May Review

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May 2017

With many holidays and some time off, I was able to get a lot of reading done. Here goes.

Books Read

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First came The 13-Story Treehouse. I’ve heard a lot about it going around and thought it might be good for some of my students, particularly the male ones. All in all, I didn’t care for it. Where Wimpy Kid is inventive and funny, driven by the strong characters, this book is very loosely tied together with little strong plotting or jokes. Though it may be an easy read for those that hate reading—it took me two hours to finish—I don’t know why it’s so resoundingly popular.

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Then I tackled Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual. Just like the book before—A Void—he set parameters on himself to make it harder. He made a map of the whole apartment and set out telling the story room by room following the knight in chess’s pattern. Beyond that, it mainly followed the main character’s drive to paint pictures, have them cut into puzzles, assemble the puzzles, glue them back together, and then wash the paint free from the canvas as a clean sheet of paper. He wanted to something useless with his life and as you hear the other stories, you see most people do that to. I was awesome, if not long. Must read!

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After such a heavy book, I dropped into Anna and the French Kiss. It stared out like all romance YA books—weak characters, insta-love, piss poor dialogue—but eventually moved onto something more. One big thing I hated was that the MC was not as likeable as you’d expect, and she didn’t really know that much about movies, though she claimed to be a cinephile. In the end, I thought it captured the uncertainty young love has, but added far too many twists and turns to make it a reread.

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Then hearing much hype about it, I read Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here. The concept was interesting—mocking all the werewolf / vampire YA books where chosen ones must save the world. The main characters are the normal kids who have to deal with all the repercussions of those other genre books destroying everything. And even though it basically revolved around it, some of the plot was ok. Still, in the end, I didn’t care for the full effect of it. Again, Ness by himself disappoints.

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Then I needed a pick-me-up, so I read Higashino’s Journey under the Midnight Sun. Like his other ones, this was a murder mystery, but of a whole new order. This did not follow his normal prescribed method, and I loved it. The two main characters are never seen directly, only being dealt with by side characters, but he does such an amazing job with interesting side stories, that you grasp the danger of these two. Although I hoped for more in the ending, the whole book was an awesome ride.

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And with that, I finally finished my Jane Erye reread with my student. She was quite busy and had to prepare for tests, but I got it done this month. I still remembered the basic structure of the story and a lot of what my professor had elucidated about the text, but I’d have to say I’m still left with a bitter taste in my mouth. The whole third act with the priest was utterly useless and boring. The main story took place beforehand and now we’re just waiting. If it had been chopped a little shorter, I’d have been happier—the same thoughts as I had years ago.

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With my other student I tackled Kress’ Beginnings, Middles, and Ends, a story writing book. It had good instruction for beginners of the craft, but I’d have to say for lower students, it wasn’t that superb. I really wish there was a book for young kids that explained well the process of writing books and stories.

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Finally, I got to Rebecca. This is a tough one to judge. First off, the story is slow and super detailed in that old English-assignment-like way. It’s not until halfway through that the story actually starts up and gets good. For this reason, I do think fondly of it, but it was far too layered with little action or excitement in the beginning.

Progress on 2017 goals

  • Finish Crasher: Done
  • Read Life: A Manual: Done

The Fountainhead: Done

Here I Am: Done

  • Send ‘All the Things in the Unknown World’ to agents: 175. I did about 20 or so more. I’m not counting anymore, but I’ve sent some letters out.
  • New Book: got an idea, now I need to start writing.

Next Month’s Agenda

As I expressed above, I have a new idea, so I hope to tackle it this month. Hopefully, I can get an outline to fast-track the writing.

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