Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bestselling Author Coming to Pitt-Bradford

Sarah Dessen, the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels for teens, will speak April 11 at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Dessen will share stories about writing and her books, read, and sign books at 7 p.m. in the Harriett B. Wick Chapel. The program is free and open to the public. The Pitt-Bradford hospitality management program will provide refreshments.

A community forum will be held at 5 p.m. in the chapel to discuss how young adult novels can spark conversations about adolescent development and common concerns faced by teenagers.

The interactive discussion, “Talking about the World of Teenagers Using Novels They Read,” will be led by Dr. Rebecca McHugh, assistant professor of psychology. Teens, parents, teachers and anyone else interested may attend.

McHugh will be joined by Mary Anne Polucci-Sherman, a psychologist at Bradford Regional Medical Center, and Suzy Meyer-Page, a counselor at Deerfield Behavioral Health.

Earlier this year, Dessen received the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens.

That writing includes “Dreamland,” “Keeping the Moon,” “Just Listen,” “The Truth About Forever,” “Along for the Ride,” “What Happened to Goodbye?” and “This Lullaby.”

Edwards Award committee chairperson, Joy Milliam, said “The teen years are often filled with anxiety, conflict and a sense of helplessness, but Sarah Dessen’s voice brings comfort, acceptance and love. Her stories lead to answers without condescension. Readers are empowered and learn that they have the ability to overcome their challenges.

In writing a review for her novel “What Happened to Goodbye” in 2011, Susan Carpenter of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Sarah Dessen is something of a rock star in young adult fiction. Her bestselling coming-of-age novels are warmly written explorations of teens in transition that are, by turns, questioning, humorous and hopeful.”

Dessen’s newest novel, “Once and for All,” set in the world of wedding planning, will be released in June. She lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., where she grew up as the child of two professors at the University of North Carolina.

Dessen’s visit is co-sponsored by the Bradford Area Public Library, Bradford Area School District, Friends of Hanley Library, the Pitt-Bradford Division of Management and Education, Port Allegany School District, the Blaisdell Foundation, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Humanities Center.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Author to Sign Books Saturday in RC

Brian Toolan, Class of 1972, will be on campus Saturday to sign copies of his book “Snubbed,” the season-long chronicle of St. Bonaventure’s omission from the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Toolan will be signing copies of his book from 1 to 4 p.m. outside the SBU Bookstore. The Bonnies host Duquesne at 4 p.m. in the Reilly Center Arena that day.

Friday morning, Toolan will speak to the students who staff TAPinto Greater Olean as part of Anne and Richard Lee’s Journalists’ Workshop class. Friday. He also will be doing a podcast about his book with one of the Journalists’ Workshop students after the class.

Toolan had a 43-year career as a newspaper reporter and editor, including as senior vice president and editor of the Hartford Courant when it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999.

“Snubbed: A Basketball Season of Triumph, Crisis and Despair at St. Bonaventure University,” looks back at an Atlantic 10 championship year for the third-smallest college in NCAA Division I. His reporting began months ahead of the season’s tipoff, not long after the university had reaffirmed its commitment to remain a Division I program.

Amid this tumult, Coach Mark Schmidt prepared his team for the school’s 96th season of men’s basketball. It began with injuries depleting the roster and resulted in adjustments to the style of play. The Bonnies were predicted to finish eighth in the A-10 by league coaches.

Granting Toolan generous access, Schmidt, frank and strikingly unvarnished, is the book’s key figure. The soaring performances that resulted in a share of the conference championship and the crushing process that denied the Bonnies an NCAA Tournament bid are recounted in a manner difficult to achieve in daily coverage of any season.

“Snubbed” is published by NFBPublishing in Buffalo and is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, NFBPublishing.com, Dog Ears bookstore, Talking Leaves bookstore and other outlets.

Lots of Author Interviews ...

Christina Baker Kline, Alex George, Nick Petrie, M.A. Lawson, Reed Farrell Coleman, Robert Knott, Herb Freed, Sebastian Barry, Eric Wiberg and the awesome Brad Taylor are the authors I've interviewed so far this year.

You can hear the interviews here: WESB.com/on-demand.

Among the authors I have scheduled in the next few weeks are Steve Clark, Christine Lennon, Rachel Abbot and the awesome Steve Berry. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mackowski to Speak at Pitt-Bradford

 Dr. Chris Mackowski ’91, an author and Civil War historian, will present a program on the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

The talk, which is being sponsored by the Friends of Hanley Library, will take place in Rice Auditorium in Fisher Hall. It is free and open to the public.

The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse took place in Virginia from May 8-21 in 1864 and was part of Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign. The goal of the Overland Campaign was for the Union armies to come between the armies of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the city of Richmond.

Although the battle ended with no conclusive winner, the number of casualties was staggering, with the two sides fighting in hand-to-hand combat inside Confederate entrenchments. The worst of the bloodshed occurred at an exposed portion of the line Confederates dubbed the “Mule Shoe” and a nearby curve that came to be known as the “Bloody Angle” where bodies piled up five deep in a driving rainstorm.

Mackowski’s talk is based on “A Season of Slaughter: The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, May 8-21, 1864,” a book he co-authored with Kristopher White.

Mackowski is a professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University. He is the editor-in-chief of Emerging Civil War and managing editor of the Emerging Civil War Series, for which he has co-authored eight books along with editing five more.


He is also historian-in-residence at Stevenson Ridge, a historic property on the Spotsylvania battlefield in central Virginia. He has also worked as a historian for the National Park Service at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, where he gives tours of four major battlefields as well as the building where Confederate general Stonewall Jackson died.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Secrets, secrets and more secrets. This book is full of them -- and twists. They all make for a book I could not put down.

Anne and Marco Conti are at a dinner party when their 6-month-old daughter Cora is kidnapped. About halfway through the book we find out who was involved in the kidnapping and why but, it also gets juicier as the culprit tries to keep the secret even though this person has a feeling people know.

The police are treating Anne and Marco as suspects and, as they are questioned numerous times, secret upon secret is revealed.

I'm not going to say any more about the story because I really don't want to spoil it. But, I will say ... This is a debut?!? Holy smokes, Shari Lapena, I wish you'd started writing sooner. Keep it up. I'm looking forward to the next one.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Widower's Wife by Cate Holahan
Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst


These are two very different -- but very satisfying books.

You can listen to my interviews with both authors HERE.

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Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this book after I asked a book club full of fantastic members what they were reading. It didn't take me long to see why it's a great book club read. There are so many issues to discuss -- rape, date rape, consent, bullying, peer pressure, teacher/student relationships, friendship, and so much more.

The story is told from Ani's point of view and we learn very early on that something awful happened to her when she was 14 years old and going to a small private school near Philadelphia. Now 28 and a successful magazine editor, she's been asked to participate in a documentary about an incident at the school. We're led to believe -- or, at least I was -- it's about the incident involving Ani that we already know about. Turns out that it's not and the incident it is about is simply horrific and that -- not the first incident -- has had more of an effect on Ani's life.

One thing about her adult life is that she's engaged to a guy from -- as her mother would say -- a hoity toity family. But she's questioning whether he really is everything she ever wanted. She comes to what I believe is the perfect decision for the perfect reason.

I highly recommend this book, whether you belong to a book club or not.

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