Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reading Life: On Books, Memory, and Travel

Idgie Says: Planning on taking this one to the beach with me.  Seems like the perfect type of read - short, interrelated stories about travel and books.  Cannot beat that!


Mercer University Press
March 16, 2014

"At the heart of Reading Life is the belief that stories are vital to our existence."

Reading Life: On Books, Memory, and Travel
By author: Michael Pearson

A unique blend of memoir, literary appreciation, and travel narrative, Reading Life is a series of interrelated essays tracking the relationship between books and experience, dramatizing and reflecting on how stories lead us into the world, and how we transform that engagement with the world back into personal narrative. 

A love story about books and travel, Reading Life is, by turns, comic and serious. Chapters shift in tone—from a lyrical quality akin to Adam Gopnik’s to a tongue-in-cheek humor reminiscent of Ian Frazier’s. The book transports the reader from the high desert landscape of Cather’s New Mexico and the rocky coastline of E. B. White’s Maine to the pilgrimage paths of Cervantes’s Spain and the hallucinogenic heat of Bowles’s Morocco. 

At the heart of Reading Life is the belief that stories are vital to our existence. Pearson invokes the same spirit that Tim O’Brien did in The Things They Carried when he said, “Stories are for joining the past to the future… Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.” Books, like travel, compel us to venture into new worlds, to renew our acquaintance with old ones, and, ultimately, to learn how to see. Books are both window and mirror, allowing a view of something deep in us and a glimpse of some distant truth beyond what is familiar and known.

 Willie Morris, former editor of Harper’s, said, “Michael Pearson is one of our nation’s finest memoirists.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Walls Around Us

Suma_WallsAroundUs_jkt_rgb_2MB_HRIdgie Says:
This novel is filled with choppy chapters that keep you off center and uncertain as to the events that are occurring, have already occurred, are imagined or yet to come.

Once again Algonquin Young Readers presents a novel with grit and grip. These are not kiddie books.  You have to absorb the words and concentrate on the story.  

The ending is a twist you wouldn't imagine coming. 

One of my proudest achievements is that I believe I have every book this division has ever published. Why? Because they are worth it.

On sale March 24.
Algonquin Young Readers


The Walls Around Us

“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”
The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

The Wisdom of Perversity

Algonquin Press
March 24, 2015

I have three children and just cannot read this story.  It is too much a fear.  But I sense it's a very powerful story that should be read.....if not by me, then by others.  

You might want to check it out. 


Brian and Jeff were best friends when they were young, leading lives of promise in New York City in the late 1960s, until something happened that brought an end to both their childhood and their friendship. Forty years later, when their secret surfaces in a terrible new context, they are forced to reunite by Jeff’s cousin, Julie, who was also a victim of their childhood trauma. Together they must decide whether to tell all — unbalancing their lives and threatening their future — or continue to hide the truth and allow others to be victimized.Rafael Yglesias, critically acclaimed bestselling novelist and screenwriter, has crafted a novel that tells the stories of these three childhood friends who join together as adults to acknowledge the ways in which their lives were altered by the actions of a predator who sexually abused them, and who now, many years later, has been exposed by more recent victims but, thanks to his wealth and influence, is on the verge of escaping punishment.

The Wisdom of Perversity unmasks the headlines, giving voice to what has been left unsaid and light to what has been hidden. Yglesias has created a startling, engrossing, unsettling, and moving story of surviving an insidious evil and of a triumphant struggle to heal its wounds.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Kiss of the Jewel Bird

Idgie Says:
 Okay, the first two books of Dale Cramer's that I reviewed dealt with Amish frontier life in Mexico. Wholesome with a bit of an edge. I called them westerns, Dale did not agree but I meant it in a very positive manner. They were enjoyable books. Now I receive a book of his for review that is about a reincarnated man - thousands of years old - currently residing in a chicken and writing a book for a want-to-be author. 

My first reaction was WTH!? My second thought was this is a bizarre change of pace for an author from his other books that I have seen. My third reaction after opening the pages and reading for an hour..... "OMG this is effing fantastic!"

I read it in a day and a half.

Bravo, Dale Cramer, Bravo.

On a much deep level than a chicken who is brilliant with words and smokes cigarettes, this is a story about losing yourself, finding "you" again and taking life chances that you have shied away from.  It's a convoluted fantastical tale, too unreal to believe - but that's part of the draw of the book, that and the writing itself. 

As I am writing to you, highly recommending that you read this book, I am also wondering if Stephen King owns birds...............

Recipient of the Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction
Kiss of the Jewel Bird
By author: Dale Cramer
Mercer University Press
March 16, 2015

Good ole boy Dickie Frye vanishes from the Georgia hills and the urbane Fletcher Carlyle bursts onto the New York publishing scene, winning the Nobel Prize for literature. But when a psychotic rampage lands Carlyle in Weatherhaven, eminent psychologist Anton Kohl finds himself talking to Dickie Frye. Kohl’s instincts tell him Frye is not lying—but what he says can’t possibly be true.

A fallen priest comes out of Sumerian mythology, the love of Kohl’s life comes out of his past, and a chicken comes out of a posh apartment on Central Park West to meet his fate. Anton Kohl’s carefully constructed world is about to be deconstructed.

One part fable and one part Southern yarn, Kiss of the Jewel Bird soars from ancient Mesopotamia to modern-day Manhattan, rewriting history and opening a window onto a wider, more magical world, where the path to destiny is anything but straight.