OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “CLOSE,” BY ERIKA RASKIN, “RELATIVE STRANGERS,” BY MARGARET HERMES AND “MOMMY WRITINGS: MOMMY, DO YOU WANT A SANDWICH?” BY SUZANNE McMILLEN-FALLON, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST.
UPCOMING, JAN. 19-25
This week’s books are all about warm — in the case of Kelvin Christopher James’ “People and Peppers,” very warm. We also offer two very different novels revolving around southern families– Talya Tate Boerner’s “The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee” (Arkansas) and Mary Howard Wright’s “Threads” (a historical novel set in Southwest Virginia). Read them, and dream of spring.
“PEOPLE AND PEPPERS,” BY KELVIN CHRISTOPHER JAMES.
Our very first featured book last May was Brian Simpson’s “Island Dogs,” about a rollicking bar on the Caribbean island of Antogia. Now we’ve come full circle with Kelvin’s spicy Trinidad romance in which the world’s hottest pepper is one of the central characters.
Writes Kelvin, who is working on a string of well-received novels set in his native Caribbean: “Gossipy, intimate, and provocative,set in Trinidad and New York City, People and Peppers gives a diverting peek into the nuances of a Caribbean island’s callaloo of inter-racial and multicultural social mores. James’s main characters are complex, motivated, and fun to know. Tall and handsome, the main protagonist, Vivion K Pinheiro, is the bastard of a half-Portuguese, half Afro-Haitian woman, and an attractive New Yorker with carrot-colored hair who danced beautifully. Accomplished as well, Vivion has earned national prestige as a scholar and athlete. As a young man trying to realize dreams, he can be selfish yet thoughtful, deceptive yet generous—no real villain, just a callow fella getting over by pulling the tricky strings of privilege and personal charm.
“Read it for the pleasure of its lilting voice, the use of language. Learn about a different culture and its mores without spending on a plane ticket. Become acquainted with fun characters with attitudes and strengths and failings and quirks just like people you already know. This story is fit for all audiences.”
“THE ACCIDENTAL SALVATION OF GRACIE LEE,” BY TALYA TATE BOERNER.
The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee is southern fiction set in the Mississippi River delta region of Arkansas in the 1970s. The protagonist, ten-year-old Gracie Lee Eudora Abbott, is the daughter of a hardworking cotton farmer who, in Gracie’s words, drinks too much beer, is mean as the devil himself, and is probably going to Hell. Mature and perceptive beyond her years, Gracie is unwilling to be seen and not heard. Her mind is crammed packed with questions—simple questions about day-to-day things and bottomless thoughts like why she was born to Lee and Anne Abbott instead of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. As Gracie tries to understand and save the world around her, she often lands in trouble, even in a place where nothing exciting ever happens. Themes of Accidental Salvation include coming of age, loss of innocence, man versus nature, family struggles, end of life issues, isolation, and salvation. There is humor too. Regular, real-life, laugh-out-loud humor.
“THREADS,” BY MARY HOWARD WRIGHT.
Adventure and necessity calls to Fletcher Broce. He heeds and leaves his familiar homeland, Germany, to go to Virginia to work in the coal mines. A farmer by trade, he has much to learn. He leaves behind his beautiful bride, Rachel and their two young sons, his parents and a brother and sister-in-law. He hopes to earn enough to bring his wife and children to America. He realizes this move might mean he’ll never see his mother, father and brother again. He goes with everyone’s blessing. Fletcher manages to secure a job on a merchant ship to earn his passage. He longs to be reunited with his family. The few letters to and from his homeland keep him going. Finally, the big day comes when he is able to return to Ellis Island to welcome his family to the beautiful New River Valley that has stolen his heart. What should have been a wonderful reunion turns tragic when he learns of his wife’s dark journey to America.
NEWS AND NOTES
Katya Mills, whose novel “Girl Without Borders” was featured on Nov. 17, has developed a very proactive way of publicizing her work. On her blog, “K Is Silent,” she regularly does on-line video readings in a unique style.
And this from Charlotte Rees, author of “Did Ancient Chinese Explore America?” (July 7): “Did I tell you that a high school US history textbook is coming out in 2016 that shows my father’s map and mentions his research and mine? Yes!”