Weekend Reads: March 2

Reading on the weekend is more than just a way to relax, it’s an essential part of my existence. While some people may look forward to heading out to the movie theater on a Friday or Saturday, I begin anticipating and planning my weekend reading around Tuesday morning (usually after a particularly long session completing a freelance project.)

This weekend I’m getting a late start. Freelance commitments, family life, and writing new words in my own WIP, pushed back my weekend reads until now. In addition, I wavered on which book to begin. I seriously was leaning towards rereading Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed trilogy. It’s one of my favorite YA trilogies and if you’ve not read it, I highly recommend it. You can check out my review of the first book here. Angelini’s trilogy focuses on Greek mythology and that seems to be what I’m in the mood for. However, I really wanted to read something that is new to me.

Bingo! Rick Riordan’s The Heroes of Olympus series!

My son left the first three books of the series with me several months ago and they’ve sat there in my TBR pile since. I’m excited to begin reading this series, which means this post will not be much longer. The series begins with The Lost Hero, so keep an eye out here for my review of this first book. I’ve got high hopes for it and am ready to dive in.

What are you reading this weekend? Share the titles and/or links in the comments. I’m always looking to add to my TBR list.

Happy reading!

2018 Reading Wrap Up

My Goodreads year-in-review tells me I read 44 books in 2018. This is true and misleading. It only catalogs what I tell it and I don’t tell it everything. If you’d like to see what my Goodreads year-in-review, it’s here

In actuality, I’ve read 50+, I don’t know the exact number because I don’t keep track of all my rereads. You know the ones. Those comfort books you pick up when your life feels wonky, suffocating, bleak, and so forth. We all have those moments and I often deal by escape into a well-worn, many-times-read book.

But I digress. My 2018 Reading Wrap Up features some of my favorite reads of the year and I’m sharing because maybe as you’re putting together your TBR list for 2019, you might want to consider adding one or two or all.

Overall Favorite Book of 2018

Purple Hearts by Michael Grant

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Michael Grant’s young adult book Purple Hearts is book three in the Front Lines series featuring Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman. In this alternate history, they are soldier girls of World War II. Author Grant gives readers the chance to see what may have happened if women were allowed to enlist and were drafted to serve on the front lines during World War II. I cannot recommend this series enough. It’s raw and wonderful and my overall favorite book of 2018.  

Favorite Author Who’s New To Me

Melissa Keil

I was perusing the young adult shelves of my local library and I saw The Secret Science of Magic displayed cover out. It grabbed me—the cover, the title, and then the blurb. I liked it so much I checked out Life in Outer Space and then The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, which ended up being my favorite of the three Keil books I read. Her characters are likable, quirky, and I totally recommend checking out author Melissa Keil and her books.

Most Anticipated Releases

Purple Hearts by Michael Grant

The Evolution of Claire by Tess Sharpe

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

The three books that I’ve listed as my tops were pre-ordered and anxiously awaited, their arrival date circled on my calendar. While I enjoyed The Evolution of Claire, I loved both Purple Hearts and Of Blood and Bone. The latter two are part of series so I already was invested in the story and characters—and neither disappointed.

Favorite Mystery of 2018

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

OOUIL front cover

I love mysteries. My all-time favorite author is Agatha Christie, known as the Queen of Crime and writer of more than 60 mysteries. When I can get my hands on a new mystery, I’m in heaven. This year, I had the pleasure of reading a young adult mystery that I couldn’t put down because it was that good, that immersive. If you haven’t read One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, do it. And then be sure to make a place on your bookshelf for her second book Two Can Keep a Secret which releases January 8, 2019.

Favorite Re-reads of 2018

As I mentioned earlier, I reread—a lot. And I do have many favorites. However, after much consideration, I decided to list four as my Favorite Re-reads of 2018.

Front Lines (Front Lines series book 1) by Michael Grant

Silver Stars (Front Lines series book 2) by Michael Grant

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Until the End by Christopher Pike

2018 was a good year for reading, amazing new stories alongside old favorites. Just yesterday, two new books arrived that will be part of my 2019 Reading List and I’ve two more new releases arriving in the first week of the new year. Yay!

What was your favorite book you read during 2018? Share the title and author below in comments, please as I’m always looking to add new titles to my TBR List.

Happy Reading!

TBR List: 2018 Edition

The #TBR List — every reader has one. It may be a stack of print novels a combination of garage sales finds, library borrows, and new release splurges. Your TBR (to-be-read) list of books may be list on your Good Reads account or a digital pile waiting on your e-reader. Whatever form the TBR list takes, I personally like to take stock of mine a couple of times a year.

My personal TBR List is a combo of digital reads and print books I’ve bought over the last several months, both new releases and used-book store treasures (that’s how I found my hardback copy of Imzadi).

tbr list

In no particular order, my current 2018 TBR List is:

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Hidden Figures by Margo Lee Shetterly

Zoo by James Patterson

Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux

Safe by Dawn Husted

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Imzadi (a Star Trek novel) by Peter David

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (book 3 of The Diviners)

The Library Jumpers series by Brenda Drake

Purple Hearts by Michael Grant (book 3 in the Front Lines series)

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the books that I plan on reading (hopefully) in the next six months. I find that I’m happiest when I’m actively reading. It makes me a better writer and I actually take more joy in writing when I’m reading. Besides I love stories.

I’d also like to read more mythology this year. I love Greek mythology (Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed series is one of my favorite) but after recently reading Brenda Drake’s Thunderstruck with its Norse mythology, I’d like to learn a bit more about that. I’m going to add Norse Gods by Johan Egerkrans to my list as well.

Currently I’m reading Beyond the Edge of the Map (The Mapmaker Chronicles) by A.L. Tait. It’s the fourth book in this series, a series I highly recommend for mid-grade and YA readers. You can check out my thoughts on books 1, 2, and 3. — spoiler: I loved them all!

What are you reading? What’s your 2018 TBR List looking like so far?

Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge: How’d You Do?

Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge By the Numbers:

Participants—3,064,552

Books pledged—138,755,909

Books finished (as of 12/10/17)—42,456,838

Average books pledged—45

Challenges completed (as of 12/10/17)—14,675

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The Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge has just 21 days left (as of this writing).

Never heard of the Goodreads annual Reading Challenge? No worries. It’s pretty simple. It’s free and open to all Goodreads members. All you do is choose or “pledge” how many books you want to read for the year. It can be any amount.

According to the Goodreads Reading Challenge statistics, which I’ve posted above, the average number of books pledge is  45 or a little less than one book a week.

Seems doable, right? For many readers, absolutely!

For others, myself included. I opt for a lower number. And I feel no shame. Pledge whatever you want. Slow reader? Make your challenge 5 or 10 books for the year. If you make that easily, then increase the number in the next year.

My 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge was 25 books. I completed my challenge on November 30. You can see my list of completed books and their reviews here.

In looking over the list, I’ve been trying to decide which one would be my favorite read of the year. There are so many books that I read in the last year that I really, really liked. I’d have to say my absolute favorite on this list is “Silver Stars” by Michael Grant. It’s book two in his Front Lines series.

I also read a middle-grade series written by A.L. Tait, The Mapmaker Chronicles—all three of those books appear in my Goodreads Reading Challenge list. Loved this series and highly recommend it for your young readers.

So what am I reading right now? Well, I’m still working my way through the Harry Potter series. I’m on book two but am first going to finish up reading the new Nora Roberts book “Year One”. As soon as I have “Year One” finished, I’ll post a review—but I’ll tell you right now, I’m LOVING it!

Did you do the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge?

How many books did you pledge?

Did you make your goals or are you still in a race to finish before the clock chimes midnight on December 31?

#AmReading . . .Are you?

This weekend I began “The Last of August” by Brittany Cavallaro, the sequel to “A Study in Charlotte” that features Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, teen descendants of the famous Holmes and Watson duo. If you haven’t read “A Study in Charlotte” and YA mystery is your thing — go grab a copy now and read it. You can read my review here. As for the second book, I’m about 100 pages in and it has my attention. Keep an eye for my review sometime later this week.

I also finished “The Firstborn” by Quenby Olson recently. My review is up on Goodreads and I’ll be posting it here on the blog as soon as the book officially releases. I had the awesome fortune to receive an ARC and thrilled that I was able to read it early. It’s releasing May 9, so if Regency romance makes your heart swoon, definitely mark your calendars and get a copy of “The Firstborn”. Visit author Quenby Olson at her website to see what else she’s been up to.

What else is on my #TBR list?

  • Star Wars AFTERMATH, Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig (bought and waiting for me to dive into)
  • The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (the paperback has been on my shelf for too long!)
  • Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah (again, bought and need to read soon)
  • Imzadi (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Pete David (okay, so I’ve actually read this book three times but I’ve never owned it until now, which is why it’s on my current to-read list)
  • Cloak of Shadows by C.K. Dawn (on my Kindle app)

Like many of you, I have a few dozen more on my e-reader, including a few books on the writing craft. I’m setting time aside daily to catch up and keep up with the books I want to read. How’s your TBR list for 2017 going? Doing the Goodreads challenge?

Reading: Ways to Find Great New Books

Back in September 2015, I wrote this blog post for the Writing Wenches. Since the site is no longer available to view, I wanted to share it today with my readers because I’m always on the lookout for ways to find great new books, and I’m sure you are too.

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I love books. I love to read. As a kid, my earliest book recommendations came from my mom and the amazing librarians in the children’s section of our local library. As a teen, I read books my friends said were must-reads and I spent hours exploring the shelves of bookstores.

books

While I have favorite genres and I most definitely have favorite authors, I’m always open to new ideas and new authors or at least authors that are new to me. Because of my husband’s influence I read (and loved!) Douglas Adams and Michael Crichton. A friend introduced me to Barbara Michaels and I stumbled onto Michael Grant when scanning the bookstore shelves for something that just looked interesting — I had no idea as I grabbed his book “Gone” that I’d become a huge fan with an obsession for his series.

Before we were all connected through the internet, I often discovered new authors and books by catching recommendations on talk shows or the news. That’s how I actually first heard about Harry Potter.

Today, there are so many ways to find amazing new authors and books. Social media makes it easier than ever to stay connected but there’s something to be said for the old-fashioned method of simply asking another human (in person!) what they recommend.

The next time you’re in a book store ask the clerk or even the person standing next to you in the aisle what they’re reading or what’s the best book they’ve read this month. Most readers love to talk about their favorite authors and the great books they’ve read. Connect and share and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to climb out of a reading rut and discover something new.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to find new authors and authors that are new to me.

On Twitter:

Search the hashtags #amreading, #books and #authors. Check out the #amwriting hashtag. These are great ways to find not only new authors to read but fun writerly and readerly people to follow.

On Facebook:

Follow your local library’s page or your favorite author’s page. Check out what your favorite author is reading or who that author interacts with to find new authors and books to enjoy.

IRL:

Spend time at your local library. Check out the displays that have recommendations from the librarians, ask for recommendations — don’t be afraid to ask. Librarians are there to help and they’re usually plugged into what’s hot in different genres.

Be bold and step out of your comfort zone. Choose to read something from a different genre. There’s a lot of great literature and awesomely engaging stories out there.

#Amreading in December

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I’m about 50 or so pages from completing my personal 2016 Goodreads reading challenge of 25 books. Once upon a time, reading 25 books in a year would not have been a challenge — I typically read twice that and often more. However, times change. Life changes. I write full time and some days after writing for clients and then adding words to my own WIP, I simply prefer to lose myself in a movie instead of a book. Still, I completed my Goodreads challenge, or I will later this week when I finish Chuck Sambuchino’s craft book “Get a Literary Agent” and 25 books in 2016 isn’t half bad.

That brings us to December. Now. I decided instead of continuing to work my way through my TBR pile this month, I would treat myself and indulge in a reread of a favorite series. Last year during the Christmas holidays I reread the Gone series by Michael Grant. The previous Christmas, I reread Harry Potter, although I usually do that reread in the summer.

This year, December 2016 I’m rereading Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.

If you enjoy reading YA with a supernatural/fantasy theme, then I highly recommend The Mortal Instruments Series.

city-of-bones

You can take a look at the different books here. Since the first book “City of Bones” was released in 2007, five more books were added plus a companion series called the Infernal Devices and a new sequel trilogy to the Mortal Instruments called The Dark Artifices, which begins with “Lady Midnight”. The next book after “Lady Midnight” is set to release in May 2017 and will be titled “Lord of Shadows”.

Currently, I’m on Chapter 20 of “City of Bones” and I’m enjoying it this time around as much as I did the first time I read it. I love the dialogue, especially the banter between Jace and Clary, even Simon’s commentary brings a grin while reading. I’m dreading the end of this book just a bit, because I do know what’s coming next and this particular end made me a bit growl-ly. However, it was a good end and fun way to lead into book 2 “City of Ashes”.

Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, I hope you’re experiencing peace and joy. And do I hope you’re making time for a good book or two or three.

Happy Reading!

If you have a spare moment, let me know in the comments below what you’re reading. I’m always looking to add title to my TBR list. Or which book(s) do you want Santa to bring?

 

 

Book Series I Love to Reread

I’ve always been a reader who regularly rereads favorite books. At least once a year I pull out my copy of “Death on the Nile” by Agatha Christie and my equally tattered copy of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” These well-worn and beloved books have yellowing pages, cracked spines, and are as wrinkled as a shar-pei puppy. Don’t care. I love these books — although I may have to concede and treat myself to new copies.

Death on the Nile battered

Reaching for a favorite book to reread is comforting. A chance to escape the doldrums of daily life and venture into a different world to visit old friends. Isn’t that what our favorite literary characters are? Old friends? I think so.

I’m right there on the Karnak with Hercule Poirot sailing down the Nile. Of course after reading the book dozens of times, I know who the victim will be and who the murderer is, but it doesn’t stop me from rereading “Death on the Nile.” I pick it up time and time again, because of Poirot and the other characters as well as the setting and Christie’s distinctive voice.

Beyond rereading individual books, I have several series I also enjoy reading over and over. It takes a bit more time to reread a series, but I still find it immersive and as enjoyable as the first time I read the books. My top favorite book series I love to reread are:

  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (have read the series a total of 13 times)
  • The Gone Series by Michael Grant (have read series 7 times)
  • The Starcrossed Series by Josephine Angelini (have read series 5 times)
  • Sign of Seven Trilogy by Nora Roberts (have read series 6 times)

The latter two actually are trilogies but I still consider them a series. I’ve also reread the Star Wars X-Wing series three or four times — it’s my favorite set of books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

So why all this rereading when there are so many amazing new books out there to discover? In one word: characters. It’s the characters for me. Each of these series has characters I love to love and that I love to hate. From their witty dialogue to the way they deeply feel, how they lead, and their flaws that make them believable, the characters in these books series leap from the pages and stay with me long after the last page has been read.

Someday, I hope I can create characters that resonate with readers the way the ones in my favorite book series resonate for me.

What’s your favorite book or book series to reread? I’d love to know so go ahead and share it in the comment section below. Maybe you’ll help me find my next book series to read, love, and reread.

It’s Friday! Whatcha Reading?

It’s Friday! We made it! So I have only one question for you —

What are you reading this weekend?

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Whatcha reading?

Celebrate #FridayReads by posting in the comments below your reads for the weekend. And if you’ve ever been curious about the origin of #FridayReads, check it out here.

I will be curled up reading Michael Grant’s “Front Lines“.

The TBR List

Like many of you, my TBR or to-be-read list keeps growing despite the fact that I continue to read and finish books. And how can it not grow when there’s a continual supply of new books from both veteran and first-time authors?

More than 300,000 print books are traditionally published each year, just in the U.S. You can check out the statistics here.

And what about ebooks? And self-published books? Bottom-line — there are a lot of books available and it’s no wonder our TBR lists keep growing. Personally, I think it’s a good thing to have a large reading list. Recently, I wrote out an actual list of my TBR book titles as part of an effort to get a bit more organized. I didn’t list the books in any particular order and I’m not reading them in a certain order either.

I thought I’d share some of that list with you today along with links to the book so if it strikes your fancy, you can add it to your TBR list as well.

TBR pile2

Barb’s TBR Book List (in no particular order)

The Tattooed Heart by Michael Grant (sequel to Messenger of Fear)

Front Lines by Michael Grant

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

The Replaced by Kimberly Derting (sequel to The Taking)

The Devil Within by Lauren Greene

Deceived (Soul Keeper Series) by L.A. Starkey

Starstruck by Brenda Hiatt

Avoidables by Rachel Medhurst

The Waking Engine by David Edison

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Cloak of Shadows (The Netherwalker Series) by C.K. Dawn

Ghost Unbroken by Annie McLeod

Doctor Abbott by Michelle Laverdure

Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce

Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols

This is a mere snapshot of my TBR list — some pretty amazing books on there and I’m anxious to read each one. Go ahead and leave the title and author of the next book on your TBR list in the comments, I’d love to have more great books to add!