Between the lines: Faithful dogs and cats in books

Surveys by the American Pet Product Association show that more than 62 percent of American households contain pets, especially dogs and cats. There’s a whole lot of love going on there, whichspills over into books such as these:

• “Devoted” by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh (National Geographic, $14.95, 160 pages): Among the 38 “extraordinary tales” are anecdotes of dogs saving people from disasters; of dogs whose presence in households changed family dynamics; and of service dogs who have given the hearing-, sight- and mobility-challenged hope and inspiration.

• “The Second Chance Dog” by Jon Katz (Ballantine, $25, 288 pages): Only one thing stood between author Katz and his future wife – her ferociously protective dog, Frieda. Through patience and understanding, man and dog found common ground, as did the newlyweds.

• “Homer’s Odyssey” by Gwen Cooper (Bantam, $15, 320 pages): The author adopted a blind kitten that grew up to be “a three-pound dynamo with a giant heart.” Homer’s loyalty and love changed his owner’s life.

Evanovich event reminder

Tickets for Janet Evanovich’s free appearance for the Bee Book Club have all been claimed. As a reminder to ticket-holders, the best-selling romantic-adventure novelist will appear for the Bee Book Club at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m.

Evanovich is on tour for her new Stephanie Plum book, “Takedown Twenty” (Bantam, $28, 320 pages; on sale Tuesday). It’s the 20th in her series starring the plucky bounty hunter. Barnes & Noble will be at the event to sell pre-autographed copies of “Takedown Twenty” for 30 percent off the list price,

Books and bobs

Try these eclectic titles:

• “Some Horses” by Thomas McGuane (Vintage, $12.95, 192 pages): The novelist’s collection of nine essays is reissued from the original 2000 printing (with a new preface), good news for those who missed them. They’re about “the special and profound relationships between humans and horses,” but they’re much more than that. Remember that outdoorsman McGuane is a novelist (“Driving on the Rim”) and short-story writer, and one of the top American authors working today.

• “27: A History of the 27 Club Through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse” by Howard Sounes (Da Capo, $26.99, 384 pages): The members of the so-called 27 Club are rock singers who died at age 27. Music historian Sounes explores their lives.

• “The Star of Istanbul” by Robert Olen Butler (Mysterious Press, $25, 368 pages): As World War I rages on, the adventures of war correspondent-spy Christopher Marlow Cobb continue. In this outing, he must embark on a global journey to follow a “mysterious actress.” Unfortunately, part of his trek is aboard the doomed passenger ship Lusitania.

• “The World Almanac For Kids: 2014,” compiled by Sarah Janssen (World Almanac, $13.99, 352 pages; for ages 8 to 13): The color pictures and fascinating educational information will keep the young set turning pages through 17 subject areas, including homework help, animals, art, health and environment. Like this: What is the average temperature of Earth? What’s the most common vowel in the English language? Population-wise, what is the world’s smallest country? (Answers: 59 degrees Fahrenheit, the letter “e” and Vatican City, with 836 residents.)

• “Viva la Pizza: The Art of the Pizza Box” by Scott Wiener (Melville House, $22.95, 144 pages): No doubt that Wiener is Mr. Pizza, with a regular column in Pizza Today magazine and guided tours of New York City’s pizza culture and history (

). His fascinating book shows pizza boxes like you’ve never seen, emblazoned with artful images so original and unexpected they would be at home in a food museum.

Some of the year’s best

Publishers Weekly magazine, the bible of the publishing industry, regularly compiles authoritative lists. The latest is its take on the 10 best books of 2013 (with comments):

“Sea of Hooks” by Lindsay Hill (fiction): “A spiritual biography that’s both tragic and comic.”

“Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright (nonfiction): “The author bravely confronts the lawyered-up and controversial church in a dramatic encounter woven right into the narrative.”

“Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield” by Jeremy Scahill (nonfiction): “A masterwork of investigative journalism that offers a bleak, chilling vision of our militarized future.”

“Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward (nonfiction): “Ward writes intimately about the pall of blighted opportunity, lack of education and circular poverty that hangs over the young African American inhabitants of DeLisle, Miss.”

“The People In the Trees” by Hanya Yanagihara (fiction): “(The narrator) is a scientist who travels to a remote Pacific island chain, where he may or may not have stumbled upon the key to immortality.”

“Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” by Robert Kolker (nonfiction): “Even hardened true-crime readers will be haunted by (this) provocative tale of five young women who (were murdered).”

“Miss Anne in Harlem” by Carla Kaplan (nonfiction): “The untold story of six notable white women who embraced black culture during the Harlem Renaissance.”

“A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” by Anthony Marra (fiction): “(The story) follows three characters for five days in 2004”in the midst of the Chechen War.

“The Silence and the Roar” by Nihad Sirees (fiction): “A deeply philosophical and satirical novel (set in) an unnamed Middle Eastern country.”

“The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride (fiction): “(The story of) a slave boy who’s caught up with John Brown’s band of abolitionists in the 1850s is funny, sad and completely transportive.”

E-books: What’s the latest?

The publishing industry continues to navigate the ongoing impact of electronic books. The Book Industry Study Group, a publishing-centric trade association, has released more findings from its four-year project that traced “the evolving role of e-books in the trade market.”

The bottom line: “e-books are in the later stages of the innovation curve and have settled into reasonably predictable consumption patterns. The likelihood of future growth will, in part, depend on improving the value perception of e-books among less committed users.” For the full report, go to

Author appearances

• Somehow, the mystery, suspense, paranormal and romance genres naturally go together. At least, that will be the premise at the Fifty Shades of Mystery event, when four authors get together to unravel the writing process at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Market Place, 1325 Riley St., Folsom; (916) 984-4220.

The public is invited to hear (and question) Cindy Sample (, Michele Drier (, Sherry Joyce ( and Kathy Asay ( As a bonus, enter the a drawing for a Thanksgiving gift basket.

• It seems readers can’t get enough stories of the Old West. Those would include “Lady At the OK Corral” by Ann Kirschner (Harper, $27.99, 304 pages), the biography of Josephine Marcus Earp. She was the wife of legendary lawman-gambler Wyatt Earp.

Kirschner, the dean of the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York, will give a presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday at the KOH Library and Cultural Center, 2300 Sierra Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 485-4143.

• Barnes & Noble bookstores around this week will host Discovery Friday, a program that will feature storytelling and appearances by authors for children, young adults and adults. A sampling of activities at the Roseville store shows the template:

Among the authors and illustrators are Jack Parker (for his “Adventure” series); 15 members of the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime (for the anthology “The Best of Capital Crimes”); David Carter (“Dr. Seuss” pop-up books); Rose Cooper (“Gossip From the Girl’s Room” series); Jeri Chase Ferris (“Noah Webster and His Words”); and Dawn Lairamore (“Ivy’s Ever After” series). For the schedule and more information: (916) 788-4320,