Book of the Week #35

Dangerous Denial by Amy Ray (Vancouver, WA: Barking Rain Press, 2014)

This thriller is NH resident Amy Ray's first novel. Kirkus Reviews said, "Ray takes her time establishing her characters, including the bad guys, and with a rousing, indelible payoff, it's well worth it."

"Denying the past proves deadly for BK Hartshaw and Trevor Mayhew in this gripping noir novel where nothing is as it seems.
BK is a rising star at a public relations firm, and tonight’s charity ball should be a high point in her career. But a closely guarded secret threatens to destroy her chance for happiness with the only man she’s ever loved… a man who is also hiding a deadly secret.
Trevor has tried to put the past behind him, pretending it never happened. But the conniving father he’s been running from for years has finally found him—and is determined to settle the score once and for all.
BK and Trevor’s deeply buried secrets are about to catch up with them—and everyone they know and love. Who will pay the ultimate price for their dangerous denials?" -Publisher's blurb


Ladybug Nominee Profile

Written by Lori Mortensen and illustrated by Michael Allen Austin Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg is the story of Clyde, whose chores are done and is ready for dinner when he notices Dawg "caked with mud from end to end" and a wild chase around the ranch ensues when Clyde decides that "washin' Dawg will be a snap." 

"Gadzooks! Cowpoke Clyde has talents galore, but he just can’t corral that big ol’ dirty Dawg into the washin’ tub, and all Clyde’s efforts lead to some mighty hilarious mischief in this cumulative tale set in the old West. Pitch-perfect rhyming text bounces along with peppy phrases telling the tale of a cowboy who likes to keep things clean and tidy. Clyde tries tactic after tactic to catch his dog for a scrub down, each new method adding another layer of mayhem to the scene, with a lassoed hog, wet chickens and a kicking mule adding to the hilarious hijinks. Finally Clyde takes a bath in the moonlight by himself while singing a “cowpoke tune” beneath a full moon, and that is the winning lure that gets the dirty Dawg into the washtub. Illustrations in acrylics and colored pencils use deep, saturated colors and exaggerated proportions to dramatic effect, with uproarious scenes of screaming cats, a flailing mule and a hog ready to leap right off the page. The frenetic activity is offset by the moonlit scenes of Clyde and Dawg in the tub, with a satisfying conclusion in which all the characters join them for a bath. This is a story that begs to be read aloud with a twangy drawl, perhaps as part of a Western or farm-themed storytime. Plumb funny, fer sure" --Kirkus Review

There is an Activity Guide and a Word Search available for this book. 

The New York Times
included Cowpoke Clyde in a recent Wild West Booklist.

This is one of the ten titles nominated for the 2014 Ladybug Picture Book Award.


Q&A: Betsy Woodman

Betsy Woodman (photo by Joanna Puza)
There are a lot of wonderful writers living in our state, some full-time, some part-time.  As the Director of the NH Center for the Book I get the opportunity to talk to many of them. This interview series of Q&As with New Hampshire authors here on Book Notes lets me share that experience a bit with my blog readers.   

If someone hasn't read your work yet, where should they start?
They should start with Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes (Henry Holt & Co., 2012.) It’s the first volume in the Jana Bibi trilogy; the second and third are Love Potion Number 10 and Emeralds Included.
When did you first think of yourself as a writer?
Rather late in the game—about age forty.

How did you end up living in NH?
I’m a native, born in New London. I grew up in India, but we always considered New Hampshire home. My grandparents lived in Franklin and my dad was born there. I lived in the Boston area for many years, but for the last sixteen years have lived in Andover in a house that originally was my grandfather’s summer cabin.

Where do you like to write?
 Mostly in my study. I also find buses and trains good for getting down notes and first drafts. Restaurants aren’t bad, either!

How important is place in your writing?
Hugely. I set the Jana Bibi series in a fictional cousin of the Himalayan town in India where I went to school as a teenager. The views, sounds, and smells of the place are essential to the feel of the book.
I am passionate about New Hampshire, too, and love to write about New Hampshire topics. My granddad had the first hospital in Franklin, so I wrote the story of that up for Historical New Hampshire (Vol 64, 2010.)

What do you do when you aren't writing?
My major form of recreation is playing Scottish music with the Strathspey and Reel Society of NH. I also swim and am a big movie buff.

What’s the best piece of advice (writing or otherwise) you were ever given?
It was about working, from my sister. We had been talking about how to work—and I said, “work smarter, not harder” (which isn’t very original.) She came back with, “no, work happier!”

What books do you love and what about them speaks to you?
The books I love most deeply are the children’s classics I practically memorized as a kid. Charlotte’s Web stands out for its combination of atmosphere and gentle philosophy. Plus I always loved the idea of animals being wiser than people.

What are you working on now?
A novel set in early twentieth century New Hampshire.

What do you want to share that I neglected to ask about?
 An in-joke that connects New Hampshire and India. I named my fictional town in the Jana Bibi books “Hamara Nagar,” which means “Our Town.” The echo of Thornton Wilder’s play by that name was intentional. I figured small towns all over the world shared some qualities—they make it possible for intimacy, neighborliness, and eccentricity to thrive.
You can learn more about Betsy and her work at www.betsywoodman.com


Book Events This Week

Wednesday, 8/20/2014
  • Gibson's will host the Poetry Society of New Hampshire reading featuring Alice Fogel & Patrice Pinette beginning at 7pm

Thursday, 8/21/2014

Friday, 8/22/2014

  • Marcie Chambers Cuff, author of This Book Was a Tree: Ideas, Adventures, and Inspirations for Rediscovering the Natural World will be at Water Street Bookstore beginning at 7pm.

Saturday, 8/22/2014 

  • Rosaly Bass will be signing and discussing Organic! A Gardener's Handbook at 11am at Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough

  • Michelle Christian will be signing Sunny the Sneaker at Bayswater Books at 1pm. 

  • Toadstool Bookshop, Keene presents "3 Books, Three Authors, and a Bookseller" at 2pm. This is a program featuring Sarah Dupeyron, David Chase, and John T. Hitchner who will be talking with Lincoln Wert about their books, writing, and the challenges of publishing today. 

  • Vicki Croke will be autographing and discussing Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals who Helped him Save Lives in World War 2 at Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough at 2pm.

Family Crafting & Author Event with MARCIE CUFF, author of This Book Was a Tree: Ideas, Adventures, and Inspiration for Rediscovering the Natural World - See more at: http://www.whitebirchbooks.com/events.html#sthash.cx5anlsH.dpuf

 Sunday, 8/24/2014

  • White Birch Books is hosting a family crafting and author event with Marcie Chambers Cuff, author of This Book Was a Tree: Ideas, Adventures, and Inspirations for Rediscovering the Natural World at 11am 



Book of the Week #34

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker, translated by Sam Taylor (NY: Penguin, 2014)
The publishing phenomenon topping bestseller lists around the world, with sales of more than two million copies in Europe and rights sold in more than forty countries, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller, and an ingenious book within a book, by a dazzling young writer.
August 30, 1975: the day fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods, never to be heard from again; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.
Thirty-three years later, Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of the country’s most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer’s block as his publisher’s deadline looms. But Marcus’s plans are violently upended when Harry is suddenly and sensationally implicated in the cold-case murder of Nola Kellergan—whom, he admits, he had an affair with. As the national media convicts Harry, Marcus launches his own investigation, following a trail of clues through his mentor’s books, the backwoods and isolated beaches of New Hampshire, and the hidden history of Somerset’s citizens and the man they hold most dear. To save Harry, his own writing career, and eventually even himself, Marcus must answer three questions, all of which are mysteriously connected: Who killed Nola Kellergan? What happened one misty morning in Somerset in the summer of 1975? And how do you write a book to save someone’s life? --Publisher's blurb

This is a big fat page-turner of a thriller set in a small, seacoast New Hampshire town (which, oddly, looks to Concord as its big town) around the time of the 2008 Presidential election. This novel, which was originally published in France was a huge best-seller there. The reviews of the English translation have been less enthusiastic (see The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, the Guardian, and NPR,). The New York Times, however, called it "unimpeachably terrific" and the Telegraph was positive in its article (which also has a lot of backstory on the author).