Nice little mail surprises!

I didn’t remember ordering a hardcover book, but as I pulled it out of the envelope, that’s exactly what it was. It was a quick glance before recognizing the distinctive cover art of the fiction of Dallas author Taylor Stevens. She had sent along a gift – an older story of hers just finding its way into hardcopy.

Her own story is about as intriguing as the suspense stories she weaves in a couple of different character-driven series, and as I opened the front cover, I was hoping she had signed it.

And there it was.

Ms Stevens was raised in a religious group – some might describe it as a cult – where her duties at a tender age involved begging for money on street corners. The group moved around the world over the years and many of the exotic locations of her youth have been incorporated into the settings of her stories.

You wouldn’t know it by reading her pages, but her writing comes from a self-polished talent. It is hard to imagine being isolated from the media, social interactions, and current events as she was growing up – much less overcoming those blinders-on-the-world to produce relevant works of fiction. She does it well.

The main body of her work involves a female protagonist named Vanessa Michael Munroe, who is succinctly described on the back of the just-received dust jacket: Think Catwoman in plain clothes, Lisbeth Salander sans dragon tattoo. Jack Reacher with an extra x-chromosome. [She] has to be among the cleverest, fightingest, and all-around baddest heroines in contemporary suspense fiction.

The first book in the series has been optioned for film, and I believe James Cameron of Titanic and Avatar movies fame is the interested producer/director.

THE VESSEL is a novella involving the protagonist, that somehow failed to be immediately released in hardcover. It is a nice addition to Ms Stevens’ bibliography, and it just proves that some good things have come to some people during this most consternating of years.

If you haven’t tried her yet, grab a copy of THE INFORMATIONIST and settle in for a page-turning ride that will have you wanting more.

How? Howl-a-peen-yo!

I hope you experienced gardeners will have mercy on a novice who is proud to be able to display results – however puny…

When we were all locked down in our stay-at-home mode, I put some seeds in dirt and added water. Mixed results would be a generous description of the outcome. But – some persisted, and today I thought it looked like the time to do some snipping.

The jalapeno peppers looked bigger when they were still on the plant, but they look like the real thing. The Hungarian peppers look long and lean like they should, but the big tall plant only produced two of them.

Don’t know quite what to think about the fat and stubby cucumber. I thought it should have turned out more like the ones at the store – maybe a tad greener, too. Could have left it on the vine longer I suppose, but I was afraid it might just burst.

Regardless, I am happy about the turnout, no matter the quantity. It proves to me that if things ever turn really dire, with some seeds, and some water, and some sunshine – I’ll starve to death in no time at all.

Amelia Earhart Found! (At least, a 1st Edition Memoir!)

It’s always fun for us – booknuts – to run across a book that is little out-of-the-ordinary. When we take in an estate of books, there is always that crossed-finger approach while going through the various boxes, hoping for a treasure.

It happened about fifteen years ago, when we were new on Main Street – before the Rose District was even an idea – when a young couple brought in an oversized box of books that they wanted to sell. The box was big enough that I thought time could be saved if we could just agree on a price for the whole thing.

Their price seemed reasonable, so I paid it. After they left, I began unloading the box – books I had just paid the asking price for, sight unseen. When I had removed a couple of layers, I began to sweat.

They were mostly just – well, junk – I hate to say. Money was even tighter in those days, and toward the bottom of the box I was wishing I had just kept my money. Right down to the last layer, where I pulled out a hardback first edition copy of Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Talk about joyous relief!

The most recent collection to be rolled into the store had a mixture of titles and genres, and I was pleased to run across an interesting title. Once I took a look inside, I allowed a little grin.

Amelia Earhart, who was lost at sea and died way before her time, has been the source of stories, legends, and rumors, since her plane disappeared. Despite her loss at age 39, she had already made a mark as an author in addition to her many aviation accomplishments. According to a Wikipedia listing:

Earhart was a successful and heavily promoted writer who served as aviation editor for Cosmopolitan magazine from 1928 to 1930. She wrote magazine articles, newspaper columns, and essays, and published two books based upon her experiences as a flyer during her lifetime

One of those titles was The Fun of It, published in 1932, which had nearly gone to press before her transatlantic solo flight of that year. The publisher managed to get an add-in chapter and a front cover acknowledgement of her accomplishment before the book was released.

It isn’t a perfect copy – an ex-library edition that was delisted as surplus at some point – with a black remainder mark on the top. But it still has a scarcity factor that makes up for it. It is a solid copy with an art-copy dustjacket, with the bonus attraction of holding a photographic copy of Ms Earhart’s pilot’s license inside the front cover, complete with signature.

Since her story is one of continued interest and speculation, I’m thinking some aviation fan might enjoy having this scarce 1st Edition copy in their library.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying having it here in the shop!