Bookish Thoughts: Meet me in Paradise

Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher is one of two romatical books I’ve read lately that had something in common ( more on that later).

This book, first of all, has both romance and comedy. Falling in the chute to the plane and getting a goose egg? Check! I may have snorted quite a few time while reading this book.

Marin is our hapless heroine in this story. Marin plays it safe, never going on adventures nor even leaving her home state of Tennessee. Entrusted with her little sisters care after a tragedy while they were young, Marin takes to heart that adventures are dangerous and not worth the risk.

And then thing happen. And it is a fun read, and sexy! But there is a tremor of emotion just under the surface, something that will change Marin’s life. Just like life, this book has beauty and sorrow in it and how that characters deal with it is where I have fallen in love.

Both books had a heroine walk away from the romantic interest. Not because of a huge fight. But because sometimes in life the choices you have suck. What I love and adore, is these books have the heroine figuring it out. Coping with grief and trauma on their own, starting the healing process AND THEN bringing the guy in at the end. In terms of the story, that break was short even tho chronologically it was a while.

In the beginning, Lucas (our handsome hero) fixes almost everything for Marin. He gets her to the island. He gets her to go on adventures. Then helps her through the roughest point. But healing after that? Learning who you are and what your capable of? Proving to yourself who you are with no one else’s lense?

That is priceless.

I dislike the narrative that women need a man to be complete. This book doesn’t use it. Not even a hint. The relationship is meaningful because she can do it on her own. Lucas is the adventure she chooses.

Bookish Thoughts: A Tale for the Time Being

I’m thankful that I found Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being during my last tour of Barnes & Noble. In addition to being a great story, it made me think about writing and reading and the relationship between them.

First off, just in case you decide to drop everything and buy it: this book should have trigger warnings. Intense bullying, attempted rape, suicide attempts.

The books I think of myself as reading have none of those things. And yet this Buddhist magical book sucked me in and kept me enraptured. This book is dense and playful and all the things I love about reading and the things I hate. Alternating POV and perspectives, appendices, foot notes and the conversation between reader and writer and what it means to walk in the world.

One of the things that caught me off guard was the way the author is inserted into the narrative. She’s in the book- Ruth– and if my reading is correct the one doing the footnotes. The Ruth parts, interestingly enough is written in 3rd person, while the alternating narrative is the diary of a teenager in Japan. What tipped me off was one of the jacket blurb said it was a blend of fact and fiction.

Here is an interview and questions for the author on the publishers website. I couldn’t find mention of it anywhere else which surprised me.

Because I love the way things are pushed and pulled in and out of view, even what type of book you think you’re reading. I found it tragic, funny, lovely and lonely. And when it was over it made me want enough to leaf through the appendices.

Book Review: Hendrick Groen

This week you get a two-fer! Both “The Secret Diary of Hendrick Groen 83 1/4 Years Old” and “Two Old Men and a Baby, or How Hendrick and Evert Get Themselves Into a Jam”

I read Two Old Men and a Baby first, it was on one of the fabled B&N tables I love so much. At first, I wasn’t sure about it- bit then I snickered. And then a laugh. And I knew I was all in. It is a funny farce of an escapade. It does have multiple viewpoints and I will admit that about halfway through I stopped reading some of them.

The Secret Diary takes place after the Baby book, but was written first. It is in first person and told exclusively in first person. It was heart warming with a gentle humor- but I wasn’t snickering into my coffee quite as much. And that’s ok. It was still a book I’d recommend (otherwise I wouldn’t put it on here LOL).

That’s all for these two– I have lots more to catch you up on! This is the first time I’m trying to do this on my phone so forgive me any misspelling and formatting errors.

Ta, my Lovelies!

B&N: some thoughts

It surprise no one that I love a book store? If you are shocked… I ain’t got nothing for ya. Have you been under a rock my whole life? 3 out of 4 of my first jobs were in bookstores. And I loved them.

I got away a bit, by reading on my tablet. My Nook. And it’s ok for books, I like them just fine? Bit I absolutely can’t stand reading a magazine that way. It’s… Hinky. Too many quirks to it. And I’ve started reading a lot more magazines, so I’ve been visiting local Barnes & Noble stores. Well, one local to home, and one local to work.

My peeps, I am in trouble. In addition to the magazines, I am finding books, glorious ink and paper books that are a joy to behold! And hold and read and not worryabout dropping in the toilets or in the parking lot at work and shattering the screen. And in a time when connections are so precious, paper and ink win over the tablet

Although to be fair I am writing this on the tablet, so it is still being used.

Pre-pandemic, I would buy my cards in a Barnes and Noble, and some magazines. Now… Oh, they have tables with… Gasp! … Sales! Buy 2 get 1 free! Buy 1 get 2nd half off! And it’s so much easier to graze… Um, peruse titles in the store. Although the maze getting through Science Fiction and Fantasy is bloopy, it’s still easier to pick out a book than on a reading app.

(Don’t talk to me about the free books, and discounted pricing on e-readers. I know! I know!)

((and double don’t bring up the kindle. There’s a reason I’m on a nook))

So in the past couple of moths I’ve been to 3 different stores. The local one in Stockton is super nice, but they don’t have the selection I would like for literary magazines. That En Bloc I loved? Nope. Zoetrope? subTerrain ? Nope nada zero zilch. I get it, the demographics aren’t there.

The one near my work had more, but my friend when I was talking about demographics and needing a place that was.?? Hmmm… More literate? Knew exactly where to go! And I did find bunches there! And the problem with asking for the titles I want to read is… I didn’t know I wanted to read them until I picked them up. Some, I didn’t know existed! But being able to flip through pages? Get little sips of language and decide yes or no? Oh yes, yes please!

And that’s something that I missed with books too. I am a serial flip to the back of the book, make sure it’s a happy ending, flip back and keep reading kind of girl. (And yes, I’ll get back to reviewing actual books and magazines soon.)

Ah, books. I’ve missed you.

That Weird Writer Friend

I am that weird writer friend, the one who sends out cards (and will even to people they don’t know!). Recently, I leveled up my game.

In my defense., I’d been thinking about it for a minute or two. And I did message her before doing it. Essentially, I created a character to write a letter… to a character that entrances and bedevils my sister from another mother. If you’d like to see what they’re up to, Rie posted about it on her blog which you can find here:

If you’d like to learn more about Jo and her companions, you can find them on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, to name a few (I originally had links but spaced and lost them! Oh no! Look up Rie Sheridan Rose, you’ll thank me? She has lots of different types of stories, including Jo’s escapades. Want poetry? She writes it. Horror? Yup. Fantasy? She has you covered!)

If I had a nickle for every card I wrote, it’d be a lot of Nickles! This one was different– Ive written poems in cards, or short short stories for kids. But creating a character to write to another character was a new one for me. Not sure what made me do it, bit I’m glad I did.

And extra happy that I have writer friends who roll with it!

Book Review: Creatures: A Novel

Hello my lovelies! Today I thought I’d talk to you about Creatures: A Novel by Crissy Van Meter. It’s the first physical book I’ve read in a while. I’ve read on my Nook, and physical magazines… but books? For enjoyment? Not so much.

On that last trip to Barnes & Noble, I found a couple of tables with “Buy 2 Get 1 Free!” Normally, I just walk on by. I enjoy reading on my Nook. It’s convenient. I can adjust the font size. But there is nothing quite like holding a book in your hands and smelling the pages as you read.

I picked up this one in particular because of the little sea creatures on the cover, and the setting being close to the sea (an island, so. Yah). The voice captured me, drew me in and held me even through the parts I hate.

And yes, there are things in this book I normally skip right out of. Drugs—especially parents using a lot of drugs. Van Meter handles it in a variety of ways. Time flows like the ocean, back and forward. The academic questions and answers regarding whales that explore Evangeline’s relationship with her dead father, who looms just as surely as the dead whale out on the beach. The innovation in the way the story is told, including an insert of the very far future (and only one! I wanted more!), is beautifully done. It comes organically from the story– which we all know means that Van Meter put a lot of effort into it. It was worth it.

Overall, the character’s voice drew me in and kept me, even past the time where I knew the subject matter wasn’t what I normally read. I was engrossed. I was rooting for Evangeline. Creatures is the perfect example of why it’s so important to find the right voice for our stories. Because that voice will carry even the most reluctant reader through.

En Bloc: Magazine Review

Hello! Welcome back, my lovelies! It’s Magazine Monday… a day early LOL

I really enjoy literary magazines—although the price can be off putting, getting the right one can feel like you’ve found a magical unicorn. When I go to Barnes & Noble, I generally only buy my magazines there. I mostly read on my Nook. Once upon a time, the selection at any given B&N would be relatively the same. Not so this last time. I don’t know if they are selling out, or if the different stores carry different magazines. Also, sometimes the publish date seems like it was a long time ago, but with the ramifications of Covid across so many industries, I’m willing to hold my piece on this.  However, this is an interesting conundrum: I have one near my work and one closer to my home.  If they carry differing magazines, I need to figure out when the ones I like come in at each one. If they are the same and just selling out quick, well. That makes life So. Much. Easier.

I am not going to subscribe. I don’t like reading magazines on my Nook, and the US Post Office has dropped the ball. When Covid hit, I subscribed to 2 magazines. One of them I didn’t get 3 issues of. And  it’s bi-monthly! So half the issues! Yes, they sent them out to me, but really? Once things started opening up… I want to go and browse.

Today I want to talk to you about one of those browsing finds. This is from the Momcation trip to B&N. I found a little imported Literary Zine called En Bloc. It is imported from the UK, and so is one of the ones in the US that has a little bit of a hefty price tag.

The cover is eye catching and fun, a mustachioed popsicle sticking out its tongue. I am happy to say that the insides are also eye catching. The Letter from the Editor(Samuel Leach) has a large chunk of it that has a line drawn through it, and then he begins. Again. Kind of like the last bit of life has been for us.  This magazine has photography, an interview with Bill Plympton, poetry and of course the fiction that I loved. Both the for the enjoyment of reading the story, and for the techniques.

Because I write too. It’s always awesome to find writer’s excelling at telling stories in a different way. “Baby Brownie” by Ian Cowmeadow tells the story both in the past and future. It is handled really well, with the reader (me) never getting lost, and still engrossed in the story and not just geeking out over the writing. “Elanor’s Party” by Dave Gerow is one of the few stories I’ve read in Second Person perspective that really does grab you into the story and not let go.

The issue I found at B&N was the first issue. The second issue looks like it is out, based on their website (link below). I can’t wait to find it in the store.

The stories caught my eye, kept me interested. As I am a fickle, picky reader this is a great feeling! While I did read every story (I skipped most in other magazines—which will remain nameless), however there were 2 that stayed with me.

Overall verdict, not only will I buy again, it is the sort of magazine I want to share with my friends so we can talk about the stories.

En Bloc

https://enbloc.co.uk/shop/

Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels

By India Holton

For Social Media fix, I’ve been going to Redditt lately. I started when I realized that all the articles/stories I was reading on Facebook started over on the other platform. One of the things I discovered, much to my delight, is all of the different types of readers and writers over there. (I don’t know what it’s called—community? Thread?) And people who love books tend to share the love with other people.

I am finding that I love, love LOVE lighthearted  Fantasy-Romance mashups currently. It started with Gail Carringer and Rie Sheridan Rose. (Go check out their books. I’ll still be here when you come back!)

I’m here to share with you one of the books I found through Redditt: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton.

This story is a mad-cap romp. Celia is awaiting being called up to the high tea table with the lady pirates. Ned is… a many named, mysterious figure who has been contracted to kidnap, maim, kill or harass Celia. At least one. Possibly all three. And then there’s her dreadfully evil father, who writes (badly) and wants to subjugate women.

This has a lot of hilariously mangled literary references, and the writing sometimes delivers a heart-wrenching comment just as the laughter has escaped. I will admit that I might have enjoyed it more if I had read the Bronte sisters. But, Alas, I have not. I have read enough of Austen and others that I see the nods to comedy of manners, with a side eye to the skimming of the romance.  The pacing felt a bit off for me—too rushed and then too slow, until at the very end it settled back down again.

It’s a perfect book to settle down at the beach, or curl up in the air conditioning with a nice cuppa (iced) tea.

Oh Reader Magazine Issue 4

Hello, my lovelies!

As promised, I am going to start being on here more often. I am going to get to cracking with a review of a sweet little magazine I stumbled on at Barnes & Nobel during my Momcation: Oh Reader, Issue 4. I will admit, I kind of shrugged when I first saw it. I wasn’t sure what it was about, and I am such a picky reader that I was a little hesitant. It was displayed on a rack before you arrived at the magazine aisle, and has a picture of a woman reading on a pier with her feet in the water. I wasn’t sure what it was so I passed it by. Coming back from the magazine aisle, I picked it up, flipped through, and added it to my haul.

I am so glad I did. This magazine is like a warm hug for readers.

At the top of the magazine, it says “For the Love of Reading” and this magazine does not disappoint. It is not full or book reviews or recommendations (although there are a few). Instead, it has thoughtful essays on reading, on the love of books and how they can change our lives.

I read Every. Single. Essay. In “The Books we Carry,” by Drew Broussard, I saw a bit of my own book hoarding ways. How do we choose which to keep and which to carry with us? “Running to Somewhere” by Susanne Reece was a surprise, in that it is illustrated and I generally don’t like them quite that way. Sometimes it can feel like a comic (which I have no problem with, just not my cuppa), however this essay leaned into the words. The illustrations helped—oh yes, they enriched the story—added details to help the words sing. There are so many more articles—make sure to check out “Thirty Years of Friday Night Reading”—and fun takes on things too. “A Bookworm’s Guide to Reading Maladies” is super fun. Steven Stampone hits the nail on the head with his definition of Bookmarks “may be caused by reading “just one more chapter” until you pass out a 3 A.M. and wake up with page lines indented on your cheek.”

Oh Reader is a quirky, fun magazine that I will definitely be on the hunt for.

Oh Reader

http://www.ohreader.com

Summer 2021

8.99 US / 9.99 Canada

Momcation

I haven’t been by myself in a house for an extended amount of time in… Years. I always have my son (15) or my dad (95) around or coming back. It’s wonderful. I love my family. But….

I used to love living by myself too. I’ve always kept myself occupied– readings writing, television. I’m not one that gets bored and stays bored. The quiet is a friend of mine- it allows a moment of reflection, a deep sigh.

Thanks to Caltrans and my Best friend I just had that. A glorious Sunday through Thursday morning where I stayed in a house all by my lonesome. Caltrans closed the freeway that I need to get to work. (Not a work vacation, alas). My BF is travelling, and offered her house. I have to tell you….

It. Was. Glorious.

I wrote and sent out cards. I didn’t cook ANYTHING. Frozen all the way. And after work, I went to the real happiest place on earth, Barnes and Noble, and bought many wonderful magazines. One was brand new to me, called Oh, Reader and I read every single article in it. Which has inspired me– to do magazine reviews. Share what I’m loving. Maybe a few book reviews in there too.

The fact is that I miss blogging. I miss sharing the things I love, and boy do I love books and magazines!

I love my family. Of course I do.

But I missed myself, and didn’t even realize what had been missing in my life was ME.