Three themes unite the books within our roundup this month: conservatives, conservation, and connection. Yet the titles included vary widely from cookbooks to scholarly studies. We hope this range will help in your gift hunting endeavors!

To top it off, all of the books below are discounted in our 2014 Holiday Sale. Apply code XM14 at checkout to take advantage of the sale. And if you spend $50 or more, you’ll receive a free tote bag!


“There couldn’t be better timing for the appearance of this exceptional study of Jeb Bush’s eight-year reign…as Florida’s governor,” says Voice of Reason, the Americans for Religious Liberty newsletter, of Matthew Corrigan’s Conservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida. “This is an excellent book which should be on every serious citizen’s reading list for the new year.”

“If Jeb Bush runs for presidency in 2016, University of North Florida political scientist Matt Corrigan’s book Conservative Hurricane will be a must-read for pundits and voters across the nation who want to be well-informed about how Bush can be expected to govern,” says the Florida Times-Union.

The possibility seems likely. Another article in the Florida Times-Union urges Jeb Bush to run, citing some of the facts from Corrigan’s book that make Bush a credible candidate. Corrigan “sees the pluses and minuses clearly,” the opinion piece notes, supporting the “strong case that Bush was the most effective governor at getting dramatic policies enacted.”

A New York Times article talks about a “loyalist” who sent the book to the Washington bureau, along with a note reading, “‘The Jeb as a moderate stuff is way ahistorical, which most people have missed.’” Whoever shared the book with the New York Times seems aligned with Corrigan’s view of Bush as conservative.

Whether Bush runs or not, Corrigan’s book remains the only one to recount Bush’s eight-year term. The Financial News & Daily Record calls Corrigan a “political expert….a sounding board for people who are considering running for office.”
Author Bryan Hardin Thrift received praise from The Journal of American History for Conservative Bias: How Jesse Helms Pioneered the Rise of Right-Wing Media and Realigned the Republican Party. The journal notes that Thrift “goes beyond the typical stereotypes of southern bigots to make Helms’s footprint on the conservative movement large.”
Stepping out into nature, Bill Belleville’s The Peace of Blue: Water Journeys is “a riveting story that draws readers in,” says Lake Mary Life. “Bill masterfully describes his experiences while weaving in some historical and natural facts.”

“In tightly woven essays, he strives to argue…that the watery wilderness is threatened,” notes Foreword.
The essays in Mac Stone’s Everglades: America’s Wetland also call for attention to an endangered environment, offering “lots of information about the critically imperiled Everglades,” says The Ledger in its gift guide. The guide praises Everglades as “a perfect book for anyone who loves Florida’s natural beauty.”

Hatch Magazine also commends the book for “introduc[ing] a wide audience to the beauty, splendor, and importance of the Everglades,” noting that “Stone’s book may be the best opportunity to experience the Everglades in advance of heading down to wet a line in its iconic waters yourself.”

“Its pages serve as a meditative road map to this once pristine wonder,” one blogger writes. “In a very tangible way, he’s carrying on Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ legacy in the effort to restore, conserve and protect the Everglades.”

In an interview with the National Park Conservation Association’s Park Advocate, Stone reminds us that “it’s very easy for someone to go down to the Everglades now and say, ‘Yeah, it looks fine, it looks great.’ But when you get down to the science, things are not okay.” He hopes to shed light on that issue with his book, as he believes “the biggest threat to the Everglades is ambivalence—people just not understanding what the problems are and why it’s so special.”


Another author this fall, Gary Monroe, also wanted to reveal more information about South Florida with his new book, Mary Ann Carroll: First Lady of the Highwaymen. “You get a glimpse of what life was like in Fort Pierce in the 1950s and ’60s, when whites and blacks were literally segregated by a canal,” says the West Volusia Beacon of the book. Monroe’s new book is a must to add to any art library, and of course for anyone who was lucky enough to have acquired a Highwayman painting.”


David Dorsey, author of Fourth Down in Dunbar, also aimed to shed light on an oft-overlooked aspect of Florida history. In what FOX Sports calls “an outstanding new book,” Dorsey “chronicles the challenges [Sammy] Watkins and a slew of other future NFL stars like Deion Sanders and Jevon Kearse had to overcome while being raised in an impoverished part of Fort Myers, Fla.”

Sports Illustrated heralded the book as a “probing history of a poor, drug-riddled Florida neighborhood that cranks out NFLers.”

In the below interview with Lee Pitts, Dorsey talks more about the book and the town of Dunbar.


Continuing with the tour of South Florida, Naples Illustrated praises Johnny Molloy’s Day Hiking Southwest Florida for “includ[ing] some of the best hikes to see the natural beauty in and around Naples with a renewed sense of wonder….whether you’re a weekend warrior looking to explore untamed wilderness or the casual enthusiast in search of a leisurely stroll.”

And in The Archaeology of Pineland: A Coastal Southwest Florida Site Complex, A.D. 50-1710, edited by William H. Marquardt and Karen J. Walker, the duo presents “an impressive, comprehensive, and authoritative treatise on the archaeology of one of the most important archaeological sites in the United States,” according to American Antiquity. “This is a tour de force and a must-have monograph for Florida archaeologists,” the review continues.
Moving back indoors, the cookbooks this fall continue to impress. Good Catch: Recipes & Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida’s Waters by Pam Brandon, Katie Farmand, and Heather McPherson appeared in 360 West Magazine’s “Books for Cooks” listing in their Giving Season lineup. “No road is too narrow, no fishing hole too remote for author Pam Brandon and her team, who trek through Florida’s wetlands and shoreline in search of seafood recipes that reflect the diverse bounty of the Gulf,” the magazine notes. “Good Catch crisscrosses the state in stories, recipes, and delicious photos, uncovering uncommonly good recipes for oyster stew, guava-glazed mahimahi, Creole lobster and cocktails to match.”

“The stories will charm you whether you’re a sucker for manatee nostrils peeking out of the water or you love stories about Floridians,” says Miami Dish. Good Catch is what happens when thoughtful, passionate women collaborate….[and] makes a great gift for anyone who loves food, fishing, folks and Florida.”

The Miami Herald notes that “by linking our waters and fisherfolk and generations of Floridians’ symbiotic relationship to the sea with what appears on our tables [the authors] create a cookbook as much for reading as for consulting recipes.”

Discussing Ana Quincoces and Nicole Valls’s The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook, the Miami Herald calls attention to the book’s “wonderful reminiscences.”

Quincoces and Valls appeared on NBC 6 South Florida to share some of their recipes and to speak more about the restaurant behind the book. And on WSVN-TV’s A Bite with Belkys, the pair shared their iconic Cuban sandwich recipe.

Miami Magazine showcased Jen Karetnick’s Mango, deeming the cookbook “a collectible anthology that both fills us in on the role of this favorite fruit on our breakfast, lunch and dinner tables, and reminds us of the unique restaurant history of Miami, where dining establishments can be as ephemeral as mango season itself.”

“This book is the ultimate book on mango,” says South Florida Gourmet, who interviewed Karetnick. “It is delightfully written, based on serious research and highlights all those chefs and mixologists who are striving to use our local products in their cuisines.”

Karetnick also appeared on WLRN to tell how she became known as the “Mango Mama”

Mark DeNote’s The Great Florida Craft Beer Guide complements each cookbook with its plentiful information on Florida’s craft beer. “With well-researched tidbits of regional brewing history…[the book] makes a great jumping-off point for any beer-lovers’ road trip,” says the Orlando Sentinel.

WLRN interviewed DeNote about the book and shared his “The Great Florida Craft Beer Quiz.” Take the quiz and see how you score (but we recommend listening to the interview for some hints first).

All four books featured at Miami Book Fair International adding to what the Miami Herald recognized as an unscripted theme of “cooking as redemption, and cooking as connection.”

On the subject of alcohol, David Carey Jr.’s Distilling the Influence of Alcohol: Aguardiente in Guatemalan History impressed the Hispanic American Historical Review with its “strong case for the importance of alcohol both within Guatemalan history and as an illuminating subject of historical research beyond Guatemalan borders.” The HAHR continues to praise the work, noting “the volume [makes] a useful overview of the subject for students and scholars alike….that clearly shows how studying alcohol can shed new light on broader questions in Guatemalan and Latin American history.”

Zeki Saritoprak’s Islam’s Jesus rounds out the theme of connection among the books in this roundup. CHOICE recommended the title, citing its “medieval and modern Islamic interpretations of Jesus” and “the many shared Christian and Islamic beliefs about Jesus…as foundational for needed interfaith understanding and cooperation.”

The Catholic Register spoke with Saritoprak, who believes that “unless we can talk to each other about our most deeply held beliefs and what they mean to us, Muslims and Christians will continue to clash and continue to misunderstand each other.”

Islam’s Jesus is an important academic text to begin true interfaith discussions,” notes Middle East Media and Book Reviews. “With the insight from Islam’s Jesus, both Christians and Muslims will have more understanding with which to come together and discuss their traditions with a mutual respect for their differences.”


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