Tag Archives: books

How Have You Changed Since the Games?

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I just finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy. This was an amazing set of books. I laughed, cried, become enraged, and was completely drawn into Katnis’ world.

That being said, I don’t know that I liked these books. They are brutal to read, and I personally like my fiction happier. I know life isn’t; hello, I care for kids removed from their homes by CPS. I know life sucks and people are horrid.

I can see how the Hunger Games is a reflection of our world and culture and a warning of where we could be going. I get that. It doesn’t change the fact that when I finished at 1:30 am because I had to know how they end, I felt heartbroken. Yes, there is hope, but the pain, suffering, and loss, are so great that the ending doesn’t fix that for me. They gave up everything in order to change their world. And when they look at their children, maybe the nightmares are worth it. But my heart still ached when I closed the book.

So here is my question. If you have read them, or even seen the movie, and your heart ached for Katniss and the other children; if you felt The Hunger Games shows us about our current culture and where we are headed; what have you changed in your life? Have you stopped watching reality TV? Are you buying more local foods? Are you checking where your products come from and only buying them from countries with labor laws you agree with? Are you reducing your use of natural resources?

Now maybe you already live like this. Maybe you have nothing to change, and if not, you rock and please leave tips in the comments. But realize that if you are reading this, you live in the ‘Capitol’, even if you are not a policy maker or wealthy enough to buy and sell people, you still live in the capitol. And for peaceful change to happen it has to begin with us, IMHO.

Now I have never heard nor read an interview with Suzanne Collins, maybe this isn’t what she wants. Maybe this isn’t some big political statement, maybe for her it’s only a handful of berries. But what does the book mean to you? How have you been changed?

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A habit to change or accepting it’s who I am?

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We all have things we would like to change about ourselves. If you’re anything like me you have a long list stained with tears of frustration and chocolate finger prints. But how do you tell the difference between a bad habit that you need to change and accepting this is simply part of who you are?

Let me give you an example.

When I am doing something new and scary I hide. Not like curled in the closet under blankets, but I don’t go out, I don’t answer the phone, and I spend as much time reading as possible. I have done this for as long as I can remember.

You can’t see me.

It’s not simply things like trying a new recipe that will send me into hiding, but something big. Putting myself out into the world. A new job. Anything that makes me feel vulnerable, I hide. And as all good hiders know, you need good snacks when you hide; sticking, of course, to the four food groups: salty, crunchy, gooey, and sweet.

Is this something I should force myself out of, or accept? So far the mental berating of getting off my ass and acting like a grown up hasn’t helped much.

I’m not completely dysfunctional. I will go to the gym with my friend. I go to work. And I will still write (sometimes), and, yes, reading is important for a writer. Enough happens that I can put a good spin on the whole event. The few times I have accepted this is part of who I am, the faster I went through the cycle. So I’m thinking this is something to accept about myself, and the next time I know I’m going to feel vulnerable and therefore go into hiding I will prepare, by getting snacks in the necessary food groups that won’t add inches to my waist. Gooey is the hardest to find.

What about you? Do you have a part of yourself that could use some acceptance instead of treating it like it’s a bad habit to be banished?

And for music today I Gaitana from Ukraine

Review: Give Your Opinion on Opinions

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As an author I crave reviews as deeply as I crave chocolate, the next great idea, and words that flow like the purest fountain of literary brilliance.

However, as an author I’m very reluctant to give reviews. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and a review after all is just someone’s opinion. You know what they say about opinions . . . .

So my current plan is to take the completely wussy way out of this predicament. I plan to review books only if I would give them 4 or 5 stars.

I’m still hesitant to write reviews. I don’t know why. Maybe I haven’t figured out the deeper meaning an author was hoping I’d get. Maybe I will find something funny that they hadn’t meant to be funny. This list of my worries goes on and on.

Anyway, to my point and yes there is one, as an author do you review books? Even if you would give them a 2 or a 1?

As an author if I would give your book a 3 or lower would you still want me to review it?

And before any of you panic, my TBR list is huge. Do not think I didn’t like your book if I haven’t reviewed it. I probably haven’t had time to read it yet!

Yuck- he’s perfect

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The perfect guy is boring!

I ranted recently about female characters, now it’s time for a go at heroes. Why are they suddenly always perfect? Especially in YA I see heroes with perfect abs, control of their tempers and hormones, money, understanding of their emotions, smell good, and get good grades! The perfect boy to bring home to mom. Where is the growth?
Yes, the heroine is the focus of the story, but, um, he can grow too. And even if he doesn’t, does he need to be perfect? Can’t he suck at something? Math, cooking, one of his pinkie fingers is smaller then the other?

And, yes, I can feel all the YA writers ready for the defense of “they wrote the story for teenagers,” but I’d bet 50% of all YA books are bought by adults. Maybe I should actually try to find if there is any kind of survey on this. Teenagers deserve well-written books, too, with characters that are complex and grow through the story.

Give your characters a fatal flaw it; makes them interesting and gives the reader something to root for. As an adult its hard to love perfect men. My hubby is near perfect, but the way that man loads the dishwasher almost makes me want to take over doing the dishes. Almost.

Little Women, Discovery, and Bill Jones Jr

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Today I am hanging out with Bill Jones Jr. I have met many wonderful people as I have begun blogging, and I have to admit that Bill is one of my favorites. He’s blog post range from funny to profound- and frequently both at once.

Bill Jones, Jr. assumed from an early age that he would be a photographer when he grew up. From age 12, he could be found bicycling around the streets of downtown Hampton, Virginia, camera in hand. Already an avid Science Fiction and Fantasy buff, at age ten, he was exposed to the poetry of Nikki Giovanni and the fiction of Jack London and Madeleine L’Engle. The writing bug was born.

For a time, he satisfied his “starving artist” yearnings by publishing poems in various literary journals. In 2007, he wrote a short story, which would later become the first two chapters of The Stream. In 2009, he began work on the book in earnest, completing his first novel, The Stream: Discovery, and its sequel, The Stream: Awakening, writing the books back-to-back in four months.

Bill is currently preparing for the 2012 release of The Stream: Awakening, and is working on a number of other projects, including Emprise, Book 3 of The Stream. When not at his day job as a Market Research Analyst, Bill can be found writing, at the gym, or wandering the streets of Washington, D.C., Nikons in tow.

There are zombies out there; he can feel it. It’s just a matter of time before he gets that Pulitzer Prize winning photo of one.

1-How old were you when you fell in love with reading? Can you remember what book/ books it was that inspired you?

I fell in love with reading before I could read. Seriously. We lived in my grandfather’s house, and he had this huge bookcase at the top of the stairs. At four, I couldn’t wait to figure out what those books said. I even taught myself to read because no one else would do it. What clinched the love affair for me, however, was Dr. Doolittle. I’m pretty sure I read every single one of those books, usually one after the other, like a chain-reader. Good thing they don’t cause cancer.

2-What is a book your friends would be surprised to know you’ve read?

Probably Little Women, of all things. In middle school, we had a reading assignment, and I couldn’t come up with any books I wanted to read. Partly as punishment, I think, the teacher assigned me Little Women. To her great surprise, and my astonishment, I liked it. I don’t think anyone but she and I ever knew I read it.

I’m adding Little woman to my to-be-read list.

3-Everyone seems to complain when their favorite book is made into a movie or mini-series. What is your favorite movie based on a book?

Most of the time, I’m disappointed in movie adaptations. There are some exceptions, however. At the moment, my fave is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (either the American or Swedish version). I think that’s because the movies follow the story so closely. I just wish they could have found a 4’11” actress to play the lead in the American version. I would have paid extra to see someone so little kicking butt.

I watched the Swedish version, without knowing what it was about. Wow- very intense movie.

4-When the zombie apocalypse comes what is going to be your weapon of choice?

Oh, I will be a multi-weapon guy. I figure I’ll need a shotgun for those quick group shots, a reliable automatic like an AK-47 or an AR-15, plus a machete. This is assumes, of course, I can’t get my hands on any nukes or drones. When the apocalypse hits, I plan on kicking serious butt. That’s why I work out. Carrying all those armaments and ammo can tire you out if you’re not prepared. The zombies won’t even know I’m coming. I’m totally masking my body’s smells with rotting meat, and dressing like a zombie. Then, when they aren’t looking, BAM!!

Dibs for being on your team!

5-Did your high school English teachers hate you or love you?

My English teachers loved me. It was all the other teachers who hated me. I used to go hang out with my English teacher or the school nurse while I was skipping Physics. I actually received a high school academic award in English. It was a Lion’s Club Award for “Excellence in English.” It astounded me at the time, as I had long considered English to be my worst subject. However, I come from a long line of teachers – immediately post-slavery, to be exact. As a result, I was raised to be a grammar Nazi nerd. In the 12th grade, there was a new English teacher, fresh out of college. She was sweet, but knew NOTHING about grammar. Guess what subject they gave her to teach? So, unbeknownst to the other students, I would help her with grammar, and she would teach the class. I suspect she must have told the other English teachers. I know no other reason why they would have chosen me.

Grammar is my weakest point as an author. Thank goodness for editors.

6-What mad ass survival skill do you have?

In an apocalypse, I’m the guy you want to be driving the oversized SUV. I drive exactly like a Manhattan cab driver – not the stupid yellow cabbies, but the Gypsy cabbies. I’m not as nice, however.
If not that, it would be that my super-secret-only-my-best-friends-know skill is that I can read people – especially sociopaths – almost immediately. I’m the guy who’d pick out the serial killer, then run, while you were busy flirting with him. Unless I like you, then I’d warn you first.

I have pretty good instincts/ ability to read people, but I hope you’ll let me know if I’m talking to a psycho.

7-If your book was turned into a movie who would play your main characters?

If The Stream were a movie series today, Jaden Smith (Will’s son) would play Charlie, Lourdes Leon (Madonna’s daughter) would play Robin, and Morgan Freeman would play G’pa Joe. Alas, it is not to be. Perhaps one day, a trio of newcomers will play those roles. Now, if Roxx is made into a movie, I want to do the auditions myself. Calling all super-tall supermodels. Heh.

I too have dreams of casting for my movie- I have a lot of circus people- yum.


8-Give us a super secret peek into what you’re working on next?

Wow. I have ADD, so I’m actually working on three things. (Remember, I’m the guy with 5 blogs). First, I am editing the 3rd book of my series, The Stream. It’s called Emprise, and I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m also editing a post-apocalypse Sci-Fi adventure, Hard as Roxx. I love Roxx. Imagine if Clint Eastwood’s “Man with no Name” character had a baby with Gisele Bundchen, and that baby grew up studying Jeet Kune Do (a la Bruce Lee) her entire life. Yeah, she’s like that, and 6’3”. Now, imagine if she lived in a world where only one child was legal, or even possible, and the penalty for violating that law was death. Yeah, you can guess what comes next. 🙂 Mama times two. Roxx does not like bad laws.

However … you said super secret … so, I should talk about the new book. So far, I just have the main characters and the title. I know the basics, but haven’t come up with the big “What If” yet. It’s called D ‘ark, after the title character, Jeanne Dark. Dark is a thriller about a woman who was hit by a vehicle on her sixteenth birthday. She suffered massive brain damage that sent her into a coma. It resulted in her brain’s central mapping having been disrupted, and then, re-mapped in a way heretofore unseen. She can read people. It isn’t psychic ability, exactly. She’s not reading their minds. Rather, she can see them for whom they really are. In effect, her brain’s reads visuals, her subconscious, and intuition as if they were one thing. People’s words are colors; their thoughts are light, and their true essence is as real to her as hair color is to you or I. Except that no one but her sister knows. All people see is the slightly damaged security consultant who can never remove her sunglasses.

Or something like that. 🙂

I can’t wait until you start posting snippets of it on your blog.

9-What style of book do you secretly long to write, but are afraid to try and do?

I want to write Space Opera, which I would merge with a romance. That. Would. Rock. However, I’m still not ready. I’m just about to start reading Iain Banes’ Surface Detail to get in that Space Opera frame of mind. Or just in the mood for popcorn.

I don’t think I could write a Space Opera, but I would read yours.

10-As an author, tell us three things that will mean success to you in your writing career.

I can interpret this question a number of ways. Either you are asking what achievement will represent success, or what factors I think will lead to my eventually becoming successful. In answering, I guess I’d combine the two.

First, my definition of writing success is that my books become popular, widely read, and people look forward to the next work. Wildly successful, in that vein, means I can retire from my day job, because there is sufficient demand for my books.

However, even if that’s true, if books are selling wildly, and people are buying, I won’t feel like a success unless I am satisfied that I’ve become at least a very good writer. There is a technical side to the craft and an artistic side. Good writing requires mastering both. I would want my books to sell because the consensus is that I am good at crafting a story, I have a unique viewpoint, and people care what happens in my books. If the books sell, but these things are not true, I’d still be disappointed.

Finally, in order to have a story that someone cares about, I think it comes down to characters. Sure, there are plenty of readers who are more concerned with other things, but as a reader, I’ve always been character-driven. Therefore, success for me means I have developed memorable characters, they are based in genuine human behavior, you, as a reader, can feel what they feel, see what they see, and weep when they hurt. And, when their story has ended, I would want you to feel a loss at their absence.

That longing, once the book is done, and the story told, that is the stuff of which dreams are made. That, to me, is success.

Bill thank you so much for taking the time to join me today! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you better.

To find out what’s going on with Bill you can follow his Writing Blog or Photo Blog or Charlie and Robin’s Tumblr Blog or Bill’s Website He also has a Twitter and a Facebook

The Stream: Discovery –

Charlie Patterson is an exceptionally bright young man, with no close friends. When his great-grandfather becomes trapped within the world of dreams, the Stream, Charlie and his friends set off to save him. There they will encounter fur-covered dragons, deserts of colored glass, distorted history, and strange beings galore. However, there is a growing darkness in the Stream, and it wants both Charlie and his great-grandfather.

Charlie’s entire summer has been filled with increasingly disturbing dreams. Most feature a strange, dark-haired girl, who watches, but does not speak. Her name is Robin LeBeaux, a girl from New Mexico with a tragic past, and she is quite real. Despite Charlie’s insistent logic, and Robin’s enthusiastic illogic, they become fast friends. Together, guided by Robin’s deceased sister, they discover a singular talent – the ability to walk into and influence others’ dreams.

The Stream: Awakening – The Early Reviews

In the second installment of The Stream, Charlie and his friends return to escort us back to their fantastical world. It is impossible to not be irresistibly lured in by Bill Jones’ inventive characters and page-turning pace, as skillfully crafted in The Awakening as it was in The Discovery. Once again, Charlie is the ideal humble hero, each character’s individuality comes through in clever, zany dialogue, and our imaginations are enchanted through clear and vivid scene descriptions. Fans anxiously awaiting this sequel won’t be disappointed.

Bitches or Subs:Where are all the normal women in fiction?

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Okay I know this rant doesn’t cover ALL books, and of course I don’t mean yours 🙂 But seriously I’m getting a bit tired of reading books where the women either fall into a submissive housewife role as soon as they have a steady guy or are rude bitches pretending to be strong.

Does no one remember Captain Janeway? Strong, competent, sexy, and sensitive? Wow! A whole person who’s also a woman in power. Are we sure it can be possible? Or how about ANY of Joss Whedon’s female characters?

A more important question is why are women writing these one-dimensional female characters? Why is it romantic for a young girl to completely give over her self, her life choices, and her safety to a guy? Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a sexy dom/sub story. But these aren’t thought out choices of a strong couple. These are young girls losing themselves in their guy. Of course they don’t lose much because they tend to be boring to begin with.

The other side of this is the bitch. These are the supposedly “strong women” who treat people like crap, cuss, ignore the needs of others, and are completely emotionally unavailable. When did strength become acting like a jerk and refusing to compromise?

I’m sure if I had a degree in psychology or if I turned my crazy writer brain from my current manuscript, I could create all sorts of interesting character profiles, but really I need to keep working on my current projects. I shall refrain from psychoanalyzing people, for now.

Why do you think we have come to this new trend? What are some of your favorite female characters? What is it you love about them?

Old Loves

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I love reading old books and not just because it makes me feel good to have read another “classic”, but because they are windows into our past. I love learning about how a day went one hundred years ago. Or that in the 50s moms would have homemade baked goods waiting for their children at the end of the school day, and you didn’t wear underwear under your pj’s because you’d get too hot.

I love learning about how they would eat, address each other, or get themselves to work. What was important, what morals and values did the author feel were important to show. Men in romance stories didn’t have rippling abs, they had money, manners, and status. Woman didn’t have big boobs and the abilities to deep throat; they had grace, modesty, and charm that could make a man forget himself *swoons*. Not that I don’t enjoy smut, because abs and deep throating are great things, but sometimes it’s fun to go back and read about a time when even the raciest book would be rated PG by today’s standards.

I also miss the innocence of children that is found in older books. I just finished reading Tom Sawyer. In one passage he and two other boys are down by the river. They run around naked and swim and wrestle, and it’s fine, because they are children. The general population would never have thought of it as sexual at all, because they are children and they didn’t equate children with sex. Yes, there were monsters back then as they are now, but the general population, the healthy people, wouldn’t have thought anything of it.

Old books tend to have a slow cadence to them that modern books don’t have. It’s not bad that new books don’t have it, I don’t think my book has it, but I enjoy reading something with a good rhythm to it.

One other thing I love about older books is the words. Whenever I switch from a book written fifty or more years ago to today I’m saddened by the words we’ve lost and how simple our words are today. Some of the words I miss that I’m going to try and sneak into my work include: vexed, ponder, spectacles, diligence, crossly, gaily, queer, and my favorite – presently.

I found this video via another writer- it’s amazing. Let’s celebrate old books!

Do you read older books? What do you love about them, other then the old book smell? BTW someone needs to make old book smell air freshener for those of us with Kindles and no room for new books.

Poison Oak, Oz, and Magic with Angela Wallace

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Hello everyone I’ve decided to stop being such a loner and invite others over to play. Today I have the pleasure of interrogating sharing my blog with Angela Wallace.


Angela Wallace has been penning adventures ever since she was sucked through a magical portal as a child. What she saw and whom she met gave birth to exciting and complex fantasy worlds where defying the laws of physics was a bonus. She has since come back down to earth, only to discover this mortal realm has magic of its own. Now she is quite at home in the world of urban fantasy, though believes that love, faith, and hope are of a stronger magic than fire wielding and sorcery. She loves gun-toting good boys, and could have been a cop in another life except real blood makes her queasy. She’ll have to stick to solving supernatural mysteries. Language is her pleasure, whether it’s weaving words on a page or lassoing linguistics into translations as a sign language interpreter. Angela is currently working on the next book in her Elemental Magic series.

How old were you when you fell in love with reading? Can you remember what book/ books inspired you?

I fell in love with reading the moment I learned how. My dad will brag that I was reading at 18 months, but I can’t attest to that. The books that really inspired me at a young age were Tamora Pierce’s quartets, Song of the Lioness and The Immortals. The characters were strong, brave young women, and the series watched them grow from children to young adults. I remember going on those journeys with the characters, and it was inspiring not only in seeing them triumph over the trials in their lives, but it helped me turn to writing my own envisioned journey down on paper.

I haven’t read those- two more books to add to my TBR list!

We all have favorite books, ones we nag our friends to read, buy our loved ones as gifts, and the biggy, the books we read over and over again. What books have you read more than twice?

Dee Henderson’s The O’Malley series. They’re Christian romantic suspense, full of great, fast-paced action, heartwarming love stories, and a beautiful portrayal of family bonds. When I wrote my first paranormal romantic suspense, those are the books I studied as the model I wanted to emulate.

I love books that inspire me to be a better writer!

Everyone seems to complain when their favorite book is made into a movie or mini series. What is your favorite movie based on a book?

I actually love it when books are made into movies. I have this weird compulsion to compare the versions, ever since I was eight and I sat down to watch The Wizard of Oz with the book in my lap, going through every page with each scene from the movie. My favorite adaptation, though, would definitely have to be Lord of the Rings. No offense to Tolkien, but his writing style is hard for me to get into. Sword fights on screen are way better. 🙂

I bet you were so cute siting on the couch critiquing The Wizard of Oz!

What mad ass survival skill do you have?

I’m immune to poison oak. Which means I can run away through it or hide in it.


That is a pretty awesome survival skill- one I unfortunately do not have.

We’re all supposed to be eating healthy, but what naughty treat tempts you the most?

My mom made gluten free apple pie for the first time this Christmas and it was SO GOOD. We bought enough stuff to make it three more times, but I had to promise myself I’d only make one pie a month, and not every week.

Yum, both my daughter and I have to eat gluten free- I might need that recipe.

Where is the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

I was on a youth retreat once and one of the “exercises” involved dropping us in the middle of the woods to sit and have alone time. Good thing I took a notepad, or I would have gone crazy.


What do you love most about your current book?

I’m working on two and both are in different stages. The first is in revision/edits as my crit partners go through it, and I love watching it grow from their feedback and how I apply it. The second is in the first draft writing stage, and I love working with a new main character. She’s quite different from the MC in the first two books of my Elemental Magic series, and getting to know her voice has been a lot of fun.

I with you, I adore getting to know a new character!

What style of book do you secretly long to write, but are afraid to try and do?

I’d love to write a cop series of murder mysteries, but I’m afraid the plots I’d come up with would be too outlandish. Plus, I’m pretty sure my main characters would get shot. A lot.

LOL!

What is the geekiest thing about you?

I can write in Tolkien’s elvish runes.

I love it!

Thank you so much Angela for hanging out with me today. It’s been so much fun! And if I ever lose something in a patch of poison oak I know who to call for help.

Now that you know how awesome Angela is- or because you need to contact her to get something out of a patch of poison oak you can find –Blog or Facebook or on Twitter

You can also find her books on Amazon and Smashwords

Phoenix Feather: Aidan Quinn is a centuries-old phoenix living as a human. Weary of the repetitious life cycles, she’s not sure she has it in her to love again, though dashing fireman Trent McCain is going to do his best to convince her otherwise. But the clock is ticking—a serial killer is on the loose, and he’s on the hunt for a phoenix.


Elemental Magic: Aileen Donovan wants nothing more than recognition as a scientist by her supernatural community. What better way to do that than to solve a mystery involving a power-hungry alchemist, hallucinogenic coral, and a homicidal sea dragon? The hard part will be working with Coast Guard officer Colin Benson—until the tides turn, and Aileen realizes that love and duty may not be mutually exclusive.

Wise, Witty, and Wacky Wednesday

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I just finished a really good book- I’m a fast reader which means books don’t last long around me, and it also means I can re-read them because I will have forgotten or not noticed certain things. Anyway- back to the point- I have just finished a good book. Now I’ve seen movies- TV- read in books- about people who finish a good book, and sigh and sit there absorbing the amazing material they have just read, allowing the authors poetic words to float in their mind and marinate in the story. Me- I look for the next book. If I’ve read one in a series I want the next one NOW- if not maybe another by the same author- or maybe the same genre. What about you? When you’ve finished a book do you bask in the glory of that book or search your ‘to read list’ for the next one?

The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you the knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.

– Elizabeth Hardwick

Hello everyone just a quick note to let you know I will be at Comic Con until Monday, so I’m not ignoring you, I just don’t have any niffy computery stuff so I can stay connected while I’m gone. I’ll answer responses when I get back. But I think I’ve figured out how to post while I’m gone so Foreign Film Friday and Music Monday are still on. 🙂

Wise, Witty, and Wacky Wednesday

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Today we have a quote from Mark Twain- “’Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read.”

There are lists of classic books- books which every one ‘should’ read. Books which are quoted in our television shows and movies, which define the education and manner of the person quoting them. So, have you read any ‘classic’ books? What is your favorite? Which one did you hate?

My favorites Dracula, Frankenstein, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter’s Stories – do those last two count? I can name a dozen young adult books, such as Island of the Blue Dolphin, Call it Courage, The Wizard of Earth Sea, and Julie of the Wolves.

Which ones did I hate? I hate reading Shakespeare. He wrote plays, I like watching his plays. I find reading them boring. I am a description whore- ask my critique group- I want colors, gestures, sounds, smells, tastes, everything- reading a play gives me none of that. I didn’t like Catcher in the Rye- maybe I was too young, maybe it’s just not a book that speaks to me, but I didn’t care for it.
So confession time, what classic books have you read and which ones did you hate?