Book Review: Writing the Natural Way

Writing the Natural Way: Turn the Task of Writing into the Joy of Writing

For those who yearn to write but falter at the sight of a blank page, the unique, student-proven techniques in Writing the Natural Way will help unlock natural writing style and storytelling abilities. First published in 1983, this popular classic has been revised with five completely new chapters and a wealth of field-tested exercises. Since 1973, Dr. Gabriele Rico has pioneered a dramatically different approach to writing that releases creative potential by tapping a rarely accessed part of the brain. Writing easily, meaningfully, and spontaneously is a simple matter of flowing with, rather than resisting, the mind’s natural cooperative rhythms. By abolishing formal rules and quelling the painful inner critic, Writing the Natural Way helps writers of all levels acquire the spontaneity and ease of uninhibited self-expression.
Review:
I absolutely love this book. I’ve actually had it for years and have dabbled with it off and on, always finding the exercises useful, but recently decided to read it cover to cover and do the exercises at the same time. I really enjoyed it and found something useful in every chapter, and even ended up with some decent work. More importantly, I kept my creative juices flowing.
Rico bases her work on right and left brain differences, what she calls Sign and Design mind. She uses a process called clustering to access that part of the brain that sees patterns and to (temporarily) bypass the internal editor in order to get ideas down on paper. She is a proponent of playing while writing and trying to re-discover that child-like wonder that many of us have forgotten.
For me, this is a wonderful approach, as I like to get my ideas down, get the words on the paper, play with words, and then edit it later. I found myself often coming full circle and making interesting, just like she said natural writing often does. And most of the exercises take 5 minutes or less.
I highly recommend this book for new and experienced writers. Rico’s approach is fun and easy — deceptively so, teaching us to trust ourselves and our brains to make connections and write from a natural place. As she illustrates in her book, this method works for both children and adults. If you are a writer and have ever experienced writer’s block, don’t know where to begin, or are looking to explore your creativity, I highly recommend checking out this book.

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Recently I have been having a hard time getting into reading due to some health issues. Finally, I decided to re-read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I first found this book in high school and instantly fell in love with it. I’ve read it a couple of times since and still find it funny, compelling, and a great read.

Synopsis:

Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together, this dynamic pair began a journey through space aided by a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed, ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars!

Review:

It’s hard for me even to consider writing a review of this book — it was one of those pivotal books I discovered in high school that opened up whole new worlds of writing to me. I hadn’t read much fantasy or sci-fi before I discovered Hitchhiker. I remember racing through it, soaking up the humour, the adventure, the sheer quirkiness of the book. No one else I knew had read it, so I couldn’t talk to anyone else about it and I would have loved that. Instead, I devoured everything else written by Adams, then started on some other fantasy books.

Re-reading Hitchhiker recently was a lot of fun, reminding me of why I loved the book so much. It’s become iconic — so many people know the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything now, they know the importance of carrying a towel, or the tragedy of a bowl of petunia’s falling from the sky.

All as I can say is that I love this book and will continue to love it, re-reading it every so often when I need a light-hearted laugh. I love the simple, outrageous, hilarious brilliance of Adams’ work and how it’s still current, all of these years later. In fact, what’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide but an e-reader with Wikipedia?

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Book Review: The Magic Lands

Book Review: The Magic Lands

A magnificent book of 55 folk and fairy tales, wonder tales and ghost stories from all over Britain and Ireland. Taken from original sources and then brilliantly retold in a fresh and modern way, this is the most comprehensive and authoritative collection written in the last twenty years.A handsome trade paperback with notes and sources. Each story has a beautiful opening illustration by Emma Chichester Clark, a major illustrator.

First published by Orchard Books as BRITISH FOLK TALES, it attracted rave reviews: ‘outstanding’ Naomi Lewis in The Observer ‘a sourcebook of folklore no home with children should be without’ The Independent ‘this great storyteller’ Philip Pullman in The Guardian ‘a fine storyteller with a poet’s ear’ The Independent

 

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed The Magic Lands. I love reading original folk tales and myths and this book puts 55 interesting British and Irish ones together.

Each tale is short, some less than a page, some several pages long, so this is a perfect book for reading to children or to bring with you while you need to wait somewhere.

As much as I enjoyed the stories, I am a historian at heart, so found myself going to the end to read the “Sources and Notes” section for each tale. Crossley-Holland has obviously done huge amounts of research in this area and tells us about where the stories first came from, where first recorded, and other interesting details.

This is a great book for anyone wanting original tales written in accessible, modern language.

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Book Review: The Emerald Dagger

Book Review: The Emerald Dagger (The Raiders of Folklore #2)

The hunt for the Eye of Odin continues…

Since discovering a hidden world existed parallel to our own, fifteen-year-old Grayle Rowen learned he’s also a Hexhunter, someone born with the skills to track down and kill witches. Awkward…since his friend, Sarah Finn, is a witch-for-hire.

Now, together with Sarah and her elf Caretaker, Grayle travels to Istanbul to retrieve a third runestone linked to the whereabouts of the Eye of Odin—an artifact of unimaginable power. Their search pits them against Romans, a Crusader hit squad, and a journey through a deadly tomb. But what Grayle and Sarah discover about themselves along the way might be more than what they bargained for, and may ultimately put their friendship to the test.

From Istanbul’s grandest sites to its deepest tunnels, Dennis Staginnus has created a fast and furious thrill ride in this sequel to The Eye of Odin.

Review:
Dennis Staginnus’ Raiders of Folklore series just keeps getting better. I enjoyed his first book, The Eye of Odin, but this second installment is even better.
The Emerald Dagger had me hooked right from the first pages and kept me turning the pages to see what’s going to happen next. There is never a dull moment. And the story has mythological elements, something which I love.
The main characters, Grayle and Sarah, really start to come into their own in this book as we learn more about them and their motives for getting the Eye of Odin. The stakes just keep getting higher and more personal which makes the reader want them to succeed even more.
This is a great middle grade/early young adult book, especially for readers who like lots of action and adventure.
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