Feeling Bookish?

Written By: Dawn - Jan• 04•16

A lifelong dream fulfilled- floor-to-ceiling bookshelves! I unpacked 23 boxes of boxes. Sometimes I like to stand in the doorway and just look at them.

 

I know, it’s been a while! But 2016 is here and we’re all feeling the rush that comes with new beginnings and fresh starts. Every year I set a reading goal, usually about 25 books, and it’s one of the few goals I manage to achieve (31 for 2015).

This year my friend Dani posted a great Reading Challenge template (there are many on the internet) and I decided to stretch my wings a bit and go for it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have a few thoughts on reading given that I’m both a writer and a library professional. Here are my tips for having a great year in books.

  1. Identify your appeal factors. In professional Reader’s Advisory, appeal factors are indictors of preference. Some people are plot driven, others are character driven. Some people want a fast pace, others want an epic read that spans generations in glorious detail. I am character driven, but the factor I respond to most is voice. If the voice of the narrative (note, not the narrator) doesn’t speak to me, I won’t stay with a book. Once you figure out what appeals most to your sensibilities, you’ll be able to find great books, even ones that are out of your comfort zone.
  2. Step out of your comfort zone- occasionally. I say occasionally because, let’s face it, we’re all pressed for time. Sometimes you want an easy read, a light read or a feel-good read. I read mostly commercial fiction. In part because that’s what I write, but also for the fun and escapism. At least once a year, I do opt for some literary title that’s a classic, a prize winner or getting a bit of buzz. My 2015 choice was The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendetta Vida. It’s a slim volume with an unusual point-of-view. Slightly creepy, but not in a Girl on the Train way.
  3. Don’t be afraid to jump on the bandwagon. Sometimes a book becomes the book, the one everyone is talking about. Perhaps it won an award or is based on a true story (but not, shall we say, Twilight fan fiction IYKWIM). While normally I’d advise against following the crowd, this is an exception. Why? Because it’s fun to participate in the conversation. It’s fun to read something you normally wouldn’t (see ya, comfort zone) and it’s exciting to be in “the know.” The Martian  was that book for me this year. Talk about a great voice, how could I pass up a book that opened like this- I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. 
  4. Don’t continue reading a book you aren’t enjoying. Yeah, I just said that. The older I get, the better I’ve become at letting go of stories that aren’t doing if for me. There are a variety of reasons I let go of a book but the main one is that I’m not interested in the characters. Notice that I didn’t say I didn’t like them. I’ve stuck with many unlikeable folks for hundreds of pages. (I’ll save the pain of being a George R. R. Martin fan for another post.) Trust your intuition here. I’ve read many books that have horrible set-ups (The Lovely Bones is the first that comes to mind) that were amazing reads. And yes, I understand that books that fall under tips #2 & #3 might end up in this category for you. But that’s okay!

There are several great resources for finding new books. Almost all women’s magazines and new magazines have book reviews, as do newspapers. I rarely use the NYT Sunday Book Review to find to new things, but I do pay attention its bestseller list, since those are the titles my library patrons will be asking about. Local independent booksellers are another great resource (yes Virginia they still exist) as is your local library. In fact, you can go up to a librarian and ask about Appeal Factors and he or she will take you to the NoveList database. Once there you can find read-alike titles or authors as well as good reviews and information on books you’re wondering about. I use Goodreads only as a tracking tool in my personal reading, but many people love it as a discovery spot for new titles.

What, you may wonder, was my favorite book of 2015? Easy. Marion Keyes wonderful The Woman Who Stole My Life

Wishing you all happy reading!

943894_10153423767747807_283866088086567287_n (1)

This is the reading challenge I’ll be doing.

Comic-Con 2015: The Good, the Bad & Star Wars

Written By: Dawn - Jul• 22•15
IMG_4007

New for 2015, my Han Solo costume. Cute, simple and comfy for a long day!

 

We came, we waited, we saw, we waited some more and I daresay we conquered the beast that is San Diego Comic-Con International over July 8-12. One does not simply walk into Mordor and the same is true of SDCC. It’s busy. It’s crazy. The lines are insane. The volume of people can literally crush you. But if you plan, have patience and hydrate, you can experience some amazing things, things that will only ever happen at SDCC.

True confessions time, I went into this SDCC as likely my last. The stress and complications associated with going have risen exponentially since I began going in 2009 when I bought single day Friday tickets for the boys and me online in March as a last minute add-on to our annual beachside vacation. Now you have to have a registered account (easy) but the previous year’s attendees still have an enormous advantage over the general public- we have  a separate badge purchase day. Going to SDCC each year keeps your account active and I have been unwilling to let my status slip.

This year the hotel lottery was a complete clusterfuck with major technical  glitches I have yet to read a reasonable explanation of. The parking spot lottery was more complicated and complex than ever. My friend Wil and I spent three hours trying to secure lodging- by far the most stressful and expensive part of your SDCC experience- and failed using the official channels. In the end, we used Airbnb and were fortunate not to be gouged with the price.

My main reason for returning this year was simple- Star Wars. I figured Disney and Lucasfilm would pull out all the stops for THE FORCE AWAKENS. So imagine my disappointment  when all the pre-con announcements confirmed a minimal Star Wars presence.

Or so we were led to believe.

Me, Lady D and Bkitty. I have attended SDCC with these ladies since 2009!

Me, Lady D and Bkitty. I have attended SDCC with these ladies since 2009!

The Truth About Hall H and those pesky Wristbands!

Traditionally Hall H and Ballroom 20 host the biggest, most sought after panels. I have spent many hours in line and inside a panel room, but haven’t given up that kind of time since 2012. In fact, my last two SDCC’s were great without being in a high-profile panel. So when Lady D said she really wanted to be in Hall H all day, which meant camping out Thursday night, I agreed because the day included The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones (I’d never been to either panel and HBO always gives swag) and Star Wars.

SDCC began a new Hall H wristband program last year to reduce the need for camping out, limit people holding places in line for large groups and create the best sense of fairness for 7000 seats at a convention 130,000 attend.

I’ll say this- SDCC is still working out the kinks in this system. The good part- a wristband guarantees you a seat in the first panel of the morning (you may then stay all day). The bad part- you stand in line to wait for the wristbands, which are distributed at 8:30 p.m. the night before. Once you have your wristband, you may campout if being up close is important to you, or you may go home and as long as you’re back in line (separate line for wristband folks) by 7:30 a.m. you’ll get inside.

The mistake we made was getting in line late Thursday afternoon. Apparently people started getting in line as early as 9 a.m. Thursday morning (or earlier). Personally I’m glad we all enjoyed a full day of the con before getting in line, but it turned out to be a big risk. We could tell we were far back, but given that Hall H holds nearly 7000, we felt confident. At 8:30 p.m. the wristband distribution process began and this is where SDCC organizers really failed.

They had three people, with about four security people walking with them, handing out, individually since they checked your badge, wristbands for 7000 people.

There’s a term called “the fog of war” that refers to all the misinformation that gets communicated at the beginning of an event and how complicated it is to determine fact from fiction in the heat of the moment. This is exactly what happened. The #HallHLine Twitter feed blew-up and what we, at the back of line saw frightened the hell out of us. Massive line-cutting, useless security to prevent people from cutting and a slow-as- molasses process for giving out  the wristbands. Wil and I did a few rounds of recon to get to the truth, and at that point, everything we read on Twitter was accurate. The two line security people at the front of our section of the line confirmed the process.

I’m disappointed about the aggressive line-cutting. It doesn’t reflect well on the geek community but speaks to the frantic desire to “win” a coveted seat in Hall H. Despite all this, we remained confident we’d still get a wristband.

At 10:30 p.m. I did another round of recon. Twitter was reporting that people in our section of the line were screwed, that another section was hidden from view behind Joe’s Crab Shack on Enbarcadero Island. I discovered this was true. About 1500 people were lined up back there and they were section two of the line and we were in section three. As it turns out, our line security people were well aware of those others and basically did a “don’t tell unless they ask” approach. We were in shock now, and very concerned about getting wristbands.

At midnight the three wristband givers approached the front of our section of the line, Twitter said that they were down to less than 50, out completely and waiting for hundreds more. I noticed a huge swarm of bodies out of line near the front- these were the cutters. By now people in line were well aware of cutting tactics and word spread down the line to call out cutters. And people did. After  seven hours in line together we all knew who was supposed to be next to us.

In the end, we did get wristbands, I believe we were part of the last 50 given out. It was 12:30 a.m. We went home to sleep and were back in line by 7 a.m.

This was a ridiculous process that could be greatly improved by ditching the wristbands and automating Hall H entrance through the bar codes on  our badges. Have people swipe their badge to reserve a seat and then before they enter Hall H, they swipe again. If it doesn’t come up green, then they don’t get in. Even if they had only four or five iPads or kiosks for swiping, they could use staffing to ensure the line isn’t compromised. Please fix this SDCC!

If ever there was a day to be in Hall H…

So we got into Hall H, found a seat near one of the big screens and hunkered down for a long day. Hall H is self-contained with restrooms and food vendors, so you don’t need to worry about losing your spot, or about people getting in who aren’t in line.

The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead panels were great fun but my favorite was Game of Thrones because Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne, is delightful to listen to. She is statuesque and amazingly beautiful, though her character is always made fun of for being ugly and unwomanly. You could see her drinking in all the energy and fan-love in the room, which made her all the more appealing. What I enjoyed most was how she spoke about women’s roles, the one she plays and the balance of being a strong woman who doesn’t fit the traditional standards of beauty not only in Westros, but here in the US as well. I highly recommend watching the Game of Thrones panel if you’re a fan of the show.

It was all fine and dandy but as we waited for the Star Wars panel to begin, the air in Hall H changed. Suddenly more security were visible. Something was up. The only thing we could imagine that necessitated this? Harrison Ford, who never participates in Star Wars fandom.

The panel began (watch it here) and what happened there is now part of SDCC and geek legend. And I was there. I had goosebumps, I teared up. My stomach hosted butterflies and in general I felt less like a 48-year-old mom of two and more like a 10-year-old girl as the hour progressed.

For you non-geek readers this may seem like a great opportunity to say “get a life Dawn” but let me ask you this, when was the last time you felt the pure joy of expectancy? Because that’s exactly what happened. Remember what it felt like when you believed in Santa or the Tooth Fairy? Remember magic? Have you read The Polar Express? Well Santa Claus came to Hall H that day. His real world name is J.J. Abrams.

Not only did I witness the Legacy cast- Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford- I saw the new cast. (Please watch the panel for Gwendoline Christie again, she’s fantastic!) Then J.J. invited us all to a concert featuring the music of Star Wars.

And in calm, orderly fashion (so unlike the mess of the wristbands the night before) 7000 people left Hall H and walked behind the convention center to Embarcadero Island.

Surprise!

Surprise!

 

They gave us all light sabers! Michael, Lady D, Bkitty, me and Alex.

They gave us all light sabers! Michael, Lady D, Bkitty, me and Alex.

 

We were all a bit excited!

We were all a bit excited!

 

The sun went down and our light sabers glowed bright. What a magical evening!

The sun went down and our light sabers glowed bright. What a magical evening!

But Wait! There’s more!

It’s hard to imagine anything great happening after Friday night’s activities, but SDCC does go on. Saturday my goal was to get into the HBO Game of Thrones Experience, something I missed last year (they closed the line right as we arrived).

HBO brings props and some interactive features to an offsite exhibit. The big draw is the Iron Throne, which you can sit and pose in. Wil, Rick and I waited over four hours to get in. When we finally did, we were disappointed to discover the exhibit was one more long line as each person had to stop and do one of the interactive features. Okay, so this was cool-

White Walker me

White Walker me

But we were beat. Luckily we were able to bypass the biggest line- for a sword interaction- and get in line for the Iron Throne. They had about six costumes- Dany, Cersei, Arya and Tyrion, but I sure wish they’s brought more props because I was far more interested in those items than the interactive features. Luckily the Iron Throne did not disappoint.

Had to ham it up!

Had to ham it up!

Wil did some business.

Wil did some business.

Rick did 80's sitcom smile.

Rick did 80’s sitcom smile.

At the end of the exhibit they had photographs of the jewelry and other small props (real items would have been better) and we did get a great limited edition T-shirt with art from Robert Ball.

I would only recommend this exhibit if you are a huge fan and want to give up the better part of the day. What I wanted most of all was to sit on the Iron Throne (got bruises from the sword hilts) and that was fun, but I wouldn’t do it again. The exhibit travels and I think they bring more items to the traveling venues, so that may be a better option.

Lions and Tigers and Zombies

Part of my personal theme for SDCC this year was to try new things. To that end we sighed up for The Walking Dead Escape. Petco Ballpark is transformed into a safe zone following the zombie apocalypse. It’s one part haunted house, one part obstacle course and one part crazy. Wil, Alex and I signed up as survivors and Rick opted to be a zombie. We chose to go in during the day light hours and I’m glad we did!

You are grouped in waves (the entire operation was extremely well run) and enter the safe zone. Army tents, netting and such are everywhere, giving the feel of an emergency. We started in, all agreeing to stick together, and three minutes in I hear screaming at the front of our group and now everyone is heading toward me. That’s when the running started. Running UP the ramps to the top of the ballpark. The ramps have blood, body bags and body parts littered about them. And walkers. Some lunge at you, some don’t. There are barricades and netting you must past by. You can’t see if anyone or anything is behind them. Plus you have to avoid tripping or being pushed by other frightened survivors.

It was scary as hell and fun, but running uphill like that nearly killed Wil and me. Alex took off at the first scream and we never caught up to him-lol.

See how sweaty we are?

See how sweaty we are?

Here’s small taste, I realized I couldn’t film and dodge the undead at the same time.

This was an offsite attraction we bought tickets for and really was a blast. I would recommend it (we did the VIP pass so we could have the proof of badassness via a T-shirt) but I won’t be doing it again, once was enough! I wonder how the visibility was at night inside the park, with all those body parts on the ground, you could easily trip.

All done- a good time was had by all.

All done- a good time was had by all.

Where do we go from here?

Like I said earlier, I went into this SDCC thinking it was my last. It turned out to be my best. Not only did I witness the biggest event (Star Wars) but I planned my time better and balanced new  activities ( GOT Experience/WD run) with the traditional, like walking the floor. I spent about 12-15 hours in lines, but each time I was with friends, friends I don’t see often, so I can’t call that a waste of time.

In the end, I will try to get passes for next year again. I’m not ready to give SDCC up. But if I don’t get them, I’ll be okay. There are so many great regional cons out there (my own Phoenix Comic-Con included) that I’ll have plenty of opportunities for geekery.

As long as I have good company, I’ll be fine.

At the Blind Burro.

At the Blind Burro.

Couldn't stay away from the Blind Burro's SDCC-themed cocktails!

Couldn’t stay away from the Blind Burro’s SDCC-themed cocktails!

Best advice if you want to attempt going to SDCC for the first time?

Never give up, never surrender!

 

Aging In Fiction

Written By: Dawn - Jun• 24•15

Mockingbird_3245152b

 

 

While the world awaits the July 14 release of Harper Lee’s follow-up novel to her masterpiece To Kill A Mockingbird, I find myself not wondering if her writing is as good as ever (I have no doubt that it is), but whether or not the world is ready to hear Scout’s grownup voice.

Aging in fiction is a tricky thing. While some characters and stories follow a linear  narrative that allows the reader time to adjust and delight in the passing of the years, others freeze the moments of the story in an iconic timeline that remains satisfying for decades or, in some cases, centuries.

Many of us delighted in following the life journeys of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Harry Potter and had no trouble watching those characters grow throughout several books. (I’m always pleased that while they grow older, Fred and George Weasley never really grow up mentally.)

On the other hand, some child or teen narrators told only one story; one with the scope and depth to be enough over time. Think David Copperfield, Holden Caulfield, Ponyboy Curtis and of course, Scout Finch. (So we thought!)

As an avid reader, I have followed many characters through the years in series, retellings or continuations by other authors. The results are mixed. In the case of two historical series I enjoy, the delightful Amelia Peabody series by the late Elizabeth Peters and the humorous Roman sleuth Marcus Didius Falco by Lindsey Davis, the authors follow real time and allow for the limitations of aging to have their effect, but not in a way that is depressing or  compromises the integrity of series. They work with it, not against it.

In the case of my favorite Jane Austen tale, Pride and Prejudice, I find that I love modern retellings (Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding being a favorite) and detest continuations in all their forms- Death Comes to Pemberly, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and the like. The reason? I want the happiness of Lizzie and Darcy set in stone. It is so satisfying I don’t need to know if they have children or the best grand parties or even if they finally came to their senses and ban Caroline Bingley from the house forever.

When I still worked in the high school library, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders never stayed on the shelves for long. Think about that. Here’s a tale from the sixties, with no smart phones, no social media and clothing descriptions- madras for goodness’ sake- millennials have no context for, that still draws teen readers in.

I’ve read the book at least four or  five times, I own it, I love the movie. What I don’t think I’d love? Seeing Ponyboy with a beer belly washing his minivan in a driveway. No thank you!

I had the same trouble revisiting Bridget Jones in her last incarnation, 2013’s Mad About the Boy. The 52-year-old (52!) married, widowed and now a mum Bridget sounded a bit too much like the Singleton Bridget and I couldn’t relate at all. I stopped reading at chapter three.

Like many of you, I’ll rush to buy Go Set A Watchman because more than anything, its publication is a major literary event. Who would have guessed that Lee’s second book would come out when our nation is facing serious racial tensions that are only escalating.

Scout’s voice rang true before, I cannot help but hope it does again.

Stay gold Scout.

What About Me?

Written By: Dawn - Feb• 09•15

Last year my church started a group for moms with teenagers. This is something I’d been lobbying for but sadly, like the preschoolers group and the school-age moms groups before it, it came on the sunset of my days in that phase of life.

This has been a pattern over the last twenty-five years- me missing inclusion in an iconic state of being.

It all began here-

Aired fro 1987-1991

Aired from 1987-1991

Since I was in my late teens and early twenties during thirtysomething’s rein I couldn’t have cared less about the show. Those people were old! Who cares? Babies? Career drama? Adult life? All these seemed far off in my future.

Then Big Boy was born in 1993 and The Better Half and I discovered thirtysomething reruns on Lifetime at 2 a.m. and suddenly all those privileged yuppie whiners became endearing. And relatable. In the most frightening ways.

One of my favorite episodes had Hope and Ellen hiding under the dining room table with the baby while some hot guy did work inside Hope’s house. She felt all frumpy and struggled with the new image of herself as a mom instead of a sexy woman. I understood that. The guy who came to clean baby vomit and cat pee off the couch (always purchase the extra upholstery cleaning plan) was kinda cute. I think. Since I was up three times a night nursing a baby, I don’t have 100% recall but anyone who cleans cat pee for you is a god.

In the end thritysomething did speak to me, but after the fact.

Next came-

Aired 1998-2004

Sex and the City- Aired 1998-2004

I like to call this my Late Bloomer period. We didn’t have HBO back then because Barney Videos and all the Star Wars movies (not the prequels thank goodness) played in a constant loop. (True story- Little Bug was humming the Star Wars theme at 18 months.)

I wasn’t so deep in Suburban Siberia that I hadn’t heard of SATC, but I’d never watched an episode. Hence, I didn’t have a grasp of what the buzz really meant. In July 2000 I found myself alone in a hotel room in Seattle with the TV remote in my hand.

I remember that first episode fondly- Miranda discovered what it really meant to wash Steve’s underwear. Enough said right?

By the time the second half of the last season aired in 2004, we had HBO, but boy I’d missed so much! It was years before I could pronounce Manolo Blahnik with confidence.

And I still don’t own a Fendi bag.

Smoke and Mirrors arrives!

Aired 2004-2012

Aired 2004-2012

 

By title alone, this show looked promising, like it had a message for stay-at-home moms like I was during its first few seasons. It did. The message was loud and clear-

If you’re over thirty-five- DON’T LET IT SHOW!

While I support Hollywood employing “older” actresses, these women were so beautiful, so thin and so visually perfect that a new exception for middle age beauty formed. So did the word Cougar.

I began to notice new trends with the younger moms. Rather than sporting kid or park friendly ensembles like I had at that stage, they looked more spa day ready than Mommy and Me. Some of them pushed strollers in heels. Rather than munching on goldfish crackers at the park, they went to lunch at real restaurants and sipped cocktails (okay, I admit that part is genius) and acted more like adult women than mothers (to my eyes at least).

The current label for these gals is Helicopter Parent.

Don’t ever piss one off.

The new era-

Airing 2012-present

Airing 2012-present

I followed the buzz surrounding the premiere of Girls with great anticipation. Billed as a SATC for a new generation, I felt ready for a women-focused show to speak to me. Boy did it, just not in the way I expected.

The series opens with Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her parents out to dinner. Mom and Dad are giving college-graduated and non-selfsuficient Hannah the dire news that they are cutting her off financially.

Immediately I bonded with Mom and Dad, so I turned off the TV. I’ve never taken a second look because Girls isn’t for me. I hope the girls who watch it feel like I do when I watch reruns of SATC (boy does it hold up well for me) because we all want something on TV we can relate to.

Which brings me to today.

I’m ready for MY stage of life to be all the buzz. I’ve even got a title for my new show.

fortyandoversomething Women (former Housewives) Who Kick Ass In the City and Everywhere Else.

I even have a great idea for the pilot episode- it could an entire episode dedicated to the mid-life quest for the Holy Grail- elastic waist pants that are on trend. (Though Not-Your-Daughter’s Jeans is making great progress in this area.)

I know this seems like a lot to ask, but I’d love someone to address pet hair on TV. Let’s face it, feeling sexy in a LBD is challenging if you have a dog, a cat or, if you’re a glutton for punishment, both. And while we’re on the subject of pets, they can throw in a cute guy to clean up cat pee or pick up dog poop. It really doesn’t matter what he’s doing so much…

What I’m saying is that if TV is getting better at showing real life, including its gritty side, then why not show more women as they reinvent themselves, as they shift away from daily child-rearing and begin their next chapter? I look at around at my girlfriends and we’re all doing amazing things- new jobs, running races, going back to school, being on charity boards and not giving up on anything. Case in point- I will find a soft chew toy Lily can’t destuff in less than five minutes.

So until the networks clue in on the awesomeness that is middle-aged moms, you’ll all just have to listen to me roar here.

My Year In Books- 2014

Written By: Dawn - Dec• 24•14

For me 2014 was the year of the book. I read 30 titles this year in part because so many of my favorite authors published new books and also because I opened myself up to discovery in a way I don’t normally do. As someone who works in a library, my greatest joy is placing a book in the hand of a reader. Here’s my unconventional review of books from my year.

Best Discovery Author/Series- Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden 

Dresden_Files

 

Friends have been telling me about Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series for years but until now, I never took a look. Butcher’s newest book released in early summer and he was all anyone could talk about at both Phoenix Comic-Con and San Diego Comic-Con.

Harry is a PI and a wizard in modern Chicago. The series is a mashup of the true detective genre with a dash of Harry Potter thrown in. But Chicago isn’t tame Hogwarts, it’s an adult city with adult-level supernatural problems.

Harry’s voice draws you in immediately but it’s Butcher’s world building that keeps me coming back. It’s nearly impossible to do something with vampires that hasn’t been done before, yet he does. This is a series that is deep, often dark and always surprising. Butcher even blends magic and faith in a way that gives both the reverence and respect they deserve.

Author Everyone Should Read Even If You Don’t Think You Like Science Fiction- John Scalzi

brazos_-_lock_in_category

Believe it or not, I don’t read a lot of SciFi, as TV is my preferred consumption method for the genre. I’d heard about Scalzi from my geek friends, but until I saw him in person at Phoenix Comic-Con two years ago, I wasn’t interested in his work. He impressed me so much at his author panel (hard to get the most out of those when you haven’t read anything by the author) I immediately bought his most famous work, Old Man’s War, which I devoured in two days.

His latest, Lock In, is set in the near future around a government sponsored industry for one population- those affected with the disorder Haden’s syndrome. As our own health care system is changing rapidly, Lock In is timely, tense and terrifying.

I also have to shout out to Old Man’s War, which I reread this year (and got my father-in-law to read). I think it may be one of the best books I’ve ever read as well as a standard classic in the genre.

Scalzi draws you in with character voice, and you’ll follow his characters across galaxies. Trust me.

10316763

 

 

Books I Never Planned On Reading But Ended Up Loving- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Me Before You1

 

You know the books I’m talking about because you see them everywhere- Target, Costco, perhaps even the grocery store. There’s buzz in magazines and even among your friends. Everyone, it seems, is talking about these books and you can’t figure out why because they sound boring, or depressing or uninteresting to you.

I’m here to say that sometimes best sellers are best sellers because they really are that good.

Me Before You is story of a quadriplegic and his female care giver. I doubt I could come up with a worse situation for a novel. But I reached a  point in early summer when the paperback’s dominance on shelf space was so impressive, even I could no longer ignore the book. So I read it.

And loved it.

I loved it so much, I went to the author’s book signing for her new book (which I also enjoyed).

IMG_2941

They’re making a movie for Me Before You and I look forward to seeing it. The book is not a feel-good in the traditional sense, can’t lie, but you will care about the characters and be glad you’re there.

Gone Girl is so huge right now I’m not even going to show a picture of it. If you haven’t noticed the book or the movie, you’ve been living in a cave.

Naturally I knew about the book when it came out. I wrote it off as a true crime tale and I never read those. I can’t even stand to watch Nancy Grace on TV. I had no intention of reading the book thank-you-very-much.

Last month The Better Half and I saw the movie because I couldn’t quite ignore all the attention it generated. Ten minutes into the film all I could think about was how fucked up all these people were and that I was dying to read the book so I could spend more time with them.

I’m kicking myself now for not taking the book seriously two years ago, but the movie to book experience hasn’t disappointed me at all. It’s well worth your time, even if you know the ending from the movie.

 

Thank You To My Favorite Authors For Great Books In 2014-

Since I write Women’s Fiction, it is my favorite genre. Some people still call it Chick Lit and in all honesty, that’s not a moniker I find offensive. The lone exception to the following list is Philippa Gregory, who writes amazing historical fiction. Please follow the links I’ve provide if you’re looking for a good read with relatable characters in all kinds of life situations.

Mary Kay Andrews (Southern and sassy, need I say more?)

Stacey Ballis (Foodie fiction with a lot of humor and recipes!)

Claire Cook (Both fiction and nonfiction this year!)

Jane Green (OMG- two books a year now! Next one drops on Dec. 30)

Philippa Gregory (Of The Other Boleyn Girl fame. Tudors! Drama!)

Beth Kendrick (Rom-Com at its best a la Lifetime TV movie.)

Jennifer Wiener (Always good and she champions women writers.)

 

Best Book of 2014 For Me- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy-Rich-Asians

 

Somehow I missed the buzz on this book when it released in 2013, but the paperback (shown above) kept catching my eye. The real hook- a reviewer  compared it to a Jane Austen novel. I am a sucker for anything that plays homage to my favorite author!

Crazy Rich Asians delivers exactly what is says- a sharp study into the super wealthy lifestyle of both old and new monied Asians from Singapore. Part Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, part Austen in its deep look into the social paradigms within the upper and “lesser” classes when they are thrown together in one ballroom, and part love story. It delighted me from start to finish.

E-book readers beware- the family trees are quite detailed here and as when I read Tolkien or Game of Thrones, I constantly referred to the genealogy maps to help track the who’s who. I’m not sure how those translate in e-formats.

Kwan has a sequel planned for June 2015 and I am counting the days!

 

Happy Reading for 2015 Friends!