Books I Read 2017

In 2016, I read 3 more books than I did in 2015. Since I’ve complete my Konmari cleaning process, I hope I will have read even more than in 2016. Wish me luck!

  1. The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack 2017 #1 Pick!
    [ A seer from thousands of years ago writing to Semele, warning her with precise timing while she translate it. Time travel in a different way, that is. I’d read it in one go if I had nothing else going on. Great read! ]
  2. Too Lucky to Live (A Somebody’s Bound to Wind Up Dead Mystery 1) by Annie Hogsett
    [ Allie rescues a blind professer who ends up winning the Lotto jackpot for an underprivilaged child, then working together against money hungry bad guys. I love how the voice is a perfect reflection of Allie and the how Hogsett gives us an admirable well-rounded blind character. ]
  3. The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn 2017 #2 Pick!
    [ Jane Austen + Time Travel?!!! Too fantastic I had to read it. Though not a fan of Austen, I love how this book reminds me so much of Austen’s stories. And her solutions to the usual time travel issues are also unique to other time travel stories I’ve read. ]
  4. The Book of Mastery (The Mastery Trilogy 1) channeled by Paul Selig (non-fiction)
    [ The language of the channeled being took some getting use to, but I read the whole thing. Since it’s explaining how the universe works relating to human, it often read like Buddhism made simple. I might go read all of Paul’s channeled books. ]
  5. Brooklyn on Fire (A Mary Handley Mystery 2) by Lawrence H. Levy
    [ Mary now runs her own PI office from the bookstore she works at. Her lastest client’s request brings her more danger, advantures, and romance. ]
  6. Second Street Station (A Mary Handley Mystery 1) by Lawrence H. Levy
    [ Mary Handley was a real person (reminds me of the Constance Amelie Kopps books, also a cop.) I like that Levy weaves in historic figures and events while the story shows twists, it also shows the social conditions. Good read! ]
  7. Zodiac: A Novel by Sam Wilson
    [ Coming from film/TV, Wilson presents his story as movie scenes. This murder mystery is based on a society where the star signs are treated as races. People live with this “star” caste system and what happens in the book is the result of this social condition. Unique and exciting read. ]
  8. The Secret Language of Stones (The Daughters of La Lune) by M. J. Rose
    [ I’m sure it’s a good read for people who have deep love fine and literary arts. I like the progression of the story well enough though. ]
  9. The Burning Page (The Invisible Library Novel 3) by Genevieve Cogman
    [ This series just gets better! ]
  10. The Masked City (The Invisible Library Novel 2) by Genevieve Cogman
    [ Genevieve is great at keeping the pace up, it’s hard to find a break to take a breath. ]
  11. The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library Novel 1) by Genevieve Cogman
    [ This is the first fantasy book that was easy enough for me to read at normal speed. I love the writing style that fits both the story, the worlds, and the characters. There are a lot more to explore than just the plot, reading the 2nd book already. ]
  12. Dead, Bath, and Beyond (Victoria Square Mystery) by Lorraine Bartlett and Laurie Cass
    [ Katie, the owner of an arts and crafts collective shop, tried to solve the murder of her much hated ex-boss. Many suspects, interesting interpersonal interactions and dynamics. ]
  13. The Dangerous Ladies Affair (Book 5 of Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery) by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
    [ Two detectives, two indivisual cases. One is a mystery of threat and murder. The other is the chase of the devious criminal. ]
  14. The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband (An Asperger’s Mystery 2) by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
    [ This is the better than book 1 and 3. I had a feeling who were involved in the murder but I didn’t expect the how and the mastermind. Fun read! ]
  15. The Question of the Missing Head (An Asperger’s Mystery 1) by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
    [ Samuel who turns his Asperger’s personality into a business of answering questions. Also highly recommand The Rosie Project for understanding more about Asperger’s. This book kept me guessing while enjoy the quarks and growth of Samuel. ]

The First Time by Bernadette Pajer

Time travel + Jane Austin + mystery + history, seems an impossible combination but Pajer did it in The First Time.

My #1 Pick for 2016!

I couldn’t put down. I haven’t done that since the Harry Potter days. My urge to know what the main characters will do and if there will be a happily-ever-after overrode my biological needs. If I were a faster reader, I’d finish it in one shot.

Unlike many time travel tales, all the time-related rules/issues where intertwined with the story itself, not explained by breaking the flow of the story. (The other no-questions-left unanswered time-travel novels are Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis.)

I also like that there wasn’t any graphic scenes some romance novels have, it’s healthy to leave room for the imagination. Also, the ways Ivy and Harrison act and think (i.e. not jumping into bed the first chance they got) reinforces their backgrounds, eras, and personalities well.

Besides the romance, I learned some history of South Africa and what it would’ve been like in the early 1900s.

The story resolution was surprising and satisfying, no blazing time-travel story black holes.

If you like The First Time because of the science aspect, I also recommand her earlier works, Professor Bradshaw Mystery series. Bradshow is a professer of electrial engineering at the University of Washington in the early 1900s (when common folks didn’t know much about electricity). He investages many electricity related cases.

Books I Read in 2016

Keeping up with a record of what I read each year, here I go with a new ongoing list for 2016. The count may be even less than last year but I really need to complete my cleaning process.

  1. The Question of the Felonious Friend (An Asperger’s Mystery 3) by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
    [ With his Mom’s encouragement, Samuel turns his Asperger’s personality into a business of answering questions. Like The Rosie Project, I can see some of myself in him. I appriciate learning about Asperger’s while experience Samuel’s “research” process. Going to start from book 1. ]
  2. The Darkness Knows (Viv and Charlie Mystery) by Cheryl Honigford
    [ Set during the golden era of radio, 1938, Chicago. A murder at a radio station. I suspected the murderer early on but did not know the motive, that means I had to read to the end, good trick! ]
  3. Crosstalk by Connie Willis
    [ At first it read like too much “texting” but as I read on, I saw the effect was intentional and carried a lot of hints. I did skip many places near the end, didn’t need the repeated info. Love how Willis is able to fuse the mystic with technology in the plot. Her last books were about WWII and time travel, loved it! ]
  4. Lady Cop Makes Trouble (Kopp Sisters Series 2) by Amy Stewart
    [ Now Constance Amelie Kopps works as a police person, the story tells the struggle of breaking into the male only career. Miss Kopps still manages to solve the case! ]
  5. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d: A Flavia de Luce Novel (Book 8) by Alan Bradley
    [ Flavia came home from Canada, learned that her father was in the hospital. She began to ventur out to London and we also continue to see her grow with age and events in her life. ]
  6. Nemesis by Catherine Coulter
    [ Her 19th FBI thriller, my first of hers. Love the relationship between all characters. This one invovles two cases the main FBI married couple has to work on their own, though they helped each other as well. Might try another one of her books. ]
  7. Deep Dark (Tracers Series 10) by Laura Griffin
    [ This murder mystery invovles the police, white and black head hackers. The romantic relationship plays a major role. Good choice for a romance reader who also wants read a serious mystery. ]
  8. Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters Series 1) by Amy Stewart
    [ A historic fiction, centered on Constance Amelie Kopp, a real person, who with a sherif’s help fought the local silk company boss. ]
  9. The First Time: A Time Travel Romance (The Sunflower Series 1) by Bernadette Pajer #1 Pick!
    [ Amazing flawless time travel romance! I couldn’t put it down, read my review. ]
  10. Cinderella Six Feet Under (A Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery 2) by Maia Chance
    [ This was as fun to read as 1 and 3. Along the way, you grow to know the charaters and develop feelings about them as you would a real person. ]
  11. Snow White Red-Handed (A Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery 1) by Maia Chance
    [ I read the 3rd book first, found this one just as fun, it kept me guessing. It’s interesting to see how Maia weaved the Snow White story into the mystery. ]
  12. Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna (A Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery 3) by Maia Chance
    [ Picked this up from the “interesting read” section at the libaray and it was interesting. Though I haven’t read the first 2 books, the story still works. An important element is based on a fairy tale abut it’s a mystery not a fantasy. Fast paced, no boring parts, good read. ]
  13. The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
    [ I’m usually not one for general fiction but the fast paced and interesting details brought me along to the end. ]
  14. The Forgotten Soldier (Pike Logan Thriller) by Brad Taylor
  15. Gasa-Gasa Girl (Book 2 of Mas Arai Mystery) by Naomi Hirahara
  16. Summer of the Big Bachi (Book 1 of Mas Arai Mystery) by Naomi Hirahara
  17. Snakeskin Shamisen (Book 3 of Mas Arai Mystery) by Naomi Hirahara
    [ Hirahara is amazing, the hero in her story can be 20 something like Ellie Rush or a 70 something gardener, Mas Arai. I enjoyed the mystery while learning some history about Okinawa. ]
  18. Seven Threadly Sins (A Threadville Mystery) by Janet Bolin
    [ I think my taste may have changed. Though the story moves in a good pace, I wanted something different, something with more dimensions. Naomi Hirahara might have spoiled cozy mystery for me… ]
  19. Grave on Grand Avenue (Book 2 of Officer Ellie Rush Mystery) by Naomi Hirahara
    [ Though Ellie is 20 something, I did not feel like an old lady when I read this. Hirahara did a great job writing as a young person and still keep older people on track. ]
  20. Murder on Bamboo Lane (Book 1 of Officer Ellie Rush Mystery) by Naomi Hirahara
    [ My first book from her. Love the fast pace progress, Asian immurgrant culture/conflicts, interesting plot. ]
  21. The Plague of Thieves Affair (Book 4 of Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery) by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
    [ The wife and husband team of mystery writers have done it again. The reason I love reading Marcia Muller is because her series don’t turn boring. This time the detectives work their own cases. I did solve the simplist one quickly but enjoyed the crime solving process all the same. ]
  22. Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders by Julianna Baggott
    [ Mainstream book is usually not my thing but Super Librarian Nancy Pearl suggested it, so I read it. Harriet’s own narrative was the most intriguing and the thread of the book. It calls on you to look beyond your own percecptions of people in your life. There are always more behind the other person, why each one turned out and acted in certain ways. ]
  23. The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet
    [ Once again the English in this fantasy is a hard to understand for me (English is my 2nd language.) So though many said this was a funny book, my struggle only allowed me to enjoy the darker side of the plot. I do like the surprising turns of events and how he uses words (when I can understand them) ]
  24. City of Stairs (The Divine Cities) by Robert Jackson Bennett
    [ Recommended by Super Librarian Nancy Pearl. I usually don’t like fantasy but this one focuses more on human mind and spirituality. Choose to read deeper into it like the main character Shara would looking closer at the reality-miracle confused city. ]

Books I Read in 2015

It looks like I am 3 books short from last years record of 24. As a reader and a writer, I can only aspire to be at Stephen King’s productivity level.

Here is the list of books I’ve read all the way through and it includes some I read, more like studied, for work. Books I gave up reading are not listed.

  1. The Insider Threat (Pike Logan Thriller) by Brad Taylor
    [ This is the 8th Pike Logan novel yet I am still amazed at how Brad manages to take things from many different directions and tide everything up without missing any details. ]
  2. You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter by Dr. Joe Dispenza
    [ I’ve always believed that mind over matters, Dr. Dispenza not only presents scientific evidences, he also offered an user friendly way to make your mind work for you instead letting your aimless mind live your life. POINT: brain-emotion-physical connection. Non-fiction. Recommand! ]
  3. The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne
    [ The main character, Melissa, opened her own personal “adviser/shopper” business as Honey and helped many clueless male clients. I loved her business ideas and struggles between being Mel and Honey. Fast pace, twist, and funny. Observation: this English author writes almost like an American. ]
  4. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
    [ Fun to read an Australian novel, different wording but closer to US English than British English. Love the tension and suspense in waiting to see what the characters might do though not the usual material I’m interested in, marriage, old-relationship, motherhood, etc. ]
  5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (人生がときめく片づけの魔法) by Marie Kondo (近藤麻理恵)
    [ It CHANGED my life as promised. I felt better on the 2nd day of cleaning my cloth out (read KonMari related posts.) In her Japanese videos, she said to just try it even if you don’t believe it. I didn’t need to, it made perfect since to me. I have so much stuff, I’m only up to the document category after 1.5 months into it, but I know I have to do it right so I will never have to do it again. ]
  6. Lair of Dreams: A Diviners Novel (2) by Libba Bray
    [ It’s a thick book but Libba didn’t let the middle fall flat. I love how she strings words together like an artist with beads. I do recommend reading the two books together. I waited so long for the 2nd book I forgot most of the 1st one. ]
  7. The Agency 4: Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee
    [ If you are new to The Agency Series, read The Agency 3 review. Lee writes great characters, even though I had guessed the plot, I still wanted to know how each person would react as the story progress. And I love how she weaved history, race issues, and mystery together. ]
  8. The Intern’s Handbook: A John Lago Thriller (1) by Shane Kuhn
    [ John Lago is an trained assassin who found himself as he finishes his last assignment. Lots of twists in the book, good use of words. Found it a bit screenplay-ish which does works in this novel. ]
  9. A Discovery of Witches: All Souls Trilogy (1) by Deborah Harkness
    [ Interesting concept of uniting witches, vampires, and demons, like nations on Earth should. However, I wasn’t interest in parts of book about wines and European/religious history, took much effort to finish this thick book. ]
  10. Survive the Unthinkable: A Total Guide to Women’s Self-Protection by Tim Larkin
    [ Read as part of my research, found his Target Focus Training makes most sense among other women self defense books. He asks you to become more aware in the first place and for women to take the power back from their attackers. ]
  11. Edison Effect: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery (4) by Bernadette Pajer
    [ Wow, this is the best Bradshaw case yet, Professor grew into a modern man and I didn’t guess the actual murderer. ]
  12. Capacity for Murder: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery (3) by Bernadette Pajer
    [ Bernadette is getting better and better, the relationships between people are getting deeper and the plot is even more interesting than the the first two books. ]
  13. Fatal Induction: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery (2) by Bernadette Pajer
    [ Perfect series for engineers who want to read for clean fun, I had guessed the ending early for the first book (A Spark of Death). This one is more complex and has more interesting science and history. ]
  14. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley
    [ Flavia left home for the first time, she has to survive in the all girls boarding school and solve a mystery at the same time. All the while, she realizes she misses her sister and how she turns out to be much like her mother who she never really knew. ]
  15. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella.
    [ Best romance novel I’ve read so far (No sappy romance for me, thx!). It’s funny and it has depth. As we discover the characters, we also discover the plot. The story runs on constant warp speed so I’ll need to read a few other books until I can read another one of her books. ]
  16. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine.
    [ A perfect book for people who love their sisters. A reminder of how we help each other survive. (read my review) ]
  17. The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman Book 2) by Graeme Simsion
    [ Though the 2nd “Rosie” book didn’t hit me as hard, it’s fun to see the struggles in a relationship during a pregnancy. To me, though Don has issues with reading emotions, I think all expected mothers will encounter as many problems as Rosie. And it seems if people can be honest with each other without taking it personally, everything might work out sooner and easier. ]
  18. The Rosie Project (Don Tillman Book 1) by Graeme Simsion (Must Read)
    [ The best self-help book I’ve ever read and its a ROM-COM fiction! I see so much of myself in Don, I am applying what he learned in my own life. Read my reactions in 3 parts. ]
  19. No Fortunate Son (Pike Logan Thriller) by Brad Taylor
    [ Brad as skillful as before, begins the story with multiple threads, with actors in each thread serving for their own interest (as they logically should), created hit and miss for the heros Pike and Jennifer. ]
  20. Son (4 of 4 in The Giver Quartet) by Lois Lowry
    [ Written a while back but still reflects the negative side of human nature that is still true today. The conclusion offers one way to see the evil, also a way to resolve it. ]
  21. The Body Snatchers Affair (Book 3 of Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery) by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
    [ The wife and husband team of mystery writers are at work again. Of the two cases, I managed to solve the first one pretty early on. The thread though out this series is the relationship between the two detectives. Being written by a real life couple, the ups and downs between them ring true. ]

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club If you have sisters (or sister-friends) you would protect with all of your fierceness, I recommend The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine.

The selfless actions of Jo, the oldest girl, moved me to tears by reminding me of how I am protected and how I watch over the younger ones. When all the girls were forced to seize their freedom, we began to see what they are made of. And in the end, we know they were survivors, they gained their freedom and found their true-selves.

Jo, however, needed to adjust to the revelations that her sisters were much more than she thought and no longer the little kids to hover over. They each have the talents and capabilities to make their own ways. This was the lesson I’ve learned a while back.

And because of that, I no longer dispense unsolicited advice. Beside the fact that it was only a bad habit to boost my ego (thinking that I know better how to live their lives than they do), I also would never suffer the consequences of my weightless words.

Now I trust my love ones to make their own ways. I believe they have the wisdoms to be their best selves and are smart enough to ask for help when necessary.

Genevieve painted a world long ago but touched a part of something everlasting. Read this for the sisterhood. Read it with your sisters.

The Rosie Project: More Than A Book Review (3 of 3)

(continued from part 2)

The Rosie Project paperbackHow will I change after meeting Don Tillman?

  • Acknowledge my own improvements

    Don always notice it when he did something better or new and I hope to do the same for myself.

    Instead of feeling anxious and guilty when I can’t work on my books, I will give myself credits for every book I read and every piece I wrote, project related or not.

    Being someone who could not pass English in junior high, anything I do in English is an achievement.

  • Changing in behavior is not equal to changing as a person

    I don’t yet know how to implement this but realized it as something crucial for interpersonal relationships.

100 stars out of 5

Who’d ever thought reading a rom-com would change my life more than any self-help book. (This is how I want my book to do for my readers, by the way) I learned more about myself, about the Asperger’s syndrome and not having to be drenched in sadness and conflicts but in the interaction and growth between the in the characters. All the while being carried along by the romance and the mystery.

100 stars for The Rosie Project, given as a human being and as a writer.

The Rosie Project: More Than A Book Review (2 of 3)

(continued from part 1)

The Rosie Project paperbackWhat I learned from Don Tillman

Later on in the book, Don began to adjust to the change by shifting to a “new mind configuration”, like from the scheduling mode to the adaptability mode, and that is how he is able to experience a fuller life.

As a super nervous traveler, trips is full of the unknown, I am encouraged to shift into the “fearless adventurer mode” for my next trip. I want to use my energy to enjoy the time with my companions and not waste it on my irrational worries.

And for things I did not plan for… How will I know I’m in the wrong mode? When I feel frustrated.

I’ve known it’s not helpful to add negative emotion during problem solving. With this method, it is now a concrete step to help me execute the solution with efficiency and without the self-imposed turmoil.

That means things may change but I now know how to shift into peace.

Other traits I share with Don Tillman

(Don Tillman wouldn’t think of writing this review without at least one list)

  • I value directness

    Though I might be better at reading social cues and capable of using flowering language, I much rather not having to guess or having others guess the meaning of what’s said. It seems a waste of time and energy.

  • Socially challenged

    In 6th grade, my classmates called me weird. I was aware that I am not like others but never thought it was a problem. Come to think of it, I did not have many friends then.

    In junior high, by accident, I became the class clown on several occasions.

  • My intensity is misinterpreted as mania

    I am curious by nature and love asking people unusual questions. Sometimes my intense interest scare people away.

  • Solving issues by books/research

    I, too, tend to go for books or do research when I encounter a problem. Even when it’s related to spirituality and mental wellbeing which might be better solved by going through experiences.

    Over the years, I was lucky enough to add intuition and self awareness to my toolbox.

  • Living by projects
  • When I have a goal, I plan the steps necessary, then set out to finish each no matter how long it takes. I didn’t not know before reading this book but I was living by projects.

    Right now I have:

    • A book project (a soft sci-fi fiction)
    • A metaphysical project (for evidence of a Buddhist belief that mind creates all and as related to the “observer effect” in quantum physics)
    • Cooking projects (retry on various steam buns and thin-style dumpling skin)

(more reactions to reading The Rosie Project)

The Rosie Project: More Than A Book Review (1 of 3)

The Rosie Project“A romantic comedy, a mystery, and an entertaining teaching aid all rolled into one” is an gross understatement of what The Rosie Project (by Graeme Simsion) turned out to be for me.

Other than the occasional itches, I haven’t been reading many romance novels. When my sister recommended this book, I had confirmed its quality by the super long waiting list at the library and decided that it’s likely that I won’t be waiting my life. And that is exactly what Don Tillman, the hero of the book, would do in my situation.

Could I have Asperger’s, too?

I was astonished to find out how many traits I share with Don, such as the dislike of time waster, inefficiency, and lack of planning. And I always have a project or two on hand and the one-track mind to get them done. At some point in the book, I understood the reasons behind all the weird looks I have gotten so far in my life.

Digitized drama queen

Unlike Don, I was a drama queen as a child but some how it was stamped out of me along the way. Perhaps it was the pressure to measure up to more successful peers or the stress to survive in a strange land with a new language, my mind had installed virtual mechanical gears into my head and keeps me on zeros and ones most of the time. In fact, I learned to code before I could communicate in English. It can not be a coincident that Don Tillman’s first career attempt was with computer, too.

Somehow, when my super emotional, unorganized, learned by whatever made sense to me methods was no longer acceptable, logic and discipline became the tools I utilized to earned a college degree and my first career. The same tools have served me well in my life but the awareness of the need to change and grow has always remained. And that is what led me to the design field and now as a writer.

Coping with the unexpected

Writing a book, as I had expected, turned out to be a long-term project. I didn’t and still can’t read fast enough to make me the best selling author of the next month and in my case, it might take years but I was ready for it.

What I didn’t expect was life’s many interruptions that doesn’t allow me to be rigid with my schedule. The unpredictable work requests, the needs to care for others, all the real-world responsibilities had turned me into the time waster I detest. I was frustrated and stressed out because nothing (an exaggeration, obviously) seemed to go according to my plan to finish my novel.

Don schedules everything down to the minute and enjoys the peaceful and predictable outcome like I’d like my life to be. Though he was flexible enough to change his plans for the unexpected, he also needed time to let the stress of making the adjusted out of his system.

My symptoms for not having the “flushing out” period results in agitations and anger spikes, then all added up to a complete burn-out, which seemed more pronounced as my expiration date gets closer. The fact that I don’t know when that would come only adds to the urgency.

(more reactions to reading The Rosie Project)

Books I Read in 2014

Here are the books I’ve read all the way through and it includes some I read, more like studied, for work. Books I gave up reading are not listed.

  1. Messenger (3 of 4) in The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
    [ Though it was a shorter book compared to the first two, it was more powerful. As I read it, I couldn’t help but reflect on the current state of things on Earth. ]
  2. Gathering Blue (2 of 4) in The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
    [ Lowry doesn’t need big action scene to keep you reading, my concern for the main character rushed me to get to the next page. Her stories are powered by her intention to show us how we may choose to live. ]
  3. The Giver (1 of 4) in The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
    [ This is a book that requires your full attention, otherwise you’d lost the subtle and thoughtful messages. An image of a full restaurant full of screen-backlight-lit faces comes to mind. ]
  4. An Instrument of Slaughter: (Home Front Detectives) by Edward Marston
    [ I did not like this as much as Five Dead Canaries (newer in this series). For some reason it seems more wordy than I’d like but my schedule was pretty full… ]
  5. Days of Rage (Pike Logan Thriller) by Brad Taylor
    [ It still amazes me how Brad could thread so many different things together to tell a complete story. ]
  6. The Night Searchers (A Sharon McCone Mystery) by Marcia Muller
    [ McCone is the one series that I have not gotten tired of. My writing skill seems to improve every time I read her book. ]
  7. The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson
    [ Like the friendship between the two detectives, appreciates the absent of overly graphic scenes. Interesting Sci-Fi idea. ]
  8. Monster’s Chef: A Novel by Jervey Tervalon
    [ The characters in the book are confused but the author is not. I did not like the craziness in them but still wanted to know how the hero got out of it. Quick and interesting read. ]
  9. Five Dead Canaries (Home Front Detectives) by Edward Marston
    [ Plenty of twists and turns. Love learning about WWI England via the people and places in the book. Did not like the choice of the murderer, seemed out of the blue somehow. ]
  10. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King.
    [ The short stories here are dark, as title had promised. Too dark for me. The writing is great though. ]
  11. I Think I Love You by Stephanie Bond
    [ Great read! Well built, interesting characters and their relationships. Well threaded clues, real and false, with twists that kept me turning the pages. A romance mystery that will stay with you for a while after you put it down. ]
  12. Wired by Douglas E. Richards
    [ Love the bio-engeering base plot, interesting characters. Though I’m still a newbie writer, I noticed my reading was interrupted by uses of adverbs and other writing issues. ]
  13. After Life by Rhian Ellis
    [ Though I didn’t like the moodiness of the characters, I was still drawn to get to the end–sign of a skilled writer! ]
  14. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley
    [ I’ve read every book in the series and it’s getting even better. Flavia intrigued me when she, at age 11, plotted to poison her sisters using her self-tought chemistry skills. ]
  15. Cathedral of Dreams by Terry Persun
    [ Can’t seem to get into it, not a reflection to the writing, may just not be the book for me. ]
  16. Hollow City (2nd in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series) by Ransom Riggs
    [ The children risk everything to save their caretaker while avoiding WWII bomings and their own hunters. Even better than the 1st book. ]
  17. The Polaris Protocol (Pike Logan Thriller) by Brad Taylor
    [ Still amazed by Brad’s skill in threading so many things into one satisfying ending. ]
  18. The time keeper by Mitch Albom
    [ Only literary fiction I’ve ever finished, simple words, deep meaning. ]
  19. Don’t make me think by Steve Krug
    [ Work–designing web sites for the best user experience. ]
  20. Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children (1st in the series) by Ransom Riggs
    [ Fantasy in WWII setting, no flat characters here! ]
  21. The widow’s strike (Pike Logan Thriller) by Brad Taylor
    [ Love every book in the series, first read for character research. ]
  22. The marriage trap by Jennifer Probst
    [ Romance, warm, funny, moving, read for stress relief. ]
  23. The burglar in the library (Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries) by Lawrence Block
    [ Funny with interesting heros. ]
  24. Crashed (Junior Bender Mystery) by Timothy Hallinan
    [ Junior Bender is a thief AND a good guy?!}

On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen KingA friend recommended On Writing by Stephen King after I shared my challenge with plotting out the rest of my first book. Though I never read any of his books, I know he must be pretty good to keep his readers asking for more.

He shared two things that surprised me the most.

He is a slow reader

Since English is not my first language, I’ve always thought being a slow reader is one of the main reason why I may not ever be a good writer. I guess he just kicked the crutch I’ve been using to drag myself down.

He reads for the fun

Almost all the writing books tell me to “study” other books for the plot structures or the writing techniques. Something I could never do. If the book is good, I just want to read it, If the book is uninteresting, I’d stop to save myself time for work or another book. It’s good to know Stephen King, a great writer, reads for fun, too.

Some reviewers of this book did not like that Stephen spent good part of the book on his life journey to be the writer he is today, instead of going straight into the how-to-write part. I thought it is good to remind people to look further back than his successful career.