Monday, May 31, 2010

Children's Writer Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, has written 26 books? Imagine that! Most of the books are for children. This writer apparently attracted a big crowd at the Book Expo in New York and it was not all about her writing as you can imagine. Link here!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

World War 11 historical fiction

I am reading an historical fiction titled Sarah's Key by Tatiana deRosnay, a writer from Paris, France. Listen to an excerpt here. It's our book club selection.

The story is about the rounding up of Jewish families by French police officers in France in 1942. The narrators of the story are a little Jewish girl named Sarah, who was living in Paris in 1942, and an American writer named Julia Jarmond, living in Paris with her French husband and daughter in 2002. The story goes back and forth from 2002 to 1942.

I am on page 57 and one of the interesting facts about this historical event is that the French are embarassed by the role of the French police in detaining Jews particularly children born in France and sending them to their death in German camps. The French want to forget it ever happened. An essential part of the plot is that Sarah locked her brother in a cupboard so that he could be saved before she and her family were frogmarched to the Vel’d’Hiv’. Sarah has the key to the cupboard and at this point where I have reached in the story, she does not know how to escape and get back to the apartment to free him.


Interestingly, I read this interview with the writer and she made it quite clear that her Julia character is not based on her own life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book links from Oprah's website

The Big List of Best Books

1. 31 women writers you should know
2. 20 addictive true stories
3. 16 books any mom will love
4. 12 luscious literary reads
5. 11 unputdownable mysteries
6. 10 books on everything you ever wanted to know about sex (but were afraid to ask)
7. 10 terrific reads of 2009
8. 10 of our favorites for everyone on your list
9. 8 great adventure books
10. 8 books to read with a broken heart

Book Buzz: Book club Selection

I am reading yet another apocalyptic novel and this one is a bestseller titled One Second After by William Forstchen . I am only on page 45 and I am finding the grammatical errors irritating. No one proofread this book. The word "of" is repeatedly used in place of "have" as in "could of sold." "There is" was used in sentences where clearly the plural "are" was needed.

The bookclub members agreed to discuss another World War 11 fiction in June. This one is titled Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Here is a reading guide that we can use and this seems to be an interesting interview with the writer. Look at the list of Tatiana's favorite writers.

Q: Speaking of your writing career, who are some of your favorite authors?

A: I admire Daphne du Maurier, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Irène Nemirovsky, Emile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allen Poe. And Paul Auster, Joanna Trollope, Anita Shreeve, Penelope Lively, A.S Byatt, JM Coetzee, Maggie O’Farrell, Tracy Chevalier, Joyce Carol Oates, and Sarah Waters.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Must-Read" List

My list of Must-Read books is getting longer and longer. I came across a blog today called Book Buddies. It mentioned an historical fiction titled, The Wives of Henry Oades. This debut novel is based on the fascinating story of a man, in the late nineteenth century, who ended up with two wives and their persecution by the Daughters of Decency.


Meet the writer Johanna Moran. After reading Moran's website, it appears that there is some uncertainty as to whether or not Mr. Oades polygamous situation really existed or if California journalists made it up to demonstrate a loophole in bigamy laws.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Have you read the Stieg Larsson trilogy?

I have been hearing about the best selling trilogy by Stieg Larsson but have never read them: The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, the Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Yesterday I was reading Times magazine at the library and discovered that Larsson's personal life is full of drama. He worked with anti-racist and anti-fascist organizations. He did not marry his female companion of 32 years because married folks in their native country Sweden have to make their home address public. Well, his line of work attracted enemies therefore he needed to keep a low profile. Larsson died just before his books got global exposure and hit the bestsellers lists. His will is invalid so naturally his next of kin, his father and brother, inherited everything including half of the apartment where lady-love lives. There is no palimony law in Sweden. The lady-love says Larsson was estranged from his family. The familiy has denied it. To add to the drama, she has Larsson's laptop with the script of an unfinished novel. The family wants to trade her the script for Larsson's share of the apartment. What a drama!

A fan has set up a website to help lady-love, Eva.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Abraham Bolden's story

This is one scary and sad story. Scary in terms of how the wheels of justice turned. The tear jerker moments are many. This sentence on page 228 was so hopeful yet it was a tear jerking moment for me: "You have to be strong because we are all counting on you to come back home to us. Nothing is going to happen out here, and I'm going to work and keep things together." Those were Barbara Bolden's words as her husband lost his court battle and headed for prison.

COLINET News

I was once the editor of COLINET News. I worked at a library in Jamaica which was the focal point of COLINET (College Information Network). I am looking at Vol. 8 issue number 1 dated April 1994 in which I wrote on the cover page: This is the dawn of the Powershift Era. All over the globe particularly in South Africa at this time, it is clear that there is a restructuring of power relationships taking place. I made reference to futurist Alvin Toffler who said that the very nature of power was also changing to include the knowledge factor,that is, money, muscle and mind-work: scientific and technological research.

The featured library in the issue was the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College Library. The motto for the college was Service, Commitment, Excellence. There is an article on page 11 written by Librarians Arlene Ononaiwu and Hermine Salmon titled, Social change and its Implications for Library and Information Services: a Jamaican Perspective. They wrote, "A pre-requisite for librarians to contribute to the process of sustainable development is the attainment of technologicl competence. This will ensure speedy and effective delivery of information services. To achieve this appropriate equipment andprogrammes must be acquired and personnel adequately trained in their managment and use."

Having a nostalgic moment this morning. These days I contribute to a library newsletter called, The Bay Leaf.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Links to Books about Food

Check out Oprah's links to the 9 books that will change the way we view food:


1. Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love by Lara Vapnyar
2. Righteous Porkchop by Nicolette Hahn Niman
3. Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky
4. The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
5. The Family Chef by Jewels and Jill Elmore
6. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
7. Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals by Jamie Oliver
8. Food Not Lawns by Heather Flores
9. American Food Writing edited by Molly O'Neill

There is also link on Oprah's website to Food Rules by Michael Pollan which is a little book that I have read. Here is something to do; read Women Food and God by Geneen Roth with Oprah.

What are you reading?

I am reading the Echo from Dealey Plaza by Abraham Bolden. The style is very easy to read and it's not a long story; just 285 pages. Abraham Bolden's story is a scary one though. I have reached page 125 and I think I am going to have nightmares. I say nightmares because it frightens me when innocent people serve time in prison. I am frightened when truth does not set the innocent free.

Bolden is claming that he was arrested and imprisoned by some trumped up bribery charges because he wasn't a team player in the Secret Service. He saw things that were wrong with the conduct of the agents assigned to protect President JFK and spoke out against it and he thinks that led to the false accusations. He makes mention of people who gave him a hard time and I looked them up; Maurice Martineau, Harvey Henderson, and Judge Sam Perry. These men are all deceased so we will never hear how they feel about how they have been portrayed in this book.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Romance Novels 101

I am on Galileo, a collection of databases for Georgians, and I am looking at an article on page
120 of Reference & User Services Quarterly, 2007 issue titled, Core Collections in Genre Studies: Romance 101.

The most elite and most classical subgenre of romance novels, according to this article, are the traditional regency romances. Regency means that the novel is set in the reign of the Prince Regent a.k.a. King George IV in the period 1810- 1820 but current writers have expanded the era to 1800 -1830. Evelyn Richardson, Allison Lane, Anne Barbour represent the traditionalists. The historical set regency novels are the ones that reign now in popularity. Look out for these names mentioned in the article Loretta Chase, Mary Jo Putney, Sophia Nash, Carla Kelly.

The Medieval, Victorian, and Regency periods with European settings and the Civil War and Pioneer periods with North America settings are most popular historical romance novels.

Characteristics of the Historical novel:

1. Female protagonists are rebellious.

2. Dates are accurate.

3. Clothing, dress, customs bring reality to novel.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

StoryCorps: Record your life story

Yesterday I wrote about Les Brown's advice to Toastmasters to tell your story strategically. This morning I am reading a journal called American Libraries and on page 42 there is an article titled Everyday Existence by Dave Isay. He is writing about StoryCorps, an oral history project. You and a family member or friend can make a reservation to record your story. There is even a list of questions to guide the story, check it out here. At the end two broadcast quality CDs will be created; one for you and the other for the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

I think StoryCorps is a really great idea. Link here to find out how to bring it to your community. Georgians, you can record in Atlanta at WABE studio.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Les Brown inspirational moment

I attended a Toastmaster's luncheon on Saturday in Savannah, Georgia and the guest speaker was motivational speaker Les Brown. He said so many things that meant a lot to me and I want to share one thing that resonated with me.

In that audience of persons (toastmasters) who have an interest in public speaking, he said that we should find our core message and tell our story strategically. I understood him to mean that we could be effective public speakers, storytellers, writers by telling our story in an interesting and memorable way. He gave examples of people in politics who have told us their story in a memorable way: Senator John McCain and President Barack Obama. Les Brown suggested three questions that we should ask ourselves as we think about telling our own story:

Who am I?
What do I have? (talents, skills, experiences)
Why should anyone care?

Ok. I have put this in my own words. Go check out a Les Brown video or buy his books and be inspired.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Some Facts about Romance Fiction

I am not a big romance fiction reader but I just watched an archived Booklist webcast about Romance Fiction and discovered that more romance fiction is sold in America than mystery/suspense, science fiction and fantasy novels.

Here is an interesting stat from Romance Writers of America: 74.8 million people read a romance novel in 2008.

Have you ever thought about the subgenres of romance fiction? There is the paranormal, historical, contemporary, suspense, regency, inspirational.

Here are some facts I got from the webcast:

· Most people like reading a romance series like the Black Cobra Quartet by Stephanie Laurens

· Historical romance fiction is making a comeback.

· Romance based on the Victorian era, paranormal romance featuring vampires, and romance based Westerns are very popular

· Bestselling romance authors include: Stephanie Laurens, Amanda Quick, Elizabeth Boyle, Tess Dare and so many others.

· Avonbooks.com is the site to check for romance fiction published by HarperCollins.

Monday, May 03, 2010

One Name Two Fates

That is the subtitle for the book, The Other Wes Moore. I saw one Wes Moore speaking about his book on Oprah about a week or two ago. Now he's promoting his book on radio on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. I predict this book will be a bestseller. Wes Moore, the writer, was a Rhodes Scholar and I read that he was an assistant to Condolezza Rice. The other Wes Moore is in prison for life. Both grew up in Baltimore with single mothers but their fates were different. Read the book to find out why.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: Not Much Separates Us

I finished reading The Help. By the time I got to page 418 and read this sentence, I knew that this was the essence of the entire novel: "We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought." This was confirmed by the writer in her own words in the back section of the book titled, Too Little Too Late. I figured that the character Skeeter had elements of the author herself and that the character of Constantine may have been her real life domestic helper. Turns out that the writer's real life domestic helper was a little bit like Minny, the fabulous cook with the abusive husband, and a little bit like Aibileen who constantly gave her charge, Mae Mobley, words of positive self affirmation.

I enjoyed the secrets and the truth-telling themes in this book. The secret of Constantine's departure was not as scandalous as I had anticipated; it was more one of embarassment. I loved the stories that highlighted the relationships between the different characters: Skeeter and Stuart, Skeeter and her Mom, Miss Celia and Minny, Aibileen and Mae Mobley, Skeeter and Hilly.

I really enjoyed the storyline of this book.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Help: Impressive debut

I am impressed by Kathryn Stockett's debut novel, The Help. I am reading it and loving it. I am up to page 214.

I love to read the different viewpoints of the three narrators who I now know to be Aibileen and Minny, two household helpers, and Skeeter, a budding white writer. Skeeter wants to write a book about the lives of black household helpers in white households. This is in Mississippi in the 60s, as you can imagine, danger lurks. The gathering of information to write the book has to be kept a secret.

At this point, I am eager to know all of Miss Celia's story from Minny's perspective. Celia is so delicate and does not fit into the community because she would be described as poor white trash. I want to know how she ended up with the handsome well-to-do Johnny. I am eager to read about Constantine, the household helper for Skeeter's family, who was suddenly fired. At this point I am wondering if the big secret is that the biracial Constantine is also Skeeter's sister. Or, could it be that Constantine's daughter is Skeeter's sister? Or, even more shocking, could Skeeter be Constantine's daughter. There has got to be some scandal involved because no one is telling Skeeter the complete truth about Constantine's departure from the household and from the town. Truth-telling, by the way seems to be one of the themes in this story.

I am going to take a chance and highly recommend this book to my blog readers even though I am only half way to the end.