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Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, September 11th. Blog
The titles below were featured in Carol Fitzgerald's latest blog on Summer Vacation reading:
SMASH CUT by Sandra Brown
31 HOURS by Masha Hamilton
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Steig Larsson and Reg Keeland
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larsson and Reg Keeland
THE GAME-ON! DIET by Krista Vernoff and Az Ferguson
THE LAST SONG by Nicholas Sparks
A WALK TO REMEMBER by Nicholas Sparks
RAINWATER by Sandra Brown
The Betsy-Tacy series
by Maud Hart Lovelace and Lois Lenski
STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens
EVIL AT HEART by Chelsea Cain

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

CAT’S CRADLE by Kurt Vonnegut
THE SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso
THE HUNGRY OCEAN by Linda Greenlaw
TRUE COMPASS by Edward Kennedy

Reviews and Excerpts
UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY by Shandi Mitchell (Fiction)
Building to an unforgettable climax, this is the story of a 1930s immigrant family trying to survive the harsh Canadian prairies, where small and innocent acts have enormous and catastrophic consequences. From a passionate new voice in the world of literary fiction, UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY is a tribute to the resiliency of the human spirit told with great sensitivity and cinematic aplomb. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY.

THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES: My Life as an Experiment, by A.J. Jacobs (Humor)
For his first book, THE KNOW-IT-ALL, A.J. Jacobs read the entire Encyclopædia Britannica from cover to cover in a quest to learn everything in the world. In THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY, he followed every single rule of the Bible. Now comes a collection of his most hilarious and thought-provoking experiments yet. In his role as human guinea pig, Jacobs fearlessly takes on a series of life-altering challenges that provides readers with equal parts insight and humor. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES

EVIL AT HEART by Chelsea Cain (Thriller)
Serial killer Gretchen Lowell is on the loose and Archie is hospitalized after his ploy to catch her went spectacularly wrong. They've entered a detente of sorts --- Archie agrees not to kill himself if she agrees not to kill anyone else. But suddenly there's something else to contend with --- a copycat, killing people as an homage to the Beauty Killer herself. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from EVIL AT HEART.

THE PROMISED WORLD by Lisa Tucker (Fiction)
Lisa Tucker, the bestselling author of THE CURE FOR MODERN LIFE and ONCE UPON A DAY, has penned a riveting story of suspense about a literature professor whose carefully constructed life is shattered after the death of her twin brother and the unraveling of the secret world they shared. Reviewed by Norah Piehl and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE PROMISED WORLD.

HEAVEN’S KEEP by William Kent Krueger (Mystery)
When a charter plane carrying Cork O'Connor's wife, Jo, goes missing in a snowstorm over the Wyoming Rockies, Cork must accept the terrible truth that his wife is gone forever. But is she? In HEAVEN’S KEEP, celebrated author William Kent Krueger puts his intrepid hero through the most harrowing mission of his life. Reviewed by Roz Shea and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from HEAVEN’S KEEP.

THE LAST SONG by Nicholas Sparks (Fiction)
At first, 17-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller is angry when her mother forces her to spend time with her father in his North Carolina beach bungalow. But as the summer wears on, she discovers nuances and truths in both romantic and family love. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

THE WHITE QUEEN by Philippa Gregory (Historical Fiction)
Here’s a shocker: There’s a queen on board in Philippa Gregory’s new book, but she isn’t married to, divorced from, or beheaded by Henry VIII. The novel takes place during the 15th-century Wars of the Roses and features one of Gregory’s signature heroines: strong, drop-dead gorgeous, inclined toward spells and curses, and shockingly good at plotting. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

A GATE AT THE STAIRS by Lorrie Moore (Fiction)
Pulsing with intelligence and lacerating humor and showcasing Lorrie Moore’s uncanny ability to capture the free-floating anxiety that undoubtedly qualifies as the psychic disorder of our age, A GATE AT THE STAIRS is a tightly focused snapshot of our unsettled world. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

THE SPIRE by Richard North Patterson (Mystery/Psychological Suspense)
Richard North Patterson’s latest effort is a razor-sharp thriller and murder mystery combined with an undercurrent of budding romance amongst complex characters and situations. Former Caldwell College football hero Mark Darrow returns after a few decades to take over the role of college president and finds himself in the midst of an embezzlement scandal and a decades-old murder mystery that hits close to home. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

31 HOURS by Masha Hamilton (Thriller)
Jonas Meitzner is isolated in a safe-house apartment near the Brooklyn Bridge and on a devastatingly confused path toward violence. His parents and his girlfriend have just 31 hours to reach him. Jonas’s absence from the lives of those who love him causes a cascade of events, and as the novel moves through the streets and subways of New York we come to know intimately the lives of its characters. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE AMATEURS by Marcus Sakey (Thriller)
In just three novels, Marcus Sakey has staked a claim as "an astoundingly good writer" (San Jose Mercury News), one whose believable characters --- always ordinary people --- face excruciating situations with life-or-death consequences. THE AMATEURS asks a chilling question: Do you get what you deserve, or what you take? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE SILENT HOUR: A Lincoln Perry Mystery, by Michael Koryta (Mystery)
Fresh off the critical acclaim of his Los Angeles Times Book Prize-nominated ENVY THE NIGHT, Michael Koryta returns with a blistering new installment in the Lincoln Perry series. Once again he has crafted an intricate, lightning-paced thriller, ratcheting up the tension as he explores just how dangerous the offer of a second chance can be. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

L.A. NOIR: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City, by John Buntin (History)
The history of 20th-century Los Angeles is told here through the duel biographies of LAPD Chief William Parker and mobster Mickey Cohen. This is the story we have only glimpsed through movies, television shows and crime novels over the years. It is also a sobering account of America’s racial divide. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

GIRL IN A BLUE DRESS: A Novel Inspired by the Life and Marriage of Charles Dickens, by Gaynor Arnold (Fiction)
First-time novelist Gaynor Arnold brilliantly reimagines the life and times of Charles Dickens in GIRL IN A BLUE DRESS, a novel whose well-crafted protagonist may ensure that readers never read Dickens quite the same way again. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Author Interviews
A. J. Jacobs
Always in search of a new challenge, A.J. Jacobs --- author of the New York Times bestsellers THE KNOW-IT-ALL and THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY --- looked to "understand the mysteries of modern life" in his newest work of nonfiction, THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES. In this interview with's Ron Kaplan, Jacobs talks about what inspired this latest endeavor and explains how such activities as posing in the nude, pretending to be a celebrity while crashing the Academy Awards, practicing radical honesty and outsourcing his everyday tasks to a team in India changed his outlook on life. He also likens his experiences of returning to his normal self to cult deprogramming, gives insight into how his wife deals with his extreme behavior, and shares details about his next project, a quest to become the healthiest person alive.

Shandi Mitchell
Shandi Mitchell's debut novel, UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY, is the result of a project decades in the making, inspired by a tragic event in her family's history. In this interview with's Bronwyn Miller, Mitchell --- an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter --- discusses the book's origins as a screenplay and explains how it eventually evolved into a work of prose. She also sheds light on some of the complexities of her characters, describes how her childhood surroundings in the Canadian prairies have impacted her both personally and professionally, and muses on how her story might continue after the book concludes.

Author Talk
Philippa Gregory
Having made a name for herself writing historical fiction about strong and often misrepresented women, Philippa Gregory turns her attention to Elizabeth Woodville in her latest novel, THE WHITE QUEEN. In this interview, Gregory explains what initially drew her to the enigmatic wife of King Edward IV and why she chose to focus her work on a royal family already heavily documented in military history. She also discusses her own forays into studying the various battles of the period, speculates on the mysterious fates of Elizabeth's two sons who were locked in the Tower of London, and shares what readers can look forward to in future installments of the series.

New in Paperback
September’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes THE ASSOCIATE, a page-turning legal thriller from John Grisham about a young lawyer who faces extortion, murder and industrial espionage; JUST AFTER SUNSET, Stephen King’s first short story collection since EVERYTHING’S EVENTUAL, containing 13 gripping tales; THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE, David Wroblewski’s extraordinary debut about a boy who finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil; THE GIVEN DAY, Dennis Lehane's long-awaited eighth novel, which captures the political and social unrest of a nation caught at the crossroads between past and future at the end of the First World War; AN OUTRAGEOUS AFFAIR by Penny Vincenzi, an absorbing tale of Hollywood scandal, English aristocracy and (of course) some outrageous affairs; and HURRY DOWN SUNSHINE, Michael Greenberg’s powerful memoir in which he retells his teenage daughter’s first psychotic break and its immediate aftermath.

Books into Movies
This month’s Books into Movies Feature includes:
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
The Informant!
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
Coco Before Chanel

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
13 1⁄2 by Nevada Barr
With 13 1/2, Nevada Barr, New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Anna Pigeon novels, has written a taut and terrifying psychological thriller. It carries the reader from the horrifying 1970s murder spree of a child --- dubbed “Butcher Boy” by a shocked public --- in Rochester, Minnesota, to Polly, the abused daughter of Mississippi “trailer trash,” to post-Katrina New Orleans. Bestselling Jeffery Deaver raves that 13 1⁄2 "is a hands-down winner!”
- Click here to read an excerpt from 13 1/2.

Growing up in rural Georgia during the 1940s, Joseph Vaughan finds himself at the center of series of mutilations and killings of young girls. Just a teenager, Joseph becomes determined to protect his community from the killer, but is powerless to prevent more murders --- and no one is ever caught. Ten years later one of his neighbors is found hanging from a rope, surrounded by articles from the dead girls; the killings cease, and the nightmare appears to be over. Desperate and plagued everything he has witnessed, Joseph sets out forge a new life in New York. But even there the past won't leave him alone --- for it seems that the murderer still lives and is killing again, and that the secret to his identity lies in Joseph's own history.
- Click here to read an excerpt from A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.

HOSTILE INTENT by Michael Walsh
It starts with the unthinkable --- the most horrific act of violence ever committed on American soil --- and only one man can stop them.
- Click here to read an excerpt from HOSTILE INTENT.

CRUSH by Alan Jacobson
Fresh off the most challenging case of her career, THE 7th VICTIM heroine and renowned FBI profiler Karen Vail returns in an explosive thriller set against the backdrop of California’s wine country. Meticulously researched during years of work with the FBI profiling unit and extensive interviews with wine industry professionals, bestselling author Alan Jacobson delivers a high-velocity thriller featuring the kind of edge of-your-seat ending that inspired Nelson DeMille to call him “a hell of a writer.”
- Click here to read a second excerpt from CRUSH.

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 Advanced Reader Comments on 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 Advance Reader Comments on CORNERED.

Romantic Suspense Author Spotlight
SILENT KILLER by Beverly Barton
To most people, men like Mark Cantrell are fine, upstanding pillars of the community, completely beyond reproach…but their killer knows better. They are sinners of the worst kind, and they must burn on earth before they burn in hell.
- Click here to read the second excerpt from SILENT KILLER.

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