Nightstand Books: May 2017

May has arrived. And with it come new books to be read…. though perhaps not as many as last month… hoping to spend a bit more time on writing this month. And I already have done some writing, which puts me ahead of April, but then, even writing a single word on my WIP would have done that!

But we’re not here to talk about writing, today we’re discussing the worlds already written, waiting to be discovered by daring explorers!

So, without further ado, my nightstand books.

Nightstand Books May 2017

I had to go with a different angle on the picture this month because I particularly enjoy the covers for these books (especially the one on “Two Years Before the Mast”)

So, let’s start with that one, shall we?

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana. I’m reading this partially because it’s fascinating, and partially because I asked my dad to recommend some books that could help me learn some accurate sailing-ship terminology – as my love of ships far outpaces my knowledge of them – and I need to be able to insert some accurate sailing lingo into both Minstrel’s Call and the Turrim Archive.

Halayda by Sarah Delena White is this month’s Fellowship of Fantasy Book Club read, and I have not started it yet, but am looking forward to it.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher is one I’ve been dying to read for ages now, but I hadn’t gotten around to it partially because of time constraints and partially because I was terrified it was going to sound/feel far too much like what I’m writing in the Turrim Archive and I didn’t want to find out if what I was writing had already “been done.” However, my husband is listening to it on audio book and assured me that this story is nothing like the Turrim Archive, but that it was every bit as good as I’d expect (already loving other things Butcher has written) and that it also makes use of ship terminology, so might need to be bumped to the front of the TBR queue. (Can I just say that “queue” is an exceedingly fun word to type?)

Story Thieves by James Riley is one that a friend of mine got me as a “congratulations, you had a baby” gift! (She knows me well). Actually, she got me the third book in the series, but in her defense, the fact that it was the third book was not well-indicated on the cover. And who uses the word “origins” in the title of a THIRD book in a series??!?!? (James Riley, apparently). Anyway, this series was also written by the author of the “Half Upon A Time” series I just finished reading, so that’s fun. I already finished the first one and am waiting on the second one from the library. Really enjoying this new author!

Not pictured here are the books we’re reading for school… only two left before we finish out the year: Swift Rivers and Sarah, Plain and Tall. Swift Rivers started out super slow, but is picking up pace now that we’re into the meat of the story. I’ve never read Sarah, Plain and Tall, but I enjoy the movie and am looking forward to reading the book. It’s a shorter one, and actually is one L is supposed to read on her own, but I’m curious enough about it that we’re going to read it together instead.

Will I finish all of these within the month? Well… we shall see.

What’s on YOUR nightstand, dear Reader?

~ jenelle

Rodeo Roundup of April Ishness

April is over, and what a month it’s been! Thought I’d get a jump on things and actually post an Ishness before we’re halfway into May already! Ha!


Well, the big exciting thing that happened at the beginning of the month and then has taken over our lives for the past several weeks was this little bundle of preciousness who arrived a bit earlier than expected on April 2nd.

Grayden 1

Grayden is a very pleasant baby (he appears to have been aptly-named) and beloved by his older siblings, who have welcomed him into the fold with open arms.

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Having four is SO. MUCH. FUN!

We are very much in the throes of newborn-sleeplessness at night (though, to be fair, Little Buddy does give us 3-4 hour stretches through the night fairly consistently) and having Derek’s mom here for the past 2 weeks has been such a huge blessing as it has allowed me to snatch a few more winks of sleep in the morning while she gets the bigger kids breakfast and does puzzles and legos with them!

AWANA is wrapping up. The final club night/awards ceremony is later this week. We had our Grand Prix (Pinewood Derby Race, for those unfamiliar with AWANA) and while neither L or N won any prizes for speed, Leiana took home the first place award for design with her car: which was shaped and painted like a carrot with a bunny driving it! She was over the moon excited about that.

carrot car

One of my dear friends from NC came to visit for the day and it was so nice to see her and catch up in person rather than on the phone or via video-chat. We even got the chance to go on a hike through the woods by our apartment (Grayden came along for the ride) and it was SO nice to get outside and get a little exercise. Unfortunately, I neglected to get any pictures… I tend to get caught up in enjoying these sorts of moments and don’t get pictures… but hey, I was having too much fun to stop for a photo-opp! *grin*


Writing this month came to a screeching and adorable halt. I wrote zero words at all, and I’m not even sorry. *grin*


Reading on the other hand… now that’s a different story. Ha, pun!

Reading is something I CAN do one-handed while feeding an infant… and since I am doing that 8-12 times a day… I’ve actually read rather a lot. So this month’s Ishness will be a bit of a mini-review-roundup! I read NINE books this month!

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The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket – a re-read and just as entertaining the second time around. Particularly because it’s been fun listening to these while my husband reads them out loud to our children. A Series of Unfortunate Events is a seriously bizarre set of stories, and I think the first three books are my favorites of the set. Be warned, however, the author is NOT LYING when he tells you in the first paragraph of the first story that there are no happy endings in this story.

Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke was the April read for the Fellowship of Fantasy book club, and it was quite fantastic. I devoured it while in the hospital and thoroughly enjoyed the read. I read some of it out loud to Grayden and one of the things I liked about it is that this is a story that lends itself well to being a read-aloud. The wording has a nice flow to it. I plan to do a more extensive review of this, but for now suffice to say that I really liked the book and definitely recommend it.

In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson is a very cute book. Each chapter is sort of a stand-alone mini-short story from the author’s grandmother’s childhood. Each story has a certain moral or lesson that the grandmother learned. My girls LOVED this one.

Winter Danger by William Steele – a story about a young boy whose father is a “woodsy” (meaning he basically lives in the woods and is a hunter/trapper with no real roots). Due to a terribly cold winter, the boy gets left with his uncle’s family and learns some valuable lessons along the way about people helping each other and not always having to see everything as a debt one owes. This one started kind of slow, but was interesting and had a beautiful ending.

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde is probably my favorite of the “Thursday Next” novels so far. When I first read it, I remember feeling satisfied, and yet slightly saddened because I was certain that it was the very end of the series. This time around, knowing there are more books I have yet to read, it was just great fun. These books always make me laugh.

Half Upon A Time, Twice Upon a Time, and Once Upon the End by James Riley is a trilogy a friend introduced me to recently and let me borrow, and I have absolutely devoured them. If you enjoy clever humor and fairy tales, you will want to pick up this trilogy!

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis – finally finished this one and enjoyed it for its many instances of logic and profundity. It was interesting to find that there are some things Lewis and I strongly disagree on (as it appears he (at least at the time he was writing this book) believed in some form of evolution or bought into the idea of a long period of time between animals and man being created, rather than it being a 1-2 day delay (depending on whether you’re talking about birds/fish or land animals) though it is possible that I am misunderstanding what he meant). However, when it comes to his views on man’s relationship to God, the book was quite good and it was a challenging change of pace to read something with slightly “deeper waters,” though I must admit, I enjoyed the Half Upon a Time series and other fictional tomes far more.


We watched Moana – which I thought was quite good. I think I enjoyed it better than Frozen, though it was not nearly so good as Tangled. I liked that it was a “princess” movie without any romantic elements, that was different.

We also had a Star Wars marathon and watched episodes 1, 2, 3, and Rogue One in order. So. Much. Cringe-worthy-ness. I really do enjoy Episode 3, however, particularly after watching the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoons a few years back. But the scripts of all three of the prequel movies were just as bad (if not worse) than I remembered. *shudder*

At least Rogue One was every bit as awesome upon the second viewing as it was the first.

It was a month of re-watches, apparently, because we also watched Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Also watched a little Grimm, a little Doctor Who, and probably some other things I’m forgetting.

Looking Forward to May-ing

My parents and sister are coming to visit later this week! Yay!!!

The girls have their Irish dance recital.

Hoping Grayden starts sleeping in something longer than 3-hour stretches?!

Finishing up school for the year.

Definitely want to get back to writing, hoping to finish the rough draft of Turrim 2 before the end of the month. I am SO CLOSE to being finished with that, and then it’s diving into the edits of Minstrel’s Call! I am getting excited about this next round of editing (yes, I actually like editing… it can be tedious and difficult, but it’s also fun and rewarding to see a manuscript begin to shine once you’ve put a few layers of polish on it)

Probably need to start thinking about this year’s Silmarillion Awards if we want to do that again (I do!)

Oh, and I guess the other big exciting news of April and looking forward through the next year is that we bought some land! One of our dreams since getting married (and a life-long dream of mine, being the daughter of a custom-home-builder) has been to build our own house (and for me, to have my Daddy design said house). So we are getting started on that dream!


And that’s all I’ve got for April. How was your month, dear Reader? Any exciting plans for May?

~ jenelle

Sunshine Blogger Award

Recently, Liv K. Fisher tagged me in the Sunshine Blogger Award. And since I love tags (free blog post ideas? Yes, please!) today that is what you get! Also, she went with a bookish theme for her questions, so I absolutely couldn’t resist. I could talk about books all day long!
The Rules
  • Thank the person who tagged you. Thanks, Liv!!!
  • Copy and answer the eleven questions provided. check!
  • Tag up to eleven new bloggers to complete the challenge. um… not sure I can do that… we’ll see when we get there…
  • Write eleven new questions for them to answer. check!

The Questions

Which book on your shelf has the prettiest cover?
I’m torn on this one as I’m extremely partial to Angelina’s covers for my books… but that feels like cheating. So… um… is it still cheating of I pick the Five Enchanted Roses cover?

What is one of your all-time favorite fantasy novels?
I can only pick ONE? What kind of question is this? Well, I’m going to go a little Gollum “Riddles in the Dark” on you here.
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
The Death Gate Cycle
The Song of Albion Series
The Chronicles of Narnia

I cannot narrow it down any further than that… and even that is painful as it leaves out the Chronicles of Prydain and The Pendragon Cycle and Tales of Goldstone Wood and Ella Enchanted and Dragon of the Lost Sea and… you get the picture.

Who is one author whose writing is SO GOOD that it makes you want to sit down and up your word count?
Seriously, picking just one is hard, particularly since I would say there are different reasons that certain authors make me want to sit down and write. Timothy Zahn’s plots and characters inspire me to write new adventures and not stick to a single series. C.S. Lewis and Janette Oke inspire me with their ability to evoke emotions with single lines of text that make my spirit soar. Diana Wynne Jones and her complex, out-of-the-box sorts of stories always make me want to sit down and write something totally new. Patricia St. John and George MacDonald make me want to write something heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Recently-discovered authors like H.L. Burke, Marc Secchia, and Lea Doue make me want to write something unique and magical.

What is one of your favourite fairytales?
Whew, finally, a question I can answer. The Apple of Contentment by Howard Pyle. (I love fairy tales, though, and have lots of other favorites, as well)

What is one of your favourite fairytale retellings, book or movie?
Hmmm, I really love Robin McKinley’s “Beauty” retelling of Beauty and the Beast. And of course I really enjoy the retellings in the Five Something Something anthologies put out by Rooglewood Press. I also really enjoyed Cloaked by Alex Flinn.

Is there a protagonist you just totally connect with? Who is it, and which book are they from?
I have always felt a kinship with Cimorene, the princess in Dealing with Dragons. I love her practical, no-nonsense approach to things. She has dreams, but she also is willing to get her hands dirty and work hard. She is feisty and precocious, but she also does respect her parents and endeavors to obey them.

Who are your top three to five favourite authors? Have you met any of them? Conducted interviews with them?
J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Patricia C. Wrede, Timothy Zahn, Stephen R. Lawhead, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, and a few of the authors in the Fellowship of Fantasy are quickly becoming new favorites. I have met Anne Elisabeth at a book signing and conducted an interview with her a few years ago.

You just learned that you are to inherit your very own ginormous library — and it comes with a castle, too! Oh, and one more thing — you get a magical creature (of your own choosing) to be your librarian/bookkeeper! What sort of creature is it?
My magical creature/librarian would be a gryphon. Of course I’d love a dragon, but a gryphon strikes me as being better at book-keeping. 1) he would fit in the library better. 2) No danger of him getting angry and burning the library down. 3) Smaller claws might mean less tearing of pages/shredding of book covers.

You are holding a very pretty book in your hands. Describe it.
It has a fancy font and an obviously fantasy-genre title. There are some high-contrast colors… possibly black and turquoise or black and lavender. Some sort of symbol or image that speaks to a fantastical story within the covers… or anything with a dragon on the cover.

(And now, I’m stealing one of Tracey’s questions!) You’re a princess (well done!), but there’s a catch: You have to be (kind of) cursed for two years. To make up for the fact that you have an evil(ish) stepmother, your fairy godmother has sweetened the deal — you get to choose just how you get cursed: Locked in a tower with a pet, books, and your very own room full of food and paper and fountain pens and other such wonders; trapped in a magic lamp, where you have the ability to be a mischievous li’l Faerie queen with an unlimited supply of (healthy!) cake; or sent into an enchanted slumber, from which you will awake to find your true love smiling back at you! Which do you choose?
Finally, an EASY question!

I’ll take a lovely tower with books, food, paper and fountain pens, and my very own pet dragon. (If I can’t have a dragon, can I have a dragonet?) Or possibly a very tame wolf I can curl up against like a warm pillow while I’m reading.

(Last one, guys!) You just found out that you fell out of a book. Which book was it, and from which world have you come?
Hmmm, well, when it comes to fantasy realms I’d love to spend time in, I’d have to say that I would really enjoy having come from H.L. Burke’s “Dragon and Scholar” series. It seems like a lovely fantasy world with plenty of excitement and adventure (magic and dragons and the like) but also a world that doesn’t have too many terrible dangers and villains to watch out for. It also seems like a place where a normal person can have adventures without having to be a princess or something particularly special.


My Questions – Fantasy Themed

1. What mythical creatures do you wish were featured in more fantasy books?

2. If you had to spend a month in one dangerous fantasy location (Mordor, the Forbidden Forest, the Evil Queen’s Castle… etc) which one would you choose and why?

3. You suddenly find yourself as a side-character in a fairy tale. Which fairy tale are you in and what is your side-kick role?

4. What is your favorite flavor of fantasy? (Fairy tale retelling, Epic/High Fantasy Adventure, Quests, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, Coming-of-Age, etc?)

5. Who is your favorite fantasy hero/heroine? Why?

6. You are granted one fantasy ability or “gift” from a fairy godmother. What is it?

7. You find yourself the hero/heroine of a fantasy story. What is your profession and how will it help you on your adventure?

8. Who is your favorite fantasy villain? Why?

9. Fantasy steed of choice?

10. If you suddenly found yourself transported to a fantasy world, what weapon would you hope to be wielding?


Tag Other Bloggers

Zachary Totah

Christine @ Musings of an Elf

Kaycee @ An Independent Will

And anybody else who finds these questions interesting, consider yourself tagged! Or pick your favorite question and tell me your answer in the comments!

~ jenelle