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Weekly Update

August 15, 2014

Bookreporter.com Newsletter August 15, 2014
Summer, Please Slooooooooooow Down

This week, I noticed that the hours of daylight definitely are waning. While I used to be able to race home from the city to get in a walk and a swim while there was still daylight, that is not so easy anymore. Last night, under the stars and with the pool light on, I floated and jogged around in the pool where the heater had it at a lovely 87 degrees, and I felt myself unwinding from a very crazy week. On my bucket list is a hot tub so I can keep this trend going all winter!

When we left off last weekend, we were Hamptons-bound to Amagansett. There was beach time, a lovely drive to Montauk, many memories made, and lots of reading time. I finished both DOLLBABY by Laura Lane McNeal, which I loved and have selected as a Bookreporter.com Bets On selection (you can read more about that later in this newsletter), and I finished THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH by Christopher Scotton, which is just wonderful, and I'm thinking many of you are going to love it when it releases on January 6th. My husband finished THE WOLF by Lorenzo Carcaterra, which he could not put down. My favorite line was that he needed to keep reading, so we had to go to the grocery store on our own! As a booklover, what could I say? From there, I handed him THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH, which he read until 1:30 in the morning and agreed with all of my praise for it. Ah, I wonder if he knows how lucky he is to be married to a book concierge!

On Saturday night, I attended the East Hampton Library’s Authors Night, which was such fun. My worlds collided as two people I worked with at Conde Nast --- Andrea Quinn Robinson (author of TOSS THE GLOSS) and Mary Emmerling (author of THE AMERICAN FLAG: Art, Design, Fashion) --- were signing books, and other Mademoiselle pals were in attendance. I bought two copies of TOSS THE GLOSS, which is chock full of beauty tips for women over 50 (which, though I only admit to 27, WILL come in handy!). Coincidentally we were the houseguests of Moe Schwartz, who had taken Andrea under his wing when she worked at Revlon, thus one copy was signed from her to him, which I was excited about. Talk about the perfect hostess present. Signed books are great items!

I also got the snazzy hat above when I made an extra $2 donation. The writing was in turquoise. How could I say no?

John Searles took the selfie of the two of us above when I stopped by his table to gossip...I mean, catch up on his writing...at Authors Night. I have never taken a selfie, but he was all over this! I have FULL coverage of this event in a blog here where I channeled my inner Entertainment Weekly and "Extra!" self, and took tons of photos and wrote commentary on ALL the authors I caught up with…and some others who I spied from afar. Cell phone cameras are sooooo dicey in bad light, but I wanted you all to get to feel like you were there. Lots of news from the authors as well, so be sure to check it out!

By the way, we realize that some of you may have been traveling over the last few weeks, and thus you may have missed a newsletter in your mailbox. No fear, we archive them here so you can find the ones you may have missed.

The next book was a HUGE topic of conversation at our Tuesday editorial staff meeting, as John was racing through it and Shara could not wait to read it. I solved that with a phone call to the publisher to request another copy! With midnight events and much fanfare, Haruki Murakami has released COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE, the English translation of his novel that sold more than one million copies during its first week on sale in Japan. We are introduced to Tsukuru Tazaki, a man haunted by a great loss that occurred during his sophomore year in college and has perplexed him ever since. Initially left lonely and suicidal, Tsukuru is now 36 and realizes he must finally confront his past in order to clear the way for his future. Encouraged by his girlfriend, Sara, Tsukuru embarks on a quest for truth so that he may find himself. Michael Magras has our review and says, “[Murakami's] prose style is chatty and straightforward, with a lot of stage direction and lengthy conversations. The philosophical heft of his themes makes this technique work.... a mesmerizing novel by one of the world’s best storytellers.”

Return to Debbie Macomber’s charming Rose Harbor Inn in LOVE LETTERS. Jo Marie has been busy all summer trying to keep the property running with handyman Mark Taylor. Although the two are just friends, Jo Marie is realizing she wants to know more about her mysterious friend --- but first there are guests to welcome. Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds arrives first, visiting Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months. Next to check in are Maggie and Roy Porter, hoping to rekindle their marriage after the births of their children. Before the novel’s end, each character will be touched by the power of a well-timed love letter --- and broken hearts will be mended. Reviewer Donna Smallwood says, "Mending a broken heart is not always easy to do, but Macomber succeeds at this beautifully in LOVE LETTERS. By creating a lively narrative interspersed with appropriate spatial timing, she is able to keep the story flowing evenly, never allowing for wasted space or loss of interest." I love this series and must get this one for my vacation reading.

THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, the highly-anticipated conclusion to Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, is a #1 New York Times bestseller. The novel finds Quentin Coldwater cast out of Fillory, the magical land of his childhood dreams that he once ruled. With nothing left to lose, he returns to the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. Along with Plum, a brilliant young magician with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path that takes him back to old haunts and old friends he thought were lost forever. He soon uncovers the key to a sorcerous masterwork, a spell that could create a new Fillory --- but he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. According to reviewer Harvey Freedenberg, “It’s clearly too early to predict that Grossman’s trilogy someday will be mentioned in the same breath as the works of C.S. Lewis or J. K. Rowling. But with these more than 1,100 pages of frequently thrilling, emotionally mature and ultimately magnificent fantasy, he’s at least staked a serious claim to be considered for inclusion in their beloved company.”

Our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight of Martha Woodroof and her debut novel, SMALL BLESSINGS, wraps up this week with our review and interview. Small-town college professor Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. Ten years ago, his wife, Marjory, discovered his affair with a visiting poetess, which exacerbated her neuroses and left her completely dependent on him. When Marjory makes a new friend, however, things seem to be looking up --- until Tom receives a letter from the poetess informing him that their affair resulted in a son. Now that son is heading Tom’s way, and he must prepare for his whole life to change. Amie Taylor has our review and says, “Filled with one twist and turn after another, some sensational and some sorrowful, SMALL BLESSINGS shows us just how absurd life can be and how, if we just keep plugging away, things will be all right in the end, especially if we remember to be thankful for our small blessings.” Also, be sure to read Amie’s interview with Martha here.

Our History Books roundup for August has been updated. Among this month’s featured titles are IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides (which we’re reviewing this week); THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein (which we reviewed last week); INFIDEL KINGS AND UNHOLY WARRIORS: Faith, Power, and Violence in the Age of Crusade and Jihad by Brian A. Catlos; and PEPPER: A History of the World's Most Influential Spice by Marjorie Shaffer.

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? Click here to take our latest poll and let us know!

There’s still plenty of time to enter our current Word of Mouth contest. Let us know by Friday, August 22nd at noon ET what books you’ve read, and you’ll be in the running to win the aforementioned LOVE LETTERS: A Rose Harbor Novel by Debbie Macomber, along with MEAN STREAK by Sandra Brown and WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas (this will be a Bookreporter.com Bets On selection), both of which we’ll be reviewing next week.

Do you read Young Adult (YA) books? We know MANY adults do. Are you interested in sharing your opinion to "Name a YA website"? I thought so! Then take this short 5-minute survey that we’ve been featuring on our Teenreads.com and 20SomethingReads.com websites. You can enter to win a bestselling YA novel once you finish answering the questions. The survey closes on Monday, August 18th, so click here and take it before it’s too late! And be sure to send the survey link to all the teens and twentysomethings you know, as we would love to have as much feedback from them as possible. One title is in the lead, and I am loving watching the results!

As we think back on the many special moments that Robin Williams brought to our lives, I found this piece by Roger Tagholm that looks back at how he brought moments of poetry and literature to life for a generation, instilling them in the popular culture.

I did not get much listening time in this week during my commute. I started dipping into Pat O’Brien’s I’LL BE RIGHT BACK, which releases next week. The author narrates, and I think I have found someone who talks faster than me! My husband is listening to the aforementioned THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein. I am an audiobook concierge as well!

Traveling last week, I did not get to watch "Outlander" on Starz yet, but I have that on tap for the weekend. And we had a reader write in who wants to share some commentary on the books versus the show, which we hope to have for you next week!

As expected, the Japanese beetles had a party with our roses while we were gone. I came home and was so sad when I looked at them. A few of you have suggested some systemic things that we can do to try to alleviate the problem for next year. We had used Milky Spore a few years ago, and I need to do that again. This year was a particularly bad one for these insects, which I have learned can fly as far as a mile. I need to shut down their flight patterns! Also, if you have one on a leaf, there’s a party brewing in a moment.

Tomorrow, we are headed to the beach to celebrate my parents’ 60th anniversary. My sister and her family are flying in, and it’s going to be a great time. Photo op time! I need to think what outfit I want to be immortalized in. Maybe they each can hold up a book that I select for them.

Lots of reading time in between gardening and floating in the pool this weekend. Hasn’t this been a great year for reading? Hope we help you too become book concierges.

Have a great week…and read on….


Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

Now in Stores: COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE by Haruki Murakami
COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE by Haruki Murakami (Fiction)
Of the five inseparable high school friends growing up in Nagoya, Japan, Tsukuru Tazaki is the only one whose surname doesn’t include a color. Despite this and other factors that distinguish him from the rest of the group, Tsukuru is a valued friend until, without explanation, the others decide they never want to see him again. Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, shorter and less surreal than many of its predecessors, is another portrait of a confused loner’s metaphysical journey. Reviewed by Michael Magras.

-Click here to read more about the book.
 
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: LOVE LETTERS by Debbie Macomber
LOVE LETTERS: A Rose Harbor Novel by Debbie Macomber (Romance)
Summer is a busy season at the Rose Harbor Inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own --- and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths. Reviewed by Donna Smallwood.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to visit Debbie Macomber’s official website.
 
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE MAGICIAN’S LAND by Lev Grossman
THE MAGICIAN’S LAND by Lev Grossman (Fantasy)
Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. He uncovers a spell that could create magical utopia, a new Fillory --- but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them, he will have to risk sacrificing everything. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to read more about the book.
 
Click here to read a review.
Bookreporter.com Talks to Martha Woodroof, Author of SMALL BLESSINGS --- Our Latest Women's Fiction Author Spotlight Title
Martha Woodroof's debut novel, SMALL BLESSINGS, introduces readers to Tom Putnam, a college English professor who is stuck in an existence that hasn't changed in decades. Suddenly, he finds that his life takes on new light and expanded possibilities when everything around him is upended by what first appears to be a terrible tragedy. In this interview, Woodroof talks to Bookreporter.com’s Amie Taylor about what inspires people to venture out of their comfort zones and pursue happiness, and how love can hold together even the most diverse groups. She also opens up about why she can’t choose favorites when it comes to her characters and the reason she prefers country living to city life.

SMALL BLESSINGS by Martha Woodroof (Fiction)
Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. For more than 10 years, his wife Marjory has been a shut-in whose neuroses have left her fully dependent on Tom and his formidable mother-in-law. Tom considers his unhappy condition self-inflicted, since Marjory’s condition was exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess. When a letter from the poetess arrives telling Tom that he’d fathered her son, Henry, and that Henry will arrive by train in a few days, it’s clear change is coming whether Tom is ready or not. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-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 see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.
-Click here to read more in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight.
 
Click here to read our interview.
Now in Stores: IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE by Hampton Sides
IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides (History)
On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of "Arctic Fever." The ship sailed into uncharted seas, but soon was trapped in pack ice. Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew abandoned the ship. Thus began their long march across the endless ice --- a frozen hell in the most lonesome corner of the world --- as they desperately strove for survival. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

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

 
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: AN UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE by Charles Todd
AN UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd (Historical Mystery)
Home on leave, Bess Crawford is asked to accompany a wounded soldier confined to a wheelchair to Buckingham Palace, where he is to be decorated by the King. The next morning when Bess goes to collect Wilkins, he has vanished. Then comes disturbing word from the Shropshire police, complicating the already-difficult situation: Wilkins has been spotted, and he’s killed a man. If Bess is to save her own reputation, she must find Wilkins and uncover the truth. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to read more about the book.

 
Click here to read a review.
Bookreporter.com Bets On: DOLLBABY by Laura Lane McNeal
DOLLBABY by Laura Lane McNeal (Historical Fiction)
I am not sure how I missed Laura Lane McNeal’s debut novel, DOLLBABY, when it was published in early July, but I am glad I caught up to it now. Set in New Orleans during the summer of ’64 when the Civil Rights movement was infiltrating the South, it’s a page-turner. The book opens with Ibby Bell (her real name is Liberty Alice Bell) being dropped off at the home of her wildly eccentric grandmother, Fannie, by her mom, Vidrine. Ibby’s dad died in an accident a few months ago, one that Ibby witnessed, and thus it’s far easier for Vidrine to hand her off than raise her. Just before she drives off, she hands Ibby an urn filled with her father’s ashes --- you know, the perfect hostess gift when you arrive at your grandmother’s house.

The big wild opener takes a calming new turn when Dollbaby heads down the walk to collect Ibby and sweeps her towards the house and into her new life. Dollbaby’s mom is Queenie, whose role is the cook at the house, but, in reality, she runs the house rolling according to Miss Fannie’s moods and doling out wisdom and love. Miss Fannie is known to have spells when she thinks about her past, ones that can take her away for extended psychiatric stays. There’s a lot of tragedy wrapped up within the walls of this Uptown mansion, and tons of secrets to boot.

Amid the craziness, there’s also humor. My favorite humorous scene occurs in a black church the Sunday after the Civil Rights Act is signed. Fannie is “away,” and thus Queenie and Dollbaby shepherd Ibby to their church. The preacher “asks for liberty.” Ibby takes him seriously, thinking of her real name, and marches to the front of the church. You can imagine the reaction.

Part two takes place in 1968, and part three is set in 1972, allowing us to see Ibby grow up and the story to take on a nice pace.

One more note. Often in books set in New Orleans, the city becomes a character, and “place” overtakes the storyline. That does not happen in DOLLBABY, and I love the book all the more for that. There is lots to talk about for book groups, and yes, New Orleans-inspired food is perfect for discussion fare.


-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read an interview with Laura Lane McNeal.

 
Click here for more books we’re betting you’ll love.
Bookreporter.com's History Books Roundup for August
August’s roundup of History titles includes IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides, a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age; THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, Rick Perlstein’s examination of an America on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the tumultuous political and economic times of the 1970s; INFIDEL KINGS AND UNHOLY WARRIORS: Faith, Power, and Violence in the Age of Crusade and Jihad by Brian A. Catlos, an in-depth portrait of the Crusades-era Mediterranean world and a new understanding of the forces that shaped it; and PEPPER: A History of the World's Most Influential Spice, in which Marjorie Shaffer describes the essential role that pepper played in bringing both Americans and Europeans to Asia.
 
Click here to see our History Books roundup for August.
Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight: WINDIGO ISLAND by William Kent Krueger
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.

WINDIGO ISLAND releases on August 19th.

-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 see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.
 
Click here to read more in our Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight.
Answer Our 5-Minute Survey: Help Name a YA Website --- Deadline is Monday, August 18th!
Do you read Young Adult (YA) books? We know MANY adults do.

Are you interested in sharing your opinion to "Name a YA website"? We thought so!

Then take this short 5-minute survey that we’ve been featuring on our Teenreads.com and 20SomethingReads.com websites. You can enter to win a bestselling YA novel once you finish answering the questions. And be sure to send the survey link to all the teens and twentysomethings you know, as we would love to have as much feedback from them as possible.


The deadline to take the survey is Monday, August 18th. We look forward to hearing what you have to say!
 
Click here to take the "Name a YA Website" survey.
New Guides Now Available on ReadingGroupGuides.com
The following guides are now available on ReadingGroupGuides.com:

AFTER I'M GONE by Laura Lippman (Mystery)
Felix Brewer left five women behind. Now there are four. Does one of them know the truth?

THE BARTER by Siobhan Adcock (Psychological Thriller)
THE BARTER is a heart-stopping tale, as provocative as it is suspenseful, about two conflicted women, separated by 100 years and bound by an unthinkable sacrifice.

CHINA DOLLS by Lisa See (Historical Fiction)
Three young women from very different backgrounds become fast friends in 1938 San Francisco --- until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.

If you missed Lisa See on the road for the CHINA DOLLS tour, here's a link to a talk she gave at the San Francisco Library.

DIARY OF THE FALL by Michel Laub, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Fiction)
A cruel schoolboy prank leaves the only Catholic boy in an elite Jewish school in Porto Alegre terribly injured. Years later, one of his classmates revisits that episode, trying to come to terms with the choices he made then and his present demons.

THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo (Supernatural/Historical Mystery)
Yangsze Choo’s stunning debut, THE GHOST BRIDE, is a startlingly original novel infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue and unexpected supernatural twists.

THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica (Psychological Thriller)
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems...

SMALL BLESSINGS by Martha Woodroof (Fiction)
Readers who loved MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND will adore this inspiring debut of a small-town college professor, a remarkable new woman at the bookshop, and the 10-year old son he never knew he had.

SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY by Joshilyn Jackson (Romance)
SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY is beloved and highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson's funny, charming and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about falling in love, and learning that things aren't always what they seem --- or what we hope they will be.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper (Fiction)
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind --- whether we like it or not.

THREE BARGAINS by Tania Malik (Fiction)
A tale of fathers and sons, the ties that bind, and the barriers of class that even love cannot break, THREE BARGAINS is a stunning first novel, as potent, heart-stopping and epic as Khaled Hosseini's THE KITE RUNNER.


Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

APPROACHING THE SPEED OF LIGHT by Victoria Lustbader (Fiction)
Jody’s buried secrets hold him back until his trajectory crosses the path of three very different women, who, in their own ways, hold out the tantalizing possibility of healing, connection…or self-destruction.

UNBROKEN: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (Biography)
Appearing in paperback for the first time --- with 20 arresting new photos and an extensive Q&A with the author --- UNBROKEN is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body and spirit, brought vividly to life by SEABISCUIT author Laura Hillenbrand.

WE ARE WATER by Wally Lamb (Fiction)

WE ARE WATER is a disquieting and ultimately uplifting novel about a marriage, a family and human resilience in the face of tragedy.
 
Click here to visit ReadingGroupGuides.com.
More Reviews This Week
TOM CLANCY SUPPORT AND DEFEND: A Campus Novel by Mark Greaney (Thriller/Adventure)
Dominic Caruso, the nephew of President Jack Ryan, is an FBI agent and operator for The Campus, a top secret intelligence agency that works off the books for the U.S. government. Ethan Ross is on the run with a microdrive that contains enough information to wreck American intelligence efforts around the world. The CIA is desperate to get the drive back, but so are the Russians and various terrorist groups. Only Caruso stands in their way. Can he succeed without the aid of his Campus colleagues? Reviewed by Ray Palen.

AN EVENT IN AUTUMN: A Kurt Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankell (Mystery)
After nearly 30 years in the same job, Inspector Kurt Wallander is tired, restless and itching to make a change. He is taken with a certain old farmhouse, perfectly situated in a quiet countryside with a charming, overgrown garden. There he finds the skeletal hand of a corpse in a shallow grave. Wallander’s investigation takes him deep into the history of the house and the land, until finally the shocking truth about a long-buried secret is brought to light. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

A COLDER WAR by Charles Cumming (Thriller)
A top-ranking Iranian military official is killed while trying to defect to the West. An investigative journalist is imprisoned for writing an article critical of the Turkish government. An Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated on the streets of Tehran. Then Paul Wallinger, MI6’s most senior agent in Turkey, dies in a puzzling plane crash. Fearing the worst, MI6 bypasses the usual protocol and brings disgraced agent Tom Kell in from the cold to investigate. Kell soon discovers what Wallinger had already begun to suspect --- that there’s a mole somewhere in the Western intelligence. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE RUSH: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853 by Edward Dolnick (History)
In the spring of 1848, rumors began to spread that gold had been discovered in a remote spot in the Sacramento Valley. A year later, newspaper headlines declared "Gold Fever!" as hundreds of thousands of men and women borrowed money, quit their jobs, and allowed themselves to imagine a future of ease and splendor. In THE RUSH, Edward Dolnick recounts their treacherous westward journeys by wagon and on foot, and takes us to the frenzied gold fields and the rowdy cities that sprang from nothing to jam-packed chaos. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

THE MOUNTAINTOP SCHOOL FOR DOGS AND OTHER SECOND CHANCES by Ellen Cooney (Fiction)
Ellen Cooney’s latest novel is the story of two women and a whole pack of dogs who, having lost their way in the world, find a place at a training school --- and radical rescue center --- called the Sanctuary. It is a story of strays and rescues, kidnappings and homecomings, moving on, holding on and letting go. And it is, ultimately, a moving and hilarious chronicle of the ways in which humans and canines help each other find new lives, new selves and new hope. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

BRAINQUAKE by Samuel Fuller (Noir Crime Fiction)
The bagmen who transport money for organized crime live by a set of rules: no personal relationships, no ties, no women…and never, ever look inside the bag you’re carrying. Paul Page was the perfect bagman, despite suffering from a rare brain disorder. But that ended the day he saw a beautiful Mob wife become a Mob widow. Now Paul is going to break every rule he’s lived by --- even if it means he might be left holding the bag. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

THREE BARGAINS by Tania Malik (Fiction)
Twelve-year-old Madan's father works for Avtaar Singh, who owns the largest factory in town and much of the land around it. When Madan’s father's misdeeds jeopardize his sister's life, Madan strikes his first bargain with Avtaar Singh to save her. Drawn into Avtaar Singh's violent world, Madan becomes his son in every way but by blood. Suddenly it looks as if everything will change for Madan and his family until a forbidden love affair has brutal consequences, and he is forced to leave behind all that is dear to him. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.

THE FROZEN DEAD by Bernard Minier (Mystery)
One winter morning, a group of workers discover the headless, flayed body of a horse, hanging suspended from the edge of a frozen cliff. There’s something disturbing about this crime that Commandant Martin Servaz can’t ignore. Then DNA from one of the most notorious inmates of an asylum, a highly intelligent former prosecutor accused of killing and raping several women, is found on the horse carcass. And a few days later, the first human murder takes place. A dark story of madness and revenge seems to be unfolding. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE INVENTION OF EXILE by Vanessa Manko (Historical Fiction)
When Austin Voronko is wrongly accused of attending anarchist gatherings, his limited grasp of English condemns him to his fate as a deportee, retreating with his new bride to his home in Russia, where he and his young family become embroiled in the Civil War and must flee once again, to Mexico. While Julia and the children are eventually able to return to the U.S., Austin becomes indefinitely stranded in Mexico City because of the black mark on his record. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

I CAN SEE IN THE DARK by Karin Fossum (Psychological Thriller)
Riktor doesn’t like the way the policeman storms into his home without even knocking. He knows he’s guilty of a terrible crime and is sure the policeman has found him out. But when the policeman finally does confront him, Riktor freezes. The man is arresting him for something totally unexpected. Riktor doesn’t have a clear conscience, but the crime he’s being accused of is one he certainly didn’t commit. Can he clear his name without further incriminating himself? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE BLACK ROAD by Tania Carver (Thriller)
The honeymoon is over for newlywed criminologist Marina Esposito. Her house is in flames. Her detective husband is in a coma. Her baby daughter is missing. And then her phone rings: "I have something you've lost," the voice said. "Your daughter." The voice at the other end wants to play a game. If Marina completes a series of bizarre tasks within three days, she wins her daughter's life. If she fails, her little girl dies. 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
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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.
 
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