Monday, September 18, 2017

Mailbox Monday: My Father's Ledger by Mary Mills

What books came into your house last week?

I got one new book, My Father's Ledger by Mary Mills. It is a memoir about how the betrayal of trust changed one family forever. It doesn't give too much away to explain that the family priest seduced the mother and later sexually abused one of the daughters. This is a powerful book.

My Father's Ledger: Sex Abuse by a Catholic Priest - A Family's Story of Grace Survival and Healing by Mary Mills






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, September 14, 2017

Book Beginning: In a Dark, Dark Wood

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



It hurts. Everything hurts.

-- In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. Hmmmmm . . . That's not the kind of beginning I usually like. I like my beginnings long and shaggy, not sparse. But you know something bad happened, so it does dump you right into the middle of things.



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





Thursday, September 7, 2017

Book Beginning: Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



When you inform your friends and relatives that you have left your stable job as a journalist to stay home and taste wines, you will begin to get concerned phone calls.

-- Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker.

My book club is reading this and we plan to have our own "blind tasting," which will be a total joke.




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






Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Author Interview: Rajat Mitra


Rajat Mitra is a psychologist in India who works with victims of religious violence. His debut novel, The Infidel Next Door, is set in 1989, during the last exodus of Hindus from Kashmir. It also tells a bigger story about religious identity, personal conscious, and forgiveness.



Rajat recently answered questions for Rose City Reader, including questions about his book, his work, and writing for an international audience.

How did you come to write The Infidel Next Door?

As Charles Dickens once said, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. In 2011, I had just received an award from United Nations for our work with vulnerable women of India to help them testify in courts for the sexual assault they had suffered. It was also the time when I received criticism that we were highlighting a negative aspect of India in front of world. The policy was "don’t talk, don’t tell." Hide problems and keep them a secret. I refused to do that. The funding for our organization stopped and we were not able to continue with our program. We became ostracized for a while and alienated. Friends who we knew well stopped talking. It was a lonely time for me. I withdrew into a shell. I got a job in faraway Hong Kong and had time on my hands.

During that time while digging up old records, I came across notes I had taken long ago in the refugee camp for Kashmiri people. As I sat through re-reading them, I felt the urge to write a story and conceived a work of fiction around the events that seemed to across my mind like a flashback. Here was the way a race that had struggled for its survival and lost and now had its last hopes on someone telling their story to the world. The world had turned indifferent to them and a race, an entire civilization, was about to die soon. I thought I would write about it.

We shifted to Hong Kong and lived near the woods and mountains. Nature was healing to me and as I sat down near a stream, words came from nowhere and formed scenes, images that I had not thought of before or heard about, that were sometimes a part of a truth I glimpsed and slowly became a chapter and then a book.

What is your work background? Did you draw on your professional experience in writing your novel?

My work background is from psychology and human rights. I hold a PhD in psychology but have primarily worked in communities on social issues. My first place of work was in a therapeutic community for young adults recovering from mental illness. Then it was followed by setting up a program for victims of heinous crimes in the city of New Delhi. It involved a 24/7 psychological support to victims of sexual assault, homicide and terrorism. I also began to testify in courts in cases as an expert witness about victims and crimes against them. In some of the cases my testifying contributed to landmark judgments that paved the way for inclusion of psychological evidence in courts.

After the program closed down, I started to work in a program for human rights defenders facing persecution who live under some of the most repressive regimes. It took me to remote regions of Asia where they were incarcerated and tortured. After my contract was over, I had to come back to India. At present I am working on a program on de-radicalization of Muslim youth who are swayed by terrorist ideology.

I drew upon my professional experiences to write, but realized that most of them are plain observations that came from engaging with people at an equal level. It didn’t require any special skills to draw them out and talk about their innermost experiences that is what I feel. In India people love to talk, trust easily and one doesn’t need to be a professional to draw them out of their shell. Sometimes just empathy and a curiosity to engage with them in order to know what is happening with them is sufficient. The priest who told me how he feels praying knowing his temple was destroyed so many times, the grandfather who tells the story to his grandchild of the martyrdom of Sikh guru, did not do so because I was a psychologist. They did so because I asked them.

How much of the book is based on true, historical events?

Many of the events are true, historical events. The earlier six exoduses of Kashmiri pandits from the valley because they didn’t want to be forced into conversion to Islam is well known. The mosques in Kashmir blared loudly asking all Hindus to convert. The destruction of the holiest temple of Hindus by Aurungzeb, the medieval Muslim emperor, is a historical fact and there exists mosques next to the holiest temple of Hindus.

Indians didn’t keep much written records in medieval times and it was forbidden for many to write history so the method of "shruti" followed as a way of passing on knowledge from generation to generation.

Destruction of temples in Kashmir is also a historical reality. Many destroyed stone temples still bear testimony to the way in which they were burnt by armies in medieval times. The seventh and last exodus that made half a million people run away and reduced the population of Hindus to being nonexistent is also a reminder of their persecution that has been a regular feature of their thousand year old history.

How did you research the historical information and detail found in your book? Did you have access to primary source materials? People to interview?

I researched by reading historical books from as many sources as possible: libraries, archives, and personal collections of books. I also recorded the narratives of many people and picked on material from the oral tradition of the six genocides. At times I felt ambivalence in deciding what to choose, when history and memory collided over the extent of persecution of pandits. While the history was written under the direction of the rulers and seemed coached, their memory had many gaps and needed to be filled up with silent understanding.

I believe truth is often on the side of memory. I also believe it needs to be treaded carefully so as not to disturb the pain it holds. I decided to include memory as an expression of people’s voice.

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

I believe the intended audience of the book is those people who believe in religious tolerance, interfaith healing, and forgiveness. Those who want to understand Hinduism and Islam will get an understanding of the two religions, their conflicts, and how they deal with their respective adherents.
It is also a bildungsroman novel -- that is, a coming of age novel for Hindu and Muslim boys and how they are shaped by their religious indoctrination and respective societies. All those who want to understand how boys and girls come of age in Asia will find it worth reading.

Lastly, my book is an unusual love story, one between a Hindu priest and a Muslim imam’s daughter, Zeba. They both understand the chains that bind them and know that breaking that would bring shame for their families. Zeba’s dilemma shows the extent to which Islam controls women’s lives and why religion is so much against love.

The book has been read by diverse people including scholars of genocide, psychiatrists, professors from various universities, human rights activists.

In the initial stages of the book, when the manuscript was ready, I gave it to an editor for assessment. She found it difficult to go on reading it after the middle and shared feeling increasingly uncomfortable with its theme and content. She felt it was affecting her personally and she wanted to stop. On my suggestion, she stopped and later on her own came back to reading it, and at the end shared a feeling of peace and calmness as the story ended. She said two things about the book that stayed with me. One is that this book will not be an easy read for many in India and elsewhere. That it will raise awareness on what harm and violence religion can unleash and how human conscience and compassion can transcend bigotry. She described it as the book that has affected her the most in a long time and there is nothing similar of its kind that she has ever read.

Can you recommend any other books or resources about story of Hindus in Kashmir?

Rajatarangini by Kalhana, Our Moon has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita, and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

What do you hope your book says about overcoming religious persecution and intolerance in general?

Religious persecution is a sensitive subject in Indian subcontinent and one of the least talked about at the same time. Hindus were ruled by Muslims for eight hundred years and the British ruled both for two hundred years. Muslims forcing Hindus to convert remains an unresolved issue for most Hindus. The white missionaries persecuted Tribals to give up their animistic faith to become Christians which the church vehemently denies. In 1947 India was divided along religious identities that saw millions of murders. After 1947 there have been numerous riots between the two religions.

My book is written with the aim that it will start the healing process that all the above forces have left behind so that the future generations do not carry this burden.

My book talks of religious persecution from the point of view of the victims who went through it and how it is a trans-generational trauma that is passed on to their future generations. It talks of the grief they carry inside and the how their psyche has been scarred. I also talk of the trauma from the point of view of persecutors and show how alike the two are behind all that layers that mask their inner selves. When they discover that they feel a bond between themselves that transcends many a barrier they had set up between themselves.

Lastly, Hindu religion has faced religious persecution over centuries and still many adherents face it who are asked to convert or leave. The population of Hindus in many countries have become extinct. In Pakistan and Bangladesh their numbers have gone down sharply. Yet they haven’t turned violent and vengeful towards other religions.

Religious persecution gives us very little choice. It is either convert or die. Overcoming it is not easy. One has to pay with one’s life or honor. Yet there are people who have made that choice time and again and have shown a rare courage that is largely undocumented.

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

My writing process as a psychologist was a straight forward one, a clinical one to explain behavior in as few terms as possible and include to briefly describe the personalities of the people who did it. It was one dimensional and didn’t reflect the inner conflicts, the dynamics of the persons who were going through the conflict.

It was not easy for me to turn into writing like an author. The entire thinking process for an author is different as you think of characters that are imaginary and conceive of dialogues that they may speak.
I was dealing with many sensitive themes and had to express the emotions of the characters truthfully and honestly. As I realized many emotions, complexes were coming from within me that I was not aware of, I had to often sit back for hours and imagine if this would be true of the character.

But what surprised me most about the writing process is that how much it makes you observe critically things around you, how much it makes you political and become fearless about who you are. One no longer remains apolitical as an author and takes a stand that espouses a position about who you are and what do you think the world is doing. I no longer see feelings as linked to ones’ inner belief but tied up with injustice and denial of human rights.

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

My favorite authors are many but if I were to select a few in fiction it would be Khaled Hosseini, Chinua Achebe, Herman Hesse, Gunter Grass, and Saadat Manto, an Indian writer. In non-fiction it would be Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, Ayan Hirsi Ali, Joseph Campbell, and Rabindranath Tagore.

My thinking is influenced by who I read, not my writing, at least that is what I believe.

What next? What project are you working on?

I am working on my next project, a book on the freedom struggle of India and the role of the armed revolutionaries in creating scare within the British. It is another novel and focuses on three families whose lives are intertwined.

THANKS RAJAT!

THE INFIDEL NEXT DOOR IS AVAILABLE ON LINE!



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Book Beginning: Temperance Creek by Pamela Royes

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



My parents gave me and my two brothers a rich and respectable Presbyterian upbringing fifty miles south of the Canadian border in Grand Forks, North Dakota, population thirty thousand.

-- Temperance Creek by Pamela Royes. My book club is reading Pamela Royes’ memoir about running off into the mountain wilderness of Eastern Oregon with a hippie cowboy in 1976. It's a great adventure story for anyone who's ever dreamed of dropping out and living like a pioneer or an old-time sheep herder.




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





Monday, August 28, 2017

Mailbox Monday: Book Haul from Crooked House

There was a book sale this past weekend at Crooked House Books & Paper, one of my favorite used book shops in Portland (and on line). I came home with a great stack of books. What books came into your house last week?


Humble Masterpieces: Everyday Marvels of Design by Paola Antonelli

Cosi Fan Tutti: An Aurelio Zen Mystery by Michael Dibdin

Ratking by Michael Dibdin

Blood Rain by Michael Dibdin

Between Friends: M.F.K. Fisher and Me by Jeannette Ferrary

A Talent to Annoy: Essays, Articles and Reviews 1929-1968 by Nancy Mitford, Charlotte Mosley (editor)

The Libertarian Reader: Classic and Contemporary Writings from Lao Tzu to Milton Friedman, edited by David Boaz

The Table Comes First: Family, France and the Meaning of Food by Adam Gopnik

Nancy Mitford: A Memoir by Harold Mario Mitchell Acton

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs

Seeing Mary Plain: A Life of Mary McCarthy by Frances Kiernan



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, August 24, 2017

Book Beginning: Any Human Heart by William Boyd

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



We – the five Roman Catholics – were walking back from the bus stop up the drive to school, fresh from Mass, when Barrowsmith and four or five of his Neanderthals started chanting “Papist dogs” and “Fenian traitors” at us.

-- Any Human Heart by William Boyd. I love this book. There isn't much of a Catholic theme to it, despite its opening sentence, at least not in the first third that I've read so far.

Has anyone else read it or watched the miniseries? Did you prefer the book or the show?




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





Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Infidel Next Door by Rajat Mitra



Finally, he said, "Aditya, I have some bad news. A mosque was built next to the Adi Shanker temple two months ago."

The Infidel Next Door by Rajat Mitra. This debut novel by Indian author Rajat Mitra is set in 1989, during the last exodus of Hindus from Kashmir.

Rajat Mitra is a psychologist in India who works with victims of religious violence.  His own work and historical research bring authenticity to this inspiring story about religious identity, personal conscious, and forgiveness.



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



Monday, August 21, 2017

Mailbox Monday: Book Club Books

Two nonfiction books came into my house last week. What books did you get last week?



Temperance Creek: A Memoir by Pamela Royes. My book club is reading this for our September meeting. It is my turn to host, so by tradition, dinner should be inspired by the book. I may be making some kind of cowboy camp cookout, by the looks of this!

.

Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker. My "cheater" book club* is reading this for October and we are all bringing a bottle of wine to do a blind tasting, which we know will be a joke.



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.


* I have my real book club. and I have my "cheater" book club that I read with on the side. Several of the ladies in my book club have similar arrangements and we try to be very discreet and sophisticated about it, but sometimes when the wine is flowing, the accusations start to fly!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Book Beginning: The Infidel Next Door by Rajat Mitra

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



A few memories stay as silent shadows in our lives to haunt us for generations.

The Infidel Next Door by Rajat Mitra. Set in 1989, during the last exodus of Hindus from Kashmir, this this debut novel brings an authentic voice to the struggle between religious identity and personal conscious.

Rajat Mitra is a psychologist in India. His research into trans-generational trauma provided background and depth for his historical novel.




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





Monday, August 14, 2017

Mailbox Monday: The Infidel Next Door by Rajat Mitra

One new book came into my house last week and I am very much looking forward to it. What new book did you get last week?



The Infidel Next Door by Rajat Mitra. This debut novel explores the clash of religions and cultures in modern India, and how those patterns have been shaped by history.

The author is a psychologist who has worked with Islamic militants and radicalized youth, as well as with survivors of religious violence. His professional background gives depth and insight to his novel.



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, August 10, 2017

Book Beginning: On Rue Tatin by Susan Herrmann Loomis

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!


MY BOOK BEGINNING



The story of our adventure, our move to Rue Tatin, began some thirteen years earlier, when I first went to live in Paris.

-- On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town by Susan Herrmann Loomis.

I love pretty much any we-renovated-an-old-house-in-France-and-here-is-what-we-ate book. Substitute Italy or Spain for France, and I'll read those too. If expats start renovating Bavarian barns or Scottish chapels and writing about the prickly but ultimately welcoming villagers, I'll read those too.




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





Thursday, August 3, 2017

Book Beginning: The Nix by Nathan Hill

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



The headline appears one afternoon on several news websites almost simultaneously: GOVERNOR PACKER ATTACKED!

-- The Nix by Nathan Hill. I downloaded this audiobook from the library after seeing it so often on Instagram but knowing nothing about it.

So far, I think it is hilarious. It sort of reminds me of The Goldfinch because it starts in the present day and then goes back in time to the story of two little boys, one in love with a beautiful girl. But it isn't dark and self-important like The Goldfinch. The satire is also razor sharp, not ham-fisted like most satire by debut authors.



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





Monday, July 31, 2017

Mailbox Monday

I picked up two random books out of Little Free Libraries while walking to work this week. What books came into your house last week?



Walking the Line: Travels Along the Canadian/American Border by Marian Botsford Fraser. I love the idea of this book! Fraser traveled the entire US/Canada border, from the Bay of Fundy by Maine to the northern edge of the Alaska/Yukon border, gathering stories as she went.



Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas. I thought this was a vintage book, but it is a new book with a vintage look.





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, July 30, 2017

2017 Challenge Updates: Mt. TBR and 2X17


My favorite book challenge every year is the Mt. TBR Challenge, hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block.

I combined it with my own challenge to read at least 34 books from my TBR shelves to mark the year: 2X17. I picked those 34 books at the beginning of the year and have made surprisingly fast progress on them. I only have the seven pictured above left to finish.

What looks good?



Those I've already finished from the original list of 34 are:

The Biographer's Moustache by Kingsley Amis

When You Lunch With the Emperor by Ludwig Bemelmans

The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen

No Way to Treat a First Lady by Christopher Buckley

A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

Poetic Justice by Amanda Cross

The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business; The Manticore; World of Wonders by Robertson Davies

Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered by Tod Davies

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Spotted Dick, S'Il Vous Plait: An English Restaurant in France by Tom Higgins

Ultimate Prizes by Susan Howatch

Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman

Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally

The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese by Kathe Lison

Paradise News by David Lodge

An Oxford Tragedy by J. C. Masterman

The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan

The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch

Rebus: The Lost Years: Let It Bleed; Black & Blue; The Hanging Garden by Ian Rankin

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark

Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler

Beck at Bay by John Updike

The Road to Burgundy: The Unlikely Story of an American Making Wine and a New Life in France by Ray Walker

The Life and Loves of a She Devil by Fay Weldon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Part of the reason I've read so many is that I haven't reviewed any of them. I've been so busy at work because we have several cases heading to trial. I can read on a plan traveling for work, or in bed before I fall asleep, but I don't have the mental energy to write a book review.





Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book Beginning: Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



The year I went off to university in Tokyo, something fateful happened when I returned home to Shikoku for one of the last in a series of traditional Buddhist services for my father.

-- Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe. Don't think from the title this is a mystery! If I weren't trying to read at least one book by every Nobel Laureate for Literature, I don't know that I could get through this one. It's pretty heavy sledding. I enjoy it for the most part, but then that part repeats itself over, and over, and over.





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





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: A Crime of Passion Fruit



I tried to push images of big waves and fierce winds from my head. I had to find the Professor.
A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander. When Jules Capshaw accepted an invitation to be the guest pastry chef on a tropical cruise, she expected sunshine and umbrella drinks, maybe a rekindled romance with her estranged husband. What the baker and amateur sleuth found was death on the high seas!

Ellie Alexander latest edition in her Bakeshop Mystery series is a perfect summer read! Find out more about Ellie and her books here. Read my author interview here.



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




Monday, July 24, 2017

Mailbox Monday: Montana Library Loot

What new books came into your house last week?

Thanks to a work trip to Missoula, Montana, I picked up a stack of new-to-me books from the Friends of the Library sale shelves at the downtown library. I always find great books there!


How it All Began by Penelope Lively

Next of Kin by Joanna Trollope

Smart Set Criticism by H. L. Menckens

Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull

The Vault by Ruth Rendell

The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell

A Wodehouse Bestiary by P. G. Wodehouse

The Florence King Reader by Florence King

Toast: The story of a Boy's Hunger by Nigel Slater

Exiles: A Memoir by Michael J. Arlen

Truth and Consequences by Alison Lurie

Epilogue: A Memoir by Anne Roiphe

The Great Mortdacai Moustache Mystery by Kyril Bonfiglioli



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, July 20, 2017

Book Beginning: That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



Though the digital clock on his bedside table in his hotel room read 5:17, Jack Griffin, suddenly wide awake, knew he wouldn't be able to get back to sleep.

-- That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo. I loved Empire Falls, for which Russo won the Pulitzer Prize, and have been meaning to read his other books for years. This one looked like a good choice for a summer read.




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






Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Beginnings: A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

Sorry I didn't get this posted yesterday! I was in court in Montana and it completely slipped my mind. It's been that kind of crazy week!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



They say that the heart is like the ocean; its rhythm shifting with the sand on the shore.

A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander. This latest Bakeshop Mystery finds Jules Capshaw, the owner of the Torte cafe, taking her talents for desserts and crime solving on the high seas.

Ellie Alexander's series is perfect for summer! Read my author interview of Ellie here, and more about Ellie and her books here.





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





Monday, July 10, 2017

Mailbox Monday: A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander

One very fun book came into my house last wee. What about you?



A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander. This is the latest in Alexander's frosting-filled Bakeshop Mystery series, featuring dessert chef and amateur sleuth Jules Capshaw, this time taking her talents on a tropical but deadly cruise.

Read some Q&A with Ellie Alexander here, and find out more about Ellie and her fun books here.



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, July 8, 2017

Author Interview: Stephen Holgate


Author Stephen Holgate's debut novel, Tangieris part modern day mystery, part WWII spy story. He drew on his own memories as a diplomat serving at the American Embassy in Morocco for inspiration.


Steve recently answered questions for Rose City Reader:

How did you come to write Tangier?

I had been wanting to write a story set in Morocco, something that would catch its fascination, its rich history – and how people, particularly foreigners, can come adrift there. We lived there for four years while I worked for the embassy. I heard and misheard, remembered and misremembered, many stories.

I was particularly interested in fascinating stories set during WWII, some of which were related to me by a retired OSS agent I met in Tangier. These stories, which often revolved around the fact that Tangier was not controlled by any government during the war, were colorful and intriguing and, I thought, would make a great setting for a longer story about spies and betrayal. The part of the story regarding a man looking for his father, a French diplomat in that era, also interested me. Though it turned out that the story was totally false, I still liked it and used it as one of the two major threads in the story.

How much of your novel is based on true, historical events about Morocco during WWII?

Good question. I'm not sure myself. As I say, at least part of the book is based on a story that turned out not to be true. Maybe some of the other stories I heard were equally inaccurate. But I believe the stories told me by the old OSS agent were essentially true. Part of my “research” was to simply look through our family albums to remind myself how things looked, felt, smelled, tasted. The photos were a big help.

It's funny, I didn't think of myself as writing historical fiction. I wanted to write a story that just happened to be set a few decades ago. That said, I worked hard to get the historical background right, including some details of the wild nature of wartime Tangier, where money-changers worked, which hotels were favorite haunts of the French and Germans, the lack of accurate information, leaving people to wonder how the war was really going. I knew the American Legation Museum pretty well, including its famous “closet,” which hid a secret room where spies helped planned the American landings in North Africa.

A real problem as I began to plan out the book was that I needed some logical reason to have Rene Laurent, our French protagonist, go to Tangier and find himself unable to leave. Then, one day, I read in Churchill's war memoirs how the collaborationist French Vichy government helped some officials sail to Casablanca to set up a government in exile when France surrendered. They should have asked themselves why the Vichy would help them set up a rival government, because they were all arrested shortly after they landed in Casa. Churchill mentioned that some of the officials had come overland, rather than taking the ship. I think I shouted out loud, “That's it!” Laurent is coming overland and gets as far as Tangier when he finds out everyone else has been arrested. He doesn't dare go into French-held Morocco, can't go back to France, and the Spanish, who favored the Nazis, were likely to arrest him if he went there. He was stuck. Perfect.

What is your work background? How did it lead to you writing a historical thriller?

During my foreign service career, I worked for the American Embassy in Morocco for four years. I really enjoyed my time there, traveled the country a lot and met a lot of interesting people. My wife and I liked Tangier a great deal and went there a number of times, often staying at the Legation Museum. Though most of the story takes place in Tangier, I enjoyed setting small parts of it in other favorite places – Fez, Asilah, the Roman ruins at Volubulis. There's nothing like having actually lived there to help get the look and the feel of a place right.

As I say, I didn't really think of myself as writing an historical novel. I don't think I even thought of myself as writing a thriller, per se. I was writing a novel about love and betrayal and redemption, set in Morocco. Life there during the war, amid the world of espionage, lent itself very well to what I wanted to do. It is part mystery, part spy story because that seemed to be the best way to write about the things I wanted to write about.

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

That I could spell Chefchaouen without looking at a map.

Your book goes back and forth from the present-day story of Christopher Chaffee, dodging career disgrace by searching for the father he thought died in WWI, to the father’s WWII espionage adventures in wartime Tangiers. How did you decide to entwine the two narratives instead of just telling a WWII spy story?

I met a Canadian private detective in Tangier who was delving back into events during WWII to help a family advance a defamation suit. They had been unfairly accused of helping the Nazis in WWII while the family lived in Tangier for a few years. This investigation was the first germ of my story, and I thought I'd write about a detective looking into a similar issue, with perhaps some segment set during the war.

Then I heard a story about an American whose father, a French diplomat, had sent his family to the United States as the war broke out, then made no effort to reunite with them. The story turned out to be untrue, but it was an intriguing about how the past can come to haunt those in the present. I dropped the detective and turned him into a son looking for his father, and turned the falsely accused family into a French diplomat stranded in Tangier. I found both stories compelling and thought that telling them in alternating sections would add an intriguing dimension.

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

I have so many. Faulkner, Hemingway, Katherine Anne Porter (badly neglected), Charles McCarry (ditto), Ann Patchett, Yasunari Kawabata, Georges Simenon, Graham Greene. I learn from all of them. Simenon and Hemingway are great inspirations in keeping the writing simple -- and Faulkner is there to remind you not to make it too simple. Graham Greene writes so well about moral dilemmas and the hold of exotic lands. Kawabata makes things so spare and so beautiful.

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

I'm not sure I have a favorite kind of writing. I read about half non-fiction and half fiction. The non-fiction can tell you so much about the “what” of human life. Fiction, which at its best is even truer, can give so much of the “why.”

Right now, I'm re-reading The Hours by Michael Cunningham and a mystery by Simenon. I believe Simenon is the only writer mystery writer to be nominated for the Nobel Prize. His books, mostly very short, offer searing insight into human nature.

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

For Portlanders, I'll be reading selections from Tangier and signing copies at Mother Foucault's Bookshop in Portland, Thursday, July 20th at 7:00 p.m. For folks at the Oregon beach, I'll be at the Lincoln City Cultural Center Friday, July 28th at 7:00.

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

Write every day, if you possibly can. Be disciplined. You stay in your groove much better – keep your head in what you're doing – and get a much better sense of progress. It's easy to despair and give up when you feel like the project will take forever.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

No heavy lifting.

At least for me, it can give a great sense of satisfaction. I'm doing what I want to do and, when it's going well, I feel that I'm accomplishing a very difficult task well. It's a good feeling.

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

A second novel, Madagascar, set in the American embassy in that wholly unique island/world, comes out next year. Currently, I'm working on a story set in Oregon, kind of Washington County Gothic.

THANK YOU, STEVE!

TANGIER IS AVAILABLE ONLINE OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE TO ORDER IT!


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Beginning: Free to Choose

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



Ever since the first settlement of Europeans in the New World, America has been a magnet for people seeking adventure, fleeing from tyranny, or simply trying to make a better life for themselves and their children.

-- from the author's Introduction to Free to Choose by Milton & Rose Friedman.

Every day each of us uses innumerably goods and services -- to eat, to wear, to shelter us from the elements, or simply to enjoy. We take it for granted that they will be available when we want to buy them.

-- from Chapter 1, The Power of the Market.

This struck me as a good book to start reading on Independence Day. I’ve been meaning to read it for years. Nowadays it’s hard to imagine how popular the television series was that prompted the Friedmans' book – 10 hour-long documentaries made in the late 1970s, shown on public television, analyzing capitalism by a Nobel Prize-winning libertarian economist.



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





Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Tangier by Stephen Holgate



His arguments exhausted, lacking official status, without influence, Chaffee could not impose on any more of this young man's time. After weeks spent planning this trip, after the long journey from Washington, Chaffee only now realized how absurd his story sounded, how ridiculous he must appear.

-- Tangier by Stephen Holgate. A man's search for his father, who he thought had died in a Vichy prison during WWII, quickly spins into his own international adventure.

Tangier is a great book for summer! International intrigue, historical fiction, and a father/son plot all in one!



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




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