Forest Born

Title: Forest Born
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: The Books of Bayern, 4/4
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: September 1, 2009

Note: This post reviews the fourth book of The Books of Bayern series. You may like to read the first three books in the series, The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, and River Secrets before reading this review.

Rinna knows there is something different about herself – but she has no idea what it is, or what it means. Having spent her entire life in the forest, she feels comfortable amongst the trees. She begins to realize that she can listen to the trees, and learn from them. But her abilities go beyond tree-speaking. Like Isi’s animal-speaking, and Enna’s fire-speaking, and Dasha’s water-speaking, Rin learns that she has a speaking power of her own – and it comes with a power more dangerous than she ever could have known.

These three girls she has come to think of as “the fire sisters” set off on a quest of their own when the kingdom of Bayern has been threatened once again. Rin joins them, desperate to get to the bottom of the speaking power rising inside herself. The four women with the speaking powers may be Bayern’s only hope of victory against the kingdoms who plot against them.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

Hello, 2018!

Happy New Year, everyone! I’m sorry I didn’t make my weekly post on Monday (and I haven’t missed a Monday since I started about 16 months ago!), but at least I am posting this week. I was partying too hard welcoming in the new year. (And when I say “partying” I mean “Disneying!”)

As we all turn our attention on the new year, I wanted to share with you some of the books that I am anxiously awaiting to hit the shelves this year. Here are my top YA books for 2018!

A Court of Frost and Starlight, book 4 of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series – May 2018

War Storm, book 4 of the Red Queen series – May 2018

The Orphan’s Wish, book 8 of Hagenheim series – June 2018

Throne of Glass book 7 (Untitled) – Fall 2018

Are any of these books on your To Read list too?

A Christmas Carol

Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Classics, Fantasy, Holiday, Literature
First Published: December 19th, 1843

A Christmas Carol: the timeless classic of Ebenezer Scrooge that has been adapted by film more times that I could count. The story of a changed heart of a man who missed out on the true meaning of life. Ultimately, it is a story of redemption, which is the whole point of Christmas in the first place.

Told in five staves, A Christmas Carol takes us on a fantastic journey with Scrooge as he has one supernatural encounter after another. First he is greeted by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley, who implores him to change his avaricious ways before he meets a similar fate. Later, he is visited by three spirits of Christmas: Past, Present, and Future. These spirits remind him of where he has been, show the beauty and the struggle of the here and now, and hint at the possibilities to come. Scrooge must face his past and improve his present if he is to have a chance of redemption in his future.

I cannot tell you enough how much I love this book. My husband and I read it out loud together every single year, and it is probably my favorite Christmas tradition. I love the old english writing and the nostalgia throughout the story. And the themes of Christ-like love, charity, and redemption are themes that are just as relevant and needed today as they were then.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! And “God bless us, every one.”

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:

Gift ideas for the nerds on your list:

As we rapidly approach Christmas (one week!), I thought a post about last-minute gifts for the readers on your list might be helpful. And so, I present my top picks for the season!

1. The Illustrated Editions of Harry Potter, books 1-3 


These hardcover beauties are number one on my list for obvious reasons. Illustrator Jim Kay has brought the magical world of J.K. Rowling to life in these illustrated editions. They have released one book a year since 2015, so only the first three books (The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Azkaban) are available. Prices have gone up on Amazon, but I have also seen them at Costco for about half-price!

2. Cards Against Muggles 

Cards Against Muggles

Continuing with the Harry Potter themed gifts, I present Cards Against Muggles, a spin-off of the popular game Cards Against Humanity. At $79.95, this is a pricey gift for the muggle in your life, but quite possibly the best gift to put under their tree.

3. Hermione’s Time Turner

This is an authentic recreation of Hermione’s time turner from The Noble Collection. A beautiful gift for the Hermione in your life. $49.00 on Amazon.

4. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Deluxe Pocket Boxed set

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings box set

I cannot go on about this set enough. I got this last year from my hubby and it is my favorite set of any books I own. And at $31.46 at Barnes & Noble, this leatherette-cover set is a steal!

5. Arwen’s Evenstar Pendant 

I got this necklace for Christmas probably fifteen years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite jewelry pieces. This is also by The Noble Collection, for $49.00 on Amazon. If you are shopping for a dude, others ideas are Aragorn’s ring, Gandalf’s pipe, sword replicas… the list goes ever on and on…

6. Tales and Tea Leaves Sampler, inspired by Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings inspired tea

This loose-leaf tea sampler set comes with six different LOTR inspired brews: The White Tea of Kings, Wizard’s Grey, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Enchanted Tea, and Barrels of Tea. I absolutely love this loose-leaf collection! It’s perfect for your all-day marathons.

7. Hobbit Meal Times Clock

Can you tell that I’m obsessed with LOTR yet? Last but not least for your fans of Tolkien, this wooden clock is a fun addition to your kitchen, and $42.00 on Amazon.

8. A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) Leather-Cloth Boxed Set, books 1-5

This is another gorgeous set of books, much like the Lord of the Rings set above. Amazon has this for $57.69. The only drawback in my opinion would be that the series is not yet finished, and I prefer to have complete collections of series, especially collectible editions like this.

9. Dark Horse Deluxe Game of Thrones: Dragon Egg Bookends

From $199.99 on Amazon, these babies are a little bit on the expensive side, but they are sure to make a statement on your bookshelf. I was lucky enough to get these for Christmas last year, and it is such a fun way to display your editions of A Song of Ice and Fire.  

10. The Great Gatsby Book Scarf

The Great Gatsby Book Scarf

This fun literary scarf goes for $48.00 at Storiarts. They have lots of other options, too, including Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, and Shakespeare. In addition to scarves, they also sell coordinating gloves and headbands!

I hope you enjoyed this holiday gift guide for the readers in your life. Happy Holidays!

River Secrets

Title: River Secrets
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: The Books of Bayern, 3/4
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: January 1st, 2006

Note: This post reviews the third book of The Books of Bayern series. You may like to read the first two books in the series, The Goose Girl and Enna Burningbefore reading this review.

The kingdoms of Bayern and Tira are far from peaceful. The war between them a year ago left both kingdoms hating the other. In an attempt toward peace, the kingdoms each send ambassadors to the other kingdom, along with trusted members from court. Razo, friend to his king and queen, cannot for the life of him understand why he has been chosen to be among those sent to Tira. Never having been strong, or tall, or particularly useful in battle, he goes reluctantly, feeling like anyone would have been a better choice than he.

When he arrives in Tira, only to learn that mysterious murders are underway, he realizes that he might just have a part to play for Bayern after all. Using his own skill set as a rather resourceful spy, Razo is determined to uncover the mystery behind the murders. But will the beautiful Dasha, liason of Tira, who has caught his eye, help or hinder his mission?

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

Enna Burning

Title: Enna Burning
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: The Books of Bayern, 2/4
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: September 1st 2006

Note: This post reviews the second book of The Books of Bayern series. You may like to read the first book in the series, The Goose Girlbefore reading this review.

When Enna first realizes that her brother can channel and control fire, she is certain that it is a power that can only lead to destruction. That is, until she learns that she, too, has the same ability to wield fire. As the kingdom of Bayern lies on the edge of defeat, her newly discovered abilities may have the power to save her kingdom and everyone she loves from the attack of Tira. But Enna must find a way to control her gift before it consumes her completely.

Though Enna Burning is the second book of this series, they can be read as stand-alone stories. However, since the characters in this book are first introduced in The Goose Girl, I recommend starting there. Shannon Hale is a favorite of mine in this genre, but this story didn’t grab me as much as some of her other books have. Having said that, it was still a fun read, and I look forward to reading the next two books in this series!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Author: Marie Kondo
Genre: Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Release Date: January 15th, 2011

For those of you who regularly keep up with this book review blog (thank you, by the way!), you will notice right away that this week’s review is a step away from my usual reads. This is due to the fact that life is officially getting insane with the holidays, NaNoWriMo (anyone else writing 50,000 this month? I salute you.), and Nutcracker craziness at my dance studio. I needed a quick break to reset before the holiday madness. Anyone else?

The need for a reset, not just in my home but in my life as well, prompted me to pick up this book for yet another read. I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing last year around this time. Recognizing the stress that builds up around this time of year, I decided to pick it up again for a thorough read-through, highlighting all the way. Even though The KonMari Method is supposed to be a one-time decluttering experience, I admit that I didn’t do it thoroughly the first time I read it. But this is the year that I will team up with my hubby and set our home in order!

The KonMari Method boils down to deciding the things in your home that you really love, the things that “spark joy,” and respectfully discarding the rest. (The exception to this statement are the things we need for our jobs, our health, etc.) I love the idea of being surrounded by the things I really love, not by things I thought I needed but actually don’t. When we rid our homes of all the excess, we realize how much we truly need in order to live a happy life. When we let go of things we have needlessly held on to, we are able to process our past in a healthy way and live for the here and now. This can also help empower us to go after the future we want for ourselves. And by giving your house a detox, you give your life one as well.

This book is the book for you if you are looking to get down to the basics of your life, and free yourself of anything that might be holding you back. There is a reason tiny house living is so appealing to me: living a simple, uncluttered life. This is achievable for all living spaces, no matter the size. I read through this book in one sitting quite easily both times. It’s the perfect read for a weekend afternoon, but make sure you leave yourself time to jump off the couch and begin setting your home in order, because that is exactly what you will want to do!

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book: