In September, Ashley Mace Havird of Shreveport published her debut novel “Lightningstruck,” a coming-of-age story set in Marion County, S.C., during the height of the tobacco industry in the early 1960s. The book published by Mercer University Press recently won the Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction. The novel follows 11-year-old Etta McDaniels when in 1964 her horse Troy is struck by lightning. The horse survives, gruesomely scarred, and now has supernatural powers, which Etta sets her mind on harnessing in her search for treasure. Troy has other plans.
Havird is no stranger to awards; her collections of poems have seen their share. “The Garden of the Fugitives” (Texas Review Press, 2014) won the 2013 X. J. Kennedy Prize and “Dirt Eaters” (Stepping Stones Press, 2009) won the 2008 South Carolina Poetry Initiative Prize.
Tim O’Brien, National Book Award Winner and author of “The Things They Carried,” said this about the book: “Full of mystery, tension, and the very real and often turbulent history of rural South Carolina, ‘Lightningstruck’ is an engrossing and enchanting story.”
Havird’s poems and short stories have appeared in many journals including “The Southern Review” of Baton Rouge and in anthologies such as “The Southern Poetry Anthology, IV: Louisiana and Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry.” She’s married to poet David Havird.
Kirby Larson has a special place in my heart. She’s the author of the heart-wrenching “Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival,” an award-winning tale of a dog and a cat who become friends through disaster. It’s one of my most favorite children’s books.
Her latest book set in New Orleans is “Liberty,” a young adult story that’s part of Scholastic’s “Dogs of World War II” series. Adolescent “Fish” suffers the aftermath of polio but that doesn’t stop him from his inventions. Aided by neighbor Olympia, they create a trap for rabbits invading Olympia’s garden but end up using it to snag a stray dog they name Liberty. Fish’s sister Mo works for the Higgins boatyard, makers of the landing crafts used in the invasion of Normandy. Their father serves overseas and Mo’s boyfriend fights in the Pacific. Larson even drops in a German POW who ends up in neighboring Jefferson Parish.
Readers will not only learn about World War II, the role of the Higgins boats and the POW camps of New Orleans, but will be touched by this sweet story of a boy (and girl) and their dog during on the most trying times in U.S. history.
Gift book ideas
Last chance to purchase a book for that special someone for the holidays. Here’s a few more to choose from:
“Retro Photo: An Obsession” by David Ellwant celebrates the history of cameras and photography, spotlighting the wide variety of cameras over the years accented by photos taken from those cameras. It’s an encyclopedia of sorts, culled from Ellwant’s collection of cameras and equipment, detailing different formats and films by a professional photographer and author and illustrator of more than 20 books for children.
“Expressions of Place: The Contemporary Louisiana Landscape” features the talents of 37 Louisiana artists collected by John Kemp, former deputy director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. The book published by the University of Mississippi Press contains artwork of both rural and urban landscapes, from the piney hills of north Louisiana to the streets of New Orleans.
New Orleans-based food and travel writer Beth D’Addono has just published “100 Things To Do in New Orleans Before You Die,” providing readers with information on everything from Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest to destination weddings and conventions, with an emphasis on food and cocktails.
D’Addono writes regularly for numerous outlets including USAToday and is the author of “The Hunt Guide New Orleans,” an insider’s guide to independently owned restaurants and shops in New Orleans.
In the same vein, Laura Carroll and LSU grad and former Shreveport Times reporter Adam Kealoha Causey have published “100 Things to Do in Las Vegas Before You Die,” from world-class dining and entertainment on the Strip to views of the Mojave Desert’s beauty.
Roger C. Bull sets his latest novel in New Orleans with “Tenuem: The Thin Line” featuring Detective Sgt. August “Gus” De Noux. Bull is also the author of several books including the international thriller “El Rey del Tiempo” and “The Thin Line of Good and Evil,” a serial murder set in the Irish Channel of New Orleans. His wife, Karen Bonvillain Bull, is the author of “Crescent City Crime: The Trilogy.”
Bull was born in New Orleans but lives in southwest Alabama now.
Melanie Jarrell of Lafayette wants to show women how to live a finer, more elegant lifestyle while challenging them to be the best person they can be in all aspects of their lives with “Refinement of Manner: Manners, Etiquette & Elegance for the Twenty-First Century Woman.” To learn more, visit www.refinementofmanner.com.
Book events for the week of Dec. 18-24
Carole Cotton Winn discusses and signs “My Darling, A World War II Scrapbook,” featuring letters written from her father home during his time in the war, at noon today at the Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church in New Orleans.
George Graham signs “Acadiana Table: Cajun and Creole Home Cooking from the Heart of Louisiana: Recipes, Stories and Photographs” at 10 a.m. Friday at Barnes & Noble in Lafayette.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at email@example.com.