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September 16, 2004

September 6, 2004 - PB

August 26, 2004

July 25, 2004

July 11, 2004 - PB

July 5, 2004

June 3, 2004

May 16, 2004

May 1, 2004 - PB

April 25, 2004

April 4, 2004

March 23, 2004 - PB

March 18, 2004

February 26, 2004

February 03, 2004 -PB

January 27, 2004

January 15, 2004

December 28, 2003

December 6, 2003

November 14, 2003

October 22, 2003

October 6, 2003

September 26, 2003 Newsletter Update

Posted to subscriber list on 11-14-03.

Hello readers!

Not only is it November, but it is mid-November. Is it just me? Or does everyone feel that the months are just zooming by faster and faster? I'm late picking October winners, I'm late posting new reviews and I'm late sending a letter to tell you about the November raffles. This week I found that I was scribbling 8/10/03, as if it were still August. Oh, so I wish.

Win a Stocking worth of books!November raffles are up and have been since the beginning of the month. It seems that many of you have already found them, which I am thrilled to see.

If you haven't visited the raffles yet, when you do, you'll find that I've preempted the holiday season. Actually, I decided that it didn't make sense to do a Holiday raffle in December if winners are picked in January. This month's raffles feature (mostly) recently released paperback novels that will fit nicely in a holiday stocking. If you win one of our (virtual) stockings, you may choose to keep the books or give them away as stocking stuffers. Obviously holding this raffle in November gives you plenty of time to win and decide who deserves a present more -- a friend, a family member or yourself!

Fourteen reviews were posted to this week.

Reviewed by Mary Whipple

This novel, based on a true story, is a portrait of a man wrestling with guilt and secret passions. It follows Kristjan Benediktsson as he flees his home in Iceland and ultimately ends up as William Randolph Hearst's butler in San Simeon, California in the early part of the 20th century.

QUICKSILVER by Neal Stephenson
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

Neal Stephenson, at least when I first discovered him, was a Science Fiction writer -- a Hugo Award winning one at that. But he's slowly slipping into the past. With his last novel, Cryptomonicom, he engaged us in a cyber thriller by reaching into history. With Quicksilver, the first in a new trilogy, he's solidly in the historic fiction arena -- no cyber about it. The novel opens in 1713 and provides us with an impressive world view of natural philosophers and scientists of the times.

Reviewed by Hagen Baye

In 2000, McManus was sent to Las Vegas to cover the World Series of Poker held annually at Binion's Horseshoe. Whereas he was supposed to cover the game and a related murder trial, instead he took his gambled his advance, won a spot in the competition and came fairly close to winning the whole thing. Here's a great gift for the poker player on your holiday list!

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Set in 1870s London, is a powerful portrayal of a young prostitute named Sugar, a nineteen-year-old prostitute who yearns for escape to a better life. Faber's mastery of character, evocative descriptions of Victorian England, and rich dialog, together with his weaving of enduring themes throughout a complex plot, creates a remarkable novel.

SAUL AND PATSY by Charles Baxter
Reviewed by Thom Didato

Saul and Patsy, both from the East Coast, meet in college, fall in love, and settle down to married life in the Midwest. There the lives of children - their own and others' - begin to invade their lives. One of Saul's students, a deeply troubled sixteen-year-old boy, has become obsessed with Saul's life. And although Saul can't see it coming, the outcome of the boy's obsession will lead Saul to question everything he has always assumed about himself, his community, and his marriage.

THE YEAR OF ICE by Brian Malloy
Reviewed by Kam Aures

This is a coming-of-age story about a boy who has a secret -- he's in love with a boy -- and who discovers that his own father had a secret -- he was planning on leaving the family before his mother died. Kevin is forced to reevaluate his notions of family and love as painful truths emerge about both. A well written and humorous debut novel.

Reviewed by Jenny Dressel

A lonely schoolteacher reveals more than she intends when she records the story of her best friend's affair with a pupil in this sly, insightful novel. This book was on the shortlist for the 2003 Man Booker Award. Jenny says it is a must read for book clubs.

LIE STILL by David Farris
Reviewed by Chuck Barksdale

An exciting medical thriller written by a physician. In a sleepy, small-town Arizona hospital, a thirteen-year-old boy lies in a coma after inexplicably suffering a cardiac arrest. His doctors are perplexed.

Reviewed by Sudheer Apte

Vladic Petric, a homicide detective in Sarajevo, made his debut in Lie in the Dark, Fesperman's debut novel. Now, five years later, Petric has joined his wife and daughter in Berlin and is scratching out a meager but stable existence at a construction site. So when he's recruited by an American investigator for the war crimes tribunal at The Hague-to join a search mission back in the ruins of his homeland, he finds it hard to resist. A gripping novel about legends and lies, about great deceptions and personal truths.

Reviewed by Judi Clark

A funny and moving novel about a high-spirited, unconventional woman whose life is a celebration of passion's triumph over prudence. Poppy Minkel tells the story of her life beginning when she is fifteen and loses her father to the sinking of the Titanic and keeps us entertained through all of the 20th century. But Poppy's viewpoint is not exactly a common one, she is a "mustard heiress" born and raised in New York City.

THE GREAT FIRE by Shirley Hazzard
Reviewed by Poornima Apte

Coming more than twenty years after her critically acclaimed Transit of Venus, Shirley Hazzard's latest novel is in the most basic essence, a classic old-fashioned romance. The novel traces the path of the protagonist, Maj. Aldred Leith and his love, seventeen year-old Helen, as they try to live out lives anew in the aftermath of the Second World War. This novel is a 2003 National Book Finalist.

Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

This latest discworld novel is about a girl, Polly Perkins, who dresses as a young man to join an army to go look for her brother. "Oliver," as she calls herself, soon discovers that her recruiting officer let more than just a girl slip into his ranks -- there's also a vampire, a troll, a zombie and a fanatic.

THE SCARLET LETTERS by Louis Auchincloss
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Louis Auchincloss has long established himself as one of our "most useful and intelligent writers" (New York Observer). Now, in his fifty-ninth work, he offers us his cleverest novel yet: a suspenseful, mischievous twist on a legendary tale.

Reviewed by Wenkai Tay

If you follow the book news at all, you have heard by now that the prestigious 2003 Man Booker Award was presented to a man that is an ex-con artist, ex-druggie and considers himself more Mexican than Australian. And that the book's plot is inspired by the Columbine murders, but set in Texas. All in all, makes one curious doesn't it?


Normally I post the reviews in the newsletter in the same order as they are placed on the home page. Every update I anguish over the order to place the books -- between drawing attention to recently published book, giving equal and fair time to all reviewers and to making sure that I haven't slighted any publishers. There's no fair way to do this. After all this juggling, I still worry that a reader will miss a book he or she may have loved because I put it in the wrong place. Just to cover all bases, I'm choosing to tell you about the books in reverse order from how they appear on the home page.

These are all great books and I'm convinced that presenting this list in any order that it still comes out to be a great collection of reads. Surely, you can find your next great book here?

I promise -- choosing and notifying October raffles winners is next on my list and will done before the end of day Saturday August November 15th.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday as I suspect I won't manage to write to you again before then.

Judi Clark

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