Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: My Review of Nichole Bernier's 1st Novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.              
By Nichole Bernier
Crown/Random House, 309 pgs
Submitted by Random House
Rating: 5

"Kate lowered her nose to Emily's head and breathed in Johnson's baby shampoo, a hormonal cocktail that among women who have children not long out of diapers drew the Pavlovian, Another." There, there. Is that not the most beautiful sentence you have ever read? If not then please leave me a comment with your contender because I have to read that book now. I read this sentence, page 9, and swooned. I knew then that Elizabeth D. would be a 5.

I proceeded to lose myself in questions of marriage, motherhood, profession, individuality and identity.The classic and ever-present question: Can you ever really know another person?

The aforementioned Elizabeth died in a plane crash, leaving a husband and 3 small children. She has been keeping a journal faithfully since she was a child and all of these journals are locked in a trunk. In her will Elizabeth left her journals to her best friend Kate, also married with 2 small children, with the express wish that Kate read them. Summer vacation is coming up, a few weeks in a rented bungalow on Great Rock Island, so Kate brings the trunk with her and begins with the oldest journal.

Kate had thought she knew Elizabeth to be the consumate mother and mate, blessed by the goddess with innate talent for homemaking and compassion for family, a born nurturer, satisfied. But this is not the Elizabeth portrayed in the journals. That Elizabeth kept secrets: she had had a younger sister; she had attended the fine arts program in painting at NYU; she spent a year in Florence as a student; she had had a miscarriage before the birth of her son; she had loved her job in advertising; she suffered with post-partum depression. In the months before her death Elizabeth had met a man named Michael and she was going to meet him in California when she died. But that fact is not as it seems either.

Page 188: "Why is it so hard for me? I'm always tripped up by what I think is expected of me, trying to act the right way. This should not be brain surgery. Feed child, dress child, cook food, pay bills, and don't let in utter strangers when you're home alone." This poor woman, oh Elizabeth! You tried so hard, didn't you? Domesticity didn't come as naturally to you as you assumed it would; as you assumed it did for the other mothers in the play group.

Page 200: "I cried on the train, face turned to the window. Who am I kidding? You can do all your gymnastics to try and fool Mother Nature, use all your fancy gadgets and pills and pumps and sitters, but biology always wins in the end."

Nicole Bernier
TPage 131: "I knew then that it's not true anymore that my choices are open. Unless you want to breach every expectation, live life with no boundaries or limitations. There are repercussions..." I read this and remember how I always thought I wanted to live that way, question everything, ask "Why?" But I no longer have the courage for that sort of thing. Or is it "courage" to accept the strictures? Is the better part of valor to assume the mantle of self-discipline, expectation and tradition? Or maybe not. Two of my three children don't want to marry or have children and I can't help but wonder what bearing my choices have had on them. How can you know?

Page 200: "Standing there with the AAA guy I saw my life as an endless loop of the same scene. No matter how many times I imagined driving away or how many times I packed a bag and really did it, I would never reach the FDR." I recognize this scene. I still get the same urge when I find myself west bound on I-20 late in the afternoon or evening. I have managed to stave off departure to date.

And then this on page 123: "I watched him walk away toward the corner with a rolling gait that bounces on the balls of his feet, solid and heavy like a draft horse, but light like a very contented one. He looks as if he could carry you a thousand miles if he had to." I knew a man years ago who walked like that. And he could have. He chose to carry someone else, alas. The ability to string the perfect words into the perfect order that evokes a memory such as this is rare. And Nichole Bernier is a rare talent. This is her first novel and I can hardly wait, anticipating the delights to come. Write faster Nichole! Write faster!

For more about the author:

The author is also a founder of the literary website

For more about the publisher:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Welcome Kuwait!

This morning I am delighted to welcome readers from Kuwait to Texas Book Lover. Marhaba!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Roundup: January 26 - February 1

Bookish events in Texas for the week of January 26 - February 1, 2015:

Special Events:
19th Annual ASU Writers Conference, San Angelo, January 29

Bookworm Festival, Houston, January 31

16th Annual Legacies Dallas History Conference: Conflicts that Shaped Dallas, January 31

Monday, January 26:
Murder By the Book, Michael Moorcock will sign and discuss The Whispering Swarm, 6:30PM

Cullen Theater, Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series: Karen Russell, 7:30PM

Studio 101, Staged reading of Jón Gnarr‘s play Hotel Volkswagen, 7PM

Round Rock
B&N - La Frontera, Dr. Frank Romano reads & signs Love and Terror in the Middle East, 7PM

Tuesday, January 27:
Spider House Cafe & BallroomAustin Poetry Slam, 8PM

Zilker Clubhouse, SCOTT BLACKWOOD Book Launch for See How Small, 6PM

Duncanville Public Library, Ed Hudson discusses his Autobiography of a Navy Mustang, 7PM

El Paso
Black Orchid Lounge, BorderSenses Barbed Wire Open Mic with Maria Miranda Maloney, 9PM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Amanda Eyre Ward will discuss and sign THE SAME SKY, 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, Michael Morton reads & signs GETTING LIFE, 7PM

Costa's Elixer Lounge, Houston Poetry Slam hosts Poetry in Reverse Episode 11, 8PM

University of Houston Downtown - Academic Building, The Center for Critical Race Studies 2015 Scholar-in-Residence Jimmy Santiago Baca: A Place to Stand: The Making of a Poet —Documentary Screening, Discussion, Public Reception and Book Signing will directly follow, 6PM

Wednesday, January 28:
Olmos Bharmacy, San Antonio Sun Poets Society, 6PM

Thursday, January 29:
Mr. Catfish & More, Neo Soul (Open Mic and Slam), 8:30PM

Spider House, Testify ATX presents "Expecting," 7:30PM


The Reading Room, Pegasus Reading Series featuring Fatima Hirsi and Connor Stratman followed by an open mic, 7PM

El Paso
Rock House Cafe & Gallery, Free Hole Slam!, 8PM

UTEP, reading with Jorge Esquinca, 7PM

North Richland Hills
North Richland Hills Public Library, Behind the Book: Lunch with Author Amanda Eyre Ward following by a signing of The Same Sky, 11:30AM

San Angelo
ASU, Presentation and reading by Dan Chaon, 7PM

Friday, January 30:
Meadows Museum, Amanda Eyre Ward will discuss The Same Sky, 11 a.m. reception is $30, which includes a copy of the book; a light buffet follows at 11:30. The reservation deadline is Tuesday. The noon presentation is free and open to the public. 12PM

Imagine Books & Records, Dali's Mustache: a reading with the editors of The Thing Itself, 8PM

San Antonio Country Club, Lit n' Lunch benefit for Assistance League® of San Antonio with Elizabeth Crook, author of Monday, Monday; Melanie Shankle, author of Sparkly Green Earrings; and Miles Arcineaux, authors of Ransom Island. Tickets required, 11:30AM

The Twig Book Store, Women’s Global Connection presents Reach Out Africa with the following authors & contributors featured at the event: Tere Dresner, Ana O'Connor, Lisa Uribe-Kozlovsky, Eula Pines, Neeta Singh, Alison Buck, Mark Teachout,Sarah Williams, and Kevin B. Vichcales, 5:30PM

Saturday, January 31:
Front Street Books, Tom Alex signs Around Terlingua, 1PM
Malvern Books, An Evening with Danielle Sellers, Greg Brownderville & Ricardo Acevedo, 7PM

El Paso
B&N - Sunland Park, Valentin Sandoval - South Sun Rises book signing, 1PM

B&N - Firewheel Mall, Mike Hancock will sign Fallen, 2PM

Jump-Start Performance Co, The Thing Itself poetry reading, 6PM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard, Literary Mercado, 1PM

The Woodlands
B&N - Woodlands Mall, Ron Bates: How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots book signing, 2PM

Sunday, February 1:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

US Government Violates 1st Amendment with Syrian Publishing Prohibitions, or We Suck as a Role Model

The United States Government is banning books, censoring authors and acting illegally in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution, as well as a few acts of Congress. How can we lecture the rest of the planet to honor freedom of expression if we do not? 

A coalition of leading publisher and author associations has written to the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the Treasury Department demanding that it revise trade regulations that effectively prohibit American publishers from publishing books and journal articles written by Syrian authors.

The Association of American University Presses ("AAUP"), the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishers division ("AAP/PSP"), and PEN American Center ("PEN") have condemned the portion of the amended and re-issued Syrian sanctions regulations dictating that American publishers may not enter into transactions for Syrian works not yet fully completed, may not provide "substantive or artistic alterations or enhancements" to Syrian works, and may not promote or market Syrian works.

"The Syrian Sanctions Regulations violate federal law and the First Amendment," the letter states, "and by severely restricting the ability of American publishers to publish works by Syrian academics, dissidents, and opponents of the Assad regime and/or ISIS, make a terrible policy decision at odds with this country's longstanding traditions at a time when the American public most needs to educate itself about Syria." - from the press release, dated January 22, 2015

You can contact the Treasury Department here:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Welcome Jordan!

This morning it is my privilege to welcome readers from Jordan to Texas Book Lover. Marhaba!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#ThrowbackThursday: My review of "Mother, Mother" by Koren Zailckas, her first novel (Sept 2013)

Mother, Mother

By Koren Zailckas
Crown Publishers (Random House), 366 pgs
Rating: Read this book

"She's the kind of woman who lives for others - you can tell the others by their hunted expression." - C.S. Lewis

She, Josephine Hurst, lives for others in that she's a narcissist and sees the self as something reflected back at her by the hunted, in this case, her family: husband Douglas, daughters Rose and Violet, and son William. If the hunted didn't exist, neither would Josephine. There's no "there" there.

Mythology: Narcissism is a term that originated with Narcissus in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. The hunted are that pool of water. The modern expression of that pool of water is Facebook, but I digress.

nar·cis·sist [nahr-suh-sist], noun: a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish -

Narcissistic personality disorder:
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism. - Mayo Clinic

Mother, Mother begins with the morning after the evening that sent Violet (16) to a locked psyche ward and William (12) to the emergency room. Violet is sixteen and rebelling in all the ways a teenager should; it's not her fault that she has more to rebel against than most teens. Bad-trippin' on morning glory seed tea, Violet cannot reliably recall what did or did not go down last night. All she knows is that she's wearing hospital pajamas with no drawstring and people keep asking her why she wanted to hurt her little brother. William is twelve and recently diagnosed with Aspergers and "comorbid epilepsy." Does twelve seem a little late in life to get an autism spectrum diagnosis? No matter, back to that later. William, with stitches in his chin and a splint on his right hand, had a seizure in the middle of the third act and the attendant blackout renders his memory, well, absent. He doesn't have one. Rose (20, sort of) wasn't around (at least, we don't think she was, though Violet claimed to have seen her in the foyer) because she walked out the door a year ago and hasn't been seen or heard from since. Douglas was physically present that night, however he is a recovering alcoholic who chose this particular night for a relapse. He suffers a blackout, so his memory, too, is unreliable when it works at all. Conveniently, this leaves Josephine as the only witness but she is the narcissist referenced above. So what the hell happened that night and how did they all get to this place?

Mother, Mother is about the search for truth and how slippery that can be. Is there such a thing as absolute, verifiable truth? Or does truth morph with perspective? Is there a single true story about any particular set of facts that everyone could get behind and say: "Yep, that's what happened. And this is how and why it happened." Or is truth subject to personality, character, will, disease and psychedelic substances? I am reminded of one of my favorite lines: "This was bullshit in Russian-nesting-dolls form,..." In other words, lies wrapped in fabrications, nestled in deceptions, surrounded by distortions, and finally jammed inside mendacity so insidious and pervasive as to be, in a word, evil. Warning: that's not hyperbole. Josephine takes Munchhausen's-by-proxy to extremes never before seen, all without raising her hand to anyone. Josephine recognizes no boundaries, physical or psychological. Do you see?

Koren Zailckas
Koren Zailckas's first book is the internationally best-selling memoir Smashed. This is the author's first work of fiction. As such, it is remarkable. The characters are fully realized and consistent. They stay firmly in character, especially when you wish they wouldn't. There is a dangerous imbalance here, a hall-of-mirrors, fun house atmosphere, developed gradually, organically engendering confusion, shock, disgust, and finally horror, in the reader. There is no hyperbole here; it's not necessary. The plot begins with a kind of hazy, unfocused quality that reflects the shaky memories of what happened that night. As the plot thickens, the pacing (almost imperceptibly at first) begins to build momentum until it is relentless, like a flood or an avalanche. The author knows exactly when to add the eye of newt and toe of frog to the brew. Bring on the toil and trouble. The climax is a twisted surprise, as it should be, and the resolution satisfying.

My only problem with this book is the last couple of chapters. Someone should have combined them and titled it "Afterward." Reminds me of the afterthought tacked onto the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, both graceless and gratuitous. For some reason Zailckas, or perhaps an editor, found it necessary to wrap up the future in a bow and present it to the reader. It is unfortunate that the single misstep in the entire work occurs at the end and as such is your last impression. But never fear, that last impression is not the lasting impression of Mother, Mother.

Your exhausted brain and heart will skip right over the end when you remember this novel. What you will remember is how the characters became full-fledged individuals and how you empathized with Douglas's struggle for sobriety, authority and relevance in his own family. You'll remember the determination of Violet as she pulls herself back from the brink and discovers a will to the future and the strength to save what is left of her family. You'll remember Will's utter dependence on his mother and what it costs him emotionally for the rest of his life. I think it's entirely possible, in fact highly probable, that if there were a sequel to Mother, Mother (please DON'T), Will would turn out to be the monster to Josephine's Frankenstein. See page 330 for all the proof you'd need of my theory. won't remember much about Rose. And you will never forget Josephine: the bad, the worse and the bat-shit crazy. As Violet noted, sometimes it is better to be hated than to be ignored, especially by someone you love. After all, if you are hated you still exist.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Roundup: January 19 - 25

Bookish events in Texas for the week of January 19 - 25, 2015:

Special Events:
YAK Fest, Keller, January 24

Monday, January 19:
Wyly Theatre, Oral Fixation Presents "Slippery Slope," 8PM

Brazos Bookstore, Chad Broughton - BOOM, BUST, EXODUS, 7PM

South Padre Island

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, Ernie Wood reads and signs One Red Thread, 5:30PM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre, “Username” Book signing, discussion and reception with author, Joyce Faulkner, 1PM

B&N, Author Signing: Love and Terror in the Middle East By Author Frank Romano, 4PM

Wednesday, January 21:
Horchow Auditorium, Graeme Simsion presents An Experiment in Love, 7:30PM

Texas Theatre, Oral Fixation Presents "Slippery Slope," 8PM

River Oaks Bookstore, John DeMers speaking and signing Delicious Mischief, 4PM

San Antonio
Olmos Bharmacy, San Antonio Sun Poets Society, 6PM

Thursday, January 22:

Westwood Country Club, Texas Book Festival Literary Lunch with Amanda Eyre Ward, author of The Same Sky, 11:30AM

Dallas Institute for Humanities, Ronald E. Moore will sign If in Later Years, 7PM

Hall of State - Fair Park, Brent Hull will discuss Building a Timeless House in an Instant Age, 6:30PM
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Literature + Medicine, 6PM
University Park Public Library, Laura Lane McNeal will discuss Dollbaby, 6PM


San Antonio
Gemini Ink, Fairy Tales Lost and Found: An Anthology by the residents of Mission Road Center book release and reading, 6PM

Viva! Bookstore, Reading and Writing a Life: A Women's Writing Circle with Carla Pineda, 6PM

Scurry County Library, Texas Writes Program: Christine Wicker & Jeremy Kraatz presenting, 2PM

Friday, January 23:
B&N - Preston Royal, Dr. Frank Romano Signs Love and Terror in the Middle East, 5PM

B&N - Champions, Susan Adrian signs Tunnel Vision A Novel, 7PM

B&N - Vanderbilt Square, George Arnold signs Kremlin Kerfuffle: Koshki of the CIA, 4PM

Murder by the Book, Brandon Sanderson will sign and discuss Firefight, 6:30PM

Rudyard's, Gulf Coast reading series with Carlos Hernandez, Katie Condon, and J.S.A. Lowe, 7PM

Marfa Book Company, Jimmy Rodenwald talk about his book, "American Spirit: An Exploration of the Craft Distilling Revolution," 6PM

Round Rock
The Book Spot, Polly Holyoke will read and sign The Neptune Project, 4PM

San Antonio
B&N - La Cantera, Sagebrush Review Launch Party, 6PM

Saturday, January 24:
Texas Star Trading Company, book signing with Mary Helen Specht: Migratory Animals, 1PM

B&N - Arboretum, Meet & Greet Book Signing with Stephen BilesEncyclopedia of Early Texas History A Compendium of Texas Antiquity for the Inquisitive Mind, 2PM
Bookpeople, National Readathon Day reading party to raise money for National Book Foundation, 12PM

31 Bar And Grill, Bad Boys Of Spoken Word I, 8PM

Alexander Mansion, Sarah Bird will discuss Above the East China Sea, 3:30PM

B&N - Preston/Royal, Sarah Bird signs Above the East China Sea, 10AM

Dripping Springs
Awesmic City Café, Music and Poetry, 8:30PM


B&N - Firewheel Mall, Kerrelyn Spark signs Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire, 4PM


Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard, Mystery author panel discussion, 1PM

Art Forum of Waco, Nuestra Voz: LGBTQ & Allies Solidarity Open Mic, 7PM

Sunday, January 25:
Bookwoman, Volunteers Needed for Inventory! - practically a party, folks - they're going to FEED you, 9:30AM

Kick Butt Coffee, Spoken and Heard, 7PM

Malvern Books, An Afternoon with D.R. Goodman, Cyrus Cassells & Lisa Huffaker, 2PM

B&N - NE Mall, Book Signing With Dr. Frank Romano: Love and Terror in the Middle East, 1PM

Ten50 Restuarant, Reavis Z. Wortham will discuss his Red River Mystery series, 3PM

San Antonio

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Welcome Cyprus!

This morning it is my privilege to welcome new readers from Cyprus to Texas Book Lover. Two official languages, Turkish and Greek: Hoş geldiniz! Kalós orísate!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Welcome St. Vincent & Grenadines!

This morning I am delighted to welcome readers from St. Vincent & Grenadines to Texas Book Lover!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: My review of Taylor Stevens' 1st novel, The Informationist (2011)

The Informationist

A Vanessa Michael Munroe Novel
By Taylor Stevens
Random House 324 pgs
Submitted by Random House
Rating: Read This Book!+ (this is a 4.5 of 5 for readers insisting on a rational rating system)

The Informationist is stunning. It roars like a freight train and sneaks like a cat through 3 continents and some half-dozen countries. There are mercenaries and missionaries, diplomats and gangsters in uniform, Texas oil tycoons and presidents, sacrifice and avarice, revenge and justice.

Meet Vanessa Michael Munroe. We very seldom get to meet a female character in any genre who breaks the rules, all of them. Her past is shady, her future precarious. She reminds me of Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon on estrogen and without the ethical ruminating. She is a brilliant chameleon and physically fearless. She's got skills. Munroe is fierce

Munroe's specialty is information. Governments and corporations need information and hire her to get it and they pay handsomely. Information on elections, coupes, espionage both national and business, trade secrets, you name it. Everyone wants the inside skinny for a leg up on the competition. Mainly this boils down to money. Information = money.

The information Munroe is hired to find is the whereabouts of the daughter of a Texas oil tycoon, Richard Burbank of Titan Oil. His daughter Emily went missing in Africa 4 years ago. Munroe grew up in Africa and understands that returning to the scene of her past could be problematic. Add Miles Bradford to the mix. He is a former (?) mercenary Burbank sends along to keep an eye on Munroe. Add to the mix Francisco Beyard, a gunrunner (among other things) from her African past who loves her and is a little angry that she disappeared 9 years ago. Hint: Munroe had to get "out of Africa." Ha ha. Sorry. I find very little to quibble about in The Informationist. In fact only one thing: Miles Bradford seemed to be superfluous a good deal of the time. However this doesn't weigh down the plot in any way.

The Informationist is Taylor Stevens first book and I am so excited to be able to read more. Her next Vanessa Michael Munroe novel, The Innocent, will hit stores this month. Even better, she is currently working on the third story. I confidently and strongly recommend this one. Ms. Stevens has created something special here and I, for one, am grateful. You will be too.

(FYI Taylor Stevens is a Texas author. Yay!)

For more on the author:

For the publisher:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday Roundup: January 12 - 18

Bookish events in Texas for the week of January 12 - 18, 2015:

Special Events:
15th ANNIVERSARY GIRLFRIEND WEEKEND (Pulpwood Queens), Nacogdoches, Jan 15 - 18

The Austin Book, Paper & Photo Show, Norris Conference Center, Jan 16 - 17

Monday, January 12:
Horchow Auditorium - DMA Arts & Letters Live, Texas Bound I: Family (Dys)function - SALLY NYSTUEN VAHLE reads Orchestration by K. L. Cook, GLENN MORSHOWER reads What She Meant to Say by David Haynes and The Dance with Doris by Clay Reynolds, LYDIA MACKAY reads To a Good Home by Bret Anthony Johnston and CHAMBLEE FERGUSON reads excerpts from Dear Midol: Essays from Estrogen Hell by Kevin Sutton, 7:30PM

King of Glory Lutheran Church, SMU law professor Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, author of "Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists," will discuss national security law and the constitutionality of travel restrictions, 10AM

Blue Willow Bookshop, James Ponti will discuss and sign the books in his DEAD CITY series for middle grade readers, 5PM

Half Price Books – Lincoln Square, Daniel Rodriguez will discuss and sign his memoir, Rise: A Soldier, a Dream, and a Promise Kept, 6PM

Malvern Books, Raw Paw Reading Series, 7PM

Spider House Cafe & BallroomAustin Poetry Slam, 8PM

El Paso
Black Orchid Lounge, Bordersenses Barbed Wire open mic featuring the literary stand-up of Daniel Chacon, 8PM

Brazos Bookstore, Mike Vance & John Nova Lomax - MURDER AND MAYHEM IN HOUSTON & Bartee Haile - MURDER MOST TEXAN, 7PM

Warehouse Live, Moth Story Slam: Blunders, 7:30PM

Wednesday, January 14:

Brazos Bookstore, Chang-rae Lee - ON SUCH A FULL SEA, 7PM

B&N - Lincoln Park, Ciarra Hannah, author of The Frugal Paleo Cookbook, and Stephanie Gaudreau, author of The Performance Paleo Cookbook, discuss and sign their cookbooks, 7PM

Dripping Springs
Dripping Springs Ranch Park, Dripping Springs Thirsty Thursdays (Feature and Open Mic), 7PM


Murder by the Book, Charles Todd will sign and discuss A Fine Summer's Day, 6:30PM

Round Rock
B&N - La Frontera, Victoria Broussard signs i-Comfortable Victim, 7PM

San Antonio
San Antonio Area Foundation, VOICES de la Luna YOUTH POETRY AWARDS, 6:30PM

Trinity University, Liliana Wilson reading and signing Ofrenda, 7PM

Viva! Bookstore, Reading and Writing a Life: A Women's Writing Circle with Carla Pineda, 6PM

Friday, January 16:

El Paso
B&N - Arboretum, New Writer Event Featuring Brannon Perkison signing The Do-Nothing, Nery Roman signing The Inability to See the Other Side of Reality, Mindi Sherman signing Surviving: One Girls Journey Through Life After Date Rape, and Rebecca and Matt Sossi signing Mommy and Daddy Troubles, 2PM

Cheer Up Charlie's, fields magazine Issue 3 release party, 9PM

Galveston Bookstore, Kathleen Kaska reads and signs Murder at the Driskill, 3PM

B&N - Firewheel Mall, Polly Holyoke Signs The Neptune Project, 12:30PM


Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard, Gloria Bates reads & signs Sassafras, The Green Persian Cat for children's story time, 11AM

Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard, Literary Mercado, 1PM

The Woodlands
B&N - Woodlands Mall, Shelly Marrow Whitenburg signs Remarkable Guidance, 2PM

Sunday, January 18:
Bookwoman, reading of Letters to Hestia- by Linda Marie, 3:30PM

Kick Butt Coffee, Spoken and Heard, 7PM


Friday, January 9, 2015

Welcome Botswana!

This morning it is my privilege to welcome
readers from Botswana to Texas Book 
Lover. Le amogetswe!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: Escape

Dominique Manotti
Translated from the French by Amanda Hopkinson and Ros Schwartz
Arcadia Books
£: 10.00, 176 pages

Escape by Dominique Manotti is part political treatise, part love story, part sly send-up of cowardly corporate cynicism, and part cultural commentary on the isolation of the individual, masquerading as a crime thriller. The story is born of the “Republic of Salò” where Mussolini attempted to establish the Republican Fascist Party as his army was driven from Rome. These politics have poisoned the region since 1943. Manotti has written: “To understand Italy, one has to remember the immense and profound support for Mussolini and the proximity of the War to the events in this book. Fascism had only been defeated for twenty-five years in 1968, leaving numerous live fascist cells behind. ”

Escape begins with the prison break of Carlo Fedeli, a political prisoner and charismatic former leader of the Red Brigades, and his cellmate Filippo, an uneducated hood from the streets of Rome. Filippo’s naïve fantasies of two comrades-against-the-world are dashed when Carlo is met by a getaway car and refuses to take Filippo with him. Instead Carlo hands him a pack with a change of clothes, a couple of sandwiches, a little money, and a name: Lisa Biaggi, Carlo’s girlfriend and a political refugee living in Paris.

A few weeks later Lisa buys an Italian newspaper to learn that Carlo has been killed by the police in an attempted bank robbery. Convinced that Carlo was set up and assassinated, Lisa is suspicious of Filippo when he shows up at her door. Filippo is inspired by the newspaper accounts of Carlo’s death and spends his nights writing. Before long he has a manuscript. When that manuscript is published as Escape, the story of two best friends who break out of prison and go on to rob a bank that results in the death of one and the flight of the other to France, he becomes a sensation. Filippo coyly maintains that yes, he knew Carlo, but everything after the prison break is simply a novel. Wink, wink, nudge. As the publicist with Filippo’s new publishing house tells him:
Let me be clear. If you’re possibly a cop-killer, that makes you an attractive young hoodlum. But if you are a declared cop-killer and proud of it, then you become a criminal no one wants to be associated with. It’s a delicate balance. We have to maintain the ambiguity without putting you directly in danger. “It’s a novel, talk to my lawyer.”
Dominique Manotti
Filippo’s novel turns out to be critically-acclaimed and a popular hit. Lisa cannot abide Carlo being remembered as a petty criminal and launches an amateur investigation of her own, thereby inadvertently alerting the Italian government. It appears that the Italians will demand Filippo’s arrest and extradition – if he lives that long.

“Years of Lead” is the moniker given to a period of political strife and violence in Italy in reaction to the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing in Milan that killed seventeen and wounded ninety. It was followed by terrorism that extended well into the 1980s when a bomb exploded on the Florence-Bologna train line. It wasn’t until 2014 that secret files on these events were declassified and confirmed the involvement of Ordine Nuovo and the Armed Revolutionary Nucleo, fascist organizations whose aims were to destroy the Left and cause extreme fear in the population. Translator Amanda Hopkinson writes in the afterword to Escape: “Revealed are the lengths to which the state will go to create a ‘strategy of tension’ to sow disorder, resulting in popular demand for imposed order. … Is Escape, written two years before these disclosures, a case of fiction anticipating political disclosure of historical fact?”