Welcome to the World, The Half Theft!

I can’t believe it’s finally November 1st, the day my debut young adult suspense novel, The Half Theft, releases!

Needless to say, I am beyond excited to let my book, my baby, out into the world.

If you, like me, are a fan of young adult or suspense stories—or better yet, young adult suspense stories—you will definitely want to stay tuned!

In case you haven’t yet read the blurb, here is a sneak peek at what you’re getting yourself into:

Charlie Riverson led a mundane life in the nearly abandoned city of Collinswood. Always had. Always would, at least that’s what he preferred to believe. It eased his mind far more than the truth of his life as of lately—the reality of the unexplainable crime attempted in his home, just three months after the disappearance of his best friend, and a possible link between the two.

The link? The Ducartes, the city’s most notorious family of homicidal madmen—and woman—who spent the majority of their time carrying out promises of revenge upon anyone who dared to disobey them. Most dangerous of all were the children, Grant and Naomi, the two who executed their father’s plans, no matter how gruesome.

Charlie now found himself at the intersection of a terrific and terrible realization. The good news: There was a chance, even if a small one, that Charlie might yet be able to rescue his friend. The bad news: The key to her whereabouts led him straight to the very family he wanted to distance himself from most.

So, who is this book written for?

The simple answer: anyone who wants to read it! As for the specifics, The Half Theft is written in a young adult tone with characters as young as nineteen, ranging up to one character in his thirties. It is perfectly suitable for anyone who enjoys young adult or suspense stories, which can include almost any age.

This book was written, not with a target age range in mind, but with a target interest group: young adult and suspense lovers.

What went into the creation of this book?

Quite frankly, years of work. I see so many authors release multiple books in a single year, and I truly do not know how they are able to accomplish that. I am incredibly impressed!

The Half Theft has been my #1 work in progress for almost three years now. I wrote Chapter One. I mapped out my characters. I wrote Chapter Two. I drastically changed most of my characters, and I kept on moving. I’ve gotten to the point where my characters feel more like family than fictional people in a book.

Charlie? Definitely real.

Maeve? The love of my life, and definitely real.

Naomi? Well, I’ll have to wait and let you see about her…

What does The Half Theft offer for badass women?

I could spend approximately five hours speaking to the strength of the women in my book. They’re awesome. They’re badass. Sometimes fear-inducing. And I adore them. To be frank, I didn’t create them in some strange, outlandish method. I just wrote them, as a woman writing women. And it worked.

But don’t worry, the men of The Half Theft are every bit as incredible, if you ask me. Each character brings his or her own unique traits (or, in one instance, lack thereof) to the table to form something of an awkward dream team, in my mind. I only hope these characters can bring as much joy to my readers as they do to me.

In which formats is this book available?

If you’re a fan of eBooks, you can get a Kindle copy through Amazon. You can either purchase one or download it with Kindle Unlimited.

If you are more of an old-fashioned print book person (like me), there are paperback copies available as well. I could be biased, but the cover is absolutely beautiful in person!

How do I grab a copy of The Half Theft?

The good news is, it releases today so you can order your copy from Amazon right now!

Click here to purchase a copy.

Thank you.

I so appreciate every bit of support I have received from the book blogging, writing, and reading communities of which I am a part. You are truly a special bunch. I look forward to many years to come of shared stories and shared support. Thank you.

Dear Dune, Stop Making Me Cry

No, seriously. Dune Messiah hurt my feelings.

And I thought Dune was sad? Its sequel was a punch in the heart. Yet I liked it—a lot.

I would give it somewhere between three-and-a-half and four stars. Maybe three-and-three-quarters? That’s an irritatingly specific rating. Yikes.

To start with the good news, I finally really felt a connection with Chani. I liked her in the first book but, at the same time, she was sort of just there. I felt for her so much more this time around. Also, I’ve completely changed my mind on Zendaya being cast in her role. I had no idea if I was going to like that casting choice, but I actually think she might end up being one of the best choices in all of Dune.

The second part of this story that I particularly love is Paul. Again, there was just something about the character development in the sequel that made me feel a deeper connection to him. Don’t get me wrong. There was never a point within the first book where I did not feel a strong compulsion to give the guy a hug. I always loved him. I just have a better understanding of his character now.

Another aspect of the Dune Chronicles, as a whole, is that I actually do enjoy the relationship between Paul and Chani. I want to vomit over about 99% of fictional relationships, so this is a real step in the right direction for me. Am I becoming a…normal member of society that enjoys other people’s love for one another…? What a crazy thought!

Now onto the sadness and devastation.

This story just broke me. There’s the fact that the foreword set me up to be sad. It literally mentioned that many people didn’t react well to the sequel because it doesn’t have a happy ending. And, of course, my first thought was crap, but then again I’ve come this far; I have to read it.

Unfortunately for me, not only did it have a devastating ending, but it had a mildly upsetting beginning, and a moderately depressing middle. Many a tear was shed.

In Messiah’s defence, it isn’t a story where the sadness creeps up on you unexpectedly. I can say that much for it. I saw it coming from miles and miles away. That didn’t really make it sting less, but at least I wasn’t surprised.

Despite how bleak this review sounds, I really did love this book. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and so worth reading after its predecessor. Even though the first two books definitely don’t make up the whole Dune series, Messiah makes the story feel complete. Everything comes full circle.

Obviously, I’m very divided on this book, so you’ll have to use your own discretion when deciding whether you want to bawl your eyes out or not.

Seriously, I didn’t hate it though! I’m just the tiniest bit bitter and sad. But having the ability to evoke such emotion signals a fantastic author, doesn’t it?

Finally Fall Book Tag

More like finally doing this book tag. I mean gosh, it’s already snowed at my house! I better hurry up and do this before I run out of time.

Thank you to Cherelle the Bibliophile for the tag! I love how welcoming the book blogging community is. You’re all so great!

I don’t really know who to tag, so if you have a blog and you haven’t done this yet, please consider yourself tagged!

Now onto the good stuff…

IN FALL, THE AIR IS CRISP AND CLEAR: NAME A BOOK WITH A VIVID SETTING.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this book forever ago for an English class—I believe it was middle school—and I absolutely adored it. The world in which it takes place is fascinating. The black-and-white versus color perspectives of the story are incredibly creative.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t somewhere I would want to live. But it was such a great read in an entirely intriguing setting.

NATURE IS BEAUTIFUL… BUT ALSO DYING: NAME A BOOK THAT IS BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN, BUT ALSO DEALS WITH A HEAVY TOPIC LIKE LOSS OR GRIEF.

Night by Elie Wiesel

I’m not much for sad stories, but I do remember reading Night back in middle school. It literally broke my heart. I still think about it. Often.

Despite how much I don’t like reading depressing books, this one was undoubtedly worth it. The holocaust is a topic about which I firmly believe we need to continue to educate ourselves.

FALL IS BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON: SHARE A NON-FICTION BOOK THAT TAUGHT YOU SOMETHING NEW.

The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro

Ironic how I’m using this book under a category that deals with school… But I learned so much from it! Far beyond modern political stances, Shapiro spoke deeply about the ways in which religion and Western philosophy shaped the world as we know it. And it was deep, as in textbook-level deep, but I loved it. I learned so much about the ways in which different forces in the world work together.

IN ORDER TO KEEP WARM, IT’S GOOD TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH THE PEOPLE WE LOVE: NAME A FICTIONAL FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD/FRIEND-GROUP THAT YOU’D LIKE TO BE PART OF.

The Half Theft by Brooke Nelson (aka me, duh)

I promise I’m not about to lapse into self-promo, so hear me out. I wrote this book in such a way that I did what I had never seen another author do: create a friend group that I actually loved.

Charlie is just perfect and such a dork. And Maeve, the love of my life who makes me feel better about how clumsy I am. And…well, I won’t spoil anyone else for you.

FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR SOME STORYTELLING BY THE FIRESIDE: SHARE A BOOK WHEREIN SOMEONE IS TELLING A STORY.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts at least a couple times, I adore these books. And the narration is one of the best parts!

They are so unique in the sense that they are told from the perspective of Lemony Snicket, a man who is documenting the Baudelaire children’s case in hopes of helping them reach safety.

THE NIGHTS ARE GETTING DARKER: SHARE A DARK, CREEPY READ.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Scary books are a big no for me! I’m not built for that.

That being said, The Woman in the Window is a thriller that I found super creepy and fun. For anyone who isn’t a fan of actual scary books, but loves a good mystery, I would highly recommend this. It was nicely paced and a fairly easy read.

The writing is simply superb.

THE DAYS ARE GETTING COLDER: NAME A SHORT, HEARTWARMING READ THAT COULD WARM UP SOMEBODY’S COLD AND RAINY DAY.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

This is one of the very few times I am actually going to say you need to read this! Especially if you’re a Christian, since the series is an extended metaphor for the Bible.

The stories are so heartwarming and beautiful. I really cannot believe it took me until 2020 to read this series. It’s only been sitting on my shelf for ages!

FALL RETURNS EVERY YEAR: NAME AN OLD FAVOURITE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO RETURN TO SOON.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Shoutout to my mom who, back when I was in middle school and I ordered this book from the library, kept returning it without my knowledge because she thought the plot sounded morbid. See, parents? That’s what you do if you don’t like a book. You don’t ban it. You repeatedly return it on your kids.

Fast forward to now, she’s just as big a fan as me!

FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR COZY READING NIGHTS: SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE COZY READING “ACCESSORIES”!

My cats! Do they count? I would say my dog, but all he does it lick the pages, which is hardly helpful. My cats, on the other hand, are content to fall asleep on my lap or, on their more difficult days, fight on top of the pages.

Have you read any of the books on my list? What are your thoughts?

The 7 1/2 Reasons I Wish I Hadn’t Read Evelyn Hardcastle

Okay, so there aren’t actually 7 1/2. It’s just a joke.

Like, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? Get it? Anyway…

I need you to believe me when I tell you this: I do not like writing a negative book review, because I know how hard authors work. Really, it doesn’t make me feel good in any way, shape, or form.

But you know what makes me feel even worse? A perfectly good murder mystery that suddenly becomes a story about forgiving a terrorist just because she kisses you on the cheek and holds your hand out of fear and keeping herself safe.

Seriously. I’m not even joking one bit.

A terrorist. Gets a redemption arc. With the help of one of her dead victims’ siblings.

This is one of those instances where the ending is so terrible, it’s hard to put the rest of the story into a reasonable perspective.

The thing is, when I started the book, it was so exciting, and unique, and creepy as heck. I absolutely loved everything about it. The characters were interesting, each one vastly different from the others. I adored the main character, but that flew out the window by the end.

I wish I could say that I look back on the rest of the book with such fondness that I don’t mind the crappy ending, to put it lightly.

But Evelyn Hardcastle isn’t a case of an author not knowing quite where to go with the story, so they accidentally bore me to death. Nor is it slightly disappointing for its rushed nature, like some books I’ve read *cough* Dune *cough*. If either of those were the problem, I would forgive it. I gave the latter 4 1/2 stars, didn’t I?

Instead, the book suddenly lapses into a disturbing few chapters in which the aforementioned sibling finds out their sister was murdered by the terrorist, is wildly upset to the point of tears (as one should be), then immediately trying to ensure the safety of the terrorist because they are a changed person.

You know what I have to say to that? Bullshit.

How dare they betray their family, or any one of the terrorist’s numerous victims, like that? It was really gross to read that reaction from the sibling, whom I had liked throughout the other 375 or so pages.

Then, there’s the end (which I’m only going to partially spoil by telling you what makes me so mad, not the actual mystery or anything).

Ugh, the end.

Such an ugly end.

Truly, an ugly ass end.

The terrorist and the sibling both get a happy ending to their story. And all I have to say is:

I beg your pardon?

And also:

I hope they both live miserable lives.

So, there’s my review of The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, bitterness and all.

If you do choose to read it, good luck to you.

If you don’t, I completely understand your choice. If I could erase it from my mind, I would.

Again, let me reiterate that I hate giving out crappy reviews. I get such an icky feeling inside, but I promised this review so it had to be done.

I wish you all a good day full of everything this book is not.

I Wrote a Book!

I have some exciting news (at least for me).

I am officially an author!

My debut novel, The Half Theft (by Brooke Nelson), is a young adult suspense story I have been working on for years. For those of you who prefer books that are part of a series, you will be happy to hear it is the first half of what I plan to make a duology.

It comes out on November 1st on Amazon. You can pick up a print copy or a Kindle edition. It will also be available on Kindle Unlimited!

Now onto the interesting stuff…

The Blurb

Charlie Riverson led a mundane life in the nearly abandoned city of Collinswood. Always had. Always would, at least that’s what he preferred to believe. It eased his mind far more than the truth of his life as of lately—the reality of the unexplainable crime attempted in his home, just three months after the disappearance of his best friend, and a possible link between the two.

The link? The Ducartes, the city’s most notorious family of homicidal madmen—and woman—who spent the majority of their time carrying out promises of revenge upon anyone who dared to disobey them. Most dangerous of all were the children, Grant and Naomi, the two who executed their father’s plans, no matter how gruesome.

Charlie now found himself at the intersection of a terrific and terrible realization. The good news: There was a chance, even if a small one, that Charlie might yet be able to rescue his friend. The bad news: The key to her whereabouts led him straight to the very family he wanted to distance himself from most.

Why I Write

I will not lie and tell you English has always been my favorite subject, or that I’ve wanted to author a book since I was 3 years old, or anything like that. I have always found English classes to be fairly easy for me—I will admit that—but that isn’t the whole of my story.

My decision to write a book came to me a couple years ago when I realized two things about myself. First, I needed a healthy way to cope with anxiety. And secondly, I’m a tad bit of a control freak. I knew that meant I needed something to replace that voice inside my head telling me everything will not be okay with something that tells me the opposite, but that something also had to be entirely my own. And what is easier to make your own than your very own book?

As it turns out, anxiety + control freak tendencies equals a novel.

From there, I wrote a couple chapters, asked for opinions, and was floored by the positive feedback I received. I was finally given the chance to finish my book under somewhat unfortunate circumstances: at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Each day I would finish my online classes as quickly as possible—though college can admittedly be tough work sometimes—so I could sit down to write out or edit another chapter.

After months of writing and rewriting, I was immensely excited when I realized I had finally finished. I had a draft sitting in front of me that I could honestly be proud of.

And that it what I am putting out into the world. My final draft. My slightly creepy, slightly violent, more-than-a-little-mysterious young adult suspense story, full of twists and turns and characters with the most curious responses to their unfortunate circumstances. And I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Thank you.

To those that have already contacted me to speak to me about my book, I want to give you the biggest thank you.

You have no idea how happy it makes me to know you are interested in my work. I love speaking with all of you.

Thank you in advance to anyone who plans to pick up a copy. I deeply appreciate your support!

Saviors, Slayers, and Strong Women

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! In case you haven’t come upon one of these posts in the past, they are just a fun way to look at our current reading experiences.

The three Ws are:

  • What is the last book I read?
  • What book am I currently reading?
  • What do I think I will read next?

What is the last book I read?

The last book I read was Dune: Messiah by Frank Herbert. I have such mixed feelings about this book, especially after reading its predecessor, Dune. I will say I did enjoy this book, just maybe not as much as the first.

It was good, and now that I’m done, I am definitely happy that I read it. It was just so depressing to read though. The fact that Paul is able to read into the future added such a layer of sadness to this story. Not to be dramatic but honestly, I just kind of sat around wanting to cry a lot of the time while I was reading Messiah.

But, on the other hand, the writing! What a fantastic author Frank Herbert is. He has a truly one-of-a-kind method of drawing the reader into the fantastic world that is his imagination.

What book am I currently reading?

What an absolutely strange and wonderful book! Since the start, I have been just a little confused about what is happening. But not the type of confusion that makes me want to give up and quit reading. More like the type of confusion that makes me want to read even more.

I find the main character, along with the rest of the cast, thoroughly enjoyable so far. That isn’t usually the case for me, so I am quite pleasantly surprised. Evelyn gives me the same kind of vibes as Lucy Gray from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

My favorite aspect of this book is its uniqueness. I truly have never read something like it, yet I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that is so different. This is definitely a book that I will be writing a review on. I already have so much to say, and I’ve hardly begun!

What do I think I will read next?

My birthday was last week and among the lovely gifts I was given was Candace Owens’ new book! Like almost every other bookworm, I have a TBR list longer than I am tall, so I have quite a few other books I had planned on reading before starting this.

However, I’m super excited to begin Blackout as soon as possible. Candace is one of the few political commentators I have followed on social media for years, and I find pretty much everything she has to say fascinating. She’s such a strong, intelligent woman!

So, I have to apologize to the rest of my to-be-reads, because Candace just shoved them all aside. I can’t wait to get started and see what I think of this!

What book(s) are you currently reading?

Does Dune Live Up to the Hype?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I hate to begin a review by revealing my indecision but here we are. This book is a solid four-and-a-half stars for me. I’ve had the hardest time trying to decide which rating I want to give to this story, but we’ll leave it at four-and-a-half for now in favor of being decisive.

So what did this book do right? So, so much.

  • Dynamic characters

Where to begin? I love the characters of Dune from the bottom of my heart. First there is Paul Atreides, the main character. I typically don’t care for main characters, as they tend to all mesh into the same strong and mighty category, but he is an exception. What’s even rarer for me is to like a main character who is only fifteen for the majority of the story. Yet he is written in such a lovable way I can’t help but sympathize with him and his otherworldly problems.

His mother, Jessica, is also high up on the list of characters I like. Again, it isn’t common for me to love the main “strong female character,” as they typically end up being carbon copies of one another. Jessica, however, is nothing like what I’ve seen before. She is a complex, multifaceted character that can’t possibly be described in just one way or another. She constantly surprised me, and my love for her never waned throughout the story.

As anyone who knows anything about me already has guessed, I couldn’t make a list of my favorite Dune characters without Gurney Halleck: the man to end all other men, the Dune universe love of my life. What can I say? He plays music at random, sometimes inappropriate times throughout the book. He quotes the Bible. He knows how to expertly wield a knife. What is there not to love? Nothing. There is nothing not to love.

  • Compelling story

I genuinely cared what happened, and that’s saying something. What I like most about the story is its constant movement. It isn’t a stagnant plot that leaves me wanting to skim the rest of the book. It keeps moving. There’s plenty of action.

We transition from place to place and character to character, meaning that even if one particular part starts to get a little boring, chances are you’ll be moving on to a more interesting scenario in just a few pages.

  • Point of view

Third person omniscient usually isn’t my favorite point of view from which to read. When the narrator can look into everyone’s thoughts and speak about them all in turn, I typically find that I’m trying to process too much information at once. Oddly, though, I felt it was perfect for this book. I didn’t feel confused but, rather, more connected to each of the characters.

In books with a smaller cast, where just a few characters spend a lot of time together, I find it more beneficial to have learn just one person’s thoughts, either through first person or third person limited. The character whose perspective is used can typically tell who is feeling what, rendering it unnecessary to know everyone’s thoughts.

Fortunately, Dune is not one of those short-character-list books. It has a rather gigantic number of characters the readers needs to pay careful attention to. That makes it perfect for third person omniscient, as it allowed me to learn about each of the important characters through their own thoughts. It also worked to heighten the suspense: having multiple characters feel vaguely guilty will obviously make me want to read more!

So, does Dune live up to the hype? In my opinion, absolutely!

If you’re a fan of fantasy, science fiction themes, action-packed storylines, and complex characters, this is, indeed, the story for you.

Seeing as I just finished its sequel, Dune Messiah, be sure to look out for my review on that one very soon as well!

The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great by Ben Shapiro

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you’re a fan of Western philosophy and religion, boy have I got the book for you! I can honestly say I’ve never read a book that gave me so much to think about in such a succinct manner.

I should begin by telling you I am not a fan of nonfiction books. As in, I actively avoid them at all costs.

As to my reason for picking out this book, I cannot tell you. I guess I’ve been stuck in a bit of a reading rut, going over the same sorts of topics and feeling a little disappointed. Maybe even a little bored.

So I thought, why not spice up my life with a little Ben Shapiro?

And spicy it was, indeed.

I’m not going to review this book in terms of what I do and don’t agree with, as that would only take into account my preexisting feelings and beliefs and none of the writing. That sort of takes away from this kind of review, don’t you think?

So, throwing my personal beliefs out the window for the moment, I want to say that this was just plain a fantastic book!

I could tell right off the bat Shapiro did his research. He cites everything from modern research, to historical documents, to the Bible and the Torah. And he uses them exceedingly well in his argument about the importance of the values of Western civilization that we have lost in modern times.

This book was published last year, making its information extremely relevant to our lives today, maybe even more so than it would have been just one year ago.

My only complaint is that some of the descriptions got lengthy, as in I got a little sleepy. But everything he said had a purpose to it, so I can forgive the slower parts.

“America is struggling right now in a lot of ways. But its largest struggle is the struggle for our national soul. We are so angry at each other right now. That anger is palpable. Where did it come from? It came from the destruction of a common vision.”

— Ben Shapiro

I mean, woah!

Shapiro argues that the West is falling apart because we have lost our common vision, and that is to live under God and worship God, acting in accordance with His will.

While I was aware that Western civilization is not nearly as religious as it used to be, I didn’t exactly consider that might be the root of our problems.

One of the other aspects of this book—besides than the mindblowing revelations about religion and philosophical thought—that I love most is that Shapiro writes simply, but with great purpose.

No sentence is merely a glob of words. It’s a meaningfully constructed entity that makes me look at the world through a new lens. Not on political issues, as I already know where I stand, but on life as a whole. That’s the beauty of a book written about philosophy and religion, even if it is penned by a political figure. It focuses on something greater than our lives right here and right now.

“My father is fond of saying that in life, there aren’t six directions (east, west, north, south, up, and down). There are just two: forward and backward. Are we moving toward something or away from it?”

— Ben Shapiro

This might be one of my favorite quotes of all, because it can mean so many things in so many different contexts.

Think about it: isn’t the whole point of life to move forward, toward something?

I love that thought, though I might not have the slightest idea what that final destination is that I am working my way toward. But what better way is there to live than to look at oneself, one’s actions, one’s beliefs, and ask: am I moving forward?

From a community standpoint, it’s also interesting to think about where society is moving. What are we headed toward in the future? Is it wiser to look to the past for advice, paying careful attention to what has previously been proven successful in western countries, and what shaped us? Or do we disregard where we came from and look in another direction entirely?

“If we fight alongside one another rather than against one another, we are stronger.”

— Ben Shapiro

I tried to find the perfect quote to wrap up this review and, sure enough, there it was!

Can we all agree on this one point? I hope we can all agree on this one point.

Individuality is wonderful. Believe me, I am the biggest proponent of individuality, the poster child of being a loner and doing what I want.

But Shapiro is absolutely right that we are stronger united.

Whether we band together under religion, beliefs, interests, or simply under the fact that we are all human beings, we are stronger together.

May The Unfortunate Events Begin

I recently began reading A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, after watching the Netflix series—I know, I should have read the series first! My bad! As I write this, I have just finished the first three books of the thirteen-installment series, and I absolutely adore them.

I truly can’t believe I’ve waited this long to give these stories a try!

The writing style is just otherworldly. Breaking the fourth wall is always very hit-or-miss with me. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, but other times it’s perfectly genius. The latter is how I felt in this instance.

The narrator, Lemony Snicket, a character who also happens to be the named author of the books, constantly interjects to inform the reader of something they may not know, in the most hilarious of manners. In the third book, one chapter even starts with a warning not to attempt to recreate any of the characters’ actions in real life, due to concerns expressed by his publishers.

Lemony Snicket’s sense of humor is like no other. I can’t get enough of his unique voice.

The use of repetition is hilarious—in most cases, telling us a character’s thoughts, then having them say almost the exact same words out loud.

The humor even holds true in his naming of various locations. For example, there is the Anxious Clown restaurant, which has thrown me into a fit of laughter more than once. Something about the name, combined with the neon lights and overly dull waiter gets to me.

Which leads me to the characters…

We have the most fantastic Baudelaire siblings as main characters.

Aside from the humor, A Series of Unfortunate Events is really a touching story of siblings taking care of one another under the worst of circumstances, which I can’t help but love.

Violet Baudelaire, the oldest daughter, is who I would consider to be a nearly perfect character. Not only is she smart, strong and innovative, but she’s also polite, kind, and feminine. (And no, this is definitely not one of those instances where I like a character because she reminds me of myself. I could only dream of being as classy as Violet!)

She loves inventing, which is not only a unique trait for a girl in a book, but it also comes in handy in the best of ways. If nothing else, I’ve learned this: an inventor is an absolute necessity in an unrealistic storyline.

Violet’s brother Klaus, the middle child, would be best described as a nerd—there’s a character trait I can relate to! Like Violet, he is incredibly smart and very caring, especially toward his sisters. Arguments between the Baudelaires are infrequent, which might seem unrealistic, but since when are these books supposed to represent real life?

Then comes Sunny, the youngest daughter.

I say this in the gentlest way possible: I am not a fan of small children.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sunny is actually sweet and likable as can be. She is important to the story. She’s actually a contributing character, not just a child that has to be lugged around for plot purposes, like what happens to some poor kids in books. She also isn’t portrayed as being a genius—another pet peeve of mine. Sunny is just a kid—a very peculiar kid, but just a kid—and she’s a fantastic addition to the story.

Did I mention Count Olaf aka the Best Villain Ever?

What an absolutely weird and hilarious character! Of course, I won’t spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read the series yet, but he is everything I could hope for in a middle grade story villain.

His disguises? Fabulous.

His theater troupe? Funny as heck.

His commitment to his goals? An inspiration to us all. Really! If he had only focused all that dedication toward a higher goal, he could have done unimaginably horrible things on such a wide scale. He could have devastated the whole country, the entire world, with his schemes.

The Bad Beginning

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I read book one in A Series of Unfortunate Events, I truly thought it could get no better than that. It’s just perfection. One of those books I can truly, wholeheartedly give five stars.

Whenever an author can make me laugh out loud through their writing alone, it’s an automatic win. But making me cry-laugh repeatedly, while simultaneously giving me a story and characters that I truly care about is something I rarely get to experience.

The Reptile Room

Rating: 5 out of 5.

You know what’s rarer than reading one five-star book? Reading two.

And you know what’s even rarer than reading two five star books? Having them come one right after the other, in the same series.

Just when I thought The Bad Beginning must surely be Lemony Snicket’s writing peak, he proved me entirely wrong. Somehow, despite my general aversion to snakes, this snake-centric story drew me in even more. If I could give it five-and-a-half stars, I probably would. Not only did the characters I know and love return, but I got an extra character that I adore. It’s my lucky day!

The Wide Window

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Now, don’t be alarmed when you see I went from five, to five-and-a-half, down to four stars. It isn’t what it appears.

Is The Wide Window a great book? Absolutely.

Yet I can’t help comparing it to its predecessors, which happen to be superior in my mind.

My main problem with this story is the additional character. Unlike The Reptile Room, we got a crappy one this time. The only word I can think of to describe her, though I wish I had a more descriptive one, is irritating.

Despite that, I did really truly enjoy the rest of the book. The story was witty and fit right in line with the previous two. The returning characters were still fantastic. The Baudelaires were as lovable as ever. I want to give them all the biggest hug! And I’m sure I’ll love the rest of the series as soon as I get started on the next installment.

What are your thoughts on the series, either the book or Netflix version?

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“I press the Talk button. “Yes?” I call. Less inviting than Hello, more gracious than Who the hell?”

That’s Anna Fox for you. One of the most lovable main characters I’ve ever met in a thriller/mystery novel.

Her tone is undeniably funny and thoroughly enjoyable despite her unfortunate circumstances. Having agoraphobia, Anna is confined to her home twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, which sounds like it might make for a boring, stagnant story. Yet somehow, it isn’t at all.

Her personality makes up a lot of the intrigue. I continually wanted to hear more about her experiences and her thoughts. There is so much more to Anna than being the means to solve the mystery. She feels genuine, as though she’s a person I could actually meet in real life.

Through her camera lens, through her window, Anna is able to take a peek into her neighbors’ lives, the ups and downs, the big events—and the inexplicably terrible ones.

To be fair, I will say that the beginning of the book—the first hundred pages or so—doesn’t contain a whole lot of action. It drags at some points, but not for too long to make me lose interest. I genuinely liked hearing about Anna’s agoraphobia—a very real condition for so many people—and how it affects her life, how she developed it, and how she copes.

This also puts her in a unique position storytelling-wise, to be able to pay a vastly greater amount of attention to her surroundings—her neighbors and her neighborhood—than the average person. By not leaving her house for work, or to meet friends, or really anything else, we get to learn more about her neighbors than simply the fact that they exist, as happens in so many books.

Not to sound too book-nerdy, but I should also mention that I adore the setup of this book.

Nothing motivates me to read quite like a nice, short chapter, and this novel is chock-full of them. Each day is separated and labeled, and within each day are a number of few-page chapters.

Besides the motivation factor, short chapters allow me to quit reading almost whenever I want and pick up in a sensible location, without finding myself completely lost and having to reread. I probably added on a whole star just because of this.

Along with this concept, I love that the writing is easily understandable. It’s written thoughtfully yet simply, not utilizing unnecessary words for the heck of it.

Now, onto the mystery itself—in a sense, it’s kind of a double mystery.

Disclaimer: I did have a two “reveals” figured out early on, but I don’t know whether it was by chance, or if I’ve just read too many of these stories. Regardless, I still liked finding out that I was right. (It always makes me feel like a genius when I get these things on the first try!)

Now back to the mystery—or mysteries. Single, double, whatever you prefer to call it, it was fantastic.

The best part? It makes total sense.

I completely believe it.

Often times, the plots of mystery novels work out just a little too…perfect. Everything has to line up just right for every premeditated plan to work. But The Woman in the Window is different. It just flows together, so smoothly, so flawlessly. It’s almost spooky how I can picture the events happening in real life.

And no, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep the night after I finished the story.

And I checked the locks on my doors a couple more times than usual.

And my closet.

And under my bed.

And I was a little scared to walk into the dark kitchen.

But it was worth it.

Beyond my personal feelings about what scenes I would shorten up or lengthen, I really only had one issue with the story: the unnecessary sex scene.

Just why? Why, as a society, do we feel a mystery novel is incomplete without a strangely shoehorned intimate moment between characters? It was just awkward to read and, as it turns out, entirely unneeded.

All in all, I’m absolutely a fan of The Woman in the Window and A.J. Finn’s writing style. He gives such a unique voice to Anna that I won’t soon forget.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mysteries, thrillers, relatively simple writing, and nice, short chapters. It was an entirely enjoyable read that kept me wanting more all the way to the end.