Articles on this Page
- 11/21/13--08:42: _Mysterious Literary...
- 11/21/13--08:45: _Fifty Years Later: ...
- 11/21/13--09:11: _Old-Fashioned Love ...
- 11/25/13--08:02: _4 Powerful Truths A...
- 11/27/13--05:00: _Science Fiction Wed...
- 11/30/13--10:50: _Retro Reads Decembe...
- 12/03/13--06:57: _Author's Note on Ch...
- 12/03/13--07:00: _Give the Gift of E:...
- 12/03/13--09:05: _Retro Reads Decembe...
- 12/05/13--09:00: _Holiday Gift Guide:...
- 12/06/13--12:59: _Gift of E: Author T...
- 12/09/13--12:05: _A Gift Guide for Mo...
- 12/09/13--21:56: _Lost in Ebook Land?...
- 12/10/13--07:56: _Feminism through th...
- 12/10/13--09:55: _November Retro Read...
- 12/11/13--06:00: _Science Fiction Wed...
- 12/11/13--08:00: _Christmas Mysteries...
- 12/11/13--13:18: _Jerry Engels: The U...
- 12/12/13--06:00: _An Interview with J...
- 12/13/13--08:00: _A Secret Santa Gift...
- 11/21/13--08:42: Mysterious Literary Mustaches of Movember
- 11/21/13--08:45: Fifty Years Later: Revisiting Camelot
- 11/25/13--08:02: 4 Powerful Truths About Rape From Susan Brownmiller
- 11/27/13--05:00: Science Fiction Wednesday: Jak Is Back
- 12/03/13--06:57: Author's Note on Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol
- 12/03/13--07:00: Give the Gift of E: A How-To Guide
- 12/05/13--09:00: Holiday Gift Guide: Choose the Perfect Ebook for Your Dad
- 12/06/13--12:59: Gift of E: Author Traditions
- 12/09/13--12:05: A Gift Guide for Mom: Choose the Perfect Ebook This Holiday
- 12/10/13--09:55: November Retro Reads Roundup
- 12/11/13--06:00: Science Fiction Wednesday: Winter Goosebumps
- 12/11/13--08:00: Christmas Mysteries: 13 Excerpts to Set the Season
- Dorothy L. Sayers
- Ellery Queen
- Charlotte MacLeod
- William Bernhardt
- Lawrence Sanders
- Jane Haddam
- Stuart Palmer
- Jane Dentinger
- William L. DeAndrea
- Gillian White
- Loren D. Estleman
- Patricia Wentworth
- Jane Langton
- 12/11/13--13:18: Jerry Engels: The Ultimate Adolescent Ladies’ Man
- 12/12/13--06:00: An Interview with Janice Law
- 12/13/13--08:00: A Secret Santa Gift Guide: Pick the Right Ebook for Your Coworker
Happy Movember! The month of November has long been devoted to mustaches, and we hope you're wearing yours loud and proud! Check out a few of our favorite mysterious mustaches below.
“The song he loved most came at the very end of this record, the last side of Camelot, sad Camelot . . .
‘Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot,
For one brief shining moment
That was known as Camelot.’
. . . There’ll never be another Camelot again.”
—Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, December 6, 1963
Fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the nation is still infatuated with the legacy of Camelot—the spirit of a man, a president, and a family, and the senselessness of one single event that changed the course of history.
With over one hundred fifty books on the subject written this year alone, there is no shortage of information on all things Camelot. To aid in making your reading decisions on this monumental anniversary, we’ve compiled a summary of our Kennedy titles, sure to help you whittle that list.
Not in Your Lifetime by Anthony Summers: Summers’s book offers a full analysis of November 22, 1963. Addressing each theory surrounding the assassination, it is the most complete presentation of the murder mystery that still haunts America fifty years later.
Oswald’s Game by Jean Davison: Slicing into the psychological core of Lee Harvey Oswald, Davison’s book aims to understand the troubled man whose violence changed the course of American history.
Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye by Kenneth P. O’Donnell and David F. Powers: O’Donnell and Powers, close friends of Kennedy and members of his “Irish Mafia,” give an intimate portrayal of the political career of an icon: from his first campaign for Congress to his tragic end as president.
Case Closed by Gerald Posner: Posner’s book addresses—and refutes—the many conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy with authority drawn from official interviews and sources.
Upstairs at the White House by J. B. West and Mary Lynn Kotz: In his twenty-eight years as chief usher of the White House, J. B. West gained unusually intimate knowledge of the first families, including an inside view of life in the Kennedy White House and the aftermath of the assassination.
With Malice by Dale K. Myers: Myers explores the murder of Officer J. D. Tippit, inextricably tied to the assassination of President Kennedy. With previously unpublished photos, Myers puts thirty-five years of research on paper in With Malice to fill in important gaps in the understanding of what really happened that tragic day.
A Common Good by Helen O’Donnell: O’Donnell’s book tells the story of the friendship between her father, Kenneth P. O’Donnell, and Robert F. Kennedy. From Harvard to Kenneth O’Donnell’s term as chief of staff during the Kennedy administration, Helen O’Donnell paints an unflinching picture of a relationship both political and personal.
Kennedy Justice by Victor Navasky: An account of the Kennedy years, Navasky’s book takes an investigative look at Robert F. Kennedy, a champion of fairness, and the interaction between power and principle in his political strategy.
The first-ever British novel to portray unconcealed homosexual love,The Charioteer by Mary Renault is a monumental work of historical and gay literature. Published in 1953 in Britain, the book celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this year.
Unlike other novels by Renault, who is renowned for her masterful historical fiction set in ancient Greece, The Charioteer has the more contemporary setting of World War II. However, Renault’s love of the ancient world is just as deeply if not as explicitly embedded in the story of The Charioteer. The works of Plato, especially the dialogues Phaedrus and The Symposium, largely inform the story.
Take a closer look at how Plato influenced Renault’s novel and show off your new knowledge to your friends, colleagues, and family in honor of The Charioteer’s sixtieth anniversary:
The Gift: The protagonist, Laurie Odell, who goes on to fight in World War II, first meets Ralph when they are in school. Just before parting ways, Ralph gives Laurie a copy of Plato’s Phaedrus, a dialogue between Socrates and Phaedrus. Laurie carries the gift with him throughout the war. When he ends up in a hospital, wounded, the book is battered and bloody but still in his possession.
The Title: The Charioteer refers to the chariot allegory in Phaedrus, in which a charioteer drives a team of horses, one white and one black. His goal is to guide the chariot up into the heavens—but he can’t control his horses. The charioteer, who represents the soul, needs to strike a balance in order to master the two animals and ascend to the heavens.
The Characters: In the novel, Laurie symbolizes the charioteer. Two other characters, Andrew and Ralph, correspond to the horses in the allegory. The white horse embodies noble characteristics, the black horse base and earthly traits. Andrew, an orderly in the hospital where Laurie is sent to recover, is the white horse. The love Andrew and Laurie share is chaste, pure, and innocent. Ralph, on the other hand, is the black horse. Laurie loves Ralph with a passion that is more earthly and physical than what he feels for Andrew. Inevitably, Laurie must choose between these two men who are polar opposites.
The Love Triangle: The types of love represented by Andrew and Ralph, one pure and one carnal, have their roots in Plato’s philosophy. The idea of platonic love originates in Socrates’s speech from Plato’s Symposium. Will Laurie be satisfied by the platonic love he shares with Andrew, or will he crave a relationship of a different nature with Ralph?
Philosophy offers a final layer of meaning to The Charioteer. As made evident by the discussions of heterosexual and homosexual love in the Symposium and Phaedrus, the ancient Greeks accepted homosexuality in their culture in a way that Mary Renault’s contemporaries did not. Drawing on the Greeks, Renault incorporated homosexuality into her novel in a way that was groundbreaking at the time. For sixty years now, The Charioteer has been praised as an extremely important contribution to gay literature.
The Charioteer's anniversary is accompanied by another major milestone: the thirtieth anniversary of Renault’s death on December 13, 2013. Investigating history and sharing in her passion for ancient Greek culture is a wonderful way to celebrate her life and literary contributions.
Today is the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, an occasion for governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations to raise public awareness of violence against women. It has been observed on November 25 each year since 2000.
Part of raising true awareness is dispelling the pernicious myths that persist in regard to violence against women, specifically rape. Here Susan Brownmiller, activist and author of Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape offers four poignant truths about the victimization of women.
1. The accepted concept of rape is one of gender inequality. “To simply learn the word 'rape' is to take instruction in the power relationship between males and females…Fairy tales are full of a vague dread, a catastrophe that seems to befall only little girls. Sweet, feminine Little Red Riding Hood is off to visit her dear old grandmother in the woods. The wolf lurks in the shadows, contemplating a tender morsel.”
2. Women do not have an inherent desire to be raped. “The rape fantasy exists in women as a man-made iceberg. It can be destroyed—by feminism…women have either succumbed to the male notion of appropriate female sexual fantasy or we have found ourselves largely unable to fantasize at all.”
3. Pop culture has made weakness a desirable female quality. “Strength, heroism, invincibility and mature middle age were qualities reserved for the men as they rode off into the sunset. For the women, vulnerability was inextricably tied in with being sexy, from the moody Ava Gardner to the wispy Mia Farrow.”
4. “Purity” has no effect on rape. “The crime of rape must be totally separated from all traditional concepts of chastity, for the very meaning of chastity presupposes that it is a woman’s duty (but not a man’s) to refrain from sex outside the matrimonial union. That sexual activity renders a woman 'unchaste' is a totally male view of the female as his pure vessel.”
Jak is back! This time the solar system’s biggest party animal is plunged into a world of danger and intrigue beyond imagination, and he is forced to ask, “Where’s the party?”
John Barnes is the acclaimed science fiction author behind the Jak Jinnaka novels and has written over thirty novels in his career. Among his most popular works is the space thriller Encounter with Tiber, which he cowrote with astronaut-turned-author Buzz Aldrin. His novels Orbital Resonance, A Million Open Doors, and Mother of Storms have all been nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel.
In an interview with the website Hard Science Fiction, Barnes credits his mother as the main influence for his becoming a writer. He says, “My mother wrote . . . and so there was just never a time when I was unaware of writing as a possible way to exist.” As for the things that inform his writing, Barnes points to his frustrations with the simplicity of some of the science fiction works he read growing up:
“One thing I always thought was frustrating about Heinlein juveniles, for example, was that they tended to end just when they were getting good—right as everything opened up into a hopeless-to-interpret weirdsville. Asimov had that problem for me, too; once the intellectual puzzle he wrote about was solved, he put the pieces away. I guess I like to think about going one step farther behind the scenery, or sticking around for one more act.”
Barnes takes readers on a wild ride through weirdsville in the first Jinnaka installment, The Duke of Uranium. Jak Jinnaka’s thirty-sixth-century teenage life has been nothing but fun—ignoring school, partying outrageously with his beautiful girlfriend, Sesh, and spending his uncle Sib’s huge fortune. But while they are out for a wild night of postgraduation clubbing, Sesh is kidnapped by the dangerous and enigmatic Duke of Uranium.
Join the wildest party in the universe with Jak and the rest of the gang. Download The Duke of Uranium straight to your ereader now!
THE WORLD HAS changed radically sinceChip Crockett’s Christmas Carol was first serialized on SciFiction.com in December 2000. Sandy Becker had died in 1996, but Joey Ramone was still alive. The Twin Towers had not yet fallen. Books were still primarily a carbon-based technology. The Internet wasn’t exactly a novelty, but it hadn’t colonized the world to the extent it has today, and there was still exhilaration and joy and even amazement to be had in discovering some long-lost friend or song or forgotten corner of the world online.
Another change: Since 2000, the prevalence of autism has increased, though whether this is due to improved diagnostic procedures or external environmental or genetic factors remains unknown. There’s still no cure, but new treatments are available along with more tools for early diagnosis and intervention, not to mention developments that couldn’t be imagined in the world in which four-year-old Peter Keegan lives: gene therapy; computer apps; and internships, scholarships, and post-secondary schools for those with Asperger’s syndrome and other forms of high-functioning autism (as of 2013, these are now given the single diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder).
Last Christmas season, twenty first-grade children and six faculty members died in the inconceivable horror of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut (perpetrated by a deeply troubled young man who had Asperger’s). One of those children was Dylan Hockley, an autistic child who died in the arms of his special-education teacher, Anne Marie Murphy. I knew Anne Marie as Annie McGowan: She was a classmate of my younger sister Kathleen at John F. Kennedy Catholic High School, attended by both our families. Kath described Annie as “a good friend, but probably every person who knew her considered themselves to be her good friend, because she made them feel that way.”
Anne Marie’s parents have asked that any donations in their daughter’s memory be given to Autism Speaks, America’s largest autism advocacy and research organization. All royalties from this edition of Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol will go to Autism Speaks in Anne Marie Murphy’s name. You can learn more about this organization, or contribute individually to Anne Marie’s tribute page, at the links below.
With the holiday shopping season upon us, Open Road offers a stress-free solution to gift buying. This season, we’ve made it easy for you to avoid crowded malls, long lines at the post office, and the crushing feeling that time is running out. Buy an ebook now and schedule delivery for the exact date you want it to arrive. Readers can enjoy their new gifts on an ereader, tablet, smartphone, or PC.
Whether you’re shopping for your best friend, significant other, parent, grandparent, cousin, or that uncle you never know what to get, this is the easiest way to start checking people off your list. Check out our ebook gift guide, where you’ll be sure to find something for everyone on your list!
Not sure how to give an ebook? Check out our how-to videos to learn how to give an ebook for each device.
And for a written guide, check out our gift-giving instructions here:
With the holidays just around the corner, we’ve been on the lookout for a good romance to hunker down with. Sometimes, the best books come to us through recommendations by friends. That’s the case with this month’s Retro Reads pick, Come Pour the Wine by Cynthia Freeman. It was suggested as a possible Retro Read by a colleague, who, despite not working with romance novels, “could not put it down!” We took her word for it—and we’re glad we did.
Come Pour the Wine follows teenager Janet Stevens in her journey from the Midwest to New York City to pursue a high-octane modeling career. When she falls in love with the intriguing Bill McNeil at a party, it seems her future is established. But as middle age sets in and the marriage dissolves, Janet finds herself learning brand-new lessons about life—and about love.
While the setting is an initial draw (1950s New York City—does it get better?), it is the story of self-discovery and soul-searching that we fell more and more in love with at each plot turn. The book teaches an important lesson about womanhood: that women, like wine, only improve with age.
Check back throughout the month for updates from our Retro Readers on this month’s picks and find us on Goodreads in the Retro Readers Group. Or, sign up for our romance newsletter and we’ll send you a monthly roundup of everything romance at Open Road, including Retro Reads updates and info on new releases, bonus content, giveaways, special offers, and more.
Racking your brain trying to think of an exciting new gift for your dad this holiday season? Check out our gift guide for dads and choose the perfect ebook—we guarantee it will outdo the usual tie. And if you’re not sure how to give an ebook, watch our how-to videos. Whether your father schedules his life around sports games, movie marathons, or the oven timer, the right gift is just a few clicks away!
Now that Thanksgiving is fully behind us, it is safe to break out those holiday decorations, pour yourself a winterized cocktail, and start reminiscing about favorite holiday traditions. Of course, there is no right or wrong way to do this, as author Andy Briggs explains. “I start putting up holiday decorations on December First and I’m getting earlier every year.” Find out when some of our other favorite authors decide it’s time to dust off that old trust box of favorite decorations and spread holiday cheer in their own homes.
“I put up holiday decorations at the beginning of Advent . . . I’ve always made a paper city for the Advent season. Each building, one through twenty-five, can be opened on its appropriate day to reveal a little gift inside.” —Chris Raschka
“I usually start to force hyacinths in October so they’ll bloom in February. I start to grow paperwhites on the day after Thanksgiving and keep them going in batches for quite a while. My favorite holiday tradition is definitely forcing bulbs.”—Melanie Falick
“[I make] family dinner on Christmas Eve with my homemade cranberry apricot chutney. This year I’m adding Chinese five-spice and pineapple! Also on the menu for this year: pumpkin bread, creamed spinach, balsamic-glazed brussels sprouts, mmmmm. I’m getting hungry writing this.” —Laura Dower
“My father’s birthday was November twenty-fifth, so that was always the traditional delineation of the Christmas season. I am a Christmas-tree fanatic. I have always had a little tree, even when I was at university. My first year in my own apartment, I had no decorations for my tree, so my roommate and I made dozens of multicolored origami paper cranes to hang on it.” —Elizabeth Wein
“I decorate to the extremes, I start playing Christmas music the day after Halloween, I bake tons of goodies, I’m a bit famous among friends for my homemade eggnog (rum and brandy!), and honestly, I drive everyone crazy with my holiday spirit! Last year the decorations stayed up till almost Valentine’s Day . . . and why is it that it’s always lots more fun to put them up than to take them down?” —Richie Tankersley Cusick
“I like to attend Hanukkah parties and light candles in a room full of family and friends.” —Jacqueline Jules
“My favorite holiday tradition is absolutely the setting up of the Nativity sets and the Christmas trees. I usually wait until the middle of December to decorate the house, and I leave the decorations up until Candlemas Day on February second.” —Tomie dePaola
Another year, another challenge—what to get the woman who gives you everything? Luckily for you, we’ve put together a handy gift guide to help you choose the perfect ebook! And if you need help figuring out how to give ebooks as gifts, watch our how-to videos for every device.
It’s a fact that authors spend a good amount of time around books. So, how exactly do they pick the most memorable ones—the best books they have given and received as gifts? We asked some of our favorite authors how they determine whom to gift what book, as well as the books they themselves count among the best gifts that they have received.
“Mine, of course! When a new book comes out, my contract calls for me to get fifteen or twenty free copies. I give them to my mother, my sister, my friends, my nieces, nephews, teachers, librarians, plumbers, painters, and other guys who do work on my house. Sometimes I give them to strangers who are particularly nice to me.” —Dan Gutman
“Not mine! James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks. If we are talking about mine, then depending upon the age of recipient: Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, The Devil’s Arithmetic, Briar Rose. My son Jason’s coffee table book about Kiawah Island is the best book I’ve received as a gift.” —Jane Yolen
“I love giving STC Craft books, of course. It makes me so happy when we create something that becomes meaningful to others. A People and Their Quilts is the best book I’ve received as a gift. My husband gave me this book many years ago and it inspired me to learn about women and their cultures through their textiles. It also inspired the first book I wrote, Knitting in America (which is now called AmericaKnits in paperback).” —Melanie Falick
“The best book I received was Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay, which was given to me by an aunt at exactly the right point in my teenage years for my romantic young self to appreciate it.” —Lois Duncan
“My favorite‘gift’-book authors: Peggy Rathmann for the younger set: Good Night, Gorilla; Officer Buckle and Gloria; and 10 Minutes till Bedtime are some of my favorites of all time, mostly because if you look close, the characters and animals all live in the same town. For my grown-up pals, I often choose Keri Smith books. Her interactive journals like Wreck This Journal and The Pocket Scavenger are THE BEST for giving someone a little creative inspiration. And her website rocks, too: www.kerismith.com. The best book I received as a gift was: any blank journal that invites me to write my own stuff.” —Laura Dower
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson is my all-time favorite Christmas book. It’s so funny and beautiful. If you haven’t read it, drop everything and read it now. The Story of the Other Wise Man, by Henry van Dyke, was my father’s favorite. He was superintendent of Sunday schools when I grew up, and he told this story to the junior high students every year. It’s a very emotional story and we had lumps in our throats when he finished.” —Caroline B. Cooney
“My favorite book accompanies me on all my adventures—it’s Michael Crichton’s Travels. The best book I’ve received as a gift would have to be The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle—it made me want to discover dinosaurs!” —Andy Briggs
“My favorite book to give as a gift is The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber, illustrated by Marc Simont. This is pretty much my favorite book ever. The best book I’ve ever received as a gift was from my father, a beautiful boxed edition of The Lord of the Rings at age eleven, which I proceeded to read twenty times.” —Elizabeth Wein
For more holiday cheer and tips on how to give ebooks as gifts, visit www.giftofe.com.
Since 1973, one novel has been named time and time again as a large step in the right direction for the feminist movement: Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying.
To celebrate this fall’s 40th anniversary of the release of Fear of Flying, we have rounded up some of the most monumental steps forward—and some of the unfortunate steps backward—in the feminist movement since the first printing of Erica Jong’s landmark work.
Last month, we went contemporary with Sandra Kitt’s Close Encounters. Kitt’s tale of an interracial love affair that blooms between a divorced cop and a newly single professor has an undeniable emotional core; Close Encounters bravely addresses the reality of racial and class conflict while remaining, at its heart, a love story.
Our Retro Readers provided a wealth of insight into this month’s pick. Ruth admitted that she wasn’t such a huge fan of contemporaries but found Close Encounters to be “a real eye-opener,” noting that “the romance itself is absolutely beautifully written” and confessing that the book “has partially restored my faith in contemporaries.” Rosee concurred, adding that the story was “handled with grace and finesse . . . a story to please fans of many genres.” Julie noted the complexity of the novel, arguing that it is a “romantic suspense, crime novel, a love story and a family drama all rolled into one.”
As an added bonus, Sandra joined us this month in a discussion thread hosted on our Goodreads page. From November 20 to 22, Sandra answered reader questions ranging from specifics on Close Encounters to her process as a writer. Full of tips and insight, Sandra advises would-be writers to “pay attention to, and believe in, your own voice. Write the story that you feel passionate about, and don’t worry about writing to a trend. And, don’t be afraid to take a risk and write about difficult subjects. Be honest, and don’t take the easy way out.” Check back in on our discussion thread for more pearls of wisdom from Sandra.
Check out these reviews and our ongoing discussion over in our Retro Reads Goodreads group; feel free to join the conversation and add your own topics!
This month’s pick is from our dear colleague Carly. She works primarily with literary fiction and recommended Cynthia Freeman’s Come Pour the Wine as an ideal choice for Retro Reads. So we are broadening our horizons and are enjoying the more literary side of romance—we hope you will, too!
If you need a break from all of the holiday cheer; check out our collection of spooky sci-fi stories for some post-Halloween thrills and chills. It will take more than a cup of hot tea to get rid of the paranormal goosebumps these ebooks serve up; you will be left with a lingering chill long after winter is over.From the Teeth of Angels by Jonathan Carroll
At first it seems like an ordinary dream. Talkative Englishman Ian McGann meets a long-dead acquaintance and asks him questions about the afterlife. But when he awakes, a thick pink scar stretches across his chest. Each subsequent night, as he dreams of death, he asks more questions, understands less, and awakens with increasingly gruesome injuries. When he meets an American traveler in Sardinia and tells him of his experience, the stranger begins having matching dreams—with the same painful results. Across the globe, a former TV icon struggles with leukemia, and a movie star falls in love with an HIV-positive photographer. All are flirting with death, and the more they struggle to understand the mysteries of the afterlife, the more they realize the world is not nearly as simple as they once believed. Famous Ghosts by Hans Holzer
In this groundbreaking book, Hans Holzer tracks down the most famous and infamous ghosts who lurk among national monuments, historical houses and mansions, and even museums. Holzer searches for true encounters with eminent politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Woodrow Wilson; literary ghosts such as Robert Louis Stevenson; and Hollywood ghosts, including Jean Harlow. Each new encounter is more fascinating than the last, as Holzer investigates notable souls who have moved to the world beyond. Bethany’s Sin by Robert R. McCammon
Despite its eerie name, Bethany’s Sin is a pleasant place. After a life of grim poverty, this new community seems like heaven to Evan Reid and his family. With its quaint shops, manicured lawns, and fresh summer smell, the town charms the Vietnam veteran, his wife, and their daughter like nowhere else they have ever been. But beneath that cheerful façade lurks something deadly. As soon as they enter their new house, Evan is consumed by fear. He can’t place its source, but there is something about the town’s mayor, Kathryn Drago, that makes him uneasy. By day she is a harmless retired archaeologist. But at night she leads an Amazonian cult whose next ritual calls for a secret ingredient: the blood of Evan Reid.
Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon
After watching his asthmatic daughter suffer in the foul city air, Theodore Constantine decides to get back to the land. When he and his wife search New England for the perfect nineteenth-century home, they find no township more charming, no countryside more idyllic than the farming village of Cornwall Coombe. Here they begin a new life: simple, pure, close to nature—and ultimately more terrifying than Manhattan’s darkest alley.
'Tis the season for suspense! There's no better way to get into the holiday spirit than by plunging into ten Christmas-themed mysteries and thrillers (and three more to ring in the New Year!). This sampler includes excerpts from classic favorites, contemporary bestsellers, and little-known gems by authors including:
To begin reading, find the sampler on NetGalley here.
Jerry Engels is “the Boy Who Liked Girls.” Not cars or sports or politics—girls. In At the Shores by Thomas Rogers, Jerry spends the summers of his youth at the beaches of Lake Michigan, flirting his way toward adulthood.
At the Shores is often compared to The Catcher in the Rye as an equally compelling, if lesser known, American coming-of-age story. And while Holden Caulfield purports not to like girls (“I mean most girls are so dumb and all”), he might change his mind if he saw Jerry’s list of the girls who most catch his eye.
Jerry’s catalog of girls culminates with Rosalind Ingleside, whom Jerry falls for during his junior year of high school. Rosalind is nice, beautiful, and friendly—how could he resist? But even though Rosalind is “the perfect girl,” she is not the only one for Jerry, who started flirting with the ladies in this list as early as the cradle. Here they are in chronological order.
Jerry Engels’s List of Loves
1.A doll:“He treated his first girl, a disheveled doll, with apache roughness, dragging her around by an arm or a leg.”
2.Louise, the girl next door:“He had played with her under the spirea bushes on Davis Avenue in Whiting, Indiana, and he associated her with the lilies of the valley that grew under the spireas and with the patch of bare dirt where they had made mud pies.”
3.All the girls, really:“He loved the girls in his class, the girls on the block, the maid at home, his sister’s friends, some of his mother’s friends, and all his teachers except Miss Miller who wore a red wig and scared him. He even loved girls he just happened to see out the window of the car.”
Author Thomas Rogers, a graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, taught creative writing at Pennsylvania State University for three decades. Rogers is known for his wry wit and graceful ability to portray young love and alienation. Among fans of Rogers’s work is Philip Roth, who says, “If I had a class in American Adolescence, I’d teach At the Shores in tandem with The Catcher in the Rye and Growing Up Absurd.”
Enroll in Roth’s imaginary course by reading At the Shores, a classic novel of a young man in love with women, the world, and love itself, now available as an ebook: http://www.openroadmedia.com/at-the-shores
Janice Law is an acclaimed author of mystery fiction and a painter, whose first novel, The Big Payoff (1977), was nominated for an Edgar Award. The Prisoner of the Riviera (2013), a historical mystery starring the famous painter Francis Bacon, is her most recent novel. She lives and writes in Connecticut. Visit Unabridged Chick for the original interview, a review of The Prisoner of the Riviera, a review of Fires in London (2012), and a giveaway!
What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?
The plot of my first novel was, believe it or not, based on the then-ongoing Watergate hearings. I kept thinking that some underpaid secretary must know what was going on. My underpaid secretary became Anna Peters and I moved the plot and cover-up to a big-oil firm—not the smartest move because I had to keep researching the petroleum industry, about which I knew nothing.
Do you have any writing rituals or routines?
When I am writing I try to write every morning except Sunday when I go to play duets with an old friend. To save my voice, frazzled from many years of teaching in large classrooms, I have High Quality Bruce on the Apple voice-synthesizer read my work. For many years Bruce had a faintly Swedish accent and now in my inner ear, I hear all my work in his tone. Rather odd!
What inspired you to write mysteries featuring Francis Bacon?
I happened to read Michael Peppiatt’s fine biography of Francis Bacon and the idea just came to me, although in general I do not like the idea of making detectives out of the famous. But Bacon stuck in my mind, perhaps because I am a quite serious painter myself. The vast differences between his life and mine and between our personalities deterred me for a while, until I learned that he lived with his old nanny. That fact decided it, because I grew up downstairs on a big estate and that was a relationship I figured I understood.
Was The Prisoner of the Riviera the original title of your book?
I think The Prisoner of the Rivierawas my initial idea. Often I get either a plot or a good title but not both, but this time the muse smiled on me. I think I have a good title for the conclusion of the trilogy, too, as a matter of fact.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
I paint a great deal and do a lot of drawings. I garden, play the violin (badly), and go birding.
Read any good books recently?
I love almost everything by Kate Atkinson and enjoyed her Life After Life—also the new Fred Vargas, The Ghost Riders of Ordebec. Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers was good and I really was impressed by Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat, about the American eights that won gold in the Berlin Olympics. Also Douglas Smith’s grim but enlightening Former People about the destruction of the Russian aristocracy (and middle class).
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