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.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Five Faves: Authors I'd Like to Meet


FIVE FAVE AUTHORS I'D LIKE TO MEET

My Five Faves today are five favorite authors instead of particular books. I was inspired by a couple of related hashtag posts on Instagram: #5authorsforcoffee and #FiveAuthorsIWouldLikeToMeet. As with all such "who would you most like to meet" questions, the writers can be living or dead. It's not like I'm really going to meet up for dinner with any of them except in my head.

These are the five authors I would like to meet, for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or at least a good long chat, with a little explanation for each. The links go to my post for each author, with a list of their books, with the exception of Erica Jong. That link goes to her list of Top 100 Novels by Women.


  • KINGSLEY AMIS: Amis is at the top of my list not only because his name starts with A but because, push comes to shove, if I had to name my very favorite author, it would be him. He wrote a lot of books, dabbled with many genres (literary fiction primarily, but nonfiction, criticism, poetry, murder mystery, sci-fi, spy, and grammar), was consistently funny, and told a good story. He delivers for me. He was a notorious drunk, the father of Martin Amis, the friend of poet Philip Larkin. I'd love to go for drinks with Sir Kingsley.
  • JIM HARRISON: Harrison is a close second when it comes to my all-time favorites and could beat out Amis on any given day. Harrison also wrote fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The Road Home is my favorite of his books. Harrison was also an interesting character, living mostly in Michigan then Montana in his older years, appreciating food, drink, and women, battling some personal demons. Anthony Bourdain did an episode of his Parts Unknown show in Montana with Jim Harrison. That and Harrison's excellent book The Raw and the Cooked are as close as I'll ever get to sharing a drink with Harrison.
  • P. D. JAMES: I love James's Adam Dalgliesh mystery series. Each one takes place in a closed community, like a hospital, church,  publishing house, or Inns of Court. She did a meticulous job at creating those worlds so the books are not repetitive. The characters are dark and troubled, so there is heft to the stories without being too scary to read. Her other books are also very good. The Children of Men is my favorite alt-history book, not the least because of the kittens! She was a lifetime Peer and served in the House of Lords from 1991 until her death in 2014. I'd like to have tea with Lady James and learn more about her.
  • ERICA JONG: I may not live like Jong's heroine Isadora Wing, but Jong touches a chord with me. Many chords, and often at just the right time. As mentioned above, she also compiled a list of Top 100 20th Century Novels by Women, back at the turn of the Millennium when Top 100 books lists were big. Her list is excellent and I've found many new-to-me authors and books because of it. I am a wholehearted fan and would love to split a bottle of wine with Erica Jong.
  • P. G. WODEHOUSE: People either think Wodehouse is a comic genius or an anachronism. I'm in the first camp. His wordplay is incomparable. I prefer to read his books with my ears to appreciate the language, but I will read them any way I can to get through them all. I always have a Wodehouse book going. I'd love to meet Plum for a chat out in the Hamptons and see if he is as funny and charming in real life as he was in his books. 
I have a shorter version of this post on my Instagram feed. Please visit me there. If you are on IG, let me know. I'd love to find you! And feel free to post your own list of the five authors you would like to meet, on your blog, on Instagram, or both. Let me know if you do so I can find it.

FIVE FAVES

There are times when a full-sized book list is just too much; when the Top 100, a Big Read, or all the Prize winners seem like too daunting an effort. That's when a short little list of books (or authors) grouped by theme may be just the ticket.

Inspired by Nancy Pearl's "Companion Reads" chapter in Book Lust – themed clusters of books on subjects as diverse as Bigfoot and Vietnam – I decided to start occasionally posting lists of five books grouped by topic or theme. I call these posts my Five Faves.

Feel free to grab the button and play along. Use today's theme or come up with your own. If you post about it, please link back to here and leave the link to your post in a comment. If you want to participate but don't have a blog or don't feel like posting, please share your list in a comment.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Author Interview: Marlena Maduro Baraf


Marlena Maduro Baraf grew up in a large, extended Jewish family in Catholic Panama of the 1950s and 1960s, then moved to the US in her late teens. Her new memoir, At the Narrow Waist of the World, explores how community and families of any size have incredible power to sustain young people.


Marlena recently talked with Rose City Reader about immigrating, her favorite books, and her new memoir:

Your memoir tells about your childhood among an extended Jewish family in Catholic Panama. What was it like growing up in with such a mixed cultural heritage?

I was very secure within my own community of Spanish-Portuguese Jews who had been in the country for several generations (since the mid-1800s). We were well assimilated in the culture and worked and socialized with other Panamanians. My friends were my cousins and the Catholic girls with whom I went to school, a nun’s school. There weren’t alternatives then. There were some instances where the teachings of the Catholic church did bubble up and I got stung, the teaching which was prevalent then that Jews killed Christ. Even so, living both cultural traditions from the inside, almost, was formative for me. It gave me tremendous perspective about our shared humanity and I am grateful for that.

How did you come to write At the Narrow Waist of the World?

There was an unresolved issue with my mother, from childhood. A sense of not being loved by her. Once I began writing one scene from the past, the rest poured out. It was predestined that I would write this book. Equally important, I was at a stage in my life where after 50 years of being in this country I felt a longing for my childhood home of Panama, the sensory details, feelings and memories that reside in the past. So writing this story also brought me a lot of joy.

Why did you leave Panama and make your home in the United States?

Ah. I don’t have an absolute answer to this. I’ve always been a curious person and always needing to understand. I think I wanted to be independent of my enormous (loving) family and discover things for myself. A bigger playing field, as they say. I think more immigrants than not come to this country (or any other country) for this reason. I also felt hemmed in by women’s lives then in Panama. Comfortable among the people I knew, but boring. The interesting people to me were the men.

Your book talks honestly about your mother’s mental illness. How did her illness effect you when you were growing up?

In situations like this, I think most young people find a way to shrink themselves. You lose confidence if your parent is so overwhelmed by their illness that they can’t see you. The situation also gives you an opportunity to be strong. You find a way to be. I think I felt both diminished but in the end it made me very strong and able to tolerate difficulties later in life.

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

I learned that my mother was an ordinary human and pretty wonderful in spite of the challenges in her life. As an adult and with a safety net of loving family here, I was able to see her in a new way. Writing the book put the hobgoblins to bed (safely).

As to writing—I discovered that I love to write and that I must write.

Are there other memoirs that you love or inspired you to write your own?

I love especially works by Hispanics writers in this country, like Julia Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents), Maria Arana (American Chica). Absolutely anything by the magnificent Annie Dillard who wrote many books and what is now the classic, An American Childhood. Anything by the memoirist Abigail Thomas. I love books that play with form. I read constantly.

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

I listed some above, but can add: George Saunders (Lincoln and the Bardo), W.G Sebals (Austerlitz), Nathan Englander (anything). You must read to feed the creative beast.

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

I am about to start On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, a Vietnamese American poet who just published this his first novel.

You have a terrific website and are also active on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram. From an author's perspective, how important is social media to promote your book? 

I don’t really know the answer. I do like FB and keeping in touch with people and having an audience for short bits which I enjoy writing. I think FB has helped me build an audience within a limited world. I’ve never really figured out Twitter which is too big a party. I like Instagram because I like visuals very much. I’m a designer in my other life.

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

Yes, I have a conversation with a moderator and four other authors at the Bryant Park Reading Room in NYC. Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 12:30 p.m.

There is a book launch/celebration at the Barnes & Noble Eastchester store in Westchester, NY. Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 4 p.m. All are welcome!

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

Write every day if you can.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Writing.

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

I am continuing to interview Hispanics/Latinos/Latinx on my Breathing in Spanish blog. I am considering ideas on how to expand this.


THANK YOU MARLENA!

AT THE NARROW WAIST OF THE WORLD IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT. 



Thursday, August 8, 2019

Book Beginning: Trove: A Woman's Search for Truth and Buried Treasure by Sandra A. Miller

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

MY BOOK BEGINNING



"We should probably search together," my friend David suggested, "until we have a reason not to."

-- Trove: A Woman's Search for Truth and Buried Treasure by Sandra A. Miller. This memoir starts with an armchair treasure hunt for gold coins buried in New York City, but like all good memoirs, delves much deeper.




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

I stuffed the photos back in the envelope then placed it carefully in the trunk. That’s when I saw something else tucked into the far corner and lifted out a slender book with a blue cardboard cover: All Services Polyglot Diary.




Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Author Interview: Judy Nedry


Judy Nedry's latest book is a moody mystery set in the Columbia River Gorge of the Pacific Northwest. Blackthorn is a stand alone books, a break from Nedry's Emma Golden series.



Judy recently talked with Rose City Reader about her new book and other pursuits, including an event this weekend for those in the Portland area:

You describe your new book Blackthorn as a “gothic thriller.” What do you mean?

 A lonely, damaged young woman in a great house (in this case, a derelict hotel and barely functioning spa). There is the mystery of her dead brother, sinister goings on, the question of who to trust, and an aura of general creepiness. I was inspired by classic gothics like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn and Stephen King’s The Shining, as well as many other elements from du Maurier’s legacy of wonderful mysteries including Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel.

What part does the Columbia River Gorge setting play in your story? 

I had to write a story set in the Columbia River Gorge. I’ve known that for 40 years. To me, the Gorge is a place that is beyond beautiful, as well as mystical and moody. It’s sacred ground, with Indian fishing villages covered by The Dalles Dam and others, Indian legends of the creation of Wy’east (Mt. Hood) and the other mountains surrounding it. It is such a rich location on so many levels that I find it irresistible.

Blackthorn is a break from your Emma Golden mystery series. Why the break and will we see Emma again? 

Emma will return, chastened and a little wiser, in Book #4. The break from the series occurred because I finally had enough ammunition to write Blackthorn, both in terms of research and writing skill. I have always wanted to write a gothic. This was a huge departure for me, and I feel happy with the result.

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

I was surprised at how I was able to dredge up memories from my own life—rodeos, salting the birds’ tails, building forts in the woods, stuff of the senses—and apply them in meaningful ways in the story. They came to me almost effortlessly and contributed layers to Sage’s character. I was surprised that I loved writing in third person. I’ll definitely do that again, which means there will be more stand alones. I learned that Sage’s story doesn’t need to continue. I am very satisfied with where I left her in her life. And I love writing a series because I enjoy reading them.

Did you start with the end of the mystery in mind and work backwards? Or did the ending come to you as you wrote the story? 

I begin my novels with a vague idea of an ending. I know who dunnit, and that helps me stay focused and build the story to its end. However, the specifics of endings are elusive, and they are something I have struggled with in all my books. I write up to the ending, then mess around and get myself all worked up about HOW TO FINISH THE DAMN BOOK. It takes weeks sometimes. Fortunately, during that time, there is plenty to do. I’m rewriting and further developing what I’ve already written to that point, working on design issues, and all the other stuff an indie writer has to deal with. Then, finally, resolution! The ending is always the very last thing.

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

Daphne du Maurier was one of my all-time favorites. I read everything she’s written at least twice, and reread Jamaica Inn as I was writing Blackthorn. She is with me in everything I write. Stephen King is a great storyteller. I read all his early books and short story collections and listened to It last summer. Every writer can learn just from listening to the way King builds scenes, how every detail is thought of to wring the most drama out of a situation, how the dialog works, how all his characters stay in character.

Winston Graham (Marnie, The Poldark Series) was a huge inspiration. P.D. James was a master of setting and psychology and great mysteries. Elizabeth George’s Lynley series for setting and psychology. Plus her Sgt. Barbara Havers is one of the great creations of crime fiction, and always ALWAYS is good for a long, hard laugh. Tana French—everything she’s written to date. These writers deliver literary fiction as well as fine mysteries. I loved Sue Grafton and like to think of Emma Golden as an older version of Kinsey Milhone. New-to-me mystery writers like Jane Harper, Candice Fox, and Attica Locke have been exciting discoveries.

What are you reading now? 

Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley, another of my favorite mystery writers.

You are also doing Oregon theater reviews. Tell us about that project.

I started writing play reviews to stay sane. I wrote some for my blog, then pitched them to local theatres. It’s a love affair that began in my freshman year in college when I volunteered at the Whitman College drama department. I love being around people who are a bit edgy, so these folks feel like my tribe. Courage, talent, quirkiness, creativity, and CRAZY HARD WORK—and then, showtime. It’s magic. For me, it’s a break from fiction, a discipline, and fun.

You have a terrific website and are active on social media, like twitter and facebook. From an author's perspective, how important are social networking sites and other internet resources to promote your book?

They are all very important. An author must have a website. The one I have now allows access to my blogs, excerpts from all the novels, and a resource for purchasing signed copies of all my books, plus play reviews, and upcoming events. Facebook and twitter are fun, interactive, and a fantastic way to get the word out on short notice. A few years ago these tools didn’t exist!

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

I will be at the Oregon City Festival of the Arts on August 10 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. with all of my books. I’m part of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and will be manning their booth. It’s a great place for people to meet and visit with writers in a number of genres, so come on out. Also, on Tuesday, October 15, I will give a book talk at the Lake Oswego Public Library at 7 p.m. More to come: check my website.

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

I just finished five days of research in Central Oregon for a new mystery. Haven’t decided if it will be Emma #5 or a stand alone. Emma #4 is alive and well in my brain, but no words to paper yet. The ideas are marinating. It’s been a pretty intense six months due to a number of things—not the least of which launching and marketing a new book—so the plan is to regroup during the Dog Days of August and then hit the ground running in September.

THANKS JUDY!

BLACKTHORN IS AVAILABLE ONLINE OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT!


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Artificial Intelligence: Rise of the Lightspeed Learners by Charles Jennings



Personally, I'm less concerned in the short term about doing battle with self-controlled AIs then I am about defending against bad guys who have powerful AIs at their command, particularly Machiavellian dictators of rogue nations. Long before we have sentient, malevolent androids at the gates, dictators will be weaponizing AI for war.

Artificial Intelligence: Rise of the Lightspeed Learners by Charles Jennings. AIs are self-learning machines with artificial intelligence. This new book about is a quick and easy primer on AI and its key issues.


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

Monday, August 5, 2019

Mailbox Monday: Shrug by Lisa Braver Moss

I'm excited to have a sneak peek at a new novel scheduled to drop August 13.



Shrug by Lisa Braver Moss. Set during the social upheaval of 1960s Berkeley, Shrug is the story of a teenage girl's quiet rebellion against her abusive father.

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.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Author Interview: Charles Jennings


Entrepreneur and author Charles Jennings wants to help non-techies understand artificial intelligence (AI). His new book, Artificial Intelligence: Rise of the Lightspeed Learners is a short and fascinating introduction to how AI affects our lives today and what's in store for the future.


Charles recently talked with Rose City Reader about AI, his new book, and strategies for controlling this brave new technology.

Can you explain for those not in the field what Artificial Intelligence is and what you mean by “Lightspeed Learners”?

Artificial Intelligence, now generally known as AI, is self-learning software. Which means, basically, it has a mind of its own. (The term “artificial intelligence” emerged at a 1956 conference and stuck, but the more you discover about it, the more you realize there is nothing artificial about this intelligence.)

According to Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Sam Harris, Internet inventor Vint Cerf and many other contemporary high-tech thinkers, AI is the most important technology in human history. Think of AIs as a new intelligent species that has just popped up in our ecosystem. Like dolphins or orangutans, only smarter.

I coined the term Lightspeed Learners to highlight what is both most unique and most important about AIs: they leverage our massively connected global infrastructure to learn very, very quickly. Today, this learning occurs inside narrow swim lanes; tomorrow, who knows?

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

I’ve been both an entrepreneur and a writer all my life. In 1992, I started my first tech company, which in 1999 had a welcome IPO; in 2014, I started my (probably) last company, an AI startup partnered with Caltech/JPL. What I learned, 2014–17 as a CEO in the AI industry, made me want to sound alarm bells. Hence this book.

Why did you write Artificial Intelligence: Rise of the Lightspeed Learners?

First, speaking as a writer, AI is a great story. So it’s fun to write about. Second, I’m convinced that the more Americans know and understand about AI, the better. So I gave myself the challenge of explaining AI through stories, and by examining AI’s big existential questions at the level of a good Trevor Noah Show.

Who is the audience for your book?

Book readers and audiobook listeners who like good stories, are curious in general, care about the future of humanity, and are not afraid of a few basic tech terms.

What do you think is the best thing AI will bring to our future?

A deeper appreciation of what it means to be human.

What is the biggest risk AI poses for our future?

Short term, AI war. We need an International Atomic Energy Commission type treaty between U.S. and China on AI yesterday, controlling the use of AI by warfighters. Longer term—say by 2030—AIs will literally be beyond human control. The threat won’t be Skynet. It’ll be the electric grid with an AI brain who, in a crisis, takes matters into its own hands. We’ll need sophisticated international AI control strategies by 2030—which means we need to start working now!

Can you recommend additional books or resources for people who want to learn more about AI?

We’re in the midst now of a massive AI information tsunami. If you read nothing else on AI in the next year, read the first 60 pages of MIT professor Max Tegmark’s book, Life 3.0. To learn more about AI science and technology, there is no better source than any Andrew Ng video on YouTube (Stanford professor and founder of Google Brain). And Elon Musk on AI is always worth a listen.

What did you learn from writing your book that most surprised you?

Great question…easy answer. While researching the book, I came across a scientific paper signed by 51 legitimate AI scientific researchers, most working in big tech companies, asserting that the most common result of AI research is surprise. AIs doing the unexpected, solving problems well outside the box. I write about this paper extensively in Chapter 3 of my book.

What’s next for you?

I’m promoting my audiobook, which I think is better than the print version, frankly; and writing op eds and blog posts on the role of AI in society—with a special focus on the 2020 election.


THANKS CHARLES!

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: RISE OF THE LIGHTSPEED LEARNERS IS AVAILABLE ONLINE IN PRINT, KINDLE, OR AUDIOBOOK, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT. 







Thursday, August 1, 2019

Book Beginnings: At the Narrow Waist of the World: A Memoir by Marlena Maduro Baraf

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

MY BOOK BEGINNING



In the 1950s the country of Panama was small – about 750,000 people. We lived in the capital city and knew everyone who was white and the people surrounding our lives who were darker, un café-con-leche mix tipico de Panama.

-- At the Narrow Waist of the World: A Memoir by Marlena Maduro Baraf. Marlena grew up in a large, extended Jewish family in Catholic Panama of the 1950s and 1060s, then moved to the US in her late teens.



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
Our sinagoga Kol Shearith Isreal is a long rectangle with stucco walls and a turret in the middle. . . . There is a minyan every Friday night, the required ten men for public worship.


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