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April 24, 2009 Newsletter April 24, 2009
Looking Forward to LA....

Ever had a night when it's easier to just keeping typing on the couch rather than move? I am writing this note on Thursday night when I SHOULD be packing for LA as I am flying out early Friday morning to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Instead, I am writing the newsletter opener. When I leave town, I worry that I will not have power, a battery that works or an Internet connection, and thus the newsletter will not get done. This from a woman who travels with a backup battery and a Verizon air card. Okay, okay, I always am overprepared.

I am meeting up with a few readers at the Book Festival. I have my schedule pretty well figured out, so if you are going to be there, drop me a note and we can try to coordinate meeting up.

This week we are launching a new One to Watch feature for CRAZY FOR THE STORM by Norman Ollestad, and we are doing something different for this. We have 100 (!) advance copies to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. You may remember that I was just wild about this book when I read it. I have shared it with 10 of my "big mouth" reader friends, and they each have finished it and called to rave. If you are interested in reading it, please fill out this form by Friday, May 1st.

There is also a really great video in which Ollestad talks about the book and the experiences behind it, which you can watch here. It includes some original interview footage from the plane crash back in 1979 when Norman was 11. I had done a quick Google search and found that the story had been featured on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and had wanted to see it, so it was pretty cool to see those clips in the video. I am excited about this book; it's definitely going to be a Bets On selection.

Patti Callahan Henry stopped by the office on Tuesday, and we shot an impromptu video of her talking with me about her upcoming book, DRIFTWOOD SUMMER. We'll have it for you closer to the on-sale date of June 2nd. We will be doing more of these interviews in the weeks to come as authors stop by and we shoot them with our handy dandy Flip camera, which is a ton of fun to use.

News this week that THE LOST SYMBOL, the long-awaited book from Dan Brown, will be in stores on September 15th. You can pre-order your copy from Amazon here and from your local independent bookseller here. Please note that next Friday, May 1st is a special Shop Indie Day. On that day we are asking everyone to buy one book --- paperback, hardcover, audiobook --- at an independent bookstore near you. Find yours here. Consider it a celebration of some of the millions of small companies, like ours, that make up America. I know that when I stop in a local bookstore when I travel, I not only meet kindred spirits, but also can get a quick feel for the place where I am visiting!

If any of you are in book clubs, this is the last week to answer the 2009 Book Group Survey; it closes on April 30th, so if you have not weighed in yet, please do so now!

Besides this we are running two very special contests on that we wanted to be sure are on your radar. The first is for THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein, in which 100 groups will have the opportunity to win a copy of the paperback, which releases in June, as well as some other fun book-related items. Three of these groups will also have the opportunity to have a live chat with the author --- two by phone and one IN PERSON. Click here for contest details. We are also running a contest for ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN by Mahbod Seraji, in which 50 book clubs will have the opportunity to win a copy of the title. I really loved this book and will be featuring it in our Bets On feature in the coming weeks. You can find out more about that contest here.

Speaking of voting, if you have a child or teen in your house, have them pop over and vote for the Children's Choice Book Awards. They have both kids and teens categories. I am thrilled to have been asked to present the teen award on May 12th. This same evening Al Roker will be presenting an award to Whoopi Goldberg. When she had her TV show, my boys and I loved watching it. She had one episode where the PIN number for her ATM card was stolen, and I ALWAYS think of that when I type in my own code.

I wanted to get another title on your radar, THE PHOTOGRAPHER by Emmanuel Guibert, which will be in stores on May 12th. It's a brilliant merging of photography and graphic illustrations that tells the story of a Doctors Without Borders trip in 1986 into Afghanistan. The combination makes this a very special experience and makes the story very powerful. There is an exhibit of the photos and art at the VII Gallery in Brooklyn through May 19th. I had hoped to get out there tonight for the opening, but there was too much going on. It will be on my agenda in these next few weeks.

We’ve received wonderful advance reader responses to three of the titles recently featured on the site, including LOOK AGAIN by Lisa Scottoline, PRAYERS FOR SALE by Sandra Dallas (which is the current Barnes & Noble Pick) and PLEA OF INSANITY by Jilliane Hoffman. Click on the authors' names above to read our advance readers’ comments.

Next week is Mystery Writers of America week. I am attending a symposium on Wednesday where Sue Grafton will be one of the Grand Masters along with James Lee Burke. I never have heard Grafton speak, so I am looking forward to this! The Edgar Awards dinner is Thursday night, and I am looking forward to that as well. This is the first time I am traveling to LA and not renting a car. Call this my ode to economic austerity. Since the event is on the UCLA campus in walking distance to my hotel and the event at The Mystery Bookstore also is in walking distance, it seems really silly to have a car just to get to/from the airport. So I guess I will leave my car charger home for my phone. See, one less thing to pack!

I'm planning to take three books on this four-day trip --- WRONGFUL DEATH by Robert Dugoni, RULES OF VENGEANCE by Christopher Reich, which will be in stores on August 4th, and BURNT SHADOWS by Kamila Shamsie, in stores on April 28th, which I already started and am loving. See, SOME packing decisions have been made. It's supposed to be summer-like here in the Northeast while temperatures will be cooler in LA. Just my luck that we get a sneak peek at summer and I miss it. Happy reading....

Carol Fitzgerald (


Now in Stores: FIRST FAMILY by David Baldacci
FIRST FAMILY by David Baldacci (Political Thriller)
Bestselling author David Baldacci returns with his fourth book featuring Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. This time around, the former Secret Service agents turned private investigators are engaged in a search for the kidnapped niece of the First Lady, who is taken right from under their noses after a birthday party at Camp David. As with Baldacci’s previous political thrillers, all may not be as simple as it seems in this heart-pounding novel. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to read an excerpt from FIRST FAMILY.

Click here to read a review of FIRST FAMILY.

Now in Stores: TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT by Alexander McCall Smith
TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT: The New No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith (Mystery)
The latest installment in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series finds Precious Ramotswe in need of her own formidable detection talents: saving not only an old friend and a couple’s new engagement --- but even the local football team! Fortunately, we know there are few problems that can’t be fixed when the irrepressible Precious Ramotswe puts her mind to them. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

-Click here to read an excerpt from TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT.

Click here to read a review of TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT.'s Fourth Annual Mother's Day Contest: Books Mom Will Love
Mother’s Day is a time to recognize the women who raised and nurtured us. Why not brighten their special day with a great book? From April 17th through May 1st, readers will have the chance to win one of our five Mother’s Day Gift Baskets filled with goodies Mom will just love, as well as one copy of ALL 13 of our featured books. With titles that are moving, uplifting, humorous and informative, look no further than here for the perfect gift for Mom.

Our featured Mother’s Day titles are:

-BAD MOTHER: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman
-THE DIARY by Eileen Goudge
-FLOWERS ON MAIN: A Chesapeake Shores Novel by Sherryl Woods
-THE GIRLS FROM AMES: A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow
-HEART AND SOUL by Maeve Binchy
-PRAYERS FOR SALE by Sandra Dallas
-STERN MEN by Elizabeth Gilbert
-TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith
-TIME IS A RIVER by Mary Alice Monroe

Click here to read all the contest details.

New Featured One to Watch Author: Norman Ollestad, Author of CRAZY FOR THE STORM: A Memoir of Survival
From the age of three, Norman Ollestad was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive skiing by the intense, charismatic father he both idolized and resented. In CRAZY FOR THE STORM, Ollestad’s riveting memoir of survival, the author recounts how these exhilarating tests of skill prepared him to become a fearless champion --- and ultimately saved his life. CRAZY FOR THE STORM will be available in stores on June 2nd.

We have 100 copies of CRAZY FOR THE STORM 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, May 1st.

-Click here to read Norman Ollestad’s bio.
-Visit Norman Ollestad’s official website,
-Visit the publisher’s website,
-Click here to watch a video in which Norman Ollestad discusses CRAZY FOR THE STORM.

February 1979: 11 year-old Norman Ollestad is the lone survivor of a harrowing plane crash that kills his magnetic, adrenaline-addicted father, a man who stopped at nothing to mold his son into a fearless surfer and ski champion. Set amid the uninhibited beach culture of Malibu and Mexico, this story of an extraordinary father-son bond has also been hailed by Susan Cheever as “a heart-stopping adventure” that asks “what it means to lead a life without limits.”

Click here to read more about Norman Ollestad and CRAZY FOR THE STORM.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: John Sandford, Author of WICKED PREY

For 20 years, John Sandford’s books have been beloved for their “ingenious plots, vivid characters, crisp dialogue and endless surprises” (The Washington Post). Sandford is the author of 19 Prey novels and eight other books, including, most recently, HEAT LIGHTNING. In WICKED PREY, his newest Prey thriller releasing on May 12th, Lucas Davenport faces danger on multiple fronts when the Republican National Convention comes to St. Paul.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WICKED PREY.
-Click here to read John Sandford’s bio.
-Click here to see John Sandford's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for WICKED PREY.
-Visit John Sandford’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about WICKED PREY:
Danger stalks Lucas Davenport at work and all too close to home, in the superlative new thriller by the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

The Republicans are coming to St. Paul for their convention. Crashing the party are a few hard cases the police would rather stayed away, including a crew of professional stickup men who’ve spotted several lucrative opportunities. All that’s headache enough for Lucas Davenport --- but what’s about to hit him is even worse.


Click here to read more about John Sandford and WICKED PREY.

Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Nancy Bush, Author of UNSEEN
Nancy Bush is the author of the acclaimed Jane Kelley Mysteries, which include CANDY APPLE RED, ELECTRIC BLUE and ULTRAVIOLET. In her new romantic suspense novel, UNSEEN, Gemma La Porte survives a horrific car accident and awakens with a loss of memory and a terrifying realization that she may be guilty of murder. UNSEEN is now available in stores.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from UNSEEN.
-Click here to read Nancy Bush’s bio.
-Click here to see Nancy Bush's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for UNSEEN.
-Visit Nancy Bush's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about UNSEEN:
Gemma La Porte wakes up in a hospital and knows her name and where she lives, but there are blank spaces in her memory. When released, she senses she’s being watched but thinks she's overreacting. As the days pass, Gemma begins having blackouts, waking up and having no idea where she's been or what she's done, especially when she finds blood on her hands. Has she committed murder?

Click here to read more about Nancy Bush and UNSEEN.

Featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author: John Manning, Author of ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS

From a new voice in suspense/thriller writing comes a novel in which a decades-old crime and a modern-day string of murders force a young college student to be a pawn in a psychopath’s twisted game. ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS, John Manning’s debut suspense/thriller novel, is now available in stores.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS.
-Click here to read John Manning’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

Two decades ago, at a private women’s college in upstate New York, a student was brutally attacked in her dorm room, but her assailant was never found. Sue Barlow arrives at Wilbourne College 20 years later. When a classmate disappears, Sue thinks it’s an isolated incident until two other girls vanish. As fear grows on campus, Sue begins to sense she’s being watched, and as the body count rises, she soon realizes that a twisted psychopath is summoning her to play a wicked game.


Click here to read more about John Manning and ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS.

New in Paperback for April

April’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes ODD HOURS, the fourth Odd Thomas book that finds Dean Koontz’s young hero struggling to save several entire cities from total destruction; THE BOURNE SANCTION by Eric Van Lustbader, which centers on Jason Bourne’s investigation of a previously unknown Muslim extremist sect called the Black Legion; CERTAIN GIRLS, a sequel to Jennifer Weiner’s debut novel that catches up with protagonist Cannie Shapiro 13 years after her appearance in GOOD IN BED; WINTER STUDY, Nevada Barr’s 14th mystery featuring National Park Ranger/sleuth Anna Pigeon; UNACCUSTOMED EARTH, a collection of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri that takes us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they enter the lives of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers; SOMEBODY ELSE’S DAUGHTER, a psychological thriller and a probing study of richly conflicted characters in emotional turmoil from THE DOCTOR’S WIFE author Elizabeth Brundage; and APPLES & ORANGES, Marie Brenner's memoir of sibling rivalry that asks a universal question: How can two people from the same family turn out so entirely different?

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

What's New on
With excitement building for the new Wolverine movie, is now updated with an in-depth interview with Barry Lyga, author of WOLVERINE: WORST DAY EVER, a new graphic novel depicting the popular mutant in a whole new light. Plus, there's a review of WOLVERINE: PRODIGAL SON, the new manga book featuring him. Don't miss our rave review of Stephen King's THE DARK TOWER: TREACHERY, the third volume of Marvel Comics’ adaptation of King’s epic tale of Roland Deschain of Gilead. Plenty of other creators and graphic novel content is spotlighted as well, including an interview with C.M. Butz, whose book GETTYSBURG is being used by students of history of all ages, as well as by schoolteachers looking to put an interactive and engaging face on the time leading up to the Civil War. There's much, much more, including reviews, Behind the Scenes with James Sturm (ADVENTURES IN CARTOONING) and bestsellers.
Click here to visit's 2009 Book Group Survey -- Give Us Your Input by April 30th and Be Entered to 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.

Special Contests on THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein and ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN by Mahbod Seraji
If you are in a book club, here are two exciting contests we are featuring on this month:

Win a Copy of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN and the Chance to Have an IN-PERSON Chat with Garth Stein!

We are celebrating the upcoming paperback release of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN --- Garth Stein’s New York Times bestselling novel about family, love, loyalty and hope --- with a very special two-part contest. 100 readers will receive a copy of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN for their book club as well as an ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN buzz kit. We will then contact our 100 winning groups and ask them to tell us how they would creatively use some or all of the items included in this kit in their book discussion. One Grand Prize Winner will have an IN-PERSON chat with Garth Stein. Two runners-up will receive the opportunity to chat with Garth Stein by phone. THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN will be available in paperback on June 9th.

-Click here to read all the contest details.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN.

-Click here to read a review of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN.

Win a Copy of ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN by Mahbod Seraji for Your Group

We are celebrating the upcoming release of ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN by Mahbod Seraji --- a coming-of-age story set in Iran in the 1970s that is funny, insightful, tragic and ultimately uplifting --- with a special contest. 50 readers will have the opportunity to each win one finished copy of ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN, which will be in stores on May 5th, for their group.

-Click here to read all the contest details.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN.


Click here to visit

Calling All Kids and Teens! Vote for Your Favorite Books, Authors and Illustrators of 2008 in the Children's Choice Book Awards

The Children’s Book Council has announced the finalists for the second annual Children's Choice Book Awards. The favorite book finalists were determined by close to 15,000 children and teens. Thousands more can cast their votes for their favorite books, authors and illustrators at bookstores, schools, libraries and at until May 3rd.

The Children’s Choice Book Awards winners will be announced live at the Children’s Choice Book Awards gala on May 12th in New York City as part of Children’s Book Week (May 11-17th), the oldest national literacy event in the United States.


Kids and teens can cast their votes here.

This Week's Reviews
DEADLOCK by Iris Johansen (Thriller)
Emily Hudson has devoted her life to rescuing the priceless artifacts and relics so often overlooked in the horrors of war until it’s too late. Dodging bandits, side-stepping explosives and traveling from one treacherous hot-spot to another isn’t easy, but it’s a job Emily is perfectly suited for, having no roots to hold her to any one place for long. Until one day, when the ultimate danger comes looking for Emily and her team. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

FATALLY FLAKY by Diane Mott Davidson (Mystery)
Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz encounters bridezilla --- and murder --- in another delectable novel by the New York Times bestselling author of SWEET REVENGE, DARK TORT and DOUBLE SHOT. In FATALLY FLAKY, catering weddings and cooking low-fat food could be killing Goldy --- literally. Reviewed by Marge Fletcher.

I LOVED, I LOST, I MADE SPAGHETTI by Giulia Melucci (Memoir)
From failure to fusilli, I LOVED, I LOST, I MADE SPAGHETTI tells the story of Giulia Melucci's fizzled romances and the mouth-watering recipes she used to seduce her men, smooth over the lumps, and console herself when the relationships flamed out. Peppered throughout Giulia's delightful and often poignant remembrances are fond recollections of her mother's cooking, the recipes she learned from her, and many she invented on her own inspired by the men in her life. Reviewed by Jamie Layton.

THE GEOMETRY OF SISTERS by Luanne Rice (Fiction)
New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice explores the complex emotional equations of love and loyalty that hold together three pairs of remarkable sisters. Here in the halls of Newport Academy, a unique private school that has attracted generations of rebels, outcasts and visionaries, an unforgettable lesson in the eternal truths of sisterhood is about to begin. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose (Memoir)
As a sophomore at Brown University, Kevin Roose spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE TOURIST by Olen Steinhauer (Thriller)
Milo Weaver used to be a “tourist” for the CIA --- an undercover agent with no home, no identity --- but he’s since retired from the field to become a middle-level manager at the CIA’s New York headquarters. When the arrest of a long-sought-after assassin sets off an investigation into one of Milo’s oldest colleagues and exposes new layers of intrigue in his old cases, he has no choice but to go back undercover and find out who’s holding the strings once and for all. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DEAD SILENCE by Randy Wayne White (Thriller)
Doc Ford manages to save a U.S. senator from an abduction attempt that occurs right before his eyes. But the companion in her car is not so lucky. A 14-year-old Minnesota boy, in New York as the prize for an essay-writing contest, is snatched and vanishes --- dead, authorities fear, until they receive the kidnappers’ ultimatum. Ford goes on the hunt, but if what happened before was unthinkable, it’s nothing compared with what he discovers. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE VENETIAN JUDGMENT by David Stone (Thriller)
Winter in Venice and a killing frost has cut deep into CIA cleaner Micah Dalton’s heart as he heads out into the night to erase the last members of the Serbian gang who shot his lover, a hand-to-hand vendetta Dalton does not intend to survive. And he might not have, if a mysterious jade box containing a stainless steel glasscutter had not arrived at his villa. The box, and the dangerous message it contains, triggers a global search for a possible mole within the upper echelons of the CIA itself. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

SECRET SON by Laila Lalami (Fiction)
Youssef el-Mekki is living with his mother in the slums of Casablanca when he discovers that the father he believed to be dead is, in fact, alive and eager to befriend and support him. Leaving his mother behind, Youssef assumes a life he could only dream of. His future appears assured until an abrupt reversal of fortune sends him back to the streets and his childhood friends, where a fringe Islamic group has set up its headquarters. Reviewed by Elliott Walker.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth

Outside of a formal book club setting, would you enjoy the experience of meeting with people to discuss books you recently have read?

Yes, I already do this.
Yes, this is of interest to me.
Not sure how I feel

-Click here to answer our poll.


Which books that you recently have read (name up to three) would you like to discuss with others?

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth:

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 ADMISSION by Jean Hanff Korelitz, FIRST FAMILY by David Baldacci and TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on May 1st 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 April 30, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: BONEMAN'S DAUGHTERS by Ted Dekker, CURSED: A Regan Reilly Mystery by Carol Higgins Clark, FIRST FAMILY by David Baldacci, JUST TAKE MY HEART by Mary Higgins Clark and TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith. Edna from Smyrna, DE was last month's newsletter winner. She won 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.

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

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