Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Peppermint Lead Balls and others things Christmas-y

Earlier today I taped a conversation with Lorna Landvik about her Christmas novel "Tis the Season". We got talking about holiday traditions and Christmas cookies and she said she always tries a couple of NEW recipes every Christmas. The lemon shortbread cookies went over very well but the peppermint puffs....well, as she said, "they should have named them Peppermint Lead Balls".

It's always a little iffy to try a new holiday cookie. This year my oven is the fritz so I'm just doing "melty" cookies. The time honored "Bert's Butterscotch Bitches" and those other ones with the almond bark. And M&M's... you know! I'll have to forgo the walnut tarts and lime rickeys.

Lorna also talked about a one woman show (if you can count all the characters in her head as one woman!) at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. It sounds great - she makes up characters based on the people in the audience and has wigs/costumes on stage. And as she said, one lucky audience member gets a margarita that she mixes up on stage. Look here for more information.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Favorite books of the year!!!

It's way too hard to pick my favorite reads of the year but I will try my darndest. Deep breath. Here we go... in NO particular order, some of my favorite novels of the year:

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton - this makes you think about the people behind the crimes that we find unspeakable. It makes you think that they too have mothers and there is no black and white. Make sure you have an evening/afternoon free for this one, you'll need to read it in one sitting. Just ask my neighbor Randy.

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani - I'm a sucker for ANYTHING this woman writes. I don't care about fancy high heeled shoes, I don't live in New York, I don't travel to Italy to study artisan craftsmanship but I do love my family and food and my work. And this character Valentine. She's stubborn, faithful and so imperfect that anyone would be drawn to her. MN tie: her mother grew up in Chisholm, MN.

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley- Who knew that high school hockey could be so mysterious? It is set in the U.P of Michigan amidst a community obsessed with hockey who hasn't quite gotten over the championship that got away. When a journalist comes back to town to edit the newspaper he finds more than memories of his high school hockey career. MN tie: once my luggage was sent to Michigan instead of Minnesota. Does that count?

Remedies by Kate Ledger - this is the story of a physician who thinks he's discovered the cure for pain. He and his wife have been growing apart and the story delves into how there are times in our lives where we feel ENTITLED to break the rules. MN tie: Kate is a freelance writer from St. Paul.

Billie Standish was Here by Nancy Crocker - okay fine, this one is a young adult novel, but still, it counts. I'm a sucker for a book about friendship. Unlikely friendship at that, people of different generations who really change the course of another's life. Miss Lydia becomes the caretaker that 11 year old Billie Standish needs. MN tie: Nancy lives in Minneapolis

Rough Country by John Sandford - I'm one of the few who had never read one of his thrillers...
so it was a big deal to not only finally read one, but to interview him and meet him in person. This is a Virgil Flowers book and set in Grand Rapids, MN where a woman's body is found at a resort that has some secrets of its own to reveal. MN tie: Sandford is from St. Paul

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick - This one was chilling and surprising. Chilly in setting and tone in northern Wisconsin in the wintertime, and surprising in that the style of storytelling he uses made me think it would be a sweeping historical novel in the vein of Laura Ingalls Wilder all grown up. Holy man, it was gripping. MN tie: is northern Wisconsin close enough?

so many books! Here's some other notables from the year:

Heaven's Keep by William Kent Krueger
Missing Mark by Julie Kramer
The Yamas and the Niyamas by Deborah Adele
All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray

I know I've left some out - what are your favorite books of the last year?

your 'go to' author?

Is there an author or books that you have continually gone back to in your life? For my husband Tom that author is Louis L'Amour. For as long as I've known him, when we go on a trip he always throws a L'Amour paperback in the suitcase.

When I got the chance to interview L'Amour's widow Kathy about the newly published "The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour - Frontier Stories Volume 7" Tom was excited.

Before I did that I needed to get to the bottom of this reading passion of his. "Why?" I asked.

Tom talked about a couple of things that stood out to him. Setting. The wild west. Wide open uncivilized territory where Louis himself had been. Or at least it FELT like Louis had been to.

And the eternal battle of good v. evil. Tom keeps going back for the formula of a Louis L'Amour novel.

There are more than 300 million copies of his books in print and he's the American born novelist in history to receive both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Tune in this week for my conversation with Kathy L'Amour about her late husband's work. Or check the archive.

And let us know what paperback you stuff in your suitcase!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

From last week's show....Zippora Karz & Sandra Harper

Zippora Karz was my guest - talking about her book "Sugarless Plum - A Ballerina's Triumph Over Diabetes" Check out her video here:

I also talked with novelist and playwright Sandra Harper about her new book with a holiday setting, "Over the Holidays". If you missed the conversations, check out the Realgoodwords archive. And as long as we're doing videos, check out this one with Sandra Harper.