Book Challenges- August 2018

Popsugar Challenge

A book from a celebrity book club: An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones (Oprah book club) (contemporary): This was a fantastic book! I enjoyed the exploration of marriage, fidelity, and how love can change over time. There are so many moral shades of gray in this book that I wasn’t sure who or what to root for. As with life, there were no right answers.

(23/50)

While I Was Reading Challenge

Unknown-1

A self-published book: All The Little Lights, by Jamie McGuire (YA romance): If I need a romance with characters who speak to me, I know that I should pick up a Jamie McGuire book. I loved all the little moments in this book and the “big secret” the main character was hiding made it even better.

(6/12)

The Unread Shelf

Unknown

Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell (romance): Like Jamie McGuire, Rainbow Rowell is on my list of authors who I know won’t let me down. Attachments is a sweet (but improbable) love story about a guy who falls in love with a girl while monitoring her work email. (It’s his job, though he takes it too far.) Honestly, I love improbable romances. If I wanted real life, I’d do… reality things. Instead, I read books and watch movies. Don’t judge me!

Unknown-1

Hush, Hush; Cresendo; Silence; Finale, by Becca Fitzpatrick (YA paranormal romance): I’m not entirely sure what to say about this series. I had the first one, Hush, Hush, on my shelf forever. Then a friend told me I had to read it, especially with Becca Fitzpatrick announcing that they’re making a movie based on the book! And then my friend said she only made it partway through the second book.

I read all of them and I don’t regret it, but the others, while being rated increasingly higher on Goodreads, were not as good as the first. I’m not entirely sure why, and I don’t think it had anything to do with the writing. I think I just got the ride I wanted to out of the first book and that I should have stopped there. Just to be clear, the others weren’t bad, but it’s the difference between like and love.

Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler (contemporary): I bought this for the pretty cover and the cool illustrations. This book was okay. It’s a YA book about a breakup, and I suspect I would have liked it more if I were still a teenager. Some YA books are wonderful for all ages, and some aren’t. This one, with it’s teen angst over a first love, just didn’t speak to me.

The Dinner List, by Rebecca Serle (magical realism): This was a fun book from the Book of the Month Club. I was intrigued by the premise, because we probably all have made a list of the 5 people (living or dead) we’d like to have dinner with. For my list and a full review, you can go to the blog I wrote about this one.

Running Total: 28

5 Classic Books

Unknown

(2/5) The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald- Maybe I’m just not a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I liked this one better than better than Tender is the Night, but I still didn’t think there was anything great about it. It’s a somewhat typical love story told from an unusual perspective. And then everyone lives sadly ever after.

I guess I’m glad I read it from a cultural reference standpoint, but I don’t understand how it became this ensconced in culture to begin with. It’s got some good lines, but other than that, I’m glad I borrowed it from the library.

Miscellaneous Reading

Unknown

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke (science fiction/ romance): A friend just got married, and I was making conversation with her sister (who was visiting). We got to talking about books (I know you’re shocked) and she mentioned that this book is her favorite. Of course I had to run right out and get it from the library.

It’s set in a future where we have the technology to make androids, but we don’t treat them as sentient beings or recognize they have rights. The mad scientist’s daughter grows up with one such android and falls in love with him. There’s lots of interesting exploration of the morality of the situation, both what it means to consider a sentient being human, and what it means not to.

Unknown

Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, by Laura Vanderkam (non-fiction/ self-help): I’m looking for a magical solution to make me more organized and efficient. I haven’t found it yet, but this is a good book. It gave me some new perspectives on how to consider time and to use it better. So much so that I borrowed it from the library, then went ahead and bought it.

Unknown

Not if I Save You First, by Ally Carter (YA romance): I picked this book up at the library based on the back cover copy.

Seriously, how can you not be hooked by murderers and a bejeweled hatchet?

I loved that the main character is a girly girl who saves the day using mostly her brains. I love a girl who kicks some ass too, but it seems like the ones who paint their nails aren’t supposed to be heroes. This was fun and delivered on all the promises it made.

Unknown-1

The Summer of Broken Things, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (YA contemporary): This is a sweet and sad coming of age novel about two girls with nothing in common but the secret their parents share.

Unknown

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, by Jason Fung, MD: I’ve watched Dr. Fung’s videos online, so when I saw he had a book, I had to get it. It’s interesting stuff backed by science. Dr. Fung makes the science (mostly) accessible and explains things in a way that makes them seem like common sense. He also talks about the studies he cites, along with their limitations.

Unknown

Lie, Lay, Lain, by Bryn Greenwood (contemporary): First off, there may never be another book I love as much as All The Ugly and Wonderful Things. So when I say this one wasn’t as good, that’s to be expected. I did like this book though. It had an interesting premise and great characters. The dual point of views worked for me, and I looked forward to following both Jennifer and Olivia. Plus, this has what I think may be the most gorgeous cover I’ve ever seen!

Abandoned

None this month.

2018 Running Total: 101

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

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

Unknown-1

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?

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?

SaveSave

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.

The 15 Best Books I Read in 2017

I tried for a top 10 list, but couldn’t narrow it down that far.

I finished 132 books, abandoned 5, and am still working on 1. (I had to return it to the library midway through and haven’t gotten it back yet.

26 of them were re-reads, which means I read 106 new books, which is record number of new books for me. I read 43,326 pages last year, which is 5,134 pages more than the year before. 9 of the books I read at least partly as audiobooks.

I don’t have high-brow tastes, but I do like an entertaining tale with good writing. Of the 100+ books I read in 2017, I liked 15 of them enough to recommend to others. Honestly, that’s not bad odds.

  1. The Sun is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon (YA literary) At this point, I’m convinced anything Nicola Yoon writes will be amazing. This is a book about a young lady who’s family is from Jamaica. They’re about to be deported, and she’s trying to figure out a way for them to stay in the country. She meets a young Korean man, and they end up spending the day together. The book is from the point of view of the two main characters, but also from other characters, whose lives these two touch for a moment here and there. This is a book about love and culture and identity, but also about how sometimes we don’t realize how much of an impact we can have on a person by just a momentary encounter.
  2. The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stievfater (YA fantasy light) This is a series of 4 books. I’ll be totally honest; the first one took me awhile to warm up to it. I was listening to it on audiobook, and I thought the language was odd. I was actually going to stop listening to it, but I was driving through the middle of nowhere, still had miles to go, and couldn’t get reception to download a different book. I figured it was better than nothing and kept going. I’m so glad I did! It merges myth and legend against a modern day setting. I fell in love with the characters, their romances, and their adventures. I will warn you that I did not love the ending. A bad ending can ruin a book for me, and this one wasn’t bad… it was just somewhat disappointing. It’s still worth reading, but be careful if endings are a thing for you too.
  3. Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell (YA real world) Rowell is another YA author who, in my mind, writes consistently good books. Bonus recommendation: Carry On. This book is about a nerdy girl who writes fan fiction and struggles with anxiety. When she gets to college, she has to stop using her safety nets (getting lost in fan fiction, her sister) and start participating in real life.
  4. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, Edited by April Genevieve Tucholke (YA horror) This is a book of short YA horror stories. I have my favorites, like In The Forest, Dark and Deep, Sleepless, and The Dark Scary Parts and All, but every single story in the collection was good. They mixed big names, like Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake with less famous authors.
  5. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi (memoir) Not going to lie, I cried, even though I knew full well that the author died before I even picked up the book. It was a beautiful meditation on an interesting man, and what it means to be human.
  6. A Piece of Cake, by Cupcake Brown (memoir) This is a difficult read. Not because of the language, which was simple and direct, but because the subject matter is so tough. Cupcake (her real name) ends up in foster care after her mom dies, which is where she’s raped by the foster mom’s son. No one seems to care, and she spirals into self-loathing and drugs. Only because of an inner core of steel does she manage to get herself clean and become a successful lady. I already knew that everyone’s got a story, but this just reinforced the idea that you can never know what someone’s gone through unless you’ve lived it or they tell you.
  7. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (literary) I couldn’t put this book down. It was sad and funny, about a group of people who are trapped together when terrorists take them hostage. But after awhile, the line between captor and captured blurs, and they all start to find out that they’re just a group of people trying to figure things out in the world. I can’t really describe it, but if you like literary fiction, you should read it.
  8. The Female of the Species, by Mindy McGinnis (YA horror) Alex’s sister was killed by a predator. When the police don’t charge him, Alex kills him. Three years later, she’s used to being an outcast and keeping her secrets. But when she develops a friendship, and then starts dating a popular boy, she realizes that she can’t keep her secrets (or her rage) to herself anymore.
  9. The Emperor of Anyplace, by Tim Wynne-Jones (YA literary with fantastical elements) This book was chosen by YA book club, and it’s so many different things. I didn’t expect to like it, but loved it. It’s part family drama in modern day, part mystery set during World War II. Two men from opposite sides get trapped together on a small island during the war and must deal with being trapped with the “enemy.” When Evan finds the book detailing what happened after his father dies, he tries to solve the mystery of who his grandfather really is.
  10. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert (self-help) Are you a creative person who feels stuck, or feels like you need permission to create? Then read this book. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about why the world needs more people who are passionate about art, all kinds of art. (Notice I didn’t say, “who are good at art.”)
  11. When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon (YA romance) Dimple and Rishi’s parents have arranged for them to get married, when they’re older. But Dimple wants to be her own person, to learn more about web development, and not even think about romance. Their parents throw them together at a web development workshop and expect everything to work out. This is just a sweet but fresh romance. It’s light reading, but good light reading.
  12. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas (YA literary) This is what I’d call an “issue book.” That is, it’s meant to present an issue to the reader. Some of them get so heavy into their message that they forget to also provide an entertaining ride. This book, however, delivers. It’s clear what Angie Thomas wants to say, but she doesn’t overshadow the author’s protagonist, Starr, when she does it. Starr speaks for herself and tells us what it’s like to navigate between two different worlds, especially when someone you love was killed for reasons you don’t understand.
  13. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (historical fiction) The first 100 pages are sloooooow. They’re all set-up, but it’s important set-up. Once I got past those pages, the rest of the story flew by. I’ve read the first two so far and have loved them both. These books have a bit of everything: history, war, romance. It’s a non-stop thrill ride.
  14. A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, by Sue Klebold (memoir) I truly believe this is an important book. When tragedies happen by human hands, we all seem to point fingers and say, “Someone should have known.” The problem is that most of the time, people didn’t know. Sure, they might have known something was off, but let’s be honest, who ever thinks that someone they love is capable of brutal violence? Sue Klebold confronts those statements and more in her book about her son, Dylan, one of the shooters at Columbine High School. Sometimes it seems like she’s talking to herself, still trying to understand what could have happened. She blends her own recollections with information from experts. It’s haunting, but hopefully eye-opening as well.
  15. On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony (fantasy) When Zane shoots Death, he finds out that he has to take over the job. As he’s collecting souls, he finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy. A fun, fast-paced book.

There you have it. If you read something on my recommendation, stop back and let me know what you thought.

What was the best book/ books you read in 2017?

My Book Wishlist Solution

IMG_0181There are always books I want that I’m not going to buy or borrow right away. Sometimes (usually) it’s because I already have a million books stacked up, staring accusingly at me. Sometimes it’s because I’m trying to complete a goal, and the book I want doesn’t meet that goal. Sometimes it’s just because I’m out somewhere and someone whose opinion I value has recommended a book to me.

I tried keeping track of them in my head, but apparently there’s only so much room up there.

I used to just keep a list of books in the notes section of my phone. I listed title and maybe author (if I knew it).

The list quickly spiraled out of control. I ended up with a list I couldn’t keep track of, no rhyme or reason to it. If I went to a bookstore or the library, I didn’t have a good way of sorting the list.

I got a now defunct app for my phone. I never loved that app. It was cumbersome to use, having to do multiple button pushes to add a book. And I had to add a book in a different section from books that were already on my list. If there was a way to sort them, I never figured it out. They were just there in the order I added them. Then one day, I couldn’t use the app anymore, and my wishlist had disappeared.

I’ve tried using the library’s and Amazon’s wishlist functions, but I end up not liking them because I have to log into a website. I want something quick and at my fingertips.

I have a digital list of all the books I own. It’s lovely; I can just scan them in either via barcode or manually enter them. I just recently noticed that the Sort It! app has a wishlist function as well.

I tried it, and I think this is the solution for me. It shows pictures of the books and is easy to use. I can sort by author, title, or publication date. It’s easy to add or delete books from the list. If you’re looking for a way to keep track of books you own or want to own/ read, I highly recommend Sort It! (There’s also versions for DVDs, music, etc.)

How do you keep track of your reading wishlist?

5 Things Friday- November

One

What I’m Reading

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, by Sue Klebold. This book is written by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the shooters at Columbine. It’s not just a memoir; it also integrates information on mental health and the thought process of kids who commit this kind of violence. She tries to make sense of the tragedy and talks about the subtle signs of Dylan’s mental state that she missed.

One of the things that really struck me about this book is that while she never tries to minimize the tragedy other families experienced that day, she reframes Dylan’s death as a suicide. Sue Klebold is an advocate for suicide awareness, treatment, and prevention. This is a fantastic book that anyone with children (or who knows people with children) should read. All proceeds from the book go to mental health research and charitable organizations.

Two

What I’m Writing

I’m starting work on my next book, a YA horror about a world where Death has been kidnapped.

Three

What I Read This Week

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North. It took me a long time to get through it because it wasn’t what I thought it would be. Honestly, it was a decent book, but not great. There were parts of it I really liked, but overall, it sounded better than it was.

I also read Almost Interesting, by David Spade, on audiobook. That was a fast read and a lot of fun.

Four

When I Wasn’t Reading

I binge watched Stranger Things at night (so good!). During the day, I know I was busy, but I honestly don’t remember what I was doing. Writing? Cleaning? I know I mowed the lawn, but that’s about all.

Five

Favorite Picture of the Week

Did you read or watch anything particularly good this week?

Have a great weekend, everyone!