Jen Lancaster Set to Launch New Book with an Anderson’s Bookshop Online Event

Anderson’s Bookshop is proud to welcome back New York Times bestselling author and Chicago-area native Jen Lancaster to celebrate her newest book, The United States of Anxiety: Observations from a Reforming Neurotic.  Lancaster has visited Anderson’s Bookshop half a dozen times, and each event is special, including this launch program on Thursday, October 1 at 7 pm. Participating fans will be the first to get their hands on her latest title.

Register here and you will receive the Zoom link in your confirmation email. https://www.eventcombo.com/e/virtual-event-with-jen-lancasterthe-united-states-of-anxiety-40870

Anderson’s realizes that this is a challenging time for many families.  We are offering a variety of ticket options so that customers may choose what is the best fit.  Every book ticket will include a signed copy of The United States of Anxiety, and all contributions will go towards supporting our independent small business and our employees.

About the Book: New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster is here to help you chill the hell out.

When did USA become shorthand for the United States of Anxiety? From the moment Americans wake up, we’re bombarded with all-new terrifying news about crime, the environment, politics, and stroke-inducing foods we’ve been enjoying for years. We’re judged by social media’s faceless masses, pressured into maintaining a Pinterest-perfect home, and expected to base our self-worth on retweets, faves, likes, and followers. Our collective FOMO, and the disparity between the ideal and reality, is leading us to spend more and feel worse. No wonder we’re getting twitchy. Save for an Independence Day–style alien invasion, how do we begin to escape from the stressors that make up our days?

Jen takes a hard look at our elevating anxieties, and with self-deprecating wit and levelheaded wisdom, she charts a path out of the quagmire that keeps us frightened of the future and ashamed of our imperfectly perfect human lives. Take a deep breath, and her advice, and you just might get through a holiday dinner without wanting to disown your uncle–or even worse.

About the Author: Author Jen Lancaster has sold well over a million books, with over a dozen New York Times bestsellers. From Bitter Is the New Black to The Tao of Martha, Lancaster has made a career out of documenting her attempts to shape up, grow up, and have it all – sometimes with disastrous results. Her New York TImes bestselling novel Here I Go Again received three starred reviews (Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly). She loves bad TV, terrible wine, and will die before she gives up her Oxford comma.

Lancaster can often be seen on The Today Show, as well as CBS This Morning, Fox News and NPR’s All Things Considered, among others. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and her many ill-behaved dogs and cats. Visit her website: jenlancaster.com, Twitter: @altgeldshrugged, Instagram: @jennsylvania, or Facebook.com/authorjenlancaster.

Hear the stories behind Lancaster’s books on The Stories We’d Tell in Bars podcast, available on iTunes, Podbean, Spreaker, GooglePlay, and iHeartRadio, among other entities.

About Anderson’s Bookshop: Anderson’s Bookshop is a 6-generation family-run neighborhood independent business with locations in Chicago’s western suburbs. The company includes a toyshop and school bookfair division. Recipients of dozens of honors, Anderson’s Bookshops share a passion and knowledge of books and of building community through great reads. Anderson’s Bookshops are located in downtown Naperville at 123 W. Jefferson Ave. and in Downers Grove at 5112 Main St. For additional questions and information, visit AndersonsBookshop.com.

Finding hope while studying penguins

I’ve always felt that the natural world can bring us healing in many ways, but I decided a story about healing through penguins would be extra-special.

A quirky adventure following an unusual heroine, “How the Penguins Saved Veronica” tells the story of wealthy 85-year-old Veronica McCreedy, who lives alone in a Scottish mansion. Feisty, stubborn and at times whimsical, McCreedy decided to use her large inheritance in funding a group of scientists who study penguins in Antarctica.

But all that money comes with one condition — she wants to meet the penguins.

“The main inspiration of my book was a friend of mine who’s obsessed with penguins,” author Hazel Prior said. “When her husband died, she found an extraordinary strategy of coping with her grief: she decided to travel round the world visiting penguins, her aim to get photos of every penguin species in its native habitat. She’s had such fun with her mission. I’ve always felt that the natural world can bring us healing in many ways, but I decided a story about healing through penguins would be extra-special.”

Prior said she decided to make Veronica older because she’s been incredibly inspired by people she knows who have started learning new things, from harp-playing to sky-diving, in their 80s and 90s.

“I love their ‘it’s-never-too-late’ attitude,” she said. “And they have experienced so many changes in their lives. Having an octogenarian as my main character gave me the chance to delve back into wartime history, which is another interest of mine.”

It’s also important for other reasons.

“Our society leads us to believe that it’s better in every way to be young,” Prior said. “It would have us think that at 30 the best part of your life is over, at 40 nobody notices you anymore and from 50 onwards you may as well not exist — particularly if you’re a woman. This is so wrong. I admire people who are hungry for life, who go out and seek new experiences regardless of their age. For example, a friend of mine started learning the harp at the age of 90. And my neighbor’s father took up skydiving in his 80s. These are extreme examples, but we never stop dreaming, learning or having new adventures. Every year that passes adds to our rich bank of experiences. The logical conclusion is that the older you are, the more interesting you are — so wouldn’t an octogenarian be the perfect heroine?”

Speaking of harps, when Prior was a student in Scotland, she found an old broken Celtic harp in a cupboard and decided to learn how to play it, which wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded.

“But the harp has always been a source of magic and wonder for me,” she says. “It’s an instrument with a sound that’s just so evocative and moving. The Celtic harp was the inspiration for my debut novel, ‘Ellie And the Harp Maker.’”

Asked if she has any special take-aways for readers, Prior answered that she would like to highlight the importance of caring for this planet that we share with so much amazing wildlife. Adélie penguins are just one of the many species threatened by climate change.

“But overall, ‘How the Penguins Saved Veronica’ is a fun book,” she said. “Penguins are not only sweet and charming; they also set us a wonderful example of determination, gusto and cheerfulness in the face of hard conditions — a lesson that’s very relevant in our current times. If I could sum up the message of the book in one word, that word would be ‘hope.’”

Thriller tracks conspiracy’s twists and turns

Parental rage at kids’ sporting events is nothing new, but Maggie Russell takes it to a new level when, during her son’s last Little League game before the playoffs, she screams at the coach to give her son some playing time.

L.C. Shaw

Even Agatha, her good friend, thinks Maggie’s gone overboard, but it gets worse in L.C. Shaw’s second novel in her Jack Logan series, “The Silent Conspiracy” (Harper Paperbacks $16, 2020). Grabbing the knife Agatha is using to cut up apples for the team’s snack, Maggie marches down the bleachers and plunges it into the coach’s chest.

As she watches his body slump to the ground, an inner voice urges her to remedy the situation by turning the knife on herself. And so, she does.

It’s not your usual Little League confrontation. But to Logan, an investigative reporter, and Taylor Parks, a television producer, this isn’t just an isolated incident. There are news reports from around the country of mild-mannered, highly respected people committing murder and then suicide. It all seems to lead back to a case the couple had two years previously, when they were able to shut down a secret facility set up to brainwash political and media leaders.

Investigating the murders, Logan and Parks discover that Damon Crosse, the man who tried to kill them two years ago when they stopped his indoctrination plot, may have faked his death and is now planning revenge. But it’s even more complicated than that. The show Park is producing about a class action suit against a national insurance company may also be connected to Damon, the murder/suicides, and his new fiendish plans.

“’The Secret Conspiracy’ is a stand-alone book even though it ties back to ‘The Network,’ my first Jack Logan book,” said Shaw, the pen name for Lynne Constantine.

In addition to her own books, she writes with her sister Valerie. The best-selling team writes thrillers under the pseudonym Liv Constantine. Their books include “The Last Mrs. Parrish,” “The Last Time I Saw You” and “The Wife Stalker.”

The two are a prolific pair. Shaw said she’s just finished her fourth book with her sister and they already are plotting their fifth, while she is also at work on another book on her own.

“The challenge,” she said, “is to have endings that are inevitable but unexpected. We like to be tricky and to catch readers by surprise but to also have it all make sense in the end.”

For your information

L.C. Shaw will be doing a series of virtual events. For a full list, visit her website, lcshawauthor.com/events/

Here are several that are that are free and upcoming:

• Fairfield University Bookstore, 6 p.m. Tuesday, http://www.facebook.com/FairfieldUBookstore/events/

• Westport Public Library, 6 p.m. Wednesday, westportlibrary.org/storyfest-2020

• Poisoned Pen book store, 1 p.m. Friday, http://www.facebook.com/thepoisonedpenbookstore/live

New mystery explores New York in the 1910s and 1990s

Deborah Feingold Photography

Patience and Fortitude, the marble lions gallantly standing at the steps of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan, were only 2 years old when Jack Lyons, along with his wife and two children, moves into a large apartment hidden away on the library’s mezzanine floor. It’s all part of Jack’s job as superintendent, an intriguing fact that Fiona Davis uses in her latest historical mystery, “The Lions of Fifth Avenue,” which was selected as “Good Morning America’s” August Book Pick.

“While researching, I discovered that when the library was built, the architects included a seven-room apartment deep inside, where the superintendent and his family lived for 30 years. I thought it would be the perfect setting for my book and I invented a fictional family — the Lyons — and decided to tell the story from the wife’s point of view in 1913, as well as from her granddaughter’s in 1993,” said Davis, who chose 1913 because that decade was when women made great strides, socially and economically. “What surprised me about the 1910s was just how actively women were involved in feminist causes, including the right to vote, the right to birth control, and the right to exert agency over their own lives. There was a huge movement forward in terms of the ‘New Woman,’ one who considered herself equal to men.”

Living in the library creates an opportunity for Jack’s wife Laura, who yearns to be more than a housewife, and is mentored by Jack’s boss, who encourages her to find her own writing voice and helps her win entry to the Columbia School of Journalism. But Laura soon learns that she doesn’t want to be relegated to writing housewife-like features for the women’s section as expected, and instead becomes a noted essayist and crusader for women’s rights.

“It was wonderful to step back in time and imagine what it all was like then,” said Davis, noting that both she and Laura attended Columbia. “I earned my master’s degree there, so it was fun to draw on that experience.”

Fast forward 80 years in time to when Laura’s granddaughter, Sadie Donovan, a curator at the New York Public Library, is chosen to step in at the last moment to curate the Berg Collection of rare books. Among the rare papers are those of Laura Lyons, who had been forgotten over time, but whose writings are now being celebrated again.

At first proud of her connection to her grandmother and excited that Laura once lived at the library where she now works, Sadie hides their connection after discovering her grandmother and grandfather were caught up in a scandal about a rare book of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry, typically stored under lock and key, that’s gone missing.

Before long, history is repeating itself when Sadie finds that vital materials about her grandmother are also missing, and only a few people had the opportunity to take them, including Sadie herself. Soon Sadie, already shattered by her husband’s infidelity and the couple’s ultimate divorce, is the prime suspect of the theft. Her reputation is on the line as is her grandmother’s and solving the mystery is the only way to redeem them.

Indiana Landmarks Rescued and Restored

“These places are all about the people who made them,” says Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks,“and the people who worked at saving them.”

The Restored Fowler Theatre


Once a glorious example of Streamline-Moderne architecture and one of only five theaters in the U.S. to premiere “Gone with the Wind,” in 2001 the future of the 81-year-old Fowler Theatre was bleak. No longer open, its owner planned to sell anything architecturally significant including the original marquee.  To prevent this, the non-profit Preservation Guild was formed to save the theater, purchasing the theater for $30,000 and obtained a $2000 grant and a $60,000 line of credit from Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation.

The Fowler Theatre before restoration.

Today, the Fowler Theatre is a marvel, one of many buildings throughout the state that dedicated citizens and the Foundation have worked together in order to preserve Indiana’s heritage and also benefit communities. In the case of the Fowler Theatre, it was a way to keep low cost entertainment available and to help revitalize the downtown.

Vurpillatt’s Opera House in Winamac Restored

The theatre is one of 50 success stories highlighted in the recently released Indiana “Landmarks Rescued & Restored,” a lovely coffee table book with before and after photos showcasing what historic preservation can accomplish.

Vurpillatt’s Opera House in Winamac

“I want the book to be an acknowledgement of the wonderful people and partnerships that have made Landmarks as effective as it is,” says Indiana Landmarks’ President, Marsh Davis who wrote the forward to the book. “When we take the approach of working together, then we become part of the solution.”

DeRhodes House West Washington Historic District South Bend Restored

One of Landmarks most well-known projects was the restoration of two grand early 20th century resorts, French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs in Orange County. Returning them to their glory has made the entire area boom economically by bringing in an influx of tourism, creating local jobs and improving property values and instilling a sense of pride and vitality.

DeRhodes House West Washington Historic District South Bend

Landmarks, largest statewide preservation group in the country, saves, restores, and protects places of architectural and historical significance, including barns, historic neighborhoods such as Lockerbie Square in Indianapolis, churches and other sacred places, schools, bridges and even the Michigan City Lighthouse Catwalk.

Old Republic in New Carlisle Restored

Rescued and Restored also highlights other successes in Northern Indiana including partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service in the restoration of the House of Tomorrow in the Indiana Dunes National Park, considered one of the most innovative and influential houses in modern architectural design.

Old Republic Before Restoration

The book, edited by Tina Connor, who worked at Landmarks for 42 years, retiring from her position as the non-profit’s executive vice president in 2018, 144 pages with more than 200 color photos. Hon. Randall T. Shepard, honorary chairman and long-time director of Indiana Landmarks, wrote the book’s foreward.

Statewide, Marsh says that he feels privileged knowing that Landmarks worked with the Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corporation to save Lyles Station Community School. Now a museum and the last surviving building of what was a successful African-American farming community founded by former slaves in 1849.

“These places are all about the people who made them,” says Davis, “and the people who worked at saving them.”

For more information, visit indianalandmarks.org

As published in The Times of Northwest Indiana

Love and Theft

“In April 2007, two stolen Audi A8s smashed through the glass façade of the Wafi Mall in Dubai,” says Parish. “In a marble rotunda, the white car rammed the secure entrance of Graff Jewelers, while the black car spit out men in masks with automatic weapons.”

         Starting fast—a motorcycle convoy roars through the lobby of the Wynn Las Vegas, staying only long enough to scoop up millions of dollars’ worth of stones from a classy jewelry store before riding away—Stan Parish’s latest novel “Love and Theft” (Doubleday 2020; $19.49 Amazon price) never slows down.

         Told from multiple points of view, we follow the police as they work to solve the crime as well as the thieves planning their next one last heist and not getting busted. We move with the action from Vegas to Jersey and then to the luxe vacation destination of Tulum, Mexico. Along the way there are weird stops such as one at the home of a doctor who injects willing subjects with a hallucinatory drug that helps them calm down while he and his wife, wearing wired masks, communicate their insights while taking notes.

         It’s all breathless but at the same time human. Neither cops nor bad guys are cartoon characters here. Parish makes them real while juggling the fast-paced plot.

         His interest in mystery-thrillers began when he was around 10 or 11 and pulled a copy of “Dog Soldiers” from his dad’s bookshelf. Parish was ordered to put it back, his father telling him it was full of sex, drugs and violence. Of course, the book only stayed on the shelf until his parents went to bed.

         Inspiration also comes from stories he hears from what he reads and hanging out.

         “In April 2007, two stolen Audi A8s smashed through the glass façade of the Wafi Mall in Dubai,” says Parish. “In a marble rotunda, the white car rammed the secure entrance of Graff Jewelers, while the black car spit out men in masks with automatic weapons.”

         It was the work of a successful gang called the Pink Panthers and became the basis for the opening sequence of “Love and Theft.” But the book is also fueled by what he calls being a diviner though instead of finding water he has “a sixth sense for strange subcultures, suspicious characters, and after-after parties.”

         A few years ago, in Marbella, Spain he was invited to a party at the home of several young bullfighters and during the evening “divined” that some of their income derived from storing drugs for a local cartel. That experience too became a plot point in the novel.

         The former editor-in-chief of The Future of Everything at The Wall Street Journal whose writings have appeared in the New York Times, Esquire and GQ, Parish earned a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and moved to Los Angeles from New York a few years ago. But now he’s living in Europe, waiting for the pandemic to end. He’s dedicated to his craft. Planning on finishing his thriller in Malaga, Spain, he accidentally left his computer, notes and outline behind at JFK International Airport in New York City and while calling lost and found everyday hoping it would turn up, tapped out sections his novel on his cell phone his while riding in cabs late at night. His life, in other words, seems to track his fast-paced novel.

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