If Donald Trump Inspired a Joseph Finder Novel

FinderFakeAt the 2016 Tucson Festival of Books, Joseph Finder discussed the high-profile sources he tapped into while doing research for his novels. A co-panelist asked, “Who?” “Billionaires,” Finder responded. “Trump?” “He’s not a billionaire.” But not all Finder’s characters are billionaires. Many of them face relative financial challenges. So… what if Trump was in a Joseph Finder novel?
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Scaffolding Challenging Books As an Adult

Back in high school, teachers provided me with the skills that helped when a book challenged my ability to pay attention. Without that influence and as a slow reader, I fell into a pattern with comfort books (easy-to-read books read primarily for relaxation). Tackling a book like Wolf Hall, with its lack of antecedents, or The Good Death, with its dense factivism, diminishes my TBR consumption from slow plow to long slog. I’m not sure why I decided to read Wolf Hall and The Good Death concurrently, but I did. I’ve always had self-punitive reading tendencies. This post is for those of us who choose to go beyond comfort books and need a refresher on tips and tricks to tackle challenging books without returning to the demoralizing practice of gutting through it.

Scaffolding Challenging Books As an Adult: Wolf Hall
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Book Review: The Good Death by Ann Neumann

The-Good-DeathIn her book The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America, Ann Neumann challenges the idea that we must extend human life at whatever cost–financial, physical, emotional or spiritual. I came into this book the same way Neumann did. We provided the intimate work of caring for our dying fathers, the in-home care that allows zero privacy and leaves zero pride. My father may have had a “good enough” death under my roof while Neumann’s father had a “good enough” death at a hospice facility, but our journeys meandered similarly along confused pathways. However, The Good Death is not the end-of-life care examination I preconceived; it covers a great deal more territory.
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2016 TFOB Recap: The Rich Die Differently

Nothing uplifts this book lover’s spirits like starting my favorite festival of the year examining social justice in fictional murder mysteries! The 2016 Tucson Festival of Books panel, “The Rich Die Differently”, was stacked with intriguing authors and perhaps my favorite moderator this year, Julie Kramer. The journalist-turned-novelist asked smart questions without getting in the way of the panelists’ answers. That didn’t stop the panelists from disagreeing with the premise of the session right from the get-go.

2016 TFOB Recap: The Rich Die Differently

L to R: Terry Mort, G.M. Malliet, Julie Kramer, Joseph Finder.

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Book Review: Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

Book Review: Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

Normally, I don’t spoil a good read by looking up reviews of books that I want to read, but in the case of Lust and Wonder: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs, I did. Not surprisingly the reviews come in two flavors–favorable and not favorable. The overwhelmingly positive reviews likely come from people who are just diving into Burroughs’ work and superfans. Those who didn’t review the new memoir kindly probably know too much about Burroughs and feel as though there’s not much mystery left. Burroughs’ similarly reviews his relationships in Lust and Wonder.
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Book Review: Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Book Review: Evicted by Matthew Desmond

When a room of parents at a PTA meeting at a Title 1 school audibly squirmed in response to my assertion that I would drink milk on its sell-by date, the armor I wore in childhood to make my poverty less hurtful clamped down around me. Many children at that school would drink milk on its sell-by date and likely have a parent who knows how to make use of spoiled milk. While my early experiences with poverty remain near the surface, the one type of poverty-related insecurity I didn’t fear is eviction. That’s the focus of Arizona-born Matthew Desmond’s new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit In the American City.

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Book Review: The Young Elites Series by Marie Lu

Book Review: The Young Elites Series by Marie Lu

The debate in my house about which is better, Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy or The Young Elites trilogy in progress, is more of an exercise in book chat than to make an actual determination. We share an appreciation of both, though we have preferences. My sci-fi boy likes the tech-y world depected in Legend. He read it alongside classic dystopian books, including 1984 and Brave New World. I prefer The Young Elites but not because it takes place in a classical, romantic world.

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Book Review: We That Are Left by Clare Clark

We That Are Left by Clare Clark

I fell in love with Clare Clark’s writing the moment I broke into We That Are Left in spite of the grammatically irritating title. I wondered what she had to say about appearances that deceive and those who are titled pretending at something while we who are not titled aspire to their falsehoods. I jotted down lines and page numbers of favorite descriptions and passages. Such great writing promises a great story. In the end, I felt cheated of that great story just as the wealthy cheat at status and the poor are cheated.

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Dinner with Goosebumps Author R.L. Stine

My favorite part of this photo is how obviously thrilled Stine is. My second is the eerie specter looming over Stine's shoulder.

My favorite part of this photo is how obviously thrilled Stine is. My second is the eerie specter looming over Stine’s shoulder.


Since the new Goosebumps movie came out on October 3, I decided to revisit my night with R.L. Stine at the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books Author Dinner.

If you are a writer your children will be nonreaders, at least that’s what bestselling author R.L. Stine told me at dinner. He offers his son as an example. His son read book after book of Garfield cartoons but nary a Goosebumps. When I suggested Stine was putting me on about his son not reading his work he says, “That’s something nice people like you say.” (I often make it through entire meals without revealing my monstrous side.)
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