Talking Book News Bulletin, Fall 2012

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Books Worth Revisiting: Hornblower
Spotlight on Texas Books

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Spotlight on Texas Books
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Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

The State Librarian is retiring:  The parent agency of the Talking Book Program (TBP) is the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  The Director and Librarian of the agency is Peggy D. Rudd.  She has announced that she will be retiring and will be in the office until December 31, 2012.  Ms. Rudd has been state librarian since 1999 and has a deep regard for TBP and its patrons.  A public reception will be held for Ms. Rudd in the lobby of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building here in Austin on December 12, 2012.  TBP staff invites all patrons to join us on that day in thanking Ms. Rudd for her service to the agency and particularly for her strong support and deep friendship for TBP.

Budget update:  Many of you have been asking about the budget and what may happen in the upcoming legislative session.  The 83rd Texas Legislature opens on January 8, 2013 and adjourns on May 27, 2013.  The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has submitted its proposed budget for fiscal years 2014-15 to the Legislative Budget Board.  All state agencies also were required to submit a list of possible budget reductions along with their proposed budgets.  

In the last legislative session, the State Library received a huge reduction in its state funding, although TBP did not suffer any major reductions.  If the State Library receives any further reductions in the upcoming session, this will have a major impact on TBP and will result in funding losses and staff layoffs.  With loss of funds and staffing, some services will have to be eliminated—such as the Disability Information and Referral Center—while other services, such as getting books ordered and shipped out to you, will take longer.

As the legislative session gets closer, the overall revenue forecast for the state is improving.  We hope, of course, that this means that the State Library will not have any budget cuts.  We will give an updated report in the next edition of this newsletter.

Blog:  TBP now has a blog about books, reading, TBP activities, and disability topics.  Our Reader’s Advisory Librarians and other staff are posting about books, literary and disability-related events, and outreach activities that we think will be of interest to you, our readers.  You can see the blog at this link: .  We welcome comments to any blog posting; comments are moderated by staff before posting.  You may also send email to to make suggestions to the Librarians about future blog postings.

Annotations in Talking Book Topics:  Many of you have been calling and writing to complain about the short annotations in the latest issues of Talking Book Topics (TBT).  We understand that you feel that the shorter annotations do not give you enough information about any particular book.  This situation should be temporary.  The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) had more books than usual becoming available but only limited space in TBT.  Either NLS could continue with the usual length of annotations but not list all the new titles when they became available, or, NLS could shorten the annotations now and get all the new titles printed in TBT as quickly as possible so everyone would know what books are available.  NLS regrets any inconvenience but decided you would rather know what books are available now.  And remember, if you want more information about a particular title, call 1-800-252-9605, and ask a reader consultant to give you more information about the title you are interested in, or check the online catalog at:

Cassette players and books not for sale:  There’s a rumor going around that the cassette players and the cassette books will be for sale after they are withdrawn from our collections.  Sorry, this is not true. The players and the books are federal property that belongs to NLS and the Library of Congress.  NLS has loaned these players and books to us so that we may distribute them to patrons for temporary use.  When the time comes for those players and books to be withdrawn from the collections, they must be returned to us so that we may ship them to locations designated by NLS.  As federal property, these players and books must be removed from our inventory records and transferred back to NLS.  NLS also has inventory records to update and they will make an accounting for this property.  Therefore, please do not dispose of cassette players and cassette books in any other way than by returning them to us.  Do not sell them, give them away to others, or throw them away in the trash.  We already have a system in place for returning property to NLS, so please help us do this in the right way.  If you need more information in this matter, please call 1-800-252-9605 and ask a reader consultant for assistance.

Helpful ways to contact the Talking Book Program staff:
• To order books or report a problem with your machine: 1-800-252-9605
• To request an application or ask about enrollment: 1-800-252-9605
• To access the toll-free information line: 1-866-388-6397
• To contact the Disability Information and Referral Center: 1-800-252-9605
• To contact the Public Awareness Office: 1-512-463-5452 or 1-800-252-9605
• To send email to anyone in the Talking Book Program: 
• To ask for assistance using BARD: 1-800-252-9605 or
• To ask a librarian for reading advice or reference assistance: 1-800-252-9605 or

Until next time,
Ava Smith, Director, Talking Book Program


Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays.

  •    Thursday and Friday, November 22-23 – Thanksgiving
  • Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, December 24-26 – Christmas Holiday
  • Monday and Tuesday, December 31, 2012-January 1, 2013 – New Year’s Eve and Day   

Of course, you can leave a voicemail message or send e-mail on a holiday.      

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Would You Like a Newspaper With Your Cup of Coffee?

NFB-NEWSLINE® has over 300 daily newspapers and magazines which individuals across the country can access on-demand from their phone.  Every day, a subscriber can choose that day's, the previous day's, or the previous Sunday's issue of any newspaper in the service. On NFB-NEWSLINE®, the user can easily choose which newspaper, section, and article to read using a standard touch-tone telephone.  If you’re a patron of TBP, you can register for NFB-NEWSLINE®  by calling us at 1-800-252-9605.

Donations to the Talking Book Program

TBP often receives inquiries from patrons and family members of patrons on how to make a contribution to the Talking Book Program. Donations are often made in memory of someone or to simply express appreciation for the program.  Donations and bequests have a tremendous impact on the free library service we provide to Texans who are unable to read standard-print material due to visual, physical, or learning disabilities.  TBP is grateful to receive such gifts, which help us maintain and expand our services.  Follow these guidelines for making a contribution to the Talking Book Program:

  1. Checks should be made out to the Talking Book Program.  Credit cards cannot be accepted.
  2. Write on the memo line of the check that the money is for the Talking Book Program.
  3. If the donor wishes the donation to be used for something specific, then those instructions should be included. Otherwise, the money will be used in general support of TBP.
  4. Mail the donation to:

Talking Book Program
P.O. Box 12516

Austin, TX  78711-2516.

  1. Upon receiving donations, we respond by mailing both a notice of thanks and a receipt that can be used for tax purposes.  Individuals who donate “in memory of” have the option of including the names and addresses of family members so that we can inform them of your gift.

Naming the Talking Book Program as the beneficiary of a charitable bequest is often as simple as adding a few sentences to your will.  Before making any kind of gift, you should consult with your attorney or financial advisor.  An unrestricted bequest­ — one that allows us to meet the Talking Book Program’s most pressing needs as they arise — will provide the most useful way for us to continue serving our patrons.

Thank you for supporting the Talking Book Program.


Call the Disability Information and Referral Center toll-free at
1-800-252-9605 for information about disabilities and health conditions.

You can always contact TBP by email at:  Also, visit our new blog at for up-to-date information.


TBP Book Club for January: 
No End in Sight,
Thursday, January 24, 2013, 7- 8 p.m.

The book club is a phone-in club and any touch-tone telephone will work. Please RSVP by January 3 to to receive the book club phone number and code to attend the meeting; or, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for Danielle.  Order your copy now or download it from BARD. When requesting a copy, please let us know if you are planning to attend the book club meeting in January.

No End in Sight by Rachael Scdoris. The twenty-year-old author discusses her Oregon childhood, her experience with low vision, and her determination to become a professional sled dog racer.  She describes being introduced to the sport by her father, becoming the youngest athlete to win a five-hundred-mile race, and the obstacles she overcame to qualify for the Iditarod. BR 16418, DB 61948, BARD

Books Worth Revisiting:
To Sail the Ocean Blue, Part I--Hornblower

A popular genre of fiction is naval fiction, usually focusing on Great Britain’s Royal Navy during the Age of Sail in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The period “when Britannia ruled the waves” has given rise to some great series of novels, some of which will be featured in this column.  The gold standard of all naval fiction series is the Hornblower adventures written by C. S. Forester (1899-1966).  Horatio Hornblower is featured in eleven novels and some short stories.  Forester did not write his novels in chronological order—his first Hornblower novel, The Happy Return (U.S. title, Beat to Quarters), was written in 1937 and featured a mature Captain Hornblower in his late thirties.  The character caught on, and thereafter, Forester would move back and forth in Hornblower’s life, writing novels to fill in gaps in the intrepid naval hero’s adventures.

Hornblower is an interesting character study.  He is all the things one expects of a naval hero: brave, resourceful, dutiful, and very lucky.  He also is subject to seasickness, even in the calmest of waters.  Being totally tone deaf, music means absolutely nothing to him and is often a source of irritation.  His greatest delight while at sea is to have sea water hosed over him for his morning shower.  And women find him irresistible—much to his mystification because he doesn’t consider himself very handsome.

          All of the Hornblower novels are available on digital cartridge or for download from the BARD site.  Call 1-800-252-9605 to order.  In chronological order:

#1 Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (DB 26915). Horatio Hornblower begins his naval career aboard HMS Justinian in 1794. He has many adventures, including a ship full of wet rice, rat-fighting, fire ships, and being captured by both the French and the Spanish. 

#2 Lieutenant Hornblower (DB 46117). This novel is told from the viewpoint of Hornblower’s great friend, Lieutenant William Bush, while they both serve under the paranoid Capt. Sawyer on HMS Renown. Hornblower shows his mettle during battles with the Spanish and is promoted to commander.  Unfortunately, a temporary peace occurs before Hornblower’s promotion is confirmed, forcing him to earn his living by playing cards.

#3 Hornblower and the Hotspur (DB 46118). Hornblower has his first ship to command, the sloop HMS Hotspur.  Hornblower also marries Maria Mason, his landlady’s daughter, whom he marries because he feels sorry for her.

#4 Hornblower During the Crisis and Two Other Stories (DB 41649). This novel was left unfinished at Forester’s death. Hornblower undertakes a very dangerous mission to lure the French fleet into a decisive encounter with Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.  Also included are two short stories, “Hornblower’s Temptation” and “The Last Encounter,” the former from Hornblower’s early career and the latter from his final years.

#5 Hornblower and the Atropos (DB 46119). Hornblower is given the task of escorting Admiral Nelson’s funeral barge up the Thames to Westminster Abbey. Then, he’s off to the Mediterranean in his new ship, HMS Atropos, to recover a sunken shipment of gold in hostile Turkish waters.

#6 Beat to Quarters (DB 46120). Admiralty hands Hornblower another set of impossible orders: 1) sail to Nicaragua in HMS Lydia without the Spaniards knowing about it; 2) help a deranged revolutionary raise a revolt against the said Spaniards; and 3) find a water route across Central America. He also has to transport back to England Lady Barbara Wellesley, whose presence on his ship disturbs Hornblower very much.

#7 Ship of the Line (DB 46121). At last, Hornblower has earned the right to captain a ship of the line, HMS Sutherland.  After several daring raids along the French coast, Hornblower engages in battle against four French naval ships. Forced to strike his colors to save what is left of his crew, Hornblower is taken prisoner.

#8 Flying Colors (DB 46122). Prisoner of the French once more, Hornblower and two of his crew are ordered to Paris for immediate execution.  Escaping en-route, Hornblower and his companions take refuge with a prominent French family that has no love for Bonaparte. The three Englishmen eventually make a spectacular escape from France and return to a hero’s welcome in England.

#9 Commodore Hornblower (DB 26916). Hornblower chafes at being ashore, so he jumps at the chance to sail to Russia.  His mission is to convince the young Tsar to remain Britain’s ally and not join the French.

#10 Lord Hornblower (DB 46123). France is defeated, and Bonaparte is imprisoned on the island of Elba.  Hornblower visits the family who sheltered him in France in Flying Colors.  Then word comes that Napoleon has escaped, and Hornblower finds himself facing execution once again.

#11 Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies (DB 26918).  Hornblower finally becomes “admiral of the fleet” and has several adventures in the West Indies, including surviving a monster hurricane.

Spotlight on Texas Books

The books listed are available only on digital cartridge.
Call 1-800-252-9605 to order.

Angel of Death (DT 7043) by Jay Brandon.  To the African-American community in San Antonio, Malachi Reese is a saint, a community leader, a man who feeds the hungry and houses the homeless.  To San Antonio District Attorney Chris Sinclair, Reese is the Angel of Death: a vicious killer possessed by the need for power.  Determined to see justice done, Sinclair overcomes incredible odds to see Reese convicted of murder and sentenced to Death Row.  But Malachi Reese has not been defeated.  From Death Row, he threatens to destroy Sinclair, to take him to the very top and cast him back down.  Heavy violence.

Asian Texans (DT 7046) by Marilyn Dell Brady.  Readers are introduced to the languages, religions, and cultures of those who immigrated to the Lone Star state from Asia.  Organized by region, the book discusses the lives and contributions of Chinese, Japanese, East Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Laotian, and Cambodian Texans.

Bad Blood: Lucius Dodge and the Redlands War (DT 6981) by Jimmy Lee Butts.  Lucius “By God” Dodge walks tall and carries a big twelve-gauge shotgun not to mention three pistols, a derringer, and a bowie knife.  The Texas Ranger will need all of these weapons and more after undertaking a highly dangerous mission.  Some sex, heavy profanity and violence.

European Texans (DT 7052) by Allan O. Kownslar.  This book highlights the contributions of those who immigrated to the Lone Star State from all over Europe. Readers are introduced to the life and culture of French, English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Belgian, Swiss, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, German, Wend, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Greek, and Slavic Texans.

Justice Betrayed: A Double Killing in Old Santa Fe (DT 7000) by Ralph Melnick.  Angelina Jaramillo, the eighteen-year-old daughter of a prominent New Mexico family, was raped, bludgeoned, and stabbed to death in her bedroom on November 16, 1931. Thomas Johnson, an African American laborer with a prison record in four states, was convicted of the crime and executed.  Now, more than seventy years later, this meticulously researched account of the case substantiates a longstanding rumor that the wrong man was put to death.  Johnson’s conviction and electrocution were used to conceal the embarrassing identity of the actual killer.

Lyndon B. Johnson (DT 7082) by Charles Peters.  Few figures in American history are as compelling and complex as Lyndon Baines Johnson, who became master of the U.S. Senate in the 1950s and succeeded John F. Kennedy in the White House after Kennedy’s assassination.  Part of the Kennedy-Johnson administration from 1961 to 1968, and a keen observer of Washington politics for over five decades, Charles Peters offers an inside look at the legislative wizardry that led to historic triumphs like the Voting Rights Act and the personal insecurities that led to the tragedy of Vietnam.

A Novel Way to Die (DT 7075) by Karen Hanson Stuyck.  When the body of bestselling mystery novelist Katherine March is discovered in her Austin home, the cause of death is presumed to a be a heart attack.  But an autopsy reveals that the sixty-year-old uthor died of an injected overdose of a potent anti-anxiety rug - a murder technique straight from one of Katherine’s own novels.  Katherine’s daughter, criminology professor Molly Patterson, must push aside her longstanding resentment of her secretive, workaholic other to uncover what really happened.  Some violence.

Pepperfish Keys: A Detective Barrett Raines Mystery (DT 7040) by Darryl Wimberley.  The investigation into Senator Baxter Stanton’s money laundering on behalf of local drug kingpin Eddy DeLeon ends badly for Florida state cop Barrett Raines, who becomes the Judas goat when a judge dismisses the case for lack of credible evidence.  Then, when Beth Ann, the senator’s daughter, is murdered, Raines improbably catches the case and finds an unexpected ally in television reporter Sharon Fowler, Raines’s most virulent critic when he investigated the senator.  Heavy sex, profanity and violence.

Rio Ganges (DT 6899) by David Theis.  A young photographer and his family, traveling to a new life in Mexico following the wife’s infidelity and his responding botched suicide attempt, encounter a complex, secretive world of casual violence and moral insubstantiality.  When his wife leaves him for their wealthy patron, Dan is overwhelmed with anger and guilt.  His subsequent quest to regain his family and redeem his life takes him deep into the heart of Mexico City, to an eccentric pension that provides sanctuary for a group of international misfits. Some sex, profanity and violence.

Roundup! (DT  7026) by Paul Andrew Hutton, editor.  An anthology of short stories and essays together with a few poems written by twenty-seven of today’s top Western writers. In addition, a western novella, “The Big Guns” by Andrew Fenady, is included.

Vietnam Veteranos: Chicanos Recall the War (DT 6927) by Lea Ybarra.  One of the most decorated groups that served in the Vietnam War, Chicanos fought and died in numbers well out of proportion to their percentage of the United States’ population. Yet despite this, their wartime experiences have never received much attention in either popular media or scholarly studies.  To spotlight and preserve some of their stories, this book presents substantial interviews with Chicano Vietnam veterans and their families that explore the men’s experiences in combat, the war’s effects on the Chicano community, and the veterans’ postwar lives.  Contains some sex, heavy profanity and heavy violence.

Writing Austin’s Lives: A Community Portrait (DT 7042) by the People of Austin. The University of Texas Humanities Institute presents a living history that you won’t find in any guidebook or newspaper, the stories of Austin’s many lives as seen through the eyes and told in the voices of its people.  This collection of 127 essays was written by people of every age, every neighborhood, every ethnicity, people in comfort, in transition, in trouble, experienced writers, and those who never thought they had a story to tell, or someone to listen.


Talking Book Program
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin TX 78711-2927
1-800-252-9605 (in Texas)
512-463-5458 (in Austin)
512-936-0685 (fax)

Page last modified: December 14, 2012