Friday, April 15, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 20

Okay, so I'm not exactly getting this thing done in 30 days. It's not even close. The important thing is that I'm still plugging along -- right?

Day 20's prompt is: Favorite Kiss.

Which is probably why I've procrastinated posting for so long. Favorite kiss in a book? I can't answer this one. I don't think I actually remember a single kiss from a single book in which there actually was a kiss. Kisses are usually so similar, so ordinary, so forgettable. I can barely remember character names from most of the books I read. I've tried and tried and tried to remember a single kiss from any book, but I honestly can't. I can remember a few on-screen kisses from TV and movies, but books? Nah.

I wonder why that is.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If you're a dog lover, this will touch your heart. If you're not a dog lover, this will still touch your heart. I saw this on someone else's site and just had to share.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 18 & 19

Okay, I'm cheating. I know that. But the prompt for Day 18 is: Favorite beginning scene in a book. I don't even know how to respond to that. Maybe I have a really bad memory, but I don't remember details like that. My ex-husband remembered in great detail every single childhood disease our oldest daughter had. I could barely remember if she had measles or mumps. With very few exceptions, I don't retain character names from books I've read either. 

So my favorite opening scene? ........ blank ........ 


Day 19 - Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Still not easy. I'm seriously wondering why I decided to take on this challenge -- as evidenced by the number of days that have gone by since I last posted a response to a meme prompt. But ... sigh ... I said I'd do it, and by gum! I'm gonna. So my favorite book cover.  

Cricket. Cricket. 

 I'm going to go with this one -- or any cover that looks anything like this one. Put a couple of Adirondack chairs in any location that looks out over any body of water-- stream, river, pond, lake, ocean, they're all good -- and I'm hooked. Mackinac chairs work almost as well. Beach chairs, not so much. Folding canvas chairs? Nah. I appreciate the folding canvas chair immensely. Don't get me wrong. Especially the drink holder apparatus. But for visual effect, it loses everything in the translation. 

A single chair--if it's the right chair--can work almost as well. I have a healthy appreciation for the healing properties of solitude, if used correctly and applied in the right situations. Don't you think?  It looks like the perfect place to ponder the oddities of life. Put a good book on that chair, and I'd knock my best friend down trying to get myself into it--especially if that book had a really great Adirondack chair on the cover.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Foodie Friday: New Orleans Style Pralines

Free Clipart Images

A recipe guaranteed to get you into the carnival spirit! 

New Orleans Style Pralines

Prep Time: 25 minutes


1 quart heavy cream
3 cups sugar
1-1/2 pounds chopped pecans (approx 6 cups)
juice of 1 lemon


In a heavy saucepan slowly simmer cream and sugar over low heat until the mixture becomes golden brown in color and reaches the soft-ball stage (234 degrees F. on candy thermometer).

Add pecans and lemon juice and continue to cook until the soft-ball stage is reached again. Drop from a large kitchen spoon onto an oiled baking sheet.

Spread each mound out with the back of a spoon until they're about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick. (Adjust to taste. Some people like them thin and some people like them thicker.)

Let candy harden, then lift from plate or slab with a spatula and transfer into covered tin.

Pralines will keep in airtight container for for 2 weeks at room temperature -- that is, if they last that long.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday's Top Ten: Top Ten Favorite Quotes

Thursday's Top Ten - 
What are your Top Ten favorite quotes?

1. "Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right." Henry Ford
This is so true, and I've seen it in action many, many times. I've watched talented writers fall off the grid because they believe they can't write. I've seen less talented writers rise to the top because they believe they can. I've seen it happen time and again in other aspects of life, too. We are all too often our own worst enemies.
2. "Change your thoughts and you change your world." Norman Vincent Peale
This one goes hand-in-hand with the first quote. Our minds are amazingly powerful. Our thoughts and beliefs create our reality.
3. "Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. " Voltaire
4. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." Nelson Mandela
5. "You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure about you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. " Marianne Williamson
How often I see people--especially women--downplaying their successes in order to come across as non-threatening. How often I do it myself.
6. "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams
Truth is truth, no matter how we may feel about it. We cannot make a thing untrue simply by wanting it to be false. Neither can we make a thing true simply by force of will.
7. "A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read. " Mark Twain
8. "Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure." George Edward Woodberry
9. "Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other." Erma Bombeck
And finally, because it just cracks me up ....
10. "All right, then, I'll go to hell." Mark Twain

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 17

Day 17 - Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)

I'm really not a short-story reader. Not a novella reader either. I don't even like really short novels. You won't find a book that's only 50,000 words long on my bookshelf unless someone has given it to me for free. Whether or not I'll read it is kind of a crapshoot, depending on my mood.

So the only possible collection of stories I can list here are the Childcraft books that my parents bought when I was a kid. The set consisted of 15 volumes, and I loved them all, especially Volume 3, "Folk and Fairy Tales," which was filled with great stories that led me into a lifelong love of stories and the written word. My favorite story of all from that book was called "Tom Tit Tot," a retelling of the classic Rumplestilskin. To this day, if open one of the books I can hear my mother's voice as she read the stories to me.

I read them to my granddaughters now, and I love sharing these beloved stories from my childhood with them -- but even though I do my best, I have to admit I don't do the stories justice. Nobody read these stories better than my mother did.

For all those reasons, these books will always have a special place in my heart.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Raspberry Chocolate Heart Tart

A special treat for fans of the Candy Shop Mysteries on Valentine's Day. Candy may be Abby Shaw's first love, but nothing beats this quick and easy tart for making a good impression after a special meal. Enjoy!
Valentine's Day Raspberry Chocolate Heart Tart

1 purchased refrigerated pie pastry for 9-inch pie
1 cup (6 ounces) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups raspberries, rinsed and dried
Sifted powdered sugar

Place the pastry circle (plastic removed) on a lightly floured surface and roll out slightly. Trim small amount of pastry away to form heart shape.

Place the pastry heart on ungreased baking sheet. Turn edges under 1/2 inch; flute. Prick pastry with tines of fork.

Bake in preheated 425 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on baking sheet on wire rack.

Microwave chocolate morsels and sweetened condensed milk in a medium, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10-second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Stir in vanilla extract.

Spread mixture over crust and refrigerate for a few minutes or until chocolate is set.

Before serving, arrange raspberries over chocolate; sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Discovering Parks & Recreation

Let me begin by saying that I've never been a fan of Amy Poehler, so when my daughter encouraged me to give Poehler's new series, Parks and Recreation, a try, I was hesitant. I think I have a pretty good sense of humor, but I prefer intelligent humor to slapstick or physical comedy. Not that I don't find the occasional pratfall humorous. I'm not a comedy snob. But the universal appeal of fart jokes is lost on me.

Still, my kid's a pretty smart cookie, so if she liked it, I figured maybe I should give it a try. I don't like voicing my opinion about something when I know absolutely nothing about it. You'll never catch me marching on the library in an effort to ban a book just because somebody's mom got offended by it. So if I'm gonna tell my kid that I don't like her show, I have to watch it first.

The other day, while sitting with a couple of sick grand-kids, I queued up Season One on Daughter's Netflix account and dove in.

Have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. Poehler's character is actually pretty endearing, and the ensemble cast is great. I'll even admit to some laugh-out-loud moments in almost every episode. Having wound my way through the six episodes in season one, I queued up season two the next time I watched the kids.

Too many comedy series start off with a bang and then fizzle out. Some of my favorites have lost me after half a dozen episodes. I'll admit that I'm a little surprised that Parks and Recreation is getting better with age. The character development is extremely well done, changing my opinion of this character or that with something as subtle as a look. The humor is intelligent --most of the time -- but there are plenty of just plain silly moments, too.

I've seen about half of the second season, so if you're a fan of the show, please don't post any spoilers, but do share if there's a show you like that you thought you wouldn't!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 16

Day 16 of the 30-Day Book Meme asks me to list my favorite poem or collection of poetry. I'll confess that I don't read a lot of poetry. Not because I don't like it. I do. But because I don't have a lot of poetry collections lying around the house, I tend to forget about it until someone mentions it. Then I wonder why I don't read more poetry and vow to rectify that, and wander around full of good intentions for a few days.

So this question is actually pretty each for me to answer because only one poem came to mind when I read the question. 

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou. It is, hands down, the most powerful piece of poetry I've read in decades. Every word of it speaks directly to my heart. It's about a strong woman who knows exactly who she is. And she dares every woman on the planet to recognize just how incredible she is. 

And it is a dare. For many of us, it's far too easy to make ourselves small. To hide what makes us great and apologize for who we are. It's much easier to do that than to lift your chin and stride forward in boldness. 

As Marianne Williamson said in Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles," 1992:
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  
 And that's exactly what Maya Angelou challenges us--inspires us--to avoid in Phenomenal Woman. Writing this has inspired me to dig out my copy and place it beside my bed. This is a poem every woman should read on a regular basis. 

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Your Favorite Comfort Book

The 30-Day Book Meme, Day 15: Your "Comfort" Book. 

Do you have one? Just one? If you had to pick one Comfort Book, what would it be? 

I think I'm going to have to say So Big by Edna Ferber because (a) it's a book I've read more than once, and (b) it's a book I think about frequently, and (c) every time I think about it or read it, I think about my mother. 

Not because she resembles any of the characters in the book, but because this is one of the books she helped me pick out on my very first grown up trip to the library all those years ago. Which gives this book a special place in my heart. 

I'd tack on Edna Ferber's Giant for the same reasons. Good memories. The comfort of Mom on one of our best days together.

You can't get much better than that. 

So what about you? What's your favorite comfort book? I'd love to hear what's tops on your own list.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Who is Your Favorite Character in a Book?

This is getting hard. These daily topics are either too similar or too difficult to make this fun, but I did say I was going to do this and keeping my commitments is important to me. Even little, seemingly insignificant commitments. Commitments that don't matter to anyone else in the world.

So Day 14: Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)

Okay, first of all, any sex OR gender? Wow, that just opens up all sorts of possibilities.

This is a tough question for me. I have lots of favorite characters in books, all for different reasons. My reading tastes are varied. I don't read just one kind of book, so it's not like I can stroke my chin for a minute and say, oh, sure, Anne Tyler's Maggie Moran from Breathing Lessons. It has to be her. Or almost any one of Susan Howatch's characters. She brings every one of them so brilliantly to life, they're each my favorite when I'm reading from their point of view.

Maybe I should default to George Fayne from the Nancy Drew series. Nancy was swell, but George was my gal. I also loved George Harrison best of all the Beatles, but that's a topic for another day.

A sweep of my keeper shelf helps me narrow my search for Favorite Character of all Time down a bit. I have a few keepers on the shelf, including other books I've mentioned during this challenge, but some of my prize books (besides Nancy Drew, of course) are my collection of Agatha Christies. And that narrows down my options down considerably.

Marple or Poirot?

For me, it's gotta be the delightful Miss Jane Marple. She was sharp. She was an amateur. She solved complex crimes based only on her ability to notice things about people, and everyone underestimated her.

What about you? Who is your favorite character in a book? Of any sex OR gender? 

Friday, January 28, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 13

Day 13 - Favorite Childhood Book OR Current Favorite YA book (or both!)

Favorite childhood book. I've already talked about my love of the Nancy Drew mystery series, so I'm going to go with a book I loved when I was even younger. Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle. Oh, what a magical world the author created for me in this book and its companion, Raggedy Andy Stories.

I loved the idea of my toys coming to life when I wasn't around. Dancing and moving and playing and talking and eating and doing all the things I secretly knew they did, even before anyone told me. My dolls and toys were so real to me when I was little, and Johnny Gruelle understood that. 

I'd almost forgotten how much I loved the idea of my things coming to life until a few years ago when the movie Night at the Museum was released. The idea was slightly different, but I watched that movie eagerly, waiting for that same magical world Johnny Gruelle created for me years ago. 

I wonder if any adult experience can truly match a childhood memory. 

What do you think?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today's Challenge: Name the top 10 things you like to do in the winter. This might be easy for some of you, but it's really difficult for me because winter is not my favorite time of year. In fact, it's right there at the bottom of my list--which is one of the reasons I moved from Utah--where winter is a big thing (Greatest Snow on Earth!)--to Florida, where winter is just like summer, but a little cooler and a lot less humid.

Kind of like spring or fall used to be in my old life.

I was born in Utah, but moved to Montana when I was just 3 weeks old, which means that in my heart, Montana is home and Utah's sort of a step-home. But even though I was born, bred, and raised in states where snow rules, winter is lost on me. I've never enjoyed it and, in fact, every year I used to ask myself why I still lived in a state where snow covers the ground half the time and spring, summer and fall are entirely too short.

So what are the top 10 things I like to do in winter?

10. Walk the dog wearing just a t-shirt and jeans. I love the fact that in my new home state, I don't have to worry about slipping and sliding on the ice, falling down and hyper-extending my knee -- again.

9. Get in the car and drive without having to scrape snow and ice off the windows.

8.  Walk across parking lots without worrying about slipping on the ice.

7. Open my windows and let in the breeze coming off the Gulf.

6. Crochet. I love making new things for friends and family. I've gotten a bit behind lately, but here's my latest project--a baby blanket for good friends whose baby was born a few months ago. Now I'm working on an afghan for my niece's oldest son, promised to him so long ago he's probably forgotten all about it.

5. Watch people wearing down-filled vests and fur-lined boots when it's 60 degrees outside -- and then realize that after a year of living here, I'm becoming one of them!

4. Ride my bike. Because I can! 

3. Read. I love to do that all year round, so maybe it doesn't count. But even here there's something really nice about curling up with a book and a blanket and losing yourself for an hour or two.

2. Enjoy a nice, hot cup of cocoa, preferably while reading a good book, watching a good movie, or snuggling with a grandchild. Or all of the above :)

1. Go to the beach. Okay, it's a little nippy here some days, and you probably wouldn't want to go to the beach in your bikini and flip-flops, but you can go to the beach as long as you're bundled up appropriately (see #5 above).

Monday, January 24, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 12

Day 12 - A book or Series of Books You’ve Read More than Five Times: 

Hmmm. I'm not sure there is such a thing. I have a few keepers on my shelf, but I tend not to read books again unless I really, really love them. Really. Right now, I've listed 62 books on my "Favorites" shelf on but of all those books, I can't find a single one I've read five times. Penmarric and Cashelmara by Susan Howatch probably come closest with 3 times each. And my Agatha Christies. And Gone with the Wind. But though there are some books I really enjoyed on that list, most of them are one shots only. 
I've tried re-reading some old favorites, but that's ruined a few books for me. They were favorites at the time, but my reading tastes have changed and I didn't enjoy them the second time around. So now I'm kind of hesitant to take the chance. I like the memories I have. I don't want to ruin them with my current reality.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 11 A Book that Disappointed

Day 11 - A Book that Disappointed You:

Unfortunately, I have a lot of possibilities here, but I'm going to pick just one. Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene. I read this book for a book club several years ago. In theory, it sounded like a pretty good book club book. Turns out, it was a pretty good book club short story stuffed with a whole lot of filler. 

I had a really tough time getting all the way through it, simply because nothing happened. Or maybe I should say, the same thing kept happening over and over. Like I said, it would have been a nice, inspiring short story but a book? Not so much. 

How about you? Read any disappointing books lately? 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day #10

Day 10 - A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

This one's an easy answer for me. At the risk of being stoned by 90% of the romance-reading world, I'm going to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Nora Roberts' books. I am, on the other hand, a huge fan of Nora, herself. I love that she's forthright and pretty down-to-earth considering how rich and famous she is. But the books are too inconsistent for me. In fact, up to a certain time in my reading history, I'd never actually finished a book by Nora.

I'd tried. Oh, how I'd tried. Millions of readers can't be wrong, I told myself. Obviously, the woman delivers on many levels to not only win, but keep, so many fans for so long. But book after book ended up moving from my To-Be-Read stack to my Not-Gonna-Happen...Ever stack, and my confusion kept growing.

What was it about her books that kept readers shelling out so much money year in and year out? I just didn't get it. And worse, I began to feel a little bitter over her numerous RITA Award wins. I suspected that some judges automatically marked her books high just because of who she was. 

One year, in my role as judge for a published author contest, I received a box of books to judge and among them was Nora's Birthright. Eager to give the book the score I just knew it would deserve, I plunged in. And within just a few pages, I was hooked. I can't say that I was forever hooked on all of Nora's work, but I can say that I've since found several of her books that I not only finished reading, but liked a lot.

When she's good, she's very, very good.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 8 and/or 9

Day 08 - A book everyone should read at least once

Seriously? I think I've answered this question already, haven't I? David McCullough's JOHN ADAMS. Moving on. 

Day 09 - Best Scene Ever 

I don't think I can come up with a best scene ever. I'm not 16 anymore. There is no best ever of anything in my world, but there are lots of goods, a very few exceptionals, and way too may mediocres. So instead of the best scene ever, how about a scene that had a great impact on me?

A few years ago, like everyone else who was old enough to read at the time, I read The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. I loved the book, so I immediately picked up September when it came out. Didn't love it with quite the same fever pitch, but it was pretty good, so I picked up Winter Solstice when it came out -- but never got around to reading it. At least not for a very long time.

Flash Forward several years. I'm struggling through a personal crisis, and like a lot of people when they're in personal crisis, I was praying for answers, guidance, and help. A lot. One day I woke up and had the strong impression that I should leave the TV off. And the radio. And everything else that made noise. I spent the next 30 days in silence, doing what I felt prompted to do at any given time. I played the piano, cleaned my house, and I read. 

The first book I felt guided to read was Winter Solstice.

I started the book, but just couldn't get into it, so I put it down. A couple of days later, I again felt strongly that I should pick up the book and finish it. 

After the third time the feeling hit me, I finally listened. I picked up the book and I read. I struggled to keep reading because the book just wasn't connecting for me, but I only have to get hit upside the head a few times before I pay attention. 

The main character was an older woman who (if memory serves) takes in a young relative for the Christmas holiday season. The older woman has just moved to a village in the UK where she also meets an older man who (again, I'm not sure I remember) recently lost his wife. He's the organist for the church, but he hasn't played since his wife died.

The book is definitely a character study because not much happens except that each of the characters is struggling with something. I didn't understand why I was supposed to read that book until almost the final chapter when the old man plays the organ in the church for the first time since his wife's death. And then I knew what I was supposed to get from that book. There was, buried beneath the fiction, a message of healing that I needed at that time.

It's been several years since I read the book and felt the chills of truth revealed in that scene, but I can still remember the feeling. So maybe it does qualify as one of the best scenes ever.

What about you? Is there one scene you'd list as the best ever? Or can you remember one scene that had a profound impact on your life?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The 30-Day book Meme: Day 7

Day 07 - Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise.

Bickering. It's not really conflict, they're just sniping at each other for no good reason. There's no believable motivation for the sniping. People just dislike each other on sight. And it's almost always followed by I-hate-you-but-I-can't-keep-my-hands-off-you-sex.


But wait, maybe this isn't the answer since the key phrase in this questions is books you actually enjoyed otherwise.

Once the couple starts bickering, the actually enjoyed otherwise part of the equation disappears. I can't enjoy sniping for the sake of comedy or someone's idea of sexual tension. Bickering isn't sexy or interesting or cool. It's childish and annoying.

But back to the actual question. Least favorite plot device overused in books I'd otherwise enjoy. Hmmmm.

[Tick-Tock. Tick-Tock. Check nails. Look at Twitter feed. Run to bathroom. Pour fresh Diet Coke into my glass . . .]

  • Serial killers. So-o-o-o-o overdone and they all sound the same. 
  • The absence of conflict. Lots of thinking about the potential for conflict. Lots of posturing to avoid conflict, but no actual conflict. I recently read a book that fell into this category and I complained about it for days.
Ah! I've got it! 
  • Serial killers in books with no conflict, stalking bickering characters who repeatedly engage in I-hate-you-but-I-can't-keep-my-hands-off-you-sex! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 6

Day 06 - Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time

Is it just me, or does this feel like we're repeating ourselves? It's been way too many years since I read several Nancy Drew mysteries in a row, so it's hard to talk about which book from that series might qualify as my favorite. I can remember a little thrill of danger whenever I looked at the picture of Nancy Drew inside the moving van in The Secret of the Old Clock, and something about The Mystery of Larkspur Lane has always drawn me to that book. But I also loved The Hidden Staircase and The Message in the Hollow Oak and The Clue in the Diary. And let's not forget The Mystery at Lilac Inn

I could fudge a little and pick an Agatha Christie novel, but I run into the same trouble there. I mean, first I'd have to decide whether I liked Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot better, and how do you make a choice like that? Okay, I may lean a little toward Miss Marple in general, but Hercule was so delightfully flawed in his utter perfection, he's hard to resist. 

So do I move instead to my favorite book of all time? How do I pick that? 

So many books hold special places in my heart. 

I have the best memories of going to the library with my mom the summer she realized I was too grown up for kids books. We wandered through the stacks while she showed me books she'd read and loved, and I read and loved almost all of them myself. Since then, I've read Edna Ferber's Giant several times, and I'm still fascinated by the book. I think it may qualify as my favorite of the books my mom helped me choose at the library that day and certainly ranks right up there near the top of my list. But is it my very favorite book of all time?  

If I chose the book I've read the most in my lifetime, I'd have to say it's Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Yes, I know it's a horribly insulting depiction of African-Americans and paints an unrealistically rosy picture of the lives they lived, and for that I truly do apologize for including this book on my list. But my love affair with it exists in spite of all that. I've never considered GWTW a romance, and still don't. But I do consider it a fascinating character study in self-delusion on several levels. Scarlett O'Hara was a deeply flawed character whose reality didn't even come close to matching anyone else's and I go back to Gone with the Wind as a prime example of how to write an unreliable narrator and make her sympathetic enough to keep readers connected.

And besides, I thought Clark Gable was hot. Even if he was dead long before I ever saw the movie or read the book. 

And what about Penmarric and Cashelmara by Susan Howatch? Or Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers?  Or Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse? That book was recommended to me several years ago by Mrs. Wilson, my youngest daughter's 6th grade teacher. It's a poem cycle that reads like a novel. The language is sparse but beautiful, and Hesse wrings emotion from me with every line. Every time I read it, I'm amazed by what she accomplishes with so few words. 

I don't know. I can't choose. In fact, I could probably add several more books to this list if I had the time. 

What about you? What's your favorite book in your favorite series? Or do you have a favorite book of all time? I'd love to hear about yours.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 5

A Book or Series you Hate:

Seriously? Hate? answer to this one has to be N/A. I don't hate any books or series. Sure, there are some I don't particularly enjoy reading, but like I said before, anything that gets people reading is okay by me. I applaud the author, the publisher, and the readers, even if I don't particularly enjoy the books. My reading tastes are pretty broad. I like just about everything if it's done well.

I have abandoned a few series over the years, usually because I think the author has gotten lazy or because I think they've compromised the integrity of the series, or because the main character has simply become too unlikeable for me to spend time in his/her head. I've read a few books that have made me seriously consider abandoning a series that I've previously enjoyed, but I usually give the author another chance or two because I know that life sometimes gets in the way of your ability to turn out a page-turner. Trying to write your next funny cozy mystery after your father has died, for example, isn't easy. So it takes two or three seriously mediocre books for me to bail on an author.

I've also picked up a lot of books that I simply can't get through for one reason or another. Simplistic writing. Such weak motivation propelling the character through the book that I can't relate. Too much telling (wa-a-a-a-ay too much telling). No conflict. I recently read a book that fell into this last category by an author whose books I usually love. The main character strolled through the entire mystery anticipating trouble, but only occasionally encountering anything to throw her off her path. Nobody refused to talk to her. Nobody tried to get her to stop investigating. Nobody created any trouble for her at all until around pg 200. She just kept running into people and thinking about that person's history until I felt my eyes roll back in my head. I didn't care what happened but I kept reading because, like I said, I've loved the author's books in the past, but it wasn't my favorite book on her shelf, by any means.

But hate? Nope. It just doesn't apply. How about you? Which series or books are your least favorite?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 4

Today's question is a tough one: 

Day 04 - Your favorite book or series ever

Seriously?  Ever? How does a person decide that? 

I think I have to say the Nancy Drew series. No other series of books has had such an impact on me ... ever. They were the books that helped me realize that I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be Carolyn Keene and write Nancy Drew mysteries when I grew up. Of course, I later found out -- much to my dismay -- that Carolyn Keene didn't actually exist, which was about as devastating as being told that Santa ... well, you know. 

I might have been 9 or 10 when my mother enrolled my sister and me in a Nancy Drew book club. What bliss! What joy! Every few weeks a package would arrive containing two brand new, delicious adventures. Sandra took one and I took the other, and then we'd switch. I can still remember the smell of the pages, the feel of that glossy cover under my fingers. I can even see the typeface in my memory. 

At some point in my childhood, my mother sold my beloved Nancy Drew books so she could buy the Hardy Brothers books for my brother. Which I understand logically. But Gordon never really liked the books. I can't even remember seeing him read them. Or maybe I just wasn't paying attention. I do know that he didn't love them the way I loved my Nancy Drews. I'm not bitter about it. Much. I understand that a mother's gotta do what a mother's gotta do. But still.

A few years ago, my daughters bought me the first 10 books in the Nancy Drew series so I could start building my collection again. I keep them in a place of honor, and every once in a while I pick one up and turn back the clock to a simpler time. A time when I could truly lose myself in a book without thoughts of characterization, motivation, plot and conflict. A time when I could lie in the grass and dream about being one of the characters. (Loved Nancy, but George was my favorite.) 

I guess it wasn't such a hard decision after all.

What about you? What's your favorite book or series ever? I'd love to know.