Saturday, January 30, 2016

Blog Tour: Every Father's Daughter Edited by Margaret McMullan

I just finished reading Every Father’s Daughter, and this book is like none other that I have read.  A collection of twenty-four essays compiled by Margaret McMullan, Every Father's Daughter discusses authors’ relationship or the lack there of with their fathers. McMullan has Mississippi roots, so I was excited to join this blog tour. The methodological choice of essays and the organization of them make the book hard to put down.  I was expecting a book to paint a pretty picture of an iconic relationship with the father. However, I was surprised to read genuine stories that painted a real picture about who each author’s father really was.  The essays invite you into each of the writer's personal relationship with their father.  The writer exposes the pain, the joy, and sometimes even regret that occurred in that relationship.  Ironically, this book makes you analyze your relationship with your father, and it forces you to think about if you really know, whom your father is.  This book is a great read, especially since it is close to Father’s Day.  I highly recommend Every Father's Daughter.

Check out the Q &A below with Margaret McMullan

Margaret McMullan SIQs

Every Father's Daughter

1. How did you decide which authors to reach out to for this collection?

In the last month of my father’s life, I read to him Alice Munro’s essay, “Working for a Living.” We had one of our last book discussions about that fox farm, the cold work, and the landscape of Canada. She was the first person I contacted. I wrote her a letter and a few months later she called and said yes, of course you can reprint my essay. I was just stunned. The other authors followed. I invited the authors my father loved or had met at some point in his life. He had dinner with Lee Smith once and she was so quick to respond. Lee led me to Jill McCorkle. I also included three former students. In the end, this collection of women writers became one big circle of friends.

2. How did your vision for this collection evolve from the start to end of this project?

At first I saw this as a collection of southern writers, men and women. But then I realized I just wanted to hear from women, daughters. I moved away from regionalizing it when I began thinking of my father’s literary tastes and what kind of man he was. He was southern but he was also very much shaped by Chicago and the Mid-West. Each time I read an essay, I would think, Would Dad like this?

3. What most surprised you about the creation of Every Father's Daughter?

I was surprised how difficult such a great collection was to get published. Jane Smiley had a Pulitzer, Maxine Hong Kingston won the National Book Award, and Alice Munro had just won a Nobel Prize. I felt this book was no-proof. Who wouldn’t want to read these writers on this particularly personal subject? And who wouldn’t want to read about fathers? I’ve always thought this collection was a sure thing, but it was much more difficult to find a publisher than I had imagined. Apparently, anthologies were no longer fashionable in the publishing industry. One editor, who declined the book, has since contacted me to tell me how she genuinely regrets not taking it.

In your introduction, you talk about how this book was a way for you to grieve. How did you come to realize this?

This particular work felt meaningful because all along I thought so much about my father. I started soon after my father died. The work – reaching out to other women, asking for their stories, and then reading them was therapeutic because it reminded me that there are other emotions besides grief. After a while, after I organized and put together the book, after I wrote my own essay, my grief transformed. It felt less like sadness and more like love.

I have encountered so many readers who have read the book and want to talk about an essay, and then, inevitably, these readers begin to tell me about their fathers. A conversation starts. This book has a power. We are remembering our fathers, and, in some cases, bringing them back to life.

4. Did you come to realize anything about your relationship with your father as you read through the essays in this collection?                                                                                                

I knew from the start that we were close, and that a good part of that closeness was how we stayed connected through literature. Now, I realize exactly how close we really were.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016


'm participating!! Who will join me?!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Blog Tour and Book Giveaway: A North Shore Story by Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis

By Dean Economos, Alyssa Machinis

Published on: 2016-01-19
Released on: 2016-01-19
Format: Kindle eBook

3 out of 5 stars

The first book of the year to be completed was A North ShoreStory. Even though I do not read a lot of YA books, I enjoyed reading this one. 

Based in Chicago, A North Shore Story illustrates the lives of a group of teenagers, who face with very adult situations.  From the very beginning, I was fascinated with the lives of the church-going teenagers.  Their maneuver through the labyrinth of life is quite intriguing to say the least.

Wrapped in a tangled web of lust, greed, deceit, and envy, each teenager has a secret that needs to be exposed.  Taylor’s insecurity spirals down a path of tragedy.  Michael’s taste of greed gives him unimaginable pleasure and satisfaction.  Joseph’s infidelity proves to be more than a betrayal, but the beginning of his life changing forever.  Kristin’s loyalty to her friend is truly unbelievable.  All the teenagers, including Alexander, James, Nichole, and Stephanie, experience real life situations at a young age.  I found myself being annoyed with Kate, who was ultimately a spoiled brat.  Peter and Stephanie's good intentions ended in the worse way possible. I questioned could it have ended in a different way, but I do not think that it could.  Based on Michael's behavior at the end, I think that could be a sequel to the book.  Check on the questions and answers from the authors about this possibility. 

As I read this book, I began to think about my own budding teenager.  From a parental standpoint, this book enlightened me about what my own son could possibly face in his teenage years.  Adults tend to forget that teenagers face important issues, too.  Reading this book made me aware of the possibilities and brought to my attention how important my role as his parent is.

Who Should Read This Book?

·         Young adults

·         Parents of teenagers

·         People who like drama

Alyssa Machinis

Dean Economos

Author’s Question & Answer

Dean Economos

What were the events that inspired this book?

The book was inspired by different experiences growing up.  Those key events and experiences were then intertwined with the more current events of our church’s media coverage.

Do you anticipate a sequel?

 I’ve thrown ideas around in my head, and I’ve talked about it with Alyssa.  We’re open to it, but haven’t started writing anything yet.

Alyssa Machinis

What was the most difficult part about writing this book?

The most difficult part of writing the book was helping it come alive.  The content was there, and the story was strong, but fostering the story from a passive standpoint into an active point of view was a challenge.

What do you think the most important lesson from the book is?

The most important lesson from the book is to be confident in who you are.  Don’t worry about what other people think because the fear of judgment can turn you into a person you don’t want to be.

Book Giveaway

Giveaway ends January 22, 2016.

Five readers of my blog will receive an eBook copy of A North Shore Story.  Entering is simple.  Winners will be notified in the newsletter and on my blog.

1.      Sign up for the newsletter.

2.      Leave a comment about the cover of the book and the author’s question and answer or the synopsis.

3.      Follow me on Twitter: @chawkinswilson

 The winner will be announced January 25, 2016. 

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Check out my other blog: Transitioning to Me: Life after Divorce.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Review: A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines

A Lesson Before Dying

"I was crying."
As I read the last sentence of A Lesson Before Dying, my heart ached for Jefferson, for Ms. Emma, for Reverend Ambrose, for the people in the quarter, for myself, for my children, for the world...

I started reading A Lesson Before Dying to determine if I would use it for my class this summer.  I knew that this was a popular book.  However, I decided not to research about the book and just began with the first page. The first line started...
I WAS NOT THERE, yet I was there.
Was Gaines predicting how I would feel once I read this book? I now know Gaines knew that I would feel this way.

Set in the 1940s, Gaines wrote about a common trend during this time.  A common trend of executing African Americans based on association and based on being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Similar to the story of George Stinney, Jr, Gaines followed Jefferson's life from the moment it took a drastic turn until the sealing of his demise.

Gaines ability to place you in the novel transformed my desire to just read and finish the book into a defined desire to understand the numerous lessons entangled within the words written on each page.

I zoned in immediately to figure out the significance of title.  Why is the book named A Lesson Before Dying? My first assumption was the lesson that the Professor was assigned to teach Jefferson. Yet, I soon discovered that Jefferson's lesson was not the only one.  So many lessons can be taken from this book.

Furthermore, this book forced me to start to think of my role as an English instructor.  What lessons do I want my students to gain beyond "reading, writing, and 'arithmetic," and what lessons do I need to gain from my students?

I am left wondering exactly what happened in the quarter after the major event took place.   Even though this book is fictional, the unfolding of the novel seemed so real.

I definitely will be reading this book with my students this summer. I hope you add this book to your "To Be Read" pile. This book is definitely an amazing and riveting PIECE OF WORK.

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my currently-reading shelf:
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Check out my other blog: Transitioning to Me: Life after Divorce.

Happy Friday!!

Let's connect on Goodreads.
Connect with me on Facebook.
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my currently-reading shelf:
Cassandra Hawkins Wilder's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (currently-reading shelf)
Check out my other blog: Transitioning to Me: Life after Divorce.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Title: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger  
Paperback: 546 pages 
Publisher: Harcourt (May 27, 2004)
Rating: 3 out of 5

I started reading "The Time Traveler's Wife" on my trip to Chattanooga, TN.  I was traveling in the early morning, so I did not read the summary nor the reviews on Scribd.  I chose the audiobook because of the cover.  The front cover includes an image of a little girl from the waist down. This little girl is standing in a grassy field, next to a man's worn shoes and clothing.  I do not know what I was expecting from the book, but this book was unlike anything that I have ever read. I was drawn to finish it.

Audrey Niffenegger writes a love story that makes you want to experience the complicated, but unconditional love of Henry and Clare.  The way that Henry and Clare are able maneuver through life, while dealing with Henry's genetic disorder that causes him to time travel, is amazing.  The unpredictability of Henry's time travel becomes fascinating as the story unfolds.  Henry's delinquent past is both sad and hilarious. Clare's inability to keep a pregnancy from resulting in a miscarriage becomes so disheartening.

Niffenegger draws you deep into the world of Clare and Henry, which is full of love, death, happiness, sorrow, and randomness.  The whole nature of Henry's time travel puts a strain on their relationship, but it manages to last in spite of his disorder  Clare's dependency on Henry is often frustrating, but realistic.

Overall, the books was definitely one that I will not forget anytime soon.  The end of the book left me angry and disappointed.  For the sensitive reader, this book does contain sexual content, as well as other adult topics.

Have you read the book or seen the movie? What did you think?

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Currently Reading: A North Shore Story

Share a pic of the book that you are currently reading! Make sure we connect on Goodreads! 

Discovering the Joys of Being in a Book Club

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