Bluegrass Bookshelf

Books listed here are by regional authors or are of interest to Central Kentucky readers and have been published since February or will be published in coming months.

Many of these books are self-published; this column is intended to note new works, not review them. All titles are available at bookstores and online booksellers unless otherwise noted. Prices listed are for hardcover editions unless otherwise noted.

The Whole Package by Cynthia Ellingsen (Berkley, $15, available Aug. 2): The Lexington writer makes her debut with a story about three best friends who, during a girls' night out, concoct the idea of opening the world's first restaurant staffed exclusively by very attractive men.

UFO: Unidentified Feathered Object by Marie Mitchell and Mason Smith, illustrated by Ryan Lanigan (The Clark Group, $14.99 paperback): Mitchell and Smith, professors at Eastern Kentucky University, write a novel for ages 9 to 12 about a group of people in a fictional Kentucky town who think they have spotted a long-extinct variety of woodpecker.

Lure of the Vampire: A Pop Culture Reference Book of Lists, Websites and Very Personal Essays (Volume 1) by Bertena Varney (Search for the Lure, $9.99): The Winchester native and current Bowling Green resident chronicles the pop-culture history of vampires and collects essays from leading vampire-fiction authors.

Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J.D. Crowe by Marty Godbey (University of Illinois Press, $19.95, available Sept. 1): The legendary Nicholasville banjoist and bluegrass music icon gets his first biography.

The Family Legacy of Henry Clay: In the Shadow of a Kentucky Patriarch by Lindsey Apple (The University Press of Kentucky, $35, available in September): The writer and retired history professor at Georgetown College delves into the impact that the Great Compromiser's legacy had on his family over many generations, including their struggles with finances, mental health and sobriety.

Moon Handbooks: Kentucky by Theresa Dowell Blackinton (Avalon Travel, $19.99 paperback): The well-regarded Moon travel guide series issues its first handbook to the Bluegrass State. Written by a Louisvillian, the travelogue is expansive, detailed and thorough, if sometimes too focused on Louisville attractions, and it would offer new adventures even for lifelong Kentuckians.

Be the Dad You Wish You Had: 52 Lessons My Kids Made Me Learn by Jerry Hines (West Bow Press, $11.95 paperback): Trimble County resident Hines, a father of four, writes 52 short lessons giving advice to fathers about the issues they confront as parents. Ranging from issues that are exciting, terrifying, perplexing or amazing, the faith-based stories are well-done and inspirational. Available online and at

Summer Is Her Name: Born in Kentucky by Betsy Houser (Outskirts Press, $19.95 paperback): A Kentucky native who now lives in Florida tells the story of a young woman coming of age in World War II-era Appalachia.

Bean Blossom: The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Festivals by Thomas A. Adler (University of Illinois Press, $24.95 paperback): Adler, a folklorist, banjoist and radio host from Lexington, delves into the history of one of the most revered bluegrass music festivals in the world, the Bean Blossom festival in Indiana.

Razzle Dazzle by Tim Underwood (CreateSpace, $14 paperback): In this historical novel set in 1961, the Lexington writer imagines the story of an organized-crime assassin who has Fidel Castro in his gunsight during the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Frank L. McVey and the University of Kentucky: A Progressive President and the Modernization of a Southern University by Eric A. Moyen (The University Press of Kentucky, $35): A biography of the UK president from 1917 to 1940.

Flight of the Lazarus (Book 1 of The Captain Taylor Trilogy) by Andrew J. Cole (Amazon Digital Services, 99 cents for Kindle e-book): The Lexington sci-fi writer kicks off a trilogy with the story of the crew of the Starship Lazarus salvage vessel and what they do when they find an alien war machine hiding in their midst.

Tracks by Eric D. Goodman (Atticus Books, $15.95 paperback): The writer, who has ties to Columbia, tells the stories of a group of strangers on a train from Baltimore to Chicago.

Beyond the Cabbage Patch: The Literary World of Alice Hegan Rice by Mary Boewe (Butler Books, $34.95): The first biography on the subject tells the life story and literary career of Rice, am early 20th-century Louisville writer who gained international fame with Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch and 20 more titles, and her poet husband, Cale.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb (Thomas Dunne Books, $24.99): The acclaimed Virginia writer writes a novel based on the real-life tragic story behind the famous ballad ("Hang down your head, Tom Dooley ...") about a North Carolina mountain girl killed by her lover.

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner (Atria Books, $26.99): The phenomenally popular writer, a former Lexington resident and Herald-Leader reporter, returns with a novel about three women whose lives intersect over the issues of surrogate motherhood and egg donorship.

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock (Doubleday, $26.95): Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, the gritty novel follows an odd cast of mid-20th-century characters, including a World War II veteran trying to save his wife from cancer, a spider-handling preacher, two serial killers and an orphan.