Book Challenges- Week 15-17

As you can probably imagine, I burned out on blog posts during the A to Z Challenge. I love it, and I’ll talk more about it in my reflection post, but I decided to take a break from reporting in on my book challenges.

Popsugar Challenge


A book with a weather element in the title: Black Lightning, by John Saul (horror): When I was a teenager, I read a ton of John Saul books. Full disclosure: I have no idea if I read this one before or not. It’s a good, straightforward book about a serial killer and some weird paranormal stuff that happens. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it.

A book that was published in 2018: The Woman In The Window, by AJ Finn (thriller/ mystery): I generally hate the trope of “unreliable narrator who drinks too much and basically causes all their own problems.” This book started off that way, but I stuck with it because a trusted friend recommended it. When it hit 50% or so, there was a twist I loved so much that I was all in, and I couldn’t put it down until the conclusion.

A book about twins: Blood & Salt, by Kim Liggett (YA horror/ paranormal): I decided that I needed to start reading more YA horror, because that’s what I write and enjoy. So that may be why I’ve had a run of particularly enjoyable books, and this is one of them. Ash and her twin know their mother used to belong to a cult, but she got out… or so they thought. When their mom disappears, they find and infiltrate the cult in order to help her, but there’s so much more going on than they bargained for. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, and kept me guessing as to who were the good guys and who were the bad guys up until the end. They wrapped it up enough to satisfy me, but be warned… there is a sequel…

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)- No progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 3 Um… is that really all? I’m not doing so well on this one.

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress… I think I’d better get started.

Miscellaneous Reading

Fire Up Your Writing Brain: How to Use Proven Neuroscience to Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Writer, by Susan Reynolds (non-fiction): This book has a lot of interesting information about the brain and different techniques to work with how the brain likes to do things.

The Girl From the Well, by Rin Chupeco (YA horror): This book is on my favorite books of 2018 list. It’s a fantastic story that draws from Japanese legends. The narrator is a vengeful ghost who kills people who murder children. But when she meets a teenage boy who’s got a demon inside, she starts to think about things other than vengence. It’s a good standalone book but does have a sequel.

Famous Last Words, by Katie Alender (YA mystery/ horror): From the cover (and the description), this one looks like fluff. It’s not. There’s a serial killer and a ghost, and how those two things intersect is a lot of fun.

The Forgotten Book, by Mechthild Glaser (YA fantasy): I was attracted to this one by the gorgeous cover. The book wasn’t what I expected, but I still enjoyed it. I knew that it was a reinterpretation of Pride and Predjudice, and I love all things P&P. That being said, it made the story somewhat predictible. There’s a definite fantasy element that wassn’t in the original book, so it’s a unique angle in that sense. If you’re a P&P fan, it’s worth reading once.

The Dark Side of Nowhere, by Neal Shusterman (YA science fiction): This was a fast read with an interesting premise. It sets up the weird very well and keeps it going throughout the book. The conclusion is satisfuying. I won’t say this was my favorite book this year, but I definitely wanted to see what happened.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart (YA mystery): This book. I don’t even know what to say. It’s nearly impossible to discuss with anyone who hasn’t read it. I’ll just say that it was a roller coaster ride from beginning to end, and that if you love mysteries, you should read this.

Dark In Death, by JD Robb (#46) (Mystery/ romance): I am in awe of Nora Roberts (aka JD Robb) for keeping this series going strong for almost 50 books now. I love the characters in these stories, and love how they interact with one another. Having followed this series from the beginning, it’s lovely to see how they’ve all grown and changed over time. I love cop procedurals, but these books are so much more than just that. Some of them I like better than others, and this is one of my favorites. The premise of the murder was creative and a lot of fun.


None this week.

2018 Running Total: 47

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

G is for (Books About) Growing Up #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

With the frequency that young adult fiction shows up on this blog, it may come as no surprise that a lot of them have themes about growing up. We all get older, but we don’t all get wiser… at least not at the same rate. I could have done all YA books, but I decided to mix it up a bit. It’s more fun that way.

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon (YA contemporary): Maddy is literally allergic to everything, so she’s not allowed to go outside or interact with other people. She’s lonely but has figured out how to build a life for herself. Growing up often means questioning what people have told us and learning about the world for ourselves, and that’s what Maddy ultimately has to do when she starts developing a friendship with Olly, the boy who moves in next door. I was in Las Vegas, hanging out with a friend I hadn’t seen in years, and I still couldn’t put this book down. I’m pretty sure she’s forgiven me.

Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen (literary classic): Elizabeth and Darcy both grow up throughout this book, learning that the assumptions they’ve made about others (but mostly each other) are not correct. I love this book for that reason (and many others). There are so many adults out there who would benefit from learning this lesson.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum (classic): First off, I have to say this… the book is VERY different from the movie. The same main characters are there, and the same basic thing happens, but the book has so much more. When the book starts, Dorothy gets swept away to the land of Oz, and all she wants is for someone to send her back home. She (and eventually the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion) go to seek out Oz to give them the things they want. Along the journey, they have to find their courage and will to fight through obstacles. In the process, Dorothy learns about herself and what’s really important.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith (bildungsroman): I read this last year for the Popsugar challenge, “a genre you’ve never heard of.” Bildungsroman is “a novel dealing with someone’s formative years or spiritual education.” It follows Francie from the time she’s about 11 up until about 16. She’s growing up in the slums with a mother who works too hard and a father who’s a drunk. But through it all, Francie finds ways to stay happy and survive. It’s a quiet novel with little action, but Francie is so compelling that it kept me turning pages.

What books about growing up do you love?

What I’m Reading

IMG_4271At the end of the year, I post a list of everything I read, but I think it would be far more fun (and potentially generate more dialog) to talk about what I’m reading a couple times a month.

So, here goes.  So far in January, I’ve read:

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill–  This is a ghost story, but a really, really cool ghost story.  It’s about a guy (Jude) who buys a ghost on an auction website.  It’s a horror story, of course, but what makes the story so interesting is that it’s about interesting people.   The author focuses on the characters’ reactions to what’s going on, and he does a great job of showing how relationships change under stress.  The ghost made it scary, but the ghost was integrated so seamlessly into the story, that I believed it could all happen.  This is one of the best (and most unique) ghost stories I’ve ever read.

In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume– I have fond memories of reading Judy Blume from my childhood.  Blubber and Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret were pretty much required reading for a girl growing up in the 80s.  I’ve read a few books as an adult, but they haven’t had the same magic.  In the Unlikely Event is based on something that happened in the author’s life, in which there were multiple plane crashes in her hometown in a two month period.  This book is about a group of characters and their lives.

My primary criticism of this book was that there were just far too many characters, and the book kept switching point of view.  I read it on my Kindle, and it was somewhat hard to keep track of everyone and how they were related.  I read it, I liked it, but I wouldn’t buy it.  If you like books about people and how they react to events, it’s a good book, but it’s definitely not at the top of my list.  I like books where I can connect with characters, and with this one, we went broad, but not deep.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen–  I’ve read this book 3,467 times before.  Okay, maybe not that many, but a lot.  It gets better every time.  Published in 1813 (200 years ago… yikes!), it’s about Elizabeth, a witty young woman, and Mr. Darcy, a proud and reserved man.  They have a series of run-ins and misunderstandings.  Throughout the book, they both mature and come to a better understanding about themselves and the price of making assumptions.

I read this one cover to cover about once a year, but I have paperback and Kindle copies of it, so sometimes, if I’m bored, I pick out my favorite passages and reread them.  I love the romance, the portrayal of the time period, and the language.  The language is beautiful without being overbearing.  Often, in literary fiction/ classics, the language becomes so “beautiful” that I have no idea what anyone’s saying.  Not so with this book.  If you’ve never read it, go out and buy it right now.

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Pride and Prejudice-A Review

On Throwback Thursdays, I review a book that’s been around for awhile, and that I think everyone should read.

th-3Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of those books I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to read in high school, but we didn’t.  In my high school, we skipped many classics to read things our teacher thought we would like better (we didn’t).

I read this sometime after high school, trying to give myself an education on some of the classics.  I never expected to like it.

I loved it.

It was a little hard to get into at first, with the language being different than modern day English, but it didn’t take me long to adjust to the rhythm and style.  The thing of this book is that the story is wonderful.  And while it’s set in the 1800’s in England, it’s a story that’s still relevant today.

Elizabeth Bennett is a spitfire with an embarrassing family.  Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy meet at a neighborhood ball, as Mr. Darcy is in town visiting a friend.   Mr. Darcy seems arrogant and aloof, as if he believes he’s too good to be there.  He insults Elizabeth, which in turn make her dislike him.

The book follows Elizabeth on her adventures as she travels and has to deal with her family.  She and Mr. Darcy meet again and again, and though she doesn’t like him, she’s not intimidated by him, and their verbal exchanges are always amusing.

If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, now’s the time to read it and be able to say you’ve read a classic.  It’s a pretty short book, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to read it again and again.

*If you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan already, and you like horror spoofs, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was pretty funny.  I’d rather read the original, but it was worth reading once.

Jane Austen

One of my all time favorite books is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  I’ve read that book in it’s entirety maybe a half dozen times, and I’ve read excerpts from the book probably two dozen times.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Honestly, I’m the last person who’d ever say you should read something that isn’t interesting.  Literary fiction has its place, but not in my library.  I want something that holds my interest, that grabs me from page 1, and Pride and Prejudice does that.  I’ve seen the movie (only one version- the Keira Knightly one… Matthew Macfadyen makes my heart go pitty pat as Mr. Darcy), but I love it and coudl watch it over and over.

Apparently, Jane Austen’s manuscripts are going to be published online in digital format.  It will be interesting to see her journey from an author from age 12 to until her death at age 41.  Critics have suggested that her manuscripts show that she was subject to heavy editing, in that her manuscript isn’t as clean or without errors as her original.  Apparently, her handwritten manuscript has (horror!) spelling errors and grammar errors.  The tone of the article I read made this sound like a scandal.  I of course, wonder what I would have done in the days before spell check?  When I’m writing something at full speed, I can’t be tied down by little things like spelling and grammar. Those come later.  Of course, no one will ever see my process because typing erases all the little errors.  If I had to handwrite things, I think that my manuscripts would be full of errors too.  Just sayin’.

In any case, if you want to check out the new Jane Austen website, here’s the link.  Happy reading!