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Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, November 20th.

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

THE FIRST TYCOON: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T. J. Stiles
CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
WOODSBURNER by John Pipkin
DEXTER BY DESIGN by Jeff Lindsey
HOME SAFE by Elizabeth Berg
THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN by Jacqueline Mitchard
NO TIME TO WAVE GOODBYE by Jacqueline Mitchard
LIT by Mary Karr
LARK AND TERMITE by Jayne Anne Phillips

Reviews and Interviews
I, ALEX CROSS by James Patterson
Detective Alex Cross is pulled out of a family celebration and given the awful news that a beloved relative has been found brutally murdered. The hunt for her murderer leads Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, to a place where every fantasy is possible if you have the credentials to get in. Alex and Bree are soon facing down some very important, very protected, very dangerous people in levels of society where only one thing is certain --- they will do anything to keep their secrets safe. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from I. ALEX CROSS.

THE WRECKER by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott
(Historical Thriller)
It is 1907, a year of financial panic and labor unrest. Train wrecks, fires and explosions sabotage the Southern Pacific Railroad's Cascades express line, and the railroad hires the fabled Van Dorn Detective Agency. Van Dorn sends in his best man, and Detective Isaac Bell quickly discovers that a mysterious saboteur haunts the hobo jungles of the West, a man known as the Wrecker, who recruits accomplices from the down-and-out to attack the railroad, and then kills them afterward.Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY by Lauren Grodstein (Fiction)
Pete Dizinoff is an internist enjoying a comfortable life in Round Hill, New Jersey, with his devoted wife, Elaine, and their cherished 20-year-old son, Eric. When the 30-year-old daughter of a good friend of the family returns home and shows an unhealthy interest in Eric, Pete will do anything to protect his son. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.
- Click here to read Lauren Grodstein’s blog post, “First Impressions.”

NEW YORK by Edward Rutherfurd (Historical Fiction)
Edward Rutherfurd celebrates America's greatest city in a rich, engrossing saga that showcases his extraordinary ability to combine impeccable historical research and storytelling flair. As in his earlier, bestselling novels, he illuminates cultural, social and political upheavals through the lives of a remarkably diverse set of families. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

THERE GOES THE BRIDE: An Agatha Raisin Mystery, by M. C. Beaton (Mystery)
Detective Agatha Raisin's ex-husband, James Lacey, is getting married --- and she's invited. While she'd rather sit this one out, she knows that staying home will look like sour grapes, so she puts on a happy face and attends. Unfortunately, before the couple can make it down the aisle, the bride is murdered and James and Agatha are prime suspects. Will Agatha be able to clear their names, or has she finally taken on a case she cannot solve? Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

THE GIFT by Cecelia Ahern (Fiction)
In this intriguing holiday story served up with a zesty side dish of magical surrealism, ambitious businessman Lou Suffern has lost sight of what is truly important in life. But the day he offers a homeless man a cup of coffee alters his future in unforeseen and seemingly impossible ways. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

GENERATION A by Douglas Coupland (Fiction)
A sequel of sorts to the hit GENERATION X, GENERATION A is a witty and sobering satire of our decade’s paradoxical relationship with communication and connectedness in a digital environment. Though uneven and more than a bit simplistic, Coupland’s earnestness and urgency take him far. Reviewed by Max Falkowitz.

BEG, BORROW, STEAL: A Writer’s Life, by Michael Greenberg (Memoir)
Michael Greenberg regales us with his wry and vivid take on the life of a writer of little means trying to practice his craft or simply stay alive. He finds himself doctoring doomed movie scripts; selling cosmetics from an ironing board in front of a women's department store; writing about golf, a game he has never played; and botching his debut as a waiter in a posh restaurant. Reviewed by Jana Sicilano.

COWBOYS FULL: The Story of Poker, by James McManus (History)
James McManus chronicled the game of poker for newspapers and magazines for many years. In 2000, he entered the World Series of Poker and finished fifth. Recognizing that poker is a central part of American history in war and peace, McManus decided that a comprehensive history of the game was important. The result is COWBOYS FULL, an encyclopedia of the game that every poker player will enjoy. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

THE NIGHT MONSTER by James Swain (Thriller)
The past has come back to haunt P.I. Jack Carpenter, former head of the Broward County Missing Persons Unit. As a young cop, he failed to stop the kidnapping of a college coed by a shockingly large assailant --- and neither of them was ever seen again. The abduction has remained Carpenter’s most chilling cold case, and even now the mystery of the missing girl lurks in his darkest dreams. But after 18 years, it’s about to become terrifying reality once more. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

JOHN DIES AT THE END by David Wong (Horror)
It’s a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly, a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Author Interviews
Julian Fellowes
PAST IMPERFECT opens with its anonymous narrator, a member of the minor aristocracy, being contacted by Damian Baxter, an ex-friend from Cambridge whom he hasn’t seen in decades. Thus begins a journey that contrasts the naïve debutantes and would-be debonair beaux of the London Season of 1968 with their surprisingly altered (or not) selves 40 years later.

Reached by phone in Chicago on Halloween morning, Julian Fellowes observed to freelance writer Bella Stander that “Lake Michigan is like an enchanted sea around a fairy castle.” Later that day, From Time to Time, which he produced, directed and wrote, was screened at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. Starring Maggie Smith, the picture went on to win the Best of Fest Award and two other prizes.

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).

This week, we’re spotlighting a collection of holiday tales from Kensington Books: CHRISTMAS AT SEA PINES COTTAGE by Sally Smith O'Rourke; KISSING SANTA CLAUS by Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon; SANTA IN A STETSON by Janet Dailey; SNOW ANGELS by Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Janna McMahan and Rosalind Noonan; A WEE CHRISTMAS HOMICIDE: A Liss MacCrimmon Mystery by Kaitlyn Dunnett; and YULE BE MINE by Lori Foster.

CHRISTMAS AT SEA PINES COTTAGE by Sally Smith O'Rourke (Romance)
From the author of THE MAN WHO LOVED JANE AUSTEN and THE MAIDENSTONE LIGHTHOUSE comes a heartwarming, unforgettable novel set on the ruggedly beautiful island of Cape Fear in the Carolinas, where a man determined to retreat from the world discovers the redemptive power of unexpected love. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

KISSING SANTA CLAUS by Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon (Romance Anthology)
USA Today bestselling author Donna Kauffman headlines this Christmas anthology --- with two sizzling contemporary authors: USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon --- as three hot humbugs find holiday magic where they least expect it.

SANTA IN A STETSON by Janet Dailey (Romance)
Though Diana Palmer left the bright lights of the big city behind for New Mexico, she misses the excitement now that Christmas is coming. But she’s about to find out that the joys of the season are just as big in the Land of Enchantment…and just as romantic.

A WEE CHRISTMAS HOMICIDE: A Liss MacCrimmon Mystery, by Kaitlyn Dunnett (Mystery)
Kaitlyn Dunnett’s third Liss MacCrimmon mystery has the part-time sleuth tracking another killer --- after the season’s hottest toy leads to murder --- and coping with not one, but two attentive males.

YULE BE MINE by Lori Foster (Romance/Short Stories)
Sparkling days, crackling fires, long steamy nights…Christmas is all about making memories. In four delicious tales of seduction and romance, New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster brings you all the pleasures of the season…and then some.


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…
31 HOURS by Masha Hamilton
In 31 HOURS, Masha Hamilton delivers a novel that is powerful and profound. It’s the story of a young American man who has joined a group of terrorists plotting to blow up parts of the subway system in New York. How did Jonas come to this mission? His story is told not only with his thoughts as he prepares for his role, but also by his family and friends who worry about him, each reaching out to him or wondering about him a tad too late. As the story builds, readers will feel the tension ratchet up as each person’s story builds upon the other. The conclusion will leave you thinking about it for a very long time.

As a journalist, Masha brings that sensibility to her fiction writing. She also has spent time in Afghanistan and thus brings knowledge of the atmosphere in the Middle East to infuse it as well. I echo our reviewer Joe Hartlaub’s comments when he says, “A thriller in every sense of the word, it is also a work of literary fiction, a cautionary tale for the times taking place somewhere at this moment and for the foreseeable future.” It’s just an excellent book, and one I do not want you to miss.
- Click here to read our interview with Masha Hamilton on the Blog.

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
WATCHLIST: A Serial Thriller by Jeffery Deaver and Others (Thriller)
From International Thriller Writers comes WATCHLIST: two powerful novellas featuring the same thrilling cast of characters in one major suspenseful package. THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT and THE COPPER BRACELET are collaborations of some of the world’s greatest thriller writers, including Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline, and Jeffery Deaver, who conceived the characters and set the plots in motion. The other authors each wrote a chapter and Deaver then completed what he started, bringing both novellas to their startling conclusions.

Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight
THE PIANO TEACHER by Janice Y.K. Lee (Fiction)
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 the full newsletter.

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