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.

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