Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BEST TO LAUGH: A NOVEL by Lorna Landvik, DBC 02662

If you like books that have a nostalgic and upbeat tone, similar to FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLESTOP CAFÉ by Fannie Flagg, you may really enjoy BEST TO LAUGH by Lorna Landik.

You can get a sense of Ms. Landvik’s sense of humor and writing style from the Bio and FAQ section on her webpage. She explains how she gets ideas for her books with the following quote: “I buy them from the Idea Man; two for a dollar. Early in my career, he tried to sell me an idea about a girl with a dragon tattoo, but I bought the idea for The Tall Pine Polka instead. When he’s out on the road, selling stuff I declined to J. K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins, I scavenge around and find ideas in roadside cafes, in a whiff of pipe smoke or ripe peaches, in an autumn vista, in a song fading out on the car radio, in the stillness of my monkey mind.”

Ms. Landvik brings this same wit and whimsy to the protagonist in BEST TO LAUGH, Candy, who with the help of an ensemble of zany friends and her personal “life saber”, embraces her new life in 1970s Hollywood.

 

NLS Annotation As a child, Candy Pekkala seemed to get unhappy experiences in Minnesota, so when a cousin called with a Hollywood apartment, Candy jumped at it. Her new fellow tenants include a female bodybuilder, a ruined nightclub impresario, and a well-connected old Romanian fortune-teller. Candy figured if she always lived by her wits here, she would have a chance to live with them. There are game show appearances, temp jobs and the allure of stand-up comedy. For high school and adult readers.

If you enjoyed this book or generally like humorous books with a host of quirky characters, you might try BIG STONE GAP by Adriana Trigiani, DB 52742.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BOY KINGS OF TEXAS: A MEMOIR by Domingo Martinez, DT 07183

New York Times Best Seller and 2012 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction, BOY KINGS OF TEXAS is a memoir about growing up in the rural area around Brownsville, Texas during the 1980s. Written in an engaging and gritty, yet at times lyrical style, Mr. Martinez is unflinchingly and brutally honest about the poverty and abuse he endured during his childhood. However, he is able to see what causes his family’s behavior as well as his own. It results in a fascinating view into the lives of a Mexican American family.

NLS Annotation: Brownsville, Texas. Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author’s boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-down clothes, this book delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed, but fiercely protective older brother. Violence, strong language, and some explicit descriptions of sex. 2012.

If you enjoy this book there is a sequel, MY HEART IS A DRUNKEN COMPASS: A MEMOIR (DB 80854)

25 True Tales of Survival

Do you enjoy stories of adventure and endurance through hardship? Here are 25 stories of real life survival. From stories of perseverance through natural terrors such as avalanches, storms, and wild animals to stories of escape from more man-made horrors such as religious sects, kidnappers, and war; this list includes books that will thrill you from the comfort of your own reading chair.

Title: AFTER THE FIRE: A TRUE STORY OF FRIENDSHIP AND SURVIVAL
Author: FISHER, ROBIN GABY
DB 68376

Title: BEYOND BELIEF: MY SECRET LIFE INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY AND MY HARROWING ESCAPE
Author: HILL, JENNA MISCAVIGE
DB 76369, LB 07396

Title: BOY CAPTIVES: SUBTITLE READS: BEING THE TRUE STORY OF THE EXPERIENCES AND HARDSHIPS OF CLINTON L. SMITH AND JEFF D. SMITH AMONG THE COMANCHE AND APACHE INDIANS
Author: SMITH, CLINTON L. (CLINTON LAFAYETTE)
DT 07191

Title: CRAZY FOR THE STORM: A MEMOIR OF SURVIVAL
Author: OLLESTAD, NORMAN
DB 69509

Title: DEEP DOWN DARK: THE UNTOLD STORIES OF THIRTY-THREE MEN BURIED IN A CHILEAN MINE, AND THE MIRACLE THAT SET THEM FREE
Author: TOBAR, HECTOR
DB 80548

Title: DRESSMAKER OF KHAIR KHANA: FIVE SISTERS, ONE REMARKABLE FAMILY, AND THE WOMAN WHO RISKED EVERYTHING TO KEEP THEM SAFE
Author: TZEMACH LEMMON, GAYLE
DB 73665, LB 06821

Title: ESCAPE FROM CAMP FOURTEEN: ONE MAN’S REMARKABLE ODYSSEY FROM NORTH KOREA TO FREEDOM IN THE WEST
Author: HARDEN, BLAINE
DB 76532, LB 07479

Title: HIDING PLACE
Author: TEN BOOM, CORRIE
BR 02785, DB 43746, LB 01593

Title: HOLOCAUST TESTIMONIES: THE RUINS OF MEMORY
Author: LANGER, LAWRENCE L
DB 35346

Title: HOPE: A MEMOIR OF SURVIVAL IN CLEVELAND
Author: BERRY, AMANDA
DB 81802

Title: IN THE HEART OF THE SEA: THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHALESHIP ESSEX
Author: PHILBRICK, NATHANIEL
DB 50271

Title: IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE: THE GRAND AND TERRIBLE POLAR VOYAGE OF THE USS JEANNETTE
Author: SIDES, HAMPTON
DB 79535, LB 08615

Title: INTO THE ABYSS: AN EXTRAORDINARY TRUE STORY
Author: SHABEN, CAROL
DB 77894

Title: INTO THIN AIR: A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE MOUNT EVEREST DISASTER
Author: KRAKAUER, JON
DB 44525

Title: ISAAC’S STORM: A MAN, A TIME, AND THE DEADLIEST HURRICANE IN HISTORY
Author: LARSON, ERIK
DB 48811

Title: LONE SURVIVOR: THE EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF OPERATION REDWING AND THE LOST HEROES OF SEAL TEAM TEN
Author: LUTTRELL, MARCUS
BR 21319, DB 64802

Title: LOST IN SHANGRI-LA: A TRUE STORY OF SURVIVAL, ADVENTURE, AND THE MOST INCREDIBLE RESCUE MISSION OF WORLD WAR II
Author: ZUCKOFF, MITCHELL
DB 73456

Title: MIRACLES ON THE WATER: THE HEROIC SURVIVORS OF A WORLD WAR II U-BOAT ATTACK
Author: NAGORSKI, TOM, 1962-
DB 82289

Title: SEA OF SHARKS: A SAILOR’S WORLD WAR II SURVIVAL STORY
Author: RENNER, ELMER
DB 60551

Title: SEDUCTIVE POISON: JONESTOWN SURVIVOR’S STORY OF LIFE AND DEATH
Author: LAYTON, DEBORAH
DB 48730

Title: STOLEN INNOCENCE: MY STORY OF GROWING UP IN A POLYGAMOUS SECT, BECOMING A TEENAGE BRIDE, AND BREAKING FREE OF WARREN JEFFS
Author: WALL, ELISSA
DB 66943

Title: STOLEN LIFE: A MEMOIR
Author: DUGARD, JAYCEE LEE
DB 73692

Title: TEN DEGREES OF RECKONING: THE TRUE STORY OF A FAMILY’S LOVE AND THE WILL TO SURVIVE
Author: RUMBERG, HESTER
DB 68440

Title: TIGER: A TRUE STORY OF VENGEANCE AND SURVIVAL
Author: VAILLANT, JOHN
DB 74579

Title: TRAPPED UNDER THE SEA: ONE ENGINEERING MARVEL, FIVE MEN, AND A DISASTER TEN MILES INTO THE DARKNESS
Author: SWIDEY, NEIL
DB 79523

Title: WALL OF WHITE: THE TRUE STORY OF HEROISM AND SURVIVAL IN THE FACE OF A DEADLY AVALANCHE
Author: WOODLIEF, JENNIFER
DB 71805

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– RELIC MASTER by Christopher Buckley, DB 83947

It is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation so we thought that patrons who enjoy historical fiction might like a novel dealing with that time and place in European History.  The 2002 winner of the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence as well as the 2004 winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, Christopher Buckley has created a witty and irreverent satire of 16th century Europe in his most recent novel RELIC MASTER.

relicmaster

NLS Annotation Switzerland, 1517. Dismas, a relic dealer, balances the demands of his two most prominent clients–Frederick, the ruler of Saxony, and the archbishop of Mainz. When his nest egg is stolen, his friend Albrecht Durer suggests creating the shroud that the archbishop covets. Some strong language. 2015.

If you enjoyed this novel, but would like to learn more about the historical figures that feature prominently in RELIC MASTER told in an informative yet entertaining manner, try HERETICS AND HEROES: HOW RENAISSANCE ARTISTS AND REFORMATION PRIESTS CREATED OUR WORLD part of the Hinges of History series written by Thomas Cahill, DB 78469.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher, DB 70544

The recent release on March 31st of Netflix’s series 13 Reasons, has generated new interest in the book on which it is based. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. Character-driven with an emotionally intense tone, this book tells the story of Hannah Baker, through a series of audio cassettes recorded for the 13 different people who impacted her life…and in her opinion…precipitated her death.

Cover of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Winner of multiple state book awards for young adults as well as a recipient of a coveted five stars from Teen Book Review, this book is author Jay Asher’s debut novel.

NLS Annotation Clay Jensen receives a box of audiocassettes in the mail with no return address. Hannah Baker–a girl he barely knew but secretly liked, who committed suicide–recorded a final message for thirteen people to listen to and then pass on to the next person. For senior high readers. 2007.

If you have already read this book and enjoy realistic young adult fiction that deals with coping with the suicide of an acquaintance try LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green, DB 61873. Or if you’d prefer the point of view be from the person contemplating suicide, try FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, DB 77255.

June 2017 TBP Book Club Title Announced!

Texas Talking Book patrons: please join us on Tuesday June 6th at 7 pm (Central Time) for our book club discussion of ONE-HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED by Jonas Jonasson (DB 75820)

Our book club meetings are hosted via toll free conference call, so all you need is a telephone to participate. To RSVP call the Talking Book Program at: 1-800-252-9605 (RSVP preferred by May 16th) or email us at: tbp.ral@tsl.texas.gov. Please indicate if you would like us to mail you the digital cartridge or if you prefer to download it from BARD.
NLS Annotation:
Sweden. On his one-hundredth birthday, former demolitions expert Allan Karlsson escapes from an old folks’ home, steals a suitcase filled with money, and begins a madcap adventure running from criminals and the police. Originally published in Swedish in 2009. Some strong language. 2012.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot, DB 70661

The imminent release of HBOs The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, featuring Oprah Winfrey on Saturday April 22nd has generated new interest in the book on which it is based. THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS explains the origins of HeLa cells, which were ultimately used in developing vaccines, medical treatments, and many other scientific breakthroughs. These cells were harvested from a young African American woman in Baltimore, Maryland, Henrietta Lacks, who was suffering from a particularly virulent form of cervical cancer. This book not only explains the impact HeLa cells have had on the evolution of medical research, it also delves into the way that the medical establishment treated Mrs. Lacks and her family and their fight for compensation and acknowledgement.

Written in a thought-provoking and journalistic manner, Ms. Skloot, does a brilliant job of explaining fairly complex scientific processes and medical procedures in a way that anyone can understand. In addition, she interviews Mrs. Lack’s family with compassion, yet maintains her journalistic neutrality. She skillfully sets their personal story against the backdrop of the racial and medical culture of the latter half of the 20th century. Winning best book awards from organizations such as The National Academies of Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for over two years.

NLS Annotation: Science journalist chronicles the life of African American Henrietta Lacks, who in 1951 had cervical tissue removed and grown in culture–without her permission–producing the first continuously replicating human-cell samples for research. Discusses subsequent medical breakthroughs, including the polio vaccine and AIDS treatment. Explores bioethical concerns involving tissue ownership. Bestseller. 2010.

If you have already read this book or would prefer a book that looks at the broader issue of medical ethics and race, try MEDICAL APARTHEID: THE DARK HISTORY OF MEDICAL EXPERIMENTATION ON BLACK AMERICANS FROM COLONIAL TIMES TO THE PRESENT by Harriet A. Washington, DB 66297.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi, DB 84732

If you enjoy historical family sagas that feature a host of complex characters set amidst a sweeping storyline, you may enjoy Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel. Nominated for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, Dylan Thomas Prize and Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction, HOMEGOING tells the history of both Ghana and the United States through the eyes of multiple generations of a family as they encounter the racial, religious, and political tensions that permeated both countries from the 18th century until the present day.

NLS Annotation for HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi (DB 84732): In the 1700s, half sisters Esi and Effia are born in Ghana without knowing each other. Effia marries a wealthy Englishman, while Esi is imprisoned in the dungeon of the castle where Effia lives, before she is shipped to America and sold into slavery. Their descendants witness history. Unrated. Bestseller. Commercial audiobook. 2016.

If you have already read this book or enjoy African American family sagas, try ROOTS: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY by Alex Haley (BR 17794, DB 53160). Or if you’re more interested in reading about a contemporary family bound to both the United States and Ghana, try GHANA MUST GO by Taiye Selasi (DB 76458).

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray, DB 85432

Do you enjoy humorous young adult novels that involve absurd situations and over the top characters? If so, you might like BEAUTY QUEENS. Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Young Adult Novel for 2011, BEAUTY QUEENS describes the trials and travails of several beauty pageant contestants, surviving in the wild. Written with a witty and offbeat tone, I quite often found myself laughing out loud at the outrageous adventures these talented ladies encounter. If you’re a proud Texan, you’ll be excited to note that Miss Texas leads this band of intrepid and inventive ingénues.

NLS Annotation: After their plane crashes and strands them on an island, the fifty beauty contestants for the Miss Teen Dream Pageant channel their talents into surviving. But the arrival of some hot reality-television pirates adds new complications. Descriptions of sex and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2011.

If you already read this book or simply enjoy humorous young adult books with feminist adventures and subtle romance, you might try I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter (DB 66621).

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BLACK WATER RISING by Attica Locke, DB 72177

If you like legal thrillers such as those written by John Grisham and Lisa Scottoline, you might try the Jay Porter Series by Attica Locke, starting with BLACK WATER RISING (DB 72177). Nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, a 2010 NAACP Image Award, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, this story, set in Houston, Texas, follows lawyer Jay Porter as he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation and the labor disputes and racial turmoil of the early 1980s.

BlackWaterRising

Recent winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, Attica Locke, is a native of Houston, Texas and her knowledge of the area reveals itself in her detailed descriptions of the city as well as the social issues that dominated the area in the early 1980s. Her writing is gritty and compelling and she has created an intricately detailed plot with a well-developed protagonist in Jay Porter.

NLS Annotation: Texas, 1981. African American lawyer Jay Porter rescues from the bayou a white woman he later suspects is involved in a murder. Despite his racially charged criminal past and impending fatherhood, Jay investigates and finds links to Houston’s political elite and big oil. Some violence and some strong language. 2009.

If you’ve already read this book and enjoy a good legal thriller series with a suspenseful tone set in the urban south, try the Penn Cage series by Greg Iles, starting with QUIET GAME (DB 49340). If you’d prefer a legal thriller series with a female protagonist, try the Carole Ann Gibson series by Penny Mickelbury, starting with CAROLE ANN GIBSON, BOOKS 1-3 (DB 84707).