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January 8, 2010 Newsletter January 8, 2010

We're Back!

Thanks to all of you who wrote with holiday greetings and to tell us you missed us during these last two weeks. I shared your comments with the staff and they were much appreciated. As we start the new year, I wondered if I could ask you to forward this newsletter to any friends who you think might enjoy it. Consider it our “annual newsletter drive” to kick off the year/decade and a chance for you to “jumpstart” another reader. Thanks in advance for this.

It was really nice to take a break from the routine --- and a really hectic year --- and get out of town for a couple of weeks. Of course, I was gathering material from my family as we traveled. More than once the boys asked, “Are you going to write about this?”

I read over the holiday, though there were a lot of distractions to my typical “book a day” vacation habit. We watched DVDs, including Julie & Julia, which inspired an evening of making Boeuf Bourguignon á la Julia Child. My husband loves to cook and got a Dutch oven for Christmas, and he was trying to decide what to make with it. I suggested we imitate Julia, and I was lucky enough to find the recipe on her publisher’s website and a store with all the ingredients. For some reason that I still cannot explain, my normally very reserved husband decided to prepare the entire meal speaking with the trill of Julia’s accent. While the dinner was very memorable, the complete show that went on during the prep process really eclipsed the meal. And it was captured by Greg with my Flip camera.

I also watched My Sister’s Keeper, and I see why readers were up in arms about how the ending differed from the book --- and in fact how the entire focal point of the movie was different from the book. But I also see why it worked for the film this way

We went to the movies (something I rarely do at home) where we saw Avatar (truly terrific), Up in the Air (not as good as I had hoped, but I who love my Continental miles was amused at the way Clooney’s character was a mileage whore) and The Blind Side (which I loved and also considered myself to be a very plugged-in football fan as I recognized the opening scene where Lawrence Taylor sacks Joe Theismann). The latter two movies were based on books, both of which I would like to read to see how they differ from the movie. I usually read the books before I will see a movie based on them, but this time I gave myself a holiday pass. If you saw The Blind Side and want to see more about Michael Oher, here is a clip from "20/20"; I am sorry I missed the entire hour.

My holiday distractions that pulled me from reading prompt this week’s poll questions: "During the holidays, did you read all the books you planned on reading?" and "If not, what took you away from reading?" I am curious as to what you have to say.

That said, I read three terrific books. The first was THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake, a wonderful and engaging story of three women set during 1941 as the war is raging in Europe and America is not yet involved in the conflict, though people are wondering when, not if, we will be. The prose drops readers into the bombing sites of London, and I could hear the rumbles and feel the way people’s lives were shattered as I turned the pages and felt the collateral damage of war. One of the women is a war correspondent in London, the other two are in Massachusetts --- a postmistress and a doctor's wife. The way their lives collide and weave together made me want to read this book without interruption. It’s out in February, and I think you will love it.

In October when I was at Bouchercon, Linwood Barclay told me about a book that “he could not stop thinking about when he was not reading it.” It’s THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE by Carla Buckley. At the start, an avian pandemic flu has broken out, and as the story unfolds we see the effects of this plague as people become ill and thus the routines of life change. Events that normally would be manageable --- like a snowstorm, a power outage, a lack of fuel and a lack of food --- all test human nature and wills once the virus spreads. As life imitated art, the power in the house at the beach went out as I read and the house got colder and colder until I flipped the gas fireplace on. It was such an eerie feeling, and when the furnace kicked back on, I realized I was holding my breath.

The last book was illegal. Seriously. A friend in the UK sent me a copy of the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, as a present, and thus I spent a lovely few days absorbed in these 600 pages. There has been a lot of controversy about bookstores importing this book to sell to readers as it was available in the UK in October and will not release here until late May. I got over my guilt, realizing that for me this was no different from reading an advance copy --- and it’s a rare week when I can sit back and just relax with a mega-size book like this for pure fun!

Greg left for the UK on New Year’s morning. He had a 12:30 flight from Norfolk, which is about two hours from the Outer Banks. Given that he had not woken up any day before 1:00, I was wondering how this was going to play through. So when he came bouncing into my room completely dressed and ready to go at 7AM, I was shocked. I guess he was sleeping in the other mornings in preparation for this. I was lucky enough that my friend Brittany, who works at one of my fave yarn shops, Knitting Addiction, was also headed to Norfolk that day, saving me a four-hour round trip drive. Until he was ON the ship in Southampton, England and IN the harbor calling me from there, I could not relax. I was stuck in a vision of him sleeping through the departure. But as he reminded me, “I can get out of bed for ships and lighthouses.”

Sunday night, Tom and Cory left the beach and I was on my own at the house, which probably was my favorite present. It was too cold to walk on the beach, so I sat in the living room in front of the fire, reading, working and knitting --- and I drank the Southern Comfort eggnog (which has no alcohol but sounds much more tempting than the other eggnogs on the shelf that I, of course, had forgotten all week).

I had a real treat Tuesday night that perhaps speaks to the power of this newsletter. Last April, in a series of emails, Judy from Baltimore (one of our readers) and I figured out that where I stay on the Outer Banks is next door to her brother and his wife’s home. How small a world is THAT? I met Lou and Joan at the end of the driveway on Sunday, and Monday they called to invite me to dinner on Tuesday night. When I rang their doorbell, I realized that I NEVER had shown up on someone’s doorstep for dinner who I had never really spoken to before! That said, I had a completely delightful evening talking books, authors and life with these two most generous people. It was lovely, and I look forward to seeing them again. Bobbie, another reader, got into town the night that I left, which has happened to us before. I told her that one time we WILL be in the same place at the same time!

I also got to visit with Jamie Layton at the Duck’s Cottage Bookshop, who told me she had just launched the store’s Facebook page that day and that they already had 100 friends. Nice! As always, we walked the store catching up on books –-- and kids and life.

We have a new One to Watch featured author this week, Beth Hoffman, who has written SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT, which will be in stores on Tuesday. I loved this book, which will have appeal to those who enjoyed THE HELP, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES and STEEL MAGNOLIAS, and I am very excited to share it with you. It will be one of my first Bets On picks for 2010. You can see a terrific book trailer about it here. Those of you who would like to win a copy of the finished book should enter here by Monday, January 11th at 11:59 AM EST. Speaking of Bets On, congratulations to our Holiday Cheer Bets On basket winners, who you can see here. We had nearly 4,100 entries, so thanks to all who entered!

In other bookish news from the last weeks, I was quoted in USA Today in a retrospective about the book biz in the past decade, which you can read here.

The wonderfully talented Katherine Paterson is the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, succeeding Jon Scieszka. Paterson wrote BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and JACOB HAVE I LOVED, both Newbery winners, and her message is “Read for Your Life.” You can read more about her appointment here and here. I look forward to meeting her. And the Teen Choice Book of the Year nominations are underway. Read more about this below and here, and share that link with teens who you know!

You also can see what readers had to say about their “reading resolutions” here. Here are some of your most popular resolutions beyond what we had as choices: "read 100 books," "not buy until I finish what I have," and "read more classics." Here are some fun replies: "Finish the 30 or so books that I am currently reading before starting any new books," "I will finish reading my Book Club selections BEFORE our discussions," "I will try to addict more people into becoming bookaholics; an addiction that should not be cured" and "I will stop reading books by authors who used to write good books but have stopped trying." While I prefer to be positive than negative, this last question inspires this week’s Question of the Week: "What recent book releases didn’t meet your expectations?"

This weekend I am juggling three books. The first is Adriana Trigiani’s upcoming book, BRAVA, VALENTINE, which will be in stores on February 9th, as I am having dinner with her next weekend when I attend the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Boston. I have spent very little time in Boston, so I am planning to get there Thursday to catch up with some authors, friends and one of our reviewers there before the action of the conference begins. My resolution this year is to spend more time in the cities that I travel to. The second is ROSES by Leila Meacham, a book I started a bit ago and am enjoying, though my reading of it keeps being interrupted. It was just released this week. It’s a wonderful sweeping story set in Texas. The third is THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY by Heidi W. Durrow, which has a great voice to it and a wonderful author video that you can see here.

We also will be seeing Avatar again, this time in IMAX/3D. I cannot remember the last time I wanted to see a movie a second time, but watching it in what I call “1D” made me realize I would like to see the difference. Here’s wishing you all a great week of reading. Keep warm and keep reading! We're really glad to be back.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Barbara Delinsky, Author of NOT MY DAUGHTER

Barbara Delinsky, author of FAMILY TREE, THE SECRET BETWEEN US and WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS, recently published NOT MY DAUGHTER, which explores teen pregnancy, as well as the bonds of friendship and family relationships. In this interview with's Jennifer McCord, Delinsky discusses why she chose to tackle such a timely subject and explains why she consistently revisits the theme of mothers and daughters in her work. She also shares her thoughts on such topics as the definition of a "good mother" and the evolving perceptions of teen parents, describes her career change from psychologist to author, and reflects on her transition to writing women's fiction after penning several romances.

NOT MY DAUGHTER by Barbara Delinsky (Fiction)
The emotional ties between mothers and daughters are stretched to breaking in this emotionally wrenching story of love and forgiveness. Once again, Barbara Delinsky has given us a powerful novel, one that asks a central question: What does it take to be a good mother? Reviewed by Jennifer McCord.

-Click here to read a review of NOT MY DAUGHTER.
-Click here to read a second excerpt from NOT MY DAUGHTER.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for NOT MY DAUGHTER.


Click here to read our interview with Barbara Delinsky. Talks to Jeffery Deaver, Contributor to WATCHLIST

Though most widely known for his bestselling series featuring quadriplegic detective Lincoln Rhyme, Jeffery Deaver's latest project, WATCHLIST --- a serial novel co-written with a number of other thriller writers, including Lee Child, Joseph Finder and Lisa Scottoline --- centers on Harold Middleton and his crew of Volunteers, as they track down war criminals and diffuse terrorist plots. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Deaver explains how he became involved in the project and recounts his experiences working with other heavyweights of the genre. He also gives insight into the writing process as his initial idea was enriched and carried forward by each contributor and ponders the possibility of another installment in the series.

WATCHLIST: A Serial Thriller by Jeffery Deaver and Others (Thriller)
is a unique collaboration by 21 of the world’s greatest thriller writers including Lee Child, Joseph Finder, David Hewson, S.J. Rozan, Lisa Scottoline, and Jeffery Deaver, who conceived the characters and set the plot in motion. In turn, the other authors each wrote a chapter and Deaver then completed what he started, bringing each novel to its startling conclusion. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of WATCHLIST.
-Click here to read an excerpt from WATCHLIST.


Click here to read our interview with Jeffery Deaver. Talks to Mary Burton, Author of DYING SCREAM

Mary Burton is the author of over a dozen thrillers and historical romances, including I'M WATCHING YOU, WISE MOVES and HEART OF THE STORM. In this interview with’s Donna Volkenannt, Burton describes how her latest novel, DYING SCREAM, was partially inspired by research for a previous work, DEAD RINGER, and discusses how most of her characters are composites of real people, research and past experiences. She also explains why she left her career in marketing to become a full-time writer and how she handled the transition, and shares the best piece of advice she has ever received.

DYING SCREAM by Mary Burton (Romantic Suspense)
After losing her husband and unborn child, Adrianna Barrington Thornton is left with massive medical bills. To get out of debt, she sells the Thornton estate, but the buyer demands the family graveyard be removed. While workmen survey the grounds, they discover remains of a woman who once worked for Adrianna’s late husband. Reviewed by Donna Volkennant.

-Click here to read a review of DYING SCREAM.
-Click here to read a third excerpt from DYING SCREAM.


Click here to read our interview with Mary Burton.


Now in Stores: NOAH'S COMPASS by Anne Tyler

NOAH’S COMPASS by Anne Tyler (Fiction)
Anne Tyler has written a wise, compassionate novel about Liam, a retired schoolteacher at 61 who wakes up one day in a hospital unable to remember how he wound up there. Liam, however, is determined to reconstruct the missing hours in his life, both to uncover the truth about what happened and to prove he can’t be written off quite yet. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to read an excerpt from NOAH’S COMPASS.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for NOAH'S COMPASS.


Click here to read a review of NOAH'S COMPASS.


New Featured One to Watch Author: Beth Hoffman, Author of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT

Drawing comparisons to THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett and THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd, SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman is a thoughtful and charming debut destined to win you over with its interweaving themes. The book will be available in stores on January 12th.

We have 10 copies of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT to give away to readers who would like to read the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Monday, January 11th at 11:59 AM EST.

-Click here to read an excerpt from SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.
here to read Beth Hoffman's bio.
-Click here to watch a book trailer for SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille --- the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town --- a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah's perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie's all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.


Click here to read more about Beth Hoffman and SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.


Featured One to Watch Author: Ken Wheaton, Author of THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND PRAIRIE RABBIT FESTIVAL

Debut novelist Ken Wheaton chronicles the life of a small-town preacher and his eccentric parishioners in a sleepy Southern town in THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND PRAIRIE RABBIT FESTIVAL. Filled with a colorful cast of characters against the backdrop of an improbable event, THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND PRAIRIE RABBIT FESTIVAL, which is now in stores, will certainly charm its way onto your shelf.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND PRAIRIE RABBIT FESTIVAL.
-Click here to read Ken Wheaton's bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND PRAIRIE RABBIT FESTIVAL.

Father Steve Sibille has come home to the bayou to take charge of St. Pete's church. Among his challenges are teenybopper altar girls, insomnia-curing confessions and alarmingly alluring congregant Vicky Carrier. Then there's Miss Rita, an irrepressible centenarian with a taste for whiskey, cracklins and sticking her nose in other people's business.

When an outsider threatens to poach Father Steve’s flock, Miss Rita suggests he fight back by staging an event that will keep St. Pete’s parishioners loyal forever. As The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival draws near, help comes from the strangest places. And while the road to the festival may be paved with good intentions --- not to mention bake sales, an elephant and the most bizarre cook-out ever --- where it will lead is anyone’s guess.

Click here to read more about Ken Wheaton and THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND PRAIRIE RABBIT FESTIVAL.


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

Following the success of KISS, Ted Dekker and Erin Healy team up again for a tightly-wound thriller with BURN, a novel about choices and their consequences. A young woman disappears with an enormous sum of money, abandoning her best friend for dead. However, the past is harder to hide from than it seems. BURN will be available in stores on January 12th.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from BURN.
-Click here to read Ted Dekker's bio.
here to read Erin Healy's bio.
here to see Ted Dekker's backlist.
here to read critical praise for BURN.
-Visit Ted Dekker’s official website,
-Visit Erin Healy’s official website,
here to see our advance copy winners.

More about

Years ago, the Gypsy kumpania where Janeal Mikkado lived was attacked by outsiders. With her best friend about to be consumed by a fire, Janeal had two options: try to save her friend --- at serious risk to her own life --- or disappear with the million dollars that she had just discovered...

But the past is quickly coming back to haunt her. Both the best friend and the boyfriend that she was sure were dead have reappeared in her life, as has someone who knows about the money. There's a debt to be paid for the money she found, but there's an even greater debt she must face --- and if the chaff isn't burned from her own heart, it will consume her.


Click here to read more about Ted Dekker, Erin Healy and BURN


Featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author: Gregory Funaro, Author of THE SCULPTOR

Gregory Funaro's debut, THE SCULPTOR, is a thrilling, chilling mystery with an art twist. An FBI agent and an art historian are thrust together to thwart a sadistic killer whose rampage becomes increasingly personal. THE SCULPTOR is now available in stores.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE SCULPTOR.
here to read Gregory Funaro's bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE SCULPTOR.
-Visit Gregory Funaro's official website,

More about THE SCULPTOR:/font>
Dr. Catherine Hildebrant, professor of art history at Brown University, is trying to get her life back on track. Known in academic circles not only as one of the world’s foremost scholars on Michelangelo, she is also the author of a controversial book on his sculptures. Living alone, counting the days until her divorce is final, Cathy is awakened one morning by FBI agent Sam Markham. It seems someone has murdered missing Boston Rebels wide receiver Tommy Campbell, preserved his body, and painted and posed him in the figure of one of Michelangelo’s statues.

When Cathy is summoned to the garden of a wealthy businessman to help analyze Campbell’s remains, she discovers the unimaginable: the killer has not only drawn on her book for inspiration, but has dedicated his sculpture to her. Determined to clear her name, desperate to catch the killer before he kills again, Cathy joins forces with Special Agent Markham in a frantic race against time to stop the man the media has dubbed “The Michelangelo Killer.”


Click here to read more about Gregory Funaro and THE SCULPTOR.

New in Paperback for January
January’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah, the story of three sisters whose once-solid world is broken apart by jealousy, betrayal, and the kind of passion that rarely comes along; VERY VALENTINE, the first installment in a trilogy that finds Valentine Roncalli desperately trying to save the family shoemaking business while juggling a budding romance, her family and a challenge from a nearby department store; THE SCARECROW, a Michael Connelly thriller featuring newspaperman Jack McEvoy, who decides to use his final days at the Los Angeles Times to write the definitive murder story of his career; A RELIABLE WIFE, Robert Goolrick's debut novel that delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis; and PICKING COTTON: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption, which covers the dramatic intersection of the lives of two people --- Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton --- who couldn’t be more different yet forge an improbable friendship.

Please note that we are now including paperback originals, in addition to reprints of hardcovers, in this feature. Among the notable titles releasing in January are THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF SCONES by Alexander McCall Smith, THE HUNGRY SEASON by T. Greenwood, THE SUMMER WE FELL APART by Robin Antalek and E SQUARED by Matt Beaumont.
Click here to see our New in Paperback feature for January.

Books into Movies/Books into Movies on DVD for January
January’s Books into Movies feature spotlights four very different but equally compelling films to start off 2010 with plenty of inspirational drama, romance, historical flavor and offbeat humor in anticipation of the exciting year ahead for literary-based blockbusters.

Already in theaters is Youth in Revolt, starring Michael Cera, Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta and Justin Long. This fish-out-of-water comedy chronicles the (mis)adventures of a sex-obsessed teen who falls in love with a girl way out of his league. The Last Station, hitting the big screen in limited release on January 15th, follows the last year in the life of Leo Tolstoy, as he tries to reconcile his success and privileged lifestyle with his newly discovered philosophy of humility and chastity. January 22nd marks the release of two more films based on true events: Extraordinary Measures, which details the complicated partnership between an unconventional scientist and a father whose children are stricken with a rare, fatal disorder; and Creation, a biopic of scientist Charles Darwin and his struggle to complete his legendary ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES while mourning the death of his daughter.

And in case the harsh winter weather is keeping you indoors, be sure to check out Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Whip It! and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, which are new on DVD this month.


Click here to read more details about January's films.


Calling All Teens! Nominate Your Favorite Books of 2009 for the Children's Book Council's Teen Choice Book of the Year

Have a teen in your house? If so, we have something they may want to explore. In association with the Children’s Book Council (CBC), is giving teen readers a very special opportunity to share their five favorite books of 2009. The five titles that receive the most “votes” will serve as the finalists for the CBC’s 2010 Teen Choice Book of the Year. Once this first round of nominees is ready, we will have more information on where teens can vote for the winner, which will be announced in May.
Click here for all the details.


What's New This Month on

With more than 2,800 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:

-Advice for New Book Clubs, Part I
-Advice for New Book Clubs, Part II
-Robin Antalek: A Family Tale
-Gail Godwin: Abiding Haunts
-Happy New Year --- And the New Year Means...
-2009 Highlights: Literary Meandering and More

The following guides are now available on

by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein: A satirical look at religion and relationships told through the eyes of a writer deemed “the atheist with a soul.”
by Zoë Heller: A family reconsiders its value and the ties that bind in this searing satire from the author of NOTES ON A SCANDAL.
by Lauren Willig:
The heroines of Lauren Willig's bestselling Pink Carnation series have engaged in espionage all over 19th-century Europe. In the sixth stand-alone volume, our fair English heroine travels to India, where she finds freedom --- and risk --- more exciting than she ever imagined.
by Kia DuPree:
In the style of urban literary greats Teri Woods and Vicky Stringer, Kia DuPree tells an engrossing and heart-wrenching story about a young woman living on the streets of Washington, D.C.
by Tami Hoag:
The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author returns with the thriller her millions of fans have been awaiting for two years.
DREAM HOUSE by Valerie Laken: This riveting debut novel tells the story of a domestic drama that will irrevocably affect the lives of two families.
THE FIRST ANNUAL GRAND PRAIRIE RABBIT FESTIVAL by Ken Wheaton: A Southern preacher tends to his eclectic followers and initiates a carnival to help his struggling church.

HOW TO LIVE: A Search for Wisdom From Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth) by Henry Alford: One man's amusing and oddly inspirational search for wisdom from a pantheon of old people, who share the lessons they've learned about how to live.
by Anne Lamott: A husband and wife discover that their daughter is not the girl they thought she was in this novel of parents, children and trust.

LONE STAR LEGEND by Gwendolyn Zepeda: An aspiring young journalist stuck blogging for a gossip site stumbles across a story that gives new meaning to the word legendary.
THE LUNATIC, THE LOVER, AND THE POET by Myrlin A. Hermes: A Divinity scholar at Wittenburg University, Horatio prides himself on his ability to argue both sides of any intellectual debate, but as a result is a born skeptic, never able to fully buy into one particular philosophy. That is, until he meets Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark.
NOAH'S COMPASS by Anne Tyler: A retired schoolteacher awakens in a hospital with no recollection of how he arrived there, and is determined to piece together those missing hours.
NOT MY DAUGHTER by Barbara Delinsky: A teenage pregnancy pact shakes up a closeknit community and raises questions about what it truly means to be a mother.
THE PIANO TEACHER by Janice Y. K. Lee: Set in Hong Kong during the outbreak of World War II, the lives of two very different women intertwine during the next 10 years against the ravages of war and the opulence of high society.

REMARKABLE CREATURES by Tracy Chevalier: A voyage of discoveries, a meeting of two remarkable women, an extraordinary time and place enrich bestselling author Tracy Chevalier’s enthralling new novel.
by Jacqueline E. Luckett:
In this breathtaking debut novel reminiscent of early Terry McMillan, Lena Spencer is going through a mid-life crisis and looks to singer Tina Turner for strength.
by Robin Antalek: The four children of a once-brilliant playwright and struggling actress reunite at their father’s deathbed, confronting their troubling, chaotic childhoods.
by Elizabeth Kostova: A psychiatrist begins treating a celebrated painter only to be led down a dark path uncovering the painter’s tormented past and twisted inspirations.

WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS? by Kate Atkinson: One of the most exuberantly acclaimed books of 2009 was Atkinson's third novel featuring the beloved private investigator Jackson Brodie.

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

LARK AND TERMITE by Jayne Anne Phillips: This National Book Award finalist is a story of the power of loss and love, the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, dreams and ghosts, and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain us.
THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY by Tiffany Baker: Tiffany Baker bursts onto the literary scene with her terrific debut, which blends murder, magic and dark family secrets in a larger-than-life story.
A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick:
With echoes of WUTHERING HEIGHTS and REBECCA, Robert Goolrick's intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.
by Adriana Trigiani:
Valentine Roncalli desperately tries to save the family shoemaking business while juggling a budding romance, her family and a challenge from a nearby department store.

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

THE CHOICE: Lancaster County Secrets, Book 1 by Suzanne Woods Fisher:
A tender story of love, forgiveness and looking below the surface, THE CHOICE uncovers the sweet simplicity of the Amish world --- and shows that it’s never too late to find your way back to God.

THE COURTEOUS CAD: Miss Pickworth, Book 3 by Catherine Palmer: On her tour of the English countryside, a chance encounter in the streets alerts Miss Prudence Watson to the inhumane working conditions at the worsted mill and its boorish owner.
JENNA'S COWBOY: The Callahans of Texas, Book 1
by Sharon Gillenwater: A farmhand helps a former cowboy piece his life back together after a tour in the military.

by Julie Klassen:
Moving, mysterious and romantic, THE SILENT GOVERNESS takes readers inside the intriguing life of a 19th-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.
SWINGING ON A STAR: Weddings by Bella, Book 2 by Janice Thompson: Bella is planning a Renaissance-themed wedding that can make her career, except the best man just happens to be Hollywood’s hottest hunk, and he’s staying at her house.
by C. J. Darlington: Christy Williams is being framed for a crime she didn’t commit and has nowhere to turn except to her estranged younger sister.
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM: Sister-to-Sister, Book 3
by Virginia Smith: Tori Sanderson has the professional opportunity of a lifetime. If she can prove she’s executive material, she’s in line for a big promotion. But there’s only room for one new account executive, and her co-worker has his eye on the job…and on Tori.


Click here to visit

This Week's Reviews
IRON RIVER by T. Jefferson Parker (Thriller)
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy Charlie Hood is running the California-Mexico border with the ATFE, searching for the iron river --- the massive and illegal flow of handguns and automatic weapons that fuels the bloody cartel wars south of the border. In IRON RIVER, Hood finds himself wrapped up in events south of the border --- a connection that shakes him to his core. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

BLOOD GAME by Iris Johansen (Thriller)
When a Georgia senator’s daughter is found murdered, and her body drained of blood, Eve Duncan is drawn into the web of Kevin Jelak --- a serial murderer on Eve’s short list of killers who might know something about her missing daughter Bonnie. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

HIDDEN EMPIRE by Orson Scott Card (Science Fiction)
A horrific plague is sweeping across Nigeria, decimating whole villages. Those not dying from the virus are being killed by the Nigerian government. President Averell Torrent is torn between blockading the entire continent of Africa and sending relief workers. Meeting with a Nigerian who survived the sickness and tells of the massacre of his village is all Torrent needs to send help to the people of Nigeria. But his own military begins to question the nature of his involvement as they become overrun by the sickness themselves. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

CRAWLSPACE: A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery by Sarah Graves (Mystery)
Carolyn Rathbone, a famous writer of true crime stories, arrives in Eastport, Maine, chasing down an intriguing lead to a supposedly dead murderer. But Carolyn soon finds herself in a deadly quandary, and she's not alone: Jake Tiptree is desperately seeking her own missing person. Their predicaments intertwine, making for a nail-biting suspense story that will keep readers turning pages until they reach the conclusion. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

BECOMING JANE EYRE by Sheila Kohler (Historical Fiction)
There could never be another book like JANE EYRE --- one of the formative reading experiences for shy, brainy girls (and probably for cheerleaders, too). But here, to fill the gap, is a quietly powerful novel that imagines what Charlotte Brontë’s life was like while she was writing it. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

HERE’S THE DEAL: DON’T TOUCH ME by Howie Mandel, with Josh Young (Memoir)
As heartfelt as it is hilarious, HERE’S THE DEAL: DON’T TOUCH ME is the story of one man’s effort to draw comic inspiration out of his darkest, most vulnerable places. It’s sure to please Howie Mandel’s legion of fans…and provide hope to the millions who strive to succeed in spite of OCD and ADHD. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

MEMOIR: A History by Ben Yagoda (Literary Criticism)
Cultural and literary critic Ben Yagoda traces the memoir from its birth in early Christian writings and Roman generals' journals all the way up to the banner year of 2007, which saw memoirs from and about dogs, rock stars, bad dads, good dads, alternadads, waitresses, George Foreman, Iranian women, and a slew of other illustrious persons (and animals). Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.
Read this week's reviews here.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth


During the holidays, did you read all the books you planned on reading?

I had planned not to read.

If not, what took you away from reading? Check as many as apply.

Visiting with family and friends

Movie rentals
TV shows

Video games
Computer games
Social networking
Arts and crafts

None of the above
Nothing takes me away from reading.

-Click here to answer our poll.


What recent book releases didn't meet your expectations? Name up to five titles.

-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 two great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY by Marian Keyes and TREASURE HUNT by John Lescroart. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on January 22nd 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.

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Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by January 31, 2010 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin, THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY by Marian Keyes, IMPACT by Douglas Preston, NOAH'S COMPASS by Anne Tyler and REMARKABLE CREATURES by Tracy Chevalier. Karen from Taunton, MA was last month's newsletter winner. She won THE DISCIPLE by Stephen Coonts, LA'S ORCHESTRA SAVES THE WORLD by Alexander McCall Smith, NANNY RETURNS by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, THE PARIS VENDETTA by Steve Berry and U IS FOR UNDERTOW by Sue Grafton.

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