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Friday, May 27, 2011

Review: Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks

                                                                               3.5 out of 5 stars.
Nights in Rodanthe is the first Nicholas Sparks book that I've had the pleasure of reading, and it certainly won't be the last.

At first, I was a bit skeptical. The beginning of the story doesn't have that initial, great pull that I'm used to in novels. There was a lot of telling and very little showing. Emotions and incidents that I wanted to be explained and drawn out were only briefly glossed over. There was a bit of confusion between what was happening in the past and what was happening in the present, as there would be short flashbacks that appeared with very little warning. When the POV character changed (because it switches back and forth between the female MC, Adrienne, and the male MC, Paul), I found some of the final lines to be, well, quite cheesy. Less than five pages in, I was sure the book would be a flop.

Nevertheless, towards the end of the first chapter, something happened, and I felt myself reaching out to one of the main characters. Even with all of the (well, what I thought was ) wrong above, I was touched by the humanity of the leading female, Adrienne.

It was then that I realized I wasn't reading the way I should be. Nights in Rodanthe is less like what I'm accustomed to with reading and more like what I'd expect when listening--when being told a beautiful, torturous love story. Yes, sometimes things are glossed over, and sometimes the endings of heartfel moments are cheesy, but so is life and so is love. People don't normally function as though there is going to be a story written about them. Because of this, every part of the story was important and interesting and suspenseful. When added to the way the points of views switch at just the right moments and the character's unique relationship and honest dialog, I found Nights in Rodanthe to be 3.5 star book.

If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it.

<3 Gina Blechman

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

W.I.P. Wednesdays: Waking Up Is Hard To Do

I started writing a new manuscript on May 8th, and am on track to have it finished by June 7th. (As in, I write 3-6k words a day. *woot woot!*) If I can keep on schedule after that, it should be beta-ready by early August. Until then, I'll be posting a short segment from it every wednesday to share some of what I've been working on.

Ready?
Get Excited!

WIP Wednesdays: Segment 1

I lean on my pillow, aching with the withdrawal of sleep, and force myself to at least start moving upward. It takes skill to get out of bed these days--not like when I was a kid and could just jump into alertness at the drop of pin. There's a certain finesse, a certain inner dialogue required now.

It's time to wake up, Logic says.

Sloth groans and pats it's hypothetical, yawning mouth. No, it says. It's clearly not.

It's nearly six am, Logic says. It's time to get up.

Six am?

Yes.

Well, that explains it.

Logic smiles.

That explains it all...What bloody sane human being wakes up at six am?

Logic gasps, takes a step back, and raises it's meticulously trimmed eyebrows. I will not take that tone of voice from you.

What? Starting to sound like that alarm clock of yours now, am I? Eeeeh, eeeeh, eeeeh.

STOP IT!

Oh? Sloth rolls over on its side and yawns for dramatic effect. That's not very polite, Logic dear. Why don't you take a nap? You're cranky.

You will get out of this bed, right now, or I will not give you coffee.

Silence from Sloth.

Logic takes a deep breath and reclaims itself. I am counting to three now. One...two...

Okay, okay. Sloth groans. Come on, lazy bones. Time to get up.


Happy Wednesday!
<3 Gina Blechman

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

It's no secret. I love Sarah Waters. I adored her after picking up Affinity years ago, dreamed of having her talent as I quickly and excitedly flipped through the pages of Tipping the Velvet, and now, The Night Watch has only reminded me, once again, of her skill.

The Night Watch is set in post-WWII London and is told from the points of view of the four main characters: Kay, Helen, Viv, and Duncan. In true Sarah Waters fashion, two of the women are lesbians, which, due to the way they must hide their relationships, makes the story even more intersting.

What I love about this novel is not just that it's magnificently written with original, honest characters or that every scene and setting is vivid and real, but that the story is told backwards through time. The novel starts in 1947 and goes backwards to 1941. Just as in real life, Waters' characters don't give everything away. Sometimes they lie or exaggerate or say just the flicker of a thought in a silent voice pushed in the back of their minds. But, by going back in time, you get to see the stories behind the secrets and the yearnings, the fears and losses brought by the war. Not to mention, Waters leaves nothing unsaid when it comes to describing, if not the facts and truths, the gritty emotions of her characters.

The one problem I had with the story, which is more ofna personal issue, is that, because there were so many characters coming in and out of the story, and because all of the characters came to know each other in some way, I often got confused between some of the characters' stories and relationships. Though, honestly, this only made me want to read the book again, just to get it all straight. There's just something about it, particularly in the beginning of the novel, before things got explained, where everything just seems intense and confusing (at least to me, who always has trouble grasping characters early in novels), and I found myself thinking "I have no idea what's going on...but know I really like it and have to finish."

All in all 4/5 stars.

<3 Gina Blechman

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Summer Reading List: What I'll Be Reviewing from now till September

After a couple hours of skimming goodreads, I've created a Summer Reading list of either LGBT romance or just romance genre books in general. What I've come up with is such:

LGBT YA Romance:
Rage: A Love Story by Julie Anne Peters
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
Crush by Carrie Mac
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

LGBT Romance:
Three Junes by Julia Glass
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
I Came Out For This by Lisa Gitlin
Verge by Z. Egloff
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Landing by Emma Donoghue
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Lighthouse Keeping by Jeanette Winterson
Starting From Scratch by Georgia Beers

YA Romance
Then I Met my Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso
Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
We'll Always Have The Summer by Jenny Haan

Romance:
____ by Nicholas Sparks (Still deciding, I have yet to read anything by him yet)
In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap
Already Home by Susan Mallery
Mercy Burns by Keri Arthur
A Turn in the Road  by Debbie Macomber

Either tonight or tomorrow, I will probably update this post with the order I'll be reading and the dates that I plan on finishing the books. (Putting page numbers and all that into consideration.) I hope y'all are excited, cuz I am!

<3 Gina Blechman

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why am I not shivering with antici........ ....... ...... pation? (Part 1)

If y'all can remember back to three or four weeks ago, there was a time when I was reading one book a week. I can happily say that that time has returned, and, starting this Friday, I will be reviewing one book a week again. Since the theme of my new novel is a LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, for those of who aren't aware) romance, the books will all be of the romance genre (YA, adult, mystery, dytopian, contemporary, classics etc) and/or have LGBT themes. I'm pretty super excited about this, as it means I'll get to read a large variety of books instead of just dystopians. This also means a greater variety for you guys to see reviewed! WOOHOO!

Now, back to the title of this blog, the book I'm reading now, Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue, is leaving me very conflicted. The characters are amazing, Donoghue's style is beautiful, the scenes and sentences are vivid and real. I like it, I really really do, but as much as I want to see what happens to the characters, there's not a lot of...suspence. I'm not shivering with antici.... .... .... pation. The tension within the scenes is good, but I'm not really feeling the tension between scenes.

The culprit, I think I've disovered, is that the side-flap story tells it all. "Mary Saunders' lust for linen and lace leads her to a life of prostitution... A dangerous misstep sents her fleeing to a middleclass household where she becomes a seamstress [for Mrs. Jones]... Mary becomes a close confidante of Mrs. Jones...but her desire for a better life leads her back to prostitution." In addition to this, the prologue tells of Mary being locked in a jail cell and waiting to be hanged.

I was intruiged by the story, which is why I started reading it even though it doesn't fit into any of the above categories, but now there's a part of me that feels like everything that's been told is affecting all that is to come. I know that Mary's a prostitute, then she's not, then she goes back to it, and that she'll never get the life she's dreaming of, because then she gets caught and will probably get hanged. I'm just 120 pages, slightly over 1/3 of the way, through the story, and knowing all of that already is a bit too much.

Now, granted, this may be because I just finished going through a Sarah Waters craze, and I consider Sarah Waters to be one of the great mistresses of plot twists, but still...I feel I would be enjoying the story so much more if I knew a bit less to start.

As I come to think of it, this isn't a problem reserved for back cover stories either. If you tell too much too early in a book, there will be problems. If you start a novel leading with what seems like a predictable plot, telling what the character wants and how they plan and how they're going to get it, you loose the questioning that the readers should be doing on the way. Actually...expect a post on this tomorrow. Shivering in Anticipation, Part Two.
What do you think? Has anyone else encountered this problem?

<3 Gina Blechman

~The Night Watch by Sarah Waters to be reviewed on Friday~

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Everything LGBT: Book reviews, culture, networking, etc

As I said in my previous blog, I've started writing my next manuscript which is LGBT fiction. However, as I've been doing research, looking up and reading other LGBT novels, I've come to realize that there's a lot less out there than I'd like. There's maybe three dozen books left when you rule out erotica and novels about "straight" teens getting drunk, making out, and then being like "OMG, I think I like you?" (Yes, that was actually the topic of multiple novels...as though that story needs to be told multiple times.) And I'm not trying to completely downplay these novels, and, of course, I have nothing against erotica and do enjoy it on occassion, but I just wish there was more just normal *insert genre here* lgbt novels.

 I also noticed that in the LGBT fiction world, there seems to be a few key writers and then...well...everybody else. For example, in YA, there's a lot of Alex Sanchez, Julieann Peters, and Nancy Garden, David Levithan and maybe 1 or 2 others whose names I can't recall at the moment. (Though I did see that Ellen Hopkins has an lgbt friendly YA, and that got me pretty excited...) In adult fiction, there's a lot of Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue, and then a handful of other lesser knowns. I mean, I can name more famous and amazing dystopian authors than I can popular LGBT authors in all genres.

So therefore, I started a second blog called Everything LGBT. Everything LGBT is a blog for LGBT writers to network. It will cover topics such as LGBT novels, movies, music, issues/rights, culture, stories, etc and can hopefully be a way for people of all orientations to become more educated about whats out there in both books/media and real life stories and issues. I believe that the revolution of this generation will be brought about by encouragement from the media. So we might as well start discussing what we see and feel and what we want to see and feel, so that it can happen.

Click on the badge in my sidebar or go to www.everythinglgbt.blogspot.com to become a part of it and be a supporter!

<3 Gina Blechman

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Scoop: My new manuscript, my brief haitus, and questions for you!

Hey everyone!

Now, I know you've all been terribly sad about my brief finals-week hiatus, but I have good news:
I'M BACK!

Here's what I've been up to while I've been gone:
1) Editing some of Synesthesis and its queries
2) Sending more queries to potential agents
3) And STARTING MY NEW NOVEL! YAY!

My goal for the new novel is to finish it by the end of June and have it beta ready by mid-August.

So here's where the question comes in...
My previous novel, Synesthesis, is YA dystopian. My new novel is LGBT romance and very...um...not YA.
(Here's the gist...)

Veronica (Ronnie) McGallen married the man her mother told her to, fell in love with him, and moved on with her life. This is until she started reaching the dark side of 39 and her bringing her entire life into question. Ronnie's love and compassion for her husband and her burning desire to branch out and search for something greater leads her to the places she knows she'll never find love: in strip clubs and in beds, against walls, and on floors with superficial women. But when Ronnie accidently meets a woman she could actually fall for, she questions if it's equally wrong to give up the chance as it is to cheat on the man whose ring she wears...Still, does she really want lose the safe, sturdy, dependable, man she loves for a southern belle waitress who understands her without barely trying?

So, yeah...it's a bit different than the previous book. More steamy, more complex. I definately think it's more me. Even the way I'm writing is pleasantly more adult and literary in style  than my YA manuscript. The problem is, I don't know how this should affect the way I proceed. I mean, my blog has been dystopian themed, the agents I've looked for are YA agents looking for dystopians, and now I'm making a change that I know I have to take, because its much better for me and much more my style, but I don't know how to move forward from here. I've also been contemplating self-publishing Synesthesis if the queries fall through and then really looking for an agent for this WIP. What does one do in the event of such a large genre jump?

Comments? Advice? Pretty Pleeaaaasseee?