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.

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Wordbound Week 4

Hello readers! I was excited for this week’s wordbound prompt because it’s always fun to try to incorporate a specific word into what you’re writing.

My favorite word is ricochet. It’s been my favorite word ever since it showed up on a vocab list in sixth grade English. For such a fun word, I was kind of surprised with the scene that I ended up writing. It’s a scene that I have been meaning to write for a while, but have been avoiding because it’s very emotional for me. I’m glad I finally got it out of me though.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share it yet because it’s deeply personal, but I have decided to post it here. I would appreciate any feedback on it because I feel like I’m so wrapped up in my own similar experiences that it can be hard to convey what I want to. So let me know what you think.
Before you start reading, this scene comes with a TW for emotional manipulation and gaslighting. Please proceed with caution and take care of yourself.
When I walked into our room after another hour of hanging out with Olivia and Angela on the porch, Andrew was sitting in bed with his laptop, scrolling through his various social media accounts. He half glanced up, “hey, how’s it goin?”
“Fine, and you?” I could hear the clipped nature of my words, but I was having trouble caring.
“I’m great!” Of course he was. Ugh.
“Right.” What did I think I was going to accomplish by being passive agressive? I needed to actually be fine, or at least do a better job of conveying it.
“Something up?” He didn’t even bother looking at me.
“No, I’m fine,” Just frustrated, annoyed, sick of this whole thing.
“You seem upset or something.”
“It’s fine.” Maybe I needed to learn how to lie a little better.
I pulled back the covers on my side of the bed and got in. He closed his laptop and turned out the lights. Ten minutes later, I was no closer to getting to sleep and my frustration had started to boil into anger. I sat up.
“You know what? Yeah, I am upset!” What on earth was I doing?
“Why?” Oh sure Andrew, feign ignorance.
“What am I to you?”
“What kind of question is that?” It didn’t escape me that he answered my question with a question. Although, I guess I had done that too.
“I just want to know. I could really use some clarity.”
“You’re my best friend.”
“And do you sleep with all of your friends?” Was that what was bugging me? Maybe not, but I needed to process this out loud. “I mean, normally I would work out my confusion with another friend, but we agreed we wouldn’t tell anyone about whatever it is we are, so I don’t really have any other options.”
“Okay, so we’re friends that mess around sometimes. Do we really need a label?”
“No, but some guidelines on what I can expect would be nice. Is this going to be a regular thing?” Okay, maybe we were getting somewhere now.
“Maybe, I haven’t really decided. I figured we could keep hooking up until I got involved with someone else.” Just as I suspected.
“And does what I want matter at all?”
“Not really Amelia, I know you, you want a relationship. That’s not what I want and it’s not something that can happen unless we both want it.”
“Well, I don’t just want to be some girl you can hook up with because you’re bored, so maybe whatever we are should just stop.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Amelia, I know you don’t want to do that. You like it, so you’ll take what you can get.” Did I? Would I?
“And blatantly flirting with Olivia right in front of me was uncalled for.” I knew this was a mistake as soon as I said it.
“Really Amelia? I don’t owe you anything. Stop acting like a crazy jealous bitch.” Yep, saw that one coming.
“I’m not a jealous bitch, I just think I deserve to be treated with a shred of decency. Just because you have the emotional attention span of a butterfly with ADHD doesn’t mean that I want to be discarded every time you find a better distraction and then picked back up the second the novelty of that distraction wears off.” I was feeling pretty proud for standing up for myself there, but then I saw his face. He looked so hurt. Part of me wanted him to feel a fraction of what I was feeling, but the other part of me was freaking out that I had gone too far.
“I’m not an ADHD butterfly.”
“No, I…”
“I can’t believe you would say that to me.”
“I didn’t…”
“You always do this Amelia. Whenever you feel insecure you take it out on me.”
“I didn’t mean…”
“You don’t get to treat me like this Amelia. I put up with your bullshit because you’re my best friend, but you can’t just decide that I’m a villain and start insulting me because you don’t feel good about yourself.” Is that what had happened? “You do this all the time. You’re trying to sabotage anything good you have just to hurt yourself. Do you really hate yourself that much?”
“No, I…” How was it that my argument seemed to have just ricocheted right off of him and back onto me?
“Well, it worked. I hate this Amelia. I can’t even talk to you right now. I need some time to think.”
“So what, we’re not going to talk anymore?” I was absolutely terrified of his reply.
“You should find somewhere else to sleep tonight. I don’t know when I’ll want to see you again.”
He rolled over and turned out the lights.
I couldn’t see what other choice I had, so I went up to Olivia’s room and crawled into her bed. We weren’t that close, but I didn’t care. She seemed to sense what was wrong and started to lightly stroke my back. I sobbed while she held me until I finally fell asleep.

Book Guilt and More of My TBR

Hello readers! If you’re anything like me, then you have a substantial number of books on your shelf that you have been meaning to read for years. I have probably about 20 or so of these books in the bookcase in my bedroom, and who knows how many that I have moved to other shelves in the house to make room. There are some books that were given to me as gifts, and so I feel a sense of responsibility, like I have to at least pretend that I’m going to read them someday, even if I am not at all interested in them. Other books I think I would really enjoy, but for whatever reason have never gotten around to them. These books get shuffled around every time a new stack of books comes in, but they always manage to resurface and remind me that I do actually want to read them. At the end of last year, I finally got around to reading one such book, The Secret Garden. I had purchased my copy with a gift card back when the Borders down the street from me was still in existence – I think I was probably 10 or 11 years old. The book then sat on my shelf for over a decade until I finally decided to pick it up and read it because it had just been too long. I would love to be able to read some of the other books that have been sitting on my shelf for years, so in an effort to hold myself accountable, here are 5 books that I really seriously have to read, for real.

Tuck Everlasting

I have wanted to read Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit ever since I saw the movie when I was a kid. I had heard that the book and the movie had substantial differences and was very curious. Several years later, my dad bought a copy for my sister to read (I’m not sure if she ever did). Several years after that, I discovered the copy on a bookshelf in our attic and swiped it for myself. That was 3 years ago. It’s such a short book, I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet, but I really want to.

Bel Canto

This one is somewhat embarrassing because I actually have started reading it. I started reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett shortly after devouring State of Wonder during a vacation to the beach. I quite like it and have been reading it on and off for 3 years. I will finish this book and stop getting distracted by other newer books that I stumble upon. It will happen.

The Princess Bride

Okay, the fact that I haven’t read The Princess Bride by William Goldman is also rather embarrassing, and for more than one reason. First of all, it’s one of my favorite movies and I have wanted to read it for a very long time. Second, like with Bel Canto, I actually started to read it. Unlike with Bel Canto, I lost my place and wouldn’t be able to tell you what has happened so far in the story. I recently made the decision to remove this book from my “Currently Reading” shelf on Goodreads, and just start over sometime. Maybe sometime will be sometime soon.

Death Comes to Pemberly


Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Jane Austen. Granted, I haven’t read every Jane Austen, but I’m fairly confident P&P would still win out. I’m also a sucker for just about any adaptation, retelling, or “sequel” of my favorite Austen (with the exception of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, because zombies are effing terrifying). I was so excited about Death Comes to Pemberly by P. D. James when I first heard about it. I bought a copy the first time I found it in a bookstore. I then proceeded to get very busy with school, hit a months-long reading slump, get distracted by various dystopian fiction trilogies, and lose, then find, then lose again my copy of the novel in the moves back and forth from college. I finally found it again last summer and have been keeping a careful eye on it. Assuming it doesn’t get up and walk away, I plan to read it this year.

The Bermudez Triangle

Maureen Johnson is probably one of my favorite authors. I have no real excuse for not reading this book. It has been on my shelf since my sophomore year of high school. I can remember at least 3 different times that I tried to start reading it, but then it accidentally ended up under my bed or tucked between couch cushions, and by the time I found it again, I couldn’t remember what I had already read. After several such attempts, I think I just kind of gave up. But now I am giving up on giving up because I do really want to read this book, and I’ve gotten a lot better at not losing things in the middle of reading them.
So there you have it, 5 books that I am determined to read. Check back in for updates on my progress and feel free to nag me about reading these.

Wordbound Week 3

Hello readers! I’m not gonna lie, this week’s Wordbound prompt had me a bit stumped.

I originally thought that I could use a scene from my story that I’ve been re-writing this week, only to realized that all of the doors in the scene were either open or opening. Now, an opening door must start closed, but I felt like I could do better than that, so I wrote a new scene.
This is from the same story as last week, but I think I should provide some context. My story takes place in the past and in the present. I’ve been playing with verb tense to reflect time in each scene, which has been a challenge for my brain. A fun challenge though. In the past, my protagonist, Amelia, is crushing super hard on this guy who is kind of a manipulative, arrogant  buttface. In the present, Amelia has recently ended the relationship with manipulative buttface and is trying to figure out if she can trust herself to love again. This excerpt belongs to the past storyline. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!
On Thursday, I asked Cassie to go find him for me. I had driven myself crazy with worry and longing. I was barely eating, sleeping fitfully, skipping classes. I couldn’t take another day of it. I knew what I had to do. The only way to fix things would be if I caved first. I had to be the bigger person and swallow my pride. That’s what people in adult relationships did. They fixed things. So I sent Cassie to tell him I wanted to talk.
That had been nearly ten minutes ago, and now I was sitting on my bed, watching the closed door. I held my breath at every sound, waiting to hear his footsteps coming down the hall.
Fifteen minutes.
Maybe he wouldn’t come. He probably wouldn’t come. And I wouldn’t blame him after all that I said. He looked so sad. But couldn’t he see it from my perspective? No. Stop. That was how I got myself into this mess in the first place. This was my fault. I had to fix this.
Twenty minutes.
The shifting light under the door and the giggles and shouts outside meant that the frisbee team was back. They must have gone to Caroline’s room to hang out after practice.
Twenty-five minutes.
A knock on the door. The knob turning. The door opening. I jumped to my feet. He was here.
“I’m so sorry!” I sat back down and put my head in my hands, trying not to cry. “I am so so sorry. I really screwed up, I know. But I can’t take not talking to you! I just miss you so much!” Oh no, there were the tears. “I’m just so sorry.”
A change in pressure on the bed. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Really. So sorry”
A hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay, Amelia. We’ll figure this out. I’m just really glad you apologized.”
Relief flooded through me. We were talking again, and we would figure this out. I did the right thing this time.

Favorite Fairytale Retellings

Hello readers! I love a good fairytale retelling. There’s something fun about knowing exactly what the plot should be and seeing how the author changes it. I love how different authors come of with so many ways of re-interpreting classic stories and characters. Whether the fairytale is brought into modern times, or transported to a completely different world, I’m always keen to explore a familiar story with unfamiliar twists. Here are five of my favorite fairytale retellings.

1. East by Edith Pattou

East of the Sun and West of the Moon is one of my favorite fairytales of all time, so it’s not surprising that a version of it is one of my favorite fairytale retellings. East is magical and wonderful. It incorporates other traditional Norse stories and mythology into the original tale. It was hard to put down, and I still think about it years later.


2. Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Not many people know the Brothers Grimm fairytale “The Goose Girl.” Like many old fairytales that haven’t been altered by Disney, it’s somewhat morbid, involving talking blood spots, and a horse’s head. Shannon Hale manages to take the creepy tale and weave a beautiful story about a Princess sent to marry a stranger in order to preserve peace in the kingdom, the obstacles she has to overcome, and the friends she makes along the way. Not only is it a great retelling, but it is also the first book in a really good series – The Books of Bayern.


3. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

Well, I already told you that I love East of the Sun and West of the Moon, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that I have yet another version of it on this list. I love Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. It has the same general story as East – girl leaves her family to live with a magical polar bear, falls in love, rescues him from trolls. Yet, somehow it is completely different, and just as wonderful. I would go through and talk about my favorite parts, and dissect the differences between the two books, but I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, so you should probably just go read it.

4. Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Okay, Jessica Day George knows how to retell a fairy tale, so she made the list twice. If it wasn’t obvious, Princess of Glass is a retelling of Cinderella. There are lots of versions of Cinderella out there, everything from the children’s classic Ella Enchanted to the science fiction Cinder. What I love so much about this version though, is that the Cinderella character is not the protagonist. In fact, at some points in the story she even seems like she might be the villain (but I’ll leave it to you to find out how that works out). George is so creative with this story and the characters, and manages to tie this retelling in perfectly with the first book in the series Princess of the Midnight Ball.

5. Entwined by Heather Dixon

The last one on my list for today is Entwined, which is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I honestly never really understood this particular fairy tale. It is never revealed why the princesses are dancing every night, and it doesn’t seem like the soldier and princess are a good match. Entwined addresses all of these issues though. The princesses are lured into dancing every night and then have no way of escaping. The story explores how easy it can be to trust someone who means you harm, and the relationships among the characters are well developed throughout the story. It was kind of creepy, but also magical. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a matter of hours.
Well, those are five of my favorite fairytale retellings, but I have many more, so maybe I will do this again sometime. Let me know if there are other favorites you would like to see.

Wordbound Week 2

Hello readers! For this week’s Wordbound, I’ve got an excerpt from a story I’ve been writing. Enjoy!

Glaciology was the most boring class ever. Or maybe Professor Dunne was the most boring professor ever. It was hard to tell the difference. I remembered being excited for this class when I registered for it. I liked glaciers, I liked learning about the environment and climate change, the course description really did sound fascinating. But Dunne had a way of sucking the fun out of just about everything. He droned on at the head of the class, occasionally turning around to write something on the board about the structure of water. It was 3 weeks into the semester, why on earth were we still talking about the structure of water? I had given up on paying attention about ten minutes previously and was making intricate doodles in my notebook. I used my pen to draw the silhouette of a tree, then birds in the tree, a squirrel, another bird. I added more branches to the tree while the professor drew arrows coming off a water molecule on the blackboard. Every once in awhile he would say a word that I thought might be important, so I scrawled it along one of the tree branches. If I ever needed to study these notes, I would be screwed.
I was drawing a cluster of leaves on my tree when I felt him slide into the seat next to me and every muscle in my body tensed. Andrew. Why was he sitting here? He never had before. I turned my head towards him and he was staring at me with a dopey grin on his face. “Hey,” he mouthed and then leaned over and wrote something in the corner of my notebook. What have I missed?
I gestured to the open page in my notebook to show him my doodles. He leaned over again and wrote So you didn’t take notes for me? Oh well, no point in paying attention now. That made me smile and roll my eyes. Then he leaned over, but instead of writing anything, he slid my notebook away from me and flipped to a new page. He wrote Our Secret Language at the top and the letters of the alphabet down the side. I gave him a quizzical look and he responded by holding up a finger in the gesture for me to wait and see. I watched as he drew a different symbol next to each letter and then turned the page and drew a string of the symbols at the top. He then passed the book back to me and waited expectantly.
I translated the symbols one at a time. I’ve decided we are going to be best friends. I started to write What made you decide that? underneath his message, but he shook his head and pointed at the first page with the symbols. I was much slower than him as I found each symbol I needed, so I stuck with a simple word. Why?

He replied with the same three symbols as me plus three more. Why not?

Wordbound

Hello readers! Last week Kristina Horner announced a new project called Wordbound. I love this idea and I think it fits in well with what I want to do on this blog. I like writing for the creative and emotional outlet it provides, but I definitely don’t write as much as I could. I also someday hope to be a scientific researcher and/or professor at a university, which are both jobs that require writing skills. Writing doesn’t usually come easy to me, but I find it incredibly rewarding. Despite all of these things, I just don’t make the time for myself to write. Well, no more!
I want to use this blog to hold myself accountable for my reading challenges, so why not use it to create some accountability for my writing too?
I will be posting Wordbound posts as often as I can (hopefully every week, but no promises).
For the first prompt, my writing goals for 2017:

  • Write in my journal at least once a week. I’ve had the same journal since 2009 and this is going to be the year I finally finish it. I love journaling, but I haven’t been keeping up with it over the past couple of years. It’s great practice for writing, and it also gives me a record of stuff I do, people I see, and things that are important to me.
  • Keep up with posting on this blog for the rest of the year. I’ve had a lot of unfinished attempts at blogging or video blogging, but this is going to be the one that sticks!
  • Complete a creative writing project. There are a handful of story beginnings floating around on my computer. At least one of them is going to get a middle and an ending.
I think 3 is a reasonable number of goals to set, so part 2 – what does #wordbound mean to me?
I love the thought that we are bound to our words, but I’m going to add a new meaning. For me, #wordbound also means that I am bound to need my words. At some point in the future, I am going to need to write a lot more than I do now, and I will likely be mentoring younger writers. Granted, it will be scientific writing, but writing is writing and the more you do anything, the better you get.
So here’s to getting better!