Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Club Review - My Name is Mary Sutter

Robin Oliveira has written an unflinching piece of civil war fiction. Mary Sutter, a supremely skilled midwife, is focused on her goal of becoming a surgeon in a time when the idea of women nurses was controversial. She is a tough woman struggling to follow her natural calling.

As the book opens, the South has just attacked Fort Sumter. Men of all classes are enlisting in what is expected to be a three-month engagement where the south will be quickly beaten. Mary, having been turned down everywhere else, approaches Dr. James Blevins about an apprenticeship. He turns her down, ostensibly because he plans to enlist as an army surgeon. Mary heads south without the help or support of her family to help in the hospitals in DC. Even there she is rebuffed until there is a desparate need.

Mary receives her apprenticeship, but it is with a very high price. She must make difficult choices and endure unimaginable conditions. Most of the book club members liked My Name is Mary Sutter. The historical detail (which I liked tremendously) was a shocking reminder of how ill-prepared the United States was for war. For some members, the graphic details of the hospitals and surgeries were difficult. Several of the characters, including Mary's twin seemed thinnly drawn, but it is Mary and her tenacity which move the story forward. Her persistence and courage carry her and the reader through to the end.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Now In Paperback - December 2011

The Voice, by James Kaplan
Frank Sinatra was the best-known entertainer of the twentieth century—infinitely charismatic, lionized and notorious in equal measure. But despite his mammoth fame, Sinatra the man has remained an enigma.  Now James Kaplan brings deeper insight than ever before to the complex psyche and turbulent life behind that incomparable voice, from Sinatra’s humble beginning in Hoboken to his fall from grace and Oscar-winning return in From Here to Eternity. Here at last is the biographer who makes the reader feel what it was really like to be Frank Sinatraas man, as musician, as tortured genius.

The Lake of Dreams
A Novel, by Kim Edwards
Karen Vail of Titcomb's Bookshop in East Sandwich, Massachusettes says "This is a captivating novel from the best-selling author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter."  

Edwards delivers the story of a woman's homecoming, a family secret, and the old house that holds the key to the true legacy of a family. With surprises at every turn and brimming with vibrant detail, “The Lake of Dreams” is an arresting saga in which every element emerges as a carefully place piece of the puzzle.

The Memory of Love
by Aminatta Forna
“Forna, a former BBC journalist and documentarian, has seen the cruelties of the war-ravaged West African country first-hand, and has devoted a career to chronicling them. In careful, precise prose, Forna makes even the seemingly commonplace details meaningful.”—Nora Dunne, The Christian Science Monitor
Adrian Lockheart is a psychologist escaping his life in England. Arriving in Freetown in the wake of civil war, he struggles with the intensity of the heat, dirt and secrets this country hides. A story unfolds about ordinary people in extrordinary circumstances and the indelible effects of the past.

An Object of Beauty
A Novel, by Steve Martin
“Even those who know little about contemporary art will enjoy this novel, and they will definitely learn something along the way.” -- Kat Bailey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights--and, at times, the dark lows--of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

Take Me Home
A Novel, by Brian Leung
“Every now and then, a small, quiet, well-crafted novel is just what the doctor ordered. . . . Take Me Home by Brian Leung fits the bill.” -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Adele "Addie" Maine is returning to Dire, Wyoming, forty years after the deadly events that drove her away from her husband without a word.
Years earlier, when Addie first heads West to stay with her brother Tommy, she is wary of the Chinese working alongside the white men in the local coal mines. But when Tommy falters at homesteading and the mine becomes their only path, Addie's eyes are opened through her association with one Chinese man in particular, Wing Lee—and a bond forms between them that is impossible and forbidden, even in a territory where nearly everyone is an immigrant. Together, Addie and Wing harbor a secret, and when racial tensions escalate to a combustion point, Addie will face a devastating choice between fighting for what is right . . . and survival. Take Me Home is a searing, redemptive novel that explores justice in a time of violence, and the sweeping landscape between friendship and love.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Buzz Bernard is December's Featured First Friday Author

St. Simons Island, Georgia has never been hit by a Category 5 Hurricane. Until now.

This caption on the cover of Bernard's novel is quite a hook for us locals! Buzz Bernard has just the background to write this arresting book about characters facing the storm of a lifetime. As a senior meteorologist for The Weather Channel, he has first hand experience with hurricanes. Prior to his work in TV, Buzz served as a weather officer in the US Air Force. His life's work was his research for this book, described as a "one-sitting, white-knuckled read" by one reviewer.

Buzz will be signing Eyewall during the First Friday celebration on December 2nd, 5-8 p.m. Join us, pick up a copy and get Buzz will be happy to sign it for you!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Club Selection - The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White

The Third Tuesday Book Club ventured into new territory this month, as we Skyped with author Karen White. Instead of our normal format we met with the author, virtually. White was delightful and comfortable with the format. We all got in the groove quickly and had lots of questions for Karen about her "writing" life.

Karen lives in a suburb of Atlanta and is currently writing two books a year!  Her next book, due out next Spring takes place on St. Simons Island, and straddles two time periods (I think!) -- present day and 1805. Look for more news about Sea Change later!

When asked how she became a writer, Karen told us that she always liked composing stories, but her brain moved much faster than her handwriting did, so learning to type in the 10th grade was important. She has always been a "voracious reader" and was encouraged by teachers to write, but it never was the right time until she had children. She began writing without much of a plan and entered a few chapters in a contest and won! One of the judges was Nora Robert's editor and offered to represent Karen, they are still together!

When asked which of her own books she liked best, Karen declined to answer, but admitted she loved returning to the characters in the "Tradd St. Series." This month's book club selection, The Strangers on Montagu Street is the third book in the "Tradd Street" series. Some club members who had read and loved White's other fiction felt it was not her strongest. I found it to be a light, entertaining book, reading it very quickly one Saturday. The series, rooted in Charleston focuses on Melanie Middleton, a practical and mostly conventional Realtor with sees dead people. The book offers up ghosts, a mystery, romance and a very sticky family situation. If you are looking for something fun to read (perhaps for the beach), this book may be just the thing!

Monday, November 14, 2011

2011 Bestsellers - How Does Hattie's List Stack Up?

Today, I was curious... what are the current bestsellers in the marketplace and how does Hattie's list of bestsellers this year compare? There are several intervening factors which skew the list from Hattie's, but it is still interesting to see the intersections. Hattie's book club selections are always bestsellers including this year's Big Read book, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (you probably won't find that on any other bestseller list!)

The top seller at Hattie's Books this year to date? Spencer Spider Spins Spinach Over Spaghetti by Mattie Brown and illustrated by our very own Ed Hose! Hattie's also provides books to a certain local school (Thanks Frederica Academy!) which also gives our best seller list a certain intellectual flair.  (Think Twelve Angry Men, Raisin in the Sun, The Odyssey, and Beowulf!) If we drill down past the required reading, Hattie's customers like many of the books on every other bestseller list.

Number one on the Indie Fiction Bestsellers in paperback from this week is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The Help has been very popular at Hattie's also, but because of the long delay in the book coming to paperback, many readers in Brunswick opted to bite the bullet and purchase the hardcover edition.

Number four on the Paperback Indie Fiction Bestsellers this week was Abraham Verghese's Cutting for Stone, a beautifully written and engaging story that our book club thoroughly enjoyed. At Hattie's Books, Cutting for Stone sales slightly edged out The Help.

When it comes to nonfiction, the number one spot on the Indie Paperback Bestsellers is held by The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Although Hattie's Book Club reads predominantly fiction, this was one of our selections this year and it was almost universally appreciated. From the numbers, it looks like the sales were confined to members of the book club and quite honestly, that is a shame. This is a book that everyone would enjoy reading. I'm typically a diehard nonfiction disliker and I loved The Immortal Life.

These are just some musings as we start to edge into the end of the year. Have you read any of these books? Do you have a favorite? We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Now in Paperback - November 2011

Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories

By Simon Winchester
“This book, like its subject, is both sprawling and majestic. To reinforce his view of the ocean as a living thing, Winchester terms his book a 'biography of the ocean.' His life story of the Atlantic begins with the ocean's very formation. In later ages, he discusses such diverse topics as exploration, piracy, slavery, and conflict. Winchester writes with both beauty and authority, and his love of the ocean is so clearly expressed that readers nearly smell the salt! A masterpiece!”
-- Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

City of Tranquil Light
By Bo Caldwell
“Not since Marilynne Robinson's Gilead have I read a novel that could bring the power of faith to the printed page so beautifully. Based on the stories of her grandparents' missionary years in China, from 1908 to 1933, Caldwell's narrative makes one honor her characters, their bravery, their dedication, and the love they felt for the people and the land that was not their own.”
-- Marian Nielsen, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA

A Curable Romantic
By Joseph Skibell
“Joseph Skibell is one of America's great unsung writers. His new novel, A Curable Romantic, is funny, dark, and profound. If there is justice in the world, it will win a major prize next year. Skibell writes amazing prose that carries you like a dream through a complicated plot without ever leaving you impatient. Fine literary tears will be cried.”
-- Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City, IA

Sing You Home
A Novel, by Jodi Picoult
“Sing You Home is another intense, eye-opening book from bestselling author Picoult. This time she tackles what it means to be a parent, what being gay in today's society entails, and the definition of 'family.' The reader cannot help but be moved by the story of Zoe Baxter, a music therapist, and her attempt to have a child.The book is packaged with a CD of original songs corresponding to specific chapters, and the reader is able to follow Zoe on her journey of self-discovery and her mission create a family.”
-- Amanda Snow, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Solomon's Oak
By Jo-Ann Mapson
“In the shadow of a magnificent 200-year-old white oak tree, damaged people come together to form a family. Glory is in despair over the death of her husband. She takes comfort in rescuing dogs and long rides, but grief is her constant companion. Juniper talks tough, but the 14-year-old is fragile inside. Thrown away and alone, she is one more child trying to survive the foster system, but her life changes when Glory gives her a home. Joseph was a cop until things went very wrong. Recovering from his wounds, he is determined to photograph Glory's oak tree. These stories entwine in a heartwarming novel of love, loss, and renewal.”
-- Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

Travels in Siberia
By Ian Frazier
“This may be my favorite travel book. Period. Ian Frazier is a magnificently gifted writer who makes every single word interesting and takes the reader with him across the landscape, through history, and into the present. He keeps the reader close by his side through all manner of experiences, and the reader's heart soars and stomach turns along with his own. Frazier has traveled to the end of the earth, and I am happy to feel that I have gone with him.”
-- Linda Ramsdell, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review - mockingbird (mok'ing-bûrd)

Katherine Erskine's book mockingbird (mok'ing-bûrd) is another Georgia Book Award Nominee for 2011-2012. mockingbird (mok'ing-bûrd) is also the 2010 National Book Award Winner in the Young People's Literature category.

Like Melody in Out of My Mind Caitlin is not like all the other kids. Caitlin is a motherless girl with Asperger's syndrome. Her brother (who was a significant bridge to the world for Caitlin) has just been killed in a horrific tragedy. Caitlin and her Dad are left to deal with unfathomable grief and sadness with very little way to communicate effectively with each other.

Because the story is told from Caitlin's perspective, we get a glimpse of what it must be like to view the world in a very literal way. She tries hard to "get it," but most often fails. She has no capacity to read facial expressions or understand nuanced conversation. She puzzles over common expressions like "keep your pants on." And while some of the misunderstandings provide comic relief, the end result is that Caitlin can't make friends. And while her isolation is comfortable to her, she longs for the connection she had with Devon.

This book is about how Caitlin persistently pursues "closure" -- the word everyone uses to describe what she and the town needs. I don't think I'm giving away too much to say that Caitlin's success in finding closure is both reassuring and moving. Don't be surprised if you need to finish this book with some tissues!

mockingbird (mok'ing-bûrd) by Kathryn Erskine is appropriate for kids 10 and up.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Georgia Book Award Nominees Are A Great Bet!

Each year books are nominated for the Georgia Book Awards by teachers and media specialists from the state of Georgia. The award is given in two categories – picture books and middle grade novels. The final list of 20 nominees are selected by a committee of teachers and media specialists (chaired by a member of the University of Georgia faculty from the Department of Language and Literacy Education). 
(information from the Georgia Book Awards Website)

Mimi Mayberry-White, media specialist at Glynn Middle School says,
 "We want our students to enjoy reading and to be lifelong readers – many of these books will be the ones that turn them on to reading. At GMS, we can’t keep the Georgia Book Award Nominees on the shelf!
These book nominees are one of my first stops when looking for books that will  engage my girl's book club. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is one of this year's nominees and an easy favorite for taking the prize. In March, kids get to vote and this beginning novel of the trilogy is a big favorite, plus the movie will be coming out at the same time (March 23).

But since most teens and preteens may have already read The Hunger Games, the list has lots of great choices. The first book from the list that my daughter and I both read this fall was Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. Melody is eleven years old and has never spoken a word. Chapter 2 opens with this exposition.
"I can't talk, I can't walk. I can't feed myself or take myself to the bathroom. Big bummer."
The reader gets pulled into Melody's life, just as she finally has the opportunity to communicate with the outside world through a device that can talk for her. This is no sappy idealized story about a girl with cerebral palsy. It is a realistic look at how "different" children are treated and how it feels to be one. Melody is a character that will stick with you and I'm pretty sure you will be glad you took the time to step into her mind!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spencer Spider Spins Spinach Over Spaghetti

Written by Mattie Brown
Illustrated by Ed Hose

Brunswick is abuzz (or perhaps just a bit tangled in a web) over Spencer Spider Spins Spinach Over Spaghetti. Our very own Ed Hose has teamed up with storyteller Mattie Brown to create a wonderfully engaging (definitely meant to be read aloud) picture book for children. The alliterative fun starts with the title (try saying it several times quickly) and continues throughout the book spinning a tale (sorry folks!) about an unlikely friendship between a young spider and fly. As always, Ed's illustrations are lush and imaginative.

Marcia has 40 copies in stock and I'm predicting they'll all be gone (or at the very least, spoken for) before the signing at November's First Friday Event (November 4th in case you don't have your calendar handy!) Of course, there are plenty more books, so Marcia won't be running out, but we are hoping to get to place 2nd and 3rd orders!

This book (especially once it's been signed) will make a wonderful Christmas present for children and grandchildren alike. Have you seen Spencer Spider Spins Spinach Over Spaghetti? How many copies do you want?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Book Review - Ghost on Black Mountain

Each month we write a review of the third Tuesday's book club selection and we post it on the Monday following the third Tuesday. Sounds a little complicated? Well, I'm really throwing a wrench in the works today, because our third Tuesday book club met on first Friday this month to accommodate a special visitor -- the author!

Ann Hite was in town researching one her next books and promoting Ghost on Black Mountain, a novel set in the North Carolina Smokies and Darien, Georgia. The depression-era ghost story is told in the voices of five interconnected women. Nellie Pritchard begins the tale, and four other women fill in the details and bring the story to its conclusion in the 1960's. 

Hite opened the discussion with reading a moving portion of Josie's (Nellie Pritchard's mother) story. Not just touching, the passage is emblematic of Hite's writing process. The beautiful passage details the story of Josie preparing her mother's body for burial. Josie begins saying, "I'd watched Mama prepare my granny's body. I knew what to do. The women in the family cared for the dead." 

As a "blank page" writer, Hite literally begins with a blank page, not an outline, often writing in long hand. Her characters speak to her and she writes it down. She is as unsure where the story will end as the reader while she is writing. The passage of Josie tenderly washing her mother's body for burial was an example of something she still can't believe that she actually wrote! Ann says that one of the reason she writes is to find out the ending of the stories that her characters are telling her.

The five narrators tell their story with convincing voices. And while this book is a ghost story, at it's heart, it is the story of five women, their choices and the consequences of those choices. For me, that is what made it interesting.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Now in Paperback - October 2011

At Home
A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson
(Anchor, 9780767919395, $15.95)
“This literary horn-of-plenty is brimming with an astonishing amount of information, all relayed with Bryson’s trademark clarity and humor. To read this is to embark on a wonderfully meandering journey through history, sociology, science, and more. The thread that connects it all is Bryson’s own house. He guides us through his home, a charming former church rectory in a small English village. Enjoy the tour!”
—Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA Bird Cloud

The Cailiffs of Baghdad, GeorgiaA Novel, by Mary Helen Stefaniak
(W.W. Norton, 9780393341133, $15.95)
”Eleven-year-old Gladys Cailiff tells the story of the teacher that turned her small town upside down. In 1938, Grace Spivey came to town as a WPA hired teacher. She believed in field trips, costumes, and reading aloud from The Thousand Nights and a Night. But the real trouble started when she decided to revive the annual town festival. Great storytelling is alive! The reader will delight in the characters (and the camels) in this tale of the depression era South.”
—Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, MT

by Philip Roth
(Vintage, 9780307475008, $15)
“This is a fiercely passionate, devastating book on the themes of hubris and retributive justice set in an elegiac summer camp during an unchecked polio epidemic in the mid 1940s. Roth has done nothing less than create an authentic American counterpart to Greek tragedy. It’s a disturbing, unnerving book that keeps you in an increasingly fearful nervous tension. This is Roth in top form.”
—Russ Barker, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices,
by Noah Feldman
(Twelve, 9780446699280, $16.99)
”Franklin Roosevelt appointed the most Supreme Court justices of any president, but four—Hugo Black, William Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, and Robert Jackson—towered above the rest. The history of the judges and the development of their constitutional philosophies is also the story of social change in the United States during the middle of the 20th century, which culminated in the monumental Brown vs. Board of Education decision.”
—Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

A Secret Kept
by Tatiana de Rosnay
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 9780312553494, $14.99) ”In this evocative novel by the author of the bestselling Sarah’s Key, Parisian siblings Melanie and Antoine have grown up damaged by their mother’s premature death. Melanie is driving Antoine from a visit to the seaside where they had shared their mother’s final summer, when, just as she’s about to reveal to her brother a recovered memory from her childhood, she loses  control of the car. A story of shocking family secrets and how childhood memories can continue to have effect far into adulthood, this is a haunting, yet hopeful read.”
—Karen Vail, Titcomb’s Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review - Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue was a bit of a tough sell to Hattie's Third Tuesday Book Club. There were several members who simply opted out this month. Some read the book and came to the discussion out of loyalty to the group. The subject matter was challenging.

But, having said that, everyone who came to the discussion was glad they read Room. Some members were absolutely enthralled with this unusually narrated story. Another member reported that they had stayed up until 1:30 am to finish reading an important section even though she had to wake up at 5 am later that morning.

Are you curious? What is this oddly titled book about? What is "Room?"

Jack, the narrator, is a five year old boy imprisoned with his mother by "Old Nick." To the reader, their situation is horrifying, but to Jack, it's just his life. Jack was born in "room" and has never left it. Jack and Ma are held in a soundproofed 11x11 shed, outfitted with basic necessities. In "Room" Ma has created a life for Jack that is intellectually engaging and "safe." She has also led him to believe that everything he sees on their TV is not real.

I'm not going to say any more about the story, to do so would be to venture into spoiler territory. What I will say is that Room is an amazingly beautiful book about a very painful subject. I don't blame you if you are hesitant to read it, but you should know, you'd really be missing out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Friday Author - October 7

Meet Ann Hite, author of Ghost on Black Mountain on the first Friday in October. 

There will be two opportunities to meet Ann on October 7th, we'd love to see you at one or both of these events.
2:30-4:00            Book Club Discussion
5-8                     First Friday fun.

Ghost on Black Mountain is told in the stunning voices of five women whose lives are inextricably bound when a murder takes place in rural Depression-era North Carolina, Ann Hite’s unforgettable debut spans generations and conjures the best of Southern folk-lore—mystery, spirits, hoodoo, and the incomparable beauty of the Appalachian landscape.

Ghost on Black Mountain was picked by the major book clubs including Woman’s Day, Double Day, Mystery Guild, Literary Guild as the alternate pick for October.

Marcia has plenty of copies of Ghost on Black Mountain on hand now!

Stop by, pick up your copy and as a thanks for following our blog, ask her for double points on your reader's reward card! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review - The Westing Game

Ellen Raskin won the Newbery Medal in 1979 for The Westing Game. My girls book club read this book over a year ago and they still mention it when we are trying to determine our next book. They always say they would like to read another mystery like The Westing Game. Aside from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, this is still the girl's favorite book. I keep being surprised by this fact. The book doesn't fit in with their typical favorites.

The book was written over 30 years ago, there is no romance hook and the main character is a bit younger (or at least acts younger) than the girls in my group.

Even with all these "negatives", the girls loved it. Now, I know these really aren't negatives, but for young teen readers, they could be.

The mystery in The Westing Game is so well done, that it overrides any other considerations. We read this book over three meetings, so at each club meeting, there were lots of questions to discuss. The girls really enjoyed trying to solve the mystery as they read the book.

The premise is convoluted. Sixteen people, seemingly unrelated in any way are convinced to move into Sunset Towers on the shores of Lake Michigan. A few weeks later they are called to a reading of the odd will of Samuel Westing. They could become millionaires, depending on how they play the game laid out for them. The sixteen are divided into 8 teams and each team is given initial clues. The winning team wins his fortune!

Excitement, danger and suspense follow.

I highly recommend this mystery, but don't take my word for it. I've got five girls who think it is one of the best books they have ever read!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New in Paperback - September 2011

This month we feature six books becoming available in paperback, evenly divided between fiction and nonfiction.

Bloody Crimes
The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Chase for Jefferson Davis,
by James Swanson
“Bloody Crimes relates the gripping stories of President Lincoln’s funeral and the hunt for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Swanson, an acknowledged expert on Lincoln’s assassination, writes with passion and authority, offering a powerful story enriched with vivid details that sweeps readers back to the dark, uncertain days of late April 1865. A triumph!”
—Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

A Life, by Stacy Schiff
“Beneath the myth and legend, Cleopatra was an educated, intelligent, and extremely forceful woman. For much of her life she had to stand virtually alone against the mightiest empire on earth and showed brilliant political gifts as she attempted to preserve Egypt’s autonomy. Stacy Schiff delves deep into ancient history and culture to portray a person far more interesting than the Hollywood version, and does so with a verve and sardonic wit rarely found in historical writing.”
—Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

The Emperor of All Maladies
A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
“The struggle against cancer eventually touches the lives of every person on this planet. In The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee displays remarkable skill in blending a definitive history of this disease with a compelling narrative. The book is informative, moving, and provocative, and teaches us a powerful lesson about humanity. We live in the face of inevitable uncertainty, but the knowledge in these pages makes us stronger and more compassionate beings.”
—Geoffrey B. Jennings, Rainy Day Books, Fairway, KS

The Gendarme
A Novel, by Mark T. Mustian”Injured in WWI, Emmet Conn suffered amnesia as a result of a head wound. Now, at 92, a brain tumor causes long-lost memories to return, as Emmet recalls an earlier life as a Turkish gendarme leading a group of Armenian refugees to the border. The
brutality and despair, filth and degradation these people must endure on the forced march mean little to him until he falls in love with Araxie, one of the Armenian refugees, and he begins to perceive his actions and his attitude through her eyes. Mesmerizing, beautiful, and heart-breaking.”
—Jennie Turner-Collins, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

The Good Daughters
A Novel, by Joyce Maynard”The Good Daughters follows the lives of two women, born on the same day, in the same hospital, to two very different families. Their lives couldn’t be less similar, but the one thing they have in common is a feeling of never quite fitting in. At times comic, at times tragic, at times horrifying, this novel is a fascinating study of what it means to be part of a family. This is not a book to simply read and enjoy, but one that that calls out to be shared and discussed.”
—Joe Eichman, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, CO

Great HouseA Novel, by Nicole Krauss”The best books haunt and sometimes confuse you. They will make you think, feel, wonder, go back to earlier chapters, and finally, fully experience the story being told. Nicole Krauss’s new book does just that and more. This powerful novel contains multiple stories of loves lost, families torn apart, and secrets kept and revealed. The suffering of many in Nazi Germany, in Pinochet’s Chile, and those seeking a new life in Israel are woven together by the narrative thread of a stolen desk. This is a powerful book that will leave you reeling.”
—Ellen Burns, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pick up "Bobby Flay's Grill It! Just in Time for Labor Day!

I know it's hot out, and maybe you aren't in the mood to grill, but Bobby Flay's Grill It! just might change your mind. With 150 recipes, divided alphabetically into chapters based on the main ingredient, you'll get great recipes for grilling everything from asparagus to white fish. The photography is inspiring and gorgeous.

Flay says, "This is the book to turn to when you know what you want, but don't know how you want it." So, if you are at the Brunswick Farmer's Market and Maxine has some really beautiful squash, pick them up! Turn to the chapter on "Squash and Eggplant" and you'll see two delicious squash recipes (and more eggplant for another time). I've tried both of the squash dishes and they were delicious and easy to prepare. If your favorite grocery store has a great buy on Salmon, Bobby Flay's Grill It! gives you 9 different recipe suggestions.

There are chapters for everything you've ever thought about grilling, plus some foods you probably never considered putting on a grill. Have you ever grilled a banana? Wow! Delicious and different, especially with the Cinnamon Orange Sauce and Dulce de Leche Ice Cream.

I've tasted about a dozen of the recipes, and my favorite was the Grilled Cremini Mushroom, Fontina and Arugula Pressed Tacos. Big wow!

And although the recipes are great, what makes this book even better is the grilling technique instruction. I always struggle with grill temperature and he covers that in each recipe. Flay offers tips on charcoal and gas grilling, plus at the beginning of each chapter, he also gives tips for shopping the best produce, meat and seafood.

This is a cookbook you could enjoy all year round, but why not pick it up now, just in time for Labor Day grilling!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks makes a convincing case that non-fiction can be just as riveting and compelling as fiction.

The book is part mystery, part history, and part story of Henrietta Lacks whose cultured cells were the first human cells to grow outside a person’s body and to survive indefinitely. Her cells enabled scientists to research the genes that cause cancer and those that check it. Her cells helped develop drugs for treating herpes, leukemia, influenza, hemophilia, and Parkinson’s disease. Henrietta’s cells were essential to the development of the polio vaccine, cloning, and gene mapping.

More than facts, this book is stories about relationships. The story begins with Henrietta growing up in Clover, Virginia, picking cotton and going to tobacco auctions in South Boston. There is the relationship between Loretta Pleasant, her nine siblings, and her husband, David Lacks. There is the journey to discover the relationship between Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah, and the mother and the sister Deborah never knew. There is the connection between the Deborah’s four siblings and their families. There is the narrative of the author’s struggle to build a relationship with the Lacks’ family. This mini-story is filled with unexpected twists and turns as the Lacks family learns about their mother, her cells, and their lack of financial compensation for Henrietta’s cells. Finally, there is the relationship between science, business, and the rights of patients. The author raises the questions of ethics in science but allows readers to make their own judgments.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a narrative which embraces scientific fact and explores human nature. The reader could skip the medical notes and still close the book knowing the undeniable impact of Henrietta Lacks on individual’s lives both past and present. I highly recommend this book.
submitted by Ruth Heany, member of Hattie's Third Tuesday Book Club

Next month we will be reading "The Room" by Emma Donoghue, a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year. Join us on each Third Thursday at Hattie's for a lively discussion and some great snacks!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meet September's Award Winning First Friday Author - Maggie Toussaint

Currently a freelance reporter, Southern author Maggie Toussaint loves to write fiction. Her romantic suspense titles include House of Lies, No Second Chance, Muddy Waters, and Seeing Red. Her debut release, House of Lies, won Best Romantic Suspense in the 2007 National Readers Choice Awards. Her mysteries include In For A Penny and On the Nickel, with Death, Island Style and Murder in the Buff contracted for release in 2012.

Maggie will be signing books and talking about writing fiction. Meet her at Hattie's Books on Friday, September 2nd. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review - House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Hosting a girl's book club is a blast! I get to read young adult fiction (one of my favorite genres) and discuss it with some very sharp middle schoolers. Often we choose our books while we hang out in Hattie's. I am usually perusing the nicely stocked Newbery section, which is where our latest book was shelved.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, received a Newbery Honor Book Award, a National Book Award and the Michael L. Printz Award For Excellence In Young Adult Literature. Some awarded books may be good literature, but in the end, don't really appeal to kids. That was most definitely NOT the case with this book. We all were completely taken in by the book, once we got past untangling the many characters. 

The futuristic story of Matt, a clone being raised for spare parts, is both shocking and believable. The story takes place in a empire called Opium between the United States and Azatlan (formerly Mexico). Matt is the clone of the 141-year-old drug lord emperor of Opium, Matteo Alacran. Clones are despised outcasts in this society and often treated worse than animals. Matt experiences periods of care and deprivation. 

The people who love him do what they can to protect and educate him, which ultimately keeps the story engaging. Here is what some of our book club girls had to say about House of the Scorpion.

SBS said, "This book was amazing! The whole idea was so clever and intriguing. I loved the plot and characters!"

AB said, "House of the Scorpion was an absolute page turner. I just couldn't put it down. This was one of my favorites!"

BH said, "Personally, I loved it! It's a really good book, and it had me turning pages faster (and faster). The whole futuristic, born in a cow, I'm a clone, and the end part (which I shall not reveal :D) all had me going! It was awesome."

I finished House of the Scorpion quickly, before most of the girls started it. After reading it, I was confident that the girls would love it, once they got started. Several of the girls needed encouragement through the early part of the book, but they were so happy they stuck with it!

Highly recommended! (not just for kids!!!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New in Paperback - August 2011

Each month we will publish our picks among the books just becoming available in paperback. This month's selections range from the quirky ("Swamplandia!") to the futuristic ("Adam & Eve"). See something you'd like to read? Contact Marcia at Hattie's (912-554-8677) and she'll put one aside for you!

Adam & Eve
A Novel, by Sena Jeter Naslund
A story about "a futuristic Eden... powerfully told, incorporating romance adventure and suspense. Another orginial novel from a marvelous author." 
—Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

Bury Your Dead
A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel,
by Louise Penny
”Engaging characters from previous books make their appearances, but it isn’t necessary to have read the others to totally enjoy this book. Heartily recommended for all lovers of good mysteries.”
—Ann Carlson, Harborwalk Books, Georgetown, SC

Let’s Take the Long Way Home
A Memoir of Friendship, 
by Gail Caldwell
”This is the heart-warming and heart-wrenching story of the author’s deep friendship with writer Caroline Knapp. An honest and unforgettable tribute to best friends.”
—Ellen Jarrett, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

Moonlight Mile

A Kenzie and Gennaro Novel,
by Dennis Lehane
”Lehane is a master at exploring—yet not answering or resolving—difficult issues of morality and individual and social responsibility, all while giving the reader great dialogue, unexpected plot twists, and unforgettable characters. This is a sequel worthy of its predecessor.”
—Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL


A Novel, by Karen Russell
"Located in the Florida Everglades, the Swamplandia island theme park is also home to the Bigtrees, a family of alligator wrestlers. When the mom and star of the show dies... Dad heads to the mainland to find investors, while his three teenagers are left to deal with their losses.”
—Michael Keefe, Annie Bloom’s Books, Portland, OR

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Club Review - The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow

Looking for a light summer beach read? Skip, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. But, if you want a thought-provoking drama with rich characters, story and imagery, then you just might want to read this first novel by Heidi Durrow. As the book begins, the main character, Rachel, is just eleven. She has gone to Portland, Oregon to live with a grandmother she hardly knows and she is self-consciously putting on the role of "new girl." We find out quickly that she has been orphaned by a terrible tragedy, she is biracial and the year is 1982. 

Rachel, like the author, has an African-American serviceman father and a Danish mother. Most of Rachel's early life was lived in Europe, so she is unprepared for the response to her racial identity in America. We learn with Rachel what it means to be biracial in America.

The story unfolds in narratives by the main characters; each chapter titled by the character relating their view of the story. Rachel's chapter's are told in first person and they were my favorite. I love the voice that Durrow gives Rachel. She is both a perceptive observer and a determined survivor. By the time she reaches high school, Rachel knows "how to answer the questions differently..., I'm black. I'm from Northeast Portland." Of course these are half truths and lies, but it is easier than trying to explain the complications of her heritage and situation.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky may be a perfect book club book. Hattie's Third Thursday Book Club had a great time digging into the story and issues presented by the book. Not everyone loved the book as much as I did, but I most people felt that it was a worthwhile read. For me, the beauty of Durrow's language triumphed over the sadness of the story. 

Want to read it? Already read it? Leave a comment and get in on the discussion!

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Friday Author - August 5

Every First Friday, Hattie's Books hosts an author. Come by, enjoy some great refreshments and get your copy of the author's book signed! On Friday, August 5th, Jesse Tullos will be signing his book "The Red Terrors," a true story about the players, coaches and fans of Glynn Academy's football team in 1964 Georgia. It is the story of a young coach, and a talented and determined core group of only 14 players.

Jesse Tullos grew up in Brunswick, Georgia, and graduated from Glynn Academy. He currently resides in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Tullos received his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism and retired 35 years later after an award-winning career as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor. In 2007, the South Carolina General Assembly honored him for his contributions to journalism with a formal resolution upon his retirement. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

June Book Club Selection


Hailed as one of the best books of 2010 by The New York TimesThe Washington Post and O: The Oprah MagazineMajor Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson received a big thumbs up from Hattie's third Thursday book club as well.

As with everything we read, there were various degrees of enthusiasm, but I'd have to say that this novel, set in the present day English countryside, was universally enjoyed. I absolutely loved it.

I loved the humorous mix of characters and the story of an unexpected friendship that turns into something more.

First, the story -- Simonson tells a wonderful love story that begins quietly on the first page and continues through to the end. The expected ups and downs of this particular love story focus on cultural and class differences of the pair. Major Pettigrew, born in Lahore (now part of Pakistan) is British. Mrs. Ali, born in England is of Pakistani descent. Both have lost their spouses, both love literature and both love "a properly brewed cup of  tea". Pettrigew is a retired army major, Mrs. Ali is a shopkeeper, soon to be "forcibly" retired by relatives. Many relatives, friends and societal norms complicate matters as their relationship develops.

The characters range from witty, charming and graceful to self-absorbed, stubborn and vain. The central characters, Mrs. Ali and Major Pettigrew are both very likeable, Mrs. Ali for her intelligence and kindness; Major Pettigew for his basic decency and his sense of humor. His barbed musings on his life in Edgecomb St. Mary's are very funny, but his musings about his insufferable son Roger are the best. Although many of the characters border on caricature, I found they mostly lent humor and sweetness to the story. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

May Book Club Selection

The Help

by Kathryn Stockett
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

April Book Club Selection

Cutting for Stone 
by Abraham Verghese
The story is a riveting saga of twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone, born of a tragic union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, and bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. But it's love, not politics -- their passion for the same woman -- that will tear them apart and force Marion to flee his homeland and make his way to America, finding refuge in his work at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him, wreaking havoc and destruction, Marion has to entrust his life to the two men he has trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.