Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Three readers win "Flash and Bones"

A third copy of Kathy Reichs' "Flash and Bones" arrived at the newspaper this week, so I've chosen three winners:

  • Doug Price, who wanted to win a copy for his wife. You're a good husband, Doug.
  • Jennifer Edwards, who's re-reading "206 Bones" right now.
  • Stephanie Simpson, who says she's a big fan of the "Bones" television show but has never read the novels.

Folks, email me your mailing addresses, and I'll get the books out to you. And thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Longer Charlotte library hours start next week

After Labor Day, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library is expanding hours at six regional libraries and reinstating Sunday hours at the Main Library and ImaginOn.

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 6, regional libraries -- Beatties Ford Road, Independence, Morrison, North County, South County and University City -- will be open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The Main Library and ImaginOn will be open 1-6 p.m. Sundays starting Sept. 11. Here's a full schedule of library hours.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer's last book giveaway: "Flash and Bones"

School is back in session, which means summer's ending. So, too, is my Summer Book Giveaway.

For the final giveaway, I've got two copies of "Flash and Bones," the newest thriller by Charlotte's Kathy Reichs.

In her newest novel, Reichs explores a subject in her own backyard -- NASCAR. Just as fans are pouring into Charlotte for Race Week, a worker discovers a body inside an asphalt-filled barrel in the landfill beside the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Soon, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is on the case.

Here's my recent story on Reichs' new book.

If you'd like to win a copy, leave a comment here. Give me some way to identify you, not just anonymous. I'll post the two winners on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Charlotte Christian School teacher to read from new novel

Dean Hardy, chair of Charlotte Christian School's Bible Department, is also an author. "Magnus Kir," his middle-grade fantasy novel, takes place on a distant planet, where 12-year-old Zack has lived a contented life in a walled society called Magnus Kir -- until his hesitant escape.

Hardy, who lives in Matthews will give a reading at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Barnes & Noble at The Arboretum, 3327 Pineville-Matthews Road.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two readers win "The Family Fang"

Congratulations, Basilkeeper and Trinitarian Mouse Fan. You've both won copies of Kevin Wilson's new comedic novel, "The Family Fang." Also, it sounds as if you have some good family stories of your own.

Email me your addresses, and I'll get the books in the mail to you. Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Win "The Family Fang," a portrait of a nice, dysfunctional family

You think your family's crazy? Wait until you meet Caleb and Camille Fang, a couple who propel parental dysfunction to a new level. In Kevin Wilson's new comic novel,"The Family Fang," we meet the Fangs, who use their two kids in performance art pieces reminiscent of "Punk'd" episodes.

The children grow up to be artists, too. Annie's an actress, Buster becomes a writer. But both their careers are imploding. Topless photos of Annie are all over the Internet. Buster suffers a serious injury when he's nailed in the face by a potato gun.

Wilson will give a reading 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24 at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

And I'm giving away two copies of his book. To win one, leave a comment here with some way to identify you, not just anonymous. You'll get extra points for sharing your own crazy family story. I'll post the winners Wednesday, Aug. 24.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl" at Park Road Books

Funny lady Celia Rivenbark will be reading from her new book, "You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl," 7 p.m. Monday at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.
Rivenbark, who grew up in Duplin County and lives in Wilmington, writes a syndicated humor column. She's been compared to Dave Barry and Erma Bombeck. Among the pieces in her newest collection: "Driving While Shaving," about the Florida woman who wrecked her car while grooming her bikini area.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Novello Festival of Reading? Not this year

Charlotte won't have a Novello Festival of Reading this fall.

That won't come as a huge surprise to anyone who's followed the Charlotte-Meckenburg Library's budget cuts in the past couple of years. Still, for book lovers who looked forward to Novello events each October, it's sad news.

Launched in 1991, the library-sponsored reading festival presented talks by dozens of great authors, including, in recent years, Khaled Hosseini ("The Kite Runner"), Christopher Buckley ("Losing Mum and Pup") and Scott Turow ("Presumed Innocent").

After budget cuts decimated the library's 2010 budget, a group of volunteers, led by UNC Charlotte's Mark West, kept the spirit of Novello alive last year with "A Tribute to Novello," featuring local authors who appeared free of charge.

This year, we'll have neither Novello nor the tribute to it. "I don't want to say it's dead, it's never going to come back," says Karen Beach, the library's community engagement director. But she doesn't know what the future holds.

UNCC's West, however, is organizing an alternative --the Uptown Fall Authors Series, which will feature authors speaking at several uptown Charlotte venues.

And if you've got your heart set on a literary festival, check out the Bookmarks Festival of Books in Winston-Salem on Sept. 10. Authors attending include Tom Perrotta ("Election"), Margaret Maron ("Bootlegger's Daughter") and Lisa See ("Snow Flower and the Secret Fan").

Also, Charlotte-area colleges and other institutions will present a number of authors, including Wes Moore ("The Other Wes Moore") at Lenoir-Rhyne University, poet Elizabeth Alexander at UNC Charlotte and Isabel Wilkerson ("The Warmth of Other Suns") at Spirit Square.

For a full listing, check out the Observer's Arts Season Preview, to be published Aug. 28.

Emily, you've won "Paper Covers Rock"

Emily, you've won this week's book giveaway. Email me your address, and I'll get "Paper Covers Rock" out to you. The young adult novel, written by Charlotte's Jenny Hubbard, is getting great reviews.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Punctuation geeks: A contest just for you

National Punctuation Day is Sept. 24, and the fine folks who invented it have announced a new contest to mark the occasion.

Here are the rules:

Write one paragraph, maximum of three sentences, using these 13 punctuation marks: apostrophe, brackets, colon, comma, dash, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation mark, and semicolon.

Entries will be accepted at through Sept. 30. Jamming all that punctuation into three sentences sounds tough to me. You might want to start now.

Meanwhile, enjoy these punctuation-themed haikus from the winners of last year's contest.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book giveaway: "Paper Covers Rock" by Charlotte's Jenny Hubbard

The reviews for Jenny Hubbard's debut young-adult novel, "Paper Covers Rock," have been stellar. Now, the Association of Booksellers for Children has chosen the novel as one of 10 books on its New Voices YA List.

"Paper Covers Rock" is set at a boy's boarding school. Sixteen-year-old Alex has just begun his junior year when tragedy strikes: He fails to save a friend from drowning in a river on campus.

Hubbard, who lives in Charlotte, taught English before she quit to write full time, and she's hearing from lots of adults who are enjoying her book. This first effort is drawing comparisons to John Knowles' "A Separate Peace." Pat Conroy calls it "one of the best young adult books I've read in years."

Hubbard, by the way, will be signing copies 5:30-7 p.m. Sept. 21 at Park Road Books, 3139 Park Road.

Want to win a copy? Leave a comment here with some way to identify you, not just "anonymous." I'll post the winner's name on Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Emperor of All Maladies": We've got a winner

Elliot Bencan has won Siddhartha Mukherjee's Pulitzer Prize-winning look at cancer. Bencan says he'll share the book with his son, a doctor.

Elliot, send me an email with your mailing address, and I'll get the book out to you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two Charlotte writers win fellowships

Charlotte writers Morri Creech and Rebecca McClanahan are among 18 N.C. artists to receive $10,000 fellowships from the N.C. Arts Council.

Creech, a poet, is author of "Paper Cathedrals" and "Field Knowledge."

McClanahan, who writes poetry and prose, is author of "Deep Light: New and Selected Poems" and "The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings." She teaches in Queens University's MFA creative writing program.

The fellowships support creative development and the creation of new work.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Book Giveaway: Win "The Emperor of All Maladies"

Cases of cancer doubled globally between 1975 and 2000, and will double again by 2020, nearly tripling by 2030. In America, one in two men and one in three women will get cancer during their lifetime; one in four will die.

Those are some good reasons to read Siddhartha Mukherjee's Pulitzer Prize-winning history of cancer. Another reason: It's a beautifully written book.

It's now out in paperback, and I'm giving away a copy. Leave a comment here and tell me why you'd like to read it. Please give me some way to identify you, not just "anonymous." I'll post the winner on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A summer reading list to inspire you

Looking for a good book to take on your last summer trip to the beach?

Charlotte- based Mothering Across Continents, a nonprofit dedicated to developing responsible citizen-leaders around the world, recommends a list of books focused on inspiring work that addresses global problems.

Among the selections: "It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace," by Charlotte's own Rye Barcott, a former Marine captain who co-founded Carolina for Kibera. The nonprofit works with residents of Kibera, Kenya's largest slum, to develop leaders and alleviate poverty.

Other books featured in the group's "I Care Book Fair" include Tracy Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains" and Margaret Trost's "On That Day, Everybody Ate: One Woman's Story of Hope and Possibility in Haiti."

If you order a book through the group's web site, a portion of the money will go to support humanitarian projects in Third World countries.

We've got a winner for "Blood Clay"

Skkorman, you've won a copy of Valerie Nieman's "Blood Clay," a novel about a North Carolina community torn apart by tragedy.
Send me an email with your mailing address, and we'll get the book to you.

And don't forget: You can meet Nieman on Aug. 13. Nieman, who lives in Greensboro, will give a reading at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

Check back here next week for my next giveaway. It's a good one -- a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Win a copy of Valerie Nieman's "Blood Clay"

In her latest novel, "Blood Clay," Valerie Nieman writes of a North Carolina community torn apart by tragedy. Trying to escape the wreckage of her divorce, Tracey Gaines has moved to rural Saul County, NC, and become a teacher at an alternative school. But then a tragic event -- and her testimony about it -- divide the community.

Nieman, who lives in Greensboro, will give a reading at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

And this week, I'm giving away an autographed copy of the book that author Ron Rash calls "profoundly moving and beautifully written." Leave a comment here, and I'll choose a winner on Wednesday. Be sure to give me some way to identify you -- not just "anonymous."