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2012 Literary Gift Guide Supporting Atlanta Authors

2012 Literary Gift Guide Supporting Atlanta Authors
Support your local authors by giving the following 2012 releases as gifts this holiday season

Age 4 & Up
·         "Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons" by James Dean
Practice counting skills with Pete the Cat, the cool, blue cat with a laid back attitude.
Young Adult
·         "Being Friends with Boys" by Terra Elan McVoy
Drama knows no gender.  Charlotte finds being friends with boys easier than being friends with back-stabbing girls, until she meets a new boy. Now her "Boy Friends" are fighting, and one of them might like her. 
·         "Fathomless" by Jackson Pearce
The third in Pearce's fairytale retellings, “Fathomless” is a dark, modern take on Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid."
·         "Fire in my Belly" by Kevin Gillespie
You may have seen Gillespie on "Top Chef" or tasted his work at "Woodfire Grill."  Check out this farm-to-table aficionado's masterpiece recipes. 
·         "Souper Jenny Does Salads" by Jennifer Levison
The woman behind the lunchtime institution divulges her scrumptious salad recipes just in time for our New Year's resolutions.
·         "The Atlanta 50: Where to Eat" by John Kessler
The AJC's chief dining critic gives his first "Top 50" list since 2004.
·         "The Ghost on Black Mountain" by Ann Hite
When Nellie Clay marries and moves to Black Mountain, her mama and the locals warn her to get off the mountain while she still can.  Hite, a 2012 Georgia Author of the Year, spins a suspenseful, sinister, Southern folktale set in the Depression-era Appalachian foothills.
·         “The River Witch” by Kimberly Brock
Family, faith and resentment mix with love and loss, broken bodies and souls, and a stranger in a strange place.  Add to this mix some mythology, fable and folktale, and you will find a story that stays with you long after the final page.
·         "Criminal" by Karin Slaughter
The seventh installment of the Will Trent series uncovers a critical piece of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent's past.
·         "Stranger in the Room" by Amanda Kyle Williams
Will ex-FBI profiler, Keye Street, solve two similar murders before the killer strikes again?
·         "Sea Change" by Karen White
After a whirlwind romance and a move to the Georgia coast, Ava Whalen learns there are mysterious circumstances surrounding her husband's first wife's death, as well as secrets surrounding her new home.
·         "Someone Bad and Something Blue" by Dee Stewart aka Miranda Parker
Who is guilty of killing the Honorable Elaine Turner's campaign manager? Angel Crawford is on the case.
·         "Duty and Desire" by Anju Gattani
This debut novel, set in contemporary India, follows Sheetal Prasad as she marries into India's most glamorous (and secretly scandalous) royal family, The Dhanrajs.
·         "The Ninth Step" by Grant Jerkins
Secrets and deceit abound when a high school geometry teacher's wife is killed in a hit and run.
·         "The Alumni Factor" by Monica McGurk aka CB Day
Are you a student, an alumni, a parent, a counselor or advisor?  Then you need this one-of-a-kind college rankings book based on graduate success.
·         "The Drama Years:  Real Girls Talk about Surviving Middle School-Bullies, Brands, Body Image and More" by Haley Kilpatrick
Kilpatrick's non-profit organization, Girl Talk, pairs high-schoolers with middle-schoolers to give support and instill leadership skills.  Her guidebook helps girls and parents navigate the tumultuous tween and teen years.
·         "Wallflower in Bloom" by Claire Cook
The author of "Must Love Dogs" is back with the quirky comedy her fans love. Deidre's husband is not only leaving her, but re-marrying and starting a new family with someone else.  After over-indulging in her brother's vodka stash, Deidre manages to get herself voted onto "Dancing with the Stars" as a last minute replacement. What could go wrong?
·         “Growing Up Psychic" by Chip Coffey
The debut book from the star of A& E's Psychic Kids and Paranormal State, Coffey offers information and identifies the challenges of growing up psychic.
·         "Kiss Shot" by Collin Kelley
Great option for an inexpensive and wrapping-free gift.
Novelist and poet, Kelley, has released a compilation of four diverse short stories set in Cottonwood, Georgia.

The Alumni Factor

My second book review for BuckHaven Lifestyle Magazine features Monica McGurk's "The Alumni Review."  Read on for my review or click HERE for link to article in the online edition of Buckhaven Lifestyle.

Guide to Colleges from the Inside | Alumni | Advice | Info

Article Rhiannon Bankes
Longtime Atlanta resident, Monica McGurk, has combined her talents in management consulting, operations and marketing to produce the new, must-have reference guide for anyone researching colleges and universities. The Alumni Factor is 512 full color pages, ranking the nation’s top 177 colleges and universities. Independent of any news organizations, educational institutions and publishing houses, this guide breaks the cycle of brand and reputation building that colleges constantly circulate in order to have “buzz.” The premise is so simple, yet it has not been done before. Most college guides give information about statistics on students entering their colleges (SAT scores or average GPA,) but  The Alumni Factor is the only one that focuses on what sort of a student that institution produces. As the cover boasts, “Get the Only College Ranking Based on Graduate Success.”
Based on surveys from 42,000 alumni, the guide measures and reports on elements deemed most important by students, parents, and alumni. The book has information similar to other college reference guides, such as: campus setting, expenses, discounts, instate tuition, type of institution, number of students, as well as student /faculty ratio. What makes The Alumni Factor different is the multitude of new measurements in graduate outcome such as annual income, net worth, alumni employment, and income distribution. While success is measured in many ways, this book does not focus merely on the financial success of graduates, but the intellectual and spiritual success as well. It also gives insight to such interesting rates as: freshman retention, alumni giving, overall happiness, career preparation, and political spectrum.
CEO and Executive Editor of The Alumni Factor, Monica McGurk, and her team are really proud that both parents and children are finding it useful. One great quote from a parent is “I had to literally pry the book out of my son’s hands, he is that engrossed in it.” Another one, from a different parent who had been struggling to get her child to engage proactively in the college application process, was that “we sat down and went on the website and within a matter of hours had surfaced six schools that had not been on our radar screen, that were great fits, to which he was excited to apply. It really lit a fire under him-a complete 180 degree change!”
The Alumni Factor’s vision is “to become the most authoritative and trusted source of data and insights into the actual performance of colleges and universities.” This book is a crucial reference source for anyone researching colleges and universities. See a sample at AlumniFactor.com or check out their Facebook and Twitter pages for more information.

Man in the Blue Moon

When I first had the pleasure of hearing Michael Morris describe his new book, I was skeptical.  Healers, the Garden of Eden, a man in a box, drug addicts, drunks, murder, magic waters, conspiracies....I thought "How in the world is he going to pull this off"?  I should kick myself.  Not only does he "pull it off" but he manages to get the reader so involved in the characters and the town that I found myself thinking about the story anytime I took a break. While it was definitely hard to put the book down, the laundry doesn't wash itself.  I cheered for Ella and wondered about Lanier.  I wanted to give Myer Simpson a tongue lashing and I wanted to...well, what should I say about Clive Gillespie?

I was quite amazed at the quantity of characters in the novel.  Generally, once the cast of characters surpasses a certain point, I find myself questioning "who said what?" or "which guy is this again?" That was not the case and Morris masterfullly combines a multitude of characters to create a story so layered and detailed that I would re-read it.  I'm not usually a "re-reader."  I enjoy a story and I move on.  I am a very thorough reader and never rush through a work, but I know I would see details that I missed on a first reading.

In short: The Man in the Blue Moon has the soul of a novel that will maintain its status as a critical piece of Southern fiction for years to come.

Part 2:
The English major in me always thinks about what I would focus on if I were to write a full paper on the work.

  • Biblical references and comparisons would warrant a paper almost as long as the book.  
  • Small town as macrocosm and microcosm.  
  • Animal imagery (The snake in the grass IS Clive...I guess this could be biblical, too. cats, birds, dogs, owls, alligators, mules and horses. Ruby's fireflies)
  • Food / Fruit imagery (cherries on Ruby's turban and Camille's dress, the lawmen's cheese and crackers, oysters, lunch pails and Coca-cola)
  • Validation (receipts, deeds, checks, notarized letters, faked letters)
  • Moral actions (Bonaparte and his men, Earl's drinking, Myer's gossip)
What are the main themes you identified as you read the work?  I'd love to hear from you in a comment below.