Saturday, June 24, 2017

My Eclectic Never-Ending To-Be-Read Pile

I have books, and lots of them.

I have books I save because they have been signed by the author specifically to me.

I have books I love beyond words and they reside on a keeper shelf to save forever.

I have books that are reference books, mostly for writing and inspiration, that I refer back to time and again; they have their own shelf.

Then there are the books I have won, bought and been given as gifts. Those gems are in my to-be-read pile.

Or more like shelf.

Or to be honest - shelves, closets, cupboards and drawers.

Yes, many readers have to-be-read piles - like an actual PILE of books - but I have shelves of to-be-read books, and any place I can store them. The 'to-be-read pile' is a general concept, I know. Many people DO have books waiting to be read on shelves and not in actual piles, but if I kept them in piles, I'd have nowhere to walk on my living room floor.

Some of the books waiting in line to be read are new books (new-releases or used/new to me) and some are cherished copies I have pulled off my keeper-shelf waiting to be re-read.

And no sooner do I make a pact with myself to a/don't buy anymore books until b/I have systematically gone through my to-be-read shelves - and I DO make a barely-there dent in my to-be-read pile - when I 'accidentally' come home with 'a' book or a 'few' books...

It's not that I don't want to read the books I have waiting in the wings, it's just that I'm like a crow - I pick up any shiny new thing I see along the way. I can't help it.

Here are just a few of my books in my to-be-read pile. Some are re-reads I have pulled off my keeper-shelf to re-read, some are new-to-me books. No book is more important than the other - some books in my to-be-read pile are based off mood. I hope this eclectic list of my books waiting to be read (or re-read) inspires you to branch out and get reading!

It's Kind of Funny Story - Ned Vizzini (April 2007)

I saw the movie first, got the book second. But then is - and it's kind of a funny story - I didn't even KNOW about this movie until it happened upon it on Netflix one night AND THEN I didn't even know it was a book first! So what did I do? After loving the movie I raced out to get the book. This has been patiently waiting on my to-be-read pile...must get to it!


Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life-which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job-Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That's when things start to get crazy.

At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he's just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (October 16, 1847)
A classic I was introduced to in English class in high school, I instantly fell in love with everything about it. The era, the style of writing , the characters, the story - all of it. I have read this book countless times over the decades (gasp!) and have many reprinted versions sporting various covers. This classic will always be my fave (I once met a real-life 'rake' whose dog was named Pilot - I swooned. I really did).


Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved?

The Outsiders - S E Hinton (April 24, 1967)
A classic I read in school, got a crush on Dallas and Ponyboy but on the page and on the big screen, this timeless story has me coming back time and again, always on the keeper shelf and never far from my heart.


No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he's got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.

Fearless Writing - William Kenower (May 2017)

I love a good writing reference book, and I know from the blurb this one will help keep me going in my own writing. I just gotten myself out of a writing slump, and I know this will help keep me on track - fearlessly. Writer's get hit with lack of confidence, doubt, insecurity and fear with their writing. I know from the blurb this will help me get on track...


Find the courage to create your best writing life.

Whether you're a fledgling writer or a veteran with years of experience, fearlessness--that elusive blend of self-acceptance, confidence, and curiosity--is the defining quality of those who find fulfillment and success. Truly fearless authors banish writer's blocks with ease, receive critiques gracefully, and infuse their passion for the craft into every word they write.

Filled with insightful wisdom and practical advice, Fearless Writing teaches you how to thrive as a writer, no matter your genre or career path. You'll learn how to:
Find and enter a Flow state in which writing is a natural, deeply satisfying process.
Quiet both internal and external critics and embrace the inherent value in your work.
Use love, emotional engagement, and curiosity as the guiding principles for what you write and how you share it with others.
Overcome rejection, procrastination, and other obstacles that stifle your creativity.

Searching for Beautiful - Nyrae Dawn (March 2014)

I haven't read this before, and I'm very much looking forward to it. I'm a fan of young adult fiction, and I love following rich characters on their journey's of self-discovery, coming of age, and enlightenment. I know from the blurb this will be a good one!


Before it happened…

Brynn had a group of best friends, a boyfriend who loved her, a growing talent for pottery. She had a life. And then…she had none.

After it happened…

Everything was lost. The boy she now knew never loved her. The friends who felt she betrayed their trust. The new life just beginning to grow inside her.

Brynn believes her future is as empty as her body until Christian, the boy next door, starts coming around. Playing his guitar and pushing her to create art once more. She meets some new friends at the local community center, plus even gets her dad to look her in the eye again…sort of. But letting someone in isn't as easy as it seems.


Can Brynn open up her heart to truly find her life's own beauty, when living for the after means letting go of the before?


My collection of books keeps growing, which only proves frustrating as it makes me wish I had more time to read!

And of course, partway through writing this, I made a trip to the bookstore and got some more....

Friday, June 2, 2017

Reading and Writing and Everything in Between...

My time, mind, and body had recently been immersed and nearly swallowed-whole by other endeavours and life events, both good and bad. My reading and writing had suffered. But the distractions, the good and the not so good were, I realize now, needed, teaching me the never-ending lessons of perspective, gratitude, self-awareness, self-confidence, and enlightenment. So as some things have settled but others have accelerated, I’m making/finding/keeping time to read AND write. I never thought I’d say that as for much of my life reading and writing have consumed me, but maybe the break was needed with the benefits yet to be realized.

But despite the distance from the written word – both mine and of others – words were never far from my heart and soul. I’d jot down ideas – concepts, potential book titles, themes and plots. I’d have a book always at hand, and although I wasn’t reading in my usual voracious way, I DID still read, any amount good enough for me at the time.

So here I am, back on track, and with a few books, and magazines, on the go. My notebook, pen and laptop are humming…

And I can WRITE about what I’m READING, which in turn has only made me read more!

What I’m reading:

Write Naked by Jennifer Probst

Never judge a book by its cover.

How true that is. When I first saw ‘Write Naked’ on the shelf I suspected the book would be all about writing romance – and the ‘naked’ side of romance. Wrong. Written by a multi-published, award-winning, list-achieving romance author, this is a ‘what I learned along the way’ book with tips, lessons-learned, and honestly shared ups-and-down. Jennifer’s writing-journey in ‘Write Naked’ has me captivated – not only with her personal, down-to-earth voice, but with helping me get my writing life back on track, and deciphering what I want – and don’t want – to do with my writing. I’m loving every page, and every chapter has me thinking – and getting inspired. I’ve learned to just strip down, get naked, and write from the naked heart – and not to market and what everyone else is doing. The writing market is a fickle one, always changing without warning or reason. At the end of the day, I’ve surmised from the pages, just write and all will work out in the end.

Blurb: Learn how to transform your passion for writing into a career. New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Probst reveals her pathway to success, from struggling as a new writer to signing a seven-figure deal. Write Naked intermingles personal essays on craft with down-to-earth advice on writing romance in the digital age. Probst will teach you how to:
• Commit to your current work-in-progress, get focused, and complete it on schedule
• Reveal raw emotions and thoughts on the page to hook your readers
• Assemble a street team to promote and celebrate your books
• Overcome writer's block with ease
• Develop themes that tie together your books and series
• Write the most difficult elements of romance--including sex scenes--with skill and style
Regardless of the genre, every novelist faces a difficult task. Creating authentic characters and an engaging plot are challenging enough. But attempting to break into the hotter-than-ever romance genre, which is constantly flooded with new titles and fresh faces? It can feel impossible. This is where Probst's Write Naked comes in. To survive--and thrive--you need the help and wisdom of an expert.

Written in Probst's unmistakable and honest voice, Write Naked is filled with the lessons and craft advice every writer needs in order to carve out a rewarding career.

Blood on the Beach by Sarah Harvey and Robin Stevenson

I just started reading Blood on the Beach and I'm hooked! I’m a big young adult fiction reader (and writer) and I love getting down to the nitty-gritty of teen life – the dark, the happy, the coming-of-age, and everything in between. The writing in this contemporary/mystery/thriller written by two multi-published young adult authors is down-to-earth, blunt and honest, cuts to the chase – and most importantly keeps you turning the pages in anticipation. Kids, like adults, get themselves in to trouble and make wrong choices, but it’s how they see themselves out of those wrong decisions, and what they learn, is what matters.

Blurb: Eight teens are dropped off on a remote west-coast island for a week-long treatment program called INTRO (Into Nature to Renew Ourselves). The story is told by two of them: Alice, whose police-officer mother believes Alice might have a substance-abuse problem, and Caleb, who assaulted his abusive stepfather. They are joined by six other miscreants and three staff: a psychologist, a social worker and an ex-cop. On the first night, one of the girls disappears from her cabin. There is a panicked search of the island, but she is nowhere to be found. The adults seem oddly ineffectual in dealing with the crisis—and then the ex-cop gets sick and dies. The radio has been sabotaged, and there is no way to call for help. When the social worker also becomes ill, the kids decide to take matters into their own hands and track down the killer.

Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes! By Phyllis Pellman Good

Yes, you CAN read a cookbook cover to cover! And with 1,400 recipes at that!

I love my crockpot and the abundance of recipes for everything from the down-home to the more adventurous palates is right in this perfect-sized book. Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook has 1,400 simple recipes with ingredients for every budget there is something here for everyone. From beef to chicken to meatless recipes – from desserts to breakfasts to hot drinks – the possibilities are endless. Just put it all in, turn to low or high, set your timer, and go about your day (and get some reading and writing done instead of cooking!). This book is one of my go-to books and I love it.

And it keeps my taller-than-me family of men happily and heartily fed.

Blurb: Finally, all in one handsome volume, the best 1400 slow-cooker recipes!

New York Times bestselling author Phyllis Pellman Good has gathered the biggest collection of tantalizing, best-ever slow-cooker recipes into one great book.

The recipes in this amazing treasure are all—

• Collected from some of America’s best home cooks.
• Tested in real-life settings. Carefully selected from thousands of recipes.
• Eight small “galleries” of full-color photos of delectable slow-cooker dishes from the collection add sparkle throughout the cookbook.
• Absolutely manageable for those who lack confidence in the kitchen.
• Convenient for those who are short on time.
• Will bring a “make-it-again” request from all who are lucky enough to enjoy these tasty dishes.

And what about that never-ending to-be-read pile? See next post....

Thank you for stopping by!