Making memories, one trip at a time

After reading Doug Woodward’s book You Took the Kids WHERE? and as I write these words, it is still officially…
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Book celebrates ‘all things Appalachian’

Some four years ago, I reviewed Matthew Baker’s first book, My Appalachian Granny, a delightful collection of anecdotes, photographs and…
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A predictable story of love, but one well told

It is late in the day, and 60-year-old Marianne Messmann of Germany stands on the Pont Neuf in Paris. She…
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None too likeable characters, but a good story

Alcohol, alcoholism, and alcoholics appear frequently in literature. Shakespeare’s Falstaff is a son of Bacchus. Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder and…
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Book delves into our lingering racial problems

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war…
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Finding meaning in a disordered world

Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option: A Strategy For Christians In A Post-Christian Nation (Penguin Random House, 2017, 255 pages) has…
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Searching for the 60s

If you are one of those people who thinks that the 1960s hippie culture was only about sex, drugs and…
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Clearing the desk: Part II

In my last review, I mentioned the need to reduce a pile of books I’d read, all of them, new…
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Time to clear the desk, part one

Time to clear the decks — or in my case, the desk. For whatever reason — to escape our poisonous…
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A friendship forged in faith helped change the world

On Nov. 5, 2001, not quite two months after the 9/11 attacks, Lech Walesa spoke at Western Carolina University. Walesa…
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Beaches and great mysteries go hand in hand

For many people, summer means vacation, and vacation means beach. For readers, the beach in turn means packing books to…
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In praise of the local library

Some people are devotees of whiskey, cigars, wine, and craft beer. Some are aficionados of the fine arts, experts on…
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Music from inside the Great Pyramid

Looking for something unique and different? Then I’ve got something for you.
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Hewson’s mysteries should come with a warning

So a friend thrusts a book into your hands and tells you, “You gotta read this one. I know you’ll…
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A poem for D-Day
 

A poem for D-Day

“Normandy Invasion” By Paul Willis Across the sands of Normandy They came up from the sea. For many days and…
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Understanding how to disagree and still respect

Nineteenth century poet Walt Whitman once wrote “I hear America singing.” Ah, those were the days.
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Wit, wisdom and a walk around New York City

It is 1926, and Lillian Boxfish, mid-20s and ambitious, arrives in Manhattan, where she lands a job working for the…
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A memoir written in songs and poems

In his Preface to Love Songs For A Country Lane, country music icon Chris Gantry writes: “Grant King was a…
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A fresh look into an enduring classic

After finishing the last pages of Libertarians On The Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of…
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Need I say more? The power of wit

When verbally attacked and left speechless by an assailant, who among us has not long afterwards pondered the mot juste…
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A desperate tale, beautifully written

“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry And satisfy the needs of the oppressed, Then your light will…
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Pondering the power of forgiveness

In Charles Martin’s novel A Life Intercepted (Center Street Publishers, 2014, 326 pages), college senior Matthew “the Rocket” Rising has…
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The Final Day brings Forstche’s trilogy to a close

In 2011, William Forstchen’s apocalyptic novel, One Second After, appeared on best-seller lists. After reading for review this story of…
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An ancient story well told

In Jennifer Frick-Ruppert’s statement of intent at the back of her book, The Legend of Skyco, she states “While this…
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David Joy’s new book is a dark gem

Just after I bought The Weight of the World, I ran into an old friend of mine who is extremely…
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Pour me a glass of great words, and let’s party

Having given up listening to the dreadful music and talk shows available in my car radio, last week I popped…
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Books always make a thoughtful gift

You’re stuck.  It’s your boss’ birthday, your nephew’s graduation from high school, your cousin’s promotion at work, and you need…
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Burke’s writing shines in The Jealous Kind

In The Jealous Kind (Simon and Schuster, 2016, 400 pages, $27.99), novelist James Lee Burke drops his readers into Houston,…
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In rural Scotland, lessons on the power of books

Readers of this column know I am a sucker for books about books. Novels like The Little Paris Bookshop, collections…
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‘Casablanca’ one of the finest scripts of all time

“Casablanca.” For some, that name evokes a city in Morocco, an urban center of four million people quartering one of…
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Blizzard of 1993 is catalyst for a fine first novel

In True Stories At The Smoky View (She Writes Press, 2016, 325 pages, $16.95), Vrai Stevens Lynde — the “Vrai”…
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Ben-Hur’s long history is captivating

Some authors and critics sniff at best-sellers. I suppose the idea is that a novel appealing to so many thousands…
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Hillbilly Elegy author can’t shake the label

“Southern Appalachia is a region about which, perhaps, more things are known that are not true than any other part…
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Books about the American South will delight

Let’s go exploring. More specifically, let’s explore the American South.
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A vow to open a few more books

New Year’s resolutions and I make for poor company. Like many reading this column, I have in the past made…
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Books from different ends of the spectrum

Opposites attract, so the old saying runs. We’ve all known friends, husbands and wives, and lovers who match this adage,…
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Book about artist is itself a work of art

In mid-October I attended the second lecture of three at my local library on the Italian artist Caravaggio (1571-1610). A…
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From cradle to grave: books for growth and health

Visit any bookshop or library and you will find loads of books telling you how to live a better life,…
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A fresh look at the life of Evelyn Waugh

Fifty years ago this past spring, on Easter Sunday, Evelyn Waugh died of a heart attack in his home in…
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A mystery tale with a canine hero

This is a delightful book and I am confident that it will be judged one of the best books of…
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Local bookstores should be celebrated, supported

In My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers Inc., 2012,…
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It’s OK sometimes to just take a dip

Of course, we’re intended to read from cover to cover many books — novels, histories, biographies, and more. It would…
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You might enjoy a visit to Broken Wheel, Iowa

One of the great joys of reading occurs when we bump into a book by an author we’ve never heard…
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This is historical fiction well worth a read

Nearly 20 years ago, while browsing the shelves of the Haywood Country Public Library, I came across a collection of…
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Searching for the meaning in a grueling trek

Recently, I attended “Coffee With the Poets” at City Lights Bookstore and heard the poet, Newton Smith, read and discuss…
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Coming to grips with her own image

Among Americans the two most egregious social stigma are smoking and obesity. We relegate smokers to sidewalks and rooftops when…
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A reviewer must learn to roll with the changes

Have you ever experienced one of those moments when you look at what you are doing and where you are…
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Sorry, but Bob Dylan didn’t deserve the Nobel

One moment, please. To ward off the brickbats, cudgels, stones, dirt clods, and rotten tomatoes sure to come my way,…
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A story about coping with loss

Sometimes loss and death give little or no warning of their arrival. The doorbell rings at two in the morning,…
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Presidential power grows at an alarming rate

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will…
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