Friday, June 29, 2007

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

The last book I read was My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Since first discovering Picoult's books a couple of weeks ago, I'm devouring them one after another. The one I'm reading now is Vanishing Acts.

Although this one isn't quite as compelling as My Sister's Keeper, which kept me up all night, it's pretty darn good. Basically, the main character suddenly finds out that her supposedly widowed father, who she has lived with alone for as long as she can remember, kidnapped her when she was little.

Of course, this makes her father suddenly into the bad guy. But in her usual fashion, Picoult slowly starts to expose more and more of the story, until you realize that her father is also the good guy. I love how Picoult does that -- puts a human face on people that you would normally label just good or just bad, showing how complicated the truth of the matter usually is.

I expect that this is building up toward a surprise revelation at the very end, which is the way Jodi Picoult's books usually end. I don't have much left of it, so I'll probably go finish reading now -- I want to know what happens! While Vanishing Acts is very good, though, I wouldn't recommend it quite as highly as I would My Sister's Keeper. But I'd still recommend it, as I haven't yet met a Jodi Picoult book I haven't liked.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

In my last post, I said that I was going to catch up on books that I haven't posted. As it turns out, I have something more pressing to write about -- a good book that totally derailed my plans (not to mention my sleep schedule).

But first, a little background. I discovered Jodi Picoult while I was visiting my grandfather. I'll blog later about the first two books of hers that I read, but for the moment it's enough to say that I fell immediately in love with her characters, her writing style, and her amazing ability to get you into her character's heads and their complex lives. In short, Picoult writes the kinds of books I want to write someday.

I started My Sister's Keeper at about midnight tonight, and I finished it five and a half hours later. I literally read the book all in one sitting -- I couldn't put it down, couldn't slow down. I seriously think I only closed the book once, and for less than three minutes.

I loved the other two Picoult books that I read, but My Sister's Keeper is my favorite so far. Picoult takes challenging issues and writes books that closed-minded people would no doubt ban, if she weren't so good at forcing their minds open by making you see through her character's eyes. This particular novel takes a new spin on the stem cell debate by saying, "What if medical miracles were taken not from a lifeless, unwanted embryo, but a living, breathing child with her own life to live? How would it impact that child to know that she is alive for the primary purpose of saving her sister's life?"

Of course, as with all of Picoult's books, this is an extremely simplistic way of describing the story and the questions it poses. Picoult is a master of weaving multiple plotlines together, all of them unique yet irrevocably connected.

I think it's probably unnecessary to say that I highly recommend My Sister's Keeper, but I will anyway. Seriously, read this book. But don't start it unless you have a solid block of reading time -- I don't necessary recommend reading it all in one sitting (I'm tired!!!), but it will be hard to put down.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Publish & Prosper by Byron and Broback

iconiconEdit 7/26/2011: It appears the physical edition of this book is out of print, so the link here goes to the ebook edition.

Thanks to a tremendously busy work schedule, I've gotten a little behind on blogging about my "Livre du Jour," so I'm going to fill you in on what I'm reading right now and go back and fill in the holes as I have a chance.

My current read is Publish & Prosper: Blogging for Business. Considering where I am posting this blurb, I think a lot of my readers should find this book interesting! We all hear that you can make money from a blog, either by using it to market or sell ad space, but so many of us never actually achieve what we'd like with our blogs. In this handy little book, DL Byron and Steve Broback explain exactly how to make your blog work for you.

Even though I've been blogging for about a year and a half, have had my own website for more than two years, and write web copy all the time, I'm learning a lot from Publish & Prosper. Sometimes the book fills me in on why something that I already do works so well. Other times it explains concepts that I've found a little challenging (and does a very good job of simplifying and speaking to the lay person, I should add!). The book also discusses things like the different types of blogs, blog systems, and features available. What a terrific resource for any dedicated blogger!

Edit 4/5/2011: I also blogged about this book on my old blog Reading 4 Writers, but since I shut down that blog earlier this year, I brought the post over to Livre du Jour.  You can read that post here.