I’m teaching a free workshop on “Writing For Beginners” as part of Spring Into Books this Saturday, May 28th. This is a free public event you won’t want to miss.
This is a great event geared toward readers with extra fun things for writers, too. The main area will feature TONS of local authors with books to sell who love to talk to (and find new) readers. Family friendly with a children’s carnival and activities. If you’re a writer, there are workshops being taught all day – also free. I will have copies of both of my books available and would love to talk to anyone who loves to read.
I’m teaching at 3:45pm upstairs. If you’re local to the Salt Lake area, I hope to see you there!
Time for the yearly round up and archive of my efforts to remain a well-read person. This year I did not reach my goal but I did read a lot of really great books. Here they are, all summed up, for your reading pleasure. And in reverse chronological order because my OCD did not win that fight – this time.
- The Innocent, Harlan Coben (Book Club) – a light yet entertaining whodunit perfect for the beach or a long weekend. The ending was satisfying although pieces of the story were a tad predictable.
- The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt – one of the best books I read all year which definitely lived up to all the hype I had heard about it. There are very bleak elements that leave you feeling grateful for the life you have since they are painted so authentically through the characters. A truly phenomenal book that everyone should read!
- The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Laroux (Book Club) – a classic that I hadn’t read. I probably would have put it down had it not been a book club pick. I just can’t get into period pieces that old but still I’m glad I read it.
- The Good Girl, Mary Kubica – also a good read but only because of how it was written. I found myself trying to solve the mystery of “before or after WHAT” all the way through. The ending was very satisfying. A great read for anyone who likes a whodunit.
- The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins – one of the best reads of the year. Finally a smart, adult novel with twists I didn’t see coming and characters with real depth. It kept me guessing to the end and I recommend it now to everyone who asks.
- Birthmarked, Caragh M. O’Brien (Book Club) – a light and easy read that left me wanting far more details than were given since it was written for the superficial YA market who doesn’t demand it. Such a shame!
- All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr – had so much potential but, just like most novels set in the WWII era, left me feeling bleak and unfulfilled. I think it’s safe to say this is not one of my favorite genres.
- The Fold, Peter Clines – I picked this up because I recognized the author’s name from the best scifi book I’d read the last year or so. Little did I know it was a continuation of that story which had stuck with me so much. Very enjoyable read!
- The Paper Magician, Charlie N. Holmberg – I disliked this book so much. It was very clearly written for a YA audience who cannot think critically for themselves. The concepts were intriguing but not enough detail was given for anything to be plausible and the whole thing left me feeling insulted. My daughter probably would have liked it when she was eleven. To be fair, that’s probably the intended market so there’s that.
- Warbreaker, Brandon Sanderson – a great stand-alone read from the master of epic fantasy. He is still one of my all-time favorite authors.
- Mao’s Last Dancer, Li Cunxin (Book Club) – it was interesting to see how poor Chinese live but the book overall was not a very compelling one.
- Mr Mercedes, Stephen King – a good old horror novel by one of my favorite authors.
- Being Mortal, Atul Gawande – a fantastic book about living on our own terms and dying the same way. Every person everywhere should read this book. I expected it to be a social commentary about the current hot topic of Physician Assisted Suicide or The Right to Die which I was also expected to hate. What I got instead was one of the best books about one of the hardest topics any of us will ever face. I wish I’d read this book before my Mom passed away…
- Celeste, The Unseen #2, Johnny Worthen (ARC) – the much anticipated sequel to Eleanor which did not disappoint. Except for the fact that the third is not released yet and so I must wait.
- The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2), Patrick Rothfuss – a much anticipated sequel that fell short for me and felt disappointingly like a setup book for the third one.
- Altered Perceptions, short stories to benefit mental health – I bought this as part of a crowd fund campaign to benefit a local author suffering with a mental health disorder. It is a collection of well-known authors with either deleted scenes or unpublished works. I got it for the Brandon Sanderson early draft of The Way of Kings. And THEN…. It was by far one of the BEST books I’ve read in a long time. Not because of the stories themselves, but because every author included a personal essay about how mental health had touched their lives in some way. Every person everywhere should read this book! Better yet, they should just publish the author essays and that is what everyone should read. Seriously, go read this book.
- The Brand Demand, Johnny Worthen – FABULOUS social satire set in Salt Lake City so it felt like all the politics and struggles were real. One of my favorite books of the year.
- Bog Child, Siobhan Dowd (Book Club) – a novel set around the time of the IRA in Ireland with some interesting facts about archaeology.
- ITIL Service Strategy – a brutal course but I passed the exam and am now certified!
- The Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman (Book Club) – an interesting novelization of ancient Christianity with strong female characters. I wanted to hate it but it was a good read.
- The Archangel Agenda, A.K. Alexander & Jen Greyson – this was a light and semi-steamy read but felt like a serialized novel where just the first act of the story was included and you had to buy the second (and probably third) to get the entire story. Apparently that’s the “in” thing now for Kindle readers?
- Cutting For Stone, Abraham Verghese (Book Club) – a very slow burn but a fantastic read with a killer ending.
- Firefight, Brandon Sanderson – much anticipated sequel to Steelheart which Hubby and I both loved.
- Pretty Things, Christine Haggerty – a novella retelling of a Grimm Fairytale. I’m not a huge fan of the fairy tale but this was not a bad read. Not as Grimm or as dark as I had anticipated and it was very short.
It was disappointing to count and realize I only finished twenty four books of the forty total I set out to read this year. That’s an average of two books a month which is better than years past when I struggled just to finish the book club pick each month. I consume most of my books on Audible which means this small list represents the amount of time I had over the year where it was possible to multi-task. Because of that, it still feels like an overall accomplishment for the year. Here’s to bettering it next year!
It’s New Year’s Day – time for reflection and putting away Christmas decorations. It has become tradition to capture my yearly list of books I’ve read from the site and archive them as a blog post with a little insight about each one. Long gone are the days I had time (or energy) to review every one as separate posts. However, if you’re on Goodreads, friend me up since I give at least a little blurb and a rating there when I finish reading. Here’s my efforts this year to
become remain a well-read author.
- The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor (work book club) – Self-help is not my favorite genre but this one was fabulous and just what I needed at the time. It even influenced my January blogging.
- These Is My Words, Nancy E. Turner (book club)
- Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell – the movie was better. Rarely is this true, but this time it is.
- The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson – rocked my epic fantasy world like nothing else since Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.
- Wild, Cheryl Strayed – a great read and another surprise since I rarely like memoirs
- A Prisoner of Birth, Jeffrey Archer (book club)
- Beatrysel, Johnny Worthen – one of the best books I read this year. Mostly because it was dark and unique and spoke to me deep down in my core like nothing before it. (Caution: Not for the faint of heart!)
- Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson – more than hooked on this author and this series especially. I devoured it!
- In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer, Irene Gut Opdyke (book club)
- The Colony: Genesis, Michaelbrent Collings (not my favorite this year!)
- Eleanor, Johnny Worthen (ARC*) – seriously, if you haven’t read this book go get a copy right now. Kids and adults and everyone in between will love this one. Johnny won Utah’s Writer of the Year for this book and it was deserving.
- NOS4A2, Joe Hill – fabulous horror book like Stephen King used to write.
- The Circle, Dave Eggers – (work book club)
- The Tipping Point, Malcome Gladwell (work book club)
- Monster Hunter International, Larry Correia – great military fiction with a supernatural twist
- Heft, Liz Moore (book club) – one of the best we read this year.
- Copper Descent (ARC*), Angela Hartley – one of my first blog tour posts
- The Shining, Stephen King – I read this as a kid and wanted a re-read before the sequel. Not as frightening the second time around.
- Doctor Sleep, Stephen King – changed the way I look at a mundane piece of the world. Still the master!
- Second Firsts, Christina Rasmussen – (book club) – great read about dealing with loss. It was amazing to help deal with the loss of my health at the time. Little did I know I’d need it on such a deeper level later.
- ITIL Service Operation – technical manual for a certification. Not a light or very enjoyable read, but necessary. I lament all the great fiction I could have read instead!
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (my pick for book club) Amazing, amazing. I love Gaiman!
- Monster Hunter Vendetta, Larry Correia – guilty pleasure via Audible
- Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell – great read if you’re a writer
- Call the Midwife, Jennifer Worth (book club)
- Divergent, Veronica Roth (book club) – I wanted to hate it after seeing the movie but it was better and I didn’t.
- The Colony: Renegades, Michaelbrent Collings – got a free copy on Audible and hoped the sequel was better. It wasn’t.
- The End of Dieting, Joel Fuhrman – the book my doctor told me to read when embarking on veganism
- Suspect, Robert Crais – recommended author to study on writing action which did not disappoint
- Mitosis, Brandon Sanderson – more like a short story but I had to buy it so it counts!
- Heart of Annihilation, C.R. Asay – (book club) another blog tour visitor (written by my writing group buddy)
- The Giver, Lois Lowry – my oldest had to read it and kept talking about it and the movie was coming out so…
- How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie (book club)
- ITIL Continual Service Improvement – another technical manual and certification that took far too much time away from “real” reading. But I passed!
- The Martian, Andy Weir – best science fiction of the year that I happened to just stumble upon on Audible.
- The Fault In Our Stars, John Green – did not live up to the hype!
- Revival, Stephen King
- Insurgent, Veronica Roth
- Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler – great stories and a great behind-the-scenes look on the writing process of successful authors.
I have a rule that life is too short to waste time on books I don’t like after a few chapters. This list does not include two books I put down only partially read this year. One of them being Outlander, yes the same one everyone raves about and that they made a television series about. The other was some drivel that I don’t even remember the title of. Given all the time outside of work it took me to obtain two new professional certifications this year, I got a ton of great reading in. Can’t wait to do it all again in 2015! Happy reading to all my fellow readers out there.
*ARC = Advanced Reader Copy in the publishing world. Which means I got to read it before it was available to the public. Always a fabulous thing for an impatient woman like me!