Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Reads: The Name of This Book is Secret

I've been raving about this book (and the rest of the books in the Secret Series) for years, so it seemed only proper to add it as a Friday Read:

The Name of This Book is Secret
by Pseudonymous Bosch

For: 8-12-year-olds

Genre: Mystery (and I will argue Humor as well)

Published: 2007

Description: This is the story about a secret. but it also contains a secret story.

When adventurous detectives, Cass, an ever-vigilant survivalist, and Max-Ernest, a boy driven by logic, discover the Symphony of Smells, a box filled with smelly vials of colorful ingredients, they accidentally stumble upon a mystery surrounding a dead magician's diary and the hunt for immortality.

Filled with word games, anagrams, and featuring a mysterious narrator, this is a book that won't stay secret for long.

Why I liked it: I'm a sucker for an off-beat narrator, and this is one of the best.  Plus, this book came with a warning not to read further than the title page, and the first two pages of Chapter 1 were Xed out.  (Literally.)  Who can resist a mystery like that?
Got any comparable titles?  Please share. I'm DYING to find another book like this one!  (Though I'm convinced that I may just have to write one.)

Happy weekend reading!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finding Inspiration

The weather has been so nice for the past two weeks that I've been spending most of my time out in the yard, pruning and weeding and getting the garden prepped for planting.  But this morning, Mother Nature decided I'd had enough sun, so she sent a lovely little thunderstorm instead.
Ah, well, I suppose revision is the name of the game today.

But as I sat at my computer, revising that quiet little WIP that's been calling my name for months, I realized the thunderstorm outside was also calling my name.  I could feel it's dark, murderous mood (which, incidentally, was NOT the mood of the scene I was revising), and I wanted to capture it on paper somehow.

I was inspired.

The thunderstorm must have heard my thoughts and wanted to remain free, because it quickly moved on before I had a chance to open a file and start typing, but I did take a few moments to think about how quickly I had found inspiration.  I decided to look around and see if there was any other inspiration I could find.

And I did.  The budding flowers of the bright yellow forsythia plant outside my window brought a happy thought.  The pair of mud-encrusted shoes by my front door brought an imagine  quietly churning the soil; of quiet strength as the very earth itself was moved by my hands.  I thought of the wind as it moaned through the house, conjuring images of ghosts and phantoms and unseen things.

Finding inspiration is as easy as taking the time to look around.  Where do you find inspiration?  Please inspire me!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Introducing My "Friday Reads" Series (and the First Book: Luncheon of the Boating Party)

I read a lot.  (Obviously.)  I'm online a lot.  (Yep.)  I figure I should put the two together somehow, so today I'm announcing my new weekly series...Friday Reads.  I know, this is such a novel idea and everything...

I hope to spotlight one book I love each Friday.  I'm not a reviewer, nor do I ever want to be one, but I love to share books I love.  I tend to read mostly middle-grade (for the 8-12yo crowd), so this series may fall heavily in that direction, but I hope to mix it up with some YA and books for grownups, too.  Maybe even some great non-fiction, self-help and inspirational books, and the occasional picture book as well.  I'll pick from new releases and older books, classics and bestsellers, award-winners and those that never got a chance to shine, first-time reads to books I've read dozens of times.  And, yes, I will pick books from all genres, because I just so happen to read all genres (except horror and erotica, because that's just not how I roll).

Since I do love getting suggestions for more books to read, I'd love to have my readers (that's you guys) tell me about books similar to my Friday Reads.  If you know of one, please share!

FYI, not that you were asking, but I chose Friday so you'd have the weekend to read the book yourself (if you are so inclined), and then you can come back here and leave me a lovely long comment about how I choose the awesomest books on the planet and how you can't believe you ever got through the weekends without my book suggestions and how you plan on showering me with gifts....

Okay, fine.  The gifts are optional.

Anyway, since there's no time like the present, today's Friday Read is actually one I haven't read for a few years but I still think about it (that's how much I liked it).  And it's for adults, too, which seemed like the place I should probably start this series, since I am supposed to be one of those adult creatures:  

Cover for: Luncheon of the Boating PartyLuncheon of the Boating Party
by Susan Vreeland

For: Adults

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published: 2007

Description: With her richly textured novels, Susan Vreeland has offered pioneering portraits of artists' lives. Now, as she did in Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Vreeland once again focuses on a single painting: Auguste Renoir's instantly recognizable masterpiece, which depicts a gathering of Renoir's real friends enjoying a summer Sunday on a café terrace along the Seine. Narrated by Renoir and seven of the models, the novel illuminates the gusto, hedonism, and art of the era. With a gorgeous palette of vibrant, captivating characters, Vreeland paints their lives, loves, losses, and triumphs so vividly that the painting literally comes alive.... (The Boston Globe).

Why I liked it: I am a huge art history fan.  This book is art history come to life.  What more can I say?
Do you know of any books similar to this?  A good historical fiction about art or artists?  Please share! And happy weekend reading!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How To Fail Successfully

It looks like I've chosen the once-a-month blogging option.  Sorry about that, folks.

But, to be honest, I've slipped into "emergency mode" it seems like, so only those urgent activities get done.  Unfortunately, this makes me a terrible blogger.  Even my writing has suffered.  I'm a failure.

But I'm proud that I'm a failure, too.  Because failure is good for you.

Seriously, it is.  I really I mean it.  No, it's true.  If you can fail, you can do anything.  That's a mantra we should all adopt.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

I've been thinking about this recently as I deal with my children and the bane of their existence: homework.  I have a few boys (okay, all of them) who struggle with homework.  One can't quite grasp the material and needs a lot of help figuring it out, another already knows the material and sees no reason for doing it since it's too easy, and one is too busy pursuing other interests and forgets to make the time for homework.  And so, recently all have failed to turn in homework on time.  

But two of them have been changed by their failure.  Both paid the consequences of their failure--one wasn't able to attend his weekly floor hockey activity, and the other lost his weekly computer privileges--and both realized that they were in charge of their individual destinies.  It was an empowering experience for both the them, thanks to failure.  Now both are much more dedicated to getting their work done without nagging from Mommy Dearest.  (We're still holding out hope for the third.  He's still young.)

Sometimes I think we see failure as, well, failure.  But it's not.  It's still success.  Because each time you fail, you learn.  And learning is really what life is all about, isn't it?  To grow, to progress, to learn, these are what I believe we are really here for.

So, lately, I've been failing spectacularly in the writing department. And I'm proud of it. Though I've made no progress on paper, I'm still progressing.  Instead I've learned how to be a better mother, a better wife, a better gardener, and that, in turn, will make me a better writer.  

So go ahead and fail. It will be good for you.