Sunday, September 27, 2020

4 Books I Initially Disliked but Came to Enjoy

I was talking with one of my bookwyrm friends the other day, and we ended up on the topic of books that we once liked that the more we thought about them, the more we disliked. Which is an unfortunate part of being a reader. But then again, there’s always the reverse—books that we originally didn’t like but came to enjoy.

Normally, I don’t reread such books. If I didn’t like it the first time, why on earth would I read it again? The reasons differ, but usually it’s because I see the book in another light, whether it be from a sequel or a film adaptation. So I may give the book a second chance.

The following list is not to be confused with books that I’ve started, didn’t finish, and came back to. That’s a whole ‘nother list for a whole ‘nother time.

Books are organized by author’s last name.

1) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

This one may come as a shock considering how much I rant about how much I enjoy the series. But actually, when I first watched the movie, I thought it was okay. When I first read the book, I thought it was rather dull. When I read the rest of the series, I was hooked. I like the way the later books developed various alien species and explored concepts like religion, morality, and the meaning of sentience. 

Only after I finished the series could I go back and appreciate the original story, Ender’s Game, for its military strategy and psychology. 

2) Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I read this one as a teenager and disliked it. Then I did a terrible thing. One of my best friends bought a copy, and I asked her why she would do that? Didn’t she know how dark it was? Fast forward a couple years, and I gave the book a shot again and enjoyed it. I even went on to read the rest of the trilogy, and I bought it. 

For me, I feel like there should be the phrase: “Don’t judge a book by your teenage impression of it.” Nowadays, if I find one of my reader friends enjoys a book that I didn’t care for, I may state my opinion on it, or I may not. Most of all, I try to offer some sort of encouragement and not influence their decision. 

3) A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

I can’t say I read this one as a teenager and disliked it. No. Rather, I read it as a teenager and hated it. Hated is a word here that means I thought the book was incredibly depressing and why would any stable person want to read the entire series? 

Fast forward to my time studying for my M.B.A., and the Netflix adaptation came out. I gave it a try and reread the first book, then the rest of the series. Suffice to say, I’m not stable. The series itself is something you either enjoy tolerate, or you hate. I tried to get my sister to watch it with me, but she hates it. 

4) The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

I hope nobody hates me for this one. I read a lot when I was a teenager, but not near as much as I read now. Very rarely did I read lengthy epics. Though I was a fan of the Lord of the Rings films (extended editions only, thank you very much), I had a hard time getting into the books. It wasn’t until after the fellowship left Rivendell that I claimed the book really picked up and got interesting. 

Now, after several years, I’ve decided to reread the books and am loving The Fellowship of the Ring. The pace may not be your typical YA novel, but it’s in no sense dull. If anything, I don’t remember the book being as suspenseful as it is. I find myself constantly asking, “How are Frodo and company not dead yet?” That being said, I’ve also come to enjoy all the poems, especially after memorizing the films and the songs and being able to place where the lines originally came from. 

While a lot of the songs are included in the films, some of the more obscure ones have been done by YouTubers. If you haven’t listened to Peter Hollens’ Lord of the Rings and Hobbit songs, you should do so now. My personal favorites are all of them “Gollum’s Song,” “Into the West,” and the “Hobbit Drinking Medley.” 

If I’m going to be completely honest, though, I don’t make a habit of rereading books I initially dislike. More often than not, they don’t end up on my bookshelf, except for the brief time that I check them out from the library. I suppose you could say this list is an exception. But it’s also a reminder that sometimes opinions change. While there are plenty of books that I didn’t care for as much the second time around, it’s exciting when I find a new treasure in a book I didn’t used to like. 

Let’s chat! What are some books you initially disliked and came to enjoy? Have you read any of the ones I listed? How often do you reread books? 


Friday, September 25, 2020

Dandelion Symphony Release Day!

Fall is in the air in the Northern Hemisphere, except maybe in the southern US. I could go outside and get sunburned if I wanted to, though I did wear a sweater earlier this week. It’s Friday, the 25th of September to be precise, two days after Frodo left Bag End. Do you know what else today is? Release day! Dandelion Symphony is out!

I actually found a dandelion in my yard!


… pages of this life—

these books take root

in the otherwise hardened patio of the mind.


What does it mean to be from multiple places? How does perspective change over time? What happens when a bookworm enjoys the outdoors? How does a situational introvert handle interaction with other people? This collection of poems is an exploration of the life of an army brat living in Europe. From studying abroad in England and travelling in Italy to living and working in Germany, these poems explore settings both extraordinary and ordinary alike.


As promised, here’s a quick video of me reading one of the poems from the book and a clip of me unboxing my proof copy.



Get your copy today!

Barnes & Noble (US, e-book)

Amazon (international, e-book and print)

Signed print (US only)

Let’s chat! What did you think of the reading? How about the “unboxing?” What’s your favorite season?


Similar posts: Dandelion Symphony Blog Tour, Dandelion Symphony Cover Reveal, and My Process for Writing Poetry

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Dandelion Symphony Blog Tour

As you may have noticed, my blog schedule is all mixed up this month. Why is that, you might ask? Well, this Friday is the release date for Dandelion Symphony! In the meantime, I’m hosting a brief blog tour in celebration! 

For details, check out the schedule below.


… pages of this life—
these books take root
in the otherwise hardened patio of the mind.

What does it mean to be from multiple places? How does perspective change over time? What happens when a bookworm enjoys the outdoors? How does a situational introvert handle interaction with other people? This collection of poems is an exploration of the life of an army brat living in Europe. From studying abroad in England and travelling in Italy to living and working in Germany, these poems explore settings both extraordinary and ordinary alike.

First stop: A Boggus Life
Sunday, September 21 

Interested in another writer’s take on some of our shared adventures in Europe and some of the places on which I based many of my poems? Check out Faith Boggus’ blog to read more! She also writes poetry and blog posts about baking, so be sure to check them out!

Second stop: Midgard’s Writers
Tuesday, September 22 

Want to know about my poem-writing process? Drop by Alicia Canet’s blog to find out! She also teaches a writing workshop in France, so for those interested in the French language, you can check out her other posts as well. For those not familiar with French, some of her posts are translated into English.  

Third stop: Drops of Inspira
Wednesday, September 23 

Want to know what a recipient of an advanced reader copy (ARC) thinks of the book? Check out Julia Garcia’s book review on her blog to find out! She also writes poems of her own, so be sure to check them out!

Final stop: Here! 
Release day, Friday, September 25 

Check back on release day to hear me read “Dandelion Seeds,” the poem that helped in part to give the collection its title. 

Thanks again to all my fellow blogger friends who took part in this tour! 

Don’t forget, you can pre-order Dandelion Symphony now! For my US readers, I recommend Barnes & Noble for the e-books. You can download the Nook app on most computers. Or you can pre-order a printed signed copy here (US only). For my international friends, you can pre-order the e-book on Amazon.

Happy reading! 


Let’s chat! Has Dandelion Symphony made it to your TBR list yet? What is your favorite element of poetry? Do you like writing poetry? 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Book Review: Of Myth and Monster

This story is my favorite. No, this one! No… Argh! I like them all!

I always get excited when the Phoenix Fiction Writers come out with something new, whether it be an anthology or a book by an individual author. The only problem is, they often come out with stuff so fast that I can’t keep up! Which means there’s plenty to read of course, and my TBR will never be sad.

Of the authors who are a part of PFW, I am most familiar with the works of Hannah Heath, Kyle Robert Shultz, and Nate Philbrick. Anthologies like this one keep introducing me to new authors with their wonderful stories. Last year, they came out with Strange Waters (5/5 stars), and this year, they recently released Of Myth and Monster.

I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.



Book: Of Myth and Monster by Hannah Heath, Kyle Robert Shultz, Beth Wangler, E. B. Dawson, C. Scott Frank, Grace Crandall, Deck Matthews, Nate Philbrick, and J. E. Purrazzi

Genre: Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Short Stories

My rating: 5/5 stars

Year published: 2020

Short description: magic-filled and meaningful


“Mistakes Were Made” by Hannah Heath

The first story in the anthology features a fantasy adventure of a college student who accidentally loses her friend’s homework to a mythological creature. I particularly like how the story is a prequel to her series on Wattpad, So I Accidentally Killed the Chosen One. Readers get a glimpse at some of the characters before their main adventure begins.

Though I sometimes struggle to imagine the settings of Heath’s stories, I always enjoy the characters. Guillerma and Mundo make quite the contrast, and now I’m curious to see if Mundo will have a large role in the rest of the series as well.

Then there’s gems like this one that describes the stress of college finals perfectly:

“I pull myself together and scramble to my feet only to be jostled by a guy wrapped in what looks like coffee-stained bed sheets.

“‘No sleep, no time, gotta study,’ he mutters as he stumbles down the hallway, an art project tucked under one arm and VR goggles tucked beneath the other.”

Overall thoughts: funny and relatable


“The Boy Who Listened” by Kyle Robert Shultz

“I just can’t fully express them in a way that everyone else can understand. If I tried, I’d probably just make it harder for people to listen to me. So I keep those feelings inside, and people think that’s brave, but it’s not. Not always, at least. Sometimes I don’t want to be brave.”

Of all Shultz’s stories and books that I’ve read, this one is probably my favorite so far. While he typically writes humorous stories, this one is a little more series, and the themes were excellent! I actually found myself empathizing with the main character, Noah. At first, I thought he perceives things one way, but as the story went on, I realized it was much deeper. He just wants people to be able to understand him, even though he has difficulty communicating.

Then the Greek deities as teachers tied in with a magical academy provided a familiar basis for a fantasy story. I particularly like how Athena turns into a sleepy owl during the day and a librarian at night.

Overall thoughts: relatable and heartfelt


“H.E.R.O.” by Beth Wangler

“‘Fear devours,’ she could almost hear her mom saying. ‘Tell it you’re not on the menu and keep living.’”

The first sci-fi/fantasy story in the collection! This one jumps right into the action, providing a report about events before the beginning of the story, then gradually builds up the main action. Which is amazing!

I particularly like the way it intersperses reports and news clippings with the main narrative, which progresses rather quickly but not at a rushed pace. I particularly enjoyed how the story incorporates various fantasy species into a futuristic society, especially seeing a civilian minotaur on a train, a pygmy phoenix as a pet, and a siren on Hestia’s team.

The themes were excellent too, and I just love Hestia’s perspective. Though I’m curious to see how her life would play out afterward.

Overall thoughts: stunning


“The Gods of Troy” by E. B. Dawson

Yet another story that combines sci-fi and fantasy elements. Though this one actually takes place in space with the interdimensional gods of Troy determined to destroy Odysseus. An interesting approach on The Odyssey, what with the crew sailing a wooden ship through space and wielding swords. The story itself only covers the mouth of Scylla, though it hints at a later quest of destroying Hades. I’m curious to see how Dawson writes more of this fictional universe.

Overall thoughts: complex world-building


“The Unicorn Tamer” by C. Scott Frank

“Wub-Nub contemplated this. And then contemplated harder. After giving himself a very minor headache somewhere between his left eye and his right shoulder blade, he decided he should probably stop contemplating it before he inflicted permanent damage.”

I’ve never read anything by Frank before, but I heard he joined the Phoenix Fiction Writers not too long ago. This particular sci-fi-fantasy story hints at a certain story that shall-not-be-named but is pretty obvious from furry creatures that live on a moon and slightly resemble but are not Ewoks. At first, I found it a little annoying as I am not a fan of Star Wars nor Ewoks, but I ultimately liked the way Frank developed his world with a grumpy protagonist, Wub-Nub, the island he lives on, and the fantastical creatures there. There’s even a point where the characters break the fourth wall.

The only thing I can’t stand is the ending. HOW DARE IT END LIKE THAT!!! I’m still mad, thank you very much.

Overall thoughts: humorous yet infuriating


“Lamp of Silver” by Grace Crandall

“How could any life not be something to rejoice over? Another set of ears to share the sounds of the world with, another pair of eyes to drink in the light?”

This story is beautiful. The writing style simply drew me in, and the themes concerning life and death were excellent! Another story set aboard a ship, but this one takes a more traditional, sea-faring approach. Oh, yeah, and it’s about pirates. Yasser, the protagonist, first encounters magic on an island when he meets a not a genie but a memento, who is insistent on telling him an important fact of life.

Overall thoughts: meaningful


“The Staff of Callewhyr” by Deck Matthews

The story of Renlyn, a monk on a journey he didn’t ask for, with Arnak, a protector who lost his uncle. Or did he? From a tiresome ride on horseback to a boat ride across a subterranean lake, this fantasy story features complex characters as well as a complex world. At first, I was concerned that the ending would be too easy, and I wondered how Renlyn of all people would manage to get out a scrape, but Matthews sets up the story rather well. Like many of the other stories in the collection, the ending is complete but rather open ended, and I’m curious to read more about Renlyn and Arnak.

Overall thoughts: more intricate world-building


“Aura” by Nate Philbrick

“… the hillside settled into a palpable silence. Trees rose through the fog like the dark masts of a hundred ships lost at sea. The trail beneath our feet swiftly faded and vanished without a hint of what lay ahead.”

A story about loss, love, and loyalty. Oliver just wanted to study journalism when he got recruited for a war. Months later, he’s on a journey to help find a doctor who will heal Mónica of her tuberculosis. Not only does the story have great characters, but it also has a great setting. Up in the Pyrenees Mountains, the Oli and Món encounter a touch of magic and a group of orphans. This story almost made me cry. Seriously so heartbreaking and yet so, so good!

Overall thoughts: heartfelt


“The Eyes of the Barghest” by J. E. Purrazzi

The perfect conclusion to a collection of epic sci-fi-fantasy stories. This one is pure fantasy, though, and it’s set amid the snow-filled woods as Eyva and her sister Brit are heading to a fjord to escape the plague that has taken their family from them. This story had me shivering. It didn’t help that the AC in my house is on high. Then the whole mythical element of the barghest was so well-executed and heartbreaking.

Overall thoughts: memorable


I still don’t have a favorite among these stories. They’re all good!

Of Myth and Monster just released yesterday, which is super exciting!

Interested in the book? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these books: Strange Waters by the Phoenix Fiction Writers (Dawson, Frank, Garrett, Heath, Phibrick, Pierce, Purrazzi and Shultz), The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shutlz, and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.


Let’s chat! Has Of Myth and Monster made it to your to-be-read list yet? Have you read it yet? Have any monstrous fantasy/sci-fi recommendations?




Similar book reviews: The Light at the Bottom of the World to The Art of Feeling, Strange Waters, and Fawkes

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Poem: Pterolycus

Pterolycus: mythological creature, a winged wolf


After people ask me where I’m from and get a plethora of answers—Germany, Italy, Texas, Washington State—they often ask me which place I like the most. Another impossible question. I usually tell them that I don’t have a favorite. I like wherever I’m living at the time while I’m there. It’s not fair to compare places by ranking. Germany has some gorgeous forests and mountains, but nothing compares to the climate and beaches of Hawaii. Even the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas is beautiful with its striking blue skies and endless sea of poppies that covers the mountain foothills in the spring.

Sometimes though, I’ll miss an aspect of one place while I’m living somewhere else. I missed the beach in Germany. I missed the sunshine in England. Yet there are still places I miss less than others. I have less sentimental attachment, in other words. I like to jokingly call Missouri “misery” because of the pronunciation similarities, even though I was never really miserable living there. It’s just that the state has little attraction for me, aside from the people who live there.

I have a similar detachment regarding England. Hold on, you might be thinking. Didn’t you love England! Sure, I write about it a lot. I love English Literature. I love the rain. Living there was an adventure! But it’s like Bilbo said before he set out: sometimes adventures are “Nasty, disturbing, and uncomfortable things.” Yes, I had plenty of good times in England, and I did earn my MA in Literature there after all, but it was a hard time for me as well. Though a lot of it is fictionalized, this poem is about such a time.




All my life, I’d been told,
“My how fast you can run—
don’t you want to join the pack
in a hunt or maybe
scout the paths ahead?”
Why ever would I want
to lope up the slope
only to stare and howl
at the Moon?

Now that I’ve found
the green where they leap and soar,
I realize
I’m not ready.
I know these wings of mine
are meant to fly,
but I can barely get off the ground.

They say one in every two wolves
that roam these plains
turns out to be a loner—
I didn’t ask for the way
my legs get scratched when I falter
in the air and crash into the rocks,
nor the way my feathers are ruffled and bent
from yet another fight,
bared fangs,
snapping jaws.
This is nothing like my song
to the Moon.

Now I limp onward,
blood crusts over my wounds, 
and I spread my wings.
Only when I am able
to lope again
can I finally
                                        get off the ground.
I may not be able to fly as high
or as long as you—
not yet—
but maybe someday I will.

When I return to the forest,
my scabs have turned to scars,
hidden under tufts of fur and feathers,
and I’m asked,
“Don’t you miss the freedom of the green?”
If freedom is a fight
encrusted with snapping teeth
and empty days,
I don’t miss it
at all.

Yet I wouldn’t change
the way I now
take to the sky,
surpassing the limbs of trees
and climb higher
until I reach the cliffs,
rest on my haunches
and howl at the Moon.




Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? For those who have moved, is there any place in particular you miss? That you don’t miss? If a mythological creature represented a part of your life, which creature would it be?

Similar poems: Homesick, Origins, and Silent Words