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Friday, September 24, 2010

September 24, 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on Friday, September 24.

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

THE TRINITY SIX by Charles Cumming

FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen(Fiction)
There is a certain amount of hubris involved in titling a novel with a word as capacious and controversial as “freedom.” Happily, Jonathan Franzen has the ability to produce a work fully worthy of that portentous term. He has done that with integrity, compassion and humor in a story that is as real as your next-door neighbors and as rich with contemporary relevance as tonight’s cable news broadcast. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.
-Click here to see the Reading Group Guide for FREEDOM.

DON’T CRY by Beverly Barton (Romantic Suspense)

J.D. Cass is a special agent called in to help the Chattanooga Police Department solve a series of grisly murders. Audrey Sherrod is a grief counselor who has experienced grief firsthand. J.D. and Audrey cross paths after the “Rocking Chair Killer” is connected with horrific crimes committed decades earlier. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt and excerpted.

-Click here to read an excerpt of DON'T CRY.

MINI SHOPAHOLIC by Sophie Kinsella (Fiction)
Becky Brandon thought that having a daughter would give her a shopping friend for life. But motherhood is harder than she thought: two-year-old Minnie’s favorite word is “mine,” and she’s constantly creating havoc. And on top of everything else, there’s a huge financial crisis. Now Becky can’t afford a surprise party for her husband, and she must decide whether or not to accept help from an unexpected source at the risk of hurting the man she loves. Reviewed by Marge Fletcher and excerpted.

-Click here to read an excerpt of MINI SHOPAHOLIC.

A NOSE FOR JUSTICE by Rita Mae Brown (Mystery)

With the ruins of her high-powered Wall Street job in her rearview mirror, Mags Rogers arrives at her great-aunt Jeep’s ranch to reassemble her life. But when someone pipe-bombs a nearby pumping station, things soon go south for Mags and her aunt. The sabotage is linked to a string of local murders, and human bones are found in Jeep’s barn. Now Mags must help solve a mystery that’s as old as Buffalo Bill. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

-Click here to read an excerpt of A NOSE FOR JUSTICE.

-Visit Rita Mae Brown's official website,

SAFE HAVEN by Nicholas Sparks (Fiction)

The suspense is palpable in this gripping love story, with an amazing twist in the tale. When an intriguing young woman meets a widower with two children, will her dark secret past prevent a love connection? Nicholas Sparks's fans will devour SAFE HAVEN, which is sure to attract a whole new crowd of admirers. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

BAD BLOOD: A Virgil Flowers Novel, by John Sandford (Thriller)

When Virgil Flowers arrives on the scene to investigate the “accidental” killing of a soybean farmer in southern Minnesota, he immediately breaks down the witness. But the next morning, the boy’s body is found hanging in his cell, and for veteran field agent Flowers, what initially appeared to be a cut-and-dry case quickly turns into a multi-generation conspiracy --- a series of crimes so monstrous that even he finds them difficult to fathom. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE DEVIL: A Jack Taylor Novel, by Ken Bruen (Thriller)

America is the land of opportunity --- or at least for everyone but PI Jack Taylor. After being denied entry, Jack meets an eerily well-informed stranger at an airport bar, but forgets about him after resuming his old life in Galway. Yet when Jack is called to investigate a murder, the mysterious man resurfaces. After several more murders and many more coincidences, it seems that Jack has finally met his nemesis in an acquaintance who might just be the devil himself. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

MAN IN THE WOODS by Scott Spencer (Psychological Thriller)

What does it mean to get away with murder? This new novel by Scott Spencer --- author of A SHIP MADE OF PAPER, WAKING THE DEAD and the international bestseller ENDLESS LOVE --- depicts a good man who, in a moment of overwhelming rage, does something that is as bad as it gets. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

PIRATES OF THE LEVANT by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Historical Fiction)

Accompanied by his foster son Íñigo, Captain Alatriste accepts a job as a mercenary aboard a Spanish galleon. Their journey takes them to the most wretched outposts of the empire, culminating in a bloody battle that challenges even Alatriste’s hard-won resolve --- and creates tensions between foster father and son. For as Íñigo prepares to leave his mentor, he will find out if age really brings wisdom…or if he is condemned to repeat Alatriste’s mistakes.Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds.

THE EINSTEIN ENIGMA by Jose Rodrigues dos Santos (Thriller)

On an unremarkable night in 1951, Albert Einstein met with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion at his small home in Princeton. Their discussion: nuclear weapons and the existence of God. Now, nearly 60 years later, world-famous cryptanalyst Thomas Noronha is hired by Ariana Pakravan to decipher part of a document that’s being heavily guarded in Tehran, and it’s up to the two of them to find out why. The manuscript: Einstein’s Die Gottesformel: The God Formula. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

THE MOSES EXPEDITION by Juan Gomez-Jurado (Thriller)

After years of searching, CIA operative and Vatican Secret Service Agent Father Anthony Fowler has finally found the Butcher of Spiegelgrund, a Nazi war criminal who’s been hiding for 50 years. But when a recovered stolen candle reveals the missing piece of a map to the Ten Commandments, Fowler suddenly finds himself on an expedition to Jordan. And unknown to him, there’s a deadly traitor in his midst --- one who might strike at any moment. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Seventy-five years ago, a madman nicknamed the Torso Killer terrorized Cleveland and was never caught. So when a decaying, decapitated body is found, everyone assumes it’s a newly discovered victim, including forensic scientist Theresa MacClean. But when more bodies turn up, Theresa’s case takes on a whole new meaning. Now she must find the lunatic intent on bringing the past back to life --- and try to avoid the killer’s watchful eye. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

YELLOW DIRT: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed, by Judy Pasternak (History)

On a craggy mesa in the northern reaches of the Navajo reservation lies what used to be a world-class uranium mine called Monument No. 2. Discovered in the 1940s, this lode affected the lives of hundreds of Native Americans and their families for generations to come.Transporting readers into a rarely glimpsed world, Judy Pasternak gives voice to the Navajo people’s perceptions, their complicated involvement with uranium mining and the story of their political coming-of-age. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

Author Talk

Lane Smith

Caldecott Honor recipient Lane Smith is wooing audiences once again with his most recent illustrated work, IT’S A BOOK, a story about a book-loving monkey, a tech-savvy jackass and a straight-talking mouse that reminds readers of all ages just why they became bookworms in the first place. In this interview, Smith talks about his inspiration for his latest tale and the books that influenced him as a child, weighing in on the debate over the perks of technology and the importance of print, and sharing a few of his favorite authors. He also addresses some of the controversies that have surrounded his previous picture books, speculates on why grown-ups are always underestimating kids, and muses on how being torn between three states has affected his work.

Author Interviews

Beverly Barton

New York Times bestselling author Beverly Barton has readers hanging on to their seats once again with her latest novel, DON’T CRY, which follows grief counselor Audrey Sherrod and Special Agent J.D. Cass as they try to unlock the key to a string of grisly murders, only to discover that the truth might lie in a series of horrific crimes that have long since been forgotten --- or at least by everyone but Audrey. In this interview with’s Donna Volkenannt, Barton discusses the places and people that inspired her most recent novel, revealing how she managed to portray a realistic police investigation and why she chose historic Chattanooga as a setting. She also contemplates Cracker Barrel’s reaction to one of the book’s creepiest murder scenes, speculates on why serial killers seem so normal, and reveals her plans for a spellbinding sequel.

Tillie Harris has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. Her husband is in Europe on a business trip that he wants to get behind him before their baby is born; she is due the following month. Thus when her labor pains begin, this plan is foiled, and she has only one person to reach out and call --- her father from whom she has been estranged. At this very vulnerable time, Tillie is forced to dredge up a number of memories that she has been trying to push away since she was a young girl --- about the year her mother disappeared.

While the story opens and closes with Tillie as an adult, her eight-year-old voice will be the one you will remember most. Her want and need to make her life normal --- and the utterly powerful love of Tillie for her mom --- is always there, pushing her to see a better life than what is real. Over and over again, she forgives and tries to make things right. Nothing in this book unfolds quite the way you would predict --- but what you read will haunt you. And it will be the kind of book you want to talk about once it’s done.

This is one of the strongest debut novels that I have read. As I was reading, Tillie Harris reminded me of the young girl in ME AND EMMA, another book that I loved a few years ago, where there again was a plucky girl at the heart of the story. Don’t miss this brilliant paperback original that people are sure to be talking about.

-Click here to read more about UP FROM THE BLUE

-Click here to see all the titles we're betting you'll love.

In this delightfully snarky picture book sure to tickle readers of all ages, a patient monkey tries to read while his progressive yet clueless jackass buddy struggles to figure out what a nonelectronic gadget called a "book" might possibly have going for it. Filled with sassy attitude and impudent humor, Lane Smith's love letter to old-fangled, turn-the-page books is irresistible.

-Click here to read a review of IT'S A BOOK.

-Click here to read an author talk with Lane Smith.

One to Watch Author Spotlight

BREAKING NIGHT: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray (Memoir)

In the vein of THE GLASS CASTLE, BREAKING NIGHT is the stunning memoir of a young woman who at age 15 was living on the streets, and who eventually made it into Harvard.

Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. In school she was taunted for her dirty clothing and lice-infested hair, eventually skipping so many classes that she was put into a girls’ home. At age 15, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep.

-Click here to read an excerpt from BREAKING NIGHT.

-Click here to watch a video about BREAKING NIGHT.

-Click here to read Liz Murray's bio.

-Click here to read more about BREAKING NIGHT.

Romantic Suspense Author Spotlight

DON'T CRY by Beverly Barton (Romantic Suspense)

The crime scenes are horrifying: the victims arranged with deliberate care, posed to appear alive despite their agonized last moments and the shocking nature of their deaths. Chattanooga grief counselor Audrey Sherrod moonlights for the local police. It’s clear to her, and to Special Agent J.D. Cass, that the murders are the work of a deranged serial killer. At first, the only link is the victims’ similar physical appearance. But then another connection emerges, tying them to a long-ago series of horrifying crimes Audrey hoped would never resurface --- crimes that hit all too close to home. Each grisly new discovery proves the past has not been forgotten, and the worst is yet to come. Audrey went looking for the truth and she’s about to find it…and it will be more twisted and more terrifying than she ever imagined.

-Click here to read a third excerpt of DON'T CRY.

-Click here to watch a book trailer of DON'T CRY.

-Click here to read a review of DON'T CRY.

-Click here to watch an interview with Beverly Barton.

-Click here to read an interview with Beverly Barton.

-Click here to read Beverly Barton's bio.

-Click here to see Beverly Barton's backlist.

-Click here to read more about DON'T CRY.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

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