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Friday, January 8, 2010

January 8, 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, January 8th.

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

JULIE & JULIA by Julie Powell
MY SISTER’S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult
THE BLIND SIDE by Michael Lewis
UP IN THE AIR by Walter Kirn
THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson
JACOB I HAVE LOVED by Kathryn Patterson
BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani
ROSES by Leila Meacham

Reviews and Excerpts
NOT MY DAUGHTER by Barbara Delinsky (Fiction)
The emotional ties between mothers and daughters are stretched to breaking in this emotionally wrenching story of love and forgiveness. Once again, Barbara Delinsky has given us a powerful novel, one that asks a central question: What does it take to be a good mother? Reviewed by Jennifer McCord.

WATCHLIST: A Serial Thriller by Jeffery Deaver and Others (Thriller)
WATCHLIST is a unique collaboration by 21 of the world’s greatest thriller writers including Lee Child, Joseph Finder, David Hewson, S.J. Rozan, Lisa Scottoline, and Jeffery Deaver, who conceived the characters and set the plot in motion. In turn, the other authors each wrote a chapter and Deaver then completed what he started, bringing each novel to its startling conclusion. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DYING SCREAM by Mary Burton
(Romantic Suspense)
After losing her husband and unborn child, Adrianna Barrington Thornton is left with massive medical bills. To get out of debt, she sells the Thornton estate, but the buyer demands the family graveyard be removed. While workmen survey the grounds, they discover remains of a woman who once worked for Adrianna’s late husband. Reviewed by Donna Volkennant.

NOAH’S COMPASS by Anne Tyler (Fiction)
Anne Tyler has written a wise, compassionate novel about Liam, a retired schoolteacher at 61 who wakes up one day in a hospital unable to remember how he wound up there. Liam, however, is determined to reconstruct the missing hours in his life, both to uncover the truth about what happened and to prove he can’t be written off quite yet. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

IRON RIVER by T. Jefferson Parker (Thriller)
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy Charlie Hood is running the California-Mexico border with the ATFE, searching for the iron river --- the massive and illegal flow of handguns and automatic weapons that fuels the bloody cartel wars south of the border. In IRON RIVER, Hood finds himself wrapped up in events south of the border --- a connection that shakes him to his core. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

BLOOD GAME by Iris Johansen (Thriller)
When a Georgia senator’s daughter is found murdered, and her body drained of blood, Eve Duncan is drawn into the web of Kevin Jelak --- a serial murderer on Eve’s short list of killers who might know something about her missing daughter Bonnie. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

HIDDEN EMPIRE by Orson Scott Card (Science Fiction)
A horrific plague is sweeping across Nigeria, decimating whole villages. Those not dying from the virus are being killed by the Nigerian government. President Averell Torrent is torn between blockading the entire continent of Africa and sending relief workers. Meeting with a Nigerian who survived the sickness and tells of the massacre of his village is all Torrent needs to send help to the people of Nigeria. But his own military begins to question the nature of his involvement as they become overrun by the sickness themselves. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

CRAWLSPACE: A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery by Sarah Graves (Mystery)
Carolyn Rathbone, a famous writer of true crime stories, arrives in Eastport, Maine, chasing down an intriguing lead to a supposedly dead murderer. But Carolyn soon finds herself in a deadly quandary, and she's not alone: Jake Tiptree is desperately seeking her own missing person. Their predicaments intertwine, making for a nail-biting suspense story that will keep readers turning pages until they reach the conclusion. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

BECOMING JANE EYRE by Sheila Kohler (Historical Fiction)
There could never be another book like JANE EYRE --- one of the formative reading experiences for shy, brainy girls (and probably for cheerleaders, too). But here, to fill the gap, is a quietly powerful novel that imagines what Charlotte Brontë’s life was like while she was writing it. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

HERE’S THE DEAL: DON’T TOUCH ME by Howie Mandel, with Josh Young (Memoir)
As heartfelt as it is hilarious, HERE’S THE DEAL: DON’T TOUCH ME is the story of one man’s effort to draw comic inspiration out of his darkest, most vulnerable places. It’s sure to please Howie Mandel’s legion of fans…and provide hope to the millions who strive to succeed in spite of OCD and ADHD. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

MEMOIR: A History by Ben Yagoda (Literary Criticism)
Cultural and literary critic Ben Yagoda traces the memoir from its birth in early Christian writings and Roman generals' journals all the way up to the banner year of 2007, which saw memoirs from and about dogs, rock stars, bad dads, good dads, alternadads, waitresses, George Foreman, Iranian women, and a slew of other illustrious persons (and animals). Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

Author Interviews
Barbara Delinsky
Barbara Delinsky, author of FAMILY TREE, THE SECRET BETWEEN US and WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS, recently published NOT MY DAUGHTER, which explores teen pregnancy, as well as the bonds of friendship and family relationships. In this interview with's Jennifer McCord, Delinsky discusses why she chose to tackle such a timely subject and explains why she consistently revisits the theme of mothers and daughters in her work. She also shares her thoughts on such topics as the definition of a "good mother" and the evolving perceptions of teen parents, describes her career change from psychologist to author, and reflects on her transition to writing women's fiction after penning several romances.

Jeffery Deaver
Though most widely known for his bestselling series featuring quadriplegic detective Lincoln Rhyme, Jeffery Deaver's latest project, WATCHLIST --- a serial novel co-written with a number of other thriller writers, including Lee Child, Joseph Finder and Lisa Scottoline --- centers on Harold Middleton and his crew of Volunteers, as they track down war criminals and diffuse terrorist plots. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Deaver explains how he became involved in the project and recounts his experiences working with other heavyweights of the genre. He also gives insight into the writing process as his initial idea was enriched and carried forward by each contributor and ponders the possibility of another installment in the series.

Mary Burton
Mary Burton is the author of over a dozen thrillers and historical romances, including I'M WATCHING YOU, WISE MOVES and HEART OF THE STORM. In this interview with’s Donna Volkenannt, Burton describes how her latest novel, DYING SCREAM, was partially inspired by research for a previous work, DEAD RINGER, and discusses how most of her characters are composites of real people, research and past experiences. She also explains why she left her career in marketing to become a full-time writer and how she handled the transition, and shares the best piece of advice she has ever received.

New in Paperback
January’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah, the story of three sisters whose once-solid world is broken apart by jealousy, betrayal, and the kind of passion that rarely comes along; VERY VALENTINE, the first installment in a trilogy that finds Valentine Roncalli desperately trying to save the family shoemaking business while juggling a budding romance, her family and a challenge from a nearby department store; THE SCARECROW, a Michael Connelly thriller featuring newspaperman Jack McEvoy, who decides to use his final days at the Los Angeles Times to write the definitive murder story of his career; A RELIABLE WIFE, Robert Goolrick's debut novel that delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis; and PICKING COTTON: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption, which covers the dramatic intersection of the lives of two people --- Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton --- who couldn’t be more different yet forge an improbable friendship.

Please note that we are now including paperback originals, not just reprints of hardcovers, in this feature. Among the notable titles releasing in January are THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF SCONES by Alexander McCall Smith, THE HUNGRY SEASON by T. Greenwood, THE SUMMER WE FELL APART by Robin Antalek and E SQUARED by Matt Beaumont.

Books into Movies
The films in this month’s Books into Movies Roundup include:
Youth in Revolt
The Last Station
Extraordinary Measures
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Whip It!
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

One to Watch Author Spotlight
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 more about SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.
- Click here to read Beth Hoffman’s bio.
- Click here to read an excerpt of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.

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 an excerpt from THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND PRAIRIE RABBIT FESTIVAL.

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
BURN by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy
The past Janeal thought had burned away is rising from the ashes.

Years ago, the Gypsy Kumpania where Janeal Mikkado lived was attacked by outsiders. With her best friend about to be consumed by a fire, Janeal had two options: try to save her friend --- at serious risk to her own life --- or disappear with the million dollars that she had just discovered...

But the past is quickly coming back to haunt her. Both the best friend and the boyfriend that she was sure were dead have reappeared in her life, as has someone who knows about the money. There's a debt to be paid for the money she found, but there's an even greater debt she must face--and if the chaff isn't burned from her own heart, it will consume her.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from BURN.

Debut Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
THE SCULPTOR by Gregory Funaro
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 an excerpt from THE SCULPTOR.

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