Monday, January 31, 2011

Lisa Loves The Marriage Artist

Two mysterious deaths unlock one man's past and another's future in this moving tale of art, love, and history

When the wife of renowned art critic Daniel Lichtmann plunges to her death, she is not alone. Lying next to her is her suspected lover, Benjamin Wind, the very artist Daniel most championed. Tormented by questions about the circumstances of their deaths, Daniel dedicates himself to uncovering the secrets of their relationship and the inspiration behind Wind's dazzling final exhibition.

What Daniel discovers is a web of mysteries leading back to pre-World War II Vienna and the magnificent life of Josef Pick, a forgotten artist who may have been the twentieth century's greatest painter of love. But the most astonishing discovery is what connects these two artists across half a century: a remarkable woman whose response to the tragedy of her generation offers Daniel answers to the questions he never knew to ask.

Ambitious, haunting, and stunningly written, The Marriage Artist tells a universal tale of a family dramatically reshaped by the quest for personal freedom in the face of inherited beliefs, public prejudices, and the unfathomable turns of history. It is at once a provocative snapshot of contemporary marriage, the recovery of a passion that history never recorded, and a fierce reminder of the way we enlist love in our perpetual search for meaning and permanence.

Lisa says:

'The way this story is carefully woven reminds me a bit of Nicole Krauss' The Great House. I love the way Andrew Winer writes and if you haven't read his first book The Color Midnight Made - it's brilliant as well, and a great favorite of mine.

This is the story of Daniel, an art critic, and how he comes to terms with the suicides of his wife and her artist lover, Ben Wind. (The book starts out with their deaths so this isn't a spoiler.) Daniel can't accept their suicides much less the fact that his wife even had a secret life with the artist he had highly promoted.

Daniel starts to investigate, and his investigation takes us to the story of a Jewish family and another artist in Vienna during WWII. Daniel's tenacity leads him to the family of Ben Wind, to their secret and eventually to Vienna. Without giving too much of the story away, I will say that the roots of the story start during that WWII time period and reach to generations beyond with profound consequences. It's a story about loss, love, finding yourself, your heritage, and coming to terms with the past and the present. I believe this would be an ideal book for book clubs. I also think it would be great for both men and women. Andrew did an excellent job of researching the time periods and his view of the way some in the Jewish community tried to adapt their lives to survive was both amazing and heartbreaking. I would put him on an author to watch list and I hope his next book is in the works."

Watch an interview with the author:

Once Upon a Time: Enchanting Books On Our Shelves Right Now

Once Upon a Time: A Map Book
Imagine that fairy tales are real and can be explored in detail with the help of maps. Imagine navigating the mysteries of Aladdin's kingdom, the dangers of the Giant's kingdom at the top of Jack's beanstalk, and the whimsy of Alice's Wonderland. Imagine a trip through the unique geographical features of Peter Pan's Neverland, Dorothy's Land of Oz, and Snow White's Enchanted Forest. You'll have expert guides and clear, simple directions. On each map, a compass, quadrants with letters and numbers, and a key with local routes will help you find your way. This beautiful and unique book features six fold-out maps and a fairy-tale pop-up castle finale.

Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen
Presents story excerpts from more than twenty children's books accompanied by original, easy-to-follow recipes, including dishes that can be associated with such tales as "The Wind in the Willows," "Peter Pan," and "The Secret Garden."

Once Upon a Time: Illustrations from Fairytales, Fables, Primers, Pop-Ups
and Other Children's Books

Once Upon a Time reawakens the joys of childhood reading, of seeing a story come alive in words and pictures on the printed page and in our nascent imaginations. Drawing upon the extraordinary collection of Victorian-era illustrated books amassed by Arthur and Ellen Liman, it presents fairy tales and fables, nursery rhymes, instructional books, juvenile fiction, histories, and manners manuals. Created through a variety of illustration techniques and printing processes, most are beautifully colored. Many are also animated with moveable parts. These striking objects are accompanied by brief texts that place them within their era and illuminate the rise of children's literature in America as a cultural phenomenon related to the growth of literacy, an increase in leisure time, and an understanding of the "infant mind." The moral of this story: learning your ABCs can be a visual pleasure.

TC Tidbits: Obama's Gift Library

GalleyCat has put together (via a government report) all of the books that President Obama received as gifts from foreign dignitaries in 2009. Check them out.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Neil Recommends...

Carsten Jensen’s debut novel has taken the world by storm. Already hailed in Europe as an instant classic, We, the Drowned is the story of the port town of Marstal, whose inhabitants have sailed the world’s oceans aboard freight ships for centuries. Spanning over a hundred years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War, and from the barren rocks of Newfoundland to the lush plantations of Samoa, from the roughest bars in Tasmania, to the frozen coasts of northern Russia, We, the Drowned spins a magnificent tale of love, war, and adventure, a tale of the men who go to sea and the women they leave behind.

Ships are wrecked at sea and blown up during wars, they are places of terror and violence, yet they continue to lure each generation of Marstal men—fathers and sons—away. Strong, resilient, women raise families alone and sometimes take history into their own hands. There are cannibals here, shrunken heads, prophetic dreams, forbidden passions, cowards, heroes, devastating tragedies, and miraculous survivals—everything that a town like Marstal has actually experienced, and that makes We, the Drowned an unforgettable novel, destined to take its place among the greatest seafaring literature.

Neil says:
"New to the United States is We, The Drowned, from Danish author Carsten Jensen, a multi-generational saga of the Danish seafaring town Marstal, beginning and ending in wars nearly a century apart. The story is fiction, though Jensen writes that he did his best to maintain a truthful history of Marstal itself. Voted Denmark’s 'best novel of the past twenty-five years' - by whom I don’t know - this is grand storytelling not just of seafaring adventure but also of a town that loves the sea as much as it grieves the sons that never return from it."

New Book Award Honors Harper Lee's Atticus Finch

To honor the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, The University of Alabama School of Law and the American Bar Association Journal partnered to create The Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. The Prize honors Lee for the role model she created for the legal profession and for the extraordinary cultural phenomenon that her novel has become.

In the spirit of To Kill a Mockingbird, the Prize will be given in conjunction with the Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., in September 2011. The winner will receive a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird signed by Harper Lee. To qualify, an entry must be a book-length work of legal fiction first published in 2010, with an ISBN, readily available for purchase in retail or online bookstores.

The Harper Lee Prize 2011 Selection Committee will choose 3 finalists, who will be announced in early June, 2011. The public will be invited to vote on the finalists on the ABA Journal website. The winner of the public vote will be accorded the same weight as the vote of each of the judges. The winner will be announced in July 2011.

Learn more about the award.

BTC wants to know: Who would YOU pick for this award? Please add your "vote" to the comments below.

TC Tidbits: Ten of the Best Beards in Literature

according to The Guardian.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kate's Harper Updates: Fresh New Titles

Unprotected Texts
Bible scholar Jennifer Wright Knust addresses the big questions that dominate today's discussions and debates when it comes to sex and the Bible: Is premarital sex a sin? When, and in what contexts, is sexual desire appropriate? With whom can I legitimately have sex? Are same-sex relations permissible? In an era where the phrases, "the Bible says," and "God says," are so often exploited, it is time to consider what the Bible actually does—or does not—say about monogamy, polygamy, homosexuality, gender roles, and sex.

Unprotected Texts directly and pointedly takes on widely shared misconceptions about sex, arguing that the Bible cannot—and should not—serve as a rulebook for sexual morality, despite popular claims to the contrary. From the Song of Songs' lyrical eroticism to the rigid sexual rules of Leviticus—and everything in between—Knust parses the Bible's contradictory, often surprising messages.

Skillfully revealing the latest insights from critical scholarship, Knust provides a compassionate and liberating model for navigating these deeply personal issues that affect us all.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter
Pink and pretty or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as a source—the source—of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages.

But, realistically, how many times can you say no when your daughter begs for a pint-size wedding gown or the latest Hannah Montana CD? And how dangerous is pink and pretty anyway—especially given girls' successes in the classroom and on the playing field? Being a princess is just make-believe, after all; eventually they grow out of it. Or do they? Does playing Cinderella shield girls from early sexualization—or prime them for it? Could today's little princess become tomorrow's sexting teen? And what if she does? Would that make her in charge of her sexuality—or an unwitting captive to it?

Those questions hit home with Peggy Orenstein, so she went sleuthing. She visited Disneyland and the international toy fair, trolled American Girl Place and Pottery Barn Kids, and met beauty pageant parents with preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. She dissected the science, created an online avatar, and parsed the original fairy tales. The stakes turn out to be higher than she—or we—ever imagined: nothing less than the health, development, and futures of our girls. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters' lives.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a must-read for anyone who cares about girls, and for parents helping their daughters navigate the rocky road to adulthood.

Ugly Beauty
Helena Rubinstein and L'Oréal's Eugène Schueller both started out in the beauty business during the first years of the twentieth century, and, by the time World War II broke out, had come to dominate it. However, their motivations could not have been more different. Rubinstein, a Polish Jew, claimed the world of paid work for women, and working women's enthusiasm for her products made her the first self-made female millionaire. Schueller, a French conservative in the Henry Ford mold, thought women belonged in the home, and during the Nazi Occupation he used his company as a source of cash to buy economic and political influence.

Schueller eventually won the long fight for supremacy: in 1988 his company swallowed Rubinstein's. But the victory cost him his reputation when, in the wake of the takeover, he was exposed as a Nazi collaborator. Deepening the scandal, his wartime activities were shown to have been abetted and condoned by a cadre of young men who, by the time the news broke, had scaled the peaks of wealth and power in postwar France.

By then Schueller and Rubinstein were both long dead. But cultural historian and biographer Ruth Brandon argues that the battle they began continues to this day. She examines their conflict to ask important contemporary questions about beauty standards and the often murky intersection of individual political aims and the role of business. Filled with remarkable twists, turns, and larger-than-life characters, Ugly Beauty is a riveting true story about what lies beneath the flawless exterior of the cosmetics industry.

The Anatomy of Ghosts

1786, England. John Holdsworth, a bookseller, is approached by a man with an odd commission: Lady Anne’s husband has passed away, and Holdsworth is needed to catalogue his extensive library. But Lady Anne unexpectedly has to deal with more pressing issues, and she asks Holdsworth to instead go to Jerusalem College in Cambridge and learn why her son Frank is unwell.

Once in Cambridge, Holdsworth finds Frank in a manic state that is somehow connected with the mysterious death of Sylvia, the wife of another man. But as Holdsworth tries to help Frank and is drawn deeper into the Cambridge community, he’s not prepared for the truth behind Sylvia’s death and a secret society that meets within the college’s walls.
Andrew Taylor delivers his most suspenseful thriller yet with fascinating characters, twists and turns, and a surprising, but fully satisfying, ending.

The Headhunter's Daughter

The Headhunter’s Daughter begins with the kidnapping of an infant, a white Belgian girl in the Belgian Congo, deep in the heart of Africa in 1945. The child’s governess agrees to give her over at a location in the jungle, next to the spring-fed gravel pits where the Whites come to swim.

Unfortunately the governess needs to relieve herself and leaves the baby in the clearing while she ducks into the bushes. There she is bitten by a mamba, a species of deadly snake, and her body temporarily goes unnoticed.

A youth of the Bashilele tribe is on his quest to kill a man so that he may take his place amongst the men of the tribe, and have his skull from which to drink his palm wine. He accidentally comes across this clearing, and is at first puzzled by the presence of a white infant in a baby carriage—thinking it might be some demonic spirit. But then he acts out of instinct and compassion. His mother has just given birth to a still-born baby and is grieving. When the youth realizes that this is a human baby, he takes it and begins to run back to his village.

The girl grows up without any knowledge of the white man’s ways, as this Bashilele village is remote, and as many of them were at that time hostile to outsiders. In 1953, when the girl is thirteen, and just as her parents are about to find a suitor for her, news of her existence reaches the outside world by a missionary school teacher named Dorcas. Although it may be just a rumor, (there have been others like it,) she reports it to the police chief at Belle Vue.

Captain Pierre Jardin, along with young American and budding love interest Amanda Brown, and the quick-witted Cripple as translator, set out to this distant village to check out the rumor. The girl, whose name is Ugly Eyes, because they are blue, not brown, is stunningly beautiful, and like most Bashilele girls, extremely well poised. But she is terrified of the Whites and of technology, including the truck she must ride in when they take her back with them to “civilization.”

But as the secret of who the girl’s real father is revealed, it puts Amanda, the young girl, the translator, and Pierre in more danger than they ever expected...

Situated in Ohio, a free territory before the Civil War, Tawawa House is an idyllic retreat for Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their enslaved black mistresses. It’s their open secret. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at the resort, building strong friendships over the years. But when Mawu, as fearless as she is assured, comes along and starts talking of running away, things change. To run is to leave everything behind, and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances— all while they bear witness to the end of an era.

An engaging, page-turning, and wholly original novel, Wench explores, with an unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.

The 2011 Tournament of Books Contenders

How the tournament works:

Each spring takes 16 of the most celebrated novels of the previous calendar year (the site explains: "Each of these books was chosen because it was hyped. Or celebrated. Or not celebrated or hyped enough. Or because it won an award. Or because an individual or individuals we admire lobbied passionately for its inclusion." ) and seed them into a competitive bracket—the kind you see in the N.C.A.A. basketball championship. Seventeen judges are enlisted throughout several rounds of competition, with each arbiter considering two books and advancing one. In this way, a pool of 16 books becomes eight, eight becomes four, four becomes two, and two becomes one, The Rooster, Champion Book of the Year.

Each weekday in March, two books go head to head, with a judge explaining in detail how he or she has chosen one of them to advance to the next round. Unlike other book awards, judges are asked to come clean about how they made their decision, their literary biases and reading preferences, their personal and professional conflicts and affiliations.

Fans and readers can also participate and help decide the outcome. Read how, as well as find out who the judges are and other contest details here.

The 2011 contenders:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender
Nox, by Anne Carson
Bad Marie, by Marcy Dermansky
Room, by Emma Donoghue
A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
Lord of Misrule, by Jaimy Gordon
Bloodroot, by Amy Greene
Next, by James Hynes
The Finkler Question, by Howard Jacobson
Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray
Model Home, by Eric Puchner
So Much for That, by Lionel Shriver
Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart
Kapitoil, by Teddy Wayne
Savages, by Don Winslow

TC Tidbits:Red Riding Hood:No Longer A Children's Story

The tale of Little Red Riding Hood has existed for 700 years. The earliest known printed version was found in a 1697 story collection by French fantasy author Charles Perrault. . (via GalleyCat)

Red Riding Hood

A Gothic imagining of the classic fairy tale with a teenage love story at its core, the film "Red Riding Hood" from Warner Bros Pictures, directed by Catherine Hardwicke ("Twilight") and starring Amanda Seyfried ("Mamma Mia") opens in theaters on March 11.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Debut Thriller Already Catching A Lot of Readers Eyes

One day, Charlie Giles is an up-and-coming electronics superstar. The next, he's a prime homicide suspect as his former employers are picked off one by one. Charlie watches his life unravel as his company and inventions are wrenched from his control, and his family is decimated. With nowhere else to turn, he enlists his schizophrenic brother to uncover the dark family secrets that lie at the heart of the unfolding terror. Delirious is a mind-bending story where the line between what is real and what is imagined twists and addictive literary puzzle that every reader will want to solve.

Jackie says:
"If the name sounds familiar, it should. Daniel is best selling novelist Michael Palmer's son. Apparently talent runs in the Palmer genes, because "Delirious" is as white knuckled a thriller as ever there was one. It's actually a techno-thriller that rings very true--Palmer was a pioneering e-commerce website developer, so he knows of which he writes. The main character, Charlie, is a hot shot computer guy who has just merged his small company with a huge one and is set to hit the big leagues in a very short time. He's also an ass with no patience and no mercy for anyone. But all of that changes in the space of just a few days, and Charlie finds himself wanted for murder and questioning his own sanity as he stumbles over more and more layers of the complex plot and things make less and less sense to him and the reader. There is no one to trust and no such thing as reliable truth throughout this page-turner, right up to the breathtaking end. You'll never look at a car computer the same way again."

New Releases That Will Make Your Heart Pound

Tick Tock

NYC's #1 detective, Michael Bennett, has a huge problem--the Son of Sam, the Werewolf of Wisteria and the Mad Bomber are all back. The city has never been more terrified!

Tick--a killer's countdown begins

A rash of horrifying crimes tears through the city, throwing it into complete chaos and terrorizing everyone living there. Immediately, it becomes clear that they are not the work of an amateur, but of a calculating, efficient, and deadly mastermind.

Tick--Michael Bennett is on the chase

The city calls on Detective Michael Bennett, pulling him away from a seaside retreat with his ten adopted children, his grandfather, and their beloved nanny, Mary Catherine. Not only does it tear apart their vacation, it leaves the entire family open to attack.

Tock--your time is up

Bennett enlists the help of a former colleague, FBI Agent Emily Parker. As his affection for Emily grows into something stronger, his relationship with Mary Catherine takes an unexpected turn. All too soon, another appalling crime leads Bennett to a shocking discovery that exposes the killer's pattern and the earth-shattering enormity of his plan. From the creator of the #1 New York detective series comes the most volatile and most explosive Michael Bennett novel ever.

The Cypress House

A journey to Florida's coast becomes an inescapable nightmare in the newest supernatural thriller from international bestseller Michael Koryta.

Arlen Wagner has seen it in men before--a trace of smoke in their eyes that promises imminent death. He is never wrong.

When Arlen awakens on a train one hot Florida night and sees death's telltale sign in the eyes of his fellow passengers, he tries to warn them. Only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape certain death. They continue south, but soon are stranded at the Cypress House--an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady--directly in the path of an approaching hurricane.

The storm isn't the only approaching danger, though. A much deadlier force controls the county and everyone living in it, and Arlen wants out--fast. But Paul refuses to abandon Rebecca to face the threats alone, even though Arlen's eerie gift warns that if they stay too long they may never leave. From its chilling beginning to terrifying end, The Cypress House is a story of relentless suspense from "one of the best of the best" (Michael Connelly).


From New York Times bestseller John Lescroart comes an explosive look at the seductive power of revenge and the terrible costs of justice.

The Curtlees are the most powerful family in San Francisco, unscrupulous billionaires who ve lined every important pocket in the Bay Area in pursuit of their own ascent. So when the family's heir, Ro Curtlee, was convicted of rape and murder a decade ago, the fallout for those who helped to bring him to justice was swift and uncompromising. The jury foreman was fired from his job and blacklisted in his industry. The lead prosecutor was pushed off the fast track, her dreams of becoming DA dashed. And head homicide detective Abe Glitsky was reassigned to the police department s payroll office. Eventually, all three were able to rebuild their fragile, damaged lives.

And then Ro Curtlee's lawyers won him a retrial, and he was released from jail.
Within twenty-four hours, a fire destroys the home of the original trial's star witness, her abused remains discovered in the ruins. When a second fire claims a participant in the case, Abe is convinced: Ro is out for revenge. But with no hard evidence and an on-the-take media eager to vilify anyone who challenges Ro, can Abe stop the violence before he finds himself in its crosshairs? How much more can he sacrifice to put Ro back behind bars? And just how far across the line is he prepared to go in pursuit of justice?

Gideon's War

Howard Gordon—the longtime executive producer of the hit TV series 24—makes his fiction debut with a tale of political intrigue and international terrorism. Gideon Davis has just 48 hours to bring his rogue agent brother in—before a twisted global conspiracy turns deadly.

GIDEON DAVIS, whose behind-the-scenes negotiating skills have earned him the role of peacemaker in conflicts around the globe, knows more about hush-hush discussions in Capitol corridors than he does about hand-to-hand combat. But his more practical, tactical skills come into play when he’s called on by family friend and government bigwig Earl Parker to chaperone a rogue agent from Southeast Asia to D.C. The agent, Tillman Davis, has promised to turn himself in— but only to his brother, Gideon.

Although the two brothers have been estranged for years, Gideon cannot fathom how his brother could have turned into so ruthless a man. But when the plan for Tillman’s surrender goes awry and Earl Parker is taken hostage, Gideon is forced to embrace his dark side in order to evade hostile locals in war-torn Mohan to make his way to the Obelisk—the multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art oil rig that has been seized by terrorists led by Tillman himself. It is with the help of oil rig manager Kate Murphy that Gideon launches an unlikely one-man rescue.

TC Tidbits: Free Documentary about H.P. Lovecraft Available Online

From SnagFilms:
“H.P. Lovecraft was the forefather of modern horror fiction having inspired such writers as Stephen King, Robert Bloch and Neil Gaiman. The influence of his Cthulhu mythos can be seen in film (Re-animator, Hellboy, and Alien), games (The Call of Cthulhu role playing enterprise), music (Metallica, Iron Maiden) and pop culture in general.

But what led an Old World, xenophobic gentleman to create one of literature’s most far-reaching mythologies? What attracts even the minds of the 21st century to these stories of unspeakable abominations and cosmic gods?

LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN is a chronicle of the life, work and mind that created these weird tales as told by many of today’s luminaries of dark fantasy including John Carpenter (The Thing), Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), Neil Gaiman (Coraline), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), Caitlin Kiernan (“Daughter of Hounds”) and Peter Straub (“Ghost Story”).”

A preview:

Watch more free documentaries

Watch the whole movie.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dispatches from the Field: Joe Dives Beneath the Surface of This Debut Novel

Thirty years ago, Martin Owenby came to New York City with dreams of becoming a writer. Now his existence revolves around cheap Scotch and weekend flings with equally damaged men. When he learns that his older brother, Leon, has gone missing, he must return to the Owenby farm in Solace Fork, North Carolina, to assist in the search. But that means facing a past filled with regrets, the family that never understood him, the girl whose heart he broke, and the best friend who has faithfully kept the home fires burning. As the mystery surrounding Leon's disappearance deepens, so too does the weight of decades-long unresolved differences and unspoken feelings—forcing Martin to deal with the hardest lessons about home, duty, and love.

Read Newton's blog to learn where the story idea came from.

Joe says:

"Heather Newton's debut novel takes place in the mountains of North Carolina, between the 1950's and 1980's. At the surface it is the story of what happens to a family when one of their own goes missing. Luckily for the reader, this book is not only about the surface. The story is told from the points of view of several characters, and Newton is a master at teasing the story out slowly, deliciously. If one character could be called the main character, it is Martin Owenby, who left this mountain community for college and then New York City. He left town for the promise of better things: a writing career, the chance to be gay. He never intended to return. But things did not work out the way he had hoped: he spends his infrequent earnings mostly on booze and reluctantly returns home when his family needs his support while they search for their missing brother, Leon.

Told in the present (the late 1980's) and the past, Newton weaves a rather tight and intriguing story. There are twists and turns and surprising revelations, told in a way that reminded me of hearing a story around a campfire. Only we are privy to the storyteller's thoughts, as well. The story has an otherworldly current to it that took me by surprise. Often while reading a story told from multiple points of view, I find myself skimming one or another character's storylines, but here each voice is strong and unique and likable in their own ways. In the tale of the Owenby clan, Newton has created a hard-to-put-down, and equally hard-to-forget story."

You aren't getting enough Joe here on BTC? Then check out his blog From The City to the Country.

Wendy's Window: Recommendations for Book Clubs

The Kings of Colorado
William Sheppard had never ventured beyond his Chicago neighborhood until, at thirteen, he was sent away to the Swope Ranch Boys' Reformatory, hundreds of miles from home, for stabbing his abusive father in the chest with a pocketknife. Buried deep in the Colorado mountains, Swope is shrouded in legend and defined by one prevailing rumor: that the boys who go in never come out the same.

Despite the lack of fences or gates, the boundaries are clear: prisoners are days from civilization, there exists only one accessible road—except in the wintertime, when it's buried under feet upon feet of snow, and anyone attempting escape will be shot down without hesitation in the shadow of the peaks. At 13,000 feet above sea level, the mountains aren't forgiving, and neither are the guards.

With twenty-four months of hard time ahead of him, Will quickly learns to distinguish his allies from his enemies. He also learns about the high price of a childhood lost. At Swope, herds of mustangs are trucked in to be broken by a select group of inmates. Once the horses are gentled, they are sold to ranchers and landowners across the Southwest. Horses come and go, delinquent boys come and go. The boys break the horses, Swope Reformatory breaks the boys. Throughout this ordeal, Will discovers three others who bring him into their inner circle. They are life preservers in a sea of violence and corruption. But if the boys are to withstand the ranch, they must first overcome tragedy and death—a feat that could haunt them for years to come.

The Mistress of Nothing
When Lady Duff Gordon, paragon of London society, departs for the hot, dry climate of Egypt to seek relief from her debilitating tuberculosis, her lady's maid, Sally, doesn't hesitate to leave the only world she has known in order to remain at her mistress's side. As Sally gets farther and farther from home, she experiences freedoms she has never known—forgoing corsets and wearing native dress, learning Arabic, and having her first taste of romance.

But freedom is a luxury that a lady's maid can ill afford, and when Sally's newfound passion for life causes her to forget what she is entitled to, she is brutally reminded she is mistress of nothing. Ultimately she must choose her master and a way back home—or a way to an unknown future.

Based on the real lives of Lady Duff Gordon and her maid, The Mistress of Nothing is a lush, erotic, and compelling story about the power of race, class, and love.

A Special Relationship
"About an hour after I met Tony Hobbs, he saved my life."

Thirty-seven-year-old American journalist Sally Goodchild quite literally married her hero. Both foreign correspondents, both on assignment in Cairo, they quickly fell in love and settled into domestic life in London. From the outset, Sally's relationship with both Tony and his hometown was an uneasy one—as she found both to be far more unfamiliar than imagined. But her adjustment problems are soon overshadowed by a troubled pregnancy. When she goes into premature labor, there are doubts whether her child will survive unscathed. And then, out of nowhere, Sally is hit by an appalling postpartum depression—a descent into a temporary, but very personal hell, which even sees her articulating a homicidal thought against her baby. However, when she does manage to extricate herself from this desperate state, she finds herself in a fresh new nightmare, as she discovers that the man she thought knew her better than anyone—loved her more than anyone—now considers her an unfit mother and wants to bar her from ever seeing her child again.

The Aloha Quilt
Another season of Elm Creek Quilt Camp has come to a close, and Bonnie Markham faces a bleak and lonely winter ahead, with her quilt shop out of business and her divorce looming. A welcome escape comes when Claire, a beloved college friend, unexpectedly invites her to Maui to help launch an exciting new business: a quilter's retreat set at a bed and breakfast amid the vibrant colors and balmy breezes of the Hawaiian Islands. Soon Bonnie finds herself looking out on sparkling waters and banyan trees, planning quilting courses, and learning the history and intricacies of Hawaiian quilting, all the while helping Claire run the inn.

As Bonnie's adventure unfolds, it quickly becomes clear that Claire's new business isn't the only excitement in store for her. Her cheating, soon-to-be ex-husband decides he wants her stake in Elm Creek Quilts, which threatens not only her financial well-being but her dearest friendships as well. Luckily she has the artistic challenge of creating her own unique Hawaiian quilt pattern to distract her—and new friends like Hinano Paoa, owner of the NÄ Mele Hawai'i Music Shop, who introduces Bonnie to the fascinating traditions of Hawaiian culture and reminds her that love can be found when and where you least expect it.

"I am a woman built upon the wreckage of myself."
In an emotionally raw voice alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor, a woman mourns the loss of her husband and son at the hands of one of history's most notorious criminals. And in appealing to their executioner, she reveals the desperate sadness of a broken heart and a working-class life blown apart.

God Sleeps in Rwanda
Joseph Sebarenzi's parents, seven siblings, and countless other family members were among 800,000 Tutsi brutally murdered over the course of ninety days in 1994 by extremist Rwandan Hutu—an efficiency that exceeded even that of the Nazi Holocaust. His father sent him away to school in Congo as a teenager, telling him, "If we are killed, you will survive." When Sebarenzi returned to Rwanda after the genocide, he was elected speaker of parliament, only to be forced into a daring escape again when he learned he was the target of an assassination plot.

Poetic and deeply moving, God Sleeps in Rwanda shows us how the lessons of Rwanda can prevent future tragedies from happening all over the world. Readers will be inspired by the eloquence and wisdom of a man who has every right to be bitter and hateful but chooses instead to live a life of love, compassion, and forgiveness.

TC Tidbit: Best Mysteries of 2010 Literary Mix Tape

From the folks at
Galley Cat

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meet the Author Tonight!

Reminiscent of Raymond Carver and Tim O'Brien, an unforgettable collection of intercollected short stories.

In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life.

There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas. Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families-intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians' speeches.

When you leave Fort Hood, the sign above the gate warns, You've Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming. It is eerily prescient.

Fallon will be reading from and signing her book tonight at 7:30 at our Colfax Store.

One Person Can Make a Difference

In search of adventure, twenty-nine-year-old Conor Grennan traded his day job for a year-long trip around the globe, a journey that began with a three-month stint volunteering at the Little Princes Children’s Home, an orphanage in war-torn Nepal.

Conor was initially reluctant to volunteer, unsure whether he had the proper skill, or enough passion, to get involved in a developing country in the middle of a civil war. But he was soon overcome by the herd of rambunctious, resilient children who would challenge and reward him in a way that he had never imagined. When Conor learned the unthinkable truth about their situation, he was stunned: The children were not orphans at all. Child traffickers were promising families in remote villages to protect their children from the civil war—for a huge fee—by taking them to safety. They would then abandon the children far from home, in the chaos of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.

For Conor, what began as a footloose adventure becomes a commitment to reunite the children he had grown to love with their families, but this would be no small task. He would risk his life on a journey through the legendary mountains of Nepal, facing the dangers of a bloody civil war and a debilitating injury. Waiting for Conor back in Kathmandu, and hopeful he would make it out before being trapped in by snow, was the woman who would eventually become his wife and share his life’s work.

Little Princes is a true story of families and children, and what one person is capable of when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. At turns tragic, joyful, and hilarious, Little Princes is a testament to the power of faith and the ability of love to carry us beyond our wildest expectations.

Learn more about Next Generation Nepal.

Meet the author next week! Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 7:30 pm at our Historic Lodo Store!

TC Tidbits: Inside the Deathly Hallows animation

from our friends at i09

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Now a Quick Word from John W. and Lucas

John W. really recommends:

My Thoughts Be Bloody by Nora Titone, an amazing history of the Booth family, including John Wilkes. It describes the tragic life of Junius Booth, the patriarch, one of America's first "stars", and his star-crossed family. Anyone interested in the
Lincoln assassination will find fresh insight into Booth's life and motivation. Anyone at all into American history will experience the 19th-century springing alive from the pages of this well-written book.

--John W.

Lucas recently read and offers high praise for:

I found Freedom by Jonathan Franzen particularly interesting because it's a novel set during the time period I grew up in. The characters live in the same world we live in and are dealing with the same issues that we're dealing with. The book is a good snapshot of American culture during the 1990's and post-9/11. Modern issues like divorce and the decay of the nuclear family, partisan American politics, and other political/environmental issues are highlighted in Franzen's story. Franzen's writing is excellent throughout the novel. There is no doubt in my mind that this novel will be a standard read for future generations when they learn about American literature and culture during the decades surrounding the beginning of the 21st century.


Celebrating 40 Years of NPR

This Is NPR
"Always put the listener first" has been NPR's mantra since its inception in 1970. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, NPR's programming attracts over 27 million listeners every week. This beautifully designed volume chronicles NPR's storied history, featuring dozens of behind-the-scenes photos, essays and original reporting by a who's who of NPR staff and correspondents, transcripts of memorable interviews, and an audio CD of the most memorable programming throughout the decades. Beyond an entertaining and inspiring tribute to NPR's remarkable history, this book is an intimate look at the news and stories that have shaped our world, from the people who were on the ground and on the air. With contributions from Steve Inskeep, Neal Conan, Robert Siegel, Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer, Scott Simon, Melissa Block, P.J. O'Rourke, David Sedaris, Sylvia Poggioli, Paula Poundstone, and many more, this is the perfect book for any NPR supporter, fan, or devotee.

NPR:The First 40 Years
NPR was created in 1970, three years after Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act and established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Signing the act into law, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, "We in America have an appetite for excellence . . . we want most of all to enrich man's spirit." Today NPR produces and distributes programming that reaches more than 26 million listeners weekly. More than 900 stations nationwide broadcast NPR programming. From the turmoil of the Vietnam era to a delightful visit with the riotously funny Dame Edna Everage, join hosts Susan Stamberg (1970s), Noah Adams (1980s), Renee Montagne (1990s), and Guy Raz (2000s) for an unforgettable journey through the first forty years of NPR. This commemorative collection overflows with thought-provoking commentaries, award-winning journalism and humor from the public radio programs that have become an essential part of our lives: "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition," "Weekend Edition," "Tell Me More," "Fresh Air" and much more.
Aziz Ansari, David Sedaris, Chris Rock, Dame Edna, Terry Gross, Little Richard, Red Barber, Ira Glass, Car Talk's Tom and Ray Magliozzi, and many more.

Word of Mouth
Starting in 1995, NPR’s All Things Considered began presenting poets reading their own works. Introduced by “poetry DJ” Catherine Bowman, these popular short segments allowed listeners to experience poetry as a kind of verbal music, recalling its roots as a spoken art form. Word of Mouth, edited by Bowman, brings together the poems that have been featured on NPR, providing a window onto the dynamic contemporary poetry scene. A child playing with flashes of sunlight in the aisle of an airplane; a woman describing tropical fruit to someone in a faraway country; a man building a deck with his dead father’s hammer; the musings of a Barbie doll participating in a 12-step program: these poems powerfully and lyrically transform the stuff of every day life. A celebration of the poetic voice that includes 33 acclaimed writers, this vibrant anthology proves beyond any doubt that poetry is far more than just words on paper.

Quincy Troupe • Czeslaw Milosz • Campbell McGrath • C.D. Wright • Jack Gilbert • Heather McHugh • David Lehman • Wang Ping • Joseph Brodsky • Paul Beatty • Lorna Dee Cervantes • Paul Muldoon • Lucille Clifton • Naomi Shihab Nye • Richard Blanco • Albert Goldbarth • Carrie Allen McCray • Belle Waring • Russell Edson • Kevin Young • Nuali Di Dhomhnaill • Charles Harper Webb • Denise Duhamel • Yusef Komunyakaa • Hal Sirowitz • Lucia Perillo • Amy Gerstler • Maura Stanton • Marilyn Chin • Philip Booth • Jane Cooper • Diane DiPrima • Elizabeth Spires

NPR Funniest Driveway Moments
Selected from the National Public Radio archives, these stories by some of NPR's favorite commentators will keep listeners laughing.

A "driveway moment" is when you're so captivated by a story on NPR that you stay in your car to hear it to the end—even if you're sitting in your own driveway. Some are serious, some are touching, and some, like the stories included here, are very, very funny.

Literate, intelligent, and droll, each tale is worth hearing again and again, and now you don't have to stay in your car.

NPR Funniest Driveway Moments includes stories and interviews from your favorite NPR commentators and guests such as David Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Dame Edna, Larry David, Darryl Littleton, Justice Stephen Breyer, Jonathan Winters, Phyllis Diller, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, and more.

TC Tidbits: It's Thank Your Mentor Day

Our friends at are helping us celebrate by creating a list of famous literary mentorships.

Learn more about National Mentoring Month.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Guest Blogger Tiernan McKay Shares Her Q&A With Author Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen's work has been published in People, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New Republic, The Baltimore Sun, Reader's Digest, and Washingtonian, among others. She writes a monthly Erma Bombeck type column for Bethesda Magazine, and has been an on-air contributor to NPR and E! Entertainment's "Gossip Show." She is the winner of a Dateline award and the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship. Sarah lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and three young sons.

Not long ago, I was sitting in the Charlotte airport, en route to Gainesville, desperate for sleep after a very uncomfortable red eye from Denver. My exhausted body was telling me to curl up under a bench, pull my sweater over my head and sleep for a precious few minutes. But my restless mind wouldn't allow it. I only had one more chapter left in Sarah Pekkanen's new book, Skipping a Beat and I had to finish before I could ever think about sleeping.

I found this follow-up to Pekkanen's first novel, The Opposite of Me, to be realistic, emotional and completely irresistible. I recently caught up with Pekkanen for an insightful Q&A.

TM: Describe some of the emotions you felt birthing this book after the great success of The Opposite of Me.

SP: A number of readers have asked if this book is a sequel to The Opposite of Me but it isn't - the storyline and characters are new. Yet there are some similarities. In both books, I wrote about women who are faced with a sudden choice: Stay in their current lives or move into an entirely new sort of life? Julia Dunhill, the protagonist of Skipping a Beat, must make that decision after her husband has a near-death experience and wants to change everything about their marriage. She has three weeks to decide whether to stay with him, or leave.

For me personally, there's a jumble of emotions as this book goes out into the world. I'm excited, nervous and hopeful. So many readers and book bloggers greeted The Opposite of Me warmly, and I hope they feel the same way about
Skipping a Beat!

TM: I love how you touch on the difficulty of marriage in such a realistic way. The tension isn't over dramatic...its believable and honest. How are you hoping readers will respond to this relationship?

SP: Thank you! I wanted to show the complexity of a marriage by having Julia look back at the moments, both big and small, that shaped her relationship with her husband Michael. As she decides whether to move forward with him, she needs to look back. So I wove in scenes from their past to show how complicated their life together has become, and to reveal why Julia feels so conflicted. But there are two sides to every story - so even though everything is unfolding from Julia's point of view, it's not necessarily the complete picture. She, like readers of the book, discovers how much more there is to the story of her marriage.

TM: Some of the messages I love: The brevity of life and the power of perspective. Can you briefly speak to each?

SP: Having young children makes me realize that life is short; all the cliches about how quickly they grow are cliches for a reason - they're true. I hope it doesn't sound sappy, but at a time when there are so many competing demands for our attention, and so many external stressors in life, I try to remind myself that love is the most important thing in this world.
For me, perspective is fluid. It changes based on new information - and I wanted to convey that through Julia's story. She thought she knew her husband better than anyone; she had the story of their marriage engraved in her own mind. But everything changed for her during the three weeks encompassed by my book.

Sarah loves connecting with her readers on Facebook, where she does frequent book giveaways, so find her there or at Skipping a Beat will be available in February. Enjoy!


Less in the New More

Live More, Want Less
Live More, Want Less gives readers a user-friendly nonjudgmental approach to simplifying their lives. Covering themes like shopping addictions, procrastination, and more, Carlomagno's "been there, done that" approach reassures readers that greater clarity can be gained by voluntarily living with less.

The New Frugality
As a once-in-a-lifetime downturn deepens, our go-go economy has become an uh-oh economy. But as trusted finance reporter Chris Farrell explains, there’s a silver lining to this cloud: It is accelerating a trend already under way in America toward what he calls the New Frugality—a fresh way of thinking about how, what, and why we consume. In today’s economy, a “sustainable” lifestyle isn’t just one that’s good for the planet—it’s one that is based around core values and one that sustains your bank balance as well. In this friendly, approachable book, Farrell explains both the theory and the practice of living frugally. Frugality, he reminds us, does not mean old-fashioned penny-pinching. It means spending your money on quality rather than quantity—buying the best you can afford but the least you need. Drawing on his expertise as a financial reporter and his years of conversations with his public radio listeners, he provides down-to-earth, practical advice for every aspect of your financial life, including: • how to always maintain a “margin of safety” in your spending
• the frugal home: renting vs. owning
• the two best ways to save for college
• wise debt vs. foolish debt
• why giving your money away can be “newly frugal”

The New Frugality
amounts to a paradigm shift in the way we spend and save. The good news is, a frugal lifestyle is one of less waste, lower environmental impact, greater peace of mind, and, over the long run, deeper satisfaction.

The 100 Thing Challenge
An ordinary man's inspiring journey toward a simpler, more meaningful life.

In 2008, average American family man Dave Bruno decided to unhook himself from the intravenous drip of consumerism that fueled his life by winnowing all his personal possessions down to just 100 things. Little did he realize that he would be igniting a grassroots movement--soon after Dave embarked on his journey, media around the world took notice and others started to follow his lead.

A cause for pause, The 100 Thing Challenge is a response to the culture of materialism in America, one that has filled our lives with the constant and unsatisfactory desire for more. Dave Bruno offers compelling anecdotes and practical advice to help readers live more meaningfully, simply by casting off the unnecessary stuff that clutters their lives. The 100 Thing Challenge is a golden opportunity to experience the positive changes that occur as you defiantly hop off the treadmill of consumerism.

Lighten Up

It seems as though not a day goes by that we don’t think about money. We cut back on spending. We chase a bargain. We try to save more. We strive to use less credit. We worry about funding our retirement and our children’s education. Yet we continue to spend money on things that don’t matter. Peter Walsh knows that money and debt can overwhelm your life even faster than clutter, and he has a plan to help you deal with that emotional and financial chaos. Peter’s previous bestselling books inspired us to successfully evict the clutter in our homes, on our bodies, and in six key areas of our lives. But for many people, clearing the clutter suddenly exposes deeper issues—financial, physical, and emotional. Sometimes our problems are not really about the physical stuff but about the emotional fabric of our lives—from our relationships with money to our relationships with people and even how we define and find happiness.

In Lighten Up, Peter demonstrates that this reassessment of priorities is a great opportunity to examine our lives and circumstances and to make the changes necessary to focus on the things that really matter. Exploring the real source of happiness, Peter offers a clear strategy for finding the delicate balance between what we have, what we need, and what we want or feel entitled to. With three unique audits that cover every aspect of our well-being, he takes us step by step through sizing up not just our possessions and financial statements but also our thoughts, goals, use of time and energy, and even our innermost sources of tension. He then shows us how to embrace the changes we’ve experienced, set a new path for the future, and come to accept that living on less can feel—and be—so much richer.

Throw Out Fifty Things

"Our lives are so filled with junk from the past-from dried up tubes of glue to old grudges-that it's a wonder we can get up in the morning," exclaims motivator, best-selling author, columnist, and life coach Gail Blanke.

"If you want to grow, you gotta let go," is Blanke's mantra; and that means eliminating all the clutter-physical and emotional-that holds you back, weighs you down, or just makes you feel bad about yourself.

In Throw Out Fifty Things she takes us through each room of the house-from the attic to the garage-and even to the far reaches of our minds. Through poignant and humorous stories, she inspires us to get rid of the "life plaque" we've allowed to build-up there.

  • That junk drawer (you know that drawer) in the kitchen? Empty it!
  • Those old regrets? Throw 'em out!
  • That make-up from your "old" look? Toss it!
  • That relationship that depresses you? Dump it!

Once you've hit fifty-you'll be surprised how easy it is to get there-and once you've thrown out that too-tight belt and too-small view of yourself, you'll be ready to step out into the clearing and into the next, and greatest, segment of your life.

Toss, Keep, Sell

The American house is one cluttered place. Frugal folks need to get their homes in order "and" find ways to make money from the junk they no longer need or want. That's where this book comes in!

Organized by rooms of the house and tasks of the day, this book becomes a veritable clutter checklist. Each chapter in this reader-friendly guide features:

  • Cashing In: A profile of everyday people who have earned big while clearing out
  • Quick Clutter Challenge: Easy ways for you to declutter a space in thirty minutes or less
  • A Keep, Toss, Sell Chart: A visual organizer to help get every room of the house under control
  • Cash Back in This Chapter: What better way to motivate you than to point out potential earnings from one chapter's worth of tips?

You can forget paying big bucks for a professional organizer. With Leah Ingram as your guide, you'll have extra money--and a home you can be proud of--in no time!