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It's that time of year, when everyone starts compiling lists. At Birds, the most important list of the year is the one of new books by authors who happen to follow this blog. We've got mystery writers and other novelists, self-help gurus, artists, a satirist, a poet,a French literature scholar and someone who writes in the young adult genre. We've even got a joyful CD. What more could anyone want? 
You'll recognize a few names, but I've read many of these books so am sure you'll hear more about all of them in the near future. 
Most books and the CD are available from Amazon through the link provided. If reviewed, I've provided the ranking. In some cases, authors also sell  books on their own websites and would prefer you buy directly from them.
Don't shop online? Then print this page and take it with you to your local bookseller for holiday shopping or your own reading pleasure. 



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Elaine Magalis
Elaine Magalis

Long-time Birds reader and blogger at Late Fruit, Elaine Magalis lives near the Canadian border in West Glover, Vermont. A writer, editor, art historian and docent at the Old Stone House in Brownington, Elaine taps into her interests in the first two installments of a series of "cozy mysteries" set in the mythical Shrubsbury, Vermont, the quintessential small New England village of lore.  


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The Body in the Butter Churn  
5 stars from Amazon!

A gem of a mystery! Elaine rolls history, the practice of art restoration, arts administration, Internet research and police procedure into a big knitting ball of a tale about an improbable murder in an idyllic locale. Follow her two would-be detectives as they track down a killer in a town ripped right from a Currier & Ives print. Reading this book is like taking a dip in a refreshing Northeast Kingdom quarry pool on a sweltering afternoon, without getting wet. 



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The Organist Who Wore Gloves 

Another great cozy mystery from Elaine Magalis, a perfect read for a cold winter night. In this tale, we learn much more about the two "detectives," Alex and Tasha Mulholland,  both of whom are experiencing trepidation over growing older. One is facing puberty and the other, old age. If you love Vermont, or just have a vision of how idyllic life might be in a slower-paced, less congested locale, you may be surprised to learn that ordinary people are less than perfect everywhere, even in Shrubsbury, Vermont, and especially to its south, in the nearly heathen Brattleboro. Can't wait for her third book in this series!



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Kathleen Scott and Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D.
Conversations with the Wise Aunt: The Secret to Being Strong as a Teenager and Preparing for Success as an Adult  
4.5 stars from Amazon!

Don’t you wish a wise relative would step in and help you raise your kids? Life-coach Dennis E. Coates and his wife, writer and blogger 
Kathleen Scottassume the roles of favorite relatives in this book and its predecessor, Conversations with the Wise Uncle. Coates and Scott say all those things you wish you could say easily, but can’t. Even better, they throw in the advice your kids don’t want to hear from you (of all people!).  What a blessing for a frazzled parent on your gift list! 


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Kathleen Scott
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Dennis E. Coates

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Ann McNeal
Ann McNeal
The Spaces Between  
5 stars from Amazon!

A closet poet for decades, Ann McNeal taught physiology at Hampshire College for 33 years while writing poetry published by small journals, including Peregrine, Paper Street, Equinox, and several anthologies, including On Retirement: 75 Poems (University of Iowa Press, 2007) and Solace in So Many Words (Weighed Words, 2011).

This collection of her work speaks the quiet language of New England backyards and woods. Using images from nature, her writing portrays subtle changes of weather, both external and internal. Observations on a quiet pond, mathematics lessons in grammar school, the poignancy of autumn, all lead to accessible yet profound meditations on life and aging. 



Bill Campbell

The Koontown Killing Kaper  
4 stars from Amazon!

I finally got a chance to meet the iconoclastic novelist Bill Campbell. His third novel, Koontown Killing Kaper, is making some waves, even in academe where it is popping up on syllabi for African-American and contemporary lit courses. Bill is one of the most literate writers you’ll ever encounter, but he hides his reading addiction well behind a near-perfect voice for satire, especially on any topic related to the black experience. If you like the book, he has a whole range of related merchandise on his website


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Theasa Touhy
Theasa Tuohy
Five O’Clock FolliesWhat's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway?  
4.5 stars from Amazon!  

Says Amazon:
In her brilliant debut novel, longtime daily journalist Theasa Tuohy captures the essence of what drives those who go into war armed only with a camera, notebook, and pen. At a time when women rarely dreamed beyond careers as nurses, teachers or secretaries and certainly not as news reporters, a tall, enigmatic redhead arrives in Saigon. She is an object of great interest to the male correspondents, one of whom reports she arrived at Tan Son Nhut Airport wearing high heeled bikini shoes. Few take her seriously as a reporter. To most, she is a trifle, a bobble, a lagniappe. Angela Martinelli survives a chopper crash, spends several days in the bunkers of the so-called Alamo Hilton during the siege of Khe Sanh, is captured briefly by the Viet Cong while trying to make her own way to the battle of Hue after being refused a hop on a military chopper because she isn't male, and finally is badly wounded when a jeepload of other correspondents are killed in Cholon, the Chinese quarter of Saigon. Her life, loves and struggle to prove herself chronicle the deterioration of the war, the strategic battles around the Tet offensive, and the conflict raging back home over the conduct of the war. Not since Graham Greene has anyone captured so well the tedium and terror of reporting on war.



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Pamela Chatterton-Purdy
Pamela Chatterton-Purdy 
and David Purdy
Icons of the Civil Rights Movement  

Some of you may be familiar with artist Pamela Chatterton-Purdy’s Icons of the Civil Rights Movement, a multi-media exhibit featured on this blog as part of a series of posts about civil rights. Using wood, oil paint and even gold, Pamela created 26 pieces of art commemorating milestones in the US civil rights movement or honoring its martyrs. Like religious icons, these panels tell a powerful story through images capturing the power and the dignity of those involved in the struggle.

The Icons have been exhibited at over 22 universities, art galleries, libraries, houses of worship, as well as at the Obama inauguration in 2008. As Pamela and her husband David, a retired United Methodist minister, traveled with the exhibit, they got a chance to meet and talk with some of their heroes, including Rep. John Lewis, the family of Viola Liuzzo, the father of a child killed in the Birmingham church bombing and one of the nine students who integrated the Little Rock schools in 1957. The Purdys also met “ordinary people who did extraordinary things,” Pamela says. These were the unknowns who marched, sat in, registered voters and did legal work for equal rights.  

Using eyewitness testimony collected over the course of their travels, the two created a large-format, hardcover art book featuring 22 of Pamela’s pieces and a narrative based on David’s historical research. Not only does Icons of the Civil Rights Movement: Connecting the Dots contains high-quality reproductions of Pamela’s work, the book includes exclusive interviews with people whose courage and commitment changed the course of history. 


You can purchase this book directly from the Purdys. Click on the title to link to their website.   


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A glimpse of several icons, used to illustrate a story published in 2008 about Pamela's work.

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Leigh Russell
Leigh Russell
Death Bed (2011 in UK, 2012 in US) 
4 stars from Amazon!

UK author Leigh Russell writes the very popular DCI Geraldine Steele police-procedural series. Leigh’s most recent book, Death Bed, hit UK bestseller lists a year before it was available in the US. She promises her next book, Stop Dead, will top all the previous Geraldine Steele mysteries in shock and complexity. Not an easy task! Stop Dead  will be published this month in the UK, but is available now for pre-order in the US at amazon.com. 

 




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Paula Dumont
Paula Dumont
Les convictions de Colette: Histoire, politique, guerre, condition des femmes 

French university professor Paula Dumont looks at 20th century French novelist Colette's views on women's lives, loves, and history in a book published this month, in France. Les convictions de Colette is not available from Amazon at this time, but can be purchased through the link above. 

Colette was a brilliant female writer, perhaps best known for Gigi, her scandalous novel about a young courtesan-in-training. Colette's own life was far more flamboyant than her literature. At 34, she began a very public romance with one of Napoleon's nieces. At 47, she seduced her teenage stepson. In the 1940s when she was in her 70s, she aided many Jews hiding from the Germans, including her own husband. At the same time, she flirted with Nazi occupiers. 

For more about Colette's life and work, see http://bit.ly/UEI60z. I look forward to learning  more about what drove this complex woman, according Professor Dumont's research.    
 

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Colette, writing.

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Archer Mayor
Archer Mayor
Paradise City: A Joe Gunther Novel  
4 stars from Amazon!

Another year, another mystery for Joe Gunther and his crack team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation. This one takes them out of their comfort zone in Brattleboro, Vermont, to the lawlessness of urban and rural Massachusetts.  An elderly woman surprises thieves in her Beacon Hill home and is viciously murdered. Thus begins a tale that moves from the streets of Boston to ivy-covered Northampton (a/k/a Paradise City) in the west, and ultimately back north to the Green Mountain State.  Archer Mayor’s 2011 book made it to the New York Times Bestseller list. He’s on a roll. Best wishes, Archer!


 



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Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem
Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem
Some Bright Morning (CD) 

I’ve written at length about Rani Arbo and the agnostic gospel group Daisy Mayhem. We never miss a chance to hear them perform live. In fact, the best live music I’ve heard this season came from Daisy Mayhem and the hospice choir Hallowell at a Brattleboro church last month.

If you want to feel good or just belt out a few joyous sounds with like-minded folks, join with the Mayhem on their new album, Some Bright Morning.  Follow the link to song samples, downloads and a place to purchase this gem of a CD. Suitable for all ages, orientations and most musical preferences. 



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Connie Corcoran Wilson
Connie Corcoran Wilson

For the last several years, blogger and journalist Connie Wilson has published three, four or five books a year. How does she do it? Does this woman ever sleep? This year, she co-authored a textbook on creative writing while producing weekly entertainment reviews and a collection of award-winning mystery/thriller short stories that are sure to scare you into mending your ways. All are available on Amazon.




Here’s Connie's current lineup:
Creative Writing Primer
by Ellen Tsagaris, Connie (Corcoran) Wilson, Robin Throne and Jodie Toohey  

Hellfire and Damnation II  
4.5 stars from Amazon!

The Color of Evil
3.5 stars from Amazon!

The Legend of Tug Fest and Other LeClaire Ghost Stories

The Bureau 


 
 
Anne Trubek opines on writers interacting with readers through social media, in a recent New York Times story.  Once, writers sought seclusion from the clatter of the real world, but today many reach out through the Internet for interaction with readers and other writers. Author and humorist Mat Johnson -- who boasts 39,712 followers on Twitter—says “the people I follow, they are my dream party guests, interesting strangers whose wit keeps me coming back.”

Do you use Twitter or Facebook to reach your audience and/or promote your book? I know Archer Mayor, Leigh Russell, Jacqui Christodoulou and Bill Campbell do, because I follow them.  (You can reach me on Twitter through a link found in the right-hand column.)

If you use Twitter, what does it do for you?

See below for Trubek's Why Authors Tweet.
http://nyti.ms/xFBsFQ



 
 
Looking for the perfect gift? Why not send your favorite bibliophile a new book written by one of our friends or readers?  Or why not read one yourself?  

As you'll see, this is a robust list of seasoned -- even bestselling -- authors. You are bound to find something you like here. 

If you believe in buying books from local authors, who could be more local than cyber friends or neighbors? These authors live and work as close to you as your computer or mobile device. 


Go to your local bookstore or follow the grey hyperlinks below to purchase a book or get more information. If you contact an author through a hyperlink, please let him or her know you linked from here.  

Happy Reading!

Mystery/Horror
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Tag Man
Archer Mayor

This book by mystery writer Archer Mayor is the 22nd in his Vermont-based, Joe Gunther series and the first to make it to the New York Times bestseller list. A fan – and Archer has many, including this reader – might assume Brattleboro, Vermont is the murder capital of the US. As a neighbor, I am thankful the Bratt PD has loaned Det. Joe Gunther to the famed (but fictional) Vermont Bureau of Investigation. With Gunther and his crew of assorted misfits on the job, we sleep better. Available at your local bookstore, through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or at a discount from the author at http://archermayor.com/bookstore.htm. Watch for an exclusive interview with Archer, coming soon on Birds on a Wire Blog.  


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Death Bed
Leigh Russell

This police procedural is bestselling-author Leigh Russell’s fourth book highlighting DCI Geraldine Steel’s excellent work at keeping southeast England safe for all. If Death Bed is anything like her earlier novels, you can expect mucho murder and mayhem before Steel’s crack detective unit steps in. The book will be released for Kindle on December 19 and in print in May 2012 through Amazon UK. For a signed copy, buy through http://leighrussell.co.uk/. Scroll below for an extensive interview with Leigh.  



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The Bureau
Connie Corcoran Wilson

This creepy short story previews Connie’s second collection of horror short stories, a sequel to "Hellfire & Damnation," published in 2010. Her next collection is scheduled for release as an E-book in 2012.  The Bureau is available now from Amazon for Kindle. Contact the author for more information.



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Koontown Killing Kaper
Bill Campbell

As he describes it, Bill Campbell’s third novel -- a satirical mystery -- is “one of the most outrageous, most offensive, most hilarious books you may ever read.”  I’ve read two of his earlier works and they certainly lived up to that promise.  And, all were great reads!   KKK is available now as an E-book at Smashwords, 
http://bit.ly/rO0XlQ . For more information, follow Bill, his musings, work and podcasts at www.facebook.com/groups/118751508175839/ 


Children’s Books

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The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats
Connie Corcoran Wilson

A full-color, illustrated book for children ages 3 to 7, explaining how to get along in life, told in Dr. Seuss-like rhyme. Available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in print and as E-book.



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Point to Happy
Miriam Smith and Afton Fraser

This interactive book is for children on the autism spectrum who benefit from visual support. Dozens of bright, friendly photographs are compelling to look at and easy to understand. The text is clear and direct. The parent reads, the child points. As much fun as a game, it's a joyful experience to share together.





Humor

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Laughing Through Life
Connie Corcoran Wilson

Humorous essays and anecdotes about school-teaching, child-rearing and politics. Available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in print and as E-book. 



Gardening/Lifestyle
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The Roses at the End of the Road
Pat Leuchtman
  

An award-winning garden writer’s collection of lively essays about life in a rural town, on and off her precious rose walk. For the rose-lover or anyone who has ever dreamed of living on a dead-end road at the top of a mountain in New England. Ask your local bookstore to order it for you or buy directly from the author.



Spirituality

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Where Am I Going? 
Moving from Religious Tourist to Spiritual Explorer
Michelle Cromer

A thought-provoking memoir about spirituality, family, love and finding true inner happiness by the founder of Pink Crosses, an organization that helps the families of the more than 600 women who have been murdered over the past decade in Juarez, Mexico. 
Wife, mother, bestselling author, salsa dancer in training and ex-corporate drone, Michelle conducts workshops in which participants learn how to tap into a deep well of spirituality, serenity, and purpose. She also hosts a radio show on Blog Talk Radio. Available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.



Other non-fiction

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Ghostly Tales of Route 66, Volumes I, II and III
Connie Corcoran Wilson 

Connie Wilson recounts mysterious happenings along the famed highway, state by state. Available in paperback from Quixote Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at 
http://bit.ly/vOi7Bd



For more books by readers of Birds on a Wire Blog, go to http://www.birdsonawireblog.com/1/post/2011/08/author-author.html



 
 
Do you think it’s a fluke that, in the middle of the worst economic downturn in recent history, the world of books is flourishing? Towns may reduce the size and hours of their libraries, big-box book stores may fail, but the deluge of fiction keeps rolling to meet the demand of escape-hungry readers like me, who live for their daily dose of unreality delivered either on paper or through cyberspace.

All this is a lead up to tell you I finally broke down and bought a Kindle DX, then got my husband a Nook for his birthday. I’m sick of lining more and more walls with bookcases. Today, we keep those digital rascals keep humming, especially on nights when there are no Law and Order reruns available on the tube.

Like many, I suppose, I was afraid a Kindle would ruin my reading experience. Quelle surprise! Instead, it has added to my pleasure immeasurably. Plus, I get the added advantage of not having more tomes to dust, and knowing I’m not killing off perfectly beautiful trees every time I open a book.

Still stuck in the dead tree world? Check out this website for interesting bookshelf ideas.

Wondering what to do with that old set of encyclopedias that take up half your bookcase? Here’s a clever idea for how to recycle all that knowledge.

My big grey e-reader sits quietly next to my favorite chair in the living room or on my nightstand, all charged up and ready to do its thing. Since it’s loaded with 20-30 books, the most recent Sunday New York Times book section, the New York Review of Books, German Word-a-Day and Reader’s Digest (of all things), there’s always something fun to dive into for five minutes or several hours, depending on the hour and the mood.

I’d like to share a few titles of my favorites among the 20 books or so I’ve read in the last few months. You’ll also find them listed in the GoodReads section located in the right hand column of this blog. If you’re interested, click on that site to read my reviews as well as comments from many other readers, or to get more information on the books.

Here are a few keepers from my Kindle:
Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Suite Française by Irene Nemirovsky
Cut Short, Dead End and Road Closed (three mysteries) by Leigh Russell
By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham

Stay tuned to Birds on a Wire Blog for an exclusive interview with Leigh Russell, one of England’s hottest mystery writers. I'll post it early this week. 


Authors and authors-in-waiting, take note: Five years ago, Leigh was a full-time English teacher, but not anymore. With a multi-year contract from No Exit Press, she now writes every workday, then spends her spare time developing a following at book signings and speaking engagements.

I, for one, love her books, in spite of the prodigious body counts. (Remind me to steer clear of Woolsmarsh, England. It must be a murderer’s mecca, like Cabot Cove, Maine.) If you liked the Prime Suspect series (the one with Helen Mirren that ran on PBS a decade ago), you will also like Leigh Russell’s DCI Geraldine Steel, a younger and less cocky version of Jane Tennison, who drives the storylines in spite of herself. Geraldine – if I may be so bold to call her that -- was recently named one of the great crime sleuths in contemporary literature on Lovereading, and is cited for popularity among die-hard mystery readers on many Amazon book sites.    

Someday, I’d like to start a Birds book club based at GoodReads. As moderator, I would pick a book. Anyone interested in participating could read it by a certain date, then enter a running conversation on the book set up on a private site on GoodReads. Or, we could have an invitation-only, password-protected live discussion using the GoodReads platform. Any takers?