Behind the Book: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

Editor’s Note: Kate Morton is the New York Times bestselling author of The Lake House. Her newest book The Clockmaker’s Daughter is the rich, spellbinding new novel that tells the story of a love affair and a mysterious murder that cast their shadows across generations, set in England from the 1860s until the present day. Special thanks to Sara Rattaro for this insight into what went in to the writing of Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

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 How did you manage to intertwine different narrative plans with such ease and without any flaws? How do you write and develop your novels?
I wrote The Clockmaker’s Daughter differently from my other novels. In the past, I have written each chapter in the same order that it appears in the published book; this time, however, I wanted the structure of the novel to support the thematic exploration of time. It was important to me from the start to show the way different layers of time had transpired within a single place. I knew up front that the novel would contain a number of short vignettes – snapshots into the lives of various residents of Birchwood Manor, the house at the novel’s heart – linked together by an over-arching first-person narrative. I wrote the historical vignettes first so that when it came time to write Birdie Bell’s story, I – like she – was privy to the experiences of all of the other characters across time. Because I wrote the past interludes simultaneously, I was better able to glimpse the silvery threads that tied them together.

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Behind the Book: Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Editor’s Note: For Elizabeth, stories provide both an escape from trouble times and an answer to problems. Her latest novel, Night of Miracles, reflects her desire to remind people of the good things in life. Read on to discover Elizabeth’s take on what has inspired her novels.

When I was nine years old, I wrote and submitted my first poem to American Girl magazine. It was called “Dawn,” and it was a stinker of a poem, even by the most lenient of standards, but it did two things. One was that it got me on the path of buying my father a Cadillac—for I thought surely the poem would be published and I would receive somewhere around a million dollars. Unfortunately, my poem was rejected, and should have been, and I did not get a million dollars, or even the pittance that the real payment must have been. But I got something else. Writing that poem showed me the pleasure of getting what I was feeling inside, out. Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Keto Reset Diet Cookbook by Mark Sisson

Editor’s Note: Mark Sisson is the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet, the groundbreaking ketogenic diet plan that helps to reset your metabolism in 21 days. His newest book, The Keto Reset Diet Cookbook, contains 150 keto-aligned recipes to help you slim down, get healthy and go keto the right way. We had the opportunity to catch up with Mark recently. Read on to discover his thoughts on the Keto craze and what led him to write The Keto Reset Diet Cookbook! Plus, get a sneak peek into some delicious Keto recipes! 

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Confession: Even though I consider myself to be plugged into what’s happening on the cutting edge of nutrition, health and fitness, I was caught off guard by the “keto explosion”— the surge of interest in the ketogenic diet these past few years. The general public and scientific circles can’t stop talking about keto. On the plus side, this has shined a light on the many benefits of a low-carb, real-food way of eating like the one I’ve been writing about for years. On the other hand, it seems like keto came out of nowhere to become the hottest thing around, so it’s being labeled (unfairly) as a fad. Continue reading

Behind the Book: Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

The Star Wars fandom can rejoice! Claudia Gray, author of Star Wars novels Lost Stars and Bloodline, has returned to that universe once again, with Leia: Princess of Alderaan which describes how a young Leia first becomes involved in the Rebellion. This Young Adult novel is Leia-centric, focused on the character in her younger years before Han Solo and Luke Skywalker entered her life. Her passion, dedication and the pull of responsibility are just getting honed in this precursor to A New Hope, and the novel in paperback November 6, is sure to excite Leia fans of all ages and genders.

Evernight, Firebird, Constellation, Spellcaster and Star Wars— you truly are the master of multiple genres. How does writing in Star Wars canon differ from creating your own series?
The main difference is that with my original work, the world building is all up to me–but the world of Star Wars is already out there, deeper and more developed than anything I’ve done on my own. The world’s greatest designers have already invented planets, ships, creatures and thousands of years of history. It’s a luxury to be able to call upon that when writing Star Wars books.

How do you do research for novels set in an established universe?
Being a big old nerd who already knows a lot of this stuff just through being a fan–that really helps. Beyond that, I’m able to call on my editors and the whole crew at Lucasfilm to ask questions or look at material that feels important to the story.

bookcoverLeia: Princess of Alderaan is not your first foray into the Star Wars galaxy. What makes it different from Lost Stars or Bloodline?
It’s a true young adult novel, for one–Lost Stars really is only YA in its first half, before the characters age into adulthood. Princess of Alderaan is firmly focused on the coming-of-age experience for Leia, as well as some of the people around her. Also, while Leia was the main character in Bloodline, in that book, readers spent time in the POVs of several other characters, getting a wider look at what was going on in the galaxy in the years before The Force Awakens. Princess of Alderaan stays with Leia the whole way, showing us only her understanding of people and politics—which expands over the course of the book, as she learns more. Continue reading

All Things Printed & Recorded: Board Games Take A Turn

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For November, we’ve got all the pieces in place for a look at the history of board games.

TIMELINE

2650 BCE  The Royal Game of Ur is played in Mesopotamia.playing checkers
1300 BCE  Two-player strategy game Ludus latrunculorum is played throughout the Roman Empire.
1822  The first American-made board game, Travellers Tour Through the United States, debuts.
1935  Monopoly is released. It would go on to become the biggest selling board game in US history.
1995  European strategy game The Settlers of Catan is released. It has since been translated into 30 languages and called “the board game of our time.”

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The Checkered Game of Life, released in 1860 by lithographer Milton Bradley, is known as America’s first popular parlor game and is the basis for the modern-day Game of Life.
  • Checkers, known as draughts in the UK, has been played in one form or another for centuries, having evolved from the early Middle Eastern game Alquerque.
  • The boot, thimble and wheelbarrow are among the Monopoly pieces to be discontinued in recent years.
  • The ancient Egyptian game Senet, which somewhat resembles Backgammon, dates to 3100 BCE and can be seen in this painting from the tomb of Queen Nefertari.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book The Oxford History of Board Games, David Parlett
book The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Board & Table Games, Margaret Hofer
book The Master of Go, Kawabata
book It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan, Tristan Donovan
book The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, Mary Pilon
book The Player of Games, Iain Banks
book The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit, Philip Orbanes
slate_film-512 Searching for Bobby Fischer (movie)
slate_film-512 Clue (movie)
slate_film-512 Word Wars (movie)
slate_film-512 Jumanji (movie)

Candy & Books: A Sweet Pairing

There’s nothing I like better than a good book. Well, except a good book and some chocolate. Or something a little tart. Okay fine, I love candy, and I love books. Since it is October, I have plenty of each! What better way to celebrate this fun month than pairing candy and books?

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Candy Pairing: Payday

Millions of Americans work full-time, year-round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Pairing 1Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job—any job—could be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. She worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing home aide and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors. Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety and surprising generosity. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich’s perspective and for a rare view of how “prosperity” looks from the bottom.

Pair this critical book that is still relevant today with a Payday to appreciate the fact that millions of Americans have to work full-time, year-round from payday to payday just to survive.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Candy Pairing: Snickers

Pairing 2Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning paragraph to the final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

Pair with a Snickers bar because you will not be able to contain your laughter while reading this classic, humorous account of Tina Fey’s life, as well as behind-the-scenes stories from her hit shows! Continue reading

Behind the Book: When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

Editor’s Note: When the Men Were Gone is a debut historical novel centered on the truly inspiring story of a high school teacher who surprises everyone when she breaks with tradition to become the first female high school football coach in Texas. Set during WWII, Tylene Wilson faces extreme opposition but shows what courage really means. This inspiring story has won hearts everywhere and was chosen as our Book Club selection for October and November. We had the opportunity to discuss the book with Marjorie Herrera Lewis, which you can read about below.

This is your debut novel- what did you learn about the process of crafting a book?
The biggest lesson I learned about the process of crafting a book is that it’s hard; it’s really hard. It takes discipline, passion, skill and a willingness to learn something new almost every day.

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What first interested you in Tylene Wilson’s story?
The story resonated with me the instant I was told what Tylene had done. I am a career sports journalist, and to discover that a woman had coached football in the 1940s took my breath away. I also felt connected to her in a way because I was the first woman assigned to the Dallas Cowboys beat in the 1980s. I knew firsthand what it was like to work in a male-dominated field. I was drawn to what I imagined she had endured. Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell

Lisa Maxwell’s The Last Magician is a time-traveling romp of epic proportions. Fans everywhere found themselves panicking over the cliff-hanger and will soon be snatching up copies of the sequel, The Devil’s Thief. In this book, the cast carries on trying to save magic by trying to find four elemental stones scattered across the continent. This spellbinding sequel is sure to delight fans, and we’re delighted that Lisa answered our questions in this Behind the Book post!

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What inspired you to write a series about saving magic in a world that has almost lost it completely?
Strangely enough, when I first pitched the idea of a magical thief to a former editor, the book wasn’t necessarily about saving magic. But the editor was nervous about the idea because she said, “America isn’t really a magical place.” Which got me to thinking… She was kind of right. America doesn’t have the same cohesive and deeply magical mythologies that somewhere like Great Britain has. There are a lot of reasons for why that’s the case, and I decided that I wanted the series to play with that history and create a backstory to explain some of those reasons…and maybe dream of a different future. Continue reading

Cozy Up with These New Books

Cooler weather, big comfy sweaters and blankets, mugs of hot tea or chocolate and the scent of apples drifting in the air—yes, it’s time for fall! There are many ways to celebrate the arrival of fall, but our favorite is to curl up with a good book. Thankfully, there are plenty of new releases for you to cozy up with this season. Read on to discover our top picks for fall reading, and why they make the perfect read!

This list got pretty long, so if you want to skip ahead you can click for Fiction, or for Nonfiction or for Teen!

Fiction

Let’s start with some fantastic fiction reads—books that will make you light a candle and drink some cider.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter – Kate Morton
Kate Morton is the master of historical fiction, and this book proves her exceptional skills. Grab your blanket and descend into the summer of 1862. Discover a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe as they descend upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared, a priceless heirloom is missing and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins. There’s nothing better than a thrilling historical mystery to put you in the fall mood! This book will be on shelves October 9.

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Fall Storytime Favorite: Toto’s Apple

We do a lot of reading in our house, which means I’m always on the hunt for our new favorite book. I recently discovered Toto’s Apple by Mathieu Lavoie at our local Half Price Books and instantly fell in love with Toto, a delightful little worm who devises a series of inventive problem solving measures to reach an apple high in a tree. Every time we read it I admire his tenaciousness, especially because he uses arts and crafts to overcome each of his obstacles — you’re a worm after our own hearts, Toto.

Every now and then we do a special storytime party, and I knew Toto would be the perfect book to kick off the first day of fall. It has it all – apples, trees, leaves, squirrels, birds – it’s basically fall bingo in picture book form. So I invited my daughters Jane (four) and Rose (two) to help me bake mini apple pies (with leaf crusts, their favorite part) which we devoured while we read the book, and afterward we made simple popsicle butterflies, just like Toto makes for himself in the book. It was fun and simple and made storytime just a little more magical. 

What’s your family’s favorite storytime book? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Kristen Dickson from @tojaneandrose, a girl mom in Texas looking for that everyday magic.