Book Challenges-Week 24

This was an unusually slow week in the reading department for me. I had a few things going on, one of which was doing another edit and polish on my manuscript, Not Dead Enough. I’m heading to the Writer’s League of Texas conference this coming weekend, and since I was a finalist in their manuscript contest, am hoping to generate some interest in my book.

Popsugar Challenge

(19/50) No progress this week

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)- No progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 17

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Whiskey Beach, by Nora Roberts (romance): I’m a big fan of Nora Roberts. I think she’s amazing. She’s prolific, her characters are always flawed but likable, and she knows how to tell a story. Of course, I like some of her books more than others.

This one is a mystery. Eli Landon was accused of killing his soon-to-be ex-wife. He wasn’t charged, but was convicted in the court of public opinion. He’s come to Whiskey Beach to recharge, and in the process, starts to uncover who may have done it, and why.

I won’t say it’s the best book she’s ever written, but it’s solid and entertaining.

5 Classic Books

(1/5) Finally!

Miscellaneous Reading

None this week

Abandoned

None this week.

2018 Running Total: 71

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges?

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12 Responses To Excuses About Why You’re Not Reading

 

Luna isn’t impressed by your excuses.

In 2015, the average American read 12 books a year, but that number is skewed by those of us who read many, many more than that. The most reported number of books read is 4, and I know plenty of people who haven’t read a single book in the last year.

 

That blows my mind! I couldn’t function without reading, and if you told me I could only read 12 books in a year, I’d cry. Truthfully. Then I’d just read those 12 books over and over.

The same study reported that people in the US only spend about 5 hours, 45 minutes reading every week. Give me a day off, and I’ll do that in a day. Not even a challenge.

I think reading is important for a lot of reasons. Studies have indicated that reading fiction increases empathy, vocabulary, and prevents cognitive decline.

Reading is a cheap vacation, a good antidepressant, and quieter than TV.

There’s also a phenomenon called popcorn brain. Basically, with all the short bits of information we’re taking in all the time, we’re training our brains to be less able to pay attention.

People are interested in reading. Whenever I’m out with a book, I see people trying to check out my book cover, and people do frequently ask what I’m reading and if it’s good. This used to annoy me, but it annoys me less now that I seldom see people reading books in public. I’m trying to set a good example.

Books are sold in every store; they’re in grocery stores, warehouse stores, pharmacies, etc.

People want to read. So why aren’t they?

Here are some responses to the most common excuses I hear…

If you don’t have enough time to read…

  1. Never go anywhere without a book. There’s always dead time. I read while waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting at appointments, while I’m stirring a pot on the stove. If I happen to forget my book (and it does happen), no problem! I have the kindle app on my phone, and I can go to the library webpage, download a digital book, and I’m back in business!
  2. Turn off the TV. I get it; you’re invested in watching The Walking Dead. Me too. But there are only 16 episodes a year, at 45 minutes each, which means that’s only a 12-hour annual commitment in your life. Or if you don’t want to turn off the TV, at least read during commercials.
  3. Limit social media. Do you remember that really important thing you were reading on social media yesterday? No? Then it wasn’t important. Stop checking it so often. Life’s too short to devote energy to stuff that doesn’t matter.
  4. Try audiobooks. I didn’t get on the audiobook train that long ago, but there really are a lot of great, well-narrated audiobooks out there. Audiobooks can be listened to while driving, exercising, cleaning the house, walking the dog, browsing for groceries… the list goes on.
  5. Set a small goal. If you want to read more but don’t have time, start with 10-15 minutes a day. Yeah, it will take awhile to get through the book, but if that’s more than you’re reading now, it’s an improvement.
  6. Read anthologies. Short stories don’t feel like as big of a commitment as an entire novel. So if you find a book of short stories (in any genre), it can feel more manageable, but be just as enjoyable.

If you can’t find anything you want to read…

  1. Use the library. I’ve found so many books I didn’t know about just browsing the shelves there. Most libraries have interesting displays of new books, and you can always ask a librarian for a recommendation.
  2. Check Amazon. If there’s a book you liked, if you search for it, Amazon will suggest other books like it. It’s a great place to start.
  3. Google it. Not too long ago, I Googled “Best YA horror books.” I ended up with tons of results, and after reading several book lists, I found books that showed up on more than one list. After reading several of them, I have to agree that the lists were spot-on.
  4. Re-read something you liked. I get in these moods where I can’t find anything I want to read, so I go back to an old favorite I love. It’s okay to read kids’ books. YA is growing in popularity among adults, but plenty of us read middle grade from time to time too. The only criteria for reading a book is that you enjoy it.
  5. Check out Goodreads. There are lists for every type of book you can imagine (and some you can’t). If you know you like a certain type of book, you can see what’s well-rated, read reviews, follow people who might like the same books you do.
  6. Re-visit favorite authors. If you’ve liked an author in the past, check out what they’re writing now. Sometimes something new (or old) will pique your interest.

Any other suggestions for reading more or finding something great to read?

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Book Challenges- Week 23

Popsugar Challenge

(19/50)

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A childhood classic you’ve never read: Matilda, by Roald Dahl: Even though I’m not eight years old anymore, I still loved this book. It’s got everything that makes a great kid’s book: magic, a super-smart girl, bullies/ villains, and a sympathetic adult. It was great fun to read, and it makes me want to watch the movie sometime.

 

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)- No progress this week… I did intend to make progress on this goal. I read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, for the category of “a book that takes place in one day. I read online that this book takes place in a day, but it doesn’t; it’s two days. Being a stickler for rules, when it suits me, I’ll read something else for that category.

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 16

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I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson (YA fiction): I LOVED this book. It’s told from the point of view of twins. Noah tells what happened when they were 13, and Jude tells what happened when they were 16. The twins used to be inseparable, and then they were completely separate. As I was reading this book, I laughed, I cried (well, teared up a bit), and I highlighted. There were so many great concepts in this book, and I liked that both twins did some things they shouldn’t have, but I cared about them anyway. I wanted to both hug them and give them a good shake throughout the book.

Incidentally, if you’re doing the Popsugar challenge, this would be a great book for either the category of a book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist or the one with a book about twins.

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Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom (fiction): This was a reread for me. Someone “borrowed” my copy at some point, so I’d re-purchased it when I saw it at Goodwill.

I remember liking this book a lot more the first time I read it. I didn’t remember anything about it, so it was like reading it for the first time. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t move me. I didn’t have the urge to highlight anything or discuss it with anyone afterward. It was decent and enjoyable enough while reading, but now I understand why I forgot it the first time.

5 Classic Books

(1/5) Finally!

 

Miscellaneous Reading

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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, by Matthew Quick (YA fiction): Leonard Peacock has five presents to give out, then he intends to kill his former best friend and himself. Throughout the day, he thinks things like, if anyone remembers his birthday, he won’t kill himself.

Leonard is a misfit, a little too strange and too interesting to really fit in. Still, he has people who care about him, and it shows.

What I liked (no spoilers): There were people throughout the day who noticed his odd behavior and expressed concern, and people who didn’t. That felt realistic to me.

What I didn’t like (no spoilers): The ending. It’s not a bad ending; I don’t want to give you that impression, but it felt unfinished, and I was unprepared. I read the Kindle version, and most books end around 97%. This book ended at 83% because (in my version, at least), there’s a bunch of stuff after, like an excerpt from a new book. So, just be warned.

If you want the full review with spoilers, click here to go to Goodreads.

 

Abandoned

None this week.

2018 Running Total: 70

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

How Do They Have Nice Clothes In the Apocalypse?

 

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Look at how nicely they’re dressed!

My husband and I re-watched Battlestar Galactica earlier this year. I love that show; it’s got fantastic characters and a great plot.

 

One thing that bothered me when I watched it was how they manage to have such nice clothing. The clothing is neat and pressed, without tears or obvious repairs. The clothing has matching buttons, like they had a stock of them for when someone lost one (and it would happen.) At one point, “the last tube of toothpaste” is offered as a reward for something. So they have limited toothpaste, but unlimited uniforms?

I always wonder about that in shows like The Walking Dead too. Although their clothing does get dirty, torn, and bloodied, it always fits nicely and reflects the style of the person wearing it. It’s like they all had stylists or something. 🙂 I can’t even manage to dress well when I have access to every store in existence.

I realize that it’s a show and I’m supposed to suspend disbelief. And honestly, I do. It’s just that I struggle to believe that no one on the show ever thought about this. And if they did, why didn’t they just offer me an explanation? I’d be willing to buy even a bad explanation.

Am I the only one who wonders about things like this?

 

Book Challenges- Week 22

Popsugar Challenge

(18/50)

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A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist: None of the Above, by IW Gregorio (YA LGBTQ+): Krissy is a popular girl, the homecoming queen, with a super hot boyfriend. When she finds out she’s intersex, her world changes.

Overall, I liked this book, but I didn’t love it, and I could have. I’m going to keep this review spoiler-free, so read on, if you’re interested.

What I liked: The book was written by a doctor and was inspired by what she imagined it would be like to find out you’re intersex, after meeting an intersex teen girl. That means that the doctor parts are probably accurate. I didn’t know anything about being intersex before reading this book, other than information I peripherally heard from the Olympian who was challenged as being female based on her chromosomes. I thought it was just about chromosomes and didn’t realize that there can also be internal male sex organs, which just complicates the issue more. I thought it was well done as far as imagining some of the emotions that someone, on finding out their diagnosis, would go through.

What I didn’t like: When Krissy’s secret gets out, she’s bullied. (That’s on the back cover, so it’s not a spoiler.) And that was fine. We all know kids bully anyone different. What I didn’t like was how some of her other relationships changed because of her diagnosis and reaction to it. It felt written just to create drama. I also thought her romantic relationship was way too convenient and predictible. I definitely wanted her to find love because I think that books should set a good example, and positive relationships are part of that. And her romantic interest was great. But it all came together too conveniently for me. (My full review with spoilers is on Goodreads, so if you’re curious about what I’m specifically talking about, feel free to check it out.)

What I’m not sure of: I read the reviews on Goodreads, and though I didn’t see a review from anyone identifying as intersex, many members of the LGBTQ+ community didn’t like it. In my mind, that’s not a reason to skip it. Some of their reasons didn’t resonate with me, but others did. I just wish that when the author talked about her expereience writing the book, she had mentioned if she had anyone who actually was intersex read the book. I wish I knew how close the experience is to the story of someone who’s been through it.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)- No progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 14

5 Classic Books

(1/5) Finally!

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The Stand, by Stephen King (horror): I read the uncut version, which clocked in at 1153 pages. Though I enjoyed it, there were times I honestly started to wonder if I was ever going to get through it. Why is it that reading one 1200 page book takes so much longer than four 300 page books?

This book never got boring, to me, but it did drag on a bit in spots. It was great getting to know all the major characters in such a deep way, but I don’t know if I would have missed it if some of that had been cut out. I probably would have liked the original version better because for most of his books, I think Stephen King’s editor is asleep at the wheel. I still love his books, but I’d like them more if there were less of them.

Even though I knew good had to triumph over evil, this book still kept me on the edge of my seat, and I was desperate to know who’d live and who’d die, if Frannie’s baby would live, and what would happen to Tom. I can tell you that the ending was one of the most satisfying ones I’ve ever read.

I’m so glad I read this and irritated with myself for putting it off as long as I did, but it was an endeavor. It took me almost a month to get through, though I did take breaks and read other books in between. I love to read, so usually, when I’m done, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished any particular thing. With this book though, I’m totally giving myself a pat on the back!

Miscellaneous Reading

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The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins (YA dystopia/ fantasy): I was traveling, and I needed a good audiobook. Since I do best with rereads, The Hunger Games seemed like the perfect travel book. It really was great to relive it on audio, though I didn’t love the narrator at first. She had an English accent, and I kept thinking, “Wasn’t Katniss from what used to be the US?” Eventually, the narrator grew on me because she differentiated voices so well. She slurred Haymitch just enough to show he was drunk, but not so much that I coudln’t understand him.

The only thing that annoyed me with The Hunger Games on audio is that I didn’t like the present tense narration. I never even noticed it when I was reading the books, but on audio, it stuck out in a bad way.

I did enjoy the reread though, so much that I came home and read the other two. The books are just as fun as I remembered.

Abandoned

None this week.

2018 Running Total: 66

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

#sorrynotsorry 5 Books I Love That Others (Claim To) Hate

I sometimes see people apologize for or defend their entertainment choices and I wonder… why? Unless it involves kicking puppies, why apologize for what entertains you?

You like stupid comedies? Right on. Trashy romance? Enjoy. Snooty literary fiction? Good for you. Books that cause other to become suicidally depressed? Have fun!

The thing is that there are lots of people out there who love to judge. They’ll judge you for what you eat, what you wear, what you watch, who you love, what you read. If someone wants to judge you, they’ll find a reason.

What others think of you is none of your business. Seriously.

As long as you aren’t hurting anyone or inciting violence, you shouldn’t have to defend your choices or explain. I’m tired of the ubiquitousness of judgemental attitudes these days.

One thing I’ll never apologize for is what I like to read.

There are lots of people out there who like to hate on popular books, as if hating something automatically makes you smart. Don’t get me wrong; there are some popular books I’m just not into. But I don’t think it’s because I have better taste or anything like that; it’s just personal taste.

Judging by the sales of these books and the ratings on Goodreads, others like these books too, even though it’s popular to hate on them. Oh well… I’ve never been a cool kid anyway.

The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown (mystery/ thriller): No one ever claimed this was literature, but it’s great fun and a fast read.

The Host, by Stephanie Meyer (science fiction): I LOVE this book. It’s not hardcore science fiction and probably appeals more to readers of romance or YA, but I loved the characters and the relationships. Maybe she’s not the world’s best writer, but when I’m engaged enough in the story, I don’t even notice.

Divergent, by Veronica Roth (YA science fiction): People who criticize this one say things like, “It doesn’t make sense,” or that the world building was sloppy. Many people criticized the idea of breaking people into factions. Maybe I’m just more willing to suspend disbelief than most people, but none of it bothered me. I liked the characters and enjoyed the ride.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (YA science fiction): Critics say the characters were blank, the plot was predictable, and that Peeta was creepy (not romantic). I liked Katniss. I thought the plot was fine… sometimes predictable is good. And the argument that Peeta should have declared himself before, and not doing so, but loving her from a distance all that time is stalkerish… I feel like being a stalker is about action, not inaction. Team Peeta 4-ever.

Fearscape, by Nenia Campbell (YA horror): This is a three book series, and while I have numerous problems with it (more as the series went on), there are things I loved so much about it that I’m willing to deal with it. There’s a creepy stalker “romantic” interest who is actually a stalker. Yes, the main character is attracted to him, but she nopes out once she realizes that he’s crazy. Of course, that doesn’t help, but at least she tries. The book would have benefitted greatly from an editor (and even more as the books go on). But… even though I hate lazy writing, I can’t bring myself to hate this one. Please edit and republish, okay?

What books do you love that others (claim to) hate?

Finalist in the Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Contest!

Hey everyone, guess what! My manuscript, Not Dead Enough, was a finalist in the young adult category of The Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Contest! It’s a fancy way of saying I was a runner-up, but I’ll take it!

When Charlotte’s abusive boyfriend starts texting her from beyond the grave, she has to figure out if he’s haunting her, if she’s losing her mind, or if someone else wants her dead. He may be gone, but he’s NOT DEAD ENOUGH.

I got fantastic feedback on how to improve my book, and I’m eager to start working on it. Plus, I got a great compliment. The person who critiqued my manuscript said, “It is reminiscent of older horror books (like Christopher Pike) but the social media and modern voice stops it from feeling dated.”

For a while, I was getting frustrated by the fact that I keep getting close to winning contests and such, but don’t quite get there. I’ve put it in perspective now though, and I wasn’t even getting this kind of feedback before, which means I’ve improved. I only have a little more to go before I’m where I want to be.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that as long as I keep improving, I’m moving forward to reach my goal. Maybe it’s taking longer than I like, but that doesn’t matter, as long as I keep moving forward. And I’m learning so much writing and editing this book that the next one will be a little easier.

On a related topic, for the last two weeks, I blogged about writing groups, and I have proof that my writing group is awesome. My friend from my writer’s group, Mary Osteen, was a finalist in the same contest in the middle-grade category for her book, The Book With No Story.

Have you ever been frustrated by not making progress or reaching a goal as quickly as you wanted to?

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