September has been a month of average reading. Nothing I felt the urge to throw at the wall, and no DNFs, but neither has anything won the coveted five cookies and a cuppa rating (hey, it’s coveted in my world. I need more of those sort of books!).
I did realise I wasn’t exactly being gripped by a couple of them when I found myself watching old Blink-182 vids and Kitchen Nightmares snippets on YouTube instead of reading. Ahem. Look, they can’t all be winners, right?
Anyhow, the best read of the month was definitely Stephen Fry’s Making History (no YouTube interruptions), followed by The Rabbit Back Literature Society (only a couple of YouTube incidents). And it was overall a month of interesting reads as well, because often when something doesn’t work for me as a reader it sets me thinking about my own writing and what I can learn from the things I don’t like (i.e. hopefully create characters people don’t want to shake sense into …)
And all that aside, let’s get to the ratings!
Plot Gardening, Chris Fox. Not my first attempt to try and learn to plot. I found it much more accessible than Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, and I liked the idea of gradually building up the layers of story. Nothing earth-shattering, but nice techniques. Of course, my characters still ran off screaming in various directions, and I did my usual plot-as-I-go thing, but, still. Good info, so four cookies.
“The easiest way to break down the idea of a novel is into a series of setups, followed by corresponding payoffs. … If you remember just one thing from this book, always setup your payoffs, and payoff your setups. … If you don’t, you’ll leave dangling plot threads.”
― Chris Fox, Plot Gardening
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan. Beautiful writing, interesting world, and a protagonist I just wanted to shake, or possibly send to her bed without supper. Only she wouldn’t have gone, as she’d have been two busy choosing between two indistinguishable love interests and endangering everyone around her. Sigh. I’m definitely more a fan of middle grade than young adult. Three cookies for the lovely writing and world building.
“Who are we if not the stories we pass down? What happens when there’s no one left to tell those stories? To hear them? Who will ever know that I existed? What if we are the only ones left — who will know our stories then? Who will remember those?”
― The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Making History, Stephen Fry. I love Stephen Fry. And I love his books – well, all three that I’ve read, anyway. And Making History is a wonderful blend of alternate history sci-fi and a really nice coming of age, I guess? Certainly a lovely character arc for the protagonist, although he, also, I wanted to shake for much of the first half. I’m starting to feel this might be me rather than the books. Four to five cookies (and check out my book chat on Mythos for more Stephen Fry goodness).
“It’s as if scientists exert every effort of will they possess deliberately to find the least significant problems in the world and explain them. Art matters. Happiness matters. Love matters. Good matters. Evil matters. Slam the fridge door. They are the only things that matter and they are of course precisely the things that science goes out of its way to ignore.”
― Making History
Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All, Jonas Jonasson. Okay, I didn’t want to shake anyone in this, although I did want to shake someone in the previous Jonas Jonasson book I read (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window & Disappeared). But that may be because the POV in this was so distant that I never connected to the characters in the slightest, so couldn’t be bothered shaking them. It was quite funny, though, so it earns three cookies for that.
“The priest and the receptionist joyfully and contentedly shared their genuine dislike of the world, including the entirety of the Earth’s population. The burden was now only half as great, since each of them could take on three and a half billion people rather than seven billion alone.”
― Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All
The Rabbit Back Literature Society, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen. A beautiful, atmospheric book, full of magic and mythology. Also really quite odd, but in a generally good way. Includes such wonderful things as infectious library books and dream-hauntings, and full of the very real magic that is books. And I didn’t want to shake anyone.
“A person shouldn’t talk too much, Ella realised. With writing, you could construct a whole world, but talking too much could demolish it.”
― The Rabbit Back Literature Society
Now let me know what you’ve been reading this month, lovely people! And what characters you’d just like to give a good shake …
book chat, book recommendations, book review, Stephen Fry
I hadn’t heard of Plot Gardening: Write Faster, Write Smarter, it looks great! I do love Save the Cat, but like you, I tend to follow my characters with the end in mind. I’ll definitely check it out! 🙂
I’ll be interested to know what you think of it! It was definitely more accessible for me personally, but nothing, NOTHING ever seems to make the characters do what they’re told. Brats.