Book of the Week #49

The Urban Legion by Dave Agans (Wilton, NH: B. Mirthy & Sons, 2015)
Traffic jams. Automatic flush sensors. Sharp plastic packaging.
Who’s behind it all?
Hold on to your tin-foil hat and beware the alligators
as you explore a sewerload of absurd conspiracies.
Granola mom Lynn Grady is on assignment as restaurant critic Our Zen Gourmet when a hostile phantom voice invades her head. A stranger appears and, after blocking the voice with an improvised tin-foil hat, recruits Lynn for a hydroponic-farm-to-fork tasting gig. But a surprise attack by armed French waiters plunges her into a high-tech underground war—against her grunge-star ex‑husband—with her teenage daughter at stake. Lynn learns that urban legends are not what they seem as she uncovers a pervasive (and entertainingly plausible) consumer products conspiracy.
The Urban Legion warps your world in a funhouse mirror.
Food courts and airport restrooms will never be the same.
                         --Back cover. 


Book of the Week # 48

No Fret Cooking: Something for Everyone by Marilynn Carter. (Infinity, 2015)

This cookbook by New Hampshire author Marilynn Carter, which includes two CDs of music composed and performed by Steve Carter, seemed like the perfect choice for Thanksgiving week.
"No Fret Cooking, a cookbook blending simple, healthy, yummy recipes accompanied by music to cook and dine by. Together food and music are paired that take you on a culinary adventure to nurture, tantalize, and stimulate your body, mind, and spirit as you prepare and enjoy your food.Focus is on fresh, local, organic ingredients without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Alternative ingredients used to create gluten-free, dairy-free, raw, vegetarian recipes, that even children love.A cookbook for everyone, and no fret, there is room for your own creativity and personalization." --Back cover.


Q&A: Jessie Crockett

Jessie Crockett
There are a lot of wonderful writers living in our state. 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?
Live Free or Die is my first novel and at this time is a stand-alone. Drizzled with Death is the first in my Sugar Grove series. I would suggest starting with either of those.
When did you first think of yourself as a writer? 
  I think for me it was attending the New England Crime Bake for the first time. Spending such a remarkable weekend in the company of other writers with similar questions and passions made me feel like I was really a writer too. 
How did you end up living in NH? 
My family moved to New Hampshire when I was eight years old. My parents were from Maine and wanted to be close to extended family but not quite in the same backyard as everyone else. To them New Hampshire was the perfect location. I’ve loved being here ever since.
Where do you like to write? 
I have a home office where I do the majority of my actual draft writing. I do the early part of my planning and brainstorming for my novels with pen and paper so I tend to be more mobile with that part of the process. In that case I might work at the beach, at a park or while waiting for an appointment.
How important is place in your writing? 
For me place is one of the most important parts of the story. My characters are always entwined with their settings in such a way that they would not be themselves if moved somewhere else. Besides, if you write about New England, like I do, you can’t resist making a bit of a fuss about the wonders of this place.
What do you do when you aren't writing? 
I’m an avid knitter. I love to walk the beach at all times of the year and I love to host parties. I also facilitate a writing group at the local middle school.
What’s the best piece of advice (writing or otherwise) you were ever given?
Several years ago when I was looking for an agent I naturally received a lot of rejections. One week I received seven in just six days. When I emailed my husband to say I was feeling beaten down by the process he told me “Chin up, pen down.” The memory of his wise words kept encouraging me until I finally landed a contract.
What books do you love and what about them speaks to you? 
I love light-hearted reads by E.F. Benson and P.G. Wodehouse because I delight in the outrageous characters and the general silliness. I adore contemplative and magical  books by Alice Hoffman because they are transportive and engrossing and they make me think about the internal lives of others. I devour bleak Scandinavian crime novels like those by Arnaldur Indridason because the language tends to be elegantly spare and the weather described therein makes New Hampshire look mild by comparison.
What are you working on now? 
Thanks for asking! Currently, I’m at work on a new series for Berkley called the Change of Fortune Mysteries. The first one is entitled Whispers Beyond the Veil. It’s a historical mystery set in Old Orchard Beach, Maine in 1898, the year the original pier opened. The story centers around a young woman named Ruby Proulx who comes to live at her aunt’s oceanfront hotel which caters to the Spiritualist community. When a guest and well-known psychic debunker is found murdered near the pier the police turn their investigation on the hotel and its staff of mediums, astrologers and prognosticators. I have been having enormous fun with it and can hardly wait for it to release in fall of 2016!

You can learn more about Jessie and her work at www.jessiecrockett.com


Book of the Week #47

The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company: A History of Enterprise on the Merrimack River by Aurore Eaton; foreword by Robert B. Perreault (History Press, 2015).

"Amoskeag Manufacturing Company experienced extraordinary growth following its founding in 1831. The complex company developed land and water power and produced rifle muskets for the Union army during the Civil War. America fell in love with the beautiful, long-lasting colors and quality of Amoskeag’s iconic gingham. The company’s history is one of engineering genius and invention, enlightened city planning and visionary leadership. It is also the story of the workers, including thousands of eager immigrants who came to Manchester seeking economic opportunity and personal freedom. The company struggled through labor disputes and conflicts between economics and altruism. When the doors finally closed in 1936, local business leaders saved the property from abandonment and extended the Amoskeag legacy through a new wave of prosperity. Author Aurore Eaton explores this revolutionary industry and its lasting significance in Manchester." --publisher's blurb


Book of the Week #46

Awake Chimera by Justine Graykin (Double Dragon Publishing, 2015)
“Justine Graykin’s fascinating new novel Awake Chimera observes three species competing for control of their destinies on an alien world.  Refreshingly, homo sapiens are not the default good guys.  Rather, in one of many pleasant surprises, the focus is on an unlikely friendship between a plucky trader with a long reptilian tail and a shape shifting bureaucrat.   Check it out: Justine Graykin’s SF debut is a winner.” --James Patrick Kelly
Justine Graykin is a New Hampshire author and librarian and this is her second novel.