My Quarantine Reading List

I see so many posts online from friends asking for new book recommendations, so here’s a list of the books I’ve read in 2020 — I hope you can find something to spark your interest.

I’ve only added the books I’ve enjoyed; no sense in sharing the others. For the full list you can see them on my Goodreads Challenge, both the good and the bad.

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This isn’t a list of my favorite books of all time, although some of them have been added to it (The Inspector Gamache Series!). Maybe that will be my next list.

I hope you can find something interesting and new to read, and remember: supporting authors is not only buying books, but getting them from your library as well. Don’t forget to leave reviews!

Are you on Goodreads? Be my Goodreads Friend.

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Read a good book lately? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Add these to your reading list (and request them at your local library):

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

NPR Books Summer Poll 2020: Kids’ Books

Do you have favorite kids’ books? NPR is taking a poll of books you love for kids, whether they are picture books, a series, or even an adult book that changed a child’s life.

You can vote for up to 5 books, and I’d be so happy if you included The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers!

It’s tough to get noticed as an Indie Author without the budget for promotion like the big publishing houses. This poll, along with a review from your place of purchase and Goodreads, goes a long way in helping me get my books into the eyes of the public. Spend a minute on the poll if you liked The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers.

https://www.npr.org/2020/06/23/872079728/the-npr-summer-reader-poll-returns-tell-us-about-your-favorite-kids-books

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The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

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Thank you for taking the time to read and help me promote my latest book.

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Need a book to read? Check these out:

Death, part 2

Read Death, part 1 here.

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Death was changing into her swim suit in the locker room. She used to swim a lot when she was Alive, but it had been many years since her job had taken her to a pool and she thought she’d get in a few laps while she was there. Not that she needed the exercise — she was a Skeleton, after all. She wouldn’t be able to feel the cool water on her skin or even smell the chlorine. But Death could remember those sensations and the physical act of jumping into a swimming pool was enough to conjure up the memories. 

Her next Name was scheduled to be at the lap swim in half an hour. Death took a final glance at the spreadsheet on her iPad before closing it into the locker with her Cloak and Scythe. Allison Marie Stevens. 72 years. 5’5” tall. Curly, medium-length blonde hair. Blue eyes. Retired. Widowed, 3 adult children. High School Pool. 

Death activated her Powers of Similarity and assumed a similar look to what she imagined Allison Marie Stevens looked like. She glanced in the mirror on her way to the pool and stopped to stare at her new, freshly-wrinkled skin. Vanity still had a strong pull in the Afterlife, and she had half an hour before her appointment, so she reverted to her Image of Self and became the leggy 24-year-old athlete she had been in her former Life. 

Death had lived through the phases of aging like a person of typical lifespan. She had been an athlete most of her life, slowing down as the decades added up until the day came when she could only take gentle walks with her cane. She counted herself lucky that her End arrived before she was totally bedridden, and because of that, didn’t feel guilt for her assignment at the pool.

But still, why not look like a 24 year old in a bathing suit when you have the chance?

Death did a half-turn to check out her butt in the mirror. Looking good, she thought, and gave herself a flirty little wink as she exited the locker room and walked onto the pool deck. She tucked her hair into her cap, adjusted her goggles over her eyes, and dove into an empty middle lane. 

Even though Death technically didn’t have skin and couldn’t feel the temperature of the water, one of her strongest memories was the shock of the cold when she first dove into a pool. She added some goose bumps to her Appearance for a more realistic experience. 

Swimming is a lonely activity for the most part. With her head underwater and staring down at the tiled black line of her lane, Death could only contemplate her Existence. She remembered when she was in high school, conjugating French verbs as she swam to stave off boredom; she didn’t need to do that anymore, having Infinite Knowledge as one of the job perks. Her work took her around the world occasionally and she needed to speak every language, but only when a war or natural disaster overwhelmed the local offices. 

Her mind turned to her next job as she counted off lengths of the pool with her steady freestyle stroke. Allison Marie Stevens was 72 years old. Had she accepted the idea she might die soon? Death recalled a businessman, 96 years old, who fought his End thinking he still had to control his children’s lives and his material empire; he couldn’t imagine how the world could still spin without him. But an End is an End, and everyone’s got one. Since he refused to Pass quietly and take the Leisurely Option of Afterlife, he was assigned to the Bureau of Timetables and Scheduling and now was one of Death’s most reliable subordinates. He never called in sick, and often opted for overtime when asked.

But Allison Marie Stevens? It was time to find out how she would accept her Fate. Death pulled off her goggles and cap and hopped out of the pool. Better for the lifeguard if she took care of work in the locker room. 

As she walked through the door, Death saw only one woman sitting on the bench in front of the lockers, and since it was Time, it had to be her. Normally, Death wouldn’t chat up her assignments but it was a slow day. She retrieved her towel and Scythe and sat down beside Allison Marie Stevens.

“Did you have a nice swim?” the older woman asked Death, who had so enjoyed being in her 24-year-old body that she forgot to resume Similarity. 

No matter. Most older women didn’t have a problem chatting with a younger woman. At a certain age, or with a certain satisfaction of life, jealousies become irrelevant. Allison Marie Stevens gave Death a quick once-over glance, taking in her long legs and youthful shape and perhaps thought momentarily about her own youth, and smiled into her eyes. 

“The water was cold,” Death replied, knowing no such thing. “Are you prepared?” she asked, although she wasn’t sure if she was talking about the swim or the Afterlife.

“I’m always prepared,” Allison Marie Stevens said, holding up a long-sleeved swim shirt. “At my age, dear, I’m ready for anything.”

That was all the answer Death needed, and touched the woman with her Scythe. 

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Again, just a draft, maybe it’ll be a real project soon. I hope you enjoyed reading.

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Need a book to read? Check these out:

One Lonely Wren

The following short story was written for Literary Cleveland; the idea was to gather stories from many different writers about some aspect of a particular day in Cleveland: May 12, 2020. The editors are stitching them all together for one story taking place all around the city. I’ll post the link to the final story when it is available; here is my contribution:

One Lonely Wren

May 12th, 2020 dawned bright and clear in Beachwood, Ohio. A late cold front brought snow and below-average temperatures to all of Northeast Ohio earlier in the month, but the 12th showed promise of being the real first day of spring. The last of the daffodils scattered throughout the yard turned their yellow faces to the sun while an array of bright red, pink, and yellow tulips bloomed, and the old Maples and Oaks began to unfurl their new leaves.

The first bird to greet the day with song was a solitary House Wren, warbling his cheerful tune atop a birdhouse in the garden behind the house. As the day grew brighter and the sun rose, hundreds of avian voices joined him while birds searched for food, mates, or just celebrated a new day. Between the earliness of the hour and the reduced traffic owing to a good proportion of folks still working from home, the varied songs of the birds rose clearly above any ambient city noise and the day promised a certain cheerfulness as the temperature crept up into the 50’s.

Bird migration was in full swing and pairs flew together in and out of the woods to find places to lay their eggs. Most of the birdhouses were occupied by various brown Sparrows and mesmerizingly blue Eastern Bluebirds, who were busily searching the ground for twigs and dead grass to line their nests. The lone Wren sang his long, happy song from several perches in the yard near his chosen house: he sat on the fence and called; he flew to the roof and called; he landed on the back of a pickup truck and called. In between songs, he picked up small twigs and disappeared into his house to build, sometimes carrying a stick so big he spent minutes finding the perfect angle to fit it into the hole. His mate had not arrived yet, but he didn’t give up, he kept up his bubbly song.

Red Northern Cardinals chased each other from feeder to feeder, the males and females easy to distinguish. Red House Finches and startlingly bright Yellow Finches flew in groups, as well as speckled black European Starlings and shimmery Common Grackles. Several orange Baltimore Orioles took turns at their feeder sucking the juice out of orange halves, and Gray Catbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks took their place when the Orioles flew off to the trees. Call and response was heard from dozens of bird species as they prepared their nests in the woods around the house. The House Wren continued to sing alone.

This particular Wren, the only one of his kind in the yard, had been singing non-stop from his birdhouse for a couple of weeks. Would he ever find his mate to share the home he was so busy furnishing? He likely migrated from far south, as Wrens are known to winter as far away as South America and hatch their young anywhere from there to northern Canada. Was he such an efficient flyer that he arrived in the north far ahead of any others, or would he be the only House Wren to pick this part of Cleveland for his home? These worrisome questions didn’t seem to bother him as he went about his routine of building and calling.

As the day turned from a cool morning to a warm afternoon to a chilly evening, the frantic activity of the birds lessened as they flew off to their nesting sites for the night. In the twilight after sunset, one lonely wren still called, never losing hope for his future.

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I hope you enjoyed my story. Maybe it took your mind off the craziness of the world for just a couple moments; if so, that is success. I had a page-long list of things that happened on May 12 that I could have written about, but most were kinda depressing. Focusing on nature (and staying off social media) helps keep me sane.

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Although I still haven’t been recalled to work, I have not been writing much. In fact, almost not at all. My days have been spent working in the gardens (pulling weeds, mostly) and hiking in various parks with Lucy while taking pictures of anything interesting. You can see some of my wildlife photos on the Wildlife and Flower Photography FB page and my Etsy shop.

Stay safe and sane, and thanks for reading.

Need a book to read? Check these out:

  • Wandering – non-fiction travel/adventure/humor
The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

Free eBook for your quarantine – The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers
The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

This week, get a free download of The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers – maybe it’ll keep your kids entertained for a couple days.

Lucy and Matthew, along with their old black lab Harley, are reluctantly doing yard work on a beautiful spring morning when — whoosh! — all three are whisked away to a strange land filled with mysterious rainbow-colored flowers. 

With no sign of civilization, they must fight for their survival amongst wild animals and discover the reason why they were transported. 

Growing up with video games and shopping malls, will the children be able to survive by finding food and building fires while stranded alone? Will the rainbow flowers lead them on a path to safety or harm? Why were they taken from their safe home to that strange place?

Find out the answers as you follow two kids and a frisky dog on a journey of discovery and wonder, hardship and environmental disaster. See how they help make their world a better place to live.

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

This is a great book for kids who love adventure and the outdoors, with a healthy message. It’s also a fun read for young adults and adults!

Download it today from Amazon to be certain you get a free copy! It’s also free to read with Kindle Unlimited.

This is a great chance to get some extra reading time – be sure to check out other Indie Authors, and support them by leaving reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Every review helps!

Thank you for reading, and please take care of yourselves and your neighbors.

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

Enter the book giveaway for The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

Enter the book giveaway for The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

In celebration of my newest book, I’m having a giveaway for The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers! To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post – it’s that easy! For those readers in the United States, I’ll send you a paperback; for those in other countries I’ll send the electronic version of your choice.

In a few days I’ll randomly pick 10 winners. Leave a comment and enter!

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers is a Young Adult book, but I think people of any age will enjoy it. Here’s a summary for you:

Lucy and Matthew, along with their old black lab Harley, are reluctantly doing yard work on a beautiful spring morning when — whoosh! — all three are whisked away to a strange land filled with mysterious rainbow-colored flowers.

With no sign of civilization, they must fight for their survival amongst wild animals and discover the reason why they were transported.Growing up with video games and shopping malls, will the children be able to survive by finding food and building fires while stranded alone? Will the rainbow flowers lead them on a path to safety or harm? Why were they taken from their safe home to that strange place?

Find out the answers as you follow two kids and a frisky dog on a journey of discovery and wonder, hardship and environmental disaster. See how they help make their world a better place to live.

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

As always, I’d love a review on Amazon or Goodreads! With so many books out there, the ones with reviews are the ones that get noticed. Please take a moment to write a sentence or two, it means a lot.

Thank you, and happy reading!

Other books to check out:

Wandering – non-fiction travel/adventure/humor

Sylvie Writes a Romance – romantic comedy

Sylvie Falls in Love – romantic comedy part 2

Surfer, Sailor, Smuggler – adventure/ocean fiction based on true stories