Monday, March 27, 2017

Mailbox Monday: Hot Season by Susan DeFreitas

One HOT new book came into my house last week and I am excited to get it! What books came into your house last week?

Hot Season by Susan DeFreitas. This debut novel centers on three college women charged with activist passion and caught up in events they can't control.

Susan DeFreitas will be presenting on “The Small Press Publishing Landscape” at Tsunami Books in Eugene, Oregon on April 2, 2017. Check the Tsunami Books website for more details.

Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Review: Astoria by Peter Stark

We read Astoria by Peter Stark for book club and I was swept away by this real life adventure. In 1810, John Jacob Astor, with the blessing of Thomas Jefferson, sent explorers by land and sea to start a new country at the mouth of the Columbia River, where Astoria, Oregon is now located.

Loaded with blue glass beads and other trinkets to trade with the Native Americans for much more valuable furs, the plan was to set up an emporium on the Pacific coast that could be the center of a trade triangle between China, America (meaning the established east coast), and this new country of Astoria in the middle.

That things didn't go as planned is Stark's 400-page understatement and the basis for the subtitle: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival. The things these adventurers went through! And did to themselves and others! Astoria is one of the most exciting books I've ever read, and it is all history.

It is sometimes hard to keep all the people straight, especially when the groups start splintering off. Just who is starving; being captured by or aided by friendly natives; stealing or eating horses; capsizing, canoeing, portaging, or losing whatever vessel they are in; and who is in charge or turning traitor at any time gets a little jumbled. But the epic story is so much grander than the little pieces.

Astoria provides a missing piece of American history between the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the opening of the Oregon Trail. And it is a fascinating piece of history.


Astoria inspired my most creative Instagram book picture ever -- the one posted above. Find me on Instagram @giliondumas.


If you would like your review of Astoria listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Beginning: Cat's Paw by Mollie Hunt


Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.



I've been called a crazy cat lady all my life, but I never knew what crazy was until now. 

Cat's Paw by Mollie Hunt. This third installment in Hunt's Crazy Cat Lady mystery series follows Cat's Eyes and Copy Cats.

Lynley Cannon may be retired and volunteering for her local cat shelter, but she has a way of falling into adventures! In Cat's Paw, Lynley accepts an invitation to volunteer at the Cloverleaf Animal Shelter on its own island in the San Juans, but things turn from tranquil to terrifying when dead bodies turn up at the northwest retreat.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Author Interview: Bart King

Bart King is the author of several nonfiction books, including the wildly popular Big Book of Boy Stuff and Big Book of Girl Stuff.

The Drake Equation is King's first book of fiction, which he wrote with a middle school audience in mind. It's a funny science fiction adventure about Noah Grow, who is drawn into galactic intrigue when he finds a mysterious disc while out pursuing his favorite hobby -- birdwatching.

Bart recently answered questions for Rose City Reader:

How did you come to write The Drake Equation?

I’d been writing humorous nonfiction for kids over the last 10 years. At some point, I wondered: “What about this FICTION stuff I hear so much about?”

I’m almost not joking about that. Anyway, I had a great character in mind for a story. He’s based on my nephew, Noah, who’s a 12-year old naturalist. So in a leap of imagination, I made the protagonist of The Drake Equation a 12-year old naturalist named Noah.

The Drake Equation is a terrific adventure story. Do you have a series in mind?

Oh, thank you! I wrote this story as one complete, self-contained story arc. But it was 150,000 words long, which is twice the length of a typical novel for MG/YA readers. So I cut it in half, and it’s the first part. So while there may be a sequel (namely, the second half), there will not be a series.

The story almost jumps off the page. Are there plans to make a movie adaptation?

Again, I appreciate that. While there has been some interest in parties purchasing movie options to this story, the short answer to this question right now is “No.”

*weeps bitterly, throws back shot of apple juice*

What is your professional background? How did it lead you to writing this book?

I taught middle school for 15 years. During that time, I was convinced that my students who were reluctant readers just hadn’t found the right books. So I decided to try my own hand at writing stuff that was so irresistible, even the most jaded reluctant reader might be willing to take a crack at it.

Who is your intended audience for The Drake Equation?

My aim was to write a cracking good book for middle grade/YA readers — and immature adults. Seriously! The Drake Equation is a funny story, and if I did my job correctly, it will be funny to readers regardless of age.

Did you know right away, or have an idea, how you were going to end the story in The Drake Equation? Or did it come to you as you were in the process of writing?

I had a very sophisticated outline for Drake before I sat down. I knew what my opening scene was, I had a funny set piece for the middle, and I knew my ending. Yes, I had parts A, B, and C — I’m a genius! Over the course of rewriting the story, my opening scene and ending changed . . . leaving me at the end, with only my funny set piece (part B) remaining.

So much for that outline.

What did you learn from writing The Drake Equation – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?

I’ve written over 20 books, but they’re all nonfiction. So writing a novel was a new and difficult challenge. Plus, I have a very caustic internal editor.

For example, let’s say I needed to introduce a minor character. So I start writing. I call the character Samantha, and have her walk into a room where my protagonist is.

But my internal editor winces: “Really? ‘Samantha’? That’s the best you can do?”

“Hey, what’s wrong with Samantha?” I demand.

“Oh, nothing. Just seems a little . . . fakey.”

And the next thing you know, I’m agonizing over the NAME of a minor fictional character. Never mind what she looks like or how she’s going to kick-start the scene!

What are you reading now?

I read a lot. So I usually don’t tell people the WHOLE truth when this question comes up, because they think I’m lying or insane. But I am willing to go on the record for the Rose City Reader. I am currently reading:

What do you do to promote your books? Do you use social networking sites or other internet resources? 

I do have some social networking sites . . . ooh, and here they are!
  • Twitter: 
  • Facebook: 
  • Tumbler: 
  • Blog: 
  • Website: 

Do you have any events coming up to promote your book?

On April 21st, I will be one of the authors present at Homeword Bound, which is the fundraiser for the Community Partners for Affordable Housing in Portland. Other authors present will include Ruth Wariner, Peter Ames Carlin, and Monica Drake.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

The best thing about being a writer is that my imagination can run unfettered through the meadows. Unfortunately, sometimes it jumps a fence and then I don’t see my imagination again until it gets cold or hungry.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

I am co-writing an unnamed funny science-fiction adventure story with Gary Urey, a talented author based on Portland, Maine. Our story takes the form of messages written back and forth between two boys whose parents have dragged them off to opposite ends of the Milky Way.

Sadly, I just realized we don’t have a snappy title for this story yet. So I’m open to suggestions.

Thank you so very much for these questions. It was a pleasure!



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Teaser Tuesday & Portland Book Launch Announcement: On the Ragged Edge of Medicine

He was unsteady on his feet, from the booze, the beating, or both. Someone had stuck him in a wheelchair and rolled him into the exam room.

-- On the Ragged Edge of Medicine: Doctoring Among the Dispossessed, published by OSU Press. Patricial Kullberg's compelling new memoir is organized around vignettes of 15 of her homeless and urban poor patients.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at Broadway Book in Portland. 7:00 pm at 1714 NE Broadway.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

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