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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Writer Wednesday: The Silk Roads

On Writer Wednesday, I discuss another author and his or her book. Today's pick is The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan.

I loved this book. I loved this book. I loved this book.

I just had to say that.

I told my husband as I was reading it, "You know a book is really well written when you say, 'I have to keep reading to find out what happens!' and of course you already know since it's history."

Details were uncovered though, in reading this, as if a curtain were being pulled back as Frankopan said, "tada!" and as the reader, I said, "wow!"

On the cover, the blurb says, "A book of dazzling range, ambition and achievement." Yep. I agree.

Spanning centuries, this tells history from the view of the nations that lined the routes of the silk road. With each chapter devoted to a different topic and moving chronologically forward, everything from religion to commerce to contemporary questions of terrorism arise. The title, The Silk Roads, is especially fitting as Frankopan unfolds multiple narratives. It is not a single road, a single history, but many. That is what makes this book so fascinating. Rethinking the relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam or examining the connection between the Middle East and the relationship with the west are just a couple of examples that are covered in this book.

I read a lot of history. A lot. But, I love books like this that fill in missing pieces or draw connections in new ways. And it inspired my next read- to fill in even more pieces- so currently I'm reading the last 1000 years of history in the BBC book: Russia.

My best to you all,

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books that are different from what I usually read that I enjoyed in the last year

Today's Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is top ten books I've read recently (within the last year) that I enjoyed that are different from what I usually read.

These are in no particular order.

1. Book: Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Why is it different than normal? This was my first John Grisham.

Why I liked it: I read this in December and it was nice to see the layers of sorting through the real meaning of Christmas.

2. Book: Dubliners by James Joyce

Why was this different?This was my first James Joyce. I live in Ireland. I had to read Joyce.

Why I liked it: A weaving of several characters from across Dublin came together in an interesting way and I was able to picture many of the places described.

3: Book: Attachments by Raibow Rowell

Why is this different? This story was in the recent past (1999) and is different from an era I usually read about. Emails also played an integral part in this story

Why I liked it: There was an instant friendliness in the characters, as if they were people you really could know- even if you didn't directly relate to them.

4. Book: The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Why is this different? This book is middle grade. haven't read much MG since I was MG and um, was it even called it then?

Why I liked it: My grandparents sent this book, because we have a family of swans that live very near to us. This story, by the author of Charlotte's Web, is hilarious. I loved the illustrations. Also, I read a lot of history. Some of it is very heavy. It was nice to smile with this charming swan.

5. Book: The Spy who Came in from the Cold by John LeCarre

Why is this different? I read classics, but not usually mid-20th century classics.

Why I liked it: I read this, because I was intrigued by the title. There was a lot of suspense in this book and it flew along.

6. Book: Weather Eye by Brendan McWilliams

Why is this different? This was a collection of news columns related to the weather and its phenomena.

Why I liked it: I'm the daughter of a science teacher who was previously a meteorologist for over twenty-five years. This was also Ireland-specific and written in an informative and interesting way.

7.  Book: From 0 to Infinity in 26 Centuries: the Extraordinary Story of Maths by Chris Waring

Why is this different? This was short bursts, rather than a long narrative history of a subject.

Why I liked it: This was written by a math teacher and I'm married to one. I like math. I just don't read about it a lot. Although some of it I knew already, there were enough interesting pieces to teach me something new.

8. Book: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Why is this different? I thought that this was a story about a book shop in Paris and literary prescriptions. I was intrigued! It was, but it was also more of a romance than literary or historical, which makes it something different from what I usually read. And it's also a contemporary book that is in translation. Most translated works I read are older.

Why I liked it: The story was engaging and the journey of Jean Perdu was enlightening. Most of all, I liked the vivid imagery of the story and the literary style of the writing.

9. Book: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

Why is this different? I've read magical realism before, but this felt different enough to include on this list. It's a mash-up of mystery, magical realism, literary, a little romance and everything tied together beautifully.

Why I liked it: I've included this on several top ten lists before because I loved it so much. I don't like dangling story lines. Menna Van Praag tied the stories together in one of the most beautifully- accomplished ways that I've read.

10.  Book: I Never Knew that About Ireland by Christopher Winn

Why was it different? This is a trivia style book. I often uncover trivia when reading and read aloud passages or facts, but I don't often read cover-to-cover trivia books.

Why I liked it: There were so many interesting stories and titbits in this book. I especially enjoyed it, since it's about Ireland and, as mentioned above, I live here.

What books have you enjoyed that are different from what you usually read? Have you read any of these? For that matter, what type of books do you usually read?

My best to you all,

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday- Best Books for Valentine's Day

Today's Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books for Valentine's Day. I've addressed a variety of loves in my list. 

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- Love's power to overcome

2) The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag- Love's enduring legacy and the magical spark of love

3) Juliet by Anne Fortier- Love's connections with the past and a new take on an old favorite

4) Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham - a Love Letter to Dreams and making them happen

5) Shakespeare, specifically, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing- A Love Letter to Words, to Beauty, to Literature and Shakespeare's Restless World by Neil MacGregor- a Love Letter to Lovers of Shakespeare and Elizabethan and Early Stuart England

6) Histories of Nations: How Their Identities were Forged by Peter Furtado- a Love letter to international understanding and cultural exploration

7) Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- a Love Letter to mystery and thrills

8) Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World and The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 both by Margaret MacMillan- a Love Letter to the modern historian

9) Quantum:Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality by Manjit Kumar- a Love Letter to modern science, scientific genius and curiosity

10) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame- A love Letter to timeless stories, enduring characters and a light within the heart

What books are on your top reads for Valentine's Day?

My best to you all,

Monday, February 8, 2016

Reading's Impact on your Writing

What are you reading? 

Books draw others in. They're instant conversation starters. They're also excellent tools for the writer.
Here's how.

Books open you to new settings, new worlds, new characters and can spark new ideas. The more ideas you have, the more in turn you can write. It's no coincidence that some of the most prolific writers are also those that read the most.

Books tutor you in good grammar and teaching you new words. (Make sure that you're reading quality material for this to apply and not something riddled with mistakes. If you're sticking to traditionally published material, though, or well-edited self-published writers, then this will be true.) The more you read, the more you learn how to use punctuation, how to construct effective sentences and the meaning of new words. Reading is the silent teacher. 

Books and book stores put things into perspective. Unless you are already published or have an agent, then chances are a lot of your writing time consists of trying to make the right connections, of landing the right agent or publisher, and of getting that book out there. Here's something to remember, when you walk into a book store, there may be several books that you find equally enticing. Chances are, though, that you won't buy them all. You'll pick one or two. This is how it is for most agents and publishers as well. It doesn't mean that your book isn't great or publishable. It simply means that they're not the right buyer for your product. Keep going. Keep trying. 

This is true. But, reading also expands your identity as an adult. It is a lifelong magic that more fully paints your intellect, your empathy and your curiosity. All are important elements in being an effective writer. 

Reading opens worlds of possibility. That's true for all and especially for writers. 
For all of your editing needs, visit Extra Ink Edits.  Happy Writing and Reading!

My best to you all,

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Writer Wednesday: The Little Paris Bookshop


On Writer Wednesday, I discuss another author and his or her book. Today's pick is The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. I had seen this book reviewed by many, including friends on Goodreads, so I was curious. I was also intrigued by the premise. There's a barge in Paris that's a bookshop, where the owner does not merely sell books, but prescribes them in his literary apothecary for specific ailments. How interesting!

While the book was about that, it was also about a lot of other things- things like a twenty-year broken heart, sacrifice, and above all, learning to live again, when one has stopped doing so. No longer truly living is exactly what Perdu has done. His name, Jean Perdu, is translated as John Lost.

Although different than I had expected it to be, this book flowed with literary style and I highlighted a few passages on my reader. That's a good sign. I don't often highlight on my reader unless I'm editing work. When I highlight an already published book, it's because I want to remember what's been said. Here's some of what I highlighted..


"Perdu reflected that it was a common misconception that booksellers looked after books. They look after people."

" 'Imagine if you had to buy beautiful words before you could use them.'.... 'And "I love you" would cost the most.' 'And twice as much if it's not used sincerely.' 'The poor would have to steal words. Or play charades rather than speak.' 'We should all do that anyway. Loving is a verb, so... do it. Less talk and more action. Right?'"

" 'We all live in wishabelness,' she said. 'Each in a different kind.' " 

"Your color is missing here. It would make everything shine all the more brightly." 

Lastly, I looked up Nina George to find out more about the author and I discovered that she's German. I lived in Germany for nine years when younger, near the border of France, and something about the way that she wrote the book and the ideas expressed within it on living clicked when I found out that she was German and now lives in France. I also think that while the title is what first drew me to this book, the original German title is fitting: The Lavender Room. Lavender plays an important part in this book, is multi-layered, and accurately conveys the tone of the book. In the shadows, lavender is dull, the way that Jean Perdu's life is in the beginning. By awakening, stepping into the sunshine (literally, I'm sure you'll agree, for those who have read it) that lavender bursts alive. In a way, then, Perdu is that lavender room as well. The experiences within that room shape his life and only when he changes the furniture and décor is his room fit for living again.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it?

My best to you all,

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday- Top Ten Historical Settings

Top Ten Historical Settings...

Today's challenge from The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Historical Settings you Love, seems custom-made for me. I studied history focused International Relations in college, I write historical fiction and I love reading both historical fiction and nonfiction. I'm interested in many historical periods, but here are ten of my favorites to read and write about...

1) Interwar years (i.e. 1920s to 1930s)

2) WWI


4) American Revolution

5) Edwardian

6) Victorian

7) American Civil War

8) Renaissance

9) Medieval

10) Viking and Celtic

If you're wondering why the various wars are of particular interest to me, I've written all about that here.

What are your favorite historical periods to read about or write about?

My best to you all,