Thursday, May 28, 2015

#ThrowbackThursday: The Catch by Taylor Stevens

As we anticipate the next installment in the Vanessa Michael Munroe series from Taylor Stevens this summer, please take a look at my review of the previous book, last summer's The Catch.

The Catch, Taylor Stevens
Crown Publishers
978-0-385-34893-5
$24, 368 pgs

Vanessa Michael Munroe is back in The CatchTaylor Stevens’ fourth novel. I have reviewed this series for Crown Publishers since its debut and The Catch is worthy of its predecessors. After the overwhelming events of The Doll, Munroe has fled to the relative quiet of a backwater in Djibouti, signing on as a linguist and fixer for a maritime security team (read “mercenaries”). You know – tasks she can perform with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back. Of course, this vacation doesn’t last long.

Munroe discovers that the ship for which they are providing security is transporting more than rice as the captain deliberately diverges from their course and into Somali waters. Pirates turn out not to be the only problem, just the most immediate. Curiously, the pirates are apparently under orders not to harm the captain and this appears to be no random hijacking. What do they want with the captain? And what will happen when Munroe escapes to Mombasa with the captain in tow?

Once Munroe arrives back in civilization, such as it is, and delivers the unconscious captain to a hospital, she is free to leave this debacle behind her. Right? Free to go home or to Timbuktu (which is closer). But if you’ve read the first three books then you know that Munroe’s finely honed sense of justice won’t allow her to leave that ship out there, her team and the crew hostage. The plan to save the day is complicated and intricate and a thing of beauty.

Taylor Stevens
The Catch has a slower pace than The Doll, the third volume in the series. Nothing happens quickly in the somnolence of equatorial Africa and that includes the climax of this tale which takes up eight chapters – almost sixty pages. I believe I described The Doll as beginning like a thoroughbred out of the gate at Aqueduct. This one is more like a big cat stalking you – a twig snapping in the jungle, a slightly darker shadow in your peripheral vision. Stevens tunes the tension, winding you tighter and tighter, until you think something just might snap. Munroe is, as ever, a unique character in the suspense/thriller genre. USA Today compared her to Ludlum’s Jason Bourne and I would have to agree wholeheartedly. Now that’s a thought: Munroe v Bourne. I don’t know who I’d put my money on.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

In Memoriam


It is Memorial Day here in the United States of America. Today we remember our fallen and their families. We remember that our beloved country exists today thanks to the convictions and bravery of men and women willing to fight to the last for what should be universal truths.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed - Declaration of Independence
You don't have to agree with and support every move your country makes in order to be a patriot. There are plenty of things wrong here; I will not name them today. There are many more things that are right here; I will not name them today. I will say that patriotism means loving your country enough to gaze at it with eyes wide open, to appreciate and celebrate the good, and to examine that which must be improved with honesty and introspection. Patriotism demands that you get to work in support of the country that supports you, in whatever way you can.

In keeping with the literary theme of this blog, I offer you an essay by Lt. General William James Lennox, Jr., MA and PhD in Literature from Princeton University and fifty-sixth Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, on teaching literature and poetry to soldiers.

Romance and Reality
By Lt. Gen. William James Lennox Jr. 
As I write this, American soldiers serve in harm's way in places such as Mosul, Fallujah, and Jalalabad. For young leaders in today's Army, the war on terror constitutes a difficult and sometimes tragic reality.

Meanwhile, in the small classrooms of West Point, young cadets consider war through the eyes of Rudyard Kipling, Carl Sandburg, and John McCrae. During his or her plebe year, every West Point cadet takes a semester of English literature, reading and discussing poetry from Ovid to Owen, Spenser to Springsteen ("Thunder Road" provides a catalogue of poetic devices). Cadets must also recite poems from memory, a challenge that many graduates recall years later as one of their toughest hurdles.

Like warfare, poetry can result from the collision between romance and reality, as the ironic title of Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" memorably observes. So too, our new cadets arrive full of romantic idealism, then spend the next forty-seven months at the Academy learning the pragmatic realities of discipline, integrity, and leadership.

Why, in an age of increasingly technical and complex warfare, would America's future combat leaders spend sixteen weeks studying the likes of simile, irony, rhyme, and meter?

Those who can't communicate can't lead. Poetry, because it describes reality with force and concision, provides an essential tool for effective communication. Like most colleges, West Point emphasizes both verbal and written communication skills, and our faculty evaluates cadets on their substance, style, organization, and correctness. In studying poetry, cadets gain a unique appreciation for the power of language. From alliteration to onomatopoeia, the poet's tools allow words to transcend the limitations of syntax. We may hear that transcendence in Shakespeare's imagery and Whitman's passion, but it is there as well in the closing cadence of MacArthur's farewell: "when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the corps, and the corps, and the corps." We do not hold our cadets to this standard of stentorian elegance; we do, however, teach them to appreciate what makes this language different.

Second, poetry confronts cadets with new ideas that challenge their worldview. The West Point curriculum includes poetry, history, philosophy, politics, and law, because these subjects provide a universe of new ideas, different perspectives, competing values and conflicting emotions. In combat, our graduates face similar challenges: whether to fire at a sniper hiding in a mosque, or how to negotiate agreements between competing tribal leaders. Schoolbook solutions to these problems do not exist; combat leaders must rely on their own morality, their own creativity, their own wits. In teaching cadets poetry, we teach them not what to think, but how to think.

Finally, poetry gives our cadets a new and vital way to see the world, a world that many of my generation could not have imagined. When I entered West Point in the summer of 1967, Academy graduates were waging a very Cold War in central Europe and a very hot war in the jungles of Southeast Asia. In the thirty-eight years since, countless changes, some magnificent and some tragic, have shaped a very different future for my grandson.

Often, these tectonic shifts in history and society resist clear exposition, particularly when these shifts involve armed conflict. Louis Simpson noted this elusiveness when he wrote:

To a foot soldier, war is almost entirely physical. That is why some men, when they think about war, fall silent. Language seems to falsify physical life and to betray those who have experienced it absolutely—the dead.
Since the Iliad, poetry has allowed its writers to capture wars chaos and horror with a power that other artists lacked. One can, for example, read a hundred accounts of the Crimean War, but none of them will convey its pointless barbarity like Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade." Those few stanzas convey the romance and reality of warfare more clearly than any other medium.

We may not produce a poet laureate at the United States Military Academy. If, however, we develop graduates who can communicate clearly, think critically, and appreciate the world through different perspectives, we will provide the Army and the nation with better leaders.
Originally Published: March 1, 2006, Poetry Magazine

Monday Roundup: May 25 - 31

Bookish events in Texas for the week of May 25 - 31, 2015:  
Special Events:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Exhibition, Austin, February 10 - July 6

Humanities Texas Special Exhibition: Shakespeare, Longview, May 15 - July 25

ComicPalooza, Houston, May 22 - 25

Fan Expo Dallas, May 29 - 31

Monday, May 25:
Memorial Day Holiday

Tuesday, May 26:

The Wild Detectives, Mark Falkin will be presenting and signing his new novel Contract City, 7:30PM

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, Fort Worth Poetry Slam, 8PM

Frisco
B&N - Stonebriar Mall, Nate Ball signs Alien in My Pocket #5 Ohm vs. Amp, 5PM

Houston
Brazos Bookstore, Mat Johnson reads and signs LOVING DAY, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Mary Kay Andrews will sign and discuss Beach Town, 6:30PM

Wednesday, May 27:
Murder By the Book, Matthew Palmer will sign and discuss his thriller Secrets of State, 6:30PM

Thursday, May 28:

Friday, May 29:
B&N - Town & Country, Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein, the Stars of TLC's The Little Couple, sign Life Is Short (No Pun Intended) Love, Laughter, and Learning to Enjoy Every Moment, 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, Luke Jacob reads and signs A HOLE IN THE LIGHT, 7PM

Midland
B&N, Author Frank Romano signs Love and Terror in the Middle East, 4PM

San Antonio
B&N - La Cantera, Sagebrush Review Release Party and Reading, 7PM

Saturday, May 30:
Fort Worth
Half Price Books - Hulen, Brandie Wiley will sell and sign her children’s book Three Magic Words, 1PM
Frisco
B&N - Stonebriar Mall, Mike Rodriguez signs Finding Your WHY Discover Your Life's Purpose, 2PM

Galveston
Galveston Bookshop, Joseph R. Pellerin reads and signs Galveston’s Tree Carvings, 3PM

Houston
B&N - West Oaks Village, Mandy Levy signs Calorie Accounting, 2PM

B&N - Westheimer, George Clinton, as he signs his memoir, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin Kinda Hard On You?, 4PM

Murder By the Book, Lindsday Cummings will sign and discuss The Murder Complex 2: The Death Code, 4:30PM

River Oaks Bookstore, Robert Marovich reads and signs A City Called Heaven: Chicago And the Birth of Gospel Music, 4PM

Mesquite
Half Price Books, James Howell will sign Countdown to Atomgeddon, 1PM

Tyler
B&N, Frank Romano signs Love and Terror in the Middle East, 12PM

The Woodlands
B&N - The Woodlands, Kim O'Brien signs Bone Deep, 2PM

Sunday, May 31:
Austin
Antone's Record Shop, Alan Schaefer will sign Homegrown, 3PM

B&N - Lakeline, Mandy Levy signs Calorie Accounting, 6PM

BookPeople, Popular Blogger JIA JIANG speaking & signing Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, 1PM

Malvern Books, An Afternoon with Angela Genusa & Stephen McLaughlin, 2PM

Dallas
The Wild Detectives, Chef Aaron Franklin signs Franklin Barbecue - A Meat Smoking Manifesto + MEAT, 5PM

El Paso
Eloise, Huizache release party with Dagoberto Gilb, Denise Chavez, Tim Z. Hernandez and Yasmin Ramirez, 4PM

Jefferson
First United Methodist Church, Mitchel Whitington will present his book 23 A Country Preacher, His Grandson, And A Devotional That Will Change Your Life, 9:45AM

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, dual book launch for After the Gazebo by Jen Knox and the new poetry chapbook, A Liquid Bird Inside the Night by Alexandra Van De Kamp, 5PM

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Roundup: May 18 - 24

Bookish events in Texas for the week of May 18 - 24, 2015:  

Special Events:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Exhibition, Austin, February 10 - July 6

Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers, Houston,
May 18 - 22

Austin Author Affair, May 22 - 24

ComicPalooza, Houston, May 22 - 25

Monday, May 18:

Murder By the Book, Neal Griffin will sign and discuss Benefit of the Doubt, 6:30PM

Richardson
Richardson Public Library, Author and University of Texas at Dallas Creative Writing teacher Blake Kimzey will present “Writing Out of the Wilderness: How to Survive Rejection and Forge a Path to Publication,” 7PM

Tuesday, May 19:
Austin
BookPeople, Bestselling Author JILLIAN LAUREN speaking & signing Everything You Ever Wanted, 7PM

grayDUCK Gallery, fields presents Disparate Elements, a new reading series celebrating some of the most exciting authors working in Austin and beyond, featuring Janalyn Guo, Richard Santos, Tatiana Ryckman, and Callie Collins, 7PM

Spider House Cafe & BallroomAustin Poetry Slam, 8PM

Dallas
First United Methodist Church of Dallas, Anthony Doerr & Jim Shepard: Compassion and Catastrophe, 7:30PM

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, Fort Worth Poetry Slam, 8PM

Houston
Brazos Bookstore, Jorge Luis Gonzalez Romo reads and signs THE CANTICLE OF THE WARRIOR, 7PM

Houston Maritime Museum, Dr. Jeremiah Dancy lectures from his new book The Myth of the Press Gang, 7PM
Murder By the Book, Stephen Hunter will sign and discuss I, Ripper, 6:30PM

Writespace, Writers of Color Reading and Reception with Julia Brown, Ima Oduok, Liana Silva, Mary Redd Francine Parker, and Charles Redd, 7:30PM

Sachse
Sachse Public Library, Author Con featuring local authors, 6:PM

The Woodlands
B&N - The Woodlands Mall, Richard Rawlings signs Fast N' Loud Blood, Sweat and Beers, 7PM

Wednesday, May 20:
Austin
B&N - Arboretum, Chris Harrison signs The Perfect Letter A Novel, 7PM

BookPeople, Journalist ASHER PRICE speaking & signing Year of the Dunk: A Modest Defiance of Gravity, 7PM

BookWoman, celebrate BookWoman's 40th anniversary with Strange Pilgrims: A Poetry Reading
featuring poets Laurie Filipelli, Carrie Fountain, Lisa Olstein,Laurie Saurborn & Sasha West, 7PM

Dallas
The Wild Detectives, Antonio Ruiz-Camacho reads and signs Barefoot Dogs, 7PM

Houston


The Heritage Society, Jerry & Marvy Finger Lecture Series: One Hundred Years of Educating Houston and the World: The San Jacinto Memorial Building presented by Grace Cynkar, 12PM


The Woodlands
B&N - Woodlands Mall, Richard Rawlings signs Fast N' Loud Blood, Sweat and Beers, 7PM

Friday, May 22:
Waco
B&N - Circuit City Plaza, Hot Summer Nights: Meet local Texas romance writers Lorelei Buckley, Terry Spear, Linda LaRoque, Debra Jupe, Susan JP Owens and Nese Lane, 6:30PM

Saturday, May 23:
B&N - Lincoln Park, Craig Johnson signs Dry Bones (Walt Longmire Series #11), 3PM

The Reading Room, SHAPE ZINES, 12PM

Frisco
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, reading by Richard Hell, the author of I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp, 2PM

Half Price Books - Westheimer, Children’s author Shirley Jordan-Bellamy will sign her children’s books, 1PM

Katy Budget Books, Kathleen Baldwin discusses and signs her young adult novel A School for Unusual Girls, 2PM

Murder By the Book, Ace Atkins will sign and discuss Robert B. Parker's Kickback and Lyndsay Faye will sign and discuss her new book, The Fatal Flame, 4:30PM

River Oaks Bookstore, Katherine Center reads and signs Happiness for Beginners, 4PM

Humble
Half Price Books, local author and motivational speaker Ihsan Hasan will sell and sign his book From Male to Man, 1PM

Lubbock
B&N, Eighth Grave After Dark signing by Darynda Jones, 1PM

Round Rock
B&N - La Frontera, Felix Bamirin signs Forgiving Forward: The Redemption Role of the Forgiven, 2PM

Half Price Books, local author Don Forrester will sign his inspirational autobiography More Than Enough, 1PM

San Antonio

Southlake
B&N - Town Square, Tim Scott signs Ben Hogan The Myths Everyone Knows, the Man No One Knew, 11AM

The Woodlands
B&N - The Woodlands, Victoria Broussard Esq signs i-Comfortable Victim, 2PM

Sunday, May 24:

Houston

San Antonio
B&N - San Pedro, contributors read from Blended Writers on the Stepfamily Experience, 1PM

Friday, May 15, 2015

Monday Roundup: May 11 - 17

Bookish events in Texas for the week of May 11 - 17, 2015:

Special Events:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Exhibition, Austin, February 10 - July 6

RT (fka Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention, Dallas, May 12 - 17

Monday, May 11:
Austin
BookPeople, Novelist KAMY WICOFF speaking & signing Wishful Thinking, 7PM

BookWoman, Annelies Zijderveld discusses and signs Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea, 7PM

Beaumont
ART MUSEUM OF SOUTHEAST TEXAS, Jamie Brickhouse reading, signing, Q&A and reception for Dangerous When Wet, 5:30PM

Dallas
B&N - Lincoln Park, Rainbow Rowell signs Fangirl (B&N Exclusive Collector's Edition), 7PM

Parish Episcopal School - Midway Campus, David Brooks presents The Road to Character: The Humble Journey to an Excellent Life, 7PM

Fort Worth
B&N - Hulen, Taya Kyle signs American Wife A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal, 7PM

Houston
Murder By the Book, Matthew Pearl will sign and discuss his new release, The Last Bookaneer, 6:30PM

Wortham Center, Inprint House Margarett Root Brown reading series presents Geoff Dyer, 7:30PM

Tuesday, May 12:
Austin
BookPeople, Co-Founder of HelloGiggles SOPHIA RIVKA ROSSI speaking & signing A Tale of Two Besties: A Hello Giggles Novel, 7PM

Spider House Cafe & BallroomAustin Poetry Slam, 8PM

Dallas
B&N - Lincoln Park, Jen Lancaster signs I Regret Nothing A Memoir, 7PM

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, Fort Worth Poetry Slam, 8PM

Houston
B&N - River Oaks, George Bush signs 41 A Portrait of My Father, 3PM

Brazos Bookstore, Jamie Brickhouse reads and signs DANGEROUS WHEN WET, 7PM

Warehouse Live, Houston Moth StorySLAM: Chemistry, 7:30PM

San Antonio
Gemini Ink, Actress & poet Amber Tamblyn reads from her new book Dark Sparkler and poet and publisher Derrick Brown reads from his latest collection, Our Poison Horse, 8PM

The Twig Book Shop, Kamy Wicoff reads and signs Wishful Thinking, 6PM

Wednesday, May 13:
Fort Worth
B&N - Hulen, Richard Rawlings signs Fast N' Loud Blood, Sweat and Beers, 7PM

Houston
Blue Willow Bookshop, Annelies Zijderveld will discuss and sign her cookbook, STEEPED: RECIPES INFUSED WITH TEA, 7PM

Menil Collection, The Watchful Eye: A WITS Student Reading, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Kathy and Becky Hepinstall will sign and discuss Sisters of Shiloh, 6:30PM

Irving
Irving Public Library - South Branch, We Need Diverse Books Young Adult Author Panel with authors Sona Charaipotra, Dhonielle Clayton, I.W. Gregorio, Marieke Nijkamp and Natalie C. Parker, 7PM

Thursday, May 14:
Brazos Bookstore, Dina Gachman reads and signs BROKENOMICS, 7PM

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, Jamie Brickhouse reads and signs Dangerous When Wet, 5:30PM

Friday, May 15:

El Paso
B&N - Sunland Park, author signing: Mateo's Metamorphosis Journey, 1PM

Fort Worth
Half Price Books - Hulen, Michael Graves will sell and sign his newest book Ghosts: Revelations, 1PM

Harker Heights
B&N, Anna Black signing I'm Doin' Me, 12PM

Houston
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, reading by New York-based poet and novelist Eileen Myles, 2PM

River Oaks Bookstore, Russell Sanders reads and signs The Book of Ethan, 3PM


Hurst
B&N - NE Mall, D.L. Tracey signs Tales from the Tables A Wicked Funny Look from the Waiter's Side of the Tables, 1PM

Plano
B&N - Preston/Park, Polly Holyoke signs The Neptune Challenge, 1PM

Round Rock
B&N - La Frontera, Douglas Mullis signs Gideon's Warriors, 2PM

San Antonio

Southlake
B&N - Town Square, George Dalton signs A Collision of Dreams, 11AM

Watauga

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My review of Ten Million Aliens: A Journey Through the Entire Animal Kingdom by Simon Barnes


Ten Million Aliens: A Journey Through the Entire Animal Kingdom by Simon Barnes

978-1476730356
480 pages


Fact: Octopuses are the only known invertebrates to use tools, arranging coconut shells to create a hiding place.

"[F]rom so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." -- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

Ten Million Aliens: A Journey Through the Entire Animal Kingdomby British journalist and novelist Simon Barnes, is a delightful collection of short essays extolling the weirdly wonderful natural world. In the manner of your favorite high school biology teacher, Barnes employs cheeky wit, fervor, and plenty of pop culture (Beckham, Harry Potter, Woody Allen, James Bond, Dr. Who, The Beatles) and literary references (Kipling, Joyce, Whitman, Voltaire, Euclid, haiku, King Lear) to transform zoology and evolutionary theory ("the eternal jazz musician, making it up as it goes along") into pure fun for us laypeople. Covering the entire Animal Kingdom seems a daunting task, but Barnes turns it into a romp.

Fact: 25% of all known life forms are beetles.

This representative example of essay titles gives you a clue of how much fun this is going to be: "Sex and the Single Slug," "Lemurs and Archbishops," "The Profile of Winnie-the-Pooh," "Infernal Agony of Gelatinous Zooplankton," "The Nausea of Charles Darwin," "The Kalahari Ferrari," "James Bond and the Kraken," "A Miraculous Draught of Newts," "Axis of Weevil." See what I mean? And don't disregard the footnotes -- Barnes is fond of them and they often contain quotes from Watership DownThe Wind in the WillowsFinnegan's WakeThe Great Gatsbyand The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Illustrations, charmingly simple line drawings in elaborately carved frames, are scattered throughout the book, beginning with Darwin and concluding with the author on the back jacket flap, adding to the whimsy.

Fact: The fastest bird is the peregrine, clocked at 200 mph in a dive.
"Once upon a time, almost all life on earth consisted of single cells. [The] great diversification of living things began around 550 million years ago, with the Cambrian Explosion. [...] The rest of the evolution of the Animal Kingdom has been a series of refinements and developments on this single brilliant idea of multicellular life."
Above all, Barnes wants you to understand that we, too, are animals (kingdom: animal, class: mammal, order: primates, family: hominids, sub-family: hominini, genus: homo, species: sapiens) -- one among many and not really so different from the others. "The meaning of life is life and the purpose of life is to become an ancestor. All forms of life are equally valid: the beautiful, the bizarre, the horrific, the obscure and the glorious." Barnes wants you to feel the kinship and "celebrate... the virtuosity of nature."

Fact: Glass sponges can live to be 23,000 years old.

I often laughed and furiously texted friends with new-found facts and figures about octopuses (do not call them octopi -- Barnes explains why in a footnote having to do with Greek and Latin and... yeah), the New Zealand short-tailed bat ("which drops to the ground and scurries about like a mouse wearing a cape") and naked mole rats ("like a pair of teeth animated by a pink sausage"). That last bit about the naked mole rats caused me to aspirate hot tea during a fit of laughter. While humor abounds, Barnes is also capable of producing a gorgeous turn of phrase. Describing a species of Ctenophora: "One species is an absurdly lovely thing called Venus's girdle: more like a piece of abstract elegance designed to recall a wing than a living creature." Describing hummingbirds: "jewels that hang in the air as if air were something you could perch on."

Simon Barnes
Fact: Some species of starfish can intentionally detach an arm from which a whole new starfish will grow.

Barnes is having great fun in Ten Million Aliens, and he takes perverse pleasure in lulling readers into a false sense of Kumbaya. He tells us of the cleaner fish and the dance they do to "advertise their services" to much larger fish. The larger fish appreciates the service performed by the cleaner fish. When the cleaner fish's job is complete they both swim happily away. Then he tells you of something called a sabre-toothed blenny. It looks like a cleaner fish -- it even dances like a cleaner fish. The big fish thinks "Oh look! Bath time." Then the sabre-toothed blenny takes a big bite of big fish flesh and takes off. Peaceable Kingdom, indeed.

Fact: The aardvark is a singularity: the only member of its genus, family, and order. (We aren't unique -- there are more than 300 species of primates -- but aardvarks are.)

Barnes indulges in joyous tangents, bad puns, and free-association (riffing on Blake and flatworms), and then he patiently explains revisionist taxonomy. I confess to my mind wandering after too many worms -- especially giant parasitic worms. A few of the micro-micro essays strike me as extraneous but then how much can you really say about placozoan? The organization of the essays jumps back and forth rather a lot -- just as you're getting into a fascinating platypus the author returns to worms. He enjoys giving the blue to creationists and Richard Dawkins, alike. Barnes does have intermittent fits of rambling but I am willing to forgive this on the basis that it is great fun to watch his brain work.

Fact: The longest animal is a ribbon worm: 177 feet.

The answer to the classic question is art imitates life, and quite poorly -- what puny imaginations we have compared with necessity. I highly recommend Ten Million Aliens. It is a book for picnics and treehouses and diving platforms in the middle of lakes; also good to read to children at bedtime. You'll be charmed by the writing and enchanted by the elegance of the world around you. I'll close with a word from the author: "In this book I have constantly stressed the human continuity with our fellow species: and if there is a moral to be drawn from the continuity, it is to do with respect, compassion and generosity, and even love."

Fact: The blue whale has a tongue the size of an elephant.

Review originally published by Bookslut.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday Roundup: May 4 - 10

Bookish events in Texas for the week of May 4 - 10, 2015:  

Special Events:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Exhibition, Austin, February 10 - July 6

A Hemispheric Conversation: Queer/Feminist Independent Publishing Projects ‘Belleza y Felicidad’ and ‘Belladonna’ exhibit, Austin, April 14 - May 9

Monday, May 4:

Dallas
B&N - Lincoln Park, Charlaine Harris to Discuss and Sign Day Shift, 7PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Jon Acuff reads and signs Do Over, 7PM

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, Fort Worth Poetry Slam, 8PM

Houston
Brazos Bookstore, Jamie Kornegay reads and signs SOIL, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Greg Iles will sign and discuss The Bone Tree, 6:30PM

Irving
Irving Public Library - Valley Ranch, Author Visit with Kelly Light, 7PM

San Antonio
Briscoe Western Art Museum, Cowboy Poetry, 6:30PM

Wednesday, May 6:



The Twig Book Shop, David Heymann reads and signs My Beautiful City Austin, 6PM

Thursday, May 7:
Blue Willow Bookshop, Jean Reagan will discuss and sign her picture book, HOW TO SURPRISE A DAD, 5PM

The Houston Club, Join John DeMers for Cocktail Hour and some Delicious Mischief, 5:30PM

Irving
Irving Public Library - Valley Ranch, Kelly Light will read from Louise Loves Art, 7PM

Friday, May 8:
Austin
B&N - Arboretum, Discussion and Signing With Robert Taylor: Finding the Right Psychiatrist: A Guide for Discerning Consumers, 7PM

BookPeople, Austin Author MARK FALKIN speaking & signing Contract City, 7PM

UT - Avaya Auditorium, Michener Center for Writing Spring 2015 Graduating MFA Class readings, 7PM

College Station
B&N, Lindsay Cummings signs Balance Keepers #1 The Fires of Calderon, 6PM

Dallas
McKinney Avenue Contemporary (MAC), WordSpace presents an evening performance from internationally acclaimed poet Anne Waldman, 7:30PM

Fort Worth
B&N - Hulen Center, Marc Cameron signs Day Zero (Jericho Quinn Series #5), 7PM

Houston

Austin
Brush Square behind the O. Henry and Susanna Dickinson Museums, 38th Annual O.Henry Pun-Off World Championships, 11AM

Half Price Books - South Lamar, Peter J. Story will sign his new psychological satire Things Grak Hates, 1PM

Lewis Carnegie Gallery, Austin Bat Cave Anthology Release Party, 3PM
Malvern Books, Hothouse Literary Journal Premiere, 2PM

El Paso
B&N - Fountains at Farah, Paul Garcia Signing The Adventures of Rocky Bear, 2PM

El Paso Museum of History, book signing for Famous Places in El Paso History by Dr. Yolanda Leyva, 1PM

Fort Worth
B&N - Hulen Center, Authors Johnell Kelley and Robbyn Foster a.k.a. Joan Rylen sign Upstate Uproar, 1PM

Grapevine
Sam’s Club, Taya Kyle will sign American Wife, 2PM

Houston
B&N - River Oaks, George Arnold signs Fire and Ice - Beyond Alchemy, 10AM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Dianna Aston will discuss and sign her picture book, A NEST IS NOISY, 11AM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Author Tricia Barr will celebrate the release of ULTIMATE STAR WARS, 2PM

Half Price Books - Clear Lake, local watercolor artist and author Maria Elena Sandovici will sell and sign her books, 12PM

Houston Pubic Library, Vikram Chandra, author of GEEK SUBLIME, will be interviewed by Houston author Chitra Divakaruni with book signing to follow, 2PM 

Katy Budget Books, local author Christy Esmahan reading and signing her new book, The Laptev Virus, 2PM

B&N - Preston/Park, Beautiful Evil Winter - Author Signing, 11AM

San Antonio

Terrell
Book & Crannies, Release Party for Taylor Anderson's Straits of Hell, 4PM

Webster
B&N - Baybrook II, A Special Mother's Day Signing With Shanalee Sharboneau, 11AM

Sunday, May 10:

Malvern Books, Austin Writers Roulette, 4PM

Houston
B&N - River Oaks, George Arnold signs Fire and Ice - Beyond Alchemy, 11AM

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, Clayton Dorn Coburn and Sharon Dorn Gill read and sign Had to Take Break: Bicycling Misadventures, 10AM

Southlake
B&N - Town Square, Author Signing - Tracked by Jenny Martin, 1PM