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Archive for June, 2008

We enjoyed the “best wedding ever” this weekend when my nephew wed his beautiful bride – don’t they look like they belong on the cover of a bridal magazine?!?

It was a beautiful evening, with butterflies fluttering around the garden and smiles on everyone’s faces.

My neice participated in the ceremony by reading one of Dr. Maya Angelou’s poems.  Dr. Angelou is a prolific author, playwright and poet.  She has directed and produced television shows and movies, and is a historian and civil rights leader.  Some of her best-known works are the autobiographical book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and the Presidential Inaugural poem On The Pulse of Morning

Touched by An Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

The only poetry I’ve read in the past several years are nursery rhymes, Seussian books, and other children’s rhyming stories; clearly I’m using the term “poetry” very loosely!  The Angelou poem reminded me how much I enjoy this genre, and would like to delve back into it.  I’ve challenged myself to read more poetry over the summer, even, perhaps to commit something short to memory … any suggestions of your favorites for me to explore?

 

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Friday Freebies: June 27, 2008

Books and more are up for grabs on this week’s giveaway listing; numbers 2-4 are new this week!

  1. I’m offering my ARC of Michael Connelly’s The Brass VerdictEnter here by June 30.
  2. Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of Mrs. Lieutenant, is giving away a copy of her novel.  Just a few sentences describing your experience with a foreign/unfamiliar culture will enter you here by June 30.
  3. Karen is giving away a free book (up to $15 value) in a “buy a friend a book” promotion.  Enter here by July 3.
  4. Author Melissa Walker has a signed copy of Secrets of My Suburban Life that she wants to share.  Click here by July 2 to read about Melissa’s latest book, Violet in Private, and to enter the giveaway.
  5. Natasha at Maw Books is offering all of Stephenie Meyer’s books in a series of giveaways.  Check out all the details and enter here by June 30.
  6. Heather (aka Bookie McBookerson) is giving away a gently used hardcover of Dean Koontz’s Odd Hours.  Enter here by June 30.
  7. Lenore has a box of “Euro treats” to give to the lucky winner of her contest.  Let her know what you collect by clicking here by June 30.
  8. Fyrefly is offering a copy of the young adult novel Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage.  Read a review, an author interview and enter here by July 15.
  9. Sarah at Puss Reboots is hosting a giveaway of LoveHampton by Sherri Rifkin. The contest runs through 11PM Pacific time on July 12th
  10. Sarah at Puss Reboots is hosting a giveaway of Flight of the Goose by Lesley Thomas. The contest runs through 11PM Pacific time on July 5th
  11. Lori at Lori’s Reading Corner is offering a free book of your choice (up to $30 value) in celebration of Buy a Friend a Book.  Enter here by June 30.
  12. Lori is also offering THREE books through a Pay It Forward giveaway.  The books are:
    1. Shakedown (Pinnacle Books Fiction) by Joel Goldman
    2. Tempting Evil (Prison Break, Book 2) by Allison Brennan
    3. Certain Girls: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner         Enter here by June 29
  13. Melanie at Love to Read has How Far is the Ocean from Here by Amy Shearn available in a giveaway.  Enter here by June 29

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We braved a tremendous thunderstorm to join 40-50 others at the Harvard Book Store last night.  After previewing some other upcoming bookstore events, author Samuel Shem was introduced to a hearty round of applause. 

Shem joked that we got a “real bargain”, with his free reading: Salman Rushdie will be at the store next month; tickets for that event are $5.  He gave a nod to independent bookstores (formerly the BookSense alliance, now IndieBound), and encouraged the audience to continue to support this vital arm of the community.

He read several passages from his newest novel, The Spirit of the Place (see my review here).  As usual, I gleaned even more from hearing the author read his work than I had from my own reading of it.  There is great foreshadowing in the opening scene, when one of the characters states, “in our very brokenness…is our wealth.”  Those who have read the book will understand how that sentiment echoes at the conclusion of the story.

Shem opened up the floor to questions from the audience.  He spoke a bit about influences from his own childhood, and from his work as a psychiatrist.  When asked for advice to a would-be author, Shem replied “I write because I can’t not write“, encouraging the novice to keep at it if she has a true hunger for writing.

After the reading and question/answer session, Shem graciously signed books.  It was a very enjoyable evening; I highly recommend that you investigate author events at your local bookstore.  Many store have readings and book discussion groups listed on their websites or via an e-newsletter.

 

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Have you read the guest post by Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel?  In the post, Phyllis describes the military as a foreign culture that she and her husband learned to adapt to, and thrive in.  This left them better prepared for embracing another foreign culture (a move cross-country, where they knew no-one, leaving their support system behind).

You can read my review of Mrs. Lieutenant here, and the first four chapters of the novel at Mrs. Lieutenant’s website.  Hungry for more?  Enter this contest!  Phyllis is offering one lucky reader a copy of her book.

Simply comment below with a few sentences of your experience with a “foreign culture” and how you coped.  It could be as simple as being the new mom at a toddler playgroup, or as dramatic as a move to another continent.  All these changes require adaptation skills!

Enter by midnight on June 30.  One winner will be drawn randomly from all submissions and notified on July 1.  Good luck!

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Marie the Boston Bibliophile says: last week I asked what was the most popular book in your library- this week I’m going to ask about the most unpopular books you own. Do you have any unique books in your library- books only you have on LT? How many? Did you find cataloging information on your unique books, or did you hand-enter them? Do they fall into a particular category or categories, or are they a mix of different things? Have you ever looked at the “You and none other” feature on your statistics page, which shows books owned by only you and one other user? Ever made an LT friend by seeing what you share with only one other user?

Hmm, searching for some good lyrics for this question … I won’t post the entire song, here’s the first stanza from At Seventeen by Janis Ian:

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth

I have three unique books in my library, catalogued by no others:

  • Reading Disability: A Human Approach to the Evaluation and Treatment of Reading and Writing Difficulties
  • TUTOR: Techniques Used in the Teaching of Reading
  • A Guy Walks Goes a Bar …

The first two I have tagged “education”.  Similar in nature, one was used when I tutored at the Harvard Reading Lab as part of a class, the second was the guidebook when I spent time with Literacy Volunteers of America in Syracuse.

The third book is tagged “humor”.  I got it for my husband because he has a fondness for teaching our kids clean bar jokes.  It’s quite endearing to hear a 3-year-old recite “a termite walks into a bar and asks, is the bartender here?”  Unfortunately, many of the jokes in the book are not fit for kids, so we’ve stashed it up on a high shelf!

Books shared with exactly one user:

We picked up Ocean Potions on a cruise; I’ve never referred to it, it may be weeded out to provide shelf space to another book!  The Concord Guidebook is a fairly new acquisition (see my post about our library book sale); I have a love of local history, and that’s a “keeper!”

All of these were entered using the ISBN; I haven’t had the patience to hand-enter any books.  If it’s too old for an ISBN it hasn’t yet been catalogued by me.

As for making friends on LT based on our catalogs, I haven’t “invited” anyone due to our shared libraries.  I find I’m communicating more by posting on blogs or responding to posts on the forum.  Does that make me an LT snob of sorts?

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Phyllis Zimbler and Mitchell Miller at the Coronation Ball at Michigan State University on Saturday, November 18, 1967, sponsored by the Cadet Officers Club and the Arnold Air Society.

 

 

 

  

The U.S. Army as a Foreign Culture

Guest Post by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

 

 

In the comments to her review of MRS. LIEUTENANT, Dawn wrote this:

I enjoyed the novel because it allowed me to “experience” three things I haven’t in my life:

1. being an adult aware of the repercussions of the war in Vietnam (so I drew parallels to my own experience with the effects of the current situation in Iraq)
2. being in or involved with an active member of the military
3. moving into a culture so foreign from what I am used to, and having to figure out how far I was willing to adapt

As Dawn graciously offered me the opportunity to write a follow-up guest post to her review of the book, I wanted to talk about moving into a foreign culture:

 

Just as I began to write this post something that happened 28 years ago flashed through my mind.  My husband and I were moving from Philadelphia to Los Angeles because we wanted to live in LA even though we had no friends or family there.  A friend in Philadelphia said: “How can you leave all your friends here and start over trying to make new friends?”

 

Our reply: “We have already lived through an active-duty army experience, so we know we can make friends anywhere.”  My husband and I were no longer afraid to move someplace new.

 

Women and men who have never served in the military or have been a military spouse may have a hard time understanding that regardless what you think of a current war being fought if you are in the military (or a military spouse), the people who serve alongside you are your family.

 

Early in MRS. LIEUTENANT, Kim and Jim Benton visit the quarters of a captain and his wife.  Jim asks a question of the captain about Officers Candidate School (OCS) and this is what the captain replies:

 

“I’m talking about my buddies.  In OCS – OCS is hell on wheels, 120 days of pure hell – you can’t survive if you can’t trust your buddies and they can’t trust you.  There’s a motto – ‘Cooperate and graduate.’”

 

And that’s what I learned as a new officer’s wife in the spring of 1970.  Everyone is in the same boat.  You might as well extend a helping hand because someday you may need that helping hand in return.  In addition, you might as well try to work within the system so that your life is easier rather than harder although you can push the envelope somewhat as Sharon does in MRS. LIEUTENANT with the skit she writes for an official function.

 

Lifetime TV’s series ARMY WIVES portrays this bonding friendship between the wives of officers and the wives of enlisted men.  This was not true in 1970 – the wives of officers and enlisted men did not mix – although I understand this class separation has been easing nowadays in the military.  (If you would like to know more about current army life, read Tanya Biank’s non-fiction book ARMY WIVES that is the basis of the television series.)

 

And if you’d like to show support for military families today (or deployed soldiers), check out my website at www.mrslieutenant.com to find out how you can help.

 

(note from Dawn:  Many thanks to Lisa at Books on the Brain and Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for introducing me to Phyllis.  ** Check back on Tuesday June 24 for an announcement about a contest for a copy of Mrs. Lieutenant! **)

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Monday – Today was the last day of school for our kids!  Instead of wondering “how am I going to entertain four kids all summer?!?”  I’m taking a deep breath and thinking about swimming at the Pond, biking, picnics in the backyard, museums (yes, sorry kids, there will be museums!), day camp (yea!), just hanging out, and reading together!  Check back at the end of August to see if I have any non-gray hair left!

Tuesday – J and I are heading into Cambridge for a reading by Samuel Shem (pen name of Stephen Bergman, MD) at the Harvard Book Store.  Read my review of his new novel, The Spirit of the Place.

Marie at BostonBibliophile will post her weekly Tuesday Thingers question; what will we delve into this week?

Wednesday– I just finished reading Laurie Viera Rigler’s Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict in preparation for a phone-in interview with the author on Book Club Girl on Wednesday.  I loved this novel!  She is so witty; you’ll find some way to identify with the heroine!  You don’t have to be a Jane Austen fan to enjoy this one (although I’ve read several of her books, I’d never make it very far on a game show based on her writing!).  I’m planning to wait until after the interview to finish and post my review; Jen always has great questions to ask the author, and I find that it adds to my understanding of, and appreciation for, the book.

For anyone in the Boston area, Pagan Kennedy, author of The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories will be at the Brookline Booksmith tonight as part of a panel discussion.  I have an early copy of her book from the Santa Fe Writers Project; it will be added to my tote for reading this week.

Thursday– I’ve been corresponding with Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of Mrs. Lieutenant (read my review here), about a guest post on my blog.  I hope that we’ll have this in place in the next few days; I’m looking forward to reading what she has to share.

Friday – the end of the week … the start of another weekend … no matter how you look at it, things feel different by Friday!  I hope to have more reviews posted – there are several books screaming to be cracked open and packed along in a beach bag as we start our summer!

What events (bookish or otherwise) are on your calendar this week?

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  • Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel by Phyllis Zimbler Miller
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (April 7, 2008 )
  • Paperback: 494 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1419686291
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419686290
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    In Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel, Phyllis Zimbler Miller tells the lives of four young women who accompany their husbands to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, as the men attend a nine-week Armor Officers Basic (AOB) school.  Set in 1970, in the midst of the war in Vietnam, the couples live with the very real possibility that each man might be sent to fight, and might not return.

     

    The women come from vastly different backgrounds:  Sharon is a Jewish girl from the North side of Chicago who holds liberal social and political views and is accepting of those of other races, religions or family history.  Kim is a Southern Baptist from North Carolina; raised in foster homes, she has been trained to be suspicious of those who are different than she.  Donna was born in Puerto Rico, and grew up as an “Army brat” while her father, an enlisted man, moved the family from one post to another.  Wendy is a black woman from South Carolina; her mother and father, a doctor, have sheltered her from the rampant racial discrimination that has plagued the country.

     

    With the men busy during the days, and with the expectation of the Army that the women will exhibit behavior becoming an officer’s wife, the four struggle to find their place in their new lives.  The realities of off-post housing, one car families and the need to work together on committee bring the four women together for practical and social reasons. 

     

    As they spend more time with each other their relationships gel, they learn to trust one another with their secrets and to rely on the friendships that develop.  Each woman faces a crisis at some point during their time at AOB, and they realize how much they depend on, and appreciate, this support network.

     

    Each chapter is narrated in the third person, in the perspective of one of the four officer’s wives.  Sharon is the thread that binds them together; almost twice as many chapters are devoted to her perspective as to any of the other three women.  In this way, their individual stories blend together into one cohesive novel.  Ms. Miller provides relevant character history as memory or flashback scenes; we get a very clear picture of the experiences that have shaped these women.

     

    The title of the novel, Mrs. Lieutenant, is from a guidebook of the same name, written in early 1970 by Mary Preston Gross.  This booklet was “an invaluable guide for an officer’s wife,” detailing expectations such as proper use of calling cards, acceptable dress for any occasion, and how to host a tea.  Ms. Miller includes a quote from the booklet as well as a true news headline at the start of each chapter; this adds authenticity to the narrative, as well as a sense of urgency as the Vietnam conflict escalates and the casualty rate rises.  

     

    The author herself was a Mrs. Lieutenant at the same time as the fictional Sharon Gold.  Clearly her own observations have added rich detail to the emotions shown by the four main characters.  There are many parallels to our current conflict in Iraq, which will resonate with the general reader, and especially with a reader in a military family.  The book’s website offers discussion group questions, information about how the reader can support military families, copies of authentic documents from Ms. Miller’s time at Ft. Knox, and a glimpse of each main character in out-takes from the book.  Read the first four chapters online; you’ll want to buy the book and read more!

     

    Ms. Miller has previously written a non-fiction Jewish holiday book, Seasons for Celebration, as well as Flipping Burgers and Beyond: Find Your Own Path Through High School, College, and Life.   I was pleased to read in an interview on Fiction Scribe that she is currently at work on not one, but two sequels to Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel; the first, Mrs. Lieutenant in Europe detailing Sharon’s time during her husband’s assignment in Germany, the second about her return to civilian life.

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    Books and more are up for grabs on this week’s giveaway listing; numbers 2-9 are new this week!

    1. I’m offering my ARC of Michael Connelly’s The Brass VerdictEnter here by June 30.
    2. Cynthia at Springmont Cottage is hosting a Pay-It-Forward giveaway of Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos.  Enter here by June 21. 
    3. Natasha at Maw Books is offering all of Stephenie Meyer’s books in a series of giveaways.  Check out all the details and enter here by June 30.
    4. Kathleen at Kathleen’s Book Reviews has a copy of The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy up for grabs.  Kathleen says she “couldn’t put it down!”.  Enter here by June 21 at 9 p.m.
    5. Heather (aka Bookie McBookerson) is giving away a gently used hardcover of Dean Koontz’s Odd Hours.  Enter here by June 30.
    6. Icedream at Reading in Appalachia is hosting a “choose my book to read” contest; the winner gets the book after it has been read.  Read all about it and enter here by June 25.
    7. Author Melissa Walker has an early copy of Not Anything by Carmen Rodrigues that she wants to share.  Click here by June 24 to read about Melissa’s latest book, Violet in Private, and to enter the giveaway.
    8. Lenore has a box of “Euro treats” to give to the lucky winner of her contest.  Let her know what you collect by clicking here by June 30.
    9. Fyrefly is offering a copy of the young adult novel Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage.  Read a review, an author interview and enter here by July 15.
    10. Sarah at Puss Reboots is hosting a giveaway of LoveHampton by Sherri Rifkin. The contest runs through 11PM Pacific time on July 12th
    11. Sarah at Puss Reboots is hosting a giveaway of Flight of the Goose by Lesley Thomas. The contest runs through 11PM Pacific time on July 5th
    12. Tina at Bookshipper is hosting a giveaway of Lovehampton by Sherri Rifkin. The giveaway closes June 24th. You can check it out here
    13. Lori at Lori’s Reading Corner is offering a free book of your choice (up to $30 value) in celebration of Buy a Friend a Book.  Enter here by June 30.
    14. Lori is also offering THREE books through a Pay It Forward giveaway.  The books are:
      1. Shakedown (Pinnacle Books Fiction) by Joel Goldman
      2. Tempting Evil (Prison Break, Book 2) by Allison Brennan
      3. Certain Girls: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner         Enter here by June 29
    15. Melanie at Love to Read has How Far is the Ocean from Here by Amy Shearn available in a giveaway.  Enter here by June 29

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    Following my tradition of quoting speeches from commencements this spring, I offer you an outake from Oprah Winfrey’s recent address to Stanford University’s class of 2008 (follow this link for my post on David McCullough’s address at Boston College; click here to read what I had to say about J. K. Rowling’s speech to the graduates at Harvard). 

    I wasn’t overwhelmed with Ms. Winfrey’s commencement speech, there were too many personal references for my taste (full text here or view it here), but she did give each member of the class a wonderful gift, the gift of books:

    You know, I’ve always believed that everything is better when you share it, so before I go, I wanted to share a graduation gift with you. Underneath your seats you’ll find two of my favorite books. Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth is my current book club selection. Our New Earth webcast has been downloaded 30 million times with that book. And Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future has reassured me I’m in the right direction.

    I haven’t (yet) read either book, but I am curious; Daniel Pink’s book especially intrigues me.  Any recommendations out there?

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