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Festival of Reading

Author biographies

A quick look at the Festival's guests.

By Times Staff
Published October 27, 2005


 

BOB ANDELMAN

Andelman, a St. Petersburg resident and author or co-author of 10 books, honors a master of the art of comics in Will Eisner: A Spirited Life. Eisner, who died in January, was a cartoonist, writer and publisher who was a pioneering force in the genre for more than 60 years.

A critic's view: "Andelman goes far beyond the Eisner most of us knew, the tireless supporter of comics as an art form. This is a rich real-life narrative that everyone interested in the history of comics should read." - Heidi McDonald, The Beat: the News Blog of Comics Culture

If you like this book, try: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

RAY ARSENAULT

A professor at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, Arsenault is a specialist in the social, political and environmental history of the American South. He is co-editor of Paradise Lost? The Environmental History of Florida, a collection of essays about the history of humanity's relationship with nature in the Sunshine State, from Spanish exploration to the present.

A critic's view: "A magnificent contribution to Florida's environmental history and a fascinating analysis of "paradise lost' in the land of the pink flamingos and Disney." - Carolyn Johnston, Eckerd College

If you like this book, try: Kick Ass: Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen

MARIANNE BERKES

Florida resident Berkes' award-winning picture books focus on nature. Her latest, Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef, is a counting book with a musical element, with polymer clay illustrations that re-create the amazing colors and shapes of a reef.

A critic's view: "If you love marine life, music or math, then this is the book for you!" - LeapFrog Schoolhouse

If you like this book, try: A Swim Through the Sea, by Kristin Joy Pratt

JEANNE BICE

In Pull Yourself Up by Your Bra Straps, and Other Quacker Wisdom, Bice has compiled lessons learned as she turned herself from amateur crafter into founder and owner of the Quacker Factory clothing company. QVC discovered Bice, and her clothing is one of the most popular lines sold on the shopping channel.

A critic's view: "Each chapter is a colorful lesson told in Jeanne's folksy, endearing voice, with advice like "If you can't lose it, decorate it!' Reading these stories will lift your spirits, bring a smile to your face, and empower you to make your dreams come true." - Amazon.com

If you like this book, try: The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love by Jill Conner Browne

BETTY G. BIRNEY

Birney has authored 26 children's books. Her latest, The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, finds her main character, Eben McCallister, taking his father's challenge to find seven wonders right in their hometown.

A critic's view: "A literary folk story blending down-home narrative and characters with a sprinkling of magical realism. Black-and-white sketches enhance the text and its folksy character. Perfect for reading aloud." - School Library Journal

If you like this book, try: Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson

JOAN BISKUPIC

Biskupic, who covers legal affairs and the Supreme Court for USA Today and PBS's Washington Week, focuses on a timely subject in Sandra Day O'Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice. The book offers some personal glimpses of O'Connor but focuses on her development as a justice and her impact on the workings of the court.

A critic's view: "As O'Connor faces retirement, Biskupic clarifies her judicial legacy . . . praising her lack of ideology but also noting a lack of vision in a justice who often "step[s] to the brink, and then back[s] away' - a mixed legacy that will be debated for years to come." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: Lazy B: Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest by Sandra Day O'Connor and H. Alan Day

JAMES O. BORN

Born has combined his career in law enforcement and love of writing into a new life as a novelist. Shock Wave is the second installment in his darkly comic series focusing on Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent Bill Tasker. (The first was Walking Money.)

A critic's view: "Born mixes believable characters, a fast-moving story, crisp dialogue and a nice blend of humor." - Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

If you like this book, try: Dead of Night by Randy Wayne White

BEVERLY BRANDT

Brandt, a former financial analyst who lives in St. Petersburg, wrote her first book in less than three months and sold it just six months later. Brandt's latest offering, The Tiara Club, features Georgia Elliot, who finds there is life after being a beauty queen - especially when a charming celebrity chef comes to her small Southern town.

A critic's view: "Brandt has a knack for funny details - who knew you could pick a handcuff lock with a silver cocktail fork? - and she populates Ocean Sands with enough entertaining eccentrics and secret loves to make The Tiara Club a sassy beach read." - St. Petersburg Times

If you like this book, try: Just Peachy by Jill Winters

CANDACE BUSHNELL

Bushnell got everyone gossiping about the sex lives of 30-something women in New York with her bestselling novel Sex and the City, the inspiration for the hit HBO series. Her latest, Lipstick Jungle, tells the stories of three powerful women who will stop at nothing to stay on top.

A critic's view: ". . . A racy tale of women behaving badly manages to shrewdly flip the tables to show us how gender roles are essentially interchangeable, given the right circumstances. Whether that was Bushnell's intent when crafting this wicked tale is another story." - Amazon.com

If you like this book, try: The Starter Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer

ANDREW CARROLL

Carroll's latest compilation, Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters and One Man's Search to Find Them, follows his 2001 bestseller, War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence From American Wars. The audio version of the book was nominated for a Grammy, and the book was the basis for the critically acclaimed PBS documentary War Letters.

A critic's view: "Carroll traveled to more than 30 countries on five continents to search for these letters, and his encounters on his travels are just as interesting as the letters. Historically, the letters range from the Revolutionary War to the current conflict in Iraq. . . . There are numerous gems here." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell by John Crawford

ANA CASTILLO

Watercolor Women/Opaque Men, Castillo's novel in verse, is the story of a tough and independent Chicana and her journey to empowerment. As a journalist and literary author, Castillo has been a force in the struggle for women's rights.

A critic's view: "Castillo is breathtaking in her scorn for outsiders who commercialize Mexico's traditions while holding Mexican people in contempt and is bracingly candid in her take on sexual politics and the furor over illegal aliens. Castillo's novel in verse is mythic, earthy, sardonic and unsparing in its outrage and compassion. . . ." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

SUE ELLEN COOPER

Cooper is the founder of the Red Hat Society, a social and support group for women over 50, and author of The Red Hat Society's Laugh Lines: Stories of Inspiration and Hattitude and The Red Hat Society's Fun and Friendship after 50. Cooper shares stories, jokes, anecdotes and life experiences of Red Hatters, who number nearly 1-million worldwide.

A critic's view: "There are new Red Hat-friendly lyrics to well-known songs; wry anecdotes about aging, grandchildren and errant spouses; poignant stories about lost friends and family members; and several chapters devoted to the relationships between people and pets." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: Big Purple Undies by Suzanne Kelman and Louise Kelman

CRAIG CRAWFORD

Crawford, Washington pundit and columnist for Congressional Quarterly, has written Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media. Crawford pinpoints when and where the relationship among the media, the politicians and the nation began to sour.

A critic's view: "Slim as Crawford's book may be, it does a decent job of pulling together the principal moments of the ongoing struggle between the press and the government." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy by John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney

JUNE CUSSEN

June and David Cussen founded Pineapple Press in Sarasota in 1982, and since then have published more than 250 fiction and nonfiction titles, most about Florida and by Florida authors. Pineapple Press publishes 20 to 25 new books each year, such as Florida's Birds, Everglades: River of Grass and A Land Remembered.

RICHARD PAUL EVANS

Evans, the bestselling author of The Christmas Box trilogy, brings a tale of romance in his latest novel, The Sunflower. Two people whose hearts have been broken find each other while working in the jungles of Peru.

A critic's view: "Sweet and uplifting, Evans' new tale is as enjoyable as his previous ones." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks

CHARLES FEIL

Photographer Feil takes to the skies in his gyroplane to produce his series of books of aerial images of landscapes. The latest is Over Southeast Florida, with views ranging from the Everglades wilderness to the Miami metropolis.

A critic's view: "Southeast Florida - the magic tip of the Florida peninsula. Charles Feil offers it to you from the view from his gyroplane as he buzzes over the beaches, the cities, the Everglades, and the ever-shimmering waters of the Atlantic. Accompanying the full-color photographs are fascinating facts and little-known details about the region." - Libreria Universitaria

If you like this book, try: Clyde Butcher: Florida Landscape by Clyde Butcher

ADRIAN FOGELIN

Fogelin's latest novel for young readers is Big Nothing. Tallahassee middle-schooler Justin Riggs struggles with his feelings about his father's abandonment and his brother's deployment to Iraq until his friendship with neighbor Jemmie and his blossoming musical talent give him a way to cope. Two of Fogelin's novels, Crossing Jordan and Anna Casey's Place in the World, have been Sunshine State Reader books.

A critic's view: "Fogelin's character-driven narrative may drift too much for some readers, but it speaks of the painful transitions of adolescence with rare humor and honesty. Justin's misery when Duane ships out to Iraq also brings the current circumstances of many American families into sharp relief." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

SARAH GARDNER

Gardner's Read It and Eat: A Month-by-Month Guide to Scintillating Book Club Selections and Mouthwatering Menus combines reading suggestions with recipes that are appropriate for each title. Gardner, who lives in Sarasota, is also the publisher of the Literary Gathering, a bimonthly newsletter that integrates the pastimes of book clubs and cooking.

A critic's view: "Gardner's recipes are all simply and easily prepared, not intimidating to anyone with even modest kitchen skills. She also provides questions to provoke discussion." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

MARC D. GILLER

A futuristic high-tech crime tale, Hammerjack is Giller's first novel. Computer superhackers, known as hammerjacks, threaten the balance of power, and former hammerjack turned investigator Cray Alden must foil the plot.

A critic's view: "Giller's debut hits all the right chords for genre success: breakneck action, high-tech inventiveness and a compelling protagonist in the hard-boiled hacker-gumshoe Cray." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: Neuromancer by William Gibson

PETER GOLENBOCK

St. Petersburg resident Golenbock is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and has been called the "best oral historian in the literature of sport." His Red Sox Nation: An Unexpurgated History of the Red Sox is a comprehensive look at the franchise, told from the points of view of the players, fans and sportswriters who lived it.

A critic's view: "Golenbock adds several chapters to his oral history, originally released as Fenway in 1992, offering new contributions from Red Sox players and opponents, coaches, front office personnel, and others discussing the triumphs and failures of the past century-plus." - BookReporter.com

If you like this book, try: Faithful: Two Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season by Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN

Pulitzer Prize winner Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln presents what she considers a "miraculous event": Lincoln, a one-term member of Congress and backwoods lawyer, was able to hold his own against three wealthier, better educated rivals for the 1860 Republican nomination.

A critic's view: "Goodwin supplies capable biographies of the gentlemen on whom she has chosen to focus, and ably highlights the sometimes tangled dynamics of their "team' within the larger assemblage of Lincoln's full war cabinet." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: 1776 by David McCullough

LENORE HART

A fifth-generation Floridian living in Virginia, Hart is the author most recently of Ordinary Springs, a coming-of-age novel set in the fictional town of Ordinary Springs, Fla., in the 1950s and '60s.

A critic's view: "Gritty, fierce . . . a fine vintage portrait of a tough girl whom life teaches to be tougher." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

CARL HIAASEN

Miami Herald columnist Hiaasen has written a heap of bestselling books for adults; his second venture into literature for kids is Flush. Illegal dumping of waste is polluting the water surrounding the Florida Keys, and young Noah and his sister come up with a plan to solve the problem: "Operation Flush."

A critic's view: "Flush . . . is every bit as wacky as Hiaasen's adult novels. It simply leaves out (it's for kids, remember) the bad language, gratuitous violence and girls with big boobs." - St. Petersburg Times

If you like this book, try: Summerland by Michael Chabon

JESSICA HUNDLEY

Hundley's latest work, Grievous Angel: An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons, details the life of the Florida-raised "father of country rock." Parsons' rise to fame as a member of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers and a collaborator with Emmylou Harris and Keith Richards ended in 1973 with his death at age 26 of a drug overdose. Hundley, in collaboration with Polly Parsons, Gram's daughter, compiles interviews, conversations, photos and unpublished letters.

A critic's view: "Heavy on atmosphere but frustratingly light on insight, this biography portrays an ambitious, charming, spoiled and self-destructive artist who might be better remembered through his music." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Gram Parsons by Ben Fong-Torres

LEE IRBY

Irby, a history professor at Eckerd College, saw an old newspaper article a few years ago about Babe Ruth being sued for a gambling debt. The result was his debut novel, 7,000 Clams, a hard-boiled thriller set in St. Petersburg in the 1920s. Irby's love of baseball and 7,000 Clams' local setting make for an entertaining read.

A critic's view: "In this impressive first novel, Irby keeps his story twisting and turning, and he writes in a sleek take on hard-boiled style that tips its fedora to masters like Chandler and Dashiell Hammett without overdoing the similes. And he handles the history lovingly but deftly, never letting it slow down the headlong pace." - St. Petersburg Times

If you like this book, try: Bandbox by Thomas Mallon

RONA JAFFE

Jaffe's first novel, The Best of Everything, was written in 1958 after she left her job as an editor at a New York publishing house. Reissued this year, it follows the adventures of five young employees of a publishing company. Almost 50 years later, The Best of Everything is a surprisingly relevant look at the personal and professional struggles women face.

A critic's view: "A classic of its kind. The dialogue is real, the people are real. [It has] the shock of authenticity." - Saturday Review

If you like this book, try: The Washingtonienne by Jessica Cutler

GREG JENKINS

Jenkins is the author of two books on ghosts and ghost hunting in the Sunshine State, Florida's Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore. Volume 1 covers South and Central Florida; Volume 2 covers the haunts of northern Florida and St. Augustine.

A critic's view: "More than simply spun tales of ghosts" - Kay Day, author

If you like this book, try: Haunt Hunter's Guide to Florida by Joyce Elson Moore

JEFF KLINKENBERG

Klinkenberg, a St. Petersburg Times staffer since 1977, writes about Florida culture. The Seasons of Real Florida is a collection of his columns about the state, organized into four season-linked groups. He explores towns and rivers, restaurants and roadside attractions, and talks to artists, writers and such inimitable residents as Loincloth Man, observing them all with a keen and affectionate eye.

A critic's view: "He writes about the kind of Florida characters we never even knew existed." - Sarasota Herald-Tribune

If you like this book, try: Dream State: Eight Generations of Swamp Lawyers, Conquistadors, Confederate Daughters, Banana Republicans, and Other Florida Wildlife by Diane Roberts

LEE KOCHENDERFER

The Victory Garden, Kochenderfer's first novel, is set in Kansas in 1943. The story is told from the point of view of Teresa, an 11-year-old doing her part for the war effort. When her neighbor, Mr. Burt, is injured in a tractor accident, she rallies her friends and classmates to help tend Burt's beloved victory garden.

A critic's view: "Told in a child's voice with lively dialogue and occasional letters, this novel offers a fresh picture of the home front." - School Library Journal

If you like this book, try: Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles

JIM LEHRER

The latest novel by the longtime newsman and anchor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS is The Franklin Affair, a historical mystery about plagiarism and political intrigue. A young historian finds some shocking information about Benjamin Franklin that could shred the tapestry of America's past and forces readers to wonder whether anyone can really know the truth about history.

A critic's view: "Lehrer has captured a surprisingly fascinating subculture: professional historians who are fans. His Franklin followers, a.k.a. "the Ben Crowd,' are like Trekkies, living among piles of memorabilia and Franklin-emblazoned tchotchkes."- Washington Post Book World

If you like this book, try: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

KATE LEHRER

Can women really have it all? And if they can, what do they do with it when they get it? In Confessions of a Bigamist, Lehrer goes with the idea that one woman can have it all; it just takes several different personas and husbands to achieve it.

A critic's view: "Though the friendly, chatty narrator takes readers into her confidence with breezy ease, Lehrer's blithe answer to the novel's underlying question - is it really possible for a woman to have it all? - may strike many as unrealistic." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: No Ordinary Matter by Jenny McPhee

BOBBIE ANN MASON

An Atomic Romance, Mason's first novel in 12 years, is set against the backdrop of a nuclear power plant. Its main character is Reed Futrell, a sexy, thoughtful hero who grapples with radioactive contamination, a midlife crisis and string theory, all while falling in love.

A critic's view: "When both the plant's crisis and the romance come to a head, Mason packs a punch with a light touch, commenting on the missteps of the past and how we have to live with them." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet

ROBERT W. MERRY

In his new book, Sands of Empire: Missionary Zeal, American Foreign Policy, and the Hazards of Global Ambition, Merry, president and publisher of Congressional Quarterly and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, scrutinizes American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War and offers an in-depth look at George W. Bush's current policy and the dangers of global ambition.

A critic's view: "Could the U.S. go the way of Rome, overextending itself to the point of self-destruction? A thoughtful look at history and current geopolitics." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced By War by Andrew Bacevich

GARY MORMINO

Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida represents the culmination of two decades of research. Mormino takes an in-depth look at the last 60 years of Florida's development and how so many factors - developers, tourists, retirees, agriculture - have changed our state so drastically, shaping it into what we see today, for better or worse.

A critic's view: "Explores the daring, heroic, complex, ever-changing, sometimes humdrum, sometimes crooked people and events that created today's [Florida]." - South Florida Sun-Sentinel

If you like this book, try: Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando by Richard Foglesong

DAVID OSHINSKY

In Polio: An American Story, historian Oshinsky gives an account of the surprisingly nasty race by scientists to create a vaccine for polio. The two key figures are Jonas Salk, a proponent of a killed-virus vaccine, and Albert Sabin, who championed the live-virus vaccine.

A critic's view: "As revered as these men are in popular culture, Oshinsky records their contemporaries' less complimentary opinions. Oshinsky looks at social context, too, such as the impact of the March of Dimes campaign on public consciousness and fear of polio." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry

KITTY AND JENNIFER O'NEILL

Encouraging you to let your imagination be your guide, sisters Kitty and Jennifer O'Neill insist, in Decorating with Funky Shui: How to Lighten Up, Loosen Up, and Have Fun Decorating Your Home, that your rooms should reflect what you are all about - not what a retail store tells you they should be about.

A critic's view: "Some of the tips are too time-consuming for everyday life, and those who can't stomach the cutesy bits won't want to follow the advice to the letter. But the sisters have included plenty of good ideas for imbuing a home (and therefore, they affirm, the life of its residents) with happiness - without spending a fortune." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: Nesting: It's a Chick Thing by Ame Mahler Beanland and Emily Miles Terry

BARBARA PARKER

Miami writer Parker is best known for her "Suspicion" series, the newest of which is Suspicion of Rage, featuring Miami lawyers Gail Connor and Anthony Quintana. In this installment, the two marry and head for Cuba, Quintana's homeland, to honeymoon, only to be drawn into the investigation of an assassination plot.

A critic's view: "This series has been around for a while, but it hasn't yet reached the point where the characters feel too familiar or its plots have drifted into formula. The interpersonal dynamics between Connor and Quintana remain sharp, and the Florida setting continues to add to the appeal." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: Adios, Hemingway by Leonardo Padura Fuentes

JOHN PIVAR AND MARK HEIMANN

Executive chef John Pivar of St. Petersburg's Renaissance Vinoy Resort launched his first cookbook, Taste the Vinoy: Without Reservations, in 2004. Pivar and Heimann, the No. 2 chef at the Vinoy, have a new book, Fire It Up: Grill With Flavor, Flair and Fun. It features 150 recipes and a color photo on every page.

A critic's view: "Do we need another cookbook on outside grilling? Yes, when it fires up the fun and imagination." - St. Petersburg Times

If you like this book, try: Bobby Flay's Grilling For Life by Bobby Flay

QUANG X. PHAM

In his debut book, A Sense of Duty: My Father, My American Journey, Pham recounts the difficulties of emigrating to the United States from Vietnam as a child in 1975. His father, a South Vietnamese Air Force pilot, was held captive for a decade by the Communist government. Pham writes about his father's sacrifices and his own service in the U.S. Marine Corps.

A critic's view: "Sense of Duty is a poignant story of two distant wars . . but ultimately it is a son's tribute to his father and a way of saying "thank you' to all in his father's generation who served honorably to defend freedom and whose story has yet to be told." - Larry Berman, author If you like this book, try: We Should Never Meet: Stories by Aimee Phan

DAVID POYER

Author of 25 sea novels, Poyer extends his Civil War at sea saga with this third installment, That Anvil of Our Souls: A Novel of the Merrimack and the Monitor. The 1862 battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack heralded the age of steam-powered iron warships. Poyer intersperses historical and fictional characters to recreate the era, presenting the story of the building of both ships and their historic confrontation.

A critic's view: "This is an exciting work of historical fiction that will appeal to general readers as well as Civil War buffs." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: Thieves of Mercy by James L. Nelson

KIT REED

Reed's new short story collection, Dogs of Truth: New and Uncollected Stories, demonstrates her command of science fiction and fantasy as vehicles for satire. Just as her novel Thinner Than Thou skewered evangelistic religion and the diet industry, these stories offer sly insight into such phenomena as consumer culture, contemporary parenting and modern love.

A critic's view: "A few of these tales are even, in their own twisted way, love stories. . . . But that's a warm spot in a mostly chilly landscape. Reed's humor is as sharp and cool as the edge of an icicle. These Dogs of Truth have bite." - St. Petersburg Times

If you like this book, try: Already Dead by Charlie Huston

MIM EICHLER RIVAS

Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of a Horse and a Man Who Changed the World is about an amazing colt born in 1897. Beautiful Jim Key was a celebrity known to have the intelligence of a sixth-grader, stunning fairgoers with apparent feats of mathematics, reading and writing. In this nonfiction saga, Jim's story is told with that of his trainer, Dr. William Key, a onetime slave and Civil War veteran who went on to become a wealthy inventor, self-taught veterinarian and prominent African-American entrepreneur.

A critic's view: "Rivas shows how the intimate bond between horse and man prompted hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren to pledge "always to be kind to animals' and propelled the growth of animal-rights and anti-cruelty groups." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior by Temple Grandin

VICTOR RIVAS RIVERS

Rivers, an actor and spokesman for the National Network to End Domestic Violence, reconstructs his hellish childhood in an abusive home to raise awareness about what he considers our greatest yet most curable social disease. His memoir, A Private Family Matter, is a testament to humanity, courage and love.

A critic's view: "He tells this inspiring story of emergence from isolation and despair into love and community with passion, optimism and tenderness." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

DAVID ROTHKOPF

In Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power, Rothkopf, an academic and Clinton administration commerce official, examines the history of the NSC from its beginnings in 1947 to the present.

A critic's view: "A timely and important new book." - New York Times

If you like this book, try: The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course by Richard N. Haass

CHRISTOPHER SCANLAN AND KATHARINE FAIR

Scanlan, a faculty member at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, and Fair, a freelance writer and advertising copywriter, have written The Holly Wreath Man, about the lost craft of handmade Christmas wreaths. After separating from his wife and seeing his children run away, an overworked businessman finds himself back on the holly farm where he spent his childhood. First published as a serial novel in 45 newspapers, The Holly Wreath Man is now in hardback.

A critic's view: "Beyond the compelling tale the pair weaves, the superior writing soothes the soul." - Tamara O'Shaughnessy, Times of Northwest Indiana

If you like this book, try: A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

JAMES SHEEHAN

In his debut novel, The Mayor of Lexington Avenue, St. Petersburg resident Sheehan, a trial lawyer, tells a story of a mentally disabled young man who is sentenced to death after he is arrested by a corrupt Florida police department for a murder he didn't commit. Ten years later, a high-powered New York lawyer is the only who can prove the young man's innocence.

A critic's view: "This is a terrific novel, a genuine literary achievement, and it's just the kind of book - unknown author, small publisher - that will make readers' advisers look terrific when they put it in the hands of legal-thriller fans searching for something new." - Booklist

If you like this book, try: Blood of Angels by Reed Arvin

GREG SMITH

Born with muscular dystrophy, Smith has turned his physical challenges into his greatest strengths and has given inspiration to millions through On A Roll: Talk Radio on Life and Disability, a nationally syndicated show that he created and hosts from his power wheelchair. His memoir, On a Roll: Reflections From America's Wheelchair Dude With the Winning Attitude, is Smith's story of one African-American man's quest for independence, love and success.

A critic's view: "Greg Smith's story tells the truth about a person who can look in the mirror and say he did his personal best." - John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach

If you like this book, try: No Excuses: The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life by Kyle Maynard

ZILPHA KEATLEY SNYDER

Snyder has won three Newbery Honors and other awards for her novels, including those starring the Stanley children. In The Unseen, they are embroiled in the occult when they meet their new stepsister, Amanda, an aspiring witch. The Unseen is recommended as a Sunshine State Young Readers book for the 2005-06 school year.

A critic's view: "Exuberant and original." - Publishers Weekly

If you like this book, try: How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by Sara Nickerson

R.L. STINE

Robert Lawrence Stine's scary stories have made him one of the bestselling children's authors in history. Mostly Ghostly is one of his newest series for young readers. It chronicles the eerily hilarious escapades of Max Doyle, an ordinary kid who just happens to have two ghosts living in his bedroom.

A critic's view: (From a review of Who Let the Ghosts Out?) "The book holds onto the reader's interest by switching from the ghosts' experiences to Max's every few chapters and with cliffhanger endings at the end of each chapter. These features make the book hard to put down!" - KidsDomain.com

If you like this book, try: The Ghost Sitter by Peni R. Griffin

THOMAS SWICK

Swick, travel editor for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, serves up a collection of travel stories in A Way to See the World: From Texas to Transylvania with a Maverick Traveler. He likes to meet and talk with the locals, letting those who live in places he visits have a voice.

A critic's view: "All you have to do to follow his footsteps is turn the page, and you'll see the world in a new way." - Newsday

If you like this book, try: The Traveling Curmudgeon: Irreverent Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes on Dismal Destinations, Excess Baggage, the Full Upright Position, and Other Reasons Not to Go There by Jon Winokur

JOSEPH B. TREASTER

Award-winning New York Times reporter Treaster's Paul Volcker: The Making of a Financial Legend captures the significant moments in Volcker's life and explores the ethical, economic and moral dilemmas he faced as a business leader and as chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1982.

A critic's view: "Treaster's depiction of Volcker's honesty and resilience highlights some attributes that American policymakers should keep in mind as the Greenspan era draws to a close." - New York Times Book Review

If you like this book, try: A Term at the Fed: An Insider's View by Laurence H. Meyer

VIVIAN VANDE VELDE

Vande Velde is the author of more than two dozen books, mostly science fiction and fantasy, primarily for middle school students and teens. Her latest novel, the futuristic adventure Heir Apparent, is on the 2005-06 Sunshine State Readers list.

A critic's view: "The evocative details, plausible technology, and Giannine's sharp-witted narration will completely immerse readers in Giannine's world as she makes life-threatening decisions and evades danger." - School Library Journal

If you like this book, try: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

[Last modified October 26, 2005, 11:18:14]


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