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August 8, 2014 Newsletter August 8, 2014
Hamptons Hideaway
After a very hectic four days in the city, I happily am out in the Hamptons in Amagansett with my family, where we are visiting our good friend, Moe Schwartz, for the weekend. My bag contains five books, two knitting projects and enough clothes to keep me dressed for a month. At home I typically wear a bathing suit, shorts and a t-shirt for most of the weekend. I have packed four pairs of pants and six pairs of shoes, not counting the ones I wore on the trip out. I seem to harbor some mentality that I need to be prepared for anything, even if the forecast is for steady sunny skies the entire weekend.

Luckily, like last year, we have timed our weekend so I can attend the Authors Night event, which benefits the Easthampton Public Library. This is the second year that I have attended; it’s a fabulous evening where authors sign books and mingle with readers to celebrate reading and raise money. If any of you are going to be there, do drop me a line. I will report back about this next week.

I typically read an advance reading copy of Sandra Brown’s latest novel during the week before Labor Day while floating in the pool, but her earlier publication date (August 19th) this year had me floating and reading MEAN STREAK weeks earlier than usual. There were two huge “aha” moments where she “got me” with the plot and again wowed me. I find myself wondering if she surprises herself as she writes, keystroking to head a plot in a new direction, or if she works backwards to get to the "aha" moment. All I know is that once again I was not disappointed. She is an author who never “phones it in.”

On Wednesday, I spent the morning at Simon & Schuster where I had the pleasure of meeting Anita Diamant, whose new book, THE BOSTON GIRL, will release on December 9th. She shared wonderful stories about the actual historical location that inspired it. For the rest of the morning, editors and marketers presented their titles for the upcoming months, and our Editorial Director, Tom Donadio, and I made tons of notes about the books we are looking forward to sharing with you.

That afternoon, I was at the Hachette Book Group’s event with booksellers from the Mid-Atlantic region (and I was happy to find that some are newsletter readers). One of the authors who I wanted to meet at this event was Christopher Scotton, whose book, THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH, will be published on January 6th. I am reading it --- and I see why everyone who has read it is buzzing about it. Three people sent it to me saying, “Just read this.” I am on page 100 and getting the same kinds of feelings I had when I read ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger --- that this is a special book. And yes, this is packed for the weekend!

There was another reason I wanted to meet Christopher. This will be the third year that our sister site will be a proud sponsor of the Hachette Book Group’s Book Club Brunch on Saturday, October 18th in New York City. EVERY attendee will be given an advance copy of THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH prior to the event, so you can read it and participate in a discussion during the day. Among the other authors in attendance for this event will be Maureen Corrigan. On Wednesday night, I had a spirited chat about her book, SO WE READ ON: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures. She made me want to re-read GATSBY, and also watch the 1949 film, which she feels is the best adaptation (I must track it down). In addition to Christopher and Maureen, there will be five more authors: Barbara Ehrenreich, Sam Kean, Edan Lepucki, Joshua Ferris and Jean Hanff Korelitz. You can sign up NOW to attend here; tickets are just $45 for a full day of programming and book group bonding. I always love meeting our readers and look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday evening’s dinner had a special bonus surprise for me. Neil Gaiman was there as the guest of his wife, Amanda Palmer, whose book, THE ART OF ASKING, is releasing on November 11th. In a moment that was complete kismet, Neil had just come from the video session where he answered our reader questions about THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE from the contest that we ran earlier this year on He had enjoyed the session --- and the great questions --- and we look forward to sharing that video with you later this month. Talk about the circle of life --- what a day! You can see a photo of me with Neil above.

Now on to this week’s update!

Fans of Ph.D. scientist and former professional thief Gideon Crew will be thrilled to learn that Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have teamed up once again to write THE LOST ISLAND. This latest installment in the series finds Gideon tasked with stealing a page from the priceless Book of Kells. With the help of his new partner, Amy, Gideon travels to a remote corner of the Caribbean Sea to track down what may be the greatest treasure the world has to offer --- one that may even save Gideon’s life --- but first, Amy and Gideon must survive their cryptic hunt. Kate Ayers has our review and says, “In THE LOST ISLAND, the dynamic duo of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child provides a thrill a minute…or more like a thrill a paragraph. The action is truly nonstop, and the pages almost turn themselves as if by magic.”

PAINTED HORSES is Malcolm Brooks’s much-talked-about debut set in the American West of the 1950s. Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist on her way to Montana. She is faced with the daunting task of working ahead of a major dam project to confirm that nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. From the moment she arrives, however, she is overwhelmed by the vastness of the canyon and the unfamiliarity of the landscape --- until she meets John H, who is currently living the life of a fugitive within the canyon. Reviewer Jane Krebs calls the book, which is #1 Pick on the August Indie Next List, “a wonderfully told story, and each rich detail shows a fascinating piece of the American West.” You can find out much more about the book in an interview with the author, which you can read here.

It’s been SEVEN years since readers last received a novel about William Lashner’s hard-luck Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl, but the wait is finally over with the release of BAGMEN. Victor has reached a new low in his lowly career: carrying around a bag full of money for an ambitious politician. He finally thinks he’s found a way into politics when one of his payoffs ends up in the pocket of a murder victim. Now Victor’s only way out is to call upon his new friends. But will they help him find the killer, or lead him to his own grave? According to reviewer Joe Hartlaub, “BAGMEN is a complex work, a multi-layered morality play for our place and time. While Lashner asks many questions about our present system of elections and government that need good answers and may have none, you will want to read the book for the power of the prose.” I have been a Lashner fan for years and am thrilled that Victor Carl is back!

Seven years ago, readers were introduced to Terry Archer and his family in Linwood Barclay’s horrifying NO TIME FOR GOODBYE. Now we can catch up with the Archers in Barclay’s latest release, NO SAFE HOUSE. Scarred by the terrifying ordeal of the first book, Terry’s wife, Cynthia, is living apart from her husband and daughter, Grace. Currently a teenager, Grace is beginning to rebel against her parents’ overprotection and foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house. It is here that the Archers will be drawn into the darkness of their seemingly perfect hometown. Joe Hartlaub calls the book “Barclay’s most ambitious work to date, full of plot twists and turns, grim humor, rough nobility and dark redemption." Linwood, as always, kept me guessing!

For a big-hearted coming-of-age novel, look for DOLLBABY by Laura Lane McNeal. McNeal’s debut is set in the summer of 1964 in New Orleans, where Ibby Bell’s mother has deposited her at her eccentric grandmother Fannie’s house. Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take Ibby under their wings to initiate her into the ways of the South. But the South is full of dark secrets, many of which are hidden behind the doors of Fannie’s mansion, and Ibby’s arrival is the key to unlocking them. Kate Ayers has our review and says, “Beautifully rendered and perfectly paced, DOLLBABY is one novel this year not to be missed, with just the right amount of mystery mixed with coming-of-age drama.” We also have an interview with the author, which you can read here. I have this packed for the weekend as well; 50 pages in, I am feeling a Bets On pick coming up!

We’re following up our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight review of SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY with an interview that our intern, Rebecca Munro, recently had the fortune of conducting with Joshilyn Jackson. Click here to read about Joshilyn’s inspiration for her latest novel --- from its divine plot to the origins of her complex characters.

Our Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight of William Kent Krueger, in anticipation of his upcoming Cork O’Connor mystery, WINDIGO ISLAND, continues. When the disappearance of two girls ends in the discovery of one of their bodies, Cork is called upon to investigate. He soon finds that the girls’ hometown is a thriving hotspot for sex traffickers, and the girls may have been targeted. With some residents blaming a legendary beast, the Windigo, and government agencies avoiding the lucrative sex trade, it is up to Cork to battle both mythical and modern villains to save the still-missing girl. There is still time to enter our contest for the chance to win one of 25 copies of the book, which releases on August 19th, and share your comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, August 14th at noon ET.

Kent told us all about having his book, ORDINARY GRACE, chosen as the South Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota One Book-One Community Read! See what book groups are saying about this book here. Also, Lorenzo Carcaterra blogged about what it was like to have another author, Julia Dahl, visit his book group to discuss her book, INVISIBLE CITY.

As promised, this week we are featuring Daisy Goodwin’s THE FORTUNE HUNTER as my latest Bets On pick. The novel follows a dangerous love triangle between a beautiful Empress, a dashing horseman, and a clever heiress. Between Daisy’s knack for weaving historical detail into a compelling plot and the glamorous Sisi, Empress of Austria, as a main character, you’ll see why we’re betting on THE FORTUNE HUNTER. In a blog post, I wrote about the wonderful evening I had when I joined the book group “The League” for a discussion with Daisy about THE FORTUNE HUNTER. This is the book that 250 of our book groups read earlier this year. We share some of the hundreds of emails we got from them after their discussions here.

We wrapped up our Summer Reading contests this week, and we congratulate the winners of all 42 of this year’s giveaways. Thank you to all who entered throughout the summer! Even if you didn’t win any of our contests, we encourage you to take a look at the feature for some great reading suggestions during these lingering days of summer.

In just a few short weeks, we’ll be announcing the details of our Fourth Annual Fall Preview feature! Similar to our Summer Reading contests, on select days in September and October, we will spotlight a different title and offer a 24-hour contest to win five copies of the book. We also will be sending a special newsletter to announce each day's title. You can sign up here to receive the Fall Preview newsletters. Our first prize book will be announced on Monday, September 8th.

While you may be unhappy that summer is nearing its end, there’s no need to pack away those summer reads just yet.’s latest bookshelf, “Beach Bound: 20 Books Set Near the Surf,” will help your summer indulgences last a bit longer. This staff-curated bookshelf features a variety of genres, from romances like THE BEACH HOUSE to more suspenseful novels like WE WERE LIARS. You’re sure to find the perfect titles to appreciate at the beach and wrap up your summer in style.

We’ve updated our New in Paperback feature for August. Among this month’s releases are SYCAMORE ROW, the sequel to John Grisham’s debut novel, A TIME TO KILL; W IS FOR WASTED by Sue Grafton, the 23rd Kinsey Millhone mystery; THE OCTOBER LIST, a race-against-the-clock thriller from Jeffery Deaver, told in reverse; COMPOUND FRACTURES, the final installment in Stephen White’s Dr. Alan Gregory saga; and THE GOOD LORD BIRD by James McBride, winner of the 2013 National Book Award.

We’ve also updated our Books on Screen feature. August’s theatrical releases include The Giver, If I Stay and Guardians of the Galaxy. On the small screen, you can look forward to the debut of “Outlander” (which premieres this Saturday the 9th) on STARZ and “The Intruders” (which premieres Saturday the 23rd) on BBC America. And among this month’s DVD releases are Divergent, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and The Railway Man.

In our latest poll, we want to know approximately what percentage of the books that you read are new (published in hardcover or paperback in the last year), and which ones are older. Let us know by taking our poll here. Not sure what you do? No worries...there is an option where you can tell us that as well!

Our previous poll asked, “When you are reading, do you typically stop at the end of a chapter?” 48% of you do so either all the time or sometimes, while only 9% of you don’t. Click here for all the results.

We also posted a new Word of Mouth contest this week. Let us know what books you’ve read by Friday, August 22nd at noon ET, and you’ll have the opportunity to win LOVE LETTERS: A Rose Harbor Novel by Debbie Macomber, the aforementioned MEAN STREAK by Sandra Brown, and WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas, a debut novel I read earlier this year that was a BEA Buzz book.

I am sure that by the time I get home on Monday, the Japanese beetles will have devoured all of the roses; they have been exceptionally pesky this summer. If next summer is not better, the roses are going to have to be pulled out.

My parents celebrated their 60th anniversary yesterday, a huge milestone! My mom would want me to tell you that they met in kindergarten. My dad was surprising my mom with the restaurant where they were going to celebrate; I love that they were able to share this special occasion like that. Mom also told me that they sent out “Save the Date” cards before the wedding; as they were getting married at 11:00 on the 7th, the cards had dice with 7 and 11 on them. And I thought these kinds of messages just came in vogue a decade or so ago! Or maybe my mom was ahead of her time.

I am ready for reading and sleeping on the beach, and kicking some laps in Moe’s amazing pond. It’s been tooooo crazy a summer.

Here’s to a great week…read on….

Carol Fitzgerald (
Now in Stores: THE LOST ISLAND by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
THE LOST ISLAND: A Gideon Crew Novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Thriller/Adventure)
Gideon Crew is living on borrowed time. When his mysterious employer gives him an eyebrow-raising mission, he has no reason to refuse. His task: steal a page from the priceless Book of Kells. Gideon accomplishes the impossible --- only to learn that hidden beneath the gorgeously illuminated image is a treasure map dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks. The treasure to which it leads is no ordinary fortune. It is something far more precious: an amazing discovery that could perhaps even save Gideon's life. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
An Interview with Malcolm Brooks, Author of PAINTED HORSES

Malcolm Brooks was raised in the rural foothills of the California Sierras and grew up around Gold Rush and Native American artifacts. A carpenter by trade, he has lived in Montana for most of two decades. His debut novel, PAINTED HORSES, combines his widely varied interests, his fascination with the American West and, of course, his lifelong love of horses. In this interview, Brooks talks about the path that led him to write this “sprawling book,” the strange paradox of progress, how living in Montana has affected his writing and, naturally, why he loves horses so much.

PAINTED HORSES by Malcolm Brooks (Historical Fiction)
Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist on her way to Montana, with a huge task before her --- a canyon “as deep as the devil’s own appetites.” Working ahead of a major dam project, she has one summer to prove that nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. And then there’s John H, a former mustanger and veteran of the U.S. Army’s last mounted cavalry campaign, living a fugitive life in the canyon. John H inspires Catherine to see beauty in the stark landscape, and her heart opens to more than just the vanished past. Reviewed by Jane Krebs.

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

Click here to read the interview.
Now in Stores: BAGMEN by William Lashner
BAGMEN by William Lashner (Thriller)
At a low point in his lowly career, Victor Carl finds himself skulking through the streets of Philadelphia carrying a bag full of money for an ambitious politician. It is a rotten job on the wrong side of anyone’s line, but with bag in hand, Victor is suddenly hobnobbing with the city’s elite, filling his bank account and having sex with the politician’s gorgeous and deranged sister. But just when Victor begins to think he has a future in the political game, one of his payoffs ends up in the pocket of a dead woman, and Victor goes from bagman to fall guy. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to visit William Lashner’s official website.
Click here to read a review. Talks to Joshilyn Jackson, Author of SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY --- Our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight Title

Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including GODS IN ALABAMA and A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY. Her most recent book, SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY, is about a single mom who stumbles into the middle of a mini-mart robbery, where the actions of a stranger cause her to fall irrevocably in love with him. In this interview with’s Rebecca Munro, Jackson talks about her development as a strong female voice --- how she overcame her fear of “being taken too seriously” in order to write what she considers her best novel yet. She also lovingly discusses her eclectic cast of characters, the way fiction creates a safe space for readers to suspend their disbelief, and why it’s so hard for her to turn away a good metaphor.

SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY by Joshilyn Jackson (Romance)
Young single mom Shandi Pierce stumbles into the middle of a mini-mart robbery. Although her main concern is for her three-year-old son, Natty, the actions of a stranger named William Ashe cause her to plunge irrevocably in love with him. Considering that Shandi has issues with her parents and with circumstances surrounding the birth of Natty, and that William has considerable baggage of his own, the hopeful romantic is in for quite the ride. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read more about the book on the publisher’s website.
-Click here to read Joshilyn Jackson’s bio.
-Click here to visit Joshilyn Jackson’s official website.
-Connect with Joshilyn Jackson on Facebook and Twitter.
-Click here to read more in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight.

Click here to read our interview.
An Interview with Laura Lane McNeal, Author of DOLLBABY

Laura Lane McNeal grew up and currently resides in New Orleans, where people laugh a lot, talk with their hands, love good music and food, and will make up any excuse for a party. So it’s no coincidence that her debut novel, DOLLBABY, is set in the heart of "The Big Easy." In this interview, McNeal talks affectionately about why New Orleans is such a dynamic setting for a book--- how the place itself “tugs at your soul” and engages all your senses. She also discusses all the research that went into DOLLBABY, why she chose to tell the story from two different points of view, and how all her characters are really searching for is their place in the world --- just like the rest of us.

DOLLBABY by Laura Lane McNeal (Historical Fiction)
When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother, Fannie. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been --- and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum --- is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

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

Click here to read the interview.
Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight & Contest: WINDIGO ISLAND by William Kent Krueger
We have 25 copies of WINDIGO ISLAND by William Kent Krueger, which releases on August 19th, to give away to readers who would like to read the book and comment on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, August 14th at noon ET.

WINDIGO ISLAND by William Kent Krueger (Mystery)
When the body of a teenage Ojibwe girl washes up on the shore of an island in Lake Superior, the residents of the nearby Bad Bluff reservation whisper that it was the work of a mythical beast, the Windigo, or a vengeful spirit called Michi Peshu. Such stories have been told by the Ojibwe people for generations, but they don’t solve the mystery of how the girl and her friend, Mariah Arceneaux, disappeared a year ago. At the request of the Arceneaux family, Cork O’Connor, former sheriff turned private investigator, is soon on the case.

But on the Bad Bluff reservation, nobody’s talking. Still, Cork puts enough information together to find a possible trail. In Duluth, Minnesota, he learns from an Ojibwe social worker that both Duluth and the Twin Cities are among the most active areas in the US for sex trafficking of vulnerable women, many of whom are young Native Americans. As the investigation deepens, so does the danger. Cork realizes he’s not only up against those who control the lucrative sex enterprise --- he must also battle government agencies more than willing to look the other way.

Yet Cork holds tight to his purpose --- Mariah, an innocent 15-year-old girl at the heart of this grotesque web, who is still missing and whose family is desperate to get her back. With only the barest hope of saving her, Cork prepares to battle men whose evil rivals that of the bloodthirsty Windigo and who are as powerful, elusive and vengeful as the dark spirit Michi Peshu.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read William Kent Krueger's bio.
-Click here to visit William Kent Krueger's official website.
-Connect with William Kent Krueger on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight and enter the contest. Bets On: THE FORTUNE HUNTER by Daisy Goodwin --- Our Latest Historical Fiction Author Spotlight Title
THE FORTUNE HUNTER by Daisy Goodwin (Historical Fiction)
I was a huge fan of THE AMERICAN HEIRESS by Daisy Goodwin, a previous Bets On selection, so when I saw THE FORTUNE HUNTER was coming out, I eagerly read an early copy last winter. I closed it and knew it would be another Bets On pick. Daisy has a knack for weaving period historical details into a book while not dragging down the storyline with them. I confess that on first reading, until I got to the last page and the Author’s Note, I had no idea that the character of Sisi was based on the actual Empress of Austria and not just a fictitious one. The story worked even when I thought she was the conception of Daisy’s imagination. Bay and Charlotte’s relationship was documented historically as well, but Daisy is clear that she took some rein in telling the story.

Here, the historical details get layered with romance as horseman Bay Middleton, just finished with an affair with a married woman, is casting his eye between Sisi and Charlotte Baird, who is a strong woman in her own right. Charlotte with her camera in hand taking photos is something very uncommon of women of the day. Her looks pale beside Sisi, but her spunk and willingness to fight the norms of the day enhance her character.

The fox hunting scenes portray the one place where men and women could find themselves on equal ground in 1875. While still moored in the rigors of tradition, men and women could gallop together and compete.

To be noted, the lengths that Sisi goes to keep her beauty as she ages shows the vainness that can surround a woman of a certain age whose ticket in the world was her looks. It’s a terrific summer read, one that those who love period shows like “Downton Abbey” will eat up. And there’s a lot to “gossip about” in it afterwards.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read Daisy Goodwin’s bio.
-Click here to read our interview with Daisy Goodwin.
-Click here to visit Daisy Goodwin’s official website.
-Connect with Daisy Goodwin on Facebook and Twitter.
-Click here to read more in our Historical Fiction Author Spotlight.
Click here for more books we’re betting you’ll love.
August's New in Paperback Roundups
August’s roundups of New in Paperback titles include SYCAMORE ROW, the long-awaited sequel to John Grisham’s first novel, A TIME TO KILL, published in 1989; BLEEDING EDGE by Thomas Pynchon, a historical romance of New York in the early days of the Internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we’ve journeyed to since; COMPOUND FRACTURES, the riveting final chapter in Stephen White's decades-long saga featuring Boulder psychologist Alan Gregory; EARLY DECISION, Lacy Crawford's debut novel that follows five students over one autumn as a college admissions consultant helps them craft their college essays, cram for the SATs and perfect the Common Application; and THE GOOD LORD BIRD by James McBride, the 2013 National Book Award-winning novel about a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade --- and who must pass as a girl to survive.

-Find out what's New in Paperback for the weeks of August 4th, August 11th, August 18th and August 25th.'s Books on Screen Feature for August
There’s been a lot of grumbling lately about the lack of original material making its way around Hollywood. But with all these exciting book adaptations coming out, it’s hard to get too upset about it. Sure, originality seems to be in shorter supply out there than it should be, but the creative energy that goes into adapting some of our favorite books is nothing short of astounding.

There’s so much to see in theaters this month! Among August's offerings are Guardians of the Galaxy --- the buzz on this “class clown” of Marvel adaptations is that it’s a guaranteed good time. Less family friendly is Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For (based on Frank Miller’s high-style graphic novel), which certainly has a cast to die for…if not to kill for. Two heavy-hitting YA adaptations will be showing up on screens around the middle of the month: The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s dystopian classic, and If I Stay, inspired by Gayle Forman’s moving novel about a young girl caught between life and death.

And for those of you who live by the (perfectly reasonable) “Beach or Bust” summertime philosophy and prefer not to leave your home unless there’s sand and an ocean involved, there’s plenty to watch at home. In addition to some of the ongoing favorites --- “The Leftovers,” “True Blood” and “Masters of Sex” --- we can tune in this month to the highly anticipated Outlander adaptation on Starz. Diana Gabaldon’s cult classic about a time-traveling nurse is sure to be a hit with fans and non-fans alike. And Divergent enthusiasts can look forward to cuddling up in bed with Theo James…now that the DVD is available.
Click here to see all the movies, TV shows and DVDs featured in August’s Books on Screen.'s Latest Bookshelf: Beach Bound: 20 Books Set Near the Surf
Let's be honest: Endless summer would be ideal. And between the sun, the sand and the surf, the shore is undoubtedly the best place to be during the best season of the year. For that very reason, we're sharing with you a staff-curated collection of 20 great reads that take place at the beach. So while you soak up the rays these final few weeks of summer, we hope you find some books on our bookshelf to make your summer indulgences last just a little longer. There's so much to appreciate about the beach, and what better time than these last glorious summer days? Now if only we could actually make summer endless...we'd be living the good life all year round!
Click here to see our "Beach Bound" bookshelf.
Women's Fiction Author Spotlight: SMALL BLESSINGS by Martha Woodroof
SMALL BLESSINGS by Martha Woodroof (Fiction)
Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.

Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop's charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he'd fathered a son who is heading Tom's way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom is ready or not.

SMALL BLESSINGS releases on August 12th.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Martha Woodroof’s bio.
-Click here to visit Martha Woodroof’s official website.
-Connect with Martha Woodroof on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight.
More Reviews This Week
THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein (Politics/History)
The bestselling author of NIXONLAND has written a dazzling portrait of America on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the tumultuous political and economic times of the 1970s. Against a backdrop of melodramas from the Arab oil embargo to Patty Hearst to the near-bankruptcy of America’s greatest city, THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE asks the question: What does it mean to believe in America? To wave a flag --- or to reject the glibness of the flag wavers? Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

NO SAFE HOUSE by Linwood Barclay (Thriller)
Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal that nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. When his daughter, Grace, foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers must do more than stay together. They must stay alive. Because now they all have been unwillingly drawn into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

SIGHT UNSEEN by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen (Thriller)
Before the experimental surgery that gave her sight, Kendra Michaels developed her other senses to an amazing capacity. Law enforcement agencies clamor for her powers of perception and observation. When Kendra realizes that an apparent traffic accident on San Diego's historic Cabrillo Bridge is in fact a murder scene, she rushes to alert the police. As the body count rises, a gruesome pattern emerges. Someone is killing people in ways that mirror Kendra's most notorious cases…and he is not working alone. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

CITY OF GHOSTS by Kelli Stanley (Historical Mystery)
Private investigator Miranda Corbie is asked to track a chemistry professor who is suspected of being a spy for the Nazis. Her journey into fear takes her on the famed City of San Francisco streamliner and to Reno, Nevada, the Biggest Little City in the World…where she finds herself framed for a murder she never anticipated. Forced to go underground, Miranda is determined to find the truth about a murder, a Nazi spy, and her own troubling past. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE OLEANDER SISTERS by Elaine Hussey (Historical Fiction)
Beth "Sis" Blake has always been the caretaker, the dutiful one, with the weight of her family's happiness --- and their secrets --- on her shoulders. She dreams of taking off to pursue her own destiny, but not before doing whatever it takes to rescue her sister, Emily, an unwed mother who wants the security of marriage for the sake of her five-year-old son. But secure is the last thing she feels with her new husband. Now she must put aside pride, and trust family to help her find the courage to escape. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

PAW AND ORDER: A Chet and Bernie Mystery by Spencer Quinn (Mystery)
In the seventh book of Spencer Quinn’s mystery series, canine narrator Chet and P.I. Bernie journey to Washington, DC, and the dog-eat-dog world of our nation’s capital. Soon Chet and Bernie are sucked into an international conspiracy, battling unfamiliar forces under the blinking red eyes of a strange bird and the menacing Barnum, a guinea pig with the fate of the nation in his tiny paws. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

THIS IS THE WATER by Yannick Murphy (Psychological Suspense)
At a swim meet, Annie watches as her daughters glide through the water. However, her thoughts drift lazily to Paul, a swim-team parent who has taken notice of her. When a girl on the team is murdered at a nearby highway rest stop --- the same spot where Paul made a gruesome discovery years ago --- Annie and her fellow swim-parents find themselves adrift. With a serial killer too close for comfort, they must make choices about where their loyalties lie. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

NEIL ARMSTRONG: A Life of Flight by Jay Barbree (Biography)
Much has been written about Neil Armstrong, America’s modern hero and history’s most famous space traveler. Yet, shy of fame and never one to steal the spotlight, Armstrong was always reluctant to discuss his personal side of events. Here, for the first time, is the definitive story of Neil’s life of flight he shared for five decades with a trusted friend --- Jay Barbree. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

THE LIAR’S WIFE: Four Novellas by Mary Gordon (Fiction)
In Mary Gordon’s novellas of relationships at home and abroad, both historical and contemporary, we meet the ferocious Simone Weil during her final days as a transplant to New York City; a vulnerable American grad student who escapes to Italy after her first, compromising love affair; the charming Irish liar of the title story, who gets more out of life than most of us; and Thomas Mann, opening the heart of a high school kid in the Midwest. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, who are determined that their middle daughter will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. However, when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SECRETS OF THE LIGHTHOUSE by Santa Montefiore (Fiction)
Ellen Trawton leaves London, fleeing to her aunt’s cottage in Connemara and looking for a fresh start in life. Her imagination is soon captured by the compelling ruins of a lighthouse where a young mother died in a fire. The ghost of the young wife, Caitlin, haunts the nearby castle. Unable to move on, she watches her husband and children, hoping they might see her and feel her love once more. But she doesn’t anticipate her husband falling in love again. Can she prevent it? Or can she let go and find a way to freedom and happiness? Reviewed by Donna Smallwood.

RECKLESS: The Racehorse Who Became a Marine Corps Hero by Tom Clavin (History)
From the racetracks of Seoul to the battlegrounds of the Korean War, Reckless was a horse whose strength, tenacity and relentless spirit made her a hero amongst a regiment of U.S. Marines fighting for their lives on the front lines. Tom Clavin, the bestselling co-author of THE HEART OF EVERYTHING THAT IS, tells the unlikely story of this racehorse who was beloved by the Marine Corps and decorated for bravery. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

DRY BONES IN THE VALLEY by Tom Bouman (Thriller)
The lone policeman in a small township on the sparse northern border, Henry Farrell has watched the steady encroachment of gas drilling bring new wealth and erode neighborly trust. The drug trade is pushing heroin into the territory, and outlaws are cooking meth in the woods. When a stranger turns up dead, Henry’s search for the killer will open old wounds, dredge up ancient crimes, and exact a deadly price. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
Our Latest Poll: Do You Read New or Older Books?
Approximately what percentage of the books that you read are new (published in hardcover or paperback in the last year), and which ones are older?

All new releases
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90% new; 10% older
75% new; 25% older
50% new; 50% older
25% new; 75% older
10% new; 90% older
I am not sure what I do as I do not pay attention to when books are published.
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Word of Mouth Contest: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can 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 August 8th to August 22nd, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of LOVE LETTERS: A Rose Harbor Novel by Debbie Macomber, MEAN STREAK by Sandra Brown and WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas.

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.

Please note: You must enter your full address, using correct capitalization and filling in all fields if you would like to be eligible to win this prize.

Also, we realize that many times, your opinion of a book will change as you get further along into the story. Thus, to ensure that your comments and ratings accurately reflect your entire reading experience, we ask that you finish reading the book before you submit your comments about it.

One important technical note: If you're using an iPad or another iOS device to access the Word of Mouth page and you would like to enter the contest, you must wait for the page to fully load before you can rate your book. Only then will the stars be clickable.

-To see reader comments from previous contest periods, click here.
Click here to enter the contest.

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