Monday, April 23, 2018

Shelf Chat: What's Up With Me (Summer Lane!), and What's On My Shelf

If you're too busy to're too busy! I've always been one of those people who likes to fill their days and weeks up with activities. I work, I schedule, and run around. I have a calendar/planner on my desk that's half as tall as I am. There's so much going on in my life at any one time that the only way I'll remember to do anything is if I write it down and then proceed to set five thousand reminders on my phone! 

Over the past couple of years, I've been so busy writing books, teaching classes, and running Writing Belle Publishing, that my inner bookworm has been deprived. To put this in perspective, I used to read at least a hundred books a year, every year, just for fun. Last year I read somewhere between 30-40 books. Keep in mind, I'm a very fast reader, but for me, that's not very much reading. That's barely squeezing a book in here and there! By the time I reach the end of the day, my eyes are physically worn out, so it's either an audiobook or Netflix that I reach for, because even my glasses can't clear up the bleariness I have to deal with after a long day of working. 

This year, I'm changing things up. Many of you know that I went back to school this year. I'm taking a science-heavy major (veterinary technology, followed by zoology), which means I'm doing tons of textbook reading. It also means that I'm running Writing Belle Magazine and Writing Belle Publishing part time so I can focus on school. I'm still writing books (Cassidy Hart is so much a part of me, we don't know how to separate from each other! ;), and I'm busier than ever, raising my two German Shepherd pups, keeping my house clean, maintaining a decent social life, and running to the grocery store so we don't run out of cereal or Pop-Tarts! **wink** 

Despite the busyness of my life, I was determined to begin this year with more time for reading and relaxing and enjoying every day! How do I do that? I schedule "down days." These are days when I have no events planned, no work scheduled, and no homework on the horizon. These are days when I can either stay home or jump in the car and go shopping with a friend or catch a movie with my husband. Adhering to a strict schedule where I have firm, non-negotiable "no-work days" has been an amazing change for me! I'm reading at least one new book per week (in another life I would have been reading at least 3, but hey...I'll take what I can get!), and I have time to take my dogs to the park or hang out with some gal pals here and there. 

I'd love to encourage all of you to make time for yourself, too! Realize that it's okay to rest and relax and be kind to yourself. Life can be stressful, and we all deserve a "chill pill" every once in a while. 

On that note, here are some of the books that are currently on my shelf - some of them I have already read, and some of them are up next in my reading cue. If you've been reading Writing Belle for the past 6-7 years, you know that my reading tastes are wide and varied - I'll pretty much read anything, so don't be surprised by the eclectic variety I've accumulated so far in 2018! 

Stalking Jack the Ripper, by Kerri Maniscalco. This book was such a refreshing change from some of the stuff I'd been reading. A historical fiction about a girl who falls in love with Jack the Ripper? Go, run. Buy this book and read every page. There are two more books, too: Hunting Prince Dracula and Escaping from Houdini. I loved this book, and I highly recommend this author. 

What She Knew, by Gilly MacMillan. Currently reading right now. A mother's young son goes missing, and what ensues is a taut psychological thriller that Liane Moriarty calls, "An amazing, gripping, beautifully written debut." I grabbed it on Kindle for just 1.99 during a sale. If you like mysteries, you'll enjoy this one. 

Cut, by Annelie Wendeberg. This book was gifted to me by its amazing author, Annelie. I love the tagline: "Ten billion died. Three million are left clawing for survival. One more death doesn't make a difference, does it?" I'm currently reading this one, too, and I'm excited to meet the main character, a girl named Micka. 

Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, P.H.D. Yes, this book was released a long time ago, but I'm slowly reading it over the course of 2018. It's not what I would call "light reading." It's a spiritual look at the inner machinations of the female mind, body, and spirit. Estes takes readers on a poetic journey to help you return to your true self. That is, Wolf Woman. 

The Complete Novels and Stories of Rudyard Kipling. Check it out, folks! You can pick up so many classic short stories and novels on Kindle for little to no cost. Rudyard Kipling wrote the classic and iconic Jungle Book, as well as another one of my favorites, Riki Tiki Tavi. I've also  been perusing this collection, reading one thing at a time. Kipling was an amazing writer! 

A Dark Lure, by Loreth Anne White. Yes, I've got a thing for missing-persons mysteries and thrillers. This novel covers the story of a woman who was abducted and abused by someone called the "Watt Lake Killer." She escaped, but now, 12 years looks like the killer is back. There's romance, action, and mystery here. I also picked this up for 1.99 during a sale, but now it's available for 4.99 (still a great price!). 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, by Rick Riordan. I'm re-reading this AMAZING and PERFECT series from the genius mind of Rick Riordan. This was my favorite series when I was a young teen, and I had forgotten how incredible it was. I cannot recommend the series enough. It's got the perfect balance of narrative humor to action and emotional punch. My favorite middle grade series of all time - yes, I do like it better than Harry Potter ( gasp! )! 

Plague Land, by Alex Scarrow. This novel, about a genetically self-aware virus that destroy the world, is pretty dark. I picked it up because I can't help but read apocalyptic stories, and this one had a very interesting and unique twist that other doomsday books don't. Instead of a zombie virus or even a nuclear war, the enemy here is an intelligent, parasitic host that spreads, multiplies, destroys, devours, and then reforms. The idea is that the virus literally steals DNA and genetic material from all life on earth and tries to create its own twisted form of life, resulting in a devastating and grotesque form of evolution. Not sure if there's going to be another book. 

How Dogs Love Us, Gregory Burns. A neuroscientist uses the brain of his adopted dog to "decode the canine brain." This is basically an entertaining narrative of a scientific study of what goes on in our favorite furry friends' brains. I'm an animal science major, so I couldn't resist picking this up. I mean...LOOK AT THE DOG. TOO CUTE. 

Dog On It, by Spencer Quinn. I'm also getting ready to read this one, the first in the series of Chet and Bernie Mysteries. Told from the perspective of a dog, it offers a fun and fresh take on narration. 

Have any books you think I should be reading? Feel free to recommend! You can reach me on Instagram (@writingbelle), Twitter (@SummerEllenLane), and Facebook (@SummerLaneAuthor). 

The books and covers here on Writing Belle are meant to further the creative intent of the authors and to recommend their purchase for my readers. No sponsorship is involved. I genuinely would love to see you check out these books!

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