Review (& Thoughts On) The Art of Slow Writing by Louise deSalvo

slow writingSo, this book is called The Art of Slow Writing, but the truth is that I read it very slowly. It’s taken me months to finish this book, not because it wasn’t good (it was!) but because I’ve been so busy and overwhelmed, plus it has content I wanted to take in over time.

I really enjoyed this book– it was a constant reminder to let art run its course, to let books reveal themselves in their own time, to embrace the uncertainty of the writing life, and how important persistence is to she who wants to be an author.

 

 

Loved this:

uncertainty writing

I’m writing slowly right now. But that doesn’t mean I’m not working hard. I spent last Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday doing research, hammering out details, brainstorming, plotting, and finishing up my VERY LONG AND DETAILED synopsis, which is now up to thirteen pages, double-spaced. I could NOT have created this synopsis early on. I needed to spend over a year with this story and let ideas build and build before I could pull this blueprint together.

But now that it IS together, I have a map from the beginning to the end of my novel. I have 60K words written already, but SO MUCH editing to do … plus I’m imagining about another 20K left to write.

This page from deSalvo’s book is Where I Am At:

slow writing quote

It is one thing to amass 50 or 60 thousand words of prose. It’s an entirely different beast to shape those words into a book. I learned so much while writing Lights All Around— and learned even MORE writing Truest— but there is still so much to learn. Every new book is a new mountain. Climbing one mountain does not mean I know how to climb all mountains.

It’s fulfilling work, but it is most definitely WORK.

Review: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

dreamologyAlice has dreamed of Max for as long as she can remember– in her dreams, they are happy and in love, going on the kind of crazy adventures that can only happen in dreams.

When Alice moves to Boston, though, Max is in her psychology class at her new school! Except this Max seems detached … and he has a girlfriend.

I really enjoyed this one! There were some really great lines, and I especially loved the character of Oliver, one of Alice’s new friends. I loved the dream sequences, and it was fun to tweet with Lucy Keating while I read it too. An interesting concept, though the conflict at the end confused me a little bit. All in all, an enjoyable, light read!

 

Review: Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

0-545-05474-5I loved this book.

I’ll be honest, it’s not one that I would normally pick up from the description. But my editor is reading it right now and encouraged me to read it too. I got a copy from the library, devoured it, and then bought a copy for my personal library.

The premise of the book is simple: Marcelo is on the autism spectrum– he says he’s best described as having Asperger’s but admits that’s not quite accurate either. He goes to a special school that he LOVES. His father, a lawyer, tells Marcelo that if he can successfully handle an internship at his dad’s law firm that summer (in the “real world”), he can go back to his school for senior year. Otherwise, he will need to go to the public school in town.

As I said, a simple enough premise. But the execution is masterful.

The characters– especially Marcelo– are so deep, the conversations are fascinating, the writing is beautiful.

It was one of my favorite reads of 2016.

 

 

Review: The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

rose and daggerI’ve made it no secret on this blog that The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh was my favorite book of 2015The Rose & the Dagger is the sequel, and I could not WAIT to spend time with these characters again. Shazi is seriously one of my all-time favorite heroines, so fierce and stubborn and incredible. She takes zero shit, not even from the king himself.

Speaking of the king– or rather, the caliph of Khorasan– Khalid is one of my top book boyfriends. He is breathtakingly INTENSE and sexy and mature. I love him love him love him.

Plus, we are introduced to new(er) characters in this book too, a few of whom stole my heart. A few of whom broke my heart.

I’m not going to say too much about this book, just that you need to read it. The first book still takes the top spot for me, but this sequel was just the reunion I needed!

Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (No Spoilers!)

raven king2So. The final book of The Raven Cycle came out on Tuesday. I was lucky enough to get my copy on Friday, so I got to read it early, but I’ve been lying low, waiting for others to read it before I posted my review. Even so, there won’t be any spoilers for The Raven King here, though if you haven’t read any of the books in the series, perhaps you should close your computer screen and go track these books down.

It started with meeting Blue and the Raven Boys in book one (review), learning more about Ronan and his dreams in book two (review), and falling more in love with the deep, complicated characters in book three (review). Now it was time to wrap everything up.

Listen. Maggie Stiefvater is a genius. I’m convinced. She wields words like weapons that swipe at your heart, and I love her for it. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of the final book in the cycle, but I had certain small pieces I sort of banked on, and she delivered on them all.

The most important thing in these books (and Maggie agrees) is the characters, and the whole point of the series was to navigate their friendships. It was a joy to go along for the ride. It’s killing me that Stiefvater will be in St. Paul next week and I can’t go to her event.

Read these books. I realize I haven’t really said much about them, but it’s all in the characters, people. You need Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah in your lives.

Review: When We Collided by Emory Lord

when we collidedWhat an apt title! When We Collided is the story of Vivi, a girl with bipolar disorder, and Jonah, a boy whose family is falling apart, when they meet one summer in Verona Cove.

Vivi is a unique character, for sure– all bright-red lips and Marilyn Monroe hair. Almost immediately I decided she was a mix of Stargirl (Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli) and Finch (All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven). Cue my terror.

(If you’ve read those books and made that connection, you’d prepare yourself for an impending meltdown.)

Jonah was lovely. His family too, all six Daniels kids. He was strong and cute and, in my opinion, probably could have dealt without having a tornado named Vivi storm into his summer.

See, that was the hard thing. Vivi was a little tough for me to like. Yes, she was a marvelous character. Yes, she was fascinating. But she was also a tornado. Early in the book we learn she is not taking her medicine. I knew this would get scary.

The writing is phenomenal. The characters are inimitable. But any book about mental illness is going to be difficult to read– maybe especially for someone like me, who has her own brain disorder and for whom books like this raise so many personal issues and questions.

I have only read one other book by Emory Lord– her debut, Open Road Summer, which wasn’t my favorite (but probably because I am not a huge fan of road trip novels). I could see her growth as a writer in this novel. If you read it, please let me know what you think! It’s not an easy book– but then again, I’m not big into easy books.

Review: Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

mara dyer

This is actually going to be less of a review and more of an introduction, so that I can steer away from spoilers.

First of all, those covers! Gorgeous.

The Mara Dyer trilogy is about a girl who survives the collapse of an abandoned asylum she was exploring with her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister. Shortly after the collapse, her family moves to Florida to start over … only things are getting super weird. Enter Noah Shaw, this cocky British schoolboy who knows he is gorgeous, and things really start to get interesting.

Thrillers aren’t really my thing. But I loved this series.

Mara is a badass. The dialogue is hilarious. The intrigue is intense. And Noah Shaw is … well … Noah Shaw.

“You’re supposed to say, ‘All I want is your happiness. I’ll do whatever it takes, even if it means being without you.'”
“Sorry,” Noah said. “I’m just not that big of a person.”

Yes, he’s a little over the top sometimes. (Okay, a lot over the top.) But those over-the-top things are a-ok with me when said in a British accent. I listened to the audio versions of this series, which was narrated by Christy Romano (you know her as Ren Stevens and the voice of Kim Possible), and while a lot of people took issue with her attempt at a male British accent, I was okay with it.

I like that the books were intriguing but not wholly scary. I’m not big into freaking myself out. If you like books that will keep you guessing, dive headfirst into this series.

Review: Noggin by John Corey Whaley

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a book cover misrepresent the story inside so much as this one. Let’s take a look at it.noggin

What do you expect from this title and cover?

I pictured a Grasshopper Jungle type of story– weird and wild and fast and sort of hard-to-believe-but-I’ll-go-along-for-the-ride, you know?

Not at all. This story was the most emotionally exhausting book I’ve read so far this year. And maybe for ALL of last year too. In fact, I can’t remember a book putting my heart through the meat-grinder quite like this one did since I read The Fault in Our Stars. My gosh. I’m still reeling.

First of all, what’s this book about? Travis Coates is the second person to have a successful head-transplant surgery. When he died, his head was cryogenically preserved while they figured out the procedure– the medical organization he was with suspected they would have a solution within twenty years, though, secretly, neither Travis nor his friends or family thought it would ever work. So, when only five years later, it does work … well, everything is different. Most notably, Travis is still sixteen and in love with his girlfriend Cate … who is now 21 and engaged to someone else.

This book was intense. All the feels. Multiplied exponentially. While I often love to just binge-read through a great story, I couldn’t with this one. I could only handle small doses– an hour of reading here, a half-hour there. And when I finished it today, I just sobbed and sobbed and then took a nap to deaden the feelings.

Noggin was incredible. Layered characters. Meaningful story. Made my head spin and my heart break. This book was so much more than I ever anticipated.

 

 

Review: Love & Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

love and other.jpgThis book has been sitting on my TBR shelf for over a year, and after I cruised through Calvin (review), I wanted something a little bit light. This was just right!

Love & Other Foreign Words is about a brilliant (no, literally– she has a genius IQ at age 15), overly-honest girl named Josie as she learns to navigate love in light of her older sister’s impending wedding to a man Josie can’t stand. Josie starts with a younger voice than I usually am drawn to in YA, and in fact, a few pages in, I almost put it down to try something else. But then I got drawn into her voice and the story and actually stayed up to finish it in the same night.

I could absolutely understand the main storyline about Josie feeling like she was losing her sister Kate to a man she (Josie) didn’t like. Note: I LIKE MY FRIENDS’ HUSBANDS, but it’s sort of the story of my life to continually “lose them” to a man and feel jealousy (hey I want my friend back) and envy (hey I want a man too) while watching them fall in love. So I understood that.

I also knew which boy I wanted Josie to end up with, but unfortunately, this guy didn’t have as many scenes as I would have liked!

The time period this book covered was interesting: spring of junior year, summer, and fall of senior year. You could see Josie grow and hear it in her voice too.

A fun, light read that was just what I needed this week.

 

 

Review: Calvin by Martine Leavitt

calvin.jpgSo.

This book is about a boy named Calvin undergoing a schizophrenic break.

He has always had a connection with the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, being that there are so many similarities between his life and the comic strip (including a toy tiger and a girl next door named Suzie), so when Hobbes starts talking to him again at age seventeen, Calvin decides the only way to make it stop is to take a pilgrimage across Lake Erie to meet Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic strip. If he can make one last strip about a seventeen-year-old Calvin who is “normal,” Calvin will be healed.

And so he heads off.

I loved it. I loved everything about this book: the format (it’s a letter to Bill Watterson and the dialogue is written like a play), the main character (brilliant, brilliant boy; adored Calvin!), the humor, AND the fact that I didn’t know if what I was reading was actually happening in real life or in Calvin’s head. I thought it was so rife with thought-provoking conversation and delightful humor. I read over half of it in one setting and finished it off the next night.

Fans of Calvin and Hobbes will especially love this book, all the references to the comic strip and to Spaceman Spiff, what a great dose of nostalgia. I’m not sure how close it was to describing a real schizophrenic break– it had a tremendously different tone than Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (review), which I read a few months ago.

It was a total delight, one of my favorite reads of 2016 so far. If you read it, let me know! I wanna hear your thoughts– Goodreads is a little split, and it’s hard for me to understand why!