Some distractions for you

I was doing really well at buckling down and writing while the girls are asleep, but then Jessica Day George quoted Oscar on Twitter and there went my productivity out the window.

So now I’m here to offer you some distractions from your work. Aren’t I nice?

First off: fully-clothed female superheroes. I abhor the scanty outfits, and Mike Lunsford’s designs are brilliant. With the possible exception of Wonder Woman. Not sure what’s going on with the khaki pants there. But still much preferable to her incredibly uncomfortable-looking metal bathing suit.

Also, Oscar. Go watch it if you don’t know what I’m talking about, if only for the sake of seeing Tim Curry as an awkward linguist. If you aren’t crying laughing by the end of it, we can’t be friends anymore. And apparently YouTube has it in German, if that’s your thing, though it’s really missing out on Sylvester Stallone’s gangster accent.

Also, have you ever started reading a book, and you really didn’t like it, but you couldn’t put it down? SO frustrating. And the stupid thing is, when I finished the book, none of my ebook holds were ready from the library, so I checked out the sequel. What is wrong with me?! All I want is to read Son of Neptune! Is that too much to ask?

Okay. Your turn. What’s distracted you today?

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Waiting waiting waiting

The launch party was a great success on Saturday! It was so fun to talk books and writing with so many readers.

And now Stone Alliance is out in the world, and I’m waiting for this baby to come out into the world too. Between being roughly the size of a rhinoceros and coming down with a ridiculous cold, it’s been increasingly hard to do anything remotely productive, so I’ve been catching up on some reading. Here’s what’s in my stack this week:

Beastly Bones by William Ritter
Charlie Bone and the Time Twister by Jenny Nimmo
President of the Whole Sixth Grade by Sherri Winston
Nightmares! by Jason Segel
Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (although I’m struggling to get anywhere with this one, short as it is)

What are you reading this week?

Finally MARCH!

It’s March today!

And EVERYTHING HAPPENS IN MARCH!!

I’m kind of thrilled. In case you couldn’t tell. SPRING happens in March, and a new baby happens in March, and (in case you hadn’t heard) a new BOOK happens in March!

In fact, you can go to Amazon right here right now and buy your very own copy of STONE ALLIANCE! It’s all ready to go! And if you’re curious what the early reviewers are saying . . .

“A fast paced book . . . the author does a wonderful job drawing you into the world she created. It is easy to feel like it is all real as you read the book. The story flows wonderfully with twists and loops.” Emmy Mom (full review)

“The battle that goes on within Rustav is intense. I won’t give away spoilers, but if I was him I would be scared of myself as well. Right from the get go we are thrown into chaos. Emily does such a good job dragging you into this world.” Lord of the Book Reviews (full review)

Go read it and tell me what you think!! Happy March, everyone!

Why I love three-star reviews

The first days after releasing a book, it’s hard not to compulsively check Amazon and Goodreads every ten minutes to see whether there’s a new review. As a writer, I LOVE four- and five-star reviews. Let’s be honest. I like being told that I’m a brilliant writer.

But as time has passed, I’ve found that, while five-star reviews are the most encouraging and exciting, the most useful reviews, both as a reader and a writer, are the three-star reviews.

I know some people who get upset at three-star reviews, as if it’s a negative rating. It’s not. On Goodreads, three stars is described as “I liked it.” And you know, I’m okay with people liking my books.

And the thing about three-star reviews is, the reviewer is often much more fair about presenting the strengths and weaknesses of a book. It’s not nearly as fun to hear about my writing weaknesses as it is to hear about everything I did well, but it’s so necessary. If I don’t know what problems readers have with my writing, I don’t know how to polish it up, make my words smoother and more powerful.

I also appreciate the frank honesty of three-star reviews. Higher ratings tend toward effusive praise and lower ratings tend toward vague, snippy generalizations; but three-star reviews are (generally speaking) more thoughtful and complete examinations of a book’s merits.

How do you feel about three stars? Do you tend to rate books high, middling, or low?

The danger of reviews

I recently reread a trilogy that, aside from an abundance of teenage romance, I thoroughly enjoyed. It had a complex and engaging plot, varied and developed characters, and a villain who gave me nightmares. Granted, it wasn’t a literary master piece or anything, but it was fun YA sci-fi.

When I posted my rating on Goodreads, I happened to glance at the other reviews on the page. I was surprised to see a number of fairly negative reviews, in spite of a decent overall rating on the book. Glancing through them, I found that I really didn’t agree with most of the reviews, and the bits that I did sort of agree with weren’t a big enough deal to me to lower my four-star rating.

This is the down side of my up-down relationship with Goodreads. I love seeing what my friends are reading and their reviews–but I hate seeing reviews from total strangers, because I can’t put it in context of their personality.

Book bloggers are a step up, because I feel like I do get some sense of their personality and their perspective after a bit. I can tell where our tastes meet and where they diverge. Usually. If it’s a good blogger.

But my top source of book recommendations is still my circle of bookish friends. We know each other well enough that we can say, “I liked this book but don’t think it would appeal to you” or, conversely, “I didn’t like this book, but it’s right up your alley.” Not only that, if I read a book on a friend’s recommendation, I already know that I have someone to talk to about it when I’m done. Because, seriously, what’s worse than loving a book and having NOBODY to talk to about it? I’m still trying to find someone to squeal about A Corner of White with, by the way, if any of you have read it. The last book in the trilogy is coming out next month and I’m dying here!

So how do you feel about online reviews? Do you check out Goodreads before you pick a book? Any favorite book bloggers?

Reading books five times a day

I have a two-year-old who LOVES reading. Our “library” room is constantly layered with books because she’ll pull them one by one off the shelves, flip through them, and grab another one. She’ll grab an armful and dump them on my lap–then say, “I’ll get fwee more, Mom.” “Fwee” (three) usually ends up being four or five or six.

She goes through phases of which books she likes best, but there are a few that she will consistently pick above all others. Here are some of the favorites in our house:

 

paper bag princess

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustr. Michael Martchenko. She loves the dragon, and I love Princess Elizabeth, who is clever, determined, and confident.

 

 

naamah

Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustr. Holly Meade. We picked this up by happy chance at the library. The illustrations are beautiful, and I love the simple story of Noah’s wife.

 

sheep in a jeep

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw, illustr. Margot Apple. Simple, catchy rhymes, clever illustrations. This one’s just fun.

 

moose a muffin

If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustr. Felicia Bond. Honestly, I love all the “If you give a . . .” books, but this moose. It’s adorable.

 

harvey potter

Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm by Jerdine Nolen, illustr. Mark Buehner. I remember getting this from a book order back in elementary school, and it was one of my favorites as a kid. Now Scout has latched onto it. She calls it “Harry Potter” (that might be confusing later on), and she is in balloon heaven every time we read it.

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What picture books do you remember from your childhood? Or what books do you read to your kids? We’re always looking for new recommendations!