Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Is anyone out there doing NaNo?


I can’t turn down a challenge, it seems, so I’m doing it again this year.  This is year five for me.  Maybe this will get me back into the habit and I’ll get back to book one in my mystery series that I still need to rewrite.  I’ve been a naughty girl on that.  I can’t seem to keep my seat in this chair for long lately.

I still figure I must be half nuts to take this on with the holiday season upon us.  I also work now so don’t have a lot of free time.  If I can make it through this month, I’m hoping I’ll be back in the writing daily habit and can finish book one as mentioned above.  I hate to say I started this task at least two years ago, possibly longer.  That’s terrible, isn’t it?

Anyway, I know my posting has been lax here lately.  I haven’t had anything to write about writing that may be useful to any of you.  If anyone is doing NaNo this month, feel free to use this blog as a forum for NaNo, if you wish.

You can list word counts, ask questions and give advice.  I hope there are still enough people following this blog that you can get your answers or encouragement from fellow writers.  I welcome all thoughts, advice and support from any of you who want to take time to give it.

Thank you and good luck to all.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review for The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


A sad tale with a bit of redemption in the end
3 stars




I read this book because it was a novel written in first person.  The story is narrated by three women, each with a past and something to hide.  The main narrator is Rachel, an alcoholic who is barren, fat, and feels very insecure and worthless.  Her husband divorces her and she loses her job, but keeps this job loss a secret for half of the novel. She’s too ashamed to admit that she was fired for consistently being drunk on the job, so she takes the train to work everyday as she lives in her dreamworld.

A lot of “in your head” talking goes on in this story and especially on the train.  Rachel can view her old house and neighborhood from the window and watch her husband and his new wife and child on the balcony.  She’s upset that they live in her house and have the family she always wanted.  She also watches another house a few doors away and imagines the happy life that couple have.

Rachel becomes obsessed with a pile of discarded clothes next to the railroad tracks and then reads in the paper about a girl who goes missing off the street of her old neighborhood.  She's lonely and has no life of her own. She drowns all her pain through various alcoholic beverages daily.  But Rachel's interest is perked when she reads about the disappearance.  She emerges herself in this unfolding story as the police investigate the vanishing of the girl from the happy couple who live a few doors down from her old house.  

Rachel so desperately wants to fit in and feel needed that she lies to get close to the husband of the missing girl.  As we all know lies eventually catch up with us.  But Rachel isn’t the only one lying throughout this book.

There are lots of underlying factors in this story of love, lies, divorce, jealousy, lust, betrayal and fear.  At first I found it a bit hard to get into this book because of all the internal narration going on in the heads of Rachel, Anna and Megan.  There’s very little dialogue.

Rachel finds herself in many wrong places at the wrong time. The fact she doesn’t remember a lot of things because she was drunk eats away at her as she tries to figure out what really happened.

In the last seventy five pages, the story really starts coming together with a lot of the blanks filled in.  I enjoyed this part the best.  I know this book was made into a movie.  Perhaps the movie will be better than the book this time.  Usually books are always better, but I guess I got the message that Rachel was a lonely drunk trying to find a way to fit in and be happy early on in the story.  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Teaching myself as I go


Lately I’ve been reading a lot of first person novels.  I’m writing my mystery series in first person and think this exercise may be helpful.  Sometimes I second guess myself though and think I should change it all to third person, although I like getting into one person’s head and going with it.  I don’t know if this will be a smart move or not.

It seems every first person novel I read is entirely different from the last one.  I wonder if this is right or not.  I have come to the realization that having more then four-five viewpoints are too many for a first person story.  So now it’s back to the drawing board for those extra people’s roles in the story.  I need to work that in some other way, perhaps though dialogue with a more major character.




I’m a very long winded person, come story or real life, so this is very hard for me to do – cut things back to the bare minimum.  I’m working on it and sometimes this entails beating my head on the wall.  Eventually, I’ll come up with a story worth reading, I hope.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Here’s something different

Recently, I ran across some nice photo writing prompts, so I thought I’d share one of those today.  Yes, I know I should be working on my novel rewrite, but I’ve been working so many hours for a part-time job that’s its unbelievable.  I think things will be slowing down soon, for a while, and I’ll get back to it.  Meanwhile, if you’d like something fun to play with see the prompt below.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Readers Live Longer??

Photo by Bryan Thomas for the New York Times

This is a fascinating study about readers versus non-readers.  This appeared in the New York Times on August 3rd.  You can read their article by clicking here.

Over 3,650 people over age fifty participated in this study done by Yale University.  This group was split into three groups, those that didn’t read books at all, those who read three-and-a-half hours a week and those that read more than that.

The study was adjusted to include factors such as age, race, self-reported health, employment, marital status, etc.  Age for the three-and-a-half hour a week group increased lifespan by 17 percent while those that read more than that increased by 23 percent.  Book readers live an average of about two years longer than non-readers.


Reading through newspapers and magazines also saw some benefit, but not as much as book readers.  Maybe one uses more cognitive ability while reading books, which, of course, helps your brain stay younger longer.  This study was published in Social Science and Medicine.  If you’d like to read the article about the study, click the link above.

Now drag out those books and start reading.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Taking a short break


I’ll be having cataract surgery on both eyes and will be taking a break until the end of July.  Please bear with me.  I’ll try to get back to regular posting after that.


Thanks for reading.  I hope your summer is going great!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Happy July Fourth


I know I’ve been bad about posting here lately.  Hopefully, I can change all that soon.  The problem is many things, but mostly a lack of time to research and post anything worthwhile to read.

I wanted to wish all of you a Happy July Fourth.  It’s bittersweet here with that being the death dates of my father in 1980 and my husband’s father last year.  It’s way to hot to even enjoy a barbecue outside in the desert.  Because of that, we’ll be cooking indoors as usual.

Everyone be safe out there and have a happy day with family and friends.