November 2014: Month in Review

670x400-8744861824_3e7cb902d6_cHappy December, Readers!

So, here in the United States, we’re winding down from our Thanksgiving holiday. I’ve had a busy few weeks–but that’s nothing new. This time of year, especially, brings all sorts of extra responsibilities and commitments, but I’m determined to keep up with obligations as best as possible, to say “Nope!” when I need to, and to still have a little bit of fun and family/friends time, when and where I can.

During this past month, I’ve posted some interesting articles over at, which have generated a lot of traffic! Here are the links to those who might be interested:





Roof Beam Reader Updates:

Ten Books “On Tap” for This Winter

857226Aloha, Readers!

I very rarely participate in blog memes (or, let’s be honest, in blogging at all, lately!), but this one caught my eye when I saw it posted over on O’s blog, Behold the Stars. The winters here in the Midwestern United States are cold, long, and brutal. We tend to get buried in snow and bitter sub-zero temperatures for days on end.

So, what better way to prepare, to spark a little internal flame, than to think about the books I’m looking forward to cozying up with in the coming months?

This week’s topic, from The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top 10 Books on My Winter TBR.

  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • Trifles by Susan Glaspell
  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  • Studies in Classic American Literature by D.H. Lawrence
  • I Could Tell You Stories by Patricia Hampl
  • Like People in History by Felice Picano
  • Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran
  • The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer
  • Playing the Game: The Homosexual Novel in America by Roger Austen
  • The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault

Announcing The Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge!


I am pleased to announce that Roof Beam Reader’s official TBR Pile Challenge is back for the SIXTH YEAR

This challenge started after I realized I had some MAJOR issues with buying books but never reading them (not because I don’t read – but because I have such a book buying problem!).  Year after year, books would sit on my shelf, untouched, and I would end up reading newer ones first. I realized I was missing out on a lot of great books because I let them sit there gathering dust instead of reading them as I bought them.

The Goal: To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile (within 12 months).


1. Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list for AT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2014 or later (any book published in the year 2013 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile – I WILL be checking publication dates). Caveat: Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile.

2. To be eligible, you must sign-up with Mr. Linky below – link to your list (so create it ahead of time!) and add updated links to each book’s review. Books must be read and must be reviewed (doesn’t have to be too fancy) in order to count as completed.

3. The link you post in the Mr. Linky below must be to your “master list” (see mine below). This is where you will keep track of your books completed, crossing them out and/or dating them as you go along, and updating the list with the links to each review (so there’s one easy, convenient way to find your list and all your reviews for the challenge). See THIS LINK for an idea of what I mean. Your complete and final list must be posted by January 15th, 2015.

4. Leave comments on this post as you go along, to update us on your status. Come back here if/when you complete this challenge and leave a comment indicating that you CONQUERED YOUR 2015 TBR LIST! Every person who successfully reads his/her 12 books and/or alternates (and who provides a working link to their list, which has links to the review locations) will be entered to win a $50 gift card from or The Book Depository!

5. Crossovers from other challenges are totally acceptable, as long as you have never read the book before and it was published before 2014!

*Note – You can read the books on your list in any order; they do not need to be read in the order you have them listed. As you complete a book – review it, and go back to your original list and turn that title into a link to the review - that will keep the comments section here from getting ridiculously cluttered. For an example of what I mean, Click Here.

Monthly Check-Ins: On the 15th of each month, I’m going to post a “TBR Pile Check-In.” This will allow participants to link-up their reviews from the past month and get some recognition for their progress. There will also be small mini-challenges and giveaways to go along with these posts (Such As: Read 6 books by the June Check-in and be entered to win a book of your choice!). I’m hoping this will help to keep us all on track and make the challenge a bit more engaging/interactive. I started these mini-challenges last year, and I think they were a great success, so I am continuing them this year!

Chat: On Twitter, Instagram & Facebook, use #TBR2015RBR

My 2015 TBR Pile Challenge List:

  • 1. Like People in History by Felice Picano (1995)
  • 2. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905)
  • 3. Studies in Classic American Literature by D.H. Lawrence (1923)
  • 4. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (1961)
  • 5. Pages Passed from Hand to Hand edited by David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell (1998)
  • 6. Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill (1956)
  • 7. City of Night by John Rechy (1963)
  • 8. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
  • 9. Poetics by Aristotle (335 BCE)
  • 10. The Story of Avis by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1877)
  • 11. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)
  • 12. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (1853)


  • 1. My Antonia by Willa Cather (1919)
  • 2. Trifles by Susan Glaspell (1916)

Sign-Up to take the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge:

2014 #TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 11!

2014tbrbuttonHello, TBR Pile Challengers!

Wow! Where has the time gone?! Here we are, in Month 11 of the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge – there’s just one more checkpoint to go!

Question of the Month: Have you started to think about the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge?  Which books do you think might make next year’s cut? (Sign-ups will be opening soon!)

Below, you’re going to find the infamous Mr. Linky widget. If you read and review any challenge books this month, please link-up on the widget below. This Mr. Linky will be open until November 30, so any books that you complete this month (and post thoughts for), can be linked-up in this first checkpoint. Any that you read/write about in November can be linked-up on December 15th, when the new widget opens.

indexGiveaway: This month’s check-in does not come with a giveaway, since the big prize ($50 of books!) is coming soon… but congratulations to last month’s winner, Fanda from Fanda’s Classic Lit, for her entry on Greyfriars Bobby!

Keep up the great work and best of luck to you as we head into the final stretch!


Review: 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

20493997Andrew Smith is a mad scientist. I imagine him, even now, sitting in his writing laboratory playing with every imaginable ingredient and coming up with another brilliant concoction of literary gold. This might sound like the delusions of a raving fanatic or a particularly creative reviewing mind, but considering Smith’s books continue to win universal praise and, more recently, critical notice and awards, perhaps it’s not so far from the truth after all.

100 Sideways Miles is another example of how brilliantly Andrew Smith can craft a totally readable, totally relatable, completely unique story. The main character, Finn, has been immortalized by his own father, a writer who has created a duplicate “Finn” in his fiction. The science-fictional Finn created by his father, and our fictional Finn (how meta!) are more than a little bit similar. They even share the same scars, the “real” Finn having earned his in a twist-of-fate accident involving a horse that falls from the sky onto Finn and his mother. The accident has lasting impact on Finn’s family, and in the way Finn sees the world (he begins to measure time in distance, for example).

In addition to Finn, who’s still a virgin in his late teens (the horror!), we meet Cade, the ridiculously-obnoxious-but-in-a-totally-loveable-way, Cade. He’s a bit of a big brother to Finn. Every day, he comes up with a new sexually-charged descriptor to attach to the shape of Finn’s scars, which might seem insensitive but is actually his way of helping Finn relax and feel less self-conscious about his body.

Aside from the two high school boys, there is, of course, a girl or two. Including “the girl,” Julia. Finn and Julia become star-crossed lovers; Finn, the epileptic local boy and Julia, the mysterious bombshell from 2,000 miles away (Chicago) who shows up in their small California town, without warning or explanation. The two quickly, and awkwardly, form an intense bond, one which will be tested when Julia returns to Chicago. Fortunately, Finn, Cade, and a road trip to end all road trips will return balance to the universe.

100 Sideways Miles is filled with humor, angst, confusion, sarcasm, and the typical teenagers’ point of view. This means the guys encounter situations involving drugs, alcohol, sex, and “foul” language. There’s also a “damn the man” attitude expected in any coming-of-age story (what are we if we don’t rebel against the last generation, at least a little?). All of this is treated realistically, though, without being gratuitous – it makes sense to the story being told and the lives these boys are living. And when you meet Finn, you’ll understand if he needs to curse once in a while.

Smith without a doubt knows how to spin a yarn. He gets into the minds of young people and shares their experiences, in their vernacular and on their own terms. He’s done this with Stick and Grasshopper Jungle. He’s done this in Winger and with In the Path of Falling Objects. He does it in Ghost Medicine and The Marbury Lens. And yet, he does it, somehow, in a completely innovative way, every time.

So, yes, Smith is a mad scientist. He is the Victor Frankenstein of contemporary young adult fiction, and we readers have become his insatiable monsters. Is the world finally ready for Andrew Smith? No matter. He hasn’t just arrived, he’s become ubiquitous. Ready or not.

If you’re interested in hearing more about 100 Sideways Miles and/or Andrew Smith, check out the book tour hosted by Amy of Lady Reader’s Stuff!