Daily Archives: May 27, 2013

2013 Armchair BEA – Introductions and Classics

armchairbea2Welcome to Day #1 of the Armchair BEA!

Today marks the beginning of an exciting week here on the Internet and in New York City where the BEA is in full swing. For those of us who are not able to be in New York this week, we are very thankful to the good people over at The Armchair BEA who provide an amazing “experience for book bloggers to participate in Book Expo America (BEA) from the comfort of their homes.” In the next few days, book bloggers will be sharing their thoughts on blogging, ethics, friendships, and (of course) books! To see the full schedule, visit this post.

I plan on participating each day of this special event (including the book giveaway day which happens May 30th). Today’s topic is two-fold: and introduction to me and my blog, and my thoughts about the Classics.


Bloggers have been asked to consider and answer up to five questions which will help readers to their blog to better understand who they are. I’ve chosen to answer three.

  • Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

wendybousarMost people who first come to my blog are confused by the name. Why Caribousmom? Well, Caribou was my search and rescue dog and my very special friend. In many ways, she was a huge inspiration to me and taught me many lessons about life. She loved life and lived it to its fullest and she reminded me daily to be happy in the moment and appreciate the little things. So this blog is, in may ways, a tribute to the lessons she taught me. I lost Caribou more than four years ago, but she continues to inspire me. To read more about my beautiful girl, visit the page dedicated to her.

I have been blogging now since February of 2005, but I changed the course of the blog in 2007 and began to focus mostly on literature at that time. It is a long time to maintain a blog these days, but I can truly say I have enjoyed my little space in blogland and (at this time) I have no plans to dismantle my blog. What I have done over the years is to adapt my blog to my life and my changing interests while still keeping it mostly focused on reading and books.

I am a dedicated quilter – and so readers to my blog will see my creative work in that arena. I am also an animal lover, an appreciator of nature, a wanna-be world traveler, a partner to my wonderful husband, a mommy to my fur children, and a physical therapist who has been touching other peoples’ lives through my work for the last 24 years. All of these passions show up from time to time here on my blog. I hope if you are a regular reader of my blog, you appreciate the eclectic feel of my posts. And if you are new here – I hope you’ll want to come back!

  • Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.

I live in Northern California among tall pine and cedar trees where red-tail hawks soar in the skies, and mountain lions and bears pass through the forests. To the west lies the powerful Sacramento River, and to the east are the white-capped mountains that pierce the sky above Lassen National Volcanic Park. To the North is the spectacular Mt. Shasta and lavender fields which provide a splash of color in the high desert. In the winter, the trees are burdened with snow creating a little piece of paradise. In the spring, I wake up in the mornings to clear mountain air and the song of birds and I truly love the beauty of this area. Our area offers amazing hikes, great fishing, annual rodeos, beautiful farmland, clear mountain streams, and immense mountains. Here are some photos of where I live (click on any photo to enjoy a larger view):

Mt.Shasta030001 MamaDeer.Baby0001 P&W.SundialBridge LavenderFarm.WP012009-07-02 ShastaCaverns02(creditA)2009-06-30 RR2008.Bronco.small0001 DogCreek.SacRiver2010-04-14

  • What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?

My current read is:


River of Dust by Virginia Pye (Unbridled Books, May 2013)

I have read some great books so far in 2013 and so choosing a favorite is a challenge. I’ve chosen three books which are in the running for “best book” (click on book graphic to read my review):

Constellation MountainsEchoed WhiteDogFell

Classic Literature

What defines classic literature? Here is one definition:

  • A classic usually expresses some artistic quality–an expression of life, truth, and beauty.
  • A classic stands the test of time. The work is usually considered to be a representation of the period in which it was written; and the work merits lasting recognition. In other words, if the book was published in the recent past, the work is not a classic.
  • A classic has a certain universal appeal. Great works of literature touch us to our very core beings–partly because they integrate themes that are understood by readers from a wide range of backgrounds and levels of experience. Themes of love, hate, death, life, and faith touch upon some of our most basic emotional responses.
  • A classic makes connections. You can study a classic and discover influences from other writers and other great works of literature. Of course, this is partly related to the universal appeal of a classic. But, the classic also is informed by the history of ideas and literature–whether unconsciously or specifically worked into the plot of the text.

Although I read far less classic literature than I think I should, I have managed to read some amazing books in this genre. Some of my favorite classic authors are John Steinbeck, Wallace Stegner, Daphne Du Maurier, and Edith Wharton. If you are new to reading the classics, I would recommend starting with any of the following:

rebecca AngleOfRepose GrapesOfWrath EastofEden Ethan Frome

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (read my review)
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (read my review)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (read my review)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (read my review)
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (read my review)

A terrific resource for classics is The Classic Club.

What are your favorite classics?

Mailbox Monday – May 27, 2013

MailboxSpringWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Abi at For the Love of Books this month. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

This week I received an amazing array of fabulous books:

RiverofNoReturnThe fantastic people from Penguin sent me a finished edition of The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway (May 2013). Isn’t that a great cover? This is a debut novel which has been getting five star reviews all over the place. The publisher writes: “If you loved The Night Circus or The Snow Child then prepare to be swept away by this stunning debut novel…” The book is an hisotrical adventure story about forbidden love that begins in 1812 on a battlefield in Spain when twenty-two year old Lord Nicholas Falcott is about to die…but then inexplicably finds himself leaping forward in time nearly two hundred years. He has been saved by a mysterious organization called The Guild. As Nicholas rebuilds his life in the twenty-first century, he one day receives a summons from The Guild…he is to return to his previous time on to confront his past. Back in 1815, Julia Percy is the keeper of her late grandfather’s closely guarded secret about the manipulation of time. When she and Nicholas are drawn to each other, they face danger from unknown enemies, and Julia begins to understand her grandfather’s last, ominous words…’Pretend.’ Doesn’t that sound great?

Bee Ridgway was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts and attended Oberlin College before going to work for Elle Magazine. She later attended Cornell for a doctoral degree in English Literature and eventually taught American Literature at Bryn Mawr. She lives with her partner in Philadelphia. The River of No Return is her first novel. Learn more about Ridgway and her work by visiting the author’s website.

IsThisTomorrowI won a copy of Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin Books, May 2013) through the Library Thing Early Review Program. The year is 1956 and Ava Lark rents a house with her twelve year old son, Lewis, in a Boston suburb. Ava is beautiful, divorced and Jewish, as well as a working mother – and she is ostracized by her neighbors. Lewis misses his father, but makes friends with two other fatherless children: Rose and Jimmy. When Jimmy goes missing, the neighborhood seizes on the opportunity to further alienate Ava and Lewis. Years later, Lewis and Ava reunite to finally untangle the mystery behind those tragic days and they must decide: Should you tell the truth even if it hurts those you love, or should some secrets remained buried? Leavitt’s latest novel is getting rave reviews and being described as richly layered, an intimate meditation, and masterful.

Caroline Leavitt is the prize-winning author of Girls In Trouble, Coming Back To Me, Living Other Lives, Into Thin Air, Family, Jealousies, Lifelines, Meeting Rozzy Halfway and Pictures of You. Pictures of You was a New York Times bestseller, a Costco “Pennie’s Pick,” A San Francisco Chronicle Editor’s Choice “Lit Pick,” and also on the Best Books of 2011 lists from The San Francisco Chronicle, The Providence Journal, Bookmarks Magazine and Kirkus Reviews. The recipient of a 1990 New York Foundation of the Arts Award for Fiction for Into Thin Air, she was also a National Magazine Award nominee for personal essay, and she was awarded a 2005 honorable mention, Goldenberg Prize for Fiction from the Bellevue Literary Review, for “Breathe,” a portion of Pictures of You. She teaches novel writing online at both Stanford University and UCLA, as well as working with writers privately. She lives in New Jersey. Learn more about Leavitt and her work by visiting the author’s website.

William Morrow (an imprint of Harper Collins) sent me two great books due out in September 2013:

AfterHerAfter Her by Joyce Maynard is described as a “haunting novel of sisterhood, sacrifice, and suspense.” Based loosely on the events surround Marin County, California’s Trailside murders, After You begins in 1979 and centers around two sister, Rachel and Patty, whose father is a detective. When the bodies of young women begin turning up on the trails of the mountain they love, the girls’ father is put in charge of the investigation. But when the case is not solved, Rachel makes a decision to use herself as “bait” to help her father solve the crimes – but instead of vindicating her father, Rachel’s actions destroy his career and alter the lives of everyone she loves. Thirty years later, still hoping to uncover the identity of the killer, Rachel discovers evidence which points to the perpetrator, but also unearths a long-buried family secret.

Joyce Maynard  first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story, “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life”, in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale.  Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist, a regular contributor to NPR and national magazines including Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, MORE, Salon, and many more.  Her essays have been widely published in collections, and featured in The New York Times. She is the author of fourteen books. Her novel, Labor Day, is currently being developed as a motion picture to be adapted and directed by Jason Reitman. Maynard has taught at writing programs around the country, and runs workshops in both fiction and memoir at her home in Mill Valley, California. She also runs workshops at other sites in the US and internationally, including the Lake Atitlan Writing Workshop in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala, which she founded in 2002. Learn more about Maynard and her work by visiting the author’s website.

HelpForThe HauntedHelp for the Haunted by John Searles begins with a call in the middle of a February night. Sylivie Mason’s parents are known for helping “haunted souls” find peace, and when they take Sylvie out to a church on the outskirts of town that snowy winter night, they leave her in the car and disappear into the church. Later, Sylvie wakens to the sound of gunfire. A year later, Sylvie is struggling to come to terms with what happened that night. Moving back and forth in time, Sylvie pursues the mystery and in the process uncovers secrets which have haunted her family for years. Described as “capturing the vivid eeriness of Stephen King’s works with the compelling quirkiness of John Irving’s beloved novels,Help for the Haunted promises a captivating journey told in the resonant voice of a young heroine.

John Searles is the author of the national bestsellers Boy Still Missing and Strange But True. He appears regularly as a book critic on NBC’s Today show. He is the editor-at-large of Cosmopolitan. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other national newspapers and magazines. He lives in New York City.

SaveYourselfFinally, Crown Publishing sent me an Advance Readers Edition of Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet (August 2013). Book description from the publisher:

Patrick Cusimano is in a bad way. His father is in jail; he works the midnight shift at a grubby convenience store; and his brother’s girlfriend, Caro, has taken their friendship to an uncomfortable new level.  On top of all that, he can’t quite shake the attentions of Layla Elshere, a goth teenager who befriends Patrick for reasons he doesn’t understand, and doesn’t fully trust. The temptations these two women offer are pushing Patrick to his breaking point. Meanwhile, Layla’s little sister, Verna, is suffering through her first year of high school.  She’s become a prime target for her cruel classmates, not just because of her strange name and her fundamentalist parents: Layla’s bad-girl rep proves to be too a huge shadow for Verna, so she falls in with her sister’s circle of outcasts and misfits whose world is far darker than she ever imagined. Kelly Braffet’s characters, indelibly portrayed and richly varied, are all on their own twisted path to finding peace.  The result is a novel of unnerving powerdarkly compelling, addictively written, and shockingly honest.

Kelly Braffet is the author of Josie and Jack and Last Seen Leaving. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University, where she received her MFA. Kelly lives in upstate New York with her husband, the writer Owen King. Learn more about Braffet and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR home this week?