2020 Reading Challenges

A week into January, it must be time (past it, in fact!) to talk about my reading goals for the new year.  Firstly, I’ve been reading less the last couple of years than I used to, so my first goal is simply to read more this year.  I’m setting a goal of 125 books (print or audio).  That’s a jump from the last two years, when I read about 100 books each year, but much lower than when I used to clock in around 200.  I’m hoping it will help motivate me to take the time to read more.

Now onto the specific challenges…

The Phantom of the Opera Reading & Viewing Challenge
Host: Tales of the Marvelous
Goal: Lon Chaney Level

First and foremost, I am hosting a challenge this year, focusing on the many versions of the Phantom of the Opera, seeing as my own version is coming out in the second half of the year.  I’m targeting the second level for myself, the Lon Chaney Level.  I’d like to reread Susan Kay, rewatch Webber’s 25th anniversary play, and perhaps rewatch Lon Chaney.  That would put me on track for one version of each type (book, play, movie), though I’d also like to seek out some new book retellings too.  We’ll see how the year goes–and you can of course still sign up for this challenge too!

Diversity  Reading Challenge
Host: Celebrity Readers
Goal: 18 Books

More diverse reading seems to be my perennial goal; this will be my fourth or fifth time with this challenge.  I’m pleased to have found a hosted challenge I like this year, over at Celebrity Readers.  I’m not doing the mini-challenge, with a monthly theme, but I like the overall challenge.

Tackle My TBR Reading Challenge
Host: Kimberly Faye Reads
Goal: 34 books

I’ve been keeping a running “To Be Read” list in my phone for, I don’t know, a few years now?  The thing is, I very rarely actually hunt up a book from the list and read it!  So I decided to set that goal for this year, to start reading at least some of that list.  To make it easier, I transferred the whole thing over to Goodreads, so that when I’m staring at a title I don’t even recognize, I can easily click into a plot summary and possibly figure out why I added the book to begin with (and get excited about reading it!)  I currently have 68 books on the list, so my goal is to read 34 books, half of the total–though probably more will be added to the list as the year goes on!  I’m joining the Tackle My TBR Reading Challenge, and my goal puts me in the First Down Level.

Those are all my goals for this year – more on quantity than specific focus, which is a bit different than usual.  We’ll see how that turns out!

Do you have reading goals for the year?  I’d love to hear about them!

Spirit Sunday: You have failings, but…

2019 Reading Round-Up

It’s the beginning of 2020, so that means it time to look back at the best, the worst and the sometimes weird of my 2019 reading. I always enjoy looking back and invariably discovering I read more really good books than I think.  January books seem very, very long ago, and I like the reminder.

1) Best of…
I’ve been splitting my “Best of” books for the past several years, so that I can highlight the ones that were best in very specific ways.

1A) Best Premise: Every Day by David Levithan – I was so intrigued by the concept of a lead character who enters a new body every day, and I really enjoyed how it was explored in this first book.  The rest of the trilogy was more mixed, but I still found that premise so fascinating.

1B) Best World Building: Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery – It might be odd to give this one to a book that isn’t sci fi or fantasy; it’s also the only re-read on the list, but I just loved the way Montgomery described the world of Lantern Hill and the people there.

1C) Best Romance: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn – This was an adorable, delightful romance with a young adult couple who used words and were honest about their feelings.  Also, I never particularly liked mochi, the Japanese dessert, until I read this book and she made it sound so good!

1D) Best Hero(ines): Heroine Complex and Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn – Sarah Kuhn is clearly my new star author, because I also thoroughly enjoyed her superheroine series.  Besides Evie and Aveda as awesome lead characters, they’re surrounded by a whole lot of other cool women doing interesting things.  I loved that. Continue reading “2019 Reading Round-Up”

2019 Reading Challenges: Final Results

Happy 2020!  The start of a new year means looking back at 2019’s reading, to see how I did on my reading challenges.  I read a total 105 books this year, similar to last year, lower than some of my previous, far more reading-extensive years.  Let’s see where those books fell in my reading challenge categories…

Nonfiction Reading Challenge
Host: Doing Dewey
Goal: 12 Nonfiction Books/At least one book for each “century” of the Dewey Decimal system

I completed my goals for this challenge by last October, but I continued reading a handful of nonfiction books in the last quarter of the year.  I far exceeded my goal number, so apparently my total reading is down compared to earlier years, but nonfiction is up.

  1. We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee (590.73)
  2. Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb (158.1)
  3. Through Lover’s Lane by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly (813.52)
  4. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (571.09)
  5. Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence (028.9)
  6. Love for Imperfect Things by Haemin Sunim (294.35)
  7. The Creative Life by Julia Cameron (818.54)
  8. Do Nothing by Siroj Sorajjakool (299.51)
  9. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (153.35)
  10. It’s Better Than It Looks by Gregg Easterbrook (306.09)
  11. Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin
  12. A Week at the Airport by Alain de Botton (387.73)
  13. Growing Up Again by Mary Tyler Moore (362.19)
  14. The Prodigal Tongue by Lynne Murphy (428.00)
  15. 30 Before 30 by Marina Shifrin (650.10)
  16. Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin (974.7)
  17. Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom (910.40)
  18. I’ll Have What She’s Having by Rebecca Harrington (791.43)
  19. Quit Like a Millionaire by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung
  20. Living a Life That Matters by Harold S. Kushner (296.36)
  21. There Are No Grown-ups by Pamela Druckerman (305.24)
  22. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman (155.23)
  23. Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain by Elaine Fox (155.2)
  24. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky (647.94)
  25. I Know Just What You Mean by Ellen Goodman and Patricia O’Brien (158.25)
  26. Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle by David Stashower (823.8)
  27. What Was I Thinking? 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories edited by Barbara Davilman and Liz Dubelman (306.70)
  28. The Dharma of the Princess Bride by Ethan Nichtern (791.43)

Continue reading “2019 Reading Challenges: Final Results”

Spirit Sunday: When you die…

Friday Face-Off: Sparkles Abound


It’s time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: the festive season – a cover that is glittery or sparkling

With a prompt like that, I can’t resist sharing the covers from two of my recent releases!  Sparkles actually form a key part of the plot in The Servants and the Beast, as part of the fairy’s curse is an accumulation of sparkles gradually filling the Beast’s castle.  They even had to close one wing because it was so filled with sparkles!

Here’s the audiobook cover – which was just out this week!

Servants is a collaboratively-written novella with four other writers, but one continuous story.  We collaborated again recently to write After the Sparkles Settled, a Christmas epilogue to the story, also out this past week.  I designed the cover, modeled after the original, though less sparkly…

These were very fun stories to write, so it’s fun to have a chance to share the sparkly covers!

Writing Wednesday: A Little Holiday Reading

Happy holidays!  I hope you’re all enjoying a nice day of fun and festivities.  Just in case you’d like to spend a quiet evening reading, don’t forget that my writing partners and I released a Christmas short story on Monday!  An epilogue to The Servants and the Beast, I of course recommend both as fun, heartwarming, fairy tale-inspired stories.

I’m still working on my non-fiction revision tips book, so for the holidays I thought I’d offer a throw-back excerpt.  Enjoy this snippet from Book Two of my Guardian of the Opera trilogy, as the prospect of Christmas sends the Phantom into something of a panic…


Near the beginning of December, Erik found himself with a problem that he couldn’t bring to Meg.  The weight of it got heavier and heavier until finally it drove him to seek the Daroga out—not as a good source of aid, but as the only one available.  And after all, things had been…relatively pleasant, the last time they spoke.

He arrived at the Daroga’s small apartment in the early twilight, just as the sun was setting.  He only ever went out in the dusky hours, when the shadows were deep, even if he knew they still failed to hide his mask, failed to conceal him in his dark cloak.  It still felt a little less alarming that way.

The Daroga invited him in courteously and with less surprise evident than was probably present.  Erik had never been here before, though he had known for years where the Daroga lived.  It was the kind of information he had felt he should have in reserve.

They passed a few moments in small talk, sitting in the parlor, before the inevitable question arose.  “So tell me, to what do I owe the honor of this most unusual visit?”

Erik hesitated, tapping his fingers against his knee.  “I need your advice.”  He took a deep breath.  “I don’t know what to do about Christmas.”

“I believe midnight mass and a tree are customary,” the Daroga said dryly.  “Based purely on observation of your Christian revelries, of course.”

“No, I don’t mean that,” Erik said with a wave of one hand.  “I mean…about Meg.  I don’t know if I should get her a gift or not.”  He had remarked on it in an off-hand way when the Daroga had visited, and the idea had burrowed into his mind, with accompanying doubts.

Continue reading “Writing Wednesday: A Little Holiday Reading”