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December 19, 2008 Newsletter

December 19, 2008

This Week on

Happy Holidays

Best Books of 2008: Staff and Reviewer Picks

Author Interviews of 2008

Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on --- Enter to Win Our Special End-of-the-Year Celebration, Featuring 13 Bestselling Titles!
New Featured Romantic Suspense Authors: Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Authors of WICKED GAME

Featured One to Watch Author: T. Greenwood, Author of TWO RIVERS

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Kevin O’Brien, Author of FINAL BREATH

Featured Suspense/Thriller Authors: Ted Dekker and Erin Healy, Authors of KISS's What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide's Special Blog --- Authors on the Holidays
New in Paperback for December
Announcing Our NEW Website ---
This Week's Reviews

Poll and Question of the Week: The Year in Review

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- THREE 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

Historical Fiction Promotion

One to Watch Promotion
Books Into Movies
Bestseller Lists
Coming Soon
New in Paperback

Happy Holidays

It is shocking, but I finally have come to accept that there only are so many hours in a day/week/year, and how you divide them up does not mean you have more of them. Thus, while the holiday cards are mailed (truly a feat), the presents are not wrapped, and I truly fear looking at my list twice since I think there is someone I am forgetting. I have been so busy that I am running my life in 24-hour increments focusing on what I need to do in 24 hours and not projecting much beyond that. It seems to be working since I am not experiencing holiday meltdown.

What did grab my focus a lot this week was the launch of, our eighth website. We “took it live” late Wednesday night, and the reaction from readers has been wonderful. Whether you are already a fan of graphic novels --- or if you want to see more of what they are about --- this is going to be a destination to bookmark. We look forward to seeing your reactions and hearing your feedback.

Back here at, the staff and our reviewers have pulled together their favorite books of 2008. Be sure to take a look at what they had to say. Confession: I never participate in this roundup since I have trouble willowing it down to five, and, as a result, I never make their deadline. This year they were kind enough to not even ask me, perhaps another reason I am feeling serenity and not stress. Instead, I have had a lot of fun watching them make and amend their personal lists. I always think you can tell a lot about people by their reading selections. 

Since this is a time of year for recapping, we also invite you to take a moment to reflect with us on all of the authors who we interviewed this year on as you read our Author Interviews of 2008 feature. If you still are pondering holiday gifts, you may want to read the truly inspirational pieces that authors contributed to our Author Holiday Blog. I have been enjoying these each day. Still scrambling to find the perfect gift? Then visit our What to Give/What to Get Holiday Gift Guide, featuring over 100 books and accessories in 13 categories. And if you still don’t think a book is the perfect holiday gift, we direct you to our list of reasons...and if anyone doubts why YOU might want to get a book as a gift, we suggest you send them there as well.

Since we love awarding prizes, don’t forget to enter our final Holiday Basket of Cheer contest, where we are featuring a selection of 13 (!) New York Times bestselling books valued at $300. We have five to give away. The contest is open through Sunday, January 4th, and you can find out more on how to enter here.

Speaking of giving away books, we are launching a new feature for #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson and acclaimed mystery writer Nancy Bush, who teamed up to write WICKED GAME. In this riveting novel of suspense, a decades-old mystery reunites a group of friends with deadly consequences. We have 10 copies of WICKED GAME to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Monday, January 5th.

We’ve updated our New in Paperback feature to include titles for December. Read on for more details since we know these challenging economic times just may demand paperbacks!

Well, this is our last official update of 2008, and we will not be back with a new update until Friday, January 9th, giving the staff a break that they sorely need. I am ruminating a card…we have the design, though I still am playing with the words. If it arrives in your mailboxes next week, you will know the right words ended up in the right places.

I wanted to take a moment to thank our incredible staff, who not only kept up with me this year, but also pushed me to run a bit faster. I am very lucky to work with them. Also, our reviewers deliver week after week --- and I thank them for making their deadlines to be sure we are timely with our reviews for you!

We are off to the Outer Banks on Tuesday for two weeks, where we will be putting up the turquoise and silver tree and decorating the beach house there with blue lights. Stacks of books, skeins of knitting and, oh yeah, the presents are all ready to go. My older son is home from his first semester of college and for the first 24 hours told me he was amazed that he had nothing to do. Since every time he said that I handed him a list, I have not seen him much today. My younger son spent today celebrating the first official snow day of the year, so he already got the best Christmas present of all. At one point he and his friend were lying in the snow like they were at the beach, not even doing the snow angel thing. Just lying there. I decided not to be a mom and say, “Get up, you will get sick.” I WILL pack DayQuil and NyQuil in case he does.

Here’s wishing you all the brightest of holiday seasons. Spend time reflecting on all the good things instead of getting mired down in the news that seems to be swirling around us. The holidays are about a lot more than gifts and material things, and this is a year to really dig deep and ponder that. We at are grateful to you for reading, sharing and making our gig so much fun again this year.

Happy New Year; we’ll see you next year!

Carol Fitzgerald (


Best Books of 2008: Staff and Reviewer Picks

Before ringing in the new year, we at The Book Report Network reflect on some of our favorite books published in 2008. Though it was difficult to narrow down, each staff member chose up to five books that he or she enjoyed the most this year. Take a look and see if any of our selections match yours --- and which titles you may want to consider reading in the future.

-Click here to see our 2008 staff picks.

Recently we asked our reviewers to provide us with a list of some of their favorite books from 2008. Included is a mix of fiction and nonfiction titles, all published this year. Take a moment to read these varied lists of titles and see if you agree with their selections! Please note that, due to personal and professional commitments, some reviewers were not able to participate in this feature.

-Click here to see our 2008 reviewer picks.


Author Interviews of 2008

As 2008 comes to a close, we invite you to take a look at the author interviews that were featured throughout the year on This is a great way to catch up on the discussions you may have missed --- and to re-read what some of your favorite authors had to say about their books.

Click here to see our roundup of 2008 interviews.

Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on --- Enter to Win Our Special End-of-the-Year Celebration, Featuring 13 Bestselling Titles!

The holiday season is upon us! At it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest. While you're searching for the perfect gifts, we want to remind you that books make affordable, personal and wonderful gifts for EVERYONE on your list --- and are a nice way to treat yourself as well!

For the final contest of our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature, we bring you our special End-of-the-Year Celebration. We've gathered together an outstanding collection of 13 books that were published this year --- thrillers, suspense novels, women's fiction and nonfiction titles we love --- as our prize. It's valued at $300, and we will be giving five away!

The selected titles are: THE BOURNE SANCTION by Eric Van Lustbader; THE COMMISSION by Philip Shenon; DEEP DISH by Mary Kay Andrews; FIRST DAUGHTER by Eric Van Lustbader; FIREFLY LANE by Kristin Hannah; THE GATE HOUSE by Nelson DeMille; THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS by Eric Weiner; GUILTY by Karen Robards; HOLLYWOOD CROWS by Joseph Wambaugh; HOW NOT TO LOOK OLD by Charla Krupp; A McKETTRICK CHRISTMAS by Linda Lael Miller; THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY AND THE PERILOUS JOURNEY by Trenton Lee Stewart; and OFF SEASON by Anne Rivers Siddons.

To enter, fill out this form and answer the following question by Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 11:59PM.

Name a book that you think makes an ideal gift. Please note your response does not have to be one of the featured titles in this basket.

See the book descriptions and excerpts here.

Click here to read all the details of our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature.

New Featured Romantic Suspense Authors: Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Authors of WICKED GAME
Lisa Jackson is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 75 novels, including SHIVER and FATAL BURN. In WICKED GAME, Jackson teams up with Nancy Bush --- her sister and acclaimed author of the Jane Kelly mystery series. Together they deliver a suspenseful tale in which a group of old friends find themselves being killed off one by one. WICKED GAME will be in stores on January 27th.

We have 10 copies of WICKED GAME to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Monday, January 5th.

-Click here to read Lisa Jackson’s bio.
-Click here to read Nancy Bush’s bio.
-Visit Lisa Jackson’s official website,
-Visit Nancy Bush’s official website,

More about WICKED GAME:
Twenty years ago, wild-child Jessie Brentwood vanished from St. Elizabeth’s high school. Most in Jessie’s tight circle of friends believed she simply ran away. Few suspected Jessie was hiding a shocking secret --- one that brought her into the crosshairs of a vicious killer. Two decades pass before a body is unearthed on school grounds and Jessie’s old friends reunite to talk. Most are sure the body is Jessie’s and the mystery of what happened to her has finally been solved. But soon, Jessie’s friends each begin to die in horrible, freak accidents that defy explanation.


Click here to read more about Lisa Jackson, Nancy Bush and WICKED GAME.


Featured One to Watch Author: T. Greenwood, Author of TWO RIVERS

T. Greenwood is the author of BREATHING WATER, NEARER THAN THE SKY and UNDRESSING THE MOON, the latter two both Booksense 76 picks. TWO RIVERS, her new novel releasing on December 30th, is a powerful, haunting tale of enduring love, destructive secrets and opportunities that arrive in disguise.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from TWO RIVERS.
-Click here to read T. Greenwood’s bio.
-Click here to see T. Greenwood's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for TWO RIVERS.
-Visit T. Greenwood’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about TWO RIVERS:
In Two Rivers, Vermont, Harper Montgomery is living a life overshadowed by grief and guilt. Since the death of his wife, Betsy, 12 years earlier, Harper has narrowed his world to working at the local railroad and raising his daughter, Shelly, the best way he knows how. Still wracked with sorrow over the loss of his life-long love and plagued by his role in a brutal, long-ago crime, he wants only to make amends for his past mistakes.


Click here to read more about T. Greenwood and TWO RIVERS.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Kevin O’Brien, Author of FINAL BREATH
Kevin O’Brien is the New York Times bestselling author of 10 books --- including ONE LAST SCREAM and KILLING SPREE --- and received a Spotted Owl Award for his 2005 novel, THE LAST VICTIM. In FINAL BREATH, his new thriller releasing on December 30th, television reporter Sydney Jordan discovers that there is a terrifying connection in a string of seemingly random deaths throughout the country.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from FINAL BREATH.
-Click here to read Kevin O’Brien’s bio.
-Click here to see Kevin O'Brien's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for FINAL BREATH.
-Visit Kevin O'Brien's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about FINAL BREATH:
At first the deaths seem random: a young Portland couple brutally murdered in a game gone awry, a Chicago woman who plummeted to her death from an office building, an aspiring screenwriter asphyxiated in his New York apartment… but the macabre souvenirs television reporter Sydney Jordan receives reveal the connection is both personal and terrifying.


Click here to read more about Kevin O'Brien and FINAL BREATH.


Featured Suspense/Thriller Authors: Ted Dekker and Erin Healy, Authors of KISS

Ted Dekker is known for novels that combine adrenaline-laced stories with unexpected plot twists, unforgettable characters and incredible confrontations between good and evil. In KISS, releasing on January 7th, Dekker teams up with editor and debut novelist Erin Healy to weave a suspenseful tale in which a young woman’s memory makes her the target of a group trying to hide a very dark truth.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from KISS.
-Click here to read fast facts about Ted Dekker and Erin Healy.

-Click here to read Ted Dekker’s bio.
-Click here to read Erin Healy’s bio.
-Click here to see Ted Dekker's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for KISS.
-Visit Ted Dekker’s official website,
-Visit Erin Healy’s official website,
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

More about KISS:
After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion. Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to the truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it.

Click here to read more about Ted Dekker, Erin Healy and KISS.'s What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide

Before you set out to finish your holiday shopping, check out our What to Give/What to Get feature with ideas in 13 categories.

This year's featured categories include:

-Eat, Drink & Be Merry: Cookbooks, Entertaining Guides & Culinary Tales   
-Faces & Places: Biography, Memoir & History
-Great Choices for Booklovers: Fiction & Nonfiction Highlights
-Great Tools for Readers and Writers: Accessories for Booklovers
-Healthy, Wealthy & Wise: Advice & How-To       
-Holiday Spirit: Perfect Selections for Holiday Reading
-Inspirational: Christian Fiction & Nonfiction Highlights
-Mystery Madness & Thrilling Reads: Mysteries, Thrillers & Suspense
-Picture Perfect: Picture Books
-Splendid Series: Series Books for Kids
-Stocking Stuffers: Books Small Enough to Put in Stockings or Buy in Quantity
-Teens’ Choice: For Teens
-True Story: Nonfiction for Kids

Click here to see our What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide.'s Special Blog --- Authors on the Holidays
Between now and Christmas Day, more than 30 authors are sharing their favorite memories of giving or receiving a book at the holidays.

The following authors have already shared their stories:

-Mary Higgins Clark: Christmas Reads Past and Present
-Carol Higgins Clark: The Makings of a Mystery Writer
-Gregg Hurwitz: LOVE SANDY
-Rita Mae Brown: The Best Present
-Mary Kay Andrews on THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON and the Best of Escapist Reading
-Katherine Taylor: Bad Choices in Book Giving
-John Addiego on e.e. cummings
-Wendy Corsi Staub on LITTLE WOMEN
-Kevin Rivoli: Pursuing a Dream
-Charlotte Bacon: The Portable Joys of Reading
-Debbie Macomber on James Michener's TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC
-Bill Willingham: The Most Important Book
-David Baldacci on SOPHIE'S CHOICE
-Laura Pedersen: How Book Giving Ruined a Pot Roast
-Ad Hudler on Dr. Seuss
-Francoise Mouly: Holiday Reading
-Wade Rouse: The Year I Received the Gift From Erma
-Kristin Hannah: Holiday Traditions
-Joseph Finder: Dr. Seuss, Thriller Writer

-Karen Robards: Christmas Memory
-Clyde Ford: A Mythic Christmas Gift
-Adrienne Barbeau: Books for Christmas
-Susan Meissner on POEMS FOR LITTLE EARS
-Garth Stein on 90 MINUTES

-Brad Meltzer on the Best Present He's Ever Received

May we suggest you bookmark this page or set up an RSS feed so you can read these pieces every day?

Click here to read our Authors on the Holidays Blog.

New in Paperback for December

December’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes CHANGE OF HEART by Jodi Picoult, which delves into the polemical issue of the death penalty and how one's perspective on the matter is often dependent upon religious beliefs; Lisa Scottoline’s LADY KILLER, a thriller that marks the return of Philadelphia attorney Mary DiNunzio, whose high school rival seeks assistance and protection from her mobster boyfriend; PEOPLE OF THE BOOK, a riveting story of the survival of a medieval manuscript over five centuries of European history from Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks; THE WINDING WAYS QUILT, the 12th installment in Jennifer Chiaverini's bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series; WHAT I WAS, celebrated young adult author Meg Rosoff’s most unusual coming-of-age novel about friendship and humanity, viewed through the lens of an old, world-weary narrator; and RIDING TOWARD EVERYWHERE, in which noted novelist, journalist and occasional rail rider William T. Vollmann delivers a portrait of the life of trainhopping that is both lyrical and unsettling.

Click here to see our New in Paperback feature for December.

Announcing Our NEW Website ---
This week we are thrilled to announce the launch of The Book Report Network's NEW website: We forecast it to become the premier destination on the web for everything related to graphic novels --- news and reviews, interviews with writers and artists, behind-the-scenes peeks at the creative process, podcasts and videos, and more.
Click here to be one of the first to explore the exciting features on

This Week's Reviews
CROSS COUNTRY by James Patterson (Thriller)
When the home of Alex Cross's oldest friend is turned into the worst murder scene Alex has ever seen, the destruction leads him to believe that he's chasing a horrible new breed of killer. As Alex and his girlfriend become entangled in the deadly Nigerian underworld of Washington D.C., they discover a stunningly organized gang of lethal teenagers headed by a powerful, diabolical man --- the African warlord known as the Tiger. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from CROSS COUNTRY.

SHOW NO FEAR: A Nina Reilly Novel by Perri O’Shaughnessy (Legal Thriller)
In this prequel to the bestselling series that chronicles Nina Reilly's illustrious career as a criminal lawyer, Perri O'Shaughnessy gives readers a glimpse into her early life as a single mom and introduces several of the series' popular characters, including skirt-chasing homicide detective Paul van Wagoner. Reviewed by Lori Lamothe.

-Click here to read an excerpt from SHOW NO FEAR.

DARK PURSUIT by Brandilyn Collins (Thriller)
Kaitlan Sering’s estranged grandfather, novelist Darell Brooke, was the legendary King of Suspense --- until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Now she’s begging him to protect her from a real serial killer. Can his muddled mind devise a plan to catch the murderer? Reviewed by Marcia Ford.

-Click here to read an excerpt from DARK PURSUIT.

OUTLIERS: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (Psychology/Business)
In his third book, social commentator Malcolm Gladwell takes a fresh and stimulating look at the definition of success. Beyond innate talent and hard work, he asks: What are the true determinants of high achievement, and how can we make more opportunities available to a broader group in our society? Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

TITANIC’S LAST SECRETS: The Further Adventures of Shadow Divers of John Chatterton and Richie Kohler by Brad Matsen (History)
As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches, a team of experts on the 1912 disaster has unveiled a new theory that radically revises history on a subject that continues to fascinate “Titaniacs” the world over. Much of what you thought you “knew” about that April night in 1912 is wrong, they say, and the true story has remained covered up for a century. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

-Visit the publisher’s official website,

THE KING OF SWORDS by Nick Stone (Thriller)
When Detective Max Mingus and his partner, Joe Liston, are called to the scene of a death at Miami's Primate Park, it looks like another routine --- if slightly bizarre --- investigation. That is, until two things turn up: the victim's family, slaughtered, and a partly digested tarot card in the dead man's stomach --- the King of Swords. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

SECOND TIME AROUND by Marcia Willett (Fiction)
In this lovely page-turner, Mathilda Rainbird dies, leaving her home in a secluded cove at the shore to three unknown relatives, all strangers to one another. We follow the lives of young Tessa, widower Will and retired school matron Beatrice, as they connect with each other and with Mathilda's housekeeper, Isobel. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

NIGHT OF THUNDER: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel by Stephen Hunter (Thriller)
In NIGHT OF THUNDER, Marine Corps master sniper Bob Lee Swagger lets loose his swift sword of justice against Sinnerman. Set against the backdrop of the weeklong NASCAR event, deep in the heart of Dixie, the story takes Swagger through scandals bubbling over with corrupt cops, meth lab crackers and deranged evangelicals set on making Swagger’s life miserable. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

SPELLBOUND BY BEAUTY: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto (Biography)
The final volume in Donald Spoto’s Hitchcock trilogy that began with THE ART OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK and continued with THE DARK SIDE OF GENIUS is the story of the great moviemaker and his female stars, the unusual ideas of sex and romance that inform his films, and the Hollywood dreams that often became nightmares. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

THE SPANISH GAME by Charles Cumming (Spy Thriller)
Six years ago, Alec Milius was released by MI6 after a disasterous operation. His world shattered, Milius has been living in Madrid, attempting to put his former life as a spy behind him and quietly rebuild his life. But all his plans come crashing down when the head of a separatist movement goes missing, and Milius is lured back into the world of espionage, the brutal world of lies and desperation. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

THE JOURNAL OF HELENE BERR by Hélène Berr (Memoir)
Call her the French Anne Frank if you like, but Hélène Berr is more than just another Holocaust account. This true journal, newly translated into English, records at once the average life of a French college student in the 1940s and the horrors of World War II. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

Read this week's reviews here.


Poll and Question of the Week: The Year in Review


What did you think of the books you read in 2008?

I read some of the best books that I ever have read.
There were a few books that excited me.
I think this was not a really exciting year.
I am not sure how I feel.

-Click here to answer our poll.


What was your favorite book of 2008? And yes, we know, you cannot pick just one, so please feel free to select up to three!

-Click here to answer our question.


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 three great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of ON THE GRIND: A Shane Scully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell, PLUM SPOOKY: A Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers Novel by Janet Evanovich and STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on January 9th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.

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 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 December 31, 2008 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: BORN TO RUN by James Grippando, THE CHARLEMAGNE PURSUIT by Steve Berry, THE INDEPENDENCE OF MISS MARY BENNET by Colleen McCollough, THE MESSENGER by Jan Burke and SCARPETTA by Patricia Cornwell. Sally from Effingham, IL
was last month's newsletter winner. She won DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED by Wally Lamb, JUST AFTER SUNSET: Stories by Stephen King, SALVATION IN DEATH by J.D. Robb and YOUR HEART BELONGS TO ME by Dean Koontz.

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

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