Jen’s Jewels with Kate White

August 15th, 2014

Jen: As a former Jen’s Jewels, I am thrilled to welcome you back again. Your latest release, Eyes on You, is a peek into the cut-throat world of television. Please give us a brief overview of the premise, and why you chose to tackle this specific topic.
Kate: It’s about a TV host named Robin Trainer who realizes one day that she has a secret enemy. At first she thinks the nasty pranks this person pulls are just minor stuff, but they soon escalate, and it’s clear that this enemy really wants to bring her down. What’s even scarier is that it’s someone she knows and sees every day but she has no idea who.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long did it take for you to complete the manuscript? And, what was the most challenging part of the process?  
Kate: I try to finish each book in a year, based on what the publisher demands, and I have to say that’s really the most challenging part. Readers expect you to come out with a book a year. But it would be heaven to have a few months in advance of writing to really think about the next idea. As is, I have to be thinking of a new idea while I’m finishing up the most current book.

Jen: In what way did you draw from your own professional experiences in order to make the storyline ring true with your readers?
Kate: I’ve been on a lot of television shows and my husband was a TV anchor for many years. Though I wouldn’t want to be a TV personality, that world fascinates me and I tried to draw on all the mental notes I’d taken while being on shows and watching my husband’s career. I also brought in some of the office politics I’d witnessed in my job. You can run into some very difficult people at work.

Jen: Professionally, you have been involved in both print and television. Do you have a preference, and why?
Kate: Oh print for sure compared to television, and more and more, digital. My family always gets excited when I’m on TV but I’m just not drawn to that professionally. I love to write and edit.

Jen: The sexual tension between Robin Trainer and her co-anchor, Carter Brooks, boosts the show’s television ratings, but also causes her to become a target for jealous naysayers. In light of her circumstances, why does Robin choose to keep the evil threats against her private rather than garnering public support?      
Kate: Robin’s boss has called her on the carpet about poaching a guest from the show of another anchor, Vicky Cruz. Robin feels that because of her boss’s actions, it would be best at this time not to be at the center of any drama, so she doesn’t say anything initially. I’ve learned from the few tough bosses I’ve had that it’s important to read them and to hear them. Or it’s, “Ouch!”

Jen: Immediately, Robin points the finger at her colleague, Vicky Cruz, as the source behind the personal attacks. Why does Robin choose not to confront her head-on? Is Robin’s ladylike demeanor a sign of weakness, or a mere act of brilliance as she waits for the situation to implode in due time?
Kate:  Robin just doesn’t have enough proof. That’s the scary thing. The culprit never leaves any real clues to his or her identity.

Jen: As the threats continue, how does it affect Robin’s relationship with her peers and upper management?
Kate: Yes. When you start claiming that someone is after you, there’s a real danger that people will think you’re exaggerating—or crazy!

Jen: How does the influence of social media today affect a person’s (such as your character Robin’s) climb up the corporate ladder?
Kate: It depends on the field. A year or so ago, an editor in chief of a woman’s magazine who had no social media presence was replaced by someone with 30,000 followers. Look around you. Is it important in your job or your field? I always say that it’s key in a job to not just look ahead but behind you. What are younger people doing? But if it’s not necessary, don’t waste your time.

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.  
Kate: I actually have two websites. katewhite.com for my mysteries and katewhitecareers.com for my career books and information. It’s not what I’d advise for every author but I have two distinct types of books I love to write.

Jen: What is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?
Kate: Katewhite.com. I list all my news on the site.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with my readers?
Kate: Oh, I love the book I’m working on now. It’s about a woman who meets an attractive man on vacation who is from her same city and when she arrives at his apartment for a date, post-vacation, the man who answers the door isn’t him.

Jen: When taking a break from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Kate: I love to cook—in fact, I just finished editing the Mystery Writers of America cookbook, due out next April. I love to travel, particularly adventure travel. Part of the year, I live in Uruguay, which I absolutely love. Wonderful country. And, don’t tell anyone, I am a fanatic about bird watching.

Jen: Are you involved in any charitable causes that have influenced you in a personal or professional way?
Kate: Yes, but I like to be under the radar with 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!
Kate: Thank you so much for giving me the chance to speak to your fans!!

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Kate White. Please stop by your local bookstore, library, or online retailer and pick up a copy of Eyes on You today. Better yet, how would you like to win a free copy 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 lead character in Eyes on You?

Next month, I will be chatting with Carolyn T. Dingman about her upcoming release, Cancel the Wedding. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido, and on Instagram @JenVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.             

Jen’s Jewels with Candis Terry

June 30th, 2014

Summer is the perfect time for a hot, new romance. Don’t you agree? There’s just something about the warm weather, cool breezes, and gorgeous sunsets that spark new relationships.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a trendy teenager or a sexy senior, when the stars align magic can happen. Yet, sometimes relationships have a way of becoming complicated especially when two strong personalities are paired together. But, the end result of finding the ideal match is well worth taking a chance.  

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Candis Terry addresses this very topic in her latest release, Something Sweeter. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Candis about her amazing career as well as her new summer read. As part of my interview, Avon Books has generously donated five copies for my trivia contest listed below. (Winners will be randomly drawn. Offer void where prohibited.) Be sure to stop by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook JenniferVido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido for the most up-to-date news in the publishing world.

Jen: As a multi-published contemporary romance 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.
Candis: My educational background is a mish-mash of the arts—music, art history, design, drama, creative writing. As a kid I was the one orchestrating the neighborhood talent shows. So it was pretty clear early on that I’d never be a person who sat behind a desk pushing numbers around. My professional background is just as diverse. After high school I was a hairdresser, then I worked as a recording engineer in Hollywood, I designed MTV type of costumes for 80’s hair bands, then I discovered the world of graphic design and I worked in the advertising/marketing industry for over 30 years. I took me 22 years of working hard to become a published author. I think discovering long ago all those arts that weren’t widely accepted in the business world helped me develop the patience and stick-to-itness to finally realize my dream.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Candis: Well, I didn’t actually decide to take the plunge into the career. I sort of morphed into it. For years I dabbled in writing (angst-riddled teenage poetry!). I had many teachers encourage my writing, including my college drama professor who highly recommended I give up the idea of acting and stick to storytelling. When my daughter was an infant who refused to sleep through the night, a friend handed me a stack of romance novels to read. Reading and rocking that nocturnal baby girl a light bulb went off, but I didn’t begin to write until four years later. From there I developed an unshakable passion for writing. It just took me a while to figure out where I fit in. I always wrote stories that were either before or behind the newest genre craze. It began to wear on me. I’d decided to just write one last book (after 10 manuscripts that never sold) to see if I could get it published after that I’d just write because I love to. But I was going to write that final story in my own way, in my own voice, and to heck with what anyone out there was actually looking for. I never imagined it would sell. I’d almost given up. Until my good friend NYT bestselling author Rachel Gibson laughed at me and said, “I almost gave up too. Right before I sold.” And guess what? That’s exactly what happened to me. Moon and stars perfectly aligned? I think so.

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?  
Candis: Generally it takes me a solid four months to write a single title book and about two to three weeks for a novella. Without a doubt the most challenging part is digging deep beneath all the witty banter, the hot bodies, and the sexy grins to find the “real” motivations and backstories of the characters. I’ve often started out in one direction with a pretty solid outline of the story, and somehow the characters always take me in another direction. The weirdest thing is when I’m writing a series, all these little nuances come together throughout each book and work like stair steps into the next book. It’s like I planned it! I’m humble enough to know I’m just not that savvy. My characters (and my amazing editor) are smart enough to help me figure it out. For instance, something pretty major is revealed in Something Sweeter and after it happened, I realized the events that had taken place in the previous two Sweet, Texas books had been leading up to it. I totally didn’t see it coming! Even after I typed the words, I looked at them several times, wanting to delete them because they didn’t fit into what I had originally planned. In the end, I let it go because it made total sense. Bu it still shocked me!

Jen: Your latest release Something Sweeter is the third book in the Sweet, Texas series. For those readers not familiar with the previous titles, what is the premise of the series?
Candis: The series is based on five brothers who are all former or current Marines, except for their oldest brother who was killed in Afghanistan. The overall storyline is based on how each of them deals with the loss and tries to move on and find his way back to the real world. Of course with the help of the woman who’s strong enough to take him on. The Sweet, Texas books are more than just about a romance, they’re about family (even the four-legged furry members), a town, and a community that all come together to help each other out. Most of the time it’s done in a very humorous fashion. But there are plenty of tears to be shed, too.

Jen: Please give us a sneak peek behind Allison and Jesse’s story in your fabulous summer read.
Candis: I’d just finished writing Anything But Sweet with Reno Wilder, the strong, silent, sexy cowboy with a tragic past that has left him unable to move forward. And Sweetest Mistake with Jackson Wilder, a hot, strong-willed fireman with a sensitive heart who always manages to say the wrong thing. Jackson and I went head-to-head every single day I worked with him. By the time we wrapped up his story, I needed a break. Jesse Wilder was my fun guy, who, of course, was harboring a heartbreaking secret. They never make it easy on me. His troubles really start when Allison Lane, the daughter of the man about to marry his mother and who is also the woman who blew Jesse off the night before, pops into his life. Allison might be a wedding planner, but that doesn’t mean she has to believe in the whole happily ever after thing. For whatever reason—maybe because of the way she fills out a pair of jeans—Jesse takes it upon himself to change her mind. Even if personally he has no intention of ever saying wedding vows. It’s a pretty fun ride.

Jen: As you were writing the book, did you feel a certain connection to one of the characters?
Candis: I always do. I guess that’s what makes the books so special to me. Allison’s past haunts me in many ways. The hardest scene to write was the conversation she had with her father about her past. When I reach deep into the characters, I need to find something from real life to relate to. Whether it comes from me, a friend, or a story I’ve heard from somewhere, I need to give that extra connection to my characters. I hope that’s why I get messages from readers who tell me how a characters story resonates in them. That’s very important to me.

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.  
Candis: I’ve really tried to give my readers and potential readers everything I’ve ever wanted to see on a website. I offer the ‘buy’ links to all the books for easy access. I provide a healthy excerpt along with the Playlist for each book. I also offer recipes from the characters. I always post my blog tours, my upcoming appearances, and there’s also a press kit just in case. I do blog and sometimes run a contest giveaway from there though I’m more likely to do that on Facebook these days.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?
Candis: I’m all over the place! Staying in touch with my readers is vital. They are number one. My website is www.candisterry.com Twitter is @CandisTerry and Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Candis-Terry/131817443567853?focus_composer=true&ref_type=bookmark

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Candis: I just finished Sweet Surprise (Fiona Wilder’s story—February 2015 release), and now I’m actually working on two new books. Sweet Cowboy Christmas is a Sweet, Texas novella that will be published through the Avon Impulse line in early December 2014. And after that will be baby brother, Jake Wilder’s story (a yet to be named late 2015 release).

Jen: When you take a break from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Candis: Away from a computer! I have a large country garden that challenges me to keep my flowers and vegetables alive during the scorching summers. Also my family and I take our trailer out to the Idaho forests to ATV, fish, and enjoy nature. It’s how I refill my creative well. I write small town romances and we are always stopping in small towns. So I get plenty of food for heart and imagination.

Jen: Are you involved in any charitable causes that have influenced you in a personal or professional way?
Candis: I’ve always been involved in community/charity support and over the years have created many projects to support causes such as the Special Olympics (I had a brother who suffered severe brain damage and muscular dystrophy), the Humane Society, http://www.nowzad.com an organization that rescues strays and abandoned animals in Afghanistan and often reunites the animal with their adoptive soldier, and the Women and Children’s Alliance (safety, healing and freedom from domestic abuse & sexual assault).

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!
Candis: Thank you so much for having me here. I’m never to busy to meet and chat with people. That’s how I meet my newest best friends! Wishing you all the very best!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Candis Terry. Please stop by your favorite online retailer or local library branch and pick up a copy of Something Sweetertoday. Better yet, how would you like to win a free copy instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered to win. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)
What is the title of Candis’ next project?
Later this month, I will be chatting with Kate White, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine about her new release, Eyes on You. You won’t want to miss it. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on today’s hottest authors.

Hail and Farewell!

June 16th, 2014

Hi Readers!

At some time this week BlogaBook will be closing down.  I, Elizabeth Pratt, your heretofore anonymous Editor since December 29, 2006 when I wrote the opening post for BlogaBook, am retiring from the Materials Management Department of Harford County Public Library.  Over the years I have preferred to stay anonymous and let the books speak for themselves.  I hope you have enjoyed the mix of recreational reading I have showcased for you.  HCPL has a wonderful collection!  We are continuously adding to it the marvelous things you, our customers, tell us you want to read!

Over the years various members of our library staff, whose names you may have recognized, have posted guest reviews.  I want to thank all of them for their contributions!

HCPL is committed to helping you find the good books you like.  Look out for even more new and exciting ways to do this on our redesigned web pages very soon!

Happy reading!

Elizabeth

Mystery and Suspense You May Have Missed

June 16th, 2014

Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham.

“Psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is being pushed away. His marriage is ending. Charlie, his eldest daughter, will barely speak to him. And Charlie’s rebellious best friend Sienna is getting into more and more trouble, and taking Charlie along for the ride. Sienna has been almost like family to O’Loughlin-a troubled child who for years spent more time in the O’Loughlin residence than her own home. O’Loughlin’s worst fears are confirmed when Sienna turns up at his front door, traumatized and covered in blood. The police find a major piece of the puzzle at Sienna’s house: her father Ray Hegarty, a celebrated former police officer, murdered. The blood covering Sienna was her father’s. She can’t remember what happened, but, at the same time, doesn’t mourn her father’s death. O’Loughlin vows to unearth the dark secrets of Sienna’s mind, hoping his efforts will win back the confidence of a daughter he may be in danger of losing forever. But as the accusations fly, the line between victim and accused begins to blur. When the detective in charge of the case seems all too eager to lay the blame at Sienna’s feet rather than malign the honor of a respected former colleague, O’Loughlin begins to make his own inquiries. But each step he takes toward the truth also brings him closer to the path of a manipulative killer unlike anything he has ever encountered”– Provided by publisher.

The Devil She Knows by Bill Loehfelm.

“Struggling with a dead-end job and a strained relationship with her mother, Maureen witnesses a gay encounter between a co-worker and an aspiring politician and is threatened into silence, a situation that is complicated by the co-worker’s suspicious death.”

 

Iron House by John Hart.

“At the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, there was nothing but time. Time to burn and time to kill, time for two young orphans to learn that life isn’t won without a fight. Julian survives only because his older brother, Michael, is fearless and fiercely protective. When tensions boil over and a boy is brutally killed, there is only one sacrifice left for Michael to make: He flees the orphanage and takes the blame with him. For two decades, Michael has been an enforcer in New York’s world of organized crime, a prince of the streets so widely feared he rarely has to kill anymore. But the life he’s fought to build unravels when he meets Elena, a beautiful innocent who teaches him the meaning and power of love. He wants a fresh start with her, the chance to start a family like the one he and Julian never had. But someone else is holding the strings. And escape is not that easy… The mob boss who gave Michael his blessing to begin anew is dying, and his son is intent on making Michael pay for his betrayal. Determined to protect the ones he loves, Michael spirits Elena- who knows nothing of his past crimes, or the peril he’s laid at her door- back to North Carolina, to the place he was born and the brother he lost so long ago. There, he will encounter a whole new level of danger, a thicket of deceit and violence that leads inexorably to the one place he’s been running from his whole life: Iron House.”–From book jacket.

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo.

“Two young women are found murdered in Oslo, both drowned in their own blood. Media coverage quickly reaches fever pitch: Could this be the work of a serial killer?

The crime scenes offer no coherent clues, the police investigation is stalled, and the one man who might be able to help doesn’t want to be found. Traumatized by his last case, Inspector Harry Hole has lost himself in the squalor of Hong Kong’s opium dens. Yet when he is compelled, at last, to return to Norway—his father is dying—Harry’s buried instincts begin to take over. After a female MP is discovered brutally murdered, nothing can keep him from the investigation.

There is little to go on: a piece of rope, a scrap of wool, a bit of gravel, an unexpected connection between the victims. And Harry will soon come to understand that he is dealing with a psychopath for whom “insanity is a vital retreat,” someone who will put him to the test—in both his professional and personal lives—as never before.” (Random House, Inc.)

Poison Flower by Thomas Perry.

“Protecting a man wrongly charged with the murder of his wife, Jane Whitefield is shot and abducted by the real culprits, who threaten to kill her if she does not reveal her client’s whereabouts.”

 

 

Red Means Run by Brad Smith.

“Mickey Dupree is one of the most successful criminal attorneys in upstate New York. The upside of being Mickey: he has never lost a capital murder case. The downside: Mickey has a lot of enemies, and one of them has just driven the shaft of a golf club through his heart, leaving him dead in a sand trap at his exclusive country club. The cops, led by a gung ho but dim-witted detective named Joe Brady, focus their attentions on Virgil Cain. Just two weeks earlier, Virgil told a crowded bar that “somebody ought to blow Mickey’s head off,” after the slippery lawyer earned an acquittal for Alan Comstock, the man accused of murdering Virgil’s wife. Comstock, a legendary record producer, gun nut, and certifiable lunatic, has returned to his estate, where he lives with his wife, the long-suffering Jane. Virgil is convinced that the fix is in when Brady immediately throws him into jail with no investigation. So Virgil escapes from custody, determined to find Mickey’s killer himself. His only ally is the smart and sexy Claire Marchand, a detective who is at least willing to consider that Virgil may be telling the truth. Now it’s up to Virgil to prove his innocence, and to do that he needs to find the killer. Before the killer finds him.”

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante.

“Implicated in the murder of her best friend, Jennifer White, a brilliant retired surgeon with dementia, struggles with fractured memories of their complex relationship and wonders if she actually committed the crime.”

 

 

Wyatt by Garry Disher.

“Garry Disher’s cool, enigmatic anti-hero Wyatt has a job–a jewel heist. The kind Wyatt likes. Nothing extravagant, nothing greedy. Stake out the international courier, one Alain Le Page, hold up the goods in transit and get away fast.

Wyatt prefers to work alone, but this is Eddie Oberin’s job. Eddie’s very smart ex-wife Lydia has the inside information. Add Wyatt’s planning genius and meticulous preparation, and what could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. And when you wrong Wyatt, you don’t get to just walk away.

Taut plots, brilliant writing and relentless pace; plus an unforgettable cast, including the ever-elusive Wyatt himself: these are the hallmarks of Garry Disher’s Wyatt series.  (Random House, Inc.)

Ranchero by Rick Gavin.

“Repo man Nick Reid had a seemingly simple job to do: talk to Percy Dwayne Dubois— pronounced “Dew-boys,” front-loaded and hick specific—about the payments he’s behind on for a flat screen TV, or repossess it. But Percy Dwayne wouldn’t give in. Nope, instead he saw fit to go all white-trash philosophical and decided that since the world was stacked against him anyway, he might as well fight it. He hit Nick over the head with a fireplace shovel, tied him up with a length of lamp cord, and stole the mint-condition calypso coral-colored 1969 Ranchero that Nick had borrowed from his landlady. And he took the TV with him on a rowdy ride across the Mississippi Delta.

Nick and his best friend Desmond, fellow repo man in Indianola, Mississippi, have no choice but to go after him. The fact that the trail eventually leads to Guy, a meth cooker recently set up in the Delta after the Feds ran him out of New Orleans, is of no consequence—Nick will do anything to get the Ranchero back. And it turns out he might have to.

An original and ballsy road-trip of a crime novel—most of it in Desmond’s ex-wife’s Geo—Ranchero is an unforgettable read and a fantastic series debut.” (McMillan Palgrave)

Sister: a novel by Rosamund Lupton.

“When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered. Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life–and all its secrets.

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficultly with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong. As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder–and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

A thrilling story of fierce love between siblings, Sister is a suspenseful and accomplished debut with a stunning twist.” (Random House, Inc.)

Click on a title and go straight to our catalog.  Editor

Views on American History and Politics

June 16th, 2014

The Second Amendment: A Biography by Michael Waldman.

“By the president of the prestigious Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the life story of the most controversial, volatile, misunderstood provision of the Bill of Rights. At a time of renewed debate over guns in America, what does the Second Amendment mean? This book looks at history to provide some surprising, illuminating answers. The Amendment was written to calm public fear that the new national government would crush the state militias made up of all (white) adult men–who were required to own a gun to serve. Waldman recounts the raucous public debate that has surrounded the amendment from its inception to the present. As the country spread to the Western frontier, violence spread too. But through it all, gun control was abundant. In the 20th century, with Prohibition and gangsterism, the first federal control laws were passed. In all four separate times the Supreme Court ruled against a constitutional right to own a gun. The present debate picked up in the 1970s–part of a backlash to the liberal 1960s and a resurgence of libertarianism. A newly radicalized NRA entered the campaign to oppose gun control and elevate the status of an obscure constitutional provision. In 2008, in a case that reached the Court after a focused drive by conservative lawyers, the US Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Constitution protects an individual right to gun ownership. Famous for his theory of “originalism,” Justice Antonin Scalia twisted it in this instance to base his argument on contemporary conditions. In The Second Amendment: A Biography, Michael Waldman shows that our view of the amendment is set, at each stage, not by a pristine constitutional text, but by the push and pull, the rough and tumble of political advocacy and public agitation”– Provided by publisher.

I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir by James Webb.

“James Webb, author of Fields of Fire, the classic novel of the Vietnam War–former U.S. Senator; Secretary of the Navy; recipient of the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart as a combat Marine; and a self-described “military brat”–has written an extraordinary memoir of his early years, “a love story–love of family, love of country, love of service,” in his words. Webb’s mother grew up in the poverty-stricken cotton fields of Eastern Arkansas. His father and life-time hero was the first of many generations of Webbs, whose roots are in Appalachia, to finish high school. He flew bombers in World War II, cargo planes in the Berlin Airlift, graduated from college in middle age, and became an expert in the nation’s most advanced weaponry. Webb’s account of his childhood is a tremendous American saga as the family endures the constant moves and challenges of the rarely examined Post-World War II military, with his stern but emotionally invested father, loving and resolute mother, a granite-like grandmother who held the family together during his father’s frequent deployments, and an assortment of invincible aunts, siblings, and cousins. His account of his four years at Annapolis are painfully honest but in the end triumphant. His description of Vietnam’s most brutal battlefields breaks new literary ground. One of the most highly decorated combat Marines of that war, he is a respected expert on the history and conduct of the war. Webb’s novelist’s eyes and ears invest this work with remarkable power, whether he is describing the resiliency that grew from constant relocations during his childhood, the longing for his absent father, his poignant goodbye to his parents as he leaves for Vietnam, his role as a 23-year-old lieutenant through months of constant combat, or his election to the Senate where he was known for his expertise in national defense, foreign policy, and economic fairness. This is a life that could only happen in America” — from publisher’s web site.

Editor

Memoirs You May Have Missed

June 16th, 2014

Click on a title to go straight to our catalog.

Stand Up Straight and Sing!: A Memoir by Jessye Norman.

“The opera star describes her childhood in the segregated South, the values that shaped her ambitions, her meteoric rise at the Berlin Opera, and the accomplishments that have established her as one of America’s most decorated singers.”

 

First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung.

“From a childhood survivor of Cambodia’s brutal Pol Pot regime comes an unforgettable narrative of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her family, and their triumph of spirit.

Until the age of five, Lounge Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. While her beautiful mother worried that Loung was a troublemaker — that she stomped around like a thirsty cow — her beloved father knew Lounge was a clever girl.

When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung’s family fled their home and moved from village to village to hide their identity, their education, their former life of privilege. Eventually, the family dispersed in order to survive.

Because Lounge was resilient and determined, she was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, while other siblings were sent to labor camps. As the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia,destroying the Khmer Rouge, Loung and her surviving siblings were slowly reunited.

Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother, the vision of the others — and sustained be her sister’s gentle kindness amid brutality — Loung forged on to create for herself a courageous new life.” (HarperCollins)

The Happiness Project: or why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun by Gretchen Rubin.

“A thoughtful and prescriptive work on happiness filled with practical advice, sharp insight, charm, and humor.”

 

 

Just Kids by Patti Smith.

“In this memoir, singer-songwriter Patti Smith shares tales of New York City : the denizens of Max’s Kansas City, the Hotel Chelsea, Scribner’s, Brentano’s and Strand bookstores and her new life in Brooklyn with a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe–the man who changed her life with his love, friendship, and genius.”

 

A Pearl in the Storm: how I found my heart in the middle of the ocean by Tori Murden McClure.

“During June 1998, Tori McClure set out to row across the Atlantic Ocean by herself in a 23-foot plywood boat with no motor or sail. She lost communications, but nevertheless decided to keep going, without updates on the location of the Gulf Stream and the weather–in what became the North Atlantic’s worst hurricane season. When a series of violent storms nearly killed her, she had to signal for help and go home in what felt like complete disgrace. Back in Kentucky, however, Tori’s life began to change. At the age of 35, she embarked on a serious relationship for the first time, making her feel even more vulnerable than sitting alone in the middle of the Atlantic. But she knew she did not want to be known as the woman who “almost” rowed across the Atlantic Ocean.” (From publisher description)

A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates.

A Widow’s Story illuminates one woman’s struggle to comprehend a life without the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century. As never before, Joyce Carol Oates shares the derangement of denial, the anguish of loss, the disorientation of the survivor amid a nightmare of “death-duties,” and the solace of friendship. She writes unflinchingly of the experience of grief—the almost unbearable suspense of the hospital vigil, the treacherous “pools” of memory that surround us, the vocabulary of illness, the absurdities of commercialized forms of mourning. Here is a frank acknowledgment of the widow’s desperation—only gradually yielding to the recognition that “this is my life now.”

Enlivened by the piercing vision, acute perception, and mordant humor that are the hallmarks of the work of Joyce Carol Oates, this moving tale of life and death, love and grief, offers a candid, never-before-glimpsed view of the acclaimed author and fiercely private woman.” (Blackwell Publishing)

Editor

 

 

Charles Wright New Poet Laureate

June 16th, 2014

Thursday, June 12, the Library of Congress named as the next poet laureate Charles Wright, whose work, the New York Times said, fuses “the legacy of European modernism with mystical evocations of the landscape of the American South.”

Wright is a retired professor at the University of Virginia and has won “just about every other honor in the poetry world, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.”

James Billington, the librarian of Congress, praised Wright for his “combination of literary elegance and genuine humility–it’s just the rare alchemy of a great poet.” Wright’s work offers, he said, “an infinite array of beautiful words reflected with constant freshness.”

Here are two of Wright’s works in our catalog:

Black Zodiac

Publishers Weekly review in our catalog:

“”Out of any two thoughts I have, one is devoted to death,” proclaims Wright in this ominous collection of new work. Perhaps because these poems were written around his 60th birthday or perhaps because an imperative moves all good Southern writers to flirt with dissolution, Wright has begun to consider the end that nears. On these pages he creates and explores an almost surreal present purgatory built from varying amounts of Zen Buddhism, memories, paradox and pastoral opulence. Gertrude Stein, Sappho, his physician and a golf buddy all cast their influence. The language is lilting and pacific even as its embedded imagery disturbs: “Honeysuckle and poison ivy jumbling out of the hedge,/ Magnolia beak and white tongue, landscape’s off-load, love’s lisp” (“Apologia pro Vita Sua, III”). Attachment to the things of the world tightens: “Swallows darting like fish through the alabaster air,/ Cleansing the cleanliness, feeding on seen and the unseen./ To come back as one of them!” (“Meditation on Song and Structure”). On the page, as always, Wright’s passages refuse to cohere into peaceful stanzas. Scattered and making a break for the right-hand margin, the lines add to the unease that haunts the book, magnifying a nagging sense of disorder and mortality amid an effort at resignation.” Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews.

Bye-and-bye: selected late poems

“Over the course of nineteen collections of poems, Charles Wright has built one of the truly distinctive bodies of poetry created in the second half of the twentieth century’”(David Young, Contemporary Poets). Bye-and-Bye, which brings together selections from Wright’s more recent work–including the entirety of Littlefoot, Wright’s moving, book-length meditation on mortality–showcases the themes and images that have defined his mature work: the true affinity between writer and subject, human and nature; the tenuous relationship between description and actuality; and the search for a truth that transcends change and death. Bye-and-Bye is a wonderful introduction to the late work of one of America’s finest and best-loved poets” (Provided by publisher).

Editor

Acts of God: Stories

June 16th, 2014

Acts of God:  Stories by Ellen Gilchrist

For years now I have found the short stories of Ellen Gilchrist to be a pleasure to read.  The selection here does not disappoint.  Each of the ten stories involves a plot that hinges on what might be an act of God that irrevocably alters the direction of the story’s direction.  Whether it be Hurricane Katrina, a tornado, a medical crisis, or dogs that incessantly bark and annoy the neighbors, each act, whether apocalyptic or ordinary, brings about a change in character, fate, or landscape that shifts something and leads the story on in a direction not expected.

When I think of Gilchrist, I think of one of the many gifted Southern storytellers, full of narratives inhabited by quirky characters, who entertain us, enlighten us, or maybe even haunt us.  In these stories the characters whom we meet seem rather ordinary folks:  EMS workers, a housewife, business people traveling to Europe, friends and neighbors.  But then something happens, and life shifts a bit under their feet, setting them in a direction different from where they thought they were headed. Do they emerge as the same people?  Most likely not, but then we’ve had the pleasure of watching them change and grow under the weight of that big or little shift in direction.  This collection if full of surprises and just plain, good old Southern storytelling.

D. L. S.

Ideal Vacation Reads

June 16th, 2014

Click on a highlighted title to go straight to our catalog.

Air Bound: a Sea Haven Novel by Christine Feehan.

“For as far back as she can remember, Airiana Ridell has always been aware of her extraordinary gift. She can intuit revealing and illuminating “patterns” in the air around her – whether in a spray of mist, in billowing clouds, or in the dense swirls of an impenetrable fog. Her abilities led to her placement in a secret government training facility when she was a child, but everything changed after her mother was murdered. Airiana fled the program, but she couldn?t outrun the desperate members of a shadowy cabal who want her, who need her, who will kill to get her. Kidnapped and held aboard a ship bound for dangerous seas, her only chance for rescue is Maxim Prakenskii. He has his reasons for helping her, but he isn’t about to reveal them to Airiana. Not yet. Not as the two are drawn together as moth to flame. Not when there are so many secrets yet untold that could shatter the quaint community of Sea Haven and all who reside there?”

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts introduces you to the Montgomery brothers—Beckett, Ryder, and Owen—as they bring an intimate bed-and-breakfast to life in their hometown.

Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist—and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers bust on his compulsive list-making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery McTavish…

Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation—and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent.

As Avery and Owen cautiously take their relationship to another level, the opening of the inn gives the whole town of Boonsboro a reason to celebrate. But Owen’s hard work has only begun. Getting Avery to let down her guard is going to take longer than he expected—and so will getting her to realize that her first boyfriend is going to be her last…” (Penguin Putnam)

Read the first chapter in our catalog.

The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag.

“Minneapolis investigators Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska find themselves in pursuit of a serial killer whose latest victim is a bullied adolescent who desperately sought a normal life.”

We also have the audiobook.

 

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead.

“In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America. Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills. When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.”

You may download the ebook.

Blood Red by Mercedes Lackey.

“Little Red Riding Hood’s real name is Gretchen Schwarzwald, and she is from the Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) in Germany. Ten years ago, she was orphaned by an evil Earth Master who wanted her parents’ land and killed them all with the werewolves he created. She was rescued by a Fire Master, a member of the Woodsman’s Lodge, and taught how to use her own Fire Powers. Now another werewolf pack is ravaging Exmoor, and she has come to help London’s White Lodge eradicate it and find and destroy the Elemental Master behind it” — From publisher’s website.

A Long Time Gone by Karen White.

“When Vivien Walker left her home in the Mississippi Delta, she swore never to go back, as generations of the women in her family had. But in the spring, nine years to the day since she’d left, that’s exactly what happens–Vivien returns, fleeing from a broken marriage and her lost dreams for children. What she hopes to find is solace with “Bootsie,” her dear grandmother who raised her, a Walker woman with a knack for making everything all right. But instead she finds that her grandmother has died and that her estranged mother is drifting further away from her memories. Now Vivien is forced into the unexpected role of caretaker, challenging her personal quest to find the girl she herself once was. But for Vivien things change in ways she cannot imagine when a violent storm reveals the remains of a long-dead woman buried near the Walker home, not far from the cypress swamp that is soon to give up its ghosts. Vivien knows there is now only one way to rediscover herself–by uncovering the secrets of her family and breaking the cycle of loss that has haunted her them for generations” (Provided by publisher)

Also check out the eaudiobook.

Editor

Jen’s Jewels with Elin Hilderbrand

June 13th, 2014

Let’s be honest. We’ve all tried our hand at matchmaking. Who can resist the temptation of pairing a close friend or co-worker with a potential mate? Not this hopeless romantic! With some careful planning and good ol’ fashion luck, the stars have been known to align. Many of these relationships have even blossomed into happily-ever-after unions. Whether it’s a match made in heaven or a horrid dating disaster, it’s definitely worth a try.    

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Elin Hilderbrand addresses this very topic in her latest release aptly titled, The Matchmaker. Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with her about this fabulous summer read and much more. As part of my interview, Little, Brown & Company has generously donated five copies for my trivia contest listed below. (Winners will be randomly drawn. Offer void where prohibited.) Be sure to stop by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook JenniferVido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido for the most up-to-date news in the publishing world.

 

Jen: As a bestselling author with thirteen books in print, 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.
Elin: I went to the Johns Hopkins University undergrad, then took 5 years off to live in both New York City and Nantucket, and then I returned to school to pursue my MFA at the University of Iowa.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Elin: When I was seven years old, I won the second grade “Top Author” award, and that’s when I decided to take the plunge.  I never wanted to do or be anything else.

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? 
Elin: Start to finish it’s about a year.  I compose for nine months and then I revise for 6-8 weeks.  The revising is very, very difficult because at that point, you have a completed novel so it’s a logic problem as to how to rearrange and rethink the elements to maximum advantage, suspense, and readability.

Jen: Which novel has been your personal favorite to write, and why?
Elin: Bizarrely, my favorite to write was WINTER STREET, my Christmas novel, which is coming out October 14th.  I think because I had been doing “summer,” for so long it was a nice change to hang out inside by the fire.

Jen: Your latest release The Matchmaker is the perfect beach read about losing and finding love. How did you arrive at the premise?
Elin:  I wanted to write a novel about a successful matchmaker who wanted to find matches for her husband, her lover, and her grown daughter before she died.  The way this one line evolved into the novel is too Byzantine to explain.

Jen: Your main character Dabney Kimball Beech has a natural gift for matchmaking. Why did you choose to incorporate that into the storyline? Have you ever tried your hand at matchmaking?
Elin: My last novel, Beautiful Day, was a novel about a wedding, and about marriage in general.  At the end of that novel, I, as a person, concluded that marriage is ultimately about luck.  In this way, Dabney emerged.  You’ll note she does not have any scientific reason for setting up her couples.  It’s all done on the basis of “auras,” or in other words, her gut instinct.  Which is as good a barometer as any I know.  I personally feel that every human being probably has the power for matching up one other couple in their lives, but my time hasn’t come.

Jen: As you were writing the book, did you feel a certain connection to one of the characters?
Elin: I was really fond of Clendenin.  He had just come back from Vietnam, a place I adore, and it was fun for me to write about his memories there.  He’s a very complex, very wounded individual.

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.
Elin: I have hit a bump in the road with my health, so some of my early tour has been postponed.  However, I will be in Chicago at the end of June.  Then I am on Martha’s Vineyard, in Cohasset, Philadelphia, Bergen County, the Jersey Shore, and down in coastal Delaware, which is always a highlight.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?
Elin:  I normally tweet a couple of times a day @elinhilderbrand and my Facebook page tells where I’m going to be and when.  For excellent photos of my kids, one might follow me on Instagram @elinhilderbrand

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Elin:  I finished WINTER STREET in March, then started on my novel for next summer, which is called THE RUMOR.  It’s going to be scandalous.

Jen: When you take a break from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Elin: I go to the beach.  I read.  I cook.  I travel – this past year, I’ve been to Hawaii, Cabo, and St John, Boca Raton, Houston and San Diego, where I stayed at the Coronado with my kids.  I always love Manhattan; it’s my home away from home.

Jen: Are you involved in any charitable causes that have influenced you in a personal or professional way?
Elin:  I have supported many Nantucket non-profits over the years, but my favorite is the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club; I served on the Board of Directors for 12 years.  I’m also involved with PASCON (Hospice) and A Safe Place.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. Best of luck on your book tour! Happy summer!
Elin:  Thank you for reading!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Elin Hilderbrand. Please stop by your favorite online retailer or local library branch and pick up a copy of The Matchmakertoday. Better yet, how would you like to win a free copy instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered to win. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)
What is the name of Elin’s upcoming Christmas novel?
Stay tuned for more in-depth author interviews coming this summer. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on today’s hottest authors.