#TheSundayPost IX | The first two quarters of 2021 : a #bookblogger retrospective! Plus, the return of #AustenInAugustRBR!

Posted Sunday, 8 August, 2021 by jorielov 4 Comments

#TheSundayPost banner created by Jorie in Canva.

[Official Blurb] The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog. This is your news post, so personalize it! Include as much as you want or as little. Be creative, it can be a vlog or just a showcase of your goodies. Link up once a week or once a month, you decide. Book haul can include library books, yard sale finds, arcs and bought books..share them!

  • Enter your link on the post-
  • Sundays beginning at 12:01 am (CST) (link will be open all week)
  • Link back to this post or this blog
  • Visit others who have linked up
  • Read this week’s #TheSundayPost!

A note about the format I am using to journal #TheSundayPost:

I am finding I like being able to give my readers who cannot visit my blog each time a new post, review or guest feature goes live a digest journal of what is happening on #JLASblog each week! If you are familiar with the style in which I journal my readerly adventures via #WWWednesdays (see also Archive) you’ll know why I like this journalled style for #TheSundayPost!

It’s a way of talking about what is bookishly on my mind whilst sharing where my travels in Fiction & Non-Fiction took me through the last seven days! Quite stellar – so very thankful I was encouraged to participate as I love being able to think about which stories settled into my heart and which of the stories I am most eager to see arrive by postal mail and/or via audiobook! It’s a bit of a lovely way to journal your bookish life and have a weekly reminder of the experiences of you’ve gathered and love to remember!

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The first quarter of 2021 has been a rollercoaster of angst & fatigue,…

IF I were to be completely HONEST.

Loads of LIFE shifts & transitions.

A HEAP of health afflictions.

And a sombering END to WINTER and a predicted return of MIGRAINE(S).

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JANUARIES… some years, like 2020 + 2021, January is a difficult transitional month for me as a reader. I find myself vacillating between wanting to read + blog with feeling a bit indifferent about it all – either due to the international crises of 2020 (ie. wildfires of Australia first & foremost, the earthquake of Puerto Rico second & a few other things as well) OR the personal woes of 2021 wherein our holiday season was spliced into a new variant of the holidays due to Mum’s insane work schedule of Christmas & New Year’s – which frankly left all of us more stressed than JOLLY. Both Januaries were hard-won months for reading – yet, despite the upheavals of 2020, I was in a better position to read + blog than I was in 2021.

Ironic or not? I felt like 2020 was a year I happily survived and came out of a lot of personal crises and emergencies (ie. my parents rotated in and out of the ER more times than I care to remember) with the added worries over low yield supplies of necessities (ie. #toiletpaper you all!) which prompted rising as early as roosters to secure a PACK of toilet paper (oy!) by mid-March; and yet, overall, my 2020 wasn’t affected by the pandemic. If anything, as Mum was an essential worker throughout the year, our lives progressed forward in and round the new guidelines but overall? It was just another adversely challenging year but not one without its own rays of sunshine and joy.

This year? JANUARY just felt oppressively exhausting and I think that’s partially why I’ve been stumbling a bit this first quarter of the New Year with my readings. I have always tended to hug close to deadlines – sometimes even smashing straight into them (if I were to be truly transparent!) but eh. This year? I admit, I’ve lost my readerly inclinations more than 10x due to ‘life behind the blog’ and health afflictions which have set my heart and mind elsewhere than this blogosphere space I love to engage with the bookish community. Ergo, my post stats for JANUARY are decidedly at my lowest over a stretch of eight years!! *le sigh* Though nothing prepared me for the lightning storms of Summer wherein July truly tested my own patience as I only could share 3x posts!

Whilst at the same time, I returnt to work full-time in February which proved to be challenging in of itself and a new work/life balance ensued. I admit, I didn’t quite balance work and downtime very well in those last fleeting months of Winter nor has the weather & climatic patterns of Summer allowed me to pick up the renewing energy I felt during #WyrdAndWonder (in May) — but I’ve never been a person to throw in the towel when things get difficult! I just find a way to persevere even if a way forward isn’t always optional or within sight of a bout of adverse circumstances. One thing I can say, despite all the ups/downs I’ve experienced within this first quarter of the year, I still found INCREDIBLE storytellers, memorable characters and stories which LIFTED MY HEART in times where I needed a lovely distraction from the chaos of my life. Plus, of course I was quite exhausted and fatigued whilst working double shifts (which I continue to do) which was an adjustment of its own during the first quarter of the year as well.

Also it should be noted: despite what seemed to be a return to normal with my migraines by mid-Summer, I had reflected on the fact that my migraines have truly taken an absence in my life in comparison to last year and especially the more difficult years of 2018/19 where I felt their wrath the most. For that bit of relief, I have been truly blessed and I am hopeful it is my new ‘normal’ where I am not blighted and burdened with migraines to the extent I used to be every season.

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Before moving FORWARD – one must LOOK BACK:

cue the monthly calendar cards I created for my blog!

: all of which are customised & personalised :

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January Blog Calendar banner created by Jorie in Canva.

BOOK REVIEWS:

There is a clear winner from this grouping of stories – aside from my rapt enjoyment of discovering the cosiness of McGovern’s Cosy Mysteries (which I’ll address in a moment) there was another author who truly charmed me by her fantastical storytelling and of whom, I intend to re-read this #WyrdAndWonder year and perhaps offer a few more insights into why FLY FREE truly stole my heart in January!! However, until that moment arrives, I can definitely offer a snippet of insight into why this novel affected me so much as a reader and why I hope it might entice you to pick up a copy yourself to see the beauty of what Ms Rose gave us all to read!

Fly Free blog tour banner provided by Storytellers on Tour and is used with permission.

I positively love character centric stories and within the opening chapters of Allison Rose’s Fly Free we are treated to a beautiful overlay of seeing the fey and understanding where we are entering their lives in regards to the issues they are currently facing with an illness sweeping through their ranks. The ways in which Rose identified her fey and how their markings told a bit about them as an individual was wickedly classic as it opened the door into the fey by showcasing how individualistic they are and how they each respond differently to moments of crisis and drama.

Rose entreats us to explore this world of the fey of the Day Court through a growing discourse of unease as this particular group of fey are succumbing to a disease and an affliction which could overtake their race. Rose doesn’t wait long to showcase how far reaching the effects are of this condition either – as the fey are connected to the earth and the earth to the fey – proving the symbiotic connection they equally share is also part of their destruction. The fey have to feel the lifeblood of the earth in order to survive and by all accounts thrive – yet when this is placed in jeopardy it puts their lives in a vice against time.

Similar to the reasons why I loved reading To Court A QueenFly Free is an eclipse of life behind the veil of where the fey live and how they find balance out of their court of rule. You get to see glimpses of how they set themselves to high standards, how they suffer no fools and to deceive when your a fey is a straight ticket into the kind of trouble no one would broker for themselves. And yet, this is exactly what Rose is exploring as both Jae and Sevelle are putting themselves on the frontlines of where danger and deception co-mingle together.

-quoted from my review of Fly Free

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Despite the hurdles, I kept picking up the stories because these were the ones that caught my eye and bookish heart to read at the turning of a New Year. And, despite the issues in time and the lost holidays we all felt as a family, we still managed to ‘ring in 2021’ through YT footage of Times Square which included some rare ‘live on the street’ footage of New Yorkers just going about their holiday evenings as if no one were filming them in the falling snow. It was some of the best video feeds I’ve found for New Year’s and blessedly of course, by phone we were all connected at midnight, too.

This is why, even though I found one of my first DNF’s for an imprint I truly love reading (ie. Harlequin Heartwarming) – I also found a witty and delightfully addictive Cosy Mystery novelist I am thankful to have crossed paths to find on a blog tour! I was meant to receive the next books in the series but I believe the author had to change her plans – not to worry, when I’m able to fetch copies of them myself, I’ll be bringing those adventures into her series back to Jorie Loves A Story! Sometimes you just need to vacate into a series which has an uptempo of joy to read, a zaniness about how its writ and a clearly conceived plot + arc of Cosy Suspense to lure you into its pages!

For me, Death and Decluttering arrived at just the right moment where I could take a firm break from reading drama and realistic story-lines to entertain something a bit lighter and funnier. It is a series I was hoping to read more of closer to when I read the first novel but the sequel never arrived by Post and the reviews were cancelled. As this was a review tour to celebrate the series and I never did know what caused the change in schedules and I know the host wasn’t sure herself. It is a series I hope to seek out again myself and add into my personal library as there was just something wicked smart and fresh about the series. Again, it is definitely the kind of series you want to read when you want something light to soak inside and take a firm breather from the dramas of life.

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Simply You by Maggie WildBeauty Among Ruins by J'nell CiesielskiThe Healer of Briarwood by MK McClintock

SPOTLIGHTS | #25PAGEPREVIEW | OTHER CONTENT:

I was so dearly charmed by hosting the blog tour for Simply You, I reached out to the author about her novel and about the series overall as I was hoping it would become released into print. The author happily responded to my enquiry but somehow I bungled my response thereafter and I intend to reconnect with the author this week. I know I was attempting to connect with her at the start of the year and that is when there were a lot of changes happening in my life; as it was just before I went back to work full-time. I have a feeling her email and my response was lost in the swirl of immediate changes which took place in February as this was at the end of January. She’s since released a sequel and I was hoping to feature it this Summer, but those lightning storms kicked me offline to the brink, I missed the chance to host the book blitz! It is my hope I can feature her either directly on Jorie Loves A Story and/or in a cross-feature on both my blog and as a featured guest on @SatBookChat!

When it came to reading Beauty Among Ruins – I was in the wrong mindset to soak into the story properly but despite that, the author’s style won me over and truly gave me something to chew on! As you can see from my previewed perspective on the novel, I enjoyed my stay in the story from the setting to the characters! What was a happier surprise for me is how the author understood my issues in settling into the story itself and gave me such a boost of encouragement in the comments! It is a story I aim to finish reading this year and I earmarked to re-pick this title up in the cooler months of either late Autumn or early Winter. I definitely didn’t want to read this one during Summer as it would be too difficult with all the storms!

Ms McClintock has been on my radar for several years now – as she was one of the first authors I hosted on Jorie Loves A Story when I originally started hosting blog tours with Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours. I even have one of her stories on my backlogue I want to finish this year as well – as something always seems to distract me when I want to read it. I’m sure others know what that’s like whenever your trying to re-attach into a story and something pops up to take you out of it again? I could honestly say that is why my backlogue of reviews grew into such a monster of a list! However, when this blog tour came round – I knew I wanted to join it as I love having the chance to promote her collective works even if I’m a bit behind on reading or listening to her stories myself.

When it came time for me to read The Vanishing at Loxby Manor, I must admit, I was not quite prepared for it to take such a darker tone as there was something wickedly sinister about how this story was shaping together! I felt it as I was reading the initial pages of how the story began and it felt like whatever I had read in those twenty-five pages was bringing a bit of a harbinger of ill truth which would continue to unfold if I had pursued the story further at that time! I had it in mind to pick up when I could settle my heart and mind on spookier stories but alas, that time never arrived which is why I’m bundling this into my #SpooktasticReads for 2021! Give myself a proper haunting!

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February Blog Calendar banner created by Jorie in Canva.

BOOK REVIEWS:

Georgana's Secret by Arlem HawksChaos in Milan by Edale Lane

I was quite grateful to be selected to be on the blog tour for Georgana’s Secret as I have only hosted a few blog tours by Austenprose and had hoped to host more but the invites didn’t continue. What was lovely about this novel is how it was a return to a section of Literature I haven’t explored in awhile which is high seas adventure! The realistic impression Hawks was able to provide on behalf of being aboard ship was not lost on me and in fact, it became part of what I was so fondly appreciative of on my review! She truly gave us an interpersonal glimpse of ship life and the ways in which life is lived aboard a ship like this one, too!

I especially enjoyed the growth of connection bloom between Peyton and Georgana – as it was rooted in friendship long before romantic love took root between them. For they were cut of the same cloth so to speak, each of them finding something at sea they could not find on land and it was how they became intimately close throughout the course of the novel which made the journey with them so sweet in the end. One of my favourite passages is at the end as well – where Georgana’s father is talking with Peyton – about his regrets of the past and how Peyton holds the key for his daughter’s future. It was a heartwarming conclusion to a dearly dramatic adventure and within that passage of course, what was more fitting was how wonderful it was to see how the father could give his blessing of a second chance at life to his daughter.

-quoted from my review of Georgana’s Secret

Mostly though, it was the slow brewing romance and the wonderfully dedicated growth of character which anchoured me into the novel the most! I love seeing characters truly take that walk of growth throughout a story and by the conclusion, you’re not only cheering their progress but you’re just emotionally overjoyed for where they’ve gone throughout the journey you’ve taken with them! I know this won’t be the last Hawks novel I read and it was wicked wonderful I could read my first whilst hosting a blog tour as I have found so many dearly beloved stories this way over the years!

When it came time for me to read Chaos in Milan, I was a bit unprepared for it because it is hard for me to read ENDINGS to series and at the time, a fourth novel for this series was not yet announced. It was hinted at being plausible but it was not yet known if one would be written and that is one reason my heart was betwixt knowing how to enter into a third installment if this was if in fact the final chapter of these characters’ lives! This was one of two trilogies I would conclude reading this year and both of them, for different reasons affected me emotionally. (Marcus Lee’s series was the other trilogy; which I will be talking about shortly in this retrospective!)

For those of us who were hoping the master of influence on Fiore might take a bow in the series finally makes his presence known in Chaos in Milan. It was handled so well and fit so organically into the background of the story, I was quite overjoyed he finally was able to be ‘seen’ in-scene! As the conspiracy and the conspirators were finally unmasked and presented into the foreground of the story, I must say, I was not overly surprised by the person responsible for the heartaches and the despair affecting Milan as a city as a whole. The circumstances which led to the reveal and to the person’s choice to choose this line of destruction truly made sense once Fiore and Maddie had all the information. In many regards it was quite a sombering ending because of how hard it was to reconcile what truly led to the madness and to the violence.

I can see where Lane has left the door open on these characters and has cleverly left herself a way to move forward with them. Either by writing a new trilogy or by writing stand-alone sequels which would creatively extend the series. I would even imagine, there is room for growth for even the Night Flyer and for the work both Fiore and Maddie love to do both together and independently of each other. The character I felt had a greater role in this third installment was Maddie’s brother – as he truly had the chance to shine in this volume of the series. He is a bit of a mystery up until now and the more you get the chance to get to know him the more he is appreciated. One critical reason I am thankful he had such an expanding role this time round is because of how important the ending is to surmise the strength of family, love and the uniting unity of siblings. There is a lot going on behind the suspenseful arc of this series and at the heart of it is a family which I loved the most.

-quoted from my review of Chaos in Milan

You might have also remembered I hosted a vlog interview with Ms Lane? If you want to learn a bit more about the series from the beginning, I implore you to give her interview a good listen! Whenever I am able to host a vlog interview, I get giddy because it allows the writer to respond to my questions in such an interpersonal way which sometimes cannot be as reflected through a traditional blog interview or even one of the conversations I host via @SatBookChat. It is simply author, their raw thoughts and reactions and the questions I gave them which help bridge a discussion into their stories, series and writerly styles which I love seeing the most come these vlog interviews the most!

From these two novels, February was as full month because of how much these stories affected me personally as a reader. I had hoped to read more romances as well as more LGBTQ+ romances as those were my plans for February, however, as this was the month I had returnt to work full-time, what I was able to read and blog was all I was able to give that month where my life was full of transitions and changes on a personal level. I was quite proud I could re-anchour myself into the stories whilst working as my work schedule back then wasn’t as ironed out or even predictable so looking back now at Mid-Summer, it was quite remarkable how I accomplished something which felt so dearly impossible back then!

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The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy CambronElizabeth Adams

SPOTLIGHTS | #25PAGEPREVIEW | OTHER CONTENT:

Two of the stories I featured this month weren’t my cuppa tea – however, I did enjoy writing up the posts I shared for their respective blog tours. The story which captured me wholly by surprise was THE PARIS DRESSMAKER as I’ll let my notes on its behalf showcase what it was about Ms Cambron’s style which truly evoked such a strong response in me as a reader and as a book blogger:

I loved the atmospheric dimensions of detail Cambron etched into the background of her scenes – where you can feel Winter and not just observe it. You can understand the tension of her characters but you can also emotionally sense their anxieties. That coupled with how she paints the portrait of where we are entering their lives in-scene makes the opening pages of this novel quite enticing because you are seeing everything with the added bonus of Cambron’s depth of centre to place you in this world where one mistake could prove fatal.

The compassionate way in which Cambron showed Rene’s reaction to reuniting with Lila was priceless. He was truly struck offguard by her presence and yet, instead of making that moment harder for them both he instead took the higher road and just ‘got on with things’ in order to keep them both alive. There is a back-story here – percolating in the background of their conversation – a lost relationship, a disconnection and something more. I was truly curious to know more rather quickly than for it to trickle out in future chapters – there was such a strength of suspense in these two characters, how their lives first intersected – why they were separated and of course, how this would effect their reunion now. Cambron knows how to carry a thread forward in the reader’s mind and to linger there a bit to cause them to become even more curious about the after effects of what is revealled.

The way in which Cambron approached introducing us to Lila and Sandrine was to place us forward in the motion of the story – where their lives are ticking against the clock between 1943 and ’44. Shortly thereafter Cambron re-centres us on their lives – taking us back to ’39 to revisit with Lila. It is an interesting way to set the tone for their story – to put us front and centre in the future and then to backtrack to better understand their motivations and their reasons for what they did lateron in the forties as the long winding road of the war starts to greet its end. Not that they would have known that at the time but for those of us looking back on their lives – we know the truth of when the war ended. And, for those people who lived these lives – it pulls at your heart and soul knowing how hard they had to fight and why they chose to fight as hard as they had for the reasons we all understand now as we study History. This is one of the blessings of Historical Fiction and in particular Feminist driven Historical Fiction – to unearth the stories, to understand the lives of the women who lived those lives and to honour them by listening to their stories.

-quoted from my review of The Paris Dressmaker

This was another novel I couldn’t commit enough hours to read in full but had a wonderful time sharing a precursor of interest with my readers! These #25PagePreview posts this year allowed me to read a smaller section of the novels whilst continuing to engage with my readers and blog audience in a way which suited my limited downtime whilst working full-time. I am also hoping to finish this lovely story before the close of 2021 as I truly did not want to extract myself from the story as Ms Cambron truly anchoured me into the lives of her characters as if I were living next to them!

GUEST FEATURES:

One of the downsides of working full-time this year, was an absence of time to assemble guest features for Jorie Loves A Story! I caught a lucky break when I was able to put these two lovelies together as both Ms Forster and Ms Adams were brilliant guest authors!

Ms Adams truly SURPRISED me by her vlog interview response! I admit, I’ve watched it numerous times and was itching to share it with everyone as soon as I heard it the first time! This is definitely an interview for all Janeites and Austenites alike because of the topic and the discussion is so wickedly delightful in how Adams shares her love of not just Austen herself but of the stories, the characters and the settings which have inspired her own stories to chase after and become her own variation on themes and lives we’ve all come to know so dearly as we’ve read Austen’s canon and/or have pursued her after canon stories and series as well.

Lateron in this retrospective you’ll find out what I’ve slated to read this August as Adam @ Roof Beam Reader has happily decided to host his #AustenInAugustRBR event! I’m not only reading the group read for Persuasion but I’ve chosen to finally read through several stories in Austen’s after canon which have been languishing on my shelves for several years now without my apt attention and of a collection of stories on audiobook which I had meant to re-listen and finish reviewing last year but which my migraines prevented. If you do take a listen to this lovely conversation, due drop notes on its original post – I’d love to hear your reactions and takeaways!

And, its my hope for the last two quarters of 2021, I’ll be able to find ways to interview and offer more guest features on Jorie Loves A Story as those are my top favourites to put together as a book blogger, an inquisitive reader and as a writer who loves to interview fellow writers!

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March Blog Calendar banner created by Jorie in Canva.

BOOK REVIEWS:

The Soldier's Unexpected Family by Tanya AglerSecond Chance Cowboy by Claire McEwenRescuing the Rancher by Claire McEwenCatching Mr Right by Carol Ross

I had a true bounty of beautiful Harlequin Heartwarming stories to read this March! My heart was overly blessed with their stories and the lives of their characters! Harlequin Heartwarming authors have truly etched themselves into a niche I was hoping to find filled – the corridors of Contemporary Romance!! I originally found solace in reading ChocLitUK Contemporary Romance in the early years of Jorie Loves A Story – however, there were changes I hadn’t seen coming within their publishing catalogues and most of the authors I enjoyed reading have gone on to new publishers; of whom I am slowly trying to sort out how to continue reading as I haven’t had a chance to gather their new releases. In recent years, I had an unexpected chance to host Heartwarming authors through Prism Book Tours and it has truly impacted my life in such a positive way!

Last Autumn, early Winter, I received a wonderful surprise from the authors connected with the Blackwell Brothers & Sisters series – wherein, I received the Blackwell Sisters series to read and review. I was able to host the authors during @SatBookChat and had fully intended to read the series and post my reviews shortly thereafter as I adore that series — however, my migraines affected me worse than I realised last year and I lost my footing with that series altogether. Which is why my review for the first novel Montana Welcome did not arrive until November.

Earlier in 2021, I had a chance to receive another Heartwarming series: Butterfly Harbour of which I hosted the author during @SatBookChat to celebrate the Spring release of the series and will be hosting Ms Stewart again for her Summer release for this series – however, I’m still in the early stages of reading this lovely series as well. Instead of migraines, its been my work life and personal life that has affected my reading progress in both Butterfly Harbour and the Blackwell Sisters series.

On top of which, there were certain Heartwarming stories during the first two quarters of 2021 I was not able to finish reading and had to post a #25PagePreview post instead on their behalf. One was blighted out by lightning and the others, I just lost too much time in order to read them by the tour dates. All of which I am mentioning because this mid-Summer, I am picking up both Butterfly Harbour & the Blackwell Sisters series once more as much as I am reading a few new Heartwarming authors I’ve picked out from a second-hand bookshoppe whilst finishing the Heartwarming stories I had to preview rather than review!! It is my personal Summer readathon – wherein Heartwarming stories and authors will be renewing my love of Contemporary Romance!

Yet, for a period of time in March, I was able to focus on four Heartwarming novels – one of which of course, tested my heart for reading about WILDFIRES as it is such a sensitive topic for me as a reader. I’ve known too many people affected IRL by wildfires – both in America and in Australia, and given the intensity of the fires every year, it is something that is ever so much close to my heart and prayers every fire season. Of course, nowadays, I’m beginning to believe there isn’t a standard ‘season’ for fires anymore as climatic changes and especially drier conditions combined with drought are churning out more wildfires than ever even after human error and arson.

I encourage you to visit each of my Heartwarming reviews from March and find out what I love about each of their stories, their characters and the authors who are giving me wicked good reads!! I also celebrated my 8th Blogoversary by sharing my thoughts on behalf of Ms Ross’s novel which was wicked wonderful for me! If you love relationship-based Contemporary Romances as much as I do and romances set in small towne settings – you might want to give Heartwarming a chance to swoon your own romantic heart! Each of the authors has their own style and each series I read entreats me into a different part of the country as all the authors focus on different areas of contemporary and modern life. I also happen to love the realism they etch behind their characters’ lives – as these are fully dimensional characters living realistic lives who just happen to need a bit of a nudge to have romance enter into their preconceived plans of where they want to be in life!

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The End of Dreams blog tour banner provided by Storytellers on Tour and is used with permission.

I was almost at a loss for words to understand how to finish this trilogy. It is a Dark (very DARK) Fantasy trilogy and it tested me more than once as a reader. I had planned to host a RAL for the first novel during #WyrdAndWonder this year, prior to when I read The End of Dreams. I pulled those plans when after I read this conclusion to the series because my heart could not re-open this door. It took a lot out of me just to finish the series and part of that is the emotional backbone of the story – the climax of the characters’ journeys and the ways in which this series ends — it is not for the faint of heart either as there are inclusions of violence and darker elements of Fantasy which blessedly were writ in a way I could handle visually for awhile (as I’m not a reader who handles explicit violence very well; as I’m quite a sensitive reader by all counts) – but despite those hurdles and the conversations I had with Mr Lee as I concluded each of the three installments, all in – I was thankful I took the adventure on but I know now I cannot re-take it. Nor can I continue to read other stories by Mr Lee as he has already mentioned to me they will be far darker and more brutal in how their told than this trilogy. Dear hearts, I haven’t the heart to continue down those passageways but I yield those stories to anyone else who can traverse them.

Let me share with you a quote from my review and if your into reading Dark Fantasy stories, perhaps give this Self Published trilogy a chance to win over your heart, too:

There was as much battle scenes in this final installment of the series as there were in the second and despite the fact I know most of the others who read this story will be enthralled with that particular aspect of the series, for me, it is the heart of the drama and the relationships between the lead characters which always secured me inside the series itself. In that regard, the battles aside (as I didn’t read all those sequences this time round as to be frank, it was too intensely violent for me!) what truly captured me the most was the healing and reparations of the love at the centre of this trilogy.

You felt so much for Taran and Maya since the very first installment and then, through the actions of others their love was tested, tried and nearly dissolved in death so many times over it nearly felt like they were star-crossed and living out a nightmare bit by bit. They had such a high volume of deceitful parties vying to overtake their lives – from rulers in power who were more concerned with their own affairs than the lives of those they served to the people they felt they could trust and turnt out they were just as bad off as the ones in power. Everywhere they turnt – only a scant few were worthy of their trust and of their compassion, which is why the series had such a sombering strength within it to be read. To see how they could overcome their enemies and the obstacles set before them to the brink of what cannot be physically, emotionally or spiritually endured.

The ending was where my anxieties ruled the most – as I had a suspicion this might end one particular way and in many respects it nearly had only be be surprised by a final chapter Lee gave us all. This was the ending I had hoped might be the final resolution to Taran and Maya’s storylines – but throughout the series, it was hard to pin it down to how Lee would resolve the journey they undertook, the war which ravaged their world and how the healing process could finally redirect this world out of war and back into a grace of living again. It wasn’t just the lives of the people who were affected by the daemons and the wars, but also the biosphere of the world, the lifeblood of the harvests and the grace of the flowers. Everything in this world was set against a sea of darkness and to find a method of courage to seek out the light and have this world find its true source of healing is what held my grip on the story the most.

-quoted from my review of The End of Dreams

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SPOTLIGHTS | #25PAGEPREVIEW | OTHER CONTENT:

The Earl’s Lady Geologist left such a strong impact on me! You can see it through my previewed review and being able to talk to the author afterwards was wonderful as well. She even surprised me and sent me another one of her stories which I’m reading this Mid-Summer as the timing is better for me now than when it first arrived in Spring. Her style reminds me dearly of Jane Austen and that is why I’m adding her stories to my reading list this Austen in August! (which are further along in this retrospective!)

Baxter has a gentle hand when it comes to Regency Romances – she gently guides you into the world she’s written and there has been a lot of care and attention given to the era of her choice. She hasn’t taken any shortcuts like some Regency novelists take and you very much get to enjoy the flow of the language and the disciplines of the etiquette you’re expecting to encounter in a Regency setting. Very attuned to the social conventions and expectations of the era which made entering into this world wickedly delightful!

I loved how she played Cassy off Rothbury and how she let us peer into their persons from the perspectives known at the time – where Rothbury comes off a bit too strong in his opinions which aren’t necessarily limited to his perspective nor of his own thinking. Whilst for Cassy, she’s comfortable in the life she’s chosen and she doesn’t take kindly to someone acting as an interloper on her hours and criticising how she’s built the life she desires to live. And who could blame her? No one wants to be told they have to conform to society or have to live only the kind of life the family would approve of them living! Oy. I felt Baxter handled how this was becoming developed and explained quite well – especially as she caused a conflict in how Rothbury first entered into Cassy’s life and then, of course the joy of seeing where the two would go from their first conversation on the beach! I love when romances are set-up in this fashion as the conflict and the angst between the characters is perfect entertainment with a historical twist of course.

-quoted from my review of The Earl’s Lady Geologist

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The Girl in the Painting was another wonderful story I had to preview rather than give a full review as I didn’t have enough time to read it but there was such a wonderful glimpse into the heart of its story that I found myself full of words and impressions to share with my readers and visitors from the blog tour itself! As you will see from my words about the author’s style and approach to telling this story, I was truly mesmorised by what I had found and yes, I only read the first twenty-five pages!

I know too, at some point I might not get back into all the books I want to finish this year, but this is definitely on my short-list of stories I hope to re-entreat inside because of how much I was connecting with the story and Cooper’s characters. You don’t always want to pull yourself out of a story but when the hours are not there for you to stay inside a story, sometimes you have to disconnect and wait for the time to be right for you to carry-on the journey.

Cooper gives her readers subtle clues about the era in which she is writing by how people are attired and how they speak to each other. You can tell you’ve left the contemporary modern world behind as you enter into a world of firm protocols and etiquette of this world Cooper has developed for us to explore. It is here where you can tell women had a designated place in society and a certain expectation about what they could accomplish or achieve in their lives. This is where the character of Jane is such an interesting spin on that world – she stands out and has a bit of an independent core to her personality. I love finding characters like her because it showcases how throughout History women and young girls have been striving to have their voices heard and known; where they break through barriers and prove that sometimes society short-changes a woman’s worth without any second thoughts. It is lovely find stories which prove that the fight for Equality and the right to live independent of society’s rules and expectations has been hard-won for generations.

The drama naturally comes easily to Cooper who has painted such a strong portrait of benefactors who want to help the less fortunate whilst showing their own lives were built from a humbled beginning themselves. I loved how Cooper shifted the story between Michael and Elizabeth’s plight to reach Australia and carve out their new lives against the tides of young Jane’s life and the obstacles she had to overcome herself in order to have a better future, too. It was a critical piece of the story I felt to better understand the siblings and their own origins to better see why they were doing as much as they could in the present to help those who did not have parents or others to look after them. They already had invested interest in children without guardians to protect them and it was this carry-over theme in the narrative which I felt Cooper displayed quite well.

-quoted from my review of The Girl in the Painting

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I was a bit disheartened by how quickly I realised Love and Other Moods would become a DNF for me! It held so much PROMISE in the Prologue and for me, that was what hurt the most as a reader as all that promise gave way into a novel I just didn’t find my cuppa tea! It is the only time I’ve read a Prologue which lead-in to a story which was completely different in both tone and execution, too!

Sand Dancer was a difficult tour to host for me because I learnt so much about the story and the author’s warnings about what could be triggered by readers if they read the content therein. Being a sensitive reader – those disclosures mean the world to me, as sometimes I have been burnt on what I’ve read when previously I might have been led to believe a book was able to be handled by my own readerly sensibilities. And, yes, I know sometimes those warnings are suggestive and are personally differing from our own issues with content in literature *but!* sometimes, those warnings and disclosures can save us from reading something that we do not want to read as well. For that reason, it was a hard book to write about because there was a LOT I loved about the premise and the story but there were certain reasons why I felt it might not be the best book for me to read.

Breathing Underwater is a novel I dearly want to read this year and it is one I need to request for purchase at my library if they haven’t already purchased it. You’ll see on my notes on the post itself why this story was one that held my attention and why I felt it would be a wicked #nextread!

I hadn’t realised it but the series The Steel Beneath the Silk is one that is not meant to be taken lightly – I had borrowed the first two novels from my local library but honestly, I didn’t have enough free hours to read them and when I went to read this third novel, I was completely lost by what was inside it. I knew this was one of those series that MUST BE READ in order to appreciate the continuing saga therein and for that main reason, I decided to highlight the series and this latest release rather than attempt in the last hours I had to tackle a trilogy of stories by my tour stop deadline. Likewise, I wasn’t sure if it was the right timing for me as a reader to endeavour to chase after this series, too. It was a harder hitting series than I first realised when I signed onto the tour itself and that was a secondary reason why I pulled out of reading it, too. Sometimes we have to be fully honest with ourselves – are the stories we’re reading in the moment of reading them right for us? Is it something that is too much or too heavy to process? Is there a story better suited for our frame of mind? This is why I listen to my intuition and sometimes change the plans I have as a reader and as a book blogger. It is better to do what is right for us than to have an after effect we might not want to deal with afterwards.

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The second quarter of 2021 did not quite go as I planned,…

This is definitely a year where I leant on my #25PagePreview posts!

Originally, I conceived those preview posts to be a bit different than what they’ve turnt into this year – as there were a lot of different reasons why I couldn’t finish reading a book for review on a blog tour during the first two quarters of [2021] and onward into Summer. I decided it was better to post a shorter glimpse into my reads this year than to worry about what couldn’t be read in full. Despite that hiccup in my readerly life, I felt the posts and reviews I was able to share give a reflection of where my readerly life has been taking me throughout the months I’ve attempted to read and blog my readerly life this [2021].

Likewise, MAY by far was one of my favourite months as it gave me a chance to have a bit of a ‘holiday’ away from work and sort out where my next fantastical adventures would take me as a reader who loves co-hosting #WyrdAndWonder with Imyril and Lisa. This was the first year I couldn’t focus on guest posts & interviews but rather focused solely on reading and blogging my thoughts about the stories which were slated to be read this year.

The list was quite a bit longer which is why if the story was self-published, I elected to shift those stories into my #SelfPubFantasyMonth TBR this year and anchour my readings between both events rather than try to accomplish the impossible and read everything in May! I hope everyone has been enjoying the journey I’ve been taking into exploring the genre of Fantasy but also with my #25PagePreviews which give an early impression of where I was settling into a story, sorting out the writer’s style and getting a true feel of the characters and the direction a story would take thereafter if I were to continue to read the book in full. Most of those preview posts will yield a full review eventually and until that happens, I hope you’ll take time to go back and see what I first felt was the story’s opening perspective for me as a reader.

Aside from the fact it initially felt as if this quarter of the year was as taxing as the first quarter, you’ll find I had a wonderful experience with Harlequin Heartwarming novelists and stories; discovered a wicked lovely new narrator (Jenn Lee) and found quite a bit to talk about during the quarter as the posts populated into my blog. Especially as one particular story from the Contemporary mainstream side of Harlequin Suspense left me hugging the book and grateful to have crossed paths with the author (Anna J. Stewart) for giving us such a riveting story as Undercover Heat!

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BOOK REVIEWS:

Undercover Heat by Anna J. Stewart

The book which stole my heart this month was Undercover Heat!! I had no CLUE how much I would fall for this story and how dearly I wanted MORE from Stewart after I finished it!! I have a soft spot in my readerly heart for stories which involve the culinary arts – a lot of what I watch on television involve cooking or baking in some way or another; from fiction to reality series, if it involves the kitchen, odds are in good favour I’m a ready fan! Laughs.

However, when it comes to reading Contemporary Romantic Suspense, I tend to be quite particular about the kind of stories I like to read in that genre and most of the authors I previously found to love in that niche were from ChocLitUK as they didn’t tip me past what I could handle as a reader in regards to visual violence or explicit content. When it came time to read my first forays into Harlequin Contemporary Suspense – I believed I could handle Stewart’s stories because I have come to LOVE her Western Contemporary Romances through the Blackwell Brothers. This was a year where I could focus more on her stories from Heartwarming and through Harlequin, however, this particular novel stole my heart and gave me that kind of read where you forsake time and just hug so close into a novel you cannot peel yourself out of it until its done!? Yes! That kind of book!! I LOVED it. #sogood

This novel is definitely for anyone who gets caught inside the movement of a service at any restaurant they dine as Stewart has created such a lively environment for us to explore! From how the staff interacts with each other to how they put the food out the kitchen; all those details you ache to know about whenever your eating out is included. Whilst it also gives you the strong impression that all kitchens big or small should operate on the efficiency and expedited scale as True! (big smiles) However, its not without its hidden dangers and bouts of suspenseful shock which make you itch to turn the pages! Especially when Stewart conceived of the idea for the refrigerator scene – she definitely knew how to stop your pulse for a few beats!

I positively loved how Stewart wrote the reaction of Tatum to Cruz on their first meetings! She is all full of bluster and anger and she convinces you of her innocence right there on the spot! Especially since half of what he’s accusing her of makes no sense if you factor in what we were already told about Tatum and the reasons why this restaurant of hers is an anchour in a sea of chaos which has become the full of her life now. Just to see them spar with each other and to see how they both want to assert themselves as having the ‘upper hand’ in the circumstances which threw them together is the kind of wicked folly you love to read in a Romantic Suspense novel! All fire without the ice!

And, of course being a police procedural, murder mystery and dramatic crime drama addict such as I am – I LOVED all the pop cultural references Stewart included which of course referenced the series you’d expect her to mention which are super popular on television! I definitely knew why she said what she said on their behalf because it fit so well into the aesthetic of what those series entail!

I particularly liked how this started out as a novel set in a restaurant and how the entire plot revolves around True. You feel as if you’ve lived every inch of those days at True yourself – getting to know the people in the kitchen and the ways in which True itself is a destination for foodies who want to experience their food on a high level of execution which True provides. It is a family in of itself where everyone connected to the restaurant truly feels a familiarity with each other and has a legacy of protectiveness about the place which even Cruz couldn’t deny himself. I loved this aspect of the novel and as you peel back the layers of the suspense brooding and building in the background – you see the incredible breadth of story Stewart gave us all.

The dizzying effect of unravelling the plot right alongside Stewart was brilliant on the part of how tightly she wound the suspenseful mystery behind the restaurant and of whom she put into position to have the great effect on the reader once the truth let out! I was beyond captivated by the plot and the persons she ferreted out at the end. It is definitely the kind of police procedural you hope to find and one that you love afterwards for having read. The ending of course was a complete nail-biter and I loved reading it because it was such a fitting conclusion to the story!! Definitely an #unputdownable read!!

-quoted from my review of Undercover Heat

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The second novel I read by Ms Stewart was Colton on the Run – whilst I was attempting to conclude reading her Contemporary Suspense novels this Spring 2021, when I entered into her Honour Bound series, I found myself back-peddling a bit. Mostly because compared to the two Colton novels I had read, the Honour Bound series was pushing me a bit for content and storylines. I found that series especially difficult to read and it is part of my #SummerReads to finally resolve the issues I had with that series and either, post what I was able to read within it or conclude the stories I have on my shelf — as by the end of May, I wasn’t sure how to continue reading Honour Bound.

However, Colton on the Run was just as wicked good as Undercover Heat but of the two, the first one just stole my heart left, right and centre! Laughs. 

I fell hard for the relationship being built between Leo and Skye – especially before her previous life started to re-appear in the timeline of their time together on the ranch. You have this wonderful vacuum of time and space to be with them outside of the world round them where you truly get o know them and to see how their starting to come together as a couple even before anything is decided between them on that level of commitment. Leo’s ranch like their relationship is a work in progress throughout the story – and despite hearing about Gwen and Lacey, they sadly never made an appearance. The Colton’s themselves felt a bit distant to me except for Phoebe who like Skye instantly leaves an impression! I know this is one story inside a larger series, which is why the Coltons felt further afield from me but Stewart gives you a few inklings of insight into who they are even if their part of the story is not as important to know right now as to be rooted into the threads of where Leo, Skye, Ollie and Trapper found their lives merging together.

Blessedly the direction of the suspense behind Skye’s disappearance didn’t go the way I feared it might have gone. There were many moments where I wasn’t sure if I could handle what happened to Skye as there was a moment of uncertainty about why she was taken and ultimately what had fuelled that abduction. The ending resolutions were fitting to the suspense Stewart built for us but I also felt were more realistically compelling than anything I worried about discovering. It was highlighting a humbling truth about what small and large communities are dealing with on a national level and how difficult it is to put a stop to what is going on behind the scenes of our lives.

My favourite part though of course in the ending is Phoebe’s intervention and how sometimes the worst things you worry about aren’t worth allowing to fester into a conclusion you can’t live with in the long term. Overall, this is a wonderfully compelling Romantic Suspense novel with a lot of full-on psychological suspense percolating in the background. Thankfully, despite the flashbacks on Skye’s memories and what happened to her before she met Leo – Stewart made choices in both content and scene descriptions which made this an enjoyable read rather than one that pushed me too far to enjoy. This is definitely for readers who regularly read missing person stories and lost identity suspense novels – the cuttingly realistic vibe Stewart provides throughout Colton on the Run will leave you engaged until the very last page!

-quoted from my review of Colton on the Run

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SPOTLIGHTS | #25PAGEPREVIEW | OTHER CONTENT:

GUEST FEATURES:

Three Makes A Family by Cari Lynn WebbA Marriage of Inconvenience by Amy VastineUnconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott

As you know by now, Harlequin Heartwarming are my go-to reads whenever I want to soak into a Contemporary Romance and find myself entranced by the author’s story. It is an imprint I love to champion on Jorie Loves A Story and it is a series of authors I am loving to read as a reader, too. It broke my heart a bit to realise I wasn’t able to read Three Makes A Family and A Marriage of Inconvenience this month! I can’t even explain how disheartened I was when I realised it and how disappointed I was as well. I tried to find extra bits of time to soak into the stories but in all honestly, between my work life and other things going on at the time of the blog tours, these previews were all I could give and wait for a better time where I could re-read the stories.

As announced in this retrospective, I am reading Heartwarming novels this Summer (and most likely this Autumn as I have a lot to read!) and these two are part of that self-directed readathon! I love the authors styles and I know I will enjoy drinking in these stories. They are also part of the Blackwell Brothers & Sisters which is why you might find their names familiar to my blog.

I hosted a few poet tours this Spring and I found those tours to be a bit challenging as both a reader and as an interviewer. You’ll have to visit those posts to find out why the topics and subjects of those poetic collections were on the more difficult side of the poetic ledger for me as a poetic reader whilst I hope what the authors shared themselves will inspire my readers as their stories are truly meant to be heard.

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One difficulty I encountered whilst hosting my own #UnconquerableRAL for Unconquerable Sun was the story itself! I hadn’t foreseen that to be the issue but as I was reading and listening to the audiobook, I noticed I was being pulled out of its context faster than any other Space Opera story I have attempted to read in the past several years! So much so, I wasn’t sure how to address both the book and the RAL! I did change it to be ‘open-ended’ but of course, if you would have asked me in Spring if I would still not have picked up the book by Mid-Summer, I would have laughed! I mean, that would have sounded so improbable!? Why wouldn’t I be able to reconnect with the story? And, alas, so it stands – I was able to announce my #UnconquerableRAL but nothing has happened past the announcement or the brief updates on Twitter. I do hope I can re-settle into it by September/October, even if I find myself ready to discuss it by #SciFiMonth, I’d be happy!

A second issue I had this month was finding that NOT all authors I had earmarked to read over the years of being a book blogger were EVER meant to be in my readerly life! It happened for the first time when I was on the blog tour for Kate in Waiting and it happened a second time where I actually removed myself from another #TheWriteReads blog tour without posting anything at all. I was truly gobsmacked by what I learnt about both authors and about the content of their stories – to say I was thoroughly disappointed was putting it mildly! With Kate in Waiting I spoke about what I found disturbing about that book on my post to the brink I am not going to broach those concerns here. For those who read and loved the book, that’s great but for me? It just wasn’t my cuppa.

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BOOK REVIEWS:

The Marvelwood Magicians by Diane ZahlerThe Fighter of Aldea by Kira WestonMean Spirit by E. Chris Garrison

Where do I even begin!? #WyrdAndWonder this year was both wicked INSPIRING for me as a reader and a bit stressful as I knew some of the hours I thought I might have had to spend on reading were slowly slipping away from me! I felt I accomplished the best work/life balance this year by far during #WyrdAndWonder, too!! I was able to regularly post and regularly read which made me a wickedly happy book blogger and reader but of course, when the ending hours came for the event itself, I realised I didn’t have a way to finish the last week of posts I had scheduled to run during the last week of May! Those posts and the last two reviews I had planned were attempted to be fulfilled the first week of June but I hadn’t been aware then what would happen in June overall; 29 out of 30 days were spent dealing with intense lightning storms which not only took my connectivity but during them part of my equipment had to be replaced (blessedly my service provider picked up the bill for that repair job!). I finally resolved to include a #WyrdAndWonder week of posts & reviews within my planned #SelfPubFantasyMonth posts this September, 2021. It felt rather fitting to do that as one of the reviews is for E. Chris Garrison’s new novel Trans Witch!

I started Wyrd And Wonder off on seeking stories from my NetGalley shelf which were not yet read and reviewed. One of which was from my backlogue with NetGalley, which was Dalya and the Magic Ink Bottle which was a purchase request at my regional library. I devoured it! It was beyond brilliant and I loved how it was told as it was a Middle Grade Fantasy novel. I am quite particular about how I like my MG and YA Fantasies to be written as especially their not targeted directly to adults but to younger readers even though I fully celebrate readers of any age finding these stories! I followed my readings of this novel with a listening of the audiobook (also via NetGalley) The Marvelwood Magicians and I must confess, it eclipsed my JOY! 

When it came to explaining where the Marvelwoods fit into travelling families – I appreciated the time Zahler took to explain the differences between: Artistes vs travellers vs Gypsies. The Marvelwood’s themselves feel they are Artistes who travel from venue to venue rather than the other two labels which might be better suited to others. There was a lot of thoughtfulness taken to knit out the details of this novel and to give us such a convicting dramatic story.

For me, the greater theme appeared at the ending – the sense of restoration and redemption. It is best seen through Mattie’s Mum and Da – of how their own story is threaded into Mattie’s and how as a family there is a lot of personal growth happening outside the context of the suspense and the main story’s central arc. By the time I reached the conclusion, I admit, I wasn’t ready to say ‘goodbye’ as this had become an #unputdownable read of mine this #WyrdAndWonder! I wanted to hug the book not depart the lives of the Marvelwood’s! It is so sombering to let yourself detach from characters you’ve become so attached too – which is why I was hoping this might become either a series and/or a duology. Where there could be another installment featuring this family and the rest of the characters who became dear friends on this journey with us!?

I appreciated her turns of phrase, too. She had a way of developing this visual awareness of what was happening in-scene by cleverly phrasing what she was referencing. For instance, how she took to describing the family’s mode of transportation and why it was an older model for its kind. Those little nuanced touches of expression added to the joy of listening to the narration. Especially as Zimmerman had such a clean delivery – you could tell she loved the source material as it reflected in how she narrated the novel.

-quoted from my review of The Marvelwood Magicians

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The second story I wanted to highlight today is The Fighter of Aldea as this YA Fantasy truly took me by surprise for the depth of centre Weston was able to take me inside her world-building as much as this whole first novel of a series was anchoured through establishing us directly into her characters’ dual journeys as they embarked on an adventure neither of them saw coming! It was a Low Fantasy novel as well which is new for me as much as it was set in a time period on Earth after all the electricity had failed to regenerate! It is one of those stories that takes you by surprise and you just don’t want it to end!

I was truly humbled and grateful she saw my post on Twitter and gave me the hope I needed most as it was a hard book to *stop reading* as my heart wanted to continue the journey with these characters wherein she mentioned I could receive the sequel as soon as it was ready to be shared! This was one of the authors I found on Twitter originally and this was one of the stories I hadn’t yet had the chance to fully embrace until this year… so to hear from her meant the world to me as I was so caught in her world, I was not yet ready to depart it!

Interestingly enough, it is the choice in year which I was struck by most – Weston used the year (2020) when Aldea experienced their great Shift as it is referenced. It struck me dearly because of course in our own reality and timeline that marked a year of great change for the world. Not an electrical shift but it definitely put public health and choices in personal social engagements into focus as much as how some basic necessities in public hygiene and cleanliness had grown lax or disappeared completely due to complacency. In other words, Aldea might have shifted two hundred years into a continuous non-electrical future but the truer curiosity is what has our world shifted into now? This is another layer of reason why I love Speculative Fiction and the questions those stories propose to us all to contemplate.

There is a beautiful analogy shared between Daniel and Lydia about how blessed they are for the world in which Aldea exists compared to the world in which their ancestors had known themselves; considering the end of war, technological advanced societies and the ceasefire of crimes by way of conventional weapons which are no longer manufactured in their timeline due to the erasure of electric and technologic engineering. It showed how sometimes living without is a better gain than to live with everything where there is neither want or need but simply a surplus of whatever can become invented and constructed. Whether positive or negative or in the marked margins betwixt and between; sometimes, the future you cannot foresee which alters a course of History might be the better future in which to thrive. At least, this is what I was deducing by the conversation these two friends had shared – both through their thoughts, their conversation and their memories. Except of course, no future is perfect and theirs has a hidden secret nemesis which I felt might re-hinge their world into a precarious balance between light and dark inasmuch as any other era and generation had to fight through themselves.

The competitiveness in this world is quite stellar. They host annual competitions which showcase the skill set of everyone in the village every year. This particular year when their both sixteen Daniel and Lydia find themselves in the interesting position of being winners in their own fields of choice. For Daniel it is the art and skills needed as a farmer and for Lydia, it is her deft courage as a fighter and her mindfulness of fighting by not allowing another opponent to outwit or outmatch your own strengths but rather capitalise on what you know about defense and offense in a way that offsets their own advantages against you. Watching them both compete was brilliant but it was how Weston pulled you into the contests themselves – as if you were also a spectator in the stands, cheering them on and hoping for an outcome that would grant each of them to be a champion! The fever of those sequences was quite high and seeing how Weston arranged the ordering of the contests was quite cleverly spun as you didn’t wish to exit before seeing the final showdowns!

-quoted from my review of The Fighter of Aldea

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If I felt my heart had already broken a bit by concluding Marcus Lee and Edale Lane’s trilogies (although, some solace came knowing Lane’s trilogy will be a quartet!) — I was a mess of emotions going into reading Mean Spirit as this was another trilogy I was dearly emotionally attached inside and wasn’t sure how I would breakaway from it knowing this was the final installment! Of course, one bright light was finding out Trans Witch exists in the same universe of the Tipsy Fairy Tales, so for me, that was enough to bolster me a bit after I concluded Mean Spirit.

NOTE: I am a personal friend of Ms Chris as our paths have continued to cross over the years since we first met through Seventh Star Press, the former publisher of her stories. However, as you might have noticed by now, having a personal connection doesn’t interfere with my abililty to give an honest review and impression of the stories I am reading but for anyone new to my blog I wanted to re-mention this connection.

The Tipsy Fairy Tales were the series wherein I truly honed in on the cheekiness of Ms Chris’s humour and the fantastical ways her mind has invented this Urban Fantasy trilogy! She has a way of using modern familiarities to interweave into her fantastical world-building in such a way you feel as if you’re living in a hybrid world between our reality and the realities of her characters! It is wickedly dimensional and it involves the fey, too!

I always hope my reviews on behalf of her stories will help other readers who love Urban Fantasy seek her out as she started off publishing these through an Indie publisher but she is now fully Self Published and this is why I shifted gears into finalising my review for Trans Witch during #SelfPubFantasyMonth, once the storms of June & July erased any chance I had of finishing reading and listening to Trans Witch on audiobook!

One thing I LOVE about how Ms Chris writes the action sequences in her stories is how extraordinary these adventures become because her characters get to do things most of us could never do in our own realities. Such as drive through gates, ignore traffic signals and otherwise get into a bit of mischief and mayhem whilst trying to save the day, the world or someone’s life. Skye has a propensity for having trouble find her in the same ways trouble finds October Daye. And, therein lies the truer reason why I know why Urban Fantasy appeals to me as much as it does – it is a wonderfully refreshing segue into stories which have roots in mythologies, legends or lore but the writers re-spin those tales and otherworldly references into cheeky exploits of adventurous fiction wrapped inside an Urban Fantasy wrapping.

Part of this story brokered on Lite Horror and parts of it were hard to take-on because I have felt so emotionally connected to this series start to finish. You get invested into Skye’s life and because of that, everything that she feels you feel as well. At the back of this tale though is a romance – as Skye has been trying to find both herself and a balance in life which isn’t limited to her duties in the otherworld which begs her to return at a whim. For Skye, family – the one she’s found and cobbled together over the years and the romance she shared with Annabelle are her homing beacons. She was never one to trust easily but there is something to be said for finding unconditional love and support at moments where life doesn’t give you time to blink. I felt the ending in this third installment was the best possible outcome for the journey we’ve taken into the series.

Ms Chris has incredible continuity – not just through the Tipsy Fairy Tale series but through all the stories which interconnect into this series as well. It is quite the large universe of stories and characters (as the Road Ghosts series is inter-threaded as well) – seeing how she’s brought everyone back to centre in this story was just wicked brilliant! I even loved seeing Frannie again as I felt she had a bum rap all along and it was good to see her step into her own so to speak at the height of the frenzy! I am so grateful I had the chance to read Blue Spirit all those years ago because it lead me into a series I am blessed to have read start to finish.

I consider this series pro-positive for both LGBTQIA+ and Allies alike, as everything pertinent to this side of Skye’s life is told organically and shifts between being humourous and serious, depending on the nature of the exchange or the situation at hand. This is positive I think as it has a very realistic vibe attached to it. Skye is not afraid to speak her mind or to live her authentic truth, even if others are not as prepared to accept her on her terms, she still lives her life owning the truth she has within her and that’s something to applaud. She has her faults (who doesn’t?) but her strengths are her willingness to take-on challenges head-on and remain faithful to those she cares about whilst sorting out mysteries of the unexplained.

-quoted from my review of Mean Spirit

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SPOTLIGHTS | #25PAGEPREVIEW | OTHER CONTENT:

GUEST FEATURES:

You might have already picked up on the fact I am giving a digest retrospective on #WyrdAndWonder right now as I am already planning to fully delve back into the event and my posts for it this September where I will be releasing a week full of posts & reviews for my conclusion to the event properly. This time round, I wanted to highlight a few of my favourite reads and talk about a few of the posts which ran during the event itself.

What I wanted to mention now is I was grateful to Imyril for understanding why I had to withdraw from the group read for The Bone Shard Daughter and how touched I was for all the readers in the RAL to visit with me or talk with me whilst I visited with them on their blogs about how I had to exit the RAL but how they respected that choice. Most found the issues I had a bit disturbing too but others didn’t find those reasons to exit the book or the RAL itself. I respected their choices as much as they respected mine. For me, as a reader, whenever I encounter something like that – it is best to make the choice to exit a story for personal reasons for encountering content I am not able to read past than to stay within a story that would affect me more adversely lateron.

When I previewed my review for Lady August, I was going to continue to read the story – however, after I interviewed the author, this is the first time I can say the conversation changed my opinion and impression of the story. I knew from that conversation that this was one book this year I would not be concluding and that whatever I thought I would enjoy about her stories was not meant to be found. It was disappointing but in some ways, I was glad for the conversation – as without interactions with writers about their stories, how are any of us to know truly which story is a good fit for us and which one is not? In regards to knowing prior to reading the story for ourselves.

I will admit, the one book I wanted to read this May was the one I had to push forward – Into the Heartland as I just lost too many hours to appreciate it. I am hoping to read it either this Summer or in early Autumn as it is a Historical I felt I might truly love reading and I look forward to bring my reactions to Jorie Loves A Story.

Overall, May for me was a wonderful holiday spent reading and devouring Fantasy and Speculative Fiction – whilst co-hosting an event I helped develop and organise. Every May feels like a regeneration of connecting to a genre I love and find a passion for exploring. I hope as you click through my posts you’ll find a #nextread amongst what I read myself and if you’ve read one of those stories, kindly add some notes under those posts, as I’d love to hear your thoughts, too!

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BOOK REVIEWS:

The Fall of Mrs Parsons by Phil Geoffrey Bond

I had such an emotional reaction to The Fall of Mrs Parsons – it was such an unexpected short story and the narrator emoted and evoked so much of this story through her narration, I had her as a featured guest during @SatBookChat!

It was a hauntingly emotional listen – as for most of the story you are not entirely aware of the circumstances and when you find out what those circumstances are – it is a very emotional reaction you find yourself having as Ms Lee’s voice is such a soulful evocation of Mrs Parsons’ life! I was truly anchoured into this short story and for me, the story itself felt so much larger than the shortness it actually was – the depth Mr Bond was able to take us as listeners (or as readers) is quite incredible. He has a conveyance of endearing us to Mrs Parsons that is top notch but it was through Ms Lee’s performance of his story which I felt was even more evocative because of how inter-personal this story became and how layered Ms Lee was able to contribute to Mr Bond’s story. In essence it was #unputdownable and memorable all way round! She is also a new favourite narrator on my long-list!

This is a spoken narrative performance – of a one woman’s play so to speak. If I hadn’t seen Holland Taylor’s play last year, I might not have had a frame of reference in which to augment my impressions – however, Lee like Taylor has a particular knack for etching out a person’s character, drawing the audience into their lives and letting the listener form their own impressions thereafter. They embody these people just long enough to give us a fullness of their persons but it is how they’ve articulated their lives which speaks volumes in the end because once you reach the last moments you’ll spend with Mrs Parsons (or with Ann Richards) you’ll find yourself in need of wanting more of their lives; more of their souls and in essence find yourself bereft for their absence.

Lee breathes such wonderful life into Mrs Parsons; as she’s a woman of a certain age, having lived a considerable amount of time within the confines of her marriage and of life itself. You can tell how long she’s been around simply through her own observational notes about life whilst she’s out and about in towne but moreso than that, it how Lee presents Mrs Parsons to us, the audio listeners. She etches out this woman who is hankering after connecting to someone who will understand the discourse of what she’s trying to relate to us. She has a lot to say and a lot to work through – none of which is easily unpacked as Bone had layered her story lovingly well. Lee, of course, took his words and ran with them which made how she articulated the character of Mrs Parsons into a work of joy for the listener.

I do not emotionally feel crushed by stories very often. Most recently it is my binge watching joys of White Collar which has me in full remorse and grief of having to ‘let go’ of a series six seasons into its finale. At the current moment, I’m two episodes away into finding out the fate of the characters and especially of Neal himself. Emotionally I’m distraught and overcome – which is the same state of mind I found myself perplexed to be inside when I came to the final curtain on The Fall of Mrs Parsons. As forementioned on my review, this is a story which pierces your soul and it has a way of triggering an interpersonal response in the listener. This is fuelled by how Lee performed the story and how she interpeted how Mrs Parson’s was meant to be performed. Again, her and Holland Tayler ace narrative performances such as this and it was an honour to listen to Lee perform The Fall of Mrs Parsons.

-quoted from my review of The Fall of Mrs Parsons

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In regards to Ms Kincaid’s novel, I was entertained and I enjoyed the stay I had inside it but there were moments where I felt perhaps a different choice could have been taken to tell the story. I found myself both compelled by what I found inside this Cosy Mystery and a bit curious about some of the directional choices of the story as well. Overall, by the time I concluded it I had conflicting thoughts about what my overall exit impression was on the story and of course, of where we would be continuing next with the sequel in 2022. On the other hand, I had a good time speaking with the author during @SatBookChat even though that convo ended much too abruptly due to the fact I didn’t get her final tweets until an hour or so lateron. Which is a quirk of hosting Twitter chats!!

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SPOTLIGHTS | #25PAGEPREVIEW | OTHER CONTENT:

An Alaskan Homecoming by Beth Carpenter

The one story I wanted dearly to read and savour this month was An Alaskan Homecoming! And, yet my readings of this story were clipped short by a series of consecutive lightning storms which impeded my readerly life throughout June. On top of which, June brought 29 days out of 30 of lightning storms throughout the month whilst I had 10x days of dysconnectivity due to issues with my service provider. Oy!

This is one of the Heartwarming stories I am queuing to read this Summer and early Autumn during my Heartwarming readthon! I love Carpenter’s series and of course, anytime I can go off to Alaska is a winning kind of story for me!! I am always so intrigued by life up there and the scenery is breathtaking as a reader, too! Who wouldn’t want to read about Alaska as it truly is an incredible place to live from what I can gather in the lower 48!

I personally love how she entreats you to find rooting in her stories by giving you a strong impression of her characters straight-off the bat! You get to find out her character’s motivations and what has caused this new change in their lives — or what they might want to work through as the story progresses forward. In this instance, it did not take too long to see the overbearing presence of Rowan’s Mum in her daughter’s life – as she barely gets to re-adjust to being back on the ground after a long flight when her Mum is hounding all phones and methods of communication to intersect a moment of time to speak to Rowan. Just reading about it made me feel a migraine emerging because goodness, what kind of mother does that?! Seriously! Even when I was on long-haul flights or had multi-flight exchanges – my parents were especially kind and patient to wait for me to ‘catch-up’ to where I arrived especially as its harder the more time zones you crossover!

Carpenter also brought in some trivia about Japan and how the life Rowan leads in Japan re-relates back into her time spent in Alaska. I must admit, all that talk about cheese had me hankering for some myself – as two vices in my life are always cheese and bread! I mean, who wouldn’t crave either one of those on any given day?! Laughs. I can’t wait to see how we continue to insert our feet into Rowan and Zack’s lives whilst sorting out the lengths Rowan’s Mum is going to go to ensure she oversteps her own interests by causing more grief in her daughter’s life. I already knew she rubbed me the wrong way but of course, I couldn’t help but remain curious to see how far she’d take her need to control Rowan’s life and if at some point, Rowan might find her own voice to quell the control her mother takes over her and her affairs. As that to me would be a wicked good scene!

I was enjoying the ways in which Carpenter was aligning me into this story – how she was moving between Rowan and Zack’s lives and how everything was starting to find foundation in how both of them would start to interact with each other as well. Plus, there is something to be said for how whenever someone sets plans in their life, life has a way of giving them something else to chew on to see if those premade plans are truly what they want out of their life! I love finding stories which curate a path where characters can muse about another route to take and to see their lives from a different perspective – I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy my time spent in this novel and seeing how Carpenter ties it all together in the end.

-quoted from my #25pagePreview of An Alaskan Homecoming

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Meanwhile, whilst I was disappointed about lightning storms (though I had no idea how bad they would become and be over June & July!) – I submitted a purchase request for The West End Girls with my local library as I knew as soon as I hosted this blog tour, I wanted to read that story! Mind you, I hosted the tour for the sequel but go with it — the author was lovely to talk too and I felt for the first time in a long while I might have found someone who understood my love of war dramas but someone who could write a story within the war era I could read without feeling emotionally crushed and destroyed. I’ve had to curb reading a LOT of war dramas in recent years because I reached that point where I couldn’t handle the grittier ones which were being told or the ones that took us too far afield into the battles themselves. I wanted to find war era stories but finding the right story and the writers writing stories I could handle nearly proved impossible. But, alas, I found Ms Roberts!

The library not only purchased her novel but I finally have the book on hand to read! I cannot wait as I truly want to see what it is like to read a war era novel but find it uplifting rather than depressingly draining as I have in the past with many of the stories I used to read.

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The one story I was most disappointed by turnt out to be a DNF which was for Sleeping Beauty and the Cursed Code as I felt this could have been accomplished better than what was written. I’ll let my post stand for where my disagreements were with the context of the story itself but sometimes this does happen. A story you get excited to read becomes one that just isn’t your cuppa.

This was also the month where I interviewed Ms Michaels and realised her style of telling stories wasn’t a good match for me as a reader and I was thankful I had the conversation to better understand what I might find in her stories and where her opinions on some topics were seated.

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Shifting Gears & Celebrating Summer events:

This Summer, I endeavour to participate in quite a few Summery events – the first one kicks off this August and all my fellow Janeites & Austenites might want to take stock of what is happening both on my blog and on Roof Beam Reader’s blog! Whilst I have a personal readathon of reading Harlequin Heartwarming stories & series; some of which I was only able to offer a quick #25PagePreview of during blog tours this year (or last year) and others I have had on my bookshelf awaiting my eyes and heart to absorb! I had hoped to be further along with those readings by now but as this post explains every which way to Sunday, the one thing I cannot circumvent in my life is mother nature and directly the fierce lightning storms of Summer!

As the Harlequin Heartwarming readathon is a personal endeavour that will become an evolving readathon of posts & reviews throughout August & September and perhaps a bit into October as our weather doesn’t generally ‘cool off’ during the same months as others. Thereby, for me my Heartwarming reads are going to carry me straight into the crisp & cool weather of Autumn which might extend into November this year as honestly I don’t foresee a proper Autumn with Summer lashing out its worst on such a fierce schedule of heat, humidity & storms!

I decided to hold-off announcing #MyYASummer until next weekend and I might tuck in an update about my Heartwarming readathon at that time as well. For now, its time to celebrate and champion my favourite Austen event which is AUSTEN IN AUGUST.

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Read the Announcement of Chapter Breaks for the Group RAL: Persuasion

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[ Stories of Austen on my #AustenInAugustRBR TBR ] 

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen [group RAL]
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen, narrated by Mike Read (audiobook) [Scribd/NetGalley]
  • Suddenly Mrs Darcy by Jenetta James
  • Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard
  • Miss Darcy Falls in Love by Sharon Lathan
  • Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl by The Quill Collective (audiobook)

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[ Stories inspired by the Regency and/or Austen on my TBR ] 

  • To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters
  • The Earl’s Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter
  • Lord Fenmore’s Wager by Alissa Baxter

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[ Posts in Conjunction with my readings & reviews ] 

  • Recently Read stories in Austen’s After Canon
  • The After Canon series I desire to Read
  • Seeking Austen on Audio: A New Appreciation *for Room Beam Reader, guest post
  • Thoughts in Motion: Impressions after Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion

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My topic for my guest post this year for Adam @ Roof Beam Reader whose the original host of Austen in August I’ve always supported every Summer he’s been at the helm or one of his co-hosts were as well will be exploring Austen in Audiobook. It is a topic which has come into my mind to ink out due to my interactions with the Quill Collective and in reading after canon stories about Austen’s canon. In fact, ironically or not, I’ve had a lovely purview of Austen from an after canon perspective which was equally a topic I was considering to write about this year but chose instead to focus on my affinity of affection for her stories on audio and perhaps, offer to write a guest post next August to tackle my passage into her after canons!

As you can see, I’ve chosen stories I haven’t had the proper chance to finish reading as much as I elected to read the one story which has eluded me as a Janeite! That title of course is Persuasion! I love the fact Adam has given us a readerly guide in how to approach reading the text and I, for one am grateful for the chapter breaks as I’ll be using those as readerly update markers on Jorie Loves A Story this August. I know Adam has inked out two update posts himself but I’m going to give myself more leeway to post more frequently as I’ve missed the chance to blog this Summer due to the storms which have erased both my readerly life and my blogging life. Your patience in awaiting my return has not gone unnoticed!

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*UPcoming & *current* blog & Twitter milestones:

(celebrating my 8th Year as a book blogger and joyful tweeter : dates to remember!)

I created my blog on the 31st of March, 2013 – my blogoversary!

I launched it LIVE to the world on 6th August, 2013 – my blog’s birthday!

I waited til the 13th of November, 2013 to join Twitter – my #twitterversary!

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To help celebrate my #blogbirthday this August – I’ll be tweaking, blogging and finishing my edits for my *End of the Year Surveys* – thereby allowing me to dig into the past years which were unable to be featured previously and will be time capsules of the recent past about the stories and authors I loved discovering, reading and spending time with as a reader! Stay tuned for these special posts throughout the month!

However, if you were to have told me I’d be celebrating EIGHT years back in [2013] now in [2021] I might not have felt it possible! It has been an incredible journey and despite the fact a lot of times this year has felt like I was losing my rhythm as a book blogger and finding it harder to both blog and read – the joys of what this journey has given me continue to double every year I am online. The stories I’ve read, the characters whose lives I’ve felt dearly attached inside and the writers, themselves who have given us the stories to read — all have become etched fixtures on my heart. To extend that journey into #bookTwitter and to find engagements via live convos both on my main feeds of @joriestory and my chat’s feeds of @SatBookChat has been a humbled blessing as well.

Each year, I feel the growth I’ve experienced as both an inquisitively curious reader who continues to pursue the stories and settings and genres which encourage her bookish heart as much as the growth I’ve experienced as a writer whose been moonlighting as a book blogger. All eight years combined have given me so much in return just by taking this journey and adventure into the book blogosphere and the interweaving threads of #bookTwitter, that I am quite positive I never could have foreseen all the blessings which have entered my life as a first year book blogger as I do now.

I openly thank all the book bloggers who have followed me and conversed with me – both on my blog, their blogs or on #bookTwitter, as I’m especially chatty on there on a regular basis when lightning doesn’t kick me offline! Ha!! As much as a big HUG of gratitude to all the lovely writers, who have given me their time, their conversation and their stories. Without them, this blog would not have a purpose and without the stories & characters, this reader would not have something to consistently celebrate and converse about herself. Towards that end, I am humbled and blessed by this community of readers, book bloggers, writers and story-crafters who endeavour to give us a wonderful bounty of tales, characters and genres in which to explore and converse about together.

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An update about [ Sat Book Chat 2021 ]

#SatBookChat Guest Authors badge for 2020 created by Jorie in Canva.

  • 16th JANUARY – Julianna Morris feat. Hearts of Big Sky series by Harlequin Heartwarming
  • 30th JANUARY – Anna J. Stewart feat. “Bride on the Run”
  • 27th MARCH – Anna J. Stewart feat. her Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels
  • 17th APRIL – T.S. Krupa feat. “Big City Dreams”
  • 5th JUNE – Harper Kincaid feat. “To Kill A Mocking Girl”
  • 12th JUNE – Jenn Lee feat. “The Fall of Mrs Parsons”, audiobook narrator

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I’ve fallen behind on hosting #SatBookChat this [2021] as much as I’ve fallen behind on posting the reviews for the books we’ve discussed during our chats. Last year, especially was a hard year for me in regards to reading as I had too many migraines and I lost traction within the context of the stories I was attempting to read. It was my intention to bring myself current with those stories long before now but as Summer eases into Autumn, I’m hoping I can post regular reviews on Saturdays which will feature a #SatBookChat author’s novel and a newly archived transcript of their #SatBookChat conversation.

I LOVE hosting #SatBookChat wherein I get to discussion the heart of the story and the inspiration behind the writer’s process of telling that story to the audience who follows my chats on #bookTwitter. I’d like to continue to see this chat expand and grow in its own community of chatters but for the past several months, I’ve struggled to host the chat due to a) going back to work full-time since February, 2021 and b) dealing with a barrage of lightning storms this Summer (ie. June-August) which has made scheduling the chat quite difficult!

I have more authors I want to invite into #SatBookChat and I have plans to grow the chat past its current situation as well in future. Until those plans take shape, I want to thank everyone who joins us to discuss the stories and to happily interact with the authors who have been featured. I’m also in the process of archiving posts relating to our past #SatBookChat hosts and their stories as well as fully establishing the transcripts to be archived via Moments on the @SatBookChat feeds.

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Remember – EVERYONE is welcome to join us! Kindly follow our tag #SatBookChat and hover round the tag @ 10:45a day of chat as we kick-off the discussions by 11a NYC | 8a LA | 4p UK.

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#MyYASummer badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Come back next week to hear about this lovely Summery event which I am co-hosting with Peyton @ Word Wilderness! I had a slow start due to all the horrid storms affecting my region *but!* I’m determined to spend August-September celebrating YA whilst endeaouring to read new authors!

I did kick-off this lovely event with a review of a genre-bender Sci-Fantasy novel The Twin Stars which went LIVE earlier today on Sunday! This is an incredible debut novel which sets the stage for the forthcoming sequel and conclusion as its a first of a trilogy. This novel is also inclusive of mental health awareness, OCD and anxiety. The ending is a bit darker than the rest of the novel which I wasn’t quite prepared for – however, its the layers within the world-building and how the author took us on the journey inside her world which staid with me the most.

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What I gained by this week’s #TheSundayPost:

Sometimes you have to look ‘back’ before you can look ‘forward’ and that was never more true than it was for me this week as I compiled this week’s Sunday’s Post! For a long while, I thought this year was almost a bit of a washout when it came to reading & blogging until I took stock of what I’ve accomplished (as a reader and as a book blogger) through the journals of this post. I think sometimes as we’re living through life it might feel differently than it would feel if we assembled a retrospective on the hours, days and months we’ve lived.

On the flipside of that, sometimes we have to reflect in order to better process the days we’ve lived and in this direct instance, the stories we’ve read and how impactful those moments and stories were on us at the times in which we read them. On reflection, I realised after I posted this this morning (just before 1p in the afternoon) that whatever I felt I hadn’t accomplished as a reader or as a book blogger pales in comparision to what I had accomplished. A similar realisation as I had found revealled when I did my End of the Year Survey for 2020.

I felt as if I had turnt a page and a corner in my mind and memories about [2021] and for, that was the ultimate blessing and conclusion to writing up this post as it came me such a strong renewal of self and reflection on what I’ve been doing as a reader and inquisitive book blogger. Towards that end, I look forward to seeing what I can do this Summer with my plans for reading and blogging whilst fully ready to embrace the latter half of the year when my favourite seasons arrive: Autumn and Winter!

Perhaps this is a kind reminder to all of us — whenever we think we aren’t doing as much as we think we are what we’re able to do and what we’re able to give to others is sometimes good enough and perhaps means even more than we first realised upon reflection. I know this was true for me and hopefully it might be true for you too.

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What have you been up to the first two quarters of 2021?
Read through my archives for #TheSundayPost

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I am sharing this post through two other weekend link shares:

Stacking the Shelves | The Sunday Salon

NOTE: There was a change of where Stacking the Shelves is hosted in 2021!

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{Sources: All book covers were provided by publishers, authors and/or blog touring companies of whom encourage me to mention them outside my reviews or featured posts. All of the Press Materials are being used with permission. “The Fall of Mrs Parsons” audiobook cover was provided by Audiobookworm Promotions. The blog tour banners for “Fly Free” and “The End of Dreams” was provided by Storytellers on Tour and is used with permission. The book cover for “Georgana’s Secret” was provided by Austenprose and is used with permission. The book cover for “Chaos in Milan” was provided by Tomorrow Comes Media and is used with permission. Book cover for “The Paris Dressmaker” as well as the author photo of Elizabeth Adams were provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and is used with permission. The book covers for “The Soldier’s Unexpected Family”, “Second Chance Cowboy”, “Rescuing the Rancher”, “Catching Mr Right”, “Three Makes Family”, “A Marriage of Inconvenience” and “An Alaskan Homecoming” were provided by Prism Book Tours and are used with permission. Book cover for “Undercover Heat” provided by Anna J. Stewart and is used with permission. Blog News banner provided by Parajunkie Designs and is used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog graphics created in Canva: The Sunday Post badge using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Hope House Press, Denise Chan and Pacto Visual; all monthly banners (January-June) as well as #AustenInAugustRBR 2021 banner, #MyYASummer badge, #SatBookChat badge and the Comment Box banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2021.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 8 August, 2021 by jorielov in #Unboxing BookMail, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Birthdays & Blogoversaries, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Bookish Memes, JLAS Update Post, Jorie Loves A Story, Photography of Jorie, Spontaneous Musings, Stories of Jorie, The Sunday Post




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4 responses to “#TheSundayPost IX | The first two quarters of 2021 : a #bookblogger retrospective! Plus, the return of #AustenInAugustRBR!

  1. I love your insight on how you got through 2020. I feel badly saying this, considering what others have suffered, but 2020 was not that bad for me and my family. It was actually kind of great since we spent more time together as a family, we gained a daughter-in-law, and we enjoyed having a less stressful schedule. In a way, I actually miss quarantine! Sure, there were some challenges, as there are every year, but overall, I think my family and I weathered that storm very, very well.

    When did you do the blog re-do? I love it!

    Also, congrats on eight years of book blogging. That’s a big accomplishment. I’ve loved getting to know you via your blog and the fun comments you make on mine. Keep up the great work!

    Susan
    http://www.blogginboutbooks.com

    Susan (Bloggin' 'bout Books) recently posted: Supernatural (or Not?) Thriller An Entertaining High Seas Yarn
    • Hallo, Hallo Susan,

      My apologies for not being able to respond sooner. Between my insane work schedule (regularly work double shifts), the lightning storms (which regularly disconnect me from my blog) and just life in general… I’ve not been able to duck back online and respond to comments. I appreciated seeing your lovely note though closer to the time you’ve shared it and wanted to respond now, when due to a migraine I had to cut my work day a bit short today.

      I have the same feelings as you do – 2020 was a hard year for my family on a personal level, but in regards to the pandemic itself, we were able to work through those challenges and especially the shortages in resources locally as best as we could as those circumstances arose. Staying socially distant and wearing masks hasn’t been difficult except for when the weather is ridiculously hot and humid! (grr!) I believe we’re one of the few who can say we rode out the worst of it without too many issues in that respect and how thankful we both are for that as it wasn’t true for everyone, sadly.

      I decided to dive into self-designing my blog round the turn of 2021. I’ve had the same design since I launched my blog and started to socially connect on Twitter. I love the original designer and her concept for what I needed at that point in time but this year, feeling more confident in my abilities as a designer using Canva as a wonderful tool and resource; I decided to give it a whirl and was quite impressed with the final results! Thank you so much for being one of the first persons who’ve noticed it and loved it as much as I do!! Your words of praise were such a lift of joy to read!!

      Thank you again for congratulating me on my 8th Year! I’ve just crossed a second milestone this year with my 8th Blog’s Birthday but it went a bit more understated as I just didn’t have the chance to celebrate it this 6th August. My next celebration is the 13th of November when I’ve been on #booktwt for 8 years. Now that I’ve shared a second Sunday Post this past weekend which capitalised on this one, I feel I’ve resolved the angst and issues I felt previously and have come full circle to loving where I am right now with both my blog and my readerly life. As you said, life is always going to have its challenges but its how we choose to go through them and reconcile what we cannot do is what endures.

      I look forward to visiting with you. I’ve been so absent this year in blog visits and I regret that dearly! Thanks for staying with me and giving me such encouraging words whenever you visit. I hope to give you back a bit of the joy you’ve always given me.

  2. Sometimes it does take looking backward to realize what we have accomplished. You have had a strong year so far. I was especially happy to see your participation in Austen in August, one of my favorite events of the year.

    • Hallo, Hallo Deb,

      Sorry it took me a bit to circle back into responding properly. The days are dearly long lately and I had a lot of strife to shift through in August. I was just grateful you had left me a note on my last Sunday’s Post. It was one of those moments where I needed to take stock of things for myself and find a new path forward as I was just feeling one particular way and it wasn’t very agreeable to continue with those thoughts and feelings; esp as someone who loves her blog and had missed her reading life in the capacity she had once had.

      Bless you for giving me a nudge of encouragement and also the hope of realising others are seeing my blog a bit more positively than I had always myself. Did you see my latest Sunday Post? I routed a link to my guest essay for Austen in August. My plans sort of curtailed in August in regards to sharing reviews, etc on my blog but I’ve funnelled those into a special event I’m going to feature on my blog this December; also announced on that Sunday Post!

      The essay I wrote was the highlight of the month for me especially in regards of encouraging others to find their own path into Austen on Audio.

      Thanks again for visiting and sharing your time with me. I appreciated it.

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