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Friday, May 28, 2010

May 28, 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, May 28th.

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

1,000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE by Patricia Schultz
THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
SCOUT, ATTICUS AND BOO: A Celebration of Fifty Years of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Mary Murphy
PEEP SHOW by Joshua Braff

Reviews and Excerpts

THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST is the stunning third and final novel in Stieg Larsson’s internationally bestselling trilogy. Lisbeth Salander lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. If and when she recovers, she will plot revenge --- against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST.

BODILY HARM by Robert Dugoni (Legal Thriller)
New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni delivers his most exhilarating thriller to date with BODILY HARM, a pulse-pounding story of corporate greed, espionage, and the lengths to which one man is willing to go for justice. When parents lose their six-year-old son to an esteemed pediatrician’s seeming negligence, they turn to Seattle attorney David Sloane for justice. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from BODILY HARM.
- Click here to read Robert Dugoni's bio.
- Click here to see Robert Dugoni's backlist.
- Click here to read critical praise for BODILY HARM.
- Click here to read a blog post from Robert Dugoni's mother, Patty.

VICIOUS by Kevin O’Brien (Thriller)
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… Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- 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 Kevin O'Brien's blog post about his mother, Adele.

THE KILLING ROOM by John Manning (Thriller)
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. One by one, members of the Young family are chosen to die. The only way for Carolyn to uncover the shocking truth is to enter the room no one has ever left alive. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE KILLING ROOM.
- Click here to read John Manning's bio.
- Click here to see John Manning's backlist.
- Click here to read critical praise for THE KILLING ROOM.

NEVER LESS THAN A LADY by Mary Jo Putney (Historical Romance)
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. Reviewed by Jennifer McCord.
- Click here to read an excerpt from NEVER LESS THAN A LADY.
- Click here to read Mary Jo Putney's bio.
- Click here to see Mary Jo Putney's backlist.
- Click here to read critical praise for NEVER LESS THAN A LADY.

MISS YOU MOST OF ALL by Elizabeth Bass (Fiction)
In this unsentimental yet thoroughly tender tale, Laura and Rue's once-despised and long gone ex-stepsister returns to their farm, which has been transformed into a bed and breakfast called Sassy Spinster Farm. The three women search for, stumble upon, and/or attempt to avoid redemption in a gripping plot filled with farm chores, music, movies, suspense, personality conflicts, joy, heartbreak --- and love of all kinds. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.
- Click here to read an excerpt from MISS YOU MOST OF ALL.
- Click here to read Elizabeth Bass's bio.
- Click here to read critical praise for MISS YOU MOST OF ALL.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF DRAGONS by Katie MacAlister (Romance)
Hunky hero, spunky heroine --- romance-novel conventions rule in this book, but they’re spiced with dragons, demons, magicians, and hot sex. Fans of Katie MacAlister, a prolific tale spinner, won’t be disappointed, and newcomers will be charmed by her tantalizing mix of genres. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.
- Click here to read an excerpt from LOVE IN THE TIME OF DRAGONS.
- Click here to read Katie MacAlister's bio.
- Click here to see Katie MacAlister's backlist.
- Click here to read critical praise for LOVE IN THE TIME OF DRAGONS.

STORM PREY by John Sandford (Thriller)
On a bitterly cold Minnesota morning, three big men burst through the door of a hospital pharmacy, duct-tape the hands, feet, mouth and eyes of two pharmacy workers, and clean the place out. But then one of the workers dies, and the robbers hustle out to their truck --- and find themselves for just one second face-to-face with a blond woman in the garage: Weather Karkinnen, surgeon, wife of an investigator named Lucas Davenport. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from STORM PREY.

HANNAH’S LIST by Debbie Macomber (Fiction)
Occasionally, we get an opportunity to change our lives --- whether it’s another chance at love, changing the path we’ve chosen, or going back and making amends for the past. HANNAH’S LIST is the story of a widower who is given an unexpected letter from his wife on the first anniversary of her death. In a remarkable act of love, Hannah includes a list of three women for him to consider marrying. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE IMPERFECTIONISTS by Tom Rachman (Fiction)
Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman’s wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it --- and themselves --- afloat. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

CITY OF FEAR by David Hewson (Thriller)
It’s the height of the tourist season in Rome, and security is tight as world leaders gather for a G8 summit. While politicians bicker behind the walls of the illustrious Palazzo del Quirinale, a terrible threat is lurking outside. Detective Nic Costa and the men and women of the Questura must work in secret to thwart a conspiracy that reaches higher than any of them could have imagined. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
- Click here to read an excerpt from CITY OF FEAR.

THE SUMMER WE READ GATSBY by Danielle Ganek (Fiction)
When their Aunt Lydia dies, half-sisters Peck and Cassie converge on her summer house in the Hamptons to carry out the wishes stipulated in her will. Aunt Lydia would like them to spend one last summer at the house before selling it and, while there, find a thing of utmost value. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

A MOSQUE IN MUNICH: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West by Ian Johnson (History)
Even at this late date, the west has many unanswered questions about Islam --- its origins, its intentions toward us, its inner workings. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ian Johnson presents a detailed examination of one surprising answer to some these questions. The history lesson he teaches may be one we ignore at our peril. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

Author Interviews
Robert Dugoni
Robert Dugoni’s fourth novel, the legal thriller BODILY HARM, features recurring protagonist David Sloane as he takes on a toy manufacturer guilty of prioritizing profit over social responsibility. In this interview with’s Joe Hartlaub, Dugoni explains how the final draft of the novel differed from its initial inception and describes how a recent personal tragedy impacted his writing. He also gives insight into his creative process, shares tips for aspiring authors --- such as overcoming writer’s block and balancing one’s day job while simultaneously working on a book --- and briefly hints at Sloane’s next adventure, due out in 2011.

Kevin O'Brien
Kevin O’Brien is the bestselling author of 10 thrillers, including ONE LAST SCREAM, FINAL BREATH, and the newly released VICIOUS. In this interview with’s Joe Hartlaub, O'Brien talks about the unusual inspiration for this latest novel and his painstaking yet tried-and-true method of outlining each of his books. O’Brien also gives some background information on his writers’ group, the Seattle7, explains the impact of Alfred Hitchcock’s work on his career, and hints at what readers can expect from his next release, DISTURBED.

John Manning follows up last year’s acclaimed thriller, ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS, with THE KILLING ROOM --- a ghost story centering on a vengeful spirit that is slowly killing off members of an elite family. In this interview with’s Joe Hartlaub, Manning discusses the literary and pop influences that inspired the story’s plot, and explains the thought process behind creating his archetypal main characters. He also shares an interesting family secret, weighs in on the existence of ghosts, and names some of his favorite horror movies released over the past 30 years.

Elizabeth Bass
Familial relationships take center stage in Elizabeth Bass’s debut work of fiction, MISS YOU MOST OF ALL, which explores the dynamic between two sisters who --- upon transforming their family farm into an agriculturally-minded bed and breakfast --- are forced to take in their estranged younger stepsister. In this interview with’s Terry Miller Shannon, Bass explains how writing this novel acted as a form of homecoming and reveals which of the main characters she feels she can identify with the most. She also elaborates on her use of humor in her work, shares a list of some of her favorite classic “comfort” movies, and talks about her next project, WHEREVER GRACE IS NEEDED.

Katie MacAlister
Katie MacAlister is the author of numerous historical, contemporary and paranormal romance novels, including the Dark Ones and Aisling Gray, Guardian series, not to mention the newly released LOVE IN THE TIME OF DRAGONS, which revisits the people and places from her previous titles. In this interview with’s Kathy Weissman, MacAlister explains what prompted her to begin this new chapter in the lives of already familiar characters and gives insight into how she creates the humorous tone in her work. She also shares her thoughts on the mass appeal of supernatural beings in fiction, reflects on the industry’s tendency to unfairly stigmatize certain genres, and describes the positive response her work has received from fans.

Summer Beach Bag Contest
Whether your "beach" is on sand, your backyard deck, or a grassy meadow in the country, the summer months mean it's time for "beach reading." is celebrating the lazy days of summer reading with our Sixth Annual feature and contests.

During select weeks from May 28th through September 3rd, we will highlight a different book or collection of books from these featured titles with a contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with the featured book(s) and summertime essentials. Five FABULOUS beach bags will be given away each week, as well as five copies of the featured book(s) to additional winners.

Our current featured Beach Bag titles are:

- PERFECTION: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz

Fifth Annual Father's Day Contest
Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the men in our lives who have raised and inspired us. Why not show him your appreciation by inspiring him with a great book? From May 28th through June 14th, readers will have the chance to win one of our five Father’s Day Cooler Tote Bags. Each gray cooler tote bag is filled with a copy of our 12 featured titles, giving dad a book to read each month and making Father’s Day truly a yearlong celebration. Also included are a variety of handy and fun items that we know he’ll love.

Our featured Father’s Day titles are:

- COOP: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg by Michael Perry
- CRAZY FOR THE STORM: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad
-DON’T LET ME GO: What My Daughter Taught Me About the Journey Every Parent Must Make by David W. Pierce
- LOSING MY COOL: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture by Thomas Chatterton Williams
- MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Father, Husband and Son by Michael Chabon
- NORTH BY NORTHWESTERN: A Seafaring Family on Deadly Alaskan Waters by Captain Sig Hansen and Mark Sundeen
- THE PACIFIC by Hugh Ambrose
- RAIDERS FROM THE NORTH: Empire of the Moghul by Alex Rutherford
- SHOP CLASS AS SOULCRAFT: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford
- UNFINISHED BUSINESS: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things by Lee Kravitz

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
THE EXILE by Andrew Britton
For the President of the United States, the horror of life in West Darfur just hit too close to home. His niece Lily, a nurse caring for Sudanese refugees, has been murdered by a corps of fearsome government-backed militia. Any response will destabilize the region and threaten the security of the world. America is out of options. Except one: Ryan Kealey.
- Click here to read more about THE EXILE.
- Click here to read Andrew Britton's bio.
- Click here to see Andrew Britton's backlist.

One to Watch Author Spotlight
On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much-anticipated wedding. Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to get back East for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the storm and drop him in Denver to catch a connection. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, if barely, Ben offers the seat to Ashley knowing that she needs to get back just as urgently. And then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness --- one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US.

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 a review of PERFECTION,
- Click here to read a third excerpt from PERFECTION.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for PERFECTION.
- Click here to read an interview with Julie Metz
- Click here to read Julie Metz's bio.
- Click here to read critical praise for PERFECTION.

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