50 Books to Read—Two to Write

Busy book year! I am working toward my goal of reading 50 books this year. So far I have completed 29. Certainly a record for me. But can I make it to 50?

Additionally, I have been writing and rewriting and formatting and…

At last, I have two new books (paperback and Kindle format for both) on Amazon.com.

Here is a little about my three novels:

Don’t Be Cruel      NEW!

A remarkable tale of tragedy, determination, resourcefulness, bravery, and rock and roll. It’s 1956 and vicious lies leave sixteen-year-old Melanie’s reputation in ruins. Running away only Product Detailsbrings more trouble. Her survival depends on wits, gumption, and newly-acquired street smarts. Melanie befriends Ginger, another runaway, and together they venture to Memphis, home of the cool new music—rock and roll. Ginger dreams of meeting Elvis. Melanie envisions becoming a star drummer in a rock and roll band. When Ginger confesses her startling dilemma, Melanie is forced to act. Can she confront the problems of her past, deal with the devastating consequences of Ginger’s secret, and save a friend?

 

Blowin’ in the Wind

Product DetailsIt’s 1960, and Melanie Sedlak dreams of fame as a rock and roll drummer. Then she meets tall, dark, handsome Moses Carter.
Moe’s involvement in the civil rights movement puts him in danger and forces Melanie to face her own prejudices.
Can she cross the color line and orchestrate new dreams?
Blowin’ in the Wind is a touching story of love and misunderstanding, harmony and discord, tolerance and discrimination—and two people whose destinies are shaped by the hostility they face and the love they share.

 

Child of Mine   NEW!

Product DetailsA multi-generational story of conflict, love, and reconciliation. As Rita reviews her past, she wonders if she will ever again see the daughter she lost thirteen years ago. Melanie has woven a web of deception and her mistakes are catching up with her. Can she regain control and set things right? Monique has learned the identity of her father and she wants answers. Will she uncover her mother’s secrets and find the family she longs for?

 

I hope you enjoy reading these novels as much as I enjoyed writing them!

They are available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

barbvortman@yahoo.com

I’d love to hear your comments!

 

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Reader’s Log 2017: 50 Books

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed! 

   Book Number: 29                 

The Circle by [Eggers, Dave]

The Circle              

by

Dave Eggers

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers has to be the creepiest book I’ve ever read! Not creepy in a Stephen King way, but creepy in that it is a terrifying depiction of how insidious technology has invaded our lives.

Mae is a new employee of the major technology company called The Circle and soon becomes enveloped in The Circle’s beliefs and practices. Like all Circle members, she is seduced into supporting all that it stands for. She quickly rises through the ranks and becomes a major influencer.

This work of fiction presents a fairly accurate picture of large tech company culture and explores the possibilities for technology to digitize our lives and invade our privacy. The addictive nature of instantaneous feedback and the desire for transparency are portrayed through chilling events.

Eggers presents the story in an entertaining manner somewhat akin to George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

I enjoyed this fast-paced book and found the subject evokes great conversations.

I highly recommend The Circle by Dave Eggers

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 28

All The Stars in The Heavens

by

Adriana Trigiani

 

This is a fictionalized story of the relationship of Loretta Young and Clark Gable during the mid-1930’s. There are details about the film industry during the era and how actors were “owned” by the studios. I found much of that interesting.

Because it was fiction, It is hard to distinguish what was factual. The details about Loretta and other real people were somewhat biographical, but much was made up to tell the story.

I was almost immediately jarred by the dialog “errors.” Although many of the exchanges between the actors were humorous and light (like dialog in the movies of the day), there were many instances where words and phrases they used would not have been heard during that era. No one said “easy-peasy” until the 70’s, the phrase “had my ass handed to me” is from the 60’s, “stick-shift” was coined in 1955. I found many more instances of incorrect dialog use—in fact, that was part of the fun for me in reading this book. I was also brought up short by one of the characters, who should have known better, calling Tiepolo a Renaissance artist.  I began to look for these oddities. Finding them made me wonder what editors of big name publishers actually do.

About a third of the way through the book, the story bogged down. It became repetitious to the point that I glossed over a lot of it. I couldn’t take for another 100 pages Loretta’s continual agonizing over her decisions and her “need” to cling to the wrong men.

Author Adriana Trigiani has many followers who adore her writing. Several of them indicated in reviews that All The Stars in The Heavens was far from her finest work. Some of her descriptions of setting and history were nicely written but felt to me like “fillers” to make the book sound good. I preferred her silly dialog and, especially her portrayal of David Niven.

I think this book will appeal to people who like an unrequited love story. Also, fans of the Golden Era of Hollywood might like this although it is a bit too short on details to be classified as a novel about the era.

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 27

 

Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum Series #23)

Turbo Twenty-Three

by

Janet Evanovich

 

 

Turbo Twenty-Three is the latest Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich. I was excited to read this to see how Stephanie has evolved over 22 years and to note the changes in Evanovich’s writing style. I guess the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” could apply here.

Stephanie is still young, self-deprecating, impulsive, fearful and fearless. She’s still getting into jams and needing help from friends.

Janet Evanovich is still humorous and imaginative in her writing. The plot takes many twists and turns, there are hints and diversions to solving the case, and many of the characters who populated the first book are still a part of Stephanie’s life. The book is an easy, breezy fun read. There’s terror, gore, and sex to spice things up.

The convoluted plot of Turbo Twenty-Three goes something like this. Stephanie is trying to apprehend a bail bond jumper. She has an accomplice now–none other than the ‘ho Lula. While Stephanie attempts to abide by the law and refuses to use her gun (she doesn’t even have bullets for it), Lula lives on the edge. She has no qualms about stealing an eighteen wheeler which she doesn’t know how to drive and refuses to take blame when she crashes it into a cop car. When they open the back of the truck a frozen, chocolate and nut covered body falls out. Stephanie’s friend and former mentor Ranger enlists her to help him solve the murder (and subsequent ones.)

It’s a fun trip with lots of side roads. Lula and her “little person” friend audition for “Naked and Afraid–Trenton” and are involved in another scheme with bungy jumping. Stephanie works in a candy factory and is threatened by a clown. Her trip with Ranger to Disney World plays a large part in solving the case and in helping her figure out her relationship with cop, Joe Morelli. Oh, Grandma Mazur has a new boyfriend—a motorcycle riding, aged hippie bartender. And Stephanie still has her pet hamster.

I was surprised that Janet Evanovich could sustain the characters over twenty-two years. They retain the same personalities and the same quirks and qualms but the characterization still feels fresh. The book is filled with up to date cultural references, clothes, hair styles, slang, and technology. Stephanie no longer has to carry maps in her glove box. She has GPS.

I enjoyed this laugh out loud story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 26

The Zookeeper’s WifeThe Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by [Ackerman, Diane]

by 

Diane Ackerman

 

 

This is a non-fiction book relating the story of the Warsaw Zoo and its keepers during World War II.

Jan and Antonina Zabinski could win anyone’s admiration for their compassion for animals and excellent skills in providing a wonderful zoo for its residents and its visitors. But when Nazis invade Warsaw and begin their horrible treatment of its citizens, in particular, the Jewish population, Jan and Antonina stay and help. They risk their lives daily as they house, over the course of several years, 300 Jewish refugees.

I cannot rave enough about this book. Diane Ackerman has done extensive research and everything she has written is factual. She describes every scene in exquisite detail and provides an abundance of historical information. Critics have said there is too much, but I enjoyed every word. This book reads like a novel. The story is fascinating. At times it is gruesome and difficult to read, but there is a balance of tenderness and hope which softens the pain for the reader.

I recommend The Zookeeper’s Wife to everyone.

 

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 25

One for the Money

by

Janet Evanovich

 

Janet Evanovich is a popular, prolific writer. And, I confess, I’d never read any of her books. I’m not a fan of mysteries (at least, what I think a mystery novel might be), but I would like to write something that has a crime or mystery element and humor. A friend suggested I read one of the Stephanie Plum series to see how it’s done.

I chose the first of the series, One for the Money, which was originally published in 1994. I also selected Turbo Twenty-Three which was published in 2016. I think it will be fun to see how the author’s writing style has changed and how the characters have developed over time. I’ll let you know when I’ve read Turbo Twenty-Three.

Stephanie Plum is a down on her luck, New Jersey girl. Broke and unemployed she reluctantly takes a job as a bounty hunter. Her first case is a big one with a big pay off.  Unfortunately for Stephanie, she has none of the skills or know-how for the job. But she plunges in and gets herself into serious trouble.

Stephanie is the narrator of her story and she’s a wise cracking, blunt talking, impulsive, gullible, tough, and vulnerable young woman.

A number of things surprised me about this book (and kept me reading.) I thought it would be one of those cozy mystery stories where all the gruesome stuff happens “backstage.” Not so, Ms. Evanovich dishes out the gory details in explicit language.  Stephanie is no sweet young thing. She isn’t afraid to use rough language that would make her mother blush, she reveals her sexual history, she fantasizes about evil revenge. And she is funny! Her descriptions of her escapades, her environment, and people often had me laughing out loud.

The story is quite a ride. Moves along fast. Seems authentic in many of the details and has twists and turns throughout. The ending satisfied me. A crime was solved, the right people got their comeuppance and, although Stephanie Plum seemed triumphant I got the feeling her future wasn’t going to be all roses and sunshine.

Choosing to read the first book was fun, too, because it was a reminder of the way things were back when. Stephanie has to use road maps and connect an answering machine to her phone—no cell phones and internet for this girl (yet.) I’m looking forward to seeing how she functions in 2016 compared to 1994.

Fun, quick read!

 

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 24

The Light Between Oceans

M. L. Stedman

 

 

During the 1920s, Tom and his wife Isabel live on Janus Rock, Australia, where he serves as the lighthouse keeper. Their life of isolation is marred with misfortune. When a boat, bearing a dead man and an infant washes ashore, Tom and Isabel must decide what to do. Isabel, who has suffered two miscarriages and a stillbirth, feels this baby is a gift and she persuades Tom to accept the child as their own. Tom’s moral character is challenged when the couple returns to the mainland for a visit and learn the identity of the child’s mother, Hannah.

I was very impressed with the writing by this debut author. Her descriptions of landscape (seascape)  and the workings of the lighthouse are detailed and beautifully written. Her use of symbolism (especially, the confluence of the oceans, light, and the isolation and meaning of Janus) is apt.The characters are all real and all have flaws which evoke mixed emotions. The dilemmas presented

The characters are all real and all have flaws which evoke mixed emotions. The dilemmas presented create a thought provoking story with no “right” answers.

Learning a little about life in 1920s Australia was an added bonus.

This is also a good “what if” story. Readers could contemplate what the outcome might have been if different decisions were made by Tom, Isabel, and Hannah (or even the minor characters whose actions influence the plot.) What would you have done?