Goodreads giveaways! (Who can resist free books? Enter to win here.)

We’re gearing up for a big fall season, and to celebrate, we thought we’d offer some of our upcoming fall and backlist titles to readers on Goodreads.

(Side note: If you don’t have a Goodreads account, you are missing out, my friend! It’s a social media site dedicated to books and readers, so you can rate and review the books you read and watch your friends do the same. Just like Facebook or Twitter, it’s free! And the best part? There are tons of book giveaways going on every day.)

So please enjoy our latest Goodreads giveaways listed below. With any luck, you’ll take home an autographed copy of a backlist title or get a sneak peek at some of our fall titles that haven’t yet been released.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Losing My Sister by Judy Goldman

Losing My Sister

by Judy Goldman

Giveaway ends September 02, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Politics of Barbecue by Blake Fontenay

The Politics of Barbecue

by Blake Fontenay

Giveaway ends August 15, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Woody Durham by Woody Durham

Woody Durham

by Woody Durham

Giveaway ends August 30, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Murder on Music Row by Stuart Dill

Murder on Music Row

by Stuart Dill

Giveaway ends August 25, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

I've Had It Up to Here With Teenagers by Melinda Rainey Thompson

I’ve Had It Up to Here With Teenagers

by Melinda Rainey Thompson

Giveaway ends August 25, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Summer Reading from Blair: Part I

The pool is open, half of my coworkers are out of the office on holiday, and it’s hot enough to enjoy a glass or two of sweet iced tea (or perhaps something stronger) on the porch. So here are a few of our favorite books to read when you’re taking a break from the real world this summer. Enjoy!

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Murder on Music Row: A Music Industry Thriller
Stuart Dill
2012 IPPY Award winner in the Mystery category

“Remember your first John Grisham? Country music veteran Dill (he served as a personal manager for Minnie Pearl, Dwight Yoakam, and other greats) doesn’t miss a beat in this debut high-adrenaline thriller full of twists and turns.”
—Library Journal, starred review

Judd Nix, a 23-year-old unpaid intern at Elite Management, welcomes the chance to become
the paid assistant of Simon Stills, one of country’s biggest managers, but he soon finds himself a witness to an assassination attempt. When a gunman takes aim at megastar Ripley Graham, Stills’s most important client and the last hope for the troubled recording industry, on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, the shooter misses and seriously wounds Stills instead. Nix and his co-worker, Megan Olsen, decide to investigate on their own, but with music executives plotting a major merger, they can’t be sure whom to trust.

Murder on Music Row leads readers through a maze of twists and turns that connect Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, and London in a behind-the-scenes look at an industry where there are no limits in the pursuit of money, power, and fame.

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God Bless America: Stories
Steve Almond
2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention

God Bless America is a meditation on the American dream and its discontents. In his most ambitious collection yet, Steve Almond offers a comic and forlorn portrait of these United States: our lust for fame, our racial tensions, the toll of perpetual war, and the pursuit of romantic happiness.

Each of these 13 stories is an urgent investigation of America’s soul, its particular suffering, its injustices, its possibilities for redemption. With deft slight of hand, Almond, “a writer who knows us as well as we know ourselves” (Houston Chronicle), leavens his disappointment and outrage with a persistent hope for the men and women who inhabit his worlds. God Bless America offers us an astonishing vision of our collective fate, rendered in Almond’s signature style of “precise strokes… with metaphors so original and spot-on that they read like epiphanies” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Still not sold on this book? I’ve got two reasons more:

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The Iguana Tree
Michel Stone

This isn’t your typical light read for the summer. This is a book of substance. It is a universal story of loss, grief, and human dignity.

Set amid the perils of illegal border crossings, The Iguana Tree is the suspenseful saga of Lilia and Hector, who separately make their way from Mexico into the United States, seeking work in the Carolinas and a home for their infant daughter.

Michel Stone’s harrowing novel meticulously examines the obstacles each faces in pursuing a new life: manipulation, rape, and murder in the perilous commerce of border crossings; betrayal by family and friends; exploitation by corrupt officials and rapacious landowners on the U.S. side; and, finally, the inexorable workings of the U.S. justice system.

Hector and Lilia meet Americans willing to help them with legal assistance and offers of responsible employment, but their illegal entry seems certain to prove their undoing. The consequences of their decisions are devastating.

If you’re looking for a book that humanizes the agony and elation of illegally entering the United States without politics, this is for you.

“Michel Stone’s first novel, The Iguana Tree, is an astonishing achievement, a daring but plausible leap into a world unnoted by most of us yet close around us daily. This story is at once a page-turner and a moving, psychologically genuine drama.”
—Rosa Shand, author of The Gravity of Sunlight, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year

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Hank Hung the Moon . . . And Warmed Our Cold, Cold Hearts
Rheta Grimsley Johnson

“Part whimsical memoir, part cultural anthology, Hank Hung the Moon is a celebration of the music, the man, the era, the lore, and the magic of the South’s most beloved songster. If I were stranded on a desert island with only one book that captured everything I know and love about the South, this would be the one.”
—Cassandra King (Conroy), author of The Sunday Wife

The dark story of America’s Pulitzer Prize–winning hillbilly singer has been told often and well, but always with sad country fiddles wailing. This latest Hank Williams paean will make readers laugh as well as cry. Hank hung the moon and left his fans behind to admire it. He transformed the musical landscape, as well as the heavens, with his genius. And that’s a good thing.

More a musical memoir than a biography, Hank Hung the Moon is the author’s evocative personal stories of ’50s and ’60s musical staples—elementary-school rhythm bands, British Invasion rock concerts, and tearjerker movie musicals. It was a simpler time when Hank roamed the earth. The book celebrates a world of 78 rpm records and five-cent Cokes. Hank provides the soundtrack and wisdom for this Last Picture Show of a book.

A Cajun girl learns to understand English by listening to Hank on the radio. A Hank impersonator works by day at a prison but by night makes good use of his college degree in country music. Hank’s lost daughter, Jett, devotes her life to embracing the father she never knew. A newly minted recording artist buys a belt from Hank himself at a Nashville store that country’s first superstar bought to pacify a nagging wife.

Finally, here are stories readers haven’t heard a thousand times before about people—some famous, some not—who loved Hank. This lively little book uses Hank as a metaphor for life. Readers will tap their toes and demand an encore.

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Murder on the Outer Banks
Joe C. Ellis

The perfect beach read!

Newly hired deputy Marla Easton and Sheriff Dugan Walton are amazed at the performance of Dr. Sylvester Hopkins in a local 5K footrace. At age 65, Hopkins posts a world-class time of 17:35, two minutes faster than he has run in the past few years. Walton suspects Hopkins has concocted some new performance-enhancing drug.

A trail of bodies from Frisco to Nags Head, North Carolina, leads Deputy Easton and Sheriff Walton to the discovery of the Methuselah serum—a new drug designed by Hopkins that reverses aging in human cells. A nefarious triumvirate of pharmaceutical CEOs known as “the Medical Mafia” wants the formula at any price. So do the FBI and the president of the United States. But Sheriff Walton believes that he and Deputy Easton have been divinely chosen to guard the formula and serum, and they take their mission seriously—much like the angels posted in Eden to guard the Tree of Life. Their mission turns perilous when Deputy Easton’s seven-year-old son, Gabe, is kidnapped.

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Well, that’s all for today. Want to know what else we’re reading? Check our our staff picks on Pinterest. And share your favorite summer reads with us in the comments section.

Happy reading!

Stuart Dill’s debut novel Murder on Music Row receives IPPY Award 2012 gold medal

Murder on Music Row: A Music Industry Thriller, by debut novelist Stuart Dill, has received a 2012 Independent Publisher Book Award gold medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category. Conducted each year to honor the year’s best independently published books, the “IPPY” awards recognize excellence in a broad range of subjects and reward authors and publishers who “take chances and break new ground,” bringing increased recognition to independent, university, and self-published titles each year.

Stuart will receive his award next week during the annual BookExpo America publishing convention in New York. Congrats, Stuart!

In Murder on Music Row, Judd Nix, a 23-year-old unpaid intern at Elite Management, welcomes the chance to become the paid assistant of Simon Stills, one of country’s biggest managers, but he soon finds himself a witness to an assassination attempt. When a gunman takes aim at megastar Ripley Graham, Stills’s most important client and the last hope for the troubled recording industry, on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, the shooter misses and seriously wounds Stills instead. Nix and his co-worker, Megan Olsen, decide to investigate on their own, but with music executives plotting a major merger, they can’t be sure whom to trust. Murder on Music Row leads readers through a maze of twists and turns that connect Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, and London in a behind-the-scenes look at an industry where there are no limits in the pursuit of money, power, and fame.

Stuart Dill, a 26-year veteran of Nashville’s country-music scene as a personal manager. His management credits include Minnie Pearl, Dwight Yoakam, Freddy Fender, Michael Martin Murphey, The Wreckers, Jo Dee Messina, Point of Grace, Laura Bell Bundy, and Billy Ray Cyrus among others. Stuart is a longtime member of Leadership Music and is a member of the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. He lives in Brentwood, Tennessee, with his wife and two children. Murder on Music Row, which received his first IPPY Award, is his first novel.

The IPPY Awards are presented by IndependentPublisher.com, “THE Voice of Independent Publishing” operated by publishing services firm Jenkins Group of Traverse City, Michigan. This year’s IPPY competition attracted 5,200 entries, and the 372 medalists represent 44 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, seven Canadian provinces, and ten countries overseas. Launched in 1996 as the first unaffiliated awards program open exclusively to independent, university, and self-published titles, the IPPY Awards contest rewards winners in 74 national, 22 regional, and five e-book categories with gold, silver and bronze medallions and foil seals for their book covers.

Congrats to our Foreword Reviews Book of the Year finalists!

Several Blair and distributed titles were chosen as finalists for Foreword Reviews’ Book of the Year Awards.

ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award Finalists

The finalists are:

The awards were established to bring increased attention from librarians and booksellers to the literary achievements of independent publishers and their authors. ForeWord is the only review journal devoted exclusively to covering books from independent houses—ranging in size from university presses publishing up to a hundred titles a year to niche, POD, and small presses who may publish one title in a lifetime.

Winners will be announced Saturday, June 23, at the American Library Association Conference in Anaheim, California. Congrats and good luck to our Blair and distributed finalists!

Music for your new year: “Murder on Music Row” soundtrack

Happy new year, blog readers! If you dove into 2012 headfirst–like we did–you might already need a break! So here’s a playlist to keep you entertained while you’re back at the grind.

Thanks to the folks at ParcBench and inspired by Murder on Music Row: A Music Industry Thriller, by Stuart Dill, this mix includes classic country tunes that are perfect for a murder-mystery-readin’ kind of day. And while there isn’t a Ripley Graham single in the mix, this playlist might just make you want to dance on your desk and slap your grandmaw.

“Pretty Polly” by the Patty Loveless & Ralph Stanley

“Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash

“L.A. County” by Lyle Lovett

“Pardon Me, I’ve Got Someone To Kill” by Johnny Paycheck

“The Cold Hard Facts of Life” by Porter Wagoner

“I Just Can’t Let You Say Goodbye” by Willie Nelson

“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” by Kenny Rogers

“The Thunder Rolls” by Tanya Tucker

“Delia’s Gone” by Johnny Cash

“Psycho” by Jack Kittel

Our 2011 gift guide for the southern reader

Still looking for the perfect gift for someone on your list? Here are a few of our favorite titles of 2011; we think they’d make stellar gifts for your family and friends!

For the music or mystery lover

In Murder on Music Row, by Stuart Dill, Judd Nix, a 23-year-old unpaid intern at Elite Management, welcomes the chance to become the paid assistant of Simon Stills, one of country’s biggest managers, but he soon finds himself a witness to an assassination attempt. When a gunman takes aim at megastar Ripley Graham, Stills’s most important client and the last hope for the troubled recording industry, on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, the shooter misses and seriously wounds Stills instead. Nix and his co-worker, Megan Olsen, decide to investigate on their own, but with music executives plotting a major merger, they can’t be sure whom to trust.

“Remember your first John Grisham? Country music veteran Dill (he served as a personal manager for Minnie Pearl, Dwight Yoakam, and other greats) doesn’t miss a beat in this debut high-adrenaline thriller full of twists and turns.”
Library Journal, starred review

Murder on Music Row: A Music Industry Thriller has more twists and turns than a spring tornado in Tennessee. This book will have you diving under the covers — with a flashlight, of course. A terrific read.”
Marshall Chapman, critically acclaimed musician and author

Read a book club guide, watch interviews with the author, and more >>

For the memory lane walker

Tales from a Free-Range Childhood, a memoir by storyteller Donald Davis, will have you hootin’ and hollerin’ at his youthful misadventures in rural North Carolina in the 1950s. Among this collection of 18 stories, Davis explains why 28 second-graders petitioned the school board to reestablish paddling as their preferred form of punishment, instead of the new policy of “suspension.” He also spins family tales about how his mother was finally convinced to give his brother Joe’s naturally curly, “wasted-on-a-boy” hair its first cut; and how he and his cousin Andy got fired from their job of “watching the baby.” Through his tender, often humorous stories about his life experiences, Davis captures the hearts and minds of readers while simultaneously evoking their own childhood memories.

“From the photo on the cover…to the strings of hilarious and touching stories, Donald Davis takes us on a journey. This is not just his story, however, as a master storyteller, he not only tells you about himself, but also strikes familiar notes that reach into each listener’s memory bank.”
New York Journal of Books

“…a well-told true story is comfort food for the soul, and Davis’s book is nourishing.”
Foreword Reviews

Read an excerpt, visit the author’s website, and more >>

For the soul food aficionado

Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook is recipes – recipes from the restaurant, recipes from the families of Chef Stephanie Tyson and co-owner Vivian Joiner, recipes that are Southern, plain and simple. The cookbook is also the history of the two women who started a locally and nationally acclaimed restaurant (Our State, Southern Living, New York Times). As Tyson says in her introduction, “Every part of me is a part of Sweet Potatoes.” In Well, Shut My Mouth! she shares a culinary experience that has been a favorite of Winston-Salem natives and visitors for years. Now, patrons have the tools to re-create the Sweet Potatoes dining experience in their own homes.

“Everything about this book is correct except the title. Anyone with a taste bud in their mouth should follow these recipes and open their mouth.”
Maya Angelou

Watch cooking demos with the author, and more >>  

For the adventurer

The 21 tours in Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads, by Carolyn Sakowski, cover the entire mountain region of western North Carolina and provide numerous opportunities for seeing unspoiled landscapes and pastoral scenes. But scenery is not the only focus. Once you’re on the backroads, you might speculate about the history behind the old white clapboard farmhouse that dominates the valley ahead, or you might wonder about the rest of the story behind the two sentences on the historical marker at the side of the road. Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads fills in those details. Drawing from local histories and early travel writings, each tour is designed to be a journey through the history of the area. Tales of eccentric characters, folklore that has been passed down through the ages, and stories about early settlers combine to present a perspective that makes the scenery come alive.

“Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads by Carolyn Sakowski is the book to consult for Thanksgiving. No, it doesn’t have recipes but it has more important help. It will help you entertain your out-of-town guests.”
— Danny Bernstein, Hiker to Hiker

“Sakowski doesn’t choose routes simply for the scenery; almost any mountain road presents visual delights. She finds stories about people and places, then connects them, guiding readers along a narrative path as well.”
— Doug Clark, Greensboro News & Record

Find tours at the author’s website, learn “best-of” sites chosen by the author, and more >>

For animal lovers of all ages

In Animal Adventures in North Carolina, Jennifer Bean Bower shares 70 animal attractions that she has personally discovered throughout her travels of the entire state. Each entry provides contact information, driving directions, possible fees, hours of operation, and useful travel tips, accompanied by photographs and detailed descriptions of the attraction’s offerings. An extensive appendix lists additional opportunities for viewing and interacting with animals in North Carolina, including wildlife refuges, farm tours, nature preserves, and working farm vacations.

 Discover the 10 best N.C. animal adventures you didn’t know >>

Blair Publisher is at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville

The Blair team is in Nashville this weekend for the Southern Festival of Books. Angela and Margaret will be at the booth all weekend, so stop by and say hi! Then mosey on over to our author events:

Dot Moore, author of No Remorse: The Rise and Fall of the Killer John Wallace (NewSouth Books), will appear in room 29, Legislative Plaza, today from 3:30pm – 4:30pm.

Christopher Coleman, author of Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee, will be on the Chapter 16 stage tomorrow, Oct. 15, from 1 to 2 p.m. You might have seen him on WTVF’s Talk of the Town yesterday.

Distributed author Edith Pearlman (Lookout Books) will appear with Ann Patchett at the War Memorial Auditorium Saturday, October 15, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Her latest collection of stories, Binocular Vision, was just announced as a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. Edith Pearlman and Ann Patchett--Southern Festival appearance

Country music manager Stuart Dill, author of Murder on Music Row, will be sharing the stage with mystery writer Carson Morton in room 16 of Legislative Plaza Sunday, October 16, from 2 to 3 p.m., to discuss “Monday, Power, and Fame.”

Stuart Dill--Southern Festival appearance

Roger Reid, author of Longleaf (NewSouth Books), will appear on a panel Saturday, 4:30-5:30 pm, in the Old Supreme Court Room. 

And of course, I couldn’t resist posting a photo of Angela and Margaret at the booth. If you swing by, mention this post, and these ladies might have a surprise in store for you. ;)

It looks like it’s going to be a great weekend in Nashville! Will we see you at Southern Festival?