4 Awesome Romantic Tropes in Fiction

Somehow, we’re back into the month of February already. The candy hearts and mountains of chocolate are dyeing grocery store shelves pink and red. Even if you don’t celebrate Valentine’s day, there are some great things to look forward to during this holiday. The day after Valentines day leads to a ton of candy on sale. The newer tradition of Galentine’s Day can still be celebrated via Zoom. However, I wouldn’t be a book lover if I didn’t mention the books. Romance books can be read any time of year, but it feels right to read one while shoving heart-shaped Reese’s Cups into your mouth. There are countless types of romantic stories to read, but there are four tropes in these stories that always get me invested and excited. 

  1. Enemies to lovers

This is one of my favorite tropes in any story that has a romantic plotline. Do they dislike each other or have the opposite of a meet-cute? Sign me up! When this trope is done well, there are endless opportunities for great plot and character growth. It also allows for some great banter between the two characters. Dynamic dialogue is a great way to keep the story interesting and get a reader invested in what’s happening. There is a line for this trope. Even though the two characters get off on the wrong foot or dislike each other, there has to be a feasible reason why they would become romantically interested. For example: in Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice and Benedick’s budding relationship works because they already have an interest in each other. Their friends convince them through sneaky ways, but in the end they realize that what they believed to be disdain was attraction. Also, they get opportunities away from their friends scheming to confirm those feelings. If two characters don’t have a feasible reason, their relationship could quickly burn out or turn into a toxic situation. If you want to check out a great version of enemies to lovers, I suggest Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. There are so countless YA versions of this trope for your reading pleasure.  

  1. Friends to lovers

This one is a bit of a hard left from the last trope. Instead of the characters starting off with disdain, they begin the story as friends. This trope is full of interesting dynamics and questions. In some versions, one character may realize suddenly that their feelings have deepend. However they don’t know how to tell their friend of these blossoming feelings. Suddenly every interaction feels different and confusing for the characters. I am not a fan of miscommunication issues as a plot point in stories, and unfortunately this trope sometimes uses it. However, there are some stories that make it work without going too far. Many times a character doesn’t communicate their feelings to the friend because of a conflict or person. This trope gives a lot of opportunities for the author to show us the changing dynamics before the character’s themselves may notice them. If they use the “show don’t tell” method, then this trope is usually excellent. If you want to check out a great example of a friends to lovers story, I’d recommend The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.

  1. Angry/ Intimidating character and cinnamon roll pairing

This is another romance trope that allows for some great dynamics in a story. Two characters with completely opposite personalities somehow mesh together. It’s a Slytherin and Hufflepuff sort of situation. Many other characters in the story may not see how or why the couple got together. That’s always a fun gag to tap into in a story. It also allows them to grow and learn from each other in interesting ways. It’s a great way to start character development, or add an interesting conflict for a character’s goals. Many times these relationships are found with side characters. However, there are a few main characters who have a great example of this trope. If you want to check out this dynamic, I’d recommend Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Nina and Matthias have a very interesting twist on this trope.

  1. Only use their real names in dire situations trope

Hello, and welcome to a very niche trope. This trope is more of a sub-genre of the romantic tropes. This could go with many different dynamics in a story. The trope does need two characters who use things like nicknames or last names. Usually the nickname is chosen to irritate the other as much as possible, or it’s a childhood nickname. These characters will spend the entirety of the story calling each other these names, even if others call them by their actual names. It often leads to banter among the characters and bonds the two. Then comes the twist. A dire situation occurs to the characters, and the joking facade drops. Instead, real names are used. This is a really great thing that authors sometimes do to communicate how scared the character is for their friend or love interest. This trope works well with romantic love and platonic love. If done well, it often shows how much the characters truly care for each other. This trope is so weirdly specific that I don’t have a specific book to recommend. If you do, please let me know in the comments!
What are your thoughts on these tropes? What are your favorite romantic character tropes in books? Let me know in the comments below! I’m always looking for more books to read, especially with these tropes. If you have any favorite books with these tropes, please fill out the book recommendation survey here. Now get a snack and enjoy a book. Happy reading everyone!

10 Tips to Smash your 2021 Goodreads Goal

It’s finally 2021! It’s time to set tentative goals for the year and get that motivation going. As someone who loves lists, I’ve already made a list of my own goals. One of them involves taking on the Goodreads challenge yet again. This is the third year I’ve done this, and I am very lucky to have hit my goal two years in a row. When I set my goal for this year, I started thinking about myself the first year I did this challenge. I had no game plan, and no idea how to tackle my goal. I thought I was an experienced reader, but my challenge kicked my butt. If you are in that same boat, don’t worry! Here are 10 tips that can help you smash your Goodreads goal.

  1. Set a realistic goal

This is one of the most important things to consider when setting a goal. Be realistic about how many books you can read with your lifestyle. If you are a busy parent who can barely listen to a book tape, 50 books might be a bit much. Instead, take a mental tally of how many books you read the previous year. If you want to keep up your reading habit, you can set a goal for the same number of books that you read the year before. If you want to challenge yourself, try upping that count by 2-5 books. That will give you an attainable goal that also pushes you to read a bit more. If you are coming back to the challenge this year and need a new goal, take the same considerations into account. If you read 30 books last year and can feasibly see yourself reading 35, go for it! If you hit your max reading goal last year, renew it again. Don’t feel like you have to read 50 or 100 books just because so many other people are. That’ll add additional stress and suck the fun out of this challenge. This is supposed to be fun, not stressful!

  1. Keep a list of favorite books and authors

Something that has helped me in the past two years is my favorites list. Keep a list of favorite books and authors to reference when you run out of ideas. There are even books built for this, where you can track your favorites in one place. If you prefer an easy to access list, create a Google doc with these lists and keep the app on your phone. If you are out of ideas at the bookstore, you can pull it out and search for similar books. Also, most online booksellers have a suggested reads list. If you really liked a book, look it up on one of these sites and take a look at the recommended list. You can also use this feature to look at your favorite author’s novels. You can also go to an author’s site to see what books they’ve written and tackle their books. 

  1. Ask friends and family for book recommendations

This option can be a great or terrible idea, depending who you ask. Take that into account when consulting your peers for book recommendations. If you are a fiction lover and cringe at the thought of nonfiction, maybe don’t ask your aunt who loves nonfiction for advice. Instead, consider people who have reading interests that overlap with yours. You can find books that you know you’ll like, and maybe even a few that’ll surprise you. If you want to expand your reading world, then consider talking to that aunt or uncle who likes different books than you. This is great if you’re getting into a new genre with no idea where to begin. Let them know your preferences and dislikes and they can help you translate that to their favorite genre. It’s also a great bonding experience for you and the person you’re consulting. A win win!

  1. Audiobooks are your friend

Audiobooks are a great way to keep yourself on track for your goal. Many people have different obligations that make it hard to sit down and read a book. You can listen to audiobooks while you work, while you drive, and more! You can get audiobooks via Audible, Youtube, CDs, and your library. I’m a fast reader, so I tend to listen to Audible audiobooks at 1.25x speed. You can also do this on Youtube as well if you want a speedier read. If you use a platform like Audible, I would recommend listening to a sample of the audiobook before purchasing it. This will help you determine if the reader’s voice is grating or nice to your ears. You don’t want to get an audiobook version of a book you’ve been dying to read, only to find that the voice gets on your nerves. If you find a reader’s voice that you like, try searching their name to see what other books they’ve read. You might find some new books that way!

  1. Keep a written list of book ideas

This is an obvious strategy, but I had to mention it. I often forget to write down books that I find interesting. If you carry a notebook like myself, dedicate a page to books that interest you. Google docs are also a great way to keep this list. You can format the list to include book recommendations and books that you come across on your trips to the bookstore. If nothing tickles your fancy on your bookshelf, consult your list for ideas. Try to include books of all your favorite genres so that you have options for any mood. If you find a book in a series that you want to read, include the other books in that series on your list as well. Series are a great way to increase your number of books read. 

  1. Follow book blogs for recommendations

Book blogs are your best friend when it comes to recommendations. The odds are that every book blog has at least one book recommendation on their blog. Research some blogs to follow that you find fun to read. If you can find blogs that specialize in certain genres, they’re a great way to find your preferred books. It’s also a great way to learn more about a genre that you want to try reading this year. I would also recommend following Booktubers for the same reason. It is important to note that this option involves some trial and error. You may start out reading a blog that you think might be promising and then find it disappointing. Don’t be discouraged! There are a lot of great ones out there. You’ll eventually find a few that will be great resources. If you want to check out some of my book recommendations, you can look at my book content here.

  1. Goodreads itself!

Again, another obvious point that needs to be mentioned. Goodreads is a great way to find books. They have an option where you can select your favorite genres. Based on this information and your previously read, they will have a list of book recommendations catered to you. You can also keep track of your want to read on their site, as your account has a shelf for that reason. If you have Goodreads friends, you can also see what they are reading and check out those books. The reviews are usually varied enough that you can use them to determine if the book is right for you. They usually have links to buying the book as well. If you are someone who needs to watch your budget, you can use the links to buy the books on Kindle. 

  1. Ask a worker at your local bookstore

This is a tried and true way to find a book. Bookstore workers, especially at independent bookstores, are a great resource for finding books. Make sure you come to them with a specific title or genre that they can work off to help you find books. If you want to try something new, ask them about their favorite book and see if that sparks inspiration for you. Independent bookstores usually have the worker’s favorite books highlighted in some way. Try looking for those and write them down in your book list if any strike your fancy. You can also ask them about recommendations based on authors to see if they know of any similar authors that they have in stock. 

  1. Consult the classics

If you feel burnt out on your current favorite genres, try taking a look at classic novels. It can be hard to separate these from your dreaded school days, but they are worth checking out. I used to dread the classics because of my mixed experience with highschool English. Once I could choose the classics and could read them without dissection, they were way more fun to read. If you are unsure what classics you like, consult a list on Goodreads or Google a list of classics and go from there. The genres of classics may seem small, but there are many different options to choose from. I always recommend checking out Mary Shelly or Jane Austen’s work for some dynamic storytelling. If you are concerned with the language getting in the way, they are good ones to read. It isn’t too formal and can get you used to reading the writing styles of the time. The more you read the classics, the easier they get to read. If you want to check out some of my favorite classic novels for some ideas, you can read this post

  1. Repeats of your favorites are okay!

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to repeat some favorites from 2020 or the years prior. I don’t believe that reading the same book twice in one year counts, but that doesn’t apply to books you’ve read in years past. You can add multiple dates read for a book. This is great for me, because I have some go to books that I love to read at certain times of the year. If you aren’t sure what to read, consult your old Goodreads reading challenge lists and write down the ones you remember liking. If you like to read certain genres at certain times of the year like me, you can map out when to read these books. This can be super helpful if you want to reread a longer book. You can plan accordingly by upping your book count in a different month so that book doesn’t get you behind on your goal. This also a great option because you can look at how long it took you to read them the last time and can plan accordingly. 

With these tips, I hope you can kick your 2021 goal’s butt and come out victorious. However, don’t forget to give yourself some leeway. Last year was a whirlwind and that might make it hard for you to get moving with a new goal right away. If that’s the case for you, focus on one book at a time and don’t stress too much about your goal. What tips would you add for people wanting to complete their Goodreads goals? Do you have any book recommendations for me or a fellow book lover to read this year? Let me know in the comments below! I’ve just gotten started on my own challenge and am looking forward to all the great book ideas to add to my list. Thanks so much for reading everyone, and good luck!

Goodreads 2020: Thank Goodness That’s Over

Hello my wonderful readers, and happy almost-end to 2020! Many of us are counting down the days until this year is over. While most of this year was an absolute dumpster fire, there were some silver linings. For me, my silver lining was books. Books are awesome anytime, but this year they were especially needed. Because of this, I found my Goodreads challenge way easier to complete than I would have thought. Tired of doom scrolling? Book time. Did I need something to distract myself when I lost my job for a few months? You guessed it, book time again. Due to this whirlwind, I ended this year with one book more than my goal! I somehow managed to read 41 books by Christmas. To give y’all an idea of my yearly progress, I thought I’d take a page out of Spotify’s book. Get ready for some stats!

  1. My Goal 
  1. Longest and Shortest Books that I read in 2020
  1. Favorite new books that I read

If you want to check out these books, visit the nonfiction book here and the fiction book here

  1. Favorite book that I reread

This one was so hard to choose, so I had to go with a series. If you have not read this series yet and you are a fan of mysteries, you must check it out here!

  1. My most popular genres of the year

Since the results aren’t in yet on this particular fact, I pulled the genre tags for each book I read and used a word frequency counter to pull which ones were referenced the most. Here are the top three!

  1. My 2021 goal!

Finally, it’s time to take a look into the future. With all of the things on my plate in 2021, I have a more flexible goal this year. I’m going to add on five more books to this year’s goal, with the intention of shooting for 40 in case the year gets away from me. Still, I’m determined to get cracking and hit my reading goal!

Did you complete your Goodreads goal this year? Have you seen some trends in your reading in the last year? Let me know in the comments below! If you have any favorite books that you have read for the first time or reread this year, please let me know. I’m always looking for new books to ready. Especially with an extra five to read this year! If you are shaking your head at your own Goodreads progress, don’t stress. This has been a stressful year for us all, and reading doesn’t help everyone combat that. Instead focus on next year, and how you can ace your next Goodreads goal. In fact, I might have a few tips up my sleeve that can help you cross that finish line. Tune in next week for those tips! Thanks so much for reading everyone, and I hope you have a Happy New Year!

4 Reasons Why You Need to Read Good Omens this Fall

Fall is one of my favorite times to read books. This is when I can let my mystery and fantasy nerd run wild in the spirit of spooky season! These books can be read year-round, but there’s a great atmosphere when reading them between the months of September and November. One of the books I love reading this time of year is the classic by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens. This book is full of attributes that make it a fun read when the leaves start to turn. Not convinced? I have four reasons why you should reconsider!

Image from Giphy

  1. Crowley and Aziraphel’s dynamic 

Crowley and Aziraphale are the main characters of this story, and an unlikely duo. Crowley is a demon formerly known as the snake in the garden of Eden, and Aziraphale is angel previously on guarding duty.  A demon and an angel? Friends? It’s an interesting dynamic that Gaiman and Pratchett play into well. These two are a bit like a celestial odd couple, sassy remarks and all. Crowley and Aziraphale have known each other for roughly 4,000 years, which adds an interesting layer to their relationship. They make many quips about “my side vs. your side”, but they’re still fond of each other. These two create a good bit of the humor and plot points that make this story exciting. So many quotable moments are ahead of you with these two. 

Image from Giphy

  1. The humor

I must give a disclaimer when discussing the humor of Good Omens. This book is written by two English authors. That means the humor is very British, aka dry and sarcastic. If that is not your scene, then the humor of this book may not be for you. As a lover of British content and sarcastic humor, I gravitated towards this book like a moth to flame. A lot of this humor comes from the twists that the authors concoct. I don’t want to give everything away, but the obstacles put in the characters’ paths are both interesting and funny. Another thing that adds to the humor of this book is the character dynamics. There are many characters in this story, all of whom play a part in the coming apocalypse. As the characters come together, you get a fun mesh of different personalities playing off each other. And, of course, the word choices are perfect to add that dry British humor to this story.

Image from Giphy

  1. So many ways to enjoy the story!

Are you a reader? A fan of booktapes? Or maybe you prefer to enjoy storytelling through tv or movies? Well, this story is for you! One of the awesome things about Good Omens is the many ways you can enjoy the story. There’s the classic novel, which is a great way to enjoy the story. If you are more of a book tape fan, Audible has multiple versions that you can enjoy. The BBC has a dramatized version of the book tape told by different actors. It has also been adapted for the screen! Amazon Prime recently released a miniseries version of Good Omens starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen. The miniseries has some changes, but it’s still a very faithful adaptation of the book. Pick one, or all, and you’re sure to have a great time!

Image from Giphy

  1. The world building 

While this story is about the end of the world, it still has a great use of world building. The book and the miniseries are great at introducing you to the world Crowley and Aziraphale live in. While the setting is England, the world of these characters involves a good bit of supernatural and otherworldly entities. For example; the story does a great job of describing Heaven and Hell, as well as those who inhabit them. My favorite version of this is when the story goes on to describe how, if ever, angels and demons dance. This is even better in the miniseries, where they use visual gags to add humor and get the point across. They also use verses from Revelations as a jumping off point. Often they flip them on their head as well, which adds a fun depth and twist to the world. 

Good Omens has been a fun part of my life since I first read it in college. I was happy to join the multitude of fans who love this book. It’s a fun, satirical book that is a perfect read to enjoy on a cool fall day. Or any day, really. Have you ever read Good Omens? What did you think about it? If you end up watching or reading this story in the future, please let me know. I’m excited to hear more people’s thoughts. Also, if you have any books that you have to read every fall, please let me know in the comments below. I would love some new book recommendations. Thanks so much for checking out my post, and happy reading!

Why I love Mythology Adaptations

When I was a young girl, I lived in a world of stories. Bedtime stories full of adventures and the lives of little women, TV shows teaching me to read, and more. When I could put the sentences together on my own, I opened myself up to a new world of imagination. One day, my mom bought me a kid’s version of Greek mythology and the rest is history. 

Since that time around the age of 7, I’ve gone through an on and off relationship with mythology. It was fascinating to hear the stories of people thousands of years back in time. I could understand their version of why the sun set, why the seasons change, even the origin of arachnids. During my off time with mythology, I came across a series that many know well: Percy Jackson.

Percy Jackson introduced me to a new world of storytelling: adaptations of mythology. Through Percy’s snarky point of view, I relearned some things and even learned a few new things along the way. It was a wonderful combination of a more dynamic tone with a nod to the stories I knew and loved. After devouring that series, I went on a quest to find more stories adapting all types of mythology. 

 Twelve years later, I’m still drawn to these adaptations. I love the way these storytellers breathe new life into stories. From podcasts to musicals, the opportunities are endless. I can see the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice in a new time. Modern storytellers can weave the stories in a modern tone and bring a new understanding. What brings me the most joy about these is not only the new life it creates for these stories. It is the knowledge that somewhere, someone will pick up an adaptation for the first time. And after their interest has peaked, they might go down the mythology rabbit hole and find a new thing to love. 

What do you think of mythology adaptations? Do you have a favorite one? Let me know in the comments below! After many years as a fan of mythology, I’m always excited to find a new version of a classic story. Bonus points if it introduces me to a new world of mythology that I’ve never visited before. Thanks so much for tuning in to my nerdy gushing, and happy reading!

A Goodreads 2020 Update!

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow we’ll be into month seven of 2020! To call this year a wild-ride would most likely be an understatement. Every week I have thought “I wonder what surprise occurrence will happen this time.” Like I said in my last post, I have been able to focus more on my hobbies to keep my spirits up. One of the small silver linings of this time is that I have more time to read. And since I’ve laid out a more challenging Goodreads goal this year, it’s a welcome opportunity.

When I discovered the Goodreads challenge a few years ago, I found it a way to make my reading feel productive. Recently, I’ve been procrastinating on doing some productive things by doing others. Instead of vacuuming, I’m watching a video about a historical figure. When I should be searching the internet for blog inspiration, I’m reading. It has been a great way to feel that I’ve accomplished something during this weird time vortex.

Thanks to the miracle of book tapes and intriguing storytelling, I’ve clocked myself in at 24 books as of the publication of this post. To my utter excitement, I’m 5 books ahead of schedule. According to the Goodreads site, that is. There’s hope that I’ll wrap up with 40 books, or maybe even more, by Jan 1, 2021!

While this is exciting, I haven’t challenged myself with a book recently. I’ve been diving into the glorious world of beach mysteries and fun rom-coms. These are lovely books to read, but I wanted to add some classics and “challenging” reads to my reading list. I want to learn, to grow as a person in this crazy world we live in. I also want to beef up my random fact repertoire, which I feel has been a bit stagnant since I graduated college. Either way, I’m looking forward to the new worlds and stories that are in my future

Do you have any book recommendations that you think I should add to my list? How is your Goodreads challenge going? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for checking out my blog. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for around eight months! It makes me so happy that my words are interesting enough for you to return for new posts. I hope y’all have a great week, and happy reading!

5 Awesome Audible Audiobooks to Check Out

In this magical, modern world, there are so many ways to read. Kindles, Nooks, modern phones, and audio books have joined the ranks of physical books. That means we can read almost anywhere, at any time! One of the newer ways to enjoy your favorite story is Audible. For anyone unaware, Audible is an audio book monthly subscription. Through the magical world of Audible, I’ve been able to enjoy countless books. I can listen to them while driving, while cleaning, even while I’m chasing down my dog for his frisbee! 

Audiobooks can sometimes make you miss the feeling of a physical book, but they can also elevate the story. I have been able to enjoy many books more through audio books than through the physical book itself. These books are often non-fiction, or even self-help books. But there are fiction books that I adore in the audiobook version more. Here are a few of my favorites to check out the next time you log into your Audible account!

  1. Six of Crows

Six of Crows, by the wonderful Leigh Bardugo, is a marvel in any form. The story of a group of teens off to pull the most daring heist in the Grishaverse. Led by Kaz Brekker, the most dangerous criminal prodigy in Ketterdam, the group is bound for a crazy ride. This story unfolds through the POVs of seven characters. A mighty challenge for those creating audiobooks! Instead of using one person to play all the characters, each POV has a different voice actor. When they begin their chapters, the character shines through the voice actor. The different voices also help you distinguish when point-of-views switch. It’s also very useful for pronunciation! There is amazing world building, which comes with many new words. Words that my silly brain couldn’t figure out. With the audio book, I know how to say words like Fjerda and Hringkälla! If you’re interested, you can check out this audiobook here.

  1. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

To anyone who has read my past blog posts or asked me for book recommendations, this isn’t a surprise. I love the Flavia series by Alan Bradley, especially the audio books. Jayne Entwistle brings the character of Flavia to life in a brilliant way. We sometimes forget that she’s an eleven year-old girl solving crime, but Jayne doesn’t. She always includes Flavia’s intelligence and her childlike wonder in her performance. It makes Flavia even more of a dynamic character! This audiobook is also great for what I call the “sciency nerd time” sections of the book. These sections are wonderful character building sections for Flavia, and are super educational. The problem is that my brain is not very fond of understanding science, especially chemistry. Reading it on a page makes me feel like I’m stepping back into chemistry class. The audiobook makes it way easier to understand the scientific reactions that Flavia describes. Jayne also does an amazing job of selling Flavia’s excitement to talk about chemistry. She sounds adorable, despite her discussion about poisons. Flavia in a nutshell. If you want to listen to a Holmes-esc character solve crime, check out this audiobook here.

  1. Sherlock Holmes Series

Odds are that you’ve seen these stories around. One of it’s main characters is one of the most famous fictional detectives in history after all! Sherlock Holmes is a household name, with millions discovering his adventures every year. He has been in movies, TV shows, plays, and more. It makes sense that there’d be at least one audiobook of his adventures. Stephen Fry does a spectacular job bringing the voices of Watson and Holmes to life in this audiobook. Stephen’s soothing British accent pulls you into the world of Victorian London. The language and customs of the time sound perfectly normal in his accent. His telling of the classic tales somehow makes more sense to the modern reader than a first glance at the story. For those who struggle with the writing style of the late 1800s, this is a great way to get into Holmes. If you’re looking for something to listen to on a rainy day, it’s the perfect audiobook to check out. Make sure you don’t forget the warm beverage, especially if it’s tea! If you want to dive into the world of Sherlock Holmes, you can check out the audiobook here.

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This series is full of strong childhood memories more many people, including myself. I still remember when I read the first book and the first time I heard the audiobook. The audiobook versions of the series are already well-loved by the fans. Jim Dale’s voice sounds like our childhood, like warmth on a cold day. Jim’s voice brings the magic of the world to life with his calming accent that’s full of wit and charm. His voice reminds me of my first introduction to Harry Potter. I was riding with my friend’s family in their station wagon with backwards facing seats on the way to the movies. They played Jim’s voice over the car speakers everywhere they drove. My friends family used to joke that they were the Weasleys every time they pulled out the book tape. When I was older, my sister discovered the audiobook on Audible. We jumped at the chance to hear it again. Despite my many repeats of the books and movies, Jim Dale’s voice always makes the story fresh. And if you reread books like I do, that is always the best kind of audiobook. If you want to check out the audiobook version of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, you can check it out here.

  1. Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is another novel that’s making it’s return to Sorry I’m Booked. As a lover of the movies inspired by many of Jane Austen’s novels, I wanted to finally read her most famous for myself. One chapter in, I ran into a recurring problem for me when reading classics; the language. I read many classics for high school and college, including Jane Austen. Now my brain correlates that language with dreaded homework. I’ve tried countless times to reverse it, but it’s hard to forget all the papers and in-class analysis. When I stumbled upon the audiobook version, I sighed with relief. When you listen to classics they are so much easier to understand, especially with a good voice actor. Considering this audiobook has Rosamund Pike, Jane in the 2005 movie, as the voice actor, I had high hopes. Rosamund does a great job giving life to the multitude of characters. She even made Mr. Collins worse than I remember with the stuffy and slimy voice she gave his character. Her voice transports you to the world of Elizabeth, and makes the language of her world less daunting. If you’re interested in taking a trip to the world of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, check out the audiobook here

What are your favorite audiobooks? If you’ve listened to any of these, what were your thoughts about them? Let me know in the comments below! If there’s an audiobook that you think I have to check out right now, you can send over a recommendation here. Don’t forget to enjoy some sunshine while you’re listening to the next audiobook. Happy reading and listening!

3 Ways Reading Improves Your Writing Skills

If you talk to a writer in the throes of their writing process, you’ll hear a similar thought: “writing is hard”. This is especially true when you’re kind of new to writing, like me. If it’s a writer with the cursed writer’s block, the feeling is tenfold. There are many different ways to help improve your writing skills. Among this list of ideas is one that some writers stay away from like it’s the plague; reading. 

Reading, believe it or not, can be a huge asset to your writing skills. This is a fact that most writers know well, but some still shake their heads at the idea. Reading novels, especially ones in the same genre that you’re writing, is a great way to hone your craft. Think about a book that you love the most in the genre. What do you like about it?  Why do you return to the novel over and over again? Considering these questions can help you improve three aspects of your story. 

1. Stronger Characters

Oftentimes our favorite stories give us examples of how to improve our characters. Reread the novel and consider a few things as you read. What are the strengths of these characters? What are their weaknesses? Are there traits that make them especially likable? If it’s a villain/antagonist, how do they challenge the protagonist? Also, how do all the characters add to the plot progression?

Keep a notebook or laptop beside you and take notes. Consider some of the questions I asked and any others that you feel are important. After you’ve compiled a list of these traits, think about how you can apply them to your novel. Make sure you’re not copying and pasting these characters into your own story. They are inspiration, not parts of a story to recycle. If I recycled traits from Poirot and created a similar Belgian sleuth, it would be obvious. Instead, use general descriptions of the characters you admire and adapt them to your own. Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes? Instead of creating a carbon copy of the sleuth, hone in on what makes you like him. If it’s his observation skills, use that to create a character with sharp skills in a different way. They could be a smart socialite who can read people from their years of training. Or, they could be a dedicated Doctor who spends hours studying their patients to be the best Doctor they can. 

In some genres it can be hard to take inspiration without people noticing, like the mystery genre. If you have an observant person solving a case, people are going to think of Holmes. Make sure you add other traits to your characters to make them more than a carbon copy.  

2. Honed Writing Style

Deciding on a writing style can be a tricky task. You have to consider the genre, the story, the characters, and what you want to say with your story. This is when consulting books in the same genre is a must. When reading them, pay attention to their style. Are they witty? Is the writing painting a vivid world, or one left up to the reader’s imagination? What kind of words and sentence structure do they use? Is it more light-hearted or serious?

Get that notebook or laptop out again and keep the notes flowing. Jot down some keywords to describe the writing styles you gravitate towards. Do this for stories within and outside the genre you’re writing. Use these words to find the commonalities. If you find the witty and punchy style of Terry Pratchett up your alley, think about why. How can you adapt it to help improve your style? I find it also helps to read the novel that inspires you right before writing. If you have the style and vibe fresh in your mind, it’s way easier to channel it in your own story. Make sure you’re not copying, instead use that style to pull a similar vibe out of your own writing skills. 

3.  Well-formed Plots

Plotting has always been the bane of my existence. I can jump around and write scenes, but putting them into a coherent plot is another story. When I’m lost I look to stories within the genre that I want to write. If you experience a similar situation, ask yourself a few questions while reading. What plot structure are they using? How do they build the story so that the end makes sense? If it’s a mystery, how are they dropping hints to the readers? What about the story structure makes the climax impactful? 

As you’ve suspected, it’s time to take notes. Think about some of the questions I’ve asked, as well as any others you find important to your story. Also, pay attention to how the plot impacts the characters. A good plot has to include character growth! If you can get your hands on a book on plot structure, it’s also a great help. I read Save the Cat Write a Novel by Jessica Brody. It was a real lifesaver! Once you have all your notes complied, try plotting out your own novel. Writing key plot points on notecards and placing them on a wall is a great way to organize. If you want to challenge yourself, try using this method to visualize the plot of the novel you studied. Once you have it in front of you, take notes or pictures of the sections of the plot that you want to put into your own story. With these ideas at hand you can get off to the races!

How does reading improve your writing skills? Is there a novel that inspired you to write? Let me know in the comments below! I hope that you can apply some of this advice to your own stories in the future. Good luck with your writing, and happy reading!

A Love Letter to Agatha Christie

It’s finally March! There’s a hint of spring on the horizon, and the daffodils have started to peep through. March is not only the kick-off of spring. It’s also International Women’s Month. I wanted to highlight some female writers and protagonists this month. Why not start this month on a high note with one of the most famous female writers in the world? Agatha Christie is one of the most well-known mystery writers in history. With 80 works published during her writing career, she is an inspiration to writers.

I was first introduced to Agatha Christie in my teens by my grandmother. As a lover of English history and stories, she has the BBC Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot box sets. My grandmother told me all about the stories, and a bit about Agatha herself. When I was in college, I finally read an Agatha Christie novel. I still remember the intensity of reading And Then There Were None in my dorm room. Also, the irritated look of my roommate after I scared her half to death by throwing the novel across the room. Her stories are so well-plotted and rich that her plot twists make me angry. It’s baffling to me that she was able to write 80 works of this caliber!  

The stories I have read by Agatha are intriguing. Among the countless classics, there are some standouts that make her the Queen of the plot twist. Her plays, short stories, and novels are a wonderful study of how to build a good mystery. When I have a story idea wrapped in a mystery, I always want to build a story worthy of Agatha. Her masterful use of point-of-view and small details are a perfect study. I’ve read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd a few times for writing inspiration! I have only read seven of her stories, but I know that the other 73 will offer the same caliber of inspiration.

Agatha Christie herself is a woman full of mysteries and sharp wit. She came up with Hercule Poirot, one of her most famous detectives, in her twenties! Agatha also managed to completely disappear for 10 days before authorities found her. With all the information we know now, we still aren’t completely sure what happened.  She also worked on archeology digs around the Middle East with her second husband. During this time, she would write 3-4 books in a year. Can you imagine writing a high-caliber story like that in a year? Let alone three stories? She kept her pace going throughout WWII and didn’t slow down until her mid-50s.

Since Agatha first began writing she has become an iconic part of the mystery genre. Her characters are still referenced in pop culture today. Modern writers use her plots as inspiration for their stories. From tv to books, you can find the ghost of Agatha Christie almost anywhere. It’s inspiring that one of the most famous female authors in history wrote mysteries. The kind of stories that need a clever mind to create the story, and then hide the clues. One day, I hope that I can unlock that side of my brain and create wonderful stories. Until then, I’ll continue on my quest to read all her works. Maybe a line or character will spark something for me. It’s possible that with her guiding me, I can uncover a story of my own.

What Agatha Christie book is your favorite? Who is your favorite female author? Let me know in the comments below! I have so many others, but couldn’t resist an opportunity to fangirl over Agatha! If there are books by female authors that you would like to recommend, you can do so here. Thanks so much for reading, and happy International Women’s Month!

10 Harry Potter Quotes That are Super Relatable

Since its publication, Harry Potter has been a touchstone of popular culture. Like many iconic stories, the quotes of Harry Potter are everywhere. From words of encouragement during dark times to sassy one-liners, this series has it all. These quotes are somehow extremely relatable in the real world despite a disappointing lack of magic. Here are five situations where the sentiment of these quotes ring true:

  1. When you decide to question instructions from your boss or teacher.
  1. When you don’t want to do the thing and your friends try to help you get out of it.
  1. Any introvert who just wants to chill out and read their book for the 10th time.
  1. That feeling when you’re so tired that a burn just kind of slips out. Goodbye filter, hello sass master.
  1. When it’s hour six of studying for finals with your friends and you’re beyond done.
  1. When someone’s being super unclear for the 90th time and you’re done.
  1. When someone’s trying to convince you to do something stupid and you can see the “bad idea” sign flashing over their head.
  1. When you’re procrastinating but know your adult responsibilities are lurking.
  1. When you accidentally let a secret slip to a gossipmonger.
  1. When someone’s acting like a jerk and you’re the only one who seems to care.

What is your favorite Harry Potter quote?  Let me know in the comments below! There are so many gems that it was difficult to narrow it down to this list. With a sassy character like Harry as the main character, the relatable quotes are endless. When was the last time you read these books? It might be time to crack open the series again to re-experience these awesome characters. Happy reading!