Monday, September 26, 2011

Slow Burn

It's time for another round of the blog chain and Shaun started us off with this question:

What are three books you would tell people that they need to keep reading even if they aren't immediately sucked in by the first page?

Oooh, such a great question. I have read so many blog posts about nailing the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page, the first fifty pages, etc, etc, etc. But we often forget to talk about the books that don't immediately grab hold of you,the ones that don't keep you up reading all night, and the books that play a little hard to get, and it is past time that the slow burn books get their time in the spotlight. So without further chit-chat, here are my top 3.

1. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

If you haven't read this book. OMG read it now. And the other two books in the series, you should probably get those too, cause you will want to read them as well. I love all three of these books, and one of the things I like best is the pacing. This first book especially takes its time establishing the characters and world... before letting us watch it slowly fall apart after a meteor crashes into the moon and pushes it off its axis. Unlike disaster movies where most of the fun is in watching large scale destruction, (The White House smashed to bits, an eight lane thruway crumbling to dust. You know you've seen these movies. Own your shame.) here disaster comes slowly as each new consequence slowly stacks up one upon the other in a way that leads to absolutely devastating consequences. While I was impatient with the pacing at the beginning of the book, by the end I was totally hooked and could not put it down.

2. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

I came across this book several years ago while browsing the stacks at my local library. I can't remember what made me pick it up. Maybe the chicken on the cover? It's not the type of book I usually reach for, and it was definitely a slower read for me, as opposed to most books which I will tear through in a day or two. What kept me reading? First there was the mystery of what happened to the narrators mother and sister. Then there was the absolutely gorgeous writing, the kind that makes you want to read it out loud like it's poetry. Mostly though it was the narrator herself, and the way she slowly unraveled her story. After finishing it, I wanted to read it again. Not immediately, but I knew that it was the type of book that I could come back to in a few years and love it as much as I had the first time. Since those few years have gone by, I will definitely be ordering a copy of this book on Amazon very soon.

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Okay, so confession. I haven't actually read this book. It - along with the second and third book in the series - have been sitting in my to-read pile since Christmas when my mother-in-law sent them to me after having read them herself. She told me they were good. I've read reviews saying they were good. I'd even read the first page of first one, but it didn't really grab me and I had other books in my pile... so I put it back down with the intention of picking it up again soon. Months passed and I was still telling myself any day now, when my older sister also told me they were good. She had just read all three of them and couldn't put them down, she said. Except. Except for one small thing. The first one started a little slow. So slow that she said it took about 100 pages before it really got going for her. One Hundred Pages. That is a lot of pages of to get through before a book really hooks you, and I am embarrassed to say that I have not yet gotten to those 100 pages, or any of the ones that come after. But really, I will. Any day now.

So that's my list. And you can find even more slow burn book recommendations from the other chain members. If you want to go in reverse check out Matt's post from yesterday and you to move forward you can find Katrina's list posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dark and Stormy Nights

The blog chain started with Christine this time who gave us a creative writing challenge:

Since we are all writer's, I thought it was about time for us to stretch our creative muscles and do a little writing. So, take the following topic and go crazy! Show us what you've got. Your story can be as long or as short as you choice.

The topic: A dark and stormy night.

 Here's what I've come up with:

Every window and door was shut and sealed tight, leaving the house hot and airless. The old metal fan caked with dust and creaking with every turn chased the same humid air from one side of the room to the other. We'd gathered round the kitchen table, the way we always did when a storm came, no matter that it was the middle of the night. Mom sat quiet and mostly still except for the occasional tap of her fingernails against the scarred tabletop.

Tonight's storm moved slowly, for nearly an hour it seemed to rumble at a great distance, creeping towards us on padded feet. Then all at once it was here. Thunder shook the walls, and lightening painted our windows bright white. And mom, on her feet, lunged towards the back door that rattled with the storm demanding to be let in.

John had already grabbed hold of one arm, and dad was on the other. Each outweighed her by at least fifty pounds, but she flung them off as if they were no more than a few drops of rain. I dived for her feet, getting kicked in the face for my trouble, as I latched onto her ankle. Undeterred she kept on towards the door, dragging me, a human ball and chain daughter along with her.

"Mom," I screamed as she flicked open the locks that she normally fumbled with. The wind stole the words from my mouth, not that it mattered she was fully in the storm's thrall and well beyond listening.

Normally this was where we I fell back, resigned to letting her throw herself into the storm's arms and be lit up and then struck down once again by lightning's hot kiss. Tonight though, I clung tighter. She dragged me across the wet grass and reached her hands up towards the sky.

I hoped that I would ground her, and that this time the storm would simply pass us by. But just like my seventh birthday when I'd hoped for a brand new bike and got my brother's hand-me-down instead - I was destined for disappointment.

Aaaannnddd that's it:) For more dark and stormy nights follow along with the entire blog chain. Matt's post came before mine and tomorrow the thunder rolls Katrina's way.