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January 15, 2010 Newsletter January 15, 2010

Greetings from Boston!

With all the travel that I have done through the years, I have done just two quick trips to Boston, each time doing one event or a speech and then ducking back out of town. Thus it’s nice to be here for a few days and get a chance to see something besides the convention hall and hotel. I purposely flew up yesterday to give me some time to do some poking around before the American Library Association Midwinter Conference starts this afternoon.

Yesterday when I arrived, I spent a couple of hours catching up with Joe Finder at his office here where he’s burrowed in working on his upcoming August release, BURIED SECRETS. He’s having a great time writing it, which always bodes well for readers. Joe’s office is on the fifth floor of a charming brownstone, and it’s filled with books and terrific memorabilia. Seeing an author in his workspace is a real treat, and I am glad I was able to do this. He also has a huge computer screen on his desk that I now covet. It functions not only for writing, but actually as a bulletin board where he can type notes, post ideas and pull together multiple strings to weave a story. Yes, I now want one!

In the evening I caught up with my friend Patrice Keegan, who I have not seen since I graduated from grammar school way too many years ago. She had tracked me down a few months ago, and when I knew I was coming up here, we planned to have dinner. It became a trip down memory lane as I heard about classmates I had long forgotten. Patrice has this amazing recall for details of our grammar school experience that had me howling. It was a Catholic school, and we used to be seated by our marks…they were not called grades, but marks. She recalled I was frequently in the first row, first seat, which was amusing. I had forgotten.

Once the memory floodgates open, it’s amazing how the stories fly in, and as we sat catching up, they did. I recalled my first-grade teacher named Mrs. Falk, who awarded a prize to the first-grade boy and girl in her class who read the most books over the summer. I tied with Sandra Maresca and we each got a doll. My mom found it a few years ago and passed it along to me, and it’s sitting on a shelf at home. I always was a reader; in fact, my mom and dad installed a silent switch in my room lest I wake them when I clicked my light on to read in the early morning hours when I got up. Nice to look back like that once in a while.

Today I am meeting one of our reviewers, Norah Piehl, for lunch, and it will be nice to put a face with a name, especially since I have enjoyed so many of her reviews and interviews. I already hit Newbury Yarns last evening, and today there will be a trek to Windsor Button, which I have heard has an amazing button collection as well as yarn. There is some room in my suitcase, and I plan to fill it with books and yarn this weekend! I am not going to get to all the suggestions that I got from readers, but I wanted to share this from Judy from Peabody for any of you in the area: "You might want to visit our little diner located about 25 minutes north of Boston in the city of Peabody. We were recently featured on Food Network's 'Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives' featuring Guy Fieri. You can check us out and watch the episode on We also have a little library at the diner. It's called the 'Share a Book Nook' need a book take a book, have a book leave a book."

Also, in the mailbag this week, an amusing note from Debbie who said, “Okay --- after viewing your newsy email, you've convinced me --- I'm just going to have to quit my day job so I can spend all my time reading, reading, and reading.” Debbie, it sounds good to me.

For those of you who want some reading motivation, I have selected two books as my first Bets On Picks for 2010 --- Beth Hoffman’s SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT and Melanie Benjamin’s ALICE I HAVE BEEN. You can see more about what I loved about them later in this newsletter! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Also, we're featuring an interview with Beth Hoffman this week as part of our One to Watch feature and a Q&A with Melanie Benjamin.

Speaking of author spotlight features, we've received some great feedback from our advance readers of WATCHLIST: A Serial Thriller, which you may read here.

For those of you with 12-14 year-old girls at your house, or if you know a girl in this age range, I have something to get on your radar. While there is a lot of talk about iPhone apps and eBooks, I have found something that really interested me since I feel it’s done a terrific job of embracing the medium with the story. It’s an iPhone and iPod Touch app for CATHY'S BOOK. You can see a demo of it here. I love the way it moves the reader right into the story! I am going to give away a free promo code to five random readers who drop a note to with the subject line “Cathy’s Book iPhone and iPod Touch App.”

According to our poll results, it looks like I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get all the reading done I’d hope for during the holidays. Thus far, 75 percent of you said you had the same problem, with about 25 percent citing family, relatives and holiday visitors as the main cause. I do feel better now.

I finished Adriana Trigiani’s BRAVA, VALENTINE last weekend and I really enjoyed it. What a lovely way to spend a cold Saturday afternoon! As I was reading, I noted there were chapter titles and I was trying to figure out where they came from. In Adriana’s notes at the end, I realized they were the titles of Frank Sinatra songs. Terrific layer to the overall read. As previously mentioned, it’s in stores on February 9th.

I am about two-thirds through ETERNAL ON THE WATER by Joseph Monninger, which will be in stores on February 16th. It's a beautiful story of love and adventure about a young man and woman who meet on the banks of the Allagash River in Maine and from there chart their lives together. From the moment they meet, they are always facing what they know will be a very special final journey down the river. I just finished a section that takes place in Indonesia, and it was lush and wonderful.

Last week I mentioned ROSES by Leila Meacham, and from the comments on our Facebook page, it looks like many of you are enjoying it as well. USA Today and others compared it to GONE WITH THE WIND. As Julie said, “I have a feeling it is going to be one those great reads you live for,” and she’s right! It is one of those special books. Thanks to all of you for sharing on the Facebook page, and if you want to join in, then click here.

The news stories coming out of Haiti this week have been just devastating. I loved the easy way that you can donate to help via a text message on your phone, which will be billed to your cell phone bill. You can text "Haiti" to 90999, and a $10 donation to the American Red Cross will be made and appear on your monthly statement. You can see the power of this when I heard that $3 million was raised in a day. I also heard somewhere that the first word of the story came via Facebook. Each week when I write this newsletter, I think of the power of a connection like this. Then when stories like this come out, I am even more happy that we can connect like this.

Okay, I want to check out the hotel pool here and get some laps in before I get my day going. These conventions mean a ton of walking so I like to clock pool time. I even brought my flippers and kickboard!

Have a nice long weekend…and please take a moment to pause and reflect on the significance of Martin Luther King Day.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Beth Hoffman, Author of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT

Beth Hoffman's debut work of fiction, SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT, is a coming-of-age tale about a recently orphaned 12-year-old girl who finds a new home with an eccentric elderly aunt in 1960s Savannah. In this interview with's Jamie Layton, Hoffman traces the inspiration for the book's plot back to a childhood memory, as well as her fascination with mother/daughter relationships, and elaborates on some of the pivotal roles played by secondary characters in the novel. She also reveals what prompted her to turn to writing amidst a successful career in design, responds to comparisons made between her work and recent Southern Fiction bestsellers, and shares her whirlwind experiences as a first-time novelist.

SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman (Fiction)
Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman's sparkling debut is, as New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah says, "packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart." It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. Reviewed by Jamie Layton.

-Click here to read a review of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.
-Click here to read an excerpt from SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.


Click here to read our interview with Beth Hoffman.


Author Talk: Melanie Benjamin, Author of ALICE I HAVE BEEN

Melanie Benjamin's first historical novel, ALICE I HAVE BEEN, centers on Alice Liddell --- best known as the "real" Alice in Wonderland from the works of Lewis Carroll. In this interview, Benjamin describes what initially drew her to this figure, despite having little previous knowledge of her and the stories she inspired, and explains how her lack of experience in writing historical fiction actually worked to her benefit. She also highlights some of the major events in Alice's life discussed in the novel and shares her thoughts on the impact that classic childrens' stories had on their infamous real-life muses.

ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin (Historical Fiction)
Few works of literature are as universally beloved as ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole --- and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling. Reviewed by Alexis Burling.

-Click here to read a review of ALICE I HAVE BEEN.
-Click here to read an excerpt from ALICE I HAVE BEEN.


Click here to read an interview with Melanie Benjamin. Talks to Erin Healy, Co-Author (with Ted Dekker) of BURN

Erin Healy --- the bestselling co-author of 2009’s KISS and the newly released thriller BURN --- recently spoke with's Marcia Ford about her latest venture with collaborator Ted Dekker. In this interview, Healy explains what made the writing process easier this second time around and discusses the research they performed, as well as the creative license they used, to center the novel on a little-known community in the New Mexican desert. She also delves into some of the spiritual aspects explored in the book and discusses her solo projects in the works, including NEVER LET YOU GO, due out in May.

BURN by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy (Supernatural Thriller)
Ted Dekker and Erin Healy have teamed up for yet another riveting novel, right on the heels of their early 2009 release, KISS. But the differences are significant, so much so that halfway through BURN you start to wonder if Dekker has opted to abandon his signature supernatural thriller genre in favor of straight suspense. But no. Rest assured, BURN comes with a twist so bizarre that it leaves no doubt that you're back on eerie Dekker terrain. Reviewed by Marcia Ford.

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


Click here to read our interview with Erin Healy.


Now in Stores: Graphic Novel Adaptations of Stephen King’s The Stand

STEPHEN KING'S THE STAND, Volume 1: CAPTAIN TRIPS written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Mike Perkins (Graphic Novel)
It all begins here: the epic apocalyptic battle between good and evil. On a secret army base in the Californian desert, something has gone horribly, terribly wrong. Something will send Charlie Campion, his wife and daughter fleeing in the middle of the night. Unfortunately for the Campion family, and the rest of America, they are unaware that all three of them are carrying a deadly cargo: a virus that will spread from person to person like wildfire, triggering a massive wave of disease and death, prefacing humanity's last stand. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of CAPTAIN TRIPS.

STEPHEN KING'S THE STAND, Volume 2: AMERICAN NIGHTMARES written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Mike Perkins (Graphic Novel)
The deadly super flu Captain Trips has devastated the country, and now the few survivors must pick up the pieces and go on. Larry Underwood seeks escape from New York City. Lloyd contemplates an extremely unsavory dinner option in jail, and Stu Redman makes a desperate bid for freedom from his interrogators. Most ominous of all, the strange being called Randall Flagg continues his dread journey across the devastated landscape of America. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of AMERICAN NIGHTMARES. Bets On: SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman and ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin

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 2010, we will continue to spotlight books that immediately struck a chord with us and made us say “just read this.” As we did in 2009, we will 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 are our latest featured titles, with more to come in the weeks ahead:

SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman (January 12th): There are characters and voices in books that just stay with us. For me, Cecilia Rose Honeycutt, who is nicknamed CeeCee, is one who does just that. As the book opens we meet CeeCee, a 12-year-old girl from Ohio who is being whisked away to live with her Aunt Tootie in Savannah after the death of her mom; her dad already has created a new life for himself, and she does not fit in. As her aunt drives up to the house that they will share, CeeCee sees a beautiful well-manicured home, the kind of place of a little girl’s dreams. Making a new home there, she is surrounded by strong women, including the aforementioned Aunt Tootie and Tootie's cook, Oletta, who love her and guide her and whose own strong values will shape her. There are other “southern” characters, including a wicked gossip named Violene Hobbs and the very wild Thelma Rae Goodpepper --- as well as Gertrude Odell, a kindly nurturing neighbor from Ohio --- who round out the story and strengthen its voice with their voices.

Set in the Deep South during the ’60s as the racial tensions are unfolding, SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT will be looked on by those who loved THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, THE HELP and Steel Magnolias, and authors like Fannie Flagg and Rebecca Wells, as a real treat. Great characters with terrific voices, strong plotting and a story that just hangs together well make this one a Bets On for me.

-Click here to read a review of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.
-Click here to read an excerpt from SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.

-Click here to read our interview with Beth Hoffman.

ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin (January 12th): A confession here. In my literary memories, I had forgotten that Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym for Charles Dodgson, and it also had slipped my mind that the Alice in ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND had been fashioned after a real little girl named Alice. I say this since I approached ALICE I HAVE BEEN with my own sense of wonderment as I read it --- and I loved it. Melanie Benjamin has written a book that is so rich in back story and historical references that I found myself feeling like I was plunged into Alice’s world. It made me want to read more about Dodgson and re-read the classic tale. For the way it transported me and did that, this book is a Bets On for me. It was a treat.

In ALICE I HAVE BEEN, Benjamin imagines 80-year-old Alice looking back on her life and her role in the story of Alice. At one point she says, “But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does that sound ungrateful?” The story opens with lush descriptions of Alice’s early years living in Oxford in a pampered privileged world where keeping one’s dress clean and white consumed her days. This is where she met Dodgson. We then see Alice fall in love, not with the man who would be her husband, but rather a man who is a prince. And finally we see her marrying, raising a family and looking back. All the while we are seeing not just her life, but rather her life as the girl in that fairy tale. While Alice fell through the looking glass, readers here will be turning the pages to see the story unfold.

-Click here to read a review of ALICE I HAVE BEEN.
-Click here to read an excerpt from ALICE I HAVE BEEN.

-Click here to read an interview with Melanie Benjamin.
Click here to see all the titles we're betting you'll love.


Featured Women's Fiction Author: Barbara Delinsky, Author of NOT MY DAUGHTER

Bestselling author Barbara Delinsky returns with NOT MY DAUGHTER, her new emotionally-charged novel that begs the central question: What does it take to be a good mother? Once again, Delinsky challenges our notions of unconditional love and the complex relationships between mothers and daughters. NOT MY DAUGHTER is now in stores.

-Click here to read a review of NOT MY DAUGHTER.
-Click here to read a third excerpt from NOT MY DAUGHTER.
-Click here to read our interview with Barbara Delinsky.
-Click here to read Barbara Delinsky's bio.
-Click here to see Barbara Delinsky's backlist.
-Visit Barbara Delinsky's official website,
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

When Susan Tate's 17-year-old daughter, Lily, announces she is pregnant, Susan is stunned. A single mother, she has struggled to do everything right. She sees the pregnancy as an unimaginable tragedy for both Lily and herself.

Then comes word of two more pregnancies among high school juniors who happen to be Lily's best friends --- and the town turns to talk of a pact. As fingers start pointing, the most ardent criticism is directed at Susan. As principal of the high school, she has always been held up as a role model of hard work and core values. Now her detractors accuse her of being a lax mother, perhaps not worthy of the job of shepherding impressionable students. As Susan struggles with the implications of her daughter's pregnancy, her job, financial independence and long-fought-for dreams are all at risk.


Click here to read more about Barbara Delinsky and NOT MY DAUGHTER.


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 a second 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.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

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 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 a second 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,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about

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.

Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Mary Burton, Author of DYING SCREAM
Bestselling author Mary Burton is back with another thrilling, chilling novel in DYING SCREAM. Here, she pairs a detective with a wealthy widow to uncover a family's dark, twisted path. DYING SCREAM is now available in stores.

-Click here to read a review of DYING SCREAM.
-Click here to read an excerpt from DYING SCREAM.
-Click here to read our interview with Mary Burton.
-Click here to read Mary Burton's bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for DYING SCREAM.
-Visit Mary Burton's official website,
-Click here to read Mary Burton's blog post, "Mary Burton on Rekindling Fond Holiday Memories."
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

More about DYING SCREAM:
Mary Burton takes readers down the horrific path of an affluent family’s dark past where well-hidden secrets unveil a series of grisly crimes, forcing a widow and a detective to explore a twisted, forbidden love that someone will kill for, again and again.

Click here to read more about Mary Burton and DYING SCREAM.

Now Available in Paperback: WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by Judy Blundell
WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by Judy Blundell (Fiction)
This 2008 National Book Award winner is now in paperback! When Evie's father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. A handsome, young ex-GI who served in Joe's company suddenly shows up, and Evie is caught in a complicated web of lies that she only slowly recognizes. Author Judy Blundell gives us a girl’s-eye view of a dark family history.

Click here to read more about WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED.


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:

-Lori Armstrong: My Favorite Type of People
-Amy Bloom: Book Clubs: The Good, The Bad, The Still Hard to Believe
-Advice for New Book Clubs, Part 1
-Advice for New Book Clubs, Part 2
-Advice for New Book Clubs, Part 3
-Advice for New Book Clubs, Part 4
-Advice for New Book Clubs, Part 5
-Robin Antalek: A Family Tale
-Gail Godwin: Abiding Haunts
-Happy New Year --- And the New Year Means...
-2009 Highlights: Literary Meandering and More

We have compiled our annual lists of our 25 New Favorite, 20 Ongoing Favorite and 20 Enduring Favorite book titles for book club discussions for 2009, gathered by the editors of See if your group agrees with our choices, and make your own list of favorites!


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
TREASURE HUNT: A Wyatt Hunt Novel by John Lescroart (Thriller)
TREASURE HUNT is both a nail-biting thriller and a coming-of-age story, filled with John Lescroart's trademark San Francisco flavors. Mickey Dade, its young protagonist, gradually learns the hard lessons Wyatt Hunt knows only too well, as the world he thought he knew unravels around him. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF SCONES by Alexander McCall Smith (Fiction)
Featuring all the quirky characters we have come to know and love, the fifth book in Alexander McCall’s Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series finds Bertie, the precocious six-year-old, still troubled by his rather overbearing mother, Irene, but seeking his escape in the Cub Scouts. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

ALTAR OF EDEN by James Rollins (Fiction)
James Rollins has made a career of writing fast-paced novels based on scientific intrigue and adventure. With ALTAR OF EDEN, he explores new territory with a shocking story of cruel genetic experimentation with ties to both national security and a secret history of the Book of Genesis. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

UNFINISHED DESIRES by Gail Godwin (Fiction)
As elderly Mother Suzanne Ravenel writes her memoir, she finds herself reluctant to excavate the school year of 1951-1952 at the school she once commanded. In particular, she hates remembering the catastrophic events wrought by the ninth-grade class. Those occurrences are eked out to readers bit by bit, tantalizing them with ominous foreboding. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to read Gail Godwin’s blog post, "Abiding Haunts."

DAYS OF GOLD by Jude Deveraux (Historical Romance)
Angus McTern wants nothing more than to live his life undisturbed and to take care of his people. But when charming and lovely Englishwoman Edilean Talbot wanders into his world, he has no choice but to give up everything he's ever known and follow his heart to a new life with the woman he loves, no matter the cost. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

TOO MANY MURDERS: A Carmine Delmonico Novel by Colleen McCullough (Thriller)
The year is 1967, and the world teeters on the brink of nuclear holocaust as the Cold War goes on relentlessly. On a beautiful spring day in the little city of Holloman, Connecticut, chief of detectives Captain Carmine Delmonico has more pressing concerns than finding a name for his infant son: 12 murders have taken place in one day, and Delmonico is drawn into a gruesome web of secrets and lies. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE LOCK ARTIST by Steve Hamilton (Thriller)
Marked by tragedy, traumatized at the age of eight, Michael, now 18, is no ordinary young man. Besides not uttering a single word in 10 years, he discovers the one thing he can somehow do better than anyone else. Whether it's a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an 800-pound safe, he can open them all. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE 13th HOUR by Richard Doetsch (Thriller)
Richard Doetsch’s new novel is the story of a man given the chance to go back in time in one-hour increments to prevent a vicious crime from destroying his life. In his race against time to save the woman he loves most in the world, Nick will find that friends become enemies, old loyalties are tested, and Julia's murder is part of a larger scheme that has its roots in greed and vengeance. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

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.


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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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