Thursday, October 22, 2020

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

I almost forgot to post this evening because I have lost all sense of what day of the week it is. Do you ever get so absorbed with work that you lose all sense of time? 

Well that's me these days. I've been working seven days a week to get all these Boy Scout sex abuse claims filed before the November 16 bankruptcy deadline. Since I work at home during coronavirus times, one day blends into the next. 

But I remembered! It's time for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Time to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week -- or the book that caught your fancy. Share a link to your post below. Please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag on social media so we can find each other. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING


In the first place, Cranford is in the possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women.

-- Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. 

Victober continue! I love the tradition of reading Victorian literature in the month of October, as I discussed last week. I finished The Old Curiosity Shop and started Cranford. I've never read a book by Gaskell and thought I'd start with this short one before I tackled something long, like North and South

I'm a little more than halfway through and I like it. It is not nearly as funny as Dickens, but enjoyable. It definitely shows signs of having been published in installments stretching over a few years. It is more like a series of disconnected short stories or sketches than a novel. 

What I like best is how much it reminds me of E.F. Benton's Mapp and Lucia books written in the 1920s and 1930s, roughly 75 years later. 

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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Sorry the linky widget didn't work right this week! Click the "click here" link in the box above to leave your link. I'll fiddle with it next week so it works right. 



THE FRIDAY 56

Freda at Freda's Voice hosts another teaser event on Fridays. Participants share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of the book they are reading -- or from 56% of the way through the audiobook or ebook. Please visit Freda's Voice for details and to leave a link to your post.

MY FRIDAY 56

I wonder what the Cranford ladies did with Captain Brown at their parties. We had often rejoiced, in former days, that there was no gentleman to be attended to, and to find conversation for, at the card-parties.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Lori Tobias, Author of Storm Beat: A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast - AUTHOR INTERVIEW

 

Journalist Lori Tobias has covered the Oregon coast for the last 20 years, writing about small towns, fishing, tourism, crimes, good times, tragedies, and storms -- lots of storms. Her new memoir Storm Beat (2020, OSU Press) tells her own story, the story of life along Oregon's 300 miles of rugged coastline, and what's its like to be a working reporter as newspaper industry declines.


Lori talked with Rose City Reader about Storm Beat, life on the Oregon coast, and the story that didn't make it into her book:

How did you come to write your new book, Storm Beat?

Early on in this beat, I experienced odd coincidences and personal interactions that planted the idea that one day it might make for a book – especially given the setting of the Oregon coast, which I think is much loved and unlike anywhere else in this country.

What is your favorite part of being a journalist in a coastal and rural community?

The authenticity of the people and lifestyle.

What were you least prepared for when you moved to the Oregon coast?

The dark winters.

Can you tell us any stories that didn't make it into the book you wish had?

I am so glad you asked that. There are several, but one that stays with me is an armed robbery at a lounge in Florence. It was early in the morning and the staff was just getting the place ready for opening. A guy came in through the back, threatened to kill everyone, tied them up in the office and took all the money in the safe. When he left, they untied themselves, but it turned out he was still there. He tied them up again. This happened three times. He was very convincing about his intent to kill anyone who didn’t obey his commands, adding if anyone else – like a vendor – showed up, he’d kill them all. Finally, he was gone. The manager looked out front and there was the carpet cleaner. He’d arrived only moments after the robber left. I didn’t include it in the book because I tried to include only stories in which there was information that had not run in the paper.

Who do you think would enjoy your book?

People who live in the Pacific Northwest, armchair travelers, journalists, and fans of memoir.

What is your favorite review or compliment you received about your book?

So far, I’ve been blessed with some pretty amazing reviews and comments. I’ll share a few favorite lines:
  • “… Tobias tells us her story in such a way that you feel like you’re listening to a good friend. And in the end, you understand why she did it—and maybe you wonder what price she paid doing it."
  • “You are about to meet an honest to the core, compassionate and relentless reporter.’’
  • “The author is emotional, self-effacing … and vulnerable by opening up in the most intimate way. I was transfixed. I used to think of journalists as unemotional — only the story mattered. This book changed my life about how I think about them.”
  • “Lori Tobias’ eyes and ears for a good story and her crisp writing pull you into every encounter. I laughed out loud and also shed some tears …”
Did you think of turning your own experiences as a journalist into fiction and writing the book as a novel? Or maybe a series of novels?

I went back and forth on fiction vs. memoir. But in the end, I couldn’t find a good reason to fictionalize it as I had all the material necessary to write it as memoir. And in truth, fiction is much harder for me.

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

Honestly, I’ve been writing for so long, I’m not sure there are any surprises.

If you could have one person you admire (living or dead) read your book, who would it be?

Michelle Obama

Who are your favorite authors and what kind of books do you like to read? 

I love memoir, but also read a ton of fiction. Favorites: Alexandra Fuller, Ann Patchett, Richard Ford, Mary Karr, Lynn Schooler. I’m not a big non-fiction reader, but I find Laurence Gonzales’ work fascinating.

What are you reading now? 

Monogamy by Sue Miller (another favorite). Just finished The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue and am about to start Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan by Deborah Reed.

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

Persevere.

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

Well, I’m married to a power lineman (newly retired). When we were young, we did what’s called in the trade, “tramping,” — those are the linemen who follow the big construction jobs, the storms, disasters. We did that for 15 years, moving from Alaska to Pennsylvania to Connecticut, Seattle, southern Oregon (which is how we discovered the Coast) to Denver and at last, to the Coast. It’s called A Tramp Book, and while it’s about linework, it’s also about becoming who I am. A journey, both physically and emotionally.


THANK YOU, LORI!

STORM BEAT IS AVAILABLE ONLINE IN PAPERBACK OR KINDLE.


Monday, October 19, 2020

A Batch of New Books for MAILBOX MONDAY

 

Mailbox Monday logo

Another week, another stack of books that found their way to my house. How about you? What new books came your way?

book cover for A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream by Yuval Levin

A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream by Yuval Levin. 

I saw Levin speak at a webinar a few weeks back and was impressed with his ideas. I want to read his new book, which has nice blurbs from both sides of the aisle.

book cover for Dudes Rush In by Lynne Downey

Dudes Rush In by Lynne Downey. This debut novel takes us back to 1952 Arizona, the heyday of Dude Ranches, when war widow Phoebe McFarland leaves her settled life in San Francisco to spend six months on her in-laws' ranch.

book cover for She Said God Blessed Us: A Life Marked by Childhood Sexual Abuse in the Church by Gail Hovey

She Said God Blessed Us: A Life Marked by Childhood Sexual Abuse in the Church by Gail Hovey. This memoir discusses the often overlooked issue of sexual abuse of girls by women. 

I'm interested to read Hovey's story. I've worked with hundreds of abuse survivors and only three or four of my clients have been women molested when they were girls by adult women. It's not that the abuse doesn't happen, but I think there are a lot of reasons teen girls do not recognize the relationship is abusive or exploitive. When they do, they are more likely to get counseling than call a lawyer like me. So this is an area of child abuse I don't have much experience with and want to learn more. 

book cover for Beloved Prophet 2020: The Abridged Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell, and Her Private Journals

Beloved Prophet 2020: The Abridged Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell, and Her Private Journals, edited and arranged by Virginia Hilu and Dalton Hilu Einhorn.

This is a new edition of Beloved Prophet, the correspondence between Kahil Gibran and his closest female friend and one-time fiancé, Mary Haskell. This edition has been pared down about 40% to make it more accessible to a general audience, editing out the parts of interest to academics.

Education for Liberation: The Politics of Promise and Reform Inside and Beyond America’s Prisons, edited by Gerard Robinson and Elizabeth English Smith

Education for Liberation: The Politics of Promise and Reform Inside and Beyond America’s Prisons, edited by Gerard Robinson and Elizabeth English Smith

Yes, this one is pretty wonky. I'm developing an amateur's interest in prison reform and want to learn more about the ideas floating around out there. 




MAILBOX MONDAY 

Join other book lovers on Mailbox Monday to share the books that came into your house last week. 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 hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Karen Wolff, Author of The Green Years -- AUTHOR INTERVIEW

 


The Green Years by Karen Wolff is the story of Harry Spencer, a boy growing up in South Dakota in the 1920s, who has to find his own path after his father returned from WWI a broken man. Wolff Wolff turned to fiction writing after a career in academia. Her family history inspired The Green Years.


Karen talked with Rose City Reader about her book, inspiration, and the surprising history of the KKK in the Midwest:  

You dedicate The Green Years to the memory of your father. Is any of the story based on your own family history?

My father was the inspiration. He entertained us with stories of his childhood -- how he learned to swim when he was thrown into Brule Creek, how he and his friends put a buggy on a church steeple at Halloween. I treasured his sense of humor, but I wanted my book to be more than a series of anecdotes. I wanted to create a protagonist who was imbued with that same love of fun as my dad, but one who was also invested with with big dreams and ambitions.

I came to love Harry as if he were my own son. One of my challenges was to make him a real boy, capable of devilment and selfishness, when my maternal instincts wanted him to be a paragon of behavior.

The story takes place in in South Dakota in the 1920s. What drew you to this setting for your novel?

I chose it because that is where my father grew up. It is a part of the country I know well and love.

What is your professional background? How did it lead you to writing books?

I began writing fiction after a career as a music educator and administrator, most recently as dean of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan. I have always loved to write and won a national poetry contest while still in high school. Several of my non-fiction articles and speeches have appeared in journals and trade magazines. As a musician, I was appointed by President George Bush to the National Council of the NEA for six years.

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

The research for the book led me in so many new directions: I knew nothing of the WWI museum in Kansas City or how electrical lines were installed. I met a Model T owner at a Greenfield Village Model T festival who showed me how to drive that car.

One of the strangest anomalies to occur in South Dakota in the 20’s was the arrival of the Ku Klux Klan. This organization whose primary mission of white supremacy took root in a state that was, except for Native Americans, nearly 100 percent white. There it directed its animus toward Catholics and the foreign born, especially Jews who were few in number. It also sided with Prohibition on the “dry” side. In my story the fact that Granddad Didier was French born and a “wet” made him an easy target for the Klan. This was delicious material for a novelist and allowed me to show the tensions among the Klan, the “wets” and the “drys” and their effect on a growing boy.

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 had a general idea that I wanted a father/son reconciliation but didn’t know the details until I was writing it.

What sort of reader do you think would enjoy your book the most?

Readers of all ages who seek relief from our currently disordered world by reading about characters who reflect old-fashioned values and themes. I have been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of seniors who read my book. It recalls for them the time of their parents or grandparents.

Who are your three favorite authors right now?

Geraldine Brooks comes to mind. Hilary Mantel and James McBride as well.

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


I read many novels, oftentimes on audio where the narrator can really make the book come alive. I recently listened to The Overstory by Richard Powers and The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Currently I’m reading Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson who is a stunning, amazing writer.

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

As Miles Davis once said, what isn't played is what's really at the heart of great music. The silence is as important as the sounds. A writer’s task is one of withholding and revealing, deciding what to say and what to leave out. When to show, and when to tell, and when to simply trust the reader to discover what is there in the silences between the words.

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

My next book is titled The Deviant and will be out next year. Serendipitously, it is set in the same place in South Dakota as The Green Years. It is a true crime story about two girls who disappeared on their way to a graduation party. Currently, I am working on a collection of short stories set at a fictional university.


THANK YOU, KAREN!

THE GREEN YEARS IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AND THERE IS A KINDLE EDITION.




Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Old Curiosity Shop on BOOK BEGINNINGS for Victober

 


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Time to get cozy with a Victorian novel! I’ve been looking forward to Victober since last October! Who else? 

Until I got into bookstagram more, I didn't know Victober was a thing, but it makes so much sense. The idea is to read books in October written during the Victorian Period (Queen Victoria reigned from June 1837 to January 1901). Chilly, windy, rainy, spooky October is the perfect time to switch from summery beach reads to hefty, moody melodramas. And nobody did hefty, moody melodramas better than the Victorians! 

If you need inspiration, the Daily Telegraph's 1899 List of “100 Best Novels in the World” (that’s right, from 1899) has plenty. The list is not limited to the Victorian era, or even to the 19th Century. But you will find lots of Victorian books on it. 

Are you participating in Victober this year? What are you reading? I’m reading The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. If I finish, I hope also to read Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Please share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading or featuring this week. Add a link to your post below. If you share on social media, please use the #bookbeginnigns hashtag so we can find each other. 

If you don't have a blog, feel free to play along by leaving a comment with the opening sentence from you book, along with the title and author. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

Night is generally my time for walking.

That's a pretty short opening sentence for a book that's over 600 pages long! 

The Old Curiosity Shop is one of the 50 classic books I picked for my Classic Club list. Anyone can join the Classics Club and pick 50 classic books to read over the next five years.


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

Freda at Freda's Voice hosts another teaser event on Fridays. Participants share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of the book they are reading -- or from 56% of the way through the audiobook or ebook. Please visit Freda's Voice for details and to leave a link to your post.

MY FRIDAY 56
Near the door sat Miss Sophy, still fluttered and confused by the attentions of Mr. Cheggs, and by her side Richard Swiveller lingered for a moment to exchange a few parting words.
"My boat is on the shore and my bark is on the sea, but before I pass this door I will say farewell to thee," murmured Dick, looking gloomily up on her.

That's more Dickensonian! I'm halfway through and find the main story of Little Nell and her grandfather tedious. But the side characters like Dick Swiveller, whether villains or angels, make it worthwhile.




Monday, October 12, 2020

So Many New Books for Mailbox Monday!

 


It's raining in Portland and it's raining books here at my house! I'm not complaining. Rainy days and good books go hand in hand.

What new books came into your house lately? 

 book cover of Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur Brooks


Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur Brooks

I've been listening to The Art of Happiness, Arthur Brooks's podcast that started in March. It's terrific. That's what made me want to read his latest book. 

book cover of The Virginia Dynasty: Four Presidents and the Creation of the American Nation by Lynne Cheney

The Virginia Dynasty: Four Presidents and the Creation of the American Nation by Lynne Cheney. 

I got this one for Hubby because it's right up his alley, but I might read it myself. We watched a documentary on John Marshall, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and it put me in the mood to learn more about the Founding Fathers.

book cover of Rough House by Tina Ontiveros, new from OSU Press

Rough House by Tina Ontiveros, new from OSU Press. This memoir about growing up in the logging camps of the Pacific Northwest looks like it might be a tough read but moving. 


A Reason to Be by Norman McCombs. This one came from the LibraryThing early reviewer program. It's a novel about a widow who takes up genealogy and traces his Scottish lineage back through several remarkable generations. 

book cover of Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle. This is another one from LibraryThing. It's sounds like a story about a long marriage and family secrets, sort of like an Anne Tyler book.


I haven't been posting a lot because work has been busy. November 16 is the deadline to file a claim for sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy case. My law partner and I are busy filing claims for our clients here in Oregon and across the country.

We are honored to work with these guys. Most of them are coming forward for the first time, now in their 50s and 60s, because they know this is their only chance to get their story off their chest and be heard.

So until mid-November, blogging will be hit or miss. I'll hope to be back to speed by Thanksgiving.


MAILBOX MONDAY 

Join other book lovers on Mailbox Monday to share the books that came into your house last week. 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 hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf





Thursday, October 8, 2020

A Small Crowd of Strangers by Joanna Rose - BOOK BEGINNINGS

 


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Welcome back for another week of sharing the opening sentences (or so) from the books that have captured our attention. Please put a link to your post below. If you do not have a blog and want to play along, leave a comment with the first lines from the book, along with the title and author. 

If you post on social media, please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings so we can find each other.

MY BOOK BEGINNING


It was things like reading all of John Updike, and all of Elmore Leonard, and doing the crossword in the middle of the afternoon when she didn't have to work, with the all-classical station pouring out the windows of her apartment over the dry cleaner's.

-- A Small Crowd of Strangers by Joanna Rose, new from Forest Avenue Press.  I like John Updike. I like Elmore Leonard. I like crossword puzzles. And I like this kind of long, descriptive opening sentences. I think I am going to like this book.

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION

How does a librarian from New Jersey end up in a convenience store on Vancouver Island in the middle of the night, playing Bible Scrabble with a Korean physicist and a drunk priest? She gets married to the wrong man for starters--she didn't know he was 'that kind of Catholic'--and ends up in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She gets a job in a New Age bookstore, wanders toward Buddhism without realizing it, and acquires a dog. Things get complicated after that. Pattianne Anthony is less a thinker than a dreamer, and she finds out the hard way that she doesn't want a husband, much less a baby, and that getting out of a marriage is a lot harder than getting into it, especially when the landscape of the west becomes the voice of reason. Joanna Rose's second novel, is part love story, part slightly sideways spiritual journey. 

I admit I'm a little put off by the "that kind of Catholic" comment. I'm not Catholic, but the sentence "didn't know you were that kind of _____" doesn't typically express a kind thought. But the description is not the book, so I'll read it with an open mind. 

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING

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THE FRIDAY 56

Join Freda and friends at Freda's Voice to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your book. If you are reading with your ears or on a device, share a teaser from 56% of the way through your audiobook or ebook. 

MY FRIDAY 56

He'd known this priest as long as he could remember. Father McGivens had helped him talk to his parents about his decision to be a teacher instead of going to law school.





Saturday, October 3, 2020

Make Russia Great Again by Christopher Buckley - BOOK REVIEW

 


Make Russia Great Again by Christopher Buckley (2020, Simon & Schuster)

Christopher Buckley took a break from writing satire to write two historic comic novels, The Relic Master and The Judge Hunter. At the time, he said American politics had become “sufficiently self-satirizing” and did not need his help. The Trump Presidency tempted him back and his latest book, Make Russia Great Again, brings us back to Buckley's favorite formats, the faux White House memoir.

MRGA is the "memoir" of Herb Nutterman, former White House chief of staff for Donald Trump, now convicted felon serving his term in a federal penitentiary. He got the chief of staff job after working in Trump hotels for 27 years, most recently as the general manager of the Trump Bloody Run Golf Club in Little Hot Pepper, Virginia.

And with that set up, the story is off and running, as only a Christopher Buckley novel can do. There are plenty of funny names for people doing normal jobs in exaggeratedly funny ways: Senator Squigg Lee Biskitt of South Carolina, chief of communications Greta Fibberson, news pundit Chip Holleran, etc. The play on words continues throughout. The jokes hit today's hot buttons: Civil War statues, cable news talking heads, political nominations, Russian elections, and more.

It takes a while to get to the core of the plot, which is a Russian plan to blackmail Trump and alter the outcome of the U.S. 2020 election. As in any good farce, the plan is convoluted and the goal keeps changing, all to maximum comic effect. Nutterman running interference with a Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin to fend off an election disaster is funny. The book is spot-on parody, slapstick, silly, and funny.

But what is really clever is the satire at the heart of the plot. Satire has to be audacious to work and the satire here really zings. It involves a Pentagon plan called Placid Reflux to use artificial intelligence to combat Russian interference with US elections. The plan goes too far and gets a member of the Communist party elected to lead Russia (thereby triggering the rest of the story).  

Those who dislike Trump will like MRGA more than Trump supporters, although I don't think there's enough red meat in it for those who really can't stand him. It is definitely funny and readers who enjoy Veep will most likely enjoy it, whatever their political leanings.


NOTES



Thursday, October 1, 2020

Storm Beat by Lori Tobias and Never Leaving Laramie by John Haines - BOOK BEGINNINGS

 


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Do you get in a nonfiction mood in the fall? I do! It must be a vestige of some back-to-school impulse. I feel like learning new things and stretching my brain. 

Fortunately for me, several new nonfiction books have come my way recently and they look terrific. They aren't novels, but they will introduce me to worlds much unlike my own. I have two to share on Book Beginnings. 

Please join in to share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week or the book you want to highlight. Share the link to your blog post below. If you don't have a blog but want to play along, please do! Share the opening sentence in a comment, along with the title and author of the book. 

If you share on social media, please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings.

MY BOOK BEGINNINGS

cover of  Storm Beat: A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast by Lori Tobias

I had been writing for the Oregonian for about three months when the entire volunteer fire department walked off the job in Wheeler, a little town set on the hillside above Nehalem Bay on the north coast.

-- Storm Beat: A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast by Lori Tobias. This new book from OSU Press is a collection of stories, part memoir, part journalism, from a woman who has written the news from Oregon's 300-mile coast for the last 20 years. 

Storm Beat is brimming over with stories of small town life, crime, loss, bad weather, heroes, love, gossip -- everything that makes living off the beaten track wonderful and horrible. It doesn't matter if you know nothing about Oregon, it's a terrific read. 

cover of Never Leaving Laramie: Travels in a Restless World by John W. Haines


I didn't know what independence meant, but I had it in Laramie as a boy.

-- Never Leaving Laramie: Travels in a Restless World by John W. Haines.  Haines was a first-rate traveler from a young age. Some of his adventures included biking through Tibet, kayaking the Niger River, and riding the Trans-Siberian Express from Bejing to East Berlin. In 1999, he he broke his neck when he fell from a train in the Czech Republic, leaving him partially paralyzed and radically changing his life. 

Haines's new memoir is about his pre-accident travels, with all their excitement. It is also book about the philosophy of travel as Haines writes about how his childhood in Laramie, Wyoming created his worldview and what he learned from his adventures. He ends with a chapter on his life since his accident and the different ways people can travel through the world.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

Freda at Freda's Voice hosts another teaser event on Fridays. Play along by sharing a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading -- or from 56% of the way through the audiobook or ebook. Please visit Freda's Voice for details and to leave a link to your post.

MY FRIDAY 56S

From Storm Beat:

It was the first time I listened to a scanner during a storm, and hearing Chan and his fellow lineman at work as power lines fell igniting brush fires, and the winds gusted, taking down trees and blowing cars off the road, utterly unnerved me. The house shook and creaked in the wind; rain cracked against the windows.

From Never Leaving Laramie:

The likely prospect of having our travel intentions scrutinized and our mountain bikes confiscated weighed on us. We were taking our chances and we knew it: six Americans without permission to bicycle in Tibet, but carrying new mountain bikes donated by an American company that manufactured them in Taiwan, a detail we had belatedly realized needed to be scraped off our bike boxes before Chinese security inspections at the airport.


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Burn Down This World by Tina Egnoski - BOOK REVIEW

book cover of Burn Down This World by Tina Egnoski

Tina Egnoski's new novel, Burn Down This World, centers on Celeste and Reid Leahy, a brother and sister who come of age in a military family in the South in the late 1960s, at the height unrest about the Vietnam War. Both are active in antiwar demonstrations at the University of Florida in the early 1970s until violence at the protests tears the siblings apart. Reid leaves Florida, not to return until the two reunite in 1998 during the devastating Florida wildfires.

The novel goes back and forth between the story of the campus protests in the 1970s and 1998 when Celeste and Reid reunite during the wildfires. Egnoski handles this braided narrative well. She weaves just enough information into each storyline to keep the reader engaged without revealing too soon the twists and turns of the plot.

The essence of the story is the family drama between Celeste and Reid. The exciting settings of protest and wildfire make that family story all the more compelling. Egnoski also uses the music of the 1960s and 1970s to set the scene and sometimes as a catalyst for the story. For example, Celeste's love of The Doors brings her closer to her brother at an otherwise contentious time in their lives. Both the college protest and the wildfire storylines have action and emotional impact.

All in all, Burn Down This World is an absorbing story, well told.


NOTES

I'd recommend Burn Down This World for readers interested stories about the 1970s or Vietnam War protests, brother/sister stories, or family dramas. Also, readers looking for novels about Florida other than murder mysteries would like it. It would make a great Book Club pick because there is a lot in it to discuss.

Burn Down This World is available in paperback or kindle.

Author Tina Egnoski writes poetry and fiction. She is a native of Florida and now lives in Rhode Island where she works in the Liberal Arts Division at the Rhode Island School of Design. Burn Down This World is her first novel.

Read my review of Tin Egnoski on Rose City Reader here

headshot of author Tina Egnoski




Thursday, September 24, 2020

Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan by Deborah Reed -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan is the captivating title of Deborah Reed's new novel. Violet Swan is a famous abstract artist living on the Oregon coast. When an earthquake hits her oceanside community, family members come to town to help and 93-year-old Violet may have to face secrets she though she had buried. Looks like a winner!

Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan launches on October 6 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. You can pre-order from many online sources through Deborah Reed's website.

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

This is my pick for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the first sentence or so of the book you are reading (or featuring) this week. If you have a blog post, please link it below. If you don't have a blog, please leave your book beginning in a comment below, along with the name of the book and the author's name.

If you share on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

From Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan:

Shortly after dawn, Le cygne drifted from the Telefunken radio, and Violet's eyes grew moist at the rise and fall of the cello.

That sets a scene. I'm ready to read more. 

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56 


Another weekly teaser event is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice, where you can find details and add a link to your post. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of the book you are featuring. You can also find a teaser from 56% of the way through your ebook or audiobook.

MY FRIDAY 56

It couldn't be over 50 degrees out there, and the soft drizzle would make it feel even colder. But it was the red tip of her son's cigarette moving in the dark that Violet found most strange, the faint fog rising above his head.
Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan is a perfect book for these crisp days of early fall. I can't wait to spend the weekend with it. 



Monday, September 21, 2020

Exploring Wine Regions – Bordeaux France and Argentina on MAILBOX MONDAY

 

This week for Mailbox Monday, I have a couple of armchair travel books, courtesy of Exploring Wine Regions.

I was more than happy to look over these review copies of Exploring Wine Regions – Bordeaux France, which comes out on October 1, and the earlier book on Argentina. Both promise insider accounts of wineries and vineyards in the regions they cover as well as travel guides to the food, special lodging, sights, and history.

The Argentina and Bordeaux books are the first two in what promises to be a long series. A California book will come next. 

The photographs are gorgeous and both books are chock-o-block with information. I look forward to spending time with them before I post a review. I can already see they are beautiful coffee table books and would be perfect for planning a wine tasting vacation. 

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:

Our series of coffee table quality books are filled with spectacular photography, wine knowledge and travel tips. It’s all about wine. Everything wine. And what that lifestyle is about. The foods. The travels. The people. The experiences.

As we travel to the different wine regions, we immerse ourselves, deeply educate ourselves to better able to share our knowledge and personal experiences with you in the most concise way. Where to go…the wineries, restaurants, accommodations, events, and experiences. And a little history of each region to better understand the wines. Through us, meet the winemakers, chefs, sommeliers, hoteliers, restauranteurs, even the proprietors… the people who are at the forefront of the winemaking and the wine tourism industry.


MAILBOX MONDAY 

Join other book lovers on Mailbox Monday to share the books that came into your house last week. 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 hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf



Saturday, September 19, 2020

Create Beautiful Food at Home by Adrian Martin - BOOK REVIEW

book cover of Create Beautiful Food at Home by Adrian Martin

Adrian Martin is a young, popular Irish chef. His new cookbook, Create Beautiful Food at Home, takes reasonably easy to make at home recipes and makes them look very, very fancy. His breezy explanations and the lovely photographs have me convinced it is possible to make food at home that looks like it comes from a swanky restaurant.

Which is not to say I'm convinced I want to. I'm more of a bistro food home cook than a haute cuisine home chef. So I'm probably not the target audience for Martin's new book. But for home chefs looking to learn something different or polish up restaurant-worthy skills, this is a terrific, must-have book.

You will get an idea of whether this is the book for you from a partial list of Martin's suggested "Necessities for the Kitchen," which will "make your life much easier if you are making the recipes in this book":

  •  Squeezy bottles (for purées, dressings, etc.)
  • Tweezers (for picking herbs and micro salads, and for plating up)
  • Blowtorch
  • Mandoline
  • Fish slice
  • Different-sized melon ballers
  • Oyster knife
  • Ice-cream churner

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against ice cream. I am even willing to make ice cream. I own a mandoline. And I own a single melon baller in one size. But I do not know what a fish slice is. And I cannot imagine using tweezers to plate individual herbs or "micro salad" or a squeezy bottle to decorate a dish with puree. That's just not me.

But I know people who would LOVE this kind of thing, love it down to their toes. I can think of five or six friends who would be tickled to get this for Christmas. And if you are like them, you too will love this book.

Create Beautiful Food at Home by Adrian Martin, picture of Chocolate and Hazelnut Tarts and second part of recipe

Create Beautiful Food at Home by Adrian Martin, Chocolate and Hazelnut Tarts, first part of recipe

The recipes are all beautifully presented – that's the point. They range from simple, like a fresh pea risotto with asparagus and basil purée, to elaborate, like individual chocolate and hazelnut tarts with chocolate tuiles and chocolate hazelnut ice cream (above). Some use the simplest of ingredients, a few rely on extravagant ingredients like fresh oysters, lobster, or foie gras. None are overly difficult, but they require attention to detail and a focus on timing and presentation.

If you have always wanted to make food as pretty as on cooking shows or in posh restaurants, Create Beautiful Food at Home is the perfect book for you. Please invite me over for dinner!

NOTES

Create Beautiful Food at Home would make a perfect gift for the home chef who likes to replicate fancy restaurant meals -- the kind of home chef who already has a mini blowtorch for making the burnt sugar top on creme brulee. 

I'm happy to have a copy of Adrian Martin's book in my Cookbook Library and plan to challenge myself to make some of the simpler recipes for my next dinner party. When we can next have dinner parties. 


WEEKEND COOKING


Weekend Cooking is a weekly blog event hosted by Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid ReaderBeth Fish Reads started the event in 2009 and bloggers have been sharing book and food related posts ever since.



Thursday, September 17, 2020

Mordecai's Ashes (Larsson Investigations Book 1) by Arlana Crane - BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Another week, another Book Beginnings on Fridays! 

And here in Oregon, it looks like another disaster on the horizon as we brace for flash floods when the rain starts tonight. We've jumped from pandemic to riots to forest fires to flooding in a matter of weeks. Maybe locusts will come next!

I learned a new term recently -- doom scrolling. It's when you scroll through grim headlines on your phone. I confess I've been guilty of it lately and I need to stop. I plan to spend the weekend doing nothing but happy things. Starting with Book Beginnings!

Please share the first sentence (or so) of the book you want to highlight this week. Leave a link to your post below. If you share on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

My Book Beginning is from a new book in a mystery series set on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Mordecai's Ashes is the first book in Arlana Crane's new Larsson Investigations series.

It starts:

Karl's phone was buzzing somewhere in the bed, shaking him out of a deep sleep.

I suppose the story could go anywhere from there. And it sounds like it will go somewhere exciting.

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:

Karl Larsson is an out of work roughneck, home from the oil fields of Alberta and back on the west coast for the first time in years. His wife has left him and his future looks bleak. Becoming a detective is the last thing on his mind, but when Karl learns that he has inherited his estranged grandfather’s agency he decides to take a chance. 

 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

Freda at Freda's Voice hosts another teaser event on Fridays. Participants share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of the book they are reading -- or from 56% of the way through the audiobook or ebook. Please visit Freda's Voice for details and to leave a link to your post.

MY FRIDAY 56

They sat in the driveway across the road and a block away from Ogelvie's place, the truck partially screened by large azalea bushes only starting to bud but already leafy enough that no one was likely to spot the two of them sitting inside. They had watched the owner of the house drive away before selecting this driveway to park in, and Karl counted on being able to stay in the spot most of the day without disturbance.




Monday, September 14, 2020

New Fall Books from Indie Authors & Publishers on Mailbox Monday

 

Fall is the season for new books, pandemic or no pandemic. Book launches may be on Zoom and getting a signed copy might be tricky. But new books are coming!

A batch of new indie books came my way over the last few days.

What looks good?

Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan by Deborah Reed, will launch October 6 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Violet Swan is a famous abstract artist living on the Oregon coast. When, at age 93, an earthquake hits her oceanside community, it also shakes up family secrets and her hidden past. Sounds like Reed has a winner on her hands! 

Storm Beat: A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast by Lori Tobias, a new memoir out today from OSU Press. Tobias has worked as a newspaper reporter on the Oregon Coast for the last 20 years. Her memoir talks about journalism in the 21st Century as well as living on a rural coast and caring for distant older parents.

Never Leaving Laramie: Travels in a Restless World by John W. Heines, a new travel memoir, also out now from OSU Press. 

Mordecai’s Ashes: Larsson Investigations Book 1 by Arlana Crane, a new mystery set on Vancouver Island, BC. Karl Larsson lost his job in the oil fields and lost his wife, but he just inherited a detective agency. Looks like Nordic Noir, Canadian version! 

A Small Crowd of Strangers by Joanna Rose, new this month from the award winning Forest Avenue Press. This quirky new novel is also set on Vancouver Island. I think I have a new Storyline Serendipity post in the making. 

River Queens: Saucy Boat, Stout Mates, Spotted Dog, America by Alexander Watson. This one came out in 2018 but I just got my copy. It’s a fun memoir about two guys who refurbish a wooden yacht and take it from Oklahoma to Cincinnati.

If the light in this picture looks weird it’s because the light in Oregon is weird right now. The forest fires up and down the state, so close to Portland, have given us the worse air quality in the world, we are told. It’s comforting to carry on with normal activities, like enjoying these new books and congratulating the authors and indie publishers on launching in this crazy year.

The pretty fall flowers hair flowers are “handcrafted petal by petal” by Camellias and Curls, entrepreneurs in Round Rock, Texas. I saw the flowers on a friend’s Instagram story and wanted some for my own. I'll look so glamorous in my next Zoom meeting!

MAILBOX MONDAY 

Join other book lovers on Mailbox Monday to share the books that came into your house last week. 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 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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