Author: Roberta (page 2 of 32)

#BookBeginnings The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Today I’m reading the next book in The Bestseller Code Challenge, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

 

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

 


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Westish College baseball star Henry Skrimshander is destined for the big leagues. That is, until he messes up an easy throw which leads to disaster. With his future in jeopardy, can Henry overcome his crippling self doubt?

The Art of Fielding is a work of literary fiction.

First Sentence:

Schwartz didn’t notice the kid during the game. Or rather, he noticed only what everyone else did — that he was the smallest player on the field, a scrawny novelty of a shortstop, quick of foot but weak with the bat. Only after the game ended, when the kid returned to the sun-scorched diamond to take extra grounders, did Schwartz see the grace that shaped Henry’s every move.

Discussion:

Baseball and literary fiction seem like an odd combination, but I like what I’ve read so far.

What do you think? Would you read The Art of Fielding?

 

#BestsellerCode100: Number 51. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

This post does not contain spoilers.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

 


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Westish College baseball star Henry Skrimshander is destined for the big leagues. That is, until he messes up an easy throw which leads to disaster, and the lives of those around him are changed. With his future in jeopardy, can Henry overcome his crippling self doubt?

Have you read The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 50. The Martian by Andy Weir (2011) – Discussion begins January 14, 2019
Science Fiction

#BestsellerCode100: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Writer’s Review

Let’s take a look at Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer from a writer’s perspective.

This post contains spoilers.

 

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Nine-year-old Oskar Schell’s father died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. When he finds a key hidden in his father’s closet, he thinks it is part of a scavenger hunt game he and his dad played. This impels Oskar to go on a quest to find the lock that the key fits.

Genre

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a work of literary fiction.

Discussion

Normally I would go into the characters and setting of the book, but for this novel I’m going to take a different tack and jump right into discussion.

In the end of the book Oskar discovers the reason that his mother has allowed him to wander around the city without asking where he was going or even seeming to care about what he was doing was because she knew exactly what he was up to all along. She had talked to everyone he went to visit before Oskar arrived. She made sure he was safe by acting behind the scenes. His journey was an illusion orchestrated by his mom who assumed the role of protector and also puppet master.

Oh, the irony. As a reader, I felt every bit as manipulated by the author as Oskar was by his mother. I was supposed to admire the clever way Foer played with the text and design. My, pages 121-123 are blank. Isn’t that such a statement? So bold.

Pages 208- 216 are covered with red editor’s marks. (Well, sort of. They aren’t the marks a copy editor would use.) “How ingenious,” the reader is supposed to say. How innovative.

 

Extremely Loud

Why do I feel manipulated?

As a writer, the question becomes why does this work of fiction leave me annoyed whereas another novel, equally a work of complete fiction, can draw me in and make me completely forget the world I’m in for hours?

I’m not saying I have this all figured out by any means, but at least part of it is ego. In this novel Jonathan Safran Foer’s ego is everywhere. He wants you to admire his brilliant writing, not enjoy it. The author uses his gifts — and he is very talented — to show off, whereas another equally talented writer would step back and let the characters tell the story. You’ve probably noticed this with actors, too. Some charismatic actors always steal the show by being themselves regardless of the role. Do you ever forget that it’s Bruce Willis or Will Smith on the screen? Other sublimely gifted actors inhabit their characters so fully that the members of the audience suspend disbelief. They believe they are watching real people for the time the characters are on the screen.

The way Foer defies writing convention so blatantly is also part of it. My life is busy and I have limited time to read. As a reader, I don’t want to spend my precious hours trying to figure out the odd grammar and syntax. Instead, I want to read. I want the words to disappear and the images to roll through my head like a movie.

Every novel we’ve read for this challenge has taught me something that I hope will make me a better writer. The message I learned from this one is to be kind to your reader. Leave your ego at the door.

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 51. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (2011) – Discussion begins December 31, 2018
Literary Fiction

#BookBeginnings The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Let’s take a look at the young adult novel The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  A student at Arkwell Academy for magic, sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses at night. She doesn’t, however, break in to steal possessions. Instead she enters the dreams of sleeping people, feeding off their energy. When she sees the murder of a fellow student in a boy named Eli’s dream, Dusty teams up with Eli to try to figure out who killed the girl and why.

First Sentence:

Breaking and entering wasn’t as easy as it looked in the movies. Especially not from the second story of a house in the suburbs, Yet there I was, perched on the ledge by my tippy toes and tugging on the stupid window that refused to budge even though I could see it wasn’t locked. My feet were starting to cramp.

Discussion of The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Some other regulars at Book Beginnings have featured books by Mindee Arnett, so I was eager to read the first in her Arkwell Academy trilogy.

So far I really like the first person voice of the protagonist. She sounds like a teenager, which is appropriately young adult. I also like that it seems to meld fantasy with a bit of romance and a good mystery.

What do you think? Have you read any of Mindee Arnett’s books? Do you think you’d like to read this one?

Writing Opportunity: @WriteOnCon and Critique with @MindeeArnett

Have you heard of WriteOnCon? It is a conference for #kidlit writers that anyone can attend because it is both online and so reasonably priced. What an opportunity for those of us with crazy lives and no money.

The next WriteOnCon will be will be February 8-10, 2019. Sign up today!

To add to the excitement, this week I found out I won a query letter + 25 page critique from YA author Mindee Arnett in the December Raffle. What an amazing opportunity.

Mindee Arnett’s newest is Onyx & Ivory, which has gotten some buzz in a number of the reader blogs I follow through BookBeginnings.


Now I have to quit blogging about it and go polish those 25 pages!

#BestsellerCode100: Number 52. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Nine-year-old Oskar Schell’s father died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. When he finds a key, he thinks it is part of a scavenger hunt game he and his dad played, so Oskar goes on a quest to find out what it fits.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a work of literary fiction.

 

Have you read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 51. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (2011) – Discussion begins December 31, 2018
Literary Fiction

#BookBeginnings Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Time to start the next book on The Bestseller Code challenge list, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Nine-year-old Oskar Schell’s father died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. When he finds a key, he thinks it is part of a scavenger hunt game he and his dad played, so Oskar goes on a quest to find out what it fits.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a work of literary fiction.

First Sentence or Two:

What about a teakettle? What if the spout opened and closed when the steam came out, so it would become a mouth, and it could whistle pretty melodies, or do Shakespeare, or just crack up with me? I could invent a teakettle that reads in Dad’s voice, so I could fall asleep…

Discussion:

Oskar Schell obviously isn’t a regular nine-year-old boy. He has a big imagination.

Below is the trailer of the movie based on the book. For some novels I don’t want to see any part of the movie before I’ve read the book because I want to envision my own characters in the role. (I have to admit Daniel Radcliffe has taken over for whomever I had envisioned as Harry Potter, but Tom Cruise will never be Jack Reacher ). In this case however, I wanted to have some idea what was going on, so I did watch the trailer.


What do you think? Have you read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close? Have you seen the movie? Did you like them? Do you have any opinion which should come first?

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Time to review Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire from a writer’s perspective

This post might contain spoilers.

Beautiful Disaster* by Jamie McGuire


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Travis Maddox has the reputation for fighting and one night stands. When he meets good girl Abby Abernathy she keeps him at arm’s length, which makes Travis want her even more. To get closer to her, he proposes a bet. If she wins he must refrain from having sex for a month or if she loses, Abby must move in with Travis for a month. What possibly could go wrong?

Genre

Beautiful Disaster is the relatively recent genre called New Adult (NA) fiction. According to GoodReads, St. Martin’s Press came up with the idea in 2009. NA books feature  protagonists who are 18–25 years old, and concerned with going to college or figuring out career choices as well as navigating adult sexual experiences. As with many New Adult novels, this one is also a romance.

Characters

The protagonist of the book is 18-year-old college student Abby Abernathy. Abby is a virgin who has come to college far from home to escape her father and his reputation. When she meets Travis Maddox with his rippling muscles and tattoos, she must resist his attention to avoid ending up in a similar situation as the one she left . Travis has both anger management issues and commitment issues. Passive/aggressive Abby insists they have a platonic relationship, setting up the “will they or won’t they” trope (see romance tropes).

 

Travis Maddox is the classic anti-hero bad boy, but also has a charming and vulnerable side. Looking through other reviews, readers either love Travis Maddox or they disapprove of his over-the-top, abusive behavior. It is to Jamie McGuire’s credit that many of the most passionate reviews attack Travis. They have suspended their disbelief about a made-up guy — one who was created to develop tension in the plot– to the point they talk about him as if he were a real person. That shows McGuire’s ability to writing complex, authentic characters.

I, on the other hand, could not suspend my disbelief entirely. These days if Travis had actually attacked multiple people with his fists as he does in the book, he would be in jail for assault. It also wasn’t entirely believable that Abby and Travis would sleep together night after night and still be “just friends.” Obviously, this novel is fiction.

Discussion

On the plus side, the book is a quick, easy read. I finished it in one sitting. It was pleasant if you were looking for escapism.

On the negative side, there were a few flaws. As I mentioned in the Book Beginnings post, McGuire uses many exclamation points in the first few pages to emphasize that things are loud! Very loud! She uses exclamation points more often than is recommended and could easily have been omitted with a few well-chosen descriptions. However, the good news is that as I became immersed in the reading the exclamation points faded into the background and were easy to ignore.

As a quick note, Karen and I immediately thought of one of the previous books in the challenge, Fifty Shades of Grey. Both novels are flights of fantasy with bad boys driving them, but the characters in Beautiful  Disaster are regular people, not kinky billionaires. Somehow the fact that Beautiful Disaster was more grounded in the real world made it easier to accept the romantic fantasy aspects for me.

Overall, I would say that Beautiful Disaster is neither beautiful or a disaster. It is simply entertainment to be enjoyed in the moment.

Join us on social media:

Have you written about Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 52. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005) – Discussion begins December 17, 2018
Literary Fiction

#BookBeginnings The Girl Who Drew Butterflies

For something different, I’m reading a middle grade/young adult nonfiction title The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-butterflies

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  A biography of seventeenth century artist, adventurer, and scientist Maria Merian.

In another life, I review children’s books at Wrapped in Foil blog. The last month or so I’ve been a round one judge for a children’s book contest, Cybils and along with a number of other judge’s I’ve read 130+ children’s books (this is one of them.) It has been a challenge, but a fun and educational one.  By the way, if you  are looking for gift ideas for kids, the Cybils nomination lists are a great way to find new books (published in the last year) already sorted by age and genre.

First Sentence:

A girl kneels in her garden. It is 1660, and she has just turned thirteen:  too old for a proper German girl to be crouching in the dirt, according to her mother.

Discussion:

This is a beautiful book. Between Maria Merian’s gorgeous paintings of flowers and insects, and Joyce Sidman’s lovely photographs, it is hard to tear your eyes away to read the text. But Maria’s story is pretty fascinating, too.

I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I really like biographies written for children, particularly picture book biographies. Author’s of picture books have distilled an entire life to fit into 32 pages. That is amazing to me.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies is technically a middle grade level book, but I think it could easily work for older kids, too.

What do you think?  Is it something you might be interested in reading?

#amwriting Finding the Path

A few days ago I walked across a grassy patch near my house. A silvery dew covered the area and I could see footprints.

When I turned back, I noticed something that startled me.

I thought I had been walking in a straight line, but instead I had wandered back and forth.

It is natural. People who get lost in the woods or in the desert — where there are few landmarks — begin to loop around and walk back to where they started (LiveScience discusses our tendency to circle).

The way to correct the wavering is to focus on an object in the distance, such as a tree, and head for it. I tried it. When I checked my path, it had worked.

As I thought about it more, I realized it was a good metaphor for my life right now. I feel like I’m wandering lost, rather than pushing toward a writing goal.

The problem is I have many, many projects and so my goals are a forest rather than a tree. No wonder I’m getting nowhere.

It’s time to thin the forest. It’s time to focus.

Too bad it is so hard to figure out which ones have the most value or even will bear fruit.

How do you decide which projects are worthwhile? 

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