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Tuesday 12/01/2015
Posted: December 01, 2015 - 6:00 am
12 Days of Christmas Book Giveaways: 'Toys Meet Snow'

We're kicking off with a children's book: "Toys Meet Snow" by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. This book has a gorgeous textured cover. I'm sure a little kid would love it.

Monday 11/30/2015
Posted: November 30, 2015 - 6:05 am
12 Days of Christmas Book Giveaways begins tomorrow

Imagine a person who wants to give you books. Free, new, Christmas-themed books for you to read as you snuggle with your child or by yourself. This person can't wait to disperse these festive books...

Posted: November 30, 2015 - 6:00 am
November Monday open book stuff

Nov. 30. — It's the last day of November. Time to bust out the Christmas tree and start planning for gifts. You'll want to check out the blog over the next few weeks. I have book giveaways planned,...

Sunday 11/29/2015
Posted: November 29, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Oscar Wao' is like walking through a storm of feathers

Imagine walking down the street through a storm of feathers. They swirl down from the sky and create a fluffy layer beneath your feet. The feathers are of different sizes and textures — some of the...

Posted: November 29, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Cherokee Diaspora' an in-depth look at part of Appalachian history

The Cherokee are familiar to people in the southern Appalachians because they maintain a significant presence in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The Cherokee are also familiar to read...

Friday 11/27/2015
Posted: November 27, 2015 - 12:05 am
And the winner is ... Book giveaway: 'Concussion'

Crystal Brant, take "Concussion" off your list of books to buy this year. You're the winner! Please send a mailing address to and I'll get this book out to you ...

Sunday 11/22/2015
Posted: November 22, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: A football coach during divisive times

“Champion of the Barrio” should begin with a disclaimer that some movies contain: inspired by true events. It’s a signal the story is not exactly fiction and not exactly fact. Sometimes a little ad...

Posted: November 22, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Black soldiers were 'roughest riders' in Spanish-American War

Although Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt won prominent press coverage with his Rough Riders in their attack in the Spanish-American War just over a century ago, Jerome Tuccille’s military history gives...

Thursday 11/19/2015
Posted: November 19, 2015 - 5:45 am
And the winner is ... Book giveaway: 'Star Wars Psychology'

Thanks to everyone who participated, but the winner is Dusty Wallace, who a) has a valid point and b) made me chuckle. Dusty, e-mail a mailing address to and I will get t...

Monday 11/16/2015
Posted: November 16, 2015 - 12:45 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 ...

Sunday 11/15/2015
Posted: November 15, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Choose 'The Selection' series by Kiera Cass

Christiansburg local Kiera Cass has created a great young adult dystopian world with the first three novels in her Selection Series. Add an independent heroine in a society that needs a change, a g...

Posted: November 15, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Washington is more than a capital

Washington, D.C., is a complex city built on tidal marsh land by compromising politicians. It is not just the capital of the United States; it is also a symbol of the American republic. Tom Lewis h...

Sunday 11/08/2015
Posted: November 08, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Churchill before he was prime minister

So many books have been — and will be — written on the life of this amazing man that to publish another seems at first glance to be “gilding refinèd gold.” Author Simon Read is a veteran news repor...

Posted: November 08, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Sci-fi and fantasy compilation serves its purpose

In a case of “better late than never,” the Best American anthology series has added a new yearly anthology to its family: science fiction and fantasy. Of course, genre purists know that science fic...

Sunday 11/01/2015
Posted: November 01, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Menagerie' a modern fantasy

We begin with a dark wish being granted, and immediately there is a sense of deep powers at work, either magic or something else. We meet Charity Marlowe, a woman afraid. Later, we learn part of th...

Posted: November 01, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Star-crossed lovers in 'Enchantress of Paris'

In 17th-century France, the Earth revolved around the sun, the French court revolved around the Sun King, and the king himself revolved around one particular woman, Marie Mancini.

Posted: November 01, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Henry Clay' starts, finishes strongly

George Washington determined the future of the executive branch. John Marshall set the standards for the judiciary. Alexander Hamilton provided a blueprint for the federal government’s wealth-build...

Thursday 10/29/2015
Posted: October 29, 2015 - 6:00 am
NaNoWriMo: Halloween isn't as scary as writing a novel

It's almost that time of year.

Tuesday 10/27/2015
Posted: October 27, 2015 - 5:35 pm
Vinton library to close Saturday

Vinton's library will close for about two weeks Saturday as it prepares to move to a new location.

Monday 10/26/2015
Posted: October 26, 2015 - 6:00 am
October Monday open book stuff

Oct. 26 — By far the biggest news of the week is there's a Harry Potter sequel coming out.

Sunday 10/25/2015
Posted: October 25, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Author documents past and present of Parkinson's

James Parkinson’s “Essay on the Shaking Palsy” written in 1817 gives him the honor of describing the eponymous condition, but Parkinson’s disease is as old as human history. Galen and Leonard da Vi...

Posted: October 25, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Harriet Chance's life is a look at your own

Every now and again I read a book that begs to be read again immediately. “This is Your Life, Harriet Chance” by Jonathan Evison is one of those books. Actually, I wish I had written it.

Friday 10/23/2015
Posted: October 23, 2015 - 6:00 am
'Cursed Child' will be Harry Potter sequel

J.K. Rowling insisted her play "The Cursed Child" isn't a sequel to Harry Potter, but producers have announced that it is.

Thursday 10/22/2015
Posted: October 22, 2015 - 6:00 am
A question about 'Dolley' by Rita Mae Brown

Warning: spoilers ahead. Skip this post completely if you haven't read the book.

Tuesday 10/20/2015
Posted: October 20, 2015 - 5:45 am
And the winner is ... Book giveaway: 'Rogue Lawyer,' by John Grisham

You're a creative bunch, but the one who stands out is Carla McCurdy Bream, who won me over with her nonfatal rocket launcher. Sort of like a humanitarian James Bond. Carla, send a mailing address ...

Sunday 10/18/2015
Posted: October 18, 2015 - 4:06 pm
Little Free Library lends helping hand to book lovers

When asked about her favorite kinds of books, Kinley Eubank bashfully admits being a big Nicholas Sparks fan.

Posted: October 18, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'One of Us' packed with heart-breaking details about Norway's massacre

Although he wore a police uniform, the man who sat before the officers was not one of them. He was a criminal, guilty of the carnage around them on Utoya, the once peaceful island that hosted Labou...

Posted: October 18, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'No God But Gain' examines slavery, Monroe Doctrine

Austria’s Count St. Julien described the 19th-century merchant class as “the cause of all these wars, without ever having taken part in them or suffering from them — they fatten and grow rich upon ...

Monday 10/12/2015
Posted: October 12, 2015 - 12:45 am
Calendar of book events: October-November

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

Posted: October 12, 2015 - 12:00 am
Books and Talks Calendar


Sunday 10/11/2015
Posted: October 11, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Black-Eyed Susans' worthy of thriller genre

Julia Heaberlin’s third novel, “Black-Eyed Susans,” is a thrilling tale that leaves readers guessing and speculating up until the very last page. With interesting use of flashbacks, courtroom trans...

Posted: October 11, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: The German people during WWII

What to make of this history? It is a large book, exhaustively researched, well-written, in scholarly style. It was first printed in Great Britain, where author Nicholas Stargardt occupies a chair ...

Posted: October 11, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Drosten's Curse' sure to win over 'Doctor Who' fans

I came to A.L. Kennedy’s “Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse” with two trepidations.

Posted: October 11, 2015 - 12:00 am
Healing for Healey: Fincastle rescue dog featured in new book

When Teresa and Ray Powell of Fincastle decided to adopt a 10-year-old shelter dog four years ago, it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Thursday 10/08/2015
Posted: October 08, 2015 - 6:00 am
Roanoke Valley Reads begins next week

Here's what you need to prepare: A copy of "Factory Man" by Beth Macy and some free time.

Posted: October 08, 2015 - 5:45 am
And the winner is ... Book giveaway: 'See Me,' by Nicholas Sparks

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your stories, but Jeannie Schymanski Halenda bore the palm for her awesome mother-in-law. Jeannie, e-mail me at with a mailing address an...

Sunday 10/04/2015
Posted: October 04, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: FDR was America's 'Man of Destiny'

Life magazine publisher Henry Luce published an editorial in 1941 during the debate in Congress over the Lend-Lease Bill in which he said that the fate of the world depended on the triumph of liber...

Posted: October 04, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Salman Rushdie's novel is marvelous, magical

Salman Rushdie’s new novel, his 12th and short by his standards, imagines our turbulent 21st century as a fabled and mythic past, a time of inexplicable events and the intervention of the gods. The...

Posted: October 04, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Jonathan Franzen's 'Purity' not as good as its predecessors

Literary superstar Jonathan Franzen has come under heavy criticism over the years. Fellow writers, Oprah Winfrey and numerous critics have all taken shots at the brilliant writer.

Thursday 10/01/2015
Posted: October 01, 2015 - 12:50 am
Celebrate Banned Books Week by reading a banned book

In October 2009, a Roanoke County parent noticed his high-school son engrossed in a book — apparently an unusual sight. Curious, he examined the contents. He didn't like what he saw: drugs, sex, vu...

Wednesday 09/30/2015
Posted: September 30, 2015 - 11:00 pm
Casey: Local bus rides inspire Roanoke College professor's poetry

For a month, Melanie Almeder rode local buses, meeting people and making notes. She's turned that endeavor into a poetry booklet she'll read from tonight at Roanoke's main library.

Monday 09/28/2015
Posted: September 28, 2015 - 6:00 am
September Monday open book stuff

Sept. 28 — Good news from The New York Times: Print isn't dead.

Sunday 09/27/2015
Posted: September 27, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Launch into the delight of 'The Martian'

Step outside. Take a deep breath. Congratulations, you are doing better than Mark Watney. If he steps outside and breathes without a special suit, he dies.

Posted: September 27, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: Of 'Monsters,' men and pathological technology

If you think Ed Regis’ latest book, “Monsters: The Hindenburg Disaster and the Birth of Pathological Technology,” has just a tinge of hysteria in the title, then your instincts are still sharp. Tha...

Posted: September 27, 2015 - 12:00 am
Lexington photographer Sally Mann's reputation expands with memoir

LEXINGTON — A little girl floats in the sky on the cover of photographer Sally Mann’s new memoir, “Hold Still.”

Thursday 09/24/2015
Posted: September 24, 2015 - 6:00 am
Hello, Dolley, it would be nice to read a book about you

My husband and I met up with friends at Montpelier over the weekend, where we reveled in history, sunshine, friendship and pies. It was my first time visiting this beautiful house and estate, and t...

Sunday 09/20/2015
Posted: September 20, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Bedford Boys' author returns to World War II with 'Avenue of Spies'

It is hard to imagine a more distasteful, a more unpleasant situation, than to be an American family living and working in Paris in June 1940, when the Nazi armies marched in and held their victory...

Posted: September 20, 2015 - 12:00 am
Book review: 'Still Time' frames life, memories with Shakespeare

It could be said that when Lear decides in the beginning of Shakespeare’s play to step down as king and divide his realm into equal shares to be ruled by his three daughters that he has made a very...

Thursday 09/17/2015
Posted: September 17, 2015 - 6:00 am
Have you read these Man Booker Prize finalists?

If you're stuck for what to read, consider these books that made the Man Book Prize short list:

Monday 09/14/2015
Posted: September 14, 2015 - 7:00 pm
Get your kids in the kitchen in celebration of Roald Dahl's birthday

The famous children's author Roald Dahl would have been 99 on Sept. 13.

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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