Best Books of 2021!

I did this on my personal Facebook page, and… well, I thought it would be fun here, too! But there will be one change: When I did this at the end of last year (you know, two weeks ago), I just listed the books, no order. This time, I’m totally going to rank them!

I love lists, and I love books, and if you’re on my blog, I’m guessing you do, too!

These are my top 20 books of last year. Did you read any of these? If so, what did you think? What were your favorite books of last year! I’d love to hear!


20. 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

19. The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink

18. Green Arrow (Rebirth) graphic novel series by Percy Benjamin, Julie Benson

17. The Flash by Mark Waid: Book Six

16. Green Lantern Corps (New 52) graphic novel series by Peter J. Tomasi

15. Library Wars: Love & War manga series by Kiiro Yumi

14. Blue Beetle (New 52) graphic novel series by Tony Bedard

13. Green Arrow/Black Canary: ‘Til Death Do They Part by Judd Winick

12. Fantastic Four graphic novel series by Dan Slott

11. Green Arrow: Archer’s Quest by Brad Meltzer

10. The Flash: United They Fall by Gail Simone

9. Spy Family manga series by Tatsuya Endo

8. Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park by Andy Mulvihill, Jake Rossen

7.  Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Vol. 1: Hero of Metropolis by Robert Venditti

6. Resident Alien graphic novel series by Peter Hogan

5. Batman: The Dark Prince Charming by Enrico Marini

4. Lore Olympus, Vol. 1 by Rachel Smythe

3. Common Grounds by Troy Hickman

2. The Woods graphic novel series by James Tynion IV

1. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Loooooong Time, No See

Happy 2022, everyone! Like the title says… looong time, no see. It’s been… about a month? Give or take?

I’ve missed connecting with everyone here on the blog, but I needed to take some time for myself and my family around the holidays. (And then some time after the holidays to put myself back on a regular schedule.)

The beginning of the year has meant re-instating my exercise and healthy eating routine. (Which is surprisingly difficult after a month of Christmas goodies. No matter how hard I try, broccoli just doesn’t taste as delicious as fudge….) Any fellow librarians out there also know that January is a busy time. We need to wrap up all the boring, statistical stuff from last year, and start planning ahead for this year’s programming.

Basically, the past couple of weeks have involved a lot of to-do lists and not a lot of creativity.

But life is starting to stabilizing. My to-do’s are starting to be manageable at work, and my exercise routine is… well, a routine again. (And yes… I’ve even replaced the fudge with broccoli.)

I should be able to focus more on writing from now on, but I do also want to be 100-percent honest: I may not have as much time to blog. Before my hiatus, I wrote about how there is only so much time (and also only a certain amount of creative juice) in me each day. So, going forward, I probably won’t post as many stories or poems. (Unless I have a burst of inspiration that just MUST GET OUT.)

I have a wide variety of poems, observations, stories, etc., posted here that, hopefully, prospective agents could peruse after I send off queries. (I don’t even know if that’s something they would do, but I’d like to think of this blog as an extended resume/portfolio.)

In the meantime, I really think the point of this blog is more about my publishing journey. I’ve shared my writings, and if you’ve been with me for a while (THANK YOU!!!), you’ve gotten an idea of my writing style and my publishing goals.

So now, let’s get down to business. (I dare you not to sing that a’la-Mulan.)

Each Sunday, I will post an update on my publishing journey. In between, I may post some reviews (because, as focused as I am on writing, I’m definitely not going to stop reading.) (It’s almost like I’m a librarian or something…..) I may also post some fun lists, because… yeah, I just really enjoy making lists.

But if I’m going to get serious, I need to streamline my focus. I need it to be laser-accurate. As much as I’ve loved sharing my stories, poems, photos, and thoughts on this blog… I need to take a hard look at myself, my schedule, and my priorities.

In my personal life, my priorities can’t change: I want to be healthy and keep aiming for the weight that will help me be that. I want to be there, in the moment, with friends and family. I want to read the books that I love.

In my professional life: I want to keep being the best librarian possible. I want to do everything I can to make my library a community center for all ages.

So in my writing life? What is it I really want to do? I want to be published. What does that mean? (1) Finish the book I started with NaNoWriMo. (2) Edit the YA book I’ve been working on for several years. (3) As much as I hate it, I think I need to rewrite another manuscript I finished ages ago. I think it’ll be “punchier” if I have a different starting point and if I switch perspectives between the male lead (who is the only narrator currently) and the female lead. (4) The most difficult goal… query letters.

And I need to actually do this. How? Cut away what doesn’t need to happen. I’ve shared many finished works. Now it’s time focus on finishing more. And I need to keep myself motivated. Weekly updates on this blog will certainly help with that.

Wow… this was a very long, and also very late, beginning-of-the-year post. Thank you, everyone, who has stayed with my since I started in 2020. It’s been two years, and I really hope that 2022 will be when I write an update that says: “I’ve gotten a reply to a query! And they want more! So excited for this next step in my journey!”

I hope I can share that with all of you. Wish me luck. Happy new year–and lots of love!

NaNoWriMo, Day 1

My family and I have a tradition of wishing each other a happy first of the month. I’m not entirely sure when or why it started, but I’ve always liked the sentiment of it: Happy First. We made it through one month. We have a brand new start ahead of us.

So, in that spirit: Happy Nov. 1, everyone!

What that also means for writers: Day one of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

If you’re not familiar with it, NaNo is when writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in one month (about the length of a short novel).

It’s definitely quite a feat, and not something I’ve ever technically accomplished. (Several years ago, I did manage to finish a novel, but it was short the 50k mark. What can I say…. The story was just finished.)

This year, though, I’m doing something a little bit different. The novel I started for NaNo last year is still unfinished. I’ve worked on it throughout the year, made some decent headway, hit a roadblock—lather, rinse, repeat.

So my goal for NaNo is not to hit that 50k. It’s just to finish this particular manuscript.

I’m hoping NaNo will give me a kick-in-the-pants and that blogging about my progress each day will keep me motivated and honest.

Because lately, I haven’t had much time to write. I’ve been focusing on other goals…. Namely, losing weight.

I feel like I kind of need to explain why this blog about writing has had fewer updates about me… you know… writing. All year, I’ve been exercising and adjusting my eating habits. And for the most part, I could still squeeze in time to write. But I kind of hit a point where I needed to kick my routine into high gear if I still wanted to see the scale decreasing.

So that has been priority one. I’m hoping with NaNo, though, I’ll be able to re-find that balance and make progress with both of my main goals: Writing and being healthy.

And, in case anyone is curious, I started the year at 162 pounds. (Not great for someone who isn’t even 5-foot.) My most recent lowest weight was 136.6. (Though trick-or-treat kinda got in the way…. Darn you, delicious Halloween candy!!!)

To sum up: NaNo = Finish last year’s project. Blog = Hold me accountable. Weight = Keep going down!

Wish me luck. With all those goals and only so many hours in a day (and a full-time job), I kind of feel like I’m going to need it.

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 6: Review

From Goodreads.com

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 6 by Kiiro Yumi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sweet and fun with lots of moments that make you smile. Plus, it’s a manga about why books shouldn’t be censored–which was particularly interesting in this installment since the story’s library actually decided to not include a magazine in their collection (one that specifically broke the law by printing the name of a minor serial killer). Yeah… talk about shades of gray and some interesting fodder for a debate/discussion. In short, this is a book that makes you think while also being a nice, sweet little rom-com. Not an easy balance to achieve, but it somehow manages it perfectly–which is saying something coming from someone who does not typically enjoy rom-coms.



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The Fade Out, Act Three: Review

From Goodreads.com

The Fade Out, Act Three by Ed Brubaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*This is the final book in a three-part graphic novel series.*

A pretty solid read. If I’m being honest, it was more “mature” than I usually prefer, but the story was still engaging. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and how the mystery would be solved–and if justice would be served. I won’t answer that question because… spoilers… but I will say if you want a gritty tale of ’40s Hollywood that deals with everything from murder and conspiracy to PTSD and alcoholism… well, then this is a book that will give you that in a well-written–albeit at times uncomfortable–way.



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Ms. Marvel: Review

I’m planning on adding reviews to Word-Maleerie! I write them anyways–because when you read over 200 books a year (not as impressive as it sounds; a lot of them are graphic novels), you need SOMETHING to help keep the stories straight. And I figured… what better one to start with than my library’s most recent Comic Book Club read!

From Goodreads.com

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was a re-read for my library’s Comic Book Club. And… yeah, I loved it just as much as I did the first time. Maybe even more, since it was really fun to go back to where these characters first began and compare them to who they are now. I love a good character evolution, and Ms. Marvel is full of that! Plus, lots of emphasis on family and community, while still being a story about finding your own identity and…. well, just a darn good superhero origin. Seriously, if you haven’t read Ms. Marvel, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
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I’ve been wanting to read Ms. Marvel for ages, and now I finally have. In short, I found the entire graphic novel… delightful. I LOVE KAMALA. She is nerdy and fun! I feel like she would be most readers if we lived in the Marvel Universe and got superpowers. (But not in a Mary Sue way. She is totally her own person and unique–which was kind of the whole theme of this particular volume–but just also very relatable.) I can’t wait to see what other adventures are waiting for Ms. Marvel!



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A bit of escapism, a bit of comradery… and a whole lot of fun!

I promise I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. (Yet, at least… with how crazy the world has been the past couple of years, I wouldn’t be surprised if gravity spontaneously stopped.)

So why haven’t I been writing? Well, like I said previously, I’ve been working on some new ideas for how the blog will be organized. But mostly… the past few weeks were spent enjoying a little bit of escapism. (Because we all need some of that these days, right?)

Recently, I attended the Cincinnati Comic Expo. My husband and I have a tradition of going every year, and after having to skip 2020 (for obvious reasons)… boy, were we excited to go back!

But attending a comic convention isn’t as simple as just… you know, going to to the convention. Oh no. If you’re a comic collector, like me, and if you have a nice little room that you’ve dubbed “nerdvana” specifically for nerdy memorabilia… well, you have to plan.

So the week prior was spent analyzing my collection and pinpointing which classic comics would be a part of my search. (Which also involves checking various prices, because a FAIR comic and a FINE comic have very different values… and if you don’t want to overpay–because who does?–then you need to really know the cost spectrum.) Then there was figuring out which Funko Pops I would search for, if I wanted to look for any action figures… etc., etc.

If you didn’t believe I was a nerd before… well, there’s no going back now, is there?

After the con, there’s time spent re-organizing collections (and wishing you had more shelf space) and updating Excel spreadsheets (because I’m not just a nerd… I’m also a dork… AND PROUD!)

So, yes, while I’ve been working on my plan for Word-Maleerie, Phase 2… I’ve also just been… well, being wholly and unabashedly nerdy.

Which I would recommend. 5/5 stars.

If you’ve never wandered through a convention hall filled to bursting with all things comic, fantasy, sci-fi, and anime; if you’ve never wandered through crowds, elbow to elbow with fellow nerds dressed in quippy t-shirts or decked out as their favorite characters; if you’ve never sat in a hall as costumed fan after costumed fan strode onto the stage, with the audience cheering and applauding their skills; if you’ve never haggled over a comic right after a long conversation over DC and Marvel’s movies….

In short… if you’ve never let yourself just totally be among other people who are also just letting themselves be themselves… then please do. The first chance you get.

And it doesn’t have to be at a comic convention. It can be at a sporting event. Or in a gym. Or at a restaurant. Or in a theme park. People tend to think that nerds only exist “in a galaxy far, far away” or in Gotham City.

But we don’t. “Nerd” is really just a word that means passionate. I’ve met my fair share of sports nerds. Or roller coaster nerds. Or food nerds. They just tend to go by different titles: Jocks, or adrenaline junkies, or foodies.

But it all means the same thing: Loving what you love. Being who you are. And loving other people who are also just being who they are.

We need more of that. I’d say “especially these days,” but let’s be real: Humans have always had a tendency toward selfishness, or arrogance, or violence–or a million other pitfalls.

The good news is, we also have a tendency toward comradery and kindness.

And believe me: When you’re watching a costume contest, and every single person in the audience is showering the person on stage with love and with applause that says: “Wow, you made that yourself? You look incredible!”

That moment there is when a little bit of faith in humanity comes back.

So, yes, these past few weeks have been a time of escapism. But they’ve also been a time of so much more.

I’ll be writing more soon. I haven’t forgotten this blog or all of the wonderful people who read it. Truly from the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

But in the mean time… here are some Comic Expo pictures! (Specifically the costume contest because… yeah, that’s the most fun part. Also, please forgive if the photos are blurry…. You’d be surprised how fast people move on a stage!)

Looking Back on Series that Shaped Me

I’ve had another week where there wasn’t much time for any sort of writing–even very short stories. So I thought I’d take another moment to write about some of stories that have most inspired me. This time: Favorite series. I’m only going to include series I’ve actually finished, so the list is pretty short.

My Favorite Book Series

(4) Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

(3) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett

(2) Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch

(1) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

(Wow… only four. I think I need to actually finish some of the series I’ve started. Other great ones that are still “in progress:” Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Discworld by Terry Pratchett, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.)

What are your favorite series? I’d love to hear them!

Words of Advice

I’ve not had much time this week for writing, so instead of a story (even a short one), I thought I’d share some quotes on writing that either: (A) Inspired me to be a writer myself, or (B) Have helped me figure out what kind of writer I want to be.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” — Stephen King


“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” — Neil Gaiman


“Wasn’t writing a kind of soaring, an achievable form of flight, of fancy, of the imagination?” — Ian McEwan


“To hell with facts! We need stories!” — Ken Kesey


“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.” — Mark Twain


“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” — Robert Frost


“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” — Ray Bradbury


“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” — Dr. Seuss


“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London


“Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

What quotes inspire you? I’d love to hear them!

Giving Some Credit to Inspiration

I’ve been a little bit busy here lately (the aforementioned, you’re-probably-tired-of-hearing-it Summer Reading), so I don’t have a poem quite ready for this week. But I thought I’d try something a little different: Today, I’m going to share some of the words that have inspired me. For me, music plays a huge role, especially when it comes to poetry. Here are just a few lyrics from songs that helped me find the poet in me. In short: These are all moments in songs that made me go: “Whoa… words can do that.”

“You can go through motions with your magic spells/ Buy all the potions that Fifth Avenue sells/You can try to call down all the stars above/But you can’t make love.” — Don Henley, “You Can’t Make Love”


“People speak of love, don’t know what they’re thinking of/Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove/Speak in terms of a life and a living/Try to find the word for forgiving.”–Jackson Brown, “The Shape of a Heart”


“Oh, life’s a maze of doors and they all open from the side you’re on/ Just keep on pushing hard, boy, try as you may, you’re gonna wind up where you started from.”–Cat Stevens, “Sitting”


“And it comes to you how it all slips away/Youth and beauty are gone one day/No matter what you dream, or feel, or say/It ends in dust and disarray/Like wind on the plains, sand through the glass/Waves rolling in with the tide/Dreams die hard and we watch them erode/But we cannot be denied/The fire inside.”–Bob Seger, “The Fire Inside”


“Don’t you hear my call though you’re many years away?/Don’t you hear me calling you?/Write your letters in the sand for the day I take your hand in the land that our grandchildren knew.”–Queen, “’39”


“I’ve really learned a lot, I’ve really learned a lot/Love is like a flame/It burns you when it’s hot/Love hurts.”–Nazareth, “Love Hurts”


“Walked out this morning/Don’t believe what I saw/A hundred million bottles/Washed up on the shore/Seems I’m not alone in being alone/A hundred million castaways looking for a home.”–The Police, “Message in a Bottle”


“If everything is nothing, then are we anything?/Is it better to be better than to be anything?”–Counting Crows, “Einstein on a Beach”


“I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good.”–Pearl Jam, “Wish List”


“Now I think I know/What you tried to say to me/And how you suffered for your sanity/How you tried to set them free/They would not listen, they’re not listening still/Perhaps they never will.”–Don McLean, “Vincent”

Do you have any lyrics that really connect with you? I’d love to hear them!