Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston, SC

The Road to Healing with Ken Woodley, Thurs., Dec. 5, 5:30 pm

Join us Thurs., Dec. 5, 5:30 pm as journalist Ken Woodley will be here to discuss his new book The Road to Healing (NewSouth Books, hb., 224 pp., $28).

Prince Edward County, Virginia closed its public school system in 1959 in “massive resistance” to the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board decision of 1954. The editorial pages of the local family-owned newspaper, The Farmville Herald, led the fight to lock classrooms rather than integrate them. The school system remained closed until the fall of 1964, when the County was forced by federal courts to comply with the school integration ordered by Brown. The vast majority of white children had continued their education in a private, whites-only academy. But more than 2,000 black students were left without a formal education by the five-year closure. Their lives were forever changed.

The Road to Healing: A Civil Rights Reparation Story in Prince Edward County, Virginia is Ken Woodley’s first-person account of the steps taken in recent years to redress the wound. The book’s centerpiece is the 18-month fight to create what legendary civil rights activist Julian Bond told the author would become the first Civil Rights-era reparation in United States history; it was led by Woodley, then editor of The Farmville Herald, still owned by the original family.

Ken Woodley was the editor for twenty-four years of the Farmville Herald in Prince Edward County, Virginia. A licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church, he has published daily spiritual meditations Forward Day By Day. He has also written half a dozen stories for elementary-aged children and is looking for the right publishing home for these. When he’s not writing, volunteering at an after-school program for at-risk children, or reading with his dog Pugsley in his lap, Woodley enjoys listening to half a dozen beautiful notes played slowly on an electric guitar rather than fifty played too fast to appreciate them. And he loves his wife, Kim.

Saturday’s Child Book Discussion with Deborah Burns, Thurs., Nov. 14, 7 pm

Join us Thurs., Nov. 14, 7 pm as Deborah Burns will be here to discuss her new memoir Saturday’s Child (She Writes Press, pb., 256 pp., $16.95). The talk will be moderated by Anne Janas, a Charleston-based communications strategist and board member at the Gibbes Museum of Art.

An only child, Deborah Burns grew up in prim 1950s America in the shadow of her beautiful, unconventional, rule-breaking mother, Dorothy―a red-haired beauty who looked like Rita Hayworth and skirted norms with a style and flair that made her the darling of men and women alike. Married to the son of a renowned Italian family with ties to the underworld, Dorothy fervently eschewed motherhood and domesticity, turning Deborah over to her spinster aunts to raise while she was the star of a vibrant social life. As a child, Deborah revered her charismatic mother, but Dorothy was a woman full of secrets with a troubled past―a mistress of illusion whose love seemed just out of her daughter’s grasp.

In vivid, lyrical prose, Saturday’s Child tells the story of Deborah’s eccentric upbringing and her quest in midlife, long after her parents’ death, to uncover the truth about her mother and their complex relationship. No longer under the spell of her maternal goddess, but still caught in a wrenching cycle of love and longing, Deborah must finally confront the reality of her mother’s legacy―and finally claim her own.

Deborah Burns is a former Chief Innovation Office and brand leader for ELLEgirl, ELLE Décor, Metropolitan Home, and ELLE Global Marketing. Now a media industry consultant, she helps brands, executives, and professional women reinvent themselves through her expertise, coaching process, and website,, which she founded. Beneath her business leader exterior, however, always beat the heart of a writer, and several years ago she began the creative journey to write Saturday’s Child and tell her mother’s story. She lives on Long Island, New York with her husband and their three children.


Former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice at Grace Church Cathedral, Mon., Nov. 18, 7 pm

Mon., Nov. 18, 7 pm, Obama Administration National Security Advisor and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice will speak at Grace Church Cathedral, 98 Wentworth St., downtown Charleston. A collaboration between Grace Church and Mt. Zion AME, this event is an offshoot of their monthly Okra Soup meetings.

Ambassador Rice will be in conversation with former Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., about her new memoir, Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (Simon and Schuster, hb., 544 pp., $30). Booksigning to follow.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information please call Blue Bicycle Books, 843-722-2666.

Tough Love is a remarkable, and remarkably candid, story: of the ancestral legacies of Susan Rice’s elders—immigrants on one side and descendants of slaves on the other—and their formidable work as educators, community leaders, and public servants; of the family struggles that shaped her early life in Washington, D.C.; and of the pivotal moments from her dynamic career on the front lines of American diplomacy and foreign policy.

Ambassador Rice provides an insider’s account of some of the most complex issues confronting the United States over three decades, ranging from “Black Hawk Down” in Somalia to the genocide in Rwanda and the East Africa embassy bombings in the late 1990s, to Libya, Syria, a secret channel to Iran, the Ebola epidemic, and the opening to Cuba during the Obama years. With unmatched insight and characteristic bluntness, she reveals previously untold stories behind recent national security challenges, including confrontations with Russia and China, the war against ISIS, the struggle to contain the fallout from Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, the U.S. response to Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the transition to the Trump administration.

“Reading Tough Love is like taking a master class in how to be a powerful woman.  It is also a classic American tale, relatable to anyone who has ever dreamed of success.  I was riveted from the first page of Tough Love to the last.” —Shonda Rhimes

“At the core of Rice’s story, and brilliant career, is a fearless commitment to the truth and an unwavering devotion to the lessons she inherited as the descendant of Jamaican immigrants in Maine and enslaved Africans in South Carolina: to prize education as the path up to the American Dream and to have the confidence to be herself.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Before the talk, the community is invited to join in the monthly “Okra Soup” meal and discussion at 5:30 pm, in Hanahan Hall at Grace, led by Rev. Kylon Middleton of Mt. Zion AME and Rev. Callie Walpole of Grace Cathedral.  This monthly gathering brings individuals of diverse backgrounds around the table for meaningful conversation while enjoying the most soulful of Lowcountry dishes: Okra Soup!







Cohension Culture with Dr. Troy Hall, Wed., Oct. 23, 5:30 pm

Join us Wed., Oct. 23, 5:30 pm as author Dr. Troy Hall will be here to to discuss his new book Cohesion Culture (Koelher Books, hb., 160 pp., $24.95).

In Cohesion Culture, Dr. Troy Hall convincingly argues that leaders who are objective, evenhanded, and humbly serve others thereby make an impact. Sixty-three percent of employees are actively searching for a new position. In today’s war for talent, the focus should be on talent retention, not just talent attraction. C-Suite Executives, Company Founders, and Sr. HR Leaders need to develop an organizational culture where employees want to belong. Dr. Troy Hall helps you create a “Best Places To Work” environment, where your employees love to work, and stay to work.

As the Chief Strategy Officer for South Carolina Federal Credit Union, Dr. Troy and his team have built a Cohesion Culture™ where employees have a sense of belonging, feel valued, and make a commitment to organizational success. Dr. Troy uses his book to showcase how and why South Carolina Federal Credit Union has been named a “Best Places To Work” by Glassdoor, the Credit Union Industry, and state of South Carolina. Dr. Troy’s mission is to advise executives on how to build a Cohesion Culture™ with the expressed intent of retaining top talent. When a culture of cohesion is in place, employees experience a sense of belonging, feel valued and align with the commitments of your organization.

Malaya Launch Party with Cinelle Barnes, Tues., Oct. 29, 6 pm

Join us Tues., Oct. 29, 6 pm as Cinelle Barnes will be here to launch her new essay collection Malaya: Essays on Freedom (Little A, hb., 204 pp., $24.95).

Out of a harrowing childhood in the Philippines, Cinelle Barnes emerged triumphant. But as an undocumented teenager living in New York, her journey of self-discovery was just beginning.

Because she couldn’t get a driver’s license or file taxes, Cinelle worked as a cleaning lady and a nanny and took other odd jobs—and learned to look over her shoulder, hoping she wouldn’t get caught. When she falls in love and marries a white man from the South, Cinelle finds herself trying to adjust to the thorny underbelly of “southern hospitality” as a new mother, an immigrant affected by PTSD, and a woman with a brown body in a profoundly white world. From her immigration to the United States, to navigating a broken legal system, to balancing assimilation and a sense of self, Cinelle comes to rely on her resilience and her faith in the human spirit to survive and come of age all over again.

Lyrical, emotionally driven, and told through stories both lived and overheard, Cinelle’s intensely personal, yet universal, exploration of race, class, and identity redefines what it means to be a woman—and an American—in a divided country.

Cinelle Barnes is a memoirist, essayist, and educator from Manila, Philippines, and is the author of Monsoon Mansion: A Memior (Little A, 2018) and Malaya: Essays on Freedom (Little A, 2019), and the editor of a forthcoming anthology of essays about the American South (Hub City Press, 2020). She earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Converse College. Her writing has appeared in Buzzfeed Reader, Catapult, Literary Hub, Hyphen, Panorama: A Journal of Intelligent Travel, and South 85, among others. Her debut was listed as a Best Nonfiction Book of 2018 by Bustle and nominated for the 2018 Reading Women Nonfiction Award. Barnes was a WILLA: Women Writing the American West Awards screener and a 2018-19 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards juror, and is the 2018-19 writer-in-residence at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, where she and her family live.


Lost Charleston with Leigh Jones Handal, Sat., Oct. 12, 2 pm

Join us Sat., Oct. 122 pm as author Leigh Jones Handal will be here to give us a tour of Lost Charleston (Pavilion, pb., 144 pp., $22.50).

From the dawn of the photographic era, Lost Charleston chronicles the markets, mansions, hotels, restaurants, church towers and cherished businesses that time, progress, and fashion have swept aside.

The miracle of Charleston is that despite the very worst that man and nature has thrown at it–from earthquakes to hurricanes, great fires to Civil War bombardment–so much of the city has been preserved. Lost Charleston shows what else could have been on display for tourists to visit had events been otherwise. Using classic archive images, Charleston’s greatest architectural and cultural losses are documented in chronological order from 1861 through to 2018.

Apart from the grand buildings there are also elements of Charleston life that have disappeared over time, many of which will still resonate with the local community. These include beloved local restaurants, annual festivals, the fishing fleet that DuBose Heyward wrote about in his novel Porgy, a famed local football team, trolley cars, and the Piggly Wiggly store. Plus there’s the Jenkins Orphanage Band whose dance moves gave the city its most famous export: The Charleston!

A native South Carolinian, Leigh Jones Handal has been an avid student of Low Country history since she was a Brownie Scout. She is co-editor of the City of Charleston’s official Tour Guide Training Manual and organized Historic Charleston Foundation’s annual spring house-and-garden tours for 13 years, as well as the Preservation Society of Charleston’s Fall home tours. A graduate of the College of Charleston, Leigh has been a licensed tour guide for more than 20 years.

Marianne Williamson event Mon. Sept. 23 RESCHEDULED FOR Wed. Oct. 9

The bookstore event with author and presidential candidate Marianne Williamson for Mon., Sept. 23 has been postponed to Wed., October 9, 11 am, due to the funeral of Emily Clyburn, civil rights activist and wife of Congressman James Clyburn.

Gertie with Kathryn Smith, Sat. Oct. 2, 2 pm

Join us Sat., Oct. 2, 2 pm as Kathryn Smith will be here to sign her new book Gertie: The Fabulous Life of Gertrude Sanford Legendre; Heress, Explorer, Socialite, Spy.

Gertie lived a 20th century life full of fun, adventure, derring-do and drama. Read all about her Gilded Age girlhood, explorations on three continents, hijinks on the French Riviera with the Lost Generation, work for the OSS—the original American spy agency—during World War II, and her imprisonment by the Nazis. And that’s less than half the story of this remarkable South Carolinian’s life!

Kathryn Smith is a journalist and writer with a long fascination with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his circle and his times. Her abiding interest in FDR led to her decision to write The Gatekeeper, the first and only biography of Marguerite LeHand, his private secretary, confidant, advisor and friend. Kathryn frequently speaks about Missy, often in character and in period costume. Kathryn’s most recent venture is co-authorship, with Kelly Durham, of the Missy LeHand Mystery novels, beginning with Shirley Temple Is Missing. A second novel, The President’s Birthday Ball Affair, is in the works.


Marianne Williamson 2020 Teen Voices Forum, Wed., Oct. 9, 11 am

Wed., Oct. 9, 11 am the Marianne Williamson 2020 Teen Council presents the MW202o Teen Voices Forum with guest of honor 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson in conversation with Teen Council organizer Mateusz Wojnarowicz. This free event in the Blue Bicycle Courtyard will feature live music and refreshments, followed by a meet-and-greet and booksigning with the candidate in the store from 12:15-1 pm.

In addition to being a candidate for president, Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed lecturer, activist and author of four #1 New York Times bestselling books. She has been one of America’s most well-known public voices for more than three decades. Seven of her twelve published books have been New York Times bestsellers and Marianne has been a popular guest on television programs such as Oprah, Good Morning America, and Bill Maher.


REVIEW: City of Beasts by Corrie Wang, Reviewed by Jonathan Sanchez

Just about every aspect of the eighties has come back as retro. (The 2020 Olympics will even have break dancing, which sounds like an idea from one of the zanier Electric Boogaloo characters.) But one major part of life in the Reagan era that hasn’t been rehashed much is the overhanging threat of nuclear war. 

It’s certainly the first thing that comes to mind when my fellow parents stress about their children suffering the trauma of active shooter drills. We had fallout shelters and War Games and The Day After, and “99 Red Balloons.” 

Corrie Wang’s City of Beasts is a terrific, old-school post-nuclear dystopia, the kind we used to see back in the eighties. There’s also catastrophic flooding in a nod to a more current crisis. Global warming sea-level rise has sent refugees to Buffalo NY, and then in the chaos, someone hacked the missile codes, so her story begins after a good-old-fashioned World War III. (Remember that? Back in the Cold War, that extra Roman numeral I was all it took to signify nuclear annihilation and all its radioactive aftermath.)

A few years later and the world — or Buffalo at least —  has divided into two camps, women on one side of the Niagara River and men on the other. When the teenage narrator, Glori, crosses over and encounters the men’s world for the first time, it offers up a whole host of fun possibilities and rifts on male/female relations. The women live in something of a nerdy sorority, kung fu convent, taking turns at chores and training as lethal ninjas (nun-jas?). The men live like slobs — Lord of the Flies with porn and motorcycles. 

But what’s fun about this book is that Corrie isn’t heavy-handed with this dichotomy. The women’s side is a bit boring in its rigorous asceticism, and the men have their charms. To be sure, it is a dystopian world,  twice-ruined, and both times are the fault of men. But Wang clearly has more to say than “girls rule / boys drool.” It’s clear that, for all their faults, Wang actually likes the men. She herself has spent a lot of time in a male-dominated arena — her other gig is as a restauranteur — and Food and Beverage is probably one of the best ways to see men at both their worst and their best, often in one night. 

Corrie may be a Buffalo girl who spent her formative years in Brooklyn, but Charleston is her home now, and she gives her new hometown a shout-out. Glori comes across a group of refugees from the Lowcountry in an abandoned subway. If you need another warning about climate change, how about seeing residents of your town living in subterranean squalor below Buffalo, because they can’t handle the New York / nuclear winter.

I highly recommend City of Beasts. Wang clearly loves her characters, be they ‘beasts’ or ‘fees,” and she’s written a snappy, fresh take on male-female dynamics.