James Patterson’s Bookshots

I’ve been curious about James Patterson’s Bookshots for a while now and I finally picked up a few of them to play with. Honestly I think the idea of these books is awesome and so needed! If you’re anything like me, you used to read SO MUCH and then you popped out a kid and inherited two more and suddenly your body just doesn’t have the energy required to do your favourite thing as much as it used to and it’s kind of depressing. You know?

Bookshots are an awesome idea! They’re like little mini books created just for me because I can read them in one sitting and I don’t have to be feeling brainy  to do it (because, let’s face it, James and his co-writers are easy reads) and it means that I can read more often because I’m not looking at a 500 page novel and thinking by the time I get to the end I’ll have already forgotten the beginning.

So yeah. They don’t make me feel like a well-read braniac or anything, but they have their place and probably they’re the kind of book that I can realistically aspire to writing so I’m keen to get my hands on a few more. That’s what we writers do while we’re not writing, isn’t it? We read and hope that it will one day lead to writing…

Review: The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

The Library of Unrequited LoveThe Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This little book is a sweet soliloquy by a librarian woman as she converses with a man who accidentally spent the night in the library. If nothing else, the idea of the book intrigues me and I have to admit that I currently feel inspired to attempt something similar. I love the style of it. It’s so different. I made a couple of notes for how I would do mine and I do love my idea already. Let’s see if I actually complete it!

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A Long Night at Abu Simbel by Penelope Lively

A Long Night at Abu SimbelA Long Night at Abu Simbel by Penelope Lively
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Long Night at Abu Simbel is a sweetish collection of some stories that involve cats. Which I suppose is why there is a cat on the cover? This book is tiny which is kind of what drew me to it I will admit. Like “look how cute and tiny the book I’m reading is”. I might be a silly human. But I do love short stories. And this book had three of them in it so that was lovely.

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Is it ok to cheat on your own goal a little?

I set myself a goal of reading a hundred books this year and so far it isn’t going that great. Granted it is actually going better than I expected (I don’t expect to meet the goal to be honest) and it is most definitely already going better than it did last year. Because yeah: I kind of set this goal for myself every year.

Anyway, I’m seven books behind if I want to meet my goal. I’ve only read five so far. But, I’m going away for a LONG weekend this weekend. It’s my momma’s 60th birthday and we’re leaving town to celebrate.

So I have devised a cunning plan! I’ve gone through my library of over a thousand books (nine hundred-ish of which I haven’t read yet – don’t judge) and I’ve pulled out all the skinniest reads I could find. Those are all coming with me this weekend. One day when I’m big I’ll read a hundred books of three hundred plus pages in a year.

For now while life is a silly kind of hectic…is it ok that I manipulate the odds?

Bookswap Heaven

I don’t do the bookswap thing. You know when you pop into a secondhand place and then they tell you “oh you can bring them back and swap for something else” — no. I don’t do this, ever. Instead I have a carefully and lovingly curated library that consists of a large number of books, all packed away in their various spaces waiting to be lovingly read. I don’t get to reading as much as I would like, but I find comfort in knowing they’re there. All that potential. All those beautiful spines.

The other day a friend of mine, Yolandi, was looking for folks to swap books with. And immediately I sort of thought oh no I don’t swap books but then I remembered a rather silly habit that I have: I buy books that I already have. Sometimes it is by accident, but most times it is because the book is super cheap and I think I might give it to someone else, or it has a better/different cover to the one I already have.

So I decided to give her one of my own books as well as swapping out a couple that I had doubles of in exchange for whatever it was that she had on offer. While I do already have quite a diverse array of books I must admit it’s quite exciting to consider diversifying my library even further with books loved by others instead of only books picked by me. I’m looking forward to digging in to her offerings, and am already starting to collect up my other duplicates with the idea of swapping out some more.

So if you’re looking to do some swapping, let me know.

Happy reading, folks!

Review: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

The Girl in the Flammable SkirtThe Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have I mentioned that I love Aimee Bender yet? I wonder: If I start experimenting with drugs would I be able to come up with this sort of writing? That would be great. Pity I can’t afford drugs. Silly drugs, I mean, of course. Like mushrooms or whatever it is that makes things look a little brighter and sparklier. I’m giving this book a 5 because I think that being the type of person who writes these sort of weird and confusing-for-most-people stories is kind of important. Year ago when I read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake I did not love it as I expected to because I hadn’t been expecting magical realism (I knew little of the genre back then) and I was almost frightened by the darkness of it. I have kind of evolved since then, and am honestly kind of writing in that direction myself now. I have become more open to obscure voices sharing beautiful content. I am so grateful to be meeting these voices. They are growing me. Even when I don’t like them, they are growing me. I have learned to set aside expectations and receive what I am given instead of bemoaning what I have not. I cannot help now but envy Ms. Bender. How free she is in spirit. How unconventionally wise. How odd. How exquisite. How real. I should read Lemon Cake with my fresher eyes now. Soon.

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Willfull Creatures by Aimee Bender

Willful CreaturesWillful Creatures by Aimee Bender
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second time I’ve read this book and I think maybe this time I enjoyed it even more. I know when you have a library of 700+ unread books it’s silly to go back to something you’ve already experienced but The Colour Master kind of got me writing again and so it seemed only natural to turn  back and  revisit the other quirks of Aimee Bender. The richness of the bizarre in these books just soothes my soul. I feel massively influenced by Aimee’s writing, which I suppose is weird. If you read my stuff it’s probably nothing like her writing except for the occasional elements of magical realism. But she is divine. Otherwordly even. And she has certainly done an incredible job of sparking off my creativity for the year.

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Why I Chose to Read a Christian Book

I made an unorthodox choice last week: I accepted a Christian book to review from a friend of mine – JustEllaBella – who gets a lot of review books from Christian Art Media. She had some extra copies of some books that she got from them and was looking to bookclub-style share them with some friends. Normally I would have said no. I’m not much of a consumer of Christian media in general. I do like some Christian music, though, I suppose. But books? Yikes… Those seem quite a bit more serious, don’t they?

The thing is though: the description said something about the woman asking God to break both of her legs, and immediately I was like yeah chick I feel you. Weirdly, for someone who is feeling a little wobbly on the whole God thing these days, I kind of felt a little drawn to it (read into that what you will). And so I thought: let’s try. Because even if I’m not-so-much with the Jesus talk, I very much understand the mom-going-through-a-midlife-crisis talk. If you’ve been reading my personal blog at all you know that I am a bit of a disaster at the moment. Anyway, I am huge believer in the fact that we can all learn something from each other, even if our religious affiliations don’t necessarily match up.

And who knows? Maybe this lady (Chrystal Evans Hurst) will re-spark something in me. So far it’s working out. It’s one of those books that you can use in the morning to meditate a little. It asks questions that are probably good to answer and it feels like a sweet kind of self-care move.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Review: The Color Master by Aimee Bender

The Color MasterThe Color Master by Aimee Bender
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can I mark a book five stars purely because my own ideas have been going haywire since I started reading it? That seems fair, doesn’t it? I have such a love for Aimee Bender despite the fact that I’m not nearly quirky enough to understand half of what she is saying. She gives me pause, though. The kind of pause that is hopeful with regards to my own self and my own abilities. I have lead a life of such rules. Always. This is what you have to do to be an acceptable girl. An acceptable scholar. An acceptable human. All the wrong things I have blamed on myself: my unacceptableness, my inability to grasp the rules. The rules of how you should be in order to be acceptable. But all of Aimee is just bonkers a bit. And if Aimee can go around being bonkers and making up her own rules and just writing whatever the hell story she feels like writing even though sometimes they don’t make sense even when they do make sense. Well then maybe I can give up this list of rules and just do what I want to do too, right? I love you, Aimee. Thank you.

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The Indescribable Delight of Aimee Bender

When I grow up I want to be Aimee Bender. What’s that you say? You’re already grown up? Don’t be a cow. I’m still little. Little little. Little little little little.

Aw damn…

My first Aimee Bender book was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake which I only chose to read because of its title. I do that, you see. Choose books because they have either lovely covers or lovely titles. It was a weird book that I didn’t particularly enjoy reading. She did everything wrong. She didn’t use quotation marks, for instance. It annoyed me that for some reason she didn’t need to. I knew which parts were dialogue without them. No man… you can’t do that. What about the rules?! And then? The protagonist had the most insane affliction. That poor girl…

Yet it started opening up a niggle in me…

She wasn’t doing the things right but I understood. And other people even said the book was beautiful which was REALLY weird because this isn’t a normal book people shouldn’t like it because those are the rules.

And yet…

And yet she could say crazy things and not use punctuation like you’re supposed to and the story was sticky like it stuck and the lemon cake tasted like deceit and I understood even though everything was wrong. The story was sticky.

It was so sticky.

And then I bought some of her short stories because why not and those stories were even stickier all sticking in my head like they were super important but they weren’t important they were just true even though they were about mad things like boys who shrink into amoebas and wow… I’m re-reading them all now so I’m feeling happier than usual. Isn’t that nice? For an author to make you feel happy?

So when I grow up I kind of want to be Aimee Bender but the Nadine Rose Larter version (which will probably be sad) because Aimee is so true and real and she just writes whatever crazy thing she wants and even though maybe they’re not important they still really feel like they are.

Because they’re so real and they don’t make sense but that’s kind of really delicious…

Review: Emotionally Weird ~ Kate Atkinson

Emotionally WeirdEmotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hmmm…. I will admit (as I already have on numerous occasions during the consumption of this book) that I may be a little lacking in the amount of intelligence required to “get” it. I imagine others got it from the beginning but it took me a really long time! That said: I think I finally did “get” it and so by the time I got to the end I was very glad to have persevered even though I considered giving up quite a few times.

Basically Nora and Effie are telling each other stories about their lives. Effie’s story takes up most of the book (and if it feels like nothing happens the entire time) with Nora adding her little bits here and there. All if it a long pre-amble to the point which nicely ties up at the end.

I think, in part, that Kate Atkinson might have been poking a little bit of fun with this novel. Of course I could be entirely wrong and maybe obnoxious, and maybe I should just shush with my assumptions… but someone once credited me for parallels in my own novel that I certainly didn’t put there on purpose and it was kind of lovely because I felt like it made me look clever so maybe other authors also like it when people go “oh maybe this is what she meant”.

I digress…

The thing is this: I remember reading so many novels in the late 90s and early 2000s that seemed to have very little plot. Like you got to the end and you were like, “ok…but…and?” and it was quite confusing. I specifically remember these sorts of stories because they kind of made me feel hopeful for my own career as a writer. Like gosh, Nadine, you don’t even really have to come up with a plot if you’re not capable, you can just write things and then say it’s a book and no one can say “that’s not a book” because look here this has no plot and it IS a book it has a cover and everything!

So I think KA was playing with the idea of that trend a little. Poking fun at it. Pointing it out. Nora moans that Effie’s story is weird and plotless and that there are too many characters and how must she remember all these people etc and she bemoans the lack of intrigue. All the while KA is threading the story with actual intrigue that you only get to enjoy once you have consumed it as a whole.

So it’s sort of like those weird plotless books that I used to read in my late teens, but at the same time it isn’t because it’s only pretending to be that.

I’m quite impressed really.

And very untalented…

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The Alphabet Ends With Y

I’m not sure whether I should be writing about this here or on my more personal blog. This space is kind of where the reader comes out to play, while my Nadine Rose Larter blog is more for the over-sharing writer. This particular topic tends to fall under both banners though. And honestly considering my first Sue Grafton novel was devoured in a very small hotel on the Island of Koh Samui, Thailand, an argument could be made that it might even fit nicely on my travel blog.

I digress though.

Sue Grafton died at the end of 2017 and for some reason it has had a sort of sobering effect on me. She is the writer of what I’ve always referred to as The Alphabet Series. I’m sure you’ve seen her books. A is for Alibi. B is for Burglar. C is for Corpse.

I was collecting her books. For no reason other than I like the alphabettiness of her titles. I thought it was cute. I only have a few of them. Three to be exact. It’s a silly challenge but I always imagined that somewhere along the line I would manage to locate all of them and in my retirement I would start at A and make my way through to Z.

But Sue Grafton died.

And she only got to Y. Y is for Yesterday.

And I am surprised by how much this upsets me. This small bit of someone else’s unfinished business.

Because she only got to Y. I cannot help but feel the tragedy of this in my bones.

I didn’t even know her. I’ve only read A.

I’m sorry that you died, Sue Grafton. And I truly hope that one day I will have your 25 letter alphabet on my shelves.