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Whitewavedarling's Winding Path as of 2019

2019 Category Challenge

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Nov 21, 2018, 11:35am Top

This is Quinn. We met her last year on Black Friday—my husband needed a new computer, so we ventured out to shop. When I got overwhelmed by the crowds in Best Buy, I deserted my husband and headed off to look at new dog beds in the Petsmart next store. An hour later, I'd fallen in love with a too-skinny, scared-looking cat whose blurb made it sound like nobody would want her. Four days later, we officially had a fourth cat.

I was see-sawing back and forth over topics for this year, really kind of lost even though I wanted to participate, and then I thought of the strange path that our lives took, and that Quinn's took, in order for her to complete our family (complete for now, anyway!). After a bit more thought, that took me to my own strange career path, and it occurred to me to base this year's challenge off of the strange and varied jobs I've had. They've ranged from the strange to the mundane, and I think they've all part in bringing me to today, so that's what I've settled on.

My hope will be to read 2,019 words in each category, though it'll be just fine with me if a few don't fill up—you'll be able to guess which ones those are as you read. So, here we go…

Edited: Jan 16, 4:55pm Top

Our gray cat, Hart, and our English Coonhound mix, Arthur. Despite what this picture suggests, these guys are both guardians of our little house and family. Arthur hates human visitors (though he loves visiting with humans outside of our house, on the beach and at the pet store, etc.), and barks only when they appear. His influence has gotten us to the point where our Hart (that sweet gray kitty you see there) runs to the door growling when the delivery man appears! Hart patrols the house at night, and Arthur mostly sleeps near the door while my husband's at work (I work from home). They do their best to fuss at all of us to remain on schedule and within their much-loved routines, and herd the rest of us around the house like we're sheep—or, they try. This pic was taken when they were young, in 2013; now, Hart is about 14 pounds, all muscle, and Arthur is about 80 pounds, also all muscle. Both of them are hard to get pictures of, hence me pulling them together in this post--Arthur tends to run for the camera, while Hart tries to play with it or nuzzle it!

So, these guys will be my guardians for my organization post, where I do my best to plan my path forward and keep on track with expectations. We'll see how it goes, as I've once again got ambitious plans when it comes to the challenges.

Personal Alphabet Challenge : where I try to build the alphabet over the year, with author names AND title initials.





Currently Reading:
I Am Legend
Monster of God
The Creation of the Night Sky
The Silver Wolf
The Boatman

Goals: (books/challenges listed in order of priority)

January: The Boatman (meant to read in 2018 SFFFKit #2), The Shadow of the Wind ('series in translation' SeriesCat), Monster of God ("First in, Last Out" TBRCat #2 & Q AlphaKit), I Am Legend (Top 100 Lists ScaredyKit)
February: Traveler in Paradise: New and Selected Poems (RandomCat), Planet Blood (colonization SFFFKit & K AlphaKit), Allure by Lea Nolan(YA SeriesCat), The Lathe of Heaven (Borrowed Book TBRCat), The Lair by Emily McKay (Corporeal Undead ScaredyKit & YA SeriesCat #2), Outside Valentine (CalendarCat & O AlphaKit)
March: RandomCat, Laurell K. Hamilton Anita Blake book (mystery/procedural SFFCat & favorite author SeriesCat), Rogue Lawyer (Aquired on a Trip TBRCat), Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore (True Crime ScaredyKit), Plays by Ibsen--born in March (CalendarCat), U & L AlphaKit
April: RandomCat, Godslayer (sword & sorcery SFFFKit), Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier (series you've been meaning to get back to SeriesCat & M AlphaKit), LT Challenge/Group TBRCat, The Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman (Modern Horror/Thrillers ScaredyKit & B AlphaKit), Red April (CalendarCat)
May: RandomCat, Foxmask (international SFFFKit--HOST), newest in favorite series SeriesCat, So I Married a Sorcerer (Never-Manage-To-Open TBRCat), Shadows by John Saul (Children's Horror/Horrific Children ScaredyKit), Devil May Cry (CalendarCat), H & V AlphaKit
June: RandomCat, Road Trip SFFFKit, Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (complete series SeriesCat & D AlphaKit), Soft Apocalypse or Amnesiascope (book bullet TBRCat), TechnoThrillers ScaredyKit, I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky (CalendarCat & J AlphaKit)
July: RandomCat, space opera SFFFKit, Illusion by Lea Nolan (fantasy SeriesCat), book by Robert B. Parker (author-with-more-than-one-tbr-on-shelf TBRCat & P AlphaKit), Reader's Choice ScaredyKit, The Bingo Palace by Erdrich--born July (CalendarCat), C AlphaKit
August: RandomCat, Alternate History SFFFKit, series set in a country/region where you don't live SeriesCat, Stealing Fire (purchased-excitedly TBRCat), Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Gothic ScaredyKit), A Bend in the River by Naipaul--born in August (CalendarCat & N AlphaKit), I AlphaKit
September: RandomCat, Series SFFFKit, next book in the Southern Ghost Hunter Mystery series by Angie Fox (mystery SeriesCat & F AlphaKit & ScaredyKit book), The Woman in White (classics TBRCat & W AlphaKit), September (CalendarCat)
October: RandomCat, comedy/humor SFFFKit, The Wild Rose (historical series SeriesCat), A Hologram for the King (visual appeal TBRCat), Monsters & Creatures ScaredyKit, October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween (CalendarCat), G & T AlphaKit
November: RandomCat, award winner/nominee SFFFKit, Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Book (female protagonist SeriesCat), given-as-gift TBRCat, Stephen King & Family ScaredyKit, Shooter: The Autobiography of the Top-Ranked Marine Sniper (CalendarCat & S AlphaKit), Y AlphaKit
December: RandomCat, wrap-up 2019 SFFFKit, series-that's-new-to-me SeriesCat, Ghost Country (bought-on-the-cheap TBRCat), Small Press/Indie/Catch-Up ScaredyKit—HOST MONTH, Wolfbane and Mistletoe (CalendarCat), E & R AlphaKit

Success/Tracking Progress… (Listed by Order of Priority in any given month...)

RandomCat: January (1)
SFFFKit: January (1)
TBRCat: January (1)
CalendarCat: January (1)
AlphaKit: January (1)

Nov 21, 2018, 11:38am Top

"Job" #1… Volunteer.

Yep, I'm calling this a job because I take it that seriously. It began when I was in middle school, volunteering at the local library to help with the summer reading program. In college, it expanded into volunteering tutoring time, running creative writing lessons for kids at community centers, and, more recently, volunteering to help with political campaigns and working with a local organization focused on working with teens who've gotten in trouble with the law, but are eligible for this intervention program that tries to help them learn how to make better choices and connect to their community so that they never have to get thrown into the court system.

Predictably, this category will cover all those books that somehow deal with nonfiction where people are working to make the world a better place, whether that's through NGOs, research, or anything else.

A. Volunteer books: nonfiction related to making the world better, or people who are working to do so

(0/2,019 pages)


Edited: Jan 11, 1:36pm Top

Job #2… Puppet Troupe Actor/Stage Manager

I belonged to a traveling puppet troupe when I was in high school. I mostly stage managed and worked on special effects, though sometimes I helped with singing and acting. I often got paid in food (those with cars got paid in food and gas!), and we were essentially a group of ambitious high schoolers led by an over-achieving college student getting his degree in performing arts, who had a passion for puppets. We mostly performed at libraries and schools (for kids), and occasionally in contests or churches and synagogues. Some of my favorites? We did a 70s/disco-themed rewrite of Cinderella—I remember very few details of that one because the fog machine kept me slightly high almost all the time, but it was a grand time—and a musical about dinosaurs. So, this job will be dedicated to MG and YA work, because only teenagers would have had the energy/stamina for our craziness, and we mostly performed for kids!

B. Puppet Troupe Stage Manager books: YA and MG territory

(373/2,019 pages)

1. The House by Christina Lauren (373 pages)

Nov 21, 2018, 11:39am Top

Job #3: Librarian Assistant

This was my first regular paying job—it was my work-study assignment at both undergraduate colleges I attended, and I loved it. I remember being behind the library desk at night and looking around in confusion, trying to figure out how I'd gotten there, but it was a good kind of confusion. Those library jobs gave me time to explore all sorts of experiences, not to mention books. Thus, this job/category will be for books that, in some way or another, inspire confusion—mostly by making me wonder, "How did this ever end up on my shelf???"—and then give me a chance to explore territory I wouldn't have expected myself to venture into.

C. Librarian Assistant books: How did this end up on my shelf and/or why am I reading it?

(0/2,019 pages)


Nov 21, 2018, 11:40am Top

Job #4: Writing Consultant/Tutor

I got pulled into working at a writing center while I was still in my freshman year of college. I was supposed to train for 8 weeks under a senior named Kyle who was another science major, but I actually got put on duty after 3 weeks, they were so short-handed and trusted my instincts/work so much. This job was part of what made me realize I was meant to be an English major instead of a science major, and I guess I've never really left it behind. I tutored all the way up until I began teaching, and even now that I'm an editor, I spend a fair bit of time serving as a writing consultant/mentor for writers who need some extra guidance in getting their books onto paper and completing even a first draft. It's exhausting, satisfying work, and I love it. There's nothing like a publisher getting in touch with me to tell me that someone wants to write a book, and has really interesting stories, but only maybe 20,000 messy words typed up… and then I get to help them take it through draft after draft until it's a full-length, polished book, ready to be published. It's kind of fantastic, honestly, and I work with maybe 4-5 writers a year in this fashion, some through publishers and some who just find me via online profiles or word of mouth. I've come a long way from helping college kids figure out how to write a thesis! So, this category will be all about professional development—books I feel like I need to read, always meant to read and felt I should read, or books that one of the publishers I work with asks me to read.

D. Writing Tutor books: Professional Development books that I either feel I should read, should have read already, or am asked to read (translation: paid to read) by one of my clients

(0/2,019 pages)


Nov 21, 2018, 11:40am Top

If any picture ever communicated both cute and bored, it might be this pooch, leading us to my first "real" job…

Job #5: CVS… (and retail, since I later worked for a while at a clothing store, but we'll just put that here…)

This was the first job I took that wasn't attached to a school or friendship. Originally, it was meant to be a weekend gig, where I'd show up on Saturdays and Sundays mostly to organize & stock shelves, and occasionally watch the register if the cashier needed to hit the restroom. It was a downtown drugstore and fairly dead on weekends, and a manager dropped in to relieve the cashier so she could break for lunch—eventually, I was supposed to train on the register and be the other weekend person, also able to work the register. What they didn't tell me was that part of my job would also be to chase away homeless people who wandered in to get out of the rain, or ask the local homeless population to move on from hanging out around the picnic tables outside of the store. I didn't have the heart for that part of the job. I lasted five weekends after training, only staying around until I could land a different job, as you'll see in the next category was a much better fit. So, this category will be for books that were just enh. Not bad, not good… just fine, and they keep the book carousel going like normal jobs keep the world running, but nothing I could be passionate about and really engage with for better or worse. Any DNFs will likely go here.

E. CVS books: books that are fine, but not anything for me to get excited about for whatever reason… just ordinary, probably soon to be forgotten even if finished

(0/2,019 pages)


Nov 21, 2018, 11:41am Top

Job #6: Room Service!

My second college job… working room service in an upscale downtown hotel that was down the street from my university. I loved this job—it was hard work and long hours that went well into the night, but I loved my colleagues and the money was incredible. Plus, I got to meet strange and interesting people, the work kept me in shape, and the hotel fed me for free and got me away from school cafeteria food. Eventually, management changed over and the job became more frustrating than it was worth, but I still look back really fondly on that job. So, this category will be devoted to orders, just like that job. Just like all those customers ordered food and drinks, so also do I now take requests/orders for reviews through ARCs sent my way. A different type of assignment/order all-together, but also hit and miss, and also with an expectation of return. So, whether they're LT Earlier Reviewer Giveaways or come from elsewhere, this category will be devoted to assignments/orders!

F. Room Service books: books sent to me for free, with the assignment/expectation of a review in return

(0/2,019 pages)


Edited: Jan 12, 11:31am Top

Job #7: Stagehand

This is Gypsy. After living on the streets for years, she's all about enjoying the easy life. Now one-eyed and about eight years older than she was in this picture, she's still our teddy bear, and is about as lazy as can be--yet, she had a rough life before she found us, and has had some medical emergencies since, so how rough & tough she is actually matches up pretty well with this job section. But she's also about as strange and wonderful and weird a creature as I've ever known, and not a little bit other-worldly, so she's going to represent Job #7… me as a stagehand.

In this job, I worked backstage at a roadhouse, and sometimes at a local coliseum, for about 6 years. It was exhausting, often-dirty work that required long hours and hard work, and I loved every minute. I can't think of anything to better represent the fantasy and sci-fi and speculative books that send my mind spinning.

G. Stagehand Books: the weird and the wonderful and the strange books that make you sit up and take notice of them.

(278/2,019 pages read)

1. Terra Nova by Shane Arbuthnott (278 pages)

Nov 21, 2018, 11:44am Top

This is an image of the Lipizzan stallions—I've had the honor and pleasure of seeing them perform twice, and the way they dance and move is so incredibly graceful. To the point here, aside from being a reminder of gorgeous grace, they react to each other's and to their trainers' smallest, most miniscule movements, always on their toes…

Job #8: Writing/Literature Teacher

I taught for ten years—more, if you could my time teaching creative writing in summer camps—and loved it. I spent five years at Clemson teaching Freshman Composition, Contemporary Literature, and STS (Science, Technology, and Society—it's a long story how I ended up in those classrooms!). After that, I spent six years at Duquesne, and while I didn't enjoy my time there nearly as much, I did have a lot of great students in my writing classrooms, as I taught both Freshman Composition (writing focused & lit. focused) and Creative Writing. Eventually, Duquesne scared me away from Academia, but not before I developed a love of teaching creative writing in summer camps, which I did from 2009-17. That's the one side of teaching I hope to get back to, if only as more of a hobby/part-time gig than anything. And, though I probably don't have to say it, it's worth noting that something unpredictable is Always happening in an arts classroom, either creative writing or drama…

The thing about teaching? If you're a good teacher, you're always on your toes, ready for anything, trying to stay one step ahead of your students. This category will be for the twisty-turny books that keep me guessing, keep me thinking, or generally keep me a little bit on-guard…

Writing/Literature Teacher books: books that kept me guessing/on guard…

(0/2,019 pages)


Edited: Jan 12, 8:08pm Top

Job #9: Drama Teacher

RJ was the first cat I adopted on my own, to be brought back to my apartment vs. my family's house. I got her in 2003, and although we lost her to cancer in 2013, far too early, I'll always miss her. But if you can tell from the look in her eyes… she was incredibly dramatic. Do you have a drama queen kitty in your life? That was my RJ, so here she is, representing Job #9… me as a Drama teacher. And what could that represent but Drama and Poetry? Sadly, I neglected both last year, so RJ will help me remember to keep up with them this year.

I. Drama Teacher books: Drama and Poetry:

(174/2,019 pages read)

1. January Thaw by William Roos (174 pages)

Nov 21, 2018, 11:45am Top

Job #10: Book Editor

This is my favorite picture of Ziva, who we adopted at the same time we adopted Hart, back in 2013. She hates me working or reading because it means I'm not fully focused on her (when she's awake), and this is my favorite picture of her, taken when decided to fall asleep on a book I was editing at the time. Of course, she here represents the job I'm still (self-)employed at: #10: Book Editor. This category will be for those books that needed a bit more work when it came to editing… or perhaps their author and editor were too distracted by their own version of Ziva to finish editing?
For the record, this is the one category that I hope does not get filled in 2019!!!

I. Book Editor books: the books that, at least in my humble opinion, needed a bit more work when it came to the writing and editing…

(0 pages/2,019 pages)


Nov 21, 2018, 11:46am Top

Job #11: Writer

This is a picture of me and my husband, Joel. When I wanted to quit academia in order to have more sanity and more time to write, he supported me even though he didn't know what I'd end up doing, waitressing or jobless or what. His support is what's allowed me to get paid to do the job I've been working toward forever and ever: being a writer. So, although I'm still an editor, this final job post is due to him. I'm also a writer! This category will be dedicated to those books which I can't put down, which I love and which remind me of my passion for writing—the best of the best for the year.

J. Writer books: the books that become favorites, that remind me of why I love to read and write

(0/2,019 pages read)


Nov 21, 2018, 2:04pm Top

This is a great setup and thank you for giving us a glimpse of the RL behind the Whitewavedarling! Looking forward to following along.

Nov 21, 2018, 2:15pm Top

Excellent setup. I'm still looking for the answer to the question in >6 whitewavedarling:!

Nov 21, 2018, 2:26pm Top

>15 Helenliz: lol, on one hand, I feel the same way, but I know I'll never leave behind the careers I have now--they're too addicting!--so, at most, I'll just be adding :) Thanks for dropping in!!! I never feel like I'm totally and officially set up till someone has come around and left a comment!

Nov 21, 2018, 2:34pm Top

What a fabulous setup!

And here's hoping that 2019 is a really excellent writing, as well as reading, year for you!

Nov 21, 2018, 2:56pm Top

What a fascinating path! Love how you were able to match that up to your book categories. Here's hoping you don't have too many CVS books. :)

Nov 21, 2018, 6:54pm Top

>17 Jackie_K:, Thanks :) I wanted to fit in pictures of all my creatures this year, and pull together more manageable categories--we'll see if I managed to do so and still leave enough time for writing!

>18 LittleTaiko:, Thanks :) It was fun pulling it all together! I am hopeful that, now that I've actually carved out a space for the CVS books, there won't be many of them showing up--murphy's law and all that!

Nov 21, 2018, 7:51pm Top

What an awesome idea! Love the pictures of your furry family too :) Have a great reading year!

Nov 21, 2018, 8:38pm Top

This was a great theme! Some interesting jobs for sure. Will be watching for BBs.

Nov 21, 2018, 9:38pm Top

Wonderful categories! (and pets!)

Nov 22, 2018, 4:25am Top

What an amazing variety of jobs and furry friends! Thanks for sharing and here's to a year of many writer books.

Nov 22, 2018, 10:24am Top

I love your setup! Anything with cat pictures makes me drool!

Nov 22, 2018, 11:57am Top

Thanks, everyone :) Once I came up with the set-up, I was really excited, so I'm glad it's entertaining everyone! And, of course, I love showing off our furry family!

Nov 22, 2018, 5:02pm Top

>10 whitewavedarling: The Lipizzan's are my husbands favorite horse group. Whenever they are within 200 miles, we go to the show. We even got to tour the barn and pet them once when they were in Florida. His 2nd fav are the Clydesdales.

Nov 22, 2018, 5:39pm Top

>9 whitewavedarling: I love the stagehand idea! I worked as a stagehand too, for about three years. Backstage at a local college auditorium, and some other "calls," but I was not a member of IATSE, so did not usually get the union calls. I did this part time (sort of) when I was still teaching in a brick and mortar public school. I loved being a stagehand--I could not believe I was getting paid to do it. I usually worked the follow spot, but also sound board and whatever other general stuff needed doing.

Nov 23, 2018, 11:17am Top

>26 tess_schoolmarm:, they're so beautiful, I do just love seeing them! I've seen them only twice, but hope to go again the next time they're even within a state or so of me.

>27 LadyoftheLodge:, Yep :) I worked at a roadhouse attached the university where I first went to school and then taught. Though, I was the opposite--I didn't enjoy working the spot, and never really got trained on our sound or light board beyond the basics. I just loved being backstage to help with everything that needed to be done, and to troubleshoot when something went wrong. I remember one time in high school when I was up in the light booth and something went wrong backstage--I felt so frustrated and helpless, not being able to help them figure it out! Our high school had a really good theater department--our shows were more on the level of college shows when it came to sets and props, so we took our reputation seriously. Anyhow, it set me up well for what came after, but that was the last time I ever let myself be up in the booth during a show! (Well, except for running sound for some dance shows up in Pittsburgh, which I'd actually totally forgotten about till just now!)

Nov 24, 2018, 4:24pm Top

>26 tess_schoolmarm: My first acquaintance with those beautiful horses was when I read Airs Above the Ground which was many moons ago, when I was in junior high school.

Nov 30, 2018, 3:30pm Top

It was so interesting to hear about your career and of course to see all your wonderful pets. What a nice set up! Looking forward to following along.

Dec 2, 2018, 6:44pm Top

>29 LadyoftheLodge:, I think my mom took me to see them when I was in middle school, if I remember right, and then we went again when I was in high school. They really are other-worldly. It's just amazing to see them perform!

>30 LisaMorr:, Thanks :) I look forward to trying to send BBs to you and others--well, I hope my reading is that enjoyable next year, anyway!

Dec 2, 2018, 6:46pm Top

What a fascinating and personal theme! I am always amazed at the unique and unexpected paths one might travel through their work life. thank you so much for sharing your experiences here. Wishing you a wonderful reading and writing year in 2019.

Dec 2, 2018, 7:24pm Top

>32 lkernagh:, Thank you for stopping by--I have to admit, it was kind of fun to run back through the past and think about it all :) And, same to you with those wishes for good reading!

Dec 5, 2018, 1:41pm Top

Wonderful theme! It is so interesting to get to know you better and I love the story about Quinn.

Dec 5, 2018, 4:58pm Top

>34 VivienneR:, Thanks :) True to form, she's sleeping half on top of my feet right now!

Dec 8, 2018, 10:39pm Top

great ideas for selecting your categories!

Dec 11, 2018, 10:33am Top

Cute pics! What a thoughtful challenge.

Dec 15, 2018, 11:31am Top

>36 cyderry: and >37 This-n-That:, Thanks :)

And, now that all of the challenges are known quantities, I've got my reading for January planned! On deck for next month:

The House by Christina Lauren (RandomCat)
The Boatman by Kat Hathorne (SFFFKit)
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (SeriesCat)
Monster of God by David Quammen (TBRCat & Q AlphaKit)
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (ScaredyKit)
January Thaw by William Roos (CalendarCat & TBR cat #2)
Terra Nova by Shane Arbuthnott (SFFFKit #2 & A AlphaKit)

Dec 31, 2018, 11:40am Top

Adorable cat! Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2018, 1:16pm Top

Dec 31, 2018, 2:43pm Top

Jan 2, 11:38am Top

Thanks, everyone!

Meanwhile, I just finished writing reviews for the books I finished New Year's Eve (Illusion by Frank Peretti, which I would not recommend, and Freedom to Speak: National Poetry Slam 2002, which I would absolutely recommend)--full reviews written of both!

I've already jumped into 2019 reading with Terra Nova and The House, so here's hoping we all have a good reading year!

Jan 5, 7:54pm Top

Hey, everyone!

So, my latest news: Under my pen name, I've been invited to participate in an author con this April! As part of my registration fee, I get two free tickets that I'd love to get to LT members (or their friends?) who might be interested, given that I don't know anyone in the area. The con will be in Ann Harbor, Michigan the second weekend of April (April 13th), and there are going to be 30-50 indie steamy romance authors on hand to talk to readers, and sell and/or sign their books. The number isn't definite yet, but they're cutting it off at 50, I know. So, if you or someone you know is around that area and would like the tickets, leave a private comment on my profile and we'll figure out the logistics :) I'll post an update to this message once my free tickets are vouched for...

By the way, this is an invitation-only event for authors, so the authors there have already been reviewed as authors producing professional work. There'll be a mix of authors with giant followings, and then some newbies like yours truly, but all of the books represented should be quality work :)

Jan 5, 9:36pm Top

>43 whitewavedarling:
That's such fantastic news! Congratulations!!!

Jan 6, 10:17am Top

Wow, congrats!

Jan 6, 10:55am Top

>43 whitewavedarling: Wow, congratulations - I hope it leads to big things for you!

Jan 6, 11:20am Top

>44 pammab:, >45 MissWatson:, > 46, Thanks :) I'm really excited, so we'll see how it goes. I thought I'd have to turn it down because of the cost of travel, but it turns out that the nearest airport is such a hub that I can get an ultra-cheap ticket. Right now, I need exposure more than anything, so it should be worth the cost!

Jan 7, 3:43pm Top

>43 whitewavedarling: Awesome! Congrats!

Jan 7, 3:52pm Top

How exciting for you!!

Jan 8, 11:26pm Top

Congratulations and enjoy your time in Ann Harbor!

Jan 11, 9:42am Top

Congrats! If I lived closer (8 hours away) I would take you up on those tickets!

Jan 11, 1:03pm Top

Thanks, everyone :) And the tickets are still up for grabs if anyone comes across these messages and gets interested!

Jan 11, 1:37pm Top

B. Puppet Troupe Stage Manager Books--YA/MG Territory #1: The House by Christina Lauren


Full Review... (rant territory?)

I've got such mixed feelings about this book, but in the end, it wasn't at all what I expected, and I can't say that I'd give the authors another try either, much as I loved the concept and wanted to love this book.

First of all, this is a YA book--and there's no indication of that on the cover or in the blurb on the jacket. The ONLY indication is in small print, running sideways on the inside of the jacket, where it says 'Ages 14 up'--but, beyond that, there's no indication at all that this is YA or a book for teens. The author writes both YA and Adult works (supposedly), so that's also no help. Genre is also something of a surprise. This book is more romance than horror, and while it's meant to be a mash-up of the two, it seems clear that the authors were more engaged with the romance aspect than the horror. Considering that the book looks like a horror book and the blurb makes it sound like a horror book... again, it's a surprise. If I'd gone into the book expecting a YA romance enmeshed with a YA horror book, then maybe I would have fallen in love from the start, but instead I was incredibly put off.

Then again, I love haunted house stories, and have never had any desire to try a YA romance, so maybe I'm just the type of reader that the marketers wanted to draw in. Well, that be the case or not, I was kind of disgusted and dismayed when I first started the book--it wasn't for me, and I wish the marketing had been on point enough to make that clear from the beginning.

The thing is, the concept is interesting, and I wanted to love this book--I kept going, hoping the authors would move more toward horror, balancing things out since the beginning was more focused on romance, but that just didn't happen. I did get more interested in the book as it went on, but the genre never really satisfied. There were some creepy moments, yeah--not scary, certainly, which is what the blurb promised--but that's about it. Making things far worse, the horror element of the plot was wrapped up in one quick chapter that felt like it was over almost as soon as it began, so incredibly easy and happy-ending-ish that it kind of disgusted me... like the writers got to the part of the book that a horror reader would most love to really get wrapped up in, and were either too lazy to write it or just not interested in doing so. I read the last chapter, thinking there'd be more... and it was just an epilogue-ish wrap-up of the romance to ensure that that side of things got its forever-ago predicted happy-ever-after. (And, no, that's not a spoiler because this book is so clearly a romance, from the very beginning, that there's no question at all, ever, that that's where the authors are heading.)

I'd also be remiss, considering the romance element, if I didn't mention that I never did get to like the female protagonist. In the beginning of the book, she simply annoyed me, and as things kept going, I got used to her... but I never really cared. I cared about the male protagonist and the horror element of the book, but both of those were given far less attention than the female voice.

So, yeah, I didn't enjoy this. I'm giving it two stars only because, if I'd known exactly what I was getting into, I might have felt a little bit more generous toward the romance. Then again, if I'd known it was so much more romance than horror, I don't know that I would have bothered picking it up. And I've never read YA romance, so maybe this is a great, spooky read for that audience. But, for a horror reader, who loves both YA and Adult horror, it just doesn't measure up.

I wouldn't recommend it, and I won't be giving the author another try, no matter how spooky r good a book looks or sounds since, quite obviously, the marketing for this book was intent on selling books at any cost rather than actually representing the story written on the pages.

Jan 11, 3:57pm Top

>53 whitewavedarling: Wow. I knew Christina Lauren was a romance author (well, two authors), but I can see how, if you didn't happen to know that already, you'd be super misled about what kind of book to expect! Sounds like the publisher really did not do a good job of marketing this one!

Jan 11, 5:48pm Top

>54 christina_reads:, Nope, not at all :( I looked her up after reading maybe forty pages, and that's when I discovered that she (or they) is known for romance, but the book itself looks like straight horror. Re-reading the blub, I could kind of see the romance being foreshadowed/given away, but honestly, unless you were actually looking for it in the blurb, you wouldn't find it. Kind of like how 'Every Breath You Take' is technically a song about a stalker, but got forever misunderstood as a love song. It kind of goes either way, just like the blurb for this book goes either horror or creepy romance without more context and if you don't look incredibly closely. The cover definitely looks like that of a horror book, though, and the blurbs focus on the horror, which makes me think the publisher was trying to expand her reader base by bringing in horror readers. I've read a few reviews from folks who also got somewhat tricked into reading it and didn't enjoy it. Oh well.

I've already started reading I am Legend to quench my taste for horror, and it's doing a far better job of living up to expectations :)

Jan 11, 6:07pm Top

>55 whitewavedarling: Oh, "Every Breath You Take," and that awkward moment when you hear it at someone's wedding. I'm so sorry this was the bookish equivalent for you! But I'm glad I Am Legend is quenching your horror thirst. I'm a huge scaredy-cat, so I'll stay far away from that one!

Jan 12, 11:34am Top

>56 christina_reads:, Yes! Up-front, I told our wedding DJ I wanted to veto any playing of exactly two songs--"Every Breath You Take" and "Gold Digger"--both of which I'd heard at numerous weddings in the last few years before that.

But, meanwhile, this was a much better book--a fantastic one in fact! (And I am really enjoying I Am Legend still--just not reading it at night, which means it'll take a little while for me to get through it.)

G. Stagehand Books: The weird and the wonderful... #1: Terra Nova by Shane Arbuthnott

Terra Nova is the follow-up to Dominion Shane Arbuthnott's debut novel, and the truth is that it's just as fantastic. This second book focused on Molly Stout is even more magical and action-packed than the first book, bringing her world more alive and giving readers that much more reason to fall into the book and remain enchanted. Parents should definitely be aware that this is a bit darker than the first book--where the first book gave hints of darkness related to the main characters, but in a way that offered more depth for adults and less room for fear in really young readers, this second book offers a lot of both. It's got the sort of darkness that adults will find really horrifying, and children may well just as take as the nature of adventure without giving it more thought, but that pushes the book a bit more toward YA territory than MG territory at a lot of points. But beyond that one caveat, the simple truth is that Arbuthnott's writing and world-building are descriptive, strangely magical, and utterly engaging, right along with his characters.

This second book has a much more conclusive ending than the first book in the series, Dominion, so I'm not entirely sure whether or not the author will give us more books about Molly Stout, but I certainly hope he does. This is going to be one of those books that I adore, recommend, and pass on as much as I can. And I'll certainly be in line for whatever the author writes next.

Absolutely recommended (but do read the first book, Dominion, first!).

Jan 12, 8:09pm Top

I. Drama Teacher Books (Drama and Poetry) #1: January Thaw by William Roos

This was a fun diversion, and with few enough characters that it made for easy, humorous reading. A bit old fashioned, some of its charm comes from a full cast of characters who share the stage rather than there being much of a traditional star of the show. Seen on a stage with a talented cast, I'd be willing to bet this would be hilarious.

Jan 14, 2:35pm Top

>43 whitewavedarling: Congratulations! I hope it leads to exciting new happenings for you!

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