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May 19, 2006 Newsletter

May 19, 2006

This Week on

Dispatches From Book Expo America Talks to Joseph Finder, Author of KILLER INSTINCT Talks to Lee Child, Author of THE HARD WAY

Our Summer Beach Bag Contest is Back! Spotlight This Week on WHEN LIGHT BREAKS by Patti Callahan Henry

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author --- Gayle Lynds, Author of THE LAST SPYMASTER

New Featured One to Watch Author --- Sy Montgomery, Author of THE GOOD GOOD PIG

New Featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author: Daniel Judson, Author of THE DARKEST PLACE

New Featured Chick Lit Author --- Meg Cabot, Author of QUEEN OF BABBLE

What's New on

Regional Bestseller Lists

This Week's Reviews and Features Blog

Poll: Book Buying
Question of the Week: Book Browsing
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
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

Dispatches From Book Expo America


I am writing tonight from Washington, D.C. where I am in town for Book Expo America, the annual book trade show. It's a whirlwind weekend of books and authors. I will share more about this next week.

Last night I saw a preview of the movie, The Da Vinci Code. I liked the movie, but I did not love it. It's slow...very times. It feels long and I did steal looks at my watch more than once, which is an unfailing judgment of a movie not holding my attention. It ends four times and I would have picked one of them over the others. The casting, except for Silas, felt wrong. But then to me Brown's characters were wooden (the book was all plot) and thus they were hard to animate. That said, I enjoyed reliving the book and seeing it interpreted. And there were three parts where the audience screamed. It's been a long time since I had that happen --- and I jumped ALL three times. Considering what Hollywood has been turning out recently, it's not the all-out pan that the press has been giving it all week. My vote: DVC fans, check it out.  

We have two good interviews to share with you this week. First is from Joseph Finder whose new book, KILLER INSTINCT, hit stores this week. My one comment: You will look at plasma TVs in a whole new way after you read this one. We've been fans of Joe's since PARANOIA and COMPANY MAN so it's fun to share his new one with you. By the way, I am not alone in this --- Joe Hartlaub raves about it in his review.
Lee Child taught me a new word in his interview this week, "twee," when he talks about why each of the titles in his Jack Reacher series --- the new one is THE HARD WAY --- can be read alone and how he avoids references to one book in another. Here's the word in a sentence (remember that from school?): "Personally I don't like references from one book to another --- they strike me as too twee. So I made my mind up to avoid them. It makes the series accessible --- THE HARD WAY is as good a place to start as any --- and it fits with Reacher's personality: he likes to look forward, not back." Read on for more from Child.

We also kick off our Summer Beach Bag Contest for 2006 this week. I love this feature! We have fifteen titles that have been selected as great summer reading picks. You can read the lineup here this week to start planning your summer reading. For those of you who do not remember how this feature works, here's the scoop: each week from now until August 25th we will profile a title and give away five beach bags with that book and assorted beach-worthy items that tie in to its theme. We also will give away five books. We kick off with WHEN LIGHT BREAKS by Patti Callahan Henry.
I have been having a blast shopping for the items for these beach bags. We have a room at the house that is stocked with towels, beach bags and a whole host of fun items, so be sure to check back each week and enter this contest.
Also this week, Kelley Armstrong answers ARC Readers' Questions about BROKEN. Next week we kick off our Father's Day promotion. Yes, it's time to think about dad!

This week we add Regional Bestseller lists from the eight regional trade associations around the country. This will give you an opportunity to look at what's selling at the independent booksellers in your neck of the woods.

Looking forward to seeing the final episode of "24" on Monday night. The way my sons see it, now maybe Jack Bauer gets to take a shower.
Now off to more bookish events. Have a great week.  

Carol Fitzgerald (

List of titles reviewed and featured on May 19th.

List of titles reviewed and featured on May 12th. Talks to Joseph Finder, Author of KILLER INSTINCT

Joseph Finder, the New York Times bestselling author of such stand-alone thrillers as PARANOIA and COMPANY MAN, recently spoke with's Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub and Wiley Saichek. In this interview, Finder discusses the real-life inspirations behind the characters in his latest thriller, KILLER INSTINCT, and explains why he chose to set them in the world of consumer electronics. He also describes the intensive research required for each of his novels, gives details on a pending big-screen adaptation of PARANOIA, and shares his thoughts on the possibility of writing a series.

KILLER INSTINCT by Joseph Finder (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Jason Steadman's life is turned upside down when he meets Kurt Semko, a former Special Forces officer just back from Iraq. Soon after getting Semko a job at the electronics company for which he works, Steadman begins having a run of good luck while bad things keep happening to his competitors. It turns out that Steadman's new best friend has become the most dangerous enemy imaginable.

-Click here to read an excerpt from KILLER INSTINCT.
-Click here to visit Joseph Finder's website.

Click here to read our interview with Joseph Finder and a review of KILLER INSTINCT. Talks to Lee Child, Author of THE HARD WAY's Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Team (Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub and Wiley Saichek) interviewed Lee Child about the recently completed 10th installment in his Jack Reacher thriller series, THE HARD WAY. Child discusses why he chose the novel's New York setting and explains just how much he and his protagonist have in common. He also describes the process behind Reacher's professional hits and misses, and details the challenges of writing a long-running series.

THE HARD WAY by Lee Child (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
In Lee Child's astonishing new thriller, ex-military cop Jack Reacher sees more than most people would...and because of that, he's thrust into an explosive situation that's about to blow up in his face. For the only way to find the truth --- and save two innocent lives --- is to do it the way Reacher does it best: the hard way.

Click here to read our interview with Lee Child and a review of THE HARD WAY.


Our Summer Beach Bag Contest is Back! Spotlight This Week on WHEN LIGHT BREAKS by Patti Callahan Henry

Whether your "beach" is on sand, your backyard deck or a grassy meadow in the country, the summer months mean it's time for "beach reading." is celebrating the lazy days of summer reading with our Second Annual " Beach Bag of Books."

Every week from May 19th through August 25th a different title in the Beach Bag of Books promotion will be featured with a review and contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with that book, plus summertime essentials that tie in to its theme. Five FABULOUS beach bags will be given away each week, as well as five copies of the book to additional winners.

Our first spotlighted title is WHEN LIGHT BREAKS by Patti Callahan Henry, a book as atmospheric, lush and haunting as the South Carolina Lowcountry. Our WHEN LIGHT BREAKS Beach Bag Prize features items that the characters of the novel would love. In an oversized blue and green drawstring tote, winners will find a multi-colored beach towel, two brightly-colored, oversized latte mugs for your morning pick-me-up, a fun Ping pink baseball hat that plays to the book's golf theme, a decorated silk journal and matching glasses case, a silver bookmark adorned with the Claddagh symbol and a soothing, ever-so-indulgent skincare travel set from H2O+ --- and a copy of the book. We have five to give away, as well as five additional prizes of copies of WHEN LIGHT BREAKS. To enter to win answer the question below:

Where does Kara's father get his suits tailored?

You can find the answer by reading an excerpt here:

WHEN LIGHT BREAKS by Patti Callahan Henry (Fiction)
Reviewed by Shannon McKenna
Though bogged down in the stress of planning her elaborate wedding to a professional golfer, 27-year-old Kara Larson still makes time to visit 96-year-old Maeve Mahoney at her nursing home. And as Maeve recounts the rambling story of her first love back in Ireland, Kara is driven to remember her own first love: childhood neighbor Jack Sullivan.

Read more about WHEN LIGHT BREAKS and Patti Callahan Henry here.

Click here to read all the details of our Summer Beach Bag Contest.


New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author --- Gayle Lynds, Author of THE LAST SPYMASTER

Gayle Lynds, the New York Times bestselling author of THE COIL, MASQUERADE, MOSAIC and MESMERIZED, is our newest featured Suspense/Thriller author. Her latest tale of intrigue and espionage is THE LAST SPYMASTER, which hits shelves May 30th and re-establishes her title of "The Queen of the International Spy Thriller."

-Click here to see our Advance Copy Winners.
-Click here to read a new excerpt from THE LAST SPYMASTER.
-Click here to read Gayle Lynds's Backlist.
-Click here to read Fast Facts about Gayle Lynds.
-Click here to read praise for Gayle Lynds.

Charles "Jay" Tice was a spy's spy. The chief of the CIA's elite Clandestine Services, he was a legend throughout the world of international intelligence. But secretly he was also a traitor, reputedly selling information that will seriously compromise the security of the United States for decades to come. Since his treachery was exposed, Tice has been kept under strict surveillance in a maximum security prison.

Then one morning, his cell is discovered empty. Jay Tice has vanished --- without tripping an alarm or leaving any trace of his passing.

Elaine Cunningham is a hunter --- a CIA operative who specializes in finding people who don't want to be found.  Young, gifted and a maverick, she is assigned to track Tice and bring him to ground before he disappears forever. But as she matches wits in a perilous game with one of the greatest spymasters of all time, she discovers there is far more at stake than an old spy's last run for freedom.

Lurking in the shadows are other hidden players with their own lethal agendas and, from Geneva to Washington, Berlin to New York City, a deadly conspiracy is coalescing. With only a few hours to go, and the future of millions in the balance, she must uncover the truth behind the legend of the last spymaster.

With THE LAST SPYMASTER, New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds has created her masterwork --- a compelling thriller of loyalty, betrayal, and the wheels-within-wheels world of modern espionage. Once again, she proves herself to be one of the most original and exciting writers in the field today.

Click here to read more about Gayle Lynds and THE LAST SPYMASTER.


New Featured One to Watch Author --- Sy Montgomery, Author of THE GOOD GOOD PIG

We are so excited to be spotlighting Sy Montgomery as our newest featured One to Watch Author. Her heartwarming tale THE GOOD GOOD PIG --- which comes out May 30th --- is the unexpectedly sweet and compelling story of a pig named Christopher Hogwood.

-Click here to see our Advance Copy Winners.
-Click here to read a new excerpt from THE GOOD GOOD PIG.
-Click here to read Sy Montgomery's Backlist.
-Click here to read praise for THE GOOD GOOD PIG.

A naturalist who spent months at a time living on her own among wild creatures in remote jungles, Sy Montgomery had always felt more comfortable with animals than with people. So she gladly opened her heart to a sick piglet who had been crowded away from nourishing meals by his stronger siblings. Yet Sy had no inkling that this piglet, later named Christopher Hogwood, would not only survive but flourish --- and she soon found herself engaged with her small-town community in ways she had never dreamed possible. Unexpectedly, Christopher provided this peripatetic traveler with something she had sought all her life: an anchor (eventually weighing 750 pounds) to family and home.

Sy reveals what she and others learned from this generous soul who just so happened to be a pig --- lessons about self-acceptance, the meaning of family, the value of community, and the pleasures of the sweet green Earth. THE GOOD GOOD PIG provides proof that with love, almost anything is possible.

Click here to read more about Sy Montgomery and THE GOOD GOOD PIG.

New Featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author: Daniel Judson, Author of THE DARKEST PLACE

Daniel Judson, whose noirish page-turner THE DARKEST PLACE comes out May 30th, is our newest featured Debut Suspense/Thriller author. With a virtuoso's touch and a diabolical ability to layer suspense, plot, and character study into an engrossing crime novel, Judson makes a name for himself with THE DARKEST PLACE.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE DARKEST PLACE.
-Click here to see our Advance Copy Winners.
-Click here to read Dan Judson's backlist.

From Daniel Judson, Shamus Award winner and emerging master of the modern literary thriller, comes a riveting and accomplished crime novel set in the seedy underside of a celebrated beach town.

During a bone-chilling snap of record cold, a series of enigmatic drowning deaths plays out in a small Hamptons community on Long Island's Shinnecock Bay. Local college professor Deacon Kane, himself recovering from the accidental drowning of his only son years ago --- recovering slowly, with the help of alcohol and an addictive, messy affair with a married woman --- is implicated in the deaths.

As the police and several other interested parties watch his every move, Kane befriends a hypnotically alluring bartender named Colette and quickly continues his brutal downward spiral with little regard for self-preservation. How --- and whether --- Kane is connected to the young men is the question everyone wants the answer to. As it becomes clear that Kane himself may not know the extent of his own involvement, all must admit that something dark and sinister is at work in Southampton.

Click here to read more about Daniel Judson and THE DARKEST PLACE.

New Featured Chick Lit Author --- Meg Cabot, Author of QUEEN OF BABBLE

Meg Cabot, author of the bestselling, critically acclaimed and immensely popular Princess Diaries novels, is our newest featured Chick Lit Author. From this New York Times bestselling writer comes QUEEN OF BABBLE, which comes out May 23rd, the charming and witty story of a lovable blabbermouth who can't seem to stay out of trouble....

-Click here to see our Advance Copy Winners.
-Click here to read a new excerpt from QUEEN OF BABBLE.
-Click here to read Meg Cabot's Backlist.
-Click here to read Fast Facts for Meg Cabot.

What's an American girl with a big mouth but an equally big heart to do?

Lizzie Nichols has a problem, and it isn't that she doesn't have the slightest idea what she's going to do with her life or that she's blowing what should be her down payment on a cute little Manhattan apartment on a trip to London to visit her long-distance boyfriend, Andrew. But what's the point of planning for the future when she's done it again? See, Lizzie can't keep her mouth shut. And it's not just that she can't keep her own secrets, she can't keep anything to herself.

Unless she can figure out a way to use that big mouth of hers to save the day.

Click here to read more about Meg Cabot and QUEEN OF BABBLE.


What's New on

This month's update is one you will not want to miss. Three interviews are currently running on the site, including a Q&A with Lois Lowry and a roundtable discussion with four authors of young adult fiction. In addition to our Cool New Books and New in Paperback roundups, we have reviews of the three novels in the New York Times bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy and updates to our Manga and Christian Fiction review sections. We're also previewing two exciting series features that will be posted in June and running a contest where 20 lucky winners will receive a paperback copy of YA-YAS IN BLOOM.

Click here to visit


Regional Bestseller Lists

We know that readers like to see what other readers are reading --- and what's selling --- around the country. With this in mind we share with you some bestseller lists that we think will be of interest. These include the Book Sense Bestseller List, which reflects the weekly sales of books in hundreds of Independent Booksellers, Library Journal's Most Borrowed List, which lists the most borrowed books from reporting libraries across the country, The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association bestseller list, which highlights bestsellers at mystery stores cross country AND NEW THIS WEEK --- Regional Bestseller Lists from across the country.

Enjoy browsing these lists for reading suggestions and to see where your favorites are showing up! We will be adding more lists in the months to come, so please be sure to bookmark our Bestseller Page.

Click here to visit our Bestsellers page.

This Week's Reviews and Features

BLUE SHOES AND HAPPINESS by Alexander McCall Smith (Mystery)
Reviewed by Belinda Williams
A cobra in Precious Ramotswe's office. Faulty blood-pressure readings at a local medical clinic. A new advice columnist whom Mma Ramotswe is not too crazy about. All this means a lot of work for Precious and her assistant, Grace Makutsi. They're up to the challenge, but there's trouble brewing in Mma Makutsi's own life.

-Click here to read an excerpt from BLUE SHOES AND HAPPINESS.

DIGGING TO AMERICA by Anne Tyler (Fiction)
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman
In Anne Tyler's 17th novel, a warm and moving work of literature, two couples meet by chance at an airport while awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate with an "arrival party," an event that is repeated every year as the two families become more deeply intertwined.

A DEATH IN BELMONT by Sebastian Junger (True Crime)
Reviewed by Robert Finn
Sebastian Junger brings the same sharp journalistic eye to the "Boston Strangler" murders of the early 1960s that distinguished his compelling sea saga THE PERFECT STORM in 1997. The Strangler murders were once considered solved when handyman-drifter-criminal Albert DeSalvo confessed to them in 1965. But as Junger demonstrates in impressive detail, no one will ever know for sure.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS by Augusten Burroughs (Nonfiction/Essays)
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
In his second collection of personal essays (following the 2004 publication of MAGICAL THINKING), Augusten Burroughs covers a variety of topics --- from doll collectors to childhood dreams, from dating to dentistry --- all with his trademark honesty and heartbreaking humor.

GAME OF SHADOWS: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professionals Sports by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams (Current Affairs)
Reviewed by Ron Kaplan
Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams tell the complete story of BALCO --- a tiny nutritional supplement company that according to sworn testimony was supplying star athletes with banned drugs --- and the investigation that has shaken the foundations of the sporting world. And at the center of this scandal is Barry Bonds, who's threatening Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.

THE RABBIT FACTORY by Marshall Karp (Mystery)
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
Debut novelist Marshall Karp brings an insider's satirical eye and a rare knack for dialogue to THE RABBIT FACTORY, a stellar thriller that marks the introduction of Detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs, and offers equal parts hilarity, pathos and suspense.

MAD MOUSE: A John Ceepak Mystery by Chris Grabenstein (Mystery)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Part-time summer police officer Danny Boyle gets taken on a wild ride when he and his longtime beach buddies become the unwitting targets of a madman's twisted scheme for revenge. Fortunately, John Ceepak, the cop with a soldier's unshakeable code of honor, stays at Danny's side to help him negotiate the quick twists and turns that threaten to destroy his world.

CASTING WITH A FRAGILE THREAD: A Story of Sisters and Africa by Wendy Kann (Memoir)
Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott
Wendy Kann thought she had put her volatile childhood in colonial Rhodesia --- now Zimbabwe --- behind her. Then one Sunday morning came a terrible phone call: her youngest sister, Lauren, had been killed. Suddenly unable to ignore her longing for her homeland, she decides she must confront the ghosts of her past.

LET ME FINISH by Roger Angell (Memoir)
Reviewed by Alexis Burling
Roger Angell has developed a broad and devoted following through his writings in the New Yorker and as the leading baseball writer of our time. He turns to more personal matters in this collection of short vignettes, which overflows with remembrances of past events, familial anecdotes, New Yorker insides and general day-to-day musings.

THE MEDICI CONSPIRACY by Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini (Art/History)
Reviewed by Colleen Quinn
The looting of illegal antiquities is a widespread menace. Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini illustrate this appalling practice through the case of Giacomo Medici, whose systematic pillaging of Greek and Italian antiquities has devastated the field of archeology and robbed these countries of their heritage.

Click here to read our reviews and features. Blog

May 5th Entries:
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books - Part 1 - Getting There, The Mystery Bookstore and the Book Prizes
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books - Part 2 - Saturday's Panels and The Rockbottom Remainders
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books - Part 3 - Sundays Panels and The Redeye

May 4th Entry:
Mysterious Doings

Note: You can read past blogs here as well.
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Read a list of upcoming books here. Browse our author bibliographies by clicking here. Sign up for Author Newsletters here.
Poll: Book Buying
Thinking of the last book you purchased, where did you buy it?
Chain Store (Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc)
Big Box Store (Costco, BJ's, Sam's Club, etc)
Independent Bookseller
Other online bookseller
Used book store
I do not buy books.
Other  (Please specify) 
Answer the Poll here.

Question of the Week: Book Browsing

Question: Tell us about your favorite place to shop for books.

Please note our Question of the Week will update May 26th.

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 two great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of AT RISK by Patricia Cornwell and KILLER INSTINCT by Joseph Finder

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on May 26th.


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.  If you would like to reach me, please write Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by May 31st, 2006 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: AT RISK by Patricia Cornwell, CAGE OF STARS by Jacquelyn Mitchard, KILLER INSTINCT by Joseph Finder, THE MAN OF MY DREAMS by Curtis Sittenfeld and POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: True Stories by Augusten Burroughs. Last month's winner was Barbara from Albuquerque, NM who won BLUE SHOES AND HAPPINESS by Alexander McCall Smith, MY LATEST GRIEVANCE by Elinor Lipman, SAVANNAH BREEZE by Mary Kay Andrews, VANISHED by Karen Robards and WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE by Elizabeth Berg.

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