Archive for June, 2012

Marilyn Monroe

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Try out this new book about Marilyn:

Marilyn Monroe: My Little Secret

Then try this other book about Marilyn and a little-known confidant:

  My Week With Marilyn by Colin Clark.  Summary: “England, 1956. Hollywood’s biggest star-Marilyn Monroe-desperately needs time away from a difficult movie shoot opposite Laurence Olivier and the pressures of her new marriage to the playwright Arthur Miller. She turns her attention to Colin Clark, a young and handsome assistant on the set.”  “Never before published in a single volume, here are both the fly-on-the-wall diary Clark kept during the often tumultuous filming of the legendary film, The Prince and the Showgirl, and his heartfelt intimate remembrance of the brief episode that was to change his life: an innocent week in the English countryside in which Clark becomes Marilyn Monroe’s confidant and ally– and maybe falls a bit in love.”


Pritzker Award for Military History

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

British historian Sir Max Hastings won the 2011 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.  The award, carrying a $100,000 honorarium and sponsored by the Tawani Foundation, recognizes a living author for “a body of work that has profoundly enriched the public understanding of American military history.”

Hastings is the author of 23 books, including:

  Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945

  Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45

Overlord : D-Day and the Battle for Normandy

  Retribution:the Battle for Japan, 1944-45

  Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945

The award will be presented October 27 at the Pritzker Library’s Liberty Gala in Chicago.


War of 1812

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Try out this new book about the War of 1812:

  The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812 by Troy Bickham.  Featured June 18, 2012 on Diane Rehm Show – NPR.  Summary: “In early 1815, Secretary of State James Monroe reviewed the treaty with Britain that would end the War of 1812. The United States Navy was blockaded in port; much of the army had not been paid for nearly a year; the capital had been burned. The treaty offered an unexpected escape from disaster. Yet it incensed Monroe, for the name of Great Britain and its negotiators consistently appeared before those of the United States. “The United States have acquired a certain rank amongst nations, which is due to their population and political importance,” he brazenly scolded the British diplomat who conveyed the treaty, “and they do not stand in the same situation as at former periods.” Monroe had a point, writes Troy Bickham. InThe Weight of Vengeance, Bickham provides a provocative new account of America’s forgotten war, underscoring its significance for both sides by placing it in global context. The Napoleonic Wars profoundly disrupted the global order, from India to Haiti to New Orleans. Spain’s power slipped, allowing the United States to target the Floridas; the Haitian slave revolt contributed to the Louisiana Purchase; fears that Britain would ally with Tecumseh and disrupt the American northwest led to a pre-emptive strike on his people in 1811. This shifting balance of power provided the United States with the opportunity to challenge Britain’s dominance of the Atlantic world. And it was an important conflict for Britain as well. Powerful elements in the British Empire so feared the rise of its former colonies that the British government sought to use the War of 1812 to curtail America’s increasing maritime power and its aggressive territorial expansion. And by late 1814, Britain had more men under arms in North America than it had in the Peninsular War against Napoleon, with the war with America costing about as much as its huge subsidies to European allies. Troy Bickham has given us an authoritative, lucidly written global account that transforms our understanding of this pivotal war.”

Then try this:

  1812: the War that Forged a Nation by Walter R. Borneman.  Summary: “In June 1812 the still-infant United States had the audacity to declare war on the British Empire. Fought between creaking sailing ships and armies often led by bumbling generals, the ensuing conflict featured a tit-for-tat “You burned our capital, so we’ll burn yours” and a legendary battle unknowingly fought after the signing of a peace treaty. During the course of the war, the young American navy proved its mettle as the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” sent two first-rate British frigates to the bottom, and a twenty-seven-year-old lieutenant named Oliver Hazard Perry hoisted a flag exhorting, “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” and chased the British from Lake Erie. By 1814, however, the United States was no longer fighting for free trade, sailors’ rights, and as much of Canada as it could grab, but for its very existence as a nation. With Washington in flames, only a valiant defense at Fort McHenry saved Baltimore from a similar fate. Here are the stories of commanding generals such as America’s Henry “Granny” Dearborn, double-dealing James Wilkinson, and feisty Andrew Jackson, as well as Great Britain’s gallant Sir Isaac Brock, overly cautious Sir George Prevost, and Rear Admiral George Cockburn, the man who put the torch to Washington. Here too are those inadvertently caught up in the war, from heroine farm wife Laura Secord, whom some call Canada’s Paul Revere, to country doctor William Beanes, whose capture set the stage for Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 1812: The War That Forged a Nation presents a sweeping narrative that emphasizes the struggle’s importance to America’s coming-of-age as a nation. Though frequently overlooked between the American Revolution and the Civil War, the War of 1812 did indeed span half a continent — from Mackinac Island to New Orleans, and Lake Champlain to Horseshoe Bend — and it paved the way for the conquest of the other half. During the War of 1812, the United States cast aside its cloak of colonial adolescence and — with both humiliating and glorious moments — found the fire that was to forge a nation.”


Book to Movie – Savages

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

  The Oliver Stone-directed film version of Don Winslow’s novel, Savages (Find in our catalog) hits theaters July 6. Click here to watch a trailer.

This is what it says about the book in our catalog: “A breakthrough novel that pits young kingpins against a Mexican drug cartel, Savages is a provocative, sexy, and sharply funny thrill ride through the dark side of the war on drugs and beyond. Part-time environmentalist and philanthropist Ben and his ex-mercenary buddy Chon run a Laguna Beach-based marijuana operation, reaping significant profits from their loyal clientele. In the past when their turf was challenged, Chon took care of eliminating the threat. But now they may have come up against something that they can’t handle–the Mexican Baja Cartel wants in, and sends them the message that a “no” is unacceptable. When they refuse to back down, the cartel escalates its threat, kidnapping Ophelia, the boys’ playmate and confidante. O’s abduction sets off a dizzying array of ingenious negotiations and gripping plot twists that will captivate readers eager to learn the costs of freedom and the price of one amazing high. Following “the best summertime crime novel ever” ( San Francisco Chronicle on The Dawn Patrol ), bestselling author Winslow offers up a smash hit in the making. Savages is an ingenious combination of adrenaline-fueled suspense and true-crime reportage by a master thriller writer at the very top of his game.”


Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The American Library Association has just announced the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction.  Read more…

Winners Announced

  Anne Enright was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for her novel The Forgotten Waltz (Find in our catalog), published by W. W. Norton & Company.

Summary: “In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, it has snowed. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for “the love of her life,” Seán Vallely. As the city outside comes to a halt, Gina remembers their affair: long afternoons made blank by bliss and denial. Now, as the silent streets and falling snow make the day luminous and full of possibility, Gina awaits the arrival of Seán’s fragile, twelve-year-old daughter, Evie-the complication, and gravity, of this second life. In this extraordinary novel, Anne Enright speaks directly to the readers she won with The Gathering . Here again is the momentous drama of everyday life; the volatile connections between peole, the wry, accurate take on families, marriage, and brittle middle age. With The Forgotten Waltz Enright turns her attention to love, following another unforgettable heroine on a journey of the heart.”

  Robert K. Massie was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction for his work Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (Find in our catalog), published by Random House, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group.

About the Awards

“The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established in 2012 to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. The winners (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) are announced at an event at the ALA Annual Conference; winning authors receive a $5,000 cash award, and two finalists in each category receive $1,500. In 2012, for the inauguration of the awards, publishers will receive 1,000 complimentary seals and may purchase additional seals.”


Book to Movie – Abraham Lincon: Vampire Hunter

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

  The movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (See a trailer), based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s paranormal reimagining of American history, opens today, Friday, June 22.  Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the movie stars Benjamin Walker as Lincoln, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as his wife and Alan Tudyk as Stephen Douglas.  Find the book in our catalog.

Summary of the book: “Indiana, 1818 – Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.” “My baby boy…” she whispers before dying. Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire. When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House. While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years. Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.”


Rodney King Autobiography

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

  On June 17 Rodney King, victim of the notorious beating by police caught on video that eventually sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots, was found dead.  Read more

Recently, in April 2012 King published his autobiography The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption, co-authored with Lawrence J. Spagnola (Find this book in our catalog)

This is what it says about the book in our catalog: “Rodney King’s The Riot Within is a powerful, revealing memoir in which an unlikely icon tells for the first time the full story of his life, taking the reader through a moment-by-moment account of the experience of the infamous beating and harrowing stories of the widespread violence sparked by the officers’ acquittal, violence that nearly destroyed the city of Los Angeles.”

Why not check this autobiography out and learn more about the struggles of the person who pleaded during the riots, “Can we all get along? Can we get along?”

Learn more about the book from Fresh Fiction.


The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

(Find this book in our catalog).  Ms. Benjamin’s novel was well received by the Abingdon Books at Night group who read it for their June meeting.  Everyone found it interesting & it provided a wealth of discussion material, from the treatment of those with physical differences, to women’s wages & childbirth, to the Civil War & slavery.  All those who attended joined in the animated discussion.  Mrs. Tom Thumb, also known as Lavinia Warren was a person of short stature of only 32 inches tall.  She became an employee of  P. T. Barnum, married General Tom Thumb, & together with her younger sister, Minnie, traveled across America & the world.  In her time (the 1860s) she & Tom Thumb were renowned entertainers held in high esteem, they were stars of their day.  Benjamin takes Lavinia’s story & develops it into a fascinating account of her life, with excitement, adventure & tragedy.  The background story is that of a country struggling through war & division, of technological changes, expanding railroads & electricity.  It is this background that adds greater depth to an already very interesting tale.  Any reader who enjoys historical fiction & who wants to know more about this period will finds this novel an engrossing read.

Melanie Benjamin is the author of Alice I Have Been, the story about the girl behind Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland character.  “Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy.  But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” 

Melanie Benjamin’s third historical novel, The Ambassador’s Daughter, a novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, will be out in 2013.

Tom Thumb : the remarkable true story of a man in miniature by George Sullivan is a Juvenile Biography that is worth taking a look at.  It contains many pictures of the characters in the novel & gives more information about what happened to Lavinia in her later life.

Posted by Julia

Editor’s Picks – Time Travel Fantasy

Monday, June 18th, 2012

  Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (Find in our catalog)

“”Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown”–the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestseller A Discovery of Witches.”  Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon.  The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.  Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh.  Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.  Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.”

  Outlander by Diane Gabaldan (Find in our catalog)

“Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another… In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles.  Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.  Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch.  She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”  From the Trade Paperback edition.


Benjamin Franklin Awards

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

  The winners in the many categories of the Benjamin Franklin Awards, sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association and recognizing excellence in independent publishing, can be found at