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Here's the latest issue of our twice-monthly newsletter to keep you up to date with some of the new books and authors featured at BookBrowse...    


Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen 

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In This Issue

The Daughter of Siena

The Sweetness of Tears

Dreams of Joy

The Upright Piano Player

The Astral

Jamrach's Menagerie


Long Gone

Claire DeWitt & The City...

The Body in the Gazebo

First Impressions  

BookBrowse members have the opportunity to receive free review copies of books
through our "First Impressions" program. Here are some of their thoughts on three books they've been reading recently ....  

"I love historical fiction and this book has it all"


Book JacketThe Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: 05/10/2011
Historical Fiction, 400 pages
Published simultaneously in hardcover and paperback

Number of reader reviews: 35
Readers' consensus:

From the book jacket
Marina Fiorato, international bestselling author of The Glassblower of Murano and The Botticelli Secret, is back with her latest novel that once again will keep readers on the edge of their seats!

It's 1729, and the Palio, a white-knuckle horse race, is soon to be held in the heart of the peerless Tuscan city of Siena. But the beauty and pageantry masks the deadly rivalry that exists among the city's districts. Each ward, represented by an animal symbol, puts forth a rider to claim the winner's banner, but the contest turns citizens into tribes and men into beasts - and beautiful, headstrong, young Pia Tolomei is in love with a rider of an opposing ward, an outsider who threatens the shaky balance of intrigue and influence that rules the land.

BookBrowse Members Say
"I really enjoyed this book and thought that the author's descriptions of Siena, the Palio, and especially the rivalries among the various contrada to be accurate and compelling. I have been to Siena and visited several of the contrada churches and learned the history of the Palio and how it is conducted. I loved the story and thought the author did a wonderful job of weaving the descriptions of Siena, the art, the horses, the race, the rivalries and throwing in the Medici curse, it made for a very enjoyable read!" - Joanne V. (Towanda, PA).

"This book will stand among my favorites. All of the characters are so well depicted and gripping, even the minor ones. I was quickly drawn into the drama and intrigue of the Palio horse races and the power struggle of medieval Siena. This is a book that I could not put down and has made me eager to read Fiorato's other books." - Rita H. (Centennial, CO).

"I love historical fiction and this book has it all. There is romance, intrigue, historical accuracy ... I really love it when I learn something about an era or culture at the same time I'm enjoying a good story..In particular, this author does a great job setting the scene with each chapter intro. I look forward to introducing this in our book group." - Debra P. (Belmont, NC).

"The author skillfully takes you back to a time so romantic yet so brutal. I felt as though I were there, within the walls of this ancient city. Well written, worth reading." - Mary Lou C. (Shenandoah Junction, WV).

"Once I started reading I was unable to put it down and read it through the night! Definitely a fan!" - John W. (Clayton, Missouri).

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"It's been a long time since I've read a book this good"


Book JacketThe Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 05/17/2011
Novel, 320 pages
Paperback Original 

Number of reader reviews: 23
Readers' consensus:

From the book jacket
In her second novel, Nafisa Haji returns to the emotional terrain of her well-received debut The Writing on My Forehead to explore the collision of culture and religion, tradition and modernity played out through individual lives. A story of forbidden love and familial dysfunction that interweaves multiple generational and cultural viewpoints, The Sweetness of Tears is a tour de force of secrets, pain, identity, and hope in which a young woman's quest to find herself leads her to greater truths about the world and life itself.

When faith and facts collide, Jo March - a young woman born into an Evangelical Christian dynasty - wrestles with doubts and questions about who she is and how she fits into the legacy of her faithful family. Chasing loose threads that she hopes will lead to the truth takes Jo on an unlikely quest across boundaries of language an faith, through chasms of sectarian divides in the Muslim world, against the backdrop of the War on Terror, from California to Chicago, Pakistan to Iraq. As she delves deep into the past, she meets a host of relatives from diverse backgrounds - many of whom she never knew existed - whose experiences are indelibly intertwined with her own. By the end of the journey, she learns that nothing is ever as it seems, and that the most spiritually devoted are often those who once questioned their beliefs the most.

BookBrowse Members Say
"It's been a long time since I've read a book this good." - Nancy L. (Denver, NC).

"I had several reservations or hastily made judgements as I dipped into the first section of the book, but I am so happy to say the fears were not realized. I was on guard fearing that this might be a 'preachy, Christian' novel, but I couldn't have been farther from the truth! I love books that really give me insight into a culture or religion, and does this one deliver!" - Lola T. (Broken Arrow, OK).

"I laughed and cried my way through The Sweetness of Tears. Jo and all the characters are clearly defined and true to themselves. Some of the passages are achingly beautifully written - almost poetic as love, despair, tragedy and redemption are presented...Book groups will find a multitude of topics for discussion." - Becky H. (Chicago, IL).

"A wonderful book! A blending of two different worlds - Christian and Muslim. It is just a lovely story. I will recommend it to my book club." - Adelia S. (Livingston, MT).

"I found The Sweetness of Tears to be a thoroughly engrossing book...While the author tackles a number of different topics: politics, war, family, religion and friendship, by the end she succeeds in tying everything together in both a thought provoking and thoroughly satisfying way." - Julie G. (West Hartford, CT).

"Nafisa Haji engaged me and kept me involved from the first word to the last. For the first time in many books I was sorry to have the book conclude. This book is, in my opinion, a winner! ...This is a book that I have already recommended to three book clubs and many friends." - Carole A. (Denver, CO).

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Each month, in addition to writing our own reviews and back-stories of particularly recommended books, BookBrowse previews 70+ notable books publishing the following month so our members know what's worth looking out for ahead of the crowd.  Here are a handful of the books from our June preview issue...


Just Published: Lisa See's sequel to Shanghai Girls


 Book Jacket

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See



May 31. 368 pages
Publisher: Random House

ISBN-13: 9781400067121 

Critics' consensus:  

Book Description: Lisa See continues the story of sisters Pearl and May from Shanghai Girls, and Pearl's strong-willed nineteen-year-old daughter, Joy. 

Reeling from newly uncovered family secrets, and anger at her mother and aunt for keeping them from her, Joy runs away to Shanghai in early 1957 to find her birth father - the artist Z.G. Li, with whom both May and Pearl were once in love. Dazzled by him, and blinded by idealism and defiance, Joy throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the communist regime...

Prepublication Reviews:
"Starred Review. Readers of historical fiction will appreciate the authentic details that See weaves into her novel. You don't have to read Shanghai Girls to love this book, but if you have, this sequel will make you want to reread its predecessor." - Library Journal

"With each new novel, Lisa See gets better and better. Each work is more tightly woven, richer with information, its characters more memorable than the last.... And so it is with Dreams of Joy." - Los Angeles Times

More about this book and author


Preview: "A beautifully constructed debut"


Book JacketThe Upright Piano Player by David Abbott 

June 7. 272 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
ISBN-13: 9780385534420 

Critics' consensus:  

Book Description:
 An adroit first novel of exceptional grace and emotional power by a legendary British ad executive. 

Henry Cage seems to have it all: a successful career, money, a beautiful home, and a reputation for being a just and principled man. But public virtues can conceal private failings, and as Henry faces retirement, his well-ordered life begins to unravel. His ex-wife is ill, his relationship with his son is strained to the point of estrangement, and on the eve of the new millennium he is the victim of a random violent act which soon escalates into a prolonged harassment...

Prepublication Reviews:
"A beautifully constructed debut." - The Guardian (UK) 

"Elegant, rich and gratifying." - The Independent (UK) 

"The menace simmering beneath the surface of its prose is compelling." - Daily Mail (UK) 

More about this book and author

Preview: "A masterpiece of comedy and angst"


 Book JacketThe Astral by Kate Christensen


June 14. 320 pages
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN-13: 9780385530910 

Critics' consensus:  

Book Description: The Astral is a huge rose-colored old pile of an apart­ment building in the gentrifying neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. For decades it was the happy home (or so he thought) of the poet Harry Quirk and his wife, Luz, a nurse, and of their two children: Karina, now a fer­vent freegan, and Hector, now in the clutches of a cultish Christian community. But Luz has found (and destroyed) some poems of Harry's that ignite her long-simmering sus­picions of infidelity, and he's been summarily kicked out. He now has to reckon with the consequence of his literary, marital, financial, and parental failures (and perhaps oth­ers) and find his way forward - and back into Luz's good graces...

Prepublication Reviews:
"Starred Review. A masterpiece of comedy and angst. Think Gulley Jimson of Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth transported from 1930s London to present-day Brooklyn." - Kirkus Reviews

"With acute perception and witty humor, this bittersweet novel moves along at a tremendous pace, entertaining until its climactic final scene." - Bookpage

More about this book and author



Preview: "A captivating yarn of high seas & even higher drama"


Book Jacket

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch


June 14. 304 pages

Publisher: Doubleday

ISBN-13: 9780385534406 


Critics' consensus: 




Book Description:

A thrilling and powerful novel about a young boy lured to sea by the promise of adventure and reward, with echoes of Great ExpectationsMoby-Dick, and 

The Voyage of the Narwhal...


Prepublication Reviews:

"[R]endered with exceptional control, elucidating the see-sawing bond between Jaffy and Tim and the gradual disintegration of the sailors' bodies and minds... Birch has spun us a captivating yarn of high seas and even higher drama." - The Guardian (UK)


"An exuberant tale of sea-faring, exotic fauna and drunken shore leave... [Birch's] prose has an irresistible vigor... her words sing on the page..." - The Financial Times 


Reader Reviews:

This book got very positive reviews from the 21 BookBrowse Members who have posted reviews, who rated it an average 4 out of 5 stars. Read the reviews


More about this book and author

Preview: "An unusual and searing debut"

 Book Jacket

Sister by Rosamund Lupton 


June 7. 336 pages

Publisher: Crown

ISBN-13: 9780307716514 


Critics' consensus: 



Book Description:

Nothing can break the bond between sisters... When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister's disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister's life - and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face. The police, Beatrice's fiance and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.


Prepublication Reviews:

"Starred Review. Lupton's remarkable debut novel is a masterful, superlative-inspiring success that will hook readers (and keep them guessing) from page one... A chilling, gripping, tragic, heart-warming, life-affirming enigma of a story." - Booklist 


"Stunningly accomplished from first page to last, this is the most exciting debut thriller I've read all year. The suspense crackles, and the twists come thick and fast, but - more than that - it has a touching poignancy that brings tears to your eyes... Written with the power and panache of a young Daphne du Maurier, it's devastatingly good, and announces the arrival of a truly original talent." - Daily Mail (UK) 


More about this book and author




Just Published: "A moody, hip, and meticulous investigator"


 Book Jacket

Long Gone by Alafair Burke



June 21. 368 pages

Publisher: Harper

ISBN-13: 9780061999185 


Critics' consensus: 




Book Description:

After a layoff and months of struggling, Alice Humphrey finally lands her dream job managing a new art gallery in Manhattan's trendy Meatpacking District. According to Drew Campbell, the well-heeled corporate representative who hires her, the gallery is a passion project for its anonymous, wealthy, and eccentric owner. Her friends think it sounds too good to be true, but Alice sees an opportunity to make a name for herself beyond the shadow of her famous father, an award-winning and controversial filmmaker. 


Everything is perfect until the morning Alice arrives at work to find the gallery gone - the space stripped bare as if it had never been there - and Drew Campbell's dead body on the floor ... When police discover ties between the gallery and a missing girl, Alice knows she's been set up. Now she has to prove it - a dangerous search for answers that will entangle her in a dark, high-tech criminal conspiracy and force her to unearth long-hidden secrets involving her own family... secrets that could cost Alice her life.


Prepublication Reviews:

"Starred Review. Ripped-from-the-headlines hooks from the world of celebrity and culture are twisted into a knot of seemingly unconnected story lines dramatically resolved to a surprising, out-of-nowhere ending... Highly recommended" - Library Journal


"Alafair Burke's first standalone is an absolutely riveting must read - and the ending is a shocker you'll never see coming." - Lisa Scottoline, author of Save Me


More about this book and author



Just Published: "A moody, hip, and meticulous investigator"


Book Jacket

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran 

June 2. 288 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-13: 9780547428499 

Critics' consensus:  

Book Description: Claire DeWitt is not your average private investigator. She has brilliant deductive skills and is an ace at discovering evidence. But Claire also uses her dreams, omens, and mind-expanding herbs to help her solve mysteries, and relies on D�tection - the only book published by the late, great, and mysterious French detective Jacques Silette. 

The tattooed, pot-smoking Claire has just arrived in post-Katrina New Orleans, the city she's avoided since her mentor, Silette's student Constance Darling, was murdered there. Claire is investigating the disappearance of Vic Willing, a prosecutor known for winning convictions in a homicide- plagued city. Has an angry criminal enacted revenge on Vic? ...

Prepublication Reviews:
"Starred Review. Captivating... The haunting atmosphere of post-Katrina New Orleans lingers long after the revelation of Vic's fate." - Publishers Weekly 

"If there isn't yet a subgenre called funky noir, this wacky PI novel could be a fragrant first... lots of fun." - Booklist 

"Terrific. I love this book! Absolutely love it. This is the first fresh literary voice I've heard in years. Sara Gran recombines all the elements of good, solid story-telling and lifts something original from a well-loved form." - Sue Grafton

More about this book and author

Win the latest Faith Fairchild mystery


The Body in the Gazebo by Katherine Hall Page

Publication Date: Apr 2011


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From the Jacket

From award-winning author Katherine Hall Page comes the next book in the Faith Fairchild mystery series, where the caterer and amateur sleuth must solve a case more than eighty years in the making...


"I have to tell you something ... something that happened a long time ago."


When Ursula Lyman Rowe speaks these words to Faith Fairchild from her sickbed in Aleford, Massachusetts, Faith has no idea what lies in store for her.


It all starts when Ursula's daughter, Pix Miller, Faith's best friend and neighbor, reluctantly leaves town for her son's wedding preparations. Pix knows that Faith and her husband, the Reverend Thomas Fairchild, will keep an eye on the slowly recovering Ursula. What she and Faith don't know is that the tale Ursula spins over the course of several weeks will reveal an unsolved crime dating back to 1929 and the Great Depression.


Meanwhile, more current mysteries are brewing. The discretionary fund at the church has been pilfered and the Reverend Fairchild is the only person with access to it. As rumors spread through town, Faith must clear her husband's name before it's irreparably damaged. And when Pix meets her in-laws-to-be for the first time, she's in for the surprise of her life...


A moving, suspenseful tale,


The Body in the Gazebo


is an evocative journey into the past, where truth hangs suspended by the threads of one woman's memory - and the present-day consequences of that truth prove to be devastating. 




3 people will each win a paperback copy of The Body in the Gazebo.


This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only, unless you are a BookBrowse member, in which case you are eligible to win wherever you might live.


Enter the giveaway here




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