NewBaby = No NaNo

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With a new baby set to arrive any day now, I will obviously not be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Last year was my first experience with National Novel Writing Month, and I absolutely enjoyed the experience. It was so cool to be a part of a writing community where everyone was excited about writing and supportive of one another. It was also cool to accomplish my goal of writing 50,000 words in a single month.

While I won’t be participating, I do want to offer up some helpful links to those of you who will be participating this year.

  1. NaNoWriMo homepage: If you haven’t signed up yet, or if you’re not sure what NaNoWriMo is all about, make sure you start here.
  2. Need a spark to get your imagination going? Try the Writer Igniter at the DIY MFA website. It randomly selects a character, situation, prop, and setting for you to work with.
  3. Want to publish your masterpiece once it’s finished? I’ve had great experiences with Blurb. I’ve created scrapbooks, a wedding album, and a full text novel with the website’s free, downloadable software. It looks like Blurb is amping up for NaNoWriMo too. They’ve recently added new templates for novels.

 Best wishes to all of you future novelists out there! You can do it!

A Trip to Nonfiction Land

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A quick search on the library’s card catalog leads me an entire floor away from the Young Adult section I usually select my books from. I follow the book spines until I find 306.874 and pull out The Magic Room: A Story About The Love We Wish For Our Daughters by Jeffrey Zaslow. The book comes as a recommendation, and I’m looking forward to trying something new.

In a small town in Michigan, its 1,100 residents are outnumbered by wedding dresses. That’s right—wedding dresses. The most prominent business is town is Becker’s Bridal. Handed down through several generations of Becker women, the business caters to brides searching for the perfect dress for their wedding day. Since the shop is in an old bank, the vault has been transformed into the Magic Room: a room full of mirrors where brides can envision themselves as beautiful brides. Author Jeffrey Zaslow (best known for co-authoring The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch) explores the inner workings of the business and its history, as well as the lives of the brides who venture into the store. The book shows readers not to judge someone by what they look like on the outside. Someone may appear to be a happy bride on the lookout for a perfect dress, but they may have a back story full of heartache. Death of a parent, divorce, and a terrible car accident are just a few of the tales the brides share with the author. Zaslow also focuses on the love parents and caretakers wish for their daughters. While reality television sometimes only shows an obnoxious view of brides and the bridal industry, Zaslow’s story shares a deeper, more loving side.

After reading the book, I know that nonfiction is still not my favorite genre, but I feel good about stretching my reading limbs. Next, I’m on to Ann Brashares’ The Here and Now…yup, back to Young Adult!

Do you have any nonfiction books to recommend?

A Satisfying Series

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The YA section may be flooded with trilogies, but honestly, I sort of love them. It gives readers more of the characters and the world that the author has crafted, yet is still a manageable amount of reading. There’s no need to wait years and years for the series to conclude (like Harry Potter), yet there’s not the let-down of a stand-alone book.

If you’ve enjoyed other dystopian trilogies such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Matched, I’ve got another reading recommendation for you: Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky. The books in the series are Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, and Into the Still Blue. I read all three books in under a week and a half. I was caught up in the story and wanted to know what would happen to the characters. One night, I read 100 pages in bed before I decided I should put the book down and get some sleep!

The first book in the series introduces readers to Aria, a teenager living in a pod city called Reverie. She has never been outside because the Aether storms (violent, lightning-like storms) are too dangerous. Instead, she escapes to a virtual world. Her perfect, protected world suddenly collapses one evening when she and her friends venture to a powerless pod. Aria’s disobedience to the rules get her tossed out of Reverie. Luckily, she meets an Outsider named Perry who helps her survive the outer wasteland. Perry is a hunter for his tribe, and his life could not be more different from Aria’s. While Aria has lived with lots of technology and medical advances, Perry lives simply. His tribe has been living off the land, but now the Aether storms are destroying their farmlands and resources. Aria and Perry must find a way to work together to make sure the human race survives.

Why did I enjoy the series so much?

  1. Interesting Characters – The book has two narrators, Perry and Aria. While the dual narrators didn’t work for me in Allegiant, Rossi successfully voices two very different characters. You’ll find yourself caring about each of the narrators, as well as many of the other characters in the book.
  2. Believable World – The Aether storms reminded me a bit of the sun flares in The Maze Runner series, but weren’t quite as extreme. With all the recent weather-related tragedies happening around the world: typhoons, hurricanes, flooding, volcanoes—I can buy the idea that lightning storms could make life difficult for people. I can also buy into the idea that some people would look to technology to keep them safe, and that others would not be as lucky.
  3. Satisfying Ending – I hate it when I finish up a book and the ending feels incomplete, goes off topic, or feels forced. Rossi did a great job of wrapping up the series in a way that felt believable and satisfying.

Have you read the Under the Never Sky trilogy? What did you think of it?

If not, how do you feel about trilogies?

One Year Blogiversary

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I can’t believe it’s been a year since I started blogging. Based on the failed journals and diaries of my past, I thought it was something I’d try, but wouldn’t succeed at. I’m proud of myself for really giving the blog a chance—even during the summer slump.

Looking at the stats, I’ve been visited by 675 viewers in 18 different countries and have almost 80 followers. While these numbers may seem small to some bloggers, I’m absolutely amazed! I’m glad I was able to post about topics that other people cared about as well. My top blog posts of the year were:

  1. No Love for Allegiant
  2. Banned Books Week 2014
  3. Literary (Temporary) Tattoos
  4. Entry #14 – Dream Cast
  5. Entry #1 – Where Your Books Live

Thanks to all of you in the blogosphere who have taken the time to stop by my blog. I appreciate the support.

Library Book Haul

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I’ve been on a reading roll lately! I’ve read seven books in just about a month (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Attachments, Bittersweet, The Impossible Knife of Memory, Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, and Into the Still Blue) – so I’m hoping to get a few more books read before Baby arrives at the end of October. When I stopped at the library today to return other books, I found some really great reads. Here’s what I came home with:

1.  Catherine by April Lindner: I thoroughly enjoyed Lindner’s first novel, Jane, which was a modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre. I hadn’t even realized she had another novel out, so I’m most excited to read this book. It’s a retelling of Wuthering Heights.

2.  The Here and Now by Ann Brashares: Back in the day, I was a fan of Brashare’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants novels, so I’m hoping I’ll like this novel as well. Goodreads describes the novel as “An unforgettable epic romantic thriller,” so the style is going to be very different than her previous novels.

3.  Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige: I saw this novel on blogs and book lists and was curious about it. I’ve watched The Wizard of Oz, read Wicked, and saw the musical, so I’m interested to see where Paige takes the classic story.

4.  The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow: This book was recently recommended to me, and I’m anxious to read it—especially because it was in the non-fiction section of the library. I don’t venture there very often! The book is about a family owned small-town bridal shop and the women who come into the shop to purchase their wedding gowns.

What books are you excited to read next?

Banned Books Week 2014

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- Banned Books Week is September 21-27, 2014 -

In honor of the upcoming Banned Books week, I encourage you to check out one of my earlier posts about banned and challenged books here. You can also visit the American Library Association’s website to learn more about Banned Books Week and to find lists of frequently banned and challenged books. You could also read my post about one of this year’s most frequently challenged books, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, by clicking on this link. Another great way to celebrate the week is to pick up a banned or challenged book at your local library. You’d be surprised at how many of your favorite books have stirred up controversy! Celebrate your freedom to read!

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