Friday, October 06, 2006

Web Event with Paulo Coelho

At 3 PM ET on Wednesday, October 11th, Paulo Coelho will be discussing his books and answering readers' questions. To participate in this free event, readers will need to register and login at 3 PM ET on October 11th.

To register for the event, readers should visit:

Throughout this web event readers can submit questions to Paulo and hear his responses. Participants will need access to a computer, an Internet connection and audio capabilities (built-in or external speakers). The questions will be posed to Paulo by a moderator --- Beliefnet Spirituality Editor Valerie Reiss. While Paulo is talking, participants can view a slide presentation about him and his books and submit questions via the event interface. Upon registration, participants will be sent to a confirmation page, which will have information on system requirements and how to login to the event.

For more details about Paulo Coelho and his work, please visit: and

Beliefnet's feature on Paulo Coelho can be read at

Young Adult Book Club Gathers in Unusual Location

A cooperative effort between the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) supports the biweekly meeting of the Freedom Reads Book Club. This reading group is composed of young adult males, ages 16 & 17, housed at Jail North. Their reasons for being in jail are varied but not relevant to participation. The only requirement is an interest in reading.

Until recently, the group met at 8:30 on Wednesday mornings. Most adults would not voluntarily arise and attend a book club meeting at 8:30 a.m. But these young men did and continue to attend on Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. In addition to reading, activities are planned that replicate opportunities available at ImaginOn.

Club members created puppets and produced a puppet show using folk tales such as the Three Billy Goats Gruff. Four members registered for the summer reading program at PLCMC. They maintained a log of their reading that was recorded by MCSO librarian, Margo Fesperman, on the PLCMC website. Several won prizes at the 10, 20 and 30-hour levels.

Like most book clubs, this group reads a book and discusses the plot, characters and appeal during the meeting. Kelly Czarnecki, Teen librarian from ImaginOn, clearly understands the nature of teenage behavior. The library standard of "Casual but not Chaotic" provides an atmosphere that encourages self expression and exploration of ideas. "We want the teens to feel comfortable coming to the public library once they reenter the community", Czarnecki concluded.

Although the club was formed in January 2006, it has reached several milestones already. It was selected as a GreatStories CLUB by the American Library Association and received an award of 10 copies each of 3 popular young adult titles.

GreatStories CLUBs are an ALA project aimed at "Connecting Libraries, Underserved Teens and Books." The group was also featured at the Diversity Fair during the ALA convention in New Orleans in June.

Reading is not limited to the book club members. Approximately 75% of all youthful offenders at Jail North request to come to the library and nonfiction books are as popular as fiction. During a recent month, 73 kids checked out 370 books.

Because these young men are such avid readers, the partnership between PLCMC and MCSO is invaluable. However, extra support is always needed. Neither library has endless resources. MCSO Library has a special fund for monetary donations that are tax deductible. Liquid funds help us procure designated titles that are specifically needed for the young adult collection, Fesperman said. Another avenue of support is the Adopt a Book Club program. Eight to ten copies of a book are needed for each session of the club so everyone can read the book simultaneously. Interested persons or groups can purchase copies of an upcoming title and donate them to the book club.

News Releases

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Let's Talk About Blogs

You can't talk about books and the Internet without talking about blogs. Or maybe I shouldn't be; according to Websters New Millenium Dictionary, "blog" is a word, but "blogs" is unrecognizable.

Nevertheless, there are more book blogs than you shake a stick at (although why you'd want to shake a stick at a blog is beyond me.) Something for everyone, or so it seems. I got an email last night about a new one - Detectives Beyond Borders: A Forum for International Crime Fiction "Because Murder is More Fun Away From Home" written by a copy editor from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Hey, I wonder if he knows John Grogan, a columnist at the Inquirer who was a former columnist for the south Florida Sun-Sentinel, and is the author of the mega-bestseller Marley & Me, and a really nice guy. If he is, he hasn't said so he's not cashing in on that at any rate. But how can you not be intrigued by a blog with a subtitle like that!

Crime fiction has spawned all manner of blogs. Some of the best are:

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
Sarah Weinman, crime fiction columnist for The Baltimore Sun, blogs for mystery and suspense lovers.

Crime Fiction Dossier
Commentary on the world of crime fiction, including mystery and thriller novels, authors, reviews and publishing. From David J. Montgomery, a writer and critic specializing in crime fiction - who I believe has a first novel in the works.

Crime Lab Project Forum
A place to talk about the Crime Lab Project, forensic science,
and news from the CLP News/CLP Morgue.
The CLP Forum is moderated by Jan Burke on behalf of the Crime Lab Project , a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the needs of public forensic science agencies.

First Offenders
Four mystery authors share their journey: Karen E Olson, Jeff Shelby, Alison Gaylin, & Lori G. Armstrong.

Girl-Detective: Baby Got Crime...
The Girl Detective is Diana Killian, mystery writer and fan of vintage crime films and books. She'll be cracking wise on movies, books, writing and publishing--and whatever else catches her magnifying glass.

It's a Crime (or a mystery...)
UK based reader of crime fiction brings you the best of crime and mystery fiction.

The Lady Killers
Rhys Bowen, Lyn Hamilton, Meg Chittenden, Mary Anna Evans, Cara Black: Five female writers of mystery fiction share their wit and wisdom, writing tips and travel

The Lipstick Chronicles
Where the book tarts - Harly Jane Kozak, Nancy Martin, Susan McBride, Sarah Strohmeyer & Elaine Viets - talk love, laughter, laundry and the mysteries of the writing life.

The Little Blog of Murder
Confessions of six Ohio mystery writers: Don Bruns, Judy Clemens, Casey Daniels, Jeffrey Marks, Sharon Short, Heather Webber, with an occasional guest blogger.

7 mystery writers dedicated to Mysteries, Murder and Marketing: Pari Noskin Taichert, Denise Dietz, Naomi Hirahara, Simon Wood, JT Ellison, Elaine Flinn & Jeffrey Cohen.

Paperback Mysteries
Reviews of new paperbacks by Dick Adler, who writes the crime fiction column in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday.

Rap Sheet
Information about new and forthcoming books, special author projects, genre innovations, and distinctive crime-fiction-related Web sites.

And no list of book blogs would be complete without mentioning these gals --

Do you really need an explanation? Suffice it to say: for the literati.

Buzz Girl
A publishing insider gets the skinny on tomorrow's bestsellers.

Finish reading all those then come back for more. I'm just getting warmed up. I haven't even touched on author blogs...

What's Cookin?

I love cookbooks. For years I collected them, but it got completely out of control when I started working for Borders. Take a walk through the remainder tables at your local bookstore - they are any cookbook junkie's demise.

I bought tons to add to my collection but very quickly ran out of places to put them. They were everywhere: the kitchen, on top of and buried in cabinets; in the living room wall unit; in the piano bench; and I'm embarrassed to say, on a shelf in the laundry room. But when I needed one, I would have to turn the house upside down to find it. And no, the rest of my books are no different. I am coming out, here on my blog: I am an unorganized bibliophile, causing me to have duplicates and sometimes triplicates of the same title and still not being able to grab hold of the book I need when the author comes to town or a friend wants to borrow it or when I want to reread it or refer to it. So sad.

But I digress; back to cookbooks. I've tempered my collecting. For a while, I just collected cookbooks that were put out as fundraisers, you know, Junior League, Cerebal Palsy, B'Nai Brith, your local high school drama club. Which reminds me, my daughter's high school drama club is putting out a cookbook - if you're interested, they will be available in November in time for gift giving. I contributed a recipe for Hot Clam Dip because it is one of her favorites. Just drop me an email if you're interested.

Soon that collection also got out of hand so I just stopped. I have become a discriminating cookbook acquirer, only bringing home those cookbooks that I feel merit the precious shelf space they will take up. They must have recipes I will use - not just one or two, which is what I find with most cookbooks, but lots of recipes I like and want to try. That doesn't mean they have to be big cookbooks, but they have to shelf-worthy.

So what makes a cookbook shelf-worthy? Besides lots of usable recipes, I like pictures, lots of pictures. Tempting pictures. Pictures that let me know that what I just made looks the way it's supposed to. I want a good index. Don't send me scrambling from letter to letter to find a recipe with chicken and wine. I like well thought out directions - don't assume I know every culinary term used at the Cordon Bleu, because I don't. Recipes should use ingredients that I can buy without making too many trips to specialty stores.

That's about it. I can handle days of prep work, hours of chopping, kneading, marinating, what have you. I just wait to make those kinds of recipes until I have a day off. But most of the recipes should be doable in an hour or so. I can't come home from work and start three hours of prep time, I just can't.

That said, a couple of new cookbooks have come out this fall that seem like they will be making the grade. I just got the Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild. It's a big honker, over 1200 recipes and almost 800 pages. Bon Appetit is my favorite food magazine and I've collected any number of their recipes over the years. Not always easy, but almost always wonderful and that means a lot, especially when you have to work for it. Is there anything more discouraging than slaving over a hot stove for hours and hours to end up with a mediocre dish?

This new cookbook says right on the cover, "easy-to-make recipes" and I will be checking them out. Give me a few weeks, and I'll fill you in.

The other new cookbook that has me excited is Baking by Dorie Greenspan. I haven't gotten that one yet, but I hope to soon. I did take a peek at it - there is an entire chapter devoted to brownies! And I like her style, the recipes are written in plain English with substitutions mentioned right off the bat. And serving tips are also nice, and there are lots of them in this cookbook.

Then there is the Tasting Club: Gathering Together to Share and Savor Your Favorite Tastes by Dina Cheney which is a different kind of cookbook that sounds very intriguing. It offers ten different tastings (parties) all focusing on a particular food along with wine pairings. I will be checking this out for sure.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Giller Prize short list announced Tue Oct 3, 1:51 PM ET

Five Canadian fiction writers have made the short list for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the country's richest and glitziest literary award, organizers announced Tuesday.

Since its inception, the Giller has become Canada's most talked-about literary honor, with an awards dinner attracting a mix of politicians, musicians, actors and authors. Past winners have included Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Mordechai Richler.

This year's list is made up of lesser known writers.

Rawi Hage was recognized for his debut novel, "De Niro's Game," which tells the story of two friends coping with the civil war in Beirut, Lebanon. Toronto doctor Vincent Lam got a nod for his collection of short stories, "Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures," about a group of young physicians.

Pascale Quiviger is in the running for "The Perfect Circle," about a woman who pursues a mysterious older man. The book, written in French, was translated into English. Gaetan Soucyvwas short listed for "The Immaculate Conception," a novel set in a working-class Montreal neighborhood in the 1920s. Carol Windley is in the running for her collection of short stories called "Home Schooling."

The winner, to be announced at a gala awards ceremony on Nov. 7, will receive $35,000.

The prize was created in 1994 by businessman Jack Rabinovitch to honor his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller

Giller Prize short list announced - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Redefining Irony

Timing is everything and you just have got to love this -- challenging a book about challenging books during Banned Books Week is just too much.

Parent criticizes book 'Fahrenheit 451'
By: Kassia Micek , Courier staff

A Caney Creek High School dad is fired up because the Conroe Independent School District uses the book "Fahrenheit 451" as classroom reading material.

Alton Verm, of Conroe, objects to the language and content in the book. His 15-year-old daughter Diana, a CCHS sophomore, came to him Sept. 21 with her reservations about reading the book because of its language.

"The book had a bunch of very bad language in it," Diana Verm said. "It shouldn't be in there because it's offending people. ... If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all."

Alton Verm filed a "Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials" Thursday with the district regarding "Fahrenheit 451," written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. He wants the district to remove the book from the curriculum.

"It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451." "The words don't need to be brought out in class. I want to get the book taken out of the class."

He looked through the book and found the following things wrong with the book: discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, "dirty talk," references to the Bible and using God's name in vain. He said the book's material goes against their religions beliefs. The Verms go to Grand Parkway Church in Porter.

"We went them to go after God," said Glen Jalowy Jr., Grand Parkway Church youth minister. "We encourage them that what you put in your mind and heart is what comes out."
Alton Verm said he doesn't understand how the district can punish students for using bad language, yet require them to read a book with bad language as part of a class.
Diana Verm and another classmate decided to read an alternative book. They leave the classroom when the class reads or discusses "Fahrenheit 451," she said. The two students were given "Ella Minnow Pea" by Mark Dunn because it shares common themes with "Fahrenheit 451," said Chris Hines, CISD assistant superintendent for secondary education.

"Fahrenheit 451" is a science fiction piece that poses a warning to society about the preservation and passing on of knowledge as well as asks the question about whether the government should do the thinking for the people, Hines stated in an e-mail to The Courier. Other themes include conformity vs. individuality, freedom of speech and the consequences of losing it, the importance of remembering and understanding history and technology as help to humans and as hindrances to humans, Hines stated in the e-mail.

"They're not reading books just to read them," Hines said in a telephone interview. "They're reading it for a purpose. ... We respect people's rights to express their concerns and we have a policy in place to handle that."

A selection process is used for materials other than textbooks, according to district policy. The materials must meet various standards, be appropriate for the subject, age and social and emotional development of the students and motivate students to examine their own attitudes and behavior, according to district policy.

While the district does not know of any other challenges to "Fahrenheit 451," there may have been students who have decided to read a different book. The district estimates about 1 percent of students request to read a different book than assigned, according to the e-mail. "Fahrenheit 451" has been used in CISD curriculum for at least 19 years and "likely prior to that," Hines said in the e-mail.

The district hasn't received challenges on any other books in the four years he's been with the district, Hines said.

A district student, employee or resident can challenge any educational material in CISD on the basis or appropriateness, according to CISD EFA (local) policy. An informal reconsideration is first attempted. Informal requests are not documented, so Hines said he did not know how many requests were handled informally.

The person can make a formal challenge, which Alton Verm did. A committee will be appointed to review the material, discuss the material and report findings about the request to the principal, parent and superintendent, Hines said. The process takes about two weeks.
The Montgomery, New Caney, Splendora and Willis school districts have similar policies.
NCISD banned "Draw Me a Star" by Eric Carle and "Absolute Power" by David Baldacci, but it has not received a book challenge in three years, Cindee Reynolds, NCISD superintendent/community relations executive assistant, stated in an e-mail to The Courier. Montgomery ISD received one request from a parent to review instructional material, but the district has not banned any books, Babette Eikenberg, Montgomery ISD human resources executive director, stated in an e-mail to The Courier.

Alton Verm's request to ban "Fahrenheit 451" came during the 25th annual Banned Books Week. He and Hines said the request to ban "Fahrenheit 451," a book about book burning, during Banned Books Weeks is a coincidence.

"Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read" is observed during the last week of September each year, according to the American Library Association Web site, The week celebrates the freedom to choose or express one's opinion, even if it might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them, according to the Web site.

Jerilynn Williams, Montgomery County Memorial Library System director, said Banned Books Week keeps the public aware that it is imperative to have access to information in a democratic society. Banning books causes libraries to limit access to information by withholding a person's right to explore a wide variety of opinions to form their own opinions, Williams said.

"Not every book is appropriate for every person, but every person should have their work that they choose," Williams said. "The public library is for everyone."
The Montgomery County Memorial Library System has received 65 requests to challenge books since 2002, Williams said. The library has removed "Castro," for factual inaccuracies, and "Tomorrow Wendy," because it was not under the library's current guidelines, Williams said. The library also has a process for people to follow if they challenge a book, Williams said.

However, Williams said a public library is different than a school library.
"As a public library, we are the library for everyone," Williams said. "The school library is meant to be the library for that select group at that school."
To view a school district's policy on book selection or how to challenge a book, visit the individual district's Web site.
Kassia Micek can be reached at

Houston Community Newspapers Online - Parent criticizes book 'Fahrenheit 451'

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The world mystery convention is meeting this weekend and the awards have been announced -- congratulations to all the nominees and award recipients!


The Anthony Awards were presented at a special ceremony this afternoon:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Robert B. Parker (not in attendance)

Best Mystery Novel: Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger (Atria)

Best First Mystery: Tilt-a-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein (Carroll & Graf)

Best Paperback Original: The James Deans by Reed Farrel Coleman (Plume)

Best Short Story: "Misdirection" by Barbara Seranella (Greatest Hits, Carroll & Graf)

Best Critical/Nonfiction: The Heirs of Anthony Boucher by Marv Lachman (Poisoned Pen Press)

Best Fan Publication: Crimespree Magazine, edited by Jon and Ruth Jordan

Special Service to the Field: Janet Rudolph, for Mystery Readers International


The Shamus Awards were presented tonight by the Private Eye Writers Association:

The Eye - Award for Lifetime Achievement: Max Allan Collins

Best Hardcover: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)

Best Paperback Original: The James Deans by Reed Farrel Coleman (Plume)

Best First Novel: Forcing Amaryllis by Louise Ure (Mysterious Press)


Earlier this evening the following awards were presented:

The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association presented the Dilys Award for the book IMBA members most enjoyed selling in 2005 to Colin Cotterill for Thirty-Three Teeth. This award had been announced at Left Coast Crime in March, but Cotterill had not been present.

The Macavity Awards, voted on by the members of Mystery Readers International:

Best Novel: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)

Best First Novel: Immoral by Brian Freeman (St. Martin's)

Best Nonfiction: Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak (Harcourt)

Best Short Story: "There Is No Crime on Easter Island" by Nancy Pickard (EQMM, Sept-Oct 2005)

Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award: Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (Henry Holt)

The Barry Awards, voted on by the readers of Deadly Pleasures:

Best Novel: Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook (Harcourt)

Best First Novel Published In The U.S. in 2005: Cold Granite by Stuart Macbride (St. Martin's)

Best British Novel Published In The U.K. in 2005: The Field of Blood by Denise Mina (Bantam Press)

Best Thriller: Company Man by Joseph Finder (St. Martin's)

Best Paperback Novel: The James Deans by Reed Farrell Coleman (Plume)

Best Short Story: "There is No Crime on Easter Island" by Nancy Pickard (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Sept/Oct 2005)

Don Sandstrom Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in Mystery Fandom: Janet A. Rudolph (voted on by previous recipients)

The American Crime Writers League announced that Dick Adler is the recipient of this year's Ellen Nehr Award for mystery reviewing. Adler reviews for the Chicago Tribune.

Thanks to Black Raven Press for posting all the awards so fast.

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