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Friday, February 5, 2010

February 5, 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, February 5th.

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

SMASHER: A Silicon Valley Thriller by Keith Raffel
CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese

Reviews and Excerpts
WINTER GARDEN by Kristin Hannah (Fiction)
Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged women will find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother who, even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts one last promise from the women in his life. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

ROSES by Leila Meacham (Fiction)
In this compelling multi-generational tale of star-crossed lovers, Mary Toliver inherits Somerset, her family's East Texas cotton plantation. Mary knows her love for Somerset will guide her life, but she also will find out for herself if the plantation’s reputed curse is fiction or fact. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

WORST CASE by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
The son of one of New York's wealthiest families is snatched off the street and held hostage. His parents can't save him, because this kidnapper isn't demanding money. Instead, he quizzes his prisoner on the price others pay for his life of luxury. In this exam, wrong answers are fatal. Detective Michael Bennett leads the investigation. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from WORST CASE.

SHADOW TAG by Louise Erdrich
When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diary --- hidden where Gil will find it --- into a manipulative farce. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

POINT OMEGA by Don DeLillo (Fiction)
Demonstrating once again his uncanny ability to tap into our collective psyche, Don DeLillo’s latest novel is a spare yet probing exploration of some of the mysteries of human consciousness and existence. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

WENCH by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
(Historical Fiction)
Combining the narrative allure of CANE RIVER and the moral complexities of THE KNOWN WORLD, WENCH is a startling and original debut novel that raises provocative questions of power and freedom, love and dependence, witnessed through the lives of four black slave mistresses in the years before the Civil War. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

CONSPIRATA: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris
(Historical Fiction)
In Robert Harris's second installment of his Rome Trilogy, a struggle for political power begins when Cicero is sworn in as counsel of Rome. The great orator and Senator holds the safety of Rome and her citizens in his hands while enemies plot to take from him not only power but the city itself. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

SLEEPLESS by Charlie Huston (Thriller)
From bestselling author Charlie Huston comes a novel about the fears that find us all during dark times and the courage and sacrifice that can save us in the face of unimaginable odds. Gripping, unnerving, exhilarating and haunting, SLEEPLESS is well worth staying up for. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DEVOTION: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro (Memoir)
At first blush, Orthodox Judaism, Hindu yoga and Buddhist meditation have little in common. But all three use ritual as a way to order time and space and to explore one’s connection to the sacred. In her new memoir, Dani Shapiro reflects on the role of ritual and religion in her life as she comes to terms with parenthood, middle age, the loss of her own parents and life’s anxieties, as well as its potential for peace. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE BOOK OF FIRES by Jane Borodale (Fiction)
With this stunning debut, Jane Borodale has created a very special character in Agnes Trussel. Unmarried, pregnant and just 17 years old, Agnes flees her country home --- and a future with an abusive husband --- and disappears into 1752 London. Fate hands her a favor when she finds employment as a pyrotechnic assistant. As she learns her new trade, she also learns her employer’s secrets. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

THE INFORMATION OFFICER by Mark Mills (Historical Thriller)
Mark Mills's bestselling novels AMAGANSETT and THE SAVAGE GARDEN have won him widespread acclaim for his singular brand of suspense. Weaving a haunting and atmospheric historical backdrop with a tense plot of murder and an unforgettable love story, Mills delivers another riveting tale in THE INFORMATION OFFICER. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

OCCUPIED CITY by David Peace (Historical Thriller)
On January 26, 1948, a man identifying himself as a public health official arrives at a bank in Tokyo claiming there has been an outbreak of dysentery in the neighborhood and that he has been assigned by Occupation authorities to treat everyone who might have been exposed to the disease. Soon after drinking the medicine he administers, 12 employees are dead, four are unconscious, and the “official” has fled. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom (Fiction)
Orphaned while onboard a ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

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

New in Paperback
February’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes SHANGHAI GIRLS, a novel by Lisa See that explores the complex bonds of sisterhood in the face of clashing cultures and personal hardships over two volatile decades in the first half of the 20th century; PRAYERS FOR SALE, in which Sandra Dallas chronicles the unlikely friendship between an 86-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl in 1930s Colorado; NIGHT AND DAY, the late Robert B. Parker’s eighth installment in the Jesse Stone series, which finds the Paradise, Massachusetts police chief confronting a town's darkest secrets; PURSUIT by Karen Robards, a complex tale of a political conspiracy at the highest level of government, with a steamy love affair between protector and prey; LIVE TO TELL, a paperback original from Wendy Corsi Staub that marks the beginning of a brand new thriller trilogy; and THE UNFORGIVING MINUTE, in which West Point grad, Rhodes scholar, Airborne Ranger and U.S. Army Captain Craig Mullaney recounts his unparalleled education and the hard lessons that only war can teach.

Books into Movies
This month’s Books into Movies Roundup features includes:
Dear John
Shutter Island
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Coco Before Chanel

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 an excerpt from DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.
- Click here to read Beverly Barton’s bio.
- Click here to read Beverly Barton’s Backlist.

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 an excerpt from VICTIM SIX.
- Click here to read Gregg Olsen’s bio.
- Click here to read Gregg Olsen’s backlist.

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 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.

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 a second excerpt from THE POSTMISTRESS.

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 third excerpt from ONE AMAZING THING.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

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