Monthly Archives: December 2019

Standing in the Rainbow

The last time I went on a book buying binge, I snagged a couple Fannie Flagg books. After Fried Green Tomatoes, I’ve been really interested in checking out some of her other work.

Standing in the Rainbow is a sweeping story that follows a small town in Missouri through the decades. It focuses on one family, following them through daily life. In many ways, it’s a coming of age story. In others, it’s reminiscent of the small town way of life that has long gone away.

While it wasn’t one of my favorite books to read, Standing in the Rainbow did provide an interesting style. Instead of following a rigid story arc, it flowed along throughout the years, going where the family goes. In that sense, it was a fun read, and perfectly timed, since I read it while writing my own NaNo story (it was nice to see that a collection of anecdotes can make a whole story).

Flagg’s characters were real and relatable, in her style. So even if the book wasn’t my favorite, I’m still excited to read the other one of hers I got. But, naturally, I’ve got a lot of others in line.

Remembrance of the Daleks

It’s been a long time since I’ve dipped back into Doctor Who. Frankly, after David Tennant, I had a hard time losing myself in the series.

But sometimes it’s fun to read some of the stories (don’t ask me if it’s fanfic or transcribed episodes, I’m not always sure). In this case, Remembrance of the Daleks, by Ben Aaronovich, was a fleshed out story of an episode.

Obviously, the Doctor has landed in London and discovers Daleks in town. Relying on the help of some government troops, the Doctor must try to orchestrate his plan to destroy two warring Dalek factions–without destroying earth.

One of the reasons I found it hard to get into the story was because I couldn’t quite put it into the timeline. It was some classic Doctor Who, old episodes I haven’t seen. But I think I also had a hard time because the Doctor didn’t seem familiar to me.

It was also challenging for me to follow along with who was who and where they were. All in all, I’m not sure taking an episode and trying to write it into a book was a full success. But, it was written in the ’90s, and I haven’t seen the episode in question, so it may be better than I think.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse

Barnes & Noble decided to choose a book of the year for 2019, and when it was announced, I just kind of shrugged it off. It was a new book, I had no idea who Charlie Mackesy is, and the sketches and font are very artsy and and not at all perfectly polished.

Then I read it.

It starts with the boy and the mole, and as they journey along, talking, they begin to unearth little gems of wisdom surrounding life, love, acceptance, friendship, strength, and so much more. It’s very Winnie-the -Pooh meets Mr. Rogers.

I read the book so that I could better recommend and sell it, but as I went through it, I found certain little truths resonating with me. Truly, it’s a book and message for all ages. Kindness starts with yourself. Asking for help is brave. Love is what brings you home. Friendship isn’t based on what you get, but who you are.

It’ll take you maybe all of 10 minutes to read. But I bet you’ll be like me, and find you want to go back, read it again, soak in the ideas and look closer at the sketches (even if they look like concept art or unfinished pieces).

While it’s a special book, I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy it for myself. After all, I’d already read it. But the more I thought about the story and it’s content, the more I realized I really wanted the book (and not just because I’m a hoarder of books). I realized that maybe this book is exactly what I need to keep handy on the shelf, to thumb through when I’m feeling a little discouraged, to remind myself that comparison is the biggest waste of time, to remember that, “if at first you don’t succeed, have some cake.”

So, check out our book of the year, you won’t be disappointed, but you might feel a little better.

The Kite Runner

I finally actually checked off a book from my classics/required reading list! I thought it would be a little more exciting to check it off.

Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner is a powerful, intense story of Afghanistan’s violent history.

The story begins in the 1970s, following Amir’s childhood in Kabul. Amir and his friend Hassan grew up together, flying kites, seeing movies, playing cards. But Hassan is the son of Amir’s Hazara servant, and Amir is acutely award of the social differences, and growing more aware each day. And though Hassan would do anything for Amir, Amir suddenly finds himself faced with a choice–what is he willing to do for Hassan?

As war and violence erupts in Afghanistan, Amir and Hassan get separated and Amir gets a new life in America. But when the past comes calling, Amir is faced with one more choice: a way to be good again.

In what seems to be Hosseini’s style, The Kite Runner is graphic and intense. Hosseini’s pulls no punches in his descriptions of the war-torn country and the violence between Hazara and Pashtun people.

It’s a story of self-discovery, of craving a father’s love, of secrets, and of redemption. Amir has to own up to the decisions he made as a child, and also accept the decisions his father made that shaped his childhood and personality. And when the chance for redemption comes, Amir has to choose whether to right both their wrongs, or take the easy way out.

The Kite Runner is a powerful, beautifully written story, but it’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea–especially anyone sensitive to violence, trauma, and sexual abuse. But its rawness gives it a layer of emotion that is essential to the story.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Every now and then you just have to sit down and read a feel-good book. When I snagged a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, I knew this was going to be just that kind of book.

In the aftermath of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book idea when she receives an unexpected letter. An old book of hers ended up on the small island of Guernsey and the new owner, Dawsey Adams, writes to Juliet to get more books by the same author.

As Juliet gets to know Dawsey through letters, she’s introduced to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club of sorts that formed to save a group of friends from trouble with the Germans. The more Juliet gets to know the society members through letters, the more Juliet wants to go to Guernsey and meet them all in person. Though Juliet doesn’t quite know what she’s looking for, but the same thing that’s drawing her to Guernsey promises that she’ll find whatever it is she’s looking for.

Written as a compilation of letters to and from Juliet, the style provides a unique glimpse into each character, while allowing them to use their own voice. Though it was a little hesitant at the idea of a story written only as letters (especially after having seen the Netflix adaptation), it was executed perfectly. It’s easy to follow the story and all relevant information is conveyed as the characters share with each other.

Though the Hallmark style isn’t usually my cup of tea, sometimes it’s a good kind of story to enjoy when you just need something fun. So next time you need a quick, pick-me-up kind of read, give Guernsey a read. You won’t be sorry.

Into December and Beyond

November is over, which means no more frantic writing for me (hopefully just normal writing as I try to develop the habit).

I finished my 50,000 words one day early, so I only wrote about 100 words on November 30th, just enough to finish wrapping up the story.

Now the question is, do I jump right in to editing, or do I return to the poor project I abandoned months ago? I might have some new motivation for that, since it was a kind of processing project for me for my own life, and some situations really aren’t the same as when I started (and abandoned) that project. Maybe it’ll take me in new directions.

Maybe I’ll do a combination of both. Write some, edit some, and do whatever feels more fun every day.

Plus, I do often have to challenge myself: what’s the point in editing a book if I’m not going to do anything with it? Because, to be honest, I’m not in a mental position to go out there and start pitching my books. And sure, I can always self-publish, and maybe that would be somewhat successful, but I’m just not quite feeling at that place yet. But maybe soon. I’ve got to cultivate my creative confidence a little more.