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September 14, 2012 Newsletter September 14, 2012
Reconnecting With a Favorite Author
No matter how old your children are, the first weeks of school are soooo hectic. Besides all the “usual” paperwork, which now is done electronically but still requires attention (and now includes remembering passwords), last night was “Senior Night,” where a myriad of details about college admissions were discussed. I could sense palpable tension and anxiety in the room as various statistics were discussed about acceptances and rejections, and all you need to know about the total dice roll that getting into college has become. Tomorrow, Cory and I are going to look at a school that he is really interested in. I had such fun doing this with Greg a couple of years ago that I am looking forward to it.

The second time around is a tad easier, though there still are a myriad of details to keep straight. And once again, the one thing I am pretty sure of is that these upcoming four years will cost more than our first house! He wants to become an aeronautical engineer; I feel like I should upload videos of the Lego contraptions he used to fly over the pool as part of his admissions package.

Back on the book front, I had a lovely surprise a couple of weeks ago. Back in 2000 or 2001, I fell in love with a book called LOSING JULIA by Jonathan Hull, which I reviewed here. I had read it on the rave recommendation of my sister. I also enjoyed Jonathan’s second novel, THE DISTANCE FROM NORMANDY, which was published back in 2003, which I also reviewed. Both would have been Bets On selections if I were doing such things back then. In late August, I came back to my office from lunch one day and saw a book on my desk that had the cover flap folded into the title page. There was a note from the author talking about how he remembered how much I loved his first book, LOSING JULIA, and that he wanted to be sure that I received his new book, THE DEVOTED. I immediately shot him a note, and we did a quick catch-up. There is something magical about reconnecting with a favorite author like that.

We went on vacation right after it arrived, and as I mentioned, I was not reading any hardcover books near the pool, so THE DEVOTED made the trip to North Carolina and back. Last Saturday, eager to read it, I headed to the patio and stretched out in a lawn chair. And right away I was captivated by the story, the same way I had been with the other two books. In this one, Ryan Brooks was saved from a car fire in Wyoming in which his parents were killed in a head-on collision while they were on a road trip from Kentucky. He has continued to correspond with Mike O’Donnell, the man who saved him, exchanging holiday and birthday cards. Flash forward, and he learns that Mike is dying, so he travels to Wyoming to see him for what he knows will be the last time. There he meets Mike’s Italian wife, Alessandra, and his daughter, Shannon. Mike shares a deathbed confession that throws a wrench in everything that Ryan has known to be true.

I loved it. It's a multi-layered love story. In fact, I bought copies for both my mom and my sister; my mom’s family is from a small village in Italy, and I can see her enjoying the parts that are set there. I will share my review and why I will pick it as a Bets On selection next week. I truly love moments like this.

Forget the calendar. Fall is here already in the world of books; you can tell as our lineup this week features a number of books from big bestselling authors.

First up, Lee Child returns with his ever-popular protagonist Jack Reacher in A WANTED MAN. All Reacher wants is a ride to Virginia, but soon hitching a ride becomes a really bad idea as he gets tied to a massive conspiracy that makes him a threat --- to both sides. As the tension rises, nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted, leading readers to a gasp-worthy explosive finale. Joe Hartlaub has our review and says, “If you thought that Child had rung all of the action out of Nebraska and its contiguous states that he could, then think again. You’ll never drive along a lonesome stretch of six-lane late at night, or past one of its no-name exits, without thinking of A WANTED MAN, Reacher, or what might be waiting at the top of the off-ramp.” I read this one on vacation and completely agree with Joe. And I love Reacher’s laconic pace. By the way, a publishing colleague saw the film of ONE SHOT and said it’s really terrific with a ton of action (which is interesting since Reacher is rather restricted in A WANTED MAN; she does not often rave, so I am looking forward to it, knowing I need to look beyond Tom Cruise as Reacher.

In Michael Chabon’s long-awaited new novel, TELEGRAPH AVENUE, two longtime friends co-own a record store when a former NFL quarterback announces his plans to open a megastore nearby, essentially killing their small business. What does this announcement have to do with a forgotten crime of the Black Panther era, and will the two friends make it through their struggles? Reviewer Norah Piehl says, “Reading Chabon's prose can be both exhilarating and exhausting (in the best possible way). His sentences are so carefully crafted, so muscular in their vocabulary and metaphor, that readers can feel almost overwhelmed at times... But his prose and storytelling are also deeply compassionate...” By the way, there is an Enhanced E-Book of TELEGRAPH AVENUE, available wherever enhanced e-books are sold, which includes eight original illustrations by acclaimed artist Greg “Stainboy” Reinel, exclusive videos of Michael Chabon discussing the book, an original theme song, excerpts of the audiobook edition as performed by Clarke Peters (of "The Wire" and "Treme"), and more.

In THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER by Junot Diaz, readers get an incredible haunting story about the power of love --- obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. At the heart of these short stories is Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness --- and by the extraordinary woman he loves and loses. This book lays bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. Norah Piehl calls Diaz’s latest “...a realistic, thoughtful exploration of love (and, as the title suggests, love lost), often as funny as it is sad.... Although Yunior is an inveterate cheater, an objectifier of women, and a less than perfect son, it's hard not to like him --- for his honesty, if for nothing else.”

By the way, Junot is something of a rock star in the literary world. This week, his event at Barnes & Noble Union Square was standing room only; actually, many did not even get in to stand. Pretty wild!

We also have a review of NW by Zadie Smith, which follows four Londoners as they try to make adult lives for themselves outside of Caldwell, a northwestern part of London, where they grew up. However, they soon find that London is a complicated place and, though beautiful, deceptively brutal. According to Norah Piehl, “Smith is a novelist after all, not (only) an essayist, and so she does place fictional characters in this richly described setting.... [T]he portrait Smith creates, although hardly tidy or unified, nevertheless captures northwest London in a way that is entirely authentic, singular and true.”

If you aren’t completely obsessed with Julia Child yet, you just might be after reading Bob Spitz’s entertaining biography. DEARIE: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child offers readers a comprehensive look at Julia’s life from her privileged upbringing in Pasadena to her work in the OSS during World War II to her four decades as one of America’s preeminent cooking teachers. Reviewer Michael Magras says, “Spitz does a nice job of showing us how a rich girl who threw mud pies at passing cars became The French Chef.... If you enjoy loving descriptions of French cuisine and want to re-experience the novelty of a six-foot-three woman with a fluty voice bringing French cooking to the masses, then this book...will be a source of pleasure.” We also have an interview with Spitz where you can clearly see his appreciation for this 20th-century icon.

This week, we announce THE HOUSE I LOVED as our new Paperback Spotlight title. Tatiana de Rosnay’s intriguing novel is about Rose Bazelet, a widow living in a neighborhood marked for improvement by the Emperor Napoleon. However, she makes a vow never to leave her family home and spends her days recounting memories of her husband and family in the house she has come to love. We reviewed the book earlier this year when it came out in hardcover, and Amy Gwiazdowski raved about it: “There are books where the beginning hints at the ending. THE HOUSE I LOVED is one such book, but knowing how this one will end is what makes it so special. It builds very slowly, and before you know it, you’ve been picked up and carried to the end.” THE HOUSE I LOVED will be available in paperback on October 2nd.

We are continuing our Sneak Peek: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book feature this week. We’re giving 25 readers the opportunity to win specially formatted early reader editions of ORPHAN TRAIN and let us know what they think of it. Christina Baker Kline’s latest novel introduces readers to Vivian Daly, a now-90-year-old woman who has had a chaotic past --- from her difficult childhood in Ireland to her turbulent adulthood Midwest. However, this story specifically documents the “orphan trains” that transported more than 200,000 orphaned, abandoned and homeless children to the Midwest for indentured servitude. Those of you who read THE CHAPERONE will remember that its plot touched on the Orphan Train. It left me wanting to hear more about it, which made this book even more of a delight. Christina did very extensive research, which authenticates her characters. You have until Thursday, September 20th at noon ET to enter to read an early copy.

I’m pleased to announce my two latest Bets On picks. Both are heart-wrenching stories in completely different ways. Life is good for Maura Corrigan in Lee Woodruff’s THOSE WE LOVE MOST. Married to her college sweetheart, Pete, raising three young kids with her parents nearby in her peaceful Chicago suburb, her world is secure. Then one day, in a single turn of fate, that entire world comes crashing down and everything that she thought she knew changes. Reviewer Terry Miller Shannon says that Woodruff's “understanding of the challenges a family undertakes during a tragedy adds an unflinching honesty to THOSE WE LOVE MOST, making it feel real... [R]eaders who enjoy contemplative character-driven plots will enjoy the emotional impact of this moving tale.” I fully agree, and you can read my thoughts about the book here.

We featured TRUST YOUR EYES by Linwood Barclay in our Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight, and now I’m letting you know why you should read this book as soon as possible. In Linwood’s latest gripping thriller, a map-obsessed schizophrenic named Thomas Kilbride spends his days traveling the world all from the safety of his bedroom using a computer program. However, one day he stumbles onto an image of a woman being murdered. Will Thomas be able to get over his schizophrenia to save her in time? In his review, Joe Hartlaub says, “Barclay starts lobbing hand grenades out of the pages about a third of the way into the novel and doesn’t stop doing so until the very end. We’re not talking flash grenades, either; there won’t be a door in your house that won’t be blown off its hinges once you finish this book.” Click here for my comments about the book.

Our new Bookshelf introduces readers to 20 Fantasy Stand-Alone Titles that our reviewer, Stephen Hubbard, swears by. His selections range from J. R. R. Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT to the children’s classic THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, and provide great options for your “must-read” lists. We do appreciate Stephen's knowledge of the fantasy market --- and how he has curated this list.

After weeks of Olympics watching, as well as both political conventions, I was prompted to circle back to you with a version of a poll question that we asked you four years ago: “Did you watch the Olympics or the political conventions?” Click here to let us know! The results thus far have been very interesting.

Enter our Word of Mouth contest by Friday, September 21st at noon ET for a chance to win the aforementioned A WANTED MAN: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child, along with LOW PRESSURE by Sandra Brown and FATHER NIGHT: A McClure/Carson Novel by Eric Van Lustbader.

I read an article today noting that as many as 55% of Young Adult books are being bought by adults. This does not surprise us, but it also makes me realize that we’ve sensed this for a while, which is why we created our Young Adult Books You Want to Read feature that runs each month. It will be updated next week!

Gorgeous weather in the New York area; I am just loving it. The pool has cooled down mightily, thus the other morning I grabbed my wetsuit to swim. I am eyeing up one of those Endless Pools that actually can go in the house or the garage so I could be in the water all year long. Okay, let’s not talk about how we would need to figure out WHERE this would go. BUT I figure I would ask if any readers have one --- and if you like it. I would want it for water aerobics more than anything else.

Well, while Cory and I are off college exploring, Tom has yet another golf tournament and Greg is off to Connecticut to be inducted as Vice-President of the New England Lighthouse Lovers (NELL). I have a HUGE stack of reading…currently reading a manuscript of Jill McCorkle’s upcoming 2013 novel, LIFE AFTER LIFE, which I am enjoying. I had the pleasure of meeting Jill a few years ago at a dinner where she made me laugh all night.

For our Jewish readers…Happy New Year! And to everyone, here’s to a great week of reading.

Carol Fitzgerald (

PS. When you use the links below to purchase books, you also support as we have affiliate arrangements with each of them. Please consider this when purchasing books!

Now in Stores: A WANTED MAN by Lee Child

A WANTED MAN: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child (Thriller)
All Reacher wanted was a ride to Virginia. All he did was stick out his thumb. But he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. He has tied himself to a massive conspiracy that makes him a threat --- to both sides at once. Nothing is what it seems in Lee Child’s latest thriller, and nobody is telling the truth. As the tension rises, the twists come fast and furious, keeping readers guessing and gasping until the explosive finale. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: TELEGRAPH AVENUE by Michael Chabon

TELEGRAPH AVENUE by Michael Chabon (Fiction)
Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are longtime friends and co-regents of a used record store. But when ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode announces his plan to build a megastore nearby, the duo fears that it will mean certain death for their small business. What they don’t know is that this announcement marks the peak of a secret history, including a forgotten crime of the Black Panther era. How will the two make it through these trying times? Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER by Junot Diaz

THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER by Junot Diaz (Fiction/Short Stories)
On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness --- and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: DELUSION IN DEATH by J. D. Robb

DELUSION IN DEATH by J. D. Robb (Thriller)
An airborne virus is unleashed on the patrons of a bar, killing 80 people. Surviving witnesses talk about seeing things, and they describe sudden, overwhelming feelings of fear, rage and paranoia. It appears the customers were exposed to a cocktail of chemicals and illegal drugs that could drive anyone to temporary insanity, if not kill them outright. But that doesn’t explain who would spread such horror --- or why. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: NW by Zadie Smith

NW by Zadie Smith (Fiction)
Zadie Smith’s new novel follows four Londoners as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
New Paperback Spotlight: THE HOUSE I LOVED by Tatiana de Rosnay

THE HOUSE I LOVED by Tatiana de Rosnay (Historical Fiction)
Paris, France: 1860s. Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, molding it into a “modern city.” The reforms will erase generations of history --- and in the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.

Rose Bazelet is determined to fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end. As others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband. And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for 30 years.

THE HOUSE I LOVED will be available in paperback on October 2nd.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Tatiana de Rosnay’s bio.
-Click here to visit Tatiana de Rosnay’s official website.
-Connect with Tatiana de Rosnay on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to read more in our Paperback Spotlight. Bets On: THOSE WE LOVE MOST by Lee Woodruff and TRUST YOUR EYES by Linwood Barclay

THOSE WE LOVE MOST by Lee Woodruff (Fiction)
If I could describe THOSE WE LOVE THE MOST by Lee Woodruff in one phrase, it’s about the seasons of marriage. Anyone married a while knows that feelings ebb and flow over time. This happens in long relationships as well as shorter ones. Here, a family is brought together when a crisis hits that has them circling the wagons and grieving together before they spiral back into the larger world with a new view of their lives. Two of these couples will re-examine their marriages in light of what has happened --- and how they have changed.

The multi-layered story unfolds with pitch precision --- one small act of distraction will be the catalyst for all that comes later. It’s a book that would be perfect for book club discussions; there are so many ways that this discussion could go!

-Click here to read more of Carol’s thoughts about the book.
-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.

TRUST YOUR EYES by Linwood Barclay (Thriller)
Typically, Bets On selections are based on books that I love, but in the case of TRUST YOUR EYES, a thriller by Linwood Barclay, my husband and son, Greg, are voting with me. I have been a huge fan of Linwood’s for years, but the depth of his talent is shown in a whole new way in this book. There were so many aha moments, twists, turns and surprises that even a quarter of the way through I was thinking this is sooooo cleverly done. The plot revolves around two brothers. One is a schizophrenic and rarely leaves the house. Instead he explores the world through a website called Whirl360 (very similar to the Street View on Google Maps). As he “wanders” down a street in New York City "visits," he sees what appears to be a murder. He convinces his brother to investigate it further, and from there the action gets really wild. NONE of us could put this book down once we started it.

-Click here to read more of Carol’s thoughts about the book.
-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read our interview.
-Click here to read more in our Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight.

Click here to see all the books we're betting you'll love.
Sneak Peek: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book --- Our Latest Featured Title: ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline

At, we have the opportunity to read many great books well in advance of their release dates. Now, with our Sneak Peek Feature/Contest, we are offering our readers the chance to preview select early picks --- and share feedback on them. We know that readers champion books that they love, and we want you to be part of the excitement of upcoming releases as early as possible.

Our latest Sneak Peek Feature spotlights ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline, a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are. We have 25 specially formatted early reader editions to give away to readers who would like to preview the book, which releases in April 2013, and share their comments about it. To enter, fill out this form by Thursday, September 20th at noon ET.

ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline (Fiction)
Nearly 18, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read critical praise for Christina Baker Kline’s books.
-Click here to read Christina Baker Kline’s bio.
-Click here to visit Christina Baker Kline’s official website.

-Click here to connect with Christina Baker Kline on Twitter.

Click here to read more in our Sneak Peek Feature and enter the contest.
Featured Women’s Fiction Author: Rebecca Coleman, Author of HEAVEN SHOULD FALL
HEAVEN SHOULD FALL by Rebecca Coleman (Fiction)
Alone since her mother’s death, Jill Wagner wants to eat, sleep and breathe Cade Olmstead when he bursts upon her life --- golden, handsome and ambitious. Even putting college on hold feels like a minor sacrifice when she discovers she’s pregnant with Cade’s baby. But it won’t be the last one she’ll have to make.

Retreating to the Olmstead’s New England farm seems sensible, if not ideal: they’ll regroup and welcome the baby, surrounded by Cade’s family. But the remote, ramshackle place already feels crowded. Cade’s mother tends to his ailing father, while Cade’s pious sister, her bigoted husband and their rowdy sons overrun the house. Only Cade’s brother, Elias, a combat veteran with a damaged spirit, gives Jill an ally amidst the chaos, along with a glimpse into his disturbing childhood. But his burden is heavy, and she alone cannot kindle his will to live.

The tragedy of Elias is like a killing frost, withering Cade in particular, transforming his idealism into bitterness and paranoia. Taking solace in caring for her newborn son, Jill looks up to find her golden boy is gone. In Cade’s place is a desperate man willing to endanger them all in the name of vengeance…unless Jill can find a way out.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Rebecca Coleman’s bio.
-Click here to visit Rebecca Coleman’s official website.
-Click here to see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.

Click here to read more in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight.
An Interview with Bob Spitz, Author of DEARIE

DEARIE, Bob Spitz’s latest biography, is an up-close and personal look at the Queen of Cooking herself, Julia Child. Spitz lovingly outlines the story of the privileged and unmotivated young Julia McWilliams throughout her life and transformation into Julia Child, The French Chef. In this interview, Spitz discusses how Child forever changed US supermarkets and household cuisine, and the crush he developed on the passionate, no-nonsense woman who inspired Americans to go back into the kitchen.

DEARIE: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz (Biography)
Bob Spitz, the author of a well-regarded biography of the Beatles, has now given us a hagiography of another 20th-century icon: Julia Child. His affection for television’s French Chef comes through on every page. This comprehensive book covers Child’s life from her privileged upbringing in Pasadena to her work in the OSS during World War II to her four decades as one of America’s preeminent cooking teachers. Reviewed by Michael Magras.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read the interview.
Contests Running on Other Sites in

We have a number of contests currently running on our other sites in Please take a look at them below, and enter for your chance to win some fabulous books!

THE UNFINISHED GARDEN by Barbara Claypole White
We are celebrating the release of THE UNFINISHED GARDEN by Barbara Claypole White --- a love story about grief, OCD and dirt --- with a special contest. 60 readers will have the opportunity to each win a copy of the book, which is now in stores, for their group. The deadline for entries is Friday, October 5th at noon ET.

THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller
We are celebrating the release of THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller --- a tale of gods and goddesses, kings and queens, immortal fame and the human heart --- with a special contest. 30 readers will have the opportunity to each win a copy of the book, which is now in stores, for their group. The deadline for entries is Tuesday, September 25th at noon ET.

“What Are You Reading?” Monthly Contest Feature: MEMOIR OF THE SUNDAY BRUNCH by Julia Pandl
Let us know what your group is reading this month (September), and you’ll be entered in a giveaway to win multiple copies of a book for your group! Our latest prize book is MEMOIR OF THE SUNDAY BRUNCH, Julia Pandl’s irreverent and open-hearted memoir that provides tender wisdom about the bonds between fathers and daughters and the simple pleasures that lie in the daily ritual of breaking bread. We have 12 advance copies of the book, which will be in stores on November 13th, to give away to five groups. The deadline for entries is Friday, October 5th at noon ET.

ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre

Looking for a great book that is sure to generate lots of discussion in your reading group? Then check out the post-apocalyptic novel ENCLAVE, Ann Aguirre's first book for young adults. is giving away up to 20 copies of the paperback edition to the winning book club. The deadline for entries is Friday, September 21st at noon ET.

Grab Bag of Books
Each month in our Grab Bag of Books contest, five readers are awarded a signature tote bag filled with some of the hottest books --- and may even include a sneak peek at titles that haven’t been released yet! Winners of our latest Grab Bag of Books contest will each receive a copy of OVER YOU by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus and THE RAFT by S. A. Bodeen. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, September 19th at noon ET.

To celebrate the release of SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS, a Victorian gothic thriller from Newbery Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz, is giving 15 readers the chance to win a copy of the book. The deadline for entries is Monday, October 15th at noon ET.

This Week’s Reviews

MORTALITY by Christopher Hitchens (Memoir)
Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Christopher Hitchens refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open. In this riveting account of his affliction, Hitchens poignantly describes the torments of illness, discusses its taboos, and explores how disease transforms experience and changes our relationship to the world around us. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

BLACK DAHLIA & WHITE ROSE: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates (Fiction/Short Stories)
Joyce Carol Oates takes readers deep into dangerous territory, from a maximum-security prison to the inner landscapes of two beautiful and mysteriously doomed young women in 1940s Los Angeles: Elizabeth Short, otherwise known as the Black Dahlia, victim of a long-unsolved and particularly brutal murder, and her roommate Norma Jeane Baker, soon to become Marilyn Monroe. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

LIONEL ASBO: STATE OF ENGLAND by Martin Amis (Fiction)
Just as the orphaned Desmond Pepperdine begins to lead a gentler, healthier life, his uncle Lionel --- once again in a London prison --- wins £140 million in the lottery. Upon his release, Lionel hires a public relations firm and begins dating a topless model and “poet.” Strangely, however, Lionel's true nature remains uncompromised, while his problems --- and therefore also Desmond's --- seem only to multiply. Reviewed by Jane Krebs.

THE MAP OF THE SKY by Felix J. Palma (Historical Fantasy/Mystery)
A love story serves as the backdrop for THE MAP OF THE SKY when New York socialite Emma Harlow agrees to marry millionaire Montgomery Gilmore, but only if he accepts her audacious challenge: to reproduce the extraterrestrial invasion featured in Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds. What follows are three interconnected plots that create a breathtaking tale of time travel and mystery. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

GOD’S HOTEL: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine by Victoria Sweet (Memoir)
San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital gave Victoria Sweet the opportunity to practice a kind of attentive medicine that has almost vanished. Gradually, the place transformed the way she understood her work. Alongside the modern view of the body as a machine to be fixed, her extraordinary patients evoked an older idea --- of the body as a garden to be tended. GOD'S HOTEL tells their story and the story of the hospital itself. Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth, founder of

FOBBIT by David Abrams (Fiction)
Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base is like the back-office of the battlefield. Male and female soldiers are trying to find an empty Porta Potty in which to get acquainted, grunts are playing Xbox and watching NASCAR between missions, and a lot of the senior staff are more concerned about getting to the chow hall in time for the Friday night all-you-can-eat seafood special than worrying about little things like military strategy. Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds.

THE MIDWIFE OF HOPE RIVER: A Novel of an American Midwife by Patricia Harman (Historical Fiction)
Midwife Patience Murphy has a talent for escorting mothers through the challenges of bringing children into the world. Working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience helps those most in need --- and least likely to pay. She knows a successful midwifery practice must be built on a foundation of openness and trust, but the secrets Patience is keeping are far too intimate and fragile for her to ever let anyone in. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

DISAPPEARED by Anthony Quinn (Mystery)
Retired Special Branch agent David Hughes disappears after looking into the previously closed case of Oliver Jordan, who went missing at the hands of the IRA decades ago. Soon after, a former spy is found bludgeoned to death, the day after placing his own obituary in the newspaper. To solve this string of murders, Catholic detective Celcius Daly must reach decades into the past, confronting a painful history that Ireland would prefer to forget. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

LEPER TANGO by David MacKinnon (Fiction)
Franck Robinson --- forty-something, chaser of skirts (usually the low-end sidewalk variety) --- combs the streets of Paris in search of Sheba, whom he imagines to be the ultimate Parisian whore. Franck drifts from bordello to bar, and ultimately finds himself trapped by his own demons of alcohol and a fatal attraction. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

This Week’s Poll

Did you watch the Olympics or the political conventions? Please check as many as apply.

I was a multi-channel Olympics junkie.
As much Olympics coverage as I could
Some Olympics coverage
None of the Olympics
All of the Republican National Convention
Some of the Republican National Convention
Just the last night of the Republican National Convention
None of the Republican National Convention
All of the Democratic National Convention
Some of the Democratic National Convention
Just the last night of the Democratic National Convention
None of the Democratic National Convention

Click here to answer the poll.
Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Could Win THREE Books!

Tell us your current reading recommendations with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars. During the contest period from September 7th to September 21st, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of FATHER NIGHT: A McClure/Carson Novel by Eric Van Lustbader, LOW PRESSURE by Sandra Brown and A WANTED MAN: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child.

To make sure other readers will be able to find the books you write about, please include the full title and correct author names (your entry must include these to be eligible to win). For complete rules and guidelines, click here.

-To see reader comments from previous contest periods,
click here.

Click here to enter the contest.

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