Thursday, June 23, 2022

Notes from the Larder: A Kitchen Diary with Recipes by Nigel Slater -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Man! I have been off my blogging game for a while now! Do you go through blogger slumps? I just realized that my only blog posts for over a month have been Book Beginning posts. I love Book Beginnings! But There's more to Rose City Reader than this one post every week. Or, there should be! 

Oh well. Summer. Work. Life. Things happen. I'll get my blogging mojo back one of these days. What do you do to get back in the blogging groove when you fall out of it?

In the meantime, it is time again for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Let's share the first sentences (or so) of the books we are reading this week. Or just books we feel like highlighting. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

The mistletoe — magical, pagan, sacred to Norsemen and the Druids — is still hanging over the low doorway to the kitchen.

-- from the first chapter, January 1, "A humble loaf and a soup of roots," in Notes from the Larder: A Kitchen Diary with Recipes by Nigel Slater. 

I've seen Nigel Slater's name pop up as a favorite food writer on British blogs and Instagram accounts. But I hadn't seen any of his books (other than his memoir Toast) at local shops until last week when I was poking around Vivienne, a darling cookbook store near my office. They had a copy of Notes from the Larder, described as the companion to his three volume Kitchen Diaries series. It's my now-favorite kind of cookbook, a combination of essays or memoir and recipes. It looks absolutely wonderful! I am excited to add it to my cookbook library


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please leave a link to your Book Beginning post in the Linky box below. Please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings if you share on social media and I will try to find you. Make it easier for me by tagging me on twitter @giliondumas, Instagram @gilioncdumas (new account), or Facebook at Rose City Reader and I can share your posts. 

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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

From Notes from the Larder:
I have always loved the color gray. Peaceful, elegant, understated; The color of stone, steel, and soft, nurturing rain.




Thursday, June 16, 2022

Muse: Uncovering the Hidden Figures Behind Art History's Masterpieces by Ruth Millington -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

I just got back from a trip to see all five grandkids and found a copy of this Muse book waiting for me. How exciting! I need a little quiet time with a book after the rug rats, adorable as they may be. 

I won this copy of Muse in a giveaway from Pegasus Books -- the first book giveaway I've ever won. Have you ever won a book giveaway? Do you enter them? I enter anytime I see a book I like, like this one. But my lucky number has ever come up before. 

So I am excited to share it right away on Book Beginnings. Please share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are excited about this week. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) is one of the most famous paintings in the world, and also one of the most mysterious. 

-- from the Introduction to Muse: Uncovering the Hidden Figures Behind Art History's Masterpieces by Ruth Millington (2022 Pegasus Books). 

Ruth Millington is an art historian and author. In Muse, she explores the stories of the people depicted in 30 famous portraits and the relationships they had with the artists who painted them.


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please add a link to your Book Beginning post in the Linky box below. If you share on social media, please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings. 

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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

From Muse:
In seventeenth-century Europe, female artists were deprived of formal education, denied access to art academies and even their movement was restricted. Gentileschi fought against such adversity, learning to read and write in her twenties, before becoming the first woman to be granted membership of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence in 1616.
Millington challenges the idea that muses are young women depicted in paintings by old male artists. The muses in her book are women and men, young and old, and all play a more active role in inspiring and influencing the art they are a part of.


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Anglo-Saxon Attitudes by Angus Wilson -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

What are your book plans for this weekend? My weekend is filled with grandkids, so I don't think I'll get much reading in. But I hope to snatch a few pages here and there. 

Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading -- or just a book that caught your fancy -- here on Book Beginnings on Fridays. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

Gerald Middleton was a man of mildly but persistently depressive temperament. Such men are not at their best at breakfast, nor is the week before Christmas their happiest time.
-- Anglo-Saxon Attitudes by Angus Wilson, a darkly comic satire of academia and society.  

This mid-century British novel has been on my TBR shelf for a long time. It is one of the books I picked for my TBR 22 in '22 Challenge list. Maybe I should save it for December, but I grabbed it and am going to read it now, in the middle of summer. Since Angus Wilson was one of England's first openly gay novelists, this can count as my book for Pride Month.


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please link to your Book Beginnings post in the Linky box below and use the hashtag #bookbeginnings if you share on social media. Have fun!

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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

From Anglo-Saxon Attitudes:
There was no want of artificial flowers in the Corner House entrance hall. An enormous cardboard turkey and an enormous cardboard goose, owing their inspiration to somewhat vulgarized memories of Walt Disney, held between them the message MERRY XMAS made entirely of white and pink satin roses.



Friday, June 3, 2022

Love is Blind by William Boyd -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

I really am here on Friday with Book Beginnings. Sorry I didn't get the post up early! I was out of the office most of the day yesterday and forgot to post before I left!

What are you reading this week? Please share the opening sentence (or so) with us here on Book Beginnings on Fridays. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

Brodie Moncur stood in the main window of Channon & Co. and looked out at the hurrying pedestrians, the cabs, carriages and laboring drays of George Street.
-- from Part I, Edinburgh 1894, Chapter 1, in Love is Blind by William Boyd. This is historical fiction set at the turn of the 20th Century. It is a plot-driven novel about a Scottish piano tuner sent to manage the Paris branch of a piano company. He becomes professionally involved with an Irish concert pianist and romantically involved with that man’s Russian girlfriend. Things get even more complicated when their entire retinue relocates to St. Petersburg.

This is one of my book club's picks for this summer and I love it. I am just about finished with it and have enjoyed every page. 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please leave a link to your Book Beginning post in the Linky box below. If you post on social media, please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings so we can find each other. 

Speaking of social media, if you are on Instagram, you can find me at my new account, gilioncdumas. My old account got hacked and my many attempts to retrieve it were unsuccessful, so I started over. Find me at my new account! The new account is my name with my middle initial C. You should probably unfollow my old "giliondumas" account (no middle initial). The nasty hackers are quiet now but you never know when they might try to spam you or sell you cryptocurrency!

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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

From Love is Blind:
“Paris, Brodie, Paris! The city of light. La ville lumineuse. How I envy you!”
Enjoy your weekend!




Thursday, May 26, 2022

To Live and Die in the Floating World by Stephen Holgate -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Oh, I am looking forward to this long holiday weekend! How about you? What do you plan to read?

I'm in one of those weird situations where I've started several books at the same time for different reasons. I always have a book by my bedside and an audiobook on my phone. Then I have auxiliaries: like a coffee table book in the living room for in the evenings, an eBook on my Kindle app for emergencies, a poetry book by my bed to read one poem every morning, and a collection of WB Yeats poems at my office I've been struggling through for years. 

But right now I have extras on top of my usuals. I started an airplane paperback and I signed up for a Wind in the Willows read along on Instagram before my Instagram account got hacked (I'm still working on getting it back). It's those two extras that are discombobulating me. My bookish balance is off. I need to do some serious reading this weekend to pare my stack back to its normal size. 

How many books do you read at one time? Does the number remain consistent?

Please share the opening sentence (or so) of one of your books here on Book Beginnings on Fridays! Or you can share a book you feel like highlighting, even if you aren't reading it at the moment. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

It was nearly midnight, and I was drunk and thinking of heading back to my dump at the Ecu d'Or when the Irishman Rory Gallagher came through the door of the smoky, flyblown bar on the pimply backside of Montmartre.

-- To Live and Die in the Floating World by Stephen Holgate. That opening sentence certainly paints a scene!

This adventure story finds an American ex pat working on a canal boat in Burgundy, France. When he risks a romance with a mobster's girlfriend, he puts both their lives in jeopardy. The question is, which will catch him first, the gangsters or his own past?

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please link to your Book Beginnings post and use the hashtag #bookbeginnings if you post on social media.

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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

From To Life and Die in the Floating World:
Before he got her out the door she stopped, looked over her shoulder at me and called out in English, “Stout fellow!”
She said it in the way you might say “good boy” to a dog, but I felt as pleased as if she had pinned a medal to me.

 Have a good Memorial Day weekend!





A Roundup of Reviews -- Six Book Reviews to Spring Clean My Blog


A ROUNDUP OF REVIEWS

I’ve gotten behind on my book reviews here on Rose City Reader. So in a bout of spring cleaning, here is a roundup of a half a dozen reviews to make a dent my backlog and my To Do list:



📘Coco at the Ritz: A Novel by Gioia Diliberto (2021, Pegasus Books)

Coco Chanel is remembered today as a fashion icon and strong businesswoman, who redefined feminine chic and built a world-famous design brand. But Chanel was a complex character with a darker side.

Gioia Diliberto’s new novel is based on the true story of Chanel's war-time romance with a German spy and how that affair led to her arrest for treason following the Liberation of Paris. The story is fascinating in how it neither glorifies nor demonizes Chanel, but portrays her honestly, as a 60-year-old woman desperate to preserve a semblance of her pre-war life even if it meant deceiving herself and lying to her friends – and her interrogators.

Coco at the Ritz is historical fiction at its page-turning best. It went straight onto my list of French Connections books.



📘Under The Orange Blossoms: An Inspirational Story of Bravery and Strength by Cindy Benezra (2021, Cindytalks)

Cindy Benezra was abused as a child by her father. She struggled with the ongoing trauma of her abuse, especially the shame and self-blame she carried with her. After much work brought her own healing and peace, Benezra wanted to write her memoir to share her story. In her book, she also grapples with her mother’s death, her own divorce, and her son’s ongoing health problems.

Benezra’s strength and bravery are an inspiration particularly for abuse survivors. But the story she tells in Under the Orange Blossoms can be a comfort to anyone who has faced trauma and helpful for anyone supporting trauma survivors.



📘One Night, New York by Lara Thompson (2021, Pegasus Books)

One Night, New York is Lara Thompson’s terrific debut novel. The story takes place on one December night in 1932, when two young women plot to get revenge on a man who has wronged them by pushing him off the top of the Empire State Building.

Frances ran away from her life in Depression-wracked Kansas for the fast life of the big city. There, she fell in love with Agnes, a photographer’s apprentice, and they both fell in with a bad crowd. It is a story of romance, corruption, art, Greenwich Village bohemians, nightclubs, and skyscrapers. This fast-paced historical fiction glimmers with the edgy glamor of old New York, right up to the nail-biting culmination.



📘The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo: The Transformation of Western Civilization by Paul Strathern (2021, Pegasus Books)

Paul Strathern offers a masterful history of 400 years of Florentine culture. He argues that the ideas that flourished between the birth of Dante in 1265 and the death of Galileo in 1642 -- ideas expressed in the art and architecture of Florence -- led to the emergence of humanism as the driving philosophy of the Western world.

By providing a cross-section of Renaissance society, Strathern shows how science, art, architecture, literature, finance, business, and economics all connected in Florence. Readers see how the Florentine leaders’ interactions – public and private – fomented the ideas that lead Florence, and eventually Europe, out of the Dark Ages and into the modern Renaissance.



📘Princes of the Renaissance: The Hidden Power Behind an Artistic Revolution by Mary Hollingsworth (2021, Pegasus Books)

Mary Hollingsworth's latest book tells the history of the patrons of the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance, during the tumultuous period of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is an excellent introduction for readers looking to learn about the famous Renaissance families of Italy whose names ring bells but details are sketchy, like Medici, Borgia, d’Este, Farnese, Visconti, Sforza, and Gritti.

Princes of the Renaissance is the kind of well-written “popular” history backed by substantive research that is a delight to read. It is also a beautiful book, filled with photographs and color prints of the of the places and art described. 

(Princes of the Renaissance and The Florentines make a perfect companion set. Good idea for Father's Day if your dad is a history buff!)



📘A Few Words about Words: A Common-Sense Look at Writing and Grammar by Joseph J. Diorio (2021, Beaufort Books)

I love any and all grammar books and A Few Words About Words is a first-rate addition to my collection. Joe Diorio is the author of a popular newsletter of the same name that has been around for 30 years. He built this book around those columns, organized by subject and theme, trimmed or expanded as needed, and connected by personal anecdotes for continuity. The end result is a lighthearted and engaging guide to English grammar and a wholehearted apologia for using it correctly.

NOTES

Have you read any of these? What do you think? Do any of them look good to you?

My thanks to the publishers, authors, and publicists who gave me review copies! With apologies for my tardy reviews. 


Friday, May 20, 2022

At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

What day is it? Yikes! What a week!

I got my mom and sister moved to Omaha and flew back to Portland. But got back to the office to a crazy week. My law partner is home with covid. There is a mountain of work for me to catch up on from when I was gone. And my Instagram account was hacked, recovered, and rehacked because the hackers snuck an email address in there that let them change the password after I had recovered the account. So I've been trying to get my Instagram account back from Bitcoin lunatics while changing the passwords on the 800 other websites, apps, and devices in my life. 

If any of you follow me on Instagram, first, thank you. Second, sorry! Please bear with me while I try to recover my account. I really don't want to start over from scratch. Just ignore all the stories trying to sell you cryptocurrency!

In the meantime, here is a delayed Book Beginnings on Fridays post. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of a book you are reading this week. Or just a book that caught your fancy. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

In the heart of the West End, there are many quiet pockets, unknown to almost all but taxi drivers who traverse them with expert knowledge, and arrive triumphantly thereby at Park Lane, Berkeley Square or South Audley Street.
-- from At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie. I need a nice vintage mystery to calm my frayed nerves. In this case, a Silver Vintage Mystery as this one was published in 1965. 

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please leave the link to your Book Beginning post in the Linky box below. If you post on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag. 

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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

From At Bertram's Hotel:
"Of course you won't get run over," said Elvira. "You know how nippy you are on your feet, and all London traffic is used to pulling up suddenly."
What are they up to? Doesn't sound like a safe plan!

Please wish me luck getting my Instagram back!









Thursday, May 12, 2022

The Double Life of Katharine Clark by Katherine Gregorio -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Greeting from Omaha, Nebraska, my Book Beginnings friends! I'm on the road this week, helping my mom and sister move from Oregon back to our hometown of Omaha. We've lived in Oregon for over 40 years, but the Midwest called them home. I will miss having them close by. Fortunately, it is easy to fly to Omaha, since it is right in the middle!

On to Book Beginnings! Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week, or just a book that caught your fancy and you want to highlight. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

At half past seven on the twenty-fourth of January 1955, Katherine Clark shivered as she left the dark, run-down lobby of the old, central district courthouse and stepped outside onto its front steps. 

-- from Chapter One, "Belgrade" in The Double Life of Katharine Clark: The Untold Story of the Fearless Journalist Who Risked Her Life for Truth and Justice by Katherine Gregorio.

The Double Life of Katharine Clark is a thrilling new nonfiction book about an American journalist who smuggled an anti-Communist manuscript out of Yugoslavia during the Cold War. Read the publisher's description below because it sounds amazing! I just got my copy and can't wait to read it. 

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS 

Please add the link to your Book Beginning post in the Linky box below. If you share on social media, please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings. 

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THE FRIDAY 56

Another fun Friday event is The Friday 56. Share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your book, or 56% of the way through your e-book or audiobook, on this weekly event hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice.

MY FRIDAY 56

From The Double Life of Katharine Clark:
She took a deep breath and turned to Milovan, asking him if he remembered her from the courthouse.
Milovan stared back at her blankly, furrowed lines wrinkling his forehead.

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION

In 1955, Katharine Clark, the first American woman wire reporter behind the Iron Curtain, saw something none of her male colleagues did. What followed became one of the most unusual adventure stories of the Cold War. While on assignment in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Clark befriended a man who, by many definitions, was her enemy. But she saw something in Milovan Djilas, a high-ranking Communist leader who dared to question the ideology he helped establish, that made her want to work with him. It became the assignment of her life.

Against the backdrop of protests in Poland and a revolution in Hungary, she risked her life to ensure Djilas's work made it past the watchful eye of the Yugoslavian secret police to the West. She single-handedly was responsible for smuggling his scathing anti-Communism manifesto,
The New Class, out of Yugoslavia and into the hands of American publishers. The New Class would go on to sell three million copies worldwide, become a New York Times bestseller, be translated into over 60 languages, and be used by the CIA in its covert book program.

Meticulously researched and written by Clark's great-niece, Katharine Gregorio,
The Double Life of Katharine Clark illuminates a largely untold chapter of the twentieth century. It shows how a strong-willed, fiercely independent woman with an ardent commitment to truth, justice and freedom put her life on the line to share ideas with the world, ultimately transforming both herself--and history--in the process.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Family Business: A Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Mystery by S. J. Rozan -- BOOK REVIEW


BOOK REVIEW

Family Business: A Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Mystery by S. J. Rozan (2021, Pegasus Books)

Family Business is the latest mystery novel in S. J. Rozan's long-running series featuring New York private eye Lydia Chin and her fellow P.I. boyfriend Bill Smith. Here, Lydia and Bill get pulled in to solve the mystery of a murdered Tong leader found dead in a Chinatown building at the center of a real estate development battle.

Family Business is first-rate entertainment. I loved how the story made New York City feel like a village by focusing on the interconnected “Chinatown” community. I put Chinatown in quotation marks because one of the cool things I learned was that there are many Chinatown neighborhoods throughout New York City, not only the one tourists walk through in Manhattan, down near Soho. Lydia, her extended family, and a network of characters who have known each other since high school cross paths on both sides of the law.

The plot centers around the Tong headquarters. Crime boss Big Brother Choi left the building to his niece upon his death. A hotshot young Chinese developer wants to buy the building to tear down for a condo development, which Choi opposed and so does his niece. The Tong members are divided over what to do with the building and who will take over now that Choi is dead. They also believe stolen riches may be hidden in the building. There’s plenty of action, some light humor, and enough complexity to keep your attention right to the end.


NOTES

Even though Family Business is the 14th book in Rozan’s Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series, I had no problem reading it as a standalone. Rozan gives enough of the characters’ background to smooth over any blank spots.

Only after I finished it did I remember that I had dipped into the series before with Winter and Night, which won the Edgar Award in 2003. Bill Smith was the narrator and focus of that one, in contrast to Family Business that Lydia Chin narrates. I look forward to reading more of these fast-paced books. The relationship between Lydia and Bill is engaging, as is the way Chin’s mother treats Lydia’s non-Chinese boyfriend.



Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

It's time again for Book Beginnings on Fridays, where participants share the opening sentence (or so) of the book they are reading this week. Or you can share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

What other weekly blog events do you participate in besides Book Beginnings? I also play along with the Friday 56 (see below). I don't do any others on Fridays. I like Mailbox Monday, where participants share the books that came into their homes the prior week -- a show and tell type of thing. I used to do more, but it's all I can do to keep Book Beginnings going every week! But I'm interested to know what weekly events are out there these days.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms.
-- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. This is one of my very favorite books. I didn't read it as a kid but I fell in love with it as an adult. 

WITW is one of the few books I've reread. My library had the audiobook edition narrated by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame and it is terrific! I’ve since listened to it three times. It is my go-to whenever I need a morale boost.

This month I'm reading WITW with my eyes for the first time and it is just as wonderful. I'm taking part in a WITW real along on Instagram. I've never done an online read along and it's fun. 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please link to your Book Beginning post in the box below and use the #bookbeginnings hashtag if you share on social media. 

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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

From Wind in the Willows:
The Rat looked very grave, and stood in deep thought for a minute or two. Then he re-entered the house, strapped a belt round his waist, shoved a brace of pistols into it, took up a stout cudgel that stood in a corner of the hall, and set off for the Wild Wood at a smart pace.
The anthropomorphization in WITW is the best there is! I laugh at all of it, especially when the animals do things like carry pistols, eat sausages, or as Ratty does in this scene, make their way "manfully" through the woods.  


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Champagne Widows by Rebecca Rosenberg -- BOOK REVIEW


BOOK REVIEW

Champagne Widows by Rebecca Rosenberg (2022, Lion Heart Publishing) 

If you enjoy fact-based historical fiction with strong women protagonists, Champagne Widows is the book for you. Award-winning author Rebecca Rosenberg tells the story of the founding of the legendary champagne house, Veuve Clicquot, which started 250 years ago in Reims, France.

Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin inherited her wine making great-grandfather’s extraordinary sense of smell, referred to in the family as Le Nez, “The Nose.” Headstrong and beloved by her textile merchant father, Barbe-Nicole married her childhood sweetheart, François Clicquot, when she was 21 years old. François went into partnership with his champagne-making father and soon took over the company with Barbe-Nicole’s help. Rosenberg’s attention to historical detail about wine making and distribution brings the struggles of the young couple to life, with scenes of handmade bottles exploding in the summer heat and the excitement of hiring their first commercial salesman to sell the product throughout Europe, particularly in Russia.

But Champagne Widows is not François’s story. When he died only seven years after their wedding, Barbe-Nicole petitioned her father-in-law to allow her to take over the winery. A that time, the Napoleonic Code did not allow most women to own property in their own name or even work without permission from their husbands or fathers. Only widows were allowed to own their own businesses, so it was as Veuve (Widow) Clicquot that Barbe-Nicole planned to run the champagne house.

Rosenberg weaves an irresistible tale out of Barbe-Nicole’s business challenges and her romantic dilemmas. Her father-in-law did not make her takeover easy, apprenticing her to a stodgy winemaker with hidebound ideas about wine and lecherous ideas about the young Veuve. Once she finally gained control, she had to make and sell wine during the Napoleonic wars, in the face of navel blockades that paralyzed commercial shipping and a Russian ban on French products. Her closest sidekick was her loyal sales manager, who tempted her with more than a working relationship. But the Napoleonic Code would force her to turn over ownership of her winery to a new husband. Was marriage worth the loss of her business?

Champagne Widows is a page-turning delight of a novel and a sparkling tribute to "la grande dame de la Champagne."


NOTES

Rebecca Rosenberg has written two prior historical fiction books about real-life women: The Secret Life of Mrs. London, about the friendship between the wives of Harry Houdini and Jack London, and Gold Digger: The Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor, about a woman who came to run a Colorado gold mine. 





Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Amy Nordhues, author of Preyed Upon: Breaking Free from Therapist Abuse -- AUTHOR INTERVIEW


 AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Amy Nordhues, author of Preyed Upon: Breaking Free from Therapist Abuse (2021)

Amy Nordhues was groomed and abused as a young adult by the church-based psychiatrist she went to for help with depression. She struggled with the ongoing trauma of her abuse, especially the shame and self-blame she carried with her. After much work brought healing and peace, Nordhues wanted to write a memoir to share her story. She wrote her book, Preyed Upon, primarily for abuse survivors, but it is comforting to anyone who has faced trauma and helpful for anyone supporting trauma survivors. 


Amy talked with Rose City Reader about her memoir, resources for sexual assault victims, and how others can support survivors of sexual assault: 

How did you come to write your new memoir Prayed Upon?

After I was taken advantage of by a “Christian” therapist/psychiatrist in 2014, I decided to write out my story. Really, I just wanted to understand what happened so that I could begin to forgive myself. As the story unfolded on the pages, I began to see the sneaky and insidious manipulation process. In time, I knew that I needed to share my story with the world so that other adult victims would know they weren’t alone and that what happened to them was not their fault.

Your memoir is intensely personal – did you have any qualms about sharing so much?

Yes! It was a terrifying prospect to put my personal life story into print, but it was an important step in my healing and in reducing the stigma adult victims experience. I respect authors of memoir so much. We take a huge risk when we tell our stories.

Who is your intended audience and what do you hope your readers will gain from your book?

Women, ages 25-65+; adult victims of sexual and/or emotional abuse; survivors of childhood sexual abuse; mental health professionals; Christians, especially those who are struggling to find God in their suffering; and church leaders.

Prayed Upon addresses the following felt needs:

  • The inner workings of the abuse process of adult victims;
  • How past childhood abuse can make an adult vulnerable to predators;
  • The defective beliefs that cause victims to doubt their own realities and become ensnared by abusers;
  • An up-close look at the insidious grooming process a predator uses to trap his victims;
  • The power a therapist has over a client;
  • That the abuse of an adult by a person in a position of power is not a mutual affair;
  • A path towards healing for victims—that with Christ there is hope;
  • How the spouses of adult victims are secondary victims;
  • How loved ones can best support the victims in their lives;
  • Possible routes to justice;
  • The trials victims will likely face once they come forward;
  • God's hand at work amidst the tribulations of victims;
  • That no situation is too dire that God cannot use it for good;
  • How victims can replace their faulty beliefs with God’s truth; and
  • That Christ is the ultimate healer.

Do you think there is benefit to victims of abuse in telling their stories?

I do. Anything that gets it out of the victim has benefit whether that means talking to one person, sharing with a therapist, writing out the story. Holding shame and trauma inside is mentally and physically detrimental. We are not meant to do life alone. Secrets are heavy!

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

I was surprised to uncover the lies I was believing about myself, lies that stemmed from early childhood. These negative self-tapes placed a target on my back and made me vulnerable to predators.

Can you recommend any other memoirs that deal with surviving abuse with the honesty and self-forgiveness you put into yours?

What resources would you recommend for survivors of adult sexual abuse? What about their loved ones and supporters?

I have a long list of organizations and other resources to help survivors on my website at this page.

What can friends and family of abuse victims do to support them?

Listen and empathize. Don’t try to understand it unless you have experience with sexual abuse especially abuse as an adult. Don’t ask questions so that you can better understand it yourself. Your words can be extremely hurtful so be slow to speak. What you can do is relate to their pain, betrayal, confusion, hurt. Guide the victim towards support of those who understand, whether that be a ministry or a therapist. Research online and try to find resources for them. Help them find books on the subject. Although you can be a listening ear, friends and family are not equipped to handle this level of trauma. Do not rush victims through their pain! Healing takes as long as it takes!

Please tell us about your work with abuse survivors and advocates.

Besides writing my memoir, Preyed Upon, I also have an Amy Nordhues website full of resources, helpful articles, suggested reading, and interviews I’ve done on the subject. I hope to begin traveling and speaking on the issue of adult abuse. I am considering joining with other ministries as there is strength in numbers. I will respond to anyone who reaches out to me through my website or through social media. I would love to work towards legislation in my state regarding therapist abuse. Currently, it is criminally illegal in only 32 states.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as someone working to help abuse survivors?

Victims of crimes do not owe explanations to anyone regarding the nature of the crime committed against them!

Do you have any events or speaking engagements coming up?

Most of the speaking events and interviews I have done thus far are on the press page of my website. More recently, I spoke last month at two sexual abuse conferences, the Beautifully Broken Conference and the Restoring Hope: Celebrating Resilience Conference. Both those talks will be posted on my website shortly. 

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

I would like to record Preyed Upon for audio book.

I am considering a second book to address what happens after the survivor escapes the abuser and all the risks they face in coming forward as well as the challenges they face in healing.

I am also looking for speaking engagements. I can be found on Christian Speaker and Christian Women Speakers.


THANK YOU, AMY!

PREYED UPON IS AVAILABLE ONLINE.


Saturday, April 30, 2022

A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris -- BOOK REVIEW

 

BOOK REVIEW

A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris (2021, Pegasus Books)

When Rebecca Buckfast takes over as head of St. Oswald’s school, you want to root for her success. It’s time this 500-year-old school for boys had a good shaking up. Admitting girls as students and putting a strong female leader in charge is just what this stodgy institution needs. Or is it? Is Bex Buckfast the right woman for the job? Or are the holes in her memory and the blood on her hands enough to disqualify her from the position?

Joanne Harris’s latest novel, A Narrow Door, is a cunning psychological thriller with atmosphere to spare and a tricky puzzle of a plot that comes together quite cleverly in the end. The point of view goes back and forth between Buckfast and a venerable St. Oswald’s classics teacher, Roy Straitley.  Straitley’s narrative appears as diary entries recording the increasingly disturbing story “La Buckfast” discloses to him over tea and biscuits as the novel unfolds. There is a braided timeline, with the story moving back and forth between 1989 when Buckfast is starting her teaching career and her family and the “present” of 2006. However, the mystery at the heart of the story dates back to Buckfast’s childhood and the disappearance of her brother Conrad.

There were a few moments when Buckfast’s repressed memories strain credulity and her emotions (or maybe Harris’s writing) are overwrought. Get on with it! But for the most part, Harris keeps the pacing steady and the pressure mounting right to the satisfying end.


NOTES

Only when I wrote this review did I realize that A Narrow Door is the fourth book by Joanne Harris set in the fictional town of Malbry and the third set at St. Oswald's. The first books in this series are Gentlemen and Players (2006), Blueeyedboy  (2011; Malbry but not St. Oswald’s), and Different Class (2017). Other reviewers are consistent in the opinion that A Narrow Door can stand alone, but several suggest that reading the first two St. Oswald's books offer an introduction to the characters and grounding in the St. Oswald's setting that could make for a richer reading experience. I don't doubt. 




Friday, April 29, 2022

Family Business: A Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Mystery by J. R. Rozan -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Sorry for the late post this week. No excuse. I just walked out of the office yesterday and forgot! Spring fever I guess. 

What are you reading this week? Please share the first sentence (or so) here on Book Beginnings on Fridays. You can also share a book you want to highlight even if you are not reading it right now. 

Which is what I'm doing because I realize that I never posted about Family Business when I read it in March. I loved the book. I am getting ready to write a review and only now remember that I forgot to post my Book Beginning for this lively mystery.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
The news swept back and forth through Chinatown all afternoon: Big Brother Choi was dead.
-- Family Business: A Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Mystery by J. R. Rozan. Family Business is the latest mystery novel in Rozan's long-running series featuring New York private eye Lydia Chin and her fellow P.I. boyfriend Bill Smith. Here, Lydia and Bill get pulled in to solve the mystery of a murdered Tong leader found dead in a Chinatown building at the center of a real estate development battle.

Family Business was really good. I've dipped into the series before with Winter and Night, which won the Edgar Award in 2003. Bill Smith was the narrator and focus of that one, in contrast to Family Business that Lydia Chin narrates. I look forward to reading more of the series.


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please add the link to your Book Beginning post in the Linky box below. Use the #book beginnings hashtag if you share on social media. 

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THE FRIDAY 56

Another fun Friday event is The Friday 56. Share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your book, or 56% of the way through your e-book or audiobook, on this weekly event hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice.

MY FRIDAY 56

From Family Business:

Paying respects at the funeral of an elder, a powerful community leader, crook or not, adversary or not, showed an appreciation of protocol and correctness that might soften some hearts.

The next hour was filled with chanting and gongs, prayers and eulogies, bowing and incense.

Enjoy your weekend! I hope your plans include a good book or two!


Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

How is your week going? If you celebrated Easter, I hope you had a good one. I hosted at my house with my family and a few friends and we had a lovely time. The next day was my husband's birthday, so I took the day off work to celebrate with him, which made for a wonderful long weekend. 

Now that work is finally slowing down, I hope to have more time for blogging, including hopping around to visit more of your Book Beginning posts! I look forward to seeing the opening sentences (or so) of the books you are reading this week. As always, feel free to share a book that caught your fancy instead of a book you are reading right now. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING
In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier’s greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini.
-- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. AAOK&C has been on my TBR shelf for many years. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 and everyone I know who read it liked it. But I've never gotten around to reading it.  


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please add the link to your Book Beginning post in the Linky box below. If you share on social media, please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings. 

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blog event button for The Friday 56 on Freda's Voice


THE FRIDAY 56

Another fun Friday event is The Friday 56. Share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your book, or 56% of the way through your e-book or audiobook, on this weekly event hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice.

MY FRIDAY 56

From Amazing Adventures:
Two weeks after Josef’s disaster, with Thomas recovered, Kornblum called at the flat off the Graben to escort the Kavalier brothers to dinner at the Hofzinser Club. It proved to be a quite ordinary place, with a cramped, dimly lit dining room that smelled of liver and onions.
I like this book a lot so far. I'm about a quarter of the way through. It's a sprawling story about two cousins in New York during WWII who team up to create a comic book series. I've only gotten through the part of how the one cousin, Josef Kavalier, escapes Nazi-occupied Prague to get to America where he is now living with his younger cousin, Sam Clayman. 



My sister, me, and my mom on Easter. Because what better way to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord than with matching bunny sweaters? 


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Easton Press List of the list of The 100 Greatest Books Ever -- BOOK LIST


THE EASTON PRESS LIST OF 100 GREATEST BOOKS EVER

A while back, Easton Pres put together its list of the 100 Greatest Books Ever and described the collection as the "most renowned works of literature by history’s greatest authors." It was an interesting mix that includes books going back to ancient times, from around the world, and includes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. 

Easton Press used to sell the whole set in its fancy, leather-bound editions. The list is no longer on the Easton Press website and it no longer sells the books as a set, although they are available individually. They are also all available elsewhere in other formats and editions.

Here is the list, with notes about whether I've read a book, it is on my TBR shelf, or it is available as an audiobook from my library. So far, I've read of the 68 of the 100, but don't know if I will ever read them all. How about you?

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne ON OVERDRIVE

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne FINISHED

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson FINISHED

Walden by Henry David Thoreau FINISHED

Gulliver's Travels by Johnathan Swift FINISHED

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (reviewed here)* FINISHED

A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway FINISHED

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane FINISHED

The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling* TBR SHELF

The Odyssey by Homer FINISHED

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan FINISHED

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (reviewed here) FINISHED

Paradise Lost by John Milton FINISHED

Tales From The Arabian Nights by Richard Burton ON OVERDRIVE

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (reviewed here) FINISHED

Candide by Voltaire FINISHED

Oedipus the King by Sophocles FINISHED

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo ON OVERDRIVE

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper* TBR SHELF

The Sea Wolf by Jack London TBR SHELF

Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmund Rostand

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer FINISHED

Collected Poems by Robert Browning

Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson TBR SHELF

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James FINISHED

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (reviewed here) FINISHED

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson FINISHED

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle FINISHED

Collected Poems by John Keats

On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin ON OVERDRIVE

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra TBR SHELF

Collected Poems by Robert Frost TBR SHELF

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving FINISHED

Animal Farm by George Orwell FINISHED

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë FINISHED

She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith FINISHED

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck FINISHED

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen FINISHED

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky FINISHED

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo ON OVERDRIVE

The Iliad by Homer FINISHED

Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence FINISHED

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas* FINISHED

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley FINISHED

Aesop's Fables by Aesop FINISHED

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad FINISHED

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin ON OVERDRIVE

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas* FINISHED

Politics and Poetics by Aristotle TBR SHELF

The Aeneid by Virgil FINISHED

Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert FINISHED

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli FINISHED

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë FINISHED

Hamlet by William Shakespeare FINISHED

Pygmalion and Candida by George Bernard Shaw TBR SHELF and FINISHED

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe* FINISHED

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare FINISHED

The Cherry Orchard and The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov TBR SHELF

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri FINISHED

The Analects of Confucius by Confucius

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare FINISHED

Collected Poems by William Butler Yeats (reading now)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde FINISHED

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray TBR SHELF

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio FINISHED

Beowulf FINISHED

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy TBR SHELF

The Necklace and Other Tales by Guy de Maupassant TBR SHELF

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells FINISHED

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev FINISHED

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad FINISHED

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy TBR SHELF

The History of Early Rome by Livy

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott FINISHED

The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott TBR SHELF

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy FINISHED

Alice's Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll FINISHED

Dracula by Bram Stoker (reviewed here) FINISHED

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám by Omar Khayyám  FINISHED

The Red and the Black by Stendhal FINISHED

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens FINISHED

The Republic by Plato TBR SHELF

Collected Poems by Emily Dickinson TBR SHELF

Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe FINISHED

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding* TBR SHELF

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay FINISHED

Silas Marner by George Eliot FINISHED

The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine ON OVERDRIVE

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (reading now)

Billy Budd by Herman Melville TBR SHELF

The Confessions by St. Augustine FINISHED

Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe FINISHED

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott TBR SHELF

The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler* FINISHED

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (reviewed here)* FINISHED

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky FINISHED

Grimm's Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm FINISHED

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain* FINISHED

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley FINISHED

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens FINISHED


NOTES

This is a repost of the list I first posted in 2009. The links needed refreshing. 

The original list is no longer available on the Easton Press website, so I don't know why the books are listed in this order. The aren't listed in alphabetical order by title or author, nor are they listed by publication date. They must be listed by Easton Press catalog number or publication date, but I don't remember. 

* Marks those that I have in the fancy Easton Press edition, thanks to a lovely Christmas gift from Hubby.




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