Reading — July and August

  1. Adler, Elizabeth.  A Place in the Country (St. Martin’s Press)
  2. Bantwal, Shobhan. The Sari Shop Widow (Kensington Books)
  3. Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta.  Pirate Princess (Harper)
  4. Brockman, Suzanne.  Out of Control (Ballantine Books)
  5. Dolamore, Jaclyn.  Between the Sea and Sky (Bloomsbury)
  6. Ernst, Lisa Campbell.  Sylvia Jean, Scout Supreme (Dutton Children’s Books)
  7. Foster, Sara.  Beneath the Shadows
  8. Goldberg, Lee.  Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop.
  9. Grahame-Smith, Seth.  Unholy Night.  (Grand Central Publishing)
  10. Healey, Karen.  The Shattering (Little Brown)
  11. Klise, Kate and M. Sarah Klise.  Stand Straight Ella Kate (Dial Books for Young Readers)
  12. Knowles, Jo.  See You at Harry’s
  13. Lawrence, Caroline.  The Case of the Deadly Desperados (G.P. Putnams)
  14. Leedy, Loreen.  Seeing Symmetry (Holiday House)
  15. Matson, Mogan.  Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour (Simon and Schuster)
  16. Marzollo, Jean.  Pierre the Penguin, A True Story (Sleeping Bear Press)
  17. Messner, Kate.  Eye of the Storm 
  18. Murray, Alison.  Apple Pie ABC  (Disney, Hyperion Books)
  19. Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Jean Laffite: The Pirate who Saved America  (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
  20. Singh, Nalani, Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook and Sharon Shinn.  Angels of Darkness (Berkley Sensation)
  21. Winkler, Henry and Lin Oliver.  Ghost Buddy Series:  Zero to Hero (Scholastic Press)

Somehow, I think I missed one or two but that’s the bulk of what I read in July and August.  What did I learn?

Being strange for the sake of being strange doesn’t do much for the reader.  I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy lately and it seems like some authors just throw in as much bizarre as possible.  Nothing is as it seems and “reality” shifts without a moments notice.  Yes, you can surprise me.  That’s good.  I don’t want to see everything coming from away off in the distance.  But if you have X, Y and Z strange things in your story, you had better make them important.  Or else.

You can still take me someplace new.  This doesn’t mean that everything has to be ho hum familiar.  I’ll read translations and other novels set overseas.  I love to be pulled into these worlds and all of the unfamiliar details, but that’s because the author give me enough that is familiar to serve as an anchor. This includes fantasy retellings of familiar stories.  I love to see how the author takes the facts (what is familiar) and twists it into something ultimately new and different.

Make your rhyme spot on.  If you can’t do this, prose is the way to go.  I repeat.  Write prose.

I don’t have to love your character, but I have to care about their situation.   Not every protagonist is a dream come true.  In fact, with some of them, I’m really happy that I don’t know these people.  But if I’m not going to adore your character, make him or her sympathetic in some way.  Make their goal something with which I can identify.  Threaten them with something that makes me want to stick up for them.

What amazing books have you read over the last few weeks?


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