October Reads

          October was a hard month for reading. I managed to finish three books in the last three days so I still met my monthly goal. Didn’t seem like I was going to at first, but yay! One of the books was even on my overall reading list! I don’t think I’m going to manage to finish that this year; there’s several books left that I don’t even own currently. But I made really good progress on it, nonetheless.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

          I broke one of my rules with this one; I saw the movie without reading the book first. Not something I do often, but this one just kind of happened. Anyway, I already knew some of the heavy things that happened, and I was ready for them. However, there was a lot more going on than what happens in the movie (duh) that made it remain a good read. I understand that not everything can be put in to a movie, but damn. Charlie’s story is way more messed up than I thought and I just wanted to give the poor kid a hug.

          I feel like the style of the book was a little lacking. As the reader, so much more could have filled in the blanks between the letters. The movie did it well, and it kind of makes me happy that I watched it first. However, I did love being in Charlie’s head with the letters. He really painted nice pictures of the people around him. Seeing the crazy situations through his eyes gave it perspective. Especially when he didn’t understand things; you know he had no opinion and he was just telling it as it was. And when he realized the truth later on, you felt the epiphany with him. On the other hand, some of the descriptions fell flat. Sometimes being “happy” or “sad” doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.

          This book explored some really serious issues. But they were almost talked about in a light way, showing us that it’s just an accepted part of high school. Which is awful, don’t get me wrong, and something more should be done about it. Rape and suicide shouldn’t be accepted as normal teenager occurrences. I know this book is banned at some schools because of this. But maybe it needs to be the opposite. It needs to be talked about more, not pushed under the rug.

It by Stephen King

          This is another book that I saw the movie first. But I saw the movie when I was about nine years old. I had no idea it was a book at the time and I would have been way to young to read it anyway – since I was too young for the movie, obviously.

          This book was a lot. I listened to the audiobook in my car and sometimes at work. I had to get some headphones because the language was pretty offensive at times. I understand that it was set in a different time and that’s just how people talked, but damn, it was a bit much.

          I’m usually a pretty big fan of Stephen King. However, if he said one more thing about someone’s “small breasts” I would have had to stop the book. Girls don’t think with their breasts. They don’t react with their breasts. Half the time, they don’t even think about their breasts at all. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book.

There was so much depth and detail that rounded out the whole epic tale. Sure, some of it could have been cut to shorten the book and keep to one main plotline, but each character deserved their story to be told. They were all made real and – in some cases – horrifying. As a new mother, the part about the baby being killed was heart wrenching and difficult to get through, but it really demonstrated the coldness and detachment of the boy. Was it really necessary? Maybe not. But it also served a purpose.

          Overall, a great – long – book and I’m glad I finally read (listened) to it.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

          This book was a whole lot of meh. I think I read it when I was younger, but I can’t remember. It’s been on my shelf for years and I figured I’d give it a read. And it was alright, aside from the fact that I discovered my used copy was missing the first 74 pages and I had to download the e-book.

          The language and style of the narrator didn’t pull me in. I know he was young and telling us about his adventure as an afterward, but I didn’t really like it. Every time there was an “I would find out later…” part I would get a little frustrated. It was like revealing the end too soon.

          The characters were also not very well defined. All the gentlemen became one lump in my head and the conversations they had would be a little confusing. Silver also wasn’t as colorful as he could have been.

          Sure, it was a cute little adventure story, but I probably liked it better as a kid.

Around the Writer’s Block by Rosanne Bane

This was my craft book for the month and I really enjoyed it. I already didn’t really believe in “writer’s block” and this book helped reinforce that idea. It’s mostly a struggle of showing up to do the writing that keeps it from getting done. It’s all about distractions and building writing up into this big scary thing that you couldn’t possibly do until the stars align and the weather is perfect. Or something like that. This book, though, gives several examples of how to get around these blocks and address what the real problem is that’s keeping you from getting your writing done. I plan on using the techniques I learned about as soon as possible to keep myself on track. Highly recommend it to anyone who has a tendency to get stuck.

          2019 is coming to a close and I’m going to need to make a new reading list. Anyone have any suggestions?

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August Reads

                I really pushed the line this month on getting my four books read. One of the books took too long to read and I had to finish up during the last week. But I still managed it, so that’s something.

The Four Before Me by E. H. Night

                I was intrigued from the start. Following the story to find out what happened to the missing girls was easy. It wasn’t exactly a nail biter, but it held my interest.

                The book had a very simple style that, while easy to follow, kind of left you wanting more. I feel like there were parts that could have been deeper and some pictures that could have been painted better, but the overall point came across well. The timeline became harder to follow towards the end with the flashbacks dumped on us. I feel like these could have been told a little differently. The information was necessary to the plot, but the way it was told didn’t sit right with me.

                The characters were pretty well written. Occasionally they would fall a little flat, but not every time. The false leads were nice and did well to distract the reader from who actually killed the women.

                I like that everything was tied up at the end. I didn’t feel cheated. Overall it was a nice time killer, it just wasn’t particularly thrilling.

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

                I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this last installment. It was interesting and everything came to a close, questions being answered and all that. But I just feel like I missed the point.

                Characters are supposed to change throughout a story, but I didn’t like, understand, or accept some of the changes. Lyra became a follower, and that really bugged me. She was such a “save the day at all costs” type of girl in the beginning that I just don’t see how she became the “I’ll do it if you think we should” girl. And Mrs. Coulter turned nice? She loved Lyra after all? Enough to sacrifice herself? I don’t know about all that either.

                Then there were the subplots and tangents I couldn’t really get behind. Father whats-his-name (so unimportant I couldn’t remember) was pointless. His entire storyline could have been left out and the book would have played out the same. There were a few other points that made me ask “but why does this matter?” I found myself skimming the last hundred or so pages.

                The plot did get tied up in the end. The battle was fought, Dust will continue to be, the good guy won etc. etc. But mostly this last book of the trilogy felt like a chore to read and it was a little bit of a let-down after the build-up of the other two.  

The Accident By Diane Hoh

                This was a fun little read. I was one book away from my goal and with only a few days left so I needed something quick and enjoyable. This book really did the trick. 90’s horror is so cheesy and fun that I breezed through this book.

                The setting really came to life. Every time she mentioned the heat or the fact that there was no AC, I felt like I was sweating along with the characters. That might have also had something to do with the fact that I live in Texas and it’s summer time, ha.

                I wish the supporting characters had been a little more filled out, but I was still satisfied. Megan is so naïve and innocent, like a classic victim of any horror story. Juliet played the deceit so well. Even if the reader could tell something bad was going to happen, poor little Megan was oblivious.

                And even though I knew Juliet had a cruel plan up her sleeve, there were still parts to the ending I wasn’t able to guess.

                Overall, loved it. Thrilling little tale of suspense.

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass

                This workbook seems really great. Each chapter had an exercise to go with it so you can practice each concept. There were tips on how to write better characters, improve your descriptions, and dive deeper into a setting. I really can’t wait to use some of the exercises while revising my work in progress.

                What about you? What have you been reading? My “to be read” pile is getting a little low, and I could use some recommendations 😊