Friday, December 01, 2023

December 2023 Reading Challenge: Christmas Book Binge Reading

Every December I immerse myself in holiday and winter themed literature, looking for those stories with Christmas spirit to warm my heart. Alas, this season is no different. If I recommend a book, I'll tag the title with a big, bold link. Let's get to it...

A Holly and Jolly Reading Pile


1.) The Christmas Pine by Julia Donaldson
2.) Last Stop on the Reindeer Express by Maudie Powell-Tuck
3.) The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Feather Flores
4.) The Best Christmas Ever by Chih-Yuan Chen
5.) Robin Robin by Don Ojari and Mikey Please
6.) It's Christmas, David! by David Shannon
7.) This is Christmas by Tom Booth
8.) Deck the Walls! A Wacky Christmas Carol by Erin Dealey
9.) Fly Guy's Ninja Christmas by Tedd Arnold
10.) The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
11.) Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve by Janet Morgan Stoeke
12.) Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas by Rubin Pingk
13.) How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen
14.) Maple & Willow's Christmas Tree by Lori Nichols
15.) Peppermint Post by Bruce Hale
16.) Bear Noel by Oliver Dunrea
17.) The Christmas Boot by Lisa Wheeler
18.) A Whisper in the Snow by Kate Westerlund
19.) The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Britta Teckentrup
20.) The Little Match Girl by David Warner
21.) Seek & Find Classics: A Christmas Carol by Sarah Powell
22.) Christmas is... by Gail Gibbons
23.) Luke and Lottie: It's Christmas! by Ruth Wielockx
24.) The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas by Laura Murray
25.) The Christmas Owl by Ellen Kalish & Gideon Sterer
26.) Dasher Can't Wait for Christmas by Matt Tavares
27.) Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant
28.) The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
29.) Repair Shop Stories: The Christmas Doll by Katie Hickey
30.) The Christmas Book Flood by Emily Kilgore
31.) Yetis Are the Worst! by Alex Willan
32.) Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson


33.) Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas by Melanie Watt


34.) The Jolliest Bunch: Unhinged Holiday Stories by Danny Pellegrino
35.) Faking Christmas by Cindy Steel


36.) Lily Sees Dead People by JD Douwes


37.) Frosty Exchanges by Raine Winters
38.) Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews
39.) Chasing Noelle by Sonja N. Griffing


40.) Thin Ice by Paige Shelton


Check out the 3 recommended Christmas/winter reads for 2022 here!
Check out the 8 recommended Christmas/winter reads for 2020 here!
Check out the 3 recommended Christmas/winter reads for 2019 here!
Check out the 3 recommended Christmas/winter reads for 2018 here!
Check out the 8 recommended Christmas/winter reads for 2017 here!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Trope-licious! A Mega List of Romance Tropes

Time for list-making again...and it's trope-licious!

Love 'em or hate 'em, tropes are those common, overused themes you find in stories and are well-known in the romance genre circles. I'll seek out or avoid books based on tropes, as I'm sure others do, too. Sign me up for road trips, fake relationships, enemies to lovers, and going undercover. So fun! But please don't put books in my Christmas stocking with wedding, age-gap, or fairy-tale retelling themes, or anything set in Nantucket. Lol. Weird, I know! But I'm pretty sure I already know the tone. Of course if I visited there, my mind could be changed. Until that day, I'll stick with my tried and true.

Now you, go forth and enjoy your tropes!

Tropes for Hanging Around for You by Stacia Leigh
Young Adult Romance

A newly abandoned girl hides the truth about a fatal accident, a grizzled biker she calls step-dad, and how she really feels about the new boy at school, a low-life spy! But really, who's spying on whom? 



Friends to Lovers
You've Changed / Love on the Rocks
Belated Love Epiphany
Brother's Best Friend
Best Friend's Sibling
Marriage of Convenience / Marriage Pact
Pretend Relationships
Best Friend's Ex
Roommate Romance / Innocent Cohabitation
Secret Admirer


Enemies to Lovers
Pen Pals
Love / Hate
Not Good Enough
Forced Proximity / Stranded


Suddenly a Parent
Single Parent
Widow / Widower
Forbidden Love

Tropes for Burnout by Stacia Leigh
Young Adult Romance

"Suspended in grief, a down-and-out teen is forced on a therapeutic road trip. How can he hold onto the past when a feisty biker girl has him hanging on for dear life?"



Opposites Attract
Age-Gap/May to December
Bad Boy
Celebrity/Actor/Actress/Rock Star
Rich vs Poor / Unequal Social Status
Different Worlds
Want Different Things


Lovers in Denial
Sworn Off Relationships
Lost Memories / Amnesia


Secretly Rich
Secret Identity
Unrequited Love
Dark Secret
Mistaken Identity
Secret Baby
Is All as It Seems?
Love Triangle
Workplace Romance


Wedding Planner
Jilted Groom/Runaway Bride
Arranged Marriage
Soul Mates
Destined to Be Together

Tropes for Dealing with Blue by Stacia Leigh
Young Adult Romance

When quiet good-girl Suzy Blue plays "pretend" with the charmer next-door, she risks exposing a mortifying family secret.


Love Potion
Second Chances
Love at First Sight / Insta-Love
Holiday Flings


Wounded Hero/Heroine (Emotional or Physical)
Sleeps with Everyone but You
Playboy/Rake in Love
Back with the Ex
What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas
One Sided Romance
Afraid to Commit
Can't Say "I Love You"
All Grown Up
Long Distance Love


Plus Size
Alpha Hero
The One That Got Away
Loveable Rogue
Ugly Duckling
Men in Uniform
Broken in Some Way
Blind Date
Fish Out of Water


Fairy Tale Retelling
Road Trip
Time Travel
Small Town


Slow Burn
Matchmaker Gone Right or Gone Wrong
Against All Odds


Historical / Regency
Comedy / Drama
Spiritual / Inspirational
New Adult / College
Young Adult (Ages 14+)


Evie Alexander: 150 romance Novel Tropes
TCK Publishing: 14 Popular Romance Tropes
Brewing Writer: Ultimate Romance Tropes List: 28 Tropes + Book Recs!


“The reason that clichés become clichés is that they are the hammers and screwdrivers in the toolbox of communication.”
― Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

Sunday, October 01, 2023

October 2023 Reading Challenge: Picture Book BINGO

Since my picture book entry was a finalist for the PNWA conference this year, I decided to immerse myself into picture-book reading with a hefty stack checked out from the library.

A Hefty Stack of Picture Books

What's a better way to deep dive the genre than to play a game of reading BINGO? A quick win is reading five-in-a-row, but why not go for the gold? Read all twenty-five for a solid blackout win and find your next favorite book, author, illustrator...or maybe even a new series!

Stacia Leigh's October 2023 Reading Challenge
Picture Book BINGO!

Ready to read along? Print the BINGO card if you're able, otherwise the list below sums it up nicely. I will post Amazon or Powell's Book Store links for the recommended reads I want to share (regular links are a 4/5 star read, bold links are 5 stars). From left to right, here's the breakdown: 

1.) Collage Pictures: Wonder Walkers by Micha Archer

2.) Award Winner: Watercress by Andrea Wang

3.) Retelling: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

4.) Two-Word Title: Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor

5.) Set in the Forest: Little Witch Hazel a Year in the Forest by Phoebe Wahl

6.) A classic: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

7.) Non-Fiction: I Was Born a Baby by Meg Fleming

8.) Reptile on the Cover:

9.) Blackout Poetry by Stacia Leigh: Sounds Complicated by Stacia Leigh

10.) Hide & Seek: Where's the BaBOOn? by Michael Escoffier

11.) A Number in the Title: The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz

12.) Title Starts with Letter "F": Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel

13.) Free Space: Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson

14.) Green Cover: Evergreen by Matthew Cordell

15.) Little Free Library Find: Georgia in Hawaii by Amy Novesky

16.) Book with Bugs: Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite by Ashley Spires

17.) Underwater Setting: Out to Sea by Helen Kellock

18.) Book with Robots: The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld

19.) A Holiday Story: Creepy Crayon! by Aaron Reynolds

20.) Sports Theme: H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers

21.) A Cultural Read: The New Rooster by Rilla Alexander

22.) Back in School: Sector 7 by David Wiesner

23.) Learn Something New: Share a Scare: Writing Your Own Scary Story by Nany Loewen

24.) Rhyme Time: Frog on a Log? by Kes Gray

25.) Based on Actual Events: Ida, Always by Caron Levis


“Reading one [picture] book is like eating one potato chip.” — Diane Duane

Thursday, August 31, 2023

September 2023 Reading Challenge: Back in School

With either a sense of dread or excitement or both, students and teachers are back in school and getting into the full swing of things. It's time to embrace the school schedule. Is your alarm set and your bag packed? Got your gym shorts? Did you make a lunch and charge your computer? What about binders, pens and paper, and books? 

Speaking of school and books...let's talk about the September reading challenge. Yeah! It's time to find school-related good-reads. Whether it's a particular place of study on the cover, a class, a subject, a #2 pencil, or a yellow bus, summer is over and whatever "back in school" means to's go time.

Lists, Uniforms, and Libraries

So grab some county library books, audiobooks, Little Free Library books, thrift store finds, and/or bookstore treasures, whichever and wherever, and read on. Here's my reading list with (AMZ) links:

 1. The Headmaster's List by Melissa De La Cruz

2.) Winger by Andrew Smith

3.) I learned to Dance in Reform School by H.L. McCall

4.) Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

5.) The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: College by Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht, and Jennifer Worick

6.) Dear Mrs. Larue: Letters From Obedience School by Mark Teague

7.) The Secret School (audiobook) by Avi

8.) Juliet's School of Possibilities by Laura Vanderkam


Time...a precious resource.
Photo credit to Audrey Monke

Friday, August 18, 2023

PNWA Finalist for 2023: Picture Book Category

 My picture book story is a finalist for the PNWA Literary contest!

🤩🥳 🥂Clinks all around to my writing buddies and the others on the list. Whoot! Time to celebrate!
There's a party goin' on right here,
A celebration to last throughout the years.
So bring your good times and your laughter, too,
We gonna celebrate your party with you!

Monday, May 01, 2023

May 2023 Reading Challenge: Blankets

Here in the PNW, May is that wonderful time of budding flowers, rain showers, and sun breaks teasing us with summer. Winter blankets are off the beds and beach blankets are ready to go. Whether you're warding off the last chill or embracing those bright rays, this month's reading challenge is to read books with "blanket" in the title. So relaxing.

Blanket Reads

Blanket reads (and AMZ links):

1.) Calling for a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah (audiobook) - Enjoyed the storytelling!

2.) Back to the Blanket: A Native Narrative of Discovery by James Starkey 

3.) 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet: [Blankets and More] by Betty Barnden

4.) Blankets by Craig Thompson

5.) The Blanket Where Violet Sits by Allan Wolf

6.) Twins' Blanket by Hyewon Yum - Cute story!

7.) Blanket: A Poem by Patricia Celina Ngo 

8.) Blanket Statement: One Thrifted Wool Blanket Repurposed into 40+ Projects by Vicki Haninger

9.) Bugs in a Blanket by Beatrice Alemagna

10.) My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald

11.) Pigs in a Blanket by James Burks

12.) Snoozefest and the Nuzzledome: Blankets and Pillows Optional by Samantha Berger - Fun!

13.) The Story Blanket by Ferida Wolff

14.) Blanket: Journey to Extreme Coziness by Loryn Brantz

15.) Battle of the Blanket Forts by Dee Romito

16.) Geraldine's Blanket by Holly Keller

17.) Small Bunny's Blue Blanket by Tatyana Feeney - This is a good read!

18.) That's MY blanket, Baby! by Angie Morgan - Another good read!

19.) Blanket by Ruth Ohi

20.) No More Blanket for Lambkin! by Bernette G. Ford


"Steal my heart, not my blankets."
by ladyMAKESshop on Etsy

Saturday, April 01, 2023

April 2023 Reading Challenge: Marital Book Bliss

I take you, good book, to be my best friend, my faithful partner, my one true love, to have and hold from this day forward, to love and cherish for as long as it takes me to get to the last page. I truly hope you're a good read! 

Marital Book Bliss Reading Challenge
Something old, something new...something borrowed, something blue.

My selection of books to have and to hold this month for reading bliss include (AMZ links):

1.) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - It's a good read!

2.) A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

3.) A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

4.) The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter

5.) The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder

6.) The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth (audiobook) - Enjoyed the storytelling!

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

March 2023 Reading Challenge: Happy Baba Marta!

"Chestita Baba Marta!" Happy Granny Marta to you!

White and Red for Pizho and Penda

The beginning of March marks a typical Bulgarian tradition of wearing and/or exchanging Martenitsi (plural). A Martenitsa (singular) consists of two small wool dolls: The boy doll named Pizho is mostly white, and the girl doll named Penda is mostly red.

A Martenitsa can also be a red-and-white woven cord or bracelet.The combined two thread colors symbolize the wish for good health. They celebrate Mother Nature, or Granny Marta, breathing life into the spring season. White symbolizes purity, and red symbolizes life and love.The Martenitsi are given as gifts to family and friends either pinned to clothing or as a bracelet, until the wearer sees a stork or swallow returning from migration, or a blossoming tree, and then the Martenitsa is removed and tied to a branch.

This is a joyful holiday time, commemorating health and long life and probably for some, the start of warmer weather. Read more about the Bulgarian March culture here:BNR Radio Bulgaria and Sofia Adventures.

To honor this Bulgarian tradition, I've chosen to read red and white books for March. My short stack includes (AMZ links below):

1.) Going too Far by Jennifer Echols

2.) The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

3.) Firegirl by Tony Abbott

4.) 303 Writing Prompts by Bonnie Neubauer

5.) Hope in the Mail by Wendelin Van Draanen


Martenitzi from a Bulgarian shop on Etsy:

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

February 2023 Reading Challenge: Book Title Haiku

A book title haiku reading challenge? Of course! Sign me up, please. To refresh the rusty minds out there--like moi--a haiku is typically five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, and five syllables for the last line. It took some time perusing my bookshelf to find titles that worked AND made sense poetically. But I found 'em:

Book Title Haiku

Frozen detective...
How (not) to find a boyfriend,
Writing down the bones.

The book list:

1.) Frozen Detective by Amanda Flower (AMZ)
Knives Out-style cozy mystery with intrigue, a fake relationship, and humor. 

2.) How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend by Allyson Valentine (AMZ)
Can an overachiever turned airhead morph into a truer version of herself for love?

3.) Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (AMZ)
The secret to creativity is to subtract rules, "uneducate" yourself, and find the Zen writing experience.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

January 2023 Reading Challenge: Match Your Flannel

Brown, tan, rose-pink, black, and a smidge of white

This is not an original idea, the matching of book covers to flannel, but one shared on Instagram by book-stackers across the land. Since I recently bought a new flannel scarf, I thought I'd give this reading challenge a whirl for January. Still cold outside. Still relevant. So, here's what I pulled off the shelf:

 Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Fabulous Five: Favorite Reads for 2022

Goodbye 2022. It's been a fabulous reading year of good books and new authors. After reading 116% of my annual goal, it's time to bid you adieu. But before I go, I picked out five of my favorites...hands down, no contest...these are great reads!


1.) My all-time 2022 favorite read goes to a YOUNG ADULT WESTERN...

2.) The best NON-FICTION, MIDDLE GRADE, and GRAPHIC NOVEL for the year goes to...

3.) Best MYSTERY for the year and an author I'd read again goes to...

4.) Best INDIE read and MEMOIR goes to...

5.) Best CULTURAL and POETRY for the year goes to...