March 28, 2017 · 5:44 pm
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) reflects on the authors we’ve met or would like to meet.
Authors I’ve Met:
- Garrison Keillor. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to Garrison Keillor twice and each time has been a pleasure. I attended a concert Keillor gave at Wolf Trap and sent a couple of my books backstage to see if he’d sign them. After the show, a small group gathered by the stage door to retrieve our signed items and Keillor delivered them himself, taking a few minutes per person to engage us in conversation. Years later, a good friend and I attended a reading at the Nashville library by Keillor and I got to talk to him again. Just like the first time, Keillor took time with each of us to engage in conversation.
- Phillip Gulley. Gulley came for a reading at our local library and then signed books after the event. Like Keillor, Gulley took the time to engage in conversation with the people in line and not rush anyone aside to get to the next person.
- Peter David. I used to read every Star Trek tie-in novel that came out and Peter David’s were among the ones I looked forward to most. I’ve fallen behind on my Trek novels in the past several years, but I still go out of my way get the ones written by David. I met David at the only DragonCon I’ve attended. He signed a couple of my first edition favorite Trek novels, including Q-Squared.
- Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey. I’ve been to multiple book signings by the “two sexiest fat men alive.” I think I’ve got a full set of signed books by the duo.
- Ray Stevens. One of my favorite entertainers, I’ve wanted to see him in concert since I bought my first album on vinyl by him years ago. And while I haven’t ever seen him in concert, he did write a memoir. So, I met him there, bought an autographed copy and listened to him talk about his history with the Nashville music scene for an hour.
- J.P. Bauman. I spent several evenings working at the Tennesee State Fair last summer and Bauman’s booth was the one next to mine. Got a chance to meet him, hear his stories about writing and the chance to buy several autographed copies of his books.
Continue reading →
March 20, 2017 · 7:21 pm
For most of his life, Quentin Coldwater has used the Fillory (think Narnia) books to escape the doldrums of his everyday life. Now at the age of seventeen, Quentin has been given a chance he never dreamed he had — magic is real and he can become a magician.
Instead of heading to a mundane, normal college, he enlists at Brakebills, a university of magic and begins training. The one thing the books never included was that becoming a Magician is difficult, tedious work and nowhere nearly as exciting as depicted in the novels.
Lev Grossman’s The Magicians follows Quentin and a group of students during the course of their studies at Brakebill’s. Rather than having one book equal one year of Quentin’s life, we’re treated to the highlights of his magical training — from the semester spent in Antartica to the rather odd magical game played among his school and others. The episodic nature of Grossman’s novel ensures that Quentin and the reader never get entirely comfortable with how things are going, including when Quentin and his love interest Alice test out of some of the first year and are moved up to second year early. Continue reading →
March 17, 2017 · 4:00 pm
My first thought when I heard Marvel was producing a new series centering on Hawkeye was that it was a marketing thing to cash in on the heroes’ new-found popularity thanks to the cinematic universe.
But then I heard the buzz that there might be more to this than meets the eye. Add in that the new series is written by Matt Fraction, author of the brilliantly subversive Sex Criminals comic books and the series had my interest.
So when my local library got in the first collected edition of the new Hawkeye, I picked it up. Continue reading →
March 17, 2017 · 1:32 pm
For eight weeks in the fall of 1955, J. Ronald M. York’s father was held in a Miami jail on charges of sexual abuse of a minor. For those two months, York’s father and mother corresponded with each other with almost daily letters.
Close to sixty years later, York was cleaning out his parent’s garage after their passing and found a box with the letters and some press clippings about his father’s accusations and time in jail. York never knew about the time his father spent in jail and as he began to read the correspondence, he had some questions about that time in his family’s life.
Kept in the Dark is the story of that time in the life of the York family. York offers readers the context of the letters as well as the letters themselves. The book serves as an interesting memoir as well as the power of love, forgiveness, and understanding. It’s a powerful story that will not only make you think but also run the gamut of your emotions. Having this unique look into the heart and mind of York’s parents is what makes Kept in the Dark stand out from other memoirs on the market today.
In short, this is a compelling true story and one that is fully worth reading.
March 14, 2017 · 8:35 pm
After a hiatus, Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) is back!
And this week, we’re asked what books are we looking forward to reading this spring.
- The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
- A Gathering of Shadow by V.E. Schwab
- A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
- The Run of His Life: The People vs. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin
- The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
- Star Trek: Face of the Unknown by Christopher L. Bennett
- Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
March 14, 2017 · 4:16 pm
While cleaning out his childhood home, Nashville’s J. Ronald M. York discovered a box of letters and news clippings that uncovered a long-held family secret. For several months in the fall of 1955, Ron’s father was held in the Dade County Jail awaiting trial on charges of sexual abuse of a minor. During that time, Ron’s father and mother wrote daily letters to each other.
After the death of his father, Ron discovered the saved letters and clippings held in a box. Ron had uncovered a secret that his family had held for close to sixty years. His new book, Kept in the Dark, publishes those letters and follows Ron’s journey toward finding out what happened to his family when he was just three years old.
Ron has graciously agreed to talk to me about his book.
Question: How did you begin to pull the story together of what happened to your family?
J. Ronald M. York: Once I came to terms with what the letters revealed, I wanted to know more. The newspaper articles helped explain the charges, while the letters gave me insight to what my parents were going through. Still, there were blanks and even a couple things they had code words for that needed to be explained. I checked with the few remaining people connected although no one would know the whole story. However, those bits and pieces of information gave me leads to follow in my research. Google and Ancestry dot com became my closest friends. Continue reading →
March 7, 2017 · 9:38 pm
A Study in Charlotte?
I see what you did there.
Clever title aside, this Sherlock Holmes homage is an interesting and entertaining story that features the great-great-great-great grandchildren of the original Holmes and Watson. Being a young adult novel and requiring the requisite romantic angst, this time around it’s Holmes’ descendent Charlotte and Watson’s descent, Jamie.
Brought together at a private school in Connecticut, the duo soon finds themselves at the center of a series of murders that take a page from some of Holmes and Watston’s most stories chaos. As the prime suspects in each of the cases, Holmes and Watson must join forces to try and figure out what’s going on and who the real culprit it.
As a way to introduce a new generation to the Holmes universe, A Study in Charlotte works extremely well. Both Holmes and Watson have some of the traits of their famous literary descendants and the connections between the two families and their shared history are just some of the interesting aspects of the story. The fact that a Holmes has moved from using cocaine to crystal meth is an interesting development in the story and the fact that Watson has a temper that sometimes get the better of him is another.
Brittany Cavallaro knows her Holmes-lore and sprinkles it judiciously. As the first novel in a trilogy, I’m intrigued enough by some of the larger plot threads and the characters to want to pick up another volume and continue to read more about the modern Holmes and Watson.
The book also makes me eager to dust off my original copies of the Holmes story and visit them again as well.
March 1, 2017 · 7:03 pm
Looking for a different kind of vacation, Wini, Pia, Rachel, and Sandra book a whitewater rafting trip in an isolated region of Maine. Each of the women is seeking to escape an aspect of her life, whether it’s Wini coming to terms with the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her brother or Sandra never quite getting over how quickly Pia jumped into bed with one of her ex-boyfriends. Maybe a long weekend away from the modern world will help things.
Or everything could go horribly, horribly wrong.
What starts out as an adventure vacation soon becomes a fight for survival among the four friends.
Taking a page from Deliverance, Erica Ferencik’s The River at Night delivers a taut, page-turning tale of survival among the four friends (and their tour guide). Stuck out in the middle of no-where the group must overcome nature and each other to find their way home. And it won’t be easy because there are a number of obstacles along the path standing between them and civilization.
If I’m being a bit vague with this review, it’s for a reason. There are some nice surprises and turns of the story that you’re better off discovering for yourself. And like the bend of a river, it’s more fun to be surprised about what’s ahead than have every moment of the trip mapped out. The novel spends a good quarter of its length establishing the characters and the details of their lives before beginning to put them through an emotional and physical ringer.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.