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Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

The titles below are discussed in the July 29th Newsletter Opener, which can be read here:

ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin
THE SOLDIER’S WIFE by Margaret Leroy
WHEN SHE WOKE by Hillary Jordan

The following are reviews, excerpts, interviews and features that currently appear on the homepage:

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book Five by George R. R. Martin (Fantasy)
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance --- beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB by Melanie Benjamin (Historical Fiction)
She was only two-feet eight-inches tall, but her legend reaches out to us more than a century later. As a child, Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump was encouraged to live a life hidden from the public. Instead, she reached out to the immortal impresario P. T. Barnum, married the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, and transformed into the world’s most unexpected celebrity. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

NEXT TO LOVE by Ellen Feldman (Historical Fiction)
Three young women --- Babe, Millie and Grace --- who live in a small town in Massachusetts all send the men they love off to fight in World War II. Not everyone returns, and those who do are profoundly changed, reminding us that the scars of war run deeper than the day that victory is won. This character-rich story begins before the men head out and continues right through the early ’60s.

FULL BLACK by Brad Thor (Thriller)
There are some missions so deadly, so sensitive, that they simply don’t exist. When one such mission goes horribly wrong, a wave of dramatic terrorist attacks is set in motion. Their goal: the complete and total collapse of the United States. Scot Harvath launches an audacious plan to infiltrate the terrorists’ network and prevent one of the biggest threats the United States has ever faced. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

QUINN by Iris Johansen (Psychological Thriller)
As a former Navy SEAL turned cop, Joe Quinn has seen the face of evil. When he first met Eve Duncan, he never expected to fall in love in the midst of her haunting tragedy. As their search takes them deeper and deeper into a web of murder and madness, Joe and Eve must confront their most primal fears…and test their resolve to uncover the bone-chilling truth. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

BORN TO DIE by Lisa Jackson (Romantic Suspense)
Dr. Kacey Lambert enjoys her life as a small town doctor in Grizzly Falls, Montana. But when a number of women who look just like her end up dead, Kacey begins to fear for her life and wonder if she's the next one in line who is born to die at the hands of a vengeful madman. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

SUPERGODS: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison(Sociology)
The first superhero comic ever published introduced the world to something both unprecedented and timeless: Superman, a caped god for the modern age. The skies of the imaginary world soon filled with strange mutants, aliens and vigilantes. For Grant Morrison, these heroes are powerful archetypes whose ongoing, decades-spanning story arcs reflect and predict the course of human existence. Through them we tell the story of ourselves. Reviewed by Nathan Wilson.

IT LOOKED DIFFERENT ON THE MODEL: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy by Laurie Notaro (Humor/Memoir)
Laurie Notaro is just trying to find the right fit --- whether it’s in the blouse that looks charming on the mannequin but leaves her in a literal bind, or in her neighborhood after she’s shamefully exposed at a holiday party. Notaro makes misstep after riotous misstep as she shares tales of marriage and family. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

BETRAYAL OF TRUST: A J. P. Beaumont Novel by J.A. Jance (Mystery)
A video appears to be showing a childish game: a teenage girl smiles for the camera, a blue scarf tied around her neck. All of a sudden things turn murderous, and the girl ends up dead. It’s as bad as a snuff film can get, and what’s worse, the clip has been discovered on a phone that belongs to the grandson of Washington State’s governor. Fortunately, the governor is able to turn to an old friend, J. P. Beaumont, for help. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

DICK FRANCIS’S GAMBLE by Felix Francis (Thriller)
Nicholas "Foxy" Foxton, a former jockey, is out for a day at the Grand National races when his friend and co-worker Herb Kovak is murdered, execution style, right in front of him --- and 60,000 other potential witnesses. As he struggles to come to terms with Kovak's seemingly inexplicable death, Foxton begins to question everything, from how well he knew his friend to how much he understands his employer. Reviewed by Jennifer McCord.

THE NIGHTMARE THIEF by Meg Gardiner (Psychological Suspense)
Autumn Reiniger expects something special for her 21st birthday. Her father signs up her and five friends for an “ultimate urban reality” game: a simulated drug deal, manhunt and jailbreak. It’s a high-priced version of cops and robbers, which is convenient for the gang of real kidnappers zeroing in on their target and a mammoth payday. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SHUT YOUR EYES TIGHT by John Verdon (Thriller)
The facts of what has just occurred are horrible: a blushing bride, newly wed to an eminent psychiatrist and just minutes from hearing her congratulatory toast, is found decapitated. Though investigators believe that a Mexican gardener killed her in a fit of jealous fury, the victim’s mother is having none of it. Reluctantly drawn in, Dave Gurney is quickly buffeted by a series of revelations that transform the bizarrely monstrous into the monstrously bizarre. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

FLASHBACK by Dan Simmons (Science Fiction/Thriller)
It’s the not-too-distant future and the United States is near total collapse. But 87 percent of the population don’t care: they’re addicted to flashback, a drug that allows its users to re-experience the past. Ex-detective Nick Bottom knows about flashback addiction firsthand. But can he resist temptation long enough to solve an old murder without losing his soul in the process? Reviewed by Ray Palen.

THE TALK-FUNNY GIRL by Roland Merullo (Fiction)
In one of the poorest parts of rural New Hampshire, teenage girls have been disappearing, snatched from back country roads. For Marjorie Richards, the fear raised by these abductions is the backdrop to what she lives with in her own home. Marjorie is also tormented by classmates, who call her “The Talk-funny girl.” But as the nearby factory town sinks deeper into economic ruin and as her parents fall under the influence of a sadistic cult leader, her options for escape dwindle. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

Melanie Benjamin’s debut novel, ALICE I HAVE BEEN, explored the true story of Lewis Carroll’s muse, Alice Liddell. Now, in THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB, she tackles the real-life pains and pleasures of tiny Lavinia Warren Stratton, aka Mrs. Tom Thumb, who famously starred in P. T. Barnum’s sideshow. In this interview, Benjamin discusses how she weaves fact and fiction, recounts the road that led her to Lavinia (“Vinnie”), and discloses the material she poured through in order to gain an inside look. She also sheds light on the parallels between the classic “freak show” of yesterday and the reality shows of today, while suggesting how Vinnie might feel if she got to see her name on the cover of this book.

Fall is almost upon us, which is known as the biggest season of the year for books! The titles that come out in fall often become holiday gifts, and many are blockbusters. Here are some publisher picks that we know people will be talking about. Each day we will spotlight a different title and offer a contest to win one of three copies of the book. Check the site each day to see the featured book and enter to win. We also will be sending a special daily newsletter to announce each day's title, which you can sign up for here.

Our first prize book will be announced on Monday, August 1st at noon ET.

-Click here to see this year's featured titles.
-Click here to receive our special newsletter announcing each day’s prize book.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our daily Summer Reading contests, and congratulations to all the readers who won! These giveaways were a huge success, and we look forward to doing it all over again next year. Even if you weren’t a winner this time, we encourage you to take a look at our 34 featured titles. Reading any of these wonderful books is a great way to pass the time during these dog days of summer.

-Click here to see this year's featured titles.
-Click here to see our winners.

NEXT TO LOVE by Ellen Feldman (Historical Fiction)
In NEXT TO LOVE by Ellen Feldman, three young women --- Babe, Millie and Grace --- who live in a small town in Massachusetts all send the men they love off to fight in World War II. Not everyone returns, and those who do are profoundly changed, reminding us that the scars of war run deeper than the day that victory is won. This character-rich story begins before the men head out and continues right through the early ’60s.

Feldman’s writing drew me in from the beginning (once I got all the couples straight), and from there I found myself reading late into the evening and in the early mornings savoring the story, especially the parts set during World War II.

It’s a story of love, loss and rebuilding --- and offers an inside look at what unfolded after those quick wartime marriages. The three female characters are well-drawn, with Babe being the star for me. But the way the stories collide gives the book its richness. No one woman’s story would have been special enough on its own. How they collide and interact gives it power.

Also, I love the title, one that is just perfect on many levels. As you read it, you will see why.

By the way, I heartily recommend pairing it with THE SOLDIER’S WIFE by Margaret Leroy, an earlier Bets On selection, to get very female points of view about World War II.

-Click here to read a review.

Author Spotlight: One to Watch
COMING UP FOR AIR by Patti Callahan Henry (Fiction)
Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband --- between her reality and the woman she wants to be --- she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life. But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie is not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary --- and a window onto stories buried long ago.

We have 20 copies of COMING UP FOR AIR, which will be in stores August 16th, to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, August 5th at noon ET.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Patti Callahan Henry’s bio.
-Click here to see Patti Callahan Henry’s backlist.

Paperback Spotlight
LEFT NEGLECTED by Lisa Genova (Fiction)
Sarah Nickerson, like any other working mom, is busy trying to have it all. One morning while racing to work and distracted by her cell phone, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In so doing, she also learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read a third excerpt.
-Click here to read critical praise.
-Click here to read more in our Bets On feature.
-Click here to read Lisa Genova’s bio.
-Click here to see Lisa Genova’s backlist.

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