Monday, November 7, 2016

"I See the World in Comic Mode": Connie Willis on Her New Novel, "Crosstalk"

Anyone with a passion for science fiction has read a Connie Willis book and come away from it with a fresh new perspective on whatever has captured her attention. From time-traveling Oxford historians to her latest comic novel that tackles empathy and telepathy, Willis's interests range widely – and we all benefit.

CrosstalkHer new novel, Crosstalk, explores empathy and relationships and gives them a screwball comedy twist. When Briddey Flannigan's boyfriend, Trent, suggests they get empathy implants before becoming engaged, she's more worried about how her extended and extensively exhausting family will react than about potential side-effects. But when Briddey awakens from her operation linked to her tech-whiz coworker C.B. rather than boyfriend Trent, things start to get complicated....

Recently she spoke with us over the phone about Crosstalk, modern communication, and the state of science fiction today.


Amazon Book Review: What sparked the idea for Crosstalk?

Connie Willis: That's always a tricky question to answer. I feel like books come together in odd ways. It's not a single idea. An idea comes from here; an idea comes from there. And they all accrue together somehow. But a couple of the major things that inspired this book were, first, the constant barrage of communication that we get daily in this new information age. You can spend your entire life online or on Facebook or Tweeting or whatever. It's like you have a dozen people yammering at you constantly, and it's hard to concentrate and hard to figure out who you are and what you're supposed to be doing and what your life is like. There's this endless noise. I wanted to carry forward that idea of endless noise one step farther to make it an unbearable level of noise. And then the second thing is that [telepathy] is not an unusual topic for science fiction. There's Robert Silverberg, who wrote Dying Inside, and Alfred Bester wrote The Demolished Man. And there are dozens and dozens of short stories about telepathy and the consequences of reading someone's mind. One thing I noticed was that almost all of them focused on the truly negative side of telepathy: either world domination or madness or both. And hardly any of them saw the funny complications that could result. And that's something that I frequently do in my writing: take something that has previously been treated very, very seriously in science fiction, but that no one has done a comic spin on.

When I wrote Crosstalk, I was trying to do something very different from Blackout and All Clear. I'd spent the last eight years doing World War Two, which is kind of grim. I wanted to do something that was a real change of pace. And I love writing romantic comedy. It's perhaps my favorite genre. So I was excited that I was able to spend the time writing a romantic comedy.

You seem to have staked out the territory of humorous science fiction. How did you gravitate to that?

Well, that was kind of a natural thing for me. I see the world in comic mode. I have an overdeveloped sense of irony, which means that I frequently will see the funny side when other authors do not. There's a proud tradition of that in science fiction: Fredric Brown, William Tenn, and even Shirley Jackson, who is known for her dark, dark horror stories – well, she wrote a lot of humor and had an overdeveloped sense of irony, which I think is why she could write so well in the horror mode too.

But I write both kinds of science fiction. There was a rumor going around a while back that there were two Connie Willises: one who wrote the serious novels that I write, and one who wrote the comic novels that I write. And I was saying, "No, there are not two people. It's two sides of the same coin." But some people will be surprised when one of my novels is funny and the next will be pretty serious and grim.

I'm sure different readers of yours would pick different books as their favorites, but which of your books are you the most proud of?

Oh, that's a hard question. It seems to imply that you spend all your time thinking about your own work, and I don't. [Laughs] I think I'm probably proudest of Blackout and All Clear. It's a two-volume book, and it's the last book in my time travel books. It's not a series – they are all free-standing – but it's about the Oxford historians who have access to time travel and can go back in the past and explore the past. When I wrote Blackout and All Clear, I wanted so much to write about the London blitz and the aspects of World War Two in which the civilians figured heavily. Everyone writes about the soldiers and the battles and D-Day and the war in the Pacific. I felt that the part that civilians played in the war had not been covered properly. And I'm proudest, especially, that it was a bunch of kids and old ladies and retired choir members who basically defeated Hitler. It was really hard – it turned into a two-volume book and a really long and complicated saga that nearly killed me – but I was really proud that I got to tell their story.

You've been writing for a long time—

Oh, for hundreds of years, practically! [Laughs]

You've certainly covered hundreds of years in your writing. What do you see as the state of science fiction writing today?

Oh, I think it's better and better all the time. It isn't that great stuff wasn't being written when I got into the field and before I got into the field. There's always been just staggeringly good things being written in science fiction that's been overlooked by mainstream fiction, I think. People who don't read science fiction have the idea that it's all lasers and robots and ray guns and spaceships. It's really not. There were writers even back in the forties and fifties who were doing this incredible sophisticated work.

But there are really wonderful things being written now. And now because science fiction writers can work at the novel length, they can explore ideas in more complicated ways. The field just gets better and better and bigger and bigger as it gets more and more diverse. We get more and more writers from all over the world coming from all kinds of backgrounds, and that enriches the field enormously. It used to be a white-bread, white male kind of field, and limited to one point of view. And now it has dozens and dozens of points of view, and the field is way better because of that.

It's exciting. It's a great place to be.


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The Best Biographies and Memoirs of November

Amazon Book Review: You Will Not Have My HateSometimes when we're putting together our monthly lists, it's hard to see a theme until it's all finished and published. It was never intentional, but November features a number of infamous personalities with questionable intentions. But before we get to those, let's talk about something more inspiring: You Will Not Have My Hate, Antoine Leiris's memoir about the death of his wife, Hélène, in the 2015 Paris terror attacks. In her review, Amazon's Al Woodworth writes:

"Told during the immediate days after his wife's murder—'with a burst of machine gun fire, they shattered our puzzle' - Leiris, together with his seventeen month old son, grapples with how they must 'go on living alone, without the aid of the star whom they swore allegiance.' Leiris writes with intimacy and galvanizing affection. But what makes this memoir soar is Leiris's refusal to surrender to hatred and anger towards those that murdered his wife: 'So, no, I will not give you the satisfaction of hating you,' he writes '…all his life this little boy will defy you by being happy and free.' Humming with humanity, grace and intelligence, You Will Not Have My Hate will alter the ground below you and the sky above. Buy this book and then buy it for the ones you love—for in it Leiris has reminded us of what it is to live."

Now onto some more controversial characters. See all of our November picks for Biographies & Memoirs and more in the Best Books of the Month.

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Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend by Deirdre Bair
Written with the cooperation of his family, Bair - a National Book Award-winning author for Samuel Beckett - looks into the life of our most notorious gangster, revealing the truth about a man who was capable of monstrous violence (the St. Valentine's Day massacre) while being a dedicated patriarch.

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Walk Through Walls: A Memoir by Marina Abramovic
Apparently, she's polarizing. Erin Kodicek writes: "If you find yourself cringing, well then, that's the point. One of the main purposes of Abramović's art--of her life--is to learn how to confront and transcend the uncomfortable—the physically and the emotionally painful. You may come away from Walk Through Walls thinking, yeah, this lady, she cray. But there is something to be said for someone with the audacity to run towards what the rest of us are only too happy to flee."

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Bear: The Life and Times of Augustus Owsley Stanley III by Robert Greenfield
Genius polymath or pusherman? How about both? Owsley was something of an entrepreneurial seeker: a self-taught chemist who reverse-engineered Sandoz-grade LSD, manufacturing a million doses (and millions of dollars) stashed around Bay Area and inside the brains of countless hippies and Summer of Lovers. He also designed cutting-edge, drug-inspired studios and sound systems for the Dead, sitting behind their soundboard and archiving hundreds of their legendary live shows. Bear is his long, strange trip.

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Weekend Reading

LestatIn this edition of Weekend Reading, proof that Lestat never dies, the son of a climbing legend has harrowing tales of his own, and Günter Grass speaks from the grave.

Seira Wilson: This weekend I'll be dipping into the second book in Anne Rice's new series that brought back the vampire Lestat. Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis picks up where Prince Lestat left off and gets even more otherworldly with a story of Atlantis and that long ago empire's connection to the vampires.

Jon Foro: A few years ago, I had the great fortune to sit down with Jim Whittaker and his wife Dianne Roberts on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Big Jim's successful first American ascent of Mt. Everest (with his climbing partner, Nawang Gombu) and the reissue of his memoir, A Life on the Edge. Now their son Leif has a book of his own - My Old Man and the Mountain - recounting his own high-risk adventures and what it was like to "grow up Whittaker" and out of the shadow of his very famous father.

If that's not enough climbing, there's Simon McCartney's The Bond, also from Mountaineers Books and shortlisted for the 2016 Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature (there are five great books on this list; check it out).

Erin Kodicek: I'm going to take a look at Of All That Ends by Günter Grass (apropos title since it's a posthumous release). Grass is best known for his novel, The Tin Drum. When he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1999, the Swedish Academy called it "one of the enduring literary works of the 20th century." In Of All That Ends, Grass reflects on his career, and storied life, which wasn't without controversy (He admitted late in life to being a member of the notorious Waffen-SS.) I'm curious how, or if, he addresses this shameful part of his past in what promises to be a meditative, melancholy offering.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Red Web: A Hacker's History of Russia

Amazon Book Review: The Red WebIf you hadn't noticed, "the cyber" has been in the news. Between Wikileaks, ransacked email servers, massive DDoS attacks through the "Internet of Things," our sense of security regarding personal information - and even confidence in the integrity of our elections - is under constant siege. But who are the perpetrators? Lately, it's assumed to be the "Russian hacker." But who is that?  One image that comes to mind is a hoodied teenager in a St. Petersburg basement, blue-faced under the glow of a CRT and the last case of Soviet Jolt Cola, cracking weak passwords and pilfering credit cards and identities. Another is more insidious: a concerted, sanctioned effort by foreign governments working on a large scale to disrupt rival powers, domestic or international.

As you probably imagine, details on these programs are hard to come by, and any investigative effort will come with a degree of personal risk. Journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan are no strangers to it: Their 2011 book, The New Nobility, documented the rise of Russia's modern Federal Security Service from the ashes of the KGB; in 2015, The Red Web drew on interviews with officials from Russia's Ministry of Communication and dissidents alike, describing the history of the Russian surveillance-state from the Soviet era to the present - and the online battles waged erode its power.

Here Sodatov and Borogan provide a look into few of the systems and players shaping that shadowy world.


The murky world of Russia's cyber-espionage

by Andrei Sodatov and Irina Borogan

"The cyber" originating from Russia
Since 2007, most Kremlin offensives include an aggressive cyber component: intimidating denial-of-service attacks on neighboring countries; the leak of intercepted phone conversation between Victoria Nuland, the US assistant secretary of state for Europe, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, to provoke a quarrel between the United States and Europe during the Maidan protests in Kiev; trolling international media to promote Russia's perspective on the Ukraine conflict; the hacking of a power plant in Ukraine in December 2015 and the hacking attacks on the US in 2016.

Although the Russian security and intelligence services have cyberwar capabilities, most of the strikes come through other channels. The Kremlin understands well that the use of contacts and agreements orchestrated informally by a government official rather than a chain of command provides plausible deniability. It also makes the moves of the Kremlin less predictable.

SORM stands for the Russian words meaning "operative search measures." Actually it's a Russian system of eavesdropping and surveillance on all kinds of communications, from phone calls to emails, social media and messengers.

All Russian operators and Internet Service Providers are required to install the SORM black boxes, about the size of an old videocassette recorder, which would fit on a rack of equipment, and provide connection to the regional departments of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor of the KGB.

The result: the FSB could intercept whenever anyone on Russian soil made a phone call or checked an e-mail. Pure and simple, the SORM box is a backdoor to Russia's Internet.

Kuchino, the birthplace of SORM
Kuchino, about twelve miles east of Moscow, was built on an old pre-revolutionary industrialist's estate. It is the oldest research facility of the Soviet police state, and it had been in service as far back as 1929 for Stalin's NKVD, a forerunner to the KGB. Kuchino had a storied history of accomplishments, such as figuring out how to intercept a human voice from the vibrations of a window. In one of their most ambitious and successful exploits, the experts at Kuchino planted a listening device inside a large replica of the Great Seal of the United States and presented it as a gift to the US ambassador in August 1945, and it was hung in the ambassador's study. The device transmitted sound waves out of the ambassador's study to the Soviet secret services until it was exposed in 1952.

It became the KGB's main research center for surveillance technologies, including the all-pervasive Soviet system of phone tapping and communications interception.

It was here, in Kuchino, where the technical method of full, unrestricted access to all communications known as SORM was developed in the 1980s. The collapse of the Soviet Union postponed the deployment of SORM, and the first installation of SORM took place in the mid-1990s. SORM has been constantly updated ever since, most recently in April 2015.

Andrei Bykov, a father of SORM
Short and thin, with gray hair combed back and sunken cheeks, Bykov was deputy director of the FSB from 1992 to 1996, holding the rank of colonel-general.

An engineer by training, Bykov studied at the Moscow State Technical University in Department No. 6, which focused on small arms research. Within three years after graduation he was recruited by the KGB. In 1966 he entered the KGB's Operative-Technical Department, in charge of bugging, interception, and technical surveillance operations, and rose up through its ranks to become department chief. On December 5, 1991, the chairman of the KGB ordered Bykov to hand over documents to the United States which confirmed the bugging of the new US Embassy in Moscow.

In the 1990s Bykov's signature was on most of the SORM documents.

Ruslan Leviev, an activist
Ruslan Leviev is a 27-year old computer geek and a lawyer by training. Short and thin, with earrings in both of his earlobes and often with a radical haircut, he was born in the Russian Far East, where he worked for an NGO providing poor citizens with legal support in court.

In 2009 he moved to Moscow and in 2011 joined the protests against fraud in the parliamentary elections. He was detained, and spent two days in prison. When he left the detention center he decided to help Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny build his online project. When Navalny's blog was blocked by the authorities, Leviev designed the Big Red button – the tool to bypass the blocking. He also found the way to mock Russian censors. When the government censors attempted to check whether the Navalny blog was working, their screens were filled with images of cats and ponies.

Pavel Durov
Pavel Durov is a mysterious founder of Vkontakte, a popular Russian social network modeled after Facebook. When he was 27, Durov changed algorithms during the Moscow protests to allow more users to join the online organizing groups.

Durov boldly published a scan of a written FSB request—in the document, a general chief of the FSB branch in St. Petersburg asked him to "cease the activity" of seven online groups related to the protests. The day after revealing the document, Durov was summoned to the St. Petersburg Prosecutor's Office. He refused to come, posted information about the summons to the prosecutor's office, and again refused to close down the online groups.

In 2013 he refused to hand over the personal data of Ukrainian activists who set up Euromaidan groups. In the Spring 2014 he was forced to sell his share in the company, resigned as a CEO of Vkontakte and left Russia.

Edward Snowden
On June 23, 2013, Edward Snowden flew into Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. He was forced into exile because he didn't want to be an anonymous source of the leaks about the NSA – he wanted to be transparent.

Snowden landed in a country with a long tradition of secrecy and suppressing freedom of speech, a landscape roiled by the secret control and surveillance he claimed to despise. When he landed in Moscow, the Kremlin was in the middle of a large-scale offensive against Internet freedoms. Transparency was the first casualty when Snowden went to Russia. He held a press-conference in the airport, but journalists were not invited. Since then he made a point never to meet Russian journalists.

Snowden also chose Anatoly Kucherena as his Moscow representative and lawyer. Kucherena is a member of the Public Council within the FSB, a public relations organization established in 2007 to promote the image of the Russian security service. Kucherena also serves as chairman of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, a front organization for Russia's propaganda machine, with branches in New York and Paris. Putin had suggested personally that such an institute be created to criticize human rights violations in the United States."

Snowden never explained his choice.


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"My Five Favorite Thrillers" by Stephenie Meyer

ChemistTo say Stephenie Meyer is a household name is to put it mildly. Her Twilight series and her novel The Host were huge bestsellers that were turned into successful films as well. Now, with her newest novel The Chemist, she makes her first foray into the thriller genre.

In light of that, here are Stephenie Meyer's five favorite thrillers.


 Sleeping Dogs by Thomas Perry

B1"The only thrillers I reread with frequency are the books in the Butcher's Boy series by Thomas Perry. Sleeping Dogs is the middle book of the trio, but it's the one that has always spoken to me most. (I'm not sure what it says about me personally that I go back again and again to imagine myself in the footsteps of a brutal and ruthless killer, but it's probably not great.) There's just something about the mountain of overwhelming odds piling higher and higher against the nameless assassin, and how he always finds a way to think and shoot himself out of any situation. A lot of my love for assassins was developed thanks to the Butcher's Boy."


Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn

B2"Before Hollywood ever tried to create a hostile takeover of the White House, Vince Flynn had created the perfect white-knuckle version of that worst case scenario. Mitch Rapp is the perfect hero: smarter, faster, and more effective than anyone else in the room. But even though you know Rapp is an unstoppable force, Vince Flynn still manages to make you sweat it out while you wait for him to save the day."


The Rainmaker by John Grisham

B3"This is my favorite legal thriller, perhaps because it feels the most real. As someone who's been on the receiving end of shady insurance company tactics, it was cathartic to read a story where the bad guys were unequivocally evil, the good guy was as much an everyman as any lawyer protagonist has ever been, and the resolution was as satisfying as it was realistically toothless."


Rook by Daniel O'Malley

B4"99% of the time, if you add a little of the supernatural or a bit of sci-fi to a story, I'm going to love it that much more. The Rook is robust thriller with a lot of humor (another element I'm never going to say no to), a complicated female protagonist I found it easy to identify with, and a big dose of superhuman abilities and danger. I don't know the rules—maybe this makes it not a true thriller, but I don't care. It's a thrilling read regardless."


The Bourne series of Movies

B5"I know I'm breaking the rules now, but the Bourne series of movies is one of those rare exceptions that makes the rule. I can't think of any other adaptation of which I can say, "I like the movie better." But the creators of the films took the raw material from Ludlum's book series and transformed them into a much more visceral, compelling, and haunting experience. This is the only circumstance in which I will tell someone they don't have to read the book first."




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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"Big Food, Big Love"

BigFood_CoverOne of Seattle's restaurant gems is a cozy place called The Wandering Goose, known for their gorgeous pastries and hearty biscuit breakfasts. 

I recently indulged in a massive amount of good food there (see photos at the end) and met with chef/owner Heather L. Earnhardt to talk about her first cookbook, Big Food, Big Love.
*Big Food, Big Love was an editors' pick for the Best Cookbooks of the Month


Seira Wilson: What was your favorite thing about writing Big Food, Big Love?

Heather L. Earnhardt: My favorite thing was telling the stories. For me a cookbook should read more like a memoir, where you trace the roots of someone from the beginning to the end and find out how they got to where they are, because I think everyone has an interesting story of how that happens.

SW: Is there one [cookbook] that you modeled your book after?

HLEJohn Gorham's Toro Bravo cookbook was an inspiration to me.  He talks about his mom having him at fifteen and then she got in a car accident, got addicted to prescription pills and then she died—his upbringing of moving around and picking up little bits of everything here and there, to me that's so much a part of what makes him who he is as a chef and I really related to his story.

SW: Besides running a restaurant and writing the book, you've also got several kids at home—are they good recipe testers?

HLE: We have five kids at home, 7,8, and 9 and two teenagers, 15 and 16, so it's pretty crazy!  When I was testing everything for the book there was so much food… and they eat really well regardless—they don't realize it but when the teenagers leave for college they're going to be like, damn…

SW: Is that how your cakes got to be so giant? (I love the giant cakes)

HLE: For my pastry style, I'm self-taught, I was by my granny's side watching her bake in the kitchen and I always gravitated towards things that were really rustic, things that tasted really good but weren't as refined.  So big flavor and just big.  So it makes an impression.

SW: Is that a Southern thing? Big in the South?

HLE: I think it is! I think it's because we grew up eating so much, but the majority of it, especially in the summertime, was vegetables.  So you'd have eight or nine different vegetables and maybe a little ham or fried chicken but the majority of what we ate was vegetables because a lot of things grow there.  Fried okra was my favorite vegetable and still is.  People think it's slimy but it's not, you've just got to fry it right.

SW: What's your favorite biscuit?

HLE: The Easy with Sausage is my favorite, the sausage reminds me of the Neese's sausage we grew up on, we'd buy it in a little square.  When we were testing sausage for The Wandering Goose I tried to get the spice mix as close to what that memory was for me.     My kids and lots of customers love The Sawmill.  Fried chicken, gravy, and a biscuit all at once…

SW: What do you hope people take away from reading and using Big Food, Big Love?

HLE: I think a lot of it is just to cook.  It doesn't have to be complicated.  It can be challenging if you want it to be but the main thing is just to cook for your family, cook for your friends.  Don't make it into a big thing where you have the right equipment or the right plates or matching silverware--it should all just be funky and fun.  And it shouldn't be just on just a weekend, it should be on a Tuesday night.  Just really good tasting food that's not that hard to make, where you eat a lot and you share it with people.  It's country cookin'.  That's what granny did and there was always enough.  It should just be about feeding people and having a good time.

Photos from this visit to The Wandering Goose:


BigFood_cakes BigFood_CakeSliceBook_crop











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The Best Romances of November: Our Top Picks

Best romances of NovemberAn earl who is also a spy, two cowboys, and a billionaire determined to prove himself are in our romance spotlight this month. From the drawing rooms of London to the wilds of Wyoming to the concrete canyons of Chicago, love ambushes those who least expect it.


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The Billionaire Next Door by Jessica Lemmon - I'm starting to get a little worn down by the billions of billionaire books (and where are the lady billionaires?! I want to read more books about them). But Lemmon's new romance has a citrus-bright vibe and truly enjoyable characters (including a Great Dane named Adonis) that got me past my initial reluctance and sucked me into Tag and Rachel's romance. Determined to prove that he can bring his bar business out of the red and into the black, Tag is distracted by his new, temporary neighbor--and professional bartender--Rachel. She improves his bar ideas; he improves her sex life by getting her past an overly critical ex-boyfriend. But is this enough to build a real relationship on, given that they're both gun shy of commitment? (Spoiler: Yes!!) Fun without being overly frothy, this is a good urban romance choice whether you're into billionaires or not.

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Somebody Like You by Lynnette Austin - Originally e-only, this is now available in paperback as well, and is a great choice for lovers of contemporary small-town romances in which hard work, strong character, and doing the right thing wins out in the end. Incognito heiress Annie Montjoy comes to Maverick Junction, Texas, to track down the long-lost half sister of her dying grandfather, but her chance to finally be herself--with no bodyguards, no media, no fake smiles--is the real treasure. Ranch owner Cash Hardeman sees a strong-willed woman who fills a hole in his heart that he never knew he had, but they both have secrets that could destroy the slow-growing trust between them.

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Tempting the Earl by Rachael Miles - The third addition to Miles' Muses Salon series sets long-estranged spouses on a collision course while they try to uncover who is manipulating the British government. Olivia decided to walk her own path after her husband abandoned her after her wedding night three years ago, and that path has led to her career as "An Honest Gentleman," the author of persuasive newspaper columns. But her husband, who secretly works for the crown's spy service, believes that An Honest Gentleman doesn't have the country's best interests at heart. So begins a cat-and-mouse game in which love and lives are at stake. The cast of characters is extensive and might be confusing if you haven't read the other books in the series, but that just means you now have three excellent historical romances to read.

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Wind River Wrangler by Lindsay McKenna - Bestselling author Shiloh Gallagher is being stalked in Manhattan. Fleeing to the safety and serenity of her friend's ranch in wide-open Wyoming, she is taken under the protective wing of hunky cowboy (and former special ops soldier) Roan Taggart, who builds up her self-confidence while breaking down her heart's walls. This slow-burn romance can be a bit wordy and the mystery isn't very mysterious, but McKenna does a smart job weaving the emotional connections between Roan and Shiloh in this contemporary western romance that will charm those with a weakness for cowboys.


To see all ten of our romance picks, go here.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Books for Little Constituents

LittlePresidentsWith all the election brouhaha swirling around right now, it seems like a good time to look at some of the lighter aspects of our county's presidential story. So where should we turn?  Children's books. 

Below are ten new titles I really like for sharing history and fun facts about our nation's capitol and presidential history with young readers.


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In short rhyming text this little board book tells kids about a defining characteristic or two for ten of our most iconic presidents, including Barak Obama. Ages 3-5

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 I am George Washington by Brad Meltzer
Part of the Ordinary People Change the World series kids learn about the first president, his bravery, curiosity, and commitment to the country. Ages 5-8

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Diana's White House Garden by Elisa Carbone
What about kids at the White House? Eliza Carbone uses historical fact to tell the story of Deborah Hopkins, the daughter of President Roosevelt's chief advisor who helped create a Victory Garden on the White House lawn. Ages 5-8

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Get interactive with fun facts about the presidents paired with activities including word scrambles, crossword puzzles, and drawing exercises. Ages 8-12

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A shaped board book tour through some of the most famous landmarks of our nation's capitol including the Smithsonian and the National Monument. Ages 4-8

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Noted documentarian Ken Burns brings the presidents to life in kid-friendly style and illustrations, including each of their presidential portraits. Ages 10-up

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Nice Work, Franklin! by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain
An inspiring picture book about how we can overcome challenges to reach even the highest office in the land, just like Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ages 5-9

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When Penny Met POTUS by Rachel Ruiz
So what's a POTUS? Penny only knows her mom works for one at the White House, so when she gets to visit she goes searching for the POTUS of her imagination... Ages 4-7

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While Lincoln and Kennedy had many differences, they also had similarities that made them two of our most well-known and beloved presidents. Ages 6-10

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Welcome to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! Take a tour and learn some of the stories of the White House in photographs of the building, people, and even presidential pets. Ages 6-8

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