I was reading online about blogging this morning. The blog contained all the ins and outs of how to be a successful blogger, and I experienced this wave of nostalgia of my own blogging in the past. I decided to retrace my steps and check out what I was saying 3 years ago (almost 4). Of course, I had no idea what my password was from then, so that took a minute. Then I began to reread my posts. Perfectionism sometimes haunts me when it comes to writing and presentation, so of course, I spent the first few moments wishing I could edit everything, but then I realized I had almost quit before I started, so since no one really WAS reading my posts anyway, I needed to let go of it all.
What did happen that was positive for me, was a reigniting of my love for reading and sharing with others what I was reading. My love for books has never faded. In this year alone, I have read over 50 books, and many times I have wanted to write about them, but the self shame of quitting this blog midstream overtook me. Ha! I actually read Brene’ Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection last year for obvious reasons! Anyway, a funny thing happened in the midst of all this personal angst; I clicked on the “+” sign and began to write.
New beginnings are my jam. I love the excitement of them, the possibilities of the places a new beginning holds, the unknown, the anticipation of the journey, and the sense of adventure that floods me are all intoxicating. The anticipation and the passion of what’s behind the door I have chosen fill me with new energy and renewal. What is NOT so easy and exciting is the “keep on keepin’ on” that is required to continue to work on the passion I feel in the moment of the new beginning high. Negative self talk floods into me…”You are a such a loser! You never finish anything! No one is going to read this, so why bother? I mean, have you seen some of the oh so talented bloggers online?…and so it goes. But, you know what? I then began to hear, “You are a fanatical reader. People are always texting or emailing and asking you for book recommendations. You can do this and maybe help other readers. You really can do this.”
So, here I am, beginning again to pick up the threads of what I once thought was exhilarating. I’m committing myself to this blog, to this dream of combining two of my most favorite passions, and to finishing the race of whatever this is. I do not have a business plan, an end goal, a magic number of followers in mind. I do want to be true to myself and to this dream of combining my reads, my love of sharing with others about them, along with writing and rejoining the blogging world. I used to tell my high school students this mantra, and it seems I need to hear it myself, even in this stage of my life. The mantra is, “Everyday is a new day. Everyone has their own journey, so forgive yourself for yesterday. Shake it off as Taylor Swift taught us, find or revisit the road with your name on it and begin again.”
‘Let’s get started!
My search for a “knock your socks off book” to kick off 2015 was taking more time than I anticipated. I had put aside reading for a bit in order to enjoy all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and was itchy to find just the right fix for my reading addiction. I perused websites, read reviews, looked at authors I already knew and loved, only to turn up empty handed.
For my first book of 2015, I wanted something out of the ordinary, something that would jump-start my reading energy and set 2015 on fire!
I decided on Stephen King’s Revival. I have never been a big fan of horror, or in depth studies into the spirit world, so reading Stephen King seemed out of character for me. However, in the last few years, King has departed from his horror stricken past and entered into the world of crime suspense and mystery. For me, I felt as though I had discovered a new author. Even though he is a familiar face and has quite a resume of titles, Mr. King and I had never officially met!
Revival is about an evangelist named Charles Jacobs. This minister is a complicated mixture of intelligence, curiosity, spirituality, power, as well as grief and heartache. King magically allows us into the complex universe of Rev. Charles Jacobs, but also and more intimately, into the world and mind of a young boy named, Jamie Morton. These two characters draw us into a suspenseful plot filled with twists and dark turns that keep us turning the page thinking we can stop after just one more.
I found a most delightful surprise in reading Stephen King and discovering what a master wordsmith as well as outstanding story-teller he truly is. Many times, I wanted to stop and reread over and over his descriptions and word choices, to savor and enjoy them again and again.
Revival begins in a small town with a new young pastor, Rev. Charles Jacobs and a small boy, Jamie Morton, meeting for the first time. Their relationship develops and disintegrates throughout the book many times over. The setting is innocent and the relationship is seemingly benign with no alarms going off in the reader’s mind. Glimpses of a darker foreshadowing come a little later into the book.
The eternal questions of “Where is God when bad things happen to good people?” and “Can I redo my past by changing my decisions in the moment?” are woven throughout key experiences of the main characters. I found King depicting the struggle between Good and Evil in our lives on almost every page.
To me, the first 3/4 of the novel flowed beautifully with passages that are poignant and touching. The writing was seamless, and the characters became easily attached to the reader. I was hooked and every day, could not wait to put down my daily activities and settle back into this story without delay. King used all the ingredients of a successful “reading 5 course meal”. He introduced sympathetic characters I sometimes liked and sometimes didn’t, as if I was a puppet and King was pulling all the strings. He spun a story that was both intriguing as well as believable, even allowing for the suspension of disbelief in the ending.
As a reader I vividly lived as well as loved this story. I couldn’t see how it would end until it did. Even though King is a master of creating tension and pacing, the last 1/4 of the book was like trying to keep a speeding car on a curving and treacherous road all the while , constantly praying you and your passengers make it to your destination safely. I was, in many ways, almost relieved to come to the final page and in other ways I was left wanting. Now that is indicative of a good read!
My thanks to Stephen King, for his masterful storytelling, his powerful use of suspense, and his creative presentation of the war between Good and Evil we all battle every day.
Yep….its true. I have a serious book-reading obsession. I love to talk about books, surf the web looking for books, write about books, and ultimately, read books into the wee hours. This intense (although platonic) love affair began when I was a little girl and it has continued until this day. I’m not ashamed of it, but I do feel a sense of relief in confessing to you my passion. Maybe I need validation, and just maybe I may believe I am not alone.
As you can imagine, a blog about reading and (sometimes about writing) books is simply an outpouring of my personal book attachment disorder. As a child I lived in a home where every room had stacks and stacks of books. They stood at attention, side by side, on bookshelves, perched on nightstands, reclined on coffee tables and were even found carelessly placed on the bathroom counter, waiting to be opened in privacy. Even the idea of being without a book could throw me into such a panic…well, I just have to have a book.
Sometimes, I wonder why I have such an obsession with books and reading. I grew up in the Bible Belt in a pastor’s home. We didn’t know we were poor, but we did not have much in the way of material things. Books became my mode of transportation around the world and back. Traveling to other countries only took a turn of the page. As I grew into adulthood, my world became more complex as social issues became thematic in the books I read. I was able to privately read about women in crisis, racial discrimination, and other social issues not openly discussed. (Just now, the Disney song, “A Whole New World” just popped into my head!)
While my children were growing up, I had questions and insecurities about what to do in certain circumstances. The first thing to pop into my head was, “I need to find a book about this!” Parenting is not easy and no one has all the answers. Books became a place I could find answers without showing my ignorance and confusion.
So, what does an obsessive compulsive reader take on as a career? Why a 6th grade Reading and Language Arts teacher, of course!! My job every day was to help young minds fall in love with reading and become life-long readers. How fun can that be? Well, I LOT of fun, I will tell you!!
Hopefully, you can now begin to understand my connection to reading and books. Every year, I would tell my students, “Hey, I need to tell y’all something, but you have to promise not to tell anyone, especially not your parents. Ok?” Of course, they all pinky promised. I would let the class become quiet as a funeral home parlor. Then, I would whisper loudly, “I have a problem. I loovvee books!! And here’s the secret part…. when I go to Barnes and Noble, I open up the book I am contemplating buying and I look around to see if anyone is watching….I slide my hand across the inside to see if I like the weight of the paper ….and then I SNIFF the pages!! No joke, I really do!”
I had been on a quest for a new book for several days when I stumbled onto Reconstructing Amelia. The book had come out the first week of April and I immediately knew I had hit pay dirt . Catchy title, interesting storyline…Boom! I sampled….I read…I purchased. Ahh…I curled up in my big comfy chair and I was in heaven!
Reconstructing Amelia is Kimberly McCreight’s first novel, and I love reading first-time novelists! It is sort of like being a judge on American Idol and discovering the next big pop star, or buying the winning lottery ticket at the corner store. I literally feel such a thrill finding a super-talented writer before everyone else. It is one of the fun parts of being a Roving Reader!
Here are some things I thought were exceptional about Reconstructing Amelia:
The storyline is compelling and the action begins immediately…an upwardly mobile professional single mom receives a call while in the midst of an important presentation. The call is from the administrator of her teenage daughter’s private school. She must come immediately to pick her up because she was expelled. I know, sounds pretty typical, but within the next few pages, the action turned so quickly, I could hardly catch my breath. So much for a ho-hum run of the mill storyline!
It was also intriguing how quickly I became instantly connected emotionally to each of the main characters through the writer’s use of voice. The characters are clearly fleshed out as each one told their own personal story. I was so drawn into the mind of Amelia, her friends, and her mother because McCreight allowed me in, without giving too much information (which is boring), or not giving enough cohesive facts to piece things together on my own. Kudos to you, Ms. McCreight!
McCreight’s writing style reminds me a little of Jodi Picoult, author of books like My Sister’s Keeper, and most recently, The Storyteller.
Picoult is renowned for attacking complicated family issues and bringing the reader to the table of compassion and understanding. She is a master of breathing life into her mostly flawed characters and magically causing readers to really care about them. The intensity and complexity of the plot is similar to Gillian Flynn’s Gone
Girl,…the dark psychological hit thriller from last year. Flynn’s ability to weave her story with all the twists and turns of driving a country road without headlights, makes her a stand alone talent. In McCreight’s first debut, her plot line, while on another route, brings us to a familiar dark country road…and the driver (reader) has never been here before.
So, for those of you who are on the hunt for the next good read and are searching hopelessly on book websites, book stores, and asking friends for recommendations….I definitely would suggest Reconstructing Amelia.
What more could you want? An up and coming new author, compelling characters, teenage angst, and the thrill of weaving through dark country roads without headlights. Read on Rovers!