Book Review: The Edge of Nowhere

In October I was approached and asked if I would like to do a book review for a fellow author. Um, yes please.

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On sale, January 19, 2016 by Penner Publishing

 

The Edge of Nowhere is historical fiction takes place during the Great Depression in Central Oklahoma and ties in the events that took place on April 14, 1935.

Let me digress a moment to say that back in the day, when I was in elementary school we learned about the Dust Bowl of course and the tragedy that was happening in the great plains but it wasn’t until I read The Edge of Nowhere that I really got a good idea of just all that went on. The poverty. A dust cloud so thick that it engulfs everything in its path leaving a nasty layering of red dirt in its wake.

C.H. Armstrong also does a great job of tying in what life was like for the affluent population during this time as well which is something I always find interesting in not only books and general reading but in history as well. Most of the time we hear one side of the story, but not always the other. Sure there were a lot of farmers losing their land at this time-but what about the people that weren’t?

And that’s only part of it. The first 20% of the book left me gasping out loud left and right. As I read in bed (one of those instances where I told myself I would put it down after the next chapter, well past my bedtime) my husband began asking me what was wrong as I began to shake my head in disbelief.

But I think the biggest takeaway I got from this book, and now I’m upset I didn’t start with that is that Victoria, the protagonist is such a strong,independent lady. I love it. I need more of it. I don’t see it enough in books.

The book opens with taking back to 1992 Victoria as a grandmother writing to her grandchildren that they’ve misunderstood her. She’s not just the mean, crotchety old women they think she is. And then she tells us why. Insert: tragedy, tragedy, tragedy. But throughout the entire book, Victoria’s spirit is never broken and she drives on as she always had before. She doesn’t know how to go on any other way then to just go on.

It was so refreshing to read about such a strong, female character. Most of the time in books we read these characters and they falter and sometimes lose values in the shuffle, but this was not the case and I think a lot of it may have been due to this being published under an indie publishing house. I kept thinking to myself as I read, “this would never happen in traditional publishing.” Which is what makes indie publishing so great. So much more freedom and the storylines you can’t get anywhere else. Thinking back to all the indie published books I read this year, they were all so different, each one from the next and as different as those were from one another they were all completely different from anything being put out by a traditional publishing house. But I digress.

The Edge of Nowhere is a great, fun read that will keep you up all night and have you at the edge of your seat all day.

 

Best Reads of 2015

Per my Goodreads account, as of December, 21st I had read 47 unique titles (I had since finished out 2015 with a count of 50). Unfortunately, while this list includes books I started but did not finish (we can’t all be winners), Goodreads has yet to somehow effectively add in any re-reads that were done over the year. You can mark how many times you’ve read a book but it only shows up on your read shelf 1x. This year I read Ready Player One 2x and I listened to Eleanor and Park on audiobook (I read it for the first time in 2014) Continue reading

Book Review: Colin Beavan’s How To Be Alive

I watched the documentary No Impact Man when it was out on Netflix a few years ago. The idea of living a no-waste lifestyle intrigued me and was an area in life I knew I could improve on as well.

Fast forward a few years and Colin Beavan is back. This time with a new book (and free supplemental workbook) called How To Be Alive. The concept is simple: we as a society have been letting society run our lives for us and in return, we are more or less going through the motions of life rather than truly living our life to its fullest.

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Currently

So many reads, so little time.

 

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I usually have about 5 books on my ‘currently reading’ shelf on Goodreads, but I think I’m up to ten now. The rest that I haven’t listed have been on for more than a year (tbh I’ve been reading The Smartest Kids in the World for over a year, but more on that in a bit).

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The first two on the list are reads for upcoming reviews. The Edge of Nowhere (out January 19, 2016) will be reviewed here, on this blog on January 18th. The author, C. H. Armstrong is a local writer from Oklahoma and I’m super excited to collaborate with her. Ladies helping ladies, amiright? 💁

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The second book is a review for the San Fransisco Book Review that I’ve been reviewing for. Sometimes these reviews also pop up on Manhattan Book Review.

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The Clasp I’m actually listening to on audiobook. Lately when I run I prefer to listen to books to keep my mind occupied and not focused on the how much I hate myself for making myself run and by doing so I’ve listened to quite a few books this fall by running.

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Harper Collins reached out to me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing How to be Alive. Keep an eye out for that review on the blog in a few weeks as well. Date, TBD.

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A Little Life was actually my only pleasure read on the list. Which is sadly now kind of being pushed back even more. I suppose The Clasp is a pleasure read too. Maybe I’ll just have to listen to A Little Life on audiobook if I want to read it. It seems to be all my free reading has been via audio lately.

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Lastly, The Smartest Kids in the World I actually began reading in November of 2014. Work got in the way and while it was super interesting I had to put it down. But now as luck would have it I’ve been assigned to read it for work.

 

Ode to my Running Shoes

February of 2013 I decided to take up running. I was still working with the iPhone 3gs (don’t worry, I have since upgraded to the 4s which still works great and I will be DEVASTATED when it dies) and my data plan, or lack there of didn’t provide me with the ability to gps my runs (it still doesn’t, btw)  so I began running using the C25K running program in a very 90s fashion. With the intervals I needed to do written on my hand and a Timex watch in timer mode to monitor my time. It worked great.


Back in the saddle. Beautiful morning for a run.

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I was still using my Adidas (I think) shoes that I had bought in 2008 to use half heartedly at OU’s gym. So when I signed up for my first 5k run at the end of April that year, it was time to get some new kicks. Also, maybe some shoes that were meant for running? Also, this was right after that barefoot running boom and all these articles were coming out about how maybe barefoot running it’s the best for our foot health? And because I was on a budget and not really sure what I was going for/needing, I went to TJ Maxx and found these:

It's been a good 2.5 years. Time to upgrade. #running #5klife #c25k #c210k

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They worked great. And have since used them to run 2 Color runs, 3 more 5ks (including a lag in the OKC marathon) I wish I knew how many miles I racked up on them but the Walgreens app I was using updated it’s program and dumped all of it’s old info and then from Oct 2014-Aug 2015 I just didn’t keep track. But I began to use Map My Run for the first time in Sept and have since ran 60 miles with them. Also, my feet are starting to hurt when I run. It’s time to upgrade:

Coming to me soon, via UPS.

Since I began taking running (seriously) again I downloaded the c210k app and hopes to perhaps, one day do a 10k. I’ve been taking it slower this time around. Doing a run and then the next time turning that run into a HIIT session. So we’ll see. There’s a 5k coming up on my birthday I’d like to run and I’ve always wanted to do one of those Running into the New Year runs. Because all runs should end with drinking champagne.

And So It Goes

A quick recap of the last couple of months in no order:

It was summertime. There was a lot of beer drank and books that were read:

Solo Saturday. Books & brews. #squadgoals #instabook #bookstagram

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Champs:

#brunch #mimosabar

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Best book I read this summer:

Finally got my hands on this bad boy! #amreading #bookstagram #instabook

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Vacation mode in Charlestown, MA:

I miss this.

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Also:
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I’ve begun reviewing books for the San Fransisco Book Review. Reviews will be published online as well as in either the Tulsa Book Review, SFBR or Manhattan Book Review physical publications. The books are a mixture of traditional, small and indie published books and I’ve read a nice eclectic pile of different storylines. Some better than others but most with plots that I have’t read before in YA. Which makes me wonder, do people often die in YA books?

In other news:
I’ve had adequate time to digest that summer atrocity I read this summer and I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t even review it. Harper Collins completely mismarketed the book and it should only be read as a study in how an editor can take a first draft and turn it into something amazing. Looking for any actual insight in the storyline is like…searching for meaning in a Pauley Shore movie.
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-BUT-
The real question is, did I reach my summer goal?
Yes, I did. And it actually ended up going really well. I had a schedule and stuck with it (for the most part) but I finished editing before our vacation to Boston and had the last week or so before I returned to work free. I found that editing 2-3 chapters a day worked really well for me and once I moved it up to 4 chapters at a time in one sitting I began to slack.

Now, the question is: how are rewrites going? Answer: Not well. Not well at all. As of now I’m right here:

Rewriting is hard. Before I thought it was facing the rubbish I wrote in the first draft but after I got over that and marked it all up, it’s the going back and trying to reword it into something acceptable that’s the kicker. As of right now, I don’t have a plan of action or a goal. Maybe in November when NaNoWriMo comes up again. Then again it is football season coming up again (the bane of my existence) and while I can’t stand this goddamned sports season it does provide for me quiet Saturdays of self-reflection where I can get some real work done.

So Many Feels

Go Set a WatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Don’t push her. Let her go at her own speed. Push her and every mule in the county’d be easier to live with.”
― Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

The most complicated book I have read. I need a panel of professionals (readers, writers, publishers) set up to discuss this and take audience questions.

Many things I noticed and stood out to me in the book aren’t being mentioned at all and I’m just so confused.

Can we talk about JL’s lack of character growth? Or why she chose what she did in the end and how do we feel about that? Was that typical and expected at the time? Now I’m just sitting here all:

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What I’m Learning

“Forgiveness. The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life. Every time I have set out to translate the book (or story, or hopelessly long essay) that exists in such brilliant detail on the big screen of my limbic system onto a piece of paper (which, let’s face it, was once a towering tree crowned with leaves and a home to birds). I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.”
Ann Patchett, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

This Summer

Because of my summer goals I will not be taking the time out of my schedule to update the blog. I will however be updating Instagram and Twitter on my editing progress/journey so feel free to reach out to me there and follow and connect!

Maybe now I'll get some editing done?? #amwriting #amediting #summergoal

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Continue reading

Let’s Talk About This

The other night I had a dream. I was suppose to get on a plane with the rest of my family to go on vacation, only I couldn’t find my passport. I was embarassed and irritated and ended up canceling my ticket only to find my passport in my pure minutes later where I had to pay for a brand new ticket.

I read a lot. Like, an awful lot. And I care about books and want to talk about that with everyone I meet. But there’s something else too. I write. And I don’t talk about it a lot. The only way I can justify that is how when singer/songwriters say they write a song and it’s so personal and bla bla bla-that’s how I feel about my writing. Like it’s the inner most parts of myself and to do anything with it is not only scary, it’s terrifying. What if nobody likes it, what if it doesn’t resinate with anybody, what if it was all for nothing??

That’s the biggest hurdle that I’ve been struggling with, and for years now. Since 2010 I’ve written at least 4 manuscripts and out of those 4 I’ve edited zero of them. Part of the problem was I couldn’t face myself and the fear. I don’t fear a lot of things but this is something I’ve been struggling with for years.

Also, I’m a creature of habit. I like a process. Written rules. But the thing with writing is, there are no rules. There are all these posts and articles about do this do that and then when it comes down to it, the reality of everything is every writer has their own organic path they create and not one system or path is for everyone.  So it’s like you take all of the rules and throw them out the window and just go blindly out there.

But this summer that’s going to change. So today I went and printed my 2 most recent manuscripts. Afterwards I realized if I were to put a price on it these two puppies would be worth approximately 40 dollars. So that’s great.

I’ve spent I don’t know how many months scouring the internet trying to find the best way to go about editing. If I were to be honest I’d love to just send this out, get some edits on it and go from there. But ugh, I know better.
 When I woke up I looked up on my trusty dream website (dreammoods.com) all the key elements of my dream. Family. Airports. Airplanes. Travel. It wasn’t until later as I was doing chores around the house that I realized my ‘missing’ passport that was there the whole time is the same struggle I’ve been having with my writing. Everything I need to do my writing and edits have been there the entire time, and I have got to stop looking around like something is missing.