Sunday, December 17, 2017

Photographer Gould, cultural anthropologist Owens win James Williams Rivers Prize in Louisiana Studies

Photographer Philip Gould was awarded the 2016 James William Rivers Prize in Louisiana Studies for his extensive documentation and celebration of Louisiana through documentary and architectural photography, according to the UL-Lafayette Center for Louisiana Studies, which administers the prize. Goulds photographs are featured in more than a dozen books as well as other publications, and he has won several awards including the Louisiana Governors Arts Award for Best Artist and the first Michael P. Smith Award for Documentary Photography given by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

The 2017 recipient is cultural anthropologist Maida Owens, chosen for her longstanding commitment to and leadership in preserving and expanding our understanding of Louisianas cultures through folkloric survey work and the dissemination of research through innovative and diverse channels and media. Owens has served as Folklife Program director for the Louisiana Division of the Arts for nearly three decades and received the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for lifetime achievement in public folklore from the American Folklore Society. She is an author, documentary producer and researcher and has won numerous awards, including the 1993 American Anthropological Award of Excellence and the 1993 American Association for the State and Local History Award of Merit.

Buy books!
Books make excellent gifts and provide hours of entertainment, education and enjoyment. If youre in need of gift ideas, here are some wonderful Louisiana-based coffee table books to consider.

Ive always been fascinated by Marfa, that small West Texas town that became a haven for artists over the past few decades. Photographer John Slaughter, who shares his time between Marfa and his hometown of Grand Coteau, introduces us to this unique spot of Americana in a gorgeous book of photography titled Marfa and the Mystique of Far West Texas, published by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press. The sunsets are brilliant, the rain bursts rare but breathtaking, the artwork unusual and unique and the sky as big as Texas. Ill never curse that stretch of I-10 again after viewing Slaughters photos. Instead, Ive got Marfa on my bucket list.

I reported earlier of meeting Emile Waagenaar at the Louisiana Book Festival and hearing his story of how he listened to Cajun music in his home in the Netherlands. Waagenaar traveled to Louisiana to witness and photograph this unique sound and the result is a insightful coffee table book of photographs titled “Arrete pas la musique! Portraits of South Louisiana,” also published by ULL Press.

Holiday cookbooks
Melinda Risch Winans was introduced to photographer Theodore Fonville Winans by way of marriage to his son, and over the years she appreciated not only his photographic talents but his culinary creations as well. When she discovered about 250 of her father-in-law’s handwritten recipes after his death, she decided to turn them into a cookbook. The result is “The Fonville Winans Cookbook: Recipes and Photographs from a Louisiana Artist,” co-written with Cynthia Lejeune Nobles and published by LSU Press, recently named a Fall 2017 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. The book naturally includes the recipes, but also Fonville Winans’ story accented by his photos, many of which have never been seen in print. Chef John Folse, whose own cookbooks used Winans’ photographs as inspiration for his covers, writes the foreword.

Another delightful cookbook combines traditional Southern food with French cooking techniques. “Dinner Déjà Vu: Southern Tonight, French Tomorrow” by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and a Georgia resident, explains how to create healthy Southern dishes with a French flare. Many recipes will resonate with Louisiana residents and their fusion cuisine, dishes such as braised quail with wild mushrooms and cognac, asparagus and Vidalia onion quiche, succotash with tarragon and crème fraiche and cherry pie with Chantilly crème. Of course, there’s braised collard greens, shrimp and grits, shrimp Creole and other Southern favorites. Booker is also the author of “Field Peas to Fois Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent.”

New releases
Jennifer Bates of Lafayette has published her debut novel, a romantic suspense titled “The Boss’s Daughter,” the first book in the “Black Rose Series.” Set in Massachusetts and Louisiana, the daughter of a mob boss must choose between her loyalty to the family and the FBI.

Deborah LeBlanc of Lafayette has published “The Witch’s Thirst” by Harlequin Nocturnal, where if a witch from a long and distinguished line loves a human, all of humanity will suffer. Resisting the temptations of men has never been terribly difficult for Evette Francoisuntil she meets Lucien Hyland.

William Watson recently wrote to gush about a Louisiana novelist he enjoys. Pat Joffrion has published two novels, Complicit and Unknown Justice, each of which I could not lay down but had to continue reading these spellbinding novels based on some real-life experiences of the author, Watson wrote me. Sounds like good reading to me.

Chere Coen is the author of several Louisiana non-fiction books and the Viola Valentine Louisiana paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday Ebook Spotlight: Holiday discounts, freebies

It’s no mystery why veterinarian Callie Webber is having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. When the residents of her small hometown aren’t pitying her because of her ex-husband’s very public departure, they’re attempting to hook her up with a man…any man. Fed up with being everyone’s favorite charity case, Callie considers closing her animal clinic and moving to the big city. But, before she goes, she decides to give herself a Christmas treat to remember: a romantic holiday fling. And who better to have a fling with than the gorgeous newcomer who is turning heads around Maplesville? 

Does "A Perfect Holiday Fling" sound like the perfect holiday read? For a limited time, author Farrah Rochon of Louisiana is gifting this ebook novella for free!

Want to know more? Here’s the hero’s side:

When injured Navy pilot Stefan Sutherland reluctantly rescues a gutter cat for the sake of his five-year-old nephew, he never imagined it would lead to him discovering Maplesville’s most fascinating attraction…its smoking hot vet. Getting involved with a woman was the last thing Stefan anticipated when he agreed to care for his nephew during his Army nurse sister’s deployment, but if he’s going to spend the holidays in this sleepy Southern town, why not make the most of it with the perfect holiday fling.

99-cent Holiday Specials
My good friend Colleen Mooney, author of the New Orleans Go Cup Chronicles, is part of "The 12 Slays of Christmas" anthology. This fun collection of stories is only 99 cents right now (get it fast) and all proceeds help animals needing rescue in Houston and Florida. 

Here's where to buy "The 12 Slays of Christmas":

How about getting away from the daily grind? 

That’s all middle-aged professor Ollie Stratford hopes to do when she moves to a quiet little Texas town. Ollie is soon thrust into a murder along with an oddball reporter, a dreadlocks-flashing lawyer, a grandma who teaches mixed martial arts and a stray dog named Bodie! If you like cozy mysteries, clever animals, southern charm and coffee, you'll love "Texas Troubles" by N.C. Lewis, the first in the fun Ollie Stratford Murder Mysteries, and it's only 99 cents to download.

Click here for the Kindle version.

Louisiana Book News is written by Chere Dastugue Coen, award-winning author of several non-fiction books about Louisiana. She also writes novels under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her novel series all begin with a book that's available as a FREE download. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Russel Honore's new book, holiday gift ideas for the book lover and book events this week

Gen. Russel Honore, who was in charge of the massive search-and-rescue mission in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, is proposing a plan to use the U.S. military as first responders when hurricanes of Category 3 or higher make landfall in the U.S. and its territories. He outlines this plan in a new book titled Dont Get Stuck on Stupid, recently published by Acadian House Publishing of Lafayette.

Since Louisiana books make great gifts and help local authors, be sure and check out Acadian Houses large list of Louisiana books.

Looking for some Louisiana-based mysteries?

New York Times best-selling author Erica Spindler, who lives in the New Orleans area, sets her latest thriller in Harmony, Louisiana, where police detective Miranda Rader steps into a horrifying homicide scene in The Other Girl. As the case progresses, her boss discovers Mirandas prints at the scene of the crime, although Miranda never took off her gloves. Worst is an old news clipping of when Miranda escaped her own sexual assault 15 years before. Back then, no one believed the teenager, even when she insisted there was another girl left behind. Is Miranda being set up? And just who is involved in keeping her from finding out the truth? And, like the book suggests, who was that other girl 15 years before that Miranda had to leave behind when she fled the scene. Its a complex thriller that will leave you guessing until the end.

Ellen Byron, who lives in Los Angeles but left part of her heart in Louisiana after attending Tulane, continues her cozy mystery series thats set in Plantation Country along the Mississippi River in A Cajun Christmas Killing. The mystery features Maggie Crozat whos helping her family run the Crozat Plantation B&B in the small town of Pelican, Louisiana. Naturally, theres a murder and Maggie and her loved ones are suspects during the height of the holidays. When her boyfriend Detective Bo Durand also comes under suspicion, Maggie has to take sleuthing into her own hands. This edition of the series includes recipes and some Louisiana holiday traditions, such as bonfires on the levee.

Twelve cozy mystery authors, including Colleen Mooney of New Orleans, make up the Christmas anthology The 12 Slays of Christmas, with all of the books proceeds benefitting animal rescue groups. The anthology costs $4.99 and The 12 Slays of Christmas Recipe Book cost $12, both available at online bookstores. For information, visit

Roger Johns, a former corporate lawyer and retired college professor, released his debut novel this past summer titled Dark River Rising, by Minotaur Books. The story involves Wallace Hartman, a female police detective in Baton Rouge, whos smart and fearless. When the lives of those she cares about are put in jeopardy by the cleverest, most violent criminal shes pursued, she is unstoppable. For more information, visit

New Orleans
Next year marks the New Orleans Tricentennial and why not celebrate the city’s 300th anniversary with several new books.

Michael Murphy’s “All Dat New Orleans: Eating, Drinking, Listening to Music, Exploring and Celebrating in the Crescent City,” is the perfect guide to everything Big Easy. There’s history, lists of everything from hotels to cemeteries, discussions of ghosts and vampires, a guide to drinking — you name it. Sidebar profiles, called Lumins (short for luminaries) add to the book’s allure, providing profiles of some of the city’s most colorful personalities. Even though Murphy’s book contains just about everything you need to know to enjoy New Orleans, he insists it’s about the experience, one visitors must create themselves. “But the best way to ‘do’ New Orleans is not to fill up your suitcase with consumer knickknacks and doodads,” he writes in the book’s introduction, “but to fill up your mind and your soul with one-of-a-kind experiences.”

New Orleans residents will love perusing Edward J. Branleys Krauss: The New Orleans Value Store, a Canal Street landmark for almost 100 years. The book comes chock-full of vintage photos, history, products sold, the famous lunch counter and personal remininces, among so much more. The store closed in the 1990s but Branleys book helps the store beloved by so many live on. Branley is also the author of Maison Blanche Department Store and four other books on New Orleans by The History Press.

Multi-published and award-winning author Jack Sullivan examines the music of New Orleans since the 1990s, with interviews and archival material of luminaries such as Jon Batiste, Marla Dixon and Kermit Ruffins in New Orleans Remix. The book attempts to expand beyond jazz with the citys funk, brass band and Mardi Gras Indians traditions and other musical genres. New Orleans Remix includes 40 illustrations.

Three other New Orleans books that will make great holiday gifts are Snippets of New Orleans, a whimsical book that explains the City the Care Forgot in vibrant illustration by Emma Flick, and The Louisiana Urban Gardener: A Beginners Guide to Growing Vegetables and Herbs by Kathryn K. Fontenot. New Orleans historian John Magill tackles one of the city’s landmark thoroughfares, following the curve of the Mississippi River from Canal Street to Carrollton Avenue, in “The Incomparable Magazine Street,” published by River Road Press of New Orleans. The book is accented by photographs from Margot Landen.

Book events the week of Dec. 10-17
The 20th anniversary of Words & Music, a Literary Feast in New Orleans, sponsored annually by the Faulkner Society, concludes today. For more information, visit

Cassie Pruyn discusses and signs Bayou St. John: A Brief History at 2 p.m. today at Octavia Books of New Orleans. The book about the citys beloved waterway contains history from Native Americans to the current Bayou Boogaloo festival.

Adam Gussow signs Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop of New Orleans.

Humberto Fontova signs Crazy on the Bayou Five Seasons of Louisiana Hunting, Fishing, and Feasting at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Jack Sullivan signs New Orleans Remix at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.

Carol Stubbs and Nancy Rust will sign their cookbook “Louisiana Christmas” at 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble Citiplace in Baton Rouge. The book features traditional recipes and statewide celebrations.

Chere Coen is the author of several Louisiana non-fiction books and the Viola Valentine Louisiana paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ernest J. Gaines chosen as 'Great Southern Writer' for April 2018's Books Along the Teche Literary Festival

Award-winning Louisiana author Ernest J. Gaines will be the featured “Great Southern Writer” at the Books Along the Teche Literary Festival: Celebrating New Iberia, Dave Robicheaux's Hometown and Great Southern Writers April 6 -8, 2018, in downtown New Iberia. Gaines recently debuted his latest book, “The Tragedy of Brady Sims,” at the 2017 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

Ernest J. Gaines is a world-renowned novelist, short story writer, and teacher. He is among the most widely read and highly respected contemporary authors of African American fiction. Gaines was born in Pointe Coupee Parish in Louisiana and later enrolled at San Francisco State University where he began publishing stories in the university’s quarterly literary journal. These stories secured him a place in Stanford University’s graduate program for creative writing.

In 1971, Gaines completed the work that was to make him famous, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” which later was made into a film. In 1981, he accepted the position of Writer-in-Residence at the then University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). Not long into his tenure, he published “A Gathering of Old Men” (1983) followed by “A Lesson Before Dying,” one of his most critically acclaimed novels. Both novels were also made into films. Gaines retired in 2004 and became Writer-in-Residence Emeritus at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “The Tragedy of Brady Sims” was published in August.

He and his wife, Dianne, live in Oscar, Louisiana, near the plantation where Gaines was born and raised.

Gaines will speak at the Sliman Theater (129 E. Main St., New Iberia) at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 7, 2018, and the presentation will include a question and answer session with the audience. Attendance is free, but organizers are asking participants to reserve a seat via Eventbrite, as this is anticipated to be a standing room only event.

The festival is an event of the Iberia Preservation Alliance, formed by the Iberia Cultural Resources Association, the Bayou Teche Museum, Shadows-on-the-Teche and the New Iberia Main Street Program. The 2018 festival is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

More information is available at and on Facebook. For travel information, please visit

Louisiana Book News is written by journalist Chere Dastugue Coen, an author of both non-fiction titles and novels, all dealing with the colorful state of Louisiana. You can find this column on Sundays in The Advertiser of Lafayette and the News-Star of Monroe, Louisiana. Write her at