Category Archives: newspapering

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (review and giveaway)

Word Lily review

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (Dutton, April 14, 2011), 336 pages

Lincoln, thought by some to be a perpetual student, finally quit school (after several degrees) and moved back home. Now, he’s working at the newspaper, overseeing internet security and fixing printers when they need it. It’s not a great job; Lincoln’s working second shift, in a windowless office all alone. He can’t meet people, because he works when they’re awake. And he really doesn’t like snooping through private emails, but that’s what he’s paid to do.

Much of the book consists of email exchanges between two women, friends. Lincoln can’t bring himself to send them a warning, and he kind of feels like he’s become friends with them — even while feeling like a creep for reading their email.

In some ways, this is a coming of age novel. Although Lincoln’s not a teenager, when the book opens he doesn’t have a clear picture of who he is, and he’s lacking direction and motivation.

The Y2K scare and preparation aspect of the book (it’s set in 1999) is fun. I love the Omaha, Nebraska setting. I also loved being back in a newspaper office, talking about inky fingers, second shift, and copy-editing.

Overall, I found this book charming, and not entirely shallow. The book touches on themes of self-concept, esteem, ethics, fertility, and marriage.

Rating: 4 stars

About the author
Rainbow Rowell (Facebook @rainbowrowell), is a columnist for the Omaha World-Herald. She lives in Omaha with her family. She has a journalism degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Other reviews
Teresa’s Reading Corner
Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

Thanks to the publisher, one of you can win a copy of Attachments! (U.S. or Canada only.) To enter, leave a comment on this post. (One entry per person.) I’ll accept entries through Monday, May 2, 2011.

ETA: This giveaway is now closed. See who won.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.


TV news is dead

This Just In: Local Television News Gives Up the Ghost

By Hannah Nielsen
Staff Writer

Local television news is dead.

Several sources sounded the death knell Wednesday, with abundant supporting documentation, for the local evening news, as we know it.

“It’s no secret that there’s a tendency toward bad blood between newspapers and television news,” said Stephen Jackson, Times-Herald editor. “But that doesn’t diminish the facts. People have been saying ‘Print is dead,’ ‘Newspapers are dead,’ but here we still are, hanging on.”

Sources agree, the hurdles that have risen up against local television news include:

  • The rise of cable news networks
  • The quest to find news online
  • Other credible, inexpensive news sources are drying up.

“It’s simple. As budgets grow ever tighter, the competition has grown

stronger, viewers aren’t viewing, and each broadcast has begun to cost more money,” said Ms. X, a TV news insider who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Consumers want the news they really want immediately — online, or via text message to their phone,” said one pundit with a finger on his iPhone. “They’re selective about what they want delivered directly, but waiting until 5 or 10 p.m. and giving each story maybe 30 seconds is simply too little too late.”

But really, it comes down to this single point.

As newspapers die — and those that don’t die shrink to near oblivion — TV news’ cheapest source of news stories disappears.

“If they can’t quote the newspaper — always without citing it specifically, of course — well. Feet on the ground reporting takes a lot more time and effort,” said Suzy Smythe, Times-Herald reporter.

Film at 11.

* This article is a spoof. All quotes, names, and characters are fictional.

Listen by Rene Gutteridge

It’s Thursday of Rene Gutteridge Week! What’s been your favorite part so far? We’re not done yet, though; there’s more to come.

Rene Gutteridge Week 2011,

Word Lily review

Listen by Rene Gutteridge (Tyndale, January 2010), 432 pages

Marlo’s known as being a town where nothing bad (or newsworthy) ever happens. No one knows what to think or where to turn when a mysterious website starts publishing the private conversations of townspeople. People’s initial reactions are varied, but as hours turn into days, it becomes clear that the site could have serious consequences.

I really loved the different perspectives in this book — a couple teens, a newspaper reporter, a newspaper editor, a cop, a mom.

In some ways, this felt like an issue book — a book written to illuminate, explore, condemn, etc., a certain problem — rather than just a book. I tend to dislike stories written for the purpose of conveying a moral or message. But as time has passed since I read it, that impression, along with my irritation based on it, has faded. Instead, I’m left with the thought that this story is a somewhat new exploration of the power of words, both to hurt and to heal. What I remember in this case are the aspects I enjoyed: the characters, the emotions.

Gutteridge’s Occupational Hazard series is still my favorite of her work, but this isn’t at the bottom of the stack, either.


About the author
Rene Gutteridge (Facebook) is the author of 17 novels. On her blog she posted chapter-by-chapter discussions about Listen, as well as other content about the power of words.

Other reviews
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang

Word Lily review

Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang (The Great War Series, book 2) (Tyndale, August 4, 2010), 432 pages

Isa Lassone, a young Belgian-American socialite, sneaks into Brussels — after being whisked to the United States before the war started — to rescue those dearest to her, Edward and his mother. While there, though, she works to keep the underground newspaper running.

I was drawn to this book because of the underground newspaper. This was my first experience with Maureen Lang.

I kind of struggled with Whisper on the Wind. I generally like war stories, and I often love stories that revolve around newspapering.

Each chapter opens with a quote from the underground newspaper. I was disappointed to learn, though, that most of the quotes were fabricated rather than from the very real newspaper. Actually, I was hoping for a bit more use of actual history throughout the book. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with a book that’s mostly just set in a historical context but is actually all fictional. But since I knew this was at least partly based on a newspaper that actually existed, I expected a bit more fact with my fiction.

I was also disappointed that the story didn’t even touch on the newsgathering, writing, and editing aspects of the paper. Partly because of this, I felt the newspaper was mostly only a jumping off point for the story. The story followed these characters, who risked their lives for this product/cause, yes, but it was so much more about the characters than the product or cause. Perhaps this felt like a leap to me because I haven’t read book 1 in the series, Look to the East, but I doubt that’s why, since that appears to feature different characters.

This is historical fiction in the way that Julie Lessman’s Daughters of Boston series is historical fiction — it’s fiction, set in a historical time and place, but it’s mostly a romance. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this type of book, but it’s not what I generally prefer, and it’s not what I expected, either. Lessman’s books I still quite enjoyed, because of the characters. I didn’t appreciate this one as much.

The third book in this series is schedule for release in March 2011, Springtime of the Spirit.

About the author
Maureen Lang (blog) lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and their dog, Susie. She is the author of seven Christian fiction novels including this one.

Other reviews
Window to My World
Bookfoolery and Babble
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Interview with author River Jordan

I’m pleased, today, to welcome River Jordan to Word Lily! She is the author of The Miracle of Mercy Land [my review]

Author River Jordan

Word Lily: What makes you believe in the power of story?

River Jordan: My experience growing up for one thing. Story, the art of telling and of listening was a part of our everyday existence. I’m thankful for my Southern heritage in that respect because I’m not certain otherwise I would have had the same kind of pacing in both my life and in my novels. My faith as well. I’m a Christian and it really is a faith that has been built in many ways on the stories handed down for generations. We treasure those ancient stories. They mean a lot to us. For instance, if a character in the Bible builds an altar to remember something, we may draw on the story over and over again in our own lives to strengthen us in times of trouble.

Word Lily: You started your writing career as a playwright; how does your background writing for the stage inform your writing of novels? Of memoir?

River Jordan: I think I give more attention to the words characters speak, the rhythm of those words, how they fall and rise. The same is true in the memoir.

Word Lily: How crucial are the elements of magical realism in creating the stories you want to tell? In the sense of wonder they evoke?

River Jordan: It always shows up as crucial but it’s not because I plan it that way. It just does. I write with a lot of allegorical meaning so a mystical character in a story may actually be a representation of the things that we struggle with in our lives and that would be different things for different people. But I really do love the sense of wonder in the world. I watch the wind blow through the tops of the trees at our place in the woods and it’s as wonder-filled and mystical, magical if you will, as anything gets.

Word Lily: I read that you have a love for the newspaper business. How did that develop?

River Jordan: I think at an early age I might have developed a romance for the woman reporter. In an age such as Mercy Land’s in the novel, which is set in 1938, women weren’t always in the newsroom. A type of Lois Lane character here and there. Then I studied both print and broadcast journalism in school, received a small journalism scholarship to a community college, and had planned to pursue that. Then I took a playwriting class and although I wrote stories all my life, wanted to write a novel, somehow the theater captured me in such a way that I took a few steps away from journalism. I still love the romance of it though.

Word Lily: A couple more general questions now. Why do you write?

River Jordan: To survive. I jokingly tell people I get sick when I don’t write and by that I mean snappy, short — that kind of thing. And I really love being able to live what I call a thousand lifetimes in one life, to travel to new places, all without living the room. The Imagination is an incredible thing and being able to meet the characters in my stories and travel to where the stories are set, to live there for awhile, is amazing.

Word Lily: Thank you so much for your time! Anything else you want to say? Am I missing something?

River Jordan: Hannah, thank you so much for the opportunity to meet new readers and share my thoughts. I love your questions and appreciate your time.

About the author
River Jordan (@RealRiverJordan) teaches and speaks across the country on the power of story. She and her husband and their Great Pyrenees, Titan, live in Nashville. She began her writing career as a playwright and spent over 10 years with the Loblolly Theatre group, where her original works were produced, including Mama Jewels: Tales from Mullet Creek, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, and Virga.

Other interviews with River Jordan

Excerpt from 13 Questions/Harper San Francisco
Chapter 16
Christian Book
Novel Journey

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

The Miracle of Mercy Land: A Novel by River Jordan (WaterBrook, September 7, 2010), 352 pages

Mercy Land’s life is settled, and she’s content. She lives at Miss Perry’s boarding house, she’s Doc’s go-to girl at the Bay City newspaper (the Banner), and she visits her family every weekend on nearby Bittersweet Creek. She loves her job, as well as Bay City and her roots. She knows who she is. But then a very strange book shows up at the newspaper office in the middle of the night. The book reveals the lives of the people in Bay City.

I was really looking forward to this book, since I read River Jordan’s Saints in Limbo [my review] last year and fell in love. So, yes, my expectations going into The Miracle of Mercy Land were very high.

I’m happy to say those expectations were fully met! I loved this book. I can’t say at this point whether I loved this one or Saints in Limbo more.

The writing thrilled me, right from the beginning.

“The events that lay before us as a nation were a large, uncharted territory, watery in their shifting possibilities. The only thing certain was that the future would have to reveal itself in due time, and most likely it would be different from anything we had expected. In the meantime we went through our daily routine with a type of laughter we hoped would stave off impending enemies and allow our sacred routines to remain a part of our carefully plotted lives. For the moment the edges of our existence played out sweetly, simply, and untouched by the things we knew were happening beyond the borders of our existence. There was a whole ocean between us and trouble. It seemed like an ocean should be enough.”

~ page 3, The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan; emphasis added

The setting (coastal smalltown Alabama) is beautifully depicted; it lives. (Speaking of, this book is set in the 1930s, but for the most part the time period isn’t all that relevant.) The characters are flawed but clearly drawn and sympathetic. The story itself is grand. Is that high enough praise?

I will probably read every book Jordan writes.

Other than Saints in Limbo and The Miracle of Mercy Land (both published by WaterBrook), Jordan is also the author of:

About the author
River Jordan (@RealRiverJordan) teaches and speaks across the country on the power of story. She and her husband and their Great Pyrenees, Titan, live in Nashville. She began her writing career as a playwright and spent over 10 years with the Loblolly Theatre group, where her original works were produced, including Mama Jewels: Tales from Mullet Creek, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, and Virga.

I hope to have an interview with the author to post soon!

Other reviews
Reading to Know
Lighthouse Academy
2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan (Harper, March 30, 2010), 352 pages

31 Bond Street opens in 1857 New York City. Wealthy dentist Harvey Burdell is found brutally murdered, in his own home. Emma Cunningham, the widowed mother of two teenage daughters, is accused of the murder, but not before she’s trapped inside her home for weeks by officials with not-so-secret political ambitions. Henry Clinton puts his reputation and practice on the line to defend her.

Everything seemed aligned for me to absolutely love this book. A murder mystery, set in a historical framework, with racial, gender and socioeconomic issues in the fore. It touches on the impact of both the press and the law on peoples’ lives. What could be better?

The novel is a fictional account of an (apparently famous) actual murder trial, which is fun. I enjoyed the illustrations and snippets from newspapers that opened some chapters. Interestingly, my favorite characters were minor players.

I was a bit annoyed at how the narrative went back and forth in time. I had trouble keeping track of the chronology at times, although usually a nonlinear narrative isn’t a problem for me. It was incredibly slow getting around to the information that did, eventually, make me care deeply about this book. Still these are minor issues.

I found the setting absolutely engrossing, vividly drawn and fascinating. I love when that happens!

Bottom line: 31 Bond Street didn’t quite wow me, but I’ll definitely be looking forward to more from Horan. This was a fun, enjoyable read, a great story.

Read an excerpt.

There’s been talk of a movie based on the book — I think it would make a terrific film — and anyone who has read the book can enter the “Cast the Movie” Contest; the prize is handmade truffles from Bond Street Chocolates as well as a signed first edition of the book. The contest is open internationally; it closes August 31, 2010.

About the author
Ellen Horan previously worked as a freelance photo editor for magazines and books in New York City. She has a background in painting and visual art. 31 Bond Street is her first novel.

Check out the rest of the TLC Book Tour stops for 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan.

Other reviews
Devourer of Books
Bookin’ with Bingo
Killin’ Time Reading
The Book Book

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher, as part of the TLC book tour.

Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon

Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon (Harper Perennial, April 13, 2010), 208 pages

Austin Kleon picked up a marker and the New York Times and started creating poetry.

This is a really cool idea (although not unique to Kleon, as he points out in the book’s introduction). I love that he’s creating by subtracting (or destroying, as he said it), deconstructing another written work.

Some of the pieces seem totally meaningless to me, but others have real depth. I was drawn to this book because of the newspaper aspect, I think. I’m not a huge poetry aficionado.

The wrong punctuation in some of the poems really distracted me — why didn’t he black out that errant comma or hyphen? Such choices just made the piece(s) confusing and didn’t add anything.

The first section was my least favorite; I’m not sure if I just didn’t connect with the content or what. I call it a “section,” because, although the book isn’t divided into sections, it does seem to follow a sort of narrative. At first it felt that the poems were just presented in no particular order, but gradually a thread appeared. This may be one of my favorite aspects of the book.

I wanted some of the poems to be longer, to jump from one page to the next.

Some pieces I particularly liked:
• “On a Sunday,” page 67
• “In Cleveland, on My Deathbed,” page 71
• “The Pursuit of Landscaping,” page 83

• “His Wife Appears,” page 137

The book also includes a tutorial on creating your own blackout poems.

In some ways, I might prefer a daily or weekly dose of such poems (such as, via Kleon’s blog) to the book (that I read straight through, pretty quickly), but really, a daily dose and the book are two separate animals.

About the author
Austin Kleon is, in his own words, “a writer, cartoonist, designer, and visual thinker obsessed with the art of communicating with pictures and words, together.” He’s @austinkleon on Twitter.

Other reviews
She Is Too Fond of Books
Classic Vasilly: 1330V

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher.