Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (2014)

This one just literally jumped out at me on the shelves of young adult books with its bright cover and intriguing title. I still like the name of the book after a deserted field, but after about 50 pages of very short chapters of teen angst, I decided to call it quits. I can tell it will deal with teen love and sexuality, as well as bullying and other issues teens face, but I didn't have the energy for this, so I will leave it for the right audience.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans (2015)

I don't think I read any Christmas books this year, so this was a quick post-Christmas read. The author sounded vaguely familiar and turns out I had read his previous book Mistletoe Promise and had made a note to try some more. Well... partially it was disappointingly full of cliche's, but part of it again treated some difficult aspect of life engagingly. Kim had a couple of failed engagements and a disastrous marriage, but she still believes in love and wants to be a romance writer. She loves her dad who is ill with cancer and works in a car dealership in Denver. She hears of a romance writer's workshop in Vermont - at the Mistletoe Inn - but it is expensive so her dad gives it to her as a pre-Christmas gift. There she meets Zeke, and after the usual ups and downs, they live happily ever after.

My first complaint was about the workshop. I've never been to a writer's workshop, but this one sounded terrible. For that kind of money, there should have been something better. I've been to enough workshops to know how useful they can be and I was hoping to learn something about the writing process. Nope.

My other beef is the story-line. I knew the big surprise the moment Zeke first appeared in the book, or close to it. I also didn't get why Kim had just written one book and nothing else. She appeared to write in a journal, as there were all these "deep" quotes about life from her supposed journal, but we don't see her writing. When I heard the premise of her book, it sounded familiar, and sure enough it is the other book I've read by Evans. Strange that the other book came out first. I was also surprised at Kim's reaction to constructive criticism. Maybe there are writers who have a piece that they themselves think is perfect, and then ask it to be judged as is, but I somehow assumed that an unpublished writer, who has written her first novel, would jump at the opportunity to discuss her work with an editor to make it better, to make it publishable. And if you come to a writer's workshop, you plan on working on your writing. I guess Kim's reaction was important to the plot, but didn't make sense to me.

What I did like, was how Kim and Zeke help each other deal with the tragedies of their past lives that kept them from moving forward. I also enjoyed Kim's fellow workshop attendee and delightful side-kick Samantha from Montana.