READS

PATTI’S PICKS

By, Patti Callahan Henry

NYT Bestselling author of eight novels: Losing the Moon, Where the River Runs, When Light Breaks, Between the Tides, The Art of Keeping Secrets, and Driftwood Summer and The Perfect Love Song. Her latest novel, Coming Up For Air will be published by St. Martins Press on August 15th, 2011.

Patti has been hailed as a fresh new voice in southern fiction. She has been short-listed for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and has twice been nominated for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Fiction Novel of the Year. She is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs and women’s groups where she discusses the importance of storytelling and anything else they want to talk about.

After earning her Master’s degree in Child Health, Patti worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist until her first child was born. Patti is a full time writer, wife and mother living with her husband and three children in Mountain Brook, AL where she is working on her next novel

PATTI’S PICKS

RULES OF CIVILITY
by Amor Towles

September’s pick

RULES OF CIVILITY is a debut novel by Amor Towles. I fell – a free-fall — into New York City in the year 1937. I tasted the dry martini, felt the cold air of New Year’s Eve. I wanted to be Katey Kontent’s best friend and mostly, I wanted to meet these people and hang out with them, talk about life, art, greed, love and lies. It’s been a few months since I read this novel and yet sometimes I stop and wonder what has happened to Katey, Evie and Tinker, what has happened to their glittering crowd…

 Here is an explanation from the author himself: Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year-old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

The story opens on New Year’s Eve in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to meet Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a ready smile. This chance encounter and its startling consequences cast Katey off her current course, but end up providing her unexpected access to the rarified offices of Conde Nast and a glittering new social circle. Befriended in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, and a single-minded widow who is ahead of her times, Katey has the chance to experience first hand the poise secured by wealth and station, but also the aspirations, envy, disloyalty, and desires that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her orbit, she will learn how individual choices become the means by which life crystallizes loss.

For more on the book and the author go to: http://amortowles.com/

CORPORATE CONFIDENTIAL, AN INSIDERS GUIDE TO CORPORATE AMERICA

Review and interview by Jennifer Jones

With an extremely difficult job market, unemployment numbers skyrocketing and record numbers women trying to re-enter or enter the market for the first time, Cynthia strikes it big with her new book!  This comprehensive book should be required reading for anyone in school or looking for a job!

Listen to Cynthia’s tips and strategies for finding, getting and keeping a job!  To hear our interview please click here: Cynthia Shapiro

PATTI’S PICKS

By,
Patti Callahan Henry

NYT Bestselling author of eight novels: Losing the Moon, Where the River Runs, When Light Breaks, Between the Tides, The Art of Keeping Secrets, and Driftwood Summer and The Perfect Love Song. Her latest novel, Coming Up For Air will be published by St. Martins Press on August 15th, 2011.

Patti has been hailed as a fresh new voice in southern fiction. She has been short-listed for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and has twice been nominated for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Fiction Novel of the Year. She is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs and women’s groups where she discusses the importance of storytelling and anything else they want to talk about.

After earning her Master’s degree in Child Health, Patti worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist until her first child was born. Patti is a full time writer, wife and mother living with her husband and three children in Mountain Brook, AL where she is working on her next novel

April’s Picks

The Cove
by Ron Rash

Last week I went to hear Alison Krauss and Union Station. Hearing Alison sing and reading Ron Rash’s new novel made me feel exactly the same way — a beautiful, heartbreaking melancholy that makes me want to notice every nuance in the aching world. That’s what Ron’s writing is like — a pitch perfect, yearning song.

Inspired by the little known fact that there was WWI German internment camp in North Carolina, Ron weaves a story around an escaped prisoner finding his way through the dense and dark beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s all here in The Cover — love, longing, beauty, lightness, and darkness.

Ron is known for his lyricism and poetic style (he is also a poet), and for me, this novel seemed to contain entire poems in single sentences. When he writes “Dawnlight unshackled high branches from the dark” or   or  “She looked around the bedraped granite, her washings like leavings from the streams’ recent flooding”, or “.the lack of greenery made the mountains starker, more firmly locked to the land.”
Ron Rash makes me believe that the English language is more beautiful than even I had supposed.

 

PATTI’S PICKS

February’s Picks

Fiction
The Rebel Wife
By Taylor M. Polites

Being an author, I often have the great privilege of being able to read books months before they come out (advance reader’s copies). In September, I met Taylor Polites at a trade show in Charleston, South Carolina where he gave me a copy of his debut novel, The Rebel Wife. I like Taylor so much that I thought it only polite to read his novel, thinking I might skim it so I at least knew the plot line. But no skimming was to be done. The Rebel Wife grabbed me by the eyes and wouldn’t let me go until the very last page, and even past the last page as I still think about this book and its main character, Augusta Branson.

This novel is set in Reconstruction-era Alabama and as my quote on the book says:
”Peeling back layers of deceit and myth combined, Taylor Polites takes us into an era we barely understand. The flawed human heart that finally comes to understand ‘the truth’ is at the heart of this enduring, suspenseful novel.”

The author is originally from Huntsville, Alabama, but after reading this novel one would almost believe he lived there during the post-Civil war period.

PATTI’S PICKS

January’s Picks

Fiction
A Grown up Kind of Pretty
By Joshilyn Jackson

Ten years ago, Joshilyn Jackson’s first novel, gods in Alabama was released. This month her new novel is our treat for the dreary month of January. Joshilyn Jackson uses words the way musicians use notes, manipulating our emotions and making us both laugh and holler in the same exact instant. Her newest novel, A Grown-up Kind of Pretty is the perfect example. With three separate voices, the Slocumb women grab our hearts. This novel is a mystery, yes, but so much more; it is a drama that exposes not only the bones hidden under the tree, but also the skeleton of family that makes everything else work. A heart-bending story I loved!
Go here for more information: http://www.joshilynjackson.com/

What’s even better than getting to read her novel in January – meeting her on book tour. She is as lively and full of life as her novels are. I’ll even say that meeting her makes reading her novels even more fun because you suddenly hear her ‘voice’ inside her words.

If you’re in the Birmingham area, you can meet her on February 9th at Alabama Booksmith. www.alabamabooksmith.com

THE BIG GIG, BIG PICTURE THINKING FOR SUCCESS

Interview and review by Jennifer Jones

My son was given,{The Big Gig} a few weeks ago and before he had a chance to even read it I grabbed it!  WOW!!  Well written and terrific information for any aspiring musician but also amazing for those starting out in a career or business.

Zoro,  a very famous drummer and has played some of the best from Lenny Kravitz to Bobby Brown.  His life in the music world has earned him honors and respect for many.  His book is a comprehensive guide to for musicians wanting to make it in the business…The formula he uses and the information that he provides would also work in any industry/career.   Zoro also fills the books with over 400 motivational quotes and even has QR codes that will allow you to scan and see interviews with him.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book,  and can’t wait for my son to read it!  I have even got a few more to give as gifts.  I kept thinking how great it would have been to have something so helpful when I was starting out in my career.

I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to interview him about his life, thoughts, and his book.  During our interview I was even more impressed with his humility and desire to give back.  From his family to strangers, Zoro is living a {rich} and full life!

To hear the interview, Please click here: The Big Gig, by Zoro

 

We are thrilled to welcome Patti Henry Callahan a NY Best Selling Author.  Patti will be reviewing and sharing her Fiction Book Picks, monthly!  We are honored to have her and so look forward to each and every book she recommends!  Welcome Patti!

Patti’s Picks

By,
Patti Callahan Henry

NYT Bestselling author of eight novels: Losing the Moon, Where the River Runs, When Light Breaks, Between the Tides, The Art of Keeping Secrets, and Driftwood Summer and The Perfect Love Song. Her latest novel, Coming Up For Air will be published by St. Martins Press on August 15th, 2011.

Patti has been hailed as a fresh new voice in southern fiction. She has been short-listed for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and has twice been nominated for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Fiction Novel of the Year. She is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs and women’s groups where she discusses the importance of storytelling and anything else they want to talk about.

After earning her Master’s degree in Child Health, Patti worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist until her first child was born. Patti is a full time writer, wife and mother living with her husband and three children in Mountain Brook, AL where she is working on her next novel

November Picks

Fiction:
The Weight of Water
By Anita Shreve

About three months ago, I packed up an Atlanta house I’d lived in for sixteen years. Our raucous family of five lived in that house through toddlerhood, adolescence and our oldest child’s high school graduation. It would be an understatement to say that there was “stuff” to be sorted through in order to move to our new home in Mountain Brook, Alabama.  Much of this move and this packing and unpacking has been annoying, but there has been one great joy: re-discovering books that had been buried below other books.

This week I finally began to unpack boxes and boxes of books and in doing so, I uncovered one of my favorites. I know this November pick is a novel that was released in 1998, but it is a novel that inspired me to become a novelist all those years ago. It is a novel that moved my heart enough to understand that “Yes, a story can change a life.” The Weight of Water was made into a movie I never saw, but Anita Shreve’s words must be read.

The Weight of Water is a novel about the nature of love in all its facets – from beautiful to horrific. This haunting story moves through the medium of water (my favorite) with an almost unbearable tension.

Anita Shreve is one of my favorite authors. Ms. Shreve’s talent is in her mastery of words and sentences that draw us into her stories with grace, assurance and a magnificent tension. Whether she is writing about setting or consequence, emotions or situations, you will be fully immersed in her stories. I often want to read her novels twice: once for story; second for her skill and finesse with words.

So, yes, my November fiction-pick is thirteen years old, but so is my son and he’s pretty great too.

Click here for synopsis and information about The Weight of Water.

http://www.anitashreve.com/

 

Non-Fiction

Praying For Strangers
By, River Jordan

River Jordan will be the first to tell you that she had no intention of allowing a New Year’s resolution to change her life. But it did. And it will change your life also.

In Praying for Strangers, River Jordan tells of her amazing personal journey of uncovering the needs of the human heart as she prayed her way through the year for people she had never met before. The discovery that Jordan made along the journey
was not simply that her prayers touched the lives of these strangers (in often astounding ways), but that the unexpected connections she made with other people would be a profound experience that would change her own life forever.

For more information go to:

http://www.riverjordan.us

PATTI’S  PICKS

October Picks

Book Pick: The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe


Books that not only tell a great story, but also inform me about life as a woman and as a nature-lover could not be any better. Mary Alice Monroe has the uncanny ability to weave a story that uses nature as the backdrop for transformation. It is said that there is no irony in nature, that we are all touched by what touches our natural world. The Monarch butterfly is a transformational symbol and a creature of such intense beauty that I stare in awe at its simple, complicated structure.

Last year, my then twelve year old son and I put a butterfly chrysalis in a habitat and stared at the emerald jewel of a chrysalis, knowing that we’d probably do something wrong, yet hoping it would become what it was meant to become – a monarch butterfly. Every morning we checked on this jewel and felt vaguely disappointed that nothing had happened. And then something did happen – it changed color. Nothing more, nothing less. But this is what happens when a chrysalis is about to open – it turns dark.

We were lucky – my son and I – to be able to watch this butterfly emerge and become exactly what it was meant to be. If only we could all do that, right? Emerge and become exactly what we were meant to be.

That, right there, is what the Butterfly’s Daughter is about: How we can become who we are meant to be.

Last year, when Mary Alice Monroe was writing this book, she turned her screened-in porch into a monarch butterfly habitat where she raised and released dozens of monarchs. She also gave away over 10,000 milkweed seeds this past summer to anyone who wanted them. Milkweed is the plant on which Monarchs lay their eggs. If you would like seeds, you can contact Mary Alice on her facebook or website.

For a synopsis and more information visit http://www.maryalicemonroe.com/site/epage/104543_67.htm

Interview: http://midtownreview.com/books/author-interview-joshilyn-jackson/

One of my favorite authors – Joshilyn Jackson – sits down to talk to Dana Barrett about her writing, her books and her upcoming release. Joshilyn is funny, smart and wise in all the best ways. Enjoy this interview.

MITTEN STRINGS FOR GOD, REFLECTIONS FOR MOTHERS IN A HURRY

Review by Jennifer Jones

This past year I have spent hours with a group of women discussing a small yet powerful book.  Mitten Strings for God:  Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry , written by Katrina Kenison.  I had an opportunity to sit down with Katrina to speak with her about her book.  It was crystal clear to me how and why she wrote this poignant “guide;”  she was slowing down a forever race of a life, enjoying the moments that fly by and connecting with her children and cultivating their souls.

Kenison’s children were 5 and 8 when she wrote her first book, but her journey began long before that.  She had been reading a book by Thomas Moore, The Care of the Soul.  In the book, Moore said to “remember what it was like to be a child again.”  These words struck a chord in Kenison.  She remembered being bored as a kid and having to think up games to play; getting dirty outside, imagination and play were key.  There were no daily dance classes, baseball, football, etc…Maybe one or two, but definitely not all in the same week.  She realized she was responsible for not just room, board, activities and carpool for her children but was entrusted to care for their souls.

How was she to nurture them and still live in today’s society?  She wanted to stay connected with her children even as they hit the teen years.  Some of her steps were radical; others were simple.  Four main changes they made were:

1.  No television…yes, you read that correctly, no TV…no news, no cartoons, no evening sitcoms.  She did lighten up a bit as the children grew, but for the formative years she believed from everything she had read that TV would curb their creativity.

2.  Beautifully set table, candles and a nice meal almost every night of the week.  This would begin with a blessing while holding hands and allowed them an opportunity to really hear and connect with one another while enjoying a meal.

3.   Rhythm/Routine…key components.  Dinner at a certain time, if there was no time for an elaborate meal, frozen pizza was just fine.  It wasn’t the food, but the conversation they had.  The time that they spent together was invaluable.  She spoke of how now when her children come home to visit they still say the same childlike blessing holding hands before a meal.  This in itself is “comfort food” before they even eat.

4.  “I love you”, before ending a phone call and “good night” every night even if the day didn’t go well.

Simplify, simplify, simplify is a central message of the book.  Jan Pruitt is a mother of four and introduced me to this book.  Pruitt agrees, “Simplify” was one of her favorite chapters.  She said that the world is screaming, “buy more, bigger, better” and yet what we need is to slow down.  Pruitt felt that this chapter was amazing it and really hit home for her.  She also loved the chapter “Quiet.”  She never had really given thought to all the noise we hear every day from kids yelling, music blaring, TVs and even the sound a refrigerator makes.  I totally concur.  This past month we were without power, cable and phones for two weeks.  At first I thought I would never make it, then all of the sudden the quiet transformed my family.  We talked more, laughed more and slept better.  Pruitt also noted that Kenison really challenges you to become conscience of all the noise in your life.

Last night I had an opportunity to ask my Monday night group how felt about the book.  Amy Grimes, mother of two said,”this book has changed the perspective of how I look at various situations with my girls.” Jill Meyer, mother of a toddler and one on the way, loved it so much she purchased 7 copies and gave them to friends.  She also has confessed that she was raised never to write in a book and for the first time she felt compelled to highlight all of the wonderful passages she didn’t want to forget.  Lori Couch, mother of four said,” it really taught me to remember to enjoy my children one by one and to savor each and every day with them”.

When I asked Kenison what she learned about herself while writing this book, she stated that it was not taking on too much, saying no to invites when necessary and realizing that she was the center of her family.  She had more clarity and awareness of what is necessary began to cherish every moment.  The moments are so fleeting that she learned to savor them all.  Did she do this without mistakes? Absolutely not, but the core beliefs were there even if some things changed like TV as the children got older.  The journey has been one of rituals, play, listening and peace.

As Kenison was nearing the end of her time with her children at home, she wrote another book called The Gift of the Ordinary Day.  I urge you all to view the YouTube video of her doing a reading of this.  It brought tears to my eyes as I thought of all my fears of letting go, the part you know is going to have happen and yet never want to face as a parent.

Now as she has one child about to graduate from college and one from high school, she is writing a third book (title to still come).  This book will discuss empty nesters.  It will be about discovering who you are after the kids are gone.  About redefining and reinventing yourself, if you will.

I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to read Kenison’s book and so look forward to her next one as I quickly approach that chapter in my own life.  Well-written books with a message for us all!  Well done, well done!

 

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