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KARLA MASS: The week's most talked about books

Labor Day is fast approaching and unofficially marks the end of summer. Seasonal items and skimpy outfits will be packed up and stored away ... until the next hint of warm weather. Now is a great time to dust off the old bookshelf and redo your to-read list.

Did you miss out on a good book? If so, add one, two or three to your list and whatever you do, don't say goodbye to summer's most exciting authors!

They are unique, gutsy and super talented; but it's the writers' ability to pen novel after novel after novel that is most impressive.

Anne Rivers Siddons is the author of 16 best sellers. Her elegant storytelling is rich with family life and more than a hint of southern tradition.

Siddons reveals her secret storytelling weapon - telling stories to herself:

Mass: How has your writing changed since the debut of your first novel, "Heartbreak Hotel?"

Siddons: I think my writing goes deeper now than in "Heartbreak Hotel" though the essence of my books is, a woman at the point of change-usually painful, often life-altering, and always in the end, peacefully self-illuminating.

Mass: What one thing motivates you to write novel after novel?

Siddons: I really think that it is a powerful affinity for storytelling. A southern thing I suppose, I just can't stop telling myself stories.

Mass: What one thing affects your writing most?

Siddons: I had a wonderful, small-town childhood and loving parents. But every writer or would-be writer knows instinctively that the largest criteria for drama is family, the actual sharing of blood.

Mass: "The House Next Door" has a different, Gothic tone. What inspired you to stray, as a writer, from your familiar path?

Siddons: It started with a what if conversation with my husband. And I've always had a leaning toward myth and magic-often dark magic. I think fiction is one of the few places this trait can be validly employed.

Mass: Are you specifically writing for women readers?

Siddons: I am not specifically writing for women, though I suppose the majority of my readers are women. But I get a lot of letters from men, too. I think that during the actual act of writing I am writing for myself.

Mass: Which of your novels are you most fond of?

Siddons: I think I'm fondest of the novel that usually inadvertently reveals the most of me to myself. "Peachtree Road" is one; so is "Downtown." And my new novel "Off Season," gave me a side of myself I scarcely knew existed.


Off Season

Author: Anne Rivers Siddons

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Publication Date: August 2008

The Tease: Coastal melodrama erupts in Maine where Lilly remembers her first love. Sweet memories are revisited. What truth does her journey reveal?

Three Favorite Titles: Heartbreak Hotel, House Next Door, Peachtree Road

Listen to an excerpt from Off Season

Trading Dreams at Midnight

Author: Diane McKinney Whetstone

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication Date: June 2008

The Tease: Neena longs to find her mentally ill mother, Freeda. Neena blackmails her married lovers to finance her quest and then she finally meets her match.

Three Favorite Titles: Blues Dancing, Leaving Cecil Street, Tumbling

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

Authors: James E. Patterson, Michael Ledwidge

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Publication Date: July 2008

The Tease: James E. Patterson collaborates once again with Michael Ledwidge to spin a fantasy/suspense novel where 15-year-old Lee is not your average kid. He's the next alien hunter with a list of alien outlaws who must be destroyed. Next on his list is Ergent Seth, a horse-headed monster. Can Lee save the earth?

Three Favorite Titles: The Quickie, Step on a Crack, Run For Your Life

Palace Council

Author: Stephen L. Carter

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Publication Date: July 2008

The Tease: The setting of this political thriller mirrors the '50s and the '70s. Eddie Wesley stumbles upon something on the grounds of a mansion in Harlem. A clue leads him straight to the Palace Council, a shady group of conspirators.

Three Favorite Titles: New England White, The Emperor of Ocean Park, Integrity

Breaking Dawn

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: August 2008

The Tease: Some Stephenie Meyer fans are disappointed with this final installment of the Twilight Series. A controversial book is sometimes a good book, and there's only one way to voice an opinion ... read it first. By the way, who gets the girl? The vampire or the werewolf?

Three Favorite Titles: New Moon, Eclipse, The Host


Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: August 2008

The Tease: Fans are hooked on this intense Dark-Hunter tale. Acheron, once human but reborn a god, rules in this dark, mythological fantasy.

Three Favorite Titles: Phantom in the Night, Dragonswan, Dark Side of the Moon

The Front

Author: Patricia Cornwell

Publisher: Penguin Group USA

Publication Date: May 2008

The Tease: Watertown is the place of falsehoods. A crime novel with all the essentials - gory details and a suspenseful plot. What's with Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano?

Three Favorite Titles: At Risk, The Body Farm, Blow Fly

Just Too Good to Be True

Author: E. Lynn Harris

Publisher: Doubleday Publishing

Publication Date: July 2008

The Tease: Greedy sports agents court Brady Bledsoe who dreams of going pro. He and his mother, Carmyn, have a special relationship that's tested when a hot cheerleader tries to come in between them.

Three Favorite Titles: I Say a Little Prayer, Invisible Life, Any Way the Wind Blows

The Garden of Last Days

Author: Andre Dubus III

Publisher: Norton, W.W. & Company Inc.

Publication Date: June 2008

The Tease: April is painted as an unfit parent ... and it seems fitting. She's a stripper who pays more attention to her customers than her daughter. Read a page turner with complicated characters and a heady plot to match.

Three Favorite Titles: House of Sand and Fog, Bluesman: A Novel, The CageKeeper and Other Stories

The Lucky One

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Publication Date: September 2008

The Tease: Nicholas Sparks, a master at matters of the heart, writes his fourteenth book. And once again, he captures the spirit of new found love.

Three Favorite Titles: Dear John, At First Sight, The Choice

"The Week's Most Talked About Book(s)" is a weekly book review and literary criticism column that publishes every Friday. Selected titles are based on popularity, public opinion, research and observation. Questions, comments and suggestions should be sent to book lover and columnist Karla Mass at She is a content producer for McClatchy Interactive.