Tag Archives: Deborah Harkness

Gift Ideas for Christmas

Christmas is coming. I mean, some people have had their decorations out all month. And I know that gift lists are already being shared. If you are looking to add to your list or are looking for a gift idea for someone else, I may be able to help. I have read a lot of books this year (and some in years past) that I think are very noteworthy and would make great gifts

For the kid selections, I will preface this with the fact that these books are based on my own experience of having a toddler. Here are some of our favorites this year.

I try to buy a new Christmas book every year, and this year my favorite children’s book author released one in September called All The Colors of Christmas! In a nutshell, it’s a beautifully illustrated, beautifully written book full of nostalgia and the real meanings of the Christmas season listed by color.

The Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson is a double murder mystery set in an elite boarding school. Each of the three books in the series reveals a little more of the clues of each mystery, one set in the 1930s and one present day. The character growth and inclusion in this series is stellar. I wrote about the first one here.

Neal Shusterman’s The Arc of the Scythe series is a bit more science fiction. It faces the ideas of death, mortality, love, and humanity in a three book series. It also strives to be inclusive as well. While the ending wasn’t what I expected, it was still a fun ride. The first book’s review is here.

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton, which is more of a straight historical fiction based on a hurricane that Florida in 1935. It follows three different women as they are searching for different things within their lives, defining what freedom really is in a post-WW1 America.

For a literature friend, or someone who loves Jane Austen books, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner is an absolute delight. There is the trigger warning of pregnancy loss, but I felt that it was appropriate and well done. I wrote more about it here.

The last three are my favorite authors, so any from them I would recommend, but here are a few ideas.

Deborah Harkness who wrote the All Souls Trilogy. She is a professor and historian which comes across in her books in a beautiful way. I first read Discovery of Witches back in 2014 and wrote this review.

VE Schwab, or Victoria Schwab, is also an amazing author who writes YA, Adult, and Middle Grade. There are so many I could recommend. Most of her books are in paranormal or fantasy genres. Her middle grade series starts with the City of Ghosts which is excellent, and the next (and I think final) book in the series is coming out soon, so it would be a fun series to read straight through!

Erin Morgenstern hasn’t written as many books, but the ones that she has are amazing, lyrical fantasies. I would recommend Night Circus first, though her books are not connected. I just felt like the Night Circus was a little easier to follow for someone who hasn’t read her before.

This year there have been a lot of books about race and racial justice, and a lot of suggestions in this category from years past. I haven’t read nearly as many as I would have like, but if you have someone in your life who is reading these topics, I would recommend How to Be Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi. It follows his own journey in social justice, people who inspired him and mistakes he made.

Another book in this category that leans more towards history, particularly within the church is The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby. I learned a lot about the evolution of the church in America, both white and black.

And finally, Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski has to have been my all time favorite book this year. It changed the way I saw stress and how I was contributing and sabotaging my own life. Game. Changer.

There are so many books that I loved this year, that it was hard to suggest just a few books. What are some books you have enjoyed this year?

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness: A Review

Time's Convert

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the original series, so I knew I would enjoy this extension of the story. It is pretty important to read the All Souls Trilogy before this book. There are a lot of references to characters and major plot points. So, fair warning before you read this book.

The main story follows two of the supporting characters from the trilogy, Phoebe and Marcus. There is also a subplot which follows the two main characters from the trilogy, Matthew and Diana. Phoebe and Marcus are mates. Phoebe is a human that is transitioning to a vampire in this book. Marcus became a vampire during the Revolutionary War. The book mainly follows these two transitions.

What I loved most about this book was the historical fiction aspect. In telling the story of Marcus, the author recounts parts of the Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, the yellow fever outbreak in Philidelphia, as well as what it was like during that time in places like London and New Orleans. It was absolutely fascinating. This author does the interweaving of historical figures like Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin with the fictional vampires and witches so well. It actually prompted me to look up some of these events since I had never heard of them before (primarily the yellow fever outbreak).

There was a major familial theme throughout the book. What makes a family and what is your responsibility to the family you choose or is chosen for you? How should we treat our children? In the acknowledgments, the author mentions her father who passed away in 2015. I can see how her relationship with her father heavily impacted a lot of the relationships in this book. Especially with Marcus who came from an abusive home as a human and spent a lot of time searching for a true father.

There is profanity in this book. The “F” word is used a few times. There is also a good bit of explicit sexual content. When vampires are transitioning from humans, they go through an “adolescent” stage which makes them have a lot of hormones. This led to sexual fantasies, some dirty conversations, and a sex scene. There is also a time when Marcus is being trained as an aristocrat that they compare handling a sword with masturbation.
There is also some violence in the book, although it spans the time of both the French Revolution and the Revolutionary War so there is bound to be some loss. I didn’t feel it was very graphic or explicit, though. They even include Dr. Guillotin in the story who proposed the guillotine as a new form of capital punishment (used for Marie Antoinette – not a spoiler, just history).

I really enjoyed this series. I highly recommend it for anyone who likes a bit of historical fiction with their paranormal stories. I would caution with the above caveats about the content, but it’s definitely worth a read.

January TBR

For those of you not familiar with the bookish vocabulary, TBR stands for To Be Read. Last year I read 40 books, much to my own surprise. This year, I have a goal to read 44 books. So, for my TBR each month, I plan to try to read four books, so that will give me a month margin of error.

Of course, being who I am, I love to categorize and label, so I thought I might try to do that with me TBR. I want to read a classic, an adult fiction, an young adult fiction/middle grade, and a nonfiction book. I have a lot of books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet, so I’m hoping to read one from each category.

This month, here are my hopeful books I will read:

The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath. I have had this book since college. I’ve tried to pick it up and read it twice but something has always come up to pull me away. I’m hoping third time’s the charm.

It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst. I love her work. I got this book as soon as it came out last year. I’ve already begun it, and it is SO good so far.

Devian by Shanna Bosarge. This was an impulse buy at the end of last year. The author was selling her book at a farmer’s market. There is a lot of world-building and people who can control the elements. I’m excited to jump in.

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness. Her All Souls trilogy is one of my favorites. This book is a continuation of the story more than a sequel. I have already read a few pages into the story and I’m loving it.

So those are the four main books I am reading this month. Of course, that didn’t stop me from going to the library last week and picking up a few more books that piqued my interest. But we shall see how fast I get through these four first.

What are some books you are reading this month?