Friday, June 28, 2013

Chicago

I'm in Chicago for the American Library Association Conference. I'll post when I can. For today, just a picture I took of the Chicago skyline.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

If you grew up with the space program, watching astronauts go to space, you may know the names of so many of the astronauts from the early programs, particularly the Mercury Seven; Scott Carpenter, "Gordo" Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton. Then, there's Neil Armstrong, Frank Borman, Pete Conrad, and Jim Lovell, some of the astronauts from Gemini and Apollo. Yes, we know the names of many of the astronauts. Now, Lily Koppel introduces us to the wives of all the astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs in the fascinating book,  The Astronaut Wives Club. Many of the wives cooperated with the author so she could finally tell their story.

From the moment the Mercury Seven astronauts were announced, their families became the center of attention. Women, most of whom had been military wives, then wives of test pilots, were now in the spotlight of the media. Life magazine had the contract to cover their family lives. While NASA and Life portrayed the perfect family life, and perfect middle-class wives, they were women who kept families together while their husbands were absent, living dangerous lives, sometimes cheating on them. But, the spotlight shone brightly, and the wives were hosted at the White House by JFK and Jackie Kennedy. Koppel takes us inside the astronauts' homes, where it wasn't always so glamorous, and where the wives fearfully waited for their husbands to return.

Koppel says, "Ultimately, the wives' story is about female friendships and American identity....If not for the wives, the strong women in the background who provided essential support to their husbands, man might never have walked on the Moon."

The Astronaut Wives Club is a fascinating account of women who supported their husbands in a dangerous profession, and found support in each other. Lily Koppel finally focuses on the women who, until now, were best known from their profiles in Life, the women behind America's space heroes. It's time the women had their own story, thanks to Koppel.

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel. Grand Central Publishing. 2013. ISBN 9781455503254 (hardcover), 272p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book






Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

My mother still reminds me that I always wished I could be locked in the library when I was a kid. No place had more magic. Chris Grabenstein captures all of that magic of a library, along with the fun of game playing, as he pits twelve-year-olds against each other in his own reality show, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

Kyle Keeley never thought he'd be the star of anything. As the youngest of three brothers, he wasn't the jock or the smart one. He was the one who was always in trouble, but he loved games, particularly the ones created by a former resident of Kyle's Alexandriaville, Ohio hometown, Mr. Lemoncello. And, as a goof-off, he wasn't interested in an essay contest at school until he learned the winners could get to spend the night in the new library before anyone else could get in. And, Mr. Lemoncello gave the money for the library, a building it took five years to build to his specifications.

A dozen twelve-year-olds are selected to compete for a special prize after they win the essay contest, and spend the night in the library. Kyle, who loves games, quickly realizes the fun of the competition. But, he's pitted against a wealthy boy determined to win no matter what the cost. And, it's going to take some knowledge of libraries, books, and some street smarts to win the game by finding the way out of the library.

Mr. Lenoncello's library is a gift to his hometown. The old library was destroyed twelve years earlier, knocked down to build a parking garage at a time when people thought they didn't need libraries. "These twelve children have lived their entire lives without a public library. As a result, they have no idea how extraordinarily useful, helpful, and funful...a library can be. This is their chance to discover that a library is more than a collection of dusty old books. It is a place to learn, explore, and grow!"

Chris Grabenstein's book, designed for eight to twelve-year-olds, is a little Charlie and the Chocolate Factory mixed with reality show competitions and literary trivia. It's a love letter to libraries, but it's not a boring book that will turn kids off. It's fun, competitive, and filled with adventure. And, if I was a kid, I wouldn't really want to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

Chris Grabenstein's website is www.chrisgrabenstein.com

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. Random House. 2013. ISBN 9780375870897 (hardcover), 304p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

July Mysteries from Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime & Obsidian

Josh showed up to be a featured player in this month's book chat. So, enjoy the chat with eleven books from Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime and Obsidian, along with a few cat antics.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Time Flies by Claire Cook

Once again, Claire Cook examines a woman's heart in Time Flies. Don't expect a lot of a action in a Claire
Cook novel. Instead, pick it up when you want a little laughter, some self-examination, friendship. Cook acknowledges women's fears, and pokes the balloon of fear as it grows larger and larger. And, there's an explosion of recognition when reading one of her books. Cook knows the way to a middle-aged reader's soul, whether it's music, family, or a road trip and shared secrets with a best friend.

Melanie had two young boys when she reluctantly followed her husband Kurt from home in Massachusetts to an Atlanta suburb. After too many years of marriage, Kurt left her for a "Chrissy". And, Melanie responds in typical Melanie fashion. "When my cell phone rang, I'd just finished cutting up my marriage mattress." As a metal sculptor, Melanie knew her way around tools. In fact, she took up welding as a rebellious gesture when they moved to Atlanta, and she found her artistic soul. Years of marriage to Kurt might have destroyed her confidence, but not her happiness with her art.

When Melanie's best friend B.J. calls, inviting her to the class reunion. Melanie is reluctant to head to Massachusetts. But, B.J. pushes her, telling her it's time to move on, to let the past go. When "You get to our place in life...you're supposed to be able to relax and enjoy and do exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it. Where is our chance to be selfish again?"

In a novel filled with music of the seventies, and a time-warp for those of us in high school in those years, Cook takes Melanie home, to the place she thought of as home. But, she can't let go of her fears, and she keeps her phobia about driving on the highway from her best friend, even when B.J. is forced to disclose her own fear. But, somewhere on that highway might be the adventure of her life, if Melanie can just get there.

Kudos to Claire Cook for knowing a woman's heart, and the fear that sometimes resides there when forced to start over. Being alone isn't for sissies, and it often takes the women in our lives; friends, mothers, sisters, to help us through. Melanie knows that highway has possibilities, if she can just force herself to get out there. Or, as my mother told me, "The second half can be just as good as the first, different, but in it's own way, just as good." Time Flies is Claire Cook's acknowledgement that time moves on, and women need to do the same.

Claire Cook's website is www.ClaireCook.com

Time Flies by Claire Cook. Touchstone. 2013. ISBN 9781451673678 (hardcover), 303p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, June 22, 2013

What are you reading?

First, business. Congratulations to the winners of the strong women giveaway. Nancy H. of Deephaven, MN won Kathryn O'Sullivan's debut mystery, Foal Play.Carolyn Haines' Smarty Bones will go to Ginny T. of Spotsylvania, VA. I'm mailing the books today. Just a reminder, though. Since I won't be home next weekend, there won't be a giveaway for a couple weeks.

That doesn't mean we can't talk about books, though. And, I will be home today to respond. What are you reading? I've just started Claire Cook's Time Flies. So far, it's a fun book, and I have the feeling it's only going to get better. Just check out that cover illustration. Doesn't that say road trip to you? I love road trips. But, Melanie, the narrator, is going through a highway crisis. It all started when her husband of many years left her for another woman. Now, she's afraid to hit the road for her high school reunion. But, best friends do come through.

Are you reading a road trip novel with best friends? A mystery? Something else that grabbed your attention? Would you share and tell us what you're reading?

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is magical, a fairy tale telling a story as old as the
world. And, if the fairy tale has elements of horror in it, that's no surprise. So many of the old fairy tales are terrifying - witches eating children, parents dying. Gaiman's fairy tale is set in the traditional mode.

The unnamed narrator is a man who returns to his childhood home in Sussex, this time for a funeral. And, when he's feeling a little lost, he wanders down the lane near his home, looking for the Hempstocks, the three women who lived there. Lettie Hempstock, his childhood friend, once convinced him the pond there was the ocean. It was part of a larger horror story.

The narrator's family, once wealthy, was forced to take in boarders. When one of those boarders committed suicide at the bottom of the lane, unexpected horrors were released. After seeing the body, the seven-year-old boy was picked up by eleven-year-old Lettie, and taken to her house, where the food was wonderful, and the boy, always fearful and a loner, finally felt safe. And, the Hempstocks would fight to keep him safe as dangers threatened him and the world.

To reveal more would be to spoil Gaiman's story. It's the story of a young boy, scared of the world. Did the events of his childhood really happen, or are they part of his imagination?  Instead of discussing more of the story, I'll take about the narrator as reader. And any reader who was a loner, or lonely at times, will fall for the young narrator. He was a boy who said, "I was not afraid of anything when I read my book."  There's a reason Gaiman's story feels like a timeless myth. "I liked myths. They weren't adult stories and they weren't children's stories. They were better than that. They just were."

Then, there's the summary of life for every reader. "I went away into my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible." And Gaiman takes his narrator into a world that is too hard, too hard to accept and believe. Is is real or imaginary? Is it a myth? It's all about The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Neil Gaiman's website is www.neilgaiman.com

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. William Morrow. 2013. ISBN 9780062255655 (hardcover), 181p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Random House Previews

The box that came in the mail yesterday was too good not to share. It was sixteen books from Random House, all books coming out this fall. And, some of them sound perfect for book groups.

These are in no particular order.

Susan Gregg Gilmore brings us The Funeral Dress in September. Emmalee Bullard and her new baby
are on their own, at least she thinks so until Leona Lane, a seamstress who worked next to Emmalee offered her a place to live. When Leona dies tragically, the grief-stricken Emmalee decides to make her friend's burying dress. As she sews, she finds unlikely support from a group of seamstresses and the local funeral director. In a story exploring Southern spirit and camaraderie among working women, a young mother will compel a town to become a community.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is "A Memoir of Food and Longing" by Anya Von Bremzen. The celebrated food writer captures the flavors of the Soviet experience in a multigenerational memoir. Anya and her mother decided to cook their way through seven decades of the Soviet experience in order to make sense of the past. Look for it in September.

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead is also nonfiction. Mead was a young woman in England when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch. It's a book that combines biography, reporting, and memoir to reveal the life the book made for Mead, as well as the many lives of the novel itself. This one comes out in January.

Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank, writes about another woman who loved a historic figure in Under the Wide and Starry Sky. This one tells the passionate story of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny. It's a story that spans decades and the globe. It's also published in January.

The Commissario Michele Balistreri trilogy launches in February with the thriller The Deliverance of Evil by Roberto Costantini. After he fails to solve the murder of a young woman in 1982 when Italy was celebrating its World Cup victory, the hard-drinking Commissario grew a little wiser, a little less fearless, and a little more damaged. By 2006, when Italy is once again on the brink of a World Cup victory, he's losing a battle against his personal demons. But, the suicide of the young woman's mother sets him back on the hunt for a killer.

Jamie Ford sets his novel, Songs of Willow Frost, against the backdrop of Seattle during the Great Depression. William Eng, A Chinese American orphan, sees a movie featuring an actress who goes by the name of Willow Frost. William is convinced Willow is his mother, whom he hasn't seen in years. He's determined to find Willow, so he searches throughout Depression-era Seattle to confront the secrets of his past. However, Willow's story is far more complicated than the young man believes. Jamie Ford's book will be released in September.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri is another September novel. Two brothers are inseparable as children. While the younger brother supports a rebellion in India in the late 1960s, the older brother leaves for America. But, when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in India's lowland, he returns home to pick up the pieces of a shattered family and heal the wounds his brother left behind.

Lahiri is a Pulitzer Prize winner, as is the next author, Sheri Fink. Five Days at Memorial is the
culmination of six years of reporting, investigating patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The suspense-filled portrayal of the quest for truth and justice comes out in September.

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre is translated from the French. Alex Prevost has been kidnapped, savagely beaten, and suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse. To find her, Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven, must first understand her. As he uncovers her story, he comes to realize Alex is not an ordinary victim. She's tough and resourceful, and the Commandant faces more than just saving her life. It's another September release.

P.D. Viner's The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a debut thriller. When college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered, it destroyed her parents' marriage. Twenty years later, when Dani's childhood sweetheart, now a detective, thinks he might be able to close the case, Dani's mother is once again obsessed. She'll do anything for revenge, even if it means dragging her whole family back into the nightmare. Look for this thriller in October.

The Crooked Mirror by Louise Steinman is a memoir of Polish-Jewish reconciliation. Through the lens of her own family's history, Steinman sets out to examine the Polish-Jewish reconciliation movement taking place in Poland today. It comes out in November.

Rhidian Brook's The Aftermath is a novel set in Germany during the tumultuous year following the end of World War II, the profoundly moving story of two families, one house, and love grown from hate. In Hamburg, 1946, Colonel Lewis Morgan is charged with overseeing the rebuilding of the devastated city and the de-Nazification of its defeated people, is stationed in a grand house. While waiting for his wife and only surviving son, he refuses to force the owners out of their house. His insistence that the two families live together forces everyone to confront their true selves. The Aftermath is released in September.

Koren Zailckas' Mother, Mother is a debut novel coming out in September.It's the shattering story of a mother's love gone too far. When Josephine Hurst's oldest daughter runs off, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning the home into a darker sort of prison. And, when a violent incident leads to a visit from child-protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed. This one is also a September publication.

Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem follows three generations of American radicals. At the center of the story are two women. Roze Zimmer is nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, a Communist who terrorizes her neighborhood with her tyranny. Her daughter, Miriam, is equally passionate, but makes her own life in Greenwich Village. It's a story that moves through the '30s, McCarthyism, the civil rights movement, '70s communes, the Sandinistas, up to the Occupy movement. Again, it's due out in September.

In The Color Master, Aimee Bender, the bestselling author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, brings readers a collection of stories; dreamy, strange, and magical stories. Look for it in September.

Canadian author Dennis Bock's latest novel is Going Home Again. Charlie Bellerose leads a semi-nomadic existence, traveling widely to manage the language academies he has established in different countries. After separating, he manages to make a fresh start. Then, two tragic events force him to take stock of the shape his life has taken, and reevaluate his priorities to decide what his responsibilities truly are. This one is released in August.

I'm sure you'll see these titles again in Treasures in My Closet posts. However, it never hurts to talk about interesting books. Anything here that appeals to you?
















Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Moving Miss Peggy by Robert Benson

One of the books I brought back from BEA is Robert Benson's beautiful book, Moving Miss Peggy.
Subtitled "A Story of Dementia, Courage, and Consolation", it's the account of Benson's family coming together when they realized Benson's mother had dementia.

In a moving story full of love and poetic phrasing, Benson describes his mother's life. She was a strong woman who lived through rough times, was widowed early, knew loss of those she loved, including one of her children. When Miss Peggy's children realized she was starting on a downward slope, they came together to discuss her future and long-term care. And, they started early enough that Miss Peggy could help with those decisions. Benson says, "It is the story of the beginning of the end of her life."

And, the lessons of Miss Peggy's life were lessons for her entire family, beginning with her children. "While we were moving Miss Peggy, we learned some new lessons about the woman we love. We learned things about how to care for her in this new world, how to face the dark of the future, and how to fall in love again with our family as we began this new and difficult journey."

Benson includes the practical lessons they learned along the way. But, the beauty of the book actually comes from the love he shares in this book, love of his mother, and family love. As he writes about the process of decision making, he takes readers along with him.

Don't hesitate to pick up Moving Miss Peggy. It's not a depressing story of a woman with dementia. It's the story of a family coming together in love to make the best decisions they can for the woman they love. Robert Benson succeeds in sharing that love in every page of this moving account.

Robert Benson's website is http://www.robertbensonwriter.com

Moving Miss Peggy by Robert Benson. Abingdon Press. 2013. ISBN 9781426749575 (hardcover), 163p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The book was handed out at BEA.




Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Arrivals

Time to do a few new arrivals. While I was gone for a few days, eleven books showed up in my mailbox. I'll share titles because you might want to look for some of these now or in the future. No special order, just from the TBR pile.

Do you miss Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee mysteries? His daughter, Anne Hillerman, picks up where he left off with Spider Woman's Daughter, a new book in the series. And, Navajo Nation police officer Bernadette Manualito is a witness to a shooting. Look for it in October.

Ann Patchett's This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is nonfiction. She charts her life, from childhood, through an unhappy marriage, and a later happy one. The collection focuses on moments that shaped her as a daughter, wife, writer, and friend. It's released in November.

Chuck Greaves follows up Hush Money with Green-Eyed Lady. Jack MacTaggart, a wisecracking legal ace is hired to help a U.S. Senatorial candidate who was arrested on burglary charges after a chivalrous act. It's a madcap plot with a man whose motto is "Trust me. I'm a lawyer." It's out next week.

Captain Alexei Dmitriyevich Korolev of the Moscow Militia returns in William Ryan's The Twelfth Department. In 1937, Stalin's security chiefs frequently find themselves sent to Siberia. Captain Korolev is actually happy until he's assigned to a case so sensitive that it threatens his job and his family. Watch for this one in July.

The Last Kind Word by David Housewright is already out. Why would a millionaire retired police officer agree to infiltrate a Minnesota gang, throwing himself directly into harm's way? Alex McKenzie asks himself that same question when he agrees to help the ATF and ends up playing teacher to a group of amateur criminals.

"How do writers and painters get their ideas? And what are the hard realities of such seemingly glamorous and romantic lives?" In The Fountain of St. James Court or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman, author Sena Jeter Naslund explores the transformative power of art, history, and love in the lives of creative women. Watch for this one in September.

Daniel Silva's The Fallen Angel is now out in trade paperback. After Gabriel Allon barely surivved his last operation, he takes refuge restoring a masterpiece at the Vatican. But, a murder in St. Peter's Basilica threatens the Church with another scandal. And, Gabriel is tasked with finding a killer, with a difficult warning. "Don't ask too many questions."

The Sleeping and the Dead is Jeff Crook's first mystery. Jackie Lyons, a former vice detective with the
Memphis Police Department, is trying to put her life back together after her husband files divorce papers. She's broke, needs a place to live after a fire in her apartment. She has lots of problems, including the fact that she sees ghosts. She's been making ends meet by photographing crime scenes, but her new camera captures images of ghosts. It's out next week.

Next month, the second book in Robyn Carr's Thunder Point series is released. The Newcomer brings a couple women to town, women who have surprises for a couple residents. An ex-wife shows up bringing drama to a loving relationship, and an old girlfriend asks a man to visit her when she's dying. Thunder Point is  a little town on the Oregon coast filled with love and the dramas of everyday life.

Alex Bledsoe's Wisp of a Thing is set in the dark valleys and hollows of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Musician Rob Quillen comes to Cloud County after losing his fiancee in a plane crash. A mysterious man told him the Tufa, a mysterious group of mountain people, have a song that will mend his broken heart. Rob will do anything to find it.

Blood Tango by Annamaria Alfieri takes readers into a page-turning murder mystery set against the events of 1945 Buenos Aires, illuminating how Evita Peron rose from abject poverty to become one of the most powerful women in the world. If interested, look for it next week.

Most of these books should be available at your local public library. I hope there are a couple here you want to read.

















Monday, June 17, 2013

Off to See the Wizard

No "real" blog today. I was in Ohio this weekend with family, a graduation party, and just visiting. And, last night, my sister and I went to see "Wicked". I don't know how many of you remember John Davidson, but he was the Wizard.



Clifton Davis was in it as well. Actually, it was a much stronger cast than the first time I saw it in Phoenix.

Fun weekend. Now, back to work tomorrow, and back with a little more of a blog, too.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Smart Women Giveaway

This week, I'm giving away two mysteries featuring smart women. In fact, Carolyn Haines' mystery even indicates that.

You could win a copy of Haines' Smarty Bones, the latest in the Sarah Booth Delaney series. Professor Olive Twist's research into the identity of a corpse in Zinnia, Mississippi stirs up trouble and threatens the elite Zinnia families with scandal. So, the society ladies call on the private investigative services of Sarah Booth Delaney. Sarah can't stop a murderer, but she can find out the truth about the new killer and the secrets from the past.





Foal Play is the debut mystery from Kathryn O'Sullivan, the book that won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. It's a story that introduces Fire Chief Colleen McCabe, who usually only has to deal with her firefighters, a few troublesome people, and rounding up the wild mustangs of North Carolina's Outer Banks. But, two deaths, one in a house fire, find her stirring up trouble on her own.

Which book would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your entry should read either "Win Smarty Bones" or "Win Foal Play." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only please.

The contest will end on Friday, June 21 at 6 PM CT.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

What are you Reading?

I have a family weekend, spending it with Mom, my sisters, and their families. There's a high school graduation party, strawberries and homemade shortcake, and attending "Wicked" this weekend. However, I'd still love to know what you're reading.

I'm just starting Susan C. Shea's latest Dani O'Rourke mystery, The King's Jar. The King's Jar, a priceless
African artifact, was authenticated by a renowned archaeologist and acquired by the prestigious San Francisco Devor Museum of Art and Artifacts. Dani O'Rourke is the Devor's chief fundraiser, so the death of the archaeologist and the disappearance of the artifact means all of her skills are called on. She's diplomatic, discreet, and passionate about her work. Right now, that means finding the killer and the missing artifact.

So, what are you reading this weekend, or you enjoying beautiful summer weather in another way?

Friday, June 14, 2013

New Harmony, Indiana

I was at a retreat in New Harmony, Indiana this week. Let me just say, after working in libraries for forty years, and attending all kinds of retreats and government workshops, I was impressed with Leadership Evansville. It was the best I've been to in all those years, mainly because the leader, Lynn Miller-Pease, is one of the kindest people I've ever met.

But, the post isn't about Leadership Evansville. It's about New Harmony. What a contrast! One week in New York City, the next in New Harmony. I wish I'd taken my camera to take pictures of the town during the retreat. I had some time early mornings to walk around. And, I would have loved to have shown you pictures inside New Harmony Inn - just so cute with the pine furniture.

I did drive over to see the town the day before, and find my way to Barn Abbey where Leadership Evansville was held. So, my pictures are from last Sunday. Enjoy! It's a quiet, peaceful small town, and I can't wait to go with my Mom or sisters.

Barn Abbey

Barn Abbey, Site of Leadership Evansville
Sculpture behind Barn Abbey

Sign in front of The Roofless Church
At the Roofless Church

Parishioner in a pew at the Roofless Church

Give me a big city any day for a a vacation. But, I'm going back to New Harmony. I've never been to such a calm, peaceful place in my life. It's just beautiful.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Retreat

I'm in New Harmony, Indiana, on a Leadership retreat while friends take care of the cats and home. And, the Internet connectivity is not great. So, there probably will not be a proper blog until Friday. I'm sorry.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Cookbook Conspiracy by Kate Carlisle

Kate Carlisle's latest bibliophile mystery combines two elements that are favorites of mystery readers, books and food. A Cookbook Conspiracy, centered around a two hundred year old cookbook, is another outstanding mystery in this series.

Bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright is as obsessed with great food as she is with old books. When her sister Savannah, the one who is a chef, asks her to restore a handwritten book, The Cookbook of Obedience Green, she's enthralled with the book. She's not as happy that Savannah is planning to give the book to Baxter Cromwell. Cromwell might be a world-renowned chef who is opening a new restaurant in San Francisco. He's also Savannah's ex-boyfriend, a scum who tried to force himself on Brooklyn years earlier in Paris. As much as Brooklyn hates to see the book go to Baxter, she can't turn down a request from her sister.

Savannah did sweeten the deal. Baxter is holding a grand opening, and each night a different chef is invited to cook. Brooklyn and her boyfriend, Derek Stone, of Stone Security, are invited to dine the night that Savannah is cooking her vegetarian specialties. It's a wonderful night, a celebration of good food and reuniting with old friends. Some of those old friends are not happy with Baxter's bow to the diners, and someone isn't happy when Savannah presents him with the cookbook. So, which old friend is responsible for Baxter's death? Brooklyn refuses to believe it's her sister, even though Savannah was found kneeling over the body, with a bloody knife in her hands.

Brooklyn Wainwright is the perfect amateur sleuth."Let's face it - I was nosy. But why not? Thsi was my sister's life on the line, and I was willing to do what I had to do to protect her." Time after time, Brooklyn has  been involved in murder cases. However, unlike many other amateur sleuths, Brooklyn also becomes involved in these cases because of her deep feelings for the victims. It's something her hippie mother knows, and her parents' guru understands. She apologizes for complaining that she's always finding bodies. "I'm not the one who's hurting. It's the victims and those who love them. I think about the people who've suffered so much at the hands of some vicious killer. It's horrifying. And their poor families and friends will suffer forever. They'll never see their loved ones again, but they'll relive those painful moments over and over. That makes me angry. That's what hurts most. That's what I can't reconcile. It's so unfair."

Murder is unfair to the dead and living. And, Kate Carlisle's Brooklyn Wainwright acknowledges that over and over. The best traditional mysteries search for justice. It's a wonderful traditional mystery that celebrates books and good food.  A Cookbook Conspiracy is the latest in a series that grows stronger and stronger, as Brooklyn continues to search for justice for victims.

Kate Carlisle's website is www.katecarlisle.com

A Cookbook Conspiracy by Kate Carlisle. Penguin. 2013. ISBN 9780451415967 (hardcover), 305p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library Book


Monday, June 10, 2013

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert

Jennifer Gilbert's memoir, I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag, is a tragedy and a triumph, the story of a
woman who could have given up on life, but found a way to forge on until she found a way to overcome her past and her own feelings. The subtitle, "A Memoir of a Life Through Events - the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don't," truly sums up her life and her career.

When she was twenty-two, Gilbert, a confident young woman looking forward to her future, was struck down in a friend's apartment in Manhattan. After recovering physically from the attack, Gilbert tried frantically to put her past behind her. For three years, she ran frantically on a treadmill, building her own events company, Save the Date. She admits, "I was a gregarious lonely person, a party planner celebrating other people's amazing life experience, and I was running as fast as I could away from my own problems, acting for all the world as if I didn't have any."

But, for three years there was a bomb ticking in Gilbert's life. She "had been in post traumatic stress and denial for three years." Finally, she fell apart when forced to face her past. But, after finally facing it, she still continued to run her life as if nothing had happened, refusing to let other people know she was vulnerable.

Jennifer Gilbert's memoir is a story of tragedy, courage, and life. It's the story of a woman who found love when she never thought she would, and with a person she never thought would be right for her. It's an inspirational story of a woman building a successful business, and then finding her way back to life and joy. I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag is a story of a journey from what could have been death to a successful, happy life.

Jennifer Gilbert's website is www.savethedate.com

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events - the ONes You Plan and the Ones You Don't by Jennifer Gilbert. HarperCollins. 2012. ISBN 9780062076007 (paperback), 213p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I picked the book up at BEA.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

A Week of Treasures

Otherwise known as loot. Between the books I mailed back from BEA, and the books that arrived in the mail this week, I have one week's worth of treasure that is unbelievable.


It's obvious I'm not going to be able to read everything here. So, here's just a quick list so you have a heads-up as to what's coming out. If a title doesn't have a date after it, it's already been released, or will be released this month.

So, in no particular order, here are the books that arrived this week. Anything here that appeals to you?

The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri
Guests o Earth by Lee Smith (October - I think this one is going to be big for book clubs.)
Buzz Books 2013 Fall/Winter - Exclusive Excerpts from 40 Top New Titles (PublishersLunch)
Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman (autographed, Sept.)
Neil Gaiman's 'Make Good Art' Speech by Neil Giaman (autographed)
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani (autographed)
Guide to Gettysburgh Battlefield Monuments by Tom Huntington (autographed)
You're Only Human: A Guide to Life by The Gecko
Raising Digital Families for Dummies by Amy Lupold Bair (autographed)
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (autographed, August)
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker (debut, Aug., might be big)
Let It Burn by Steve Hamilton (July)
Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella by Jan Brett (autographed)
I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert
This House Is Haunted by John Boyne (October)
Enigma of China by Qiu Xiaolong
Murder of a Stacked Librarian by Denise Swanson (Sept.)
The Trojan Colt by Mike Resnick
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (autographed, Oct.)
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (autographed)
Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews
The Abomination by Jonathon Holt
Shadow People by James Swain
Death of a Dyer by Eleanor Kuhns
Brave Hearts by Carolyn Hart (August)
Corrupt Practices by Robert Rotstein
Moving Miss Peggy by Robert Benson (autographed)
City of Mirrors by Melodie Johnson Howe (August)
The Arrivals by Melissa Marr (July)
The King's Jar by Susan C. Shea
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon (Sept.)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (autographed, Sept.)
The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron (Oct.)
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (Sept.)
The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay
In the Blood by Lisa Unger (Jan. 2014)
The Expats by Chris Pavone (autographed)
Randi Rhodes: Ninja Detective by Octavia Spencer (Oct.)
Escape From Paris by Carolyn Hart
The Wild Beasts of Wuhan by Ian Hamilton

AND, the eleven July releases from Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime and Obsidian. These are the books that will appear on my book chat later this month.

Tarnished and Torn by Juliet Blackwell
Grace Takes Off by Julie Hyzy
Laced with Poison by Meg London
A Custom-Fit Crime by Melissa Bourbon
One Dead Cookie by Virginia Lowell
Dying Wishes by Molly MacRae
Rubbed Out by Riley Adams
Final Sentence by Daryl Wood Gerber
Woof at the Door by Laura Morrigan
Yarn to Go by Betty Hechtman
Tulle Death Do Us Part by Annette Blair

52 books this week. If you're like me, and never want to be without a book, this is great! Any books here that you're waiting to read?

PERSONAL NOTE - I won't be running a contest this week, and the next one will start during the work week. I have a few trips to make this week, one for work, and one with family, and it makes it difficult to host the contest. I hope you'll still stop by to read with me!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan

Kylie Logan, author of the Button Box mysteries, and, as Casey Daniels, author of the Pepper Martin ones,launches the League of Literary Ladies series with Mayhem at the Orient Express. In an homage to Agatha Christie, the book is set on South Bass Island in Lake Erie in the middle of a snowstorm that strands the detectives and suspects together.

And, this series has four amateur detectives, although Bea Cartwright is the narrator. Three of the women came together unwillingly. After they showed up one too many times in Alvin Littlejohn's court, arguing over petty matters, the court magistrate sentenced them to a book discussion group at the local public library. They had to show up every Monday night for a year. When Bea, Chandra Morrisey and Kate White appeared at the library, one other woman showed up, Luella Zak. Luella was the only one actually there to read the book, so the second meeting didn't start off much better than the first. Who would think it would end in murder?

When the four women reported to Peter Chan's restaurant, The Orient Express, they found him dead behind his counter. Once the police showed up, the women were free to gather at Bea's new Bed and Breakfast. And, as the snow accumulated, every suspect on the island showed up at Bea's. When her generator kept the place open, even a police officer showed up. It wasn't long before the women, who had selected Murder on the Orient Express as their first book, found themselves in the middle of an Agatha Christie story. While the electricity remained off and the ferry operator was stranded at the Bed-and-Breakfast, there was a murderer trapped on the island. And, Bea and her new friends thought that murderer might be right there at Bea's.

I have high hopes for this series. I'd like to see more local color with a few more details about South Bass Island itself and the town of Put-in-Bay. And, this mystery was a little drawn out. But, the characters are delightful, and Kylie Logan leaves the reader wanting to know about all of them, especially Bea herself. Bea has some secrets in her life. Although a little was revealed in this book, there are definitely more stories from her past. Mayhem at the Orient Express actually doesn't reveal much about the new B&B owner. And, I'm sure Logan did that on purpose to drive readers back to learn more about Bea.

If you're looking for a tribute to Agatha Christie, a traditional mystery set in the middle of a snowstorm in the middle of the lake, Mayhem at the Orient Express should be a delightful escape from the summer heat.

Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan. Berkley Prime Crime. 2013. ISBN 9780425257753 (paperback), 297p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.




Friday, June 07, 2013

The Diva Frosts a Cupcake by Krista Davis

Krista Davis always has an unusual angle to her Domestic Diva mysteries. This time, in The Diva Frosts a Cupcake, a number of bakers are going to the dogs. And, the same thing has happened with Sophie Winston's love life. There's hope though for both Sophie and the dogs.

Sophie Winston's best friend, Nina Reid Norwood, is responsible for a fundraiser in Old Town Alexandria. Cupcakes and Pupcakes is raising money for animal shelters. All the local bakeries are selling cupcakes and animal treats, but before the event is even launched the co-owners of a bakery have a parting of the ways. Joy opens Sugar Mama directly across the street from the one she co-owned with Renee, Sugar Baby. That left their assistant, Muffin, torn between the two former friends. She stayed with Sugar Baby, but even her stay isn't long. In the midst of all the commotion of the fund raiser, Muffin is found dead. Naturally, the locals suspect either Renee or Joy. Sophie isn't so sure. She herself has been accused when she isn't guilty, and Renee and Joy may be in the same boat.

Sophie would think the worst that could happen would be finding Muffin dead. Instead, she finds herself accused of sleeping with a married man, just when a new interesting man appears in town. And, nothing she can do will stop the man's wife from spreading rumors.

Now, Sophie has her hands full with a bakery war, a murder investigation, a missing dog, and rumors spreading all over town that she's having an affair. And, of course, there's the on-going rivalry with Natasha, the other domestic diva in the neighborhood. Natasha and her new dog add the humor to a story in which the victim remains center stage. Who killed the charming Muffin?

If murder, dogs, recipes and cheating sound as if they don't mix, give Krista Davis a chance. As always, she manages to mix together a hodgepodge of ingredients to come up with a treat for readers. The Diva Frosts a Cupcake will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next sample in the series.

Krista Davis' website is www.kristadavis.com, although you can also follow her online at www.mysteryloverskitchen.com.

The Diva Frosts a Cupcake by Krista Davis. Berkley Prime Crime. 2013. ISBN 9780425258132 (paperback), 289p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Kate Carlisle, Guest Blogger

Now that I'm in Indiana, I'm not going to be able to host West Coast authors as I did before. Fortunately, readers here might benefit because I can still bring the authors to you via guest posts. Kate Carlisle's new mystery, The Cookbook Conspiracy was released this week. Instead of hosting her at the library, I'm pleased to welcome Kate here today to talk about her book. Thank you, Kate.



Award winning author Kate Carlisle spent over twenty years working in television production as an Associate Director for game and variety shows, including The Midnight Special, Solid Gold and The Gong Show. She traveled the world as a Dating Game chaperone and performed strange acts of silliness on The Gong Show. She also studied acting and singing, toiled in vineyards, collected books, joined a commune, sold fried chicken, modeled spring fashions and worked for a cruise ship line, but it was the year she spent in law school that finally drove her to begin writing fiction. It seemed the safest way to kill off her professors. Those professors are breathing easier now that Kate spends most of her time writing near the beach in Southern California where she lives with her perfect husband.

A lifelong love of old books and an appreciation of the art of bookbinding led Kate to create the Bibliophile Mysteries, featuring rare book expert Brooklyn Wainwright, whose bookbinding and restoration skills invariably uncover old secrets, treachery and murder. Find Kate online at www.katecarlisle.com.


Spicy Spaghetti
By Kate Carlisle, author of A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY



Sometimes, leftovers just make good sense. When I’m under a pressing deadline, I don’t have time to cook every day.

Who am I kidding? I never want to cook every day, and when I’m under a deadline, I have a good
excuse not to cook at all! When I was writing the last few chapters of A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY, that high-octane time leading up to revealing who killed the celebrity chef that everyone loved to hate, every day was, “Hello, takeout!”

So let’s scratch that “deadline” bit and start over…

Sometimes, leftovers just make good sense. Who wants to cook every single day for the rest of their lives? Even people who love to cook need a break from time to time. Otherwise, it stops being a fun hobby and becomes a chore. And for those of us who, ahem, feel something less than 100% genuine enthusiasm for kitchen slavery, leftovers are heavenly. 

Spaghetti makes great leftovers, like many tomato-based foods. The flavors have time to meld, so the second day, it tastes even better than the first. (You might want to cook fresh pasta each day, so you’re not eating soggy noodles. I, on the other hand, don’t object to soggy noodles on Day 2.)

This spaghetti recipe is super simple, but it’s delicious, especially if you can make it a few hours ahead of time and leave it on a slow simmer until it’s time to eat. The tomato thickens and the flavor becomes as rich and delicious as an Italian count. The peperoncinis (dried peppers) I use were a Christmas gift from a friend, as part of a wonderful “Taste of Italy” gift basket. They have a nice kick without being overwhelming, and just a hint of smokiness. But if you can’t find these at your local store, you can substitute cayenne powder, and it’s almost as delicious.

Super Simple Spicy Spaghetti 

1 lb ground beef
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes
½ C red wine (I used Merlot)
2 dried peperoncinis cut into ¼-inch slices (or 1 t cayenne powder)
Brown the ground beef. Drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Heat to a slow simmer. Cover and simmer for up to four hours, stirring occasionally. If necessary, add a bit of water in ½-cup increments. Serve over spaghetti noodles with garlic bread and a salad.



*****
As mentioned before, Kate Carlisle's website is www.katecarlisle.com

A Cookbook Conspiracy by Kate Carlisle. Penguin. 2013. ISBN 9780451415967 (hardcover), 320p.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Ashton Lee on Tour


Ashton Lee, author of The Cherry Cola Book Club, is currently on book tour. The other night, he appeared at the McCollough Branch of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.

Lee started out by telling the audience that he writes to get his ideas out. He said the author appearances are fun. When he does the writing part, he disappears for nine hours. His book has been out for about two months. This was his first time in Evansville, Indiana.

He asked the audience if they remembered the song "June is Busting Out All Over." He said it always reminds him of summer reading. When he was six, living in Natchez, Mississippi, his mother took him to the library to sign him up for the summer reading program. He wasn't so sure about that. Reading would dig into the time he could spend digging up bugs, putting them in a jar, and charging 5 cents to see his insect zoo. Then he found out he could get prizes, different colored ribbons depending how many he read, and he was determined to win a blue ribbon. He was a library user for life.

Lee said it's important to make children library users and supporters for life. Libraries need help. They're underfunded. When local politicians need money, the fist place they usually cut is the library, and it's the last to have its budget restored. We do need police, fire, utilities. We need infrastructure. But, we also need libraries, the repository for our culture. Libraries tell us where we've been, and where we're going. Ashton Lee wants to be the next great advocate for libraries.

He wanted to stress that if readers don't feel as if they know enough about the characters in The Cherry Cola Book Club, there will be more in April 2014. The second book in the series is due out then. And, the next book, like this one, will include recipes from the main characters.

How did he get the idea for this series? He's always been involved as a library user. He does have a day job, as many other writers do. He's a midlist author with a New York publisher. Lee is trying to make his reputation. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, drove to Evansville, and then he was heading to Iowa the next day. In his day job, Lee is a publishers distribution rep covering six southern states. He's a library rep for small publishers.

A year and a half ago, his agent suggested he write a novel about the big problem in libraries, underfunding. So, in writing The Cherry Cola Book Club, he decided to write about a librarian in the Deep South who was in an extreme situation. The local politicians want to shut her library down so they can create an industrial park to bring in jobs.


The lead character is a wonderful, idealistic, somewhat naive, good-looking, redheaded librarian.Maura Beth Mayhew is told by three good ol' boy politicians that she has five months to show them why they shouldn't shut the library down so they can take her budget.

Today, lots of people come to the library to use computers, to file for assistance, apply for jobs, play games. But, the politicians in Cherico, Mississippi won't fund computers. They tell Maura Beth there's no need. Everyone has access. There's no on-site parking for the library. She doesn't have much money for books, but spends all she can for bestsellers. The nonfiction collection is poor. She knows the collection is bad. She doesn't have a children's librarian or a reference on.

Ashton Lee is planning the series. It's about watching Maura Beth grow up as a librarian and a woman, and learn to get around the politicians. Maura Beth accepted the position of Director in the small town of Cherico, a town with a population of 5000. She likes the people there. She was so proud to become a library director right out of grad school. She has an MLS from LSU, and accepted the job in a town on a lake in the northeast corner of Mississippi, a town that Lee created.

Maura Beth is in trouble. She doesn't know if they will keep the library open. So, she goes to see her best girl friend, Periwinkle Lattimore, who runs the most successful diner/restaurant in town, The Twinkle, Twinkle Cafe. Periwinkle introduces Maura Beth to her newest customer, a former ICU nurse, Connie McShay from Nashville. Connie came in to pick up tomato aspic, a staple in the Deep South. She tells Maura Beth she was in a book club in Nashville, the Music City Pageturners. They had potlucks and reviewed books. She said they ate first, so no one would have a growling stomach, and then they reviewed the books.

Maura Beth thinks if she starts a book club she might get more patrons into the library. She has to work to get the population interested in keeping the library open. The book club starts with mostly women; then they drag their husbands and boyfriends. Some of the black citizens join the club.

Councilman Durden Sparks attends every meeting of the book club, and tries to disrupt them. He can see Maura Beth is succeeding in raising the library profile, and he doesn't want that to happen.

Maura Beth had the idea to review classic Southern literature by women authors, and look at them from a different viewpoint. They started with Gone with the Wind then To Kill a Mockingbird. To put a different spin on the book, Maura Beth asks them why, in this modern world, are they Scarlett or Melanie. The women start to get to know each other. They find themselves making new friends as they share food.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a rite of passage for Southerners. It's set in the 30s when everything wasn't right with the justice system. Maura Beth asks them to tell how their lives have changed since the publication of the book in 1960. There are interesting testimonials, touching ones. People discussed how they adjusted, whether they accommodated the changes or not.

According to Lee, there's a lot of humor in the book, but it deals with serious issues. He hopes it's a thought-provoking look at the country, and what we've been through.

Maura Beth was ditched by her boyfriend in college. She's gun-shy now, but she's hopeful. She's twenty-eight. She wants to marry and have a family someday. When she's down, she reads passages from the journal she wrote when she was at LSU, particularly page twenty-five, where she wrote what she wanted to achieve by the age of thirty. She reads those passages, and finds the strength to go on. Maura Beth wants to be a good librarian, but she's opposed by the local politicians.

After Lee read a chapter from the book, he said the book club does grow. It becomes the talk of the town. And, it attracts the attention of Jeremy McShay, a relative of Connnie's, who could become a love interest for Maura Beth. He's an English teacher. He wants to raise the profile of the entire population. He thinks everyone should be reading. He's upset that the school has plenty of money for the football team, but no money to bring the students to the book club for the discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird.

In book two, readers will find out about the secrets of some of the other characters. There are recipes in the back of the book, and fifteen discussion questions for book clubs.

Some people have asked questions about the cover, and said they bought if for the cover. Lee's publisher, Kensington, asked him for input. He said he wanted a table, books, and a cherry cola. They added the window, the chairs. Some people seem to think it's a mystery, but it's not.

Ashton Lee answered questions about characters in the book. He joked about it because his cousin was in the audience, wanting to know if he was a character. Lee said there were twenty-one first cousins in the family who grew up together, and still keep in touch.

He said growing up in Natchez, he saw all kinds of eccentric characters, but as a writer and a gentleman, he took bits and pieces of them and blended them together for his characters. He said he knows small towns in the Deep South best, and wanted to write a small town series, as Ann B. Ross did with her Miss Julia series. Fannie Flagg doesn't write a series, but she writes about the Deep South. He commented that in small towns in the South, you can get away with doing things that you might be arrested for in large cities.

Lee's second book has some twists and turns. Asked if he always knew he had a talent for writing, he talked about his father. His father wrote pulp fiction in New York after World War II. He was in the Pacific, and won the Distinguished Flying Cross, and New York was looking for stories about the war. Ashton knew he wanted to write. He spent his allowance on yellow tablets and Ticonderoga #2 pencils. In eighth grade, an English teacher saw his poems and stories and had some of them published in the Natchez newspaper. It was a dream come true. Later, although his father was no longer writing, Lee went to him for advice on technique.And, he was accepted by a New York agent and then publisher.

The Cherry Cola Book Club is the start of a series. The proposals for books three and four are on his editor's desk, waiting for approval. He feels as if he has the chance to refresh and deepen the characters in the other books. There are also more recipes.

The second book will be called The Reader's Circle, subtitled A Cherry Cola Book Club novel. Readers get to know a little circle of characters. And Maura Beth Mayhew will continue to work with the townspeople to oppose the politicians.

Ashton Lee's program concluded with a book signing, cherry chocolate cake, and a promise he'll return next year if he's invited.

Ashton Lee can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ashtonlee.net


*****
If you'd like to read the first book in The Cherry Cola Book Club series, I have an autographed copy to give away.  Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read "Win The Cherry Cola Book Club." Then, include your name and mailing address. This contest will end Friday, June 7 at 6 p.m. CT, just as the other contests this week.







Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews

I won't say Mary Kay Andrews' Ladies' Night is the perfect beach read. How many of us have time to read 400 pages at the beach? But, if you're looking for entertaining summer reading, look no further.

Grace Stanton loves her lifestyle as an rising star in the blogging world. She lives in a Florida mansion, has a keen eye for design as a former interior designer, and writes and photographs her lifestyle for her blog, Gracenotes. She's made enough money that her husband, Ben, quit his job to work with her, and she even has an assistant. At least she has an assistant until the night she finds Ben and J'Aimee doing a little more than working in his car. And, she's angry enough to make a public scene and drive his Audi into the swimming pool. But, Grace's biggest mistake was to move to her mother's apartment over her bar, The Sandbox, instead of kicking Ben out of the house.

Once she's gone, Ben and J'Aimee take over everything, the house, the blog, the lifestyle. And, when they end up in divorce court, it's Grace who is sent to six weeks of therapy with four other people who were all assigned there by the same judge. When the therapy sessions turn out to be a little odd, the group ends up at The Sandbox, where Grace's mom, Rochelle, takes a keen interest in the on-going dynamics of the group. It doesn't take long for The Sandbox to become the regular home for "Ladies' Night".

Grace is angry and frustrated without her blog or income, so she goes back to running. It's while out running that she comes across a man emptying a small house of all kinds of trash and furniture. A couple pieces catch her eye, and before she knows it, she has a job renovating the cottage, a new purpose for a new blog, and a new dog in her life. And, then there's Wyatt Keeler, the sole male in the therapy group. Grace just might find a few reasons to move on with her life.

I have to admit when I was given Ladies' Night to review I wasn't excited about the size of the book. However, it wasn't long before I was sucked into the book. Grace and the others in her group ended up there because their actions were a little extreme when they dealt with cheating spouses. But, the stories are hilarious. And, Grace is wonderful, a woman who finds her way to a happier life. Add in a rescued dog, a charming little boy, a little romance, and even a touch of mystery. What more do you want for the perfect summer read?

Mary Kay Andrews' website is www.marykayandrews.com

Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin's. 2013. ISBN 9781250019653 (hardcover), 400p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I was sent this book to review for a magazine.

Monday, June 03, 2013

New York City - Authors and Plays

You've already seen my hotel in New York, and read about the first day and evening. On Wednesday, I attended the Library Journal Day of Dialog, and then the BEA (Book Expo America) Keynote address. Here's the good news for everyone reading this. According to the speakers at the event, books are doing just fine. In fact the owner of Book People bookstore in Austin said they had three record-breaking years in a row.

I went to dinner with friends on Wednesday night. I hadn't seen Maryellen Woodside and Sally Bissell for nine years. We made a terrific team working together in Ft. Myers, working on the Authors' Committee for the Lee County Reading Festival, compiling the Readers' Advisory bookmarks and handouts, performing Readers' Theater together. Now, Sally just retired, and Maryellen will later this year. We not only had time together during the conference, but a three and a half hour dinner at the Library Hotel's restaurant, Madison and Vine. Here we are, at, of course, the Library Hotel.


BEA started with a bang on Thursday. I went to the Authors' Breakfast. Chelsea Handler moderated the panel consisting of Doris Kearns Goodwin, Ismael Beah, and Wally Lamb. Goodwin is, of course, the author of Team of Rivals. .

I spent the morning on the floor of the exhibition hall. I also stopped at the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) booth where authors were signing on an hourly basis. Of course, I stopped in at Macmillan to catch up with Hector DeJean of St. Martin's. Here are the authors I ran into, and had the chance to meet.


Chris Pavone, author of The Expats

Alafair Burke

Hilary Davidson signing at MWA

With Hilary Davidson

Noon meant time for the BEA Librarians Author Lunch. And, I totally blew it. I was so excited to see a couple of the authors, I forgot to take pictures. Two librarians, Stephanie Chase from Seattle PL and Alene Moroni from King County Library in Washington, hosted debut author Koethi Zan (The Never List), Jayne Anne Phillips (Quiet Dell), Lee Smith (Guests on Earth), Louise Penny (How the Light Gets In), and Bill Bryson (One Summer: America, 1927). I had always wanted to hear Bill Bryson, and now I didn't get a picture. And, I forgot Louise's gummi bears! But, consensus from the librarians I talked to was that Louise blew everyone away.

The highlight of the day had to be the chance to meet Doris Kearns Goodwin, who was gracious and kind when I told her how much my late husband loved her books.

Doris Kearns Goodwin
I ended the afternoon at BEA by attending the AAP Annual Librarians Book Buzz - Part I, in which book publishers talked about the books they're excited about for the next season.

On Thursday night, I went to Junior's for dinner. Now, I could have the cheesecake it's famous for!



And, then I went to "Once", the Tony award-winning musical based on the movie.



I didn't realize when I went that the lead, the part of "Guy" is now played by Arthur Darvill. Darvill is an English actor and musician. And, for those fans of Doctor Who, Arthur Darvill was Rory.


Friday morning meant another Authors' Breakfast, this one the Children's Breakfast. Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for The Help has a debut middle school book out. She moderated the panel consisting of Mary Pope Osborne, author of The Magic Tree House books, Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and Veronica Roth, author of Divergent. After the breakfast, I spent most of the day in the autographing area and the floor. Here are Friday's authors.

With Adriana Trigiani, author of The Shoemaker's Wife

Rick Riordan

Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of the forthcoming Wrong Girl

Lisa Unger

Sue Grafton, W is for Wasted

Lee Smith

And, my last evening in New York (sniff0 was spent at a show again, "Pippin", a revival after forty years. This production was a combination of Cirque du Soleil type of acrobatics and a musical. Just wonderful. The stars were Pippin, played by Matthew James Thomas, who was also Peter Parker in "Spider Man", Patina Miller, who was unbelievable as Leading Player. She was sexy, acrobatic, charismatic. Terrence Mann was Charles, and his wife, Charlotte d'Amboise was Fastrada. Andrea Martin as Pippin's grandmother almost stole the show.


 I had time for two programs before I left for the airport on Saturday. Chris Matthews hosted the final Adult Book and Author Breakfast. Helen Fielding (author of the Bridget Jones books), John Lewis and Diana Gabaldon were the authors. I'll admit I snuck out of this one a little early to get to the program, "Why Fiction is Dangerous." Neil Gaiman was the speaker, and he says this is his last book tour. He did the best program I saw during the conference, spending an hour talking about his books and life, and taking questions from the audience. Then, five hundred of us were given autographed copies of two of his books, Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art" Speech, and the September release, a children's book, Fortunately, the Milk.

Neil Gaiman


And, making one final spin through the exhibits, I ran into Chris Matthews signing books.



It was an unbelievable trip to New York City, filled with books and authors, friends, and theater, along with good weather, about 90 every day. Such a good trip, it was hard to leave. But, I probably couldn't continue to go every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. at that pace.


So, to end a trip to BEA, what more do you want than book promotions?






I love New York City and BEA!