Blogmas Day 16: Favorite Authors

Happy BLOGMAS Day 16!

I never talk about who my favorite authors are. I don’t know if you have to read so many books from a certain author to consider it a favorite, but I don’t really want to follow the rules. These are the authors I have read book(s) from and loved. I will also link the Goodreads page to the book(s) that made me love these authors.

P.S: I apologize these posts have been so simple. I definitely expected more out of myself, but my internet has been out and I’ve been working. I get them written/scheduled when and if I can. I hope you all understand. There are 15 more posts to come, so I hope you all stay excited!

William Kent Krueger

This Tender Land

Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Evidence of the Affair

Christina Lauren

Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

The Unhoneymooners

Claire Lombardo

The Most Fun We Ever Had

Rachel Kadish

The Weight of Ink

Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

Riley Sager

Lock Every Door

Final Girls

Paula McLain

Love and Ruin

Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner

The Sea Prayer

J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Honorable Mentions

A.S. King

Everybody Sees the Ants

Dig

Catherine Chung

The Tenth Muse

Samantha Downing

My Lovely Wife

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit

The Fellowship of the Ring

Alex Dahl

The Boy at the Door


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Blogmas Day 12: Author Interview with William Kent Krueger!

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Happy exciting BLOGMAS day 12!

I decided to stick my neck out one day and ask Atria Books if William Kent Krueger would be willing to answer some questions about his new novel This Tender Land for my blog. I woke up at 6 AM one morning to an email back from the author himself, accepting. I was so excited that I woke my boyfriend up from a deep slumber.

Thank you to Atria Books for forwarding the request. Thank you to William Kent Krueger for taking time out of his day to answer my questions and for being a kind person overall. I will remember this forever. 

I hope you all enjoy learning about this incredible novel and the mastermind behind it! I had a lot of fun. I even bought myself a signed B&N exclusive edition of This Tender Land, and I’m excited to display it on my shelves.

Links to my review for This Tender Land:

Blog | Instagram | Goodreads

Q&A

1. I read on your website that you researched childhood development at the University of Minnesota. All the children in ​This Tender Land ​ are very well developed, but I was curious to know if you learned anything new from creating characters like Odie and Mose?

WKK: I learn something new with every character I create in any story I write. For me, it’s like running into someone new and getting to know them. They have much to offer as characters, not just as elements of the story. In creating the Four Vagabonds, I learned lessons in forgiveness, lessons about grief, lessons about family and friendship. I have a lot of input on my own, of course, but the characters themselves dictate so much, and I try to give them plenty of room to breathe and act and grow.

2. I work at a library and have noticed an increase in books involving Native American characters/culture. What inspired you to write about white brothers in an all Indian school?

WKK: For more than twenty years, in my Cork O’Connor mystery series, I’ve dealt with issues that are significant to the Native community. The tragic history of the Native American boarding school system is something I’ve been aware of for a very long time. In the early stages of conceiving the story for This Tender Land, I knew that I wanted the orphans to be running from a horrific environment. I couldn’t think of anything more horrific than life in one of these boarding schools. And because I knew from the beginning that one of the kids on the odyssey the Vagabonds were going take would be Native American, it all fit together nicely.

3. Was there a specific building/place that gave you inspiration for the Lincoln Indian Training School?

WKK: I drew a lot of inspiration from the Pipestone Indian Training School, which was situated in southwestern Minnesota, but is no longer in existence. The physical layout and many of the specific elements, however, were an amalgam of elements I gleaned from my research involving many other boarding schools.

4. This novel discusses a lot about the land and the environment around these children as they make their long arduous journey to St. Louis. Is there a deeper meaning behind that?

WKK: Any good story, I believe, ought to be a doorway to a consideration of ideas and themes that have universal appeal and application. So, in my conception of the novel and what it might be, I saw the river journey representing all kinds of odysseys—spiritual, emotional, even physical. And I also believe that any good story ought to leave itself open to multiple interpretations. Readers ought to be able to read into it whatever their own lives and perceptions direct them to see. It’s not unusual for readers to point out to me something they found of significance that went completely over my head in the actual writing of the story. But once they bring it to my attention, I can see where they’re coming from.

5. I love that Odie is a storyteller. When you were brainstorming ideas for the book, did you already know he would be a storyteller? If not, was there something else he was going to be known for?

WKK: I knew all along that Odie would narrate the story, but that he was also a storyteller was something I only discovered once I began the actual writing. It seemed a natural part of his being. In the same way, I discovered the nature of Albert and Mose and all the complexity that is Emmy. Composing this story was just as much a journey for me as it was for any of the Four Vagabonds.

6. There are a ton of diverse characters throughout the book. My favorite being Herman Volz. He truly was an upstanding guy. Do you have a favorite character? Did it change while writing the book?

WKK: I always identified with Odie. There’s so much of who I am in that wonderful kid. Although I adored all the Vagabonds (and I understand your appreciation of Herman Volz), my favorite, start to finish, was Odie.

About the Author

William Kent Krueger

*Photo is from his website.

William Kent Krueger is the author of This Tender Land, published on September 3rd, 2019. He also wrote a stand-alone novel called Ordinary Grace, published March 23rd, 2013, winner of the Edgar Award. His Cork O’Connor mystery series is also a winner of many awards, including the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, the Minnesota Book Award, the Anthony Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, and the Friends of American Writer’s Prize. Krueger briefly studied at Stanford University, then dabbled in numerous jobs—freelance journalism, construction, and logging timber—before becoming a writer. He even studied childhood development at the University of Minnesota. Krueger makes his living as a full-time author and lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his lovely wife Diane, a retired attorney. You can learn more about him and his novels on his website​: https://williamkentkrueger.com/


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Book Review: This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

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This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

450 pages

ISBN: 9781476749297 (Hardcover)

Published 9/3/19 by Atria Books

Genre: Historical Fiction (my library categorized it into the “Mystery” section?)

Rating: ★★★★★

*The cover photo is taken from Goodreads.*

B&N | Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis

I would usually just put the Goodreads synopsis here, but I thought it was too big of a story to just give a brief rundown.

“Ask me, God’s right here. In the dirt, the rain, the sky, the trees, the apples, the stars in the cottonwoods. In you and me, too. It’s all connected and it’s all God. Sure this is hard work, but it’s good work, because it’s part of what connects us to this land, Buck. This beautiful, tender land.”

Trigger warnings: murder, mention of drugs, talk of alcoholism, child abuse—physical & mental, prostitution (brothel), and the hint at sexual abuse toward minors/children.

This does have a lot of The Odyssey references. The main character’s name is literally Odysseus. You learn why toward the end of the book.

You start out with a narrator who considers himself a storyteller. He lives along the banks of the Gilead River in a house shaded by a Sycamore tree.

He brings the reader back to 1932 during the midst of the Great Depression when he was a young boy. Odie O’Banion is the narrator’s name, and accompanying him is his older brother, Albert. They are two white boys in an all Indian school called The Lincoln Indian Training School—used to be a military outpost called Fort Sibley. Odie practically lives in the “quiet room” here. An old solitary confinement room that held warriors. Only a thin matting of straw layered the dirt floor, and a rusted iron door had a slot for food. He finds comfort in a rat named Faria, who he feeds when given the chance. Their aunt Julia forced Albert and Odie to go to Lincoln, where kids exhaust themselves physically and mentally, because of the death of their parents.

Running the school (hell hole) is Thelma “Black Witch” Brickman, and Clyde Brickman. Horrible people.

The reader also meets Herman Volz, who watches over the carpentry shop, and is the assistant boys’ advisor. He is missing half of his little finger on his right hand—a bandsaw accident. He watches over Odie and Albert. There is a kid named DiMarco, the groundskeeper who is violent toward the other kids, and Volz doesn’t take any crap from him.

This wouldn’t be This Tender Land without the rest of the vagabonds—Emmy Frost and Moses “Mose” Washington. Emmy is a little girl who lives with her mom, Cora Frost. Cora teaches homemaking skills. Emmy’s father dies in a farming equipment accident. Emmy was flung off the farm equipment, knocking her head, and ended up in a coma for a few days.

Mose isn’t deaf, he just doesn’t have a tongue—cut out of his head by people who also killed his mother. He uses sign language to communicate, but didn’t learn it until Albert and Odie arrived at Lincoln School.

There is a big storm that tears through the town and tragedy ensues—Cora Frost is killed by the tornado. This is the perfect opportunity for Thelma to take her in. No one really understands why she would want to.

Odie and DiMarco get into a fight, which also ends in “tragedy.” When Odie confesses what happens to his brother and Mose, they all take Mr. Frost’s canoe and run away. The plan—to get to Saint Louis to see Albert and Odie’s aunt Julia. Julia had been the one to put them in there. She didn’t realize just how horrible the school was. She had received letters every year telling her how great the kids have been. Julia even sent money to the school to give to Odie and Albert, but they selfishly held on to it.

There are so many other aspects to this story that I don’t even want to mention. I feel like I have already said too much!

Review

Story | There are so many layers to this novel. I appreciated that the kids stayed long enough in each place to create relationships—good or bad—and moved on. It may have moved really fast at some point, but I didn’t mind it all that much. It was very easy to understand what was happening.The author did great at explaining each scene. I felt like there was more showing than telling.

There is a lot of talk about God and what He means to each character. Odie was on the fence about it. He explains that a lot of things happen that don’t make any sense if there is a God. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy that aspect of the story, but I found it really interesting. Last year I read The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord, which talked a lot about religion, but I gave that five-stars as well. It’s really weird how this reading thing works. I will not get into my views on religion here, but it surprises me what kind of books I end up loving.

It’s a moving story about friendship, family, and how the land connects us all.

“Of all that we’re asked to give others in this life, the most difficult to offer may be forgiveness.”

Writing | I will admit that the writing in this novel is quality fiction writing. I found nothing that blew me away, but sometimes simple is better. This isn’t even a critique. I’m just letting everyone know. Krueger has excellent word choice and phrasing. There were many beautiful quotes I found woven throughout the story.

Characters | The characters in this book are phenomenal. I honestly think the character development in this was my favorite part. You witness so much inner-turmoil that you wouldn’t expect a character to have. There is a lot of love and drama between everyone. They all end up knowing each other in some odd way, and I loved that.

You really get a front row seat to see how terrible the Brickmans actually are. They are so coniveing and ruthless. At first you think Clyde is going to be alright, but then you just learn he’s a tool.

Odie was a great protagonist! He goes through so many mental and physical obsticles. He is passionate about who he cares for. One of his flaws is poor judge of character. They managed to find their way into bad situations because of that. He only has good intentions.

“Love comes in so many forms, and pain is no different.”

Overall | Beautiful story. I think this would make a wonderful book club pick! I couldn’t recommend it enough. It is over 400 pages with a lot of words on one page, but I loved every every word. This will definitely make it into my top 5 favorite books of 2019. I can’t wait to buy it and put it on my shelves.

Have you read this yet? If so, let me know your thoughts!


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WWW Wednesday! (10/30/19)

Happy Halloween Eve! If you don’t celebrate holidays, then I hope you’re having a good Wednesday.

This is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words. You answer three simple questions: What are you currently reading, what have you recently finished reading, and what do you anticipate you’ll read next?

Make sure that you link back to the host!

What are you currently reading? 

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

I was listening to Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, but I haven’t listened to it in a week or so.

What have you recently finished reading?

The Institute by Stephen King ★★★✩✩

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks ★★★★✩

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates ★★★★✩ – Blog Review

What do you plan on reading next?

The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust #2) by Philip Pullman

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout


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