09.30.20

Book Club & W.W. Norton Present: Nick Flynn in conversation with Paul Lisicky

Posted in Event at 8:03 pm by Amber

Book Club & W.W. Norton & Co. Present: Nick Flynn in conversation with Paul Lisicky

This Is The Night Our House Will Catch Fire is a breathtaking work of spare lyricism and astonishing insights. Rarely does a memoir speak so openly about marriage alongside childhood trauma. And rarely does a work engage so deeply with how our sorrows affect our children. Flynn’s masterpiece confronts our deepest ethical dilemmas and imparts the hard-won knowledge that “love, like everything, is a daily practice.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nick Flynn is the author of three previous memoirs, including the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award-winning Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, and four volumes of poetry. A professor on the creative writing faculty at the University of Houston, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Paul Lisicky is an American novelist and memoirist. He is an associate professor in the MFA Program at Rutgers University-Camden, and the author of several books. 

I was browsing Crowdcast looking for an event that I knew was supposed to be this week but I hadn’t signed up for and I came across this about 2 minutes before it started. I’m a Nick Flynn fan and didn’t even know he had a new book out last month. It’s definitely going on my TBR list.

When his daughter was seven she earnestly asked him what his life was like at her age. He began telling stories to her about his life then such as trying to get as close to the grumpy old man’s house without getting shot, and the night his house caught on fire. As a child he was told raccoons in the attic caught the house on fire. As an adult, he realized that his mom actually committed arson, and as a father he realized setting the house on fire with children inside was really irresponsible. Through three trips back to his hometown with his daughter in tow, he revisits that time of his life.

Flynn and Lisicky are old friends and the conversation flowed very naturally. I wish you could’ve seen the enthusiasm when they were talkin about the books they’d read in the last 5-6 months.

09.18.20

Faking It by Rebecca Smith

Posted in Review at 11:28 am by Amber

Title: Faking It
Author: Rebecca Smith
Publisher: Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter
Source: NetGalley

Meet Hannah Thompson: wife, mother, teacher and… secret erotica author?

My Guilt List:

1. If we have a date night then I’m always asleep before it’s halfway through and honestly, if I had to choose, I’d rather have a hot bath and read my book than engage in any other nocturnal activity.

2. If we do actually have you-know-what then it’s not unheard of for my mind to wander… and I’m not talking about sexy things – I’m talking about what food there is in the fridge and when the car is due for its next service.

3. I am struggling to write about anything that could be classed as even a little bit sexually adventurous which is a problem when I’m supposed to be an erotica writer and I am speaking at Sex Con in exactly one month.

With a book to publicise, Hannah has no choice but trade her M&S cardis for S&M parties, and become her writing alter-ego. What could possibly go wrong…

So, Hannah is married with children at home, has written a published erotica novel titled More Than Sex under the pseudonym of Twinky Malone, and teaches part-time. Surely we can all agree that competing priorities and imposter syndrome can get in the way of success, right?

I found Hannah’s predicament very relatable. She’s got heart and struggles to juggle those priorities. Hannah figures out whose opinions matter the most to her and definitely has a story arc of change from the beginning to the end.

Some readers have found this laugh out loud funny but not me. I found some of the situations and descriptions to be humorous. Overall, this was a sweet, funny book.

09.14.20

Swashbuckling Cats edited by Rhonda Parrish

Posted in Review at 4:34 pm by Amber

Title: Swashbuckling Cats
Editor: Rhonda Parrish
Publisher: Tyche Books
Source: NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book cover of Swashbuckling Cats

If you think cats and water don’t mix, think again.

Plunge into worlds of piratical cats: some selfish, some mischievous, all fond of hitting the catnip stash. From ships on the deep blue sea, to ships flying through the depths of space, and even visiting from beyond the veil, these cats are determined and on a mission.

Featuring fourteen “tails” of adventure-loving cats, puns, and fun by: Megan Fennell; S.G. Wong; Rebecca Brae; Grace Bridges; Lizz Donnelly; Blake Liddell; Frances Pauli; JB Riley; Joseph Halden; Leslie Van Zwol; Krista D. Ball; Chadwick Ginther; Rose Strickman; and Beth Cato.

May 26th was the virtual release party for this book of short stories. I’m a friend and fan of Rhonda’s. I’m not a fan of cats (a barn cat peed on me when I was 10) but I can appreciate them and I figured I’d get around to reading it at some point. Lo, and behold, a few days after the release party when I was looking through available books on NetGalley I saw it was available. So I asked for it and was approved!

Overall, this short story collection is a good one. I always love to see the diversity achieved with the same prompt. These swashbuckling cats aren’t confined to nautical vessels. And the cats include ghost cats, pirate cats, shape-shifting cats, and kittens. Definitely not a one size fits all anthology.

My favorite story was “Buccaneer’s Revenge” by JB Riley. It tackles the pirate cat angle completely differently from the others. No, I won’t spoil it! There are puns for names which some might find childish or silly. I found them quite clever and they made me smile.

My second favorite story was “All Cats Go to Valhalla” by Chadwick Ginther. From the title it’s easy to guess this is a viking themed story. From the opening line you know it’s bad but you don’t know just how bad this journey is for another paragraph or so. Does Odin allow cats into Valhalla or do they go to Folkvangr with Freyja? You’ll have to read it to find out.

09.09.20

Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne

Posted in Review at 5:52 pm by Amber

New York Times bestselling author Kevin Hearne returns to the world of his beloved Iron Druid Chronicles in a spin-off series about an eccentric master of rare magic solving an uncanny mystery in Scotland.

Ink & Sigil is escape reading, and I loved every word.”—Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of A Longer Fall

Al MacBharrais is both blessed and cursed. He is blessed with an extraordinary white moustache, an appreciation for craft cocktails—and a most unique magical talent. He can cast spells with magically enchanted ink and he uses his gifts to protect our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae.

But he is also cursed. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to feel an inexplicable hatred for Al, so he can only communicate through the written word or speech apps. And his apprentices keep dying in peculiar freak accidents. As his personal life crumbles around him, he devotes his life to his work, all the while trying to crack the secret of his curse.

But when his latest apprentice, Gordie, turns up dead in his Glasgow flat, Al discovers evidence that Gordie was living a secret life of crime. Now Al is forced to play detective—while avoiding actual detectives who are wondering why death seems to always follow Al. Investigating his apprentice’s death will take him through Scotland’s magical underworld, and he’ll need the help of a mischievous hobgoblin if he’s to survive.

I was approved to review this on NetGalley and am looking forward to reading it! Publication Date was 8/25/2020. We could have a read-off to see who finishes it first. 🙂

09.03.20

The Big Get-Even by Paul Di Filippo

Posted in Review at 10:45 pm by Amber

Title: The Big Get-Even
Author: Paul Di Filippo
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Source: NetGalley

A disbarred lawyer and an ex-arsonist cross paths and find themselves organizing an elaborate real estate scam to bilk a shady rich speculator out of twenty million dollars. The sting is personal for ex-arsonist Stan and for a woman named Vee, who plays an essential role in the caper. Glen, the narrator and former lawyer, finds himself at first just along for the money. Eventually, as bonds deepen among the conspirators, Glen too discovers he has a lot more at stake than simply the loot.

This cast of lively eccentrics discover along the way that getting to the big payoff might just be more scary fun than the monetary prize itself.

Back in September 2017 I think I finished this book in record time, began to write the review, and a lost internet connection lost the review. Frustration can get the best of me at times. (This is why you get this review about three years after I read it.)

This book was not frustrating at all. It had an old time caper or heist feel to it but had a few modern touches to indicate the the story is set in the present day.

To some this might be boring but I really like it when I’m reading a book and the imagery is so vivid I can picture it playing out like a movie in my head.

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