My November

NaNoWriMo

November actually turned out to be pretty useless to me in the writing department, as I was too busy to partake in NaNoWriMo properly. Then in December we received some sad news at work: on January 11th our bookshop is closing down.

Which means… I am going to take a year long writing sabbatical in 2014 to try and complete my latest project and get it published. I am equal parts scared and excited!

So this month I reread two books which I absolutely adore – both on novel writing (and revisions) – and I thought I would share them with you today.

– Written by an editor and a ghost writer, this is very clearly written and will make you think about things which other books fail to mention. Also, surprisingly, it doesn’t claim that there are any hard and fast rules for writing (it’s even lenient on adverbs!).

– Written by 2 editors this is a straight forward revision tool which is much simpler than other more philosophical books on writing. It also discusses how a modern publisher might ‘edit’ a classic which I found rather fun!

I also read Ursula Le Guin’s Steering the Craft last month which has a very good chapter on p.o.v. but is a bit flowery!

Waiting on Wednesday: Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye

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“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated!

Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey’s tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome–pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He’s left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander’s daughter. Loyalty won’t let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.

With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn’t expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.

I’ve just finished reading Laura Kaye’s novella Hearts in Darkness which for a novella was pretty good (review here), so I’m excited to see what she can do with a whole novel.  Also J R Ward is quoted on the cover – I’m sold!

Hard As It Gets is publishing November 26th and coming from Avon.

Book Review: A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin

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Summary:

Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin’s summer took a quick turn for the worse.

After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy both arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.

Review:

Described as having “a hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno” in Netgalley’s catalog I was thrilled when I was accepted to review this. This title had me grinning from page to page and laughing in the most inappropriate settings – but at its heart it’s not a comedy, it’s a coming of age tale filled with angst ridden teenagers.

This book was written from 2 points of view, with the romance element of this novel clearly in mind from the beginning. Emmy’s challenging relationship with her parents and her battle with anorexia were difficult for me to fathom, making me less sympathetic towards her character; she came across as overly angry and somewhat immature. I found Justin’s chapters more enjoyable.

A Really Awesome Mess chooses to confront heavy weight issues like depression but its attempts are blunt and shallow in comparison to some YA books – there’s lots of forthright ‘telling’ in early chapters (no subtle, suspenseful reveals) and as the novel progresses you are so busy focusing on its zany comedic appeal that you loose sight of the deeper stories here.

I’m not sure I was the right audience for this particular title: despite the many references to blow jobs, porn and other items inappropriate for children under sixteen it was clearly written for the teenage reader. In conclusion, A Really Awesome Mess is funny, cute and surprising, but sporting an absence of strong emotional punches.

Rating: ☼☼☼

Book Review: ‘A Most Scandalous Proposal’ by Ashlyn MacNamara

I must confess that I knew I’d probably enjoy ‘A Most Scandalous Proposal’ long before reading it – not because I’m a bit of a romance junkie, or because the cover was gorgeous and the synopsis titivating, although all these things are true, but because I first heard about the book in an email from Nelson Literary Agency (who rep many of my favourite authors, including Simone Elkeles). And I was not disappointed.

Ashlyn MacNamara’s debut grabbed me from start to finnish and made people gawk at me on several occasions when I laughed out loud; Ms MacNamara has a great sense of comic timing. The storyline was kept apace by not one romance or intrigue, but several. Julia is facing the marriage block as the ardent, horrible Clivesden (newly improved by a title) seeks her hand anyway he can, while her sister Sophia manages to wind up engaged to the Earl of Highgate (a scarred mystery) by way of an ill timed faint, and into all of this comes Benedict, Julia’s childhood friend.

I would have liked a slightly more expanded ‘just before the end’ section as the Julia/Benedict romance was settled too soon (why oh why do word counts exist?), but otherwise the book delivered completely. Well rounded likeable main characters with interesting predicaments, check, sexy heroes, check, humour, check.

I read this book through Netgalley (ebook for review) and now I shall be off to the bookstore to buy my own paperback copy for my ‘thoroughly rereadable’ shelf! Any questions? Feel free to post them below…

Next book in the series: ‘A Most Devilish Rogue’ (this will tell the story of Upperton, Benedict’s best friend).

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Why I Hardly Ever Try New Authors

The short answer of course is because I’m lazy.

Because I’ve already found a core of authors in each genre I like that I absolutely love.

But the real answer is that I’m one of those people that finds it really hard not to finish a book – I get ‘book guilts’ if I give up on a novel. Even if it turns out that I hate the main character, or the storyline, or the poor writing, whatever the problem is. Which means if I start a bad book I’m stuck with it, for DAYS.

So, I am reluctant to try new authors.

But see I found some of my favourite authors by trying something new, so I should be making room in my reading pile for others. Only who should I chuck out to make that room?

Here are some of my favourite romance authors, you decide:

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This Book Is Not Very Absorbent…

I love goodreads – who doesn’t? They give fairly accurate ratings (a 4+ is usually a great read) and the reviews are very informative.

While reading a recent review however, of ‘Because I Said So! : The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids’ by Ken Jennings, I came across this…

Goodreads

The Kindness of Strangers

I was working in the shop today, come 4pm and the market’s packing up and I still haven’t bought my lemon (for the lemon and honey drink I plan on having tonight to sooth my throat) and two customers overhear me worrying about this…

And they go to the stall nearby and buy me a lemon, then leave it on the desk.

They were complete strangers.

They were kind.

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It’s this sort of thing that makes me think we’re all human. It makes up for all the times people do really horrible things to one another just because they can…