Archive for December, 2013

Interview with James McBride, National Book Award Winner

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The author of The Good Lord Bird, (Find this book in our catalog), James McBride, winner of the National Book Award in fiction, appeared on PBS News Hour. He talks about why he wanted to write a funny book about John Brown, a man who had “no sense of humor at all,” but a man he grew to love.  Click here for the interview.


LJ’s Best Books 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

These titles were chosen by Library Journal review editors as the Top Ten of 2013.  See if you agree!  Click on a title and go straight to our catalog.

Danticat, Edwidge. Claire of the Sea Light







Fagan, Jenni. The Panopticon

Fink, Sheri. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital







Frankel, Glenn. The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend







Hill, Joe. NOS4A2







Marra, Anthony. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena







Moore, Wendy. How To Create the Perfect Wife: Britain’s Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest To Train the Ideal Mate






Pollan, Michael. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation







Pynchon, Thomas. Bleeding Edge







Shacochis, Bob. The Woman Who Lost Her Soul









Adriana Trigiani Interview

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

On the Today Show, Dec 2, 2013  Hoda and Kathie Lee hosted one of their “favorite people in the world,” author Adriana Trigiani, whose latest book, The Supreme Macaroni Company (Find this book in our catalog), the final in her series featuring Valentine Roncalli, has just come out.  Click here for the interview.

Here’s what it says about the book in our catalog:  “In The Supreme Macaroni Company, Adriana Trigiani transports readers from the cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village to lush New Orleans to Italy and back again while exploring the tricky dynamics between Old World craftsmanship and New World ambition, all amid a passionate love affair that fuels one woman’s determination to have it all.

For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This ancient business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the schoolteacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret.

But after the wedding celebrations are over, Valentine wakes up to the hard reality of juggling the demands of a new business and the needs of her new family. Confronted with painful choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: “A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything.” Now the proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves—the bitter and the sweet of life itself.

Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, The Supreme Macaroni Company is a sumptuous feast of delights: an unforgettable narrative about family, work, romance, and the unexpected turns of life and fate. – (HarperCollins)


Book Club Pick – Orphan Train

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

According to HarperCollins, “Christina Baker Kline’s New York Times bestseller Orphan Train (Find this book in our catalog) is sweeping book clubs nationwide! In this stunning novel that moves between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Baker Kline uncovers a forgotten part of our nation’s history—the “orphan trains” that shipped hundreds of thousands of children out west to be adopted, but often to work as no more than indentured servants.

Baker Kline weaves this history with that of a modern-day teenage girl about to age out of our current foster care system and delivers a heart-wrenching story of two women who become unlikely friends united by their pasts and a yearning to belong.

Orphan Train raises many questions about our history, adoption, what we keep hidden in our pasts, and how our treatment of children in need has changed, or not changed, over the years.”

Here’s what it says in our catalog:  “Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer knows that a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.”

Publishers Weekly Review in our catalog:  “Kline’s absorbing new novel (after Bird in the Hand) is a heartfelt page-turner about two women finding a sense of home. Seventeen-year-old Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer has spent most of her life in foster care. When she’s caught stealing a copy of Jane Eyre from the library, in an effort to keep the peace with her stressed foster parents, she ends up cleaning out elderly Vivian Daly’s attic. Molly learns that Vivian was herself an orphan, an Irish immigrant in New York who was put on the Orphan Train in the late 1920s and tossed from home to home in Minnesota. The growing connection leads Molly to dig deeper into Vivian’s life, which allows Molly to discover her own potential and helps Vivian rediscover someone she believed had been lost to her forever. Chapters alternate between Vivian’s struggle to find a safe home, both physically and emotionally, in early 20th-century Minnesota, and Molly’s similar struggle in modern-day Maine. Kline lets us live the characters’ experiences vividly through their skin, and even the use of present tense, which could distract, feels suited to this tale. The growth from instinct to conscious understanding to partnership between the two is the foundation for a moving tale.”

Click here for a Reading Guide for Orphan Train.



Jen’s Jewels with Carly Phillips

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Being part of a divorced family can have its rewards and challenges depending on the circumstances of the separation. Oftentimes, when a parent remarries the kids are able to mesh while finding a voice of their own. However, now and then strong personalities and resentful feelings can make the blending of two families a bit difficult. Finding a harmonious balance among family members while embracing the realm of possibilities for the future is the key to happiness.   

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Carly Phillips addresses this very topic in her latest release, Dare to Love. Ian Dare has been hurt by his father’s betrayal and resents his half siblings. Along the way, he falls in love with Riley Taylor, his half brother’s best friend, which causes familial strife. Once again, Carly delivers a compelling romance with just the right balance of steamy love scenes and suspense.

As part of my interview, Carly has generously donated five copies for you to win. So, be on the lookout for the trivia question. Contest 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 Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the hottest authors today.             

Jen: As a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with over thirty books in print, your stellar career as a romance writer speaks for itself. What is the driving force behind your literary success?

Carly: Good fortune, hard work, fantastic readers! I seriously couldn’t explain it any better.

Jen: Your latest release, Dare to Love, is the first of a three-book self-publishing venture. Why did you choose to step away from your mainstream publisher for this project?

Carly: I have been very fortunate over the years to be published by wonderful people in New York/Traditional publishing.  Everyone I worked with has been wonderful to me – nothing about my experience there played a part in my leaving.  In the end, the decision came down to the fact that I felt I wanted to write books that I could put out quicker, were a little bit shorter, and that readers could get at a lower price point, something NY Publishing just couldn’t do.  In my heart I felt I was missing readers who wouldn’t try me as a “new to them” author at 7.99.  It’s a scary gamble, but I am loving the control over covers and pricing and content

Jen: What has been the most challenging part of the process thus far? And, the most rewarding?

Carly: The most challenging is time.  Every day, there are more things added to my To Do list/plate and I need to balance that with writing and family and life.  The most rewarding ties into that.  Every day something new (and exciting) comes up that I hadn’t thought about before. I learn something every day and I love that. So it may be more time consuming, but I’m thriving on it!

Jen: Dare to Love is by far your most steamy romance to date. How did you arrive at the premise? And, did your interest to write a romance with more explicit love scenes come from readers’ requests, or was it sparked by your own desire to test your writing chops?

Carly: I am a massive and fast reader and for the last year or so I’ve been devouring the hotter, steamier romances.  I started to see it translating to my regular writing.  I think it just was time for me to write what I wanted and was starting to come naturally. I loved writing Ian and his more dominant traits.

Jen: Ian Dare is a dominant man afraid of falling in love. Yet with one glimpse, he is captivated by the sheer beauty of Riley Taylor. Is his attraction to her purely lust, or does Riley’s association with his half-brother whom he despises makes her more appealing?

Carly: Ian sees Riley for the first time on the arm of his brother.  No doubt that sparks intrigue but I believe Ian is at heart, a better man than to go after her for those reasons.  Initially it’s lust but within a very short time there is such a deep connection and they find so much in common despite her fear of dominant men, neither can resist the other.

Jen: When Riley accepts a position in the Dare’s family business, how does her relationship change with Alex, Ian’s half-brother?

Carly: Alex wants what is best for Riley.  But Alex wanted to be the one to help her the way he has always done.  So it was inevitable that Ian’s help would hurt Alex’s pride, as she’s always turned down his offer to help her with a job, an apartment, etc.  Their relationship went through a rocky period but there is no way Alex would abandon her.  No matter what he will always be there for her.  He needed to put his pride aside and eventually he does.  Not without a major misstep along the way!

Jen: When Riley and Ian’s relationship heats up, she soon realizes his need to dominate applies to not only the boardroom, but also the bedroom. In what way does this revelation alter her view of the relationship?

Carly: Riley had an abusive childhood, directed more at her mother than her – mostly – hers was emotional until something extreme happens. When Ian’s dominant nature coincides with an angry moment, she has cause to reconsider what she’s doing with a man like him.  She has to reconcile who he is with her past.  Not an easy feat.

Jen: Ian struggles with accepting his step-siblings as members of the family due to his father’s unforgivable act of betrayal. How does his relationship with Riley cause him to reevaluate his familial situation?

Carly: Ian will do anything for Riley, including extend an olive branch to his half siblings.  It’s really a function of his feelings for her that allows him to put his pride aside, something he’s had trouble doing.  Deep down Ian has wanted a relationship with them but he couldn’t admit it to himself or get past his pride.  Until Riley.   

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and focus on your career. Due to the major advances in technology over the past ten years, the publishing business has drastically changed. As an author, how has it affected your nuts and bolts approach to writing a novel?

Carly: The nuts and bolts of writing romance haven’t changed.  My voice, what I like to write about, that’s all the same.  I keep up with reading in my genre, so I know what readers like, what they are saying about different books and authors, etc. I try to stay current and grow with each book.  The changes are to the way books get to readers, but it’s more behind the scenes.

Jen: E-books have revolutionized the way in which we read. How have they impacted your career? Which do you prefer…a book or e-book?

Carly: eBook.  I read on my iPad mini with the Kindle app.  I love my mini. I never leave home without it and I am never without a book to read!

Jen: Marketing is a vital component to an author’s success. Your presence on the web is truly remarkable. How do you balance your writing schedule with promotional obligations?

Carly: Thank you! I just … do it.  There’s no real answer except multitasking.  The web and social media is something I truly enjoy so it’s never a nuisance or a hassle.  I just have to put the writing first and prioritize.  If I do that, all the rest falls into place!         

Jen: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat with my readers. As always, I wish you the best of luck with your new series. Happy holidays and happy New Year!

Carly:  Thank you, Jen. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you! I appreciate that you ask me back.  Happy holidays and happy New Year to you and your readers!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Carly Phillips. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Dare to Love 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!

What is Riley’s last name?

In January 2014, I will be bringing to you my interview with bestselling author Melody Carlson. You won’t want to miss it. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!


Oprah Book Club Pick

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Oprah has announced the next title in her Book Club 2.0 series, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, (Find this book in our catalog).  It won’t be available for a few more weeks (pub date is Jan. 7), put you may put your holds in now.

Here’s what it says about the book in our catalog:

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty ?Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved. – (Penguin Putnam)


Business Book Award

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon won the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, which recognizes the book that provides “the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues.” (Find this book in our catalog).

Here is one of the reviews in our catalog about this prize-winning book:  Publishers Weekly Reviews  “Another ruthless e-mogul bestrides the world in this lively study of the Amazon founder and his quest to sell books and all other conceivable merchandise over the Web. While he doesn’t have quite the rabid nuttiness of a Steve Jobs, Bezos in this portrait is cut from the same cloth: a vicious and occasionally unfair competitor; a penny-pinching slave driver of a workforce divided into unhappy employees and super loyalists; and a man full of messianic zeal about the consumer conveniences flowing from the world of e-commerce, brimming with bold initiatives that only sometimes pay off, who largely delivers on his promises to cut costs and increase consumer choice, without registering how profoundly his actions are altering the Republic of Letters and society at large. Stone, a senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, explores Amazon’s technology breakthroughs with its Kindle e-reader and cloud-computing initiatives, but mainly tells a surprisingly traditional story about monopolistic retail, hinging on price wars over diapers, disputes with toy suppliers, carefully cultivated economies of scale, and the nuts and bolts of getting goods into customers’ hands (the book’s detailed account of Amazon’s maddeningly complex distribution and shipping operations is engrossing). Stone’s vivid profiles and lucid analyses of business dynamics make for an entertaining, insightful, behind-the-scenes account of the e-commerce revolution.” Copyright 2013 PW LLC.

If you like The Everything Store, you would probably like these also:

Hatching Twitter : a true story of money, power, friendship, and betrayal  by Nick Bilton.

Brick by brick : how LEGO rewrote the rules of innovation and conquered the global toy industry by David C. Robertson ; with Bill Breen.


Short Story to Movie – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Planned for release on Christmas Day 2013 is Ben Stiller’s  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (see clips), adapted from James Thurber’s short story. The most famous of Thurber’s stories, it first appeared in The New Yorker on March 18, 1939, and was first collected in his book My World and Welcome to It. It has since been reprinted in James Thurber: Writings and Drawings, and is one of the most frequently anthologized short stories in American literature. The story is considered one of Thurber’s “acknowledged masterpieces”. It was made into a 1947 movie of the same name, with Danny Kaye in the title role, though the movie is very different from the original story.


Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Friday, December 6th, 2013

(find this book in our catalog)  Here is a terrific book that looks from the cover rather like a cozy mystery.  Don’t be fooled!  This is a suspenseful, action adventure thriller that pulls no punches!

From the setting in upstate New York during a three-day ice storm that closes the whole area down, to the main story of a desperate attempt to rescue a sick kidnapped girl who is key to the conviction of a drug king-pin, this mystery keeps the adrenaline pumping.

Complex plot elements, including the difficult love affair of police partners Hadley and Kevin, a dubious undercover DEA operation, the rocky relationship between newlyweds Clare, the local episcopal priest and Russ, the chief of police, give the reader plenty to think about and enjoy.

The crises just keep on coming: it’s a struggle between the forces of law and order both against the weather and against a group of stupid but vicious criminals.  The action is non-stop but totally convincing, with plenty of details of weaponry, police procedures and innovative survival skills.

Who will prevail - the ultimately stupid but heavily armed criminals or the outnumbered Russ and Clare with their combat training from Vietnam and Iraq?  Like most mysteries, the story examines the nature of good and evil, but there are no easy answers or pat conclusions.  Editor

Pritzker Prize for Military Writing

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

On Saturday, November 16 Tim O’Brien was presented with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library’s Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing at the Chicago Hilton. O’Brien is the author of, among other books, The Things They Carried (find this book in our catalog)

This is what it has to say in our catalog about The Things They Carried:  “One of the first questions people ask about The Things They Carried is this: Is it a novel, or a collection of short stories? The title page refers to the book simply as “a work of fiction,” defying the conscientious reader’s need to categorize this masterpiece. It is both: a collection of interrelated short pieces which ultimately reads with the dramatic force and tension of a novel. Yet each one of the twenty-two short pieces is written with such care, emotional content, and prosaic precision that it could stand on its own.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and of course, the character Tim O’Brien who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships we see their isolation and loneliness, their rage and fear. They miss their families, their girlfriends and buddies; they miss the lives they left back home. Yet they find sympathy and kindness for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the mine field, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other, because in Vietnam they are the only family they have. We hear the voices of the men and build images upon their dialogue. The way they tell stories about others, we hear them telling stories about themselves.

With the creative verve of the greatest fiction and the intimacy of a searing autobiography, The Things They Carried is a testament to the men who risked their lives in America’s most controversial war. It is also a mirror held up to the frailty of humanity. Ultimately The Things They Carried and its myriad protagonists call to order the courage, determination, and luck we all need to survive. – (Random House, Inc.)

O’Brien is also author of If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.