Archive for October, 2011

The Secret Lives of Wives

Monday, October 31st, 2011

  The CBS daytime show The Talk has launched a book segment called “The Talk Book Buzz,” focusing on new nonfiction on a variety of topics, from financial advice to parenting. Books will be announced a month in advance. The first book selection is The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married (Find in our catalog) by Iris Krasnow.

Summary in our catalog:  “In raw, candid, titillating stories, Krasnow’s cast of wise women give voice to the truth about marriage and the importance of maintaining a strong sense of self apart from the relationship. Krasnow’s goal is to give women permission to create their own marriages at any age. Marital bliss is possible, she says, if each partner is blissful apart from the other.”

Find out more about The Talk Book Buzz.


Shakespeare By Another Name: “What if I told you that Shakespeare never wrote a single word?”

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Anonymous the film that asks the question, “Was Shakespeare a Fraud?” opens today, Friday, October 28.  Read more about the film.

If you would like to read, watch or listen to more about the controversy, you might try these books and other materials in Harford County Public Library:


  Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare  by James S. Shapiro (Find in our catalog). This also is available in the library as an audiobook.

Summary: “Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro explains when and why so many people began to question whether Shakespeare wrote his plays.”

  Shakespeare By Another Name: the life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the man who was Shakespeare by  Mark Anderson (Find in our catalog)

Summary: “A triumph of literary detective work: the first popular biography of the adventurous Elizabethan earl whose life and letters indicate that he was the true author of the works of Shakespeare William Shaksper of Stratford was an actor and entrepreneur who had little education, never left England, and apparently owned no books. In the centuries since his death more and more questions have arisen about the true source of the plays and poetry conventionally attributed to him. Now journalist Mark Anderson’s page-turning and groundbreaking new biography “Shakespeare” by Another Name offers tantalizing proof that it was the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere—a courtier, spendthrift, scholar, traveler, scoundrel, patron, and prolific ghostwriter of state propaganda—who actually created this timeless body of work. Weaving together a wealth of evidence uncovered in ten years of research, Anderson brings to life a colorful figure whose biography presents countless mirror images of the works of Shakespeare. De Vere lived in Venice during his twenties—racking up debt with the city’s money- lenders ( Merchant of Venice ); his notorious jealousy of his first wife spawned both self- critical works ( Othello, The Winter’s Tale ) and self-mocking japes ( The Comedy of Errors ); an extramarital affair led to courtly disgrace ( Much Ado About Nothing ) as well as street fighting between his supporters and rivals ( Romeo and Juliet ). Anderson contends that the only way de Vere’s compromising works— including brutally honest portraits of the powerful elite at Queen Elizabeth I’s court—could ever be published was under another man’s name.”

   A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 by James S. Shapiro (Find in our catalog).  Also available through our catalog as an e-Book.

Summary: “In its simultaneous narrow and far-reaching gaze, this biography stands apart from the many recent studies of Shakespeare’s life. Shapiro (English, Columbia U.) confines his focus to a single year but, in addition to Shakespeare’s formidable achievements in that year, he considers the important political and cultural events that affected Shakespeare and his work. Shapiro reports on all Shakespeare’s activities, associations, reading and writing in 1599, while depicting the experiences of all Elizabethans as their country engaged in war, invested in the new East India Company, and speculated about the Queen’s successor. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (”


 In Search of Shakespeare DVD written and directed by Michael Wood (Find in our catalog)

This is also available as a book.

Summary: “Originally published in tandem with the BBC television series “In Search of Shakespeare” broadcast in 2003, this lavishly-illustrated book provides considerable historical context for Shakespeare’s life and works in the age marking the beginning of the modern period. Wood, a documentary filmmaker and writer on English history, speculates on several Shakespearean mysteries including the identity of the Dark Lady of his sonnets. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (”

  Will Shakespeare DVD (Find in our catalog)

Summary: “This engrossing six-part miniseries renders the sights and sounds of Elizabethan England in exquisite detail. Rich in both tragedy and deliciously cheeky humor, this series moves through Shakespeare’s untold story with dramatic flair.”


William Shakespeare His Life and Work by Anthony Holden (Find this audiobook in our catalog).

Also available from our catalog as a downloadable e-book.

Summary: “Holden’s portrayal is a racy, incident-packed account of Shakespeare as husband, father, actor, poet and Stratford lad who found subsequent immortality via the stage of Elizabethan London. There are also some controversial, but intriguing claims. Not only was Shakespeare a covert Catholic, who spent his so-called “lost years” as a budding actor in Catholic households in Lancashire under the name of “Shakeshafte,” but he also suffered from sexually transmitted diseases, a nervous breakdown, fathered an illegitimate son via his middle-aged landlady, and sailed close to the political wind with what Holden sees as his residual Catholic and republican instincts.”


What to Read After Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

(These include suggestions by Neal Wyatt in Library Journal, Oct 6, 2011.)


  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Find in our catalog)

Summary in our catalog:  “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is calledLe Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway – a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.”

See reviews in our catalog.

  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory. But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French. All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange’s heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear. Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke’s magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.”


  The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, read by Jeff Woodman (Find in our catalog)

Review in our catalog:  “Selznick’s unique, visually arresting illustrated novel is transformed into an equally unique audiobook-plus-DVD presentation here. The story of 12-year-old Hugo Cabret-orphan, clockmaker’s apprentice, petty thief and aspiring magician-and how a curious machine connects him with his departed father and pioneering French filmmaker Georges Melies is full-bodied material for Woodman. The narrator dives in, reading with both a bright energy and an air of mystery-befitting the adventurous plot. Listeners will likely cotton to Woodman’s affable tone and be fascinated by all the unusual elements here, including the sound-effects sequences (footsteps, train station noises) that stand in for Selznick’s black-and-white illustrations, which appear like mini-silent movies in the book. Selznick himself takes over as host on the making-of style DVD, in which he divulges his love of film and his inspiration for the book, discusses (and demonstrates) his drawing technique and even performs a magic trick. The “chapters” of his interview are interspersed with excerpts from the audiobook, as he explains how the recording was a translation of both his words and pictures to sound. This inventive audio-visual hybrid will be a welcome addition to both home and classroom libraries. Ages 9-12. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PW, LLC. All rights reserved”


  The Prestige a DVD based on the book by Christopher Priest (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London. Two magicians share an intense rivalry with each other and leads them on a life-long battle for supremacy. The rivalry is so intense that is will be full of obsession, deceit and jealousy, with both dangerous and deadly consequences. From the time that Robert angier and Alfred Bordon first met, the two were competitors. However, their once friendly competition evolves into battle for each others trade secrets. ”


Chilling Stories for Halloween

Friday, October 21st, 2011

  S.J. Watson, ­Before I Go To Sleep (Find in our catalog)

Summary in our catalog:  “In this gripping psychological thriller in the vein of “Shutter Island” and the film “Memento,” an amnesiac attempts to reconstruct her past by keeping a journal and discovers the dangerous inconsistencies in the stories of her husband and her secret doctor.”

  Melissa Marr, Graveminder (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville. Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place–and the man–she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected.”

(Available as an audiobook too).

  Colson Whitehead, Zone One (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street-aka Zone One-but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety-the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work­ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world. And then things start to go wrong. Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One bril­liantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.”

  Glen Duncan, The Last Werewolf (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “Then she opened her mouth to scream–and recognised me. It was what I’d been waiting for. She froze. She looked into my eyes. She said, “It’s you.” Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you–and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely. Jake’s depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide–even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive. Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend–mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century–a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human. One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.”


Awards – Man Booker Prize

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

  Julian Barnes has won the US$78,284 Man Booker Prize  for The Sense of an Ending (Find in our catalog). Dame Stella Rimington, chair of the judges, said the novel “has the markings of a classic of English Literature. It is exquisitely written, subtly plotted and reveals new depths with each reading.” Find out more about the Prize.

Summary of the book in our catalog:  “By an acclaimed writer at the height of his powers, The Sense of an Ending extends a streak of extraordinary books that began with the best-selling Arthur & George and continued with Nothing to Be Frightened Of and, most recently, Pulse.   This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about-until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.   A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre.”


More Audiobook Reviews From Tracy

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

The Corduroy Mansion Series by Alexander McCall Smith       

Alexander McCall Smith writes several series.  I have found, though, that some of his books I really enjoy, while others leave me a little cold.  For example, I tried, but didn’t really appreciate his Isabel Dalhousie mystery series.  I have not read his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, so I can’t really comment on them.  But I have listened to, and really enjoyed, the first two books in his Corduroy Mansions series.

The first book is titled Corduroy Mansions (Find the audiobook in our catalog)

Corduroy Mansions is an apartment block in London. It is inhabited by a number of memorable characters. Those characters include William French, a wine merchant, and his son Eddie, a ne’er-do-well who is overstaying his welcome in William’s apartment. There is also Dee, a vitamin saleswoman with a disturbing penchant for discussing colonic irrigation, and her roommate Jenny, who works for the horrible Oedipus Snark.  Their mild adventures and misadventures combine for charming stories that brought a smile to my face as I listened. The book is well read by a narrator with a soothing voice and a slight accent.

The second is The Dog Who Came in From the Cold (Find the audiobook in our catalog).

Both titles are available in other audio formats.

If you enjoy the Corduroy Mansion series, make sure to check out McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series as well.

Posted by Tracy

Where the Shadows Lie by Michael Ridpath

Monday, October 17th, 2011

  (Find this book in our catalog) Ridpath, the author of eight financial thrillers, turns his hand to a new mystery series featuring detective Magnus Jonson. When Magnus becomes a witness to drug cartel related crime in Boston, his superior sends him to Iceland as a consultant in order to protect him prior to the trial.  Although born in Iceland, Magnus has been raised in Boston & finds he must brush up on his rusty language skills & knowledge of the country. He soon becomes involved in a murder investigation, when Professor Agnar Haraldsson is found dead. The Professor’s interest in a long-lost saga & the revelation of the existence of a powerful ring, link the mystery to Icelandic folklore & to J. R. R. Tolkien. Set against the gritty backdrop of Iceland’s landscape this mystery links the past to the present & introduces an interesting new character.

The second book in this new Fire & Ice series is 66 North.

Jen’s Jewels with Rosalind Lauer

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

When we were kids, life was so simple. We went to school, completed our homework, and then just played outside. On the weekends, it was family time peppered with baseball games and the occasional ballet recital. Nowadays, our kids are way overscheduled. Even trying to squeeze in a vacation can become a Herculean feat. If only we could go back to a simpler time when all we needed was a good conversation with the dearest of friends. How did we become such a busy society?

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Rosalind Lauer explores that very question in her exciting new Amish series Seasons of Lancaster. Get ready to be swept away by her unforgettable characters in the delightful first book A SIMPLE WINTER. Set in the rolling hills of beautiful Lancaster County, it’s the story of one Amish family’s struggle to overcome a shocking tragedy while an outsider contemplates leaving her busy life behind in order to find herself among the Amish.

As part of this interview, Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House 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. Go ahead and leave the busyness behind and fall in love with the Seasons of Lancaster.

Jen: As writers, we create stories from the myriad experiences in our lives. So that my readers may take a peek inside your own personal storybook, please share with us your educational and professional background.

Rosalind: I grew up in suburban Maryland and attended three different high schools, the third in Ludwigsburg, Germany, where my father was working that year. (The experience with German has helped me with the language of the Amish.)  We have five kids in our family, so money was tight. That pressed me to develop a work ethic in line with Amish values. When I was nine I ran a camp for neighborhood kids in my backyard, charging their parents a nickel a day.  I’ve worked as a waitress, receptionist and library assistant. I’ve done packaging on a factory line. I spent a hot summer as a cook’s assistant at a rural camp. I’ve scooped ice cream, sold hot dogs and women’s accessories (though not at the same time!) I managed a theater box office and helped soldiers through a Red Cross outpost in Germany.

I majored in English at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York — a perfect blend of small campus life and city culture. After a deadly dull but well-paying job I took a pay cut to work as an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster. I never regretted that. I worked on Silhouette Books at a time when the romance industry was exploding, and I learned so much from my mentor Nancy Jackson and from the writers I worked with.

Jen: Please describe for us the “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the leap and actively pursue a career as a novelist.

Rosalind: For A SIMPLE WINTER, my “Aha!” moment came when I felt that I could add my own touch of humanity and love to Amish fiction. While there are some wonderful writers working in this genre, I had read many books that depicted the Amish as stern and severe. Although the Amish culture has its difference, there are certain universal qualities all people share, and I wanted to depict Amish characters that were human first. Yes, there are many rules for the Amish to follow, but the farm life is a life on the land, a world of color, birth and death, and humor. This book saga has pulled me closer to the earth, and it’s ironic that our society seems to be moving toward many of the things the Amish have done for years like organic foods, reusing and recycling, solar energy and home vegetable gardens.

Jen: In your debut novel A SIMPLE WINTER, you explore the simple life of Amish living through the eyes of a young journalist Remy McCallister. How did you arrive at the premise?

Rosalind: The story began with the notion of a typical large Amish family struck by the tragedy of the death of the parents. Who would raise the children? I liked the idea of my main character, Adam, needing to step up and do something he hadn’t chosen out of family duty. I also loved the notions of the greater community pitching in to help the Kings, as the Amish do so well, and I wanted to make it clear that this was a functional family in which everyone, young and small, also pitched in to support each other and make the family function.

From Remy’s viewpoint, I wanted her to be a disenfranchised twenty-something – which I think we’re seeing a lot of in this generation – who is searching for her place in the world and the home she lost when she was a child. I thought the two angles collided well for a dynamic story.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long did it take for you to write the book? Did you outline the story first? Or, did you simply allow the novel to take on a life of its own?

Rosalind: Since A SIMPLE WINTER was the first of three books in the King family saga, I needed a little more time than usual to find the right balance of romance, drama and mystery. I took two months to write a series proposal that included two chapters of the first book and a detailed outline. And actually, the publisher passed on that proposal! That was a heartbreak, as I knew I was close and I loved these characters. The chapters had to be reworked, almost from scratch, though the family story and the mystery remained in tact.

With some candid notes from my agent, which mostly involved digging more into the main characters, I was able to revise the chapters for a green light on the series. After that it took around three months to write the manuscript and another month at least for revisions. Oh, this book needed some major tightening up! I am so fortunate to have a wonderful editor who can see the big picture as well as small details. When she is engaged in my characters she is quick to note when they go off-track and she had great ideas on how to reel them in. When I see her notes, there’s no doubt that the changes she suggests will strengthen the book.

In terms of form, I always outline a story. Lately I’ve taken to nailing it down in more detail – scene by scene. The beauty of an outline is that is gives you a blueprint so your foundation is set, and from there, if you want to add on or move in a different direction, it’s usually fine. For me writing the outline is a very creative process because I’m trying to sew and emotional underpinning into a chain of realistic events. When I write the scene I have to feel it, be in it – make it live!

Jen: How did your former career as an editor prepare you for the rigors of writing your first book?  Did you find yourself overly critical during the writing process? Or, did your editing skills enable you to avoid certain pitfalls?

Rosalind: You’re right! If you let that critical editor sit on your shoulder while you’re creating a story, you won’t get far! I’ve been able to turn off that voice in the initial writing phase and let it shout later when I’m rewriting.

One skill I did learn as an editor was how to pick out the things that worked and revise the things that weren’t necessary to the story. You have to crack your story open, painful though it may be, toss out the disease and do surgery on the rest. As an editor you are looking at the whole book and thinking of how all the story elements can work organically together. As a writer I can get lost in the details, but there’s a time in every book when I need to step back and take a look at the piece as a whole.

Jen: In terms of research, approximately how much was needed for the story to ring true with your readers? And, what was the most fascinating thing you learned about the Amish culture?

Rosalind: In terms of research, I was guided by real life experience and sociologists like John Hostetler and Donald Kraybill.  Researching the Amish is tricky because you cannot rely on internet postings, and once you begin to research you learn that there are so many differences from one congregation/region to the next, your head can spin!

My lifesaver was Dr. Violet Dutcher, a college professor with Amish roots. As an academic she understands fiction and literature, and she has extensive ties and experiences with various Amish communities. She reviews my work and offers suggestions, revisions and personal anecdotes. The third Seasons of Lancaster Novel, Jonah’s story, is largely inspired by her wonderful anecdotes about Amish men and their secret fascination with cars.

The most fascinating thing about Amish culture? That’s a tough one when you’re talking about a seemingly simple world rich with complexities. I think the greatest misconception about Amish life is that it is a drab, colorless world. That’s so far from the truth! In Lancaster County there’s the colorful landscape and brightly colored dresses worn by women. No print fabrics, but lovely deep gem tones of color. I suppose the “apparent” contradictions are a fascination. The ban on electrical hookups but the allowance of some diesel powered equipment. A hand pump beside a solar powered water heater. The freedom of a young person to choose baptism, though their parents and community fully expect it.  The use of scooters with tires but no tires allowed on farm equipment or carriages. Rumspringa alone is full of contradictions! I love these intricacies and enjoyed exploring their complexities.

Jen: The lead character Remy is a vibrant soul in search of her true calling in life. How does her encounter with Adam King, a young Amish man, positively impact her relationship with her father Herb?

Rosalind: Remy’s father Herb isn’t a bad guy, but he doesn’t have a nurturing, paternal bone in his body, and Remy has paid dearly for that. Remy’s attitude toward her father evolves in an interesting way, as she must combine her instinct to protect herself against the thoughtless, alienating things her father does with the Amish ways of respect for a parent and obedience to their wishes. One of the wonderful things about doing a three-book saga is that you don’t have to wrap up every detail in one book. Although A Simple Winter has its own satisfying conclusion, some of the story threads like Remy’s relationship with Herb are allowed to play out in more of a real-time thread through the three books. You need to keep reading to find out how she finally reconciles with Herb.

Jen: When given the assignment to cover the tragic death of Adam’s parents, what is going on in Remy’s mind? How does this opportunity turn into a chance to open Pandora’s Box?

Rosalind: When she gets the assignment, Remy is torn between proving her journalistic skill on her own merit and reconnecting with Adam, whom she met a year ago during a difficult juncture in both their lives. Her involvement with the King family opens a Pandora’s box because Remy can’t help but try to piece together clues about who murdered Adam’s parents, and as a good Amish man, Adam cannot pursue that investigation or hope that the killer receives punishment. The Amish believe that justice is served by God, and it’s not man’s place to intervene in such a matter.

Jen: As the head of the family, Adam must now provide material as well as emotional support to his siblings. How do his feelings for Remy hinder his ability to move forward?

Rosalind: After his move away from home during his Rumspringa, Adam is determined to do all the right things and lead the family according to the rules of the Ordnung. His involvement with Remy does not please any of the ministers, and everyone knows a good Amish man does not marry an Englisher. Everyone is waiting for Adam to do the right thing and find a young Amish woman to marry.

Jen: Lets’ switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Do you participate in social media? Do you have a website?

Rosalind: Readers can always reach me through my Facebook page, Rosalind Lauer. I don’t have a website. It just doesn’t seem like a good fit for an Amish writer, and I have committed myself to putting my energies into writing “wonderful good,” heartwarming books instead of trying to learn marketing. I’m so grateful to have an excellent publisher like Random House behind this book to take care of those details for me. Random House has a wonderful website with information on my books.

Jen: Will you be participating in Author Phone chats? If so, how would my readers go about scheduling one?

Rosalind: I would love to talk to book groups about A SIMPLE WINTER. Anyone who wants to schedule a phone chat can reach me through my Facebook page, Rosalind Lauer.

Jen: Are you currently at work on the next book in the Seasons of Lancaster series? What can you share with us?

Rosalind: Actually, I just finished the outline for the third Seasons of Lancaster series! It’s Jonah King’s story, and I’m very excited about exploring a strong male perspective in the Amish community. The second book, A Simple Spring, is in production now, and I think my heart skipped a beat when I saw the beautiful cover image of Sadie backlit by a sunrise in brilliant shades of orange and yellow. In A Simple Spring, Sadie is torn between pursuing the musical talent God has blessed her with and obeying the rules and traditions of her Amish community. The second book gave me a chance to delve into Sadie’s character and show more of the King family at home. Coming from a large family, I’ve enjoyed recreating the wonderful dynamics among siblings.

Jen: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat with my readers. I loved reading A SIMPLE WINTER. Bravo! Good luck with your future projects. I look forward to catching up with my new friends of Lancaster in the spring and fall.

Rosalind:  Thank you, Jen! I am starting to write the third book, A Simple Autumn, this week, and I am looking forward to getting back to the King family. For me, it’s like going home for Christmas!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Rosalind. I sure did! What a fascinating culture! Please stop by your favorite bookstore or local library branch and pick up a copy of A SIMPLE WINTER 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 the second novel in the Seasons of Lancaster series?

Next month, I will be bringing to you my interview with New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins. You won’t want to miss it.

Until next month…


South of Broad by Pat Conroy

Friday, October 14th, 2011

  (Find this book in our catalog)  Published in 2009, this is not a new book, but is one that is still popular both with general readers & book groups. It was the Abingdon book group pick for September, which meant that many of us were reading it as Hurricane Irene battered our homes. As the book is set in Charleston, South Carolina & has several of the characters riding out Hurricane Hugo, we felt some affinity with the characters beyond the usual. Whether you are a fan of Conroy’s style of writing or not, this book raises some pretty intense issues that make for a very active book discussion. AIDS, child abuse, insanity, suicide, drugs, & race & cultural divisions are offset by friendships & loyalty. Conroy’s descriptions of Charleston are wonderful, you really experience the city through the narrative & it is more than just a backdrop, it is a main character in the story. The book highlights the changes that take place there from the end of the 1980′s to the present time as seen through the experiences of a group of diverse friends who were at high school together. These friends come together again to rescue one of their number who has AIDS. Leo Bloom, who writes a column in the local newspaper, is the narrator. Faced with personal tragedy & loneliness, Leo finds solace with his friends & his city. 

Note that the paperback version includes an interview with the author & book discussion questions.

“Lush, remarkable… sprawling, heartbreaking… Conroy is a master of American fiction and he has proved it once again in this magnificent love letter to his beloved Charleston.” Bookpage

Other fiction titles by Pat Conroy

South of Broad

Beach Music

The Prince of Tides

The Lords of Discipline

The Great Santini

Audiobook Review From Tracy – Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

I heard about this book on the radio and was immediately intrigued. Tayari Jones tells the story of a bigamist and his families. Not the type of bigamist that we’ve been hearing about on the news recently. This story is about a man, living a seemingly ordinary life but with a big secret.  The story is actually told from the perspective of the man’s daughters. Dana, his daughter from his secret relationship, knows about his father’s other, public family. Chaurisse, his other daughter, is blissfully unaware that she is not her father’s only child.

The story is told from first Dana’s perspective, and then Chaurisse’s. The girls, through Dana’s scheming, meet and become friends. The story follows them as this relationship develops towards its inevitable conclusion.

There are two narrators of the story, both of which do a good job of portraying their characters. The story is stronger in the beginning, I think, than after the two girls meet.  I thought all of the characters were compelling, and I enjoyed the insight the author gives into their motivations, even when I was frustrated with the characters’ choices. I found the ending to be more than a little unsatisfying, but I appreciate books that wrap things up neatly at the end. This book certainly did not do that, which ultimately makes it even more real.

Find this audiobook in our catalog.  We also have a Playaway version.

Posted by Tracy