Sunday, October 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo and Writing Workshops

This year I will be participating in NaNoWriMo. For those who haven't heard of this totally awesome organization, head over here to check it out. Essentially, participants agree to dedicate the month of November to writing a novel: 50,000 words. It doesn't have to be good, you just have to get the words out. It is intended to inspire creativity. I signed up last year, but I didn't participate. Last year, I was just too busy, but this year, I don't have any excuses.

Anyone else doing it? I'd love to hear from you.

Another thing I've been interested in lately is doing a writing workshop. I've always wanted to go to one, but I've never had the time. Now, I have plenty of time, but can't afford to go. Ah, the life of not being rich. I heard about one at Miami Dade College, and I would LOVE to go, but I will have to wait until next year... maybe. It would be awesome.

I'm still reading Suburbanistas. So far it's pretty good, but I'm not craving it yet. It's pretty easy to put down. It's still early in the book, so hopefully it will speed up soon.

What are you reading right now?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Endangerd (A Summer Westin Mystery) by Pamela Beason

The Book: Endangered
The Author: Pamela Beason
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

My thoughts on Endangered in one word: wow.

I won this book through a giveaway on and was very much looking forward to reading it. I have always been a big animal lover so the premise of the book hooked me in before I ever read a single word.

Summary: Wildlife biologist/Journalist/Photographer Summer Westin returns to Heritage National Monument to check the progress of a cougar she helped to rehabilitate the year before. Instead of the simple assignment she expected, a toddler goes missing and the media is quick to blame the Cougars for the child's disappearance. Summer soon finds herself in a race to find the child and save the Cougars before it's too late.

Reaction: Let me tell you, it didn't disappoint. Pamela Beason weaves a tale so intense and pulse pounding, you feel like you're on the best roller coaster ever built. Her skill at creating tension is right up there with (if not better than) some of the big name mystery writers. On several occasions, I literally wished I could read faster, because my heart was pounding so fast anticipating what would happen next!

The plot was amazing as well. Anyone who reads mystery books has probably read at least one about a missing child/person. But how many have also thrown cougars into the mix? Not any that I've read. The added story line of the cougars, gave an extra dimension to the story that makes it top notch in my opinion.

Verdict: 5 Stars. I can't wait to read the next Summer Westin mystery. Pamela Beason is definitely an author I will be keeping an eye on.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Haul From the Library Book Sale!

Twice a year, my local library hosts a MASSIVE book sale, which almost makes me salivate with delight (I'm not kidding!) I've only been to it two times, both of which were this year, but I am definitely making plans to hit this event as many times as possible in the future. Each time, they are open for several days, the last day being my most favorite day of them all - 10 cent day! My pulse races at the thought of it! All those books... only a dime a piece?! Come to mama!

Today, I went with my sister and my fiance. We arrived right at opening time, and there was a huge line of people waiting for the doors to open. By the time we were able to park (several blocks away) and walk back (maybe 15 minutes?), the line had already vanished as the book hungry mob attacked the stacks like a pack of hyenas on a carcass. But who can blame them really? Ten cents is a steal!

My Haul - Not the greatest photo lol
By the time we made it to the door, people were already checking out with their treasures, some with CARTS full of books, boxes and boxes of books. Oh how I would love to do that. However, due to lack of space to actually put the books once home, I refrained from going completely overboard (though my fiance may disagree with that statement). I filled up my bag and once it was full, headed to checkout. Final tally? 19 books for only $1.90!

A couple weeks ago I set myself a steep goal of reading 25 books before the end of the year. I'm on number 4. Now that I have plenty of reading material, all I have to do is read them! I can't wait!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: The Me Years by Ellen Finnigan

The Book: The Me Years
The Author: Ellen Finnigan

Summary: "The Me Years" is a spiritual autobiography by Ellen Finnigan. In the book, Ellen details life in her twenties, romance, jobs, and how it all ties in to God and love. This book is about how she reacted to her experiences, examining herself and figuring out who she is. 

I won "The Me Years" as a First Reads giveaway, I will say that I wasn't sure if I would like the book - I'm not religious, but I am interested in spiritual journeys (so funny, that she touches on this subject in the book). I just hoped that it wouldn't be too "preachy".

Reaction: While there were some sections that can only be described as preachy, overall, I really enjoyed the book. As I am currently in my own "me years", there were many points that Ellen Finnigan made that "spoke" to me.

Ms Finnigan is a wonderful storyteller. Reading, I felt as if I were actually witnessing the tale unfold. I could see the changes taking place, the learning, the growing. I kept turning the page because I wanted to know what happened next. It was a good story.

I still have mixed emotions about "The Me Years", however. While, I did indeed love her story, and definitely the way she told it, I found myself completely bored by her summary at the end, which I believe is the whole point of the book: taking her experiences and relating what she learned about them.

Like I said before, I love spiritual journeys and I love reading about them. I like to see what people actually take from their past with them to their future. While reading the book, I noted that, largely, there wasn't a LOT of mention of God and religion, but the last couple chapters were filled with it, smothered with it. I also found that these same chapters had a tendency to talk in circles, with Ellen repeating herself. I could skip paragraphs of text, and she would still be talking about the same thing. I reminds me of a soap opera: you can miss a month of shows, and still be caught up because nothing has changed. But again, this is just the last couple chapters.

Verdict: 3 Stars. I feel the storytelling alone deserves a rating of 4 stars. And mid-book, I was prepared to write a 4 star review. I can't however, get past having to force myself to stumble to the finish line. If the summary wasn't so compressed and slow, I definitely would have given this 4 stars, and it would have if the end had flowed a little bit more smoothly.

Overall, great book, and I will look forward to more work from this talented writer.