Book Challenges- Week 9

I had a slow reading week. I was traveling and doing more writing than reading, which isn’t a bad thing, of course. It’s just always weird for me to look back at the week and realize I only barely finished two books.

Popsugar Challenge

(7/50) No reading progress this week. BUT, I was on an airplane and saw two strangers reading! It was a little disconcerting to look around the airport and see everyone staring at their phones. The way they were interacting with them, I could tell they weren’t reading. But in first class, a guy was reading Dan Brown’s Origin. The woman beside me on the airplane read Holes, by Louis Sachar (for about 5 minutes… but it counts!). Honestly, they both look good, so I’m excited that I now have choices.

To be honest, I felt a little bad. I was reading on my Kindle (because it’s obviously easier to travel with than paper books) and I thought, “If someone else is trying to spot a stranger reading in public, I’m being completely unhelpful.” Sorry everyone.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(3/12) 25% done, but no progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 3

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading


YOU Are a Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero: I used to be all elitist about self-help books, figuring they were all garbage saying some variation of “be positive!” Of course, that was when I was much younger, and before I’d ever read any. It’s easy to be critical of something you’ve never interacted with.

Then, when I was working on my Master’s Degree, one of my first assignments was to compile a list of ten self-help books that I’d recommend to clients, and what I’d recommend them for. So, off I went to the bookstore to take a closer look at these books.

What I found surprised me (and probably no one else). Some did appear to be garbage, of course. But far more appeared to be well-written by legitimate sources. The messages they delivered were far more complex than I’d think.

That set me on an actual exploration of self-help books. I’ve read more and more as time has gone on because I actually enjoy them. I enjoy the messages and recommendations to improve my already pretty wonderful life. If my life was less than wonderful, I think they’d be even more helpful.

This book was a lot of fun to read. I liked Ms. Sincero’s down to earth language and practical tips to reach goals and build confidence. A friend said this was great on audiobook, and though I didn’t read that version, my guess is that the enthusiasm of the author would bleed through even more than it did. (And even on paper, I could feel her enthusiasm.) I really enjoyed this, and if you’re looking for a fun and interesting book encourage you to reach any goal you’ve been putting off or “failing” at, this is a great place to start.


The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman: So, I wanted an audiobook to read on a long car ride. When I asked for recommendations, this one popped up. However, it’s narrated by Neil Gaiman, and I can’t follow his voice. But it looked intriguing, so I had to read it anyway.

Nobody “Bod” Owens grew up in a graveyard after a man failed to murder him. The ghosts who live there vow to protect him and teach him everything they know. This book has lovely illustrations along with a captivating story. Another reason I’m glad I skipped the audiobook and went for the print version.

2018 Running Total: 23

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


Saving the End Until Later

Recently, when I was re-watching Battlestar Galactica, a main character talked about his favorite book, and how he doesn’t know how it ends because he never finished it. His argument is that he loves the book so much that he never wanted it to end.

Um… say what?

There are a lot of bookish habits I find odd, but this one is almost incomprehensible. I can honestly say it never occurred to me to not finish a book I love. When I don’t finish a book, it’s because it’s so awful that I just can’t.

When I love a book, it’s hard for me to put it down. I race to finish it. I don’t want to do anything but read that book. For me, it’s like being in love. Sometimes I read so quickly that when I get to the end, I start over again so I can enjoy it at a more leisurely pace.

I’m not sure that I could stop reading an excellent book (especially a favorite) if I tried. I’d be thinking about it, dreaming about it, creating my own endings. And anything I could come up with probably wouldn’t be as good as what the author could come up with.

I wonder if this was just a weird character trait that someone picked because it seemed interesting, or if people actually do this.

Have you ever done this or heard of this? Are you a savor-er or a gulper?

Character Deaths Should Mean Something

In real life, death often feels meaningless. People we love die, and we know that the world would have been a better place if they were still with us. The death of a loved one is painful and life-changing for those left behind.

In fiction (books, movies, or TV), death should serve a purpose. We get close to those characters, in some cases understanding them better than we do people in real life. We see them when they brush their teeth, eavesdrop on their phone conversations. We see the face they project to the world and the things they try to hide.

In good fiction, we become connected to characters. Their deaths can be heart wrenching.

I think it’s important that writers are never arbitrary in their choices, just killing off a character because they couldn’t figure out how to move the plot forward or for ratings.

From this point forward, I’m going to talk about the Harry Potter books and The Walking Dead Season 8, Episodes 8 & 9. There will be spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Especially in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling kills off some important characters, but I would argue that they’re almost all necessary.

I cried when Hedwig and Dobby died. But after I got over my denial and anger, when I looked at those deaths as a writer, I realized they were necessary. Harry needed to understand that there was always going to be a price. It’s not like in the movies, where the heroes don’t take a single bullet, but the bad guys all get wiped out (I do love those movies though, BTW). Bad things happen to good people (and owls and house elves), and the survivors are left with a giant hole where their loved ones were.

When Dumbledore died in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, it had to happen. It was inevitable. The mentor in a hero story always has to die in order for the hero to be truly heroic. Did I love it? No. But did it serve an important purpose? Yes.

JK Rowling understands when it’s important to kill characters, and when it’s not. Case in point, she was going to kill Arthur Weasley, but realized it didn’t serve the story, so she backed off.

In episode 8.8 of The Walking Dead, they made it clear that Carl was going to die. While I wasn’t happy about it, it wasn’t Daryl, Michonne, or Rick, so I thought it would be okay. I thought I was ready for it.

But as I watched episode 8.9, with Carl dying, I realized that it wasn’t okay. There was no good reason for him to die. We first met him 8 years ago as a little kid who got himself into bad situations and needed to be rescued/ protected from zombies… excuse me… walkers. Then he started shaping up into a little sociopath, and that was interesting to watch. But when he grew up and emerged from those two identities, he became a badass. He was this thoughtful 18 year old who could stare down death, shoot a bad guy without blinking, and still want to save a guy who was living alone.

Carl survived two gunshot wounds, countless fights with walkers, and almost being killed by Negan twice.

And yet he died because he was bitten by a walker during an ordinary killing of just a few of them.

That’s not okay.

Carl symbolized hope in the group. He survived so much, and was the obvious leader of the group after Rick and Michonne. And then the writers killed him. Probably for ratings.

This fan art, I think embodies everything all of us feel about Carl. It’s how it was supposed to be.

The actor playing Carl, Chandler Riggs, didn’t want to leave the series. Carl’s death serves no greater purpose in the story. Sure, his dying wish was for Rick to be a leader who could accept Negan’s people instead of killing them all. But there are so many other ways to accomplish this! Carl could have had a talk with Rick and reminded him that they integrated Woodbury’s people after the attack. Rick could have listened to Morgan or Jesus or Maggie. But no, they killed Carl.

One could argue that Judith or Maggie’s child is the hope for the future, but while cute, I’m not invested in Judith. It will be years before either of them could be a viable leader. So… no.

Honestly, it was a good episode. Maybe even one of the best recent episodes. But I think they killed the series.

I’ve stuck with The Walking Dead and loved it despite its flaws, even when everyone else said it was going downhill. Despite the fact that the writers can’t seem to come up with anything but this dragged out conflict with Neegan, I was still all in. But now? It’s not that I’m going to stop watching on purpose. But I fully expect that one day, I’m just going to forget that there’s a new episode. Or, instead of waiting for it breathlessly, I might find other things to do.

And that will be that.

Book Challenges- Week 8

Popsugar Challenge

(7/50) No progress this week.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(3/12) 25% done, but no progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 3


Committed: A Love Story, by Elizabeth Gilbert (memoir): As you may know, Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of Eat, Pray, Love. At the end of that memoir, she met Felipe, and fell in love. They decided to stay together, but neither of them wanted to get married. But Felipe was not a US citizen, and at one point, was no longer allowed to enter the US. They were forced to get married if he wanted to continue to stay. They agreed, but were stuck outside the US for almost a year while their paperwork was processed. This book was Ms. Gilbert’s attempt to come to terms with the marriage.

It was an interesting book, part memoir and part exploration of the history and culture of marriage. I found the different sections interesting and informative. There was a lot of information that made me think or say “huh.” I’m always interested in books that explore relationships, and this one was good.


I Remember You, by Cathleen Davitt Bell (YA speculative romance): I’m delighted to announce that I’ve found my first favorite book of 2018! It was a wonderful experience and I’m already looking forward to reading it again. Lucas and Juliet are different people, but when they begin to fall in love, it feels familiar to both of them. But then Lucas starts telling Juliet that he “remembers” their relationship, that it’s happened before. Juliet doesn’t believe him at first, but as time goes on, and he’s right about things that have happened, she’s not sure what to believe. His memories become more and more disturbing, testing their relationship and making them both wonder if he’s crazy. This is a lovely book about first love, relationships, and family.

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading


Uncanny, by Sarah Fine (YA Thriller): I had a good reading week. This is the second five star book I’ve read this year. Uncanny is an example of how to write a thriller. Cora and Hannah are stepsisters. After Hannah dies, we’re given just enough information about what happened to keep the tension high. This book explores the complex relationships between families and also has some interesting things to say about technology and how it changes the way we look at the world. The whole book is fantastic, but the ending was amazing.

2018 Running Total: 21

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

Five Things Friday- February 2018

One- What I’m Writing

I’m still working on my YA horror novel, but I recently finished a few short stories and submitted them for anthologies. I also recently had a short story accepted into an anthology, so hopefully the publication date on that will be announced soon.

Two- Random Fact About Me

I talk to myself. Out loud sometimes. My dogs are fine with it.

Three- What I’m Grateful For This Month

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to settle back into routine. I love the holidays and all, but at the end of the day, I like it when my days are all pretty much the same. I’m grateful for my writing groups and their amazing feedback.

Four- When I Wasn’t Reading

I started skating again, which is wonderful! I’ve done a lot of work on my novel and editing short stories. I’ve been querying agents. And of course, I’ve been walking my crazy dog.

Five- Favorite Picture This Month

The Forces of Darkness really think the computer is for their benefit.

How To Catch People Reading In Public


For my PopSugar challenge, I’m getting a little panicky. Ever since it was announced, I’ve been worried about how to fulfill it, and I have not yet had a sighting. The category is: a book that you’ve seen a stranger reading in public. But I don’t see people reading in public.

I don’t go out much. I was an early adopter of eBay and Amazon. When I realized I could get pretty much anything delivered to me, I was all in. There was even a time when I had my groceries delivered. (I stopped that after I asked for celery and got 1 piece of celery. Literally 1 piece.)

So, I go to Costco and the grocery store every week. I might pop into Target or Walmart monthly for paper goods or shampoo. Sometimes I drop something off at the post office, or go to the doctor/dentist/eye doctor. I ALWAYS have a book with me. (Honestly, I feel more naked without a book than without my phone.) If I have to stand in line for more than 30 seconds, I whip my book out and read.

But I don’t see anyone else reading at any of the places I go. Or at least, not books. Most people I see are staring off into space, or more often, staring at their phones. It could be that they’re all reading amazing books on the Kindle app, but it’s more likely they’re checking their Facebook or Instagram. And even if they are reading an amazing book, it’s not like I’ll ever know about it.

Same if I see someone reading a Kindle. I can’t see the title. Reader rule #1: Never interrupt someone reading. Never ever ever. The book gods will chew you up and use you as paper for the book you hate the most.

So, where do people read books? Does anyone have an answer for that? The library? A local coffee shop? I do go to the library, but primarily to pick up or drop off books. I don’t linger and stalk people. I do believe that most people at the library read their books flat (because hard backs can be hard to hold).

Then what happens if I finally do have an elusive sighting of another reader (a stranger, it specifically says) and their taste in books seems awful (Or, at least not appealing to me)?

What if I counted a book shown on Instagram? Those people are mostly strangers, and it’s obvious some of them are reading in a public place… does that count?

Help me! Tell me where you see strangers reading in public!

Book Challenges- Week 7

Popsugar Challenge

(7/50) No progress this week.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(3/12) 25%!


I don’t normally like movie covers on books, but this one really appealed to me.

A book with a child narrator: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer: I really wanted to like this book, but I didn’t. I wasn’t into it the whole time I was reading it, but sometimes literary fiction has a good payoff, and this one promised an interesting mystery about a found key. I was hoping the mystery of the key would make this one worth my time, but it didn’t. The ending was so disappointing that I almost threw the book across the room. I didn’t hate it (there’s only one book I ever wanted to burn after reading it, and it wasn’t this one) but I didn’t like it either.

This book has three narrators: 9 year old Oskar (who doesn’t sound 9 by any stretch of the imagination), a man who doesn’t speak, and a woman who’s writing Oskar letters. The identity of the two other narrators are gradually revealed, but it felt unnecessary to hide them in the first place. Not to mention that they’re supposedly writing to Oskar, revealing things that are inappropriate for a child.

Lots of people loved it, including some reader friends of mine who often recommend and exchange books with me, but it just wasn’t my thing. At least it’s one less book on my shelf.


It seemed appropriate…

A book with your favorite food in the title: Love and Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch:  This book is as sweet as the title suggests. It’s a YA romance about a teenage girl who just lost her mom. She’s sent to Italy to live with a “friend” of her mother’s, who may or may not be her father. As she reads her mother’s journal and starts to piece together who her father is, and why he hasn’t been in her life, she’s also falling in love with Italy and a friend who’s helping her get answers. This story was the perfect antidote to the aggravation that was EL&IC.

The Unread Shelf

Total: 1

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading

Asylum, Sanctum, and Catacomb, by Madeleine Roux: I’m burned out on reading literary fiction, especially since I haven’t really been enjoying it. Sometimes it just happens that way. Since I write Young Adult horror, I thought it was time to catch up on some of the fiction I’ve missed.

I love creepy old mental hospitals as a setting, so Asylum seemed like the perfect read. And no, I didn’t know it was a series when I started it. These types of books read fast for me though, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

The first one was pretty good. Three kids go for this summer program at a small college. But because the dorm is being renovated, they have to stay in an old building on the grounds. It used to be a mental hospital, and part of it is locked up so no one can get in. Of course the kids are curious and go exploring. There’s a murder, the kids have nightmares, and they find out more about the history of the hospital. (Spoiler alert: it’s bad news.) This isn’t the best YA horror I’ve ever read, but it was fast and entertaining.

Sanctum continued the story when the kids come back to find out more about what happened over the summer, and they discover a secret cult meant to keep the secrets of the mental hospital. It stretched my belief at times, but I went with it, and it worked for me.

Catacomb… did not work for me. It felt very deus ex machina because it’s a completely different setting, yet once again, the kids stumble across a cult that wants to kill them. It had some cool concepts in it, and if it had been a completely different book with different characters outside this series, I would have liked it much more.

2018 Running Total: 18

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