November in Review

And now, for the winner of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry… Sarah. Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who left comments and retweeted the giveaway as well as all of the new subscribers and daily visitors. You guys are great!

This month, I participated in the Thankfully Reading weekend challenge. I never need a challenge to read—all I need is the time!—but it’s always nice to feel the sense of community among online reviewers that challenges emphasize. A special thanks goes to the creators and organizers!

Now to my stats:
5 books completed
1,137 pages read
5 books reviewed

This was an odd month for me, as you can probably tell by my low reading statistics. I tried to review books about writing and publishing in honor of NaNoWriMo, but I found that life gets in the way of the best-laid plans (as I should have guessed!).

November was filled with many joys, including all of the friends and family members I was able to visit. We went to Punkin Chunkin early in the month, I celebrated my birthday (the quarter-century!) on the 20th, and Thanksgiving went off without a hitch. I also began a new job, which has been very exciting.

But I also experienced a deep personal tragedy. My brother-in-law, Josh Weiss, was the victim of a fatal hit-and-run on November 7. He and my oldest sister, Chelsea, and their kids were moving to Minnesota, and the accident happened on the night of their going-away party.

I was visiting home for the weekend, and I feel very blessed that I was able to take Josh, Chelsea, and other loved ones out for breakfast. The last words I said to him were something to the effect of “I’ll miss you and I love you,” as I hugged him; I think I will always be grateful for that.

The support of my family and friends has been absolutely overwhelming. I truly appreciate everything they have done for me and for Josh’s memory. I have honestly never felt so loved and appreciated.

Going back to my “normal” life has been difficult, and I still feel intense grief at times. However, I’m glad to have the opportunity to express myself creatively and to continue kicking ass and taking names, so just watch out for me in December!

Here are the books I reviewed this month:

The conversational tone and infectious humor of the prose made this book thoroughly engaging. The layout breaks up otherwise information-dense text; it is peppered with the seasoned advice of booksellers, publishers, authors, publicists, editors… anyone involved with creating and selling books. The authors show that though writing a book is not easy, it can be incredibly rewarding.
Rating: 4 out of 5

In this “biography” of an iconic D.C. neighborhood, Blair Ruble explores the significance of cultural institutions and historical events. The author is not a trained historian, but his research is impeccable; he brings to light dozens of unpublished theses on the neighborhood. At the same time, I found this account very readable and entertaining.
Rating: 4 out of 5

This book is original, thrilling, captivating, and heartwrenching. At the same time, it is unexpectedly fresh and optimistic, filled with life and hope and wonder. Don’t even try to read this book before bed—not because it is so scary, but because you will be up half the night thinking about Jack and Ma until you give up and spend the other half finishing their story.
Rating: 5 out of 5

Zeitoun is an eye-opening account of the devastating effects of two very different disasters in the United States: As Hurricane Katrina wreaks havoc on neighborhoods and lives in New Orleans, religious intolerance toward Muslims becomes more pointed in this post-9/11 world. The Zeitouns’ fascinating story of survival in the face of loss and discrimination makes both catastrophes undeniably real to the reader.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The contents of the No Plot? No Problem! novel-writing kit are snarky and fun if you need a pick-me-up, but you shouldn’t expect any life-changing advice. Baty attempts to prepare you for a month-long writing endeavor with equal parts humor and advice, but the whole thing feels corny. In my opinion, it’s better to leave the support and advice to the thousands of NaNoWriMo-ers who are churning out word counts alongside you.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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