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Friday, May 14, 2010

May 14, 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, May 14th.

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

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
by Jeff Kinney
THE BOURNE OBJECTIVE by Eric Van Lustbader
SEAWORTHY by Linda Greenlaw
LETTERS TO JULIET by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman
THE LION by Nelson DeMille

Reviews and Excerpts

HEART OF THE MATTER by Emily Giffin (Fiction)
In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
- Click here to read an excerpt from HEART OF THE MATTER.
- Click here to read Emily Giffin's bio.
- Click here to read a blog post from Emily Giffin and her mother, Mary Ann Elgin.
- Click here to see Emily Giffin's backlist.
- Click here to read critical praise for HEART OF THE MATTER.

WAR by Sebastian Junger
(Current Events)
Journalist Sebastian Junger spent the better part of a year embedded with a combat platoon in Afghanistan. With WAR, he returns with an intense and unflinching look at the almost inhuman difficulty of the task they face and the bonds that compel them to perform it. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

FEVER DREAM by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Thriller)
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child return with another complex thriller featuring the Sherlock Holmes-like FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast and his frequent partner, Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta of the NYPD. This case once again delves into Pendergast’s past as he finds evidence that his wife’s death 12 years earlier in Africa may not have been an accident after all. Reviewed by Ray Palen.
- Click here to read an excerpt from FEVER DREAM.

PRIVATE LIFE by Jane Smiley (Historical Fiction)
PRIVATE LIFE is a compelling historical drama from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley that traverses the intimate landscape of one woman’s life, from the 1880s to World War II. Reviewed by Ray Palen.
- Click here to read an excerpt from PRIVATE LIFE.

THE SWIMMING POOL by Holly LeCraw (Fiction)
Holly LeCraw questions whether the mistakes of one generation are doomed to be repeated by the next in THE SWIMMING POOL, an intricate novel of passion, deception, and the secrets that keep families together and tear them apart. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE SWIMMING POOL.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for THE SWIMMING POOL.
- Click here to read Holly LeCraw’s blog post about THE SWIMMING POOL.

HEROES FOR MY SON by Brad Meltzer (Inspirational/Parenting)
When Brad Meltzer welcomed his first child into the world, he started keeping a list of heroes whose virtues and talents he wanted his son to share when he grew up. HEROES FOR MY SON is a collection of 54 extraordinary men and women, some celebrated across the globe and some lesser-known, but each in their own right a hero. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE MAP OF TRUE PLACES by Brunonia Barry (Fiction)
Brunonia Barry’s bestselling debut novel, THE LACE READER, was a powerful family saga with an especially strong sense of place. As the title of her second book hints, THE MAP OF TRUE PLACES also concerns itself with geography --- as much with the sometimes rocky landscapes of family relationships and internal struggles as with the real-world places we inhabit. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

FALCON SEVEN by James W. Huston
New York Times bestselling author James W. Huston returns with yet another powerful thriller. Exploding with international intrigue, sizzling courtroom drama, and heart-stopping action, FALCON SEVEN delivers an all-too-realistic tale of America under fire. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DIE TWICE by Andrew Grant (Thriller)
A race is on to stop an agent gone bad from selling toxic gas to foreign terrorists. David Trevellyan, first seen in EVEN, returns with a vengeance, and he will stop at nothing to prevent mass destruction and ferret out a traitor among his ranks. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

PEARL OF CHINA by Anchee Min (Historical Fiction)
In this ambitious and moving new novel, Anchee Min, the acclaimed author of EMPRESS ORCHID and RED AZALEA, brings to life a courageous and passionate woman who loved the country of her childhood and who has been hailed in China as a modern heroine. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for PEARL OF CHINA.

THE ARK by Boyd Morrison
When a biblical myth becomes reality, a madman decides to impose his own interpretation of the Bible on humanity. Standing in his way are an archaeologist and an engineer, who know what’s at stake and are the only two who can stop him from carrying out his plan. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

THE WAR LOVERS: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898 by Evan Thomas (History)
On February 15, 1898, the American ship USS Maine mysteriously exploded in the Havana Harbor. Bestselling historian Evan Thomas brings us the full story of this monumental turning point in American history. THE WAR LOVERS takes us from Boston mansions to the halls of Congress to the beaches of Cuba and the jungles of the Philippines. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

DAUGHTERS OF FORTUNE by Tara Hyland (Ficiton)
DAUGHTERS OF FORTUNE is the riveting saga of Elizabeth, Caitlin, and Amber, three sisters born to fashion magnate William Melville and their transformation from wayward, privileged girls into talented, beautiful women as they strive to find their place in the family business, in their father's heart, and in the world at large. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

CITY OF DRAGONS by Kelli Stanley (Historical Mystery)
Fireworks explode in February 1940 as San Francisco celebrates Chinese New Year with a Rice Bowl Party, designed to raise money and support for China war relief. When private investigator Miranda Corbie stumbles upon the fatally shot body of Eddie Takahashi, the Chamber of Commerce wants it covered up and the cops acquiesce. All Miranda wants is justice --- whatever it costs. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Now Available in Paperback
Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key secreted within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest to find out who this woman was, and to unearth a rare colonial artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge of herbs and other, stranger things.
- Click here to read more about Katherine Howe and THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE.

Author Interviews
Emily Giffin
Emily Giffin is the author of five novels, including SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLUE, BABY PROOF and LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH. In this interview with’s Norah Piehl, Giffin recalls the event that inspired her latest work of fiction, HEART OF THE MATTER, and describes the appeal of creating flawed but sympathetic characters. She also discusses the ways in which her work has evolved over the years, reveals her most and least memorable experiences on tour, and shares details about her involvement with big-screen adaptations of her books.

Ben Farmer
Inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem of the same name, Ben Farmer’s EVANGELINE chronicles a young woman’s decade-long search for her fiancé, from whom she was separated during the Acadian exodus in 1755 from present-day Nova Scotia to Louisiana. In this interview with’s Eileen Zimmerman Nicol, Farmer explains what he finds appealing about Longfellow’s poem, and discusses the challenges he faced in taking liberties with the narrative without conflicting with his source material, as well as with historical fact. He also elaborates on the strengths and weaknesses of his main characters, describes his lengthy and painstaking editing process, and shares details about the two novels he’s currently working on.

Author Talks

Jane Smiley
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley’s numerous books include GOOD FAITH, A THOUSAND ACRES, and the newly released PRIVATE LIFE --- a work of historical fiction based loosely on distant relatives that provides an intimate portrait of the difficult relationship one woman shares with her renowned scientist husband at the turn of the century. In this interview, Smiley elaborates on the book’s theme of marriage and all its complexities, and shares some background information on the great aunt and uncle who inspired protagonists Margaret Mayfield and Andrew Early. She also discusses how she blended historical fact with fiction, and reveals what she eventually learned about her flawed, but ultimately sympathetic, characters.

Holly LaCraw
In this interview, Holly LeCraw discusses the slow evolution of her debut novel, THE SWIMMING POOL, and sheds light on the motivations behind her characters’ unlikely behavior. She also explains the initial reason for writing the narrative from several perspectives, reveals the book’s few autobiographical details, and talks a bit about her next work, tentatively titled THE SWEETNESS OF HONEY.

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
VICIOUS by Kevin O'Brien
For more than two years, he held Seattle in a terror grip. A cold-blooded killer who abducted young mothers right in front of their sons and murdered them execution style. Then, as suddenly as the killings began, they seemed to stop. Susan Blanchette is looking forward to a relaxing weekend getaway with her fiancé, Allen, and young son Matthew. But something about the remote lake house doesn’t feel right. A woman vanished from the area a year ago, and now Susan thinks she’s spotted someone lurking around the property. And when Allen disappears, her fear grows…
- Click here to read an excerpt from VICIOUS.
- Click here to read Kevin O'Brien's bio.
- Click here to see Kevin O'Brien's backlist.
- Click here to read critical praise for VICIOUS.
- Click here to read more about VICIOUS.
- Click here to read a blog post from Kevin O'Brien.

BODILY HARM by Robert Dugoni
In his return as “the lawyer who does not lose,” David Sloane is on the verge of another victory, but something about the malpractice case has bothered him from the start. His uneasiness grows when toy designer Kyle Horgan confronts him on the way to the verdict to claim responsibility not only for the child’s death, but also for the fate of a second young boy in central Washington.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from BODILY HARM.

THE KILLING ROOM by John Manning
Old houses have their secrets. The Young residence --- a beautiful Maine mansion overlooking the Atlantic--is no exception. But the secrets here are different. Carolyn Cartwright, private detective and ex-FBI agent, has been hired by Howard Young to investigate a string of gruesome family deaths. The crimes are horrific, brutal, and senseless. One-by-one, members of the Young family are chosen to die. Old and young, weak and strong, no one is safe from a killer with a limitless thirst for revenge. And the only way for Carolyn to uncover the shocking truth is to enter the room no one has ever left alive.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from THE KILLING ROOM.

FLIGHT OF SHADOWS by Sigmund Brouwer
She escaped the religious enclave of Appalachia. But peace and freedom are even further out of reach for Caitlyn as the myriad dangers pursuing her threaten to crush her last shred of hope. Will she ever discover the truth of her origin? A lightning-fast chase through an all-too-plausible future, bestselling author Sigmund Brouwer is at his best in this terrifying ride into the heart of compelling moral questions about science and society.
- Click here to read a third excerpt from FLIGHT OF SHADOWS.

One to Watch Author Spotlight
PERFECTION by Julie Metz
Julie Metz’s life changed forever on one ordinary January afternoon when her husband, Henry, collapsed on the kitchen floor and died in her arms. Suddenly, this mother of a 6-year-old became the young widow in her bucolic small town. But that was only the beginning. Seven months after Henry’s death, just when Julie thought she was emerging from the worst of it, came the rest of it: Henry had hidden another life from her. PERFECTION is the story of rebuilding both a life and an identity after betrayal and widowhood. It is a story of betrayal and widowhood. It is a story of rebirth and happiness --- if not perfection.
- Click here to read an excerpt from PERFECTION.
- Click here to read Julie Metz's bio.
- Click here to read critical praise for PERFECTION.
- Click here to read more about PERFECTION.

MISS YOU MOST OF ALL by Elizabeth Bass
Sassy Spinster Farm is a place to find solace. At least, that's what it's become since Rue Anderson and her sister Laura transformed their childhood Texas homestead into a successful tourist destination. It's where guests flock to get their hands dirty and taste food fresh from the garden. And it's where Rue is raising her preteen daughter on her own--while trying to keep her outspoken sister in check. It's not easy, but together, it seems there's nothing the two can't handle--until an unexpected, and not entirely welcome guest shows up in the middle of one warm summer night.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from MISS YOU MOST OF ALL.

Historical Romance Author Spotlight
As the sole remaining heir to the Earl of Daventry, Alexander Randall knows his duty: find a wife and sire a son of his own. The perfect bride for a man in his position would be a biddable young girl of good breeding. But the woman who haunts his imagination is Julia Bancroft --- a village midwife with a dark secret that thrusts her into Randall's protection.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from NEVER LESS THAN A LADY.

Montgomery de Piaget attracts responsibilities like blossoms lure bees. Where other knights have bonny brides, laughing children and noble quests, he has the task of rebuilding the most dilapidated castle in all of England. A bit of magic might aid him --- if only he still believed in that sort of thing. When Pippa Alexander is invited to England to provide costumes for an upscale party, she jumps at the chance to showcase her own line of fairytale-inspired designs. Not that she believes in fairy tales, or magic that whispers along the hallways of an honest-to-goodness medieval castle… But the castle is full of more than cobwebs, and danger lurks in unexpected places.
- Click here to read a third excerpt from ONE ENCHANTED EVENING.

Historical Fiction Author Spotlight
BY FIRE, BY WATER by Mitchell James Kaplan
Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. Santángel is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him a target of the brutal Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel takes retribution into his own hands, simultaneously growing ever closer to a beautiful Jewish silversmith, Judith Migdal.
- Click here to read a third excerpt from BY FIRE, BY WATER.

Women's Fiction Author Spotlight
Tully Sullivan is just like any other suburban mom --- unless you count the days every year that she zones out and turns base metals into gold. Those are weird. And now she’s woken up in a strange place surrounded by strange people who keep insisting that they’re dragons --- and that she’s one, too. But not just any dragon. She’s Ysolde de Bouchier, a famed figure from dragon history.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from LOVE IN THE TIME OF DRAGONS.

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