Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Beginning & GIVEAWAY Reminder: Vacationland by Sarah Stonich


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.

A book won't stand or fall on the very first line of prose -- the story has got to be there, and that's the real work. And yet a really good first line can do so much to establish that crucial sense of voice -- it's the first thing that acquaints you, that makes you eager, that starts to enlist you for the long haul. So there's incredible power in it, when you say, come in here. You want to know about this. And someone begins to listen.   -- Stephen King in The Atlantic

EARLY BIRDS: I am experimenting with getting this post up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. We'll try it this way for a couple of months to see if people like the option of early posting. If you have feelings one way or the other, please comment.

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

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING



When Ilsa shakes snow from her ruff, the thing leaves her jaws to skitter across the linoleum.

-- From "Separation," the first story in the interconnected collection, Vacationland by Sarah Stonich.

The first sentence is instantly confusing. But the opening paragraph makes clear that Ilsa is a dog with a frozen something in her jaws.  I had to keep reading to figure out what was going on, and once I did, I was completely sucked into the story. 

Stonich's earlier books, These Granite Islands and The Ice Chorus, which I reviewed here, both showcase her talent as a compelling storyteller.  In Vacationland, you feel like you are right there at Naledi Lodge, an all-but-abandoned former lake resort in northern Minnesota.

GIVEAWAY REMINDER

Thanks to the author and her publicist, I have a copy of Vacationland to give away to one lucky blogger.  For details and to enter, please go to the GIVEAWAY PAGE.

PLEASE DON'T SIGN UP FOR THE GIVEAWAY HERE. GO TO THIS PAGE.

THE BOOK

On a lake in northernmost Minnesota, you might find Naledi Lodge—only two cabins still standing, its pathways now trodden mostly by memories. And there you might meet Meg, or the ghost of the girl she was, growing up under her grandfather’s care in a world apart and a lifetime ago. Now an artist, Meg paints images “reflected across the mirrors of memory and water,” much as the linked stories of Vacationland cast shimmering spells across distance and time.

Those whose paths have crossed at Naledi inhabit Vacationland: a man from nearby Hatchet Inlet who knew Meg back when, a Sarajevo refugee sponsored by two parishes who can’t afford “their own refugee,” aged sisters traveling to fulfill a fateful pact once made at the resort, a philandering ad man, a lonely Ojibwe stonemason, and a haiku-spouting girl rescued from a bog.

Review: The Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy



White Russians, communists, atheists, Catholics, progressives, classicists, English professors, and visiting poets all roam the halls of Jocelyn College and the pages of Mary McCarthy’s 1951 campus novel classic, The Groves of Academe. Jocelyn is an experimental liberal arts college somewhere in New England and prides itself on the academic freedom enjoyed by its professors and students. But when Henry Mulcahy gets a letter from the college president informing him that his contract will not be renewed in the fall, he tries to twist the college’s liberal Zeitgeist to his own advantage.

Mulcahy starts the rumor that he was let go because he was a member of the Communist Party. In the era of McCarthy hearings and Hollywood blacklists, Mulcahy perversely figures that his fellow academics in the English department would rally to support him in his hour of prosecution, championing his cause for political freedom.

What follows is a series of closed-door conspiracies, petty intrigues, and shuffling alliances, as the English department debates Mulcahy’s future and tries to persuade the president to keep him on. Meanwhile, Jocelyn hosts its first-ever poetry conference, introducing a dozen new characters and opportunity for greater mischief.

Freedom is the underlying theme to all threads of the story. Debates rage (in the civilized, over-intellectual tones of college professors) around the idea of freedom: freedom in academics, politics, sex, ideology, religion, poetry, movement, and expression. Specific discussions address whether, in a supposed bastion of academic freedom, a card-carrying Communist can be intellectually free or must take orders from the Party? Are Catholics in the same position, bound by the dictates of Rome? Are the students of Jocelyn really academically free to choose their fields of study, as advertised, if the professors, anxious to reduce their own workload, steer the students towards a select syllabus? Are the students, in fact, better off with a little intellectual steering?

Often, McCarthy raises the idea of personal freedom more subtly, in the choices the characters make or descriptions of college life. For instance, the new-found freedom enjoyed by college students sparkles in this gem, describing the professor who always volunteered to chaperone student trips abroad in exchange for free travel:
Whenever, during the summer, he took a party of students abroad under his genial wing, catastrophic event attended him. As he sat sipping his vermouth and introducing himself to tourists at the Flore or the Deux Magots, the boys and girls under his guidance were being robbed, eloping to Italy, losing their passports, slipping off to Monte Carlo, seeking out an abortionist, deciding to turn queer, cabling the decision to their parents, while he took out his watch and wondered why they were late in meeting him for the expedition to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
With that kind of wit and insight, the story plays out like the best drawing room drama. It is sneakily funny, both as subtle and biting as a gin gimlet. For example, McCarthy deftly captures the character of the college president:
Like all such official types, he specialized in being his own antithesis: strong but understanding, boisterous but grave, pragmatic but speculative when need be. The necessity of encompassing such opposites had left him with a little wobble of uncertainty in the center of his personality, which made other people…feel embarrassed by him.
McCarthy is credited with inventing the “academic novel” with The Groves of Academe. This is satire at its best, finding absurdity in the minutia that drive the characters rather than clownish humor in exaggeration. As Commentary Magazine wrote when Groves was first published, McCarthy annoyed the politically correct before the term was even invented: “There is a particular kind of ‘right-thinking’ mind that is reduced to a frantic rage not only by what she says, but by her tone, her metaphorical habits, the very shape of her sentences.” Many have followed McCarthy’s campus novel template, but no one has exceeded her achievement.

OTHER REVIEWS

If you would like your review of this or any other Mary McCarthy novel listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

NOTES

This review was first published by Cascade Policy Institute as part of its Freedom in Film & Fiction series.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday & GIVEAWAY: Vacationland by Sarah Stonich



Meg walks the path from the lodge, hoping Polly might have leftover poundcake In her cabin for tea, maybe some of the oranges. The path twines along the shore through a copse of birch, down to the inlet of bald rock where the two remaining cabins stand.

-- From "Occlusion," one of the linked stories in Vacationland by Sarah Stonich.


I know from Stonich's earlier books, These Granite Islands and The Ice Chorus, which I reviewed here, that she knows how to set the scene and keep a story moving. Her writing is elegant, but unobtrusive – the story always comes through.

The connected stories in Stonich's new book are all set at Naledi Lodge, now the forlorn remnants of a once popular summer lake resort in northern Minnesota.  Once you start reading, you won't be able to stop.

THE BOOK

On a lake in northernmost Minnesota, you might find Naledi Lodge—only two cabins still standing, its pathways now trodden mostly by memories. And there you might meet Meg, or the ghost of the girl she was, growing up under her grandfather’s care in a world apart and a lifetime ago. Now an artist, Meg paints images “reflected across the mirrors of memory and water,” much as the linked stories of Vacationland cast shimmering spells across distance and time.

Those whose paths have crossed at Naledi inhabit Vacationland: a man from nearby Hatchet Inlet who knew Meg back when, a Sarajevo refugee sponsored by two parishes who can’t afford “their own refugee,” aged sisters traveling to fulfill a fateful pact once made at the resort, a philandering ad man, a lonely Ojibwe stonemason, and a haiku-spouting girl rescued from a bog.

THE GIVAWAY

The contest is for readers in the USA only (sorry) and is open until Labor Day Monday, September 2, 2013, at 4:00 PST. There are five ways to enter and each one is worth a chance to win. To enter, do any or all of the following, but you must leave a comment for each one and you must put an email address in a comment so I know you want to enter the giveaway:

1. Comment on this post. You must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner. (1 entry)

2. Blog about this giveaway. Posting the giveaway on your sidebar is also acceptable. Leave a separate comment with a link to your post. (1 entry)

3. Follow this blog with Google or NetworkedBlogs, or subscribe via email (or tell me if you already are a subscriber or follower). Leave a separate comment for this. (1 entry)

4. Tweet this post on Twitter. Leave me a separate comment with your twitter user name. (1 entry)

5. Post this on a social network. Put it on facebook, post it on Google+, pin it on Pinterest, Stumble it, digg it, reddit, or otherwise put it out there in the social network. Leave a separate comment with a link or explanation. (1 entry)

There are a lot of ways to enter (maximum of five entries), but you must LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT for each one or they will not count. I will use random.org to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is open to entries from the U.S. only. The deadline for entry is 4:00 PM, Pacific Time, on Labor Day Monday, September 2, 2013. I will draw and post the winner's name in my Teaser Tuesday post going up at 5:00 PM on September 2, 2013.  


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 





Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday this holiday weekend! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Kathy at Bermuda Onion stepped in to host in August -- thanks, Kathy!

I got one book last week, from Sasquatch Books:



Driving Home: An American Journey by Jonathan Raban. It is a collection of essays by a Brit living in America. It looks like it might be a little more heavy on politics than travel, but I'll give it an open mind.

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:

For more than thirty years, Jonathan Raban has written with infectious fascination about people and places in transition or on the margins, about journeys undertaken and destinations never quite reached, and, as an expat, about what it means to feel rooted in America. Spanning two decades, Driving Home charts a course through the Pacific Northwest, American history, and current events as witnessed by "a super-sensitive, all-seeing eye. Proving that an outsider is the keenest observer of the scene that natives take for granted, this collection of Jonathan Raban’s essays affirms his place as the most literate, perceptive, and humorous commentator on the places, characters, and obsessions that constitute the American scene. Raban spots things we might otherwise miss; he calls up the apt metaphors that transform things into phenomena. "He is one of our most gifted observers." (Newsday).

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Kitchen Remodel, Week Twenty-Six: Hard at Work

We are down to the last bits of kitchen remodeling. The brick we've waited for for months finally got here. Most impressively, the guys who came to put  the concrete cap on top of the bricks arrived at 8:00 a.m. and were still here a little before 10:00 p.m. when I took this picture.


Meanwhile, the four books I'm reading this week are all great but have nothing to do with food: 


WEEKEND COOKING




Thursday, August 22, 2013

GIVEAWAY WINNER & Book Beginning: What's Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies


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.

GIVEAWAY:  Big thanks to everyone who participated in this week's giveaway for
Cleans Up Nicely by Linda Dahl, a new novel about the 1970s art scene in New York City.  The two lucky winners are Laurel-Rain Snow at Rainy Days & Mondays and Story Corner, and Tammi at Picture Perfect Cooking.

EARLY BIRDS: I am experimenting with getting this post up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. We'll try it this way for a couple of months to see if people like the option of early posting. If you have feelings one way or the other, please comment.

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

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING



"The book must be dropped."

-- What's Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies.

This is the second book in his "Cornish Trilogy," following The Rebel Angels. The trilogy concludes with The Lyre of Orpheus. The three books are separate stories but all related to the life and influence of Francis Cornish, an eccentric Canadian art collector.

I have been slow to get to Robertson Davies, despite recommendations I would normally jump on. Several of his books have sat on my TBR shelf for years. The basis of my reluctance is insubstantial -- I was put off by the cover art of this book and others and by his author's picture. How could someone who looks like an Oregon Trail pioneer write a book that I would enjoy?


But I took the plunge with The Rebel Angels and enjoyed it -- loved it for the most part and was put off by a couple of atrocious set pieces that took time to recover from. My review is here. What's Bred in the Bone has me sucked in and I hope to devote much of the upcoming weekend to it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Are They Reading? Letting Go by Philip Roth


Authors tend to be readers, so it is natural for them to create characters who like to read.  It is always interesting to me to read what books the characters are reading in the books I read. Even if I can't say that ten times fast.

Usually, the characters' choice of books reflects the author's tastes or, I sometimes think, what the author was reading at the time.  But sometimes the character's reading material is a clue to the character's personality, or is even a part of the story. 

This is an occasional blog event. If anyone wants to join in, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your related post. And feel free to use the button.  If this catches on, I can pick a day and make it a weekly event.

LETTING GO BY PHILIP ROTH



Letting Go was Roth's first novel, published when he was only 29, but after he won the National Book Award (for the first time) for Goodbye, Columbus (reviewed here).

Letting Go catches flak for being long and more traditional than Roth's later books.  I am only about halfway through it and I don't care how long it is. I want it to go on and on.

Letting Go is the story of Gabe Wallach, a college professor, and his relationship with Paul and Libby Herz, from when they meet at graduate school in Iowa and then work together in Chicago.  The main plot is broken into side stories and set pieces, including those about Gabe's father, Paul's parents, and Gabe's girlfriend Martha.

Since Gabe and Paul are both English professors, it is no surprise that the characters in Letting Go read and talk about books.  Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady plays a big role in the first section of the book, as Gabe and Libby build an awkward, sexually charged friendship out of their discussions of James's masterpiece. 


 




Monday, August 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday & GIVEAWAY Reminder: Cleans Up Nicely by Linda Dahl





By Wednesday, all she can think about is the paycheck on Friday night. She gives up being "good," bringing a bottle of rum and a can of Coke in a bag along with her sandwiches.
-- Cleans Up Nicely by Linda Dahl

THE BOOK: "When twenty-something artist Erica Mason moves from laidback Mexico to Manhattan in the mid-1970s, she finds a hard-edged, decadent, and evolving art scene. Her life there leads her to a self-destructive string of affairs with men, alcohol, and drugs – but also, ultimately, to the self-respect that has long eluded her."

The mid-70s New York scene is fascinating, even though watching the heroine on her train wreck is gut-wrenching.  But I know things are going to work out -- I read the blurb above!

THE GIVEAWAY:  I have TWO copies of the finished paperback edition of Cleans Up Nicely to give away to TWO lucky book bloggers. Go to the GIVEAWAY PAGE for details and to sign up.


PLEASE DON'T SIGN UP FOR THE GIVEAWAY HERE. GO TO THIS PAGE.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 



Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday this holiday weekend! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Kathy at Bermuda Onion stepped in to host in August -- thanks, Kathy!

I got two books last week, both Lee Child Jack Reacher books.  I was pleased as punch to get a copy of his brand new one from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program.  Then I figured out from my mom (another Reacher Creature) that I had missed one. So I ordered that one immediately.



Never Go Back, the brand new one.

 

A Wanted Man, which comes before Never Go Back.  This one was published after The Affair, but chronologically comes right after Worth Dying ForThe Affair goes back to Reacher's military days.




Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kitchen Remodel, Week Twenty-Five: Eency Weency Water Spout






I have eency weency spiders on my mind because Portland has been invaded by them.  You can't walk between two trees, bushes, gateposts, or any other pair of things closer than eight feet apart without getting spider web stuck to you or, worse, one of the little critters scurrying on you. Ick!

The kitchen remodel is still waiting on exterior bricks.  The word is, the bricks are now in the state of Oregon -- not at my house, but within the borders of the state.

In the meantime, I was just pleased to see this little length of copper drain pipe finally get installed.  It meant we could finally say Bye Bye to the black PVC pipe that has been hanging from our eaves since January.


Inside the kitchen was busy because yesterday was Caponata Day at my house.  Every year, I take advantage of friends' garden bounty and our local farmers market and spend one day making a huge batch of caponata.  I freeze it in smaller packages to enjoy all winter.

Part of this tradition is to try to find a caponata recipe in my Cookbook Library, get frustrated, and make it up from versions I've seen on the internet or eaten myself. Despite the number of Italian cookbooks I have and enjoy (see list below), as far as I found before giving up, only one of them has a recipe for eggplant caponata and it is a hugely simplified version -- basically sauteed eggplant with some vinegar and garlic.  

MY CAPONATA RECIPE

eggplant, with peel, in 1 1/2" cubes
yellow and/or green zucchini. with peel, in 1 1/2" cubes
yellow onion, quartered or cut into eighths, separated
celery, in 1" pieces
tomatoes, in 1 1/2" pieces or, if cherry or pear, whole
garlic cloves, peeled
pitted green olives, with or without pimento
capers
oilve oil
red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Amounts depend on what you like and have, traditionally heavy on the eggplant.  In years where friends grew lots of red or yellow peppers, I've included those too.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Separately roast eggplant, zucchini, onion, and celery with olive oil, turning occasionally, until browned and soft, but not mushy.  Do the same with the tomatoes, but they will get mushy.  Roast the garlic cloves in olive oil either in the oven, on the stove top, or in the microwave.

Once cooked, combine the vegetables with the olives and capers and stir it all together. Add vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste.  Add more olive oil if desired.

Eat warm or at room temperature.  Add more vinegar right before serving to brighten it up.  Eat as is for a side dish. Chop it up a little and serve with crackers or bruschetta for an appetizer -- very good with goat cheese.  Or chop it up a lot and use as a sauce with polenta or pasta.

Many recipes call for canned tomato sauce or canned chopped tomatoes instead of fresh, but it turns out more sauce-like, which is good if you want sauce, but not as good as an appetizer.  You can always add tomato sauce later to use it as a sauce.

MY ITALIAN COOKBOOKS
(with no caponata recipes that I found)

The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan

Cucina Rustica by Viana La Place

A Fresh Taste of Italy: 250 Authentic Recipes, Undiscovered Dishes, and New Flavors for Every Day by Michele Scicolone

Italian Casserole Cooking by Angela Catanzaro

The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio by Wanda Tornabene (with the simplified caponata recipe)

Marcella's Italian Kitchen by Marcella Hazan

Naples at Table: Cooking in Campania by Arthur Schwartz

Pasta Classica: the Art of Italian Pasta Cooking by Julia Della Croce

The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed

A Tuscan in the Kitchen: Recipes and Tales from My Home by Pino Luongo

Veneto: Authentic Recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast by Julia della Croce




WEEKEND COOKING


















Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book Beginning & DOUBLE GIVEAWAY: Cleans Up Nicely by Linda Dahl


SEE BELOW FOR DOUBLE GIVEAWAY DETAILS

LAST WEEK'S GIVEAWAY WINNERS:

Cynthia at Things You Read in Books and Juli at A Universe in Words are the lucky winners of Drive by Raymond Ahrens. Read more about this thought-provoking new book here.

BOOK BEGINNINGS

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: I am experimenting with getting this post up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. We'll try it this way for a couple of months to see if people like the option of early posting. If you have feelings one way or the other, please comment.

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

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING




Her destination, that summer of 1977, is a luxury apartment building, upper Fifth Avenue, a slice of New York life completely alien to her.

Cleans Up Nicely by Linda Dahl

THE BOOK: "When twenty-something artist Erica Mason moves from laidback Mexico to Manhattan in the mid-1970s, she finds a hard-edged, decadent, and evolving art scene. Her life there leads her to a self-destructive string of affairs with men, alcohol, and drugs – but also, ultimately, to the self-respect that has long eluded her."

So far, this strikes me a gritty chick lit with an edge.  The mid-70s New York setting makes it retro-cool irresistible.

THE GIVEAWAY

Thanks to hard-working book publicist Mary Bisbee-Beek, I have TWO copies of the finished paperback edition of Cleans up Nicely to give away to TWO lucky book bloggers.  Even better, this is a LEAPFROG giveaway, meaning that both winners will get to host a giveaway of their own!

The contest is for readers in the USA only (sorry) and is open until Thursday, August 29, 2013, at 4:00 PST. There are five ways to enter and each one is worth a chance to win. To enter, do any or all of the following, but you must leave a comment for each one and you must put an email address in a comment:

1. Comment on this post. You must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner. (1 entry)

2. Blog about this giveaway. Posting the giveaway on your sidebar is also acceptable. Leave a separate comment with a link to your post. (1 entry)

3. Follow this blog with Google or NetworkedBlogs, or subscribe via email (or tell me if you already are a subscriber or follower). Leave a separate comment for this. (1 entry)

4. Tweet this post on Twitter. Leave me a separate comment with your twitter user name. (1 entry)

5. Post this on a social network. Put it on facebook, post it on Google+, pin it on Pinterest, Stumble it, digg it, reddit, or otherwise put it out there in the social network. Leave a separate comment with a link or explanation. (1 entry)

There are a lot of ways to enter (maximum of five entries), but you must LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT for each one or they will not count. I will use random.org to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is open to entries from the U.S. only. The deadline for entry is 4:00 PM, Pacific Time, on Thursday, August 29, 2013. I will draw and post the winner's name in my Book Beginning post going up at 5:00 PM on August 29, 2013.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Teaser Tuesday & GIVEAWAY Reminder: Drive by Raymond Ahrens




The ocean lurked below him. He floored it, his tires screeching as the Impala fishtailed it dangerously close to the cliff.

-- Drive by Raymond Ahrens.

THE BOOK: "Willy Easelman, 86, born in Brooklyn and a perennial finalist in the American Dreams Sweepstakes, is committed to the Morningside Nursing Home by his daughter, Anna. Cunning, despite his dementia, Willie sneaks behind the wheel of his '86 Impala and escapes, heading north along America's roadways that paved the way for the post-war exodus to the suburbs."


THE GIVEAWAY:  I have TWO copies of the finished paperback edition of Drive to give away to TWO lucky book bloggers. Go to the GIVEAWAY PAGE for details and to sign up.


PLEASE DON'T SIGN UP FOR THE GIVEAWAY HERE. GO TO THIS PAGE.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 



Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday this holiday weekend! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Kathy at Bermuda Onion stepped in to host in August -- thanks, Kathy!

I got one book last week, thanks to author Sarah Stonich and her publicist.  They also made a giveaway copy available, which I will get posted in the next week or so.



-- Vacationland by Sarah Stonich.  Stonich's new book is a collection of interlinked stories all set at a faded vacation resort in northern Minnesota.  It sounds great and I love the paint-by-numbers cover.

Stonich is the author of two other incredibly good novels, These Granite Islands and The Ice Chorus, which I reviewed here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Kitchen Remodel, Week Twenty-Four: Where Are the Bricks?

This is what is making me glum:


The inside of our kitchen is all but done (still waiting on the decorative tile backsplash), but the outside still looks like a constructions zone.  No bricks, Tyvek paper, a PCV pipe instead of a downspout, blue plastic, and dirt instead of landscaping.  This shows the bump out, but we've got the same look going on the other side of the exterior door.

If this was the middle of winter, I wouldn't mind so much, but this construction zone is the view from the patio, which puts the kibosh on outside entertaining, including a kitchen warming celebration.

I'm losing patience.

Luckily, I'm reading a great little mystery set in Aix-en-Provence, where the characters enjoy good food and spend a lot of time describing the wondeful meals they eat and wine they drink. Maybe more wine would make me not mind my unfinished remodel.



-- Death at the Chateau Bremont by M. L. Longsworth.


WEEKEND COOKING



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Beginning & DOUBLE GIVEAWAY: Drive by Raymond Ahrens


SEE DOUBLE GIVEAWAY DETAILS BELOW

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: I am experimenting with getting this post up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. We'll try it this way for a couple of months to see if people like the option of early posting. If you have feelings one way or the other, please comment.

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

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING



It's an ordeal listening to a grown man cry – a cry that Haitian aides working at the Morningside Nursing Home compare to the sound of screeching tires in the instant before a deadly crash.

-- Drive by Raymond Ahrens.

THE BOOK: "Willy Easelman, 86, born in Brooklyn and a perennial finalist in the American Dreams Sweepstakes, is committed to the Morningside Nursing Home by his daughter, Anna. Cunning, despite his dementia, Willie sneaks behind the wheel of his '86 Impala and escapes, heading north along America's roadways that paved the way for the post-war exodus to the suburbs."

THE GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the magnificent book publicist Mary Bisbee-Beek, I have TWO copies of the finished paperback edition of Drive to give away to TWO lucky book bloggers.  Even better, this is a LEAPFROG giveaway, meaning that both winners will get to host a giveaway of their own!

The contest is for readers in the USA only (sorry) and is open until Thursday, August 15, 2013, at 4:00 PST. There are five ways to enter and each one is worth a chance to win. To enter, do any or all of the following, but you must leave a comment for each one and you must put an email address in a comment:

1. Comment on this post. You must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner. (1 entry)

2. Blog about this giveaway. Posting the giveaway on your sidebar is also acceptable. Leave a separate comment with a link to your post. (1 entry)

3. Follow this blog with Google or NetworkedBlogs, or subscribe via email (or tell me if you already are a subscriber or follower). Leave a separate comment for this. (1 entry)

4. Tweet this post on Twitter. Leave me a separate comment with your twitter user name. (1 entry)

5. Post this on a social network. Put it on facebook, post it on Google+, pin it on Pinterest, Stumble it, digg it, reddit, or otherwise put it out there in the social network. Leave a separate comment with a link or explanation. (1 entry)

There are a lot of ways to enter (maximum of five entries), but you must LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT for each one or they will not count. I will use random.org to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is open to entries from the U.S. only. The deadline for entry is 4:00 PM, Pacific Time, on Thursday, August15, 2013. I will draw and post the winner's name in my Book Beginning post going up at 5:00 PM on August 15, 2013.  




Review: Scout's Honor by Patrick Boyle




Scout's Honor, the original book about the problem of sex abuse in Boy Scouts, is available now on Kindle for only $1.99.

The book is a little outdated now that over 1,200 BSA "Perversion Files" have been made public and so much more has come to light. But it explains the history of child molesters targeting Scouts and how the Boy Scouts, from the beginning, tried to cover up the problem.

With example after example, Patrick Boyle shows that BSA worried more about its own reputation and defamation lawsuits from pedophiles than the welfare of the children being raped and sexually exploited by adult volunteers.

Scout's Honor will grab you from the opening page. It reads like fiction, but is not. Doyle meticulously researched court filings, pored through public records, and interviewed convicted pedophiles for his eye-opening expose of one of America's most trusted institutions.

While it may be disappointing to read negative information about the Boy Scouts, awareness and acknowledgement of a problem must come before change is possible.  


OTHER REVIEWS

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

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday this holiday weekend! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Penelope at The Reading Fever is hosting in August.  Her favorites are urban fantasy, dystopia, and historical fiction -- or any combination thereof.  Stop by her fun and busy blog.

One book came into my house last week, the latest novel by one of my favorite authors, David Lodge.  This one is a fictionalized account of the life of H. G. Wells. It looks terrific.



A Man of Parts by David Lodge

Kitchen Remodel, Week Twenty-Three: Feathering the Nest

We are still waiting on brick to finish the outside of the new kitchen.  Apparently matching 100-year-old brick takes some doing. Ours is now on a train from Ohio, after baking in the brick oven for four weeks. 

In the lull, we have enjoyed using our new kitchen and are having fun filling the cupboards and adding a few festive touches.  Like the beautiful orange lantern we found at the annual arts and crafts show at the Portland Japanese Garden


The lanterns are made by Portland artist Margaret Gardner.  The red and green ones are going outside to use as the lanterns they are.  But we are keeping the orange on in the kitchen because, with its holes, it makes a perfect container for heads of garlic.

This is also pot luck season, so I have been making a ton of my potluck standby, Asian Cabbage Salad because it is fast, I usually have all the ingredients, and it stands up well to buffet table delays.  I made it up in my head, but there are no doubt recipes for it on line.

ASIAN CABBAGE SALAD

  • 1/2 a medium green cabbage, shredded or chopped small
  • 4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped small
  • 1/2 or 1 whole sweet red pepper, sliced very thin
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (or white or toasted)
  • 1/2 cup slivered or chopped almonds (preferable roasted but not salted)

Combine all the ingredients in a big salad bowl. Add or delete at whim, depending on how much you need. Dress with:

  • toasted or dark sesame oil
  • rice wine vinegar
  • soy sauce

I use a ratio of two to three parts oil to one part vinegar and go light on the soy because I don't like it to get too salty.  But mix to taste.  For the amounts listed above, I usually make about 1/3 cup of dressing, but I usually just pour the ingredients on the salad and toss without measuring, so it is hard to say for sure.

It is best, but not necessary, to dress the salad at least an hour before you plan to eat it, because it relaxes the cabbage a little.  The leftovers are still good the next day, so you can't really dress it too early.




WEEKEND COOKING



Thursday, August 1, 2013

GIVEAWAY Winner & Book Beginning: Flying Finish by Dick Francis


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.

GIVEAWAY WINNER

First, an announcement of the winner of last week's giveaway, The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman. Big thanks to everyone who left comments to participate. You can read more about The Life List here.


JC Jones from Mixed Book Bag is the big winner.  Her's was the 9th comment and the one chosen by random.org.  JC is a double winner because, in addition to her copy, she can host her own giveaway for another coy. Congratulations JC! Enjoy "this utterly charming debut—perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern’s P.S., I Love You and Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life."


BOOK BEGINNINGS

EARLY BIRDS: I am experimenting with getting this post up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. We'll try it this way for a couple of months to see if people like the option of early posting. If you have feelings one way or the other, please comment.

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

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING




“You’re a spoiled, bad-tempered bastard,” my sister said, and jolted me into a course I nearly died of.

-- Flying Finish by Dick Francis.  That's a great beginning in the way it looks backwards (why is his sister mad at him?) and forwards (how how does he almost die?).  I'm a big fan of Dick Francis's novels.  This is one of his earlier ones, first published in 1966. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...