I recently began participating in my first writer’s workshop. With little-to-no idea what to expect, I submitted my potentially crappy writing to someone who could tell me how exceptionally crappy it really is. To say I was nervous is a bit of an understatement.
In spite of the nerves, I knew I was ready. I’m at a time in my life when I don’t want to hear nice things unless they’re true. Some brutally constructive criticism is exactly what I was looking for–and that’s what I’ve found.
As you may have noticed, my website has changed a bit. It’s under construction because the time has come: I’m finally transitioning from a blog to an author website! It feels strange to be moving on from “The Girl Who Blogs”, but there’s a season for everything and “The Girl’s” time is up!
This book. Where do I even begin? It is a character-driven story with so many facets it’s difficult to jam it into a genre. Heather and Dodge, both recent high school grads, are playing Panic, the super-secret game of wits that leaves the winner with a huge cash prize.
Heather isn’t sure why she is playing exactly, but she knows she isn’t going to quit. Dodge, however, knows precisely what he wants out of it, and it’s not the money. The characters and their journey is what kept me reading. The plot is original, yes. In fact, I haven’t read another book to which I could compare it. But beyond that, the characters are motivated by real things and become better versions of themselves in the process, which I love seeing in any book.
This twisty coming of age story will keep you guessing and may draw a tear or two. The beginning was a bit slow, but stick with it and you’ll be satisfied with the end. Promise. :)
We’re having book talk! It has been entirely too long and I’m very excited to share a new book with you. In my absence from our Book Talk Tuesdays, I have continued to read, so there are several books that are begging to be shared. The first one up is Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd.
This book jumped out at me one day when I was browsing Barnes & Noble with the intention of spending a gift card I’d received for Christmas. Occasionally I like to pick up nonfiction books so I feel like I’m actually doing some productive reading. This book looked marginally interesting and I figured why the heck not? (A Pulitzer Prize winner? I should learn everything he knows!) Without any exaggeration or superlatives, I have to say that it exceeded all my expectations. Good Prose is not a how-to or instructional book. It’s a dissemination of knowledge gained over decades of experience. The anecdotes and the style in which it is written make it an absolute joy—again, no exaggeration.
While the title may leave the impression that this book will best serve those who write nonfiction, I’d recommend it for any and every kind of writer. It is encouraging, engaging, funny, and encompasses ideas that will benefit anyone who wants to communicate through pen and ink (or laptop and keyboard).
One of my favorite quotes (I read with a highlighter and this book practically glows with neon yellow ink) is found in the chapter on memoirs.
Writers want to be engaging, and it is easy to try to purchase charm at the expense of honesty, but the ultimate charm lies in being more right than pretty. (p 51)
Doesn’t that apply to everything? I’d rather be an honest, substantial writer (and person) than to sacrifice what is real in the name of charm.
If you need to add some nonfiction to your reading list and would like to glean some wisdom from a seasoned writer and editor, I recommend this book 100%. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Hey, lovelies. How are we today? Surviving the dreaded Tuesday?
I ran errands alone today, so, needless to say, it’s been a good day. Seriously, who knew that Walmart could be considered a “getaway.” (Yes, I know. I have no life.) ;)
I’m so excited about today’s book talk because time travel. You heard me! Time travel!! Sadly, the Doctor is not involved, but the story is exciting and fun without him. (Is that okay to say!? It would be even more exciting with him, of course.)
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier is a young adult fantasy/science fiction about Gwen, a girl who descends from a long line of time travelers. She’s hoping the time traveling gene skips her because it would be a pain to bounce back and forth in time, am I right?
This book was fun. There was some sword fighting, more than a little mystery, and—I should probably warn you—it’s the first in a trilogy and you won’t be getting many answers.The writing was light and funny and Gwen is just the unexpected, quirky heroine everyone wants. It is the kind of book that had me wishing I could just curl up and disappear into it for a bit. I don’t want to share too many details because spoilers are no ones friend, so I’ll just leave you to it.
Meanwhile, this is me wishing I could time travel and wondering how I’m going to get my hands on books two and three. But you could have probably guessed that because this is pretty much my life.
It’s Tuesday! And I have a book to share with you! Want to talk about books with me? It’s been awhile. A long while. But I think—and I say this very cautiously—life may be slowing down the tiniest bit. And that’s all I need, just a tiny bit of slowing down. Enough to catch my breath. Whew!
How are you?? I’ve missed our chats! Popping in now and then is okay, but it’s not the same. I’m missing things…more things than usual.
Okay, down to business before I get carried away. Books! I read a book over the weekend I just have to tell you about. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is a YA science fiction (have I mentioned that I love science fiction?) that gave my imagination a much-needed stretch.
These Broken Stars is told from the viewpoint of two characters, Tarver and Lilac. Tarver is a soldier and a war hero from a humble family who knows his place in society and prefers it to the insincerity he sees in the world of the wealthy. Lilac is the only daughter of a widowed businessman and unaccustomed to anything that doesn’t include expensive clothes and servants. They’re from two completely different worlds, but a terrible disaster soon sees them alone and struggling to survive on a planet that grows stranger and more unfamiliar the longer they’re on it.
Their communication is calamitous, they cannot get along, and they have no idea when—or if—rescue will ever come. But as pressure-filled situations often do, their isolation helps them grow individually and better understand one another. As some seriously weird things begin to happen, they find themselves caught in the middle of a powerful secret that will have them risking everything to set things right.
I loved this book because the setting was very creative and the characters were constantly developing. There’s sacrifice, courage, adventure, and a bit of romance. Although it’s part of a trilogy, it can be read as a stand-alone book. It’s a fast, fun, exciting read I would definitely recommend.
It’s going to take everything in me to focus on book talk today. You know that mild Doctor Who addiction I spoke to you about? Well, it’s escalating. I watched Forest of the Dead today. And cried. Of course.
But I’m putting that out of my mind and focusing very hard on the task at hand! I thought, for continuity’s sake, I’d select from the realm of science fiction for today’s post. (Also, my brain is quite obviously already in sci-fi mode and it cannot be persuaded to switch to something more realistic.)
Let’s talk about Beth Revis’ series Across the Universe.
Amy is supposed to be in cryo-sleep until the ship carrying her family and team of settlers lands on the new earth. But she wakes up—alone, confused, and not very happy—to find that they’re nowhere near landing.
Not one to buy into pathetic answers to real questions, she teams up with Elder, the next captain of the Godspeed, and begins to search for the truth in the midst of the madness. Someone woke her up. Someone is out for blood. And someone is not telling the truth.
I was so impressed with this series. Every page was a major plot twist. Just when I thought I had things figured out, the tables turned and I was left completely shocked and delighted. Shocked and delighted—like gasping and bouncing up and down and dramatically clapping my hand over my mouth in genuine surprise. In addition to a great story, the imagery is beautiful and the other-world-liness will tickle your imagination.
Amy, the heroine, is relatable in spite of the fact that she is parcel to situations we can’t even fathom in our tiny 21st century world. All the supporting characters are exactly as they should be—multidimensional and firmly planted in the center of the action. There are no shallow, unnecessary players here. The content deals with some heavy questions and I would recommend it for mature high school students and older.
I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this series. (Am I making myself clear?!?) I don’t know how Beth Revis did it, but the union between entirely ridiculous and entirely believable is perfect. Perfect! I was so engrossed in this story and the characters that I grieved when it was over—I would say that “grieved” is an exaggeration, but you know I don’t mess around when it comes to my love of fictional characters. ;)
Any sci-fi recommendations for me? I believe I’m a bit hooked.
In the interest of starting this week out right, I’ll toss a title your way for a little light, witty reading. Sound good?
Comedy is a must around these parts. You know, laughter being the best medicine and all that. Have you read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling? If not, pick it up somewhere. Read it on a long flight. Keep it by the bed for a literary nightcap. It’s fun and I’m sure you’ll like it.
Mindy, as I’ll call her (because we’d be friends if we were acquainted, I’m sure), has worked hard to become the actress/writer/producer she is today. In this book, she recounts some of her experiences and struggles. As is to be expected, it’s all hilarious and will remind you that you’re not alone in the middle of this strangeness we call life.
Read it and let me know what you think, sound good?
Good morning! It’s still morning, right? I woke up early and went to the gym this morning. First time on a row machine and my arms absolutely hate me. They’re angry. Really angry.
I have my cup of coffee and I’m so excited to settle in and tell you about some books that have spurred a lot of thinking around here. The good kind of thinking, about life and value and what makes us human.
The Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman is set in a time when human life has been declared sacrosanct from conception to the age of 13. From the ages of 13 to 18, however, a child can be unwound—a process which allows for each part of the individual to be used in another person. There is no shortage of organs, no blindness, no immobility. If part of you doesn’t work, you have it replaced. Parents can have problematic children unwound. Wards of the state can be unwound if they don’t prove necessary. Basically, if you’re between the ages of 13 and 18 you need to watch your back.
The way Shusterman tells this story is captivating. There are several important characters, but Connor, Lev, and Risa are consistently important throughout. As I read, I was forced to evaluate the decisions we make today pertaining to organ donations and the value of individual lives. What would take a society to the place where it was okay with disassembling adolescents? What course of thinking makes that seem justified?
This is why I love dystopian fiction—it explores consequences and, in showing us the next world, demands that we more closely examine this one.
Unwind and Unwholly are particularly action packed. Things happen very quickly and there are a lot of characters to keep up with, but Shusterman is clear when transitioning from one character to the next. I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good ride and doesn’t mind pondering some of the deeper aspects of humanity like ethics and questions of person hood. It was clean and suitable for middle school ages and up.
I recently read the third book thinking it would wrap things up and it didn’t. It’s a dystology not a trilogy. (Duh, Kaela!) There are definitely more books to come. Which is good because I. Need. Answers.
Have you read these books? If not, have a look! I hope you enjoy them!