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February 19, 2010 Newsletter February 19, 2010
Thrills and Chills
Last weekend was subtitled “thriller weekend,” as I happened to read three books from the thriller genre back-to-back-to-back. I did not plan to read like this, but it just happened that all three books I plucked from my pile were thrillers. Ever notice how you can drop into a reading zone like that?

The weather was chilly and pretty gray, thus a fire in the fireplace and a book was the perfect antidote. It was also really chilly since the woodpile is located IN the snow, thus I would find myself planting my boots into shin deep snow to toss wood onto the driveway to carry to the back door and then bring inside. Let’s just say I think we would have made lousy pioneers, and I am overseeing wood stacking next year.

I started with Linwood Barclay’s NEVER LOOK AWAY, in stores March 9th, which opens with a couple taking their young son to an amusement park. The husband turns his back for a moment and the son goes missing, but soon you realize that that’s just the first thing that has gone awry. And by the time you get to the end of the book, you realize you forgot about that storyline as so much more has happened. I love Linwood’s writing since, just when I settled in with the story, it took me in another direction --- another fully developed direction. Once again he delivered a terrific book. And he has a wonderful book trailer that you can see here, where he shares an insider look inside the book. The trailer was shot by his very talented son. Bravo!

Next up was HELL GATE by Linda Fairstein, also in stores on March 9th, the title of which references the very narrow tidal strait of the East River off the island of Manhattan. It’s located near Gracie Mansion, known as the mayor’s residence (though at least two mayors, including the incumbent Bloomberg, choose not to live there but rather use it for ceremonial functions), where a good part of the action of this story takes place. Linda’s books always make me want to take walking tours of New York to explore the history of the city. She shares with readers the cultural and architectural riches that surround me, and each time I close her books I find myself walking the streets as a more careful observer. Of course there was a murder since Alex Cooper is on the scene. Again a tight story with a lot of curves and turns that was very satisfying. And I am not telling fans what happens with Luc and Alex in this one; you’ll have to read for yourself. Like Linwood, Linda also has a great book trailer, which you can enjoy here.

Side note: Linda and Kate White, whose book HUSH (in stores March 2nd) I wrote about a while ago, will both be appearing at Barnes & Noble on 82nd Street in New York on March 9th at 7PM. I’ll be there and it should be a fun evening. Let me know if you will be too.

Now I am reading Robert Dugoni’s BODILY HARM, which is set in Seattle and will be in stores May 25th. It opens with a trial of a malpractice case being tried by David Sloane, Dugoni’s ongoing character, about the wrongful death of a child where the doctor is found guilty. But all is not what it seems. Instead a toy designer intercepts Sloane on his way into court telling him that he is responsible for the deaths. I am about a third into this one and enjoying the way it’s unfolding, as well as the look inside the billion-dollar toy industry that Dugoni provides. There’s a line where they reference how the toy business has changed as kids do not just play anymore, but rather love gadgets and electronics.

One more author note. I was thrilled to see that Sarah Blake’s THE POSTMISTRESS will debut on the New York Times bestseller list at #8 and on the IndieBound list at #3. I was even more excited to learn from Diane, one of our readers, that Blake’s appearance in New York that I thought I had missed in the snowstorm has actually been rescheduled for March 8th at Barnes & Noble’s Upper East Side location. Nice!

Yesterday I visited’s offices in New Jersey. Beth Anderson was gracious enough to show me around, and I even had a chance to catch a recording session for one of the books they are recording in-house. Simon Prebble was the reading talent, and it's interesting to hear him read with his expressive British accent and watch editing happening right in front of me as word stumbles and phrasing were corrected on the spot. Though I am not an audiobook listener, I had a lot more appreciation for the format after this visit.

“And you read your Emily Dickinson and I my Robert Frost.” Every time I think of this next book, I think of that line from Paul Simon’s song "The Dangling Conversation." Our latest featured One to Watch author is Jerome Charyn whose novel THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON is such a delight. I, like many of you, have memories of Emily Dickinson from my school days. Remember when we used to have to memorize poetry? Didn’t at least one person always select a Dickinson poem? The story that Jerome weaves together here is a terrific blend of fact and fiction that shares with readers a look at Dickinson that is not quite what you would have imagined. I love the way he drops me into the period with writing so strong that I would look up and have to shake my head to move back into the present. We have 20 copies to give away here, but hurry as this contest ends Monday, February 22nd at noon ET. There was also a great interview with Jerome in a recent edition of Shelf Awareness, which you can check out here, along with the rest of our Facebook posts throughout the week.

We have a special opportunity for kids that I wanted to get on your radar. Cornelia Funke, author of the Inkheart series, is going to be interviewed on video at her home in California., our website for kids 6-12, is doing some outreach to children to see if they have questions for Cornelia. Do you know someone in that age range who is a fan? Click here and have them send it along.

I know we have taken on how to shelve books more than once on these pages, but I came across a piece online last week and I am labeling it the Dumb Idea of the Week --- shelving a book's spine IN so the room can have cleaner spare lines. This is what they say: “Why not display your books backwards on your bookshelves, so the pages face outward and the spine is hidden? Not only will those gold gilded pages shine, but your otherwise chaotic bookcase will look instantly streamlined.” The complete piece is here. There will be no book flipping in this house.

I have been watching the Olympics. The coverage has been uneven. LOTS of skating (I think we see every turn), thrilling snowboarding (doesn’t Shaun White make it look easy to drop off the side of a hill and then flip around?) and not enough skiing (there is even a Facebook group called “Why does NBC Hate Ski Racing?”). Confession: I still have no idea what a triple-toe loop or a salchow jump actually are, but when Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic tell me what’s going on, I listen with rapt attention. I did find this handy dandy list of skating terms I can pop up and follow along.

I rarely go to the movies, but this weekend I would love to go see both Shutter Island and The Ghost Writer. I loved Dennis Lehane’s SHUTTER ISLAND and felt that it never got all the praise it deserved. And The Ghost Writer looks terrific, and was adapted from Robert Harris's novel THE GHOST. More reading planned as well. Nice to have a weekend without a holiday, travel or other obligations. Read on, stay warm and here’s to a great week.

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: LAST SNOW by Eric Van Lustbader

LAST SNOW: A Jack McClure Novel by Eric Van Lustbader (Thriller)
While awaiting a crucial meeting with Russian president Yukin, a man named Lloyd Berns, the American president’s minority whip in the Senate, was killed in Capri. Surprising, yes, but not as surprising as the fact that he was in Capri at all. He was supposed to have been in Kiev. What made him change plans? President Carson’s right-hand man, Jack McClure, will find out. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

-Click here to read an excerpt from LAST SNOW.
-Visit Eric Van Lustbader’s official website,


Click here to read a review of LAST SNOW.

Now Available in Paperback: SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See
SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See (Fiction)
Lisa See's latest bestseller, SHANGHAI GIRLS, documents the immigration experience through the eyes of two sisters sold into marriage. In 1937 Shanghai, sisters Pearl and May are beautiful, modern and carefree --- until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and is selling the girls as wives to men from the United States. Along their journey, they make terrible sacrifices, face impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are --- Shanghai girls.

-Click here to read a review of SHANGHAI GIRLS.
-Click here to read an excerpt from SHANGHAI GIRLS.
-Visit Lisa See's official website,

Click here to read more about Lisa See and SHANGHAI GIRLS.


Author Talk: Robert Crais, Author of THE FIRST RULE

Though best known for his mysteries featuring private investigator Elvis Cole, Robert Crais's latest novel, THE FIRST RULE, is his second to center on the detective's ex-Marine/ex-L.A.P.D.-officer sidekick, Joe Pike. In this interview, Crais explains his emotional connection to his enigmatic protagonist and elaborates on the book's theme about one's need for family. He also discusses the research he performed on Eastern European gangs in preparation for this novel and reveals why he's hesitant to adapt his Cole/Pike stories for the big and small screens.

THE FIRST RULE: A Joe Pike Novel
by Robert Crais
Frank Meyer had the American dream --- until the day a professional crew invaded his home and murdered everyone inside. With the help of Elvis Cole, Joe Pike sets out on an investigation that quickly entangles them both in a web of ancient grudges, blood ties, blackmail, vengeance, double crosses and cutthroat criminal­ity. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of THE FIRST RULE.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE FIRST RULE.


Click here to read an interview with Robert Crais.

Author Talk: Heidi W. Durrow, Author of THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY

Heidi W. Durrow's debut work of fiction, THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY, was inspired by a true story, one she had read about in a newspaper article years ago. In this interview, Durrow explains how she based her main character on her own life experiences --- despite having not endured what is chronicled in the narrative --- and discusses the novel's structure and its symbolism regarding the protagonist's complicated history, as well as her struggle to move forward. She also describes how she became interested in writing after switching careers several times, shares sound advice to aspiring writers, and names some authors who have acted as both personal and professional influences.

THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY by Heidi W. Durrow (Fiction)
With her strict African American grandmother as her new guardian following the tragic death of her parents, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin brings mixed attention her way. Growing up in the 1980s, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white. Reviewed by Jamie Layton.

-Click here to read a review of THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY.
-Click here to watch a book trailer for THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY.

Click here to read an interview with Heidi W. Durrow.


Now in Stores: UNION ATLANTIC by Adam Haslett

UNION ATLANTIC by Adam Haslett (Fiction)
Centered on manipulation in the world of contemporary finance and a suburban land use battle, Adam Haslett’s debut novel is a character-driven modern morality play unafraid to deliver some harsh truths about the values that shape our lives today. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.
Click here to read a review of UNION ATLANTIC.


New Featured One to Watch Author: Jerome Charyn, Author of THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON

Jerome Charyn blends fact with fiction to bring readers THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON, an inventive novel that removes Emily Dickinson’s own mysterious mask and reveals the passions and heartbreak of America’s greatest poet. THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON will be available in stores on February 22nd.

We have 20 copies of THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON 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, February 22nd at noon ET.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON.
-Click here to read Jerome Charyn's bio.
-Click here to see Jerome Charyn's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for
-Visit Jerome Charyn's official website,

What if the old maid of Amherst wasn't an old maid after all? Her older brother, Austin, spoke of Emily as his "wild sister." Jerome Charyn, continuing his exploration of American history through fiction, has written a startling novel about Emily Dickinson in her own voice, with all its characteristic modulations that he learned from her letters and poems. Along the way, Charyn introduces us to members of Emily's inner circle, both real and imagined, who helped shape the legendary poet.


Click here to read more about Jerome Charyn and THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON.

Featured One to Watch Author: Susan Wilson, Author of ONE GOOD DOG

In the spirit of MARLEY & ME and THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, Susan Wilson's ONE GOOD DOG examines the companionship and healing power of "man's best friend" in this touching novel of a man who is on the edge of a breakdown and his canine companion who helps him mend. ONE GOOD DOG will be available in stores on March 2nd.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from ONE GOOD DOG.
-Click here to read Susan Wilson's bio.
-Click here to see Susan Wilson's backlist.

-Click here to read critical praise for ONE GOOD DOG.
-Visit Susan Wilson's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about ONE GOOD DOG:
Adam March is a Boston man recovering from the shame of a foolish crime. Chance is a scrappy pit bull mix trying to escape the illegal dogfight circuit. Together they find salvation. Adam, 46, is a ruthless self-made millionaire married to an icy socialite living a picture-perfect existence that includes a teen princess daughter. Adam is sentenced to community service following an outburst at the office and meets the adorable Chance, who teaches Adam about survival and what matters. Chance tells his story in his own words, which makes his mistreatment and return to the fighting pit powerfully disturbing.

Click here to read more about Susan Wilson and ONE GOOD DOG.


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

THE POSTMISTRESS, now available in stores, has been 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 review of THE POSTMISTRESS.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE POSTMISTRESS.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE POSTMISTRESS.
-Click here to read our interview with Sarah Blake.
-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,

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 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.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.
-Click here to read Beverly Barton's bio.
-Click here to see Beverly Barton's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.
-Visit Beverly Barton's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

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.

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.

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

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: Featured Suspense/Thriller Author Lisa Scottoline's LOOK AGAIN

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, is now available in paperback.

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 see the reading group guide for 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.

This Week's Reviews
HORNS by Joe Hill (Supernatural Thriller)
Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache…and a pair of horns growing from his temples. Ig then is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look --- a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed his beloved, Merrin, and destroyed his life. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE SWAN THIEVES by Elizabeth Kostova (Fiction)
Masterpiece theatre! Elizabeth Kostova explores the drama of art history in this seductive second novel (following her bestselling Dracula chronicle, THE HISTORIAN). It not only entices readers with an intriguing riddle --- why a painter would attack a canvas in Washington’s National Gallery --- but plunges us into the richness and detail of an artist’s inner vision. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE SWAN THIEVES.

THE WIFE’S TALE by Lori Lansens (Fiction)
On the eve of their 25th wedding anniversary, Mary's husband, Gooch, doesn't come home from work. His disappearance shocks her and hurls her into a world she never bothered to look at before. What Mary finds is a new life full of possibilities she didn’t let herself imagine until now. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE WIFE'S TALE.

THE LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY by Zachary Mason (Fiction)
The well-known and oft-recounted adventures of brave Odysseus of Homeric myth find themselves resculpted and wholly engaging in Zachary Mason's debut novel. With great precision and wit, Mason reimagines the grand journey of pitfalls and adventure and provides a whole new outlook on the great myth of The Odyssey. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

HESTER: The Missing Years of The Scarlet Letter by Paula Reed (Historical Fiction)
Nathaniel Hawthorne omitted several years from Hester Prynne’s life when he wrote THE SCARLET LETTER. In her debut novel, Paula Reed fills in what happened to the scorned woman and her impertinent child during those missing years. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

THE AMERICAN GIRL by Monika Fagerholm (Fiction)
Crime mystery and gothic saga, social study and chronicle of the late ’60s and early ’70s, a portrait of the psyche of young girls on the cusp of sexual awakening, THE AMERICAN GIRL is a bewitching glimpse of the human capacity for survival and for self-inflicted wounds. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE BOYS FROM SANTA CRUZ by Jonathan Nasaw (Thriller)
When troubled teen Luke Sweet is left orphaned and homeless, the court ships him off to a treatment program for juvenile delinquents. Little Luke has a twisted past, though, and when several members of the group turn up dead, he quickly becomes the number one suspect. Former FBI agent E. L. Pender must track him down before anyone else gets hurt. But when clues about another psycho-killer surface, the case becomes much more dangerous than anyone thought possible. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER by George Bishop (Fiction)
The year is 2004, and it’s the eve of Liz's 15th birthday.
A family disagreement escalates, and Laura slaps her daughter on the cheek. During the night, Liz slips out of the house and drives away in Laura’s car. While waiting, worrying and hoping for Liz’s safe return home, Laura pours out her love in a heartfelt letter describing her own very turbulent teen years. Reviewed by Carole Turner.
Click here to read this week’s reviews.

Poll and Question of the Week: Book Covers

Do you remove the dust jacket (the detachable outer cover) on a hardcover book when you read it?

All of the time
Some of the time
I only read library books.
I don't read hardcover books.
Not sure

-Click here to answer our poll.


Share up to five books that you feel have distinctive covers.

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can Win THREE Books!

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 HOUSE RULES by Jodi Picoult, HUSH by Kate White and SPLIT IMAGE: A Jesse Stone Novel by Robert B. Parker. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, March 5th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.

Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.

As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online or change your preferences below.

Those of you who wish to send mail to, please see the form on the Write to Us page. If you would like to reach me, please write Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by 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.

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

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