Archive for January, 2011

National Jewish Book Awards

Monday, January 31st, 2011

The 2010 National Jewish Book Awards were recently announced by the Jewish Book Council.

  Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award:  When They Come For Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry (Find this book in our catalog)  by Gal Beckerman

Summary:  “At the end of World War II, nearly three million Jews were trapped inside the Soviet Union. They lived a paradox – unwanted by a repressive Stalinist state, yet forbidden to leave. When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone is the astonishing and inspiring story of their rescue.  Journalist Gal Beckerman draws on newly released Soviet government documents as well as hundreds of oral interviews with refuseniks, activists, Zionist “hooligans,” and Congressional staffers.  He shows not only how the movement led to a mass exodus in 1989, but also how it shaped the American Jewish community, giving it a renewed sense of spiritual purpose and teaching it to flex its political muscle.  He also makes a convincing case that the movement put human rights at the center of American foreign policy for the very first time, helping to end the Cold War.  In cinematic detail, the book introduces us to all the major players, from the flamboyant Meir Kahane, head of the paramilitary Jewish Defense League, to Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky, who labored in a Siberian prison camp for over a decade, to Lynn Singer, the small, fiery Long Island housewife who went from organizing local rallies to strong-arming Soviet diplomats. This multi-generational saga, filled with suspense and packed with revelations, provides an essential missing piece of Cold War and Jewish history.”

Bliss, Remembered by Frank Deford

Friday, January 28th, 2011

  Although Frank Deford may well be more famous for his sports writing, he also has written fiction.  His latest novel, Bliss Remembered (Find this book in our catalog) is a memorable addition to his portfolio. The elderly Sydney Stringfellow is dying of cancer, so while still in reasonable health, she decides to tell her life story to her son, Teddy. Born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Sydney is a talented swimmer who  is invited to take part in the Berlin Olympics of 1936. While in Germany, she falls in love with a young German called Horst. After she returns home, the war separates them & she eventually meets a kind & gentle American with whom she can find love again.  Containing some surprises, this  is a luminous story about love & heartbreak & of the choices that must be made when the world is in chaos.  The backdrop of 1930′s Berlin with the shadow of Hitler & his cohorts juxtaposed with the euphoria of the Games adds interest & depth.

Frank Deford also has written: Everybody’s All American, An American Summer, Love & Infamy, & a memoir about his daughter, Alex: The Life of A Child.

An American Summer is the wonderful story of a 14 year old boy who befriends Kathryn, a young polio victim who survives in an iron lung. Set in the 50s it reflects the culture of those times. Deford approaches his characters with humor & insight & highlights the tragedy of a now preventable disease. Highly recommended.

For more information on Frank Deford, access

* Posted by Julia.  Julia has been contributing posts to this blog for quite some time.  Now she is starting her own category, called “Book Talk by Julia.”  Book Talk will contain Julia’s views on diverse books she has read, sometimes with her book group.  Follow Julia if you are looking for popular but discussion-worthy books for your book group. Editor.

True Lit by Linda Z. – Genius on the Edge

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

  Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted by Gerald Imber, M.D. (Find this book in our catalog)  My mother had a mastectomy. My grandmother had a goiter removed. And I have many friends who have had hernia operations, appendectomies, surgeries for gall stones, and colon cancer. However, had my friends and family lived just one hundred years ago, none of these surgeries would have been possible. These critically important surgical techniques that we depend upon today are attributable, directly or indirectly, to Dr. William Steward Halsted. When Halsted enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1874, surgeries were performed without anesthesia in a matter of minutes. Surgeons worked in their street clothes, barehanded, with instruments that may not have been cleaned between patients. Only the poorer patients were operated on in the hospital; if you were well off, your surgery was performed at home on your kitchen table. And anyone who had surgery had a great chance of dying from infection. However, new ideas were coming in from Europe: Lister’s theories of aseptic technique, new methods of medical training and experimentation, and the possibility of drugs that could reduce or eliminate pain. As was often the case, though, these breakthrough concepts were slow to gain acceptance in the United States. Gerald Imber’s book Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted vividly describes the time and place of modern medicine’s creation. The title is somewhat misleading, though, because the book is not just about Halsted. Rather, it addresses a perfect storm of medical talent created by Johns Hopkins’ endowment of a medical school and hospital in Baltimore. We learn that four men singlehandedly created the hospitals and medical schools that we rely on today: Halsted, the father of modern surgery; William Welch, the father of modern pathology; William Osler, in charge of Medicine and a new method of teaching medical residents; and Howard Kelly, who revolutionized gynecology. If you were sick at the beginning of the 20th century, we are told, “there was Hopkins, and there was everyplace else” (p. 228). As the book reveals, however, new ideas sometimes come with a cost–these men experimented not only on dogs, but on themselves and each other, in some cases with dire consequences. Halsted’s experiments with cocaine and other anesthetics engendered a lifelong cocaine habit that dogged his entire life and career. To my disappointment, Imber sheds little light on addiction’s true effects on Halsted, and I found myself wanting to know more about this man than the book reveals. On the plus side, Genius on the Edge effectively provides understandable descriptions of the development of surgical techniques without being too graphic, while containing enough about the historical context to still be fascinating to those with a medical background. Recommended for readers who like historical settings, details of medicine and science or local Baltimore connections. Pace: medium. Posted by Linda Z.

Linda Z. is a Harford County Public Library librarian.  With this post she begins a regular “column” of reviews of nonfiction titles that are interesting, intriguing, current and informative.  Linda calls her column “True Lit.”  You can go directly to it by clicking on True Lit in the Categories section on the lower right of the page.

Novelist, Your Source for Series Information

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Harford County Public Library has recently renewed its subscription to Novelist Plus, an online book recommending tool.  Our librarians love it as a wonderful tool when giving readers advice at the librarian desk.  We think you will love it too, when you have checked out some of its helpful features!  Look in our A-Z Databases and click on Novelist Plus.

We have found that fiction readers  love their series.  We frequently hear questions such as , “I read a book a while back and heard it’s part of a series, but I don’t know which one. Do you?” “I just finished reading an awesome series. I heard the author has a few more like it and I’d like to check one out, but I can’t remember her name.” 

Most questions can be answered from the Novelist Plus Series Detail page.

  1. If you know the series title, access its Series Detail page by entering the title in the Search For… box and clicking Search.
  2. From the Result List, click the “Series” tab, where you’ll find a list of matching series titles.
  3. Clicking on any series title link will direct you to its Detail page. Here, you’ll find Author and Appeal information, along with a brief description of the series at the very top.
  4. Scroll down to the active “Books in the Series” tab for a list of series titles in reading order.
  5. Print this list by clicking the Print This View link within this section.

Similar series recommendations can be found from the Series Detail page. At the top right, you’ll find the “NoveList Also Recommends” section with up to nine recommendations for the series in question. You can print this list by clicking the Print All link. Or, if you have already decided to read one of the suggested series, click on the title to access that Series page.

But what if you want to read another series by the author of the last one they read, but you’ve forgotten just about everything except a few fuzzy details? Just like you do with titles, you can find the series you’re looking for by entering a description in the Search For… box. For example, if you once read a series about a divorced, alcoholic cop from LA who moved to a small town in New England to work as the new police chief, and you want to read another series by the same author. No problem!

  1. Enter alcoholic police divorced small town and click Search.
  2. From your Result List, click the “Series” tab to see a link to the Jesse Stone mysteries.
  3. Maybe the series title still doesn’t ring a bell for you, but you recognize the book jacket for Night Passage, so click on the link to Robert B. Parker’s Author Detail page.
  4. Scroll down and select the “Series by this Author” tab for a list of Parker’s series, which you can print by clicking the Print This View link.
  5. If you have time, be sure to to find Series Detail pages so you can access the titles in reading order once you decide which series to read next.

Editor’s Book Club Suggestions – Secrets

Monday, January 24th, 2011

  Secrets of Eden: a Novel by Chris Bohjalian (Find this book in our catalog)

Summary:  “From the bestselling author of The Double Bind, Midwives, and Skeletons at the Feast comes a novel of shattered faith, intimate secrets, and the delicate nature of sacrifice. “There,” says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, just after her baptism, and just before going home to the husband who will kill her that evening and then shoot himself. Drew, tortured by the cryptic finality of that short utterance, feels his faith in God slipping away and is saved from despair only by a meeting with Heather Laurent, the author of wildly successful, inspirational books about . . . angels. Heather survived a childhood that culminated in her own parents’ murder-suicide, so she identifies deeply with Alice’s daughter, Katie, offering herself as a mentor to the girl and a shoulder for Stephen–who flees the pulpit to be with Heather and see if there is anything to be salvaged from the spiritual wreckage around him. But then the State’s Attorney begins to suspect that Alice’s husband may not have killed himself. . .and finds out that Alice had secrets only her minister knew. Secrets of Eden is both a haunting literary thriller and a deeply evocative testament to the inner complexities that mark all of our lives. Once again Chris Bohjalian has given us a riveting page-turner in which nothing is precisely what it seems. As one character remarks, “Believe no one. Trust no one. Assume all of our stories are suspect.”

  Dark Places: a Novel by Gillian Flynn (Find this book in our catalog)

Summary:  “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her. The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.”

  Fragile: a Novel by Lisa Unger (Find this book in our catalog)

Summary:  “Everybody knows everybody in The Hollows, a quaint, charming town outside of New York City. It’s a place where neighbors keep an eye on one another’s kids, where people say hello in the grocery store, and where high school cliques and antics are never quite forgotten. As a child, Maggie found living under the microscope of small-town life stifling. But as a wife and mother, she has happily returned to The Hollows’s insular embrace. As a psychologist, her knowledge of family histories provides powerful insights into her patients’ lives. So when the girlfriend of her teenage son, Rick, disappears, Maggie’s intuitive gift proves useful to the case – and also dangerous. Eerie parallels soon emerge between Charlene’s disappearance and the abduction of another local girl that shook the community years ago when Maggie was a teenager. The investigation has her husband, Jones, the lead detective on the case, acting strangely. Rick, already a brooding teenager, becomes even more withdrawn. In a town where the past is always present, nobody is above suspicion, not even a son in the eyes of his father. “I know how a moment can spiral out of control,” Jones says to a shocked Maggie as he searches Rick’s room for incriminating evidence. “How the consequences of one careless action can cost you everything.” As she tries to reassure him that Rick embodies his father in all of the important ways, Maggie realizes this might be exactly what Jones fears most. Determined to uncover the truth, Maggie pursues her own leads into Charlene’s disappearance and exposes a long-buried town secret – one that could destroy everything she holds dear. This thrilling novel about one community’s intricate yet fragile bonds will leave readers asking, How well do I know the people I love? and How far would I go to protect them?”

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Friday, January 21st, 2011


  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (Find this book in our catalog)

How well have you raised your kids?  And what does it mean to be a good parent?

“A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.  They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too.  Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it.” Says Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and of Asian descent, the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  This provocative and sometimes humorous memoir of extreme parenting, revealing the awards and the costs of raising children the Chinese way, is sure to make parents think.   How different is the Chinese way?  Well, Ms. Chua writes about a dinner party in which a guest left early in tears because she was so upset when Ms. Chua told the story of calling her daughter “garbage” in public in an attempt, that was successful, to have her daughter behave better. 

After reading this biography one realizes the rules are different in different cultures.  Ms. Chua allows no sleepovers, no computer games and nothing less than an A in a grade.  She feels Western parents are too easy on their children, rewarding them for small successes for fear of destroying the child’s self esteem.  How do you compare or decide which is the better way to raise a child?  Can both ways lead to children becoming successful, compassionate, productive adults in our society?  In a recent International Student Assessment, China ranked 1st in math, science and reading skills while the US ranked 24th….behind Latvia, from the 34 nations participating so it is something to think about.

  This highly charged book about the “Chinese way” as a better way for raising children would be a great book group book, an easy read with tons of provocative ideas and discussions to follow on cultural differences and parenting.  But least you become aghast at how insensitive and perhaps cruel Ms. Chua is at raising her daughters she throws in the heartbreaking saga of her sister’s acute lymphoma and the affect that had on everyone, especially Ms. Chua and the rebellion of one of her daughters.

Review by Jennifer F.

Books to TV Series – Game of Thrones

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

  The TV series Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire, will debut on HBO on April 17.

A Game of Thrones Find this book in our catalog is the first book of George R. R. Martin’s series published in 1996.  This is what his publisher, Random House, Inc.,  says about the book:  “Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

A Game of ThronesLong ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.”

Inspirational Fiction – Recommended by HCPL Staffer Christy

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

  Don’t Look Back: a Novel By Lynette Eason (Find this book in our catalog)

Taking control of your life can be daunting at times.  In the case of Jamie Cash who survived a  kidnapping at the age of 18, it’s a case of do or give up.  That she escapes despite being tortured, branded and almost killed is remarkable.  Now at the age of 30 she’s made a life for herself as a forensic anthropologist.  With support from her sister, who blames herself for what happened to Jamie, from her faith, and from her therapist Jamie believes she can finally begin to have a healthy relationship with a man.  While trying to solve a string of seemingly similar cases, Jamie becomes aware of little incidents that lead her to believe her attacker – nicknamed “The Hero” – is back to finish the one who got away.  Delve into Jamie’s story.  Travel the twisted  and surprising path to find out how her support system, her trust in God, and emerging love helps her overcome her fears and end the horror that has haunted her for 12 years.

  Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissener (Find this book in our catalog)

If you have ever felt like you have no control in your life, then you will identify with antique dealer Jane Lindsay.  Do you also like time travel?  Lady in Waiting serves up an inspirational women’s story but does it with a twist!  Jane’s husband of 22 years decides to leave.  For most of her life Jane has let her husband or her mother make or influence her decisions, but now she’s on her own.  Can she cope? Find out what happens next when she discovers an antique gold ring engraved with just one word – “Jane.”

Recommended by Christy

Jen’s Jewels with Jill Paton Walsh

Friday, January 14th, 2011

For some reason, the mention of anything British seems to pique our interest. Perhaps it’s due to our country’s English roots, or maybe we just feel a sense of obligation to check in every once in a while with the other side of the pond. Whether it concerns politics or pop culture, our countries remain connected. Even the upcoming royal wedding has been a hot topic in the U.S. as media sources vie for inside scoop concerning what surely will be dubbed the wedding of the century.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Jill Paton Walsh knows firsthand about the bond shared by our two countries. A Brit herself, her latest historical fiction novel THE ATTENBURY EMERALDS aims to entertain as well as delight all of her fans. Continuing the storyline of Lord Peter Wimsey begun by the famous British detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, Jill conjures up a masterful tale set in London in the 1950′s. From start to finish, it’s a fascinating read.

As part of this interview, Minotaur Books has generously donated five copies for you, my favorite readers, to try to win. So, don’t forget to look for the trivia question at the end. And, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your reading adventure.

Jen: From children’s literature to adult novels, your career has been quite extensive. So that my readers may have a better understanding of the woman behind the words, please give us a brief overview of your educational and professional background.

Jill: I was born Gillian Bliss in London on April 29th, 1937. I was educated at St. Michael’s Convent, North Finchley, and at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. From 1959 to 1962 I taught English at Enfield Girls’ Grammar School.

I won the Book World Festival Award, 1970, for Fireweed; the Whitbread Prize, 1974 (for a Children’s novel) for The Emperor’s Winding Sheet; The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award 1976 for Unleaving; The Universe Prize, 1984 for A Parcel of Patterns; and the Smarties Grand Prix, 1984, for Gaffer Samson’s Luck.

I held an Arts Council Creative Writing Fellowship in 1976-8; was a ‘permanent visiting faculty member’ of the Centre for Children’s Literature, Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts from 1978 to 1986, was Gertrude Clarke Whittall lecturer at the Library of Congress in 1978, was a Whitbread Prize judge in 1984, was Chairman of the Cambridge Book Association from 1987 to 1989, and have served on the management committee of the Society of Authors. I have contributed articles and reviews to many journals served for many years as ‘adjunct British board member’ of Children’s’ Literature New England.
More recently I have written for adults; in 1994 my novel Knowledge of Angels was short-listed for the Booker Prize. In 1996 I received the CBE for services to literature, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Ah! Ha!” moment when you knew writing would become your career.

Jill: I had always wanted to be a writer, and always assumed it was impossible. Then, when I retired from teaching to look after my first baby, I thought that just about the only thing I knew anything about was what had amused the children I had been teaching, and what had bored them.
I thought I could write a novel if in my mind’s eye I addressed it to form 2b. And that gave me my start as a writer.

Jen: Your children’s books have received numerous awards such as the Whitbread and the Smarties. In terms of the creative process, which is more challenging…writing children’s literature or adult? And, how so?

Jill: It’s much harder to write for children, and also more interesting. Don’t get me wrong –like any adult I am more interested in the subjects one can write about for adults. But when one writes for children there are more people in the room. Writing for adults is talking to a single reader, one’s equal in age and understanding. Writing for children involves the adult writer, and the child that writer once was; the present child reader, and the ultimate audience – the adult that child will become. Between those four one can with luck contrive to say something worth saying to the present and to the future world.

Jen: Having written four stories about a part-time college nurse named Imogen Quy, the mystery genre seems to be your niche. For those readers not familiar with your work, please give us a brief synopsis of the plot.

Jill: All four crime novels involve a college nurse, living and working in Cambridge. She is very old fashioned, not at all the macho, gun wielding, or gruesome forensic expert which some of my colleagues use as their detective. My Imogen is quiet and kind. She listens to people, and therefore knows quite a lot about them. I write crime fiction in very much the spirit in which people read crime fiction – largely for fun. But one can make quiet points about the real world on the way.

Jen: Your latest endeavor THE ATTENBURY EMERALDS is quite an undertaking. Before we talk about the novel, let’s first begin by explaining who Dorothy L. Sayers was and how her writing pertains to your work.

Jill: DLS is thought by many people to have been the best of the British Golden age of detective fiction, between the wars, when the genre flourished. She wanted to move the crime novel away from the formal puzzles offered by her rival Agatha Christie, and towards a more literary form, like the work of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins who had invented the mystery novel in the late nineteenth century. She still has a passionate world wide following. In 1936 she left abandoned an unfinished Lord Peter Wimsey novel, Thrones, Dominatons which her trustees invited me to finish. When that book was well received, they wanted more. THE ATTENBURY EMERALDS is the third Wimsey novel I have written for them.

Jen: While writing the book, how did you manage to put aside feelings of intense pressure having to measure up to Ms. Sayers’s reputation as a superb crime writer? Or, did you approach it merely as an extension of her work and not a comparison?

Jill: Well, I was very daunted initially. But I do have certain things in common with DLS although I never met her, and she is a different generation from me. But I have always loved and admired her work –or to be more truthful I have adored Lord Peter ever since I me him when I was about 14. I was brought up very High Church, as was she I got into Oxford at a time when scholarly women were still looked askance at, I have met some of the problems in life which confronted her also. But the point of the job was not to write a book which was what I would have written with her materials –I have plenty of ideas of my own. The point of the challenge was to write something which she might have written.

Jen: Did you feel as if your writing styles were similar? Or, was it necessary to adapt a new way of writing so to speak? And, how much research was needed in order to make the story ring true with your readers?

Jill: Of course I was trying to capture her tone, her sense of humor, her love of quotation. But the language itself was not difficult. She wrote what used to be called “The King’s English” and that is the language which I was brought up in. More formal than contemporary English, and more expressive in some ways. I loved a chance to use it.

Jen: The lead character in THE ATTENDBURY EMERALDS is a brilliant aristocrat turned detective named Lord Peter Wimsey whose career catapulted to the headlines in 1921 when he helped recover the Attenbury family’s emerald. Fast forward to 1951, he now must help the family prove ownership of this notorious gem. Why does Lord Peter choose to take on this case?

Jill: He is helping an old family friend who is in a difficulty.

Jen: Lord Peter’s wife is the prolific crime writer Harriet Vane. What makes these two such an extraordinary pair? And, who is the better sleuth and why?

Jill: They don’t compete as sleuths; they cooperate. This is a wonderful device of DLS’s, and as far as I know original to her. Most detective side-kicks are inferior to the Great Detective – Holmes has Watson, Morse has Lewis. Before he met Harriet Peter had his valet, Bunter, but with Harriet he is working with an intellectual equal. Since readers tend to identify with the side-kick character, at least until they have the mystery all worked out, being offered a bright, dignified not over-impressed person to identify with transforms the experience!

Jen: There is a definite distinction between the social classes in England during this time period which plays a vital part in the storyline. Would you say Lord Peter is viewed as an equal to the Attenbury family? Does his title enable him to gain access to more information than an ordinary man? Or, is it a hindrance?

Jill: Peter’s title has been a help, and gradually as time passed, is becoming a hindrance. Peter’s family titles go back to the middle ages and his brother is a Duke; he is superior to the Attenbury family. We don’t know how their title arose, but they behave like a newer kind of posh.

Jen: An interesting dynamic in the story is the relationship between Lord Peter and his manservant Mervyn Bunter. What was the defining moment that enabled their friendship to evolve into something much more than just Lord and manservant?

Jill: The defining moment in that relationship, which I did not write, but is genuine DLS is the moment when Peter as blown up and buried in the First World War, and Bunter dug him out. The fact that he works for Peter is a cover for a very British, uptight, man to man deep friendship, based on mutual respect. They are very interesting to write about.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about you! Please take us on tour of your website.

Jill: Well, my website is a bit primitive. That’s because I took a week off about a dozen years ago, when web sites were new –yes, there was such a time! And learned enough HTML to write it myself. It is complicated because it covers my work, in three sections –for children, adult literary novels, and detective fiction, which also includes both my own detective, Imogen Quy and work written in association with Dorothy L Sayers.

There is also a section covering the work of my husband, John Rowe Townsend. Further, at the time this web site was constructed we were running a small publishing concern, very amateur, called “Green Bay Publications” and selling a few books for friends, and a few surplus copies of our own. That adds up to a lot of stuff, which a patient person could click their way through.
The address is I really must get around to updating the site –but I prefer writing fiction!

Jen: Are your other works available in the U.S. market? If so, where can we purchase them?

Jill: Very nearly everything I have written was published in the US as well as in Britain, and in various other countries. A search on will produce my detective fiction readily available. I have even won prizes in the US for three of my children’s books, though they are now out of print. A second-hand bookshop might manage something. And of course, in such a shop if you couldn’t find anything by me, you would surely find something else you wanted to read!

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what can you share with us?

Jill: I am musing at the moment. I don’t like talking about a work in prospect, since somehow talking about it takes the kettle off the boil. But it might be a historical novel, and it might be set in Massachusetts,

Jen: Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with my readers. I wish you all the best in 2011.

Jill: Happy New Year, and happy reading to all your readers. There are wonderful things to read in the world.

I hope you have enjoyed my chat with Jill. Please stop by your favorite bookstore or local library branch and pick up a copy of THE ATTENBURY EMERALDS today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, be one of the first five readers to e-mail me at with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win!

What is the name of Lord Peter Wimsey’s wife?

Next month, I will be bringing to you my exciting interviews with Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. You won’t want to miss them!

Until next time…


Editor’s Choice – Top Business Books of 2010

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Here is my choice of some of the top business books of 2010.  Elizabeth

  Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Learn From the Worst by Robert I. Sutton (Find this book in our catalog).  We also have the audiobook

Summary:  “Inspired by the cries for help and the success stories he received in response to his previous book, The No Asshole Rule, Sutton (management science, Stanford University) describes qualities of good and bad bosses, explains how to be a good boss, and gives advice on surviving workplace jerks. Bosses will learn how their words and actions affect others, the best and worst ways to take charge and make decisions, and when to be quiet and when to speak up. The author writes in an accessible style with a sense of humor, drawing on behavioral science research as well as real-life case studies and the voices of real employees from around the world.”

  Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath (Find this book in our catalog).  We also have the audiobook and the downloadable E-book.

Summary:  “Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?  The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath…Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems-the rational mind and the emotional mind-that compete for control.  The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie.  The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort-but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.  In Switch, the Heaths show how everyday people-employees and managers, parents and nurses-have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results…In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change.  Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.”

  Thank You for Firing Me!: How to Catch the Next Wave of Success After You Lose Your Job by Kitty Martini & Candice Reed (Find this book in our catalog).

Summary:  “You’ve been let go, laid off, or downsized. While it may not seem like it today, yon are now one step closer to your dream job. Really. Kitty Martini and Candice Reed have written a fresh, smart, and at times even funny book that will give you the resources, tools, and insights to thrive even in an economic downturn.”

  Psych Yourself Rich: Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life by Farnoosh Torabi (Find this book in our catalog).

Summary:  “Develop the mindset, spirit, and discipline you need to achieve real wealth on your own terms!  Build a healthier relationship with your money, so you can have more of it, with less anxiety and suffering.  No lectures! Just three easy steps, and real help in making them happen: set your goals, make your decisions, take action… TV’s newest personal finance star shows how to develop the mindset, discipline, and spirit you need to build a strong financial foundation, so you can grow wealth on your own terms, without fear, anxiety, misery, boredom, or even advanced math!  Farnoosh Torabi (TLC’s Real Simple Real Life; SoapNet’s Bank of Mom + Dad; and’s Wall Street Confidential) combines the latest behavioral psychology with real attitude, without lectures! Torabi shows young professionals how to build a healthy view of money, investing, wealth, and aspirations; get beyond ‘lend and- spend’ to a deeper, more holistic view of money; map out a plan of action that matches their needs and goals; and put that plan into action! Torabi shows how to stop agonizing and start organizing; become your own biggest ‘money advocate’; assert yourself to stop getting ripped off by financial institutions; make your money count; build momentum; embrace an entrepreneurial spirit; get where you want to go, while others spend decades running in place.”