Book Review VOLUME 2, ISSUE 1
F R E E
NEW AND OF INTEREST
Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms and the Minivan A must-read for every parent! Page 5
Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book I find your lack of folds disturbing. Page 9
Aftertaste: A Novel in Five Courses
The Mysteries of Life
By Julian Barnes Knopf, $23.95, 176 pages Check this out! I truly cannot remember any other book good and evil, heroes and villains, guilt and that contains so many acute observations innocence, ambition, power, justice, revowhich made me sit back, smile in surprise lution, war, fathers and sons, mothers and and nod approvingly of their wisdom. An daughters, the individual against society, example: “This was another one of our success and failure, murder, suicide, death, fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like God. And barn owls.” Literature. Look at our parents – were they It’s the “And barn owls,” a reference to the stuff of Literature? At best, they might the poetry of Ted Hughes, that makes the aspire to the condition of onlookers and bysecond quote ring; the perfect wry twist standers, part of a social backdrop against like Harry Lime’s famous observation in The which real, true, important things could Third Man that all the Swiss have produced happen. Like what? The things Literature in 800 years of peace and democracy is the was all about: love, sex, morality, friendship, cuckoo clock. But that is the art of a Graham happiness, suffering, betrayal, adultery, See SENSE, page 15
Curl up with this book and a good glass of wine. Page 10
Time and Chance A sensitive exploration of the common desire for a second chance at life. Page 11
59 Reviews INSIDE!
Thrillers & Suspense
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Northwest Angle By William Kent Krueger Atria Books, $25.99, 357 pages Check this out! William Kent Krueger is a new author to this reviewer and his recent release Northwest Angle was a pleasure to discover. If you read the inside jacket of this book, you might conclude that it contains the horror and suspense of a Stephen King novel. That’s not an accurate portrayal. Here’s the gist of the plot: a close extended family takes a houseboat vacation on the massive and remote Lake of the Woods located on the border between the U.S. and Canada. They are caught off guard by a destructive storm that sweeps the family apart, dumping Cork and his adult daughter Jenny on a remote island. During Jenny’s search for anything to help them survive, she discovers a cabin that is also a fresh grisly crime scene. In the midst of the cabin she discovers a live Native American baby boy. Immediately, Jenny, Cork and, later, the rest of their family are hunted by a killer who wants the child at all cost. Krueger’s characters are distinct and add depth to the plot, especially some of the older Native Americans he inserts in the story. He cleverly includes one completely unexpected twist. This book is difficult to put down. Reviewed by Grady Jones Headhunters By Jo Nesbo Vintage, $14.95, 272 pages Check this out! Jo Nesbo has departed from his series of Inspector Harry Hole mysteries to bring his fans Roger Brown, a corporate headhunter. In Headhunters, Nesbo takes his readers into the life of the successful, top-of-hisgame Roger and his lovely wife, Diana, who owns a trendy art gallery. On the surface, the two lead impeccable and enviable lives and move around in all the right circles. But Roger Brown is also an art thief who sells his loot to finance the struggling gallery and opulent
lifestyle. Always looking for his next client — and theft — Diana introduces Roger to Clas Greve. Not only does Greve fit the profile for a high-profile CEO job, but he also has inherited a precious painting thought to be missing since World War II. Roger’s game is clicked up a notch as he realizes Greve could be the solution to personal and professional problems. Or is he? Nesbo is a master of the twistingturning plot. He doesn’t disappoint in Headhunters. Although the end brings the story to a neat finish, throughout the book readers will be amused, puzzled and entertained in this latest Norwegian adventure from Nesbo. Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey Assumption: A Novel By Percival Everett Graywolf Press, $15.00, 272 pages Check this out! Imagine, you’re a fish on a hook. You swim away, you feel yourself being reeled in – you get some slack and feel as if you’re getting away. It’s a slow, long process, and the truth is that no one knows, not the fisherman and not yourself how it will all turn out. You are the fish. Percival Everett is the fisherman. I won’t ruin it for you but I’ll tell you this much: the battle is fierce. Assumption is three separate stories and also one single narrative about Deputy Ogden Walker, a New Mexico deputy sheriff, and three seemingly unrelated cases in which he’s involved. Look for the clues if you’d like, but you probably won’t understand them until you’re mounted on a plaque in the writer’s den. The story is at times slow. It is at times aggravating in its seemingly hasty conclusions. Then again, what do you know? You’re just a fish. If this review seems horribly cryptic, I apologize, but it needs to be. I’ve already told you more than you need to know. It won’t matter though. It’s just a fly on the water waiting for you to bite. Read this book. I’d like to have some company up here on this wall. Reviewed by Albert Riehle
Half-Past Dawn By Richard Doetsch Atria Books, $25.00, 368 pages Check this out! Best-selling author Richard Doetsch last thrilled readers with The Thieves of Darkness and the amazing 13th Hour. In Half-Past Dawn, he delivers a whole new meaning to the term “thriller,” providing shocking revelations and realizations at the end of almost every chapter. Readers will be left wondering (and dreading) what will happen next, and be physically unable to stop reading. Jack Keeler wakes up one morning to find that there are many things wrong with the world. He has a strange wound over his right eye that has been hastily and badly stitched together, yet he has no memory of being injured. There is also a strange and intricate tattoo on his forearm – written in an un-
Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 2
known script – which he has no recollection getting. He does not hear the sound of his beautiful wife or his happy twin girls. His house is all too quiet. And then he finds the newspaper with the headline NEW YORK CITY DISTRICT ATTORNEY JACK KEELER DEAD. Now he must find out what happened to the love of his life and his children, and learn why the world thinks he’s dead. Doetsch is looking to change this expected dynamic in Half-Past Dawn, providing unpredictable plot twists and startling discoveries. In The 13th Hour, Doetsch used a device that seemed fantastic in nature; in this novel, he takes on the human mind and memory – our most important asset – and yet when we start to doubt it, reality begins to be questioned. Stories this elaborately conceived usually have a weak ending or cop out in some way; not so with Half-Past Dawn. Doetsch has done his homework and research, linking with an Asian people out of legend, to present an incredible story that will leave one wondering until the very end. Reviewed by Alex Telander
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IN THIS ISSUE Mystery.........................................2 Thrillers & Suspense.....................2
EDITOR IN CHIEF Ross Rojek firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Jackie Hill Tulsa City-County Library email@example.com
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Biography & Memoir.....................4 Mind, Body & Fitness....................5 Teen Scene.....................................6 Kids’ Books...................................7 Picture Books................................8 Tween Reads.................................9 Fiction......................................... 10 History & Current Events...........12 Romance.....................................13
FROM THE PUBLISHER Happy New Year! The Tulsa City-County Library is busier than it has ever been. We experienced 3.8 million visits last year (this is more than all Tulsa-based professional and minor league sporting venues, music halls and cultural institutions combined). Additionally, more than 1 million times people logged on to our public computer terminals and accessed our Wi-Fi network. Individuals also checked out more than 5.7 million books, e-books, DVDs and other items through one of our 25 locations. This is proof that America’s long tradition of freely providing and offering access to the world’s ever-growing body of information is alive and well in Tulsa County. The library also hosted more than 2.2 million virtual visits through the library’s website. All of these services remain the best bargain in town, as they are zero cost to access and are provided by extremely nominal, on a per family basis, property assessments. At the center of our library system is the Central Library, with more than 400,000 visitors last year alone. At almost 50 years and counting, the building is starting to show its age in many unhelpful ways, which include equipment breakdowns and lack of adaptability when it comes to new technology. Thus the library has embarked on a plan to significantly renovate the space. It will be a year in the planning and a year in the constructing. I hope you will avail yourself of the many community meetings we will hold this year to help us reimagine the space so that it better serves the community for the next 50 years. Best regards,
Tulsa City-County Library CEO
The Tulsa Book Review is published monthly by 1776 Productions, LLC. The opinions expressed in these pages are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Tulsa Book Review or 1776 Productions advertisers. All images are copyrighted by their respective copyright holders. All words ©2011, LLC.
Home, Garden & DIY................... 14 Popular Culture........................... 15 Science Fiction & Fantasy............ 15
Com ing Up!
Celebrate Black History Month with actor and author Hill Harper when he comes to Tulsa to receive the 2012 Sankofa Freedom Award on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. at the Rudisill Regional Library. Harper portrays Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on the CBS drama series CSI: NY. His books include The Conversation: How Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships and The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in its Place.
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Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot By Guy Magar Sea Script Company, $18.95, 312 pages Hollywood memoirs are always a fun read, but even better when they have something to them. Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot is the story of Guy Magar, both his professional life and his and his wife’s battles with cancer. It covers all of the usual bases of his career, from his start in Egypt to how he got his first job, as well as his career at this point. Interspersed with that is his wife Jacqui’s and his battle with cancer, and how they not only survived it, but how they threw it into remission. It’s a great read. It has a lot of incredible tips for those interested in the business, especially how to get into it, and is a mustread for that alone. It also follows the love of a man and a woman, and how that love allowed them to overcome their bouts with cancer, her leukemia followed by his prostate cancer. Although it can get a little melodramatic here and there, it makes for a very interesting and very touching read. If you only read one Hollywood memoir this year, this has to be it. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim Zelda, The Queen of Paris: The True Story of the Luckiest Dog in the World By Paul Chutkow Lyons Press, $22.95, 212 pages Check this out! In the era of Marley and Me and the dozens of imitators who jumped onto the dog memoir bandwagon, this gem stands out. The homeless canine in question is an Indian Pi dog (short for pariah), a breed indigenous to India the way a dingo is indigenous to Australia. While author Chutkow worked as a journalist in New Delhi, he and his wife were
won over by the persistent pooch who kept showing up at their back door. Eventually Zelda, named after the famed but outrageous wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, becomes part of the family. As she travels the world with the Chutkows, Zelda makes a notable impression wherever she goes. Zelda is neither goofy nor bratty, but she has an oversized personality and panache to spare. Over the years, she becomes a connoisseur of French food, a burglar catcher, a predictor of earthquakes and an overall celebrity. Along with Zelda, Chutkow introduces the reader to a host of other intriguing characters, such as Sheela, the Indian housekeeper; Punjab Singh, the taxi driver; as well as Mother Theresa and Jack Hemingway. This slum dog who rises above her humble beginnings will win over even the most cynical reader. Reviewed by Leslie Wolfson Einstein on the Road By Josef Eisinger Prometheus Books, $25.00, 280 pages Check this out! The image of Albert Einstein possesses a charisma that charms the viewer, whether or not one understands his science theories. His appeal and warmth radiate from his inherent gentle simplicity and basic morality. This benevolence and pacifism are reflected in the excerpts from Einstein’s travel diaries. Josef Eisinger knits together the trip itineraries and comments that were recorded by Einstein in his travels throughout the world from 1921 to 1933. Escaping from the political unease in Germany in the aftermath of World War I, Einstein accepted a speaking tour to Japan. On this journey, the ship stopped in Singapore and several ports in China. The voyage on the return to Germany made stops in Palestine and Spain. In the mid-1920s, Einstein and his wife, Elsa, visited Argentina and Brazil. The
travelogue continues with ship passages to Cuba, Panama, Pasadena, England, parts of Europe, and finally the flight from Germany to Princeton. The author presents an excellent concise biography of Einstein and vividly describes the history behind the hostile atmosphere that erupted in Germany. This memoir recalls Einstein’s perceptions of the different cultures encountered, and his interactions with heads of state and notable personalities in the humanities and sciences. The reading gives us another view of the genius who left his impression on our world. Reviewed by Aron Row Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness By Alexandra Fuller Penguin Press, $25.95, 235 pages Check this out! Alexandra Fuller earned a fast name for herself with Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. Her new book centers on the story of her mother, Nicola Fuller of Central Africa. Exuberant, teasingly disrespectful, it shifts her first book into the shadow. Nicola is exasperating and adventurous. For instance, she takes flying lessons and becomes airborne with a terrified instructor, a song on her lips and no idea how to land. The author, now living in the U.S., grew up in Africa. As she vacations in her homeland, now in the throes of shedding colonialism, she portrays her family struggling to make ends meet as economic and political bad times try to crush the good: her dad’s intriguing jobs that come to an end too soon; Nicola’s mental fragility; and her Scottish stiff upper lip at the tragic loss of one baby after another. When Fiddler on the Roof was shown in Japan, audiences saw it as a universal, not simply a Jewish story. Likewise, Nicola Fuller is everyone’s mom, and the family dynamic is fitting any place, even if the location is not as exotic as the lush gardens of Central Africa. Reviewed by Jane Manaster Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood By Emily W. Leider University of California Press, $34.95, 424 pages Check this out! In 1937, the public voted Clark Gable and Myrna Loy as King and Queen of Hollywood. Now, more than 70 years later, the name Clark Gable is still a familiar one, while Myrna Loy is much less so. Myrna is best remembered as the wife in The Thin Man series with William Powell, and from that role she came to be known in Hollywood as “the perfect wife,” a title she came to resent, especially since her four marriages ended in divorce.
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This is a must-read for anyone who is a Myrna Loy fan. The title of the book suggests that it is not a juicy tell-all, and it’s not; Myrna was a fiercely private person. She also, as the title suggests, was one of the few Hollywood stars who did not sleep around or create scandal. Although she was a dedicated student, she dropped out of school at 17 to begin her career as a dancer, performing in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater along with the then unknown Joan Crawford. From there, she began working in silent films, then talkies, and over her sixdecade career made 124 films in all. This enjoyable book is highly readable and extensively researched. Reviewed by Leslie Wolfson Eva Braun: Life With Hitler By Heike B. Görtemaker, Damion Searls (translator) Knopf, $27.95, 324 pages Check this out! It feels like every month new books come out about Hitler or the Second World War. I was honestly growing tired of it. And then it happened, someone took the time and energy to research a new angle of this time period. I love the new book Eva Braun: Life With Hitler. German historian Heike B. Görtemaker delves into the life of the woman behind the man. The book covers her life from her middle-class upbringing to her death by her husband’s side. The book really changes the image that most people have of Eva Braun and shows her in an new light. Görtemaker does a great job making the book unbiased and really about Eva as a person and not an icon. The book is well-cited with a plethora of amazing sources. Görtemaker does an astonishing job of never once entering into the thought process of Eva. People will never know the reason behind Eva’s motives, but we can study her actions and how her friends saw her to paint a better picture. The picture we are left with is as close as anyone has gone to the wife of Hitler. The translation of the book from German is well-written and never once feels weird or out of place in English. I think this is a great biography and a great collection of historical data. Reviewed by Kevin Brown
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Respecting Autism: The Rebecca School/ DIR Casebook for Parents and Professionals By Stanley I. Greenspan, Gil Tippy Vantage Press, $19.95, 226 pages Check this out! When you hear or read the word autism the first image that comes to your mind is likely the 1988 Dustin Hoffman-Tom Cruise movie Rain Man. Hoffman played Raymond, the autistic younger brother. Spill a container of toothpicks on a table, Raymond knew how many had been spilled. Go to Las Vegas, Raymond could count cards like a machine. It was a great movie. Except that story was not the whole story of autism. There are autistics like the fictional Raymond. One of the children in Respecting Autism has the ability to tell time in his head. Without a clock anywhere in sight he knows with pinpoint accuracy when it is 3:30. Equally, he can also memorize entire city maps and transit routes after a few minutes of study. Even with that however, although he knows his route and destination, when faced as a pedestrian with a stoplight, it may turn red to green to red to green five to 15 times before he will cross the street. There is much more to autism than just strange memory tricks, which only a few autistics have. Autism is a term that covers a range of disorders including, but not limited to, sensory sensitivities, inabilities to process knowledge into action or compulsive hand fluttering. The Rebecca School in New York attempts with considerable success to assist autistic children in developing and overcoming their disability. Its methodology is detailed in the case studies presented in Respecting Autism. After the child undergoes an initial therapy regimen, Dr. Stanley Greenspan assesses both client and treatment, and then makes his recommendations. I was truly saddened to read that Dr. Greenspan passed away not long before this book was released. He seems to have been a wonderful and intuitive practitioner.
The methodology is very much individually oriented and play-based; specifically, play is in accordance with Dr. Greenspan’s Floortime model. The client-child is given full respect for his or her individuality and creativity. Trainer-therapists follow the child’s lead, while attempting to increase circles of communication and expand skills. I truly believe that this book is a valuable addition to the shelves of both therapists, special education teachers and parents of autistic children. These are proven techniques and strategies for the former to put in place and for the latter to insist upon. This intriguing book provides methods for hope. Reviewed by Hubert O’Hearn Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan By Gabrielle Principe Prometheus Books, $17.00, 325 pages Check this out! As modern parents, we do everything we can to give our children a head start. We buy them loads of educational toys from birth and occupy their young minds with educational programming promising to make them into geniuses. We enroll them in rigorous academic preschools and drive them to numerous enriching activities each week. What if it turned out that all this well-meaning parenting did more harm than good? “If you wanted to design a way of life that was exactly counter to the needs of developing brains, you would invent something like modern childhood,” writes Gabrielle Principe in her groundbreaking book Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan. Children’s brains did not evolve for the modern human lifestyle, and as a result modern children face mounting problems. See CHILDHOOD, page 11
Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 5
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Lola and the Boy Next Door By Stephanie Perkins Dutton Juvnile, $16.99, 384 pages Check this out! Seventeen-year-old Lola has it pretty good. She lives in an old Victorian house in the Castro area of San Francisco with two loving fathers, gets to follow her passion of design by creating fun costumey clothes to wear every day and has a dream boyfriend: Max, a hot 22-yearold rock singer. Then one day the neighbors move back in to their house after being gone for two years, and she must face Cricket Bell, the very cute and talented guy who broke her heart. Isn’t she over him now? Did he ever care for her — and could he still? Author Stephanie Perkins crafts another utterly charming tale of young love, complete with quirky, delightful characters. After her debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss, her second book doesn’t disappoint: in fact, it even brings back Anna and St. Clair from that book as Lola’s co-workers at a movie theater. The plot devices in this book are similar to those of the first, but Perkins can be forgiven for that because her stories are just so fun to read. Plus, those who live in the city (or just like to visit a lot) will enjoy all the great references to San Francisco. Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim The Iron Knight By Julie Kagawa Harlequin, $9.99, 386 pages Check this out! If you have not read any of the Iron Fey series, you definitely will want to start. Meghan is now queen of the Iron Fey and has been parted from her beloved Ash, who would die living in the constant presence of iron. Ash makes a vow to find a way to return to Meghan and takes the reader on his journey to become human. Julie Kagawa has outdone herself in The Iron Knight, and this is by far the best book
in the series. Ash and Puck are once again journeying together and balance the fine edge of their past friendship and the vow Ash has made to kill Puck. Their bantering is entertaining as always, but the reader also gets to see a more serious side of Puck. Favorite characters, such as Grimalkin, once again make appearances as the story would just not be complete without them. The best thing about this book is that it’s full of twists and turns. Just when one thinks they have figured things out, there is a new surprise. This series is enchanting, and this book is definitely not to be missed. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki The Girl of Fire and Thorns By Rae Carson Greenwillow Books, $17.99, 432 pages Check this out! Elisa is the chosen one. The purpose of the chosen is to serve her god and to fulfill her destiny. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a fantasy novel that drew me in from beginning to end. It is probably one of a very few young adult fantasy novels that I actually have enjoyed. I love the whole purpose of this novel and the purpose of the chosen. Elisa may seem to not fit the title, but as she continues her journey, she learns and figures out the destiny she needs to be fulfilled. What I found really different and interesting in this novel is the Godstone that Elisa bears. Her connection with this Godstone that lives with her helps her when she senses danger. The Godstone is much more powerful than I thought it would be when I first encountered it in the story. Throughout the novel, you can really see how much Elisa has grown and how noble and intelligent she has become. She lives up to the titles she bears. The love interests are indescribable and fascinating. It is a great addition to Elisa and the novel itself. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a superb fantasy novel. Those who like YA fantasy, adventure and romance, should read this novel. Reviewed by Ivy Leung
Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 6
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White Water: Inspired by a True Story By Michael S. Bandy and Erick Stein Candlewick Press, $16.99, 32 pages Check this out! White Water tells about an AfricanAmerican boy living in a time of segregation. The boy and his grandmother ride a bus to town. When the bus arrives, he runs to the fountain for a drink, as does a white boy. The white boy drinks from the fountain marked “White”; the African-American boy drinks from the fountain marked “Colored”. The water is nasty and gritty and he stops drinking, but the white boy continues to drink. Surprised, the African-American boy surmises the “white” water must be cool and refreshing. He decides he must have some, but his grandmother stops him. Eventually his curiosity leads him back to the “white” fountain. The water tastes just as bad as the water in the “colored” fountain. A white woman scolds him, and he falls to the ground, where he spots a single pipe between the two fountains. The water is exactly the same. “The signs over the fountains had put a bad idea in my head,” he concludes. “But they were a lie. If they weren’t real, what else should I question?” From this experience the young boy learns that he can do anything. This book is well-written with moving illustrations. Reviewed by Susan Roberts Hooper Finds a Family: A Hurricane Katrina Dog’s Survival Tale By Jane Paley HarperCollins, $15.99, 144 pages Check this out! Hooper loves his family, but when Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, they have to leave him behind as they flee to safety. Now Hooper must take care of himself and get used to a brandnew way of life. He tells his own dramatic rescue story in author Jane Paley’s book, Hooper Finds a Family, based on a true story. Chapter book readers will enjoy this tale of bravery and survival.
Dog lovers of all ages will root for Hooper as he travels to New York and triumphs over adversity. Hooper’s narration is funny and moving. He can communicate with other animals and includes these conversations in the story. He tells about his experience in an animal shelter where he spends time recovering after being sick. Kids will identify with Hooper’s feelings – fear of the unknown when he is left alone, nervousness at being the new dog on the block and happiness when he meets new human best friend Brian. During his journey, Hooper socializes with a helpful otter, a territorial snake and a hungry hawk. Paley and Hooper (yes, he is real!) support animal services, including Labs4rescue, the organization that brought them together. Enjoy the photos of real-life Hooper and his family. Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin The Dragon’s Child: A Story of Angel Island By Laurence Yep, Kathleen S. Yep Harper, $5.99, 160 pages Check this out! Ten-year-old Gim Lew Yep hardly knows his father, who has been gone living in America for most of Gim Lew’s life. He only knows life with his mother and sisters in his small village. He works hard to overcome a strong stutter and the handicap of being left-handed. His brothers have already moved away. When his stranger-father arrives, the village celebrates. Then Father announces Gim Lew will go to America with him. His father tells him he must pass a hard test to get into America and training begins. Family secrets are revealed, and Gim Lew learns much on his journey. It is hard to find well-written historical fiction that teaches and fascinates young readers. Laurence Yep is an engaging storyteller, and his work with niece Dr. Kathleen S. Yep gives parents and teachers a wonderful option for teaching. Based on records from Angel Island, journals and conversations with his father, Laurence Yep weaves a tale of his father’s journey from China to
America that has a strong, authentic voice. Yep is a master storyteller and this book is no exception. Readers 8 and older will learn much and enjoy the process while they read this compelling story. Reviewed by Rosi Hollinbeck Ballpark Mysteries 3: The L.A. Dodger By David A. Kelly, Mark Meyers (illustrator) Random House Books for Young Readers, $4.99, 112 pages Check this out! Cousins Mike Walsh and Kate Hopkins go to Los Angeles for spring break with Kate’s father, a scout for the L.A. Dodgers. While leaving the airport, they discover Kate’s notebook is missing. The children find out Kate’s dad is having problems. Someone broke into his car, email at the Dodgers’ offices has been hacked, pages were taken from his clipboard and he’s had strange phone calls. He thinks he’s being followed by someone after his scouting reports. He worries he’ll lose his job if reports are stolen. Kate and Mike enjoy visiting places like Griffin Park and the La Brea Tar Pits, but notice someone who seems to be wherever they go. They believe he has been causing all the trouble. Can they trap their suspect and save the day?
David Kelly has written a book young boys and girls will enjoy. The characters are fresh, smart and authentic. The mystery is tense, but not too scary or graphic for kids ages 6 to 9. The book is full of interesting facts, so kids are learning, even if they don’t mean to. Best of all, there are four books about Mike and Kate, so youngsters will have more to read. Reviewed by Rosi Hollinbeck Squish No. 1: Super Amoeba By Jennifer L. Holm, Matt Holm Random House Books for Young Readers, $6.99, 96 pages Check this out! Squish is just your normal kid trying to get through school. He has a best friend who always talks him into giving him his lunch, another friend who can’t seem to stop talking (she’s a little oblivious), a bully that won’t leave him alone and detention for being late. All in all, Squish is your normal kid … except for the fact that he’s an amoeba. Fans of the Holms siblings’ other books will recognize Squish as a character in Babymouse 14: Mad Scientist. Squish carries all the charm of the Babymouse books, but perhaps with less arguing with the narrator and fewer pop-culture references. Here the authors have created a new cast that can See SQUISH, page 13
Announcing the book industry’s
Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 7
FIRST. . .
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Picture Books SNAP IT for additional book summaries.
Strega Nona’s Gift By Tomie dePaola Nancy Paulsen Books, $17.99, 32 pages Check this out! In Strega Nona’s village, eight feasts are celebrated over the Christmas season, ending with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6. On the eve before Epiphany, due to a legend, a special feast is prepared for the animals. The villagers eat simpler fare. Big Anthony has enjoyed the feasts so far, but on the eve of Epiphany, he is disappointed to be served plain pasta. Strega Nona’s animals get yummy dishes that make his mouth water, including a special dish of turnips stuffed with greens and ceci beans for her goat. Asked to carry the goat’s dish out after supper, Big Anthony eats it instead and gives the goat hay and oats. In revenge, the goat eats his blanket. Strega Nona has magic powers. That night she gives everyone in the village a wonderful dream about food that makes them awaken with full stomachs. Without his blanket, Big Anthony shivers all night and is hungry the next morning. At the Feast of Epiphany when Big Anthony gets the good-luck piece with the fava bean in it, he knows just what to do to make amends with the goat. DePaola’s whimsical illustrations have charm, and his story delights. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot By Margaret McNamara with illustration by Mark Fearing Schwartz & Wade, $16.99, 32 pages Check this out! Be prepared to read this book over and over again. It became an instant classic in our house, one that’s acted out daily and read before bed at least twice most nights. A creative and quirky take on the classic story of the three little pigs, The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot chronicles the story of young aliens Bork, Gork, and Nklxwcyz as they set off into the universe to find homes of their own. The first little alien claims a space rover as her abode. The second chooses to live
in a satellite orbiting Mars, while the third takes his time and constructs a sturdy yet simple home out of space rocks. Can the adventuresome little aliens survive on their own and stay safe from the Big Bad Robot? Apart from the name Nklxwcyz being impossible to pronounce (we just make up our own version!), this is an adorable story and a great read-aloud. My kids simply can’t get enough of it. They squeal with delight every time the Big Bad Robot delivers his ultimatum: “Then I’ll crack and smack and whack your house down!” The sound effects are fantastic, and the ending is really cute. Whether your favorite preschooler is into space, robots, aliens or simply enjoys a fun story, The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot is sure to become a new favorite. Reviewed by Jennifer Melville Amelia Bedelia’s First Field Trip By Herman Parish with illustration by Lynne Avril Greenwillow Books, $16.99, 32 pages Check this out! When Amelia Bedelia’s elementaryschool class takes a field trip to a farm, she wonders why they took such a long trip just to see a field. She wonders if Mrs. Dinkins’ green thumb is actually green and what color chickens’ eggs will turn if they are fed different foods. Just wait and see what happens when she’s asked to toss the salad. Learn all about farm life in this fun-to-read, laugh-out-loud volume. You won’t be able to wait to see what happens next! Herman Parish brings alive timeless Amelia Bedelia for a new generation of children with his new series. Parish revamps his Aunt Peggy Parish’s classic heroine, transforming her from a goofy grownup maid in Cameroon into a silly young schoolgirl who takes everything she hears quite literally. I love the changes. In fact, I enjoy the new and improved Amelia Bedelia even more than the original! My 6-year-old daughter adored Amelia Bedelia’s First Field Trip and has read it many times. She loved Amelia Bedelia’s funny comments and humorous predicaments. I loved reading it to her as well. The book is bright and colorful, the prose is easy to read aloud, and the heroine is unforgettable. We’ll definitely be checking out the
rest of Parish’s series. This picture book is a new favorite in our house! Reviewed by Jennifer Melville My Name Is Elizabeth! By Annika Dunklee and Matthew Forsythe (illustrator) Kids Can Press, $14.95, 24 pages Check this out! Elizabeth loves everything about her name: the way it looks, the way it sounds, the way her mouth feels when she says it. She’s proud of its length (nine letters!), and she loves that she shares the name with a queen. What annoys her, however, is that other people don’t seem to get it. Her grandfather calls her Lizzy; neighbors call her Liz and Beth; the crossing guard calls her Betsy, which, Elizabeth huffs, isn’t close to her real name at all. Fed up with all the unwanted nicknames, Elizabeth makes a final proclamation of her name, loud enough for everyone to hear — and everyone around her finally takes notice, giving her real name its due. My Name Is Elizabeth! will please any child whose name is frequently changed or shortened, as well as children who simply love their names and want to announce it to the world. The orange-and-blue illustrations are packed with details showcasing Elizabeth’s home and neighborhood and are filled with all the pleasures of late autumn. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell Princess Peepers By Pam Calvert Marshall Cavendish, $16.99, 40 pages Check this out! Princess Peepers loves wearing eyeglasses. She has glasses for all occasions and in all kinds of designs. Some look like butterflies, some sparkle. They come in many different colors to match her many outfits. She is a fashionista of eyeglasses and pretty content with who she is. Content, that is, until she begins to attend The Royal Academy for Perfect Princesses. The other princesses in training quickly make it clear that they don’t believe a princess who needs to wear glasses can be perfect, and they are not nice about it. Princess Peepers gets rid of all her eyeglasses, wanting to fit in, but her problems are not over. She isn’t where she thinks she is, isn’t with who she thinks she is and sure has trouble dressing herself. Most little girls feel like they don’t fit in some of the time. Little girls age four and up will like this sweet story with charming illustrations. Princess Peepers is a character who will remind them they don’t have to be just like everyone else – that it’s okay to be different. Reviewed by Rosi Hollinbeck
Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 8
Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes By Eric Litwin with illustration by James Dean Harper, $16.99, 40 pages Check this out! Pete the Cat is off on a new adventure: school. Always cool and casual, he makes his way to school while singing a song about his red school shoes, ready for whatever the day might bring. As he faces each new experience — going to the library, eating in the crowded lunchroom, playing on a chaotic playground, engaging in classroom activities — he doesn’t worry. Instead, he sings his school-shoe song and finds that “rocking in my school shoes” is a pretty good way to spend the day. This is Pete the Cat’s second shoe-singing adventure, and children who enjoyed his groovy take on white shoes will welcome another chance to sing along. A downloadable song is available on the publisher’s website, but the song is simple enough to be improvised without a computer being involved. Pete’s sly-eyed expression and easygoing attitude will inspire children to take life as it comes, coolly. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell Dinosaur Dig! By Penny Dale Nosy Crow, $15.99, 32 pages Check this out! “Ten dinosaurs digging … digging a very big hole. But what is the hole for?” asks Penny Dale in her colorful picture book. This book is a fun, exciting adventure for any young child who loves dinosaurs and especially those who love trucks too! My 3-year-old son loved this story, and it quickly became a new favorite. The cover portrays T-Rex using a frontloader, and that was enough to get him hooked. The sound words — “Crash,” “Thump,” “Scrape” — were great fun for him to say aloud. Not only did Dinosaur Dig! reinforce number skills, but it was also easy to read aloud and engaging as well. My 6-year-old, on the other hand, didn’t find it probable that meat-eating and planteating dinosaurs would be working with heavy machinery to create a swimming pool of all things. She loves dinosaurs, but the stories have to be factually correct. She wanted to know why the dinosaurs had trucks to begin with. If your very young dinosaur fiend doesn’t mind the goofy nature of the story, it’s a fun, colorful read. I’d recommend this story for ages 2-4. Any older and the plot is a bit silly. What little boy doesn’t like trucks, dinosaurs and dirt? Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
Tween Reads SNAP IT for additional book summaries.
Ivy and the Meanstalk By Dawn Lairamore Holiday House, $16.95, 227 pages Check this out! Dawn Lairamore has quite an imagination, and her young readers will be ever grateful she does. Ivy’s Ever After, Lairamore’s popular debut novel, left readers wanting more, and she has delivered just that with this imaginative romp for heroine Princess Ivy. She saved the kingdom of Ardendale once, but can she do it again? Her sidekick, dragon Eldridge, is along to help her get where she needs to go and fight off the bad guys. Ivy’s friend, stable-boy Owen, takes on a much larger role in this story, and readers will be aware of what just might be a budding romance. Is there more to come? Ivy faces tremendous obstacles from the very beginning of this magical fantasy. She has to travel far and wide as more and more obstacles are thrown her way. She is helped through her greatest test by the unlikeliest of heroes. This is a terrific book young girls (8 and older) will love. The characters are welldrawn, the story fun and compelling, and the writing clear and strong. In the frame of familiar fairy tales, readers will be able to relate easily to Ivy’s adventures. This book will charm young readers. Reviewed by Rosi Hollinbeck Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book By Tom Angleberger Amulet Books, $12.95, 165 pages Check this out! McQuarrie Middle School hasn’t been the same since the arrival of Origami Yoda, Dwight’s mysterious finger puppet and advisor who has saved the student body from pop quizzes and guided a few of the students toward romance. But a shadow has fallen over the school: Darth Paper. Now Dwight has been threatened with expulsion and Darth Paper’s malevolent ways have taken hold. Can Dwight’s friends rally behind him and Origami Yoda in time to save him from punishment?
The sequel to the uproariously delightful The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back picks up the story midstream a year later and explains what we’ve missed along the way. While the darkness sweeping the school is somewhat lighter than advertised, the quest to save the misfit Dwight is worthwhile, and the friendships forged in the first book are the real centerpieces of the tale. At first, I thought this one was fun, but not as much as the first book. And then, my inner Star Wars nerd kicked in, and I realized the brilliantly tongue-in-cheek parallels driving those moments in the story that I’d previously found abrupt and disjointed. Well played, Angleberger. I look forward to the trilogy’s completion. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Benjamin Franklinstein Meets the Fright Brothers By Matthew McElligott and Larry Tuxbury Putnam Juvenile, $12.99, 150 pages Check this out! Years and years ago, the Modern Order of Prometheus placed numerous great minds from history into suspended animation so that their wisdom would serve later generations in times of crisis. Benjamin Franklin awoke early and now works with his young friend Victor to keep the world safe from all manner of threats both bizarre and diabolical. But when vampires appear to have invaded Philadelphia, can Ben and Victor solve the mystery behind the vampires and that weird bike shop offering great deals? Joyous, silly and revisionist, Benjamin Franklinstein Meets the Fright Brothers is a terrific mix of history and storytelling, dropping in genuine tidbits of knowledge even as the authors unleash these historical icons into their weird little private sandbox. Ben is enthusiastic and goofy, like that uncle everyone seems to have; and Victor is a great protagonist, full of sparks but hardly perfect. His more close-minded moments in the book make him far more believable than most of the effortlessly perfect heroes of other young adult books. Missing the first book in the series didn’t hamper the read at all, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where Ben and Victor find themselves next. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 9
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Fiction SNAP IT for additional book summaries.
Wildflower Hill By Kimberley Freeman Touchstone, $16.00, 524 pages Check this out! Emma was a prima ballerina in London until an injury ended her career. Now she has returned home to Australia, where she discovers that her grandmother, Beattie, bequeathed her a sheep farm in Tasmania. Unsure of where she belongs in life, she heads to Wildflower Hill to restore the estate and eventually sell it. But during her renovations, Emma makes some startling discoveries that hint at her grandmother’s secret past. In the 1930s, Beattie found herself pregnant by a married man. The next few years of her life were a struggle, but she eventually found her own success by treading an unconventional path. Kimberley Freeman’s novel Wildflower Hill is an intricate tale of the secrets that can both divide and bind together a family. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the story, about a self-centered ballerina left to deal with family property, is just a piece of fluffy chick lit. This is a beautiful and intense story, one that will easily keep you reading late into the night. Freeman spins an intricate plot, full of characters that are easy to love or hate, with the lush backdrop of the Tasmanian wilderness. This novel is highly recommended. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Aftertaste: A Novel in Five Courses By Meredith Mileti Kensington, $15.00, 373 pages Check this out! Mira Rinaldi is a professional chef with a successful restaurant in New York City and a new baby. Unfortunately, the rest of her life is in shambles. Her husband is leaving her for the restaurant’s new mâitress d’ and trying to take complete control of their restaurant in the process. Soon, Mira finds herself on
her way home to Pittsburgh to stay with her father and try to rebuild her life. Meredith Mileti’s new novel Aftertaste tells an engaging story of a career woman living life in the fast lane, until things unexpectedly start to fall apart. Mira is a character that many professional women can identify with, trying to juggle a successful and growing business with the demands of friends and family. Her fiery Italian temper adds an irresistibly likeable flaw. This book has a subtle but appealing hint of selfrighteous chick lit mixed into an otherwise completely enjoyable serving of contemporary fiction. Mileti has a compelling writing style, adding liberal dashes of dry wit to an already rich and flavorful story. The characters are appealing, and the friendships and family bonds are inspirational and comforting. This novel is a wonderful way to while away a weekend. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Remember Me By Cheryl Robinson NAL, $15.00, 375 pages Check this out! Author Cheryl Robinson’s latest novel is about family, friendship and forgiveness. There are many issues touched upon by Robinson in Remember Me, such as interracial friendships, lying, betrayal and adultery. One of the most prevalent themes Robinson weaves through her novel is the underlying message of how a split-second decision can change lives. This is the story of two friends – one black, the other white – and it chronicles their relationship from teenage years through adulthood. The women become the closest of friends and later virtual strangers, as an act of betrayal destroys their friendship. There are several instances of life-altering consequences sustained as a result of poor choices. Subsequently, a tragic accident brings the two friends back together, compelling each of them to re-examine their past and explore the possibility of reconciliation. Remember Me has beautiful themes
interwoven throughout the story. However, there are a few instances where Robinson loses me. There are occurrences that are somewhat confusing. The story travels back and forth from past to present in the voices of Mia and Danielle, the two main characters. Regardless, Robinson does an excellent job in presenting the points of view of both characters, allowing the reader to understand the depth of their relationship. The strength and depth of their friendship is easily conveyed, and keeps the reader’s attention. Forgiveness is central to this story and definitely makes for an enjoyable read. Reviewed by Jennifer Ochs The Wounded Heart: An Amish Quilt Novel By Adina Senft FaithWords, $12.99, 285 pages Check this out! Readers will be easily drawn into Senft’s appealing story of a young woman facing multiple major challenges in her life. In a culture where traditions, norms and expectations are clearly defined, she is torn between controversial decisions that leave
her with no apparent alternatives. Senft draws the story out, detailing the heart of moral dilemmas that could be, in other contexts, faced by any person in any culture; you don’t have to be religious, much less Plain, for the conflicts to hit home. But the young woman seeks desperately to do the right thing, and unexpected twists occur that will both surprise and engage the reader. Senft is intimately acquainted with the Plain lifestyle, and her knowledge shines through in her reading. Followers of the Amish-life genre will settle into her comforting descriptions and Pennsylvania-German language references, and new readers will have an excellent start in the world of buggies and quilts. The book ends with a unique feature – instructions for assembling a quilt square of your own. If you are looking for a quiet, heartwarming read, this is a wonderful place to begin. Reviewed by Andrea Huehnerhoff Girls in White Dresses By Jennifer Close Knopf, $24.95, 292 pages Check this out! No matter how American society changes, it seems that there will always be pressure for women to get married and start a family. Isabella, Mary and Lauren are three grown women who are definitely starting
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Jan. 23-March 29
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Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 10
to feel that pressure as their lives turn into an endless cycle of weddings and bridal showers for their friends. But they have their own lives to deal with too. As these three women struggle with their careers and relationships, readers will be pulled deep inside their private circles, comforted with the fact that not everyone has a detailed life plan, a perfect job and an ideal boyfriend. Jennifer Close’s new novel Girls in White Dresses reads like a series of short stories that women everywhere will be able to identify with on some level. Told in a roughly linear fashion but alternating between the viewpoints of the three main characters, as well as some of their friends, readers will find themselves laughing and crying along with these women as they experience the highs and lows of modern life. Close has a very intimate style of writing that is impossible not to like, and the personal touches throughout make every chapter utterly believable. Reviewed by Holly Scudero The Lantern By Deborah Lawrenson Harper, $25.99, 387 pages Check this out! Caught up in a whirlwind romance, Eve moves into a large, grand old house in France with her lover, Dom. They’re charmed with each other, the gorgeous countryside and all the curious details of the property, which presents new wonders to them every day. But soon after they settle in, odd occurrences start rattling Eve’s sense of security. A writer, she begins researching the previous inhabitants of the house, a family whose blind daughter became a famous perfumer but then disappeared. Eve makes a new friend who tells her bits and pieces about Dom’s ex-wife, whom he refuses to talk about, and the details worry Eve further, even as Dom retreats into himself. The Lantern alternates between the story of Eve and the older story of Bénédicte, whose sister left the home to become the perfume maker. Bénédicte is struggling to keep the family’s property afloat, even as her parents die, others who had lived and worked on the estate move away, and her
complicated brother also leaves but still causes her distress. Events in the present mingle with events of the past, and Eve and Dom must come to terms with each other and the dark secrets of their estate. The Lantern is overall a satisfying gothic tale that owes a debt to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim Time and Chance By Alan Brennert Tor, $14.99, 400 pages Check this out! In theory, Time and Chance is a sci-fi/ fantasy hybrid. In practice — as with the best examples of literary science fiction (Niffenegger’s Time Traveler’s Wife, Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale) — it exceeds the limitations of that classification. There’s no dystopian future here, no post-apocalyptic alternate reality to terrify the genre-phobic. Simply, Time and Chance is an exploration of Robert Frost’s “road not taken.” During a Broadway production of Brigadoon, successful but lonely New York actor Richard Cochrane tanks on stage when he hears a voice nobody else can. When his mother dies shortly after, Richard returns to the sleepy New Hampshire town he left 13 years before, giving up the woman he loved and his chance for a family to pursue his dream. Only, in a parallel universe, Richard never left. He became a frustrated insurance broker known as Rick, whose family now teeters on the brink of destruction. The two men’s lives, once separated by time and chance, mysteriously intersect, and each is given the chance to follow that other path. Brennert is best known for his book-club staple historical fiction Moloka’i and Honolulu. Written 20 years ago, Time and Chance takes readers not back into the past, but sideways into a parallel present. The journey is just as satisfying. Reviewed by Megan Roberts Purgatory By Tomás Eloy Martínez with translation by Frank Wynne Bloomsbury Press, $17.00, 288 pages Check this out! Even readers who have consumed a steady diet of South American literature since the boom era may find immense pleasure in reading Tomás Eloy Martínez’s last novel. It’s a gut-wrenching tour de force. Purgatory revolves around Emilia Dupuy and her husband, Simon – two newlywed
cartographers who are torn apart by the Argentinean military regime of the 1970s. Either by malice or accident, Simon joins the ranks of the “desaparecidos,” one of the many thousands who disappeared during this turbulent era. Now living in New Jersey and exhausted by years of searching for Simon, Emilia is surprised to find her husband at a local café, looking exactly as he did on the day he disappeared. Is this encounter for real or is Emilia being haunted by her memories and desires? Martínez gives no easy answers to the central mystery, preferring to peel back, layer after layer, each moment that leads to Emilia and Simon’s separation and reunion. The novel travels back and forth between the past and the present, with casual cameos from a Nazi pseudo-scientist, Spanish royalty and even Orson Welles. Disguised as a spectral romance, Purga-
tory is really a lamentation for the missing and for those left behind. It is a brilliant, bittersweet narrative that keeps a reader up at night long after the last page has been read. Reviewed by Rachel Anne Calabia CHILDHOOD, cont’d from page 5 Mental and physical disorders abound. Children’s environments have changed dramatically over the last few decades, creating a breed of sedentary child raised indoors and surrounded by electronic games and TV screens. It shouldn’t be any wonder that they’re failing to thrive. If you truly want to give your child the best possible childhood, learn how their brain works and how to design a school, home and living environment that helps rather than hinders child development. As a parent, I’m definitely guilty of overparenting. This book opened my eyes and changed how I approach parenting. I learned so much and cannot recommend this book enough. Your Brain on Childhood is an absolute mustread for every parent! Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
PRESENTS ... MATT BONDURANT Monday, Jan. 16 7 p.m. McNellie’s Pub Sidebar CHEF First and Elgin GABRIELLE HAMILTON Thursday, Jan. 26 7 p.m. Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma 1304 N. Kenosha Ave.
For more information, visit booksmarttulsa.com or call 918-697-9042.
Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 11
MAUREEN STANTON Tuesday, Jan. 31 7 p.m. Philbrook Museum of Art 2727 S. Rockford Road
History & Current Events SNAP IT for additional book summaries.
The Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1941-1956 By Samuel Beckett (author); George Craig, Martha Dow, Dan Gunn, Lois More Overbeck (editors) Cambridge University Press, $50, 745 pages Check this out! In 2009, the first volume of Beckett’s letters was published. This covered the period of 1929-1940. The second volume, with two more to follow, covers 1945-1956 (he didn’t write any letters during World War II). This period covers the years when Beckett created his best-known works including Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable and Waiting for Godot. This is the period where he moves from being a poet and novelist to being a dramatist, to being unknown to being internationally known, to suffering tremendous privations in Paris after the war, to finally making money for his art as he turns 50. In this second volume, the bitterness of the letters in the first volume disappears, but not his righteous anger. Beckett is notorious for being against formal literary criticism, reticent and antiexplanatory toward his own work (“If by Godot I had meant God I would have said God, and not Godot. That seemed to disappoint him greatly.”). Yet the letters are interesting and helpful to both Beckett enthusiasts and those who want to know how a literary genius perceived himself (self-effacing and even with mockery). With the Beckettian tang of simple, strong language without pretentions, the letters show his rigorousness as a writer, even as he writes his minimal and often bleak letters trying to collect money, get published, get produced. Reviewed by Phil Semler Arguably: Essays By Christopher Hitchens Twelve, $30.00, 798 pages Check this out! I am not a man given easily to tears, particularly those shed for public figures, particularly when they die. Still, there can be exceptions reserved for those rare people
who truly have entered and affected my life. I still miss Graham Greene. I am ashamed to admit I cried more when Hunter S. Thompson pulled the trigger than when my father died. The two writers taught me about life and how to attack it with words. I know that I will cry when Christopher Hitchens dies. He has already lost his magnificent voice to esophageal cancer, which tells me the time is likely nearer than it is far. There is not in our time another journalist who so precisely chooses the right word, phrase, or example to illuminate his thoughts. His ability to accurately quote from memory great swaths of George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, various poets, scholars, and speeches is legendary. Equally legendary is his habit of writing everything in one draft. Many of us have tried that trick. Hitchens actually succeeds. Cry for him? I should hate him. These essays from the previous decade combine the best of Hitchens’ literary reviews, political commentary, and social observation. Even when I don’t agree with him -- on the Iraq War or his indifferent attitude towards Graham Greene -- I find that my mind is better for examining his rationale. Just with the book reviews, I can give Hitchens the highest praise that I know: Whether his opinion of the subject is good, bad, or indifferent, he makes me want to read the book. I am thankful for having lived in his time. Reviewed by Hubert O’Hearn Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire By James Romm Knopf, $28.95, 341 pages Check this out! Just hearing the name Alexander the Great strikes a sense of hero worship in many people. Alexander the Great, one of the most studied and heroic figures in ancient history, went out to conquer the known world. His candle burned hot and
bright, and as such it went out quickly. Alexander died young. There are many biographies about Alexander, and most briefly touch on the period after his death. It has been awhile since a book has been published that has just focused exclusively on the chaotic period after his death. In this work, noted historian James Romm takes us through the chaos, the fighting and the many brutal acts of betrayal after the death of Alexander. His trusted generals fought amongst each other, each either trying to keep the empire together or to create their own empire. This work is appreciated as it is rare to get a well-told story that covers this time period in such depth. Romm does an excellent job of going over each of the main characters, and their role and influence they had on the final outcome. In the end, Alexander the Great was still a presence on the throne as a ghost. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World By Lisa Randall Ecco, $29.99, 442 pages Check this out! In this book, Lisa Randall deals with many modern concepts of physics and introduces them to the reader with ease, using understandable words. A preliminary background in science is given with a discussion of Galileo, his concepts and theories. A brief history and discussion on molecules, as well as atomic theory is offered, up to the present day, which leads to a discussion in modern science and physics, specifically the Large Hadron Collider. The LHC is discussed in great length along with its hope to discover information on the origin of mass. Conflicting concepts of science versus religion are also briefly touched upon. Randall’s book is well-written and gives the reader a lot of information not only about science but the scientist as well. There are several illustrations, which are useful tools to further explain difficult concepts. Randall proves her writing skill in aiming this book for the general reader, without losing the complexity of the concepts. Her knowledge offers the reader a glimpse of the future to see the potential of science, in particular physics. The book makes for an enlightening and exciting read. Reviewed by Jennifer Ochs
Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 12
1812: The Navy’s War By George C. Daughan Basic Books, $32.5, 512 pages Check this out! An American sailor stands with all hands on deck while a skipper of the Royal Navy boards for inspection at the point of broadside cannons. The American admiralty looks askance while his nemesis hauls away his crewmen under the established tradition of British impressment. But as the man-o’-war sails away, American pride seethes until the day our country stands up and proves its worth. This vivid edition carries us back to the era of Madison when our nation quibbled over whether or not having a navy was a waste of money. Daughan depicts the political climate influenced by the Napoleonic wars, British impressment and imperialistic ambitions for Canada’s porous borders which blended into the tinderbox that ignited our second war with England. With a sailor’s heart, Daughan follows the action of blue water battles on the Great Lakes, deep water fusillades, besieged ports, the razing of our nation’s Capitol and the victory at New Orleans that forever earned international respect for American resolve. Expertly researched and illustrated, Daughan recounts the courage and skill of the men who gave birth to the United States Navy. Reviewed by Casey Corthron Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse By Jay Rubenstein Basic Books, $35.00, 448 pages Check this out! The crusades were some of the most violent causes ever fought. This pilgrimage to the Holy Land became a bloody siege that nearly brought forth its own apocalyptic consequences. Armies of Heaven breaks down the ins and outs of the first crusade and the four gory years that followed. The book starts with a short introduction to sum up the events that lead to the A.D. 1095 quest to Jerusalem. Rubenstein applies all of the legends, myths and truths from this time period and uses them to create a clear story of those events. The book is about as raw as the stories told. Rubenstein found a great way to tell an exciting story built on an extensive historical foundation. The back of the book is filled with notes from each chapter citing sources. The story is fast-paced, and this reviewer was surprised by how quickly the book was See ARMIES, page 14
this novel stand out from others of the genre. If you’re looking for some fresh historical romance, In the Arms of a Marquess is a novel you don’t want to pass up. Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
Romance SNAP IT for additional book summaries. What a Duke Wants By Lavinia Kent Avon, $7.99, 372 pages Check this out! Don’t judge this book by its cover, because if you do you’ll miss an enthralling and completely captivating historical romance. The cover’s description is stereotypical and cheesy. Reading it predisposed me to disliking this story. I’m so glad I gave it a second glance. Isabella Masters has a dark past seeped in secrets that could put her away for good. Although she was raised as a lady, Isabella hides from her pursuers as a lowly nursemaid. When her path unexpectedly crosses that of the Duke of Strattington, her safe existence turns on its head. The steaminess just doesn’t stop. The Duke promises to take care of Isabella and sets her up as his mistress, but her pursuers find her and threaten to expose her secrets. Can their love survive the avalanche of danger, mystery, intrigue and romance that threatens to either tie them together forever or tear them apart? Lavinia Kent’s What a Duke Wants is chock-full of interesting and lovable characters, unpredictable plot twists and passionate scenes so hot they threaten to burn up the page. I had never read any of Kent’s novels before and this was a fabulous introduction. I can’t wait to try another of her novels. What a Duke Wants captured my full attention from page one. I simply could not put it down. Regency Romance at its best! Reviewed by Jennifer Melville The Ideal Man By Julie Garwood Dutton, $26.95, 322 pages Check this out! While out jogging Dr. Ellie Sullivan witnesses the shooting of an FBI agent by a couple known as the Landrys who the FBI has been hunting for a long time. Speculation immediately abounds that Ellie may be able to identify the Landrys and this puts her life in danger, as all past witnesses have either mysteriously died or disappeared. Agent Max Daniels finds himself intensely attracted to Ellie and appoints himself as her protector until the Landrys can be caught. He also finds out that the Landrys are not the only ones who may mean Ellie harm.
The chemistry between the two is intense and will make the reader hold their breath to see when the two will finally cave and admit that they love each other. Garwood’s humor abounds and will leave the reader wanting to smile and laugh out loud at moments. The only disappointment is a side story involving Ellie’s sister that could have made a great companion book to this one; it is wrapped up too quickly and leaves the reader feeling unsatisfied. Still, this is a wonderful book for Garwood’s historical romance fans and contemporary romance fans. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki In the Arms of a Marquess By Katharine Ashe Avon, $7.99, 353 pages Check this out! Beautiful and witty Octavia Pierce is quite a catch. Like all society families, hers wants to see her happily married to a wealthy gentleman. It shouldn’t be hard, right? Lord Crispin meets all the requirements except one: he doesn’t set her heart on fire. The one thing Octavia’s family doesn’t know is that her heart was stolen seven years before by the handsome Lord Ben Doree … that is, before their lives were torn apart in an ugly storm of betrayal and hurt. When Octavia and Ben’s paths unexpectedly cross again, Octavia takes a leap of fate and enlists Ben’s help in getting to the bottom of a blackmailing scheme plaguing her suitor, Lord Crispin. Fate has other plans. Things quickly get steamy, but their hurtful past keeps reemerging and threatening to tear apart their blooming love. As far as Regency romance goes, In the Arms of a Marquess is entertaining and perfectly delectable. It took quite a while for the hero and heroine to romantically connect, but when they did it was worth the wait. The plot was unique and engaging, the characters were multidimensional and likable, and the passion was palatable. While a bit too political for some, I liked the multicultural flavor that makes
A Night to Surrender By Tessa Dare Avon, $7.99, 400 pages Check this out! A Night to Surrender is the first in Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series, which focuses on a seaside resort created strictly for unconventional ladies. Spindle Cove was founded by Susanna Finch, who sought to create a haven away from the uncompromising, violent and masculine elements of Regency England, so when Victor Bramwell storms into her utopia to build a militia, sparks fly in more than one way. From line one to the last, Dare’s trademark wit, warmth and way with characters are evident. Though the premise is a bit fantastic for the time period, once the story settles in there is little to complain about. The emotions and
Deadline: Jan. 31 Cash prizes are awarded. Entry forms are available at all Tulsa City-County Library locations or online at TulsaLibrary.org/friends. Sponsored by the Friends of the Tulsa City-County Libraries.
Tulsa Book Review • January 2012 • 13
the sexual tension between Susanna and Bram are intense and hot, and their verbal sparrings were highly amusing. The bevy of characters make this book full of promising future storylines, though it did take away from the main couple a bit. The only issue I did have was the conventional plotting. Susanna and Bram clashed in a battle-ofthe-sexes manner, and Dare didn’t quite lift them beyond the expected. Susanna’s utter surrender to Bram was also a bit disappointing, particularly when her feminist stance was so strong and unshakable in the beginning. A Night to Surrender is a fun and witty romp with great characters, and the next books promise just as much, if not more of Dare’s excellent writing. Reviewed by Angela Tate SQUISH, cont’d from page 7 have a new set of adventures. Of course, this is an introductory book, and most of the focus is spent on introducing the various characters. It’s a bit short on plot, but that should be remedied with future volumes. This should be a great crossover series, as it will appeal to both fans of the Babymouse series and new readers (especially boys) who were reluctant to pick up the pink graphic novels. It’s a promising start to a graphic novel series for younger readers. Reviewed by Alyssa Feller
Home, Garden & DIY SNAP IT for additional book summaries.
Betty Crocker Cookbook: 1500 Recipes for the Way You Cook Today By Betty Crocker Wiley, $29.99, 686 pages Check this out! For 60 years, home cooks have turned to the Betty Crocker Cookbook for recipes ranging from bread and muffins to cakes and desserts, to classic fried chicken and pot roast. Contained within the practical looseleaf binder are 1,500 recipes, including classics as well as hundreds of new ones that reflect the modern needs of society. Cooking can indeed be fast, flavorful and healthy, and there are plenty of options to choose from here. Also included are new sections, such as “Do It Yourself,” which discusses homemade jams and pickles, and “Breakfast and Brunch,” a central location for recipes for pancakes and other early morning favorites. Another useful new feature is photographic reference pages to help cooks identify anything unfamiliar, from vegetables to cuts of meat, to herbs and spices. As always, the recipes are meticulously tested to ensure optimum taste and ease of direction, and numerous color photographs are included that will surely make readers’ mouths water. No matter what you’re looking to cook, this delightful cookbook has something to offer. The new and updated 11th edition of this kitchen classic is destined to become a trusted favorite for a whole new generation. Reviewed by Holly Scudero The Foxfire 45th Anniversary Book: Singin’, Praisin’, Raisin’ By Joyce Green, Casi Best and Foxfire Students (editors) Anchor, $18.95, 528 pages Check this out! In order to escape the past, we must know it; in some cases, celebrating it is required. The Foxfire 45th Anniversary Book: Singin’, Praisin’, Raisin’ celebrates 45 years of the publication of Foxfire, a magazine put together by the Foxfire Center. The
book brings together former writers for the magazine and related books, and contains reprinted articles on locals, history, and how to build and raise things. Although put out by students, it has become part of the local Appalachian scene due to the knowledge it represents. For those interested in the simple good old days, this book provides plenty of proof that they were not always as good or as simple as we remember. It has articles on people that are old enough to know them well, told in their own words. Articles on bands and local tales are included, as well as how things were done. This is not only a great resource, but, as it delves into the past to see it through its own eyes rather than that of the current day, it makes for a really great read for anyone interested in where we have been and how we thought back then. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim Gluten-Free Makeovers: Over 175 Recipes – From Family Favorites to Gourmet Goodies – Made Deliciously Wheat-Free By Beth Hillson Da Capo Lifelong Books, $19, 294 pages Check this out! Diagnosed with celiac disease in 1976, author Beth Hillson’s doctor turned her loose with the fateful words: “Just avoid gluten.” This Julia Childs-inspired chef shuddered at the thought of naked burgers and plain potatoes and from that event found herself creating a gluten-free recipe book and wheat-free flour mixes. Her approach to gluten-free is living with, not living without. Look for alternatives, not at what you can’t eat. Be curious, Hillson advises, be imaginative, substitute boldly and have fun. One of the major benefits of this book is its section on substitutions for maintain-
ing not only a gluten-free diet but also an egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, corn- and oatfree, etc. meal plan. This is very helpful to the gastronome with more than one dietary need. It also includes a complete menu planner, a detailed guide on stocking a pantry and descriptions of the ingredients essential to the gluten-free pantry. This is not a quickfix to give a meal a superficial makeover, but rather a guide to learning to create delicious and gourmet wheat-free meals of your own. If you’re looking to gain an in-depth understanding of cooking without gluten, Gluten-Free Makeovers is an excellent go-to guide and resource to refer back to again and again. Reviewed by Axie Barclay Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes By Lisa Yockelson Wiley, $45, 513 pages Check this out! This book begs to be different. Though an excellent baking book, nothing follows the usual and accepted standards of a baking book. It is a beautiful, large-format book, perfectly suitable for the coffee table for guests to browse through its pages. The many full-page color photos are stunning with mouthwatering food examples. This book is not for the beginner, though a novice will learn everything about baking in the first 32 pages: ingredients, their role in baking, techniques, the baking process, terminology and equipment. The recipes are a snap to follow, but expect to spend some time on most. The author’s language and writing are great, and she precedes many recipes with extensive essays. Yet her poetic language often interferes with clear understanding and some instructions are ambiguous even to me (a seasoned baker). The recipe titles are a further problem: many are so convoluted as to be unclear of what you’ll try to accomplish (for example: A Nice, Untidy Torte, #2; Lemon Cake, Sublime and Divine; Lemony Sugar Wash With Glazed Lemon Threads; or The Don’t-Dispute-Your-Mother Cake). Some ingredients are hard to find, and you may also need to upgrade your baking equipment. The well cross-referenced index is excellent. Reviewed by George Erdosh From Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens By editors of Cook’s Country Magazine Boston Common Press, $29.95, 214 pages Check this out! Any America’s Test Kitchen cookbook I ever reviewed I found to be excellent, and this one did not disappoint. This cookbook, however, is a little different. No page-long discussion of test kitchen results for each recipe. Here the recipes came from individuals (grandmothers?) from all over the country. The brief paragraph-long head note gives a bit about the recipe and quotes from the recipe owners. The recipes range
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from easy to slightly complex, all rewritten for uniformity by the editors, easy to follow using readily available ingredients. Following the recipe is the short feature “Notes From the Test Kitchen,” which gives suggested changes to further improve the result. Before you undertake a recipe, read and follow this advice. The layout is very good, placing nearly all recipes on single pages for the convenience of the cook. Several full-page illustrations brighten the pages, and many thumbnailsized, black-and-white photos help you visualize techniques. Recipes range from Church Socials and Potlucks, Sunday Suppers, Comfort Foods, Breads, all the way through desserts and even preserved foods. The well cross-referenced index is excellent. Both novice and experienced cooks will find this volume useful. Reviewed by George Erdosh The Knitter’s Life List: To Do, To Know, To Explore, To Make By Gwen W. Steege Storey Publishing, $24.95, 320 pages Check this out! Every serious knitter knows there’s never enough time for everything. New patterns to make, new fibers to work with, new techniques to learn ... the possibilities are countless and the todo list endless, but that didn’t stop knitting enthusiast Gwen Steege from trying to compile them all together in one book, The Knitter’s Life List. This is definitely not your typical knitting book, but anyone who picks it up will find themselves inexplicably drawn to it. You won’t find page after page of patterns here. Instead, the pages of this book are filled with ideas to research on your own, from individual designers to exciting new yarns to specific patterns that are worth seeking out on your own. There are some valuable tips and techniques to be found here, as well as fascinating interviews with big names in the knitting world and tons of beautiful pictures and illustrations. The conversational tone used throughout makes this book very inviting for knitters of all levels of experience, while the wealth of information and ideas keep readers eagerly turning the pages to find out what’s next. Knitters of every stripe can find something to love here! Reviewed by Holly Scudero ARMIES, cont’d from page 12 finished. This work is a perfect blend of military and religious history, with some great inner politics on the side. It is a brilliant piece of work and would be the shining jewel to a historian’s shelf. Reviewed by Kevin Brown
Science Fiction & Fantasy
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Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes By Adilifu Nama University of Texas Press, $24.95, 180 pages Check this out! Comic books are still one of the biggest pop culture items in the United States. Comicbook movies regularly top the box office. Comic books have been a place to explore racial identities, racial politics, culture wars and political divides without raising awkward questions or a violent backlash. During the heights of the Civil Rights Movement, comic books took on a previously neglected topic, the issue of race and black superheroes. Adilfu Nama explores the world of black superheroes in the two main companies, DC and Marvel. Nama expertly explores the changing role that black heroes have played in the world of comic books – from powerful and ethnocentric, to the awkward and stereotypical. Marvel and DC have created some iconic characters, but they made some stumbles along the way. In the end they did a good job of exploring race relations in a time when that was a volatile topic. They presented it to young readers in ways that they could understand. The impact on young readers might not have been great; the writers knew what they were doing. Black heroes might not be around as much as they have in the past, but they will always have a role to play in the world of superheroes. Reviewed by Kevin Winter How to Write It: A Complete Guide to Everything You’ll Ever Write By Sandra E. Lamb Ten Speed Press, $18.99, 428 pages Check this out! Sometimes a reference book really can be all that. How to Write It does everything it can be to be a writer’s best friend, and accomplishes it rather handily. Contained within its covers are a number of templates
for different kinds of letters, as well as thoughts on what makes them problematic. Each letter is described in detail, and includes a number of tips on how to write the perfect letter, other writing topics and meticulous detail. By using the tips provided, writers can become better at their craft, regardless of whether that craft is in letters, blogs or communication in general. Although the writing does tend to be dry, making it come off as a textbook more often than not, that is the only major flaw of the book. Each section goes into detail about the common problems with writing, as well as suggestions on how to write better letters and blog entries. This is a very thorough treatment on how to write, and something anyone interested in bringing their A-game should definitely check out. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim SENSE, cont’d from page 1 Greene or a Julian Barnes – where other writers bleed detail all over endless pages, the great matadors say what is needed to be said, carefully yet with surprise. The story of The Sense on an Ending is intricately simple. Tony Webster, now retired and in his 60s reflects back on his life including the suicide of a school friend, Adrian Finn, who had taken up with Tony’s first girlfriend, Veronica. Complications arise. I hesitate to use the word “mystery” in connection to Adrian’s death for that word implies skulduggery, ominous figures slipping out of the shadows and people driving cars in dangerous fashion on rain-slicked streets. There is none of that here, but there is an absolute corker of a secret whose revelation is masterful. I dare not say too much, but the best surprises are the ones that were absolutely clear from the start. You won’t see them coming, trust me. The Sense of an Ending won the Man Booker Prize, but in the greater span of things, that really didn’t matter. What matters to me most as a reviewer and as a reader is that this is a book of great and witty truths, written by a genius of words. At the very least, this is the finest novel I have ever reviewed. Reviewed by Hubert O’Hearn
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Snuff: Novel of Discworld By Terry Pratchett Harper, $25.99, 398 pages Check this out! For most of the population, a jolly holiday in the countryside is just the ticket. But for city-born Commander of the Watch Sam Vimes, all that fresh air and nature really is just a bit much. The famed peace and quiet of the country is unexpectedly shattered when the body of a goblin girl is found, and all of Vimes’ considerable suspicions fall on the local magistrates, a body of highborn landowners who are for creating laws that they can comfortably perch above. Vimes is out of his element and his jurisdiction, but a true copper takes the law with him wherever he goes – even on vacation. As usual, Pratchett hits it out of the park with his latest Discworld installment, featuring the always pensive Vimes. In addition, Pratchett introduces young Sam, as well as saving a bit of the spotlight for Vimes’ street-wise butler Willikins, who is equally at home brandishing a pair of brass knuckles as he is with proffering a hand towel. The plot of Snuff goes hazy in spots and is sometimes overburdened with side characters that don’t do anything but brighten the landscape, but Pratchett’s insights into human nature are as keen and laugh-inducing as always. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz The Night Eternal By Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan William Morrow, $26.99, 371 pages Check this out! The Night Eternal is Book III in The Strain Trilogy. In this final installment, the Earth is experiencing nuclear winter with primarily darkness covering the planet, and only a couple of hours of sunlight daily. The main character, Ephraim Goodweather, is a scien-
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tist with the CDC, who continues to tackle the problem of the strigoi. Another important character, Vasily Fet, is a pest control exterminator who lends his expertise to Goodweather and puts together a network of resistant humans. The premise continues from Book I: a virus is spreading on Earth, turning people into vampires. Del Toro and Hogan attempt to meld the worlds of science, fantasy, myth and reality into one. However, it was not the most convincing of stories, mainly because in the mix of these concepts the traditional vampire lore is somewhat lost, so the storyline loses credibility. However, what Del Toro and Hogan do accomplish is a suspenseful, action-filled, quick read, leading the reader to want to turn the page and read on. In speaking of the will of the Master, “who understood the dark side of human nature completely, but not love,” in contrast to Eph, who states “this is love … it hurts – but this is love …” the intention of the authors is brought out. The story culminates with a moving scene between Eph and his son Zack. Del Toro and Hogan effortlessly portray vivid scenes of this fantasy world of vampire-monsters. Del Toro is known for directing such films as Blade II, Hellboy I and Hellboy II, Pan’s Labyrinth and most recently, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Hogan is known for his acclaimed novel Prince of Thieves. It would be interesting to see this collaborative effort transcend to the big screen, as many of the scenes depicted in this final chapter of The Strain Trilogy are written in classic Del Toro style. Reviewed by Jennifer Ochs
Meet Hill Harper WINNER OF THE 2012
Sankofa Freedom Award
Saturday, Feb. 11 10 a.m. Rudisill Regional Library 1520 N. Hartford • 918.549.7645
Hill Harper, an award-winning author and actor, will receive the 2012 Sankofa Freedom Award, given by the African-American Resource Center and the Tulsa Library Trust. The award, which consists of a $7,000 cash prize and an engraved plaque, is given biennially during Black History Month to a nationally acclaimed African-American whose life’s work addresses the complexity of cultural, political and economic issues affecting the African-American community. Harper will talk about his life and works, answer questions from the audience and sign books. Copies of his books will be available for purchasing. Since 2004, Harper has portrayed Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on the CBS drama series “CSI: NY.” For three consecutive years (2008-2010), Harper won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Hawkes. His books include “Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny,” “Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny” and “The Conversation: How Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships.” Each of his books concentrates on keeping an ongoing dialogue in order to face today’s serious social pressures. His latest book, “The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in its Place,” seeks to examine the debilitating relationship with money and wealth. Harper is the founder of the nonprofit Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, which provides underserved youth a path to empowerment and educational excellence through academic programming, college access skills and personal development. Additional sponsors of the Sankofa Freedom Award include Sally Frasier, Leslie and Jerome Wade, Williams Companies, Carol A. Ainsworth, Maxine E. Horner, Donald Horner Jr. and Millard Latimer Sr.