2016 Wrap-Up | 2017 Reading Challenge

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I did it!  With 45 minutes to spare on New Year’s Eve, I completed both of my reading challenges for 2016.  Here is what I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge:

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📚 Published This Year •

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

📚 Finish in a Day •

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

📚 Meaning to Read •

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

📚 Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian •

The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket 

📚 Should Have Read in School •

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace 

📚 Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF •

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar 

📚 Published Before You Were Born •

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

📚 Banned at Some Point •

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

📚 Previously Abandoned •

Elixir trilogy by Hilary Duff 

📚 Own But Never Read •

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson 

📚 Intimidates You •

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

📚 Already Read at Least Once •

Sisters of the Quilt trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall 

• Total: 12 categories & 31 books

• Here are links to my blog updates & my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge:

2016 Reading Challenge

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Life Update | November 2016

– My 2016 GoodReads Reading Challenge

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I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but here I am.  I’ve decided to once again do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge.  Keep reading to find out my tentative list for the twelve categories.

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📚 A Book You Chose For the Cover – The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

I found this gem in my local library’s teeny tiny used bookstore.  The bright yellow bird against a blue background hooked me, and the murder mystery synopsis reeled me in.  I’m trying my best not to build expectations, but I really hope this book is as good as I want it to be.

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-AbleSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this book.  Some people have said it’s one of their favorite books/duologies ever written.  Of course I’m going to start with the first book, but I am optimistic that I will be purchasing book two very soon.

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit – The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Fun fact: I am dying to visit Egypt!!  Egyptology is one of my favorite subjects to learn about.

📚 A Book You’ve Already ReadThe Rook by Steven James

The Patrick Bowers Files series is AMAZING.  To be fair, I’ve only read the first two books, but how could it possibly go downhill from there??  I would actually like to read a few of the books in this series in 2017, but I’m setting the bar low so I don’t get too stressed.  I want these reading challenges to remain fun!

📚 A Juicy Memoir –  In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett

DUH!  Who wouldn’t want to read behind-the-scenes stories about The Carol Burnett Show?!

📚 A Book About Books or Reading – Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

This book is part of one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  It has been on my shelf for a few years, and it’s about time I got around to reading it.  Fun Fact: The main character’s cat is named Miss Marple.  How cute is that?!

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

I rarely read and enjoy contemporary books outside of the mystery genre, but I’m willing to give this book a chance since it revolves around books.

📚 A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to ReadHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m not embarrassed about this book.  It’s just weird to admit that I’ve never read such a beloved series.  My aunt was kind enough to give me the first book for my birthday so I will definitely be reading it this year.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author – Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

I received all of the books Tessa Afshar has published thus far as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.  I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish all of them before January 1, 2018.

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great TasteAs Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

My friend Gabby recommended the Mark of the Lion series years ago, and I finally got around to reading books one and two in 2015.  The experience was so unbelievably mind blowing that I had to take a break.  There is no longer a good excuse so I need to pick up book three NOW.

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy But Haven’t Read YetThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am on pins and needles waiting to read this book.  I’m going to watch the movie with my brother first since that’s what I did with Gone Girl.  I realize that sounds like reader sacrilege, but I’m not your average bibliophile.  Watching the movie first or liking it better doesn’t bother me. ;)

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already LoveWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I haven’t actually seen the musical yet, but I am obsessed with the story and soundtrack.  I liked The Wizard of Oz growing up but fell out of love with it for a period of time.  Listening to the Wicked soundtrack every day has made me fall back in love with Oz, and I am ready to read the story that started it all.  I am on page 32 and loving it so far. 💚

• Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Goodreads Website 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy Blog

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Happy Endings and Midnight Madness

Once Upon a HolidayEvans, Lisa. Nordstrom – Once Upon A Holiday. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/29318404@N08/2736221227/&gt;.

(Technically the contents of this post took place after midnight, but “Midnight Madness” sounds much more poetic than  “After Midnight Madness” or “Post-Midnight Madness.”)

Last night was one of those magical nights that I have every once in awhile as a writer.  It is an experience that produces both positive and negative results.  I was in the mood for a movie, specifically a murder mystery.  Unfortunately, I had already finished the Miss Marple DVD recently checked out from the library.  I did the next best thing and checked Youtube for any free episodes that had slipped under the radar of the copyright police.  Nada.  I moved on to Hulu, and this is where the magic began.  I did not find a Miss Marple murder mystery, but I did discover a British romance film entitled “Not Another Happy Ending.”  I was not particularly in the mood for a romance flick, but I was bored and decided to give it a chance since it was already past midnight.

The  basic synopsis is as follows: After discovering that his top-selling author Jane Lockhart writes best when unhappy, publisher Tom Duvall secretly plots to make her miserable.  Sometime during the process, he discovers that he is in love with her.

Jane’s character reminded me so much of myself.  Unless something extremely emotional in my life has happened, I do not feel inspired to write.  This is my creative process, and I love it.  Writing has become my therapy.; I do not turn to my journals unless I need to vent or have something meaningful to say.  When I force myself to write, which includes blogging, I find no joy or meaning in what I write.  During the creative process of Jane’s novel in the film, I found myself desiring to write.  When the movie was finished, nothing but book ideas were floating around in my brain.  Naturally I could not sleep because my brain would not shut off.  I sprayed my pillow with lavender and inhaled the scent of my Eucalyptus Spearmint lotion; that probably sounds weird, but those two products have helped relieve my insomnia therefore I remain a religious consumer.  I finally started to feel sleepy, but my mind was still producing thoughts at top speed.  I realized my eyes weren’t shutting because a beam of light was shining down directly onto my pillow.  I should now mention that I sleep best in complete darkness, which is ironic considering the irrational fears I feel in the dark.  I looked up and saw that a beautiful 3/4 moon was the source of the light.  I laid down and stared up at the moon.  In that moment, I felt like God was confirming that all the ideas being produced by my imagination were good ideas.  Sleep came soon after my revelation.  I now have five book ideas in my head and hope I live long enough to complete each and every one of them.

I bid you all a good night.  Follow your dreams readers!

-Lauren Michele :)

“I’ve never seen a moon in the sky that, if it didn’t take my breath away, at least misplaced it for a moment.”  – Colin Farrell

If you wish to watch “Not Another Happy Ending”, here is the link: http://www.hulu.com/watch/727435

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