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Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, November 13th.

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


Reviews and Excerpts
UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King
(Supernatural Horror)
The undisputed master of horror releases an epic story of what happens when an entire town is sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. How long does it take before anarchy and rampant crime are the norm? You may be surprised. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

THE GATHERING STORM: Book Twelve of The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy)
The final volume of The Wheel of Time, A MEMORY OF LIGHT, was partially written by Robert Jordan before his untimely passing in 2007. Brandon Sanderson was chosen by Jordan’s editor ––– his wife, Harriet McDougal ––– to complete the last book. In this epic novel, Jordan’s international bestselling series begins its dramatic conclusion. Reviewed by Steve Hubbard.

HALF BROKE HORSES: A True-Life Novel, by Jeannette Walls
(Autobiographical Fiction)
"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, in Jeannette Walls's magnificent, true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hardworking and spectacularly compelling grandmother. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

HIGHEST DUTY: My Search for What Really Matters, by Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, with Jeffrey Zaslow (Autobiography)
Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger built his first model airplane at age six. By then he knew, as surely as any young boy could know, that he would grow up to become a pilot. This is the autobiography of a middle-aged, formerly anonymous man who catapulted to instant celebrity and hero status when he safely landed an Airbus A320 with 155 passengers aboard in the Hudson River. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

BREAKING THE RULES by Barbara Taylor Bradford (Romance)
Following a terrifying encounter in the quiet English countryside, a young woman flees to New York in search of a new life. Adopting the initial M as her name, and reinventing herself, she embarks on a journey that will lead her to the catwalks of Paris and an instant attraction to a charming and handsome actor. Reviewed by Hillary Wagy.

THE MONSTER IN THE BOX: An Inspector Wexford Novel, by Ruth Rendell (Mystery)
Creepy yet subtle, the work of award-winning suspense writer Ruth Rendell is as much about the mind as the crime. Her latest book juxtaposes old and new, memory and modern life, as Inspector Wexford pursues a killer amid the twists and turns of his own personal history. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

TOWER by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman
Born into a rough Brooklyn neighborhood and outsiders in their own families, Nick and Todd forge a lifelong bond that persists in the face of crushing loss, blood and betrayal. Low-level wiseguys with little ambition and even less of a future, the friends become major players in the potential destruction of an international crime syndicate that stretches from the cargo area at Kennedy Airport to the streets of New York, Belfast and Boston to the alleyways of Mexican border towns. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

MY PAPER CHASE: True Stories of Vanished Times, by Harold Evans (Memoir)
It’s probably unfair to say that Harold Evans has led a charmed life, but there’s ample support for that conclusion in this spirited memoir of his lengthy career in newspapers and publishing. The story of Evans’s rise from a firmly working class background in Manchester to the heights of British journalism is a briskly told tale of hard work, some luck and an unflagging commitment to the highest standards of the profession he seemed destined to pursue. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

YOURS EVER: People and Their Letters, by Thomas Mallon
(Social Commentary)
The ancient art of letter writing may (or may not) have been killed by the telephone, fax, email and instant messaging, but it has a long and wonderfully rich history. Literary historian Thomas Mallon samples that history and makes shrewd comments on it in this tasty book. He is not quite ready to pronounce the genre dead, preferring to find it simply changing outward shape while remaining a mirror into the souls of those who practiced it. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

THE FLEET STREET MURDERS by Charles Finch (Mystery)
The third book in the Charles Lenox mystery series finds the amateur sleuth running for a seat in Parliament and attempting to solve the murder of two prominent journalists. Clues lead him to implicate a well-known member of high society, but will he be able to convince Scotland Yard of his theory? Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

ABIGAIL ADAMS by Woody Holton
In this vivid new biography of Abigail Adams, the most illustrious woman of America's founding era, prize-winning historian Woody Holton offers a sweeping reinterpretation of Adams's life story and of women's roles in the creation of the republic. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

Author Talk

Mary Karr

In this interview with founder Jesse Kornbluth, poet and memoirist Mary Karr --- author of THE LIAR'S CLUB and CHERRY --- discusses her latest book, LIT, and the struggles with alcoholism and addiction that are at the center of this memoir. She dissects her conflicting attitudes toward religion and eventual spiritual reawakening, and explains how her late-life conversion to Catholicism has changed both her writing as well as her personal life.

The holiday season is upon us! At, this means it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with you with our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest. While you are searching for the perfect gifts, 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 13th through January 4th, 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 a copy of the featured book(s).

We’re kicking off our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature with LAKESHORE CHRISTMAS by Susan Wiggs, a heartwarming holiday tale of two people looking beyond the disappointments of the past to the promise of the future.

LAKESHORE CHRISTMAS by Susan Wiggs (Romance)
Librarian Maureen Davenport is in a mess. She has a Christmas pageant to produce, a library to save, and a sexy, wayward musician on her hands. Can the uber-organized librarian accomplish her goals and still retain control over her heart and her sanity, or will she throw caution to the wind and rely on a Christmas miracle to save her? Reviewed by Amie Taylor.


Need ideas for holiday gift-giving (and getting)? Check out these "reader perfect" suggestions in 13 categories. There's something for everyone on your list. Let the shopping begin! Bets On…
RAINWATER by Sandra Brown
On the last day of my vacation in September, I sat by the pool and read an advance copy of RAINWATER by Sandra Brown, her first historical novel. Set during the Great Depression in Gilead, Texas, it’s a beautifully and tightly written story of love and hope in a world torn with economic and racial strife. Sandra firmly plants the reader in this world, where farms are barren wastelands in the Dust Bowl and the only help for farmers is FDR’s Drought Relief Program --- which comes at quite a cost.

Readers are at the table in Ella Barton’s boardinghouse as she cares for her disabled son and copes with the short hand in life that she has been dealt. She sees her world for what it is; there is no longing for something else. But when Mr. David Rainwater comes into the house as a boarder, Ella’s life goes from gray and brown to sparkles of color. As she begins to feel love and caring, the reader sees what has been suppressed inside Ella, and it’s a metaphor for what’s happening in the country at that time. Sandra writes emotion well here. It’s not cloying or forced; it just rolls with an ease. Courage, inner-core moral values and the rally to do what is right infuse the love story that runs through the prose. Our reviewer likened it to THE GRAPES OF WRATH, which is an apt comparison.

Since I closed RAINWATER, I have thought about it again and again as it was a really satisfying read. It’s short, it’s tight with no spare words, and it feels like the kind of story you would have heard shared over the table from someone who knew those days --- a real telling of an oral history without hype or rhetoric. Thus, it’s a “Bets On” for me, even though Sandra already is a household name. I just don’t want you to miss it.
- Click here to read an excerpt from RAINWATER.
- Click here to read our interview with Sandra Brown.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for RAINWATER.

Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight

Set in Hong Kong during the outbreak of World War II, and its aftermath ten years later, THE PIANO TEACHER alternates between the lives of two vastly different women whose destinies are linked by the events of the war.
- Click here to read Janice Y.K. Lee’s bio.
- Click here to read a review of THE PIANO TEACHER.
- Click here to read more about THE PIANO TEACHER.

Debut Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
MANIA by Craig Larsen


Seattle newspaper photographer Nick Wilder has gained a reputation capturing gruesome homicide scenes on film. His latest assignment: Tracking an unpredictable, deranged serial killer terrorizing the dark, wet streets of Seattle. But when the Street Butcher claims Nick’s brother as his latest casualty, Nick suddenly finds himself on the other side of the hunt...


Determined to avenge his brother’s murder, Nick stumbles into a dizzying labyrinth of deceit and danger. The deeper he digs, the more the trail circles back to him --- and to the secrets locked in his disturbing past. As Nick zeroes in on the killer, the more he must risk to unmask the depraved psychopath haunting his every move. As the motives heighten and the suspects narrow, the cold, stark Seattle winter turns ever chillier...
- Click here to view reader comments about MANIA.

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