Books Finished in 2013

Best Books of 2013
Best Books of 2013

Don’t buy any more books until you finish the ones that you already own.

That was my mantra throughout 2013. Although I didn’t stick to this rule 100% of the time, it helped me finish several books that have been on my “to read” shelf for years.

Here are the books I read in 2013:

  1. The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
  2. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan*
  3. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  4. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  5. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
  6. Life, The Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams
  7. So Long and Thanks for the Fish by Douglas Adams
  8. Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
  9. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  10. Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
  11. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  12. A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane**
  13. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  14. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
  15. Inferno by Dan Brown

Comment below if you’d like me to review any of these books!

The Keeper of the Balance – A Prologue

This is a very rough draft to the prologue of something I’ve been working on…

Death is a mere technicality. At least for Sam. When you are immortal and can travel between alternate realities, death doesn’t mean a thing.

But this story isn’t about Sam. Sam is simply one of the Keepers who can travel between these alternate realities and change things, keeping the Balance in check. The Balance is a complicated thing. Some humans are born with a destiny to accomplish, but die before they can complete the mission. This throws the universe off kilter. These souls can go back and complete the mission, but one can’t travel through time, only through alternate dimensions.

It all started when Sam was strolling through the Underworld, in the Field of the Lost Souls. A woman in her early twenties caught his eye. All she had to do was look at him—really look at him—and he knew that she was the one he was looking for.

Happy Banned Book Week 2013!

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association
Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

If something is controversial, then it’s often worth reading. At least that’s my philosophy.

Banned Book Week happens near the end of September each year. Its purpose is to inform the public about the censorship that happens in libraries and schools. The books on the list are frequently challenged, and many are banned in various schools and libraries.

Here are the 10 most frequently banned books of 2012:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a frequently challenged book list and realized that I’ve hardly read any of the books on it! Maybe I’m just getting old?

Fifty Shades of Grey is the only book on this list that I’m certain I’ve read. I feel like I might have read a Captain Underpants book at some point in elementary school, but I could be wrong on that.

Of the remaining books, The Glass Castle, Looking for Alaska, and The Kite Runner have been on my to-read list for some time. And Tango Makes Three might be worth a read too; since it’s a children’s picture book, it won’t take long to look through.

What’s your favorite book off of the 2013 Banned Book List?

Other Banned Book Week Posts:

Book Review: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project
The Happiness Project

When I picked up The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I was intrigued, but skeptical. How can following a happiness plan make you a happier person?

I don’t think that happiness is one of those things that you can plan out. It just is (or isn’t). You can tell yourself that if you do X, Y, and Z that you’ll be a happier person, but still wake up every morning miserable because your life isn’t what you want it to be. Would having a happiness plan help with that?

Now, this book isn’t intended for depressed people. It’s actually intended for people who are relatively happy with their lives, but know that things can be better.

Overall, I thought this book was an interesting read. You follow the Rubin through her 12-month happiness project. Each chapter covers a month, and each month covers a different area of her life, e.g., family, health, spirituality…

Although I recommend this book, I would never have the motivation to go through a happiness project myself. And I’m not sure that it would work for me either.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Rating: 3/5

Quick Grammar Tip: Importance of Commas

Image Credit: WeHeartIt.com

Happy Punctuation Day everyone!

I get teased for being a stickler about grammar, but not everyone realizes how important it can be. Even something as seemingly insignificant as a misplaced comma can change the entire meaning of a sentence.

Let’s take a look at the example used in the image above:

  1. “Let’s eat Grandpa!”
  2. “Let’s eat, Grandpa!”

In Example 1, the speaker literally wants to eat Grandpa. Poor Grandpa! On the other hand, Example 2 indicates that the speaker wants Grandpa to join him/her for a meal. Now that’s more like it!

Remember to use your commas wisely. After all, proper grammar can save lives!

Do you have any grammar questions or concerns? Email them to me at amy@amyerickson.net or leave them in a comment below!

 

 

Quick Grammar Tip: There/ They’re/ Their

Source: someecards.com via Amy on Pinterest

 

Do you know the difference between there, their, and they’re?

In short, there is a location. Their indicates possession. And they’re is a contraction for they are.

There

The word “there” indicates a location. If you can substitute “here” in place of “there” and have the sentence still make sense, then you picked the right one.

How do you make sure you have the right word?

Well, if you can substitute “here” in place of “there” and have the sentence still make sense, then you picked the right one. E.g. John is over there. / John is over here.

If you can substitute “our” in place of “their” and still have the sentence make sense, then you are using the right word. E.g. Sally is going to their house. / Sally is going to our house.

And last but not least, if you can substitute “they are” in place of “they’re” and the sentence still makes sense, you picked the right one. E.g. They’re happy to join us tonight. / They are happy to join us tonight.

See, it’s not that hard when

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Hunger Games fever was in the air a couple of months ago. Although I had read the trilogy months ago, another young adult dystopian novel caught my eye: Divergent by Veronica Roth.

Divergent is set in a dystopian Chicago that is set up into five groups or “factions.” Each faction represents the opposite of the trait that you believe was society’s downfall. The five factions are: Amity (Peace), Erudite (Knowledge), Abdication (Selfless), Dauntless (Courage), and Candor (Honesty). So if you believe that society’s downfall was that man is too selfish, you would be in Abdication.

16-year-old Beatrice (later known as Tris) was born and raised in Abdication, but never felt like she belonged. In fact, one faction in particular was constantly calling out her name.

When the 16-year-olds are tested to see which faction they belong to, Beatrice gets a dangerous result. She’s divergent. That means that there are several factions that Beatrice fits in, in her case, Dauntless, Abdication, and Erudite. On the choosing day, she picks Dauntless, a betrayal in the minds of her original faction.

The story isn’t over there. Dauntless candidates are put through a rigorous initation process because only ten initiates can become members. The rest will die or live on the streets as “Factionless.”

Here are my thoughts on Divergent:

  • I thought the writing was decent for a young adult novel. That is, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. That’s typical of many of the books in this genre. In a way, that’s okay because when I read a book like Divergent, I’m looking for entertainment, not great literature.
  • The plotline was gripping enough where I was able to finish the novel in a couple of days, but it also didn’t compel me to stay up all night reading, like many books do. That said, the point of book one in a series is not only to draw the reader in, but also to set up the rest of the series. I’m mildly curious to the extent that I’ll probably read Insurgent at some point, but I don’t feel like I need to read it right away.
  • Where this story falls short, in my opinion, is character building. When something happened to the major characters, I didn’t particularly care. This is not the case in most novels I read. In fact, I’ll be upset if a minor character I like dies (Cinna anyone? Or Finnick? Or Cedric Diggory?). Tris is an okay character. I like that she’s a strong female character, but I can’t relate to her desire to be Dauntless. Probably because I’m more of an Erudite.

I’d give this book a B- overall.

Have you read Divergent? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

15 Grammar Mistakes That Make You Look Silly (Infographic)

I just came across this infographic on one of my favorite sites, Copyblogger, and I thought it was too good not to share!

Some of these grammar mistakes are pet peeves of mine, while others are just common sense.

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more copywriting tips from Copyblogger.

What are your grammar pet peeves?

Check out the Copyblogger website. It’s one of my favorite places for writing and blogging tips!

Quick Grammar Tip: Irregardless

Here is one of my (many) grammar pet peeves: Irregardless.

Why is irregardless a pet peeve of mine? Not only is irregardless a non-standard word, but it makes no sense!

Let’s break it down:

Prefix: IR
Base word: REGARD
Suffix: LESS

Both the prefix “ir” and the suffix “less” translate to without. So saying “irregardless” equates to saying “without without regard.” Not only is that redundant, but it sounds silly!

Bottom line: Don’t say “irregardless.” Use “regardless” instead.

Do you have any other grammar questions? Send them my way!

Stop Censorship: Protest SOPA/ PIPA

Many websites are blacked out today to protest the proposed U.S. legislation that threatens internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

While I do not support piracy, SOPA, as it is written, won’t shut down pirate sites. Instead, these sites will simply change their IP address and continue their criminal activities, while law-abiding companies will suffer penalties for breaches they were unaware of.

If these bills are passed, the U.S. government could order websites to be blocked using similar methods to those employed in China. Entire websites would be deleted from search results. This is not just inconvenient, it’s censorship. As an avid reader, writer, a journalist, a blogger, and a social media user, I do not support censorship in any way, shape, or form.

Please do your part to stop censorship by writing to your congressperson and tell him/her to oppose SOPA and PIPA. Not only am I against this act, but Facebook, Wikipedia, WordPress, Google, Twitpic, Mozilla, Zynga, LinkedIn, and other internet “giants” oppose this act. Hell, even the White House/Obama administration is against it as it is currently written.

Amy’s Bookshelf will be blacked out on January 18, 2012 from 8:00 AM- 8:00 PM EST (or 5:00 AM- 5:00 PM for all of my fellow West Coasters).

Please write to your congressperson and ask him/her to oppose these acts.