Quantcast

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book review: This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel by Wiley Cash

I wasn't feeling in a dark mood when I really needed to read this book (I was going to be possibly seeing Mr. Cash at Booktopia) so I was reluctant and put it off, but the book isn't nearly as dark as the cover and the set up had me think it would be.

Easter and Ruby (named for two of their mother's favorite things) are living in a foster home after their mother's death. Their father, Wade, who signed away rights to them years ago, a failed minor-league baseball player and minor criminal, wants to get them back. Unfortunately, an enemy who Wade hurt a long time ago has resurfaced and is hot on Wade's trail, catching up with the trio faster than the police. They are in much more trouble than they had bargained for.

The book is told from Easter, the older sister's, point of view. She's just on the cusp of puberty and has a maybe-boyfriend and is very protective of her sister, understandably. She's wary of Wade disappointing them again (particularly after having heard all their mother's stories of the times he disappointed her) but the girls just want to be loved, and to belong to a family. The places (Gastonia, NC; Myrtle Beach, SC) are well-drawn and evocative, and the trope of having the girls following the Mark McGwire--Sammy Sosa home run race put us in the time (1998) very well and helped track how much time had gone by. It also was a good way to show that even though on the surface Easter claimed to hate her father, she still loved an enormous thing that he had done that symbolized him. The book was a fast read and although there were some very bad things that happened in the book, overall I did not find it a negative, down book. I'm not sure why it is pitched as such a dark book, as I would think that would turn off a lot of readers. To me it read more like a slow thriller, narrated by a preteen.

A friend who had Advance Readers from the publisher gave me one.


Teaser Tuesdays: This Dark Road to Mercy

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash p. 53

"But being out there gave me plenty of time to think, which is exactly what I needed to do. I thought about what I'd heard Miss Crawford say to Wade last Saturday morning about how she'd been talking with our grandparents and that she couldn't make any promises about whether or not we'd be moving to Alaska."

Kids this age are often eavesdropping, particularly when it involves decisions being made about themselves. But it would be especially hard to listen to the director of the foster home talking about shipping you from North Carolina, where you'd lived your entire life, to Alaska to grandparents you've never met, when your father, who may have abandoned you but who now has changed his mind and is fighting for you, is right there but can't help. It's good she had that time out in right field to think about it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood by Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley Jr.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink (audio)

Up next:
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Letters from Yellowstone by Diane Smith

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Beginnings: This Dark Road to Mercy

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

"Wade disappeared on us when I was nine years old, and then he showed up out of nowhere the year I turned twelve."

Well it's not exactly out of nowhere since it's after Easter (our narrator)'s mother has died, leaving Easter and her sister Ruby to the foster care system. But he did have a habit of disappearing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Undertaking

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In a desperate bid to escape the trenches of the Eastern front, Peter Faber, an ordinary German soldier, marries Katharina Spinell, a woman he has never met, in a marriage of convenience that promises ‘honeymoon’ leave for him and a pension for her should he die in the war. With ten days’ leave secured, Peter visits his new wife in Berlin and both are surprised by the passion that develops between them.

When Peter returns to the horror of the front, it is only the dream of Katharina that sustains him as he approaches Stalingrad. Back in Berlin, Katharina, goaded on by her desperate and delusional parents, ruthlessly works her way into Nazi high society, wedding herself, her young husband, and her unborn child to the regime. But when the tide of war turns and Berlin falls, Peter and Katharina find their simple dream of family cast in tragic light and increasingly hard to hold on to.

Reminiscent of Bernard Schlink’s The Reader, this is an unforgettable novel of marriage, ambition, and the brutality of war, which heralds the arrival of a breathtaking new voice in international fiction.

Publishing September 2, 2014 by Grove Press.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book review: Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

What a fun book! And this is the perfect example of why I love book club. I never would have read this book, even though the premise intrigued me, because it so far outside of my usual fare. Having it assigned for book club was the only way to force me into it, and I am so glad that I was!

Owen Wedgwood, a chef, is kidnapped by Mad Hannah Mabbot, captain of the pirate ship, The Flying Rose. Each week he is forced to cook her a marvelous meal out of the meager foodstuff on board, in order to survive another week, Meanwhile pirating continues and Owen tries to escape and there are murders, robberies, the hunt for the elusive Brass Fox, and the avoidance of the vengeful Laroche in his ship, La Colette, with its many inventions and innovations. Naturally most of the pirates are misfits and eccentrics, pretty delightful in their variety and in their character development. Owen is nicely not a hero, but someone who bumbles his escape attempts, and has no pretensions about saving anyone or anything except his own neck.

Some in book club were less enamored of the book as it was on the lighter side of literary, but the discussions of food and the descriptions of flavors and of the ship were masterful. There was still a lot to discuss, and we don't have to read an uber-intellectual book every month, in my opinion. It was thoroughly enjoyable (although it did start off a little slow) and a nice change of pace.

I checked this book out of the library.

Teaser Tuesdays: Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

"Once you meet Mabbot, you can hardly go back to being a bear. You have two choices: fight her or fight for her."

The "bear" reference is the speaker saying he used to be a professional fighter and just beat people up for no reason, like a trained bear. Now he's the first mate to Mabbot, the female pirate ship captain!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book review: Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill

Some people think that Laura Ingalls Wilder was not a skilled enough writer to have written the brilliant set of novels now known as The Little House Books by herself. There is a pervasive theory (popularized by the book The Ghost in the Little House) that her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, a successful journalist at the time, basically wrote them for her. After all, Laura was just a farmer's wife, good at setting hens to lay eggs, but what did she know about writing?

I have always thought this was bunk, and happily, Ms. Hill agrees. I have a copy of Little House in the Ozarks, which is a collection of the articles Laura wrote for decades as a farmer's wife. They cover everyday things like cooking and cleaning and farming, but then that's a lot of the same material she covers in the Little House books. I also always thought that her terrific descriptions must have come from the years when she had to be "Mary's eyes," after her older sister went blind. Laura had to paint pictures for Mary with words. Mary didn't always appreciate Laura's creative metaphors but they do a masterful job of conveying the tone she means.

Ms. Hill examines both Laura's actual life events, and also her unpublished (until this coming fall!) original memoir, Pioneer Girl, and looks at what she left in, what she left out, what she embroidered, and also how much editing Rose did and where and of what. She concludes that Rose's edits, while heavy-handed at times (as she came from the newspaper world where editorial changes were made without the writer's permission), were only appropriate and no more, that Laura was already a good writer who improved with practice, and Rose was only a middling writer anyway. (I have read her novel Young Pioneers, the material for which she stole from Laura's Pioneer Girl, and it's only so-so.) Personally, I have always preferred the later books in the series, which were written when Rose did less editing, and Laura pushed back on her edits more. So the books with more of Rose's influence as lesser in my opinion.

I appreciated Ms. Hill's analysis of the editing process between Laura and Rose. Rose obviously did know what she was doing, as the books needed little editing by Harper & Row's editors after the manuscripts were turned in. But a good editor is by no means a co-writer. They are completely different skill sets. Most editors are not great writers (passable, sure, but not great), just as most writers aren't good at editing. Just because Rose edited the books and was also a writer on her own, does not mean she wrote or co-wrote the Little House books. And I am glad Ms. Hill has the academic authority to say so definitively, based on extensive research and analysis.

I bought this book at my local independent bookstore, Park Road Books.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood by Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley Jr.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Up next:
Duel with the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America's First Sensational Murder Mystery by Paul Collins
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Beginnings: Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

"This body is not brave."

Even though he is on a pirate ship, Chef Owen Wedgwood is honest about his complete lack of bravery. In fact he is not on the pirate ship by choice at all.

Book review: The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

Families can be difficult. That's probably an understatement for a lot of us, but reading about Ms. Bartok's relationship with her mother, a schizophrenic, makes the rest of our relationships look easy in comparison.

Mira and her sister Rachel bordered on homeless much of their young lives, often living with their grandmother and abusive grandfather as their mother was fired from job after job, as the voices got the better of her and her behavior became erratic and occasionally violent. As an adult, Mira gets a call that her mother is in the hospital and dying. She hasn't seen or spoken with her mother in years, although they do communicate through the mail, via a P.O. Box in another state under another name, as Mira does not want her mother to know where she lives. For good reason, as her mother has shown up at her work before and endangered her job. Her mother has endangered relationships, and even Mira's life. But no matter how much she tries to cut her mother out, unlike Rachel, she's never able to completely do so. But she and Rachel to sit by their mother's side in hospice, they clean out her storage unit (since she was homeless for many years), which brings back a lot of memories both good and bad, and Mira tries to reconcile the past with her feelings of love and self-protection.

The arty side of things got a little esoteric for me at times, and I never got her sister at all. Rachel seemed cold, lifeless, and unknowable. Not much of her life is told, she just shows up, seems more pulled together than Mira, but then can't take shit a lot of the time. Mira, confusingly, is both the weaker sister who always gives in to their mother, and the stronger sister who can stand up to their mother. Being too close to people makes it very hard to draw their personalities in a definitive way for outsiders, an author can be too close and because they assume what's in their own head is clear on the page, they don't actually build the characters enough, and I think that is part of the culprit here. She also seems conflicted about her own feelings towards her sister, but never really deals with that.

The book is well-written, an accurate and harrowing portrayal of a life growing up with a mad woman for a mother, but at the same time it has an element of distance and parts of the story are told at a remove (what ever happened to her ex husband? Was he ever diagnosed with anything? Does Mira see how she's repeating a pattern? Does she go to therapy to deal with it?) Enjoyed isn't the right word since the story is too sad, but it was an eloquent and viscerally told story, but flawed. Still worthwhile, though, particularly for anyone who has questions about schizophrenia.

I bought this book at a Borders going out of business sale.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

“Waiting On”: Fire Shut Up in My Bones

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles Blow

Synopsis from Goodreads:
New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow mines the compelling poetry of the out-of-time African-American Louisiana town where he grew up -- a place where slavery's legacy felt astonishingly close, reverberating in the elders' stories and in the near-constant wash of violence.

Blow's attachment to his mother -- a fiercely driven woman with five sons, brass knuckles in her glove box, a job plucking poultry at a nearby factory, a soon-to-be-ex husband, and a love of newspapers and learning -- cannot protect him from secret abuse at the hands of an older cousin. It's damage that triggers years of anger and searing self-questioning.

Finally, Blow escapes to a nearby state university, where he joins a black fraternity after a passage of brutal hazing, and then enters a world of racial and sexual privilege that feels like everything he's ever needed and wanted, until he's called upon, himself, to become the one perpetuating the shocking abuse.

A powerfully redemptive memoir that both fits the tradition of African-American storytelling from the South, and gives it an indelible new slant.

Publishing September 23, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book review: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

I read Ordinary Grace for my Great Group Reads book club, and it was well-liked across the board (one member declared it her favorite book this year.) I did like it but it had some issues for me.

Frank is 13, living in a small town in Minnesota in 1961, and the son of a preacher. That summer starts with the accidental death of a mentally handicapped boy Frank's age, and the deaths keep coming, including one that hits close to home.

The voice and the sense of place were very powerful. Mr. Krueger has a knack for conveying the flatness of the midwest, and the people in this small town who are good and bad, striving, gossipy, prejudiced, and helpful. The story kept me reading too, to find out what happened. There were some red herrings along the way, but it isn't a traditional mystery. It's more of a novel with a mysterious element.

The issues I had were with Frank and his little brother Jake's ages seeming to fluctuate (sometimes they seemed wise beyond their years, other times I thought they were a lot younger than they're supposed to be.) I also had issue with how much of the plot revolved around eavesdropping, which is somewhat necessary for a book narrated by a child but about adult issues. Others in book club assured me that they had eavesdropped a lot as a child (I didn't) but I still don't like it as a convention. It seems convenient and passive. I thought the character of their older sister could have been more developed. And certain events were telegraphed so strongly that I saw them coming from a mile away. I hate books that don't use quotation marks. And for me, the biggest problem was that I was reading an advance copy, and the letter in the front of the book from the author gave away the biggest plot twist in the book (not even by hinting, but flat-out said it.) That's unforgivable. I was incredibly disappointed. When will publishers learn--if you're going to give away a spoiler, put it at the back where it can't hurt anyone. Luckily for you, you are not going to have that same problem.

Overall, I really did enjoy the book, particularly the atmosphere and I liked the resolution. It was not quite lyrical, but there is a poetry to the midwest which Mr. Krueger captured beautifully.

A friend who works at a bookstore passed along an advance copy.

Teaser Tuesdays: Ordinary Grace

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger p. 26

"To this day for much of its length the river is shadowed by railroad. To a thirteen-year-old kid in 1961 that set of tracks seemed to reach to a horizon from beyond which came the sound of the world calling."

The railroad and the trestle (featured on the cover) is very important in the book, even though the heyday of railroads was long past.

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Up next:
First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett
The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan
Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Beginnings: Ordinary Grace


Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

"All the dying that summer began with the death of a child, a boy with golden hair and thick glasses, killed on the railroad tracks outside New Bremen, Minnesota, sliced into pieces by a thousand tons of steel speeding across the prairie toward South Dakota."

In this town, in 1961, there are an unusual number of deaths, and they impacted 13-year-old Frank more than you might think because his father is the Methodist minister and presides over a lot of the funerals.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Paying Guests


“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Synopsis from Goodreads:
From the bestselling author of The Little Stranger and Fingersmith, an enthralling novel about a widow and her daughter who take a young couple into their home in 1920s London.

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life—or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize three times, Sarah Waters has earned a reputation as one of our greatest writers of historical fiction, and here she has delivered again. A love story, a tension-filled crime story, and a beautifully atmospheric portrait of a fascinating time and place, The Paying Guests is Sarah Waters’s finest achievement yet.

Publishing September 16, 2014 by Riverhead.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

"Yonahlossee was where important Southern men sent their daughters. I would later learn more: an Astor, via marriage to the Langhornes of Virginia, had graduated the year before I arrived."

Money is very important because this is 1930. But what is a surprise to us today is that they didn't realize yet just how bad what they were in was. I don't think it was even called The Depression yet. Thea's family has money, but it's not Old Money. She has no famous relatives.


Monday, September 8, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

Up next:
The Unexpected Waltz by Kim Wright
A Southern Girl by John Warley
It Comes In Waves by Erika Marks

How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

The short answer: Next to nothing if you don't mind the book looking and reading terribly. More than you think if you want your book to be indistinguishable from traditionally-published books.

I thought I'd break down how much it cost to publish my own book, The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing, to give you all an idea of the costs. Every book is going to be different. You will run into your own snags which will be different than mine, you will have different friends who can help you out, and you can explore other printing options. But it is not a get-rich-quick scheme. As of today my book has cost me $4571.14 and there are a few expenses still to come.

The biggest cost was design at almost $1500, which included the cover, permission for the cover image, a logo for my imprint, the interior design, and formatting the ebook. The front cover was about $129. The full cover with spine and back was $162. Coming up with the interior design was $62. Unexpected edits were almost $400. By far and away, the ebook formatting was the biggest chunk of this budget. Turns out my printer/distributor (IngramSpark) had an issue with one of the fonts we were using but it took us a while to figure that out and then another while to solve the issue. Hopefully that won't happen to you, which would have reduced my expense by about $600. Otherwise it would have been normal layouts. (For a client of mine whose book did not have these complication, his cost for the interior design and layout and ebook formatting was around $900, which is a more normal cost.)

The second biggest expense was publicity. I hired a publicity intern for the summer (yes, I am paying her, mostly to keep it legal, but also because of ethics.) She has been invaluable and yet with publicity, you could always do more. She has helped me to set up 4 events so far (several more in the works), she has gotten posters printed and shipped, she submitted the events to dozens of calendar listings in the different cities, sent press releases to local media, contacted local colleges (which is particular to my book which appeals to English majors), contacted pertinent websites (career advice), sent the book to reviewers, sent the book to Goodreads giveaway winners, and many, many other things. That said, publicity and marketing is also something I have put a lot of time and money into as well. I paid $425 for a Kirkus review. I have approached contacts in the media that I know. I am setting up a couple of the events myself. A lot of the things we've tried haven't worked out, but you have to try anyway because you just don't' know what will hit and what won't.

As for the third highest expense, editing, I was lucky. As an editor, I was able to call on some favors. I had several college students do beta reads for free. I did trades of the content edit with a couple of friends. I got a discount off my copyedit ($225) and proofreads ($532) (yes you read that right, I did two proofreads which I highly recommend. Typos still slip through.) For most people your editing will be your highest expense. To reduce it, join a writing group, ask your pickiest and most critical friend for a read, and find beta readers. There is no substitute for a professional edit, but if your manuscript is already pretty clean, you can keep the cost down.

Then what people aren't expecting: Other. I spent $30 on advertising. One event I'm doing has a $100 fee. One person (not a friend) who I asked to write a short piece to be included in my book, I needed to pay $50 to. Registering your copyright costs $35. Each time you upload a new version of your book, there is a cost. At most of the events, I need to sell at least some books to the bookstore directly, so I have 208 copies right now in my trunk, which cost $326 (the more you buy and the slower you ship them affects the cost so there's not a strict cost per book for me to purchase them). These extra expenses added up to $381.

I am still anticipating another $400 invoice from my intern for her last work and for the posters and shipping. I am thinking about placing an ad in Shelf Awareness. I am designing and will shortly be printing bookmarks. I will be driving to all of these events. So I'll easily go over $5000, and maybe even head towards $6000 before all is said and done. My paperback is priced at $14.95 and the ebook is at $4.99. It will take a lot of books for me to earn back my costs on this book. So for those of you thinking that self-publishing is easy and cheap, it isn't. Oh, it's also taken me most of this past year to do all of the above, so it's also not terrifically fast.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

"I was fifteen years old when my parents sent me away to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls."

I loved camp, I highly recommend camp, and it's strange to see it presented as a punishment. For she was "sent away" to the camp after an incident.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Calling North Carolina book bloggers

The Charlotte chapter of the Women's National Book Association is hosting an event on November 10 at 7:00 pm, all about book blogs and reviews. Are you a book blogger in the area? We're looking for a few more panelists. Please comment and I'll get in touch if you're interested! We'd love to have a few more opinions!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

“Waiting On”: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.

Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?

Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin's engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

Publishing September 15, 2014 by W. W. Norton and Company.

Teaser Tuesdays: Life After Life

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson p. 83

"Ursula's breathing was harsh and raspy, her breath thickening in her chest. The world boomed and receded like the sea in a giant shell."

Ursula has the flu, and it's 1918 which doesn't bode well.

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last by Patience Bloom

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Up next:
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman
The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne