A great review!

Writing can be a really weird process. You sit at home alone sipping a tea, and these ideas fly through your head, and then you spit them out into your computer (hopefully not literally, because that would be MESSY) and then that’s that. You keep returning to your tea and your computer and doing the same thing, over and over again. And for a long time, you’re alone with your thoughts, and nothing happens. And you decide you hate your writing, but then you re-read it and you think it might not be so bad. And sometimes you picture people in your head, who might be reading what you wrote and getting a kick out of it. And on a bad day, you imagine your mother reading things you know your mother wouldn’t like, and you wonder if you should put your thoughts out there at all. And then your mother does read it. And you survive. She smiles politely, says she liked it (whether that was true or not), and still buys you a birthday cake when that day comes around.

But the bright side of all this is when someone actually does like what you’ve written. Because even though what you spit into your computer is a completely, play pretend, BS of a good time, it’s somehow a little piece of you. And you know you’ll be okay if people don’t like what you’ve written, because you know that you don’t like Josh Grobin’s music or the show Entourage or Fifty Shades of Grey but that plenty of other people do, so you tell yourself that it makes sense that there will be people who won’t like what you’ve written. But you encourage yourself by thinking that there will be people who will connect with your ideas. Strangers who you can cheer up with a smile.

And then you get a nice review, ages after you wrote all locked up by yourself. And you smile, and go back to that solitary tip tapping, with a little extra lift in your typing fingers. So thanks, Ms. Midwest! Here’s the review, reprinted from Joanna’s blog at www.midwesternbite.com.

Girl Reinvented

This is the first book review I’ve written in a long while.  This is also the first (non children’s) book I’ve read in a long while.  Don’t get me wrong here, I love to read.  Love to read.  I majored in it in college even.  My Husband and I have four bookshelves filled to capacity with books and more books stored in the garage.  Granted some of these are college textbooks, but they still count.  A book is a book.  This doesn’t even take into account all of Sweetey Petey’s books which are too numerous to count, especially at the early hour I’m penning this.  Sweetey Petey loves to read too.  Mike rarely ends a night without donning his headlamp and cracking open a book snugged up in bed.

This Midwestern family loves to read.

So why has it taken me so long to dive back into the pages of a good book?  Simple.  Life got in the way.  Or, more relevantly, my idea of life got in the way.  I rarely sit still long enough to appreciate a quiet moment, my mind always a whir with what needs done next, what project needs started or finished, what laundry needs folded, what playroom needs picked up.  It’s a trait in myself I’m working to change, thanks to Ann Moore . . .  but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Reading a book, and a book purely for fun at that, seemed so self indulgent recently.  I have responsibilities after all.  A home to create and maintain.  In light of this anti-mindfullness mindset I’ve grown into, you may be wondering why I chose to read this particular book.  That’s simple.  I know Ann.  Okay, maybe not so simple since I only sorta, kinda know Ann.

Don’t worry, Ann doesn’t use words like sorta and kinda in her book.

I’ve been reading Ann’s blog Cooking Dangerously and Ann has become an internet friend.  We’ve exchanged gifts, tweets, comments, direct messages.  Ann has even named one of our chickens!  Really that makes her as close to family as a Canadian internet friend can get.

So I “know” Ann.  But it’s more than that.  I look forward to her blog posts and find her witty, interesting and most of all unique.  She provides content and an individual point of view that is shockingly refreshing in a blogosphere full of food bloggers spouting the same dry run of the mill garbage over and over and over again.  Yes, I know kale is good for me.  Oh I can bake it into chips?  You don’t say?

Ann is modest enough not to shove her book in your face.  I’m rather modest myself (clearly I’m writing this BEFORE the picture I’m posting of my butt scheduled for May 8) but if I had not only written a book, but a book that you could find on Amazon in actual book form (self published e-books don’t count so don’t even try to tell me they do), you’d better believe your buttokis I’d be telling the world every danged day.

Don’t worry, Ann doesn’t use words like buttokis and danged in her book.

Ann and I were quite far along in our internet friendship before I even knew she had written a book.  She mentioned it in passing, I searched for it, couldn’t locate it (she penned it under her maiden name) and I had to ask her.  After that, I was obsessed.  I knew, just knew, I had to read Ann’s book even if it was about clowns, which I hate.  I hate clowns.   Fortunately it wasn’t about clowns.

To avoid any potential feelings of guilt over a just for fun, just for me purchase,  I used funds from my Midwestern Bite Amazon associate account, ordered Ann’s book and waited . . . impatiently . . . for it to arrive.

I’d like to interject here and say, for the official record, I promise any future book reviews WON’T take me this many paragraphs to actually get into, mmmm K?

Don’t worry, Ann doesn’t use words like mmmm K in her book.

I read Ann’s book within a week.  I’m sure a lot of you are thinking it took you a whole week?  I can read a book in a day!  Yes, well, I could too back before I was seven months pregnant and with a toddler underfoot so don’t judge.  A week is good for me thankyouverymuch.

And don’t worry, Ann doesn’t use words like thankyouverymuch in her book.

Here’s what the book jacket has to say about Girl Reinvented:

“Tabitha Mahony has always been that polite, smart, heavy girl who flies under everyone’s radar, until one day an unfortunate low-rise jeans incident brings her the kind of publicity no one is looking for. Rather than taking the challenge in stride, Tabitha begins to question the personality she has developed over the past sixteen years. What has she really gained from being who she is? She only has one crazy loudmouth friend, she has zero prospects in the guy department, her mom is too busy and her brother is too stoned to notice her … mostly she just feels miserable all the time. She wonders if she could instantly become someone new if she decided to. Could you? What would you do differently? Would you ask out that crush? Confront that pretty little sour-faced girl in the tennis skirt? Get drunk? Chase that dream? Yeah, so would she.”

First off I’d like to reiterate that Girl Reinvented is a quick read.  That’s not to say short.  That’s not to say lacking in content.  It’s quick because you want to find out where the track leads you.  Much like a train ride, you just can’t get off till you reach your destination.  Sure, there may be a few stops along the way (it’s 346 pages after all, you aren’t going to get out of this one without at least a few bathroom and snack breaks) but you sit back and absorb the scenery flowing past you.

Scenery.  That may have been my favorite aspect to this book.  Ann Moore paints a vibrant visual picture, her words and comparisons conveying not only imagery, but feelings as well.  Through her it is easy to see what the characters see and feel what the characters feel.  If they turn their head, you turn your head.  If they jump out of a plane, you jump out of a plane.

Yes, there was jumping out a plane.  I’ll get to that.

Right off the bat I was able to relate to the main character Tabitha.  No, I was not overweight.  Other than a minor falling down the stairs incident, no I never had a soul barring embarrassing moment in front of the whole school.  I even had a few prospects in the guy department and more than one loud mouthed friend.  But feelings of isolation?  Feelings of not always belonging?  Feelings of unachieved aspirations?  Uncertainty?  Yes.  I’ve had those.  Haven’t we all?  While reading this book it was easy to slip back into the tumultuous days of high school and recall those feelings we’ve all felt at some point in our lives.  No matter what social group you fell into, high school had its rocky moments.  That’s just how it’s meant to be.  A learning experience where you start to really find yourself.

And that’s just what Tabitha does.

Girl Reinvented is classified as a Young Adult Romantic Comedy.  As such, your first question may be but hasn’t it all been said before?  A guilty pleasure of mine has always been high school TV dramas.  Gilmore Girls.  One Tree Hill.  Dawson’s Creek (I can’t believe I just admitted that).  Edgemont.  Felicity.  You get the picture in picture.  One complaint I have about this genre, however, is the repetition.  Oh, someone had a pregnancy scare?  No way.  Someone had a drug problem?  Huh.  That’s new.  Somebody was cheated on?  Gasp.  You don’t say.  Young adult entertainment is clearly a subject that has been fully explored in all forms of media.

What surprised me about Girl Reinvented, was, in fact, the surprises.  Yes, there was a popular kid picking on an unpopular kid.  Yes, there were teenage crushes.  There was even a catfight.  These are standard predictable young adult fare.  But there was also jumping out of a plane.  Say what?  Yup, I didn’t see that coming.  There was also Irish dancing.  You heard me.  Irish dancing.  There was an entire descriptive presentation of breast augmentation.  I just reeled the boys in now didn’t I?  I thought as much.  I almost skipped ahead in the book just to find out what Tabitha’s scandalous presentation would be about (I managed to refrain) and once I got there all I could think was, say whaaaaaat?

Ann Moore definitely threw in a few curve balls I didn’t expect, leaving me to wonder as I read what else she had up her sleeve.  Where would she take Tabitha, next?  I won’t spoil it for you.

Tabitha aspired to be a writer and Ann Moore included a few of her literary attempts within Girl Reinvented.  I will admit I had a hard time getting through these passages.  I cringed on more than a few occasions and immediately wondered if my own young writing was as forced as Tabitha’s.

All together, Girl Reinvented was a fun read and made me want more.  More Ann Moore.  More books.  More.  More.  More.  Since reading Girl Reinvented, I’ve breezed through Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and started The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (don’t fret, there are no clowns in this particular circus – I confirmed before I started).  I’ve checked in with my Facebook friends for book recommendations, Googled book clubs both local and internet based, joined Goodreads and stopped in at the nearest library to peruse the Fiction shelves.

Ann Moore made me realize I had missed reading and missed it something fierce.  My love affair has been rekindled and my priorities have been shifting.  So what if the laundry doesn’t get folded till tomorrow.  So what if the playroom is a mess, it’s not like it would have stayed tidy for long anyway.  I’ve got characters to immerse myself in and plots to be drawn into and imagery to fill my pretty head.

And with that, I’ve got some reading to do before the toddler wakes up and we read Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go for the bazillioneth time.  Goldbug!  Or as the boy says . . . GOOOOOAL DUG!

But before I leave you, how about I give you something?  How about I give you Girl Reinvented?  If you want to read it too, all you need to do is comment and tell me so.  No Rafflecopter to mess with, just leave me a comment, and one of you will read this book on my dime.  Well, The Husband’s dime.  The giveaway runs till this Saturday at midnight after which Sweetey Petey will draw one of your names, most likely from an Easter egg.  The winner will be announced next week.  You’ll e-mail me your address and your book will be shipped straight from Amazon right to your front door.  Or back door, depending on your UPS driver.   Ours sometimes picks the detached garage which is less than helpful.

Oh, and this giveaway is open to US residents only.

Have a great week all and I hope to see you back here for a quick DIY nursery post and some chip talk.  Chip talk?  What kind of chip talk you ask?  You’ll have to wait to find out.  I don’t want to spoil that for you either.

– Joanna

Question of the Day:  Do you want to win this book?  Then tell me so!!!  Oh, and if you win and you’d rather have the kindle version, I’m sure that can be arranged too.  The Husband would probably even prefer that since it’s cheaper.  

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