Staff Pick – Laura Jean – NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS by Marie Brennan, DB 78261

A delightful blend of traditional fantasy with historical fiction, A Natural History of Dragons (DB   78261) relates the memoirs of Isabella Camherst, Lady Trent, a woman dedicated to the scientific study of dragons in a time and place where such pursuits are not considered acceptable for a well-bred young lady.  Isabella ignores convention and with a group of dragon enthusiasts, she travels to study dragons in their natural element.

Fast paced and action-filled, Isabella Brennan deftly creates a world oddly reminiscent of Victorian England, yet full of mythical creatures such as wyverns and dragons. Isabella is a strong-willed, passionate guide to this world and through her memoirs the reader learns not only about the anatomy and behavior of dragons, but about the boundaries of class and gender that permeate her world.

NLS Annotation: The Natural History of Dragons (DB   78261): Fictional memoir of dragon naturalist Isabella, Lady Trent. She reflects on her early fascination with dragons and her efforts to study and learn more about the creatures. Describes her eventual trip into the field for first-hand observations. Some violence. 2013.

The Natural History of Dragons is the first book in Marie Brennan’s Memoirs by Lady Trent series. It is followed by Tropic of Serpents (DB   80128) with hopefully many more sequels to come.

For another dragon fantasy novel set in an alternative Victorian Era England, try His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, the first book in the Temeraire Adventures Series (DX   64445 and Available on BARD).


“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.”  (George Will)

America’s Pastime is back in full swing. Happily for Talking Book Program patrons who love reading and baseball, we have baseball books for fans of all ages.

From Mystery and Romance, to History and Horror, we cover all the bases. Take a swing at these titles, and you’re sure to hit a home run!


Change Up: An Oral History of Eight Key Events that Shaped Modern Baseball. Burke, Larry. DB 67709

Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Chafets, Zeʾev. DB 70370

Field of Screams: Haunted Tales from the Baseball Diamond, the Locker Room, and Beyond. Bradley, Mickey. DB 73223

Meaning of Nolan Ryan. Trujillo, Nick. DT 06851

One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season. La Russa, Tony. DB 75688

Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth. Smith, Curt. DB 74562

Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball. Feinstein, John. DB 78810


Art of Fielding. Harbach, Chad. DB 73791

Blockade Billy And Morality. King, Stephen. DB 71282

Final Detail: A Myron Bolitar Mystery. Coben, Harlan. DB 66893

Hot Property. Phillips, Carly. DB 67369

Mortal Stakes: A Spenser Novel. Parker, Robert B. DB 46112 / DX 46112

Stealing Home: The Sweet Magnolias, Book 1. Woods, Sherryl. DB 68122

Three Strikes and You’re Dead: A Murder, She Wrote Mystery. Bain, Donald. DB 64599 / DX 64599


Able to Play: Overcoming Physical Challenges. Stout, Glenn. DB 74747

Baseball Heroes. Stout, Glenn. DB 73057

Baseball Science. Bow, James. DB 69741

The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time. Berman, Len. DB 74531


Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series. Feinstein, John. DB 70540

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch. Sobol, Donald J. DB 67365

Farm Team: A Billy Baggs Novel. Weaver, Will. DX 64497

Roberto and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. Gutman, Dan. DB 70768

Ruth Rendell, Author of Wexford Mystery Series, Dies at Age 85

British psychological crime and mystery writer, Ruth Rendell, passed away May 2nd in London after suffering from a stroke last January. Perhaps best known for her Inspector Wexford series, Rendell is also the author of over twenty standalone psychological murder mysteries both under her name and her nom de plume, Barbara Vine. Rendell is critically lauded for elegantly crafted prose and for incorporating both social and psychological elements into her novels.

Rendell was the recipient of three Edgar Awards awarded by the Mystery Writers of America, as well as their Grand Master Award for her contributions to the genre. She was also awarded Silver, Gold and Cartier Diamond Daggers from the Crime Writer’s Association. Several of her works have been adapted to film and television, most notably her Inspector Wexford series, which aired from 1987-2000 under the title Ruth Rendell Mysteries and starred actor George Baker.

Ms. Rendell’s final novel, Dark Corners, is scheduled to be published in October.

Titles by Ruth Rendell in the TBP collection

Inspector Wexford series

  1. From Doon with Death DB   67718  (Also available on BARD)
  2. Wolf to the Slaughter DB   72741 (Also available on BARD)
  3. Best Man to Die DB   72455 (Also available on BARD)
  4. No More Dying Then  DX   51356/ DB   51356  (Available on BARD)
  5. Murder Being Once Done  DX   50959/ DB   50959  (Available on BARD)
  6. Some Lie and Some Die   DX   51688/ DB   51688  (Available on BARD)
  7. Shake Hands Forever DB   67543 (Also available on BARD)
  8. Sleeping Life DB   72469/ LB   02580 (Also available on BARD)
  9. Death Notes  BR   05025/ DB   17180  (Available on BARD)
  10. Speaker of Mandarin BR   05584
  11. Unkindness of Ravens  LB   03552/ DB   23873  (Available on BARD)
  12. Veiled One  BR   07555/ DB   28437  (Available on BARD)
  13. Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter  DB   35778  (Available on BARD)
  14. Simisola  DB   41923  (Available on BARD)
  15. Road Rage DB   45873  (Available on BARD)
  16. Harm Done DX   50401/ DB   50401 (Available on BARD)
  17. Babes in the Wood DX   59036/ DB   59036  (Also available on BARD)
  18. End in Tears DX   62145/ DB   62145 (Available on BARD)
  19. Not in the Flesh  DB   67552 (Also available on BARD)
  20. Monster in the Box  DB   72751/ LB   06274 (Also available on BARD)
  21. No Man’s Nightingale LB   07527

Short Story Anthologies

  • Means of Evil BR   04514
  • Collected Stories DX   28190/ DB   28190   (Available on BARD)
  • Copper Peacock and Other Stories DB   35054   (Available on BARD)
  • Fever Tree and Other Stories BR   05394

Standalone Novels

  • Judgement in Stone BR   03787/ LB   02565
  • Make Death Love Me LB   02367
  • Master of the Moor BR   05190
  • Tree of Hands  BR   06226/ LB   03463/ DB   23707 (Available on BARD)
  • Killing Doll  BR   05833/ LB   03340/ DB   20903 (Available on BARD)
  • Live Flesh  DB   25021 (Available on BARD)
  • Talking to Strange Men BR   07176/  DB   26871 (Available on BARD)
  • Heartstones  DB   28375 (Available on BARD)
  • Bridesmaid BR   08134/  DB   31812  (Available on BARD)
  • Going Wrong DB   32113  (Available on BARD)
  • Crocodile Bird DB   38432  (Available on BARD)
  • Sight for Sore Eyes DB   49492  (Available on BARD)
  • Adam and Eve Pinch Me DX   55890/ DB   55890  (Available on BARD)
  • Rottweiler BR   15952/ DX   59943/ DB   59943  (Available on BARD)
  • Thirteen Steps Down BR   1629/  DB   61454  (Available on BARD)
  • Water’s Lovely LB   05286/ DB   64542 (Available on BARD)
  • Portobello DB   73082/ LB   06544 (Also available on BARD)
  • Tigerlily’s Orchids DB   74361 (Also available on BARD)
  • Girl Next Door LB   08039

Under the name Barbara Vine

  • Fatal Inversion DB   27545  (Available on BARD)
  • House of Stairs DB   31123  (Available on BARD)
  • Gallowglass DB   31985  (Available on BARD)
  • King Solomon’s Carpet DB   35569  (Available on BARD)
  • Anna’s Book DB   37442  (Available on BARD)
  • No Night is Too Long DB   40804  (Available on BARD)
  • Brimstone Wedding DB   43587  (Available on BARD)
  • Chimney Sweeper’s Boy DB   47794  (Available on BARD)
  • Blood Doctor DB   56448  (Available on BARD)
  • Minotaur DB   61345  (Available on BARD)
  • Birthday Present DB   70783  (Also available on BARD)

Computer Training on NLS Cartridge from NFB Independence Market

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Independence Market is now selling a National Library Service digital cartridge that features 50+ hours of training on JAWS and other software programs. The cartridge includes in-depth training on JAWS, Windows 7 and Windows 8 Basics with JAWS, and training for the Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

The cartridge costs $750 plus shipping and handling. At this time the cartridge is not available through the online store, but may be purchased by calling the NFB Independence Marketplace at 410-659-9314, extension 2216.

The cartridge is only available for sale from the NFB Independence Market. It is not offered on loan from the Texas Talking Book Program.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel, DB 70074

The recent adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (Digital: DB 70074, Large print: LB 07612) for the screen and stage has brought renewed interested in this 2009 Man Booker Prize winning novel. Wolf Hall relates the story of Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn and the religious and political repercussions that ensued. The author adds a unique twist by telling this tale through the viewpoint of Henry’s advisor, Thomas Cromwell. Richly detailed, slow-paced, and character driven, Wolf Hall truly immerses the reader in the world of the sixteenth century English court.

NLS Annotation: Thomas Cromwell, a closet Protestant and blacksmith’s son who becomes advisor to Henry VIII of England, realizes that he can accumulate power and wealth by assisting the king in obtaining an annulment and simultaneously help commoners and his country by destroying the corrupt Catholic clergy. Booker Prize. Bestseller.  2009.

Wolf Hall is the first book in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy. It is followed by Bring Up the Bodies (DB 74880) and will conclude with The Mirror and the Light, which is currently scheduled to be published later this year.

For an another fictional view of Anne Boleyn’s rise and fall, through the eyes of her sister Mary, try The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (DB 58873). To read Anne’s story from her own perspective, try Lady in the Tower,  the fourth book in the Queens of England series by Jean Plaidy (Digital cartridge: DX 32305; BARD: DB 32305).

TBP visits Rio Grande City Public Library

One of our TBP Readers Advisory Librarians recently visited the Rio Grande City Public Library to inform patrons of the services made available through our Talking Book Program. In this YouTube video, produced by Rio Grande City TV, we go step by step through the process of signing up for, receiving and returning the FREE materials offered through TBP.

Bertrice Small, Historical Romance Author, Dies at Age 77

Bertrice Small, New York Times bestselling novelist of historical romance and contemporary erotica, passed away on February 24th in Southold, New York. The author of more than 50 novels since her debut novel Kadin in 1978, Small was considered a pioneer in the genre of modern romance.

Known as one of the original “Avon Ladies”, Small belonged to a group of novelists who radically changed the public perception of romance during the late 1970s.  Bringing more erotic content as well as strong female protagonists to her novels, Small helped transform the genre from the gentle romances of Anya Seton and Taylor Caldwell and pave the way for contemporary romance authors such as Diana Gabaldon.

Fans of the genre supported her innovative approach to romance. Small not only appeared frequently on  best-seller lists; she was also the recipient of multiple awards such as Best Historical Romance, Outstanding Historical Romance Series, Career Achievement for Historical Fantasy and several Reviewers’ Choice awards from the industry publication, Romantic Times. She was also awarded a “Silver Pen” from Affaire de Coeur, and an Honorable Mention from the West Coast Review of Books. In 2014 she was granted the most prestigious honor awarded by the Romance Writers of America, the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Titles by Beatrice Small in the TBP collection:

Skye O’Malley Saga series

  1. Skye O’Malley                        DB   18031/ DX   18031 (also available on BARD)
  2. All the Sweet Tomorrows       DB   76411
  3. Love for All Time                    DB   76564
  4. This Heart of Mine                  DB   76757
  5. Lost Love Found                     DB   77075
  6. Wild Jasmine                          DB   77266

Skye’s Legacy series

  1. Darling Jasmine                    DB   77629
  2. Bedazzled                             DB   77829 (numbers 2-5 are on one cartridge)
  3. Besieged                               DB   77829
  4. Intrigued                                DB   77829
  5. Just Beyond Tomorrow         DB   77829
  6. Vixens                                   DB   55861/ DX   55861 (also available  on BARD)

Friarsgate Inheritance series

  1. Rosamund                           DB   55518/ DX   55518 (also available  on BARD)
  2. Until You                              DB   59491/ DX   59491
  3. Philippa                                DB   60223/ DX   60223 (also available  on BARD)
  4. Last Heiress                         DB   63776/ DX   63776 (also available  on BARD)

Border Chronicles series

  1. Dangerous Love                  DB   66278
  2. Border Lord’s Bride             DB   71596
  3. Captive Heart                       DB   68669/ LB   06238
  4. Border Lord and the Lady    DB   72508
  5. Border Vixen                        DB   73159
  6. Bond of Passion                   DB   74799

Standalone Titles

To Love Again                      DB   44158/ DX 44158 (also available  on BARD)

Love Slave                           DB   45233/ DX 45233 (also available  on BARD)

Duchess                               BR   13502/ DB 52457 (also available  on BARD)



Statewide Independent Living Conference March 1-3, 2015

The Texas State Independent Living Conference will take place on March 1 – 3, 2014, in Austin, at the Austin Marriott South, 4415 S. IH 35. The theme of this year’s conference is F.I.R.E. – Future Independence through Resources and Education.

This conference offers panel discussions, advocacy training, networking opportunities, and access to exhibitors promoting disability-related services and products.

The Independent Living Conference will coincide with two important events: the operation of the 84th Texas Legislature, and a visit from the Legacy Project, a bus touring the country to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

For more information about the conference, please visit:

March 2015 TBP Book Club Title Announced!

Texas Talking Book patrons: please join us on Thursday March 26th at 7 pm (Central Time) for our book club discussion of UNBROKEN: A WORLD WAR II STORY OF SURVIVAL, RESILIENCE, AND REDEMPTION by Laura Hillenbrand (DB 72129).

Our book club meetings are hosted via toll free conference call, so all you need is a telephone to participate.  To RSVP call the Talking Book Program at: 1-800-252-9605 (RSVP preferred by March 12th) or email us at:  Please indicate if you would like us to mail you the digital cartridge or if you prefer to download the book from BARD.

NLS Annotation:


Author of SEABISCUIT (DB 51968) details the life of Louis Zamperini (b. 1917), an Olympic runner and World War II bombardier, who survived a plane crash and forty-seven days adrift at sea only to become a POW in Japan. Relates Louis’ later religious awakening under Billy Graham’s ministry. Violence. Bestseller. 2010.


Colleen McCullough, Author of The Thorn Birds, Dies at Age 77

Colleen McCullough, author of the enormously popular 1977 Australian romance The Thorn Birds, passed away on Thursday in Norfolk Island due to kidney failure. When the novel was first published, McCullough received $1.9 million for the paperback rights to The Thorn Birds–a record at the time. Since then, more than 30 million copies have been sold worldwide. This success enabled her to trade her poorly-paid career as a neurophysiologist for a life in writing.

The Thorn Birds, a romance novel about the Cleary dynasty and the forbidden relationship between Maggie and Catholic priest Ralph de Bricassart, later spawned the TV mini-series of the same name starring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. According to the New York Times, the mini-series was seen by more than 100 million people.

McCullough went on to write more than 20 books, including a memoir and two series -one of them about the saga of ancient Rome and its rulers. Although the public loved her work and consumed it accordingly, literary critics were not always kind. They decried her style of dialogue and her frequent use of exclamation points. McCullough, however, was unaffected by criticism. In fact, she was well known for her immovable self-confidence and strong opinions.

The New York Times quotes McCullough’s 2007 response to her critics on Australian Television: “I think in their heart of hearts all these people know that I’m more secure than they are, more confident than they are, and smarter than they are.”  Who can argue with that?

Titles by Colleen McCullough in the TBP collection:

  • TIM  (1974)  LB 01728
  • THORN BIRDS (1977)  BR 04284 / DB 51148 / DX 51148 / LB 02198
  • INDECENT OBSESSION (1981) BR 05058 / LB 02873
  • CREED FOR THE THIRD MILLENNIUM (1985) BR 06186 / RC 21535 / DX 21535
  • LADIES OF MISSALONGHI (1987)  BR 06907 / RC 25980 / DB 25980 (digital format of this title currently for download only)
  • FIRST MAN IN ROME: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 1 (1990) RC 32043 / DB 32043 (digital format of this title currently for download only)
  • GRASS CROWN: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 2 (1991)  RC 33912 / DX 33912
  • OCTOBER HORSE: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 6 (2002) RC 56136 / DX 56136
  • MORGAN’S RUN (2000) DB 50934  (digital format for this title currently for download only)
  • TOUCH (2003) DB 57769