Why A Blog? Welcome, About Me, Blog Talk

Welcome

This book blog of mine is still less than a year old, so I thought maybe it would be a good idea to include one of these posts that doesn’t actually have much to do with books. If you are reading this, I’d like to say thank you. There are a lot of blogs and posts out there in the cyber-world, and anytime someone chooses to stop and read the mess of random thoughts from any post I make is so greatly appreciated, and it means a ton to me. So thank you.

Since I Sense A Story is still considered a ‘newbie’, I thought it might be interesting to introduce myself to those who have so kindly chosen to hit the follow button, explain the reasoning behind the blog’s name, and talk about why I decided to start a blog in the first place. AND, if you’ve made it this far in the post, I’ll keep this short and sweet in the friendliest way possible 🙂 Ok, here we go!


About Me

My name is Alicia. I’m a 28 year old Midwesterner with aspirations to see as much of the world as possible. And while the Midwest will always be home sweet home, I would like to eventually move out of it and experience the thrill of living somewhere near mountains or ocean. I am married to the most incredible guy on Earth, Bobby, who was one of my very best friends throughout high school, and is the biggest blessing that God has graced upon my life. He’s my forever human, and my first pick for the many adventures yet to come.

We have a giant wolf dog named Jax, who is not only a gentle giant, but afraid of her own shadow and obsessed with the dog park. Her favorite things in the world are other dogs, the snow, and having the undivided attention of everyone in the room. We also have a 6 month old kitten named Finn, who is scrappy, curious, and a destroyer of aglets. While this little guy has only three legs, he doesn’t let his ‘lucky fin’ keep him from his favorite things which are terrorizing/cuddling the dog, night time, and a grey blanket that upon contact will instantly turn him into a purring mess of emotions.

We root for the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs in my household, Indiana Hoosier basketball is somewhat sacred, and hockey is always a blast to watch (and play), although it is the one sport we don’t share the same team spirit for. 😉

I have an Associates in Science, although my passions in life have always been more on the creative side of things. I plan to return to college this coming fall and finish the Biology degree I started a few years ago. I sometimes refer to myself as an ‘aspiring jack-of-all-trades’ because my interests in so many different things pull me in all sorts of directions, rather than helping me narrow down what I’d like to do in life, maybe even specialize in. So for now, we’ll stick with the simple truth that I am a learner, a seeker of knowledge, and a desperately hungry scholar of all life has to offer.


I Sense A Story

I love stories. You’ll find them in books, pictures, and in people. Every book you open relays a story, real or imagined. Every picture you take or review tells a silent story. And every person on Earth is a bottomless pit of a collection of stories, whether the stories are interesting, sad, exciting, happy, angering, truthful, etc. When I decided to start a book blog, I wanted a name that wouldn’t need to change if the content ever did. But I also wanted a name that most accurately reflected what message I personally take from each of the mediums listed above. I’m not saying those three are the only ways to relay a story, but I am instead looking at the avenues in which I can share with people the most common ways I seek out and absorb the art of storytelling. And you can sense a story in just about anything if you set your mind to it.


Why A Blog?

I was actually working as a creative copywriter when the idea for a book blog started to gain momentum in my thoughts. Before that job, the only time I’d really written anything at all was for school papers. And while I’d always received good feedback on those, I never really thought about using that strength in a setting where I’d be sharing my written words with an audience. I don’t have aspirations to be an author, I don’t think my writing is a ground breaking, earth shattering blessing to mankind, and the only reason I think I’m any good at it has to do with the simple fact that I just enjoy it. I’m more at ease writing down my thoughts than I am relaying them in person, and that’s especially true when most of my conversations with people result in me thinking of all the things I could’ve said or asked long after the event has passed.

I started this blog because I wanted an avenue to express my thoughts about what I read in a more personalized space, where I could get a bit creative with the design, and write a more personal and informal review than what you may find on Goodreads. ALL outside of my comfort zone, but rewarding should I choose to take the step forward and put my thoughts and opinions out there.

I also wanted to explore a book community that was unknown to me before registering with WordPress. Rather than remain solely on Goodreads, I want to meet new people, readers to share a love of books and stories and life experiences. I want discussion with people. Maybe even make some real life friends in the process, who knows? By starting a book blog, I was committing myself to an open-door opportunity that had I passed it up, may have regretted, or at least driven myself crazy with all of the “what-ifs.”


So that’s it for this post. If you’ve stuck around and read to this point, thank you for reading…and for your patience! And in the spirit of discussion, I’ll end by asking anyone reading, “what is your favorite way to learn a new story?”

Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge (The Pledge, #1)

“As I breathe, I pledge.”

5/5 Stars


Synopsis

Charlaina “Charlie” lives in Ludania, a country ruled bu a cruel monarch and strictly stratified by a caste system divided by language. The smallest transgression results in immediate death.

But Charlie has lived her whole life with a secret so dangerous that if anyone found out, she’d be killed. As the violent clashes between the totalitarian monarchy and the rebel forces escalate, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger.


My Thoughts

I thought this book was so well written, and the story captivating. The book is a young adult, dystopian/SF and follows Charlie throughout the chaotic world she lives in. The atmosphere is dark and oppressive, giving the reader a somewhat constant sense of dread and impending danger. I wasn’t exactly ‘on the edge of my seat’ but I definitely realized I was willing myself to read faster to match pace with how the characters felt in certain situations.

The world building was a bit lacking in that we get more about the mood and spirit of the different parts of this city than a queendom that is fully fleshed out to its full potential. I thought a map might have been helpful to have while traversing different areas of flight with the characters, but overall I certainly enjoyed the reading experience.

The characters are interesting and full of ideology that incites both danger and excitement. The author does a really great job of giving the reader a feel for this world through the characters, and the feeling lends itself perfectly to how individuals are affected by the caste system.

The Pledge is the first book in a trilogy, one which I am looking forward to continuing with very soon. But while I am really excited to continue with book 2, I did think that this one would have done perfectly well as a standalone without the need to continue on as a series. I guess my feelings on that topic will depend entirely on how well the rest of the series does. In case you’re interested in reading more, you can find the Goodreads page here.


Thanks for reading!

Review: Sisters of Arden by Judith Arnopp

Sisters of Arden

How will I find the strength to die a noble death, if there can be any nobility in a felon’s penalty?….Will I remember that God is merciful, that His forgiveness outweighs that of the king? Will I be strong enough to face it, or will I die like a screaming lunatic, fighting for blessed life until my final breath?

4/5 Stars


Synopsis

Arden Priory has remained unchanged for almost four hundred years. When a nameless child is abandoned at the gatehouse door, the nuns take her in and raise her as one of their own.
As Henry VIII’s second queen dies on the scaffold, the embittered King strikes out, and unprecedented change sweeps across the country. The bells of the great abbeys fall silent, the church and the very foundation of the realm begins to crack.
Determined to preserve their way of life, novitiate nuns Margery and Grace join a pilgrimage thirty thousand strong to lead the king back to grace.


My Thoughts

If you are looking for a happy book, this is not something I’d recommend. If your reading taste buds are craving a powerful historical fiction, however, then this is exactly what I would tell you to pick up next.

Despite the somewhat depressing nature of this book, I very much enjoyed reading it. You, the reader, will certainly embark on a pilgrimage of uncertainty, danger, and hardship. But there you will also see what it took for so many, so long ago, to summon up any ounce of bravery and drive within them to endure the suffering and cling to hope. You will see that although cruelty takes many forms in its parasitic existence, how kindness and regard for your fellow human speaks volumes, even during the darkest of times. You’ll see how strangers become family, leaning on one another for support and providing a sense of community. There is strength in numbers, but also danger.

I love a well written historical fiction. That is no secret. While there are SO many amazing HF books to absorb, unfortunately it can often be challenging for me to find one that truly suits my reading preferences, one that isn’t centered on a romance or more fiction than fact. I want historical fiction that uses imagination to turn those history book facts into a riveting story that places the reader in the shoes of those who lived it. Something that falls in the middle of a scale that measures fiction and non-fiction. I think the author did just that in this wonderfully written story.

The Sisters of Arden live a simple life in the middle of nowhere England, where they are bordering the line of extreme poverty. When they are turned out from their home, those whose pilgrimage stretch for miles will learn to draw on one another for strength. This story isn’t all sad or depressing though. You will get to experience moments of happiness through our characters, as they find pieces of joy in the small things and camaraderie in those around them. There are good times to be had around a small campfire, warmth, and family to share your burden with.

One aspect I appreciate about this book is that it’s not about the hardships of royalty, or England’s privileged. Rather, it puts the reader in the mind and heart of people with nothing to lose, who still manage to lose. I’ve heard the phrase, “reading fiction can make you more empathetic” and this book is just one example of what makes that a true statement. Reading pushes me to try and think more critically about what I read in the future, the next time I take a history class (for I am forever and always going back to college it seems 😉) or even when reading about current events. How one piece of historical fiction can encourage a person to think more critically about the world around them may sound pretty dramatic, wouldn’t you say? But it does. It can. These are the kinds of books I truly enjoy, ones that put me into the shoes of someone who’s shoes I rally don’t want to be in, and I wouldn’t want to trade places with.

And that’s basically it for my unintentionally ranty review. Overall, yes I would recommend this read to any historical fiction lovers out there. I received this as an ARC on Netgalley but I do believe it’s available for purchase as of December 2018. It was a wonderful read, and though it may be full of the nitty gritty hardships and depressing thoughts of those with little hope for the future, there are moments that give YOU hope for them, making you feel like you can go on even when they don’t feel the same. You can find the Goodreads page for Sisters of Arden here.


Let me know if you are planning to read this book, or if you have your own historical fiction recommendations for me. I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for more of those! And as always, I’d love to chat with you about your own preferences for reading HF, your likes, dislikes, etc. Thanks for reading!