Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Great Variety of Books by Abilene Authors

Abilene authors continue to write and publish books covering an interesting variety of topics and styles, from recipes, essays and poems to etiquette, history and culture. Here are a few examples of books by local authors that have crossed my desk in recent weeks:

This Path is an excellent collection of essays and poems dealing with the various paths that people’s lives have taken them. This isn’t strictly a local book because the contributors come from all over, but it was edited and published by the Silver Boomer Book group of Abilene, which includes Barbara Rollins, Ginny Greene, Kerin Riley-Bishop and Becky Haigler. Greene’s essay, “This One Can,” about a teacher who encouraged her to read, is especially noteworthy. But the book is loaded with outstanding short pieces of similar quality. $14 paperback.

The Amazing Grace cookbook was published in conjunction with the centennial celebration of the Grace Hotel building, now the Grace Museum. Sponsored by Los Aficionados, the museum’s volunteer support group, the book is intended as a fundraiser for the museum. The cookbook committee, chaired by Judy Godfrey, selected several hundred recipes submitted by Abilenians, as well as shared memories and comments about the Grace and its history. Good reading, good cooking, good cause. $25 hardcover.

Prexy: James Winford Hunt by Darris L. Egger and Robert W. Sledge is a biography of the founding president of McMurry University who, in his lifetime, was a cowboy, newspaper editor, preacher, president of two colleges, poet, essayist, and crusader. He was president of McMurry from 1923 until his death in 1934, but his legacy is still very evident on the campus. Current president John H. Russell wrote the introduction. $23.95 hardcover.

The Gift by Lila Ellexson Senter is a collection of “word gifts” or poems she has shared with family and friends at Christmas for more than 25 years. All proceeds from the book benefit the Hope Haven endowment fund. The book is illustrated with black and white renditions from a number of local artists. Certainly a “gift” for the season. $15 paperback.

Best Foot Forward: A Basic Guide to Good Manners for Kids (or Grownups Who Need a Little Reminder) by longtime middle school teacher Wanda Elizabeth Middleton is a book that is desperately needed these days! In very simple, straightforward language, Middleton offers practical etiquette advice on introductions, conversation, telephone use, table manners, correspondence, dances & parties, and dating. Her Number 1 cardinal rule for young people dealing with adults? “Always look people in the eye!” Every young person, from fourth grade up, should read this book. Wouldn’t hurt some of the rest of us as well. $14.99 paperback.

Moonlady is a children’s book beautifully written and illustrated by Marsha Middleton Murray. The soothing lyrical cadence makes it a great “sweet dreams” book to read to young children before bedtime. $15.95 hardcover.

Answer Book: Abilene Christian University is a 330-page reference guide to ACU and Abilene. Edited by Charlie Marler, longtime ACU journalism professor and student newspaper adviser, the Answer Book (now in its 15th edition) is a copy desk reference for student journalists on The Optimist, ACU’s student newspaper, and now offered to the public. Presented in alphabetical order, the entries provide invaluable information about the campus and the larger Abilene community. Certainly a handbook on ACU history, this book deserves a place on the reference shelf of all Abilene writers, broadcasters, historians and trivia buffs. $19.95 paperback.

New Elmer Kelton Novel Continues Ranger Series; New Western from Kent Conwell

Elmer Kelton, the masterful Western author from San Angelo who passed away in August, completed two more novels in his Texas Ranger series before he died.

The first one, Other Men’s Horses (Forge, $24.99 hardcover), came out last month. It is the eighth novel in the Ranger series. One more is due next year, which should in turn lead to a third repackaged trilogy the year after that.

Andy Pickard is back as the lead character, still serving as a Texas Ranger in the 1880s but wishing he could retire from the force and spend more time with his young wife, Bethel, on their farm. But rangering provides a more stable income than farming, and at this stage in their marriage they need the money.

He is assigned to track down a man who killed a horse thief, which he does in short order only to find the man’s associates ready to kill him. The wanted man saves Pickard’s life and then hightails it, but Pickard warns him that he will still have to hunt him down and bring him to justice.

When the wanted man’s wife sets out to join her husband, Pickard trails her. The woman stops at a prairie shack where she learns that her husband is not who she thought he was. Another horse thief shoots her husband, leaves him for dead, and takes her captive, intending to have his way with her.

Pickard and a deserter from Fort Concho who killed a man follow in pursuit as the chase takes a number of twists and turns. They cross the trail of quite a few low-life characters but also some decent folks who go out of their way to help a lady trying to make it on her own.

Days of Vengeance: Western author Kent Conwell of Port Neches has written a fast-paced tale set in Arizona territory – Days of Vengeance (Leisure Books, $6.99 paperback).

Ben Elliott and other ranchers find themselves besieged by someone who is obviously trying to drive them from their land. First come the cattle rustlers, then the stakes get considerably more deadly.

When Elliott’s best friend is killed and Elliott is cheated out of his property, he vows vengeance on the man he has determined is trying to run off all the ranchers and claim their land for himself.

Relying on the lessons learned when he lived with the Apaches as a boy, Elliott sets out to even the score and bring the offender to justice.

Conwell, a prolific author of Westerns and mysteries, also has several new titles from Avalon Books, which markets novels primarily to libraries. Recent hardback titles ($23.95) include a Western – Shootout on the Sabine – and two contemporary Tony Boudreaux mysteries – An Unmarked Grave and The Puzzle of Piri Reis. Inquire at your library about these and other Conwell stories.