Archive for June, 2011

Impac Dublin Literary Award Winner

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

  Colum McCann won the International Impac Dublin Literary Award for his novel Let the Great World Spin (Find in our catalog).  The Impac judging panel praised McCann’s work as “a genuinely 21st century novel that speaks to its time but is not enslaved by it.  In the opening pages of Let The Great World Spin, the people of New York city stand breathless and overwhelmed as a great artist dazzles them in a realm that seemed impossible until that moment; Colum McCann does the same thing in this novel, leaving the reader just as stunned as the New Yorkers, just as moved and just as grateful.”

From our catalog, an excerpt from review in Publishers Weekly: “McCann’s sweeping new novel hinges on Philippe Petit’s illicit 1974 high-wire walk between the twin towers. It is the aftermath, in which Petit appears in the courtroom of Judge Solomon Soderberg, that sets events into motion. Solomon, anxious to get to Petit, quickly dispenses with a petty larceny involving mother/daughter hookers Tillie and Jazzlyn Henderson. Jazzlyn is let go, but is killed on the way home in a traffic accident. Also killed is John Corrigan, a priest who was giving her a ride. The other driver, an artist named Blaine, drives away, and the next day his wife, Lara, feeling guilty, tries to check on the victims, leading her to meet John’s brother, with whom she’ll form an enduring bond. Meanwhile, Solomon’s wife, Claire, meets with a group of mothers who have lost sons in Vietnam. One of them, Gloria, lives in the same building where John lived, which is how Claire, taking Gloria home, witnesses a small salvation.”

Breathing New Life Into the Southern Vampire Mysteries?

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

  Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (Find in our catalog)

Well, really!  Why review this one?  Hasn’t everyone read one of the Southern Vampire mysteries or, at least, seen an episode of TrueBlood??? 

I’ll start off by saying I LOVE this series!  It really doesn’t matter how quirky it gets.  Why?  Because, I will never (hopefully) have to experience the crazy life Sookie leads.  This series falls in the realm of escape fiction for me.  I love the romance, the spontaneity, the humor, but, in particular, the sass and attitude of Sookie.

This last book, however, wasn’t a stellar contribution to the series.  Like the last one, the writing seems to be getting formulaic.  Most of the lines fell flat along with character development.  The fae characters are just getting boring.  Even the re-introduction of some of the were characters felt like “too little too late”.  Alcide used to be someone I hoped Sookie would fall for.  Now, it was just icky.   Remember the 4th book when Eric loses his memory.  Now that was hot.  This one just wasn’t. 

I wonder if this has to do with the HBO series, which just released the 3rd season on DVD.  I am also finding it harder not to see the book characters as the actors from the show.  Darn it to all.  This is why I should never watch a show/movie from a book.  It just ruins the whole thing for me!

Two thoughts jumped out at me, though, as I was reading it …

1st – Did anyone catch the reference to Lily Bard Leeds???  If you haven’t already read Charlaine Harris’ other series about Lily Bard, you are truly missing out.  Lily has a tragic past that she is trying her best to just put behind her.  She moves to Shakespeare, Arkansas and assumes a low profile as a cleaning lady.  We meet her in the first book, Shakespeare’s Landlord (Find in our catalog). Living in a small town can make you a suspect fast if you are new.  When Lily sees someone use her trash trolley to dispose of a body, she needs to find the killer before her world is turned upside down.  Supernatural?  Not a bit!  But, it is a great story.  I loved reading about Lily and her world, even if the trauma leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  I am anxious to see if Lily makes any more appearances in future Southern Vampire books.  It will be a fabulous meld of works.

2nd – What if you have read all of the Sookie books?  What will you read now?

Recently published (Feb 2011) was the latest installment of the Hollows series by Kim Harrison.  In Pale Demon (Find in our catalog), our witchy heroine Rachel Morgan takes a cross-country trip to save her life.  After being accused of practicing demon magic, Rachel must stand before the council of witch and try to convince them of her innocence.  Making this trip interesting are vampire, pixy, and egotistical elf.  The interplay of the characters is great.

Posted by Kristina

(The new series of True Blood starts this Sunday on HBO - Ed)

Consider joining a library book group!

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

This is just a sampling of the book discussions that have been going on in the library recently:

According to the May branch report, the Darlington branch book discussion group held their annual lunch in May at a local restaurant.  Particpants each brought a book to discuss and considered some titles as possibilities for future discussion by the group.

In Jarrettsvile, the “Novel Ideas” group met and discussed The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.  “The group enjoyed the book and the plot twists within it.”  Said the group coordinator: “Our members also seem to vary in how they enjoy our books each month – we have several traditionalists that prefer print books only, several that use Nooks and Kindles, and a few that listen to talking books.”

Joppa’s Evening Book Discussion was very successful in May.  Nine people discussed Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.

There are many ways Harford County Public Library customers can participate in book discussions.  Check with your local branch library to see if there is a discusion group that meets near you.

Editor

Audie Awards

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

  The Audio Publishers Association’s 16th annual Audie Awards were held in Manhattan, May 23.  A big winner was Keith Richards’ autobiography Life (Find in our catalog), narrated by Johnny Depp, which snagged both the Audiobook of the Year and the Biography/Memoir category.

Awards were presented in 30 categories. Click here for a full list of winners.

It’s a mystery – The Tess Monaghan series by Laura Lippman translates well to audiobook format.

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I must be on a mystery kick recently, at least in audiobooks. I think that mysteries in general make good audiobooks. I do most of my book listening either in the car, or while engaged in other activities, such as knitting or housework. Mysteries are usually compelling enough to keep my interest. I particularly like those that are fast-paced and don’t contain a lot of detail that isn’t pertinent to the story.

The Tess Monaghan series by Laura Lippman meets my mystery book requirements nicely.  Tess is a downsized newspaper reporter who spends her spare time rowing on the Patapsco river in Baltimore and working part-time in her aunt’s bookstore to make ends meet. She ends up as a private investigator almost by accident when a rowing friend asks her to follow his fiancé and report on her activities. He offers to pay her an amount she can’t refuse, so she takes the job. The fiancé ends up murdered and the friend accused. Tess is drawn into the investigation.

Tess is a likable heroine, surrounded by many interesting secondary characters. The series is set in Baltimore, and as an almost-hometown-girl, I really enjoyed the authentic details and settings.  I have enjoyed getting to “know” Tess over the series of books as she grows and changes. I have not yet listened to her latest, “The Girl in the Green Raincoat,” and I look forward to meeting up with Tess again.

The books, in chronological order:

Baltimore Blues
Charm City
Butcher’s Hill
In Big Trouble
Sugar House
In a Strange City
The Last Place
By A Spider’s Thread
No Good Deeds
Another Thing to Fall
The Girl in the Green Raincoat

Posted by Tracy

The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass

Friday, June 17th, 2011

  (Find this book in our catalog) The Abingdon Library Book Group read this engaging novel for their June meeting.  Widower Percy Darling has lived alone for many years.  He likes his routines and solitude, but when he is prevailed upon to rent his old barn to a local preschool, his life begins to change.  He meets Sarah, a younger woman with a son at the school, Ira, a teacher at the preschool, and Celestino, a neighbor’s immigrant gardener.  Percy is drawn in to their lives and finds himself also involved in the complex relationships of his grown daughters, their spouses and children.  He is particularly fond of his grandson, Robert.  Robert’s university roommate Turo, is part of a group of extreme eco-activists who are targeting wealthy homes in the area.  Turo’s actions will have greater repercussions than he can envisage as all comes to a head on a warm spring evening at  the preschool fundraiser. Glass treats her characters with sympathy and affection.  They are believable yet individual people who we see affected by life’s events and choices.

Julia Glass is the author of The Three Junes winner of the 2002 National Book Award for Fiction.  Her other books are The Whole World Over, and I See You Everywhere.  She lives in Massachusetts with her family.

http://www.randomhouse.com/author/10192/julia-glass

http://www.readinggroupguides.com/guides_W/the_widowers_tale1.asp

Jen’s Jewels with Melissa de la Cruz

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

The topic of witches conjures up images of cauldrons filled with magical brews and broomsticks flying in the sky. The most famous one that comes to mind is Glinda the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz. Many young girls have found themselves role-playing this character on Halloween due to her undeniable beauty and charm. The possibility that someone can possess magical powers has fascinated people for centuries.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Melissa de la Cruz shares this very idea of fascination with witchcraft in her latest release WITCHES OF EAST END. It’s the story of the Beauchamp family who possess magical powers in modern day times. Known as the author of the widely popular Blue Bloods series, this new series is Melissa’s first for adults. With just the right amount of intrigue and magical charm, this novel is the perfect read to kick off the summer.

As part of this interview, Hyperion 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 as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your summertime fun.

Jen: A New York Times bestselling author, your career has included many facets of the publishing business. So that my readers may have a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please share with us your educational and professional background prior to becoming published.

Melissa: I graduated with a degree in English and Art History from Columbia University. I was a beauty editor at Allure, a fashion editor at Hintmag.com and a freelance magazine writer and contributed to many publications including Marie Claire, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Teen Vogue and The New York Times.

Jen: Please describe for us the “Aha!” moment when you made the decision to pursue a writing career.

Melissa: I’ve wanted to become a writer since I can remember; probably when I was about eight years old I decided this is what I want to do. My ‘aha’ moment came when I was eleven and I found out the author of Sweet Valley High was a girl in her twenties. Before then I thought authors were either ninety years old or dead. When I found out she was only about ten years older than me, I thought ‘hey, maybe I could do that.’

Jen: Besides writing for many outstanding publications, such as The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Marie Claire, your current claim to fame has been your award-winning novels for Young Adults. For those readers unfamiliar with your work, please give us a brief overview of your writing career.

Melissa: I published my first novel, CAT’S MEOW, in 2001, and then I co-wrote two non-fiction books with a friend, HOW TO BECOME FAMOUS IN TWO WEEKS OR LESS, and THE FASHIONISTA FILES. My first YA novel, THE AU PAIRS, was published in 2004. Blue Bloods, about a group of young New York teens who discover they are vampires, was published in 2006, and it’s the series that took off and ‘broke out’ as they say in publishing.

Jen: Having established yourself as a mainstay in the teen market, what was the driving force behind your entering the adult market?

Melissa: I was on book tour a few years ago and I noticed that many of the people in the audience were adults-the “Twilight mom” fanbase, and that my readers were growing up – they were in their 20s, in college, or out of school and working. I thought, hey, maybe I can do something for that age group-it would be fun to write a paranormal story that wasn’t set in high school.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, please share with us your writing process. Do you outline first and plot? Or, do you just allow the story to take on a life of its own?

Melissa: Both. You can’t plan everything. Writing is part planning and part discovery. I plot and I outline, but then as I write the story, it has to gel, and make sense, sometimes it does and I feel so lucky, sometimes it doesn’t and I have to go back to the drawing board.
Jen: And besides the obvious subject matter, how does writing for an adult market differ from writing for teens?

Melissa: I think the main difference is in an adult novel you can linger a little more on the environment and the setting a little more, whereas in a YA novel you’ve got to keep things moving so that your readers don’t get bored. I think adults are maybe more tolerant, although with the popularity of YA for adults, it looks like everyone likes a fast-paced story. But there’s really not that much difference, it’s still storytelling, and to say that it’s different-that’s just a marketing issue.

Jen: Later this month, your debut adult novel WITCHES OF EAST END hits stores. How did you arrive at the premise?

Melissa: I had an idea to write about a family of women, I wanted to write about sisters, about having a complicated relationship with your mother, and once I realized it was very girl-centric, of course I thought, oh, they’re witches! I did some research on Gardiner Island, which is the oldest independently owned property in America – it was gifted to the family from the English crown. Pretty cool, right? The family hasn’t been able to maintain it (it’s four hundred years old) so that started the wheels spinning…

Jen: Your three main characters in this delightful, summer read are witches, a mother Joanna Beauchamp and her two daughters Freya and Ingrid. Each one has her own set of magic tricks, if you will, which have been banned from being used by the Council. Why then does Freya choose to test fate and start practicing witchcraft again?

Melissa: I think she just gets a bit bored and frustrated. You have this awesome power, and you can’t do anything with it? I was very much thinking of how restricted the lives of women used to be – they couldn’t vote, they weren’t supposed to work, etc. And not being able to use your magic is like being a frustrated 50s housewife.

Jen: Ingrid is a somewhat shy girl choosing to hideaway behind a desk as a librarian. Why does she lack the self-confidence which is so evident in her little sister?

Melissa: It’s a personality issue, Ingrid is much more reserved and not able to put herself “out there” and the restriction made her more timid, whereas it made Freya wilder. They reacted to it differently.

Jen: Being the matriarch of the family, Joann is in charge of keeping the girls in line; however, she seems to be a bit of a free-spirit herself. In what way is she a good role model for her girls?

Melissa: I think she is. Joanna is not your traditional mom, and neither was my mother. My mom wasn’t a typical stay at home mom. She was a vice-president at Bank of America, and did a lot of mothering by phone, by nannies, and by setting an example of being a strong, independent woman. I based a lot of Joanna on her, I think, in that Joanna is a bit flummoxed by her daughters, but loves them dearly. My mom had clear goals for us, and we adored her, she can’t bake a cookie to save her life, but she showed us a different path. Most of my friends’ moms stayed at home. They seemed so boring compared to my mom, who wore designer clothes, threw great parties, and wore high heels to work, where she was the boss.

Jen: The wealthy Bran Gardiner has swooped Freya right off of her feet. What makes him so irresistible to her?

Melissa: The main thing that draws Freya to Bran is that he’s kind, he’s a very gentle person, and I think kindness is the best quality in men (and women). It’s very attractive to be with someone who cares for you.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Do you participate in Author Phone Chats? And if so, how would my readers go about scheduling one?

Melissa: Right now my schedule does not allow me to do that, so sorry. I would love to in the future but with my deadlines and my four year old daughter demanding my time, it’s very difficult.

Jen: Please take us on a tour of your website highlighting points of interest.
Melissa: I keep a blog, which I update on promotional and sometimes personal whimsy.

Jen: In terms of social media, are you on FaceBook? Twitter? Do you blog regularly on any sites?
Melissa: I am on Facebook at facebook.com/authormelissadelacruz and on twitter twitter.com/melissadelacruz. I seem to use twitter a lot more than facebook. My assistant updates my Facebook page. But I do my Twitter updates myself, I like it, it’s very easy to use.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what can you share with us?
Melissa: Yes, working on many next novels. In addition to the sequel to WITCHES OF EAST END, (sequel comes out next summer). I have LOST IN TIME, the sixth Blue Bloods novel coming out in September. Then I have the Blue Bloods spinoff WOLF PACT, which I’m co-writing with my husband that comes out September 2012. Then the seventh and final novel in the Blue Bloods series comes out January 2013. And my husband and I just sold a new fantasy series, The Other Land Chronicles, to Penguin, and that comes out spring of 2013. And Hyperion bought new books in a second cycle of Blue Bloods novels, not sure when that is scheduled yet, but the Blue Bloods world does continue, which I’m very happy about.

Jen: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat with my readers. I hope you have a relaxing summer!
Melissa: Thanks for having me!! So glad you liked WITCHES OF EAST END!!
I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Melissa. Please stop by your favorite bookstore or local library branch and pick up a copy of WITCHES OF EAST END today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead?
Okay, be one of the first five readers to e-mail me at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win!
What is the name of the Melissa’s first published novel?Next month, I will be bringing to you interviews with New York Times bestselling authors William Dietrich and Meg Cabot! You won’t want to miss them.

Happy Summer!
Jen

Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? A Rock n’ Roll Memoir by Steven Tyler

Monday, June 13th, 2011

  Find this book in our catalog  His music was on the radio while I was growing up and today my nephew, 18, listens to Aerosmith.   That statement does show a lot of “staying power”  I though he did a good job acting on Two and A Half Men, even taking jokes aimed at his age, and he seemed like he really was trying to find the best American Idol – so I thought I would give his memoir a read.  However before I picked it up, I questioned, did he really remember everything during the debauchery, money and the rehab?   I was delightfully surprised.

Steven Tyler, whether he remembered it correctly or not, tells a good story about his life.  He really has done a lot.  From Guitar Hero to SuperBowl half time show to Academy Award nominations, Areosmith was and is an iconic band that is in a large part because of Steve Tyler.  This book is a nice all-access backstage pass on his life.

Posted by Jennifer F.

Stories I only tell my friends: an autobiography by Rob Lowe

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Find this book in our catalog  This well-written fun biography is a must read for all Lowe fans and anyone interested in Hollywood. Lowe details his career and drops a few names along the way – sometimes you will guess the person he is describing before he reveals the name. The book begins in a surprising way and throughout we learn that Lowe is not just another pretty face. Really enjoyable and highly recommended.

Posted by Shelley

Nebula Awards

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

  The winner of the Novel category of the 2011 Nebula Awards, sponsored by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, is:

Connie Willis for Blackout (Find in our catalog)

Summary in our catalog: “In her first novel since 2002, Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds-great and small-of ordinary people who shape history. In the hands of this acclaimed storyteller, the past and future collide-and the result is at once intriguing, elusive, and frightening. Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place. Scores of time-traveling historians are being sent into the past, to destinations including the American Civil War and the attack on the World Trade Center. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser, Mr. Dunworthy, into letting her go to VE Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. And seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who has a major crush on Polly, is determined to go to the Crusades so that he can “catch up” to her in age. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments for no apparent reason and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history-to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past. From the people sheltering in the tube stations of London to the retired sailors who set off across the Channel to rescue the stranded British Army from Dunkirk, from shopgirls to ambulance drivers, from spies to hospital nurses to Shakespearean actors, Blackout reveals a side of World War II seldom seen before: a dangerous, desperate world in which there are no civilians and in which everybody-from the Queen down to the lowliest barmaid-is determined to do their bit to help a beleaguered nation survive.”