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February 5, 2010 Newsletter February 5, 2010

Up in the Air and Down on the Ground

Flying to San Jose via Houston (all 8-plus hours) on Tuesday left lots of time for reading, knitting, watching the movie, napping and working on my laptop. Kudos to Continental for those new planes with power outlets on them! I got so much done that I think I should spend one day a week "up in the air." I confess I am not all that jazzed about the advent of Internet accessibility in the sky; I love escaping from new email for a while so I can attempt to catch up.

Before I started with convention events, I spent most of Wednesday with Keith Raffel, the author of SMASHER: A Silicon Valley Thriller, who lives in the area and volunteered to drive me to visit area bookstores. Given my navigation skills, this was a good idea. We started at M is for Mystery in San Mateo, a store that I have heard about for years from my mystery author friends. I had the pleasure of meeting owner Ed Kaufman, who toured me through the entire store, including the back room where all their special orders and collector editions are shipped from. The potential value of these books as collectibles has the staff attentive to the condition of them before they are sent out so they retain their value. We talked authors and books for an hour as I circled the table and pointed to titles I knew and learned more about those that I did not.

From there we headed to Books Inc. in Palo Alto, one of the 12 stores in the Books Inc. group. I had a great time chatting with Colleen in the children’s/YA department. While we see many books on our book table in New York, there is something very exciting to me about seeing how stores display their selections and how they direct readers to their favorites. Keith and I enjoyed a sushi lunch and talked about the novel he just finished, which is a departure from the other two books that he has done. We ate in the neighborhood of Facebook and for a moment my virtual world seemed real, and I half wondered if I should stop by to visit my personal page. (Speaking of Facebook, check out our latest posts from the page here, including a great essay by Alexander McCall Smith, an interview with "Calvin & Hobbes" creator Bill Watterson, and other book news and notes.)

I dashed back for a panel and then headed back out to Hicklebee’s, a children’s store that I have been hearing marvelous things about for years --- and now I can see why. Serena there was kind enough to give me a tour where, besides books, there was a wonderful collection of memorabilia from children’s and YA authors. It’s about the ambiance as much as it is about the books in this magical children’s store.

That evening there was a special event at Kepler’s in Menlo Park, where hundreds of booksellers browsed the aisles on a busman’s holiday sharing ideas on how they handsell books to readers. Again there was chatter as we moved around pointing to favorites. I found myself browsing through some knitting books --- something I rarely have time to do back home. I love that it takes me going to California to do this. It was wonderful to see the personality in each of these independent bookstores.

Last night I had a chance to meet Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the author of ONE AMAZING THING, which we have been featuring here and is in stores this week. Chitra was just lovely and so charming. I shared my thoughts on her writing; she shared that she uses as a resource for her own personal reading, something that made my night. I also got to catch up with Jacqueline Winspear, who was her ever elegant self, and Brunonia Barry, who I had last seen here in San Jose for Book Group Expo. Brady Udall had a long line of booksellers queued up to receive an autographed advance copy of THE LONELY POLYGAMIST, confirming my thought that this book has a lot of attention.

I am happy to share that Kristin Hannah's WINTER GARDEN is now available. I loved this book, which is Kristin's most ambitious to date. She has layered in a very robust back story that takes place in Leningrad during the war and it's just wonderful. Readers who have been fans are in for a treat, and those of you who have not yet explored her may want to start with this one. I love when an author moves in a new direction to enhance her work and delivers like this. Just a big bravo to Kristin for this. Kristin has also put lots of great material as well as her tour dates on her site, which you can visit here.

As I am at this convention, there has been continuing talk about all the shifts we’re seeing in the publishing industry. At the office, we’ve become increasingly curious about our readers’ shopping and browsing habits, especially thinking about the traditional store versus online venues. Needless to say, we learned a lot when we asked “Do you find yourself browsing for books more in stores or online these days?” in our poll a few weeks ago. More than 600 of you responded, with 44 percent saying you shop exclusively online and 42 percent shop in stores and online. The remaining 12 percent shop exclusively in stores. Very interesting.

We also paired that poll with a question about the always tempting impulse buy. I know I can’t resist sometimes, and I’m glad I’m not alone. We received a variety of responses all over the genre map, but a couple titles that popped up a few times were SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman, one of my Bets On picks for January, and LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN by Colum McCann, the 2009 National Book Award winner. Also recurring were CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese and THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery.

Many thanks to all of you (and there were a lot!) who responded to my query about the relevance of book reviews. Last week I asked “Do book reviews still matter?” and the answer was a resounding YES! There were a lot of interesting answers about how people use reviews and how those shape their reading habits. I was able to use this information on a recent panel at the Publishers Weekly: Think Future conference. So thanks again for all your information and responses, and I’ll try to get to each of you with a personal note. Three television series come to mind that were based on books --- "Bones," "Dexter" and "True Blood." On Tuesday night "Past Life", a new television show, will premiere on Fox at 9PM ET following "American Idol." It was inspired my M.J. Rose’s Reincarnationist book series, which includes THE REINCARNATIONIST, THE MEMORIST and the upcoming THE HYPNOTIST, due in stores on April 27th. You can visit M.J.'s site here. Check it out and get in on this show from the beginning!

We are launching two new author spotlight features this week: Beverly Barton, whose new romantic suspense novel is DEAD BY MIDNIGHT, and Gregg Olsen, author of the suspense/thriller VICTIM SIX. Beverly Barton is an author we're always happy to feature as she has such a devoted fan base and has written countless bestsellers. We also welcome back Gregg Olsen, a suspense/thriller writer who is gaining steam with each new book release. We have 20 copies of each book to give away to readers who would like to read the books and comment about them. If you are interested, please fill out the forms for DEAD BY MIDNIGHT and VICTIM SIX by Friday, February 12th at noon ET.

Our Valentine's Day contest has come to a close. I hope you entered! We're giving away five baskets, each with a copy of
BECOMING JANE EYRE by Sheila Kohler, VERY VALENTINE and BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani, THE BRONTË SISTERS: Three Novels: JANE EYRE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS and AGNES GREY by Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë and Anne Brontë, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Elizabeth Noble, A MATTER OF CLASS by Mary Balogh, O, JULIET by Robin Maxwell and WICKED CRAVING: A Savannah Reid Mystery by G.A. McKevett. Also included is a bunch of goodies, including a VERY PINK plush blanket, Godiva chocolates, gourmet cookies, a cherry-flavored handmade lollipop, a mesh shower sponge and a decorative basket. We'll be picking the winners soon and announcing them in the next newsletter, so check back to see if you've won! In the meantime, take a look at all our Valentine's Day suggestions here.

My Super Bowl pick is the New Orleans Saints; I like the fact that they have never been there. For all our readers in Indianapolis, forgive me. If the game is not good, let there at least be good commercials. And this weekend will afford me an excuse to eat things like pigs in a blanket and guacamole with great abandon. But no wings. I loathe chicken on the bone. Same thing with eggs in any form I recognize (hard-boiled, sunny-side up, etc.) Someday I must analyze this. Whenever I think about it, I start humming Paul Simon’s "Mother and Child Reunion," named after a chicken and egg dish in a Chinese restaurant. Here’s wishing you a great week of reading in between the football brouhaha.
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And here’s hoping the snow doesn't wreak too much havoc on my flight back home. Read on!

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: WINTER GARDEN by Kristin Hannah

WINTER GARDEN by Kristin Hannah (Fiction)
Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged women will find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother who, even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts one last promise from the women in his life. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WINTER GARDEN.
-Click here to see Kristin Hannah talk about WINTER GARDEN.
-Visit Kristin Hannah’s official website,


Click here to read a review of WINTER GARDEN.


Now in Stores: ROSES by Leila Meacham

ROSES by Leila Meacham (Fiction)
In this compelling multi-generational tale of star-crossed lovers, Mary Toliver inherits Somerset, her family's East Texas cotton plantation. Mary knows her love for Somerset will guide her life, but she also will find out for herself if the plantation’s reputed curse is fiction or fact. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.
Click here to read a review of ROSES.


font color="#cc0000">New Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Beverly Barton, Author of DEAD BY MIDNIGHT

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 DEAD BY MIDNIGHT, her latest novel, Barton ratchets up the suspense as victims race against time --- literally --- to beat their grim fate when the clock strikes 12.

We have 20 copies of DEAD BY MIDNIGHT 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 Friday, February 12th at noon ET.

-Click here to read an excerpt from DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.
here to read Beverly Barton's bio.
here to see Beverly Barton's backlist.
here to read critical praise for DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.
-Visit Beverly Barton's official website,

In murder, as in life, timing is everything. With every murder, the killer edges closer, and soon Lorie Hammonds will be the last name left on his list. In the 10 years since her Hollywood career imploded, Lorie has built a good life in her Alabama hometown, but things take a devious turn. She laughs off the first death threat, but the second threat is no joke. Her high school sweetheart, Mike Birkett, is now the small town's sheriff who has tried to keep his distance, but he, too, is drawn into a web of secrets, lies and murders that become increasingly personal.


Click here to read more about Beverly Barton and DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Gregg Olsen, Author of VICTIM SIX

With each new book release, Gregg Olsen's fan base expands as more readers are entranced by his nuanced and gruesome thrillers. His latest, VICTIM SIX, pits two women against a sadistic serial killer whose murderous acts become more depraved with each victim.

We have 20 copies of VICTIM SIX 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 Friday, February 12th at noon ET.

-Click here to read an excerpt from VICTIM SIX.
-Click here to read Gregg Olsen's bio.
-Click here to see Gregg Olsen's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for VICTIM SIX.
-Visit Gregg Olsen's official website,

More about VICTIM SIX:
The bodies begin turning up in the marshes and swamps surrounding Puget Sound, each one more gruesome than the previous. The killer has a precision to his killing, carefully targeting, stalking, torturing and disposing of each victim. Two women find themselves unlikely friends as they race to stop the killer before his next strike. However, time is not on their side as the clues seem to place each of them squarely in the killer's crosshairs.


Click here to read more about Gregg Olsen and VICTIM SIX.


Now Available in Paperback: LOOK AGAIN by Featured Suspense/Thriller Author Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline scored another critically acclaimed bestseller with LOOK AGAIN upon its release in 2009, and further solidified her spot as one of the most creative and popular suspense/thriller writers working today. LOOK AGAIN, a gripping story about a mother who realizes a chilling secret about her adopted son, will be available in paperback on February 9th.

LOOK AGAIN by Lisa Scottoline (Thriller)
When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops --- the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her adoption was lawful, but she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth. As she investigates, Ellen uncovers clues that no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life --- and that of the son she loves.

-Click here to read a review of LOOK AGAIN.
-Click here to read an excerpt from LOOK AGAIN.
-Click here to read our interview with Lisa Scottoline.
-Click here to read Lisa Scottoline’s bio.
-Click here to read fast facts about Lisa Scottoline.
-Click here to see Lisa Scottoline's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for LOOK AGAIN.
-Visit Lisa Scottoline's official website,
-Click here to see our advance reader comments about LOOK AGAIN.

Click here to read more about Lisa Scottoline and LOOK AGAIN.'s Valentine's Day Feature: Books to Fall in Love With

The countdown to Valentine's Day is on! Stuck on what to buy your Valentine? Our featured titles have the bookish answer. From January 22nd through February 5th, readers had the chance to win one of our five Valentine's Day Baskets. They are filled with one copy of each of our featured books, as well as some irresistible Valentine's Day-themed goodies. Thanks to all who entered and told us which character in a book they would want to share a Valentine moment with. We will announce the winners in the February 12th edition of the newsletter.

Although the contest has ended, we encourage you to visit our Valentine's Day feature.
Whether you are looking for humorous tales, heartwarming love stories, page-turning mysteries or classic works of literature, our Valentine's Day suggestions are sure to satisfy whatever you’re craving to give on this holiday.

Our featured Valentine’s Day titles are:

BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani
THE BRONTË SISTERS: Three Novels: JANE EYRE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS and AGNES GREY by Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë and Anne Brontë
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Elizabeth Noble
A MATTER OF CLASS by Mary Balogh
O, JULIET by Robin Maxwell
VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani
WICKED CRAVING: A Savannah Reid Mystery by G.A. McKevett

Click here to see our Valentine's Day suggestions.


Featured One to Watch Author: Sarah Blake, Author of THE POSTMISTRESS

THE POSTMISTRESS, which releases on February 9th, is one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the new year. A sweeping historical epic spanning generations and continents, Sarah Blake's second novel could very well be the sleeper hit of 2010.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from THE POSTMISTRESS.
-Click here to read Sarah Blake's bio.
-Click here to see Sarah Blake's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE POSTMISTRESS.
-Visit Sarah Blake's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

It is 1940. Iris James is the postmistress and spinster of Franklin, Massachusetts, a small town on Cape Cod. She firmly believes that her job is to deliver and keep people’s secrets, to pass along the news of love and sorrow that letters carry. Yet one day Iris does the unthinkable: she slips a letter into her pocket. And then she does something even worse --- she reads the letter, then doesn’t deliver it.

Click here to read more about Sarah Blake and THE POSTMISTRESS.


Featured One to Watch Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Author of ONE AMAZING THING

ONE AMAZING THING by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is garnering some serious pre-release buzz for its portrayal of strangers uniting in the face of tragedy by each sharing a secret they've never revealed. Shocking and emotional, ONE AMAZING THING will have you wondering about your own secrets.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from ONE AMAZING THING.
-Click here to read Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's bio.
-Click here to see Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for ONE AMAZING THING.
-Visit Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping them together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There’s little food. The office begins to flood. As the psychological and emotional stress becomes nearly too much for them to bear, one of them suggests that each tell a personal tale, “one amazing thing” from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. As their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself.


Click here to read more about Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and ONE AMAZING THING.


A RATHER CHARMING INVITATION by C.A. Belmond (Romantic Suspense)
American heiress Penny Nichols and her English heir, Jeremy, are getting married --- but not before a series of strange events unfolds threatening to derail the ceremony. From a secret chalet on Lake Geneva, to a nostalgic stop at the opulent Train Bleu, and a winner-take-all gamble in Monte Carlo, Penny and Jeremy are off on another romp...while the clock is ticking down the minutes until they say "I do!"


Click here to read more about A RATHER CHARMING INVITATION.

New in Paperback for February
February’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes SHANGHAI GIRLS, a novel by Lisa See that explores the complex bonds of sisterhood in the face of clashing cultures and personal hardships over two volatile decades in the first half of the 20th century; PRAYERS FOR SALE, in which Sandra Dallas chronicles the unlikely friendship between an 86-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl in 1930s Colorado; NIGHT AND DAY, the late Robert B. Parker’s eighth installment in the Jesse Stone series, which finds the Paradise, Massachusetts police chief confronting a town's darkest secrets; PURSUIT by Karen Robards, a complex tale of a political conspiracy at the highest level of government, with a steamy love affair between protector and prey; LIVE TO TELL, a paperback original from Wendy Corsi Staub that marks the beginning of a brand new thriller trilogy; and THE UNFORGIVING MINUTE, in which West Point grad, Rhodes scholar, Airborne Ranger and U.S. Army Captain Craig Mullaney recounts his unparalleled education and the hard lessons that only war can teach.
Click here to see our New in Paperback feature for February.


Books into Movies/Books into Movies on DVD for February

Book-loving cinephiles have plenty to look forward to this month, as February’s Books into Movies roundup is spotlighting three must-see films sure to hit the spot, whether you’re in the mood for weepy romances, heart-pounding thrillers, or kid-friendly action and adventure.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day is the ultimate date movie, Dear John. Based on a novel by the king of tear-jerking romantic dramas, Nicholas Sparks, it chronicles the seven-year romance developed through letters written between a college student and a soldier stationed in the Middle East.

If your tastes steer you more towards mysteries and thrillers, then Shutter Island, releasing on February 19th, is a can’t-miss. Adapted from Dennis Lehane’s bestselling novel about a team of U.S. Marshalls in search of a patient who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane, this fourth Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio pairing already has been getting quite a lot of buzz and promises to deliver a creepy, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

For lighter fare, take the family to see Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, in theaters February 12th. Directed by Chris Columbus (who brought us the first two Harry Potter films), this fantasy adventure is based on the first installment of the bestselling children’s series by Rick Riordan, and follows the adventures of a teen who --- upon discovering he’s the son of a Greek God --- finds himself caught up in a war being fought among the other residents of Mount Olympus.

And in case you weren’t able to catch it in its limited release last fall, be sure to check out Coco Before Chanel --- a biopic about the famed creator of “the little black dress” --- which is releasing on DVD this month.
Click here for more details about February’s films.

What's New This Month on

With more than 2,850 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:

-Variety is the Spice of Life
-Starting the Discussion: How Do You Break the Ice?
-Starting the Discussion: Part 2
-Dolen Perkins-Valdez: WENCH
-So Many Books, So Little Time
-Teaching an Old Book Club New Tricks

We are thrilled to announce that our new Coming Soon feature is now live on Here you can find books that are being published in upcoming months, which are sorted by release dates and whether they are hardcovers or paperbacks. This feature was conceived after we heard in our 2009 Reader Survey about how many of you select books well in advance instead of month-to-month. We will be adding to this page as more publishers share their information with us, so bookmark it and keep checking back.

The following guides are now available on

ADDITION by Toni Jordan: Grace Lisa Vandenburg, the narrator of this pleasant neurotic-girl-meets-boy debut, is 35 years old and has been addicted to counting since she was eight, but begins rethinking her odd behavior after a chance encounter.
THE BLUE SWEATER: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz: More than just an autobiography or a how-to guide to addressing poverty, THE BLUE SWEATER is a call to action that challenges us to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world.
THE BREAD OF ANGELS: A Journey to Love and Faith by Stephanie Saldaña: This unforgettable memoir celebrates the beauty of faith, the necessity of self-discovery and the possibility of true love.
ETERNAL ON THE WATER by Joseph Monninger: Set against the rugged wilderness of Maine, the exotic islands of Indonesia, the sweeping panoramas of Yellowstone National Park, and the tranquil villages of rural New England, ETERNAL ON THE WATER is at once heartbreaking and uplifting --- a timeless, beautifully rendered story of true love's power.
GIRL IN TRANSLATION by Jean Kwok: This inspiring debut centers on a young immigrant in America, a smart girl balancing schoolwork and factory labor, custom and desire, a girl who is forced at a young age to take responsibility for her family’s future, with decisions she may later regret.
THE HAPPINESS PROJECT: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin: Rubin chronicles her adventures during the 12 months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.
HONOLULU by Alan Brennert: With passionate knowledge of people and places far off the tourist track, HONOLULU is a spellbinding tale of four women in a new world, united by dreams, disappointment, sacrifices and friendship.
THE HUNGRY SEASON by T. Greenwood: From the acclaimed author of TWO RIVERS comes THE HUNGRY SEASON, a compelling and beautifully told story of hope, family and, above all, hunger --- for food, sex, love and success --- and for a way back to wholeness when a part of oneself has been lost forever.
LITTLE BEE by Chris Cleave: The lives of an English traveler and a Nigerian girl collide in the aftermath of a horrible accident.
LOOK AGAIN by Lisa Scottoline: A journalist’s world is upended when the boy on a missing child flyer looks suspiciously like her adopted son.
THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT by Kelly O’Connor McNees: McNees deftly mixes fact and fiction as she imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa’s writing career --- and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in LITTLE WOMEN.
LOWBOY by John Wray: A mother desperately searches for her schizophrenic son as he embarks to change the world and stop global warming.
MARRY HIM: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb: Suddenly finding herself 40 and single, Lori Gottlieb said the unthinkable in her March 2008 article in The Atlantic: Maybe she, and single women everywhere, needed to stop chasing the elusive Prince Charming and instead go for Mr. Good Enough.
THE MEMORY THIEF by Rachel Keener: When Angel sets fire to her childhood home, it isn’t the end --- it’s the beginning as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
ONE GOOD DOG by Susan Wilson: A disgraced man recovers from an embarrassing crime with the help of a dog trying to escape the pit fighting arena.
THE PATIENCE STONE: "SANG-E SABOOR" written by Atiq Rahimi, translated from the French by Polly McLean: Winner of the Prix Goncourt, THE PATIENCE STONE captures with great courage and spare, poetic prose, the reality of everyday life for an intelligent woman under the oppressive weight of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
POSTCARDS FROM A DEAD GIRL by Kirk Farber: POSTCARDS FROM A DEAD GIRL is a touching, almost cinematic debut novel featuring the eccentric, slightly disturbed, and unique character Sid, who finds himself obsessed by the mysterious postcards that arrive in the mail from his missing ex-girlfriend.
THE SPARE ROOM by Helen Garner: In her first novel in 15 years, Helen Garner writes about the joys and limits of female friendship under the transforming pressure of illness.
TALES FROM THE ZIRZAMEEN by Brian Hanson Appleton aka Rasool Aryadust:
TALES FROM THE ZIRZAMEEN is a nonfiction collection of short stories in chronological order about the author's experiences in Iran before, during and after the revolution in 1979.
THE THREE WEISSMANNS OF WESTPORT by Cathleen Schine: Overtones of Jane Austen’s SENSE AND SENSIBILITY underscore this story of an estranged wife bonding with her children in the seaside town of Westport, MA.

THE WEIGHT OF HEAVEN by Thrity Umrigar: Filled with satisfying real characters and glowing with local color,
THE WEIGHT OF HEAVEN is a rare glimpse of a family and a country struggling under pressures beyond their control.
/span>THE WIFE'S TALE by Lori Lansens: On the eve of their Silver Anniversary, Mary Gooch’s husband disappears. Mary begins a desperate search, and is forced to finally confront personal demons and secrets that have haunted her.
THE WOMEN by T.C. Boyle: Bestselling author T.C. Boyle examines the life of celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his relationships with a few very different women.
THE YELLOW HOUSE by Patricia Falvey: A family's future is in the hands of one very brave young Irishwoman in this debut set between World War I and the growing violence of the Irish war of independence.

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

CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese: An epic novel that spans continents and generations, CUTTING FOR STONE is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, compassion and redemption, exile and home that unfolds across five decades in India, Ethiopia and America.
PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION by Sara Houghteling: Set in a Paris darkened by World War II, Sara Houghteling’s sweeping and sensuous debut novel tells the story of a son’s quest to recover his family’s lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation.
PRAYERS FOR SALE by Sandra Dallas: A journey through love and sorrow, forgiveness and redemption, PRAYERS FOR SALE is ultimately a revelation of the finest parts of the human spirit --- and a novel no reader will soon forget.
A TARGET="_blank" HREF="">THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly: Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career.

The following new guides are now available for Christian book groups:

A DISTANT MELODY: Wings of Glory, Book One by Sarah Sundin: Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and instantly connect, setting in motion a relationship that unfolds through letters between Walt’s bomber base in England during World War II and Allie’s palatial mansion.
THE PROMISE OF MORNING: At Home in Beldon Grove, Book 2 by Ann Shorey: Ellie Craig grieves the loss of three infant children, and when long-hidden secrets are brought to light, she must find a way to contact the family of her long-lost father while her husband, Matthew, loses grasp of his church.
SCATTERED PETALS: Texas Dreams, Book 2 by Amanda Cabot: Longing for adventure, Priscilla Morton leaves Boston and heads for Texas, never dreaming that the adventure she seeks will leave her badly injured and her parents dead nor that she’ll begin the healing process with a handsome cowboy.


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This Week's Reviews
WORST CASE by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (Thriller)
The son of one of New York's wealthiest families is snatched off the street and held hostage. His parents can't save him, because this kidnapper isn't demanding money. Instead, he quizzes his prisoner on the price others pay for his life of luxury. In this exam, wrong answers are fatal. Detective Michael Bennett leads the investigation. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WORST CASE.

SHADOW TAG by Louise Erdrich (Fiction)
When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diary --- hidden where Gil will find it --- into a manipulative farce. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

POINT OMEGA by Don DeLillo (Fiction)
Demonstrating once again his uncanny ability to tap into our collective psyche, Don DeLillo’s latest novel is a spare yet probing exploration of some of the mysteries of human consciousness and existence. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

WENCH by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Historical Fiction)
Combining the narrative allure of CANE RIVER and the moral complexities of THE KNOWN WORLD, WENCH is a startling and original debut novel that raises provocative questions of power and freedom, love and dependence, witnessed through the lives of four black slave mistresses in the years before the Civil War. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

-Click here to read Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s blog post about WENCH.

CONSPIRATA: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris (Historical Fiction)
In Robert Harris's second installment of his Rome Trilogy, a struggle for political power begins when Cicero is sworn in as counsel of Rome. The great orator and Senator holds the safety of Rome and her citizens in his hands while enemies plot to take from him not only power but the city itself. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

SLEEPLESS by Charlie Huston (Thriller)
From bestselling author Charlie Huston comes a novel about the fears that find us all during dark times and the courage and sacrifice that can save us in the face of unimaginable odds. Gripping, unnerving, exhilarating and haunting, SLEEPLESS is well worth staying up for. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DEVOTION: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro (Memoir)
At first blush, Orthodox Judaism, Hindu yoga and Buddhist meditation have little in common. But all three use ritual as a way to order time and space and to explore one’s connection to the sacred. In her new memoir, Dani Shapiro reflects on the role of ritual and religion in her life as she comes to terms with parenthood, middle age, the loss of her own parents and life’s anxieties, as well as its potential for peace. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE BOOK OF FIRES by Jane Borodale (Historical Fiction)
With this stunning debut, Jane Borodale has created a very special character in Agnes Trussel. Unmarried, pregnant and just 17 years old, Agnes flees her country home --- and a future with an abusive husband --- and disappears into 1752 London. Fate hands her a favor when she finds employment as a pyrotechnic assistant. As she learns her new trade, she also learns her employer’s secrets. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

THE INFORMATION OFFICER by Mark Mills (Historical Thriller)
Mark Mills's bestselling novels AMAGANSETT and THE SAVAGE GARDEN have won him widespread acclaim for his singular brand of suspense. Weaving a haunting and atmospheric historical backdrop with a tense plot of murder and an unforgettable love story, Mills delivers another riveting tale in THE INFORMATION OFFICER. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

OCCUPIED CITY by David Peace (Historical Thriller)
On January 26, 1948, a man identifying himself as a public health official arrives at a bank in Tokyo claiming there has been an outbreak of dysentery in the neighborhood and that he has been assigned by Occupation authorities to treat everyone who might have been exposed to the disease. Soon after drinking the medicine he administers, 12 employees are dead, four are unconscious, and the “official” has fled. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom (Historical Fiction)
Orphaned while onboard a ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

Click here to read this week’s reviews.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth


If you don’t like a book written by an author who you typically read, will you continue reading books by that author?

Yes, but if that author disappoints me a second time, then I will stop reading his or her books
Not sure
I have never been disappointed by authors who I typically read.

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Name up to five authors of ongoing series books who never disappoint you.

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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 BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani, THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY by Heidi W. Durrow and LAST SNOW by Eric Van Lustbader. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, February 19th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.


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Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by February 28, 2010 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani, FANTASY IN DEATH by J.D. Robb, LAST SNOW by Eric Van Lustbader, SPLIT IMAGE: A Jesse Stone Novel by Robert B. Parker and WINTER GARDEN by Kristin Hannah. Sonia from Wallkill, NY was last month's winner. She won 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.

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