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Friday, November 7, 2008

November 7, 2008

In Memoriam
Remembering Michael Crichton
On November 4, 2008, Michael Crichton --- a medical doctor turned novelist who is best known as the author of JURASSIC PARK and the creator of NBC's "ER" --- passed away unexpectedly after a long and private battle with cancer.'s Joe Hartlaub pays tribute to this modern-day Renaissance man, who left behind an impressive legacy in the literary, film, television and computer gaming worlds.

» Click here to read Joe Hartlaub's tribute to Michael Crichton.

The holiday season is upon us! At it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest. As you begin your holiday shopping, we want to remind you that books make affordable, personal and wonderful gifts for EVERYONE on your list --- and are a nice way to treat yourself as well!

From November 7th through January 5th we will spotlight a different title or collection of titles, and readers will have the chance to win one of five holiday baskets filled with winter-themed items as well as two copies of the featured book(s). Why two? One is to keep, of course, and one is for someone on your holiday gift list. We will also include festive wrapping paper to make the gift-giving hassle-free. » Click here for all the contest details.

This Week's Basket:
THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS by David Morrell (Thriller)
On Christmas Eve, a desperate man feverishly seeks refuge for himself and the squirming bundle he's holding. Agent Paul Kagan's bundle is a baby who has the power to change the course of global events. His pursuers are his former colleagues --- members of the Russian mafia who will stop at nothing to accomplish their mission. Now Kagan is a spy on the run who must ensure this baby's survival, even if it will cost him his own life. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Author Talk
John Grogan
Journalist John Grogan is best known for his debut work of nonfiction, MARLEY & ME, an international bestseller that will soon make its way to the big screen in a film adaptation starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. His latest book, THE LONGEST TRIP HOME, is a coming-of-age memoir about growing up in the 1960s and his struggle to find himself despite his family's conflicting values. In this Author Talk, Grogan explains why he chose to explore this particular aspect of his upbringing and discusses the difficulties of portraying people and events honestly while still respecting the privacy of those who have played roles in his life. He also describes how his parents' "pack rat" tendencies helped him recapture memories that spanned a 40-year period, elaborates on the universal appeal of his writing and muses on how life has changed since the unexpected success of MARLEY & ME.

Women's Fiction Feature
Marie Bostwick
A SINGLE THREAD by Marie Bostwick (Fiction)
On Sale Now
A SINGLE THREAD is a sometimes humorous and always touching story that features the strong, first person voice and lyrical style, small town values and the quilting imagery readers of Marie Bostwick's historical novels have come to love.

Suspense/Thriller Feature
John Lutz
NIGHT KILLS by John Lutz (Psychological Thriller)
On Sale Now
New York Times bestselling author John Lutz returns with a gruesome, page turning psychological thriller. A former NYPD detective is hunting for a madman: someone is shooting young women in the heart, defiling their bodies, and only leaving their torsos to be found. No one knows the true motives behind a rampage of cold-blooded murders... or how much more terrifying it's going to get.

This November brings one of the most exciting Books into Movies lineups of the year, with three highly anticipated films that promise to live up to every bit of the intense hype surrounding them.

November 7th marks the release of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, an incredibly moving (and, well, insanely depressing) adaptation of John Boyne's award-winning bestseller about the Holocaust, told from the innocent eyes of a Nazi officer's young son. Keep the tissues handy --- the surprise ending will leave you sobbing long after you leave the theater.

Already causing quite a stir on the film festival circuit before its November 12th drop date is Slumdog Millionaire, by director Danny Boyle of Trainspotting, The Beach and 28 Days Later fame. Part Dickensian drama, part romance and part life-affirming fantasy, this indie release follows an 18-year-old orphan as he recalls the experiences that took him from the slums of Mumbai to being just one question away from winning India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" --- all for the love of a girl.

After months of teaser trailers, magazine articles, movie-poster sightings and Internet buzz, fans of the wildly popular series by Stephenie Meyer only need to wait until the 21st before Edward and Bella come to life on the big screen in Twilight. This paranormal teen romance about a 16-year-old girl who falls in love with a vampire will surely draw in record-breaking crowds of all ages in Harry Potter-like proportions.

And let's not forget about two DVD releases on the 18th, which will have teens smiling from ear to ear: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, adapted from Ann Brashares's FOREVER IN BLUE: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood, and The Clique, a direct-to-DVD film based on Lisi Harrison's bestselling series about five girls who belong to The Pretty Committee, the most popular clique at Octavian Country Day School. » Click here for more details about November's films.

Reviews and Excerpts
A SPOONFUL OF POISON by M. C. Beaton (Mystery)
Amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin is back, doing some PR work for a church fundraiser. But when two people die after tasting some of the local ladies' jams, she has a murder investigation on her hands. Of course, while she is trying to track down the killer for the townsfolk, she is also attempting to find a man for herself. Reviewed by Kate Ayers and excerpted.

BONES: An Alex Delaware Novel, by Jonathan Kellerman (Psychological Thriller)
The anonymous caller has an ominous tone and an unnerving message about something "real dead…buried in your marsh." The eco-volunteer on the other end of the phone thinks it's a prank, but then a young woman's body turns up in L.A.'s Bird Marsh preserve. And when the bones of more victims surface, homicide detective Milo Sturgis realizes the city is under siege to an insidious killer. Milo's first move: calling in psychologist Alex Delaware. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.

THE LONGEST TRIP HOME: A Memoir, by John Grogan (Memoir)
Long before Marley entered John Grogan's life, the Catholic Church was the center of his parents' lives. They expected the same from him. But when John realizes he's a skeptic, this knowledge tears a rift in the family. That chasm adds thought-provoking layers to this poignant love letter to his mom and dad, detailing the author's often hilarious upbringing, the sorrow he feels as his parents decline, and his love for them. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon and excerpted.

BURN OUT by Marcia Muller (Mystery)
Traumatized by a recent life-or-death investigation, Sharon McCone flees to her ranch in California's high desert country to contemplate her future. A chance encounter with a troubled, highly secretive Native American woman begins to haunt McCone's dreams. Even though she is determined not to investigate anything during her stay --- and perhaps not ever again --- McCone is drawn into the plight of the young woman and her dysfunctional family. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

- Visit Marcia Muller's official website,

ONCE WERE COPS by Ken Bruen (Thriller)
Michael O'Shea is a member of Ireland's police force, known as The Guards, and a sociopath. When an exchange program is initiated and 20 Guards come to America and 20 cops from the States go to Ireland, Shay, as he's known, has his lifelong dream come true --- he becomes a member of the NYPD. But Shay's dream is about to become New York's nightmare. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

AN OUTRAGEOUS AFFAIR by Penny Vincenzi (Fiction)
Penny Vincenzi's latest blockbuster saga to be released in the United States is an absorbing tale of Hollywood scandal, English aristocracy and, yes, some outrageous affairs. First published in the United Kingdom in 1993, this is another terrific example of Vincenzi's ability to bring together a couple dozen characters (and just as many subplots) in intriguing, titillating and outrageous ways. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE by Bill Pronzini (Thriller)
A man travels to Death Valley to put his life back together and finds a deserted car with a suicide note in it. Soon he discovers a young woman near death. He rescues her and gets involved in kidnapping, murder and deception in this suspense/thriller by veteran mystery author Bill Pronzini. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

THE VARIOUS FLAVORS OF COFFEE by Anthony Capella (Fiction)
When Robert Wallis, an impoverished poet, accepts a job to compose a "vocabulary of coffee" based on its many subtle and elusive flavors, an extraordinary adventure begins in which Wallis will experience the dizzying heights of desire and the excruciating pain of loss. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE KILLING CIRCLE by Andrew Pyper (Thriller)
Following his wife's passing, single father and struggling journalist Patrick Rush hopes to amp up his creativity and take his mind off the emptiness he feels. After reading a classified ad inviting him to "Tell the Story of Your Life," he joins a creative writing circle where he gets caught up in a web of intrigue and death. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

SKIN DEEP by Gary Braver (Psychological Thriller)
Someone is killing the most alluring women of Boston. This individual is insinuating himself into his victims' lives and leaving them with nothing but an elegant black stocking knotted around their necks. Homicide detective Lt. Steve Markarian must stop the killer before another vulnerable woman is sacrificed --- possibly even his own estranged wife. Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara.

RITUAL by Mo Hayder (Thriller)
RITUAL is a fascinating novel whose themes are exquisitely woven into a cross between a police procedural and a chilling cross-cultural thriller. From Bristol, England, to Africa's Kalahari Desert, the intertwining storylines make for a highly satisfying read. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

MAIMONIDES: The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds, by Joel L. Kraemer (Biography)
MAIMONIDES is at once a portrait of a great historical figure and an excursion into the Mediterranean world of the 12th century. Joel Kraemer draws on a wealth of original sources to recreate a remarkable period in history when Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions clashed and mingled in a setting alive with intense intellectual exchange and religious conflict. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

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