For my first read of 2020, I chose a Young Adult Fantasy novel by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani titled Seven Deadly Shadows. The story is set in Japan and embraces Japanese mythology. I am loving the story and the snapshot of a culture that is so different to what I know and experience every day.
Yesterday I met up with a friend and while travelling on the public transit, I took the opportunity to delve a little into the world of yokai, kitsanes, and shinigamis.
My first read of 2020 is a perfect fit for me and hope that Seven Deadly Shadows will be the first of many good stories I enjoy this year.
When at the resort last week, I admired some of the Christmas decorations that had been put up. I much preferred the more delicate and more ornate ones to the tacky Santa Clause and Christmas tree blowups that sprinkled the resort.
I loved the angels set in the garden of our hotel lobby. During the day, the frames were nothing special to look at, but at night their light shone brightly.
This time last week my family and I were on a beach vacation in the Dominican Republic. For the last few years now, my husband has wanted to spend the Christmas period in the sun at a resort. This year we decided to agree with his wish and chose to go to the hotel we had chosen to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
I loved being back at the beach. I missed the warm sand and roaring sea so much yesterday as I was walking the cold, streets of the city yesterday.
One of the things I plan to do in the New Year is to spend some time with my daughters each week preparing our bullet journals. I have tried bullet journaling for one month now and I find that I enjoy the creativity of it. The bonus, for me, is that I get to spend time with my girls. Now that they are older, we no longer work around the table in the afternoons. Doing this activity with them remedies that and I get to have a chance to chat with them on what is happening in their personal lives.
Today on the first day of 2020, we spent time setting up our journals for the month. It was a perfect way to bring in the New Year.
What did you do (or plan to do) on the first day of January?
I cannot believe that it is the start of a New Year – and a new decade! No longer do I celebrate the New Year with parties and fireworks. Instead, I welcome it with a gentle light and the anticipation of new experiences.
I wish you, my readers, a wonderful 2020. May it be filled with light and wonderful experiences.
While vacationing in the Dominican Republic, I picked up one of the novels in the resort’s library – The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor.
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror
One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her. Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie. I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.
When I picked up C. J. Tudor’s novel, I expected to read a thriller. A couple of chapters in, I came across a scene that reminded me a lot of Stephen King’s work. It had been a long time since I had read horror and I settled in to enjoy the story. It was not the perfect time of year to read this type of story but I had not brought any other book with me on my vacation.
Right from the start, Tudor’s writing drew me in and impressed me. I enjoyed reading the way she put words together as well as her observations of human nature and society. The story is also perfectly paced and kept me wanting to read despite the many distractions I encountered while on vacation. Despite being inspired by Stephen King, C. J. Tudor has her own voice. Her characterisation is strong, her description of human nature spot-on, her storyline believable.
If you are a fan of horror fiction and of Stephen King, you need to read The Taking of Anne Thorne. The story is chilling and compelling. It grabs your imagination and pushes you through to the basis of human nature. I am now a fan and look forward to reading both her debut novel as well as her next.
I chose The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan to be one of my Holiday reads. I had not read any of her novels but I loved the cover of the novel when I picked it up in the second-hand book store.
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
They say that behind every great man, there’s a great woman, and behind London’s most powerful leaders, there stands only one—Alex Hyde, business coach par excellence. She’s the woman they turn to for advice and strategy when the pressure gets too much. So when Alex gets a call offering an unbelievable sum to discreetly manage a family member on the board of an esteemed Scottish whisky company, it’s business as usual. She can do this in her sleep. Only, she’s never met anyone like Lochlan Farqhuar before. CEO of Kentallen Distilleries, he’s also the son and heir of the company’s founder, and a man for whom there is no “no.” He’s a maverick, and Alex needs to get inside his head before he brings the company to its knees. But as she tasks herself with finding a way in, she finds that for once, she’s not the one in control. And when she stumbles across a chance discovery that changes everything, she’s suddenly not so sure she should be.
The Christmas Secret was the perfect read that put me in the mood for the Holiday season. It is a light romantic read that is set during the time before Christmas. Swan’s pacing is perfectly suited to this genre as the reader gets to know the characters in the story while has the choice to put the novel aside to tend to life responsibilities. The characters themselves are what you would expect to find in a romance novel – as is the push and pull of the attraction between Alex and Lochan, the love interest in the novel.
The story is told in the first person and in the voice of Alex. As is expected of a romance novel, the reader does not get to see too deeply into the heroine’s thought processes although I did get a glimmer of her pain and was curious as to what had caused it. The story, however, is not a typical Hallmark romance as The Christmas Secret does have more depth than the cookie-cutter romances.
I enjoyed reading Swan’s novel – it was a relaxing read that I could put aside when I needed to and then continue to enjoy with no problem. It was interesting to read a little about the Scottish setting as well as a bit about the making of whiskey. I am curious to see what her other books are like and intend to pick up another of her stories in the future.
Friday last week was the end of the school term and I left work quickly after school to go home and pack. After spending Christmas for more than a decade in the cold temperatures of a Canadian city, my husband and I decided we would spend the Holiday basking in the warm temperatures of a Dominican Republic resort. Our Christmas this year is quite different from years past and it feels strange not following the traditions that my family and I have created over the last fifteen years. We have had some good family time so far and are making more family memories.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. And if you don’t celebrate it, may you enjoy the day anyway with family and friends.
At one of the Harper Collins events, I received an sampler containing the first few chapters of 5 romantic comedies to be released in 2019. I had not yet read How To Hack A Heartbreak by Kristen Rockaway by November so I decided to pick up a copy of the novel from the library.
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers—”Hatchlings”—who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.
But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.
Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez—the only non-douchey guy at Hatch—has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.
The novel highlights a woman’s working experience in the male dominated world of coding. In addition, it is a commentary on the online dating experience. How To Hack A Heartbreak is the story of a woman’s journey towards self fulfilment in both the workplace and her personal life.
The novel is not a romance following the template as you would expect – instead the romantic aspect of the novel is minimal. This type of story seems to be the new template for the modern romance and I am loving it! After all, a woman’s life is not merely centred around romance; instead romance is only a part of what makes a woman happy and fulfilled.
Mel responds to an experience many women have with online dating – and her response leads her to ultimately make a change in her life. She is faced with some decisions which lead her to make choices that reflect what type of person she is. Mel is a character that grows in the story: her self-reflection does lead to a response that becomes life-changing. She grows as a person – and this growth is not dependent on the love of a man. Instead the acceptance of a man in her life is portrayed as secondary.
I enjoyed reading Rockaway’s novel: I loved the main character as well as the insight into online dating (which I personally have never experienced). The novel is well paced and kept my interest until the end. It was the perfect read for this time of year as it can be set aside for a moment and them picked up again to enjoy.