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    Ex libris Florida

    By SAMANTHA PUCKETT

    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 17, 2000


    FLIGHT OF HOPE: Two men -- a flight instructor and his student -- without much in common except two stationary lives, embark on an "unstructured adventure" in a single-engine aircraft in Sky Warriors, by former St. Petersburg resident Steve Liddick. When they land near several Indian reservations in South Dakota, they learn how relatively insignificant their problems are and gain a much needed change of attitude. Liddick, who was the morning DJ at WDAE in Tampa in the '60s, sees his story as a "large helping of Hope for everyone who ever believed their lives were stagnant and would never improve." Sky Warriors is available in paperback ($10.95) or electronically ($3.95) from www.1stbooks.com and at major bookstores.

    TEACHING WITH HARRY POTTER: Beacham's Sourcebooks for Teaching Young Adult Fiction: Exploring Harry Potter by Elizabeth D. Schafer (Beacham Publishing, $24.95) is the first comprehensive sourcebook to the Harry Potter series. Available at bookstores or at www.beachampublishing.com, it's already a bestseller with 600,000 copies on advance order. Though Exploring Harry Potter is not approved by J.K. Rowling, it's purpose is to help readers understand the themes and characters of her series, as well as teach kids about science, language and history. It includes lots of other neat stuff, too: like a timeline relating situations in the Harry Potter books to real historical events, and recommendations for further reading. Beacham Publishing, in Osprey, Fla., has future plans for sourcebooks on C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and the L. Frank Baum Wizard of Oz books.

    IN THE SPIRIT OF HEMINGWAY:The Drinking of Spirits (Livingston Press, $11 paperback, $24 cloth), a collection of short stories, echoes Hemingway in style and subject matter. Author Tom Abrams, who teaches at the University of South Florida, combines surreal dreamscape settings with terse prose and adds a hint of magical realism. The result is metaphor-laden stories that are nothing short of poetic. With detached narration, Abrams' writing permits the reader to enter the scene, suss it out and tag along. The Drinking of Spirits is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

    LIVING AND LEARNING IN EGYPT:Forty-seven years ago, Mildred Davis Harding and her husband, John, were offered teaching jobs at the American University in Cairo, so the couple packed up their two small children and left. Waking Up in Egypt: A Memoir (CasAnanda Publishing, $14.95), by Harding, who now lives in Gulfport, is "simply a reminiscence" that she hopes will shed some light on the Middle East, an "important part of the world" which most Americans know little about. With an exceedingly readable style, Harding shares the reasons she is still nostalgic for Egypt after all this time, despite the "darkness, sadness, danger and ugliness" that were a part of their daily lives there. Waking Up in Egypt is a wonderful memoir, and mercifully short. Be prepared to book your flight. Copies are available at local bookstores and through the author directly. E-mail Harding at Mildredhpearl@hotmail.com.

    A NURSE TURNED SLEUTH:Seminole resident M.L. Holle is an avid mystery reader and discovered that in medical mysteries, doctors are often featured as amateur sleuths, but nurses rarely are. With help from her experience as a registered nurse, Holle wrote her first work of fiction,Conundrum (Dorrance Publishing, $10). In it, Dr. Nelle Toussaint finds an old woman dead in the hospital chapel; no one knows who she is. But when old photos of the doctor are found in the dead woman's purse, accusations ensue. It's up to her good friend, head nurse Amber Brooks, to become the sleuth and clear Toussaint's name. Conundrum can by ordered by calling (800) 788-7654 or at amazon.com.

    Samantha Puckett is a Times staff writer.

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