Archive for July, 2013

Malavita by Tonino Benacquista

Monday, July 29th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog)  Fred & Maggie Blake & their two teenagers are relocated to France as part of the witness protection program.  Fred tells locals he is a writer, but really he is Giovanni Manzoni, a “made man” with a bounty on his head. However, he decides to write his memoirs, Maggie volunteers with local charities & their son & daughter try to get on at school. Through his writing Fred explores & considers his life in organized crime, Maggie tries to atone for his & her previous life, & the children discover how restricted their lives are when they have to keep the family secrets. Farcical scenarios & mayhem ensue as the family tries to live a normal live without knowing how to.

Look for the movie

  • The Family, September 2013. English-language French film co-written by Tonino Benacquista and directed by Luc Besson, starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, and Dianna Agron.
Posted by Julia

Literary Fiction

Friday, July 26th, 2013

These three forthcoming literary fiction titles are garnering a lot of favorable attention.

The Returned by Jason Mott (Find in our catalog).  “Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep – flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.” – (Harlequin)

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (Find in our catalog).  “Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.” – (Penguin Putnam)

Someone by Alice McDermott (Find in our catalog).  “An ordinary life—its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion—lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott’s extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections—of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age—come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott’s deft, lyrical voice.

Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an “amadan,” a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermott’s novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.

Marie’s first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brother’s brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents’ deaths; the births and lives of Marie’s children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn—McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight. This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today.” – (McMillan Palgrave)


Pritzker Military Writing Winner

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Tim O’Brien has won the 2013 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.  Sponsored by the Tawani Foundation, the $100,000 literature award will be presented at the Library’s annual gala on November 16.

O’Brien’s works include:

If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, a candid view of the American military establishment and the Vietnam conflict as witnessed by a foot soldier in the late sixties.




The Things They Carried, a novel in which heroic young men carry the emotional weight of their lives to war in Vietnam.






The Rathbones – a Seafaring Story for Summer

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

The Rathbones by Janice Clark (Find this book in our catalog).

A gothic, literary adventure set in New England, Janice Clark’s haunting debut chronicles one hundred years of a once prosperous and now crumbling whaling family, told by its last surviving member, Mercy Rathbone.

This is what it says about The Rathbones in our catalog:  “ Mercy Rathbone, fifteen years old, is the diminutive scion of the Rathbone clan. Her father, the last in the beleaguered dynasty, has been lost at sea for seven years – ever since the last whale was seen off the coast of Naiwayonk, Connecticut. Mercy’s memories of her father grow dimmer each day, and she spends most of her time in the attic hideaway of her reclusive uncle Mordecai, who teaches her the secrets of Greek history and nautical navigation through his collection of specimens and moldering books. But when a strange, violent visitor turns up one night, Mercy and Mordecai are forced to flee the crumbling mansion and set sail on a journey that will bring them deep into the haunted history of the Rathbone family, and the reasons for its undoing.

As Mercy and Mordecai sail from island to island off the Connecticut coast, encountering dangers and mysteries, friends and foes, they untangle the knots of the Rathbone story, discovering secrets long encased in memory. They learn the history of the family’s founder and patriarch, Moses Rathbone, and the legendary empire he built of ships staffed with the sons of his many, many wives. Sons who stumbled in their father’s shadow, distracted by the arrival of the Stark sisters, a trio of “golden” girls, whose mesmerizing beauty may have sparked the Rathbone’s decline.

From the depths of the sea to the lonely heights of the widow’s walk; from the wisdom of the worn Rathbone wives to the mysterious origins of a sinking island, Mercy and Mordecai’s journey will bring them to places they never thought possible. But will they piece together a possible future from the mistakes of the past, or is the once great family’s fate doomed to match that of the whales themselves?

Inspired by The Odyssey by way of Edgar Allan Poe and Moby Dick, The Rathbones is an ambitious, mythic, and courageous tour de force that marks the debut of a dazzling new literary voice.” – (Random House, Inc.)


Another Hot Pick

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (Find in our catalog).  “The sequel you’ve been waiting for: the follow-up to the sensational #1 bestseller The Devil Wears Prada.  Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job “a million girls would die for” working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine—a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a highend bridal magazine. The Plunge has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish. Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her heart’s content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro. Even better, Andy has met the love of her life. Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple. Andy Sachs is on top of the world. But karma’s a bitch. The morning of her wedding, Andy can’t shake the past. And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread. Andy realizes that nothing—not her husband, nor her beloved career—is as it seems. She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago—and directly into the path of the devil herself…” – (Simon and Schuster)



Jen’s Jewels with Julia Heaberlin

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

In the next month or so, many families will be sending a young person off to college for the first time. Part of this process will involve packing up his or her belongings and shopping for the oh-so-perfect accessories for the dorm room. Amid the goodbye tears, the thought of newfound freedom sends these college freshmen along their way. Yet oftentimes, parents neglect to inform their children of the dangers associated with college life such as date rape. Just a five minute talk could make all the difference in the world.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Julia Heaberlin addresses this very topic in her latest release, Lie Still. It’s the story of Emily Page, a victim of college date rape. Now as an adult, she is happily married and expecting her first child. When she and her husband relocate to Clairmont, Texas, Emily is hopeful for a fresh start. However, when the queen bee of the Texan socialites is reported missing, it brings back haunting memories of a past Emily thought she had left behind.

As part of this interview, Random House Publishing has generously donated five copies for you, my 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 by visiting my website, follow me on Facebook, Twitter @JenniferVido, and Pinterest Jennifer Vido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your summer reading adventure.

Jen: As the acclaimed author of Playing Dead, you are known for writing intense thrillers. 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.

Julia: I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism, um, a while ago. My first job was as a copy editor/reporter at a paper in South Dakota where I worked night shifts and nearly died in various blizzards. It was hell for a Texas girl. I lived in a basement apartment managed by a very nosy 82-year-old, and grass grew out of the carpet in my bathroom. The line at work was: “Julie’s going home to mow her bathroom.” In those two years, I paid a lot of painful dues—after that I managed lifestyle and entertainment coverage at the Rochester Times-Union, The Detroit News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I also did a stint at The Dallas Morning News. Eight years ago, I quit editing and decided to pursue my dream of writing novels. But I can’t completely let go of journalism and still free-lance pieces here and there on people who particularly fascinate me.

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

Julia: There really wasn’t one. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I had a profound story to tell. In my case, I needed life experience—writing, editing and peering into people’s crazy souls. Journalism taught me that good writing is not always about pretty sentences. It’s primarily about point of view and interesting content—the ability to listen and to tell a story simply and powerfully. I hired a talented writer whose unusual newspaper writing style was a prime example of this. In the job interview, he told me that his parents worked in the coal mines of Virginia and that he grew up around adults with eighth-grade educations who didn’t read much more than the daily newspaper. He thought these smart, hard-working people shouldn’t be cheated out of emotional, literary experiences and deserved stories that didn’t talk down to them. It was one of the best answers I ever got to an interview question.

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?

Julia: About eight months. And then at least three more months fiddling and rewriting after my editor, husband and agent bluntly point out what parts they don’t like. The most challenging aspect of writing for me is applying my butt to the chair every day whether I feel like it or not. That, and limiting my Dr. Pepper consumption.

Jen: Lie Still is a truly engrossing psychological thriller depicting the emotional journey of Emily Page, a woman with dark secrets to hide. How did you arrive at the premise?

I wrote this book while my first novel, Playing Dead, was being pounded by rejection after rejection from New York’s major publishing houses. So I was in a bit of a dark place. At my agent’s urging to start a second book anyway, I sat down to write with nothing but a vague concept of a club of Southern women with black hearts. I was frankly surprised when my protagonist’s first words were about a date rape in college. But I rolled with it because Emily had a lot to say on the topic. I’m not one of those writers who follow an organized outline (and readers who have dipped into my books know this well!). I let the characters discover the story. I try to weave many threads so that readers are unsure of what is coming, but not so confused that they are irritated by the end of the book! I love a mystery that I can’t figure out. So that’s always a primary goal.

Jen: In terms of Emily’s husband Mike, how has their recent relocation to Clairmont, Texas affected their relationship?

Julia: Emily arrives in Clairmont vulnerable in all kinds of ways: She’s pregnant after a number of miscarriages. She’s lugging around a heavy load of secrets. She’s experiencing loss of identity after quitting a high-powered job in New York and moving to a small town in Texas. She thinks a stalker from her past has returned. And she’s been transplanted to a strange and very hot planet. She wants to rely on Mike, but there are so many reasons why she feels that she can’t.

Jen: Like any new transplant, Emily is in search of her niche among the local social circles. When Caroline, the queen bee among the wealthy Texan socialites, invites her to a cozy gathering, how does Emily’s presence cause tension among the group?

Julia: Well, she’s from New York! Many Southern girls will admit that’s an intimidation factor all on its own. Why we feel this way has to go back to the Civil War or something. But the glittery, snake-eyed women in the book are always looking out for themselves. Any intruder they consider competition—smart, pretty, sure of herself—would get the same kind of treatment.

Jen: The cast of quirky socialites brings rich drama and flair to the story. Three in particular stand out. Letty, the former beauty queen turned frumpy housewife, vehemently questions Emily’s past. What is the root of her disdain?

Julia: Isn’t jealousy and insecurity the root of most disdain? A desire to make yourself feel better, in control, when inside you are shrinking away? I don’t know a person like Letty in real life: a slightly racist ex-pageant queen on a hot dog and banana diet who carries an assault rifle in the trunk of her car. But I would like to know her and get to the root of her problems. She makes me laugh. The reasons for her insane behavior, how she redeems herself, are complicated and somewhat beyond me.

Jen: Misty leads a colorful life with an uber rich husband who is never around. Why does Emily seek out her friendship?

Julia: There is an immediate, intangible connection. A sense that something dark lives inside both of them. And Misty feels like an outsider in this town as well.

Jen: When Caroline mysteriously disappears, her trusting maid Maria confides in Emily. What sparks this peculiar pairing?

Julia: Well, Emily is at heart a nice person, who would rather hang out with the Marias of the world than the Carolines. And the worried, revengeful Maria badly needs help. I think it’s that simple.

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.

Julia: Besides the basic facts about my books, career and appearances, I offer links to a few personal essays and stories I’ve written (on the Who I Am page). There is also a Book Club Primer page for those interested in reading and discussing Playing Dead or Lie Still.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for your readers to keep abreast of the latest news.

Julia: My Facebook author page ( is where I post the most recent news and go back and forth with readers. I also update my website ( regularly. I don’t blog. I tweet occasionally. If I’ve realized anything, it’s that The Book Is The Thing. I have a finite amount of creativity in me every day and a finite amount of interesting things to spout off about. If I don’t deliver a good book every single time, no one is going to want to hear what I have to say anyway.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?

Julia: Yes! My third novel for Random House is a psychological/forensic thriller called Black-Eyed Susans. It’s the story of a woman found at 16, barely alive, with a skittish memory, dumped with a pile of unidentified bones and a dead girl in a field of Texas wildflowers. The book travels back and forth in time, from the angry teen-age girl trying to regain her memory to the woman she becomes, still seeking answers. Last year, I profiled one of the world’s best forensic scientists, Rhonda Roby, an Oklahoma girl, who worked intensely and compassionately on identifying victims out of the dust at 9-11. She’s agreed to consult with me for Lie Still on the DNA science and the ugly, frustrating world of missing people. But at its heart, this will be an emotional novel full of my usual: an eccentric cast of characters with a boatload of secrets.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved Lie Still. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects, and happy summer!

Julia: Thank you for those kind words and for providing this forum! One last thing: If readers take anything of substance away from Lie Still, I hope it’s that they get their daughters to take at least a rudimentary self-defense class before going to college. Date rape is definitely not a thing of the past. There is still so much shame and confusion involved, and often no game plan when bad situations inevitably arise. We need to give our girls a game plan, and hope they never have to use it.

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Julia Heaberlin. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Lie Still 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 Emily’s two friends in Lie Still?

In August, I will be bringing you my interview with Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…happy summer!

Books to TV – Cedar Grove

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Actress Andie MacDowell will star as Judge Olivia Lockhart in the upcoming Hallmark TV series, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove, based on the series of best selling books set in a small town in Washington state.

Three books in the series were re-released in May in preparation for the two-hour TV premiere which airs July 20 :

204 Rosewood Lane (Find in our catalog).  “Grace, a seemingly reserved librarian, shows the town of Cedar Cove what she is truly made of when her husband mysteriously vanishes, forcing her to call upon her inner strength and courage to help her two daughters deal with his disappearance.”



16 Lighthouse Road (Find in our catalog).  “Family court judge Olivia Lockhart becomes front page news when she refuses to grant a divorce to a naval officer and his wife after the the death of their baby, and discovers the lives of her family and friends to be increasingly complex.” – (Baker & Taylor)



311 Pelican Court (Find in our catalog).  “Follows Rosie and Jack Cox in Cedar Cove, Washington, who must come to terms with their divorce, as well as their unusual custody arrangement, and learn the true meaning of love, family, and community.” – (Baker & Taylor)



Check our catalog for other books in the Cedar Cove series.


Hot Picks for Hot Days

Monday, July 15th, 2013

The King’s Deceptionby Steve Berry (Find in our catalog).  This is what it says about the book in our catalog:  “Cotton Malone is back! Steve Berry’s new international adventure blends gripping contemporary political intrigue, Tudor treachery, and high-octane thrills into one riveting novel of suspense.

Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his former boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. But after he is greeted at gunpoint in London, both the fugitive and Gary disappear, and Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown—an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.

At its heart is the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103, who is set to be released by Scottish authorities for “humanitarian reasons.”  An outraged American government objects, but nothing can persuade the British to intervene. Except, perhaps, Operation King’s Deception.

Run by the CIA, the operation aims to solve a centuries-old mystery, one that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.  Blake Antrim, the CIA operative in charge of King’s Deception, is hunting for the spark that could rekindle a most dangerous fire, the one thing that every Irish national has sought for generations: a legal reason why the English must leave Northern Ireland. The answer is a long-buried secret that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire forty-five-year reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized much of its land. But Antrim also has a more personal agenda, a twisted game of revenge in which Gary is a pawn. With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone is caught in a lethal bind. To save Gary he must play one treacherous player against another—and only by uncovering the incredible truth can he hope to prevent the shattering consequences of the King’s Deception.”


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Friday, July 12th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog).

Harold Fry is the most ordinary of men. He leads a humdrum existence where he appears to be estranged from his son, & he & his wife sleep in separate rooms with little communication between them. One day, however, he receives a letter that changes his life. An old friend & ex-colleague writes to say she is dying of cancer. Harold decides to write back but when he goes to the post box, he just keeps going & begins a pilgrimage that takes him from the south west of England to the far north east where Queenie is in a hospice. On the way Harold meets some interesting characters & goes through a personal transformation. Back home, his wife also begins to examine her life. Although, initially, quite a slow-paced story, it picks up, with some surprises & insight not only into the main characters but those around them. This is a different book for those looking for a thoughtful & entertaining read.

Read more about the author at

Find Information about the author’s new book, Perfect  at

A Daily Mail article about Rachel & her father, who died of cancer.–real-hero-novel-win-Booker.html

This was the Abingdon Book Group read for July.

Posted by Julia

Top Book Club Picks in June

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The following were the most popular book club books during June based on votes from more than 80,000 book club readers from more than 35,000 book clubs registered at

1. The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M.L. Stedman

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom

5. Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay

6. The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

7. Beautiful Ruins: A Novel  by Jess Walter

8. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

9. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

10. And the Mountains Echoed: A Novel by Khaled Hosseini