Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Books I've Loved: The Serpent King

I wanted to read this one as soon as I first became aware of its existence, so I was pretty excited to find it at the library last week.  Sometimes a book you've been looking forward to reading is a disappointment.  This one wasn't.

It's about a guy called Dillard.   Dillard's father and grandfather are also called Dillard.  Dillard senior is a Pentecostal minister in one of those churches that handle snakes and drink poison to confirm the existence of god and his mercy.  Dillard senior is also in jail for having kiddie porn on his computer.

This leaves Dill alone with his mother in their crappy house, struggling to make ends meet.  He dreads having to go and visit his father in prison, but goes, even though he comes away frightened and depressed every time.

Despite his horrible home-life, Dill has a couple of bright spots in his world.  He has two amazing friends, Travis and Lydia, and his father's instance that he play in the church's praise band has given him the gift of music - not that he's brave enough to share his songs with anyone.

The book follows Dill and his friends through their last year at high school.  Lydia is certain of her future: college in NYC, fame and fortune via her popular fashion blog.  Travis is certain of his too: stay in the small town and work at his father's lumberyard.  Dill is sure he's staying too.  The family is in debt and he's expected to help pull them out of it.

As the end of the school year gets closer, Dill becomes more desperate.  His feelings for Lydia are changing and the thought of her leaving becomes almost too painful to bear.  And the thought of staying in the small town where he's judged by everyone becomes more than he can bear.

I loved this book.  The characters are very real and raw.  I felt for them through their highs and lows, and even cried a little bit in one part - I won't tell you why.

So go read this one.  You won't regret it.

But don't just take my word for it.  Here's the blurb:

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father's extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill's only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia, neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending- one that will rock his life to the core.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekly Goals 29-5-17

Now that I'm pretty well settled into the new house, there is no excuse not to get back into a good writing routine.  So that's my goal for this week: just to get butt in chair every day and get back into my routine.

I have the ghostwriting project to work on, although I really need to do more interviews before I can write a whole lot more, but also other books languishing in mostly-revised hell that I could be working on.

So this week, it doesn't matter what I work on, just so long as I work.

I'm also way behind on my reading goal, so I need to read a bit too.  Luckily there's a long weekend coming up!

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things: 26-5-17

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

So what am I celebrating this week?

A new publishing contract!

I am thrilled to be able to tell you that An Unstill Life, my debut novel, will be back in print soon (July, I believe).  I am extremely happy to have signed a contract with Evernight Teen for it to be re-released.  Watch this space for the new cover and other details…  And fingers crossed, some other books.

We got a new car this week.  Our old one was really on its last legs and we had reached the point where we couldn't drive when it was raining because the windscreen wipers wouldn't work.   So having a new car with all the parts working is luxurious!  And I don't even drive!

It's been a long week at work, so looking forward to the weekend.  I still have a bit of unpacking and tidying up to do, but mostly I'm hoping to read and relax a little.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Books I've Loved: The Upside of Unrequited

I really enjoyed this one.  There are a whole bunch of reasons why I shouldn't have liked it so much, but somehow,  I still did.  I guess thats the sign of a good author, right?

It's the story of Molly, an almost painfully awkward seventeen-year-old twin who has had 26 crushes, but never been kissed.  She lives in the shadow of her more beautiful, glamorous sister, but doesn't resent it.  She and Cassie are best friends as well as sisters.

But things change when Cassie gets a girlfriend and Molly doesn't love the convenient best-best-friend-who's-a-boy.

The book primarily follows Molly as she struggles with the changing relationship with her sister.  The story of her growing crush on the nerdy guy at the store where she works becomes almost secondary to the family dynamics.

And what a family!  Molly and Cassie have two mothers, and as soon as gay marriage is legalized, they decide to get married.  This gives Molly lots to do as she indulges her crafty side making decorations for the wedding.

Normally I hate books where the main character only finds the confidence to be herself once she's in a relationship.  But even though this was sort of the case here, Molly was such an endearing character, and her struggle to understand who she liked and even if she wanted a relationship outside her imagination was so real, I didn't mind it the way I usually do.

Both Cassie and Molly are occasionally self-centered and bratty, but what teenager isn't?  I liked that they were realistically flawed and that their moms called them on it.

So while I can see how this book might anger some people, personally, I liked it!

But don't just rely on me.  Here's the blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weekly Goals 22-5-17

Only one goal this week, and that's to get back to work on my ghostwriting project.  I don't have a lot more material to work with now, but there are a couple of good parts I can knock out, and I'd like to do that this week.  Then I'll need to spend some more time with the subject.

Feeling much more organized in the new house, although there is still more to do.  I unpacked all the books, but just threw them on shelves to get them out of the way, so now I need to actually organize them.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things 19-5-17

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

So what am I celebrating this week?

New house!

We're in.  We're about 3/4 unpacked and the old house is sold and settled.  It's a total relief.  And the new house is great!  Even with stacks of boxes around the place, it's more spacious.  Now I just have to get the little bits of work done to it that need doing, and finish unpacking.  Thank goodness we have a weekend coming up!

Now that the house hunting and the big move are over, I hope to get settled into my writing routine again.  I just need to find a place to work in this house.  The one thing it's missing is a writing room for me.  But it's big enough I'm sure I can find myself a wee nook somewhere.

What are you celebrating this week?