Sunday, May 17, 2015

Harris returns to Midnight with page-turning 'Day Shift'

            Call it Bon Temps withdrawals but I had some doubts about Charlaine Harris’s new series set in Midnight, Texas. Even after I had read the first book in the series, “Midnight Crossroad,” I wasn’t sure I would be as enthralled with this series as I was her Sookie Stackhouse best-selling series, one you might recognize as the basis to the “True Blood” series on HBO.
            And yet after reading “Midnight Crossroad,” I couldn’t get the characters out of my head.
            The second book in her “Midnight, Texas” series has just been published and “Day Shift” continues the antics of a small but eclectic group of people who live and work in the tiny crossroads known as Midnight, a town somewhere outside of Dallas. I found myself thrilled to be back in their midst and the book captivates better than the first.
            The story begins when the main character — even though it’s an ensemble cast — psychic Manfred Bernardo visiting a tony suburb of Dallas to have face-to-face readings with some clients. His Midnight neighbor, the secretive and beautiful Olivia Charity, is also in the hotel and suspiciously involved in a murder that happens there.
            When one of Manfred’s clients keels over dead, things get really interesting.
            “Day Shift” deals with the fallout of both murders and its effect on the sleepy town where its peculiar residents want to remain out of the public eye. There’s also a new kid in town who’s odd in his own way and under the protection of the equally abnormal “Rev” who operates a pet cemetery and chapel. The abandoned hotel gets a makeover but the owners appear to have ulterior motives. And one of the hotel’s visitors has unique paranormal gifts.
            All of these activities, naturally, come to a head in this paranormal mystery series.
            Stackhouse lovers will be happy to note that two characters from that series make appearances in Midnight, allowing Harris to slightly tie the books together.
            Now, I’m hooked. Can’t wait until next May so I can return to Midnight, Texas.
     
New releases
            Jessie McCormick grew up a sharecropper’s daughter in Lucky, Louisiana, wishing for pearls and a good education, things her family’s meager income couldn’t afford. One of the wedding gifts her parents received was Pearl, “a reddish-brown jersey cow with a soft, leathery nose and wise, walnut eyes,” which became Jessie’s friend. Jessie’s story, told in a novel-like fashion by Patti Lacy, a graduate of Neville High School, and Sara Richardson, a Colorado author, make up “Jessie’s Pearls: A Memoir,” about growing up and dreaming of a better life. The book follows Jessie McCormick’s life through the Depression, war years and on into the tumultuous 1960s. The authors will discuss “Jessie’s Pearls” at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Louise Williams Branch Library in West Monroe. 

Mississippi Press
            Out this month from the University of Mississippi Press is “Conversations with Michael Chabon,” 18 interviews with the renowned author edited by Brannon Costello of Baton Rouge. Costello is associate professor of English and director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts program at LSU.
            Anna Servaes of Youngsville, who teaches French and Spanish at Schools of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, has published “Franco-American Identity, Community and La Guiannée.”
            Now in paperback is Peggy Frankland and Susan Tucker’s “Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement.” Frankland is a native of Sulphur and has served environmentalism in many capacities. Tucker is from New Orleans and curator of books and records at the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women at Tulane. She is the author of “Telling Memories among Southern Women.”

Book events
            The Faulkner House Books and the Faulkner Society will have a launch party for Irvin Mayfield's new book about music and musicians, including his own stories, and seven CDs of music, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Cabildo in New Orleans. “Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Playhouse” is introduced by author and journalist Walter Isaacson with a foreword by Louisiana author Ernest Gaines and an afterword by Wynton Marsalis. There will be free cocktail refreshments and finger food. To reserve your copy of the book in advance, call Faulkner House Books with credit card information at (504) 524-2940. Please e-mail the Faulkner Society, faulkhouse@aol.com, to reserve a place.
            Warren and Mary Perrin, editors of “Acadie Then and Now: A People’s History,” will speak about their new book at noon Wednesday at the Houma Rotary Club. For more information, call 233-5832, or email perrin@plddo.com.
            The Bayou Writers’ Group of Lake Charles is hosting a Literary Reading Night of prose and poetry from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Stellar Beans Coffee and Edibles in Lake Charles. Sign up to participate through their web site, www.bayouwritersgroup.com.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.