Summer Reading Challenge – July 2nd Update

Note: I received an ARC copy of Paranormia from the publisher. All opinions expressed are completely my own, and I received no monetary compensation in exchange for featuring it on my blog. As always, I’d never recommend a book to my readers that I didn’t genuinely enjoy reading myself!

We’re doing a reading challenge here at Teish Knits this summer, and it’s not too late to join in! You can download the challenge prompt list and bookmarks here. This is a strictly fun, no pressure challenge, so you can interpret the prompts as broadly as you like, and choose to do fewer of them if reading 13 books this summer seems too overwhelming. Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my own progress here on the blog, and I hope you’ll stop by and comment either on the blog or social media and let me know what you’re reading!

A book with a pretty cover.

I had no idea what book might fill this prompt when I added it to the Summer Reading Challenge list, but as soon as I saw the cover to Paul Regnier’s Paranormia, I knew this book was it! Urban fantasy is not a genre that I tend to read, but given how much I enjoyed Paul’s Space Drifters series, I was willing to give it a try.

Paranormia has a blend of humor and drama that kept me turning pages to the very end. I had to find out what happened to Chris! My favorite character was Finchelus, but since I don’t want to give anything away, you’ll need to read the book to figure out why. Themes of spiritual battles can be hard to write well. While the humor kept the story from getting too dark, it did make me think a bit about what might be going on outside of what we see in our day to day lives. It also brought home how we never know the effects of some of the seemingly-small things that we do.

A classic you haven’t read, but always wanted to.

I watched the BBC’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy adaptation when I was a kid. I watched the movie version when it came out years later, but never actually read any of the books. It might be a bit of a stretch to call The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a classic, given that it was published in the 70s. We’re allowed to interpret the prompts for the reading challenge broadly, so I’m going with it!

I found reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to be somewhat random and disconnected. Typically, this would be the sort of thing that would make me stop reading a book, but it was done in such a way that it was amusing and I wanted to keep reading to find out how, or even if the dots connected in the end. Arthur Dent asking whether there’s any tea on the spaceship is still my favorite quote! (Though 42 is a close second.) I’m not sure yet whether I’ll read the rest of the books in the series.

So, what has everyone else read this week? Let me know in the comments, or on social media!

Summer Reading Challenge – June 25th Update

We’re doing a reading challenge here at Teish Knits this summer, and it’s not too late to join in! You can download the challenge prompt list and bookmarks here. This is a strictly fun, no pressure challenge, so you can interpret the prompts as broadly as you like, and choose to do fewer of them if reading 13 books this summer seems too overwhelming. Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my own progress here on the blog, and I hope you’ll stop by and comment either on the blog or social media and let me know what you’re reading!

A newly-released book

Guess what book came out last week! I’ve been waiting for Shattered Honor to release since it was announced, and it didn’t take me long to finish reading the third book in the Shadows of War series by Anne Wheeler. (This book is the reason I included the newly-released prompt in the reading challenge!)

If you have not read the first two books in the series, go read them first. This is definitely a series that I recommend reading in order. I loved the flip in perspective in Shattered Honor, because it gave me a fuller picture of the story. As they say, history is written by the winning side, and I think it’s interesting to read a series that explores both sides of a conflict in this way. I wasn’t sure what I’d think about a book that didn’t feature Avery as the main character like the first two books, but I quickly became absorbed in the stories of the characters who took starring roles in this one. (I may have cried a bit at the end. You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out why, because I’m not giving away any spoilers!)

I’d classify Shattered Honor as fairly clean adult space opera. Because the characters are dealing with war, espionage, being captured by the enemy, and such, there are some heavy themes. Some characters are interrogated and treated horribly in the course of this. I would not say that there is any overly graphic violence in the books, but these are disturbing topics, and they should be. The level to which it was discussed was appropriate to the story. I’d tend to say that it’s fine for older teens based on things that I read as an older teen, but as always, I recommend reading the book for yourself before deciding whether it’s appropriate for your teen.

I’ve nearly finished reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I’ll be discussing that book, and Paul Regnier’s Paranormia next week. Let me know what you’re reading, and don’t forget to stop by again next Tuesday for another update!

Summer Reading Challenge – June 18th Update

We’re doing a reading challenge here at Teish Knits this summer, and it’s not too late to join in! You can download the challenge prompt list and bookmarks here. This is a strictly fun, no pressure challenge, so you can interpret the prompts as broadly as you like, and choose to do fewer of them if reading 13 books this summer seems too overwhelming. Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my own progress here on the blog, and I hope you’ll stop by and comment either on the blog or social media and let me know what you’re reading!

A book related to your career or goals.

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson is one of those books that I read a number of years ago, but never really tried out the advice. (I’m not the only one who does that, right?) I found myself needing to outline the novella that I’m writing for Camp NaNo next month, and I decided to read through the book again and give it a try. I’ve read the Oxygen series that Randy co-authored and enjoyed the writing style, so I decided to give his Snowflake Method a try.

Two great things about this book is that it’s short and it’s not boring! Sometimes practical books are long, and hard to stick with. How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method isn’t a regular how-to book, it’s a how-to book written as a story. The story itself was creative and interesting enough to keep me engaged. Since the story is set at a writing conference where the main character is learning the method herself, it almost felt like I was sitting in on a class. The format didn’t just give me the principles, it also demonstrated a new writer, like myself, applying them to her own writing. The end of the book has a nice summary of the method so that you don’t have to go back through the book to remember the instructions for each step of the process.

I’ve been working through the method for the story I’m writing next month, and I can already see how this method has helped me get a stronger plot and stronger characters in place, even before I start writing. I’m excited to see what writing the story using this instead of my usual index card or traditional outline will be like! While there’s no method that’s just right for everyone, the Snowflake Method is worth checking out.

I’m also nearly finished reading Paul Reigner’s Paranormia, and I’ll be sharing about that in my Tuesday update once it releases!

The Hopes Unfulfilled

Four years ago my heart broke on Father’s Day. Having a parent deliberately cut ties with you is crushing, but when it’s your dad making that choice on Father’s Day of all days… There are some wounds that I’m not sure ever completely heal this side of Heaven, and this may be one of them.

Time is funny. In this case, four years feels like an entire lifetime. These past four years have been filled with some of the hardest battles of my life. I’ve faced difficult truths, made hard decisions, and seen parts of my past with more clarity than ever before. All of those are good things, but hard-won. I heard someone say once, “Feelings buried alive never die.” I’d buried a staggering number of them, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath of years of unhealthy coping mechanisms. It takes time—maybe the rest of my life.

It’s tempting to hate the people who’ve hurt you. I seem to be particularly prone to this sin, and I have to keep taking it back to the cross. In this situation, God has given me a rather interesting thing to combat the hate I’m tempted to harbor: science fiction.

Nope, I haven’t finally lost it, I promise! I used to watch Star Trek re-runs with my dad on a regular basis. Saturday nights were the nights when we gathered in the living room to watch Doctor Who on the local PBS station. I loved those shows as much as my dad. Memories of sitting on the couch with him and watching Star Trek are one of the good memories that I still count as precious.

It wasn’t only science fiction TV though. My dad let me read his Flying and Air and Space magazines. We watched documentaries on aviation and spaceflight together. He bought me the telescope that I still use to gaze at the stars and dream. He’s one of the few people who never insinuated that it was strange for a girl to love airplanes, spacecraft, and astronomy. He’s the reason I had subscriptions to Astronomy and Aviation History in high school. When Aaron took me to the Air and Space museum on our honeymoon, I was in awe of the famous aircraft because my dad told me about them and the stories behind them when I was a kid.

I love all of those things, and I write science fiction today because of my dad. For all of the hard that came out of that relationship, this is one thing that came out of it that I will never, never regret. It’s a part of who I am that is meaningful to me, and it’s something that my dad encouraged, even when people said, “But you’re a girl!” I will always be grateful to my dad for the gift of science fiction, and for being one of the few people in my growing up years who understood just how much the sky and the stars called to me. Because of how much these things mean to me, and because of how much of it I owe to my dad, I can’t completely hate him. I hate some of the things he did to me, to my sister, and to our mom. And yet… I am thankful for the gift of science fiction that he gave me.

Officially, I write science fiction because I love the stars, and I love the genre that allows us to explore deep and complicated things in a way that makes them seem less scary and threatening. Science fiction is an amazing genre with the potential to impact people in a very personal way. Unofficially, I write science fiction because it redeems part of a childhood made up of scary and difficult things. No writer exists who doesn’t owe thanks to the people who have made it possible for them to be a writer. I’ve got my own very long list of people who have encouraged, inspired, and taught me along the way. My dad’s on that list too because he sparked the interest in so many of the things that have made me a science fiction writer.

I think the hardest thing about healing for me has been trying to reconcile the good and bad in the relationship. Nothing turned out the way I expected when I was younger. In some ways that’s a very good thing, but in other ways it’s so very hard. Letting go of what I thought would be is not easy, and it’s weird to grieve the loss of someone still living. I always hoped for that movie moment like at the end of Star Trek IV where Sarek and Spock reconcile at least some of their differences. I wanted that moment, and I really believed that if I could be something enough, I’d get it. Reality doesn’t always work out so well as in the movies, and I had to make peace with the truth of that. Recently though, a quote from Tolkien that I always associated with my mom seems like it might apply to my dad too.

“There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Whether on this side of eternity or the next, God may yet have a miracle in store. For now, there’s something very dear to me in my life because of my dad. In the end, maybe God redeems more things than I ever dreamed He could.

Shattered Honor Blog Tour!

I discovered Anne Wheeler’s books through a speculative fiction writer’s group that I’m part of, and I’m so excited that I get to be part of the blog tour for the release of her third book, Shattered Honor!

Anne was kind enough to offer a little sneak peek at an excerpt for my readers:

It was strange how many people thought the desert was always hot. Windhaven, closer to the Haederan equator than even his thin blood would prefer, was cold in the winter, especially at night. Especially after . . . Well, wasn’t that why he was home? To forget what had happened? Forgetting apparently wasn’t as easy as it used to be, since he’d been watching the sun rise above the faraway mountains for more than an hour now, unable to sleep. The only thing he’d forgotten over the past years was who he really was.

If the glass running from the floor all the way to the flat roof had been thinner, he might have heard the goldcrests perched in the cacti on the other side. Four more alighted on the arm of one giant cactus to peck at it as he leaned his forehead against the window to watch. They would kill the plant sooner or later, but they meant no harm. They just didn’t know any better. How could they? Maybe if he reached a hand out, he could touch their feathers through the glass . . . take some of their innocence for himself.

“Hello there,” he said to the fat one sitting closest to him. The gold-feathered wren chirped silently, accusingly, then flew off in its never-ending search for water. Like it knew what kind of man was speaking to it. Like it saw all the things he’d done. Things he couldn’t think about now. His misplaced loyalties. The blood on his hands. He couldn’t blame the bird for staying away, just like he couldn’t blame the Holy One for deserting him.

Shattered Honor

Space opera will always be my first love when it comes to science fiction, and Anne has done a wonderful job with this series. I was interested as soon as I found out there was a princess who is also a pilot in the books. Asrian Skies did not disappoint, and neither did the sequel, Unbroken Fire. I can’t wait to dive into Shattered Honor, and I’ve already pre-ordered it so I can start reading on release day, which is June 18th. This is the book I’m reading for the “newly released” prompt in the Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge, and I actually included that prompt with Shattered Honor in mind!

Do you know what’s even better than a summer book release from one of your favorite authors? A giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks Anne for sharing an excerpt and the giveaway with the Teish Knits readers! Anyone that hasn’t read the first two books yet still has time to binge read them this weekend so you can dive right into Shattered Honor with me on June 18th!

Summer Reading Challenge – June 11th Update

We’re doing a reading challenge here at Teish Knits this summer, and it’s not too late to join in! You can download the challenge prompt list and bookmarks here. This is a strictly fun, no pressure challenge, so you can interpret the prompts as broadly as you like, and choose to do fewer of them if reading 13 books this summer seems too overwhelming. Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my own progress here on the blog, and I hope you’ll stop by and comment either on the blog or social media and let me know what you’re reading!

A memoir or biography

I read The Sky Below by Scott Parazynski with Susy Flory for this reading prompt. If you can read the Kindle version on a color screen tablet, then go with the Kindle version. I’ve never read a book with embedded video, and it blew my mind when I watched a shuttle launch in the middle of a chapter!

The book itself is a fascinating look at a truly accomplished individual. I was only a few chapters into the book when I observed to my husband, “Reading this makes me realize that I’m the most boring person on Earth.” Seriously though, Scott Parazynski’s career is impressive on its own, but add to that the other fantastic experiences he’s had, and it makes for a book that I couldn’t put down. The last few words will stick with me for quite some time:

The summits and calderas and skywalks and other bold life challenges are out there, waiting for you to dust off your dream. Everything is possible until proven impossible, and then you just need to become more creative. The sky is not the limit. And it never will be.

Scott Parazynski

The Sky Below would absolutely appeal to anyone who enjoys reading astronaut memoirs, but I think it would appeal to a wider audience as well. Readers interested in mountain climbing would likely enjoy the read, given how much of that is included in the book. It’s a good length, and held my interest from start to finish. The kindle in motion version is a must though! You don’t want to miss the videos!

I’m currently reading the book that will check the box for the book with a pretty cover prompt, but since it’s an ARC for a book that will be releasing later this month, I’m not going to say more… yet. It’s definitely outside of my usual genre choice for reading, but it’s also by an author who’s books I’ve always enjoyed. I have to admit, I’m rather enjoying the ride! I’ll share more about it once the book releases, so keep following along on my Tuesday reading challenge updates!

What about you? What are you reading this week?

Between Remembered and Forgotten

I’m taking part in the Penprints Flash Fiction Dash! My prompt was to write a cyberpunk flash fiction story based on the song Arrow by Half Alive.

Tag Stanford splashed cold water on his face and stared at the reflection in the tiny mirror. Lack of sleep left dark purple marks under his bloodshot eyes. His calf muscles ached, and his left knee screamed in protest at the extended run he’d taken after his shift at work. Too bad it hadn’t exhausted him enough to let him slip into a dreamless sleep for a change.

He dragged on some decent-looking clothes and stuck a dented metal mug under the drink dispenser. He had to hit the panel twice to get a full cup of coffee out of the stupid thing. He’d have to save up for a new one later. Gulping the lukewarm brew, Tag picked up the note from his employer and read it again. Phrases like, “negatively impacting productivity” and “strongly suggest professional treatment” screamed at him. Employers couldn’t legally mandate any kind of medical treatment, but they could fire him if they determined that his productivity was on a downward spiral. He downed the dregs of what passed for coffee and stuck the mug in the sterilizer. It was hard to be productive when the nightmares started every time you closed your eyes.

A quiet ping from the band on his wrist drew his attention and the reminder scrolled across the tiny screen.

“Appointment at New Mind Clinic in 1 Hour”

Dr. Ataca assured Tag that he’d come through the exact same procedure once before with no problems. Tag couldn’t remember the previous treatment, but then that was sort of the point. Remove those troublesome memories and the memory of the treatment and then just go along with your life like it never happened. The mind is a funny thing though, and the doctor told him that in rare cases the brain starts to remember trauma in the form of nightmares and inexplicable anxiety. Tag could attest to that. A second treatment would take care of any residual memories. He would go the the clinic this evening, then wake up in his apartment tomorrow morning and go to work. He’d sleep through the night again. He gathered up the note from work and the brochure from New Mind Clinic and stuffed them into his pocket. It wouldn’t do to leave those here where he’d find them tomorrow.

The door locked clicked behind him and his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Leisha poked her head out the door to wave. He waved and smiled back, trying not to think about her opinions on the memory erasure treatment. She likened it to the lobotomies her grandmother talked about. Tag looked that up on the internet once and immediately wished that he hadn’t. He got a headache every time he envisioned an ice pick being shoved in his brain. Thankfully, the dark ages of medical care were over.

Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

Tag walked the short distance from his apartment building to the mag train. It was only drizzling a bit, so he didn’t bother flipping the hood of his jacket over his head. The crowds waiting at the stop were typical for a Tuesday evening. Most of them were checking messages, ordering take-out, or watching the news on their wristbands. Tag couldn’t focus enough to do anything these days. He would be glad to get this over with; being stuck between remembering and forgetting was the worst place to be.

It wasn’t a long ride to the stop near the clinic. As soon as he finished checking in at the front desk, a medical assistant took him back to a treatment room and handed him a pair of scrubs.

“Just change into these Mr. Stanford and I’ll be back in a few minutes with Dr. Ataca.”

Tag left his street clothes in a neat stack on a chair in the corner and sat on the exam table, studying the pattern of the flooring until the short knock before the door opened.

“How are you doing this morning, Tag?” Dr. Ataca put a hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eye.

He rubbed his sweaty palms on the thin scrubs. “Little nervous. Are you sure this second procedure will take care of everything?”

She patted his shoulder. “Of course it will. I’ve been doing this a long time, and we have every reason to be confident that after this treatment, you’ll never have these dreams or memories again. Don’t worry, you’re in good hands!”

Dr. Ataca nodded to the med assistant as Tag settled back on the table. A micro-needle anesthetic patch was applied to his wrist and bio-monitor patches on his chest and forehead. His eyes drifted closed when the drug finally hit his bloodstream. This would all be over soon, and he’d never have to come back to the clinic again.


“Is he out?” Dr. Ataca asked.

The med assistant checked the bio-monitor readouts and nodded, “All ready to begin.”

“Good.” She stepped closer to the table and began inputting the parameters for Tag’s memory erasure treatment. “Be sure to make a note in his chart that he needs to be referred every eight months. If his Primary Med Provider’s office hadn’t messed up the scheduling, he’d never have gotten to the point where the memories resurfaced at all. Thank goodness his employer’s HR department picked up on what was going on before it got worse.”

“I’ve set up a reminder to ping his PMP’s office in 8 months if they haven’t referred him yet. Is this really the 16th treatment he’s had?” The med assistant looked up in surprise.

Dr. Ataca nodded, “Yes, Tag was one of our first patients here at the clinic.”

“And he has no idea that he’s been your patient for more than a decade?”

“No, and if we all do our jobs right, none of them ever know.”

Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge

I love books! I wish I could read all of the books, the cool books anyway. Life is too short to read boring books that you don’t like, at least once you’re out of school. The fun thing about reading challenges is that I have to hunt for books to fit the challenge prompts, and this often reminds me of books that have been in my TBR list for way too long. Also, I’m a little bit obsessed with checking things off on a list.

I thought that it would be fun to do a Teish Knits Reading Challenge this summer on the blog! You can download a pdf of the list here. I’ve also created some fun bookmarks with lines for keeping track of the books that you’ve read for the challenge! You can download the bookmarks here. Since there are 13 weeks in June through August, I included 13 prompts for choosing books. I want this to be a no-stress challenge though. If a book a week sounds like more than your schedule can handle, then pick a number of books that you want to read over the summer and highlight that many prompts on the list any only do those.

I picked ideas for the Teish Knits Reading Challenge that can be broadly interpreted. For example, a book about health can be related to any kind of health topic, or even a fiction book featuring a healthcare setting or character. The book related to your career or goals might be a non-fiction book on the topic, or it could be a novel where the main character has the same kind of career or goals that you do. I’m planning to try for a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but you could interpret the prompts to best fit the kind of books you like to read.

Given that this July is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, I had to include a prompt for a book related to astronomy or space exploration. There are so many wonderful books about the people involved in space exploration, but you could pick something focused on the science, or even science fiction if you prefer. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and Hidden Figures are both wonderful non-fiction choices that would fit this prompt if you’d need an idea!

I also included an audiobook, paper book, and e-book in the list. I like all three formats, but sometimes I end up sort of stuck in a format rut. I wanted to remind myself to enjoy books across all three formats this summer.

Of course, I had to include a favorite that you want to re-read. Mom used to say that she was going to quit buying me books for my birthday and Christmas because I always had the stack read within a week or two. I was horrified at the thought and pointed out that since I re-read books, it was hardly a waste of money. Re-reading my favorite books is like comfort food.

Instead of my usual Thoughts for Tuesday posts this summer, I’ll do a Reading Challenge Update each Tuesday. I’ll share which book I’m reading, thoughts on ones I’ve finished, and maybe chat about some of the books I’ll be reading next. I hope you’ll join in with the Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge. Let me know what books you’re reading, and what you think of them throughout the summer! You can comment on the blog, or on my Facebook or Instagram pages. I’ll have weekly Reading Challenge Update posts on both platforms where we can talk about what we’re reading this summer!

Don’t forget to download your Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge list, so you’re all ready to go!

Why Not?

This morning the kids asked me if they could stack up some of the wood pallets our coal is delivered on to use them for a picnic table. In a fit of insanity, I thought, “We could do better than that.” While rummaging around for solid wood to use as table legs, we came across the pieces from an old bed frame. The headboard seemed just about perfect for a table top.

We dragged the pieces outside along with my tool box and my IT staff’s circular saw. Measuring, cutting, building, improvising when plans A through C didn’t go exactly as expected… It was actually a fun project! It is by no means perfect. A real carpenter would cringe at my MacGyver’d table, but I’ve never let that stop me from attempting a project in the past.

It’s not pressure treated wood, or a composite, so we’ll need some outdoor paint to seal it. I told the kids that they can paint it themselves, which will be interesting since only one of them has any experience helping me paint furniture. Since a wonky paint job isn’t exactly going to make the table worse, I figured it was a good practice project.

I’m more likely to say, “Why?” than “Why not?” when the kids come up with a project idea. I’m trying to change that to some degree. Admittedly, sometimes the projects crash and burn. (In the case of a science experiment in the microwave, the burning can be literal.) There are times that the projects turn out fantastic, and then there are times like today when the project isn’t quite fantastic, but it’s still cool. It may have been in a fit of insanity, but I’m glad that my response today was, “Why not?”

Thoughts for Tuesday on Wednesday, May 29th

Outside my windows… it’s cloudy and cold. The lawn is growing nicely, but I’m not sure if it’s still too cold to be planting outside in my flower beds.

Inside my house… the seedlings I started this spring are not exactly thriving. some of them gave up before sprouting. I may have to go visit the greenhouse at some point.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful that my kiddos enjoy being outside and exploring nature!

Prayers of the heart… for the busy summer coming; that we’ll be able to fit in everything we need to and let go of the rest.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… Munchkin is trying out my favorite baked mac&cheese recipe, while her brothers are playing a new board game that Grandma introduced us to!

From my playlist… Catchy Song from the LEGO Movie 2. My kids have mixed feelings about this.

From my reading list… I’m actually thinking about which books I want to read for the Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge! Post about that coming next week, so don’t miss it! (Get a sneak peek at the printables by clicking on the Downloads tab in the main menu.)

From my needlework basket… I’m knitting the hood of my hooded sweater. Once that’s done I’ll just have the sleeves left to do. I’m still undecided about whether I’ll knit them on double-point needles or circular needles.

In the learning room… the kiddos have finished up more subjects for the year, so they are enjoying a little extra free time. They’re hoping for better weather soon!

Random ramblings… Tuesday this week was a little crazy. Thoughts for Tuesday posts are going away for the summer, so I wanted to do one last post in the series, even if it’s very, very late!

Profound ponderings… “I am and always will be–the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes. The dreamer of improbable dreams.” — Quote from Doctor Who

Caught on film…