Archive for August, 2008

One Bullet Away: the Making of a Marine Officer by Nathaniel Fick

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer Find this book in our catalog will be a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention Thursday evening, August 28 before Barack Obama accepts the nomination. Fick’s speech will be broadcast on primetime TV.

Published in 2005 the book won a B&N; Discover award. Rolling Stone writer Evan Wright’s provocative Generation Kill Find this book in our catalog was based on his travels with Fick’s unit.
HCPL has books on the Iraq war from all kinds of point of view:

Heroes among us : firsthand accounts of combat from America’s most decorated warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan edited and with an introduction by Chuck Larson ; with a foreword by Tommy Franks and an afterword by John McCain. Find this book in our catalog

HOGs in the shadows : combat stories from Marine snipers in Iraq by Milo S. Afong. Find this book in our catalog

A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

A Version of the Truth is a well-written novel that asks how far would you go to recreate yourself. Cassie Shaw lies on her application form for a university office job. She is newly widowed from a man who has verbally abused her and with a childhood that left her unsure and unqualified due to her learning disabilities. But Cassie is not dumb, and she begins to aspire to greater things. Readers will have a lot of sympathy for this character, and despite the lies that eventually trip her up, will be rooting for her success. Three male characters highlight different aspects of Cassie’s development, Frank, the loser husband, Freddy, the rich and spoilt lover, and Connor, the professor. Cassie’s nature loving mom, Alison, Freddy’s superficial sister, and Cassie’s friend Tiff make up the main female characters. Added to this mix are a bird called Sam, some ivory-billed woodpeckers that may or may not exist, and Black Dog. The nature elements of the novel are intriguing and often humorous, as Cassie’s mom insists she has seen BigFoot. For Cassie she can be true to herself in a natural environment, where no one judges or makes demands.

The Abingdon Book Group liked this book and would like to go back and read the first novel by these authors, Literacy and Longing in L.A.

Book discussion questions can be found at

From Publishers Weekly
Cassie Shaw, the 30-year-old dyslexic high school dropout narrator of Kaufman and Mack’s follow-up to Literacy and Longing in L.A., is devoid of self-esteem and, as the winsome novel opens, has just been widowed by a jerk who left her nothing but debt. Desperate for a job, Cassie fudges her education background on a job application and snags an entry-level university office job working under William Conner, a charismatic professor of animal behavior who ignites Cassie’s desire for learning—and other things. As Cassie’s lust for knowledge swells and she becomes more involved with Conner, the list of her deceptions lengthens, and it’s only a matter of time until budding beau Conner finds out. Kaufman and Mack lace the narrative with light humor (the rats in California’s Topanga Canyon are like roaches in NY or liars in LA) and nods to Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, Plato and Keats. Delightfully merging humor, philosophy and reflections on nature, this novel is a lot of fun and might give some readers freshman-year flashbacks.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

A Version of the Truth is the second novel by this writing couple. Their first book was Literacy and Longing in L.A. that spent 15 weeks on the L.A. Times Best Seller List. Both authors have a slew of credits to their names. Karen Mack has produced award winning TV shows & films, and Jennifer Kaufman has been a writer, bureau chief & reporter. At one point in her career she worked for the Baltimore News American & The Prince George’s County Sentinel in Bethesda Maryland. To read more about these ladies careers, go to

The Lace Reader: a Novel by Brunonia Barry

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

This morning I am going to be yet another person blogging about this extaordinary book. For a while this was something of an underground success, catching on by word of mouth and hand-selling by booksellers. Actually, Brunonia Barry first published The Lace Reader herself just in the Salem area where she lives. Now, having been published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, it has been lionized in the mainstream media.

I read this book in almost one sitting. The Lace Reader is extraordinarily original: Ms. Barry actually invented a method of fortune-telling by reading pillow lace. First heard of in this book, it is a method that has apparently been adopted already by modern-day witches in Salem, Massachusetts. The story just draws you in. The atmosphere of Salem where the book is set is unforgettable – I’m sure tourism to the area will increase after people have read this book.
The Lace Reader is the story of a youngish woman, Towner Whitney who returns to Salem where we assume she grew up. She spent at least part of the time living with her grandfather’s second wife, named Eva. Much of the details are hazy – we learn that Towner has had to reconstruct many of her memories after a spell in a mental hospital. Towner had left Salem for California after the death of her twin sister Lyndley. We don’t know why, but she says it was the only way she could feel safe. She has only returned because Eva has disappeared. She returns and lets herself into the empty, rambling, and crumbling former sea-captain’s house that belongs to Eva and to her family. The descriptions of the house are so evocative, I felt I was walking through the rooms with Towner. The house and the town and the sea around the rocky shore are as much part of the story as the characters and I loved it!
When Eva’s body is found in the water, for some reason that is not exactly clear in the beginning, Towner is convinced the death has something to do with Cal, a bogus evangeligal preacher and his cult members. We slowly learn more details of Cal’s connection with Towner’s family, including her aunt and her reclusive mother, May, who live on a rocky island in Salem harbor, which is inhabited by wild dogs and accessible only by small boat. There are great descriptions of children’s games and boating there in the summers. Towner is helped in finding out what happened to Eva by Rafferty, a policeman recently arrived in Salem looking for the simple life.
Nothing, however, is simple in this story! Getting to know Rafferty and trying to solve the mystery of Eva’s death provokes Towner into recalling more and more of her past. Among the many layers of the story we learn that the women in Towner’s family can all see into the future by reading patterns in pieces of lace. One of the beauties of the book is the lace-making lore that the reader learns. Towner also has the psychic gift but refuses to acknowledge it. Eventually the patterns in the lace will play an important part in Towner’s search for answers.
It is hard for Towner and the reader to sort reality from dreams, but clearly at some time in the past she suffered severe emotional trauma. Just what that trauma was, and just what the mystery is in her family, you will have to read the book to find out. There are lots of hints along the way. Have fun seeing if your conclusions are right!

Awards round-up August

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Hugo Awards – according to Library Journal, 8/12/2008, the Hugo Awards were presented August 9 as part of the Denvention 3 World Science Fiction Convention in Denver. Awards were presented in 15 categories encompassing fiction, nonfiction, novels, short stories, art, and more. The winners are:
Best Novel: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
Best Novella: “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis
Best Novelette: “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang
Best Short Story: “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear
Best Related Book: Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Stardust, written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess ,directed by Matthew Vaughn
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who “Blink,” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Hettie Macdonald
Best Editor, Long Form: David G. Hartwell
Best Editor, Short Form: Gordon Van Gelder
Best Professional Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Best Semiprozine: Locus
Best Fanzine: File 770
Best Fan Writer: John Scalzi
Best Fan Artist: Brad Foster
Mary Robinette Kowal additionally took the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, sponsored by Dell Magazines and administered on its behalf by the World Science Fiction Society.

The Romance Writers of America® The 2008 RITA®’s went to the following:
Contemporary Series Romance: Snowbound by Janice Kay Johnson
Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure: Treasure by Helen Brenna
Young Adult Romance: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Historical Romance: Lessons of Desire by Madeline Hunter
Regency Historical Romance: The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn
Inspirational Romance: A Touch of Grace by Linda Goodnight
Romance Novella: “Born in My Heart” by Jennifer Greene in Like Mother, Like Daughter
Paranormal Romance: Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Romantic Suspense: Ice Blue by Anne Stuart
Best First Book: Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey
Contemporary Single Title Romance: Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins

NAIBA’s Books of the Year – The winners in the adult categories of the NAIBA Book of the Year Awards, sponsored by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association are:
* Fiction: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
* Nonfiction: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
* Special Interest: Bronx Noir edited by S.J. Rozan

One Marylan One Book – Update August 18

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Press release from The Maryland Humanities Council:

One Maryland One Book

Join Us!

The Maryland Center for the Book at the Maryland Humanities Council is sponsoring the state’s first community reading program, One Maryland One Book. Pick up a copy of this year’s selected book, A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League by Ron Suskind, read along with the rest of Maryland, and then join us to hear Ron Suskind or the subject of the book, Cedric Jennings, at one of the following events.
An Evening with Cedric JenningsTuesday, August 19 at 7:00 p.m.Montgomery College Rockville CampusTheatre Arts Building51 Mannakee St., Rockville240-777-0030
A Visit with Cedric JenningsFriday, September 19 at 11:00 a.m.Hagerstown Community CollegeKepler Theatre11400 Robinwood Dr., Hagerstown301-739-3250 ext 186
Ron Suskind at the Baltimore Book FestivalSaturday, September 27 at NoonLiterary Salon at Mount Vernon Place600 Block of N. Charles St., Baltimore410-685-0095
An Evening with Cedric JenningsMonday, October 20 at 7:00 p.m.Snow Hill High School305 S. Church St., Snow Hill410-632-2600
An Evening with Ron SuskindWednesday, October 22 at 7:00 p.m.North Point High School2500 Davis Rd., Waldorf301-934-9442
All programs are free and seating is available on a first-come, first-served

These events coordinated in partnership with the public libraries of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, St. Mary’s, Washington, and Worcester Counties, and the Southern Maryland Regional Library Association.

Harford County Public Library Book Group News

Friday, August 15th, 2008

The Harford County Public Library in-house book discussion groups have been having some extra fun lately. The following is a round-up of news from the June 2008 library branch reports.

“The Fallston daytime discussion group, “Fallston Critics Without Credentials,” took their yearly bus trip on June 4th. Faced with a day predicted for rain, they set out properly prepared for a downpour; they had a wonderful rain-free day at Winterthur Mansion and Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware and the fact that the bus driver got lost didn’t deter the 32 attendees one bit. The skies let loose on the drive home and by the time they pulled into the Fallston library parking lot at 5:00 pm, it had just about stopped. All in all, it was voted as one of the best bus trips ever. Now, of course, they have to do even better next year!”

Fallston also has a group that meets in the evening: the Friends Evening Group. On June 2 a group of 10 people discussed In an Instant by Lee and Bob Woodruff.

Books By Night, a group that meets in the Havre de Grace branch met in June at the Bayou Restaurant. According to their group moderator, “Nine people attended to discuss Jane Eyre over a brilliant repast.”

In the Jarretsville branch, said their facilitator, the Novel Ideas book discussion group, “loved our June selection of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. The lifelong relationship of the two women in the novel and the many details of Chinese culture were of the greatest interest.”

According to the Bel Air branch, attendance at their book groups is in the high teens and twenties. These successful groups are Betsy’s Books @ the Center (meets at the Senior Center) Amy and Nancy’s Mysterious Minds and Bob’s Fiction. Recently Mysterious Minds members toured Tudor Hall, the boyhood home of John Wilkes Booth, and discussed not only the “mystery” of a conspiracy, but also assassinations in general.

National Book Festival slated for September 27 on National Mall

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Press Release From the Library of Congress
July 14, 2008 (REVISED August 13, 2008)

Library of Congress Organizes Eighth Annual National Book Festival Hosted by Mrs. Laura Bush on the National Mall; Famed Authors To Participate
The Librarian of Congress and Mrs. Laura Bush Invite Book Lovers of All Ages to Celebrate Reading on the National Mall on Sept. 27
The 2008 National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by Mrs. Laura Bush, will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, rain or shine, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., between 3rd and 7th streets. The festival is free and open to the public. Click here for more information about the Festival and the authors participating.
Among some 70 authors and illustrators participating this year are Tiki Barber, Marc Brown, Warren Brown, Kimberly Dozier, Arthur Frommer and Pauline Frommer, Philippa Gregory, Steven Kellogg, Brad Meltzer, Salman Rushdie, Bob Schieffer, Daniel Schorr, Alexander McCall Smith, Paul Theroux and Dionne Warwick. Jon Scieszka, a children’s book author recently named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Librarian of Congress, will be among the authors presenting in the Teens & Children’s Pavilion.
“I invite you, your friends and your family to join us on Sept. 27 as we all celebrate our shared love of reading,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “Come and be a part of this wonderful national experience.”
“There are activities for all ages at the National Book Festival,” said Mrs. Bush. “Readers can explore genres from history and mystery to romance and cookbooks. Children can meet their favorite storybook characters. And visitors can learn about the extensive resources offered by the Library of Congress.”
The festival authors, illustrators and poets will discuss their work in pavilions dedicated to Children, Teens & Children, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Home & Family and Poetry. PBS characters and NBA/WNBA players will appear at the festival including NBA Legend and Hall of Famer Bob Lanier. Each year, players participate in the festival by reading their favorite children’s books aloud with the help of students from local area schools as part of “NBA Cares.”
The Pavilion of the States, sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will highlight reading, literacy and library promotion activities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several American trusts and territories.
The Library of Congress Pavilion will feature a variety of family-centered activities illustrating the depth and breadth of the Library’s extraordinary collections available online. It will also offer a sampling of interactive activities available through the recently launched Library of Congress Experience.
Presentations by young poets and artists will be a new feature in the Teens & Children Pavilion. Each of the K-12 students presenting will be a winner in the River of Words environmental poetry and art contest sponsored by the Library’s Center for the Book.
A presentation by four of the more than 100 authors and illustrators who contributed to the volume “Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out,” sponsored by the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, will be featured in the Teens & Children Pavilion. Those writers are Mary Brigid Barrett, Steven Kellogg, Katherine Paterson and Jon Scieszka. (The book, with an introduction written by David McCullough, is published by Candlewick Press, 2008.)
Downloadable podcasts of interviews with popular participating authors will be placed on the Library’s Web site.
The artist for this year’s festival is beloved children’s author and illustrator Jan Brett, whose poster of animals and birds on the National Mall will be available at the festival. Brett, who has written and/or illustrated more than 30 books and has more than 33 million books in print, will be among the authors and illustrators speaking in the Children’s Pavilion.

Street Lit – Who’s Loving You by Mary B. Morrison

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

This follow-up to Sweeter Than Honey is going to be huge. It had a featured review in Library Journal’s LJXpress of August 12, 2008 which said, “Morrison’s legion fans, as well as Zane readers, won’t be disappointed.”

This is what it says about the book in our catalog: “Starting a new life in Atlanta Georgia former prostitute and madam Honey Thomas falls in love with Grant Hill but when he discovers her past he wants nothing to do with her, forcing her to revert to her old tricks to prove her love.” Find the book in our catalog
Also in the catalog you can read chapter excerpts and a review from Publisher’s Weekly. Fair warning: LJXpress said, “Note that the steamy, erotic scenes may offend those with more conservative tastes.”

The Forger’s Spell: a true story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the greatest art hoax of the twentieth century by Edward Dolnick

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

As the jacket notes say, this truly intriguing book I picked up and finished in no time at all is, “as riveting as a World War II thriller.” Find this book in our catalog

“… The Forger’s Spell is the true story of Johannes Vermeer and the small-time Dutch painter, Han van Meegeren, who dared to impersonate Vermeer centuries later. The con man’s mark was Hermann Goering, one of the most reviled leaders of Nazi Germany and a fanatic collector of art.”
Regarded as a mediocre painter in his own right, van Meegeren managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the art establishment and pass off several paintings of his own as those of famous Dutch masters, including Vermeer. At his trial there were eleven paintings in evidence, all of which had received international acclaim and each of which he had sold for what would today be millions of dollars.

The book will appeal first of all to lovers of true crime and to fans of stories of lost art treasures and of World War II. Edward Dolnick goes into great detail describing the process by which van Meegeren first of all created his forgeries, researching processes to make his paintings appear old. He also delves into the psychology of the forger, and even interviews other successful forgers. Then he describes the conspiracies van Meegeren fabricated to snare his wealthy marks, including Goering and Hitler. Van Meegeren succeeded in his deceptions not by producing outstanding works of art. His true genius, as the book notes say, “lay in psychological manipulation.”

Part of van Meegeren’s success was due to the climate of the times. Nazi occupiers all over Europe were pillaging both public and private art collections. The author devotes three parts of his book to the situation in occupied Netherlands, including the persecution and pillaging of Jews, to the over-the-top acquisitiveness of Goering and Hitler, and to the search for lost art treasures after the war.

Van Meegeren was very successful in manipulating the rivalry between Hitler and Goering. He was equally successful in manipulating the establishment of the art world, museum curators and art critics. He said at his trial for fraud that he, “wanted to strike at the art world for always belittling me.” He had wanted to expose the experts for being as fake as the fake paintings they bought, and so at his trial he did not seem sorry to be caught. The author argues that anyone would have been taken in given the times and the way van Meegeren perpetuated his fraud. He does not seem to blame the experts, but I am not at all sure I agree. Perhaps van Meegeren had a point?

One Maryland/One Book – Update August 13

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Read, Share, Grow.
One Maryland One Book 2008

Imagine if all five million Marylanders read the same book at the same time.

Pick up a free copy or check out a library copy of this year’s selected book, A Hope in the Unseen (Find this book in our catalog), on display at your local Harford County Public Library branch or at Harford Community College and join a community discussion at one of the following locations:

Monday, October 6, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Discussion followed by light refreshments and door prizes
Harford Community College
Chesapeake Center
401 Thomas Run Road
Bel Air, Maryland 21015
For further information and to register, call 410-836-4176
Mention course #45599

Saturday, October 18, 2:00 pm
Harford County Public Library
Jarrettsville Branch
3722 Norrisville Road
Jarrettsville, Maryland 21084
For further information and to register, call 410-692-7887