Pre-Orders – Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2018

Well, due to Amazon’s pushy nature and possibly psychic ability to guess what I would like to read, I’ve decided to do a “Look What’s Coming” and tell you some of the books I’m SERIOUSLY considering putting on pre-order this year! 🙂

City of Ghosts (Victoria Schwab) Release Date: August 28, 2018

cityofghostsDescription from GoodreadsCassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one. When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself. 

Why I Want to Read It: Sounds pretty cool, right? I love supernatural stories and this one seems really interesting. It actually sounds similar to a book I read a couple years ago, Past Midnight, and I really enjoyed that one, so it will be interesting to compare the two.

Grim Lovelies (Megan Shepherd) Release Date: October 2, 2018

grimloveliesDescription from GoodreadsAnouk’s human form is tied to her mistress’ dark magic after being enchanted by an animal. She’s never stepped outside of Mada Vittoria’s Parisian townhouse, but when her mistress is murdered, Anouk and her fellow beasties only have three days before the spell fades and they turn back into animals forever. In a desperate attempt to save themselves, they venture into the outside world and discover a well-kept secret.

Why I Want to Read It: I love stories that incorporate fairy tales (or at least fairy tale creatures), so this one sounds really neat. It also has 4.5 stars on Goodreads from people who got to read the ARC, which is an INSANELY good rating. Definitely giving this book a try!

My Plain Jane – The Lady Janies #2 (Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton) Release Date: June 26, 2018

myplainjaneDescription from GoodreadsYou may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!) …or does she? Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights

Why I Want to Read It: I know, not my kind of book, right? But I forced myself to read My Lady Jane last year and it was pretty good. Yes, there was romance, but there was also a lot of humor and daring-do. And with the plethora of bibliophiles who seem almost offended that I haven’t read Jane Eyre, I figure I’ll give this one a go too.

Muse of Nightmares – Strange the Dreamer #2 (Laini Taylor)

museofnightmaresDescription from Goodreads: In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep. Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice–save the woman he loves, or everyone else?–while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Why I Want to Read It: AAAHHHHH!!!! CAN’T WAIT!!!! The previous book, Strange the Dreamer, was one of the few books that I completely fell in love with last year (or ever). In fact, I loved it so much that I talked my Mom into gifting me a signed first edition from the UK for my birthday! 😀 Not many books make me squee, but seeing this one FINALLY showing a release date totally did!!!

How about you? What books are you looking forward to this year?

Pastiche vs. Fanfiction

Can you believe that I am 35 years old, have a BA in English, and had never heard the word ‘pastiche’ until a month ago?!? Fanfic, on the other hand…I’ve been a lover of fanfic since I discovered it at age 12 (when we finally got a computer, lol) and stumbled across my first fanfic online (Questies represent!).

From what I can tell, Pastiche vs Fanfiction is a matter of “a penny is a coin, but a coin isn’t necessarily a penny”. A pastiche IS fanfiction, but of a certain type: it must attempt to mimic the writing style and flair of the original works (it’s also usually published, but that’s more of a class difference rather than a writing difference, so I’m discounting it).

For example: Lyndsay Faye, a well-known Sherlock Homes pastiche writer, has put out several books, including her debut Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson. This book follows not only the tone of the originals, but the style, presenting itself as an original work by Dr. Watson and mimicking the writing of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Whereas: Many of my favorite Sherlock Holmes fanfictions are based more on the television shows/movies rather than the original stories (and let’s not even attempt to figure out if a fanfic based on a tv show based on a book still counts as a pastiche!). The stories tend to present with a viewer’s POV, which can include snippets from the criminals/victims lives that the boys would have no way of knowing about. Almost none of them follow the original style, with Dr. Watson narrating the events, or are even set in the appropriate time frame. Many of them don’t even feature cases, but are more “slice of life” stories.

None of this is to say that one is necessarily “better” than the other. I love both types of work equally. It’s true that most published pastiches will have a higher quality of writing, but that’s true of any “published” vs “non-published” work and I have always been willing to admit that I’ve read some fanfiction that was better than the books they were based on (including Harry Potter, which is huge coming from me). The value is in the story; if it is a good story then it is a worthy story, regardless of it’s origins.

Pastiches For You to Try

Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes (Loren D. Estleman)

Hardy Boys: The House on the Point: A Tribute to Franklin W. Dixon & The Hardy Boys (Benjamin Hoff)

Gone with the Wind: Scarlett (Alexandra Ripley)

Multiple Authors: The British Museum is Falling Down (David Lodge)

I’m sure I’m missing some nuances in defining the two; there seems to be a lot of debate over whether or not certain books would be considered a pastiche, an homage, or fanfiction. Honestly I think people sometimes make things TOO complicated, so this is my simple definition. Feel free to add your take on the debate in the comments. 🙂

Booksgiving 2018

Three years ago, Jenny Lawson (one of my favorite authors) started a new tradition. She wanted to send a few copies of her book to fans who needed a pick-me-up. When she posted about it on her blog, a ton of her readers thought it was a brilliant idea and wanted to help send books to those who needed them. Thus Booksgiving was born.

This year is the Third Annual Booksgiving. To participate, all you have to do is create a wishlist on Amazon with the one book you’ve been wanting for a while and post a link to it in the comments (make sure you attach your shipping address to your wishlist!!!). Then you scroll through the comments and pick someone else to send a book to (if you have the funds at the moment; sending is NOT required, just encouraged).

I’ve already had my wishlist book purchased and now a copy of Keeper of the Lost Things by Ruth Hogan is winging it’s way to my house. (Thanks Bookgiver!!! 🙂 ) I myself purchased a book for a teacher in an inner-city school who wrote that she is looking for books for her students; inspiring books that will help increase their sense of self-worth.

This is a wonderful tradition and I hope to keep participating in the future. Knowing that I share the love of reading with so many people is amazing and hopefully the book I donated will bring a some light into at least one child’s life.

I highly recommend you get on the bandwagon and share in the joy. What a great day! 🙂

Sweeping The Shelves #1

Hello all and welcome to the first installment of Sweeping The Shelves!

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve decided to clean up my shelves a bit this year by picking 5 random books that I own but haven’t read, posting about them here, and then deciding whether to keep or donate them.

Let’s get started…

Death Wishing (Laura Ellen Scott)

deathwishingDescription from Goodreads: What if your most fervent wish could come true, and all you had to do was…die first. Recovering from a bitter divorce, middle-aged Victor Swaim wants nothing more than to live a carefree, drunken existence in New Orleans, making capes and corsets, and lusting for Pebbles, the girl who lives across the street.

But, after a series of deathbed wishes come true—including the curing of cancer, the elimination of cats, the return of Elvis (1967 vintage), the clouds turning orange, mothers growing third eyes and cups of coffee becoming bottomless—the hysteria that grows around “Death Wishing” forces Victor into action. Along with his entrepreneurial son Val and his libertine friend Martine, Victor must battle the apocalyptics who have seduced Pebbles away from her true vocation of singing the blues (very badly) while at the same time confronting his mortal identity: just what would he wish for the world without him in it?

Final Verdict: I NEED to read this one. I picked it up at a book event directly from the author herself and it sounds REALLY interesting. – KEEP

Escape From Wolfhaven Castle – The Impossible Quest #1 (Kate Forsyth)

escapefromwolfhavencastleDescription from Goodreads: Wolfhaven Castle has been attacked, and only four escape capture… Tom, trained to scrub pots, not fight; Elanor, the lord’s daughter; Sebastian, a knight in training; and Quinn, the witch’s apprentice.

Somehow, if they are to save their people, these unlikely heroes must find four magical beasts from legend and awaken the sleeping warriors of the past. But first, they have to make it out of the castle alive… 

Final Verdict: I literally JUST bought this one about a month ago and it’s pretty short, so I’m going to keep it and then donate it after I’ve read it. – KEEP

The King’s Gambit – SPQR #1 (John Maddox Roberts)

spqr1Description from Goodreads: In this Edgar Award nominated mystery, John Maddox Roberts takes readers back to a Rome filled with violence and evil. Vicious gangs ruled the streets of Crassus and Pompey, routinely preying on plebeian and patrician alike. So the garroting of a lowly ex-slave and the disembowelment of a foreign merchant in the dangerous Subura district seemed of little consequence to the Roman hierarchy. But Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger, high-born commander of the local vigiles, was determined to investigate. Despite official apathy, brazen bribes and sinister threats, Decius uncovers a world of corruption at the highest levels of his government that threatens to destroy him and the government he serves. Set in 70 B.C.

Final Verdict: Debating this one. I really like historical mystery novels, but this one sounds a bit gory. Since it has decent reviews, I might give it a go for a few chapters and see what it’s like. – KEEP (FOR NOW)

Murder Walks the Plank – Death on Demand Mysteries #15 (Carolyn Hart)

murderwalkstheplankDescription from GoodreadsIt’s “Corpse ahoy!” when death takes a pleasure cruise — as we set sail once more with that incomparable, crime-solving duo, the Darlings. Annie Darling, popular proprietress of the Death on Demand bookstore, has done it again! Her murder-mystery cruise in the waters off her not-always-idyllic isle of Broward’s Rock is sure to be a roaring success, with every participant dressing up as a favorite fictional sleuth. And sure enough, everything goes swimmingly — until one of the revelers plunges overboard. And despite hubby Max Darling’s courageous rescue attempt, faux murder turns all too quickly into real-life death. Over the next few days, the body count rises and Annie strongly suspects that all the victims were murdered most foully and that they are all connected in some unknown way. The trick now will be to prove it, with the able assistance of investigator-spouse Max, best friend and best customer Henny Brawley, local bestselling superstar Emma Lloyd, and even (surprise!) Annie’s normally ditsy mother-in-law, Laurel. But what the intrepid crime solvers do not realize is that the killer they seek is more ingeniously efficient than most — and the puzzle they wish to solve is, in reality, a time bomb packed with an explosive mix of arson, assault, kidnapping, robbery . . . and homicide, of course. One false step and Annie and her canny cohorts will be blown off Broward’s Rock for good . . . and they’ll sink like stones into the cold, briny deep.

Final Verdict: Wait, this is Book #15? See, this is what happens when you binge buy at rummage sales, lol! My library apparently has most of this series, so even though it sounds fun, I think I’m going to go ahead and donate this book to the mission. That way I can start at the actual beginning. 😉 – DONATE

What Angels Fear – A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery #1 (C.S. Harris)

whatangelsfearDescription from GoodreadsIt’s 1811, and the threat of revolution haunts the upper classes of King George III’s England. Then a beautiful young woman is found raped and savagely murdered on the altar steps of an ancient church near Westminster Abbey. A dueling pistol discovered at the scene and the damning testimony of a witness both point to one man, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, a brilliant young nobleman shattered by his experience in the Napoleonic Wars.

Now a fugitive running for his life, Sebastian calls upon his skill as an agent during the war to catch the killer and prove his own innocence. In the process, he accumulates a band of unlikely allies, including the enigmatic beauty Kat Boleyn, who broke Sebastian’s heart years ago. In Sebastian’s world of intrigue and espionage, nothing is as it seems, yet the truth may hold the key to the future of the British monarchy, as well as to Sebastian’s own salvation….

Final Verdict: This one was actually recommended to me, so I should give it a try. Fingers crossed. – KEEP

Today’s Count: Keep = 4, Donate = 1

Overall Count: Keep = 4, Donate = 1

2018 Reading Challenges

Hi all! I hope you all had a happy holiday season!

I’m getting all prepped for the upcoming year and have decided on my new reading challenges! This year I’ll be combining two challenges in the hopes of whittling down some of my TBR shelves.

Challenge #1: Sweeping the Shelves


For the first challenge, I’ve decided to tweak Lia’s Down the Rabbit Hole challenge a bit and clean up my real world bookshelves instead of my Goodreads lists. So starting after New Years, I will instituting “Sweeping the Shelves”. This will be a weekly post that talks about a handful of books that I own but haven’t read. I will list them, with descriptions, and then decide if I want to keep them or donate them.

Challenge #2: 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge

I’ve been doing the PopSugar Challenge since 2015 and this year will be no exception. I am planning on tweaking it a bit too, though. I’m going to try to read only books I already own or can get for free from the library or internet. This should help me clean up my shelves as well, as I plan to donate most of the books I read that were owned by me to either the library or the mission, depending on their condition. I’m also going to let myself branch out from the list a bit. This year I managed to read 76 books, but only about 40 of those matched up with the PopSugar list. I’m going to attempt to stick a little better to the list this year, but I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t finish it.

So those are my two reading challenges for this year. I think they should work fairly well together, with Sweeping the Shelves helping me to decide what to read for the PopSugar Challenge. And hopefully it’ll help me clear out the books I’m probably never going to read to make shelf space for some fun new books in 2019!

How about you guys? Did you do any reading challenges this year? Are you planning any for 2018?

Mini-Reviews – “The Gateway Drug to Literacy”

Hi all! Now, if you’ve ever heard the above Art Spiegelman quote, then you have an inkling of what we’re talking about today….that’s right! Comics!

More specifically, I will be introducing you to six of my favorite Webcomics. All the titles are links to the first comic, in case you’d like to check them out. 🙂

Unshelved (Gene Ambaum & Bill Barnes)

12-12-2017 1-45-51 PMUnshelved is about a librarian named Dewey (yes, the pun IS intentional 😉 ). It’s a fun look at the ins and outs of daily library life. I will admit that since I’ve worked in a library, this might be more funny for me than the average person, but if you are reading this blog, odds are you’ve spent a fair share of time in a library yourself, so I think most of you will enjoy it too. 😉

Gunnerkrigg Court (Tom Siddell)


Gunnerkrigg Court is part mystery, part creepy fantasy, and part boarding school tale. I’m not super far into it yet, but so far we’ve had demon-y shadow things, robots, creepy teachers, and a Minotaur. Color me intrigued.

Weregeek (Alina Pete & Layne Myhre)

weregeekWeregeek is about a guy named Mark, who discovers that he is a geek after he “geeks out” and ends up in a comic book store, which leads to him joining a role-playing group. It makes more sense in the strip, lol.

Being somewhat of a voyeur when it comes to RPGs (I am TERRIBLE at playing myself, but love to watch), I really enjoy this comic. It’s fun seeing what the group gets up to in their games. There IS some romance and what not as well, but I enjoy it most for the geeky stuff. 😉

Order of the Stick (Rich Burlew)

12-12-2017 1-19-42 PM

Order if the Stick is basically a D&D party drawn as mostly stick figures. They go on epic adventures, fight lots of monsters and other baddies, save the day (sometimes), and get themselves into trouble. It’s great fun.

Rice Boy (Evan Dahm)

12-12-2017 2-00-51 PMRice Boy is…hard to describe. I’m not all the way through it yet, so I can only really say that it’s about a little guy named Rice Boy who goes on an adventure in order to fulfill a prophecy. He’s recruited by The One Electric, who is a man with a TV for a head. And is chased by a robot named Golgo. It’s odd, but interesting.

And my favorite:

Questionable Content (Jeph Jacques)

Ah, Questionable Content, how I love thee. And how I need to get caught up! Goodness. I went to the site to get the link for you all and didn’t recognize ANY of the characters in today’s comic! ::shakes finger at face:: “Bad Jessica!”


Ahem…anyway…QC is about a group of friends who live in Rhode Island. The author calls it “an internet comic strip about romance and robots”, which is true, though there is a lot more going on than just romance and robots. It’s mainly about the ups and downs of life and how you can always count on your friends…but its WAY funnier than I’m making it sound. I mean…


Seriously, I recommend this webcomic to everyone. It doesn’t have a whole lot of action, but the writing is great and the artist has really evolved since the beginning.

Also, because Hannelore…


Note: This list is pretty much all the comics I read that have a story line (even if it isn’t initially obvious), but I also read quite a few strip versions that I didn’t include because the post was getting REALLY long. Here are a handful that you might like to check out: Sarah’s Scribbles, The Awkward Yeti, The Oatmeal, Hyperbole & a Half, Cyanide & Happiness, and xkcd.

What are some of YOUR favorite webcomics?

T5W – You’re A Mean One…

Hello all! Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Bookish Things You’re a Grinch About

Hmm..bookish pet peeves, eh? I’ve got quite a few of those. ::rubs hands menacingly::

Movie Covers

Look, I understand the concept: once a book is made into a movie, a lot of people will think of it as “the book of that movie I like”, so why not market to those people to try to sell more copies, right? It’s just SO IRRITATING. Especially when you are only halfway through the series and the publisher switches to ONLY movie covers, so your series is half of one and half of the other.

Defacing Books

Having recently rediscovered my love of the library, I run into this ALL THE TIME. Dog-eared pages, notes scrawled in the margins, underlines, covers that have been folded back so far that I don’t understand how the spine still works! It’s really annoying. If it’s your own personal copy, fine, do what you want to it. But if it’s a library book or, heaven forbid, a book I lent to you…remember the golden rule of ‘borrowing’: leave it better than you found it.

Jumping POVs

I get it, you want to show the story from everyone’s point of view, right? Change things up, keep the reader on their toes. Help the reader understand all the characters better. Fine, but at least keep it to only two or three characters. Don’t jump between fifteen people. Don’t make EVERY chapter a new person. And, for goodness’ sake, LABEL THE FRICKIN’ POVS!!!!!

Distracted Women

So, I know this happens (occasionally) with male characters too, but the amount of female characters I’ve seen get distracted from whatever they are supposed to be accomplishing because some hot guy showed up is INSANE. Trying to figure out who murdered your best friend? “I wonder if that hot detective is single?” Trying to save the universe? “This might be the last time I see you, person I just met, so we should totally hook up. The universe can wait.” It’s completely ridiculous. Maybe focus on the task at hand and worry about your love life later.

Which leads me to…


About a year ago, I tasked one of my reading groups with a challenge: “Please suggest to me a book that: 1) has a female main character, 2) is Adult/Young Adult reading level, and 3) HAS ZERO ROMANCE IN IT. No hook-ups, no longing glances, no sexual tension, NOTHING.” Do you know how many responses I got that followed all the criteria? ONE. Out of over a HUNDRED people. Why on earth does every single story have to have romance in it? Why do I have to hit up the children’s section at my library to find a book without it? Is romance really that permeating in every day life, that I can name on one hand the number of adult books I’ve found without it?

So how about you? What are some of YOUR bookish pet peeves?