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May 1, 2015 Newsletter May 1, 2015
May Has Arrived in Full Color!

Today I am spending the day at Random House Open House, which is one of my favorite events, thus I am furiously typing this newsletter before I head to that. Their lineup is stellar: guests will include Tom Brokaw (still my favorite newsman), Jodi Picoult (she’s written a second book with her daughter, Samantha van Leer, who also will be a guest) and Emily Giffin. I love these events and look forward to seeing many of our readers there. We’ll have a report on the event next week!

Preview season is kicking off. No, I am not talking about the television upfronts where networks and cable channels tout their schedules to advertisers, but rather where we meet with publishers to see what is coming for Fall/Winter 2015-16 (though just seeing the word winter makes me shiver). On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of hearing Garth Risk Hallberg talk about his upcoming book, CITY ON FIRE, which I am now reading and will be a BEA Buzz title. As I will be interviewing him at BEA, it was terrific to hear him present the book, which is getting a ton of pre-publication buzz. It will be in stores on October 13th. It’s set in New York in the 1970s, which is interesting as Garth was born late in 1978 in eastern North Carolina. Thus he spent years doing research on a place I know during a timeframe where I went to school and began working in the city. To do research, he would go to the New York Public Library and read the New York Times for each day from 1976 and 1977, confining his reading to that exact day from decades before. Looking forward to it --- all 900 pages! I was joking with Garth that holding the book to read will get my upper arms in shape.

Next week, there are five previews for the children’s and YA market with at least three more adult/kids previews to come BEFORE we even get to BEA. While we are furiously making plans for the next few months, I also am looking at a teeteringly high book pile. I need the weekend to organize and plan my reading.

This week, I have been listening to A CURIOUS MIND: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman, which is narrated by Norbert Leo Butz with Grazer doing the introduction. Grazer looks at the importance of curiosity and how it has fueled his life and career. By the way, you may not know his name, but you will know some of the movies he produced with his company Imagine Entertainment --- A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13 and the upcoming In the Heart of the Sea. I am fascinated by his stories, and he is tempting me to make some phone calls to get to know some of the people I admire and am interested in, much the same way he did.

While reading the book, I was amused to recall my near meeting with Grazer. Years ago, during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Arianna Huffington hosted a party at her home. I was invited; I knew Arianna as I had met her when ON BECOMING FEARLESS was published. I literally knew no one except Arianna. I circled the room twice and still knew no one. Suddenly I saw Brian Grazer, who was the ONLY person I even recognized, and I got an idea. I was going to duck into the bathroom and Google his latest film on my Blackberry so I could ask him about it. I realized I might make a total fool of myself, but it beat standing there grasping my drink like a security blanket. Just as I turned to do this, Arianna called for everyone’s attention so she could make a speech, and right after that I ducked out. I realize now, as I read his book, that he probably would not have blown me off, and I wish I had done it! Here is a clip from "Good Morning America," if you would like to hear him talk more about this very interesting book.

Speaking of audiobooks, Melanie, our Word of Mouth editor, had a fun story about listening to Candice Bergen’s A FINE ROMANCE. She downloaded the audiobook from her local library; it was due back the next day, and she had not yet finished. She was able to cue the audio to “speed up” so she could hear the entire story before it disappeared from her personal digital library to be loaned to someone else. Loved that story!

Speaking of audio, MANY thanks to all of you who weighed in on our idea for a new feature similar to Word of Mouth, but dedicated to audio only. If you still would like to comment, please click here to share your thoughts!

This week, we are delighted to present our newest Women's Fiction Author Spotlight on Mary Kay Andrews and her latest novel, BEACH TOWN, which releases on May 19th. After a disastrous shoot, movie location scout Greer Hennessy has one last chance to find the perfect undiscovered beach town for a big budget movie. Terrified of screwing up, Greer is thrilled when she finds a sleepy Florida town with only one motel, a marina, a long stretch of beautiful beach and a casino --- which will be the perfect scene for the film’s explosive climax. But town mayor Eben Thinadeaux has no intention of letting anyone damage his town’s environment. Unfortunately, he finds Greer very attractive, even if their motives conflict. We’re giving away 25 copies of BEACH TOWN to readers who would like to read the book and share their comments on it. The deadline for your entries is Thursday, May 14th at noon ET. You’ll feel the sand between your toes and picture this off-the-beaten track resort town as you read the book, and you’ll want to shout ”Bring on summer!”

Our latest New Release Spotlight features DANGEROUS WHEN WET, Jamie Brickhouse’s darkly humorous and moving memoir. Born in Texas to flamboyant and outspoken Mama Jean, Brickhouse always knew he wanted a life of glamour. Fleeing Texas and his zany mother, he journeyed to New York for a high-profile career in book publishing --- and plenty of booze. But when his descent into alcoholism nearly costs him his life, he realizes he needs Mama Jean more than ever. Brickhouse bravely takes readers along as he enters rehab and begins to put his life back together, peppering his prose with unique insights along the way.

Sarah Rachel Egelman has our review and says, “At first glance, DANGEROUS WHEN WET is a campy and hilarious account of a man driven by lusts and desires. But the hilarity is just the vehicle for the serious story that Brickhouse tells: that of a son and a partner growing up, getting clean, and facing the expectations of others as well as his own dreams for himself. Ribald storytelling mixes with traditional familial themes, resulting in an entertaining, bittersweet and poignant debut.” As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, I know Jamie professionally, and a while ago, he shared that he was writing a book. I knew that part of the theme had to do with his overcoming his addiction to alcohol, but I was not aware how complicated his story was. In some parts, he truly unravels, and I found myself trying to parse that information with the person I know.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley has penned EARLY WARNING, the second installment in her Last Hundred Years trilogy, which began last year with SOME LUCK. Beginning in 1953, immediately after the death of Walter Langdon, EARLY WARNING finds the five Langdon children preparing for the future. As the country moves out of post-World War II optimism, and into the radical changes of the 1960s and ‘70s, the Langdon children begin to scatter across the country and have kids of their own. From twin boys to a rebellious teenage girl to a golden son who drops out of college to fight in Vietnam, the Langdons experience every aspect of the rapidly changing world --- all while continuing the legacy that began with Walter and Rosanna.

Reviewer Eileen Zimmerman Nicol comments, “Not all readers have the patience for a character-driven novel of this scope, and if the thought of occasionally referring back to a family tree makes you crazy, buy another book. But for me, the pleasures and rewards far outweighed the challenges of this sprawling, luscious work. I don’t know how I missed SOME LUCK, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Matthew Pearl, whose bestsellers include THE DANTE CLUB and THE POE SHADOW, takes readers on an epic literary adventure in THE LAST BOOKANEER. The year is 1890, and loose copyright laws mean that books can be easily published without an author’s permission. Pen Davenport is Europe’s most notorious bookaneer --- a literary pirate who steals manuscripts in order to publish them cheaply while reaping huge fortunes. Unfortunately for Davenport and his peers, a new international treaty has been signed that threatens to destroy the underground world of literature. Desperate for one last heist, Davenport decides to steal a dying Robert Louis Stevenson’s new novel. Accompanied by his assistant, Fergins, and rivaled by his longtime adversary, Belial, Davenport journeys to the island of Samoa for a final showdown --- one that may be larger than literature itself.

Stephen Hubbard gives THE LAST BOOKANEER a rave review: “A combination intellectual mystery and high-seas adventure, THE LAST BOOKANEER is a masterful blending of fact and fiction that makes for a compelling exploration of betrayals, schemes, greed, and the business of literature in an age when intellectual property was at the mercy of the highest bidder.”

Practicing physician Oliver Sacks explores the ways in which his patients have come to define his life in ON THE MOVE. For years, Dr. Sacks has studied the brain, explaining the ways the complex organ makes us human. Now, Sacks energetically chronicles his life as a neurologist, beginning in the early 1960s, when he struggled with drug addiction in California. From there, he moved to New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a hospital. With the same restlessness that propels him as a doctor, Sacks examines his love affairs, guilt over leaving his family, and his bond with his schizophrenic brother.

Reviewer Harvey Freedenberg calls ON THE MOVE “engrossing” and points out, “What gives this memoir a unique poignancy is the knowledge that Sacks was diagnosed earlier this year with terminal liver cancer.” A few months ago, we shared a poignant essay that Sacks had written for the New York Times. You can read more about him in this piece from Vanity Fair by his close friend, Lawrence Weschler.

This week, we have two Paperback Spotlights to share with you. First up is THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd, which takes readers to the early 19th century, where Hetty “Handful” Grimke yearns for a life beyond her suffocating experience as a slave in the Grimke household. Meanwhile, the Grimkes’ daughter, Sarah, struggles with the limitations imposed on her as a woman in a patriarchal society. On Sarah’s 11th birthday, she is gifted with ownership of 10-year-old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. For the next 35 years, these women strive for lives of their own as they form a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance and love. While Handful endures tragic loss and develops her sense of self, Sarah experiences great betrayal as she fights to find her place in the abolition and women’s rights movements. Click here to read our review and here for the reading group guide.

Our second Paperback Spotlight features BRIDGE TO HAVEN by Francine Rivers. In 1950s Hollywood, everyone knows Lena Scott, the hottest rising star since Marilyn Monroe. But Pastor Ezekiel Freeman will always know her as Abra, the newborn he once found abandoned under a bridge. Zeke and his son, Joshua, have watched Abra grow into a stunning woman, but they know that the details of her birth have wounded her emotionally. Her weakened state makes her vulnerable to an enigmatic bad boy who lures her to Hollywood. But fame comes at a terrible price, and naïve Abra soon learns that she may have sacrificed too much to get what she thought she wanted. Click here to read our review and here for the reading group guide.

My latest Bets On pick is celebrated poet Elizabeth Alexander’s heartfelt memoir, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. In it, Alexander relays the story of her husband’s sudden death and how her grief affected her. Using her gift for words, however, she was able to find meaning in her loss.

There’s only a handful of days left to enter our Mother’s Day contest. Up for grabs are 25 prize packages, which includes a selection of five of our featured Mother’s Day titles, along with some delicious Ghirardelli chocolate, tea from Tea Forté and Yardley Bar Soap. The deadline for your entries is Monday, May 11th at noon ET. Click here to peruse our impressive selection of titles and fill out our entry form.

This week, we have another author essay to share with you --- this time from Stanley Meisler, author of SHOCKING PARIS: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse. In his latest book, Meisler focuses on the School of Paris, a collection of immigrant painters who dominated the Paris art bazaar. In his piece written exclusively for us, Meisler further explains the history of these immigrants and reveals how his family history inspired him to write SHOCKING PARIS.

Please be sure to vote in our latest poll, where we’re asking if you usually feel the need to read books as soon as they release. And let us know by Friday, May 8th at noon ET what books you’ve finished reading in our Word of Mouth feature, and you’ll be in the running to win the aforementioned THE LAST BOOKANEER by Matthew Pearl, along with A GOD IN RUINS by Kate Atkinson and THE WRIGHT BROTHERS by David McCullough, the latter of which I am enjoying on audio.

Mystery Writers of America has announced the winners of this year’s Edgar Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction and television. Stephen King’s MR. MERCEDES took home the honor of Best Novel. Click here for a complete list of the winners.

With the Kentucky Derby running tomorrow, we would like to draw your attention to our site and a special feature for Skylar JamesSHADOW OF A DOUBT. Plucky young Fyfe Flynn lives on a modest farm near the world famous horse track Churchill Downs. When a new foal loses its mother, Fyfe gains a best friend she names “Shadow of a Doubt.” More interested in horse racing than anything else, Fyfe and Shadow dream that one day he’ll become the greatest racehorse in the world. With illustrations by Kelley McMorris, readers will love watching as this inspiring pair fights for their dream.

News and Pop Culture:

Independent Bookstore Day: Get out and celebrate your local indie store on Saturday, May 2nd! Find out more here and come together to support the power of indie buying.

Children’s Book Week and Children’s Choice Book Awards: This 96th annual celebration of children and reading kicks off on Monday. Look here for where events for kids and teens may be located in a town near you. Kids have until Sunday to vote in what is the ONLY book award where the votes are cast for the winners by kids and teens. Send them to vote here. Shara, our Editorial Manager for and, will be at the awards ceremony on Monday night, which also happens to be her birthday!

Free Comic Book Day: Each year, comic book shops across the country host Free Comic Book Day on the first Saturday in May. Read more about it here.

HBO's "The Casual Vacancy" miniseries kicked off on Wednesday night, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. I must catch up with it on On Demand. You can read more about it here, as well as in our Books on Screen column next week.

"Broadchurch": Tom and I are enjoying previewing the complete second season of "Broadchurch" on DVD, which will be in stores on May 12th. We loved season one, and season two is proving to be just as wonderful. Love the characters, the setting and, well, just everything!

Excellent Documentary: "The University of Sing Sing," an HBO documentary, looks at a program where inmates can earn college degrees in prison. Not sure what I liked more: the classroom discussions or the graduation scene at the end. Click here to read more about it.

Nancy Drew: Turned 85 this week. Must be tough to get old; I still only claim to be 27!

"Mad Men": Two more episodes. I am going to miss Don and the gang.

Factoid: Last week, Diane Sawyer’s Friday night interview with Bruce Jenner had 17 million tuned in, which was augmented to 20.7 million in Live + 3 (which includes views three days later). It was deemed a huge success, and it sounds like it until you contemplate this: As I was reading THE RESIDENCE, which we reviewed a couple of weeks ago, there was a mention that 80 million viewers watched Jackie Kennedy host the tour of the White House in the early '60s!

Snow: I know. WHY snow after the winter we had? Well, I saw that eight inches of snow have fallen in VT since the beginning of March, and ski resorts in Vermont still are running! Hmmm...skiing the first weekend in May and into June? That would be amazing! One year I skied in Vermont on Memorial Day weekend. Loved extending the season like that.

Tom is going off to play golf for four days, thus I am going to be reading away this weekend. The patio cushions have been retrieved from the basement, and the umbrellas are in place. Mom’s birthday is on Tuesday, but as all my boys have plans, we will celebrate next weekend!

Read on, and have a great week…

Carol Fitzgerald (

P.S. For those of you who shop online, if you use the store links below, gets a small affiliate fee on your purchases. We would appreciate your considering this!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

New Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight & Contest: BEACH TOWN by Mary Kay Andrews

We have 25 copies of BEACH TOWN by Mary Kay Andrews to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which releases on May 19th, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, May 14th at noon ET.

BEACH TOWN by Mary Kay Andrews (Fiction)
Greer Hennessy is a struggling movie location scout. Her last location shoot ended in disaster when a film crew destroyed property on an avocado grove. And Greer ended up with the blame.

Now Greer has been given one more chance --- a shot at finding the perfect undiscovered beach town for a big budget movie. She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida panhandle town. There's one motel, a marina, a long stretch of pristine beach and an old fishing pier with a community casino --- which will be perfect for the film's climax --- when the bad guys blow it up in an all-out assault on the townspeople.

Greer slips into town and is ecstatic to find the last unspoilt patch of the Florida gulf coast. She takes a room at the only motel in town, and starts working her charm. However, she finds a formidable obstacle in the town mayor, Eben Thibadeaux. Eben is a born-again environmentalist who's seen huge damage done to the town by a huge paper company. The bay has only recently been re-born, a fishing industry has sprung up, and Eben has no intention of letting anybody screw with his town again. The only problem is that he finds Greer way too attractive for his own good, and knows that her motivation is in direct conflict with his.

Will true love find a foothold in this small beach town before it's too late and disaster strikes?

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Mary Kay Andrews’ bio.
-Click here to visit Mary Kay Andrews’ official website.
-Connect with Mary Kay Andrews on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to read more in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight and enter the contest.
New Release Spotlight: DANGEROUS WHEN WET by Jamie Brickhouse
DANGEROUS WHEN WET: A Memoir by Jamie Brickhouse (Memoir)
By turns both darkly comic and deeply poignant, DANGEROUS WHEN WET is about a native Texan's long struggle with alcohol, his complicated relationship with his mother, and his sexuality.

From the age of five, all Jamie Brickhouse wanted was to be at a party with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other and all Mama Jean wanted was to keep him at that age, her Jamie doll forever. A Texan Elizabeth Taylor with the split personality of Auntie Mame and Mama Rose, always camera-ready and flamboyantly outspoken, Mama Jean haunted him his whole life, no matter how far away he went or how deep in booze he swam. Brickhouse's journey takes him from Texas to a high-profile career in book publishing amid New York's glamorous drinking life to his near-fatal descent into alcoholism. After Mama Jean ushers him into rehab and he ultimately begins to dig out of the hole he'd found himself in, he almost misses his chance to prove that he loves her as much as she loves him.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read Jamie Brickhouse’s bio.
-Click here to visit Jamie Brickhouse’s official website.
-Connect with Jamie Brickhouse on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our New Release Spotlight.
Now in Stores: EARLY WARNING by Jane Smiley
EARLY WARNING by Jane Smiley (Historical Fiction)
EARLY WARNING opens in 1953 with the Langdon family at a crossroads. Their stalwart patriarch, Walter, has suddenly died, leaving their five children, now adults, looking to the future. As the country moves out of post-World War II optimism through the darker landscape of the Cold War and the social and sexual revolutions of the 1960s and ’70s, and then into the unprecedented wealth (for some) of the early 1980s, the Langdon children each follow a different path in a rapidly changing world. Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE LAST BOOKANEER by Matthew Pearl
THE LAST BOOKANEER by Matthew Pearl (Historical Fiction)
Pen Davenport is the most infamous bookaneer in Europe. A master of disguise, he makes his living stalking harbors, coffeehouses and print shops for the latest manuscript to steal. For a hundred years, loose copyright laws and a hungry reading public created a unique opportunity: books could be published without an author’s permission. Yet on the eve of the 20th century, the bookaneers are on the verge of extinction, as a new international treaty is signed to grind this literary underground to a sharp halt. THE LAST BOOKANEER tells the astonishing story of these literary thieves’ epic final heist. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
New Paperback Spotlight: THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd
THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd (Historical Fiction)
Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early 19th-century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimkes' daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s 11th birthday, when she is given ownership of 10-year-old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next 35 years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read Sue Monk Kidd’s bio.
-Click here to visit Sue Monk Kidd’s official website.
-Connect with Sue Monk Kidd on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Paperback Spotlight.
New Paperback Spotlight: BRIDGE TO HAVEN by Francine Rivers
BRIDGE TO HAVEN by Francine Rivers (Historical Fiction)
To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she’s paid to finally feel like she’s somebody.

To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua --- Abra’s closest friend --- watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what’s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read Francine Rivers’ bio.
-Click here to visit Francine Rivers’ official website.
-Click here to connect with Francine Rivers on Facebook.
Click here to read more in our Paperback Spotlight.
Celebrating the Launch of the New!
Home is where the books are. Enter to win a year of books from!

Ready to build your own literary landscape? Now that we’re merging our libraries, we want to help you create and polish your own home collection.

Have a favorite genre? Pick and choose from our list of literary fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, romance, nonfiction, young adult, and more! One winner will randomly be selected to win 5 books in their favorite genres a month for a year.
Click here to enter to win a year of books from!'s 10th Annual Mother's Day Contest: Books Mom Will Love
Mother’s Day is a time to recognize the woman who raised and nurtured us. To celebrate, we're giving you the opportunity to win books and goodies for you or the special lady in your life in our 10th annual "Books Mom Will Love" contest. From now through Monday, May 11th at noon ET, readers can enter to win one of our 25 prize packages, which includes a selection of five books listed below, along with some delicious Ghirardelli chocolate, tea from Tea Forté and Yardley Bar Soap. (Please note that two of these titles --- the eShorts CAT AND JEMIMA J by Jane Green and WHAT SHE REALLY WANTS by Barbara Delinsky --- are available for free download on Amazon Kindle beginning May 5th.)

With books that are moving, uplifting, humorous and informative, look no further than for the perfect gift for Mom.

To enter, please fill out this form by Monday, May 11th at noon ET.

This year's featured titles are:

Click here to read more about the prize books and enter the contest. Bets On: THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD by Elizabeth Alexander
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander (Memoir)
Elizabeth Alexander --- the celebrated poet invited to speak at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration --- has released her first memoir, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. In 2012, Elizabeth found herself at a crossroads after the sudden loss of her husband, Ficre, who was an artist, a chef, and a loving husband and father. Here, she combines her beautiful use of language into rich prose to convey the story of her love and loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the sudden trauma of losing her husband and the strength she found in caring for her sons, she realizes it is possible to find meaning in loss.

I read this book in an evening in late October and was completely captivated by the honesty of her writing, as well as the way she looks at the subject of the raw wound of losing a loved one and how to heal from it. The one thing I clearly see is that the loss of a spouse means the loss of someone to do nothing with. We all can find someone to do something with. But as you build a life with someone, it becomes the sharing of a myriad of little things --- the routines that build the rhythm of your world. And when they are tugged away, your world goes off its axis and needs to be realigned. Elizabeth brilliantly describes the loss of smells and other sensory things, which are lost along with the person.

Grief is built on many memories both big and small, and Elizabeth captures how they ebb and flow. I love how she talks about preserving Ficre's life and honoring him...and working to continue to build a world for herself and her sons. It is a really beautiful book.

I have had the pleasure of being in Elizabeth’s company three times over the last few months, and each was a complete delight. We spoke extensively about the book. I have four friends who lost their spouses at young ages, and THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is something I think each could relate to. This also would make for a brilliant book group discussion.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
Click here for more books we're betting you'll love.
Stanley Meisler on SHOCKING PARIS and the Great Russian Jewish Migration to Pre-World War II France
Stanley Meisler is an emeritus foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. He is a distant relation (by marriage) of expressionist painter Chaim Soutine and has written several articles on Soutine and the School of Paris for the Smithsonian and the Los Angeles Times. In this piece, Meisler provides a bit of social and historical context for his latest book, SHOCKING PARIS: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse. He talks about the grim circumstances that led to the flight of many Jews to France in the years leading up to World War II, as well as his own personal connection to the story he’s telling --- including his brave uncle and aunt, who overcame bleak odds to achieve a degree of success in early 20th-century Paris.

SHOCKING PARIS: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse by Stanley Meisler (History)
For a couple of decades before World War II, a group of immigrant painters and sculptors, including Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine and Jules Pascin, dominated the new art scene of Montparnasse in Paris. Modigliani and Chagall eventually attained enormous worldwide popularity, but in those earlier days, most School of Paris painters looked on Soutine as their most talented contemporary. In constant fear of the French police and the German Gestapo, plagued by poor health and bouts of depression, Soutine was the epitome of the tortured artist.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read Stanley Meisler's article on the great Russian Jewish migration to pre-World War II France.
Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight: THE ART OF BAKING BLIND by Sarah Vaughan
THE ART OF BAKING BLIND by Sarah Vaughan (Fiction)
In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookbook writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes. Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs. Eaden. There's Jenny, facing an empty nest now that her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife's death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it's like to have nothing and is determined her facade shouldn't slip.

As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest pastry seems the least of the contestants' problems. For they will learn --- just as Mrs. Eaden did before them --- that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in life.

THE ART OF BAKING BLIND releases on May 5th.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read Sarah Vaughan’s bio.
-Connect with Sarah Vaughan on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight.
More Reviews This Week
ON THE MOVE: A Life by Oliver Sacks (Memoir)
From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, ON THE MOVE is infused with Oliver Sacks’ restless energy. As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California, where he struggled with drug addiction, and then in New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, we see how his engagement with patients comes to define his life. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

GATHERING PREY by John Sandford (Thriller)
They call them Travelers. They move from city to city, panhandling, committing no crimes --- they just like to stay on the move. And now somebody is killing them. Lucas Davenport’s adopted daughter, Letty, gets a phone call from a woman Traveler who thinks somebody is killing her friends, she’s afraid she knows who it is, and now her male companion has gone missing. In the days to come, Lucas will embark upon an odyssey through a subculture unlike any he has ever seen --- and that just may change the course of his life. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

HOT PURSUIT: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods (Thriller/Adventure)
Stone Barrington meets a gorgeous pilot who’s soon moving to New York and available for closer acquaintance. Their travels together lead them from Wichita to Europe, but trailing them is his new lady love’s unstable, criminal ex-boyfriend. And while Stone is fending off his newest adversary, trouble is brewing on the international stage. Several enemy operatives are at large, and only a coordinated intelligence effort will have any chance of stopping their deadly plot. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

MADAM PRESIDENT by Nicolle Wallace (Fiction)
Charlotte Kramer is the 45th President of the United States. During her term, five major attacks are leveled on US soil. Her secretary of defense and her press secretary must reassure the country that the safety they treasure is in capable hands. But secrets have always thrived in President Kramer’s White House. All three of these women are hiding personal and professional secrets that could rock the West Wing to its very foundations…and change the lives of the people they love most. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

THE SYMPATHIZER by Viet Thanh Nguygen (Historical Fiction)
It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. Reviewed by Miriam Tuliao.

THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (Fiction)
American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

WORDS WITHOUT MUSIC: A Memoir by Philip Glass (Memoir)
A world-renowned composer of symphonies, operas and film scores, Philip Glass has, almost single-handedly, crafted the dominant sound of late-20th-century classical music. Yet here, in WORDS WITHOUT MUSIC, he creates an entirely new and unexpected voice --- that of a born storyteller and an acutely insightful chronicler, whose behind-the-scenes recollections allow readers to experience those moments of creative fusion when life so magically merged with art. Reviewed by Pauline Finch.

I REFUSE written by Per Petterson, translated by Don Bartlett (Fiction)
Per Petterson weaves a tale of two men whose accidental meeting one morning recalls their boyhood 35 years ago. Back then, Tommy was separated from his sisters after he stood up to their abusive father. Jim was by Tommy's side through it all. But one winter night, a chance event on a frozen lake forever changed the balance of their friendship. Now Jim fishes alone on a bridge as Tommy drives by in a new Mercedes, and it's clear their fortunes have reversed. Over the course of the day, the life of each man will be irrevocably altered. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

THE INVENTION OF FIRE by Bruce Holsinger (Historical Thriller)
When 16 bodies turn up in London riddled with small puncture holes, everyone is stumped and seems to be hiding something. That’s when John Gower, a poor poet but excellent trader of secrets, is at his best. Summoned to investigate these strange murders, Gower finds only treachery and the possibility of a very real threat to the city and its inhabitants: a terrifying new weapon very few know of --- the handgonne. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

BELIEVER: My Forty Years in Politics by David Axelrod (Memoir/Politics)
Whether as a young journalist investigating city corruption, a campaign consultant guiding underdog candidates against entrenched orthodoxy, or as senior adviser to the president during one of the worst crises in American history, David Axelrod held fast to his faith in the power of stories to unite diverse communities and ignite transformative political change. Now this legendary strategist, the mastermind behind Barack Obama’s historic election campaigns, shares a wealth of stories from his 40-year journey through the inner workings of American democracy. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

THE DOLL MAKER by Richard Montanari (Mystery)
A murdered girl is found posed on a newly painted bench. Beside her is a formal invitation to a tea dance in a week's time. Seven days later, two more young victims are discovered in an abandoned house, posed on painted swings. At the scene is an identical invitation. This time, though, there is something extra waiting for Detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano: a delicate porcelain doll. They have just seven more days to find the link between the murders before another innocent child is snatched from the streets. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DARK CITY LIGHTS: New York Stories edited by Lawrence Block (Noir Mystery/Short Stories)
Famed detective and mystery writer Lawrence Block takes the helm as guest editor for DARK CITY LIGHTS, the fourth edition of the Have a NYC series. Here are 23 thrilling, hilarious and poignant short stories --- all based in New York City --- written by new and acclaimed fiction masters, including Robert Silverberg, Ed Park, Jim Fusilli, Parnell Hall, SJ Rozan, Brian Koppelman, Elaine Kagan and more. Additional authors include Thomas Pluck, Warren Moore, Erin Mitchell and Tom Callahan. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

WHAT YOU LEFT BEHIND by Samantha Hayes (Psychological Thriller)
Two years after a terrifying spate of teenage suicides, the remote village of Radcote has just begun to heal. Then a young man is killed in a freak motorcycle accident, and a suicide note is found among his belongings. When a second boy is found dead shortly thereafter, the nightmare of repeat suicides once again threatens the community. Detective Inspector Lorraine Fisher becomes determined to discover the truth behind these deaths. Are they suicides, or is there something more sinister at work? Reviewed by Ray Palen.

GBH by Ted Lewis (Crime Fiction)
In London, George Fowler heads a lucrative criminal syndicate that specializes in the production and distribution of “blue films” --- nasty illegal pornography. But his entire world is in jeopardy. Someone is undermining his empire from within, and he becomes increasingly ruthless in his pursuit of the unknown traitor. As his paranoia envelops him, Fowler loses trust in just about everyone, including his closest friends and associates, and begins to rely on the opinions of an increasingly smaller set of advisors. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
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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 April 24th to May 8th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of A GOD IN RUINS by Kate Atkinson, THE LAST BOOKANEER by Matthew Pearl, and THE WRIGHT BROTHERS by David McCullough.

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