Tag: life

Book Review: A Short History of the Girl Next Door, by Jared Reck

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Image belongs to Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Matt Wainright has lived in the same cul-de-sac as long as he can remember. His best friend, Tabby, has always lived just across the street. They’re inseparable, and Matt can’t imagine anything ever changing. Except his feelings for Tabby. Matt never saw that coming, and he has no idea how to tell her, but he will. Probably. Until a senior basketball star falls for Tabby, and suddenly everything changes.

Now his best friend is always too busy, and instead of shining on the JV basketball court, Matt finds himself fumbling. Even his younger brother is driving him crazy. Only his favorite class, creative writing, seems to make any sense. Then a tragedy occurs, and Matt can’t make sense of anything, as his life spins out of control and he teeters on the edge of self-destruction.

I was not prepared for this book. At all. I loved Matt’s voice from the very beginning. (With that movie-director voice in his head, of course he’s going to be a writer.) He has grand visions of himself, but his follow-through doesn’t always live up to his hype. This book captures the hope and the confusion of high school, as well as the gobsmacked feeling of first love. I laughed, I hoped, and I cried, right along with Matt. You MUST read this! I’m looking forward to seeing what Jared Reck writes next.

Jared Reck is a teacher who writes alongside of his middle school students. A Short History of the Girl Next Door is his debut novel.

(Galley provided by Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 

More reviews at <a href=” https://tamaramorning.com/”>Tomorrow is Another Day</a>

 

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Writing Update

The truth is, there is no writing happening lately, unless it’s for school or a work email. I just don’t have the brainpower. I have been feeling COMPLETELY overwhelmed with work/school/life and everything I want to accomplish…

Until I realized that wanting to do too much actually results in me doing nothing. Not with any degree of proficiency, anyway.

So…for now, I’m limiting myself to blogging/book reviews, work, school, and Holly Lisle’s Find Your Writing Voice and How to Find Your Writing Discipline workshops. (Yes, I’m aware of the irony.)

I just need to let some things go for a bit before I lose my grip on everything.

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, by Paula Poundstone

happiness
Image belongs to Algonquin Books.

Paula Poundstone is a well-known comic and an author. Her new book is The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness.

Well-known comic Paula Poundstone set out on a seven-year search for happiness, determined to try all the “in” ways to find happiness…like losing weight, getting organized, medication, dance lessons, and renting a Lamborghini. She also raised her three kids, her too-many-to-count cats, her dogs, and juggled her travel and work in comedy.

What she found was there isn’t any one answer to the search for happiness. She found no happiness in some of her efforts, and unexpected amounts of happiness in others, but she eventually learned how to be happy in her life.

I didn’t find this book laugh-out-loud funny, although there was lots of things to laugh about. Instead, I found Ms. Poundstone’s brutal honesty and her unflinching way of looking at life to be refreshing and enlightening. This is an enjoyable and though-provoking read.

Book Review: All the Forever Things, by Jolene Perry

all the forever things
All the Forever Things, by Jolene Perry. Image belongs to Albert Whitman & Company.

Jolene Perry lives in Alaska and writes young adult fiction. Her newest books is All the Forever Things.

Gabe’s family runs a funeral home, so she knows about death and the truth about life:  everything ends. Gabe has embraced her reputation and her Wednesday Addams-vibe, complete with vintage clothes and an I-don’t-care attitude. Her best friend, Bree, is all she needs, someone who understands the weirdness of her life and loves her anyway.

But when Bree starts dating a boy who is the epitome of everything Gabe—and Bree—has hated for years, she wonders if the really knows the truth, or if she knows Bree at all. The only one she can turn to is new boy Hartman, who doesn’t know quite what to make of Gabe, but who gets Gabe out of her shell anyway. Driving a hearse to prom will change Gabe’s life more than she ever imagined.

All the Forever Things is an enjoyable read. Gabe is a character I both loved and sympathized with, and her faux pas and missteps made me laugh and cringe at the same time. Her friendship with Bree broke my heart, and made me hope everything would work out for the two of them, and Hartman is a wonderful contrast for Gabe. If you love young adult books, definitely pick this one up.

(Galley provided by Albert Whitman & Company.)

The Yellow Envelope, by Kim Dinan

The yellow envelope
Image belongs to Sourcebooks.

In May 2012, Kim Dinan and her husband sold all their stuff, quit their jobs, and headed out to travel the world. The Yellow Envelope is their story.

On the surface, Kim Dinan had it all:  a good marriage to a husband she loved, a good job that paid well, the home she’d dreamed about filled with friends and activities that she enjoyed. But inside, she wondered:  is this all there is? Kim concluded that no matter how great her life looked, she would never be truly happy if she didn’t reach for her dreams.

So, she and her husband, Brian, sold their house, quit their jobs, and set off to travel the world. Before they left, they were given a gift: a yellow envelope containing a check and instructions to give the money away as they saw fit. Through Central America, Nepal, India, and beyond, Kim and Brian encountered the world in all its splendor and squalor, overcoming obstacles to their dreams, their travels, and their marriage, as they learned the truth behind their quest for happiness—and how to give.

The Yellow Envelope is about a woman reaching for her dreams, and finding happiness along the way. The travel stories are inspiring, but not as inspiring as the way Kim goes after what she knows will make her truly happy, even in the face of overwhelming opposition. The message behind the actual yellow envelope is also life-changing and worth embracing. I recommend reading this if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, want to travel, or simply need a change.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks via NetGalley.)

Walking to Listen, by Andrew Forsthoefel

Walking to Listen
Image belongs to Bloomsbury USA.

 

After he graduated from college, Andrew Forsthoefel decided to walk across America, really listening to what the people he met had to say. Walking to Listen is the tale of that journey.

Andrew Forsthoefel went out the door of his home in Pennsylvania with a backpack and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He’d just graduated college and was ready to start his adult life…but he didn’t know how. So, he decided to walk across America, wrestling with the hard questions he asked himself every day. Everyone he met would be his guide.

From winter in Appalachia to Death Valley in August, Andrew experienced the true breadth of American geography, but it was the people he met that truly inspired him. He met kindness and fear, diversity and prejudice as people told him their stories. He faced loneliness and fear, but love and hope carried him through his amazing journey.

Walking to Listen is the story of one man on an incredible journey, but it is more than that. The people he meets, the encounters he has are truly inspiring and bring hope for the future amidst the darkness permeating our culture. This book…sure, it’s narrative nonfiction about a journey, but it is so much more than that. The people Andrew met gave me so much hope, and made me want to reach for more. Not only does this book showcase the true diversity of this nation, but it gives a face to the human experience. I highly recommend reading this.

(Galley provided by Bloomsbury USA via NetGalley.)

When Not Writing is the Answer

My goal for this month was to finish up the first draft of The Fall. The story is completely outlined–using my favorite, a phase outline–everything is fresh in my mind, I still like the story…but for the past few weeks, forcing myself to sit down and write has been kind of like pulling teeth.

Today, I figured out why:  the story that’s outlined, that I’ve been writing, is no longer the story I want to tell.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to tell this story. But the story is no longer about what I thought it was about. So, I have all these little glimpses and glimmers of the other story in my head, but I don’t have my trail mapped out. I’m close to finishing the current draft, but there’s really no point, since I no longer want to tell the story.

So, I’m going to stop writing this story. Give myself a break for the rest of the month to deal with the huge, looming reports due at work. Continue outlining the Witches rewrite, but stop all of my other writing efforts as I focus on the job and school for a couple of weeks.

And bump The Fall to a bit later on my list of writing projects.

Looking for Inspiration

Today, I’m looking for something to get me writing. Inspiration, motivation, some kind of cattle prod wired to my chair that zaps me if I get up…. You know, the usual.

I work best under pressure, or with “too much” to do. Something about knowing there are a ton of things that need to be done keeps me focused and allows me to get things accomplished. (A close friend once told me, “You get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do all day!” This is easier if your days routinely start at 3 a.m. I’m just saying…)

My new class—my first journalism class—starts tomorrow, and I’m moderately terrified (likely to upgrade to “completely”.). My job responsibilities changed last week, with the addition of an entire second location to do administrative tasks for. Then there’s the novel I’m writing, the one I’m actively revising, and the one I’m outlining. Not to mention the copywriting class I’m working my way through. And the book reviews that are due or past due. Blogging. I think you see my point.

While this would normally prove super-motivating and really keep me focused and on-task, sometimes, I have to fight a little bit harder to get inspired. (Hence this post instead of my first 500 words of fiction for the day.)

With that in mind, here are four things that might motivate you (and me) to write:

31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing, by Leo Babauta

Inspiration

A Writer’s Inspirations, by Shea

10 Tricks For Getting Inspired to Write, by Jonathan Morrow

 

Fits and Starts

Sometimes, the writing comes easily. Sometimes…it feels like running a marathon with 10-pound weights on each foot:  impossible.

This week, it has been both for me.

I did manage to get at least some words written every day Monday-Thursday, although Tuesday and Thursday only saw a handful, nowhere near my goal. Yesterday, I was mentally done with the week, and I didn’t even try.

Today…it’s been going fairly well. I only have 500 words to go to meet my word count goal for the day…which was initially 0, but since Tuesday and Thursday were barely productive, I knew I needed to make them up today. So, 2,000 words so far today, 500 to go.

Feeling a lot less completely overwhelmed with life and work and school as a result.

Love

hvd
I don’t own this image.

I hope everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day, whether you have a Valentine or not. Love yourself. Eat chocolate. Be happy. Love is important, and loving yourself is near the top of the list.

Write something you love today, no matter how simple. Try out something you’ve been meaning to write. A limerick? Haiku? Adventure short story? Cheesy high school romance? If you love it, write it. Worry about the details later.