Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in # 2

There can never be too many books!

There can never be too many books!

Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in

Greetings Readers!

It’s time for a check-in on my reading progress for Erin’s Book Challenge that runs July 1 to October 31.

Here’s what I’ve read since last time:

Death Is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter

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For the five word title category, I enjoyed revisiting the lives of Morris and Lewis in Death Is Now My Neighbor as they investigate a murder on the Oxford campus with professorial connections. The lives of scholarly educators are perhaps darker than we think!

Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters

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I read Tomb of the Golden Bird for the category “a place I’ve always wanted to visit.” For me, that place was the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. When I first became interested in writing, I wrote a very bad story (I was eight years old at the time) about two explorers who get lost, meet, then fall instantly in love in a pharaoh’s tomb. Okay, gag me now.

A pharaoh’s tomb promised magic and mystery. Later, when I lived in London and visited the British Museum, I lost some of that dreamy-eyed wonder and became, in fact, a little creeped out by the entire floor dedicated to Egyptian artifacts, mummies, and sarcophagi. No, I wasn’t creeped out by the mummies, which I found fascinating. But I found myself wondering why these beautiful, precious items were in England rather than in Egypt. I’m going to be a little perverse here and even wonder how the tomb’s inhabitants would view excavation. What if they really needed those things in the afterlife?

Tomb of the Golden Bird details Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb. I remember going to the exhibition in San Francisco in 1979, waiting in a tent for my group number to be called. What an amazing array of art and craft was there! Author Elizabeth Peters does a good job of including historical facts and information about the artifacts. For instance, I had no idea that Howard Carter and company were suspected of underhanded dealings and even some possible thefts. In addition, Peters gives the reader a real sense of day-to-day life as well as the cultural shift beginning in the 1920’s with new freedoms for women and the rising influence of the Egyptian nationalist movement.

The novel itself was less successful. The series characters were not allowed to be involved in excavation, so all their activities were peripheral as well as confusing and a little boring. The characters were running to and fro chasing documents and looking for conspiracies–much of it, in the end, coming to nothing.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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At first, I couldn’t figure out why this was in the music category. But after reading, I understand. There are many instances of music setting the mood in this book. Playlists also take prominence and really bring the reader back to the era of playlist themes and burning CD’s as gifts. I remember my kids doing this in high school. Creating a playlist was a big part of a birthday celebration.

I loved this movie, and I love the book, too. The protagonist is completely endearing as he struggles to navigate the treacherous and confusing waters of high school. One complaint: The author does use the verb to cry a bit too much. A writing teacher once said to me, “Don’t make your characters cry; instead, make your reader cry.” That quibble aside, I highly recommend both book and movie.

Here’s what’s in the hopper for next time:

1. Reading during my work break Night Film by Marisha Pessl

2. Reading at bedtime Ruined by Paula Morris

3. Listening to True Detectives by Jonathan Kellerman (this one is not part of the challenge)

Anyone else doing a book challenge right now? Do tell! I’d love to hear.

Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in

There can never be too many books!

There can never be too many books!

Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in

Greetings Readers!

It’s time for a check-in on my reading progress for Erin’s Book Challenge that runs July 1 to October 31. Here’s what I’ve read so far.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness in the “Book into Movie” Category.

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Finished this in one night. A Monster Calls was an incredible and thought-provoking coming of age novel exploring a teen’s struggle with his mother’s life-threatening illness. I could see this used in a high school psych course. Not for the faint of heart, however.

Here is the trailer for A Monster Calls. What do you think? To me, the monster of the movie trailer looks more like a friendly giant than the menacing id of Ness’s novel. I remember when A Bridge to Terabithia was turned into a movie. A similar thing happened. The movie focused on the fantasy creatures and special effects, which were only peripheral aspects of Paterson’s soulful coming of age novel.

In the “Blue Cover” category, The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

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I had a wonderful time spending time with this lovelorn hypnotist and her quest for marriage and family, complicated by her new boyfriend’s struggles with a stalker. There were laugh out loud moments interspersed with all the joys and setbacks of new love. I even learned some stuff about hypnotism therapy. This protagonist is definitely not the amateur sister-in-law of Matheson’s Stir of Echoes.

Moriarty is now one of my favorite authors in the Women’s Fiction genre. My other favorite books of hers are What Alice Forgot (very funny) and Big Little Lies (a must-read for every parent and teacher).

What’s next for me in Erin’s book challenge:

1. Started listening to Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters

2. Reading during my work break Night Film by Marisha Pessl

3. Reading at bedtime Death Is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter

Anyone else doing a book challenge right now? Do tell! I’d love to hear.

 

Writerly Wednesday with Tasha

image flickr creative commons via photopin

image flickr creative commons via photopin

Writerly Wednesday with Tasha Duncan-Drake

Today I’m having a hanging out with the incomparable Tasha Duncan-Drake, prolific author and co-founder of Wittegenpress. She graciously hosted me for a joint discussion on a Korean ghost film called Tale of Two Sisters from Director Kim Jee-woon.

I first met Tasha through Blogging A to Z when we were happy to discover we both loved ghost film and fiction. I had a great time doing Blogging A to Z this year and met interesting people. I recommend joining up next year if you’re a blogger.

Anyhow, please hop on over to Tasha’s blog to see what we have to say about the ghostly Tale of Two Sisters (and, naturally, while you’re there, you’ll want to sign up for Tasha’s Thinkings.)

Erin’s book challenge

There can never be too many books!

There can never be too many books!

Erin’s Book Challenge

I’m now surfacing at Pen In Her Hand after two months of pretty intensive writing, including Blogging A to Z (thank you for hanging in with those 30 blog posts!) and online seminars. Later this month I’ve scheduled a conversation with the incomparable Tasha Duncan-Drake to discuss a Korean ghost movie called A Tale of Two Sisters, so watch for that.

For now I’m catching up on writing and marketing tasks. I never even mentioned I released a new book 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die, which is a work of love–an anthology of my musings and reviews of favorite ghost novels. There’s a ghost novel in there for everyone, so step right up. Don’t be shy. An official kick-off is forthcoming.

In the meantime, I came across an intriguing book challenge by Erin over on Facebook. I’d been thinking of joining a reading challenge for a couple of years but never found the right one. I happened upon Erin’s site through one of the dozen blogs I read during the Blogging A to Z challenge and found myself hooked.

If you’ve ever thought of doing a reading group, you may want to check this one out. Below are the categories and my choices for each.

• 5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

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My choice: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

I really enjoyed Marisha Pessl’s novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which I think I first picked up just for that cool title.

• 10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “R”.

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 My choice: Ruined by Paula Morris

A ghost novel! Who’d have guessed I’d be drawn to this one?

• 10 points: Read a book with five words in the title.

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My choice: Death Is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter

• 15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) blue cover.

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My choice: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

I’ve heard mixed reviews on this one from people like me who loved Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot. I’m holding my breath, but I picked this up at the White Elephant Sale, so it was handy.

• 20 points: Read a book with twins as characters.

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My choice: Minty by Christina Banach.

I mean, young adult narrator…plus a ghost. What’s not to love?

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My choice: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

• 25 points: Read a book set in a country you have always wanted to visit.

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My choice: Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters

True confession time: When I penciled my first story at the tender age of ten, I wrote about two people lost in a pyramid who bumped into each other and fell madly in love. Cringe-worthy stuff, I promise you, but in honor of that intrepid little writer, I bring you a novel of Egypt.
• 30 points: Read a historical fiction book.

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My choice: Everlasting Empire by Yi In-Hwa

I decided I wanted to read a novel set in the Joseon era (the same era of Moonlight Dancer) though this one takes place in 1800 rather than in the late 1600’s. The Joseon dynasty was a long one, headed by the Yi family. Perhaps the author is a distant relative.
• 30 points: Read a music related book.

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My choice: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I really enjoyed this movie, so hopefully the book will be as good.
• 35 points: Read a book originally published over 100 years ago.

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My choice: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

There you have it–the categories and my choices. I’d love for you to join me. There’s still oodles of time to participate as the event doesn’t begin until July 1.

Have you ever joined a book challenge? What was your experience? Are you tempted by the Book Challenge by Erin?