Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Beginning: Spotted Dick, S'il Vous Plait



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



Lugdunum, ancient capital of Gaul, Roman town, medieval centre of culture, city of science, learning, medicine and theology . . . Lyon has many claims to fame.

Spotted Dick S'il Vous Plait: An English Restaurant in France by Tom Higgins. I love memoirs about British or American expats hauling off to sunnier climes, and I love restaurant memoirs -- this combines both. Perfect!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol



The plants weren't touching any of the other students. Just him, and he had better get out of here.
--  Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol

In her new novel, Kinship of Clover, Ellen Meeropol explores how individuals are inspired to try to change what they cannot accept about the world, even while they grapple with their own limitations.



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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Author Interview: Ellen Meeropol


Ellen Meeropol is the author of two previous novels, House Arrest and On Hurricane Island. Her new novel, Kinship of Clover, puts a human face on some big topics, like the environment and mental illness.



Ellen recently answered questions for Rose City Reader:

How did you come to write Kinship of Clover?

I wrote this novel because two of the characters wouldn’t leave me alone. Jeremy and Zoe, who were children in my first novel, House Arrest, kept whispering to me, “Don’t you want to know what happened to us?” Of course, I did want to know. In House Arrest, Jeremy was nine and Zoe was five; their families were intertwined in complicated ways. I’m fascinated by the way children are affected by the big events in their families and the world. Imagining the Jeremy and Zoe eleven years after the end of the first novel, as they grow into adulthood, gave me the opportunity to further explore how individuals are inspired to change things in the world, things they simply can’t accept.

What is your background? How did it lead you to writing novels?

I worked as a registered nurse and then a pediatric nurse practitioner for almost 30 years. Throughout my life, I’ve been a voracious reader, primarily of literary fiction. I always wanted to write, and always dabbled a bit, but never took that desire seriously until the year 2000. As I arranged a two-month min-sabbatical so that my husband could write a nonfiction book, I saw my opportunity. On an island off the coast of Maine, I started writing stories. Those two months changed my life. Three years later I started a low-residency MFA program, five years later I left my day job, and eleven years later my first novel was published.

You use unforgettable imagery in your story, including vines burrowing into nine-year-old Jeremy’s skin and plants whispering in his ear. What are some of the themes these images are meant to invoke?Did you know how Kinship of Clover would end?

I’m not a very cerebral writer. I don’t use an outline and rarely know where a story is going when I begin. I follow the Kurt Vonnegut school of writing fiction; he said that, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” So no, I had no idea of how Kinship of Clover would end. Honestly, I wasn’t sure for a long time whether the imagery of the vines burrowing under Jeremy’s skin made sense. But by the time the first draft was completed, I understood that breaching the barrier between plants and humans, like bridging the gaps between the generations and the races and disabled/able-bodied people, is a big part of what this novel is about.

What did you learn from writing Kinship of Clover – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?

Two things surprised me writing this novel. First of all, early in the writing, elements of magical realism snuck in – primarily those burrowing vines you mentioned. While I’ve loved reading novels in which elements of fantasy show up in a primarily realistic setting, I never planned to write that way. But one thing I’ve learned is to simply trust the process. So I wrote, not knowing if the vines were “real” or not, but hoping that by the end of the writing and revision process, I would understand why it happens. The second surprise was the use of omniscient point of view. I had been interested in trying that, but was intimidated. The surprising part was that I loved being able to both delve deep into several characters’ perspectives and to step way back, and look at the big picture from time to time. Again, it meant trusting that the process – just writing the manuscript and not worrying too much about the final product – would get me someplace new and worth going.

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors? Is your own writing influenced by the books you read?

I read a lot of contemporary fiction, and am always finding new favorite authors, like Yaa Gyasi and Mohsin Hamid recently. Some of my long-time beloved authors are Rosellen Brown and Andrea Barrett and Ann Pancake and Paule Marshall and Octavia Butler. And yes, these writers have definitely influenced me. I love how each of them write fiction that balances on the tightrope between big issues and authentic characters. I love how their books are both provocative and tender, never letting the big issues addressed in the book overpower their characters and the story. Ann Pancake taught me never to rant. Andrea Barrett modeled creating a universe of characters who populate novels and stories over the years, like old friends who you never forget.

What are you reading now?

I work part-time at an independent bookstore where one of my jobs is to read fiction four or five months before publication, to help select titles for the bookstore’s First Edition Club. Right now I’m reading Elizabeth Strout’s new linked story collection, Anything is Possible and I recently finished Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne and Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West. All three are amazing reads.

What do you do to promote your books? Do you use social networking sites or other internet resources? Do you have any events coming up to promote your book?

I love doing events – readings in bookstores and libraries – and book groups, as well as my Facebook pagetwitter, and my website. Lots of events are being planned. Check them out on my website events page.

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

I’m close to finished with my fourth novel, tentatively titled Her Sister’s Tattoo. This was actually the first novel manuscript I wrote but it was too complicated, encompassing 50 years in the lives of two sisters, activists who were estranged over a major political disagreement. So I put it away, started an MFA program, and wrote three other novels. After each book, I’d revisit the sisters and do another draft or four, but still couldn’t get it right. Finally, after about 17 years, I think it’s close to ready and I’m very excited to bring Esther and Rosa into the world.


THANKS ELLEN!

KINSHIP OF CLOVER IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER TO ORDER IT!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Beginning: Make Me by Lee Child



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



Moving a guy as big as Keever wasn't easy. It was like trying to wrestle a king-sized mattress off a waterbed.

Make Me by Lee Child. This is the 20th Jack Reacher book.

I'm a big fan and I'm enjoying this one enough. But I'm two-thirds of the way through and I'm still waiting for the plot to gel. And I'm getting a little tired of Reacher books that start with him in a two-track town in the middle of Nebraska. Make Me came out in 2015 and I am only reading it now because, based on the description, I was sure I had read it already.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Author Interview: Susan DeFreitas


Susan DeFreitas was born in Michigan, lived in Arizona, then moved to Portland, where she now writes realistic fiction and sci-fi. Her debut novel, Hot Season, has generated plenty of high praise in book circles. She's one to keep an eye on!


Susan recently answered questions for Rose City Reader. You can also listen to a long interview of Susan on Between the Covers.


How did you come to write Hot Season?

I wrote the stories that would become the chapters of this novel during the course of my MFA at Pacific University. I had just moved to Portland from Prescott, Arizona, where I had lived for the past fourteen years, and I suppose these stories were portraits of people and places and experiences from that time in my life I wanted both to pay homage to and make sense of.

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

I began writing fiction as soon as I was old enough to read it. My first stories were mysteries—by the time I was in junior high, it was fantasy and science fiction. But I had an English teacher who insisted I write realist fiction in his class. I thought it was snobbish at the time, and I still do, but it did lead to me to attending a boarding school, in my senior year of high school, for the arts.

I took a break in my study of creative writing between undergrad and graduate school—during which wrote for magazines, directed an arts nonprofit, and wrote marketing copy—but I was always working on a novel. In my early thirties, I decided to go back to school for fiction.

What is the significance of the title? Does it have a personal meaning for you besides its connection to the story?

Hot season in central AZ is not quite summer. It comes on with a vengeance around the end of April and tends to hit its apex right around the Fourth of July. That’s when the monsoons begin, and the rain cuts down on both the danger of wildfire and the heat.

But in those parched two months leading up to the monsoons, there’s a hallucinatory quality to the heat, as well as a real sense of danger. I found it an apt metaphor for the paranoia around government surveillance in this novel, as well as the sparks of attraction that fly between its characters. Hot season is also the time of year when much of the novel is set.

How closely does the plot of Hot Season hew to the real events that inspired the story?

The outlaw activist around whom much of the plot revolves is based on a real person, Bill Rogers, who was part of a group of radical activists based out of Eugene, Oregon, in the nineties, which was responsible for some of the largest acts of so-called terrorism in US history, totaling $45 million in damages. Like the character Dyson in the book, Bill was a graduate of Prescott College, my alma mater, and he, like Dyson, did establish an activist center that was raided by the FBI.

There are also some characters and circumstances based on the time when I owned a house in the barrio of Prescott and rented rooms to college students, all of them younger women. But that’s where the similarities end; in many ways, the book is an imagined version of their lives, as I graduated college in 2000, before the era when the novel is set.

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

Because these chapters started off as short stories, my process with this novel was a little different than is typical. The story that would become the title chapter—the final chapter of the book—was probably the third or fourth piece I wrote in grad school, in my first semester. I had the feel of it, the swing and sound of it, the aesthetic and the images, before I really had any idea what the story was about.

To get that—i.e., who these characters were, what they were doing together, and what these events were, in fact, the resolution of—I had to go back and discover the bones of the book, the plot. I had to develop the arcs and the through lines, the threads of connection that would converge there. But did I always know that piece was the ending? Absolutely.

Hot Season has been compared to another college novel, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. The eco-sabotage storyline is reminiscent of Jim Harrison’s A Good Day to Die. How do you feel about these kinds of literary comparisons?

Donna Tartt is brilliant, so any comparison to her is welcome. =) And I do think the comparison to The Secret History holds, in that college is a time, I believe, when we’re both really smart and really dumb—a time when a philosophy or idea or commitment can get ahold of you in a way that may define, for better or worse, the rest of your life.

I’m also happy you brought up Jim Harrison, as I am a native of the Great Lakes State. But in contrast to A Good Day to Die—and that other rollicking, wisecracking classic of eco-sabotage, The Monkey Wrench Gang—this is a novel first and foremost about women, young women in particular. As such, it’s not so much about high-stakes heroics as it is about the being willing to dedicate your life and career, early on, to incremental changes in culture and society that you may not even live to see. That, to me is real courage, and it’s completely unglamorous. Megan Burbank noted in her review of the book in the Portland Mercury, that Hot Season “depict[s] social agitation as, really, what it is: a gradual, infuriating, complex effort performed by smart, dedicated, flawed humans to varying degrees of commitment and success.” I really consider that the essence of what I’m getting at here.

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

I learned how to build a novel out of linked stories. Not just linked stories billed as a novel (increasingly fashionable these days) but a novel with real arcs, real stakes, and resolutions. For me as a writer, that often means looking at the end of the story and determining what needs to be set up in the beginning.

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

Alberto Luis Urrea: “Nil carborundum illegitimi—don’t let the bastards wear you down.” =)

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors? Is your own writing influenced by the authors you read?

As an author, I’m influenced by all sorts of authors, and my favorites include Ursula K. Le Guin, Denis Johnson, and Lydia Millet. But this particular book was most directly influenced by Ed Abbey and John Nichols, as well as the punk writer Aaron Cometbus.

What kind of books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

I write both realist fiction and speculative fiction, so my tastes are all over the map. But right now I’m really enjoying the work of an author who’s new to me, Laura Pritchett—her latest novel, The Blue Hour, set in small-town Colorado, is just a dream. I’m also enjoying revisiting the weirdness of Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link.

You have a terrific website and Facebook page and are also on Twitter. From an author's perspective, how important are social networking sites and other internet resources to promote your book?

I’m a big fan of Jane Friedman, so I knew, long before I signed the contract for my first book, that I needed to own the domain associated with my name. I also used to work as a journalist and blogger, so I know how important it is to ensure that all the info these time-strapped folks need to cover us can easily be found in one place. That’s why I have all of my press materials—as well as links to all of my reviews and interviews—online at susandefreitas.com.

As for my Facebook and Twitter pages, I consider them not just a place to share my own news and views but links to articles of interest and to the work of other authors I love. That kind of literary citizenship interests me more than “look at me!” all the time (though I do think there’s a thrill for readers in sharing the writer’s journey). As for how important social media is—how else would anyone know about me or what I’m doing? Unless they happened to find me in person? In this day and age, social media is the marketplace of ideas, the big town square where we gather to discuss the issues of the day. Though it has its vagaries, I can’t imagine not wanting to be part of that discussion.

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

Yes! In fact, I have a bit of a Northwest mini-tour set up for April, both as an author and an editor. Here are my upcoming dates (click links for details):

4-8-17:  Panel Appearance and Editing Consultations at IBPA's Publishing University (Portland, OR)
4-11-17:  Author Appearance at Broadway Books (Portland, OR)
4-17-17:  Group reading for the City of Weird anthology at Post 134 (Portland, OR)
4-18-17:  Author Appearance at Annie Bloom’s (Portland, OR)
4-20-17:  Group Reading at Another Read Through (Portland, OR)

Upcoming events can be found on the home page of my website.

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

Right now, I’m working on a series of speculative short stories with a strong sense of place in the three states I’ve called home—Michigan, Arizona, and Oregon—called Dream Studies, a project that’s being supported by my Patreon subscribers. I’m also preparing to dig back into the next novel in the series that begins with Hot Season, which is called World’s Smallest Parade.


THANKS, SUSAN!

HOT SEASON IS AVAILABLE ON LINE,
OR ASK YOU LOCAL BOOKSELLER TO ORDER IT!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Beginning: Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING

All those times me and Skip tried to kill his little brother, Donny, were just for fun.

-- Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell. This has been sitting on my TBR shelf since Oprah picked it for her Book Club back in 2000!

Good first line. It sets the mood by giving an idea of what the main character is like.



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Hot Season by Susan DeFreitas



Arin sipped her tea, as if choosing her words. "He was part of the crew that blew the Snoquomish Dam."

Hot Season by Susan DeFreitas. Three women studying at an environmental liberal arts college in Arizona have to decide where to draw the line when it comes to love, trust, and radical politics.

Huffington Post, Book Nudge, and and some pretty cool authors have praised DeFreitas's timely debut novel, including comparing it to Donna Tartt's campus classic, The Secret History. Listen to a long interview of Susan DeFreitas on Between the Covers.

Susan DeFreitas will be in Portland on April 7 & 8, 2017 as a panelist and editing consultant at IBPA's Publishing University, the annual publishing conference for self-published authors, indie authors, and independent publishers.

DeFreitas will also be doing a reading at Broadway Books in Portland on April 11, 2017 at 7:00 PM.



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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Beginning: Hot Season by Susan DeFreitas



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



When Katie met Huckleberry, he was juggling on the curb at the end of Second Street with a rose between his teeth.

Hot Season by Susan DeFreitas. This debut novel is already generating a lot of buzz from the likes of Huffington Post, Book Nudge, and and some pretty cool authors, including comparisons to Donna Tartt's campus novel, The Secret History.

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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Cat's Paw by Mollie Hunt



Accompanied by a clowder of hungry cats, I made for the kitchen. Coffee and cat food, my morning routine, only today it was a little later than usual.

Cat's Paw by Mollie Hunt. This third Crazy Cat Lady mystery finds our cat loving amateur sleuth Lynley Cannon volunteering at the Cloverleaf Animal Sanctuary in the San Juan Islands -- and trying to prove she didn't commit a double homicide!

Cat's Eyes and Copy Cats are the first two books in this must-read, cat-themed cozy series set in the Pacific Northwest.



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



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.


NOTES

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

OTHER REVIEWS

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



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



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: twitter.com/BartKing 
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/BartKing1 
  • Tumbler: BartKing.tumblr.com 
  • Blog: BartKings.blogspot.com 
  • Website: bartking.net 

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!


THANK YOU, BART!

THE DRAKE EQUATION IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AND AT MANY BOOKSTORES -- OR ASK YOU LOCAL BOOKSELLER TO ORDER IT!


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.

BOOK RELEASE AND LAUNCH PARTY TODAY

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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy 9th Blogiversary!




Rose City Reader has been around for nine years! 

In the last couple of years, I haven't been doing as many book reviews as I used to do because I've been busy starting and running my own law firm. There are times when hobbies have to take a back seat to real life. 

But it is always fun to spend what time I can playing with my books, interviewing authors, and interacting with other book bloggers and book readers. I look forward to many more years of book blogging fun.

Thanks for following along and interacting. Happy reading!



Mailbox Monday: Cat's Paw by Mollie Hunt

One very cozy and fun book came into my house last week. What books came into your house last week?



Cat's Paw by Mollie Hunt. This is the third mystery in Hunt's Crazy Cat Lady mystery series, following Cat's Eyes and Copy Cats.

The series features Lynley Cannon, a woman of a certain age who volunteers at her local cat shelter and, of course, is quite adept at solving mysteries. Lynley is my introduction to the subgenre of cozy cat msyteries!


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.




Saturday, March 18, 2017

Author Interview: Patricia Kullberg



Author and medical doctor, Patricial Kullberg found inspiration for her historical novel and her new memoir in the lives around her. Her memoir, On the Ragged Edge of Medicine: Doctoring Among the Dispossessed, published by OSU Press, is organized around vignettes of 15 of her homeless and urban poor patients.


BOOK RELEASE AND LAUNCH PARTY

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

Patricia recently took time from launching her new book to answer questions for Rose City Reader:

How did you come to write On the Ragged Edge of Medicine?

To make visible the invisible was a major motivation for writing Ragged Edge. It’s always important, but especially in these times, to pull back the veil from those corners of our world that are not necessarily heartwarming to contemplate. The choices made about how to organize our society create real consequences for very real people among us. We do not do well to ignore those consequences.

What I saw and experienced during my decades of practice was troubling on many levels: the excess of suffering, the failures of medicine, my own inadequacies. Writing these stories helped me to come to terms with all that I witnessed. The stories are also meant to celebrate our occasional triumphs, the dedication and perseverance of my colleagues, and the incredible resilience of our patients.

How did you get involved in a medical practice for the homeless and urban poor?

The opportunity arose when I accepted the position of medical director for Multnomah County Health Department and could choose among their primary care clinics for my part time medical practice. The first clinic where I worked served primarily a homeless population. I gravitated to what I imagined would be an interesting personal and professional challenge and one where I could have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. I was right about all of that.

When did you know you were going to write about your experiences working with people with physical, mental, and addiction disorders?

I first put fingertips to keyboard during the second year of my practice at the health department, when a patient furiously accused me of not attending properly to her problems. She never came back. I was confused and disheartened, because I was not quite sure what precipitated her fury and I thought we’d enjoyed a warm, honest, and enduring relationship. After that, writing about patients became a regular practice. Putting words to paper has a way of clarifying a circumstance. It can un-muddle the mind.

I wrote mostly about situations that did not go as planned, ones that surprised me or amused me. It was my way to investigate and make sense of bad or unexpected outcomes, illuminate the ways in which society, and on a smaller scale, the health care system routinely failed my patients. It was a way to examine my own foibles and, I hoped, help me become a better practitioner. It is in the midst of trouble that we most often encounter our authentic selves and what parts of those selves might not bear up so well under a little scrutiny.

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

Certainly what impressed me most was how little my patients resembled the stereotypes offered up in the media of passive victims suffering the vicissitudes of intractable mental illness, chronic disease, horrific social circumstance, etc. The people I doctored were very often agents in their own lives. They knew how to survive. They were creative and savvy. They had unbelievable capacity to endure abuse, privation, and heartbreaking loss and still not give up. They were not angels, far from it. They often made crappy choices. But when I think of the smarts and strength of will they deployed to resist what was dished out to them, I imagine the gadgets they might have invented or the books they might have written or the discoveries they might have made or what they might have taught the rest of us—all the ways they could have contributed to making a better world. That strikes me as a real tragedy.

Who is your intended audience and what do you hope your readers will gain from your book?

I pitched the book to a general audience, anyone who is interested in the ways our system of health care, especially when it intersects with the lives of the dispossessed, reflects who we are as a society. I can’t claim to be an authentic spokesperson for those relegated to the margins of society. Still I hope the book opens a window onto what the marginalized face in their day to day struggles. I also hope the stories reveal the practice of medicine for the social enterprise that it is and that it validates the experience of those who choose to undertake this kind of work.

Can you recommend any other memoirs or personal accounts of practicing medicine among destitute populations?

Yes! The classic: Not All of Us Are Saints: A Doctor’s Journey with the Poor by David Hilfiker. More recent: Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor by James A. O’Connell, MD

What books or other resources would you recommend for doctors or others interested in working in medicine within a context of social inequality?

The most important attributes to bring to a clinical practice in any context is self-reflection and humility. For that, one should read literary fiction! Here are my favorite books, fiction and non-fiction, which specifically address the practice of medicine:



What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as someone working “on the ragged edge of medicine”?

Meeting the patients where they are at does not mean letting them walk all over you.

What’s next? What are you working on now?

I am at heart a novelist fascinated by local history. My first novel, Girl in the River, was set in mid-twentieth century Portland and explored the sexual and reproductive politics of the time. My current project is about Vanport, a World War II era federal housing project for shipyard workers, which was situated in the combined floodplains of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

Vanport is the story of two families, each haunted by the death of a loved one. It’s 1943. Both families have arrived in Vanport City, a planned community visionary in scope, but shoved to the swampy outskirts of Portland. The citizens of Portland want nothing to do with the Okies and Coloreds who’ve come to the area to live and work. Sissy, a thirteen-year-old of mixed Native American and White heritage befriends Abe, one year older, an African-American boy out of Mississippi. Their troubled relationship draws the two families together over time in ways that eventually drive both families to the brink of ruin. The novel is based on a series of actual historical events and illuminates the local history of race and class prejudice and how people resisted.

THANK YOU, PATRICIA!

ON THE RAGGED EDGE OF MEDICINE IS AVAILABLE ON-LINE OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE TO ORDER IT!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Book Beginning: Kinship of Clover



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



The first time Jeremy saw the plants go crazy was at the cat’s funeral, held in the family greenhouse crowded with teas and herbs and medicine-plants growing in pots and flats, their vines spiraling up wooden stakes against the walls.

-- Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol, published by Ren Hen Press. Meeropol covers a lot of ground in her new book, with an eco-terrorist scheme at the center of the story, a hallucinating narrator, and two generations trying to heal their family and the world.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Beginning: The Little Book of Hygge



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



No recipe for hygge is complete without candles. When Danes are asked what thy most associate with hygge an overwhelming 85 percent will mention candles.

-- The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking. I’m jumping on the hygge bandwagon with both feet.

Portland as a very hygge city. Like Denmark, it rains a lot, so we go in for cozy comforts in a big way. We love our coffee, independent bookstores, and local bakeries. We also have many other hygglig characteristics -- an obsession with handcrafted everything (often parodied as "Portlandia"), a casual style, and a love of nature.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mailbox Monday: The Little Book of Hygge

I got one book last week and I'd like to curl up with it with a big mug of tea and my hyggesokken!

What books came into your house last week?



The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking



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.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Book Beginning: No Way to Treat a First Lady



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



Babette Van Anka had made love to the President of the United States on eleven previous occasions, but she still couldn't resist inserting "Mr. President" into "Oh, baby, baby, baby." He had told her on the previous occasions that he did not like being called this while, as he put it, congress was in session.
-- No Way to Treat a First Lady by Christopher Buckley. The President’s widow is on trial for assassinating her husband with an antique spittoon. Hilarious satire of politics and trial attorneys.

Friday, February 24, 2017

FINALLY -- The 2016 European Reading Challenge WINNER!



THIS IS THE WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT POST FOR 2016

TO FIND THE 2016 REVIEWS, GO TO THIS PAGE

TO FIND THE 2016 WRAP UP POSTS, GO TO THIS PAGE

THE 2017 EUROPEAN READING CHALLENGE IS LIVE NOW -- GO TO THIS PAGE TO SIGN UP OR READ MORE

2016 was the fifth year for this challenge, which involves reading books set in different European countries or written by authors from different European countries.

Big thanks to all the participants who joined me for the Grand Tour!

JET SETTER GRAND PRIZE WINNER

In a real celebration of European Reading, the Jet Setter Prize for 2016 goes to "Eginhard" who read and reviewed 14 books from different countries, mostly in their original languages! He even read a book in Irish and one in Serbocroatian. I usually feel all fancy pants when I read a book that was translated from another language and not just set in a foreign country.

Congratulations, Eginhard! And I am glad you signed up again for 2017!

Honorary Mention (but no prizes) go to eight other participants who posted wrap up posts on the Wrap Up page because I appreciate these posts very much for making my job of figuring out the winner so much easier!




My own wrap-up post is here. I read 10 books from different European countries (all in English), but I only reviewed one of them.

Congratulations to all the readers who completed the challenge! For those who finished the challenge but didn't post a wrap-up, feel free to do so now and link it on this page here.


The gist: The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Beginnings: On the Ragged Edges of Medicine



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



All too often a day at Burnside Health Center would begin with a melancholy tramp through the heart of Portland.

On the Ragged Edge of Medicine: Doctoring Among the Dispossessed by Patricia Kullberg, published by OSU Press. This powerful memoir by a doctor working with Portland's homeless and urban poor is organized around the compelling stories of 15 of her patients.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mailbox Monday

When I was in Missoula for work last week, I stopped at the Friends of the Library sale shelf, as I always do, and found two books.



The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten, collected essays by the food critic for Vogue magazine.



All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West, described as the fictional companion to Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own.

What books came into your house last week?


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.




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