Thursday, May 29, 2014

While Love Stirs: A Book Review

 Hello all! Today (or tonight, I should say) I will be reviewing While Love Stirs by Lorna Seilstad. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
From the back cover: After graduating from Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery in 1910, Charlotte Gregory is ready to stir things up. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to travel, lecture, and give cooking demonstrations on the very latest kitchen revolution--the gas stove--and certainly doesn't mind that the gas company has hired the handsome Lewis Mathis to perform at her lectures. Lewis encourages her work, especially her crusade to introduce fresh, appetizing, nutritious food to those convalescing in hospitals. But young hospital superintendent Dr. Joel Brooks is not convinced any changes should be made--especially by this outspoken young woman.

When Charlotte and Joel are coerced into planning a fund-raising gala for the hospital, will this combustible pair explode?

 Where to start with this book? Well, from the beginning I wasn't entirely certain. I'm not the most romantic of readers, so I wasn't sure what to think of this book when I requested it, but it intrigued me enough that I did. Boy was I in for a pleasant surprise! This wasn't your average historical romance, that's for sure. There were nights when I had decided to read one chapter before going to sleep, and instead I found myself reading 'just one more' for several chapters more. If a book can keep me up late, it's a keeper.

 First there's the plot. I love food. I mean, if you don't then I don't see how you're living right now. The main character is an accomplished cook, and the book showcases her abilities... describing delightful foods that are liable to make your mouth water. Mmm. But in 1910 it's hard for a woman to find a professional cooking position--especially as a chef. She runs into Doctor Joel Brooks and immediately the fire starts popping. Those two just don't mesh well at all! Exciting things start to happen. She gets a traveling job and meets a sweet young man with a beautiful voice, but she can't seem to avoid the man she can't speak to without getting into an argument. And THEN she has to plan a charity ball with him? Uh oh! Besides the main plot, there is also an interesting subplot regarding to Charlotte's younger sister, Tessa, and the shenanigans she gets herself into at the local theater. I found this subplot just are riveting as the main plot, and I admit, that may be because of my love of the arts (and Peter Pan!!!! which is featured in the story.)

 The characters were equally enjoyable. I found myself feeling for them in their moments of disappointment, heart ache, and joy. Charlotte was a fun character. While she was feisty, she also had a heart for service that isn't always shown in a novel. Joel was also interesting. Sometimes I wanted to shake him, but he had many admirable qualities himself. Tessa was my favorite, I think. Maybe because she's similar to me in some ways. I can't wait to see her story.

 I liked how the book wasn't just fluff as you so often see. There's was a deeper message, including how some of the characters had a need to control their situations, and what comes of that, and how God always knows how to fill our vessels when we need them. I enjoyed seeing how little strings were dropped in the beginning or middle of the book that you wouldn't really think about, but at the end everything found itself tied up and making sense. I find that an admirable quality. I also liked all the history incorporated into the story. I didn't know when I requested this book that it was a sequel, and now I know I need to get the first one. Though this one was stand alone, I enjoyed it so much, I want to read the first.

 So yes, I enjoyed this book! And I will be passing it on to my mother to see if she agrees with my hypothesis.

 Buy it here.

~ a rambling author

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On Writing the Second Draft

 Today I want to talk a little bit about where my writing has been going recently. Since I finished writing The Prince's Quest, I've worked on other various projects including Up the Scarlet Staircase and some short stories... Before Dusk, Do You Remember When We Met?, and Butterfly. I've had lots of fun with these projects-- I'm especially proud of Before Dusk, which is an experimental piece for me-- but I miss my 'baby.' So at long last, I began the process of writing the second draft of The Prince's Quest. 

 I'm only about 5000 words in, and I'm using the original as a formula, and making changes where they are needed. I am re-writing, not just revising, so I'm not using a lot of the original wording, and changing minor details in some cases.

 Here's my decision on re-writing. I actual have found it enjoyable in a way. There isn't the same feeling of adventure that you have when you are writing a first draft, when you sometimes don't know everything about the characters, and some pieces of the plot haven't quite fit into place. But that's also a pro. Because I know where the story is headed, I have more freedom to expand on my earlier ideas. I know what I'm doing, in a sense. I also feel like I can delve deeper into the characters.

 Like I said, I'm only about 5000 words in, so I'm not expert. And I probably won't ever be. 10,000 words down the road I might despise re-writing. I already have all these short story urges that I sometimes entertain since I can write them faster than a novel. But I'm hoping I can enjoy this process even more than I am now. If I can dedicate a little time to it every day, Draft 2 could be here in a short time.

 What stage are you at in writing? Do you ever feel like you've hit a block? Or are just too busy to write?

 Thanks for reading!

~ a rambling author

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dear Mr. Knightley: A Book Review

 Hey everyone! Yeesh. Can you believe I haven't blogged all month? I guess that happens when your internet dies for long periods of time. The good news is, it's back up! Yay! So I'm back. And I have a ton of book reviews due! One thing about lack of internet... You have more time for reading. Later this coming week I'll be reviewing When Love Stirs but for now I'm reviewing Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

 Back cover: Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

This story is reminiscent of books like Daddy Long Legs. It tells the tale of an orphan who has been selected as part of a scholarship program to go to a school for journalism. This girl with trust issues has one requirement to fill: pen letters to her mysterious benefactor who dubs himself "Mr. Knightley" - a character from the Jane Austen novel Emma. Now, I'm a big fan of Daddy Long Legs, and though I have yet to complete a Jane Austen novel (I know... shame on me... but they're on my reading list!) I enjoy the films based on them, and plan on reading the books soon. Aside from these sources, I found quotes and references to many other famous works of fiction--my favorite being a scene taken from The Voyage of The Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis.This just made the book even more awesome.

 One thing that really added to the experience was that I read this with my mom. Reading a book out loud can be a hilarious occupation, adding to the humor. I found myself laughing out loud as I read to mom while she drove or made dinner. It became our special time, and that made me like the story even more somehow.

 I love the characters. Alex is awesome. I was jealous of Sam because of her friendship with an actual novelist. Okay, maybe not jealous, but you get the idea. And I felt for Sam. As her past was revealed, and she worked with other kids who had suffered similar things, it just made my heart ache.

 I loved this book. It had all the things I love, and this writer has a wonderful talent! With every reference and awkward situation I found myself more and more won over. This was a pleasure to read and review, and I can't wait for her next book. I can't believe this is her first published story. But congratulations to her for being nominated for a Christy award! She deserves it.

Buy it here.

I hope you enjoyed!

~ a rambling author

Oh, and by the way... I have another blog I'm apart of.... this one crazier than all the rest! See it here.