Watergate Book 40th Anniversary

June 13th, 2014

This Friday, June 13,  NPR’s Morning Edition featured Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, authors of All the President’s Men (find this book in our catalog).

“This is the book that changed America. Published just two months before President Nixon’s resignation, All the President’s Men revealed the full scope of the Watergate scandal and introduced for the first time the mysterious “Deep Throat.” Beginning with the story of a simple burglary at Democratic headquarters and then continuing through headline after headline, Bernstein and Woodward deliver the stunning revelations and pieces in the Watergate puzzle that brought about Nixon’s shocking downfall. Their explosive reports won a Pulitzer Prize for The Washington Post, toppled the president, and have since inspired generations of reporters.

All the President’s Men is a riveting detective story, capturing the exhilarating rush of the biggest presidential scandal in U.S. history as it unfolded in real time. It is, as former New York Times managing editor Gene Roberts has called it, “maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time.”” (Simon and Schuster)



Can’t and Won’t

June 12th, 2014

Can’t and Won’t (Stories) by Lydia Davis

It has been a long time since I’ve read short stories this quirky.  Lydia Davis knows how to turn the genre on its head.  Short?  You haven’t seen short until you’ve read, for example, “Bloomington,” one of the selections in this collection:  “Now that I have been here for a little while, I can say with confidence that I have never been here before.”  And that isn’t even the shortest of stories.  While not all of Davis’s stories are this strikingly terse, as many fit more closely what we think of as a story, the briefer ones are what challenge us to consider just what a story is.  Does it need to embrace the classic Aristotelian structure of beginning, middle, and end to be a story?  Could a handful of words force us to consider that “story” could be an impression or a glimpse that is complete in and of itself?  Or could a story be a series of sentences, brief and poignant, that don’t so much complete our reading experience as urge us to long for more?

Some of Davis’s stories are drawn from the letters of Gustave Flaubert; others are dreams; still others are letters that strike us as real compositions sent to various institutions or companies, mostly in the form of complaints or genuine queries.  Imagine being on the receiving end of one of these letters.  Would the receiver even begin to understand the genius or humor behind them?  Still other stories are more like lists of thoughts and ideas, thematically linked.  All, even the longer stories, feel experimental and iconoclastic.  So for a collection of stories that may lead you outside the zone of “safe” story into “daring,” try some of Davis’s fare for a literary meal of delight.

D. L. S.

Book to TV – The Strain

June 11th, 2014

The Strain, the 10-episode TV series based on the vampire novel trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, is coming to the FX Network in July.  Click here for the exclusive preview.

The books in the trilogy are:

The Strain.

“A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city – a city that includes his wife and son – before it is too late.  (HarperCollins)

The Fall.

The war continues…




The Night Eternal.

The Night Eternal begins where The Strain and The Fall left off: with the last remnants of humankind enslaved by the vampire masters in a world forever shrouded by nuclear winter. Still, a small band of the living fights on in the shadows, in the final book of the ingenious dark fantasy trilogy that Newsweek says is, “good enough to make us break that vow to swear off vampire stories.”



Teen Books with Adult Appeal

June 9th, 2014

The secret is out: Books for teens can be great reads for anyone, even readers over 30. Gathered here are new titles that span genres for readers of every stripe.

Panic by Lauren Oliver.

“Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. Heather never thought she would compete in panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.” (HarperCollins)

Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.

“An aristocratic girl who is a member of a warmongering and enslaving empire purchases a slave, an act that sets in motion a rebellion that might overthrow her world as well as her heart.”



Never Ending by Martyn Bedford.

“Traumatized by grief and guilt after her younger brother dies during a family vacation, fifteen-year-old Shiv is sent away to an exclusive clinic that claims to “cure” people like her.”



Guy in Real Life by Steven Brezenoff.

“From the acclaimed author of Brooklyn, Burning comes Guy in Real Life, an achingly real and profoundly moving love story in the vein of Rainbow Rowell and John Green, about two Minnesota teens whose lives become intertwined through school, role-playing games, and a chance two-a.m. bike accident.

It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.

But they don’t.

This is a story of the roles we all play—at school, at home, online, and with our friends—and the one person who might be able to show us who we are underneath it all.” (HarperCollins)

She is not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick.

“Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.”  (McMillan Palgrave)

Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn.

“As the only heir to the throne, Marni should have been surrounded by wealth and privilege, not living in exile—but now the time has come when she must choose between claiming her birthright as princess of a realm whose king wants her dead, and life with the father she has never known: a wild dragon who is sending his magical woods to capture her.

Fans of Bitterblue and Seraphina will be captured by a Creature of Moonlight, with its richly layered storytelling and the powerful choices its strong heroine must make.” (Houghton)


Book to TV – The Leftovers

June 6th, 2014

The HBO series, The Leftovers, based on Tom Perrotta’s novel and starring Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, Amy Brenneman, Michael Gaston and Ann Dowd, premieres June 29. Click here for a trailer.

Find the book in the catalog.  This is what it says about the book:

“What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?

That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.

Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.”


Maya Angelou’s Memorial Service to Be Livestreamed

June 5th, 2014

A memorial service this Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m. for poet, memoirist and activist Maya Angelou, who died May 28, will be livestreamed from the Wait Chapel of Wake Forest University, where she had been the Reynolds Professor of American Studies since 1982. “Due to limited seating capacity, the family has decided to have a closed service for family and friends only,” with a livestream feed for the public, the university said. Angelou’s family is planning additional celebrations of her life in other cities across the country.

Thursday, May 29,  I heard a rebroadcast of the NPR Diane Rehme Show featuring a conversation with Maya Angelou about her memoir, Mom & Me & Mom (Find this book in our catalog).  Angelou achieved fame with her 1969 memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” about growing up poor and black in the South. Her autobiographical writing established her as a leading voice for women and African Americans.

Mom & Me & Mom was published in 2013.  This is what it says in our catalog:

“The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.

For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.

Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.”

You may read an excerpt of the book in our catalog.


Ben Franklin Awards

June 4th, 2014

The Independent Book Publishers Association presented the Ben Franklin Awards at a gala ceremony May 28 in New York City. For a

complete list of Gold and Silver winners, click here.


Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

June 4th, 2014

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?:  A Memoir,  by Roz Chast

It can’t be easy, bringing up that dreaded subject with one’s aged parents, the conversation we don’t want to have but know we must have at some point or other.  You know the one:  Isn’t it time to move to a place where people will watch out for you?  How do you want to handle your end-of-life issues?  Do you want to talk about granting power of attorney?  Do you think it’s time to get rid of some of this stuff?  You can phrase it gently or bluntly, but no matter, your parents probably want to discuss these issues less than you do.

Roz Chast as an only child has a particularly formidable task ahead of her, as she deals with her increasingly frail elderly parents, they living in one city, she in another.  Best known perhaps as a staff cartoonist for the New Yorker, Chast writes with a self-deprecating humor that is not just refreshing but also a means to lessen the pain of what she experiences. She shares her experiences with us in the form she knows best – the cartoon.  Through the graphic novel format, along with hand-written text and some photography, Chast guides us through the complicated, stressful, daunting task before her, with wit, grace, and, believe it or not, a lot of laughs.  Well, if we’re laughing, we’re not crying, right?

Her parents, Elizabeth and George, did not have it easy as young children, being descendants of penniless, persecuted immigrants, but their adult lives were firmly in the middle class in Brooklyn, New York, where they raised their one child, Roz. Chast briefly shows us her childhood but uses the bulk of the book to take us on another kind of life journey, the one where she discovers that her gentle father and overbearing mother are getting older and more vulnerable to the frailties of old age.  It begins with the presence of grime.  That to her is the first sign that the once-meticulous apartment is now the home of two older folks who just aren’t seeing things or caring about things the way they used to see and care.  Here Chast confronts her first conundrum.  What should she do about this new state of affairs?  Clean up after her parents, who clearly are horrified by this effort?  Ignore it? The issue becomes more complicated as their health begins to decline in subtle and obvious ways.  From poor health to worse health, from living independently to living in a nursing home, from being an autonomous human to being helpless and sick, Chast’s parents go through it all.  Again, with humor and wit, Chast takes us along for the cruel and sad ride, and we find laughter at what is otherwise truly distressing.  But if you go through this yourself with your own parents, you will find Chast refreshing and on target, not depressing or disrespectful of her parents.

We all know how this story ends – the same way this kind of story in real life always ends, with the older folks leaving, and I don’t mean going to Atlantic City for the weekend.  Even so, Roz Chast helps us along by sharing her experiences in this ordeal and letting us know that at the end of it all, you can still have your parents with you in a way, although I’m not sure I’d want my parents’ ashes in a closet in my bedroom.  Still, it seems to fit in with the scheme of things in the life of Roz Chast and her folks.

D. L. S.

Jen’s Jewels with Adrianne Lee

June 2nd, 2014

If you are looking for a fun summer read, I highly recommend the popular Big Sky Pie series by Adrianne Lee. Recently, I had the chance to catch up with this prolific author to talk about her fourth book in the series, Decadent. This latest e-book release will be available for download starting on June 3.

As part of my interview, Hachette Book Group has generously donated five e-books for my trivia contest. (Winners will be randomly drawn. Offer void where prohibited.) Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, following me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.

Jen: As a multi-published author, your personal journey 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.

Adrianne: I took a half semester of fiction writing my senior year in high school, and two decades later, I enrolled in a junior college writing class. It was in this class that I met three other writers who were all writing romance novels. After taking the same class four times, we outgrew it and formed a critique group, meeting every week for many years. I started out writing mysteries, but thanks to my critique group, veered into romantic suspense. I’ve sold 2 romantic suspense novels to Kensington, then 14 Intrigues to Harlequin, and 1 novella to St. Martin’s Press. I’ve published 1 original e-book—the first in my Jack B Smart mystery series—and 2 previous titles as e-books with plans to put out 4 more back titles. Currently, I’ve just finished writing 4 Big Sky Pie books.

Jen: Please describe for us your "Aha!" moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.

Adrianne: My daughters were all in their teens when I decided to take that writing class I mentioned above. I’d always loved books and writing, but my high school experience hadn’t ended well and I put ideas of writing my own stories on a back burner. But once I began the class, I felt such a connection with all of those other writers, it was like finding "my people." So of course, I was hooked. I started out thinking to publish some short stories for Ellery Queen or Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines. I soon discovered, however, that I don’t write short stories. I always have too much plot. I kept writing and submitting and learning the craft and eventually an editor called and bought that first book.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to complete a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the process?

Adrianne: Plotting is the most challenging part for me because I like solid conflicts and a plot that I would want to buy if I were not writing the story. Once I know the conflicts and have a strong idea of the story, and a general overview of the plot, I can write it sort of fast. I’m really slow, though, compared to most. I’d like 4 to 5 months to write each book, lots of time to think about each scene and motivation. But I’ve been writing the Big Sky Pie books in about 3 1/2 months. My editor wanted them quicker, but she’s been patient and understanding about my process.

Jen: Your latest release Decadent is the fourth book in the Big Sky Pie Novel series. For those readers not familiar with the previous titles, what is the premise of the series?

Adrianne: The Big Sky Pie books are about going after your dreams. Molly McCoy has always wanted to own a pie shop. After losing her husband of many years, she realizes life is short, and if she doesn’t make this dream a reality now, she never will. But before she can launch Big Sky Pie, she has a serious heart attack, and must rely on her irresponsible, grieving son and his soon-to-be-ex-wife to follow through in her stead. The books feature the pie shop going through its launch, its floundering early days, a few great successes and a few failures. Of course, each book offers a love story or two via the pie shop personnel. Plus yummy pies and sexy guys!

Jen: Please give us a sneak peek behind Wade and Roxy’s story in your fabulous summer read, Decadent.

Adrianne: Wade Reynolds, a widower of four years is buttoned tighter than the fly of his favorite jeans. Shy, inexperienced, married young, he doesn’t date now for fear of embarrassing himself. Chef Roxy Nash is fresh from a divorce that cost her the restaurant she loved and her self-confidence with men. She doesn’t want a romance, just affirmation that she’s still attractive to the opposite sex. When she realizes that Wade wants more, a lifetime more, she determines to ignore the irresistible tug she feels for him. But his kisses make her feel as decadent as her chocolate meringue pie. All she has to do is figure out some way to have her pie and eat it, too.

Jen: As you were writing the book, did you feel a certain connection to one of the characters?

Adrianne: Actually, just the opposite, at first. I had trouble connecting with Roxy. My original plan was that she would be brash, a "take no prisoners" kind of sexy minx who was determined to seduce uber-shy Wade. But as I was writing, I realized that Roxy wouldn’t be a heroine readers could relate to. She sounded like a predator. But Roxy wasn’t that. She was coming home to Kalispell feeling vulnerable. Once I switched that around, I really connected with her, and she paid me back for taking so long to figure her out by bringing her naughty cat, Tallulah, into the story.

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.

Adrianne: My website is https//www.adriannelee.com. I post book release information there. It lists my backlist books and the current books. I will be posting upcoming blog tours, speaking engagements, etc. soon. The site had a facelift this past winter, and it still needs some tweaking. I’m doing some blog tours right now, and I have an upcoming speaking engagement at a local readers group, neither of which is posted at the website yet.

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

Adrianne: I am on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads. Twitter: @akaAdrianneLee FaceBook: https//facebook.com/adriannelee.author I post on twitter and FB several times a day.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Adrianne: I’m just starting a new romantic/mystery series. The stories will all be set in the small town of Weddingville—where they sell all things wedding related. It’s a wedding planner’s dream. A WEDDING TO DIE FOR is the first book. It introduces readers to family who owns Blessing’s Bridal. The stories are told in the POV of Daryl Anne Blessing, and will have all the fun and complications associated with finding true love and getting married. Of course there will be a mystery of some sort, including murder, to solve along the way. Daryl Anne’s best friend, Meg Reilly, is getting married in the first book. . .or is she?

Jen: When you take a break from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

Adrianne: Writing is such a lonely profession that what I most love to do with my free time is have lunch with writer friends to laugh and discuss our books and the industry. My husband is into hotrods and we often go on runs during the summer in our ’50 Studebaker pickup. And I play with my two adopted cats, Spooky and Fuzzy Wuzzy, who are at that getting acquainted stage. So far that isn’t going well. Spooky is not liking the new interloper. We’re hoping that will change at some point.

Jen: Are you involved in any charitable causes that have influenced you in a personal or professional way?

Adrianne: I can’t say that I’m actively involved in any charitable causes per se, but losing our oldest daughter in 2009 to cervical cancer—that was detected too late—is something I try to tell people about in order to keep this from happening to someone they love. This is a cancer that is not familial. It can occur in any woman at any age. A pap smear will find it early and when caught early it can be stopped in its tracks and vanquished. Since losing Kim, I find I write more lightness into my stories. The darkness of that real life battle makes me long for something to smile about. Kim wanted me to keep writing and when the writing seems tough, I remember that.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects! Happy summer!

Adrianne: Jen, I’m so honored to have this opportunity to chat with you and your readers. Thank you so much. Wishing you and your readers a summer of fun, sun, and great books!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Adrianne Lee. Please stop by your favorite online retailer or local library branch and download a copy of Decadent today. Better yet, how would you like to win a free e-book instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered into the contest. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)
What is the name of the town in Adrianne’s upcoming release A WEDDING TO DIE FOR?
Later this month, I will be bringing to you my interview with Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Matchmaker. You won’t want to miss it.

Books to Movies – Masterpiece Book & Film Club

June 2nd, 2014

Masterpiece, the television institution on PBS, has a great website that tells you everything you want to know about Masterpiece and upcoming Masterpiece shows.  You can watch shows online, check the schedule, learn about the background to the shows, and even shop.

Perhaps most interesting to those who love both to read and watch movies is the MASTERPIECE Book & Film Club feature.  Click here to find out how to host and run a book and film club.  This is what it says:

“You love to read and watch movies. Why not combine your passion for both with a MASTERPIECE Book & Film Club? Gather with friends — in a library, at home, in a café — to talk about books, films, costumes, actors, and more.

A MASTERPIECE Book & Film Club combines the appeal of a book club with the opportunity be a film critic. It’s also a great way to get to know people in a new town or to meet like-minded people. Best of all, it’s fun!

We have provided all the tools you need for your Book & Film Club, including the Book and Film Club Handbook (PDF), plus guides with discussion questions, background info, activities, and even recipes. (If you’re an educator, don’t forget to check out over 30 MASTERPIECE Teacher’s Guides.)”

There are nearly thirty Book & Film Club Guides, organized by author or title. Some guides include several works by an author. You can download the PDFs and find related links from the Masterpiece archive.

Even if you don’t start a regular book and movie club, there are plenty of ideas here to enhance a single book discussion. Choose one of the classics behind a Masterpiece mini series, such as He Knew He Was Right, or the the books behind a series such as the Wallender mysteries.  Happy reading!