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Friday, July 10, 2009

July 10, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, July 10th.

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

THE NEIGHBOR by Lisa Gardner
THE LAST EMBER by Daniel Levin
MANIA by Craig Larsen
SMASHER by Keith Raffel

Reviews and Excerpts
THE SHIMMER by David Morrell (Thriller)
New York Times bestselling author David Morrell’s new novel, bizarre phenomena draw hundreds of people to a remote Texas town, including a Santa Fe police officer and his wife who find themselves plunged into violence and bloodshed that quickly spiral out of control. But has the military known about --- and exploited --- these inexplicable phenomena for decades, thus unleashing forces they may not be able to control? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE SHIMMER.

SWIMSUIT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Thriller)
A breathtakingly beautiful supermodel disappears from a swimsuit photo shoot at the most glamorous hotel in Hawaii. Only hours after she goes missing, Kim McDaniels's parents receive a terrifying phone call. Ex-cop Ben Hawkins, now a reporter for the L.A. Times, gets the McDaniels assignment. All the while, the killer sets the stage for his next production. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SWIMSUIT.

THE EMBERS by Hyatt Bass (Fiction)
In THE EMBERS, first-time author Hyatt Bass introduces readers to a family completely destroyed and reconstructed after the jolting tragedy that rocked it nearly 15 years earlier. Accomplished storytelling and apt characterizations mark this notable debut novel. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE APOSTLE by Brad Thor (Political Thriller)
Every politician has a secret. And when the daughter of a politically-connected family is kidnapped abroad, America's new president will agree to anything --- even a deadly and ill-advised rescue plan --- in order to keep his secret hidden. Brad Thor follows up THE LAST PATRIOT with another riveting political thriller. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE DOOMSDAY KEY by James Rollins (Thriller)
Sigma Force Commander Gray Pierce is called into action to stop a conspiracy that threatens the world’s food supply. Aided by Monk Kokkalis, fellow Sigma operative and best friend, along with two women from his past, Pierce races against time to avert a horrifying plot that will unleash a centuries-old prophesy of destruction and doom. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

THE CASTAWAYS by Elin Hilderbrand (Fiction)
Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoys’ closest friends for what will be revealed. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

HOW SHALL I TELL THE DOG?: And Other Final Musings by Miles Kington (Memoir)
Prolific author, humor columnist and jazz reviewer Miles Kington has penned his final book in the form of a series of letters to his long-time agent and friend, Gillian Coleridge. Miles had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and decided that perhaps there was a book to be written about his experiences. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

COMMENCEMENT by J. Courtney Sullivan (Fiction)
J. Courney Sullivan’s outstanding debut novel is a tender story of friendship, a witty take on liberal arts colleges, and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

WARBREAKER by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy)
A God King, two princesses, a shadowy swordsman, and a reluctant god and hero collide in a web of politics, magic and religion as two neighboring nations find themselves on the precipice of war. WARBREAKER is another fine entry in Brandon Sanderson’s growing catalog of work. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

VANILLA RIDE: A Hap and Leonard Novel by Joe R. Lansdale (Thriller)
When an old friend asks Leonard Pine to rescue his daughter from an abusive, no-good drug dealer, he gladly agrees and, of course, invites best friend Hap Collins along for the fun. Even though the dealer may be lowly, he is on the bottom rung of the Dixie Mafia, and when Hap and Leonard come calling, the Mafia feels a little payback is in order. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE DEVIL’S COMPANY by David Liss (Historical Thriller)
David Liss’s fifth novel is another historical thriller set in 1722 London and features one of his recurring characters: ex-boxer and master of disguise Benjamin Weaver. Weaver gets involved in a treacherous web of deceit when he is blackmailed by a mysterious figure into stealing important documents from a well-known British company. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

IN THE KITCHEN by Monica Ali (Fiction)
The executive chef of a busy restaurant dreams of starting an establishment of his own, when tragedy strikes one of his co-workers. This shocking event causes a chain reaction that changes Gabriel’s life from a positive outlook to one of despair. Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton.

A DATE YOU CAN'T REFUSE by Harley Jane Kozak (Mystery)
When Wollie Shelley accepts a job coaching European visitors in American-style social graces for a media training company, she also takes a position with the FBI spying on that same company. However, Wollie is woefully unsuited to life as an undercover double agent, which makes for both hilarious and frightening situations --- as well as a delightful read. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

THE BEIJING OF POSSIBILITIES by Jonathan Tel (Fiction/Short Stories)
Blending humor with carefully observed details of life in Beijing, Jonathan Tel’s short stories offer a rich and entertaining guide to the city and its many and varied inhabitants --- from a modern-day Monkey King to an equally contemporary indentured servant, from a boy tasting his first cotton candy to a Ming Dynasty princess posting her first online profile. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for THE BEIJING OF POSSIBILITIES.

FRAGMENT by Warren Fahy (Thriller)
Evolutionary science, spine-tingling horror and reality television collide in Warren Fahy’s FRAGMENT, a terrific debut novel that illustrates how scientists’ dream discovery quickly devolves into their worst nightmare on the world’s most secluded island. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

David Morrell
Though perhaps best known as the creator of Rambo, David Morrell has written over 30 works of fiction and nonfiction, including THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS, SCAVENGER, CREEPERS and THE SUCCESSFUL NOVELIST. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Morrell discusses the real-life inspirations behind the unusual visual phenomena that take place in his latest book, THE SHIMMER, and elaborates on one of its smaller themes of media sensationalism. He also describes how he worked his fascination with actor James Dean into the story, explains how he overcomes bouts of writer’s block, and reveals how screenwriter Stirling Silliphant prompted him to jumpstart his writing career.

Author Talk
Hyatt Bass
In this interview, feature film director/screenwriter Hyatt Bass discusses the inspiration behind her debut novel, THE EMBERS, and explains how it evolved from its origins as a screenplay to a book. She also muses on what initially drew her to writing fiction, and names some of the novels and their authors who helped influence her own work.

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.

This week we’re spotlighting a collection of four titles from Vanguard Press, including THE COMPASS by Tammy Kling and John Spencer Ellis, DIAMONDHEAD by Patrick Robinson, DOMESTIC AFFAIRS by Eileen Goudge and THE SHIMMER by David Morrell. In a pink patterned beach bag, winners will find a red-and-pink striped beach towel, a translucent blue pitcher with four matching glasses, a bottle of H2O+ Grapefruit-Bergamot Shower & Bath Treatment, H2O+ Natural Spring Antibacterial Hand Soap, a Banana Boat 50SPF sunscreen stick and an inflatable inner tube for floating while reading, as well as a copy of THE COMPASS, DIAMONDHEAD, DOMESTIC AFFAIRS and THE SHIMMER. We have five to give away, as well as five additional prizes of copies of THE COMPASS, DIAMONDHEAD, DOMESTIC AFFAIRS and THE SHIMMER.

THE COMPASS by Tammy Kling and John Spencer Ellis (Fiction)
THE COMPASS is a life-transforming novel that will guide you on a journey of self-discovery. New York Times bestselling author Brian Tracy raves: “THE COMPASS will take you from where you are now to that place you've been destined to reach. It will help you achieve your goals and dreams."

DIAMONDHEAD by Patrick Robinson (Thriller)
When Navy SEAL Mack Bedford’s fellow officers are brutally killed by Iraqi insurgents using a cruel new weapon, he avenges their murders and gets himself into more trouble. But when Mack is asked to help assassinate a powerful French politician, he finds himself agreeing. His reward is a chance at survival for both his son and his hometown.

DOMESTIC AFFAIRS by Eileen Goudge (Fiction)
“Rosie and Abigail are like family,” Ina Merriweather used to say. That is, until the day Ina abruptly cast out her housekeeper, Rosie, and daughter Abigail. Abigail felt deeply betrayed, especially by Ina’s daughter Lila, who was her closest friend. Only Lila’s twin brother Vaughn, with whom Abigail had been exploring the joys and heartaches of first love, showed any compassion. Now, 25 years later, an old score is about to be settled...and an old love rekindled. Reviewed by Colleen Quinn.

THE SHIMMER by David Morrell (Thriller)
In New York Times bestselling author David Morrell’s new novel, bizarre phenomena draw hundreds of people to a remote Texas town, including a Santa Fe police officer and his wife who find themselves plunged into violence and bloodshed that quickly spiral out of control. But has the military known about --- and exploited --- these inexplicable phenomena for decades, thus unleashing forces they may not be able to control? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
RULES OF VENGEANCE by Christopher Reich
Months after foiling an attack on a commercial jetliner, Doctors Without Borders physician Jonathan Ransom is working under an assumed name in a remote corner of Africa, while his newly revealed spy wife, Emma, desperate to escape the wrath of Division, the secret American intelligence agency she betrayed, has vanished into the netherworld of international espionage. Both look forward to sharing a stolen weekend in London --- until an ambush on a convoy of limousines turns their romantic rendezvous into a terrorist bloodbath.
- Click here to read Christopher Reich’s bio.
- Click here to read Christopher Reich’s bibliography.
- Click here to read more about RULES OF VENGEANCE.

NO MERCY by John Gilstrap
Deep inside the dangerous world of rescue operations, one anonymous hero pays no ransom, takes no prisoners and breaks every rule. Meet Jonathan Grave. No names. No feds. No trace evidence. That’s how Jonathan Grave operates. As a freelance specialist in covert rescues, he has to work outside the law to get things done --- especially in highly sensitive hostage situations. But when an Indiana college student is abducted, and Jonathan’s meticulous plan explodes into a deadly shooting spree, the local authorities are out for blood --- and they’re not alone. Someone wants to control a devastating secret...someone rich and powerful...someone willing to capture, torture and kill anyone to get it. Even the people Jonathan loves most.
- Click here to read John Gilstrap’s bio.
- Click here to read John Gilstrap's bibliography.
- Click here to read more about NO MERCY.

UNDONE by Karin Slaughter
In the trauma center of Atlanta’s busiest hospital, Sara Linton treats the poor, wounded and unlucky --- and finds refuge from the tragedy that rocked her life in rural Grant County. But in an instant, Sara is thrust into a frantic police investigation that will take her right back to Grant County. In UNDONE, three unforgettable characters from Karin Slaughter’s bestselling novels FAITHLESS and FRACTURED collide for the first time, entering an electrifying race against the clock.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from UNDONE.

Historical Fiction Author Spotlight
THE DEVIL’S QUEEN: A Novel of Catherine de Medici by Jeanne Kalogridis
Confidante of Nostradamus, scheming mother-in-law to Mary, Queen of Scots, and architect of the bloody St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, Catherine de Medici is one of the most maligned monarchs in history. In her latest historical fiction, Jeanne Kalogridis tells Catherine’s story --- that of a tender young girl, destined to be a pawn in Machiavellian games.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE DEVIL’S QUEEN.

Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight
THE LIKENESS by Tana French
Six months after the events of IN THE WOODS, Detective Cassie Maddox is still trying to recover. She’s transferred out of the Murder squad and started a relationship with Detective Sam O’Neill, but she’s too badly shaken to make any commitment either to him or to her career. Then Sam calls her to the scene of his new case: a young woman found stabbed to death in a small town outside Dublin.

The dead girl’s ID says her name is Lexie Madison --- the identity Cassie used, years ago, as an undercover detective. And she looks exactly like Cassie.
- Click here to read more about THE LIKENESS.
- Click here to read a third excerpt from THE LIKENESS
- Click here to read a review of THE LIKENESS.
- Click here to read Tana French’s bio.
- Click here to read Tana French's bibliography.

Witty, smart and always chic, Haley Randolph has it all: Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Coach, Burberry, and she’d kill for the newest Louis Vuitton handbag... but it seems she’s not the only one. When someone’s passion for designer purses leads to murder, Haley goes shopping for a killer and to clear her name.
- Click here to read Advance Reader Comments for HANDBAGS AND HOMICIDE.

Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight
THE FIXER UPPER by Mary Kay Andrews
After her boss in a high-powered Washington public relations firm is caught in a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed and homeless. Out of options, she reluctantly accepts her father's offer to help refurbish Birdsong, the old family place he recently inherited in Guthrie, Georgia. All it will take, he tells her, is a little paint and some TLC to turn the fading Victorian mansion into a real-estate cash cow.
- Click here to read Advance Reader Comments for THE FIXER UPPER.

Debut Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
KILLING RED by Henry Perez
On death row, serial killer Kenneth Lee Grubb has six days to live and his last request is an interview with reporter Alex Chapa. What begins as a dream story soon turns into a nightmare for Alex. For amidst Grubb’s taunts and boasts lies the horrific claim that someone is carefully repeating his past crimes. When nine people suddenly turn up dead, Alex realizes Grubb is telling the truth. Now the copycat killer is ready to pay his ultimate tribute to his idol. He’s set his sights on Annie “Red” Sykes, the only survivor of his bloodlust fifteen years ago.
- Click here to read Advance Reader Comments for KILLING RED.

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