My Outlander love letter on this Valentine’s Day.

I forgot to post a link to this earlier this week! It is a post I wrote on Heroes and, a FUN romance fiction website.Image

Photo Source:

“Outlander is kind of a love letter to, well, love. But it is also a love letter to the novel form, to the imagination, to the senses that can be aroused simply through words in a story.”

Why does Isabel Allende need to apologize for observations on contemporary mystery fiction?

Here is her statement quoted on NPR’s site.

“The book is tongue in cheek. It’s very ironic … and I’m not a fan of mysteries, so to prepare for this experience of writing a mystery I started reading the most successful ones in the market in 2012. … And I realized I cannot write that kind of book. It’s too gruesome, too violent, too dark; there’s no redemption there. And the characters are just awful. Bad people. Very entertaining, but really bad people. So I thought, I will take the genre, write a mystery that is faithful to the formula and to what the readers expect, but it is a joke. My sleuth will not be this handsome detective or journalist or policeman or whatever. It will be a young, 16-year-old nerd. My female protagonist will not be this promiscuous, beautiful, dark-haired, thin lady. It will be a plump, blond, healer, and so forth.”

(The article is called Author Isabel Allende Apologizes For Comments About Mystery Novels, by Krishnadev Calamur.)



Isabel Allende has a right to an opinion. Why is she apologizing for these statements? They seem to be more observation than insult, no? If you can’t even make a little comment on personal taste, then how can we have any conversation? How can we know what honestly motivates writers and why they do what they do? Isn’t that important and interesting? Is it better to tread on eggshells for fear that an honest statement of opinion (not even an insult) might hurt the way people think of you and your books?

Negative is not the same as insulting.

How do you feel? Should Allende apologize for the expression of her opinions? Should readers allow writers to have opinions, too?



The Duchess and the Dragon by Jamie Carie

My Goodreads review. (Bear in mind that I refer to ‘everyone’ here; these are other Goodreads reviewers. I simply copy and pasted this here.)duchess

I was surprised at how well-done this book was in a number of ways. I won’t go into it now, but Carie is a born-storyteller and quite good at using words to make new to us feelings that we’ve all had. She also paints an almost fairy tale world – in the right places – without laying it on too thick. I did prefer the first half or so to the end, as I didn’t quite grasp what became a significant moral in the tale.

I really don’t know why everyone is so upset about ‘titillation’ in this Christian fiction novel.  I feel people have used by far the wrong term there. This was  to sexuality that is born of love; surely that has a place in God’s world and, therefore, in our representation of this world of God’s. It happens; it needs to be acknowledged in the honorable of ways. Something I liked in this book is the suggestion that there is nothing sinful about sensuosity or sexuality, from the joy Serena took in paints and colors to the physical expression between Serena and Drake.

I was really surprised that a novel with such a lovely, perfect fairy-tale-like name could prove itself so well. Kind of like the book that library-haunting readers always expect to find on a shelf but don’t.

Well, looks like I went and got into it, after all.

Welcome to my new blog!

It’s really all the old stuff from bookbash. But there will be new. This is where I’m posting now. (One day I’ll find a blog to call home!)


A Christmas present from 70 years past…

Shirley Warburton’s father really hit the nail on the head in 1943 when he gave his daughter Now, Voyager for Christmas. Boy, was that girl happy! So happy, in fact, that you can practically still hear her youthful squeals today. Can’t you? Take a look, and tell me you don’t agree. I dare you!

You see, Shirley defaced her book in the most beautiful ways…

She pasted magazine pics of the Bette Davis movie inside the front cover.


And then again on the next two pages.

Image And on another page.

ImageClearly, Shirley had no cold feet when it came to decorating her book. I know so many people – well, me – who don’t want to do anything to their books (confession: I do use bookplates), but Shirley was in a delightful class of her own.

Because she went on.


As you can see, she even colorized them with green and red.

There are more photos inside, like this one.

ImageAnd there’s even a pop-up construction as a grand finale inside the back cover.

ImageI think I love this girl. I am so fortunate that this was the used copy that turned up at my door when I ordered online. I had known that there’d be news cuttings inside, but I never dreamed it would be so wonderful. This is SO much better than a brand new copy.

Thanks, Shirley.





WordPress is putting ads on blogs now?

I don’t like that. Just remember: it’s them, not me.

Thank you, kindly.


Sentence diagramming on a Saturday night

sr b barking dogThis past Saturday, I curled up on the couch and read Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog, The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey. It was only after I’d finished the book (cover-to-cover) that I noticed what a punchline opportunity I’d created by being bookish and grammarish on the week’s most social night. Needless to say, I enjoyed myself.

I didn’t like diagramming sentences. It was, I believe, in high school we did a bit of it, a little past the usual age I gather from the book. I didn’t really care later in life in teachers’ grad school, either. But, this time I actually was looking forward to it. How times change!

Alas, there were no puzzles for me, but there was a lot of humor and a general history of diagramming as a pedagogical method. The author, Kitty Burns Florey, threw in generous anecdotes in the form of footnotes on topics historical and pertinent ( E.B. White talking about grammar) and personal and trivial (Florey’s husband at one time cleaned the car of a rock ‘n roll star who used, by stylistic necessity, double negatives – none other than Elvis Presley, dreamy crooner of You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog.) These were great fun. I love whimsy in a footnote.

If you are wondering, the Sister Bernadette of the book’s title is a nun from the days when habits were worn and knuckles rapped, though I doubt Sr. Bernadette was the kind to do that latter. The  edition I read contained a sweet afterword with info about Sister, plus photos of her! If you went to Catholic school, you will find the pics familiar and reassuring. Or, if your knuckles were rapped much, perhaps not.

Sister B. had a line – as grammar teachers tend to have – that she used for illustrating grammar points. For her, it was, “The dog barked.” This would be diagrammed on the board and built upon. Hence, the title.

I loved reading about Florey’s experiences in Sr. B.’s classes, as well as finding out who it was in the first place who created diagramming (a few people, actually), subjecting schoolchildren for generations to this, in my experience, annoying task. Oddly, I thought, Florey and her classmates loved diagramming. This was the first I’d heard of such a thing. To enjoy diagramming! I’d only ever known that as a one-line joke on a sitcom spoken, ironically, by an English teacher who tends to stay home on Saturday nights. (The Golden Girls!)

Perhaps, my favorite part of the book was a glimpse into a seventh-grade class where a really delightful group of students get very enthusiastic during their weekly sentence diagramming lesson. The precociousness of the students as they answer and joke reminded me of my own junior high classes, and likely would remind you of yours. (It was about boys, the icky things they eat and it was diagrammed amidst laughter. How can you not love that?)

So, this is a recommendation. It’s easily read in a sitting. The diagrams take up enormous space, which is good because they’d be a headache to make out otherwise. Big print makes a reader’s life so much nicer.

Did you diagram? Did it give you headaches or giggles?

This entry was posted on December 31, 2013. 4 Comments