25 August 2008

Book Banter -- The Ex-Debutante

Title: The Ex-Debutante
Author: Linda Francis Lee
Pages: 341
Genre: chick-lit
Plot Basics: Carlisle Wainwright Cushing goes home to her old moneyed life in Texas and gets sucked into her family's drama. She's representing her own mother in a messy divorce case, opposing counsel is none other than Carlisle's old flame Jack Blair, and she's been tapped to save the Willow Creek Symphony Debutante Ball. Carlisle didn't do so well at her own deb ball, and after school, ran to Boston to create a new life away from the Texas social scene. Nevertheless, Carlisle digs into all the projects and discovers you can go home again.
Banter Points: This was a very light read.
Bummer Points: This was a very light read and it had some problems along the way. Lee worked in a few flashback scenes where the transition from present day to past was so small that Word Nerd had to reread the scene to figure out what time period it was in. There were characters that had similar names (Carlisle's niece Morgan and another character was named Nellie Morgan).
Word Nerd Recommendation: Skip it. If you're hoping for something like Susan McBride's "Debutante Dropout" series, this isn't it (though Word Nerd thinks a few dead bodies could have helped this book... )

20 August 2008

Book Banter -- Big City, Bad Blood

Title: Big City, Bad Blood
Author: Sean Chercover
Length: 294 pages
Genre: mystery
Plot Basics: Chicago PI Ray Dudgeon is hired to protect a film locations manager who's now a chief witness against the Chicago Mob. As Dudgeon struggles to keep him safe, he ends up in the middle a full-blown Outfit turf-war and the stakes for both Dudgeon and his client living through the whole ordeal get higher and higher.
Banter Points: Word Nerd doesn't know why she waited so long to read this book. She met Chercover a few years ago and bought the book. And since then, it sat on her shelf while she's read tons of other books. But Word Nerd's determined to get through all the books she owns, and this was one of the ones she started with. This was a great new mystery with a complex PI character in Ray Dudgeon that readers will want to read more about in future books.
Bummer Points: There's a torture scene in this book that's a little tough to read.
Word Nerd Recommendation: If you like Robert Parker's Spenser, then Chercover's Ray Dudgeon is a guy you need to meet.

BONUS: Sean Chercover will be the Mystery Company in Carmel, IN, with fellow thriller writer Marcus Sakey on Oct. 23.

18 August 2008

Book Banter -- Water for Elephants

Title: Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Length: ~390 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Plot Basics: Jacob Jankowski never intended to join the circus. But after a tragic event right at the end of his education to be a veterinarian, he has few options left and ends up with the Benzini Brothers circus during the height of the Depression. There, he tries to fit in with circus life -- not quite a hired-hand, not quite a performer either -- caring for the animals and along the way, caring for the circus performers themselves.
Banter Points: This books is fabulous. Gruen weaves the historical elements in with the plot in such a way that neither is garish. Jacob is a lovable narrator and protagonist and the rest of the book is populated with the colorful characters only a book about a circus could have.
Bummer Points: Nothing comes to mind...
Word Nerd Recommendation: Two thumbs up. Read it. Watch for it on Word Nerd's best books she read this year list.

Bonus note: Unrelated to the book, this is Word Nerd's 600th post. That deserves some sort of celebration right?

14 August 2008

Stuck in the middle...

This must sound like a never-ending tale of woe, what with Word Nerd writing another post about how she's still editing the middle of her manuscript.

But she still is. And right now, it may be manuscript 0, Word Nerd 1.

Yesterday, she spent a good 90 minutes working on 5 pages. 5. That's 18 minutes a page. That seems like a lot when sometimes she can work through an entire chapter in less than 90 minutes.

This chapter -- chapter 16, to be precise -- needs the serious work. Hopefully, the time spent is making it better. Word Nerd reworked most of the beginning of the chapter and is going to go back to it tonight to finish it off and make sure the whole thing works. Last night, she got rid of one huge info dump and hopefully punched up the level of conflict throughout the scene, hinting at part of the protagonist's past that should help the reader understand her a little better.

The word count fluctuator changes slightly, but keeps hovering between 126,000-127,000 words. Right now, Word Nerd's hoping to keep the story under 130K, though if it needs more, it'll get more.

08 August 2008

Book Meme

Word Nerd found this great book meme on Worderella's blog and decided she should play along.

Hardcover or paperback, and why?
Word Nerd is usually down with both. Hardcovers are nice because they are more durable, but they are heavy to lug around. (Have you schlepped any of the later Harry Potter books through an airport?) Paperbacks are nice for travel and are somewhat easier to curl up with. Word Nerd is a equally opportunity reader...

If I were to own a book shop I would call it…
No idea on this one. Word Nerd's aspirations have never been on the book-selling end of the spectrum.

My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is…
"I'm not dead. A dim realization but an important one, because I should have died." -- from Nick Sagan's Idlewild.

The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be…
C.S. Lewis. Reading Chronicles of Narnia as a kid is what inspired me to be a writer. Of course, as an adult, Word Nerd has been moved by his writing on Christianity as well.

If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except from the SAS survival guide, it would be…
Watership Down by Richard Adams. Adventure. Community. Comedy. Loss. This book's got it all.

I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that…
Would automatically write down the quotes that really impress so there's no need to dog-ear pages or stop reading just to go find a pen.

The smell of an old book reminds me of…
The old library Word Nerd visited as a child. The building's been refurbished and doesn't smell right anymore.

If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…
Joanne Baldwin from Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series. She's a leading lady with a great fashion sense, a love of fast cars, a sweet supernatural power and a gorgeous guy. Of course, Word Nerd thinks it would also be a riot to be Harry Potter. Flying on brooms, doing magic, going to Hogwarts, etc. (maybe not the fighting Voldemort part...)

The most overestimated book of all times is…
Old Man and the Sea. It's 110 pages about a guy chasing a fish.

I hate it when a book…
Flips into the head of the serial killer when the rest of the book is from the POV of the detective/FBI agent/stalking victim etc. WHY put the reader in the killer's head when it would keep the suspense up more to just stay in the single POV of the main character.

If you do this book meme, post a comment with the link!

07 August 2008

Book Banter -- Dead Beat

Title: Dead Beat (Dresden Files, bk. 7)
Author: Jim Butcher
Length: 393 pages
Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal
Plot Basics: Harry Dresden must save all of Chicago from a group of necromancers who plan on sucking the life (literally) out of the city on Halloween. Harry's only back-up? His half-brother, the vampire Thomas, Butters a bumbling medical examiner with an affinity for polka, and his dog, Mouse. Oh, and possibly a fallen angel...
Banter Points: Word Nerd had been eager to get back to the Dresden Files and see what was up with Harry and this book didn't disappoint. Again (and without too many spoilers) the stakes for Harry went higher as he continues to choose to put himself in danger to save others. Butcher also expertly brings in plot threads from other books to make this an intricate plot.
Bummer Points: Maybe it was Butters and the polka thing, or the fact that Murphy was not in this story, but this was not the best of the Dresden Files. A good entry in the series, but just not the best.
Word Nerd Recommendation: If you haven't gotten the message yet, this series is a great read.

05 August 2008

Book Banter -- Breaking Dawn

Title: Breaking Dawn (Twilight Saga, bk. 4)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Length: 754 pages
Genre: YA paranormal
Plot Basics: Bella Swan is done with high school and ready to become Mrs. Edward Cullen in a lavish wedding. And as she prepares for forever with Edward, old and new challenges rise up to threaten their chance at happiness.
Banter Points: To avoid the risk of too many spoilers, Word Nerd will say that she liked how the series wrapped up. She's certain that much like the Harry Potter finale, other fans will be wickedly disappointed, but she's satisfied with what Meyer did.
Bummer Points: Liked the ending, yes, but not thrilled. Far from thrilled, because it's apparent that Meyer only has one story to tell. "Breaking Dawn" rang similarly to the end of "The Host." Meyer seems to have one story only -- add a love triangle, some creepy bad guys, a never-before seen thing, and a chance for a happy ending and BAM! One of her books is done.
Word Nerd Recommendation: This series is worth the read, but Word Nerd's seen interviews with Meyer where she's planning to do a bunch more writing. Word Nerd will approach her new stuff with quite a bit more skepticism.

04 August 2008

July 2008 Bibliometer

July was another bumper month for reading. Here's the totals:

July 2008
10 books
3100 pages
avg. 100 pages/day

61 books
20,422 pages
average book length = 334 pages.

YTD, Word Nerd is 10 books ahead of where she was in 2007.

01 August 2008

New books...

There are few things in life that make Word Nerd wish she was 16 or 17 years old again.

As a whole, those were tough years of high school with a full slate of AP classes, college applications, high school newspaper staff, church youth group, drama practice and boys who were oblivious to the fact that she would have enjoyed doing something with them other than studying.

However, for once, the midnight release tonight of "Breaking Dawn" makes Word Nerd wish she was about a decade younger than she is.

Like gobs of other people, Word Nerd can not wait to find out what happens in this book to end the series. The cover art is so darn cool. And getting to read more about Edward Cullen... well, here's where Word Nerd needs to be younger to feel like she can be this excited about a fictional teenage character. (Or, do his years as a vampire mean he's really older?)

If Word Nerd was 17, she might contemplate going to the midnight release party. As someone older than 17, it seems... what's the word here... inappropriate? Yes, she went to the midnight Harry Potter #7 release party, but she was in the company of cape-wearing, wand-waving children. (She was only encouraging them by wearing her robes...ahem.)

Back to "Breaking Dawn," she's got the book on hold at the Indianapolis library, number 21 of as of 8:45 this morning, 261 hold requests. The library's got some 40 copies or so listed as for purchase, so she's pretty hopeful she'll get the book either tomorrow or Sunday. Not matter when she gets it, she'll probably drop whatever she's doing and read it straight through, staying up late to finish, etc.

Sigh. It could be a good weekend. Or a bad one, depending on the ending.

Also in book news today, J.K. Rowling will have another book on the shelves in time for Christmas -- The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

A bit more cynical in her old age, Word Nerd was waiting for this to happen -- all the Harry Potter ancillary volumes and spin-offs and such. That said, Beedle will likely go on her Christmas wish list.