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Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, January 15th.

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

BURIED SECRETS by Joseph Finder
BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani
ETERNAL ON THE WATER by Joseph Monninger
ROSES by Leila Meacham

Reviews and Excerpts
SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman (Fiction)
Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman's sparkling debut is, as New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah says, "packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart." It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. Reviewed by Jamie Layton.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUT.

ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin (Historical Fiction)
Few works of literature are as universally beloved as ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole --- and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling. Reviewed by Alexis Burling.
- Click here to read an excerpt from ALICE I HAVE BEEN.

BURN by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy (Supernatural Thriller)
Ted Dekker and Erin Healy have teamed up for yet another riveting novel, right on the heels of their early 2009 release, KISS. But the differences are significant, so much so that halfway through BURN you start to wonder if Dekker has opted to abandon his signature supernatural thriller genre in favor of straight suspense. But no. Rest assured, BURN comes with a twist so bizarre that it leaves no doubt that you're back on eerie Dekker terrain. Reviewed by Marcia Ford.
- Click here to read an excerpt from BURN.

STEPHEN KING'S THE STAND, Volume 1: CAPTAIN TRIPS written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Mike Perkins (Graphic Novel)
It all begins here: the epic apocalyptic battle between good and evil. On a secret army base in the Californian desert, something has gone horribly, terribly wrong. Something will send Charlie Campion, his wife and daughter fleeing in the middle of the night. Unfortunately for the Campion family, and the rest of America, they are unaware that all three of them are carrying a deadly cargo: a virus that will spread from person to person like wildfire, triggering a massive wave of disease and death, prefacing humanity's last stand. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

STEPHEN KING'S THE STAND, Volume 2: AMERICAN NIGHTMARES written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Mike Perkins (Graphic Novel)
The deadly super flu Captain Trips has devastated the country, and now the few survivors must pick up the pieces and go on. Larry Underwood seeks escape from New York City. Lloyd contemplates an extremely unsavory dinner option in jail, and Stu Redman makes a desperate bid for freedom from his interrogators. Most ominous of all, the strange being called Randall Flagg continues his dread journey across the devastated landscape of America. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

TREASURE HUNT: A Wyatt Hunt Novel by John Lescroart (Thriller)
TREASURE HUNT is both a nail-biting thriller and a coming-of-age story, filled with John Lescroart's trademark San Francisco flavors. Mickey Dade, its young protagonist, gradually learns the hard lessons Wyatt Hunt knows only too well, as the world he thought he knew unravels around him. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF SCONES by Alexander McCall Smith (Fiction)
Featuring all the quirky characters we have come to know and love, the fifth book in Alexander McCall’s Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series finds Bertie, the precocious six-year-old, still troubled by his rather overbearing mother, Irene, but seeking his escape in the Cub Scouts. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

ALTAR OF EDEN by James Rollins (Fiction)
James Rollins has made a career of writing fast-paced novels based on scientific intrigue and adventure. With ALTAR OF EDEN, he explores new territory with a shocking story of cruel genetic experimentation with ties to both national security and a secret history of the Book of Genesis. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

UNFINISHED DESIRES by Gail Godwin (Fiction)
As elderly Mother Suzanne Ravenel writes her memoir, she finds herself reluctant to excavate the school year of 1951-1952 at the school she once commanded. In particular, she hates remembering the catastrophic events wrought by the ninth-grade class. Those occurrences are eked out to readers bit by bit, tantalizing them with ominous foreboding. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.
- Click here to read Gail Godwin’s blog post, “Abiding Haunts.”

DAYS OF GOLD by Jude Devereaux (Historical Romance)
Angus McTern wants nothing more than to live his life undisturbed and to take care of his people. But when charming and lovely Englishwoman Edilean Talbot wanders into his world, he has no choice but to give up everything he's ever known and follow his heart to a new life with the woman he loves, no matter the cost. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

TOO MANY MURDERS: A Carmine Delmonico Novel by Colleen McCullough
The year is 1967, and the world teeters on the brink of nuclear holocaust as the Cold War goes on relentlessly. On a beautiful spring day in the little city of Holloman, Connecticut, chief of detectives Captain Carmine Delmonico has more pressing concerns than finding a name for his infant son: 12 murders have taken place in one day, and Delmonico is drawn into a gruesome web of secrets and lies. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE LOCK ARTIST by Steve Hamilton (Thriller)
Marked by tragedy, traumatized at the age of eight, Michael, now 18, is no ordinary young man. Besides not uttering a single word in 10 years, he discovers the one thing he can somehow do better than anyone else. Whether it's a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an 800-pound safe, he can open them all. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE 13th HOUR by Richard Doetsch (Thriller)
Richard Doetsch’s new novel is the story of a man given the chance to go back in time in one-hour increments to prevent a vicious crime from destroying his life. In his race against time to save the woman he loves most in the world, Nick will find that friends become enemies, old loyalties are tested, and Julia's murder is part of a larger scheme that has its roots in greed and vengeance. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Author Interviews
Beth Hoffman
Beth Hoffman's debut work of fiction, SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT, is a coming-of-age tale about a recently orphaned 12-year-old girl who finds a new home with an eccentric elderly aunt in 1960s Savannah. In this interview with's Jamie Layton, Hoffman traces the inspiration for the book's plot back to a childhood memory, as well as her fascination with mother/daughter relationships, and elaborates on some of the pivotal roles played by secondary characters in the novel. She also reveals what prompted her to turn to writing amidst a successful career in design, responds to comparisons made between her work and recent Southern Fiction bestsellers, and shares her whirlwind experiences as a first-time novelist.

Erin Healy
Erin Healy --- the bestselling co-author of 2009’s KISS and the newly released thriller BURN --- recently spoke with's Marcia Ford about her latest venture with collaborator Ted Dekker. In this interview, Healy explains what made the writing process easier this second time around and discusses the research they performed, as well as the creative license they used, to center the novel around a little-known community in the New Mexican desert. She also delves into some of the spiritual aspects explored in the book and discusses her solo projects in the works, including NEVER LET YOU GO, due out in May.

Author Talk
Melanie Benjamin
Melanie Benjamin's first historical novel, ALICE I HAVE BEEN, centers on Alice Liddell --- best known as the "real" Alice in Wonderland from the works of Lewis Carroll. In this interview, Benjamin describes what initially drew her to this figure, despite having little previous knowledge of her and the stories she inspired, and explains how her lack of experience in writing historical fiction actually worked to her benefit. She also highlights some of the major events in Alice's life discussed in the novel and shares her thoughts on the impact that classic childrens' stories had on their infamous real-life muses. Bets On…
There are characters and voices in books that just stay with us. For me, Cecilia Rose Honeycutt, who is nicknamed CeeCee, is one who does just that. As the book opens we meet CeeCee, a 12-year-old girl from Ohio who is being whisked away to live with her Aunt Tootie in Savannah after the death of her mom; her dad already has created a new life for himself, and she does not fit in. As her aunt drives up to the house that they will share, CeeCee sees a beautiful well-manicured home, the kind of place of a little girl’s dreams. Making a new home there, she is surrounded by strong women, including the aforementioned Aunt Tootie and Tootie's cook, Oletta, who love her and guide her and whose own strong values will shape her. There are other “southern” characters, including a wicked gossip named Violene Hobbs and the very wild Thelma Rae Goodpepper --- as well as Gertrude Odell, a kindly nurturing neighbor from Ohio --- who round out the story and strengthen its voice with their voices.

Set in the Deep South during the ’60s as the racial tensions are unfolding, SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT will be looked on by those who loved THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, THE HELP and Steel Magnolias, and authors like Fannie Flagg and Rebecca Wells, as a real treat. Great characters with terrific voices, strong plotting and a story that just hangs together well make this one a Bets On for me.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.

ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin
A confession here. In my literary memories, I had forgotten that Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym for Charles Dodgson, and it also had slipped my mind that the Alice in ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND had been fashioned after a real little girl named Alice. I say this since I approached ALICE I HAVE BEEN with my own sense of wonderment as I read it --- and I loved it. Melanie Benjamin has written a book that is so rich in back story and historical references that I found myself feeling like I was plunged into Alice’s world. It made me want to read more about Dodgson and re-read the classic tale. For the way it transported me and did that, this book is a Bets On for me. It was a treat.

In ALICE I HAVE BEEN, Benjamin imagines 80-year-old Alice looking back on her life and her role in the story of Alice. At one point she says, “But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does that sound ungrateful?” The story opens with lush descriptions of Alice’s early years living in Oxford in a pampered privileged world where keeping one’s dress clean and white consumed her days. This is where she met Dodgson. We then see Alice fall in love, not with the man who would be her husband, but rather a man who is a prince. And finally we see her marrying, raising a family and looking back. All the while we are seeing not just her life, but rather her life as the girl in that fairy tale. While Alice fell through the looking glass, readers here will be turning the pages to see the story unfold.
- Click here to read an excerpt from ALICE I HAVE BEEN.

Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight
NOT MY DAUGHTER by Barbara Delinsky (Fiction)
Barbara Delinsky explores the bonds between mothers and daughters in this topical, explosive novel as a high school principal struggles with the news that her daughter and friends are pregnant.
-Click here to read a review of NOT MY DAUGHTER.
-Click here to read a third excerpt from NOT MY DAUGHTER.
-Click here to read our interview with Barbara Delinsky.
-Click here to read Barbara Delinsky's bio.
-Click here to see Barbara Delinsky's backlist.

One to Watch Author Spotlight
Father Steve Sibille has come home to the bayou to take charge of St. Pete’s church. Among his challenges are teenybopper altar girls, insomnia-curing confessions, and alarmingly alluring congregant Vicky Carrier. Then there’s Miss Rita, an irrepressible centenarian with a taste for whiskey, cracklins, and sticking her nose in other people’s business.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND RABBIT FESTIVAL.

Debut Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
THE SCULPTOR by Gregory Funaro (Thriller)
Dr. Catherine Hildebrant, professor of art history at Brown University, is trying to get her life back on track. Known in academic circles not only as one of the world’s foremost scholars on Michelangelo, she is also the author of a controversial book on his sculptures. Living alone, counting the days until her divorce is final, Cathy is awakened one morning by FBI agent Sam Markham. It seems someone has murdered missing Boston Rebels wide receiver Tommy Campbell, preserved his body, and painted and posed him in the figure of one of Michelangelo’s statues.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from THE SCULPTOR.

Romantic Suspense Author Spotlight
DYING SCREAM by Mary Burton (Romantic Suspense)
Mary Burton takes readers down the horrific path of an affluent family’s dark past where well-hidden secrets unveil a series of grisly crimes, forcing a widow and a detective to explore a twisted, forbidden love that someone will kill for, again and again.
-Click here to read a review of DYING SCREAM.
-Click here to read a second excerpt from DYING SCREAM.
-Click here to read our interview with Mary Burton.
-Click here to read Mary Burton's bio.
-Click here to read Mary Burton's blog post, "Mary Burton on Rekindling Fond Holiday Memories."

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