Archive for December, 2010

The Ark by Boyd Morrison

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Adventure and thrills combine in this fast-paced exciting novel. Although the reader must occasionally suspend disbelief,  the overall story is gripping and maintains its intensity to the end.

Archaeologist Dilara Kenner teams up with engineer Tyler Locke and ex-wrestler Grant Westfield, both former military, to discover what has happened to her father who disappeared while searching for Noah’s Ark. Their search leads them to Sebastian Ulric, mega-wealthy and head of the Church of the Holy Waters. Bad guy, religious extremist wants to destroy & recreate the world for himself & his followers alone. No-one will be allowed to stand in his way.

If you like the action of a James Bond movie or a Clive Cussler book you will enjoy this roller coaster ride.

Look for Morrison’s next thriller, The Adamas Blueprint (Dec 2011) & read about the author’s own exciting life at

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

This is a book that takes some reading, not because it is difficult or obtuse, but rather because it is packed with so much information. It is a treasure of home and house related history. Mainly it is centered on Mr. Bryson’s Norfolk (England) home, a former Victorian rectory. From here he ventures into the realms of architecture, science, food, medicine and more. There is much here for anyone interested in English history in particular, but Bryson also comes across the pond to examine the homes of presidents, wealthy citizens and others in America. He even looks at the bedbug crisis in New York hotels.

Well worth the read.

Mr. Bryson is the author of many other non-fiction books, including In a Sunburned Country, his hilarious account of his travels in Australia, and A Walk in the Woods, about walking the Appalachian Trail. See his titles at 


Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

The Abingdon book group read Winter Garden for our December meeting. It is an unusual story within a story of two sisters, Meredith & Nina, & their mother. The two sisters are very different, but both have relationship issues. When their father dies they begin to try & get to know their mother better. She has always been cold & distant & they know little of her childhood or years in wartime Russia. They begin to discover her past as she tells them fairy stories of a prince & a girl that turn into stories of real life during the Siege of Leningrad. This is grim but fascinating reading & was the best part of the book. Meredith especially, is a very irritating character & the ending feels trite & contrived. The reader will question the mother’s behavior towards her daughters even when her background is revealed, & the father’s apparent inability to step in & help them is puzzling. However, this is an interesting story overall & certainly raised many topics of discussion, from what lengths people will go to to survive, to how families manage their relationships.

To see a list of Kristin Hannah’s books go to her website below

Book discussion questions may be found on her website below

Kristin Hannah grew up in California, studied & practiced law, then turned to writing. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest & is a wife & mother as well as an award winning bestselling author.

Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Mystery Writers of America  chose Sara Paretsky for this year’s Grand Master Award, which honors a writer who represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality.

These are some of the mysteries by Sara Paretsky to be checked out of Harford County Public Library:

  Body Work (Find in our catalog)

Notes: “The audacious new V. I. Warshawski novel from the New York Times-bestselling author. The enigmatic performer known as the Body Artist takes the stage at Chicago’s Club Gouge and allows her audience to use her naked body as a canvas for their impromptu illustrations. V. I. Warshawski watches as people step forward, some meek, some bold, to make their mark. The evening takes a strange turn when one woman’s sketch triggers a violent outburst from a man at a nearby table. Quickly subdued, the man-an Iraqi war vet-leaves the club. Days later, the woman is shot outside the club. She dies in V.I.’s arms, and the police move quickly to arrest the angry vet. A shooting in Chicago is nothing new, certainly not to V.I., who is hired by the vet’s family to clear his name. As V.I. seeks answers, her investigation will take her from the North Side of Chicago to the far reaches of the Gulf War.”

  Hardball (Find in our catalog)

Notes: “Chicago politics–past, present, and future–take center stage in “New York Times”-bestselling author Paretsky’s brilliant new V.I. Warshawski novel.”

  Bleeding Kansas (Find in our catalog)

Notes: “Set in the Kaw River Valley where Paretsky grew up, Bleeding Kansasis the story of the Schapens and the Grelliers, two farm families whose histories have been entwined since the 1850s, when their ancestors settled the valley as antislavery emigrants. Today, the Schapen family, terrified by the lawlessness of the 1970s-when Lawrence was the most violent college town in the nation-has turned to that old- time religion for security. The Schapens keep a close eye on all their neighbors, most especially the Grelliers. They maintain careful track of everyone’s misdeeds, printing the most egregious on their family website. When Gina Haring, a Wiccan, moves into an empty farmhouse and starts practicing pagan rites, the family members are so outraged that they begin an active harassment campaign against the Wiccans. The Schapens worry, too, about who stands better with the Lord: their family or the Grelliers. When a Schapen cow gives birth to what may be a “Perfect Red Heifer”-needed if the temple is ever rebuilt in Jerusalem-the Schapens feel convinced that God is indeed smiling on them. Despite parental cautions, the Grelliers’ teenagers are enraged by the Schapens. All their short lives, they and the young Schapens have fought. One particularly angry confrontation causes Chip Grellier to be expelled from school and consequentlyto join the army. Chip’s death in Iraq is the catalyzing event for momentous changes in the lives of not only both the Schapens and the Grelliers but of all the families in the valley. The powerful, climactic scene at Gina Haring’s Samhain bonfire will forever haunt the reader.”

  Fire Sale (Find in our catalog)

Notes: “The astonishing new V. I. Warshawski novel from one of America’s foremost writers of crime fiction. V.I. Warshawski may have left her old South Chicago neighborhood, but she learns that she cannot escape it. When V.I. takes over coaching duties of the girls’ basketball team at her former high school, she faces an ill-equipped, ragtag group of gangbangers, fundamentalists, and teenage moms who inevitably draw the detective into their family woes. Through young Josie Dorrado, V.I. meets the girl’s mother, who voices her worries about sabotage in the little flag manufacturing plant where she works. The biggest employer on the South Side, discount-store behemoth By-Smart, pays even less, and Ms. Dorrado doesn’t know how she’ll support her four children if the flag plant shuts down. The elder Dorrado’s fears are realized when the plant explodes; V.I. is injured and the owner is killed. As V.I. begins to investigate, she finds herself onfronting the Bysen family, who own the By-Smart company. Founder William “Buffalo Bill” Bysen, now in his eighties, has four sons who quarrel with each other and with him; the oldest, “Young Mr. William,” is close to sixty and furious that his father doesn’t cede more power to him. And then there’s “Billy the Kid,” Young Mr. William’s nineteen-year-old son, whose Christian idealism puts him on a collision course with his father, his grandfather, and the company as a whole. When Billy runs away with Josie Dorrado, V.I. is squeezed between the needs of two very different families. As she tries to find the errant teenagers, and to track down a particularly cruel murderer, her own life is almost forfeit in the swamps that lie under the city of Chicago.”

  Ghost Country (Find in our catalog)

Notes: “Sara Paretsky’s genius made Chicago private eye V.I. Warshawski a household name.  Now the New York Times bestselling author explores an unseen corner of the city she loves.  In Ghost Country she has written a parable for the millennium, a powerful, haunting novel of magic and miracles, of four troubled people who meet beneath Chicago’s shadowy streets–and of the woman whose mysterious appearance changes all of their lives forever. They come from different worlds and meet at a time of crisis for all of them.  Luisa, a drunken diva fallen on hard times, discovers on Chicago’s streets a drama greater than any she has experienced onstage.  Madeleine, a homeless woman, sees the Virgin Mary’s blood seeping through a concrete wall beneath a luxury hotel.  Mara, a rebellious adolescent cast out by her wealthy grandfather, becomes the catalyst for a war between the haves and have-nots as she searches among society’s castoffs for the mother she never knew.   As the three women fight for their right to live and worship beneath the hotel, they find an ally in Hector Tammuz, an idealistic young psychiatrist risking his career to treat the homeless regardless of the cost.  Tensions in the city are escalating when a mysterious woman appears during a violent storm.  Erotic to some, repellent to others, she never speaks; the street people call her Starr.  And as she slowly transforms their lives, miracles begin to happen in a city completely unprepared for the outcome.  In this extraordinary novel, Sara Paretsky gives voice to the dispossessed, to men and women struggling to bury the ghosts of the past, fighting for their lives in a world hungry for miracles, terrified of change.  A magical, unforgettable story of myth and madness, hope and revelation, Ghost Country is Sara Paretsky’s most eloquent and ambitious work yet.”

Playaway Day at Whiteford Branch

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010


Contact:       Janine Lis, 410-273-5601 ext. 2256

Marketing Manager
Harford County Public Library

December 27, 2010 

Harford County Public Library’s “PLAYAWAY DAY” Will Have Customers Listening to the Latest Chapter in Audiobook Convenience 

(Belcamp, Maryland) – Harford County Public Library will be hosting a “Playaway Day” on Tuesday, January 4 to demonstrate the Playaway, the audiobook and player all in one. The event will be held at the Whiteford branch from 4 – 8 pm and will feature Playaway tutorials and customer giveaways. 

Playaway gives customers the portability of a digital audiobook with the grab-and-go convenience of a physical format – creating the only format that makes audiobooks accessible for everyone, regardless of age or ability. The format has proved popular among kids who can pair a Playaway with the print edition of a book to improve literacy, busy moms and business travelers who enjoy catching up with the latest bestsellers while on-the-go, and seniors, including the visually impaired, who don’t have to worry about transferring content to a player or learning a new piece of technology. 

Each ultra-portable Playaway weighs only two ounces and comes pre-loaded in HD audio with an entire audiobook. Equipped with a universal jack, Playaway can be listened to through earbuds, headphones, and mobile accessories, such as car adapters. 

“Playaway’s simple functionality and immediate usability separate it from other audio book formats,” said Jennifer Ralston, Materials Management Administrator at Harford County Public Library.  “With Playaway, our customers can enjoy best-selling content with first-rate digital audio.” 

The library carries almost 1500 titles on Playaway, including many selections for children, language learning programs, bestselling adult fiction, and classics.  And because Playaway’s format is friendly for listeners of all ages, every user can enjoy the new format.  Harford County Public Library’s collection includes Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carre, Brisingr by Christopher Paolini, Don’t Blink by James Patterson and The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan. 

For more information about the upcoming Playaway Day at the Whiteford branch, please contact the branch at 410 368 3608 or visit

Deadline Man by Jon Talton

Monday, December 27th, 2010

  Deadline Man by Jon Talton (Find this book in our catalog)

Jon Talton is a journalist.  Currently he lives in Seattle where he is an economics columnist for the Seattle Times.  Talton brings all his experience as an author of eight previous novels, and as a seasoned editor and columnist, to Deadline Man and to turning out a cracking good mystery set in the arcane world of a major Seattle newspaper.

Mystery readers who love vivid and unusual backgrounds will revel in all the details of producing a daily newspaper and of writing a major column.  The narrator of this story is so consumed by his job at the Seattle Free Press that we know him only as “the columnist.”  He seems only truly alive when he is writing for a deadline.

He writes as well-known business column and the book opens with him interviewing a famous hedge fund manager, Troy Hardesty in his penthouse office.  Hardesty’s is one of the few who have not lost money in the recent crash and the columnist wants to find out why.  Off the cuff he also asks about  a local company Olympic International.  There have been rumblings about a takeover, no one else has been covering it, and the columnist smells a scoop.  Hardesty appears jumpy and asks apparently apropos of  nothing what the columnist knows about “eleven-eleven.”

With a bit more information about Olympic International and the determination to follow the story, the colunmist leaves Hardesty’s skyscaper building.  As he leaves the front entrance he witnesses the death of Hardesty, who had apparently jumped from his top floor balcony.  Minutes before he had seemed nervous, but not suicidal.

More bizarre and more than disturbing things begin to happen:  a prostitute on the street curses him out and yells out, “Eleven-eleven.”  The columnist contacts Amber, the crime reporter to find out if she knows about the police investigation of Hardesty’s death and together they happen on a murder scene.  The victim has ‘eleven-eleven” tattooed on his ankle.  Two fake federal agents pick him up and question him about what he knows about Hardesty, threaten him then let him go.  He still feels he is being followed, people he loves are getting killed and he  begins to understand it is because he is investigating Olympic International.  What are the connections between the company, Hardesty’s death, a missing girl and eleven-eleven?

To make matters worse, if that were possible, the newspaper owners suddenly announce that they are selling or closing the Free Press.  His editor will no longer support his story nor the sanctity of a reporter’s sources.  So the columnist goes on the run until he can find out what’s going on, file his story on Olympic International, and meet the final deadline.   Along with vivid descriptions of the seamier side of Seattle, truly horrific occurrences, and exciting action scenes, this book delves into the ethics of journalism and the dilemmas faced by the editors and owners of newspapers today.  This book has a lot of depth and complexity of plot for a fast-paced and exciting mystery!


Library Journal’s Best Audiobooks of 2010 – Fiction

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Library Journal has just come out with its picks for best audiobooks of 2010.  They were all nominated by LJ’s distinguished roster of audio reviewers.  This is just a sample of the fiction books on CD on the list now owned in Harford County Public Library.  We also have most titles as Playaways and as downloable E-books.

  The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, read by Orlagh Cassisy (Find in our catalog)

Notes: “In 1940, on the eve of the United States’ entrance into World War II, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: she doesn’t deliver a letter. In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket. She vows to deliver the letter when she returns from Germany and France where she is to report on war refugees desperately trying to escape. The residents of Franklin think the war can’t touch them; but as Frankie’s radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen”–Publisher’s description.

  Crossfire by Dick and Felix Francis, read by Martin Jarvis (Find in our catalog)

Notes: “Shell-shocked and missing a foot, lost to an IED during his tour of duty in Afghanistan, Captain Tom Forsyth uses his finely honed military skills to find the person blackmailing his estranged mother–the first lady of British racing.”

The Case of the Man who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall, read by Sam Dator (Find in our catalog)

Notes:  This engaging mystery novel with fascinating characters and a rich presentation of modern Indian life features PI Vish “Chubby” Puri.

  Blockade Billy by Stephen King, read by Craig Wasson (Find in our catalog)

Notes:  King’s highly entertaining baseball novella is infused with colorful details of the game.

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta, read by Robert Petkoff (Find in our catalog)

Notes:  This is a captivating work of supernatural horror.

Pearl of China by Anchee Min, read by Angela Lin (Find in our catalog)

Notes:  This is biographical fiction based on the life of Pearl Buck

True Grit

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The Movie True Grit based on the book by Charles Portis (Find this book in our catalog), opens this Wednesday, December 22.  Jeff Bridges stars in this Coen Brothers remake of the story about a U.S. marshal hired to track down a murderer.  The film is based more on the 1968 novel than the 1969 movie classic starring John Wayne.

Summary from our catalog: “Charles Portis has long been acclaimed as one of America’s foremost writers. True Grit, his most famous novel, was first published in 1968, and became the basis for the movie starring John Wayne and now the film by the Coen brothers starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father’s blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory. True Grit is eccentric, cool, straight, and unflinching, like Mattie herself. From a writer of true status, this is an American classic through and through.”

Unholy awakening by Michael Gregorio

Friday, December 17th, 2010

  Unholy Awakening by Michael Gregorio (Find this book in our catalog)

This murder mystery set in Prussia during the Napoleonic Wars is a must-read both for fans of historical mysteries and for followers of gothic mystery thrillers.  Prussia was a kingdom that stretched across the whole of the northen part of what later became Germany from east of Berlin westward to the Baltic.  The details of Prussia at the time of its ocupation by Napoleonic forces have been meticulously researched for this book and will please historical mystery readers.  Most of all, however, readers will thrill to the gothic atmosphere of dread and terror, and the sense of incomprehensible horrors lurking just out of sight.

The tone is set as the book opens with Hanno Stephanis, a local magistrate, having a terrifying experience with a pack of wild dogs.  These dogs have become yet one more scourge to the small town which is suffering under the yoke of the French military occupation.  In their misery the people of the town and surrounding district are only too ready to descend into superstition, especially as the community is only recently recovered from a devastating plague which took many of their loved-ones, including Hanno’s young son.  When a body is found at the bottom of a well with significant twin puncture wounds in its neck, Hanno must investigate the cause before the community descends into more superstition, hysteria and riot, which will bring down the wrath of the French troops.

In true gothic tradition, Unholy Awakening is filled with an atmospere of nameless terror.  Hanno Stephanis feels a moral impetus to interfere in areas in which he really has no jurisdiction or  knowledge in order to shed the light of reason and to right a wrong.  The constant dread that things are not what they seem and the suspicion that unthinkable evil lurks below the surface keep the reader reading.  We feel with Hanno the conflict he feels between his reason and his intuition.

Readers of Unholy Awakening may be reminded of Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian for, of course, the suspicion Hanno has but resists with all his reason is that vampires are at work.  Finding  the pierced corpse certainly awakes a dormant belief in vampires in the superstitious and stressed Prussians.  As in The Historian, Hanno takes a long hazardous journey through the country to find out the truth.  As in The Historian, the truth about vampires lies somewhere between their actual existence and pure superstition.

Along the road to enlightenment Hanno uncovers several convoluted political subplots.  In true gothic tradition he is an outsider and out of his depth.  There is much he observes but misinterprets.  Hanno experiences an unhealthyand elicit  attraction to the chief suspect in the murder, a woman who acts in the most bizarre ways.  Unresolved sexual tension gets in the way of clarity of thought, and in the end it is Hanno’s friend, an investigator with the French who provides the details that help Hanno solve the mystery.  Hanno is able to vanquish superstition, but the truth turns out to be filled with evil and a horror all its own.

Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Authors Robin D.G. Kelley and Percival Everett were the nonfiction and fiction winners at the 9th annual Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards this year.  The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are presented annually to authors of African descent for the best works in fiction, nonfiction and poetry in the previous year.

  The nonfiction award was presented to Robin D.G. Kelley for Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (Find in our catalog)
  The fiction prize was presented to Percival Everett for his novel I am Not Sidney Poitier (Find in our catalog)
Notes: “An irresistible comic novel from master storyteller Everett, who pens an irreverent take on race, class, and identity in America.”