Books, Web, Music

BOOKS

Momma Loves Her Some Eggnog,
by Tim Mikkelsen and Phyllis Wright

"Every year during the holidays it's nice to just relax and have a cocktail. And then, after the holidays, it's nice just to relax and have a cocktail." If you're nodding your head in agreement, Tim Mikkelsen and Phyllis Wright's Christmas collection should be at the top of your gift—or wish—list this year.
    
Charlotte-based greeting card company MikWright promises "greetings that provoke." They deliver in this tiny, festive book, in which Mikkelsen and Wright have gathered their favorite holiday cards—the most hilarious and happily inappropriate of the bunch—into a gem of a stocking stuffer.
    
For each card, a nostalgic holiday photo is paired with an outrageous caption, which will have you laughing at your own holiday blues. And if " 'twas the night before Christmas, and Grandma was smashed" sounds more like your family's holidays, you might be tempted to keep it for yourself. Andrews McMeel Publishing, $6.99. —Lauren Forsythe

Inspired Cooking,
by First Presbyterian Church

Finding a cookbook that provides recipes that cover all types of cooks, offers dishes you actually want to make, plus keeps it local can be tough. But such is not the case with First Presbyterian Church's Inspired Cooking. With recipe contributions from the likes of Mimosa Grill, Luce, Something Classic, Blue, Sonoma, and others, plus those by church members, it's no wonder the selection is varied and excellent.

We tried the Grilled Ginger Lime Pork Tenderloin and the Toffee Brownies and the results were, you guessed it, a home run. Plus, find menus throughout for certain events like a bridal tea and late summer lunch.

Available at www.inspiredcooking.org or Levine Museum of the New South, $29.95. —Blake Miller

WEB

Travel on the Fly,
at Cheapflights.com

Before you board that plane for your holiday travels, here's some quick reading or listening for you. Cheapflights.com features a monthly podcast series that is available as an mp3 and a brochure (downloadable PDF), hosted and written by travel blogger
Jerry Chandler.

In the His & Her Airport Amenities Guide, Chandler recommends if you're flying in or out of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport that you (men) stop by the Johnston & Murphy store and you (ladies) pay a visit to The Body Shop. And the Holiday Air Travel Survival Guide features helpful tips—if you want a good deal, "Catch a Christmas morning flight and arrive in time for family supper."
    
Available at www.cheapflights.com/travel-guide-podcasts. —J. H.

MUSIC

Waltzing the Splendor,
by Claire Ritter

The best art is drawn from inspiration. Claire Ritter was inspired when she recorded her latest album, Waltzing the Splendor. The Weddington resident credits Georgia O'Keeffe's painting Orange and Red Streak, and the views she admired last spring from her "almost all-glass artist house on Tango's Hill outside of Charlotte" as her muse.

The eighteen tracks on this, Ritter's ninth album, demonstrate her tremendous talents as a pianist. You can catch Ritter on December 2 when she presents "Artistry in the Chords." See Agenda page 53 for details.

Available at www.claireritter.com . —J. H.

Q&A

The Days Between the Years
by Sherry Austin

Charlotte author Sherry Austin, pictured, has recently published her third novel, The Days Between the Years. It's the story of Trixie Goforth, a widow who is reminded of her almost-forgotten past. —Sarah Morse

Your novel is inspired by true events. How did you find out about this woman and her life story? This is based on a woman in my family circle who lost her love interest in the war. All her life she never, never forgot this early love interest, and that sparked my interest in the kinds of effects that the war had on people that aren't recorded in casualty statistics.

The story is set in Spindale. What kind of effect does sense of place have on your work? I think a place should almost be a character. My first two books tended to be on the supernatural side, and I learned from Edgar Allan Poe that you need to ground such stuff in concrete reality. So that motivated me to really try to put the reader in the place. 

Is this a story more about growing old, about growing up in those times, or simply about growing as an independent woman? It's all that, plus it has the concern that we have as human beings with the big questions in life, and primarily what happens when life is over. That is major in everything I've written. Most people have said that [this novel] has really affected them emotionally at the end, but it left them feeling good. This is my “feel good” book. Also, I'm hearing that it has made women want to go talk to their mothers or their grandmothers who remember the World War II days to find out what happened to them, what they have to say about the days between their years.

Austin is holding several book signings in the area.
Go to www.sherryaustin.com for more details.

Categories: Buzz > Critical Eye, Opinion, The Buzz