Best of 2016

I’ve started to see the lists popping up online. Even though there is still one month left in 2016, people are ready to call their favorites, from books to movies to television shows. So I thought about what I read and watched this year, and here are a few notables:


The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young. This pseudo-paranormal mystery set in the bayous of Louisiana is both atmospheric and fast-moving. I raced through it and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Not a 2016 release, but I finally got around to this one and, though long and deep, it’s so well written. Was perfect for the long flights to and from New York.

Dark Dawning by Christine Rains. A novella, first in a series, and it sets up just a very interesting world full of shape-shifters and Inuit mythology.

Lorelei’s Lyric by D.B. Sieders. A twist on mermaids/sirens.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A new window into the world of Harry Potter… pre-Potter.

Sing Street. Just really cute, even if it is mostly a bunch of music videos hung on a very sparse plot frame.

Snowden. An interesting perspective on how and why Edward Snowden did what he did.

The Imposter. A documentary about how a French con artist convinced a family in Texas he was their missing son/brother.

Kubo and the Two Strings. More gorgeous work from Laika.

The Nice Guys. Typical Shane Black, so if you like his stuff…

Zootopia. Above and beyond as far as children’s animated features go.

Love & Friendship. A delightful Jane Austen adaptation.

I know there’s a lot I have yet to see (I do have tickets to Rogue One!), but of the things I watched this past year, the above stand out.


The Crown. I was sucked right into this drama about the start of Elizabeth II’s reign and can’t wait for more.

Westworld. I resisted, and do continue to resist on some levels, but I can’t deny that this is a well-written, well-acted, well-produced program. (I feel similarly about Game of Thrones and The Leftovers. Must be an HBO drama thing.)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Everything Doctor Who should be, used to be, and no longer is. In short, a whole lot of absurd fun.

Documentary Now! Fun, though the second season was not as good as the first IMHO.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Probably the single thing I most look forward to each week. (And now on break. *sob*)

I also watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine and am just dabbling in Superstore. Started Designated Survivor and AHS: Roanoke and Timeless and need to get back to those… Television is getting harder to keep up with because there is so much and it’s all dumped in one go instead of airing weekly. But hey, even the weekly stuff piles up on my DVR, sort of like all the books I mean to read that pile up on my nightstand or in my Kindle. The above, then, are just shows that definitely had me hooked over the year.

So what about you? Any favorites this past year? Recommendations? Anything to look forward to in 2017? Let me know in the comments!

Virtual Book Fair

Today the Virtual Book Fair kicks off on Facebook. Visit my “booth” here. You can win prizes: an Amazon gift card, an ebook of your choice, or a signed copy of Manifesting Destiny. Enter two ways, (1) Liking my Facebook page and (2) signing up for my newsletter. If you do both, you get two entries. See how easy it is? Winners chosen at random on November 18.


And, yeah, The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller is just 99 cents on Amazon (both US and UK sites) throughout the weekend. So go grab it now if you haven’t already!

While you’re here, I’m going to enter another plea for your help with these kitties. They’re not looking for homes, just looking to stay in the home they already have. Please consider donating, and if you can’t do that, at least spread the word. Or buy the shirt and, as I’ve mentioned, if you email me a copy of your receipt I’ll send you a copy of one of my books as a thank-you.

Look, Tom Hiddleston loves kitties. You should, too!
Look, Tom Hiddleston loves kitties. You should, too!

(Note that Mr. Hiddleston has in no way endorsed this gofundme. But maybe he would if he knew?)

Bookshelf 1:4

I’m doing an ongoing series in which I go through each of my bookshelves. Here is the first bookcase, fourth shelf (1:4).



The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Slayer of Gods by Lynda S. Robinson
The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
A Little Folly by Jude Morgan
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Life Application Bible (NIV)
Treasures of the Earth by Saleem H. Ali
The Greeks and Greek Love by James Davidson
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Isabella by Colin Falconer
Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle
Mistress of the Monarchy by Alison Weir
King and Goddess by Judith Tarr
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
Smiley’s People by John Le Carré
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Katherine by Anya Seton
The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry (signed)
Lorelei’s Lyric by D.B. Sieders (signed)
Captive Queen by Alison Weir
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Impossible Things by Connie Willis
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
Very British Problems by Rob Temple
Life after God by Douglas Coupland
Three Maids for a Crown by Ella March Chase
Restless by William Boyd
The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers
Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini

This started as my historical fiction shelf, but then like so many others ended up being a collection point for whatever else I could stack there.

The Other Boleyn Girl was my first, as still possibly my favorite, Philippa Gregory novel. Picked it up in an airport. Have attempted but been unable to finish The Constant Princess and The Red Queen, though I have read other of Gregory’s books that I got from the library but don’t own. I usually find Alison Weir more to my liking. I read both her fiction and nonfiction.

The Lynda S. Robinson book . . . She had a great series that I loved and then she and/or they seemed to disappear. I should go see if she ever wrote anything else. Likewise, Jude Morgan—love those books but there aren’t a ton of them.

Not sure where Treasures of the Earth came from. Have a vague recollection it was given to me, or I won it or something. Maybe it was a review copy? If so, I never read it. Oops.

Big fan of Judith Tarr and surprised only the one book of hers is on my shelf. I should have Throne of Isis somewhere . . .

I picked up the Liane Moriarty book because so many people said they loved it, but I couldn’t get into it. As I go through these shelves, I’m mentally making a list of books to discard so I can make more room for what I truly love.

And Restless—I never got around to reading it. A literary agent suggested it when he sent me an R&R (that’s “revise and resubmit” to those not in on the lingo). So I ordered the book and meant to read it and then, as I sent him the extensive rewrite based on his notes, he informed me he was leaving agenting. One of the biggest letdowns of my career, and now I can’t even think of reading the book, no matter how great it may be. Should be added to my discard stack.

So. Any of you historical fiction fans? Or enjoy history books in general? Did you like The Husband’s Secret or read Restless? Let me know in the comments!

Bookshelf 1:3

(If you don’t know what I mean by the above title, check out 1:1 and 1:2).

Things start to get a bit messy at this point. The stacks of books begin piling up here.


A Dictionary of Angels by Gustav Davidson
The Dream Dictionary from A to Z by Theresa Cheung
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
The 2014 Dramatists Guild Resource Directory
Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2012
Deadly Doses: A Writer’s Guid to Poisons by Serita Deborah Stevens with Anne Klarner
Screenwriter’s & Playwright’s Market 2010
Crafty TV Writing by Alex Epstein
Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
Write Away by Elizabeth George
On Writing by Stephen King
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
The Writer’s Journey (2nd ed.) by Christopher Vogler
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Anatomy of Film by Bernard F. Dick
The Elements of Style (3rd ed.) by Strunk and White
The Elements of Editing by Arthur Plotnik
The Elements of Grammar by Margaret Shertzer
Which Lie Did I Tell? by William Goldman
The Art of Fiction by John Gardner
Common Culture: Reading and Writing About American Popular Culture (4th ed.) by Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure
Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers (2nd ed.) by Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon
The Cult TV Book edited by Stacey Abbott
Creative Writing and Storyboarding for Games
The Writer’s Craft
The Man Who Heard Voices by Michael Bamberger
45 Master Characters by Victoria Schmidt
The Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.)
The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young
The Lake House by Kate Morton
An Elegant Madness by Venetia Murray
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett
Broken Harbor by Tana French
The Secret Place by Tana French

This is clearly my pretentious shelf, the one with all the books on writing and editing and film and cultural media studies. But I think it also says something that all that has been blocked in by more fiction. Also, all those pretentious books are pretty old now. They’re leftovers from my days of film school and grad school. I do still enjoy spirited dialogue on media studies and craft, but I can’t say how relevant some of these books would be now were I to crack them open. Even the editing ones—why, I had a publisher tell me recently that they “don’t allow” semicolons, so . . .

I should surely weed out the old directories. The Creative Writing and Storyboarding for Games is a book I edited for ITT. Guess maybe I thought the info would come in handy at some point in my future. The Writer’s Craft is, similarly, a textbook I was allowed to take home because the publisher was going to otherwise throw it out.

Seeing some of these makes me want to re-read them. The pop culture books, for instance, and now I’m also wondering whether Vogler has a more recent edition. He almost certainly does. Would be worth looking up. I’m probably due to re-read On Writing as well.

And yes, that’s Gromit keeping the shelf warm.

Bookshelf 1:2

A couple weeks ago I posted the first in this series of what’s on my bookshelves. Now we’re moving on to Bookcase 1, Shelf 2.


Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete Earley
Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
The 13th Floor Complete Collection by Christine Rains
The K-Pro by Yours Truly
The World Ends at Five by Me
The Sensory Child Gets Organized by Carolyn Dalgliesh
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton
Subliminal by Leonard Moldinow
World of Hummingbirds by Erik Hanson
Hop On Pop by Henry Jenkins, Tara McPherson, Jane Shattuc (eds.)
Velocities by Stephen Dobyns
Cemetery Nights by Stephen Dobyns
A Glass Half Full by Felix Dennis
The Top 500 Poems by William Harmon (ed.)
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

The Jasper Fforde books should actually be on my husband’s shelves, but I think he’s hoping I’ll give in and read them. I did read the first Thursday Next book and liked it all right. The one Jasper Fforde book I really, truly enjoyed I don’t own—Shades of Grey. Keep waiting for more of those books, but that seems less and less likely to happen. Sigh.

Remember the fuss over Imagine? I read the book before the scandal. Basically, Lehrer made up some quotes and attributed them to Bob Dylan. Very, very wrong, and when you do something like that, it throws your entire book into question. Which is a shame because the book makes some good points. But who is going to trust your data after that?

I used to read all the Kathy Reichs Bones books, but I couldn’t keep up. I go in cycles with things like that. I went through a Patricia Cornwell/Kay Scarpetta phase as an undergrad.

As for the “artifacts” on the shelf: a kind of ugly Tenth Doctor, Prince John from Disney’s animated Robin Hood, a replica of the music box from the animated feature Anastasia, a Jan Hagara* music box that plays “La Mer,” Anna from Frozen that should probably be in my daughter’s room but maybe she gave it to me and I just don’t remember, and another Tenth Doctor. Cuz I love him.

*I worked for Jan Hagara as an undergrad. The music box was a gift from a friend, though, because I love the X-Files episode “Beyond the Sea.”

Spotlight: Deadly Alliance by Kathleen Rowland

Check out this romantic suspense novel by fellow Tirgearr author Kathleen Rowland!

deadly_alliance_by_kathleen_rowland-200Finbar Donahue, former Army Ranger, walked on the wild side in Iraq, but now he lives in the shadows. After his evasive partner, Les, was shot in a random drive-by, Finn discovers cash is siphoned monthly. He fights to keep his investment company afloat. When the late partner’s girlfriend, Amy Kintyre, applies for his bookkeeping job, Finn suspects she knows about his company drain and hires her.

Amy needs a nine-to-five with free evenings and weekends to get her fashion design business back on track. She unearths Les’ s secret bank account and alerts Finn. Freezing of the money laundering account sets off havoc within an Irish gang. Amy witnesses a gang fight between a brutal ISIS fundraising organization and the Irish. Desperate to escape a stalker’s crosshairs, she seeks refuge with Finn. As danger heats up, sparks fly hotter.


Chapter One

“You know I love your sportswear designs, right?”

“I’m glad you do.” Amy Kintyre sat opposite a buyer, none other than Kira Radner, at a coffee shop in Lake Arrowhead, California. This sudden opportunity to re-launch her sportswear designs gave rise to the jitters, and Amy clutched her hands under the table.

Kira pressed her face forward, Amy’s sketches drawn on figures in action poses. With the portfolio spread between them, she flipped it sideways to examine the fabric swatches stapled along the sidebar. Their earthy tones blended with the marred wooden table.

Amy stilled the chatty urge.

“You know your presentation is in two weeks.” Kira was giving her the green light with Recreational Sportswear, Incorporated.

“I appreciate this, Kira.” To get her business back on track, she needed blocks of time to sew mockups. Amy inhaled the spicy aroma of the raw cedar wood. The under-construction décor of wide, timber planks on the walls made her think of her new self. Crazy how thirty felt like seventeen when embracing life and freeing her artistic side.

“Then I beg you,” Kira said, “please, please, please have your product samples ready. Deadline is the first Monday of November.”

“Got it.” Fear over the tight time frame tasted sour in her throat, but this break called like no other.

Kira leaned forward. “Impressive functionality with the shorts. Who would have thought this pocket holds a Swiss Army Knife!” The buyer’s fingertips traced the pick-stitch hem, made with thread matching the fabric, appearing invisible. “Nice detail.”

Amy’s only mock-up kept their face-to-face meeting running like the hum of the fluorescent lights above.

“Oooo,” Kira said and raised both her eyebrows. “Classic nostalgia with a twist. A pocket knife for hikers!”

“Useful, I think.” The bright light flickered over associates who’d worked together in the past, but Amy didn’t share the difficulty of making the deadline. Her breathing shortened, and panic carved a hole in her chest.

“Gotta bounce,” Kira said. “Get to work.”

“I will.” She pulled out a notebook and jotted down a to-do list ending with the file with various size patterns. After a half-hour of regrouping and rethinking, she stopped tapping her pen. Kira Radner took a chance on her, but to turn this chance into a reality, she needed evenings and weekends to make the deadline.

Last Sunday while pouring over Craigslist classifieds, she’d zeroed in on Finbar Donahue’s bookkeeping ad. After her inquiry, his head accountant sent her a message. She still favored the toe she stubbed after her in-box pinged.

Thanks to what happened, the call from Kira, she needed Finn’s job. Her mind raced to her third interview for his nine-to-five. Tomorrow morning, if all went well, she’d land the regular-hours job, tailor made for her time frame. She ran a hand through her hair, picturing the arrogant know-it-all with a never-ending string of women hanging on his arm.

Handsome wasn’t the word to describe Finn, her late, ex-boyfriend’s partner. She’d been around Finbar Donahue enough to know he looked at his world as if he were the Almighty himself. The former Army Ranger made her way too nervous. She tensed up to such an extent, her voice broke.

Romance wasn’t part of this equation. Her dream to launch herself, stitch by stitch, came down to landing the job. On a mission, her goal was simple. She closed her eyes and prayed tomorrow she’d nail it.

Buy It:

[ File # csp7850808, License # 1386192 ] Licensed through in accordance with the End User License Agreement ( (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / Elenathewise
[ File # csp7850808, License # 1386192 ]
Licensed through in accordance with the End User License Agreement (
(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / Elenathewise
How about romantic travel to Lake Arrowhead, California, where Deadly Alliance takes place? Fall colors mix with evergreens around this pristine mountain lake. Bring a picnic basket and rent a pontoon!

Book Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with a sizzling love story sure to melt their hearts. Lily’s Pad and the Intervenus Series: A Brand New Address and Betrayal at Crater’s Edge are sweet. Deadly Alliance and her work-in-progress, Unholy Alliance, are contracted with Tirgearr Publishing and written for adults.

Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels. She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji. Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.

Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write. If you’d enjoy news, sign up for Kathleen’s newsletter at

Find Kathleen online at these sites as well:

Bookshelf 1:1

Today I’m going to start a new feature on this blog that will go through my office bookshelves one by one. I have four bookcases in my office. Three of them have 5 shelves each and another is more a cabinet with some stuff crammed in it, so I’ll do that one last.

Today we’re doing Bookcase 1, Shelf 1 (hence the 1:1). Here is what I have on that shelf:

fullsizerender-7City of Masks by Daniel Hecht
Land of Echoes by Daniel Hecht
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
One Day by David Nicholls
In the Woods by Tana French
The Likeness by Tana French
Ruined by Paula Morris
The Raising by Laura Kasichke
Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger (signed)
Death: At Death’s Door by Jill Thompson
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Truth About Stone Hollow by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Seventh Princess by Nick Sullivan
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Anthology of Children’s Literature (3rd Ed.)

I know some of you are gnashing your teeth and wondering where the other Rick Riordan and Harry Potter books are. Well, most have been appropriated by my 10-year-old son. I let him have the paperbacks. I should probably just forfeit these hardbacks as well and make room on the shelf for the rest of the Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad) and Ben Aaronovitch (Peter Grant series) books. I do own all the Tana French in hardback; they’re stacked on various other of my shelves. I have the first Ben Aaronovitch books on my Kindle but hope to get hard copies one day. A book has to be pretty special these days for me to want to own a physical copy, but the Peter Grant books definitely make the cut.

Then again, I’m not sure why Ruined and The Raising are on this shelf. Not that I didn’t enjoy them; I’m just not sure how they earned pride-of-place in my limited space.

I’ll admit something else. I loved City of Masks but never did read Land of Echoes. I received In the Woods from a publicity firm and loved it, so they sent me The Likeness too, and I’ve been hooked on Tana French ever since. Interred with Their Bones was a Christmas gift, and a librarian friend who is also godmother to my daughter gave me the Anthology of Children’s Literature. And Zilpha Keatley Snyder was a cornerstone of my childhood; I’d still love to get a copy of The Velvet Room. The Seventh Princess was a book I bought at a school book fair when I was very young; it’s falling apart because I read it so often, and now I’ve also read it to my own daughter.

You can see from the photo that my bookshelves also are home to my various collectibles. That blue painted glass is actually an heirloom, one of the few things to survive my great-grandmother’s family’s move from Europe. There used to be two—matching—but my Aunt Toni broke one. The glass is hand painted and more than 100 years old. God help me if we have a big quake…

100 Books

In the wake of David Bowie’s passing, an article about his favorite books began to circulate, and I thought to myself, Could I list 100 favorite books? Well, I tried. The list below is alphabetical, and the criteria was as follows: These were all books that (a) I have read repeatedly, or (b) made an indelible impression on me, often to the point that I think of them regularly, passages from them springing to mind at various moments. And for many of the books here both a and b are true.

You’ll notice some authors turn up on the list again and again while others only have one or two works here. For example, I love all Jane Austen’s novels, but I only listed the ones I think of most often. And I’ve read almost everything by Stephen King, but the two on this list are the only ones by him I’ve read more than once. (I may yet add Bag of Bones and Duma Key to that short list, though, because those two are amazing as well.) In many cases, one work by an author stands largely for entire series, as in the case of Diana Wynne Jones’ Charmed Life.

It’s an odd mix, to be sure. As much of the list is juvenile fiction as adult. Maybe this is because I was more impressionable when I was younger. In a sense the YA fiction on this list fashioned who I am today.

Even still, I found it difficult to come to 100 books. I was stretching towards the end. I’ve read thousands of books, many very good ones, but I find that there are few I consider “favorites.” Very few that I go back to, or that leave a mark on my soul.

You’ll see some poetry here, too, but no plays (excepting Shakespeare). I love theatre, but I feel like that’s a whole other list entirely. I also didn’t get into short stories, the one exception being an essay by James Thurber. I do love Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and I love a lot of Poe (his poetry made this list), but again, it’s just too hard to begin sifting through that stuff.

I did allow for two favorite manga series and one graphic novel, as they all met the criteria above.

What you won’t find: Russian literature or Dickens. I don’t care for either. You also won’t, surprisingly enough, find Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I do re-read his Sherlock Holmes stories fairly regularly, but I couldn’t choose any one collection, so I didn’t choose any. I figure they fall under the short story moratorium anyway.

Each book on this list has some story (har) behind it for me, some special meaning, but to tell them all would take ages. Maybe some other day, on some other post. For now, the list:

Title Author
Amanda’s Choice Isabelle Holland
Anne of Green Gables L. M. Montgomery
August, Die She Must Barbara Corcoran
Band of Angels, A Julian F. Thompson
Blubber Judy Blume
Briar King, The Greg Keyes
Cadbury’s Coffin Glendon Swarthout
Captive Queen Alison Weir
Card Captor Sakura CLAMP
Cemetery Nights Stephen Dobyns
Changeling, The Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Charmed Life Diana Wynne Jones
Collected Poems Edgar Allan Poe
Collected Poems Robert Frost
Dead Zone, The Stephen King
Death on the Nile Agatha Christie
Density of Souls, A Christopher Rice
Dune Frank Herbert
Egypt Game, The Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Epiplectic Bicycle, The Edward Gorey
Exit, Sherlock Holmes Robert Lee Hall
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
Good Omens Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Great Gatsby, The F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gum Thief, The Douglas Coupland
Hamlet William Shakespeare
Haunting of Hill House, The Shirley Jackson
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Douglas Adams
Hobbit, The J. R. R. Tolkien
House at Riverton, The Kate Morton
House of Dies Drear, The Virginia Hamilton
How to Name a Dog James Thurber
Illustrated Man, The Ray Bradbury
In the Woods Tana French
India Fan, The Victoria Holt
Instruments of Darkness Imogen Robertson
Interview with the Vampire Anne Rice
Into the Wild Jon Krakauer
Juliet, Naked Nick Hornby
Jurassic Park Michael Crichton
King and Goddess Judith Tarr
Lassie Come Home Eric Knight
Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Libby on Wednesday Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Lightning Dean Koontz
Little Princess, A Frances Hodgson Burnett
Lovely Bones, The Alice Sebold
Mansfield Park Jane Austen
Memoirs of Cleopatra, The Margaret George
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil John Berendt
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore Robin Sloan
Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro
New Kid on the Block, The Jack Prelutsky
Odyssey, The Homer
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats T.S. Eliot
Once and Future King, The T. H. White
One Day David Nicholls
Other Boleyn Girl, The Philippa Gregory
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great Judy Blume
Persuasion Jane Austen
Practical Magic Alice Hoffman
Prestige, The Christopher Priest
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Pride of the Peacock Victoria Holt
Rebecca Daphne du Maurier
Rivers of London Ben Aaronovitch
Salem’s Lot Stephen King
Secret Garden, The Frances Hodgson Burnett
Secret History, The Donna Tartt
Secret of Gumbo Grove, The Eleanora Tate
Separate Peace, A John Knowles
Seven-Per-Cent Solution, The Nicholas Meyer
Seventh Princess Nick Sullivan
Slapstick Kurt Vonnegut
Superfudge Judy Blume
Supernatural Enhancements, The Edgar Cantero
Talented Mr. Ripley, The Patricia Highsmith
Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing Judy Blume
Talisman of Set, The Sara Hylton
Textual Poaching Henry Jenkins
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story Michael Dibdin
Thorn Birds, The Colleen McCullough
Throne of Isis, The Judith Tarr
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Tokyo Babylon CLAMP
Trouble with Tuck, The Theodore Taylor
Truth About Stone Hollow, The Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Turn of the Screw, The Henry James
Twelfth Night William Shakespeare
Twelve Caesars, The Seutonius
Twilight Eyes Dean Koontz
Velvet Room, The Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Watchers Dean Koontz
Watchmen Alan Moore
Watership Down Richard Adams
What Do You Hear from Walden Pond? Jack Douglas
Where the Red Fern Grows Wilson Rawls
Where the Sidewalk Ends Shel Silverstein
Writer’s Journey, The Christopher Vogler

30-Day Writing Challenge: Day 8

8. A book you love and one you didn’t

I love Watership Down. I mean, I love a lot of books, but when someone asks me to name a book I love, Watership Down is usually the first to spring to mind. I love it enough that I’ve dropped mentions of it into my own writing fairly regularly.

I read Watership Down in sixth grade, and the kids in my very small private school asked me what it was about. So I spent a recess sitting on top of a picnic table telling the story. Pretty soon I’d earned the nickname “Hazel” (sometimes even “Hazel-Rah”), and my friends had all adopted other names from the novel. Games of Watership Down ensued. The boys in our class were, of course, the Efrafans. They would raid our warren, we’d fight back, on and on. Good times.

A book I didn’t love? There are probably as many or more of those than ones I do, but nothing immediately comes to mind. I actually have to think about it. That’s probably a good thing—they’ve shown that it’s healthier to focus on the good than the bad, so when I don’t immediately have a negative response, it means I’m more focused on the good. I’m looking around my office, but naturally I’ve surrounded myself with books I enjoy, so . . . I’ll have to think back to school days. Ah! Les Misérables. Oh my God, I hated that book. We had to read the unabridged version in ninth grade and I thought I would die. I’m also not a huge fan of Dickens. We read Great Expectations around the same time and . . . I thought I would die. Seriously. Ugh. Though I do wonder if I’d like Dickens more now, if maybe I’d better appreciate his work or something. Still, there are too many other things I’d rather read, or re-read (Austen!), that I probably won’t ever bother to pick up Dickens again.