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Friday, November 6, 2009

November 6, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, November 6th. Blog
The titles, authors and noteworthy items below were featured in Carol Fitzgerald’s latest Facebook Roundup Blog:

The You series by Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz
THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
YOU BETTER NOT CRY: Stories for Christmas by Augusten Burroughs
INVICTUS by John Carlin
PUSH by Sapphire

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

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
ONE AMAZING THING by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Reviews and Excerpts
RAINWATER by Sandra Brown (Historical Fiction)
From acclaimed bestselling author Sandra Brown comes a powerfully moving novel celebrating the gifts, generosity and foresight of a great bygone generation. Centered on an independent woman who runs a Texas boarding house during the Dust Bowl and a mysterious boarder, RAINWATER tells a story that bears witness to a bittersweet truth: that love is worth whatever price one must pay for it. Reviewed by Melanie Smith and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from RAINWATER.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for RAINWATER.

PLUM PUDDING MURDER by Joanne Fluke (Mystery)
New York Times bestselling author Joanne Fluke serves up a deliciously deadly holiday treat with her new Hannah Swensen mystery. PLUM PUDDING MURDER includes 12 original dessert recipes, including recipes for a complete Christmas dinner. Reviewed by Amie Taylor and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from PLUM PUDDING MURDER.

MANIA by Craig Larsen (Psychological Thriller)
Newspaper photographer Nick Wilder has been tracking a deranged killer through the dark streets of Seattle. But when the Street Butcher claims Nick's brother as his latest victim, Nick's world is turned upside down. As he zeroes in on the killer, Nick finds himself led in a dizzying circle back to himself. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from MANIA.

FORD COUNTY: Stories, by John Grisham (Fiction/Short Stories)
In his first collection of short stories, John Grisham takes us back to Ford County, Mississippi, the setting of his first novel, A TIME TO KILL. Featuring a cast of characters you'll never forget, these often hilarious, frequently moving and always entertaining stories bring Ford County to vivid and colorful life. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from FORD COUNTY.

KINDRED IN DEATH by J. D. Robb (Thriller)
Lieutenant Eve Dallas is investigating the brutal murder of the 16-year-old daughter of the newly promoted captain of the NYPSD. When the evidence starts to pile up, Dallas and her team think they are about to arrest their perpetrator. But little do they know yet that someone has gone to great lengths to tease and taunt them by using a variety of identities. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from KINDRED IN DEATH.

KNIT THE SEASON: A Friday Night Knitting Club Novel, by Kate Jacobs (Fiction)
Kate Jacobs’s latest novel begins a year after the end of KNIT TWO, with Dakota Walker's trip to spend the Christmas holidays with her Gran in Scotland --- accompanied by her father, her grandparents, and her mother's best friend, Catherine. Together, they share a trove of happy memories about Christmases past with Dakota's mom, Georgia Walker --- from Georgia's childhood to her blissful time as a doting new mom. Reviewed by Norah Piehl and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from KNIT THE SEASON.

THE LACUNA by Barbara Kingsolver (Fiction)
In her first novel since 2000, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR and J. Edgar Hoover. This sweeping, well-researched book about history, authorship and national and personal identity was well worth the wait. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE HUMBLING by Philip Roth (Fiction)
Simon Axler, one of the leading American stage actors of his generation, has lost his magic, his talent and his assurance. Into this shattering account of inexplicable and terrifying self-evacuation bursts a counterplot of unusual erotic desire, a consolation for a bereft life so risky and aberrant that it points not toward comfort and gratification but to a yet darker and more shocking end. Reviewed by Max Falkowitz.

SUPERFREAKONOMICS: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (Economics/Popular Culture)

Following up on their entertaining and thought-provoking book on economics for non-economists, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner repeat their successful formula with SUPERFREAKONOMICS. The theme throughout both titles is that people are more likely to follow a lifestyle or activity if there’s a positive “what’s in it for me” outcome. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

WHERE MEN WIN GLORY: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, by Jon Krakauer (Biography)
In May 2002, Pat Tillman walked away from a $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist in the United States Special Operations Forces. Two years later, he died on a desolate hill in eastern Afghanistan. Only after the truth eventually began to leak out did the Army grudgingly notify his closest relatives that he “probably” had been killed by friendly fire. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

THE TIME OF MY LIFE by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi (Memoir)
Depending on your perspective, THE TIME OF MY LIFE will read like a biography or a swashbuckling adventure story. We all know Patrick Swayze as a dancer and an actor, but few realize that he was a horseman, pilot and daredevil. In this memoir, his life story is presented with somber pathos juxtaposed with a sense of humor that was true to Swayze himself. Reviewed by Marge Fletcher.

AYN RAND AND THE WORLD SHE MADE by Anne C. Heller (Biography)
Anne C. Heller traces the controversial author’s life from her childhood in Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution to her years as a screenwriter in Hollywood, the publication of her blockbuster novels, and the rise and fall of the cult that formed around her in the 1950s and 1960s. Throughout, Heller reveals previously unknown facts about Ayn Rand’s history and looks at her with new research and a fresh perspective. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

PILGRIMS: A Wobegon Romance, by Garrison Keillor (Fiction)
PILGRIMS has much in common with everything else that flows from Garrison Keillor’s seemingly inexhaustible and irresistible Midwestern imagination. But this time, in a spirit of reckless literary abandon, he transplants 12 unlikely Wobegonians --- including his semi-fictional self --- to the original hotbed of classical culture: Rome. Reviewed by Pauline Finch.

DAY AFTER NIGHT by Anita Diamant (Fiction)
Anita Diamant’s latest novel is based on an actual event that took place in October 1945, following the end of World War II. Four brave young women --- Holocaust survivors --- are freed along with thousands of others, only to find themselves again behind rolls of razor wire. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

RESURRECTING MIDNIGHT by Eric Jerome Dickey (Thriller)
After nearly losing his life in Antigua during a mission that went terribly wrong, international assassin Gideon trusts no one. But when a former lover and grifter, Arizona, resurfaces in need of his skills, she reminds him he was indebted to a man who had once saved his life: the son of the legendary con man Scamz. Gideon is forced to take on an assignment that will lead him to Argentina in pursuit of a briefcase containing one part of a larger puzzle. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE BIG MACHINE by Victor LaValle (Fiction)
A traumatized suicide cult survivor is summoned to the frozen woods of Vermont, where he is inducted into a band of paranormal investigators comprised of former addicts and petty criminals, all of whom had at some point in their wasted lives heard The Voice, a mysterious murmur on the wind, a disembodied shout, or a whisper in an empty room that may or may not be from God. Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol.

Author Interviews
Sandra Brown
Bestselling author Sandra Brown has written over 70 fiction, thriller and romance novels, including FAT TUESDAY, THE ALIBI, RICOCHET, SMOKE SCREEN and the newly released work of historical fiction, RAINWATER. In this interview with's Melanie Smith, Brown describes the real-life event from her family's past that inspired this Depression-era story, and sheds light on some of the social history of that period. She also discusses her research on autism in order to accurately portray this highly misunderstood illness, reveals how she motivates herself to keep writing fresh, authentic and captivating books, and shares details about her next publication, TOUGH CUSTOMER.

Joanne Fluke
Joanne Fluke's 12th novel, PLUM PUDDING MURDER, finds baker-turned-amateur detective Hannah Swensen in the middle of yet another murder mystery, this time amidst the chaos of the holiday season. In this interview with's Amie Taylor, Fluke reveals the inspiration behind her appealing protagonist and secondary characters (both human and feline), and reflects on the direction of Hannah's unpredictable love life throughout the course of the series. She also explains how --- after writing a dozen novels --- she manages to keep track of character and plot details, discusses her upbringing in Minnesota and how she's adjusting to her current life on the west coast, and talks about her next release, APPLE TURNOVER MURDER.

Craig Larsen
Craig Larsen's debut novel, MANIA, is a suspense thriller that follows a troubled newspaper photographer who must face his own demons as he tracks the serial killer responsible for his brother's death. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Larsen explains the concept that prompted him to write this novel and elaborates on some of the psychological elements that infuse the story. He also discusses the complex sibling relationship central to the main character's struggles, describes how aspects of the plot were written to challenge readers' fundamental ideas of right and wrong, and shares advice for aspiring writers.

New and Notable in Paperback
November’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes Linda Fairstein’s LETHAL LEGACY, an Alexandra Cooper novel that takes readers on a breathtaking ride through the valuable first editions, lost atlases and secret rooms and tunnels of the New York Public Library; THE GATE HOUSE by Nelson DeMille, a continuation of John and Susan Sutter’s story 10 years after Susan killed her Mafia lover on the famed Gold Coast of Long Island; Steve Berry’s THE CHARLEMAGNE PURSUIT, in which Cotton Malone searches for the truth behind his father's mysterious death while also stumbling upon cryptic diaries found in the tomb of the legendary ruler of the Holy Roman Empire; KNIT TWO, a sequel to the book club favorite THE FRIDAY NIGHT KNITTING CLUB by Kate Jacobs; BETWEEN HERE AND APRIL, Deborah Copaken Kogan’s exploration of the battles women and mothers secretly --- and sometimes tragically --- wage with themselves; and HOT, FLAT, AND CROWDED 2.0, Thomas L. Friedman’s information-packed treatise on the perilous state of the environment, how we got here and how we must proceed if we are to avoid catastrophe.

Books into Movies
The films in this month’s Books Into Movies feature include:

The Box
Disney’s A Christmas Carol
The Men Who Stare at Goats
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Blind Side
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Me and Orson Welles
The Road
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

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