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Weekly Geeks #16


Weekly Geeks #16 challenge was to interview a fellow Weekly Geek about the book s/he just finished reading, and I was paired up with Mel from The Indextrious Reader.

Here’s my Interview with Mel about Flower Children by Maxine Swann:

1. Flower Children by Maxine Swann seems to take a unique look at the impact the 70s and free love has on children who were coming of age at that time, did you find the perspective true to life?

Despite growing up in the 70’s, I was very far from having hippie parents! But I found that the characterizations seemed realistic and the action flowed from those characterizations very naturally. So, yes, I believed the narrative voice, especially when the children were younger; as the two girls became adolescents in the final story, I wasn’t as taken by them.

2. How would you describe the narrative?

The story unfolds in discrete chapters, which switch back and forth from first person (the voice of second daughter Maeve) and third person. I wasn’t actually sure I really liked that approach, maybe all one or the other would have flowed better. It might also have been interesting to see the family through the first person eyes of each of the children.

3. Some reviews on Amazon have characterized the novel as a string of short stories, did you find this to be the case?

Absolutely. The chapters, although following one another in chronological progression, were definitely separate stories which could stand alone. And therefore I did find some stronger than others — as I mentioned, the story with the two girls as adolescents didn’t have quite the same dreamy, reminiscent tone as the others.

4. Do you often read novels set in the 1970s or that time period?

Actually, not really. I don’t search for them, anyway, and I’d guess that my faint surprise at reading about the 70’s in this one means it’s not a regular occurrence.

5. Who would you recommend read this book to and why? Or would you not recommend the book, and why?

I think that children of the 70’s would find a lot of familiar touches, even if you didn’t grow up in the country with hippie, divorced parents from extremely eccentric families… Really, probably anyone with an interest in American fiction or domestic fiction from a bit of a different viewpoint would like this. It is full of free love and pot though, so if that bothers you, perhaps it’s not the book of choice.

6. What were your favorite parts or elements of the novel?

I enjoyed the voice of Maeve, and the dreamy feeling in the first couple of stories especially. It captured that random childhood freedom which I certainly had, to wander alone or with friends most of the day without having to be fearful or worried about strangers. In the first story, the author describes the two young sisters laying flat and still in a field long enough for a buzzard to show interest, and then suddenly sitting up thinking it was about to dive at them. This image repeats itself in the final story when the sisters return to their home as adults, and it really works.

7. Were the characters believable or well-rounded?

The two girls were pretty clear, but aside from the big sister views of the two younger brothers you don’t find out much about the boys. I would have liked a little more background and spirit to the mother; she was a bit vague for me. Their father, on the other hand, was quite a character, with each story filling out his profile a little more. When the kids go with him to their grandparents’ in one story, you find out where he gets all his eccentricities from — his whole family is made up of oddballs. Overall, they were all drawn clearly enough to feel like real individuals who I wanted to keep reading about.

5. You mentioned that you are not caught up on reviews, do you find that your reading and reviewing obligations are overwhelming at times or do you like the challenge of catching up?

Every once in a while I feel overwhelmed, but all this reading and blogging is supposed to be fun, so I don’t stress out too much. I don’t feel obliged to review everything I read, or blog every day.

Some other random questions for Mel and their answers:

1. I wonder how you came up with the title of your blog and if there is any significance to the title.

I made up the word “Indextrious” as a blend of index and industrious, because I’m a librarian who likes cataloguing and indexing and picky things like that!

2. On Book Blogs, you belong to the Travel the World group, is there a particular reason you were drawn to that book group and how has your experience with the group been?

I’ve just joined so have no stories to share yet. I’m interested because I like reading international fiction and seeing things from other viewpoints.

3. Taking on a lot of reading challenges seems time consuming, how do you find the time to work through all those challenges at the same time?

Um…I rarely finish challenges! I just do them for fun and for community.

Mel’s Interview with Me about Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

  • This book sounds like it has an interesting structure. Did it tell the story from 4 first-person viewpoints, or a third person overview?

There are 4 POVs in the novel from each of the female characters. It was great to hear the inner thoughts of each character in their respective chapters, and I don’t think a third person narrative would have capture what the women were thinking and feeling as well as the current structure.

  • Were the characters recognizable as distinct individuals? Which of the women did you feel the most connection to, and why?

The characters are distinct individuals with varied pasts and concerns. For example, Sharon Gold is the Jewish, northerner and she is preoccupied with fitting in and in one case she discovers that she has nothing in common with the Jewish wives club members, but has more in common with Kim, Wendy, and Donna. I actually did not feel an affinity with any of the characters. I loved hearing about their respective fears and concerns, but I did not feel connected to any of the women. However, I could identify with the each woman’s struggle to belong.

  • Have you read many books set around the Vietnam War? If so, how does this compare?

I have read other Vietnam War novels and nonfiction books in college. One of my favorite authors is Tim O’Brien who wrote In the Lake of the Woods, The Things They Carried, If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, July, July, Tomcat in Love, and Northern Lights. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam is a non-fiction work I read for class by Frances FitzGerald, but I don’t believe that I read it cover to cover. We also read Paco’s Story by Larry Heinemann. I’ve also read the following poetry books as well: Dien Cai Dau by Yusef Komunyakaa and Song of Napalm by Bruce Weigel. I’m sure there are other books I’ve read as well, but these are the ones that come to mind.

I would say that the majority of the books I’ve read about the Vietnam War focus upon the male perspective of going to war, being in the war, and coming home and dealing with its effects. Mrs. Lieutenant is the only book I’ve read that deals with the impacts the war had on the wives of these soldiers and how they dealt with the prospect of being left behind and possibly never seeing their husbands again. It also provides a female point of view of war in general and the wives’ obligations as part of the military.

  • Some reviewers have drawn parallels between the setting of this book and that of the Iraq War. Considering that, do you think this would be a good read for those either pro or con about the current war? What about non-Americans?

I think this book would be a great fit for those who either are anti- or pro- Iraq or Vietnam War. It provides an inside look at the emotions stirred up by conflict and wars that are not easily understood. Non-Americans interested in American history would find the book interesting as well. But in a broader sense I find this to be a human interest story, a struggle of women with the emotions they have about war, losing their husbands, and traditions kept during that time period by the military.

  • Do you feel from reading this book and interviewing the author that it is heavily based in her own experiences? Does knowing about the author’s background beforehand add or take away from the reading experience for you, generally?

I knew about her background before reading the book, and I don’t think that it detracted at all from the novel because both viewpoints are presented about the war, as well as some more ambiguous viewpoints about the war. For some, serving was a duty, while others saw officer’s training as a means of escaping the draft or biding time until the war was over. Phyllis Zimbler Miller did indicate that this novel is heavily based upon her experiences as Mrs. Lieutenant, but she does not let her personal experiences color the characters she has created.

  • Did you have a favourite part or find something especially memorable that you’d like to share?

I cannot pinpoint my favorite part of the book, only because it would give away too much for one of the character’s stories. But it is a doosey and it caught me off guard.

And a couple of general questions, if you want to answer them:

  • I see from your blog that you are a writer. How does blogging fit into your writing life?

Blogging is a great relief from my daily writing at work. It’s creative, but it isn’t where my passion lies. Poetry is something I write most often, though I am working on some fiction pieces and a novel. I have a hard time juggling my many interests on occasion and one interest may surface as the dominant writing pursuit from time to time. I enjoy blogging because it is a community experience and it always provides me with new books to read.

  • What are some of the things you have found most fulfilling about having a book blog? More books for the TBR, finding like-minded people…??

Oops, I already partially answered this question. I like the community aspect of blogging and meeting new bloggers with a variety of interests and writing styles. It’s great to read some of the more humorous stories people blog about, but it is also great to read reviews of books I haven’t discovered yet or even books I have discovered. I enjoy reading reviews that are opposite of my own as well because it provides a different outlook on what worked for that reader and what didn’t work for me and vice versa.

I hope you enjoyed this Weekly Geek, and if you have, you should sign up for the next round. I had a great time chatting with Mel at Indextrious Reader, and she was kind enough to spread the word about my contest for a copy of Mrs. Lieutenant to her readers as well. Thanks, Mel.

***Please do not forget to enter the Mrs. Lieutenant Contest, Deadline is Sept. 14.***

***Diary of an Eccentric has a contest for The Almost Moon and The Choice; Deadline is Sept. 30.***

TBR Piles and Parts of Book Shelves


Here are some photos of my TBR piles and books on the shelf. Enjoy! It’s all in the name of Weekly Geeks #14 Photo Tours

Check out these Weekly Geeks’ Photo Tours:
MizB
Kerry
Rebecca

TBR #1

TBR #2

Bookshelf #1

Finished Books

Ok, I have a number of shelves and a number of TBR piles, but I thought I would start by sharing these.

Six Quirky Things About Me

I was tagged by Anna at Diary of an Eccentric, so here goes nothing.

Here are the rules:
1. Link the person(s) who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

Here are my 6 quirky things:

1. I make plans and don’t always follow through right away, sometimes not at all.

2. Sometimes I would rather be alone in the woods screaming

3. I write poems in my head while reading books

4. I love odd numbers, especially 21, 7, 3, and 5

5. I am fascinated with the paranormal

6. I am Olympics obsessed this summer…

6 Bloggers I tagged: (please don’t feel obligated)

1. Marie at Boston Bibliophile

2. Suey at It’s All About Books

3. Darla D at Books & Other Thoughts (though I know she is on vacation)

4. Katherine at A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore

5. Tina at BookShipper

6. Dar at Peeking Between the Pages

Book Buzz List…or Eye-Popping Reads

I was tagged by Book Escape.

List three categories of books. 3 MUST Read Books, 3 Keep Your Eyes on These, and 3 Look For These Soon. Keeping with the theme, I am going to tag at least 3 bloggers. They should put these same lists on their blog but SUBTRACT one book from each list and ADD one of their own. Then they should tag at least 3 more bloggers. It will be fun to see how the lists change as it goes around the blogosphere. Please come back to this post and leave a comment so I can see how the lists are changing as they go around the blogosphere. Since this is Book Buzz…please keep your lists to titles released in 2007-2009.

3 MUST Read Books:

1. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson (My Review)
2. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
3. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

3 to Keep Your Eyes On:

  • Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer
  • Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg (My Review)
  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

3 Look For These Soon:

  • Cross Country by James Patterson (Due in November; looks like the series will continue and this series is much better than the other co-authored books have been)
  • The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran (Moran’s Nefertiti was great and I’m looking forward to the next book)
  • The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Now, I’m supposed to pick three bloggers to join in.

1. It’s All About Books (Suey)

2. Diary of an Eccentric (Anna)

3. Books & Other Thoughts (Darla D)

Weekly Geeks #10


I have not participated in Weekly Geeks as much as I would have hoped, but lives get in the way sometimes. Anyway, I decided to post on this week’s topic: The Magazines We Read

Here’s the rules:

For each magazine you want to talk about, here are a few questions. Answer as many or as few as you want.

1. Name of magazine.
2. Do you subscribe or just buy it now and then?
3. What’s your favorite regular feature in the magazine?
4. What do you think your interest in this magazine says about you?
5. How long have you been reading this magazine?
6. Is there any unique or quirky aspect to the magazine that keeps you reading?

So here it goes:

1. Writer’s Digest

I have subscribed to this magazine off and on, mostly on since I was a pre-teen. I’ve been writing even longer than that. What this magazine says about me is that writing is an important part of me. I love the monthly contests with sentence prompts and the feature articles, which can vary from novel writing tips to whether an MFA is worth it.

2. Poetry

I’m a poet who has subscribed to this poetry journal for about three years now. I love the poems in it, though the translation issue sometimes falls flat for me. I love reading the latest poems from people we know, like Billy Collins, but also from people I don’t know.

3. Poets & Writers

I have had a love hate relationship with this magazine throughout the last eight years. i subscribe and unsubscribe, but currently, the editor is on target with me. The latest issue is about summer reading. What’s great about this magazine is that it is not only about writing, it’s also about the latest books, poetry or fiction, that are out on the market and what living poets and writers have to say about their craft and the state of literature and publishing today. What this says about me is that I enjoy reading as much as writing, and that I am concerned about the state of the literature and the market.

4. AGNI

This literary journal is part of my own private war. I’ve always wanted to be published in this journal to prove a point to an old professor of mine, but thus far, it has not happened. I have subscribed to it for a couple of years at a time, but mostly I just buy it in the bookstore once in a while. I continue to look through it to find my niche. I will win this battle some day.

5. The Virginia Quarterly Review

This is a journal that I have not subscribed to, and will probably continue to just pick up when I find an interesting issue in the bookstore. I’m not sure what it says about me, but I have read issues over the last five years. This is the journal that published the “lost” poem of Robert Frost in 2006.

I’m sure there are other magazines and journals that I have forgotten about because I only get them sporadically when they have an interesting issue that I happen upon in the bookstore.

What magazines and journals are you reading?

Word Nerd Questionnaire

Word Nerd Questionnaire

1. At what level would you describe yourself as a writer (for instance, just starting to take myself seriously; searching for a graduate program, etc.)?

I would love to finish a novel. I have three started, and none are finished. I am a published poet with several poems published in online and print journals.

2. What genre(s) do you write?

Poetry, novel, and short story

3. How do you fit writing into your life right now?

Usually on Wed. nights because the Hubby is off at class.

4. What is your goal for this project (June 1-Aug. 31)?

To finish a novel or get so close I can taste it.

5. What steps do you plan to take to reach that goal?

Set aside more writing and editing time, make definitive efforts to keep to a schedule

6. How do you reward yourself (or how would you like to be rewarded) when you meet a goal?

A stop at the library or bookstore for a book I am dying to read. Chocolate or cheesecake are good as well.

7. What writing craft books do you have/like?

I have a ton of writing books, but the 3am Epiphany has helped with my writer block.

8. Any craft books you’re interested in checking out?

I’m open to most any book, particularly those dealing with the long haul of writing novels, though I cannot outline to save my soul. I would really love to get the Art of Fiction by Gardner.

9. What inspires your writing?

My muse; honestly, I have no idea…things I observe in life

10. How would your author’s blurb read?

Small town girl with big dreams writes larger-than-life stories

11. Tell us about your family (partners, kids, pets, etc.)

One husband, one dog, two cats; that’s enough; some great and not so great friends.

12. Have you ever participated in Nanowrimo (finished or not!)?

twice, never finished. (one of the unfinished novels is a result of Nanowrimo)

13. What can you do to make it easier on yourself to meet your goal for this project?

Set an achievable writing goal for three days out of the week.

14. What are you looking for in terms of support from a writing partner (ex. Exchanging work for critique, being held accountable for meeting a word count goal, etc.)?

critiques and being held accountable to the writing times

15. What crafty pursuits do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

Photography and scrapbooking

16. What other hobbies/past times do you like?

Reading and tennis and hiking

17. What non-writing-craft books have you enjoyed?

Pride & Prejudice is my favorite.

18. What else would you like to share with us?

I cannot wait to get started.

Weekly Geeks Challenge 2


Hello all. I took it upon myself to start up a new policy in which I like to other blog reviews of the books I review here. Luckily, I had limited it to the last two reviews, “Human Dark With Sugar” by Brenda Shaughnessy and “Remember Me?” by Sophie Kinsella, plus all future reviews. A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore was one of the first to take me up on the offer. However, some gave me links to their reviews for older reviews on my site, like The Bookworm, who provided me with her Twilight series links. I added her posts anyway.

I believe I even offered some of my links to other bloggers as well, though right now I am struggling to remember to whom. I have a terrible memory and should start writing these things down, particularly if I plan on participating in challenges. I believe I offered a Pride & Prejudice review link and Stephenie Meyer links to The Bookworm. I also think I gave a link to my The Road review to Book Escape.

I really enjoyed reading other bloggers reviews, and I like the idea of reciprocity between fellow book reviewers and bloggers. I think it is a great idea.

I hope more people offer their links to any of my reviews. Just know it will take me some time to add your stuff to older posts.

3rd Poetry Contest Winner..and Weekly Geeks

Thanks to all who participated this past month in my celebration of National Poetry Month. I hope everyone had fun with the contest. The winner of the third leg of the contest was SUEY! She claims that she never wins anything, but I think she has better luck than I do with contests. Anyway, she will receive a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems. Billy Collins provides the introduction for this volume.

I also wanted to provide you with some of my favorites from Weekly Geeks last challenge to find five blogs that were new to me. Yes, I know that I am late this time around, but I had a really busy weekend. So here are the five:

1. Ravenous Reader: I like the bit of personal stuff she provides at the beginning of many of her reviews, allowing us some insight into her daily activities and routines, and I like how she selects passages from what she is reading to illustrate her points. But honestly, it’s the town of this blog that catches my eye because it is so relaxed and yet serious about reading. I love it.

2. Can I Borrow Your Book?: This is another fellow book reviewer and lover who integrates personal notes with reviews and even photos and anecdotes outside of the book realm. I just loved the concept of the title, which is what initially drew me into her blog. However, I think I may stick with this one as well, if not just for the month of May Book Binge Challenge.

book binge

3. The Written Word: Ok, yes, this is another blog that is a mix of personal notes and reviews, but this one also seems to have frequent contests, and what girl/woman doesn’t want to try and win free stuff? I love doing contests when I can, but I can truly say that I never win any! LOL Doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.

4. Book Escape: I’m not sure that this one counts for the challenge because it was actually a redirect from The Written Word. I just loved how the review of The Road started off. I like her honestly in having a hard time with those books, but reading it anyway. I also enjoyed the fact that she read it after her husband recommended it. I enjoyed that book, my review here.

I have not picked out a fifth yet, given the busy weekend I just had, but I will post an update of this challenge later on when I have a fifth blog to post. In the meantime, please check out these 4.

Weekly Geeks, Challenge 2:

For those book reviewers and bloggers who review the same books as I do or the last two I have reviewed, please send me a link or place your link in the comments, and I will revise my post to connect to your review as well. Sounds simple. Just remember it will be for the new reviews or the last two books: “Remember Me?” by Sophie Kinsella or “Human Dark With Sugar” by Brenda Shaughnessy.

Weekly Geeks Challenge

Weekly Geeks Challenge

I need to generate further traffic to this review site, and I figured this would be a prime opportunity to do so. Also, it provides me with an opportunity to learn about other blog review sites and generate new blogging buddies. Thanks Suey for blogging about this challenge and giving me the idea.

Today, at some point, I plan to review those bloggers listed on the site to find some new blogs to read. Should be an interesting adventure, and I will keep you posted about sites that I find.

I hope everyone will consider joining as well.

Until then, remember my National Poetry Month Contest? May 2 is the last day to enter the final round of the contest for your FREE volume of poetry.