Wednesday, January 1, 2014

LAST LATE Latest Reads of 2013 Sprinkled with a Little Reflection

First, let me start by wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful and prosperous NEW YEAR!

This is my 12th and final ‘Latest Reads’ for 2013 (yeah, I know my first post of 2014 is a LATE 2013 post...). Keeping this blog over the past year has be a lot of fun and it is my intention to continue in the New Year (LATE or otherwise)!

And as one year ends and another begins, there is always that time for reflection. I love the reflection part of any situation…it always means one thing is being brought to a close and another is just starting. So the questions arise…how do I best approach this new task to be successful? Should I do things differently or did I like the previous outcome? Or how can I do it better? I reflect constantly…after each lesson, at the end of each day, in the car, on a run, in the grocery store, during yoga (even though I’m technically NOT supposed to be doing that during yoga time). I’m always looking for ways to improve as a teacher, as a writer, as a human being, which sometimes simply means owning my failures (I fail A LOT) and working hard NOT to make the any mistake more than once.

This year, reflection time brought a flood of emotions, as I thought back about everything that happened in a seemingly short amount of time. It was a poignant and insightful year of personal, profession and physical growth. Professionally, I accomplished quite a few goals in both teaching and writing. Personally, I lost my last living grandparent, but I take comfort in the fact I was so incredibly lucky to have had 38 years with her. She was a caring, kind, wonderful, selfless human being and always had a special twinkle in her eye when she smiled. I aspire to be more like her every day. It also seemed to be a year of amazing epiphanies and several humbling experiences, but overall, I feel blessed beyond belief to have the truly amazing support team I have. And physically, I ran a quarter marathon, which felt amazing to complete from start (the moment I committed to doing it) to finish (literally crossing the finish line).  I could continue to relish in the greatness of last year or tell you about my next book release…”IF THE SILVER SLIPPERS FIT…” AVAILABLE ON AMAZON SUNDAY, JANUARY 5, 2014, but I’d rather talk books J, so on with the very LAST LATE Latest Reads of 2013: December…

The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett:

OK, this was so far out of my wheelhouse, it took me five months to finish it. In this story, a woman in her early forties has been completely comfortable being a companion to a gay man for over 20 years. They have traveled together, lived together, leaned on each other, and performed magic together…they were insanely important in each other’s lives. And then, just like that, he’s gone. This 'magician’s assistant' must find a way to cope and live her life again. I gave it four stars because it is a well written piece of literature. The characters are realistic and believable, and with Patchett’s talent, she is able to paint pictures in the mind of the reader with her words. So why did it take me so long to read it? I didn’t like the main character. I found her to be weak and somewhat oblivious. I found myself rolling my eyes over and over that this woman had given up everything to be nothing more than a side kick to a man she could never have. I will admit; it was nice to see her character grow and develop over time, but I still didn’t care for her at the end.

Final thought: It wasn't my cup of storyline tea, but the writing is superb.

Solstice by Damian Stevens:

I received this book free from the author in exchange for a review. In this horror story, we follow Dana on a twisted and terrifying journey. Right away, Stevenson leads with mental illness which grips the reader and catches one’s interest. The more I read, the more I liked Dana and leaned toward believing her, but there was that shadow of doubt where I questioned her sanity. Then the occult was introduced and I could hardly keep up with the path of twists and turns the author took me on. This novella could rival any of the horror flicks in the theaters.
Final thought: A page turner for the horror lover!

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories Series) by Chris Colfer:

I started reading this because a few of the girls in my writing class brought some copies back from the book fair. With my affection for fairy tales and my incessant need to know what other people (adults and kids) are reading, it seemed like a no-brainer for me to download this one, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s cute and I’m sure tweens all over the place would enjoy this book! All of our favorite fairy tales creature and critters make an appearance and interact in the Land of Stories. The main characters, fraternal twins Conner and Alex, fall unexpectedly into the book, “The Land of Stories” and find themselves with an almost unattainable method to return home: The Wishing Spell. Again, it’s really cute. Think “Once Upon a Time” for elementary kids.

Final thought: I’ll read the next one. Popular elementary books are great research for me!

Thanks so much for tuning in! Wishing you all the best in 2014!

Coming up in the January edition of Latest Reads 2014
(which probably won’t be out until Feb…haha)

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Persephone’s Orchard by Molly Ringle