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.




Happy Independence Day!




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