Roanoke Times: Back Cover

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Wednesday 07/01/2015
Posted: July 01, 2015 - 12:15 am
Calendar of book events: July

Got a book signing, book sale, or some other book-related event going on? E-mail me at

Monday 06/29/2015
Posted: June 29, 2015 - 6:00 am
June Monday open book stuff

June 29 — When I first moved to Roanoke, I lived just off Williamson Road. I didn't have Internet in those days and often went to the library there to get online. The setup wasn't convenient; there were few places to both sit and plug in my laptop. When I visited the main library downtown, I was surprised by how vast and sophisticated it was compared to my local facility.

Sunday 06/28/2015
Posted: June 28, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: The quartet who created an American republic

Joseph J. Ellis has made many scholarly contributions to the literature of the founding of the United States of America. His latest, “The Quartet,” is a group biography of the four men who imagined and implemented the American republic.

Posted: June 28, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Jesus Cow' satirizes small-town America

Humorist Michael Perry’s new novel, “The Jesus Cow,” despite a few missteps, is an interesting and humorous work set in the small Wisconsin town of Swivel.

Wednesday 06/24/2015
Posted: June 24, 2015 - 8:28 pm
Architects seek residents' ideas for Williamson Road Library expansion

People who frequent the Williamson Road Library want more space for children, more outdoor seating and more parking when construction begins on the multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion project.

Tuesday 06/23/2015
Posted: June 23, 2015 - 6:00 am
Amazon to pay self-published authors by pages read

It's tough to make it in the self-published world, and it's about to get harder if you publish through Amazon.

Posted: June 23, 2015 - 3:00 am
2015 is the year to expand your reading

One of my colleagues enjoys American history. He reads a lot of books about the Civil War and biographies of presidents — material in which I have no interest. He has no taste for the literature I devour either: generous portions of young adult and historical stories, with a side of contemporary novels and just a sprinkling of nonfiction.

Monday 06/22/2015
Posted: June 22, 2015 - 7:00 pm
Roanoke puts 'Books on Buses' to encourage kids' summer reading

Six-year-old Rayjon Johnson is thrilled about Roanoke’s new “Books on Buses” initiative.

Sunday 06/21/2015
Posted: June 21, 2015 - 12:00 am
Patrick County judge's novels deal with law and a little disorder

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? Have you always lived in Stuart?

Posted: June 21, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Love may fail, except the love for Matthew Quick's new novel

The turn of a few pages is all it took for me to fall in love with Matthew Quick’s latest homage to the subtleties of joy, “Love May Fail.” The perceptive writer of “Silver Linings Playbook” has once again illuminated the fact that, though we may not always get what we want, we almost certainly get what we need. Not since “Playbook” have I enjoyed a trip through such a madly quirky, utterly lovely world.

Posted: June 21, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Take flight with 'The Wright Brothers'

David McCullough’s latest exploration of American history is a story about the two brothers who solved the scientific problem of powered human flight. In “The Wright Brothers,” McCullough brings to life the taciturn, sometimes anti-social Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Thursday 06/18/2015
Posted: June 18, 2015 - 6:00 am
Father's Day is a good time to pre-order the book with one of the greatest fathers

I am speaking, of course, of "Go Set a Watchman," the sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird" that comes out July 14.

Sunday 06/14/2015
Posted: June 14, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: WWII pilot survives '81 Days Below Zero' in thrilling true story

Many have been the tales of man against nature, the struggle for survival among icy peaks in a howling wilderness — some fictitious (Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”), others far too true (“Alive”). Few if any have chronicled such an epic battle as this, the journey of a lone airman from near death to life, in the course of which might be seen a series of miracles, fortified by his indomitable will to survive.

Posted: June 14, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Mapmaker's Children' relies on tenuous links

“Disjointed” is just one word that comes to mind when describing Sarah McCoy’s newest novel, “The Mapmaker’s Children.” Set before, after and during the Civil War and present-day New Charlestown, West Virginia, this novel revolves around two women.

Posted: June 14, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'I Take You' isn't your run-of-the-mill chick lit

It’s a truth nearly universally acknowledged in women’s fiction that a single woman over the age of 25 is in search of a wedding and a husband.

Posted: June 14, 2015 - 12:00 am
Roanoke author Rennie St. James turns fantasy into reality with first novel

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? Have you always lived in Roanoke?

Thursday 06/11/2015
Posted: June 11, 2015 - 6:00 am
What you want to get out of 'Grey'

Back in February, I asked people if they were excited about the upcoming "50 Shades of Grey" movie. Now I'm asking — who's excited about the upcoming new book?

Sunday 06/07/2015
Posted: June 07, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Minerals were part of the Civil War fight

Lead from a Wythe County mine, salt from Saltville and the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad had “extraordinary significance” in the Civil War, according to a study by Robert C. Whisonant, geology professor emeritus at Radford University.

Posted: June 07, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'January 1973' was a tumultuous time

“This, then, is the legacy of January 1973. The ‘me generation’ found its voice, religion became a political force, poverty and civil rights became someone else’s problem, and the national will for concerted action for the common good of all its citizens was scattered into ‘a thousand points of light.’”

Thursday 06/04/2015
Posted: June 04, 2015 - 6:00 am
Poll: Books with recipes put a twist on the term cookbook

The next best thing to a good book is a good recipe. I love to cook and bake — and eat. As the grocery shopper and cook in my house, food is often on my mind, and I gravitate toward cookbooks as readily as any novel or nonfiction.

Sunday 05/31/2015
Posted: May 31, 2015 - 6:00 am
Summer reads to make your vacation better

Suntan lotion, bathing suit, toothbrush — you've packed all you need for your summer vacation except the most important thing of all: a good book. If you're looking for something to get lost in as you while away time on the beach, at the park or just in the hammock in your own back yard, Roanoke Times staff and book reviewers have got you covered. Whether you enjoy fantasy or autobiographies, thrillers or sports, there's a book for everyone on this list.

Posted: May 31, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Missoula' a timely look at acquaintance rape on college campuses

Why is it so difficult for us as a culture to believe a woman when she says she was raped?

Posted: May 31, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Big Data Baseball' can't escape shadow of 'Moneyball'

I assume most baseball fans, like me, know a lot more about Big Papi than Big Data. We wish to view baseball as a leisurely, pastoral game, unscripted and disconnected from time. That’s our sunshine idyll. Meanwhile, on the professional level, baseball is changing from intuitive to analytic.

Posted: May 31, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Imaginative, creative 'Uprooted' sure to delight

Woods in fairy tales hold dangerous creatures — the wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood,” the witch’s cottage in “Hansel and Gretel.”

Thursday 05/28/2015
Posted: May 28, 2015 - 12:03 am
The Queen of Steam speaks her mind in new children's book

Rail workers and rail fans often attribute human qualities to venerable locomotives like the Norfolk & Western Class J 611.

Monday 05/25/2015
Posted: May 25, 2015 - 6:00 am
May Monday open book stuff

May 25 — I love it when a little book news happens.

Sunday 05/24/2015
Posted: May 24, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Ann Dunwoody is one tough lady, 'one helluva soldier'

Among the rugged, dedicated brotherhood of U.S. Army Airborne troops, the ceremony of “pinning” the silver jump wings on a newly certified parachutist has, in the past, shown a touch of blood sport.

Friday 05/22/2015
Posted: May 22, 2015 - 5:45 am
The winner is ... Book giveaway: A graphic novel of the Civil War

Thanks to everyone for all the recommendations. If you were stumped by this requirement for the 2015 expand your reading challenge, I hope this list helps. The winner is Sandi Saunders — Sandi, I looked up "Death Note" and it sounds eerie, fascinating, and something I would enjoy. Fingers crossed I'll get to it before the end of the year. Please send a mailing address to and I'll get this book out to you ASAP.

Thursday 05/21/2015
Posted: May 21, 2015 - 6:00 am
Book review: 2nd generation tackles politics, intrigue in 'The Virgin's Daughter'

Anne Boleyn has fascinated writers for hundreds of years. Countless books and movies seek to decipher this mysterious, complex queen who divided opinion the day she caught Henry VIII's eye. Laura Andersen does not take a stance on Anne in her books set in Tudor England; in fact the queen exists only so Andersen can explore an interesting question: What if she had delivered the coveted son?

Sunday 05/17/2015
Posted: May 17, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Saltwater Cowboy' is true tale of crime, punishment, redemption

Tim McBride spent much of his life importing marijuana into the United States, and that’s the focus of this new memoir, “Saltwater Cowboy.”

Posted: May 17, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Terms and Conditions' demands attention for small print

A car crash that robs a man of his memory — it’s a common scenario in movies and books, but Robert Glancy spins it in delightful directions in his novel “Terms and Conditions.”

Sunday 05/10/2015
Posted: May 10, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: And you think you're having a bad day ...

Winners get to write history, but that doesn’t mean the losers go away. They skulk on the sidelines, hoping someone will give them a voice. Good news and bad news for them: Michael Farquhar did, but not in the way they would like. His newest book, “Bad Days in History,” doesn’t excuse, explain or justify people who wound up on the losing side of various historical events, just highlights them. Lots of them, one for each day of the year.

Posted: May 10, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'BiblioTech' shows it's an exciting time for libraries

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” — Walter Cronkite, 1995

Sunday 05/03/2015
Posted: May 03, 2015 - 12:00 am
Keepers of the Tradition: Paintings and book celebrate the best of Appalachia

BLACKSBURG — Pam Puckett Frazier was about to become a work of art, and she was nervous about it.

Posted: May 03, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: The unconventional life of George Sand

George Sand, born Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin (her father insisted she be called Aurore) in Paris in 1804, became one of the most accomplished and notorious literary figures of 19th-century France. She wrote avant-garde novels, most autobiographically based, dressed in men’s clothes, smoked cigars, and took as lovers many of the most important artists of the period, including the famous actress Marie Dorval and the composer Frederic Chopin. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of her many admirers, aptly defined her gender-bending nature in a sonnet to her: “Thou large-brained woman and large-hearted man.”

Posted: May 03, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Author injects humor, wisdom in quest to become a 'real doctor'

Ever since the publication of “Intern” by Dr. X in 1965, the reading public has shown an excellent appetite for stories of that medical year of trial by fire known as “internship.” Perri Klass, Sandeep Jauhar, William Nolen and others have successfully recounted the trials and tribulations of that first year after medical school. Here is the latest offering: Dr. Matt McCarthy’s first year as a resident in internal medicine at Columbia. How well did four years at Harvard Medical School prepare him?

Posted: May 03, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Revolutions knew no borders in 18th century

In the late 18th century, the British colonies on the American continent declared their independence from Britain. There was a long war. There were formal declarations. There were pamphlets and newspapers spreading the views of the effort to replace royal sovereign with the sovereignty of the people (well, at least the white male property owners).

Thursday 04/30/2015
Posted: April 30, 2015 - 6:00 am
What's old is new again

Last week a couple of books landed on my desk and I immediately got excited. Even though I hadn't heard of them or even the authors.

Sunday 04/26/2015
Posted: April 26, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: High points in 'Normal' don't make up for the lows

Author Graeme Cameron’s first novel, “Normal,” comes with an author bio that reads more like disclaimer, an insulation, perhaps, against a class-action lawsuit from disgruntled readers. We learn that he “has never worked as a police detective, ER doctor, crime reporter or forensic anthropologist.” It’s hard to understand the purpose of such a statement, unless it is either an apologia or a bit of braggadocio. After reading “Normal,” it is still hard to tell.

Posted: April 26, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: The fall of Richmond, the woeful march to Appomattox

Sadness, jubilation. Despair, exultation. Cowardice, heroism. Incompetence, brilliance. All find their measures in this thoroughly researched, engagingly written drama, the concluding scenes of a war that had stretched over four years of time, and 200 years of powerful events, and which forever changed the face and spirit of our nation.

Posted: April 26, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Explore Indian history with a rebellious queen

War typically is the domain of men, especially in the mid-19th century, and especially in the male-dominated culture of India.

Thursday 04/23/2015
Posted: April 23, 2015 - 6:00 am
The play's the thing....

Continuing on the theme of William Shakespeare (happy birthday/deathday, by the way), let's talk about plays.

Posted: April 23, 2015 - 5:45 am
The winner is ... Book giveaway: Happy birthday (and death day), Shakespeare

I got excited about lots of your responses; not going to lie, I want to watch "Henry V" with Fred and act out "Twelfth Night" with Hannah. But Samantha Leigh, you won me over with the trivial tidbit about the bunnies and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and for that you win a big book about Shakespeare. E-mail me a mailing address to and I will get this book out to you ASAP.

Monday 04/20/2015
Posted: April 20, 2015 - 6:00 am
April Monday open book stuff

April 20 — Thursday saw the second big Roanoke book event with the Roanoke Book and Author Dinner. I was out of town for it this year, but my colleague Mike Allen did an interview beforehand with author Garth Stein, one of the event's draws. Let me know if you went and if you enjoyed it; one of the Times' photographers was there was a guest and said it was good.

Sunday 04/19/2015
Posted: April 19, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Bookseller' questions reality, the psyche

In her debut novel “The Bookseller,” Cynthia Swanson creates an unsettling world for protagonist Kitty Miller. Kitty seems to escape her life as the unmarried co-owner of a small town 1962 bookstore and owner of a frisky cat, by drifting into an apparent dream world where she is instead Katharyn Andersson, the married mother of three children in 1963 suburbia.

Posted: April 19, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: This cat out of hell comes with unexpected talents, humor

With two New York Times bestsellers behind her, author Lynne Truss introduces Alec, a retired librarian in Cambridge, who tells an incredible story of several cats who talk, read poetry, tear an office to shreds and commit ingenious crimes in “Cat Out of Hell.”

Tuesday 04/14/2015
Posted: April 14, 2015 - 12:00 am
Bestselling author to speak at dinner

Garth Stein’s artistic career track began as co-producer of an Oscar-winning film and arrives in the present day as author of a novel about a NASCAR-loving dog that sold more than 4 million copies.

Sunday 04/12/2015
Posted: April 12, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: You don't have to be a doctor to appreciate 'History of the Present Illness'

Louise Aronson has an M.D. from Harvard and an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College. Her practice of medicine concentrates on the care of the elderly, geriatrics, and she’s involved in medical education. She’s also the author of 16 short stories compiled in “A History of the Present Illness.”

Posted: April 12, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 3 books take readers through course of Constitution's history

Three books published this spring provide an opportunity to look at the roots of the United States government — the forces that created the Constitution and the forces that have acted on it geographically and historically.

Wednesday 04/08/2015
Posted: April 08, 2015 - 6:00 am
The invasion begins Saturday in Roanoke

No, not zombies, something better than that: authors.

Suzanne Wardle
  • Suzanne Wardle
  • Books editor Suzanne Wardle read cereal boxes, lists of ingredients and just about anything when she was a child, so it’s no wonder she grew up to read for a living at a newspaper. She posts reviews, news, discussion topics and musings on literature of all types. When she’s not reading, she’s out on the greenway with the dog, testing recipes in the kitchen and trying to persuade friends to watch bad monster movies with her.
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