Monday, September 28, 2009

Books I've Read this Year - Part 5

This is a continuation from last July's lists of the books I've read. If you're interested here are parts one, two, three, and four.

Continuing where I left off puts me at book number 55.

55) The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen by Mitali Perkins. I actually read an older version with the original title The Sunita Experiment. Ever since I've become twitter friends with the incomparable Mitali Perkins I've been searching out her books. I've loved each one I've read so far and must find more. I grew up in the dominant culture of the area so I did not experience the straddling cultures that Mitali talks about in this book, but many of my children's friends have parents from India or Pakistan (in fact my kids have had several friends move to India or Pakistan over the past couple of years) so I can relate in one small way that way. But the book isn't about being Indian in America, it's about figuring out who you are and every teenager goes through that.

56) Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors. It's got Shakespeare and time travel, what's not to like? When Mimi, who's been busy playing Juliet on stage, finds herself living out Romeo and Juliet in a bizarre alternate universe, she has to save the star-crossed lovers from their tragic fate.

57) The Servants' Quarters by Lynn Freed. Set in post World War II England this book didn't really capture my fancy, and now, two months later, I'm not really sure why.

58) The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale. This was a wonderful, hard-to-classify book. Some parts had me laughing out loud and others had me crying. It's a romance, but it's not. Does it have a "happily ever after?". Hard to say. But I can't imagine it ending any other way than how it did.

59) Best Friends Forever: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner. I haven't found a book by Jennifer Weiner that I haven't enjoyed. This one was no exception. Two best friends, who sometimes wonder why they put up with the other; but they need each other and have a interesting adventure along the way.

60) Secrets of Cirque Medrano by Elaine Scott. I don't know why this should be, but books about circuses tend to freak me out. This one wasn't completely about a circus, but it did have circus elements in it. It was more about Pablo Picasso as seem from the point of view of a girl who happens to work in the cafe he frequents. I also don't care for books that try to be about a famous person by having then show up peripherally in the life of the main character. But despite my own misgivings, I found the story well written and enjoyable.

61) The Navel of the World by PJ Hoover. I've had the distinct pleasure of reading more by PJ Hoover than has been published yet, since we are in the same critique group. And everything I read of hers I absolutely love. So it's no surprise that I loved this second book in the Forgotten World Series. It's got time travel, too. (I like time travel)

62) The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue. Set during the beginning of the British Women's movement, this story deals with an unfaithful wife, her faithful friend, and how the divorce system at that time was really not designed to be fair. An interesting read based on a real divorce case from the time.

63) Samantha Hansen has Rocks in Her Head by Nancy Viau a great short read for kids. Samantha's in fifth grade and the things that make the most sense to her in a crazy changing world are rocks.

64) Once a Witch by Colleen MacCullough. Tamsin doesn't think her magical power ever manifested herself, but that doesn't stop her trying to do something magical anyway. And in so doing, she finds she isn't quite as powerless as she thought she was. A fun story with great characters.

65 & 66) Eleven and Twelve by Lauren Myracle. Now I have to read Thirteen. I really do, because I so enjoyed these two books about Winnie trying to navigate these crazy years of her life that I totally want to know what happens next.

67) Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. My daughter recommended this book. I don't know if it was just bad timing (deciding to start it just as we went on vacation and I had no reading time) but I found I had a hard time getting into this book. The story is certainly captivating, but it didn't grab me like I thought it would.

68) Secrets of my Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita. Getting burned out as a TV star, Kaitlin decides to go undercover as a regular student at a private high school. As one might imagine, this leads to all kinds of additional problems and adventures. I enjoyed it enough that the sequel is in my TBR pile.

69) I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter. I'd read a lot of great things about this 'spy girl' book and finally I had to see for myself. It totally lived up to the hype. The sequel to this one is also in my TBR pile.

70) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. When my son was assigned this book for school I knew it was time to read it. I'd heard wonderful things about it, but I wasn't sure if it was really my type of book. Couldn't Put It Down. I completely understand why it won the Newbery.

71) Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick. This was another book I had to read based on things I'd read about it online. And I'm glad I did. I hadn't read all of the books that she discusses in her essays on teen books we read over and over, but I'd read enough of them to find myself nodding in agreement over and over.

72) The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erickson. It seems that most speculative fiction on the executed family of Tsar Nicholas II focuses on Anastasia, but this one follows the Tsar's second oldest daughter Tania, and most of the story takes place before the family was executed as opposed to dealing with what Tania's life was like after she escaped sharing the fate of her family (that's where the fiction part came in, the author acknowledges that Tania definitely was killed with the family in 1918).

73) Jane Austin Ruined my Life by Beth Patillo. A down-on-her luck professor decides to force a change in fortunes by exposing Jane Austin as a fraud through previously unpublished letters. Instead she learns things about herself. A few too many coincidences to suit me.

74) When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I'd read great things about this book and everything I read was right. I loved it. Great characters, unique premise and time travel (got to love that time travel)

Which brings us up to date on the books I've read so far this year.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reading, Writing and Reviews

I find that sometimes I'm able to get a lot read and sometimes, not so much. August was a slow reading month - partly due to going on vacation, and then of course, the excitement of the release of my book. I've been making up for it in September, reading a lot of great books with several more books in a TBR pile patiently waiting. I'll do a post soon updating my recent reading. But it is good to be flying through books again.

Of course I can't fly through books and write at the same time. Something has to give. (I also can't crochet at the same time, and I have a blanket I have to finish by Friday, so we'll see how this week goes.) But even with doing a bunch of reading, I managed to get a lot of writing done this past week. None this weekend - there was a family wedding to keep me busy instead.

I love, when I'm writing, and a scene pops into my head fully formed. Then the words just fly onto the page. Those are the good days. Other days I'm just plodding along hoping to get to that take off point so I can fly again.

And to wrap up this rather random post, this week there were two reviews of When Mike Kissed Emma that made me smile.

The first was at Night Owl Romance.
My favorite line was:
I found myself flipping the pages as quickly as possible to find out what was going to happen next to everyone.

You can read the rest of the review here.

The next review was at Fallen Angel Reviews.
My favorite line of this one was:
This is a delightful story with all of the growing-up situations that happen to people in high school.

You can read the rest of the review here.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Letting the Story Take Control

I've been revising my latest Work in Progress. This isn't the kind of revision where sentences are tweaked or words are deleted to make things stronger. This is the kind of revision that involves a change in title, a change in the main character's name and a bunch of other changes besides.

(At what point do I have to admit that I am writing a new story?)

I had a good idea where I wanted this story to go. After all, this had started off as a revision in order to bring a little more focus to the middle of the story. The story was already written. Or was it?

Because this story is not going where I expect it to. I'm trying to force it into a mold. But it keeps breaking out.

And then I realized there was no reason why I couldn't let it. There will be time for more revisions. Right now I need to let the story have free rein. I need to forget where I thought the story was supposed to go and find out where it wants to go.

Should be an interesting ride.

Anyone else have their stories wrest control from them?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Happy Dance Kind of Wednesday

Yeah, it's sort of raining out there and sure, the kids weren't excited about getting up and going to school, but I woke up to a great review of When Mike Kissed Emma, so it seems like a great day to me.

Here's an excerpt:
It’s a modern day story with a retro feel, something you no longer find on the bookshelves. The plot doesn’t revolve around new clothes, being the most popular girl in school, or snagging the homecoming crown. This is a lesson in learning about who you are, and more importantly, who brings out the person inside you want to be.

Very enjoyable, especially if you want something that doesn’t include an absorbent amount of teen angst. When Mike Kissed Emma is a wonderful read.

Go over to Long and Short Reviews to read the rest of it!