The Taking

Dean Koontz's The Taking

In "The Taking," Dean Koontz takes readers on an apocalyptic thrill ride that will keep them turning pages late into the night.

Our new book club selection is an atmospheric novel filled with horrifying images, relentless suspense and characters that may change the way you see the world.

What would you do if on a dark and stormy night, the world as you knew it was claimed by an unfathomable evil? In The Taking, bestselling author Dean Koontz invites you to join him on a thrill ride into Black Lake, a remote California mountain town where Molly and Neil Sloan are about to face their worst nightmare.

In the wee hours of the morning, Molly awakens to find that the world has come to an end, not with a wail but with a whimper, and an eerie, luminescent rainfall.

As the night progresses, Molly and Neil encounter one amazing phenomenon after another: including a docile pack of coyotes, a talking corpse and the first indications that a new world order is taking shape.

In order for the Sloans to survive an Armageddon beyond their wildest nightmares, they must first face their personal demons and, led by a dog named Virgil, rescue the children of the community they love. In so doing, they will encounter a number of jaw-dropping situations, each more dangerous than the last.

With The Taking, Koontz uses nail-biting suspense and his trademark wit to write a novel that elevates his already brilliant career to new heights as he takes us on a mind-bending journey where we explore a world filled with unforgettable images, both macabre and beautiful.

As the Sloans transcend the world around them, they find meaning in a world that doesn’t stop evolving and leave us with a powerful, socially conscious message we should not soon forget.

Reminiscent of his novels Darkfall and Midnight, The Taking is a delightful new addition to a body of work that never fails to entertain and inspire.

About the author: Dean Koontz is the author of numerous number-one New York Times bestseller. He lives with his wife, Gerda, in Newport Beach, California. Visit his home on the Web at deankoontz.com.

Buy the book at one of these fine booksellers:

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment.

Summer is ablaze with activity

2010 University of Cincinnati graduates

June means more graduates, like those pictured here during the 2010 University of Cincinnati's Hooding ceremony and class of 1970 recognition.

June 2011

Dear Friends,

With the arrival of June, hot summer nights are officially here! After an especially wet and stormy May, I think we can all agree that we’ll take the warmer temperatures as long as the countless tornadoes stop their rampage across the country, like the ones that blasted through Joplin, Missouri and Woodward, Oklahoma leaving devastation and death in their wake. Having grown up in tornado alley, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when these storms appear without warning, so I’m always urging everyone to pay attention to the sirens and meteorologists when they say we need to seek shelter. Stop what you’re doing and go to the basement, the hallway, or wherever you need to go to be safe. Sure, it can be inconvenient to get up in the middle of the night and go to the cellar when you have to work the next day, but nothing is more precious than your life. So please pay attention!

In addition to the heat, June is always bustling with activity. A number of our friends are graduating from college this month with degrees in Journalism, Engineering, Organizational Leadership, and Dental Hygiene Technology, among others. It is always exciting to see where everyone goes after that long, hard-earned walk to accept their diplomas and start the next chapters in their lives. We have the best time cheering for them all, snapping pictures and exchanging hugs and well wishes before they move on to different cities, new relationships and exciting careers. So if you’re one of those new graduates, whether you’re graduating from college or kindergarten, we send you big congratulations and best wishes for all your future endeavors.

We also start planning for summer vacation this month. Whether you’re dipping your toes into the salty surf of the ocean, swimming at the lake, exploring a museum or hanging out in your backyard with friends, we hope you get some well-deserved time to relax and enjoy time with a good book (like May’s book club pick, Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris) and people you love. Like many of you, we’ve had to modify our plans somewhat and do some things a bit closer to home due to the high cost of gasoline this summer. Visit our Calendar page for some activity ideas that are inexpensive (some entirely free) and filled with music, food and fun.

Speaking of food, check out some of the awesome recipes we posted last month, including reader favorites like our light and fluffy Belgian Waffles or Blueberry Muffins. If your summer plans include a cookout, little goes better with hamburgers and hot dogs than our Slow-Cooked Baked Bean Medley and our Spiced Corn on the Cob. Summer is also the perfect time to serve up a vegetarian menu like our Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks served with Creamy Polenta with Mozzarella Cheese and Maple-Thyme Roasted Carrots. But the carnivores in your family will love a slow-cooked Cuban-Style Pork Roast and Yuca with Mojo Sauce. They can even use the leftovers to make hearty Cuban Sandwiches later in the week! Have a hankering for something sweet? Try our Rhubarb-Strawberry Crumb Cake, Mango Daiquiri Sorbet, or our classic Banana Pudding.

Whatever your summer plans include, make sure to kick off your shoes, sip something cold and delicious, lather on the sunscreen and make some lasting memories.

Love,
Jathan & Heather

Five Quarters of the Orange

Finally, it’s time for our new book club selection! I’ve loved this novel since the first time I read it, and I am thrilled to share it with you now. Please let me know if it touches you as profoundly as it did me.


Heather reading Five Quarters of the Orange

Heather reads Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, a novel about childhood betrayal.

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris is a story about the betrayals one can experience in childhood and the effects they have upon one’s life. This is the situation that Framboise finds herself in during the course of this novel. She lives in a small village in France with her brother, sister, and mother. Her father died when she was very young and her mother doesn’t know how to be a parent. Because of this, Framboise has difficulty falling in love, forging friendships, and trusting other people. Eventually, all members of the family go their separate ways, but they are all haunted by what wasn’t supplied to them in their youth. Only Framboise is able to put her past behind her and move on to a better future with her own family and develops a close relationship with her daughters. Therefore, the cycle of the past is then closed forever to the betterment of all involved.

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

In Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, a young woman refuses to accept the hand fate dealt her.

This novel truly touched me on many levels. Those who have experienced a lack of human compassion will truly appreciate this book. Devoid of emotion, various passages will tug at your heartstrings and may remind you of your own childhood memories. I clearly identified with Framboise and came to truly understand her. She refuses to accept the hand that fate has dealt her, and yet she keeps a part of her locked away. Will you ever be able to see the real Framboise? Or does she not want you to see what she has become? You will find Framboise to be both childlike and astute. You may see yourself in her expressions and reasoning. It is for this reason that you will continue reading this delightful, hopeful, and yet dark tale of the inner workings of Framboise’s life.

I know that in reading Five Quarters of the Orange, you too will likely have many questions and opinions about the decisions of this novel’s many colorful characters. Below are the questions I’ve come up with for the book club. Submit your answers and they will be posted in the Book Talk section as they are received.

  • How is the title Five Quarters of the Orange manifested in the structure of the novel?
  • How do you feel about the relationship between Framboise and her mother and between Framboise’s own daughters?
  • Why do you think Framboise returned to the small village in France where she grew up?
  • What motivates Framboise to use an orange to bring on her mother’s migraines?
  • Food plays a vital role within this novel. Discuss the different roles that food plays in each characters life.

Happy reading!
Heather

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joanne Harris lives in England with her husband and daughter. She has written several books including Chocolat, Blackberry Wine, and Coastliners. Her newest novel, Runelight, will be published October 6. Visit her website or click here to buy the book.

Celebrate family and friends this May

May 2011

Dear friends,

Life definitely has a way of changing overnight, and none of us could foresee that President Obama would announce tonight that Osama bin Laden had finally been found and killed, 66 years after Hitler’s death was announced. The news has been received with celebrations by many, as crowds gathered to party outside the White House gates, at Ground Zero, and even at Times Square. And while this event in history may bring Americans some closure, particularly those who lost loved ones during the horrific day we watched the World Trade Center towers collapse, we watch thoughtfully as events continue to unfold over the next few weeks. The president reminds all of us that the War on Terror is not over, American troops will not return home immediately as many would hope, and that now more than ever, we must all be cautious because retaliation by Al-Qaeda is possible. Times like these make us increasingly aware of what is important, and in our case that is our friends and family. Tell your loved ones how much you love them, and better yet, show them by treating them to a family get-together. In fact, this is a great month to do it!

As some of you already know, we have a special place in our hearts for everything Mexican, particularly the cuisine! Since I spent my early years in California and Texas, many of my friends have always been of Hispanic descent. Even when I lived in New York City, I discovered that the tradition continued because many of my friends were from San Antonio, Dallas and other cities with a strong cultural heritage and ties to the Latino community. So in honor of that tradition, we’re going to feature several Mexican dishes during the month of May (when Cinco de Mayo is celebrated, meaning “the fifth of May,” which is actually a commemoration of the Mexican militia over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1812 and not Mexico’s Independence Day as many mistakenly believe). So look for those recipe ideas as the month progresses.

Bison in Wichita Moutains Wildlife Refuge

The Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge located 90 miles southwest of Oklahoma City is the oldest managed wildlife preserve in the United States.

Memorial Day is commemorated at the end of the month and many of you will have time off from work and we’re sure you’re looking forward to getting away for a mini-vacation. This year we’re going to try out the camping gear we purchased several years ago, but never seemed to get around to using. Both of us went camping as children, but somehow the experiences we had were never that pleasant. Parents either forgot to pack food or thought we’d catch fish and eat it (which we never did). In Heather’s case, six kids and her mother were crammed into a tiny tent in the heat of July. The only positive experience I did have camping was when I lived in Dallas and friends and I camped among the bison at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Oklahoma. The views were breathtaking and the animals were awesome as the moved fearlessly among humans. We did get rained out, however, and one of my friend’s tents floated away, so hopefully that won’t happen this time. In either case, please send us your camping stories and any tips you have that make camping safe and fun. We need all the help we can get! Then, next month, we’ll share our adventure with you.

Heather and I both turn another year older this month (but don’t even think about asking us our ages!), but we figure that any year we are healthy and above ground is a good one. We also have several friends celebrating wedding anniversaries this month, so we’d love to congratulate my cousin and her husband, Tabitha and Scott E., my former Spanish professor and her husband, Allison and Ivan M., and our friends Tom and Carla R. on yet another year of marital bliss.

We hope you’ve been enjoying April’s book club pick, The Cabinet of Curiosities, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. We’ve received numerous notes from readers, which is always fantastic. One reader said “the Pendergast books were among her favorite series and this one is the best.” Another thanked us for introducing the Pendergast series to him, because now he “is definitely hooked!” We feel the same way. So be sure to check out Preston and Child’s latest novel in the series, Cold Vengeance, which will be published on August 2nd. For more information, visit the authors’ Website at www.prestonchild.com. We will also reveal our latest book club pick this week, so stay tuned!

Finally, remember to check our Food page for recipes you may have missed, like our favorite peanut butter cookies, a classic meatless Italian dinner menu, some treats from our first ever breakfast week including our bacon and egg quesadillas, and our succulent oven-braised short ribs.

Whatever you’re doing this May, we hope you’re safe and healthy, that the time off from work allows you the chance to get in some much needed recreation, and that you find something wonderful to celebrate, even if it is just the simple pleasure of gathering together with friends and family.

With love,
Jathan & Heather