Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mardi Gras Guide — Don't leave home without it

Arthur Hardy's 36th annual Mardi Gras Guide has hit newsstands, bookstores, grocery stores, drug stores and the like so it's time to start planning your Carnival activities!
Full of parade routes, history, photos, features and what's new on the scene, this guide is a must-have for Carnival lovers heading to the New Orleans area. It's also the perfect guide to Carnival for those who know nothing of the "Greatest Free Show on Earth." Answers to all questions related to Carnival and Mardi Gras can be had between these slick magazine-style pages. Don't be caught on St. Charles Avenue without it.
Visit http://mardigrasguide.com/ for more information.

Cheré Coen is the author of "Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana" and co-author of "Magic's in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets." She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette's Continuing Education. Write her at chere@louisianabooknews.com.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Books help us focus on and boost new year's resolutions

I thought to write about books to ring in the New Year last Sunday, but my column was due almost a week ahead and I was still enjoying all the wonderful holiday treats hanging around my home. Not to mention the parties, the bowl games and champagne.
But now that the New Year is here and I'm in diet/resolution mode, I'm ready to share my collection of, shall we say, new thinking books, the ones we hope will shape us up physically and mentally.
Let's start with a master. The Dalai Lama continues his dialogue with scientists and experts with the Mind and Life Institute in a new book examining the attributes of meditation, "The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation," edited by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson with Zara Houshmand. For those who want to try meditation, or for those who use it and wonder if there is a scientific reason for its benefits, this book offers great insight. In addition to scientists, professors and the Dalai Lama, Father Thomas Keating offers his Christian views as well.
Julia Cameron, best-selling author of "The Artist's Way," returns with a focus on prosperity and a 12-week strategy to change views of money in "The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of 'Enough'." This book should be embraced universally but it's especially pertinent to creative souls who constantly wonder how to pay the mortgage. And if you're wondering how this applies to "new thinking," Cameron says it best: "The prosperous heart recognizes that prosperity is a spiritual bottom line, not a fiscal one. Our faith, not our cash flow, is what brings to our lives comfort and ease."
For more practical advice on being successful, Cookie Tuminello of Lafayette shows women how to be more confident, examine what's not working in one's life, communicate better, develop better relationships and more in "Climbing the Ladder of Success in High Heels Without Stepping on Your Values." Tuminello is the CEO of Success Source, a coaching and consulting firm, and works as a motivational speaker, so you know you'll feel more confident after reading this book.
For those who find themselves holding a pink slip, "What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!" explores finding inner strength, making priorities and moving ahead with informed decisions. The book is written through back and forth dialogue of two sisters, who looked at money from two different angles until one's husband's lost his job. The topics range from what to tell others to insurance and credit card handling.
No list would be complete without a diet book and I had a good laugh when Jackie Warner's new book arrived. "This is Why You're Fat (And How to Get Thin Forever)" begins with the science of my extra pounds (and I thought it was overeating!) Warner discusses the role of hormones in metabolisms and the foods that can work in our favor and those that do not, especially for those of us over a certain age. She then offers a reasonable diet and exercise to get the weight off. I can't offer an adequate review of this book without trying it so I'll write my critique of it later in the year. Wish me luck.

New releases
Lesley Crawford has written a children's book called "Goodnight Acadiana," "a tribute to all things unique to Acadiana." The book is illustrated by Camille Barnes and available at bookstores and through their website, www.goodnightacadiana.com.
Louisiana was the site of many pioneers of air travel - John Moisant, Gen. James Doolittle, barnstormer Roscoe Turner, Delta Airlines creator C.E. Woolman and Harry P. Williams, founder of the Wedell-Williams Air Service in Patterson, to name a few. Vincent P. Claire honors this history with "Louisiana Aviation: An Extraordinary History in Photographs."
New Orleans architect, painter and professor Errol Barron has published "New Orleans Observed: Drawings and Observations of America's Most Foreign City," filled with 124 drawings.
Fenton author Morena Johnson Caleb, who considered becoming a preacher, has published "Woman, Are You Sure God Called You to Preach?" After five years of seminary training, prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit she concludes that women are not sent out to preach the gospel.
Don Hasley of Goldonna has published a poetry collection through Author House titled "Prepare Their Hearts," which emphasizes the healing power of God's influence. Also from Author House is Damon Willis's debut book, "End of Legend: In Search of the Warrior Queen," a love story that mixes the modern world with fantasy. Willis is a native of Lake Charles.

Vermilion Library
Vermilion Parish Library is offering fine free month, where fines will be waived on all items returned in good condition until Jan. 31. In addition, readers can get discounts on existing fines and other book fees for lost or damaged items. Some restrictions do apply.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New releases bring in New Year

            I’m ringing in the New Year with two young reader reviews from my 18-year-old son, Taylor, a freshman at UL in anthropology but a lover of imaginary literature. Here, he reviews Claudia Davila’s “Luz Sees the Light” and Ashley Spires’s “Blinky Under Pressure.”
             “Claudia Davila’s ‘Luz Sees the Light’ is about a young girl named Luz who works with her friends Anika and Robert to save the environment,” Taylor writes. “In Luz’s neighborhood blackouts are common. When Robert, a new neighbor moves in, he becomes nervous and worries the blackouts will disconnect him from his technology. Luz and Anika are hooked on shopping, shoes, ice cream and going places. Luz’s mom is how Luz gets around and with the gas prices being so high and groceries costing a fortune, Luz and her family realize it’s time to cut back and switch to no electricity, just the sun and its power. Luz and the community work together to create a park out of an abandoned lot in the neighborhood. It is Luz’s idea and it turns out to be a great way to save energy by growing crops for their own food, walking, not driving, enjoying fresh air and using a compost to create soil.
             “Ashley Spires’ ‘Binky Under Pressure’ is about a retired space cat named Binky who is living with a family of humans,” Taylor continues. “He guards his space station (owner’s house) from the aliens (bees) every day and gets into a routine until another cat shows up at the ‘station.’ Gracie turns out to be Binky’s boss and so monitors him as he is put through tests to keep his title as space cat. He fails the first few tests and blames it on minor things like, ‘The sun was in my eyes’ or ‘I didn’t have lunch.’ Binky then takes it up a notch and shows Gracie who he really is. The ‘aliens’ end up invading the space station and Binky kicks butt to keep his family and his boss safe. Binky keeps his title but also gets promoted to ‘Binky – Space Cat Extraordinaire.’ The space cat is back.”

New releases
            Here are a few new releases that came out at the end of 2011 or will be released this week. Future columns will have more lengthier reviews of these and other new releases.
            Award-winning West Monroe author Beth Cornelison has released her first independent published novel, “Trust in Me,” a small-town contemporary romance with a twist on the classic Cinderella story. “Trust in Me” is available to download through Kindle, Nook and other ebook retail sites. For more information, visit www.bethcornelison.com.
            Retired Monroe college professor and author Dr. O.K. has published “…Happens,” the story of Alfred S. Smith who has “an uncanny knack for ending up in uncomfortable and unfortunate situations,” according to the publisher’s press release. For more information, visit www.dorrancepressroom.com.
Dennis Hamilton offers an illustrated biography of the 77-year-old Louisiana-born Texan Samuel E. Wyly in “Beyond Tallulah’: How Sam Wyly Became America’s Boldest Big-Time Entrepreneur.”
Cookie Tuminello offers a guidebook for success for women in “Climbing the Ladder of Success in High Heels Without Stepping on Your Values.” The book is available at www.ClimbingTheLadderOfSuccessInHighHeels.com.
            Neil White, author of “In the Sactuary of Outcasts” about Carville and the National Hansen’s Disease Center, has edited “Mississippians,” published by Nautilus Publishing.
Biologist Camy Tang has written “Protection for Hire,” a romantic suspense series starring an ex-Japanese mob enforcer and a transplanted Louisiana lawyer.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at chere@louisianabooknews.com.