Surprises in the Books You Read – Rachel Gorin


I will read pretty much anything.  However, I do go through phases with my reading, like many people I know.  I’ve had a sci-fi/fantasy phase, a historical fiction phase, and phases where I’ve had a marathon of reading all of the books a particular author has written or about a particular person, group, or period in history (during the historical fiction phase, most likely).  But one thing that I’ve grown to really love and appreciate about any story is when it seems fresh (even if it’s an old classic; I mean any idea that’s new to me) or when it surprises me – for example, if a character does something I don’t expect, or an issue comes up that I didn’t even think about, or there’s a solution to a problem that I didn’t even know existed.  Though I’m sure some people haven’t been caught by surprise with some things that I have been.

In Charlotte Howard’s Seven Dirty Words (and incidentally one of Rocking Horse Publishing’s books), the main character, Paige, seems fresh, not just any old character who I’ve met before, some clichéd boy-next-door or damsel in distress (though Paige does have her moments – not that I hold it against her, because everyone has their moments, even the strongest of people).  I was also caught off guard by the choice she ends up making in the end.

Philippa Gregory surprised me with the way she depicted Anne Boleyn (for those of you who don’t know,  Anne Boleyn was King Henry VIII’s second wife in a string of wives, thought first to be famously behead, and mother of the future Queen Elizabeth I) in The Other Boleyn Girl.  And Robin Maxwell’s Anne Boleyn in The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn was completely different.  It’s interesting how people’s perspectives and the way histories from various groups of people can be so different.  Whether or not other people have been surprised doesn’t matter to me (though I hope people have been surprised by at least one story in the course of their lives, even if it’s by a movie or a TV show and not a book).  It allowed me to experience different points of view and to read something unlike things I had read before.

Einstein’s Dreams revealed me different ways to think about time.  Eoin Colfer’s The Wish List and Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones presented new ways of looking at the afterlife.  Author Jodi Picoult has presented some hot button topics in ways I had never thought of before and would never have crossed my mind had I not read some of her books.

Sometimes, when I talk with different people who see things in different ways, books I’ve read in the past or even books I’ve never read before seem new and fresh.  When I took a course about banned books, I learned about some possibilities for the story of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that I didn’t think even existed, even though I’d read the book before.  I came to know about the irony of Fahrenheit 451 being itself banned from some school curriculums or various libraries.  Some places had it available, but only a censored version (seriously, can you think of anything more ironic?).

It’s my personal opinion that one can always learn something from a book – any book.  But isn’t it so much more enjoyable when that book goes above and beyond your expectations and surprises you?  For all of you authors out there, I’d seriously consider thinking about striving towards this idea when you’re writing.  For all of you readers out there, try to find stories that challenge you and surprise you!  Those are the ones that will make you grow, those are the ones that will stay in your head long after you’ve finished – and, sometimes, they really are the most fun!

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RHP Book Reviews


I don’t typically officially review our house’s books, because, well – obviously I like them, or I wouldn’t publish them! I do give them a write-up in our local Patch prior to release, but never go on Amazon or Goodreads to post.

So here you go: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Just kidding, like I said – obviously I think they’re good!

REDUCED:

This is tough. I wrote it. One of the scenes near the beginning came to me in a dream and the next morning, Feb. 1, 2012, I started writing. Sure, it could be better – it was my first, after all, and no one’s perfect. But I like it. It gave me goosebumps while writing it. Plus, I got to view the world/new world through Abby, who is self-sufficient to the end and kicks some ass while she’s at it. Cool, huh?

REUSED:

Ahem. Again, my book. I’ve been told it’s better than the first one, but to me it’s just different, a continuation of REDUCED. I love my characters – and every so often, a new one pops into my head and tells me his story. I hadn’t really intended to write this book, and certainly not a third, RECYCLED.

SEVEN DIRTY WORDS:

I don’t write romance. I don’t read romance, any more. But this book really got to me. Author Charlotte Howard created Paige Holmes, an atypical romance heroine, and I just love her to pieces. There are some elements characteristic of most books in the romance genre: Paige is wealthy and has experienced trauma in her life, and she must make a choice between two men. The difference is that, while Paige is a tomboy of sorts, she also enjoys dressing up and well, romance!

DEBBIE:

This is a cute children’s book, primary to middle grade, and the story is narrated by Debbie – a ferret. There aren’t many books about ferrets on the market, and this one includes facts about and the care of ferrets, told from Debbie’s point of view. Author Conny Manero really did have a ferret named Debbie, and she knows exactly what she’s talking about – and Charlie the cat, Debbie’s new friend, was also a real cat who lived with Conny. DEBBIE has gotten some lovely reviews, some of them by the kids to whom this story is directed, which is high praise indeed!

INNSPIRING BREAKFASTS:

I’ll admit, looking at this cookbook, over and over, made me very hungry. Had a total craving for chocolate pancakes with strawberry sauce. Author Kriss Royer makes all the dishes in here for her B&B guests, and they absolutely love them! Her High Street Victorian Inn reviews never fail to mention the food. Plus, they’re fairly simple to prepare, and quick, and use everyday ingredients that you likely have on hand.

P.A.W.S.:

I first heard this book at our writers’ group – yes, heard! Author Debbie Kupfer was reading the first chapter of her WIP and every one of us was captivated by the story. One of the group said to me, “You HAVE to publish this!” So I did. The story begins in Vienna when the Nazis were coming into power and beginning to round up the Jewish citizens; Miri’s grandmother escapes, somehow, and the book goes on to tell Miri’s story. And it’s amazing! This book is geared toward younger teens, but even adults will enjoy it.

RECYCLED:

Okay, it’s not out yet, but I couldn’t resist a plug for my third book! And it WILL be released the end of this month. RECYLCED continues Abby’s story and brings it to a conclusion. When we last saw everyone, in REUSED, they were headed to Chicago. Jules is determined to return to St. Louis, and Abby and Alison have a two-fold purpose: rescue the children who were taken by the government for experimentation purposes, and maybe, somehow, bring about the destruction of Co-opCom.

So there you have it – RHP books, 2012-2013. So far. Stay tuned for more books being released each month!