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Maureen

Maureen enjoys books from every corner of the library, including the children's room. She will share her favorite fun adult books and also give you titles to bring home for the kids! When not working in the Collection Development department, Maureen can be found rooting for the Ravens or relaxing at the Jersey shore.

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Maureen

Awards Aplenty

posted by: July 1, 2015 - 7:00am

Thief of GloryCover of Ancillary SwordThe Christy Awards were awarded Monday, June 29 at a banquet in Orlando, Florida, with Sigmund Brouwer and Thief of Glory walking away with both "Book of the Year" and "Historical Romance of the Year". The Christy Awards honor and promote excellence in Christian fiction. Awards are given in several genres, including contemporary and suspense. Other winners included Mary Weber’s Storm Siren for "Young Adult" and Feast for Thieves by Marcus Brotherton which picked up the award for "First Novel". The Christy Awards are named in honor of iconic novelist Catherine Marshall’s Christy. A complete list of winners can be found on the Christy Award website.

 

Last weekend, the Locus Award winners were announced in Seattle, Washington, at a banquet emceed by Connie Willis. The Locus Awards are presented to winners of the science fiction and fantasy magazine Locus' annual readers poll. Winner of the "Science Fiction Novel of the Year" went to Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie while the "Fantasy Award" winner was The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. Like the Christys, Locus Awards are also given to best debut and best young adult. Best First Novel was The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert and Young Adult was awarded to Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. For other winners, check out the complete list.


 
 

Between the Covers with Jill Morrow

posted by: July 1, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for NewportJill Morrow’s Newport sends us to the glamorous and wealthy Newport, Rhode Island, of the glitzy 1920s inside a spectacular mansion filled with secrets. Adrian, a debonair lawyer and former resident, has returned to handle a will and encounters the secrets of the Chapman family while dealing with his own murky history. With elements of mystery and dark humor and a cast of distinctly drawn characters, Newport succeeds in bringing the 1920s to life in a finely wrought setting. The New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams noted, “A delicious plunge into the gilded lives and mansions of another era, Newport sends you swimming through an intricate mystery involving money, tragedy, bittersweet love affairs, and voices from beyond, until you arrive at the whirlwind ending. It’s everything you need for literary escape: a ripping good read.”

Local author Jill Morrow has worked in various fields, including practicing law and singing with local bands. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Towson University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law. Meet Jill at The Ivy Bookshop on July 8 at 7 p.m. and get to know her there as she answers questions about her novel, writing and Baltimore of course!

 

BTC: What inspired you to tell a story set in the upper echelons of 1920s Newport society?

Jill Morrow: I wanted to set this story in an era where individuals were particularly vulnerable to the lure of séances and the supernatural. 1921 fit that bill. Following the end of World War I and the influenza epidemic of 1918-19, people were desperate to contact their lost loved ones, and spiritualism experienced a surge in popularity that cut across social class.

Newport appealed to me as a setting because it really had everything needed to enhance this story. There was the beauty of the ocean, the danger of the rocks, the magnificent mansions …and an iconic social class which several characters in the novel longed to join. 

 

BTC: Adrian is at the heart of the story and is a fully developed character who the reader empathizes with immediately. Was it difficult getting inside the head of a man to present an honest portrayal of his emotions and Jill Morrowdevelopment?

JM: Adrian arrived with a story to tell. He was, in fact, the first character in Newport to introduce himself to me. His story unfolded slowly, so I never quite knew where it was going. I was so immersed in each layer revealed along the way that it never struck me that I was writing from a man’s perspective. To me, it was just Adrian’s story, and I wanted to get it right.

 

BTC: How long did the novel take you to complete? Describe your writing process. Do you write every day? Where? Who do you use as a sounding board?  Are there any must-have beverages or snacks to keep you motivated?

JM: My writing process now is very different than it was when I wrote Newport. With Newport, I had yet to give myself permission to treat writing as much more than a hobby, which meant that a manuscript that would probably have taken about a year-and-a-half to write stretched into three years. Life is different now. I write nearly every weekday, although that doesn’t mean I’m always working on my current manuscript. In general, I prefer to write in the mornings, and I like to leave myself notes to help jumpstart my next writing session. I have a great office at home, but if I’m really stuck, I take myself and a legal pad away from home distractions and walk to a coffee shop. (There should be a seat with my name on it at both Towson Hot Bagel and Panera.) I’m a great believer in long walks, too. They help me think.

I was fortunate with Newport: I had talented critique-group members to use as sounding boards.

I’m a coffee person throughout the morning, but I can’t even open the door to snacks, because I am a chocolate person all of the time!

 

BTC: You really bring the Newport of the 1920s to life. How involved was your research for the novel?

JM: I research quite a bit, because I want to get not only the facts of a historical story right, but the texture of the time as well. I usually start by researching the bigger picture. What was the state of the world? Who were the world leaders? What new discoveries or products had just hit the market? How did people spend their leisure time? I research just about everything you can think of, from ground-breaking world events to which toothpaste my characters would use.

I like to research. My problem is knowing when to stop researching and start writing – a misleading statement, since I usually find myself researching each new aspect that reveals itself in a manuscript, which makes research an ongoing process throughout the writing of the story.

I should add, though, that no matter how hard I try to be accurate, no matter how often I triple-check my facts, there is always the chance that something incorrect will slip into the story. I cringe in anticipation of that.

 

BTC: I enjoyed the essays at the end of the book describing the American Spiritualist movement and The Four Hundred. Séances are important to Bennett Chapman. Why was including the spirit world necessary in the telling of this story?

JM: Newport had its roots in an incident I read about years ago. It took place in the late 1860s and involved Victoria Woodhull (who later became the first woman to run for president) and her sister, Tennessee Claflin. These two were the daughters of a con man and a fanatic spiritualist, and it would take more than a brief paragraph to do justice to their vivid lives. In 1870, Victoria and “Tennie” became the first women to open a stock brokerage firm in New York City. They were a success, but whether or not native acumen played into that was open to debate since they were backed by Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in the country. They’d caught Cornelius’ ear at just the right time: He was a superstitious man, still mourning the loss of his beloved first wife, so the sisters began hosting séances for him to “help ease his pain.” Naturally, this arrangement proved fortuitous for all parties involved. The sisters got financial backing, while Cornelius’ broken heart was soothed not only by the séances, but by Tennie, with whom he had an affair. That story started me thinking. At what point do people who grieve become so desperate that they will believe anything? Does anything other than greed motivate the medium? What if the medium is legit, and the messages delivered from “beyond” are real? So, from the very start, the spirit world was in Newport’s DNA. But aside from the obvious plot points, there were subtle benefits to using the supernatural that I didn’t pick up myself until the book was well underway. The spirit world leveled the playing field between classes. In his desperation to hear from his late wife, Bennett Chapman allowed himself to view Catharine and Amy in ways he never would have done otherwise. And all of the characters became vulnerable where “Mrs. Chapman” was concerned, regardless of their class, backgrounds or the secrets they wanted to keep.  

 

BTC: What authors, books or ideas have influenced you? What are you reading now? Is historical fiction a favorite genre? Do you have any favorite historical fiction authors?

JM: I have always enjoyed historical fiction. I’m not sure I could point to any particular authors who have influenced me, but I tend to be drawn to novels where the history doesn’t hijack the story, but instead infuses characters and plots with a sense of time and place. 

I just finished The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James and am looking forward to catching up on her other titles. I enjoy Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig, and am eager to read each of their new summer titles (Tiny Little Thing and The Other Daughter).

I’m currently reading a nonfiction book called Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies.

I like looking at my nightstand and seeing a nice stack of books waiting for me. Right now that stack includes Murder at the Brightwell (Ashley Weaver) and Dark Road to Darjeeling (Deanna Raybourn).

 

BTC: You’ve had a varied career, including working as a lawyer. How did law school and your legal career influence your writing?

JM: My three years of law school were probably my least productive creative-writing years ever. Too many facts jangling in my brain, too much “real life” going on (During those years I also sang in a band, got married and had a baby.) But each life experience has value, not only adding information to my personal databank, but allowing me to understand different approaches and varied patterns of thought. For a writer, that’s invaluable, because it gives me a whole range of choices for fleshing out my characters and their lives.

 

BTC: What’s the best part about living in Baltimore? I know you sang in local bands. Is that something you still do? Do you enjoy the Baltimore music scene?

JM: Baltimore’s history is rich, varied, and not always pretty, and I’m always fascinated by the way those roots have formed the city’s modern-day personality. I’m also amazed by the fact that no matter where you go in this city, you’re likely to run into somebody you know.

I enjoyed the years I spent singing in bands – can I send a shout-out to Fortune and Mariah here? I left band work to perform in musicals, so it’s really been quite some time since I’ve been involved in the Baltimore music scene. I am woefully out of touch!

 

BTC: What can readers expect next?

JM: The novel I’m currently working on is tentatively titled The Road to You and is set in Hollywood during the years 1930-1934. 


 
 

I Take You

posted by: June 11, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for "I Take You"

Lily Wilder, a contemporary Bridget Jones, has everything going for her in Eliza Kennedy’s debut I Take You. Lily is a dedicated attorney who loves her job. She has great friends, a loving, if non-traditional family, and a flawless fiancé who proposed just several months after they met. Their Key West wedding is now a week away and Lily is finally confronting the reality that marriage may not be right for her. Because monogamy is a bit of a problem for Lily, as she has an insatiable appetite for sex, she has been incapable of fidelity in any relationship.

 

Will is brilliant, sexy and stable, while Lily is a charismatic, impulsive fun seeker. While she works hard, she plays harder and her good times involve copious amounts of booze, drugs and sex – recent hookups include  her boss and one of Will’s groomsmen. She thinks she loves Will, but is not sure she wants to transform herself so dramatically, because she actually likes who she is. In Key West, her family, including her mother and two ex-stepmothers, are all convinced this marriage would be a colossal mistake. As Lily struggles with the decision and her lack of remorse about her lifestyle choices, things come to a head when her future mother-in-law uncovers the truth about Lily’s affairs and her youthful indiscretions. Threatening to ruin both Lily’s relationship with Will and her career, Lily is backed up against a wall.

 

Kennedy’s debut is being hailed as the first big beach book of the summer. It is hugely entertaining, funny and engaging, but it is also an honest exploration of traditional stereotypes and the modern meaning of marriage. Kennedy’s ribald tale introduces a poised and memorable young woman struggling with society’s predetermined roles and rules for men and women with regard to sex, commitment and marriage.


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Celebrate the 2015 Tony Awards

posted by: June 5, 2015 - 7:00am

Tony AwardsThe Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as the Tony Award, recognizes achievement in Broadway theatre. The 2015 awards will be presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League on Sunday, June 7 with co-hosts Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming.

 

The frontrunner for Best Play is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, based on the critically acclaimed novel by Mark Haddon. Director Marianne Elliot has been universally praised for bringing the world of Christopher Boone, a young boy with Asperger's syndrome, to life. Vying in the same category is Wolf Hall, based on the best-selling novel by Hilary Mantel.

 

An American in Paris, based on the famed movie starring Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly, garnered 12 nominations for Best Musical. Fun Home also received 12 nominations and is based on the graphic novel by Allison Bechdel, which is the autobiographical story of Bechdel’s coming to terms with her sexuality and dysfunctional family. Sit back and imagine yourself on the Great White Way as you check out 2015's Best Musical cast recordings from our collections. Also available for your listening pleasure are the cast recordings for all three of the nominated Best Musical Revivals: On the Town, On the Twentieth Century and the timeless The King and I. Enjoy the show!


 
 

The Royal We

posted by: June 1, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Royal WeThe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s romance inspired the scrumptious The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Indeed, in their forward, they thank the royal couple for having the second royal baby right when their novel hits the shelves!

 

In this enjoyable glimpse at the improbable path from American coed to princess, fashion bloggers (Go Fug Yourself) Cocks and Morgan replace William with Nicholas and exchange American Rebecca “Bex” Porter for Kate. The novel opens with Bex, anticipating their wedding, retelling their story and reflecting on the sacrifices this love affair has already demanded and the future pressures she anticipates.

 

Bex was the practical twin, unlike her sister Lacey, who never met a love story she didn’t embrace. But when Bex goes to Oxford and finds herself in the same dorm as the charming and handsome Prince Nicholas, a fast friendship quickly turns to romance. Dating the future king of England is glamorous, complete with ritzy trips and dinners at Kensington Palace. While she truly loves Nick, at times the accompanying baggage is overwhelming. Between the phony friends, prickly family members, competitive ex-girlfriends and ubiquitous tabloids, Bex struggles with the burden of royal perfection. This witty unmasking of life behind the palace gates is an entertaining romance with a dynamic yet relatable couple. The equally diverting supporting cast, from school friends to snarky royals, are all sharply drawn and intrinsic to the story. And never fear, Prince Harry is definitely in attendance in the form of Nick’s dashing yet disreputable brother Freddie, while paparazzi favorite Pippa is easily discernable in Bex’s slightly self-centered twin Lacey. This happily-ever-after boasts a strong sense of humor and just a dash of reality to create a picture perfect contemporary fairy tale.


 
 

Surf's Up!

posted by: May 22, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for Beach House HappyCover art for The Nautical HomeCover art for Nautical ChicCan’t get enough of the beach? Bring the sand and surf home with three new books dedicated to embracing this casual lifestyle.

 

Coastal Living Beach House Happy: The Joy of Living by the Water by Antonia Van der Meer offers a glimpse into how to incorporate the ease of beach living into readers’ own homes. The Coastal Living editor revisits 21 homes previously featured in the magazine which she felt were imbued with a happy energy. With almost 200 color photographs and interiors ranging from country to modern, there is something which will appeal to every connoisseur of the seaside way of life. Renowned designer Jonathan Adler wrote the forward and exclaimed, "This beautiful book is my new happy place. Dive in!"

 

The Nautical Home: Coastline-Inspired Ideas to Decorate with Seaside Spirit by interior designer Anna Ornberg is bursting with ideas for bringing the quiet beauty of beach living to your home. Follow her advice and any space can be turned into a beautiful nautical nest. Projects include wooden lampshades, placemats, beanbags and pillowcases. This title has something for everyone and will inspire those at home reinventing single rooms or tackling bigger projects to create their very own oasis of calm.

 

Nautical Chic by Amber Butchart shares the impact seafaring style continues to have in the world of high fashion. This historical survey of nautical panache is a beautifully photographed testament to the iconic looks and perpetual popularity. Each chapter traces a current nautical trend and include, “The Officer” which focuses on the epaulettes, brass buttons and braiding which became Balmain and Givency staples and “The Fisherman” with its look at the classic blue-and-white Breton stripes which were favorites of Chanel and Audrey Hepburn. This lavishly photographed and comprehensive book concludes with “The Pirate” and its homage to Captain Hook, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.


 
 

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