#24 hour read-a-thon: Books 3 and 4

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me, reading

OMG it’s so hard to stay focused!  I am really enjoying both Weird Sisters and From Cape Town with Love.  Blair Underwood writes one hell of a steamy mystery.  its the third (I think) in a series of Tennyson Hardwick novels.  Tennyson is a private detective that is the main character and boy is he spicy.  There is a steaming hot sex scene before we even get to the inciting incident.  He also makes a tremendous error that will have you saying, “oh, no he didn’t!” and telling your friends about it.  It’s that unbelievable.  I had this horrible feeling that I’d spoiled the ending for myself.  I’d dropped the book, picked it up and accidentally read something towards the end that seemed to spoil the main mystery in the story.  however, as I read more tonight I realized that if I spoiled one mystery it doesn’t matter because there are at least three mysteries woven into the plot.  Wow.

The Weird Sisters is great.  The narrator is not one but all three sisters.  It almost reads as if an omniscient fourth sister is telling the story in third person.  Get this: there is no fourth sister.  The personal pronoun most often used is “our” when referring to things the sisters owned together (their parents, their home etc) and there is never an “I” used except in dialog.  Sometimes, I hear three voices in my head in unison as I read.  The  physical characteristic of each characters isn’t greatly described (beyond their long brown hair and their clothing style) which I like.  It makes me feel like I could be any of the sisters or any of them could be my sister.  I’ll be honest though, I read the character of Rose as Kate Winslet and Bean as Rachel Weisz and Cordelia as Anne Hathaway.  Those are just the face I immediately saw as soon as the narrator began to tell each story. And that was long before the description of the long brown hair. It’s beautifully written and engaging, which is a good sign because I’m only about sixty pages in so you know the rest of the book will be fabulous.  I’m excited to see where it goes.

Having abandoned the dishes and my husband  I leave you now to head back to the books.

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Book 2: Disaster Preparedness

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My stack of books for the read athon

That’s my stack for the Read-A-Thon.  I love the fact that I finally have an excuse to read all the hard copy books on my book shelf. I usually read a lot on my kindle so it feels good to be showing these books some love.

I just finished Heather Havrilesky’s Disaster Preparedness.  While it was well written, it was a tough book to finish in one (broken into many starts and stops) sittings.  I think that’s my own fault.  Next October, or even in this next hour, I’m breaking up my reading to keep me focused.  I met Heather at a Writing Pad retreat, and let me tell you, she is as much of a hoot in person as she is in writing.  By “hoot” I mean hilarious observer of life who tells it like it is even if that means swearing.  LOVE HER.

I enjoyed Heather’s musings on her life and the themes in all of our lives that truly require some disaster preparedness: parents getting divorced, first love, surviving middle school, our relationship (or lack thereof)with God, our relationship with our brothers and sisters, our parents, their relationships, parent’s death etc.  Don’t get me wrong, this did not read like a “how to guide to life” like my list of themes might suggest.  Those are just the themes of the chapters.  The narrative has a definite non linear quality to it though it feels like it starts when she’s younger and by the end more stories of her adult hood are included.

Heather does a great job of weaving together her experiences of the same theme and showing how she had grown because of that these experiences.  The narrator not only changes by the end of the book (which is the standard structure for memoir and most narratives) but also develops and changes with each chapter. This also makes sense because as an essayist, each chapter reads like a short delightful essay. It was fun and a funny read.  There were definitely moments that made me laugh out loud.

Book 3 and 3 are The Weird Sisters  by Eleanor Brown and From Capetown with Love by the actor Blaire Underwood. These two books couldn’t be more different. Don’t let Blair Underwood discourage you.  His book is cowritten by two other writers who are awesome, Tananvarie Due and Steven Barnes.  Apparently their past collaborations have been award winning.  I won a copy of the Weird Sisters in a random drawing from The Debutante Ball.  I love winning things. I’m going to be breaking up my reading to keep me going! I’m diving in. Happy reading.

Image credit:  me

Read a thon status update

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Wow, this is much more fun and a little more difficult then I anticipated! I’m still reading Disaster Preparedness.  It’s a hilarious look into Heather’s life and her parents’ divorce so far. Books like this make me wonder if having kids is a good idea (though that is not why they got a divorce) and they also help me to understand the craziness of the 80’s a bit more (the book is set in the 70’s and forward).  I’m not letting things like breakfast, groceries, and falling a sleep mid chapter stop me!  The husband may just have to cook dinner tonight.  I have a lot of hours to make up for.  I think I will extend my read a thon well past 5 am tomorrow morning.  thanks for the support.

24 Hour Read-a-Thon Book 2: Disaster Preparedness

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My next book is Heather Havrilesky’s memoir Disaster Preparedness.  I met Heather at a writing retreat and she was a hoot.  I can’t wait to read her memoir.

Goodreads describes her memoir as: A perceptive, witty memoir about the transformative humiliations of childhood-and adulthood-from a unique, already-beloved voice.

Actually the Goodreads’s description was as long as a blog post, so that’s the short version.  I’m diving in.  Happy reading.

24 Hour Read-a-thon: Parable of the Sower

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I just finished Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. It is truly the answer to my constant question of “where are all the people of color in dystopian fiction?”  Post Apocolyptic America is a huge theme in young adult fiction (Delirium, the Hunger Games, Matched, etc.) right now, as well as fiction in general, especially if you include the zombie themed writing (World War Z, The Walking Dead).  The difference between YA dystopian lit and World War Z and The Walking Dead is its curious lack of diversity. (World War Z happens all over the world.  The Walking Dead graphic novel is way more diverse then the TV show.) This lack of diversity in the main characters was really annoying to me.  It’s not the world I live in nor the world of many of my friends.

Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower starts in 2024 and takes us through September 2028 in Southern California.  Written in 1993, Butler creates a Southern california and a United States that is seriously resembles issues that we currently face in 2012.  The issues the characters face in the story aren’t on the door step of Main Street but they are definitely around the corner.  The main character, Lauren Olamina, sees the writing on the wall and decides that being prepared is better then being complacent.   The story begins when she is fifteen and takes us through the events that shift her world and disrupt her community.  I feel like I can’t say too much about the plot without spelling out major spoilers, which I hate.  I will say that an important theme is how Lauren’s understands God and the development of the Earthseed.  This is threaded throughout her recolletion of events that make the plot but its not overwhelming or disrupting the plot.

I really enjoyed this book.

Things I learned and hope to include improve in my writing (I will try not to include any spoilers.:

– using clean and simple language.  The story is told through entries in Lauren’s diary, a young girl, so it lacks the flowery descriptive language in which I tend to get myself caught up in order to show and not tell.  I didn’t feel like I was being “told” anything.  I felt that I saw exactly what needed to be seen.

– the characters were people, diverse people, not caricatures of people of color though race was still an issue in the story.   This was not at all a panracial world in which Lauren lived, which I appreciate as a person of color.  Lauren describes how race impacts the relationships within her community.  Each character is like a person any of us might know but because of the situations that pull them together and Lauren’s knowledge of how the world works, there are very real descriptions of  their race and gender effect there lives.  Each character has lost a lot.

There is so much more but I’m struggling to write about it because I don’t want to spoil the book for you.   I just really  hope everyone gives Octavia Butler a try!

24 Hour Read-a-thon: Book 1

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Reading and reading a lot is key to being a good writer (as well as writing, and writing A LOT).  Last night I went to a book reading by author Tayari Jones at Eso Won books in Lemiert Park and wow, am I inspired to  not only write, write what I want to write, but to read and to read a lot.  At the reading I met a woman from a book club, Mocha Girls Read, and another woman in Los Angeles who quit teaching and is writing. She’s writing freelance, which pays, and could be an awesome mentor.  When I joined the book club there was also a link for the Dewey’s Read-a-thon.  The read-a-thon is just reading for 24 hours straight.  I have to work and waking up at 5am is not really that productive for me so I’m starting some of those hours tonight.  I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to do other then read, so read I shall. To kick off my first read-a-thon I am reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the sower.

 

Book cover Parable of the Sower

 Goodreads’s synopis: When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.

As of 4pm on Friday after a few hours of reading, I really like the book.  I enjoy her use of simple language to build vivid detail.  This is not a quick read or an easy read but it is interesting.  I think I read for story as well as for language and structure . I want everything to influence what I am trying to do with my life: write full time.

10 Minute Tuesdays: United Front

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handshake

I have six more hours to write the 300 or more so that I need to write to hit my goal for today.  I’ve written 862 words today, but that was also in an attempt to make up for the words I needed to write for yesterday.  What can I say?  Life got murky, I still tried to focus and get things done, but things got a little hazy.  At least I’m a tad bit more focused now.  But just a tad.  Here is my 10 minute write.  Its part of my introduction to Act two, part one.

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Silent munching on manicotti and bits of the  salad that didn’t hit the floor was a sign of  a truce.  Their biggest fights seemed to happen over dinner, so the three of us siting together with neither parent trying to kill each other was both nice and odd.  Plates of piping hot cheese filled noodles were passed around, covered in sauce, eaten and cleared without a single war like declaration of hatred.  I could barely eat my food for the anxiety of waiting for the other shoe to be dropped.

“Okay,” I finally said once Daddy had taken my half eaten plate away without a word about wasted food, “What is going on here?”

They both looked at me, silent and eyes wide, as if to say, “I didn’t do it” and escape the blame.

“The last time we had dinner like this was when you told me you were getting a divorce.  Now, unless you’re getting back together and are trying to break it to me, can you just clue me into what is going on?”  My impatience was pushing the edge of tolerable indigence, so I sat back and tried to keep from crossing my arms over my chest like a child.

They sat silently,taking turns looking at each other then  looking at me and then back to each other.   Mom spoke first.  “Your father and I have been talking about Dr. Oh’s diagnosis of your eyes.  Along with all the issues that have been coming up for you at school,”  I opened my mouth to interrupt, but she held up a hand to stop me.  “We no longer think that Hell High is a good fit for you.”  She sounded the way Mr. Kercher sounded when he fired me a month in to my first job at the Ice Cream Shoppe.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“They can’t provide for you the type of services you’ll need to be successful,” Daddy added.

“You said I didn’t need services, just prayer,” I said.

Mom looked at Daddy, who kept his eyes on me.  She shook her head and rubbed at the space between her nose and forehead the way she always did when she was annoyed with Daddy.  Daddy swallowed hard before saying, “You do need prayer.  We all need prayer.” He added the last part before Mom could object, “but you also need more help then your school is willing to provide.”

 

Image: ‘Handshake