Wordbound Week 9 – Author Bio

Hello readers! Have you ever experienced that weird feeling when you’re applying for a job or something and you suddenly can’t remember anything interesting about yourself or what you do? This has been happening to me a lot lately. Last year around this time, I was finishing up my applications to grad school, and while I was writing my personal statement I kept blanking on why they should want me to go to their school. “Um, I would like to go to your school, so please just take me and don’t ask any more questions.” Last semester, I was writing the first draft of my thesis proposal, and I kept getting stuck. “I don’t know, I just want to do some science, please just let me do some science.” Now I’m working on a grant proposal. I really have no idea how to write it. Can I just say “Hi, please give me your money to buy some, um, stuff, for um, science, thanks!” No? Yeah, didn’t think so. From this, it probably sounds like I have no idea what my thesis is even going to be, which is not the case. I’m just pretty sure that my project sounds very boring to everyone who isn’t in my immediate circle of academic support. Anyway, I’ve always struggled to write about myself and what I’m doing with my life, so when this week’s prompt rolled around, I was like “oh great, what are even interesting things about me?”

Without a clear place to start, I did what I’m trained to do: research! There are a lot of sources out there on how to take a good author photo and write a good bio.
I tackled the photo first. The hardest part was finding a good place to take it. My living space, much like my life, is currently in a state of minor chaos. I finally managed to find a good bit of empty space against a wall, set my camera on a char, set the timer, and posed. And then did that about 20 more times until I got a picture that was in focus, with me looking at the camera, and the light not all wonky. Then I cropped it down to size, and made it black and white (my camera has a black and white setting, but this is only just now occurring to me, whoops).

So, onto the bio. The general advice seems to be that you should write your bio to fit with the book. For example, if you wrote an informational book, it’s a good idea to list your qualifications, like degrees or experience, but not so much if you wrote a middle-grade novel. Makes enough sense. Can you imagine if you picked up a YA novel about mermaids and the bio said that the author had a degree in finance? My reaction would be “interesting, but I don’t care, tell me about mermaids and why I should read this book.” But I don’t actually have a book yet, so I’m going to have to be a bit more generic. I also love how so many blogs and sites tell me to consider who reads my work. Well, there are like 10 or so strangers on the internet, but other than that, it’s mostly just me. I guess that’s somewhere to start. I made a rule for myself a few years ago that I wouldn’t post anything on the internet that I wouldn’t want to see if it were someone else posting it. This kept me from posting content just for the sake of posting content. There are people out there who might be interested in hearing every single thought that pops into my head, but I’m not. This has worked out really well for me. I stopped youtubing when I stopped enjoying it, I quit facebook when it became nothing more than a source of procrastination, I only let family and close friends follow me on instagram. Overall, I have gotten a lot better at living in the present and enjoying it instead of feeling like I need to share everything all the time. So okay, following my own advice, what do I find interesting about myself? What would I want to know about me if I were a new reader? Okay, I think I’ve got it!

Emma is a biologist, writer, graduate student, and teacher. She is  currently working on two stories, Moving On, and Red. In her free time, she enjoys photography, crafting, and blogging. You can find Emma at http://www.emmareadthings.com or @emmanemsl on Twitter.
Short and sweet. I’m happy with it.
Does anyone else have this much trouble writing about themselves?


February Wrap-Up 2017

Hello readers! February is over, so it’s time for another wrap-up. This may have been the shortest month, but I still managed to read plenty of books – 12 to be exact.
In last month’s wrap-up, I mentioned some books that I was in the middle of reading, so I’ll start with those. I finished the last Fox and O’Hare book and it was kind of a struggle to get to the end. I didn’t mind the cheesiness and repetitive plots so much at first, but about halfway through this last book I was so over it. A Study in Charlotte turned out to be everything I had hoped it would be. I love when I can read a book about people who are younger than me, but it doesn’t feel really juvenile. I am definitely looking forward to book 2!
I also read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because it’s one of those classics that I’ve always wanted to read, but never got around to. Through the Looking-glass is now on my TBR along with some other children’s classics I missed out on when I was a child.
Next up was Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. It was great. I liked it a lot, even though at times it was a little close to home. I tend to read for escapism, and at times the “20-something girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life or if she’s picked the right path” premise was a little too relatable. That said, it was a great book, and I would definitely recommend it.
I needed something to take my mind off the stress of my thesis proposal, lesson plans, homework, and but-what-am-I-going-to-do-after-next-year crisis, so I switched up the genre I was reading to books by funny women. I breezed through Amy Poehler’s Yes Please (hilarious and heartfelt), Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants (I laughed so hard I cried), Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can (but wasn’t it really more of a cliffhanger?), Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (I could have done without the transphobia and racism), and Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman (funny, but also had some interesting perspectives on feminism that I had never considered before).
I was going to write a blog post about books that I tried reading years ago and didn’t like, but am planning on re-visiting. In preparation for this post, I was thinking I would re-read the first bit of these books and see if I was actually interested now. This post was going to include Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, but I didn’t stop after reading the first bit. I read the entire thing in a matter of days. I think it’s safe to say that I was interested. I can see why I would have put it down after only a few chapters the first time I tried to read it. High school Emma had a low-level hum of depression and was definitely in denial about it. These circumstances made it very hard for me to have any sympathy for characters with mental illness. You hate everything? Well, me too. Just deal with it. Present Emma is much more understanding. I had a major depressive episode several years ago combined with some other mental health stuff. You hate everything and that’s leading to terrible self-destructive behaviors? Been there! I better keep reading and hope you get it sorted out like I did. So my blog post idea is on hold until I sort through the rest of the books in my house, but the book was very good, so it was worth it.
Most recently, I started reading the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. I have enjoyed the first two books. I read most of the second book while dying my hair purple this past weekend. I’m partway through the third and I’m worried that it’s getting a little to overdramatic for my taste. I’m also not the biggest fan of the older guy thing. So we’ll see if I decide to finish the series, tune in next month to find out!

Wordbound Week 8

Hello readers! I am very excited about what I have to share with you this week. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I love fairytale retellings. They are definitely one of my favorite genres, and I’ve wanted to take a crack at writing one of my own for a while now. I have this idea for my own version of Little Red Riding Hood that involves some of my favorite things, like people who can talk to animals, ecology, and maybe a little romance. I didn’t have anything written for this story yet, but when I just couldn’t figure out how to work this week’s prompt into my other story, I took the plunge and started writing.
The prompt this week was “a character realizes something as they look up at the night sky.”

This little nudge from Wordbound helped me figure out how everything should fit together for the beginning of this story. Yay!
So without further ado, here is an excerpt from the end of the first chapter of a story that for now I’m calling “Red.” Enjoy!

I finished my shopping early that evening and decided to look in the shoe store. The soles of my shoes were wearing through and it would be winter soon. I was looking at the prices and trying to figure out how many weeks I would have to save to be able to afford new boots when it happened. I heard shouting out in the square. People were hurrying past to join the crowd.
I made my way out of the shop carefully and went to see what the fuss was about.
“Our people are getting sicker by the day,” a sturdy-looking man was shouting from the steps of the church, “We need to take action! We can no longer afford to wait around for a miracle. Our families our dying, and not just from illness. Food is becoming more and more scarce. The hunts aren’t yielding as much meat for the forest-folk, and farmers’ herds are growing smaller even.”
“And townsfolk are disappearing.” Another man had joined the first on the steps, commanding the crowd’s attention. “It is time for us to band together against our enemy! It is time for us to hunt down the wolves and finish them!”
A gasp issued from the gathered people. That’s when I noticed that a local woman, Angela, who was widely known for her peaceful demeanor and kindness, had climbed the steps of the building opposite the church.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she yelled, “the wolves are not the problem and they have as much a right to live as any of us!” I let out a sigh and realized I must have been holding my breath. I was relieved to know that she was a voice of reason, and maybe these people weren’t going to do anything drastic after all.
But then all hell broke loose. People all began yelling at once.
“She’s on their side!”
“If you are not with us, then you are our enemy as well!”
“Anyone who protects the wolves should be banished!”
“Or imprisoned!”
It occurred to me that this was no random gathering in the square. The men who had spoken on the steps had assistance from others sprinkled throughout the masses. They were organized, and they were generating fear and anger. Someone was arresting Angela. If anyone found out who I was, what I could do, I would no doubt be in the same situation as her. Or worse. I began to back away slowly so as not to draw attention to myself. Then, once I was out of sight of the mob, I ran.
I ran hard and fast, and I kept running until the last orange streaks of sunset had faded into black. In the forest, at night, I knew I would be safe. At least for long enough to catch my breath.
I sank to the ground with my back against a tree. I was sobbing and shaking even though I wasn’t cold. It was almost impossible to breathe. Was it possible to drown without any water? I so badly wanted Luna here to comfort me.
Luna. As I looked up at the night sky in an effort to calm myself, it all became clear. Luna had been right. As long as these people let fear rule them, none of us would ever be safe. It was time for me to leave the only home I had ever known. Forever.

Wordbound Week 7

Hello readers! I did a lot better with Wordbound this week. I have actual writing to share, yay! The prompt this week was to put a character in an abandoned building or space.

I was originally going to have this scene take place in the dorms, but I like what I wrote instead so much better. The scene got really long and started to turn into its own chapter, so I’m just posting part of it. You’ll have to guess what happens next!
This is a scene that takes place earlier on in the story than some of the stuff I’ve posted recently. For anyone who would like, I could really use some feedback on whether Andrew and Amelia are at all likable. I of course want my readers to like my narrator, because otherwise reading this story wouldn’t be any fun. But I also need Andrew to be likable enough, at least at first, so that it makes sense why Amelia wants to be with him. Any thoughts? Constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated!

After our spontaneous trip to the record store, I became somewhat obsessed with the possibility of hanging out with him again. Every day after classes, I would settle into the sofa in the lounge with my laptop or a book and kill time until he showed up. Most days, he never did. Some days he stopped in to say hi or complain about his class. One time, he was eating pretzels and offered me some. I would get to see him other times in other places – eating dinner with other people from our hall, studying in a group, going to the autumn dance recital – but we’re never alone and it’s not the same, not like it was in the record store.
Finally, after weeks of perseverance, my efforts paid off. It was a Friday and I was giving up for the afternoon. Normally, if he were going to show up, he would have by now. I packed up my stuff and headed back down the hall towards my room.
“Hey, Amelia! Aren’t you coming?” It’s him. I had to make a conscious effort not to turn around too fast and give myself away.
“Coming where?” I asked in the most even toned voice I could muster with my heart beating a million miles a minute.
“A whole bunch of us our going on an adventure,” Andrew replied. “So are you coming or what?”
“Um, I guess…”
“Oh, come on, we’ll have fun!” There is one part of that sentence that jumped out at me. We. I’ve wanted so badly to be a we with him.
“Yeah, okay, just let me drop my stuff off and get a jacket.”
I strode the rest of the way back to my room, dumped my books on the bed, shoved my wallet and phone into my pockets, threw on my windbreaker, and turned around to bolt back to where I left Andrew, only to find him leaning in the doorway with a sly grin on his face. His eyes had found the drawings on Cassie’s desk.
“Nice nudes.”
“They’re Cassie’s,” I was nearly paralyzed with embarrassment.
“Of you.” Thank you Captain Obvious.
“Just my face, the rest is the model from her art class. She said she didn’t want to draw the model’s face though, mine was more interesting.” I watched him give me an appraising look while I explained.
“I bet all of you is more interesting…” Our eyes met, and then after a few long seconds, “Shall we?” He stepped aside and held open the door. I used the short walk down the hall towards the rest of the group to remind myself how to breathe.

It was a drizzly afternoon. We all trudged along with our hoods up. I still didn’t know where we were going, but found that I was so distracted in my own daydreams that I couldn’t be bothered to ask. We walked for maybe a mile outside of town until I realized where we must be headed.
“Wait, are we going to the high school?” I asked to no one in particular. Kevin fell into step with me in response.
“Yeah, sort of. You know how the high school used to be part of the old college? Like, before the 1900s when we moved to the new campus, some of the buildings that make up the high school now used to be the college library and stuff. They kept those buildings and kind of added on parts to connect them together, but the rest of the buildings were torn down.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard about that.” I did know that the old campus was where the high school is now, but I had no idea that parts of the high school were the original buildings. No wonder the thing looked like a mosaic of architectural styles.
“Well, back in like 1870 or something, there were so many blizzards that students stopped being able to go to classes, so they built tunnels underground that connected all the buildings,” Kevin explained
“And the tunnels are still there?” I was now pretty sure of where we were headed.
“Yep! Mostly people forgot about them, but some senior guy in Lauren’s Shakespeare class told her how to get in.”
It was Lauren’s turn to chime in now. “He was totally just trying to impress me. I think he wanted to show me so he could get me somewhere private and dark to make out with me.”
“Joke’s on him,” Lizzie said, slipping her arm through Lauren’s, “He shouldn’t have told you where the entrance was if he wanted to take you there himself.”
“Well, that, and I never would have fallen for it anyway on account of I have a girlfriend,” Lauren said matter-of-factly. Lizzie practically beamed and planted a quick kiss on Lauren’s cheek. I felt a little twinge of envy go through me. I want that, I thought.

The school had let out hours ago, and the sun was just starting to set. We went around to the back of the school and found a set of stairs leading down to a basement door that was unlocked. We went through and found ourselves in the bottom of a stairwell. We kept quiet in case there were any teachers still roaming the halls. Lauren pointed to the wall on the left at a closet door. Kevin got out his lockpicks and got to work. It was less than a minute later when I realized that the door wasn’t a closet at all. It was another set of stairs, these ones much older, and heading down. We filed in and shut the door behind us, then crept down the stairs. Once we were sure that we were out of earshot of anyone in the building upstairs, we allowed ourselves to react to our success. Catherine jumped up and down laughing, Lauren and Lizzie kissed, Kevin bragged about his lock picking skills, Jake and Olivia did a little happy dance and I couldn’t help but join in. When we had calmed down, it was time to decide which way to go. We felt around in the dark for our phones and turned on the flashlight settings. The ever-prepared Olivia had a flashlight keychain that emitted a surprisingly strong beam of light. Once illuminated, we could see that we were standing at an intersection of sorts.

Wordbound Week 6

Hello readers! I am a little disappointed in myself. Only a little bit, because I am trying to be kind to myself, but still. It’s Wednesday and I still don’t have anything for this week’s prompt. Something gets broken beyond repair.

 At first I thought this would be easy. If all else failed, I could just slip in a few lines in a scene I was already writing. Someone could just knock something over, get their phone wet, maybe their pet rabbit would chew through their laptop charger. There are endless possibilities. The problem was, I wasn’t feeling inspired to write anything in story. I often feel mentally and emotionally exhausted and like I’m just completely out of ideas. I have loved participating in Wordbound so much because forcing myself to work the prompts into my story has led me to come up with so many ideas that I don’t think would have occurred to me otherwise. I was struggling to figure out how Andrew and Amelia would become friends, but the secret message prompt gave me the answer. The closed door prompt helped me figure out where they would be when they made up after their big fight. I like what I write a lot more when I build the scene around the prompt instead of just casually throwing the prompt into the scene. So, okay, I would just come up with an idea for a scene centered around something breaking, or being broken. I’ve been writing a lot of the past scenes lately, so I felt like my present section needed some attention. I haven’t posted any of the present section here, so a quick rundown of what happens: Amelia got out of the shitty relationship with Andrew at the end of the last school year and took a semester off. It is the spring semester and she’s trying to readjust to college life and navigate sticky social situations and also not die every time she sees Andrew. She meets a new friend, Jazza who is super sweet and caring and understanding. Eventually they fall in love, the end. There, I have just spoiled the entire plot for you, but whatever. I’m writing this story for me. The likelihood of it ever being published is slim to none, and even if it did turn into a book someday, the entire plot would be pretty obvious based on the first two chapters. Anyway, I came up with the idea of writing a scene between Amelia and Jazza where Amelia says that she feels like she’s broken because of Andrew. The problem is, even though Amelia might feel like she’s broken beyond repair, she definitely isn’t. Also, I don’t think she would vocalize that feeling, particularly to someone she might have romantic-type feelings for. On top of all that, even if Amelia did say it, I can’t figure out how Jazza would respond, or rather, I know how she would respond, but I would have to shove a whole bunch of character development into a small space, which just feels sloppy to me. It writes up like a scene in a soap opera. Hello, you just met me not too long ago, here is my entire life story and how it ties in with your entire life story. No thanks. So I scrapped that idea. Maybe instead of putting in the dialogue, I could use the prompt to inspire the setting. I immediately liked this idea about ten thousand times better. I now have plans to write a scene with a more appropriate amount of character development. Amelia and Jazza are breaking a bunch of glass bottles for an art project and also talking about life and stuff. I have not written this scene though. I’ve been doing a lot of writing this week. I had a short paper due for two of my classes, I wrote good and bad examples of lab report sections for the intro bio kids, and I’ve been revising my thesis proposal. I come home at the end of the day feeling like I’m out of words. I told myself it was okay, I would have plenty of time to work on my wordbound stuff on Tuesday night. I got up early on Tuesday for the ridiculously early lab meeting. I finished all of my work before my afternoon class, went to class, and then babysat in the evening. Usually the 5 year old I sit eats dinner and then watches TV or plays games by herself. Sometimes she recruits me to play with her, but I usually have at least an hour to work. This time, the kid cried for a solid half hour because she was exhausted and missed her dad. I held her in my lap and stoked her head while she sobbed. I tried all the usual tricks to get kids to stop crying: logical reasoning, bribing with ice cream, and just waiting for her to get bored with crying. Eventually I managed to distract her by allowing her to text random strings of emojis from my phone and then reading her the responses that people sent. She calmed down, I went home and ate dinner, and then settled down to write. I was going to write an awesome scene with great dialogue. I was going to make some substantial progress on my story. I did no such thing. I was passed out before 9pm. Well, I could try to write it now and still have it finished before Wednesday is technically over, but this blog post was easier and I have to finish the revisions on my proposal and send it to my advisor. Hopefully I’ll do better next week!

Wordbound Week 5

Hello readers! This week’s wordbound prompt had the gears in my mind spinning instantly. What am I embarrassed to admit I’ve written? There must be plenty!

But as I thought about it more, I couldn’t really come up with anything that I would call embarrassing. I have a vague memory of a poorly written poem that rhymes “lamb” with “I am,” but I can’t remember much else about it, so it doesn’t make for an entertaining blog post. There are plenty of essays from my college years that I put off until the last possible moment and were therefore not as good as they could have been. I was embarrassed to turn in assignments like that because it meant admitting to the professor that I didn’t have my shit together enough to put in the effort the assignment deserved. But as standalone pieces, none of them are that bad, they’re just under-researched, or not up to my normal standard.
So I moved on to what was sure to be a gold mine of embarrassing writing – my journals. I dug all of the journals I could find out of the drawer they were in. I have a record going all the way back to 5th grade (everything from before then seems to have been thrown out).
Well, it turns out I am capable of being compassionate towards my past self, because most of what I’ve read is not as mortifying as I would have expected. In fact, some of it I find so funny that I don’t think I’ll keep it to myself. Here are some gems from my childhood diaries. For clarity’s sake, I’m fixing all of the spelling errors.
From 10-year-old Emma:

“Sometimes I wonder if my parents have security cameras in the house and if they could catch me writing in my diary late at night like I am doing now.”

“Yesterday I went to [popular class field trip place]. I rode in a car with [friend 1], [friend 2] and their moms. We got there first because one of the buses broke down so we had to wait a long time. Since the buses came late, we left late too. We were supposed to be back by 1:30 in time for math, but instead we came back at 2:30 and then had recess for almost an hour. At recess, [friend 2] and I asked [5th grade teacher] if she had found James yet. She said no.”
What happened to James? I never did bother to fill in the details.
From 11-year-old Emma:

“My teachers are always telling me that if I keep a diary or journal my writing will keep on improving. I don’t see how. I’ve been keeping a journal since age 7 maybe even 6 but it doesn’t help me in my writing. Doesn’t really even help get my emotions out. I’ll be back, I have an important e-mail to send.”
I wonder what kinds of important emails I was sending when I was 11…

“It’s kind of late, but I just felt like writing. It is not the best time to write and I don’t really have anything to write. I will try to find things. I need to go to bed.”
That entry was particularly strange, given that 3 pages after, I talk about how I like to save paper.
“New Year’s Eve was really cool, or as some people might say, vicious.”
Really Emma? Do people say that? I don’t think they do, and even if they do, you probably shouldn’t.
14-year-old Emma:
“A lot has happened since the last time I wrote. There is so much to tell!”
I then spend 5 pages describing a rather mundane dream I had and never get around to actually talking about the things that had happened.
Several years worth of journal entries and a handful of fond memories later, I still hadn’t found something that I would be embarrassed to admit I wrote. I assumed that the further back I went, the more embarrassing my writing would be. But mostly I just find it cute and amusing, like I’m reading some other kid’s writing. I finally decided to suck it up and sift through some of the newer entries.
I had been avoiding the more recent stuff because a lot of it is very heavy. In case you didn’t pick it up from my fiction writings, I was in a relationship with a guy who was horribly manipulative and just downright awful. Almost anything I wrote between the time when the relationship started to when I realized that I was a survivor of emotional abuse and sexualized violence (almost 6 months after it ended), is painful to read.
I did find this one very cringe-worthy entry. I had sort of realized that the relationship I was in was no good, and so I was trying to convince myself to like this other guy. He was from the other side of the country, but would visit his friend in town sometimes. I wrote a list of reasons why I liked him including
  • He doesn’t smell bad
  • He showers
  • He thinks I’m attractive
  • He wants to go to a movie with me
Several months after I wrote this, he was in town again, and we went on a date. I noted that I was much more attracted to the girl we ran into while visiting kittens at the shelter after our meal. He paid for our food, and said I’d get it the next time we went out. We never went out again.
After that date, I called my mom to debrief. She congratulated me on realizing that not smelling bad and liking you aren’t, by themselves, good reasons for dating someone.
So I am embarrassed to admit that I was ever in a place in my life when I thought that “doesn’t smell bad” and “wants to go to a movie with me” were foundations for a relationship, and that I could trick myself into liking someone by writing a list.
And now you all know too. Goodness. Maybe I should have tried harder to find the poem about the lamb.

January Wrap-up

Hello readers! It’s time for my first monthly reading wrap-up. I read quite a few books in the first part of the month, but then classes and work started back up again (woo academia!) and I had to devote a lot of my reading energy to studying and designing assignments for the intro bio students. Overall, I read 11 books, so I am well on my way to completing my 2017 reading challenge.
I also made some progress in my Unfinished Series Challenge. I finished up the Princess Academy trilogy by Shannon Hale. I would highly recommend these books. They may be targeted towards middle-grade readers, but I think the books are very well written and have very relevant themes. If you like reading things about friendship and girl power, but also princesses, then this is the series for you!
I also read all three books in the Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman. This series was amazing. I tried to write a review post about it, but I was having so much trouble putting all of my feelings into words.
After about a year of wanting to, I finally got around to reading Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I cried so many times, not because it was really sad, but because my physiological response to most emotions is crying. I have yet to read a Rainbow Rowell book that I didn’t love.
After Landline, I felt like I needed something more silly than serious, but not pure fluff, so I opted for another Rainbow Rowell – Carry On. I spent most of this book with a huge smile on my face. It was everything I ever wanted from a fanfic and more. I felt like I had been with the characters through all of their years of school, even though the other books don’t actually exist, and I was so happy that all my favorite characters got such good endings.
In the last week of January, I picked a random book out from my local library – The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. It’s the first book in a series called Fox and O’Hare. Do you ever start reading something just because it’s there, and you don’t like it that much, but you get sucked in anyway? That’s what happened to me. The series is kind of like the TV show White Collar with a conman teams up with FBI agent premise. I am now almost finished with the 5th book in the series, and I can’t say that I really recommend them. The dialogue tends to feel forced and the cons are so elaborate that the element of realism is lost, but there are some funny moments. I don’t know if a 6th book is going to be published, but I think it’s safe to say that I’ll stop after the 5th.
Yesterday, I started reading A Study in Charlotte by Brittanny Cavallaro. I’d been on the waitlist at the library for this book for a while, and it was finally my turn to get it. I’ve been zipping through it. It’s a fun modern twist on Sherlock Holmes. I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish it tonight and I end up with a total of 12 books this month.