Sunday, March 31, 2013

Remember, Poetry Month Begins Tomorrow!

For this companion to her New York Times best-selling collection A Family of Poems, Caroline Kennedy has hand-selected more than a hundred of her favorite poems that lend themselves to memorization. Some are joyful. Some are sad. Some are funny and lighthearted. Many offer layers of meaning that reveal themselves only after the poem has been studied so closely as to be learned by heart.

In issuing the challenge to memorize great poetry, Caroline Kennedy invites us to a deeply enriching experience. For as she reminds us, “If we learn poems by heart, not only do we have their wisdom to draw on, we also gain confidence, knowledge and understanding that no one can take away.”

Illustrated with gorgeous, original watercolor paintings by award-winning artist Jon J Muth , this is truly a book for all ages, and one that families will share again and again. Caroline’s thoughtful introductions shed light on the many ways we can appreciate poetry, and the special tradition of memorizing and reciting poetry that she celebrates within her own family.

“An exciting reminder of how Vatican machinations continue to haunt history.” — Kirkus Reviews

A conspiracy within the Vatican—to stop an outspoken Pope

In 1938, Pope Pius XI was the world's most prominent critic of Hitler and his rhetoric of ethnic "purity." To make his voice heard, Pius called upon a relatively unknown American Jesuit whose writing about racism in America had caught the Pope's attention. Pius enlisted John LaFarge to write a papal encyclical—the Vatican's strongest decree—publicly condemning Hitler, Mussolini, and their murderous Nazi campaign against the Jews.

At the same time conservative members of the Vatican's innermost circle were working in secret to suppress the document. Chief among them was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, whose appeasement of the Germans underlay a deep-running web of conspiracy. Pacelli, who would become Pope Pius XII, was joined by Wlodimir Ledóchowski, leader of the Jesuit order, to keep the finished encyclical from reaching the increasingly ill Pope.

Peter Eisner, award-winning reporter and author of the critically acclaimed The Freedom Line, combines shocking new evidence (released only recently from Vatican archives) and eyewitness testimony to create a compelling journey into the heart of the Vatican and a little-known story of an American's partnership with the head of the Catholic Church. For years, only parts of this story have been known. Eisner offers a new interpretation of this historic event and the powerful figures at its center in an essential work that provides thoughtful insight and raises controversial questions impacting our own time. A truly essential work, it brings staggering new light to one of the most critical junctures in modern history.

TC Tidbit: You Could Have a Literary Thumb (print)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Kate Atkinson is a marvel. There aren't enough breathless adjectives to describe Life After Life: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound. Wildly inventive, deeply felt. Hilarious. Humane. Simply put: It's one of the best novels I've read this century." --Gillian Flynn, author of "Gone Girl"

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she?

Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.

Read an interview with the author HERE.

Reads That Will Get Your Heart Rate Up

A moving and suspenseful, Lisa Ballantyne’s The Guilty One is a psychological journey about the darkness in all of us that explores how we are all tied to our pasts, and what it means to be guilty.

Solicitor Daniel Hunter is called to defend 11-year-old Sebastian, charged with the murder of a young boy on a London playground. While examining Sebastian’s life in order to save it, Daniel can’t help but be transported to his own difficult youth spent in foster care and how the one he trusted the most was the one who betrayed him…

Emotionally wrought, with an abundance of twists and, The Guilty One is a character-driven psychological novel that explores the true nature of guilt.

Evoking Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Dan Schultz tells the extraordinary true story of desperado survivalists, a brutal murder, and vigilante justice set against the harsh backdrop of the Colorado wilderness

On a sunny May morning in 1998 in Cortez, Colorado, three desperados in a stolen truck opened fire on the town cop, shooting him twenty times; then they blasted their way past dozens of police cars and disappeared into 10,000 square miles of the harshest wilderness terrain on the North American continent. Self-trained survivalists, the outlaws eluded the most sophisticated law enforcement technology on the planet and a pursuit force that represented more than seventy-five local, state, and federal police agencies with dozens of swat teams, U.S. Army Special Forces, and more than five hundred officers from across the country.

Dead Run is the first in-depth account of this sensational case, replete with overbearing local sheriffs, Native American trackers, posses on horseback, suspicion of vigilante justice and police cover-ups, and the blunders of the nation’s most exalted crime-fighters pursuing outlaws into territory in which only they could survive.

You have never met an (ex) FBI agent like Brigid Quinn

“Keeping secrets, telling lies, they require the same skill. Both become a habit, almost an addiction, that’s hard to break even with the people closest to you, out of the business. For example, they say never trust a woman who tells you her age; if she can’t keep that secret, she can’t keep yours. I’m fifty-nine.”

Brigid Quinn's experiences in hunting sexual predators for the FBI have left her with memories she wishes she didn’t have and lethal skills she hopes never to need again. Having been pushed into early retirement by events she thinks she's put firmly behind her, Brigid keeps telling herself she is settling down nicely in Tucson with a wonderful new husband, Carlo, and their dogs.

But the past intervenes when a man named Floyd Lynch confesses to the worst unsolved case of Brigid’s career—the disappearance and presumed murder of her young protégée, Jessica. Floyd knows things about that terrible night that were never made public, and offers to lead the cops to Jessica's body in return for a plea bargain.

It should finally be the end of a dark chapter in Brigid’s life. Except…the new FBI agent on the case, Laura Coleman, thinks the confession is fake, and Brigid finds she cannot walk away from violence and retribution after all, no matter what the cost.

With a fiercely original and compelling voice, Becky Masterman's Rage Against the Dying marks the heart-stopping debut of a brilliant new thriller writer.

Genevieve has finally escaped the stressful demands of her sales job and achieved her dream: to leave London behind and begin a new life aboard a houseboat in Kent. Not many people know that she financed her fresh start by working weekends as a dancer at a less-than-reputable gentlemen's club called the Barclay, and she's determined to keep it that way. But on the night of her housewarming party the past intrudes when a body washes up beside the boat, and Genevieve recognizes the victim, a fellow dancer from the Barclay.

As the sanctuary of the marina is threatened, and Genevieve's life seems increasingly at risk, the story of how she came to be so out of her depth unfolds, and she discovers the hard way the real cost of mixing business with pleasure. . . .

"The book offers a different experience from the film since it can obviously go into much more detail," says Rob Zombie. "The book and the film really complement each other."

From the singular mind of horror maestro Rob Zombie comes a chilling plunge into a nightmare world where evil runs in the blood...


Heidi Hawthorne is a thirty-seven-year-old FM radio DJ and a recovering drug addict. Struggling with her newfound sobriety and creeping depression, Heidi suddenly receives an anonymous gift at the station-a mysteriously shaped wooden box branded with a strange symbol. Inside the box is a promotional record for a band that identifies themselves only as The Lords. There is no other information.
She decides to play it on the radio show as a joke, and the moment she does, horrible things begin to happen. The strange music awakens something evil in the town. Soon enough, terrifying murders begin to happen all around Heidi. Who are The Lords? What do they want?

As old bloodlines are awakened and the bodies start to pile up, only one thing seems certain: all hell is about to break loose.

TC Tidbit: Of Bookselling and Flying Pigs

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lisa C.'s a Big Fan of Melanie Benjamin's Books

"If you haven't read Melanie Benjamin's novels - put all of them on your to-read list. The Aviator's Wife is the story about Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her marriage to Charles Lindbergh.

It is fiction but Melanie researched it so well that when she weaves in historical details into the fiction - it is seamless. It is helpful there is an author's note at the back which explains what is fact and what is fiction, but don't read it until the end. She also offers a great reading list for additional information on the Lindberghs.

For me, it was the first time, other than reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea, that I felt like I sort of understood her. She and Charles had a complicated relationship, formed by cultural  mores of the time.  In spite of what seemed to be dictates for women of her era, she was fearless, attacked every opportunity to fly, to explore, to travel the world, survived the horrific family tragedy, and she raised her children mostly on her own. Anne grew into a woman who understood what she wanted from life. Benjamin's fictional telling of her story highlights the beauty, the tragedy and makes it a story how one fascinating woman lived with grace. She, like her husband, had faults, but I would like to believe she came to a realization on her own that people can change....well, some people. 

I love how Melanie highlights historical women in her stories. Alice I have Been about Alice Liddell (Louis Carrol's Alice), The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb - now this one. I love them all."

--Lisa C.

Attention Book Clubs: New Titles In Paperback

Click the cover to learn more about the book.


TC Tidbit: 7 Book Dedications That Basically Say "Screw You"

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lucas on Maupin

"If you've read any of the Tales of the City novels then you owe it to yourself to read this one. I would recommend reading this book even if you've only read one or two books in the series. This is a story about everybody's favorite 70's gay boy thirty years later. It's a sweet and heartfelt presentation of what it is like to be an aging gay man. Once the glamor of whitey-tighty contests, drag shows, and all the other aspects of young & fabulous gay life in 1970's San Francisco has worn off, what's left? In Michael Tolliver's case, what's left includes a second chance at love, his biological family (no matter what, you can't get rid of them!), his logical family (as opposed to his biological family, who has rejected his homosexuality), and of course the city itself.

This story is about Michael coming to terms with the meaning of these different aspects of his life and realizing what it really is to be a 'man.' This story is told from a first person point of view (Michael Tolliver's) unlike the rest of the "Tales..." novels. Reading this book will solidify Michael Tolliver's place as the most memorable character from the series (sorry, Mary Anne and Mrs. Madrigal)."


A New Trilogy Has Begun

Welcome to the wasteland

At fifteen,
the citizens of Prin marry.

At seventeen,
they reproduce.

And at nineteen,
they die.

Esther thinks there's more to life than toiling at the assignments—Harvesting, Gleaning, Excavating—day after day under the relentless sun, just hoping to make it to the next day.

She doesn't care that her best friend, a variant, is considered "the enemy." She doesn't care that Levi, who controls the Source, is the real enemy and might send his Taser boys after her if she makes one wrong move.
Then Caleb shows up. Could there be another way to fight for survival?

Browse inside the book HERE

TC Tidbit: 10 Books to Read While You Wait for ‘Game of Thrones’ to Come Back

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Jill is going to break your heart, but along the way make you glad you went with her. She has written a book that will haunt me for a long time - in the best way." --Dorothy Allison, author of "Bastard out of Carolina"

Jill McCorkle’s novel is alive with the daily triumphs and challenges of the residents and staff of Pine Haven Estates, a retirement facility now home to a good many of Fulton, North Carolina’s older citizens. Among them, third-grade teacher Sadie Randolph, who has taught every child in town and believes we are all eight years old in our hearts; Stanley Stone, once Fulton’s most prominent lawyer, now feigning dementia to escape life with his son; Marge Walker, the town’s self-appointed conveyor of social status who keeps a scrapbook of every local murder and heinous crime; and Rachel Silverman, recently widowed, whose decision to leave her Massachusetts home and settle in Fulton is a mystery to everyone but her.  C.J., the pierced and tattooed young mother who runs the beauty shop, and Joanna, the hospice volunteer who discovers that her path to a good life lies with helping folks achieve good deaths, are two of the staff on whom the residents depend.

McCorkle puts her finger on the pulse of every character’s strengths, weaknesses, and secrets.  And, as she connects their lives through their present circumstances, their pasts, and, in some cases, their deaths, she celebrates the blessings and wisdom of later life and infuses this remarkable novel with hope and laughter.

Cathy says:
"Jill McCorkle's Life After Life is a deeply satisfying and thought provoking novel. Pine Haven, a Retirement Community for the Next Chapter in Your Life is a microcosm through which McCorkle explores and honors the human experience. The residents, workers and friends of Pine Haven are young, old and middle aged, complicated, funny, dark and searching, generally looking at how to live their lives well.

The search for life's meaning and satisfying companionship doesn't end until life ends, and we bear witness to this in Life After Life. Joanna, a hospice worker brings love and dignity to the dying, Abby, a lonely child, abounds with light and energy, and is nurtured in return, and as the stories of the many characters are revealed the humanity of even those that seemed initially ridiculous comes through.

I was glad to spend time with the characters in this novel and take my hat off to Jill McCorkle for writing about the kind of place we ought and need to embrace and acknowledge as important to our aging society. And it was very entertaining!"

Of Siblings and Secrets

Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout’s “magnificent gift for humanizing characters.” Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature.

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

Read an interview with the author HERE

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.” (quote from the book)


New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family— which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother— he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

 You can view the book trailer HERE (sorry, for some technical reason or other we can't embed it here)

John Z. says:
"I picked this book off our cart in Lodo because I was compelled to by Atria's fabulous cover, which, as a fan of Lief Enger and Kent Haruf, absolutely spoke to me.  Krueger, as mystery fans may note, is the author of a dozen Cork O'Connor mysteries, and apparently has a slew of friends in that world, as Dennis Lehane and Lee Child are in line as enthusiastic spokespeople for this book.

This is a huge departure from Cork O'Connor that I could best pitch as a cross between Peace Like a River and Stand By Me.  There are numerous sub-plots woven into a rites of passage story of a thirteen year old boy, set against the backdrop of New Bremen, MN in 1961.  Without delving too far into the plot, which might trivialize Krueger's elegant and unpretentious prose style, suffice it to say that this book absolutely races to a somewhat unpredictable conclusion, save that the protagonist, Frank Drum, becomes a satisfyingly aware young adult amid the very powerful circumstanes that befall the town most especially his family.

It's a perfect recommend for people who read Kent Haruf's Benediction and are still thirsty six weeks afterward."

Come meet the author on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm at our Colfax Avenue Store.

Get the details HERE.

"Canny, seductive and utterly transfixing...A first novel with the strength and agility of a great cat leaping through rings of fire." --Booklist

An inventive and witty debut about a young man’s quest to become a writer and the misadventures in life and love that take him around the globe

From as early as he can remember, the hopelessly unreliable—yet hopelessly earnest—narrator of this ambitious debut novel has wanted to become a writer.

From the jazz clubs of Manhattan to the villages of Sri Lanka, Kristopher Jansma’s irresistible narrator will be inspired and haunted by the success of his greatest friend and rival in writing, the eccentric and brilliantly talented Julian McGann, and endlessly enamored with Julian’s enchanting friend, Evelyn, the green-eyed girl who got away. After the trio has a disastrous falling out, desperate to tell the truth in his writing and to figure out who he really is, Jansma’s narrator finds himself caught in a never-ending web of lies.

As much a story about a young man and his friends trying to make their way in the world as a profoundly affecting exploration of the nature of truth and storytelling, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards will appeal to readers of Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists and Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize–winning A Visit from the Goon Squad with its elegantly constructed exploration of the stories we tell to find out who we really are.

Kristopher Jansma has been named one of Flavorwire's "Up-and-Coming Culture Makers to Watch in 2013" and The Millions selected The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards as one their Most Anticipated Books of 2013

Come meet the author on Thursday,  April 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm at our Colfax Avenue store. 
Get the details HERE.

TC Tidbit: 20 Obsolete English Words That Should Make a Comeback

Monday, March 25, 2013

"A tremendous memoir of sisterhood, sister loss, family, and what (if anything) recovery really is... Beautiful & literary, 'Her' is haunting." --April

A blazingly passionate memoir of identity and love: when a charismatic and troubled young woman dies tragically, her identical twin must struggle to survive

Christa Parravani and her identical twin, Cara, were linked by a bond that went beyond siblinghood, beyond sisterhood, beyond friendship. Raised up from poverty by a determined single mother, the gifted and beautiful twins were able to create a private haven of splendor and merriment between themselves and then earn their way to a prestigious college and to careers as artists (a photographer and a writer, respectively) and to young marriages. But, haunted by childhood experiences with father figures and further damaged by being raped as a young adult, Cara veered off the path to robust work and life and in to depression, drugs and a shocking early death.

A few years after Cara was gone, Christa read that when an identical twin dies, regardless of the cause, 50 percent of the time the surviving twin dies within two years; and this shocking statistic rang true to her. "Flip a coin," she thought," those were my chances of survival." First, Christa fought to stop her sister's downward spiral; suddenly, she was struggling to keep herself alive.

Beautifully written, mesmerizingly rich and true, Christa Parravani's account of being left, one half of a whole, and of her desperate, ultimately triumphant struggle for survival is informative, heart-wrenching and unforgettably beautiful.

April says:
"It's not world or American history, but Christa Parravani brings her personal history unabashedly up to the plate in Her.

My pitch is this: if a twin dies, the surviving twin has a less than 50% chance of surviving the next three years.  The threat isn't just from suicide, but accidents, cancer, and the like all plague surviving twins.  Her is the story of Parravani's survival, by any definition.  And recovery--if it even exists.

While telling the reader her story of survival, Parravani seamlessly unites her sister's story, their story, into one of the most powerful narratives I've read in a long time.  Treading between their childhood to Cara's (Christa's twin) rape, through drug use and divorce, Her reinvents sisterhood into terms we can all understand.  And with a story that sticks with you."

Listen to the NPR interview with the author HERE.

Andrea P.'s Viking Recommendations

Andrea has fallen hard for the History Channel's "Vikings" (their first scripted series), so she's found a number of books on our shelves that will make great reading between episodes. (Just click the cover to learn more about the book.)

TC Tidbit: Beautiful Bookstores In Residential Spaces

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Epic Tale of the OG's (in this case, Original Grandparents) and Their Life Long Love

In a world of 72-day celebrity marriages, a 73-year marriage is nearly unimaginable. Against all odds, Cutie and Harry Cooper persevered through seven decades of marriage, enjoying triumphant milestones and enduring devastating losses, all while keeping their sense of humor and connection intact. Here, Cutie chronicles their story and extracts time-tested advice on how to know if you’ve met “the one,” the art of fighting fair, and everything else that goes into staying blissfully bonded. With vintage photos charting their relationship from newlyweds to nonagenarians, this nostalgic and romantic gift book is a practical resource for anyone who dreams of falling in love for life.
Cutie Cooper was happily married to her husband, Harry, for 73 years before he passed away in 2010. Her story has appeared in numerous newspapers, radio stories, and television programs. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Kim Cooper and Chinta Cooper are two of Cutie’s granddaughters. They live in Los Angeles, California.

Take a look inside the book HERE.

Take a look at the website HERE.

A Bittersweet Debut


Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she's the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

This debut author died of colon cancer before her book was published.  Her friends have rallied around the book just as they did the woman, and are promoting the novel as a group.  Read more about their efforts HERE.

TC Tidbit: What Happens When You Like Books More Than Anything Else In the Whole World