Archive for August, 2013

A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog)  Jo Donovan owns one of the best literary agencies in New York. While still mourning the loss of her famous author husband, she has completely thrown herself into her work. When she is threatened by a stalker & her clients come under attack, she will discover who her true friends are. This tense & thrilling mystery will keep you guessing as the stakes get higher & everyone comes under suspicion.

A Dangerous Fiction is the first in a new series by Rogan, who is the author of eight novels, including Suspicion & Hindsight. Rogan worked extensively in publishing & is a teacher & lecturer on fiction writing.

“A terrific read! A thriller with a psychological heart of mystery, a double-ended love story, and a fascinating look at the world of high-stakes publishing.”-Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of Outlander and An Echo in the Bone

Posted by Julia


The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog) This beautifully written, warm & quirky book is both uplifting & heartwarming. It begins with seventeen year old Alex being stopped at customs with an urn full of ashes on his car’s passenger seat & some marijuana in the glove compartment. The story that follows relates how events in Alex’s life led up to that moment, including him being hit on the head by a meteorite when he was ten & his relationship with a Vietnam veteran.  It is told from his point of view & the style is reminiscent of the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. It is a coming of age story with a twist & will appeal to any reader who enjoys good writing. Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2013: Quirky only begins to describe this incredibly touching tale of an epileptic British misfit science geek who befriends an aging American Vietnam War vet. As the book begins, Alex is a teenage boy, arrested and being questioned by the authorities. What happened? How did he get here? Who is this kid? Do we even like him? Debut novelist Gavin Extence dangles these questions before us, then cleverly leads us backwards in order to answer them. The story (and therefore our journey) starts years before, when young Alex was randomly, life-alteringly struck in the head by a meteorite, rendering him both a scientific celebrity and a school yard outcast. Kurt Vonnegut’s influence is obvious within specific plot points, and is also noticeable in Extence’s writing, where he strikes a balance of describing tragic events with comedic style, wrapping his seriousness within subtle absurdity. Specifically, his attention to bullying is distinct, yet unsanctimonious. By the time we’re back in the interrogation room, our questions about Alex have been well answered, but a bigger question demands our attention: How far would you go for a friend? Robin A. Rothman
Posted by Julia




A Million Years with You

Monday, August 26th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog)  Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is a writer gifted with a broad range, having written anthropological studies of the Ju/wasi of southern Africa, books on the behavior of dogs, cats, and deer; and novels on life in Paleolithic times, as well as numerous articles for magazines and journals such as The New Yorker. She is an ethnographer, animal behaviorist, and novelist. She has traveled far and observed much and written beautifully about it all.   A Million Years with You is a memoir that gives the reader a taste of what a life this iconoclastic woman has lived.

To reinforce her life’s story, she has displayed her recollected life not so much in chronological order as in observations of her world. So a chapter on cats might include how it is that she became drawn to the study of the natural world and the creatures in it, going back to her childhood visits to a museum with her grandmother. Of course, the author also takes us with her to the Kalahari to relate her life among the Ju/wasi and to explain how the Old Way, as she calls it, of these harmless people informed her life from then on. She allows us to share her travels to Nigeria and Uganda in Africa, to Baffin Island in Canada, and back to New Hampshire, her longtime home.

She tells us the dark as well as the joyous, so we learn of her alcoholism, the skiing mishap that nearly killed her son, and her daughter’s trials of recovery after an accident on a tractor. Each experience allows for Thomas to shift us beyond her immediate life’s episode, whether painful or happy, to observations of the world around her. The discovery of a dead doe in her field around her house in New Hampshire, for instance, allows for her to see the wildlife that benefits from that kill and also for her to realize that a cougar has done this, a glorious creature that even the Fish and Game officials claim cannot be. But Thomas discovers this wonderful reality and shares it with us.

If you decide to read this memoir, be certain to read all the way to the very end, even including “Acknowledgments,” since her recollections drift even into her words of thanks to all around her.

D. L. S.

The Daughters of Mars reviewed on NPR

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 24,  on NPR’s Weekend Edition there will be an interview with Thomas Keneally, author of The Daughters of Mars: A Novel  (Find this book in our catalog).

Thomas Keneally is the author of Schindler’s List.  See what it says about this new book in our catalog:

“From the beloved author of Schindler’s List, a magnificent, epic novel of two sisters, both nurses during World War I, that has been hailed as perhaps “the best novel of Keneally’s career” (The Spectator)” (Baker & Taylor)

“Joining the war effort as nurses in 1915, two spirited Australian sisters, carrying a guilty secret, become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger as they serve alongside remarkable women during the first World War.” (Baker & Taylor)

“From the acclaimed author of Schindler’s List comes the epic, unforgettable story of two sisters whose lives are transformed by the cataclysm of the First World War.

IN 1915, Naomi and Sally Durance, two spirited Australian sisters, join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Though they are used to tending the sick, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first on a hospital ship near Gallipoli, then on the Western Front.

Yet amid the carnage, the sisters become the friends they never were at home and find them­selves courageous in the face of extreme danger and also the hostility from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humor, and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of the remarkable women they serve alongside. In France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccen­tric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their newfound independence—if only they all survive.

At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings World War I vividly to life from an uncommon perspec­tive. Thomas Keneally has written a remarkable novel about suffering and transcendence, despair and triumph, and the simple acts of decency that make us human even in a world gone mad.” (Simon and Schuster)


NYTimes Announces Death of Elmore Leonard

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Elmore Leonard, the prolific crime novelist died on Tuesday, August 20 at his home in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, The New York Times announced.  He was 87.  Novels like “Get Shorty,” “Freaky Deaky” and “Glitz” established Leonard as a modern master of American genre writing.

Here is a sampling of Leonard’s works in our catalog.  You can find things to read, listen to and download.  Click on a title to go straight to the catalog.

Get Shorty.  “Filled with his signatures — nerve-shattering suspense, crackling dialogue, scathing wit — Elmore Leonard proves once again why he sets the standard against which all other crime novels are measured. In Get Shorty, he takes a mobster to Hollywood, where the women are gorgeous, the men are corrupt, and making it big isn’t all that different from making your bones: you gotta know who to pitch, who to hit, and how to knock ‘em dead.”



SwagA downloadable eBook from Axis 360 available to Harford County Public Library customers.  “The smallest of small-time criminals, Ernest Stickley Jr. figures his luck’s about to change when Detroit used car salesman Frank Ryan catches him trying to boost a ride from Ryan’s lot. Frank’s got some surefire schemes for getting rich quick—all of them involving guns—and all Stickley has to do is follow “Ryan’s Rules” to share the wealth. But sometimes rules need to be bent, maybe even broken, if one is to succeed in the world of crime, especially if the “brains” of the operation knows less than nothing.”


Road DogsAudiobook on CDs.  “The refined bank robber Jack Foley is back again, along with two other illustrious characters: Dawn Navarro, a gorgeous psychic, and Cuando Rey, a rich Cuban refugee. Here, Foley gets nabbed by the police during a routine robbery and is sentenced to 30 years in prison.”



Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award

Monday, August 19th, 2013

For the second year in a row, Denise Mina won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for Gods and Beasts (Find this book in our catalog), to become the first author to do so. She receives a $4,566 prize and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakstons Old Peculier.

This is what it says about Gods and Beasts in our catalog:  “It’s the week before Christmas when a lone robber bursts into a busy Glasgow post office carrying an AK-47. An elderly man suddenly hands his young grandson to a stranger and wordlessly helps the gunman fill bags with cash, then carries them to the door. He opens the door and bows his head; the robber fires off the AK-47, tearing the grandfather in two. DS Alex Morrow arrives on the scene and finds that the alarm system had been disabled before the robbery. Yet upon investigation, none of the employees can be linked to the gunman. And the grandfather-a life-long campaigner for social justice-is above reproach. As Morrow searches for the killer, she discovers a hidden, sinister political network. Soon it is chillingly clear: no corner of the city is safe, and her involvement will go deeper than she could ever have imagined”– Provided by publisher.


Jen’s Jewels with Jessica Brockmole

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

With our widespread dependence on technology, we tend to forget the comforting nostalgia of receiving a handwritten note in the mail. Whether it’s a simple thank you card or get well wish, the old adage speaks much truth. It’s the thought that counts. Certainly, a love letter is the most cherished of all, especially when distance separates loved ones. Even today, there’s nothing quite like the power of the written word.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Jessica Brockmole touches upon this very issue in her debut novel, Letters from Skye. Set in the beautiful backdrop of Scotland, this poetic love story of Elspeth Dunn spans two world wars on two continents. Recounted through letters between Elspeth and her American admirer David, it’s an unforgettable tale of love and loss. Not surprisingly, this novel has already been sold in more than twenty countries worldwide.

As part of my interview, Ballantine Books, a division of Random House Books, has generously donated five copies for you to win. So, be on the lookout for the trivia question. Winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by, follow me on Facebook, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your summer reading.

Jen: As a debut author, your writing career is just beginning. 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.

Jessica: Although I’d always hoped to end up as a writer one day, my educational background is not in writing. My background does, however, speak to my fascination with language. My degrees are in linguistics and, for a time, I taught reading and writing to second language learners. When my daughter was born, I made the decision to stay at home with her, and it was then that I returned to writing.

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

Jessica: This is a tricky question to answer! I’ve always been a writer (just ask my mom and the box of crayoned stories that she has tucked away). As I mentioned, I decided to try exploring writing more seriously after my daughter was born. I read books on the craft, I tried writing full-length adult novels, and I let myself make mistakes. But even then, I still saw my writing as a hobby rather than a career path. Honestly, it wasn’t until my agent sold Letters from Skye that I finally let my tongue try out the word “author”. Until that moment, despite years of learning and querying and revising, I refused to see writing as anything more than a pastime.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long did it take for you to craft this novel? And, what was the most challenging part of the writing process?

Jessica: The first draft of Letters from Skye was written in ten months, but tweaked here and there over years, as I wrote and queried other novels. Honestly, it’s hard to say what was the most challenging part of the writing process. This was the first novel that I completed, so it was written with the bliss of ignorance.

Jen: Letters from Skye is an emotional journey of a mother and daughter spanning two world wars on two continents. How did you arrive at the premise?

Jessica: In that very first draft, it was more a story about forbidden, complicated love and less a multigenerational journey. Margaret, and all of the family secrets that she uncovers, were added in subsequent drafts. It made sense to have Elspeth’s story discovered and told by someone also looking for love in wartime, and even more sense for that someone to share her story and history.

Jen: How much research was needed in order for this story to ring true with your readers? And, what was the most fascinating tidbit of information you discovered along the way?

Jessica: I try to get myself to a point where I have a confidence and a feel for the era, place, and events in my book. For me, in an epistolary novel, language is vital, and I spent much time researching words and how letter-writers then use them. I read many published collections of letters and amassed my own collection of letters, postcards, and other written material from the era. There was great variety in how people used language while writing, both in level of formality and in level of intimacy, and some did read the way I initially expected hundred-year-old letters to read. But I was surprised to learn that many wrote in a comfortable, modern-sounding style, that, had it not been on yellowed paper, could have been composed today. They were casual, they were frank, they weren’t afraid to joke or make blushing suggestions. This made my job easier, in that I could write in a format accessible to a modern audience without sacrificing accuracy.

Jen: When twenty-four-year-old Scottish poet Elspeth Dunn receives fan mail from David Graham, an American college student with a passion for poetry, how does it change her perception of the world in which she lives?

Jessica: I think it gives her a sense of just how big the world can be. Elspeth, who has not only a fear of water, but strong ties to the island she calls home, has never set foot off Skye. To know that her books of poetry have traveled further than she ever has or could hope to, is something of an awakening for her. Those letters from Illinois give her a kindred spirit, in David, but also a reason to wonder what else might be out there. They give the island-bound poet a taste of adventure.

Jen: At what point in the letter exchange do Elspeth and David realize their relationship is no longer purely innocent?

Jessica: Right around the time the war begins, they start to realize that those letters mean more than just friendship. Elspeth, lonely in her little cottage up on Skye, rereads David’s old letters and falls asleep covered in his words. David, across an ocean from the war, can’t help but worry about her. But it takes others to see and point out the clues peppering their letters before Elspeth and David are willing to admit what they are feeling.

Jen: What effect, if any, does their correspondence have on their respective personal relationships at home?

Jessica: Ah, their correspondence certainly does have an effect at home, as can be expected with a faithful exchange of confiding, searching, intimate letters. As with anything close to the heart, kept secret for so long, both the holding of the secret and the ultimate reveal have emotional repercussions on all involved, whether they knew they were involved or not.

Jen: Years later, Elspeth’s daughter Margaret falls in love with a pilot in the British Royal Air Force. How does Elspeth’s adamant disapproval of her daughter’s wartime love affair alter their mother/daughter relationship?

Jessica: Elspeth worries more than disapproves. When she sees Margaret waiting for the postman, the way she did all those years ago, when she sees Margaret tossing everything aside to rush and meet that pilot on a leave, she worries that her daughter will face the same heartache and regret that she did in that earlier war. That worry, more than anything, changes their relationship, because it puzzles Margaret. Being curious, she wants to seek out her mother’s past, the past that brought up that concern. Do Elspeth’s actions directly alter their mother/daughter relationship? Perhaps not. But they provide Margaret with the questions she needs to challenge the relationship.

Jen: When Elspeth suddenly disappears during the attack on London, how does Margaret muster up the courage to go in search of her?

Jessica: This is a great question, which really got me thinking. I’m not sure it’s courage that Margaret lacks before heading off to London at the start of the Blitz; rather I think it’s direction. Her mother has always been her bulwark, the only family member in her life. When Elspeth disappears from Edinburgh, Margaret is left with questions, questions that spark her curiosity, but also with an unacknowledged uncertainty. In searching for her mother, Margaret has a chance to discover not only her past, but also family and, through them, solidity.

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.

Jessica: I keep things simple on my website. A description of Letters from Skye, links to find it for sale, upcoming events, and contact information. I use social media for more up-to-the-minute news and for sharing things like links and pictures.

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

Jessica: Yes! I post updates on my Facebook page ( and on Twitter (@jabrockmole). I have a lot of fun on Twitter especially and love connecting with readers, writers, and history lovers there!

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

Jessica: My next novel is also set during World War One, in Scotland and in the France, as two artists in the midst of war try to recapture a lost summer of innocence that they shared years before.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved Letters from Skye. I recommend this touching love story to all of my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects!

Jessica: Thank you so much for having me, Jen!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Jessica Brockmole. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Letters from Skye today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me the answer to the following trivia question to and you’ll be entered to win!

Where is the Island of Skye located?

In September, I will be bringing to you my interview with Tracey Garvis Graves, author of Covet. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…enjoy the last days of summer!

RITA Awards

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The winners of the 2013 RITA Awards, sponsored by the Romance Writers of America, have been announced.  They include:

Best First Book: The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James.  “In 1920s England, a young woman of limited means and even less experience confronts the ghost of a mysterious serving maid…. Sarah Piper’s lonely threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis–rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed by ghosts–has been summoned to investigate the spirit of the nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is said to haunt the barn where she committed suicide. Maddy hated men in life, and she will not speak to them in death. But Sarah is unprepared to go alone into a haunted barn looking for the truth. She’s even less prepared for the arrival of Alistair’s associate, rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, also a veteran of the trenches, whose scars go deeper than Sarah can reach. Soon, Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle. For Maddy’s ghost is no hoax–she’s real, she’s angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Matthew discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance…before she destroys them all?”– Provided by publisher.

Contemporary Single Title Romance: The Way Back Home by Barbara Freethy.  “Ex-Marine Gabe Ryder has lost a lot in his life. His mother died when he was a toddler. His father succumbed to alcoholism. And a week before their last day of service, a horrific firefight takes the life of his best friend and brother-in-arms, Rob Hayden. Now Gabe must fulfill his friend’s dying wish by helping Rob’s twin sister, Alicia. Alicia has been reeling since her brother’s death. She’s lost a part of herself that she isn’t sure she can get back. On top of that, her eight-year-old son is longing for a father, who she thinks she’s found in her boyfriend Keith. Then Gabe shows up, moving into Rob’s house, helping with the family’s river rafting business, and looking into her love life, and Alicia is resentful. But when Alicia’s son and his best friend run away, Alicia and Gabe realize they must face their deepest fears and work together to bring them back, before the river rises.”

Historical Romance: A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean.  “A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance-including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury. A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to an unexplored world of pleasures. Bourne may be a prince of London’s illicit underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness-a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them…even her heart.”–P. 4 of cover.

Inspirational Romance: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden.  “Lydia Pallas, a translator for the U.S. Navy, is hired by Alexander Banebridge, or “Bane,” a man who equally attracts and aggravates her, to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, and finds herself in the middle of a secret war against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast.”



Paranormal Romance: Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole.  “When he beholds Bettina, the sheltered ward of two of the Lore’s most fearsome villains, swordsman Trehan Daciano, a.k.a. the Prince of Shadows, is determined to have her and must survive the punishing contests to claim her as his wife.”(Baker & Taylor)




Bram Stoker Award for Horror Novel

Monday, August 12th, 2013

The Bram Stoker Awards, which recognize superior achievement in horror writing and are sponsored by the Horror Writers Association, were announced in June.  The award for the best horror novel of 2012 went to:

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Find in our catalog).  “Imp, a struggling schizophrenic, fights to determine whether or not the strange mythological creatures she meets are due to her condition or are from something else entirely in this new novel from the award-winning author of The Red Tree.”







International Impac Dublin Literary Award

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

City of Bohane by Kevin Barry won the International Impac Dublin Literary Award (Find the book in our catalog).  According to the judging panel, “Barry’s Ireland of 2053 is a place you may not want to be alive in but you’ll certainly relish reading about.”

Annotation from our catalog:  “Forty or so years in the future. The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are the posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the North Rises, and the eerie bogs of the Big Nothin’ that the city really lives. For years it has all been under the control of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But there’s trouble in the air. They say Hartnett’s old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious; and his missus wants him to give it all up and go straight.” (McMillan Palgrave)