weekly meme wrap-up

Weekly Review

Today I’m going to be looking back over my week. I’m not doing the official Sunday Post for no reason other than I don’t want to right now. But, this functions as basically the same thing.

So, this week had its ups and downs. I got to see a great speaker on Monday, Barbara Collorosa, who talks about bullying, empathy, and teaching. I’ve seen her a few times before and when I heard she was speaking in my district again, I jumped at the chance to see her again. She really has some wonderful things to say about how to relate to kids, and I want to be her when I grow up.

Then, on Tuesday, I had another asthma attack. My chest was really hurting, so I left work to go to the doctor. By the time I got there, my inhaler had worked, but I was wrung out and exhausted. The doctor prescribed me some prednisone and sent me home. I went back to work the next two days, but by Thursday, I was done. I took Friday off to recover.

Also on Friday, I went to the Pebble Beach Author’s and Ideas Festival. I bought a ton of books, most of which were presents or for my class, but I got a few for me as well, and saw some wonderful speakers. Ridley Pearson, who wrote Peter and the Star-Catchers with Dave Barry was first. He was so funny and well spoken. He told about his experience pushing a train up a mountain in Taiwan and said that’s what writing a novel is right, and I’d never felt so seen. The next speaker was Michael Alec Rose, a music teacher, who connected Beethoven and the Beatles, deconstructed songs of each, and got everyone totally fired up. He was amazing.

Then, yesterday, I spent the whole day writing and working on my new novel. I’ve got the entire outline done, plus a scene by scene breakdown, character studies, and overview. I’ve never done so much prework on a novel before, and it feels great.

Reading wise, I didn’t get much done. I’ve been so tired from being sick, that I can only read a chapter a night. But, with any luck, I’m on the mend and can get back to normal reading speed.

Monday: Legendary by Stephanie Garber (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Fall Recommendations

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Favorite Banned Books

Friday: Let’s Talk Bookish – Questions for More Experienced Bloggers

Saturday: Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

Monday: TBD (review?)

Tuesday: Top 5 Favorite Booktube Channels

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: TBD (review?)/Monthly Wrap up?

Friday: Star Ratings – Are they Fair or Necessary?

Saturday: Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

How was your week? Drop me a comment and let me know!

novel snippet

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

Here’s another 600 words of my novel, Dark Goddess. Previous part is here.

He was an older man, brown hair and goatee shot through with threads of silver.  Long brown eyelashes framed steely grey eyes.  He was taller than she, but everyone was.  He had no real distinguishing marks, no freckles or moles.  Except his neck.  There was a light splash of white scar tissue that showed over his collar when he turned his head, but she couldn’t be sure.  The shirt collar was blue, but all she could really see was the black trench coat he wore.

He was an older man, brown hair and goatee shot through with threads of silver.  Long brown eyelashes framed steely grey eyes.  He was taller than she, but everyone was.  He had no real distinguishing marks, no freckles or moles.  Except his neck.  There was a light splash of white scar tissue that showed over his collar when he turned his head, but she couldn’t be sure.  The shirt collar was blue, but all she could really see was the black trench coat he wore.

“Where are you taking me?” she asked.

He twisted her arm, not so it hurt, but as a warning.  “Don’t talk.”

A kid about nine or ten ran past, laughing, carrying a skateboard.  A couple of teenage girls came out of a shop, eyes intent on their cell phones. 

A security guard stood at the end of the row of shops.

Her breath must have caught, or she must have tensed, or maybe her captor just knew, because he twisted her arm again, harder this time. 

She let her eyes slide away from the guard.  Looked at the ground and held her breath as they walked past him.

Her captor turned the corner.  He began to walk faster as the parking lot came into view, forcing Kali to keep pace.

And then, they were in the parking lot, surrounded by cars, early afternoon heat rising off the black tar.  He moved even fast now, practically running, pushing her ahead of him until she was tripping over her feet. 

“Here.”  He stopped abruptly, wrenching her arm.

She let out a startled cry.

He released her arm.  Pushed her against a white van.  “Don’t move.”

She looked over her shoulder. 

He had the gun out of his coat now and was pointing it at her.  His other hand dug in his pocket.

“Where are you taking me?”

“Shut up.”  He tugged the keys at his pocket, but they didn’t come out.  The gun dipped.

Adrenaline surged through her as she saw her opening.  Her one chance now that his attention was divided.

She took a deep breath.  Dropped her right shoulder, letting the strap to her bag fall.  She caught it in her fist before it hit the ground.  Then, as he started to say something, she pivoted, swinging the bag.

She hit his arm, causing it to swing away from her.  The corner of a book must have hit something in his wrist, because he cried out and lost his grip on the gun.  It arced in the air, hit a car, then rattled to the ground.

Kali ran.

“Kali, stop!”

She ignored him, running as fast as she could.  Her arms pumped; her sneakers crunched on the asphalt.  Her heart pounded until she was sure it was going to burst, but she kept running.  Onto the sidewalk, back towards the shops.

He crashed into her from behind.  They fell, Kali belly flopping on the cement.  The air was forced from her lungs.  She jerked her head up to avoid hitting it, but her chin smashed on the sidewalk, and she bit her tongue.  Blood filled her mouth.

Her captor grabbed her wrists and hauled her back to her feet.  As soon as she was upright, Kali kicked at him.  She connected with his kneecap.

He shouted.  She kicked him again, harder, getting higher, twisting her wrists as she did. 

One hand popped free.  Kali turned, swinging, and caught his ear with the flat of her palm.

He lost his grip. She started running again.  The pink stucco of the theater walls disappeared into the tree-lined entrance of the shopping center.  Kali turned inside.  Startled faces of shoppers blurred together as she pushed through the crowd.  She darted around the bodies she could.  Shoved those she couldn’t.

“Help,” she screamed, or tried to.  It felt as if there were a block in her throat that ate the sound.  “Help me!”

discussion weekly meme

Let’s Talk Bookish – Questions for More Experienced Bloggers

Let’s talk Bookish is a new weekly meme hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books. Each week, Rukky offers a topic to discuss and people are invited to chime in. This week the topic is Things You Wish You could Ask Other or More Experienced Bloggers.

So, I’m quite shy when it comes to asking questions, but I do have a few burning ones on my list.

  1. How do you come up with such wonderful discussion posts?
  2. When did you get the courage to start commenting on bloggers with 1,000+ followers?
  3. What do you do when you’re busy or in a reading slump and haven’t finished a book to read?
  4. When did you start contacting publishers directly for ARCs? Any advice?
  5. What are some tried and true methods for gaining more followers?
  6. What made you decide to start a book blog?
  7. What are some of your favorite books that you don’t get around to talking about as much?
  8. What are you writing/blogging inspirations?
  9. What’s your favorite post of all time?
  10. How do you encourage others to comment on your posts?

Okay, I think that’s all the questions I have. Got any answers for me? Any questions you have? Drop a comment below and let me know!


Favorite Banned Books

Hi! I was supposed to write a review today, but have nothing to review. Instead, in honor of Banned Book Week, I’ll give a list of some of my favorite banned or challenged books.

I read Deenie by Jude Blume when I was probably in fourth or fifth grade. I loved it. It’s about a beautiful girl whose mother wants her to be a fashion model. She keeps getting turned down because her posture isn’t correct. A doctor finally diagnoses her with scoliosis and she has to wear a brace to straighten her spine. The controversial part? She masturbates. Now, it’s not explicit or anything. There’s a scene where she’s taking a bath and uses the wash cloth to rub at a special place that makes her feel good. I decided that place must be on her back, which confused me because I didn’t get similar feelings. Maybe I was a little too young to read it. But, the story is great and the message is good, and I love how Judy Blume never shies away from showing kids as they really are.

The Hunger Games trilogy came out when I was an adult, but I still love it with all my heart. I was at the bookstore searching for a book that A) had a female protagonist and B) was dystopian. This was the first book I picked up after setting that criteria, and I quickly fell in love. With the violence, stark view of poverty, sexuality, and fraught family connections, it’s been challenged and banned in many places. I remember being surprised by Finnick’s experiences being so explicit in a YA book, but I thought it was very brave and honest. And, it sadly is a challenge that children are facing. Anyway, I think The Hunger Games is a fantastic book series.

I have to admit, I’ve only read the first of the Vampire Academy books, although I do plan on rectifying that one day. However, this book had what I think is one of the best depictions of depression I’ve ever read. It blew me away. This book has been banned because of sexuality and nudity, which is so silly because it’s a book. You can’t see the nakedness. And, besides, what’s wrong with a teenager reading about another teenager being naked? To top it off, the entire series was apparently banned before the series was even completed!

I’m so utterly unshocked by the fact that Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez was banned. Banned for being gay positive, sexually explicit, and promoting homosexuality, Rainbow Boys is frequently targeted by parents. Which is a shame. When it came out, there were only a handful of books about that featured gay protagonists, and I think this was the only one that explored how desperation could drive even a child with a sex-positive mother to make risky choices. Now, I admit: when I reread it again a few years ago, I didn’t love it as much as I did the first time I read it. But it’s still an important book to because it shows a variety of gay young men with different personalities and how relationships at that age can work and be a positive thing.

Okay, I have to get to work, so I’m leaving this list here, even though I could include a dozen others. What are some of your favorite banned or challenged books?

weekly meme

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, you answer three questions:

What are you reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not feeling very chatty today. I had another asthma attack at work and ran off to the doctor. They prescribed some stuff and the pharmacy still hasn’t filled it. I’m a little frustrated.

Anyway, onto the questions.

What are you reading this week?

discussion Top 5 weekly meme

Top 5 Fall Recommendations

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she gives a topic and participants get to answer.  This week’s topic is  Top 5 Fall Recommendations.

This one is a hard one for me, because I’m not a seasonal reader. When I was a kid, I had books that I read at Spring Break and summer, but I was never really a fall reader. But, I shall do my best.

Now, if I remember correctly, Something Upstairs by Avi actually takes place during summer. However, it’s a creepy ghost story with a lot of dark, dreary atmosphere that makes it great for fall. In this story, the main character, Kenny, moves to an old house in Maine (I think). In the attic, there’s a dark stain on the floor. And a ghost. And time travel. It’s sends shivers up my spine just thinking. It’s a children’s book and only 128 pages, so if you’re looking for a short, scary story to get you into the Halloween mood, this is for you.

The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery is another childhood favorite of mine. I remembering discovering it in a bookstore outside of Sea World in San Diego (random, I know). Like Anne of Green Gables this book is about childhood and the adventures children get into. One thing I always associate with this book is a quote about autumn. Unfortunately, I can’t find my copy of the book or the quote online, so there’s a possibility I either A) imagined it or B) it’s from another book. It was something about the air in autumn sleeping and having a different feeling than spring. Anyway, when I think of fall, I think of this book.

I’m not sure this list would be complete without Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s such a back-to-school book and it has such vivid descriptions of autumn and Halloween and pumpkins and sweaters and I could go on. This is a great book to read in the fall.

I’m not sure what it is about The Hunger Games that makes it feel like an autumn book, but there’s a certain crispness to the writing and a coolness in the descriptions of the mountains and forests that make me feel like it’s a fall book. Couple reading it while listening to James Horner’s soundtrack for the movie, grab a pumpkin spice latte and a cozy blanket, and you’ve got yourself a nice fall read.

While I feel for poor Prince Rhen, I’m not sure I’d mind being cursed to relive autumn over and over again. Now, I’m a summer girl, because I like swimming and the beach, but I like the cool, crispness of fall and the turning of the leaves and the way nature starts settling into sleep. So it’s not a bad season to have to relive.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer was written for fall. The beast, Rhen, has to repeat the fall of this eighteenth years until he gets a girl to fall in love. Harper is accidentally taken to his world to try and fufill the curse, although she’s much more likely to stab him than fall in love. And Grey is a loyal servant who will do anything for Rhen, which is a trope I love. If you haven’t read this book yet, get you to a bookstore or library and Get. This. Book.

Those are my top 5 fall recommendations. What is a book you like to read in fall?


Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Title: Legendary

Author: Stephanie Garber

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: May 28, 2018

Length: 451 pages

For years, Donatella Dragna has been corresponding with a mysterious “friend”, desperately trying her mother, who disappeared leaving Tella and her sister Scarlett at the mercy of their abusive father. Now, that friend has demanded his price for the information: Tella must tell him Legend’s true identity.

The only way to find out the master of Caravel’s true name is to win the game, so Tella plunges into the game once again. But this game is different. Played in the very capitol the week before the Empress’s birthday celebration, the game changes and becomes all to real. With each clue, Tella finds herself closer to the truth–about Legend, about her mother, about herself. But will the price be too much? Or can Tella manage to win this game?

As excited as I was to read this book, I have to admit that excitement was a little tempered when I realized that Donatella was the protagonist. I liked her okay, but Scarlett reminds me so much of me, that I felt an affinity for her. But, man, did Tella win me over. I love her wild heart and the way she plunges herself into everything with a passion. I love how she’s hedonistic and adventurous, and I love how she was open to romance at the same time she shied away from love.

I also really enjoyed the romance in this book. I admit, at first I wasn’t too sure of Dante, but he had some wonderfully romantic lines that I’m going to have to copy down and save. They thrilled my heart.

The game was interesting and fun to follow. It didn’t feel as prominent as it did in Caravel, but it’s a different story. It’s still important, but the ancillary characters, while they made an appearance, aren’t as central to the world.

I thought the mythology and world building were very well done. I’m so interested in the Fates and their powers. The descriptions of the different Fates were so vivid, I began imagining them as Halloween costumes.

I am so in love with this series. I cannot wait to read the final book.

weekly meme

Sunday Post September 22

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by the Caffeinated Reviewer . It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things you’ve received. The rules are here: The Sunday Post.

Once again, I feel like my week flew by with nothing but interruptions to my teaching. On Monday, I will once again be out of the class for grade level planning, and I hope that will be the last time I’m pulled out of the class for awhile. I need to feel like I’m back into a routine.

I did get some reading done and managed to finish a book, Legendary by Stephanie Garber. I absolutely loved it and cannot wait to read Finale, which may take a bit because it appears that neither of my libraries has it. Very frustrating.

Yesterday, at my writer’s group, we talked about writers block and ways to get ourselves out of it. I came home from that and ended up making a Power Point of characters in my new novel. It was a lot of fun and wasted time, but, to be fair, I did write for an hour or so at Panera, so I had an excuse to have some fun.

Monday: Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Funniest Characters

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: The Alienist by Caleb Carr (review)

Friday: Reading Slumps

Saturday: Dark Goddess snippet

Monday: Legendary by Stephanie Garber (review)

Tuesday: Fall Reading Recommendations

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: review

Friday: Let’s Talk Bookish – Things You Wish You Could Ask Other or More Experienced Bloggers 

Saturday: Dark Goddess snippet

How was your week? Read anything interesting that you’re dying to talk about? Drop a comment below and let me know!

novel snippet

Dark Goddess

I’ve been working on this novel for about twenty years now. It makes me feel old to realize just how long I’ve been writing it. It’s a paranormal thriller (I think) about vampires and a girl who just wants everyone to leave her in peace.

Here are the first 500 words.

Kali’s skin prickled the moment the stranger sat in the empty seat next to her.  It was a weekday afternoon and there were hardly any people in the movie theater, and yet he had chosen to sit directly on her left.  She clenched her jaw and tried to decide if she should turn and glare at him, ignore him, or move.  Between work and school, she rarely had the afternoon off; she didn’t want her experience ruined by some rando with no concept of personal space. There were a couple of white-haired old women sitting a few rows down.  She could go sit near them.  Maybe the jerk would leave her alone.

Kali slipped her book bag strap over her shoulder and started to rise.

The man grabbed her wrist, his grip bruising.  “I have a gun.” His voice, deep with an accent she couldn’t place, was just loud enough for Kali to hear him over the previews.  “Do as I say, and I won’t use it.”

She pulled against his grip.  “Let go.”

He tugged her back down to the seat and shoved up the armrest.  He leaned in.  The acrid scent of his sweat teased her nose. “I am very serious.” He was so close his breath stirred her curls.  “I have a gun in my hand.  Come with me now.”

She was about to push him away when she felt it.  Hard and bruising against her side through her shirt and his jacket.

Her protest died.  Sweat broke out on her temples and palms. Her breath was very loud in her ears.

She nodded.

“Good.  Come.”  The man stood, pulling her roughly to her feet.  “We’re going to walk out of the theater.  You won’t call for help.  You won’t indicate distress to anyone.  Understand?”

The gun was still pressed against her, hard through her thin tee shirt. She nodded again and allowed him to propel her down the row of empty seats to the stairs. His hand on her wrist and the gun against her side were all she could feel.  The thud of her heart and her over-loud breath filled her ears, drowning out all other sounds. 

The light pierced her eyes when they exited into the lobby.  She squinted, people’s bright shirts, the carpeting, and food concession displays blurring in a colorful mass.  The man moved next to her, twisting the arm he’d captured behind her and trapping it against the small of her back.  A sharp pain shot through her shoulder, but she hardly noticed it.  The gun, pressed against her side, stole her focus.

Kali barely came up to the man’s shoulders. She tripped once, trying to keep up with him. He stilled a moment, then started again, slower this time. His gait now matched hers perfectly, falling into a synchronicity that she found eerie.

There were people in the lobby, flesh colored shapes.  Not one of them looked at her.  They looked at movie posters, at the screens blaring advertisements around the lobby, at the popcorn, at their running children.  Kali was invisible. In all her life, she’d never felt more alone.

“Open the door,” he ordered.

She pushed open the exit door.  The shock of fresh air against her face caused her to inhale sharply.  It was her first real breath since he’d grabbed her, and the air cleared her head somewhat.  She looked at her captor.


Any thoughts or suggestions? I’d love to hear what you think.

discussion weekly meme

Let’s Talk Bookish – Reading Slumps

Let’s talk Bookish is a new weekly meme hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books. Each week, Rukky offers a topic to discuss and people are invited to chime in. This week the topic is Reading Slumps and Ways to Overcome Them.

So, I only became aware of reading slumps as a “thing” when I dipped my toes in the bookish community. It’s not that I never went through periods of not wanting to read or not being able to concentrate, I just wasn’t aware it was a widespread thing. I just thought it was me. I was glad I wasn’t alone.

For me, reading slumps hit when I’m especially stressed or overwhelmed. When that happens, the best thing to keep me afloat is to turn to comfort reads. I turn back to childhood favorites, like The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I’ll quite often turn to my Robin McKinley favorites of Beauty and The Outlaws of Sherwood.

If I’m not in the mood for fairy tales or fantasy, I might turn to movie novelizations or spinoffs. My favorite movie novelizations are the original Star Trek movies. Vonda M. McIntyre wrote Wrath of Kahn through The Voyage Home, and I love the details included that flesh out the universe. I mean, I enjoy the main story we get about the movie, but all the characters McIntyre wrote and the subplots are just magnificent. I love going back to those.

The last few years has been good for m/m historical romance, which is my jam. When I’m in a reading slump, especially if it’s not related to feeling stressed and is just me not knowing what to read, I go to Amazon and type in “m/m historical” and get a plethora of choices. This is how I discovered the Whyborne & Griffin novels by Jordan L. Hawk. I went from reading slump to tearing through the first 8 in no time.

So, I guess my advice for getting out of a reading slump is:

  1. Turn to old favorites, especially from your childhood.
  2. Reread books that gave you a sense of peace and happiness when you read the first time.
  3. Find a genre that you love with books that are fairly easy to read to get back into the flow of things. Soon, you’ll be ready to transition back to more challenging books.

So, those are my thoughts on reading slumps and how to get out of them.

What are some of your tips and tricks to get out of a reading slump? Drop a comment below and let me know!