#BookADay 3 – A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN

I read this book in college for a Theology & Literature class.

We had one paper for which we could choose a book outside the syllabus, and I chose this one. My professor was intrigued, but we’d read Silence (Endo) and Babette’s Feast (Dinesen)  and Night (Wiesel), and I thought, how about this lovely little book about a young girl and her family who had to survive bias, alcoholism, poverty and other challenges in turn-of-the-century (20th, that is) New York, while keeping her own dreams and creativity alive?

He wasn’t sure it was weighty enough next to the powerhouse novels we’d read so far, but I convinced him. What was more spiritual than the questions a girl faces when her father is an alcoholic dreamer and her mother is a relentless pragmatist; when her environment is brutal and she’s a shy misfit who believes in books and education?

It’s part of PBS’s Great American Read this summer.

Have you read it? At times charming, at times horrifying, it is a coming-of-age story, but so much more.  A snapshot of days gone by; a reminder of human challenges that never change, no matter the age; and a lovely testament to the power of books.

Are you a fan?

 

From the book cover:

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century.

From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior—such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce—no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are tenderly threaded with family connectedness and raw with honesty. Betty Smith has, in the pages of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life-from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children of Francie’s neighborhood traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry. Betty Smith has artfully caught this sense of exciting life in a novel of childhood, replete with incredibly rich moments of universal experiences—a truly remarkable achievement for any writer.

 

#BookADay 2 – Harry Potter

Do I even have to say anything about these?

The books that changed publishing. That opened our minds to wizards and muggles; Hogwarts and Diagon Alley; wands and potions and all things magical.

To The Boy Who Lived, and He Who Must Not Be Named.

This is the 20th anniversary of the U.S. release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and I have such find memories of reading the books to and with my kids. The Borders (RIP) and Barnes & Noble midnight release parties and watching my 10 year old read HP and the Half Blood Prince (nearly 700 pages) in a day.

I love Harry Potter, and I loved discussing these books with adult friends who were as caught up in the wonder and whimsy of them as I was.

Thank you J.K. Rowling!

Scholastic had some awesome banners at BEA this year celebrating the anniversary and using the art from the covers released for the occasion:

 

I like the new covers:

And there’s an added cool factor, since apparently the covers unfold into a long mural.

But I’ll always be a fan of the originals. They’re part of my history, and my family’s history. They’re magical and whimsical and bring back such happy, joyful memories for me.

Harry Potter electrified the world and continues to influence publishing and pop culture.

For me though, it also lives in some of my favorite book-related memories with my kids.

 

 

So what about you? Are you a Harry Potter fan?

Have you explored the many versions of Harry Potter covers? What are your favorites?

#BookADay  #BookLove  #HarryPotter

 

Happy Birthday To Me & A #BookADay

Hi friends!

Today is September 3, 2018 and I turned 50 today.

You know how they say 50 is the new 40? Well I’m going with that. ;o)

The end of August 2018 marked the end of the 6th Annual Read-A-Romance Month, which means it all started five years ago. (2013 to 2018 equals five full years, bookended by six RARM events.)

The end of September will also see me reach a landmark 500 reviews for Kirkus. Of course all Kirkus reviews are anonymous, so I can’t share what wonderful titles I’ve been fortunate to read over the past 6 years (I started reviewing the summer of 2012), but they have led me to so many amazing books and authors I still pinch myself some days at ow very lucky I am.

So I’m calling September my  *   5 | 50 | 500  *  month.

I’m also going to try to have a really big party at the end of the month, on my Read-A-Romance Month and The Romance of Reading FB pages. More on that soon.

Finally, from today to my next birthday (at least) I’ll be posting a book a day that I have loved and want to share.

Check in here to see my recommendations or follow me on other social media:

The Read-A-Romance Month Facebook page (open);

The Romance of Reading Facebook page (closed);

Twitter – @BobbiDumas.

If I ever get it together, I’ll also be posting more on instagram – bobbi dumas 

Post your own daily book recommendations #BookADay

I’m also asking some fave authors to do the 2018 RARM Q&A until next August, and those will go up on Fridays.

I’ll hope you’ll join me on this journey.

#BookADay Day 1

THE MORNING GIFT by Eva Ibbotson….

or maybe THE COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS…..

or perhaps, A COMPANY OF SWANS….

 

Well, okay, really, any Eva Ibbotson’s romances (though if you have kids, be sure to check out her middle grade books too. My son loved them.)

Eva Ibbotson’s Romances:

THE MORNING GIFT

A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS

A COMPANY OF SWANS

MAGIC FLUTES (aka The Reluctant Heiress)

A SONG FOR SUMMER

 

If I had to choose. If someone threatened my children and said the only way I could save them was to pick a favorite author, Eva Ibbotson would be it. Seriously, there are only three authors I ever go back to – re-read, re-listen.

You’ll learn the other two soon, if you don’t know them already – but Eva Ibbotson is my first-ever favorite author, and she will always remain on my keeper shelf.

Her romances were first published for adults, but a few years ago they were re-released for the young adult market.

I love them all.

Years ago, I read an interview where she said that she’d stopped writing romances after her husband died. She just didn’t have the heart for them anymore, so she focused more on the middle grade books.

So a real life romance too.

Ibbotson died in 2010.  I truly wish I had the career I do now before she died. She is the one author I regret I will never have the opportunity to interview. Not only do I love her books, but her own history is fascinating, and it sounds like she was also a wonderful wife and mother who put family first and truly found joy in her husband and children.

If you’d like to lean more about Eva Ibbotson, I encourage you to good her and read an obituary or two.

This wasn’t exactly an obituary, but it is a good overview of her life and career, written in The Telegraph when one of her books was published posthumously:

Before JK Rowling, there was Eva Ibbotson

 

This is a lovely IndieBound interview with Eva Ibbotson:

 

And this was a lovely write-up of her romances from a New York Public Library librarian/blogger:

The Romance Novels of Eva Ibbotson

August 31 – Christina Lauren

Hi friends!

Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month!

While I read romance all year long, August is the month we celebrate romantic fiction! Come back every day to read the fun author Q&As – calendar here –  and each weekday in August, we’ll also have an author guest hosting the Romance of Reading FB page. Today (the ladies known as) Christina Lauren are doing the Q&A and will be keeping an eye on some posted Qs on the page.

They’re also giving away copies of

Roomies
Dating You/Hating You
Love And Other Words and
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

to one lucky commenter on The Romance of Reading page.

This year is significantly smaller in scale. If you’re interested, you can read about some of the reasons why here. It’s been a crazy year, and a complicated few months.

Happy August. Isn’t life better with #ATouchofRomance?! xo

2018 RARM Questions:

 

Why do you write books? 

Lauren: We both got started writing for different reasons. I’ve always written stories—since I can remember, I was writing. Even in college, and through graduate school, I had little stories I was working on, maybe a little Buffy fanfiction in a notebook in my dresser, maybe something else that popped into my head one day. If I didn’t write, it felt a little like the words were building inside, taking up more space. I’d have to get them out to clear my head. But it was only ever a hobby; the writing became a true passion when I found the Twilight fandom and met this community of amazingly talented women. Some were there just to write, and some were there because they wanted to hold only to the book series a little longer, but regardless, it was vibrant. And that’s when Christina found her storytelling soul. For both of us, from that point on in 2009, there was no turning back.

 

What do you consider to be the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Christina: I’ve lived a pretty tame life so the most courageous thing is probably this? Putting my words and myself out there, speaking in public (TERRIFYING), taking the leap to leave a steady life and job for one with the potential for so many ups and downs.

 

Tell us why you write romances or include strong romantic elements in your books?

Lauren: Oh, there are so many reasons we write romance! First and foremost, we write romance because we read romance, and we adore it. But we write it, too, because creating love stories brings us joy. More than any other genre, romance fosters community and allows us to explore the boundaries of what is considered acceptable in relationships. Because these novels are feel-good by definition (the HEA is a matter of fact in romance), we are guaranteed to push our characters as far as we want, knowing that we will fix it all in the end. That safety—knowing the heroine or hero of every novel wins every time—is a certain comfort that many of us want in a book, and it’s an uplifting promise we can all use a bit more of these days.

 

Tell us about a romantic moment in your life. (Either romantic love, or romantic sensibility.)

Lauren: Before my husband Keith and I got together, I’d had a crush on him for nearly a year—I used to call him ‘my boyfriend’ to my friends, in a joking way, because they all knew I had a thing for him. I didn’t think it was reciprocated because—although Keith is fun and social and we were on the same intramural softball team and spent a lot of time together in a group—he is relatively emotionally reserved.

Who knows why I didn’t just ask him out, but eventually (I mean, after months and months of having an unrequited crush on him), I began dating someone else, and for a number of reasons, this other relationship didn’t feel like a good fit from the start. But I was a few months in with this other guy when a big group of us—including the boyfriend, and Keith—went to Las Vegas for my 25th birthday. The first night there, the boyfriend was grouchy and stayed back in the hotel room while the rest of us went out to celebrate.

At one point, Keith and I split off from the group and we were going up this huge escalator in a hotel, looking down on the glittering lobby. Keith was making me laugh so hard, and we were having the best time. I remember thinking how much I wanted to kiss him—like, so much that it hurt to think about—and even if he didn’t feel the same way for me, I really couldn’t stay in this other relationship because it wasn’t fair to either of us.

Just then, Keith turned to me and very quietly said, “You know you have options, right?”

Even when I think think of that moment now, and the way he was looking directly at me, I get that heart-dropping sensation.

I was a little tipsy which made me brave enough to think I knew what he meant and asked, “Are you an option?”

“Yes.”

He didn’t kiss me that night—I had a boyfriend, y’all!—but I ended things with the other guy, went out on my first date with Keith, and nineteen years later I still just want to kiss him all the time.

 

If you could tell your younger self anything (either as a writer or as a woman) what would it be?

Christina: I grew up in a really large family where there wasn’t much money, and the best way to get individual attention was to be the troublemaker. That was definitely not me, so I tended to fly under the radar. I never really had someone telling me I could accomplish anything I wanted, and as an adult it’s taken me some time to realize it. So if I could go back and talk to my younger self, I’d tell her that—but with an edit: You can accomplish anything you’re willing to work for.

 

Tell us something you uncovered in research that fascinated you.

Christina: Research is probably one of my favorite parts, because it really helps me connect with a character. If we’re going to write a fisherman, we need to know his thought process, even for things as simple as the weather. If he wakes up to an overcast sky, what does that mean? Is it normal, and how will it impact his schedule and all the things he needs to get accomplished. We can’t just write that he pulls up a line, we have to have some idea of the moving parts involved, the process he goes through and why.

While writing Dirty Rowdy Thing I read so many books and articles on the Canadian fishing industry. I was both fascinated and saddened by the way climate change and development has negatively impacted not only wildlife in that region, but also industries and families that have relied upon it for generations. Those real life details are what helped shape Finn’s storyline and made the stakes feel real.

 

How do you handle the voices in your head competing for their story to be written? (Thanks Eileen!)

Lauren: We love all the voices in our heads! In fact, it works out very well for us because we try to write about three books a year, so we need all of those voices to keep shouting, please. The more, the better. It means that when we finish something, the next thing is pushing its way to the front. There’s no better feeling than being able to wrap up something you love, and still be excited to move onto the next thing.

 
If you could live for a month somewhere (either in the present or past) where (and when, if applicable) would it be? Why?

Lauren: Oooh this is a tough one. I think I’d like to live in Zurich for a month to see if it’s true that I would move there in a heartbeat if I could.

Christina: This changes depending on what’s happening in my life. Because of a book we’re working on I would probably say Hawaii.

 

What is (one of) the most remarkable/inspiring things that has happened to you as a reader or writer?

Lauren: I can say, hands down, the most inspiring thing for us is meeting readers, and we aren’t saying that to be glib. There’s something about the connection we feel with someone who has read our books and really felt something while reading it—it’s hard to describe, but it makes every stressful day with a negative word count, or long hours of editing worth it. In particular, meeting people who have read Autoboyography and seen themselves in it—that is by far the most amazing professional experience we’ve ever had.

 

Christina Lauren recommends:

 

Alisha Rai   –   www.alisharai.com –     @Amazon

 

Alyssa Cole   –    alyssacole.com    –   @Amazon

 

Taylor Jenkins Reid   –    taylorjenkinsreid.com    –   @Amazon

 


Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The #1 international bestselling coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels.

They are published in over 30 languages, have received multiple starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal, won both the Seal of Excellence and Book of the Year from RT Magazine, and have been featured in publications such as ForbesThe Washington PostTimeEntertainment WeeklyO Magazine and more. Their twenty-first novel, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is out September 4th, 2018.

 

Learn more here:  christinalaurenbooks.com

 

Buy Christina Lauren‘s books:

 

availableon-amazon         availableon-nook      availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!

 

Authors on The Romance of Reading page:

 

1   –   Jeannie Moon           💜         2   –   Lenora Bell

3  –    Nancy Herkness       💜         6   –   Kimberli A. Bindschatel

7   –  Cathy Maxwell            💜         8   –   Amelia Grey

9  –  Liz Talley                     💜         10  –  Dylann Crush

13  –  Marilyn Brant             💜         14  –  Sharla Lovelace

15  –  Sally MacKenzie        💜         16  –  Regina Kyle

17  –  Mimi Milan                 💜          20  –  Christine Nolfi

21  –  Susie Orman Schnall  💜       22  –  Caroline Linden

23  –  Shirley Hailstock          💜         24  –   Talia Surova

27  –  Lisa Patton                    💜        28  –  Tracey Livesay

29  –  Danelle Harmon          💜        30  –  Minerva Spencer

*   31   –    Christina Lauren (modified guest host)

August 30 – Minerva Spencer

Hi friends!

Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month!

While I read romance all year long, August is the month we celebrate romantic fiction! Come back every day to read the fun author Q&As – calendar here –  and each weekday in August, we’ll also have an author guest hosting the Romance of Reading FB page. Today Minerva Spencer is doing both the Q&A and the author takeover.

This year is significantly smaller in scale. If you’re interested, you can read about some of the reasons why here. It’s been a crazy year, and a complicated few months.

Happy August. Isn’t life better with #ATouchofRomance?! xo

2018 RARM Questions:

Why do you write books? 

I began writing because I felt compelled to write. It wasn’t always this way for me. I only started writing in 2013 after I closed my bed and breakfast. Suddenly stories started coming to me one after the other. So I’ve been writing as fast as I can to get them all down on paper!

 

What do you consider to be the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Wow! This is a tough question. I guess the most courageous thing I can think of is when I closed my bed and breakfast and didn’t immediately accept another job.

I had already found a job before the b&b closed but my lovely husband said I should just write for a while and see what happened.

When it comes to jobs I’ve always leaned toward those that provide a somewhat reliable source of income (I must admit the b&b was a bit unpredictable for my taste).

Being an author is not a career I would have voluntarily chosen for myself. Not only is it extremely difficult to break into publishing, but a writer has to put a lot of themselves out in the world of social media for strangers to critique–not just their books. It isn’t the perfect career for an introvert, but then neither was a b&b….

But I love the actual writing part of my job more than anything else I have ever done and I’m glad Mr. Spencer talked me into it.

 

Tell us why you write romances or include strong romantic elements in your books?

I write in several genres but I enjoy writing romance the most because I LOVE the fact they have a happy ending.

 

Tell us about a romantic moment in your life. (Either romantic love, or romantic sensibility.)

The things I find most romantic are those times when my husband is there to support me when I’m scared or freaking out—like going to get my first root canal (I have dental-phobia). He took time off work to sit in the dentist office and held my foot (how romantic!)  the whole time. That’s better than flowers or expensive dinners.

 

If you could tell your younger self anything (either as a writer or as a woman) what would it be?

Enjoy the moment.

Now that I’m 50 I’ve suddenly realized time is whizzing past. But whenever you try and tell a younger person to live each day to the fullest they give you that look: you know the look. So my younger self would probably just listen to my advice, give me that same look, and then ignore me.

 

Tell us something you uncovered in research that fascinated you.

I’ve recently been researching coastal communities in Britain and came upon wreckers. These were people who are believed to have, er, encouraged shipwrecks. Or at least they did nothing to discourage them. Sometimes the salvage from shipwrecks was the main source of income in remote or hard-scrabble areas and people did bad things in pursuit of making a living. I found Bella Bathurst’s two books on shipwrecks fascinating.

 

How do you handle the voices in your head competing for their story to be written? (Thanks Eileen!)

I type really fast. Seriously. I became an uber competent typist just in case law school didn’t pan out. I was a temp back in the days when people still needed secretaries who could type and I tested at 120/wpm with 1 error. Is it sad that I’m so proud of that??

Anyhow, I usually try and write the first 5-10k words of a story and then put it aside until I can come back to it.

 
If you could live for a month somewhere (either in the present or past) where (and when, if applicable) would it be? Why?

I’d like to hang out in the future–with the last person on earth, whoever that is and whenever that is. I want to find out how everything turns out at the end.

 

What is (one of) the most remarkable/inspiring things that has happened to you as a reader or writer?

I have been astonished by the incredible generosity I have encountered since becoming a writer. Complete strangers have done the nicest things for me—Elizabeth Hoyt, Jeffe Kennedy, Madeline Hunter, and Vanessa Kelly are a few people who come to mind. There have been many more. These women just make me hopeful about humankind.

 

Minerva recommends:

Ohhhh man! It’s so hard to choose!

I think what I am going to do is list 3 debut authors who also write historical romance as they are more likely to be new to readers (because I know almost EVERYONE has read the awesome authors I mentioned above!)

 

Renee Ann Miller   –   reneeannmiller.com   –   @Amazon

 

Liana De la Rosa   –   www.lianainbloom.com   –   @Amazon

 

Christina Britton   –   christinabritton.com   –   @Amazon

 

 


Minerva Spencer is a Canadian transplant who now lives in the mountains of New Mexico. She began writing in 2013 after closing her 8-room bed and breakfast (a subject she will never write about. . . )

Minerva has been a criminal prosecutor, college history professor, and bartender, among many other things.

She currently writes full-time and operates a small poultry rescue on her four-acre hobby farm, where she lives with her wonderful, tolerant husband and many animals.

 

Learn more:   minervaspencer.com

 

Buy Minerva ‘s books:

availableon-amazon         availableon-nook      availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!

 

Authors on The Romance of Reading page:

 

1   –   Jeannie Moon           💜         2   –   Lenora Bell

3  –    Nancy Herkness       💜         6   –   Kimberli A. Bindschatel

7   –  Cathy Maxwell            💜         8   –   Amelia Grey

9  –  Liz Talley                     💜         10  –  Dylann Crush

13  –  Marilyn Brant             💜         14  –  Sharla Lovelace

15  –  Sally MacKenzie        💜         16  –  Regina Kyle

17  –  Mimi Milan                 💜          20  –  Christine Nolfi

21  –  Susie Orman Schnall  💜       22  –  Caroline Linden

23  –  Shirley Hailstock          💜         24  –   Talia Surova

27  –  Lisa Patton                    💜        28  –  Tracey Livesay

29  –  Danelle Harmon          💜        30  –  Minerva Spencer

*   31   –    Christina Lauren (modified guest host)