America is Not the Heart

Hey, hey - I'm currently reading a novel called America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo. An excerpt from this book was posted by the folks at Literary Hub Daily and you can read it by clicking here.

"What does she think she looks like" by Rosemary Hill

From the London Review of Books, an interesting essay by Rosemary Hill about women and clothes, with plenty of literary references.

  Classic styling.

Book Awards - ALA Carnegie Medals

One of the useful things about book awards is that they serve as a reminder to dig into your stack of to-be-read books. The authors of two books in my stack were recently awarded the American Library Association (ALA) Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction: Jennifer Egan for Manhattan Beach (fiction) and Sherman Alexie for You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (nonfiction). I'm looking forward to reading both of these books.

Egan previously won a Pulitzer Prize for A Visit from the Goon Squad. Alexie has won many awards, including the National Book Award for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. That book was also the most challenged book of 2014 according to the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom, which annually compiles a list of books that people attempt to ban from schools, libraries and our communities. Making the ALA's banned book list is a resounding recommendation for a book, in my opinion. I read and greatly enjoyed The Absolutely T…


After looking over the finalists for the 2018 Minnesota Book Awards, I plan to dip into Alice in France: The World War I Letters of Alice M. O’Brien by Nancy O’Brien Wagner. My dad's stepfather, Carl Waack, served in France during World War I. It must have been quite a shock for him to go from rural Wisconsin to fighting in the fields of France. He was nothing like Alice O'Brien, who was the daughter of a wealthy family. I never asked Carl about his military service -  my childhood memory of him is of someone who was very old and who didn't feel well - so it will be interesting to read about Ms. O'Brien.

St. Valentine's Day: Add a Children's Book to that Chocolate Heart

If you are planning to give something sweet to a special child next week, why not add a book to your gift? Check out these five children's books recently recommended by the amazing Maria Popova at

Big Wolf & Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme and illustrator Olivier Tallec

The Paper-Flower Tree by Jacqueline Ayer

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

The Blue Songbird by Vern Kousky

What's Your Weekend Read?

Celine, by Peter Heller, has been in my to-be-read pile for a while now. Heller is the author of one of my all time favorite books, The Dog Stars (review here). Because I found The Dog Stars to be so amazing, I've set aside Celine to let the anticipation grow. But now the time to read it has come at last - hooray!

Also, did I mention how much I enjoyed The Dog Stars? Check it out if you need a weekend read.

Recommended Reading: Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Fierce Kingdom, by Gin Phillips, considers a contemporary American problem: You are enjoying a lovely time somewhere when suddenly there is an active shooter on the scene. What to do?

Just what to do becomes the urgent question for the novel's protagonist, Joan, who is at a zoo late one afternoon with her four-year-old son, Lincoln. They often go to the zoo and are hanging out in a favorite area in the back of the park, in the woods. It's October and the zoo is decorated with Jack-o'-lanterns and scarecrows. So when Joan hears cracking sounds, pops like fireworks, she dismisses it as something related to Halloween. Yet it is 5:30 p.m. and closing time is approaching, so Joan and Lincoln start walking towards the exit.

A long row of scarecrows has been propped along the fence that circles the pond. many of them have pumpkins for heads, and Lincoln is fascinated by them. He loves the Superman one and the astronaut one - with the pumpkin painted like a white space helmet-and e…