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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2013 Summer Okra Picks

Southern indie booksellers like their okra, and they love their southern books. The new list of Okra Picks --great southern books, fresh off the vine-- has just been released. A dozen new books that all have two things in common: They are southern in nature, and there is a southern indie bookseller that wants everyone to read each one! The SIBA Okra picks offer a curated reading list for every season.

A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White
As it sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920's North Carolina to the Manhattan of the deadly AIDS epidemic of the 1980s to today's wealthy suburbs, White celebrates the healing power of food and the magic of New York as three seekers come together.
And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry
Kate Vaughan is no stranger to tough choices. She's made them before. Now it's time to do it again. Kate has a secret, something tucked away in her past. Just when Kate thinks she can love, just when she believes she can conquer the fear, she's filled with dread.
The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
As America's Mercury Seven astronauts are launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focus on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these military spouses are transformed into American royalty, and will rally together as tragedies begin to touch their lives.
The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson
Debut author Thompson presents the story of a girl, a crime, and a great unsolved mystery set deep in the heart of South Carolina.
Heart of Palm by Laura Lee Smith
Utina, Florida, is a small, down-at-heels southern town. Utina hasn't seen economic growth in decades, and no family is more emblematic of the local reality than the Bravos, who are held together by love and tenuously brokered truces. Little do any of them know that Utina is about to become a land of opportunity.
In the Garden of Stone by Susan Tekulve
"This debut novel opens in 1924 with the derailment of a passing train that buries 16-year-old Emma Palmisano's house in coal. Caleb, the railroad man who rescues Emma, marries her a week later and gifts her with 47 acres of Virginia farmland. The novel tells the story of the successive generations of Emma and Caleb's family, who endure an d grow despite poverty and hardship."--Library Journal.
Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
A Southern novel of family and antiques from the bestselling author of the beloved Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. Hoffman rekindles her flair for evocative Southern settings and the inimitable eccentrics in a compelling new novel.
Moonrise by Cassandra King
When Helen Honeycutt falls in love with a man who has recently lost his wife in a tragic accident, their sudden marriage creates a rift between her new husband and his circle of friends, who resent her intrusion into their circle. When the newlyweds join them for a summer at Moonrise, his late wife's family home in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, it soon becomes clear that someone is trying to drive her away, in this writer's homage to Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier.
The Time Between by Karen White
The "New York Times"-bestselling author delivers a novel of two generations of sisters and secrets set in the stunning South Carolina Lowcountry. Eleanor Murray seeks the truth about the past of two sisters' secrets that could help heal her troubled relationship with her own sister.
Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall
Determined to get to Nashville to find her mother in 1963, nine-year-old spitfire Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother's Mississippi home, eventually accepting a ride from a Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white baby.
A lush, sexy, evocative debut novel of family secrets and girls'-school rituals, set in the 1930's South. For her mysterious role in a family tragedy, a strong-willed 15-year-old is cast out of her home and exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler
When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is 17 years old and he is a young army lieutenant. Before long, the "ungettable" Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn't prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer of Stories

Come join in the fun this summer as Cavalier House Books begins its summer storytelling series!  Each Saturday, we will feature games and activities centered around one book that we will all read together!  Our goal is to promote children’s interest in reading with an afternoon of fun!

Tea Party featuring Tea Rex by Molly Idle
May 25, 2:00-2:45 PM
You are cordially invited to a dinosaur tea party! Join us for a roaring good time with teatime and games centering on the picture book Tea Rex!
Art2-D2 Star Wars Party featuring Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling by Tom Angleberger
 June 8, 2:00-2:45 PM
May the folds be with you as you join forces with the Origami Yoda and Star Wars crew to battle the Dark Side and bring balance to the Force!
Don't Let the Pigeon Throw a Party featuring Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
June 22, 2:00-2:45 PM
We have to stop the Pigeon from throwing a pigeon party in the bookshop for his 10th anniversary! Join in the fun while reading Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
 Crayon Capers Party featuring The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers (ills.)
July 6, 2:00-2:45 PM
The crayons have all quit their jobs, and we have to use our creativity to bring them back! Join us for colorific fun and a reading of The Day the Crayons Quit! 
 Not-So-Scary Monster Romp featuring Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters by Jane Yolen and Kelly Murphy (ills.)
July 20, 2:00-2:45 PM
Join us for romping, stomping fun while we celebrate monsters! We’ll have fun and games centering on the book, Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters!
 Pete the Cat's Back to School Bash featuring The Wheels on the Bus by James Dean
August 3, 2:00-2:45 PM
School is almost here, and Pete the Cat is ready to learn! Join us for our Summer of Stories finale while we get back into the school spirit and read Pete the Cat: The Wheels on the Bus!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

2013 SIBA Book Award Winners

The Southern Independent Bookseller's Alliance, or SIBA, choses six books each year from the best in southern literature. One title is chosen from each category: Children's, Young Adult, Cooking, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. The titles are nominated by southern, independent booksellers (like me) and their customers (like you). While we are all reading globally, it is nice to have a regional minded award list compiled by the people who are at the forefront of localmindedness. The interest of SIBA stretches from Louisiana on up to North Carolina, but this year's seems to sit close to home for us! One of the winners, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by Louisiana's own William Joyce, is one of my favorite books. I am so thrilled to have this book on the SIBA list, while it was inspired by Hurricane Katrina it is a beautiful story for readers across the globe. I'm also excited to note that the winning book of poetry, though not written by a Louisiana native, was published by LSU Press. Southern literature has a deep and rich history and these authors (and many more) are a constant reminder that we will continue to build on that history.

Children's Winner
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm (ills.)
The book that inspired the Academy Award-winning short film, from "New York Times"- bestselling author and beloved visionary Joyce. Stunningly brought to life, this book is a modern masterpiece, showing that in today's world of traditional books, eBooks, and apps, it's story that we truly celebrate.
Poetry Winner
Descent by Kathryn Stripling Byer 
Navigating the dangerous currents of family and race, Kathryn Stripling Byer s sixth poetry collection confronts the legacy of southern memory and landscape, where too often "it s safer to stay blind."
Cooking Winner 
The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Savannah landmark Back in the Day Bakery, here is a fabulously fun book filled with customers' favorite recipes and irresistible full-color photographs of food and behind-the-scenes bakery shots.
Fiction Winner
In his phenomenal debut novel--a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small North Carolina town--Cash displays a remarkable talent for lyrical, powerfully emotional storytelling.
Nonfiction Winner
Stand Up That Mountain by Jay Erskine Leutze
The true story of an outdoorsman living alone in Western North Carolina who teams up with his neighbors and environmental lawyers to save a treasured mountain peak from the mining company.
Young Adult Winner
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now 11, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a cafe and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Victoria Reviews: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I picked up The 5th Wave because it was sitting on my shelf and it looked kind of interesting. The cover and book description didn't tell me much, but it did give the impression of mystery and danger (and the promise of aliens), which caught my attention. I didn't have anything to do that evening, so I sat down and flipped open the first page. The first thing I read was a quote from Stephen Hawking: "If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans." Suspicion confirmed: this was not going to be a cheerful, good-guys-always-win book. Curious and rather excited, I dove in. By that same time the next evening, I had finished.

The 5th Wave was incredible. It takes the reader through a deadly alien invasion that blows other alien stories I've read out of the water. When the Others came, they weren't the little green men everyone was expecting, and they didn't shoot laser beams or fly Star Wars-like ships. Instead, they used the humans' own nature against them, taking out electricity, destroying major cities, and making the very idea of being around other humans an incredibly dangerous thing to consider. We join Cassie, the book's protagonist, after the 4th wave has hit and she's been separated from all other human life, unable to trust anyone or anything. The only thing she has left to cling to is the idea of rescuing Sam, her little brother, and she latches onto it like a lifeline. It is her purpose, her one reason to survive.

The book doesn't just follow Cassie, but instead the POV jumps around to several different important characters. One of the fascinating things about this book is seeing the threads of the different storylines all slowly join together. There was a very distinct sense of dramatic irony throughout the whole book; reading the different POVs keeps the reader much more informed than the characters, leading to some very tense and exciting moments. A desperate need for sleep was the only thing that could make me put this book down.

Cassie, the main character, is an excellent example of a strong and well-rounded protagonist. Witty, intelligent, and cynical, she is able to take care of herself and survive in the dangerous world into which she's been thrust, for the most part without any help. But she's also young and human, and she can't do everything on her own. She fully feels (and so does the reader) the terror and awfulness of her situation and experiences, and - like any normal person - she can't always handle what has happened to her. Her two prized possessions - an M16 rifle and an old teddy bear - symbolize both the harshness she's been forced to adopt and her soft side that still clings to lost innocence and youth. Spurred on by the need to rescue Sam, Cassie is also equipped with a noble quest that just about anyone can sympathize with. She's an easy character to love and admire, and I quickly found myself rooting for her.

I've been reading a lot of science fiction lately, and once I finished, this book immediately topped my recommend list. Many people are reluctant to read it because of the science fiction label, but I'm telling you it's worth it. Even if you're not a sci-fi person, you should read this book. It doesn't focus on the aliens but the human reaction to them. Rather than focusing on technology or futuristic ideas, it explores levels of humanity and what it means to be human. One slight warning to potential readers: though this book is technically young adult and the main characters are mostly teens, there is quite a bit of violence and cursing (it's not excessive, but it's there). Just know this: if you want action and adventure, if you enjoy suspense and danger, or if you like a book where innumerable bad things happen (even to good people), read The 5th Wave. You won't regret it.


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