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Friday, April 2, 2010

April 2, 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, April 2nd.

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

INNOCENT by Scott Turow
STILTSVILLE by Susanna Daniel
BROKEN by Karin Slaughter
THE LIAR’S LULLABY by Meg Gardiner
CRASHERS by Dana Haynes
LOVE IN MID AIR by Kim Wright

Reviews and Excerpts
WHITER THAN SNOW by Sandra Dallas (Fiction)
WHITER THAN SNOW opens in 1920, on a spring afternoon in Swandyke, a small town near Colorado’s Tenmile Range. Just moments after 4:00, a large split of snow separates from Jubilee Mountain high above the tiny hamlet and hurtles down the rocky slope, enveloping everything in its path including nine young children who are walking home from school. But only four children survive. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from WHITER THAN SNOW.

THE BOOK OF SPIES by Gayle Lynds (Thriller)
For centuries, emperors, historians and even the Vatican have tried to locate Ivan the Terrible's magnificent Library of Gold. Now one of its volumes, The Book of Spies, has surfaced, and along with it the secret book club that owns the fabled library. They form a cabal of the globe's most powerful men --- men who will do anything to achieve their aims and protect their interests. An intelligence officer and a rare books curator now must do what other global agencies can't --- find the library and stop them. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE BOOK OF SPIES.

SOLAR by Ian McEwan
Bestselling author Ian McEwan’s new novel uses a decidedly antiheroic protagonist to deliver a wickedly funny work that’s full of sly insights on the climate change controversy and equally perceptive ones on the follies of human nature. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

DECEPTION: An Alex Delaware Novel, by Jonathan Kellerman (Psychological Thriller)
Homicide detective Milo Sturgis is assigned to probe the hallowed halls of Windsor Prep Academy after a DVD found near the lifeless body of a teacher reveals that her sadistic tormentors are faculty members at this prestigious prep school. If ever he could use Dr. Alex Delaware’s psychological prowess, now would be the time. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

MEMORY by Donald E. Westlake (Psychological Thriller)
When a stage actor on tour has a violent run-in with a jealous husband, his memory isn’t the only thing he is in danger of losing. MEMORY is the final, never-before-published novel by the late great Donald E. Westlake. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

THE SILENT SEA: A Novel of the Oregon Files, by Clive Cussler with Jack Du Brul (Thriller/Action & Adventure)
On December 7, 1941, five brothers exploring a shaft on a small island off the coast of Washington State make an extraordinary discovery, only to be interrupted by news of Pearl Harbor. In the present, Juan Cabrillo, chasing the remnants of a crashed satellite in the Argentine jungle, stumbles upon a shocking revelation of his own. Reviewed by Marge Fletcher.

LOVE IN MID-AIR by Kim Wright (Fiction)
A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. As she embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage and freedom. Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for LOVE IN MID AIR.

THE BARBARY PIRATES: An Ethan Gage Adventure, by William Dietrich (Historical Thriller)
THE BARBARY PIRATES is William Dietrich’s fourth swashbuckling adventure in his highly energetic Ethan Gage series (which also includes NAPOLEON’S PYRAMIDS, THE ROSETTA KEY and THE DAKOTA CIPHER). Fans of action/adventure, espionage and historical fiction will not want to miss this latest entry. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

THE DEVIL’S STAR by Jo Nesbo (Mystery)
Oslo is sweltering in the summer heat when a young woman is murdered in her flat. One finger has been cut off and a tiny red diamond in the shape of a pentagram --- a five-pointed star --- is found under her eyelid. Detective Harry Hole is assigned the case with Tom Waaler, a colleague he neither likes nor trusts. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DIMITER by William Peter Blatty (Thriller)
This gracefully written and brilliantly created novel opens with a Biblical quote from Acts and takes the reader on a dazzling and mysterious journey. Set in the atheist state of Albania in 1973 and shifting to 1974 war-ravaged Jerusalem, DIMITER is an intelligent and unforgettable tale of redemption, sacrifice, courage and love. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

WILLIE MAYS: THE LIFE, THE LEGEND by James S. Hirsch (Biography)
With 3,283 hits, 660 home runs and 338 stolen bases, Willie Mays was a blend of power, speed and stylistic bravado that enraptured fans for more than two decades. Now, in the first biography authorized by and written with the cooperation of Willie Mays, James Hirsch reveals the man behind the player. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

A TWISTED FAITH: A Minister's Obsession and the Murder That Destroyed a Church, by Gregg Olsen (True Crime)
In the late 1990s, God spoke to a youth pastor of a small church in an idyllic part of Washington State --- or at least that’s what he told the women he convinced to have sex with him. But they finally came to the realization that it was more likely Satan than God who had the man’s ear. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS: A White House Chef Mystery, by Julie Hyzy
When NSA bigshot Carl Minkus dies right after eating the dinner Olivia Paras's staff had prepared, all forks point to them. Now the Secret Service is picking apart the kitchen --- and scrutinizing the staff's every move. The timing couldn't be worse with the White House Lawn Easter Egg Roll to prep for without access to a kitchen. Ollie must find the real culprit --- before she cracks under pressure. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

THE GUILT PROJECT: Rape, Morality, and Law, by Vanessa Place (Criminal Law)
Assuming a society can and must be judged by the way it treats its most despicable members, THE GUILT PROJECT looks at the way the American legal system defines, prosecutes and punishes sex offenders, how it has transformed our conception of who is guilty and how they ought to be treated, and how this has come to undo our deeper humanity. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

STRESS FRACTURE by D.P. Lyle (Psychological Thriller)
When Dub Walker’s close friend, Sheriff Mike Savage, becomes the victim of a gruesome murder, the forensic expert is called upon to track down the serial killer who's been terrorizing the county. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

Author Interviews
Sandra Dallas
Sandra Dallas --- the bestselling author of nine works of fiction, including PRAYERS FOR SALE, TALLGRASS and NEW MERCIES --- tackles themes of loss, forgiveness and faith in her latest historical novel, WHITER THAN SNOW, which depicts a sleepy Colorado mining town as its residents cope with the effects of a natural disaster. In this interview with’s Bronwyn Miller, Dallas recounts a personal tragedy that helped her tap into similar feelings of bereavement experienced by her characters and discusses one particularly challenging aspect of writing about such harrowing circumstances. She also explains how she authentically captures the speech, behavior and attitudes of the time periods and settings during which her books take place, shares what she hopes readers will take away about ideas regarding fate (or luck) and tragedy, and offers details about the bear of a novel she’s currently working on.

Gayle Lynds
Gayle Lynds’s latest novel, THE BOOK OF SPIES, is the first book in a series that follows museum curator Eva Blake and former intelligence agent Judd Ryder as they attempt to uncover a terrorist plot linked to Ivan the Terrible’s legendary Library of Gold. In this interview with’s Joe Hartlaub, Lynds describes how she first became interested in this historical mystery and explains what aspect of writing and researching the subject thrilled her the most. She also stresses the importance of keeping things simple while plotting complex storylines, shares her own theories about the location of the legendary library, and reveals why THE BOOK OF SPIES was personally a significant accomplishment for her to complete.

2010 Spring Baseball Roundup
In a baseball era when much of the discussion has centered on who may have taken shortcuts to superstardom, it’s refreshing that 2010 sees several titles harkening back to a simpler time and heroes who won their glory through hard work and, at times, in the face of adversity.’s Ron Kaplan takes a look at these recently and soon-to-be released books, along with two nostalgic selections about baseball cards, which served as a way of connecting fans across the country with faraway players and teams.

The books featured in the 2010 Spring Baseball Roundup include
THE LAST HERO: A Life of Henry Aaron by Howard Bryant
HIGH HEAT: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time by Tim Wendel
SATCH, DIZZY & RAPID ROBERT: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson by Timothy M. Gay
IT'S WHAT'S INSIDE THE LINES THAT COUNTS: Baseball Stars of the 1970s and 1980s Talk About the Game They Loved by Fay Vincent
MINT CONDITION: How Baseball Cards Became An American Obsession by Dave Jamieson
CARDBOARD GODS: An All-American tale Told Through Baseball Cards (With 1 Stick Bubble Gum by Josh Wilker

New in Paperback
April’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes THE HOST, Stephenie Meyer’s first book for adults, which revolves around alien “souls” taking over the minds and bodies of humans; BORDERLINE, Nevada Barr’s latest Anna Pigeon novel that finds the National Park Service Ranger in a fragile mental state after returning from a harrowing experience in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; RELENTLESS, Dean Koontz’s chilling story of a likable, successful family man who is drawn into a confrontation with a foe of unimaginable malice; SUMMER ON BLOSSOM STREET by Debbie Macomber, whose protagonist --- Lydia Goetz, owner of A Good Yarn on Seattle’s Blossom Street --- offers a class called “Knit to Quit” for people who want to quit something (or someone) and start a new phase of their lives; THE MEMORIST, M.J. Rose's riveting follow-up to THE REINCARNATIONIST, in which a strange letter sets a woman on a journey to unlock the mystery of who she once was; and THE GIRLS FROM AMES by Jeffrey Zaslow, a moving tribute to female friendships, with the inspiring true story of 11 girls and the 10 women they became.

Books into Movies
Rediscover your punk roots this month as the buzzworthy music biopic
The Runaways hits the big screen in wide release on April 9th. Written and directed by artist and music video director Floria Sigismondi, this coming-of-age drama follows a couple of spunky, rebellious teens as they form the now-legendary all-girl band that gave rise to icons Joan Jett, Cherie Currie and Lita Ford.

And in case you missed it last winter, Peter Jackson’s
The Lovely Bones --- based on Alice Sebold’s heartwrenching debut novel about a young girl who watches over her family from beyond the grave --- is releasing on DVD April 20th.

Don't Miss
MATTERHORN : A Novel of the Vietnam War, by Karl Marlantes (Historical Fiction)
Written over the course of 30 years by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, MATTERHORN is the timeless story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood.
- Click here to read an excerpt from MATTERHORN.
- Click here to watch an interview with Karl Marlantes.

THE THINGS THEY CARRIED: Twentieth Anniversary Edition, by Tim O'Brien (Historical Fiction)
THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, which burst onto the literary scene 20 years ago, is a groundbreaking meditation on war, memory, imagination and the redemptive power of storytelling. The novel depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O'Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of 43.
- Click here to read more about THE THINGS THEY CARRIED.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for THE THINGS THEY CARRIED.

Fantasy Author Spotlight
Georgina Kincaid has formidable powers. Immortality, seduction, shape-shifting into any human form she desires, walking in heels that would cripple mere mortals --- all child’s play to a succubus like her.
- Click here to read Richelle Mead's bio.
- Click here to see Richelle Mead's backlist
- Click here to read an excerpt from SUCCUBUS SHADOWS.
- Click here to read more about SUCCUBUS SHADOWS.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

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