Our Wolves has received some lovely and “interesting” attention that I thought I would share with you.
There are some wonderful reviews on Goodreads (and Amazon), including those by veteran reviewers Elizabeth Gauffreau, Suanne Schafer, a couple of Library Things reviewers, etc. I also received my first one star rating ever!!! Yes, “Donna” wrote: “An interesting take on Red Riding Hood. Dark and shades of abuse. Might be someone else’s cup of tea but not mine.” Apparently, even though it’s an interesting take, because it’s not her cup of tea, it warrants a one star.
“If you like interesting and thought provoking poetry, you will love Our Wolves.“
On another note, I looked for an African-American Red doll for my collection and found a gorgeous one on ebay by artist Stacy Bayne: $250! Here’s a link: https://www.ebay.com/itm/225374443246 While I can’t justify that (hah), it’s certainly beautiful. Here’s one of my $20 antique mall goodies.
Are you a reader? I suspect if you’re a blog reader then you do consider yourself to be a reader.
And if you’re a reader, are you on Goodreads? If you are, great. If you haven’t done so already, FRIEND me here:
Then read the list below and tell me what else I missed that Goodreads offers to readers.
If you’re not yet on Goodreads, let me tell you what I like about it. It can be a very social media. You can choose to join lots of groups and chat about all kinds of books and book issues. If you don’t find the group you want, you can create and moderate one.
But if you don’t want to be that social, you can choose your comfort level—anywhere from social butterfly to recluse.
What else can you do on Goodreads
When you hear about a book you want to read in the future, you can add it to your to-read list.
Your own personal reading lists will keep you organized. At any time, you can look up what you have already read and see which books you are “currently reading,” but have forgotten about (I’ve misplaced the book or forgotten I was in the middle of one on Kindle—don’t ask). Organization can be by genre.
Book reviews by other Goodreads readers will give you an idea if you want to read a book or not.
Your own book reviews will remind you later of what you liked or didn’t like—and allow you to interact with others about any book you choose. They will also reward a writer whose book you really appreciated. If you already leave book reviews on Amazon, you can post the exact same review both places.
Friends will send you book recommendations.
Take a reading challenge.
Follow your favorite blogs through Goodreads.
When you’re busy, you can just ignore Goodreads; it won’t mind.
Book giveaways are super easy to enter, and you have a good chance of winning. How do I know? I have won!
You can follow or friend writers and correspond with them through public questions or personal messages.
Occasionally there are book-related gigs available.
Need a quote? Find them here.
Quizzes, author pages, and creative writing opportunities are on Goodreads.
Those of you already on the site, what do you like best about Goodreads?
Kin Types had an original release date of June 23, 2017, but I got an email from the publisher. They are running five weeks behind. So don’t look for your copy until the end of July or first week of August! I’m so sorry for the delay. !@#$%^&*()
In the better news category, Doll God was reviewed by an academic critic in a print journal Pleiades Book Review 14:2.
Christine Butterworth-McDermott: “Dolls, Freaks, Art: American Poets Creating a New Mythology.”
Butterworth-McDermott’s article is a feminist reading of Doll God. I love how she connected with the doll and fairy tale poems in the book. She also reviews two other books, by Susan Swartwout and Denise Alvarez, in the same piece. At the end, she says, “Readers should read and reread the works of Castle, Swartwout, and Alvarez, finding new ways of looking at the world each time.”
Since I haven’t been writing lately I started Diane Lockward’s poetry craft book, The Crafty Poet II. I am writing a few very rough drafts based on exercises in the book. It’s a good way to get started again.
Dad is out of the nursing home! He told me that he listened to me (haha, this must be a first time!) and worked really hard to get out of there. I had made him promise to try his best.
So he is home and that is a more comfortable place to be, although I know that he is still very uncomfortable. What a difficult recovery.
I found these buttons in a drawer yesterday. They belonged to my grandmother who was a great tailor/seamstress. My father’s mother. These buttons are at least 50 years old–some perhaps much older. I think my father gets a kick out of me saving stuff like this. When his mother passed away, he created a collage of scraps of her clothing that he hung on the wall. And he made Christmas decorations by pinning her costume jewelry onto styrofoam “Christmas trees.”
UPDATE: here is a link to a blog, Telling Family Tales, I’ve been reading for a long time. She has ideas to use those old buttons!!!
I finally wrote a review of her gorgeous 2nd book. I loved Cullen’s first book Paper Boat. It came out in 2003, and I wrote a review for Amazon for it. Most of the poems were written after the unexpected and terribly tragic death of her only sister. The book was really an elegy for her sister–a beautiful tribute to a life lost too soon.
Now Cullen has a 2nd book out, Slip. And this book is a wonderful example of contemporary poetry. This the review I put on Amazon and Goodreads:
There is something holy in the language of the poems in Slip, Cullen Bailey Burns’ second book, as if it were a consecration of both representation and thought. Maybe it’s that so many poems call the reader to action: to imagine anew, to find nostalgia in surprising places, and to be as one with the “we.” Like any sacred ritual, the identities of leader and participant meld. I am swept up in the miracle of grief and transformation: “There’s no one to call for help. The deer / swam straight at that sun. / / Such transmutation: water, sky, gold.” If we move with life’s changes, we will occasionally stand for a moment in “the golden light that makes us beautiful.”
It’s really awe-inspiring and humbling how much wonderful poetry is being written and published year after year.
After I started transferring my memoir reviews over to Goodreads, I had to go through another critiquing process: assigning the number of stars to each book. What goes into that analysis is different from writing a review. A review focuses on all the ways the reader (the reviewer) reacts to and interacts with a book. I can love the experience of reading a book without thinking that overall the book deserves the highest score possible, 5 stars.
Also, there are books I want to give a 4.5, but I don’t know how to do that. Do you have to assign a 4 or a 5? No halves?
And what does a 5 mean? Does it always mean that I think the book is the most engaging story? Not necessarily because some books aren’t about the narrative. Does it mean that the book has the most literate, well-crafted sentences? Often times it does mean that. But not always. I am using 5 stars to mean a book that I can see myself reading again, should the occasion arise. And a book I can advise others to read, without qualification.
It kind of astonishes me how stingy some people are when they assign stars to books on Goodreads. I suspect those people have never written anything themselves ;).
Here are some unexpected stars in nature:
Speaking of book reviews, I plan on writing one for Julia Scheeres’ memoir Jesus Land in the near future.
This winter I will complete my tutorial in the Stanford program. In the tutorial I will be working with an instructor who will read my whole book draft (the memoir) and give me feedback for revision. Researching the Stanford instructors I realized that I so wanted to work with Julia Scheeres, especially after I read her Jesus Land. Oh, what a book! Imagine my excitement when I got the email saying that my request had been approved and that I get to work with Ms. Scheeres this winter!
But I have to go work on my draft which needs another year’s worth of work before it’s ready. And I only have until the end of December. Good thing we’re not having our Thanksgiving dinner today. Pumpkin pie Saturday!
In September, S.K. Nicholls wrote a post on here about the similarities between a novel like her Red Clay and Roses and a memoir. I enjoyed her book so much and eventually wrote a review for it that I posted on Amazon. While I have no memoir review today, here is a copy of my Amazon review for S.K.’s book.
Once I started reading S.K. Nicholls’ roman à clef Red Clay and Roses, I had to be pried away from the book for work and sleep. Her masterful storytelling is ideal for this southern story that, like Faulkner’s, covers generations of customs and politics and changes. She explores the tragedies of racism and gender inequality with a firm hand and a warm heart.
We hear the story through different voices. The nurse who learns the secrets and mysteries of the past tells us the story of the present—what’s “become” of the past. Then the love story of Nathan and Sybil is told in 3rd person. And it’s an enthralling story of transracial love in a time and place where such love could only be destroyed.
My fascination with American local and regional history was only fueled by this book. The details, down to specifics about Sybil’s business, lend authenticity to the story and demonstrate the research that went into the writing of the book.
Once you enter the world of this book, no matter how difficult that world can seem, you won’t want to leave.
I also posted the review at Goodreads. It’s not a memoir, but I enjoyed the detour into fiction.
I have a related question. OK, a few questions. What is the difference between Goodreads and Amazon reviews? When I write a review for a book, should I post it at both sites? Is there some connection between these two websites?
Although I had signed up for Goodreads a long time ago, I hadn’t really put any reviews up until recently when I decided to gradually copy my memoir reviews over there. But I feel so ignorant.
What do I really need to know about Goodreads to use it properly?