Saturday, January 23, 2016

Just Added A Retro-Look 50s Shower Curtain To My Zazzle Store

Yeah, it's a shower curtain.  Isn't it quirky?  I love it.  I may have to buy one for myself.
I took vintage 50s commercial art that Dad drew for a hardware company ad and had it scanned at the highest resolution the camera store offered.  Dad thinks it's fun that we're using his old artwork on Zazzle, so I have his full permission to do this. :)
Thus, if you have a hankering for a unique touch for your mid-century modern look bathroom -- or if you just like the lovely lady with the dangling earrings -- you can zip over to my Zazzle store and buy one of these.
Just click here.

Monday, January 4, 2016

What Happens When Voters Become Educated On The Issues

Every year, I take my 9th grade core classes through two essay-writing experiences, one each semester.
This year, our district provided Chromebooks for each English class, so researching had to include using the new devices.
As we have an election coming up, I decided to have their 1st semester essay topic be "Who would make the best US President in 2016?"  Now that the semester is drawing to a close and the assignment is all but over (although I will still be accepting late essays until this Friday), I thought I'd blog about some surprises I got along the way.
I teach in a working class area.  Most such areas in Utah are highly conservative and highly Republican.  I really and truly expected to have to grade a whole bunch of essays extolling the virtues of Donald Trump.
I set up the assignment by explaining to the kids that in 2012, a lot of people voted for or against Obama or Romney based on skin color or religion.  I told them I hoped they would learn how foolish that was as they researched for their own essays.  I also reminded them that, while they cannot vote in 2016, they will be old enough for the 2020 election.
The kids were assigned to choose three "hot topics" they considered important: education, immigration, women's rights, gun rights/gun control, taxes, transportation, military issues.  I modeled for them how to begin at a given neutral website listing all candidates from all parties, instructing them that they must research four candidates from at least two parties.  Each day, I chose a different candidate's website and a different hot topic to model.  Other than telling the kids that I didn't think Trump's ideas were very practical, I was very careful not to let my own political preferences show; I merely showed the kids how to find information, how to take notes, how to construct the essay.
The results were almost entirely surprising.
I assumed they'd mostly write about Trump, as he was the only candidate of whom they'd heard, and it was clear that many of their parents were impressed by Trump.  I assumed no one would write about taxes (that turned out to be right), I assumed the Republican essays would "win" by a landslide, I assumed a sizable percentage of the kids would opt not to "vote" by not doing their essays (that was correct), I assumed no boys would write about women's rights and that no one would touch the abortion issue, I assumed many girls would go for Fiorina, as the Republican female choice, I assumed their would be much verbal abuse of Hillary.
My first surprise came when kids began to discover that Fiorina's website was useless.  They got mad that it said nothing about her positions on the issues.  Kids resented that she had nothing to say.
Not a single student in either class wrote about Fiorina.
My next surprise was how mad kids got when a few candidates dropped out; kids were miffed when they'd liked what the candidates said and then couldn't use it.
But the biggest surprise of all came when kids finished the research and began to write their essays.  Let me show you the results:
As of this writing, only 31 essays I have been handed in.  That's less than half of the students, although I expect at least five or six more kids will hand things in this week.  This part is no surprise; many kids are just plain lazy.
Of the 31, the "votes" were as follows:

Chris Christie: 1
Ben Carson: 2
Marco Rubio: 1
Bernie Sanders: 4
Hillary Clinton: 23

I was stunned.  As the kids researched, I thought Carson would be the favorite, as he's conservative, Republican, and has an easy-to-use website.  But it was Clinton by a landslide.
Most of the kids chose gun issues, healthcare, immigration, and either women's rights or education as their hot topics.  Hillary has a lot to say on those issues, and the kids -- even though most of them are very pro-gun rights -- thought she made sense.
And not a single kid who did the assignment even took notes on Trump.  One look at his website, and they saw how silly his ideas were.
Also, I tallied up women's issues:

Kids who wrote about women's rights:
Girls: 11
Boys: 4
Kids who wrote about abortion rights:
Girls: 3
Boys: 2
Kids who were anti-abortion:
Girls: 0
Boys: 0

(Keep in mind that I only helped kids understand what they were reading.  I helped them pick out things like women's pay, healthcare, etc.  If a candidate was indeed talking about abortion, it was often hard for the kids to grasp it through the rhetoric, so I would indicate what it really meant, and then tell the kids they could choose to agree or not.  I never told them what I thought about the issue.)

Things that did not surprise me: I had only 48% "voter" turn out and guns and immigration were of big interest to my students.
Things that did surprise me: Kids who had been pre-disposed toward ultra-conservatism and Republicans, once they actually researched the issues, found the less-extreme Democrat candidate to be the most appealing.

I thought I'd be reading about Trump.  I ended up reading about Hillary Clinton.
I could not be more pleased -- unless more kids had actually done the work.  :D

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Book Review & Rant: Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom (Or What Happens When Authors Haven't Been In A School In A Decade)

Because I got it in my December Uppercasebox subscription, the first book I read in 2016 was Eric Lindstrom's Not If I See You First, a YA romance with a blind protagonist named Parker.

I was excited to read it, but I ended up rather disappointed.  It's filled with stereotypes of what men think teenage girls are like and want guys to be like and how adults picture teen bullies.  It's also clear that while Lindstrom "researched" by talking to adults at the Braille society, he never bothered to talk to real teenagers who are blind -- or their friends or their public school teachers.
In 2011, I ranted about authors who assume high school is like it was when they attended.
I did it again in 2015,  with further comments here and here.
Now it's time to do it again.
Authors, if you're going to write about teenagers and school, you need to know what school is like in the contemporary world.
Mr. Lindstrom, if you're going to write about a blind teenager in 2015, you should talk to a few.
At our school, we've had a blind wrestling coach for years.  We've had 3 blind students during the years that I've taught at the school, all boys.  The first one also had developmental problems and was never in regular classes.  But last year we had 2 boys in almost entirely regular classes; one of them was my student.  And I can promise you, Mr. Lindstrom, that boy would laugh at some of the stuff you created -- because it's so wrong.
Let me go back to addressing the readers rather than the writers.
Lindstrom has 16-year-old Parker assigned a student buddy ALL DAY LONG, even though she's attended the school for two years and is fiercely independent.  No way.  No administration would put that kind of burden on a kid.  Parents would sue.  It's absurd.
What really happens is that a paraprofessional is hired -- if needed; every kid is different -- but teachers and students work it out in their own classrooms.  My blind student last year had two seeing students with whom he preferred to work in my class when possible.  During tests and for homework, however, the paraprofessional took over.
Also, Lindstrom seems to be unaware of technology.  Parker uses text-to-speech on her phone, but she does not have a Braille writer for taking notes in class nor any kind of recording device.  Again, this forces other kids to have to tutor her.  This is not reality.
Lindstrom does not have any counselor or special ed teacher or administrator ever checking up on Parker.  No adult seems to know that her father has died.  No meetings are held planning her education and modifications.  No teacher seems to modify anything for her.  No teacher notices when Parker has a meltdown in the commons area and then she and her friends sluff school all day in a massive drama queen party.  No one notifies Parker's aunt (her legal guardian).   This is beyond absurd.
Special needs students have files and are assigned SPED teachers as file holders.  Their progress is monitored; teachers are contacted as often as necessary and parents meet with them at least quarterly.  A student who has a major meltdown would be emailed news to all concerned teachers within minutes.  That student -- special needs or not -- would be with her/his counselor, the parent or guardian contacted, and friends calmed within a few minutes of the meltdown.  Students who bolted from school in emotional crises would be located by the school police and their parents contacted.  All teachers of a student who had lost a parent just before school started would be notified and asked to watch out for emotional needs.  (Yes, I've had several students lose parents over the years.)
Also, Lindstrom has the jock bullies pick on Parker so her love interests can rescue her.  It happens right by her locker.  This is unbelievable.
First of all, it has been uncool for years to pick on the physically handicapped.  Only once in my long years of teaching have I seen a physically handicapped kid get picked on (a wheelchair user -- and every other kid present came to his defense within seconds).  Bullies pick on the emotionally sensitive or mentally slower rather than the physically challenged.  And schools in the post-millenium world have security cameras.  No bully is going to go on camera doing stuff as obvious as what happens in this book.
Do I recommend this book?  Sort of.  It's mostly a romance; if you enjoy high school romances, this might be for you.  (Note: there's no sex or violence, but there's a lot of swearing, if that offends you.)  The characters are fairly stereotyped, although Parker herself has a bit more depth.  The pacing is good. And the book has been edited, which is always a plus.
If you're not a school teacher or a student yourself, the Hollywood version of high school might not bother you as much as it did me.
Give the book a try.  You might like it.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

"Professional" Editing

There are SO many books out there that haven't been edited!  The problem is that most of these published first drafts are self-published, and that makes it hard for us other self-published writers to lure potential readers; discriminating readers want edited books, so they avoid ones they believe will be unedited.
As an English teacher who writes, I am extremely picky about editing my own work.  I re-read, revise, edit, and copy edit my manuscripts numerous times before they go out to beta readers.  Then I do it again before they go to my alpha reader/editor, who is another English teacher.  She rips the manuscripts apart and gleefully pens comments everywhere.  I love getting my stuff back from her; she's amazingly thorough and merciless. :D  Then I edit/revise AGAIN.  This means that by the time I release my self-published books out to the world, they've been edited at least a dozen times.
This is why it irks me when traditionally published books which have been "professionally edited and copy edited" are released with glaring errors.  I'm not talking about the occasional typo; I'm talking about "editors" who never passed 7th grade English.
For example, I love Paige Shelton's books, but her editors and copy editors have no freakin' clue what pronouns come after "than" used as a subordinating conjunction, and half the time, they think "alright" is a word.  (It isn't.  Neither is "alot.")
Of course, that's copy editing, which is essentially checking for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.  But what happens when you get a "professional" editor who's useless?  You get a confused reader; that's what.
Recently, I read Andrew Hunt's City of Saints, which is an LDS historical mystery.  I really liked the book, but I had to laugh at how profusely in the acknowledgement section Hunt thanked the editing team at St. Martin's Press, saying how much care they'd put into editing.  No, they didn't.  Let me explain.
In the opening paragraph of chapter 2 on page 10, Hunt gives some backstory about his protagonist in 1st person POV, claiming that in 1904, "Dad" purchased land and "just days before my birth, moved the family" into the home described.  At the end of the same paragraph, however, the protagonist says, "I was weeks away from turning thirteen when an unknown assailant.... killed him .... in 1914."
If the kid was born in 1904, how did he get to be 12 -- almost 13 -- in 1914?
Very early in chapter 7, on pages 59-60, the protagonist has a nightmare.  Hunt has him say, "I am twelve years old, about to turn thirteen.  It is 1914 again."  But six sentences later, Hunt has the protagonist wake, saying, "I am no longer eleven.  I am twenty-nine and it is 1930."
If he's 29 in 1930, then he was born in 1901, not 1904, and he was therefore not 11 in 1914.
Elsewhere in the book, Hunt has the protagonist's mother always serve Sunday dinner at 6:00 -- except in the one scene where she serves it at 6:30 for no apparent reason.
Also, in City of Saints, the protagonist's wife is an English teacher.  In the sequel, a Killing in Zion, she's a music teacher.
For this crappy editing, someone got PAID?  Seriously?
This makes me mad as an English teacher, but it makes me doubly mad as a self-published writer whose works are often ignored for fear they haven't been edited.

Friday, January 1, 2016

What I Read And What I Rejected In 2015

Once again, mysteries are my favorite genre, coming in at 66/129 or 51%.  No surprises there.
My goal was to read 130 books this year.  If you just look at the main list, then I didn't quite make it.  But if you count my re-readings/revisions of my own manuscripts, then I passed my goal.

Here's the main list:

  1. Armoires and Arsenic by Cassie Page **** cozy 1/3/15
  2. In the Wake of the Plague by Norman Cantor ** prejudiced, condescending non-fiction 1/4/15
  3. 1603 by Christopher Lee *** non-fiction 1/12/15
  4. As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust by Alan Bradley **** cozy 1/14/15
  5. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie **** mystery 1/16/15
  6. Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills **** MG realistic fiction 1/27/15
  7. The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp *** YA historical paranormal 1/30/15
  8. Crafting a Meaningful Home by Meg Mateo Ilasco *** non-fiction, crafts 1/31/15
  9. Crafty Chica’s Guide to Artful Sewing by Kathy Cano Murillo *** non-fiction, crafts 1/31/15
  10. The Secret of Terror Castle by Robert Arthur *****MG mystery 2/6/15
  11. Dorm Room Decor by Smith and Gonzalez ** non-fiction, crafts 2/6/15
  12. The Christmas Book by Council Oak Books ** non-fiction, crafts 2/7/15
  13. Recreative by Steve Dodds ** non-fiction, crafts 2/7/15
  14. Bowled Over by Victoria Hamilton *** cozy mystery 2/8/15
  15. Fabric Memory Books by Lesley Riley **** non-fiction, crafts 2/9/15
  16. The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot by Robert Arthur *****MG mystery 2/10/15
  17. The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy by Robert Arthur ***** MG mystery 2/11/15
  18. The Mystery of the Green Ghost by Robert Arthur ***** MG mystery 2/12/15
  19. The Case of the Vanishing Treasure by Robert Arthur ***** MG mystery 2/12/15
  20. Prophet’s Prey by Sam Brower ***** non-fiction (FLDS) 2/13/15
  21. The Secret of Phantom Lake by Robert Arthur ***** MG mystery 2/13/15
  22. No Mallets Intended by Victoria Hamilton *** cozy mystery 2/15/15
  23. Bran New Death by Victoria Hamilton *** cozy mystery 2/17/15
  24. Muffin But Murder by Victoria Hamilton *** cozy mystery 2/18/15
  25. The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison ***** mystery 2/21/15
  26. Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith ***** paranormal A/A 3/2/15
  27. Stitching Snow by RC Lewis *** YA sci-fi 3/8/15
  28. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black **** YA fantasy 3/9/15
  29. A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas *** YA fantasy 3/11/15
  30. Charisma by Jeanne Ryan *** sort of sci-fi YA romance 3/12/15
  31. The Secret of Skull Island by Robert Arthur ***** MG mystery 3/12/15
  32. Prudence by Gail Carriger more or less YA steampunk paranormal 3/21/15
  33. The Mystery of the Fiery Eye by Robert Arthur *****MG mystery 3/23/15
  34. A Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina **** self-pub YA steampunk 3/25/15
  35. The Victorian Home by Judith Flanders ***** non-fiction 3/28/15
  36. Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Pamela Hill Smith, ed) **** non-fiction 4/4/15
  37. The Secret of the Silver Spider by Robert Arthur ***** MG mystery 4/8/15
  38. The Mystery of the Purple Pirate by ?? ***** MG mystery 4/9/15
  39. The Polygamous Wives Writing Club by Paula Kelly Harline *** non-fiction 4/11/15
  40. The Secret of the Crooked Cat by ?? ***** MG mystery 4/12/15
  41. The Mystery of the Magic Circle by Arden ***** MG mystery 4/14/15
  42. The Mystery of the Shrinking House by William Arden ***** MG mystery 4/14/15
  43. The Mystery of Monster Mountain by ***** MG mystery 4/16/15
  44. The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints by MV Carey *****MG mystery 4/18/15
  45. The Taking by Kimberly Derting *** YA sci-fi 4/20/15
  46. The Mystery of the Dead Man’s Riddle by William Arden ***** MG mystery 4/20/15
  47. The  Mystery of the Rogues’ Reunion by Marc Brandel ***** MG mystery 4/21/15
  48. The Mystery of the Missing Mermaid by MV Carey ***** MG mystery 4/22/15
  49. The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon by Nick West ***** MG mystery 4/23/15
  50. The Mystery of the Talking Skull by Robert Arthur ***** MGmystery 4/26/15
  51. The Mystery of Death Trap Mine by MV Carey ***** MG Mystery 4/27/15
  52. The Mystery of the Blazing Cliffs by   ***** MG mystery 4/27/15
  53. The Mystery of the Two Toed Pigeon by Marc Brandel ***** MG mystery 4/28/15
  54. The Mystery of the Smashing Glass by William Arden ***** MG mystery 4/29/15
  55. The Mystery of the Scar Faced Beggar by MV Carey ***** MG mystery 4/30/15
  56. The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow by MV Carey ***** MG mystery 5/1/15
  57. All Four Stars by Tara Dairman ***** MG realistic 5/3/15
  58. The Mystery of the Headless Horse by W. Arden ***** 5/5/15
  59. The Mystery of the Kidnapped Whale by Marc Brandel ***** 5/6/15
  60. The Mystery of the Moaning Cave by Willaim Ardn ***** 5/9/15
  61. The Mystery of the Creep Show Crooks by MV Carey ***** 5/9/15
  62. The Secret of Shark Reef by William Arden ***** 5/10/15
  63. Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare ***** (1st period) drama 5/11/15
  64. The Mystery of the Deadly Double by William Arden ***** 5/11/15
  65. The Mystery of the Dancing Devil by William Arden 5/12/15
  66. Time Travel Trailer by Karen Nortman *** chicklit 5/12/15
  67. Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare ***** (3rd period) drama 5/13/14
  68. The Mystery of Wreckers’ Rock by William Arden MG mystery ***** 5/14/15
  69. Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare ***** (5th period) drama 5/14/15
  70. Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare ***** (8th period) drama 5/14/15
  71. The Mystery of the Wandering Caveman ***** by MV Carey MG mystery 5/15/15
  72. The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo **** non-fiction 5/18/15
  73. The Mystery of the Trail of Terror by MV Carey *** MG mystery 5/19/15
  74. The Mystery of the Nervous Lion by Nick West ***** MG mystery 5/21/15
  75. The Mystery of the Cranky Collector by MV Carey ***** MG mystery 5/23/15
  76. A Dollhouse To Die For by Cate Price *** cozy mystery 5/24/15
  77. Green Living Can Be Deadly by Staci McLaughlin *** 5/26/15
  78. The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret Sullivan ***** non-fiction, humor 5/28/15
  79. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason *** YA steampunk paranormal time-travel 6/1/15
  80. A Bushel Full of Murder by Paige Shelton ***** cozy 6/4/15
  81. Dark Chocolate Demise by Jenn McKinlay *** cozy 6/6/15
  82. Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly **** cozy 6/8/15
  83. Fire Engine Dead by Sheila Connolly **** cozy 6/11/15
  84. Let’s Play Dead by Sheila Connolly **** cozy 6/13/15
  85. The Vampire Book: the legends, the lore, the allure. *** non-fiction 6/15/15
  86. How To Be A Vampire by Amy Gray *** non-fiction 6/16/15
  87. Monument to the Dead by Sheila Connolly *** cozy 6/18/15
  88. Razing the Dead by Sheila Connolly *** cozy 6/19/15
  89. Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock ***** non-fiction 6/20/15
  90. Thor Heyerdahl In Brief by ? ***** non-fiction 6/29/15
  91. Bryggen Guide Book by ? ***** non-fiction 7/3/15
  92. Santa Cruise by Mary Higgens Clark *** cozy 7/5/15
  93. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee ***** (3rd? time -- at least) historical fiction 7/9/15
  94. The Mystery of the Singing Serpent by MV Carey ***** MG mystery 7/17/15
  95. The Mystery of the Invisible Dog by MV Carey *** MG mystery 7/19/15
  96. How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Steven Marche *** non-fiction 7/15/15
  97. Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudson **** YA paranormal 7/29/15
  98. A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil McGregor non-fiction ***** 8/8/15
  99. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee ***** historical 8/10/15
  100. Uprooted by Naomi Novik ***** YA Fantasy 8/15/15
  101. The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman ***** MG realistic 8/21/15
  102. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George ***** YA paranormal 8/24/15
  103. The Agency: Rivals in the City by YS Lee MG/YA mystery **** 9/2/15
  104. The Cracked Spine (ARC) by Paige Shelton **** cozy mystery 9/15/15
  105. Emma by Jane Austen ***** romance 9/20/15
  106. Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell ***** YA steampunk fantasy (fairytale retelling) 9/25/15
  107. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy **** YA realistic 9/27/15
  108. The Poe Estate by Polly Shuman *** MG Horror/Paranormal. 10/3/15
  109. The Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis *** YA A/A 10/6/15
  110. Into the Stone Circle by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel ***** YA ghost story 10/11/15
  111. Generic Vampire Novel #937 Part 1: American Sexy *** action/adv/paranormal 10/28/15
  112. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis **** YA historical thriller 10/29/15
  113. Jackaby by William Ritter **** humorous YA paranormal mystery 11/3/15
  114. Ancient Appetites by Oisin McGann **** YA 14+ steampunk A/A 11/6/15
  115. Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger ***** YA steampunk 11/8/15
  116. When Books Went To War by Molly Guptill Manning 11/14/15
  117. Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin ***** YA paranormal alt. history 11/19/15
  118. Soundless by Rachel Mead ***** YA fantasy 11/29/15
  119. A Killing In Zion by Andrew Hunt ***** historical mystery (LDS) 12/5/15
  120. His Right Hand by Mette Ivie Harrison ***** mystery (LDS) 12/6/15
  121. Lethal Letters by Ellery Adams **** mystery 12/13/15
  122. The Last Word by Ellery Adams **** mystery 12/14/15
  123. To Helvetica and Back by Paige Shelton ***** cozy mystery 12/21/15
  124. The Humbug Murders by LJ Oliver **** crime 12/22/15
  125. Christmas Cottage by Samantha Chase ** romance 12/23/15
  126. The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan ***** non-fiction 12/27/15
  127. City of Saints by Andrew Hunt **** historical (LDS) mystery 12/28/15
  128. Da Vinci’s Tiger by LM Elliot ***** YA historical fiction 12/30/15
  129. Lord James Harrington and the Winter Mystery ***** cozy mystery 12/31/15

Here's the manuscript list:

  1. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 2/15/15
  2. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 4/12/15
  3. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 4/26/15
  4. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 7/11/15
  5. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 7/23/15
  6. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 8/31/15
  7. Nerissa MacKay and the Secrets of the Seventeen Scrolls 9/12/15
  8. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 10/4/15
  9. Nerissa MacKay and the Secrets of the Seventeen Scrolls 10/26/15

And, what usually ends up being people's favorite thing to read each year, here's the list of what I began but did not finish.  It's not a completely coherent list, as I just scribble down notes, either in anger or disgust, but here 'tis anyway:

  1. The Invention of Murder by Judith Flander.   Too slow moving.  I got bogged down about 100 pages in. early April
  2. The Victorian City by Judith Flanders.  Again, I expected this to move like Victorian Home did, but it was just too much Dickens and not enough of non-fiction sources.  Parts were interesting, but parts were too preachy about the poor (just like Dickens).  I kept drifting off to read other things.  After about 250 pages, I just gave up.  4/26/15
  3. The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy. Three plots in about 10 pages.  Forget it.  4/18/15
  4. Nonna’s Book Of Mysteries by Mary Osborne.  It sounded so promising, but the pace is so slow!  And the protagonist is dumb and lacking personality!  Ugh.  50 pages. 5/7/15
  5. Skeleton Crew by Halber.  about a chapter in.  It’s interesting, but far too gruesome for my mood. 5/15/15
  6. Scrapped by Mollie Cox Bryan.  After 4 chapters of reading, I could not stand it anymore. The author tried to use 3rd person omniscient by switching the focus every chapter -- and it was a mess!
  7. Time Salvager by Wesley Chu.  1st chapter.  Quite well-written, but life’s too short to waste it reading Ender’s Game spin-off set in claustrophobia-inducing space ships. 7/24/15
  8. I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest.
I should have known better.  I threw aside her Boneshaker in disgust a couple of years ago when she tried to write for YA but focused all her attention on the mother in the story.  This is truly bad form.  I don't understand why her books are so popular when she has no clue who her audience is.  Of course, she's probably writing for adults who read YA and not for actual kids, but I still loathe it when authors say they've got a certain audience and then write for another.
X has the same problem from a different angle.  In this one, Priest talks to the reader as if s/he is a 9-year-old.  It's condescending.  I could not stand it after a couple of chapters.
This one's going back to the library unfinished. 7/28/15
9. The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson.
This one sounded really good, but it's so cliche that it's boring.  Also, the protagonist is exactly that sort of silly airhead that makes a terrific foil for a likable female protagonist but who makes a lousy protagonist.  I do not like dumb protagonists; I cannot relate to them and I have no patience with them.  This protagonist is a sweet, charming, stupid girl.  After 92 pages of this and a predictable plot, I gave up. 7/28/15
10. Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie.
Remember what I just said about hating stupid protagonists?  Well, this book is infinitely worse than Princess Spy.  This protagonist gives his passport and travel documents to a pretty girl who claims to be in danger.
Nope.  I do not waste my time with protagonists that dumb.
When I grabbed the book, I thought it would be a detective solving a mystery about an exceptionally dumb person, but no, the main character is the idiot.
I'm not wasting my time. 7/30/15
11. Tales of the South Pacific by James Mitchener. It’s actually pretty decent; I just don’t have the time right now. 7/31/15
12. The Watchmaker of Filigree St. by Natasha Pulley.  Great characterization, but it’s mixing the Irish Troubles of the 1980s with Victorian England, which I don’t like, and I read in a review that the action will move to Japan. Japan doesn’t interest me.  about 40 pages 8/3/15
13. Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke. This is clearly a book later on in a series and the author does NOTHING to explain to the reader who’s who among the NUMEROUS side characters and backstories.  So very confusing. four chapters 8/10/15
14. Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas. This is a fairytale dystopia which is not a particularly good mix.  It’s told in 1st person POV -- except when it switches to 3rd person limited to focus on the male love interest.  This is highly annoying.  Also, it’s told in present tense, which is always annoying.  I stopped reading when the characters were so incredibly stupid as not to realize they might be chased if they were to escape a locked compound wherein other people had been killed for even attempting to escape.  Stupid protagonist + 1st person POV is a recipe for nothing but anger on my part, so I quit reading.  9/26/15
15. Reawakened by Colleen Houck YA paranormal. I must say that a YA mummy book sounded good, as that’s the only traditional monster unexplored in the last few years.  But the characterization in this was so pathetic that I gave up in 24 pages. 10/2/15
16. Sherlock, Lupin, and Me: the soprano’s last song. by “Irene Adler” I like some Holmes adaptations, but this one took way too many liberties with Holmes’ basic personality.  Five chapters. October, 2015
17. Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez.  This is another book which everyone claims is good just because it has a non-white protagonist.  It does take more than that to make a book good, you know.  This book tries to be a Dan Brown novel for kids, but it just doesn’t work; it’s too unbelievable to have a girl watch her dad get shot and not freak out, to have her friend just happen to know a bunch of secret passages in Italy.  Nope.  This doesn’t work with kids.  four chapters. October, 2015
18. The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt. I guess I just don’t care about Venice that much. 17 pages. October, 2015
19. Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson.  I didn’t like the premise after just a few pages, which is weird, because I love her other books. October, 2015
20. The Story Spinner by Becky Wallace.  I’ve tried and tried to read this, but it jumps around so much that I can’t make myself care about any of the characters. October, 2015
21. Six of Crows by Leigh Barduga. I really, really wanted to like this, but it’s depressing and violent, and I don’t like the world.  134 pages. October, 2015
22. Lockwood & Co: the Screaming Staircase by Johnathan Stroud. 27 pages of silliness were all I could stomach. 11/13/15
23. Robbie Forester & the Outlaws of Sherwood Street by Peter Abrahams.  I guess I should’ve expected as much from a Robin Hood story, but the whole successful-business-people-are-evil/homeless-people-are-good thing was a bit too Socialist for me.  Gag. 45 pages. Nov. 2015.
24. Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch.  I guess it’s been too long since I read the first book in the series.  I’d totally lost the story and it was not worth the effort to find it again.  After 22 pages, I found I didn’t care at all about the characters anymore. Nove. 2015.
25. Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher.  It sounded great, but the fantasy world made no sense and had way too much chasing arround with no plot.  52 pages. November, 2015