2018 Book Challenges- Week 5

Popsugar Challenge

(6/50) over 10%!


A book with song lyrics in the title- She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb This was the first Wally Lamb book I’ve ever read, and it was pretty good. I did enjoy it, but the relentless awfulness of Delores’s life started to get to me after awhile. Luckily, it had a happy ending there, but for awhile, I was getting ready to swear off literary novels. This book is the one that ultimately inspired my post 10 Reasons I Love Happy Endings.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(0/12) No progress

The Unread Shelf

Total: 1

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading


Still Me, by Jojo Moyes This is the third book in the Me Before You series. I didn’t even know there would be/ should be/ could be a third book. I’m always leery of series, never sure if I should continue them or leave the world as is. I found out about it through Goodreads and lasted about 24 hours before I bought it on Kindle. I loved rejoining the adventures of Louisa. This was a perfect sequel, and hopefully the end of the series.

2018 Running Total: 11

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

I Am Not A Fan

I’m always amazed when people know minutiae about their favorite recording artists, actors, and writers. I love the Beatles, and I know Ringo wasn’t their first drummer, but that’s about it. I don’t feel that need some people have to find out everything, including what Paul McCartney had for dinner the night he met John Lennon. (I just made that up. I don’t know if that’s a thing.)


The Paul McCartney concert in 2005 was amazing.

I get the emails from Goodreads, alerting me to news about authors and books and such. Normally, I ignore it, as I do most of my emails. But two days ago, I saw something about JoJo Moyes and another sequel to Me Before You, so I clicked the link.

It turns out that a third book in the series, Still Me, was released yesterday. I held out for all of 24 hours before I bought it on Kindle.

I love everything I’ve read of Jojo Moyes, but I haven’t sought out all her books. I used to read everything Dean Koontz ever wrote, but now I’m behind by a few years. I’m only going to a Taylor Swift concert because a friend mentioned how excited she was to go.

Remember a few weeks ago, when I talked about the X-files expo? The only reason I went to that is because my boyfriend at the time found out about it and arranged the whole thing.

There’s something about fandom that I find fascinating, even while I don’t have the bug. I’m not sure if it’s because I have too many scattered interests, or if it’s because I spend too much time immersed in whatever book I’m reading. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

It’s like when I posted awhile back about how I don’t have favorites anymore. On a given day, I could be listening to Taylor Swift, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Eve 6, Barenaked Ladies, or Death Cab For Cutie. I might pick up a romance novel, followed by literary fiction, followed by science fiction, followed by self-help or psychology.

I guess it’s like that old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” I know a little bit about everything, but don’t know a lot about any one thing. Is that a bad thing or a good thing? Or is it just what it is?

I think it’s just that I’m interested in so many different things. It’s the same reason I love buffets; I want to try a little of everything. I just don’t have favorites. I like new and different. I like adventures, and I’m okay with hating something if that means that I tried it.

I’m glad I accidentally came across Still Me now instead of hearing about it six months (or a year) from now. While I’d love to catch up on my favorite authors, I have a towering TBR list that’s waiting for me. It might be nice to catch up on every Dean Koontz book I miss, or read everything that Bryn Greenwood has ever written, but reading widely has benefits too.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Are you a fan of anything?

What I Read Last Week

Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King- I loved Stephen King books as a kid, but I stopped reading them because they disturbed me too much.  While I love horror, it doesn’t usually scare me.  King seems to have a direct line to my nightmares.

Recently, I’ve been reading more horror because I’m back to my roots, integrating horror back into my writing.  So if I’m going to read it, I should read what scares me.

Bazaar of Bad Dreams is an anthology of short stories.  King introduces each of his stories with what gave him the idea or some other related tidbit.  The introductions were almost as interesting to me as the stories themselves.  Some of them were funny, some were disturbing, but they all had that special sauce a la King.

I enjoyed this book as both a reader and as a writer.  As a writer, I deconstructed the stories and gleefully declared, “Ohmygosh, he used that technique there!”  As a reader, the integration is seamless, and you wouldn’t know unless you were looking at it.  Stephen King really is a master at his craft.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes– I couldn’t put this book down while I was reading it.  As with all of her books that I’ve read so far, this one is strangely addictive.  I couldn’t tell you what I liked so much about it now that I’m reflecting on it.

I’ll probably read it again at some point to see if I can find the magic, but the thing about magic is that if you can see it, it disappears.  So I’ll just say this: if you’re looking for a fun romance novel to read on a snowy or rainy day, I’d highly recommend this one.  It just screams for you to curl up under some covers with coffee or tea (and a fireplace, if you have it), and read the day away.

So far this year, I’ve read all books I’ve liked.  It’s a nice way to start the year.  Let’s see if I can keep on like this!

Have you read either of these books?  What did you think?

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2015

These books are in the order I read them, not necessarily in the order of their wonderfulness or anything like that.  I liked them all for different reasons, and though I’d recommend all of them, not all of them will make it to my mental “all time favorites” list.

  1.  The Night Circus, by Erin Morganstern  My book club chose this one. I hadn’t heard of it before they picked it, but it sounded interesting.  I have to say that the book jacket description didn’t do it justice, because it’s so many different things.  It’s a fantasy novel, an adventure novel, and a romance.  It’s about relationships and the real meaning of family.  It’s about the power of love.  I do love books set against interesting backgrounds, and this one, with its circus setting, is described so vividly that I had no trouble picturing it, even though I’m not really a visual thinker.  The book is not told sequentially, however, and I read it on my Kindle, which actually did take away from the book somewhat.  I’d recommend reading a paper book to better keep track of the timeline.  It always helps me to be able to flip backward and forward.  I bought the paper novel, and it’s on my re-read list.  I look forward to getting out my highlighter.
  2. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes (also the sequel, After You)  This was another book chosen by my book club and I loved it so much that I read it twice back to back.  I seriously thought about reading it a third time.  It’s hard to explain why I liked this book without giving away spoilers, so forgive me if I’m vague.  I found this book thought provoking, entertaining, sad, and beautiful.  The main character, Louisa, is who she is.  She doesn’t give much thought to her life.  She’s vibrant and likes to dress in weird clothing.  She doesn’t really fit into her small town, but never gives it much thought.  It’s just how life is for her.  When she’s hired to help care for Will, a man who became quadriplegic in an accident, she starts to think more critically about her life and ask questions about what she really wants.  It deals with an issue I’m very interested in philosophically, and I believe deals with all sides of the issue, and does so sensitively.
  3. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving  A friend of mine recommended this novel, saying that John Irving is one of her favorite authors.  I was intrigued by the premise of the novel, and the way it started off drew me right in.  The book follows the narrator and Owen Meany.  It meanders, feeling like a path through the woods.  Sometimes I could almost glimpse my destination, and other times, I had no idea where I was going.  The book didn’t exactly get boring, but there were times where I wanted to ask “are we there yet?”  I read a little, put it down, read a little more, put it back down.  Once I got to the last 100 pages though, I threatened to murder my husband if he talked to me.  The meandering journey became a frenetic race through those proverbial woods, crashing into branches and getting scratched by thorns.  It was well-worth the trip.  I will probably re-read this one at some point, but I’m not sure when.  It’s a very long book (over 600 pages), but worth it.
  4. There Will Be Lies, Nick Lake  I found this book on the rack at the library, and picked it up based on the title.  When I read the back, I was intrigued enough to give it a try.  This is one of those books that I’m jealous that I didn’t think of first (I don’t aspire to write something like Owen Meany).  This book is like a modern fairy tale.  Shelby is hit by a car, and after that, goes on a journey with her mother, fleeing things that Shelby doesn’t understand.  She goes back and forth between the real world and a dream world, where Coyote tells her that she must complete tasks to prevent the world from ending.  It’s a book full of surprises and twists, but they felt natural, not like the author was saying, “Haha, fooled you!”  It was easy to read, perfect for a weekend or vacation.
  5. Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen, Jane Hawking  I’m not usually one for memoirs, but Stephen Hawking is a genuinely interesting guy.  I like smart people with a sense of humor, and he’s always seemed like someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously. When I heard about this book, I realized that I’d never given much thought to his wife, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.  Jane Hawking tells her story, and it’s done with humor and love, but doesn’t pull any punches on how difficult things were for her, living with someone both brilliant and disabled.  It was a wonderful memoir, and made me want to read more about both of them, and their lives together and separate.  It also reaffirmed my belief that anything is possible, as he’s 73, and doctors predicted that he wouldn’t live past 30.  He communicates by way of a device controlled by a cheek muscle, and has made huge contributions to science.  What excuses can I possibly make for anything?
  6. The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick  I saw the movie first, and I don’t remember what drew me to the movie, but I really enjoyed it.  I love stories with flawed main characters, and Tiffany and Pat, with their mental health issues, were flawed and brave.  The book is significantly different than the movie.  The characters are the same, but some of the events have been changed, and the supporting characters are different.  I liked both and recommend both.
  7. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel  This was another book club choice.  It started off right before a flu wiped out most of the world’s population, with unconnected people who made a brief connection before the end of the world.  The book follows Kirsten and the group of entertainers she travels with.  There’s also a comic book Kirsten considers her most prized possession that has a bigger meaning in the context of the story.  Very interesting and original, a different perspective on post-apocalyptic stories.
  8. Americanah, Chimamanda Negozi Adichie  This is the fourth book club pick on the list.  Considering that I only read seven books recommended by my club, I’d say they do a pretty good job with the books they pick.  This is why I just go with the flow.  In any case, I got completely sucked into this book from the start.  It’s about Ifemelu, a young African woman who moves to the US and becomes a blogger about race.  The book talks about racism without being about race.  It’s about people, and how those people fit in to the world around them.  I liked Ifemelu, and enjoyed walking with her for a little while, through the pages of this book.  She’d be the type of friend who would help me grow: honest, blunt, uncompromising.  She’d make me uncomfortable, but I’d never be bored.
  9. Ready, Player One, Ernest Cline  On the surface, this book is a fantasy novel about a competition to find Easter Eggs in a huge online video game world.  It can be read that way, and it would probably still be a pretty good book if you did.  Under the surface though, it’s about friendship, growth, and figuring out what’s really important.  Wade is a young man who doesn’t fit in anywhere, not in real life, or in the virtual one.  He ends up taking on a major corporation that’s part of the race to find the Easter Eggs, and learns how strong he can be, and how much he’s willing to risk for what’s really important to him.
  10. Same Kind of Different as Me, Ron Hall & Denver Moore  I found this on the discount rack at Half Price Books.  It was sitting there, marked $2, and the title was interesting enough to catch my eye.  I’ve found that books on that rack aren’t always the bad ones.  Often times, someone just bought too many of them, and they need to get rid of some stock.  So I read the back, and it sounded interesting, and then I read the first page, and it sounded even more interesting.  Even then, it might have sat on my shelf for a long time, unread, except that some friends and I started a game.  We have to read a book we already own and pass it around, then talk about it.  It’s a different twist on a book club.  I didn’t realize this was a memoir until after I started reading it.  It’s about a poor black man from the South who ends up homeless, a rich white couple, and how their lives intersect and ultimately become intertwined.  It’s very much a story of faith and gratitude, though it avoids being preachy.  I felt uplifted and moved after reading this book.  Many books inspire emotional reactions, but this one made me feel connected with powers greater than myself.

So that’s it, the best books I read in 2015.  If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to know what you thought of them (even if you hated them).  I’m eager to find out what wonderful books I get to read in the coming year.