Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July 12, 2017 Blog: Cartoons and A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW

I'm including some of the book-club cartoons I've been drawing. I have a Waco-13 Drawing Tablet that lets me draw digital cartoons, and I'm really enjoying it. (You'll likely need to zoom in to read them.) This is my first cartoon, with color:

I wanted to also try some plain black and white drawings:

And finally, a first-draft:

So, I highly recommend A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles. The book is rife with topics for fascinating discussions--reactions to characters, physical vs self-imposed imprisonment, politics in Russia, how to treat others, particularly brilliant snipits of Towles sparkling writing, and many others. 

A MAN CALLED OVE pretty much fell flat in my other book club. More so than other emotional reactions, humor is highly esoteric. Most anyone reading a scene about walking down a dark alley and hearing heavy footsteps begins to feel tense, fearful. A scene where a nice character is being bullied raises the reader's ire. A death of child can make readers cry. But one reader's laugh is another reader's eye roll. Because I write humorous books, I believe strongly that the key is to write scenes that work whether or not the reader finds them funny. For whatever reason, in this second book-club discussion of OVE, the main character's awful childhood seemed to have a greater impact on this club's readers. The first group called OVE "delightful" and "upbeat." This time there was general disappointment about it not living up to its recommendations. Next up for this club's July book is: THE AMERICAN HEIRESS by Daisy Goodwin. We chose this as a "beach read" book and were impressed with the author advertising it for Downton Abbey fans, and naming the heiress Cora Cash.  
Have a wonderful month, and comment about your own book-club selections. And please give my book: HOW MY BOOK CLUB GOT ARRESTED a try!

Leslie O'Kane

Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18th Blog: Baxter, Man Called Ove, Underground Railroad

Welcome to my first Dog/Book Club Blog!

It is a gorgeous Father's Day here in Boulder, Colorado. It's sunny and very warm. This is how my dog, Baxter, likes to spend hot days:

He likes being on cool porcelain or tile. Here is a picture of him (and me) when we first got him as a rescue dog in January, when he had bald patches, though you probably can't see them in this photo:
He has an illness called lymphangiectasia, which is pronounced as easily as the last name of your random Russian female tennis star. 

That does the dog portion of this blog. I'd love photos of YOUR dogs, so please attach them. I might ask permission for using them on the cover of a future Allie Babcock book.

Book Club-wise, this month my St. John's group will discuss A MAN CALLED OVE at my house next week. My Second Tuesday group discussed THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. I'm the only author in either group, and I sometimes react differently to books than non-writer readers do. I recommend book club books based on the quality of the discussion that ensued. A Man Called Ove was discussed last year in my Tues group, and on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it an 8. All sorts of fun topics arose: the theme of building one's own family after a tough childhood, men's vs women's friendships, thinking about suicide, and grumpy old men. In another two weeks or so, I'll see if I reassess that following the St. J's discussion.

The Underground Railroad I'm giving a 7 to its quality of discussion. What was great about it is we had some really different appraisals of the book. Quite honestly, I had to really struggle to move beyond the author's intentional enormous distortions of the facts; he takes the titular metaphor and makes it real--an actual underground train operating in 1812, which I was okay with, but I lost it when he chose to have a 10-story building in South Carolina in that same year, an entire century off, and had similar distortions in the timing of other historical episodes. So our discussion of that issue of historical fiction vs historical science fiction was interesting. Discussion of the characters was also interesting, as was the level of violence in the book. But here, I run into my personal bias. This was not the type of book I want to read this year. My enjoyment of the discussion was dampened by that fact. Yet it was a book that definitely is chock full of material for fascinating discussion.

Let me know what you think!
Leslie O'Kane

Monday, May 29, 2017

NEW Interactive Book Club/Dog BLOG!

Hi, Readers!

I have done a terrible job at keeping up my "itty-bitty blog" for three years now! I just don't like taking time away from my fiction writing in order to post on my blog. What I DO want to post, however, are: 1) Titles and authors of the books that my two book clubs have discussed, and a concise review of how good our discussion went; 2) Doodles, drawings, photos, and cartoons of dogs.

My hope is that those of you who are in book clubs and/or who own dogs will enjoy replying with your book-club selections and images of your dogs.

This blog upgrade has been inspired by my two upcoming NEW RELEASES:

HOW MY BOOK CLUB GOT ARRESTED, the first in the Book Club Trilogy, to be released on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

DOG DRAMA, the sixth book in the Allie Babcock Series, to be released on Saturday, July 15, 2017.

The "itty bitty blog" will be renamed: "the book-club/dog blog" or "bc/d" blog for short. On or around June 15, I anticipate posting a list of my past book-club selections from the last couple of years.

I really, REALLY hope you'll consider replying with your book-club selections. We can all use more suggestions of books to read! And we dog lovers can all use more dog pictures to bring an "aw" into our day!

Leslie O'Kane