Indigo Girls Share their Brilliant Dream

"Staring Down the Brilliant Dream" by the Indigo Girls


Folk fans already know the luscious harmonies and heart wrenching lyrics of the Indigo Girls, composed of Emily Saliers, Amy Ray and a variety of guest musicians. For those not familiar with these multi-talented ladies, "Staring Down the Brilliant Dream," a live double disc, is an excellent place to start.

Though the radio airwaves feature many female singer/songwriters that live reclusively and show up only on MTV unplugged, the Indigo Girls are the ultimate touring band. Often their live shows are better than their studio material.  What is lost in production quality is made up for by the passion and exhilaration of their performance.

Farewell to Vince Flynn

"The Last Man" by Vince Flynn


Many readers will be saddened to hear that author Vince Flynn has died. They may also be surprised to learn that he was only 47 years old. Given the number of his bestsellers on library shelves, I pictured a much older man - perhaps a retired military officer who used his years of intelligence experience to craft successful espionage thrillers.

Actually Flynn was working in commercial real estate when he began writing his first novel "Term Limits." After receiving 60 rejection letters from publishers, Flynn decided to self-publish the book in 1997. It was a hit, and Flynn soon had both an agent and a deal with a traditional publisher.

Trains and Lovers

"Trains and Lovers" by Alexander McCall Smith


Alexander McCall Smith is a remarkably prolific writer, adding to several popular series each year. The "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" follows the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, the first female private detective in Botswana. The thirteenth book in the series, "The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon," will be published in November.

The "Isabel Dalhousie" series is set in Edinburgh, Scotland and features an amateur sleuth. Last year's "The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds" was the ninth in that series.

Catch Rachel Maddow's "Drift"

"Drift" by Rachel Maddow


Television commentator Rachel Maddow has transferred her skills as a broadcaster into writing a book, "Drift: The Unmooring of American MilitaryPower." This treatise covers presidential tenures from LBJ through the present, focusing on how the executive branch of government has taken over American military policy. I remember many of the events she describes, although not as many facts and quotes as she recounts. Maddow maintains that we the people have allowed the use of the US military to drift away from the authority of our representatives in Congress.

The nation's founders wanted war to be difficult to declare. They meant for warfare to involve the public, even or especially when it hurts. War was not supposed to be a tool of foreign policy or diplomacy.

Cat Mysteries

"Cat Bearing Gifts" by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

I have a confession. I'm addicted to cat mysteries. Cats are natural sleuths. If they're connected to a library or bookstore, they are unstoppable. This summer if you're looking for a purrfect summer read, let me recommend a few of my favorite series.

The Cat Who mysteries by the late Lillian Jackson Braun are at the top of the list. She wrote 29 mysteries featuring KoKo and Yum-Yum and their two legged companion, James Qwilleran. The mysteries are set in the fictional town of Pickax located in Moose County "400 miles north of everywhere." While not the greatest mysteries, the characters, dialogue, and of course, the cats make these a light hearted summer read.

Hometown Tourist

"100 Things to Do in St. Louis Before You Die

A recent trend in guidebooks is the "before you die" list of things to do or see. Thus we have "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," "1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die," and "1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die."

I am not a fan of this concept. When deciding on leisure activities, do you really need that kind of pressure? But I did enjoy St. Louisan Amanda Doyle's new book "100 Things to Do in St. Louis Before You Die."

The Fault In Our Stars

"The Fault In Our Stars" by John Green

Rarely has a book, teen fiction or otherwise, stayed with me the way this marvelous John Green novel has since completing it. Friend after friend recommended this book to me. Often this recommendation came with the warning, "the book is amazingly awesome. Get the tissues." Right away I began to empathize with characters to the point where I wondered...Did John Green know these families? Is this actually one of those non-fiction books that's been categorized as fiction with names changed in an effort to "protect the innocent?" The author's note assures us. No, this is fiction. The medicine used to help the cancer patients in the novel is a figment of his imagination. This is a true pity. 

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