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Kendal has read 15 books toward her goal of 50 books.

Monthly Archives: December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”


Book Blogger Hop & FF Friday

book blogger hop

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012.

Luckily, Billy from The Coffee-Addicted Writer has relaunched the Book Blogger Hop. Each week the hop will start on Friday and end on Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt just like before. The hop’s purpose will remain the same as it will give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

Q: Holiday Edition: What is your favorite book set around Christmastime?

7068650A: I’m sorry to say that I don’t read a lot of Christmas themed books. I wish I could say I have read A Christmas Carol; but I haven’t. However, for my book club I did read A Redbird Christmas by Fanny Flagg which was really good.





The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Q: Pick a book in your favorite genre that you’d recommend to a reluctant reader.

A: It is so hard to pick from just one genre; I don’t have just one favorite. Let’s see…I will pick historical fiction and my favorite of 2013.

The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castille

I absolutely loved this book. It was so rich in historical detail. I have not read anything about her and it really got me to read more of Mr. Gortner’s books. It is wonderful and for my full review click here.


Review: Steampunk Darcy

Steampunk Darcy
Written by Monica Fairview
Published on October 15, 2013 by White Soup Press
330 pages
Steampunk Austenesque Fiction
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review


William Darcy is obsessed with his ancestors. So much so that he intends to rebuild Pemberley (destroyed during the Uprising) stone by stone, and he wants to employ reconstruction expert Seraphene Grant to help him.

Or does he? Seraphene wasn’t born yesterday. She can smell a rat, particularly when it stinks all the way up to her airship. She knows Darcy is hiding something. But with the Authorities after her and her other options dwindling by the moment, the temptation of genuine English tea and a gorgeous Steampunk gentleman are very difficult to resist.

But what if Darcy’s mystery job courts nothing but trouble? What if Darcy is harboring a secret to kill for? When kiss comes to shove, will Darcy’s secret destroy Seraphene, or will it be her salvation?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m not a big Steampunk fan. However, I am a huge Austen fan. I was pleasantly surprised how Ms. Fairview was able to bring an Austen story to life in a Steampunk setting. The plot was intriguing with lots of mystery and action.

Seraphene is a very remarkable character; like Elizabeth Bennet, she is very prejudiced against the likes of William Darcy. She doesn’t want to be controlled. She wants to live her life under the radar in order to take care of her family. She has seen tragedy and her life reflects that. It is very hard for her to trust. Therefore, when William Darcy enters her life, she cannot accept him at all.

William Darcy is a very interesting character, as well. Like Mr. Darcy, he is extremely proud. His family name means everything and he is willing to do anything to protect it; even at the expense of his family members. However, the storyline serves him well and he develops into a rather romantic character.

The use of Wickham’s character is very creative. I never caught on at all and he gave a nice twist to the overall storyline. You will feel sorry for him; unlike the Wickham in the original P&P.

Ms. Fairview created a delightful romance between Serephene and William; full of drama and mistrust. I absolutely loved the ending; so very sweet and very deserving for the characters. If you love Austenesque fiction with a little creativity and flare, I highly recommend Steampunk Darcy.


It’s Monday! What are you reading?!


Welcome to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! Hosted by Book Journey.

Last Week:

  • September Wind by Kathleen Janz-Anderson
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
  • Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, Narrated by Jim Marsters

This Week:

The Three Doors by Brian D. Holland

17829525Jared Helm is transported out-of-body to mystifying  destinations. One evening, his imperceptible spirit embarks on a journey to an amazing castle bordering the ocean. Though the importance of the venture eludes him at first, he eventually learns that the castle is the stomping ground of a murderous sect abducting individuals for ritual sacrifice.

An offshoot of the English and Irish Hellfire Clubs of old, the evil cult’s castle is located on the seacoast of lower Maine. The group’s fanatical Master, whose lineage reaches back to royalty and to rapscallion leaders of old, stops at nothing in his quest to please Satan. And although the previous clubs were known for wild and toxic behavior, this one takes those traits to malevolent heights. The story grows deeper and more sinister as the New England seasonal change enters the autumnal equinox on the approach to Samhain.

Audiobook of the week:

91474Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #8)

There’s no love lost between Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and the White Council of Wizards, who find him brash and un disciplined. But war with the vampires has thinned their ranks, so the Council has drafted Harry as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City.

As Harry adjusts to his new role, another problem arrives in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend is the only suspect in what looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are looks in Chicago, but it’s all in a day’s work for a wizard, his faithful dog and a talking skull named Bob…


What are you reading this week?

Review: Dead Beat

Dead Beat (Dresden Files #7)
Written by Jim Butcher
Narrated by James Marsters
Published on April 6, 2010 by Penguin Audio
Urban Fantasy
Purchased from


When a killer vampire threatens to destroy head of Special Investigations Karrin Murphy’s reputation unless Harry delivers the powerful Word of Kemmler to her, he has no choice. Now Harry is in a race against time to find the Word before Chicago experiences a Halloween night to wake the dead.

The Dresden Files keeps getting better and better with every book and Dead Beat doesn’t disappoint. Harry has to make some life-changing decisions. Whether he made a good decision or not has yet to be determined. Jim Butcher does an amazing job developing Harry as a strong and complex character. There is not black and white in his world; only shades of intense gray.

In Dead Beat, we get to know some more characters in Harry’s life. Butters takes front and center. He is such an awkward and cowardly little fellow. It was hard to like him; however, he redeems himself with great aplomb. He learns about Harry’s world and survives. That is a great accomplishment!

Harry’s relationship with Thomas grows stronger. He also brings a little bit of comic relief. The conversation between Harry, Thomas and Butter about Harry’s sexual orientation is hilarious. However, in the end, Harry and Thomas’ bond is tight.

I just have to say that I love Sue. She is powerful and awesome! And Bob, you got to love it!

Dead Beat is another great book from Jim Butcher. And, of course, James Marsters does an amazing job narrating the story. I will never listen to another audiobook unless it is narrated by him. I’m totally addicted to his voice!



Review: September Wind

September Wind
Written by Kathleen Janz-Anderson
Published on February 20, 2013 by Solstice Publishing
529 pages
Literary Fiction
Received from the author in exchange for an honest review


SEPTEMBER WIND is a story about a young girl with a yearning so great that even the worst of obstacles do not dampen her spirit. Even through many of her losses, there is something magical as we follow her journey.

Wise beyond her years, Emily has a fight that would make a burley man run, or at least should have. Yet, she is a gentle spirit who’s first love, in its beautiful yet sometimes awkward moments, will make us cry and take us back to our own.

We travel with her as she escapes across country on a train in search of the one person she hopes will embrace her and help her out of a terrible mess that could ruin her life for good. Yet, nothing comes easy.

We become part of her world, and forget the troubles of our own. We watch her grow into a lovely young woman, and cringe when her backcountry lifestyle allows her into the Palace of lust, greed, deceit, and even murder, a place she hates, and yet is mesmerized by.

Precious moments throughout the book with those she barely knows, and those she comes to love will melt our hearts. There are times when we want to push her into another direction, and yet we want to stay with her to see where it all leads.

September Wind is an incredible story of strength and hope with Emily Rezell at its center. Her story is heart-wrenching and you wonder how anyone can survive. However, Ms. Janz-Anderson has written a wonderful character in Emily. She never gives up and always finds a way to move forward.

Emily lives a hard and brutal life. No one appreciates or loves her. However, Emily is still full of hope and is capable of love. Her strength is a testament to how hardship can’t destroy a person. What I liked most about Emily is that she could find a way forward in a horrible situation; whether it be the farm, The Palace or the Schillings mansion. I love her spirit, her loyalty and her passion. Emily is a survivor; someone who overcomes shame and pain to live her life.

Another powerful theme is this book is forgiveness. Emily has every right to be angry and feel hatred for the men in her life. But she doesn’t. She frees herself and others by the act of forgiveness. Ms. Janz-Anderson makes that forgiveness seem very believable and not contrived. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

The men of September Wind run from the despicable to the gray knight in shining armor. When I say gray, I mean that no one is perfect; but, instead have made their own bad choices. Claude is the most despicable human being in this book. Nothing can redeem him. Emily’s grandfather falls short of being a kind and loving person that she so desperately needs. Her Uncle Steven is her only shimmer of kindness that she had at the farm.

Innocence runs thick in September Wind. There are so many moments where Emily could have completely lost her innocence. However, I felt she, somehow, kept it close to her. Her tragic events made her wiser but she could still think as an innocent/naïve girl that she was. Emily is tough but not unfeeling. She is able to be kind and think of others besides herself. She is willing to sacrifice herself for what she believes is right.

I felt the ending to September Wind to be very fitting and satisfying. Emily will always face hardship; like most people in life. However, her life is full of hope and new possibilities. She will always have to deal with her past. But she will be a little wiser and stronger when she does.

September Wind is a great book with lots of tragedy and hope. Don’t give up on it. If you do, you will miss so much. I highly recommend it.



Review: The Watchmen

The Watchmen
By Alan Moore and Dave Gibbens
Published in 1986 by DC Comics
Purchased for book club


This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.

One of the most influential graphic novels of all time and a perennial best-seller, Watchmen has been studied on college campuses across the nation and is considered a gateway title, leading readers to other graphic novels such as V for Vendetta, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and The Sandman series.

I know this is supposed to a classic in the graphic novel/comics world. But I don’t get it. At times, I found it hard to follow. The stories were a bit disconnected and hard to determine how they fit in the overall story.

There are several aspects of the book that I really liked. I thought the characters were great. The masked adventurers are an interesting lot; so flawed and borderline insane. Some of them deal with a god-complex. Too much power is not a good thing.

The setting of the Watchmen is during the Cold War with Richard Nixon as president. I couldn’t imagine a world where he was still president. Very creepy.

I really enjoy the graphic novel genre. But this book is a too disconnected and creepy for me to really enjoy. However, my husband, who isn’t a big reader, picked it and is really likes it. Now that is a good thing!


Barefoot Saturday: Winter Time Fun

Winter is my favorite time of the year. Warm clothes, hot tea, reading by the fire; those are some of my favorite things. Of course, reading by the fire would be number one of my list. In Oklahoma, we received our first winter blast. We even had a snow day on Friday. We had so much fun playing in the snow. After playtime, now its time to snuggle up and read your favorite Barefoot Book with your kids. Storytime is such a wonderful time for you and your children. I love when I have my girls on either side of me, listening to my voice and hearing a story being told. Such wonderful memories! Here are some of our favorite stories.


Storytime_PBwCD_W_3First Tales for Sharing

Share a traditional tale and provide a stepping stone into the land of art and story. The seven folk tales in this colorful collection are well known and well loved, and each imparts an important lesson using humor, action, adventure and classic characters. Book with CD edition includes stories read by actor Jim Broadbent.

Ages 3 to 7 years
Retold By: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated By: Anne Wilson
Narrated By: Jim Broadbent

Our favorite story is The Gingerbread Man. “Run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me. I’m the Gingerbread Man!” We all sing it together!

Reading to your kids will give your family long-lasting memories that you will treasure forever. You will also be creating lasting traditions for your family. Your kids will be reading these same stories to their children.


Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Holiday Extravaganza

Kid Lit Hop

Youth Literature Reviews and Mother Daughter Books Reviews are back with another Kid Lit Giveaway Hop! This time around is our Holiday Extravaganza. Everyone will be featuring a holiday themed book. I absolutely love the holidays. For me, it is Christmas; celebrating the birth of Jesus is such a joyous time for my family. As always, I will be giving away a Barefoot Book. Babushka is one of my favorite Christmas stories. I remember when I first read Babushka, I cried. It is such a beautiful story. I love it and I want to give it to you!


Meet Babushka, a woman who is so busy focusing on the little things, that she hardly notices the miraculous events going on around her. This touching Christmas story shows that the more you give away in love, the more you will receive.

Ages 3 to 8 years
Written By: Sandra Ann  Horn
Illustrated By: Sophie Fatus

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Author Interview: Sarah Kennedy

13494457I’m very excited to have Sarah Kennedy, author of The Altarpiece, as a guest. The Altarpiece is a wonderful book that depicts Tudor England in a very honest way. For my review follow this link.

1. What inspired you to write The Altarpiece?

A combination of events came together in my mind when the story first occurred to me.  I had heard stories of hidden religious artwork on a trip to Norwich Cathedral when I was studying the medieval mystic Julian, and I was subsequently studying the fates of nuns under Henry VIII.  When I discovered that these women had largely disappeared from the historical record, my imagination began to work.  I wanted to give the nuns of England a voice—and one day the image of Catherine appeared to me and the book had begun!

2. I imagine that you had to do a great deal of research for this book, what did you use for your primary sources? Did you travel for your research?

My primary sources were very few—because there are very few of them.  I have traveled frequently to England, and religious sites are some of my favorite places to go.  The ruins of the great abbeys of the United Kingdom have always seemed almost to speak, as though the stones themselves want to explain what happened there.  I suppose I would say that these places are my best and most resonant sources.

3. Why did you choose this time period for the setting of The Altarpiece?

I am endlessly fascinated with Tudor England.  It was a time of enormous change, primarily in the relationship between the government and the church.  The government and the church became a single entity—until the power was fragmented by the very pillars of that power.  Hereditary monarchy seemed to assure male power . . . except that the king’s surviving children were women.  Protestantism seemed to assure that the church would be unified under the monarch . . . except that once the Bible was made available to people in English, they began to form churches of their own.  These questions—about government and religion, about the roles of men and women, about universal education and universal rights, are still with us.

5. What was the hardest part of writing The Altarpiece?

The hardest part was probably making sure that I got the details of clothing right.  I did update some of that terminology to make the reading easier, though—which wasn’t easy, either!

6. What books have influenced your life the most?

Hmm.  That’s a hard one, since I love to read all sorts of books.  I couldn’t live without Shakespeare, but I also love the crime writers Ian Rankin and Morag Joss.  The poets Thomas Wyatt the Elder, who was one of Henry VIII’s courtiers, and John Donne, who wrote under Elizabeth I and James I, changed my way of thinking about the world when I was a young woman.

7. What book are reading right now?

I just finished Dan Brown’s Inferno.  I’m still mulling over the plot, but you can’t beat the details about Renaissance art and architecture.  It’s a lovely world to get lost in.

8. Where do you like to do the majority of your writing?

OK, confession time.  I like to write in a recliner.  Yes, a recliner.  I have one in my study, which looks out over my side yard, with my favorite bird feeder, and another in my living room, where I write by the fire in the evenings.  My husband is very good about making sure that I have comfortable chairs with cozy quilts in both places!

9.  Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I’m not sure that I have a favorite author.  I may be too moody to have a consistent favorite.  I like authors who combine a great story with wonderful imagery and quirky information, and when I find a new one, I tend to plow through everything I can find.  I love Lee Smith, Daniel Woodrell, Ron Rash, and Benjamin Black (pen name for John Banville.) I rip through whatever Ian Rankin writes, partly because I love Scotland.  I like Hilary Mantel and even Philippa Gregory when I want famous characters from history, though I usually gravitate to more fictional people and a story that can go where the writer’s imagination takes her.

10. Can you tell us about your next novel, City of Ladies?

Well, Catherine cannot be in a convent anymore, so her life has changed.  Ex-nuns are not supposed to get married, but there is always a way around the rules in Tudor England for a savvy and determined woman.  She is still young, and the world is changing.  Catherine is going to have to change with it, but the dangers of an aging, increasingly tyrannical king are very real.  She’s still sympathetic to Mary Tudor, the king’s elder, Catholic daughter, and that’s a dangerous attachment to have.  But it’s a dangerous new world for women in general, and Catherine is going to have to keep her wits about her to navigate it successfully!

Thank you so much Sarah! I can’t wait for City of Ladies and see how Catherine transitions from being a nun to a young woman with very little protection.

About the Author

Sarah Kennedy photo

THE ALTARPIECE, the first title in Sarah Kennedy’s The Cross and the Crown series, is about Catherine Havens, a young nun in Tudor England. She’s waiting at Mount Grace Priory for its closure when the one item of significant value in The Priory, their altarpiece, goes      missing. Immediately, suspicion falls on the nuns.

In addition to this novel, Sarah Kennedy has written seven books of poems, including The Gold Thread, Home Remedies, and A Witch’s Dictionary. A professor of English at Mary Baldwin College, she holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing.  She has received grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts and is a contributing editor for Shenandoah. The next title in The Cross and the Crown series, CITY OF LADIES, is due out in October 2014. Her website is

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Currently Reading

Kendal's bookshelf: currently-reading


Kendal's to-read book montage

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Cold Blooded
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My Notorious Life: A Novel
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Long Live the King
To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Bad News for a Ghost
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My Beloved World
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My Dear Sophy
The Wild Girl
To Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got Started
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The Man Who Loved Jane Austen

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