Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: The Preserve and Choosing Diversity

I'm doubling down on the teasers this week, with one from a new historical thriller and another for Nonfiction November.

They traveled south for two hours, the truck's headlights finding only green tropical forest, brown streams, and an unending line of steep hills and surely mountains beyond. The last signs of civilization they passed was a village called San Mariel, just a junction of huts, their tires thumping on old cobbled road.

-- The Preserve by Steve Anderson. This post-WWII thriller is set on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1948. Wendell Lett, war hero turned deserter, seeks treatment for combat trauma at The Preserve, only to get caught up in an assassination plot that runs all the way to General Douglas MacArthur.

The Preserve is Anderson's second book featuring Wendell Lett, who first appeared in Under False Flags. They can be read as stand-alones, and are even better read back to back.

From the book flap: "Based on on of history's darkest secrets, The Preserve is a fast-paced historical thriller that will leave you breathless."

And that is the secret of charter schools – their ability to use the autonomy granted to them to create education programs that are very different from the regular public schools and very different from each other, but which responded to the individual demands of families. No one has to go to a charter school, but parents and their children vote with their feet because, as Moskowitz says, "There's a problem with the system and what it's delivering for children."

-- Choosing Diversity: How Charter Schools Promote Diverse Learning Models and Meet the Diverse Needs of Parents and Children by Lance Izumi. In celebration of Nonfiction November, I've been reading and featuring many nonfiction books this month, including this book that profiles 13 charter schools around the country.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker. Participants share a two-sentence teaser from the book they are reading or featuring. Please remember to include the name of the book and the author. You can share your teaser in a comment below, or with a comment or link at the Teaser Tuesday site, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Mailbox Monday: Bitter Cry, Perfect Meals, Tana French

Mailbox Monday! A show and tell for the books that came your way last week. I got three new books, what about you?

Bitter Cry by S. L. Stoner, a Sage Adair historical mystery. This is the eighth mystery in the series set in 1902 in Portland and the Pacific Northwest, featuring Sage Adair, a secret operative in the early days of organized labor.

From the back cover:
Night fog drives a young newsboy into a seedy saloon where his appearance catapults Sage Adair into a world of painful memories, child exploitation and frantic searches for missing loved ones.

In Search of the Perfect Meal: A Collection of the Best Food Writing of Roy Andries de Groot
, edited by Lorna Sass. I haven't come across de Groot before, but I love vintage food writing, and this sounds like my perfect cup of tea!

De Groot was a cookbook author, book writer, and gourmet in residence" on the Today Show. The book description says: "Essays describe the author's childhood, exotic foods, favorite restaurants, secrets of dining, wines and spirits."

The Trespasser
by Tana French. I've only read the first novel in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, so it will be a long time before I get around to The Trespasser, the sixth book in the series. But I found a copuy on the Take One/Leave One shelf at the BnB we staued in on our New Englang vacation last week, so I left the book I finished and took this copy because it was so tempting. It inspires me to read The Likeness, the second book in the series.

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 Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Favorite Author: Jim Harrison

I found Jim Harrison when he wrote a food column for Esquire magazine called The Raw and the Cooked. I thought he was a genius. When I figured out he wrote novels, I gobbled them up like his characters go through brook trout and whiskey. I had a small clique of similarly obsessed friends and have happy memories of discussing the characters and ideas over long, Harrison-inspired dinner parties when we were all in our late 20s.

The Road Home is in my permanent Top 10 Favorite Novels list. It is one of the very few book I've read multiple times (three). Harrison will always be high on my list of favorite authors, at the top on any given day. 

A few of his later books (True North and Returning to Earth) didn't "rattle my brainpan" (to use a Harrison expression) like the earlier books did. They were repetitive and a little tired. Still, I enjoyed them the way I enjoy music from a favorite band even if some of the songs sound the same. Variations on a theme sound sweet, especially when they are familiar. And his more recent "faux mysteries," The Great Leader and The Big Seven, were much more lively.

Here is the list of Harrison's prose books, from most recent to oldest. I have read them all and am now making my way through a very big book of his collected poetry.

A Really Big Lunch: The Roving Gourmand on Food and Life
The Ancient Minstrel
The Big Seven
The River Swimmer 
The Great Leader
The Farmer's Daughter (reviewed here)
The English Major (reviewed here)
Returning to Earth
The Summer He Didn't Die
True North
Off to the Side: A Memoir
The Beast God Forgot to Invent
The Road Home
The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand
Just Before Dark
The Woman Lit By Fireflies
Legends of the Fall
A Good Day to Die

Friday, November 15, 2019

Book Beginning: A Cup of Holiday Fear by Ellie Alexander


Apologies for not getting my post up yesterday evening!


They say that the holidays bring people together. Nothing could be truer than in my hometown of Ashland, Oregon, which looks like a scene straight out of a picture postcard.

-- A Cup of Holiday Fear by Ellie Alexander. This is the latest in Alexander's Bakeshop Mystery series featuring baker, cafe owner, and amateur sleuth Jules Capshaw. A Cup of Holiday Fear is decked out for a holiday cozy, with all the favorite characters gathered at a local inn for a holiday Dickens Feast, only to have one guest end up dead.

From the book description: "It’s Christmastime and everyone is heading to Torte, the most cheerful bakery in town. There’s no place like home for the homicide…"

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.

SOCIAL MEDIA: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, 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. Please find me on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.


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.


"I think we're on to something here. If bacon grease coffee shows up on the Merry Windsor menu after Richard tries it at Torte we'll have hard evidence that he only lurks around the bakeshop to try and pilfer our ideas."

Now there's a funny plan.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Teaser Tuesday Trifecta: Two Memoirs & a Beer Cozy

I missed teasing last Tuesday because I was visiting family in Brooklyn. So I'm making up for it with a Teaser Tuesday Trifecta this week.

First, to celebrate Nonfiction November, I have two memoirs:

Maybe just the practice of coming here has been my transformation. Somehow my long personal aversion to all the apparatus of preaching and saving has fallen away, and I'm able simply to sit here and receive.

-- The Mountains of Paris: How Awe and Wonder Rewrote My Life by David Oates. Oates spent a winter and spring living in Paris. In his new memoir, he writes about how the art, music, architecture, and Notre Dame in particular shifted the trajectory of his spiritual journey.

From the back cover:
In long years of mountaineering, Oates fought the self-loathing that had infused him as the gay kid in the Baptist pew. And in The Mountains of Paris, he ascends to a place of wonder.

The next night at the Easter Vigil after Father had sung the Exsultet, and I approached the lectern to read, I looked in his eyes. It was a split second, but I could see how excited he got.

-- Celibate by Maria Giura. Giura fell in love with a Catholic priest and writes about their complicated, angry relationship in her new memoir.

From the back cover:
Celibate focuses on her ten-year struggle to let go of this priest, to heal from her childhood, and to finally embrace her true calling.

And, as we head into the holidays, a cozy beer-themed mystery set in the Bavariana town of Leavenworth, Washington sounded perfect.

After the tour, I poured the group a tasting tray and had them put their newfound beer education to the test. I smiled as they took turns holding each tasting glass to their nose before sipping.

-- Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie Alexander. This is the third mystery in Alexander's Sloan Kraus series featuring a brewer Sloan and her sidekick Garrett Strong.

From the back cover:
Alexander has created an appealing cast of characters and a lovely setting for them to live in. Best of all, she treats the reader to a fascinating look at the skill and artistry involved in brewing craft beer.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker. Participants share a two-sentence teaser from the book they are reading or featuring. Please remember to include the name of the book and the author. You can share your teaser in a comment below, or with a comment or link at the Teaser Tuesday site, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

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