Books to Read When Your SO is Deployed

…or at bootcamp, or living in another place, or super busy with military life.

These are the books that I read during long stretches of absence, when I need to find comfort in something small. Some of them are fiction, some are not. Some are self help, some are not. I figure it’s good to read a little bit of everything. Because military SO’s need all the help we can get.

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1. How to be Married by Jo Piazza
You don’t have to be married to get the fruits of Piazza’s bare-it-all narrative, but it doesn’t hurt. She goes into the nitty gritty of what it means to choose one person, and then she explores what that means to different cultures. Ultimately, How to be Married shows that there’s no One Way to be together, just do do your best. I’m currently reading this one.

2. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
Communication is Hard when your SO isn’t there to talk to face to face. Palmer is an expert at asking for what she wants, and she’s very keen to teach you how in this touching memoir about the music business and art for arts sake. “I trust you this much. Should I? Show me.”

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3. Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Brene Brown has her PhD in vulnerability. Okay, not literally. But she should. This book is super important because it shows us how to rumble with the stories we make up for ourselves, especially the ones based on fear and distance. It’ll teach you how to communicate the stories to your significant other.

4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Historical, unbelievable, and a true hero’s journey. Sometimes, it’s nice to read about those who came before our SO’s and survived. Admittedly, this one is a bit harrowing, so maybe try it when you know your SO is home and safe if you’re concerned for their safety.

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5. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
This one I think is particularly great for Navy SO’s. It’s got time travel, sailing, action, romance. Mostly, it’s a great escape from missing someone. But as someone who loves a sailor, that aspect was really fun for me.

6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Do you remember how you fell in love with your SO? All the butterflies in your stomach, the wondering if they felt the same. Those first kisses… This book is sure to remind you of that. Rainbow Rowell is queen of romance in my eyes, and she’s really great at conjuring that “falling in love” feeling.

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MFA Reading List

reading list

One amazing thing about being part of a masters program for writing? My reading list is miles long. Luckily, part of my curriculum for this course is to read. A lot.

I’m starting with 12 and I’ll keep adding more, but I think I can get most, if not all, of these read by the end of the semester in May. Take a look at the Goodreads synopsis’s and maybe read some with me?

You can track this list from my account as well. I’ve created a shelf called MFA-Reading-List.

  1. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  2. Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman**
  3. The New and Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott*
  4. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken**
  5. Untwine by Edwidge Danticat*
  6. It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris by Patricia Engel*
  7. Vida by Patricia Engel*
  8. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
  9. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken**
  10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky**
  11. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte**

*authors I’ve met in the program
**books used as “novel research”

The Darkest Minds Series

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Title: The Darkest Minds, Never Fade, In The Afterlight
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader.

But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Continue reading “The Darkest Minds Series”

On Writing, Reading, and Life

Death_to_stock_communicate_hands_9Did you see the Oxford Comma in my title?

That really has nothing to do with this post, but I thought I’d point it out because everyone should love the Oxford Comma.

Anyway. If you haven’t figured out a writer by now, this is probably your first look at my blog. I know I talk about it a lot. What I don’t talk about, and probably should more often, is how much I struggle with it.

I will be the first person to tell you I’ve found I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to write books. Simple, right? Not so much. I can barely make myself sit down once a week to make a blog post. And this blog is left wanting because of it.

Then I have days like today. Days were my anxiety is overbearing and work is long and hard and my brain is all but screaming for an outlet. So I get in the car to go home from work and put on my novel’s playlist.

Lo and behold, inspiration strikes. Even better, I get home and I proceed to write 600+ words of a flashback scene that helps me with character development. It feels really, really good to know that I did something today that moved me creatively.

Speaking of novels, I’m reading some really good ones right now that definitely hold some credit for my creative spike.

The Darkest Minds, Never Fade, and In The Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken. I’m currently finishing In the Afterlight, so this isn’t a definitive review, but I’ve fallen headfirst into the world her words have given me. These are very large books that are potent with imagery, emotion, and complex scenes. I have a hard time stopping myself from reading all night.

It is so important for writers to have books to aspire to. I find that the more that I read, the more books I hold at that standard. It’s harder to be this creative – to write, to post on a blog – when I’m not also diving into a book.

A really good friend of mine sent me a link to one of her favorite author’s newest blog post about writing. There’s a quote I’d like to share that really struck me.

I am a storyteller. It is an ancient art. We used to sit in caves, huddled around the fire, listening to noises in the dark, afraid of what they might be, and someone would say, “Let me tell you a story,” and everyone would gather closer to the fire where they felt warm and safe, and they would forget the noises in the dark, listening to adventures. Now, I sit in my office and write words on a screen, that I’ll share with you soon. I’ll finish writing the blog, and continue to work on the latest novel, because you need a good story, and I need to be able to say, “Come, sit by the fire where you’ll be safe and warm, and let me share an adventure with you.”

That’s it! She hit the nail on the head of what it means to be a writer. A storyteller. I think I’m going to use the latter more often when describing myself. I like the magic of it. My stories may be words on a page but they came from my heart first. Maybe someday they’ll pass through my lips.

With days like today, that might just become an inevitability.