Archive for February, 2012

Jen’s Jewels with Shelley Shepard Gray

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

The simple way of life in the Amish community is much different than the hurriedness of the rest of today’s world. Smartphones and social networking are widely used by most of us, while the Amish abstain from technology. Yet despite the difference in our cultures, both Amish and “English” alike know what it feels like to suffer when a loved one disappears. The angst of fearing the unknown is the same no matter what walk of life we choose to follow.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Shelley Shepard Gray touches upon this very topic in MISSING, the first book in her new Amish series The Secrets of Crittenden County. It’s the story of a local boy who goes missing from an Amish community and winds up being found dead in an abandoned well. As the local townsfolk and Amish people come together to bring his killer to justice, best-kept secrets are revealed, changing this quiet Kentucky community forever.

As part of this interview, Avon Inspire, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, has generously donated five copies for you, my favorite readers to win. So, don’t forget to look for the trivia question at the end of the column. As always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your reading adventure.

Jen: A New York Times bestselling author, your writing career has been quite extraordinary. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please share with us your educational and professional background.

Shelley: Well, let’s see. I grew up in Houston, Texas, then went to the University of Colorado for my Bachelor’s degree. I had a double major, elementary education and English literature. I then taught school for eleven years. We moved around a bit, so I taught fifth and sixth grade in Arizona, Texas, and Colorado. Along the way, I went to college at night and got my Masters in Educational Administration. Soon after I earned my masters degree, we moved to Ohio. I decided I needed a short break from teaching sixth grade…and started writing full time. Never did I imagine I would have a writing career! It’s really amazing how it all turned out.

Jen: Please describe for us your ‘Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as an author.

Shelley: I actually started writing during one of my lunch hours, when I was teaching 6th grade! I never imagined I would ever show anyone what I wrote, let alone sell a book! I started writing in earnest after my first visit to an Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America chapter meeting. There, I met lots of women who were a lot like me~they loved books and had a dream of one day seeing their name on the cover of a book!

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to complete a book? And, do you plot first, or simply allow the novel to take on a life of its own?

Shelley: Because I don’t have another job, I usually can complete a book in three months. I do plot first, but a lot of times the novels really do take on lives of their own! I’m forever writing little notes to my editor when I turn in my manuscripts… (I know we didn’t plan on this, but…)

Jen: Like many authors, you have written in more than one genre including historical, western inspirational and currently Amish romances using more than one name. What attracted you to these particular genres? And, why did you choose to use a pseudonym?

Shelley: I’m a voracious reader. I will sometimes read a book a day. Because of that, I enjoy all kinds of novels. I think that has transferred to the novels I write. I like researching and imagining different story lines. The pseudonyms have always been the publishers’ ideas. As long as I’m always ‘Shelley’ I’ve been happy to follow their lead on what name they want on the covers. : )

Jen: In order to have the plot ring true with your readers across the different genres, how much research is needed to sustain the various storylines?

Shelley: Quite a bit of research is involved, especially with the Amish novels. I’m lucky that I know several Amish ladies who have been so helpful to me. That said, a lot of the storylines in my books are universal. They can happen to anyone, such as Mattie, my cancer survivor in the Families of Honor series. For Mattie, I was able to speak to several close friends about their experiences with cancer. For the Crittenden County series, I called up a police detective friend of my husband’s in Denver, and asked him all kinds of questions-poor guy!

Jen: Your latest release MISSING is the first book in your remarkable new series The Secrets of Crittenden County. How did you arrive at the premise?

Shelley: While researching locations for the Families of Honor series, I came across Crittenden County, KY on the Internet. Later I visited it, and it was so different than the Amish community near my house or the ones in northern Ohio that I knew I wanted to set a series there.

I remember the first time I visited Crittenden County. My husband and I were driving around, the day was kind of overcast, and the road was really narrow. A white clapboard Amish home was directly across from an old, abandoned single-wide trailer. The woods were really thick, and we could hear the water rushing through the creek nearby. I looked at my husband and told him that it would be a perfect place to find a body! I meant it as a joke…but then the idea kind of stuck.

Jen: The story begins with the mysterious murder of a local Amish young man Perry Borntrager. In what way does his religious background prove to be a hindrance for Deputy Sherriff Mose Kramer in conducting the investigation into the murder?

Shelley: I’ve found that a lot of people like to imagine that all Amish people are incapable of doing anything mean or hurtful or illegal. In that way, I think it was hard for the community to imagine that Perry had been murdered. The Amish community is usually rather closed, too. They typically don’t want outsiders to know everyone’s faults.
However, Deputy Sheriff Mose Kramer grew up Amish, and knows everyone in his jurisdiction rather well. Probably too well. He knows people are lying to him, and he worries that he’s letting his preconceived notions about people interfere with being objective.
That’s why he calls up his friend from the police academy, Luke Reynolds to help investigate. When Luke enters, he must not only push away his notions about country life versus city life, but also his ideas about what it’s like to be ‘Amish’ or ‘English’.
Jen: As in any small town, opinions and accusations are whispered among the townsfolk yet not shared with the authorities. How does Perry’s former Amish girlfriend Lydia Plank cope with the constant scrutiny by her peers and fellow members of the Amish community?

Shelley: At first, Lydia wants to hide from all of the scrutiny and whispers. After a time, however, she knows she has to learn to stand up for herself and learn to face her accusers.

Her journey towards independence is a difficult one, because along the way, she uncovers some secrets about herself, and falls in love with a man who is another suspect in the murder investigation.

Jen: Englisher Walker Anderson has his own secrets to hide having had issues with Perry prior to his death. How does Walker’s newfound friendship with Lydia bridge the gap between his feelings of guilt and sadness?

Shelley: Obviously, one of the themes in MISSING was that every character feels that something is ‘missing’ in his or her life. For Walker, Lydia provides that missing link. She makes him see that he’s not the only person with insecurities, or with feelings of guilt about Perry’s death. They have a lot in common, though at first it seems like don’t.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your website. Please take us on a brief tour highlighting points of interest.

Shelley: My website is: www.shelleyshepardgray.com. I try to update it fairly regularly. In the ‘Book’ section, readers can find all my novels. All the novels are grouped by series name. I also write a blog one or two times a week. Sometimes I simply talk about what I’m working on, or what is going on in my life. Other times, I run a contest. I love hearing from readers, and enjoy when readers post comments. I also try to keep a pretty good calendar with scheduled book signings listed.

Jen: Are you involved with social media? What is the best way for your fans to keep up with your latest news and releases?

Shelley: I’m on Facebook, and I try to check in everyday. On my author page, readers can often read excerpts from my latest releases or hear news about giveaways. I love chatting with readers there, and discovering what they’ve been up to! I love to bake, and often we’re all posting pictures of our latest cake or batch of cookies.

Jen: Are you currently at work on the second novel in the series? If so, what may you share with us?

Shelley: I’m so pleased to share that the whole series has been written! I’m currently finishing up revisions for FOUND, the last book in the series. In THE SEARCH and in FOUND, the mystery surrounding Perry’s death continues. Readers will also get to know many of the characters better, and read about two more romances that bloom. One thing that is kind of special about these books is that they take place right after each other-THE SEARCH begins the day after MISSING ends. I guess you can tell I’m very excited about this series!

Jen: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I am looking forward to reading the next installment of The Secrets of Crittenden County. Best of luck with the series!

Shelley: Jen, thank you! I loved chatting with you about the newest series. Please let your readers know that I’ll be doing lots of book signings in Kentucky and Ohio for MISSING’S book launch. Dates are on my website.

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Shelley. Please pick up (or download) a copy of MISSING 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.co with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win!

What is the name of the second book in The Secrets of Crittenden County series?

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

Until next time…

Jen

Book to TV – Birdsong by Sebastion Faulks

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

  Sunday, January 22, the BBC premiered Birdsong, a two-part adaptation of the novel by Sebastian Faulks (Find in our Catalog).  The show is scheduled to hit American TV screens as part of the PBS Masterpiece series in April. This trailer will give you a brief preview.  My Dad called me up from Wales to tell me I definitely should not miss this!  This book is a good suggestion for readers and TV viewers suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawal.

Publishers Weekly review of the book in our catalog:  “In 1910, England’s Stephen Wraysford, a junior executive in a textile firm, is sent by his company to northern France. There he falls for Isabelle Azaire, a young and beautiful matron who abandons her abusive husband and sticks by Stephen long enough to conceive a child. Six years later, Stephen is back in France, as a British officer fighting in the trenches. Facing death, embittered by isolation, he steels himself against thoughts of love. But despite rampant disease, harrowing tunnel explosions and desperate attacks on highly fortified German positions, he manages to survive, and to meet with Isabelle again. The emotions roiled up by this meeting, however, threaten to ruin him as a soldier. Everything about this novel, which was a bestseller in England, is outsized, from its epic, if occasionally ramshackle, narrative to its gruesome and utterly convincing descriptions of battlefield horrors. Faulks (A Fool’s Alphabet) proves himself a grand storyteller here. Enlivened with considerable historical detail related through accomplished prose, his narrative flows with a pleasingly appropriate recklessness that brings his characters to dynamic life.” (Feb.) (c) Copyright PW, LLC. All rights reserved

Editor

Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album

Monday, February 27th, 2012

  In the Grammy category of Best Spoken Word Album the winner Sunday, February 12 was If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t) by Betty White (Find this audiobook in our catalog).

Summary in our catalog: “A personal account by the popular actress shares stories from her decades in Hollywood while offering her lighthearted perspectives on topics ranging from sex and aging to animal welfare and television.”

Review from our catalog: “White’s most recent effort is a series of essays reflecting upon her past 15 years in show business. Her frankness gives what might at first seem saccharine musings a bit of punch. She sounds like the sweet old lady next door but will surprise you. White’s ability to shock can be experienced in her acceptance speech at an awards ceremony, when thanking everyone for being there and mentions how she has even “had some of you.” Her love of animals comes through in many recollections of dogs, a gorilla, and even whales she has visited…”

Editor

 

Book to Movie – The Bourne Legacy

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Click here for the first trailer for The Bourne Legacy from Universal.  The movie is based on Eric Van Lustbader’s first Bourne novel after the trilogy originally written by the late Robert Ludlum.  Directed by Tony Gilroy, the spinoff of the studio’s blockbuster Bourne Identity series features Jeremy Renner in the title role.

  Harford County Public Library has the book, the large print book and the audiobook on CDs.  Here is the summary from our catalog of the book, The Bourne Legacy by Eric Van Lustbader (find this book in our catalog).

“Once, Jason Bourne was notorious in the clandestine world of covert-ops as one of the CIA’s most expert international killers for hire. Out of the ashes of his violent past he’s emerged today as a Georgetown professor, living a quiet life, retired from danger-until he narrowly escapes the bullet of a faceless assassin. And when two of Bourne’s closest associates are murdered, Bourne knows that his legacy has followed him-and set him up as prime suspect for the brutal crimes. The quicksand of lies and betrayals is deeper than Bourne ever imagined. Hunted by the CIA as a dangerous rogue agent, he has only one option to stay alive-and one last chance to stay one step ahead of an unseen assailant whose vengeance is personal. Pursued across the globe, Bourne’s on the run, and on the edge of discovering the truth-that he’s become the expendable pawn in an international terrorist plot…”

Editor

Tension mounts in a couple of thrillers you may have missed.

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I recently read a couple of books by authors I had not read before, Darkness, My Old Friend by Lisa Unger, and Saint’s Gate by Carla Neggers.

Darkness, My Old Friend (Find in our catalog) is set in The Hollows, where a variety of characters are trying to come to terms with changes in their lives. Jones Cooper is a retired police detective. Willow Graves, a teenager pining for her old life in Manhattan. Paula Carr is questioning her abusive marriage. Michael Holt wants to know why his mother disappeared years ago and hires a local private eye and a psychic to help him find answers. The paths of these, and other characters, cross in a tense and haunting climax. Characterization is good, the plots are complex enough and the writing is fast-paced. Unger produces a chilly, dark atmosphere that carries through from her previous novel, Fragile. Although Darkness can be read as a stand alone, I wished I had read Fragile first & highly recommend doing that as it features some of the same characters & helps with background. It is also another taut thriller.  http://www.lisaunger.com

Saint’s Gate by Carla Neggers (Find in our catalog) is set in a couple of small towns on the Maine coast. Emma Sharpe is contacted by a nun from the Sisters of the Joyful Heart Convent. Sister Joan works on art restoration and has some questions for Emma, who herself is involved with art crimes as an FBI agent. Before Sister Joan can tell Emma all the details, she is murdered and so begins a hunt for a vicious art thief. Father Finian Bracken, a priest from Ireland who is on temporary assignment to Maine, Ainsley D’Auberville the daughter of a local artist, Emma’s brother & grandfather, who are part of Sharpe Fine Art Recovery, and Sister Cecilia, a novice at the convent are all drawn into the mystery of Sister Joan’s death and the disappearance of two paintings.  Added to these are Colin Donovan, an undercover FBI agent currently on leave, and Matt Yankowski, Emma’s boss. Interesting characters, the mix of convent life, art, saints and Vikings, gives this quick-read book many dimensions. The ending leaves the reader wanting to know more about what will happen between Emma and Colin (and their budding romance) in the future. One hopes there are more books to follow featuring these characters. http://www.carlaneggers.com/

Posted by Julia

More Books Like “Rebecca”

Friday, February 17th, 2012

If you like being bound up in a book as if in a spell, if you like romance, suspense, passion and peril, if you like danger and enigma in an atmospheric setting, you will like Daphne DuMaurier’s classic, Rebecca (Find in our catalog).  Many people will be very familiar with this book which has been made into at least two movies and has generated several “sequals”.  See my earlier blog for my review of Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman (Find in our catalog). 

For elegantly subtle writing like Du Maurier’s, evocative European settings and suspenseful thrills try the novels of Mary Stewart; for instance,

  Nine Coaches Waiting (Find in our catalog)

Summary: “A governess in a French chateau encounters an apparent plot against her young charge’s life in this unforgettably haunting and beautifully written suspense novel. When lovely Linda Martin first arrives at Chateau Valmy as an English governess to the nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy, the opulence and history surrounding her seems like a wondrous, ecstatic dream. But a palpable terror is crouching in the shadows. Philippe’s uncle, Leon de Valmy, is the epitome of charm, yet dynamic and arrogant–his paralysis little hindrance as he moves noiselessly in his wheelchair from room to room. Only his son Raoul, a handsome, sardonic man who drives himself and his car with equally reckless abandon, seems able to stand up to him. To Linda, Raoul is an enigma–though irresistibly attracted to him, she senses some dark twist in his nature. When an accident deep in the woods nearly kills Linda’s innocent charge, she begins to wonder if someone has deadly plans for the young count.”

  The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson (Find in our catalog) is an homage to du Maurier.

Summary: “Tearing a page from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Lawrenson crafts a modern gothic featuring wide-eyed Eve, who marries older, alluringly sophisticated Dom and moves to Les Genevriers, his charming home in Provence. At first she’s delighted, but when the autumn winds blow in, she is alarmed by Dom’s sudden distance, his refusal to discuss his first marriage, and the strange presence she senses in the garden.”

  Daisy Goodwin’s The American Heiress (Find in our catalog) puts a historical spin on the Rebecca story. This would also be a good book for fans of  Downton Abbey.

Summary:  “ Be careful what you wish for.  Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage. Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, Cora’s story marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James.”

Editor

Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

  When They Come for Us We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry by Gal Beckerman (Find in our catalog) has won the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, sponsored by the Jewish Book Council  and recognizing the role of emerging writers in examining the Jewish experience.  The prize, which carries an award of $100,000, is given to works of fiction and nonfiction in alternating years.

Summary of the book in our catalog:  “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.”

Editor

Chick Lit You May Have Missed

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

  The English American by Alison Larkin

Summary:  “When Pippa Dunn,adopted as an infant and raised terribly British, discovers that her birth parents are from the American South, she finds that “culture clash” has layers of meaning she’d never imagined. Meet The English American, a fabulously funny, deeply poignant debut novel that sprang from Larkin’s autobiographical one-woman show of the same name. In many ways, Pippa Dunn is very English: she eats Marmite on toast, knows how to make a proper cup of tea, has attended a posh English boarding school, and finds it entirely familiar to discuss the crossword rather than exchange any cross words over dinner with her proper English family. Yet Pippa — creative, disheveled, and impulsive to the core — has always felt different from her perfectly poised, smartly coiffed sister and steady, practical parents, whose pastimes include Scottish dancing, gardening, and watching cricket. When Pippa learns at age twenty-eight that her birth parents are from the American South, she feels that lifelong questions have been answered. She meets her birth mother, an untidy, artistic, free-spirited redhead, and her birth father, a charismatic (and politically involved) businessman in Washington, D.C.; and she moves to America to be near them. At the same time, she relies on the guidance of a young man with whom she feels a mysterious connection; a man who discovered his own estranged father and who, like her birth parents, seems to understand her in a way that no one in her life has done before. Pippa feels she has found her “self” and everything she thought she wanted. But has she?Caught between two opposing cultures, two sets of parents, and two completely different men, Pippa is plunged into hilarious, heart-wrenching chaos. The birth father she adores turns out to be involved in neoconservative activities she hates; the mesmerizing mother who once abandoned her now refuses to let her go. And the man of her fantasies may be just that…With an authentic adopted heroine at its center, Larkin’s compulsively readable first novel unearths universal truths about love, identity, and family with wit, warmth, and heart.”

  The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner

Summary: “Jennifer Weiner’s talent shines like never before in this collection of short stories, following the tender, and often hilarious, progress of love and relationships over the course of a lifetime. From a teenager coming to terms with her father’s disappearance to a widow accepting two young women into her home, Weiner’s eleven stories explore those transformative moments in our every day.We meet Marlie Davidow, home alone with her new baby late one Friday night, when she wanders onto her ex’s online wedding registry and wonders what if she had wound up with the guy not taken. We stumble onGood in Bed’sBruce Guberman, liquored-up and ready for anything on the night of his best friend’s bachelor party, until stealing his girlfriend’s tiny rat terrier becomes more complicated than he’d planned. We find Jessica Norton listing her beloved New York City apartment in the hope of winning her broker’s heart. And we follow an unlikely friendship between two very different new mothers, and the choices that bring them together — and pull them apart.The Guy Not Takendemonstrates Weiner’s amazing ability to create characters who “feel like they could be your best friend” (Janet Maslin) and to find hope and humor, longing and love in the hidden corners of our common experiences.”

  Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews

Summary:  “”To survive, Savannah Belle BeBe Loudermilk is reduced to spiffing up a broken-down motorcourt–the one thing her slick-talking boyfriend didn’t steal from her. When she hears he’s back in the area, she gathers her friends and plots a very neat sting.”–”Library Journal.”

  Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes

Summary:  “Marian Keyes has introduced readers to the lives, loves, and foibles of the five Walsh sisters — Claire, Maggie, Rachel, Helen, and Anna — and their crazy mammy. In this funny, heartbreaking, and triumphant new tale set in the Big Apple, it’s Anna’s turn in the spotlight. Life is perfect for Anna Walsh. She has the “Best Job in the World” as a PR exec for a top-selling urban beauty brand, a lovely apartment in New York, and a perfect husband — the love of her life, Aidan Maddox. Until the morning she wakes up in her mammy’s living room in Dublin with stitches in her face, a dislocated knee, and completely smashed-up hands — and no memory of how she got there. While her mammy plays nursemaid (just like all of her favorite nurses on her soaps), and her sister Helen sits in wet hedges doing her private investigator work for Lucky Star PI, Anna tries to get better and keeps wondering why Aidan won’t return her phone calls or e-mails. Recuperating from her injuries, a mystified Anna returns to Manhattan. Slowly beginning to remember what happened, she sets off on a search to find Aidan — a hilarious quest involving lilies (she can’t stop smelling them), psychics, mediums, and anyone in the city who can promise her a reunion with her beloved. . . . Written in her classic style, marrying the darker parts of life with humor and wit, Anybody Out There? is Marian Keyes’s best novel to date, a wonderfully charming look at love here and ever after.”

Editor

Dragon Worlds

Monday, February 13th, 2012

  Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik

Summary:  “A dazzling blend of military history, high-flying fantasy, and edge-of-your-seat adventure, Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels, set in an alternate Napoleonic era in which intelligent dragons have been harnessed as weapons of war, are more than just perennial bestsellers-they are a worldwide phenomenon. Now, in Tongues of Serpents, Naomi Novik is back, along with the dragon Temeraire and his rider and friend, Capt. Will Laurence. Convicted of treason despite their heroic defense against Napoleon’s invasion of England, Temeraire and Laurence-stripped of rank and standing-have been transported to the prison colony at New South Wales in distant Australia, where, it is hoped, they cannot further corrupt the British Aerial Corps with their dangerous notions of liberty for dragons. Temeraire and Laurence carry with them three dragon eggs intended to help establish a covert in the colony and destined to be handed over to such second-rate, undesirable officers as have been willing to accept so remote an assignment-including one former acquaintance, Captain Rankin, whose cruelty once cost a dragon its life. Nor is this the greatest difficulty that confronts the exiled dragon and rider: Instead of leaving behind all the political entanglements and corruptions of the war, Laurence and Temeraire have instead sailed into a hornet’s nest of fresh complications. For the colony at New South Wales has been thrown into turmoil after the overthrow of the military governor, one William Bligh-better known as Captain Bligh, late of HMS Bounty. Bligh wastes no time in attempting to enlist Temeraire and Laurence to restore him to office, while the upstart masters of the colony are equally determined that the new arrivals should not upset a balance of power precariously tipped in their favor. Eager to escape this political quagmire, Laurence and Temeraire take on a mission to find a way through the forbidding Blue Mountains and into the interior of Australia. But when one of the dragon eggs is stolen from Temeraire, the surveying expedition becomes a desperate race to recover it in time-a race that leads to a shocking discovery and a dangerous new obstacle in the global war between Britain and Napoleon.”

  Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey

Summary:  “Young Fiona, rider of the gold queen Talenth, has returned from the past, where she and a group of dragons and riders fled so that the wounded could heal from their previous battles with Thread and the younger dragons could safely grow to fighting age. Gone only three days, yet aged more than three years, Fiona is no longer a child but a woman prepared to fight against the Thread that threatens to destroy her world. Fiona’s life takes a pivotal turn when a shocking tragedy thrusts her into a position of authority. Now she finds herself leading weyrfolk who have a hard time trusting a senior Weyrwoman who is both young and an outsider. But even greater challenges lie ahead: Thread is falling and there are too few dragons to stem the tide. Many have died from the recent plague, and even with the influx of newly mature dragons from the past, the depleted fighting force is no match for the intensifying Threadfall. Fiona knows that something must be done, and what she proposes is daring and next to impossible. But if her plan succeeds, it just might save them all. With a cast of familiar characters from previous Pern novels-including Lorana, who sacrificed her own queen dragon so that all the dragons of Pern would have a chance to survive, and Kindan, the harper Fiona has loved her whole life-Dragongirl is another triumph for Todd McCaffrey, and a riveting new chapter for the Dragonriders of Pern.”

  Secret of the Dragon by Margaret Weis

Summary:  “New gods are challenging the old high god, Torval, for rulership of the world. The only way to stop these brash interlopers lies with the five Bones of the Vektia Dragons–the five primal dragons hidden away by the dragon goddess, Vindrash, during the creation of the world. Without these dragons, one of the new gods, Aelon, cannot seize power. The only hope of the Vindrasi lies in finding the dragon bones before the followers of Aelon can use them to destroy the old gods. But the Vindrasi gods have a traitor in their midst… In the land of mortals, Raegar, a Vindraisi turned Aelon warrior-priest, searches for the spirit bones. The gods have a champion of their own–Skylan Ivorson, sea-raider and high chief of the Vindrasi clans, and sworn enemy to Raegar. But Skylan is a prisoner on his own ship. The ship’s dragon, Kahg, has vanished and some believe he is dead. Skylan and his people are taken as captives to Sinaria, where they must fight in a game known as the Para Dix. The fates ofmen and gods and are dragons are rushing headlong to destruction. Skylan can stop the calamity, but only if he discovers the secret of the dragon.”

  Wings of Fire

Summary:  “Dragons: Fearsome fire-breathing foes, scaled adversaries, legendary lizards, ancient hoarders of priceless treasures, serpentine sages with the ages’ wisdom, and winged weapons of war… Wings of Fire brings you all these dragons, and more, seen clearly through the eyes of many of today’s most popular authors, including Peter Beagle, Holly Black, Orson Scott Card, Charles De Lint, Diana Wynne Jones, Mercedes Lackey, Ursula K Le Guin, Dean R Koontz, George R. R. Martin, Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon, Garth Nix, and many others.”

Editor

If You Liked Copper Beach – More Rare “Alchemical” Texts

Friday, February 10th, 2012

  Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz (Find in our catalog)

Summary: “Within the pages of very rare books some centuries old lie the secrets of the paranormal. Abby Radwell’s unusual psychic talent has made her an expert in such volumes-and sometimes taken her into dangerous territory. After a deadly incident in the private library of an obsessive collector, Abby receives a blackmail threat, and rumors swirl that an old alchemical text known as The Key has reappeared on the black market. Convinced that she needs an investigator who can also play bodyguard, she hires Sam Coppersmith, a specialist in paranormal crystals and amber-”hot rocks.” Passion flares immediately between them, but neither entirely trusts the other. When it comes to dealing with a killer who has paranormal abilities, and a blackmailer who will stop at nothing to obtain an ancient alchemical code, no one is safe.”

  The Professor of Secrets: mystery, medicine, and alchemy in Renaissance Italy by William Eamon (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “In this entertaining biography of Neapolitan physician and self-promoter Leonardo Fioravanti, Eamon (history, New Mexico State University) gives a portrait of sixteenth century Italy that is far more realistic than that of those who follow the myth of the Renaissance. This fits well with Fioravanti’s own myth making. He was a medical iconoclast and some of his theories foresaw the techniques of modern medicine. He learned alchemical distillation to create his own medicines, which he sold far and wide. He also took advantage of the new printing press to disseminate his recommendations for treatments. Derided (he said persecuted) by the medical establishment, Fioravanti nevertheless became internationally known. This is a tale of the first steps toward observational medical science as well as of an enigmatic practitioner whose life and death are still a puzzle.” Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

  Ghostwalk: a novel by Rebecca Stott (Find this book in our catalog)

Summary:  “In 2002, a Cambridge historian is found dead, floating down the river Cam, a glass prism in her hand, after researching a book about a series of suspicious circumstances surrounding Newton’s appointment as a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1667. That year, two Fellows died by falling down staircases, apparently drunk; another died in a field, apparently drunk; and a fourth was expelled, having gone mad-leaving vacancies for new appointments and paving the way for Newton’s extraordinary scientific discoveries. When Lydia Brooke, at the request of her ex-lover, the historian’s son, steps in to finish the book, strange shows of light begin to play on the walls, and papers disappear only to reappear elsewhere. And when events escalate to murder, and Lydia’s rekindled romance appears increasingly implicated in the danger, the present becomes entangled with the seventeenth century, with Isaac Newton at the center of the mystery. Filled with evocative descriptions of Cambridge, past and present, of seventeenth-century glassmaking, alchemy, the Great Plague, and Newton’s scientific innovations, Ghostwalk centers on a real historical mystery that Rebecca Stott has uncovered, involving Newton’s alchemy. A riveting literary thriller, Ghostwalk is a rare debut that will change the way most of us think about scientific innovation, our perception of time, and the force of history.”

   A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

Editor