Getting Personal #130: Seventh TBR Recap

Book Quote - Neil Gaiman

Image Credit: Ebook Friendly

Welcome back!

In case you’re interested, here are the links to my previous TBR posts:


Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR update:

  1. Prez: A Story of Love, Margaret Garrison
  2. A Girl Named Rosa: The True Story of Rosa Parks, Denise Lewis Patrick
  3. A Girl Named Hillary: The True Story of Hillary Clinton, Rebecca Paley
  4. Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide, Patrice Banks
  5. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling

Like I said in my first “Down The TBR Hole” post, I want to change up my TBR  posts a little bit. Going forward, I will state my “Remove” list, and then state my “Keep” List.

As of May 5th, my updated TBR had 48 books.

Subtracting the five I read, that makes 43 books.

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR:

  1. Bader, Bonnie, A Girl Named Helen: The True Story of Helen Keller (American Girl: A Girl Named)
  2. Calonita, Jen, Z On Location (American Girl: Z Yang, Book 2)
  3. Casanova, Mary, Menace at Mammoth Cave: A Kit Mystery
  4. Choi, Mary H.K., Emergency Contact
  5. Crowley, Cath, Words in Deep Blue
  6. Falligant, Erin, The Legend of the Shark Goddess: A Nanea Mystery
  7. Gaskell, Elizabeth, North and South
  8. Gilbert, Kelly Loy, Picture Us in the Light
  9. King, Stephen, 11/22/63
  10. Lyons, Kelly Starling, A Girl Named Misty: The True Story of Misty Copeland (American Girl: A Girl Named)
  11. McKinney, Ruth Ann, Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert
  12. Nijkamp, Marieke, Before I Let Go
  13. Prose, Francine, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.)
  14. Ritter, Krysten, Bonfire
  15. Teagan, Erin, Luciana: Braving the Deep
  16. Teagan, Erin, Luciana: Out of This World
  17. Toobin, Jeffrey, American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst
  18. Tripp, Valerie, Turning Things Around: A Kit Classic Volume 2
  19. Tripp, Valerie, Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit
  20. Yee, Lisa, Lea Dives In
  21. Yee, Lisa, Lea Leads the Way
  22. Yee, Lisa, and Kellen Hertz, Lea and Camila

Removal Rate: 22/43 = 51%


Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Bader, Bonnie, and Connie Porter, The Underground Railroad (American Girl: Real Stories from My Time)
  2. Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker, The War I Finally Won
  3. Calonita, Jen, The Real Z (American Girl: Z Yang, Book 1)
  4. Carlson Berne, Emma, The Titanic (American Girl: Real Stories from My Time)
  5. Desmond, Matthew, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
  6. Ehrenreich, Barbara, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
  7. Green, John, Turtles All the Way Down
  8. Haddix, Margaret Peterson, Among The Hidden (Shadow Children #1)
  9. Hite, Sid, My Name is America: The Journal of Rufus Rowe, Witness to the Battle of Fredericksburg
  10. Lehr, Dick, Trell
  11. McNamara, Michelle, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
  12. Miranda, Megan, All The Missing Girls
  13. Murphy, Jim, My Name is America: The Journal of James Edmond Pease, A Civil War Union Soldier, Virginia, 1863
  14. Myers, Walter Dean, My Name is America: The Journal of Joshua Loper, A Black Cowboy
  15. Paley, Rebecca, The Boston Tea Party (American Girl: Real Stories from My Time)
  16. Shetterly, Margot Lee, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
  17. Skloot, Rebecca, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  18. Swanson, Jennifer, Pearl Harbor (American Girl: Real Stories from My Time)
  19. Teagan, Erin, Luciana
  20. Toobin, Jeffrey, The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson
  21. Tripp, Valerie, Read All About It: A Kit Classic Volume 1

Keep Rate: 21/43 = 49%


Adding To The TBR

I’ve decided to limit myself to adding no more than 10 books to my existing TBR every quarter. Hopefully, this will keep me in check, and also motivate me to add books that I really, truly want to read.

  1. Arnold, David, Mosquitoland
  2. Block, Lawrence, Small Town
  3. Fisher, Carrie, Wishful Drinking
  4. Hopkins, Ellen, Crank
  5. Reynolds, Jason, Long Way Down
  6. Summers, Courtney, All the Rage

So, my current total is 27 books. Much better than over 180 a while back!


Do you have a TBR?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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Book Review #62: “The Casual Vacancy”

The Casual Vacancy

Image Credit: Kobo.com

It took me quite a while to read this book. I purchased it at Barnes & Noble at least two years ago, if not longer than that. I think I had a gift card to spend, because the paperback had the bargain price of $5.98.

I’ve been interested in this book since it was published in 2012. Having been a massive Harry Potter fan, and this being her first novel for adults, I had full confidence that I would enjoy this book just as much.

Poor Al. He’s heard me gripe and complain and whine about this book for weeks! But, I finally finished the book earlier this week after he went to sleep. It took way too long for me to finish 503 pages, but I DID IT!

Rowling is still one of my favorite authors, by the way. But, this book doesn’t make my list of favorites.

It’s not a bad book, but it’s really dense. There are SO MANY characters. It made my head spin initially. I get it – She’s focusing on multiple families, all who are involved in some way with the parish council. Also, the book could have been condensed. In my opinion, 503 pages for this book was too long. She could have certainly told this particular story in 300-400 pages.

As an American, I’ve been fascinated with England, British life, and so on for several years. Getting this fictional perspective of a parish council, different communities, and challenging decisions was really interesting. Overall, the cast of characters were diverse, and interesting. There was a lot more drama than I was expecting, but it wasn’t too distracting.

The book dragged quite a bit through the first half. I almost gave up – I was struggling with the characters, and it was a lot of mundane exposition.

However, around Part Five or Part Six, the action increased, and I actually started to enjoy it. Toward the very end, I was on the edge of my seat – The last 75 pages or so were really exciting. Definitely dramatic, and more than a bit of tragedy, but it felt like a thriller at that point. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I was slightly sad when I got to the last page.

Again, not my favorite book by Rowling, but I was happy I plowed through to finish.

3 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #16: Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg

Image Credit: Quotefancy

Chris Van Allsburg was practically a household name when I was younger. He has created some of the most beautifully illustrated books I have ever seen. Our future kids will definitely know about him, too.

Born in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, in June 1949. Van Allsburg has an older sister. His parents moved a few times between East Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids. After graduation, he attended the College of Architecture and Design at the University of Michigan, where the art school was located at the time. After graduating in 1972, he went on to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he obtained a master’s degree in sculpture in 1975. He opened a studio. Struggling with time in the studio, he started to sketch his ideas and designs at home. His wife thought his drawings would be good for children’s books. His first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, was published in 1979.

He resides in Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife, Lisa. They have two daughters, Sophia and Anna. Van Allsburg converted to Judaism, which is Lisa’s faith.

He has received several awards, including two Caldecott Medals for U.S. picture book illustration. He was the 1986 U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christain Andersen Award, the highest international recognition for those who create children’s books. In April 2012, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from his alma mater, the University of Michigan.


The Polar Express (1985)

CM polar express.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

My parents have had a copy of this book since before I was born. It was a Christmas tradition for years to read the book and/or listen to the story on cassette tape. We even had a collector’s set with the book, cassette tape, and a silver bell. If you haven’t read it, you should.

Also, the movie adaptation (2004) is wonderful. We went to see it in theaters, likely the weekend it was released. We love Josh Groban in our house, so we also got the soundtrack and DVD. It’s a thing.

Jumanji (1981)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’m pretty sure I first read this book through either the Chittum Elementary School library, or the Russell Memorial Library. I remember the Reading Rainbow episode, too.

Like The Polar Express, the movie adaptation (1995) is awesome, with Robin Williams and a cast of characters. I think I saw it on TV first. It’s one of my favorite movies that will never get old. We also saw the sequel (2017) in theaters, and it was pretty good, too. We miss you, Robin. There was also a TV series that ran from 1996 to 1999.

The Wreck of the Zephyr (1983)

The Wreck of the Zephyr.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

This is one book that I hadn’t heard of! I need to see if the local library has it.

Zathura (2002)

Zathura book cover.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

This is one instance where I saw the movie adaptation (2005) before I read the book. It’s always fun to think about and dream about space. We actually watched the movie again recently – It’s really well-done. Plus, it’s fun to see several actors when they first got their start in the film industry.


What about you? Have you read or seen any of Chris Van Allsburg’s work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #60: Ultimate Book Tag

The Ultimate Book Tag

Image Credit: Found on Fiction No Chaser

Fiction No Chaser is awesome! I stumbled upon Teagan and Jess’s blog a while back, and I’m loving their book reviews. Check them out!

Here’s the link to their post:


The Questions

Do you get sick while reading in the car?

  • Nope. While I’m not driving, I love reading on road trips!

Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?

  • I was hooked by Sharon M. Draper from the beginning. She has this way of making predominantly African-American and people of color characters jump off the page. I’ve read nearly everything that’s she published.

Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.

  • Harry Potter wins. Every. Single. Time.
  • Point #1: Harry Potter was the first series that got me remotely interested in the fantasy genre.
  • Point #2: Twilight is not my thing. I tried. But, I’ve read, devoured every single page of Harry Potter.
  • Point #3: I donated my Twilight books long ago. I will never donate my Harry Potter collection.

Do you carry a book bag? If so, what’s in it (besides books …)?

  • My current Vera Bradley purse is big enough to carry a book, so that works. That’s one of my main policies for purses / bags – At least one book has to fit in it.

Do you smell your books?

  • I have. But, I don’t make a habit of it.

Books with or without little illustrations?

  • I love illustrations. That’s one thing I didn’t like when American Girl launched their BeForever series in 2014. The style of the books changed so that they became solid chapter books, and lost the beautiful illustrations that captivated the imagination. I will keep the older, six series books for myself and my future children because the illustrations are timeless.

What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?

Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood?

  • We almost had to pay a $25 fine for the local library to replace a beautifully illustrated, hardcover children’s book. Right before the deadline to pay, we finally found the book. It was under my parents’ bed. I have no idea why I thought it was a good idea to put it there. From then on, library books were restricted to my bedroom, or in a bag in the car.

What is the thinnest book on your shelf?

  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, by Dr. Seuss. It was a graduation gift with a beautiful inscription.

What is the thickest book on your shelf?

  • 11/22/63, by Stephen King.

Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?

  • I’ve been writing in journals and creating stories since I was 8-years-old. I decided that I wanted to be a writer when I was 10. I’m getting closer to that goal every day – My goal is to finish my current WIP for the first round of editing by December 31, 2018. I want to reach at least 50,000 words.

When did you get into reading?

  • Probably in the womb. My parents and grandparents read to me constantly.

What is your favorite classic book?

In school what was your best subject?

  • English was my absolute favorite. I didn’t always like the books that were assigned, but I certainly gained a greater appreciation for literature over the years. The lively discussions we had in my high school classes are some of my fondest memories.

If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?

  • Say thank you, and accept it.

What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games?

  • I can’t answer this question. I don’t know of one!

What is a bad habit that you always do (besides rambling) while filming?

  • I don’t do many videos, but I struggle with what to do with my hands. I talk with my hands, so gesturing is something where I have control issues.

What is your favorite word?

  • Awesome.

Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb?

  • Likely all of the above, but nerd shines brightly.

Vampires or Fairies? Why?

  • Fairies. I love Tinkerbell! And vampires have never been my thing.

Shapeshifters or Angels?

  • Ooooh. I like both, but angels win for me. I rely on my faith quite a bit.

Spirits or Werewolves?

  • Spirits – Such as, A Christmas Carol.

Zombies or Vampires?

  • Given the choice, I’d go with vampires. Zombies are gross, and I would very likely get eaten, or turned into one within minutes. Yuck!

Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?

  • Forbidden love, hands down. I don’t even want to write love triangles in my works, let alone read them.

AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

  • Both. Mixing action and romance is never bad.

Tag – You’re It!


This was an awesome tag! Really interesting questions!

What would your answers be?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #58: The “All About The Reading” Tag

All About The Reading Tag

Image Credit: YouTube

Thrice Read! Happy two-year anniversary, by the way! Thanks for publishing so many awesome tags!

Here’s the link to their original post:


What do you look for most when you pick up a book?

A) A beautiful writing style
B) A character driven story
C) A plot driven story

Honestly, I’m picking C. The plot has to hook me from the get-go.

What are your pet peeves in books?

  1. Multiple POVs that are poorly executed.
  2. Characters that diminish their self-worth to attract the love interest.
  3. I agree with Thrice Read – Using / having pregnancy as a conflict? No, thanks!
  4. Most love triangles. They don’t typically end well in real life, so I don’t really want to see it play out in a book. Next!

If you could print one quote on your wall, which one would it be?

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

~ Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Which genre would you like to explore more?

Science fiction. I want to re-read Ender’s Game, and then finally read more of Card’s books. Then, we’ll see what happens from there!

I also want to try my hand with Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch.

Was there ever a movie adaptation you liked better than the book?

The Notebook (2004) was one of the best adaptations.

However, no movie adaptation will likely top a book, for me. Books will always win.

If one of your favorite books would be adapted or get a new adaptation, which book would it be and which role would you like to play?

I would love to see a modern retelling of The Great Gatsby. I think I’d like to play a female version of Nick Carraway – How’s that for turning something on its head?

A hyped book you wouldn’t recommend at all?

As much as I want to say Fifty Shades of Grey, I didn’t get past the first few pages before I completely stopped. I will never read any of them, ever. So, technically, they don’t count.

So, I’ll go with Twilight. Initially, I though it was an intriguing series, but I never truly bought into the vampire side. This is also coming from someone who was basically forced to watch the first two movies while in college. I haven’t seen any of the others.

A book that highly influenced your life and way of thinking?

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card.

Double points for using the same answer twice!

Are you a fan of re-reading books, do you do it often?

Yes.

I re-read The Great Gatsby and To Kill A Mockingbird every year.

Which book title could easily be the title of your life?

Eat, Pray, Love (I’m horrible with questions like this!)

Which book should be required reading for everyone?

I don’t like to use the term “required reading,” but here’s my list of my recommended books (in no particular order):

  • Dear Mr. Henshaw, Beverly Cleary
  • Holes, Louis Sachar
  • Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
  • Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
  • Looking for Alaska, John Green

What would you recommend for required reading? Why?

Thanks for another great tag!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #15: Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I was first introduced to Orson Scott Card when I was entering high school. We were assigned to read Ender’s Game, something that I initially dreaded!

Born in Richland, Washington, in August 1951, he is the third of six children. He is a great-great-grandson of Brigham Young. His older brother, Arlen Card, is a notable composer and arranger. Card was raised in Santa Clara, California; Mesa, Arizona; and Orem, Utah. Raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church, or Mormon church) church, Card was a missionary in Brazil, and graduated from Brigham Young University (BYU). He also attended the University of Utah, and spent a year at the University of Notre Dame in a Ph.D program.

Card started primarily as a poet. While a theater major, he began doctoring scripts, and eventually wrote his own one-act and full-length plays. Several were produced by faculty directors at BYU. He delved into fiction writing, and his earliest stories evolved into The Worthing Saga.

He was an associate editor at the Ensign, and moved to Salt Lake City. He currently teaches English at Southern Virginia University. In addition to writing under his given name, Card has written under multiple pseudonyms.

He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine. They have had five children, all named after authors their parents have admired: Michael Geoffrey (Geoffrey Chaucer), Emily Janice (Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson), Charles Benjamin (Charles Dickens), Zina Margaret (Margaret Mitchell), and Erin Louisa (Louisa May Alcott). Charles had cerebral palsy, and passed away just after his 17th birthday. Erin died the day she was born.

He has been awarded the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award multiple times, and has been the only author to win both science fiction’s top U.S. prizes in consecutive years. He was also recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) in 2008 with their Margaret A. Edwards Award, in which a writer and a particular body of work is recognized for “significant and lasting contributions to young adult literature.”


Ender’s Game (1985)

Cover shows a futuristic aeroplane landing on a lighted runway.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

This is one of the best science fiction books that I have ever read. Although it was assigned reading, I ended up re-reading it while still in high school. The movie adaptation (2013) was also very well done.

For someone who used to be a huge sci-fi skeptic, this is the book that turned it around for me.

Speaker for the Dead (1986)

Speaker dead cover.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

This is one book that has been on my radar, but have yet to read.

Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus (1996)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’ve always been fascinated by alternate histories. This one looks interesting.


What about you? Have you read any of Orson Scott Card’s books or work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #61: “Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide”

Girls Auto Clinic - Amazon

Image Credit: Amazon

I first heard about this book when Patrice Banks was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast!

Here’s the link from the NPR archives:


I wanted to buy this book the minute I saw the podcast episode in my library.

I’m a bit biased, I think. Being the only child, my dad made sure that I was comfortable around cars from a very early age. Since he was an engineer, he wanted me to be as confident as possible with math and science, and anything related to it. Cars are complicated, don’t get me wrong, but being naturally curious, I learned quickly.

My dad taught me how to change the oil in our Volvo station wagon before I entered middle school. I also learned the essence of a gas and maintenance log, checking tire pressures, and having an emergency kit ready to go.

I also learned that my parents keep their cars for as long as possible. Our family only had/went through five cars by the time I graduated from college in 2011.

  • White Volvo 240 station wagon, 1988-2016
  • Gold/beige Saturn SL sedan, early 1990s
  • Forest green Volvo S70 sedan, 1998-2011
  • Gold/beige Ford Ranger truck, 2005-present
  • Gold/beige Toyota Camry sedan, 2010-present

The only new cars my parents ever purchased, in my lifetime, were the Volvo station wagon, and possibly the Saturn sedan. Everything else was/has been used. I learned how to drive stick on the Ford Ranger when I was in high school, although the Saturn sedan was also a manual transmission. The Camry is my baby, whom I call “Sandy.”


I really appreciate Banks writing this type of guide. It’s important for everyone to know the basics about the car you drive, but especially women. Banks has said this book arose out of her own experiences, and shame, with being incredibly intimidated by mechanics, car repairs, dealerships, and more.

Although I was fortunate to have a wonderful dad who taught me many things about cars early on, I know many women aren’t so lucky. Even some men I know aren’t handy with their cars, and trust their mechanics to fix whatever is wrong.

Banks does a great job with breaking a car down into its basic components, and making everything less intimidating right off the bat. She founded Girls Auto Clinic as a series of workshops, where women were encouraged to bring their cars and be prepared to get their hands dirty. She’s learned from her mistakes, and tries hard to educate others. When she was younger, Banks found she was getting a new car every three-four years, dropping a ton of extra money on repairs because she was ignoring or was intimidated by routine maintenance, and zoning out when mechanics were explaining the work that was being done.

She encourages, implores women (and men) to learn the basics first, then to become very intimate with your vehicle, and to continue a similar relationship with every vehicle after that. Once you’re armed with knowledge, everything becomes easier.

Here are a few basics Banks encourages everyone to learn:

  • How to pop and raise your vehicle’s hood
  • What the lights on your dashboard or instrument panel mean
  • How to check your tire pressure
  • How to add air to your tires
  • How to measure your tire tread
  • How to check your fluids under the hood
  • How to change a tire
  • Finding and keeping a great PCT

Banks doesn’t encourage the common driver to change their own oil, although Al and I do that with our own cars. We know how, and the amount of money spent is a little less than the traditional oil change services.

The biggest tip to keep in mind: Beware of cheap car services. Oil changes aren’t normally $5.00 flat. Your car is a big part of your life – Don’t automatically spring for something cheap to save money.


Now that I’ve read the book, I plan to keep this in my glove box. It’s chock-full of valuable tips, tricks, diagrams, and recommendations.

I hope that she expands the Girls Auto Clinic across the country, too. It’s a valuable organization that empowers women in a male-dominated profession.

For more information, check out https://girlsautoclinic.com/.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂