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Friday, August 7, 2009

August 7, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, August 7th.

The titles below are also mentioned in the Newsletter Opener, which can be read here:

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini
COLD MOUNTAIN by Charles Frazier
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
THE ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES: The Founding of Facebook - A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE: The Inside Stoery of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich
THE FILM CLUB by David Gilmour

Reviews and Excerpts
RULES OF VENGEANCE by Christopher Reich (Thriller)
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. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from RULES OF VENGEANCE.

NO MERCY by John Gilstrap (Thriller)
As a freelance specialist in covert rescues, Jonathan Grave 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 and is willing to capture, torture and kill anyone to get it. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.
- Click here to read an excerpt from NO MERCY.

THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC by Richard Russo (Fiction)
In novels like his Pulitzer Prize-winning EMPIRE FALLS and BRIDGE OF SIGHS, Richard Russo has established himself as the Charles Dickens of lower middle class life in the dying towns of upstate New York. His latest novel reaches back to the territory he visited in 1997’s STRAIGHT MAN, and the mixed results make us long for the depth of his more recent works. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC.

THE SIEGE by Stephen White (Thriller)
Stephen White --- author of 15 gripping New York Times bestsellers --- returns with a relentlessly propelled thriller featuring one of his most popular series characters --- Alan Gregory's buddy, Sam Purdy. In THE SIEGE, the Boulder detective is caught in the middle of a terrorist siege on the Yale campus. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE SIEGE.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper (Fiction)
The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family have been together in years. Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch's dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family. Reviewed by Alexis Burling.

THE LAST EMBER by Daniel Levin (Thriller)
Jonathan Marcus, a fallen-from-grace antiquities scholar practicing law in New York, is dispatched to Rome to examine a portion of an ancient stone map. During his examination, he discovers a hidden message inside the map and becomes entangled in a search for an ancient artifact of biblical significance. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

WHILE I’M FALLING by Laura Moriarty (Fiction)
The epigraph to WHILE I’M FALLING, taken from J. K. Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard University in 2008, perfectly sums up the theme of the novel: “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.” In Laura Moriarty’s third work of fiction, Rowling’s words come to life both literally and figuratively, as Veronica Von Holten feels her whole life --- not to mention a borrowed Mini Cooper --- veer out of control. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

CHERRY BOMB: A Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels Mystery by J. A. Konrath (Mystery)
This sixth book in the Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels series opens with the funeral of her loved one, who was killed at the end of FUZZY NAVEL. But unlike your normal, sedate funeral, Jack’s mourning is interrupted by a terrifying phone call from Alexandra Kork, the psychotic serial killer she had locked away in a previous case. Alex threatens to kill someone else close to Jack in 12 hours unless Jack can save him. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

In the tradition of the posthumous Robert Ludlum novels, Tilly Bagshawe, a successful author in her own right, has been charged with the Herculean task of continuing the epic Blackwell family saga from MASTER OF THE GAME in the voice of the late, legendary Sidney Sheldon. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

THE WINDS OF DUNE by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Science Fiction)
Paul is dead. Alia struggles to hold the Imperium together. Bronso of Ix continues to rail against the myth of Muad'Dib. In the midst of these life-altering events, a mother must decide whether to hold true to her son, stand united with her daughter, or allow a long secret truth to come forth, which could save or damn them all. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

SWORN TO SILENCE by Linda Castillo (Thriller)
Kate Burkholder, who grew up in the Amish community of Painters Mill, Ohio, before abandoning their way of life for the outside world and the study of law enforcement, has recently been appointed Chief of Police in her former hometown. When the serial killer whose spree 16 years before was dubbed The Slaughterhouse Murders returns with spectacular violence, Kate is determined to catch him. But she is also desperate to keep a secret from her past. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

PANIC ATTACK by Jason Starr (Thriller)
Dr. Adam Bloom has the perfect life. He is financially secure and lives in a luxurious house with his wife, Dana, and their 22-year-old daughter, Marissa, a recent college graduate. Late one night, his daughter wakes him up and says, “Somebody’s downstairs.” Adam uses his gun to kill one of the unarmed intruders, but the other escapes. From that moment on, everyone’s life in the Bloom household will never be the same. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

SWEET MARY by Liz Balmaseda (Fiction)
Dulce Maria "Mary" Guevara is a woman with nothing left to lose. Wrongly accused of being a cocaine queen, she has lost her job, her reputation, and --- worst of all --- custody of her son. Even after the charges are dropped, suspicion lingers. Desperate to get it all back, she takes what she considers the only path open to her: She goes on a hunt for the real drug queen. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

GONE TO THE DOGS by Mary Guterson (Fiction)
What kind of woman steals her ex-boyfriend's dog? In this case, a very funny one. Rena is on the downhill side of her 20s, discontentedly underemployed slinging steaks at Sammy's Place, when her fiance Brian goes off on a rafting trip and returns with a new tall, blond, athletic girlfriend. And now Brian, who never liked animals, shares a bungalow with his new love and Tilly, a dog "the size of a Volkswagen." Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol.

Author Interviews
Christopher Reich
RULES OF VENGEANCE is the second installment in Christopher Reich's series starring mountain-climbing, Doctors Without Borders surgeon Jonathan Ransom (following 2008’s RULES OF DECEPTION). In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Reich describes creating Ransom's character as an exercise in wishful thinking and names some of the authors who have influenced the mystery elements in this thriller. He also shares his thoughts on what he perceives to be the largest global crisis today, thinks back to what he might have done differently earlier in his writing career, and hints at what's in store for his hero in the next book, RULES OF ATTACK.

John Gilstrap
John Gilstrap's latest book, NO MERCY, is the first installment in a new series featuring Jonathan Grave, a freelance covert operative with a conscience. In this interview with's L. Dean Murphy, Gilstrap explains the inspiration behind his main character and gives insight into the way Grave’s less-than-perfect upbringing influences present-day choices. He also discusses his writing process, shares his thoughts on the average American's attitude toward the armed forces, and offers advice to aspiring writers.

Author Talks
Stephen White
In Stephen White's latest novel, THE SIEGE, Sam Purdy --- a secondary character in the bestselling Alan Gregory series --- takes center stage as he investigates the mysterious disappearance of a group of Yale students, including the children of two high-powered political figures. In this interview, White explains his motivation behind replacing the famed psychologist main character with his police detective best friend, and discusses the evolution and introduction of a new character, FBI Agent Christopher Poe. He also talks about why he chose to incorporate Yale's secret societies into the plot and elaborates on the book's complex story structure.

Daniel Levin
Daniel Levin's debut novel, THE LAST EMBER, is a religious-themed archaeological thriller that follows a young lawyer and antiquities expert as he uncovers a radical plot to rewrite history. In this interview conducted by New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry, Levin talks about what inspired the plot of this book and elaborates on the complex motivations behind his protagonist, Jonathan Marcus. He also discusses some of the fascinating discoveries he made while researching ancient Roman history and explains the current controversies in which many museums around the world are involved.

Beach Bag of Books
THE CONDITION by Jennifer Haigh (Fiction)
THE CONDITION tells the story of the McKotches, a proper New England family that comes apart during one fateful summer. Compassionate yet unflinchingly honest, witty and almost painfully astute, Jennifer Haigh’s novel explores the power of family mythologies --- the self-delusions, denials and inescapable truths that forever bind fathers and mothers and siblings.

DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS? Questions You’d Ask a Medium If You Had the Chance by Concetta Bertoldi (Occultism)
Concetta Bertoldi has been communicating with the "Other Side" since childhood. In her previous book, the bestselling DO DEAD PEOPLE WATCH YOU SHOWER?, she addressed questions about the afterlife that ranged from the poignant to the provocative. Now she returns with DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS?, a second volume of intriguing observations about our beloved deceased.

Everyone around Jennifer Johnson is getting married, while she's still single and stuck writing ad copy about men's dress socks. Launched on a humiliating and hilarious quest to find Prince Charming at any cost --- including agonizing online dates, diet-clinic cults, drag-queen fights, and a debilitating addiction to Cinnabon icing, JENNIFER JOHNSON is a cautionary tale about getting what you want --- and how that may be the worst thing to happen to you.

THE SEAMSTRESS by Frances de Pontes Peebles (Fiction)
As seamstresses, the orphaned sisters Emília and Luzia dos Santos know how to cut, how to mend and how to conceal. Emília dreams of falling in love and escaping to the city. Luzia also longs to escape their little town, where residents view her deformed arm with suspicion. But when Luzia is abducted by a group of vigilantes called cangaceiros, the sisters’ quiet lives diverge in ways they never imagined.

Books into Movies
This month's Books into Movies Feature includes:
Julie & Julia
Taking Woodstock
The Time Traveler’s Wife

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
VANISHED by Joseph Finder
Nick Heller is tough, smart, and stubborn. And in his line of work, it's essential. Nick is a high-powered intelligence investigator --- exposing secrets that powerful people would rather keep hidden.

When Nick’s brother disappears without a trace --- and Nick’s favorite nephew pleads for his help --- Nick’s search sets him on a collision course with one of the most powerful corporations in the world --- and they will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from VANISHED.

CORNERED by Brandon Massey
Corey’s living the American dream; he’s a happily married father and successful Atlanta businessman, until he runs into a friend he hasn't seen in over fifteen years, Leon Sharpe. Leon’s charismatic, fiercely intelligent... and a ruthless psychopath. Leon stirs up long-buried memories for Corey, and he’s certain Leon hasn't changed. But Leon’s in bigger trouble than Corey imagined: he's on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, and has been on the run from the law for the past three years.
- Click here to read an excerpt from CORNERED.

FEAR THE WORST by Linwood Barclay
Your daughter doesn’t come home from her summer job. You go there looking for her. No one’s seen here --- no one’s ever seen her. So where has she been going every day? And where is she now?

In Linwood Barclay’s riveting new thriller, an ordinary man’s desperate search for his daughter leads him into a dark world of corruption, exploitation and murder. Sometimes the people you think you know best are the ones harboring the biggest secrets.
- Click here to read a third excerpt from FEAR THE WORST.

DYING FOR MERCY by Mary Jane Clark
When death shatters the serenity of the exclusive moneyed enclave of Tuxedo Park, New York, Eliza Blake, cohost of the country's premier morning television show KEY to America, is on the scene. While attending a lavish gala at her friends' newly renovated estate, Pentimento, Eliza's host is found dead --- a grotesque suicide that is the first act in a macabre and intricately conceived plan to expose the sins of the past involving some of the town's most revered citizens.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from DYING FOR MERCY.

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 Henry Perez’s Answers to Reader Questions.

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 Advance Reader Comments for THE DEVIL’S QUEEN.

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