November 2009


This year is my first year to participate in the National Novel Writing Month. So far I’ve made it to 5,725 words. It’s been really fun so far. I say fun because so far I haven’t ran out of ideas. Knock on wood.

But what happens if I suddenly run out of steam? What if I suddenly can’t put the words on the screen? I know I shouldn’t be worrying about getting a writer’s block since it hasn’t happened yet. But I do know that there were days when I just stared and stared at my monitor. Depending on my mood or events going on in my life, I couldn’t write for days, weeks, months, or sometimes even years.

This month though, I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to stay in this contest. Reaching the goal of 50,000 words is hard, but I think that getting those words on paper is also a battle. So to fend of the writer’s block, I’ve chosen three books to read in case I get to a point where I can’t write anymore.

My first choice is Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg. My creative writing teacher recommended this when I took my writing class at Gotham Writer’s Workshop. Natalie Goldberg encourages writers to keep writing no matter how bad it is. She also has some writing exercises. She does talk quite a lot about Zen, but I really didn’t mind it too much.

The second writing book I’m keeping close by is The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron. There are so many writing prompts to choose from in this book. I use this book often when I run out of ideas for my creative writing projects. It’s extremely helpful.

The third book, is Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamont. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard how inspiring and funny it was so I’ll give it a try.


And now…back to my writing…

Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary: Physician Matt Rutledge is looking for a score to settle with the local mining company in Belinda, West Virginia. He believed that his wife and father were victims of toxic waste exposure. In Boston, pathologist Nikki Solari is devastated of her friend’s mysterious and sudden death. She goes to Belinda where her friend is originally from to investigate. A new vaccine has been developed, and Ellen Kroft is afraid that it hasn’t been further tested. After disagreeing on its release with the committee, Ellen gets a visit from a stranger who threatens to harm her granddaughter. Ellen tries to find out the real source of threat, which leads her to Belinda, West Viriginia. Matt, Nikki, and Ellen find out that they are dealing with the same enemy. They join forces to seek answers and before they lose their own lives.
Review: The first Michael Palmer book I read was The Fifth Vial. I enjoyed the story so much that I decided to read The Second Opinion next.
Fatal was written before The Fifth Vial and A Second Opinion. I bought the book at a second hand store and was being sold for a couple dollars. I remembered how excited I was to read another Michael Palmer medical thriller. Now I’m relieved that I didn’t spend as much.
Fatal, though it was entertaining, was just okay for me. I didn’t think it was as good as the first two books I read. It started off well, but towards the end I was ready for it to be done. Maybe because I was starting to suspect the culprit was, and in the end, I was right. Although I should be pleased that I figured out who the villain was, I wasn’t. Maybe because I wanted to be shocked by the ending.
Recommendation: Although Fatal wasn’t the best book Michael Palmer has ever written, the story was still good. You might enjoy this if you like medical thrillers, or if you’re a big Michael Palmer fan. If you haven’t read any of his works, read The Fifth Vial, which was an enjoyable read from start to finish.

After recovering from laryngitis last week, I finally had the chance to turn my attention to reading my books. Yay! Only I soon found out that laryngitis or not, I really couldn’t find the interest to read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

I know. I know. Ms. Wharton won the Pulitzer Prize for this. I really don’t know what my problem is with this book. Maybe I got so bored reading all that gossiping about Madame Ellen Olenska. I am determined to finish this, however. I’m just going to set it aside for now.

I’ve moved on to The Portrait of A Young Lady by Henry James. Isabel is the type of person who tells it like it is. She makes the story interesting. So interesting that I didn’t realize that I was already on page 120 on the first night I read it.

Here’s Isable Archer from The Portrait of a Lady.

I wasn’t going to read it until December, but War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy was just calling my name one chilly Friday evening. Finally, I just said, “What the heck! It can’t hurt.” So I plucked it out from my bookshelf and started reading. I finished the first chapter, the second…and then the third… Well, you get the picture. I was so absorbed in the story that I almost didn’t take my sister’s invitation to go watch Cirque du Freak The Vampire’s Assistant. (She was paying. How can I say no?) I don’t care how long it will take me to finish War and Peace, but I do intend to enjoy every page of it.

Not only did I go Christmas shopping this Saturday, I also went book shopping. What can I say? I can never get enough books. So here’s what I bought:

The first one is I, Claudius by Robert Graves. This is Peter’s (from KyusiReader) favorite book. Just by reading from an excerpt of the book blurb below, it really caught my attention:

Despised as weakling ad dismissed as an idiot because of his physical infirmities, Claudius survived the intrigues and poisonings that marked the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the mad Caligula to become the Emperor of Rome in 41 AD.

I love any book (fiction or non) that has anything to do with world history so this is right up my alley.

The second book shown is actually three books. They were all combined into one. It’s the first three books of Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan. They are: A Living Nightmare, The Vampire’s Assistant, and Tunnels of Blood. I just watched Cirque du Freak The Vampire’s Assistant in the movies this past Friday. I was really intrigued by the storyline. It’s about this teen named Darren who decides to go to the Cirque du Freak show with his best friend Steve. There they meet Mr. Crepsley, a vampire. When Steve falls into a coma after being bitten by a spider that Darren stole from Mr. Crespley, Darren goes to the vampire for help. Of course, they only way Mr. Crepsley helps him is if Darren agrees to become his assistant. There’s more to it, but I don’t want to say too much.

Written by Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God is the life story of Janie Crawford. Janie is a black woman who is very independent. She goes through three marriages, survives poverty and challenges while trying to find herself. I’ve heard so many good reviews on this so I am excited to read this.

Finally there’s Tana French’s The Likeness. Detective Cassie Maddox investigates a murder of a young woman who turns out to be Cassie’s double. The victim’s name is Alexandra Madison, an alias that Cassie once used when she was undercover. Whew. Talk about weird. Still, weird stories are enough to get my interest.

Well, that’s it for now…until the next loot…