IWSG: Camp NaNoWriMo and Setting Smaller Goals

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for a new Insecure Writer’s Support Group update. If you’d like to join IWSG and visit the awesome writers in the group, be sure to sign up at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.

Camp NaNoWriMo BadgeJuly Camp NaNoWriMo

June was a tough and busy month for me, so busy that I missed my last IWSG post. I had no progress with my writing so there’s not much to report. This month, however, I’m trying Camp NaNoWriMo again.

Setting Smaller Goals

I plan to finish what I started during April’s Camp session. Except this time I’m setting my word goal at 20k instead of 50k. A smaller goal is more realistic for me right now. If I can pass that goal then hooray. If not, I’ll keep trying until I do.

I’m focusing on the short stories I somehow started in April when I was supposed to be working on my novel. So, those short stories are my first priority and then it’s back to my novel.

Is anyone else doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month? What writing project are you working on right now?

Review: The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
The Wolf Border Book Cover The Wolf Border
Sarah Hall
Literary Fiction
Harper Colins
June 9, 2015
Paperback
448
TLC Book Tours

Rating: DNF rating

Synopsis: The award-winning author of The Electric Michelangelo returns with her first novel in nearly six years, a literary masterpiece about the reintroduction of wild wolves into the United Kingdom.

She hears them howling along the buffer zone, a long harmonic.
One leading, then many.
At night there is no need to imagine, no need to dream.
They reign outside the mind.

Rachel Caine is a zoologist working in Nez Perce, Idaho, as part of a wolf recovery project. She spends her days, and often nights, tracking the every move of a wild wolf pack—their size, their behavior, their howl patterns. It is a fairly solitary existence, but Rachel is content.

When she receives a call from the wealthy and mysterious Earl of Annerdale, who is interested in reintroducing the grey wolf to Northern England, Rachel agrees to a meeting. She is certain she wants no part of this project, but the Earl’s estate is close to the village where Rachel grew up, and where her aging mother now lives in a care facility. It has been far too long since Rachel has gone home, and so she returns to face the ghosts of her past.

The Wolf Border is a breathtaking story about the frontier of the human spirit, from one of the most celebrated young writers working today.

My Review

I received a free copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall is a contemporary literary fiction novel with vivid prose and a seemingly touching message. However, many aspects of the slowing plot caused me to lose interest in Rachel’s story and the book’s dialogue formatting confused me at times. Sadly, I could not finish the book because of these issues. This review is based solely on my interpretation of only reading the first half of The Wolf Border.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I love literary fiction and hate to give up reading a book. And I don’t mean to offend the author or anyone reading this review but I have to be honest. The Wolf’s Border just wasn’t my cup of tea. The story begins with Rachel Caine, a middle-aged zoologist who’s offered the chance to work on a prestigious new project. Thanks to the backing of the Earl of Annerdale, Thomas Pennington, Rachel is tasked with reintroducing the grey wolf back into the countryside of England.

This aspect of the plot is what caught my attention within the book’s first chapter or so. But then the focus shifts to Rachel facing opposition with protestors against the project, which seemed more like a nuisance than any real issue that needed handling. So, that problem is kind of pushed aside. In fact, much of what I thought this book would involve, the wolves, were set on the back burner. While Rachel’s personal and family problems take the spotlight.

Rachel seems to have problems with everyone in her life. She’s had a tough past with her promiscuous and snarky mother Binny. Rachel’s relationship with her brother has suffered over the years. And after one drunken night, Rachel becomes pregnant by her co-worker and friend Kyle. Of course much more is going on in her life, but that’s just the point of why this story didn’t settle well with me. From what I read of the book, the focus is mostly on Rachel’s relationship problems and has little to do with her fascinating job as a zoologist or her study of the wolves.

While I like Hall’s writing style, descriptions, and the peeks into Rachel’s past, I did not enjoy the way the dialogue is formatted in this book. The formatting makes it difficult to differentiate from the rest of the narrative. I can understand not using quotation marks for dialogue as an author’s preference, but many times I found myself confused about who was speaking because there were no quotations or enough dialogue tags.

I did like trying to understand Rachel’s problems with her mother Binny, and how Rachel drifted apart from a meaningful relationship with her brother Lawrence. I loved Binny. She seemed the most interesting of all the characters with her sarcasm and disagreeableness with her daughter. I was left wondering what really drove the two apart in previous years.

On the other hand, Rachel is a bit of an enigma. I can’t say for certain that I like or dislike her as a main character. Rachel’s problem with settling down and finding a mate, a relationship with someone she cares about, seems to be a prominent issue in the book. She, in many ways, mimics the pattern of a female wolf. Then there’s the issue with whether she will keep her baby or have an abortion. Meanwhile, she keeps that news hidden from Kyle.

There are a few sex scenes between Rachel and her partners, which I found slightly awkward since I was left wondering what Rachel’s ultimate goal was. It seemed that the wolf project would be the largest part of her life, yet the book only shares tidbits into her work with wolves. Instead, I was overwhelmed with Rachel’s flaws and mostly her dealings with her pregnancy. Perhaps if the book was presented with those aspects at the heart of the story then I would have had less trouble finishing the book.

Overall, my expectations of what The Wolf Border would involve and what it delivered left me disappointed and wanting more about Rachel’s work with the grey wolf and less baby drama. With that said, I cannot recommend this book since I did not finish it.

About Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall was born in 1974 in Cumbria, England. She received a master of letters in creative writing from Scotland’s St. Andrews University and has published four novels. Haweswater won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (overall winner, Best First Novel) and a Society of Authors Betty Trask Award.

The Electric Michelangelo was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Eurasia Region), and the Prix Femina Étranger, and was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Daughters of the North won the 2006/07 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction.

How to Paint a Dead Man was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Portico Prize for Fiction. In 2013 Hall was named one of Granta‘s Best Young British Novelists, a prize awarded every ten years, and she won the BBC National Short Story Award and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

You can find out more about Sarah at her website and on Facebook.

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IWSG: Reflections and Failures

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I can’t believe April is finally over. I’ve been busy, busy, busy and now finals are starting up at college! And guess what today is? It’s the first Wednesday of the month so that means it’s time for a new Insecure Writer’s Support Group update. For today’s post, I’m sharing some good and bad news. I’ll start with the good.

A to Z Challenge Reflections

A to Z Reflection 2015

Good news is the A to Z Challenge has come to an end, and I actually finished the challenge on time this year. But the fun’s not over yet. It’s become a tradition at the end of the A to Z Challenge for everyone to reflect about their time blogging through the alphabet. It’s called the A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflection and there’s a brand new linky list for A-to-Zers to join.

Reflecting is basically a time for people to sum up their thoughts about the challenge and visit the blogs they’ve missed during April. If you haven’t read mine already, here’s my post Reflecting on the April A to Z Challenge 2015.

Camp NaNoWriMo Failure

Camp NaNo

Now for the bad news. As the title implies, I totally failed Camp NaNoWriMo last month. I mentioned in my last IWSG post that I planned to take on the A to Z Challenge and Camp NaNoWriMo in April. While I finished the A to Z Challenge, I came nowhere near my original goal of writing 50,000 words by April 30th with Camp NaNo.

I only wrote shy of 4,000 words. And, yes, I know that’s pathetic. But some words are better than no words, so I won’t cry too much. I’ll just try again for Camp NaNoWriMo in July. So, did anyone else try Camp NaNo last month? And was April a crazy month for you too?

By the way, you can come join the IWSG and gather courage, support, and virtual hugs from like-minded people. You can signup at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.

Reflecting on the April A to Z Challenge 2015

A-to-Z Reflection [2015]

A-to-Z Reflection [2015]

A Big Thank You!

Woohoo! I actually finished the A to Z Challenge on time this year. Last year I had some trouble and ended posting late but this April was an actual success. Well, mostly. I was super busy this month with classes, blog posting, and trying to keep my life together.

But I loved visiting all the new and wonderful blogs I discovered during the challenge. Even though I fell behind on commenting towards the end, I greatly appreciate all of the fantastic people who stopped by my blog.

This Year’s Theme

My theme for this year’s challenge was blogging about the most beautiful libraries from around the world. And I had an amazing time researching and sharing all of those gorgeous locations. I was really surprised by all of the breathtaking architecture and lovely book nooks from each library I was able to share.

Some of my favorites were, well, all of them. I really liked this year’s roundup even more than last year’s. You can check out all of my favorites here.

The League of Legendary Ladies

League of Extraordinary LadiesI also want to give a shout out to the awesome A to Z Team the League of Legendary Ladies:

I was an A to Z minion on the team and tasked with my, you know, miniony duties during the challenge. We all had a lot of fun.

What’s To Come?

Next year, I’m starting with an entirely new theme for the A to Z Challenge. It’ll be something bookish that’s for sure, and I hope you’ll join me again. In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on all the blogs I may have missed in April.

And I’m starting on catching up with the A to Z Challenge Reflections Linky List. If you haven’t already joined the list, you can still signup until May 10th. And be sure to check out the other bloggers’ reflections.

So what did you think of the A to Z Challenge?

Z is for France’s Bibliothèque Mazarine

Bibliothèque Mazarine

letter zOk, so I’ve had to play around with a lot of the letters towards the end of the A to Z Challenge. I admit it. There just aren’t that many libraries, cities, states, or countries that begin with the letters X, Y, and especially Z. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are next to none.

So I’m going out on a limb here and sharing the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris, France. At least I found a Z in there somewhere. The Bibliothèque Mazarine is the oldest public library in France.

It was first established as the personal reading paradise of Cardinal Mazarin and later became a part of the Palais de l’Institut de France in 1682. As you can see from the the photos below, the reading room of the Bibliothèque Mazarine is marvelous.

France’s Bibliothèque Mazarine

Exterior of the Bibliothèque Mazarine
Source: Flickr
Bibliothèque Mazarine
Source: Flickr
Salle de lecture Bibliothèque Mazarine
Source: Wikipedia
Bibliothèque Mazarine
Source: Andrei.s.free.fr
Bookselves Mazarine Bibliothèque
Source: Flickr
Bookselves Mazarine Bibliothèque
Source: Flickr
Mazarine Bibliothèque
Source: Flickr
Mazarine Bibliothèque
Source: Flickr

Thanks for visiting me during the A to Z Challenge. Did you miss any of the amazing libraries I’ve shared along the way? You can catch up on my entire A to Z Challenge here.

And be sure to check out the other awesome bloggers at the Blogging from A to Z sign up list.

Y is for the New York Public Library

New York Public Library

letter yToday we’re visiting one of the most iconic libraries in the world. The New York Public Library in New York, New York is truly magnificent. And I’m sure many of us are familiar with the pair of lion statues that guard the library’s entrance. The lions are called Patience and Fortitude and they’ve been on guard ever since the library opened its doors in 1911.

The New York Public Library is also known as the Main Branch and is considered a historic landmark in Midtown Manhattan. Many of the photos below are of the library’s famous Rose Main Reading Room, which houses grand chandeliers, brass lamps, and gorgeous bookshelves lining the walls.

New York’s Public Library

New York Library Lion
Source: Rainy Day Magazine
New York Public Library
Source: Flickr
New York Public Library
Source: Flickr
New York Library
Source: Flickr
New York Library
Source: Flickr
New York Public Library
Source: Flickr

Like with yesterday’s post for the letter X, I had to get creative again for today’s featured library. There’s a Y in New York, so let’s just say that counts. 😉

I’ll see you tomorrow for the letter Z as the A to Z Challenge comes to an end.

X is for Mexico’s Unam Central Library

Unam Central Library

letter xHow cool. I get to share another library that I missed in last year’s A to Z Challenge. The Unam Central Library in Mexico City, known as the UNAM Biblioteca Central, is the main library for the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

This gorgeous library is also a World Heritage site and was established in 1950. The library’s current collection is over 40,000 books. And as you can see, the building’s exterior is covered in fantastic murals representing the ancient past of Mexican culture.

Mexico’s Unam Central Library

Unam Central Library
Source: Open Buildings
Unam Library
Source: Flickr
Unam Library
Source: Flickr
Unam Library
Source: Flickr
Unam Central Library
Source: Flickr

By the way, there is an X in Mexico and that’s the closest I could come to posting a library that’s relevant to today’s letter, lol. See you tomorrow for the letter Y.

W is for the Wiblingen Monastery Library

Wiblingen Monastery Library

letter wWelcome back to the last week of the A to Z Challenge. There are still three letters to go before the challenge ends, so let’s get to today’s featured library. The Wiblingen Monastery Library in Ulm, Germany looks more like a palace than a center for books.

This monastery was founded in 1093 and then remodeled in the 18th century. Today the library displays a beautiful fresco ceiling and the loveliest bookshelves I’ve ever seen.

The Wiblingen Monastery Library

Wiblingen Monastery Library
Source: Flickr
Wiblingen Monaster
Source: Flickr
Wiblingen Germany Library
Source: Flickr
Wiblingen Library
Source: Flickr
Wiblingen Monastery Library
Source: Flickr
Wiblingen
Source: Flickr

See you tomorrow for the letter X.

V is for the Vennesla Library and Culture House

Vennesla Library and Culture House

letter vToday’s post features another one of my favorite libraries from around the world. The Vennesla Library and Culture House in Norway is gorgeously modern inside and out. Completed in 2011, this library serves as a book haven, a learning center, and a house of culture.

Don’t you just love this library’s space-aged interior and all those lovely little book nooks? Not to mention that ceiling. Wow! Surprisingly, not everyone loves this library. Some have complained that while the building is modern and looks great, its functionality as a library is, well, not so great. One Norwegian newspaper even said that the building was inconvenient for normal library use. Now isn’t that interesting?

The Vennesla Library and Culture House

Vennesla Library and Culture House
Source: Flickr
Library and Cultural Center in Vennesla
Source: Flickr
Library and Cultural Center in Vennesla
Source: Flickr
Vennesla Library and Cultural House
Source: Flickr
Cultural Center Library
Source: Flickr
Vennesla Library and Culture House
Source: Flickr
Vennesla Library and Culture House
Source: Flickr

See you soon for the letter W.

U is for the United Kingdom’s Sir Duncan Rice Library

Sir Duncan Rice Library

letter uToday’s feature for the letter U reminds me of a library from last year’s A to Z Challenge. The United Kingdom’s Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland kinda resembles the Zurich University Law Library in Switzerland, wouldn’t you say?

The Sir Duncan Rice Library opened its doors in 2012 with a fairly modern design. The building contains 7 floors and houses a modern collection of learning and research materials along with some rare books and manuscripts. The library is open to students and the general Aberdeen area.

The United Kingdom’s Sir Duncan Rice Library

Sir Duncan Rice Library
Source: Flickr
Sir Duncan Rice Library
Source: Slate
TSDR Library
Source: Flickr
TSDR Library
Source: Flickr
Sir Duncan Rice hall
Source: Flickr
UK Library
Source: Flickr
TSDR books
Source: Flickr

See you tomorrow for the letter V.