Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Salon: February 28, 2016

We are experiencing warm sunny temperatures for the second weekend in a row. I'm beginning to think Kansas will not have a winter this year...


I started - and almost finished - two books this week. It feels SO good to find a book that I greatly enjoy and can hardly put down. That hasn't happened in years...

Continuing my MG reads with a homeschooled protagonist, I picked up My Name is Mina by David Almond (the author of Skellig - an award-winning book that I have not yet read).

There is much I like about this book already. First, it is told in diary form, which means first person almost stream of consciousness. I love getting inside a character's head and learning not only how they act but WHY.

Secondly, I like Mina. She is a precocious child who is truly interested in learning. Not rote memorization because that's the way it's always done, but true learning. Discovering the HOW and the WHY and challenging status quo in order to gain deeper insight.

Of course, this precociousness sets Mina apart from her other classmates, and causes tension with the teachers who desire to maintain a status quo classroom. For these reasons, Mina is homeschooled, where she can spend days questioning and learning about subjects that interest her.

One caveat I have in recommending the book ... Mina's world view is not the same as mine. She questions the existence of Heaven, which leads to some other religious/spiritual uncertainties. As an adult reader, I have no problem with this, but parents who would consider this book for a younger child might want to take this into consideration.

The other I book started on Friday night and have only about fifty more pages to read is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This has been on my TBR list since its release last year. I now wish I had not waited so long to read it: it is FABULOUS!

I knew the premise of the book: Rachel is a young businesswomen who takes the commuter train from the suburbs to London each weekday. To help pass the time, she notices the houses at the train stops and begins to imagine the lives of the people who live there. She pays particular attention to a couple she has named Jess and Jason.

I loved the idea of such an imaginative character. I used to take the commuter train to New York City and could relate to her need to find some activity to help pass the time. I had no idea the book was dark and twisted as well.

This debut author nailed the voice of an unstable alcoholic. Rachel has a difficult time separating reality from her imaginative stories, and she is constantly rationalizing insane behavior. I often find myself shaking my head at her decisions and yet... I must continue reading to discover the consequences.

I'm excited to read future books by this author!


This fiction-writing gig is S-L-O-W  going.

I'm accustomed to personal essays or academic papers where I conduct the research, organize it, develop an outline, then write. I make a few revisions, proof-read, and I'm done. It is easy for me to calculate how much time I need to complete the project. And I have physical evidence which validates the time I spent working on it.

Fiction writing, on the other hand, is not so cut-and-dry.

Just when I think I have the characters figured out, and I can begin to plot, I realize I barely know them at all. So it is back to the development stage.

I grow frustrated with this two-steps-forward and one-step-backward routine, but then I have to remind myself that writing is as much about the process as the product.  I have no deadline, which means I can spend as long as I want on each phase and glean knowledge as I inch along.

So, I have nothing much to share this week except... I am pressing on.


While fiction is way outside my comfort zone, blogging is in my wheel house. Why don't I do more of it? I'm going to journal about that this week.

In the meantime, I did continue my journaling series: Spiritual Journaling Practices (Part 1)

I have plans to return to Totoro Family Recipes next week (I am ready to try cooking again... even if my arm is not completely healed). March will focus on Muffins.

I also want to get back into the French Friday routine to prep for April's A-Z Challenge. Again, travel writing is something I adore: it combines both my passions into a single activity. I'm not sure why I hesitate to pursue this series...

On a final note...

Through blogging friends BethFishReads and LakesideMusing, I discovered a wonderful new app that I hope to use on a regular basis: Litsy. Think Instagram meets GoodReads.

I'm hoping this kind of quick post app will help me engage with other readers on a regular basis, as well as encourage me to read more throughout the week.

If any of you are interested in joining... I'm MyCozyBookNook. I'd love to connect with you.


  1. Sounds like you're healing well and getting back to things you love.

    We had a wet gloppy snow this week that took our power out for six hours. But it's going to nearly 70 again today!

    1. My husband was in St Louis for that gloppy weather :) I almost joined him so I could visit the zoo, but then thought better of it after hearing the forecast.

      Glad you guys have thawed out and can now enjoy some springtime weather!

  2. (Almost) two books read...a little fiction writing...blogging...a good week, I think.

    Now I am off to find out more about this new app....

    1. I'm anxious to hear how you like the app!

      I hope you get to feeling better this week...

  3. I'm so glad you're enjoying The Girl on the Train! I just loved that book! We actually read it for book club. And My Name is Mina sounds like a fun read! I like girls who are inquisitive, they usually make great protagonists!

    Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

    1. Now I just need to find more books like these to keep me motivated to read :)

  4. You have so much on your plate! :) Southern California is having similar weather too. I hope SoCal gets a winter soon. It's one of my favorite seasons. Is Totoro Family Recipes a project you're doing? How long have you been working on it?

    Have a good week!

  5. The Girl on the Train wasn't what I thought it would be. It really wasn't one of my favorite books either. I think it was because I didn't like any of the characters.


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