Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Review Wednesday: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px">Circling the Sun
" />Circling">">Circling the Sun by Paula">">Paula McLain

My rating: 4">">4 of 5 stars

Received from NetGalley for honest review.

I love this author so much. The Paris Wife was one of my favorite books I've read this decade. This one was also good, but I wouldn't say it's quite as good as McLain's first. But considering how much I loved The Paris Wife, it's a small miracle that this one didn't disappoint me in every way. But it didn't. It was good enough that I loved reading it, but it was also so dense that it took me FOREVER to finish. It's definitely one of those books that people call 'an epic saga' even if it's not. Because it is just so long, and covers such a long time, a huge span of this woman's life and a lot of things that happen during it.

I loved all the descriptions of Kenya the most. They were so lovely, as were some of McLain's observations about humans and human nature. It's hard for me to describe such a dense book in a little review. In summary: I love this book, it's beautiful, and you should read it!

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guest Post: The Inspiration of Famous Authors, by Hilda Simpson

 Hi, all!
Today I have the privilege of sharing with you a post by a fellow author about fellow authors. Take it away, Hilda!

Hemingway wrote standing, Nabokov used the index cards, Vonnegut recharged with scotch and Murakami with sports. We bring you the most interesting evidence of outstanding writers, on how they created a working day that inspired them.

Ernest Hemingway: wrote standing on the skin of the African antelope

The typewriter was at the level of his chest, a stack of paper was located on the left, he took a sheet, put it on the board and started writing by hand. His handwriting was becoming larger and more boyish over the years and he started neglecting punctuation and capital letters. At the same time he had a schedule of productivity - every day the writer pointed out how many words he had written (the figure varied from 450 to 1250). Hemingway treated his craft with the same share of poetry and pragmatism.

“When working on a book or a story I start every morning with the first rays of sun. No one can bother me, it is cold or even cool, you sit down to work and write until warmed. You read what you’ve written and start from the episode, when you know what happens next. You write until you have the strength and yet know what will happen after, then stop and try to survive until the next day. Suppose you start at 6 a.m. and work until noon or finished earlier. When you finish, you're so devastated and at the same time filled as if you were making love to your loved one. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing matters until the next day when you start again”.

Ray Bradbury: great dreamer

Ray Bradbury, a science fiction classic, told the Paris Review in an interview that loves his favorite genre for ideas that have not yet been implemented but will be in the near future, for the “art of the possible”. He compared such literature with the myth of Perseus and Medusa: rather than facing it, you look at her over your shoulder and through a mirror (though science fiction looks into the future, but reflects the urgency). It is no wonder that with such a love for fiction Bradbury also insisted on the principle of working with pleasure.

“I can work anywhere. I wrote in the bedrooms and living rooms when I lived with my parents and brother in a small house in Los Angeles. I typed in the living room to the sound of the radio and parents talking with my brother. Later, when I worked on “Fahrenheit 451”, I came to the University of California, Los Angeles and found the print room in the basement. If you insert 10 cents into the machine, you can buy a half-hour of the printing time”.

Mark Twain: a talented smoker

Few people know that Twain wrote poems and fairy tales for children, rather he is known as the author of witty responses to readers (his comments to their letter was published as a book). Also the writer was famous for aphorisms, which eloquently show his attitude to work: “Let us be grateful to Adam, our benefactor. He took the “blessing” of idleness away from us and gained the “curse” of labor”.

He walked into the office in the morning after a good breakfast and remained there until dinner, i.e, to 5 p.m. Since he missed lunch and the family did not dare to disturb him - they used the horn, if they needed him – he was able to work for several hours in a row. After the dinner he read what he has written for the whole family. He liked to be listened to. On Sundays he didn’t work and had a rest with his wife and children, read and slept during the day somewhere in a shady spot near their house. Regardless of whether he worked or not, he always smoked cigars.

By Hilda Simpson
freelance writer for

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Superiors Book 4 Cover Reveal

I've been working on rewrites, but I got my cover commissioned so I'm going to go ahead and show it to you! My wonderful cover artist always does a great job working to get the cover to my exact specifications, and she's done so again this time. Look for the book coming soon. Until then, enjoy the cover.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes

SugarSugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Confession: I got this book out of the middle-grade section at my library, but I got it mostly for myself. I didn't really think my son would like it--he doesn't like 'girl' books in general, and he's not interested in discrimination, racism, slavery or history in general. So I thought I'd put it on when he was in the car, and when he complained, I'd turn it off and listen to it by myself when he wasn't in the car with me.
Turns out, he loved it. He never complained once about it being girlie, or from a girl's point of view. It's such a good story that he probably forgot all about his boycentric favorites. And I was completely absorbed as well. I enjoyed this much more than the YA book I listened to on my own at the same time.
This is a great look at a time that isn't as widely written about as slavery--the time after, during 'reconstruction,' when slaves weren't much better off but at least had their freedom. Sugar is a young black girl, an orphan, who lives on a sugarcane plantation. The attitudes of the white people were realistic, with the son more open to the changes occurring than the parents, who had once been slave owners. The author's note at the end said that she became interested in the Chinese immigrants who came after the Civil War to replace some of the slaves who had gone north. So that's a big part of this book as well. It was fascinating to watch the characters each shed their own prejudices and become friends with the other group, each of which had little knowledge of the other. The book puts great emphasis on the powerful bonding experience of sharing our cultures' foods, as well as the universal human trait of storytelling, and how we find common ground in our stories, which reveal our culture.
The whole book was so well done. It had a lot to say, but the author never lost sight of the story, so it was always entertaining even while getting its messages across. And that's the most important thing--the story always comes first. This is a great story with a funny, realistic, and loveable trickster of a heroine. I loved it, and so did my son.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the ScrewThe Turn of the Screw by Henry James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So anyway...

That's kind of how I felt at the end of this book. It was certainly interesting and engaging. The suspense was great, and it kept me going the whole book. I couldn't wait to see what came next. But the whole book was really bizarre, too, and I'm still not sure that I understood any of it. My interpretation of the events, especially the ending, is probably way off base from what a lit professor would say.

Our protagonist is a governess to two children, one of whom was expelled from boarding school for mysterious reasons. The children both seem perfect angels at first. Then our protagonist begins seeing ghosts and enlists the sympathy of the housekeeper, convincing her that the children see the ghosts (and consort and plot with them), too. But why the children would want to fool everyone into thinking they didn't see the ghosts, if they did...why they wanted to hang out with ghosts in the first place...etc, etc, I could never figure out.

And the ending...whoa. Just going to let that sit a few days and see what conclusion my brain comes to regarding that little gem.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review: The Fire-Eaters by David Almond

The Fire-EatersThe Fire-Eaters by David Almond

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a little gem of a book with a wonderful melancholy tone and a grey mood. I found myself feeling slightly depressed every time I listened. It had a very sobering, yet also calming, effect on me as a reader. The author was able to draw me in to the character's mind and his environment by creating such powerful atmosphere throughout. I did find that in a few places, scenes were glossed over instead of fully explored. For instance, the climax scene seemed more like a summary than a fully developed scene. Which was really a shame, because it could have been very intense.

Overall, I loved this book, though. Atmosphere is very important to me, and this book had it all the way. Also, I don't see many books set in the time of the Cuban missile crisis, or that focus on the paranoia and the effect that had on countries other than American.

A great read for kids and adults alike.

Age 9-10+ due to some mild self mutilation. My son grew very upset and I had to turn it off when the kid started poking himself with a pin, even though I didn't find it disturbing.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a true storyWe Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a true story by Josh Sundquist

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Received from NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

This book is kind of a mixed bag for me. I did like it. I liked the main character and his story was interesting. I liked the format of the book, with the MC (Josh) looking at all his relationships and investigating why they failed. And I liked that eventually he admitted to himself that part of the problem was his own perceptions.

However, I really would have liked better answers! I know this is a true story, but sometimes, when he contacted the girls he'd dated to ask why it didn't work out, they didn't give much of an answer. Which I guess is how it works in real life. This is supposed to be a true story, after all. But it didn't make for the most satisfying read. Plus, some of the relationships failed for the most obvious reasons to the reader, but Josh never seemed to realize what had happened. It wasn't clear that he'd learned anything when he looked at the relationships in retrospect.

I did enjoy the little diagrams, and overall, it was a good story. The MC just seemed a little clueless and out of touch with reality.

Overall, this was a fun, fast read that left me with a good feeling. Recommended for all ages, but would probably not appeal to anyone younger than 12 or so.

Content: Nothing objectionable except a few subtle hints about a teenage boy getting, ahem, excited.

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