Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Sunday Salon and Vacation Reading...

Hey, I'm finally back from vacation! What an awesome roadtrip we had! The Outerbanks of North Carolina, which was our first "planned" destination, was beautiful. So much variety when it came to nature, which includes animals and land. We tent camped in the dunes in the  Cape Hatteras National Seashore and experienced how quickly the weather can change in this area. We went from beautiful hot, to extreme winds (which eventually did our tent in once), to an amazing storm (which finally did our tent in and anything that was lying on the tent floor, such as our cell phones!) I found some great bookish things along the way... which included an awesome bookstore AND my first encounter with an actual Little Library! Plus, like any good reader, I bought some books about some of the places we visited. Now, did I get any reading done? NO! I tried to settle down and read, but there was literally (no pun intended) so many things to do and see, I never got to crack the spine of the book I brought. Sorry, Brian Meltzer, maybe next time.

First, here are the books I bought along the way. From books on The Outerbanks, to books on the rich history of North Carolina pottery and in particular pottery from Seagrove, NC., to a book on Lighthouses and even a book on the USS North Carolina, the most highly decorated American battleship of WWII, which is now a museum ship and is located in Wilmington, NC. There's also a book of poetry by Marge Piercy, The Moon is Always Female, that Gee Gee, owner of  Buxton Village Books recommended, and that Chelsea Newnam of the now defunct blog, Ethershop, says of Marge Piercy, " It is not every day that a collection of poetry aligns itself so staunchly with the issues of the heart and the female spirit that it is hard to put down." And I have to say, I have enjoyed reading The Moon is Always Female and a review will be up soon. Thanks Gee Gee for the great recommendation! You'll also see in "The Pile" a "library book", that I picked up used in the Factory Antique Mall, in Verona, VA. It is the largest antique mall in America, and I have to admit that Jim and I had to ask directions on how to get back to the front doors to leave. (Yes, it's that big with all sorts of rooms off of the main drag). Anyway, the book is A Citizen-Soldier's Civil War and it is the letters Brevet Major General Alvin C. Voris wrote to his beloved wife, Lydia, during the Civil War. There are 428 letters and they are so interesting with such touching & romantic sentiments at times, I just had to read the whole book. Hard to see from the photo is a book on The Wright Brothers called First Flight published by The National Parks. We visited the field in which that first flight was taken in Kill Devils Hill, NC. (This part of the town use to be in Kitty Hawk). Jim likes to say I achieved first flight there too because I flew a really cool kite that I bought from Kitty Hawk Kites there.

Also in "The Pile" is a book called Lighthouse Ghosts and Carolina Coastal Legends by Norma and Bruce Roberts. I can't resist a good ghost story. And I also picked up Wave by Suzy Lee, a beautiful wordless book that reminded me so much of the beaches beyond the dunes we camped in. It was so relaxing to listen to the waves crash as we settled down for the evenings.

One of the highlights of the trip was the accidental discovery of a Little Free Library on the main road as we were traveling from our campsite to the tip of Hatteras Island. Located in Waves, NC and put up by Pamela Strausbaugh, Pamela actually put up two libraries! One for adults and a "Jr." library for younger readers! First of all, they were beautiful! So well made and I loved the idea of the Jr. library! There was even a hook for a dog leash on one of the posts. But next to each library was a place to sit and read! An "adult" bench next to the adult library and a childrens adorondak chair next to the Jr. library. Great job, Pamela! Someday I'll be putting up a Little Free Library and I was so excited to actually see one in person!

Of course, no reader on vacation would mind checking out a cool bookstore, right?! As we were making that trip to the tip of Hatteras Island, I also saw the cutest looking bookstore. It looked like someone's house, it had an inviting aura about it, and so I begged Jim to please stop! (okay, maybe I screamed, "STOP!" as I realized it was a bookstore we were zooming by.) Buxton Village Books owned by Gee Gee Rosell was definitely worth a stop! It had everything you'd want in an independent bookstore -- a friendly person running the place, who loved books and loved to share them with you (that would be owner Gee Gee), a great selection of books, a section of local books, and a gently used section of books!

Gee Gee was so nice. We talked about books, about the Outerbanks, about Chick with Books, she let me wonder around with my camera and take pictures, and told me about Buxton Village Books. If you are ever near the Outerbanks, NC, near Buxton or somewhere you can get to this bookstore, GO THERE! It is a great independent bookstore with lots of charm and a woman who knows her stuff! I will definitely be going back there! Of course you can find Buxton Village Books online (nice website too)... here's the link.

That about does it for the bookish parts of our roadtrip. I have plenty to read and will probably never finish it all! But that's why we have TBR piles! Something I DID read THIS past week was The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens. It was the selection for book club this month and I really enjoyed it. I'll be reviewing it this week, but in a few words it was like a cross between a police procedural and literary fiction with a dose of horror film... the part of the horror film where someone decides to check out the basement and you're on the couch yelling, "NO!!".

Question... Have YOU seen a Little Free Library Yet?!?

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Monday, June 27, 2016

Memoir Monday and Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings

Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series—I Am Jazz—making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults.

In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen. Through it all, her family has been beside her on this journey, standing together against those who don't understand the true meaning of tolerance and unconditional love. Now Jazz must learn to navigate the physical, social, and emotional upheavals of adolescence—particularly high school—complicated by the unique challenges of being a transgender teen. Making the journey from girl to woman is never easy—especially when you began your life in a boy’s body.

I had not heard of Jazz before seeing a blurb about a photographer taking photos of her. I didn't understand who Jazz was, but this book is surging in popularity and made me take notice. With all the talk about transgender, here is one teenager's take on navigating the world and trying to be a "normal" teenager.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bookish humor...


Monday, June 20, 2016

Memoir Monday and Food and the City by Ina Yalof

An unprecedented behind-the-scenes tour of New York City’s dynamic food culture, as told through the voices of the chefs, line cooks, restaurateurs, waiters, and street vendors who have made this industry their lives.

In Food and the City, Ina Yalof takes us on an insider’s journey into New York’s pulsating food scene alongside the men and women who call it home. Dominique Ansel declares what great good fortune led him to make the first cronut. Lenny Berk explains why Woody Allen’s mother would allow only him to slice her lox at Zabar’s. Ghaya Oliveira, who came to New York as a young Tunisian stockbroker, opens up about her hardscrabble yet swift trajectory from dishwasher to executive pastry chef at Daniel. Restaurateur Eddie Schoenfeld describes his journey from Nice Jewish Boy from Brooklyn to New York’s Indisputable Chinese Food Maven.

From old-schoolers such as David Fox, third-generation owner of Fox’s U-bet syrup, and the outspoken Upper West Side butcher “Schatzie,” to new kids on the block including Patrick Collins, sous chef at The Dutch, and Brooklyn artisan Lauren Clark of Sucre Mort Pralines, Food and the City is a fascinating oral history with an unforgettable gallery of New Yorkers who embody the heart and soul of a culinary metropolis.

I can't resist books about food. I love to read the behind the scenes books on chefs and cooks, and Food and the City looks to be a fascinating read. That the story here takes place throughout New York City just adds a touch of allure! On my TBR list! Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, May 2016.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Chick with Books goes South...

That's right, Chick with Books is going South! I've got my Kindle packed (actually a few physical books made it into the "luggage" too), my camera, my ukulele and we're off! Our first destination is the Outer Banks in North Carolina where we'll be roughing it in a tent! And then our roadtrip continues around the Southern coast and looping back to Connecticut. Searching for some great indie bookstores along the way, great food and places to kick my shoes off and relax! We will probably make stops in Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA... but this is a roadtrip, right, so we're going where the road takes us...

While I was vaguely planning our direction and seeking out campsites, I got an email from a publicist with Henry Holt & Co. wanting to know if I'd like to read & review Under The Stars: How America Fell In Love With Camping by Dan White. Was it fate that brought that book to me or a sign that camping the Southern states was a good idea? I'm not sure, but it sure was timely! I'm not sure I'll get it in time to bring it along, but here's what I look forward to reading when I get back...

Under The Stars: How America Fell In Love With Camping by Dan White...  From the Sierras to the Adirondacks and the Everglades, Dan White travels the nation to experience firsthand—and sometimes face first—how the American wilderness transformed from the devil’s playground into a source of adventure, relaxation, and renewal.

Whether he’s camping nude in cougar country, being attacked by wildlife while “glamping,” or crashing a girls-only adventure for urban teens, Dan White seeks to animate the evolution of outdoor recreation. In the process, he demonstrates how the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, Roosevelt, and Muir—along with visionaries such as Adirondack Murray, Horace Kephart, and Juliette Gordon Low—helped blaze a trail from Transcendentalism to Leave No Trace.

Wide-ranging in research, enthusiasm, and geography, Under the Stars reveals a vast population of nature seekers, a country still in love with its wild places.

Question... Do you bring books with you to read on vacation? 

In the meantime, I hope you all have a great rest of June and a fabulous Fourth of July! I'll see ya'll back here Sunday, July 10th! I'll let you know what great books I read and if I found any great indie bookstores along the way. 

Video Guest Post with Michelle Biiting and Moby Dick Individuation

Michelle Bitting's first collection, Good Friday Kiss (C & R, 2008) won the DeNovo First Book Award. Her second collection, Notes To The Beloved (SPC, 2011) won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award and received a starred review from Kirkus. Poems have been published in the American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Narrative, The L.A. Weekly, diode, Linebreak, and The Paris-American, and have been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University and is currently a Ph.D candidate in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She grew up in Los Angeles near the ocean.

Chick with Books is thrilled to have Michelle Bitting stop by today to share a poem, Moby Dick Individuation, which is part of her newest poetry collection The Couple Who Fell To Earth, published by C & R Press! Join me in a warm welcome to Michelle!

Isn't it wonderful to hear a poet read his or her own poetry?! Michelle Bitting does a great job of setting the tone and feeling of her poem, Moby Dick Individuation. To hear more of Michelle, you can search YouTube, and don't forget to check out her wonderful new collection of poetry, The Couple Who Fell To Earth, which has this poem included in it! 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Couple Who Fell To Earth by Michelle Bitting... A Review

The Couple Who Fell To Earth by Michelle Bitting swept me into a sea that felt ordinary at first glance, but upon closer inspection was deeply personal and filled with thoughts not ordinarily spoken out loud. I felt a connection to these poems, as though I were part of that "couple who fell to earth", as though Michelle Bitting were speaking for me at times and other times showing me the way somewhere I've never been. These poems will take you on a journey...

What words would I use to describe Michelle Bitting's poetry... Crisp, beautiful, eternal. In this collection of poetry, The Couple Who Fell To Earth, Michelle divides the poems into Earth, Heart, Immanent, Body and Wind. Each infused with family and love, connections that seem ancient and yet contemporary, a thread that links us all, and words that dance off your tongue as you read silently to yourself. And I think the wonderful way the words flow and play with eachother is what makes me want to read and reread these poems. The sentiments, such as in the poem Immanent, Purgatorio (with Dante Alighieri),

"tell the ones who asked the angels who told
      me to retire my bent towards calamity's green:
From this time on, love governs my soul."  

makes me want to reread these poems to enjoy them for their subtle observations. This collection has something for everyone and would definitely be a nice edition a bookshelf. The Couple Who Fell To Earth also received a nice starred review from Kirkus Reviews

About the Poet... 
Michelle Bitting’s first collection, Good Friday Kiss (C & R, 2008) won the DeNovo First Book Award. Her second collection, Notes To The Beloved (SPC, 2011) won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award and received a starred review from Kirkus. Poems have been published in the American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Narrative, The L.A. Weekly, diode, Linebreak, and The Paris-American, and have been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University and is currently a Ph.D candidate in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She grew up in Los Angeles near the ocean. 

You can learn more about Michelle and her poetry at her WEBSITE. Check out Michelle on GoodReads too! The Couple Who Fell To Earth was published by C & R Press this past May and is available at your local bookstore now! Or if you prefer, here's the link to the book via

I received a copy of The Couple Who Fell To Earth through Poetic Book Tours for my honest review. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Memoir Monday and... Blackout by Sarah Hepola

Blackout by Sarah Hepola... For Sarah Hepola, alcohol was "the gasoline of all adventure." She spent her evenings at cocktail parties and dark bars where she proudly stayed till last call. Drinking felt like freedom, part of her birthright as a strong, enlightened twenty-first-century woman.

But there was a price. She often blacked out, waking up with a blank space where four hours should be. Mornings became detective work on her own life. What did I say last night? How did I meet that guy? She apologized for things she couldn't remember doing, as though she were cleaning up after an evil twin. Publicly, she covered her shame with self-deprecating jokes, and her career flourished, but as the blackouts accumulated, she could no longer avoid a sinking truth. The fuel she thought she needed was draining her spirit instead. A memoir of unblinking honesty and poignant, laugh-out-loud humor, BLACKOUT is the story of a woman stumbling into a new kind of adventure--the sober life she never wanted. Shining a light into her blackouts, she discovers the person she buried, as well as the confidence, intimacy, and creativity she once believed came only from a bottle. Her tale will resonate with anyone who has been forced to reinvent or struggled in the face of necessary change. It's about giving up the thing you cherish most--but getting yourself back in return.

The online magazine Jezebel had a post called "Ask a Former Drunk: When Do You Know You Have a Problem?". This post was written by Sarah Hepola and it's kind of an advice column where for the next four weeks on Tuesdays, Sarah will answer questions from people who have their own problems with alcohol. She mentioned that she had written this book, Blackout, she sounded interesting and the excerpt I read was good, so I'm highlighting it for Memoir Monday. The book has received a lot of praise and just came out in paperback last week. Published by Grand Central Publishing... it's on my TBR list! Want to read an excerpt? You can find one on Sarah Hepola's website.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Sunday Salon and a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words... especially to children!

Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news!

It's finally Summer in Connecticut! The sun is shining and life feels good. This morning we went to a juried art show at the local university and I feel inspired. As a previous art major in college I've always loved creating art, loved walking through a gallery, and appreciate art in all its' forms. Books and art go hand in hand. There's a lot of design that goes into a book, from the obvious design of a cover to the more subtle designs of a book such as type of paper, the weight and feel. One form of books & art are children's picture books. This week I'd like to highlight some outstanding picture books that children are bound to love, but can be loved and appreciated by adults too. These books highlighted today are filled with wonderful artwork and NO words... and as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words...

The Whale by Ethan Murrow (illustrator) & Vita Murrow (author)... A wordless epic sea adventure. There is a legend that a Great Spotted Whale lives in the ocean, although a sighting fifty years ago was never corroborated. Now two young whale watchers each set out to find the whale, one armed with sound-recording equipment, the other with a camera. When their boats collide, they pool their resources to capture incontrovertible proof that the mythical whale exists. The eventual sighting is a magical moment, especially when the children discover that it was their own grandparents who first glimpsed the whale fifty years ago. The Murrows’ spectacular wordless adventure is brought to life with stunning graphite drawings that convey the drama and haunting beauty of the ocean and capture the majesty of the awe-inspiring whale.

This beautiful wordless picture book is amazing. The black & white drawing are so beautiful!  Ethan Murrow is an artist well known for his ballpoint pen drawings, some of which are wall size. All very intricate and playful. This is his first children's book that he's worked on in collaboration with his wife Vita. I saw a little video about the process behind some of these drawings in The Whale and was fascinated by Ethan & Vita using actors to pose, which shouldn't surprise me having gone to art school, but never thought about it in terms of illustrating a children's book. 

Published by Templar an imprint of Candlewick Press April 2016.

Ethan and Vita are actually going to be at my local indie bookstore, Byrd's Books, on Sunday, June 19th to talk about their book. So, if you are near Connecticut I think it would be worth the trip. Why is my vacation starting on the 17th?! I am tempted to delay leaving for a few days so I can go to the talk. In any case, I'll be purchasing a copy of The Whale and will be reviewing it soon!

The Pool by Jihyeon Lee... What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool? Dive in to find out! Deceptively simple, this masterful book tells a story of quiet moments and surprising encounters, and reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.

Another beautifully illustrated book and the debut children's picturebook for artist Jihyeon Lee. The book is the result of Jihyeon visiting a public swimming pool and seeing the contrast of what was going on above the water and the calm emptiness far below the water. This book also won a Gold Medal in the Society of Illustrator's Original Art Show in 2015. And again, it's fascinating to see how this book came together... at the Picturebook Makers Blog you can read a behind the scenes take on how the book was inspired and then created. 

Published in 2015 by Chronicle Books

Float by Daniel Miyares... A boy’s small paper boat—and his large imagination—fill the pages of this wordless picture book, a modern-day classic that includes endpaper instructions for building a boat of your own.

A little boy takes a boat made of newspaper out for a rainy-day adventure. The boy and his boat dance in the downpour and play in the puddles, but when the boy sends his boat floating down a gutter stream, it quickly gets away from him. So of course the little boy goes on the hunt for his beloved boat—and when the rain lets up, he finds himself on a new adventure altogether.

Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole... Simple and stunning images tell the story of a cat named Spot as he weaves his way in and out of a city in this wordless picture book from award-winning author-illustrator Henry Cole. Through this gorgeous visual narrative, Henry Cole shows us a day in the life of a cat named Spot. Spot sneaks away from home by way of an open window to go on a wordless journey through the city. Follow Spot as he weaves through busy city streets, visits a farmers market, wanders into a park full of kite-flyers, and beyond. But while Spot is out on his adventure, his beloved boy owner is looking for him—seeming to just miss him every time. When all seems almost lost, Spot’s story reminds us that there’s always a way back home. With stunningly detailed black-and-white illustrations, readers will love following Spot on his adventure—along the way finding characters and objects that appear, disappear, and reappear—and cheering for the sweet reunion at the end.

Published by Little Simon in March of 2016.

Unspoken by Henry Cole...A young girl's courage is tested in this haunting, wordless story...

When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave
hiding in the barn, she is at once
startled and frightened. 

But the stranger's fearful eyes
weigh upon her conscience,
and she must make a difficult choice.
Will she have the courage to help him?

Unspoken gifts of humanity unite the girl
and the runaway as they each face a journey: 
one following the North Star,
the other following her heart.

Published by Scholastic Press in 2012

Henry Cole has illustrated over 80 children's books and here are two of his, Spot, the Cat and Unspoken, that he has written and illustrated without words. Both show off his beautiful ability to draw. Spot, the Cat being a more fun book, following the adventures of Spot, and Unspoken, a wonderful children's book about the underground railroad. To learn more about Henry Cole, about his inspirations and art, click on the Publishers Weekly interview. And there's a great write-up of Unspoken at Anita Silvey's Children's Book-a-Day Almanac.

Though I enjoy children's picture books for their artwork, wordless picture books are wonderful for children to use their imaginations. Why do we have to spell everything out in a picture book? In the PW interview with Henry Cole, Mr. Cole said that when he visits schools he likes to have the children write about the scenes in his wordless book, Unspoken, and enjoys reading how differently the children interpret what's going on.

Question... Do You Like Children's Pictures Books? 

What are your favorite children's picture books? And are there any other wordless children's books that you have found and love? Please share all those great books right here! I'd love to hear about them! Hope you've found something interesting here today! 

Happy Reading... Suzanne

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