Wednesday, August 19, 2015

These are the Moments - Book Review

I discovered Jenny’s blog via Pinterest about two months before the release of her debut novel, These are the MomentsI wanted to make sure I supported her as an author because I am very interested in the self-publishing/indie author culture, so I even preordered it!

I'm so excited to add this to my collection of self-published titles, and I'm even more excited to add more to the collection. Although, my goal is to develop my career in traditional publishing, I want to support indie authors as much as I can, and maybe even self-publish myself.

I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, but I couldn't seem to get my words to sound right. I found These are the Moments to be an impressive debut novel, not only with believable characters and an interesting plot, but also a subtle message that encourages some soul searching.

This is the blurb from the back of the book……

You can't go back.
You can't go back.
You can't go back.

Ten years ago Wendy Lake fell in love with Simon Guidry, who grew up and went away. Now, not much has changed. She's back at home, back from college, almost back to normal. Until Wendy's best friend gets engaged, sending Simon ricocheting back into her life, and leaving Wendy with the questions she's been struggling to ignore.
Do people ever really change?
Do two people, who can never make it work, actually make it right?
And most importantly, does she even want to?

Wendy is at the time of her life where so many life decisions are right in front of her. Her relationships, her career, and her passions are all clawing for her attention. She had thought Simon was in her past but now he's back, and Wendy is forced to come to terms with their history and the future, hers especially.

Jenny did a wonderful job with developing Wendy’s character. Her thoughts and emotions were very real and translated in a way that was relatable. Although it took me a few chapters to get used to the narration format (back and forth between present and past storylines), it was interesting to see how the young Wendy grew and changed into present Wendy.

I had few issues with the book besides some language that I thought was unnecessary although I understand why it was used. I also wondered what Simon's career actually was, as it was only referred to as a business career in the story. But those were really the only questions I had. I really enjoyed the relationship between Wendy and her sister Claudia, as it transitioned from a tense relationship to a supportive and loving one.

I think what made me really like this book, was that it challenged my own typical expectations. When I read books with romance, I’m expecting that the couple will be together in the end, that the problems will be resolved, that there will be a happily ever after. 

Note: The following statements may be considered spoilers. 

However, as I continued to read These are the Moments, I wanted almost the exact opposite. I wanted Wendy to move on from her past, to really discover all that she could be on her own. I really had no idea how the story would end until the very last chapter. While it had a bittersweet feeling, I felt proud of Wendy’s developing independence and decision to move on from her past. I think I sat for a while after finishing the last chapter, just thinking about the conclusion. It wasn't what I was expecting, and it wasn't really a happy ending, but it was a strong ending and I think it was exactly what it needed to be.

I really enjoyed reading These are the Moments and I’m looking forward to Jenny’s second book.

These are the Moments can be ordered at Amazon or Createspace. Writing inspiration and tips, as well as blog posts and publishing updates can be found on Jenny’s website Blots&Plots.

Monday, July 13, 2015

642 Things to Write About Series - #1

Prompt #1
"What can happen in a second"

Sometimes it can happen after years of knowing someone, their flaws, and their quirks. Sometimes it can happen the first time you meet. It's like putting a piece of a puzzle into place. It only takes a second, a second full of certainty, of realization. It only takes a second to realize that all you wanted has been right beside you. It only takes a second to know that you want to spend the next seconds with them until the seconds turn to minutes, hours turn to days. 
It only takes a second, like flipping a light switch, when light floods your heart and soul. 
A second, just one. That is all it takes, and then you know... 
you're in love.

Monday, May 25, 2015

just go for it

Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly relearning the same things, over and over and over again. It’s almost a daily mantra that I have to tell myself, that nothing is going to happen if I just sit in the corner and wait.

  • I didn’t get a job because I waited for one, I had to go out and apply for it.
  • I can’t just apply to transfer in the Fall, I have to do all the necessary steps, even if those steps make me uncomfortable, like getting a student loan and getting medical information squared away.
  • I can’t expect a conversation when that person doesn’t even know I want to talk with them.

I’ve been stuck in this mindset that “Good things come to those who wait”. I’m not saying that it doesn’t apply in some areas, but for the most part, I have to remind myself to just go for it. That can be the toughest concept to wrap my mind around. I think I get so caught up in the “what ifs” and the “maybe’s” that I never take action. But then I remember the times that I finally did something I'd been thinking of for a long time, and the results turned out so much better than I imagined.

It’s true, a lot of good things can happen without me even trying, but I can’t expect that all of the time. Sometimes it’s my responsibility to make the first step, it doesn’t have to be huge but maybe, just maybe it’ll be enough and lead to something more.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Little Something Different - Book Review

     Recently, I've started a not-so-good habit. Sometimes after work or school I'll stop into Target. That in itself is probably not a good idea, since I mostly just walk around looking at everything. The problem is that I always seem to wander to the back of the store to the book section. It was on one of those spontaneous Target shopping sprees that I found this little book, A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. 

     It's a romance (shocker, I know) told from fourteen points of view, which include the creative writing professor, the cafe barista, and even the campus squirrel. All of the viewpoints follow the budding relationship between Lea and Gabe, two college students who like each other, but are too nervous to actually start a conversation. 

     Now, it could be that I didn't have any homework that day, or I could have just been intentionally ignoring the ever growing stack of impending disaster... Anyway, once I got home I sat on the couch and finished the book in two hours. Which now that I think about it, is pretty sad because the book was super delightful and I probably should have taken my time with it. I guess that's what happens when you take an English Major and drown them in homework and changing work schedules, they eventually break down and spend an afternoon just reading. 
     A basic summary of the plot is that Gabe and Lea go to the same college, study at the cafe, go to the same diner, order the same Chinese food, but they can't seem to be able to talk to each other. The baristas can see it, the creative writing professor can see it, everyone around the two can see that a relationship could definitely work, except Gabe and Lea don't know how to talk to each other. It's not that they don't want to, it just doesn't happen. 

     I really liked how I could relate to the characters, like the barista. Seriously, this is one of the reasons I hang out in the cafeteria at school, I like watching people and relationships develop. It's like a real-life TV show. 
     Of course, Lea and Gabe are super relatable too. The story really brought to life a relationship that both people want but don't know how to start it. It described those moments that everyone goes through, like how even a simple wave or hello is something to be excited about. 

     A Little Something Different was just that, a little something different in a really amazing way.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Book Thief - Book Review

After one brief attempt a couple months ago, I decided to tackle The Book Thief again. It was one of the three books chosen to read for the college book club, so I resolved to work through it even though it’s not a book I would typically read. 
Actually, that is one of my reading goals this semester, to read more classics or books that are a bit deeper than the Young Adult new releases. I’ve done pretty well so far. I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 and now The Book Thief and I have plans for others. 

The Book Thief follows the life of ten year old Liesel and her experiences in Nazi Germany. She is sent to live with foster parents in Molching, and has difficulties with the cultural changes taking place around her as well as her own coming of age. The plot reaches defining moment when her foster parents take in Jewish fugitive, offering him shelter in the basement. Of course, as the title would suggest, Liesel has developed a habit of stealing books. Liesel and the Jew, Max, bond over their need for stories, as a way of healing and discovery. 

It seemed like I was stuck in the first quarter of the book for a while, but I could have predicted that would happen. With the magnitude of the storyline, it needed enough time to really set up the characters, and the plot. Once Max appeared in the basement writing stories on ripped out pages of a Nazi manual, and Liesel began taking books out of the mayor’s library, I found myself turning page after page.

Markus Zusak is a very talented writer, making the world of Nazi Germany a vivid, living place. The turmoil of violence, mislead innocents, and brave, young souls. This amazing work had me up into the middle of the night so I could finish Liesel’s story. With so many stories about the pain and suffering of World War II, The Book Thief is a wonderful reminder that a thread of hope was always woven within as well.

Monday, February 9, 2015

words on assignment

Why is it that I can write so well on school assignments? I search Pinterest and find pictures overflowing with inspiration, but the school assignments are when the words seem to just fill the screen. Adjectives, descriptions, and meaning just evolve and appear. I'm not quite sure what that means, or how I should even use that information. Should I focus on more analytic writing? Focus on the informative, less of the creative?

Maybe it is the scare of the deadline. Take tonight for example. I sent in one of the last special assignments four minutes before the deadline. Four minutes. I push myself into a panic, even though I had all week to work on it. I procrastinate, blaming work or being on campus, as the reason to why I've had to wait until now. But really, maybe deep down I know that my best writing is in the heat of the moment, when my thoughts have to written down fast, when they have to pour out like hot lava onto the page. When I have to send in the assignment before the words have time to cool, to solidify. 

How to I translate this into my creative writing? The potential of actually finishing a story seems unattainable, out of my grasp. I can write the beginning, no problem, but once I have to think about a conclusion, and end, I freeze. The lava flow screeches to a halt. Sometimes I can see the end, but it is shrouded in fog and mist. It's not that I don't want to finish the story, but maybe I'm worried that I'll mess it up. That the ending won't do the story justice. Ending are my problem, at least for now.

For whatever reason, my schoolwork is bringing out my creative side this semester. It's strange but I'm thankful to have the words flowing again, even if it only for school assignments.