February Reading Recap

I’m seriously proud of how many books I managed to read this month, considering it’s the shortest month of the year and I had so much other stuff eating into my “free” time.

5/35 BOOKS READ IN 2019

I finally finished The Lost World by Michael Crichton. It’s the sequel to Jurassic Park, and once I got over the fact that a certain character was still alive (it was written after the Jurassic Park movie), I enjoyed it. The dinosaur-fact-heavy sections lost me occasionally; but the descriptions more than made up for it.

The next book was The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I bought the eBook after watching the Netflix show, understanding that the book only loosely inspired the show. Hill House follows a paranormal scholar and three others as they spend time in the nefarious Hill House. It managed to creep me out at points, which is an achievement in and of itself.

My final book of February was Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. I decided to reread it before reading the second book in the series (The Vanishing Stair, which just came out). Truly Devious chronicles two mysteries at the elite Ellingham Academy: one a kidnapping and the other a murder. And I actually didn’t mind that several loose ends were left to be resolved in the next book (though that’s usually something that bothers me a lot).

What books did you read this month?

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January Reading Recap

The Goodreads Reading Challenge book-tracker-thingie says that I need to read 3 books a month to hit my 2019 goal of reading 35 books. I managed two, which I think was due to one being an eBook (that I could pick up anytime) and the other being a hardcover (that I could only read when I had the book with me (obviously)).

The first book I finished was Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn. It’s the second in the Lady Julia Gray series, featuring a Victorian widow and a brooding PI. Sanctuary gave me such Miss Fisher vibes and scratched that itch for a historical cozy mystery. I definitely recommend the series.

The other book was The Family Plot by Cherie Priest. I read this book around when it came out in summer 2017, but I’ve been feeling for some time that I rushed through that reading. So I picked it up again. It’s a slow-burn plot and then all of a sudden it isn’t. Part of me is thinking twice about my desire to buy and fix up an old house after this reread.

I started a third book this month: The Lost World by Michael Crichton. I’m about a third of the way through as of writing this post.

What books did you read in January? Anything that I should check out?

What I’ve Been Reading… April 2017

30753630Pet Semetary by Stephen King
~All of the kids in Ludlow, Maine know about the Pet Semetary behind Lou Creed’s house, and more than a few of the adults know the dangers that lurk beyond it.
It’s been a while since I read a Stephen King book, and I picked this one up at the airport in Charlotte. It gave me slow creepiness that I was craving, along with a terrifying, fantastic story.

7898018The Zombie Autopsies by Steven C. Schlozman, MD
~Dr. Stanley Blum volunteered to join the medical team that may be humanity’s last hope for a cure to the zombie epidemic.
I decided that in order to get into the head space to revise my zombie novella, I needed to read a zombie book. The Zombie Autopsies certainly got me into that mindset. It’s a scary, realistic medical-type journal of zombie research.

9253894Take the Monkeys and Run by Karen Cantwell
~Barbara Marr is just a typical suburban mom going through a separation with her husband when monkeys suddenly appear in the trees of her suburban Virginia home.
I didn’t know what to expect with a title like Take the Monkeys and Run. It turned out to be a fun, cozy mystery with a funny protagonist. The climax did run a bit long, but overall I enjoyed it.

31147672Brimstone by Cherie Priest
~Tomas Cordero dreams of fire after the Great War, and he unknowingly shares these dreams with Alice Dartle, a clairvoyant who believes she can help the shell-shocked veteran.
This is an art deco, historical fantasy that I wasn’t too sure about when I took it off the shelf at Barnes & Noble. But I’m glad that I did. Both Tomas and Alice were compelling characters, and their dueling points of view added a whole lot of tension.

My eBook Haul

When it rains, it pours. Or in the case of my Nook, when I buy one eBook, I buy ten. I went on an eBook-buying-spree at midnight a few Saturdays ago, and now my eReader is chocked full of things to read. Not that I didn’t have plenty to read on there already.

The Marriage of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King ($0.99)
I cannot get enough of Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes. So it made sense to get a short story about them getting married.

Squirrel Terror by Lilith SaintCrow ($4.99)
I’ve had an eye on this book for a while and finally decided to take the plunge. I’ve already read it and really liked it.

The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride by Kristen Painter (Free)
The cover got me interested while the summary made me hit “buy”. A mail order bride for a vampire? Count me in.

The Crown & the Arrow and The Mirror & the Maze by Renee Ahdieh (Free)
I enjoyed both The Wrath & the Dawn and The Rose & the Dagger, so I decided to head back into the universe with these short stories.

Extracted by Tyler H. Jolley & Sherry D. Ficklin (Free)
I’ve liked Sherry D. Ficklin’s books, so I figured that I’d give this book a try. The fact that I’ve been on a steampunk kick also helped.

Frey by Melissa Wright (Free)
This book is farther into the fantasy genre than I typically stray. However the cover is pretty freaking cool, and I just get a good feeling about it.

Cappuccinos, Cupcakes, and Corpse by Harper Lin (Free)
Again, the cover got me interested enough to read into the summary. It’s a cozy mystery, which I’ve been craving recently. Plus it’s set in my home state of Massachusetts.

The Book Rules

Rule 1
Never regret staying up late to read a book. Call it a bad decision in the morning when you’re struggling against a sleep-fogged brain, but never regret it. Because if reading makes you happy, then you should never regret a moment of it.

Rule 2
Avoid starting a new book after 8 PM. Stories are supposed to get their claws in and not let you go, and it’s 2 AM before you know it. Feel free to ignore this rule on weekends or holidays. Or whenever.

Rule 3
When the price of an eBook and a paperback are close–and you can afford it–spring for the paperback. There are few things better in this world than being the first person to crack open a brand new book and stick your nose between the freshly printed pages.

Rule 4
Carry a book at all times: in a purse, on a phone, etc. You never know when you could be stuck waiting, and the articles in magazines left on waiting room tables are never as interesting as they seem.

Rule 5
Anything flat–or mostly flat–can be used as a bookmark. Those old Pokemon cards lying around, that receipt tucked into the bottom of a plastic bag, and the decal that never made it onto your car.

Rule 6
Bookmarks bought at bookstores or in souvenir shops never actually get used in books. Your inclination with something so pretty and shiny is to keep it in its plastic so that the edges don’t fray and the cardstock doesn’t bend. Metal bookmarks are the exception.

Rule 7
Splurge on autographed editions. With signed books becoming a new norm in bookstores and other retailers, they’ve never been easier to find. Far easier than hoping the author will be doing a signing within a reasonable distance from home.

A Letter to Barnes & Noble

Dear Barnes & Noble,

I’ve been shopping in your stores for over a decade and have bought hundreds of books through the years. Wandering through row after row of shelves, poking my nose into unread books, and shuffling through the clearance section made me lose hours in your store. I even bought my eReader from you, and it has served me well for the past three years (though I’ve lost the charger and you no longer sell them).

While I’ve popped onto your website to peruse the selection there, it’s never been nearly as fun as going into a brick and mortar store. And I would honestly rather visit a store than shop online since online shopping is slowly eroding the bookstore experience. (It played a massive role in the demise of Borders, after all.)

But it’s getting tougher and tougher to justify making the trip to the store.

I typically have a book (or two) in mind whenever I visit, and I’ll scour the shelves for them in vain. The only time that I have any luck finding a certain book is when the author is well-known or have a decent-sized following. It makes sense to me looking at it from your perspective, stocking what has the greatest likelihood of being sold. It just means I don’t necessarily find what I’m looking for. Once or twice, it isn’t a big deal. But every time I visit…

Whenever I visit B&N online–a virtual bookstore with an infinite amount of shelf space–I always find what I’m looking.  Plus there always seems to be a sale going on, so paperback books are typically under $10. And my B&N members card means that shipping is free no matter how much I buy. .

I’ve only had good experiences at your stores. But it’s becoming increasingly harder to justify shopping in brick and mortar stores.

Last week I visited a B&N store in South Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’d found A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn on your website for just over $9, and I was more than ecstatic when I found that book on the shelf at your store. At least until I got to the register. The paperback book in my hands was $14 and change.

A $5 difference between picking up a book in-store versus ordering it online is huge. I’m on a limited budget, and nearly all of my books are purchased with gift cards. So I try to stretch those funds as long as I can. And $5 could buy me a couple of eBooks or take a huge chunk out of a paperback that’s on sale.

There’s no other way to say this: I’m breaking up with your stores. Whatever shopping I do from now on will be at BarnesandNoble.com. Now I may slip up now and then around the holidays when you get signed copies of books in-stock, however don’t expect it to be a regular thing. We’re just not meant to be.

Signed,

A Book Lover

Monthly Monday Update: November/NaNoWriMo Update #4

What I’m Writing

I spent the majority of November working on my new novel, what I’ve decided to call the “Blood Tithe Project” for the time being. As I mentioned last month, I didn’t do a whole lot of preparation for this novel. So the story surprises me a whole lot, and the first two sections gave me a good idea of the structure. I certainly didn’t realize that each section would be about 15,000 words, giving me an estimated final word count of 90,000. That’s a bit daunting. However I did write 30,000 words during NaNo, so that’s only 60,000 more words to go.

Apart from writing those 30,000 words during NaNo, I finished writing the novel I started for Camp NaNoWriMo all the way back in April. I mentioned in my first NaNo update that I wasn’t too thrilled with the main character not rising to the occasion. Despite that, I’m excited to get back into the novel and start editing in a few months.

What I’m Reading

Reading NowLeft to Die by Lisa Jackson

Reading Next: Not sure yet.

In Other News…

National Novel Writing Month concluded yesterday. While I didn’t write 50,000 words, I’m still proud of the more than 35,000 words I did write. Here’s my final, fourth update for NaNoWriMo 2014.

How many words did you write this week? 1,377
What’s your biggest accomplishment this week? I managed to get a bit of writing done in spite of the Thanksgiving holiday and working on other writing projects.
Do you have a favorite scene so far?  I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite scene. There are a number of scenes that I like.
Do you have a scene that didn’t quite meet your expectations? There have been several. I just keep reminding myself that I can always change things in the next draft.
Are you sticking to your outline? So far, yes. I still haven’t found the outline, and I’m going to need it soon because I’ll be starting a new section tonight.
What’s your writing routine? Writing hasn’t happened this week.
Have you been keeping up with other writing commitments? I finished them for the month.
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count So Far: 35,738
Words to Goal: 14,262
Days Remaining: 0

 

How was your November? Did you finish 50,000 words? Or did you end up a bit short?

Monthly Monday Update: October

What I’m Writing

I didn’t spend any time planning a brand new novel for NaNoWriMo, didn’t really touch the story from Camp NaNo back in April, and procrastinated until the very last minute on all of my freelance projects. Vacation brain/Disney World withdrawal might be partially to blame.

I decided a few days ago that the story I outlined with the purpose of being a serial here on the blog was going to be much too long for that. So that story, which I’ve taken to referring to as the “Blood Tithe” Project, will be part of my NaNo this year. The reason that I say part is because I’m going to take advantage of the “must write everyday” in order to finish the Camp NaNo novel. It’s only a few thousand words away from the first draft being complete, so I want to get it done.

What I’m Reading

Reading Now: Nothing at the moment

Reading NextThe Ripper’s Wife by Brandy Purdy and Three Little Words by Maggie Wells

In Other News…

It’s National Novel Writing Month! Are you working on a novel this month or do you have another project that you’re giving extra special attention to?

Monthly Monday Update: September

*Pops off of a plane slightly sunburned after a trip to Disney World* Hey guys! Sorry I’ve been absent. A whole lot of stuff has happened this past month, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

What I’m Writing

I’m still writing for both The Gary Forbes Foundation and Today I Found Out. I was getting better about managing my time to get everything done, however vacation at the end of the month has thrown everything out of whack. The internet at the hotel was (to put it politely) challenging, so I couldn’t get anything done. But that just means I have to put in the hours over the next few weeks to get everything done.

The biggest writing update is that I’m now working as a stringer (aka freelance journalist) for a couple of local newspapers. Both articles I’ve done so far have been published in print, and one is also online. I’m planning on writing up a couple articles about the whole experience over the next few weeks.

I’m still working on my April NaNo novel. With everything else going on, that was pushed to the back burner.

What I’m Reading

Reading this Week: Midnight Dawn (finally!) I’m planning on reading it at night until I finish the stupid book. I’m also going to be picking up a YA book for the book review soon.

Reading Now: Nothing at the moment

Reading Next: I have a book from NetGalley that I need to read and review. Unfortunately, the file isn’t cooperating with my Nook, so that means I have to read it on the computer. I’ve done that before, and it’s not the most enjoyable experience. But it needs to get done.

In Other News…

This blog is going to undergo some changes during October. I’m planning on changing up the layout a bit and having scheduled weekly posts. So keep an eye out for new things during the next few weeks.

How did your September go? What did you accomplish?

Monthly Monday Update: August

Hey guys! *waves* I decided that I’m going to switch things up with “What I’m Doing Mondays” and transform them into “Monthly Monday Update”. I’ve been irregular with those update posts because I feel like I’m repeating myself with them each week. So I’m going to post one super update at the beginning of every month rather than four little ones.

Now, without further ado, here is my Monthly Monday Update for August!

What I’m Writing

My writing projects this month have been all over the place.

In July, I became a freelance writer for the website Today I Found Out. I’m writing two articles a week for them, and I love the variety in the work. I’ve written about topics ranging from why fire hydrants don’t freeze to the Centralia Mine Fire to calculating the maximum occupancy of a room.

I’m still writing YA book reviews for The Gary Forbes Foundation, but I seem to be writing them a whole lot faster than they’re being posted. Three reviews were posted last month: CinderGone, and The Princess Diaries.

The YA novel that I started back for the April Camp NaNoWriMo is within 13,000 words of being finished (so close that I can practically taste it). I’ve neglected it in favor of the paying Today I Found Out articles, but I am determined to get it finished in the next couple of weeks so I can devote October to NaNoWriMo preparation.

What I’m Reading

Read this Week: I read Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror for TypeOneTwo.org.

Reading Now: Girl in Reverse by Barbara Struber

Reading Next: Honestly, I need to finish Midnight Dawn on my Nook. I’ve had it for over a month now and simply haven’t sat down to finish reading it. Part of the problem is that it’s the second book in a series, and I haven’t read the first book. I’m not completely lost. Just lost. I’m determined to finish it, though. So I’m going to make time to get it read this week.

In Other News…

I started a Youtube channel called Sarah Reads & Writes that I’ve uploaded three videos to so far. I have two videos that I need to edit and upload (let’s just say they’ve been sitting on my SD card for over a week). Plus there’s a video idea that’s been floating around my head for a few days that I’m excited to film. I think it could be pretty cool to do this week.

What have you been up to for the month of August? Have you accomplished any goals or reached any milestones?