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New Orleans author leads readers on ‘The Last Great Walk’

Photo provided by Wayne Curtis --

Author Wayne Curtis takes a seat, facing me with his back to the tall windows of his Uptown home. I can see outside, where I note a steady stream of walkers on the street. Curtis has returned a few days earlier from his annual trip to Maine, where he spends four months “at the edge of nowhere”… Continue reading →

N.O. voices captured well in characters’ stories

'You Don't Know Me' by James Nolan

“You Don’t Know Me: New & Selected Stories” by James Nolan. University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 2014. $20. Anyone who is familiar with New Orleans knows it is home to a population that is soulful, proud, creative and often quirky, to say the least. No… Continue reading →

Take rhyme journey with ‘New Orleans Mother Goose’

New Orleans Mother Goose

“New Orleans Mother Goose” by Ryan Adam. Pelican Publishing, 2014. $17.99. Marita’s Gentry’s gorgeous illustrations make New Orleans jump off the pages in this fun take on various New Orleans themed-nursery rhymes. Ryan Adam takes readers on journeys throughout New Orleans and Louisiana with each rhyme… Continue reading →

‘No Surrender’ for author Hiaasen, or for hero Skink

It all started when a writer needed a character who was a hermit. “I was writing about murder and corruption on the professional bass fishing circuit,” said bestselling novelist Carl Hiaasen. “It was territory I pretty much had to myself in the literary world.” And so he created Skink, who first appeared… Continue reading →

Book sure to bring smiles to children’s faces

Spaghetti Smiles

“Spaghetti Smiles” by Margo Sorenson. Pelican Publishing, 2014. $16.99. Upon learning that his Uncle Rocco’s Italian restaurant may have to close unless he finds another tenant to move in next door, Jake sets about the neighborhood to help save the restaurant and in the process find the perfect solution… Continue reading →

Alan Furst bests himself in depiction of exiled Spaniard

“Midnight in Europe” by Alan Furst. Random House, 2014. $27. Midnight, the Devil’s hour, Europe in 1938: Franco and the Nationalists near victory in the Spanish Civil War, Hitler absorbs Austria, Chamberlain and Daladier abandon Czechoslovakia at Munich. Darkness leads only to pitch black; war will surely come in… Continue reading →

Ex-Mayor Schiro’s tale sheds light on modern N.O.

“Mayor Victor H. Schiro: New Orleans in Transition 1961-1970” by Edward F. Hass. University of Mississippi Press, 2014. $35. Edward F. Haas brings over a decade’s worth of research to his study of former New Orleans Mayor Victor H. Schiro. The book traces Schiro’s early adult life… Continue reading →

New Orleans changes boy’s life in new book

“New Orleans Spirit: A Tchoupitoulas Life” by Richard Edgar Zwez. Createspace, 2014. $15. Tired of moving from town to town with his artist mother, Johnny Smith begs his mother to consider New Orleans as one of their future destinations. The move would put them close to family… Continue reading →

Burn’s ‘Sugar Skull’ a powerful read for adults

“Sugar Skull” by Charles Burns. Pantheon, 2014. $23. In this reality-bending third installment, we follow Dougy, a normal man dealing with his past, and Johnny, his alter ego. The story flashes back and forth between reality and a semidream state where things can get very unusual. Dougy, dealing with… Continue reading →

A vision of betrayal ‘Perfidia’ takes readers to WWII era

“Perfidia” by James Ellroy. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. $28.95. Los Angeles, Dec. 6-29, 1941: The eve and immediate aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor is the setting for James Ellroy’s new crime novel, “Perfidia.” The title reveals the theme: betrayal by all, in every conceivable manner. Ellroy’s… Continue reading →

Readers in danger of getting caught in ‘The Web’

“The Web” by Jonathan Kelleramn. Ballantine, 2014. $24. In Jonathan Kellerman’s thriller, “The Web,” you are taken on a roller-coaster ride of events that can only be compared with the television show “Lost.” “The Web” takes place on the island of Aruk, where Dr. Alex Delaware arrives for… Continue reading →

Life in hiding: Book explores Nazi fugitive

'Eichmann Before Jerusalem' by Bettina Stangneth

“Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer” by Bettina Stangneth, translated by Ruth Martin. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. $35 Adolf Eichmann was the definition of Absolute Evil. As coordinator of the Nazi “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” he was responsible for at least 6 million deaths.… Continue reading →

Story of 4 Civil War women ambitious, thrilling

“Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” by Karen Abbott. HarperCollins, 2014. $27.99 It’s an ambitious undertaking to write the stories of four women who, by necessity of their sex and their missions, became masters of subterfuge during the Civil War. Their stories are fraught with the tension of being found out —… Continue reading →

Book Festival Wordshops schedule set

The Louisiana Book Festival announced its WordShops 2014 schedule. Set for Oct. 31 at the State Library of Louisiana and the Capitol Park Museum, the WordShops feature local and national faculty teaching classes designed to emphasize the craft of writing. Among the offerings are “Finding the Story” by Jill McCorkle, $85 for the full… Continue reading →

‘Marvel’-ous collection has comic book fans covered

“Marvel Comics: 75 years of Cover Art” by Alan Cowsil. DK Publishing, 2014. $50. This is a magnificent collection covering 75 years of Marvel comic book covers. The book is divided into four different chapters: The Golden Age (1938-1956); The Silver Age (1956-1970); The Bronze… Continue reading →

Story of Up Stairs Lounge killing an emotional read

“The Up Stairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a New Orleans Gay Bar June 24, 1973” by Clayton Delery-Edwards. Mc Farland & Company Inc., 2014. $40. On June 24, 1973, the fire at the Up Stairs Lounge was the deadliest fire in the history of New Orleans.… Continue reading →

‘People of Morning Star’ reveals truths

“People of the Morning Star” by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear. Tor, 2014. $25.99. There’s a misconception that when Europeans came to the Americas, they came to a land of savages completely lacking in any kind of civilization. But nothing could be further from the truth. Native Americans built… Continue reading →

‘Hurricane Boy’ finds answers after Katrina

“Hurricane Boy” by Laura Roach Dragon. Pelican Publishing, 2014. $8.95. When we first meet Hollis Williams in the days before Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, he is living with his grandmother and siblings in the lower Ninth Ward. His mother is dead and his father long since abandoned them. While getting ready… Continue reading →

Book Events, July 20, 2014

Book events Baton Rouge Tuesday, July 22 Books to movies club: 7 p.m., Jones Creek Regional Library, 6222 Jones Creek Road. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen. (225) 756-1180. Denham Springs Saturday, July 26 Magic Treehouse: 10:30 a.m., Denham Springs-Walker Branch Library, 8101 U.S. 190. Ages 6-11 will find… Continue reading →

‘Dollbaby’ recalls racial upheaval of 1960s New Orleans

'Dollbaby' by Laura McNeal

Poring over newspaper archives from July 4, 1964, she discovered an article reporting that President Lyndon Baines Johnson had signed the civil rights act into law. In the same issue was a half-page ad taken out by a list of civic and business leaders of the era, urging “peace and order” at a time that had the potential… Continue reading →

‘Walk the French Quarter’ with easy guide, map

“Let’s Walk the French Quarter” by Kerri McCaffety. Pelican Publishing, 2014. $19.95. If you are looking for an easy-to-follow walking guide to the French Quarter for yourself or a friend coming to town, this is a great book! Filled with Kerri McCaffety’s photography, this book is divided into three sections — places, food… Continue reading →

Characters shine in emotional story

“Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands” by Chris Bohjalian. Doubleday, 2014. $25.95. Full disclosure: I’m a big Emily Dickinson fan, too. Not as much as Emily Shepard, the character around whom Chris Bohjalian’s latest book revolves. I don’t, for instance, adopt the names of Dickinson’s friends, after… Continue reading →

‘Diet Fix’ a straightforward guide to managing weight

“The Diet Fix. Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work” by Yoni Freedhoff, M.D. Harmony Books, 2013. $25.99. This is not exactly a diet book. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, family medicine practitioner and blogger at Weighty Matters, offers realistic ideas on how to manage what we consume… Continue reading →

Book Events for June 29, 2014

Book events Baton Rouge Thursday, July 10 Donor Reception-Glen “Big Baby” Davis Foundation: 6 p.m., Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Join the fun for the Summer Soiree Donor Reception during the 4th Annual Booking It With Baby Tour on the Rooftop Terrace of the new library. Music by Christien Bold featuring the Chicken… Continue reading →

Wirt’s Smith biography a great summer read

“Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues” by John Wirt. LSU Press, 2014. $25.95. One of my favorite books about music is “Mitchell & Ruff: An American Profile in Jazz,” William Zinsser’s account of a 1981 visit to China by the American pianist Dwike Mitchell and his musical… Continue reading →

‘Twelve Minutes’ and more of delightful reading

“Twelve Minutes to Midnight” by Christopher Edge. Albert Whitman & Co., 2014. $16.99. The year is 1899 and Penelope Treadwell, a 13-year-old orphan, is running the Penny Dreadful, a popular London magazine left to her by her parents. Penelope, writing under the pseudonym of Montgomery Flinch, writes gothic tales filled… Continue reading →

Diminished expectations for ‘Professor and Siren’

“The Professor and the Siren” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, translated by Stephen Twilley. New York Review of Books, 2014. $12.95. Last scion of a noble Sicilian family, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1896-1957) pondered for years writing a novel about the impact of the… Continue reading →

Dixie Kane writing contest seeks entries

Dixie Kane writing contest seeks entries Advocate news services The Southern Louisiana Chapter of Romance Writers of America is seeking entries for the ninth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Contest. The national competition, which honors late SOLA member Linda Kay West who wrote as Dixie Kane, aims to encourage authors to… Continue reading →

UL center to host book discussions, signings

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Center for Louisiana Studies is hosting Bayou State Book Talks, a series of discussions and book signings. Events will be held the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the South Regional Library, 6101 Johnston St., Lafayette. “We want to let people in our community know… Continue reading →

‘What to Talk About’ gives readers plenty to laugh, talk about

“What to Talk About: On a Plane, at a Cocktail Party, in a Tiny Elevator With Your Boss’s Boss” by Chris Colin and Rob Baedecker. Chronicle Books, 2014. $14.95. Have you ever found yourself at company get-together or in a drive-by conversation with a stranger and tried to start a conversation and then mumbled something incoherent? Authors Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker… Continue reading →

Winans book sees resurgence

Cyril Vetter

Back in the day, it was a rite of passage for Louisiana politicians to visit the Baton Rouge studio of photographer Fonville Winans and have their portrait taken. Some 20 of those portraits are included in Cyril Vetter’s book, “Fonville Winans’ Louisiana: Politics People & Places.” Many are also included in the current exhibit of Winans’… Continue reading →