I bought Liam Callanan’s Paris by the Book simply because he leaves in Wisconsin and I want to support local authors. Friends of mine also recommended his works. I enjoyed this book a lot.
It is the story of a Leah, who’s husband disappears and the only clue he leaves is plane tickets to Paris. Intending on staying for a while, she finds herself not able to tear herself or her two daughters away. They all see him (Robert) in the men they see around the city.
In many books, the protagonist is strong and determined. Readers want that. However, that is not how people work. I found Mr. Callanan’s portrayal of a woman with doubts and mind changes real, but without sending me on a confusing track of a narrator that changes her mind too much. His main character is filled with doubts, but it is done in a well-written way.
I also found that Mr. Callanan did a masterful job of describing Paris with out burying the reader in details. Also well done with how he handled the characters speaking French. He was able to provide realness while also getting what was said in French across.
I enjoyed this family drama set in a city that I now really want to visit. It makes me hope and believe that I can go there and find Leah and her two daughters running a small book store (though not well).
PS- Find the 30 minute video of The Red Balloon (1956) AKA Le Ballon Rouge on #Youtube. It is not necessary, but it will help put you in a #Paris mood before reading Liam Callanan’s book. (No Paris landmarks were harmed in the book or the movie). https://youtu.be/K2dor2_tCI0
Dead Sure? Took me on a mind-twisting romp to 1929 and back again. It was a story full of strong characters and plot twists that kept me guessing. I definitely felt for Tim, a man transported back to 1929 leaving his daughter to grow up without a parent. Especially when he has to face Charles, the antagonist that outsmarts everyone and hurts so many people (including many people in the present).
This story has a lot of heart and kept me reading right until the end. And like any great story, I will remember these characters long after I put the book back on my book shelf (metaphorically, I got the kindle version).
The Very Marrow of Our Bones: A Novel Paperback – April 3, 2018
by Christine Higdon
I believe I put this book on my wish list to support ECW Press. Then I accidentally bought it. I am so glad I did though. It is a well written well paced book.
The novel has many mysteries to solve and while it does in an engaging way, it also does it in a realistic way. Ms. Higdon actually reveals a mystery without fake suspense and build ( answers come in the story when they should). As a reader, I acknowledged it, was surprised the answer came and then saw more book to read.
Ms. Higdon tells this story that lasts for 40 years without a lot of exposition. The action are immediate and the characters are engaging. The secondary characters are not necessarily well explained, but I could tell that they were fleshed out and the author showed only what she had to show.
I definitely rooted for these characters they will live on in my mind. Even at the end of the book, the author is revealing the actions and motivations of the characters that I didn’t even consider.
Holy Cow by David Duchovny
Of Swine not
By Jimmy Buffett
In that I hated it.
I love Buffet and Duchovny. Holy Cow, however, is hard to comprehend as to what it actually is? Is it a children’s book? An adult humor book? A fable or a joke? It is a about a regular milk cow that sees the Box God (a tv) and decides she has to go to India where they do not eat cows.
It reads like a middle school novel. However, it has adult humor and concepts. Duchovony makes an attempt to explain how a cow could book a flight on an airplane, but leaves as many questions as he answers. At the end, he addresses inconsistencies by saying it is just a story, However, he clearly has never been on a farm.
His message is clear and directly on the page. The cow addresses the reader directly and spouts off what is on the author’s mind. I agree with it, but I wanted a story.
I did read this book, so it kept me turning the page. It however, did not have a satisfying end.
I recently bought The book Montaigne in Barn Boots By Michael Perry. I buy every book Mr. Perry puts out as well as his musical CDs. Here is my review:
In Montaigne in Barn Boots, Mike Perry reflects on the writings of Montaigne as he compares it to his own personal philosophy. For me, I dipped my toes in Montaigne’s essays and they quickly went numb. However, Mr. Perry made those essays with his down-home folksy similes and metaphors easy to understand . I fear that comes off less than a compliment, but it is a compliment. Those comparisons were dead-on and unique.
Even Mr. Perry questions presenting another memoir from him. Do we want to hear more of Mike’s life and his beliefs? Do we want him to get more personal? This books gives a resounding yes. He writes about his own life to investigate what being human means. He is so effective that he can write a whole book discussing himself without over-indulging and getting over personal.
Yes, Mr. Perry, we want more. We want to know about the man off-stage and those subjects you have not broached. And Mr, Perry we want you to get very personal without going to far and being respectful of our tender sensibilities.
That was his undertaking and he was successful. He does both. For example, he lets us know that his marriage is more than just love poems to her. He reveals that he does have a marriage like ours with its ups and downs while still being as reverential to his wife as our wives wish we would be.
I tried something a little different. This book. I was motivated to support a Wisconsin author. It is something I believe in. And I can tell you:
I enjoyed Nick of Time. It was outside my normal reading genres, but it kept me turning the pages (flicking the pages as I read it on my Kindle app. Ms. Amos took on some very heavy duty topics. She did not bog down in them, but she didn’t gloss over them either. This well-paced novel, showed a main character dealing with the guilt of a car accident that left her daughter in a coma. Ms. Amos engaged me in the story while only showing the story necessary to make the story compelling.
The story is also highly imaginative with the afterlife and why ghosts appear. Not only does she tackle this, but she makes time travel believable.
This story left me still thinking about the world Ms. Amos created and thinking about life after death.
I am a writer. So you know what that means. Exactly. Socially awkward as hell. I am a better communicator as a writer than as a speaker. This is especially poignant as you are reading this and this aint that good either.
Writers conferences are sometimes put on by writers. A crazy thought, but stick with me. So some conferences then are not as friendly. I mean they are friendly, but because I am socially awkward, I need them to be super friendly.
I think the Lakefly Writers Conference is. I think in my role as a volunteer, I am as well. What I am saying is that I rise to the occasion. Or perhaps it is the right environment and it fosters that in me.
Maybe it’s just that I desperately want the conference to succeed. A conference that I help put on is one less that I have to go to and not interact with people.
Actually, though, it’s a great conference. I love interacting with attendees and the speakers.
It has great attendees. I enjoy meeting writers from all over and I like the responsibility of working to make sure it goes well.
This reminds me of a story. We recently had Michael Perry as a speaker and needed to put a lectern on the risers. I told him it was probably heavy (as in he was a speaker, I shouldn’t expect him to lift it).
Mr. Perry said a very Michael Perry thing- “Are we not men?”
A great bonding moment. Unfortunately he was one of my heroes. So I was tongue tied. My response was mumble mumble mumble. Maybe I’m wrong about Lakefly fostering me.
It will for you though.
This is my review for Louis Clark’s chapbook How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century. This is from the Wisconsin Historical Press.
“The story Mr. Clark tells is fascinating. It’s his story of growing up Native American in Wisconsin and facing racism, discrimination, and a difficult childhood. Don’t worry though, Mr. Clark also focuses on humor and love. He reminds me of a priest our church had that told a homily and broke out into song to punctuate his points. Mr. Clark does that with his poetry.”
In full disclosure, I know Mr. Clark. I interviewed him for my YouTube Channel show AuthorShowcase of Oshkosh. Besides being a great guy and family man, he has many stories to tell (he tells many in this book). So I am biased. Yet I think you will find this to be a great book. He weaves poetry in the story of his life and as he tell us, he does it to the real beat of the pow wow drum.
I have been a part of the Lakefly Writers Conference for the last five years now. I’ve spoken at it twice and I want to invite you to come to #lakefly17.
If you are a writer, you need to go to a conference. They do so many things for you. They teach. They create friendships, and they inspire. Everyone I’ve met that has gone to a writers conference leaves with inspiration to write (aggressively/ passionately??). If Oshkosh, Wisconsin is too far away, find another one.
However, I recommend this one. We pride ourselves on being friendly and well-run.
I am also inspired by The Oshkosh Public Library. The director set out on creating a conference to fill a need for writers in the area. The only goal was to support them. Since then, the library and the Lakefly Volunteers have had one goal- to provide quality speakers at a very affordable price.
We have a powerful lineup this year. Nickolas Butler and Jerome Buting will be are keynote speakers. For more information please go to www.lakeflywriters.org.
If you have been to the Lakefly, please let us know and maybe blog about your experience.
A few post ago I talked about switching gears without actually switching gears. I have a lot to say. I like thinking about it and laying something out. The problem is we do not change each others minds. We invigorate like-minded people and opposite minded people and keep them apart with arguments.
So then what shall I talk about. The intention was to talk about writing. I may have posts about writing and self-publishing. The problem I see is that others cover that.
And here is a hint about being a writer. You need to have a platform and on that platform, you give your audience what they want. You preach to the choir and write the way they like you to write. The other thing you need to do is connect.
I don’t know that I plan to do that. Because my plan is to write about what I know. I am a teacher of young people that have mental health and behavioral issues. So I will write about that. Actually, my plan is to steal things i write for a treatment group that i run. My focus though is not on fixing mental issues, but in presenting information that everyone needs to know.
In addition to children with mental illness. I teach children with autism. That is the main focus to my job.
Here is a funny scene:
My boss was talking about how being a special ed. Teacher you think your kid has every syndrome there is. She said I thought my child had this and that.
I agreed with her. I said I used to think that my child had autism. Then I found out I was right.
So I have read up on autism. I’m not an expert, but ive read the experts.And if I think of something worthwhile on the subject, I will post it.