Archives for May 2015

Book Review: The Methods of Breaking Bad


Were you a fan of Breaking Bad? Here’s a review I just posted on about a collection of essays on that groundbreaking show:

Breaking Bad, a television show that ran from 2008 to 2013, was popular, well-written and executed, and thought-provoking. This collection of essays about the program, edited by Jacob Blevins and Dafydd Wood, is an interesting and in-depth look at its characters and their motivations and morals.

However, The Methods of Breaking Bad: Essays on Narrative, Character and Ethics, is written in an academic style. At times, I felt some of the chapters were a bit dry, and they probably won’t appeal to readers who lack the inclination or energy to focus on the serious and complex issues the book addresses, such as health care, politics and scientific ethics.

I also wonder if this book will find a lot of readers now that no new episodes are being made. As a writer, I was interested in the ways it studied character development in fiction.

If you were a fan of the show, or you’re looking for insights on creating fascinating characters and plots, I recommend this book. Readers looking for lightweight or beach-type books may want to pass.

I received a free copy of this book from, but my opinions are my own.

Front cover images © 2015 iStock/Thinkstock; Used by permission of McFarland & Co. Inc., Publishers.

Book review: If You’re Lucky

Courtesy Algonquin Books for Young Readers
Plan on staying up late if you choose IF YOU’RE LUCKY, by Yvonne Prinz, for a bedtime read. This young adult novel, which goes on-sale in October 2015, is a quick read and a gripping thriller.

It’s the story of 17-year-old Georgia, “George” to her friends, and the aftermath of her brother’s drowning while surfing in Australia. Losing a sibling would be tragedy enough, and her brother’s nickname, Lucky, belies his fate. But George also suffers from mental illness, and her meds leave her feeling isolated and alone. (And isn’t adolescent a time for those kinds of feelings?)


Then handsome, enigmatic Fin shows up, saying he was a close friend of Lucky’s, although George had never heard of him. Fin charms his way into her family’s life, even earning the devotion of their dog, and begins to romance Lucky’s girlfriend.


She starts to question whether he might have murdered Lucky, just to take his place. I won’t give away the specific nature of George’s mental illness, which isn’t revealed until the tension starts to build. The reader is left to ask: Is George right about Fin? Or is she delusional and paranoid?


In many ways, this feels like a Patricia Highsmith novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. But Prinz has written her story in an easy-to-read style, with brief chapters and short, simple sentences, that most young adults will breeze through. (I wouldn’t have minded if the writing had been a bit more complex or challenging, but that’s just my preference.)


My only real criticism–and this isn’t much–is the use of the name “Lucky,” and how it played into the title and resolution. It felt slightly gimmicky, to me. But I did think that George’s objections to taking her meds–and sometimes, her outright refusal to take them–rang true, from what I know about mental illness. She’s a realistic and believable character, and you find yourself rooting for her.  I received this book as an advance reading copy from the publisher, but that has not influenced the opinions I’ve expressed here.


Image courtesy of Algonquin Books for Young Readers

G2B 2015


Don’t you love a reunion? It’s a chance to see old friends, catch up on what everyone’s been doing,  and share great food and and stories. I’m excited that I’ve been invited to P. Allen Smith’s upcoming Garden 2 Blog event, a reunion of garden bloggers from around the country.

Each year, Allen hosts this get-together at his beautiful home in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sponsors like Bonnie Plants and Jobe’s Organics will be there, leading workshops on new plants and garden products.

When we get home, we’ll share what we’ve learned, because that’s what garden bloggers do: we lean over the back fence—although it’s a “virtual fence” these days–and tell our friends how to banish Japanese beetles, harvest bigger, tastier tomatoes and train wayward roses on trellises.

In the meantime, please check out my gardening articles on, where I’m a regular contributor.

hydrangeas in Suzanne Hudson's garden

Love hydrangeas? Find the perfect plants to grow here.


Need easy-to-grow flowers for a summer garden? Zinnias like these attract butterflies. Click here for more info.


You can grow blueberries even if you don’t have much space; plant dwarf varieties.