Book Club Mom interview with Ausoma, social media consulting for authors, on using YouTube

Hi Everyone,

I’m talking with Sue Canfield, Chief Social Media Officer & Marketing Consultant at Ausoma, sharing my experience setting up a YouTube channel and posting videos. Here’s a snip of the interview.

You can read the rest at:

I hope you’ll stop by!

Five literary Halloween costumes to get your party (or work) conversations going!

Are you dressing up for Halloween to take your kids out or answer the door? Heading to a party? Does your workplace encourage costumes? Although there’s no pressure at my library job to dress up on Halloween, people do dress up. I will be working that weekend and I’m thinking of something low-key to wear. I’ve dug up this post from a few years ago to inspire me.

There is plenty of time to plan, so if you’re looking for costume ideas for work or play, consider these literary ones:

Ernest Hemingway

Since bushy beards are the rage right now, guys with facial hair, grab a big turtleneck and you’re almost there! A large personality and fishing pole as a prop would finish the look!

Ayn Rand

Even if you haven’t read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged, you can always look like this controversial literary figure. Comb your hair to the side. No makeup required. I couldn’t find a better free image on the internet, but you can watch this YouTube video to get into characgter.

Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Although Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe, not Audrey Hepburn, to play Holly in the movie, Hepburn made that movie memorable. Pull out your classic black dress, put your hair up high under a fabulous hat and you’re on your way.

Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Atticus is one of my favorite literary characters and I don’t believe Harper Lee meant him to be anything but great, despite the traits she sketched out in Go Set a Watchman. Put on a searsucker three-piece suit, add a tie and some horn-rimmed glasses, and look serious, like Gregory Peck.

Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Find a gauzy tea dress, some pearls and an elaborate floppy hat and you’re almost there. This picture of Mia Farrow as Daisy will help you practice your doe-eyed expression.

What are you wearing for trick or treat? Would you have the courage to dress up in a costume for work? Leave a comment!

Note – for those who are virtuosos with the block editor, I tried to have the image captions appear on the display, but you can only see them if you click on the individual image. Anyone know a way around this? Also, does anyone know how to change the way the dividers look? Am I stuck with the double line because of my page design? Thanks!

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Books on my radar – a growing TBR list!

Last week I wrote about Likewise, an app designed to recommend books, podcasts, TV shows and movies. Today I tried it out and came up with these titles to add to my TBR list. A general comment about the app: the more books you recommend, the more refined the results. Using it for the first time was a little tough because the book suggestions they gave me were based on the sixteen books I said I liked. I had to do a little work to find the titles below, but I’m happy with the list. I did plenty of recommending as I went along and that generated better suggestions.

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz (2012)

Finalist for the 2012 National Book Award

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In a New Jersey laundry room, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses.

In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, these stories lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

Normal People by Sally Rooney (2019)

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation—awkward but electrifying—something life changing begins.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (2021)

Where do you see yourself in five years? Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers. She is nothing like her lifelong best friend—the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella. Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content.

But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake. In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting.

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby (2020)

A husband, a father, a son, a business owner…And the best getaway driver east of the Mississippi.

Beauregard “Bug” Montage is an honest mechanic, a loving husband, and a hard-working dad. Bug knows there’s no future in the man he used to be: known from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida as the best wheelman on the East Coast.

He thought he’d left all that behind him, but as his carefully built new life begins to crumble, he finds himself drawn inexorably back into a world of blood and bullets. When a smooth-talking former associate comes calling with a can’t-miss jewelry store heist, Bug feels he has no choice but to get back in the driver’s seat. And Bug is at his best where the scent of gasoline mixes with the smell of fear.

Haunted by the ghost of who he used to be and the father who disappeared when he needed him most, Bug must find a way to navigate this blacktop wasteland…or die trying.

Like Ocean’s Eleven meets Drive, with a Southern noir twist, S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland is a searing, operatic story of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, race, and his own former life of crime.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (2012)

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce?

It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes—the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned. Jeffrey Eugenides creates a new kind of contemporary love story in “his most powerful novel yet” (Newsweek).

(Book blurbs from Amazon)

Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your list? Leave a comment!

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Likewise app – recommending books, movies, TV shows, podcasts and more!

Yesterday my work friend S. told me she uses the Likewise app to find new book recommendations. She’s always up on the best new books to read, so I thought I’d give it a try too. I downloaded it to my phone and tonight I discovered you can also log in online.

How does it work? Well I’m a newbie, but when I downloaded the app, I entered my favorite books, TV shows/movies to give the app a base for future recommendations. That was fun! Now they know what I like and the more I use it and rate what I’ve read or watched, the more precise their future recommendations will be. The app is ad-free, by the way. Let’s hope I don’t start seeing ads related to my preferences everywhere else, but I warn you, that’s already happened to me on Twitter after merely talking about a product with my phone in the room. I swear the ad people are listening to me talk!

I did a little research on the company and guess what? It was founded/funded in 2018 by Bill Gates. (Read more about that here.) You may already know Bill Gates is a big reader. He even has a book blog called GatesNotes. Yes, like many of us, he also writes book reviews! (Note: you may notice that the app says it’s been around 12+ years. Not sure what that means, but maybe there was a beta version out there first.)

Likewise has a lot going on. Besides recommendations, there’s a blog and also a social media element, so users can follow, be followed and interact. There’s also an “Ask” section, which posts recent questions. Users who subscribe to streaming services can download their saved Likewise watchlists directly to their TVs so their shows are all in one place. I’m not much of a streamer, so I don’t think I would use that feature.

A few years ago, I tried out another app, Litsy. It was fun for a while, but my interest in it petered out over time and I deleted the app. Likewise looks a lot better than Litsy and both the app and the online versions are clean and easy-to-navigate. I’m not sure if it’s available everywhere, however. The 2018 article said it’s only available in the US and Canada. That may have changed.

I will enjoy looking for book recommendations, but, like I am on Goodreads, I will probably just be a passive user. I don’t think I could handle another social media platform!

So check it out if you’re interested. Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Seeking NaNoWriMo author interviews

Hi Everyone,

Summer is almost over, and at my library job we are getting ready for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Not sure what NaNoWriMo is?

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world register to write 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. You can find out more about NaNoWriMo here.

Last year, our library published this interview with author Jill Weatherholt, whose Whispering Slopes series began as a NaNoWriMo challenge. This year, we are looking for more published authors whose novels began with NaNoWriMo. You can be indie, self-published or traditionally published – we want to hear from you!

If you fit into this group and want to share your story, email me a

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Summer break

Hi Everyone,

I’ll be taking a blogging break for the next few weeks due to a family illness. I’ll miss you while I’m gone, but I’m Iooking forward to coming back to share book reviews and, of most of all, visit you!


Science fiction and fantasy – are these your genres?

I recently did a work book chat on science fiction and fantasy. I would never consider these my favorite genres because I have always preferred my fiction to be set in a familiar world. Like many, to me, science fiction and fantasy conjure up aliens, spaceships and other worlds, or animals that talk or strange creatures I’ve never even considered. For some reason, that has never excited me, or so I thought.

The more I got into preparing, however, the more I realized that I’ve read a good number of science fiction and fantasy and they were books I actually liked a lot! Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite books.

So today I’m sharing those books. Some I read in high school, so I don’t have reviews for those. I’ve linked everything to either Goodreads or my blog. This list is by no means comprehensive. To find these, I referred to: Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books on NPR.

1984 by George Orwell

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Here are a couple I’ve always wanted to read:

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Watership Down by Richard Adams

This is proof that it’s always good to stretch yourself to different genres. You may already find some familiar books in there and more that you will enjoy! How do you feel about science fiction and fantasy? Leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Books with writers as characters

Have you ever noticed how often the books we read include characters who (or is it that – someone please tell me the rule!) are writers? Some are novelists, poets, journalists or podcasters. Some are based on real-life writers. Many are struggling with their careers. They’ve either made it big and are losing their touch, or they’ve written one successful book, but haven’t written a second. Still others have made it big but struggle with the fame. These characters aren’t always the main part of the story, but many are.

I wonder if I’m just drawn to this kind of book? Here’s a list of what I’ve read:

The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner – children’s author

Less by Andrew Sean Greer – struggling novelist

Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor – Emily Dickinson

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway – Ernest Hemingway (nonfiction)

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – novelist

A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders – novelists/publishing house

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney – one sibling is a struggling novelist

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – romance novelist who may be losing her touch

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – journalist/podcaster

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – Ernest Hemingway as he writes The Sun Also Rises

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand – popular mystery writer, past her peak

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – investigative journalist

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney – struggling novelist

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin – Truman Capote

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg – mystery writer

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple – struggling graphic memoirist

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – travel journalist

Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk – new novelist who makes it big

I’m about to start another one that will make this list: The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz. It’s a hot book this summer and my hold just came in from the library.

Do you like reading books about writers? Can you add any to this list? I may have to read them next!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

More books set in Australia!

Wow, what a great response to this week’s post about books set in Australia! Here’s a list (in no particular order) of highly recommended Australian books, taken from readers’ comments.

A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Flames by Robbie Arnott

Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington

Gifts of the Peramangk by Dean Mayes

The Encampment by the Gorge and Blood Memory by Zachary Ashford

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes

The Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost

A Long Way Home by Peter Carey

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

On The Beach by Nevil Shute

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

In the Wet by Nevil Shute

The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat

The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

The Swooping Magpie by Liza Perrat

The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough

Morgan’s Run by Colleen McCoullough

And thanks to the following bloggers for adding to the list. Be sure to check out their blogs because they have the best reading recommendations!

Darlene Foster’s Blog

JP McLean

Sayling Away by Noelle Granger

Priscilla Bettis, Author

Garden of Eden Blog by Susan Scott

A Writer’s Perspective by April Munday

Derrick J Knight

Cathy at 746 Books

Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies

Donna at Retirement Reflections

Lauren at Baydreamer

Roberta Writes

Jennifer’s Journal by Jennifer Kelland Perry

For more, visit my earlier post of Books set in Australia here.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Books set in Australia

Wow, I hadn’t realized until recently just how many books I’ve read that are set in Australia! Here’s what I’ve read. Can you add to this list?

Alone – Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean – Brett Archibald

The Dry by Jane Harper

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Check out these lists for additional books set in Australia:

Goodreads – Best Books Set in Australia

Tale_Away – Books Set In Australia: Australian Novels

Crime Reads – 10 Essential Australian Novels

For even more, visit my post More books set in Australia here.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!