2017 YITB Review

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This is the smallest update/year in review I have ever done, and I want to take a minute to apologise to loyal readers of the blog.  It would seem that my bloggers have been in a pretty constant state of flux over the past year with lots of changes (some good, some not so good) and we’ve just let reviewing books slide by the wayside.

I am actually ashamed to say that I only managed to read about half a dozen books last year.  But this year seems better.  Things are leveling out.  I’ve made a list of the things that really matter in my life and I’m going to be doing a big push at the blog.

 

Thus, this year’s list is small but mighty.

The top Book in the Bag Books of 2017:

  • Go To Sleep, Little Farm – Mary Lyn Ray
  • Mix It Up – Herve Tullet
  • Owls Don’t Blink – A.A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner)
  • Desert Solitare – Edward Abbey
  • Lexicon – Max Barry
  • Idolators of Cthulhu – H David Blalock
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Book Review – Big appetites by Christopher Boffoli

Title: Big Appetites:  tiny people in a world of big food
Author/Photographer: Christopher Boffoli
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: 2013

Okay, Big Appetites: tiny people in a world of big food is an art book of photography that is pretty much exactly what you’ve pictured with the title.  The creator has taken those uber small miniatures, positioned them on food like the food had something to do with their job or hobby, and taken pictures.  Each photograph is shown in full color with a caption that relates the surreal scene back to real life somehow.

One of my favorites was about somebody making due at work even though he forgot his special lefty scissors, and featured several worker men positioned in a head of ornamental broccoli.  Another was somebody on top of a hostess cupcake, captioned something along the lines of ‘even though it was a two person job, he, being a perfectionist, preferred to work alone…’

The book is arranged by meal.  I think the thing that really got me, though, is how current and real this stuff actually felt.  These are characters just going about daily life.  The fact that they’re bicycling up a banana or harvesting pomegranate seeds  is almost incidental to what is happening.  It’s a very real look at life with a very silly visual aid attached.

I love this book.  5/5.

Book Review – Talking Pictures by Ransom Riggs

Talking Pictures

Ransom Riggs

Paperback

2012

 

Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine’s, shows us the love he has of old photographs (and that which led him to Miss Peregrines, I do say) and gives us a glimpse into his (and his friends’) personal collection of someone else’s photographs, found at antique stores and flea markets, marked with comments from the original owners.

Really, there’s not much to say about this book.  The pictures are old – some 100 years or more – and black and white or sepia, slightly blurry and/or out of focus, or just generally lack the sharpness that a more modern camera can provide.  Some of the comments are cute (there’s a whole section dedicated to people who hate the picture that was taken of them), others a bit melancholy (boys off to war, for instance), and others downright sad.  In fact, it was a downright sad that started his collection.  A photograph that he bought for a quarter with a caption on the back that named the girl and her fate.

Its as good a place to start as any.

In all, if you haven’t read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I suggest you go read that first and then come back to this for a unique glimpse into an author.  But I think that if you don’t love that book already or aren’t as into old photos of strangers as Ransom is, that you won’t enjoy it nearly as much.

I’m going to give it a leery 4 out of 5 pages.  It’s worth a look, but if you’re not already into this, I don’t think this book will convert you.

Writer Wednesday – Jacqueline Sheehan

New York Times Bestselling Author Jaqueline Sheehan has been in print for almost a decade now, and has several novels to her credit.  This is her story…

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Jacqueline Sheehan

Tell us (briefly) about you…
Jacqueline Sheehan, Ph.D., is a New York Times Bestselling author of fiction She is also a psychologist. She is a New Englander through and through, but spent twenty years living in Oregon, California, and New Mexico doing a variety of things, including house painting, photography, freelance journalism, clerking in a health food store, and directing a traveling troupe of high school puppeteers.

Her novels include, The Comet’s Tale a novel about Sojourner Truth, Lost & Found, Now & Then, and Picture This. She has published travel articles, short stories, and numerous essays and radio pieces. In 2005, she edited the anthology, Women Writing in Prison.

Jacqueline has been awarded residencies at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland and Jentel Arts Colony in Wyoming. She teaches workshops at Grub Street in Boston and Writers in Progress in Florence, Massachusetts. She has offered international writing retreats in Jamaica, Guatemala, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
See above.

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m taking a sharp departure and writing a book that is loosely based on a massacre that took place in Guatemala, 1990 in a Mayan village.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I lived in a small town in CT where we had a one-room library. The rules were strict and if you were in the library, you were either sitting at table reading or searching for a book. Also, a wonderful memory is having chicken pox (that part wasn’t so wonderful) and my mother bringing me a mountain of books from the library. One of the books was The Incredible Journey and I loved it. I hadn’t realized until this moment how much that book probably influenced my writing. In both Lost & Found and Picture This, there are several chapter from the point of view of a dog.

What are your three favorite books?
To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee. I read it every few years. It is nearly perfect.
Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. She writes about the lustiness of nature so beautifully.
In the Woods, by Tana French. She’s an Irish writer who excels in dark psychological mysteries.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
If I’m reading more than one book at a time, it means that I’m not fully captivated by the writing. Right now I’m reading a memoir, Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi, by Brian Leaf. Very funny and humble.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
I pray that the cat won’t knead his claws into my legs.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
There aren’t many books that I re-read, but when I do it is like visiting a good friend.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
It depends entirely on who is recommending it. But the chances of choosing a book with a personal recommendation are usually much higher.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I do it all the time.

What do you look for in a good book?
I want to be fully immersed in the story, inside the skin of the characters.

Why do you write?
This will sound trite, but I write to more fully understand and experience the world.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I’m also a psychologist, but if I hadn’t been either a writer or a therapist, I probably would have studied frogs and insects. I was fascinated by them.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My childhood.
My current relationships.
The news.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
It has taught me that my most intimate and painful experiences are universal.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My writing friends completely understand the grinding level of work is required.
My civilian friends seem to think I’m on a pro-longed vacation. I’ve given up trying to change their minds.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I don’t know what the stereotypes are, which means I might be one.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Writers can talk about writing too much, rather than just writing. And new writers complain bitterly about the publishing industry before they even get a contract. I think it is part of the image that newbies might have of writers to complain about publishers. My experience with publishers has been quite good.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
I can be overly accommodating. I might need to stiffen up a bit.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
When Lost & Found is optioned for film again, I’d like to be the psychological consultant on the film.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I answer every single email that I get from readers. And I love doing readings. Meeting readers is still a thrill for me. I am grateful to them and I’m interested in what they have to say.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
That I hitchhiked across the country once. What an idiot!

Anything else we should know?
I could eat Mexican food every day of the week.

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