Archive for November, 2013

A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Here is an author not particularly well-known to us, but he is now a prize-winning author.  Why not pick up his book to try?  Colin McAdam won the $25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust of Canada Fiction Prize , which “recognizes Canadian writers of exceptional talent for the year’s best novel or short-story collection,” for A Beautiful Truth.  (Find this book in our catalog)

Jury Citation:  “A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam tells the story of Judy and Walt, of their adopted chimpanzee Looee, and of a whole cast of other primates at a research institute in Florida. In prose both strange and startling, Colin McAdam asks what, if anything, separates the human from the animal; he answers with heartbreaking honesty. This is the kind of book you finish just to pick back up again, if only to figure out how he pulled it off.”

About the Book (from Writers’ Trust web page):  “Walt and Judy’s happiness has been blighted by their childlessness. Although their marriage seems blissful, Judy feels increasingly empty and Walt longs to make her happy again. Then he brings home Looee – a baby chimpanzee. Looee, exuberant and demanding, immediately fills the gap, and they come to love him as their own son. Like any child, Looee is affectionate and quick to learn. But he is also a deeply unpredictable animal, and one night their unique family life is changed forever. Told alternately from the perspective of humans and chimpanzees, A Beautiful Truth is about realities of nature we so often ignore.”

About the Author: “Colin McAdam has written for Harper’s and The Walrus. He is a past winner of the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize, and has been a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and Governor General’s Literary Award. This is McAdam’s second nomination for a Writers’ Trust award; he was a finalist for this prize in 2004 for his first novel, Some Great Thing. He lives in Toronto.”

Editor – Top Ten Librarian Picks for December

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Check out this website for a monthly list of library recommended new books:

I’m going to be pasting the link in my blogroll for you to find any time you want fresh ideas on what’s most recommended by librarians nationwide.

This is the Top Ten books published this month that librarians across the country love:

 No Good Duke Goes Unpunished: The Third Rule of Scoundrels by Sarah MacLean

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles: A Novel by Katherine Pancol

Vatican Waltz: A Novel by Roland Merullo

How to Run with a Naked Werewolf: A Novel by Molly Harper

The Supreme Macaroni Company: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani

The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret by Catherine Bailey

Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel

The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing

Innocence: A Novel by Dean Koontz


National Book Award 2013 – Poetry

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

The winner in the Poetry category of the National Book Awards is:

Mary Szybist, for Incarnadine: Poems (Find in our catalog).  This is what it says in our catalog:  “In Incarnadine, Mary Szybist restlessly seeks out places where meaning might take on new color. One poem is presented as a diagrammed sentence. Another is an abecedarium made of lines of dialogue spoken by girls overheard while assembling a puzzle. Several poems arrive as a series of Annunciations, while others purport to give an update on Mary, who must finish the dishes before she will open herself to God. One poem appears on the page as spokes radiating from a wheel, or as a sunburst, or as the cycle around which all times and all tenses are alive in this moment. Szybist’s formal innovations are matched by her musical lines, by her poetry’s insistence on singing as a lure toward the unknowable. Inside these poems is a deep yearning—for love, motherhood, the will to see things as they are and to speak. Beautiful and inventive, Incarnadine is the new collection by one of America’s most ambitious poets.”  (McMillan Palgrave)



Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog

Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion

Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke

Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture


National Book Awards 2013 – Nonfiction

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

The National Book Awards winner this year for Nonfiction is:

George Packer, for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Find this book in our catalog).  This is what it says in our catalog:  “A riveting examination of a nation in crisis, from one of the finest political journalists of our generation.

American democracy is beset by a sense of crisis. Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a country of winners and losers, allowing unprecedented freedom while rending the social contract, driving the political system to the verge of breakdown, and setting citizens adrift to find new paths forward. In The Unwinding, George Packer, author of The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, tells the story of the United States over the past three decades in an utterly original way, with his characteristically sharp eye for detail and gift for weaving together complex narratives.

The Unwinding journeys through the lives of several Americans, including Dean Price, the son of tobacco farmers, who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South; Tammy Thomas, a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton, a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who questions the Internet’s significance and arrives at a radical vision of the future. Packer interweaves these intimate stories with biographical sketches of the era’s leading public figures, from Newt Gingrich to Jay-Z, and collages made from newspaper headlines, advertising slogans, and song lyrics that capture the flow of events and their undercurrents.

The Unwinding portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working, its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation. Packer’s novelistic and kaleidoscopic history of the new America is his most ambitious work to date.” (McMillan Palgrave)

Check our catalog for an author biography and for more notes and reviews.


Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin

Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832

Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief


National Book Awards 2013

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride won the National Book Award for Fiction (Find this book in our catalog)

The National Book Awards were announced last night, Wednesday, November 20, 2013.  Click here for details and interviews with the winning and shortlisted authors.

This is what it says about The Good Lord Birdin our catalog:   “From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade, and who must pass as a girl to survive.

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)

Finalists were:

Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

George Saunders, Tenth of December

Watch for future posts about the other National Book Awards categories! – Editor

The Devil’s Breath by Tessa Harris

Monday, November 18th, 2013

I am in the fortunate position of having access to publishers’ Advanced Readers’ Copies (ARCs), and so get to read many books before they come out.  This one is due out in January 2014, so get your holds on it as soon as possible!

The Devil’s Breath (Find this book in our catalog) is set in the year 1983 in Oxfordshire, England and should appeal to fans of Ariana Franklin, Caleb Carr, and David Liss.  The attractions of these books are the accuracy of the historical setting, the plot set in real events of the age, and a protagonist who is a proponent of early forensic science in an age of superstition.  You will love The Devil’s Breath if you relish an atmosphere of dark and gloom leading to hysteria and murder.  Tessa Harris is skilled in revealingthe psychology of an ignorant and frightened mass, and also of real evil.

The Devil’s Breath is populated with real historical characters; for instance,  Sir John Dashwood-King was the heir of Sir Francis Dashwood, friend of Benjamin Franklin and founder of the famous Hellfire Club.  The book’s conclusion is an exciting and horrific denouement in the Hellfire Caves, a series of underground caverns carved out for the use of the Hellfire Club.

The book’s fictional hero is Dr. Thomas Silkstone, an anatomist.  His skills in anatomy and herbal medicine become vital when a choking cloud of sulphurous fog covers most of the north and east of England as far south as London for weeks on end.  Many people suffer breathing disorders and many die.  This really happened in 1783 – it was perhaps  the first recorded instance of acid rain – and for a long time no one could discover the source of the cloud.  About a third of livestock was killed and most of the crops were destroyed, since the cloud occurred at harvest time.

In the disaster three possibly connected murders in Oxfordshire go uninvestigated – except by Dr. Silkwood - because no officials are interested in travelling and risking their lives.

The Devil’s Breath is third in a series beginning with The Dead Shall Not Rest.  For me, one weakness in the book is the frequent mention of plot elements from the other books – it seemed a teasing attempt to make the reader seek out the other books, and for me it was an unnecessary diversion.  The dense plot requires a fair bit of attention, but all the details loop round and connect in the end and make for a very satisfying and fast read.

This is what it says in our catalog:  “Publishers Weekly Reviews: A real-life natural disaster propels Harris’s excellent third Thomas Silkstone mystery (after 2013′s The Dead Shall Not Rest). The odd behavior of wildlife, including a massive flock of geese flying overhead, tips off anatomist Silkstone, an American expatriate, that something is amiss in 1783 England. The county of Lincolnshire is overwhelmed by a huge noxious cloud, spread out “across the entire skyline… like an enormous wave.” The choking fog is accompanied by acid rain, and is viewed by the superstitious as the devil’s breath and a sign of divine punishment. As the “Great Fogg” afflicts more of the country, the medico has a number of murders to solve, including the brutal bludgeoning of two young children. Meanwhile, Silkstone’s love interest, Lady Lydia Farrell, is desperate to find her lost son. Both literally and figuratively atmospheric, this will appeal to fans of Imogen Robertson’s series set during the same period.”


Jen’s Jewels with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Friday, November 15th, 2013

During the holidays, there is nothing better than gathering with family and friends. Often, this is the only time when we are able to come together due to the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. From long-lost aunts and uncles to newborn babies, the entire family looks forward to spending time as one. Yet imagine what it would feel like if this year you discovered you had siblings you never knew existed. Oh, my! Rest assured this holiday season would be one you’d never forget.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Lorraine Zago Rosenthal addresses this very topic of newfound family in her latest release, New Money. Set in two of my favorite destinations, New York City and Charleston, SC, it’s the story of Southern belle Savannah Morgan who inherits an immense fortune along with two obstinate, spoiled siblings. While climbing the social ladder of corporate America, Savannah must learn how to navigate her newly inherited fame and fortune.

As part of my interview, Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin’s Press, 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 Jewelsa part of your holiday reading.       

Jen: As a successful writer, your path to publication is a story in itself. 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.

Lorraine: I was born and raised in New York City, where I went to high school at St. Francis Prep. I graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Education. I also earned a Master’s degree in English, with a concentration in American and British Literature, from Northern Kentucky University. My first novel, Other Words for Love, was published by Random House (Delacorte Press) in January 2011. My second novel, New Money, was published by St. Martin’s Press (Thomas Dunne Books) in September 2013.

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

Lorraine: I wanted to become a writer very early in life. I developed a love of books as soon as I learned to read, and I read fiction constantly. I was also highly influenced by my interest in film and TV. I have always enjoyed watching movies and TV series, and from a young age I studied character development, pacing, dialogue, and plot. After a while, I wanted to create my own characters and stories, so I started writing.

My desire to write began so early—in grammar school—that I wouldn’t say I actively chose it. It’s really just innate. I continued writing while I attended high school and when I was in college and graduate school at the University of South Florida. My B.A. in psychology greatly benefits my writing skills, because an understanding of the human psyche is necessary to get into the minds of characters and to portray the characters and their actions in a realistic way.

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?  

Lorraine: It can take between several months and a year to write a novel; however, that doesn’t include the time I spend contemplating the story and characters before I begin writing. Ari Mitchell (the main character in Other Words for Love) and her family were in my mind for a few years before I fully understood Ari’s story and began to write it.

In general, writing a novel is challenging. It requires a great deal of dedication, effort, and focus on the characters and their individual stories. I think that in any work of fiction, the most challenging aspect for an author is to create characters who are complex people with positive and negative traits.

Jen: New Money is an addictive, humorous read about Savannah Morgan, a plucky spitfire on a journey to find her true calling in life. How did you arrive at the premise?

Lorraine: When I was asked the same question about my first novel, I answered that it was inspired by many things—such as observation, experience, and imagination. I think this applies to all novels, including New Money.

Jen: The story takes place in both Charleston, SC and New York City. Why did you choose these particular locales?

Lorraine: I’m originally from NYC and know it well, so I enjoy writing about that setting and its subcultures, as I did in Other Words for Love. In New Money, Savannah Morgan moves from a quiet town to a chaotic city, and Manhattan vs. Charleston (North vs. South) is a contrast that sparks a lot of conflict.

Jen: When Savannah learns of an inheritance from her billionaire father she never knew, how does it change the dynamics of her relationship with her mother?

Lorraine: It causes problems between Savannah and her mother, Joan. Joan is an independent and grounded woman who rejected Savannah’s father’s money and glamorous lifestyle. So when Savannah accepts her inheritance and moves to Manhattan, Joan doesn’t approve.

Jen: Upon her initial introduction to the Stone family, Savannah stands her ground despite the frosty reception. From where does she find this inner strength? 

Lorraine: Savannah was raised by a strong mother and has suffered years of being snubbed by wealthier people. This has toughened her up, and she calls upon her inner strength to deal with the Stone family. She understandably feels anxiety and fear, but she does her best not to show it to the people who would use any signs of weakness against her. When she enters into her new life in NYC, she always tries to remember (as she tells her new siblings) that she deserves to be there just as much as they do.

Jen: Is her sister-in-law Kitty’s willingness to take Savannah under her wing merely an act of kindness, or simply a way to get back at the Stone family?

Lorraine: Her kindness is genuine, but the dose of revenge on some people is a bonus.

Jen: How does the arrival of Savannah’s best friend Tina taint her reputation in the Stone family’s eyes?

Lorraine: The Stone family has a preconceived notion of Savannah’s character, and their brief observation of Tina strengthens these inaccurate opinions.

Jen: When Savannah starts dating Alex, a debonair writer, how does this relationship change her perception of her present financial situation?

Lorraine: This relationship makes her realize that having money hasn’t solved all of her problems. In fact, it has created new ones.          

Jen: Of her two new siblings, Ned and Caroline, which one needs Savannah the most? And, who has the most to lose?

Lorraine: Certain incidents cause Ned to need Savannah’s cooperation. Without it, he has a great deal to lose.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your blog highlighting points of interest.  

Lorraine: I have been fortunate enough to participate in many features to promote New Money, including interviews with, Long Island Woman, USA Today, and the Gulf Coast Times. Links to all of my interviews can be found on this page of my website:

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

Lorraine: I am definitely present in social media! Readers can visit my website: and follow me on Twitter:

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

Lorraine: My next novel is Independently Wealthy—which is the sequel to New Money. It will be published in fall 2014.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved New Money, especially the references to my favorite city Charleston. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects!

Lorraine: You’re very welcome, Jen! And thanks so much for your kind words. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed New Money, and I hope your readers will, too!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of New Money 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 does the story take place?

In December, I will be bringing to you my interview with New York Times best-selling author Carly Phillips, author of Dare to Love. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…Happy Thanksgiving!

Diamond Dagger Award

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Frederick Forsyth won the British Crime Writers Association’s Diamond Dagger Award , which is presented annually to an author whose career is “marked by sustained excellence” and and who has “made a significant contribution to crime fiction published in the English language, whether originally or in translation.” Forsyth will be honored at a ceremony later this year.

  Forsyth’s latest novel, Cobra, is available in Harford County Public Library in multiple formats: book, audiobook on CDs, Playaway, ebook, and large print.

Summary of the book in our catalog: “An extraordinary cutting-edge thriller from the New York Times-bestselling grandmaster of international suspense. Meticulous research, crisp narratives, plots as current as today’s headlines-Frederick Forsyth has helped define the international thriller as we know it. And now he does it again. What if you had carte blanche to fight evil? Nothing held back, nothing off the table. What would you do? For decades, the world has been fighting the drug cartels, and losing, their billions of dollars making them the most powerful and destructive organizations on earth. Until one man is asked to take charge. Paul Devereaux used to run Special Operations for the CIA before they retired him for being too ruthless. Now he can have anything he requires, do anything he thinks necessary. No boundaries, no rules, no questions asked. The war is on-though who the ultimate winner will be, no one can tell…”


Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

  Lee Child won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, which celebrates the best in crime writing among British and Irish authors, for his Jack Reacher thriller 61 Hours (find in our catalog).  Child received the US$4,890 cash prize, along with a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakstons Old Peculier.

See what it says in our catalog about the book:  “Jack Reacher is back. The countdown has begun. Get ready for the most exciting 61 hours of your life. #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child’s latest thriller is a ticking time bomb of suspense that builds electric tension on every page. Sixty-one hours. Not a minute to spare. A tour bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she’s going to live long enough to testify, she’ll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses. Reacher’s original plan was to keep on moving. But the next 61 hours will change everything. The secrets are deadlier and his enemies are stronger than he could have guessed¿but so is the woman whose life he¿ll risk his own to save. In 61 Hours, Lee Child has written a showdown thriller with an explosive ending that readers will talk about for a long time to come.

P.D. James was honored with the Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.


Book to Movie – The Book Thief

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Click here for the official international trailer that has been released for The Book Thief (official site), a Fox 2000 film based on Markus Zusak’s bestselling novel. The film, directed by Brian Percival directed and starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse and Ben Schnetzer, was released domestically November 8.  The official website includes a book discussion guide.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Find this book in our catalog).  “It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.”(Random House, Inc.)