This book is a light read. Light, easy, raunchy, perfect for an afternoon. Harris does a great job developing Sookie, the mind reading main character,This book is a light read. Light, easy, raunchy, perfect for an afternoon. Harris does a great job developing Sookie, the mind reading main character, as a likeable, relatable, and friendly woman. She also puts a twist on a commonly used fantasy creature, the vampire. Her vampires revealed themselves to humans after they discovered they can make “True Blood,” a synthetic blood that comes in a bottle. I found myself thinking that I can twist fantasy creatures in my writing too! I found all of Harris’ characters were strong and unique and I commend her for her development. I wish the mystery of the town murderer would have come in earlier in the story because it hooked me halfway through!...more
This collection opens the reader’s eyes to a unique time period where race and gender discrimination is rich. I am currently studying feminist criticiThis collection opens the reader’s eyes to a unique time period where race and gender discrimination is rich. I am currently studying feminist criticism and I found that female stereotypes, whether the story supported or discredited them, were evident in each story. I learned from reading this collection that the author has to match the words used in a story to the time period that the story takes place in. For example, in Gaines’ “The Sky is Gray,” James says the bus “go’n be coming in a few minutes. Coming round that bend down there full speed. And I’m go’n get my handkerchief and wave it down.” The word choice illustrates that the narrator does not live in present time. In conclusion, the pieces included in the collection gave an interesting peak into life in the South in the early 1900s. My favorite stories were Capote’s “Children on their Birthdays,” and Williams’ “The Yellow Bird.”...more
I loved this collection. My favorite short stories were the deep and depressing pieces like Evans “Someone Ought To Tell Her There’s Nowhere To Go” anI loved this collection. My favorite short stories were the deep and depressing pieces like Evans “Someone Ought To Tell Her There’s Nowhere To Go” and Pederson’s “Small and Heavy World.” One of the lessons I learned while reading these short stories is the importance of character development. Especially when writing or reading a short story, the character needs to stand out,to grow, or to fall. For example, in Rash’s “The Ascent” Jared, a young boy of 10 realizes his parents are addicted to meth. Throughout the novel the reader watches as Jared comes to the conclusion that his parents are headed towards death. Jared both rises and falls at the end of the story by killing himself in an abandoned plane, to go to “the place they were all headed.” ...more
This collection was the first non-fiction collection that I've ever picked up. What I found was that non-fiction pieces have a trend; the author knowsThis collection was the first non-fiction collection that I've ever picked up. What I found was that non-fiction pieces have a trend; the author knows way more than the reader will ever about the subject, the author uses insane amounts of detail with little imagery, and the author sums up the lesson learned from their various experiences in the last paragraph of their piece. Every story in the collection followed a similar path. What I took from reading the essays is how detailed an author must be while describing a setting. For example, in Phillip Lopate’s “Brooklyn the Unknowable” the reader needs exactly what Lopate gives them, setting. For example, Lopate says “Looking south toward Red Hook, there is a parking lot filled with Verizon telephone trucks, in the distance the elevated trestle of the F train, and the Kentile Floors sign, and a factory placard that reads “Alex Figliola Contracting.” Some of my favorites were the humorous self deprecating essays like Doyle’s “Irreconcilable Dissonance,” Labash’s “A Rake’s Progress and Sedaris “Guy Walks into a Bar Car.” I found Churchon’s “The Dead Book” very emotional and unfitting in the collection and Gamel’s “The Elegant Eyeball” very hard to relate to. ...more
After Katniss braves the Hunger Games, a fight to the death, the second time in two years she is now working for an army of rebels against the CapitalAfter Katniss braves the Hunger Games, a fight to the death, the second time in two years she is now working for an army of rebels against the Capital. I am a huge fan of this series; however, I think Mockingjay was Collins’ weakest of the trilogy. There was the scene in the Capital that I felt was dragged on for too long and it ruined the book for me. What I wanted to know was why there was such a lack of emotion between some of the characters. When people were dying left and right, I wanted to see a reaction! Collins did redeem herself with Katniss' sister Prim’s death though; the portrayal of Katniss’ reaction was exactly what the reader expected. I will take this into consideration in my own writing if I write a series; the reader will predict a certain reaction from the character because they know that character so well. ...more
In this story, three girls are accused of murdering their lovers and the twist at the end is completely unexpected. The best feature about this storyIn this story, three girls are accused of murdering their lovers and the twist at the end is completely unexpected. The best feature about this story is the rising action. It creeps up on you; just like Ashley feels like she is being followed, the reader feels like the story is going to catch up to them (and it does). I love this technique and I will use it in my own stories. Also, Sheldon does a commendable job with the character development of the three main “characters” Ashley, Toni, and Alette. I realized after reading the book how much research Sheldon must have put into creating this story. This novel makes you think! I actually turned back to the beginning after I reached the “twist” and re-read it!...more
Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas was not a novel I expected James Patterson to write. I expected action, action, and more action, but instead I read a sofSuzanne’s Diary for Nicholas was not a novel I expected James Patterson to write. I expected action, action, and more action, but instead I read a soft, sweet, and heartwarming story. The story follows Katie after she falls in love with Matt, one day Matt runs away and leaves behind Suzanne’s diary for her son, Nicholas. Katie discovers that Suzanne is Matt’s old lover and Nicholas is his child. Though this is meant to devastate Katie, through reading the diary, she comes to like Suzanne. One of the techniques that Patterson uses that I hope to use in my writing is turning a common stereotype. Readers are expected to hate the “other woman” or even to hate the man who deceives women, yet here, Suzanne’s diary makes Katie smile and feel for Suzanne. There is a story that I even printed out, it’s called “The Story of 5 Balls” where it tells you that work can come and go, but family, health, friends, and integrity are things that are breakable. ...more
If you like fast action in a book, this is for you. Personally, I enjoy a little more reflection and light breaks than Patterson offers in this story,If you like fast action in a book, this is for you. Personally, I enjoy a little more reflection and light breaks than Patterson offers in this story, but it was definitely an adrenaline rush! The story follows a private investigation company owner Jack Morgan as he attempts to solve two murders and get laid during the process. I like how Patterson gives the reader an in depth look into the police and private investigation systems in his book, and I appreciate how much research it must have taken. I know if I ever write a story about a specific type of company, I will have to do research as detailed as his. One thing I do not like about this story, that I will not take as advice for my own writing, is the flat characters; I kept finding myself wanting Jack or his various lovers Coleen, Shelby, or Justine, to have a quirk or to be more unique. ...more
This story is stunning and emotional; I loved it even though I cried my eyes out. Albom captures a universal wish, the wish to have one more day withThis story is stunning and emotional; I loved it even though I cried my eyes out. Albom captures a universal wish, the wish to have one more day with someone you love who has passed. Charley, the main character has a life that keeps pushing him when he is down, and as he is about to commit suicide, his dead mother steps in to help him realize he can turn it all around. Albom’s greatest strength in this novel is the portrayal of Charley and his mother’s love for each other through what they discover in that one day. I also really hope to use the technique in my own writing that Albom uses at the end of the story. Charley, the narrator, reflects. He says things like “I think from that point on I was not able to face my daughter or my wife” and “In that matter, I suppose, my father and I were parallel.” I love this method when used in a novel because it really makes the reader feel the change within the main character. ...more
I liked this story and wish that Schlink would have made it even longer. It takes place in Germany and follows the affair of Michael, a young boy, andI liked this story and wish that Schlink would have made it even longer. It takes place in Germany and follows the affair of Michael, a young boy, and Hannah, a middle aged woman. The novel picks up again years later at her trial for Nazi crimes. This story deals with the hard question of “what would you have done.” I love a story that makes the reader think, that makes them question their own actions in a situation, and I hope I can one day write a story like this. One thing I did not like about the book was the narrative distance; I could describe it with these sentences: “The trial was in another town, about an hour’s drive away. I had no other reason ever to go there. Another student drove.” The distance from the reader made even a round character feel flat. Lastly, I wished there was more of a sum up at the end, making the reader decide their feelings about Hanna with some guidance from the author. ...more
Couples by John Updike Random House Publishing, 1996
Having never read an Updike book, I had no idea what to expect. I am a particularly modest person,Couples by John Updike Random House Publishing, 1996
Having never read an Updike book, I had no idea what to expect. I am a particularly modest person, and to any of my friends who share this characteristic, I do not recommend reading his novels. To say the sex scenes were graphic is an understatement. What I did enjoy was how realistic and blunt his writing is. Marriage, affairs, life, and death are not sugar coated in this novel as they are in many others.
In this book about eight couples and their various scandals, I found one of the Updike’s major strengths is his use of listing. Sometimes, in novels, listing deviates from the point the author is trying to come to. Yet, when Updike employs listing it not only makes sense in context, but also sounds poetic. For example, when Piet’s wife Angela refuses to please him in bed, he decides to do so himself, and his thoughts are listed like “Words in and out. Virgins pregnant through the ear. Talk to me psychologee.. Waxen. Wilted camellia petals. In his youth an ivory rod at will.” As a fiction and a poetry writer myself, I hope to make use of Updike’s technique of incorporating flow and rhythm into my stories.
On the other hand, one of Updike’s techniques that I did not appreciate was his in-depth imagery. As writers, we are taught to never stop creating images; I believe Updike takes this lesson to an extreme and I found myself losing focus on the scene. For example, Updike describes Piet’s love for his house, “its rectangular low rooms, its baseboards and chair rails molded and beaded by hand, the slender mullions of the windows whose older panes were flecked with oblong bubbles and tinged with lavender, the swept worn brick of the fireplace hearths like entryways into a sooty upward core of time…” By the time I had finished reading about how it was described, I found that I forgot why it was being described.
Another strong point in this story is the characters and the feelings they stir in the reader. Typically, in a book where people cheat and lie, I find myself disgusted with the actions. Yet, in Couples, the characters are relatable, sad, and stir up sympathy in the reader. I commend Updike in finding a way to make likeable characters out of adulterers. In conclusion, Updike depicts the relationships in this novel with a cutting honesty, wonderful diction, and unbeatable imagery. ...more
Goldengrove by Francine Prose HarperCollins Publishers, 2008
Goldengrove is a moving novel filled to the brim with lessons about fear, loss, and deathGoldengrove by Francine Prose HarperCollins Publishers, 2008
Goldengrove is a moving novel filled to the brim with lessons about fear, loss, and death. Told in the eyes of thirteen-year-old Nico, the story is an innocent account of the summer where she lost her sister, Margaret. The novel follows Nico and her families’ journey through the despair and acceptance that comes with death. Mirror Lake is the stories central image, where Margaret dies, and Goldengrove, the families’ bookstore, is where a lot of the healing and understanding comes from. The story opens up with Margaret and Nico floating on the lake. The reader can see from their interactions on the first pages that Nico idolizes her older sister, a girl who sings “My Funny Valentine” in a way that makes it look seductive rather than rude. Margaret talks to Nico about her boyfriend, Aaron, who she is in love with. In her usual dramatic manner Margaret dives gracefully away into the water. Due to an untreated heart condition, she drowns under the water as Nico falls asleep in the rowboat. The story then follows Nico’s summer as she discovers more about herself, her family, Margaret, and Aaron. She realizes that no one is as perfect as they seem, and through a few terrifying interactions with Aaron, she begins to see that she does not want to be her sister; she wants to be her own person. Prose’s major strength in this novel is her diction. Each word, each sentence is so carefully constructed and all relates back to the central theme. For example, when Nico has a nightmare involving her sister she says “when I awoke, seasick, drenched, and shipwrecked, as if the knotted sheets were a sail on which I’d washed ashore.” The imagery in her sentences is immaculate; often it felt like reading one long, beautiful poem. I learned through reading her novel that you can make all of the metaphors and symbols relate by putting them under a blanket idea, in her case the lake in which Margaret drowned in. Another strength Prose used is her character development. Using Nico as her narrator for this story makes it even more chilling and painful, though she is very mature for her age, she still was learning and mostly from Margaret. I think using this method in my writing could illustrate a different type of mindset, especially when the novel is marketed to adults. Every character was full of description and I felt like I could predict their behavior by the end of the novel. You could see how grief swept each character a little differently in the book and it was very well constructed. For example Nico’s father would spend hours working on his novel at Goldengrove that he typically would only work on every Sunday, Nico’s mother would overdose on painkillers and zone out, and Aaron burned all of his paintings of the lake. Though not common in novels, one of my favorite things Prose did was a wrap up. The last chapter told the reader about Nico’s future. As a reader, and as a woman, I want to know how Nico grows up, and how Margaret’s death still affects her. As a writer, I hope to give the satisfaction that Prose did at the end of a story. In conclusion, this story was chilling for readers as well as constructive for writers. I’m giving it a 4!