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September 11, 2009 Newsletter September 11, 2009
We're Back!
We’re back! Thank you to all of the readers who wrote notes to congratulate us on our 13th anniversary. I responded to many, but not all of you, and will try to get caught up on those that I missed over the weekend. (More on why that was delayed in a few.) I shared your sentiments with the staff and we all really enjoyed reading the comments on the blog. You really made the start of our vacation time terrific with that sendoff.

The Outer Banks were wonderful. While the weather was not perfect, just being in a place I love like that was special. Now while I was away, I was thinking of you. Seriously, I was. And to prove it, you can see the blog here where I talk about my vacation reading --- 11 books in 10 days. Each book was picked to be read for a reason, and I include that with my copy about what I read. I did a lot of thinking about that while I was gone --- why I picked up what I was reading. It’s very interesting to do that little exercise.

Joe Hartlaub reviews two of the books that I read this week. On Chelsea Cain’s EVIL AT HEART, he says, “as with the previous books, this stands as a landmark exploration of the darkest reaches of the human psyche, where love, passion, and something unnamable and unknowable intersect.” I am not sure what it says about me that I love reading about Gretchen the serial killer in Cain’s books, but I do. The second book is 31 HOURS by Masha Hamilton, and it’s one of the best novels that I have read this year. Masha is a journalist and she brings this sensibility to her fiction writing. She also has spent time in Afghanistan and thus brings knowledge of the atmosphere in the Middle East to infuse her writing. As Joe says about it, “A thriller in every sense of the word, it is also a work of literary fiction, a cautionary tale for the times taking place somewhere at this moment and for the foreseeable future.”

A.J. Jacobs's new book, THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES, is also out this week. As many of you know, A.J. has put himself through many "experiments" through the years, which he then writes about. Many times he has referenced his wife as the most patient woman on earth. His book party was held Wednesday night, and it was a celebration of his wife on the night of their 9th anniversary. It was a ton of fun, and you want to read both the interview with him and the review that were done so well by Ron Kaplan.

Greg was not with us on our trip as he was off to college already (and for those who were wondering, someone did manage to bring a microwave and a television, so I can check shopping for those off my list). Cory was wrapping up the last of his summer reading and his project to write letters to authors for three of the books he had read.

Two of the authors to whom he wrote are deceased, which he was getting a kick out of, writing to dead people. He wrote to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. that "he would like to see a sequel to CAT’S CRADLE, but he thought that might be hard to do." I foolishly asked if it was hard because of the way the book ended. He looked at me and said, “No, it would be hard because he is dead.” He was wondering if the teacher would be smart enough to pick up on this. Okay, he has his mom’s sense of humor. I so look forward to Back to School Night.

Sadly when I was gone, Sheila Lukins, the co-author of THE SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK series, passed away. There was a very nice obituary written about her in The New York Times, which you can read here. When I was first married, I read these books like they were novels. I learned a lot about blending flavors, and some of my favorite recipes today are from these books. I loved the sidebars where I got tips as much as I did the actual recipes. Many meal memories come from those recipes through the years, and I should cook something from one of the books this weekend as my own personal remembrance of her.

In the interest of sharing media that pertains to books, the other night I was watching “Swords” on the History Channel about swordfish fishing when my husband walked in and pointed out that Linda Greenlaw, the author of THE HUNGRY OCEAN, was one of the four featured captains. It’s really well done and is airing on Tuesday nights. Here’s a link to some info about it so you can check airtimes in your area.

THE most highly anticipated book of fall --- and probably the year --- hits stores on Tuesday, THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown. I am going to the launch party on Monday night and am looking forward to it. Here is a terrific video where they give you an inside look at the production of the book. I never had seen something like this before, and it was very interesting. You can find games and clues about the book at Our poll question asks if you plan to read the book...and how quickly you plan to get to it. Vote and let us know.

Releasing on Monday is TRUE COMPASS by Edward Kennedy, which has been highly anticipated by many folks on both sides of the aisle. While we were traveling I watched “Teddy: In His Own Words,” the HBO special, and it definitely piqued my interest in the book. Both THE LOST SYMBOL and TRUE COMPASS are embargoed, which means we do not have copies in-house for our reviewers, but we will get our reviews posted as soon as we can.

By the way, as proof that we listen to our readers, in response to notes from some of you asking if we could post our New in Paperback feature on the first Friday of the month instead of the last, this week (our first update of the month) you can find this feature. We urge you to keep talking and sharing ideas. Some of our best concepts for features have come from you! Speaking of which, if you like this newsletter may we ask that you forward it on to a friend or send them this link to sign up? After all, it’s September and time to get back to the books.

Speaking of books, we are looking for some interns here in our New York office. It's a terrific opportunity for someone who is in school looking for some practical experience, or someone who is between jobs and looking for some outside stimulation. These positions are unpaid, but we have more than a few books around here to share and we've been told we are a lot of fun to spend the day with. If you, or someone you know, is interested, click here to fill out the application form.

While I was away, Cristina Costales was back in the office creating a Facebook page for Here we will share our blog posts, but also throughout the week we will share news that we hear that we think will be of interest to our readers. Interested in keeping up with us more than once a week? Then become a fan of here.

As you know, I enjoy getting out on the road to meet authors and readers. So I am very happy to share that on the weekend of October 2-4 I will be at the Fairmont Scottsdale Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona for what promises to be a terrific weekend for book lovers, especially those of you who are in book groups. It’s part of a group of six weekends of author events running from October through early December that they are calling "Season of Personal Discovery" Weekend Getaways. Each themed weekend includes a three-day/two-night stay at the resort, exclusive admission to the Friday "Meet the Authors" welcome cocktail reception, Saturday book readings, reminiscences, demonstrations, "Q&A" sessions, a Saturday evening "Mix & Mingle" cocktail reception and gala dinner, a farewell breakfast Sunday morning and a keepsake "Season" gift. Want to read more about these weekends? Click here.

We’ve received some nice feedback from our advance readers of VANISHED by Joseph Finder and CORNERED by Brandon Massey. Click on the authors' names to read their comments. We also have updated our Books Into Movies feature.

For those of you who know teens aged 14-18, we have a special survey opportunity for them open at

Oh, and why are my replies to your lovely emails late? Well, Mercury went retrograde on Monday…and our longtime readers know about me and Mercury. Monday, my laptop got hit with spyware that is not cleared by any virus program...thus that had to go to the shop. My BlackBerry stopped working, and when it started working it deleted all the previous emails. So that, my friends, is my version of “the dog ate my homework.” Mercury stays like this for 21 days, so until September 29th with me, if anything can break electronically, it will. Another reason for me not to own a Kindle or I would not be reading. Have a great week. Happy reading, and hey, it’s nice to be back talking to you.

Carol Fitzgerald (
Click here to read the Blog. Talks to A.J. Jacobs, Author of THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES

Always in search of a new challenge, A.J. Jacobs --- author of the New York Times bestsellers THE KNOW-IT-ALL and THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY --- looked to "understand the mysteries of modern life" in his newest work of nonfiction, THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES. In this interview with's Ron Kaplan, Jacobs talks about what inspired this latest endeavor and explains how such activities as posing in the nude, pretending to be a celebrity while crashing the Academy Awards, practicing radical honesty and outsourcing his everyday tasks to a team in India changed his outlook on life. He also likens his experiences of returning to his normal self to cult deprogramming, gives insight into how his wife deals with his extreme behavior, and shares details about his next project, a quest to become the healthiest person alive.

THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs (Humor)
For his first book, THE KNOW-IT-ALL, A.J. Jacobs read the entire Encyclopædia Britannica from cover to cover in a quest to learn everything in the world. In THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY, he followed every single rule of the Bible. Now comes a collection of his most hilarious and thought-provoking experiments yet. In his role as human guinea pig, Jacobs fearlessly takes on a series of life-altering challenges that provides readers with equal parts insight and humor. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

-Click here to read a review of THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES.
-Visit A.J. Jacobs’s official website,


Click here to read our interview with A.J. Jacobs. Talks to Shandi Mitchell, Author of UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY
Shandi Mitchell's debut novel, UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY, is the result of a project decades in the making, inspired by a tragic event in her family's history. In this interview with's Bronwyn Miller, Mitchell --- an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter --- discusses the book's origins as a screenplay and explains how it eventually evolved into a work of prose. She also sheds light on some of the complexities of her characters, describes how her childhood surroundings in the Canadian prairies have impacted her both personally and professionally, and muses on how her story might continue after the book concludes.

UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY by Shandi Mitchell (Fiction)
Building to an unforgettable climax, this is the story of a 1930s immigrant family trying to survive the harsh Canadian prairies, where small and innocent acts have enormous and catastrophic consequences. From a passionate new voice in the world of literary fiction, UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY is a tribute to the resiliency of the human spirit told with great sensitivity and cinematic aplomb. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read a review of UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY.
-Click here to read an excerpt from UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY.

Click here to read our interview with Shandi Mitchell.

Now in Stores: EVIL AT HEART by Chelsea Cain
EVIL AT HEART by Chelsea Cain (Thriller)
HEARTSICK & SWEETHEART were both multi-week bestsellers in The New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly. In EVIL AT HEART, Gretchen is on the loose and Archie is hospitalized after his ploy to catch her went spectacularly wrong. They've entered a detente of sorts --- Archie agrees not to kill himself if she agrees not to kill anyone else. But suddenly there's something else to contend with --- a copycat, killing people as an homage to the Beauty Killer herself.

-Click here to read a review of EVIL AT HEART.

-Click here to read an excerpt from EVIL AT HEART.
Click here to read more about EVIL AT HEART.

Now in Stores: HEAVEN'S KEEP by William Kent Krueger
HEAVEN’S KEEP by William Kent Krueger (Mystery)
When a charter plane carrying Cork O'Connor's wife, Jo, goes missing in a snowstorm over the Wyoming Rockies, Cork must accept the terrible truth that his wife is gone forever. But is she? In HEAVEN’S KEEP, celebrated author William Kent Krueger puts his intrepid hero through the most harrowing mission of his life. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

-Click here to read an excerpt from HEAVEN’S KEEP.
-Click here to watch our interview with William Kent Krueger.

Click here to read a review of HEAVEN'S KEEP.

Special Contest: Win the Celia Rivenbark Gift Basket, Including a Copy of Her New Title, YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING
We’re celebrating the release of YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING --- Celia Rivenbark’s hilarious new collection of essays --- with a special contest. In a wicker basket, one lucky Grand Prize winner will receive a finished copy of YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING, which is now available in stores, a copy of the YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING audiobook, a toothbrush, a martini glass and recipe cards, as well as a copy of each of Celia Rivenbark’s backlist titles, which include BELLE WEATHER, BLESS YOUR HEART, TRAMP, STOP DRESSING YOUR SIX-YEAR-OLD LIKE A SKANK and WE’RE JUST LIKE YOU, ONLY PRETTIER. Fifteen additional readers each will receive a finished copy of YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING.

Enter between now and Monday, September 30th by filling out the form found here.

From religion to recipes, from carpooling to cat whispering, bestselling author Celia Rivenbark gives voice to the hilarious, the hateful, the horrible, and the heaven-help-us. Pull up a chair and sit next to Celia --- she says the things we only dare to think! Complete with a treasure trove of Celia’s favorite slacker-mom recipes, YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING will make you want to grab an ice-cold glass of sweet-tea-flavored vodka and turn up the oven on that tuna casserole.

-Click here to read more about YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING on
-Click here to read an excerpt from YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING.

Click here for more details about the contest and how to enter.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Nevada Barr, Author of 13 1/2
Nevada Barr is the New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Anna Pigeon novels. In 13 1/2, Barr weaves a terrifying stand-alone thriller in which a respected professor of literature begins suspecting that there might be a connection between her beau and a series of gruesome murders that occurred decades earlier. 13 1/2 will be available in stores on September 29th.

-Click here to read an excerpt from 13 1/2.
-Click here to read Nevada Barr’s bio.
-Click here to see Nevada Barr's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for 13 1/2.
-Visit Nevada Barr’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about 13 1/2:
With 13 1/2, Nevada Barr, New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Anna Pigeon novels, has written a taut and terrifying psychological thriller. It carries the reader from the horrifying 1970s murder spree of a child --- dubbed “Butcher Boy” by a shocked public --- in Rochester, Minnesota, to Polly, the abused daughter of Mississippi “trailer trash,” to post-Katrina New Orleans. Bestselling Jeffery Deaver raves that 13 1/2 "is a hands-down winner!”

Click here to read more about Nevada Barr and 13 1/2.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: R.J. Ellory, Author of A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS

R.J. Ellory is the author of five novels being released in the U.S. by Overlook Press. A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS, which has earned international acclaim, was a Richard & Judy Book Club selection in 2008 and was shortlisted for the American Barry Award for Best British Crime Fiction. In A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS, which is now available in stores, Ellory blends literary style into a mesmerizing and haunting crime story.

-Click here to read an excerpt from A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.
-Click here to read R.J. Ellory’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.
-Visit R.J. Ellory’s official website,
-Visit the official website for the book,
-Click here to watch a video in which R.J. Ellory discusses A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

Growing up in rural Georgia during the 1940s, Joseph Vaughan finds himself at the center of a series of mutilations and killings of young girls. The killers are never caught, and Joseph, an aspiring writer, continues to be haunted by the murders. Years later he sets out to forge a new life in New York. But even there the past won’t leave him alone --- for it seems that the murderer still lives and is killing again, and that the secret to his identity lies in Joseph’s own history.


Click here to read more about R.J. Ellory and A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Michael Walsh, Author of HOSTILE INTENT
Born on the United States Marine Corps base, Michael Walsh comes from a long line of American servicemen. His debut novel, ÉXCHANGE ALLEY, was a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection upon its publication in 1997 and still a cult favorite today. It was followed by AS TIME GOES BY, the controversial sequel to the movie Casablanca, which has been translated into 22 languages. In HOSTILE INTENT, his new novel now in stores, someone is trying to draw a covert government agent out of the shadows through acts of terror.

-Click here to read an excerpt from HOSTILE INTENT.
-Click here to read Michael Walsh’s bio.
-Click here to see Michael Walsh's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for HOSTILE INTENT.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

It starts with the unthinkable --- the most horrific act of violence ever committed on American soil --- and only one man can stop them.

Michael Walsh --- New York Times bestselling author of AS TIME GOES BY --- is back with his first military thriller about an ultra-top secret US Government-Op, whose real identity is known only by a select few in the highest echelons of Washington, D.C. Someone is trying to draw him out by putting America’s citizens in the crosshairs --- and they will continue the slaughter until they get what they want.
Click here to read more about Michael Walsh and HOSTILE INTENT.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Alan Jacobson, Author of CRUSH

Alan Jacobson is the national bestselling author of the critically acclaimed thriller THE 7th VICTIM, which was named to Library Journal’s “Best Books of the Year” list for 2008. With CRUSH, Jacobson again delivers an enthralling novel in which Karen Vail, the memorable heroine of THE 7th VICTIM, faces the most evil serial killer of her career. CRUSH will be available in stores on September 22nd.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from CRUSH.
-Click here to read Alan Jacobson’s bio.
-Click here to see Alan Jacobson's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for CRUSH.
-Visit Alan Jacobson’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about CRUSH:
Fresh off the most challenging case of her career, THE 7th VICTIM heroine and renowned FBI profiler Karen Vail returns in an explosive thriller set against the backdrop of California’s wine country. Meticulously researched during years of work with the FBI profiling unit and extensive interviews with wine industry professionals, bestselling author Alan Jacobson delivers a high-velocity thriller featuring the kind of edge of-your-seat ending that inspired Nelson DeMille to call him “a hell of a writer.”


Click here to read more about Alan Jacobson and CRUSH.

Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Beverly Barton, Author of SILENT KILLER

New York Times bestselling author Beverly Barton has written over 50 contemporary romance novels and is a two-time Maggie Award winner, a two-time National Readers’ Choice Award winner and the recipient of a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Adventure. In SILENT KILLER, her new romantic suspense novel now in stores, an Alabama town becomes the target of a serial killer on a quest for vengeance.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from SILENT KILLER.
-Click here to read Beverly Barton’s bio.
-Click here to see Beverly Barton's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for SILENT KILLER.
-Visit Beverly Barton’s official website,
-Click here to watch a trailer for SILENT KILLER.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

SILENT KILLER is the searing new thriller from award-winning and national bestselling author Beverly Barton. A serial killer is at work --- one whose rage grows more vicious each day --- and in a town full of secrets, trusting the wrong person could be deadly.


Click here to read more about Beverly Barton and SILENT KILLER.

New in Paperback for September
September’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes THE ASSOCIATE, a page-turning legal thriller from John Grisham about a young lawyer who faces extortion, murder and industrial espionage; JUST AFTER SUNSET, Stephen King’s first short story collection since EVERYTHING’S EVENTUAL, containing 13 gripping tales; THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE, David Wroblewski’s extraordinary debut about a boy who finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil; THE GIVEN DAY, Dennis Lehane's long-awaited eighth novel, which captures the political and social unrest of a nation caught at the crossroads between past and future at the end of the First World War; AN OUTRAGEOUS AFFAIR by Penny Vincenzi, an absorbing tale of Hollywood scandal, English aristocracy and (of course) some outrageous affairs; and HURRY DOWN SUNSHINE, Michael Greenberg’s powerful memoir in which he retells his teenage daughter’s first psychotic break and its immediate aftermath.
Click here to see our New in Paperback feature for September.

What's New This Month on

With more than 2,700 discussion guides now available, continues to be the leading place for book clubs to find all the resources they need on the web.

Our Blog continues to be a big hit among our readers. Throughout the month we are sharing postings from regular contributors --- including authors, librarians, book club facilitators, booksellers and experts in the publishing industry --- as well as special guests. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Sofie Laguna: Writing ONE FOOT WRONG
-Elizabeth Strout and Olive Kitteridge
-Talking with Masha Hamilton
-Encore Authors
-Holly Goddard Jones: Not Based on True Events

The following guides are now available on

ALEX & ME: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence -- and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene M. Pepperberg: Irene was 28 when she bought Alex, a one-year-old African gray parrot. Little did she know that 30 years later Alex would pass away as the smartest --- and most famous --- parrot to ever live.
ALEXANDER AND ALESTRIA by Shan Sa: The imaginative tale of the dramatic love affair between Alexander the Great and Alestria, queen of the Amazons, when both are at the height of their powers.
AMERICA LIBRE by Raul Ramos y Sanchez: When undercover detectives in San Antonio accidentally kill a young Latina bystander during a botched drug bust, riots erupt across the Southwest.
BLAME by Michelle Huneven: BLAME is a spellbinding novel of guilt and love, family and shame, sobriety and the lack of it, and the moral ambiguities that ensnare us all.
THE BLUE STAR by Tony Earley: This is a timeless and moving story of discovery, loss and growing up, proving why Tony Earley's writing "radiates with a largeness of heart" (Esquire).
THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Irene Sabatini: The Way We Were set in Zimbabwe after independence, a moving and powerful love story set against the backdrop of political upheaval.
BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS by Lola Jaye: Already a national bestseller in the U.K., Lola Jaye’s BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS is a profoundly beautiful story of a father’s abiding love for the daughter he will never see grow up.
A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE by Anita Shreve: The new novel about the fragility of a young marriage from one of our greatest chroniclers of the mysteries of the human heart.
DAMAS, DRAMAS, AND ANA RUIZ: A Quinceañera Club Novel by Belinda Acosta: “...a book about damas of all ages, from teenage girls to the struggling mothers of those teenage girls...” --Julia Alvarez, author of RETURN TO SENDER
THE FIRE by Katherine Neville: The spectacular chess game in THE EIGHT --- which captivated readers with exotic locales, fascinating historic figures and a labyrinthine plot --- returns in force in the dazzling sequel: THE FIRE!
A GATE AT THE STAIRS by Lorrie Moore: A dazzling new novel by the author of BIRDS OF AMERICA --- an ambitious book about post-9/11 anxiety, race, war and love.
GIRL TROUBLE: Stories by Holly Goddard Jones: Rona Jaffe Award winner Holly Goddard Jones’s debut short story collection, set around small-town Southerners caught in moral and sometimes mortal quandaries.
THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED by Wally Lamb: A profound and heart-rending work of fiction. Wally Lamb proves himself a virtuoso storyteller, assembling a variety of voices and an ensemble of characters rich enough to evoke all of humanity.
I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU: A Novel About Best Friends by Lucinda Rosenfeld: A smart, darkly humorous and uncannily dead-on novel about female friendship.
INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH by Luis Alberto Urrea: Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the fence.
THE KING'S DAUGHTER: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen by Sandra Worth: In this groundbreaking novel, award-winning author Sandra Worth vividly brings to life the people’s queen, “Elizabeth the Good.”
THE LOST DOG by Michelle de Kretser: Tom Loxley, an Indian-Australian professor, is less concerned with finishing his book on Henry James than with finding his dog, who is lost in the Australian bush.
A MERCY by Toni Morrison: An ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother and a daughter --- a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.
MISTRESS OF THE VATICAN: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope by Eleanor Herman: A scintillating biography of a powerful yet little-known woman whose remarkable story is ripe with secrets, sex, passion and ambition.
THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi: In the tradition of Erik Larson's THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, Douglas Preston weaves a captivating account of crime and punishment in the lush hills of Florence, Italy.
MY NAME IS WILL: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare by Jess Winfield: In this retelling of William Shakespeare's youth, his story is paired with that of another Shakespeare: a struggling graduate student in Reagan-era California.
THE NIGHT GARDENER by George Pelecanos: George Pelecanos achieves in THE NIGHT GARDENER what his brilliant career has been building toward: a novel that is a perfect union of suspense, character and unstoppable fate.
NO IMPACT MAN: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan: What would your life be like if you had zero impact on the environment? Colin Beavan tackled this question, embarking on a yearlong experiment with his wife and their toddler.
ONCE ON A MOONLESS NIGHT by Dai Sijie: From the author of BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS, a haunting tale of love and the beguiling power of a lost language.
ONE FOOT WRONG by Sofie Laguna: For Hester, the only child of religiously reclusive parents, the outside world is forbidden. But once she catches a glimpse of what she’s been missing, escaping her sheltered life becomes something worth fighting for.
THE PRIVATE PAPERS OF EASTERN JEWEL by Maureen Lindley: An electrifying epic page-turner, based on the incredible true story of a princess turned spy.
A QUESTION OF FREEDOM: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison by R. Dwayne Betts: A beautifully, brutally honest memoir about one imprisoned boy’s harrowing journey towards freedom and manhood.
A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS by R.J. Ellory: A thrilling --- and often chilling --- tale that not only evokes strong emotions but asks important questions about our own morality.
REASONS FOR AND ADVANTAGES OF BREATHING: Stories by Lydia Peelle: Lydia Peelle brings together eight brilliant stories --- two of which won Pushcart Prizes and one of which won an O. Henry Prize --- that peer straight into the human heart.
REQUIEM OF THE HUMAN SOUL by Jeremy R. Lent: The human race is on trial at the U.N. in the late 22nd century. At stake... its continued existence.
THE SARI SHOP WIDOW by Shobhan Bantwal: Shobhan Bantwal’s compelling new novel is set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey’s Little India, where a young businesswoman rediscovers the magic of love and family.
SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM by Uwem Akpan: Each story in this collection is a testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing situations our planet can offer.
A SEPARATE COUNTRY by Robert Hicks: Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A SEPARATE COUNTRY is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army --- and one of its most tragic figures.
SERENA by Ron Rash: A gothic tale of greed, corruption and revenge set against the backdrop of the 1930s wilderness and America’s burgeoning environmental movement.
SISTERS & HUSBANDS by Connie Briscoe: Ten years have passed since SISTERS & LOVERS, and Beverly, now 39, is engaged to Julian, a man her family and friends agree is the epitome of a great catch.
SKUNK: A Love Story by Justin Courter: This darkly hilarious novel follows a social outcast who develops a bizarre addiction that he eventually overcomes when he discovers love.
SLUMBERLAND by Paul Beatty: Critical darling Paul Beatty's highly original, widely praised novel of race, identity and underground music.
STAND THE STORM by Breena Clarke: Even though Sewing Annie Coats and her son, Gabriel, have managed to buy their freedom, their lives are still marked by constant struggle and sacrifice.
A SUMMER AFFAIR by Elin Hilderbrand: Hearts break and emotions are pushed to the limit in this riveting story of one woman's attempt to deal with loves past and present, family, business and high-powered social pressures.
TIME OF MY LIFE by Allison Winn Scotch: One morning Jillian wakes up seven years in the past, and armed with 20-20 hindsight, she’s free to choose all over again.
TO LOVE WHAT IS: A Marriage Transformed by Alix Kates Shulman: In this elegant memoir, Alix Kates Shulman describes the ongoing anxieties and risks --- and surprising rewards --- she experiences as she reorganizes her world to care for her husband.
THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE by Josephine Hart: From the author of DAMAGE, a novel that opens with the accidental death of a teenage boy who commits one final, heartrending act of love.
THE TWELVE by William Gladstone: What will happen in 2012? The Mayans predicted the end of the world. In his novel THE TWELVE, William Gladstone forecasts a new beginning as the fate of all humanity rests in the balance.

Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

THE BRASS VERDICT by Michael Connelly
FREAKONOMICS: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
THE GIVEN DAY by Dennis Lehane
GOLDENGROVE by Francine Prose
HOME by Marilynne Robinson

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

AN EYE FOR AN EYE: Heroes of Quantico Series, Book 2 by Irene Hannon: A fast-paced tale of romance, suspense and intrigue, AN EYE FOR AN EYE is the exciting second book in the Heroes of Quantico series.
FOOLS RUSH IN: Weddings by Bella, Book 1 by Janice Thompson: Fun, fresh and full of surprises, this flavorful combination of Italian and Tex-Mex highlights the hilarity that ensues when cultures clash.
SWEETWATER RUN by Jan Watson: In 1891 in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, two young women stand at a crossroads. As they struggle with the realities of life, both learn to rely on their faith above all else.
A TASTE OF FAME: The Potluck Catering Club by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson: A TASTE OF FAME serves up the perfect blend of humor, misadventure and mouthwatering recipes. Fans new and old will love this exciting trip into the wild world of competitive cooking!
UNDER THE CAJUN MOON by Mindy Starns Clark: Mindy Starns Clark offers an exciting stand-alone novel, one full of Cajun mystery, hidden dangers and the glow of God’s unending grace.
WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE LOVELY: Must-Have Accessories for God's Perfect Peace by Rhonda Rhea: Using Philippians 4:8-9 as a springboard, Rhonda Rhea takes you on a fun adventure that can help you lead a more fruitful, blessed and peace-filled life.

Click here to visit

This Week's Reviews
THE LAST SONG by Nicholas Sparks (Fiction)
At first, 17-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller is angry when her mother forces her to spend time with her father in his North Carolina beach bungalow. But as the summer wears on, she discovers nuances and truths in both romantic and family love. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

THE WHITE QUEEN by Philippa Gregory (Historical Fiction)
Here’s a shocker: There’s a queen on board in Philippa Gregory’s new book, but she isn’t married to, divorced from, or beheaded by Henry VIII. The novel takes place during the 15th-century Wars of the Roses and features one of Gregory’s signature heroines: strong, drop-dead gorgeous, inclined toward spells and curses, and shockingly good at plotting. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

-Click here to read an interview with Philippa Gregory.

THE PROMISED WORLD by Lisa Tucker (Fiction)
Lisa Tucker, the bestselling author of THE CURE FOR MODERN LIFE and ONCE UPON A DAY, has penned a riveting story of suspense about a literature professor whose carefully constructed life is shattered after the death of her twin brother and the unraveling of the secret world they shared. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE PROMISED WORLD.

A GATE AT THE STAIRS by Lorrie Moore (Fiction)
Pulsing with intelligence and lacerating humor and showcasing Lorrie Moore’s uncanny ability to capture the free-floating anxiety that undoubtedly qualifies as the psychic disorder of our age, A GATE AT THE STAIRS is a tightly focused snapshot of our unsettled world. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for A GATE AT THE STAIRS.

31 HOURS by Masha Hamilton (Thriller)
Jonas Meitzner is isolated in a safe-house apartment near the Brooklyn Bridge and on a devastatingly confused path toward violence. His parents and his girlfriend have just 31 hours to reach him. Jonas’s absence from the lives of those who love him causes a cascade of events, and as the novel moves through the streets and subways of New York we come to know intimately the lives of its characters. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an interview with Masha Hamilton on the Blog.

THE SPIRE by Richard North Patterson (Mystery/Psychological Suspense)
Richard North Patterson’s latest effort is a razor-sharp thriller and murder mystery combined with an undercurrent of budding romance amongst complex characters and situations. Former Caldwell College football hero Mark Darrow returns after a few decades to take over the role of college president and finds himself in the midst of an embezzlement scandal and a decades-old murder mystery that hits close to home. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

THE AMATEURS by Marcus Sakey (Thriller)
In just three novels, Marcus Sakey has staked a claim as "an astoundingly good writer" (San Jose Mercury News), one whose believable characters --- always ordinary people --- face excruciating situations with life-or-death consequences. THE AMATEURS asks a chilling question: Do you get what you deserve, or what you take? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE SILENT HOUR: A Lincoln Perry Mystery by Michael Koryta (Mystery)
Fresh off the critical acclaim of his Los Angeles Times Book Prize-nominated ENVY THE NIGHT, Michael Koryta returns with a blistering new installment in the Lincoln Perry series. Once again he has crafted an intricate, lightning-paced thriller, ratcheting up the tension as he explores just how dangerous the offer of a second chance can be. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

L.A. NOIR: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City by John Buntin (History)
The history of 20th-century Los Angeles is told here through the duel biographies of LAPD Chief William Parker and mobster Mickey Cohen. This is the story we have only glimpsed through movies, television shows and crime novels over the years. It is also a sobering account of America’s racial divide. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

strong>GIRL IN A BLUE DRESS: A Novel Inspired by the Life and Marriage of Charles Dickens by Gaynor Arnold (Fiction)
First-time novelist Gaynor Arnold brilliantly reimagines the life and times of Charles Dickens in GIRL IN A BLUE DRESS, a novel whose well-crafted protagonist may ensure that readers never read Dickens quite the same way again. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth


Are you planning to read THE LOST SYMBOL, Dan Brown’s new book?

Yes, right away
Yes, when I can get to it
I am not sure.

If you plan to read THE LOST SYMBOL, how will you be reading it?

In hardcover
In eBook format
In an audiobook format
I will wait for the paperback.
I am not sure what I will do.
I am not planning to read it.

-Click here to answer our poll.


We’ve updated our Coming Soon feature with titles from September through December. Name up to 5 books releasing during these months that you’re most looking forward to reading.

-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 THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown, AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon and A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE by Anita Shreve
. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on September 25th 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 September 30, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH: A True Story by Mitch Albom, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger, THE LAST SONG by Nicholas Sparks and THE PROMISED WORLD by Lisa Tucker. Paulette from Plantation, FL was last month's newsletter winner. She won RHINO RANCH by Larry McMurtry, SMASH CUT by Sandra Brown, THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC by Richard Russo, THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper and VANISHED by Joseph Finder.

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

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