That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


This was one memorable day.


Every March, Bookmania and the Martin County Library System showcase the best literary talents from around the country. As soon as the author/book list comes out, I start reading.


Today, thirteen talented authors talked about their books in a full-day event of presentations, panel discussions, and book signings. 10917843_889057731126993_5835719999515293469_n


New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides told a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age.

Ice.  You remember ice.  Or maybe you are still in the midst of it.  But not ice quite like this. Sides’ book is a pack-ice sprawl of history and storytelling that’s unforgettable.



In the Kingdom of Ice:The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeanette recounts the harrowing and icy journey of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters on a mission to discover the North Pole.  Author Hampton Sides is, well, masterful.


The story of Captain George De Long who sailed into unknown seas and was trapped in pack ice for two years is riveting. With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In the Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.


An electric debut novel about inheritance, belief, and the tender relationship between a son and his ailing father, High as the Horses’ Bridles is the story of Josiah Laudermilk, who as a 12-year-old preaching prodigy, delivered an unplanned sermon describing a strange vision that ultimately defines the rest of his life. Decades later when Josiah (now Josie) is grown and has long since left the church, he returns home to care for his father Gill. Memories of the past overwhelm him at every turn and he’s completely unprepared for what he finds.

This is Scott Cheshire’s first book. It’s both human and divine. Don’t take my word for it. Colum McCann and Claire Messud (and many many others) agree. Cheshire is writing about where he comes from ~ as a child preacher, a Jehovah’s Witness, steeped in the faith’s apocalyptic visions.


Cheshire is a sincerely nice guy. I could listen to him all day.

The title? It’s from the Book of Revelations.

Historical novelists, Patricia Harman (The Reluctant Midwife) and Mary Doria Russell (Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral) were on the panel with Cheshire.


Looking for an addicting mystery series?

Cara Black, Murder on the Champs de Mars, does tons of research in France and her books are vibrant, living, breathing adventures.  She told us she loves maps, riding the bus, and getting it right. Boy, does she.

Her character, Private Investigator Aimée Leduc, takes on a personal investigation for a poor French Gypsy boy.

Authors Lisa Black, Close to the Bone, and Lis Wiehl, Lethal Beauty, joined Cara Black on the mystery panel. 

After lunch and plenty of time for schmoozing with the authors, the great new writers took the stage.  And stole the show.


18815488What an enchanting and moving debut novel. 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas features three unforgettable characters and their unlikely connection.


Spanning India in the 1970s to New Mexico in the 1980s to Seattle in the 1990s, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is a winning irreverent novel about a family wrestling with its future and its past.

Livings Dog

In Jack Livings’ rich story collection, The Dog, a wealthy factory owner—once a rural peasant—refuses to help the victims of an earthquake until his daughter starts a relief effort of her own; a marginalized but powerful Uyghur gangster clashes with his homosexual grandson; and a dogged journalist is forced to resign as young writers in ‘pink Izod golf shirts and knockoff Italian loafers’ write his stories out from under him.

The final panel talked about their Hollywood encounters, that slippery slope from book to film.  I learned that books have about 80,000 words, screenplays a mere 20,000.  The authors agreed that books are ‘reconceived’, not reproduced, on the screen.


Joseph Kanon, author of The Good German, wrote and sold his dramatic saga of intrigue and love set against the tumultuous backdrop of Berlin in 1945. It follows Jake Geismar, a former Berlin correspondent for CBS assigned to do a series of articles on the American occupation of Berlin, as he tries to find Lena, the German mistress he left behind, and stumbles into a dark underworld of corruption. The Warner Bros. film, directed by Steven Soderberg, was released in 2006 and stars George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, and Tobey Maguire.


Laura Lippman (her husband is the brilliant mind behind The Wire and does she have stories to tell!) wrote and sold Every Secret Thing, a riveting story of love and murder, guilt and innocence, adult sins and childhood darkness. It’s the tale of a terrible event that devastates three families, after two young girls discover an unsupervised baby on an empty street. The cast includes Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, and Danielle Macdonald.


Peter Swanson wrote and optioned The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, an electrifying tale of romantic noir, with shades of Hitchcock.

I can’t wait for the next Bookmania.  Maybe some authors I know will be there. Meet Nancy and Patricia and Art. I put their names in the suggestion box. Imagine, it might just be the formation of the first link to their next memorable day.


 Toni 3/22/15

*The Sunday Coze returns.




  1. Interesting choice of books here. I’ll have to check them out. It was also interesting to read how the authors explained that books are reconceived not reproduced on screen. We’ve all seen movies that really deviate from the book and others that follow it pretty closely, so I’m guessing that decision is up to the producers or director based on how difficult it might be to follow the book?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you see the Lee Child book starring Tom Cruise? It was the book One Shot, they called the movie Jack Reacher. If you weren’t expecting the literary version, and you went for the action, it was OK. But Child’s Jack Reacher is bigger, literally and figuratively, than Tom Cruise (who bought the rights) and the resulting film. The panel said they follow the book as long as most of it can be delivered visually.


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