Check Out My Interview with Eric Ladau

Follow the link to hear my interview with Eric Ladau of Houston's KUHF/FM 88.5. Eric's been interviewing authors for sometime and it was my honor to hang out with him, be it over the phone, for the several minutes we got to talk. Be honest, though: I sound like a dork, right?



The Thriller: Mankell v. Deaver, Masterpiece Theater, etc.

So, my pastor and I took a trip to Sweden recently where he preached at my father-in-law's church and where we helped my dad-in-law work on the old family farm house on a farm called Texabo. On the way over I got to catch Firewall, an Inspector Kurt Wallander thriller, produced by and or for Masterpiece Theater on PBS. I was afraid I was going to miss all three televised stories based on Henning Mankell's novels. But go figure, there it was, showing on the mini-screen before me. It stars Kenneth Branaugh, and he does a fair job, though I've always pictured Wallander in a whole other way. Thicker, more pasty maybe, bigger. But still, a good film. Anyhow, for my reading on the way I took with me two Jeffery Deaver thrillers, The Broken Window and The Stone Monkey, both of which feature his most famous CSI guy, Lincoln Rhyme. They were both page-turners. The first is about identity theft, and the whole time I was away from home I feared that if I swiped my card in a foreign land that I'd be left with nothing in the bank account. But it's also about big brother and their multiple uses of all kinds of bits and pieces of our information. The second was about dissidents in China coming over to the U.S. illegally, and before they even land on our soil, there's an explosion, set off by the very person charged with bringing them over. It's a good story, and I preferred it to the first. But then I went to a book store in Sweden and found a collection of short stories called The Pyramid, by Henning Mankell that feature a younger Officer Wallander. In each story, years have passed and we get to see the young man become Inspector Wallander. I'm halfway through, but I can tell you this much, I prefer Mankell to Deaver (whose Devil's Teardrop comes closest to competing against Mankell's writing, which is more literary, deeper). Dennis Lehane is perhaps Mankell's counterpart in the States.

Thanks to the men and women in the U.S. military who've given their lives to ensure our present freedoms. Thanks also to their families.


Video Book Talks Blog, To Open Soon

Over the last few semesters, one of the highlights for me has been the video book talks that I've assigned my students. I get to hear and see what they have to say about what they're reading, and better than me getting to see and hear, I get to show them to others, and in turn they get to hear and see and hopefully pass them on to others readers in search of what title to pick up next. But I imagine that it's a bit of a hassle to go down every one of my students' links that I provide on this blog in hopes of finding a VBT you could use. So, I spoke with Dr. Katie Button in the College of Education here at Texas Tech, one of my mentors, and the person in charge for establishing and basically putting together TTU's Children's Literature Festival these past several years. Anyhow, she had set up a book talk session that we offered to students and colleagues and anyone who was interested once, maybe twice a semester. Though successful, they seem to have fallen by the wayside, and I attribute that to the inconveniences of life: would that none of us had work or studies or both, so that we could do nothing but read and talk about what we're reading, but alas, life rules. And overtakes these other important aspects of a person. So, we are putting the two together: a blog for childrens and YA video book talks. Mostly, initially, it'll be where my students upload their digital assignments, but the idea is for others to produce their own video book talks and submit them for consideration. My dream is that elementary, middle, and high school students, teachers, and librarians will also take part in the upkeep of this site. For my (very dorky) video welcome, visit http://www.chatandchewbooktalks.blogspot.com/.