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Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010

The following interviews, reviews and features began running on on Friday, October 15th.

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

BREAKING NIGHT by Liz Murray (Memoir)

Written in the vein of THE GLASS CASTLE, BREAKING NIGHT is the stunning memoir of a young woman who was born to loving but drug-addicted parents. Taunted for her dirty clothes and lice-infested hair, Liz Murray skipped so many classes as a child that she was put into a girls’ home. At age 15 she was sleeping on the streets…and two years later, she found herself at Harvard. Reviewed by Alexis Burling and excerpted.

-Click here to read an excerpt from BREAKING NIGHT.

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR by John le Carré (Thriller)

When they splurge on a tennis vacation in Antigua, Perry and Gail are idealistic and in love. But Antigua’s charm begins to pall when a big-time Russian money launderer convinces them to help him defect from his criminal brotherhood. Now the guileless couple is caught in a deadly endgame that can end only when a winner emerges from the British Secret Service’s ruthless, internecine battles. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum and excerpted.

-Click here to read an excerpt from OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

THE PROSTITUTES’ BALL by Stephen J. Cannell (Thriller)

When LAPD Detective Shane Scully responds to a call at a once-immaculate mansion, the place is deserted --- except for three dead bodies, all shot with the same gun. But when Scully starts investigating what looks like an open-and-shut case, things take a turn for the worse. Now Scully and his new partner are caught in a killer’s crosshairs as they close in on the answer to a decades-old crime. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE PROSTITUTES' BALL.

GREAT HOUSE by Nicole Krauss (Fiction)

For 25 years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing on a desk she inherited from a Chilean poet taken by Pinochet’s secret police…until a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter sends the writer’s life reeling. And while a man across the ocean unravels a terrible secret, an antiques dealer in Jerusalem reassembles his father’s study. As these individuals confess, the poet’s desk takes on more meaning, binding them all to what has disappeared. Reviewed by Norah Piehl and excerpted.

-Click here to read an excerpt from GREAT HOUSE.

THE PERFECT LOVE SONG: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry (Romance)

Jimmy Sullivan and his brother, Jack, lead a life of music and anonymous cities. But when Jimmy falls in love and writes the lyrics to the “Perfect Love Song,” he gets catapulted into a world of fame and fortune. A slave to his career, Jimmy finds himself alone on Christmas Eve in New York City. Now that he realizes what’s important to him, can he reunite with Jack and the girl behind his love song? Reviewed by Erin Hennicke.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE PERFECT LOVE SONG.

-Visit Patti Callahan Henry's official website,

AMERICAN ASSASSIN by Vince Flynn (Thriller)

Before he was a CIA super-agent, before he became a terrorist’s worst nightmare, and before he earned the loathing and admiration of everyone on Capitol Hill, Mitch Rapp was a star athlete without a care in the world…until the Pan Am Lockerbie attack changed his world forever. Now he’s a man on a mission that will bring him to the enemy’s doorstep, and he’ll need all the cunning he can muster in order to survive. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

FORBIDDEN PLACES by Penny Vincenzi (Historical Fiction)

Set in the English countryside during World War II, Penny Vincenzi’s eighth riveting family drama is about love, marriage and long-held secrets --- and how war tends to destroy every accepted social value. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

DEWEY'S NINE LIVES: The Legacy of the Small-Town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter (Pets/Essays)

DEWEY was a bestselling blockbuster and a publishing phenomenon. No doubt about it, Dewey has touched readers everywhere, helping them realize that no matter how ordinary their talents are or how difficult their lives might seem, they can make a positive difference for those around them. And now, Dewey is back again, sharing more heartwarming moments and inspiring life-lessons than ever before. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

TRAVELS IN SIBERIA by Ian Frazier (Travel)

Training his eye on the vast expanse of Asiatic Russia, Ian Frazier explores this storied (and often grim) region in unforgettable detail. Taking readers through the history of an area that takes up one-seventh of the land on earth, TRAVELING IN SIBERIA is more than just a historical travelogue brimming with Mongols, royalty and revolutionists --- it’s an account of Russia since the end of the Soviet Union and a personal reflection on its all-around amazingness. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

BOUND by Antonya Nelson (Fiction)

Antonya Nelson’s fourth novel is a quiet character study of the bonds of family and friendship, at times fragile and at others strong as steel. Nelson plumbs the interior lives of a small but intriguing collection of characters, probing for some understanding of these often inexplicable ties. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for BOUND.

THE WEEKEND by Bernhard Schlink (Fiction)

Old friends and lovers reunite for a weekend in a secluded country home after spending decades apart. The occasion is the welcoming home of Jorg, a convicted terrorist free after 24 years in prison. The weekend with friends and family will pull Jorg in many directions --- and quite possibly towards his own past. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE WEEKEND.

THE CAPITOL GAME by Brian Haig (Political Thriller)

When Wall Street banker Jack Wiley learns of a polymer with the power to change the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he thinks he’s found a dream come true. His plan is simple: enlist one of the nation’s most powerful corporations and execute a bloodless takeover of the developer. But when the Pentagon gets involved, Jack’s dream deal turns into a nightmare, putting his back against the wall in the greatest scandal America has ever seen. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

THE TYPIST by Michael Knight (Historical Fiction)

At the conclusion of World War II, Private First Class Francis “Van” Vancleave lands in Tokyo. Because of Van’s expert typing skills, he is assigned to the Officer Personnel Section, where he meets General Douglas “Bunny” MacArthur and witnesses firsthand the General’s love affair with the people of Japan. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

Author Talk

Liz Murray

Liz Murray is the author of BREAKING NIGHT, the awe-inspiring memoir about what it’s like to grow up in a dysfunctional household governed by drug-addicted parents and how she struggled to withstand the overwhelming odds that had been stacked against her. In this interview, Murray talks about how love can help people overcome the challenge of changing their lives, elaborating on the importance of community and the dangers of self-imposed limitations. She also discusses the differences between BREAKING NIGHT and the 2003 Lifetime movie inspired by her personal story, explains why her book doesn’t read like a “misery memoir” --- in spite of her horrific childhood --- and reveals why she decided to promote her stunning story the old-fashioned way: by driving across the country on a bus.

-Click here to read a review of BREAKING NIGHT.

Nicholas Evans

THE HORSE WHISPERER author Nicholas Evans is back with yet another amazing novel, THE BRAVE, which follows the life story of Tommy Bedford as he transforms from a quirky loner into an adult who is forced to confront his boyhood demons in order to re-forge a bond with his estranged son. In this video interview, Evans talks about the characters who have brought his most recent book to life, elaborating on Tommy’s troubled childhood and how his sister changes the way he sees his life. He also reveals how the sight of George W. Bush in a Stetson hat inspired Tommy’s obsession with cowboys and Indians, speculates on how the myth of the West has influenced the war in Iraq, and explains how his near-death experience informed his second attempt at his novel.

-Click here to read a review of THE BRAVE. Bets On

THE BRAVE by Nicholas Evans (October 12th)

Nicholas Evans has been a favorite author of mine for years. He writes brilliantly about human emotion and the human spirit. While he is best known for THE HORSE WHISPERER, I still am haunted by the story in THE DIVIDE, which brilliantly explored the unraveling of a marriage. There are lines he has written there that are brutally honest and refreshingly stark and bold. In each of his books, he treads into relationships that work only because he is brave enough to go there. And thinking of this, I realize how apt it is that his new book is called THE BRAVE.

Nicholas loves the American West and spent a lot of time during his childhood caught up in stories of cowboys and Indians. He loves old Westerns with their heroes seated high on horseback commanding their worlds from the saddle. I always find it amusing when we talk, and I hear his fabulous British accent describing with abject enthusiasm these quintessential American icons. Nicholas has ridden and hiked and explored more of the West than most Americans, and his rich attachment to this part of the country infuses this book.

THE BRAVE is multi-layered and ambitiously crafted, exploring the power of love, the haunting effect of family secrets and the bonds that tie people together. The book alternates between the past and the present, and the setting moves from a prep school in England to Hollywood and then to Montana. It is so original that it only could have been written by Nicholas Evans. I finished it and immediately pronounced it a Bets On selection. Saddle up and enjoy.

-Click here to read a review of THE BRAVE.

-Click here to read Nicholas Evans's bio.

-Visit Nicholas Evans's official website,

REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly (October 12th)

REVOLUTION is my first Young Adult Bets On selection. At a time when we see more and more adults reading young adult titles, this is one with clear crossover appeal. It’s set in both the present day and the French Revolution. History class is many years behind me at this point, but I found myself getting a wonderful refresher about Paris two centuries ago that made the city during the French Revolution come alive for me through the meticulous research of Jennifer Donnelly, who many of you know from her two adult novels, THE TEA ROSE and THE WINTER ROSE.

Andi, the modern character who lives in Brooklyn, has a number of issues with which to grapple. Her younger brother has died, something for which she blames herself, her father has a new wife and her mom is pretty much checked out. Combine that with the academic and social pressures of a swanky New York private school, and Andi becomes a teen with a lot to handle and not much support. When her father declares she will join him for winter break in Paris --- so he can monitor her getting her life and her senior thesis on track --- Andi goes kicking and screaming.

At a family friend’s home, she finds Alexandrine’s (love that name) diary, and from there she is caught up in the historical portion of the story that centers on Louis Charles, the young son ofLouis XVI and Marie Antoinette. While we all know his parents’ fate, most will not know what happened to the children they left behind. Donnelly has done an award-winning job of bringing the stories together. There also is a wonderful discussion of music, drawing connections between old world artists and today’s modern musicians. You can hear the music being played as you turn the pages, and though I am not a huge fan of classical music, I found myself wanting to plunge into listening to these scores and more deeply appreciating the old masters.

Donnelly spent 10 years researching and writing this book, and her painstaking work makes this a book that reads like a page-turner, but will be savored, reflected on and remembered long after the reading is done. There was more than one occasion that I commented that this book is nothing short of brilliant, not only for the way it addresses the story matter, but also for the way she weaves characters and time periods together. A triumph.

-Click here to read an excerpt from REVOLUTION.

-Click here to read a review of REVOLUTION.

-Click here to read Jennifer Donnelly's bio.

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

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a 10-year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah.
-Click here to see the winners of the ARC mailing contest.
-Click here to read a second excerpt from SARAH'S KEY.
-Click here to read Tatiana de Rosnay's bio.
-Click here to see Tatiana de Rosnay's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for SARAH'S KEY.
-Click here to read more about SARAH'S KEY.

He mutilates his victims. Slices their throats. And carves an X into their flesh. Five years ago, he claimed the lives of six women. Then the killings abruptly stopped --- no one knows why. Ex-homicide detective Frank Quinn remembers. Which is why he’s shocked to see one of the dead women in his office. Actually, she’s the identical twin of the last victim, and she wants Quinn to find her sister’s murderer. But when the cold case heats up, it attracts the media spotlight --- and suddenly the killings start again…
-Click here to see the winners of the ARC mailing contest.
-Click here to read a third excerpt from MISTER X.
-Click here to read John Lutz's bio.
-Click here to see John Lutz's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for MISTER X.
-Click here to read more about MISTER X.
-Visit John Lutz's official website,

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