High adventure and inspiration

 Do you like a touch of inspiration with your real-life adventure?

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Tby Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin errorism and Build Nations — One School a3cupsoftea.jpgt a Time

OK, I’ll admit I picked up this book because “everyone’s reading it.” It was featured in The Seattle Public Library’s “September Project” and the author Greg Mortenson, mountain climber turned humanitarian, spoke at the Library (listen to the podcast).  But what really grabbed me once I started reading this book were the descriptions of mountain climbing in the forbidding Karkoram mountains of northern Pakistan and Mortenson’s encounters with tribal people in Korphe, a village nestled high in the mountains, who had never seen foreigners before. Continue reading “High adventure and inspiration”

Wisconsin on my mind

Maybe it’s the dark cold winters and the subsequently long hours spent indoors but a whole lot of writing is going on in the state of Wisconsin. And a lot of it is quality fiction. Two authors new to me live in Wisconsin − Jesse Lee Kercheval author of The Alice Stories, (connected stories poignantly written about the domestic life of one young family through the years); Space: A Memoir and the novel Museum of Happiness, lives in Madison; and Lauren Fox, author of Still Life with Husband, a humorous novel of marriage, lives in Milwaukee.

Lady of the Snakes book coverWisconsin is the locale for three additional novels by authors who have obviously spent considerable time there. The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer acutely describes one young woman’s dilemma over her impending marriage to a suddenly gravely injured fiancé. In You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen, a young college student cares and becomes emotionally drawn to a young married woman with ALS. In Lady of the Snakes, author Rachel Pastan describes a scholarly new mother who struggles with her subject – 19th century Russian literature, specifically the diaries of the wife of novelist Grigory Karkov – and the demands of family life including a toddler daughter.

I invite you to come inside and visit Wisconsin and its fertile literary landscape. ~ Susan

Happy Birthday, Betty MacDonald!

image-of-egg-and-i-book-cover-courtesy-of-pat-sum.jpgEvery so often history offers us a chance to revisit a good book. This March is the centennial of the birth of Betty MacDonald, author of The Egg and I (1945) which is a memoir of life on a “chicken ranch” on the Olympic peninsula near Chimacum from 1927-1931. Betty observed the very rural and undeveloped farmland and forest and commented on the facts about farm living. Her large cast iron cookstove which she nicknamed “Stove” was a constant source of frustration for her; baby chicks seemed to be self-destructive; her neighbors throw-backs from evolutionary development of the species. She wrote the book after her divorce and she had remarried and moved to Vashon Island. Here’s a sample:

“By one o’clock on winter Sundays the house was shining clean, my hair was washed, Bob had on clean clothes and dinner was ready. Usually, just as we sat down to the table, as if by prearranged signal, the sun came out. True it shone with about as much warmth and lust as a Victorian spinster and kept darting behind clouds as if it were looking for its knitting and sticking hits head out again with an apologetic smile, but it was sun and not rain. The mountains, either in recognition of the sun or Sunday, would have their great white busts exposed and I expected momentarily to have them clear their throats and start singing Rock of Ages in throaty contraltos.”

                                                                   ~ The Egg and I. p. 77 Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Betty MacDonald!”

The New Gothics: less romance, more horror

the-keep-by-jennifer-egan.jpgPopular in the 1970s, gothic romance was defined by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: dark and stormy night, castle or manor house with frightened fleeing maiden in a nightgown on the book cover. Other popular authors in this genre included Anya Seton, Phyllis Whitney, Dorothy Eden and Victoria Holt. For the past two decades, fewer gothics have been written —until now. The new gothics are similar to the old ones — with less romance and more horror.

The River Wife by Jonis Agee
In 1930, when she arrives in the remote Missouri boot heel, the newest DuCharme wife, young Hedi, discovers a legacy of piracy, illicit love, murder and deceit and faces her own trials when it seems her new husband is carrying on the family tradition. Continue reading “The New Gothics: less romance, more horror”

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Children’s Book Blogs

Planet Esme BlogHave you ever wondered how to keep up with the thousands of children’s books that are published in a year? Have you always wanted to be able to know more about a book than what you can look through at a bookstore or read the reviews about on amazon.com? Well, here are a few blogs about children’s books that can start you on your way. Check them out, find the ones you like best and if you look back at them every now and then you’ll be able to keep up with and enjoy the wonderful world of children’s books. Here are my five favorites. ~ Mary

Planet Esme
Esme Codell is a children’s book author who describes herself as a “professional readiologist.” Her blog is at the very top of my list of sites to check daily.

Bees Knees Reads
Written by sisters Kim Baise and Nancy Arruda (publisher of Bees Knees Books), who are also mothers of young children and children’s book authors.

Black Threads in Kid’s Lit: Exploring African American Picture Books and other Fanciful Topics
Written by author and quilter Kira E. Hicks.

Book Buds
Written by Anne Boles Levy, author and mother of a young child. She just wants to share what’s new in children’s literature.

Just One More Book
Just One More Book is a thrice-weekly podcast which promotes and celebrates literacy and great children’s books.