Posts Tagged ‘reading’
I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Jeffree Wyn Itrich’s Destiny at Oak Valley. If you haven’t read my review yet, take a second and scroll down just a smidge and check it out. I absolutely loved the book!
I also love that Jeffree took the time out of her busy life to take part in a Q&A with me.
KA: Holy hot air balloons! I have never been up in one, or even been given the opportunity. To be honest, I’m not sure if I would take it if one landed in my yard…at least not far off the ground. How did a hot air balloon come to play such a monumental role in this book?
JI: The story actually began in a balloon, the very one depicted on the front of the book. My husband and I married in that very hot air balloon in Albuquerque. Our friends, Wally and Kathi Henderson, owned the balloon. Every year we went on multiple hot air ballooning trips in TEGWAR (that’s the name of that particular balloon — stands for The Exciting Game Without Any Rules). It was during one particular trip that we flew in the White Sands Balloon Rally, (the same one Rachel flew in) that the story emerged. Kathi and I were the first of our group to launch. There was an eerie fog that morning covering the dunes, just like in the novel. As we rose above the fog bank I remarked to Kathi ‘wouldn’t it be wild if when we landed we found ourselves in the Wild West?’ Being the practical person that she is she laughed. I began thinking about the story that was to become Destiny Later that day after the rally our whole group visited the nearby ghost town of White Oaks. My head began spinning; the story was formulating in my head faster than I could think! By the time we returned home on Sunday eve I had the whole story sketched out in my brain. It was almost as if the story was waiting for me to come find it and tell it. As for all the details of the ballooning, both Kathi, and my husband, who at the time was a licensed balloon pilot, reviewed the details to make sure everything was accurate. I knew a lot about the logistics of flying balloons because I was a crew member on TEGWAR and flew a couple of weekends a month. In addition I did quite a bit of research on the history of southeastern New Mexico, home to Billy the Kid, and other colorful rogues.
KA: And after the balloon is the Wild Wild West. How did you land on setting your book in the time and place?
JI: Like I mentioned above, the balloon rally took place in that part of New Mexico where the Wild West was in full action. I didn’t have to make anything up! The area’s history gave me all the fodder I needed.
KA: I see on your website that you’ve said that your stories beg you to write them. I feel the same way. It may takes months and months, but there comes a time when I have to get it out. What kind of advice do you have for authors, or aspiring authors, about telling the stories that come to them, especially if they don’t come pouring out all at once, or that often?
JI: The best bit of advice I can give an aspiring writer is to listen to the voice. I believe that each of us has a voice within us, a voice that speaks to us and guides us. Some of us listen, others ignore it. I have learned to trust the voice, whether it’s guiding me in writing a chapter or giving me an idea. I don’t ignore it. If I don’t have time to actually write it out then I make copious notes. I always have paper and pen with me — in my purse, on my desk at work, on my nightstand, on the kitchen counter, in the car. I never know when an idea is going to pop into my head; I’ve learned to be ready when it does. The only place where I don’t have a pad and pen is in the shower! I would suggest that someone new to writing to write down everything even if it doesn’t seem like such a hot idea at the time. It may be useful later. The key here is to write. Write everyday. Get used to writing so that it becomes as natural as a daily habit. Write short stories. Write essays. Write poetry. Write something. The only way to motivate the creative juices to flow is to practice writing. After awhile inspiration will come. You have to feed it.
KA: I also see that you like to cook and have written a cookbook. If you had one recipe to add to this book, what would it be?
JI: What a tough question! Perhaps a recipe for gingerbread (I love to bake) but that wouldn’t be in keeping with Rachel’s limited cooking skills. But rest assured that there are plenty more food scenes in the sequel. BTW, did you notice on my website that I have recipes for all the dishes mentioned in the book?
KA: If your book would be turned into a movie (which would make my day), who would you have play your main characters?
JI: Oh, that’s easy. Christian Bale would play Matt and Olivia Wilde would play Rachel.
KA: What are you reading now?
JI: In the sequel, I introduce a group of curanderas (traditional healers). My neighbor who I have known most of my life told me about a book written by Rudolfo Anaya called Bless Me Ultima. It’s a classic. One of the characters is a curandera. I had finished my manuscript when I started reading it but I was curious to see how he treated the role of a curandera. I found that he handled it quite differently from me. But it was interesting nevertheless.
KA: I know you are working on the second book in this series. Any hints as to what we can expect and when?
I should tell you that originally there was no sequel. I wrote Destiny as a stand alone novel. But so many people contacted me and asked me what will happen next that I agreed to write a sequel. It took me a month of thinking about it before I sat down to write an outline. When I started I wasn’t sure where I wanted to take the story but very quickly the story emerged. Then as I was writing the manuscript the story took a few new turns. Scenes and characters that I had not anticipated jumped into my head. And yes, they ‘begged’ to be in the tale. At times it was though the characters took over my brain and told me what to write. After a while I just went with the flow; I had to. The characters were not going to give me any rest until I followed their direction. I know it must sound like I’m loony but seriously, my characters kept after me. (I’ve heard other writers say the same thing so I guess I’m not crazy.) I’m pretty happy with the result. All I can say is that the characters were right but I suppose readers will be the proof of that.
Imagine flying in a hot-air balloon, getting caught in an eclipse and descending over 100 years into the Wild West of New Mexico. You meet a strikingly handsome man who challenges every notion you ever had about love. That’s exactly what happens to independent, high-spirited Rachel Kingston, who doesn’t know how to get home, but must find a way without losing her heart.
Jeffree contacted me about reading and reviewing this book and she caught me at just the perfect time. I had just wrapped up my review for Orphan Train and was in a very loving mood for historical fiction. Who am I? But when I read that Rachel ended up back in the Wild Wild West, I couldn’t turn it down. As much as I love my iPhone and my Polar watch, cars, electricity, indoor bathrooms, fast food joints, blogging, my Nook… I think I could have lived in the olden days. Give me some yarn for knitting, some classic books, some old family recipes, I think I could have done just fine.
I devoured this book. I could not wait to see what happened. Would Rachel ever get home? What if this happened to me? Would I stay or would I go? Don’t we all wish at some point in our lives that we could travel back to another time or place and find a soul mate that doesn’t exist today? Don’t lie… I know that in a single time of your life you’ve thought about it, just knowing that there is not a single person in this century that gets you and you know they lived a previous life that you wish you could have been part of.
This book is also short and sweet. At just over 125 pages, Itrich tells a wonderful love story that spans hundreds of years. And does such a great job of going from present to past. Obviously, there will be a major jump, but it flowed flawlessly.
Books like this give me such inspiration to write. Even though I know that I am writing fiction, I love to be able to relate to things that happen in books. Because of that, I have a hard time thinking outside the reality box. I cannot jump over the fiction bump and go somewhere completely unrealistic. Books like this encourage me to jump off the page and try something new. I need to bookmark this paragraph so I will remember it in the future
I give Destiny at Oak Valley 5 out of 5 bookmarks. I am so happy this is just Book 1 in the series. I can’t wait to see what is coming around the bend, hopefully this fall, from Irtrich.
Happy Sunday and Happy Mother’s Day! Hope you’ve had a wonderful day and spent it with your mother or children. I spent the day with my mother in-law, sister-in-law, and (nearly) niece and her family. We had a lovely cookout (thanks to my grillmaster husband).
My mom and I celebrated Mother’s Day and her birthday (last weekend) yesterday. We spent the whole day together, starting with a 5K walk. We kicked butt. We walked 3.1 miles in 42 minutes. We have never walked it that fast before. We came to the finish line and were tied for 3rd. We held hands to cross, she tried to pull me back and I raced ahead to get that spot lol. We may be
a little a lot competitive. We both medaled. Mine was for 3rd place, hers was for being old. LOL. She was first in the senior citizen age group.
Aren’t we cute? After the race, we did what we do best. We went shopping. We went to the flea market and some little craft stores. We stopped and picked up some of our favorite snacks: homemade chips from Arbys and cherry limeade from Taco Bell. After a day of shopping, my husband came to meet us and we went to dinner with my mom and brother. It was such a great day. I am so thankful to have such a wonderful woman in my life. Someone told me years ago my mom would be my best friend one day. I laughed because I never believed it would happen… I was a teenager and couldn’t fathom it ever happening. I wish that woman of wisdom was still alive so I could tell her how spot on she was. If only we would listen when we are young
It was a good book week for me! I finished Death’s Last Run and Destiny at Oak Valley. They were both great books. I am still deciding what I’m going to start next. I have a couple of weeks until my next scheduled review is due, so I’m thinking I’m going to go with Dawn by VC Andrews that I borrowed from my cousin.
This month I have been taking part in a May-a-Day picture challenge with a bookish theme on Instagram. I am such a nerd. I love seeing other people’s nerd flags flying. I have found so many bookish friends on Instagam, which I’m sure will soon lead to more blogs to follow
On The Blog
On My Bookshelf
Out This Week
Lots of goodies out this week, and quite a variety! As always, click the book covers to check out more! And have a wonderful week friends.
The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.
Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.
Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
I got this book through my online book club, SheReads.org. If you want to read stellar books, check out their selections each month. For the past several months, my favorite books have been their picks.
It’s amazing how much my taste in books has changed since I started reading and reviewing five years ago. I went from being a YA junkie, to now reading whatever genre comes by way, and yes, I still cave to YA frequently. But one thing that has surprised me about my reading taste is how much I enjoy a little historical fiction. Christina Baker Kline bundled everything I love into one book with Orphan Train.
The story is told through two perspectives that flow seamlessly. You have Molly, in foster care, struggling to find a family and a place to finally call home. Then you have Vivian, the wealthy elderly woman, who has a story most couldn’t fathom, let along believe if they heard it. But they become unlikely friends, and even more than that, family. They both have so much to offer each other. It is an absolute beautiful story of heartache and pain and triumph. Both women have so much courage. It makes you think about what you have and the petty things that bog down our life on a daily basis. It’s sad that so many young children still have to live like Molly does.
I often say that my favorite books are the ones where I come away with knowledge. Chalk this book up on the list. How have I lived for 26 years and never known about orphan trains? I was never good at history, I just couldn’t remember all of the facts and dates and locations. But the older I get, the more I’m starting to have a soft spot for history. I want to know all of the little hidden secrets throughout the years and that’s exactly what Christina did with this book. The stories you can find online about the children who rode on these trains are incredible. I could read them for days. They seem more like fiction than anything I’ve read, they are so raw and real. I thank SheReads and Christina for bringing this amazing piece of history to my life and to light.
I give Orphan Train 5 out of 5 bookmarks.
Click here to listen to Christina Baker Kline talking about Orphan Train on NPR.
A young snowboarder turns up dead on the Blackcomb Glacier. The local police are calling it suicide, but the victim’s mother, a U.S. senator, is not convinced. At the senator’s request, the FBI sends in undercover agent Clare Vengel to infiltrate the world of ski bums and snow bunnies and find out what happened to Sacha. Clare soon discovers that not only was the victim involved in an LSD smuggling ring, but also the uncooperative top cop in town is in cahoots with the smugglers. With her cover dangerously close to being blown Clare must solve the case before she finds herself in the deep freeze permanently.
Oh how I love thee, Robin Spano. This is no secret. I jump on every chance to snatch up a Clare Vengel novel. This is the 3rd Clare book I’ve had my hot little hands on, and each one impresses me more than before. Robin has jumped up on the list of authors I know I can count on each time a new book is released. When I want something good, I turn to her!
Death’s Last Run is told through four viewpoints. You have Clare, undercover as Lucy. You have the Senator, and possible Presidential Candidate Martha. You have Richie, a drug dealer that wants to turn legit. And you have Wade, the employer… and lover of the dead girl. Spano did a great job using all the different voices to tell this story. I often feel like when I try to change characters, I still have the same voice. Robin has mastered this technique.
She has also mastered the murder mystery genre. She throws Clare into scenarios and locations that prove Spano is doing her homework and research to make sure she is telling her story accurately. And with each novel, she keeps you hanging on until the last second, throwing out several potential suspects, with the bad guy right under your nose. How do I always fall for this?
One thing I love about Robin’s writing is that she has fun with it. A lot of murder mysteries, along with the characters, are dry and serious. Not Robin’s. Clare is a badass who won’t take anything from anyone. Granted she has a lot of growing to do and has severe trust and settling down issues, but still, she’s a strong woman who rocks at her job. My favorite part of the book was in chapter 13, when Clare was taking snowboarding lessons and couldn’t remember Chopper’s name and called him everything from Flipper to Flopper to Flopface. I was laughing out loud at this.
You know what else I love? That Robin has left this bad boy open-ended, which leaves me with high hopes that another Clare novel is in the works. I’ll keep you updated.
I give Death’s Last Run 5 out of 5 bookmarks.