Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Books I've Loved: Perfect Escape

I read this one in a single sitting.  I seriously could not put it down.  Something about the relationship between these two siblings felt so perfect and so real I just had to keep reading to see how it played out.  And the secondary characters are heartbreaking too.

It's unusual in YA books for parents to be anything but props or voices of authority, but the parents in this book felt real.  They were mad, sure, but they also had a sense of helplessness about them, like they knew they didn't actually have any power to change the situation.  I like that vulnerability, that understanding that your kid is their own person and that you can't exert your will over them.

Because this book is told from Kendra's perspective, it wasn't as immersive an experience as OCD Love Story, but it was easy to see how difficult living with this disorder can be.  While Kendra is frustrated with Grayson for not being able to be normal, Grayson's frustration at his own disorder is palpable.  He doesn't want to be the center of attention in the family, but his anxiety has made him that way.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb….

Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art -- until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation. 

Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all -- with enough distance, maybe she'll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past. 

With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Weekly Goals 29-6-15

It's my last reasonably quiet week for a while so I want to make the most of it and get a whole lot of work done on my WIP.  I aim to hit the 30K mark by Thursday.  I've signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo too, so hopefully that will put some spurs on me too.  I'd like to be nearing the end of the book by the end of July.  Hopefully by the 24th when the Film Festival starts.  I'm not counting on it though, because the kids are off school for two weeks from Friday, and I have at least one, if not two, trips to Auckland in the next few weeks.

I've been completely hopeless at exercising because I've been so busy and it's cold and dark by the time I get home and the last thing I want to do is go to the gym.  I have to work on that because I feel myself getting more unfit by the day.  It's not a good feeling.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 26-6-15

This post is part of  Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things (Lexa has just taken it over from VikLit who has hosted it for the last 2 years). Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

It's been a much quieter week at work and I've managed to get through lots of the little things I've been putting off.  An with being home all week, I've managed to write most nights, making it past the 25K mark in my WIP.  I hope to get a bit more done over the weekend so I can make it to the 30K mark next week.

The kids stayed with my parents tonight so my partner and I got a date night. We went to my Friday night work drinks, then out to dinner and to see Love and Mercy at the movies.  It's been so long since we had a date night!  Too long

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Books I've Loved: Teeth

I love Hannah Moskowitz.  Her books always strike a chord in me for some reason.  And this one is no exception. Somehow even the bonkers premise works for me.  And it's pretty bonkers.  You see, one of the main characters is part fish.  Yet somehow, it makes perfect sense in the world of the book because everything about Rudy's life is kind of nuts.

Everything revolves around his sick brother and the only thing that can keep him alive is the fish available only on this one remote island.  Isolated and without much supervision, it's no wonder Rudy is desperate enough for a friend that he'll reach out to the strange kid in the ocean.

But as the story unfolds, why Teeth is there, and what he's been through becomes more apparent.

This is a book I read in a single sitting.  It had me mesmerized from the first page and when I was done, I just sat there for a long time, wondering what the hell I'd just read.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb…

A gritty, romantic modern fairy tale from the author of Break and Gone, Gone, Gone.

Be careful what you believe in.

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.

Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Weekly Goals 22-6-15

I'm home all week this week (and next), so it's time to get some serious writing done.  I'm heading toward the crucial half-way mark in my book, and I feel like maybe the pace is off a little.  Not enough has happened yet.  I've been leaving little notes for myself so when I go back to revise, I'll remember  what I think I need to add in each chapter.  Until I have a chance to read the whole lot through, I won't know if I'm right about the pacing.  So for now, I just keep writing forward and hope I hit my plot points where I want to hit them.

I have a lot of things going on at work, so it's going to be a busy week (as usual), not to mention it's almost the end of term for the kids, so we have all those things like parent-teacher interviews to squeeze in as well.  Not to mention figuring out what we're going to do with the kids for two weeks…

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 19-6-15

This post is part of  Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things (Lexa has just taken it over from VikLit who has hosted it for the last 2 years). Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

I've hit the 20K mark on my book.  I don't know that any of the words I've written are any good, but I should be around about a third of the way through.  Part of me wonders if I haven't pushed things forward enough yet (I'm not even 24 hours into the story's timeline), but I'll push on and fix things up in revision, once I've added all the other elements I need to add in.  I'm feeling pretty happy with the way I'm managing to weave in the characters' pasts without resorting to flashbacks.  And I think I have quite distinct voices for each of my two protagonists.  I guess we'll see when I finally let my CPs see it.

My boss is back from overseas and by Tuesday next week my entire team at work will be back together for the first time in over two months.  It will be nice to have everyone there again because it's been a little quiet the last few weeks with so many people gone.

It's my youngest son's birthday on Sunday and he's having a party at Laser Force.  So my weekend is all about birthday cakes and presents.

What are yu celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Books I've Loved: Drowning Instinct

This book took my breath away.  It's dark, creepy, realistic and tragic all at the same time.  In other books where a kid falls for a teacher, I often wonder how they could be so stupid.  In this story, I never felt that way.  Everything that happens unfolds in a horribly, awful, but perfectly understandable way.

It's told as a police interview so right from the start you know something awful has happened and that Jenna, the MC is involved.  As the story unfolds, your sympathies switch from one character to another so quickly it's unsettling.  But it's that uncertainty and mistrust of everyone that keeps you turning the pages.

This is a book that will stay with you long after you've closed its covers.  It will cling to you like a film of dust to your skin and you'll find yourself thinking about it at odd moments of the day, wondering if maybe you missed something here, or misunderstood something there.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb:

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain... magnetism.

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Weekly Goals 15-6-15

This week it's all about writing.  After a week way from my WIP, I need to settle back into it and make some real progress.  I'm sitting at the 16K mark, and I'd like to get closer to the 25K mark by next week.  It's around about that point that I introduce a new character, so I have those 9K to cement the relationship between my initial two characters.

It's going to be another busy week at work, although hopefully a little less insane than the previous few.  No traveling this week, yay!

With all the delicious bread I've been making, I'm starting a new thing where I'll post a photo on Twitter each day under the hashtag #ourdailybread.  So if you're interested in seeing what I'm making, check that out…

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 12-6-15

This post is part of  Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things (Lexa has just taken it over from VikLit who has hosted it for the last 2 years). Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

I'm home!

It's been a long and busy week in Auckland, but I made it home last night (with only about an hour's worth of delays).  Looking forward to spending the weekend with the kids after not seeing them for a whole week.  And making sure they eat a lot of vegetables because I'm sure they have avoided them all week.

Didn't get any writing done while I was away,  so it's back to the WIP tonight.  I didn't even have much time to think about it while I was away so I think it may be difficult to find my way back in.  Fingers crossed I make it

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Books I've Loved: Eleanor and Park

I loved this book.  It was so sweet and so honest and so very, very real.  Both the main characters are so beautifully drawn and feel so much like people you might know.  Or be.  It's a romance, but it's not like any other romance I've ever read.  It's awkward and uncomfortable even while it's satisfying and sweet.

Park is Korean and Eleanor is lower class.  Their two worlds could not be further apart even if physically their houses aren't that distant from each other.  Yet the simple act of sharing a pair of headphones to listen to a song is big enough to breach the yawning chasm between their two worlds.

I loved this book.  I actually looked forward to my commute because I couldn't wait to start reading it again.  And when I was finished, I was disappointed because I knew I'd never have the chance to read Eleanor and Park for the first time again.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb…

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Weekly Goals 8-6-15

I made it to 15k on the WIP last night, so I hit my word count goal for the week.  YAY!

Now I just have to deal with it stagnating there for a week while I'm away on business.  There may be the odd pocket of time I have free to write, but because I can't count on it, I'm going to have to deal with having 5 or 6 days of no progress.  I will get right back into it when I'm home again and can work within my usual routine.

My goals for this week are fairly simple: get through the week and hope the family copes without me. I've never been away this long before, and I shudder to think what chaos the place will be in by the time I get back.  The kids have already gleefully told me they're planning Nutella sandwiches for the whole week!

Maybe I'm better off not knowing…

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 5-6-15

This post is part of  Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things (Lexa has just taken it over from VikLit who has hosted it for the last 2 years). Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

I'm tracking to hit my word-count goal for the week, but will have to work all weekend to make it after getting stuck at Auckland Airport on Wednesday night when the plane I was supposed to be on was struck by lightning.  I'm enjoying writing this book.  It's very different to anything I've done previously in that the whole book takes place over a very, very short timeframe.  It's also much more of an adventure piece than anything else I've written.  Sometimes it's fun to stretch that writing muscle and do something different.

Next week I'm away for work the whole week and I know I won't get any writing done.  But I'm okay with that.  I'll pick up where I left off when I'm home again.  I won't have the draft finished as quickly as I'd hoped, but it's not a race, right? 

Haven't made it to the gym since Monday, so the less we talk about that, the better….  Especially with all the delicious bread I've been making (and eating).

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Books I've Loved: Made You Up

As you've probably gleaned if you're a regular reader, I'm a sucker for an unreliable narrator.  And in this book, the narrator is about as unreliable as you can get.  Alex is schizophrenic and every day is a struggle as she tries to keep reality and delusion straight.  And she's desperate to do it, at least long enough to finish high-school and get into college.

But things start to unravel when she meets Miles and is certain she's met him before - in the hallucination that sparked her initial diagnosis.

I loved the way delusion and reality wound around each other in this book.  And how things that were so absurd they had to be delusions turned out to be real while things that seemed so mundane wound up being the things Alex hallucinated.

It's a book I wanted to just keep reading because every turn of the page revealed something new and different and amazing, and I really wanted Alex to hold things together long enough to make it to graduation.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb…

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. 

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Weekly Goals 1-6-15

I made it past the 10K mark on the new book, so this week is all about keeping that momentum going.  I'd like to hit 16K by next Monday if possible, although 20K would be better.  I'm away for a week after that for work, so I won't get anything done that week at all.  Hopefully it won't be hard to pick up again after that…

I made it to the gym three times over the last three days, so I'm feeling better about that too.  Hopefully I can make it a couple more times this week.

I've made a whole bunch of new breads over the last week, and am ready to start experimenting with new grains.  Looking forward to seeing what kinds of delicious combinations I can come with.

I have a lot of work to do this week, with a trip to Auckland tomorrow and the public holiday yesterday shortening the week.  I think this is going to be a crazy week!

What are your goals for the week?