My Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018

Another year has passed, which means another year’s worth of reading to celebrate! Yes, it’s time to share my favorite fiction reads of 2018. And let me tell you: Even though I had a pretty good idea which of the 53 fiction books I finished last year would end up on this list, I’m glad I didn’t share my list right away – because there was a last-minute shake-up!

Like with past best-of reading lists I’ve posted, this year’s showcases my 10 favorite brand new books of 2018 and 10 favorite previously published books. Unlike past years, though, I’ve made two notable changes. First, goodness, there were too many close calls when I tried ranking the books from #1 to #10! So I opted for alphabetical listing by title instead. Second, and sadly, no giveaway this year. As fun as giveaways can be, I can’t give one the attention it needs right now. So I hope you understand my need for keeping things simple, and you still enjoy reading this post regardless.

Ready to dive into the first list? 😉

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My Favorite Fiction Reads of Fall 2018

Is it really the last week of 2018?? How crazy is that? I could swear that not too long ago, I started reading my first book of the year. And now, 51 weeks and 53 fiction reads later, Christmas has come and gone and 2019 is around the corner. I hope you’ve enjoyed your December holidays so far, and any New Year’s plans you have are fun, warm, and safe. ❤

Out of the 11 books I finished reading over the fall, I’m highlighting my nine favorites in today’s post. The funny thing is, I’m also working on my Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018 post, which will go live in mid-January… and you’ll hear about some of these books again then. No spoilers, though – you’ll have to wait a few more weeks to find out which books made that list. Until then, enjoy these reviews! And feel free to visit each book’s Goodreads page by clicking on its title.  Continue reading

New DIY MFA Post and a Quick Holiday Message

In my DIY MFA posts, we spend a lot of time discussing how to explore literary themes. But we’ve yet to cover why any one theme should matter to readers. So this week, I return to the theme of family (which we first examined in this case study) and share five reasons why it’s so important. From the different types of families to historical and cultural perspectives on family, these whys show how complex and powerful this theme is and how a story can act as a window into the dynamics of a family that’s different than yours or as a mirror of your own.

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The Seven-Day Book Challenge

Recently, a Facebook friend tagged me on the Seven-Day Book Challenge. I finally got around to it a few weeks ago and “double-teamed” it through FB and Instagram. And then I thought, “Why not share it on the blog, too?”

The rules of the Seven-Day Book Challenge are simple: For seven days, you share a photo or image on Facebook of a different favorite book and nominate another friend to carry on the challenge. There’s no set theme to follow, and you don’t need to write a caption or explanation for why you choose each book. You simply share the photo, tag a friend, and reply to any comments. But for this blog post, I think I’ll “break” one of those rules. 😉

Here are the books I chose for the Seven-Day Book Challenge, and why I picked each one.

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What’s Making Me Happy: October and November 2018

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….”

Seriously, though. Can you believe Christmas is a month away?? Thanksgiving was last Thursday here in the States, and now it feels like full steam ahead to the end of the year. Thank goodness I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping already… Because if the past two months are any indication, this December is going to be my busiest one in a long time.

I’m not joking. October and November were kind of crazy on my end. In a good way, though. (Wait – is there such a thing as a good kind of crazy-busy?) But I’ve made time to have some fun and take care of myself. So here are some of the things that have made me happy over the past two months, starting with…

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Poetry and Nonfiction Reading Round-Up: October 2018

I had an idea while preparing the Favorite Fiction Reads of Summer 2018 post recently. Even though I read nonfiction (mainly on writing and creativity) and poetry as well as fiction, I only ever blog about fiction. But I’m not just a reader. I’m also a poet, a dabbler in speculative fiction, and a perpetual student of the craft of writing. So why not blog about the other kinds of books I read, since they’re just as important to my literary life?

Hence this week’s experiment. This round-up shares mini-reviews of five poetry books and four “writerly” nonfiction books I’ve read over the past few months. If any of them pique your interest, you can check out more information on Goodreads via the link in each title. Most importantly, if this kind of post is something you’d like to see again (maybe every 3 or 4 months), let me know in your comments. That’s the best way for me to know whether this is worth continuing as a blog series.

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My Favorite Fiction Reads of Summer 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve done a seasonal write-up on what I’ve read recently – and boy, it feels good to do one again. Maybe it’s because I read some FANTASTIC books over the past couple months, including a few that might end up near the top of my year-end favorites list. But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? We still have three months left in 2018. Who knows how the rest of the year will play out reading-wise, for all of us? 😉

Anyway. Over the summer, I read 13 books, bringing my year-to-date total to 41. Out of those 13, the eight I’m highlighting today are ones I rated 4 stars or higher on Goodreads. (You might be able to guess a few of them from the banner image above. *wink*) If you’d like to check out my complete review of any of these books on Goodreads, click the link in each book’s title.

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The Creativity Corner: Summer 2018 (Plus, A Question for Readers)

So… in terms of writing, this summer turned out much differently than I’d expected it to. If you read last week’s post on losing the passion for a writing project, then you know part of the story. (More on that shortly.) Yet it wasn’t an unproductive or disappointing season. In fact, some good things happened, like continued excitement about A Literary Tea Party, the cookbook I recently wrote an introduction for. And who knows, there may be more news to share in the future. 😉

I know, I’m being a tease. But one thing that’s clear? The second part of the blog post title. I might be making some changes to this series, and I’d appreciate any input that you, the reader, may have.

Let’s dive in so I can explain things in more detail.

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New Post at DIY MFA on Revising (or Avoiding) Preachy Themes in Your Story

DiyMFA

What does it mean when someone describes a story as “preachy”? It doesn’t mean the story is religious. Rather, it means the story’s themes are presented in a forceful or one-sided manner – an approach that often turns readers off. So, in today’s edition of Theme: A Story’s Soul at DIY MFA, I share three writing mistakes that can lead to preachy themes in a story, as well as solutions for each that can bring more subtlety, balance, and realism to how those themes are portrayed. Continue reading

Five Reasons to Read a Poem Every Day (or Every Night)

About a year-and-a-half ago, I began reading one poem a day before going to bed. If time allowed, I might read two poems, especially if I was alternating between a regular poetry book and a longer “best-of” collection. Since then, this habit has become as essential to my routine as writing, breathing, and sleeping. More importantly, I’ve already noticed the impact it’s had on my writing as well as my life in general. (That last bit might be a story for another day. *wink*)

Maybe you love poetry, too, yet you struggle to find time to read it because of work, family, and other responsibilities. Or perhaps you haven’t read much poetry before and would like that to change. Reading a poem a day could be the perfect solution – because, like other habits that eventually stick, you might find yourself enjoying this short, simple act so much that your routine will feel incomplete without it.

So, how can you benefit from reading a poem a day? Why should you even try in the first place? Let me give you five reasons, starting with…

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