UPDATE ON ME
It was another excellent week of video chatting with a couple of bloggers. Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku and I “got together” (again!) to discuss our latest #ReadingValdemar book. We were extra pumped because it was Jackie’s forthcoming baby’s first Valdemar club! 😍 I am convinced that future baby will be a tiny lady mercenary like Tarma and Kethery from the Vows & Honor trilogy.
Pretty regularly I email Laila @ Big Reading Life. We both work in libraries and compare notes on what’s happening with COVID and strategies our branches are taking to keep everyone safe. It’s nice to have someone in similar shoes to talk to, and I’m so grateful to know her.
Then, on Saturday I met Hannah @ Books & Bakes for the first time. While we were eating lunch, the spouse asked me what Hannah’s “thing” is — he means Bill “the Aussie trucker,” Emily with the MFA, Gil with the cat named Cat, etc. I said Hannah is newer, so I wasn’t sure yet, but told him her blog’s name. “What does she bake?” he asked, and I said I had yet to see a baking post! He then decided that clearly this means Hannah blogs while high. I’m glad Hannah was a good sport when I told her this story!
It was a lovely conversation, and I’m surprised it took a pandemic for me to reach out and “meet” people for a hour. If you’re interested in talking, let me know in the comments and I’ll send along my email address. Also, I realized today when I was chatting with Hannah that I don’t really share pictures of me on Grab the Lapels. It’s not intentional, I’m just never thinking, You know what this blog could use? MY FACE. Here is me:
My Friday date-with-myself horror movie was Train to Busan, which I’ve now seen three times in 2020 (it’s on Netflix!). Another film out of South Korea, Train to Busan has the best zombie acting I’ve ever seen. Just glorious, a notch above 28 Days Later, which utilized “movement specialists” for their infected.
Given the heat wave, it’s been a lot of indoor living for us, and we’ve been watching Queer Eye, like everyone else, and we finished the cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The plot holes drove me goofy, but there you are. I had my first book club with my mom, and we tried to steer clear of pandemic talk (we failed) and focus on The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. I love weekly book clubs because you can talk about your reactions to smaller scenes, make sure you both understand what the heck is going on, and guess what may happen next.
THIS WEEK’S BLOG POSTS
I wanted to pair two self-published books about experiences in correctional facilities, so on Tuesday I posed my review of Hummingbird in Underworld by Deborah Tobola, which is a rather obtuse look back on one woman’s experiences during her time as a creative teacher inside a men’s prison. What a stark contrast Breakfast at Bronzefield by Sophie Campbell provided. Written by a woman who was incarcerated, it’s an unfiltered look at her actions, the prison staff’s responses to her, and life after release.
New month means new Valdemar book, and Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey did not let me down. I’d argue this novel had the best pacing out of any Valdemar book Jackie and I have encountered. The last book in the trilogy is a collection of short stories, so that will be an interesting shift.
NEXT WEEK’S BLOG POSTS
If you liked my review of Breakfast at Bronzfield, then I hope you will look forward to my interview with the Sophie Campbell. On Tuesday, Campbell will discuss how she started writing, the process of researching her memoir, and what she’s reading to escape the pandemic in her own Meet the Writer feature. *Sophie Campbell is a pseudonym, so I don’t have a photo to share.
Finally, we’ve arrived: my review of The Descent series, all seven books and three short stories, by S.M. Reine, will be published on Thursday. I’m so glad this is only the first series within a much larger universe of novels, because I’m totally not ready to be done with Reine’s writing. So far, I’ve read work from both early in her career and more recent work, and it’s all stellar.
BOOK I’M READING ALOUD TO MY SPOUSE
What stuck out to me this week in East Pittsburgh Downlow by Dave Newman was the dialogue. The narrator is so deadpan, but the fact that he has boundaries for his time, attention, a patience heighten the delivery of his speech. I want to share a small excerpt. Remember, the narrator went to a state college and became a welder for eleven years before he started writing westerns under a pseudonym and was asked to become a full-time English professor at a community college. Another character, Barryman, has an MFA in poetry at Yale and published a collection poems, but now teaches part-time at a community college while his parents fund whatever he lacks in income.
“I worry about you canceling classes,” I say.
“You don’t cancel classes?” [Barryman] says.
“All my old professors canceled classes. One professor, in grad school, taught one class a month from her home. The other three scheduled classes, we worked independently. The class at her house, she did as a potluck. Everyone had to bring something to eat and a bottle of wine.”
“What kind of grad school did you go to?” I say.
“Ivy League,” he says. “You know that.”
“I just like to hear the words come out of your mouth.”
Barryman nods and tries to roll with the teasing.
I say, “I don’t even want to imagine what you brought for your covered dish.”
“I was figuring a kale salad but hummus works.”
“Kale is a superfood.”
“You’re a superfood, Barryman. Go cancel your class with the secretaries or schedule a potluck dinner or whatever you have to do.”
Check out East Pittsburgh Downlow by Dave Newman on IndieBound for a fantastic synopsis.
BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR PILE
Because there is a pandemic in this book, I added it.