Me · Obsessions · Reading

2015 review: My favorite books and music of the year (and BT Urruela!!!)

I thought about doing an introspective end-of-2015 post, but since I kind of laid my soul bare here, I’m going to skip the deep thoughts for my last post of the year. (Update on that, though: I start Judaism 101 classes on January 10th at a local synagogue. I’m excited! Went to my first Shabbat service last week and it was fascinating.)

Anyway, for my final post of the year, I’m going to talk about my favorite books and music of 2015. So, without further ado —

Continue reading “2015 review: My favorite books and music of the year (and BT Urruela!!!)”

Books · Reading

What I’m reading: Milk Cow Kitchen

I’m catching a flight to Seattle in less than 6 hours and I’m breaking one of my cardinal rules, which is to never, ever take a real book on a plane.  Real books are too heavy and clunky and they limit you to just one thing, whereas my Kindle offers a world of books in a teeny little device.  There’s only one thing that will make me break that tried-and-true rule and that’s a new book by MaryJane Butters.

If you aren’t familiar with MaryJane Butters and MaryJanesFarm, I have to ask you – what are you doing with your life?! Put down your iPhone, log off Facebook, and listen up.

Continue reading “What I’m reading: Milk Cow Kitchen”

Books · Reading · The novel · Writing

The problem with romantic fiction

Alright, so… romantic fiction?  Yay or nay?  As a reader, they’re my favorite kind of books to lose myself in and, as an aspiring writer, romance is, by far, my go-to topic.  Trying to find good romance novels to read… Well, that’s a challenge.  Why?  Because a big majority of romantic fiction out there just downright sucks.

Continue reading “The problem with romantic fiction”

Books · Me · Reading · The farmgirl life

What I’m reading…

I’m in love.

With a book.

I checked out Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for A Farm of One’s Own by Jenna Woginrich from the library, fully planning to leave it on my iPad until I got to the airport next Monday for my flight(s) to Seattle.  That plan lasted all of…oh… seven minutes.  Before long, I had my eyes glued to the screen and now I’m stealing a minute or two here and there in order to read some more.

As I said before, I’m in love.

BarnHeart

Jenna’s memoir about establishing her farm on rented property in Vermont while living paycheck to paycheck is endearing.  Her prose is entertaining and she has a way with words that sucks the reader in.  (I mean, she talks about the “sun getting tired.”  How cute is that???)  I loved reading about her determination to get a small flock of sheep, her driving need to get a border collie, and her adoption of Finn, the most adorable baby goat to ever appear in any book.

I haven’t finished it yet.  In fact, I have 33% to go.  I’m trying to take it slow, even though I’m a fast reader, and savor it like a piece of decadent fudge.  It’s too beautiful, too entertaining a story, and I want that life.  As I sit in my townhouse, which is tucked under some trees but still close enough to a busy city street that I never escape the sounds of traffic, I realize how much I want that life.  I feel the longing deep inside.  It burns as strong as heartburn, but Tums will do nothing to take it away.  I want my own flock of hens and four (yes, exactly four) goats, as well as two horses and a passel of misfit dogs.  I want dirt under my fingernails.  I want the kind of satisfying, exhausted sleep that only comes after a day of hard labor.  When will I get to pluck a green pepper straight from the vine?

Jenna, though, has advice to offer about this exact question.  In the introduction of the book, she says:

“When your mind wanders like this and your heart feels heavy, do not lose the faith, and do not fret about your current circumstances.  Everything changes.  If you need to stand in the slanting light of an old barn to lift your spirits, go for it.  Perhaps someday you’ll do this every day.  For some, this is surely the only cure.”

I have plans for my very own garden and livestock and even my own barn.  They’re on hold until a few years down the road, after certain stock options have matured and are cashed out.  But the important part is that they’re there.  And as Jenna so wisely says, everything changes.  Until then, I, too, have barnheart.

Books · Reading

Cookie-cutter fiction

So the thing about me is that when I find a new author I like, I read everything I can from that author.  This happened to me recently because I borrowed a book from the library (ebook version, of course) by Diana Palmer.  Because I have a thing for cowboys, I really enjoyed the book.  So then I borrowed about seven more from her.  By the time I was into the fifth one, I was pretty sure I’d read this book before.  That’s when I realized that all her books follow the same formula.  Young virginal woman + older man + tortured attraction + unrealistic characters who profess love in gorgeous prose = every Diana Palmer book. Ever.

The same can be said for Nicholas Sparks.  I know he’s wildly popular but his books wouldn’t be his books unless someone dies at the end, bringing everything full circle and leading to the main character(s) having profound realizations.

What is it with these authors?  Why do they publish the same book, over and over again?  Why does the reader never seem to mind and just keep buying them?  Is originality dead?  I mean, Colleen Hoover runs circles around Diana Palmer – yet Hoover had to self-publish at first!  As an aspiring author myself, I’m beginning to realize that there’s no rhyme or reason to getting published.  Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is proof of that.  That series should’ve ended about ten books ago, yet it just keeps going and going and going.  Stephanie’s car blows up + Grandma Mazur is funny + Lula makes fat jokes + Stephanie can’t decide between Joe or Ranger (the answer is ALWAYS Ranger, in case you were wondering) = every book in the stupid series.

The only thing I can surmise is that readers aren’t picky and that there’s no accounting for taste (or the lack thereof).  50 Shades of Grey is proof of this!

Books · Reading · The novel · Whining · Writing

The POV debate

As I have stated in a previous entry, I’ve had a long-time ban on books written in first person POV (known as FPPOV for the rest of this entry).  That ban ended, though, upon giving in and reading Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless, because then I read Slammed and Point of Retreat.  This past weekend, I read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which is another book written in FPPOV, and also another book that had a gutting, heart-wrenching effect on me.

So all this crying I’ve been doing over these books lately – all written in FPPOV, no less – have me thinking:  is FPPOV the new “thing” in popular fiction?  Because all of these books that have knocked me to my knees with emotion are best sellers, and they’re all written in first person.   Is that where it’s at now in the world of fiction?

I’m struggling to write my own book.  Each and every sentence feels like a monumental task because I’m still trying to find my characters’ voices.  The idea of just one voice, flowing so freely in “me” speak, is appealing.  But I’m a third person kind of girl.  I love third person.  I’ve embraced it my entire writing life.  Third person POV and the Oxford comma are my two favorite parts of the writing process.  Can I write my story, and tell it as authentically as I want to, if I’m only inside one character’s head and only sharing her voice?  One of the reasons I love writing romances is because I have two characters who are world apart at the beginning who have to find their way to a spot where their orbits intersect.  If I’m only sharing one voice and one character’s thoughts, I can’t do that.

So what’s the answer – is FPPOV the way to go now?  Do readers have a particular narrative that they prefer?  Am I using this debate as just an excuse to put off writing even more?  I need answers!

Books · Reading

Omigosh omigosh omigosh!!!!

One of my favorite authors of all time is LaVyrle Spencer.  Her novel Years is among my most-read books and it still makes me cry every time.  I just discovered that her novel Morning Glory was turned into a film in 1993 and it’s on Netflix!!!!  And it stars Christopher Reeve as Will Parker!!!  OMIGOSH OMIGOSH!!!!!!!!!