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Friday, January 29, 2010

January 29, 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, January 29th.

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

CATCHER IN THE RYE by J. D. Salinger
FRANNY AND ZOOEY by J. D. Salinger
MANIA by Craig Larsen
The Maisie Dobbs Series by Jacqueline Winspear
THE LACE READER by Brunonia Barry
THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin

Reviews and Excerpts
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. When an outsider threatens to poach Father Steve’s flock, Miss Rita suggests he fight back by staging an event that will keep St. Pete’s parishioners loyal forever. Reviewed by Melanie Smith and excerpted.

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. Reviewed by Joe Harlaub.

KISSER: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods
Stone Barrington is back in New York, and after a rather harrowing sojourn in Key West, he's looking to stay closer to home and work on some simple divorce and custody cases for Woodman & Weld. But when he crosses paths with a fetching Broadway actress --- and sometime lip model --- Stone gets a little more deeply involved with business than he'd expected. When his new lady love turns out to be a lady with a shady past, Stone and downtown cop Dino Bacchetti realize that her beauty may have an unusually high price. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE BURNING LAND by Bernard Cornwell
(Historical Fiction)
At the end of the ninth century, King Alfred of Wessex is in ill health; his heir, an untested youth. His enemy, the Danes, having failed to conquer Wessex, now see their chance for victory. Led by the sword of savage warrior Harald Bloodhair, the Viking hordes attack. But Uhtred, Alfred's reluctant warlord, proves his worth, outwitting Harald and handing the Vikings one of their greatest defeats. For Uhtred, the sweetness of victory is soon overshadowed by tragedy. Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds.

I, SNIPER: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel by Stephen Hunter (Thriller)
Four famed '60s radicals are gunned down at long range by a sniper. Under enormous media scrutiny, the FBI quickly concludes that Marine war hero Carl Hitchcock was the shooter. But as the Bureau, led by Special Agent Nick Memphis, bears down, Hitchcock commits suicide. In closing out the investigation, Nick discovers a case made in heaven. Maybe, though, it's a little too perfect. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

GATOR A GO-GO by Time Dorsey (Fiction)
Serial killer Serge A. Storms and his drug-addled deputy, Coleman, are going to take a well-deserved vacation. Packing up their guns, drugs and sunscreen, they set out for their own special kind of Spring Break. But they aren’t the only crazies headed to the beach. A Miami crime gang is determined to put the hurt on a snitch’s college-age son dumb enough to go to Florida. When the gang picks up the son’s trail, Serge picks up the gang’s, and the chase is on. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

WILD CHILD: And Other Stories by T.C. Boyle (Fiction/Short Stories)
Nature and civilization collide --- often with unexpected, even violent, results --- in WILD CHILD, T.C Boyle’s latest collection of short stories, many of which showcase his common themes and inimitable style. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SHADES OF GREY by Jasper Fforde (Fiction)
At first, Jasper Fforde’s latest book, SHADES OF GREY, is a difficult read. It is set in the distant future, in a world nearly unrecognizable technologically and culturally. But as we follow the story of young Edward Russet, poised for adulthood in a civilization that discourages his inquisitiveness and imagination, we are eased into Fforde’s strange world and captivated by it. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

FREEDOM ™ by Daniel Suarez (Thriller)
Daniel Suarez, a former systems consultant to Fortune 1000 companies, returns with this follow-up to his debut novel, DAEMON. With FREEDOM, Suarez continues to combine cutting-edge technology and a frighteningly plausible premise about a computer software system that threatens to create a new world order. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

ORDINARY THUNDERSTORMS by William Boyd (Thriller)
A chance encounter in a restaurant leaves one man dead and the other running for his life. What’s at stake becomes horrifyingly clear as ruthless businessmen put a bounty on Adam Kindred’s head. Can he figure out who the real killer is --- and, more importantly, find crucial evidence --- before his time runs out? Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

HAPPY: A Memoir by Alex Lemon (Memoir)
His freshman year of college, Alex Lemon was supposed to be the star catcher on the Macalester College baseball team. He was the boy getting every girl, the hard-partying kid who everyone called Happy, often without even knowing his real name. In the spring of 1997, he had his first stroke. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

CHARLES DICKENS by Michael Slater (Biography)
Just in time for the 2012 bicentennial of Charles Dickens’s birth comes this new biography of the man by perhaps the leading Dickens authority alive today. Michael Slater strikes all the familiar chords of Dickensian scholarship, but adds to them a searching examination of much of his less familiar work. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

Author Interviews
Ken Wheaton
In this interview with's Melanie Smith, author Ken Wheaton traces the humorous and unlikely origins of his debut novel, THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND PRAIRIE RABBIT FESTIVAL, and examines some of the motivations that drive his characters' actions and behavior in the book. He also provides some background information on Cajun culture in Louisiana and shares story ideas for future projects.

Gregory Funaro's Joe Hartlaub recently spoke with Gregory Funaro, whose chilling debut thriller, THE SCULPTOR, centers on a serial murderer who fashions replicas of the artist Michelangelo's most famous works out of his victims. In this interview, Funaro discusses what initially inspired this rather bizarre plot point and elaborates on what his book's antagonist represents in relation to the world and culture in which we live today. He also explains how he manages to find time to write amidst his teaching and familial responsibilities, lists several literary influences, and shares details on his current project --- a prequel to THE SCULPTOR.

Valentine’s Day Contest
The countdown to Valentine's Day is on! Stuck on what to buy your Valentine? Our featured titles have the bookish answer. From January 22nd through February 5th, readers will have the chance to win one of our five Valentine's Day Baskets. These heart-adorned baskets are filled with one copy of each of our eight featured books, as well as some irresistible Valentine's Day-themed goodies: a plush pink blanket, Godiva chocolates, a cherry-flavored handmade lollipop, gourmet Valentine cookies and a mesh shower sponge. Whether you are looking for humorous tales, heartwarming love stories, page-turning mysteries or classic works of literature, our Valentine's Day suggestions are sure to satisfy whatever you’re craving to give on this holiday.

Our featured Valentine’s Day titles are:


BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani

THE BRONTË SISTERS: Three Novels: JANE EYRE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS and AGNES GREY by Emily Brontë, Charlotte Brontë and Anne Brontë

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Elizabeth Noble

A MATTER OF CLASS by Mary Balogh

O, JULIET by Robin Maxwell

VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani

WICKED CRAVING: A Savannah Reid Mystery by G.A. McKevett

One to Watch Author Spotlight
It is 1940. Iris James is the postmistress and spinster of Franklin, Massachusetts, a small town on Cape Cod. She firmly believes that her job is to deliver and keep people’s secrets, to pass along the news of love and sorrow that letters carry. Yet one day Iris does the unthinkable: she slips a letter into her pocket. And then she does something even worse --- she reads the letter, then doesn’t deliver it.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE POSTMISTRESS.
- Click here to read Sarah Blake’s bio.

ONE AMAZING THING by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Late afternoon in a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city, where only nine people remain. When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping them together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There’s little food. The office begins to flood. As the psychological and emotional stress becomes nearly too much for them to bear, one of them suggests that each tell a personal tale, “one amazing thing” from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. As their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from ONE AMAZING THING.

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille --- the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town --- a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.
- Click here to read a review of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.
- Click here to read our interview with Beth Hoffman.
- Click here to read Beth Hoffman's bio.

Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight
NOT MY DAUGHTER by Barbara Delinsky
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 Advance Reader Comments for NOT MY DAUGHTER.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

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