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Susan Winlow

Stunning backgrounds, descriptors show Morton’s bird’s-eye view

Australian author Kate Morton has the supreme talent of taking readers away from their couch, away from their comfy bed, wherever the reader is, and putting them smack, dab in the center of the lives of her characters. Think: “Calgon, take me away.” Morton’s descriptors and writing style transport the reader and allow the reader to visually “see” the setting, […]

Celebrate freedom to read with Banned Books Week

I spent the past few days digging through boxes and boxes of stored books in honor of Banned Books Week, which ends Saturday. Banned books are defined as those actually removed from one place or another, be it a library, school or bookstore. A challenged book is the attempt to remove or restrict the book. My […]

Step into the crazy world of Sniegoski’s Remy Chandler

Welcome to Remy Chandler’s world. I stepped into his world, and hurtled and scooted through many others, when I picked up the soon-to-be released book “A Deafening Silence in Heaven” by Thomas E. Sniegoski. It’s a confusing place to the uninitiated. God, Lucifer, demons, other-world assassins, Bone Masters, fallen angels, goblins, Nephilim whores, archangels and even Samson; yes, Samson […]

Softcore thriller ‘Saving Sophie’ offers glimpse into Israel’s West Bank

After reading the back cover of “Saving Sophie” by Ronald H. Balson, I was excited to dive into the book. The book’s varied plots played out against myriad different backdrops: Hawaii, Chicago and two places that have held intrigue and interest to me for years, Israel and the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. The story […]

Greed? A good deed? Many authors continue to ‘write’ from the grave

I gravitated immediately to the book cover of “What Pet Should I Get?” I was walking through some unremarkable big-box store last month while on vacation in Southern California and was instantly hit with that feeling of childhood nostalgia as I gazed at the colorful characters, their poses, their facial expressions so reminiscent of my […]

September 04, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

‘X’ marks the almost-end to Sue Grafton’s long-running alphabet mysteries

Father Xavier. Teddy and Ari Xanakis. XLNT International Shipping plus assorted other companies owned by Ari Xanakis. Bank of X. Phillips. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an abundance of that letter in a book before, or perhaps I was just hyperaware because I was reading “X” by Sue Grafton, the latest in the […]

August 23, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Best-selling Weiner hits another high note with latest release

I am a Jennifer Weiner fan. When “Who Do You Love” popped up on NetGalley as an available book for reviews, I jumped at it. “Fly Away Home,” “Best Friends Forever” and “Certain Girls” are top favorites. So of course, I was prepared to enjoy “Who Do You Love” just as much, and I did. But […]

August 09, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Read to your children, one day, in some form, they’ll thank you

Allegedly, an all-important word, 70 percent of adults in the United States have not been in a bookstore in five years and 80 percent of U.S. families in the past year did not read or buy a book. That means only 20 percent of children are being read to at bedtime, or any other time. […]

August 07, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

No, no, no: There will be no ‘biddy’ words in my future

If I hear the word “biddy” or any derivative of, in the near future, I will likely turn into one of those cartoon characters with the scary rolling eyes doing an eventual face plant on the ground. Author Vicki Kuyper in her “A Tale of Two Biddies” went for a gimmick, I get that, but it was […]

July 26, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Brennan back to piecing together bones in new Reichs thriller

“Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me. Please. Kill me.” So ends the first chapter of the new Kathy Reichs book “Speaking in Bones” that introduces the reader to a new kind of civilian detective, the amateur Web sleuth who combs Internet databases to put together pieces of unsolved crimes. The words are chilling, as is […]

July 12, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Searching for contemporary children’s reads with a yesteryear vibe

Welcome to the worlds of Calpurnia Tate, Neil, Owen and Liz Maloney, and Kirby and Bitsy Mellen. Fictional book children with one thing in common: They’re relatively wholesome individuals with some uniquely funny quirks but rest easy, they’re not vampires, werewolves, changelings or evildoers with a dark streak. Don’t get me wrong, I had my paranormal […]

July 03, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Book lover’s story delves into emotional frailty with vivid French backdrop

“The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George surprised me. I thought I was going to be reading some type of women’s fiction – that is a genre, of sorts, by itself; and I suppose some might lump this book into that category but to me, it was a reversal of that genre in that it was about […]

June 28, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Gritty thriller takes reader through mind of a psychopath

Henry Hayden is a pretty cool person. A little lazy, a little lost, but overwhelmingly a pretty swell guy. Not. “The Truth and Other Lies” by Sascha Arango, a German screenwriter, is one of those psychological thriller books that is hard to review. If I delve too much into Henry the person, then I’m spoiling the entire nice-guy […]

June 14, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

College leader closes in on Peralta chancellor position

FAIRFIELD — Jowel Laguerre, the superintendent-president of Solano Community College, is in contract negotiations with Peralta Community College District to become chancellor of the four-institution district that includes College of Alameda plus Berkeley City, Merritt and Laney colleges. Laguerre said he could be in place in the Peralta district by mid-July – barring unforeseen issues with […]

June 11, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

School trustees look to approve admin raises, new contract

FAIRFIELD — The school district’s board of trustees on Thursday will consider approval of 3.75 percent raises for three top administrators and the new two-year employment agreement with an annual beginning salary of $177,125 for Rona Portalupi, the new assistant superintendent of educational services. The outgoing Fairfield-Suisun School District assistant superintendent of educational services, Malcolm Butler, tendered his […]

June 10, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

District partnership to increase elementary computer science instruction

FAIRFIELD — A partnership between the Fairfield-Suisun School District and the nonprofit Code.org to increase K-5 computer science instruction and offer professional development, support and curriculum will take effect in September, the school district recently announced. Code.org is “dedicated to expanding computer science education by making it available in more schools and increasing participation by […]

June 10, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

Armijo’s purple and gold sets sail for success

FAIRFIELD — The colors of purple and gold were the hues of success at Armijo High School’s graduation Friday evening.

The 458 seniors, soon-to-be-graduates, made an impressive entry as they traversed the length of Brownlee Field to their seats amid the screams of various names from friends and family, along with the occasional air horn sound from the stands.

Three valedictorians, Mark Vincent Go, Jason Less and Timothy Liu, gave uplifting speeches of encouragement, as did student body president Lauren Seabrooks, who talked about saying hello to the new chapter in their lives.

“For some of us this journey at Armijo has been the best years of our lives. others can’t wait to get out,” Seabrooks said. “Although we have …

Buckingham sends grads out into world with class

VACAVILLE — The future beckoned Friday morning at the doorsteps of The Mission for 115 students from Buckingham Charter Magnet High School. Once through the doors after graduation, they were on their way to the rest of their lives. But first, there were some tears, hugs and laughter as the soon-to-be graduates sat in their maroon caps […]

June 06, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

How a technological illiterate created a blog: Tenacity, perseverance

I was a little flustered and a lot embarrassed at how much help I needed setting up my book blog. I wouldn’t call myself technology savvy but I’m not a dolt, either, and can usually figure out things. Now, I did decide to buy my own domain name and self-host with HostGator using WordPress.org, which had an even […]

June 05, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Sem Yeto turns loose the class of 2015

FAIRFIELD — Deyontae Bonner got an enthusiastic hug, kiss and candy lei from his cousin as she hurried up to him behind the stadium while he waited in line to begin his walk to collect a long-awaited diploma.

A diploma, a year ago, the 18-year-old wasn’t sure he’d be able to collect.

“It’s crazy that I made it,” he said. “I was missing a lot of credits but I made it up.”

His smile told a lot about his happiness.

Bonner joined 109 other Sem Yeto High School students . . .

Enter the crazy world of precocious Elsa in new Swedish novel

Elsa and her family are probably some of the strangest characters I’ve ever run across in a book, but also some of the most fun, endearing and loveable. It’s alright to be different is the message. I wanted something different to read this time and I found it in “My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” […]

May 31, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Child care service to move to Fairfield High School

FAIRFIELD — The saga of the Fairfield-Suisun School District child care nursery, which is currently located at Sem Yeto High School, is over for the time being. Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to move the service to Fairfield High School when Sem Yeto transitions over to that campus next school year while the former Dover site, its […]

May 29, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

Board to consider options to maintain on-campus child care program

FAIRFIELD — Members of the Fairfield-Suiusn School District governing board will consider plans Thursday to salvage the district’s child care service for teen parents and move it from Sem Yeto High School to Fairfield High School. The child care agenda item is a return topic, ready for a vote from the school board. School staff initially sought […]

May 28, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

Fairfield-Suisun school board to discuss new state budget numbers

FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board will hear a presentation Thursday on the effects of Gov. Jerry Brown’s May budget revision for 2015-16 and how it relates to education. District staff will report to the board for the first time since the May budget revision brought in the good news of more money to school districts, including […]

May 28, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

Solano College president top pick for Peralta colleges

FAIRFIELD — Peralta Community College District announced Tuesday that it has identified Jowel Laguerre, the president/superintendent of Solano Community College, as its leading candidate for the district chancellor position. The college district includes College of Alameda plus Berkeley City, Merritt and Laney colleges. Laguerre said it’s still early in the process but he was “pleased to […]

May 27, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

Shots fired, suspects take off leaving shell casings behind

FAIRFIELD — A call of multiple shots fired sent Fairfield police to the Dover Avenue and Air Base Parkway intersection shortly after 11 a.m. Monday. Police don’t believe anyone was injured and the suspects have not been found – they were last seen heading east on Air Base Parkway. Video allegedly indicates that the shots came […]

May 27, 2015 | Posted in Crime-courts | Tagged ,

Officials, friends, families honor military heroes at veterans cemetery

DIXON — More than 22,000 service members dressed up in red, white and blue for visitors on Memorial Day at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery outside Dixon. Some held bouquets, some a single red rose – and they all carried an American flag.

They would not, however, get to greet, hug or kiss their family or their friends who came to see them.

They are the military dead; those who served the U.S. and died for the U.S. There are more than 1.2 million Americans who died fighting in wars, including 6,800 who died fighting the war on . . .

Names of Solano County fallen unveiled during ceremony

FAIRFIELD — They ranged in age from 20 to 39 – the Solano County residents who died fighting the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were fathers, sons, husbands, athletes, Boy Scouts, computer specialists, students at local high schools and colleges, and they gave their lives for their country. Sgt. Shawn G. Adams, […]

May 27, 2015 | Posted in Solano County | Tagged ,

Students shine in the Fairfield-Suisun School District

The Fairfield-Suisun School District recently selected a new group of Students of the Month to honor at the recent board meeting – this time honorees are at the high school level for the month of May. Esther Emenalom is a senior at Rodriguez High School. She is involved in the homeless and battered women’s shelter, […]

May 23, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Fledgling college auto program meets milestone with student success

FAIRFIELD — Nine years ago Donnell Marshall said he was spinning his wheels with no clear direction. Not sure what to do with his life, he was newly married with a child on the way and living in a rough part of Fairfield.

He worked as a security guard at the Civic Center branch of the Solano County Library trying to further his career by getting onto a police force somewhere. That never panned out.

“It was a struggle,” he said.

Then he heard about Solano Community College’s new…

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