Author Archives: Zarah Robinson

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Good-bye 2020, Hello 2021

I’m going to be honest. This is the time of year that I usually take a while to sit and ponder the previous year of books, pick out favorites and make a “best of” list, maybe discuss a publishing trend I loved or hated, etc. Then, I usually look forward to the coming year and set goals and intentions.

But after the way 2020 has beaten us all down, plus some of the personal distractions I have in my life at the moment, I just don’t have the energy for it. I’ve written an end-of-year/beginning-of -year post every year for the seven years I’ve kept this blog. But this year, I think all I can manage is a place holder and some simple, representative graphics. Maybe I’ll feel up to coming back to it at some future point.

Here’s what I can pull together. Goodreadsmy main reading challenge of the year—tells me I read 214 books this year. I’d set my goal at 200. I’ll admit a lot of these were on the shorter side, but they were books and I read them. So, this is a success. (Lord, I need a success.)

I used to really love keeping tabs on the number of pages I’ve read. It’s just the sort of collective thing I enjoy. But this year I’ve listened to more audiobooks than ever and Goodreads doesn’t count audiobook pages, so the page count isn’t accurate. (Insert sad face here.)

I’ve found that the more stressed I become (between Covid, money, house projects we started before everything went into free-fall and we’re trying to finish, etc) the harder it is to sit and read a book. I think the amount of time I’ve spent on Audible sums it up in a clear, visual representation.

Looking forward into the coming year, I’ve set my Goodread’s challenge at 200 again. That is well below my highest year, which was a goal of 300 and 364 books actually read in 2016, but still a respectable number.

I’ll be honest though. Unless 2021 truly does ameliorate some of 2020’s drama, I’ll only hit 200 books read if 150 of those books are in audio. Seriously! Not to disparage audiobooks. I consider listening to them reading, just as truly as a paper book. But I don’t really want all my books to be on audio. That’s not where my love is.

You can obviously expect things to run as always here on the blog. I’ll read books and post reviews, some thoughtful and academic, but most emotional responses to my time spent in an imaginary world. They run the gamut, depending on how I’m feeling when I finish a book.

I have joined a few book tours, which is relatively new. I’ve always excepted book review request, but tours are a new thing for me. I’m still deciding how I feel about them. I like the access to books, the chance to help authors gather reviews and a little online visibility, and the graphics. I’m not loving being given a specific date to post that review. I rather like finishing a book and immediately writing and posting a review. We’ll see how it goes.

“We’ll see how it goes” should probably just be my slogan for 2021, maybe even a mantra.

We’ll see how it goes.
We’ll see how it goes.
We’ll see how it goes.
We’ll see how it goes.

Anyhow, as I said, hopefully I’ll feel up to addressing 2020 and developing and diving into some goals for 2021 at a future time. As it is, I’m impressed I got as much as I did down ‘on paper.’ If nothing else I am soooo happy to see the back-end of 2020.


While I might be feeling stressed, such that my concentration is too shot to condense a year of reading 214 books into one more detailed post, I do feel hopeful for the future and wish everyone the best of the coming year and lots and lots and lots of good books.

May the cover always be accurate, the title descriptive, the genre true, and the ending satisfying.

lava red feather blue title

Book Review: Lava Red Feather Blue, by Molly Ringle

I didn’t think I’d squeeze one more book into 2020. But I did…just barely. In fact, I’m cheating a little. I read ~75% of this in 2020 and the last ~25% (roughly 2 hours worth) past the midnight deadline. (I’m sure it was still 2020 somewhere though, right?)

lava red feather blueI received a copy of Lava Red Feather Blue, by Molly Ringle, through Netgalley. I’ve actually held on to it a surprisingly long time, waiting to review it a little closer to the 2021 publication date. It felt like a good book to end the year on.

lava red feather blue logo

Awakening the handsome prince is supposed to end the fairy tale, not begin it. But the Highvalley witches have rarely done things the way they’re supposed to. On the north Pacific island of Eidolonia, hidden from the world by enchantments, Prince Larkin has lain in a magical sleep since 1799 as one side of a truce between humans and fae. That is, until Merrick Highvalley, a modern-day witch, discovers an old box of magic charms and cryptic notes hidden inside a garden statue.

Experimenting with the charms, Merrick finds himself inside the bower where Larkin lies, and accidentally awakens him. Worse still, releasing Larkin from the spell also releases Ula Kana, a faery bent on eradicating humans from the island. With the truce collapsing and hostilities escalating throughout the country, Merrick and Larkin form an unlikely alliance and become even unlikelier heroes as they flee into the perilous fae realm on a quest to stop Ula Kana and restore harmony to their island.

lavea red feather blueReview:
On the whole, I enjoyed this. I thought it was a sweet story with several important themes and moral quandaries to consider. I very much liked both Larkin and Merrick (as well as Merrick’s family). There was admirable representation and little angst about any of it, letting human/fae relations stand allegorically in place of some important human/human biases. It worked and was a pleasure to read.

I did think the whole thing too long and the Hero’s Quest plotting a little too apparent. There is a certain plodding, first we do this, then we do this next thing, and then we do the next thing, each progressively harder; the villain only showing up at the beginning or end of each stage, such that they never felt truly threatening, etc.

I did read a per-publication ARC, which means the book hadn’t had it’s final edit. So, I can’t speak to editing. All in all, however, I’d be more than happy read more of Ringle’s writing.

Book Review: Shadow King, by Susan K. Hamilton

shadow kingA few weeks back, I (or rather my Sadie’s Spotlight persona) had an Amazon credit that I decided to spend on books written by Twitter followers. Shadow King, by Susan K. Hamilton, was one of those books.

It’s likely to be the last book I read in 2020. There’s a chance I might finish one more before the new year, but not a great one.

about the book

Ambition. Betrayal. Revenge.

Centuries ago, the Faerie Realm was decimated by a vile and corrupt spell. To survive, the different faerie races—led by the Fae—escaped to the Human Realm where they’ve lived ever since.

As the Fae Patriarch of Boston’s criminal underworld, Aohdan Collins enjoys his playboy lifestyle while he works from the shadows to expand his growing empire, until one night when he shares a shot of whiskey with the lovely Seireadan Moore…

A Fae Seer, Seireadan is haunted by a vision of the Fae responsible for destroying Faerie and murdering her family. Common sense tells her to stay away from Aohdan, but his magnetism and charm are irresistible.As their passionate affair intensifies, Seireadan is pulled into the center of the underworld. And while her heart is bound to Aohdan, she cannot let go of her lifelong quest to hunt down the Fae who haunts her visions… especially when she realizes Aohdan might be the key to helping her find him.

But is revenge worth betraying the one she loves?

my review

This wasn’t bad, but I think it was a little overly long, the plot could have been tightened up a bit, and there were some super cliched elements. However, having said that, I liked the characters, liked that females (at least females of note to the story) were shown to be as capable, blood-thirsty, and powerful as men, and liked the general world (even if it’s not deeply developed).

All in all, I found it quite readable and would be happy to pick up another of Hamilton’s books.