Monday, August 29, 2011

Coen to speak in Thibodaux

I (your Louisiana Book News host Cheré Coen) will be giving a talk about Cajun Country, in connection with my travel guidebook, “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana,” at noon Tuesday to the Rotary Club of Thibodaux at Envie restaurant, 203 N. Canal St in Thibodaux, followed by a 1:30 p.m. signing at Cherry Books, 1050 Canal St. in Thibodaux.

Heartla luncheon
            New York Times bestselling author and New Orleans native Sabrina Jeffries, with more than 5 million books in print, will be the guest speaker at the Heart of Louisiana's Annual Romance Readers Luncheon Saturday, Nov. 5, in Baton Rouge.
            The event will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Juban’s Restaurant, 3739 Perkin Road, and will feature book signings in addition to Jeffries’ talk and lunch.
            Tickets to the “Fall in Love With Romance” luncheon are $40 and available through

Obama’s choice
            While Pres. Obama was on vacation, he purchased some books for he and his family to enjoy. Among them was “The Bayou Trilogy,” a trio of crime novellas by Daniel Woodrell that’s set in fictional St. Bruno Parish of Louisiana and features Detective Rene Shade, a part-French, part-Irish ex-boxer turned cop.

There’s an App
       Shreveport’s William Joyce, known for his charming children’s books and Disney movies, has added another interesting talent to his resume. Joyce’s short animated film, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” created by Moonbot Studios of Shreveport, debuted at Lafayette’s Cinema on the Bayou film festival last January. The ebook version of “Lessmore” was later released as an iPad app and has sold more than 55,000 copies so far, making “Lessmore” the first ebook app to hit number one on the iTunes store.

Back to school
            Literary lovers — and let’s hope our kids are — will get a kick out of the new sneakers and iPhone cases that pay tribute to great literature. There’s fleur de lis-inspired sneakers for “The Three Muskateers,” romantic designs for “Romeo and Juliet” and a farm yard for “Animal Farm,” among many more. Styles can be found at

Folktales series
The Vermilion Parish Library Abbeville branch will host a six-week series of readings and discussions titled “Folktales and Stories of the South and Louisiana.” The program is free and open to the public and will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Thursdays, Sept. 15 through Oct. 20.
“Folktales and Stories” will be conducted by Denise Rogers of UL’s Department of English. The six sessions will cover creation myth traditions; tricksters: animal and human; heroes and outlaws; why the world is; ghosts and magic in the South; and tales about people in the South. Texts to be used include “Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana” edited by Carl Lindahl, Maida Owens and C. Renée Harvison; “Favorite Folktales from Around the World” by Jane Yolen; “Cajun Folktales” by J. J. Reneaux; and John Burrison’s “Storytellers: Folktales and Legends from the South.”
Pre-registration is strongly encouraged because of the limited number of books and expected public response. To register, call (337) 893-2674 or stop by the Abbeville Library.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New university press releases

Kentucky geography professor David Zurick spent a decade journeying throughout the South searching for elements that defined the region.
“Southern Crossings” Where Geography and Photography Meets,” a combination of Zurick’s photographs and commentary, has been published by the Center for American Places at Columbia College in Chicago, published by the Center Books on the American South, University of Georgia Press.
Zurick explores the Crossroads in Mississippi, crabbing in Creole below Lake Charles, an antebellum porch in Georgia, civil rights in Alabama, the tidal marshes of South Carolina and much more. What he found in his decades of research was there are many elements to the region and not just the geographically defined Upland and Lowland South or the cultures of Old South and New South.
“I knew that such a sojourn is a highly personal endeavor, and I had no intention of ‘capturing’ the South in a definitive way, as if its explanation could be universal,” he writes. “As a result, the photographs and their associated vignettes offer no overarching evidence, either individually or in their collection, for a single understanding. Like any region, the Southern landscape transcends labels and categories precisely because it is ever-changing each time a person chooses to cross it.”
The book’s cover features a mechanical Cajun robot who explains the ecology of the wetlands in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in Cameron Parish.
‘Last Barriers’
            From the University of Mississippi Press comes a gorgeous coffee table book that also showcases a man’s lifetime of documenting pristine wilderness in the hopes of its protection.
            “Last Barriers: Photographs from the Gulf Islands National Seashore” is a collection of 120 images taken by Donald Bradburn of New Orleans, who spent years capturing on film the Mississippi Gulf Coast barrier islands, particularly the expansive Horn Island. Bradburn was introduced to the beauty of these islands when he was taken there in his youth by an uncle to fish. When he heard that plans were in progress to open the islands as parks within the National Park Service, Bradburn made it his life’s goal to see them protected.
            Today, the islands remain part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
            In 1971, Bradburn won the inaugural Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography from the Sierra Club and the book showcases these beautiful photos of wildlife, dunes, trees, weather changes and Gulf waters. It’s a gorgeous book of a transient coastline that should be in every Gulf Coast lover’s library.
            Other university press releases include:
            The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press has published Jason Berry’s play in two acts, “Earl Long in Purgatory,” which includes Barry’s essay “The Madness of Earl Long;”
            “Talking About Movies with Jesus,” poems by David Kirby;
            “No More Heroes: Narrative Perspective and Morality in Cormac McCarthy” by Lydia R. Cooper;
            “Albert Taylor Bledsoe: Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause” by Terry A. Barnhart;
            “Halls of Honor: College Men in the Old South” by Robert F. Pace;
            “The Louisiana Populist Movement, 1881-1900” by Donna A. Barnes, a case study of how a widespread movement failed to take hold in Louisiana, looking at factors that impede social growth; and
“Political Communication: The Manship Guide,” a revised and expanded version that takes in the effects of social media in the political process, edited by Robert Mann, the Manship Chair professor at LSU, and David D. Perlmutter, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Katrina story heartfelt

Like many children’s book authors and illustrators, author Myron Uhlberg and artist Colin Bootman had worked on a book together — “Dad, Jackie and Me” — but never met. Their first face-to-face meeting occurred at the 2006 American Library Association convention in New Orleans.
            Like many of the librarians attending the first conference to happen in the city after Hurricane Katrina, they visited the city’s devastated areas and were moved to action. The two teamed up once more for “A Storm Called Katrina.”
            The children’s board book follows a young boy named Louis Daniel who wants to play trumpet like his namesake, Louis Armstrong. His family rides out Hurricane Katrina in the neighborhood of Gentilly, only to have their house inundated with water. Louis, his mother and father flee with Louis grabbing his horn. They make it to the Superdome after a harrowing journey through floodwaters.
            Once at the Superdome, Louis’s father attempts to locate food and water but Louis and his mother must change seats and Louis fears they will be separated. While sunlight pours down from a hole in the Superdome ceiling, Louis plays his trumpet in the hopes his father will hear. Once the family is reunited, they return home, bringing a new family member — a lost dog — home in the process.
            More than just another book on the storm and its aftermaths, the book offers the innocent point of view of a child, reflecting how the storm deeply affected children and their families. Publisher’s Weekly called “A Storm Called Katrina” a “deeply personal…look at a disaster whose ramifications are still being felt.”
            Portions of the proceeds from the book’s sales will be donated to the Norman Mayer Library in Gentilly.
            The idea for when young Louis plays his trumpet in the Superdome was taken from a photo by Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana) photographer John Rowland. Rowland had captured a child playing on the Superdome field in the aftermath of Katrina.

DeWitt & 'City of Dead' launches series

Claire DeWitt, who calls herself the “world’s greatest PI,” is reluctant to return to New Orleans. There’s history there, but DeWitt has a foretelling dream and agrees to take on the case of a New Orleans District Attorney, missing since the first week after Hurricane Katrina.
            DeWitt is not your typical private investigator. She’s covered in tattoos, haunted by the disappearance of a teenage friend, a devoted follower of Jacques Silette whose mysterious book on detective work has changed her life and rocked by the murder of her mentor, Constance Darling. Claire also relies on dreams, signs, omens and unseen clues to point her in the right direction.
            And so “Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead” begins the new series by Sara Gran, with the unlikely heroine at the helm scouring the streets of New Orleans in January of 2007, when violence reigned and residents struggled to rebuild. The darkness permeating Claire’s psyche mirrors that of her environment, providing great fodder for an opening, and involves a varied set of characters, from damaged young foster kids and their struggle to survive to depressed police detectives.
In the shadows lies the mysteries of Claire’s teenage friend, never found, along with the strange disappearance of Silette’s daughter. Claire has also experience times of mental instability and is fond of drugs and alcohol, adding more to the book’s angst but leaving enough unsaid to keep us waiting for the next tale.
            It’s an intriguing mystery with two more books planned, although Claire’s visit to the Big Uneasy is relegated to the first book — at least for now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New ebooks, events this week

A Louisiana family is forced out of their home and must deal with inner turmoil in an increasingly segregated California city in “Le Midnight Roux” by Charles Jolivette, available for the Kindle through
The second installment of “The Medium and The Mortician,” this one known as “The Skull,” an Ebook by Allyson Schram and Jan Risher, is now available through online bookstores and at
Shane Hebert has published “Lord of Redemption,” a follow-up to “The Ballad of Corey Robichaux.” The book takes place in the Bayou Lafourche area of southeast Louisiana and is available through

Blog debuts
            I have unveiled a blog to correspond with my column, allowing for lengthier reviews, photos and information that comes to me via authors, booksellers and librarians on a constant basis. I will be giving away a copy of my latest book, “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana” to a person chosen randomly from the first 50 followers. Visit and join the conversation.

Casa Azul
            Megan Burns and Dave Brinks (shown right) will read from their work, followed by an open mic, at 7 p.m. Thursday at Casa Azul Gifts in Grand Coteau.
Both Megan Burns and Dave Brinks coordinate 17 Poets! Literary and Performance Series at the Gold Mine in New Orleans. Brinks is editor-in-chief of YAWP: A Journal of Poetry and Art, publisher of Trembling Pillow Press and founder of The New Orleans School for the Imagination. He is the author of six books. Burns is a poet, performer, essayist and editor of the poetry magazine Solid Quarter. She has published two chapbooks, “Frida Kahlo: I am the poem” and “Framing a Song.” This free, community event is appropriate for mature teens and adults. For more information, visit

Faulkner finalists
The Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society has posted the list of finalists, short lists, and semi-finalists in all categories for its 2011 William Faulkner - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition on the Society’s web site:

 The Faulkner Society offers cash prizes, gold medals and expense-paid trips to New Orleans for winners to receive their awards during the Society’s fall
festival, the 2011 Words & Music, a Literary Feast, Nov. 9-13 in New Orleans.
Winners will be posted on the web site on or about Sept. 1.

Book events
            Keith Spera will sign copies of “Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal and the Music of New Orleans” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books, and Amanda Eyre Ward will sign copies of “Close Your Eyes” at 6 p.m. Saturday at Maple Street Bookstore, both in New Orleans.
            Mystery Writers of America is hosting a full-day writing seminar Oct. 1 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. MWA-University is offered throughout the country for members, but is open to the public and applicable to all genres of fiction writing. Cost is $50 and includes instruction by published authors and college professors. For more information, visit

Subscribe to Shelf Awareness and enter to win a free book!

Monday, August 1, 2011

A world without Sookie?

Charlaine Harris, best-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse paranormal mysteries set in “Bon Temps,” Louisiana, has announced that there will be an end to the series.
Her novels featuring vampires, werewolves, fairies and a telepathic waitress — among other paranormal elements — is the basis of the popular HBO series “True Blood.”
In an interview with Canadian newspaper Maclean’s (Harris was recently in Toronto for a science fiction convention), Harris announced she would be concluding the series with book 13. Her latest, “Dead Reckoning,” was book 11, so two more are scheduled to be released, most likely in May 2012 and May 2013, which is Harris’ usual publication month.
Harris lives in Magnolia, Arkansas, just over the Louisiana line. She has also announced she will be a guest speaker at The Writer’s Colony on Oct. 1 in Eureka Springs, Ark.
To read the newspaper article, visit For information about her Eureka Springs event, visit
Also, on Tuesday, Charlaine Harris will publish “Home Improvement: Undead Edition” with Toni L.P. Kelner, a collection of paranormal short stories.
In other book news:
Michael T. Smith has published “The Enemy Within: Fears of Corruption in the Civil War North” with the University of Virginia Press. Smith’s book includes scandals involving Benjamin F. Butler in Louisiana and John C. Frémont’s administration in Missouri, among others. The assistant professor of history at McNeese is also the author of “A Traitor and a Scoundrel: Benjamin Hedrick and the Cost of Dissent” and “Letters from a North Carolina Unionist: John A. Hedrick to Benjamin S. Hedrick, 1862-1865.”
Carla Hostetter of New Iberia has sold two books to L&L Dreamspell. “Queen of the Mardi Gras Ball” historical romance is set for a January 2012 release and the mystery romance “Mardi Gras Madness” will be published in the fall of 2012.