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October 16, 2015 Newsletter October 16, 2015
Whenever Readers Gather…There is Bookish Chatter! (and I Think That Rhymes)

Last week’s three-day weekend led to a jam-packed week this week. Whew!

When we left off, I was headed to the Ocean County Library's Book Group Leaders Tea in Toms River. What a fun afternoon that was with 100-plus very enthusiastic book group members in attendance, including my mom. I presented 40 books that we selected over at to be book group favorites; it was really a lovely day, and I was glad my mom got to share it with me! I wave my bookmark at the library team that coordinated and ran this event. I learned that they even made the refreshments --- lovely cucumber sandwiches among them!

As promised, we are bringing you three blog pieces this week, each event-related. First up, Rebecca Munro has coverage of the Morristown Book Festival. Next, a merry band of mystery writers, including Alafair Burke, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Wendy Corsi Staub, Lisa Unger and three publishing professionals, report on Bouchercon, the world mystery conference that was held in Raleigh last weekend. One question we ask is “What did you drink at the bar?” After all, it can’t ALL be about books and writing, right? And last but certainly not least, we have our New York Comic Con report on the pop culture weekend that had 167,000 very exuberant fans jamming the Javits Center. Read what booth surprised me the most. Trust me, you never would have guessed this one!

Drum roll here... We have a very special movie offer for you! As you know from last week's newsletter, a number of us went to see the movie adaptation of ROOM and loved it. The film opens in New York and LA this weekend with showings Friday and Saturday; see listings here with some special events in both cities. The film company that produced Room is offering us a limited number of screening tickets for our readers in select cities on October 21st and 26th. Click here to see if tickets are available near you! When you see the film, we'd love to hear what you think about it!

We’re delighted to present our latest Sneak Peek Contest featuring THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian, which will be available on January 5th. Kristin Chapman is expecting a certain amount of mischief when she agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother’s bachelor party. But when she and her daughter leave the men to their own devices in their home for the evening, she has no way to expect that her husband will share an intimate moment with the hired entertainment and two men will be dead before morning. With Kristin and Richard’s home now a crime scene, and Richard on indefinite leave from work, Kristin’s life spirals. But her struggles are nothing compared to those of Alexandra, a woman whose role as a sex trafficking victim is finally over --- but she is at risk for her own life.

As you may recall, I read this book a few weeks ago and found myself flying through it. Chris builds plot tension so well with this story and focuses on a very serious topic --- human trafficking. In anticipation of its forthcoming release, we are giving away 35 advance copies to readers who can commit to sharing their comments on it by Friday, December 11th. To enter, please fill out this form by Friday, October 30th at noon ET. Remember that you have to BE SURE you can read the book by December 11th to enter; those who do not respond to our Sneak Peek contests are ineligible to win them again.

Garth Risk Hallberg whisks readers back to 1970s New York City in his highly anticipated first novel, CITY ON FIRE. At the center of his much-talked-about debut is a mysterious shooting that occurs in Central Park on New Year’s Eve. The shooting brings together several lives, from Regan and William, estranged heirs, to Keith and Mercer, their lovers, and even Charlie and Samantha, punk rock teens. As a detective struggles to figure out what each of these people has to do with the mystery, all of their lives are forever changed during the blackout of July 13, 1977.

Please be sure to check out all of our coverage of CITY ON FIRE. Read more about the book, take a look inside the book, check out the readers’ guide, view the book trailer, and watch Garth talk about the book at this year’s BEA Librarians’ Breakfast. I had the pleasure of interviewing Garth at the Author Buzz panel at BEA, and as I remember New York in the '70s very vividly, it was a great conversation.

Nicholas Sparks reminds readers of the power of love with his newest romance, SEE ME. With a history of violence and bad decisions, Colin Hancock is determined to change his ways. In an attempt to do so, he focuses on getting his teaching degree and avoiding any and all former vices. Maria Sanchez, on the other hand, is the picture of success. The diligent daughter of Mexican immigrants, Maria boasts a degree from Duke Law School and a prestigious job at a reputable law firm. Maria has a past of her own, however, one that leaves her questioning many of her beliefs. When a chance encounter pushes Colin and Maria together, their opinions of one another are challenged and love begins to take hold --- until their demons threaten to destroy their budding romance.

Judy Gigstad, who has reviewed some of Sparks’ earlier books for us, is happy to have rediscovered him, as is evident in her review: "SEE ME brings numerous complications to a growing friendship and reminds us that one’s destiny can rest in one’s own hand. At nearly 500 pages, the book is powerful proof that Nicholas Sparks is a masterful storyteller who remains at the top of his game."

CITY ON FIRE and SEE ME, along with LAFAYETTE IN THE SOMEWHAT UNITED STATES by Sarah Vowell, are our current Word of Mouth prize books. Let us know by Friday, October 23rd at noon ET the books that you’ve finished reading, and you’ll have a chance to win all three titles. I have heard great things about the audiobook of LAFAYETTE IN THE SOMEWHAT UNITED STATES, which has a multi-cast recording featuring Sarah, so I took a break from listening to ONCE IN A GREAT CITY by David Maraniss about the history of Detroit to give it a listen. I love her voice, which has the right pacing to it. As we were listening, Greg reminded me of our family’s very special connection to Sarah. When Greg was about 15, he was reading Sarah’s book, ASSASINATION VACATION, and it inspired him to make beaten biscuits. I came into the kitchen to find him beating the dough with a meat cleaver on our butcher block prep table. It’s permanently scarred, as you can see in the photo above. Thank you, Sarah!

Sloane Crosley tells the story of friends struggling with adulthood and life’s surprises in THE CLASP. In their late 20s, friends Kezia, Nathaniel and Victor have been reunited for the wedding of a college friend. The three have lost touch over the years, with Kezia managing a jewelry designer in Manhattan, literary Nathaniel selling his wares in Hollywood, and gloomy Victor newly fired. Together again, the group soon slips into their own love triangle, with Victor chasing Kezia, Kezia chasing Nathaniel, and Nathaniel self-absorbed in himself. In the midst of the wedding, Victor meets the mother of the groom and learns of a valuable necklace that disappeared during the Nazi occupation of France. The tale begins a whirlwind of a chase, taking the three friends across the world for the adventure of a lifetime.

Norah Piehl has our review and says, "Like Guy de Maupassant’s original short story, there are a couple of neat little narrative tricks and coincidences as well, making THE CLASP an effective homage not only in subject but also in style."

Anthony Marra follows up his award-winning debut novel, A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA, with THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO, a collection of stories about family, sacrifice and the power of art. Here, he introduces a cast of seemingly unrelated characters whose lives come to intersect in powerful ways. A 1930s Soviet censor tasked with correcting offending photographs becomes obsessed with the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. In another tale, a group of women relay stories about themselves and their grandmothers, former prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. As great sacrifices are made in the name of peace, Marra’s character portraits offer a stunning sense of history and the present.

Reviewer Harvey Freedenberg calls THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO “a tour de force that only confirms the sound judgment of the National Book Critics Circle in awarding [A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA] its inaugural John Leonard Prize for the best first work of the year…. Like a contemporary Chekhov, one would be content if Marra continued to mine the subject matter that has engaged him so strikingly in these unforgettable tales. Whether he does, or moves on to other material, he'll assuredly remain one of our most distinctive and talented young writers.”

This month marks the 10th anniversary of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily mysteries, which began with AND ONLY TO DECEIVE in 2005. To celebrate the release of THE ADVENTURESS, the 10th and latest installment in the series, we have a Q&A with Anne Hawkins, Tasha’s literary agent, about her client’s impressive milestone, how she began working with Tasha, and what gives Lady Emily such lasting power.

From Shane White comes PRINCE OF DARKNESS, the groundbreaking account of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s first African American millionaire. Despite his meager upbringing and possible slave history, Hamilton deftly fought his way to the top, confounding and beating his rivals at nearly every level. Although he was a brilliant man who was respected on Wall Street, his daily life was restricted by his race, posing a stark, painful contrast. To coincide with this week’s release of PRINCE OF DARKNESS, White has written a piece for us about how he found Hamilton hidden in the depths of history and what compelled him to write about this fascinating figure.

In this week’s Fall Preview contests, we gave away PLAYING WITH FIRE by Tess Gerritsen, TWAIN'S END by Lynn Cullen (which we review this week), and VANESSA AND HER SISTER by Priya Parmar (a Bets On pick when it released in hardcover; it’s now available in paperback). Next week, this year’s Fall Preview feature wraps up with our final four prize books: ALONG THE INFINITE SEA by Beatriz Williams (loved this book); DEPRAVED HEART: A Scarpetta Novel, by Patricia Cornwell (she’s celebrating her 30th year of being published); LOST OCEAN: An Inky Adventure & Coloring Book, by Johanna Basford (yes, a coloring book for the 88% of you who said you color or would like to color); and YOU'RE THE BEST: A Celebration of Friendship, by The Satellite Sisters.

Please don’t forget to vote in our latest poll. In the past month, have you been reading hardcovers, paperbacks, eBooks or audiobooks --- or a combination? Click here to let us know!

Have you listened to any audiobooks lately? If so, and you would like to win two fabulous audiobooks, visit our Sounding Off on Audio feature. Submit your comments about the book’s content/storyline and the narrator’s performance, and you’ll be in the running to win the audio versions of both Robert Galbraith’s CAREER OF EVIL: A Cormoran Strike Novel, read by Robert Glenister, and FIND A WAY, written and read by Diana Nyad.

Awards are in the News: Kirkus Reviews announced the winners of the 2015 Kirkus Prize, which were A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates and ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Each received $50,000! The National Book Award shortlists have been announced; see them here. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction was awarded to A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS by Marlon James. And from Bouchercon, we have the results of the Anthony, Macavity, Shamus and Barry awards.

News and Pop Culture:

Reader Mail: Beth wrote with this comment: “Although I regularly answer your reader polls, I almost always feel that my response is incomplete. For example, last month you asked how long it takes me to read a book. For me, that depends less on the length of the book and more on how much I like (or dislike) it. And this month, my answer about book format does not tell you my preference. My answer was, in part, eBook when, in fact, I dislike eBooks. Last month I read FRANKENSTEIN partly on my iPhone only because I spent so much time sitting with my sleeping father at the hospital. It was unplanned, and my iPhone was handy. Plus, FRANKENSTEIN is all over the internet and free. So I have a suggestion: Include on the polls an area to make a short comment.” We really appreciate the feedback. Right now the technology on the poll function of the site does not allow for commenting, but it is a really good idea. Trust that we sit in the office and try to think of EVERY possible option. Our favorite poll response is “I am not sure how I feel.” BTW, if anyone ever has a poll question to suggest, we are all ears!

Bookaccino Memory: A group of folks who were chat hosts when we were on AOL got together earlier this month in Chicago. One of them had posted this memory from those early days about Nora Roberts: "Wasn't she a great chatter? Anyone remember the night that Ann Rule had an interview and chat --- immediately right before the Nora chat? We were in the chat room that held 100 people. It was FULL. One night Nora chatted with us from her hotel room. She was eating cheese pizza. Nora and other authors were part of the wonder that was Bookaccino.”

The Skimm: I have been reading this for months now as an early morning look at the news. Why do I like it? It is très clever and wickedly smart, both in headlines and copy. Published five days a week, I have found it to be a nice way to get a cleverly written snapshot of the news each weekday morning. Check it out here.

"The Affair": Season 2, episode 3 airs Sunday night. This time, the story is told via Noah and Allison. There are moments when watching this show that you have to suspend all touchstones with reality. There is no way people can see the world that differently...or is this possible?

Danny Meyer: He’s the restaurateur and author of a business/memoir/nonfiction book on his restaurant empire, called SETTING THE TABLE: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, which came out in 2006. It’s a bible about the power of customer service. I had our entire staff read it at one point. He announced this week that he will be eliminating tipping at his restaurants, most likely upping the menu prices to cover compensation to the staff. Going to be very interesting to watch this!

Stephen King: Read this week that END OF WATCH, the final volume in King’s Bill Hodges trilogy, is coming June 7, 2016. The story follows MR. MERCEDES (2014) and FINDERS KEEPERS (2015). David E. Kelley is developing a limited TV series for Sonar Entertainment based on MR. MERCEDES.

"Bosch" Season Two Shoot: Had fun on Facebook this week following the travels of Ali Karim, not just at the aforementioned Bouchercon, where he was one of the masterminds behind the programming for that conference, but also on a special trip to LA where he was the guest of Michael Connelly on the set of "Bosch." I think Ali floated back to the UK! Really, really terrific of Michael to entertain one of his big fans like that!

David Lagercrantz (the author who picked up where Stieg Larsson left off): He will write two sequels to THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB, which, according to the publisher’s spokesperson, had sold more than 500,000 copies since it released on September 1st.

The Chicago Cubs and Back to the Future II: The 1989 movie Back to the Future II has Marty McFly traveling forward in time to October 21, 2015, which is next Wednesday. In the film, it was predicted that the Cubs would be the 2015 World Series champions. The 2015 World Series is still to be decided, but the Cubs are on their way to the National League Championship Series, starting Saturday. But they have to get by the New York Mets. Quandary here on who to cheer for --- the hometown team or the perennial underdogs.

I have been hearing from friends that THE RABBIT WHO WANTS TO FALL ASLEEP by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin, a Swedish writer, has been working miracles with their kids who have trouble falling asleep. Tom and I could have used this when Greg was little, as we clocked many a mile on “snooze cruises” with a wide-eyed child in the back seat. Above he is pictured post-reading. (Okay, he posed, but he clearly sees this could be hypnotic and sleep-inducing.) If you have children or grandchildren who fight sleep, you have to try this book. What makes it work? The hypnotic effect of the prose. Directions are given at the beginning about words to emphasize and how to engage your child.

Ehrlin is a behavioral scientist with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a teacher of communications at a Swedish university, a life coach and leadership trainer. He combined these skills to develop this book. I was very awake myself as I was reading aloud to be sure I was putting the right emphasis on what I was reading.

I had a lovely lunch on Wednesday with Ann Bruns, who was one of our remote staffers years ago. We had a fabulous catch-up talking about favorite authors --- hers include Greg Iles, Robert B. Parker (she likes what Ace Atkins is doing with the books) and Jeffery Deaver. She still buys hardcovers, searching for new books from her fave authors all the time. Loved this visit!

I read a brilliant YA novel last week, GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT by Monica Hesse, which is being published in April of next year. I was at a publisher preview, and from the moment I heard about it, I wanted to read it. It’s set in Amsterdam during 1943. War is raging in Europe, and Hanneke is a teen working as a black marketer moving around “illicit goods like coffee, cigarettes and chocolate to wealthy customers in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.” One day, one of those customers makes a very different request. She wants Hanneke to find a Jewish teen who has gone missing from her hiding space in the woman’s home. Tension ramps up, and the story is very, very powerful ---- and superbly paced. I have my eye on this one.

Tomorrow morning, I am headed to the Hachette Book Group Brunch. I am being joined by Cathy, who works at the library in my town, and a friend of hers --- and we will be meeting up with Melanie, who edits Word of Mouth and Sounding Off on Audio, as well as Rebecca, Vivian and Matt, who are all “extended family.” Looking forward to a few hours of bookish conversation!

The pool is closed, and the herbs and the geraniums have been brought inside, along with the gardenia tree (for the latter, I know I am an optimist). I saw a forecast that was calling for temps in the 30s this weekend, and that hastened my plant-moving efforts! There still is tons of yard/flower cleanup to be done, but not at warp speed.

Read on, and have a great week.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

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!

Now in Stores: CITY ON FIRE by Garth Risk Hallberg
CITY ON FIRE by Garth Risk Hallberg (Historical Fiction)
New York City, 1976. Meet Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s great fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtown’s punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbor --- and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve. When the blackout of July 13, 1977, plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever.

-Click here to look inside the book.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to watch the book trailer.
-Click here to see Garth Risk Hallberg talk about the book.

Click here to read more about the book.
Now in Stores: SEE ME by Nicholas Sparks
SEE ME by Nicholas Sparks (Romance)
With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him, and the threat of prison dogging his every step, Colin Hancock is determined to walk a straight line. Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success. Yet she has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her hometown and left her questioning so much of what she once believed. A chance encounter on a rain-swept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria's lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and, ultimately, themselves. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
New Sneak Peek Contest: Win an Advance Copy of THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian and Share Your Comments on It
Our latest Sneak Peek Feature spotlights THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian, the spellbinding tale of a party gone horribly wrong: two men lie dead in a suburban living room, two women are on the run from police, and a marriage is ripping apart at the seams. The book doesn’t release until January 5th, but we have 35 advance copies to give away to readers who can commit to previewing it and sharing their comments on it by Friday, December 11th. To enter, please fill out this form by Friday, October 30th at noon ET.

For our Sneak Peek program, your commitment to participate is critical, so please only enter this contest if you truly will have time to read THE GUEST ROOM and give us your feedback by the Friday, December 11th deadline. We take these project deadlines seriously. If you cannot commit, don’t worry…we will have more opportunities like this in the future.

THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian (Fiction)
When Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother’s bachelor party, she expects a certain amount of debauchery. She brings their young daughter to Manhattan for the evening, leaving her Westchester home to the men and their hired entertainment. What she does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, her husband sharing a dangerously intimate moment in the guest room, and two women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night.

In the aftermath, Kristin and Richard’s life rapidly spirals into nightmare. The police throw them out of their home, now a crime scene, Richard’s investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave, and Kristin is unsure if she can forgive her husband for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read more about the book on the publisher's website.

-Click here to read Chris Bohjalian’s bio.
-Click here to visit Chris Bohjalian's official website.

-Connect with Chris Bohjalian on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Sneak Peek Feature and enter the contest.
Now in Stores: THE CLASP by Sloane Crosley
THE CLASP by Sloane Crosley (Fiction/Humor)
Kezia, Nathaniel and Victor are reunited for the extravagant wedding of a college friend. Now at the tail end of their 20s, they arrive completely absorbed in their own lives but soon slip back into old roles. In the midst of all this semi-merriment, Victor passes out in the mother of the groom's bedroom. He wakes to her jovially slapping him across the face. Instead of a scolding, she offers Victor a story she's never even told her son --- about a valuable necklace that disappeared during the Nazi occupation of France. And so a madcap adventure is set into motion. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING by Colum McCann
THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING: Fiction by Colum McCann (Fiction/Short Stories)
Colum McCann’s latest consists of a novella and three short stories. In the title piece, mystery surrounds the death of a retired 82-year-old New York Supreme Court justice. The other stories involve a writer struggling to compose a story for a New Year’s edition of a magazine, a mother in Galway whose 13-year-old adopted son has disappeared, and an elderly nun who discovers that the man who kidnapped her 37 years earlier is now a diplomat. Reviewed by Michael Magras.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO by Anthony Marra
THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO: Stories by Anthony Marra (Fiction/Short Stories)
Anthony Marra’s collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape that is unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: A HOUSE OF MY OWN by Sandra Cisneros
A HOUSE OF MY OWN: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros (Memoir/Essays)
From the Chicago neighborhoods where she grew up and set her groundbreaking THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET to her abode in Mexico in a region where “my ancestors lived for centuries,” the places Sandra Cisneros has lived have provided inspiration for her now-classic works of fiction and poetry. But a house of her own, where she could truly take root, has eluded her. With this collection --- spanning three decades and including never-before-published work --- Cisneros has come home at last. Reviewed by Maya Gittelman.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Lady Emily Celebrates 10 Years: An Interview with Anne Hawkins, Literary Agent for Tasha Alexander, Author of THE ADVENTURESS
With the recent release of THE ADVENTURESS, Anne Hawkins of John Hawkins & Associates talks about her client, bestselling author Tasha Alexander, and her 10-book Lady Emily mystery series. The first installment --- AND ONLY TO DECEIVE --- was released 10 years ago, and in honor of its anniversary, Anne reveals what she found so special about that first manuscript and why she believes Lady Emily’s popularity has only grown since then.

THE ADVENTURESS: A Lady Emily Mystery by Tasha Alexander (Historical Mystery)
Emily and husband Colin have come to the French Riviera for what should be a joyous occasion --- the engagement party of her lifelong friend Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, and Amity Wells, an American heiress. But the merrymaking is cut short with the shocking death of one of the party in an apparent suicide. Not convinced by the coroner's verdict, Emily must employ all of her investigative skills to discover the truth and avert another tragedy. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
Click here to read the interview.
Shane White on the Extraordinary Life of Pioneering Businessman Jeremiah G. Hamilton
Shane White is the Challis Professor of History and an Australian Professorial Fellow in the History Department at the University of Sydney specializing in African American history. He has authored or co-authored five books and collaborated in the construction of the website Digital Harlem. In his latest book, PRINCE OF DARKNESS: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street's First Black Millionaire, the eminent historian reveals the larger-than-life story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, an African American man who wheeled and dealed in the lily white business world and defied every convention of his time. Here, White talks about the shocking headline that initially drew him to Hamilton’s story, and how Hamilton defied the odds to become one of the most successful African American men of his time.

PRINCE OF DARKNESS: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street's First Black Millionaire by Shane White (History)
Eminent historian Shane White reveals the larger-than-life story of a man who defied every convention of his time. He wheeled and dealed in the lily white business world, married a white woman, bought a mansion in rural New Jersey, owned railroad stock on trains he was not legally allowed to ride, and generally set his white contemporaries’ teeth on edge when he wasn't just plain outsmarting them. An important contribution to American history, Jeremiah G. Hamilton's life offers a way into considering subjects that are usually seen as being quintessentially white.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read Shane White's piece on Jeremiah G. Hamilton.'s Fall Preview Contests and Feature
Fall is known as the biggest season of the year for books. The titles that release during this latter part of the year often become holiday gifts, and many are blockbusters. To celebrate the arrival of fall, we are spotlighting a number of outstanding books that we know people will be talking about in the days and months to come.

We are hosting a series of 24-hour contests for these titles on select days in September and October, so you have to check the site each day to see the featured prize book and enter to win. We also are sending a special newsletter to announce the day's title, which you can sign up for here.

Our next prize book will be announced on Monday, October 19th at noon ET.

This year's featured titles include:

Click here to read all the contest details and see our featured titles.
More Reviews This Week
THE OUTSIDER: My Life in Intrigue by Frederick Forsyth (Memoir)
For more than 40 years, Frederick Forsyth has been writing extraordinary real-world novels of intrigue --- from the groundbreaking THE DAY OF THE JACKAL to the prescient THE KILL LIST. Whether writing about the murky world of arms dealers, the shadowy Nazi underground movement, or the intricacies of worldwide drug cartels, every plot has been chillingly plausible because every detail has been minutely researched. But what most people don’t know is that some of his greatest stories of intrigue have been in his own life. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

CARRYING ALBERT HOME: The Somewhat True Story of A Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator by Homer Hickam (Historical Fiction)
When Homer Hickam (the father of the author) asked for Elsie Lavender’s hand, Elsie instead chose a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen. But ultimately her dreams of a life with him were crushed, and she married Homer. She was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in the bathroom. When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: “Me or that alligator!” After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do: Carry Albert home. Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds.

TWAIN'S END by Lynn Cullen (Historical Fiction)
In TWAIN'S END, Lynn Cullen reimagines the tangled relationships between Mark Twain, his private secretary Isabel V. Lyon, and his business manager Ralph Ashcroft, as well as the little-known love triangle between Helen Keller, her teacher Anne Sullivan Macy, and Anne’s husband John Macy, which comes to light during their visit to Twain’s Connecticut home in 1909. Add to the party a furious Clara Clemens, smarting from her own failed love affair, and carefully kept veneers shatter. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

STRONG LIGHT OF DAY: A Caitlin Strong Novel by Jon Land (Thriller)
Over the years, Caitlin Strong has taken on all manner of criminals and miscreants, thwarting the plans of villains to do vast damage to the country and state she loves. But none of that has prepared Caitlin for an investigation that pits her against ruthless billionaire oilman Calum Dane, whose genetically engineered pesticide may have poisoned a large swath of the state. How that poisoning is connected to the disappearance of 30 high school students presents Caitlin with the greatest and most desperate challenge of her career. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

PITCH BY PITCH: My View of One Unforgettable Game by Bob Gibson and Lonnie Wheeler (Sports/Memoir)
PITCH BY PITCH gets inside Bob Gibson's head on the evening of October 2, 1968, when he took the mound in game one of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers and struck out a record 17 batters. Gibson, known as one of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball history, relives each inning and every pitch. Facing down batter after batter, Gibson shares his insights into every player that stepped into the batter's box against him that day --- recounting the pitches he threw, his control over the ball, and moments of frustration and synchronicity with his teammates. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

THE CINDER SPIRES: THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS by Jim Butcher (Steampunk Fantasy/Adventure)
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion --- to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

WRATH OF THE FURIES: A Novel of the Ancient World by Steven Saylor (Historical Mystery)
In 88 B.C., it seems as if the entire ancient world is at war. The young Gordianus has been waiting out the chaos in Alexandria with Bethesda when he gets a cryptic message from his former tutor and friend, Antipater. Now in Ephesus, as part of Mithridates' entourage, Antipater seems to think that his life is in imminent danger. To rescue him, Gordianus concocts a daring, even foolhardy, scheme to go "behind enemy lines" and bring Antipater to safety. But there are powerful and deadly forces at work here that have their own plans for Gordianus. Reviewed by Carly Silver.

UNDERGROUND IN BERLIN: A Young Woman's Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany written by Marie Jalowicz Simon, translated by Anthea Bell (Memoir/History)
In 1941, Marie Jalowicz Simon, a 19-year-old Berliner, made an extraordinary decision. All around her, Jews were being rounded up for deportation, forced labor and extermination. Marie took off her yellow star, turned her back on the Jewish community and vanished into the city. In the years that followed, Marie lived under an assumed identity, forced to accept shelter wherever she found it. Always on the run, never certain whom she could trust, Marie moved between almost 20 different safe-houses, living with foreign workers, staunch communists and even committed Nazis. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE HOT COUNTRIES: A Poke Rafferty Thriller by Timothy Hallinan (Thriller)
Back when Poke Rafferty first arrived in Bangkok to write a travel guide, some of the old-timers in the Expat Bar on Patpong Road helped him make sense of the city. Now these men --- many of whom have been living in Southeast Asia since the Vietnam War --- have grown old and, in some cases, frail. When a talkative stranger named Arthur Varney turns up, they accept him without suspicion, failing to see that he’s actually using them to get to Poke. Varney wants two things: money Poke doesn’t have and a person Poke is unwilling to hand over. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

SAVAGE LANE by Jason Starr (Thriller)
Karen Daily, who is recently divorced and starting to date again, lives with her two kids in a suburb of New York City. Mark Berman, Karen’s friend and neighbor, wants out of his unhappy marriage, and so does his wife, Deb, but they have stayed together for the sake of their children. Unbeknownst to Karen, Mark’s obsession with her has grown. And as his rich fantasy life takes on a more sinister edge, rumors begin to spread about Karen and a bigger secret is uncovered. Karen soon finds that Mark is not the only one who has taken an undesired interest in her. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

CHARLOTTE'S STORY: A Bliss House Novel by Laura Benedict (Historical Mystery/Horror)
The fall of 1957 in southern Virginia was a seemingly idyllic, even prosperous time. A young housewife, Charlotte Bliss, lives with her husband, Hasbrouck Preston “Press” Bliss, and their two young children, Eva Grace and Michael, in the gorgeous Bliss family home. On the surface, theirs seems to be a calm, picturesque life, but soon tragedy befalls them: four tragic deaths, with apparently simple explanations. But nothing is simple if Bliss House is involved. How far will Charlotte go to discover the truth? And how far will she get without knowing who her real enemy is? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

FINAL GIFTS by Carol Mithers (Memoir)
Caring for aging parents may be today’s defining midlife experience --- and Carol Mithers went through it in multiples. Four aging relatives needed her at once, while she was working and raising her own family, sweeping her into a place she calls “Elderworld.” The experience changed her forever. This memoir --- funny, sad, brutally honest and ultimately life-affirming --- is a must for every member of the “sandwich generation.” Reviewed by Pauline Finch.
Our Latest Poll: Book Formats
In the past month, which of the following book formats have you read? Please check as many as apply.

  • Hardcover
  • Trade paperback
  • Mass market paperback
  • eBook
  • Audiobook (CD)
  • Audiobook (digital)
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Word of Mouth Contest: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can Win Three Books!

Tell us about the books you've finished reading with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars. During the contest period from October 9th to October 23rd at noon ET, five lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of CITY ON FIRE by Garth Risk Hallberg, LAFAYETTE IN THE SOMEWHAT UNITED STATES by Sarah Vowell, and SEE ME by Nicholas Sparks.

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 rules and guidelines, click here.

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

Click here to enter the contest.
Sounding Off on Audio Contest: Tell Us What You're Listening to --- and You Can Win Two Audiobooks!
Tell us about the audiobooks you’ve finished listening to with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars for both the performance and the content. During the contest period from October 1st to November 2nd at noon ET, three lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win the audio versions of both Robert Galbraith’s CAREER OF EVIL: A Cormoran Strike Novel, read by Robert Glenister, and FIND A WAY, written and read by Diana Nyad.

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

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

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