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Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

We’ve all heard the cliché about books being able to transport us to another time and place. And like most clichés, it’s a cliché because it’s true. There’s nothing like a book to transport you to somewhere you’ve never been. Sometimes books take us somewhere we could go, if we had enough time off work and money for the plane ticket. But sometimes, books take us somewhere that exists only in the imagination of the author, and those are often the places we would most like to visit. So here’s a list of a few places I would love to go see, if only they were real.

Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books by J.K Rowlingharrypotter

Moving staircases, potion-making, friendly ghosts, spell casting, a Forbidden Forest, and house elves to do your laundry. Who wouldn’t want to go to school at Hogwarts? (Minus the evil megalomaniac trying to take over the world and kill all the Muggles, of course.)

Twelve Oaks from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchellgonewiththewind

The equally loved and despised Scarlett O’Hara may have lived at Tara, but it’s Ashley Wilkes’ antebellum home that I would most like to see. While the movie version of Gone with the Wind presents Tara as a classic Southern plantation home, the book describes it differently, saying “the house had been built according to no architectural plan whatever, with extra rooms added when and where it seemed convenient.” Twelve Oaks, on the other hand, is described as “tall of columns, wide of verandas, flat of roof, beautiful as a woman is beautiful who is so sure of her charm that she can be generous and gracious to all. Scarlett loved Twelve Oaks even more than Tara, for it had a stately beauty, a mellowed dignity that Gerald’s house [Tara] did not possess.”

Pemberley (Darcy’s home) from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austenprideandprejudice

When Elizabeth Bennet goes to tour Pemberley, she has already thoroughly and emphatically rejected a marriage proposal from its owner. Upon seeing the house she thinks, “And of this place … I might have been mistress! With these rooms I might now have been familiarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced in them as my own.” It must be quite the house to make her show a bit of regret over a man she turned down with such intense conviction. (Okay, we know she really liked him deep down, but still, the house must have been pretty great.)

Avonlea from the Anne books by L.M. Montgomeryanne

The fictional town of Avonlea is set in the actual province of Prince Edward Island in Canada, which is known to be an exceptionally beautiful place. But beyond that, Montgomery paints a picture of a charmingly old-fashioned little town, where friends and neighbors are noisy and opinionated, but ultimately helpful and reliable when one is in need; life is simple (or at least simpler); and days and seasons pass gently and quietly. A week or two there sounds just like the vacation I need!

The Gatsby Mansion from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgeraldthegreatgatsby

If The Great Gatsby teaches us anything, it’s that money can’t buy happiness. And while I wouldn’t want to live the life of the filthy rich during the Roaring Twenties, I would love to take a peek into their lifestyle and get a tour of Gatsby’s mansion.

So, how about you? Which fictional place would you love to visit?

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He left early on a Monday

 

The Tin DrumThough, one could say, I’ve had plenty of time, I’ve never read a book by Gunter Grass, who passed away this week.  I did once famously buy my friend, Dave, a copy of Grass’ best-known first novel, The Tin Drum, while on a walking tour of Chicago’s Wrigleyville.  (Dave, in return, bought me a copy of Graham Greene’s Monsignor Quixote if I remember correctly.)  Dave did not finish Grass’ book.  It is quite a tome, and I think he got frustrated with the stubborn banging of that drum (I’m being literal here) by the small child main character asserting himself in a world in the process of going mad.

I’ve only seen the movie, which I recommend.  As a piece of film I found it rather satisfying in its magical realistic depiction of the rise of Nazi Germany and all of those it gathered unto itself.  Besides, it’s only 2 or 3 hours long.  Not so with the book, though I do intend to read something by Gunter someday (I’ve still got time) who has left quite a legacy of grim moralization about the depravity that was the Nazis, revitalization of German literature with his 30 or so novels, plays, and poetry collections, and has been described as a “moral icon.”  Not to mention, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999 and could claim to have influenced both John Irving and Salmon Rushdie.  I will probably go for The Tin Drum and perhaps the other two books comprising his “Danzig Trilogy” for a start on the coming review of his body of work in light of his death and the significant 2006 revelation about how he voluntarily enlisted with Nazi Germany’s military near the middle of WWII.  (That disclosure resulted in another pronouncement; “the end of a moral institution.”)

Now, perhaps, readers can begin to get perspective on Grass’ decision to enlist, his late-in-life-confession, and his body of work as an objective, finished entity that stands on its own.  I don’t know if that’s really my personal aim in reading Grass.  I just want to know something more about his writing.  Besides, that “objective review” of Grass’ legacy may be more under the next-next generation’s ambit.  And, as a man who just celebrated yet another birthday, aren’t they coming along so fast?  I’m sure they’ll be up to the challenge.

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Yes, it’s that time again! Here are a few of the upcoming releases for March 15 to April 14, 2015. And as before, dates listed are the release dates, not necessarily the dates a library as them.

Historical romances take place before 1945. A heavy emphasis is placed on the development of a romantic relationship. Subgenres include medievals, American West and regencies.

h_beverley

Jo Beverley

Too Dangerous for a Lady
Rogue series
April 7

h_camp

Candace Camp

aka Lisa Gregory, Sharon Stephens, Kristin James
Pleasured
Secrets of the Loch Trilogy
March 24

h_elliott

Cara Elliott

Scandalously Yours
The Hellions of High Street series
March 31

h_james

Eloisa James

Four Nights with the Duke
Desperate Duchesses series
March 31

h_long

Julie Anne Long

It Started With a Scandal
Pennyroyal Green
March 31

h_quinn

Paula Quinn

The Scandalous Secret of Abigail MacGregor
The MacGregors: Highland Heirs series
March 31

h_rice

Patricia Rice

Formidable Lord Quentin
Rebellious Sons series
Ebook – Amazon and Ibook
March 24

h_scott

Amanda Scott

Devil’s Moon
Border Nights series
March 31

(more…)

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simon-said1Book Review:  Simon Said by Sarah Shaber

An archaeological dig uncovers the body of a woman shot in the head  70 years ago and buried with care under the old kitchen of Bloodworth House.  Historian Simon Shaw is an expert on the history of the site and he identifies the victim as Anne Bloodworth, an heiress who disappeared in 1926.  Why would someone want her dead?  And why did they bury her with reverence?  When discovered, her arms were crossed demurely over her chest and she was neatly shrouded in a quilt.

Puzzling as those questions are, Professor Shaw has more immediate concerns.  Just as he’s pulling himself out of an emotional nosedive following his divorce, a colleague tries to discredit him.  Is the colleague also behind the recent attempts on Shaw’s life?  Attempts which are staged to appear like suicide?  Who else would have motive to want this popular, Pulitzer Prize-winning professor out of the way — permanently?

Simon Said is the first entry in the Simon Shaw series.  Described by his love interest as “small, bookish, and unambitious,” Shaw has a certain charm.  A 30-something unexpectedly finding himself single and quite uncertain about dating the second time around, Shaw’s personal situation is easy to relate to — as is his apparent caffeine addiction (do not read this book if you are trying to kick the soda habit).  I like the fact that he teaches where he feels at home rather than seeking a position at a more prestigious university.  I like that he surrounds himself with heirlooms from his family.  I like that he has a cat and for a first date, he took his love interest to a baseball game.  Yes, he has a certain charm.  🙂

I also liked both mysteries, past and present.  My only quibbles would be that Shaber has a tendency to spell everything out and yet somehow allow our characters to miss the obvious.  While most of the story is told from Shaw’s viewpoint, we are given glimpses of other characters’ viewpoints as well, particularly regarding their feelings toward Shaw.  So, there’s not much excitement there, because we know that no one who counts believes he’s suicidal.  There were too many obvious clues that intelligent characters should not have missed — and, as good as Shaber’s characterization of Shaw was, some details seemed to suddenly emerge when needed.  Still, it’s a cozy read with a strong atmosphere of small-town life in the South and I will definitely give the next book in the series a go.  Looking forward to Snipe Hunt!

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In honor of Black History Month, I selected two books by African-American authors to read during the month of February: Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler and Jubilee by Margaret Walker.

parableofthesowerFrom the mid-1970s until her death in 2006, the award-winning Octavia Butler stood out as an African-American woman in a genre nominated by white males. Her science fiction unapologetically addresses issues of race, class, gender, and religion. Parable of the Sower is the first book in an unfinished trilogy. (Butler died while writing the third book.)

Parable’s protagonist is teenaged Lauren, who lives in a futuristic Los Angeles in which the government has all but collapsed. The walls of her gated community and the leadership of her pastor/professor father serve as her only protection against the lawless, violent society in which she and her family live. Adding further difficulties to her already challenging reality, Lauren suffers from a condition that allows her to experience the physical pain of those around her. In the midst of her struggle to survive (spoiler alert: that struggle will greatly intensify when Lauren’s community is overrun and she and two other survivors hit the road in an attempt to find somewhere safer to live), Lauren is waxing poetic about religion. She has dismissed her Baptist father’s God, and instead believes that “God is change” and is determined to found a new religion called Earthseed.

Butler’s world-building (always a challenge in sci-fi) is solid and her characters are interesting and engaging. I was less interested in Lauren’s budding religion and more interested in what was necessary to survive the endless string of tragedies that are commonplace in Lauren’s world. Parable of the Sower held my attention, and I continually wanted to know what would happen next, but the final third of the book was a bit of a let-down for me, as I felt it mostly served to set up the sequel, rather than telling its own story. Nevertheless, I would recommend Parable of the Sower to fans of dystopian sci-fi.

jubileeJubilee, by Margaret Walker, was published in 1966 and was atypical for its time, as it tells the story of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the eyes of an African-American woman. Walker, who started Jubilee as part of her dissertation while earning her doctorate at the University of Iowa, based Jubilee on the true story of her great-grandmother, a slave who was fathered by her owner. I admit to currently being only about 300 pages into the 500 page book, but have every intention of finishing it. While I am still unable to critique the book as a whole, I admire Walker’s ability to create realistic characters with both strengths and weaknesses. In a novel about slavery, it’s easy to demonize some characters and canonize others into saints, or paint characters with a broad brush based on what “category” they belong to (black or white, slave or free, Southerner or Northerner) but Walker’s characters are multi-faceted, flawed, and sympathetic, rendering them believable. While the subject matter is tough and the book is lengthy, it’s written at a level accessible to teenagers, making this an “easy” read and one I would recommend.

What about you? What have you been reading for Black History Month? I’d love to hear!

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Reclaiming EveTinCaps baseball, Debrand Fine Chocolates, the Embassy Theatre, Komets hockey, the Johnny Appleseed Festival, and (of course) the Allen County Public Library are just a few things to love about living here in Fort Wayne.  But did you know Fort Wayne is also home to a number of talented authors?  Suzanne Burden is a Fort Wayne resident and author of Reclaiming Eve: The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of GodShe is a part-time chaplain who enjoys speaking, preaching, and leading retreats. Suzanne was gracious enough to answer some questions about her book for me to share with you.  Enjoy!

Q: In your book Reclaiming Eve, you encourage women to find their true identity and calling in the  Kingdom of God.  Why did you want to write a book like this?

A: Because I needed the book myself! Through studying the Bible and dialoguing with my coauthors, we came to believe that from the beginning, with Eve, God had laid out a blueprint for every girl and woman that was empowering, life-changing and freeing. This was contrary to some of the impressions we had received that Eve was defined by her sin or an “inferior” nature. We taught what we were learning to a group of women in a Bible study, and 4½ years later, Reclaiming Eve was finally published. A Small Group DVD followed, and now people are leading book groups and studies in their churches and homes. We are thrilled to finally have the Reclaiming Eve project out in the world and to see women from every age, stage and circumstance being set free.

Q: What has the story of Eve been and why does she need reclaiming?

A: In Greek culture (which has heavily influenced our own), people believed that women were created as a curse on men. In Christian church history, some of our church fathers taught that women were not made in the image of God, even that they were “the Devil’s gateway.” In every era of history, we are always re-evaluating assumptions made and comparing them to the record of Scripture, reasoning them through and doing our best to live out God’s intentions. Even though Greek thought and some church fathers have passed on a negative view of women, when we studied more closely, we became firmly convinced this was unfounded. We believe that through Jesus, Eve and every woman is restored as both a “strong power”—Hebrew word ezer— (Genesis 2:18) and an image-bearer representative of the living God (Genesis 1:26-27).

Q: For centuries the church has taught that women cannot be leaders in the church.  Is this because they did not understand God’s reason for creating Eve?

A: It’s true that the Christian church has limited the leadership role of women. However, in pockets of Church history, including the early church of the New Testament, some leadership positions were open to women: Junia the apostle, Phoebe the deacon/minister, Priscilla the teacher, and many other women listed as “coworkers” of the apostle Paul. Things began to become more restricted for women around the third century. At times in history, included the late 19th and early 20th century, some women were teaching and preaching and leading again; it was a wooden literalism applied to passages written to a specific culture and city at a particular point in time in the New Testament that displaced them from their pulpits and mission stations, even stripping many of them of ministry licenses.

Our belief is this: God created Eve to alongside Adam mutually oversee his Creation and to flourish and to be fruitful and multiply. When sin entered the world and humankind chose their own way, hierarchy and domination began. But this wasn’t God’s fault, it was ours; neither was it God’s intention. Through Jesus, then, women are restored alongside their brothers to do God’s good work on this earth and to spread his love. We believe we were created as ideal partners, and that we need all hands on deck to get the job done.

Q: What are some of the things women can do if they feel certain doors are closed to them?

A: Every girl and woman has been created to love just as she is loved by God. The reality is that women often face more barriers to doing what they believe God is calling them to do — but every girl and woman can find ways to love well in whatever circumstance or calling they find themselves. Keep looking for open doors; go where women are cherished and welcomed alongside men; make a difference in your one life wherever you can, however you can, wherever you are planted.

Q: Your book is specifically about the identity and calling of women in the Christian church.  Is this an important book for men to read as well as women?

A: Yes! One Sunday a middle-aged man approached me and told me he had read Reclaiming Eve. With interest, I asked what he thought. He replied: “This really is what the gospel (of Jesus) makes possible!” The book is actually about gender reconciliation, about bringing men and women together as full partners. It’s filled with stories of what can happen when this occurs; we need men to champion women and women to lift up men. There is no superiority or inferiority, because we are interdependent. I believe a project or ministry is much stronger when both males and females are represented.

Q: We like to think we live in an enlightened time when men and women are treated as equals.  Yet in our world, the mistreatment and oppression of women is rampant.  For example, the World Health Organization reports that 30 percent of partnered women will experience physical or sexual violence by their partners in their lifetime.  How can a better understanding of God’s intent for the treatment of women by the church coincide with the need for justice for women all around the world?

A: I’m heartbroken by this. This year the National Council on Domestic Violence reported that one in three women in the U.S. are affected, and that one in six women will be a victim of rape. Women and girls around the world are victims of sex-slavery. This reality is absolutely opposed to the blueprint God gives us for the dignity of his daughters, those made in his own image as his representatives. When we realize the great intentions God has for women, our hearts rise up with anger and justice. We speak up when a woman is being abused; we help her find shelter and counseling; we make sure those abusing women are prosecuted by the civil authorities. “Real men protect women,” as the sign said at Fort Wayne’s “One Billion Rising” event. Those with faith in Christ should be the first ones to speak out against injustice both locally and globally. Women are infinitely precious to God and they deserve protection and freedom and flourishing.

Q: Do you have plans for any other books in the future?

A: I am working on a book project with a male coauthor that focuses on male/female partnerships, highlighting the amazing things that happen when men and women serve side by side. I’m thoroughly fascinated by stories that show how this is not only possible, but it’s happening. Men and women have and are accomplishing things together that neither could hope to do on their own. Stay tuned!

 

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Author Fair November 9, 2013 035

Attendees at the 2013 Author Fair.

Photo: Megan Bell

ACPL’s Annual Author Fair will take place at the Main Library on Nov. 8 from noon until 3:00 pm. Whether you’re an avid reader or an aspiring writer, this is a great opportunity to meet and chat with published authors and buy their books. Writers representing a variety of genres including books for children, teens, nonfiction and historical fiction will be here to talk about their works.

Click here to see the authors who are attending.

Access Fort Wayne will be filming the panel discussions.

The staff of the Bookmark bookstore in Fort Wayne will assist the authors at the event by selling titles, thus enabling authors to interact with the audience and sign books. Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to Friends of the Allen County Public Library, an organization which helps support the library’s services to the community.

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