The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand, Three Awesome Things, ROW80, and Other New Books

You know how a few pages into a new book you can already tell whether it's going to be dull, or you're going to simply like it, or -- you get that thrill -- you're going to adore it and start telling everyone about it?

And then, as if adoration wasn't enough, further in you suddenly realise that it's a book you're going to stay up late for, and you get excited, and then! Then you realise it's a book that's going to make you cry -- but there are two kinds of that.

There's the sort of bawling I did after I finished The Fault in Our Stars and The Summer of Skinny Dipping, and then there's the bittersweet crying of a satisfying ending, and that's just what happened to me the other night after I finished reading Claire Legrand's The Year of Shadows.

I love -- and admire -- books that make me laugh amidst the tears. For those of you who have read this book, the line that made me start crying was: "'She said she was sorry and that you showed her beautiful things.'" And the laughter, well... I'll share a snip below.

There's a lot in the book, about dreams and hobbies, and also a cat (who's point of view Legrand does really well (yes, the cat talks, sort of, like Calvin's Hobbes)), and a passing reference to Glorbit the Molasses Man (I love Olivia's voice!), and I wonder which book she's reading in school that's sad looking and has an old man on the cover?

And there's a character named Frederick. I never paid attention to that name before, but ever since my Frederick appeared fully formed and named in Druid's Moon, I've been quite partial to that name.

I've got nothing to criticise about this book. I'm off to reread some of Claire's entries on her blog tour, where she wrote new snips and shared excised snips featuring characters from the story. I'm also listening again to some of the pieces (right now it's Mahler 2), and I wish I could listen to Frederick's concerto.

If you haven't read the book yet, here's one of the bits that made me laugh and want to hug the characters (all you need to know is that Tillie is a ghost):
"'My toes are frozen,' Henry groaned.

'Here, have mine,' Tillie said gleefully, plucking off her toes one by one and dropping them down Henry's shirt, which made him shudder and dance around.

'Thanks for making me look like an idiot,' he said.

Tillie turned slow, grinning circles in the air. 'You're welcome.'"
(I love that line because Legrand's ghosts aren't in fixed shapes, they shift and weave, and do their best to hold their forms together; so Tillie's not turning slowly and grinning, she's literally a whispy shadow that's turning slow grinning circles in the air. At least, that's how I read it.)

My only comment is that I wish publishers had a "report a typo" form on their websites. Then nitpickers like me wouldn't have to bug authors, and all typos could get resolved easily and painlessly when the paperback or future editions of books are printed. Catching Frederick's name spelled wrong was kind of disheartening.

Anyhow, forget my red-pen tendencies! Just watch this:

The Year of Shadows trailer

Meanwhile, there are two new literary books that have recently been released: Kevin Brennan's Yesterday Road and Sooty Tern by Paul Lessard.

Also, Mark Forsyth, who writes the Inky Fool blog, has a new book out, and it's on my wishlist:

He recently shared his top ten lost words in The Guardian. Each word is awesome, even feague ("Feague is a term from around the 18th century that means to put a live eel up a horse's bottom.") but my favourite is gongoozle:

Words and reading naturally lead to Neil Gaiman! If you haven't listened to or read his speech on libraries and reading, you can do so here.

But if you're writing, as I am...

Why not contribute to a fairy tale?

Add the next line of the story here

ROW80 is going very well thanks to the Forum Marathon. As of yesterday, I had 20 notebook pages left to type and still ten days to do it in, before NaNoWriMo starts.

Meanwhile, Kait Nolan is also sharing Three Awesome Things on Wednesdays. So, writing-wise, my three awesome things are:

1. Last week, out of the blue, I wrote a 200 word vignette. A tiny little story (the working title is Late Night, Maudlin Street, but I might change it to a Morrissey lyric instead of a song title). Just needs a bit of editing...

2. Two nights ago, also out of the blue (or black, as it were, since I was falling asleep at the time), I caught the first line of my NaNo story. I have a starting point now! Capturing just the right words and tone for the first line led to...

3. Yesterday morning, when I scribbled 500+ words of the opening scene before I could lose it all. It's always great going into NaNo with a bit of extra under your belt, for those days when no words will come.

Bit of blog news -- next week I'll be posting on Monday instead, because I'm part of Tiffany Allee's blog tour! Also, my Books Read list at the bottom of the page seems to be messed up - all the latest entries are appearing at the bottom of the list. Does anyone else use lists on Blogger, and have a clue how to fix this?

Would you like to share Three Awesome Things?


Deniz Bevan said…
Two things I forgot to mention about the book - I love how Henry sees all this stuff happen and yet still has trouble believing that Igor can talk to Olivia.
And I think I have a crush on Olivia's dad, based on the illustration on pg. 338. I can see why her mother fell in love...
Deniz Bevan said…
Actually, I might not post on Monday after all - seems like the blog tour is all week, so I'll share my review on Wednesday...
Glynis said…
Sounds a great read, thanks for sharing, Deniz!
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks Glynis! I'm reading her first book now too, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
Liz Fichera said…
Hey, Deniz! Great post! Coincidentally, I met Claire at the Wordstock festival in Portland, Oregon, earlier this month. She is wonderful!

To answer your question about NA you left on my blog: No, the characters don't need to be in college. I also have other writer friends who are currently writing (or submitting) NA historical, so you might just be on the front-end of a trend! :)
Deniz Bevan said…
Oh, I'm jealous Liz!
I'm actually going to NYC soon and couldn't believe it when I heard that Claire's not going to be there but on a book tour elsewhere at the same time. Darn!

That'd be exciting about the NA thing. I'll have to figure out how to phrase it in queries...
Sorry, I've never done a list before.
Glad you have a head start on NaNo.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks, Alex!
I love lists :-)
Arlee Bird said…
It's a pretty cool experience when a book leaves me very satisfied and stays with me in a good way. Actually I've even read a few books that I rather disliked, but they grew on me afterwards as I continued to think about them.

One awesome thing is that I woke up this morning and I was still alive. Gosh, every minute is kind of awesome in its own way.

Tossing It Out
Deniz Bevan said…
I agree, Arlee - very awesome!
Editors At Work said…
Sounds a great read, thanks for sharing, Deniz!

Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks for coming by, Nas!
S.P. Bowers said…
Thanks for the book recommendation. I love the satisfied feeling of a new book. Especially when it has such a hold on you that when you finish and put it down, you don't immediately pick up the next one. You have to savor it for a bit.
Kathrese McKee said…
I'm getting excited about NaNo, too. I've been thinking of scenes to write and jotting down notes. So glad to hear that things are going well for you. Have a great ROW80 week!
Lara Lacombe said…
Sounds like a great book--I'll have to add it to my list!

Glad to hear you'll be doing NaNo--should be a lot of fun this year.
E.J. Wesley said…
Sounds like a great read! I find a couple of miscues in almost every book I read.
Shah Wharton said…
No idea about lists on Blogger? the book sounds great. Excellent to hear how much writing you're doing/planning on doing. And best of luck with NaNo this year. X
Old Kitty said…
GOOD LUCK with your nano writing!! Looks like you are well and truly on a roll with it!! Yay!!

Take care
Anonymous said…
Since crying is so rare for me, I appreciate any author who can make my eyes sting just a little. Good luck with your NaNo! Isn't it great when first lines appear out of nowhere?
farawayeyes said…
I love a book with a satisfying ending - it seems kind of rare today. One more for the TBR list. Thank You.
Oh, now I want to read this book!

I'm reading Fortunately, the Milk by Gaiman now. Quick read. So funny and cute!
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks everyone!

Oh, Theresa, isn't Fortunately the Milk so much fun? I bought a couple more copies as Christmas presents for my nieces and nephews... Had to share the excitement!
Anonymous said…
I really want to read Legrand's book. Thanks for sharing it.
Deniz Bevan said…
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Medeia!

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