Good news about my spam!

This is just a quick follow-up to let you know that the steps I took to tighten the security on my WordPress account have greatly reduced the number of spam comments on my blog. This morning I woke up to about 20 spam comments, easily deleted. I continue to get them throughout the day, but not nearly as many as I was (about 100). Hurray! Hopefully this continues. My fingers are crossed. 😊

I think the Two-Step Authentication may be the best thing I did. But I also changed my password and made it so I have to approve all comments. If you are having similar problems and want the details on what to do, you can check out my earlier post here.

Phew! Now I can go back to reading!

Thanks for reading about my spam angst!

One-word book titles – can you make a sentence with them?

I’ve always been interested in book titles and popular trends. We all know about “The Girl” and “The Woman” titles and books with the word “wife” in them. There are so many others too! Besides these, some are a person’s name like Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk, a place like Coffin Road by Peter May or a phrase like Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Here’s a list of a bunch of one-word titles. These are all books I’ve read and reviewed on my blog. I’m sure I could find many more if I really dug into it.

I wanted to make a big long sentence by arranging each of these words into something meaningful, but I couldn’t make it work. I did come up with a few good-advice phrases, like “wonder more” and “roar less.” And although this is a politics-free blog, I couldn’t resist what could be a headline, “candidate caught.”

So here are the books I’ve read with one-word titles. Can you make any phrases out of these? Here’s a word bank to give you a start!

MayflowerPremiereCaughtTwistedDry
EducatedWonderHerLessLooker
ThunderstruckSonBrooklynOutsiderCandidate
YouRoarRunSadieMaid
StiltsvilleLotComaExposedRebecca

If you’re interested in my reviews, you can follow the links below!

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Candidate by Tracy Ewens

Caught by Harlan Coben

Coma by Robin Cook

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Educated by Tara Westover

Exposed by Lisa Scottoline

Her by Harriet Lane

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Looker by Laura Sims

Lot by Bryan Washington

Maid by Stephanie Land

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

Outsider by Linda Castillo

Premiere by Tracy Ewens

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Roar by Cecelia Ahern

Run by Ann Patchett

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Son by Lois Lowry

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

You by Caroline Kepnes

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Do you look things up when you read?

Hey Everyone,

You may have seen my library tweet about looking things up when you read. It’s much easier to look things up these days than it used to be. We have resources built into our eReaders and there’s always a phone or a laptop nearby.

So the question here is: “Do you look things up when you read?” That can be words you don’t know, or places or things or anything you’re not familiar with.

I can’t resist, can you? I don’t care if it takes me longer to read. It adds to my enjoyment and understanding. I did a bunch of that this morning!

Cast your vote and leave a comment!

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Book Clubs – they come and go and now they’re on Zoom!

A couple days ago, I read an excellent post by Donna at Retirement Reflections about the benefits of being in a book club. Donna knows her stuff. She is a book club pro!

Book clubs have changed a lot over the years. And the pandemic has moved a lot of book groups to Zoom and other virtual formats. That hasn’t stopped Donna and her friends from having fun by jazzing things up with drop-off treats (that means snacks and wine) to enjoy together during their Zoom. Way to go, Donna – you guys do things right!

Years ago, I was in three clubs, but life got busy and stressful. My main in-person book club fell apart and my Facebook group has become inactive because it needs a logistical overhaul. Now I’m only in the mystery book club at my library job. It’s a great group and the Zoom format has attracted new people. One friend attends during her lunch hour and that could never have been possible for an in-person meeting. I think people are a lot more comfortable with virtual book clubs now that we’ve ironed out the kinks.

My first book club started in 2001. We were a bunch of new moms and we met every month at each other’s houses for nineteen years, as soon as we got our babies to bed. I often got home well after midnight! Ack – I can’t believe I had that much energy back then!

Last night I looked at the list of books we read. Our first book was The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan. You can view the complete list here.

Here are six books I missed that I would like to read now.

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The World to Come by Dara Horn

Are you in a book club? Do you meet in-person or virtually? Leave a comment!

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Man books – books with “man” in the title

We see our fair share of books with “woman” in the title, so I thought it would be fun to see what “man” books are out there. Turns out plenty! I’ve only read one of these, but many of the books listed here are from bestselling authors. I included one steamy one, so read that one at your own risk 😉

Here are 10 “man” books and there are many more! All links and descriptions are from Goodreads, Amazon or my blog.

A Better Man by Louise Penny – I’ve read a few Louise Penny books, but not this one. Book 15 in the Armand Gamache series. Catastrophic spring flooding, blistering attacks in the media, and a mysterious disappearance greet Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he returns to the Sûreté du Québec in the latest novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny.

A Gambling Man by David Baldacci – Book 2 in the Archer series. Aloysius Archer, the straight-talking World War II veteran fresh out of prison, returns in this riveting #1 New York Times bestselling thriller from David Baldacci.

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney – Book 1 in the Gray Man series. To those who lurk in the shadows, he’s known as the Gray Man. He is a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible and then fading away. And he always hits his target. Always.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham – John Grisham’s first work of nonfiction: a true crime story that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence. “Both an American tragedy and [Grisham’s] strongest legal thriller yet, all the more gripping because it happens to be true.”—Entertainment Weekly

The Lost Man by Jane Harper – This is the one I’ve read: Nathan and Bub Bright were shocked when their middle brother, Cameron died in the outback’s unrelenting heat. It didn’t make sense that he’d had gone out on foot to the legendary Stockman’s Grave, miles from his truck and the family’s cattle ranch. At forty, Cam was a successful and capable rancher and ran the family’s business. And he knew the dangers of the desert heat. Despite signs that Cam was desperate to find shade, investigators suggest that Cam took his own life.

The Memory Man by David Baldacci – Book 1 in the Amos Decker series. Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice. The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.

Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw – I’d forgotten about this one! This New York Times–bestselling saga of two brothers in postwar America, the basis for the classic miniseries, is “a book you can’t put down” (The New York Times).

This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas  – Steam warning!! Named one of “The 20 Greatest Ever Romance Novels According to Goodreads Reviews” by O, The Oprah Magazine. Young interior designer Ava O’Shea has no idea what awaits her at the Manor. A run-of-the-mill consultation with a stodgy country gent seems likely, but what Ava finds instead is Jesse Ward—a devastatingly handsome, utterly confident, pleasure-seeking playboy who knows no boundaries…

Have you read any of these “man” books? Leave a comment!

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Who knew there were so many Rebecca covers?

I’ve always had an image in my mind of what Rebecca, Maxim and Mrs. Danvers look like in Daphne du Maurier’s classic Gothic novel about a young woman who tries to overcome the memory of her husband’s first wife. After looking at all these book covers, I can see that other people had their own ideas!

Here are thirty-seven covers to show you what I mean. Some of these are audiobooks and editions in other languages. I have a couple favorites. Which ones are yours?

If you’re interested, you can read my five-star review of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier here and my post about the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock movie here.

And by the way, here are my top three favorites!

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Recognize any of these publishing trends?

What’s happening in the publishing world in 2022 and what does that mean for indie authors and small publishers? I found this interesting article about what to expect in the future.

Written Word Media, a book marketing business, listed the following trends. While I’m not promoting their services, I think they make some great observations! Maybe you already know about some of them.

  • Direct sales for authors will continue to grow. This helps authors make more money and have direct connection with the people who buy their books. That means specific contact information and a good newsletter email list potential.
  • Indie authors will embrace next generation technology. They’re talking about NFTs (which I don’t entirely understand), AI narration for audiobooks and using AI for writing tools. I love technology so I think this is pretty cool!
  • BookTok is mainstream. Who’s on BookTok? I haven’t ventured there yet, but I’m interested. I’m mostly concerned about spreading myself too thin, as a book blogger, that is!
  • Book prices will increase. That’s for print and digital. This article says that promotional discounts will become more attractive to buyers.
  • More success for small presses. The divide between traditional publishing and indie publishing is getting bigger. In addition to being more collaborative, indie and self-published authors are more adaptive and forward-thinking. That’s good news for sales. They note that “traditional publishers aren’t adapting to the growth of audio and eBook formats and instead are struggling with supply chain issues. Smaller publishers are going to fill the void.”
  • Advertising will become more inclusive. They’re talking marketing graphics with more visuals and colors. Everyone seems to be getting better at designing their own graphics, too, although be careful if you use Canva. I know there are stipulations about whether you’re using your design for profit. Ad tracking has been reined in, but social media platforms are out there for anyone to use.
  • Digital ads will be more expensive and difficult to track. They note, “In addition to increased cost to run ads online, the tracking and targeting options that had made digital ads so effective are slowly going away.” What is your experience with paid advertising? Do you recognize this trend? Do you recommend paid advertising?
  • Audiobook market continues to evolve. Spotify just bought a company named Findaway and they’re going to focus more and more on narratives, in addition to music and podcasts.
  • More authors will try publishing serializations via reading apps. Wow this sounds interesting! Have any of you tried that?

Have you noticed any of these trends? Leave a comment below!

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Make room for these new words in the dictionary!

I like looking at lists of things, but at the end of each calendar year, I’m quickly overwhelmed by how many there are. So now it’s almost May and I only just started to think about lists of new words added to the dictionary. I mean, these unusual times (understatement) have certainly generated new ways of communicating.

Here are five interesting new words and one questionable word added to various dictionaries. You can read more via the links at the bottom of this post.

Contactless: not having to physically touch or interact with people. That pretty much describes life during a pandemic.

PPE: an abbreviation for personal protective equipment. More pandemic lingo.

Thirsty (new definition): having a need for attention or approval. As in please read and like this blog post!

TBH: an abbreviation for to be honest, used in social media. I’m not always excited to read what comes after a TBH.

Copypasta: data (such as a block of text) that has been copied and spread widely online. Copypasta can be a lighthearted meme or it can have a more serious intent, with a political or cultural message. Very techy. I hadn’t heard of this one!

Questionable addition

Fluffernutter: a sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow crème between two slices of white sandwich bread. Wait a minute, I made this sandie way back in college and it’s just now getting into the dictionary?

You can see more at merriam-webster.com and pearsonpte.com.

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The Booker Prize – what’s it all about?

It occurred to me last week that I didn’t know much about the Booker Prize. First established in 1969, the annual prize is awarded to the best novel written in English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. Each year a new panel of five judges votes on the best book. The winner receives £50,000 as well as the £2,500 awarded to each of the six shortlisted authors. The winner also receives global recognition and is what the Booker Prize website calls “a prize that that transforms a winner’s career.” It’s actually a big business and publishers also get into the thick of it when they nominate potential winners.

You can read all about the history of the prize here.

There is also the International Booker Prize, for a book translated into English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

The prize has had plenty of controversy. In 1980, Anthony Burgess (Earthly Powers) was up for the award, along with William Golding (Rites of Passage). Burgess demanded to know the winner ahead of time and said he wouldn’t attend if Golding won.

Anthony Burgess – Wikipedia

According to anthonyburgess.org, “Burgess did not attend the ceremony, reportedly informing Martyn Goff, the administrator of the Prize, that there was ‘no way I’m putting on evening dress and coming unless I know I’ve won’. Looking back, Burgess claims that missing out on the Booker didn’t cause any anxiety. ‘It was evident to me,’ he writes. ‘that my novel was not Booker material.”

In 2019, the judges split the award (and the prize money) between two authors: Margaret Atwood (The Testament) and Bernardine Evaristo (Girl, Woman, Other). Evaristo is the first black woman to win the prize and critics were outraged that she had to share it with another author. When asked if she would have preferred to be the only winner, she replied, “What do you think? Yes, but I’m happy to share it. That’s the kind of person I am.”

Pictured below: Margaret Atwood and Bernadine Evaristo.

I’ve read a few of the winners – all excellent (The Blind Assassin by Atwood, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders and Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart) and I recognize several others among the winners. But otherwise, most of the books on the list of winners have passed me by. This may be too literary a list for my tastes!

You can see all the winners here.

What do you think? Do you regularly read the Booker Prize winners?

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Thanks to the following sources:

thebookerprizes.com
The Booker Prize – Wikipedia
britannica.com
 “Backlash after Booker awards prize to two authors” from The Guardian
“Inside the Booker Prize: arguments, agonies and carefully encouraged scandals” from The Guardian
Anthony Burgess – Wikipedia
Burgess’s Booker Prize nomination from anthonyburgess.org

Are you a catch-up reader?

I don’t know about you, but something happens when I don’t get around to reading a popular book right away. As time passes, the chance that I will pick it up becomes slimmer and slimmer. Part of me thinks, well if I read it now after all this time, no one will want to talk about it with me. Because it’s fun to talk about something you liked that everyone is buzzing about too.

I like to think I’m a catch-up reader, but I don’t know if I truly qualify. Here are ten fiction books I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t. I still want to read them, but too many other books have gotten in the way. Should they be on a priority list or should they stay lost in my big pile of TBRs? I don’t know.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Are you a catch-up reader? What’s your strategy? Have you read any of these? Leave a comment!

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