Louisiana Book News by Cheré Dastugue Coen

Published Sundays in The Daily Advertiser of Lafayette and Monroe News Star of Monroe.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cookbook Thursday: Discovering The Catholic Foodie, enjoying Casamento’s Oyster Soup

            The beauty of social media is you find so many interesting people following the interesting people you follow. Do you follow?
            Take Jeff Young, for instance, I stumbled upon his book signing announcement through a friend’s Twitter and just had to know more about “The Catholic Foodie.” Young, a former seminarian and educator, lives in New Orleans and writes a blog and podcast called “The Catholic Foodie” and is author of “Around the Table with The Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine.” The book includes stories from his visits to the Holy Land, as well as 70-plus recipes.
            As if that’s not enough, Young will be leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from Feb. 26 to March 8, 2015 with Chef Matt Murphy, owner and operator of The Irish House in New Orleans and winner of Food Network’s Chopped in 2012, and Fr. Kyle Sanders, a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
            You have to check out his blog and view his recipe for Pan-Fried Trout with Pistachio and Dill — with mouth-watering photos. I'm so ready to see what else The Catholic Foodies has in store. 
             The weather has been nippy way down South, so here’s something to warm your heart and soul, Casamento’s oyster soup from the cookbook, “New Orleans Classic Creole Recipes.” Oysters grow plump in cool waters so let’s hope those Gulf beauties are enjoying this rare November cold snap.

CJ Gerdes, Casamento’s "Oyster Soup"
3 1/2 cups water
2 dozen freshly shucked oysters, drained
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

             Directions: In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the oysters and cook for 3 minutes. Remove oysters with a slotted spoon and reserve 3 cups of liquid. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook celery and onions in 1 tablespoon of butter, stirring constantly until tender. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the reserved liquid, garlic, thyme, red pepper and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Stir in the cream. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and return to a simmer. Once the milk is added, never heat the soup past a simmer. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, then cook for about 3 more minutes until smooth (the mixture will be very thick). Gradually add the flour mixture to the saucepan, stirring with a wire whisk until blended. Add oysters, salt and white pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf and serve immediately.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Words & Music: A Literary Feast opens in New Orleans

            Words and Music 2014, featuring more than 50 authors, will be held Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 20-22, in New Orleans. The festivities kick off Thursday at the Hotel Monteleone with presentations by authors with new, New Orleans-related books and include a Literature & Lunch at Bayona Restaurant and a session with dream analyst and bestselling author Rodger Kamenetz, who will teach participants how dreams can inspire artistic creativity.
            The headliners for Words & Music include Randy Fertel, author of “A Taste for Chaos;” Lawrence Powell, author of “The Accidental City;” Rebecca Snedeker, co-author of “Unfathomable City, a New Orleans Atlas,” the “One Book” selection for New Orleans this year; Pulitzer Prize finalist Luis Alberto Urrea; Caroline Clarke, author of “Postcards from Cookie,” a memoir about how she discovered that her biological grandfather was music icon Nat King Cole; James Nolan, author of “You Don’t Know Me: New and Selected Stories;” and Moira Crone, a Robert Penn Warren Award winner and author of the new novel, “The Ice Garden.”
            And that’s just mentioning a few.
            For a schedule of festival events, visit http://wordsandmusic.org/2014-schedule.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Book events Nov. 18-22

            I (your humble blogger Chere Dastugue Coen) will be speaking as part of “An Evening with Author Cheré Dastugue Coen” from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Nix Library in New Orleans. I will be discussing my latest books, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” along with my book “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets” which I coauthored with Jude Bradley.
             Lyrically Inclined Poetry Slam and Open Mic will feature poet Micaela Simpson at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Black Cafe in downtown Lafayette. Doors open at 6 p.m. There is a $5 cover. To sign up for the open mic, contact PoeticSoul337@gmail.com or sign up at the door.
            Andi Eaton signs “New Orleans Style” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Maple Street Bookshop in New Orleans.
            Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Rick Bragg speaks of his latest book, “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans. Bragg is the best-selling author of “Ava’s Man” and “All Over But the Shoutin.’” He spent two years interviewing Lewis, who hails from Ferriday, Louisiana.
            The second annual Ernest J. Gaines Lecture begins at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21. at the Ernest J. Gaines Center, Edith Garland Dupré Library on the UL-Lafayette campus. Dr. John Lowe of the University of Georgia, a member of the Gaines Center’s Advisory Board of Gaines Scholars, will speak about Gaines’ first published novel, “Catherine Carmier.”

UL Press Author Signings 
            The following University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press authors will be signing books:
            Tina Freeman and Morgan Molthrop will sign “Artist Spaces, New Orleans” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at Maple Street Books, 7529 Maple St. in New Orleans and at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at Words and Music Festival in New Orleans and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at the New Orleans Athletic Club.
            James Nolan signs “You Don't Know Me: New and Selected Stories” at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at Words and Music Festival, New Orleans.
            W. Geoff Gjertson and Dege Legg sign “Generating Hope: Stories of the BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home” from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at UL’s Fletcher Hall Room 134.

LSU Season’s Readings
            LSU Press and The Southern Review present Season's Readings, an annual holiday sale and multi-author book signing from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at the Club at LSU Union Square on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. Books and journals will be sold at discounted prices, and there will be free gift wrapping and refreshments. The following authors will be present: Nolde Alexius, Jinx Broussard, Vincent Caire. Alex V.Cook, Michael Desmond, Ronald Drez, Ava Leavell Haymon, Judy Kahn, Kelli Scott Kelley, Laura Lindsay, C C Lockwood, Mary Manhein, Ryan Orgera, Wayne Parent, Michael Rubin, Barbara Barnes Sims and John Wirt.

One Book, One South
            The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance selected “Citizens Creek” by Lalita Tademy, author of the Louisiana-based “Cane River,” as its One Book, One South read, “a Southern-wide book club discussion taking place at independent bookstores across the South and online at ReaderMeetWriter.com.” During November, independent booksellers and ReaderMeetWriter.com will sponsor discussions about the novel, culminating in a live Q and A with the author on Thursday, Nov. 20, on the ReaderMeetWriter Facebook page. “Citizens Creek” follows a former slave and his family during the 19th century.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Heartla Author Luncheon celebrates local talent

            On Nov. 15, I was honored to be a part of the Heart of Louisiana Romance Writers annual author luncheon at Juban’s in Baton Rouge, with best-selling author Diana Crosby as the keynote speaker offering us great advice and inspiration.
             Participating authors — you’ll be amazed at how much talent there is in Louisiana — included:
             Christa Allen is the author of love stories “Love Finds You in New Orleans,” “Threads of Hope” (one of the books in Abingdon’s Quilt Series) and “Test of Faith” as well as “Walking on Broken Glass” and “The Edge of Grace.”
            In addition to dressing up and interviewing authors on her blog ‘The Romancechik Speaks,” Nancy Brandt has published “Fabric of Faith” and  “Sword and Illusion” with her husband, Steve Brandt.
            Donna Caubarreaux writes as Pepper Phillips, offering “Southern sass with a touch of heart” with books such as “This Devil Has Dimples,” “The Vow” and “The Christmas Gift,” which is hot on Amazon right now. 
            James Buddy Estes is the author of “Alabama’s Youngest Admirals” and other titles and reported that his books are being read in Alabama schools. 
            Shana Galen of Houston is the bestselling author of Regency historicals, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice, “The Making of a Gentleman.”
            Lori Leger of Kinder has published through her own publishing house, Cajun Flair Publishing. She has several books out right now, including holiday anthologies, “Hearts, Hearths and Holidays” and “Christmas by Candlelight.” You can even learn Cajun cooking on her web site!
            Trish F. Leger of Jennings focuses on Druids in her Wiccan romance series and she’s also one of the authors in Lori Leger’s anthologies.
            Anne Clarye Mason of Baton Rouge writes romances under this name and mysteries under A.C. Mason. I just picked up her “Mardi Gras Gris Gris” in anticipation of Carnival beginning Jan. 6, 2015. She is also the author of the newly released “Deadly Bayou.” 
            Shirlee McCoy of Baton Rouge, inspirational author at Silhouette and Kengsington, has a new book in time for the holidays, “Her Christmas Guardian,” where former army ranger Boone Anderson must help Scout Cramer retrieve her child from kidnappers “before the kidnappers cancel Christmas for all of them permanently.” 
            Judy McDonough just released “Deadline,” book one in The Bayou Secrets saga, along with "Lifeline," book two.
            Rhonda McKey aka Rhonda Leah writes erotic and contemporary romances, her latest being “Risking Delaney” from Lyrical Press. 
            Farrah Rochon of Gramercy is a USA Today best-selling author of contemporary romances. Her latest is “I Dare You!,” book four in the “Moments in Maplesville” series, but you’ll also find holiday books such as the “Hot Christmas Nights" anthology and “A Perfect Holiday Fling.” 
            Wendy Russo writes YA science fiction and her latest, “January Black,” will be released Christmas Day. The book features 17-year-old Matty Ducayn who gets treacherous adventure after being expelled from the orderly “Hill.” She lives in Baton Rouge, working as an IT analyst for LSU. 
            Lynn Shurr of New Iberia is a retired librarian who has been knocking out romances left and right, many involving the New Orleans Sinners football team. She has also begun a new Mardi Gras series, the single title enviromental romance, “A Trashy Affair,” and the spicy Cajun romances, “A Taste of Bayou Water” and “Blessings and Curses.”  
            T.S. Tate/Eden Butler is currently Editor-in-Chief at LitStack.com and co-founder with Heather McCorkle of #WritersRoad chat on Twitter. Her flash fiction, "Street Noises," was included in the Pill Hill Press anthology "Daily Frights 2012: 366 Days of Dark Flash Fiction (Leap Year Edition)" and her short "Til Hunt Be Done," was included in the Winter Wonders anthology from Compass Press
            Jo Templeton writes historical romance (“A Pirate’s Kiss”) and paranormal fiction, featuring a fallen angel hoping to get back to heaven, “Scorned,” in addition to many other books. 
            I feel like I'm missing someone, which tells you how much talented this chapter has!
            Here’s a few more romances to heat up your holiday season, books I learned about from my goodie bag.            
            Jennifer Comeaux of Covington incorporates her love of figure skating in her novels and her latest is “Crossing the Ice,” where pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream and vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team. The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though.
            Marian Merritt as a holiday novella titled “Southern Fried Christmas” in which Colorado native Kelly Shepherd takes an assignment to write articles on Cajun Christmas culture after spending eight days in Cajun country. She meets widow Denny Labouve, owner of an oilfield company and dad to a 10-year-old daughter and proves that “love is deeper than a Louisiana bayou.” Her other books include “A Cajun Christmas Miracle” and “Deep Freeze Christmas.”
            The Heart of Louisiana RWA chapter meets at 10 a.m. the fourth Saturday of every month in Baton Rouge. For more information, visit www.HeartLa.com.
That's me in the maroon sweater next to Joan Whalen,
right, and Anne Clayre Mason, left.

 Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

William Joyce delights with Oscar contender 'Numberlys' and a new twist on Jack and Beanstalk tale

            On a recent trip to Shreveport I was honored to receive an insider's tour of Moonbot Studios, home to the award-winning artist and storyteller William Joyce and company. The studio took home an Oscar in 2012 for the animated short film “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” (one of my all-time favorites which makes me tear every time I watch it) and two daytime Emmys this year for a YouTube video titled "Scarcrow" commissioned by Chipotle Mexican Grill.
            Both are exceptional.
            Earlier this year Joyce and Christina Ellis released an innovative children’s book “The Numberlys,” based on the 1927 Fritz Lang silent movie “Metropolis.” Children may not get the reference but the book’s design, many times told vertically to emphasize skyscraping modern urban life like the film, reflects Lang’s black and white dystopia. The characters are workers living in a non-colored world, marching lockstep within a factory that only utilizes numbers. When a group of five friends yearn for something more, they develop an alphabet and words provide fresh new meanings for everyone.
             The idea actually began as an interactive app by allowing readers to use their smart phones or tablets to explore the story, plus now the app allows for readers of the book to find additional fun within its pages. The mini-games are based on each letter of the alphabet.
            Following “The Numberly’s” success as a children’s book and app, Moonbot Studios turned the story into a film, which is in the semi-finals running for this year’s Oscar race for best animated short. The final nominations will be announced Jan. 15.
            And if that wasn’t enough good news for Joyce fans and lovers of great storytelling, Joyce and Kenny Callicutt have released a spin on the old tale of Jack and the beanstalk titled “A Bean, A Stalk and a Boy Named Jack.” In this version, the kingdom is experiencing a drought, which is causing the king to have one stinky pinky. The princess asks the magician to help and his work encourages a small boy named Jack to plant a tiny bean. The giant in this tale is a non-threatening boy taking a bath who befriends Jack. As Jack returns home by slipping down the drain, the water falling saves the kingdom.
            November is “Picture Book Month” and I’ll have more reviews next week. But do yourself a favor and discover Joyce’s vibrant imagination and artwork if you haven’t done so already. By the way, Joyce is creator behind “Epic,” “Rolie Polie Olie,” “Robots” and “Rise of the Guardians.”

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Examining Andrew Jackson at 1812 bicentennial

             This summer marked the bicentennial of the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which paved the way for Andrew Jackson’s southwestern expansion through Alabama to Louisiana in the Creek War. This little known yet critical event is detailed in Tennessee state archivist Tom Kanon’s new book, “Tennesseans at War,1812-1815” (The University of Alabama Press). Kanon is an archivist for the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the writer of “Brief History of Tennessee in the War of 1812” and “Regimental Histories of Tennessee Units during the War of 1812.”
             Note: “Andrew Jackson: Hero of New Orleans,” an exhibit to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, will be at the Historic New Orleans Collection Nov. 5 through March 29, 2015.
          Another book just released on the subject is “The War of 1812: Conflict and Deception, The British Attemptto Seize New Orleans and Nullify the Louisiana Purchase” by Ronald J. Drez (LSU Press). Drez’s book forms a comprehensive guide to the famous battle, but also brings to light its massive significance, securing the expansion of the country with the Louisiana Purchase. Drez served as the assistant director and research associate to Dr. Stephen Ambrose at the Eisenhower Center and to Dr. Douglas Brinkley at UNO for 20 years. He is the principal historian and president of Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. Read more at http://www.ronalddrez.com/.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Several new books examine New Orleans of 19th century

             Examinations of 19th century New Orleans seem to be on everyone’s minds these days for several exciting new books have hit the markets.
            One of the country’s first sensationalized kidnapping cases, in which two established Creoles of color are accused of stealing a blond, blue-eyed Irish child, makes up Michael A. Ross’s “The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era.” Not only does Ross keep readers hanging as the crime and resulting court case unfolds, but he showcases the city in the light of Reconstruction, when black men serve on both the police force and the jury.
            Gary Krist moves on to late 19th century New Orleans when Reconstruction and its efforts at race equality have failed and the city’s elite white leaders fight to reestablish control against an underworld of vice and crime in “Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz. Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans.” The book takes readers through the murder of Chief of Police David C. Hennessy, the riot and lynching against Italians accused of his murder, prostitution and the establishment of a red light district known as Storyville, the emergence of a new sound called jazz and the “Axman” serial killer. New Orleans has seen many decades of varied interest, but this time period is especially fascinating. Krist will be speaking at the New Orleans Book Festival this Saturday in City Park, New Orleans.
            Alan G. Gauthreaux looks at the large influx of Italian immigrants into New Orleans — and Louisiana — in the 19th century, their impact on the city and state and its economy, their contributions and the massive riot following the death of Hennessy that resulted in 11 Italian deaths in “Italian Louisiana: History, Heritage and Tradition.”
           Bayou St. John curving through New Orleans near City Park used to be a major source for transportation to the colonial city. In 1708 Antoine Rivard de Lavigne built a house on the bayou, and James Pitot purchased the architecturally significant home in 1804. In 1964, the house was in danger of demolition and the Louisiana Landmarks Society moved the Pitot House and restored it. To get a sense of the history of this magnificent house, read the newly released book “The Pitot House: A Landmark on Bayou St. John” by James Wade, a member of the Society’s board of directors, where he is also the correspondence secretary, chair of the publications committee, preservation editor and docent at the Pitot House museum.
            Rien Fertel, a visiting professor of history at Tulane, honors the early writings of white Creoles in New Orleans — literary names such as Grace King and George Washington Cable — in “Imagining the Creole City: The Rise of Literary Culture in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans.”

            Lake Charles resident Mike McHugh is a featured contributor in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Cats” with his story “Cat-awampus.” The series creators Dahlynn and Ken McKowen spent 10 years developing and co-authoring books for Chicken Soup for the Soul before launching their own anthology. There are now 10 books in the “Not Your Mother’s Books” series.

            The Lafayette Public Library Foundation presents Spell-a-bration, a corporate spelling bee benefiting the Lafayette Public Library on Thursday at the Lafayette Science Museum. Corporate-sponsored teams of three can compete in a spelling bee for adults with a “To Bee or Not to Bee” theme in celebration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Proceeds go toward funding for the Children's Entrance at the new Main Library downtown. For information or purchase tickets, call (337) 593-4770, email spellabration@lplfoundation.com or visit www.lplfoundation.org/spellabration.

Book events
            The fifth annual New Orleans Book Festival featuring authors Wally Lamb, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Trombone Shorty, Richard Campanella, William Joyce and many more will be Saturday at City Park in New Orleans. For more information, visit http://nolabookfest.org/.
            The Center for Louisiana Studies’ Bayou State Book Talks presents Genaro Ky Ly Smith, author of “The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story Ly Loc and His Seven Wives” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the South Regional Branch Library. The event is free and open to the public.
            Ava Levell Haymon, author of “Eldest Daughter,” and Kelli Scott Kelley, author of “Accalia and the Swamp Monster,” will sign copies of their books from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Barnes and Noble at LSU in Baton Rouge, in honor of University Press Week. 
            Author Mona Lisa Saloy, author of “Red Beans & Ricely Yours,” will speak at 6 p.m. Thursday at Peltier Auditorium at Nichol’s State in Thibodaux. The discussion is part of the university's Fletcher Lecture Series and is free and open to the public. Saloy also will take questions from 10:30 a.m. to noon Thursday in Le Bijou Theater in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union. Saloy is a folklorist and English professor at Dillard University in New Orleans.

            New Orleans Comics and Zines Fest will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the New Orleans Main Library. For more information, visit www.nocazfest.com.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.