30 September 2010

Spotlight On . . . Joyce Hinnefeld

Welcome to the Literary Road Trip and my Spotlight On . . . Joyce Hinnefeld. When I had the pleasure of meeting Joyce at BookExpo America (BEA) this last May, I discovered that she lives in eastern Pennsylvania. That gave me the opportunity to introduce her to all of you. Joyce's second novel, Stranger Here Below, was published just this week by Unbridled Books.

Today Joyce wonders about her own connection with place. Are authors always objective observers, standing to the side? Or can their characters pull them into the circle and welcome them home?

Writing from the Outside

For someone whose fiction almost always springs from engagement with a place, I find it surprisingly hard to identify myself with one specific geographic locale. How can I write about being a Pennsylvania writer, I’ve been wondering as I’ve pondered this blog post, when I don’t really consider myself a Pennsylvania anything? Nor an Indiana writer, nor a Chicago writer, nor an upstate New York or New York City or Kentucky writer—to name some of the places I’ve lived, or written about, or both.

I wonder if all writers consider themselves, on some level, outsiders. We are perpetually peering in windows, looking on at other lives, imagining our way out of where we are and into someone else’s skin. I used to say that I managed to write about a place only after I’d left it. And that included places I’d only visited. I worked on my novel Stranger Here Below for many years, and never, during that time, was I in Kentucky—where the novel is set—for more than ten days at a time. When I was in Kentucky, most of my time was spent perusing the archives at the two communities where much of the novel is set: Berea College and the former Shaker community at Pleasant Hill.

But Appalachia—specifically the hills of eastern Kentucky—figures prominently in the novel too, and I wrote portions of the novel set in the fictional Appalachian town of Torchlight while I was staying in a remote town in New York state, in the middle of a gray and desolate March. Staring out my window at two overgrown spruce trees hiding the front of a rickety old house across the street helped me conjure a different, but equally sad and neglected, place.

I think that’s how our imaginations often work, and I think putting the imagination to work is what gets a fiction writer—and also a poet—to her or his desk each day. One of my favorite poems by William Stafford, “Writing the World,” begins “In the stillness around me that no one can cross / I am writing for life,” and ends: “. . . come true, sing / flame out, be me—who I might have been.”

But gradually, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to admit that there’s more to life than constantly seeking someone else whose skin I can try to enter (another “who I might have been”). And part of admitting that has been acknowledging my need for community, and my need to feel a part of the place where I’m living, right now. For the last thirteen years, that place has been the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, and in my first published novel, In Hovering Flight, I came home to roost, so to speak, and created fictional worlds in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and in coastal New Jersey—worlds that were very much rooted in those real places.

Pennsylvania is so rich in history that it can almost feel overwhelming at times. Right here where I live, in little Bethlehem, PA, for instance, there’s an interesting Moravian tradition that dates back to the early eighteenth century. I love the fact that that history is part of my teaching life (at Moravian College) and of my daughter’s life at school (at Moravian Academy).

There are rich, and endless, possibilities for creating fictional people and worlds that are rooted in this state’s real history—but there are also important realities here in Pennsylvania to write about right now. I spent much of the summer of 2010 working on an essay about, among other things, efforts to dam the Delaware River in the mid-twentieth century and ongoing threats to the Delaware River watershed today—for instance, from plans to drill for natural gas throughout the geologic formation known as the Marcellus Shale. We in Pennsylvania need to be alert to these threats for lots of reasons—most pressingly, perhaps, because of what it could mean for our water supply.

I came to understand more about the history of, and current threats to, the Delaware River Basin essentially by accident, when I was doing research for In Hovering Flight. One of that novel’s central characters, Addie, becomes involved with a fictional environmental organization that I called the Bucks County Mothers of the Earth. The leader of that group, a character I called Lynn, was considerably more prominent in an earlier draft of the novel—until my wise and thoughtful editor, Fred Ramey, helped me see the problems with her character and with my borderline stereotyped depiction of 1970s-era environmental crusaders.

Though she became less significant in the novel, Lynn stuck with me, as my characters tend to do. What was interesting about her was something I hadn’t yet learned enough about; in my original conception, she was someone whose family had owned a farm along the Delaware River, one that was seized by the Army Corps of Engineers in connection with plans to build a dam at a site called Tocks Island. I didn’t forget about Lynn, or her imagined family, or that strange time along the upper Delaware that I’d learned about in a book I found at the Moravian College Library (in which I was seeking more background on the lower Delaware River Valley, where the characters in In Hovering Flight live). When I dug deeper and started learning more, what emerged, instead of a fictional story about environmental radical Lynn, was an essay about the complications of property ownership, about land and water and our dangerous notion that there will always be plenty of both.

But it was Pennsylvania girl Lynn—still as real to me as the people I’ve since spoken to about the Tocks Island story—who took me there. Maybe “who I might have been,” in this case, is actually me: a Pennsylvania resident with hopes for many years of clean water, valued and protected land, and ongoing attention to this state’s rich history and vulnerable resources.
_______

Thanks, Joyce. I am often struck by how connections to place can happen. Sometimes by accident; sometimes through unexpected avenues. Imagination leads to research that leads to awareness of community. (Photos by Joyce Hinnefeld; click to see full size.)




For more on Joyce, be sure to visit her website and blog.

Joyce Hinnefeld is the Cohen Chair in English and Literature at Moravian in Bethlehem, PA. She is the author of a short story collection, Tell Me Everything and Other Stories (University Press of New England, 1998), which was awarded the 1997 Breadloaf Writer’s Conference Bakeless Prize in fiction in 1997. Her first novel, In Hovering Flight, was a #1 Indie Next Pick. Her second novel, Stranger Here Below, is just out from Unbridled Books.

For more posts in the Literary Road Trip project, visit the LRT link page. Thanks to Jenn of Jenn's Bookshelves for hosting this fabulous project.

Click for more

29 September 2010

Wordless Wednesday 97

National Book Festival, Washington, DC, 2010


For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Click for more

28 September 2010

Today's Read: Hush by Eishes Chayil


MizB at Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesdays. Here's how it works: Grab your current read; let the book fall open to a random page; and share 2 “teaser” sentences from that page. For more teasers, click on through to MizB's blog.

2009
Devory, can you hear me?

It's hard to write a letter to the dead. It is easier to talk with you directly, as if we are having a real conversation. Sometimes, though, writing is strangely reassuring. When I finish the letter to you I fold the paper into an envelope, tape it shut, and drop it into the mailbox. There is no address on it, no stamp, or anything. It's just a small, white letter, and I can pretend it gets to you. (p. 4)
—From Hush by Eishes Chayil. This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance review copy and may not match the published book. For more about this novel, please see the Bloomsbury Kids / Walker website. (Source: review, see review policy.)

Hush at Powell's
Hush at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Click for more

27 September 2010

Review: Ten Degrees of Reckoning by Hester Rumberg

In 1990, Judith and Michael Sleavin joined a rare fraternity when they boarded the Melinda Lee, a 47-foot ocean-worthy sailboat, to circumnavigate the globe. After solid preparation and more than adequate experience, they and their two children, Ben and Annie, took to a life at sea. Three years later, just a couple dozen or so miles off the coast of New Zealand, a freighter, cruising without lights or radar, plowed into the sailboat on a windy, wavy night.

Before the second day was over, Judith was alone on an overturned raft, paralyzed from the waist down, praying and fighting to stay alive long enough to tell her story to the world. It took more than a decade of therapy, lawsuits, and the help of a family friend for Judith to finally get her memories onto the page.

In Ten Degrees of Reckoning, Hester Rumberg talks about the special relationship that the Sleavins shared with each other and with Ben and Annie. From the happy days of fishing, homeschooling, and the familiar routine of sailing to the unimaginable horror and heartbreak of that cold November night, Rumberg tells us the tale that Judith swore she would share with the world. Although painful and unbelievably sad to read, the memoir is also a tribute to Judith's strength and determination and to the memories of her husband and children.

Highly recommended to fans of Into the Wild, The Perfect Storm, Endurance, and Into Thin Air as well as of the many modern sailing survival memoirs such as Adrift and Survive the Savage Sea.

This book was reviewed as part of the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge (click to join the fun). For information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010.


Ten Degrees of Reckoning at an Indie

Published by Putnam / Amy Einhorn Books 2009
ISBN-13: 9780399155352
YTD: 84
Source: Bought (see review policy
)
Rating: B
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

Click for more

25 September 2010

Weekend Cooking: Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

_______

It's that time of year when many of us in the Northern Hemisphere are scrambling to get our garden produce under control and preserved for the winter. Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere are just starting to dream of gardening.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to attend a talk given by one of our local Agricultural Extension agents and learned that I was probably not freezing and canning safely. If you are using recipes that are more than about 10 years old, then you too might be tempting fate. The varieties of fruits and vegetables that we buy today, even heirloom varieties, have different acidity levels than those used even thirty years ago. Thus older freezing and canning recipes have to be adjusted to meet current safety standards.

Because I was using canning cookbooks written in the late 1970s, and recipes from my grandmothers, I decided that it was time to update. One of the books the agent suggested was The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader, which I immediately went out and bought.

There is much to love about this cookbook, but the parts I turn to again and again are the charts. For example, there is chart that tells you how to prepare produce for freezing, one that tells you proper canning and freezing temperatures, and another that tells you which foods can be processed in a water bath.

The book covers canning, freezing, and drying and includes a description of each method, equipment, safety issues, and step-by-step directions. There are two levels of recipes: those for preserving and those that use the preserved produce. All the recipes I've tried, from soups to pickles to jams, have been successful both in taste and in preservation. We tend to like our food a bit spicier than the recipes in the book, but it's no problem to adjust the seasoning to our taste.

Here is a soup that I have made and frozen successfully. See my notes at the end.

Tomato-Basil Soup

Yield: 20 cups
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 6 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 pounds plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Zest of 2 small orange
In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, cover,and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Add the tomatoes, stock, lime juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the basil and orange zest.

Transfer the soup to a food processor and puree.

Cool. Ladle into two 10-cup freezer containers, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Chill in the refrigerator, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and serve hot or cold.

Beth Fish's notes: I saute the onions in olive oil instead of butter and use less fat. I sometimes use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian. I've added hot chile peppers to boost the flavor. I always add black pepper. I freeze this in 5-cup batches because there are only two of us. I use an immersion blender instead of my food processor. When I serve the soup later, I often add leftover cooked vegetables, rice, or noodles.


Published by Storey Publishing, 2002
ISBN-13: 9781580174589
YTD: 83
Source: bought (see review policy)
Rating: B
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Click for more

24 September 2010

Featuring . . . The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton

This Friday and every Friday for the next several months I'll be featuring a book in the Harper Perennial Imprint. Some were recently published, some will be released later this year, all are worth a closer look.

Over the past weeks, I've introduced you to the great variety of books that are published under the Harper Perennial imprint. I've showcased nonfiction, short stories, six-word memories, and literary fiction. This week, I'm talking about another aspect of Harper Perennial: their Rediscovered Classic line.

I love the idea of bringing fantastic older books back onto the bookshelves and introducing them to a new generation of readers. The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton is a semi-autobiographical novel about a family of four sisters. It was originally published in 1962 and was a best-seller. When it was reissued in the spring of 2009, it became an Indie Next pick.

Here's the publisher's summary:

A timeless American classic rediscovered—an unforgettable saga of a heartland family

On a farm in western Missouri during the first half of the twentieth century, Matthew and Callie Soames create a life for themselves and raise four headstrong daughters. Jessica will break their hearts. Leonie will fall in love with the wrong man. Mary Jo will escape to New York. And wild child Mathy's fate will be the family's greatest tragedy. Over the decades they will love, deceive, comfort, forgive—and, ultimately, they will come to cherish all the more fiercely the bonds of love that hold the family together.
This book has a couple of winning characteristics for me. I've always loved family sagas, and I enjoy books set on the farmlands of the Midwest. In addition, I find it hard to resist a novel about four young women who lived during a time when expectations based on gender were beginning to change. Carleton was born in Missouri in 1913, and I have read that the novel reflects her own life.

Here's what author Jane Smiley had to say about the Carleton and this Rediscovered Classic:


One of the great things about Harper Perennial publications are the extras you'll find at the end of their books. The Moonflower Vine is no exception. There is also a reading guide available on the Harper Perennial website.

This book was featured as part of my Spotlight on the Harper Perennial imprint. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. See the alphabetized review index to see what others are saying. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.

The Moonflower Vine at Powell's
The Moonflower Vine at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Harper Perennial, 2009
ISBN-13:9780061673238

Click for more

23 September 2010

Review: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Tom Rachman's debut novel, The Imperfectionists, is a collection of stories that find common ground in an English-language newspaper, started in Rome in 1954, and focus on the various people associated with it. Each chapter centers around a single character at a specific point of crises in his or her life, and each of these stories could almost stand alone. The beauty of the novel, however, is that characters appear in more than one context and in more than one time period and from more than one perspective, creating a full sense of each person.

We meet managing editors, publishers, owners, young reporters, has-beens, wannabes, and copyeditors. And all the characters are indeed imperfect—some so flawed or naive that it's almost painful to meet them. There are, in fact, few people to like; yet there are many to root for, which makes the book somewhat sad but not depressing, The kernels of hope we find along the way, help take the edge off.

As we learn about each employee, we also learn about the newspaper and how it develops over some fifty-odd years. From newsprint and typesetters and street reporters to computerized layout and electronic filing, the changing rhythms and personality of the paper itself mirror those of the world at large.

Reading The Imperfectionists is almost like putting together a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. At first you see only a little bit, but as the novel progresses, you understand that the pieces interlink, extending chronologically and geographically, to create a picture that leaves you just a bit breathless.

I listened to the audio edition (Recorded Books) read by Christopher Welch, who perfectly guides listeners through the novel, helping us visualize the characters but giving us room for our own interpretations. My full audio review was published by AudioFile magazine.

The Imperfectionists at an Indie
The Imperfectionists at Powell's
The Imperfectionists at Book Depository
For the audio version, see the buttons in the sidebar.
These links lead to affiliate programs

Published by Random House / Dial Press 2010
ISBN-13: 9780385343671
YTD: 82
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: A−
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

Click for more

22 September 2010

Wordless Wednesday 96

Steam-Powered Tram


For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Click for more

21 September 2010

Review: The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy

Will McLean is one of the few English majors at the venerable Carolina Military Institute in Charleston. Before he walks through the gates to begin his senior year in 1966, he is still just a boy; by the time he wears the ring nine months later, he is full-grown and has seen the world for what it really is.

It's hard to believe that The Lords of Discipline is the first Pat Conroy book I have ever read. It is equally hard to believe that I would have fallen in love with an emotionally difficult book about a military college.

The book is fiction but gains its authenticity from Conroy's own undergraduate experience at the The Citadel, also located in Charleston. In fact, in an author's note (read by Conroy himself in the audio edition), he mentions that The Citadel banned the book on campus for more than decade. Although the details and the people were born in Conroy's mind, The Lords of Discipline speaks the truth.

At the hub of Will McLean's story is the horrors of the Phebe system--the sanctioned breaking down of young men during their first year of college. Hazing is too tame a word for what the Plebes endure from the upper classmen, and the majority of students who matriculate in the fall never make it to spring.

Piling up on the negative side of life at The Institute is racism, social class divisions, and the abuse of power. On the other hand, Will recalls the deep bonds he felt with his roommates of four years and the strength of brotherhood that seemed unbreakable behind the veil of youth.

The Lords of Discipline is one of the most emotionally intense books I have ever read. Although I know my connection with the novel was strengthened by the brilliant narration by Dan John Miller, I can't imagine not recommending the print version. As I said in my audio review for AudioFile magazine, "The combination of Conroy's story and Miller's rendition creates an unforgettable and lingering audio experience."

Although Conroy presents both sides of attending a military college, I more often return to the dark images and the potential hypocrisy of those who preach the sacredness of the code.

The Lords of Discipline at Powell's
The Lords of Discipline at Book Depository
For the audio version, see the buttons in the sidebar.
These links lead to affiliate programs

Published by Random House / Dial Press 2002 (originally published 1980)
ISBN-13: 9780553381566
YTD: 81
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: A+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

Click for more

20 September 2010

BBAW Giveaway Winners + One

I had six international giveaways that closed this morning. Here are the winners:


The winner of Man Gave Names to the All the Animals is

Linda B

Congratulations!

__________

Here are winners from the BBAW giveaways

The winner of the three Amy Einhorn Books giveaway is

Amanda from Tales and Treats

The winners of the In My Book bookmark/cards are

Autumn from From the TBR Pile

Dorte H from DJ's Krimblog

The winner of the Comfort Zone giveaway is

Emily L

The winner of the Hidden Gem giveaway is

Darren from Bart's Bookshelf

The winner of the Harper Perennial giveaway is


A great big Congratualtions! to you all!

Click for more

18 September 2010

Weekend Cooking: Review: Time for Dinner by Pilar Guzman, Jenny Rosenstrach, and Alanna Stang

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

_______

The seasons are changing, which means school's back in session in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern is beginning to look forward to warmer days. In either case, families are busy and cooks are looking for a little help. Pilar Buman, Jenny Rosenstrach, and Alanna Stang have come to your rescue. Time for Dinner lives up to its subtitle and indeed offers "Strategies, Inspiration, and Recipes for Family Meals Every Night of the Week."

Before I run you through the book, I have to comment on how beautifully it's put together. Every page has eye appeal. Throughout you'll find black and white drawings, clear and colorful photographs, attractive fonts, and a pleasing layout. This is a cookbook you'll enjoy looking at and reading as much as cooking from.

I love the chapter titles because they reflect the authors' casual, playful, yet practical approach to cooking. Here are two: "If I Could Just Make It to Wednesday" and " I Want Something Simple, Fast, and Hard to Screw Up." Don't they reflect real life?

One of the chapters I really like starts you off with a Sunday dinner and then tells you how to transform the leftovers into new meals early in the week. For example a dinner consisting of a pork roast, squash, barley, and apples can later become sandwiches, soup, muffins, salad, and more. There is a photograph of each transformation.

The recipes use easy-to-find ingredients and include a wide range of flavors, from Asian to Mexican to European. There are quick recipes, slow dishes, healthy use-what's-in-the-pantry meals, and recipes that can be adapted for individual preferences. Each one comes with approximate cooking and prep times, a photograph, and clear and easy directions.

One chapter helps you base a meal on what you have on hand by suggesting three different meals centered on a single ingredient. For example, if you have fresh tomatoes, you could make a pasta dish, sandwiches, or a tabbouleh salad, depending on what else you have in the house.

Here are some recipes to give you an idea what you'll find: Creamy Chicken with Shallots; Grilled Skirt Steak with Blender Chimichurri; Halibut, Chickpea, & Squash Stew; Spring-Vegetable Omelet; Personal-Pan Lasagnas; and Beans and Toast.

Lemony Chicken with Potatoes & Gemolata

Active time: 20 minutes; total time 30 minutes
Serves 4
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 6 smallish new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • juice of 2 lemons
Gremolata
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 small handful Italian parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • salt
1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat half the oil and brown the chicken with the garlic turning it a few times, about 8 minutes. Remove all to a large bowl.

2. Add the remaining oil to the pan and brown the onion and potatoes, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the broth and juice, and increase the heat for about a minute, scraping up the brown bits in the pan. Return the chicken and its juices to the skillet. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until the potatoes are tender an the liquid has thickened, another 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile make the gremolata: On a cutting board, chop all the ingredients together finely but not too finely. Sprinkle the mixture over the dish before serving.

Time for Dinner at Powell's
Time for Dinner at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs

Published by Chronicle Books, August 2010
ISBN-13: 9780811877428
YTD: 81
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Click for more

17 September 2010

BBAW: Imprint Love and Giveaway

Today is the final day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010! This yearly event of giveaways, blog hopping, blogging, and awards is all about you! And you and you and you and me and is the brainchild of Amy from My Friend Amy.

Each day this week I'm hosting an international giveaway (winners announced on Monday, September 20), so I hope you come back to see what I have in store.

Today's BBAW topic is about blogging goals. I don't really know what my goals are, but I know that I feel strongly about a couple bookish things. One is audiobooks. For some of my thoughts on how to get listening, see the post I wrote yesterday for the BBAW blog.

Another is my imprint awareness mission. You might recall that I started out the week talking a bit about one of my favorite imprints. Thus I'm going to finish the week talking about another must-read imprint. In fact, if you are long-time reader of my blog, then you know that every Friday is imprint day at Beth Fish Reads.

Currently, I am featuring and collecting reviews of Harper Perennial Books. And I thought I would stick with tradition and turn the spotlight on Simon Van Booy's collection of five stories Love Begins in Winter.

When I first picked up this slim volume (about 200 pages), I started browsing the title story and found myself lost in it, almost forgetting to start from the beginning to let the story reveal itself as the author intended.

Here's just one passage that made me pause:

I open my cello case and smell my grandfather. I pick up the instrument and run my fingers tenderly up and down the strings. In each note of music lives every tragedy of the world and every moment of its salvation. . . . Music is only a mystery to people who want it explained. Music and love are the same. (p. 22)
Van Booy's prose is lyrical and sometimes almost stunningly beautiful. Although the collection cannot be called romance, the common thread is love. I would like to share parts of two reviews with you, both of which express my feelings:
  • Wendy, from CaribousMom, says: "Van Booy captures the essence of what makes us human, and how love can be found in the most unexpected places. "
  • Nancy, from Bookfoolery and Babble, says "Simon's writing is unflinchingly honest, an exploration of the flaws of humans and the love that binds them together."
Love Begins in Winter was an Indie Next pick for July 2009. For more about Simon Van Booy, visit his website.

This book was featured as part of my Spotlight on the Harper Perennial imprint. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. See the alphabetized review index to see what others are saying. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.

Love Begins in Winter at Powell's
Love Begins in Winter at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Harper Perennial, 2009
ISBN-13: 9780061661471

Giveaway

To get you started on some imprint love, Harper Perennial Books has generously donated three of its most recent releases so I can offer them to one of you. Here's what you get:


This is a great collection that should appeal to a wide range of readers. The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter is a novel of a modern life gone crazily off its tracks, The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle is novel about a veterinarian and her relationships with people and animals, and Vanishing by Deborah Willis is a collection of stories that explore the aftermath of broken relationships.

This giveaway is open worldwide and will run until I turn on my computer on Monday morning (September 20). To enter, you must fill out the form. A winner will be picked via random number generator, and I will delete all data after the winner is contacted.



Good luck and don't forget to check all my BBAW posts -- I have a giveaway each day.

Click for more

16 September 2010

BBAW: Hidden Gem of a Book and Giveaway

Today is the fourth day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010! This yearly event of giveaways, blog hopping, blogging, and awards is all about you! And you and you and you and me and is the brainchild of Amy from My Friend Amy.

Each day this week I'm hosting an international giveaway (winners announced on Monday, September 20), so I hope you come back to see what I have in store.

On this Thursday, BBAW asks us to talk about a book or two that we wish everyone would read. I'm spotlighting a novel I reviewed in April 2009 that I still think about: The Killing Tree by Rachel Keener. Here is a paragraph from my review:

No one seems to rest easy in the small-town world of Crooktop Mountain, and some secrets are held so closely that even those who have lived there all their lives are oblivious. Through Mercy Heron, Keener has expertly revealed the many layers of rural prejudices and hidden segments of Appalachian life. The Killing Tree is not a novel about the romance of a simpler life, it's an examination of a young woman who struggles to understand her family and her own conflicting hopes and expectations.
I found only three other reviews in the Book Blog Search Engine, and all were also positive. I'm not sure why this gem of novel did not get picked up by blogging world. Check out my review and give the book a shot if the premise appeals to you.

Giveaway

Today I am giving away three books from my own collection. I hope at least one will become a favorite of yours. I'm offering a mix of genres.



Sand Daughter by Sarah Bryant (gently read paperback) is a historical novel of a Bedouin woman set during the Crusades. A Gift from Brittany by Marjorie Price (gently read paperback) is a memoir that takes place in the French countryside. Day for Night by Frederick Reiken (gently read ARC) is a novel of interconnected stories.

This giveaway is open worldwide and will run until I turn on my computer on Monday morning (September 20). To enter, you must fill out the form. One winner will be picked via random number generator, and I will delete all data after the winner is contacted.



Good luck and don't forget to check all my BBAW posts -- I have a giveaway each day.

Click for more

15 September 2010

BBAW: Reading across the Genres and Giveaway

Today is the third day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010! This yearly event of giveaways, blog hopping, blogging, and awards is all about you! And you and you and you and me and is the brainchild of Amy from My Friend Amy.

Each day this week I'm hosting an international giveaway (winners announced on Monday, September 20), so I hope you come back to see what I have in store.

Today's topic is to talk about reading books under the influence of another blogger. I'll share one good experience and one not so good.

The good: One day on Twitter (doesn't everything start on Twitter?), there was enthusiastic talk about the audio edition of Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. I can't remember all the bloggers who were was talking about the book, but I know one of them was Heather from Capricious Reader. I had an advance readers copy (ARC) of the novel, but when learned how much others loved the audiobook, I decided to make it my very next listen. Thank you, thank you to Heather and everyone else in that discussion. I gave Major Pettigrew an A.

The bad: The members of my book club are all bloggers, and we sometimes push each other to read outside our comfort zone. For me, it was reading Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas. Although I finished the book, it was not one that changed my mind about the romance genre. I was surprised, however, that a light historical romance created such a lively discussion at our meeting. As I said in my review, we talked about "relationships, the reading habits of women, and the romance genre in general."

Giveaway

Today I am giving away three books from own collection. I hope at least one will encourage you to read outside your normal genres.


House Rules by Jodi Picoult (hardcover) is a novel that looks at autism. Sea Escape by Lynne Griffin (advance reader's copy) is a novel that looks at families and relationships. Enlightened Sexism by Susan Douglas (hardcover, nonfiction) explores the myth that sexism is no longer an issue.

This giveaway is open worldwide and will run until I turn on my computer on Monday morning (September 20). To enter, you must fill out the form. One winner will be picked via random number generator, and I will delete all data after the winner is contacted.

And, yes, the form is labeled "Confort." I noticed the typo too late and now I can't figure out how to correct it. Sigh.



Good luck and don't forget to check all my BBAW posts -- I have a giveaway each day.

Click for more

Wordless Wednesday 95

Tomato, September 2010


For more Wordless Wednesday, click here. If you missed my flower last week, click here.

Click for more

14 September 2010

BBAW: Interview Swap and Giveaway

Today is the second day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010! This yearly event of giveaways, blog hopping, blogging, and awards is all about you! And you and you and you and me. It is the brainchild of Amy from My Friend Amy.

Each day this week I'm hosting an international giveaway (winners announced on Monday, September 20), so I hope you come back to see what I have in store.

Today is all about getting to know book bloggers up close and personal through the annual interview swap. This year, I was lucky enough to get partnered with Heather from Buried in Books. Isn't that a great blog title? I think many of do feel as if we were buried in books.

If you're new to the BBAW interview swap concept, here's how it works. Participants are assigned a partner, who interview each other and post the conversation on their blog. So first take a look at what I asked Heather and get to know her if you haven't been by her blog before.

Then, to see what Heather asked me, pop on over to her blog and see what great questions she asked me. When your done reading her post, don't forget to pause long enough to explore Heather's blog.

Let's meet Heather, shall we?

Beth Fish Reads (BFR): How has the move from Florida to the Cape affected your life in books?

Buried in Books (BIB): Actually, I moved from Florida at the age of thirty one to Mooresville, North Carolina (just north of Charlotte) for my husband's job. We lived there ten years and then moved to Cape Cod. We've lived here for a little over a year. I've found that living in different places makes me want to read more about them. If I'm not reading a fantasy novel, I'm reading about somewhere I've been or lived. I recently read about a murder mystery in St. Augustine, Florida the oldest city in the United States and forty five minutes from where I grew up. Now I'm reading the whole series. I also had a murder mystery series I read by Barbara Parker set mainly in Miami that I read, first because I met her at a book signing in the book store I worked in and then because I really liked her. I read a mystery series set completely in the mountains of North Carolina while we lived there. And a mystery series about the Outer Banks while we lived in North Carolina. I also read travel guides. And ghost stories. Unfortunately I lent all those out and never got them back. I've also met some bloggers that write, "I used to live in Dennis" or had a great vacation on Cape Cod. It helps me make connections because this doesn't feel like home yet. I'm a Southern girl in the Northeast and no family. I am also very familiar with Virginia so love anything about Virginia. I haven't found much to read about Cape Cod, but I have been a Salem Witch Trials theorist forever. I'd love to get up there to see Salem some time. I've seen some witch books coming out about the Salem Witch Trials and I can't wait to get my hands on them. There is also a lot of history up here so I'm finding I want to read about the whaling history, glass blowing, and Scottish history.
BFR: What a great story! You'll have to bring a little Southern living to your neighborhood. I have been to the Cape only once, but your area is indeed a great place for those of interested in history. You've been blogging since the beginning of summer. What made you decide to start a book blog?
BIB: Short answer, if you can believe I can do that, I got tired of saving all the blogs I was following in my Favorites on my toolbar. So I started my own blog, knowing I had opinions and hoping someone cared enough to read about them.
BFR: But of course we book bloggers care! And this is week to make a lot of friends. How many book blogs are in your reader? How do you find time to read blogs, read books, and be a mother?
BIB: I'm embarrassed to say how many are in my reader. I read after they go to bed at 9:00. I take medicine to sleep. Sometimes it works in two hours sometimes it takes until 2:00am, sometimes I'm still awake when they get up at 6:00am. I take advantage of that time to catch up on blogs and read. I start at either the top or bottom of my blog list and leave a note where I left off, next night I start again. I have a pad by my bed with a pen stuck in it to write down books I want to read. I have a few blogs I visit weekly just because they are friends. My kids are supportive of my "habit" and I pick out books for my oldest son. I have him reading White Cat by Holly Black right now. The days are my own, so if I need to recoup from the night before of no sleep I will. If I don't I get some housework done (not a priority for me) and read or write.
BFR: I just recently reviewed White Cat! I really liked it. I notice that you read a lot of fantasy/paranormal. What don't you read and why?
BIB: I do not read horror such as Stephen King. I have much too vivid an imagination to read something like that. I'd think every noise was a serial killer or mutant dog trying to get in the house. No manga. Don't really know what it is. And I'm not really a science fiction fan. The fantasy comes from reading fairy tales when I learned to read. I just love them and believe it even vampires and werewolf stories can read like fairy tales if there is enough romance in them!
BFR: I like to read fantasy too. And I also don't read horror. So we're twins in that. What book have you read this summer that you wouldn't have read if you hadn't started blogging?
BIB: The Eternal Ones. The cover is bland and I'm drawn to a book by it's cover usually first. I ended up loving the book, but never would have read it other wise.
BFR: It's always fun to discover a great book that could have easily slipped by you. Which book did you read this summer that you wish got more attention or buzz?
BIB: I think it may end up being tyger, tyger by Kersten Hamilton. It doesn't release until November, but I've read Borders isn't even going to carry it in their stores and it is one of the best books I've read this summer. It had so much Irish folklore in it. It would definitely work for one of your Irish Challenge books. It's again a fairy tale. I just don't want it to fall by the wayside. As far as I'm concerned it was a flawless book!
BFR: Oooh. I'm going to keep that in mind. I really love the idea that it's Irish and has folklore in it. Last year I came up with a list of quick questions that require one-word answers. Let me try them on you:
BIB:
Print, eBook, or audio? print
Hardback or paperback? hardback
Buy books or borrow from library? buy books
Good characters or good plot? good characters
Thanks so much, Heather. I really loved your answers. There are tons of bloggers in the Boston area, so I hope you'll be able to make some good connections this week.

Giveaway

This week is all about getting to know each other and sharing our reading interests. And in that light, today's international giveaway promotes connections between readers. When Robin Blum of In My Book asked me if I wanted to feature her bookmark/cards on my blog, I knew just the right time to introduce you to her great cards. Robin agreed, and she is the sponsor of today's giveaway.

First, let me tell you all about these great bookmark/cards. You might be wondering what is with the slash? Is it a bookmark or a card. Well, it's both. To the left is a photo of my own two bookmarks (thanks, Robin!). You can see that they are sized perfectly for a paperback and have a very cool black and white drawing on the front with a fun saying (click to enlarge).

Each bookmark comes with a red envelope and opens up, just like a card. The inside is blank, so you could write a note to a book-loving friend and pop the whole thing in the mail. Your friend would then have a personalized bookmark to use when reading.

The bookmark/cards are printed on lovely paper that will hold up well to daily use. They are a pleasure to write on in either ink or pencil. I love mine and can pretty much guarantee that you'll love them too. I plan to use my bookmarks to jot down notes when I'm reading; then I'll leave the bookmark in the book so I'll have a record of my thoughts.

Robin has sent me a pack of eight bookmarks so I can hold this international giveaway. There will be two winners -- yes, two winners! Each will receive four bookmarks.

To the right are all the designs I have to give away (note that they bookmarks come in a plastic sleeve, which I left on so I could keep the cards clean and nice for the winners). Click to get a closer look or head on over to the In My Book website to get clear photos and to see the complete line of 15 designs. The cards are priced at $3.95 and are available at a variety of places.

This giveaway is open worldwide and will run until I turn on my computer on Monday morning (September 20). To enter, you must fill out the form. Two winners will be picked via random number generator, and I will delete all data after the winners are contacted. I will send a random grouping of four bookmarks to each winner.



Good luck and don't forget to check all my BBAW posts -- I have a giveaway each day.

Click for more

13 September 2010

BBAW: Discovering Bloggers around the Globe and Giveaway

Today is the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010! This yearly event of giveaways, blog hopping, blogging, and awards is all about you! And you and you and you and me. It is the brainchild of Amy from My Friend Amy.

Each day this week I'm hosting an international giveaway (winners announced on Monday), so I hope you come back to see what I have in store.

I'm taking today's blogging theme and putting my own twist on it. One of the best things about book blogging is getting to know readers from around the world. Daily, I read blogs from across the United States, Canada, the UK, Europe, Asia, South America, and the Pacific.

I want to introduce you to to three bloggers who write fabulous in-depth, heart-felt reviews. Each one makes me think, sparks great conversations, and adds to my reading list. I was going to list some of my favorite posts from each blogger and realized that I had just spent over an hour rereading their blogs, I was so lost in their reviews, their thoughts about reading and blogging, their Library Loot posts, the things going on in their lives, and so on that I've decided to let you discover them on your own.

  • United States: Eva: A Striped Armchair: One recent post combines a discussion of a middle reader book, a decorating book, and a book on women's issues. Yep, Eva is not only an eclectic reader but is able to move from one genre to the next without missing a beat.
  • Europe: Ana: Things Mean a Lot: In a recent post that has more than 50 comments, Ana talks about her book blogging pet peeves.
  • Australia: Marg: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader: In a couple of recent posts, Marg shares discussions she had with fellow book bloggers about a particular title. I like that approach to book reviewing.
I particularly wanted to mention Ana and Eva because they are in the process of moving and will not be blogging much in the next few weeks; add them to your readers and wait until October. Go explore these blogs and enjoy your trip around the globe in your search for great books and great readers.

Giveaway

If you're new to my blog, you might not know that I'm an imprint follower. That is, I tend to read not only by genre and favorite authors but also by the editor and imprint who are behind the books that make it to publication.

One of my favorite editors/imprints is Amy Einhorn Books. In fact, I'm such a fan that I started a perpetual challenge to encourage other readers to discover these fabulous titles. Early this year, I featured each title in the imprint and can say with confidence that every one is worthy of a place in your wish list.

The wonderful people at Amy Einhorn Books / Putnam / Penguin are the sponsor this BBAW giveaway. Be the first on your block to read the three latest releases from the imprint. Actually, only one of these books is currently available to buyers. The other two will not be out until 2011, so you really will be among the very first readers to get a peek inside the covers.



To learn more about the books and the authors visit their facebook pages and/or their websites: Mark Mustian (facebook / website), Eleanor Brown (facebook / website), and Siobhan Fallon (facebook / website). I am so excited about these titles that I can't wait to share them with you. Gendarme explores the power of memory and the Armenian genocide, Weird Sisters involves a family and its love of Shakespeare, and You Know When the Men Are Gone is made up of interconnected short stories focusing on the affects of war on the home front.

This giveaway is open worldwide and will run until I turn on my computer on Monday morning (September 20). To enter, you must fill out the form. A winner will be picked via random number generator, and I will delete all data after the winner is contacted.



Good luck and be sure sure to visit the BBAW blog to discover other participating bloggers in the week's events.

Click for more

12 September 2010

At the Flower Vendor's Stall

The Flower Vendor's Stall, September 2010


The flower vendor at this past week's farmers market was all about fall. The colors were yellows and reds and just calling to be photographed. To see a beautiful dahlia (someone finally identified that flower for me) from the same vendor, see my Wordless Wednesday post from this week.

To read more about book bloggers who garden, check out Heather's Saturday Farmer's Market feature on her blog, Capricious Reader. She kindly lets those of us who are lazy gardeners to post about our local farmers markets or our weekly community supported agriculture (CSA) baskets.

Click for more

11 September 2010

Weekend Cooking: Sage Cornbread

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

_______

There is a hint of fall around here, and with the cooler evenings, I'm getting back into baking. Last night I made a pot of chili and decided to try this sage-flavored cornbread, which was printed in the November 2007 issue of Bon Appetit. The photo to the left is from the Epicurious website, the other photo is my own.

The bread looked pretty and was delicious. When I turned it out of the cast-iron skillet, some of it stuck to the bottom, but that little mishap did not affect the flavor.

Sage and Honey Skillet Cornbread
  • 1 cup cornmeal (preferably whole grain, medium grind)
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage plus 12 whole fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat heavy 10-inch-diameter ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) in oven 10 minutes.

Whisk first 4 ingredients and 2 teaspoons chopped sage in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk, honey, and egg in medium bowl to blend.

Remove skillet from oven; add 1/2 cup butter. Swirl until butter is melted. Pour all except 2 tablespoons butter into egg mixture. Add whole sage leaves to butter in skillet; toss to coat. Arrange leaves over bottom of skillet, spacing apart.

Add egg mixture to cornmeal mixture; stir until just combined (do not overmix; batter will be wet and runny). Pour batter over sage leaves in skillet. Bake until browned around edges and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Cool in skillet 10 minutes. Invert onto platter. If necessary, reposition sage leaves atop cornbread.

Click for more

Copyright

All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2017. All rights reserved.

Quantcast

Thanks!

To The Blogger Guide, Blogger Buster, Tips Blogger, Our Blogger Templates, BlogU, and Exploding Boy for the code for customizing my blog. To Old Book Illustrations for my ID photo. To SEO for meta-tag analysis. To Blogger Widgets for the avatars in my comments and sidebar gadgets. To Review of the Web for more gadgets. To SuziQ from Whimpulsive for help with my comments section. To Cool Tricks N Tips for my Google +1 button.

Quick Linker

Services

SEO

  © Blogger template Coozie by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP