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Archive for August, 2009

We’ve had such a busy summer — and now that September’s almost here, we’re all set to have a busy fall, too. Our ad in the Valley Citizen outlines the dates: as far as details go, remember that titles autographed by author include local favorites like Trail to Table Mountain by Kelley Coburn and I Always Did Like Horses and Women by Earle Layser and Damnyankee by Tom Walsh; Pin-Ups is the fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness sponsored by the Teton Arts Council; Storytime will be all about Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (prepare to get wild and act out the story, kiddos!),; the book-club book is Moloka’i by Allan Brennert; and lastly Art Meets Adventure features Lynna Howard and Leland Howard, authors of Backcountry Idaho. It’ll be a great month — see you here!

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This is one none of us will want to miss — And note that Barb is speaking on Tuesday, Sept. 1st (and NOT Sept. 8th, as posted in the Book Club reminder…..) See you there!

 

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GL&PPPS_coverI just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s a wonderful epistolary tale (told all in letters) about a British author who travels to the Island of Guernsey in 1946 and the people and stories she learns about the Occupation by the Germans there.

It’s one more in a long list of books I’ve read over the past year that were about World War II.  I’m not exactly sure why I’m so fascinated with that time of history and the people’s lives then. Perhaps it started  because of my own parents’ wedding — in August 1942, my mother had gone out to California see him at Camp Roberts, the army base  where he was stationed (she was a USO girl) but they had, literally, no room for her in the guest lodging, so they were married, somewhat shotgun style, at a nearby Mission Church — it was, conveniently, a holy day of obligation, so a Mass (held infrequently at the Mission) was already scheduled, and my Uncle Dick happened to be also visiting (a handy best man) and of course she had a handy maid of honor (a fellow USO girl.)  I always loved that story — and according to Annie Barrows, her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer loved that kind of story, too, and that was what started her on writing this book.

I digress.  Anyway. This one will stick with me.

I wanted to share at least part of the afterword by children’s author Barrows — who finished the co-authoring of this book because of her aunt’s failing health (you should also know that Barrows is the creator of  the lovely Ivy and Bean series — a new favorite series at the bookstore), because it struck me so profoundly,  as a reader, as a book club member, and as a bookseller:

“The wonderful thing about books — and the thing that made them such a refuge for the islanders during the occupation — is that they take us out of our time and place and understanding, and transport us not just into the world of the story, but into the world of our fellow readers, who have stories of their own.”

Further down the page (287),  regarding the “new version of the Society:” 

“Its members are spread all over the world, but they are joined by their love of books, of talking about books, and of their fellow readers. We are transformed — magically–into the literary society each time we pass a book along, each time we ask a question about it, each time we say, ‘If you liked that, I bet you’d like this.’ Whenever we are willing to be delighted and share our delight, as Mary Ann did, we are part of the ongoing story of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. ”

PS. Before I break my 500-word limit on posts:  I’ll  put together a list of my WW2 readings — with more about each of them — and post it on the Recommend page (if anyone’s interested.)

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At August’s get-together of the Teton Valley Women’s Book Group, we discussed Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosely, the first of the Easy Rawlins series set in post-World War II Los Angeles. The conversation inevitably turned to other mystery series, and since reading them is a favorite pastime for me, I promised the ladies there I’d put together some notes about them. This morning,  I remembered a “Book Report” column on mysteries that Peter wrote for Teton Valley Top to Bottom magazine some years ago which was one of his best — I’ll try to equal his insight.

First, mysteries come in many “flavors” — voices, time periods, settings, type of problem-solver, etc.  You can choose to read mysteries based on Sherlock Holmes’ wife or Jane Austen or set in a knitting shop, the nation’s capitol, Ancient Ireland, or Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. 

They do have some commonalities. All of them feature one or two main characters who are trying to figure out not just “whodunit” but what happened and why. And in most of them, people are people —  motivated by greed, ambition, love, despair (and many other emotions).

If you’re like me, what you like to read changes frequently (way more than just with the seasons.) And that’s a good thing about mysteries — there are PLENTY to choose from.

Since I’m not real hot on the modern-day computer-driven technological stuff, I’m drawn to things like the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters,  with a Crusader-turned-monk figuring out the foibles of life in 12th-century England.

On the other hand, for sheer excitement, there’s nothing to match one of the thrillers about Jason Bourne by Robert Ludlum. (Yes, reading ’em brings the same intensity as watching the movies with Matt Damon will do.) 

James Lee Burke is another writer of contemporary mysteries featuring a tortured soul: Dave Robicheaux left a complicated life as a policeman in New Orleans to move to Montana (where his life is equally complicated.)  One quick warning — the violence level and language are similar to those in the Mosely books — better know that before going in!

Several mystery series feature Native American cultures and Western settings– everybody knows about Toni Hillerman and his protaganists Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee — his fans might check out the Spider Moon series by James D. Doss, or even closer to home, those set on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming by Denver author Margaret Coel.

There are so many others! Anne Perry brings Victorian England to life in her works featuring William Monk, and Charlotte and Thomas Pitt; Joanne Pence has written the Angie Amalfi books, a fun series that center around a chef (almost every book has “cooking” in the title) — Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldie Bear Culinary mysteries have a similar flair. For those who prefer an Eastern bent, the Judge Dee mysteries by Robert Van Gulik are set in the Tang Dynasty, while Lisa See’s new Red Princess series looks at 21st-century China. And the books by Alexander McCall Smith about the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency bring some charming African characters to life.

Many MANY more authors write in this wonderful genre — everyone from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Raymond Chandler to Sue Grafton to Henning Mankell  — but hopefully this gives you some ideas. 

We’ll talk mysteries next time you’re in!

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I know this post will be pushing the time limit for those of you who receive blog notices by e-mail, but I wanted to get this information out about how YOU can help finish up the great new kindergarten playground — and I bet they’d appreciate help ANY time all day manana, if you can put in a little time….. what a great project to work on!!!

This came from Lori Kramer, president of the Teton Valley Education Foundation:
“Regarding the work day — its tomorrow (Friday, August. 21) starting at 8am at the Teton Kindergarten Center (the front yard of the old middle school building). We will be working on the weed bed alongside the building and also planting some plants in the new “rock garden” by the swings. Lunch will be provided as will water — however we ask that people bring their own water bottles to keep the trash level down. Also people need to come ready to get dirty — bring gardening gloves too!  And if they have rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, gardening hand tools, anything someone would use when tending their own yards — bring those along. We will be going from 8 am until the work is done or until 4 pm, whichever comes first (we are hoping the work gets done before 4 p.m. though).”

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Erin_HeffronGreat news with a big yahoo —
Erin Heffron of Alta is the new Miss Rodeo Wyoming, earning the title Saturday night in Douglas at the Wyoming State Fair!  
Couldn’t happen to a nicer young woman….. she’s smart (dean’s list in Laramie), a terrific athlete (runs cross country for UW), terrific with horses (all those years with 4-H ’round here), gracious as can be, and a wonderful representative of the Cowboy State.  And beautiful to boot — as you all can see. Pleased as punch for her and her family (mom and dad Sue and Andy and brothers Ben and Tim) and know she will take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way — way to go, Erin!

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Paula_Margulies_PhotoPaula Margulies, author of “Coyote Heart” will be the special guest at a reading, reception and booksigning at Dark Horse this Friday, August 14 at 7 p.m.CoyoteHeart_Cover

The book, Margulies’ debut novel, is a multi-cultural love story set against the backdrop of the Pala Indian Reservation near her current home, San Diego; it has been called “a compelling tale of love and modern Native American culture. “

It received numerous awards before its publication, including an Editor’s Choice Award at the San Diego State University Writers’ Conference. The book was also a finalist in the Santa Fe Writer’s Project Literary Awards Program, a worldwide competition that included more than 350 entries.

 Margulies, the owner of a public relations firm for authors and artists, has also received numerous awards for her short stories and novels. Her essays have been published in a number of professional journals and magazines, and she has been awarded artist residencies at Caldera, Red Cinder Artist Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center.

It will be a real treat to welcome Paula to Teton Valley.  Give us a call to hold you a copy, and we hope you’ll join us!

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