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