‘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 →

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 →

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 →

Real-life rise from poor to the palace has uneven ending

“The Shadow Queen” by Sandra Gulland. Doubleday, 2014. $25.95. Set in 17th-century France, this book based on real-life events, manages to hit nearly every layer of the highly stratified medival society. As the daughter of persecuted actors, Claude grows up a bone-poor vagabond, but through happenstance, hard work and crafty … Continue reading →

‘Ada and the Doc’ book on old murder case gets new life

Franklin historian Pam Heffner and retired Nicholls State University librarian Fran Middleton can tell you a lot about Ada LeBoeuf and Dr. Thomas Dreher. Heffner spearheaded a three-year effort to have the 2000 Charles M. Hargroder book, “Ada and the Doc: An Account of the Ada Leboeuf-Thomas Dreher Murder Case,” reprinted so that the mostly forgotten but … Continue reading →

Romance and horror intermingle at Hotel Florida

“Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War” by Amanda Vaill. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014. $30. “Hotel Florida” is a beautiful and brave book about an awful and terrifying time, the bloody prologue to what became World War II. Spain’s Civil War (July … Continue reading →

Mitchard’s mystery series engaging

“What We Saw at Night” by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Soho Teen, 2013. $17.99. Allie suffers from xeroderma pigmentosum, a disease for which exposure to the sun can be deadly, that means she must avoid the sun completely. At night, she and two friends, Rob and Juliet, also suffering from XP, decide to partake in … Continue reading →

Word on the streets in N.O.

“Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names” by Sally Asher. The History Press, 2014. $19.99. “Bourbon Street: A History” by Richard Campanella. LSU Press, 2014. $35. Place names are a fascinating slice of culture, especially in Louisiana, which has a … Continue reading →

Majesty of St. Francisville area captured in pictures

“The Majesty of St. Francisville” photography by Kerri McCafferty and text by Lee Malone. Pelican Publishing, 2014. $22.95. If you are looking for a gift or table book with great pictures and a brief narrative that covers the beautiful homes and areas of St Francisville, then this is a nice compilation. … Continue reading →

Images capture uniqueness of N.O.

“An Artist’s Vision of New Orleans. The Paintings of Alan Flattmann” by John R. Kemp. Pelican Publishing Co., 2014. $40. Renowned pastel artist and native New Orleanian Alan Flattman’s images capture life around New Orleans. With text written by John R. Kemp, they take us … Continue reading →

Unreasonable Book on French history unconvincing

“The Embrace of Unreason: France, 1914-1940” by Frederick Brown. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. $28.95 In “The Embrace of Unreason,” Frederick Brown contends that France and the French lost their way in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, succumbing to the siren song of irrational ideologies, philosophies … Continue reading →

‘Sticks and Stones’ sends message to bullies

“Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy” by Emily Bazelon. Random House, 2014. $16. Bullying is one of the buzzwords in schools today, but it’s a word that is quite difficult to define. And it’s often difficult to discover until it’s … Continue reading →

Thrilling history of American flight

“The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh and the Epic Age of Flight” by Winston Groom. National Geographic, 2013. $30. That the imagination that conceived “Forrest Gump” could conjure up fresh ways to tell stories of American history is astonishing. A … Continue reading →

‘Children of Paradise’ takes unpredictable jungle ride

“Children of Paradise” by Fred D’Aguiar. Harper, 2014. $25.99. Jim Jones, the preacher who lead his flock to a grape-tinged death in the jugles of Guyana, left a deep scar in that country. It’s easy to see the jagged edges in Fred D’Aguiar’s novel “Children of Paradise” about a nameless, Elvis-obsessed … Continue reading →

‘Yankee Dutchmen’ fascinating

“Yankee Dutchmen Under Fire: Civil War Letters from the 82nd Illinois Infantry,” translated and edited by Joseph R. Reinhart. Kent State, 2013. $45. Unbeknownst to many of us, a fair amount of Civil War soldiers, on both sides, were foreign-born. On … Continue reading →

Friends with benefits — and lots of influence

“Friendfluence” by Carlin Flora. Doubleday, 2013. $25.95. In “Friendfluence,” Carlin Flora offers up a new way to think not just of our friends but of ourselves. This isn’t exactly a self-help book, but more of a “why are my friends my friends” book. From early in … Continue reading →

Painful ordeal

“Exoskeleton” by Shane Stadler. Dark Hall Press, 2012. $2.99 for Kindle. Most horror dealing with torture is related from the perspective of the torturer, shedding light on why he or she enjoys doing to others what to most of us would be repugnant while putting the reader in … Continue reading →

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