Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Beginning: The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood


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, 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.



Ava saw it as soon as she turned the corner. She stopped, squinting as if that would change what she was looking at.

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle. Ava's husband leaves her after 25 years. She joins a book club where each member chooses the book that matters most to them. The book Ava chooses will unravel secrets of her own traumatic past and help her adult daughter who is struggling in a destructive relationship of her own -- in Paris.

Does this sound like the PERFECT summer book or what?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Favorite Author: Amanda Cross

Amanda Cross is the pen name of Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, a tenured English lit professor at Columbia University. She wrote many non-fiction books under her own name, including a biography of Gloria Steinem. But she wrote her series of mystery novels featuring Kate Fansler, English professor and amateur sleuth, under her pen name.

There are 14 books in the Kate Fansler series. I started the series because I like the idea of an English professor solving mysteries. Duh. I was an English major.

I've only read the first two, which is why those titles are in red. Those on my TR shelf are in blue.

CREATED: June 19, 2016. The entire series belongs on my list of Campus Novels

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Light of Paris

I was the one who had married him, and here he was, charging in on his white horse to rescue me. Or, more likely, to rescue himself.

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown. When Madeleine's marriage hits a rough patch, she takes inspiration from her grandmother Margie's diary to spend an adventurous summer in Paris, reconnecting with her creative self. The book alternates between Madeleine's and Margie's stories.

Eleanor Brown wrote the bestselling novel, The Weird Sisters. She drew on the true story of her own grandmother's romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris in writing The Light of Paris.

I just added The Light of Paris to my French Connections list.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mailbox Monday: Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander

Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event. Mailbox Monday has now returned to its permanent home where you can link to your MM post.

I got one book last week, and it looks like a lot of fun:

Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander. This is the fourth book in Alexander's Bakeshop Mystery series featuring baker sleuth Jules Capshaw and set in Ashland, Oregon.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Author Interview: Diana Abu-Jaber

Diana Abu-Jaber's new memoir, Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir of Food and Family, celebrates the author's cross-cultural heritage and examines how she built a whole life out of the different parts of family, marriage, career, and motherhood.

Diana recently answered questions for Rose City Reader:

You’ve written four novels and a previous memoir, The Language of Baklava. How did you come to write this new memoir, Life Without a Recipe?

It started with the title. When my daughter was still a baby, I was telling a friend about how much I was looking forward to cooking for Gracie. She stopped me and said: there’s the title of your next book -- Cooking for Grace. I ended up with a different title, but the idea of the book took hold right away. My first memoir was all wrapped up with my father and his cooking; I realized it was time to claim my own recipes, in a sense, to write my next life chapter. Life Without a Recipe is my grown up story -- about my attempt to create a creative life -- as a writer and a parent -- to see if I could begin to make my own path.

Your memoir is intensely personal, dealing as you do with your three marriages, the death or loved ones, and your decision to adopt a child in your forties. Did you have any qualms about sharing so much?

Oh yes! There was a time when my editor and I were calling it Three Weddings, Four Funerals, and a Baby. When I first started writing this memoir, my father-in-law and father were both still alive, my daughter was still a baby, we hadn’t moved, I hadn’t been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and so on. About two-thirds of the book’s contents happened while I was still writing it. And each of these big life events required me to undertake a kind of mental negotiation. At first, I didn’t even consider addressing my father’s death. Then it was sort of like, well, what if I just wrote about it for myself? Or my family? Through writing the book, I began to understand that it’s exactly the most difficult, elusive, private things that become the most central to one’s project. Any writer worth her salt knows the first rule is to dig deep, be brave, be honest. Otherwise, what does any of it matter?

Did you think of turning your own experience into fiction and writing the book as a novel?

Well, my novels generally come from story ideas -- a sort of what-if approach to story-telling. Eventually, certain kinds of thoughts, experiences, and characters may filter in from “real life,” but more as a way of enlarging the whole. My memoirs, on the other hand, are descriptions of lived experience. They’re such different animals to me, when I embark on one I feel committed to that genre and that approach.

Can you recommend any other memoirs that deal with major life issues with the kind of heart and humor you put into yours?

Thank you! There are so many memoirs I admire, but just a few of my favorites are:

What are you reading now?

These days, I’m always reading a novel and some sort of health or nutrition book at the same time. Since I’ve started trying to control my blood pressure, it’s become a sort of hobby of mine. So right now I’m alternating reading The Little Red Chairs [by Edna O'Brien] and Controlling Heart Disease. A bit of a bipolar approach, I suppose, but the books are equally fascinating in their very different ways, they provide me with different literary nutrients, if you will -- mental and physical.

You have a terrific website and are active on twitter. From an author's perspective, how important are social networking sites and other internet resources to promote your books?

I wish I knew. For my own purposes, I love social media because writing is such solitary work, Twitter and other such sites provide a way to feel quickly and easily connected to others. And I enjoy how uncomplicated it is -- at least, my approach is. For those of us who don’t have to report to offices, sites like Twitter in particular can function as a sort of virtual water-cooler. As for selling books -- hmm, seems like the jury’s still out on that one.

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

I’ll be speaking at the Orlando Book Festival today, June 18th; Murder On the Beach Bookstore in Delray Beach, FL on August 10th; at Wordstock in Portland, OR, on November 5th; and the Miami Book Fair in mid-November. I try to keep my website events page updated with new events also.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author? What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as a new mother?

  1. Read as much as you possibly can. Read the sorts of books you aspire to write.
  2. Trust your instincts. Nobody’s happy unless Mommy is happy.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Freedom of the mind, the imagination, the spirit. The sense of making something new and personally meaningful is deeply gratifying and difficult. Writing stretches you -- it’s hard in all the ways that feel essential and most rewarding.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

Life Without a Recipe is my 6th published book, and I always seem to feel like my most recent work is my best. Second place would have to go to my novel Birds of Paradise, which required an enormous effort for me as a writer and artist -- when I finished that novel, it felt like I’d somehow written the sort of book I’d wanted to write for years.

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

Always. I have a young adult fantasy called SilverWorld which should be coming out next year. And I’m at work on the next novel, but it’s still too soon to unveil!



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