Archive for January, 2010

Book to Movie – Creation

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The Movie, Creation opened in theaters on January 22. Creation, directed by Jon Amiel and starring Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, and Jeremy Northam, is based on Randal Keynes’s Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution. Keynes is the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin. His book is available through our HCPL catalog.

If you are interested in reading more about Charles Darwin, his times, his scientific beliefs and his personal struggles, you might also like these:

Charles and Emma : the Darwins’ leap of faith by Deborah Heiligman
“Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, his revolutionary tract on evolution and the fundamental ideas involved, in 1859. 150 years later, the theory of evolution continues to create tension between the scientific and religious communities. This same debate raged within Darwin himself, and played an important part in his marriage: his wife, Emma, was very religious, and her faith challenged Charles as he worked on his theory of evolution. Deborah Heiligman’s new biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind evolutionary theory: how his personal life affected his work and vice versa.” (catalog notes)

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin : an intimate portrait of Charles Darwin and the making of his theory of evolution by David Quammen
“He did not found a movement or a religion says Montana-based writer of fiction and natural history Quammen, he never assembled a creed of scientific axioms and ascribed his name to them. He was in fact a reclusive biologist who wrote books on some minor and some major topics, made mistakes, and changed his mind. He admits that most of Darwin’s writings relate to the unity of all life as reflected in the processes of evolution, but he had nothing to do with Darwinism and its scientific and religious controversies.” (catalog notes)

The Darwin Conspiracy by John Darnton
“In this riveting new novel, best-selling author John Darnton transports us to Victorian England and around the world to reveal the secrets of a legendary nineteenth-century figure. Darnton elegantly blends the power of fact and the insights of fiction to explore the many mysteries attached to the life and work of Charles Darwin.” (catalog notes)

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
A work of fiction about another scientist seeking to advance her ideas about extinction and the age of the earth before Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Childs Recognised as Top Adrenaline Thriller

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child (Find this book in our catalog)
Gone Tomorrow has topped the Adrenaline section of the RUSA 2010 Reading List. The Reading List annually recognizes the best books in eight genres. The Adrenaline genre includes suspense, thriller, and adventure.

In Gone Tomorrow “Lone wolf Jack Reacher takes on terrorism and Homeland Security as he stumbles onto the tail end of an Al Qaeda sting. Crossing politics, police departments, and an alphabet soup of federal agencies, Reacher cleans house. The non-stop tension, atmosphere of menace, and Reacher’s matter-of-fact narration create an immediate and believable thriller.” (Reading List Council)

Books Like Gone Tomorrow: (Click on a title to go to our catalog and reserve your copy)
The John Rain series by Barry Eisler
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
Below Zero by C. J. Box

Adrenaline Short List:
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner
Shatter by Michael Robotham
The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer

Books Like “The Conscious Cook” – Responsible Eating

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The Washington, DC, non-profit health organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recently released a report on the five healthiest cookbooks of the decade. About PRCM…

The five best books chosen by this organization of “Doctors and laypersons working together for compassionate and effective medical practice, research, and health promotion,” speak to a very specific agenda. The list, however comes at a very opportune moment when so many people are concerned with both healthy and responsible eating. Readers will have had their smouldering interest in this topic fueled by a recent best selling cookbook, The Conscious Cook, which is listed as #3 on the PCRM “best” books list.

Harford County Public Library has all the books on the list for you to check out. Here they are:

The kind diet : a simple guide to feeling great, losing weight, and saving the planet by Alicia Silverstone (Find this book in our catalog) Vegan cookery.

Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!) by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (Find this book in our catalog) Also vegan cookery.

The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen (Find this book in our catalog) This is currently getting an awful lot of press and media coverage – you may well have seen this vegan cookery book reviewed on your favorite morning news show. It covers the very current topic of responsible eating.

The Engine 2 diet : the Texas firefighter’s 28-day save-your-life plan that lowers cholesterol and burns away the pounds by Rip Esselstyn (Find this book in our catalog) Features a mostly vegetable diet that also includes whole grains legumes and small portions of meat.

Cooking the whole foods way : your complete, everyday guide to healthy, delicious eating with 500 vegan recipes, menus, techniques, meal planning, buying tips, wit, and wisdom by Christina Pirello (Find this book in our catalog).

Mystery Awards from Independent Booksellers

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Members of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association have chosen the nominees for the 2009 Dilys Winn Award, given to the mystery titles that member booksellers of the Association most enjoyed selling during the year.

Click on the title of a nominee below to find it in the HCPL catalog:

* The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson

* The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

* The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

* The Shanghai Moon by S.J. Rozan

The award is named for Dilys Winn, founder of the first mystery bookstore in the U.S., and will be presented at Left Coast Crime in March.

Still Life by Joy Fielding

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

The Abingdon book group read this novel for the January discussion. In general the book was liked and thought to be an easy read. It tells the story of Casey Marshall, who is the victim of a hit and run accident. She finds herself in hospital in a coma. She cannot move or see, or in any way communicate but she can hear. Over a period of time, as her husband, sister, friends, and doctors & nurses talk in her room, she discovers that all is not as it seems. Her “accident” may have been an attempted murder. Fielding reveals the murderer part way through the book, perhaps too early for some readers, who may lose interest once they know who did it. For those who stick with the story, the tension increases as Casey’s life hangs in the balance and she must find a way to let those who love her know what is happening.

Read about this book and others by this author on her website at:

or on the Random House website at:

In Memoriam – Robert B. Parker

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

According to Publishers Weekly, Prolific novelist Robert B. Parker died on Tuesday, January 19 of a sudden heart attack. He was 77. Parker, who wrote over 60 books, died at his home in Cambridge, Mass. Parker’s next novel, Split Image (Find this book in our catalog) is coming out on February 23, and Penguin currently has no plans to change its initial publication plans for the novel. Another novel, a western called Blue Eyed Devil, is slated for this spring and, according to Parker’s editor, Christine Pepe, the house has “a couple” of other books by him in production now.

Robert B. Parker was perhaps best known for his series featuring his rule-bending detective, Spenser. Split Image, his forthcoming book, will be the ninth novel about Paradise, Mass., police chief Jesse Stone. It focuses on Stone’s deepening connection with PI Sunny Randall (also the star of her own series). Both Jesse and Sunny are still recovering from failed relationships. According to the PW review (which you may read in full in our catalog), Parker “does a nice job of integrating their separate therapy sessions (in Sunny’s case, with Susan Silverman, the significant other of Parker’s best-known detective, Spenser) with two criminal investigations. The parents of 18-year-old Cheryl DeMarco ask Sunny for help in getting Cheryl out of a religious cult, while Stone probes the gunshot murder of Petrov Ognowski, a mob soldier whose boss, Reggie Galen, is the next-door neighbor of another gangster.” Family ties prove deadly in this mystery novel, which has the added attraction of tying together three of Parkers most popular characters.

Another Jesse Stone novel: Night and Day
Another Sunny Randall novel: Spare Change
A recent Spenser novel: The Professional

Edgar Award Nominees

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Mystery readers! Fill up your Winter Reading log quickly by checking out and reading some of these recent and highly recommended titles.

The Mystery Writers of America has chosen its nominees for the 2010 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, TV and film published or produced in 2009. View the full list here. The awards will be presented to the winners at MWA’s 64th gala banquet, April 29 in New York City.

Here are the nominations for novels available in Harford County Public Library. Click on the title to reserve your copy:
The Missing by Tim Gautreaux
The Odds by Kathleen George
The Last Child by John Hart
Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn
The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

Book to Movie – The Lovely Bones

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

The Lovely Bones, the movie opened in wide release Friday, January 15. Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Michael Imperioli.

It is based on the novel, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Find this book in our catalog)

This is what it says about the book in our catalog: “Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. THE LOVELY BONES is such a book — a #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its artistry, for its luminous clarity of emotion, and for its astonishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world. “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.”

Check our catalog also for what major book reviewers had to say.

Jen’s Jewels with Gretchen Rubin

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Happiness is an ambiguous term. How can we truly define what this word means without taking into account all of the various components in our lives? For example, if we are healthy, debt-free, and generally like our jobs, does this mean we have achieved supreme happiness? I don’t know. I would think so, but then again, maybe we are missing the essential core that leads to sheer contentment.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Gretchen Rubin takes this question to task in her latest release called, but of course…THE HAPPINESS PROJECT. Over a year’s time, she implemented her unique plan to track her own level of happiness by using innovative strategies and simple gauges to determine if she was living what Oprah would call “her best life.” Without a doubt, if you are looking for ways to enrich your life, this book is for you!

As part of this interview, Harper Collins Publishers has donated five copies for you, my lucky readers, to win. So, don’t forget to look for the trivia question at the end. As you continue on your journey towards health and happiness in 2010, I thank you for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your reading adventure.

Jen: The path to publication is oftentimes as fascinating as the project itself. So that my readers may have a better understanding of the woman behind the words, please tell us a little bit about your educational and professional background.

Gretchen: I went to Yale undergrad and then attended Yale Law School, but it was when I was clerking for Sandra Day O’Connor that I realized I wanted to be a writer.

Jen: Being editor–in–chief of the Yale Law Journal whet your appetite for a possible career in publishing. While serving in this position, what was the most challenging task that came across your desk? And, what steps did you take in order to be successful?

Gretchen: The biggest challenge in working for the Yale Law Journal was managing a large group of very independent people, and in order to be successful I worked as hard as I could!

Jen: In 1995 as a recent law school graduate, you had the amazing opportunity to clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Please describe for us the selection process. And, what was the toughest hurdle you had to clear in order to obtain this position?

Gretchen: The selection process was extensive. You submit transcripts and recommendations, and if you make it through the first cut, you get an interview. The interview was the hardest part — the toughest hurdle to clear — for that position.

Jen: After leaving that position, you served as chief adviser to the Federal Communications Commission. Also, you lectured at both the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Management. How did these experiences positively contribute to your decision to actively pursue a career in publishing?

Gretchen: They showed me that as much fun as I was having in these other jobs in law, I really wanted to be a writer.

Jen: Tacking onto my last question, describe for us your “Ah! Ha!” moment which ultimately changed your life.

Gretchen: Walking around the Capitol grounds during lunch hour while I was clerking, I suddenly realized that I wanted to be a writer. At that time, I was writing a book in my free time, and I realized I could make writing a career instead of treating it as a hobby. The book I was working at that time eventually was published as my book, Power Fame Money Sex: A User’s Guide.

Jen: In terms of your publishing career, you have written bestselling books on Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy. What were the most fascinating tidbits of information you discovered while researching these two great historical figures?

Gretchen: I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just a few items! I picked these two figures because they’re overwhelmingly fascinating and surprising. There are hundreds of fascinating tidbits!

Jen: Your latest endeavor is quite appropriate for this time of year of resolutions and new beginnings. Please describe for us the catalyst that propelled you to embark on THE HAPPINESS PROJECT.

Gretchen: I had an epiphany on a rainy afternoon, on a crowded city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” I realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.“ In that moment, I decided to dedicate a year to my happiness project.

Jen: You start off the project by listing your twelve commandments. How did you go about choosing them? And, what relevance do they have to the implementation of the project?

Gretchen: I arrived at them after a lot of research and thinking. They were the guiding principles that pervaded my happiness project beyond the individual resolutions that I tried to follow.

Jen: The project took place over a year. Please describe it for us.

Gretchen: Quite simply, I set a theme for each month, with a set of specific resolutions to carry out.

Jen: I had to chuckle when I read about your frustration with keeping a gratitude journal. My experience mirrored yours. I gave up, too! What are some realistic expectations that one can achieve by pursuing this endeavor?

Gretchen: Boosting gratitude for your ordinary life will make you happier. If a gratitude journal doesn’t work for you, find other ways. Every time I sit down at the computer, I take a moment to appreciate my ordinary life.

Jen: As a reviewer, I was impressed with your willingness to confront criticism when you received a not–so–flattering review and then turned it into a teachable moment to make yourself better. How is a person’s willingness to confront adversity a stepping stone towards reaching happiness?

Gretchen: You’re right. It’s not much fun but it’s important to do. Facing up to the challenges that life offers is an important part of striving toward happiness.

Jen: What was your greatest self-discovery from completing this project?

Gretchen: One of my most important realizations was that I can only build a happy life on the foundation of my own nature. For that reason, my resolution to “Be Gretchen” is the most important one I identified.

Jen: Let’s switch gears and talk about your superb website. Please share with us the resources you have available that enable anyone to start a happiness project.

Gretchen: My website has a guide of sorts to start your own happiness project:

I’ve also started a “Happiness Project Toolbox” where you can launch your own Happiness Project:

Jen: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat with my readers. I look forward to seeing you on the
road to happiness in 2010.

Gretchen: Thanks!

Now that you have read about Gretchen, I hope you are inspired to begin your own happiness project for 2010. I encourage you to stop by your favorite bookstore or local library branch and pick up a copy of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT today!

Better yet, how would you like to win your very own copy? Okay, be one of the first five readers to e-mail me at with the correct answer to the following trivia question and it’s yours!

What is the title of Gretchen’s first book?

In February, I will be bringing to you my interview with David Dosa, M.D., author of the extraordinary true-life story MAKING ROUNDS WITH OSCAR. You won’t want to miss it.

Until next time…Jen

British Police Procedurals

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Find Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill in our catalog.

The other day I had a request for other traditional British police procedurals like the series by Reginald Hill about Yorkshire detectives Dalziel and Pascoe. You may have seen the adaptions of some of these books on TV.

Though this series is a fairly classic police procedural, it can in no way be considered cozy. Hill’s series is set in the industrialized north, which is in economic decay, and life is hard. In solving crimes, the police partners play off each other. Dalziel is the inspector, a local, grass-rooots policeman who has been hardened by his background and what he has seen – and by what he has had to do to advance in the force. Some even consider him corrupt: his philosophy is do what it takes. Pascoe is his sergeant, younger, university educated and idealistic. He is the pair’s moral compass and brings science to Dalziel’s intuition and local knowledge.

Other books with burnt out policemen who bend the rules:

The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin (Try also other Inspector Rebus novels set in Edinburgh)
A Little White Death by John Lawton (Scotland Yard detective Frederick Troy – try also others in the series which chart Troy’s rise to be Scotland Yard’s chief of the murder squad)
Skeleton Hill by Peter Lovesey (Part of a series featuring policeman Peter Diamond, set in Bath, England)

You might also like these other British procedurals available in HCPL:
The Man With No Face by Peter Turnbull (Glasgow)
The Rottweiler by Ruth Rendell (London)
Gone Tomorrow: a Bill Slider Mystery by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
The Private Patient by P.D. James (Adam Dalgleish, Scotland Yard)

Non-British procedurals:
Still Life by Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec)
The Friend of Madame Maigret by Georges Simenon
This Night’s Foul Work by Fred Vargas
The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon
The Pyramid : and four other Kurt Wallander mysteries by Henning Mankell