Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Sunday, January 29, 2017

An interesting take on immigration...soon to be a movie

Sweetness in the Belly is an odd title, so it stands out when you see it turn up in "also reads" and "recommended" comments online. Camilla Gibbs' novel is about a young women raised in Africa who flees to England finds herself a stranger in a strange land. The  book is being adapted for a movie and will star the wonderful Saoirse Ronan as the protatonist.

Shakespeare, Time Travel, Macbeth

The Shakespeare Standard has an interview with Invisible Hand author James Hartley today, and his new "Shakespeare Moon" series sounds intriguing. The plot takes a contemporary kid back to Scotland and entangles him with the events of Macbeth. I think that's a fantastic idea. I never understood why high schools insisted on inflicting Julius Caesar on students as their first introduction to Shakespeare. Yes, yes, it's got "Friends, Romans, and Countrymen, lend me your ears" but it's really not one of the most riveting plays. But Macbeth?  It's got sex. It's got intrigue. It's got WITCHES. Start out with Macbeth and you might just end up with a kid who likes Shakespeare.

Here's the sales pitch:

The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland. There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in Macbeth, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeare´s Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

This is Dr. Seuss in 1941


Friday, January 27, 2017

NEVER FORGET


Today is Multicultural Children's Book Day

There are book lists and recommendations all over the Internet today, suggestions to widen the horizons of readers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Because, science!!


Tuesday read

Hannah Arendt died nearly 42 years ago, but her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, is newly relevant. Your local library almost certainly has a copy of the book, which is a landmark work of social criticism and analysis.

Here's the Wikipedia article about the book. Here's the book description from Amazon:

The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

We are the storm...

I marched today in a sister/solidarity march for the Women's March in D.C. The crowd was packed with women and men and children, and dogs. The signs were an eclectic collection of pleas, protests, and observations about a variety of issues. Mostly, in line with the wishes of the organizers, there were no anti-Trump messages.
There was a lone Trump protestor who waved a black flag with Trump's name on it and randomly shouted, "Who did we elect?" He was drowned out by shouts of "Love trumps hate."
This poster art was shared with me by a fellow marcher. I don't know who the artist is, but I love the sentiment so I hope s/he won't mind that I've shared it here.
This is a movement.
We are not going away.
We will hold the president and his cabinet accountable. And we will not let the "new normal" destroy the country ALL of us hold dear.
Power to the people. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Now more than ever...read!


The Bronze Horseman

I have been on something of a Russian history binge since reading Eva Stachniak's luminous historical novel about Catherine the Great, The Winter Palace. The Bronze Horseman is a novel that kept coming up when I was checking out sales rank on my own The Summer Garden. I'd always thought it had a handsome cover, and I finally read the description, which compares it to both The Thorn Birds and Dr. Zhivago. Juicy love stories both. I may have to get this book.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I tremble for my country


Serpent on the Rock by Kurt Eichenwald

I would say this book should probably be required reading as we head into the Trump presidency.

This is the sales pitch:  A real-life thriller—the story of kickbacks and payoffs, of shady deals struck in secret with known felons; a story in which half a million people lose enormous sums—some their life’s savings—in the largest securities fraud of the 1980s, with names like Onassis and Bush numbered among the victims.

So many book lists!

I live in the Pacific Northwest, which is blessed with wonderful bookstores, including Village Bookstore in Bellingham and Powell's Bookstore.  The Powell's staff in Portland, Oregon has an outstanding book blog, and they have this great list. I've only read a couple of the books on the list, so clearly, I have some reading to do.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Matt Taibbi's New Book

Read a little bit about Insane Clown President at Rolling Stone.

An Agatha Christie mystery

Not written by Agatha Christie--but using Agatha Christie as a character.Not only is this a GREAT cover, but the sales pitch makes it sound really fun:

Hoping to make a clean break from a fractured marriage, Agatha Christie boards the Orient Express in disguise. But unlike her famous detective Hercule Poirot, she can’t neatly unravel the mysteries she encounters on this fateful journey.
Agatha isn’t the only passenger on board with secrets. Her cabinmate Katharine Keeling’s first marriage ended in tragedy, propelling her toward a second relationship mired in deceit. Nancy Nelson—newly married but carrying another man’s child—is desperate to conceal the pregnancy and teeters on the brink of utter despair. Each woman hides her past from the others, ferociously guarding her secrets. But as the train bound for the Middle East speeds down the track, the parallel courses of their lives shift to intersect—with lasting repercussions.
Filled with evocative imagery, suspense, and emotional complexity, The Woman on the Orient Express explores the bonds of sisterhood forged by shared pain and the power of secrets.

Mysteries with Senior Sleuths

My mystery book club is meeting today and our subject is Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg's "International Bestseller" The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules. One of the club members suggested it, and it's a fun book but it is not super mysterious.  Here's the sales copy:

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel meets The Italian Job in internationally-bestselling author Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg’s witty and insightful comedy of errors about a group of delinquent seniors whose desire for a better quality of life leads them to rob and ransom priceless artwork.
Martha Andersson may be seventy-nine-years-old and live in a retirement home, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to stop enjoying life. So when the new management of Diamond House starts cutting corners to save money, Martha and her four closest friends—Brains, The Rake, Christina and Anna-Gretta (a.k.a. The League of Pensioners)—won’t stand for it. Fed up with early bedtimes and overcooked veggies, this group of feisty seniors sets about to regain their independence, improve their lot, and stand up for seniors everywhere.
Their solution? White collar crime. What begins as a relatively straightforward robbery of a nearby luxury hotel quickly escalates into an unsolvable heist at the National Museum. With police baffled and the Mafia hot on their trail, the League of Pensioners has to stay one walker’s length ahead if it’s going to succeed….
Told with all the insight and humor of A Man Called Ove or Where’d You Go Bernadette?, The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules is a delightful and heartwarming novel that goes to prove the adage that it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.

Reading the book made me think--where are all the books featuring older sleuths? Yes, yes, there's Agatha Christie's "Miss Marple" series and Dorothy Gilman's wonderful Emily Pollifax novels. But the only books that came to mind were Daniel Friedman's terrific Buck Schatz novels, Don't Ever Get Old and Don't Ever Look Back.  I reviewed Don't Ever Look Back for Criminal Element nearly three years ago and I've been waiting for another book in the series ever since.

I decided to go Googling around to see what else is on offer and the answer is, not a whole lot. Rita Lakin and Madison Johns and Lorena McCourtney all write cozy mysteries staring LOL (Little Old Lady) detectives. And the books sound like fun reads. But where are the books that feature senior citizens who aren't cozy and cuddly. I have a strong dislike for all the euphemisms used to describe old people. I grew up in a three-generation household and believe me when I tell you, I learned early that being old is not fun and it's not for the weak-willed. But I also learned that old people could be fearless and tough and wily and smart and funny and inventive. I learned to value them.  Every time I see movie ticket prices broken out into "child/adult/senior" I think--is a senior a defective adult? Why not just do the age group thing? Under 12/Over 50? And if I ever hear the phrase "Ninety years young" applied to me, I might vomit all over the person who says it.
But I digress--a habit I have that will likely only get worse as I age but I tell you now, it's been with me since I was a child, so you won't be able to attribute it to my advancing years. Where are the mystery books with protagonists who are no longer young? If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.


 


Monday, January 16, 2017

Free mysteries, thrillers and horror stories

This offer will be up for a week. Check out the offerings here.

MLK meme for MLK Day


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Monday meme


Gabby Giffords speaking truth to power

I admire Gabby Giffords so much. Watching her speech at the 2016 DNC brought me to tears. But because I write a lot of dark fiction, when I saw this meme, I had a thought. You know all those cheesy revenge fantasy movies out there? Usually with someone like Clint Eastwood or Jason Statham in them?
"Their mistake was they left him alive..."
I thought--if she'd died, people would have mourned her, but she didn't die and she came back to become the gun lobby's worst nightmare. I stand with Gabby; if you do too, find out more about what you can do at Americans for Responsible Solutions.

More Free SF and Fantasy Books

Tons of books by best-selling authors in half a dozen sub-genres of fantasy and science fiction and all FREE!!!!!  Check out the offerings here.

MLK Day...it's not just about the day off


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Proof that the PRINCESS BRIDE is *everything*


Free Art Downloads

The Amplifier Foundation, which "creates unique visual campaigns and story-telling with their non-profit partners" is offering free downloads of some fantastic art, including this poster for the women's march. Get yours here.

Free books!

I buy a lot of books. I buy them at the grocery store, at yard sales, at library sales, at bookstores. I buy them online. (I love those penny and postage deals at Amazon.) I have a library card but my local library is so small that when I bring in bags of books to donate, it doubles their inventory. So. Books. I love them.

I also love my kindle. And my kindle app for phone. And for computer. So I buy ebooks too. But I also partake of the many, many, many freebie promotions. Because the only thing better than a book is a FREE book. Here's the latest InstaFreebie promotion for thrillers. If you like free books too, check it out.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Writer Whose Work Scares Stephen King!

Stephen King is known to be generous in his blurbs, but even so, I'll take his recommendation of a writer any day. This is the newest book from Nick Cutter. (Doesn't his name just SOUND like a horror writer? Or maybe a thriller writer? It's from Simon and Schuster (which also publishes King), and here's the sales pitch:

An all-new epic tale of terror and redemption set in the hinterlands of midcentury New Mexico from the acclaimed author of The Troop—which Stephen King raved “scared the hell out of me and I couldn’t put it down...old-school horror at its best.”

From electrifying horror author Nick Cutter comes a haunting new novel, reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and Stephen King’s It, in which a trio of mismatched mercenaries is hired by a young woman for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven. Shortly after they arrive, things begin to turn ominous. Stirrings in the woods and over the treetops—the brooding shape of a monolith known as the Black Rock casts its terrible pall. Paranoia and distrust grips the settlement. The escape routes are gradually cut off as events spiral towards madness. Hell—or the closest thing to it—invades Little Heaven. The remaining occupants are forced to take a stand and fight back, but whatever has cast its dark eye on Little Heaven is now marshaling its powers...and it wants them all.

Sounds good, doesn't it?  The book was published this week. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

199 books for 99 cents each

Who doesn't love book sales?Here's where you can find all the details.

Kattomic Energy Book Club pick for January

The phrase "rape culture" has recently resurfaced in American discourse--fueled by the charges against predators as diverse as Bill Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, and Bill Clinton and the boasts of our president elect--but this book does the best job of clarifying the "problem" and offering solutions.
This is from the product page:

Every seven minutes, someone in America commits a rape. And whether that's a football star, beloved celebrity, elected official, member of the clergy, or just an average Joe (or Joanna), there's probably a community eager to make excuses for that person.

In Asking for It, Kate Harding combines in-depth research with an in-your-face voice to make the case that twenty-first-century America supports rapists more effectively than it supports victims. Drawing on real-world examples of what feminists call "rape culture"—from politicos' revealing gaffes to institutional failures in higher education and the military—Harding offers ideas and suggestions for how we, as a society, can take sexual violence much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.

Read the Rolling Stone interview with Kate Harding here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Michael Malone book I haven't read!

Michael Malone is one of my favorite writers. His book Handling Sin is hands-down the funniest road trip book I've ever read. I also love his mysteries. I did not know this book existed--it was published in 2002--until it popped up when I was looking at one of my books to see if I had any new reviews. This is like a late Christmas present. Malone writes about southerners in a way that is absolutely true to the best parts and I cannot wait to dig into this collection of short stories. You can find Red clay, blue cadillac here.

Artwork by Narya Marcille

Artist Narya Marcille has made this awesome image public.

Find her work on Etsy.

Follow her on Pinterest.

Spread her name far and wide.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sunday Meme: Life imitates Art



The Russian Hacking of the 2016 election

Here's a link to download the unclassified intelligence report on the Russian hacking. Hint--the Russians really did it and Vladimir Putin orchestrated it.

Investigative Journalism is not Dead

“Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect: like a man, who hath thought of a good repartee when the discourse is changed, or the company parted; or like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.”
Jonathan Swift

Fake news is everywhere today. The PEOTUS blames the press itself, labeling reporters "dishonest" (at best) or "scum" (at worst). Delegitimizing the press, trying to muzzle it, is a familiar first step on the road to autocracy, which makes it all the more important to seek out information and compare notes and think.

Don't believe every Tweet you read. Instead, seek out real news, which is currently coming from a variety of unlikely sources, including Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Teen Vogue.  The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), founded by the Center for Public Integrity, is a group of 165 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries. Most famous for breaking the "Panama Papers" story, they have also exposed smuggling, trafficking, and dirty dealings in a number of industries, including Big Tobacco and Asbestos. You can find their website here.

The organization cherishes its role as "global muckraker" and is dedicated to:  ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.



Friday, January 6, 2017

Women making Herstory

CHANGE THE WORLD, the cover line urges readers, offering 28 bold thinkers and unsung heroes to inspire YOU today. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling the need for a little inspiration and I can't think of a better place to start than with the new issue of Essence Magazine featuring the stars of Hidden Figures on the cover.The story of the team of African-American women mathematicians who helped launch the nation's space program is a must-see movie (and a must-read book).

And Justice for All

Not just rich white males. Senator Jeff Sessions is PEOTUS' pick for Attorney General. This is a terrible choice for pretty much anyone who isn't an American-born male ofNorthern European extraction

Don't take my word for it. Here's a link to a Washington Post article entitled "10 Things to Know About Jeff Sessions." (The article actually has a couple of good things to say about Senator Sessions, which honestly, I do not.) Also, if you'd like a refresher on what exactly the Attorney General does and why it matters who it is, here's a link to a Wikipedia article.

Here's a petition you can sign to let lawmakers know you are appalled at the prospect of this man becoming Attorney General of the United States.

New Maisie Dobbs...In This Grave Hour

I'm part of a mystery book club and the other members introduced me to Jacqueline Winspear's "Maisie Dobbs" series. When the series opens, Maisie is newly returned to London after her service as a nurse in WWI.  Now the books are into the next World War and In This Grave Hour, the focus is on refugees. The author discusses her fictional refugee crisis with the one going on IRL on her website.  I cannot wait to read this new book. Maisie is a complicated and complex character.  And the books are beautifully designed.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New from USA TODAY Best-selling author Cristine Pope

If you're a fan of Christine Pope's "Witches of Cleopatra Hill" series (and who isn't?), you'll want to snap up her new novella, The Arrangement. Set in 19th century Flagstaff, it continues to fill in the backstory of the Wilcox witch clan. It's filled with great period detail and the plot is achingly romantic.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hawthorne by Heath Lowrance...a review



Don't go to Coyote Hill, they'd told him in the last town. They got they-selves some black magic out there. It ain't natural. They's things that hunt out in that desert, demons and what-not. And they don't care none if it's beast or man they kill ...

Heath Lowrance knows how to start a story, doesn’t he? This collection of linked tales centers on the enigmatic Hawthorne, a gray-eyed man on a tall black horse who has been known by other names at other times and places. He is a man who can be touched by innocence, but not by beauty and his path is a lonely one. And a bloody one. Because where Hawthorne goes, death follows.

If your only experience with the “weird western” genre is the movie Cowboys and Aliens, you’re in for a treat. These stories are filled with monsters, both supernatural and human, and after you read the story, “the Spider Tribe,” you will never look at arachnids the same way again. Lowrance braids his stories together out of bits and pieces of western myth—the lone avenger, coyote legends—and ties them off with a modern, blood-soaked sensibility that is tough and taut. When he writes a fight scene, you feel the fist impact the flesh and get the idea that maybe the writer’s been in a fight or two himself. Do yourself a favor and read Hawthorne while you’re waiting for the Dark Tower miniseries to air. Enjoy the underpinnings of the horror and the atmospherics of the land that Hawthorne inhabits. And enjoy being scared to death. When the gray-eyed man with the scarred face shows up, things get weird. 

I interviewed Heath Lowrance four years ago. (I know a good writer when I read one.) You can read that interview here.



One Under the Sun...the new trailer is here!

The new trailer for the science fiction movie I wrote, One Under the Sun, is now playing on YouTube. It's also now on pre-order at iTunes, and will be available as VOD later this year. Yes, I am excited.  (Especially since I've never seen the movie all the way through.) Follow the movie on Facebook. Follow us on Instagram (@oneunderthesunmovie).  Generally--get in touch!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

It's tome to not be nice

In the movie Road House, the late Patrick Swayze plays legendary bouncer Dalton and in one of the movie's best moments, he tells some wannabe bouncers the way it's going to be. "Be nice," he says. "Until it's time not to be nice any more."

I think about that sometimes when I hear people offering up lame arguments for something, like abolishing school lunches because it affront's a kid's "dignity" to be offered food when he's hungry. (That, to me, is Paul Ryan's lowest moment and it had to beat out stiff competition for the honor.)

So, when I saw this meme about gun conrol, all I could think of was, "Yes."

Americans for Responsible Solutions
Everytown for Gun Safety
Newtown Action Alliance

Derek Murphy Knows Things

Derek Murphy is a book designer with a PhD in literature. I ran across this excellent blogpost he did (* Cover Design Secrets publishers use to manipulate readers into buying their books) If you're an indie author who creates your own covers, or someone who buys a lot of premades, like I do, the article is definitely worth the read.

In one instance, he points out that an author's name looks a little "crowded" on the cover. That's a problem I run into when I use my real name. On premade covers, designers often use the placeholder text: Book Title and Author Name. As it happens, "Author Name" has the same number of letters as my pseudonym, "Kat Parrish," so I usually have a pretty good idea of how it's going to look on the cover. "Katherine Tomlinson," though, is a long name, taking up 19 spaces with the space between my first and last names. It's annoying to fall in love with a design and know that your name is just not going to look good all spelled out.

The Midnight Queen is (Almost) Here

The Midnight Queen, the conclusion of the three-partstory cycle that began with Bride of the Midnight King, is in final edits. I wrote much of it while sitting by the bedside of my hospitalized best friend, who was mercifully asleep most of the time. (He's fine now.)

 The setting helped put me in the mood to write about witch kings and dark omens. (Hospitals at night are creepy places. There's a reason why Lars von Trier's The Kingdom was so eerily effective. If you've never seen it, check out the trailer here.)

I love my characters in this series and am sorry to leave them behind, but it's time. The book will be out later this month. The cover is by the wonderful people at Indie Author Services.

A book to boost your faith in humanity

I've known people who chose to die by their own hands, including one who jumped off a bridge to end his life. I found this book by accident while I was checking on titles for a client. It's about a man named Kevin Briggs who is known for talking suicides out of jumping off the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. There's a video about him on YouTube, or you can get the book here.

I write urban fantasy, and in my fiction there are "protector" characers who have a calling to help humanity. It's not often you ruin into one of these people in real life. 

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

I am a huge fan of Ryan Gattis' multi-POV novel All Involved, which revolves around the L.A. riots that ensued when an all white jury acquitted four white cops for the horrific beating of Rodney King. When this book popped up on a friend's list of the books she'd read last year, I was intrigued enough by the title, to find out more. Set in 1999 during the Seattle protests over the World Trade Organization meeting being held there, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist was Sunil Yapa's debut novel. Here's the NPR review of it. Like All Involved, the story is told by multiple characters, including a kid who's in the streets, not to protest but to sell marijuana to the activists. The NPR reviewer found Yapa's work full of compassion but decided, ultimately, that his execution was a little amateurish.On Amazon, the book has 92 reviews and comes in with a solid 4-star ranking. The top review is headlined, "Edgy, Dystopian, Melodramatic Lyricism." I'm willing to forgive a lot if a book gives me passion and lyricism. This may be my first book purchase of 2017. I'll get it here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Three Best Books about Work I've Read

Studs Terkel's oral histories are treasure troves. (The zombie novel, World War Z is actually an homage to Turkel's WWII history, The Good War.) His book Working (which was made into a musical), is a tapestry woven from many voices--celebrating the working woman and man in all their diversity. There is pride in work here--from the construction worker who likes looking at a skyline and seeing what he has helped build--but there is also despair and anger. But most of all there is a sense that work gives meaning to a life. The book was published in 1974 and in the 40-some years since, some of the jobs chronicled have ceased to exist. Writers, especially, should dip into this book--the characters are real, and fascinating, and original.

Barbara Ehrenreich is a writer with a feminist slant who has written on subjects as diverse as God and sex workers. When she set out to investigate the idea that a job--any job--could be the key to a better life, she went undercover to see just how that might work. The answer was--not very well. Her book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, is an eye-opener that anyone who has voted against a minimum wage needs to read. Ehrenreich's prose is graceful, and the book never descends into ranting, though there is passion here. She had an idea that all was not as rosy as it appeared on the surface, but some of what she found (particularly insie a "cleaning service job") shocked her. It will shock the reader too.

The latest book I'm recommending is Diane Mulcahy's The Gig Economy, which has a totally different focus. Yes, it talks about how work has transformed from a linear career to a series of "gigs" strung together by workers, but Mulcahy's focus is on how making this new reality work for a worker.  It's not just fast food workers and Uber drivers, she points out. As an adjunct professor, she's also part of the gig economy, moving from position to position in what one reviewer called, "an empowering search for freedom." As someone who has been a full-time freelancer for more than 20 years, and someone who has had to
hustle for gigs on Craigslist at times, I can vouch for the freedom, but also for the uncertainty. Mulcahy's book has some great strategies and tips for finding more and better work and also some pep alks about defining and refining goals. Well worth the read.