Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Spotlight: BLUE COLLARS by Catherine McLaughlin

Blue Collars by Catherine McLaughlin
ISBN: 9870932027252 (paperback)
Publisher: Spinner Publications
Release Date: May 2018



Some secrets are unforgivable.
An American mill city. A loomfixer's daughter.
An imperfect weave of family love, betrayal, and redemption.

Young Finn Kilroy seems on the surface to enjoy an idyllic carefree life in a typical New England mill city. However, a dark secret looms inside the tenement walls of this 1960s blue-collar family.
A compelling story about growing up during the late 1950s and 1960s in a New Bedford, Massachusetts working-class family, Blue Collars details the triumphs and tragedies of the Kilroy family. Told through the eyes of young Fiona "Finn" Kilroy, whose father worked as a loom fixer at the Berkshire Hathaway textile mill along the city's waterfront, her story unfolds in the city's South End, a neighborhood where Portuguese, Irish, French, and Cape Verdean immigrant families lived side-by-side in mostly three-decker tenement houses typical of many New England cities.
Surrounded by the love of a caring, extended family, Finn's life seems, on the surface, to be carefree and idyllic, but a terrible secret haunts her childhood. This is the story of a young girl's endurance in the face of betrayal and her brave efforts to overcome the shocks that rock her world. Finn's efforts to present a normal face breaks the reader's heart. Her story infuriates – even as her determination to stay strong and survive will inspire every reader.
From Finn's tumultuous childhood to her coming of age, we experience her family's life of love, abuse, and heartache amidst a backdrop of historical events that shaped this American industrial city—financial upheaval and textile strikes.

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Read an excerpt



"Coffee. I need coffee," Molly said.
"I'll get it," I said eagerly.
"Ma, I can't stand getting up at the crack of dawn for these swimming lessons. I'm tired all day."
"Go to bed earlier, then," Ma said.
Molly shot her a look but said nothing.
"Besides," Ma said, "it's only for a few more weeks."
I poured the cold coffee, adding sugar and evaporated milk, and handed Molly her mug. Skippy wandered in from the parlor, where he'd been playing happily, stacking wooden alphabet blocks on top of the set of Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedias that he'd emptied from the bookcase.
"Can I play?" Skippy asked.
"No, you're too little," I said.
"I want to play," he repeated.
"You can play when you're older."
Ma could see a tantrum coming.
"Come on, Skippy. I'll read you a story," she said. Skippy ran to the parlor bookcase and returned with an ancient-looking, fat book.
"Which story?" Ma said.
"‘Cruel Paul,'" Skippy said and snuggled in the chair close to Ma's ample bosom.
"Oh my God, not that one," Molly said. "It's a wonder it doesn't give little Oedipus nightmares."
Aunt Joan looked over my mother's shoulder. "Which one is that?" Aunt Joan asked.
"Who's Eddy Puss?" I wanted to know.
"It's the one where this kid named Paul is cruel to animals, pulls off the wings of flies, crushes ants, does all sorts of horrible things, and one day the animals revolt and attack him. They pluck out his eyes and tongue and hair and everything," Molly said. "It's disgusting, and it's illustrated! The whole book's full of stories like that."
"That's awful," Aunt Joan said, but she was laughing. "I'm going back to the salt mines. Dishes."
"Who's Eddy Puss?" I asked again.
"Me too," Ma said. "I've already heated the water four times, and I can't seem to get to them."
"Read," Skippy said.
"Who's Eddy—"
"Play," Molly said.
I rolled the dice, deciding to ask again later.
"‘Once upon a time, there was a boy by the name of Cruel Paul,'" Ma began.
Aunt Joan left. She'd be back. She was in and out of our tenement a half-dozen times a day.
Aunt Joan was slender and about the same height as her husband, Callan ("God made 'em, God matched 'em," Granny said). She had an oval face and eyes I had trouble reading. Her dark hair was streaked with gray. Callan was short and powerfully built, with pale skin and a military crew cut. His eyes were brown and cold. Their identical twins were twelve, my brother Drew's age. Where Pat was quiet and thoughtful and rather sweet, Little Cal was a hellion. Each twin had black hair in a crew cut, which their father gave them, brown eyes and lithe bodies.
I was afraid of my aunt. She took it upon herself to discipline us as if we were her own children, which I resented mightily. She would come upstairs every morning with her coffee to visit with Ma. They would exchange aches and pains and whatever bad news was going around (Dad used to mutter that they sounded like the soap opera As the World Turns). If she came up at night, and I was in bed trying to sing myself to sleep, she came to my door and yelled, "Stop all that noise in there! Turn your face to the wall and go to sleep!" Then she'd close my door tight, which I hated, for it left me in total darkness. I have often wondered why Ma let her interfere like that.
If Aunt Joan scared me, her husband terrified me. He lost his scattershot temper easily and beat his kids, and I was always afraid he'd do the same to us. In fact, he was used as the household threat: "Stop [whatever we were doing] or I'll call Uncle Callan!" He was the bogeyman. He'd served in the Army and was stationed in France during World War II. Now he had a civil service job, working at city hall, which paid pretty well compared to blue-collar mill jobs. He also took care of most of the repairs needing to be done around the house—painting, shingling, seeding the "lawn," pouring cement, building a fence or a garbage coop. He was multi-talented in these areas, where Dad was simply not interested in being the handyman. Maybe he got too much of that at work. At home, Dad's toolbox consisted of a hammer, a couple of rusted screwdrivers, several bent nails, some random wrenches, and umpteen unidentifiable broken and abandoned things. Uncle Callan had an entire workshop in the cellar, including a workbench with a vise attached, saws, power tools, all sorts of equipment Dad didn't want anything to do with in his off-work hours. So even if Uncle Callan was the family bogeyman, having him around had some benefits. For me, though, he was more than just the threat of a bogeyman. He was a predator. And for most of my childhood, I was his prey.


Excerpt from Blue Collars by Catherine McLaughlin. 
Copyright © 2018 by Catherine McLaughlin. 
Reproduced with permission from author/publisher. All rights reserved.



Meet the Author



Author and artist, Catherine McLaughlin grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She received her undergraduate degree from Southeastern Massachusetts University, now the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and her graduate degrees from the University College Dublin and Bowling Green State University. As a graduate student at Bowling Green, Catherine was assigned to be the assistant of writer-in-residence James Baldwin, author of The Fire Next Time. Baldwin mentored McLaughlin and they developed a friendship that lasted the last ten years of his life. Catherine taught English and writing for 40 years at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Framingham State University. In 2015 she published a book of her poetry, Under a Circus Moon. Now retired, McLaughlin is professor emerita of Framingham State University, she lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts with her two cats.

Connect with the author at her Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google+LinkedIn, or Goodreads.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Book Showcase: THE SLITHERY SHAKEDOWN by Tracey Hecht & Josie Yee


The Slithery Shakedown (The Nocturnals #2) by Tracey Hecht and Josie Yee
ISBN: 9781944020170 (paper over board)
ISBN: 9781944020163 (paperback)
Publisher: Fabled Films Press
Release Date: April 3, 2018


Discover the friendship and humor of the Nocturnals Brigade! In The Slithery Shakedown, three unlikely friends—Tobin, a sweet pangolin, Bismark a loud-mouther sugar glider and Dawn, a serius fox—stand up to a big bully snake. In the process, they find themselves some spec-tac-u-lar snakeskin capes!


Includes Bonus Animal Glossary




Praise for The Nocturnals Grow & Read Series


"Physical characteristics, personality quirks, and the beginnings of their mutual trust and friendship are aptly portrayed through both words and pictures. A few "Nocturnals Fun Facts” at the end should help with any factual queries. Whether listening, reading along, or launching individual attempts, satisfied readers will be ready and waiting for the next installment."Booklist 
"The pared-down narration and dialogue quickly establish their personalities, as does Singleton's cartoon artwork, which shows the characters striking expressive poses midconflict….Hecht and Dowling successfully set the stage for more adventurous outings down the road..."Publishers Weekly


Meet the author


Tracey Hecht is a writer and entrepreneur who has written, directed and produced for film. Her first middle-grade series, The Nocturnals was launched in 2016 with The Mysterious Abductions and The Ominous Eye. The American Bookselling Association chose The Mysterious Abductions as a Kids' Indie Next List pick. Her third book, The Fallen Star was released in May 2017. The fourth book, The Hidden Kingdom was released in February 2018.

In partnership with the New York Public Library, Tracey created a Read Aloud Writing Program in 10 schools around New York City. During the year, she continued to conduct this program in over 35 schools, libraries and bookstores across the country. In June 2017, she launched a partnership with The Ryan Seacrest Foundation with The Nocturnals program at the broadcast media centers within pediatric hospitals. The first hospital was the Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC. In September, events took place in Nashville, TN and Charlotte, NC.

When Tracey isn't writing, she can be found hiking, reading or spending time with her family. Tracey currently splits her time between New York City and Oquossoc, Maine with her husband and four children. 

Connect with the author at her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.



Giveaway


Enter to win a paper over board print copy of The Slithery Shakedown by Tracey Hecht and Josie Yee courtesy of Fabled Films Press (giveaway open to US residents only, sorry). Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM ET on 04/10/2018 and the winner will be announced after 10:00 AM ET on 04/11/2018. All non-US entries will be disqualified. Void where prohibited.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Book Showcase: PECULIAR SAVAGE BEAUTY by Jessica McCann

Peculiar Savage Beauty by Jessica McCann
ISBN: 9780999460207 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780999460214 (ebook)
ASIN: B0793F7RB9 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Perspective Books
Release Date: April 17, 2018


Kansas, 1934
The black blizzard is a formidable enemy. The furious dust storm blots out the sun, chokes the life from both man and beast. When RJ Evans finds herself engulfed in inky blackness and holed up beneath her Model AA Ford on an isolated plains road – dirt caked beneath her fingernails, skin flecked with blood drawn by the biting dust – she has no idea this trial won't be her toughest.
What awaits her in the small farming town of Vanham, when she begins her job as a geologist for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, is even more daunting.
Drought and over-plowing have turned the once-lush plains into an unforgiving wasteland. Headstrong and intent on healing the earth through conservation farming, RJ must somehow find her place in a community that welcomes neither women in authority nor changes to their way of life.
She befriends Woody, an autistic savant born in an era long before any medical diagnosis would explain his peculiar ways and unique talents. The locals label the young man an idiot and RJ an armchair farmer. Yet, in each other, they see so much more.
Beating back the dust is a daily battle. It is a clash that creates unlikely alliances. As RJ learns she must rely on her adversaries if she is to survive the dangers of the Dust Bowl, she also grows to realize that she – like the land itself – is in desperate need of healing.


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Read an excerpt

June 1920
Rosa Jean knew it was foolish to believe her parents had been buried alive. But she couldn't get the idea out of her head. When she closed her eyes, she could see them sleeping in their wooden boxes. She could hear the rain of dirt pelting the casket lids. She would dwell on their terror – awakening in the darkness, lungs burning from the rank, oxygen-depleted air, and realizing their fate.
How must it feel to be buried alive? To be swallowed up by the earth?
She stretched out in the oblong hole she had dug behind her uncle's barn. The moist earth chilled her bare legs. She briefly peered at the black mud packed around her chewed fingernails and jagged cuticles. Then, she crossed her tiny hands over her chest and closed her eyes. When Uncle Lou came upon the girl lying there, he howled, grabbed her up by the arms and dragged her like a ragdoll to the house.
"There's something dreadful wrong with this child."

Excerpt from Peculiar Savage Beauty by Jessica McCann. 
Copyright © 2018 by Jessica McCann. Reproduced with permission from Jessica McCann. All rights reserved.



Meet the Author

Jessica McCann worked for more than 25 years as a professional freelance journalist and corporate writer. Her articles have appeared in Business Week, The Writer, Raising Arizona Kids, Phoenix and dozens of other magazines. McCann's debut novel, All Different Kinds of Free, won the Freedom in Fiction Prize and was published by Bell Bridge Books. Her second novel, Peculiar Savage Beauty, will be available in hardcopy and ebook April 17, 2018. She lives with her family in Phoenix, Arizona. 


Connect with the author at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon,  or Goodreads.


Book Giveaway

Enter to win one (1) hardback copy of Peculiar Savage Beauty by Jessica McCann. This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry to my international followers) and all entrants must use the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, April 8th and the winner will be announced on Monday, April 9th. The book is being supplied by the author.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Book Showcase: ALICE AND THE ASSASSIN by R.J. Koreto

Alice and the Assassin

by R.J. Koreto

on Tour April 1-30, 2018



Synopsis:


Alice and the Assassin by R.J. Koreto
In 1902 New York, Alice Roosevelt, the bright, passionate, and wildly unconventional daughter of newly sworn-in President Theodore Roosevelt, is placed under the supervision of Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair, ex-cowboy and veteran of the Rough Riders. St. Clair quickly learns that half his job is helping Alice roll cigarettes and escorting her to bookies, but matters grow even more difficult when Alice takes it upon herself to investigate a recent political killing–the assassination of former president William McKinley.
Concerned for her father's safety, Alice seeks explanations for the many unanswered questions about the avowed anarchist responsible for McKinley's death. In her quest, Alice drags St. Clair from grim Bowery bars to the elegant parlors of New York's ruling class, from the haunts of the Chinese secret societies to the magnificent new University Club. Meanwhile, St. Clair has to come to terms with his hard and violent past, as Alice struggles with her growing feelings for him.


Book Details:


Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: April 11th 2017
Number of Pages: 280
ISBN: 1683311124 (ISBN13: 9781683311126)
Series: Alice Roosevelt Mystery #1

Get Your Own Copy of Alice and the Assassin on Amazon & Barnes & Noble & add it to your Goodreads list!!




Read an excerpt:



I had a nice little runabout parked around the corner, and Alice certainly enjoyed it. It belonged to the Roosevelt family, but I was the only one who drove it. Still, the thing about driving a car is that you can't easily get to your gun, and I didn't like the look of the downtown crowds, so I removed it from its holster and placed it on the seat between us.
"Don't touch it," I said.
"I wasn't going to," said Alice.
"Yes, you were."
I had learned something the first time I had met her. I was sent to meet Mr. Wilkie, the Secret Service director, in the White House, and we met on the top floor. He was there, shaking his head and cleaning his glasses with his handkerchief. "Mr. St. Clair, welcome to Washington. Your charge is on the roof smoking a cigarette. The staircase is right behind me. Best of luck." He put his glasses back on, shook my hand, and left.
It had taken me about five minutes to pluck the badly rolled cigarette out of Alice's mouth, flick it over the edge of the building, and then talk her down.
"Any chance we could come to some sort of a working relationship?" I had asked. She had looked me up and down.
"A small one," she had said. "You were one of the Rough Riders, with my father on San Juan Hill, weren't you?" I nodded. "Let's see if you can show me how to properly roll a cigarette. Cowboys know these things, I've heard."
"Maybe I can help—if you can learn when and where to smoke them," I had responded.
So things had rolled along like that for a while, and then one day in New York, some man who looked a little odd wanted—rather forcefully—to make Alice's acquaintance on Fifth Avenue, and it took me all of three seconds to tie him into a knot on the sidewalk while we waited for the police.
"That was very impressive, Mr. St. Clair," she had said, and I don't think her eyes could've gotten any bigger. "I believe that was the most exciting thing I've ever seen." She looked at me differently from then on, and things went a little more smoothly after that. Not perfect, but better.
Anyway, that afternoon I pulled into traffic. It was one of those damp winter days, not too cold. Workingmen were heading home, and women were still making a few last purchases from peddlers before everyone packed up for the day.
"Can we stop at a little barbershop off of Houston?" she asked. I ran my hand over my chin. "Is that a hint I need a shave?" I'm used to doing it myself.
"Don't be an idiot," she said, with a grin. "That's where my bookie has set up shop. I've had a very good week."
***

Excerpt from Alice and the Assassin by R.J. Koreto.  Copyright © 2018 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. 
All rights reserved.



Author Bio:


R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto has been fascinated by turn-of-the-century New York ever since listening to his grandfather's stories as a boy.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he's been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. He's a graduate of Vassar College, and like Alice Roosevelt, he was born and raised in New York.

He is the author of the Lady Frances Ffolkes and Alice Roosevelt mysteries. He has been published in both Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. He also published a book on practice management for financial professionals.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto On his Website, Goodreads Page, Twitter @RJKoreto, & on Facebook @ ladyfrancesffolkes!






Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!




Giveaway:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for R.J. Koreto. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift card. The giveaway begins on April 1, 2018, and runs through May 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Showcase: DEAREST DAVID by Glen Ebisch

Dearest David by Glen Ebisch
ISBN: 9781625267450 (paperback)
ASIN: B079TBQ55Z (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Summer Solstice Publishing
Release Date: February 14, 2018


When seventeen-year-old Abigail Taylor turns down the proposal of her suitor, Tom Dawkins, her family feels that she must go out and make her own way in the world. So a position as a servant is secured for her in the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson. 
Dearest David is the story of the few months in the year 1841 during which Abigail experiences life in the Emerson household at the peak of both its intellectual and emotional intensity. She falls in love with the free spirited but emotionally cool Henry David Thoreau. She discovers the power of the prophetic and frightening Lidian Emerson. She meets the charismatic and radical Margaret Fuller. And she learns to respect but also to recognize the limitations of Emerson himself. 
Abigail is eventually forced to leave her employment in the Emerson household under circumstances that are both surprising and disturbing.

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Frequently Asked Questions


1. Dearest David tells the story of a young woman, Abigail Taylor, who leaves her family farm outside of Concord, Massachusetts, to work as a servant in the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson. What was your inspiration for Abigail's story?

The inspiration came when I was thinking about how a young woman of humble means but with a good education for her class in society would respond to the rarified atmosphere of the Emerson household, where talk was often considered the equivalent of action. I thought it would be interesting to contrast her sensible, but intelligent approach to things with the sometimes less than practical musings of Emerson and his friends. I also thought it would be valuable to have a woman's insight into what was largely a man's world, while at the same time contrasting her with the very different figures of Lidian Emerson and Margaret Fuller.   

2. In Dearest David, Abigail falls in love with essayist Henry David Thoreau, who is a frequent house-guest at the Emersons. How would you describe their relationship?

For Abigail, she falls in love with Thoreau partly as a man and partly as a representative of an intellectual life that she finds exciting. She longs to be someone such as Margaret Fuller, but knows that her position in society limits her to a life of physical labor. Thoreau sees her as a friend, as someone who is fiercely independent like himself. That's why he finds the idea of their having a romantic relationship so unthinkable. He believes, perhaps rightly, that she has no more need for anyone to share her life than he does. 

3. Emerson's reclusive wife, Lidian, and the children's governess, Ms. Ford, are also interested in Thoreau. How does Abigail handle the conflict brought on by this three-way romantic triangle? 

She is out of her depth. Abigail thinks that her youthful enthusiasm and affection will win Thoreau away from Lidian, not realizing that his innocent attentions to a married woman are the only sort of relationship that he feels completely safe with having. She also doesn't fully understand that Lidian's need for Thoreau, although not romantic, is as equally strong as her own. Although Abigail does outmaneuver Ms. Ford, it is only at the expense of her conscience and leaves her with a strong sense of guilt. 

4. During her time at the Emersons, Abigail meets the charismatic, feminist writer Margaret Fuller, who provides counsel and insight on women and their role in society. What made you decide to pursue these thematic issues in this novel? 

The two themes in this novel are the role of Transcendentalist philosophy at this point in time, and the status of women in the early nineteenth century. Margaret Fuller did visit Emerson often, and their relationship was close and complex. Lidian was definitely jealous of her, and Emerson often did little to allay that fear. I wanted Fuller in the novel as someone who could give some intellectual form to the feelings that Abigail was having. Since the novel is written in the form of recollections from twenty years in the future, I thought it would give the older Abigail a chance to reflect on what she had learned since.

5. Abigail also forms an intellectual friendship with Emerson during her time in his household. How do his transcendentalist views on life influence her?

His doctrine of self-reliance, the idea that everyone should develop their own ideas and not rely on established authority, is the main notion I wanted Abigail to take away from her time in this household. As the end of the story suggests, she lives an exciting life after leaving Emerson, and I think much of it is due to his intellectual influence. In some ways, she lives a life of courage that Emerson only talked about.

6. After publishing over 30 mystery novels, you wrote Dearest David, your first historical romance. What did you learn while doing research for this novel and do you plan to continue writing historicals? 

When I visited the Emerson house in Concord, Massachusetts and sat in Emerson's study I really felt as if I had entered into the fictional world of my book. This is a feeling I had never experienced before when writing pure fiction, and it made the story particularly intense for me. Another thing I learned is that, although we often think of the people in the Transcendentalist circle as being emotionally cool, they were extremely passionate not only about ideas but in many cases in their feelings for each other. 
At some point in the future, I would like to write another historical carrying Abigail's story on to the next stage.

7. Are you working on a new novel and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

I am currently working on the second in my series of mysteries featuring Charles Bentley, a retired professor of English, who seems to have the bad luck of stumbling across dead bodies. By turns humorous and serious, it shows some of the challenges age brings to solving crimes and forming relationships. 



Meet the Author


Glen Ebisch was born in Passaic, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Clifton. He received his B.A. in political science from Rutgers University, an M.A. in government from Cornell University and, after a tour of duty with the United States Army in Vietnam, he attended Columbia University where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy. He taught philosophy at the university level for over thirty years, and during the same period wrote over thirty novels, first for young people, then for adults.  Glen is a long-time member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and an associate member of Sisters in Crime. He lives with his wife in western Massachusetts.

Connect with the author at his website or Twitter.







Enter to win one (1) ebook copy (MOBI format) of Dearest David by Glen Ebisch. This giveaway is open internationally. All entries must be made using the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM ET on Thursday, April 5th and the winner will be announced on Friday, April 6th. The ebook is being supplied by the author. Void where prohibited.

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This showcase and giveaway facilitated by Paula Margulies Communications