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KFOR Book Chats

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Starting in April 2002, a panel of library staff members (primarily from the Anderson, Bethany, Gere and Eiseley branches) have appeared somewhat regularly on Cathy Blythe’s Problems and Solutions program on radio station KFOR 1240 AM in a segment called “Book Chat,” sharing information about books and upcoming library programs. Beginning in 2018, the length of episodes was decreased from 1 hour to 30 minutes, so the number of books discussed was reduced as well.

Here is a list of the books discussed in the most recent show: May 1, 2018

Appearing with Cathy on this episode: Scott C., Becky W.C., Lisa V., and show producer Lizz B.

The Deal of a Lifetime
by Fredrik Backman [Backman]

It’s Christmas Even morning. Years ago a man abandoned his son to pursue professional success; now he wonders if it’s too late to forge a relationship with him. One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. When the man is given the chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son before he makes the deal of a lifetime.


My Tiny Flower Garden: Beautiful Blooms in Surprisingly Small Places
by Matt Collins [712.6 Col]

With colorful cutting patches, sweet-scented city streets and pickup trucks perfect for pollinators, we’ve unearthed 25 amazing unconventional plots. Meet the couple packing pavements with flowers, the landscape architect who has constructed a meadow in the middle of London, and the Detroit florists who created an awe-inspiring installation in an abandoned building (before deconstructing the site and turning the land into a community flower farm). You’ll pick up all the best tips and tricks as each gardener shares their small-scale expertise, from crafty containers and sequential displays to expert advice on establishing creative community spaces. Plus, practical projects including seed bombs, a pallet planter and a homemade flower press will ensure that every inch of your space is always in bloom. Whether you’re looking for a floral fix or a bee-friendly bed, get inspired, let your imagination grow and enjoy your tiny flower garden.


Life is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love, and Lead Like a Star!
by Tim Federle [not yet in libraries’ collection]

Before Tim Federle became a bestselling author and a Broadway playwright, he worked as a back-up dancer at the Super Bowl, a polar bear at Radio City, and a card-carrying chorus boy on Broadway. Life is Life a Musical features 50 tips learned backstage, onstage, and in between gigs, with chapters such as “Dance Like Everyone’s Watching” and “Save the Drama for the Stage.” This charming and clever guide will appeal to all ages and inspire readers to step into the lead role of their own life, even if they’re not a recovering theater major.


Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails With a Literary Twist
by Tim Federle [641.594 Fed]

Even if you don’t have a B.A. in English, tonight you’re gonna drink like you do! From barflies to book clubs, Tequila Mockingbird is the world’s bestselling cocktail book for the literary obsessed. Featuring 65 delicious drink recipes paired with wry commentary on history’s most beloved novels, Tequila Mockingbird also includes bar bites, drinking games, and whimsical illustrations throughout. Drinks include:

  • The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose
  • The Last of the Mojitos
  • Love in the Time of Kahlua
  • Romeo and Julep
  • A Rum of One’s Own
  • Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margarita
  • Vermouth the Bell Tolls

and more!


Music of the Deep
by Elizabeth Hall [not yet in libraries’ collection]

Fleeing an abusive marriage and tormented by her past, Alexandra Turner finds solace in a small coastal town on Puget Sound and a job with a local marine biologist studying orcas.

After befriending a group of locals, Alex learns that she has moved to a place that has a reputation of being the “most haunted town in Washington.” Such superstitions would be easy to dismiss…if Alex wasn’t already on edge.

Haunted by shreds of memories of her days with her husband, Alex can’t keep from looking over her shoulder. As unexplained sounds and scents accumulate and unnerving forces seem to take hold, Alex is beginning to believe that she’s not escaping her ghosts, after all. In fact, she might finally be inviting them in.


Uncommon Type
by Tom Hanks [Hanks (or Compact Disc Hanks)]

A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game–and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have

The audiobook version features additional performances by Peter Gerety, Peter Scolari, Cecily Strong, Holland Taylor, and Wilmer Valderrama on “Stay With Us.”


Gardening Shortcuts: Shameless Shortcuts, Tips and Tricks for a Great Garden Super-Fast!
by Jenny Hendy [635 Hen]

Millions of people love their gardens but wish they weren’t quite so demanding. Imagine growing simple fruit and vegetables quickly, equipping yourself with a list of the best plants to buy for your garden in every situation, and losing fewer plants to pests and diseases. Gardening Shortcuts can show you how.

Packed with effective techniques, sparkling ideas, and shameless shortcuts for every corner of the garden, Gardening Shortcuts contains all the advice needed to create the garden you want and still have time to sit on the patio with a glass of wine.


A Beautiful Poison
by Lydia Kang [Kang]

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned, and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note. Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails. As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone?even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.


Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
by Peg Kehret [j Biography Kehret]

The author describes her battle against polio when she was thirteen and her efforts to overcome its debilitating effects.


The Food Explorer: True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats
by Daniel Stone [Biography Fairchild]

The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes–and thousands more–to the American plate.

In the nineteenth century, American meals were about subsistence, not enjoyment. But as a new century approached, appetites broadened, and David Fairchild, a young botanist with an insatiable lust to explore and experience the world, set out in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater.

Kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and hops from Bavaria. Peaches from China, avocados from Chile, and pomegranates from Malta. Fairchild’s finds weren’t just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America’s capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. But his culinary ambition came during a formative era, and through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created.


Here is a list of the books discussed in the most recent show: March 15, 2018

Appearing with Cathy on this episode: Scott C., Lisa V., and show producer Liz B.

The Massacre of Mankind
by Stephen Baxter [Baxter]

A sequel to the H.G. Wells classic The War of the Worlds, brilliantly realized by award-winning SF author and Wells expert Stephen Baxter It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared. So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells’ book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat. He is right. Thrust into the chaos of a new invasion, a journalist – sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins – must survive, escape and report on the war. The Massacre of Mankind has begun.


Penguin the Magpie
by Cameron Bloom [Biography Bloom]

People around the world have fallen in love with Penguin the Magpie, a global social media sensation, and her adventures with her human family. But there is far more to Penguin’s story than meets the eye. It all begins when Sam, Cameron Bloom’s wife, suffers a near fatal fall that leaves her paralyzed and deeply depressed. One of their three sons, reeling from the tragic accident, discovers an injured magpie chick abandoned after she had fallen from her nest. The boys name the bird Penguin, for her black-and-white plumage. As they nurse Penguin back to health, the incredible joy, playfulness, and strength she exudes fortify the family and especially lift Sam’s spirits. Penguin’s resilience demonstrates that, however bleak things may seem, compassion, friendship, and support can come from unexpected places ensuring there will always be better days ahead. This plucky little magpie reminds us all that, no matter how lost, fragile, or damaged we feel, accepting the love of others and loving them in return will help to make us whole.


The Tuscan Child
by Rhys Bowen [Bowen]

From New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…

“Pass the bread, the olives, and the wine. Oh, and a copy of The Tuscan Child to savor with them.” –NPR

In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.

Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history–and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now….


Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
by Sally Fallon [641.5 Fal]

A full-spectrum nutritional cookbook with a startling message — animal fats and cholesterol are vital factors in the human diet, necessary for reproduction and normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels. Includes information on how to prepare grains, health benefits of bone broths and enzyme-rich lacto-fermented foods.


The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created Alice in Wonderland
by Jenny Woolf [828 Woo]

A fairly new biography of Lewis Carroll, tied in to the release of Tim Burton’s all-star Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll was brilliant, secretive and self contradictory. He reveled in double meanings and puzzles, in his fiction and his life. Jenny Woolf’s The Mystery of Lewis Carroll shines a new light on the creator of Alice In Wonderland and brings to life this fascinating, but sometimes exasperating human being whom some have tried to hide. Using rarely-seen and recently discovered sources, such as Carroll’s accounts ledger and unpublished correspondence with the “real” Alice’s family, Woolf sets Lewis Carroll firmly in the context of the English Victorian age and answers many intriguing questions about the man who wrote the Alice books, such as: • Was it Alice or her older sister that caused him to break with the Liddell family? • How true is the gossip about pedophilia and certain adult women that followed him? • How true is the “romantic secret” which many think ruined Carroll’s personal life? • Who caused Carroll major financial trouble and why did Carroll successfully conceal that person’s identity and actions? Woolf answers these and other questions to bring readers yet another look at one of the most elusive English writers the world has known.


Here is a list of the books discussed on February 1, 2018

Appearing with Cathy on this episode: Lisa V., and Vicki W.

Alive in Shape and Color: 17 Paintings by Great Artists and the Stories They Inspired
edited by Lawrence Block [808.83 Ali]

Even before Lawrence Block could rest on his laurels from In Sunlight or In Shadow, a question arose. What would he do for an encore?Any number of artists have produced evocative work, paintings that could trigger a literary response. But none came to mind who could equal Hopper in turning out canvas after canvas. If no single artist could take Hopper’s place, how about a full palette of them? Suppose each author was invited to select a painting from the whole panoply of visual art–From the cave drawings at Lascaux to a contemporary abstract canvas on which the paint has barely dried.And what a dazzling response! Joyce Carol Oates picked Le Beaux Jours by Balthus. Warren Moore chose Salvador Dali’s The Pharmacist of Ampurdam Seeking Absolutely Nothing. Michael Connelly, who sent Harry Bosch to Chicago for a close look at Nighthawks, has a go at The Garden of Earthly Delights by Harry’s namesake Hieronymous Bosch. S. J. Rozan finds a story in Hokusai’s The Great Wave, while Jeffery Deaver’s “A Significant Find” draws its inspiration from–yes–those prehistoric cave drawings at Lascaux. And Kristine Kathryn Rusch moves from painting to sculpture and selects Rodin.In artists ranging from Art Frahm and Norman Rockwell to Ren#65533; Magritte and Clifford Still, the impressive concept goes on to include Thomas Pluck, Sarah Weinman, David Morrell, Craig Ferguson, Joe R. Lansdale, Jill D. Block, Justin Scott, Jonathan Santlofer, Gail Levin, Nicholas Christopher, and Lee Child, with each story accompanied in color by the work of art that inspired it.


Love and Other Consolation Prizes
by Jamie Ford [Ford]

For twelve-year-old Ernest Young, a charity student at a boarding school, the chance to go to the World’s Fair feels like a gift. But only once he’s there, amid the exotic exhibits, fireworks, and Ferris wheels, does he discover that he is the one who is actually the prize. The half-Chinese orphan is astounded to learn he will be raffled off–a healthy boy “to a good home.”

The winning ticket belongs to the flamboyant madam of a high-class brothel, famous for educating her girls. There, Ernest becomes the new houseboy and befriends Maisie, the madam’s precocious daughter, and a bold scullery maid named Fahn. Their friendship and affection form the first real family Ernest has ever known–and against all odds, this new sporting life gives him the sense of home he’s always desired.

But as the grande dame succumbs to an occupational hazard and their world of finery begins to crumble, all three must grapple with hope, ambition, and first love.

Fifty years later, in the shadow of Seattle’s second World’s Fair, Ernest struggles to help his ailing wife reconcile who she once was with who she wanted to be, while trying to keep family secrets hidden from their grown-up daughters.

Against a rich backdrop of post-Victorian vice, suffrage, and celebration, Love and Other Consolations is an enchanting tale about innocence and devotion–in a world where everything, and everyone, is for sale.


Lab Girl
by Hope Jahren [Biography Jahren]

An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world.</p

Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life–but it is also so much more.

Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.

Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.

Jahren’s probing look at plants, her astonishing tenacity of spirit, and her acute insights on nature enliven every page of this extraordinary book. Lab Girl opens your eyes to the beautiful, sophisticated mechanisms within every leaf, blade of grass, and flower petal. Here is an eloquent demonstration of what can happen when you find the stamina, passion, and sense of sacrifice needed to make a life out of what you truly love, as you discover along the way the person you were meant to be.


My Italian Bulldozer
by Alexander McCall-Smith [McCall-Smith]

Paul Stuart, a renowned food writer, finds himself at loose ends after his longtime girlfriend leaves him for her personal trainer. To cheer him up, Paul’s editor, Gloria, encourages him to finish his latest cookbook on-site in Tuscany, hoping that a change of scenery (plus the occasional truffled pasta and glass of red wine) will offer a cure for both heartache and writer’s block. But upon Paul’s arrival, things don’t quite go as planned. A mishap with his rental-car reservation leaves him stranded, until a newfound friend leads him to an intriguing alternative: a bulldozer.

With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts the offer, and as he journeys (well, slowly trundles) into the idyllic hillside town of Montalcino, he discovers that the bulldozer may be the least of the surprises that await him. What follows is a delightful romp through the lush sights and flavors of the Tuscan countryside, as Paul encounters a rich cast of characters, including a young American woman who awakens in him something unexpected.

A feast for the senses and a poignant meditation on the complexity of human relationships, My Italian Bulldozer is a charming and intensely satisfying love story for anyone who has ever dreamed of a fresh start.


Other KFOR Book Chat pages:

Past Years: 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010
2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002

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