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A Few of My Favorite Reads

Books Read2

 

“Reading usually precedes writing. And the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.” – Susan Sontag

Often when I find it difficult to write, I read. I have been dealing with some life changes, some health related and probably the most difficult was my brother’s death. He was in home hospice for several months before he died this past December. I tried to spend as much time with him as I could while working full-time and trying not to neglect my husband and kids.

I wanted to write but my heart wasn’t in it. During those months when I did have some spare time, I spent much of it reading. That has always been my favorite escape.

As you can see I got through quite a few since September. I discovered some new authors and caught up with some of my favorites.

I have been a fan of Jodi Picoult for years. “Breathing Time” is her newest and it was fantastic. It was one of those stories that surprised me at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. The twists and turns will keep you up late.

Dorothea Benton Frank was an AVID (Author Visiting in Des Moines) author this past year. I picked up a couple of her books and because she talked so much about “Sullivan’s Island”, I bought it even though it was not her most recent book. She said there is a scene in there that actually happened so of course I had to read the book to find out what she was talking about.  I can’t tell you about the scene here, I really think you need to let her tell you about it. If you get a chance to hear her speak, do it. Her stories are women’s fiction – set in the south.

Mary Kay Andrew’s “Christmas Bliss” was one of my holiday choices this year. I love her books. The characters are spunky and you never know what they are going to get into. She is another author I have read for years.

I discovered a new author to me – Julia Keller. I read a couple of hers – “A Killing in the Hills” and “Bitter River”. She has a third out and I plan to get it as soon as I get my to be read pile down a little bit more. Her stories are set in the Appalachia area. Her protagonist is a prosecuting attorney who has a teenage daughter and an ex-husband. Her stories are a little more nitty-gritty about the side of life that isn’t so pretty. She has won awards for more than one of her books. If you like suspense, you will like these.

I met an Iowa author –  Heather Gudenkauf. I had read her first book a while back – ” The Weight of Silence” and didn’t realize that she was from Iowa. This time I read – “These Things Hidden” Her stories are well crafted and will keep you guessing. She also is a great speaker. It was one of those really cold Iowa winter nights that she spoke at the West Des Moines library. I ran into some writer friends and it was so worth it.

My Sisters in Crime group has a book exchange every year at our Christmas party. We share a book that we really liked. This year I got one that had been on my wish list for a while. William Kent Krueger’s “Ordinary Grace”. It was just as wonderful as I thought it would be. His protagonist told the story of a murder that happened in his hometown when he was a boy. It is no wonder he won so many awards with this book.

The last book on my list is from one of those authors that I have been reading since his first in the series. Alan Bradley writes cozy mysteries with a little girl sleuth named Flavia De Luce. It is set in England in the 1940’s and they are so cleverly written. I have reviewed some of his books here before and I continue to look forward to each new one. This one was “The Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust”. If you like cozy mysteries, you have to check this series out.

One of my goals is to read more this year. I can’t count all of these toward my goal but I am starting with this Alan Bradley novel as my first for this year.

I read for pleasure but I also read because it motivates me to write. I read novels and books on the craft of writing too but novels are what I turn to most. What do you read? Do you set reading goals?

This year I also want to review more, not just here but on Goodreads, Librarything, and Amazon. Do you know that reviewing a book could be one of the best things you could do for your favorite authors?

I hope you add at least one of my suggestions to your to be read pile.

Until next time,

Virginia

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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in What I'm Reading

 

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Monday Motivation

I live in a suburb close to the state fairgrounds. In case you didn’t know it, our state fair was the one the movie State Fair was really about, at least the original movie. For two weeks every year, the volume of traffic explodes. They have to set up temporary lights and have police officers direct traffic, every day. It is so busy, I usually drive out of my way to get to downtown Des Moines, to avoid it on my way to work.

Our state fair is a big thing here. People actually drive in with big campers to stay for the duration.  Unless you are a farmer, I never really understood that.The attendees come from all over the United States and probably the world.  If I go at all, it is usually just for a few hours, one day. I have to confess, I have not been there in a few years. My husband and I used to meet another couple in the evening to listen to the Blues Band.

What amazes me is that we are a state that feeds the world and for 10 days each year, we stuff ourselves with food that is not good for you. I grabbed this photo from a share site so don’t think we actually had a Road Kill vendor but the big thing this year was bacon wrapped corn dogs. There are deep fried Twinkies, candy bars, and butter. Funnel cakes, root beer, lemonade, and of course the Bud tent. Don’t picture a small carnival here. This takes up several acres and includes animal barns, a varied industries building, a grandstand for shows and more. You can go see photos that have been judged as well as cooking. Antiques and quilts. The local media set up stages so they can report from the fair daily. On top of that is the midway with all the rides and of course fireworks every night. 355 days a year people work, raise families, attend sports events and are basically pretty normal until the fair comes and everyone is ready to party.

Write about your fair experience. Write about the crowd of people, what they wore, the smells, the sounds, the tastes.

If you have not had a chance to experience a real state fair, mark your calendars for next August in Iowa.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

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