Books #16 – 21

This post is part of my ongoing battle project to tame my TBR pile. As usual, all descriptions are from Amazon.

I’m way behind on making these updates, so although I have actually read about 55 books so far this year, this list only goes through #21 :(. Maybe someday I will catch up. Maybe.

For the record, July was not a very good month for me in terms of keeping my numbers under control. I bought seven new books and only read two old ones. Also, in June I used Overdrive for the first time and while I think this is an awesome service…well, let’s just say I can see how it is likely to throw a wrench into my plans to read my own books! Unless I can stay away from it for a while. To that end, I’ve vowed to only read books from my own collection throughout the month of August. Preferably stuff I’ve had since before the beginning of the year. That should help make up for July. Sort of. Wish me luck :)!

Now, on with the updates…

#16: Sweet Valley High #18: Head Over Heels, by Kate William

Bruce Patman and Regina Morrow in love? No one at Sweet Valley High can believe it. Regina is beautiful and shy, one of the nicest girls at school. Bruce is a real snob, and the only person he’s ever cared about is himself.

Jessica Wakefield figures the romance can’t last. She knows Bruce too well. She’s even willing to bet Lila Fowler that Bruce and Regina break up within two weeks. The stakes are high, and Jessica can’t afford to lose. If she has her way, Regina and Bruce won’t be happy for long.


This one was pretty cute. I really like Bruce with Regina. There’s just something about a hardened guy softening for a sweet girl :). Jessica tries to cause trouble, as usual, and Elizabeth tries to help everyone out. There were some really sweet moments between Elizabeth and Bruce in this, actually, including one where Elizabeth is so impressed by the changes in his behavior and attitude that she impulsively gives him a kiss on the cheek. It was really cute!

#17: Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction, by Candace Cameron

Candace Cameron Bure has grown up before our eyes and we’ve watched as she’s balanced life in Hollywood with her faith for many years. But that all reached new heights when she was given the opportunity to join the cast of Dancing With the Stars. Being on the show was one of her dreams come true; and with that dream came the opportunity to display her Christian faith in front of millions of people, through an intense season of stretching beyond her limits, and to run the race God gave her with joy and perseverance.

Join Candace as she reflects on the self-discovery that came through leaping out of her comfort zone. Go behind the scenes and experience the highs and lows, the roadblocks, and the personal victories. Hear straight from her heart on tough lessons learned about grace, rejection, perfectionism, disappointment, accountability, dealing with criticism, and more. Through God’s strength, and with the help of endless support from her family and friends, see how Candace stayed true to herself and publicly lived out her faith in Christ all the way to the finale.

How do you stand with conviction in your world? Where does your courage come from when faced with challenges? How do you live out your faith on a daily basis despite opposition? Your stage probably isn’t in Hollywood and the challenges you are facing may not be on live television, but they are no less real. Come along with Candace as she shares how she found the courage to stand with conviction on one of the largest platforms of her life.


I downloaded this for 99 cents back in 2015. Actually, I’ve gotten all three of Candace Cameron Bure’s books for 99 cents each, at some time or another. Not a bad deal! I’d only read one other one before this: Balancing It All. I liked that one because it was more autobiographical, describing her experience growing up as a child actress. This one was good, too, but it is about Dancing with the Stars and I don’t watch that show, nor have I ever even seen an episode of it! I think if you’re a big fan of DWTS (and don’t mind reading a lot about God) you’d probably enjoy the book a lot, as she really gives a detailed look from behind the scenes at how the show is run. Sounds pretty brutal!

The bulk of the book is about Candace’s experiences on the program, and how she tried to reconcile her religious beliefs with being part of a mainstream show sometimes known for “sexy” dances and tiny, potentially immodest costumes. Unsurprisingly, she received a lot of flak for participating in a secular show. Some of it seemed to me as though it might be rationalization (with her telling herself certain things were okay because she really wanted to continue being part of the show) but I suppose only she knows for certain. Regardless, it was an interesting read and gave me some things to think about.

#18: No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, by Glenn Greenwald

In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the 29-year-old NSA contractor and whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency’s widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. As the arguments rage on and the government considers various proposals for reform, it is clear that we have yet to see the full impact of Snowden’s disclosures.

Now for the first time, Greenwald fits all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity ten-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power with never-before-seen documents entrusted to him by Snowden himself.

Going beyond NSA specifics, Greenwald also takes on the establishment media, excoriating their habitual avoidance of adversarial reporting on the government and their failure to serve the interests of the people. Finally, he asks what it means both for individuals and for a nation’s political health when a government pries so invasively into the private lives of its citizens—and considers what safeguards and forms of oversight are necessary to protect democracy in the digital age. Coming at a landmark moment in American history, No Place to Hide is a fearless, incisive, and essential contribution to our understanding of the U.S. surveillance state.


I really wanted to read this after watching Citizenfour and Snowden, and I was psyched when it went on sale for $2.99. Glad I got it; it was super interesting and I read it really fast. Although that may have had something to do with the fact that the day I started it, I got stuck at the dealership, having about twenty different things done to my car. I was there for hours and had plenty of time to read! Anyway, I liked it a lot. It will make you paranoid, though, if you aren’t already. Although is it really paranoia if we really are being watched-? :O 😉

#19: Amethyst, by Lauren Royal

London, 1666: Amethyst Goldsmith makes dazzling jewelry, but her future isn’t nearly as bright as the pieces she creates. Though custom dictates she wed her father’s apprentice, her heart rebels against the match. In mere days Amy will be condemned to a stifling, loveless marriage, and she sees no way out–until the devastating fire of 1666 sweeps through London, and tragedy lands her in the arms of a dashing nobleman who knows a diamond in the rough when he sees it…

Colin Chase, the Earl of Greystone, has his future all figured out. He’s restoring his crumbling castle and estate to its former glory, and the key to its completion is his rich bride-to-be. But the Great Fire lays waste to his plans, saddling him with trouble–in the form of a lowly shopkeeper’s daughter with whom he’s most inconveniently falling in love…


I’ve wanted to start this series for a while and I’m happy I finally did. This was quite cute. Felt a little too long toward the end, and the H had a strange personality quirk of liking to play odd pranks/practical jokes on people (they weren’t very funny) but aside from that I have no complaints!

Quote:

“…what he felt for her had nothing to do with wealth or position, and everything to do with the way just looking at her made the blood course through his veins. His need for her was illogical, emotional…Dangerous. It didn’t bear thinking about.”

#20: A Million Little Ways, by Emily P. Freeman

The majority of us would not necessarily define ourselves as artists. We’re parents, students, businesspeople, friends. We’re working hard, trying to make ends meet, and often longing for a little more–more time, more love, more security, more of a sense that there is more out there. The truth? We need not look around so much. God is within us and he wants to shine through us in a million little ways.

A Million Little Ways uncovers the creative, personal imprint of God on every individual. It invites the discouraged parent, the bored Christian, the exhausted executive to look at their lives differently by approaching their critics, their jobs, and the kids around their table the same way an artist approaches the canvas–with wonder, bravery, and hope. In her gentle, compelling style, Emily Freeman encourages readers to turn down the volume on their inner critic and move into the world with the courage to be who they most deeply are. She invites regular people to see the artistic potential in words, gestures, attitudes, and relationships. Readers will discover the art in a quiet word, a hot dinner, a made bed, a grace-filled glance, and a million other ways of showing God to the world through the simple human acts of listening, waiting, creating, and showing up.


Oh my gosh, this was so good! Freeman’s sort of flowery/poetic writing style took me a while to get into (and there were points where I didn’t really even know what she was saying, tbh) but overall, the message was great and I loved it.

It was hard to pick just one quote (I high-lighted SO much in this book) but here’s one:

“Instead of setting off on a journey to find your art, consider staying right where you are to uncover your art. Like the tree with roots crawling deep into the ground, God has already done the work of putting his art within you. I believe he’s asking us to do the work of uncovering what is already true and trusting him to release it for his glory and the benefit of others.”

#21: Once Upon A Bride, by various authors

Six captivating novellas from six New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors!

Fall in love with six grooms-to-be as you escape to medieval Scotland, 17th century England, 19th century America, Georgian London and the high seas. These steamy, seductive stories will warm your heart!

THE HANDFASTING by Glynnis Campbell
The Highlands, Scotland, 1199: When Sir Noel de Ware claims his betrothed—the most beautiful heiress in the Highlands—he’s sure he’s getting the best gift ever…until he discovers he’s wedded and bedded the wrong sister. Spirited Ysenda of Rivenloch never intended to be a counterfeit bride, and when she falls in love with her handsome husband, she becomes trapped in her own deception.

FOREVERMORE by Lauren Royal
England, 1667: Sensible Clarice Bradford is content in her widowhood. She has a pretty one-room cottage and a lovely little daughter, and the last thing she wants is another husband. Until one fairytale evening when she’s invited to a wedding at a castle…

FALL FROM GRACE by Jill Barnett
Scottish Highlands, 17th Century: The Clan McNish is left starving by their bitter rivals, the McNabs. Granddaughter to the chieftain, Grace McNish, decides it’s her duty to capture and ransom a vile McNab. But she and her clan of misfits capture the wrong man, Colin Campbell, Earl of Argyll and Lord of the Isles, who holds her clan’s fate in his powerful hands.

HEART OF FRAGILE STARS by Cynthia Wright
Georgian London and the High Seas: Dashing French pirate Jean-Philippe Beauvisage revels in his life of freedom…until the night at a ball in Georgian London, when a Russian beauty steals his heart. The instant attraction he feels for recently-orphaned Antonia is soul-deep, but she is bound for America with an arrogant captain.

THE FOUR-LEAF CLOVER by Cheryl Bolen
Missouri, 1870: The wealthiest man in Peace, Missouri, Norman Sterling can’t believe his good fortune when the beauty he worshiped from afar years ago moves to his town. At their Fourth of July picnic, he blurts out a proposal to Millie Gresham—and to his profound surprise, she accepts. But can she ever win his love?

A WINTER HEART by Annette Blair
Ohio, 1873: Hannah Peachy has nurtured a winter heart since she lost her family. Caleb Skylar struggles with the horror of his wife’s drowning. When Caleb aimlessly pulls up stakes and leaves his home behind, the spirit of Hannah’s earthbound twin leads him straight to Hannah. But how can two guilty souls accept love as a reward for their transgressions? A Sensual Amish Historical Romance.


This was such a great bargain at 99 cents!

I bought it because I wanted to read “Forevermore,” by Lauren Royal. That alone would have been more than worth the price, but I got 5 other stories out of it, so I’m happy. Especially since I liked all of them, and I LOVED the first story, “The Handfasting” by Glynnis Campbell. It was so cute and perfect. I looked her up and she’s got some free books available, which is nice except…it means I’ll probably end up with more books soon. Yeah, just what I need :/!

Cute quote: 

“’Ye know I’m your protector now.’ Indeed, he was surprised by just how fiercely protective he felt. “If anyone touches ye, he’ll have to answer to me.’

Her eyes went all soft and dewy when he said that. But he was serious.”

(from The Handfasting, by Glynnis Campbell)

‘Til next time, y’all!

XOXO,

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Books # 10 – 15

#10: Factotum, by Charles Bukowksi

One of Charles Bukowski’s best, this beer-soaked, deliciously degenerate novel follows the wanderings of aspiring writer Henry Chinaski across World War II-era America. Deferred from military service, Chinaski travels from city to city, moving listlessly from one odd job to another, always needing money but never badly enough to keep a job. His day-to-day existence spirals into an endless litany of pathetic whores, sordid rooms, dreary embraces, and drunken brawls, as he makes his bitter, brilliant way from one drink to the next.

Charles Bukowski’s posthumous legend continues to grow. Factotum is a masterfully vivid evocation of slow-paced, low-life urbanity and alcoholism, and an excellent introduction to the fictional world of Charles Bukowski.


I liked this a lot, although not as much as Ham on Rye. Factotum is quite funny but in a dark way, since the main character is a terrible alcoholic and his life is bleak. The book is much shorter than I’d anticipated. I read it in two days!

#11: Post Office, by Charles Bukowski

“It began as a mistake.” By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers. This classic 1971 novel—the one that catapulted its author to national fame—is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski.


Like Factotum, this one was shorter than I’d anticipated. It went really quickly! This was darkly funny and interesting and I enjoyed it (although I probably liked Ham On Rye and Factotum better).

Btw, when I was a kid, I wrote a lot of letters to pen pals. I loved mail, and I used to think it would be so fun to work at the Post Office. This makes it sound awful, though. Ha.

#12: Heartless, by Marissa Meyer

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


I’m not a big Alice in Wonderland fan but I wanted to read this because I enjoyed Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles so, so much. I’d read the excerpt for this, too, and liked it. Ultimately, however, the book just wasn’t for me. It’s not that I disliked the writing – it is well-written – it just wasn’t my kind of story. Too dark for my taste. I’m still looking forward to Renegades, though.

#13: Dressed To Kiss, by various authors

True love never goes out of style….

Once renowned for creating the most envied gowns in London, Madame Follette’s dressmaking shop has fallen far out of fashion. The approaching coronation of King George IV offers a chance to reclaim former glory by supplying stunning new wardrobes to the most glittering society in Regency England. In the face of long-held secrets, looming scandals, and the potential ruin of their shop, the dressmakers of Follette’s are undaunted, not even by the most unexpected complication of all: true love.

The Duke’s Dressmaker by Madeline Hunter

When the Duke of Barrowmore walks into the dress shop, Selina Fontaine assumes her secret identity will compromised. Four years ago this man’s brother seduced her and abandoned her to scandal, and she holds the duke responsible. To her amazement the duke is more interested in pursuing her than exposing her, however—and that pursuit soon becomes seductively pleasurable.

The Colors of Love by Myretta Robens

Delyth Owen’s exuberant passion for her new job as a dressmaker at Madame Follette’s is matched only by her love of diverse, vibrant, and frequently unfortunate color combinations. Simon Merrithew, the pseudonymous author of a well-regarded fashion column, is horrified by the gown Delyth creates for a friend, and suspects her motives. He sets out to uncover her duplicity, but instead, he uncovers genuine joy and discovers the colors of love.

No Accounting for Love by Megan Frampton

Miss Katherine Grant is a lady’s companion, one whose number of dishonorable offers (six) greatly outweigh her honorable ones (zero). Now tasked with making certain her charge, Lady Euphemia, does not contract herself to someone inappropriate, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Mr. Henry Dawkins, the inappropriate gentleman Lady Euphemia wants to charm, who keeps the books at Madame Follette’s. But it seems that Henry only has eyes for Miss Katherine Grant.

A Fashionable Affair by Caroline Linden

Madame Follette’s is Felicity Dawkins’s birthright; her mother founded it, and now she runs it. She’s fiercely committed to making it the most exclusive modiste in London. The Earl of Carmarthen also has big plans for the shop—he wants to buy it and tear it down, to make way for a grand new boulevard of shops. One way or another, he’s determined to persuade Felicity…not only to sell her shop, but to explore the passion that sparks between them every time they meet.


When I first heard about this book, I knew I wanted to read it. I’ve read a lot by Megan Frampton already and I like her humorous writing style, plus the premise of this book just sounded too cute. I like anthologies where all the different stories are inter-connected, and I wanted to read about the dress shop. I wasn’t disappointed; this turned out to be super cute. I enjoyed the first story best, and will definitely look for more books by the author, Madeline Hunter, because I liked her minimal writing style a lot, but all of the stories were entertaining in different ways. I will probably look for more stuff by all of the writers, actually.

#14: With My Eyes Wide Open, by Brian Welch

He left KoRn to help himself. He went back to help others. And along the way, he nearly lost everything.

A life-changing spiritual awakening freed Brian “Head” Welch from a stranglehold of drugs and alcohol and prompted him to leave the highly successful nu-metal band KoRn in 2005. What followed was a decade-long trial by fire, from the perils of fathering a teen lost in depression and self-mutilation to the harsh realities of playing solo and surviving the shattering betrayal of a trusted friend. In this intensely inspiring redemption saga, perhaps most inspiring is Brian’s radical decision to rejoin KoRn and reconcile with the tribe of people he once considered family in the metal music scene.

Brian returned to his musical roots with a clear head and a devoted heart. Though his story is wild, hilarious, and deeply poignant, the message is simple: God will love you into the freedom of being yourself, as long as you keep the relationship going and never, ever quit.


I read Brian’s previous book, Save Me From Myself and really liked it. This one was great, too; it was interesting to learn what happened to him after he left the band, and why he ultimately decided to rejoin Korn. I’m glad he did, because I love the band so much and I definitely think they are better with Brian around!

#15: Got the Life, by Fieldy

From Reggie “Fieldy” Arvizu, legendary bassist of nu-metal pioneers KORN, comes Got the Life: a no-holds-barred look at his extreme highs, drug- and-booze-fueled lows, and, finally, redemption through a conversion to Christianity. Got the Life is simultaneously an insider’s look at rock n’ roll superstardom—the good, the bad, and everything in between—and a survivor’s story of a life brought back from the precipice by a new found belief in religious salvation.


After finishing With My Eyes Wide Open I felt like reading more about Korn. I’m glad I did because this was so good! I’ve read a lot of “rock star books” over the years and it can get tiresome hearing about their binges, but I do always enjoy a good redemption story. This one seems like nothing short of a miracle, given just how horrible Fieldy’s self-described behavior was. He definitely doesn’t try to sugar-coat his past, and even for a rock star he sounds bad :(. But of course his life is completely different now and I’m very glad for him (and for us Korn fans :)).

More books!

Here a few more books I’ve read so far this year. All descriptions are from Amazon.

(Btw, there are gaps in the numbering because I don’t write about everything I read. For the most part, I only write about the older titles [and post the write-ups on LibraryThing] as part of my effort to conquer the TBR pile. I am part of a group there that tracks older books read. If you’re interested in seeing the complete list of books I’ve read for the year, I catalogue pretty much everything on my LT profile. I’m on Goodreads, too, but I haven’t finished adding every book over there yet. Feel free to add me as a friend on either or both platform(s). :))

#4: Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good, by Corey Taylor

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For the first time, Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor speaks directly to his fans and shares his worldview about life as a sinner. And Taylor knows how to sin. As a small-town hero in the early ’90s, he threw himself into a hard-drinking, fierce-loving, live-for-the-moment life; when his music exploded, he found himself rich, wanted, and on the road. But soon his extreme lifestyle led him to question what it means to sin and whether it could—or should—be cast in a different light. After all, if sin makes us human how wrong can it be?

Now updated with a new Afterword by the author, Seven Deadly Sins is a brutally honest look “at a life that could have gone horribly wrong at any turn,” and the soul-searching and self-discovery it took to set it right.


Having read Corey’s second book last year, I sort of knew what to expect in terms of his writing style. It is rambling and at times completely incoherent, but he does throw in a lot of interesting and hilarious stories. If you’re a big fan (like I am), it’s worth the effort to push through this; otherwise, probably not. I liked his other book better, too – it made me laugh out loud more often :). But still, I’m glad I read this one as well. Corey divulges more about his personal background in this one than in the other, and the details were interesting, if often sad.

#7: Sweet Valley High #17: Love Letters

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Caroline Pearce has always been one of the least popular girls at Sweet Valley High. But when she invents a new out-of-town boyfriend, people finally start to pay attention to her. Brown-eyed, six foot Adam and his romantic love letters are the talk of the school.
Caroline has everyone fooled even clever Jessica Wakefield. But what begins as a bid for love and attention quickly becomes the worst jam of Caroline’s life, when her friends insist on meeting the boyfriend she’s been bragging about. Can Caroline keep the truth a secret, or will her lies be her downfall?


I’ve been working my way through all the SVH titles available from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (for some reason, you can’t borrow #1 -#12, but I think the rest of them are there). So far, this one has been my favorite. I just thought it was really cute and I liked that Caroline learns a few lessons:  namely, that it’s never a good idea to lie in order to get attention, and that the best way to make friends is to try and learn how to be a good friend yourself.

PS – I love that cover :).

#8: Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon, by Keith R.A. DeCandido

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A Supernatural novel that reveals a previously unseen adventure for the Winchester brothers, from the hit CW series!

When renegade angel Castiel alerts Sam and Dean to a series of particularly brutal killings in San Francisco’s Chinatown, they realise the Heart of the Dragon, an ancient evil of unspeakable power, is back! John Winchester faced the terrifying spirit 20 years ago, and the Campbell family fought it 20 years before that – can the boys succeed where their parents and grandparents failed?


I liked this story a lot. The fact that the demon comes back every twenty years means we get to see various members of the Winchester family fight it: first Mary (and her parents), and then John, and then finally Sam and Dean. I think this is the third of DeCandido’s Supernatural tie-ins that I’ve read and I really enjoy his no-nonsense writing style and the way he keeps the action moving. Also, this story sort of made me wish there were more books about Mary as a teen. She was cute and fun to read about :).

#9: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

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Think of The War of Art as tough love… for yourself.

Since 2002, The War of Art has inspired people around the world to defeat “Resistance”; to recognize and knock down dream-blocking barriers and to silence the naysayers within us. Resistance kicks everyone’s butt, and the desire to defeat it is equally as universal. The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. Though it was written for writers, it has been embraced by business entrepreneurs, actors, dancers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, military service members and thousands of others around the world.

Steven Pressfield is the author of the novels The Legend of Bagger Vance (made into the movie starring Matt Damon and Will Smith), Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, and The Profession. His nonfiction includes The War of Art, The Warrior Ethos, and the upcoming Turning Pro. His books are included in the curriculum at West Point and the Naval Academy, and are on the Commandant’s Reading List for the Marine Corps.


This was a short book (around 200 pages) and I read most of it in one sitting. It was very good; probably one of the best books I’ve read about writing. If anyone ever feels they need a good kick in the pants to get them started on a project (of any type) I will be sure and recommend this!

Sunshine

Seventieth book read this year:

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Description from Amazon:

A small-town baker uses her own magic to confront a post–vampire apocalypse world in this award-winning urban fantasy Neil Gaiman called “pretty much perfect.”

Although it had been mostly deserted since the Voodoo Wars, there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years. Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine, head baker at her family’s busy and popular café in downtown New Arcadia, needed a place to get away from all the noise and confusion—of the clientele and her family. Just for a few hours. Just to be able to hear herself think.
 
She knew about the Others, of course. Everyone did. And several of her family’s best regular customers were from SOF—Special Other Forces—which had been created to deal with the threat and the danger of the Others.
 
She drove out to her family’s old lakeside cabin and sat on the porch, swinging her feet and enjoying the silence and the silver moonlight on the water.
 
She never heard them coming. Of course, you don’t when they’re vampires.


I thought this dragged in some places, but overall I really liked it. Looking at reviews and stuff, I see the book seems to get compared to “Buffy” a lot but I personally don’t think it’s anything like that, except that it is about a young (blonde?) girl and there are vampires in it. I’ve also seen that McKinley has stated she won’t write any sequels to Sunshine, which I find disappointing because the story left me very curious about what happens next to the characters! And the fantasy world she created for this is so complex and detailed, it seems ripe for more tales to be set in it…I’m still thinking about the story, even though I finished the book a while ago. Oh, well. In some ways, it’s cool there were so many possibilities left open at the end of the book, because it means I’m free to imagine whatever I want to happen next. Ha, ha. It’s also nice to read a book (particularly about vampires) that isn’t part of a series. One and done!

PS: I love all these covers, particularly the one with the coffee cup, which was the one included with my version of the e-book. The one with her in the red dress is really cool too, though.

The Shining

Sixty-ninth book read this year:

The Shining by Stephen King

Description from Amazon:

Terrible events occur at an isolated hotel in the off season, when a small boy with psychic powers struggles to hold his own against the forces of evil that are driving his father insane.


I had a paperback copy of this for a really long time, but since I never read it, I sold it. Then, a couple of years ago I saw the e-book on sale for $1.99 so I bought it again. Now I finally read it and I’m glad! It was quite good. I’d always heard it was different from the Kubrick movie and that King didn’t like that adaptation. Now I can see why. One write-up I read about it said that “while the film was a technical marvel… it lacked the heart and emotional complexities of the novel,” and I would have to agree. The book was heart-breaking to me in a way that the movie (which is one of my favorites) just has never been. I may have cried a little while finishing the book.

I’m interested in the sequel, Doctor Sleep, even though the excerpt included with The Shining made it seem depressing, too :(.

First cover image taken from Amazon (I believe), the rest from the following places: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Here’s the link for cover #4, with a warning that following it will expose you to spoilers for the novel because it is a side-by-side comparison of the book and Kubrick film.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven

Second book of the year:

A Funny Thing Happened

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven (or How I Made Peace with the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics in the Process) by Corey Taylor

Description from Amazon:

In this book, Corey Taylor undertakes something never before attempted in the history of rock superstardom: he takes you with him as he journeys undercover through various ghostbusting groups who do their best to gather information and evidence about the existence of spirits. Some are more credible than others, and, frankly, some are completely insane, but all are observed with appropriate seriousness as Taylor attempts to better understand some of the spooky things that have happened to him in his life, especially that night at the Cold House.

But that’s not all, folks. Taylor once again gives you a behind-the-scenes tour of his crazy life and the many beyond-the-grave events he’s encountered. (You’ll be shocked how often Slipknot has been invaded by the supernatural.) Taylor also touches on his religious background and how it led him to believe in much more than the Man in the Sky.


I didn’t receive too many books for Christmas this year, but I got Amazon gift cards, so before 2015 was out I bought myself a few things off my wishlist. This was one of them.

Corey Taylor, in case you don’t know, is the singer of Stone Sour and Slipknot. I’ve been on a bit of a HUGE Slipknot kick ever since S and I saw them play live back in September. They were amazing and I’ve just been really into obsessed with them ever since. When I found out Corey Taylor had written several books, I knew I had to give at least one of them a try. I decided to start with this one because the premise was just so strange and intriguing. Why would a rock star write a book about ghosts, of all things? Well, it turns out, because he is haunted. Ha, ha. Okay, so that’s not entirely precise, but…he does seem to have had an inordinate number of run-ins with the paranormal throughout his life (although, is there such a thing as an “ordinate” number of paranormal experiences? Probably not). Ghosts just seem to like him.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s not fantastically written. Frankly, parts of it are a mess. But it is interesting and thought-provoking and very, very funny. Or at least I thought it was funny. Maybe I just have a comparably juvenile/sick sense of humor to Taylor’s, but I laughed out loud so many times while reading this. I enjoyed all of his Star Trek and other sci-fi references, as I had not known he was One of Us, and I liked that he poked a lot of fun at himself because I appreciate it when famous people don’t take themselves too seriously. Honestly, he seems like one of those people that just has a million funny stories to tell you, and I came away with the feeling that he’d be a cool person to hang out and have a beer with. Although I don’t think he drinks anymore now that he’s sober. But you get what I’m saying.

I think this book may be most interesting to Taylor’s fans, and to people who like ghost stories.

But really, who doesn’t like a good creepy ghost story?

31 Days to Clean

So here’s the first book I’ve finished reading so far this year:

31 Days to Clean

31 Days to Clean – Having a Martha House the Mary Way, by Sarah Mae

This is a short little e-book that I bought almost a year ago. The edition I have seems to no longer exist :(. According to the author’s website, it’s been picked up by a traditional publisher and will be re-released in April. This is the Amazon description for that upcoming edition:

Get your home and your heart in order in just 31 days!
Sarah Mae wants to let you in on a little secret about being a good homemaker: It’s not about having a clean house. She’d never claim to be a natural, organized cleaner herself—yet, like you, she wants a beautiful space to call home, a place where people feel loved and at peace. Where people can really settle in with good food, comfy pillows, and wide-open hearts.

Is it possible to find a balance? To care for your heart—and your home—at the same time?

Journey with Sarah Mae on this easy, practical 31-day plan to get you moving and have your house looking and feeling fresh. But even more than that, you’ll gain a new vision for the home of your dreams, and how to make it a place of peace, comfort, and community. Originally published as the e-book 31 Days to Clean and now revised and expanded in print for the first time, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way will inspire you to find a happier, healthier . . . cleaner way to live.


I am one of those weird people who actually enjoys cleaning. Even the parts I dislike, I don’t mind very much. That’s part of why I like to read books about cleaning! I think this guide would probably be more helpful for people who are extremely reluctant cleaners, though, because it spends a lot of time on encouragement and motivation. But the fact that Sarah Mae focuses so much on the “why” of housecleaning rather than the “how” does make this a unique sort of book about cleaning.

I liked that she takes you through two different challenges each day, one for your heart/soul (a “Mary challenge” — a reference to the biblical story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10) and one for actually cleaning part of your home (a “Martha challenge”). And I agree with her that when it comes to keeping house, motivations are important. It’s good to ask ourselves whether we are just trying to impress the people we live with and invite into our homes, or whether we are trying to create a loving, comfortable environment for them. Obviously it’s better to stay focused on the latter :).

 

City of Glass

On Tuesdays, I post a bit about what I’ve been reading lately.

City of Glass 1Last week, I finished City of Glass by Cassandra Clare.

To liven up my photo of the book, I decided to put it alongside two things that make me think of Texas (where I live):  potato chips from Schlotzsky’s and an HEB diet soda. In Lubbock (where I’m from) they do not have HEB (*gasp* — I know!) So I didn’t discover its fabulousness until after I got married and we moved to Houston. Now I am a huge fan, of course. And I have been drinking Diet Coke for years and I honestly think the HEB brand of diet soda tastes better. This is cool for me, considering how much less it costs than Diet Coke. And yes, I realize the cheapest (and healthiest) thing for me to do would be to quit drinking soda altogether, but…so far, I have not done that. So. Yeah. We all have our vices :).

As for the clothespin in the photo…I have this bad habit of not finishing my chips when I go to a sandwich restaurant. So I often bring them home and close the bag with a clothespin. Then I eat ’em later. And, uh, apparently I sometimes take a picture of it :).

Funny (by which I mean terrifying) story about this photo: I moved outside to take it because the lighting was better and only after I’d been out there for a while did I notice the wasp’s nest stuck to a chair, with all the wasps crawling all over it — not unlike the way my skin crawled when I saw that :(. I may have screamed. Just a little. But I took the picture anyway, grabbed up my stuff and then ran back inside! Ah, the joys of summer-time.

So…this post was not really about City of Glass after all, was it? But what can I say about a book almost everyone but me has already read, anyway? Y’all already know it’s good :)!

Happy reading (and snacking. And not being stung by wasps),

Elizabeth

Royal reading.

On Tuesdays I post a little about what I’ve been reading lately.Princess Diaries CollectionAmong other things, I have lately been catching up on Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series, which I started reading years ago but never finished (story of my life where series are concerned, it seems).

The above photo is of a collection of volumes I-III and volume IV, the the only volumes I have in physical format. I had gotten up to volume VI before I stopped. Within the past few weeks, I’ve bought the rest as e-books and have read almost all of them in anticipation of the 11th installment, Royal Wedding, coming out next month. To be honest, I am a little princess-ed out at this point. I should have spread the reading of these out a little more! But I am almost done now…and still looking forward to the new book :).

Happy reading,

Elizabeth

5 TBR (the impossible dream?)

On Tuesdays, I post a bit about what I have been reading lately.

I’ve mentioned before that I used to SO not be a minimalist, right? Well, here’s another example.

I used to work in a video store. This was back in the days when movies were released on VHS. I love movies (and I had a pretty good employee discount), so I used to buy TONS of tapes. One day I told one of my co-workers that I had bought so many VHS, I had stacks of them at home that I had never watched or even unwrapped. He was shocked. He said “When I buy a movie, I am always so stoked to watch it that I can’t wait. I take it home and watch it that night!”

So then, I was shocked, because…it made me wonder. Why was I buying so many tapes if I wasn’t excited enough to watch them, not just that very same night but in some cases, not ever? Basically, I was just hoarding. Something I used to do a lot of back then. Thankfully I (eventually) got over that sort of behavior. For the most part.

Recently, this little tid-bit of conversation with my co-worker re-surfaced in my memory while I was contemplating my TBR piles (both physical and digital). I counted and it seems S and I own roughly 178 books that I have never read :(. Granted, a lot of these are his, not things I bought for myself, but…some are mine and altogether, there are probably around 100 or more that I would like to read someday. I know this sounds crazy and it will likely take me a few years, but I would like to get that number down to…5.

Yes, 5 total!

Wouldn’t that be awesome? I can’t see myself reading more than 5 books at any one time anyway (I usually read 1 – 3, MAYBE 4), so 5 seems like a decent number to have in reserve at any given time.

In order to make this happen, I will obviously have to stop buying so many books. So I’ve implemented a new rule for myself. From now on, I can only buy things I will read immediately*. Things that I am “stoked” to read right away. Because if I’m not that excited about reading it NOW (or in the VERY near future), it can probably wait, hm? True, it may no longer be on sale later (this is where I get into trouble, with sales! Particularly of e-books), but…I think I’d rather pay more for it later than to have it sit on the shelf now, making me feel bad for who-knows-how-many months. Or years. Because I do. Feel bad. Even though digital books don’t take up physical space, they still tend to take up mental space. For me, anyway. I get anxious when I see how much stuff I’ve bought that I still haven’t gotten around to reading, and when I start to feel as though I will never catch up.

Anyway, we’ll see how this works out, but so far so good. In March, I bought ONE ebook and I read it right away. The TBR pile did not grow! Instead, it shrank by 5 books. In April, I bought 2 ebooks and 1 small paperback and I am currently in the process of reading all of them right away, too. Plus I read 4 books from the TBR pile, so yet again, it got smaller. I like this feeling, of using and enjoying things I already have instead of feeling like I am just hoarding new ones.

I will continue to report on how this little (okay, pretty big) goal of mine is progressing over the following months. In the meantime, here’s a book I finished over the weekend and can finally take off my TBR list (after having it sit on my shelf for almost 4 years)! Woo-hoo!

DSCF3466  Happy reading,

Elizabeth

*PS – An exception to this rule may occur at Christmas time, when I tend to get a lot of books as gifts. If I do get gifts, I won’t count them against myself, especially since I tend to be pretty good about reading those within a few months of receiving them :).

PPS – And may I also take this opportunity to brag on my husband, who does not seem to have this book-hoarding issue? He usually just reads as he buys. I look forward to the day I can do this, too. Honestly, I used to pretty much do that, too, but within the past two years or so, my e-book buying has escalated.