ROW80 Sunday Check-in with Random Thoughts

Posted in Event, Writing at 10:58 am by Amber

Happy Sunday!

My goal for Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days is to write another 10,000 words on my unfinished fantasy manuscript. That averages to 125 words a day. I’ve written nothing new this month. There are about 7 weeks until the end of this round. I’m going to have to get my behind in gear if I’m going to make my goal. Yeah, I know I can modify it – but I want to finish this original goal. I plan on doing Round 4 and I have a completely different goal in mind for those 80 days.

Goal: 10,000 Words
Words Written: 1204
Progress: Behind But Can Still Catch Up

Here are some random thoughts for the week:

  • The last few months I’ve been watching The Wire. I noticed George Pelecanos worked on it. (I read last year.) When I saw him in an interview at the Museum of the Moving Image I was surprised at how young he was. At that time he was in his late 40’s and I expected him to be older because he’s worked on so much.
  • Since Tuesday I’ve been fighting off sinus problems. I haven’t had such pressure behind my nose in years. Things have been better the last few days.
  • I haven’t wanted to touch the computer this week. I think this explains why I didn’t do check-ins for last Sunday or Wednesday.

How are you doing on your ROW80 or writing goal?


ROW80 Midweek Check-in August 3rd and Procrastination

Posted in Event, Writing at 8:13 pm by Amber

ROW80 Logo

Happy Wednesday!

My goal for Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days is to write another 10,000 words on my unfinished fantasy manuscript. That averages to 125 words a day. I’ve written nothing new this month.

Goal: 10,000 Words
Words Written: 1204
Progress: Behind But Can Still Catch Up

What are your favorite ways to procrastinate from writing? I found myself with a free evening last night. I even told my husband I was going to write.

Instead, I spent time on my desktop (it’s older and needs some more memory so it takes a long time to do stuff on it). Let’s count the ways in which I procrastinated:

  1. Downloaded pictures from my digital camera.
  2. Listened to old favorites on iTunes and listened to samples of new music.
  3. Updated Quicken.
  4. Emailed all of the recognizable ebook files to be added to my Kindle.
  5. Synched up my smart phone.
  6. Charged and synched up my mini iPod.
  7. Added the ebook titles into my LibraryThing collection.
  8. Updated my Niteblade interview spreadsheet.

Four hours gone and not a written word. And I still had things I could do to procrastinate. I guess I’ll do them in a few days. How are you doing on your ROW80 or writing goal?


The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Posted in Event, Review at 12:01 am by Amber

Title: The Invisible Bridge
Author: Julie Orringer
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Source: Columbus Metropolitan Library

The Invisible Bridge Book Cover

I enjoyed Julie Orringer’s short story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, so thought I would enjoy her debut novel as well.  The book flap described The Invisible Bridge as the epic tale of three brothers and for a long time I wondered when the other brothers would enter the story.  For a hundred pages or so I waited for alternating view points about each Levi brother.  It didn’t happen and once I set aside that expectation I came to enjoy it.

This could easily be made into a mini-series and if ever made into a movie would be very condensed.  Andras Levi, the middle brother, receives a scholarship that allows him to leave Hungary to attend architecture school in Paris, France.  It is 1937.  He is full of hope for his future not knowing World War II is around the corner.

Two things that make this novel about the Holocaust unique is (1) it’s about the Hungarian Jew experience and (2) it takes a look at what happened to homosexual Jews (although it’s only a small portion of the novel).  Orringer’s tale addresses the entire Hungarian Jew experience – rich, poor, country, city, pre-war and post-war. 

The character arcs are truly remarkable.  It’s easy to tell a lot of hard work and research went into the novel.  Read this one when you have a bit of extra time on your hands and don’t have to rush through it.


2010 EW Summer Books Challenge

Posted in Event at 12:41 am by Amber


2010 EW Summer Books Challenge

Booking Mama is hosting a 2010 EW Summer Books Challenge through Labor Day and I’ve decided to participate.  Several of the books I’ve been looking forward to reading are on the Entertainment Weekly’s list of books they can’t wait to read this summer. 

Since I’m not doing a summer reading club this year I thought this would be fun.  I’m shooting for the Polliwog level of the challenge which is 1 – 3 books.  I already have one in my possession and another has been preordered.

Come join me and the others!


A Good Year by Peter Mayle

Posted in Event, Review at 10:36 pm by Amber

This was my final book for the Lit Flicks Challenge and I only had a few days to get it read.  I can read some books rather quickly but the way this started didn’t give me much hope.  It was an entertaining read, though.

Previously, I’d read A Year in Provence by Mayle and was positively charmed.  His writing proved the region the tourists experience is not the same as the region inhabited by the locals.  This was a memoir.

A Good Year is a fiction novel about an Englishman named Max who quits his job and finds out he’s inherited the French chateau of his uncle on the same day.  It appears to be the answer to his money problems – move to France and own a winery.  However, a few wrinkles come up that makes fulfilling the plan less straight forward than initially thought.

In the beginning I found the writing regarding actions annoying.  It was like reading overly detailed directions for a movie script.  About Chapter Five or Six is when the action flowed more naturally.  It may be because there were many more characters at this point.  Or it could be because Max was established as being more at home at the chateau than in London.  Not long after those chapters is when the winery intrigue picks up.

The movie version was released a few years ago with Russell Crowe in the role of Max.  I suspect the movie focuses more Max giving up the hustle and bustle of high finance in London and learning to appreciate the slower pace of Provence.  While I had no interest in seeing the movie I’m now slightly intrigued.

Lit Flicks Challenge Completed

Posted in Event at 11:48 am by Amber


I’ve now completed my first reading challenge.  This helped me get some of my TBR books into my read pile which is always good.  It was fun reading the reviews of books and movies I’d already read and seen.  Even more fun was finding out about titles that were new to me.

Here were the rules:
1. Challenge runs from September 1, 2008 to February 28, 2009.
2. Read 5 books/pieces of literature that have been made into movies.
3. Then watch at least 2 of the movie adaptations of the works you read.
4. Your list may change at any time and may include overlaps with other challenges.

Here is my final list of books read for the challenge.  Click on the name of the book in the list to see the review.  The movies I saw were Twilight and The Good German.

1. The Good German
2. Devil In a Blue Dress
3. A Good Year
4. Twilight
5. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
6. The Jane Austen Book Club (Bonus book)


Lit Flicks Challenge Update – Only a Few Days Left!

Posted in Event at 8:08 pm by Amber


I may be cutting it close!  I have one book from my list left to read and there are only a few more days left in the month.

  1. The Good German
  2. Devil In a Blue Dress
  3. A Good Year
  4. Twilight
  5. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
  6. (Bonus) The Jane Austen Book Club


Devil In A Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

Posted in Event, Review at 1:14 pm by Amber


For a long time I stayed away from this book.  When it comes to series I am a completest – it doesn’t feel right to me to read a book out of order in a series and I mistakenly believed this was not the first Easy Rawlins book.  The Lit Flicks challenge made me look up the series and helped me get rid of a book that’s been in my To Be Read pile for years.

This detective novel is not for the faint of heart.  Murders, incest, pedophilia, racism and police brutality all find their way into the life of Easy Rawlins after he’s let go from his job at Champion Aircraft.  Easy is a veteran of World War II living in Los Angeles in 1948.  He’s got a mortgage to pay on a house he loves with no new source of income in sight.  An acquaintance of a friend asks him to locate a specific pretty young woman who was proving difficult to find. 

While parts of Easy’s world are violent, Mosley doesn’t shove that violence into the reader’s face.  Easy knows the status quo – he’s seen and heard a lot things even if he hasn’t experienced them firsthand – and this lets him wiggle off the hook when necessary or look the other way until something can be done about the injustice.

The writing is tight.  Characters that seem like they’re only there for color reappear when least expected.  No holes are left when the reader discovers who did what.  Cultural and character back story are given without reading like information dumps.  This won’t be the last work of Mosley’s I’ll read.  I only regret it took me this long to get around to it.


Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon

Posted in Event, Review at 11:54 pm by Amber

This book was made into a movie starring Lindsay Lohan, Alison Pill and Megan Fox.  Though I did not watch the movie as part of the Lit Flicks Challenge I can see how the novel could easily be adapted. 

Many Young Adult novels follow a formula.  In one, the main character gets into an impossible situation of his/her own doing, makes more mistakes and learns a lesson in the end.  Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen strays from this formula but not by much.

Mary Elizabeth Cep (who insists on being called Lola) is forced to move from New York city to Dellwood, New Jersey by her mother.  Her mother and little sisters call her Drama Queen due to her propensity to always be in character.  As the new girl at Dellwood High School, she tries to keep the other students guessing about her personality.  She even lies to her best friend, Ella, to make herself more interesting. 

When it’s time for the drama class to hold a production of Pygmalion, Lola is confident she will get the lead part.  After all, she has perfected a Cockney accent.  Carla Santini, the most popular girl in school, wants the same role.  Most of the book is about the battle of Lola and Carla to be reigning queen of the drama department. 

The ending offers resolutions to many of the storylines but is unsatisfying.  In fact, I checked out another copy of the book from the library on the suspicion that the last five or six pages were missing from the first book.  Nope.  They both ended the same.


Lit Flicks Challenge Update

Posted in Event at 10:45 pm by Amber


Here is my initial list of novels for the challenge:

  1. The Good German
  2. Devil In a Blue Dress
  3. A Good Year
  4. The Name of The Rose
  5. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

My updated list looks like this:

  1. The Good German
  2. Devil In a Blue Dress
  3. A Good Year
  4. Twilight
  5. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (review forthcoming)
  6. (Bonus) The Jane Austen Book Club

My list hasn’t changed much since the challenge began.  I suppose that means I picked well.  In November I didn’t read anything at all so I wouldn’t accidently pick up plots or phrases while working on my novel for NaNoWriMo.

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