Category: Gift Books (Page 1 of 11)

Johnny Be Good: 3 ‘John’ Books You Have Probably Heard About

“John” is one of the most common names in the English language.

Go, Johnny, Go

Go, Johnny, Go

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that some of book publishing’s hottest commodities share the same cognomen. Two of the books I’m about to talk about were written by a John and published in October, and the other one a John is responsible for and, while not quite new, would make a great gift this holiday season.

John Green, in addition to appearing to YouTube on the Vlogbrothers and Crash Course channels, is responsible for some of this generations most memorable YA titles, such as Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and the ubiquitous The Fault in Our Stars. The latter two were made into movies, so you’ve probably heard of his works even if his name isn’t familiar. After a five-year publishing hiatus, Green returns with his new novel, Turtles All the Way Down.

turtles all the way downTurtles All the Way Down tells the story of Aza Holmes as she hangs out with her over-the-top friend Daisy, is awkwardly romanced bt her childhood friend Davis Pickett, and searches for clues as to what happened to the missing, tuatara-obssessed, shady local billionaire Russell Pickett (who also happens to be Davis’s father). Meanwhile, Aza struggles to live her daily life while continuously caught in her “thought spirals,” which is her shorthand for explaining the will-destroying nightmare that living with obsessive-compulsive disorder can be.

While Turtles has a touch of romance (and only a fraction of the turtles promised by the titles), it is far less melodramatic than the teenage cancer star-crossed romance that The Fault in Our Stars was perceived by some to be. Aza and her illness are thoughtfully represented by Green, who suffers from OCD himself. Although your mileage may vary, I also highly enjoyed the madcap levity that best friend Daisy provides. It’s an evolution in his writing, but still definitely a John Green work that both long-time fans and hopefully some new readers will really appreciate.

rooster barSpeaking of madcap hi-jinks, John Grisham released his second mystery novel for adults this year (Camino Island, an intensely readable Fitzgerald manuscript heist, came out in June). This book, The Rooster Bar (which has even fewer roosters than the previous book had turtles) tells the story of three low-rent law students moving from scam-to-scam in the wake of a tragic suicide of a friend and in the shadow of impending student loan debt and professional misery. Friends Mark, Todd, and Zola stop studying for the bar exam, attempting to practice law out of an actual bar on the far side of Washington D.C. from the substandard, for-profit law school they just dropped out of so they can attempt to hustle legal fees in traffic court and hospital cafeterias. They also use information left behind from their lost friend to (hopefully) nail the guy at the top of the disgusting-but-not-actionable law school scheme.

The Rooster Bar has one of those grand conspiracies that has become a Grisham hallmark, but those who seek to uncover it are not out for justice; they’re out for themselves. They not only skirt the rule of law; they barely seem to understand its intricacies. But, hey, when you enroll at a law school called Foggy Bottom, you deserve what you get. Plenty of rich atmospherics highlight a book that combines the the scheming of The Brethren with the delicious sleaziness of Rogue Lawyer. Both the plot and the main characters end up in a place you’d least suspect.

As for the final book I’d like to talk about, I can only repeat a familiar refrain: let’s talk Jackson. Ken Murphy’s luscious photography dominates the book, but I can assure you that it would not exist without the will and insistence of Lemuria owner John Evans.

JXNLAMAR-2TI’ve lived in the Jackson area all my life, and I love this city. I’ve spent a lot of time in Belhaven, Fondren, Downtown, the Interstate corridor, and parts all over. I find something new to love all the time, or  I rediscover a spot once visited that tugs me back into the past. Although the Jackson this book captures is frozen in the specific period of 2013-14 (here’s a neat trick: compare the Lemuria cover to the view from a half-flight up Banner Hall’s staircase and see what noticeable feature is flipped), there’s a timeless quality to the sense of place the photographs capture. Murphy’s beautiful, mostly depopulated photos allow us to imagine ourselves among the beautiful scenes of the city we share, in both memory and possibility. If you haven’t already checked out one of Jackson books, a Lemuria exclusive, I highly encourage you to do so.

Get Your Dad the Perfect Book for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is THIS SUNDAY. If you’re like me, then it snuck up on you. Don’t have a gift yet? Lemuria is here to help! We’ve got a book for every dad out there.

For the dad that loves thrill seeking:

Camino Island – John Grisham

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This is Grisham’s latest book, out just in time to give to your dad for Father’s Day!

No Middle Name – Lee Child

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Another recently published book, No Middle Name is a collection of Jack Reacher stories.

For the Dad whose favorite room is the kitchen:

A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen – Matt Moore

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Classic Southern recipes, with a twist!

Reel Masters – Susan Schadt

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This not only has recipes, but big fish tales, as well.

For the Dad who prefers the past over the present:

The Flight – Dan Hampton

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The story of Charles Lindbergh’s famous 1927 transatlantic flight.

Killers of the Flower Moon – David Grann

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The incredible true story of the FBI’s first big case about the murders of the Osage Indians.

For the Dad who watches the big game every weekend:

Ballplayer – Chipper Jones

ballplayer

Jones’ autobiography about his 19-year career as an Atlanta Brave.

The Last Season – Stuart Stevens

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A touching story about a man and his father, and the lifetime of college football games they attended.

For the Dad who seems to already have everything:

Atlas Obscura – Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton

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An encyclopedia like you’ve never seen. You can find all sorts of amazing factoids about places you’ve never heard of!

The Revenge of Analog – David Sax

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Have you ever heard your father complain about the “kids these days”? This book laments the long lost art forms of brick and mortar stores, vinyl records, etc.

If none of these strike your fancy, the folks at Lemuria have hundreds more books to recommend! We would love to help you out, and we will even wrap your book for your dad.

Gifting the Perfect Book: For the Decorating Devotee

Thank the decorating book gods! The new Domino book is out!!!

jacketIf you are a long-time subscriber to Domino magazine or even if you’ve never heard of it but you love decorating, this book is for you people. Domino magazine comes out quarterly and when I see it on the news stand, I basically squeal. Then I will go home to start looking through it, loving every second but also hating it. Sometimes I have to close the magazine because every house featured is so perfect I can barely cope with it. But, make no mistake, I finish the magazine and then refuse to throw it away.

Well, the book, Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home, is even better. And did I dominomention this is their SECOND book! Their first book, Domino: The Book of Decoratingcame out in 2008 and looking through it is really amazing because I would still have everything in that book in my own little corner of the world. The work featured in Domino is just clean and timeless. I realize that 2008 doesn’t seem that long ago, but PEOPLE—that was eight years ago! Decorating styles can change A LOT in just a few years. But that is the trick with decorating: don’t do trendy, do clean and timeless.

domino-roomAs for the new book: first of all, just the physical book itself is so pretty that I want to scream. But it also has incredible content inside, broken down into navigable chapters such as “seating,” “walls,” “art,” “flooring,” etc. Every chapter is broken down further into sections like “Walls We Love,” “Handbook,” “Style Statement,” and “Style School.” There are so many helpful things in this book that I have a hard time knowing where to start, but I will say that the Style Statements at the end of every chapter almost send me into orbit because the designs are so incredible but all so different. There really is something for everyone. Then there are also the Style Standoffs at the end of each chapter, focusing on things such as Large Patterns vs. Small Patterns.

This is the perfect Christmas gift for the person in your life that loves decorating. There is even a beautiful box set of the two books, The Domino Collection. So if you come in the store and you are interested in this book, let me show you just how great it is!

Come Check Out My Spring Display (Pt 1)

Despite all the rain of the past few days, spring means a number of very sunny and happy things to me. So in honor of this most wonderful time in Mississippi, during the two-week period when we don’t all feel like we will surely die from wretched, wet cold or suffocate from the stifling heat, we can all walk outside our homes and just say “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

 Jacket

 

I have built a display. This display is what spring means to me and essentially all of the things it makes me want to do. I feel certain I’m not the only one who gets the planting bug in the spring. I have a particular fondness for succulents and terrariums. Why you might ask? Well that is because they are low maintenance, they are clean and fresh looking, and depending on your arrangement, they can look rather elaborate. I like to appear like I know what I’m doing, people. And I truly, to goodness do not. I was not blessed with the green thumb of father and mother. It is not necessarily a black thumb; I fondly call it my gray thumb. So in this situation everyone wins…including the plants. If anyone feels so inclined, I’ve placed a book on this display for each of these loves. One is called Terrarium Craft, the other Hardy Succulents. Another favorite is Tiny Terrarium. If you are interested ask me and I’ll show it to you! Essentially you create scenes inside your terrarium with people and any manner of thing. I know Joan Hawkins Interiors had the makings for these things.

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Anyhow moving on…spring also makes me want to spruce my house up. Justina Blakeney’s new book The New Bohemians makes me want to completely rethink my entire decorating scheme – just completely start all over again. I love the clean lines of a mid-century furniture, but lord knows I can cram a lot of stuff in a space and hang a lot of art on the walls. So does this make me a modern bohemian, as a section in her book suggests? I have many questions left on this matter, but honestly this book is a feast for your eyes. Blakeney has gotten quite a lot of acclaim for design aesthetic over the past few years, and this book only further proves why. Now if I really want to build on what I’ve got (which my mother would say is my best option), I should really invest in the new Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home. This book pulls from a little bit of everywhere just like their incredible blog of the same name (Apartment Therapy…in case you missed that part). I mean this book talks about it all, down to the frames you use for your art, without being overwhelming and nitpicking. Oh I almost forgot to mention that The New Bohemians has great DIY projects in it which segues into my next desire of spring…CRAFTING.

I pretty m9781617691751uch always love to make something, but I think the whole new life thing that comes along with spring really does something to me. A book I’ve been drooling over for quite some time now is The Modern Natural Dyer. Not only is it a gorgeous book, but it also tells you how to dye fibers with flowers, vegetables, and spices. Basically head on over to the grocery store and make a mess because I love to make a mess. It’s the cleaning up that presents a problem for me. This book has twenty projects for your home and your wardrobe, including knitting and sewing. Pretty amazing if you think about it. “Oh, why yes, I did make this! I dyed it as well. Eat your freaking heart out!!!” Next up on the docket we have Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed (that’s me). So this book’s projects are broken down into sections of spray paint, plaster, concrete, paper, thread, wax, wood, and the list goes on. I could definitely get into a modern looking concrete cake stand or some precious wax bud vases. There is more to come about this display, but I feel like I am close to losing all of you so I will leave you here

“The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown

“…those almost mystical bonds of trust and affection, if nurtured correctly, might lift a crew above the ordinary sphere, transport it to a place where nine boys somehow became one thing—a thing that could not quite be defined, a thing that was so in tune with the water and the earth and the sky above that, as they rowed, effort was replaced by ecstasy.” 

JacketThe New York Times bestselling The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is about the Washington University rowing team that won the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Through newspaper articles, journals, interviews, and the like, Brown weaves his research into an engaging tale of overcoming odds and pushing toward success.

While the story involves the journey of nine crew students at Washington, it focuses on Joe Rantz, a talented boy forced to grow up too fast. You get a glimpse of the heartache and struggle he had to endure at a young age that ultimately gave him the fight and determination he needed to excel on the Washington crew.

It’s amazing how these boys were not only a part of a highly-competitive rowing team, but they also had to attend class and do school work, as well as take on jobs to pay their way through college. The demands placed upon that generation and their perseverance through it all are truly inspirational. It was their resolve that transferred into rowing and led them to become Olympic champions.

I never really knew how both physically and mentally demanding rowing is. The details about each stroke, the technique, and how the body is effected left me feeling exhausted in some sections. It also amazed me how in-sync they had to be: “The movements of each rower are so intimately intertwined, so precisely synchronized with the movements of all the others, that any one rower’s mistake or subpar performance can throw off the temp of the stroke, the balance of the boat, and ultimately the success of the whole crew.”

After reading about how much the sport tested the team and how their coaches pushed them, it really made me appreciate rowing, and I think it is one of the most challenging sports of all time.

Not only is this a story about rowing, but Brown also paints a picture of the world during the 1930s. The Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the rise of Hitler all set the backdrop to the primary story of collegiate rowing. The reader gets a better understanding of the political scene during the games and just how influential the American victory in Berlin was on an international level.

I also loved reading about how the team bonded together, not just because of rowing, but because of who they were—the sons of farmers and miners, just trying to survive and working for a better future. The 1936 Olympics wasn’t just a victory for the University of Washington, but for all Americans during a dark time. It’s no wonder that those nine boys in the boat still inspire people today.

Overall, it was an excellent read, and I’m excited to see how it will translate onto the Big Screen in the next year or so.

Isn’t There Supposed to be a Mad Scientist in This Story?!

Original to the Clarion-Ledger 

WFES062252111-2What is there to do when a picture book has been canceled? Pencil is the narrator and director in this story. The crayons are getting ready to act out their parts. Frankencrayon is sent to page 22 to make his grand entrance. He is, as his name suggests, a crayon towering over the rest, a mix of green, orange, and purple broken crayons held together by masking tape.

When the lights go out, there is a horrible screeching noise. And worse yet, when the lights come on, there is a terrible scribble all the way across the page! As Teal crayon says, “A scribble can ruin a picture book!”

The mystery scribble just keeps getting bigger and bigger…where could it be coming from?

The pencil (director of the story) gets a notice that the picture book has been canceled.

1. No one likes the scribble thing.

2. The characters are gone.

3. Isn’t there supposed to be a mad scientist in this story?

But the pencil forgets to tell Frankencrayon that the picture book has been canceled, and on page 22, Frankencrayon makes his grand entrance onto the page with the scribble! But the lights are off, and where has everyone gone, and most of all, WHO IS SCRIBBLING IN THIS BOOK??

Frankencrayon is clever, funny, and teaches kids to make a creation out of what other people might perceive as a mess. Bring the kids to meet the author and illustrator, Michael Hall, and join us for a FRANKENCRAYON story time on Thursday, January 28th, at 3:00 p.m. at Lemuria Bookstore.

Call 601-366-7619 with questions.

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Jacket (2)“Wolf wilders are almost impossible to spot. A wolf wilder is not like a lion tamer nor a circus ringmaster: Wolf Wilders can go their whole lives without laying eyes on a sequin. They look, more or less, like ordinary people. There are clues: More than half are missing a piece of finger, the lobe of an ear, a toe or two. They go through clean bandages the way other people go through socks. They smell very faintly of raw meat.”

So begins Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder, a story that envelops readers in words, taking them on a journey into the dark of the snowy Russian forests and into the heart of St. Petersburg. It is a story that wraps around the reader much like the red coat the protagonist wears.

In The Wolf Wilder, the nobility of Russia purchase wolf pups to bring their families good fortune. The wolves wear gold chains and are taught to be tame. Once the wolf begins to act, well, like a wolf, they are sent back into the wilderness. This is where the wolf wilder comes in to help “untame” the wolf and teach it to run and hunt and survive in the wilderness where it belongs. Feodora, described as a “dark and stormy girl” and her mother, Marina, are wolf wilders in the deepest forests of Russia, far away from St. Petersburg, where they turn the wolves wild in an abandoned chapel.

When Marina is arrested by the cruel General Rakov for defiance against the tsar for “wilding” the wolves instead of shooting them outright, Feodora embarks on a dangerous journey to St. Petersburg to rescue her mother. She is accompanied by three wolves named White, Gray, and Black, and by Ilya, a boy her own age who used to be an imperial soldier but whose lightness of foot is much like the wolves.

With motifs from Little Red Riding Hood, Rundell spins her own fairytale that, much like the Grimms, goes into the darkest part of the forest, with little hope of escape. Rundell has a way with words and language, as seen in her previous two middle grade novels, Rooftoppers and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, and The Wolf Wilder does not disappoint. Feo, a little girl who might be too small to notice, outsmarts the imperial soldiers with her wits, her wolves, and the help of friends she makes along the way. A beautifully enchanting story to read this winter, The Wolf Wilder shows that there is glittering undercurrent even in the darkest of moments, and even the smallest of golden moments can illuminate the darkness.

Originally published in the Clarion-Ledger.

“SPQR” Lives Up to the Hype

Jacket (1)I love reading about pretty much any historical period. But I really love reading about Rome! I memorized toga styles once- it’s kind of an obsession. So I was excited that a Roman history book has been flying off the shelf this past month. I decided to try it, and I wasn’t disappointed. Remitto!

SPQR is short for “senatus populusque romanus” which means the “Senate and People of Rome”. It was a symbol that appeared often on Roman literature and legal documents, and refers to the governing body of the Roman Republic and its people. Beard chose a really apt title here, because I could actually divide this book in half. Half focuses on Roman life and culture. This was definitely the most fun part of the book. It is like a collection of stories that make the past come alive.

There are stories about pirates and Spartacus and his army fighting with kitchenware for weapons, and that strange tale about Plautus and Terence. There are also stories that challenge some of the famous annals of Rome. For example, do you remember that legend that Caligula declared war on Poseidon and commanded his armies to gather seashells from the ocean as war spoils? Beard tells us there may have been some confusion over the Latin word musculi, which can mean “shells” or “military huts”. His soldiers may have been destroying a military camp, not hunting for seashells.

The other half of the book explores the Senatus and all of Rome’s leaders. The way they constructed their government was a source of inspiration for America’s founding fathers, so this is a pretty interesting read regarding the earliest seeds of a republic. Many of the questions that people like Polybius and the Forum struggled with are still things we debate today. Dealing with “terrorists” outside the due process of the law is not just an issue that the US is struggling with. It’s really interesting to find that many political and social beliefs have been attempted before, and it very often offers insight to see how things may or may not have worked in the past. Beard doesn’t lean too hard on any real bias, a lot of the questions she poses are given with the historical evidence we have, and then the reader is free to make of it what they will.

I absolutely recommend this book to anybody wanting a more in-depth look at Rome. The writing isn’t too dry, or too romantic. The book feels very conversational; there isn’t a strict chronological order to it, so it feels like you sat down with a historian over drinks and asked them about some of the interesting bits of ancient Rome. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anybody that doesn’t have some knowledge going in. But it’s a little treasure trove, and definitely lives up to the hype.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

On August 24, 1914, Captain Harry Colebourn bought a baby bear for $20 on a train station platform.

“Harry stopped. It’s not every day that you see a bear cub at a train station. ‘That Bear has lost its mother,’ he thought, ‘and that man must be the trapper who got her.’”

On his way overseas to fight in World War I, Colebourn, a veterinarian from Winnipeg, decided to name the bear Winnie after his hometown.

When Colebourn showed Winnie to the Colonel, he was originally met with disapproval.

“’Captain Colebourn!’ said the Colonel on the train, as the little Bear sniffed at his knees. ‘We are on a journey of a thousand miles, heading into the thick of battle, and you propose to bring this Most Dangerous Creature?’ Bear stood straight up on her hind legs as if to salute the Colonel. The Colonel stopped speaking at once—and then, in quite a different voice, he said, ‘Oh, hallo.’”

Soon, Winnie was one of their own.

Jacket (1)Finding Winnie is narrated by Lindsay Mattick, the great-grandaughter of Harry Colebourn, as a family story passed down from generation to generation. When Lindsay’s son asks her for a story, she asks “What kind of story?” to which the reply is;“You know. A true story. One about a Bear.”

This picture book tells the miraculous journey of a man and his bear that crossed the Atlantic from Canada to England; and this is the very bear that would become the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh when A.A. Milne and his son visited the London Zoo.

After crossing the Atlantic with Winnie, Harry knew that she was growing larger and could not be taken into battle, so he took her to the London Zoo.

“Winnie’s head bowed. Harry’s hands were warm as sunshine, as usual. ‘There is something you must always remember,’ Harry said. ‘It’s the most important thing, really. Even if we’re apart, I’ll always love you. You’ll always be my Bear.’”

Harry and Winnie’s parting seem’s like the end of the story, but as Lindsay points out, “Sometimes, you have to let one story begin so the next one can begin.”

The beautiful and heartfelt illustrations by Sophie Blackall bring this story to life in ink and watercolor. Her illustrations depict Harry Colebourn’s excitement of finding the bear, the heartache of leaving Winnie behind in the zoo, and the joy of a new friendship with Christopher Robin. Finding Winnie will bring you and your child joy and delight at discovering the true story behind one of the most famous characters in literature, and show that sometimes, one story’s ending is just another story’s beginning.

2015, I’d like to kiss you on the mouth.

dbdb37f2-a00d-4114-b5d6-1e42a0bc65cfThis year was a doozy. I consumed everything from nonfiction about animal consciousness to the modern classic Fates and Furies by Lemuria’s new best friend, Lauren Groff. I can’t even get into the second paragraph without telling you that The Godfather was hands down my favorite read of the year. You can read my blog about it here. I had the chance to sit down and talk to Garth Risk Hallberg about his meteoric rise in the literary world. Jon Meacham made me cry.

I personally made the move from the hub that is Lemuria’s front desk to the quieter fiction room, where I now am elbows deep in the mechanics of our First Editions Club; and am coincidentally even more in love with fiction than I was before. My TBR pile has skyrocketed from about 10 books to roughly 30 on my bedside table. It’s getting out of control and I love it.

[Sidebar: This year, I fell even more in love with graphic novelsNimona surprised us all by making one of the short-lists for the National Book Award, and we were so pleased to see it get the recognition that it deserves. Go Noelle Stevenson! You rule!]

As a bookstore, we were able to be on the forefront of some of the most influential books of 2015 (see: Between the World and Me– when we passed that advance reader copy around, the rumblings were already beginning). Literary giants Salman Rushdie, John Irving, and Harper Lee put out new/very, very old works to (mostly) thunderous applause, and debut novelists absolutely stunned and shook up the book world. (My Sunshine Away, anyone? I have never seen the entire staff band behind a book like that before. We were/are obsessed.) Kent Haruf’s last book was published; it was perfect, and our hearts ache in his absence.

We marched through another Christmas, wrapping and reading and recommending and eating enough cookies to make us sick. We hired fresh new faces, we said goodbye to old friends, we cleaned up scraggly, hairy sections of the store and made them shiny and new. We had the privilege of having a hand in Mississippi’s first ever book festival. We heaved in the GIANT new Annie Leibovitz book, and spent a few days putting off work so that we could all flip through it. In short, this year has been anything but uneventful; it’s been an adventure. So here’s to 2016 absolutely knocking 2015 out of the park.

Read on, guys.

 

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