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February Literary Hill: Books for Under Blankets

As the days get longer and a hint of spring scents the air, this month’s column is for those of us who are still game for an afternoon under a blanket with a good book.

Between Heaven and Hell is Gray

For supporters of self-published fiction, this retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray, by J.R. Masterson (the pen name of DC native José Morgan) can be purchased through major online booksellers. The story follows Daniel Goddard, a handsome and sociable young man who, as the book jacket summarizes, “embarks on a globe-spanning quest to claim his blood-soaked legacy of unimaginable power and wealth.” The novel pulls Oscar Wilde’s story of craven vanity into the present. Between Heaven and Hell is Gray is the author’s third novel. Masterson notes that the book was a “true labor of love” and that he believes the book does Mr. Wilde proud.

Between Heaven and Hell is Gray

Belinda Lifts Her Voice/Belinda Eleva Su Voz

In this bilingual, moving, and socially aware new release from Shout Mouse Press, authors Luisa Orellana-Castillo, Brizel Martinez Cruz and Camila Melany De la Luz Villegas, bring us the story of Belinda, a young girl of Mexican and Salvadoran heritage. Horrified by plans for gentrification in her neighborhood and mourning the loss of her Aunt Tia, Belinda finds her voice, singing to protest the erasure and displacement of her community, as well as to share her self-love, pride-of-place, and courage. Heartwarming illustrations by Romeo Montero complement and deepen the story told. Suitable for readers aged 4 to 8 years.

All Shout Mouse Press titles can be purchased via www.shoutmousepress.org.

Historic Congressional Cemetery is calling all bookworms! 

Tombs and Tomes Bookfest – Congressional Cemetery is hosting its first book fest, on Sunday, April 21, 2024, 11 a.m. – 4.p.m. If you are a vendor, an author, a book-related vender, a crafts person, or a baker, they invite you to submit your application before February 16, 2024. (If selected, a $50 vendor fee will be required to reserve your spot.)

Tombs and Tomes Book Club – Congressional Cemetery’s book club meets every other month on the second Tuesday in the historic chapel on the cemetery grounds. Tombs and Tomes tends toward reading non-fiction books, especially books that feature the macabre. Recent reads have included: The Angel Makers: Arsenic, a Midwife, and Modern History’s Astonishing Murder Ring, Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey into the Antarctic Night, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. In March 2024, the book club will discuss A Tomb with a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards.

Readers will find other book clubs and book-related events tailored to every taste at East City Books (visit: eastcitybookshop.com), Solid State Books (visit: solidstatebooksdc.com) and Little District Books (visit: littledistrictbooks.com). Find your community and discuss good books!

Michelle LaFrance is Associate Professor of English at George Mason University. She teaches creative nonfiction, life writing, and civic writing at the Hill Center and blogs about writing, her upcoming writing classes, and writing retreats at writinglostriver.org.

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