Disclaimer: This post will not contain spoilers, just feelings & thoughts.

I am taking James Patterson’s Masterclass on writing a novel. I am plugging away on an idea that came to me and it is interesting to see how much it is transforming and how ideas come at the oddest times.

In this course, he discusses how to end a book. He asks the students to analyze our favorite endings in both books and movies. Instantly three book endings came to mind that I want to share.

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The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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“The Age of Innocence” is probably my favorite book of all time.

This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 (first woman to win) and it is well deserved. This was the first book my Wharton I’ve read and have read it twice so far in life. I could go on and on about my love for the whole thing, but for the sake of this post (and your attention!) I will stick to why it is my favorite endings.

The first time I read this through, I closed the book, went up stairs and fell across the bed and said to husband, “This book…and the ending…” It was very dramatic the way this happened but no shame. I actually swoon over the ending. The way Wharton writes and how she sets everything up and her characters just make this one of the most perfect endings ever. Even thinking about it now I watch to clutch my heart with both hands and bow my head.

When I read through it a second time, I remembered the ending but I still held out hope for a different ending. Kind of like when you watch the movie Titanic and you hope the boat misses the ice burg, or when in Office Space as Peter is saving his work for the day. You still hold out hope that the computer will save before he runs into Lumburgh.

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Although the ending, of course, never changes, I still have that heart-clutching feeling at the end. Well done, Edith Wharton….well done.

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THE STORY OF THE LOST CHILD by Elena Ferrante

To be fair, the ending of this book is the ending to the entire Neapolitan novels series. And I felt it to be quite satisfying. It isn’t swoon worthy, but I felt it was a great way to conclude the series and the book as a stand-alone.  Image resultThe best way I can describe the feeling I had was a solid, single head nod. A resounding, “Yep!” comes to mind. One that I feel made sense and made all 4 of the novels wrap up nicely and worth reading. It felt real, true, and honest.


THE WHISPERER by Donato Carrisi

A book not for the faint of heart. It is violent and unnerving but so so good. Another Italian author (Ferrante the other) on this list so I assume Italians know how to do an ending! At least Italian writers.Image result for the whisperer

Because this book is not for the faint of heart, the ending isn’t either. I found it to be awesome. I can’t give it away but it is pretty wild and original.

What are some of your favorite endings?

I do not know who Elena Ferrante is – nor does anyone for that matter – but she has written a series of novels that have latched into my heart and brain and will stay there. Like other characters in books that I love, the characters are what stay with me. If a writer can create a story around people who you forget are fictional, they have done a great job indeed.

I am not one to retell the plot in my reviews. Instead I like to get right into it.

First of all, the covers. They always say not to judge a book by its cover and honestly I judged these and judged them hard. I’ve seen them in my local bookstore many times, but skipped over them because, frankly, they look like boring Chick-Lit. Not that there is anything wrong with Chick-Lit – I used to be a huge Emily Giffin fan in my early 20s – but it is not a genre I enjoy anymore because I can never relate to or sympathize with the characters.  With these covers I assumed that they would be fluff, written about women who are cliche and lead boring lives.

I was way wrong.

I had heard a few podcasts mention how great these were but I was skeptical. Finally, while visiting someone in Ohio, I stopped off at an independent bookshop determined to buy something to lend my support. I saw “My Brilliant Friend” (Book 1)  on display in the center of the store. As my husband tried to rush me out, I thought, “Why not?” I took it to the register and walked out with the book in hand. It took me a few weeks to begin reading it and once I did I couldn’t stop.

I read the first three novels back-to-back with other shorter books in between. I did not start on the fourth right away because I wanted to savor the last book, these characters and the story Ferrante weaved.

The characters are flawed in a very real way. Every single person you feel like you could know or have known, could be a neighbor or even someone in your own family. Hell, they could even be yourself.  I found myself rooting for and against every character, even the “bad guys.” In my opinion there were no good or bad guys. There were, of course, more obvious bad guys but when it came down to the root of the story, everyone was trying to survive the best way they knew how and the only way they knew how.

They all embarked on lives, careers, marriages, and parenthood in a way that is honest.  People fall on hard times, people grow apart and back together, marriages happen out of convenience or out of trying to escape. We have all had a friend we loved but also hated, felt safe with and feared, celebrated yet resented.  We’ve all idolized people or a life we long for, the what-could-have-beens and the what-should-have -beens.

This book has all of those things and so much more.

The Neapolitan Novels are not filled with jaw-dropping moments (although, I admit, I did at least once), I doubt anyone will cry their eyes out. I also believe that these are autobiographical novels…. But what will capture you are how real these people and their stories are. The plot is not one that is a “what happens next!” kind but somehow Ferrante kept me engaged so deeply that I felt I was in Naples, Italy growing up along side Lila and Elena. I felt their pain, their loss, their struggles, their joys, their lust, their anger…all of it.

When I read the last pages and last sentences, I felt like I had experienced an entire life. In fact, these novels span and entire lifetime from a very young age to old age. I’ve read a few books like this (most recently “Panchinko”) but none have done it so successfully as these novels. They are deep and engaging.

If you are looking for a real, gritty, honest set of novels about two female friends and their lifetime together, this is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Hello Readers!

The last quarter of 2016 was an odd one for me and I did not do much reading at all. I had lost my passion for it – along with other things – due to reasons I’d rather not discuss on the internet. ha!  Let’s just say I was taken out and lost a lot of the joy I usually find in many things. I am back to it and in January I culled my To Be Read (TBR) list and decided to begin the Re-Read Project to ignite the bookworm in me once again.

All 3 below are so different from each other and makes for great, diverse reading.

As a bonus, queued up is :

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. 

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The 3 Books I am Excited to Read

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth…But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand

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Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters, #1)

When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.  

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Pachinko

follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

One of my goals this year is to read more and read faster. I have so many books on my reading list and as a slow reader – not a good combination…

When I think of reading, I think of sitting in a window seat, overlooking the streets of Paris, with the gentle Spring breeze gently blowing the curtains…a cup of coffee on a delicate table and I, comfortable in a dressing robe, reading my day away.

Alas, I do not live in Paris, I do not have a window seat and it is certainly not Spring. I’ve always heard people say how they squeeze reading in during the day. I never could do that because I always felt like I needed to “get into” the book for a solid period of time. While I do schedule at least 1 hour per day reading (yes, I mark it as a task on my to-do list) I want to get in more.

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Yesterday my work computer was updating. While it did it’s thing I thought I’ll just read a few pages while this updates. I ended up finishing about 10 pages or so while the computer ran it’s updates. It got me thinking of opportunities to read during the day that I otherwise would not have thought:

  1. While waiting for your phone or tablet to charge
  2. Boiling water – A watched pot never boils, so why not read?
  3. As food item cooks in above water – watched food never cooks.
  4. At the deli counter – the meat slicer is going, you may as well use that time wisely!
  5. At a red light – And if the person behinds you beeps when the light turns green they obviously do not understand the importance of finishing a paragraph before re-inserting the bookmark.
  6. During a conference call you really do not need to be on – Caution advised
  7. Schedule a 30 minute meeting and hide in the bathroom – no one will know….
  8. While on hold with customer service – Your call may be important to them, but your time isn’t
  9. When a friend or family member puts you on hold – see above
  10. Waiting in line to buy or check out books – may as well get a head start.
  11. Laundry time – whether at a laundromat or not, use that time wisely!
  12. Pumping gas – safer than smoking a cigarette
  13. While your dog is doing his/her business
  14. As the coffee is brewing or tea kettle going
  15. Arrive to an appointment early and read in your car – waiting rooms are too loud and chaotic.
  16. Waiting for food at a carry out or drive through
  17. Software updates – This could take a while…
  18. During a dish washing cycle – maximize the free time.
  19. At a 4-way stop sign – no one can decide who goes first anyway…
  20. At an amusement park while others get in line for a roller coaster — up to an hour wait? No problem!

Hello, readers.

For Christmas I got $50 total in Barnes and Noble gift cards and after careful consideration, I decided to buy three books.


DEAD WAKE-  THE LAST CROSSING OF THE LUSITANIA

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My goal for the last few years has been to read more books by male authors. It may be just me, but it seems like novels by women dominate the shelves. Obviously, how each gender writes and their topics are different, so I want to explore more male fiction writers since finishing book 2 of The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin. This has been on my T.B.R. (to be read) list for many months. I’m looking forward to this one.


THE HISTORIAN

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A guest on the podcast “What Should I Read Next” listed this as one of her favorites and it sounded awesome and right up my reading ally. Anything that has to do with untangling secrets of the past I am all in.


CHOCOLAT

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I am not much of a re-reader – hence the re-read project – but this one I have read twice: once in 2013 and a second in 2015. I own it in EBook form but needed to own it in paper form. At the end of my days on this planet, I want people to find this book and see it has been read and loved. I want it dog eared, binding separating, cover creased…the works. I love this book so much.


THE RE-READ PROJECT

I am approaching the final pages of Lessons from Madame Chic and up next is another personal favorite: THE AGE OF INNOCENCE

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This was a book where after I read the last sentence, I went up stairs to my husband and collapsed on the bed, longing to discuss it. haha! I want to experience that again as I only recall the feeling and not the details. Now THAT is a good book!