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Friday, May 6, 2011

The following interviews, reviews and features began running on the website on Friday, May 6th.

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

DAMAGE CONTROL by Denise Hamilton
THE SILVER BOAT by Luanne Rice
LOWCOUNTRY SUMMER by Dorothea Benton Frank
SILVER SPARROW by Tayari Jones
GEORGIA BOTTOMS by Mark Childress
SOLOMAN'S OAK by Jo-Ann Mapson
MATTERHORN by Karl Marlantes
13, RUE THERESE by Elena Mauli Shapiro
THEN CAME YOU by Jennifer Weiner
SEAL TEAM SIX by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin

Bethia Mayfield lives among pioneers and Puritans of the 17th century. She yearns for an education, but her gender forbids it. At 12 she encounters Caleb, the Native American son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret friendship. When Caleb goes to Cambridge to study Latin and Greek, Bethia finds herself there too --- but she is indentured as a housekeeper. From this position, she can closely observe Caleb’s crossing of cultures. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Amelia Wilkes’s father does not allow her to date, though that doesn’t stop the high school senior from carrying on a secret romance with her classmate, Anthony Winter. But the couple’s passion is exposed sooner than expected when Amelia’s father finds naked pictures of Anthony on his daughter’s computer. Just hours later, Anthony is arrested. As events spiral out of control and the scandalous story makes national news, Amelia and Anthony must risk everything to clear their names. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

In a 24-hour period, the lives of a dozen people will cross paths in New York City in this latest novel from bestselling author and legendary newspaperman Pete Hamill. There will be a murder at a good address, a terrorist plot racing toward its murderous conclusion, and the death of one of the last great daily newspapers in the city. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

The truly wealthy live in another world. From their multi-national businesses to their palatial mansions to their exotic vacations at glamorous places all around the world, they do everything in a big way. And sometimes, that even includes crime.

As always, Spenser will stick with an investigation and do the right thing even after he's been fired and warned off the case, no matter what the legal consequences or danger to himself. Acting on behalf of a dead girl found in the suite of nasty Hollywood actor Jumbo Nelson, Spenser finds himself on the wrong side of some very powerful and unpleasant players. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

With the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 fast approaching, a currently sidelined CIA operative named Brooke Chandler may be all that stands between Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, and their plans to launch a nuclear attack against a major western city. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

Wendy McClure is determined to immerse herself in the world of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE author Laura Ingalls Wilder. She retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family --- and whether she's churning butter or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

Jake (Jacobia) Tiptree has not always been a happily-married, old-house repair hobbyist. She actually has a complicated past that causes her shame. Her shady history collides with her sunny present when a stalker arrives who is intent on exacting a bloody vengeance. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Jiminy Davis quits law school and lands on her grandmother's farm in rural Mississippi. In search of peace and quiet, Jiminy instead stumbles upon trouble and turmoil. She discovers that there was once another Jiminy --- the daughter of her grandmother's longtime housekeeper, Lyn --- who was murdered along with Lyn's husband four decades earlier in a civil rights-era hate crime. Jiminy sets out to solve the cold case, but at what cost? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

In 1960, at the height of the Cold War, Dante Amato of the Chicago Mob is ordered to meet with a beautiful Cuban go-between, and then mob boss Sam Giancana summons him to Miami to discuss a U.S. government commission to hit the Cuban dictator. It could be a set-up, or a chance for the mob to restart the flow of gambling and drug money from Havana. But what if all of this leads to Kennedy’s assassination? Reviewed by Kathy Purcell.

One of the world's most beautiful endangered species, butterflies, are lucrative on the black market. And in this cutthroat business, no one made more money than Yoshi Kojima, the kingpin of butterfly smugglers. Rookie U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Ed Newcomer was determined to capture him, and after two failures, Newcomer had one last chance to reel him in. His obsession with Kojima could finally spell the downfall of the untouchable smuggler --- or it could mean yet another failure. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Jimmy Cusack is a tough kid from a blue-collar neighborhood who almost made good on Wall Street. After a sterling start to his career, his hedge fund has collapsed, the bank is foreclosing on his upscale condominium, and his wife is two months pregnant. But it’s only when Cusack takes a “must-have” job with Leeser Capital --- a Greenwich fund impervious to the capital market woes --- that his real troubles begin. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

Geraldine Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for MARCH; her first novel, YEAR OF WONDERS, became an international bestseller; and PEOPLE OF THE BOOK has beentranslated into 20 languages. Her latest book, CALEB’S CROSSING, is a work of historical fiction based loosely on true-life events; in 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. In this interview, Brooks explains why she chose this slice of history, containing few facts, to turn into a novel. She also discusses her research methods, her fascination with the 17th century, and how she discovered that her very own history was closer to her characters than she ever could have imagined.

Therese Fowler's latest novel, EXPOSURE, is a modern drama that touches on relevant societal issues. Sexting is at the heart of this book, as two teens, helplessly in love, become "exposed" when the over-18 boy sends naked photos to the under-18 girl, whose strict father immediately has him arrested. In this interview, Fowler discusses the close-to-home seed for the plotline --- her very own son, who found himself in a similar situation --- revealing how, amid her horror and frustration, this story took immediate precedence over the one she had been writing. She also expresses her hope that EXPOSURE will endow readers with a better sense of the technological, high-pressure world in which today’s teens live.

Pete Hamill is an American journalist, novelist, essayist, editor and educator. Born in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, NY, most of his novels perfectly capture the Big Apple --- and his latest, TABLOID CITY, is no exception. In a stately West Village town house, a wealthy socialite and her secretary are murdered; in the 24 hours that follow, a flurry of activity surrounds their shocking deaths. In this interview, Hamill discusses his journey from journalist to novelist and how the two genres of writing go hand in hand. He also talks about his favorite writers, his personal work habits, and his optimistic hopes for the future of both journalism and literature.

Here at, Mother’s Day has been a month-long celebration with the help of some of our author friends and their mothers. For the past few weeks, we've been featuring daily blog posts from authors, including Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, Luanne Rice, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and many more. Reading these pieces will give you a new understanding and insight into the role Mom played as authors got their start or followed into the literary world.
-Winners of our Mother's Day Contest

I first became acquainted with Rachel Simon when she wrote RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER back in 2002. When I saw that she had written THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL, I immediately wanted to read it. This is a special book. The story is charged with emotional energy right from the start as Lynnie and Homan show up on the doorstep of Martha, a retired schoolteacher who never had a child, with their newborn child in their arms. She senses the deep bond and love between this couple, but also knows something is wrong with the way they have appeared here. It ends up that they have escaped from the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. It’s 1968, and mental illness is looked upon quite differently from today; at that time, there was more an attitude of locking away those who were challenged.

Lynnie is a young white woman with difficulty speaking, while Homan is an African American man who is deaf, and the two communicate via sign language. Authorities have pursued them, and Lynnie is captured while Homan escapes. As Lynnie leaves, she whispers to Martha, “Hide her.” And so she does. From there, Martha and baby Julia begin their life together while Martha never forgets the couple who showed up at her door. It’s wonderfully crafted, rich with both setting and character. As soon as I closed it, I said, “This is a perfect Bets On book.”

17-year-old Wyatt Hillyer is suddenly orphaned when his parents, within hours of each other, jump off two different bridges --- the result of their separate involvements with the same compelling neighbor, a Halifax switchboard operator and aspiring actress. The suicides cause Wyatt to move to small-town Middle Economy to live with his uncle, aunt, and ravishing cousin Tilda. Setting in motion the novel's chain of life-altering passions and the wartime perfidy at its core is the arrival of the German student Hans Mohring, carrying only a satchel. Actual historical incidents --- including a German U-boat's sinking of the Nova Scotia-Newfoundland ferry Caribou, on which Aunt Constance Hillyer might or might not be traveling --- lend intense narrative power to Norman's uncannily layered story.
-Howard Norman’s bio and backlist

Rescuing a toddler from the jaws of a mountain lion, Trevor MacDaniel, a high-country outfitter, sets in motion events he can’t foresee. His act of bravery entwines his life with gifted sculptor Natalie Reeve --- and attracts a grim admirer. Trevor’s need to guard and protect is born of tragedy, prompting his decision to become a search and rescue volunteer. Natalie’s gift of sculpting comes from an unusual disability that seeks release through her creative hands. In each other they see strength and courage as they face an incomprehensible foe.

-Kristen Heitzmann's bio and backlist

A widow and mother of six, Miranda Hanford leads a quiet, private life. When the pastor of her close-knit church announces his plans to move the entire congregation to another state, Miranda jumps at the opportunity to dissolve ties with Mason Chandler and his controlling method of ruling his flock. But then Mason threatens to unearth secrets from her past, and Miranda feels trapped, terrified she’ll be unable to protect her children.

College professor Jack Hanford is more than surprised when he gets a call from his estranged sister-in-law’s oldest son, Timothy, informing him that Miranda has taken a serious fall and he has been named legal guardian of her children while she recovers. Quickly charmed by Miranda’s children, Jack brings some much-needed life into the sheltered household. But his constant challenging of the family’s conservative lifestyle makes the recovering mother uneasy and defensive --- despite Jack’s unnerving appeal.

Winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction and a New York Times Editors' Choice, Lily King's masterful third novel received glowing critical praise upon its initial publication and is poised to make an even bigger splash in paperback.

Gardiner Amory is a New England WASP who's beginning to feel the cracks in his empire. Nixon is being impeached, his wife is leaving him, and his worldview is rapidly becoming outdated. His daughter, Daley, has spent the first 11 years of her life negotiating her parents' conflicting worlds: the liberal, socially committed realm of her mother and the conservative, decadent, liquor-soaked life of her father. But when they divorce, and Gardiner's basest impulses are unleashed, the chasm quickly widens and Daley is stretched thinly across it.

-Lily King’s bio and backlist

Brianna Karp entered the workforce at age 10, supporting her mother and sister throughout her teen years in Southern California. Although her young life was scarred by violence and abuse, Karp stayed focused on her dream of a steady job and a home of her own. By age 22 her dream became reality. Karp loved her job as an executive assistant and signed the lease on a tiny cottage near the beach. And then the Great Recession hit. Karp, like millions of others, lost her job. In the six months between the day she was laid off and the day she was forced out onto the street, Karp scrambled for temp work and filed hundreds of job applications, only to find all doors closed. When she inherited a 30-foot travel trailer after her father's suicide, Karp parked it in a Walmart parking lot and began to blog about her search for work and a way back.

Spring is in the air, and it’s a pleasure to be outdoors again. But if you’re forced to combat allergies this season, you might as well duck into a dark theater.'s Books into Movies feature is spotlighting seven flicks --- because sometimes May flowers just don’t do the trick. Among this month’s notable films are Something Borrowed, based on Emily Giffin’s novel of the same name; Thor, an epic adventure based on Stan Lee’s creative genius; and An Invisible Sign, which focuses on a 20-year-old whose obsession with math serves as an emotional band-aid for dealing with her ill father. But if your Claritin still isn’t kicking in, relax at home with The Green Hornet, The Rite and I Am Number Four, all spotlighted in our Books into Movies on DVD feature.

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