Archive for June, 2013

Another Great Summer Read

Friday, June 28th, 2013

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Find in our catalog). ”

Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she’s managed to block a lot of memories. She’s smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, “Rosemary” truly is for remembrance.”(Penguin Putnam)




Your Next Great Summer Read

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Looking for Me: A Novel by Beth Hoffman (Find in our catalog). “Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop. Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky. It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family?and to find herself at last. But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

Looking for Me brilliantly melds together themes of family, hope, loss, and a mature once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. The result is a tremendously moving story that is destined to make bestselling author Beth Hoffman a novelist to whom readers will return again and again as they have with Adriana Trigiani, Fannie Flagg, and Joshilyn Jackson.”

- (Penguin Putnam)




Big Read of the Summer?

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Philipp Meyer’s second novel, The Son (Find this book in our catalog) has been a big success with critics and  arrived on the NYT hardcover best seller list during its first week on sale.  According to The Wall Street Journal, the book is “positioned to be the big literary read of the summer.”  Check it out and see if you agree!

Here’s what it says about the book in our catalog:  “Spring, 1849. The first male child born in the newly established Republic of Texas, Eli McCullough is thirteen years old when a marauding band of Comanches storms his homestead and brutally murders his mother and sister, taking him captive. Brave and clever, Eli quickly adapts to life among the Comanches, learning their ways and language, answering to a new name, becoming the chief’s adopted son, and waging war against their enemies, including white men — which complicates his sense of loyalty and understanding of who he is. But when disease, starvation, and overwhelming numbers of armed Americans decimate the tribe, Eli finds himself alone. Neither white nor Indian, civilized nor fully wild, he must carve a place for himself in a world in which he does not fully belong … ”





Orange is the New Black

Monday, June 24th, 2013

A trailer has been released for Orange Is the New Black, a Netflix original series adapted from the memoir, Orange Is the New Black: my year in a women’s prison, by Piper Kerman (Find the book in our catalog). Netflix debuts the entire 13-episode first season on July 11. The cast includes Taylor Schilling, Jason Biggs, Michelle Hurst and Kate Mulgrew.

Here’s what it says about the memoir in our catalog:  “When Piper Kerman was sent to prison for a ten-year-old crime, she barely resembled the reckless young woman she’d been when, shortly after graduating Smith College, she’d committed the misdeeds that would eventually catch up with her. Happily ensconced in a New York City apartment, with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend, she was suddenly forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking.

Kerman spent thirteen months in prison, eleven of them at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, where she met a surprising and varied community of women living under exceptional circumstances. In Orange Is the New Black, Kerman tells the story of those long months locked up in a place with its own codes of behavior and arbitrary hierarchies, where a practical joke is as common as an unprovoked fight, and where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated.

Revealing, moving, and enraging, Orange Is the New Black offers a unique perspective on the criminal justice system, the reasons we send so many people to prison, and what happens to them when they’re there.” (Random House, Inc.)


British Authors Garner Queen’s Birthday Honors

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Three British authors well-known and loved by readers both sides of the pond have been recognized in the Queen’s Birthday honors List for their “services to literature,”  according to the Bookseller.  Receiving the OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) are  Kate Mosse, who co-founded the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and  Jackie Collins. Chocolat author Joanne Harris received an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).

Click on an author’s name to go to a list of their books in our catalog.


June is for Weddings

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

A HIGHLAND WEREWOLF WEDDING by Terry Spear.  “After werewolves Elaine Hawthorn and Cearnach MacNeill almost have a head-on collision on a foggy Highland road, they’re pretty well stuck with each other. It’ll be hours before anyone can get there to pull his car out of the ditch and they both have better places to be. The sexy little American brings out all of Cearnach’s big bag protective instincts. If she thought she was in trouble before, Elaine has no idea what kind of complications a hot Scot can cause” (cover)



After enduring a chaotic childhood, Emily McKellips yearns for a drama-free life, complete with a white picket fence. Her dreams are about to come true: She has a stellar career, a gorgeous house, and a fiancé any woman would die for. But as friends and family arrive in picturesque Valentine, Vermont, for her wedding, an uninvited guest shows up.

Ryan is Emily’s first husband from a disastrous starter marriage. They wed on a whim, only to discover that combustible chemistry couldn’t ensure a happily ever after. But Ryan is no longer the headstrong boy she left behind. He’s now a successful film producer who just happens to be scouting a resort in Valentine with his adorable retriever in tow.

As the bridesmaids revolt and the mothers of the bride and groom do battle, Emily is surprised to discover new sides of both her ex and her fiancé. She thought she had life and love all figured out, but the next seven days might change her mind—and her heart.” – (Penguin Putnam).

THE LOOK OF LOVE by Mary Jane Behrends.  “New York Times bestseller Mary Jane Clark introduced readers to professional wedding cake decorator and amateur sleuth Piper Donavan in her acclaimed mystery novel To Have and To Kill. Piper’s back in The Look of Love, on cake creating assignment at a West Coast luxury spa for the wealthy and famous—where nip and tuck and murder are offered in equal measures. Clark really hits her stride with The Look of Love, providing a winning recipe for delectable mystery that combines chills, twists, humor and often very romantic suspense in the bestselling vein of Mary Higgins Clark, Carol Higgins Clark, Faye Kellerman, Elizabeth Lowell, and Jayne Ann Krentz. She even includes scrumptious pastry recipes and fabulous cake design tips.” (cover)


Shadow Factory

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America by James Bamford (Find in our catalog).  Because of current news events this book and its author has been featured a lot in the media, including June 10, 2013 on PBS News Hour and June 11, 2011 on Morning Edition.  Learn more from our catalog:  “James Bamford exposed the existence of the top-secret National Security Agency in the bestselling The Puzzle Palace and continued to probe into its workings in his follow-up bestseller, Body of Secrets. Now Bamford discloses inside, often shocking information about the transformation of the NSA in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2001.

In THE SHADOW FACTORY, Bamford shows how the NSA’s failure to detect the presence of two of the 9/11 hijackers inside the United States led the NSA to abandon its long-held policy of spying only on enemies outside the country. Instead, after 9/11 it turned its almost limitless ability to listen in on friend and foe alike over to the Bush Administration to use as a weapon in the war on terror. With unrivaled access to sources and documents, Bamford details how the agency has conducted domestic surveillance without court approval, and he frames it in the context of the NSA’s ongoing hunt for information about today’s elusive enemies.

THE SHADOW FACTORY is a riveting read for anyone concerned about civil liberties and America’s security in the post-9/11 world.” – (Random House, Inc.)



World War Z – book to movie

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Brad Pitt’s movie World War Z premiered in New York last night.  The movie is adapted from the novel, World War Z: an oral history of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (Find in our catalog).

From our catalog:  “The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”


Jen’s Jewels with Meg Donohue

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Rekindling friendships with old childhood friends often happens in the summertime months. Returning to a favorite vacation destination or a much-loved summer home evokes certain special memories. Whether it’s a favorite ice cream shop or the distinct smell of the ocean breeze, revisiting the past has a way of making us appreciate the present. Yet, sometimes unfortunate events from days gone by tend to cloud our memories barring us from seeing the good that may lie ahead.  

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Meg Donohue addresses this very topic in her latest release, All the Summer Girls. It’s the story of three childhood friends who come back to their summer retreat in Avalon in hopes of reconnecting. Each is struggling with personal issues linked to a tragic event from years past that changed their lives forever. Set on the beautiful beaches of the Jersey Shore, this moving story of friendship, betrayal, and the power of forgiveness is the perfect summertime read while relaxing on the sandy beaches of the seashore.         

As part of this interview, William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collin Publishers, 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 of the column. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by  or follow me on Facebook or Twitter @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsa part of your reading adventure.       


Jen: As a bestselling author, you have made a name for yourself in the publishing business with your noteworthy reads. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Meg: I studied comparative literature and art history at Dartmouth College and then worked in publishing in New York (at a literary agency) for a couple of years before entering the MFA program at Columbia University. After graduate school, I worked for about five years as a freelance writer and editor, including a stint as a resume writer. I did just about every job out there that would pay me to write.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Meg: My editor at HarperCollins is a friend of mine, and at some point we had a conversation about how a cupcake bakery would make a great setting for a novel—and I thought Yes! I want to do that. I wrote an outline, and once I saw the plot detailed in that way—parceled out in manageable, chapter-size pieces—the whole enterprise became very real. That outline gave me the confidence to forge ahead, to have faith in the process, and to regain momentum whenever I faltered. That book became my debut, How to Eat a Cupcake.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?  
Meg: How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls each took about a year to write. And then there were additional months spent revising with the feedback from my editor and agent in mind. The most challenging part of the process is always those days when the writing feels sticky, like the good sentences just won’t come—and that happens more than I’d like to admit! I think a lot of writing is having the determination to stick with it through those bad days and know that there will better ones ahead. The bad writing can and will be revised (or deleted) down the line.

Jen: All the Summer Girls is a powerful novel depicting the emotional journey of three childhood friends who rekindle their friendship one summer in Avalon, New Jersey. How did you arrive at the premise?
Meg: I live in San Francisco but grew up in Philadelphia, spending time each summer in the beach town of Avalon, New Jersey. I’ve had a lot of trouble getting used to the summers here in San Francisco. They’re cold and often foggy—completely different from the muggy, salty, beloved summers of my youth. I found myself thinking a lot about the East Coast summers—the feelings that summer evokes both in children and adults—and the plot for All the Summer Girls spun out of those thoughts.

Jen: Let’s start by introducing the three main characters to my readers. Kate, a successful attorney, is at a crossroad in life when her fiancé breaks off their engagement, and she then discovers she is pregnant. How do these unexpected turns of events cause her to reexamine the choices she has made in the past?        
Meg: Without revealing too much, I can say that Kate has been deeply affected by the death of her twin brother eight years ago. She was already a fairly disciplined, goal-oriented person before his death, but after losing him she found herself needing to maintain an extraordinary level of control over every aspect of her life. It’s this need for control that concerns her fiancé, and that makes Kate feel as though her life is falling apart when he breaks up with her and she realizes she is pregnant. Nothing is going as she planned, and that is terrifying for her. But in the end, these unexpected events also offer her a way out of her own self-defeating habits—she has no choice but to let go a little, and to finally face the fears she has been both clinging to and burying for years.

Jen: Vanessa, a well-to-do wife and mother of a toddler, feels disconnected with her husband when issues of infidelity surface. When she voices her fears over the uncertainty of her marital future to Kate and Dani, how does the dynamic of the friendship change?   
Meg: Kate and Dani were both under the impression that Vanessa was happy with the direction of her life, and so they are startled to learn the truth that Vanessa has been keeping from them. But her honesty and vulnerability allow them to feel closer to her, and the revelation of Vanessa’s husband’s infidelity becomes one of many dominoes in a chain of revelations over the course of the July 4th weekend they spend together.  

Jen: Dani, a free-spirit with addiction tendencies, struggles with self-confidence issues which affect her professional and personal life. How does her unstable relationship with her divorced parents affect her interaction with Kate and Vanessa?
Meg: Dani’s childhood was far from perfect, and because of this Kate and Vanessa were always more like family than friends to her. In terms of family, Dani is sort of on her own, and she really needs Kate and Vanessa. That makes it hard for her to be honest with them all of the time—she’s afraid that if she is honest she will push them away and she will lose everything, because they’re all she has.

Jen: Without giving too much of the storyline away….after spending the summer together, how do the girls now feel about their New Jersey beach town of Avalon?
Meg: Kate’s brother died in Avalon, and so the place is haunted for them. Still, when they find themselves back there, together on the island for the first time since the summer Colin died, they can’t help but find that a lot of wonderful, joyful memories surface along with the more devastating ones. Their feelings about the town are complicated, layered, and ever shifting.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.  
Meg: I try to keep my website as streamlined as possible. Right now there is a bio page, a page for each of my books with synopses and reviews, an events page where I detail upcoming readings and signings, and a blog that I don’t update as much as I probably should. I also have form to allow readers to sign up for my newsletter, which I only send out a few times each year.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for your readers to keep abreast of the latest news.
Meg: I am on Facebook ( and Twitter (@megdonohue)—which is probably why I don’t update my site’s blog all that often. It’s become more natural for me to connect with readers and announce information on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, I spend far too much time on both! So come find me there, and we’ll chat more.

Jen: Any chance for a sequel? And, are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?
Meg: I’m not working on a sequel to All the Summer Girls now, but I wouldn’t mind reconnecting with those characters at some point…so maybe there will be a sequel of sorts somewhere down the line! It’s not in the works, but it’s also not out of the realm of possibility. I was quite sad to leave them when I wrote their final chapters. I’m in the early stages of another book right now so I can’t say too much just yet as I’m still working it all out in my head and on the page…but I will say it’s a novel that explores the healing power of the relationships between humans and dogs, and it’s set, once again, in the atmospheric fog of San Francisco.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved All the Summer Girls. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects, and happy summer!
Meg: Thank you, Jen! I’m so happy to hear you loved All the Summer Girls. Thank you for these thoughtful questions, and for having me here. I hope you and your readers will stay in touch!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Meg Donohue. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of All the Summer Girls today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, be one of the first five readers to email me at with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win!

What are the names of the three friends in All the Summer Girls?

In July, I will be bringing you my interview with Julia Heaberlin, author of Lie Still. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…happy reading!

Books to TV – The White Queen

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Philippa Gregory’s novels in The Cousins’ War series, set during England’s War of the Roses, have been adapted into a ten-part tv series that will premiere on STARZ cable network on August 10th. Titled The White Queen, the BBC/STARZ production is based on the first three books of the series.

Three formidable women had key roles in the dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses.  Jacquetta of Luxembourg was Henry VIII’s great-grandmother. The staunch Lancastrian made her peace with Yorkist Edward IV when he seized power and saw her fortunes soar after he married her daughter Elizabeth Woodville. But later her second husband and their son were executed by the rebel leader earl of Warwick, who tried Jacquetta for witchcraft. Jacquetta’s plucky daughter, Elizabeth Woodville, was Henry VIII’s grandmother.  She did her utmost to secure the throne for her son Edward and may have been involved in a rebellion against son-in-law Henry. Margaret Beaufort was mother of Henry VII.  A formidable plotter, her personal piety never interfered with her ambition for her son—who became king despite a tenuous claim to the throne.  Said author Philippa Gregory, “I think people are going to be surprised to see these remarkably powerful women when traditional history tells you female were simply relegated to be victims or wives or mothers.”

The books in the whole series are:

The White Queen.  “In this account of the wars of the Plantagenets, a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition, Elizabeth Woodville, catches the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown.”

The Red Queen.  “Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret Beaufort is determined to turn her lonley life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, England, and even her son. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances and secret plots, always with her ultimate goal before her.”

The Lady of the Rivers.  “When the death of Joan of Arc shows her the dangers faced by strong women, Jacquetta, a psychic descendant of a river goddess, studies alchemy and becomes the secret wife of Richard Woodville before returning to the court of Henry VI.”

The Kingmaker’s Daughter.  “”Kingmaker” Richard, Earl of Warwick, uses his daughters as political pawns before their strategic marriages place them on opposing sides in a royal war that will cost them everyone they love.”

The next book in the series, The White Princess, will be released July 23.  “Passionately in love with Richard III in spite of her arranged marriage to pretender to the throne Henry Tudor, Princess Elizabeth of York is forced to marry the man who murdered her lover and create a royal family under the controlling gaze of his mother, Margaret Beaufort.” – (Baker & Taylor)