Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Kevin Coolidge

I've always loved monster movies, and among my favorites is Godzilla. I don't count the movie in 1998, not a bad monster movie, but a giant irradiated iguana is not Godzilla.

I'm looking forward to the new movie coming out May 16, 2014. The trailers look much more like the Godzilla I know, and I've read that he's the biggest and baddest ever.

From My Shelf Books has lots of Godzilla graphic novels, as well as taking pre-orders for the novelization of the movie coming out May 20, and today I got in a mini Godzilla figurine complete with "atomic ray" light and his iconic roar. It's time to get your kaiju* on...

*kaiju is a Japanese word that literally translates to "strange creature." The word has been translated and defined in English as "monster" and is used to refer to a genre of movies.

click here to order, or come on in.

I Heart My Little A-Holes

Popular blogger Karen Alpert shares her hysterical take on the many "joys" of parenting--I Heart My Little A-Holes is full of hilarious stories, lists, thoughts and pictures that will make you laugh so hard you'll wish you were wearing a diaper.

Hiking in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

Kevin Coolidge

I hear the whisper of pines. The trail is calling. It's been a long winter, but spring is finally here. It's time to dig out my hiking shoes and drive to the Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

The Canyon offers many recreational activities-such as hiking, fishing, biking, birding, and whitewater rafting in the spring. This gem of the Northeast is located just ten miles outside Wellsboro, Pennsylvania on PA 660.

Two state parks straddle the rim of the canyon, overlooking Pine Creek, and the Pine Creek Rail Trail. Leonard Harrison State Park is more developed and is located on the east rim. There is a visitor center here with a scenic overlook, and the top entrance to the Turkey Path.

The Turkey Path is a winding, one-mile trail that descends to the canyon floor, where it connects to the rail trail. The path starts with an easy grade, but quickly becomes a series of switchbacks. It can be a strenuous hike. Be sure to have sturdy shoes and water. Down and up usually takes less than two hours.

You may want to take extra time to enjoy the scenery. About halfway down, the trail parallels Little Four Mile Run and several waterfalls. There are several wooden observation decks, steps and railings that were built in the mid 90s. This makes the hike more accessible, and helps prevent erosion of the canyon walls.

Before you begin the return hike, you may want to walk along the Pine Creek Rail Trail, which presently is about 62 miles long. It's a nice, flat grade that is great for biking. Many entrances to the trail can be accessed by car if you want to bike or horse ride. Several area businesses rent bicycles.

The Gorge was officially designated by the Pennsylvania Audubon Society as an important birding area in 2004. You may view numerous woodland species on your hike down-such as hermit thrushes and scarlet tanagers.

American Bald Eagles have been nesting in the canyon since the late 80s. It's not unusual to see a bald eagle up close while walking along the Pine Creek Trail, and from the overlooks it is common to see Cooper's hawks and other raptors.

If you haven't tried birding from a bicycle, this is a good place to give it a try. You won't scare the wildlife, and it allows you to cover several habitats, which will increase your species count while visiting the canyon.

Afterwards, check out the town of Wellsboro. You can find several choices for dinner, stroll the gas-lit Main Street, or shop at a family owned business. Check out the local chamber of commerce for a calendar of events.

Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce
114 Main St
Wellsboro PA 16901

Start of the Turkey Path

One of the many waterfalls along the Turkey Path

Photo of one of our eagles in the area.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kronos Rising

Kevin Coolidge

Here there be dragons…

Dragons, dinosaurs, huge killer sharks--I’ve always loved monsters. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the “Meg” books by Steve Alten. Meg stands for Megalodon, a giant shark that lived during prehistoric times. It was huge, the largest carnivorous fish known to exist.

It wasn’t, however, the only predator of the deep. There was Kronosaurus, a marine reptile characterized by a thick head, short neck, and outsized flippers. Its ecological niche appears to be the similar as the Great White Shark. It ate squid, turtles, fish, and smaller dinosaurs, anything that swam into its path.

Remains of these creatures have been found from Australia to South America, proof that these reptiles attained an especially wide distribution. Kronosaurus ruled the seas during the Cretaceous period, but that was millions of years ago.

It couldn’t possibly exist today, or could it? The oceans’ depths still remain mostly unmapped. It’s said we are more familiar with the surface of the Moon than our planet’s oceans. Maybe, just maybe, something has survived from long ago.

Max Hawthorne wonders this very thing. In Kronos Rising, a small, breeding population has survived. One of these prehistoric predators rises from the depths to terrorize a coastal community that won’t be idyllic soon.

A series of disappearances and horrific deaths sends waves of panic through the small town. The local sheriff begins to investigate what might be murder, but when a full-grown whale carcass surfaces, the true terror begins.

Marine horror isn’t new. Peter Benchley started the modern trend with Jaws. Steve Alten gave us Meg, and now we have giant lizards gnawing at our fears. It still works. I love the genre, but it’s hard to do anything new with it. Max has managed to give me a couple surprises.

Kronos Rising is a well-written story, better than it had to be to deliver its biting horror. There are flawed heroes that are likeable. Villains that I looked forward to being eaten, and a back story that’s both feasible, and well researched, and most importantly, it’s fun.

The Bible tells of a terrible sea creature called Leviathan. The Norse have myths of Jörmungandr, the World Serpent. Sailors see things that terrify them. Stories of sea monsters and eyewitness accounts persist to this day. Unknown, primal, lurking in the darkness, I’ve always feared monsters…

50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants

Keeping your beautiful garden safe from deer is as simple as choosing the right plants. In 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants,gardening expert Ruth Rogers Clausen introduces the most versatile and drool-worthy options: white snowdrops that bloom in the spring; shade-loving, electric gold hakone grass; long-blooming Texas sage in vibrant reds, peaches, and pinks; and the feathery foliage of Arkansas blue stars that glows golden in the autumn.

Illustrated throughout with full-color photographs of every plant, this inspiring guide offers everything a plant-lover with a deer problem needs to know. In addition to the 50 best annuals, perennials, bulbs, ferns, grasses, and shrubs -- plus advice on how to grow them -- Clausen includes dozens of deer-resistant companions and smart design tips for pulling it all together. And here's the best part: your gorgeous garden will be irresistible to everyone "but" those pesky deer.

The Best Bookstores Have a Cat

Kevin Coolidge

The best bookstores have a cat. You won't see a cat in a big box store. The internet was invented for sharing cat photos, but you won't hear any purrs when you download an eBook. Cats and books just go together and the cat staff at From My Shelf Books & Gifts understands this.

Hobo, a large, friendly buff colored cat whose specialty was customer service, was the store cat for almost eight years. His jobs included playing with children, delighting crazy cat people, soaking up sunshine, and spreading it to everyone he met.

It's believed that cats have nine lives, but Hobo spent them all when he was diagnosed with a tumor and passed away. Hobo was an extra special cat, and it wasn't just any cat that could take his place, but it just wasn't the same bookstore without a cat on staff.

The bookshop has hosted cats and dogs many times from the local branch of the Animal Care Sanctuary. It gives the animals a chance to socialize and to meet potential humans and forever homes. Our friend Rowan brought a sleek, black kitten for a visit one Sunday afternoon.

He quickly showed he understood service by checking in with customers, dusting the corners, and providing pet therapy to those who might be missing their pets. He let us know that he could do this, even though we didn't think we were ready for another cat, not just yet.

He did so well that we gave him a call back, but there was a catch. It appeared that this black cat had a little black and white brother. It's not every cat that can be a bookstore cat. It takes a certain personality, gentle, loving, and a bit goofy, but we didn't find just one, but two.

We decided to hold a contest to name the two newest members of the crew. We wanted something literary, but also something that fit their fun loving, eccentric personalities. Many great names were suggested, but the names chosen were Huck, for the black and white, and Finn for the black boy.

You can stop by and visit the two newest feline staff members at From My Shelf Books & Gifts at 25 Main St. in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Even though there are two of them, they still have big paws to fill. Come by and say hello. The best bookstores have a cat, and From My Shelf Books now has two...

Hobo smiling for the camera

Huck(the black and white one) and his brother Finn

Monday, April 28, 2014

Part Time Poet

Kevin Coolidge

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling—Oscar Wilde

April is National Poetry Month, and I don’t care. It’s not that I have anything against poetry: I don’t. I just don’t enjoy it. I love to read, but if an author slips a poem into his story, I skip it. I’m here for the story; don’t sneak a poem in that you couldn’t sell.

Reading poetry is a chore. Sonnets, meter, iambic pentameter—it’s boring. Poetry isn’t meant to be studied. It’s meant to be heard. It’s why I shelled out twenty bucks to see Sherman Alexie, a Native American poet and writer.

I was hesitant to pay that much to hear a poet, but Alexie has been called “one of the major lyric voices of our time”. It’s a lot of hype to live up to. Especially since I saw him before he became “poet as rock star.” It’s rare to have such a writer come to the area.

I was familiar with the work of Sherman through a college friend. My friend was an English major before he realized that he wanted a job when he graduated, and switched to computers. He was deep in a “Native American” phase which involved long hair, tanning hides, and bad poetry.

He shared the poem, How to Write the Great American Indian Novel, and I didn’t hate it. It’s an angry, funny poem that smashes stereotypes and left me feeling a little sad. Still, I’m not really into poetry. I do love the short story.

Sherman Alexie’s most well-known collection of short stories has a great title--The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. It’s a great anthology filled with a mix of memory, fantasy, and the stark reality growing up on The Rez*. It’s a work of fiction used to tell deeper truths than might have been possible with a memoir.

It’s about being Indian, and what that means. There’s anger, and bitterness, and a sense of pride even when there’s nothing left. There is also passion, friendship, heartbreak, and humor. It’s the humor that makes his characters likable and real to me.

Sherman came to the Boulder Bookstore when I lived in Colorado. It was free to attend, or maybe it was just the cost of a book. I don’t remember. It’s not hard to convince me to buy another book, and I hadn’t had the opportunity to have many autographed books.

He wasn’t as successful as he is today. He wasn’t as experienced. His anger was still raw. He gave a good reading, but wasn’t interactive with the small crowd. He signed books in silence, and I felt like he couldn’t wait to leave this room full of white people.

It’s okay. Writers aren’t always the best speakers, and I still enjoyed his work. His young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is both poignant and funny. I read it in one sitting and loved every page. The book won the National Book award and it would have been an injustice if it hadn’t.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard he was coming to Corning, NY. I wanted to observe and compare it with my previous experience, but the performance was sold out. Winter weather cancelled his first performance and an illness cancelled the second.

Tickets were refunded and went back on sale. I didn’t know if I’d have the chance again, and so I purchased tickets for my wife and me. I didn’t want to drive an hour to hear the same performance that I had seen so many years before. I didn’t.

Sherman is a storyteller, and has grown into quite a performer. It was more like watching improv or a comedian. His sense of humor, however, is a tool, a means to show injustice and an unpleasant truth, but if you can make someone laugh, you can say damn near anything.

Time may have softened the edge of Alexie’s anger. His hair is shorter. His cheek bones not as prominent. He’s talented, skillful, and has grown successful, but he’s still human, still likeable. He hasn’t forgotten where he’s from, or lost his laughter. He can’t.

America isn’t always the land of dreams. Our history is often cruel, sometimes unjust, frequently difficult, but sometimes she really does deliver on her promises…

*Slang for a Native American reservation, for Sherman it was a Spokane reservation in Washington State.

A poet and you know it? Or what’s a met a for? Email me at and let me know. Forget the rhyme scheme? Just visit and finish your stanza. Keep a poet from starving and buy a poetry collection. Buy a book and save a life.

If you'd like to buy this book, why not buy it where you tried it? Simply click on the photo below, or the title, highlighted throughout this post, to purchase the book at From My Shelf Books & Gifts, and to support the writers of this fine blog ;) We thank you!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

T. Rex and the Mother's Day Hug

Mother's Day is here, and T. Rex wants to plan something extra special for his mama. He really wants to do something instead of just giving something. T. Rex is sure he has a perfect gift idea, but will Mama Rex love it, too?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tiger, Tiger

The Tiger is a true story of a man pitted against one of nature's most fearsome and effiient predators. This tiger isn't just killing people, it's stalking and murdering them as if it has a vendetta.

Outside a remote village in Russia's Far East a man-eating tiger is on the prowl. A team of trackers is dispatched to hunt down the tiger before it strikes again.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Don't Irritate the Writer

Kevin Coolidge

You have to be careful around writers. Sure they don't look dangerous, but they don't forget anything. If you aren't careful you just might end up in their novel, where they will kill you. Some might even put you in a zombie novel. Just so they can kill you twice.

Sometimes, you want to be in a story. Steve Alten is a writer who often runs contests where if you win, you will be a character in the book that he is working on. It's fun to be reading along and see your name.

I love Steve's books about Meg, a giant, prehistoric shark. He's also did a book called The Loch that is about one of the most controversial cryptids ever, the Loch Ness Monster.

He's currently working on the sequel to The Loch. He held one of his contests, and I won! The book isn't out yet, but I'm looking forward to see if I'm going to get eaten.

I know my character is a lawyer. So, there's a good chance I will, but I have to wait and see. If you haven't read the first one, we have it at From My Shelf Books & Gifts, or you can buy if from us online here...

The Crooked Stick

In The Crooked Stick: A History of the Longbow, historian Hugh D. H. Soar presents the engaging story of this most charismatic standoff weapon. Through a remarkable command of manuscript and printed sources and a judicious use of material evidence, including his own important collection of rare longbows, Hugh Soar establishes the deep connections of this bow to England, Scotland, and Wales. Figures in the past appear alongside detailed descriptions of bows, strings, arrows, and arrowheads, while the rise of institutions and craftsmen devoted to the longbow are presented to show how knowledge of this weapon was carried forward across the centuries. In addition to the illustrated text, the book contains appendices detailing the history and design of bracers, tabs and tips, quivers, and arrowheads associated with the longbow.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Landlord's Legal Guide

Every Landlord's Legal Guide gives landlords the legal and practical solutions they need to rent residential property right. From move-in to move-out, this book covers a wide range of issues, including fair housing, repairs, sublets, screening for good tenants, and environmental hazards such as mold and bedbugs (yes, bedbugs). Handy 50-state charts lists specific laws for each state.
Nolo's bestselling "Every Landlord's Legal Guide" helps landlords:
- screen and choosing tenants
- prepare leases and rental agreements
- collect and returning deposits
- avoid discrimination charges
- keep up with repairs and maintenance
- hire the right property manager
- minimize your liability
- deal with problem tenants
This book provides over 30 forms landlords need, including state-specific leases and rental agreements. This edition is completely revised with the latest in the law, plus explanations of new federal rules affecting foreclosed properties and new information on security deposits in each state.

Once We Were Brothers

Once We Were Brothers is the compelling tale of two boys and a family who fight to survive in war-torn Poland, and a young love that struggles to endure the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for a moving and powerful tale of love, survival, and triumph of the human spirit.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hemp Bound

Kevin Coolidge

Are you ready for America's new billion-dollar industry? Well, it's not really new. It's hemp. Hemp Bound shows us how hemp can change our diet and farms, restore our soil, and wean us from petroleum.

Hemp isn't marijuana. It's not psychoactive. It's fibers are among the strongest, it's seed oil is more nutritious than flax, and it's potential is waiting to be tapped. The United States imports millions of dollars of hemp from Canada. Shouldn't American farmers be growing it?

For almost eighty years, it'd been illegal to grow industrial cannabis--even though Betsy Ross wove the first American flag out of hemp fabric, Thomas Jefferson composed the Declaration of Independence on it, and colonists paid their taxes with it. Is there anything more American than hemp?

Doug Fine takes us on a journey to see the men and woman who are testing, researching, and pioneering hemp's reemergence in the twenty-first century. You'll wonder why we ever stopped cultivating this crop. Maybe soon we will see fields of hemp from sea to shining sea...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day

Kevin Coolidge

Today is Earth Day. Earth Day was started in 1970, and is celebrated every year. It's now celebrated in more than 192 countries to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

Long before "Being Green" was mainstream, there was The Lorax First published in 1971,this classic by Dr Seuss starts in the future and narrates the past. The reader sees the bareness of the land first, and then learns the causes for the damage to the environment.

It's a cautionary tale stated simply and powerfully about the nature of greed and environmental destruction. Still, Dr. Suess does not make this story into a gloomy one.

He gives us hope. The Once-ler tosses down a seed to the boy; the one last remaining Truffula seed. With this one seed, Dr. Seuss shows that it is not too late. Hope does not need to be lost. Possibilities remain...

""UNLESS someone like you...cares a whole awful lot...nothing is going to get better...It's not."

All You Need is Kill

Kevin Coolidge

When the bullets start flying, it's only a matter of time. Another day, another death, for Keiji. He dies everyday on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again. On his 158th reiteration, he receives a message from a mysterious ally. Is it the key to his escape, or his final death?

I read All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka over five years ago. It was suggested by one of my favorite science fiction writers writing today, John Scalzi. He calls it "Science Fiction for the adrenaline junkie. Reads fast, kicks ass, and keeps on coming. Buckle up and enjoy."

Well, that was enough for me to give it a read, but it also has great cover art. The author is Japanese(with a solid translation by Alexander O. Smith) and there is a soldier dressed in cybernetic armor in a Japanese anime-like style. You shouldn't judge a book by the cover, but I do appreciate good cover art.

Hollywood saw the potential of this book, and bought the movie rights several years years ago. It's undergone a name change to Edge of Tomorrow and with a slated release date of June 6, 2014. It will be starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.

Hmmm, at least Tom won't be a foot shorter than the main protagonist in this movie*

*Tom also played Jack Reacher, a character created by Lee Child who is around six foot six in his books.

Monday, April 21, 2014

World Book Night Again!

Read the Printed Word!
Three things happened recently to inspire me to write a new column on World Book Night: one, I got an email from the WBN organizers telling me that 14 book givers would be picking up their book boxers at From My Shelf this year; two, I went to find the article I wrote for last year's WBN only to realize that two years have flown by; and three, I was speaking to a fellow Chamber of Commerce member about national literacy programs we are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with, and found myself explaining, once again, about the wonders of WBN.

Many community members, Gazette readers, business owners, teachers, and parents in our area may not know about World Book Night, even though it is the third year Tioga, Potter, and Bradford Counties have participating "givers", even though they themselves are well-read and put a high value on the importance of reading. You yourself may have missed any references to WBN over the past two years it has been celebrated in the US, and in our region, simply because we lead our lives at such a breakneck pace, bombarded by information, always hearing little blurbs about this cause or that. It is precisely because of this frenetic pace, this overload of information which too often leads to a contradictory disconnect, that World Book Night is so wonderful. If you remember other missives about WBN, then bear with this short review, or better yet, share it with someone who doesn't know about it, and discuss some of the books, or the subject of community literacy. If you'd like more details about this, the third annual World Book Night USA, then read on. 

WBN began in the UK & Ireland in 2011, migrating to the US the following year. For each year's WBN celebration, 20 to 35 authors and publishing houses agree to donate all the expenses and royalties on a specially-printed WBN edition of their books. Givers apply months ahead of time, selecting their top three choices from the list of 30+ WBN selections for the coming year's donation night. On April 23, 2014, those givers – over 30,000 people from coast to coast as well as Alaska and Hawaii – will go out in their communities armed with twenty free copies of a book they are enthusiastic about sharing with people who currently don’t read much. The goal of World Book Night is to start conversations about books, between people who have been inspired by books, with folks who may think books don’t have much to say to them. Like the “one book, one city” programs sponsored by libraries, World Book Night gives us an opportunity to foster community literacy, communication, and the kind of conversation that comes out of people talking about a story that touches them.

In looking over this year’s list of thirty books, it is obvious how the choices match the mission statement for “accessible” stories: many aren’t “literary classics” in the traditional sense, but are instead contemporary books with appealing plots, intriguing characters, and realistic dialogue, across a broad spectrum of topics. (This is not to say that we shouldn’t read, or wax enthusiastic, about “literary classics”, which is one reason these works are taught in school.) World Book Night seeks to appeal to non-readers or light readers who need other books, or places besides school, to draw them in to quality writing and the joy of books.

The choices for World Book Night USA, 2014, include female and male authors, target both young adult and adult audiences, and were published as early as the 1800s and as recently as 2012. They and their authors have won several awards; some have been made into movies and TV shows; a couple are regularly banned from school curricula or libraries; a couple have been dismissed by academics as “just popular fiction”; some have been touted by talk show hosts or TV book clubs. These books cover every topic from the barrios of Puerto Rico to forest fires, from the Kindertransport to endangered owls in Florida. Chosen from every genre from memoir to short story anthology, fairy tales to the science of plant reproduction, there truly is something for everyone. We, as readers, can honor the donations and efforts of all involved by reading these books ourselves, and joining the conversation. To see a list of the books for World Book Night 2014, as well as the ones from earlier years, visit Technically, the spots for givers this year have all been filled, but if you are interested in helping distribute some of this year's books to reluctant readers in our community, contact us at From My Shelf immediately!!!

Kasey will be giving this book out this year:

International Dark Sky Week

Kevin Coolidge

The nighttime sky is truly a wonder to behold. April 20-26 is International Dark Sky Week. We are lucky that Wellsboro is just a short drive from Cherry Springs State Park, which has some of the darkest skies on the East Coast. In June, of 2007 Cherry Springs was named an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.

There are regular stargazing and educational programs for the public at the park. Many stargazers think they need a lot of expensive equipment, but you can get started with a simple pair of binoculars. If you are just getting interested in astronomy, you might want to consider reading Binocular Stargazing by Mike D. Reynolds.

Backyard astronomy can be easy and fun. I'm going to make myself a big bowl of popcorn, drag my Barcalounger into the backyard and catch a FREE midnight show…

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Unicorns Are Jerks

Kevin Coolidge

Here's the cold, hard sparkly truth. Unicorns are Jerks, not all unicorns of course. It's all how you raise them. That's why I recommend Raising Unicorns by Jessica s. Marquis.

As a potential unicorn farmer, you will face many challenges. It requires more planning than most businesses. It's a common misconception that unicorns are docile creatures. If a unicorns routine is disrupted, it's not pretty.

When unicorns receive the wrong training. They go bad and become jerks, really big jerks.They talk and text in the movie theater. They are judgmental of your taste in music, and they never replace the toilet paper roll.

When you point out their behavior, they act like you are the jerk. That's why you are going to need planning to make your unicorn farm profitable. You need this book, and some red licorice...

Unicorn meat, it tastes like happiness

As opposed to unenchanted bandages...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Things Overheard at the Bookstore

Kevin Coolidge

"There are too such things as vampires," says a young boy

"No. They are only in the movies and books," answers the father

"Then why is there a vampire hunting kit over there?"

"OK, you got me. I wasn't going to tell you until you were older...."

The night is dark and full of shadows, and some of those shadows are the thirsty undead. I grew up with vampires that had bite, not the type that sparkled in the sun and still go to high school? Remember high school? I couldn't wait to get out. I sure wouldn't go back.

I also know that it's a world wide problem. Sure, every culture has its demons, spirits, and drinkers of blood, even islands are infested. We sold this vampire kit to the Guernsey Islands in the English Channel. I hope it brings an end to a few fiends.

This kit comes with a big hardwood stake, two empty vials. You can either fill them with holy water, or with sparkles if it's one of those New Age vampires. There's also a diary so you can record your victories or the habits of suspected vermin.

Friday, April 18, 2014

We don't just sell BOOKS; we sell memories.

Read the Printed Word!
My first customer in the door this morning was a stylish, fifty-something tourist. She said, "I heard from the woman at the Diner that you sell used books."

I told her, yes, we sell new and used books, mixed in together.... they're organized by genre in the bookstore, then by age group and occasionally a few other subcategories.... and I asked her what she was looking for.

She told me she was looking for "an old book called 'Wynken, Blynken, and Nod'" .... I told her we don't have any used copies of that one; we sell it too often and no one trades it in. She looked crushed, until she realized I was going to show her where the NEW copies are.

Her son and his wife are having their first baby, you see. "I always read to my kids growing up, of course," she said. "But the last thing we read, every night, before bed.... oh, I'm going to tear up now," she apologized, although I don't know why. I get it. We all get it, here. There are certain books, certain stories or poems, that are woven with important memories and rituals in our lives, that they tug deep. And we want to share them.

The new grandma-to-be wants HER son to be able to read "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" every night to HER new grandson, and carry on this lovely tradition.

I love that Wellsboro has the statue of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, and has therefore helped to keep this wonderful poem-lullaby in print. But even more, I love that books have that power in our lives, and that, as booksellers, as owners and purveyors of an indie bookstore, we get to be a part of that passion, that power, that joy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Splendor in the Grass

Kevin Coolidge

Don't judge a book by its cover. You might miss a good story. You've heard it before. We all have. Of course it's also a metaphor for life.

All kinds of people like to read. Maybe you think you know what somebody likes to read just by looking at them. Chances are you would be wrong.

When Hobo, our bookstore cat, died in January, we received several heartfelt sympathy cards, but perhaps the one that touched me the most quoted a stanza from "Intimations of Immortality," by William Wordsworth more commonly known as "Splendour in the Grass".

It was sent by a man who enjoys the classics. Many might not think a younger man with visible tattoos would enjoy reading, let along appreciate the romantic poets. You would be wrong.

There's no escaping death in our world, but we look beyond the loss. Perhaps we will remember the sunshine, the wind, and the splendor in the grass...

“What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.” – William Wordsworth

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Your Heart on your Sleeve?

Kevin Coolidge

Several weeks ago, we had a senior couple visiting Wellsboro. They browsed around, asked about the area, bought a couple of the classics, and left.

The woman came right back in. She saw something in the window on her way out that she just had to have.It was this insulated lunch cooler that has "Human Organ for Transplant" on it.

I was curious. I had to ask if it was for her. It was. She couldn't wait to use it.

I would have never guessed, but you just don't outgrow a sense of humor, that is if you're lucky...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kevin Vs. the Frost Giants

Kevin Coolidge

I've been watching Vikings on the History channel, and I wonder if I wasn't born into the wrong age. Is it too late to pick up an ax and invade England? I think I would have made a great berserker.

I've always liked mythology, and one of my favorites is Norse mythology. I find it more colorful than most. I prefer the Norse version of Armageddon, which is called Ragnarok.

The gods will fight at the side of men, and there will be mead and meat served afterwards. Much better fare than those other end of the world scenarios.

That's why I was happy to find out that the Valhalla Project is recruiting--excellent pay with no questions asked. Age of Odin written by James Lovegrove will give give hope to those who feel they were born out of place and time. It's never too late to get your Götterdämmerung* on...

*German version of Ragnarok

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Huck and the Easter Rex

Kevin Coolidge

It's April and spring is finally here. Huck, one of our new store cats, is sitting beside our Easter Rex waiting to ambush the Easter Bunny. Finn, his brother is getting caught up on his reading with Here Comes T. Rex Cottontail

It appears that Peter Cottontail is out sick, and there's only one dinosaur who's up to the task of delivering his eggs on Easter: T. Rex! All T. Rex has to do is work on hopping--without the wiggle. He keeps breaking all the eggs!

Join T. Rex and his friends as he saves the day in a very special way. Will practice make perfect? Will T. Rex save Easter? Will Huck get all the chocolate bunnies?

If you'd like to buy this book, why not buy it where you tried it? Simply click on the photo below, or the title, highlighted throughout this post, to purchase the book at From My Shelf Books & Gifts, and to support the writers of this fine blog ;) We thank you!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wanted: Dead or Damn Near

Kevin Coolidge

Crime takes but a moment, but justice an eternity-- unknown

She wears a blindfold. Some say it helps her be objective. Innocence or guilt should be determined without bias or prejudice, but the law isn’t always justice. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. Sometimes you need a good strong look to see the right or wrong of a situation, and sometimes Justice might as well be blind.

It’s blurry when it comes to the Molly Maguires. The “Mollies” were an alleged secret society of Irish mineworkers in the mid-1800s. Among the few jobs available to the Irish was dangerous work in the coal mines. Owned and controlled by old enemies, the Welsh and English.

The mining companies owned everything. They owned the towns where the miners lived, even their shacks. They owned the stores where the miners were forced to buy overpriced goods. By the time the company deducted rent, groceries, and equipment from a miner’s pay, he might have nothing left. It was damn near slavery, and grudges and vendettas flourished.

When wages were cut, threats, assaults, and sabotage exploded. Bitterness between Irish and English/Welsh factions escalated and people were brutally murdered on both sides. The Pinkerton Detective Agency was paid to infiltrate. Testimony of an agent sent over twenty men to the gallows, and the Mollies were eliminated.

On June 21, 1877--known as “The Day of the Rope”—ten Mollies were hanged. Before his death, Alexander Campbell placed his hand against the cell wall, declared his innocence, and claimed the print would remain there forever as proof. Attempts have been made to paint and plaster over the print, but it remains today. I’ve seen it myself.

Pennsylvania may have been settled by peaceful Quakers, but it’s a state with a violent past. America’s first school shooting took place around Greencastle, Pennsylvania in 1764. It was shortly after the French and Indian War, and tensions were still high.

Three Lenni Lenape braves raided a log cabin schoolhouse, shot and scalped the teacher, and all eleven children. Only one survived. Archie McCullough crawled away and was found by local settlers. The braves were admonished by elders for cowardice and killing children, but were never brought to justice.

The countryside may appear idyllic, but The Crime Buff’s Guide to Outlaw Pennsylvania by Ron Franscell and Karen B. Valentine reveals Pennsylvania’s darker side and secrets. Do you want to visit the birthplace of outlaws?* The scenes of horrific crimes? How about the graves of the innocent, and the guilty?

With the magic of GPS, you can stand in precise historical locations, or as close as imagination and modern technology can get you. This book can get you within inches of the past. Remember, many of these sites are private property. Don’t be an outlaw. Get permission.

Pennsylvania is so full of history that you can’t go outside without stepping on it. Slow down and take a look around at the places and events—good and bad—that have helped shape America, and get in touch with the past…

*John “Doc” Holiday was born in Philadelphia. Elliot Ness died in Coudersport Pennsylvania.

Outlaws? Or In-laws? Drop me an email at and let me know. Miss a column? It’s not a crime. Just go to when you have the time. Keep the streets safe, and keep a writer off them. Buy a book and save a life. It just may be your own…

If you'd like to buy this book, why not buy it where you tried it? Simply click on the photo below, or the title, highlighted throughout this post, to purchase the book at From My Shelf Books & Gifts, and to support the writers of this fine blog ;) We thank you!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How to Fight Presidents

Kevin Coolidge

America, the land of the free because of the brave—where you can grow up to be anything you dream, including the president. You know this is true, because your teacher told you so. Well, I hate to rain on your 4th of July, but you will never be the leader of the free world.

You need charisma, nerves of steel, and a fundraising network, and that’s just to get in the game. You also have to be at least thirty five years of age, born on US soil, and live for at least fourteen years in America. Don’t worry, your parent’s basement counts.

Don’t feel too bad. You’d have to be foolish to want the job anyway. Only someone with a giant ego and blind self-confidence would want it. Slandered, scrutinized, shot at, you’d have to be a lunatic.

Our founding fathers were passionate, reckless, and nutcases. After reading about the men American chose to lead, Daniel O’Brien knew he didn’t have the specific version of crazy required to be one. They were just too passionate, too tough and too crazy. Instead he chose to write How to Fight Presidents.

He started thinking about what it would take to defeat a president mentally, psychologically or physically – should he have to travel back in time and face one of these mad men. Hopefully, one of those men would not be George Washington. America’s first president rather enjoyed being shot at.

The idea that Washington enjoyed being shot at isn’t conjecture. In a letter to his brother, Washington wrote, “ I heard the bullets whistle and, believe me, there is something charming to the sound of bullets.” He would return from battles unscathed, but with bullet holes in his clothing. He actually believed he could not be killed in battle…He was never proven wrong.

Andrew Jackson was a wild eyed, hard-fighting man, but he didn’t wait for adulthood. In 1780, at the age of thirteen, he was captured by the British. He was ordered to shine the shoes of his captors, but refused. He was rewarded with a long gash by a sword across his cheek.

He was then forced to march shoeless, without food or water, for forty miles from one prison camp to another, with small pox. He also participated in thirteen duels* that we know of. He lived to duel, and there’s only one way you can participate in multiple duels…You’re really freaking good at them.

Teddy Roosevelt is without question the wildest and craziest president we have ever had or will ever have. He was sickly as a child, and complained of upset stomachs, headaches, and asthma. His fathered wanted him to toughen up, and told young Teddy that he had “the mind but…not the body, and without the help of the body, the mind cannot go as far as it should.”

TR took up boxing, wrestling, hunting, running, and fighting. He beat his sickness, even the asthma. He forced himself to take the harshest, toughest path available. He summed up his philosophy simply: “Man does in fact become fearless by sheer dint of practicing fearlessness.”

Roosevelt was never injured in battle, but he was shot while campaigning for a third term. Instead of treating the wound, he delivered his speech with an undressed, bleeding bullet hole. Lesser men might have used this as a excuse to cut the speech short, but he spoke…for an hour and a half.

In How to Fight Presidents, Daniel has gathered the most interesting, exciting and bizarre facts about the psychopaths who have declared themselves the protectors of life, liberty, and the American way of life. You’ll know to watch for Van Buren’s left hook, what JFK’s weaknesses are, and to not make any sudden movements around Teddy Roosevelt…

*Some historians dispute this number, but they all agree that Jackson loved him some dueling.

Lead? Follow? Or get out of the way? Email me at and let me know. Miss a past column? Let me lead you to and you can cast your vote. Join me in making “Bring your Claymore to Work Day” a national reality. Keep strong America. Keep sharp.

If you'd like to buy this book, why not buy it where you tried it? Simply click on the photo below, or the title, highlighted throughout this post, to purchase the book at From My Shelf Books & Gifts, and to support the writers of this fine blog ;) We thank you!