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March 20, 2009 Newsletter March 20, 2009
Bookish Ramblings from Virginia

I write this from Charlottesville, where I am in town for the Virginia Festival of the Book. I drove down yesterday (long ago I decided that any trip six hours or less was a driving trip, not a flying trip, with the interminable airline delays, etc.). The first event, Wine and Words, was held at Enoteca Wine & Panini Bar and featured David Baldacci and Adriana Trigiani. David has made appearances at the Festival since its inception 15 years ago. He was there with his beaming smile talking about his latest project, Feeding Body & Mind, which collects new and used books to be distributed to the recipients of Feeding America™ emergency food assistance through their nationwide network of Food Banks, thus helping feed both the body and the mind.

Adriana, who has the force and presence of a rock star, then took center stage and gave a warm welcome to the crowd. Her mom and sisters were on hand, as well as her in-laws. She grew up in Virginia, and the event had the tone of a homecoming. Local book club members, as well as readers and even one of her former teachers, were in the crowd. She very kindly introduced me, and it was fun to see how many in the audience knew

I already had had the opportunity to meet one of our readers, Katherine Schulz, who has been facilitating book groups at an assisted living facility and had some wonderful stories to share about the way books have been brightening the lives of the residents and enhancing their social experience. We had been corresponding via email this last week, and it was fun to put a face with a name as she found me by spotting my turquoise vest.

The event provided one of those moments where everyone was united by the fact that we were readers. Since we were on common ground, there was lots of conversation. I was chatting with a woman whose son was in school at Princeton. The next event I was attending was featuring Jean Hanff Korelitz, the author of
ADMISSION, a novel coming out on April 15th that is about the process of getting admitted to Princeton. I had a galley in my bag, showed it to her, and she scurried across the downtown mall to the New Dominion Book Shop to pick up a copy and even was able to get it signed before the event, making it the first copy that Jean sold/signed. Fun moment.

I started reading
ADMISSION the other night and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Longtime readers will remember that last year I was going through the college admission process with my son. I vowed not to get swept up in the insanity of it. ADMISSION truly captures how the experience of applying to college has become an obsession --- not only creating a good story, but through fiction also delivering a social commentary on what has happened in this process.

I ducked out to dinner at a favorite restaurant, Tastings, where there is a crab casserole that is just heavenly, and okay, the mushroom soup and chocolate mousse were amazing too. (Lots of laps in the pool happened this morning to make up for this.) I had the pleasure of meeting a delightful woman named Mary there who owns a bookstore in Chincoteague, a charming town on the eastern shore of Virginia that I have visited!

This morning I dashed over to the University of Virginia Bookstore for an event called Fateful Acts, where three authors discussed novels in which individual acts have lasting consequences. For me the draw was Philipp Meyer, whose debut
AMERICAN RUST has been getting raves. To prep for this event, I had started it and read enough this week to get into the "fateful act." Before you give me high marks, note it happens at the beginning. Hearing him I look forward to finishing it. Also, as happens at these events, the other two authors’ presentations prompted me to want to read their books as well: DREAM HOUSE by Valerie Laken and EAST HOPE by Katharine Davis. This panel was exceptional as each author was extremely well-spoken and also shared ideas about back story, character as place and their personal experiences that drove interest in their work.

The panel was moderated by Kelly Miller, who works at the University of Virginia Library and shared details of their
Poe exhibit that is presently on display celebrating his 200th birthday. I wish my schedule had time for this; I may just have to linger a bit longer to see it!

We are launching new features this week for two authors we really love. Our first is for
Sandra Dallas, whose new novel, PRAYERS FOR SALE, will be available in stores on April 14th. This is a remarkable story about two women who, enduring the harsh conditions of the Great Depression, form an unlikely yet strong friendship. We have 10 copies of PRAYERS FOR SALE 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 Friday, March 27th.

For years you have been writing asking us if there will be a new book from
Jilliane Hoffman, as many of you loved her debut, RETRIBUTION. So I am very happy to share that we are launching a new Suspense/Thriller feature for Jilliane Hoffman spotlighting PLEA OF INSANITY, which releases on April 14th. This novel is a tense legal thriller in which a young, ambitious prosecutor must embark on a terrifying personal journey to bring a killer to justice. We have 10 copies of PLEA OF INSANITY 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 Friday, March 27th.

Our advance readers really enjoyed
FAULT LINE by Barry Eisler (who from all reports was feted wonderfully as the Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime in Hawaii last week) and HEART OF ICE by Gregg Olsen. Click on the authors' names to read what our readers had to say.

For those of you looking for a puppy update... We are going to attend the Puppy Meeting on April 20th to learn more about the program. Many thanks for your words of caution about the trials of raising a puppy; they were much appreciated. One reader even cited a book about this very kind of experience, called
AROUND THE NEXT CORNER, which is on its way to me.

Okay, I am off to more Festival of the Book events. Oh, one more thing. My older son has been blogging from his Maine lighthouse trip this past week, which has been fun to follow. He’s a few days behind, but I wanted to share a link to this and some amazing photos he has taken.
Click here to read about his journey. Here’s wishing you all a great week as we welcome spring (I saw lovely pansies outside my hotel!). May the weather begin to match the calendar! Happy reading...

Carol Fitzgerald (

Click here to learn more about the Virginia Festival of the Book.

Now in Stores: THE LAST DICKENS by Matthew Pearl
THE LAST DICKENS by Matthew Pearl (Historical Mystery)
Critically acclaimed author Matthew Pearl reopens one of literary history’s greatest mysteries in his most enthralling novel yet --- a story centered around the lost ending to Charles Dickens’s unfinished novel and the perilous quest to uncover his final mystery. THE LAST DICKENS is a tale filled with the dazzling twists and turns, unerring period details, and meticulous research that thrilled readers of the bestsellers THE DANTE CLUB and THE POE SHADOW.

-Click here to read a review of THE LAST DICKENS.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE LAST DICKENS.

Click here to read more about THE LAST DICKENS on Matthew Pearl's official website,

Now in Stores: HEART AND SOUL by Maeve Binchy

HEART AND SOUL by Maeve Binchy (Fiction)
Bestselling author Maeve Binchy is the undisputed modern-day mother of Irish fiction. In her latest novel, HEART AND SOUL, she once again taps into the very soul of the Irish people, portraying in her characters their often irreverent wit, tough stoic exteriors and soft sensitivities. Reviewed by Roberta O’Hara.

-Click here to read an excerpt from HEART AND SOUL.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for HEART AND SOUL.


Click here to read a review of HEART AND SOUL.

Now in Stores: THE BELIEVERS by Zoë Heller
THE BELIEVERS by Zoë Heller (Fiction)
In unflinching, squirm-inducing, often painfully funny prose, Zoë Heller examines what happens when the center falls out of a dynamic and intellectual, but dysfunctional, family. THE BELIEVERS explores big ideas with a light touch, delivering a tragic, comic family story as unsparing as it is filled with compassion. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE BELIEVERS.

Click here to read a review of THE BELIEVERS.

New Featured Women’s Fiction Author: Sandra Dallas, Author of PRAYERS FOR SALE
Award-winning and critically acclaimed author Sandra Dallas has captivated readers with her novels that explore themes of loyalty, friendship and human dignity, including NEW MERCIES, THE CHILI QUEEN and TALLGRASS, among others. PRAYERS FOR SALE, Dallas’s eighth work of fiction, is an unforgettable tale of a friendship between two women, one with surprising twists and turns, and one that is ultimately a revelation of the finest parts of the human spirit. PRAYERS FOR SALE will be available in stores on April 14th

We have 10 copies of PRAYERS FOR SALE 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 Friday, March 27th.

-Click here to read Sandra Dallas’s bio.
-Visit Sandra Dallas's official website,

It's 1936 and the depression has ravaged the country. Hennie Comfort is 86 and has lived in the mountains of Middle Swan, Colorado since before it was Colorado. Nit Spindle is just 17 and newly married. After a chance encounter between the two women, the harsh conditions of life that each have endured create an instant bond and an unlikely friendship is formed, one in which the deepest of hardships are shared and the darkest of secrets are confessed.

Click here to read more about Sandra Dallas and PRAYERS FOR SALE.

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Jilliane Hoffman, Author of PLEA OF INSANITY
Jilliane Hoffman began her professional career as an Assistant State Attorney prosecuting felonies in Florida. Through 2001, she was the Regional Legal Advisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, advising more than 100 special agents on criminal and civil matters in complex investigations involving narcotics, homicide and organized crime. PLEA OF INSANITY, releasing on April 14th, is her third novel, following her international bestsellers RETRIBUTION and LAST WITNESS.

We have 10 copies of PLEA OF INSANITY 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 Friday, March 27th.

-Click here to read Jilliane Hoffman’s bio.
-Visit Jilliane Hoffman’s official website,

The prosecutor --- Julia Vacanti. Young, ambitious, and facing a case that could launch her career. The defendant --- David Marquette. A successful Miami surgeon and devoted family man. The victims --- Marquette’s own wife and three small children. The plea --- Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. The perfect father and model husband, David Marquette seemingly just snapped one night. Or did he? His experienced defense team claims paranoid delusions caused by schizophrenia drove him to slaughter his entire family.

Click here to read more about Jilliane Hoffman and PLEA OF INSANITY.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Lisa Scottoline, Author of LOOK AGAIN
Lisa Scottoline is the Edgar Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of 16 books, including LADY KILLER, DADDY’S GIRL and DIRTY BLONDE. In LOOK AGAIN, her new novel releasing on April 14th, a reporter’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives a photo of a missing child who is identical to her adopted son.

-Click here to read fast facts about Lisa Scottoline.
-Click here to read Lisa Scottoline’s bio.
-Click here to see Lisa Scottoline's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for LOOK AGAIN.
-Visit Lisa Scottoline’s official website,
-Click here to watch a video in which Lisa Scottoline shares her favorite thrillers.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about LOOK AGAIN:
When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops --- the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Everything inside her tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won't be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth.

Click here to read more about Lisa Scottoline and LOOK AGAIN.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Kyle Mills, Author of LORDS OF CORRUPTION

Kyle Mills is the New York Times bestselling author of 10 books, including DARKNESS FALLS and THE SECOND HORSEMAN. Over the years he has consistently impressed critics with his insightful and entertaining contemporary political thrillers. In LORDS OF CORRUPTION, his new novel releasing on March 24th, Mills delivers a pulse-pounding, yet sophisticated, examination of the political turmoil in Africa.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from LORDS OF CORRUPTION.
-Click here to read Kyle Mills's bio.
-Click here to see Kyle Mills's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for LORDS OF CORRUPTION.
-Visit Kyle Mills's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

When Josh Hagarty is recruited by an obscure charity to manage a farming project in a war-torn region of Africa, he is eager to sign on and atone for a past he regrets. However, before he can even settle into his new life, he begins to suspect that his new employer may not be the philanthropic organization it portrays. Josh tries to lose himself in his work, but soon the precariousness of his situation becomes impossible to ignore.


Click here to read more about Kyle Mills and LORDS OF CORRUPTION.

Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Lisa Jackson, Author of MALICE

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson has written over 75 novels, and more than 12 million copies of her books are in print. In MALICE, her new novel releasing on March 31st, Jackson crafts a riveting edge-of-your-seat thriller of deception and betrayal as a New Orleans detective is forced to confront the ghosts of his past --- and a killer's twisted vengeance.

-Click here to read an excerpt from MALICE.
-Click here to read Lisa Jackson’s bio.
-Click here to see Lisa Jackson's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for MALICE.
-Visit Lisa Jackson's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners for MALICE.

More about MALICE:
The scent is unmistakable --- gardenias, the same perfume that his beautiful first wife, Jennifer, always wore. Opening his eyes in the hospital room where he is recovering from an accident, New Orleans detective Rick Bentz sees her standing in the doorway. She blows him a kiss and disappears. But Jennifer died 12 years ago...

The murders begin soon after this peculiar encounter. Each victim is a part of Jennifer’s past, and each grisly corpse points to Bentz as the prime suspect.


Click here to read more about Lisa Jackson and MALICE.

Special Contest on Enter to Win a Copy of TWO Watchmen Film Companion Books
After more than 20 years, Watchmen has finally landed on big screens everywhere (in a release starring Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Goode, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Carla Gugino and Jackie Earle Haley). To celebrate, is offering you the chance to win one of three sets of Watchmen books from Titan Books that delve into the magic behind the movie! The contest is open through March 31st. Readers who fill out this form and who tell us their thoughts on the Watchmen film will be automatically entered to win.

WATCHMEN: THE OFFICIAL FILM COMPANION takes viewers inside this colossal movie with exclusive cast and crew interviews and more than 200 color photographs.

WATCHMEN: THE ART OF THE FILM explores the evolution of the movie’s look, revealing scores of production designs and stunning set photos, costume sketches, original storyboards and other pieces of conceptual art. Filled with unique characters and layer upon layer of arresting detail, Watchmen is a triumph of design; and this hardback volume, a lavish celebration of a comic book made real, offers a unique look into the genesis of that design work.
Click here to read all the contest details.'s 2009 Book Group Survey -- Give Us Your Input and Receive a Complementary Book! is conducting a survey of book groups. Our goal is to identify trends and topics that are of interest to book groups that we can share with publishers and authors, so they can provide the information and resources to enhance your meetings and discussions. We have not done a survey since 2001, and we know that a lot has changed in the last eight years! Thus, we would love to hear from you.

We estimate it will take 12-15 minutes to complete the survey. Each of the first 2,500 respondents will receive one of these 28 books graciously provided by our publisher colleagues. All other entrants will be entered into a random drawing to win one of 200 books. The titles that have been selected each are worthy of a terrific book group discussion, besides providing some wonderful reading enjoyment. Titles will be selected at random. Your name will not be used for any other mailing.

If you know people in other book clubs, may we suggest that you forward
this link to them? The more voices that are heard for this, the more we will be able to have your comments shared with publishers and authors.

The survey will close on April 30th, so
click here to answer the survey NOW.

One quick note: Given customs and mailing restrictions, the prize offerings are only available to residents of the United States and Canada. To our international readers, we welcome your participation and regret we cannot send prizes overseas.

here for more information about the survey and the 28 prize books.

Please note that only our readers who are members of book clubs are eligible to take this survey.


Click here to take part in the 2009 Book Group Survey.

Calling All Teens! Enter the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards for Young Writers Contest
The Claudia Ann Seaman Awards for Young Writers (formerly the Claudia Ann Seaman Poetry Award) is open to all high school students across the country. Each participant may submit a total of three poems, essays or stories on any subject, as long as their fiction and creative nonfiction submission does not exceed 2,500 words. The deadline for entering this annual contest is June 1st.
Click here to read all the contest details.

This Week's Reviews
DON’T LOOK TWICE by Andrew Gross (Thriller)
Detective Ty Hauck plunges into what seems like a vicious case of retribution and follows the trail to a sinister gambling scheme at an upstate casino. Until Annie Fletcher, a young restaurateur in the midst of rebuilding her life, witnesses something she shouldn't have --- and immediately runs to him with what she knows. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DEATH OF A WITCH: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery by M. C. Beaton (Mystery)
DEATH OF A WITCH is the 24th mystery featuring Hamish Macbeth, the sometimes cantankerous, always amusing village policeman from the Scottish Highlands. Hamish has recently returned home from a holiday abroad to find that a strange woman calling herself Catriona Beldame has seemingly cast a spell on the men in the village. When Catriona and three villagers are murdered in quick succession, Hamish must work fast to solve the crime before a cloud of suspicion falls on the entire village. Reviewed by Usha Reynolds.

FOOL by Christopher Moore (Fiction)
Murder. Treason. Footnotes. Cumbersome olde style grammar. Profanity. The more than odd shag. This is certainly NOT your great-great grandfather's King Lear but rather a retelling by a comic mastermind. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

ANGELS OF DESTRUCTION by Keith Donohue (Fiction)
Before the Wright brothers’ first flight, conventional wisdom held that space travel was impossible. In 1901, H.G. Wells asked readers of THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON only to believe. Keith Donohue, author of THE STOLEN CHILD, asks the same of his readers, not in space flight but in angels --- both good and destructive. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

THE RED CONVERTIBLE: Selected and New Stories, 1978-2008 by Louise Erdrich (Fiction/Short Stories)
This unique volume brings together for the first time three decades of short stories by one of America's most prolific and highly respected fiction writers. Louise Erdrich has selected these pieces --- 30 works that first appeared in magazines as well as six unpublished stories --- from among a much larger oeuvre. She has ordered them chronologically but also by theme and voice. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

HUNTING EICHMANN: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb (History)
Few fictional spy thrillers can match for sheer drama the true story of the 1960 capture of Adolf Eichmann, the top-level planner and executor of the Nazis’ notorious “final solution to the Jewish problem.” Eichmann, who had eluded capture for 15 years, was tracked down in Argentina by a band of determined Israeli pursuers who had planned their nighttime kidnapping operation down to the last detail. Neal Bascomb’s fascinating book lets the reader follow the action in minute detail. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

SHE ALWAYS KNEW HOW: Mae West, A Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler (Biography)
In this new biography of larger-than-life leading lady Mae West, esteemed biographer Charlotte Chandler draws on a series of interviews she conducted with the star just months before her death in 1980 to paint a candid portrait of the woman who invited generations to “come up and see her sometime.” Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

THE LAST DAYS OF THE ROMANOVS: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg by Helen Rappaport (Biography)
In 1918, from late April until mid July, former Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, his German-born wife, the former Tsarina Alexandra, and their five children await their fate while imprisoned at the Ipatiev House in the Siberian city of Ekaterinburg. Reports of their brutal murders, after months of confinement, shock and sadden the world. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

LEAVING INDIA: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents by Minal Hajratwala (Memoir/History)
In LEAVING INDIA, journalist Minal Hajratwala mixes history, memoir and reportage to explore the questions facing not only her own Indian family but that of every immigrant: Where did we come from? Why did we leave? What did we give up and gain in the process? Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: Previewing Books Before Buying Them

Do you read the inside flap or back copy on a book before you buy it?

Yes, all the time
Yes, if I do not know the author
Some of the time

-Click here to answer our poll.


Name up to three books that you bought purely because the inside flap or back copy was good.

-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 ILLEGAL by Paul Levine, PURSUIT by Karen Robards and REUNION by Therese Fowler. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on April 3rd 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 March 31, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: HANDLE WITH CARE by Jodi Picoult, ILLEGAL by Paul Levine, LIFE SENTENCES by Laura Lippman, LONG LOST by Harlan Coben and PURSUIT by Karen Robards. Joanne from Tuckahoe, NY was last month's newsletter winner. She won BLOOD AND BONE by William Lashner, PROMISES IN DEATH by J. D. Robb, TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah, VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani and WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS by Barbara Delinsky.

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

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