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KFOR Book Chats – 2014


Starting in April 2002, and continuing through November 2018, a panel of library staff members have appeared somewhat regularly on Cathy Blythe’s Problems and Solutions program on radio station KFOR 1240 AM & 103.3 FM in a segment called “Book Chat,” sharing information about books, literacy and library programs. Here is a list of the books discussed on the shows during 2014:

July 16, 2014

letthetornadocomeLet the Tornado Come: A Memoir
by Rita Zoey Chin [Biography Chin]

From an award-winning poet comes this riveting, gorgeous memoir about a young runaway, the trauma that haunted her as an adult, and the friendship with a horse that finally set her free. When she was eleven years old, Rita began to run away. Her father’s violence and her mother’s hostility drove her out of the house and into the streets in search of a better life. This soon led her into a dangerous world of drugs, predatory older men, and the occasional kindness of strangers, but despite the dangers, Rita kept running. One day she came upon a field of horses galloping along a roadside fence, and the sight of them gave her hope. The memory of their hoofbeats stayed with her. Rita survives her harrowing childhood to become a prize-winning writer and the wife of a promising surgeon. But when she is suddenly besieged by terrifying panic attacks, her past trauma threatens her hard-won happiness and the stable, comfortable life she’s built with her husband. Within weeks, she is incapacitated with fear—literally afraid of her own shadow. Realizing that she is facing a life of psychological imprisonment, Rita undertakes a journey to find help through a variety of treatments. It is ultimately through chasing her childhood passion for horses that she meets a spirited, endearing horse named Claret—with his own troubled history—and together they surmount daunting odds as they move toward fear and learn to trust, and ultimately save, each other.

winterhorsesThe Winter Horses
by Phillip Kerr [YA Kerr]

From Philip Kerr, the New York Times bestselling author of the Bernie Gunther novels, comes a breathtaking journey of survival in the dark days of WWII in Ukraine, a country that remains tumultuous today. This inspiring tale captures the power of the human spirit and is perfect for fans of The Book Thief, Milkweed, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It will soon be another cold winter in the Ukraine. But it’s 1941, and things are different this year. Max, the devoted caretaker of an animal preserve, must learn to live with the Nazis who have overtaken this precious land. He must also learn to keep secrets—for there is a girl, Kalinka, who is hiding in the park. Kalinka has lost her home, her family, her belongings—everything but her life. Still, she has gained one small, precious gift: a relationship with the rare wild and wily Przewalski’s horses that wander the preserve. Aside from Max, these endangered animals are her only friends—until a Nazi campaign of extermination nearly wipes them out for good. Now Kalinka must set out on a treacherous journey across the frozen forest to save the only two surviving horses—and herself.

amazingharveyThe Amazing Harvey
by Don Passman [Passman]

The distinctive cover of this one jumped out at me from the “new mysteries” section at Barnes and Noble every time I saw it, so I was happy to see the libraries pick it up as well. The Amazing Harvey is Harvey Kendell, a professional magician in Los Angeles, struggling to make ends meet. Moving from one low-paying performance job to another, and hanging out with his fellow magicians at The Magic Castle between gigs, Harvey’s life suddenly spirals out of control, when he’s accused in a case of rape and murder. Harvey knows that he didn’t do the crime — heck, he’d never even met the women he’s accused of assaulting and killing. But, the police have DNA evidence that seems to contradict his claims. Turning down his mother’s offer to hired a flashy TV attorney, Harvey instead turns to a former classmate, Heather, who’s having some issues of her own, keeping her legal practice afloat without relying on handouts from her far-more successful attorney father. With Harvey working as Heather’s legman, they look into the details of the life of the victim in Harvey’s case, and Harvey also helps Heather with some of her other current cases. The characters here are well-rounded and, for the most part, likeable. Harvey’s coping mechanism for stress is to crack wise. The backdrop of a working magician’s life is fascinating. I look forward to more in this series.

humansofnewyorkHumans of New York
by Brandon Stanton [974.7 Sta]

Brandon Stanton is a photo-blogger — buying a camera in 2010, he started to take photos of his native Chicago, then Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and shared those photos via online blogging sites with other people. He was particularly focusing on places and things (like architecture), but when he took photos of interesting and unique people, his readers/followers had strong reactions — living more comments and/or “sharing” those photos through social networking sites. So, when Stanton got to New York City, he changed the focus of his photo-blogging, taking almost exclusively photographs of the people throughout this huge metropolis, and sharing them, daily, with short biographical snippets. His renamed blog Humans of New York skyrocketed in popularity. This book gathers 400 photos and biographical portraits of common, everyday New Yorkers — some with mild quirks, some who are “out there”, and some with amazing, emotional stories to tell. This book (and Stanton’s photo-blog in general) should appeal to photographers, photograph enthusiasts, those who love “the Big Apple” and those interested in people-watching. Highly recommended.

March 20, 2014

undeadpoolThe Undead Pool
by Kim Harrison [Harrison]

Supernatural superhero Rachel Morgan must counter a strange magic that could spell civil war for the Hollows in this sexy and bewitching urban fantasy adventure in acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has managed to save the demonic ever after from shrinking, but at a high cost. Now, strange magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows, causing spells to backfire or go horribly wrong, and the truce between the races, between Inderlander and human, is shattering. Rachel must stop this dark necromancy before the undead vampire masters who keep the rest of the undead under control are lost and all-out supernatural war breaks out. Rachel knows of only weapon to ensure the peace: ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils. And no one know better than Rachel that no good deed goes unpunished…

lastofthedonkeypilgrimsThe Last of the Donkey Pilgrims
by Kevin O’Hara [914.15 Oha]

Kevin O’Hara’s journey of self-discovery begins as a mad lark: who in their right mind would try to circle the entire coastline of Ireland on foot—and with a donkey and cart no less? But Kevin had promised his homesick Irish mother that he would explore the whole of the Old Country and bring back the sights and the stories to their home in Massachusetts. Determined to reach his grandmother’s village by Christmas Eve, Kevin and his stubborn but endearing donkey, Missie, set off on 1800-mile trek along the entire jagged coast of a divided Ireland. Their rollicking adventure takes them over mountains and dales, through smoky cities and sleepy villages, and into the farmhouses and hearts of Ireland’s greatest resource—its people. Along the way, Kevin would meet incredible characters, experience Ireland in all of its glory, and explore not only his Irish past, but find his future self.

americanmirrorAmerican Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell
by Deborah Solomon [Biography Rockwell]

“Welcome to Rockwell Land,” writes Deborah Solomon in the introduction to this spirited and authoritative biography of the painter who provided twentieth-century America with a defining image of itself. As the star illustrator of The Saturday Evening Post for nearly half a century, Norman Rockwell mingled fact and fiction in paintings that reflected the we-the-people, communitarian ideals of American democracy. Freckled Boy Scouts and their mutts, sprightly grandmothers, a young man standing up to speak at a town hall meeting, a little black girl named Ruby Bridges walking into an all-white school—here was an America whose citizens seemed to believe in equality and gladness for all. Who was this man who served as our unofficial “artist in chief” and bolstered our country’s national identity? Behind the folksy, pipe-smoking façade lay a surprisingly complex figure—a lonely painter who suffered from depression and was consumed by a sense of inadequacy. He wound up in treatment with the celebrated psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. In fact, Rockwell moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts so that he and his wife could be near Austen Riggs, a leading psychiatric hospital. “What’s interesting is how Rockwell’s personal desire for inclusion and normalcy spoke to the national desire for inclusion and normalcy,” writes Solomon. “His work mirrors his own temperament—his sense of humor, his fear of depths—and struck Americans as a truer version of themselves than the sallow, solemn, hard-bitten Puritans they knew from eighteenth-century portraits.”

acuriousmanA Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley
by Neal Thompson [Biography Ripley]

Like some old uncle you run into at family gatherings, LeRoy Robert Ripley was both charming and odd. He was obsessed with the weird, the gross, and the silly pun (a favorite town in Iceland was pronounced “Hell,” ergo lots of “Go to Hell” jokes). Born sometime in the 1890s (the record is unclear), he grew into a wildly talented cartoonist and radio personality who became rich in the Depression, eventually turning his fascinations into the Believe It or Not brand that survives to this day. With wit and passion, Neal Thompson, an Amazon senior editor, has chronicled this interesting weirdo’s life–just his amorous adventures could fill a book–and in the process come up with a portrait of early 20th-century America different from any you’ve read before. Trust us, which is 21st-century speak for: believe it or not!

January 16, 2014

palisadesparkPalisades Park
by Alan Brennert [Brennert]

Growing up in the 1930s, there is no more magical place than Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey—especially for seven-year-old Antoinette, who horrifies her mother by insisting on the unladylike nickname Toni, and her brother, Jack. Toni helps her parents, Eddie and Adele Stopka, at the stand where they sell homemade French fries amid the roar of the Cyclone roller coaster. There is also the lure of the world’s biggest salt-water pool, complete with divers whose astonishing stunts inspire Toni, despite her mother’s insistence that girls can’t be high divers. But a family of dreamers doesn’t always share the same dreams, and then the world intrudes: There’s the Great Depression, and Pearl Harbor, which hits home in ways that will split the family apart; and perils like fire and race riots in the park. Both Eddie and Jack face the dangers of war, while Adele has ambitions of her own—and Toni is determined to take on a very different kind of danger in impossible feats as a high diver. Yet they are all drawn back to each other—and to Palisades Park—until the park closes forever in 1971. Evocative and moving, with the trademark brilliance at transforming historical events into irresistible fiction that made Alan Brennert’s Moloka’i and Honolulu into reading group favorites, Palisades Park takes us back to a time when life seemed simpler—except, of course, it wasn’t.

hyperboleandahalfHyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
by Allie Brosh [Biography Brosh]

Every time Allie Brosh posts something new on her hugely popular blog Hyperbole and a Half the internet rejoices. Touching, absurd, and darkly comic, Allie Brosh’s highly anticipated book Hyperbole and a Half showcases her unique voice, leaping wit, and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations.

johnnycarsoncdJohnny Carson
by Henry Bushkin [Biography Carson]

A revealing and incisive account of the King of Late Night at the height of his fame and power, by his lawyer, wingman, fixer, and closest confidant. From 1962 until 1992, Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show and permeated the American consciousness. In the ’70s and ’80s he was the country’s highest-paid entertainer and its most enigmatic. He was notoriously inscrutable, as mercurial (and sometimes cruel) off-camera as he was charming and hilarious onstage. During the apex of his reign, Carson’s longtime lawyer and best friend was Henry Bushkin, who now shows us Johnny Carson with a breathtaking clarity and depth that nobody else could.

mrspoeMrs. Poe
by Lynn Cullen [Cullen]

Inspired by literature’s most haunting love triangle, award-winning author Lynn Cullen delivers a pitch-perfect rendering of Edgar Allan Poe, his mistress’s tantalizing confession, and his wife’s frightening obsession . . . in this “intelligent, sexy, and utterly addictive” (M. J. Rose) new masterpiece of historical fiction.

Other KFOR Book Chat pages:

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