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May 15, 2009 Newsletter May 15, 2009
The Week That Zipped By!
Well this week sure zipped by. There could not have been 24 hours in each of these last seven days. The house is quieter than usual today. My older son flew across the pond to merry old England to visit friends and "unwind from his year at school." Be amused at the last phrase; I am too. He is sailing back on the Queen Mary 2 in a few weeks where he and a friend are sharing a budget-minded inside cabin. Amazing how "inside cabin" is just fine when HE is paying. He has this trip planned to precision detail and is doing it for remarkably little money since he researched EVERY deal. He gets an A in vacation planning. My husband is at a college reunion with his friends where they are reliving their happy years at Lehigh. So it’s my younger son and me. I am tossing out endless suggestions for mother/son bonding time. He is looking at me like I am daft with all this enthusiasm.

My friend Annie is visiting for a couple of days. Today she sat by the pool and read A RELIABLE WIFE. It was fun hearing her feedback as she read, and she enjoyed this one as much as I did. She drove here from Michigan listening to HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. Hmmmm...sounds like she is going through our Bets On picks. You can read more about my latest selection --- THE PHOTOGRAPHER --- later in this newsletter and here. I also am very happy to share that CRAZY FOR THE STORM has been picked as the next Starbucks featured book. I am crazy about this book, so I'm thrilled to see it getting this attention.

It was a fun week, as well as a fast one. Monday night I went to a screening of Angels & Demons, which opens today. While it does not track the plot of the book completely, the movie is fast-paced and I enjoyed it. It's brisker and tighter than The Da Vinci Code movie was. I left the theater thinking the car scenes were Bond-like, the ticking clock each hour was reminiscent of "24," and the sets and visuals were brilliant. Most of the film was shot in the Los Angeles area, so the scenes of everything from the square outside the Vatican to the churches was created from drawings and architectural plans. For those of you who like the backstory on the making of movies,
ANGELS & DEMONS: THE ILLUSTRATED MOVIE COMPANION is available. The foreword by Dan Brown amused me as I read his comments on the differences between writing a book and creating a movie. I can imagine directors and producers taking a pause as they look at some of these sprawling stories and think....hmmm...if he just had spoken about this church and not THAT one, life would have been easier. Transporting characters on the page is far easier than in film.

Tuesday night I was one of the presenters at the
Children’s Book Council Awards Dinner. had been the partner for the initial nominees for this Teen Choice Award, so it was fun to announce the winners in that category. Fun evening as Al Roker presented the Impact Award to Whoopi Goldberg for her contributions to building excitement about books for children. She was a real class act and clearly was honored to accept the award. (When her show "Whoopi" was on TV, the boys and I were huge fans. There was one episode where she was a victim of identity theft. Since then I think of her whenever I punch in my ATM password.) You can see the full list of winners here.

I learned this week that Books-A-Million has chosen THE LAST CHILD by John Hart as its latest President's Pick and will give customers who buy the book a free copy of either THE KING OF LIES or DOWN RIVER, previous titles by Hart. We at have been fans of Hart’s since his first book, and while the other books were wonderful, THE LAST CHILD takes his writing up a whole other level. While writing a brilliantly paced thriller, he has also written a book that is emotionally sensitive. I have spent time with John at a few conferences over the years, and I am happy to see recognition like this coming his way. His writing deserves it. We will feature our review next week.

Two other authors who will be familar to many of our veteran readers have responded to advance readers' questions about their latest books. Click here to read Lisa Jackson's responses to questions submitted by the advance readers of MALICE. Click here to read Nancy Bush's reponses to questions submitted by the advance readers of UNSEEN.

Many people are going through huge changes in their lives these days as a result of the economy. Also, this is the time of year when people graduate and start new challenges. A great book to share at a time like this is THE FIRST 30 DAYS, which is now available in paperback. It’s not only a guidebook to getting through change, but also an empowering look at how to think about change, including ways to strengthen your "change muscle," since change is a part of life and readying yourself for it is smart.

Last weekend I bought two four-shelf bookcases. These have my current "to be read" books (I was tired of the pile by my bed falling over), books I have read and want to write about here, and my favorite titles from over the years, some of which are out of print. Just looking at these shelves makes me happy. Memories and anticipation are two wonderful things. The pool is open (though we need a few less 50-degree nights before I think about swimming), the flowers are planted (I did a speed planting last Saturday) and the lounge chairs are out (thank you, Annie). Now if the forecast ONLY did not call for RAIN, I would be happy. The good thing about reading: It can happen rain or shine. Have a great on.....

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Theaters: Angels & Demons
Though spring is definitely in the air this May,’s Books into Movies feature boasts the first taste of this year’s summer blockbuster season with the hugely anticipated Angels & Demons, which is now in theaters. In this adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestseller, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon of The Da Vinci Code fame takes on a secret organization set out to destroy the Vatican. Controversies aside, Angels & Demons promises to be dark, creepy, nail-biting, thought-provoking, and just plain fun.

For those of you interested in the backstory on the film, check out ANGELS & DEMONS: THE ILLUSTRATED MOVIE COMPANION. This lavishly illustrated book details the filmmakers' extraordinary work to bring the bestselling thriller novel to the screen. Featuring a foreword by Dan Brown, and introductions by director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer, and executive producer/2nd unit director Todd Hallowell, this companion moviebook captures the film's amazing visuals with over 270 color illustrations, including movie stills, archival images, storyboard art, period paintings, and digital production art.


Click here for more details about Angels & Demons.

Now in Stores: WICKED PREY by John Sandford
WICKED PREY by John Sandford (Thriller)
The Republicans are coming to St. Paul for their convention. Throwing a big party is supposed to be fun, but crashing the party are a few hard cases the police would rather stayed away. Chief among them is a crew of professional stickup men who have spotted several lucrative opportunities, ranging from political moneymen with briefcases full of cash to that armored-car warehouse with the weakness in its security system. All that’s headache enough for Lucas Davenport --- but what’s about to hit him is even worse. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WICKED PREY.

Click here to read a review of WICKED PREY.

Now in Stores: BRIMSTONE by Robert B. Parker
BRIMSTONE by Robert B. Parker (Western)
Bestselling author Robert B. Parker returns to the western genre in BRIMSTONE, the third installment in his series featuring hired guns Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Having located and saved the love of Virgil’s life, Allie French, the gunmen take work as deputies in Brimstone and quickly get involved in a power struggle between a well-armed preacher and a saloon owner. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

Click here to read a review of BRIMSTONE. Talks to Robert Goolrick, Author of A RELIABLE WIFE's Carol Fitzgerald and Norah Piehl recently talked to Robert Goolrick, author of the critically acclaimed bestseller A RELIABLE WIFE. In this interview, Goolrick elaborates on the novel's recurring themes of power and redemption, and explains how he drew inspiration for it from Michael Lesy's WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP, as well as a children's picture book written in the 1940s. He also shares what surprised him the most about the ways in which his characters took shape, reflects on how aspects of his own life have surfaced in the text, and discusses his next book, which is based on a true story.

A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick (Fiction)
Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

-Click here to read a review of A RELIABLE WIFE.
-Click here to read an excerpt from A RELIABLE WIFE.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for A RELIABLE WIFE.

Click here to read our interview with Robert Goolrick. Bets On...: Books We're Betting You'll Love

With thousands of books published each year and much attention paid to the works of bestselling and well-known authors, it is inevitable that some titles worthy of praise and discussion may not get the attention we think they deserve. Thus throughout 2009, we will be spotlighting books written by debut or up-and-coming authors that immediately struck a chord with us and made us say “just read this.” Our plan is to alert our readers about these titles as soon as they’re released so you can discover them for yourselves and recommend them to your family and friends.

Here is our latest featured title:

THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without BordersA> by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefèvre and Frederic Lemercier (May 12th): THE PHOTOGRAPHER is a stunningly original work that tells the story of Didier Lefèvre’s 1986 journey with Doctors Without Borders into Afghanistan through photos and graphic panels. Written and drawn by Emmanuel Guibert and designed by Frederic Lemercier, the dramatic and personal story of Lefèvre’s journey will both inform and haunt you. Lefèvre’s photos are dramatic essays unto themselves, but set as they are to punctuate the drawings and story, readers will feel they are in the story, not merely watching from the sidelines. Guibert’s work portrays both Lefèvre’s triumphs and anguishes, and he paces the book wonderfully.

Beyond telling Lefèvre’s story of this trip, one of seven that he made into Afghanistan, readers will get to know more about the missions of Doctors Without Borders. I had not been aware of the physically stressful aspect of these missions as the doctors trekked long distances from Pakistan to get to their outposts. Reading about the U.S.’s position in Afghanistan in the ’80s will inform and maybe even surprise readers. We were aiding the fight with the Russians, giving pause as one reflects on what is going on in this part of the world today.

A great personal story first, a political story second, THE PHOTOGRAPHER is a book that is perfect to introduce to readers who previously might have overlooked graphic novels, as well as one to be savored as a milestone work by those who already enjoy the format.

here to look inside THE PHOTOGRAPHER.


Click here to see all the titles we're betting you'll love.

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.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from CRAZY FOR THE STORM.
-Click here to read Norman Ollestad’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for CRAZY FOR THE STORM.
-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.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

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: Kevin Wignall, Author of PEOPLE DIE

Kevin Wignall knows how to craft a gripping espionage thriller. In 2008, his novel WHO IS CONRAD HIRST? was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. In PEOPLE DIE, Wignall's first title re-released by Pinnacle Books, a renowned assassin finds himself on the run for his life.

here to read a second excerpt from PEOPLE DIE.
here to read Kevin Wignall’s bio.
here to see Kevin Wignall's backlist.
here to read critical praise for PEOPLE DIE.
-Visit Kevin Wignall’s official website,
here to see our advance copy winners.

More about
In the assassination game, everything can change with a single bullet. For the first time, the predator now finds himself the prey. How can a hit man outsmart another hit man? International hit man JJ must stay one step ahead of his enemies as he fights to expose a dangerous conspiracy --- and live to kill another day.


Click here to read more about Kevin Wignall and PEOPLE DIE.

Now in Stores: WORST NIGHTMARES by Shane Briant

WORST NIGHTMARES by Shane Briant (Thriller)
WORST NIGHTMARES is an unforgettable debut novel that tells the story of the homicidal "Dream Healer," who snares his victims via his website, seduces them into revealing their innermost fears and then revisits their very own nightmares upon them.

"All the danger, treachery, and suspense a reader could ask for. Shane Briant has the touch."
--Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author


Learn more about WORST NIGHTMARES and Shane Briant at

Now Available in Paperback: ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING by Janelle Brown
"Its unapologetically soapy mix of teen sex, quarter-life crisis, food porn, and mean-girl politics make it...perfect for June: a summery, old-fashioned page turner."

A national bestseller, this exhilarating, confident and darkly comic novel tells the story of a Silicon Valley family in free-fall over the course of one eventful summer --- a perfect companion for the beach bag.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING.

Click here to read more about ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING.

2009 Spring Baseball Roundup

There have been lots of happy moments in the 150-plus-year history of baseball. But there have also been some devastating ones. Both are represented among this year’s assortment of books about the national pastime. Join’s Ron Kaplan as he reviews titles that focus on embattled superstar Manny Ramirez; controversial Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley; the legendary New York Yankees teams of the ’50s and ’60s; the ups and downs of the New York Mets franchise; the private world of baseball umpires in the minor and major leagues; and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Click here to read Ron Kaplan’s roundup of spring baseball titles.

The 2009 Children's Choice Book Award Winners
The Children's Book Council announced the winners of the second annual Children's Choice Book Awards during a gala held in New York on May 12th, as part of Children's Book Week (May 11-17th). Recipients of the award were selected by over 220,000 online votes by kids across the country through the website

Now in its second year, the Children's Choice Book Awards Program was founded as a way to provide young readers the opportunity to voice their opinions about the books being written for them, as well as to help create a reading list that will help motivate children to read more, and to cultivate a love of reading.

Click here to see the winners of the 2009 Children's Choice Book Awards.

This Week's Reviews

THE 8th CONFESSION by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Thriller)
As the hunt for two criminals tests the limits of the Women's Murder Club, Detective Lindsay Boxer sees sparks fly between reporter Cindy Thomas and her partner, Detective Rich Conklin. The Women's Murder Club now faces its toughest challenge: will love destroy all that four friends have built? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE 8th CONFESSION.

CEMETERY DANCE by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Supernatural Thriller)
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child reprise FBI Special Agent Pendergast and Lieutenant D'Agosta to solve a grisly murder that appears to have been committed by a Zombii. The tension is palpable and the story fascinating, especially if you enjoy a well-plotted, tightly woven narrative and a character-focused tale. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

THE WAY HOME by George Pelecanos (Thriller)
George Pelecanos, an award-winning novelist and writer-producer of HBO’s “The Wire,” returns with THE WAY HOME, a novel of family, faith and temptation that deeply analyzes the impact of decisions and how the past eventually catches up with the present. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

MARINE ONE by James W. Huston (Political Thriller)
The President rushes across the South Lawn through a pounding thunderstorm to Marine One to fly to Camp David late at night. His advisers plead with him not to fly, but he insists. He has arranged a meeting that only three people in his administration know about. After fighting its way through the brutal thunderstorm on the way to Camp David, Marine One crashes into a ravine in Maryland, killing all aboard. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Visit James W. Huston’s official website,

FLINT AND SILVER: A Prequel to Treasure Island by John Drake (Fiction/Action & Adventure)
Fans of Robert Louis Stevenson’s beloved classic TREASURE ISLAND were enthralled by the gripping tales of piracy on the high seas. But they were also left with a number of questions, such as: Just how did Long John Silver lose his leg? And where did his parrot come from? John Drake, himself a fan of TREASURE ISLAND, seeks to answer these and many other questions in FLINT AND SILVER. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

BROOKLYN by Colm Tóibín (Fiction)
Although it’s a relatively slight work when compared to its prize-winning predecessor, THE MASTER, a brilliant treatment of the life of Henry James, Colm Tóibín’s latest novel is a warm and finely-observed tale of one young immigrant woman’s coming of age in the America of the early 1950s. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

THE UNINCORPORATED MAN by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin (Science Fiction)
The future is a wondrous place of peace, prosperity, technological advancement and space travel. It is also a society built entirely on human incorporation. This lack of self-ownership comes as a marked loss of freedom to one 21st-century tycoon who awakes from a cryogenic sleep in this new world and seeks to free the people. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

COOP: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting by Michael Perry (Memoir)
Michael Perry's new farm was not much like the one he grew up on. It didn't have sheep or cows --- in fact, it had no animals at all. It lacked the noise of a big family; there was just Perry and his wife, Anneliese, and young daughter Amy. But this small family had dreams of free-range chickens, a bountiful garden and fat pigs, and set out to make their newly acquired patch of Wisconsin land home. Perry chronicles their first year on the farm in his latest book, COOP. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

EVEN by Andrew Grant (Thriller)
Lieutenant Commander David Trevellyan stumbles upon a corpse in an alley and, against his better judgment, stops to take a closer look. If he hadn’t, none of what happened following that would have occurred and he would have been safely back home in London right on schedule. As it turned out, his trip was delayed by his efforts to clear his name and save lives. Including his own. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

LIFE WITHOUT SUMMER by Lynne Griffin (Fiction)
Debut novelist Lynne Griffin tells the story of Tessa, a mother who has just lost her four-year-old daughter in a hit-and-run accident and the grief counselor, Celia, who tries to help put her life back together. When their lives begin to intersect in powerful and unexpected ways, they discover that the answers one needs might be the other’s only chance for peace. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.


Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: Twitter

Are you on Twitter?

Yes, I follow and post faithfully.
Yes, I follow faithfully.
I am on once in a while.
I have heard about this, and would like to try it.
I have no interest in this.

-Click here to answer our poll.


On Twitter you would post a tweet of 140 characters (not words, but characters). Give us 140 characters about a book that you love.

-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 THE LATE, LAMENTED MOLLY MARX by Sally Koslow, SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See and THE SIGN by Raymond Khoury. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on June 5th 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 May 31, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: GONE TOMORROW: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child, ROAD DOGS by Elmore Leonard, THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly, SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See and THE SIGN by Raymond Khoury. Jacki from Burlington, VT was last month's newsletter winner. She won 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.

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