Saturday, October 26, 2013

Interview: Emma from Words & Peace

Today I'm thrilled to share my first interview. Meet Emma, the blogger behind Words and Peace. I first "met" Emma when she served as a cheerleader for Armchair BEA. A few months later we connected again via France Book Tours. Recently we discovered that not only do we live fairly close to one another, we actually work(ed) at the same library! How cool is that?! So of course we had to get together for coffee to talk about books and blogging. We thought it would be fun to interview each other for our blogs.

Be sure to visit Emma's links below and you can check out my answers to our interview questions at Words and Peace HERE.

  1. How long have you been blogging and how did you get into blogging?
    Thanks Chris, it is so much fun to interview each other on our mutual blog!
    I actually just celebrated my 3rd blogiversary on September 29!
    Those who know me have noticed that I can’t refrain from talking about what I read. When I discovered there was a species called book bloggers, who keep raving about the books they love, I knew had to join! The first book blog I discovered, I believe, was Devourer of Books
  2. How did you come up with your blog name?
    I enjoy words and nouns, and great literature. And words bring me peace, so suddenly one day, in the shower as I recall, this name came to me!
  3. How has your writing style or how you write posts changed over the years?
    I think, and hope!, my reviews have improved these past 3 years. I used to begin with the synopsis and opinions of others. I was not mentioning anything about the author nor the narrator at the beginning.
    Then I tried to think what made me enjoy others’ reviews. Since then, my style has evolved. I now start with what I think about the book, then the synopsis, something about the author, including his/her picture, and occasionally links to other reviews – this used to be much easier to find through Google Reader. I can no longer do that type of search through Bloglovin.
    Also, great audiobook reviewers have taught me to mention the narrator and to express my opinion on the narration, apart from the content of the book itself.
    My future goal is to make my reviews even more personal, trying to include what this book taught me, a bit like what Nina Sankovitch did during her “year of magical reading.” See her Tolstoy And The Purple Chair.
    As I read lot of books connected with France, I also plan to insert extra lines in French, to have a bit of bilingual data, not necessary saying the same thing in both languages.
  4. What do you most enjoy about blogging? What do you least enjoy?
    What I enjoy most is when I share about a book so good I  think the whole world should read it. See for instance this sort of unknown gem I just discovered, the best nonfiction book I have read so far this year!
    What I enjoy least is not having enough time to keep up on a regular basis with all the reviews I need to write!
    Starting in November, I will be posting every Sunday on Billy’s blog, Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This is a new experience for me, to encourage myself to write more regularly!
    So sounds like I have just expressed both the blessing and the curse of every book blogger, lol!
  5. How do you schedule posts and manage your blogging time?
    Well, lots of the scheduling is imposed on me by all the virtual book tours or similar events I take part in.
    So I have this Google spreadsheet where I keep track of when I need to post what, and until when I have access to the free egalley, for instance – already 3 dates in for next year, with 3 fabulous historical novels!
    On top of that, I try – TRY!!- to schedule reviews related to France on Thursdays, since I launched a I Love France meme.
    I need to be more organized in giving myself time regularly for review writing. My professional life is just changing, so I hope that I can do something about that with my new schedule there.
  6. What memes, events, or reading challenges do you participate in? Do you host any yourself?
    I just mentioned my own meme. This year, I have also launched a reading challenge, entitled Books On France Reading Challenge. 33 readers have joined, and so far 101 reviews have been listed. Not bad for the first year.
    I used also to post a “good books for your week-end” list on Fridays, to share the latest additions to my Goodreads TBR. I have not done it for a while, but plan to revive it soon.
    Otherwise, this year 2013, I take part in 12 readings challenges, believe it or not, it’s way less than the previous years! I know I will nee 2014 to finish one of them, but the others are doing well.
    I have recently posted several WWW Wednesdays, and will definitely do more, and possibly more memes.
    I have participated in Armchair BEA, BBAW, Bloggiesta, Book Bloggers hops and read-alongs.
  7. How hooked are you on your blogs statistics and why?
    Yeah, I confess, I’m quite hooked, though my book blog readership statistics are not that high and so not much to be hooked on!! Why? I’m hyper competitive in all I do…
    Otherwise, I enjoy doing statistics at the end of each month and each year; it’s fun to see the trends in my readings. It is also a great way of recapitulating what has happened on the reading front.
  8. What have you learned about yourself through blogging?
    Hmm, very good question. Maybe I have discovered my passion for reading is more addictive than I ever knew it was!
    It has also revealed my need of a community, and the book blogging one is just awesome!
    It has shown me as well that I am more and more comfortable in writing in my second language; readers are so very nice, no one has ever complained of my mistakes with the English language!!
  9. What types of books do you like to read and review the most?
    I like reading and reviewing about everything and anything, apart from horror. I have definitely read more graphic novels and above all historical novels since I began book blogging.
  10. How has your reading changed or evolved due to blogging?
    My current statistics show a large increase in historical novels. I love history and follow great historical fiction book blogs. I have a hard time refusing the many HF propositions sent by some virtual book tours!, hence my increased reading in that genre.
    If we talk book formats, I have been reading more and more ebooks, this being mostly due to publishers who tend more to send egalleys than ARCs these days.
  11. How did you come up with the idea for France Book Tours?
    Book blogging has allowed me to rediscover the cultural wealth of my country of origin.
    Through my meme and my own reading challenge on France, I have been more attentive to the presence of France or French writers in lists of forthcoming releases. I was gradually amazed at the number of books published every month having some type of connection with France.
    This combined with the quite romantic passion of American people with everything Parisian or French, and the idea of France Book Tours was born, that is, organizing virtual book tours not focused on a specific genre, as they are sometimes, but on this special niche: France!
    So I feature there any book with a plot set in France, or about a French theme, or written originally in French. Many genres have already been represented since France Book Tours was born at the end of April:  literary fiction, historical fiction, romance, mystery, thriller, nonfiction, travel, memoir, biography, etc!

    If YOU are interested in reading that type of books for free and posting your review on your own book blog at a specific date, please come along to join our growing team of reviewers, 60+ so far, and fill in the questionnaire you can find here:
Thanks Chris, that was fun answering your questions!

Read my book blog:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Trivia

Before I loved Willa Cather, I loved Patsy Cline.

Question: What do they have in common?

Answer: They were both born in Winchester, Virginia.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Bag: Shakespeare & Company

I love book bags and have a growing collection of them. This summer two more entered my life.

The first was from my friend Kate who went to Ireland and brought me home a bag from Dubray Books in Galway (I blogged about it here). Inside the bag was a copy of John Boyne's This House Is Haunted, which was released in the States on October 8th--just in time for Halloween reading.

The second is from my friend Cayt went to Paris and brought me home a bag from Shakespeare and Company. Inside was an English version copy of Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. Cayt had looked for a French version of a Cather novel, but there were none in stock, which could be a good thing (sold out) or a bad thing (no interest). What is hopeful about the book she did get for me is that it seems to have been read by a native French speaker because there are French annotations/translations scattered throughout. Inside the book was a postcard of, appropriately, a landscape painting.

The postcard was written out by someone living/staying in Paris, but never sent. The handwriting was hard to decipher, but I didn't detect any commentary on the subject of Cather or her novel.

The back of the bag features a vintage image from inside the bookstore.

Shakespeare and Company inventory tag.
Annotations in French.
Do you read books in a language other than your native tongue? I have plans to get back to reading in German. I've never been particularly graceful at speaking the language (I know, I know: German isn't exactly a graceful language to begin with), but I used to be pretty good at reading and writing it. Earlier this year I bought a copy of The Reader (Der Vorleser) by Bernhard Schlink in German and had planned to start trying to read it this fall, but then prep for our move started and that got rescheduled for next year.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Doctor Sleep & Weekly Update

Doctor Sleep is Stephen King's sequel to The Shining. Did anyone think he'd write a sequel? I'm burnt out on series and trilogies at the moment, but when I first heard King was revisiting Danny, the boy from The Shining who is now a middle aged guy, I started counting the months, weeks, and days till its release. This sequel follows the book, not the movie, and if you've only seen the movie and not read the book, you don't know what you're missing. Get thee to the library or bookstore!

Doctor Sleep engaged me from the get-go, but it lost some steam toward the end. I kept reading not because I was in the grip of a story I couldn't put down, but because I wanted to finish the book and see how it all ended. Know what I mean? Rose the Hat became a bit flat, as did Abra. Still, its a really good story and has that King magic of making me feel swept along for a ride that I both want and don't want to be on.

Dan is one of the most believable flawed characters that I've read in sometime. His struggle with alcohol, his early days in AA, and then his acceptance of the program all ring true and reveal, along the way, many facets of his character. Dan's trajectory--his deepening sobriety and its fruits--is the reverse of Rose the Hat's. Her increasing lust for the quality steam she could get from Abra causes her to make irrational decisions, allows her anger to control her, and drives her ever closer to her own bottom. Brilliant.

If you want to read a review, try this one by Margaret Atwood.

Tif Talks Books and Charleen at Cheap Thrills have been hosting a read-along for Doctor Sleep appropriately called Sleep Along (#sleepalong on Twitter). Between packing up my house, trying to buy a new one in another part of the county, and wrapping up two jobs, I don't have the space left in my brain to participate in the event, but I look forward to reading everyone's thoughts post-event.

Some of my favorite quotes:
--"Once upon a time Dan had promised himself he'd never get going with that habit, either. He had come
to believe that life was a series of ironic ambushes." [Habits referring to his dad's drinking and his mom's smoking.]

--"Drinking was undoubtedly a part of it, but when you were down, some guys just seemed to feel an urge to walk up your back and plant a foot on your neck instead of helping you to stand. It was lousy, but so much of human nature was."

--"The mind was a blackboard. Booze was the eraser." [By far my favorite quote.]

--"'What's your favorite hymn?' Dan asked [a woman who swears a lot]. 'What a Fucking Friend We Have in Jesus'?"

--"Dan did not reply to this. If he told her [Abra] he had found his own first taste horrible, that he had also believed there was no big deal, no precious secret, she would have dismissed it as windy adult bullshit. You could not moralize children out of growing up. Or teach them how to do it."

--Not a quote, but I love that he jabs Anne Lamont and Phil Caputo. Rube names of Apron Annie and Dirty Phil. LOL.

Other books currently in my reading life:
  • A. Scott Berg's Wilson: I put it aside to start Doctor Sleep and need to get back to it.
  • Stuart Dybek's I Sailed with Magellan: great short stories, but as often happens with short story collections I needed to take a break from it because the stories are intense. Will get back to it. Earlier this year I read William Stryon's A Tidewater Morning and Flannery O'Connor's Everything that Rises Must Converge, two powerful short story collections that I feel the need to reread before attempting to write about them. Powerful stuff.
  • Carolyn Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life: I read this one years ago and when I was packing up my books it called to me for another reading. I feel like a bad feminist because while reading this an idea came to mind for a new story--one about a man's life of adventure. Oops! But its just in time for NaNoWriMo.
  • Roy Peter Clark's How to Write Short: it caught my eye at the library. Short chapters, little nuggets full of powerful thoughts and motivation.
  • JJ Marsh's Tread Softly: a review copy of a mystery that I just started. The transitions are a bit confusing at times, but the story is engaging.
I'm usually a one book at a time reader, or at most have one fiction and one nonfiction book going at the same time. Having five books going at the same time is a sure sign that I'm stressed out. We have the movers coming on the 25th. We're putting everything in storage since we don't yet have a house in New England--two offers didn't pan out. We're headed back for more house hunting at the end of the month. Third times the charm, right?

What's going on in your reading life?
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