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Friday, February 12, 2010

February 12, 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, February 12th.

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

by Kristin Hannah
LUCIA, LUCIA by Adriana Trigiani
ONE GOOD DOG by Susan Wilson
MARLEY & ME by John Grogan
THE BUSINESS OF HAPPINESS: Six Secrets to Extraordinary Success in Work and Life
by Ted Leonsis
by Jean Kwok
THEY’RE WATCHING by Gregg Hurwitz

Reviews and Excerpts

BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani (Fiction)
In this sumptuous follow-up to VERY VALENTINE, a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis, while Valentine is torn between a past love that nurtured her and a new one that promises to sustain her. Reviewed by Lourdes Orive.

ONE AMAZING THING by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Fiction)
Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping nine people together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, a young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
- Click here to read an excerpt from ONE AMAZING THING.

THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake (Fiction)
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. Reviewed by Jamie Layton.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE POSTMISTRESS.

How far would you go to protect your family? Ann Brooks never thought she’d have to answer that question. Then she found her limits tested by a crisis no one could prevent. Now, as her neighborhood descends into panic, she must make tough choices to protect everyone she loves from a threat she cannot even see. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE.

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot (Science Biography)
Henrietta Lacks was an impoverished woman who died of cancer in 1951. Her ever-reproducing cancer cells --- taken without her knowledge --- led to amazing scientific breakthroughs; billions are bought and sold today. The tales of the first human cells to live indefinitely, the impact on Henrietta’s family, and Henrietta’s own journey through life weave together in this fascinating true story. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS.

DEATH OF A VALENTINE: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery, by M. C. Beaton (Mystery)
DEATH OF A VALENTINE is the 25th novel in M. C. Beaton’s cozy mystery series featuring Hamish Macbeth, the shrewd village policeman from the picturesque Scottish Highlands. When a seemingly innocent village belle is brutally murdered by an exploding Valentine’s Day package, Hamish learns there is no shortage of suspects in the village of Lochdubh. As more bodies pile up, the race is on for Hamish to apprehend the culprit before he or she can strike again, all the while evading the clutches of his romantically stricken new police constable. Reviewed by Usha Reynolds.

FALSE CONVICTIONS by Tim Green (Legal Thriller)
Attorney and former NFL star Tim Green’s latest effort is another entertaining legal thriller featuring the return of lawyer Casey Jordan and reporter Jake Carlson. In FALSE CONVICTIONS, Green places the battle to free a wrongfully convicted man in the context of political machinations and the world of finance. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

DEVILS IN EXILE by Chuck Hogan (Thriller)
Chuck Hogan, known for creating novels of pulse-pounding action and tension, returns with another book set in the Boston area. A recent Iraq War veteran joins a band of renegade ex-military men to create their own war against drugs in their hometown. Unfortunately, their leader may not be all he appears to be. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

SOMETHING IS OUT THERE: Stories, by Richard Bausch
(Fiction/Short Stories)
This expressive collection of short stories by renowned writer Richard Bausch confronts the meaning behind disparate lives. His understated, masterful writing invites us to contemplate the ultimate mystery we are to each other and --- perhaps most of all --- to ourselves. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

JEALOUSY: The Other Life of Catherine M., by Catherine Millet (Memoir)
Catherine Millet, the bestselling author of THE SEXUAL LIFE OF CATHERINE M., explores in her new memoir, JEALOUSY, her emotional turmoil after discovering that her partner and the love of her life also had been having sexual affairs outside their relationship. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

RICH AGAIN by Anna Maxted (Fiction)
Up until now, Anna Maxted’s novels have been firmly lumped in with the Bridget Jones/chick-lit category of women’s fiction. Although her earlier works sometimes tackled darker subjects, they did so in a way laced with plenty of humor and lighthearted romance. Now, with RICH AGAIN, Maxted takes her fiction in startling --- and surprisingly dark --- directions. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

A crime caper in the tradition of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen, Lou Berney’s fast-paced and funny debut is the story of Charles "Shake" Bouchon, fresh out of prison after serving three years for grand theft auto and ready for life on the straight and narrow. Well, maybe after one last job… Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Author Interviews
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a creative writing professor at the University of Houston and the author of several works of fiction and poetry, including THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS, THE CONCH BEARER and LEAVING YUBA CITY. In this interview with's Norah Piehl, Divakaruni explains how firsthand experiences during times of crisis inspired her latest novel, ONE AMAZING THING, and discusses the symbolic meaning behind the book's exotic setting for its various characters. She also names some of the classic and contemporary works that helped shape the novel's format, describes how emigrating from India to the U.S. jumpstarted her writing career, and shares how her work as a poet has influenced her prose.

Sarah Blake
In this interview with's Jamie Layton, Sarah Blake discusses her personal motivations for writing her second novel, THE POSTMISTRESS, and the bigger questions that arose from it about the human capacity for both empathy and denial. She also reflects on the balance between her attachment for her characters and the distance required to tell a story, shares her thoughts on the evolution of journalism since the 1930s, and describes her current work-in-progress about an old-monied family that loses its fortune.

Author Talk
Carla Buckley
Carla Buckley's debut, THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE, is an apocalyptic novel that centers on a family whose already fractured relationship is put to the test as they find themselves in the grips of an avian influenza pandemic. In this interview, Buckley explains what inspired her to write about such a timely topic and describes how her awareness of such highly infectious diseases has influenced her day-to-day life. She also discusses her writing process and shares details about her next book already in the works. Bets On…
Sarah Blake's THE POSTMISTRESS is a wonderful and engaging story of three women set during 1941 as the war is raging in Europe and America is not yet involved in the conflict, though people are wondering when, not if, we will be. The prose drops readers into London where it’s raining bombs, and I could hear the rumbles and feel the way people’s lives were shattered as I turned the pages; Blake captures the collateral damage of war. One of the women is a war correspondent in London, the other two are in Massachusetts --- a postmistress and a doctor's wife. The way their lives collide and weave together made me want to read this book without interruption. It reels you in and surrounds you with details, all with careful, beautiful language. Frankie, the war reporter, was my favorite character probably because for me Blake’s writing is strongest when she tells this part of the story. Rich with detail and laced with emotion, THE POSTMISTRESS is one not to miss, and for those in book clubs, this is one to add to your list to read and discuss.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for THE POSTMISTRESS.

- Click here to read Sarah Blake’s bio.

ONE AMAZING THING by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
ONE AMAZING THING by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni takes place in a passport office somewhere here in the United States when an earthquake hits and the nine people waiting for visas for travel to India are all trapped. Given the recent coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, the terror that grips this group will be palpable. They become united in the task of surviving and shake out the roles of leaders and followers. As they are awaiting rescue, each member of the group tells one story about their lives, something that they have not previously shared. As they talk, their survival story gets placed on the backburner as readers instead are drawn into the stories of what came before this moment. Each character speaks of deep truths, and through them we learn so much about them --- and often the story I had preconceived about them was shattered. Reading it reminded me of all the wonderful stories I have heard on airplanes through the years --- the kinds of things that are shared when you know you are with strangers whose lives will part from yours as you exit the plane and leave baggage claim. ONE AMAZING THING will have you thinking about the one story that you would tell. And the ending will give you much to discuss.
- Click here to read Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s bio.

One to Watch Author Spotlight
ONE GOOD DOG by Susan Wilson
Adam March is a Boston man recovering from the shame of a foolish crime. Chance is a scrappy pit bull mix trying to escape the illegal dogfight circuit. Together they find salvation. Adam, 46, is a ruthless self-made millionaire married to an icy socialite living a picture-perfect existence that includes a teen princess daughter. Adam is sentenced to community service following an outburst at the office and meets the adorable Chance, who teaches Adam about survival and what matters. Chance tells his story in his own words, which makes his mistreatment and return to the fighting pit powerfully disturbing.
-Click here to read an excerpt from ONE GOOD DOG.
-Click here to read Susan Wilson's bio.
-Click here to see Susan Wilson's backlist.

Romantic Suspense Author Spotlight

DEAD BY MIDNIGHT by Beverly Barton
In murder, as in life, timing is everything. With every murder, the killer edges closer, and soon Lorie Hammonds will be the last name left on his list. In the 10 years since her Hollywood career imploded, Lorrie has built a good life in her Alabama hometown, but things take a devious turn. She laughs off the first death threat, but the second threat is no joke. Her high school sweetheart, Mike Birkett, is now the small town's sheriff who has tried to keep his distance, but he, too, is drawn into a web of secrets, lies and murders that become increasingly personal.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
VICTIM SIX by Gregg Olsen
The bodies begin turning up in the marshes and swamps surrounding Puget Sound, each one more gruesome than the previous. The killer has a precision to his killing, carefully targetting, stalking, torturing and disposing of each victim. Two women find themselves unlikely friends as they race to stop the killer before his next strike, however, time is not on their side as the clues seem to place each of them squarely in the killer's cross hairs.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from VICTIM SIX.

LOOK AGAIN by Lisa Scottoline
When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops --- the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her adoption was lawful, but she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth. As she investigates, Ellen uncovers clues that no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life --- and that of the son she loves.
- Click here to read a review of LOOK AGAIN.
- Click here to read an excerpt from LOOK AGAIN.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for LOOK AGAIN.
- Click here to read our interview with Lisa Scottoline.
- Click here to read Lisa Scottoline’s bio.
- Click here to read fast facts about Lisa Scottoline.
- Click here to read Lisa Scottoline’s backlist.
- Click here to see our advance reader comments for LOOK AGAIN.

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 view Advanced Reader Comments for THE SCULPTOR.

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