Writing Prompt #251: “50 Masterpieces You Have to Read Before You Die, Volume 1” (Book 1 – “Little Women”)

Image Credit: Amazon

Welcome back!


The first book on the list was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Originally, I was excited. The first and last time I read Little Women was for one of my first presentations / projects in Mr. Degnan’s ninth grade English class, circa fall 2003.

However, now, I don’t quite understand how I remember enjoying Little Women back then. This was a tough read, even with the illustrated version! Nothing against Alcott, but the writing style threw me off almost immediately. I got through the first 60 pages, and found myself setting it aside. I picked it up again, and slowly made my way to the end. But it was painful.

I do enjoy the relationships among the March women, especially during the time period of the Civil War. They all miss their father. But, they also enjoy their lives as best they can. It was fun to watch these girls become “little women” over time. As an only child, this book made think of what it would be like to be in a bigger family.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Kimberly and I are ready to move on to Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.


Have you read Little Women?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #243: Eighteenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Good Housekeeping

Welcome back!

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

  1. Alcott, Louisa May, Little Women: The Original, Classic Novel (Illustrated, Unabridged) — Writing prompt post coming soon!
  2. Atkinson, Deanna, Be Still and Know: A Month of Meditation — Review coming soon!
  3. Elliott, T.E., Loved By The Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
  4. Harr, Jonathan, A Civil Action *Re-Read* — Review coming soon!
  5. Hertz, Kellen, Courtney Changes The Game
  6. Hertz, Kellen, Courtney: Friendship Superhero
  7. Kotb, Hoda, This Just Speaks to Me: Words to Live By Every Day — Review coming soon!

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. Rose, Rebecca, Love, Politics, and Survival: A Whitefield Family Narrative Book One

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

  1. Hakesley, Faith, Glimmers of Grace: Moments of Peace and Healing Following Sexual Abuse
  2. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  3. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give

Adding to the TBR

  1. Johnson, Maureen, Truly Devious: A Mystery
  2. Rosen, L.C., Camp

So, my current TBR is five (5) books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 

Writing Prompt #250: “50 Masterpieces You Have to Read Before You Die, Volume 1” (Introduction Post)

Image Credit: Amazon

I’ve partnered with a friend, Kimberly, from a great Facebook group called The Book Drunkard, to read through Volumes 1 and 2!

The goal is to explore as many books as possible – I’m excited!


Here’s the list of the first 50 books:

Alcott, Louisa May: Little Women

Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice

Austen, Jane: Emma

Balzac, Honoré de: Father Goriot

Barbusse, Henri: The Inferno

Brontë, Anne: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre

Brontë, Emily: Wuthering Heights

Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Tarzan of the Apes

Butler, Samuel: The Way of All Flesh

Carroll, Lewis: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Cather, Willa: My Ántonia

Cervantes, Miguel de: Don Quixote

Chopin, Kate: The Awakening

Cleland, John: Fanny Hill

Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone

Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness

Conrad, Joseph: Nostromo

Cooper, James Fenimore: The Last of the Mohicans

Crane, Stephen: The Red Badge of Courage

Cummings, E. E.: The Enormous Room

Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe

Defoe, Daniel: Moll Flanders

Dickens, Charles: Bleak House

Dickens, Charles: Great Expectations

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor: Crime and Punishment

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor: The Idiot

Doyle, Arthur Conan: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Dreiser, Theodore: Sister Carrie

Dumas, Alexandre: The Three Musketeers

Dumas, Alexandre: The Count of Monte Cristo

Eliot, George: Middlemarch

Fielding, Henry: Tom Jones

Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary

Flaubert, Gustave: Sentimental Education

Ford, Ford Madox: The Good Soldier

Forster, E. M.: A Room With a View

Forster, E. M.: Howards End

Gaskell, Elizabeth: North and South

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von: The Sorrows of Young Werther

Gogol, Nikolai: Dead Souls

Gorky, Maxim: The Mother

Haggard, H. Rider: King Solomon’s Mines

Hardy, Thomas: Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter

Homer: The Odyssey

Hugo, Victor: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hugo, Victor: Les Misérables

Huxley, Aldous: Crome Yellow

James, Henry: The Portrait of a Lady

Keep an eye out for new Writing Prompt posts as I read through these books!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #94: “Courtney: Friendship Superhero”

I wasn’t surprised at all when I powered through Courtney’s second book on Monday night before bed.

This book opens in the last few days of school of the 1985-1986 school year. The Hands Across America event is held, raising money for hunger and homelessness.

Courtney goes to the arcade, and continuing to work on her Crystal Starshooter character and levels of her video game. She meets a new friend, Isaac. He’s an even better video game player. Courtney eventually learns he’s also a talented artist.

As she navigates the waters of family and friendship, Courtney learns that Issac has an illness called HIV. Requests for privacy turn into anger about keeping secrets. Courtney feels like her friendship with Sarah, her best friend, is falling apart.

This book expertly navigated the fears of HIV and AIDS in 1986. I immediately drew parallels between Isaac and Ryan White, a teenager in Indiana who contracted HIV in 1984 through contaminated clotting factor that he received for hemophilia.

Courtney learns several lessons about true friendship along the way, even though she gets entrenched in the fight over Isaac and the local residents wanting to keep him out of school. How awful that these families and children faced such horrible discrimination, just like Ryan White and his family did.

The fun part of the story is when Courtney discovers the first Pleasant Company catalog, and falls in love with Molly McIntire!

I’m not sure if there will be more Courtney books, because American Girl revamped their book line several years ago. They changed the original six-book format to two longer books. This one covers the summer, fall, and winter of 1986.

However, I’m inspired to re-read Ryan White’s autobiography, Ryan White: My Own Story, and learn more about the 1980s. I was born in 1988, so I’ve always been intrigued by events that happened around the time I was born, and things that happened before I started forming core memories.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #93: “Courtney Changes The Game”

I don’t normally order items from American Girl directly, but they were offering a pretty sweet deal for the Valentine’s Day / President’s Day weekend – 3X the rewards points!

The newest historical character is Courtney Moore, who lives in Orange Valley, California in 1986. I’ve always been fascinated with 20th century history, so I knew I wanted to get her books! Courtney’s character was released in September 2020.

I ended getting the doll practically brand-new from the amazing American Girl Obsessed BST group on Facebook, and I also bought a few outfits and accessories with this purchase!


The AG historical books are typically shorter, as they are designed for readers 8+. Courtney Changes The Game rounds out at 120 pages. I was not surprised that I powered through the entire book on Saturday night before bed.

Courtney loves video games, especially PAC-MAN. She’s also adjusting to being part of a blended family – Her mom remarried Mike, and Tina is her 13-year-old stepsister. They also share a younger half-brother, two-year-old Rafi. Her dad just took a new job, and is moving several hours away. There’s a lot of personal upheaval in Courtney’s life, especially because Tina has quite the on/off switch. Sometimes, she’s happy and dances with Courtney to MTV, and other times, she’s really angry and sad.

The other big news is that her mom has decided to run for mayor!

As Courtney ponders her school project, creating her own video game, her class and school are all abuzz because of the upcoming launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, and the first-ever Teacher in Space, Christa McAuliffe!

This was a great opening book. It had me hooked the whole time – I couldn’t put it down, even when I started feeling tired during Chapter 5.

Up next, her second book – Courtney: Friendship Superhero. If this book is nearly as good as the first, expect that Book Review to be here on the blog by the end of the week!

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #92: “Loved By The Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast”

I received my copy of this book for free from the author. I’m excited to read more from her!

This is Elliott’s debut novel, but you wouldn’t know it. She immerses you in early 18th century France instantly. The hardest part for me was not picturing the movies!

I loved Lea and Audric. I also appreciated Elliott weaving in their families, and their elaborate histories. It was so charming and special, like I was dropped into an actual history book and enveloped in a warm embrace the entire time. I had a really hard time putting it down. It took me a long time to finish it, but every single chapter kept me wanting to read the next one.

Even better, Loved by the Beast is the first in a trilogy called The Beast’s Legacy. I’m looking forward to reading Book 2, Service and Slumber: A Historical Tale Inspired by Sleeping Beauty very soon. The third book, A Gentle Pursuit, is slated to be published soon.


Have you read any historical retellings?

Do you enjoy fairy tales?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #236: Seventeenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Mommy and the Books

Welcome back!


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

  1. King, Stephen, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft *Re-Read*

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. Weilert, Benjamin M., Buried Colony (ARC)
  2. Westover, Tara, Educated
  3. Whitehead, Colson, The Underground Railroad *Re-Read*
  4. Whitehead, Colson, The Nickel Boys

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

  1. Harr, Jonathan, A Civil Action *Re-Read*
  2. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  3. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give

Adding to the TBR

  1. Atkinson, Deanna, Be Still and Know: A Month of Meditation
  2. Hakesley, Faith, Glimmers of Grace: Moments of Peace and Healing Following Sexual Abuse
  3. Kotb, Hoda, This Just Speaks to Me: Words to Live By Every Day
  4. Rose, Rebecca, Love, Politics, and Survival: A Whitefield Family Narrative Book One

So, my current TBR is seven (7) books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #232: My Favorite Things of 2020

Image Credit: Quote Master

So, before starting the lists of favorites, here’s my tally for books and Book Reviews for 2020:


Now, on to my favorites!

Favorite Books

Favorite Movies

  • 13th (Netflix)
  • Knives Out
  • Onward (This was the last movie we saw in theaters before COVID-19 took hold!)
  • Soul (Disney+)
  • Spotlight (Netflix)
  • The Vast of Night (Amazon Prime Video)

Favorite TV Shows

  • Forensic Files (Netflix)
  • Hoarders (YouTube)
  • How to Fix a Drug Scandal (Netflix)
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – Seasons 7 – 8 (Hulu)
  • McMillions (HBO Max)
  • Murder on Middle Beach (HBO Max)
  • Stargirl (The CW)
  • Stranger Things – Re-watched all seasons (Netflix)
  • Supermarket Sweep (Netflix and YouTube)
  • The Baby-Sitters Club (Netflix)
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – Season 1 (HBO Max)
  • The Innocence Files (Netflix)
  • The Mandalorian – Seasons 1 and 2 (Disney+)

Favorite Podcasts

  • Atlanta Monster
  • Crimes of Passion
  • Dateline NBC
  • Female Criminals
  • Forensic Files
  • Helping Writers Become Authors
  • Just Us For Y’All
  • Killer Knowledge
  • Monster: DC Sniper
  • Morbid
  • Murder in Oregon
  • Small Town Dicks
  • Spying on Humanity
  • StoryCorps
  • The FRONTLINE Dispatch
  • The Way I Heard It

Well, that wraps up my favorite things for 2020!

What about you? What were some of your favorite things of the year?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #226: Sixteenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Good Housekeeping

Welcome back!


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

  1. Elliott, T.E., Loved by the Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. DiAngelo, Robin, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
  2. Wilkinson, Lauren, American Spy
  3. Zailckas, Koren, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood *Re-Read*

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

  1. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  2. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give
  3. Weilert, Benjamin M., Buried Colony (ARC)
  4. Westover, Tara, Educated
  5. Whitehead, Colson, The Underground Railroad *Re-Read*
  6. Whitehead, Colson, The Nickel Boys

Adding to the TBR

  1. Harr, Jonathan, A Civil Action *Re-Read*
  2. King, Stephen, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft *Re-Read*

So, my current TBR is 8 books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #91: “Just Mercy”

I was fortunate enough to find my copy through a friend’s store on eBay. I’d heard about the book for a good while, and knew I wanted to see the movie. But, I’m the type of person that likes to read the book before seeing the movie.

Bryan Stevenson is an incredible man. This book is not only a memoir, but a history lesson.

Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School, moved to Atlanta, and then heard about a man on death row named Walter McMillan. He moved to Alabama to run the Southern Center for Human Rights operation in Montgomery. He is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). As of August 2016, EJI has saved 125 men from death.

It took me a lot longer than usual to finish this book. I wanted to take my time with it. Ever since the murder of George Floyd in May, I’ve wanted to learn as much as I can about people of color. This book is no exception – Stevenson writes about the appalling history of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, disproportionate arrests and heavy sentences, and the struggle of getting relief and overturned convictions for significant sentences, along with wrongfully imprisoned people.

Stevenson’s stories of these people on death row in multiple states, mostly men, but also a few women, were heartbreaking. Some were sentenced to death for crimes that were committed when they were children. Others were prosecuted to the maximum, when the laws that should have shielded them were blatantly ignored. There are more than a few people with physical and intellectual disabilities on death row in the United States.

This is a book that I think everyone should read. Even though it was published in 2014, it is definitely still relevant today.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation soon.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂