11.14.2010 | By: Alisa Callos

Not to be Missed...

On the Jellicoe RoadOn the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

My rating: 5 of 5 stars:

Goodreads blurb:

My father took one hundred and thirty two minutes to die.

‘I counted.

‘It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of kilometres away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said that it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, “What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?” and my father said, “Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,” and that was the last thing he ever said.

‘We heard her almost straight away. In the other car, wedged into ours so deep that you couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended. She told us her name was Tate and then she squeezed through the glass and the steel and climbed over her own dead – just to be with Webb and me; to give us her hand so we could clutch it with all our might. And then a kid called Fitz came riding by on a stolen bike and saved our lives.

‘Someone asked us later, “Didn’t you wonder why no one came across you sooner?”

‘Did I wonder?

‘When you see your parents zipped up in black body bags on the Jellicoe Road like they’re some kind of garbage, don’t you know?

‘Wonder dies.’

My take:
Not to be missed…whatever you do, keep reading. After a slow confusing start (a perfect mirror for the mind of our heroine, Taylor), this book takes you on an amazing journey.

Through friendship and death…“Is a person worth more because they have someone to grieve for them?”

Abandonment and loss…”One day when I was eleven, my mother drove me out here and while I was in the toilets at the 7-Eleven on the Jellicoe Road, she drove off and left me there. It becomes one of those defining moments in your life, when your mother does that.”

Through war and gut wrenching fear…suicide and drug addiction, the reader is drawn down a path by a story that grabs hold and doesn’t let go until all is known and the way is clear.

Twisty and beautiful…the best kind of book.

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10.02.2010 | By: Alisa Callos

If you haven't read this one...you should.

Going BovineGoing Bovine by Libba Bray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Layers upon layers in this book.

It was an amazing read…something for everyone here—comedy, tragedy, adventure, philosophy, magic, a road trip, snarky teenagers, science, music, and a yard gnome. I have a feeling I’ll be rereading this someday just for all I missed the first time around.

Favorite Quote: “We all walk in a land of dreams. For what are we but atoms and hope, a handful of stardust and sinew.”

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9.07.2010 | By: Alisa Callos

Reflections on Writing...

First, a very warm welcome to new readers. I don’t post very often as life and The Novel have pushed blogging to a back burner.

It’s been over two months since I finished the first draft of Wisdom, Light and Darkness, and over a month since I’ve done any serious work on it. I had deluded myself into thinking it was a pretty decent first draft, but a few friendly critiques have shown me the error of my thinking. Oh, and how…

In August, I attended the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon, and was treated to some wonderful classes on editing. Some of the things I learned there, I hope to share with you in the coming months.

However, tonight I’m focused on my own writing journey—what I’ve learned this past year. A year which saw the high of finishing a first draft and the low of learning how completely awful it was. As well as the realization of how much work still needed to be done… Throughout my journey, I’ve kept lists of what I’ve learned so far, and I thought I’d share them with you. I’m still making these lists because I’m still learning. For me, these ‘light bulb’ moments have made learning my craft a delight.

So here’s my first list. The one I wrote when I was half way done with WL&D.

Things I’ve learned so far:

  1. There will be days when nothing comes. Just do your best...research, revise, reevaluate.
  2. Showing up every day, gets the job done...even if it’s only one page or one paragraph at a time.
  3. Keep notes. Character lists for name spellings, timelines, dates, etc. It’s easier to find a note than the exact passage in the manuscript. Word 'notebook view' does this very well.
  4. The find and replace function is invaluable. Know how to use it.
  5. Sometimes your brain needs a 3 minute break...great time to floss your teeth, so keep floss handy.
  6. Nothing is better at combating your favorite word than a good thesaurus or my personal favorite, a flip dictionary.
  7. You can never be too busy to stop and kiss a boo boo, or hug your child.
  8. There is always more to learn...read and learn from those who have gone before you.
  9. Writers are weird. (If you’ve ever been to a writing conference, you know what I mean.) Embrace your inner weirdness…but don’t forget to shower on occasion.
  10. The right music, and a beautiful smelling candle, do wonders for setting the scene.

    How about you? Where are you in your journey? What have you learned?
    4.17.2010 | By: Alisa Callos

    A Very Short Book Review for You

    The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    My rating: 5 of 5 stars
    I almost didn't read this book as the premise struck me as unrealistic and a bit contrived. That said, it was masterfully written and the author held the level of suspense at nail-biting intensity throughout the entire book. I couldn’t put it down and am looking forward to book two.

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