Love-Hate Challenge: Part I


Just the other day I was thinking how I never really saw blog challenges or chains anymore. Then this morning I find a little challenge treat in my inbox thanks to Paula Acton. Cool! The rules of the Love-Hate Challenge are simple:

  • Make a list of 10 things you love
  • Make a list of 10 things you hate
  • Nominate 10 bloggers

To complete this challenge, I decided to go with a theme – books! Seeing as I just had the time of my life at Powell’s Books this is a fitting answer to the Love-Hate Challenge. However, hate is a word I’d rather not apply to books, so I’m going to switch things up and do a Love List and a Not A Fan List.

10 Books I Love

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

41DMQB+vWwL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_I fell in love with this book at first read. A love story rooted in the gothic tradition, a plain governess falls for her mysterious boss. Add to that an unexpected secret hiding in the attic – the first time through I never saw it coming! While I love a good romance with a dark twist, Jane is the star for me. She isn’t the typical mousy woman, but rather a self-assured individual who stands up for herself. I’ve read Jane Eyre so many times and I never get tired of it! Juicy, juicy stuff!


2. Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer

41MLd2DZYwL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_Vampires and Werewolves, oh my! I admit I fell under the spell of Twilight instantly, I read the first book in three sittings. And then I devoured the other three books in the series in under two weeks. Then, I turned into an even nuttier fangirl when the movies came out. What can I say, I was a total sucker for Bella (who I can relate to on so many levels) and the dreamy Edward (who is not as creepy and stalkerish as haters would proclaim). I just recently reread the first two books and was instantly reminded why Twilight is so much fun. It’s all about fantasy and the exhilaration of first love – Meyer captures these two concepts perfectly.


3. Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare

51LLeAJAgqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I found this series in the throes of Twilight withdrawal. I had just finished Breaking Dawn and I needed something to get my mind off the ending of an era. I picked up City of Bones and fell happily into Clare’s incredible world of Shadowhunters and the ultimate fight against evil. Not to mention another really great couple, Clary and Jace. I’ve stuck with the Mortal Instruments through six books (all of which are phenomenal) and three books of the Infernal Devices series (also phenomenal). Clare is one of the best world-builders in YA fantasy and I’m always looking forward to more from her!


4. Persuasion by Jane Austen

411KbBtEyuL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Pretty much anything by Jane Austen falls into my love list, but I love Persuasion above all else. The story of Anne and Captain Wentworth melts my heart every time – I fall to pieces every time I read Wentworth’s letter to Anne at the end. Ahhhhhh! This is my ultimate romance novel as it is the epitome of how love always prevails.



5. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

51MU5VilKpL._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_Seriously, what is not to love about this series?? My heart wrapped around Harry from the first page of Sorcerer’s Stone to the last page of Deathly Hallows. Never have I become so attached to a character in a book (except for maybe Jane Eyre). Throw in some magic, Dumbledore’s wisdom, and the clash of light and dark forces and you’ve got a tour-de-force of amazing fiction. The best part is, you don’t have to be a kid to love this stuff!


6. This is Water / A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

31iis44pawL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_Like Austen, pretty much anything David Foster Wallace has written is on my love list. I love his quirky, yet highly intelligent style of writing. His observations make me laugh, consider things I hadn’t before and above all cause me to think deeply about myself and the world around me. He is in a category all by himself and no one can even come close to his genius, (musings of major fan, obviously).


7. Everything Matters by Ron Currie, Jr.

41LQyLs4UFL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_There are tear stains on the last few pages of my copy of Everything Matters. I cried in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I bawled at Currie, Jr’s heartfelt and gut wrenching novel. Currie plays with the question: If you knew when the world was going to end what would you do? Keep it to yourself? Try to change it? Tell the whole world? Would it change how you lived? Loved?



8. Q-Squared by Peter David

510s1XRP0sL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_I think I’ve read every Star Trek: The Next Generation novel (and they are so much fun), but this little masterpiece is easily my favorite. Q is a fan favorite from the TV series and Peter David brings him to life in this funny, thrilling, and fantastical tale. And who doesn’t love the banter between Q and Picard!?



9. Maisie Dobbs Series by Jacqueline Winspear

51LeP0LfWDL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This series is near and dear to my heart. A close friend, (who recently passed) introduced me to this historical mystery series and I love it. Maisie is a smart, independent woman who survived the battlefront of WWI and several personal tragedies. Instead of giving up, she always picks herself up and pushes forward. While she’s at it she solves murder mysteries with her uncanny ability to read people and pick up minute details. The 11th book came out earlier this year and I plowed right through it. Awesome as always!


10. Haiku Anthologies

UnknownMy love of haiku knows no bounds. I’ve paged through traditional haiku anthologies of Basho, Issa, and Busson, while also embracing modern anthologies like Haiku in English: The First 100 Years and The Haiku Anthology. I can’t get enough of this poetic form!




This post is quite long, so I’ll post my Not A Fan list and nominees later this week!

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What books are your love list?

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c.b.w. 2015

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures


Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ethan Wate is stuck in a small South Carolina town, where nothing ever happens. While everyone around him seems to thrive on living a mundane life, Ethan dreams of getting out of Gatlin and experiencing more than Civil War reenactments, bake sales, and cotillions.

The first time Ethan lays eyes on Lena Duchannes, he knows everything in his boring world is about to change. Not only is she beautiful, but she is different from all the other girls in town. For a guy who’s had it with normalcy, Lena is the girl of his dreams in more ways than one.

Lena is an instant outcast with her funky wardrobe and her family ties to Gatlin’s resident hermit. Ethan is basically committing social suicide by choosing to hang out with her, but he is hopelessly attracted to the mystery that is Lena. His infatuation soon turns to love and lucky for him the feeling is mutual.

However, it isn’t long before Ethan learns the truth about Lena. There is a reason why she writes numbers on her hands and why it always seems to rain when she is upset. Lena is a Caster (a.k.a. witch) who is inching closer to her 16th birthday. Upon hitting this milestone, she will be Claimed for dark magic instead of light thanks to a longstanding family curse.

Lena’s fear of turning dark incites Ethan’s quest to find a way to release her from the curse. It turns out Gatlin is full of secrets both mortal and supernatural. At the center of it all, is an ordinary boy with more power than he realizes.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s epic tale is a bit long, but where it lacks in editing, it excels in originality. In a market flooded with paranormal romance, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find YA fiction with unique characters and story lines. Beautiful Creatures breaks the mold by letting the story unfold through Ethan’s point of view. The male perspective puts a new spin on an old formula and it is so refreshing! Garcia and Stohl also deserve props for realistically portraying small-town life in the South. In particular, their references to various modes of prejudice are a sobering reminder that the past repeats itself more frequently than we like to admit.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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c.b.w. 2013

Novel #2 Progress: Playing With Fantasy


I revised until my eyes burned and the word count totals for this week reflect that fact!

Word Count Progress:

Draft #1 Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 55,440
  • End Word Count: 60,366
  • Total: 4,896

Draft #2 Revised Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 57,074
  • End Word Count: 62,703
  • Total:5,629

Writing Process Notes:

  • The scenes I worked on this week were so intense they literally left me emotionally and physically exhausted! However, as the conflicts between my character’s escalate, I know that means the climatic end scene is within reach. With that scene so close at at hand, I am happily working through the exhaustion in order to get to the last line!
  • A wide divide has developed between the word counts of Drafts 1 and 2. Several new scenes have been added in places where I made notations to expand descriptions and plot elements. So far, I’m loving the changes!
  • I am still shooting to complete the second draft by the end of March. It’ll be a tight schedule, but I think I can do it!

Novel Tidbit:

Realistic Fantasy

  • I decided to create urban fantasy as opposed to straight up fantasy because I like creating something people can relate to on a personal level. My favorite stories are those that take something honest and give it an elaborate place to breathe. Sometimes the real world is big enough to harness that honesty, but at other times fantasy is in order to create metaphors and imagery that can’t exist in reality.
  • While fantasy allows for limitless creation, I also believe in striking a balance between realistic and fantasy-based elements. For urban fantasy to work, the plot and characters need a strong connection to a reality in which readers can place themselves. So, when fantasy elements are introduced, it makes them that much more fantastical and believable. I want readers to allow themselves to think, even if for just a second, that something magical could be real. In a sense, the real world only needs a dash a fairy dust to sparkle.
  • The bulk of Novel #2 takes place in Phoenix, Arizona. Most scenes take place in real places, including coffee shops, movie theaters, and Amanda’s home. It’s only in the last quarter that the setting changes to something completely out of this realm.  In doing this, Ian’s realm becomes something even more incredible. I want readers to be awed in the same way Amanda is when they enter this amazing world by her side.
  • Ian’s special abilities are the only bit of “magic” until the end of the novel. Part of the reason I did this was to emphasize the unique nature of his identity. That being said, he is not without faults or weaknesses, just like any human.
  • Amanda’s mortal status is necessary to make the story work, but I also went out of my way to make her stronger than Ian in unconventional ways. He may be the supernatural being, but she bests him in ways that will ultimately change his fate.

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c.b.w. 2013