Archive for March, 2008

Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark

Friday, March 28th, 2008

The March read for the Abingdon Lite at Night book group was Two Little Girls in Blue. A bestselling novel in 2006, Two Little Girls has been compared to Clark’s first novel Where are the Children, both featuring the abduction of children. Margaret and Steve Frawley face the worst that can happen when their twin daughters are kidnapped. One daughter, Kelly, is returned after a ransom is paid by Steve’s company, but the other daughter, Kathy, remains missing. Their mother believes Kelly is telepathically in touch with her twin, but those around her think she is hysterical and take some convincing. There are subplots concerning Steve’s half-brother, and Norman, who works for the same company as Steve. There are several suspects for the role of the Pied Piper, the mysterious man behind the kidnappings, so the plot keeps the reader interested. Despite the content, this is a quick and easy read. In general the group enjoyed reading this, and although some were not too excited by it, others said they would read other books by Clark.

For information on the author’s upcoming and past titles visit the Simon & Schuster website.;=352932

To read the lyrics to the song Two Little Girls in Blue, go to
This was written in 1893 by Charles Graham.

2008 Booksense, RITA, and Triangle Awards

Monday, March 24th, 2008

The winners of the 2008 Book Sense Book of the Year Awards have been announced. These awards honor the titles American Booksellers’ Asoociation members most enjoyed handselling:
* Fiction: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
* Nonfiction: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
* Children’s Literature: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
* Children’s Illustrated: Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems
The awards will be presented at ABA’s annual Celebration of Bookselling on Thursday, May 29, during BookExpo America. For the honor titles, click here.

RITA Awards Finalists:
The finalists for the RITA and Golden Heart Awards, which honor romance fiction and the best in unpublished romance manuscripts, respectively, are available at the Romance Writers of America’s website . The winners will be announced on August 2 during RWA’s 28th annual national conference in San Francisco, Calif.

Publishing Triangle Awards Finalists:
Finalists for the Publishing Triangle’s 20th annual Triangle Awards have been announced. Click here for details.
2008 Triangle Awards, honor the best lesbian and gay fiction, non-fiction, and poetry published in 2007.

2008 Hugo Award Nominees

Monday, March 24th, 2008

The finalists for the Hugo Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer have been announced. The list is available online here, the official Denvention3 website.

Denvention 3, the 66th World Science Fiction Convention, will take place from August 6 – August 10, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Saturday, August 9.

These are the contestants for Best Novel:

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon Find this book in our catalog.

Brasyl by Ian McDonald Find this book in our catalog.

Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer Find this book in our catalog.

The Last Colony by John Scalzi Find this book in our catalog.

Halting State by Charles Stross Find this book in our catalog.

Thriller Awards Nominees

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Nominees have been announced for the 2008 Thriller Awards, which are sponsored by International Thriller Writers . Click here for more details.
Winners will be announced at the ThrillerFest Gala Banquet on July 12 in New York City.

Best Novel
* No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay Find this book in our catalog.
* The Watchman by Robert Crais Find this book in our catalog.
* The Ghost by Robert Harris Find this book in our catalog.
* The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz Find this book in our catalog.
* Trouble by Jesse Kellerman Find this book in our catalog.
Best First Novel
* Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell Find this book in our catalog.
* Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover
* From the Depths by Gerry Doyle
* Volk’s Game by Brent Ghelfi Find this book in our catalog.
* Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill Find this book in our catalog.
Best Paperback Original
* The Last Nightingale by Anthony Flacco
* A Thousand Bones by P.J. Parrish Find this book in our catalog.
* The Midnight Road by Tom Piccirilli Find this book in our catalog.
* The Queen of Bedlam by Robert McCammon Find this book in our catalog.
* Shattered by Jay Bonansinga Find this book in our catalog.

Arthur C. Clarke – In Memoriam

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, author of more than 100 books, inventor, futurist and science fiction icon, died March 18 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He was 90. He was probably best known for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. The New York Times has a long obituary.

These are Clarke’s Three Laws, published in Profiles of the Future (1962):

“When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is
possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”

“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

PEN/Faulkner Award

Monday, March 17th, 2008

The PEN/Faulkner Award was given last week to Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man.

Find this book in our catalog.
Jacket Notes:
Christensen pens a scintillating comedy of life among the avant-garde–of the untidy truths, needy egos, and jostling for position behind the glossy facadeof artistic greatness–in this story of a New York City painter living in theheroic generation of the 1940s and 1950s.
REVIEW: Publisher’s Weekly 05/21/2007
This penetratingly observed novel is less about the great man of its title than the women Oscar Feldman, fictional 20th-century New York figurative painter (and an infamous seducer of models as well as a neglectful father), leaned on and left behind: Abigail, his wife of more than four decades; Teddy, his mistress of nearly as many years; and Maxine, his sister, an abstract artist who has achieved her own lesser measure of fame. Five years after Feldman’s death, as the women begin sketching their versions of him for a pair of admiring young biographers working on very different accounts of his life, long-buried resentments corrode their protectiveness, setting the stage for secrets to be spilled and bonds to be tested. Christensen (The Epicure’s Lament ) tells the story with striking compassion and grace, and her characters are fully alive and frankly sexual creatures. Distraction intrudes when real-world details are wrong (the A-train, for instance, doesn’t run through the Bronx), and the novel’s bookends-an obituary and a book review, both ostensibly from the New York Times -are less than convincing as artifacts. In all, however, this is an eloquent story posing questions to which there are no simple answers: what is love? what is family? what is art?
Other books in the library by Kate Christensen:
The Epicure’s Lament. Published 2004 by Doubleday Books Find this book in our catalog.

In the Drink. Published 1999 by Doubleday Books Find this book in our catalog.

An article in the anthology: The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth about Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage by Cathi Hanauer. Published 2002 by William Morrow & Company Find this book in our catalog.

Find out more about Kate Christensen and the PEN/Faulkner Award

Mudbound by

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Heard about by me on National Public Radio this morning – this debut fiction seems set to take off in popularity! Certainly it sounds like a very rewarding book group selection!

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan Find this book in our catalog.
Jacket Notes:
A gripping and exquisitely rendered story of forbidden love, betrayal, and murder, set against the brutality of the Jim Crow South. When Henry McAllan moves his city-bred wife, Laura, to a cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta in 1946, she finds herself in a place both foreign and frightening. Laura does not share Henry’s love of rural life, and she struggles to raise their two young children in an isolated shotgun shack with no indoor plumbing or electricity, all the while under the eye of her hateful, racist father-in-law. When it rains, the waters rise up and swallow the bridge to town, stranding the family in a sea of mud. As the McAllans are being tested in every way, two celebrated soldiers of World War II return home to help work the farm. Jamie McAllan is everything his older brother Henry is not: charming, handsome, and sensitive to Laura’s plight, but also haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, comes home from fighting the Nazis with the shine of a war hero, only to face far more personal-and dangerous-battles against the ingrained bigotry of his own countrymen. It is the unlikely friendship of these two brothers-in-arms, and the passions they arouse in others, that drive this powerful debut novel. “Mudbound” reveals how everyone becomes a player in a tragedy on the grandest scale, even as they strive for love and honor. Jordan’s indelible portrayal of two families caught up in the blind hatred of a small Southern town earned the prestigious Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded biennially to a first literary novel that addresses issues of social injustice. More . . .

Click here to go to the NPR Good Morning America piece for Friday, March 14, 2008 on “Racism and Family Secrets in Mudbound.”

Mudbound earned Hillary Jordan the Bellwether Prize for fiction, an award founded by author Barbara Kingsolver to promote literature of social responsibility. The cash prize and publishing contract is awarded bi-annually to an unpublished author.

More about the Bellwether Prize
Click here for Barbara Kingsolver’s webpage

Book World News Roundup March 10, 2008 – Awards

Monday, March 10th, 2008

2007 National Book Critics Circle Awards

The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, is a non-profit organization consisting of nearly 700 active book reviewers who are interested in honoring quality writing and communicating with one another about common concerns.

The Awards were given at a ceremony on Thursday, March 6, 2008
Here is the complete list of winners in all categories:
Fiction: Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
General Nonfiction: Harriet Washington, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
Autobiography: Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying
Biography: Tim Jeal, Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer
Criticism: Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
Poetry: Mary Jo Bang, Elegy
Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing: Sam Anderson, book critic for New York Magazine
Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award: Emile Buchwald, founding publisher of Milkweed Editions

Irish Book Award Shortlists Announced
The winners will be announced at Mansion House, Dublin, on 24th April. Please click on the website to see the shortlists in full.

Book of the Year Award finalists announced
ForeWord magazine’s Book of the Year Awards program was designed to discover distinctive books across a number of genres. These books represent some of the best work coming from today’s independent press community.Nearly 1,600 books were entered in 61 categories. These were narrowed to 658 finalists, from 350 publishers.The winners will be determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers, selected from ForeWord’s readership. Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced at a special program at BookExpo America at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles on May 29.
Click here to view all finalists

My Next Good Book – a new service of HCPL and ReadersPlace

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008


Readers Place has just launched a new interactive service for HCPL customers looking for their next good book to read. My Next Good Book is both an interactive source of reading suggestions and a place to participate in book discussions, with over 6 million books to choose from!

My Next Good Book lets readers either just browse for book suggestions, or, after login, compile any number of personal bookshelves, leave comments on the books, or share the shelves with others.

My Next Good Book is customized. My Next Good Book is tailored to HCPL needs. My Next Good Book is part of ReadersPlace on the Harford County Public Library website, and has links direct to our catalog from the recommended titles.

Most important, My Next Good Book is personalized for each account holder. That’s why it is called, “My Next Good Book!”

My Next Good Book has a special area for reading suggestions from Harford County Public Library staff. Featured are lists for new fiction and large print on order for HCPL, with links to the catalog for each title. HCPL Director, Audra Caplan has posted a list of books she has read recently. Readers have given us their favorites from Winter Reading for you to browse.

Our intended audience is adults, though there is a book discussion group specially for teens. The book discussions are listed by topic. Click on the Book Discussions button at the top of the page. Also at the top of the page is a Meet Authors button. Meet 3 to 6 different authors a week.

Click on the “About” page to see all the ways you can use My Next Good Book. Check out the My Next Good Book page on ReadersPlace.

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

An Incomplete Revenge
by Jacqueline Winspear Find this book in our catalog.

Private investigator Maisie Dobbs is commissioned to investigate a series of petty crimes and mysterious fires in a Kentish village during the annual hop picking. Maisie is able to bring both her experience gained as a frontline dressing station nurse in the First World War and knowledge of her own roots to help solve the mystery.

I liked this book overall, but I had one or two problems with it. It is a great read for fans of cozy mysteries with substance. There are a number of writers today who hark back to the traditional cozy mysteries of the heyday of writers like Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Sayer. Just as these giants of the mystery genre did, the contemporary writers, including Jacqueline Winspear, examine questions of evil and its consequences down through time, revenge, forgiveness, retribution and redemption. Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs is a psychic and a student of human nature. Usually the stories she appears in deal in the psychological toll of war, as several of Christie’s did. For me Winspear does a great job of dealing with these issues within the conventions of the mystery genre. These issues drive the plot, which is very believable and well-crafted. My only complaint with the plot is that the reader knows the solution to the mystery almost before Maisie does – it is perhaps rather obvious.

This transparency is perhaps because Winspear does such a good job of laying out for us all the historical background of the period between World Wars I and II in England. Given the background we understand the motives. Winspear is very good at conveying the class system and snobbery of the time. My quibble with “An Incomplete Revenge” is that for me the book does not have a light enough touch when dealing with these issues. Agatha Christie, writing in the 1930s was able to send up prejudice with gentle satire. Sometimes for me Winspear is either stuffy or didactic.

Her research is very extensive, obviously. Readers who like arcane or exotic details in their mysteries will love the descriptions of the way of life of the Roma, or Gypsies, who go hop picking every summer in Kent. I also particularly enjoyed Winspear’s writing when she described the late summer weather, scents, and sights in the Kentish fields.

I’d love to hear from readers who have discovered other historical mystery writers like Jacqueline Winspear.

Here is another view on the book:
REVIEW: Publisher’s Weekly 11/26/2007: In Edgar-finalist Winspear’s enjoyable fifth installment in her Maisie Dobbs series (after 2006′s Messenger of Truth), the psychologist/investigator digs deep into a village’s long-buried secrets. Maisie’s benefactor, tycoon James Compton, wants to buy an estate in the bucolic hamlet of Heronsdene, but is wary after a string of mysterious fires. Maisie soon proves Compton’s suspicions correct when she encounters the shady current landowner and a vaguely menacing band of Gypsies in town for the seasonal harvest. The locals are also curiously tight-lipped about Heronsdene’s wartime tragedy, when a zeppelin raid wiped out a family. Teasing out Heronsdene’s secrets will take all the intrepid former nurse’s psychological skills and test her ability to navigate between the Gypsy and gorja (non-Gypsy) worlds. Winspear vividly evokes England between the wars, when the old order crumbled and new horizons beckoned working women like her appealing heroine. Even if a few of the plot twists prove predictable, this jaunt back to a bygone era is as satisfying as a spin in Maisie’s MG.