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If you have any book recommendations drop me an
While the pandemic raged, I kept reading. No doubt you did too.
December of 2020, I started reading The New History of the World by
J.M. Roberts. I've had the book for years. I probably got it with my
discount when I worked at Waldenbooks. Remember Waldenbooks? That long ago.
So, I finally decided to buckle down and read the damn thing. I'm nearly
I'm still finding inspiration for some books based on stuff I've seen on
television. The Kennedys lasted only one season way back when and I
only just discovered it. It was so hilarious! It's a shame there weren't
more seasons made. The book they based the show on, The Tent, the Bucket
and Me by Emma Kennedy is just as funny. The book and the show are
different enough that it's worth taking a look at both.
watched The Durrells of Corfu several times. It's a wonderful series,
though the last episode is sad. But that led me to read a biography of the
family, the Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell and Margaret Durrell's
novel Whatever Happened to Margo? All enjoyable reads.
also very much enjoyed The Queen's Gambit. I read the book first and
was so glad I did. But they're both worth your time.
I binge watched Belgravia this past week. I'm not sure if I
should read the book now or not. The six-part series felt complete. I didn't
get the sense that I would get more out of the book by Julian Fellowes, like
I did with The Buccaneers. And Fellowes was part of the series
production. But I'll think about it.
read a couple of three-star books recently and I gave up completely on
another without finishing it. I hate giving up on a book, especially if I
paid a lot for it. I always read the first few pages before purchasing and
it's such a frustrating feeing when a book that starts out so promising
devolves into blandness. Sometimes I think writers' circles, in coaching one
other, put so much emphasis on those first pages that they forget to insist
that the rest of the book live up to its beginning.
I started streaming the 1995 BBC miniseries The Buccaneers and
realized early on that it would be better to read the novel first. There
were too many characters to keep straight and it seemed there might be some
back story I was missing. So, I got a copy of Edith Wharton's book by the
same name. As is often the case, the book was much better than the
it turns out, Edith Wharton never finished The Buccaneers. The ending
of the edition I read was added by Marion Mainwaring and she did an
excellent job. I've no idea what the writers of the BBC miniseries were
thinking. They basically took a classical novel of 1870s wealthy society
culture and turned it into a trashy romance.
Nonetheless, The Buccaneers, compared to Wharton's House of Mirth,
was bright and hopeful. House of Mirth, on the other hand, was
was so frustrated and saddened after reading it, I had to go to Jonas
Jonasson for some wacky humor in Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All.
It's wacky all right, but still not as good as the first book of his I read, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a
Window and Disappeared. And as it happens, you can stream an adaptation
of that book, too. While it is a charming, funny film, Johansson's adorable
narrative voice can only really be appreciated by reading the book.
read Mary Trump's book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created
the World's Most Dangerous Man. I was a tad underwhelmed. You can read
my thoughts at The Sunshine
State blog in
The Two Best Quotes in Mary L. Trump's Book.
Well, I watched Judy with Renee Zellweger and while it was a good
film, it wasn't as good as I expected it to be. I thought it would be more
biographical than it was. So, to satisfy that unrequited desire, I'm going
to read Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland by Gerald Clarke. Right
now I'm reading Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts. It's historical
fiction about Maud Baum, wife of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful
Wizard of Oz. In the book, some twenty years after L. Frank's death,
Maud is invited to visit the set of The Wizard of Oz often where she
befriends a young Judy Garland. That story is weaved in and out of
flashbacks of Maud's life. It's beautifully written and I'm really enjoying
I got Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy Book #2) by
Patricia Bracewell on a BookBub sale. I
thought I'd like it a lot, so I also bought the first book in the trilogy,
not on sale. That's what authors hope for with ads, right? Worked on me!
Anyway, the first book is Shadow on the Crown. More historical
fiction on my list.
haven't been reading as much as I usually do. I've been enjoying some
television and streaming, staying up way past my bedtime and indulging in
popcorn. I try not to be too hard on myself in these phases.
This year I'm not judging any awards so all of my reading is my own. I
try to get my ebooks cheap. Why? Sometimes, even though I've read the blurb
and the first few pages (and if that's not possible, I almost certainly
won't pay for it at all), I get a third of the way through the book and
realize it's just not that good. I try to keep reading, but too often I just
can't. I don't care about the characters. I don't care about the story.
Great starts don't make a book great. And if I've paid the going rate for
corporate published books ($10-$15), I will not be happy. At all. Still,
even $1.99 is hard to swallow if it happens too often.
But, perhaps this is a good thing. Because when those books come along that
are wonderful, the find feels all the more special.
Reading and judging for the
Awards has finally come to an end. We had a wonderful selection of books
this year; lots of great reading. But now I'm back to making my own choices.
So far...eh, not so good.
People are going to love The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick
Ness. The narrative voice is engaging and it's fast paced and gritty. I'm
not a fan of evil people ruthlessly and relentless attacking the innocent.
(And, no spoilers here, but some will say Ness committed one of the ultimate
sins of storytelling.) Some will tell you that is conflict and that's
what stories are all about. But there are millions of stories in which the
bad guy isn't vulgarly evil for evil's sake. Even in this book, the conflict
between Aaron and Todd could have been handled with a great deal more
humanity and it would have made the story, for me at least, deeper and more
real. But worse, the story doesn't end. There is no story arc. There's no
resolution with a hint of more to come, of raising the stakes in the next
book. Nothing like "The Empire will strike back," or, "Voldemort is still
out there." Nope. This one just leads you into one more peril, the worst
yet, and leaves you there. The author fairly sneers at you saying, "You'll
have to read the next book!" Well, no thanks. I've read quite enough of vile
people being vile because they can be.
But you might really love it. So don't let me stop you.
Crazy Rich Asians definitely goes into the "film was better than the
book" category. But that isn't saying much. And The Suns is Also a Star
is almost certainly going to be a better film. Fingers crossed that the film
is worth the watch.
husband says--after my complaints about the last few books I read--that I've
become too particular. And I suppose he's right. I want a book with an
engaging, deep, real narrative voice. I don't want to read a book that
sounds like it's been through a critique group--in other words, with the
voice edited out of it. I want a complex villain who believes he's doing
the right thing, not one who simply enjoys torturing others (the difference
between Thanos and the Emperor of Sith, for example). I don't want pages
upon pages of narration (and certainly not in the middle of dialogue!). And
I want a resolution, good or bad.
that too much to ask?
Well, we made it through 2018 somehow without losing our minds. My
reading for the Florida Book
Awards is coming to an end and I'll be able to devote more time to my
personal reading list. But I have managed to get some in, between all the
fascinating entries I've received. Ken Follett's Fall of Giants was
much like the war used as its backdrop--much longer than it ought to be and
rather tedious. But it was still a good story and that's what matters.
Now I'm reading a few books that will be coming out as films this year. I
offered a small sampling of such books in the January issue of the
Wayward Cat Book News. There weren't many, I confess, that looked to me
like books I should read before seeing their respective films. But The
Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon was certainly one and I'm reading it
Well, the year is almost over. I'm reading for the
Florida Book Awards
again this year so my personal reading isn't as prolific as I'd wish. But
I've gotten a few good ones in there. I've been finding a lot of new books
while looking for ideas for the
Wayward Cat Book News newsletter. That's how I found My Sister, the
Serial Killer. Braithwaite has this breathless sort of minimalism to her
narrative. I really like it. And I found The Sound of Gravel by Ruth
Wariner when she was interviewed as part of an online workshop on memoir
writing. It was a shocking read.
I ordered a copy of Kevin Kwan's
Crazy Rich Asians;
it just looks like the kind of movie that has a really great book behind it.
I'll let you know. I ended up with the paperback. Traditional, corporate
publishers clearly don't want ebooks to be a thing. They've overpriced
theirs. They're in the business of paper. Well, fine. I don't mind paper.
And this way, I can donate the book to the library or Goodwill so someone
else get have the benefit of reading it, unlike when I purchase an ebook.
Suck on that corporate publishing!
I'm finishing up Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy now. It's some
pretty good fantasy; if you haven't read it yet, check it out. I'm told his
other stuff is really good too.
have no idea where I heard about The Truth About Lorin Jones by
Alison Lurie. I was a strange book, filled with odd characters, so I suppose
I liked it. And A Reunion of Ghosts, by Judith Clare Mitchell was really
weird. First of all, it's narrated by three people...at the same time. Oh,
and then a fourth at the end. It was funny, considering it's about three
sisters who are planning to off themselves. My kind of book really.
The latest Wayward Cat Book News goes out tomorrow. If you'd like to sign
up, drop me an email at
dianna@waywardcatpublishing and I'll add your email to the list. You can
check out the
last issue here.
Tomorrow is July. July. Already. The year is nearly done. I've read so
many wonderful books!
Tomorrow night, I will start on the second book in the Mistborn
trilogy by Brandon Sanderson (who I keep calling Brian). I'd held off for so
long because I don't want to pay $10 for the ebooks and just haven't ordered
the paperbacks. I was telling one of my sons about it (he's the one who told
me about the books in the first place) and he was immediately texting a
friend of his who lives near me to loan me his copies. So, I got books two
and three and there's just one serious problem. They are brand new! This
friend of my son's has them as keepsakes or something. They're so beautiful.
Their spines so clean and smooth! I'm afraid to open them. But I will do it.
For the love of books, I will do it. After all, what good is an unread book?
A book yearns to serve its purpose!
How do you decide when to give up on a book? I mean, how many tries do
you give it? How many pages? Of course, on the Kindle, I get a percentage. I
guess I try to give a bad book a 50% try. If I get halfway through and it's
just going nowhere or it's stupid, or I'm bored, whatever, it's time to give
up. (Though I gave A Wrinkle in Time 83% before saying 'no more!' But
that's probably because it's a so-called classic and was supposed to be
was reading one book in particular that I gave up on eventually. But before
I gave up, there was this one bit that kept nagging at me. One of the
characters was trying to lose weight and get fit and the person helping her
was a model. This model confessed to our main character that she hadn't
always been thin. Nope, she was embarrassed to show a picture of her when
she was (gasp!) over 100 kilos. I was shocked! Shocked that this book was
telling me that 'over 100 pounds' was fat!
But then I looked it up and a kilo is worth just over 2 pounds so I felt bad
for thinking poorly of the book. I still stopped reading it though, but
because I was bored.
Why was I bored?
Sometimes stories feel like they're going nowhere, right? And that 'nowhere
going' goes on too long and we give up. Sometimes we just don't care. We
don't care if the girl gets the guy. Sometimes everything feels implausible,
But that doesn't necessarily mean those stories are bad. There are still
people out there who will love them. So, I try not to dis books that I gave
up on, or that I finish and didn't like. (Yes, I totally dissed A Wrinkle
in Time, but I did it because it's supposed to be a classic, great,
wondrous piece of literature, and it sucked.) I try to just quietly set them
aside and move on.
This proves that I love books. Because any other thing I don't like will get
torn a new one all over social media. That's right; I'm bad. You know it.
I picked up a book off the "free" table at
OASIS last year, or maybe
the year before and I'm finally reading it. When I first saw it, I grabbed
it because it was a fat book. I love long reads. I thought the title was
intriguing: Jemmela in the Ruff. I had absolutely no idea what it was
about and didn't really look a the cover.
Well, it's about werewolves! Not at all the sort of book I would choose to
read. But I. Am. LOVING. this book! It's really, really good. I don't think
this means I'm going to start reading werewolf books. But I will almost
certainly read another book by Margo Honey. Unfortunately, she doesn't have
much of a presence online.
formally apologize to all Madeleine L'Engle fans. I get that she is
considered a great author, but I could not get into A Wrinkle in Time.
I thought it was awful. Sorry. The characters were not well formed. The
settings were basically left un-described. And the story was just...stupid.
Really, really sorry.
Other than that, I'm plugging away with reading, though I admit that I'm
only reading four nights a week. I really feel like reading Gone With the
Wind again. But, I need to keep up with new books since I've been
including mini book reviews in the
Wayward Cat Book News every month. I've probably got plenty of books
under my belt already, but I'm prone to panicking about...anything.
Finally! 2017 is over! What an awful year. I blogged about it under the
Dear 2017: I regret nothing.
do feel rather rejuvenated. I feel like it's time to shake it off and try to
work again. I guess I did manage about 40,000 words last year, and I spent
quite a bit of time thinking about and reworking my latest fantasy title.
I'm almost finished with the outline and then I'll get the damn thing
written. After that, I'll try to do the second book in the Downtown Divas
series and then do the ghost story.
Wish me luck!
for reading, I'm still judging for the
Florida Book Awards, and
judging for the Royal Palm Literary Awards begins soon, too. So my
personal reading may continue to be slow going.
I've always been a huge fan of the song
written and sung by Janis Ian. I'm not all that familiar with Ian's other
work, so I guess I'm not an actual fan of hers. While I enjoyed her book,
Society's Child, I came away from it with a bit of a negative view of
the artist. I doubt she intended that. I guess that's the risk you take when
you read about real people. But, my view isn't negative enough to not like
her. I mean, she posts Godzilla Haiku on Facebook. She's not all bad.
For the first time in I don't know how long, I'm currently reading several
books, only one of which is fiction, that being A Wrinkle in Time. I
have to say, the upcoming film, judging by the previews, looks pretty awful.
And getting into the book isn't easy going so far, either. It's fuzzy and a
little weird. Why is it a classic? (My history with classics is sketchy:
some are fabulous, others drastically overrated.) I'll push on with it and
see if I can't make it work.
It's a much different situation from Ender's Game. When I saw the
preview for that film, I thought it was going to be amazing so I read the
book and absolutely loved it. The film, as it turned out, was terrible. They
ruined the book, as films so often do. And it saddens me that millions of
people might see that film and be so turned off they don't read the book.
Then again, after you've seen the film, you know the whole deal and the book
is ruined for you, anyway.
So, maybe I'll dislike A Wrinkle in Time and for some reason see the film
and love that. You never know. It's not like I haven't been wrong about a
film before. I thought
Storks and Sing
were going to be great.
It's been quite a wile since I updated this site. I apologize to the
millions of people who read it regularly. (Ha!) It's been a difficult year.
A very difficult year.
Currently, I'm judging for the
Florida Book Awards, so
while I am delving into some private reading as well, I imagine it will go
much slower for the next few months. I've decided not to list the books that
I read for the competition here, or on Goodreads. Perhaps, in the future,
I'll sneak in the ones that I really liked, one at a time, so no one will
notice. I just don't feel that it's fair to the entrants if I list them and
make comments about them in public.
had a booth at the
Tampa Bay Times
Festival of Reading in St. Petersburg last weekend. It was a fabulous
day! I got to meet Janis Ian and she
autographed her autobiography for me. I didn't gush about
No doubt she's heard from thousands of women who, like me, were deeply
touched by that song. I also didn't relate a story that I thought about. The
line to see her was long.
Years ago, I saw her on a talk show. She sang the song and then sat down to
speak with the host. I don't remember what show it was, but the host was
male. He said something to Janis along the lines of, "Why would you write a
song like that...you're beautiful." I remember being angry about that, but
this was so long ago that I'm not sure if I realized why it made me angry.
But I can feel it now, as if it were only yesterday. There's this attitude
that if we just tell women with low self-esteem, a negative self-image,
those who are anorexic, or self-harm, those who are severely depressed, that
they're beautiful and worthy and wonderful...that we'll just suddenly
realize we've been wrong all this time and be cured.
Some time ago, I attended something of a family event in which there was
much reminiscing and afterward, expressed feeling like the "ugly duckling"
of the family. One of my relatives literally scolded me and told me I was
beautiful. I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry.
Replaying Janis Ian's At Seventeen took me back to my very isolated
and sad childhood. I've realized now that there was not a single adult who
reached out to me when I was a kid. Not a teacher, a relative, or a family
friend. Not even a stranger. No one helped me. I was scolded, and looked on
with disdain. I was even teased by adults. I cried a lot, and reacted with
anger often, to situations in which I had no way to appropriately express
myself. No one ever acted as if I was anything but a bad kid.
Once, I wrote a letter to a family friend telling her I wanted to run away
from home and asking if I could live with her. Her response was to call my
mother and ask if everything was okay. She apparently never disclosed the
details of my letter, but told my mother she received one. Of course, my
mother said everything was just fine. I got the third degree and a scolding
after that phone call.
learned not to reach out to other adults.
It's been a very difficult year.
I finally got new reading glasses so I can read the stack of print books
by my bed! I had the font on my Kindle up pretty high there for a while.
That's one of the advantages of ebooks, isn't it?
But I've noticed...when reading print books, I'm finding my head moving
slightly left and right...so my eyes can scan the page. I don't have to do
that on my Kindle. Is this normal? Was I always doing this and just didn't
realize it. I think my eyes are supposed to move and not my head. This may
take some practice. Oh, dear, I'm out of the print reading habit and will
have to retrain my brain.
I'm starting up a newsletter about books and words and reading! You can sign
up at Wayward Cat
Publishing's web page. Or shoot me an email at
email@example.com with the word subscribe and I'll add you
to the list. First issue arrives in inboxes on August 10th.
So, I've been on something of a nonfiction kick. I read a few biographies
and really enjoyed them. Reading about Jim Henson was amazing. I had no
idea, I swear, that all of the Sesame Street Muppets were...Muppets. I was
always fuzzy on the relationship there. And I didn't know that Henson really
thought of his Muppets as for adults, not kids. I didn't realize the
relationship with Frank Oz was so long or that Oz came onto the Muppet team
when he was just out of high school. And, I never really understood Henson's
death. It was tragic.
Bert Lahr's biography was somewhat tragic as well, as told my his son John.
I read a review of the book on Amazon in which the reader gave it a poor
rating because she expected the happy story of the Cowardly Lion and instead
got the ins and outs of comedy in the Twenties and a depressed comic. Well,
yeah. But the book was excellent...and sad.
After reading the stories Lahr told about the filming of The Wizard of Oz, I
decided to read The Making of The Wizard of Oz and was surprised that
his story about the Munchkins wasn't in that book. It's possible that his
story is just legend. (It involves bus loads of little people on their way
to California mooning an agent/manager at his apartment in NYC.)
well, who to believe? Still, it's true that Harmetz' The Making of...
didn't go into very much detail regarding the cast during the filming. It
was very detailed about the writing, directing, musical score, etc. Light on
Now that I've got my eyes back, however, I've got to get into the stack of
print books that's been getting taller. So, it'll be back to fiction for a
while, at least.
Is it old age? Is it education and experience? These days I find that I
put more books aside than I finish. I'm bored. Stories go nowhere for a long
time and I give up. Some have promise but end up nowhere in the end. And
that angers me...you know, when you come to the end of the book to find
you've invested all that time for nothing. So frustrating.
That's all I have to say this morning.
What the heck? How did it get to be April? Easter is on Sunday. Not that
I'm religious or anything. But I'm cooking a turkey and fixin's (that's
Southern speak) and I've got a coconut cream pie in the freezer ready to
thaw. So, sure! Easter! Oh, and Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs! I'm on a diet.
Can you tell?
Lots of good reading lately. This morning, my hubs sent me a link to
an old story about the main arcs of storytelling. One of the heavily
used arcs is not popular with readers. It's the "rags to riches" arc, or
more simply stated: rise. The hero starts out low and, well, rises. It's
boring. And last night I finished skimming just such a book. It wasn't
horrific. The writing was done well enough. It had a cute character or two.
But our hero starts out low and rises. She meets a guy and...he really likes
her a lot and...he keeps liking her and...they get together sexually in the
Boring. But it's got a lot of stars. So, while this particular story didn't
appeal to me, it did to a lot of other people. I think it could have been
redeemed if the cute characters were cuter, the hero more quirky...more
humor. Ah, well. Not every book we pick up can enthrall us.
Can we say we "pick up" books anymore? I mean, if we're really picking up
According to Good Reads, I read 55 books last year. That doesn't count
the ones I started and stopped, because they sucked, and any nonfiction that
I didn't include there. So, not a bad year, I guess. And of course, there's
the disclaimer that just because I thought some books sucked, doesn't mean
they weren't any good. Not everybody is going to like every book.
So, all in all, there were some wonderful reads in 2016. I hope to read some
more Craig Lancaster, Christopher Moore, and Catherine Ryan Hyde this year.
I've got a few biographies on my Kindle ready and waiting, and even a
history book or two. I will definitely read Bruno Stella's Martin Chalk and
the Case of the Underworld King. (The dude's terrible with titles, but he
can write.) But if I pick up another Joyce Carol Oates, would somebody
please slap me? Seriously. The chances are pretty good that I will read
another one of her books and complain about it. Maybe I should find that one
book of hers that I read when I was in my early 20s and read it again and
see if maybe I've just deluded myself into thinking I am a fan. Hold
on...Amazon-ing... I found it! It was
A Bloodsmoor Romance. I thought it was really good. But I was a lot
So, I'm already one book down for 2017 and working on the 2nd, which isn't a
thrilling read so far. But that's just the way some of them are. Happy
So, for some reason I decided to read another Joyce Carol Oates book. I
don't know what it is...they always sound so good in the descriptions and of
course the woman can write! Middle Age, so far, seems like we're
going to visit all the people in town and get their versions of this guy who
died. So, basically, there's really no story. Instead, it's a nicely written
set of vignette's. But each one does sort of move along with time. I don't
know. I'm still reading it, let's just say that. But in between sessions
with it, I'm reading some books on writing. I feel like I need to get my
writing juices flowing again. Not that they've congealed or anything. More
like they've abandoned me.
Writing books, though, are problematic. For one thing, most of them are so
basic, you start into them thinking you're going to learn something
wonderful only to find yourself skimming and nodding. Uh huh, mm hmm. I
know that. Done that. Already figured that out. But I determinedly* took
notes anyway. Then I read one last night (that's right; it was a tiny little
book), only to find halfway through I'd scribbled a note in it. So, I
already read it! I finished it anyway. It was a good one. A basic guide to
applying the hero's journey into the three act structure.
The next one is supposed to help me to be more motivated to actually do some
writing. Hah. We'll give it a valiant effort.
*Is determinedly a word? Excuse me a moment while I look it up.... Why yes.
Yes it is a word.
The strangest thing about the last comic con I tabled at was the number
of people who told me how much they loved to read. It was as if reading was
an anomaly--one of which they were proud, at least. And my response was
always, "Me, too!" And to those who said they loved to read but didn't have
enough time, or wished they had more time, I always said that I read every
night before bed. And I do. Except for Thursday nights during Project Runway
season. Or the occasional night that I stay up late and watch a movie. But
nearly every night.
But I can understand people who don't read. There are plenty of other fun
distractions. Not that reading is a distraction...actually. Reading is more
of an immersion into the lives of other people. And when the author has done
a great job, it really is just like that. Gaming is probably like that as
well. But puzzles...not so much. (This is a reference, for those unaware, to
my love of ejigsaw puzzles I do on my ipad nearly every night as well.)
The worst part of reading a lot is that I try a large variety of books and
that means I am sometimes disappointed. It's just sad when I start a book
and have to force myself to keep going. I almost always come to a point at
which I just have to give up already and move on. It's like meeting a really
good looking guy and going out with him a few times even though it's pretty
clear he's a dimwit.
And the worst, worst thing is finding a book by an author you love only to
get into it and realize it's awful. That's like seeing your old boyfriend
across the room at your fortieth reunion, walking toward him with
anticipation, getting closer all smiles, arms out ready for that hug, only
to see he's wearing a Donald Trump for President shirt. And then, when you
tell this story later, you're all like, "But no, seriously, he didn't used
to be like that!"
Do you read the comments at Amazon or Goodreads before you decide to
read a book? I don't, usually. I read the blurb and then if it sounds cool,
I check out the first few pages. I tend to look for a strong voice in the
narration and fairly good writing skill. If I like what I see, I buy it. And
after reading it (or giving up at some point) I like to go to the comments
and see who agrees with me and who doesn't and why.
The other day, however, I bought two books without really checking them out
too well. They're non-fiction. The first was
Seinfeldia: How a Show about Nothing Changed Everything. The blurb
said it was funny. I'm a big fan of
Seinfeld, so I
pre-ordered it. I should get it next week when it "comes out." But I saw
that the same author had written a book about
Tyler Moore Show. I loved that show! So, I bought that up, too, and
started reading it last night.
It's definitely, so far, a history of the show. But for some reason, I took
a look at some of the comments at Amazon. I guess I figured that since it's
non-fiction, they couldn't spoil anything. Unfortunately, now I'm hoping I
won't regret the purchase. Why? Because it's print! That's right. I bought
two books on paper!
Corporate publishers are pricing their ebooks way too high. Couple that with
the fact that I didn't trust them in putting together
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted very well (would they really include
all the pictures?) and the fact that
Seinfeldia is brand new and I'd rather pay $17 for a hard cover than
$13 for an ebook when it's non-fiction...actually, I won't pay that much for
a fiction ebook at all...and I ended up with two books on paper.
Anyway, I hope I don't regret it. (I didn't.)
just read Jacob
Have I Loved.
You know, when I was a kid, I didn't read any of the books I was supposed to
read. Not that Jacob Have I Loved was published back when I was a
kid. Hmm. Maybe they didn't have books like that when I was a kid. I
do remember reading a book about some kids in a gang, I think. And a girl
cut off a guy's penis. My dad found the book and read that part and he was
not happy. I was all, like, so? Even now, I look back on it and think to
myself, "Look, if you're not going to be around when I buy books or go to
the library, you really don't get to complain." But I was probably thirteen
or so at the time. Not like I was eight.
Drew books. And I read the
Basil of Baker
Street books. I read
Alice. I also read
Calico Captive. Once I was about fifteen, I started reading
Gone With the Wind. That could have been the only book I read between
the ages of fifteen and twenty. I remember that Go Ask Alice was on a
particular shelf in Waldenbooks when I worked there. It was with other books
called Young Adult. And I hadn't read any of them except that one. I think
the whole Young Adult thing came about after I was an adult. So I guess I
can't say I was supposed to read any of those books. I just feel like I
missed out on something.
Anyway, I hadn't read Jacob Have I Loved because I thought it was a
Young Adult love story. No, I'm serious. Then it popped up in my daily
and it didn't sound like a love story, after all. So I bought it and I read
it and it broke my heart. I think what I loved about it was that it didn't
preach; it didn't turn out that the fault was all Louise's and it didn't
turn out that everybody hugged and made up in the end. Louise was deeply
hurt, and she learned to live her life anyway. It broke my heart.
definitely identified with Louise. I understood her. But reading the
one-star reviews over at Amazon reminded me that there are a lot of people
in this world who do not understand depression and fear, or even childhood.
You know what I think? I think those people thought it was going to be a
Young Adult love story.
I purchased the
North and South trilogy ebook by John Jakes when it was on sale. I
probably watched the miniseries all those years ago but I can't remember
anything about it except Kirstie Alley having the hots for a gorgeous slave
or ex-slave or something forbidden like that. I've finished the first two
books and started the third (Heaven and Hell) and I'm thinking about
putting it aside for a bit. The problem is that, I suppose, I'm tired of the
drama and losing interest. There's no story, really. There's just the
backdrop of the Civil War and (now) Reconstruction. All the characters are
there: good and bad on each side. Most of your evil people are just evil. No
real motivation beyond greed or low self-esteem (the bully syndrome).
Innocent, good characters are tormented by cruel, bad characters. It's
exhausting. There were parts involving torture and murder that I couldn't
even read. But anyway, the only "story" seems to be one or more of the
characters hoping these two families can maintain their friendship over the
war and Reconstruction. All indicators point to yes...what's left of them.
subscribed to BookBub. It's this ebook flyer that goes out every single day
with cheap and free books for sale. I'm trying very hard not to load up my
Kindle with all kinds of books that I may never be able to read. I'm not
sure a large choice is a good thing for me.
Well, February is over. I suppose we can be grateful for that, at least.
I've been reading some good books.
But I don't feel like talking (or writing) about them. I'm having a
crisis, I think. Oh, don't worry, I'll get over it. I always do. I think
what I need for it, is a really, really, really thick book. Like Gone
With the Wind. I could read that again, I suppose. Or I could find the
second book in
Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles.
Have you ever felt like that? Like you just needed a really fat book?
Maybe it's like running away. But you don't have to actually go anywhere.
That's the best kind of running away. Curling up on the sofa, a Diet Coke
and some Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs on the table next to you. Losing
yourself in someone else's life for a while. You might think that writing
would be a lot like that, but it's not quite the same. There's a big
difference between telling a story, and having someone tell one to you.
That's it, isn't it? It's all about regressing to that childlike
state--comforting. Geez. I'm such a princess.
Did you ever feel like you are just psychologically fucked? And you just
want to slap all those people who post sappy "feel good" posters on Facebook
all about how you can be happy if you just choose to be. You can either let
it make you bitter, or let it go and get better.
When I see stuff like that, I think of people a lot worse off than me,
people who are so abused and beaten down that they have little chance, if
any, to get past it. These happiness gurus don't get it. They're clearly not
plagued with that constant hum of a lonely, abusive childhood.
Okay, I'll snap out of it. Hello February. Yay, February. I'll go try to
force myself to write good stuff now.
But wait, first I'd like to figure out why February is spelled the way it
is. If you go to this
Mental Floss article, they promise to explain it. They say it's because
the word originally came to English from French where it was feverier
(which, as a word, makes no sense at all because it's cold in February, not
feverish, unless you're Down Under, right?). Anyway, the English said
feverere or feverell instead, because they don't like the French so they had
to change it at least a little bit.
Then, Mental Floss says, in the 16th and 17th centuries, England went
through a "everything must be Latinized" phase...wait, what? Latin? I
thought English was a Germanic language. Oh, oh, I see. The phase they went
through was a "Classical things are the best things" phase (sort of like
when Americans sometimes start thinking European everything is better
than American anything, even chocolate, which is just...craaazy.
And except of course for French things, which I'm pretty sure we
have decidedly disavowed, even though Freedom Fries never caught on. You
have to wonder about Americans sometimes, don't you? I didn't ever hear
anyone saying we should call February Freedomary! You know...because French.
But that's because Americans are stupid and they don't know that he world
comes from France).
The point being that apparently Latinizing feverere meant making it more
And that's it. No explanation of what Februarius is at all. So, what is
it's the ancient Roman word for February. How stupid is that Mental Floss
article? February is spelled like that because it comes from the ancient
Roman word Februarius. Sheesh. We didn't have to bring the French into it at
all. And Americans are not stupid for not calling February Freedomary after
I'm sorry, America. I shouldn't have assumed you were stupid. Okay. I can
get back to work now. Happy Freedomary one and all.
I went on a bit more with this theme at
The Sunshine State blog.
Happy New Year. Or just...New Year, if you prefer.
just read a great fantasy by Bruno Stella. I found this guy on a blog that I
frequent. He and I are both, apparently, starting out and searching for
readers. So, I gave his book a chance. His story,
The Man from the Tower, is a great example of why I pulled Story
Runners from print. I just know I can do better.
Fantasy is just not my strength. My strength lies in literary, downer
fiction--stuff they like to label "women's fiction" because the main character(s) and/or narrator(s) is/are women and the stories often deal with
"women's issues." Like...domestic violence is just a women's issue. Right.
I think it's because a man wouldn't want to be caught dead reading it.
Anyway, that's where my strength is. I write a great literary book. And not
literary in the sense that it's all about the language. No, not like that.
Literary in that it's dark, creepy, and doesn't end all that well. Is there
a better genre name for that? I call it literary because...I have no idea.
It just fits in there.
But I have fantasy stories in my head! I wrote
The Kell Stone Prophecy Trilogy and I think I did a great job. I
love that story and I always will. But I had something different in mind
when I finished Story Runners. And after several months, I realized I
didn't really get to where I'd intended to go with it.
Stella's The Man from the Tower is just filled with all those delights
I wanted to stuff into Story Runners. A complete, grown hero. A fully
realized world. Rules for magic. A villain worth the name, and with his own
character arc. It's just a great book and I can only hope to do as good a
job as Stella did, with mine.
And, interestingly enough, I think our books share one flaw: the title.
The Man from the Tower is not a good title. I'm just laying it out there.
It was the poor title that first got me thinking about changing Story
Runners. Let's face it, like The Man from the Tower, it sounds like
juvenile fiction. Once I'd decided I had to take the book out of print
anyway, to fix that, I realized I had the opportunity to just take it all
back and start over.
Isn't this independent publishing world fabulous?
Well, I've read some more good books, too. I loved
Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry. It's a shame that I found so many
parts of it to be surplus, and skimmed. But such a great story!
Walk Me Home was soooo good. As usual with Catherine Ryan Hyde
books. But you know, I haven't read all of them. Some of them don't sound
like I'd like them as much as others. But maybe they'll grow on me. She
Pay it Forward, the book that the film was based on. I don't think I
want to read that. I already know how it turns out.
That's not to say that I won't read any book after seeing the film. It was
Gone With the Wind that led me to the book when I was fifteen. The
weird thing is that I didn't know it was a book. They were showing it in the
theater in our small city and my best friend, at the time, and I saw it. I
was in love! She told me afterward about the book. We went to the library
and she found it. But it wasn't really "the book." It was in the format of a
coffee table book with photos. And I think there were two volumes. I knew
something was off about it and didn't check either of them out. I wish I
could find those books so I would know what it was I had been looking at.
Anyway, that Christmas, my parents bought me my first copy of Gone With
the Wind. (I still have it. A mass-market paperback so worn and loved
that I had to purchase another copy. I also have a few hardcover editions.)
I devoured it. Except for the parts that I skimmed over. Like, the part when
the O'Haras are riding over to the barbeque at Twelve Oaks and they meet up
with Mrs. Tarleton. Boring to a fifteen year old girl infatuated with Rhett
Butler. (No wimpy Ashley Wilkes for me!) But as I read it again and again,
and grew up, I stopped skipping parts. Still my favorite book of all time.
Maybe I'll give it another read this year. I think I stopped counting at
seventeen. So, we'll say it'll be eighteen this time.
So, 2015 is coming to an end. I've enjoyed some wonderful books this
year. Someone asked me recently how I find books to read. It might seem like
a silly question to some, but it's not really. We used to go to the
bookstore and peruse the shelves, pulling books off, reading the back copy,
opening them up and reading a bit of the first chapter. Now we go online to
Amazon and...what? We have to search. We can search in categories, but we
only get the top sellers at first. It's tough to dig deep and find those
rare reads that nobody's talking about. But thinking back on it, the truth
is that at the bookstore, we only got the biggest sellers, too. Stores
aren't going to carry books that few people buy. Amazon carries them all.
ALL of them. Even the worst of the worst drivel. But one man's drivel is
another's treasure...maybe...nah. Some books are pure trash.
So, how do I find books? Sometimes I browse Amazon, search categories,
bestseller lists, or also viewed, also-boughts, and recommended for me. And
sometimes I search right on my Kindle for the monthly deals. I think I find
most of my books that way.
refuse to pay ten or more dollars for an ebook unless it's an author I
absolutely love or a book I just really, really want to read. It's
rare for me to do so. And I have been burned by an author I loved. I loved
all of his other books; let's just say that. So, I like cheap ebooks.
don't find books through any recommendation emails, though. I don't
subscribe to any of those review blogs I've heard about. I just...browse.
But if you've got a great book that you think I'll love, be sure to drop me
an email and let me know about it. You can contact me at
I've done a lot of reading since I blogged last. I finally read
Flowers for Algernon. I was afraid it was going to make me cry, but it
didn't. I found a lot of the dialogue funny--sounded as if it came right out
of an old movie. But I'm weird about dialogue. I went into a bit of a
non-fiction phase. I tried to read a Debbie Reynolds autobiography, but it
turned out to be the second one. I am always more interested in childhoods,
and how the subject became who they are today. (Or were. Is she still
alive?) Anyway, it was incredibly boring, so I didn't finish it. I'm back on
fiction again, though. I'm reading Middlesex now. I found a print
copy in a used bookstore a while ago and I'm finally tackling it. It's huge.
In my opinion, it didn't have to be. So much mundane information getting in
the way of the story. I skim a lot. But I still like it. And I was glad to
read The Leaving of Things, another novel set in India. Got the bad taste of
The Kite Runner out of my mouth...head? You know what I mean.
Sometimes I'm in the minority when it comes to book bandwagons. Take
The Kite Runner. I suppose I get why people love it. I certainly did
have an emotional response to it. I can forgive a lot if I get a strong
emotional reaction. But there was too much to forgive with that one. My
three main problems were these: 1. No coincidence, no symbolism, was subtle.
It was all in your face and that wasn't even enough. The narrator then had
to go one step further and point out the symbolism and the coincidence. It
was awful. 2. There were parts that were mind-numbingly boring. And 3. The
Disney-esque evil villain started monologuing! Monologuing about how he came
to be the evil man he is today. I'm sorry. A wonderful story that could have
been so fabulous! Anyway, I broke one of my rules and gave it only two
starts at Goodreads and then remembered that I had a rule about that, so I
cleared those stars. I will not star rate anything that I can't give at
least three stars to. It's just not nice.
hear they're making a movie of The Kite Runner. I bet it will be a
lot better than the book because they'll clean it up a bit. I'll have
another book to add to my tiny list of "books that weren't as good as their
I tried to read Far From the Madding Crowd. A few times. I just
couldn't do it. It was so boring, I couldn't stand it. I'll wait for the
movie...on streaming. I like a good classic; but it's got to be a good
I'm finding it harder to find new books to read. So many of them are boring
to me. Have I become an impatient reader? Maybe it's just a mood and I'll
get over it. Or maybe I just need to read Gone with the Wind again.
Or all the Harry Potters. I'm certainly having no luck at all finding good
romantic comedies to read. Maybe that's not even a genre! Well, that's just
too bad because I'm writing one.
I'm off to the mountains next week for a change of scenery. That ought to do
me some good. I read a few really great books the week I went to Boston last
year. I'm afraid I might not have the same experience this trip. For one
thing, no long plane trip. And for another, lots of exhausting hiking up
mountains. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep my eyes open in the evenings
for reading. But I'll try.
After I read Little Women, I went on a quest to read more
fantasy, and some romantic comedy. My goal was to learn more about each
genre to help my own writing. Thus, The Name of the Wind, Boy
Meets Girl, and An Idiot in Love. After An Idiot in Love I
downloaded a bunch of free ebooks in the romantic comedy genre and sampled
them all. I didn't read any of them. Hubs says they were bad because they
were free, which isn't quite true, I'm sure. But what he meant was...if I
want to learn what makes a really good romcom, I should probably read the
bestsellers and pay a bit for them. But then he added, "You know you're
going to write yours however you want to anyway, so why read them?" He may
have a point.
When I saw there was a new Nick Hornby, I grabbed it. I was so excited. And
then I read it. I can't believe I paid twelve bucks for it. What happened
there? It was mostly telling, as opposed to showing. Telling=boring. The
characters were also boring. I'm so disappointed I don't know what to think.
An Idiot in Love was pretty cute. The guy could have been a bit more
idiotic in the middle. But I suppose idiotic is in the eye of the beholder.
What I mean is...he wasn't so idiotic that, at the end, when he went full
blown idiot, it didn't make me think..."Seriously?" I mean...that was
really, really stupid. But I still laughed at him.
Well, surprisingly (to me) I did not like
Little Women. At all. I think I'll stream the film--I have no doubt
it's a lot better than the book. I found the book to be no more than a lot
of sentimental, moralizing nothing. Hmph.
Next, I'll read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Hubs and I
had a Barnes & Noble gift card so we actually went into a hard copy book
store. I chose a fantasy novel, the aforementioned, and a romantic comedy. I
think "romantic comedy" is a film genre, not a book genre. I'm not sure yet
what they call them in books, but I'll find out.
Anyway, I chose
The Name of the Wind based on the cover (very cool), the title
(sounds literary), the fact that there's a blurb by
Ursula Le Guin on
the back of it (loved
A Wizard of Earthsea, but not the second of The Earthsea Cycle
series and so didn't read any more), and the description...and that it's in
first person, which I found intriguing.
point being that I didn't realize the book was part of a series until I went
to Amazon to find the link for this blog. And what do you think the subtitle
is? It's The Kingkiller Chronicles, Day One.
Day one? Day one??? It's 722 freakin' pages and it's only day one? Holy cow.
I'm not so sure about it now, but, whatever. I do like big, thick books. But
day one? Okay, I'm a little scared.
Before those dreadful little women, I read
Eternal Night by Jade Kerrion,
first in the Aeternae Noctis series. I wouldn't normally choose a
book about vampires, or vampire like creatures. It's just not my thing. But
Jade's book won first place in the fantasy category in the Royal Palm
Literary Awards last year (2014) while my book
Children of Path took second place. So, naturally I had to read
Eternal Night. I really liked it. It was beautifully written and packed
with action. I definitely recommend it. And I have to say, I may very well
I got an email from Amazon telling me I purchased a book, which happens
often. I didn't recognize the title so assumed it was my husband's purchase,
but it was rather expensive for his typical buying habit. So I asked him
about it and he had no idea what it was. I was like, what?
And then I remembered! I preordered the newest Craig Lancaster book,
The Fallow Season of Hugo Hunter. Can't wait to get into that
Critical Failures III by Robert Bevan thinking it was the final of
the series. But no, we're back in the Caverns and Creatures world and
looking forward to more! It's always nice when a series you love goes on for
a while. I still miss
Lawhead's Robin Hood series; but sometimes a story just has to end, I
guess. I think I donated my copies of those, but I would totally buy them
again in a few years. I think I will...
Then I read
The Understudy by David Nicholls. I loved it! I was so mad at the
main character in the middle of it and so satisfied with the ending. I can't
say I like being that angry with a character, because it causes me anxiety,
but apparently making me mad is one of the hallmarks of a great book. (Can a
thing have more than one hallmark?)
Well, the holidays are upon us. I hope you all find time to read during the
The ending of Horatio
Hornblower and the Atropos was upsetting. His children have small
pox! And the book just ended there! That wasn't nice at all. And when I
Edward Adrift, it sounded very much like the end...like we won't be
getting any more Edward books from Lancaster. I really liked that guy! But
he won't be as much fun if he gets too normal anyway.
Are you ever in the middle of reading a book when you realize that the
characters in it just aren't real? And then you remember other books you've
read whose characters lived on the page? I do that more and more often these
days. I'm finding my patience with fake characters running thin. And what is
it that makes a character real, as opposed to merely an actor performing for
I'm pretty sure that's what it is. When I find myself reading dialogue that
I just can't believe--whether it's believing that particular character would
say such a thing, or that any person on earth would talk like that--I
realize they're fake. I'm not involved in the story anymore; I'm suddenly
hearing the author behind the words painting what she thinks is a pretty
picture. When I read dialogue like that, I know that the characters aren't
real for the author any more than they are for me. She's positioned them in
a scene and now she's putting words in their mouths. They're marionettes and
she holds the strings. I come away from books like that with a "meh"
Little Bee by Chris Cleave, I found Little Bee herself, and the women
who left the immigration facility with her, alive on the page. They were
real people inside Cleave's imagination. Strangely enough, I found the other
main character artificial and dead. That happens often, I'm afraid.
think most people accept fake characters more easily than I do. I think they
might even like them that way. They like characters to make grand speeches,
talk in poetry, use words they aren't likely to even know, to be more
romantic, more passionate, more eloquent than a normal person would be. I
think they want the characters in books and films to be idealized, removed
think that because I rarely hear anyone complaining about it.
remembering suffering through the film The Last Airbender. I loved
the television show and this film slaughtered it--took something real and
funny and good and ripped out its vital organs, leaving them shredded
on the floor. At one point, screenplay writer M. Night Shyamalan has
Princess Yue actually say, "It is time we show the Fire Nation that we
believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in theirs." I laughed out
loud. If I'm laughing at your dialogue, I'm not happy.
I blogged about my experience rereading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
took a week and went up north to Boston to see all of the historical sights.
I didn't get any writing done, but I read three books! I took my paperback
of Unraveling Oliver with me, and when it was obvious I would finish
too soon, hubs and I found an actual bookstore where I purchased The
Giver. It looked like I'd finish it on the plane home (I did and nearly
cried in public) and be left staring at the back of the seat in front of me,
so at the airport I bought Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
and I just finished that at home last night (the final day of vacation).
That's a great vacation! And think about it--it's time to get back to
work, but I'll still get to read. Not so much so quickly, but every evening.
There's a little vacation in every day.
I remember as I was reading The Bell Jar, wondering if I'd
purchased the real book. I read it on the Kindle, and there was a suspicion
there, that somehow I'd gotten a fake copy and wasn't really reading the
actual book at all. But I probably was. It just wasn't what I expected it to
be. It was only in the afterword that I learned that when it was released,
it wasn't all that well received.
problems with the book were two:
1. I don't care for authors who are purposefully vague. I think they think
it's artsy. But to me, it's an insult. I don't like having to go back and
reread a passage to figure out what happened. Oh, she's fallen? Oh, has she
been physically attacked? What the heck did she do to the diamond? I'm not
sure I ever figured out how her face was bruised in her suicide attempt. Oh,
I suppose an argument could be made that Plath was being vague because that
was her state of mind at the time. But I have a hard time imagining someone
being suicidal because they're not fully there. Maybe that's my bias, but
that was the worst thing about it. I was left to wonder why, because she
never really gave me the sense of it. I never felt like I was in her head,
understanding. I get that she must not have understood, either. But if
you're going to tell me about a suicidal woman, put me there. Make me
suicidal. Is that too much to ask?
After that I tried two books that I ended up having to set aside. The first
was House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini. I was so
disappointed. Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story was light, sure,
but it was well written. Chris Columbus directed some of the Harry Potter
movies, among other good films. And the description of the story sounded so
fabulous. But it was awful. Just awful.
There was head hopping like crazy, from one character to the next. The
characters were unlikable. And the blatantly obvious attempt at moralizing
(to get the book and and get back home to their parents, they've got to
behave selfishly, which, we're certain will teach us some valuable lessons)
didn't work for me. When Brendan does behave selfishly, it's so incredibly
stupid I didn't buy it, and when he had the book he needed to save them all,
in his hands, and threw it away!...well, that was it for me. Actually, I did
continue reading until I realized it was just going to be that, over and
over again, and I decided I'd had enough.
And then I tried a book about dragons. And you know what, it was a real
drag...on. It dragged. On and on. And on. Nothing happened! Finally, I got
to the part where I thought the story was going to start! A dragon egg
hatched! It's time; we got the boring stuff out of the way! Let's go! Take
me on a wild dragon ride. No! Wait! What? Where is our would-be hero going?
To town? Wth? And I closed the book.
wasn't too many years ago that I was still boasting that there was only one
book I'd ever not finished. But now that I'm getting older, and realizing
there are too many books and too little time, I'm choosing not to continue
if I don't want to. That's all there is to it, really. If I just don't want
to, I won't.
I've done a lot of good reading since I blogged last. I guess I can see
what the fuss was about regarding the ending of
Gone Girl. I was okay
with it, myself. Life isn't always fair. The bad guy doesn't always get what
he deserves, and I would rather have an ending that makes me uncomfortable
than one that's pat and cliche. But I suppose they'll ruin all of that in
I'm not sure why I wanted to read Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Duggar's
stories. They were interesting enough, I suppose. Sad, of course. I imagine
writing them was therapeutic.
usual, I enjoyed
Critical Failures II. He's got everyone waiting for the third book
Water for Elephants was a pretty good read. I was going to watch the
film afterward, but it's got that vampire guy in it. I don't swoon over him
as so many others do, so I might not. Now, if it were Orlando Bloom, I'd
have it rented by now.
I'm almost finished with
now. I might go straight to
Dust and get it over with. It's a really, really good series of
books. When's the movie? That's what I want to know.
I feel bad about being slightly disappointed in Ned Vizzini's
It's Kind of a Funny Story. I read it after I learned of his
suicide. He jumped off the roof of an apartment building. And because I was
still reeling a bit from
Camelia, in which suicide by jumping from an apartment building
figures prominently, I felt a kinship of sorts with Vizzini. The story is
supposed to be semi-autobiographical, about the time he spent in the psych
ward when he was a teenager. I suppose I was expecting to be brought into
his mind and to an understanding of his depression.
commenter at Amazon, who didn't like the book, said it was just the story of
a privileged kid who couldn't handle the stress of going to a competitive,
top-ranked high school. And that's pretty much true about the book.
was kept at arms length, I thought. I never really understood what it was
like to want to jump from a bridge and kill yourself. And it seemed to me
that this was just that type of story in which the author should have made
me feel that. But I didn't. And I have to wonder if Vizzini just couldn't go
that deep and when I wonder that, I understand.
I've read some really wonderful books in the last few weeks. I loved
Wool. I was so afraid it was going to be a complete downer like Game
of Thrones, but it wasn't. And next to my bed are the next two books in
that series. I'm looking forward to them, but I won't be reading them just
yet. The Book Thief was absolutely fabulous. I can't wait to see the
movie. The Fault in Our Stars was very touching.
The Literary Connoisseur compared my writing to Green's and I can see
why. He has that same casual ease that I get when I'm writing first-person.
Of Mice and Men was troubling, but somehow very satisfying...like
you've just gone through a powerful life-changing event. And Theory of
Remainders was beautiful. What a wonderful way to end up the year in
I think I lost track of my books. I may have missed one between Bab:
A Sub-Deb and Game of Thrones; but I can't remember. Game of
Thrones was difficult. There was no character to which to
connect--everybody dies. Well, okay, I'm exaggerating; but once you realize
that all the good people are going to either die, or be hurt, you stop
letting yourself form any kind of attachment. As the story progresses, you
begin to realize that there won't be a happy ending.
I'm not insistent on the happy ending, but I guess I need some happiness in
between--some kind of light to move towards. A light that isn't going to be
Now I'm nearly finished with Wool, and I'm not finding it much better
in that regard. Is this a new trend?
I've read two books now for which the film was much, much better. The
first was Amy Tan's
The Joy Luck Club. And now,
The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
The book reads like Charlie is just a normal kid who has a bit of a problem.
In the end, I guess we're suppose to realize that Charlie had a really big
problem. But there wasn't enough build up for my liking. There were not
enough glimpses into Charlie's deeply troubled psyche, or rather, the
glimpses we had were not deep enough.
got a little bored, but kept on. It was a good book. But not a great one.
The film was much better. The film made you squeamish, it scared you a bit.
You knew something awful was lurking in Charlie's past, and you were pretty
sure by some point what it was. You cried! But not in the book. The book
lacked the intensity of the film.
was the same with The Joy Luck Club. I bawl like a baby whenever I
watch it. Any daughter with a difficult relationship with her mother will
feel the catharsis in watching it. But the book was flat--especially the
ending which in the film version brings on that last wave of sobbing.
It's a very rare phenomenon, in my opinion, for a film to be better than the
book. But there it is...
I could not connect with
The Casual Vacancy at all; so I took it off my list. After all, I
couldn't say "just read" when I couldn't finish it. I found it tedious and
slow. I kept arguing with the narrator, begging her to stop with the telling
and just show me instead. And once I thought the story was finally taking
off, she backed off again and gave me a dozen paragraphs of a kid thinking
sexually about a girl. Okay, I might be exaggerating, but that's what it
felt like. So, after four reading sessions, I gave up. I skimmed to the back
of the book and saw some of the drama; I'm okay with giving up.
I'm itching to get to a book on my Kindle, but instead, I chose
Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore. I need a good
laugh and he never disappoints.
I enjoyed Robert Bevan's
Critical Failures quite a bit. Looks like it will be a great series.
Check out my earlier entry about Bevan's crazy sales pitches on Twitter. So
often the pitches are dull, even strange. I find myself reading them and
thinking...that's what they're using to get me to want to read their
book? Maybe someone should teach a class in Twitter pitches. Or maybe I'm
just hypercritical. (Very possible.)
When I finished Critical Failures, I thought I was finally up to the
task of tackling
East of Eden. I knew it would be sad, and it was; but it was also
beautiful and inspiring. I loved so many passages, I tagged them and quoted
them on Twitter. Yes, they were that fabulous!
Afterward, I really needed a Christopher Moore title to perk me up again. It
must be working. I'm nearly finished with
Practical Demonkeeping and found myself laughing at all the really
stupid stuff on television!
think a lot of people are hesitant to read the classics; I used to be. I
think I tried to read Wuthering Heights and
A Tale of Two Cities long, long ago (maybe I was too young) and
couldn't get into them. So I thought that all classics would be dull and
wordy. Then, at some point after I had children, I decided I would read as
many classics as I could. I was fascinated and delighted to find that
they're not elusive or haughty; they're just novels. War and Peace,
Anna Karenina, Sons and Lovers, Vanity Fair. They're
just wonderful stories, well told.
But I don't think I'm ever going to approach
Moby Dick or Don Quixote.
A Suitable Boy feels like a momentous occasion so I thought I'd post
a blog. It was a wonderfully rich story of India; I've heard it described as
a soap opera, but I would give it more credit than that. It was definitely
an epic drama and yet it was quiet, in its way.
Next on my list is
Critical Failures by Robert Bevan. The only reason I chose this book
is Bevan himself. Of all the authors touting their wares on Twitter, his
pitches were the only ones that made me want to actually buy his book. If
it's anything like the pitches, the book will be a wild, raunchy ride. I'm
not usually one to go for raunch, but if it's funny, I'll like it.
Here are a few examples of his sales method:
"Equal parts disturbing and hilarious, like walking in on your mom blowing a
"Show me on the doll where this story touched you."
"It's like that friend who gives you a kidney... from a hobo... and you
didn't need a kidney."
"All the same great fun as the ebook, but now with the added satisfaction of
having murdered a tree."
"It's like sex with a stranger. A whole lot of fun, and the proper
medication will probably sort you out afterwards."
Seriously, the guy deserves a medal for marketing on Twitter!
Somehow I missed a month of blogging about my fiction reads. It was
probably Raintree County
that did it. That was a tough read. There was a wonderful story in that
book, but I had to wade through (and skim over) pages and pages of political
pontificating, fuzzy dream sequences, and waxing philosophical and poetical
to find it. Less is more; trust me. But I will say that when I came to the
end, I felt better for having read it and thought one day I might give it
another go with a tad more dedication to the politics and dreams.
Feed was weird, but cool enough to keep my attention and the
Amulet of Samarkand was pretty good--but not good enough to make me
want to read more in the series right away (Like
Hood). There are just too many books to read...but maybe one day.
Right now, I'm deep into (though not quite half through)
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. A heavy, 1500 page tome, this book is
rich and layered and I love it. I was warned that there was quite a bit of
politics in it, but so far it's handled very well and not skim-worthy a
la Raintree County at all. I highly recommend it. And if you like
big books, you'll love it. It's like five books worth all in one.
May is almost done. Finally, the weather is heating up. (Not that I'm
happy about it; it's just more normal, that's all.) I still remember the
days I dared not hold a garage sale in March for disgust at the heat and
humidity. But this spring seemed mild and tolerable. Maybe I'm just spending
too much time indoors.
I'm so glad I made the decision to stop doing crossword puzzles every
evening before reading. I've read so much more! I finished Anne of
Avonlea last night. It wasn't nearly as enchanting as the first book,
but still a sweet (if not sometimes a tad Pollyanna-ish) story. I almost
reached for A Suitable Boy. But I'm just not ready yet. There are so
many books that I purchased very long ago that have been waiting their turn
patiently. It just seems unfair to choose that enormous tome that would take
me all summer to get through before them.
I started two books after Anne of Green Gables and couldn't get
far in either one. The first was a romance. I admit I thought there was
going to be more to it than that, but there wasn't...apparently. The writing
wasn't bad; I just found the story and characters a bit immature, for my
tastes. It's set in Regency England and at one point, early in the book, our
heroine arrives home from a party drunk. Her mother sends for the new male
servant (a gorgeous guy) and allows him to escort her drunken daughter to
her room alone. I just couldn't buy that. I closed the book. But I'm not
inclined toward romance, anyway.
The second book was also well-written...grammatically speaking. It promised
to be a rich and powerful story of child abuse and stalking. But it read
like a case history with a bit of dialogue thrown in. I struggled from the
beginning to engage with the characters, but I was kept at arm's length. I
started skimming in the second chapter. Not a good sign at all. Finally, I
turned to the back and read the last chapter; I feel like I got the gist of
the story just as much that way, and faster, than the tedious read the style
promised. I was so disappointed. This story had so much promise. If only the
author took to heart that age-old advice: show, don't tell!
The first proof copy of
The Wretched is on
its way! Love seeing my books in print...
I'm just giddy over
Anne of Green Gables. I love this book! I love Anne! And now I'm
angry at my mother for never telling me about these books when I was a
little girl. What got into her? She was clearly also reading deprived as a
I've just returned from a research trip to Alabama. My blog about the
cemetery visit, "Where
death is held more sacred than life," is at
The Sunshine State blog.
(It was formerly at the now defunct
Wayward Cat Publishing blog.)
I'm in the last quarter of The Sword of Shannara. It's an okay
story but, I suppose, just not my cup of tea. Too much narration,
description, on and on. No wonder it's such a fat little book. I like the
characters well enough, but I don't care for the head hopping. Maybe head
hopping works in fantasy. It keeps you a tad distant from the characters,
never getting too intimate. Give it all a god-like feel...hmm?
The Wretched, The Kell Stone Prophecy: Book Two is complete. Its
cover is in the works and will be published soon. So much to do! Formatting,
Library of Congress, ISBN assignments. This is the real work of writing
fiction--the rest is pleasure.
Struggling to finish the first draft of
The Story Runner. But
in the struggle, I find I'm gaining wonderful insights on the story and how
the ending should be. Maybe the struggle (the
hell of writing) is necessary for the craft (the heaven).
Stayed up really late last night finishing
Proscriptii. Really great story. So, what shall I read next? I think
I'll go for
Five Children and It by E. Nesbit. Looks like a quick and easy read.
I'm working hard on my books due in 2013.
The Wretched, the
second book in The Kell
Stone Prophecy series is almost complete and will soon be put to its
rest, before a final edit. I'm not sure where to go after that. I suppose I
should finish up The Story
Runner first. And then move on to finish
All in all, I'm beginning to get used to working on writing more regularly.
Giving up the teaching of
Zumba was a big help. I miss the
dancing, but my feet wouldn't allow it, anyway. And I'm getting fat! I'll
have to go on a fast of some sort after the holidays. But I'm not all that
opposed to being pudgy. Pudgy people get to enjoy food, after all.
I really enjoyed
Finn Flanagan and the Fledglings. Lots of fun and excitement and
I'm in the middle of a wonderful book right now. The story is wonderful, but
the prose very awkward. The author certainly has a strong command of
vocabulary and sentence structure, it's the flow and rhythm that is lacking.
It's as if he never bothered to read his own work for timing and smoothness.
Luckily for him, the story is carrying me through despite him.
Here are his trouble spots; we should all learn and avoid them in our own
Repeated information. Again and again we are told the same information.
Never treat your reader as if she's stupid. And if you feel you absolutely
must repeat information, at least use different words.
Repeated words and phrases, not just within paragraphs, but even within
sentences. This makes for awkward, choppy reading.
Stilted dialogue, especially that used for information dumps. Look, it's
okay to use dialogue to feed a bit of information to your reader, but you
must be very careful and rather sly. Don't just have your characters tell
each other things, especially things they should already know, and expect
your reader not to feel the urge to giggle. Make sure all of your characters
don't talk the same! Make dialogue natural, and individual, whenever
Learn how to use punctuation in quotations. This author almost universally
(I found only one exception so far) misuses the question mark. He does
something like this: "Why is that so hard to do," the snobby reviewer asked?
hope he writes another book; but I hope his writing is improved by it.
It's almost Halloween, and just as I always remembered, the weather has
turned suddenly windy and cool just in time for the start of the holiday
season. It won't likely stay this way, but being able to turn on the heat
for a day or two puts me in a good enough mood to last through to the heat
Master and Commander. I had to force myself to do it. The book is
very formal and very vague. The only thing detailed is all the seafaring
jargon. Shoot, at the end, I didn't even know there was a battle looming
until someone actually came out and said it. I liked the reality of it. You
don't realize, I suppose, that it can take hours for ships to overtake one
another at sea--time enough for meals for the captain and crew. You don't
realize the crew can have whores on board, or be flogged for being drunk.
(It's actually the realization they can be that drunk that gets you.)
Still, I didn't feel that I came to know the characters all that intimately
or felt any desire to know them better.
I'm reading sea books now. I didn't think I would like them, but I have to
write some exploits at sea some time in the future, so I forced myself. I
started with a middle grade adventure on a whaling ship with Patience
Goodspeed. Very enjoyable and such an easy read for an adult. And now I've
moved to the
Hornblower series. Book one. And, if I can stand it, after that I'll
move to the first of Captain Aubrey's adventures in
Master and Commander.
When I say, "if I can stand it," I mean if I can stand to not continue on
with Hornblower. I'm heartily in love with his story and I've only finished
the second chapter.
The first thing I find interesting here is that Patience's last name is
Goodspeed, and Horatio's is Hornblower. Such coincidences. I'll be sure not
to follow in those footsteps.
Well, I finally finished reading
The Underwear Dare. It's one of those books that is so challenging
to your worldview that you have to take it in small pieces. Hah! I'm joking,
people. It's a fart book for fifth-grade boys! So, forgive me for picking it
up, reading half and putting it down for a month or so. It was really cute,
and funny, and full of farts, burps, and vomit. Boys will love it.
Fifty-year old women, eh, not so much.
I don't believe in ghosts. Or spirits of any kind. I don't believe in fate,
or predestination, or black cats, or broken mirrors, or anything like that.
I don't know how a tattered, worn copy of
Diary by Chuck
Palahniuk found its way onto a bookshelf in my reading room. I don't
know how it got into my house. I don't know who
Breven Gaines is or
why her name is written on the inside front cover, or how her book got all
the way across the country and into my home.
All I know is I found this book on my bookshelf. I
thought it was a young adult book for my youngest son, until I read the
"Acclaim for Chuck Palahniuk's Diary" page. Then I thought, cool, right up
my alley. So I'm reading it. Now I may have to read all of Palahniuk's
Well...I finally finished reading The Paradise War. It's book one of
a series and while I found it rather enjoyable, it was not at all gripping.
It seemed to take me forever to finish because I just didn't care to get
back to it. So, it's not likely I'll read more of the series. The experience
of reading it wasn't anything like reading Lawhead's Robin Hood series. I'd
read those again!
haven't chosen my next book yet. I still have a stack on my dresser; but I
also have a new Kindle. I can't decide if I should put the hard copies onto
the Kindle, just so I won't be wasting it. But that seems a waste of the
hard copies, doesn't it?
A new year already!
I've reworked my Fenn book; turned it back into a five-book series within a
series. I'll pitch it to an agent at the Space Coast Writer's Guild
conference this month. I'm working furiously to finish the first book in my
other middle grade fantasy adventure series. Maybe I can pitch two!
I think I have finally come up with a winning
mainstream idea! It's eerie and a little weird. Perfect.
For my next book, I chose My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and
Stand-Up by Russell Brand. To quote my oldest son, the book thus far is
"surprisingly uninteresting." I started reading it in a British accent and
it's helping a little bit.
I didn't read much this past spring and summer. My husband was away for
months at a time, and there was something not right about a quiet bedroom at
night. So, I kept the television on and did crossword puzzles instead.
(Though I see I read quite a few books while I was visiting him in Iowa!)
But I did manage to stumble through Tell Me Lies
by Jennifer Crusie. It was a bit stilted; sounded like it came straight out
of a critique group in many spots. Some of the sex scenes must have been
pages and pages long. I skipped them. (I'm really not interested in the
mechanics of people's love-making unless someone is going to come up to them
in the middle of it and do something...anything--preferably involving an
ax.) But there were several redeeming qualities in character and humor.
don't know what to read next. Vanity Fair?
The Princess Bride? Another one by Lawhead? And of course, Atlas
Shrugged sits on the stack daring me. Just the thought of struggling
through to a point where it might, possibly become interesting makes me
cringe. But determination will win out one day. We'll see.
Finished the YA zombie book and it's away! The Fenn book is still making the
rounds as well. This year, early, I will finish the middle-grade zombie book
(I think the zombie phase is over now) and then move on to Elyse's story and
the 'story runner' novel. I haven't abandoned the 'friends' book, nor the
'wife' novel, but they are on the backburner.
I spent the last weekend at Disney World. Had a great time. The week before
I bought some shoes, just for the occasion. I wore them around the house for
a couple of days, because, well, everyone knows you don't wear new shoes to
Disney World, right? My husband told me that wasn't good enough. He said I
needed to go for a really, really long walk in them. I poo-pooed that.
They're really, really comfortable, I told him. They feel great!
the first day we went to Epcot for the International Food & Wine Festival.
We weren't parked very far from the entrance, so we ignored the tram and
walked. Once inside, by the big white ball, I knew I was in trouble. My new
shoes were rubbing against my pinky toes. Great! Just great!
the end of our day, late afternoon, I knew I needed some bandages for my
toes. I didn't want to pay four bucks a pop at Epcot's first aid station, so
we stopped off at a convenience store before heading over to a putt-putt
golf place. I struggled, even with the bandages. But I did my best not to
complain. And my husband did his best not to say I told you so too many
The next day, I double-bandaged my left pinky toe and singled the right. But
they still hurt badly. We went to the Magic Kingdom and I opted for riding
every chance we got. By late afternoon, I could barely walk. We stopped at a
shop in Adventureland and I bought a $22 pair of flip-flops! Oh, the
ecstasy! My toes were thrilled with the expensive shoes. And we left the
park about an hour and a half later. But that was a pain-free hour and a
half and I was grateful.
Feet, I have learned, are very important. We should take great care of them.
They could rule the world.
I'm off to my high school reunion tomorrow. I've no real idea why. My
husband said it would be good research. I spent a week shopping for
something to wear. I hate shopping. I lost at least a week of writing. But
no doubt I'll come back strong on Monday and write myself silly.
I'm not at all sociable. I don't really enjoy the company of other humans,
except for my husband (most of the time) and my children. For the most part,
you're all curious and annoying. And high school was not at all the best
time of my life--far from it. High school was awkward and heart rending and
embarrassing and shameful. Why do I want to go back and see those faces
You know the honest truth? I think I go back to show them that I'm here and
that I survived and that if they remember me at all the way I remember
myself, I came through it. And I won't hide from it. I came out the better
for it, in many ways. But I'm finding that a lot of my former classmates do
not remember me as I do. They seem to think I was "sweet" and "cheerful."
Well, there's good in that, I guess.
The stack of books on my dresser just keeps growing. I keep purchasing new
books to read, instead of finishing off the stack first. I apologize to all
the authors there. Luckily, they're blissfully ignorant. Twilight
shouldn't take me much time to finish. It's no Nicholas Nickleby. But
some days I can't read (there's television to watch on certain nights, you
know). I'm enjoying the book so far, despite the frustration of the writing
technique (which isn't all that bad). But a friend of mine has said, and
it's been corroborated in a recent
article, that the relationship between the two main characters is not
healthy. This isn't enough to make me hate the book, but it might disgust me
enough to keep me from reading any other books in the series. Like I have
time to do that anyway.
And of course, I completely forgot about Hood. It's sitting here in a
pile of things on my desk, instead of in my dresser stack. I only remembered
it because I glanced below at my last entry. Sometimes it feels as if my
time should be spent reading instead of writing, but that's ridiculous of
I'm at a struggling point in both the novels I'm working on now. There's
nothing for it but to persevere, muddle through, plod on, until I reach that
better point during which I'm excited about writing. Too bad that point
doesn't last the whole way through.
I read Poppy yesterday, by Avi. I see that Poppy is book two
and Ragweed is book one. That's just awful. (You just have to read
the first six pages to understand why.)
can't decide if I want to start reading
Hood during the day now and save Nicholas Nickleby for night,
because I might end up spending more time with Hood and end up
putting Nickleby aside. I've already set two books aside that I have
to get back to.
A Short Bio
Dianna Dann Trantham was born in December of 1961, in Orlando, and now
resides in Brevard County, Florida. While she has been fortunate enough to
have visited parts of Europe; lived for a year in Denver; traveled to many
fabulous places such as Arizona, Yellowstone, Roswell NM and more in the
American West, Florida and its Keys, San Francisco, Boston, and North
Carolina; and spent an entire summer in Baltimore, she has resigned herself
to the idea of spending the rest of her life, and dying, in Brevard County.
Dianna began writing as a young person and completed one book in junior high
school and another in high school. Fortunately, these novels were seen only
by her friends and their state of existence now is unknown. She wrote a
short story that was published in the Titusville High School anthology known
as Impetus in the spring of 1978. It was a maudlin story about a little old
man named Ollie and his memories.
After school, Dianna began a downward spiral into life and didn't come up
for sanity until she was about 27, at which time she met a man who had a
most bizarre outlook on life. She realized she shared his outlook and
married him. She then proceeded to put many things in the way of a much
desired writing career: a bachelor's degree in history; a full-time job at a
bookstore as manager; three children; teaching Zumba, etc. She claimed she
was getting experience, as many authors do. And she did produce a smattering
of writing during that time.
Dianna was published a couple of times in Scribblers of Brevard's annual
anthology: Driftwood. She won the Space Coast Writers Guild's annual short
fiction competition twice. And she began to receive some encouraging
rejections from editors of literary journals. Then she stopped writing. No
one knows why and perhaps one day college students will ponder those
nonproductive years with awe and reverence. (Just kidding!)
Finally, in 2007, Dianna, getting old and hitting her stride, began to
understand the first rule of writing: writers write. She completed three
books that year. And in January of 2008, she learned the second rule of
writing: writers send their work to editors who can pay them. A few years
later she learned a third and better rule: the road to success lies now with
And so, she embarked on a career of writing, finally.
Her children are grown and she is lucky enough to not have another job. She
has always been adept at managing cats on the desk. Our hopes for her
success are high.
She can be reached at
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