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October 7, 2005 Newsletter

October 7, 2005

This Week on

Memoirs and Short Stories Talks to Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler, Editors of WOMEN'S LETTERS

Author Talk: Nathaniel Fick, Author of ONE BULLET AWAY

Author Talk: Robert Hicks, Author of THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH


THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael Connelly

Our Newest Suspense/Thriller Author: David Morrell, Author of CREEPERS

Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight: Greg Rucka, Author of PRIVATE WARS

Our Newest One to Watch Author: Brian Strause, Author of MAYBE A MIRACLE

What's New on

This Week's Reviews and Features Blog

Poll: Reading Memoirs
Question of the Week: If You Wrote a Memoir....
Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading -- TWO Prizes!
Quick Links to Features On The Book Report Network
Past Reviews
Can't See the Graphics? Read This Newsletter Online
Past Question of the Week: Right now what book are you most looking forward to reading?
Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Promotion
Debut Suspense/Thriller One to Watch Promotion
Mystery Mayhem Promotion

Fantasy Author Spotlight Promotion

One to Watch Promotion
Chick Lit Promotion
Summer Beach Bag Promotion

Memoirs and Short Stories

In the office we talk about food --- a lot. There's a healthy respect for the time and care that goes into creating a memorable meal. A couple of weeks ago Sunil Kumar, our producer, and I celebrated a particularly dizzying month of work with lunch at Le Bernardin. Sunil is a trained cook so as we were enjoying the flavors of each dish, we also were studying the presentation. It was great fun seeing the meal through his eyes.
I love hearing behind-the-scenes stories about what happens in kitchens, which is why I have been enjoying DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Cooks and Chefs, a collection of forty pieces from chefs around the world that is edited by Kimberly Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman, which is just out this week. Renowned names like Daniel Boulud, Pino Luongo and Mario Batali share tales of meals and events where all did not go as planned. Anthony Bourdain writes of a New Year's Eve disaster, which would keep one sleepless for days. The stories provide perfect reading while dinner is in the oven or simmering on the stove!
I also have been enjoying a collection of short stories that I discovered while I was at the Southeastern Booksellers Conference called AMERICAN DREAMING AND OTHER STORIES by Doris Iarovici. I normally am not a fan of short stories, but these read so well that I find myself devouring them. Each of the seven stories is a glimpse into everyday American life; there are no huge heroes, but rather pieces that examine human nature and all its fragilities. They have me thinking I want to explore more of these titles.
While my personal reading theme this week is short stories, our update this week is loaded with memoirs, most of which I have read. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion (reviewed by Tom Callahan) and WHAT REMAINS by Carole Radziwill (reviewed by Carole Turner) both focus on the loss of loved ones. In ONE BULLET AWAY (reviewed by Joe Hartlaub), Nathaniel Fick writes an unflinching account of war from the eyes of a young marine. In SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL, Christopher Kennedy Lawford looks at much of the sadder side of being a Kennedy (reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott) and JULIE & JULIA by Julie Powell (reviewed by Lourdes Orive) says it all in the subtitle: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. 
These memoirs inspired our poll and question this week ---"Do you like to read memoirs?" and "What would your memoir be about?"
It looks soggy on most of the East Coast this weekend! Looking for a fun movie based on a book for the weekend? Look no further than In Her Shoes. I had lunch a while back with Jennifer Weiner and she told great tales about being on the set when the movie was being shot.
Have a great week....looks like Little League baseball as well as the Yankees are going to be rained out. I am on a mission to try to get my bookshelves back into shape. Right now there are piles of books everywhere. Maybe this is the time to get that done. 

List of titles reviewed and featured on October 7th

List of titles reviewed and featured on September 30th

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler, Editors of WOMEN'S LETTERS's Carol Fitzgerald and Jennifer Krieger interviewed Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler about their latest collaboration, WOMEN'S LETTERS --- a compilation of correspondence by American women during the Revolutionary War, the present day, and every era in between. Grunwald and Adler discuss the surprising revelations about women they experienced through the research and assemblage of this collection, as well as the disparate perspectives these letters provide on major historical events. They also share their thoughts on how the act of writing functions in day-to-day life and what the letters come to represent about society as a whole.

WOMEN'S LETTERS: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present edited by Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler (Literary Criticism & Collections)
Reviewed by Jennifer Krieger
With more than 400 letters and over 100 stunning photographs, Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler's "anti-textbook" is a work of astonishing breadth and scope, and a remarkable testament to the women who lived --- and made --- history.

Click here to read our interview with Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler and a review of WOMEN'S LETTERS.


Author Talk: Nathaniel Fick, Author of ONE BULLET AWAY

Nathaniel Fick, a Recon Marine Lieutenant who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, chronicles the ordeals of battle in a memoir titled ONE BULLET AWAY: The Making of a Marine Officer. In this interview, Fick discusses his journey from studying classics at Dartmouth to leading a platoon in one of the most dangerous military conflicts since Vietnam. He also explains how his experiences in the Armed Forces have positively impacted his civilian life, and shares his opinions on controversial topics in today's media, such as the possibility of a draft and the military's equipment supply (or lack thereof).

-Click here to visit Nathaniel Fick's website.
-Click here to read an excerpt from ONE BULLET AWAY.

ONE BULLET AWAY: The Making of a Marine Officer, by Nathaniel Fick (Memoir)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Nathaniel Fick, a former captain in the Marines First Recon Battalion, offers an unflinching account of his recruitment, advancement, and service on the fronts of Afghanistan and Iraq, giving the reader an up-close and personal view of what it is like to be a soldier.

Click here to read an interview with Nathaniel Fick and our review of ONE BULLET AWAY.


Author Talk: Robert Hicks, Author of THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH

In this interview Robert Hicks, author of the Civil War novel THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH, discusses how he first became interested in Carrie McGavock's story, and the personal motivation behind her actions as a grieving mother. He also explains his initial idea of approaching a major past event from the perspective of a small group of ordinary people, and details his hands-on involvement in the preservation of the Carnton Plantation as a historical memorial.

THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH by Robert Hicks (Historical Fiction)
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad
Based on a true story, Richard Hicks's first historical novel centers on Carrie McGavock, whose plantation was taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a hospital before the Battle of Franklin, TN, in November 1864. The tragedy that ensued turned McGavock into "the widow of the South" and changed her life forever.

-Read an excerpt from THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH here.
-See our reading group guide for THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH here.


Click here to read an interview with Robert Hicks and our review of THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH.


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Reviewed by Tom Callahan
On December 30, 2003, Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne returned home from the hospital where their only daughter lay in a coma, suffering from severe pneumonia and septic shock. While sitting down to dinner, Dunne had a massive heart attack and passed away. This powerful memoir is Didion's attempt to make sense of the "weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness...about marriage and children and memory...about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."

Click here to read our review of THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING.

THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael Connelly

THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael Connelly (Legal Thriller)
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum
Michael Connelly, in a departure from his Harry Bosch police procedurals, introduces Michael Haller, a harried defense attorney. On his first outing he represents a young man accused of attempted rape and assault. A tightly written plot moves this debut into the fast lane.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE LINCOLN LAWYER.

Click here to read a review of THE LINCOLN LAWYER.

Our Newest Suspense/Thriller Author: David Morrell, Author of CREEPERS

New York Times bestselling author David Morrell, who has written FIRST BLOOD, THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE, THE FIFTH PROFESSION and EXTREME DENIAL, is our newest featured Suspense/Thriller author. CREEPERS, Morrell's new thriller, hit bookshelves on September 6th and is sending chills down the spine of Morrell's longtime fans and new readers alike with its dark storyline.

-See our Advanced Copy Winners here.
-Read Fast Facts about David Morrell here.

-Read an essay by David Morrell about exploring abandoned buildings here.
-Learn more about David Morrell by visiting his website at
-Visit CREEPERS online at
-Read David Morrell's thoughts on writing CREEPERS in real time here.
-Click here to play the "Be A Creeper" Game for a chance to win some chilling prizes.

Read more about CREEPERS here:
On a cold October night, five people gather in a run-down motel on the Jersey shore and begin preparations to break into The Paragon Hotel.  Built in the glory days of Asbury Park by a reclusive millionaire, the magnificent structure, which foreshadowed the beauties of Art Deco architecture, is now boarded-up and marked for demolition.

The five people are "creepers," the slang term for urban explorers: city archeologists with a passion for investigating abandoned buildings and their dying secrets.  CREEPERS, David Morrell's gripping joy-ride of a thriller, depicts every harrowing second in eight hours of relentless suspense. It will haunt readers for many nights to come.

Click here to read more about David Morrell and CREEPERS.


Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight: Greg Rucka, Author of PRIVATE WARS






Greg Rucka, author of A GENTLEMAN'S GAME, A FISTFUL OF RAIN and the QUEEN & COUNTRY graphic novel series, has been making a name for himself in both the suspense and graphic novel genres for several years. His newest title PRIVATE WARS hits bookshelves October 25th, reuniting readers with the edgy, explosive and sexy spy Tara Chace.

New This Week:
-Read an excerpt from PRIVATE WARS here.

Previous Weeks:
-See our Advanced Copy Winners here.
-Read Fast Facts about Greg Rucka here.
-Read Greg Rucka's bibliography here.

Read more about PRIVATE WARS here:
Tara Chace was once the most dangerous woman alive. And now that the international spy network thinks she's as good as dead, she's even more dangerous than ever.

Combine a thriller that defies every expectation with a heroine for whom nothing is out of bounds, and the result is PRIVATE WARS, a suspense novel so explosively realistic, it should be classified. 

Click here to read more about Greg Rucka and PRIVATE WARS. 


Our Newest One to Watch Author: Brian Strause, Author of MAYBE A MIRACLE

Our newest One to Watch author is Brian Strause, whose debut novel MAYBE A MIRACLE hits bookshelves on Tuesday. Strause writes his protagonist, Monroe Anderson, in a voice filled with wit and honesty. Quickly readers are drawn into the story and from there they cannot stop reading.

-Read a new excerpt from MAYBE A MIRACLE here.
-Read critical praise for Brian Strause here.

Read more about MAYBE A MIRACLE here:
In this disarming debut, Brian Strause has written a vastly entertaining novel about an American family transfixed by a series of mysterious events. On the night of his senior prom, Monroe Anderson finds his eleven-year-old sister, Annika, floating facedown in the family pool. He dives in and rescues her, but not quickly enough to prevent her from slipping into a coma. As the family copes with this crisis, Monroe's mother turns to religion, his father turns to liquor, and Monroe himself must decide what's worth believing in, what's worth fighting for, and, finally, who he wants to be.

By turns humorous and heartbreaking, personal and sweeping, familiar and extraordinary, Brian Strause's mesmerizing novel takes readers on an unforgettable emotional journey into America's heartland.

Click here to read more about Brian Strause and MAYBE A MIRACLE.


What's New on, The Book Report Network's website for Christian readers, has been updated. Our features include interviews with bestselling authors Angela Thomas and Sharon Ewell Foster, who each responded to the Faithful Fifteen, a list of questions developed to give readers insight into Christian authors --- and what they write. We also have added 21 new reviews in three different categories: Fiction, Christian Living, and Marriage & Family Life.

Click here to visit


This Week's Reviews and Features

13 STEPS DOWN by Ruth Rendell (Psychological Suspense)
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum
In her newest thriller, Ruth Rendell tells the story of an unstable young man who is obsessed with a model and a serial killer who did his deeds more than 50 years ago. The rich, complex plot is artfully woven and is propelled by the shifting narratives, which wind their way to an explosive conclusion.

JULIE & JULIA: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell (Memoir)
Reviewed by Lourdes Orive
Julie Powell lives in a rundown apartment in Queens and works at a secretarial job that's going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life, and she invents a rather unique assignment. She will take her mother's dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING, and she will cook all 524 recipes. In the span of one year.

THE THIRD BROTHER by Nick McDonell (Fiction)
Reviewed by Jennifer Krieger
Mike is a journalist interning in Hong Kong when his editor gives him an assignment: find Christopher Dorr, a brilliant journalist who has gone missing. So begins a propulsive journey that will take a young man headlong through fast nights in Thailand, into the grip of family tragedy, and into the heart of September 11, 2001.

THE COLORADO KID by Stephen King (Mystery)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues, and it's more than a year before the victim is identified. And that's just the beginning of the mystery.

WHAT REMAINS: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill (Memoir)
Reviewed by Carole Turner
Award-winning journalist Carole Radziwill married a real prince, one of a long line of Polish royals and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy. Their all-too-brief marriage is a tragic, modern-day fairy tale beautifully retold by this courageous young woman.

SON OF A WITCH by Gregory Maguire (Fiction)
Reviewed by Kate Ayers
Ten years after the publication of WICKED, Gregory Maguire returns at last to the land of Oz. Following the demise of the Wicked Witch of the West, a young man whom some say is her son begins a journey to the Emerald City with Dorothy and the Scarecrow, encountering many hurdles --- good and bad --- along the way.

SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption by Christopher Kennedy Lawford (Memoir)
Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott
Born into enormous privilege as well as burdened by gut-wrenching family tragedy, Christopher Kennedy Lawford now shares his life story, offering a rare glimpse into the private worlds of the rich and famous of both Washington politics and the Hollywood elite.

THE DARWIN CONSPIRACY by John Darnton (Historical Thriller)
Reviewed by Kathy Weissman
The celebrated author of THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES was haunted by chronic illness, volatile moods, and --- but this is pure speculation --- guilty secrets that might compromise his sole claim to having pioneered the theory of evolution. POSSESSION meets THE DA VINCI CODE in this historical detective story by a New York Times journalist.

THE SUNFLOWER by Richard Paul Evans (Fiction/Romance)
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton
Just a week before their marriage, Christine's fiance calls off the wedding, leaving her heartbroken. With hopes of helping her through a difficult time, Christine's best friend enrolls them both on a humanitarian mission in Peru, where they will work at an orphanage --- and meet men in the process.

FEVER by Sean Rowe (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
It appears that Matt "Loose Cannon" Shannon, an ex-FBI agent turned security chief for the world's largest cruise line, has sunk a freighter in Miami's shipping lane. But this is all a setup, courtesy of his own stepbrother, who is eyeing a cruise ship job that could make enough money to last their lifetimes.

CONFESSIONS OF A SUPER MOM by Melanie Lynne Hauser (Fiction)
Reviewed by Jill McAfee
Birdie Lee is a clerk at Marvel Fine Food and Beverages and an average, middle-aged single mother of two teenagers. Until one morning when her inability to remove a stain on her bathroom floor results in Birdie becoming endowed with extraordinary powers.

Click here to read our reviews and features. Blog

September 9th Entry:
Carol's Vacation Reading --- My Report
Happy Anniversary,
Why I Loathe...Abhor and Out-and-Out Hate Required Summer Reading For Kids
Note: You can read past blogs here as well.
Sign up here to get notified each time this blog is updated.
Click here to read the blog.
Read a list of upcoming books here. Browse our author bibliographies by clicking here. Sign up for Author Newsletters here.
Poll: Reading Memoirs
Do you like to read memoirs?
Not sure

What kind of memoirs do you like to read? (Check as many as apply.)
Renowned political figures
War experiences
Travel Stories
Spiritual Awakening
I do not read memoirs.
Answer the Poll here.

Question of the Week: If You Wrote a Memoir....

If you wrote a memoir, what do you think it would be about?

Please note: Our question of the week will update October 21st.

Answer the Question of the Week here.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading -- TWO 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 A WEDDING IN DECEMBER by Anita Shreve and CONSENT TO KILL by Vince Flynn.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on October 21st. 

Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.


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--- Carol Fitzgerald (

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