Monday, September 23, 2019

Mailbox Monday: Three New Books by Women Writers

What books came into your house last week? I got three new books, one that is out already and two that will launch in the next weeks:

Birds of Wonder cover

Birds of Wonder by Cynthia Robinson. This debut novel is a murder mystery and complex family story set in upstate New York. It starts when a teacher discovers the body of her dead student and calls the police to solve the crime -- the police detective being her own daughter. It looks amazing!

A Place in the World cover

A Place in the World by Amy Maroney. This is the last book in Maroney's Miramonde series of historical novels about a female artist in the 1500s and the modern art historian tracking her down. The book launches on September 26.

The Miramonde series starts with The Girl from Oto, continues with Mira's Way, includes a preqel novella called The Promise, and concludes with A Place in the World.

Read my interview with Amy Maroney about her series, female artists, and what drew her to historical fiction.

This Particular Happiness cover

This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story by Jackie Shannon Hollis, a new memoir will be available October 1 from Forest Avenue Press, by a woman who made the complicated decision not to have children when she married a man who did not want kids.

For those in the Portland area, the official book launch for This Particular Happiness is October 4, 2019 at Powell's City of Books from 7:30 - 9:00 pm. Laura Stanfill, the delightful and inspiring leader of Forest Avenue Press, will be on hand to introduce Jackie and her book.


Mailbox Monday badge

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.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Book Notes: Last, Now, Next - What I'm Reading in September

books stacked on pillow

I've enjoyed playing around with Instagram book posts lately. Instagram inspires me to take more pictures, obviously, and the bookstagrammers start discussions or post hashtag challenges that give me ideas for blog posts and the creative energy to sit down and write them.

This morning I had fun with a hashtag challenge on Instagram called #lastnownextread where participants list the book they just finished, the book they are currently reading, and the book they plan to read next.

My last read was The Little Book of Lykke: The Danish Search for the World's Happiest People by Meik Wiking. I thought it was interesting, approached important ideas in a creative way, and was more substantive than his earlier book, The Little Book of Hygge, which I adore. I didn't agree with all his conclusions. For instance, while some programs might work in Denmark, I don't know that they would transfer or scale up for other countries. But I like that he is thinking about and discussing what makes people happy and how to achieve that on a broad scale. It’s a book I’d like to discuss with people face to face, which would be a very lykke thing to do.

My current read is The Small Room by May Sarton. I’m enjoying this one a lot because I love “campus novels” and middlebrow, Midcentury fiction. This is set in a women’s college in upstate New York, contemporaneous to when it was published in 1961. So this one is my exact cup of tea! I keep this list of campus novels if others share my enjoyment for Ivy Tower fiction.

My next read is Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy. I read this in college, and I’m slowly, in fits and starts, rereading some of the classics I read so long ago.

The three are stacked on one of my favorite needlepoint pillows because fall is here and I dug out that pillow to toss on the living room sofa.

So, what are your three? Feel free to share.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Book Beginning: Generation Share: The Change Makers Building the Sharing Economy by Benita Matofska & Sophie Sheinwald

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



What is the sharing economy? What does sharing mean to you?

Generation Share: The Change Makers Building the Sharing Economy by Benita Matofska and Sophie Sheinwald, a new release from Policy Press. Interviews and photos highlighting 200 case studies of the new worldwide sharing movement.



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. Sorry I didn't get the post up early this week! My law partner and I had our office party yesterday evening to celebrate her becoming a partner, changing our firm name to Dumas & Vaughn, and our firm's fifth anniversary. We were setting up for the party and I forgot to post!

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



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.


MY FRIDAY 56

In this 24/7, on-demand, screen-obsessed era, we are exposed to more information in one day than our predecessors experienced in a lifetime. For Gen Z, the Sharing Economy is the economy -- as much a part of them as they are of it and so innate they may not realize it.

It's hard to know from this snippet where this idea is going. I can imagine, but don't know, how modern technology and sharing fit together.

While I read on to figure it out, I'll share this picture of me and my law partner Ashley Vaughn, from our party last night. I hope you share your Book Beginnings and Friday 56 teasers!



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Winded: A Memoir in Four Stages by Dawn Newton



I didn't like to tell strangers who learned about my cancer that I was a non-smoker. Dealing with strangers was always tricky.

Winded: A Memoir in Four Stages by Dawn Newton. In her new memoir, Dawn Newton writes about living life to the fullest after she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.

Winded is available for pre-order. It releases on October 1, 2019 from Apprentice House Press, the nation's first entirely student-managed publishing house, located at Loyola University Maryland.

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
When Dawn Newton, an adjunct professor and mother of three, gets a terminal lung cancer diagnosis, the path forward appears rutted. The Great Recession has left her exhausted and juggling multiple jobs. Then she learns of her cancer's mutation. She can take a pill each day to live longer.

Fifteen months into survival, she feels overwhelmed by the effort of staying alive. She longs to embrace moments and display gratitude yet can't find words to articulate her needs. Regardless of any control she exerts over her body's frailties, her emotional life asserts its own disruptive trajectory. Even as she labors to anchor herself to the love of family, she faces a blasphemous question: "If no cure is available, and death lurks around the next corner, is more time really worth it?"

In Winded, Newton describes life with terminal disease, exploring dark crevices of the psyche as she tries to assess the value of a life. The final lessons she imparts to her family may not be about resilience but about illuminating vulnerability and embracing the imperfect.


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

Monday, September 16, 2019

Mailbox Monday: Books with Friendly Connections



I'm often inspired to buy a book or borrow it from the library because I see it on social media. But I realize that my real life friends also add to my sagging TBR shelves. Do your friends influence what book you buy and read?

I cleaned up my office this weekend (a seismic event for me) and realized I've gathered a random assortment of books in the last couple of weeks, all here in my life because of some connection with a friend. In some cases, the connection was direct, in some it was attenuated, but all of these books were here because of a friend.

Going clockwise:

Sunnylands: America’s Midcentury Masterpiece by Janice Lyle. I’ve had my eye on this gorgeous coffee table book ever since my friend showed it to me at her house a few months ago. It will always remind me of her.

The Compleat Squash: A Passionate Grower’s Guide to Pumpkins, Squashes, and Gourds by Amy Goldman. My book publicist friend Mary Bisbee-Beek give me a review copy of Goldman’s luscious new book, The Melon, and I love it so much I had to go looking for all of Goldman’s earlier books.

A Better Man and Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. The only friend connection here is that my neighbor (and friend) recently brought me a couple of books while he was out filling Little Free Libraries, which reminded me to take a bunch of my books to our closest neighborhood LFL, where I found these two perfect copies of Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries that I have not read yet.

Choosing Diversity by Lance Izumi. A friend of mine introduced me to Lance because of my volunteer work for the Children's Scholarship Fund of Oregon, which provides scholarships for low-income families, elementary through high school, and is run out of the Cascade Policy Institute where I sit on on the board. Lance gave me a copy of his book when we met for lunch last week.

Culture Counts: Faith & Feeling in a World Besieged by Roger Scruton. A while back, my friend Steve Hayward posted a picture on Facebook of himself with Sir Roger Scruton. So when I saw this cover, I was curious to read the book. What a mug!

And as I was drafting this post, I got another friendly book surprise through the mail slot on my office door:


The Preserve by Steve Anderson. Set in 1948 in the US Territory of Hawaii, a WWII vet seeks to cure his combat fatigue at a mysterious facility called the Preserve, but gets pulled in on a deadly plot that runs all the way to General MacArthur.

Steve writes WWII thrillers that are are exciting, a little quirky, and based on true events. I'd read them even if Steve and I weren't friends because the stories are so good! I was just lucky to get my friends' copy early.

The Preserve launches this week and is available for pre-order. For Portlanders, the launch event for The Preserve is Thursday at Powell's Books on Hawthorne at 7:30.



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.






Thursday, September 12, 2019

Book Beginning: The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



When the doorbell rang, neither of them reacted right away.

– The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist. This short, fast-paced thriller finds Sarah Rock the prime suspect in a woman's disappearance and her fancy Manhattan life falling apart. It's an exciting story of love and madness.

The Woman in the Park is published by Beaufort Books and is available now. Teresa Sorkin is a television producer. Tullan Holqvist is an investigator, writer, and actor. This is their first 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.

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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING

Sorry for the lack of linky! I’m traveling for work without my laptop and can’t figure out how to do it on my phone. Please leave your link in a comment this week.




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.


MY FRIDAY 56

The teacher was unlike most she had encountered, with their forced-calm voices and thinly veiled judgments. He liked to dispense droplets of a dour sort of wisdom in between his more usual litany of sarcastic remarks and inappropriate jokes.



Monday, September 9, 2019

Mailbox Monday: Brené Brown and Portland Noir

I got two very different books last week:



The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown.

This time of year when the season starts to change and autumn is in the air, I always get in a back-to-school, self-improving mood. I undertake organization projects, read self-help books, tidy the house. And, of course, start planning for the holidays.

I’m new to the Brené Brown bandwagon, having just read my first book of hers, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. I really liked what she had to say -- as so many people do -- and want to read more of her books. People seem to like this Gifts of Imperfection book a lot, so I got it.



Frank's Revenge: Albina After Dark by Don DuPay, author of Behind the Badge: A Portland Police Memoir. Frank's Revenge is a new novel, a neo-noir thriller set in Portland, written by a former homicide detective. It looks like a great read!

DuPay's book caught my eye because it has a blurb on the front cover by Phil Stanford, my favorite former Oregonian newspaper columnist and author of a book I loved, Portland Confidential: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Rose City and, more recently, Rose City Vice: Portland in the 70's - Dirty Cops and Dirty Robbers.

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. You can also read more about Books That Caught Our Eye from the week before.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.



Thursday, September 5, 2019

Book Beginning: Winded: A Memoir in Four Stages by Dawn Newton

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



The wind from Hurricane Sandy swept into Michigan and onto the campus of Oakland University, a college nestled within a suburb of Detroit.

Winded: A Memoir in Four Stages by Dawn Newton. In this new memoir, Newton writes about living with lung cancer for six years with the help of an unexpected prescription drug. She writes about her fears and her family and living life to the fullest no matter what.

Winded is published by Apprentice House Press, a student-managed book publisher at Loyola University Maryland. It comes out October 1, 2019 and is available for pre-order.



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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




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.


MY FRIDAY 56

From our mother we learn to sing by ear at an early age, before we knew about notes. She'd grown up in a large family with talented singers, and although her older sister, my aunt Angie, knew how to play the piano, my mother did not.




Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Favorite Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming



Julia Spencer-Fleming published In the Bleak Midwinter, the first book in her Clare Fergusson series, in 2002. Fergusson is a former army pilot, now Episcopalian priest and the first female priest at St. Albans in the small Adirondack town of Millers Kill. (Kill is the old Dutch word for river, but it sounds spooky, doesn't it?)

Now up to eight books with another due in 2020, the series is called the Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne series, as Clare’s police chief love interest gets double billing. Electricity sparked between pastor and cop from the get go. While Episcopalian priests can date and marry, they are definitely not supposed to date married men, especially high profile citizens like the police chief. The development of their relationship is one of the best parts of the series.

Spencer-Fleming has won several awards for her books and was nominated at least once for the coveted Edgar. She deserves the acclaim. This is one of the best-written, most intelligent mystery series going. The plots are creative and intricate. The pacing is solid, with exciting scenes that are actually exciting. The characters are complex -- Fergusson is one of the most interesting sleuths out solving mysteries. Spencer-Fleming does a masterful job of having Clare maintain her spiritual role while wrestling with human issues.

A big difficulty with amateur sleuth series is how to get the amateur sleuth involved in so many murder investigations. Spencer-Fleming handles this well, usually by having Fergusson face a minor problem in the beginning -- something a small town priest could believably have to deal with -- and then only throwing in the dead body after Fergusson is well involved. There are enough "stay out of this; I told you to wait in the car" conversations with Van Alstyne as necessary, but not annoyingly many.

I've read the first seven. All the titles are the names of hymns:

In the Bleak Midwinter (2002)

A Fountain Filled With Blood (2003)

Out of the Deep I Cry (2004)

To Darkness and to Death (2005) (reviewed here)

All Mortal Flesh (2007) (reviewed here)

I Shall Not Want (2008)

One Was a Soldier (2011) (reviewed here)

Through the Evil Days (2013)

Hid from Our Eyes (2020 - available for pre-order only)

NOTES

Last updated on September 2, 2019.

OTHER FANS

If you have reviews of Julia Spencer-Fleming's books, or other posts about this author, and would like them listed here, please leave comments with a links and I will add them here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Big Sky by Kate Atkinson



Crystal was hovering around thirty-nine years old and it took a lot of work to stay in this holding pattern. She was a construction, made from artificial materials – the acrylic nails, the silicone breasts, the polymer eyelashes.
Big Sky by Kate Atkinson, the new Jackson Brodie novel. This is the fifth in Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series, my favorite mystery series.

I've only just started this one. I'm reading it with my ears because my library has it available on Overdrive for instant download with no wait list (unbelievable). And -- what a treat -- it is read by Jason Isaacs, the cutie patootie who plays Jackson Brodie in Case Histories, the tv adaptation of the first three books.

All the Brodie books have involved several disparate stories that more or less come together. Like with her literary fiction, Atkinson's droll commentary and crackling wit make every page a delight. These are in no way conventional mysteries. They are stories about people facing conflict, struggling with relationships, finding their place, and trying to understand life. That they have a few dead bodies thrown in make them "mysteries," but they are literature.

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an aging Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex-partner Julia. It's picturesque, but there's something darker lurking behind the scenes.

Jackson's current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, is fairly standard-issue, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network-and back across the path of his old friend Reggie. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking novel by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.


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

Monday, September 2, 2019

Mailbox Labor Day Monday


Happy Labor Day! At least for those celebrating this long holiday weekend.

Indie authors and publishers work mighty hard to get their books into the hands of readers, so this stack of new releases from small presses is well-suited for Labor Day.

Here’s the stack (my souvenir mug from Positano has nothing to go with the theme):

Celibate by Maria Giura, a memoir by a woman who fell in love with a priest only to find her true calling. From Apprentice House Press, a student-managed book publisher at Loyola University Maryland.

Listening at Lookout Creek: Nature in Spiritual Practice by Gretel Van Wieren, another memoir, this one by a woman who retreats to an Oregon forest to try to recapture her sense of deep connection with the natural world, a feeling she thought she had lost while living a super busy, high-tech life with kids. From OSU Press at Oregon State University.

The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist, a new “domestic thriller” that is getting a bit of buzz. From Beaufort Books in New York City.

Winded: A Memoir in Four Stages by Dawn Newton, which, as the title suggests, is about the author’s cancer fight and her final gift to her family. Also from Apprentice House Books.

The Melon by Amy Goldman, photos by Victor Schrager, a luscious new book celebrating all thing melonicious. It is part garden book, part seed-saver primer, part food porn, and all gorgeous. From City Point Press.

Generation Share: The Change-Makers Building the Sharing Economy by Benita Matofska and Sophie Sheinwald, featuring interviews and photos of 200 people at the forefront of the sharing movement. From Policy Press.

What new 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 Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.








Sunday, September 1, 2019

Book Review: Trove by Sandra A. Miller


Trove: A Woman's Search for Truth and Buried Treasure by Sandra A. Miller, from Brown Paper Press

As a child, Sandra A. Miller gathered treasure. Stray buttons, pretty stones, even paper clips caught her magpie eye and found their way to her shoebox treasure chests. She carried her scavenger hunting habits into adulthood, finding herself one day, sometime in her forties, digging for pirate treasure in Brooklyn with a sexy man named David.

But Trove is memoir, not fiction. So reality nudges in to explain that the “pirate treasure” was buried by a couple of entrepreneurial puppeteers as a marketing stunt. Miller lives in Boston, a five-hour drive from Brooklyn, where her two kids wonder why their mom is not home with them. And her husband is getting exasperated with her buddy David now that this armchair treasure hunt has turned into an actual road trip. Is she searching for buried treasure or running away?

Miller explores these ideas and how her search for treasure has always been “an instinct born of yearning.” Her parents were volatile, often angry with each other and their two daughters, although always happy and popular with outsiders. Her father died when she was 19, before she felt a connection between them. Now Miller’s elderly mother is reaching her end, having never connected with Miller’s children or shown Miller motherly love.

Miller summed up her feelings like this:
Maybe it had to do with growing up lonely in a middle-class, Catholic family, being a fiery young girl forced to endure a home life as empty as that hollowed-out tree stump, with no promise of treasure underneath. And maybe that girl grew into a passionate woman who still obsessively believed her only chance for happiness was buried in some unknowable place.
The narrative flows effortlessly with a casual style that is introspective but never maudlin. Just when it was starting to feel exasperating that she didn’t tell her husband exactly what was on her mind, Miller brought her story to a conclusion most satisfyingly, even with a bit of a twist.

All in all, Trove is an excellent memoir. It would make a good book club pick. I would recommend it in particular for sandwich generation readers, women facing middle age, and those dealing with aging parents.


NOTES

This review will appear in the October 2019 edition of Midwest Book Review.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Book Beginning: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



"That doesn't sound like a school trivia night," said Mrs. Patty Ponder to Marie Antoinette. "That sounds like a riot."

-- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I was slow to climb onto this bandwagon and now I regret it. I love this Big Little Lies book! Now I want to read Moriarty's other books. What should I start with?

This is the cover on the audiobook edition I got from the library. It's so striking that I like it better than the tv show tie-in cover I usually see.



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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




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.


MY FRIDAY 56

"I'll pay you a thousand dollars if you stop that sound right now," said Ed. He put his pillow over his face. For a very nice man, he was surprisingly cruel about her singing.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Celibacy, A Love Story: Memoir of a Catholic Priest's Daughter by Mimi Bull



I tried to imagine my way back to early 1936 and to my mother's mind set when she discovered that she was pregnant. She was twenty-four; my father, the recently appointed young pastor of the local Polish Catholic, was twenty-eight.
-- Celibacy, A Love Story: Memoir of a Catholic Priest's Daughter by Mimi Bull. You can tell from the title and the teaser that this is an unusual story -- and a very interesting memoir.

I was lucky to get an advanced copy of this fascinating story. Celibacy: A Love Story is available for pre-order and releases in October. Check back here for an interview with Mimi Bull about her book and her family history.

PUBLISHER DESCRIPTION
Mimi Bull grew up secure in the love of family, friends, and neighbors, never questioning the unusual circumstances that caused her to be adopted by two women in the late 1930s. It was years before she learned the secret truth: that one of the women was her grandmother, the other her biological mother, and that the story of her adoption had been concocted not only to shield her mother’s reputation, but to hide the fact that her father was the gregarious young parish priest everyone adored. It has only been very recently that the Catholic Church has begun to acknowledge the existence of other children of priests, and Bull writes candidly of the emotional toll that this policy of secrecy and denial took on her—“I should like to have lived a life with my loving parents, knowing who we all were, knowing my father’s family from the beginning, and without the forty years of depression that compromised me and those I loved.”



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

Monday, August 26, 2019

Mailbox Monday: Cold Warriors by Duncan White & Why I Love LibraryThing

I got one new book last week from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program.



Cold Warriors: Writers Who Waged the Literary Cold War by Duncan White. This new book focuses on five writers who the author argues engaged in "literary warfare" on both sides of the cold war: George Orwell, Stephen Spender, Mary McCarthy, Graham Greene, and Andrei Sinyavsky. McCarthy and Greene are two of my favorites, so that alone makes me want to read this.

While I'm here, I'll give my unsolicited plug for LibraryThing. I've been on it since 2006 and use it to keep track of and organize my library. You can find my LibraryThing profile and library here. I like tracking my personal library on LibraryThing because you can add your books, tag them, and track them in spreadsheet format.

You can use the standard columns to track things like author name, publication date, page numbers, or date read. Or you can track by tag to really manage your library. This gives you flexibility to keep track of which books are still "TBR" or which are "finished" or "read." I tag "NIL" if the book is no longer physically in my library, which saves a lot of time searching through shelves. And I tag the year I read it so I can make a list of books read each year. "Wishlist" is a popular way to keep track of books you want.

Finally, I like that LibraryThing lets you add your books by ISBN so the edition on your spreadsheet is the exact edition on your shelf. If for some reason the cover doesn't match, you can chose from another cover on LibraryThing or upload your own cover.

I'm also on goodreads. Maybe there is a way to track a personal library on goodreads the same way as on LibraryThing, but I've never figured out how to do it. So I do not use goodreads the same way I use LibraryThing. I most use goodreads to post some book reviews and as as a social site. Although there is also a community of book lovers on LibraryThing -- people review books, join discussions and groups, and there is a robust Early Reviewer program.

If you are on either LibraryThing or goodreads, please come and find me!



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, August 24, 2019

Author Interview: Peter Nathaniel Malae


Peter Nathaniel Malae's new novel, Son of Amity, is the story of three lives converging in small town Oregon, and the little boy who brings them together.


Peter talked with Rose City Reader about his new book, small towns, and how books influenced his own childhood:

Your book is set in the small town of Amity, Oregon. What role does the town play in the story?

For several generations in rural Oregon, small towns like Amity have been bilaterally sustained by logging and small family legacy farms. When the logging industry got hit by a state-wide downsize in the late nineties and early zeroes, an unintended consequence, obvious in hindsight, was that these towns were left with a lot of youngsters, especially young men, with very few vocational options. Sissy and her mother are from this increasingly impoverished side of Amity. It’s no coincidence that drug use rapidly shot up in these areas, such that your standard video-game playing tweaker became a trope, and military enlistment, even during war, manifested as less sacrifice than deliverance. Michael, who joins up after 9-11, does five tours in Iraq.

Something else was simultaneously happening, though, most notably in the Yamhill Valley where Amity sits on its southern edge: the influx of wine. Although the original wineries of the 80’s and 90’s were almost exclusively homegrown, the success of these wines “outed” the area internationally. The recent fires in California exacerbated this exposure, as a lot of winemakers, foregoing rebuilding in the Golden State, headed north where water has never been in short supply. All of this translated into the import of money and culture, both of which are typically in conflict with what was already here. The new money is relatively inaccessible to the old working class Oregonian, and the “fast, loud, progressive” culture of Californians seems to swallow the slower, traditional rural culture already in place. This dichotomy, of course, is a narrative goldmine, and something I wanted to capture in Son of Amity. I’ve lived on the edge of rural Oregon for eleven years now, and it took me about five years to really understand this social phenomenon. That’s right about the time I started writing the novel.

One of your main characters, Sissy, is a recent Catholic convert. How do the themes of conversion and repentance play out in your story?

I feel for Sissy quite a bit, not in a fatherly way, really, even though I wrote her story, but just in the way of someone who loves another human being from afar, but can probably do little for that person. She’s young and faces judgment from her community, and from her husband-to-be’s mother, and pretty much everyone else she comes in contact with in Amity, and so it maybe seems strange that she’d gravitate to an institution which, at its best, operates with judiciousness and empathy, but, at its worst, finger-snaps judgment. I think understanding Sissy begins with the fatalism from which she views her own life: this somewhat vague, maybe undefinable idea that if her life is not meant to be, then nothing ever was, is, or will be meant to be. The epigraph from Agee’s book ties into this. Her mother tells her, “I wish I’d never birthed you,” and this is not so much a new dagger in Sissy’s heart as it is a potential nexus point for conversion. She knows this is wrong. She always has. When she responds by shoving her mother against the wall, this act itself so hurts her heart that she straightens her mother upright at once, and then runs off. She does not know what to do with her life, and is seeking the sturdiness of goodness, something, anything, she can stand by.

It’s important to note that on the night of her conversion she has just come from a house party where she’s been used, essentially, as a sex toy by high school boys. She walks to the monastery, where she’s never been before, instead of down to the South Yamhill River, where she’s spent many a night, among the shotgun shells and monster trucks and discarded needles. She does not know what she is doing, but her feeling of steadying a story that’s saddled her for so long finally appears to be happening. She doesn’t emerge of anything, I think. Troubles still lie ahead. Rather, she’s basically facing her life for what it is, as Michael demands of her before his fifth tour in Iraq kicks in, and her decision to lean away from an inheritance of ruin is at the same time terrifying and liberating. She could’ve stayed at the house party, and she will pay in a horrible way, later, for having gone at all, but she is ready at that mass to face her life in a soiled tube-top mini skirt and ice pick heels, and, from my perch of authorial disinterestedness, I admire that of her.

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?

I’d had the basic skeletal plot of the story, about 85-90% of it, in the first five minutes of conceiving the novel’s opening scene. It’s true, however, that I worked pretty hard on the ending, those last nine pages of both lasting death and lasting brotherhood. I just kept working it over and over, building it up and tearing it down, etc. One accrues over the years many scenes related to that last scene, both in one’s own real-life experience, and in one’s own direct contact with other narratives, such that it’s difficult, maybe impossible, to empirically trace the source of the scene’s genesis. I mean, I know I thought it up, that’s a fact, but how I thought it up requires a lifetime of review, and that’s also a fact. That’s one reason among many why certain writers are so tough to talk to: we’ve already talked on the page, and that’s the best way we can talk on a given topic and probably even anything at all, and a deconstruction of that talk can sort of sink the ship. Or it does mine, anyway. It’s not that writing just happens; it’s more that there’s so much in you, so much to you, as a human who happens to be a writer, that, even if you were inclined to do so, there’s not enough time to find that pearl at the bottom of the sea. The writing is an unending process, until your end, and not nearly as illuminating as most non-writers assume. I guess it’s good we have scholars for this type of deep dive, and it’s probably even better that the writer is usually gone when (if!) this happens.

How did you choose the title?

Amity’s etymology can be traced to the Latin amare, which means to “love.” Benji is a “son of
Amity” in that he was born there, obviously, but also, figuratively speaking, in that he was is sustained by “love.” It just takes the three adults some time to discover this, and each of them will pay terribly for not discovering it earlier.

Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?

My father was always reading books about war, and is pretty much an expert on the common soldier, the grunt, and the soldier’s outlook, the fibrous consistency of a soldier, whatever country he’s from. He’s an immigrant to this country, and so admires courage on behalf of this country, as do I. Dad did three combat tours in Vietnam as a Special Forces tracker, and is a true hero, officially in the Army’s eyes, who’d awarded him a Silver Star for Valor, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, and in my own eyes, as a son who knows him even better than they do. He’d gone to Vietnam to follow his brother Faulalogofie, a UDT-certified Force Recon Marine, who was killed by Pacifica police in ’76; or else to get some much-needed money for his family back in Section 8 Housing in Halawa; or else to continue to do something – fight for his life – that had been the theme of his life long before he ever went to war. It was all of these things, of course, and more, too much to include here. But as a boy, I’d watch my father read his books, and listen to him talk of these books and of the soldiers he’d known and hadn’t known in these books, and I eventually even read some of his books, too.

My brother and I were athletes and always playing in the streets 'til dark and so I honestly have to say that, though we were both good students, we were also always on the go, and didn’t like to settle in to read. That was too slow for our pace, and we wanted to skin our knees. No one really encouraged us to read novels, or big books, or anything like that. In the 6th grade, I’d read I am Third, by Gale Sayers, about his friendship with Brian Piccolo, a teammate on the Chicago Bears, who was dying of cancer. Piccolo was an Italian kid from Brooklyn or something, and Sayers, the greatest halfback of his era, was a brotha from, if I recall it rightly, Kansas. Their friendship had a lot to do with hearing the other guy out, and letting him get his two cents in, even if you didn’t want to keep the two cents. I don’t know if it was a great book or not, but I loved it, and it somewhat modestly started things for me, until my freshman comp class in high school, where I got steamrolled by Homer. I was thirteen, and totally lost in the pantheon of warring mortals and immortals that is The Iliad, but I’d get my feet again. I recently listened to that epic poem on tape with my children, driving around our town, and that was better than the first time. If I can handle the flood of nostalgia, I’ll probably revisit I am Third, too, just to see the changes. As it can’t be anything but, the changes will be in me, not the book.

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

This is constantly changing for me because I’ll read writers into the ground, pretty much, and get tired of their voice and subject matter for a long stretch, and this cycle has happened so many times now that certain writers have actually come back again, like the resilient invasive blackberry bush that Oregon deems a weed (ha), despite my having moved on to other writers years ago. This happens not just in prose, but also poetry. Restricted to prose, though, I guess my best answer here would be to break it up into the four or five favorite authors from the last three decades, respectively: 90’s: Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Baldwin, Dostoevsky; ‘00’s: Oe, Bellow, Marilyn Robinson, Russell Banks, Denis Johnson; ‘10’s: Kesey, Stegner, Nicole Krauss, Saramago, Sebald. I feel sort of bad that so many great writers (Dickens, McCarthy, Alexie, Solzhenitsyn, Styron) got skipped on this list, and that probably explains why I cheated right there, parenthetically squeezing them in, anyway.

What are you reading now?

There There by Tommy Orange. Also a biography about Descartes.

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

I’ve told everyone who’ll listen that I’m working on two epic novels, and as I think about this confession of sorts, it probably has something to do with my evil kernel of human doubt that I’ll ever finish them. I don’t want to look like a flake to anyone, most especially myself, and so it’s a kind of healthy reinforcing pressure, in many ways, for someone to say to me, “How’s that novel going that you’re working on?” I can’t look around and shrug, “Who? Me?” because I’d done given them the dirt the last time they’d seen me. My answer, of late, has been to use a metaphor of boats at sea: the novels-in-progress are destroyers trying to sink me, and I’m in a little rowboat skiff. I’ve got tricks up my sleeve, though, like Santiago in the The Old Man and the Sea, and so we’ll see who wins out, if it’s at all about winning out. It probably isn’t. That book ends with the old man crawling up onto the sand with a mast over his shoulder, three days “lost” at sea, his great fish decimated, and tourists mistaking the fish for a shark. So it’s not too encouraging, practically, to stay on this reference. But I also don’t care if it’s not too encouraging. Time to face it, talk myself up to straight handle it: I’m like the characters in SON OF AMITY, Pika, Michael, Sissy and even the boy, Benji: I ain’t going back no matter what. That’s right. I’ll live or die with these stories, and that’s the same old story for me.

* Photo credit: Christina Malae

THANKS PETER! 

SON OF AMITY IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Book Beginning: Shrug by Lisa Braver Moss

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



I call it my shrug, but it is not a regular shrug. It doesn't mean I don't care about stuff, or that I don't want to talk.

-- Shrug, by Lisa Braver Moss. The tumultuous Berkeley of the 1960s is the backdrop of this coming of age story about a teen-aged girl navigating the complexities of family abuse. Her violent father owns a record store and her mother is off the rails. Neither are helping her finish high school and go to college.




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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




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.


MY FRIDAY 56

My father hadn't said anything about having to send Beatles albums back to Capitol, or about not having gotten the ones with the original cover. But then, maybe he'd been too busy hitting people to mention it.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Book Beginnings: Celibacy, A Love Story: Memoir of a Catholic Priest's Daughter

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



Even though, growing up, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about my status as an adoptee, it was the back story to my childhood. I'd been told that I was adopted early on, and more information filtered down as I grew into adulthood: Alice Foyette adopted me in July of 1937 in Philadelphia when I was eight-and-a-half months old and brought me back to Norwood, Massachusetts, to live with her and her grown daughter, Florence.

Celibacy, A Love Story: Memoir of a Catholic Priest's Daughter by Mimi Bull. We learn by the second page that Florence was, in fact, Mimi's real mother. And the parish priest, whom her mother loved, was her father.




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.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



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.


MY FRIDAY 56

Neil dramatically upped the ante by asking me to marry him on the second evening. Utterly dazzled by this charming man and totally unprepared for the impact of his proposal, which I did not respond to, I danced and socialized and tried to deny what was unfolding.



Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Author Interview: Wendy Thomas Russell


Author and publisher Wendy Thomas Russell wrote ParentShift with Linda and Ty Hatfield, founders of Parenting from the Heart. Their book offers a new way to raise resilient, confident, and kind children.


Wendy recently talked with Rose City Reader about her new book, parenting, and universal truths about children:

What is the “shift” in the title of your book, ParentShift: Ten Universal Truths that Will Change the Way You Raise Your Kids?

It’s a paradigm shift.

In America, most parents fall into one of two categories: Controlling or permissive. Controlling parents tend to set loads of limits, place unreasonably high expectations on their kids, and fail to demonstrate enough empathy with children. Permissive parents, on the other hand, can be empathetic to a fault — treating their children’s problems as their own. They also expect far too little of children and tend to be weak limit- and boundary-setters.

Our book offers a third and wholly distinct parenting style: heart-centered. These parents set strong limits and boundaries, know how to genuinely empathize with their kids, and have high and reasonable expectations of them — all of which is associated with children who are kind, confident, compassionate, capable, resilient, and healthy.

Unfortunately, most adults were not raised in a heart-centered way, which is why it requires a paradigm shift.

Tell us a little about Linda and Ty Hatfield, and how you came to collaborate with them.

Linda is an educator by trade, and her husband, Ty, is a police lieutenant. Twenty years ago, they put their heads together and created an incredible program called Parenting from the Heart — a program based on all they had learned in in their years of study and experience. I met Ty when I was working for the Long Beach Press-Telegram as an investigative reporter in the early 2000s. After I gave birth to my daughter, he told me about a class and, eventually, my husband and I decided to take it ourselves. Seven years later, we decided to collaborate on the book.

Why did you write ParentShift?

When my daughter was in preschool, I began to encounter problems that I wasn’t sure how to solve. Our usual bag of tricks suddenly seemed insufficient. That’s why we chose to take Ty and Linda’s class. The class changed our lives. It made us better parents. It made us better spouses. It made us better people. As a writer, it’s hard to have a life-changing experience and not write about it. And, as it turned out, Ty and Linda always had wanted to turn their program into a book but needed a professional writer to do it. It was a no-brainer.

Your book is structured as a practical guidebook. How do you hope people will use it?

I hope people will see the book as the comprehensive guide that it is. This is not a book aimed at solving one particular kind of problem or navigating one particular age group. ParentShift aims to help parents identify and address virtually any challenge at any age. I hope people will read to the end and then refer back to it for years to come.

What is your professional background and how did it lead to you writing a book about parenting?

I fell into this genre quite by accident! I spent fifteen years in newspapers and when I left, I wrote a couple of books for the Girl Scouts before starting work on a novel. It was during that time that I started a blog about secular parenting, specifically about navigating the thornier issues — like talks about death without heaven and what to do when someone tells your child she’s going to go to hell. The blog, which eventually moved to the Patheos network under the name “Natural Wonderers,” was based on personal experience, as well as interviews I conducted with various experts. The blog became my first parenting book, Relax, It’s Just God: How and Why to Talk To Your Kids About Religion When You’re Not Religious (Brown Paper Press, 2015). ParentShift is my second and, most likely, my last. I’ve said just about everything I need to say on this subject!

Who do you hope will read your book?

It’s tempting to say everyone, because, frankly, much of the book’s advice can be applied partners, parents, co-workers, employees, friends, you name it. But, more realistically, our audience is parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers of children around age three to five. That’s when most parents start noticing that their old reliable techniques are starting to break down and — like me — turn to books, blogs and other parents for advice.

What makes your book different than other books about raising children?

This is going to sound self-serving, but I truly believe it: Ours is the most comprehensive, down-to-earth, actionable, and forward-thinking parenting book on the market. ParentShift provides detailed advice, true stories, unbiased research, and a modern sensibility. And because we have a sense of humor and a plain-spoken style, it’s fun to read.

What will readers learn from your book?

All children, regardless of their culture or background or socio-economic status, are driven by ten universal truths. These truths are things like “All children have emotional needs,” “All children have innate, neurological responses to stress,” “All children model their primary caregivers,” and “All children go through developmental stages.” These truths account for the vast majority of children’s behavior — whether it’s the tantrum of a toddler, the snarkiness of a nine-year-old, or the sullenness of a teenager. The thing is, it’s not always obvious which “truths” are at work at any given time. In ParentShift, readers will learn how to locate the underlying cause of a child’s behavior so that they can choose a heart-centered course of action appropriate for that situation.

In addition, parents will learn how to set consistent, reasonable limits and boundaries; curtail power struggles; minimize sibling rivalry; respond to outbursts without losing their tempers; create effective chore systems; prepare children to meet life’s challenges on their own; and build open, trusting relationships that keep kids turning to parents for guidance well into the teenage years.

Can you recommend other tools, books, or resources to parents figuring out how to raise their kids?

I recommend Your Child’s Self-Esteem by Dorothy Corkille Briggs, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, Hold On to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn, PET: Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort, and Between Parent & Child by Haim Ginott. And for a better look into the great, wide, expanding world of brain science, check out almost anything by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.

What else would you like people to know about your book or your approach to raising kids?

This book is not about being a “perfect” parent, whatever the hell that is. We’ve all come to parenting with our own baggage, neurosis, flaws, and failures. That’s okay. We don’t ask or expect adults to nail every interaction they have with kids. Parenting is rarely a straight shot. That said, an awful lot of parents are on a path that doesn’t line up with their own goals. They are sabotaging themselves and don’t even know it. Once parents have the knowledge, their own issues and idiosyncrasies no longer threaten to torpedo the kid’s self-esteem or damage the superbly important parent-child relationship. Because when they make mistakes — which they’ll no doubt do — they’ll know how to get back on track.

THANKS WENDY!

PARENTSHIFT IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT. 



Monday, August 12, 2019

Mailbox Monday: Priests and Bunnies

I got two books last week, and they could not be more different.



Celibacy, A Love Story: Memoir of a Catholic Priest's Daughter by Mimi Bull. This daughter of a Catholic priest kept her story private until she was in her 80s. When she came forward in a 2017 Boston Globe story, she was the oldest of any of the Catholic priest children to go public.

I am riveted by this new memoir, set to release October 3. Because of my work with survivors of Catholic sexual abuse, I've heard loud whispers about the parallel scandal of priests having sexual relationships with adult women and fathering children with them. These children -- whom the priests could not acknowledge -- were raised without their real fathers and often without fathers at all. It's time this story got attention.



Bunny Williams' Point of View by Bunny Williams. I love Bunny Williams' An Affair with a House book so much, I want to get her other books. This is my start.


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 Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

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