From Penguin Classics.

Political Figure Biography or Memoir: <em>The Years of Lyndon Johnson</em> Series”/><br />
<h2>Political Figure Biography or Memoir: <em>The Years of Lyndon Johnson</em> Series</h2>
<div>President Johnson is one of America’s most complex and effective leaders, one capable of humanity and grace while being deeply flawed as a man and a leader. With each installment, I learn more about how to be a stronger leader, as well as how to guard against the hubris inherent in political power. (<a href=Amazon)

From Knopf.

Historical Fiction: <em>The Moor’s Account</em>“/><br />
<h2>Historical Fiction: <em>The Moor’s Account</em></h2>
<div>Her novel about Estebanico, a Moroccan slave who was part of Narváez expedition, uses the narrative device of a fictional memoir to excavate the horror faced by African slaves and native peoples in 16th-century Florida. His story makes the reader uncomfortable, angry, and bereft by turn—yet willing to endure all to see it through to the end. (<a href=Amazon)

Photograph by Tim Hout.

Romance: <em>Honest Illusions</em>“/><br />
<h2>Romance: <em>Honest Illusions</em></h2>
<div><strong>Nora Roberts’s</strong> ability to blend suspense and romance, and to craft intense characterizations without losing the thread of any story delights the mind and the heart. Plus, her heroines are fiercely independent and her heroes are flawed and dashing, excellent romantic fare. (<a href=Amazon)

Photograph by Tim Hout.

Thriller or Mystery: <em>The Between</em>“/><br />
<h2>Thriller or Mystery: <em>The Between</em></h2>
<div><strong>Tananarive Due</strong> crosses and interweaves genres without losing the reader or the story—difficult to do and fascinating to read. (<a href=Amazon)

From Harper Perennial.

Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco Launches THE ARMADILLO’S DREAM Children’s Book

Houston Grand Opera's HGOco Launches THE ARMADILLO'S DREAM Children's BookHouston Grand Opera and HGOco announce the launch of The Armadillo’s Dream, a children’s book authored by HGOco Touring Programs Manager Dennis Arrowsmith. This is HGO’s first-ever commissioned storybook, with underwriting by the Connie Kwan-Wong Foundation and CKW Luxe.

HGOco is the arm of HGO that explores making opera relevant to its changing audience by connecting the company with the Houston community through collaboration. The Armadillo’s Dream is available in hardback to the public starting Nov. 5 and can be purchased on the HGO website.

Through poetry and whimsical illustrations by Eduard Hakobyan, The Armadillo’s Dream tells the story of Sandy, an armadillo whose fondest wish is to sing onstage with Houston Grand Opera at the Wortham Theater Center. Arrowsmith, who adapted his story from a Bolivian folk tale, describes it as a “sweet story about the power of determination and resilience. I hope readers are moved and inspired by the armadillo’s journey.” Although Arrowsmith has written lyrics to songs in the past, this is his first book.

Sandy lives on Houston’s Buffalo Bayou and dreams of singing. It is his passion.Though discouraged by the creatures he meets, including a cricket, a frog, and some birds, Sandy is magically transformed during a violent storm. Soon after, his shell is discovered and proves to be the perfect musical instrument for scenes in Houston Grand Opera‘s production of The Pearl Fishers, which is coming to the Wortham Theater Center in January 2019.

The Armadillo’s Dream will become one of HGOco’s five opera-themed storybooks for Storybook Opera, where a singing storyteller brings a picture book to life for students in pre-K through second grade. It is available in English and in a Spanish translation by Alejandro Magallón. The book is a perfect addition to holiday gift lists for young children.

For more information about HGOco and its programs, please visit

Photo caption: Dennis Arrowsmith of HGOco, part of Houston Grand Opera, is the author of The Armadillo’s Dream, a children’s storybook commissioned by HGO and underwritten by the Connie Kwan-Wong Foundation. Photo courtesy Houston Grand Opera.

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‘The Dream Gathering’ with author Kristen Britain — User Submitted — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

Event organizer:
Melinda Rice

Event Date & Time:
November 3, 2018 6:30 pm
until November 3, 2018 8:00 pm

BAR HARBOR — Celebrate 20 years of the “Green Rider” with author Kristen Britain at the “Dream Gathering” at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Jesup Memorial Library, 34 Mt. Desert Street. Britain will also be celebrating the launch of her new book “The Dream Gatherer” which features a novella and two short stories set in the world of “Green Rider.”

For the night, the Jesup will be turned into Professor Berry’s library from the books. Explore the wonders of Professor Berry’s library and examine the many arcane artifacts that have been collected from the land of Sacoridia and beyond. There will be tasty food as well. Costumes are welcome, but not required for this fun, family friendly event.

Books will be on sale that night courtesy of co-sponsor Sherman’s Books. For more information about the event contact the Jesup at 207-288-4245 or [email protected].

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain – book review: A reading odyssey for autumn nights

When Carly Sears discovers her unborn child has a fatal heart defect, her brother-in-law comes up with a bizarre solution… time-travel to the future where doctors will be able to save the baby.

In an original and intriguing twist on the suspenseful family sagas that have made Diane Chamberlain a much-loved and popular contemporary novelist, The Dream Daughter pushes the boundaries of storytelling to compelling new heights.

READ MORE book reviews here
Brimming with drama, heartbreaking emotion and some of the toughest choices imaginable, this complex, multi-layered story is essentially a study of how far a mother is prepared to go – in this case, into an unknown future world – to save her child and unite her family.

Only months after her beloved husband Joe is killed in Vietnam in 1970, Carly Sears receives the bittersweet news that she is pregnant but her joy turns to devastation when doctors tell her that her unborn baby girl has a serious heart defect which means the infant will almost certainly die shortly after she is born.

There seems to be little that can be done but her brother-in-law, Hunter Poole, is a physicist and he has a plan. Hunter, who is married to Carly’s elder sister Patti, appeared in their lives just a few years before and his appearance was as mysterious as his past.

With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the orphaned Patti and Carly as his family and has never looked back. He has always been ‘a fixer’ but he can’t fix Joe’s death and Carly struggles to see how he can fix her baby’s heart defect.

His plan involves something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Carly has… using secret equipment at his laboratory to time-travel to the future so that doctors can use foetal surgery to save the baby Carly has already called Joanna.

It will require a kind of strength and courage that the expectant mother never knew existed, a mind-bending leap of faith… and the danger that so many things could go terribly wrong.

But if there is a chance to save the baby, how can she turn down Hunter’s offer?

Chamberlain blends fascinating science fiction, romance, adventure, suspense and mystery as she makes the unbelievable seem almost believable in this page-turning, time-travelling, rollercoaster story which sees a young mother caught up in a heart-rending domestic dilemma.

With her background in psychology and a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, this is an author who excels in exploring family life, and the dramas and conflicts that can tear us apart, or work to make us stronger.

Using a compelling – and often poignant – ‘back to the future’ device adds an exciting element to Carly’s story as we weave between past and present on a journey full of unexpected twists and turns, mind-blowing discoveries, and decisions that no mother would ever want to make.

A reading odyssey for autumn nights…

(Macmillan, hardback, £14.99)

Futuristic Dreams Turn To Nightmare In ‘Electric State’ : NPR

Most of the time, when I read a Simon Stålenhag book, I spend days scanning the trees around my house, looking for a shudder in the leaves; for the hump of a giant robot rising over the treeline, just beginning to stand.

Most of the time, I see them everywhere.

His books infect me that way. The stories crawl into my brain and mess with my memory of history, time and place. His art (photorealistic, washed out, laced in neon or icicles, nostalgic and futuristic both at the same time) gets into my eyes and stays there. For a while, I can’t trust anything. I see his world in the shapes all around me. Stålenhag’s two earlier art books (Tales From The Loop and Things From The Flood) exist for me, in a very real way, like an alternate history of a place I’ve never been, but miss like a second home. They are artifacts recovered from a dream of 1980’s and 90’s Sweden, of a pastel suburban past littered with robots, spaceships and dinosaur bones.

His newest, The Electric State, is different. It feels like something brought back from a nightmare:

The war had been fought and won by drone pilots — men and women in control rooms far from the battlefields where unmanned machines fought each other in a strategy game played over seven years. The pilots of the federal army had lived a good life in brand-new suburbs where they could choose from thirty kinds of cereal on their way home from work. The drone technology was praised because it spared us meaningless loss of life. The collateral damage was of two kinds: the civilians unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire, and the children of the federal pilots who, as a concession to the godheads of defense technology, were all stillborn.

That’s how State begins. Its first words. Where Tales and Things had an innocence to them — a sense of wildness and freedom in their structure as visual memoirs of a kid growing up in the shadow of a looming, strange future full of inexplicable machines and utopian science gone wrong — State does not. His Swedish books read joyous when they were happy, bittersweet (but rarely sorrowful) when they were not, and adventurous in between. But The Electric State is Stålenhag’s American book. His vision of an alternate post-war, post-drought, post-human 1997 in the desert West and California. And it is haunting.

The words (so few of them, just the barest few paragraphs every couple of pages) run in two tracks. One is a kind of history lesson on how the United States lost itself to a new VR-style technology called Sentre — initially developed as a way for combat drone pilots to integrate their brains with their machines, “An advanced joystick, basically,” the tech later oozing out of the bunkers and defense R&D labs as entertainment; a way for people to check out of the real world for a little while and plug themselves into a global consciousness, play games, pilot giant robots, be born again, all shiny and new.

The other track (the larger, the more affecting) is a travelogue of sorts. It’s the story of Michelle, a 19-year-old girl with a shotgun, a stolen car and a robot sidekick, trying to make her way across the abandoned, decaying, sandblasted and militarized American west. She’s headed for San Francisco, or what remains of it, to a fingerspit of land poking out into the Pacific ocean, and a house there. Because there’s something inside that’s very important to her, and she has to get it back.

Stålenhag’s art has always been jarring, with its combination of dull suburban tract houses, Brutalist apartment blocks, boxy economy cars and the sleek lines of pure sci-fi machinery. He’s always done decay well, and abandonment. He’s always had a hacker’s eye for kludging together old technology and new amid a rat’s nest of cables and blinky lights. He’s got a knack for the slick sheen of biopunk grossness — all tendrils and weird fluids — and the consequent juxtaposition of humans and the machines they have made.

But State is a departure in that here — in his America, in his version of our particular sick and sweaty dream of the future — the man and the machine are one. The bodies — lost to the deathless convergence of minds inside the beaked “neurocaster” headsets his Sentre junkies wear — are emaciated and skeletal, kept alive by IV drip, then by will, then by nothing but the machine. The giant robots that litter the landscape are cartoony and childish. Or made for war. Or built from scrap and spare parts — shrouded in dangling cables and covered in fingers, like Lovecraftian monsters stalking strip malls and highway rest stops.

Michelle tells her story in stages, a few hundred words at a time, recording her impressions of blinding dust storms and convenience stores guarded by assault-rifle-toting teenagers. It unwinds slowly, her past, the reasons for her trip, her relationship with the little, big-headed robot revealed bit by bit. On the opposite track, the history lesson becomes orders given to a mysterious man who’s been following Michelle all the way to San Francisco. And when the two storylines cross, they do so in silence. Pictures only. Like snapshots from a horrifying past that never quite was.

And if you’re anything like me, you’ll take those images to bed with you for a long time and dream of Stålenhag’s America — lost to sand, to drought, to war, to loneliness, and stalked always by the low, distant rumble of something terrible rising out of the earth and coming for you.

Jason Sheehan knows stuff about food, video games, books and Starblazers. He is currently the restaurant critic at Philadelphia magazine, but when no one is looking, he spends his time writing books about giant robots and ray guns. Tales From the Radiation Age is his latest book.

Charlotte Talks: ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Author J.D. Vance On His Upbringing And The American Dream

Monday, October 22, 2018

Meet J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy before his visit to Charlotte. His bestselling book is now being turned into a movie.

J.D. Vance grew up in a poor Rust Belt city in Ohio and an Appalachian town in Kentucky and went on to write a number one New York Times bestselling memoir about his family’s story called Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.

His grandparents left Kentucky’s Appalachia region in search of a middle class life up north in Ohio. They were somewhat successful in becoming more upwardly mobile, but that was only part of the story. Vance writes that they were never able to completely escape poverty and struggled with drug abuse, alcoholism and trauma.

Hillbilly Elegy provided a peek inside the struggles of white working class families and a case study of rural America in decline. It seemed to touch on many of the hot button issues of income inequality, working class anger, and a cultural divide that came out of the 2016 Presidential election.

Now the book is being made into a movie by director Ron Howard. In advance of his visit to Charlotte, guest host Dr. Michael Bitzer talks with Vance about his story, the impact of his book, and how he sees some of those themes playing out now in politics and society.


J.D. Vance, Author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Related event:

J.D. Vance is speaking to a sold-out crowd for The Learning Society at Queens University of Charlotte on Tuesday evening, Oct. 23rd at Knight Theater. Details