Skip to main content

October 15, 2004 Newsletter October 15, 2004
This Week on
Lessons in Living Talks To Stephen R. Donaldson, author of THE RUNES OF THE EARTH Talks to S.J. Rozan, Author of ABSENT FRIENDS Talks to Chris Van Allsburg, Author of THE POLAR EXPRESS
Author Talk: Geralyn Lucas, Author of WHY I WORE LIPSTICK (To My Mastectomy)
Don't Miss: Two Pop-up Books You Don't Want to Miss
This Week's Book Reviews and Features
Poll: Reading Before Sleep
Question of the Week: What Book Kept You Up At Night?
Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading -- THREE Prizes!
On The Book Report Network
Past Reviews
Can't See the Graphics? Read This Newsletter Online
Past Poll: Do you read quotations in books?
Past Question of the Week: What is your favorite quotation?
Read more about STILL ME here. Read more MIRACLES HAPPEN here. Read more about WHY I WORE LIPSTICK here.
Lessons in Living

On Monday morning many of you, like me, woke to the sad news that Christopher Reeve had passed away. I remembered reading his book, STILL ME, when it came out in 1998. Until then, I had little, if any, knowledge of what it means to be a quadriplegic. Flash forward to 2002 when a book called MIRACLES HAPPEN by Brooke and Jean Ellison came out. Brooke had been paralyzed in a car accident when she was 11. She went on to graduate from Harvard with both undergrad and masters degrees, with her mom at her side each step of the way. I interviewed Brooke and Jean when their book came out, and I remember their sharing that Reeve had planned to direct a movie about Brooke's life. Recently I read that it is to air on A&E on October 25th at 8PM ET (Check local listings). This week I had planned to share this reminder with you. Now this movie takes on more significance in the wake of Reeve's death as it is one of the last films that he directed. He spent the last 9 years of his life empowering those who were confined to chairs and beds by telling his story. I urge you to click on the links above to honor his memory and learn more about his story --- and Brooke's.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. One of the best books I have read on this subject is WHY I WORE LIPSTICK (On The Way to My Mastectomy) by Geralyn Lucas. Lucas was 27 and working in a dream job in television when she got her diagnosis. Instead of writing a tale of woe, her writing is full of how she empowered herself as she went through her surgery, recovery and reconstruction. Yes, she did apply lipstick on her way into surgery. And when she awoke in the recovery room hours later, she heard words that every woman can relate to when a nurse asked her what brand of lipstick she was wearing. It had stayed on for her six-hour surgery.

I realized something reading this book --- a stat that I had not thought about before. If 1 in 8 women develop breast disease that means that 7 in 8 of them and 8 of 8 of men can lend support to them. No pun intended. Or actually in Lucas' case, the pun and humor may be just right. She tells stories of what her friends and colleagues --- and strangers --- did to bolster her spirits. One of my favorite was how her boss bought her a sexy black lace bra when her reconstruction surgery was done. Just reading this page you have to smile. This month we don pink ribbons and think about breast cancer. As you do, pick up this book. Reading it encouraged me to buy the colorful scarf that Ford and Lily Pulitzer created as a breast cancer charity item at Bloomingdale's. (Those who know me well know I have a weakness for bright colors especially turquoise.) It also made me think more about small acts of kindness for friends who have breast cancer that I may have overlooked in the past.

This week I interviewed Chris Van Allsburg, the author of THE POLAR EXPRESS, in anticipation of the movie, which will be in theaters on November 10th. I had a delightful time talking to him and happily share this interview with you this week. For the record, I still hear the bell.

At Bouchercon in Toronto last week I attended a reading and Q&A by S.J. Rozan that was one of the best segments of the conference. Rozan is articulate and wise. This week we share an interview with her where she tackles many of the same subjects we chatted about last week. Enjoy. We also have advance reader feedback about her book --- ABSENT FRIENDS.

We also have an interview with Stephen R. Donaldson and advance reader comments about his work. We have a new reviewer handling the fantasy genre, Cindy Lynn Speer. We look forward to sharing more reviews from her in the weeks and months ahead.

Have a great week. Hope the leaves look pretty wherever you are. The palette this time of year really is lovely.

--- Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks To Stephen R. Donaldson, author of THE RUNES OF THE EARTH's contributing writer Cindy Lynn Speer interviewed Stephen R. Donaldson, author of six previous books in "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" series and THE RUNES OF THE EARTH, the first of four new "Covenant" novels. Donaldson talks about his decision to return to the world of Thomas Covenant following a 21-year hiatus, the current state of the fantasy genre, and the strong influence that his childhood in India had on his writing abilities.

THE RUNES OF THE EARTH by Stephen R. Donaldson (Fantasy)
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Stephen R. Donaldson, author of six previous books in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, returns with the first of four new Covenant novels. Linden Avery returns to the Land in search of her missing son, and finds that Lord Foul is once again weaving his evil schemes.

Read the interview with Stephen R. Donaldson and THE RUNES OF THE EARTH here. Talks to S.J. Rozan, Author of ABSENT FRIENDS's Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub and Wiley Saichek interviewed Edgar Award winner S.J. Rozan, whose latest thriller ABSENT FRIENDS is set in New York following the horrific events of September 11, 2001. Rozan talks about the impact that 9/11 had on her career as a fiction writer, some of the characters who populate the novel, and what readers can expect from her in the future.

Read our interview with S.J. Rozan, author of ABSENT FRIENDS here. Talks to Chris Van Allsburg, Author of THE POLAR EXPRESS

According to author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, his Caldecott Medal-winning picture book THE POLAR EXPRESS originated with the image of a train standing alone in the woods. He then asked himself, What if a boy gets on the train? What does he do, and where does he go? From there, ideas of Christmas, Santa Claus and faith began to take shape. Founder Carol Fitzgerald talks to Allsburg about this cherished holiday classic and his thoughts on the film adaptation, which will be released on November 10th.

See our link to the website for this film as well.

Click here to read our interview with Chris Van Allsburg, Author of THE POLAR EXPRESS.
Author Talk: Geralyn Lucas, Author of WHY I WORE LIPSTICK (To My Mastectomy)

In this interview Geralyn Lucas, author of WHY I WORE LIPSTICK, discusses her inspiration for writing this empowering memoir about her experience with breast cancer, the book's underlying theme of self-acceptance, and the significance of the title.

More About the Book:
A soulful, surprising coming of age journey by a dynamo who used her own adversity as a platform for examining issues all young women face.

Having finished journalism school and landed her dream job at age 27, the last thing Geralyn Lucas expects to hear is a breast cancer diagnosis. She decides to go public with her disease despite fears about the backlash at work, and her bold choices in treatment are irreverent and uplifting.

What could have been a huge negative for this young cancer survivor became the impetus to examine her own sexuality and burgeoning womanhood. Virtually nothing has been written for women of a young age who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. This book also deals with the broader issue of self-acceptance that anyone grappling with questions of illness, self-image and sexuality can identify with.

For more about this book, go to

Click here to read an interview with Geralyn Lucas and an excerpt of WHY I WORE LIPSTICK (To My Mastectomy)
Read more about AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL here. Read more about THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON here.
Don't Miss: Two Pop-up Books You Don't Want to Miss

Robert Sabuda is one of the most innovative and inventive creators of children's books today. ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ were all New York Times bestsellers. His latest pop-up creation is AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL, and his interpretation of this treasured anthem is dazzling. Each of the seven spreads brings to life some of the most famous images of America --- including the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore, the Capitol, and of course, the Statue of Liberty. Sabuda's award-winning trademark white pop-ups against colorful backgrounds make this latest book a must-have for all Americans.

Stephen King has written more than forty books, all of which are worldwide bestsellers. Now his award-winning 1999 novel, THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON, is being re-told in a stunning pop-up book, King's first.

Read more about our Don't Miss titles here.
Read the reviews and features here. Read the reviews and features here. Read the reviews and features here.
This Week's Book Reviews and Features

DOUBLE HOMICIDE by Jonathan & Faye Kellerman (Suspense)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
For the first time ever, bestselling novelists Jonathan Kellerman and Faye Kellerman team up to deliver the launch book in a thrilling new series of short crime novels. Each book contains two novellas jointly written by the duo, featuring different detectives solving crimes in different cities.

LIGHT ON SNOW by Anita Shreve (Fiction)
Reviewed by Kathy Weissman
A family cut in half by tragedy. A remote farmhouse in a fierce New England winter. And a 12-year-old girl you'd like to adopt on the spot. Let it snow! This terrific new novel from Anita Shreve will keep you warm.

SACRED STONE: A Novel from The Oregon Files by Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Clive Cussler's second book in The Oregon Files is an absorbing and riveting work, featuring the enigmatic captain of The Oregon, Juan Cabrillo. In the remote wastes of Greenland, an ancient artifact possessing catastrophic radioactive power is unearthed --- but the astounding find puts the world at risk.

GREEN RIVER, RUNNING RED by Ann Rule (True Crime)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
America's master of true crime has spent more than two decades researching the story of the Green River Killer, who murdered more than forty-nine young women. Ann Rule presents a harrowing account of this madman and the story of his victims, and who they might have become.

THE DOUBLE by Jose Saramago (Fiction)
Reviewed by Kate Ayers
What would you do if you saw your face --- your exact image --- staring out at you from a video you had rented? A history teacher faces that dilemma and sets out to find this double, setting in motion much more than a mere search born of innocent curiosity.

ABOUT GRACE by Anthony Doerr (Fiction)
Reviewed by Jamie Layton
This beautiful story by first-time novelist Anthony Doerr is about many subjects. Love. Loss. Denial. But most of all, it is a book about parental --- in this particular case, fatherly --- love.

THE COAL TATTOO by Silas House (Fiction)
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton
Populated by characters from Silas House's previous books, CLAY'S QUILT and A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES, this new novel is the story of two sisters and their lives in the mountains of Kentucky.

THE LAST DUEL: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France, by Eric Jager (History)
Reviewed by Shannon McKenna
With a historian's eye for detail and a storyteller's flair for spinning a dramatic narrative, Eric Jager recreates the circumstances surrounding the last legally sanctioned trial by combat in France.

BENEATH A MARBLE SKY: A Novel of the Taj Mahal by John Shors (Fiction)
Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds
In 1632, the Emperor of Hindustan, overwhelmed with grief over the death of his beloved wife, commissioned the building of a grand mausoleum to symbolize the greatness of their love. Eldest daughter Princess Jahanara recounts this story and her own as well, a parallel tale of forbidden love enduring censure and extreme deprivations.

BRINGING TUSCANY HOME by Frances Mayes, with Edward Mayes (Travel/Essays)
Reviewed by Pauline Finch
Home is more than where the heart is, more than what the eye first takes in. It's the timeless container of human souls, where rooms must first have an embracing feeling before they assert genuine style.

OLD SCHOOL by Tobias Wolff (Fiction)
Reviewed by Sean Doorly
Determined to fit in at his New England prep school, a young boy tries to conceal as much as possible about himself. His final year, however, unravels everything he has achieved, and steers his destiny in directions no one could have predicted.

Read the reviews and features here.
Poll: Reading Before Sleep

Do you read before you go to sleep at night?

All of the time
Some of the time

Answer the Poll here.
Browse through forthcoming books here. Read about books that have won awards here. Sign up for Author Newsletters here.
Question of the Week: What Book Kept You Up At Night?

Name the last book that kept you up reading a lot longer than you planned.

Our next question update will be on October 29th.

Answer the Question of the Week.
Read more about THE HOUR GAME by David Baldacci here. Read more about MAGICAL THINKING here. Read more about VIRTUES OF WAR here.
Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading -- THREE Prizes!

Tell us what books YOU are reading and loving --- or even those you don't.

This week we have some great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of THE HOUR GAME by David Baldacci, MAGICAL THINKING by Augusten Burroughs, VIRTUES OF WAR by Steven Pressfield.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on October 29th.

Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.

As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online (see the link on the upper right) or change your preferences below.

Those of you who wish to send mail to, please see the form on the Write to Us page. We were forced to move to this format after we were inundated with SPAM at the other address. If you would like to reach me, please write Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Quick observation --- we have noticed that many of you have been changing your Internet providers in the past month. If you do, please be sure to "take us along" by signing up for the newsletter in your new name!

Happy reading! Don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend or to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

--- Carol Fitzgerald (

The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107