Archive for April, 2013

War of 1812 – Legends and Lore

Monday, April 29th, 2013

We have an interesting new book on order and coming very soon from The History Press: Chesapeake Legends and Lore from the War of 1812 by Ralph E. Eshelman and Scott S. Sheads (Find this book in our catalog).

This book should be of particular interest this month and next in view of the forthcoming commemorative events to be staged at Havre De Grace on the 200th anniversary of the burning of the town by the British.  Ralph Eshelman has written a number of books on the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake.  Scott Sheads is well known for his works on the maritime defense of Baltimore and on the history of Fort McHenry.

This is the summary of Chesapeake Legends and Lore to be found in our catalog:  “In the two hundred years following the War of 1812, the Chesapeake Campaign became romanticized in tall tales and local legends. St. Michael’s on the EasternShore of Maryland was famously cast as the town that fooled the British, and in Baltimore, the defenders of Fort McHenry were reputably rallied by a remarkably patriotic pet rooster.  In Virginia, the only casualty in a raid on Cape Henrywas reportedly the lighthouse keeper’s smokehouse larder, while Admiral Cockburn was said to have supped by the light of the burning Federal buildings in Washington, D.C. Newspaper stories, ordinary citizens and even military personnel embellished events, and two hundred years later, those embellishments have become regional lore.  Join historians Ralph E. Eshelman and Scott S.Sheads as they search for the history behind the legends of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake.”

Put a hold on this book today to get a copy as soon as you can.  It’s a quick read and a fascinating one!


Havre de Grace in the War of 1812

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Havre de Grace in the War of 1812 : fire on the Chesapeake by Heidi L. Glatfelter (Find this book in our catalog).

The weekend of May 3, 4, and 5, 2013 will be given over in Havre de Grace to a commemoration of the attack on the town by the British fleet on May 3, 1813.  Click here for the many exciting events taking place in the Upper Bay area to mark the bicentennial.

To mark this historic occasion, why not check out this recent book on Havre de Grace, which places the events of 1813 in the context of the history of the town and then follows the rebuilding of the town through into the rest of the century and beyond.  I enjoyed the way the book brought the various inhabitants to life and contributed to an understanding of the town as it remains today.

Summary in our catalog: “In the early morning hours of May 3, 1813, British Rear Admiral George Cockburn launched a brutal attack on the city of Havre de Grace, Maryland.  Without mercy for age or infirmity, the British troops plundered and torched much of the town.  It was the beginning of the Chesapeake Campaign of the War of 1812, and it would only end with the burning of the capital and the failed siege of Baltimore.  Author Heidi Glatfelter traces the attack and the response of the residents of Havre de Grace—from thebravery displayed by John O’Neill, who was taken prisoner by the British, to quick-thinking citizens such as Howes Goldsborough, who found ways to save  their homes and those of their neighbors from total destruction.  Join Glatfelter as she reveals the stories of a town under siege and a community determined to rebuild in the aftermath.”


Blood Lance: a Crispin Guest medievel noir

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Blood Lance by Jeri Westerson (Find in our catalog).  I recently finished reading this exciting and action-filled medieval mystery about a disgraced knight, Crispin.  I have always loved medieval mysteries for their exotic settings. If done well a historical background provides rich detail for those who enjoy learning arcane facts along with trying to solve the mystery.  Within a small enclosed medieval community the puzzle can be solved using the methods of observation and deduction much admired by mystery readers. There is plenty to enjoy in a medieval mystery if it has believable characters with interesting dialog and plausible motives all set in a colorful and evocative background.  Blood Lance hits all the buttons and is filled with exciting action as well.

Known around London Bridge as The Tracker, Crispin makes a bare living finding things for people.  Returning home after a late night, he  sees a body hurtling from the uppermost reaches of the Bridge.  Guest’s attempted rescue fails, however, and the man – an armourer with a shop on the bridge – is dead.  While whispers in the street claim that it was a suicide, Guest is unconvinced.

Check our catalog page for this book and read an excerpt to get a taste of the exciting action.


Top Historical Fiction

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

This is a list of Top 10 Historical Fiction, 2013, chosen by author Brad Hooper and published in Booklist April 15, 2013.  See if you agree with Brad’s choices.  Click on a title to go straight to our catalog.

The Accursed. By Joyce Carol Oates.  “Oates brings her dark humor and extraordinary fluency in eroticism and violence to this effective novel—set in Princeton, New Jersey, in the early years of the twentieth century—about the devastating toll of repression and prejudice, sexism and class warfare.”



The Bartender’s Tale. By Ivan Doig. “This coming-of-age drama, set in Montana in 1960 but often flashing back to the Depression, is involving and subtly portrayed.”



Bring Up the Bodies. By Hilary Mantel. “The sequel to Wolf Hall (2009) takes the dramatic story of Thomas Cromwell, chief secretary to King Henry VIII, through the edge-of-your-seat events in the fall of Anne Boleyn, the monarch’s second and doomed consort.”



Coup d’Etat. By Harry Turtledove. “The author’s masterful presentation of an alternate WWII reaches its fourth volume with its quality undiminished.”



The Dream of the Celt. By Mario Vargas Llosa. Tr. by Edith Grossman. “An Irishman in the British diplomatic service in the immediate pre-WWI years—an actual historical figure—is the main character in the Peruvian Nobel laureate’s latest novel.”



Heading out to Wonderful. By Robert Goolrick. “With understated delicacy, the author creates a mesmerizing gothic tale of a good man gone wrong in the post-WWII years.”



The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln. By Stephen L. Carter. “Carter draws on historical documents and a vivid imagination to render a fascinating mix of murder mystery, political thriller, and courtroom drama.”



In Sunlight and in Shadow. By Mark Helprin. Houghton.  “In this prodigious saga of exalted romance in corrupt, post-WWII New York, the author creates a supremely gifted and principled hero.”



Merivel: A Man of His Time. By Rose Tremain. Norton.  “In this wonderful sequel to Restoration (1990), set 16 years later, Tremain’s lovingly flawed protagonist, Sir Robert Merivel, pens a second riveting memoir as King Charles II’s once glorious reign winds down.”



The Testament of Mary. By Colm Tóibín. “This stunning interpretation of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is as beautiful in its presentation as it is provocative in its intention.”




Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

April 23 is not only celebrated by the English as their patron saint St. George’s Day but is also the date recognized as William Shakespeare’s birthday.  No record exists of his actual birthday, but he was baptized on April 26.  It is recorded, however that Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616.

There is not much documentary evidence of just who the writer of Shakespeare’s plays was.  If you have ever wondered about the man behind the stage curtain, try reading this recent biography.  As in all biographies of Shakespeare much must be speculative.  In this book some material, especially about “the Lost Years,” is controversial.  I am sure you will find this book, based on years of scholarship, will give you plenty to enjoy.

Will in the World: how Shakespeare became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt (Find in our catalog).

Summary:  “ Stephen Greenblatt, the charismatic Harvard professor who “knows more about Shakespeare than Ben Jonson or the Dark Lady did” (John Leonard, Harper’s), has written a biography that enables us to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life; full of drama and pageantry, and also cruelty and danger; could have become the world’s greatest playwright. A young man from the provinces-a man without wealth, connections, or university education-moves to London. In a remarkably short time he becomes the greatest playwright not just of his age but of all time. His works appeal to urban sophisticates and first-time theatergoers; he turns politics into poetry; he recklessly mingles vulgar clowning and philosophical subtlety. How is such an achievement to be explained? Will in the World interweaves a searching account of Elizabethan England with a vivid narrative of the playwright’s life. We see Shakespeare learning his craft, starting a family, and forging a career for himself in the wildly competitive London theater world, while at the same time grappling with dangerous religious and political forces that took less-agile figures to the scaffold. Above all, we never lose sight of the great works-A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, and more-that continue after four hundred years to delight and haunt audiences everywhere. The basic biographical facts of Shakespeare’s life have been known for over a century, but now Stephen Greenblatt shows how this particular life history gave rise to the world’s greatest writer. Bringing together little-known historical facts and little-noticed elements of Shakespeare’s plays, Greenblatt makes inspired connections between the life and the works and deliver “a dazzling and subtle biography” (Richard Lacayo, Time). Readers will experience Shakespeare’s vital plays again as if for the first time, but with greater understanding and appreciation of their extraordinary depth and humanity. A Best Book of the Year: The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2004; Time magazine’s #1 Best Nonfiction Book; A Washington Post Book World Rave ; An Economist Best Book ; A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book; A Christian Science Monitor Best Book; A Chicago Tribune Best Book; A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Best Book ; NPR’s Maureen Corrigan’s Best.”



Finalists for Audie Awards

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Sometimes it’s nice to listen to a book rather than read it.  HCPL has books in many formats.  These are audiobooks on cd nominated for the Audie Awards’ Audiobook of the Year, sponsored by Audio Publishers Association.

American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen and Garden by Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle Obama, Jim Adams, Charlie Brandts, Christeta Comerford, Sam Kass, Bill Yosses and a full cast.



Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini




Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly, narrated by Bill O’Reilly




Pulitzer Prizes for Letters

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes  in the letters categories were announced Monday, April 15. They are:

Fiction: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “”The Orphan Masters Son” follows a young mans journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the worlds most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea. Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother–a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang–and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return. Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didnt know what starving people looked like.” Part breathless thriller, part story of innocence lost, part story of romantic love, “The Orphan Masters Son” is also a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love. A towering literary achievement, “The Orphan Masters Son” ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of todays greatest writers.”

General nonfiction: Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “Arguably the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when he became embroiled in an explosive and deadly case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life. In 1949, Floridas orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor. To maintain order and profits, they turned to Willis V. McCall, a violent sheriff who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old Groveland girl cried rape, McCall was fast on the trail of four young blacks who dared to envision a future for themselves beyond the citrus groves. By days end, the Ku Klux Klan had rolled into town, burning the homes of blacks to the ground and chasing hundreds into the swamps, hell-bent on lynching the young men who came to be known as “the Groveland Boys.” And so began the chain of events that would bring Thurgood Marshall, the man known as “Mr. Civil Rights,” into the deadly fray. Associates thought it was suicidal for him to wade into the “Florida Terror” at a time when he was irreplaceable to the burgeoning civil rights movement, but the lawyer would not shrink from the fight–not after the Klan had murdered one of Marshalls NAACP associates involved with the case and Marshall had endured continual threats that he would be next. Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBIs unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACPs Legal Defense Fund files, King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader, setting his rich and driving narrative against the heroic backdrop of a case that U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson decried as “one of the best examples of one of the worst menaces to American justice.”"

History: Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “The struggle for Vietnam occupies a central place in the history of the twentieth century. Fought over a period of three decades, the conflict drew in all the world’s powers and saw two of them–first France, then the United States–attempt to subdue the revolutionary Vietnamese forces. For France, the defeat marked the effective end of her colonial empire, while for America the war left a gaping wound in the body politic that remains open to this day. How did it happen? Tapping into newly accessible diplomatic archives in several nations and making full use of the published literature, distinguished scholar Fredrik Logevall traces the path that led two Western nations to lose their way in Vietnam. Embers of War opens in 1919 at the Versailles Peace Conference, where a young Ho Chi Minh tries to deliver a petition for Vietnamese independence to President Woodrow Wilson. It concludes in 1959, with a Viet Cong ambush on an outpost outside Saigon and the deaths of two American officers whose names would be the first to be carved into the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In between come years of political, military, and diplomatic maneuvering and miscalculation, as leaders on all sides embark on a series of stumbles that makes an eminently avoidable struggle a bloody and interminable reality. Logevall takes us inside the councils of war–and gives us a seat at the conference tables where peace talks founder. He brings to life the bloodiest battles of France’s final years in Indochina–and shows how from an early point, a succession of American leaders made disastrous policy choices that put America on its own collision course with history: Harry Truman’s fateful decision to reverse Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s policy and acknowledge France’s right to return to Indochina after World War II; Dwight Eisenhower’s strenuous efforts to keep Paris in the fight and his escalation of U.S. involvement in the aftermath of the humiliating French defeat at Dien Bien Phu; and the curious turnaround in Senator John F. Kennedy’s thinking that would lead him as president to expand that commitment, despite his publicly stated misgivings about Western intervention in Southeast Asia. An epic story of wasted opportunities and tragic miscalculations, featuring an extraordinary cast of larger-than-life characters, Embers of War delves deep into the historical record to provide hard answers to the unanswered questions surrounding the demise of one Western power in Vietnam and the arrival of another. This book will become the definitive chronicle of the struggle’s origins for years to come.”

Biography: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “Born to a black slave mother and a fugitive white French nobleman in present-day Haiti, Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but then made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy.”

Poetry: Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “In this wise and intimate new book, Sharon Olds tells the story of a divorce, embracing strands of love, sex, sorrow, memory, and new freedom. As she carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending, Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love’s sight; the surprising physical bond that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband’s smile to the set of his hip; the radical change in her sense of place in the world. Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and who now loves another woman. As she writes in the remarkable “Stag’s Leap,” “When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up. Even when it’s I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver.” Olds’s propulsive poetic line and the magic of her imagery are as lively as ever, and there is a new range to the music–sometimes headlong, sometimes contemplative and deep. Her unsparing approach to both pain and love makes this one of the finest, most powerful books of poetry she has yet given us.”


Dead Wrong by Connie Dial

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Dead Wrong by Connie Dial (Find in our catalog).  I read this book as an Advance Reader’s Copy.  It will be coming out any minute now.  Put your holds on to get your copy asap.  Josie Corsino, Captain of the LAPD Hollywood station is finding to her chagrin that as a career police officer and administrator she can’t have it all.  At home she is becoming impatient and distant with her husband and her unmotivated son.  Although she wants to keep her family together, she’s unwilling to curtail the demands of her job to make time for the demands of home.  Truth be told, she is also unwilling to give up the thrill and cameraderie of police work for the demands of her position as leader of the Hollywood station, one of the most busy in LAPD.  If she did not constantly involve herself in ongoing investigations and hang on to her after-hours bonding sessions with her ex-colleagues, she might have more time for her family.

Captain Corsino’s loyalty to her subordinates is unquestioned, so that when one of her sergeants fatally shoots another cop she immediately involves herself in the enquiry.  Was the shooting justified, or did Sergeant Richards have another reason for targeting the victim?  Before the question can be answered there’s another murder in Hollywood, linked to the shooting and for which Richards appears the most likely suspect.  Josie joins forces with the homicide detective to help solve the murder and discovers corrupt cops thriving in her own station.

If you like police procedurals you will love this one.  The author herself rose through the ranks of LAPD, becoming commander of the Hollywood Community Police Station.  Her pages are filled with a sense of real cops doing authentic police work.  Her characters, too, are real and engaging:  despite her self-destructive behavior you will enjoy Captain Corsino and her friendships with her fellow cops.


Book to Movie – The Great Gatsby

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

There are two new novels coming out about Zelda Fitzgerald that tie in very nicely with the forthcoming May 10 release of the film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The tormented union between the alcoholic literary genius F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, the charismatic, unstable former Alabama debutante Zelda Sayre has long fascinated writers: was she the muse who ultimately destroyed Fitzgerald, or his victim whose talent he exploited?

Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (Find this book in our catalog).  Summary: “ “I wish I could tell everyone who thinks we’re ruined, Look closer; and you’ll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed.” When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel-and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera-where they jointhe endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous-sometimes infamous-husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it.”

Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck (Find this book in our catalog).  Summary: ” “Everything in the ward seemed different now, and I no longer felt its calming presence. The Fitzgeralds stirred something in me that had been dormant for a long time, and I was not prepared to face it . . .”  From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity. When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, the famous writer, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard. Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda’s most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius. But in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended . . .” Readers Guide Included


Roger Ebert Dies

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Film critic and author of several books, Roger Ebert, died April 4.  In 2011, after treatments for thyroid cancer took away his ability to speak, he published a memoir, Life Itself (Find in our catalog).

Summary:  “Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades, including twenty-three years as co-host of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies. In 2006, complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, or speak. But with the loss of his voice, Ebert has only become a more prolific and influential writer. And now, for the first time, he tells the full, dramatic story of his life and career. Roger Ebert’s journalism carried him on a path far from his nearly idyllic childhood in Urbana, Illinois. It is a journey that began as a reporter for his local daily, and took him to Chicago, where he was unexpectedly given the job of film critic for theSun-Times, launching a lifetime’s adventures. In this candid, personal history, Ebert chronicles it all: his loves, losses, and obsessions; his struggle and recovery from alcoholism; his marriage; his politics; and his spiritual beliefs. He writes about his years at the Sun-Times, his colorful newspaper friends, and his life-changing collaboration with Gene Siskel. He remembers his friendships with Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, Oprah Winfrey, and Russ Meyer (for whom he wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and an ill-fated Sex Pistols movie). He shares his insights into movie stars and directors like John Wayne, Werner Herzog, and Martin Scorsese. This is a story that only Roger Ebert could tell. Filled with the same deep insight, dry wit, and sharp observations that his readers have long cherished, this is more than a memoir-it is a singular, warm-hearted, inspiring look at life itself. “I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” -from LIFE ITSELF”