry Pratchett):

Good Omens is, in a word, brilliant. I am unfamiliar with the work of Terry Pratchett (I know, I KNOW) but I am looking to pick up his Discworld series immediately due to my love for Good Omens. In a nutshell, Good Omens is a story about the coming of the apocalypse. It’s the story of the angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley, who would rather it didn’t interfere with their very spoiled lives, thank you very much. What comes next is a novel full of shenanigans from a mass of people who are trying to prevent the end of the world, not to mention find the Antichrist who is somewhere, being raised by a rather regular sort of family. Hilarity ensues, as Aziraphale and Crowley do their best to save the world while also trying to maintain some sort of dignity. If you can, listen to the full cast audio of this one as it is rather fantastic.

If you need something to read aloud to the kids…read Fortunately, the Milk:

I say read this aloud to your kids but if I am being honest I laughed out loud to myself while reading this while on the train home from NYC. Fortunately, the Milk is a great read aloud as it is funny and quick, not to mention the fact that it is filled with wonderful illustrations. Fortunately, the Milk is a hilarious story of time travel, and dinosaurs, and of the love of a father who really just wants to get home to his kids who are obviously in dire need of some milk for their morning breakfast.

If you like fables, mythology, superheroes and some philosophy…read Sandman:

That’s right. Sandman has all of these things and more. I wasn’t much of a reader of graphic novels before I picked up Sandman, but now I am completely hooked. So much happens throughout this series but ultimately the reader is taken on many journeys through many different places and time. We travel through Hell at one point, and Shakespeare’s time, and to an inn at the world’s end. We meet some superheroes, and some different gods and goddesses. I love this series so much because so much happens in each volume that re-reads are absolutely inevitable. Our main character, Morpheus, is one of the seven Endless (Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, Delirium) and as our title character much of the story revolves around his troubles. The only thing (potentially) negative is that I want MORE from the other Endless. NEED more, please. Continue reading

Love-A-Thon: Mini-challenge #3: One Can Only Quote

Hello there! I hope that you all have been following the #LoveAThon hashtag on twitter and checking out Alexa’s post so that you can see the bloggers participating and keep up with everyone’s posts! For this challenge we are sharing quotes about love and friendship, so I thought that I would sharing a few pictures that I have made for the blog and Instagram showcasing some of my favorite quotes!

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“Watch that boy,” she said. “You’re stronger in many ways, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take you apart.” from Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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“I have tried to let you go and I cannot. I cannot stop thinking of you. I cannot stop dreaming about you.” From The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Love-A-Thon: Welcome!

BANNER - 2015 LOVEATHON

Hello my lovelies!!

I am sure most of you know that the lovely Alexa over at Alexa Loves Books is hosting her annual Love-A-Thon, if you have no idea what I am talking about, head over to her intro post and them come on back! Awesome, right? It is just another way that some of us are trying to focus on the cheer and positive aspects of our book blogging community. I will have a few posts on the blog throughout today and tomorrow, and will be participating as much as I can on Twitter using the hashtag #LoveAThon so make sure to stay tuned! If you read on, you will learn a bit about me and the impact that the blogging community has made on my life! Happy reading, friends!

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  1. What’s your name? Alyssa! I tend to go by a myriad of nicknames, the most popular being, “A.”
  1. Where in the world are you blogging from? Snowy New England!
  1. How did you get into blogging in the first place? I was actually in graduate school for my MLIS a few years back and we had to observe different resources for reader’s advisory, one of which being blogs. I had been following a few (The Book Smugglers, and Broke & the Bookish being two!) and I thought about how fun it would be so I started one, and convinced my friend Heidi from Bunbury in the Stacks that it was a good idea that she start one as well!
  1. How did you come up with your blog name? I wanted something that was meaningful to me, that spoke of my feelings regarding books and how important they are. I have always felt that books took me away from the drama of the real world and you can become immersed in the fictional world for a little while and forget whatever it is that needs forgetting. Thus Books Take You Places was born.
  1. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog? I read a lot of fantasy, it was always my fall back growing up and I try to really focus on reading what makes me happy. I do try and read books that are different than my go to genre but if I find that I am not loving what I am reading, I put it aside. Life is too short to read books I don’t love!
  1. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews? Hmm I have been known to write some Disney posts ranking the swooniest male leads and villains. I also write some “non-traditional” reviews for my On the Same Page feature that I do with Amy (Tripping Over Books) and Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide) an example of one would be the personal post I just wrote on the idea of traveling souls.
  1. Best blogging experience so far? Hmm my best blogging experience has to be meeting so many wonderful people. I was surprised to see how vast the book blogger community was, and when I first started blogging it seemed so scary because everyone was already friends. It wasn’t long before other bloggers were reaching out to me and forging friendships. Through these interactions (mostly through Twitter) I found Brittany and Amy. Meeting these two has been my best blogging experience, and one of the best experiences of my life. I can’t put into words how important these gals are to me, and how lucky I feel to have met my soul friends! We have had a few adventures like road tripping to Britt’s wedding, and our trips to NYC…but I am the most excited for FRIENDSGIVING this year for sure!
  1. Favorite thing about the blogging community? It never used to be, but it has become the kindness in the community. I think there is a large of us working quite hard to keep the community alive. We have things like this loveathon, random acts of kindness, and the secret sister project that have been started by bloggers in order to showcase and preserve the special relationships that we have. I think many of us work hard to keep the positivity alive and it definitely shows.
  1. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2015! AHHH ummm only 5? Okay I will choose ones that I do not have ARCs of:
  1. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read? It is from my childhood but I am pretty obsessed with The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. I think they are funny and fun, and full of heart.
  1. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF? DEFINITELY Sybella from Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers, she is my spirit animal and would understand me as no one else does.
  1. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests? I like to “game.” As in, you can catch me in front of my 3DS, Xbox, or any Nintendo console for hours at a time playing Zelda or Fable. I also like to bake, hike, go letterboxing and geocaching. I drink tea, and listen to old time radio shows, sometimes while putting together a puzzle. I am a pretty stereotypical librarian, right down to the two cats named after Shakespeare’s uppity females.
  1. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for? Usually presents for other people. I honestly have to hold myself back from buying my loves things anytime I go out. I also love trinkets, so antiquing is my favorite.
  1. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book. Hands down would have to choose The Lies of Locke Lamora, or Name of the Wind but they would have to be amazing. Like, HBO perfect adaptation amazing, as amazing as Game of Thrones amazing. I NEED THEM TO BE AMAZING. Also I hear that The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy is going to be a movie and I have such high hopes!

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On the Same Page: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Title: Midwinterblood

Author: Marcus Sedgwick

Publishing Information:  October 6, 2011

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Horror, Romance

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 272 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: Fans of books that make you think, and love that moves beyond time.

Related Reviews: Amy’s post on the many moons of Midwinterblood, and Brittany’s review

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you’ve never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens. In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumor has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they’ve lost. In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon – the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter’s moon, the blood moon – this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting.

“It’s not even as if she is beautiful, not in the way people usually mean. She’s more than pretty, that’s what he can say, but it’s not that that has caught him. It is simply her face, her eyes. The moment he saw them something clicked. He suddenly realized what it was. He recognized her face. As if seeing an old friend, long forgotten…”

Okay, so you read the blurb right? You get the gist? Two people are slain and it echoes multiple lives they have lived together, moments where they keep finding and losing one another as time passes…deep stuff. This was a hard book for me to read for many reasons, almost all of them personal, but I read it and honestly am not sure that I can put into words how deeply it affected me. As you know we Gals on the Same Page write non-traditional reviews for this feature, but what I am going to do is try and put into words why this book affected me on such a personal level. We are about to get a little personal!

First, it is imperative to let you know that a few years ago someone close to me was murdered. As you can imagine this sort of thing affects you for the rest of your life, it is something that absolutely changes the way you view the world and there isn’t a day that goes by that it doesn’t affect me in some way. Second, I should explain to you that I am not a religious person. This is an understatement, believe me, but I believe “to each their own,” and therefore won’t get into my reasons or debates. Well it is no question that when my friend was killed I quickly spiraled down into a very dark place, I obsessed over the trial and hate and pain consumed me and I found it hard to even be around other people. One day I was at work making a cup of coffee and I just couldn’t stop thinking about the trial and about my friend. I hadn’t told anyone what had happened at work but my co-worker came into the break room, looked up at me and said, “Alyssa, Matt wants you to stop reading the articles, you are going to be stuck in the dark.” I felt like the world came crashing down in the at moment all over again. I just started sobbing and somehow managed to ask her “how” and “why” she was doing this to me. To make a long story short, this woman was a Psychic Medium who specialized in past life experiences. I know some of you are probably going to stop reading here due to disbelief and bias, and that is totally fine, this is a no judgment zone. I am not going to get into details about what this woman told me, except that I will tell you that she said we have traveled many lifetimes together, each time missing the mark where we can be together, each time he was lost to tragedy in order to move us forward toward an unknown goal. I am not going to explain to you how she helped me bridge a gap that I so desperately needed and how she gave me something to believe in again. I am just going to tell you that it forever changed me, and though I may not believe 100% in anything, I believe that anything is possible and I believe that everything happens for a reason. Continue reading

The Secret Sister Project (2)

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Hey lovelies! We are here to announce round two of our Secret Sister Project! First, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who made our trial run such a success. Honestly you guys blew me away with your generosity and ability to hold one another up on those cloudy days I really appreciate everyone’s time (and money) and cannot tell you how proud I am to be a part of this community! So let’s get into the logistics…For those of you who are new here, you can take a glance at our initial post to get an idea of what is going on here. To my peeps who are signing up again, we have made some significant changes to the whole project so please read the below very carefully before signing up!

The What:

The Secret Sister project is essentially a cheer club. Think Secret Santa but all year round with less emphasis on big presents, and more thoughtful notes, cards, small somethings sent just to let your secret sister know that you are thinking about her!

The When:

  • Sign-ups run January 12 – January 23
  • You will be paired up with your secret sister by January 30
  • This session will run from February 1 – July 31 (this means that your last something will be sent in July)

The Who:

You guys! The only “rule” we have is that before signing up, you must “know” at least one of us. Us being myself (@withthebanned), Amy (@trippingbooks), or Brittany (@bookaddictguide) and “knowing” one of us means that we must have spoken on Twitter or SOMETHING. We are just really concerned with someone not following through, and that would just make a bad time for everyone. Continue reading

On the Same Page: Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

Title: Snow White and Rose Red

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

Publishing Information:  December 15, 1993 by Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy tales, Young Adult, Romance

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 288 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: Fans of fairy tale retellings, and for those of you who don’t shy away from dialect from Elizabethan England.

Related Reviews: Brittany’s Post and Amy’s Post

You guys, Snow White and Rose Red is easily one of my favorite books of all time, and Patricia C. Wrede is by far one of my favorite authors. When the girls and I decided to choose our favorite book to read during our own birthday months it was no question that this was the way to go for December. This book was part of The Fairy Tale Series created by Terri Windling. The covers are absolutely gorgeous (I have all but one!) and the retellings are superb, and some of the authors who contributed to the series are Jane Yolen, and Charles de Lint. For this post I am going to share some wonderful fairy tale retellings with you guys. Also let it be known that I am going to share some (I believe) lesser known titles here so you don’t see yet another list filled with Cinder, and Cruel Beauty (P.S. I also loved those books)…

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Original fairy tale: Beauty and the Beast

Synopsis: Whistling Tor is a place of secrets and mystery. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom. For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.

My thoughts: As is her style, Marillier included some dark elements to the tale that really drew me in as a reader. I was invested in the characters, I felt their pain and disappointment as they did, and found myself on the edge of my seat hoping for a happy ending. As many of you know, Juliet is the queen of slow burning romances. This story did not disappoint, every look and small gesture radiated with something more and as always, Marillier broke my heart a little just to put it back together. Thankfully, Juliet Marillier made my heart sing per usual, she stayed true to her path of weaving so many elements into a beautifully layered story. She creates friendships between characters (both human, Other, and animal) that bring tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. This book comes highly recommended; it is an absolutely unique and gorgeous retelling of an age old tale.

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Book Hoarder’s Anonymous: Best of 2014

Let’s get a little personal for a minute…2014 wasn’t the best year for me. In truth, it was actually one of the hardest years of my life, and quite frankly there were moments I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through. It was a year I spent in a long distance relationship (that is, after living together for 5 years, we were forced to live 4 hours apart due to career choices). It was the year I obtained my DREAM JOB, and also the year I lost said DREAM JOB only a month later. It was the year I had to reevaluate everything I had been working toward for years, I was forced to make decisions that nearly had me throwing up from anxiety, but I did it, and am better for it. 2014 was filled with angst and “I don’t think I can do this anymore” moments, but it was also filled with so much love. It was one of those years where it was imperative to surround myself with loved ones who could help carry the burdens I was attempting to shoulder. Those of you who read my blog know that Amy (Tripping Over Books), Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide) and myself are very close. To be quite honest, I cannot put down in words how much these two have helped me over the past year. They listen to the same stories over and over, always offering encouragement and support. They often offer to Avada Kadavra anyone who is annoying/hurting me and most importantly, they remind me of my strengths. They are quite literally, sunshine on my cloudy days. To come full circle, I will remind you all that the three of us wouldn’t be friends if we had not started blogging, we would not be here as a group to offer you our #samepage feature, and I would be missing an integral part of the person I am today. I feel blessed to have the kind of people in my life who have become soul friends. Despite the darkness of 2014, I look forward to what 2015 will bring.

Now, let’s get into the more bookish stuff, shall we?

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Overall favorite book of 2014: This is a hard one, but I think The Lies of Locke Lamora. I will leave you with my initial review: So very good. Incredible, even. It was as if The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Kingkiller Chronicles had a baby. The relationships were some of the best that I have ever read, loyalty at its best. The plot was driven, and interesting, Lynch left clues throughout that made up a very detailed plot. Also it must be said, the language was fantastic! Some may find curses to be vulgar, but let me tell you, The Lies of Locke Lamora is enriched by stellar insults and perfectly timed sailor language. In short, read this book, read it now.

Favorite BAMF: Well I am just getting into the (long) series but I really love Nynaeve and Egwene from The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. They were especially coming into their own in book two, The Great Hunt and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Favorite debut author: Rosamund Hodge. I loved Cruel Beauty so much, the writing and the darkness of the story were all things that spoke to me.

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Books with Pictures: Definitely Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. It was GORGEOUSLY illustrated and written and completely an “Alyssa” book.

BFF: I should say BFFs, as in bromances, because Locke and Jean take the cake for this one. I love their friendship immensely!

Most swoon-worthy lad: OH, Jared from The Lynburn Legacy. I loved him so much that upon finishing book one in the series, I immediately picked up the third and fourth. Continue reading

On the Same Page: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Title: Sunshine

Author: Robin McKinley

Publishing Information:  November 30, 2004 by Jove

Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Horror

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 389 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: 

Related Reviews: Brittany’s Post and Amy’s Post

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. Sunshine knew that. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and she needed a place to be alone for a while. Unfortunately, she wasn’t alone. She never heard them coming. Of course you don’t, when they’re vampires.
They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion – within easy reach of a figure stirring in the moonlight. She knows that he is a vampire. She knows that she’s to be his dinner, and that when he is finished with her, she will be dead. Yet, as dawn breaks, she finds that he has not attempted to harm her. And now it is he who needs her to help him survive the day…

Okay so this month the gals and I set out to read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski…it did not go well. That is to say, we didn’t last long before choosing to go down a different path by reading Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I had actually read this book a few years ago and all I could remember was CON <3 and well, upon finishing I can sum it up in the same one word! I loved Sunshine and her feisty behavior and the fact that she felt so real, the reader can understand her fears and hesitations throughout the story. I thought for this month’s post I would share some pictures and quotes that I enjoyed while reading Sunshine!

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“The train is roaring toward you and the villain is twirling his mustache and you’re fussing that he’s tied you to the tracks with the wrong kind of rope.” Continue reading