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We have confirmation that nine local authors will be coming to Reading Rock on Saturday for Independent Bookstore Day! They will be signing books from 3-4:30pm this Saturday, May 2. Here’s the list:

M. Sue Alexander – Author of the apocalyptic, Christian “Resurrection Dawn” series and Tomorrow’s Promise.

Terry Coats – President of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway Preservation Society and author of Next Stop on Grandpa’s Road.

Ann Rauscher Smith Hagler – Author of The Settling Place, a historical novel set in Erin, TN, based on the real-life shooting death of her great grandfather.

Hannah Heinz – Contributor to Balance for Busy Moms: Cook Your Way to Health.

Sarah Jacobs – Author of Divorce and a Strategy for Happiness, a memoir/self-help book about what it was like to find herself alone and starting over after 30 years as a Christian homemaker.

Kim Leady – Author of Once a Vagabond, Angels in the Window, and Once Last Ride and she’s been a customer of Reading Rock practically since the day we opened!

D. Alan Lewis – Award-winning author of The Blood in the Snowflake Garden and many other books and stories, most often in the fantasy, horror, and steampunk genres.

Tracy Lucas – Owner of Smash Cake Press and Inkwell Basics (a workshop business) and volunteer with the Nashville Writers Meetup Group. Tracy is the creator of several journals called Hook Books, which are visual writing-prompt journals with room to write.

Betsy Thorpe – Author of The Day the Whistles Cried, a historical account of the worst train wreck in US history, which occurred in Nashville.

Store favorite and NYT-bestselling author J.T. Ellison will be coming back to Reading Rock on May 28th at 6:30pm. We’ll start out the evening with a short update on her books and writing (she’s written two books with Catherine Coulter since her last visit to Reading Rock), and then she’ll be signing copies of What Lies Behind, her newest book and the fourth in the Dr. Samantha Owens series.

As part of Independent Bookstore Day on May 2, we asked J.T. for a list of books that changed her life. Come to the store that day and see our display of books that helped make J.T. the fabulous writer she is today. Here’s her list (the comments are hers):



Mind Prey
Every Dead Thing
Running Blind


Mind Prey by John Sandford, which inspired the Taylor Jackson series
Every Dead Thing by John Connolly inspired my ever-evolving writing style
Running Blind by Lee Child, for the most evocative autopsy scene ever


The Deathly Hallows
Here Be Dragons

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, one of the best books ever written (I’ve read it 9 times)
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, one of the finest examples of how to end a series
Here Be Dragons by Sharon Penman, which spurred a lifelong love of Arthurian legends


Forever by Judy Blume – um… first sex?
Anthem by Ayn Rand
Book VII of Plato’s Republic – The Allegory of the Cave – got me into graduate school

Ghost Story

Ghost Story by Peter Straub, the scariest book I’ve ever read, taught me I HATE to be scared
My all-time favorite is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov


We cherish our relationship with J.T. Ellison and the other wonderful Tennessee authors who support us. Thanks, J.T.!

Nathan Hale is the author of the “Hazardous Tales” books, which bring history to life in a graphic novel format. Kids love the illustrations and humor (such as the so-called Research Babies, who are babies that appear at the end of the books to hold narrator Hale to the truth) and parents love that their kids are falling in love with history in the process. The series has already covered Nathan Hale (the spy, not the author), ironclad warships of the Civil War, the misfortunes of the Donner Party,  and WWI. Hale’s newest book, The Underground Abductor, which focuses on Harriet Tubman, will be released April 21.

My son Charlie, age 11, loves the “Hazardous Tales” series and was thrilled at the chance to do an email interview with Nathan Hale.


Charlie of Reading Rock Books: Since The Underground Abductor is about Harriet Tubman, would you do another book about a single important person in history?

Nathan Hale: Certainly! Although there are many people in The Underground Abductor–not just Harriet Tubman. There are stories about Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and others. This book is a bit like One Dead Spy, where it covers one main person, but also lots of other interesting historical characters.

RRB: Are you planning to do a WWII book? If you did, would it be in two books to satisfy the Research Babies?

NH: A WWII book is definitely in the works. It would have to be in multiple parts, yes. The Research Babies were angry about doing an entire war overview for Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, the WWI book. They won’t do a full war overview again (or at least, not for a while). A WWII book would cover a smaller story within the war, like Big Bad Ironclad covered a small portion within the Civil War.

RRB: Did you ever want to teach history?

NH: Sure! That’s why I make the Hazardous Tales! Lots of kids are learning history just while reading my books!

RRB: Are you related to Nathan Hale, the historic figure?

NH: No. But I am related to Thomas Knowlton, the spy master who hired Nathan Hale.

RRB: What other points in history are you thinking about writing about?

NH: WWII, definitely. Some early explorers, the French and Indian War, the second half of the Revolutionary War (post Nathan Hale), the Pony Express, the War of 1812, more Civil War… you name it!

RRB: I really like your illustrations. Where did you learn how to draw?

NH: I went to art school. But I didn’t really learn to draw there. I learned to draw by drawing all the time.

RRB: Would you ever consider selling posters of you artwork from your books?

NH: Sure, that would be cool!

RRB: Would you ever make a real Big Book of American History like the one that swallowed Nathan Hale in One Dead Spy?

NH: Hopefully one day the huge collection of Hazardous Tales books (like a hundred!) will be their own Big Book of American History.

RRB: How does living in Utah affect what you write about?

NH: It’s a pretty boring place. Meaning it’s pretty (nature) and it’s boring (not a lot of culture, restaurants, or nightlife). The nature is cool and inspirational, the lack of anything to do helps me stay at my desk and draw comics.

RRB: What are you currently reading?

NH: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, a very spooky collection of horror/fantasy comics. One of these days, I’ll be putting out a non-history comic. It’d be fun to do something scary or fantastical like this book.

Nathan Hale’s work can also be found in the collections Guys Read: True Stories and Been There, Done That, edited by Mike Winchell, which will be out in November.

Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes is a collection of short stories and the debut book, first published in Norway in 1987, of Per Petterson, known to most American readers for his breakout novel Out Stealing Horses. Available in the US for the first time, this collection features Arvid Jansen, a recurring character in several of Petterson’s books, as a child in 1960’s Oslo.

Petterson’s prose deftly recreates the uncertainty of childhood, beginning with nightmares and bedwetting in “Ashes in His Mouth” and proceeding through Arvid’s prepubescent awareness of the trials and heartbreaks of the men around him. Arvid is an eavesdropper, hiding on the top step when he should be in bed asleep. These stories, more than anything else, explore Arvid’s ardent admiration of his father, who is a man in mourning for his parents and for the life he had before the war. One story bleeds into another, snapshots of Arvid’s childhood and his family.

The stories in this volume are rich and full, yet the book itself is startlingly short. In less than 120 pages, Petterson conveys all the emotional weight of a much longer work. I read it one sitting and could easily have begun again. Having already read In the Wake and I Curse the River of Time, I appreciated this insight into Arvid’s childhood. The books aren’t actually connected, but Arvid is in each, confusedly trying to make his way and never failing to charm me.

Is it spring yet? We’re tired of snow and ice, so here are some “staff” picks of some of the best kids’ books for Easter.

The books Jack is plugging are:
The Littlest Bunny in Tennessee by Lily Jacobs
Cutie Pie Looks for the Easter Bunny: A Tiny Tab Book by Jannie Ho
and Little Chick by Klaartje Van Der Put