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The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care (Hardcover)

From Publishers Weekly
Washington Post correspondent Reid (The United States of Europe) explores health-care systems around the world in an effort to understand why the U.S. remains the only first world nation to refuse its citizens universal health care. Neither financial prudence nor concern for the commonweal explains the American position, according to Reid, whose findings divulge that the U.S. not only spends more money on health care than any other nation but also leaves 45 million residents uninsured, allowing about 22,000 to die from easily treatable diseases. Seeking treatment for the flareup of an old shoulder injury, he visits doctors in the U.S., France, Germany, Japan and England—with a stint in an Ayurvedic clinic in India—in a quest for treatment that dovetails with his search for a cure for America's health-care crisis, a narrative device that sometimes feels contrived, but allows him valuable firsthand experience. For all the scope of his research and his ability to mint neat rebuttals to the common American misconception that universal health care is socialized medicine, Reid neglects to address the elephant in the room: just how are we to sell these changes to the mighty providers and insurers? (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Description
Bestselling author T. R. Reid guides a whirlwind tour of successful health care systems worldwide, revealing possible paths toward U.S. reform.

In The Healing of America, New York Times bestselling author T. R. Reid shows how all the other industrialized democracies have achieved something the United States can't seem to do: provide health care for everybody at a reasonable cost.

In his global quest to find a possible prescription, Reid visits wealthy, free market, industrialized democracies like our own-including France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and Canada-where he finds inspiration in example. Reid shares evidence from doctors, government officials, health care experts, and patients the world over, finding that foreign health care systems give everybody quality care at an affordable cost. And that dreaded monster "socialized medicine" turns out to be a myth. Many developed countries provide universal coverage with private doctors, private hospitals, and private insurance.

In addition to long-established systems, Reid also studies countries that have carried out major health care reform. The first question facing these countries-and the United States, for that matter-is an ethical issue: Is health care a human right? Most countries have already answered with a resolute yes, leaving the United States in the murky moral backwater with nations we typically think of as far less just than our own.

The Healing of America lays bare the moral question at the heart of our troubled system, dissecting the misleading rhetoric surrounding the health care debate. Reid sees problems elsewhere, too: He finds poorly paid doctors in Japan, endless lines in Canada, mistreated patients in Britain, spartan facilities in France. Still, all the other rich countries operate at a lower cost, produce better health statistics, and cover everybody. In the end, The Healing of America is a good news book: It finds models around the world that Americans can borrow to guarantee health care for everybody who needs it.

This book should be required reading for every American, August 24, 2009
By Michelle Long (Boise, ID)

I am a nursing student. I returned to college after 20 years in hospitality and project management in order to realize my dream of a career focused not on money but on providing care to the most vulnerable. One disturbing pattern has cropped up in my education- the emphasis (when studying the importance of avoiding potentially life threatening errors) placed more on avoiding liability than on the well-being of the patient (or "client" as we are now taught, in this money-driven society). It also strikes me that I have never heard it suggested that a health care professional should be painstaking in her work in order to prevent avoidable errors that would bring dishonor to herself or her profession. The focus is on avoiding "costly" errors.

This is where Mr. Reid's book is a most welcome addition to the conversation on health care in America. He shows us that it is possible to have an excellent health care system that is focused on the well-being of the patient and not the all-mighty dollar. He also breaks down a complicated subject into an enjoyable reading experience, with prose that is clear and intelligent and often humorous.

I find it extremely disappointing that so many Americans blindly buy into the myths about the "poor" health care available in other rich, developed nations (every one of which, with the sole exception of the U.S., provide universal health care) while touting false grandiose statements about the superiority of American medicine.

Mr. Reid explains the reality of the better and cheaper health care systems of nations like Switzerland and Japan in terms (to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson) "so plain and firm as to command their assent." He also introduces us to health care professionals who are driven not by monetary motives but by a desire to heal and prevent illness.

If you believe that access to health care (note, I did not say free health care) is a basic human right, then buy this book. Actually, if you are simply interested in learning the honest facts on the ground- buy this book.

By Charles Parselle (United States)

I bought this book after reading Jacob Weisberg's review in Newsweek. It is the best thing on the subject for the following reasons: 1. It is well written even funny in places. 2. It is very informative. 3. It presents comparative data both as to health outcomes and also ways of paying for health care 4. It is non-partisan, even though by the end one wonders why we Americans are paying so much for health outcomes that are actually worse than any comparable country. 5. It is revealing as to the complexity of the US; for example, I didn't know that as many as 80 million Americans are already covered by systems nearly identical to the British or Canadian, i.e. medicaid, medicare, military, veterans and Department of Indian Affairs - who would have thought that? But 45 million others are not covered at all. Everyone else is covered, more or less, by insurance and so are the Germans, French and Japanese etc. But what a difference in the insurance systems! In the other countries you get insurance just like here EXCEPT THAT 1. you cannot be denied 2. you cannot be cancelled 3. everyone is covered and 4. your premiums are regulated by government which of course is what the entire debate is about. Because here the insurance industry is for profit and the premiums reflect that fact, the amazing fact that US health is the USA's largest industry by far, larger that the State of California, four times larger that the military, in fact US health would be the world's 8th largest country. No wonder the debate is so fierce. This excellent books set it all out readably and comprehensively.

The Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships (Paperback)

Product Description
Includes a BONUS CD on the Law of Attraction!

This Leading Edge work by Esther and Jerry Hicks, who present The Teachings of Abraham, will help you understand every relationship you are currently involved in as well as every relationship you have ever experienced.
This book uncovers a myriad of false premises that are at the heart of every uncomfortable relationship issue, and guides you to a clear understanding of the powerful creative Vortex that has already assembled the relationships that you have desired. Abraham will show you how to enter that Vortex, where you will rendezvous with everything and everyone you have been looking for.
Abraham says: “It is our desire to help you to solve the mystery of those seemingly impossible relationships; to sort out the details of joyously sharing your planet with billions of others; to rediscover the beauty of your differences; and, most of all, to reestablish the most important relationship of all: your relationship with the Eternal, Non-Physical Source that is really you.
“It is our desire that you experience an enhanced appreciation of your planet; your body; your family; your friends; your enemies; your government; your systems; your food; your finances; your animals; your work and your play; your purpose; your Source; your Soul; your past, your future, and your present. . . ."

About the Author
New York Times best-selling authors Esther and Jerry Hicks produce the Leading Edge Abraham-Hicks teachings on the Art of Allowing our natural Well-Being to come forth. Open workshops held in up to 60 cities per year inspire a regular flow of Abraham books, CDs, and DVDs.

Makes You Feel Like a Winner!, August 13, 2009
By Eco-Friendly Feng Shui Practitioner

I am a big fan of Esther and Jerry Hicks and have read and have enjoyed many of their books.

The Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships, is the third in a series of four. It follows the wonderful Money, and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Wealth, Health, and Happiness. (FYI...the fourth book is about Spirituality, and the Law of Attraction.)

The crux of Abraham's teaching: "The basis of life is freedom; the results of life is expansion--and the purpose of life is joy."

This book is about creating joyful relationships. The book is divided into 6 parts; all but the last address how to bring joy into relationships.

* Learning how to bring joy into the different types of relationships we have (coworkers, friends, government, etc.)
* Finding and attracting the perfect mate
* Sexuality
* Parenting--creating positive, joyful relations with children
* Self appreciation--discover your true self and learn awareness of your Vibrational Vortex of Creation.
* Transcript of Abraham

To understand your relationships, you go into the vortex. "The Vortex is the place in which you feel good about yourself. It is the place in which you are closest to 'Source. 'Source' energy is like a vortex of good feelings, of liquid love (as Abraham puts it) of peace and wellbeing, joy - everything that we naturally are."

To access the vortex, you do things that make you feel good. It is in the space of the vortex that the law of attraction takes hold--your good feelings will guide you to other people with good feelings and WHAM...stuff starts happening like you meet your soul mate! "You must make what you want a more dominant part of your Vibration than what you have; once you are consistently doing that, what you want and what you will have will intertwine, and you will be living your desire."

When we are in alignment--in the vortex--we draw all good things to us--people, situations, etc. It's a win-win.

Once we are in alignment with our Source, we connect with our higher selves; with the God within us. The key to getting inside the Vibrational Vortex of Creation is to be in the state of appreciation of self.

Ultimately, The Vortex guides us through the exercises that will make us feel good about ourselves and our relationships.

I am an interior designer specializing in Feng Shui, and I have practiced the law of attraction for years and have helped numerous clients of mine manifest their desires using the LOA. As I did in my review of MONEY, I highly recommend the award winning book, HARMONIOUS ENVIRONMENT: BEAUTIFY, DETOXIFY & ENERGIZE YOUR LIFE, YOUR HOME & YOUR PLANET along with THE VORTEX, for a few more secrets and unique ideas to finding and keeping love and relationships strong. Finally, the original THE LAW OF ATTRACTION is still a terrific primer.

Ester and Jerry Hicks have written a clear and easy to follow guide to help you live your higher purpose. Highly recommend!

A BOOK FOR EVERYONE!!!, August 22, 2009
By Apryl Reimers-Faw "Apryl" (SanFrancisco Bay Area, California)

Even though each person is different and has different views in life...EVERYONE should learn from this book to create perfection in their own personal lives for today and for tomorrow. If everyone knew the universal truths in this book (which we all DO know to be truth, but some have forgotten), the planet would then have true peace and utopia even within our diverse population and diverse (and beautiful) cultures. I personally LOVE the parenting chapter and family aspects. If Abraham-Hicks released a parenting book, it would make all other parenting/family books obsolete because Abraham-Hicks is based on facts, not opinions. Tried and true! This is information at the source! The world is changing, growing and becoming the beautiful creation that we are making it and will make it. Just don't watch the news and you'll see that to be more of the truth than the media lets everyone believe. Joy to everyone!

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) (Hardcover)

Product Description
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

About the Author
SUZANNE COLLINS's debut novel, Gregor the Overlander, the first book in the Underland Chronicles, received wide praise both in the United States and abroad. The series has been a New York Times bestseller and received numerous accolades. Also a writer for children's television, Suzanne lives with her family in Connecticut.

And you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted..., July 7, 2009
By S. Hughes

If you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted... you were wrong.

The highly-anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games is the kind of novel that has you pulling back to take a breath and go, "How did the author think of this?" (if you can stop turning the pages long enough to breathe)

Catching Fire picks up right where Hunger Games left off. Unrest in the Districts is growing at an alarming pace and Katniss unwittingly finds herself the figurehead for the movement against the Capitol. The characters you loved return for the sequel and the reader must endure each indignity the Capitol inflicts upon them. It is painful, tortuous, imaginative and motivating. It is everything The Hunger Games was and more. It both answers your lingering questions and creates so many new ones. It challenges you to think and creates such feelings of empathy for the characters that whenever I had to put the book down, I was genuinely worried for leaving the characters hanging and couldn't wait to pick it back up just so they could continue fighting for their lives and freedoms.

Everything I loved about The Hunger Games is present in Catching Fire: the unique and engrossing storyline; characters so thoroughly and beautifully described they start to feel like friends; a fantastical setting that is both real and sad; and language that is easy to read and yet conveys such a profound meaning. It has action, romance, horror, hope, despair and, most of all, humanity. It has sci-fi and politics yet, unlike a lot of books on the market, they are not "in your face" and are completely approachable.

Due to elements of violence and some light romantic scenes, I would recommend it for 13+. That being said, I would recommend it for ANYONE 13+ of any reading taste or background: as a bookseller and a recent library school graduate, these are the books I find easiest to recommend to anyone I meet.

I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the third and final book to come out. After reading Catching Fire, I know you will be too.

No sophomore slump here, August 1, 2009
By Jennifer (Bayville, NJ United States)

I got a galley at the BEA Conference this year. Before I started to read, I was terrified that Suzanne Collins couldn't possibly live up to my expectations after the extraordinary Hunger Games. I'm thrilled to say that she did not let me down. I don't want to give anything away as it would only ruin the rollercoaster ride of a read, so suffice it to say that all of our favorite characters are back to join Katniss as the spark of revolution catches fire. Collins is masterful. The story is at once personal to Katniss, Peeta & Gale, but it also makes social statements that can apply to society at large. Characters show the best and the worst of humanity. And at several points, I found myself finishing a chapter, stunned at the turn of events. Collins kept me on the edge of my seat. I hope she's writing quickly, because I can't wait for the concluding volume of this amazing trilogy.

That Old Cape Magic [DECKLE EDGE] (Hardcover)

A Q&A with Richard Russo

Question: Apparently there is a wedding phenomenon you have termed "Table 17." What exactly is that and how does it relate to this novel?

Richard Russo: A few years ago my wife and I were invited to a wedding and were seated at what was clearly a "leftover" table. It reminded me of the final teams who get into the NCAA tournament. You can tell by their seeding that they were the last ones in, that they almost didn't make the grade. Table 17 works thematically in the novel because being among strangers, not sure whether you belong, may be the main character's future if he can't find a way to slow his downward spiral.

Question: You have said that That Old Cape Magic began as a short story. What was the moment you knew it was calling out to be a novel?

Richard Russo: Griffin, my main character, begins the story on his way to a wedding with his father's urn in the trunk of his car. I planned for him to scatter the ashes (his past), put his future in danger at the wedding (his present) and then pull back from disaster at the last moment. But then he pulled over to the side of the road in his convertible to take a phone call from his mother, at the end of which a seagull sh**s on him. At that moment, in part because Griffin blames her, he and I both had a sinking feeling. You can resolve thematic issues of past, present and future in a twenty page story, but if you allow a sh**ting seagull into it, you’ve suddenly moved on to something much larger.

Question: Why did you choose the Cape?

Richard Russo: For some time I've been fascinated with the idea of "a finer place" (see Lucy Lynch and Bobby Marconi in Bridge of Sighs). I'm talking about both fiction and real life. Why do people believe that happiness is more likely to find you in one place than another? It has something with what you can and can't afford, what you think you'll one day be able to swing if things go well. Except that even when they go well, you discover it's still unaffordable, which gives the desired place a magical quality. The faster you run toward it, the faster it runs away from you. I chose the Cape because it's always been expensive and just keeps getting more so, but it could have been any number of similar places. For Griffin's parents, two academics, a house on the Cape would have always been just beyond their reach. One of their many dubious genetic gifts to Griffin is a sense that happiness is always on the horizon, never where you're standing. Very American, I think.

Question: That Old Cape Magic is book ended by two weddings and becomes the story of Griffin's own marriage as well as that of his parents and the impending one of his daughter. Is there some loaded charge to weddings that unleashes the past and threatens the future in a way unlike other events? Or, in other words, what were you up to in framing your story with two weddings?

Richard Russo: It probably won't surprise readers to discover that both my daughters were married during the time I was writing this book, which, if it does well, will pay for their weddings. One of our girls was married in London, which except for the expense made things easier on my wife and me. Living in the states, how much could we really be blamed for things that went wrong so far from home? Our other daughter was married in the coastal Maine town where we live, and her wedding was therefore larger. My wife and I feared that our families, who were largely unknown to each other and living on opposite sides of the country (not to mention the political spectrum), might be fissionable. Mostly we feared for the family of the groom, and maybe even the town, since we hoped to continue living there. In the second wedding of That Old Cape Magic I imagined an absolutely catastrophic wedding in hopes it might act as a talisman against real-life disaster, which it appears to have done.

Planning your children's weddings also gets you thinking back to your own and making the inevitable comparisons. My wife and I were grad-student poor when we got married in Tucson, and our parents were only marginally better off. Our honeymoon was four days in Mexico. We'd booked the sleeper car but managed to arrive late, actually jumping onto the moving train. They'd given our sleeper to someone else and we had to sit in the aisles on our luggage for several hours until seats became available. Neither of us got a wink of sleep and, naturally, when we arrived in Mazatlan early the next morning, our room wasn't ready. We changed into bathing suits, went to the beach and immediately fell asleep under the brutal tropical sun. By the time we woke up we were burned so badly we couldn't touch each other for the rest of the trip. But we were young and the tacos were good and so was the tequila and we'd brought plenty of books and we talked about our future and who we'd be in that future, and pretty damn quick it was thirty-five years later. That's just about how long the Griffins have been married when That Old Cape Magic opens.

Question: Griffin's parents, both academics trapped in what they call the "mid f***ing west," are such wonderful, sometimes maddening, often hilarious, always surprising characters. You've mined the satiric potential of academia before, most notably in Straight Man. Have you been longing to go back there?

Richard Russo: I thought I'd got all the academic satire out of my system with Straight Man, but apparently not. Actually, since writing that novel I've entered another world—movie making—that would be equally idiotic except that instead of academic scrip it involves real money. In this novel, because Griffin's a former screenwriter, I got to compare lunacies. It wasn't a fair fight, of course. Academics are really the only ones in their weight class (heavy).

Question: At the start of the novel Griffin is a man in his mid fifties who seemingly has everything going for him, a great marriage, a great daughter, the career he aspired to, basically everything he had on his wish list when first venturing out in adulthood. Then, within a year, he watches it all come unglued. It’s amazing how quickly that can happen, no?

Richard Russo: That's the other similarity between this book and Straight Man. In both novels we watch men who are tenured in life. Safe, in other words. But there's just this one little thread on the sweater. You know you should clip it, not pull it, but there are no scissors at hand and what's the worst that can happen? The answer to that question, in this instance, is That Old Cape Magic.

Question: Have you actually ever been to a wedding where a guest was trapped in a tree?

Richard Russo: I myself have never been to a wedding where a guest got stuck in a tree, but we're attending a wedding on the Cape this summer and I have high hopes.

One man struggles to cope, August 13, 2009
By D. Kuski

Richard Russo made his mark in the literary world with his books Empire Falls and Bridge of Sighs. His newest novel, That Old Cape Magic, is about a middle-aged man that is having a difficult time coping with reality. Yet, while Jack Griffin is having trouble letting go of the past, the present is filled with slapstick-type comedy that Mr. Russo delivers with impeccable timing. And this, gives the reader a future filled with searches into their own life, lighten with comedy. It really was an enjoyment to read.

Well, let's get a little more in depth, shall we? As I mentioned prior, Jack Griffin, is the focal point of the story. He is a well-respected professor going through a mid-life crisis. At 55, he just lost his dad and will soon lose his daughter (she is getting married) this forces Jack to rethink his life. Most of the book is flashbacks from Jack's life. Jack's childhood was filled with despair. His parents were highly trained and brilliant professors, but their attitudes forced them to work demeaning jobs, well below their status.

As such, they also had a difficult time coping with reality. Always believing "the grass was greener on the other side" This leads to the title of the book. During the family's summer vacations, they would sing Frank Sinatra's song, That Old Black Magic, but since they vacationed in Cape Cod, they changed it to, That Old Cape Magic. This is key. The story begins with Jack driving over the same bridge his family crossed during those trips, singing that old tune, preparing to scatter his father's ashes on his way to his daughter's best friends' wedding.

The book's timeline is just about a year, and that year is packed full of wonderfully described locals, off-beat humor, soul searching, two weddings, incredible dialog, well-developed characters, and a plotline that delves the reader into their own search for answers. The book is good. Real good. But I could only give it 4-stars because it just doesn't quite live up to some of Russo's earlier works. Much like Jack and Joy Griffin, you can look at it two ways. Jack would say, this book deserves to be judged on its own merit. Joy would say, the author has raised the bar with his previous works and while good, That Old Cape Magic, falls just under that bar.

Another book I'd highly reommend is Clarence Cage's novel Ashes Divide: Ashes Divide (Four Horsemen Series, Book 1) the other great book I read this week.

Hmm . . . another meaningful bridge, August 5, 2009
By Dogberry "dogberrysheir" (Heading back to the bookshelves)

Since reading Straight Man, I have eagerly anticipated the release of each new Richard Russo novel, and That Old Cape Magic was no exception. The danger in anticipation, of course, is that the real thing just might not live up to your expectations. Following Bridge of Sighs and Empire Falls is no easy task, either. Can you guess where this humble review is headed? Yep, I was a bit disappointed in TOCM. Not overly so, and it's still a fine book and a very good story, and Russo still does his amazing job of capturing the essence of fascinating, but somehow still believable characters. His delicate mixing of humor and tragedy is still strong. His ability to get the reader into the scene is amazing, and he writes the marital argument better than anyone, I think. This book was missing some of the more comedic foils in Russo's other books, but he's still drawn together an impressive cast. So what's wrong with the book? Maybe it's just a bit short. Maybe there was more story to tell. That was the feeling I came away with. If you are already a Russo fan, by all means, pick it up and read it; it's better than 99% of the other novels on the shelf. If you are new to Russo, however, save this one for later. Go back to Nobody's Fool or The Risk Pool or the Pulitzer Prize winning Empire Falls. Solid three stars for now, but I reserve the right to come back and bump it a bit after I've reflected for a while.

The White Queen: A Novel (Hardcover)

A Conversation with Philippa Gregory

Q: For readers who love your books set in Tudor England, what would you like them to know about the Plantagenets and the House of York?

A: I suppose I'd like them to know that here is a family just as fascinating as the Tudors, perhaps more so. Certainly, they are more complicated, more wicked, and more passionate--takers of great risk. I think people have been put off this period because it has been so well studied by military historians that it has been regarded as being just about battles. But there is so much more to it than this! The history of the women of the period has been very neglected because of this emphasis on battles and thus the male leaders.

Q: What appealed to you about using Elizabeth Woodville as the main character in a novel? In what ways do you think modern women can identify with Elizabeth?

A: The things I discovered about Elizabeth in the first days of my reading about this period told me at once that she would fascinate me, and she has done so. Her background as a descendant of a family who claim to be related to a goddess was enough to have me absolutely enchanted straightaway. It is in the historical record that her mother was widely believed to be a witch, and that charge was leveled at Elizabeth also. This is exciting enough, but it also indicates that people were afraid of Elizabeth's power, and I am interested in powerful women. I think she will fascinate modern women in the same way that many historical women strike a chord: despite so many changes in the world, women are still trying to find happiness, manage their children, seek advantage, and avoid the persecution of misogynists. As women of any time, we have a lot in common. Despite the amazing advances in the rights of women (and I am so grateful for these myself), the struggle for women's freedom, independence, and the right to exercise power goes on.

Q: Throughout the novel there are scenes relating the story of the goddess Melusina. Is this based on an actual historical fable, or is it something you created for the novel?

A: The fable of Melusina is well known, perhaps to everyone, in its retelling as the story of the Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen and then in the Disney movie. As I say at the beginning of the novel, the legend of Melusina goes far back in time, perhaps to the classical legends, perhaps even earlier. The fable was studied by Carl Jung; Melusina has been identified as a form of the material of the world--the dark, watery element that combines with the sun in the alchemist's “chemical wedding.” This is a potent myth, indeed, and I retell the story here in a way that speaks to my characters and to me.

Q: “These are not chivalrous times; these are not the times of knights in the dark forest and beautiful ladies in moonlit fountains and promises of love that will be ballads, sung forever” (page 22), you write in The White Queen. Is there a tendency to romanticize history, both for writers and readers? How do you make sure to realistically portray all aspects of the time period you're depicting, even the more difficult ones?

A: Yes, indeed. These are not chivalrous times. I suspect that no times have ever been chivalrous times. We glamorize the past, and we romanticize it; we even look back at our own personal histories and cast a rosy glow or an enhanced dark shadow over our own childhoods. I keep my writing grounded in realism by reading a great deal before I start writing, by looking at the record with a critical eye, and by being skeptical of grandiose claims. Having said that, I too find it hard to resist the charm of Edward or Elizabeth or the marvelous character Jacquetta or any of the other powerful and interesting people who strove for themselves and for their families in these dangerous times. These are not chivalrous or romantic times, but they are times of danger--and in such circumstances one sees both the worst and best in people.

Q: What challenges, if any, did you face when writing about the battle scenes and the military strategy, which was often a crucial factor in determining who took the throne? Did you visit any of the places where the battles took place?

A: I became a researcher in military history, which is not my natural home! I visited battle sites and I read long and complicated descriptions of battles and the modern speculations. In the end I found myself absolutely intrigued and fascinated by how the battles were lost and won by small events, even sometimes by luck. The mist at Barnet is a recorded fact, and it was possible for me to weave it into the story of Elizabeth and her mother as well as to see it as a determining factor on the battlefield. The three suns of Towton were both a real phenomenon and a powerful metaphor for the troops. The history of battles is a central part to the story of the Cousins' War, and part of my task in this novel and the others in the series was to take this history, as I take any other, and make it come alive in the novel.

Q: The fate of Edward and Richard, the princes in the Tower, is a subject that has confounded historians for centuries. Why did you decide to approach this aspect of the story the way you did? Is there evidence to suggest that Elizabeth sent her son Richard into hiding and a page boy in his place to the Tower?

A: Part of my response to this story was simply emotional: I have a son of my own, and the thought of Elizabeth losing both her sons was tremendously painful. So I confess a bias to wanting at least one to survive. Then there is the historical evidence. A very interesting book by Ann Wroe, Perkin, suggested to me that the so-called pretender Perkin Warbeck might well have been the surviving prince, Richard. Her case for it is very compelling, as others have suggested too. There is other persuasive evidence that both boys were not killed as the traditional history (and Shakespeare) suggests. Even the traditional history--of them being suffocated in their beds in the Tower and buried beneath a stair--is filled with contradictions. If Perkin was Richard--and this is speculative history, as indeed all history around this genuine mystery must be--then Richard must have somehow survived. How could this have happened? It seemed to me most likely, not that he escaped from the Tower, but that he was never sent to it. His mother knew the danger her older son was in, had herself seen Henry VI murdered in the Tower, and was highly aware of the danger to her sons. It seemed to me most unlikely that she would hand over a second son when she had lost the first. The changeling page boy is my invention, but the history of Perkin in Flanders is based on his own confession. His story will continue in the series.

Q: Elizabeth's father says to her, “We are forming a new royal family. We have to be more royal than royalty itself or nobody will believe us. I can't say I quite believe it myself” (page 63). How unlikely was it that Elizabeth Woodville would become queen? How has she been remembered by historians?

A: Elizabeth's ascent to the throne is one of the great triumphs of a commoner and was considered so exceptional in her own time that one of the explanations offered was witchcraft. It is really a triumph of unlikely events. How unlikely that Edward, raising troops for a battle, would be diverted by a woman he must have met by chance? How unlikely that he would offer marriage when he knew as well as Warwick that to secure his reign he must marry well, preferably a European princess? How unlikely that even after a secret marriage he would honor his vows? It is a catalogue of unlikely events, and the only coherent explanation is that Edward and Elizabeth fell in love at first sight and married for love. Elizabeth, like many powerful and effective women, has been unkindly treated by historians. Some follow the gossip against her at the time that begrudged her good fortune; some point to the alliances she made for her family as symptoms of greed and self-aggrandizement. She gets little credit for surviving two periods in sanctuary, nor for her courage during the siege of the Tower. She is like many women “hidden from history” in the phrase of historian Sheila Rowbotham, and when her role is acknowledged she is often treated with very harsh criticism.

Q: Anthony Woodville, the queen's brother, seemed to be ahead of his time in regard to education and culture. What more can you tell us about him? Was Elizabeth honoring his memory by becoming a patroness of Queens' College Cambridge?

A: Elizabeth took over the role of patron of Queens' College from her predecessor Margaret of Anjou, but her interest in education and culture may have been inspired and would certainly have been encouraged by her brother, who was a true Renaissance man: spiritual, martial, thoughtful, and innovative. He brought the printer William Caxton to England and sponsored the first printed book; he was famous for his ability in the joust; and he was a loyal brother to Elizabeth and a devoted uncle to her son. The poem I quote in the book was indeed the poem he wrote the night before he died. We can only speculate as to the sort of man he can have been that he should spend his last hours on earth, not in rage or grief, but in crafting a poem of such detachment and clarity.

Q: If you could go back in time and live in any of the royal courts you've written about, which one would it be and why?

A: I would be absolutely mad to want to be a woman of any of these times. A Tudor or Plantagenet woman was wholly ruled by men: either father or husband. She would find it difficult to seek any education, make her own fortune, or improve her circumstances. Her husband would have a legal right over her that was equal to his ownership of domestic animals; and the chances of dying in childbirth were very high. If one could go back in time and be a wealthy man, these would be times of adventure and opportunity but still tremendously dangerous. I think I would prefer the Tudor period to diminish the danger of being killed in battle, but there were still regular plagues and foreign wars to face. I cannot sufficiently express my enthusiasm for modern medicine, votes for women, and safe contraception.

Q: The younger Elizabeth emerges as quite a vivid and spirited character. Will we be seeing more of her in a future book?

A: Elizabeth, the Princess of York, goes on to marry Henry VII and so is mother to a royal dynasty, just as her father and mother hoped they were creating a royal dynasty. She is, of course, mother of Henry VIII, and her granddaughter is England's greatest queen--Elizabeth I. Elizabeth of York will be the subject of the third book of this series, to be called The White Princess. But coming next is the story of the mother of Henry VII, the indomitable Margaret Beaufort, whom you may have glimpsed in this novel but who deserves a book all to herself. It is called The Red Queen.

Ms. Gregory is Back!, August 18, 2009
By Julie Peterson "Booking Mama" (Central PA)

I have been anxiously awaiting the new Philippa Gregory book THE WHITE QUEEN. Like many, I enjoyed THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL; however, I didn't exactly love the last book that I read by Ms. Gregory. I was sincerely hoping that THE WHITE QUEEN would love up to all its advance billing. After reading it (or you could say devouring it), I am so excited to say that Ms. Gregory is back. I loved THE WHITE QUEEN!

THE WHITE QUEEN is the first book in The Cousins' War Series. You can't see me, but I'm doing a little happy dance because that means there will be two more books about the Plantagenets -- THE RED QUEEN and THE WHITE PRINCESS. I am already excited about the release of the next book because I felt as if I was kind of left hanging at the end of THE WHITE QUEEN. I don't mean that in a negative way and I'm sure it was the author's intent, but I want to know what happens next!

While I definitely enjoy historical fiction, I am sadly lacking in knowledge about England and its Monarchy. As a result, I knew almost nothing about the Plantagenets except for a few small things that appeared as side stories in other novels. I can't tell you how much of this story is fact versus fiction; and frankly, I don't even care. I was fascinated by the story Ms. Gregory told about these characters' lives. THE WHITE QUEEN is better than any televised drama or movie I've ever seen. These characters are smart, determined, and ruthless; and I just loved reading about them.

I thought THE WHITE QUEEN had a little bit of everything; and I'm sure there is something in Elizabeth Woodville' s story that will capture your attention. First, THE WHITE QUEEN is just a fabulous historical story about the Cousins' War. There are so many scenes where brother is pitted against brother for control; and the characters involved have absolutely no idea who they can and can not trust. It was a great, suspenseful ride for the reader too! I also thoroughly enjoyed how Ms. Gregory used facts to tell the story while also embellishing the mysteries and holes in the characters' lives to make a very readable story. I realize that Ms. Gregory picked some fascinating people to write about, but a whole lot of credit goes to her for being such an amazing storyteller.

Another part of this story that will keep many readers entertained is the magical and sorcery elements. Elizabeth is said to be the descendant of a mythical water creature called Melusina. Ms. Gregory incorporated the myth of Melusina into the novel and actually used it as a recurring theme/symbol throughout the story. In addition, Elizabeth's mother practiced some examples witchcraft. Some people actually claimed that Elizabeth's mother put a spell on Edward to make him fall in love with her daughter. The character of Elizabeth also had premonitions about certain things and places in her life. She always had a bad feeling that something awful would occur in the Black Tower.

One of my favorite elements of the THE WHITE QUEEN was the love story angle. It seemed to me as if there was a perfect blend of romance and history in this book. Not only did THE WHITE QUEEN show the love affair between Elizabeth and Edward, but this book is also demonstrated the love between mothers and their children. More than once, I was amazed by what women did to protect their children especially in the case of Elizabeth and her sons.

THE WHITE QUEEN would make an excellent book club pick. In fact, if your group enjoys historical fiction like mine does, then you should definitely consider this book in the very near future. One added bonus is that the book is around 400 pages (shorter than many historical novels), and it is not at all overwhelming in scope. There is a great reading guide with fifteen questions that really allow you to delve into Elizabeth's life and her actions. Some of the topics for discussion include mother/daughter relationships, moral dilemmas, adultery, betrayal, and witchcraft. There is also a very interesting interview with Ms. Gregory that gives you some insight into the background of this novel.

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) (Hardcover)

Product DescriptionAgainst all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

About the AuthorSUZANNE COLLINS's debut novel, Gregor the Overlander, the first book in the Underland Chronicles, received wide praise both in the United States and abroad. The series has been a New York Times bestseller and received numerous accolades. Also a writer for children's television, Suzanne lives with her family in Connecticut.

And you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted..., July 7, 2009
By S. Hughes

If you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted... you were wrong.

The highly-anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games is the kind of novel that has you pulling back to take a breath and go, "How did the author think of this?" (if you can stop turning the pages long enough to breathe)

Catching Fire picks up right where Hunger Games left off. Unrest in the Districts is growing at an alarming pace and Katniss unwittingly finds herself the figurehead for the movement against the Capitol. The characters you loved return for the sequel and the reader must endure each indignity the Capitol inflicts upon them. It is painful, tortuous, imaginative and motivating. It is everything The Hunger Games was and more. It both answers your lingering questions and creates so many new ones. It challenges you to think and creates such feelings of empathy for the characters that whenever I had to put the book down, I was genuinely worried for leaving the characters hanging and couldn't wait to pick it back up just so they could continue fighting for their lives and freedoms.

Everything I loved about The Hunger Games is present in Catching Fire: the unique and engrossing storyline; characters so thoroughly and beautifully described they start to feel like friends; a fantastical setting that is both real and sad; and language that is easy to read and yet conveys such a profound meaning. It has action, romance, horror, hope, despair and, most of all, humanity. It has sci-fi and politics yet, unlike a lot of books on the market, they are not "in your face" and are completely approachable.

Due to elements of violence and some light romantic scenes, I would recommend it for 13+. That being said, I would recommend it for ANYONE 13+ of any reading taste or background: as a bookseller and a recent library school graduate, these are the books I find easiest to recommend to anyone I meet.

I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the third and final book to come out. After reading Catching Fire, I know you will be too.

I wish I could give it 10 stars!!!, July 9, 2009
By Echo (Washington, DC)

When I read the Hunger Games, I read it straight through the night, from 1AM til 5AM. Couldn't stop reading even though I had to pee badly. After I finished it, I was dying for the sequel. DYING!!!! When I found out the ARC would be available in the spring, I bribed everyone I could think of to get me one. And yes, I got it. The day I got it, I couldn't look at it until 1AM again. This time, I promised myself, I would only look at the first chapter and then put it down. Riiiiight. It was 4:30AM when I finished reading and immediately began plotting to find out when the next book ARC would be available.

I thought the first one was fantastic. In the back of my mind I felt that the sequel just couldn't be as good. How could it? Boy was I wrong! It was even better! My heart was racing the whole time I was reading it and I simply couldn't put it down. I believe Ms. Collins is the MASTER of the pageturner. Every chapter ends with almost a cliffhanger feeling. It compels you to keep reading. It physically traps you into the book so that you just can't put it down. If you can't read this book in one sitting, then I urge you not to even look at it until you can. Like the first one, you will not be able to put it down. The house could have been on fire and I doubt I would have noticed.

Since we got to know Peeta and Katniss so well from the first one, what the sequel does is invest us even more deeply into their emotional well being. I won't give any other spoilers than what has already been said. So the book starts with Katniss as the face of the rebellion because of her act of defiance in the first book. As rebellion grows, the President sets up his revenge - and when I found out what it was, I literally sat up in bed and shouted "Oh NO! I can't believe they are doing this to them!!!" Yes I was talking to my book. That's how deeply this book sucks you into this amazing and disturbing dystopian world. It makes you want to grab up a weapon and join the rebellion.

One thing I have to say, I was deeply satisfied with the ending of this book. The first book ended in such a way that I was bothered by it and itchy for the next book. With the end of Catching Fire, I felt it was absolutely right and thrilled with the conclusion. But I'm still DYING for the third and final book of this amazing book series.

Smash Cut: A Novel (Hardcover)

Product Description
The latest thriller from "masterful storyteller" (USA Today) Sandra Brown

THE PRINCIPALS: Paul Wheeler: CEO of the Wheeler Enterprises empire, is shot dead during an armed robbery. Julie Rutledge: A savvy, cultured, and attractive Southern woman, was hand-inhand with Paul Wheeler at the time of his death. Derek Mitchell: A defense lawyer of renown, he goes to the mat to make a case for every client -- and headlines for himself. Creighton Wheeler: The prodigal nephew of Paul and a playboy with a passion for movies. Even those closest to Creighton can't be sure when he exits reality and enters the fantasy world of films.

STORYBOARD: The murder of Paul Wheeler has all the elements of a blockbuster: family rivalries, incalculable wealth, and a prominent man dying in the arms of his beautiful mistress. It's a case that could earn Derek Mitchell even greater star power. When the Wheeler family approaches him about defending Creighton for his uncle's murder -- even before he's charged -- he jumps at the chance.

Although Creighton has a rock-solid alibi, Julie is convinced that he is responsible for Paul's murder. Caught in several lies, and keeping secrets from Derek and the police, Julie is suspected of casting blame on Creighton to cover her own crime. Meanwhile, Derek fears he's being duped...yet he burns with jealousy when he thinks of Julie with her late lover. But the more Derek learns about Creighton, the more he doubts the young man's innocence. And hiding in a squalid motel under an assumed name is the one man, a career criminal, a killer, who knows the truth. The clock ticks down toward a shocking ending that can't be known until the final SMASH CUT.

Unabridged Compact Disk Includes a Bonus MP3 CD of Sandra Brown's The Switch!

About the AuthorSANDRA BROWN is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers--including most recently Smash Cut, Smoke Screen, Play Dirty, Ricochet, Chill Factor, White Hot, Hello, Darkness, The Crush, and Envy. She is the recipient of the 2008 Thriller Master Award from International Thriller Writers, Inc. She and her husband live in Arlington, Texas.

Lost in a world of sordid lust and carnal desires, August 11, 2009
By Lace Merlinds

Sasha Brown is among the best writers that adds suspense-filled overtones to an underlining romantic plotline. Her newest book, Smash Cut, is just another example of her brilliant pen work. The book begins with the murder of a highly successful, well-recognizable CEO, Paul Wheeler. What at first seems like a simple robbery, however, is proving to be anything but.

The Atlanta businessman had romantic entanglements with one of the most successful art dealers in the Southern US, Julie Rutledge, may be the only viable witness alive.

As this case dominates the headlines, the world renown defense lawyer, Derek Mitchell, is hired by the family to defend, Creighton Wheeler, the nephew of Paul, whom has yet to be charged with the crime.

This is a bold move from the family and it raises all sorts of red flags. But laying in wait is Julie, who is committed to bringing justice to Paul, and is willing to do all she can to see that it happens -- and her first task is to prevent the incredibly handsome, Derek Mitchell, from defending the case.

This latest book by Ms. Brown moves along at a blinding pace. The book starts fast and only gains momentum. The twist and turns are so unpredictable, that you cannot see them coming. For instance: Creighton Wheeler is the primary suspect, yet has an alibi for the night of the crime. But if he is not guilty, then why did the family rush and hire the best defense lawyer in the business? And what role did, Julie Rutledge, truly play in all this? Remember, she is the viable witness?

The characters are brilliantly constructed and mesmerize the reader by inviting them into this world of sordid lust and carnal desires. I highly recommend it. Another book I would highly recommend is GE0 TIN'S masterful novel SIRENS: Sirens (Enchanted Song) it is another incredibly crafted novel the features the dual genre.

Just Like In The Movies, August 11, 2009
By Tom S. "filmfan3" (New York City)

When a high-powered CEO is killed in an apparent robbery, it soon becomes clear that his murder was personal. His ne'er-do-well nephew, Creighton Wheeler, is a logical suspect, and the dead man's mistress will do anything to get him convicted. This is a problem for Derek Mitchell, the attorney who's been hired to defend Wheeler--especially when Derek becomes personally involved with the mistress. It gets more complicated from there....

The newest thriller from Sandra Brown is a special treat for movie buffs. One of the characters--the suspect, Creighton Wheeler--is obsessed with films, particularly the work of Alfred Hitchcock. A working knowledge of Hitchcock's movies helps you play along with the action here, but it isn't essential. You'll enjoy it either way. SMASH CUT is a twisty, sexy, surprising mystery, and perfect summer reading. Recommended.

Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking (Paperback) Review
What would you give to see the notes Julia Child keeps in her handwritten loose-leaf kitchen reference guide? Your wish is granted! This clever little volume was inspired by Child's notebook, compiled from her own "trials, remedies, and errors."
Organized by large category and technique, it's a very handy reference guide for anyone reasonably comfortable in the kitchen. Each section contains a master recipe followed by variations. The emphasis is on technique, so if you occasionally find yourself trying to remember at what temperature to best roast a duck, the best way to cook green beans and keep them green, or how to save your hollandaise, then this is the book for you. And what good is a reference guide without an index? As always, Child comes to our rescue with a fantastic, comprehensive index, 19 pages long for 107 pages of text, so we can find the answers to life's burning questions in a flash.

Part of what makes Julia Child such an icon is that she can describe a complicated dish, and in the next breath convince us to make it. Classic Chocolate Mousse, Sabayon, Scalloped Potatoes Savoyarde, and Butterflied Leg of Lamb sound manageable when they follow recipes for Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, and Scrambled Eggs. And with Child's help, they are. "Quick, snappy answers" for both basic and complicated cooking questions make this a work we'll never outgrow. And if Julia can use a cheat sheet, so can we! Fans of Child will love that her personality shows through in comments like, "Don't crowd the pan... or you'll be sorry," and, to introduce her Basic Vinaigrette Dressing, "I use the proportions of a very dry martini." Eight pages of photos taken by her husband, Paul, including one of Child with the famous dancing goose, make this even more of a treasure.

If there is anyone qualified to offer kitchen wisdom, it must be Julia Child. After a lifetime of cooking and teaching, her knowledge is a perfect gift for fans, novices, or anyone responsible for putting dinner on the table every night. --Leora Y. Bloom --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers WeeklyThis slender book from the doyenne of gourmet cooking is a boon for those who need a refresher course in, or a handy source for, basics. These notes come from Child's own kitchen notebook, years in the making. Generally, each recipe is included in "master" form with numerous variations; for example, a section on potatoes explains the ins and outs of Mashed Potatoes, as well as provides a recipe for Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Child's voice is always welcome, and never more so than when she is providing no-muss-no-fuss advice like this. A quick section on dried beans covers soaking as well as cooking in a pressure cooker or Crock-Pot, and some more esoteric treats, such as homemade bread and souffl?s, have their place here. Helpful tips proliferate throughout: Sea Scallops Saut?ed with Garlic and Herbs are followed by a paragraph on scallops that exude too much juice, and a section on tarts explains how to prebake a shell. Even Hamburgers (plain and flavored) are covered here.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Useful Cooking Reference, September 28, 2001
By A Customer

I love cooking shows and often read cookbooks for pleasure, picking up tips from each author and pondering what recipes I'd like t try, but I have to admit that I've never been a part of the cooking cult that worships Julia Child. I do remember watching her shows as a child, with my mother, and know she pioneered the genre, but the meals she made rarely appealed to me--too time consuming, too "fussy" and just too "strange" for every day taste. (If I have to visit eight different shops and peruse three mail order catalogs to make a dish, I'm probably not going to try it.)
Recently, I picked up "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" at the library and was quickly sold. I am now ordering a copy to keep. The book is filled with useful basic recipes and techniques, as well as lots of helpful time-saving tips that Child has picked up over the years. It's not really a recipe book per se, though tried-and-true formulas for things like Hollandaise sauce and pastry dough do appear, it's more of a kitchen guide. It's full of ingredient substitutions, serving suggestions and definitions of terms you may come across. More useful to experienced cooks, it's also a helpful guide for the best technique, according to Child, for things like braising, searing, roasting and folding. Child's years in the kitchen have made here at master and I was pleasantly surprised to find many time-saving techniques and places were Child says the "easy" way is actually better.

This slim volume really packs a wallop of cooking information and I think it would make a nice addition to any cook's bookshelf.

Handy reference, March 7, 2001
By Lynn Harnett (Marathon, FL USA)

Packed with expertise, Julia Child's "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" began life as her personal kitchen reference, "a mini aide-memoire for general home cookery." It addresses the basics - making stock, master recipes and variations on basic sauces, soups, salad dressings, bread dough, cakes, omelets, rice and more. There are charts for steaming vegetables and tips for successful roasting, braising, sautéing, broiling and stewing.
In among the basic techniques and recipes are boxed tips - for herb bouquets, making clarified butter, buying and storing eggs, whipping cream, butterflying a chicken, etc.

Recipes range from earthy to elegant - French Fries, Pizza, Hamburgers, Pot au Feu Boiled Dinner, Cream of Mushroom Soup, French Style Risotto, Potato Galette, Genoise Cake, Country Pate, Beef Bourguignon, Creamed Lobster (or shrimp or crab).

The index is extensive and cross-referenced and the book is impeccably organized - a slim and efficient volume which answers most of the questions that arise in everyday cooking.

How Did That Happen?: Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way (Hardcover)

Review“Definitely the ‘go-to’ book for teaching organizational accountability that works— without the backlash.”
—Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 habits of Highly Effective People

“Packed with practical tools and insights, this is the book that can help you turn accountability from concept into reality.”
—Jim Mazzo, president, Abbott Medical Optics

“Connors and Smith have done it again! . . . This book will provide a competitive advantage at a time when ‘accountability’ is more important than ever before!”
—David Brandon, chairman and CEO, Domino’s Pizza, Inc.

“This is the right approach for getting results in today’s global environment.”
—Gregory J. Newell, former U.S. ambassador and assistant secretary of state

“How Did That Happen? clearly outlines the path to accountability. . . . We will place a copy of this book in the hands of all leaders throughout our organization."
—Michael Lippert, chief operating officer, Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc.

“Creating greater accountability in a way that captures people’s hearts and minds is harder than it looks. . . . How Did That Happen? delivers specific and practical advice to do just that.”
—Ginger Graham, former CEO, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

“Connors and Smith offer an insightful view into the underpinnings of accountability that translate into spectacular and sustainable results.”
—Michael Kneidinger, vice president of worldwide operations, Hard Rock Café International

“How Did That Happen? peels back the onion on achieving sustained accountability.”
—Jeff Brundage, senior vice president of human resources, American Airlines

Product Description
A simple, proven approach to improve accountability and your company’s bottom line.

The economy crashes, the government misfires, businesses fail, leaders don’t lead, managers don’t manage, and the people we count on for the results that affect our own performance don’t follow through, leaving us asking, “How did that happen?”

All the surprises caused by a lack of personal accountability plague almost every organization today, from the political arena to every large and small business. How Did That Happen? offers a proven way to eliminate these nasty surprises, gain an unbeatable competitive edge, and enhance performance by holding others accountable the positive, principled way.

As the experts on workplace accountability and authors of The Oz Principle, the classic book on personal accountability, Roger Connors and Tom Smith now tackle the next crucial step everyone can take, whether as a manager, supervisor, CEO, or individual performer: creating greater accountability in all the people on whom you depend.

Connors and Smith have spent decades implementing their approach to creating greater accountability in some of the world’s most admired companies. Through hundreds of successful client applications, they have proven that organizational accountability can be the single most important factor in ensuring a company’s success. Now, they present the Accountability Sequence, a systematic and sensible approach that includes two essential components: The Outer Ring, which reveals how to establish expectations and positive accountability connections with everyone in the Expectations Chain. The Inner Ring, which shows how to manage unmet expectations when people fail to deliver and thereby reverse the misfortune of missed results.

Using case studies, practical models, and self-assessments, the authors make it possible for anyone to install accountability as a central part of their daily work, their team’s efforts, or an overall corporate culture—and, in turn, increase profits and generate better results.

Awesome! Much needed today!, August 11, 2009
By Christine Jones "Get it done" (Boston, MA)

This book is so needed today. Holding people accountable in a way that actually gets results vs resentment is a message that many people could use (especially since there's so much pressure out there right now). I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the message of accountability and to anyone who needs people deliver for them!

Solving Unmet Expectations, August 11, 2009
By Douglas E. Judson (Highland, UT United States)

I have read The Oz Principle and Journey To The Emerald City and they are both reference books that I keep on my desk. How Did That Happen has found a place right next to the other two books! As we all have to deal with unmet expectations, this book explains this difference between "Hands and Feet" and "Hearts and Minds. Roger Connors and Tom Smith teach you how to capture the heart and mind. Where was this book when I started out as a manager many years ago! You must read this book if you are a manager, parent, teenager, or anyone who has to interact with others to get results. I am giving copies to people at church. The book is fun and the examples are true to life. This will be a solid best seller!

How Did That Happen really hits the mark!, August 11, 2009
By R.Hayden (Southern California)

I found How Did That Happen to be very insightful. The focus on effective communication between people in the workplace is absolutely invaluable. This book delves into personality styles, and introduces concrete tools to work around issues we face on a daily basis to increase the company's bottom line and achieve results we never thought we could get. I would highly recommend organizational leaders read this book to gain a better understanding about how to more effectively manage employee expectations and boost morale. 5 Stars!!

In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect (Hardcover)

Product Description
Never before has a journalist penetrated the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service, that elite corps of agents who pledge to take a bullet to protect the president and his family. After conducting exclusive interviews with more than one hundred current and former Secret Service agents, bestselling author and award-winning reporter Ronald Kessler reveals their secrets for the first time.

Secret Service agents, acting as human surveillance cameras, observe everything that goes on behind the scenes in the president’s inner circle. Kessler reveals what they have seen, providing startling, previously untold stories about the presidents, from John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as about their families, Cabinet officers, and White House aides.

Kessler portrays the dangers that agents face and how they carry out their missions–from how they are trained to how they spot and assess potential threats. With fly-on-the-wall perspective, he captures the drama and tension that characterize agents’ lives.

In this headline-grabbing book, Kessler discloses assassination attempts that have never before been revealed. He shares inside accounts of past assaults that have put the Secret Service to the test, including a heroic gun battle that took down the would-be assassins of Harry S. Truman, the devastating day that John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, and the swift actions that saved Ronald Reagan after he was shot.

While Secret Service agents are brave and dedicated, Kessler exposes how Secret Service management in recent years has betrayed its mission by cutting corners, risking the assassination of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their families. Given the lax standards, “It’s a miracle we have not had a successful assassination,” a current agent says.

Since an assassination jeopardizes democracy itself, few agencies are as important as the Secret Service–nor is any other subject as tantalizing as the inner sanctum of the White House. Only tight-lipped Secret Service agents know the real story, and Ronald Kessler is the only journalist to have won their trust.

About the AuthorRONALD KESSLER is the New York Times bestselling author of The Terrorist Watch, The Bureau, Inside the White House, and The CIA at War. A former reporter for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, he has won sixteen journalism awards. Kessler lives in Potomac, Maryland, with his wife, Pamela.

Kessler's track record, August 4, 2009
By E. Mark (USA

Kessler has an excellent track record of getting some solid sources and this book no doubt will have many as well. Have not yet read but I am guessing it will be an informative and entertaining read.

Be the Hero: Three Powerful Ways to Overcome Challenges in Work and Life (Hardcover)

Product Description
Be the hero you want to be!
At times we all feel frustrated, stressed, or out of control. What if you could be at your best when your challenges are on the rise? Well, you can. Be the Hero introduces us to the way of the "Everyday Hero" and shows how to turn self-defeating thoughts and behavior into heroic actions. The trick is in the stories we tell ourselves.

All day long, without even realizing it, we tell ourselves dozens of stories--about other people, our situations, and ourselves--stories that shape our emotions and behavior. These stories are so powerful, they make us think and act like either a hero or a victim. Be the Hero shows you how to choose the stories that lead to personal and professional success.

In the tradition of the best storytellers, Noah Blumenthal weaves a tale that is both captivating and profound. Be the Hero is destined to become a classic.

Standing on a mountaintop in Switzerland, Jeff thought he had figured out the secret to living a great life. Eight years later he was a rising star in his company and looking forward to the birth of his first child. Then it all unraveled. Follow his extraordinary journey as he discovers what he missed on the mountain and how to recapture his success at work and in life.

From the Publisher
Praise for Be the Hero
"Noah Blumenthal's uplifting new book, Be the Hero, will teach you to think like a hero. This book will change your outlook on life!"
--Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Leading at a Higher Level

"I recommend Be the Hero for anyone who is driven by the challenge of delivering peak performance at work and at home."
--Michael H. Thaman, Chairman and CEO, Owens Corning

"Noah Blumenthal uses a simple, compelling story to teach profound lessons."
--Tammy J. Winnie, Director, Organization Change Management, Kellogg Company

"I could not put this book down. The story is riveting and the learning from it is priceless."
--Sharon Jordan-Evans, coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

A Must Have!, July 21, 2009
By Rosemary Gandolfo "Rosemary Gandolfo" (East Moriche, NY)

What an amazing book! Noah Blumethal has done it again! Noah has a gift for being able to simplify ones ability to make changes in ones life. This a quick and easy read. I believe before you get through the first 30 pages you will be able to apply the ideas that Noah shares.

Noah Blumenthal explains the difference between those people who seem to always fall victim and struggle to get by each day with those who have the same challenges yet seem to find peace no matter what. He shares with us the secret of how we can live this same life in a simple way that we can put into practice immediately!

This book also makes an excellent gift and is perfect for a book club. It inspires a real sense of community. I will also go out on a limb and say that this book has the potential to improve entire families and communities. It inspires one to "Be The Hero" and to help others "Be The Hero". If we live in a community of people living these principles we will all be much happier and successful!

Thank You Noah for this gem!

Rosemary Gandolfo ACC

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Deluxe Edition) (Hardcover)

Smart tribute to years of Batman creativity, July 27, 2009
By Traveling professor (Texas)

This is a great comic book for fans of the Batman, for readers who will appreciate a whole range of allusions to various incarnations of this hero over time. It is a brilliant tribute to one of the classic comic book heroes. Those who do not know the history of the character may miss some of the references.

The use of alternate stories may trouble readers who want a straight-forward adventure story -- what Gaiman is providing is an imaginative tribute to the various ways this superhero has been imagined by his creators over the time. It is not a linear story with beginning--middle--end in that order but a series of possible explanations, a series of alternative universes, all of which are tied to the final visions of the hero on the edge of death. What is most amazing is that in the process of imagining all of these possibilities for the Batman, Gaiman is both faithful to various past creators of the hero and completely original.

In many ways, this is a postmodern Batman and a brilliant book by one of the greatest masters of the graphic novel.

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, July 25, 2009
By David Edmonds "tapestry100" (Lansing, MI)

OK, I'm prepared for the gasps of shock and anger from the appropriate crowd, but honestly, I was really disappointed in this story. Maybe part of the problem is that I am just not that familiar with what is happening in the individual comic book series right now, but I do know that Bruce Wayne has apparently died. Gaiman was asked to write a swan song of sorts for Batman, and Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? is the end result.

I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but I don't think this was it. Originally publihsed in Batman #685 and Detective Comics #852, basically, we are witnessing Batman's funeral (not Bruce Wayne's) and the remaining supporting cast of the series has come to pay their respects. Each person, including his Rogues Gallery, speaks about Batman and how he died, and how each person contributed to his death. Yet not one of these stories matches with another. And it appears that Bruce Wayne is viewing all of the ongoings as a sort of out of body experience.

I think the biggest problem here is that Gaiman was only given two issues to write this out in. I definitely think that the story could have benefited from one, maybe two, more issues of story. It seemed, at least to me, that Gaiman had more story to tell but had to compress what he had to make it fit into the space allotted. He tried to pay tribute to each of the most influential artists and writers of the Batman mythos, but with so many tributes crammed into only two issues and still needing to leave room for the 'big reveal' explanation at the end, what we're left with is a rather jumbled mess of a story.

Andy Kubert's art is quite stunning throughout. He makes an effort to replicate the basic art styles from each time frame that Gaiman pays tribute to, and does an admirable job. His unique style comes through the entire story, but you can also see the artistic influences of the time in his art. I found it a unique and fresh approach to the art. I just wish the story itself left me with the same feeling.

Also included in this edition are four other Batman stories that Gaiman has written over the years.

Maybe if I were more immersed in the Batman series right now, this story would have meant more to me. Maybe if I were a faithful monthly reader, I would have gotten more out of it. But I'm not a stranger to the Batman mythos, and this still felt like Gaiman couldn't quite decide where he wanted to take his story. Maybe he needed another issue. Who knows. I'm sure this story will appeal to the right person, whether that person is a Gaiman fan or a Batman fan. All I know is that I'm a little bit of both (more a Gaiman fan than a Batman fan) and I was left wanting something more out of this story.

Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009 (Hardcover)

Product Description
So much has how been said and written about the life and career of Michael Jackson that it has become almost impossible to disentangle the man from the myth. This book is the fruit of over 30 years of research and hundreds of exclusive interviews with a remarkable level of access to the very closest circles of the Jackson family - including Michael himself. Cutting through tabloid rumours, J. Randy Taraborrelli traces the real story behind Michael Jackson, from his drilling as a child star through the blooming of his talent to his ever-changing personal appearance and bizarre publicity stunts. This major biography includes the behind-the-scenes story to many of the landmarks in Jackson's life: his legal and commercial battles, his marriages to Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe, his passions and addictions, his children. Objective and revealing, it carries the hallmarks of all of Taraborrelli's best-sellers: impeccable research, brilliant storytelling and definitive documentation.

About the AuthorJ. Randy Taraborrelli is a respected journalist, a recognizable entertainment personality, and in-demand guest on many television programs. He is the bestselling author of eight books. Taraborrelli is a reporter for the Times (London), Paris Match, and The Daily Mail (UK) and a contributor to Redbook,McCall's, and Good Housekeeping.

Read with caution, July 25, 2009
By Ivy Gordon (Boston, MA)

Ok, so in the sad world of Jackson biographies, this is undoubtably the best. Taraborelli's style is conversational and enjoyable and I agree with the reviewers before me- it is difficult to put down.
However, there are a number of things that rattle the credibility of this publication.

1. Taraborelli contributes to the Daily Mail, a smutty British tabloid.
2. Taraborelli allows the Daily Mail to refer to him as Jackson's "friend" and even "lifelong confidante." This is incredibly far from the truth. Taraborelli makes no such assertions himself, but allowing himself to be referred to as such is just as bad. This type of self-aggrandizing disregard for the truth undermines his otherwise seemingly-semi-credible work. (Also of note, the Daily Mail also calls Stacy Brown a family friend. Brown is another Jackson biographer who revealed that crucial portions of his biography were made up for sensational purposes when under oath in Jackson's 2005 trial)
3. There are some things that Taraborelli reports as fact that could only have reached him through a biased, drawn-out grapevine. For example, Jackson's sex life with Lisa Marie. Also, the portions written about the nature of Jackson's relationship with Jordie Chandler, particularly the pieces where Jackson is alone with only the family in their home when Jackson is like, obsessively staring at Jordie. Who the HELL told Taraborelli that? One of Chandler's parents? Good ol' Uncle Ray? Knowing that Taraborelli took liberties with the fact here and in other places where he will put incredible detail into scenes of which he couldn't possibly be aware makes you wonder where else he did this(and, also, if he knew all this- why did he not know that it was Jackson's insurance who paid the Chandlers the $20 million and not Jackson himself?) Does it make for enjoyable prose? Yes. But it's basically FAN FICTION.
4. Taraborelli associates with some pretty shady anti-Jackson characters. He considers Diane Dimond a close friend. Frankly, I don't understand how someone could see past her tasteless witch-hunting to become a friend. He also gave interviews to this guy whos in this name escapes me, but he made a documentary called "Michael Jackson: What Really Happened" This documentary is so poorly made, it seems like a middle-schoolers powerpoint. And basically everything in it is ridiculous and incorrect.
5. Taraborelli's participation in the 2005 trial was less than admirable. He seemed to favor the prosecution's chances when, upon review of the transcripts and evidence, they never had a case. He also got all of this credit for being so "close" to Jackson, but then he went along with all of the reporters who entertained themselves by relentlessly mocking their cash cow. I spent one week on the press there, and I was blown over by how unprofessional the environment was.
6. Taraborelli admitted in an interview that he hadn't been keeping up with Jackson's story for the past few years. This means that the final portion of this book was scrambled together in a month.
7. The reason, Taraborelli admitted, that he had been ignoring Jackson was because he was mad at him. .....seriously? ...are you joking? FEELINGS SHOULD NOT MATTER IN BIOGRAPHY WRITING!!! Taraborelli, you are not Jackson's FRIEND. You aren't allowed to be mad at him! This is unprofessional and immature.

I'm not a fan of Jackson's music, but I have been very intrigued by his story and relationship with the media since I witnessed the circus in 2005. All of this said, I do think this book is worth a read. Taraborelli writes well and definitely appears to come much closer to fact than any other biographers. His sources listed are extensive, yet vague in some very crucial areas. Unfortunately, the truth will never be known when it comes to Michael Jackson. Some lie for fame and money. Celebrities will lie for their image. Taraborelli does seem to care for Jackson and is capable of discussing his life without his comments dripping with mockery like other "journalists." Sadly, I imagine this is as good as it's going to get.

The most comprehensive and accurate book on Michael Jackson...period., July 23, 2009
By Frank Bruno (Los Angeles)

Being a fan of Michael Jackson from the time I was a small child, I have read most of what has been written about him. In my opinion this book is by far the most accurate account of a man that has so much mystery surrounding him.

Well written and obviously tirelessly researched, J. Randy Taraborrelli has uncovered much of the mystique in an honest and accurate way. I'm not sure of any other biographer out there who actually knew Michael Jackson and his family. This is a true insiders perspective.

Taraborrelli's writing style is from a humanistic standpoint. Who was Michael Jackson the man? If you are looking for paparazzi style writing with flinging accusations just to sell a book, this is not it. Don't get me wrong, this book is full of juicy tidbits and things the public was not aware of, however they are truthful. So you know you are getting the REAL story. And the real story is riveting. I could not put this book down for 4 days!

I highly recommend this biography to anybody who wants the real story of Michael Jackson, not a 500 page tabloid.