Friday, October 30, 2015

The Fangirl Initiative Autumn Mission: Challenge Accepted

This week, the website I write for, The Fangirl Initiative, issued another reading mission: Fall into a Good Books The challenge is shorter, only ten prompts, but the prompts are just as fun. I plan to try to complete six of the ten (as required to succeed), but I hope I can find time for all ten! The challenge runs until November 27th, so you should definitely think about joining!


Here's my potential reading list for the next month. Since I'm still in school, I'm going to try to use the books I have to read for the list. We'll see. I've already completed one.

1. Read something spooky: horror, Gothic, paranormal.

I read Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson for my Mary Shelley class. It was definitely in the realm of... spooky. I enjoyed it immensely.

2. Read something pumpkin related. (A book about pumpkins, a book with a pumpkin on the cover, a book the color of a pumpkin, anything.)

This one has me stumped. I don't know of any books off the top of my head about pumpkins or even with pumpkins on the cover. I'm up for suggestions, but I'll probably figure something out. Or skip it.

3. Read something with less than 300 pages.

I've got multiple books I could pick for this one:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard

4. Read something with a place in the title.

To be funny I want to say A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid (for school). But I might find something else that actually fulfills the prompt.

5. Read a book about sisters.

Does Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiography count?
(I'm sure I'll find some book to work for this. I just haven't specifically picked on yet.)

6. Re-read a favorite book. The first Saturday in November is dedicated to Book Lover’s Day.

Well. I've got plenty to choose from. I'll have to look through my list(s) of favorites to pick one! I might pick one of the Narnia books because it's been a while since I read it.

7. Read a children’s book. The third week of November is dedicated to National Children’s Book Week. Bonus points if you read with a child.

I've got plenty of books to choose from. Plus, my nephew is around a lot, so I'm sure I'll get to read to him. I'd like to read Crankenstein to him, especially if he's crank (get it?).

8. Read a book with magic in it. 

Among Others by Jo Walton. This author is visiting my school in November. I'd love to read her book before she comes. It contains magic. And it won the Hugo Award and an bunch of other awards.

9. Read a book you’re thankful for.Read a book and thank it (or even its author?) for existing.

Again, I've got plenty of books to choose from for this one. Though, I'm thankful for every book.

10. Read a book related to fairy tales.

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson.

So while I don't have every single book picked out, I've got a wide selection. Since NaNoWriMo is coming, along with the end of the semester (which means papers, projects, and more), it might be a real challenge to read six books. But I'm determined to try it!

Let me know if you're participating or if you've got recommendations for any of the categories.

-Jaime.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Not By Sight by Kate Breslin--Book Review

Synopsis:
Not by Sight by Kate Breslin follows Grace Mabry, a spunk suffragette in England during WWI, who is willing to do whatever it takes to help her country. However, there are plenty of people doing nothing help the country—such as Jack Benningham, a handsome, rich, able-bodied man who would rather swoon young ladies and party his life away. Or so Grace thinks when she gives him a white feather of cowardice at a masquerade. Then she joins the Women’s Forage Corps to help out and finds Jack Benningham holed up in a mansion, scarred and blinded from a fire accident. Soon her view on Jack, the war, and herself begin to change.

My Thoughts:
Here’s my thing with this book. I have confidence it’s good. I have confidence it’s great even. It just starts off slow. Too slow for my tastes, I must say.
I didn’t finish this book. I didn’t find anything to keep my going. This isn’t to say someone else out there couldn’t find something intriguing in it. I thought the synopsis was intriguing when I first picked it up. I wanted to see Grace and Jack interact in high society during the early 20th century like the back cover synopsis and cover photo suggest.
But that didn’t happen. The white feather, the masquerade ball, everything the book suggests from the start is over by chapter two. Then, the characters are off in the country of England doing things that aren’t interesting.
Grace’s character didn’t catch me as anything special either. If anything, I found her annoying, whiny even. She doesn’t seem to be heroic at all (maybe she changes by the end). When she finally interacts with Jack, I felt their scenes were stiff and boring. They go on long drives, they ask each other boring questions. I wanted to scream at them. I wanted to scream at all the characters, including the other ladies of the Women's Forage Corps.
I couldn’t find reason to keep reading this book. I hope, maybe, someday I’ll give it another chance. It might have potential (there are hints of undercover spy stuff) but after 158 pages of dull conversation and no sign of the plot thickening, I must give it up.
I think people who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a side of romance will probably enjoy this book more than I did. They might even enjoy it enough to finish it. I’m just not the right audience for this tale.

You can read an excerpt here to find out for yourself.

-Jaime

I received this book free from Bethany House for my open and honest opinion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Beautiful Books: October 2015

For the next few months, Beautiful People is on hiatus in order to introduce Beautiful Books. Essentially, Beautiful Books is the same concept as Beautiful People except we answer questions about our book(s), especially in preparation for November's National Novel Writing Month escapade (or NanoWriMo).

Check out this link for more information about Beautiful Books and to join the link-up!  :)



1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I was working in a library three years ago, and as I shelved books (or shelf read), I suddenly had the thought of someone sweeping his/her hands over the spines of books and being able to "sense" the magic books held. The basis of the story, a boy with dyslexia, came when I had to write a short story for my fiction writing class. I wasn't "allowed" to write fantasy, so I took out the fantasy and wrote about a boy with dyslexia desiring to read.

But I knew there was much more to this story. I knew my main character was much more special than a boy learning to read (and learning to love reading). I knew the library was much bigger than your average community center.

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?
I've been thinking about this novel for a while now. I wanted to write it for NaNo last year, but my plans changed (I even answered questions about it for Beautiful Books last year before I switched up my idea). I also think the concept is something needed in the world. I want children, dyslexic or not, to come to love reading as much as I do. I want them to experience the magic and wonder books have to offer. I think this story will do that.

3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?
My novel is about a dyslexic boy, Arthur, who learns he has a rare gift when it comes to books: he can hear them talking. He soon learns there's a secret society that protects the library system, and he's one of them. Because of his rare gifts, he's known as an Inkling in this secret society. But the Secret Library Society is failing. Their enemies are to numerous and are crowding in. Arthur soon finds himself on a whirlwind adventure to save libraries, something only he, as an Inkling, can do.

The potential title(s) are: The Inkling, or The Secret Library Society (or a combination). I haven't quite decided. If ideas for more stories related to the SLS come about, I could call them the chronicles of the Secret Library Society with The Inkling as one title.

4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)

Arthur: brave

Samantha, or Sam: dreamy


Unnamed Book Page character (I know, I know, the idea is so developed): loyal


The Library Director: mysterious



There are, of course, more characters that come in and out of the story. But right now, these are the most important and most developed. I'm a pantser/gardener writer, so many things may happen over the course of this next month.

5. Which character(s) do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!
I know Arthur has a special place in my heart. He's got a tough life and being unable to read only adds to his problems. But he's smart and adorable, so I think he'll be fun to get to know deeper. I'm excited to write about Sam because she's still kind of mysterious to me still. The unknown/unnamed characters will be fun to see develop as well. I've got "glimpses" of characters and how they work in the story but nothing is solid yet.

6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?
At first, Arthur's goal is to learn to read. His dyslexia and trouble concentrating hinder him; other children at school bully him; and problems at home tend to dampen his spirits. However, he soon learns there's much more at stake than simply learning to read, so his goals change throughout the story to match the SLS's creeds and then his own approach to protecting the Library and the magic of books. (In the latter goals, enemies of the Library of all kinds get in his way.)

7. Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)
Mainly in a library. XD It's going to be set in the 1950s-ish with possibly time-jumps here and there, depending on how the story goes. The story will go in and out of our world, such as Arthur's hometown library/school/home and the SLS world. There's possibilities of going inside stories as well.

 


8. What is the most important relationship your character has?
Arthur has a lot of relationships that keep the story intact, but his relationship with Sam is vital to the story and becomes special as the story progresses.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
He learns to read and to love books. He learns the importance of stories and the magic of books. And he learns about life and death and saying goodbye.

10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?
I definitely want people to understand the magic books hold. I want there to be a special connection to reading and the joy of reading with the reader by the end.

NaNoWriMo BONUS: Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.
1. Write. Just write without stopping. Write until your fingers hurt. Write until you've got the story down in some shape or form. Don't stop.

2. Find time to write. This is serious business, writing a book (dangerous, too). You open the door and you don't know where you might be swept off too. Cut something out of your life for one month in order to find time. Swear off twitter or netflix or pinterest, if you must. Set timers for yourself so that you didn't just waste an hour "researching."

3. Take breaks. Write for a while but give yourself time to relax and breathe. Do word wars with people in order to feel like you've accomplished something. But then take a breather: eat a snack, take a walk, get up and stretch, allow yourself a moment. Then dive right back in. (Oh, do your homework too.)

That's it, I guess. Let me know if you've participated this month and whether you're doing NaNoWriMo. (You can find me here.) I'd love to hear about your novel!

-Jaime