Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chasing Amanda by Melissa Foster

Today I am hosting the blog tour for Melissa Foster's sophomore novel Chasing Amanda. Before I post my review I would like to let you get to know Melissa a little. Rather than ask her questions she has answered a million times or give her a boxed-in topic, I gave her free range of my page. (After reading two of her books I had no doubt that she would write something better than what I could try to pry out of her and I wasn't disappointed). So without further ado Melissa Foster...

The Reality of Character Development, by Melissa Foster

When Alison invited me to write a guest post, I really had to think about what I wanted to say. So many bloggers provide guidelines for guest posts, and Alison was kind enough to simply ask for whatever it was that I wanted to write. Thank you, Alison, for giving me such an open road.

I find myself staring at a blank page, and wondering what Alison’s blog readers might find interesting. I’m often asked about my characters, and if they’re based on real people. What I’m never asked about, is how real those characters become to me. Now, we’ve got a meaty topic!

As an author, I have the privilege of coming up with the setting, plots and subplot of my stories, which can be incredibly fun. The characters, however, offer a different type of fun. While I do have the role of developing each character, which is a very cool undertaking, there’s also a great responsibility that goes along with the creation of these people who I will live with for the next nine months to a year (or longer).

Typically, my characters appear with backgrounds, personalities, and even styles in place, making the physical side of development easy. The more difficult part of character development is making the characters flawed. In real life, all people have flaws and vulnerabilities. The trick in writing is to create flaws and expose vulnerabilities while continuing to develop the character’s strengths and likability.

I take the responsibility of developing three-dimensional, realistically flawed characters very seriously, going so far as to live with them for probably way too long. I think about my characters long after I’ve written the books. Their backgrounds and scenes play out in my mind like movies. Sometimes I even catch myself laughing (out loud) about what one of my characters might think about something that’s going on in real life.

The next time you run into me, if you see that I have a far-off look in my eye, you might want to sidle up and ask me which “friend” I’m thinking about. ‘-)

If you’re in a book club, or just want to chat about writing, email me: thinkhappygirl (at) yahoo (dot) com.

My Review:

Chasing Amanda is a complex novel full of characters wearing the mask of one life and living the turmoil of another.

Molly Tanner seems to have it all. Married for many years to her husband Dr. Cole Tanner, they are still in love and extremely happy. Her son Erik has gone to college, but phones regularly and remains close to his parents. However, Molly struggles with the gift (and curse) of "the Knowing". She can see and feel things that have happened or are going to occur. Nine years prior she ignored her ability and a child named Amanda lost her life. Unable to live with the guilt, Molly's family moved to the small town of Boyd's to start fresh. Now this seemingly safe community has been rocked by the abduction of a child. Molly's past comes back to torment her and her family as she begins to have visions of the missing child. She struggles to determine what she is really seeing and what is still haunting her from the past. As we follow Molly through her race to find the child we also see the development of many other residents of Boyds who harbor their own secrets.

Chasing Amanda is told from various character viewpoints, but is never difficult to follow. Each character gradually reveals a vital part of the mystery while adding another shocking detail to their life. I was initially worried that there may be "too much" happening, but it seemed to be just right. Each character was developed so fully that I felt like I knew them personally. I routed for them and feared as I read on that a character I had grown to love was going to be guilty of a heinous crime. As each of their stories grow so does your understanding of why they have made the choices that are now ruling them.

The mystery has so many twists and turns that it was impossible to figure out who was guilty of what. Heck, for awhile I wasn't even sure what they were doing to know what they could be guilty of. It all comes together beautifully in the end, but it had me guessing the entire time. As soon as I was sure that I knew what was happening another bombshell exploded. I was hooked from page 1.

Melissa Foster is a fabulous writer. I reviewed her first book Megan's Way here. It still continues to be one of my favorite reads as a blogger. On a very exciting note it is currently being adapted to film. I have very happily kept in touch with Melissa as she continues to write and I anxiously await each of her new novels. Melissa is also the founder of The Women's Nest a wonderful site for women.

Melissa did provide me with an e-copy of this novel for my review. However, I really enjoyed it and bought a copy to support her and to be able to easily read it across all of my devices.

Thanks so much Melissa for inviting me to participate in your blog tour.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

If any book could bring me out of blogging hibernation I knew this was the one. I definitely wasn't disappointed when I started reading. If you enjoy Tina Fey's comedic style then this is the the book for you. If you don't well you have been warned. The wit and humor she is known for flows off the page. Personally, I was in HEAVEN! I think my laughter started on page 1 and never stopped. This was that book where you keep reading passages out loud to your significant other. You know while they roll their eyes, but then can't help but laugh because it really is funny.

In Bossypants Tina Fey manages to share bits of her personal and her professional life. It is part autobiographical, bust she just skims the surface of her actual life to set up her jokes. You will read about bits of her childhood, her marriage, Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, college years, etc. It just doesn't dive deep. It isn't full of life changing secrets or advice or political positions. It won't convert you to any religion or new diet. What is will do it make you laugh. It is a book for fun and joy. I would recommend it for anyone who likes Tina Fey.

I received this book free from Hachette Book Group in exchange for a review. However, I will say that I enjoyed this book so much that I am considering purchasing the audiobook. It is read by Tina Fey and I imagine hearing her timing of the jokes would make it that much better.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Total Randomness

It's like I want to blog, but every darn time I think about it I go running from the computer. It's that I stop and start. I feel like a failure. Then I realize. This blog is mine! I can come and go when I please. I may not be the "go to" blog for anyone, but I can still do it.

Life takes me in so many directions.

I got married in January. It was awesome!

I tote my kids from place to place (but a bit less now since my daughter drives). I have my kids and my stepkids here for the summer. That makes a house of 6. Besides toting them I just love spending time with them. I watch them play sports. At home we act silly and have fun. We will be going to the pool all summer.

Oh and now I have this obsession with trying to eat better. I am cutting back on meat and trying to eat more natural foods. Plant-based baby! Now, if I could just get immersed enough in it to lose weight.

I play soccer with friends every Wednesday night. I joined the Blondes v Brunettes Flag Football event for Alzheimer's again. What a great time for a great cause!

Oh and I read the crap out of some books! I usually read one on the Kindle, one paper book, and listen to one on audio at the same time.

Things I don't do:
Garden - to the dread of my neighbors spring comes and we are the only house without a pretty landscape. I would love to but...

Keep a spotless house - While I would like to walk into a spotless house who wants to spend their life cleaning??

Get up early - I hate waking up! Once I am out of bed I'm fine, but before that forget about it. I am perpetually late for work.

So maybe I'm back and for awhile. I do have some definite book reviews I want to post. Plus, now I think I will throw in other randomness. I might just post on occasion or I might get blog crazy. We'll see...