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February 26, 2010 Newsletter February 26, 2010
Snow = Time for Reading

I am getting a tad bored with the gray and white palette outside my window. The flakes have been flying for days --- yesterday there was a point where I could not see across the street from the office in New York, and today, while the backyard is pretty, I am ready for some color. My good friend Seale Ballenger just passed me a link to a church sign that said, “Whoever is praying for snow, please stop.” I am in agreement. I love snow days when I can enjoy them and kick back, but these storms have meant I just hunker down and work at home instead of at the office. Not so much fun!

I would have thought that the accumulation of white stuff would have my younger son salivating to grab his shovel and go make some more money shoveling driveways, but I was told “that was so last week.” I guess when you are 15 years old $100 can last you a pretty long time, thus there is no urgent need to hoist the shovel and tote that snow again!

The snow has taken its toll on retail, and Jamie Layton has written a terrific blog post for us today on that references the importance of supporting small businesses at a time like this since they lack the “cushion” that large companies have with an unplanned loss of revenue.

Keeping with the snowy theme of the week, I read Charles Martin’s book, THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US, which will be in stores on June 1st. I have been reading Charles since his first book was in manuscript. He’s moved his writing to a whole new level here with the story of Ben Payne, an orthopedic surgeon who charters a plane to get home as a snowstorm closes the airport. He brings along a young woman named Ashley Knox, who is trying to get home for her wedding. The small plane crashes, the pilot is killed, and it’s up to Ben to get them off the mountain safely. They are two strangers thrown together who become two people dependent on each other for survival. Great reading, and for the record, if I ever am in the airport and the flights are cancelled due to snow, I am NOT going to charter a plane, which I always thought would be a really smart idea.

We’re excited to spotlight Francine Rivers, whose book HER MOTHER’S HOPE will be in stores on March 16th, as our latest Historical Fiction featured author. Both Erin Quinn in our office and I read this one and loved it! It’s a big sweeping story of a woman who moves her family across the world and the relationship she develops with her daughter as the years go by. I was caught up in the plot, the characters and the vivid descriptions of place. It’s the first of two books, and the second is scheduled for this fall. There is further testimony on how wonderful this one is, as Erin spent two evenings planted at her desk reading way past our normal working hours since she did not want to stop even to walk home. We have 20 copies to give away here to those who would like to read it and comment about it. Enter by Friday, March 5th at noon ET. Please note that we expect those who elect to be early readers to share their comments with us. If we do not hear from you, it could impact your chances of being selected as an early reader in the future!

We also have reader comments for Sarah Blake’s THE POSTMISTRESS, which remains at #8 on the New York Times bestseller list again this week, as well as #5 on the IndieBound list. And our interviews this week with Jerome Charyn about THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON (loved his references to how her writing moved him), Beverly Barton about DEAD BY MIDNIGHT and Gregg Olsen about VICTIM SIX will shed some wonderful light on these books.

I got to see Shutter Island last weekend and is one of the best book adaptations that I have seen. While it’s dark and atmospheric, it is not “scary.” I had more than one person say they thought it would keep them up nights from seeing the commercials and thus they were skipping it, thus I feel I have to say I never saw that. Definitely worth catching, but read the book first. I got a copy of the graphic novel adaptation this week, and I am looking forward to checking it out.

In response to the piece I linked you to last week about the folks who think shelving books on shelves backwards is a “good thing,” Janice from Sykesville, MD shared a blog with me where each day there is another photograph of a book collection. It’s called “Book lovers never go to bed alone” and can be found here.

Speaking of fun things on the web, here’s one we found on Facebook. ONE GOOD DOG is a book about a man who is down on his luck, and a dog who is all out of chances. Together they discover the true meaning of salvation, redemption and unconditional love. So who’s Your Good Dog? Click here and post a picture and explanation of how your dog (or turtle, or human, etc!) has transformed your life and share “your good dog!”

Monday night I was a presenter at The New York City - Southern New York Chapter of the National MS Society, which presented the 14th Annual Books for a Better Life Awards. Robin Roberts, the co-anchor of "Good Morning America," was the host and introduced me, which was quite cool. We have a link to the awards and a photo with Robin, the winners, other presenters and organizers and me, which you can see here. Beth asked on Facebook if I made my sweater; I did, and in my favorite color, too! Speaking of Facebook, you can become a fan of here. For those of you not on Facebook, we encourage you to read a wrap-up of our daily postings here.

This weekend, in addition to reading, I want to figure out which Oscar-nominated movies I have not yet seen in anticipation of the awards next weekend. First up is The Hurt Locker. And of course there will be Olympic action wrap-up. I did not get to watch as much of the Olympics as I would have liked, but there were many memorable moments. Yesterday, watching the aerials where there were turns and flips at dizzying heights, I realized that having two feet on the ground while typing is much more my style. I hope they have the exhibition skating segment over the weekend where the skaters skate for fun. I always like that.

Also, I have been keeping up with "Big Love," which is over the top this season with just two episodes left. I loved the song at the end of last week’s episode, "Your Protector" by Fleet Foxes, which you can listen to here. It was a perfect soundtrack for that ending, which got me thinking about soundtracks of life and soundtracks for reading. There are moments when I love walking through a city or airport with my iPod on pacing my walk with the perfect music.

The sun is peaking out, and I am seeing a splash of blue in the sky. Must go explore this phenomenon. Also, Cory and his friend are baking chocolate chip cookies, and based on yesterday’s efforts they will be terrific. Here’s to finding something wonderful to read and enjoy. And may March come in like a lamb. I am tired of these lion moments.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Jerome Charyn, Author of THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON

Jerome Charyn is the author of nearly 40 titles, including three memoirs and the novels DARLIN’ BILL, BLUE EYES and CITIZEN SIDEL. His latest book, THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON, uncovers the vast but little-known private life of the famously reclusive 19th-century American poet. In this interview with’s Melanie Smith, Charyn explains what initially appealed to him about this literary and historical figure, and describes how he seamlessly incorporated elements of fiction into her biography in this account. He also recalls his reaction to seeing her home during a visit to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Massachusetts, reflects on her mass appeal over 120 years after her death, and shares details about his upcoming novel that takes place in 1940s Germany.

In an outstanding tribute to one of the greats, author Jerome Charyn brings Emily Dickinson back to her full living form, challenging perceptions we've been left with. The withered spinster with the blank stare is obliterated, and in her place is an intelligent, lonely woman who seems more sensual goddess than recluse. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

-Click here to read a review of THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON.
-Click here to read a second 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,

-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

Click here to read our interview with Jerome Charyn. Talks to Beverly Barton, Author of DEAD BY MIDNIGHT

Beverly Barton's most recent romantic thriller, DEAD BY MIDNIGHT, features Lorie Hammonds and Sheriff Mike Birkett --- secondary characters from the previous novel SILENT KILLER --- who find themselves caught up in a serial murder plot against the cast of an adult film. In this interview with's Donna Volkenannt, Barton credits her editor for the initial inspiration to create a protagonist with a sordid past and explains how much of her hometown influenced the book's fictional setting of Dunmore, Alabama. She also discusses the process of finding evocative titles for each of her books, singles out a few of her favorite characters from her backlist of over 60 titles, and shares details about various projects in the works --- including a new series and two follow-ups to DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.

DEAD BY MIDNIGHT by Beverly Barton (Romantic Suspense)
The Midnight Killer is obsessed with the porn movie Midnight Masquerade. With stealth and precision, he stalks the victims on his list --- all characters connected with the film. As the body count rises, and with former Midnight Masquerade actress Lorie Hammonds in his crosshairs, it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

-Click here to read a review of DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.
-Click here to read an 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.


Click here to read our interview with Beverly Barton. Talks to Gregg Olsen, Author of VICTIM SIX

Gregg Olsen's latest stand-alone thriller, VICTIM SIX, centers on a seemingly unpatterned string of murders that occur around Washington's Puget Sound. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Olsen provides a bit of insight into the minds of serial killers regarding the "proximity zones" and unwritten "rules" of their crimes, and describes some of the hands-on research he performed to accurately portray elements of the plot and setting. He also discusses some recent advancements made in the field of forensic science, reflects on the difficulties of working on several writing projects at once, and shares his thoughts on two of the most high-profile and influential true crime stories in recent years.

VICTIM SIX by Gregg Olsen (Thriller)
The bodies are found in towns and cities around Puget Sound. The young women who are the victims had nothing in common, yet somebody carefully chose them to stalk, capture and torture --- a depraved killer whose cunning is matched only by the depth of his bloodlust. The dying has only just begun, and the next victim will be the most shocking of all. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of VICTIM SIX.
-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,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.


Click here to read our interview with Gregg Olsen.

New Featured Historical Fiction Author: Francine Rivers, Author of HER MOTHER'S HOPE

From bestselling author Francine Rivers comes HER MOTHER'S HOPE, the first novel in a powerful two-book saga. This sweeping story, which spans continents and generations while exploring the bond between mothers and daughters, will be available in stores on March 16th.

We have 20 copies of HER MOTHER'S HOPE to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, March 5th at noon ET.

-Click here to read an excerpt from HER MOTHER'S HOPE.
-Click here to read Francine Rivers's bio.
-Click here to see Francine Rivers's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for
-Visit Francine Rivers's official website,

Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta’s experiences convince her that only the strong survive. Hildie, Marta’s oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse during World War II gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother.

Click here to read more about Francine Rivers and HER MOTHER'S HOPE.


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 third 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.


Now in Stores: FANTASY IN DEATH by J.D. Robb

FANTASY IN DEATH by J.D. Robb (Mystery)
NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas is having as much trouble figuring out how Bart Minnock was murdered as who did the murdering. The victim's girlfriend seems sincerely grief-stricken, and his quirky but brilliant partners at U-Play appear equally shocked. No one seemed to have a prob­lem with the enthusiastic, high-spirited millionaire. Of course, success can attract jealousy, and gaming, like any business, has its fierce rivalries and dirty tricks
. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from FANTASY IN DEATH.

Click here to read a review of FANTASY IN DEATH.

Now in Stores: LIVE TO TELL by Wendy Corsi Staub

LIVE TO TELL by Wendy Corsi Staub (Thriller)
All Lauren Walsh wants is to protect her children from the pain of her messy divorce. But when their father goes missing, a case of mistaken identity puts all their lives in danger, and a stealthy predator lurks in the shadows, watching and waiting. Lauren is about to uncover an unfathomable truth --- a truth this cold-blooded mastermind would never let her live to tell. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from LIVE TO TELL.
-Visit Wendy Corsi Staub’s official website,


Click here to read a review of LIVE TO TELL.


Now in Stores: MONEY TO BURN by James Grippando

MONEY TO BURN by James Grippando (Thriller)
In this timely stand-alone thriller ripped from the headlines, New York Times bestselling author James Grippando explores a world in which the destruction of financial institutions and the people who run them can occur in a matter of hours --- perhaps even minutes. Reviewed by Roz Shea.


Click here to read a review of MONEY TO BURN.

Now in Stores: MAKING TOAST by Roger Rosenblatt
MAKING TOAST: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt (Memoir)
There was a time when a brief account of three generations of a close-knit family living under the same roof and struggling to make sense of the death of a young wife and mother wouldn’t have been all that extraordinary. That it takes place within the last two years in an affluent household in Bethesda, Maryland, transforms Roger Rosenblatt’s plainspoken, heartfelt memoir into something remarkable. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.
Click here to read a review of MAKING TOAST.

What's New on

Movies based on comic-book properties continue to be among the top entertainment offered by Hollywood...and that includes animated films! Over at, editor John Hogan was part of the media invited to attend the premiere of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, and he shares his review (and other tidbits from the film's writer as well as one of its stars, James Woods). Plus, meet Chinese artist and writer Benjamin in an exclusive interview, catch up on all the latest graphic novel reviews, and find out what new books are coming out soon for all age groups --- adults, teens and kids!

Click here to visit


Special Chat Opportunity for Readers has some exciting news to share with you. Cornelia Funke, the internationally bestselling author of THE THIEF LORD and the Inkheart trilogy, will be answering questions from our readers! If you know any children in the 6-12 age range who has a question for her, have them click here and send it along by Monday, March 15th. Funke will be responding to some of their questions in an online video from her home in California, and we will let you know where you can see the interview as soon as it’s available. Fans also will be thrilled to know that RECKLESS, the first installment in Funke’s new fantasy series, will be releasing on September 14th. If you know any children who would like more details about the book, now would be the perfect time for them to ask her!

-Click here to ask Cornelia Funke a question.

This Week's Reviews

REMARKABLE CREATURES by Tracy Chevalier (Historical Fiction)
Mary Anning spends her days hunting fossils on the beaches of Lyme Regis. A discovery of hers creates an uproar in the scientific community and challenges previously accepted beliefs of evolution and extinction. Her friend, Elizabeth Philpot, becomes her unlikely champion in making sure that Mary and her finds are not forgotten. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

POOR LITTLE BITCH GIRL by Jackie Collins (Romance)
Childhood friends Annabelle, Denver and Carolyn went their separate ways as adults. But the murder of Annabelle’s mother, the beautiful movie star Gemma Summer, has reunited these beauties, and the disagreements of the past are forgotten as they all try to forge new lives in spite of their previous scandals and secrets. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

APPLE TURNOVER MURDER: A Hannah Swensen Mystery with Recipes by Joanne Fluke (Mystery)
When a smarmy community college professor ends up dead, it’s up to Hannah Swensen to take time out from her busy baking schedule to track down the killer of this plagiaristic poet and bring him or her to justice. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

BLACK HILLS by Dan Simmons (Supernatural Historical Thriller)
Dan Simmons follows his international bestseller DROOD with BLACK HILLS, an epic tale of supernatural suspense set on the American frontier that includes Native American mysticism, General Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn, and the improbable life of a young Sioux warrior named Paha Sapa. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

DRIVE TIME: A Charlotte McNally Novel by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Mystery)
Investigative reporter Charlotte McNally is an expert at keeping things confidential, but suddenly everyone has a secret --- and it turns out it is possible to know too much. Her latest scoop --- an exposé of a dangerous car scam, complete with stakeouts, high-speed chases and hidden-camera footage --- is ratings gold. But soon that leads her to a brand-new and diabolical scheme. Reviewed by Hillary Wagy.

MR. DARCY BROKE MY HEART by Beth Pattillo (Romance)
Is it even possible, in the eyes of a Jane Austen fan, to think that Mr. Darcy is capable of breaking the heroine's heart? Obviously the answer is yes, but in that case, how could the story possibly end well? Rest assured that it does. Author Beth Pattillo has found a way to ruffle the feathers of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE fans and then restore their confidence in love --- and in gentlemen. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

RESCUING OLIVIA by Julie Compton (Thriller)
Anders Erickson has fallen for Olivia, who likes to live in the moment and doesn’t want to talk about her past. That’s fine with Anders --- who has his own memories he’d like to forget --- until a car runs their motorcycle off the road and causes an accident that puts Olivia in a coma. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

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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