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Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, May 29th.

Also mentioned in the Newsletter Opener, which can be read here:

GOURMET RHAPSODY by Muriel Barbery
THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls
HALF BROKE HORSES by Jeannette Walls
WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
DIE FOR YOU by Lisa Unger
CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins
THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

Reviews and Excerpts
SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See (Fiction)
At its heart, Lisa See’s latest novel is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends, who share hopes, dreams and a deep connection. But like sisters everywhere, they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but they also know exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other sister the most. Along the way there are terrible sacrifices, impossible choices and one devastating, life-changing secret. Reviewed by Roz Shea.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SHANGHAI GIRLS.

PEOPLE DIE by Kevin Wignall (Thriller)
In the assassination game, everything can change with a single bullet. For the first time, the predator now finds himself the prey. How can a hit man outsmart another hit man? International hit man JJ must stay one step ahead of his enemies as he fights to expose a dangerous conspiracy --- and live to kill another day. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from PEOPLE DIE.

THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly (Thriller)
Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career. He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow's so-called confession is bogus. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE LEGEND OF SIGURD AND GUDRÚN written by J. R. R. Tolkien and edited by Christopher Tolkien (Fantasy/Poetry)
J. R. R. Tolkien once commented that the northern lands of Sigurd and the Völsungs were "pre-eminently desirable" for his escapist fantasies as a youth. In time he wrote his own variation, after careful study, but it was lost to time. Now, his son Christopher has unearthed and dusted off those long-forgotten epic poems and given them their proper place in the pantheon of the Tolkien legendarium. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

THE SECRET SPEECH by Tom Rob Smith (Thriller)
Tom Rob Smith, author of the acclaimed debut CHILD 44, returns with an intense, suspenseful new novel: a story where the sins of the past threaten to destroy the present, where families must overcome unimaginable obstacles to save their loved ones, and where hope for a better tomorrow is found in the most unlikely of circumstances. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DEAR HUSBAND: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates (Fiction/Short Stories)
With the unflinching candor and sym¬pathy for which Joyce Carol Oates is celebrated, these 14 stories examine the intimate lives of contemporary American families: the tangled ties between generations, the desperation --- and the covert, radiant happiness --- of loving more than one is loved in return. Reviewed by Marge Fletcher.
THE DIARY by Eileen Goudge (Fiction)
When sisters Sarah and Emily stumble across an old diary while cleaning out their mother’s attic, they are stunned to learn she was in love with another man before their dad. As they read on, they are left with more questions than answers. What made the youthful Elizabeth choose their dad in the end? What became of the mysterious AJ? The answers may surprise you --- and have you asking, “How well do I know my parents?” Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.
DARK PLACES by Gillian Flynn (Thriller)
When Libby Day's family was massacred 24 years ago, seven-year-old Libby survived and then testified that her brother Ben was the killer. Now Libby wonders if Ben, currently serving a life sentence, was truly the murderer. She sets out to prove it one way or the other. Libby's story, although bleak, is irresistibly intriguing. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT by Barbara Vine (Mystery)
When a new Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell mystery is released, her fans celebrate. Vine is Rendell’s alter ego, and in that incarnation her books are a bit edgier, a little more grisly, somewhat sexier and often more political. Such is the case with THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT, a highly suspenseful cautionary tale, mixing murder, morality and politics. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE: A Caitlin Strong Novel by Jon Land (Thriller)
Jon Land’s latest suspense novel blazes across border towns in Texas, boardrooms in Washington, D.C, marketplaces in Bahrain, slums in Venezuela and crime-plagued cities in Mexico. Beyond the adrenalin-pumping action and complex characters, STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE presents a message of mercy, understanding and redemption. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

IMPEACHED: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy by David O. Stewart (History)
Twice in recent years the possible impeachment of an American President has been front page news. But the most potentially serious such event took place over 140 years ago when President Abraham Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, came within one vote of being deposed in the bitter afterLinkmath of the Civil War and Reconstruction. In this book, lawyer-historian David O. Stewart takes a somewhat revisionist stance on that congressional battle that transfixed the nation. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

Author Talk
Lisa See
Bestselling author Lisa See's latest publication, SHANGHAI GIRLS, explores the complex bonds of sisterhood in the face of clashing cultures and personal hardships over two volatile decades in the first half of the 20th century. In this interview, See describes the various inspirations behind her seventh book and sheds light on some of the little-known aspects of Chinese-American history. She also elaborates on the book's historical settings, such as Angel Island and China City, details how some of her own family's experiences were worked into the novel, and muses on the complexity of relationships between sisters.

Beach Bag of Books
Whether your "beach" is on sand, your backyard deck or a grassy meadow in the country, the summer months mean it's time for "beach reading." is celebrating the lazy days of summer reading with our Fifth Annual Beach Bag of Books feature and contests.

During select weeks from May 22nd through September 4th, a different title or collection of titles will be featured with a contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with the featured book(s) and summertime essentials. Five FABULOUS beach bags will be given away each week, as well as five copies of the featured book(s) to additional winners.

THE EX-MRS. HEDGEFUND by Jill Kargman (Fiction)
This is about the time of year that a book lover starts searching for those titles that will fill her beach bag, be dragged to the pool, hauled out on the boat and passed around at the playground. Just in time to fill all these requirements of a fun summer read is Jill Kargman’s THE EX-MRS. HEDGEFUND. Reviewed by Jamie Layton.

Fourth Annual Father's Day Contest
Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the men in our lives who have raised and inspired us. Why not show him your appreciation by inspiring him with a great book? From May 29th through June 12th readers will have the chance to win one of our five Father’s Day Tote Bag Coolers, which are stocked with handy and fun items for dad as well as one copy of all six of our featured titles. Whether he is a fan of suspense novels, uplifting stories --- or if he’s just looking for great summer cooking ideas --- has the perfect gift suggestions for the dad in your life.

Our featured Father’s Day titles are:

- THE BOOK OF DADS: Essays on the Joys, Perils, and Humiliations of Fatherhood, edited by Ben George
- DIAMONDHEAD by Patrick Robinson
- HURRY DOWN SUNSHINE: A Memoir, by Michael Greenberg
- NUDGE: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein - THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

New in Paperback
May’s roundup of New in Paperback fiction titles includes THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, a unique collaboration between the late Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, Annie Barrows, that illustrates the power of resilience, romance --- and reading; TESTIMONY by Anita Shreve, an absorbing tale of stunned parents, lost children and the night that changed their lives; THE BOOK OF LIES, in which Brad Meltzer intertwines two vastly disparate crimes: the Biblical account of mankind's "first murder" and the real-life tragedy that inspired the creation of a legendary comic book superhero; RULES OF DECEPTION, the latest espionage thriller from Christopher Reich that finds a man the subject of an international manhunt and the target of a master assassin after his wife's death; and Lisa Gardner’s SAY GOODBYE, which marks the return of FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy (last seen in 2006’s GONE), this time in a starring role.

Among our nonfiction highlights are THE DOWNHILL LIE, celebrated author Carl Hiaasen’s hilarious confessional about returning to the golf course after a 32-year absence; AUDITION, in which famed television journalist Barbara Walters describes her extraordinary public and private journey; THE FIRST 30 DAYS, Ariane de Bonvoisin’s guidebook that reveals the nine principles of change that will revolutionize how you face transition times; and HOW NOT TO LOOK OLD by Charla Krupp, which details “Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better.”

Literary Fiction Author Spotlight
THE WONDER SINGER by George Rabasa
For freelance writer Mark Lockwood, landing the job as ghost writer for opera diva Mercè Casals is a dream. But when she dies in her bath and her agent wants to give the project to a renowned celebrity biographer, Lockwood makes off with the interview tapes to save his last best chance at writing success.
- Click here to read George Rabasa's bio.
- Click here to read more about THE WONDER SINGER.

Women's Fiction Author Spotlight
"You can always start again," Kate Robinson's mother once told her, "all it takes is a new thread." Overwhelmed by heartbreak and loss, the struggling 26-year-old fashion designer follows her mother's advice and flees to her ancestral homeland of Ireland, hoping to break free of old patterns and reinvent herself. An enchanting, romantic tale of friendship and love in which a young American woman helps a group of lace makers change their lives --- and, ultimately, her own.
- Click here to read Heather Barbieri's bio.
- Click here to read Heather Barbieri's bibliography.
- Click here to read more about THE LACE MAKERS OF GLENMARA.

One to Watch Author Spotlight
CRAZY FOR THE STORM by Norman Ollestad
From the age of three, Norman Ollestad was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive downhill skiing by the intense, charismatic father he both idolized and resented. While his friends were riding bikes, playing ball, and going to birthday parties, young Norman was whisked away in pursuit of wild and demanding adventures. Yet it were these exhilarating tests of skill that prepared “Boy Wonder,” as his father called him, to become a fearless champion --- and ultimately saved his life.
- Click here to read the second round of advance readers' comments about CRAZY FOR THE STORM.

Debut Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
Two decades ago, at a private women’s college in upstate New York, a student was brutally attacked in her dorm room, but her assailant was never found. Sue Barlow arrives at Wilbourne College twenty years later. When a classmate disappears, Sue thinks it’s an isolated incident until two other girls vanish. As fear grows on campus, Sue begins to sense she’s being watched, and as the body count rises, she soon realizes that a twisted psychopath is summoning her to play a wicked game.
- Click here to read John Manning's answers to readers' questions.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

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