Thursday, February 17, 2011
The UCF Orlando Book Festival is drawing ever closer, and today I’ve decided to shine a light on just a few of the books that will be featured. The event will be a great opportunity for readers and writers alike to share their enthusiasm for the book and publishing worlds, and in addition to the wonderful books and authors that are being showcased, the festival also promises to include panels and discussions on a range of topics. So here for your consideration are a handfull of the books that will be featured at this great event. If you happen to be in the area during the weekend of April 16th, be sure to stop by and have a look at all that UCF is doing to promote books and reading in this, it’s second annual Book Festival!
The Mailbox, by Marybeth Whalen
Nonfiction author Whalen pens her first novel, centered on an actual landmark mailbox in Sunset Beach, N.C. Over a span of some 20 years, Lindsey Adams makes summer visits to the Kindred Spirit mailbox and deposits an annual update on her life. When her husband divorces her, Lindsey makes the trek again and meets up with long-lost love Campbell Forrester, whose own marriage dissolved years earlier. Unsure they can rekindle their youthful love, both Lindsey and Campbell struggle to make the leap from teenage infatuation to a lasting adult commitment. Whalen's use of a mailbox as the tie between people, memories and romantic love is intriguing, and she makes it work more effectively than a reader might expect.
Note: I read and reviewed this book very recently, and you can find my review here. It was a beautiful read with exceptional characters that really made an impression on me, and I am looking forward to Whalen’s next offering.
Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
In her debut, Perkins-Valdez eloquently plunges into a dark period of American history, chronicling the lives of four slave women—Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu—who are their masters' mistresses. The women meet when their owners vacation at the same summer resort in Ohio. There, they see free blacks for the first time and hear rumors of abolition, sparking their own desires to be free. For everyone but Lizzie, that is, who believes she is really in love with her master and he with her. An extended flashback in the middle of the novel delves into Lizzie's life and vividly explores the complicated psychological dynamic between master and slave. Jumping back to the final summer in Ohio, the women all have a decision to make—will they run? Heart-wrenching, intriguing, original and suspenseful, this novel showcases Perkins-Valdez's ability to bring the unfortunate past to life.
Note: I also reviewed this book, and you can find my review here. I was stunned by the impact that Perkins-Valdez was able to provoke within the complex confines of her story. A greatly moving read.
The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove, by Susan Gregg Gilmore
Bezellia Grove, who is one of a long line of Bezellia Groves in one of Nashville’s oldest families, dreams of someday living up to the name that looms so large in her heritage. But her family is not as stable as everyone thinks. Her mother is strict and proper, when not drinking, and her father is never home, preferring to work long hours. Bezellia and her younger sister are raised by the household servants, Nathaniel and Maizelle, who are more like parents to them than their real ones. When Nathaniel’s smart, good-looking son Samuel appears, Bezellia is completely smitten. But the South in the 1960s is not a welcoming place for Samuel, especially when he falls in love with a white woman. Bezellia must decide whether it’s her heart or her heritage that is most important. Gilmore’s second novel (after Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, 2008) is a highly emotional story that vividly evokes a sense of place, the 1960s era, and the heady feelings of first love.
Note: I will be reviewing this book in the upcoming weeks.
The Season of Risks: An Ethical Vampire Novel, by Susan Hubbard
Aglow with the promise of her budding friendship with third-party presidential candidate (and closet vampire) Neil Cameron, Ari Montero returns to school frustrated, like most teenagers, that she’s just not old enough—darn it!—to be accepted in grown-up circles. But Ari isn’t like most teenagers. Half human, half vampire, she is destined to remain at the same tender age at which she crossed over. Her desire to achieve instant adulthood leads her to the Miami clinic run by a vampire notorious for his delusions of world domination. There she is injected with a serum that instantly takes her from 15 to 22. But just as Cameron is about to clinch the presidential nomination, Ari’s true age is mysteriously leaked to the press and the ensuing scandal sends Cameron’s campaign crashing in flames—just like the jet carrying Ari to Ireland to visit her parents. Artfully handling the conundrum of age versus maturity, Hubbard continues to provide substance as well as thrills in her thought-provoking series.
The Poisoner’s Handbook, by Deborah Blum
Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist Blum (Ghost Hunters) makes chemistry come alive in her enthralling account of two forensic pioneers in early 20th-century New York. Blum follows the often unglamorous but monumentally important careers of Dr. Charles Norris, Manhattan's first trained chief medical examiner, and Alexander Gettler, its first toxicologist. Moving chronologically from Norris's appointment in 1918 through his death in 1936, Blum cleverly divides her narrative by poison, providing not only a puzzling case for each noxious substance but the ingenious methods devised by the medical examiner's office to detect them. Before the advent of forensic toxicology, which made it possible for the first time to identify poisons in corpses, Gettler learned the telltale signs of everything from cyanide (it leaves a corrosive trail in the digestive system) to the bright pink flush that signals carbon monoxide poisoning. In a particularly illuminating section, Blum examines the dangers of bootleg liquor (commonly known as wood, or methyl, alcohol) produced during Prohibition. With the pacing and rich characterization of a first-rate suspense novelist, Blum makes science accessible and fascinating.
Posted by Zibilee at 8:00 AM