Earlier this year, author L. Marie Adeline wrote a guest blog post for The Book Case about S.E.C.R.E.T., the first book in her new series that takes erotic romance in a whole different direction while still packing plenty of heat. Unlike the wildly popular Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, in S.E.C.R.E.T., the women are in charge.
At the center of the series is a secret society that helps women struggling with self-esteem issues gain confidence through sexual reawakening. The first book details the sexual journey of Cassie Robichaud as she transforms from shy and lonely to possessing a true passion for life.
With its fresh approach, S.E.C.R.E.T. flew off the shelves, becoming an international bestseller. And now it's time for round two: S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared, which picks up where the first book leaves off. It's Cassie's turn to guide the newest recruit, Dauphine, through her own journey.
Our reviewer says of S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared:
At its heart, S.E.C.R.E.T. is about women helping women. Yes, it’s about women learning to fully embrace their sex lives, but, almost more importantly, it’s about these women realizing their self-worth and figuring out—and going after—what they really want in life. Though self-discovery is not a new theme for erotica, a female lead relying on a supportive community of women to achieve it is unique.
What do you say, readers? Did you read the first book? Will you be reading this second one? Does the female-centric angle sway you one way or the other? We have two copies of S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared to give away. All you have to do to enter is answer any (or all) of these questions in a comment below by the end of the day on Friday. We'll randomly select two winners from among the comments. Official rules are here.
Tim O'Mara is a New York public schoolteacher, the author of the Raymond Donne mystery series and a library supporter. His new book, Crooked Numbers, continues the adventures of hero Raymond Donne, a Brooklyn public schoolteacher and former cop. In a guest blog post, O'Mara shares some his fondest memories of libraries from around the country.
Growing up on Long Island, I lived a five-minute walk from our public library. And my father never let his kids forget it.
Dad wasn’t a book buyer: He was a taxpayer with a library card and the only books I remember him actually owning were a collection of poems by Robert Frost and the Bible. (Both of which he kept by his bedside.) Books were to be borrowed, not purchased. He passed away a few years before I got published and I’d like to think he would have made an exception in the case of my books, but I can’t swear to it.
While promoting my first book, Sacrifice Fly, I have had the pleasure of visiting public libraries all across the country—if the country ended at Columbia, Missouri, that is. To a one, librarians have treated me as visiting royalty. I’ve seen my name on posters, flyers, websites and in local papers. I’ve appeared on local radio and TV shows to promote library events. I’ve received tote bags with library logos, pens and a coffee mug. (“Swag,” I think they call it at the Academy Awards.) I even made the front page of Missouri’s Fulton Sun after a Daniel Boone Public Library-sponsored event. It must have been a slow news day: They got one picture of me reading from the book, and another of me petting Well Read’s store cat. (Gotta get that pet crowd on your side.)
At my reading event in East Meadow—my hometown library—my old mailman showed up. I hadn’t seen him in 20 years, and I recognized him right away. He’s retired now and told me he enjoys a good mystery now and then. (I asked him where the postal clerks go when they disappear to the back. We may collaborate on that one.) I also ran into some old school friends, including a woman from my first grade class who’s now an East Meadow librarian. (She’s a woman now; in first grade she was only 7.)
Out of the blue last year, I was invited by the Newport Rhode Island Public Library to read for them. I figured out the cost of travel and hotel and almost declined the offer. Then I saw that I was part of Newport’s “March is Mystery Month” and that the following week’s reader was Tess Gerritsen. I said yes. If Dr. Gerritsen could find the time with her schedule, who was I—with only a Master’s—to say I was too busy? (I also had the opportunity to visit the Newport Brewing Company with the wonderful Mary Barrett, who’s taste in books is as good as her taste in beer.)
Since Sacrifice Fly came out last year, I’ve had a few friends “confess” that they did not buy the book; they took it out of the library. I find myself reminding them that libraries do buy books and also keep track of how often they’re taken out. The less time the book spends on the shelves, the more bang for the library’s buck and the more likely they are to purchase my next one. I’ve been flattered that many libraries have multiple copies of the book, and I hope they continue the trend and stack the shelves with a few copies of Crooked Numbers, my second book in the Raymond Donne series, published in October 2013 from St. Martin’s/Minotaur Books. (But, if any of my friends are reading this, go ahead and buy the book. Then you can donate it to your public library. We all win.)
Thank you to the public libraries—and their staffs—for introducing me to the wonder of books and for helping me spread the word about my own. Of all my dollars that go into paying taxes, the ones that end up buying books are among the best spent.
My dad taught me that.
Thanks, Tim! Readers, Tim's newest Raymond Donne mystery, Crooked Numbers, comes out today. Go check it out at your local library.
Writer Kelly Link has signed with Random House to publish two new books—including her very first novel. First up will be the short story collection, titled Get in Trouble, with a tentative 2015 release date.
We're looking forward to new tales of the weird, magical and slightly creepy from the talented Link—and we can't wait to see how her writing translates into novel format.
Jhumpa Lahiri is back with her second novel, The Lowland. Her debut, The Namesake, earned her plenty of critical praise, and expectations for The Lowland have been quite high. Lahiri has more than met those with this "intricately plotted, melancholy family drama" that has since been shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.
The novel follows two brothers, Subhash and Udayan Mitra, as they grow to lead two very different lives and encounter conflict that drives a wedge between them. A story spanning decades and two continents, The Lowland explores the power of family and memory with Lahiri's "elegant, gently understated prose."
Watch the trailer below and learn more about this Top Pick for October!
Have you checked out The Lowland yet?
With Halloween lurking just around the shadowed bend, we conjured up a list of 13 of 2013's most fright-inducing reads to get you in the spirit. Haunted houses, werewolves, vampires and serial killers—this list has got them all, and more!
THE SHINING GIRLS
By Lauren Beukes
South African novelist Lauren Beukes returns with The Shining Girls, a creepy, supernatural thriller set in Chicago, where a dilapidated House (yes, capital “H”) containing a mysterious portal sends the book’s villain back and forth through time. Throughout the 20th century, he dispatches a series of women in brutal fashion, removing a small item from one victim here, depositing it with another there, then materializing back at the House to review his exploits. (Read the full review.)
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Stroke by stroke, scare by scare, [Boyne's] latest novel deliberately sets out to beat Henry James at the diabolical game he played in the best ghost story of all time, The Turn of the Screw. Boyne’s mimicry and mischievous corruption of both the form and the content of James’s tale are surely the book’s most uncanny elements. All the Jamesian paraphernalia is there: the clueless governess at the remote country estate who narrates the story; her predecessors who meet violent ends; the nervous bystanders who infuriate both the heroine and the reader with their stupendous reserve. (Read the full review.)
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John Connolly’s Charlie Parker books push the limits of the whodunit genre. They read like detective novels, but then they step over the line into Stephen King country, where apparitions dance at the periphery of the senses and where evil becomes palpable—and ever so believable. Connolly’s latest, The Wrath of Angels, finds the intrepid P.I. sitting in a bar, listening to a strange tale about a private airplane that went down in the dense woods of northern Maine. (Read the full review.)
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Never before has Gaiman’s fiction felt this personal, this vibrant or this deeply intimate. Gaiman’s hero is an unnamed narrator who returns to his childhood home as an adult and is flooded with memories of a farm at the end of the English country lane where he grew up. We relive those boyhood memories as he does, beginning with an odd tragedy that brought him to the doorstep of the Hempstock family. There he met 11-year-old Lettie, her mother and her ancient grandmother, who claims she was around when the moon was first made. (Read the full review.)
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Joe Hill says it took him quite a while to find the spark that would make his riveting new horror novel roar to life. Though he ended up writing the bulk of NOS4A2 in about seven months, getting the book started wasn’t easy. “I struggled with figuring out how I wanted to write a female lead,” Hill says. . . . The novel’s main character, Victoria McQueen, is a tough, wild thing with an unusual talent. When we meet her as a young girl, Vic has just discovered that sometimes, much to her surprise, her beloved Raleigh bicycle takes her to a covered bridge that shouldn’t exist. (Read the full interview with Hill.)
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Hill's allure—whether in these two novellas or in her famous 1987 novel, The Woman in Black, adapted for the London stage in 1989 and playing there ever since—springs from the serene decorum of her prose, which remains mellifluous even at the most catastrophic turn of events. This set of novellas provides another “safe haven” for those fans who prefer to take their horror with a smooth pint of bitter. (Read the full review.)
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In an author’s note at the end of Doctor Sleep, Stephen King explains how the idea of writing a sequel to The Shining—his third novel, published in 1977—was planted by a fan at a book signing back in 1998. King mulled it over for more than 10 years before sitting down to figure out how 5-year-old Danny Torrance fared after his narrow escape from the horrifyingly haunted Overlook Hotel. As one might suspect, Danny didn’t fare very well. (Read the full review.)
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The perilous pleasures and imperiled children that await you in John Lindqvist’s magnificent collection of stories, Let the Old Dreams Die, require constant illumination. The darkness of this writer’s imagination is profound, the terrors manifold and the writing merciless in its reckoning of every human being’s worst fears, groundless hopes and bizarre capacity to love against all mortal odds. It would be tempting to call Lindqvist a philosopher, so relentless are the questions his characters ask about the meaning and the meaninglessness of our existence. (Read the full review.)
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“All love is desperate.” With this phrase, celebrated author Joyce Carol Oates manifests love gone wrong in Evil Eye, four novellas ringing with Gothic horror. Taking a page from du Maurier’s Rebecca, Oates puppeteers her childlike heroines through scenes of despondency set in the twisted, delusional reality that can be love, with the backdrop of oppressive circumstances and possessive men with gnarled secrets. (Read the full review.)
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When you talk of talented writers under 40, Benjamin Percy is a name that must come up. His second novel is Red Moon, a fat, multilayered page-turner that has fans of Percy and lycanthropy alike gnashing their teeth in anticipation. Yes, it’s about werewolves, but it is also about coming of age, young love, racism, xenophobia, warfare’s moral complexities and the zeitgeist of 21st-century America. (Read the full review.)
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Scott McGrath is the novel’s central character. Once a prominent investigative journalist, his career has very publicly crashed and burned after he made outrageous accusations and a not-so-veiled threat against the elusive cult filmmaker Stanislas Cordova. When McGrath learns that Cordova’s 24-year-old daughter Ashley has been found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. McGrath sets out to solve the mystery of Ashley’s death, but ends up on a risky and very different sort of journey in pursuit of an entirely different magnitude of truth. (Read the full review.)
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By Andrew Pyper
David Ullman is a prestigious professor specializing in biblical literature and tales of demons, and one of the world’s foremost experts on John Milton’s epic poem of heaven and hell, Paradise Lost. Though religious literature is his specialty, David doesn’t believe a word of it. His interest is unshakably academic, until a woman visits his office with a strange proposition. Just days later, tragedy strikes, and David finds himself battling dark forces and a ticking clock in a desperate effort to get his daughter Tess back. (Read the full review.)
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THE NEVER LIST
By Koethi Zan
Sarah and Jennifer believed that to be informed was to be prepared, so they became versed in all of the statistics of threatening situations and created a list of things to never do. They strictly followed the list until one night in college when they got in a car with a stranger—a devastating choice that led to five years of unspeakable torture, as Sarah and Jennifer were held captive with two other girls in an unforgiving cellar. (Read the full review.)
Australian Graeme Simsion has hit it out of the park with his first novel, The Rosie Project. The hilarious and endearing tale follows genetics professor Don Tillman—who's brilliant but socially awkward—as his scientific quest to find a wife is sidetracked by the gorgeous and free-spirited Rosie. Our reviewer declares the book to be "a wacky, wonderful love story that is just plain fun to read." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Simsion has been reading lately, so we asked him to recommend three recent favorites:
THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
By Matthew Quick
I was sent an advance copy of Matthew Quick’s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock to review and enjoyed it so much (despite not being a “young adult”) that I grabbed a copy of The Silver Linings Playbook. I love and envy Mr. Quick’s ability to make even his most minor characters real, original and sympathetic.
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GOODBYE FOR NOW
By Laurie Frankel
Another advance copy—we authors have our reading chosen for us! An original idea that appealed to my information technology background, and didn’t stretch my credulity so far that I lost interest. A light read, but some big topics to reflect upon later.
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THE CHEEKY MONKEY
By Tim Ferguson
I read a lot of nonfiction, especially about writing craft. Tim Ferguson was my comedy teacher, and the best I know at explaining how comedy works. He told me to make 'em laugh, make 'em cry, make 'em think. It’s a great motto for writing.
What do you think, readers? Will you be checking out The Rosie Project or any of Simsion's recommended books?
Did you get swept up in The Silent Wife phenomenon this summer? A.S.A. Harrison's superbly suspenseful tale of the unraveling of a 20-year marriage had readers feverishly turning the pages 'til the very last one. If you were one of them, then you'll probably be excited to hear that a movie adaptation is in the works, with Nicole Kidman attached to star as Jodi, the Silent Wife. Frankly, I can't think of anyone more perfectly suited for the role. No word on who will play the philandering Todd. One thing's for sure: He shouldn't be skinny. Although a charismatic ladies' man, Todd is repeatedly described as a big guy. I'm thinking perhaps Mark Ruffalo. What do you think about Kidman as Jodi? Who do you think would be a good Todd?
The Secret Lives of Married Women by Elissa Wald
Hard Case Crime • $9.95 • ISBN 9781781162620
published October 8, 2013
Based on its risqué retro (though evidently commissioned just for this book) cover art, I originally picked up the galley for Elissa Wald's The Secret Lives of Married Women thinking it was a contender for our romance/erotica coverage. Then I noticed blurbs from the likes of Pat Conroy and Junot Díaz praising Wald's works on the back cover, and I knew it wasn't going to be just another iteration of Fifty Shades of Grey. And indeed it's not!
The book is divided into two sections, each a voyeuristic peek into the lives (and psyches, really) of 36-year-old identical twin sisters. First up is Lana, who's just moved into a new house outside of Portland, Oregon, with her husband and infant daughter. Unfortunately, the contractor working on the neighbor's house is creeping her out in a major way. The second part of the book shifts to Lillian, a NYC attorney who's juggling a fascinating high-profile case (the details of which are revealed in a manner bound to keep you turning the pages) and a marriage that's awfully close to completely falling apart.
Though Lana and Lillian are identical, their voices are decidedly distinct. Both of their stories are told in first person, though from the perspective of some date in the future, which gives the book the air of a confessional, and there is way less sex than the cover implies. Wald's prose is powerful, in a spare, understated way. Factor in her impressive storytelling prowess, and the result is a book that's extremely difficult to put down once you've started. (I read it in two sittings.) Here's the opening to lure you in:
Before that summer, the summer of fear—
It makes me cringe to know that I sound like a tabloid wife. I can't talk about what happened, even to myself, in a way that seems real. The words that come to me sound like something I've read in line at the supermarket.
Before the summer of the stalker, the summer I looked at my husband and saw a stranger, I was drinking in a bar with Rae and having a conversation about intimacy. It was a conversation I'd had many times before, with any number of thirty-something women who were worried about their chances of marrying in time to have children. Rae was thirty-six, the same age as me. She was our realtor, and it seemed she was also becoming a friend.
I had married just two years before, and now had a one-year-old daughter. (I was also a few weeks into my second pregnancy, but didn't know it yet.) As a result, my part in this time-worn dialogue had shifted from sharing the despair to dispensing counsel. Usually these women had spent their time—as I had, myself, until very recently—investing in a series of untenable characters, men whose inability to commit was as clear as the color of their eyes.
What do you think? Will you be checking out The Secret Lives of Married Women? What are you reading this week?
Hard Case Crime will publish eight suspense novels written by Michael Crichton during his time at Harvard Medical School from 1966 to 1972. They will be released under under the pseudonym John Lange but will identify Crichton as the author.
The eight titles are Odds On, Scratch One, Easy Go, Zero Cool, The Venom Business, Drug of Choice, Grave Descend and Binary. Four of the books will be published on October 29, with the other four following on November 19. They'll also be released as eBooks by Open Road.
Crichton re-edited some of the books before he died in 2008, and Hard Case Crime founder and editor Charles Ardai promises, "they read like a rocket."
Hard Case Crime also released Stephen King's Joyland, so we're feeling optimistic about the Lange books. Will you check out these early Crichton thrillers?
Nine Inches by Tom Perrotta
St. Martin's • $25.99 • ISBN 9781250034700
published September 10, 2013
Best book jacket of the year? Maybe.
With his razor wit and uncanny ability to capture the lives of everyday Americans, it's almost unbelievable that Nine Inches is Tom Perrotta's first true collection of short stories (Bad Haircut was technically linked stories). The characters in these 10 stories—and all their many terrible decisions—link together in their own way: Everyone's doing everything wrong, but they're not bad people. Because of these characters' collective foibles, I'd recommend reading each story individually rather than all in one sitting, as the stories here stand stronger on their own than as part of a group.
Read on for an excerpt from "Backrub":
I didn't realize I had a problem until my next run-in with Lt. Finnegan. This time I wasn't speeding and hadn't violated any traffic laws. I was just minding my business, heading back to Sustainable around nine-thirty on a Wednesday night, when an unmarked Crown Victoria popped up in my rearview mirror, that familiar white-haired douchebag at the wheel. There were no flashing lights, but he tailgated me for a couple of blocks before finally hitting the siren, a quick bloop-bloop to get my attention.
We were right by Edmunds Elementary School, the quiet stretch of Warren Road that runs alongside the playing fields. I pulled over, his car still glued to my bumper, and cut the engine. It felt like a bad dream, the same cop stopping me for the third time in less than two weeks.
I was fishing around in the glove box for the registration when he startled me by tapping on the passenger window—he usually approached from the other side—and yanking the door open. Before I could react, he had ducked inside my car and shut the door behind him.
The Prius was pretty roomy, but Lt. Finnegan seemed to fill all the available space. He reached down, groping for the adjuster bar, then grunted with relief as the seat slid back.
"That's better." He rotated his bulk in my direction. He was wearing civilian clothes, khakis and a sport coat, but he still looked like a cop. "How are you, Donald?"
"Did I do something wrong?"
"I don't think so," he said. "Not that I know of."
"Then why did you pull me over?"
"I didn't pull you over."
"Yes, you did. You hit the siren."
"Oh, that." He chuckled at the misunderstanding. "I just wanted to say hi. Haven't seen you for a couple of days."
Do you like Tom Perrotta's novels? Think you'll check out his short fiction?