Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Million Little Ways, Me Before You, and The List

This week's (and last week's, because apparently my goal of two books per week was a little too lofty after all) books are:

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This was actually my first Emily Freeman book (love her on Hopewriters and love her sister The Nester) and I really liked it. Her encouragement to make art within and throughout all of our daily tasks was so beautiful and unique. She stresses the importance of figuring out how we are meant to create art for our Savior by living our lives, and how that might not mean literal, traditional art but maybe in a more discreet and less obvious way instead. Since I was just diving back into writing when I read this, I found it to be particularly encouraging.

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So this book has just been turned into a movie and all the [Christian] reviews seem to be pretty condemning (as well as full of, IN THE TITLE of the review, effectively ruining the ending of the book for the person who is in the middle of reading said book and avoiding reviews for the purpose of not having the end spoiled). The reviews are, truthfully, about the movie and not the book, and I have not yet seen the movie so my brief review will only be about the book. That being said, my honest opinion (SPOILER ALERT, because I'm a nice person) is that this was a really good book that didn't glorify euthanasia at all. It explored it as a topic, it did explain the specific character's point of view and all the reasons why he wanted to go that route, but I honestly do not think it glorified it. Every single character in the entire book, other than the character in question, was devastated by his decision. Every single character fought against it till the end, argued with him about the merits of making a different decision, tried their hardest to show him the value of living rather than giving up, and, in the end, were completely and utterly destroyed by his decision. I can't speak for the movie, but this "happy ending" all the reviewers keep talking about doesn't happen in the book. Yeah, she gets a lot of money. But she also loses the love of her life. If you want to discuss other reasons why I think it doesn't glorify it, and why I also think there's value in reading books that make us think and consider another point of view (even if we don't agree with it at all), I would love to discuss it more. But for the sake of time, I'll move on. Honestly, I just liked the book. I loved the characters and I loved her writing style. I was inspired by this book; it was most of the reason I decided to temporarily abandon nonfiction reading and focus on fiction while I try to write my novel. The characters and the writing and the voice in this novel inspired me and pushed me and got my creativity flowing in new and exciting ways with my own novel. It took me from a place where I had been stuck for two years and pushed me into a whole new arena with my writing. I'll always be grateful to this book for that, and I can't wait to read more by Ms. Moyes because of it.

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This was the second book I added to my Goodreads account. It was probably six or seven years ago. I almost deleted it recently because I figured if I hadn't read it by now I never would. But I did, and I loved it. I got transported back to high school, but I still loved it. A high school that has a list posted every fall of the ugliest and prettiest girl in each grade? makes for an interesting plot. I do think the author got a little overextended with following eight different girls throughout the book; after the first half or so she loses the plots of a couple and focuses more on the same few over and over, but it was still really good. I'd definitely recommend it.

Friday, June 10, 2016

New Priorities

I've been thinking about some things over the last couple days. Two things in particular. They're both quite simple but also both have pretty huge implications for me and my time, and I'm incredibly excited for both.

Thing 1: I miss writing. I've mentioned my writing several times on this blog over the last several years. I started a novel and got it a very rough, short version of "done," but then got frustrated with the edits and the ending and pushed it aside for a while. Then this spring I started a new novel, and got about half way through before the subject matter really hit me like an emotional wall and I needed to put it away for a little while. That brings me to now...where it's been months since I've written anything but I have the bug again. I think it's almost a need...I need to be writing. I picked up the first novel again last night and started making some major changes. I am so excited about it and feel energized to continue working on it. And I'm also doing some research about self publishing through Amazon, which seems like the route I am likely going to pursue.

Thing 2: I miss reading fiction. I've been reading quite a bit, but goodness gracious it's been a lot of nonfiction. And I really do not like nonfiction. There's a time and a place, and it's important stuff, but there just isn't much motivation at the end of my day to cuddle up with my Kindle and some nonfiction...even if it is of the inspiring, motivational variety. At the end of my day, I need some fiction in my free time. That's why it's so much easier to turn the TV on instead of read. So even though the majority of the books left on my 2016 Reading Goals list are nonfiction books, I'm going to go ahead and call an audible. I heard the words of Shauna Niequist in my head this morning, reminding me that people who write MUST also read. And it's occurred to me that some of the reason why I love fiction so much is that it's helpful and inspiring and exciting for me, someone who is trying to write fiction. So I'm going to take a little break from nonfiction and pursue fiction like it's my job. Because Shauna told me to.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 2

Well, it's week 2 of my summer goal to read two nonaudiobook books every week, and it didn't happen. I blame my sister, who moved in Friday night and declared it the weekend of fun. Basically, we ate a lot of ice cream and watched a lot of Bloodline on Netflix. But thankfully we live in a world where grace exists and goals you make for yourself are not the law of the land. So I am getting back on the horse this week and aiming for that 2 book goal again. I was able to read one and listen to one on audiobook though, so here are their reviews.

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I finished the last of the four Snicket All the Wrong Questions books (you can see the other reviews here, here, and here) and it did not disappoint. I'm not going to lie, the first 80% or so of the book was such a strange whirlwind of weird that I had no idea what was going on. But once he brought it all home and tied all those weird details up in a nice bow, I was kind of blown away. Blown away...and yet also furious. Because once again, the man didn't answer my questions. I have just OH SO MANY questions (stretching back to the original 13 books in the Series of Unfortunate Events series) and he just refuses to answer them and I am mad. So is my brother. But...oh well. He will keep writing and I will keep reading and fingers crossed maybe one day I'll understand it all. Despite that little rant, I still highly recommend his books. All of them. Read his books and join the club of angry Snicket fans.

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This one was a reread, and was listened to via audiobook. It's been ages and ages since I've read sweet Anne, and I never ventured into the rest of the series (unless you count the classic Canadian movies starring Megan Follows). But my sister loves them and I found the series on audiobook at the library; I figured it was the best way to read a couple more. Oh sweet Anne. You are wonderful and you are loved. And Montgomery's writing is incredible. I spent most of the time I listened wishing I had a pen and paper to write down so many lines that were just amazing. If you somehow made it through your childhood without reading this wonderful and funny and heartwarming and adorable book, drop everything and read it now.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer Reading Goals and Some Book Reviews

I wanted to catch up on book reviews, but before I did I wanted to share my personal reading goals for the summer. I've shared on various social medias that JT is gone for the summer again, working in Florida till sometime in August, and my sister will be living with us starting at the end of this week. We've discussed lots of plans for the summer, including things we want to be intentional about - hobbies, exercise, etc. - rather than just sit and watch TV all summer. Reading is one of those goals we both have, and mine specifically is to read two books a week, not including audiobooks. I think it's pretty possible, between nap times and keeping the TV off a couple nights a week after Charlotte goes to bed for the night. I started working toward that goal this past week, and succeeded in completing two non-audiobook books. I'm excited to see how many I end up cranking out.

Now for the book reviews (which include the two I read this week as well as a couple audiobooks I listened to and a few books I completed over the course of the last several weeks).