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August 13, 2010 Newsletter August 13, 2010
Reading Adventures from the Pool and Hammock
My plan for reading and more reading, as well as relaxing, definitely worked last weekend. Saturday was a lovely day of floating in the pool and swinging in the hammock reading the novel LIPSTICK IN AFGHANISTAN by Roberta Gately, which will be in stores on November 9th. In LIPSTICK, the protagonist is a nurse who has volunteered in Afghanistan as an aid worker. Roberta has worked overseas including a stint in Afghanistan, thus her writing about this is pitch perfect. It’s a fast-paced, sharp read that humanizes the stories we hear on the news, getting to know the pressures and dangers facing those who have these jobs. On Sunday I was making dinner when I saw the horrific report about the Afghan aid workers who had been killed. After reading Roberta's book, I pictured her characters as those people, and it made her book even more powerful.

Next up was another novel, THE TRUE MEMOIRS OF LITTLE K, by Adrienne Sharp, which will be in stores October 26th. It's the story of a 99-year-old ballerina, Mathilde Kschessinska, who writes about her memories as a prima ballerina in the Russian Imperial Ballet. It’s lush historical fiction, and on a very warm Sunday afternoon I was swept off to chilly Russia and the opulent world that surrounded these characters before the Revolution. The descriptions of time and place made the history come alive for me. I look forward to finishing this one in the weeks to come.

But since I often am reading ahead to ensure I have books I want to share with you in advance of their publication, I closed LITTLE K and moved over to JULIET by Anne Fortier, which will be in stores on August 24th as that date is creeping up. August really snuck up on me! This was another book I had started a while ago and told you a bit about, so I have been longing to get back to it. Set in present day as well as ancient Siena, Italy, it tells the story of a woman who finds that her own family’s history goes all the way back to the original story of Romeo and Juliet, which actually took place in Siena, not Verona. Fortier was born in Denmark and would visit Verona often as a child, but when she learned about the story’s Siena origins, her own story took hold. She was living in the States at the time, and her mom was her researcher. Again, I was seeing another city from afar. Love that!

In stores this week is WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE by Sally Koslow (pictured above). A few members of our staff joined me to attend Sally’s standing-room-only event, where she shared the story of her four characters, who are wonderfully written together. Mapping from one chapter to the next to have this read seamlessly was a real challenge, but one that is rewarding to readers and becomes one juicy beach book. Here’s what our reviewer, Bronwyn Miller, says: "What could have been just another story of female friends, a la 'Sex and the City,' turns out to be, in Koslow's hands, an elevated, biting tale of human foibles."

Sandra Brown’s TOUGH CUSTOMER is in stores this week as well. I always save Sandra’s book for vacation and have my annual float in the pool reading it, but I am sooooo tempted to plunge into it now. Here’s what our reviewer, Joe Hartlaub, says: "[Sandra] Brown is well known for incorporating interesting and suspenseful plot twists into her novels; that being said, she outdoes herself here." Let’s see if I can resist a few more weeks! I fear that books are my chocolate…I must indulge.

Gail Caldwell’s LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME is a look at her deep friendship with Caroline Knapp, the author of DRINKING: A Love Story, a memoir of her issues with alcohol. Gail and Caroline were friends. One of them lives and one dies. It’s a grief book, but also a story of the power of friendship and common stories in life. I so look forward to reading it. Gail writes: “It’s the oldest of stories; I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.” I read Jesse Kornbluth’s piece on this book on earlier this week and am so glad that we too are sharing this book with you this week with our reviewer, Terry Miller Shannon, who says "LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME is a lyrical homage to a true love connection." Caroline is also the author of APPETITES: Why Women Want and PACK OF TWO: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs.

Monday afternoon I jumped in a cab and went over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity exhibit about the history of the fashion and lifestyle of modern women from 1890-1940. I had been invited by Random House Children’s Books, who will be publishing VIXEN by Jillian Larkin, a young adult novel, on December 14th. Jillian was there, and she loves the flapper era, and thus quickly dashed a headpiece onto her head (pictured above). The collection was fantastic, and I am glad I got to see this before it closes on August 15th. I am sorry I did not get to the roof to see Doug + Mike Starn on the Roof: Big Bambú, but the weather has been so brutal I did not want to venture outdoors for this exhibit. It’s open until October 31st, so there is time!

Today marks the release of an eagerly anticipated summer movie, Eat Pray Love, the adaptation based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling memoir and starring Julia Roberts. As this was a huge book club selection, we’re doing some fun things with it over on You can win 20 copies of the movie tie-in edition just by signing up for our newsletter here. Every month we give away 20 copies to a subscriber, randomly choosing someone during the first week of the month.

Our poll on that site asks, “Does your book club ever take a group trip to see a movie that is based on a book?” So if you’re in a book club, you can vote here, and while you’re there, enter our 10th Anniversary Contest for a chance to win one of our 50 $200 gift cards.

Our office was able to score some tickets to an advance screening of Eat Pray Love, and some folks went, reporting back that they enjoyed it, particularly the "Eat" chapter in Italy. Everyone left hungry! All their reviews were positive. I am planning to see it with my good friend Rachel this weekend.

One Young Adult novel that you’ll be hearing a lot about in the coming weeks is MOCKINGJAY, which is the third and final volume in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series, which will be published on August 24th. This is going to be one of the biggest releases of the summer, and although you’ll find the books --- THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE --- in the Young Adult section, we KNOW a lot of adults will be checking this series out. Earlier this year, Suzanne was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People and one of the only authors on the list. You can read her entry here. On, we’re hosting a contest where fans can create their own book trailer for MOCKINGJAY, and the lucky winner gets a signed edition. So if you know aspiring directors and actors, have them check out the details here. Teen readers are also encouraged to take our Redesign Survey, which closes on Monday, to help us give us advice on that site's planned makeover.

In addition to our Redesign Survey, we have also been doing a lot of work and research about launching a website aimed at readers between the ages of 17 and 30 years old. We think this is an underserved age group, and we're beginning to gather feedback about what authors, titles and features readers in that age range would want to see. We've code-named this project CO-20 for now, and you can take our survey here. Please share this link with any readers you know in this age range. Completing the survey automatically enters readers to win one of the $25 gift cards we're giving away!

Don’t forget our latest Beach Bag of Books contest. Our current titles have a “crime” theme as we’re featuring BURN by Nevada Barr; THE DARK END OF THE STREET, a collection of short stories from the likes of Lee Child, Michael Connelly and more; STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens; and THEY’RE WATCHING by Gregg Hurwitz. As always, we have five stocked beach bags, including a copy of each title, to give away and five collections of the books for runners-up. Enter here by Friday, August 20th at noon ET. You can keep up to date on our contests, reviews, interviews and other book news on our Facebook page, or read our weekly posts here.

More reading and floating planned for the weekend as my reading stack has some terrific titles on it. Here’s hoping you too find something wonderful to read. Have a great week.

Carol Fitzgerald (>)

Now in Stores: TOUGH CUSTOMER by Sandra Brown

TOUGH CUSTOMER by Sandra Brown (Thriller)
Private investigator Dodge Hanley’s daughter, Berry, has become the object of desire of a co-worker who has spent the past year making her life hell and now has vowed to kill her. The alarming situation goes from bad to worse when the stalker begins to claim other victims and leaves an ominous trail of clues as he lethally works his way toward Berry.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Click here to read a review of TOUGH CUSTOMER.'s Latest Summer Beach Bag Contest: BURN, THE DARK END OF THE STREET, STILL MISSING and THEY'RE WATCHING

Whether your "beach" is on sand, your backyard deck, or a grassy meadow in the country, the summer months mean it's time for "beach reading." is celebrating the lazy days of summer reading with our Sixth Annual Beach Bag of Books feature and contests.

During select weeks from May 28th through September 3rd, we will highlight a different book or collection of books from
these featured titles with a contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with the featured book(s) and summertime essentials. Five FABULOUS beach bags will be given away each week, as well as five copies of the featured book(s) to additional winners.

We are currently spotlighting four titles of mystery, mayhem, suspense and thrills:

BURN: An Anna Pigeon Novel by Nevada Barr (Mystery)
While Anna Pigeon is staying with Geneva, an old friend from the National Park Service, she crosses paths with a tenant of Geneva’s, a creepy guy named Jordan. She discovers what seems to be an attempt to place a curse on her --- a gruesomely killed pigeon marked with runic symbols --- and begins to slowly find traces of very dark doings in the heart of post-Katrina New Orleans.

THE DARK END OF THE STREET: New Stories of Sex and Crime by Today’s Top Authors edited by Jonathan Santlofer and S.J. Rozan (Crime Anthology)
Sex and crime: the centerpieces of some of the most compelling literature the world has ever known. The Bible. Homer. Shakespeare. Tolstoy. They can define us, motivate us, make us tower with rage or quiver with shame. And in the hands of some of today’s great writers, they get us into all sorts of trouble.

STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens (Suspense)
On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals --- sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

THEY’RE WATCHING by Gregg Hurwitz (Suspense)
Patrick Davis is a man with troubles. First his Hollywood dreams crumble and then his storybook marriage hits a snag. Now, DVDs start being delivered to his house --- DVDs that show someone is watching him and his wife, that the two of them are being stalked and recorded by cameras hidden in their house. Then the e-mails start, and someone offers to fix everything.

Click here to read all the contest details.


Now in Stores: HANGMAN by Faye Kellerman

HANGMAN: A Decker/Lazarus Novel by Faye Kellerman (Mystery)
LAPD Lieutenant Peter Decker reluctantly agrees to do a big favor for his old friend, Terry McLaughlin, even though his involvement will bring her sociopathic husband, Chris Donatti, back into his life. Then McLaughlin goes missing and Donatti disappears, leaving their 14-year-old son in the care of Decker and his wife, Rina Lazarus. Decker’s search for Terry must share center stage with the gruesome murder of a young health care worker. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.
Click here to read a review of HANGMAN.

Now in Stores: LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME by Gail Caldwell

LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell (Memoir)
When Gail Caldwell first met Caroline Knapp, their party-chatter exchange was unremarkable. Neither could have predicted how close they would someday become or the passions they would share --- much less the moving and devastating memoir that Caldwell would pen after Knapp's death. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to read an excerpt from LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME.

Click here to read a review of LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME.


Now in Stores: SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY by Gary Shteyngart

SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY by Gary Shteyngart (Fiction)
Recently crowned as one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40,” in his third novel --- following THE RUSSIAN DEBUTANTE’S HANDBOOK and ABSURDISTAN --- Gary Shteyngart offers a brilliant satire of life and love in a futuristic New York City that bears a chilling resemblance to our own time. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to read an excerpt from SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY.

Click here to read a review of SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY.


Now in Stores: WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE by Sally Koslow


WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE by Sally Koslow (Fiction)
Quincy, Talia, Chloe and Jules met in the early ’90s after answering a roommate ad for a Manhattan apartment. Despite having little in common, the women became fast friends. Now, more than a decade later, their friendships are still intact, but they find their bonds tested in ways they never could have imagined. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE.
-Visit Sally Koslow’s official website,


Click here to read a review of WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE.

Now in Theaters: Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Eat Pray Love
Liz Gilbert had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having --- a husband, a house, a successful career --- yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India; and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Meet charming and jobless Scott Pilgrim. A bass guitarist for the garage band Sex Bob-omb, the 22-year-old has just met the girl of his dreams…literally. The only catch to winning Ramona Flowers? Her seven evil exes are coming to kill him. Genre-smashing filmmaker Edgar Wright tells the amazing story of one romantic slacker’s quest to power up with love in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Click here for more details about these and other films releasing in August.'s 10th Anniversary Contest --- $10,000 in Prizes! Contest Ends August 31st is celebrating its 10th anniversary!

We appreciate all of you who have been loyal readers and contributors to the site. One of the best parts about watching flourish over the last decade has been the opportunity to be a part of book clubs in far-flung places. Imagine if we could celebrate with all of you in person --- what an event that would be! Since that’s not possible, we’ve come up with a way to celebrate with you: a special contest with $10,000 in prizes.

Click here to read all the contest details.

The Book Report Network’s CO-20 Survey: Seeking Readers Between 17 and 30 Years Old

The Book Report Network is considering creating a website targeted to college and twenty-something readers. Before we do that, though, we wanted to get some feedback from readers aged 17-30, since we are planning this site for a very targeted audience. This is so new that for the moment we are using the code name “CO-20” for this project.

We estimate that it will take about 10 minutes to complete the survey. Respondents who complete the survey are eligible to enter a drawing to win a $25 gift card to the bookstore of their choice. 100 winners will be selected at random.

The survey will close on Friday, October 15th at 11:59PM ET.

-Click here for more information about the survey.


Click here to take the CO-20 Survey.’s MOCKINGJAY Unofficial Video Contest
The release date for MOCKINGJAY --- the final installment in The Hunger Games trilogy --- is fast approaching, and is celebrating its arrival with an exciting giveaway contest! Scholastic will provide us with a copy of MOCKINGJAY after the August 24th release, complete with a bookplate signed by author Suzanne Collins, to be given to the winner.

In order to enter the contest, teens must create their own two-minute videos about The Hunger Games series. There will be two themes for them to choose from. Or, if they’re feeling really inspired, they can do both!

The contest will close on August 20th at 11:59AM ET, and the winner will be announced on August 23rd.

Click here to read all the contest details.'s 2010 Redesign Survey

We're getting ready to redesign, our site dedicated to teens. After getting some feedback from readers about the design of the site in our 2009 Reader Survey last summer, we now have some more in-depth questions for them about what they would like to see.

We estimate that it will take about 10 minutes to complete the survey.

All of the respondents who complete the survey can enter to win a random drawing to receive one of 100 free books, four $25 gift cards, or the grand prize of a $100 gift card to a bookstore of their choice.

If you know readers who may be interested in responding to this survey, may we ask you to forward this link to them? The more voices that are heard for this, the better!

The survey will close on Monday, August 16th at 11:59PM ET.

-Click here for more information about the survey.


Click here to take the Redesign Survey.

This Week's Reviews
THE OVERTON WINDOW by Glenn Beck (Thriller)
Noah Gardner, a twenty-something public relations executive, meets Molly Ross, a woman who is consumed by the knowledge that the America we know is about to be lost forever. She and her group of patriots have vowed to remember the past and fight for the future --- but Noah, convinced they're just misguided conspiracy-theorists, isn't interested in lending his considerable skills to their cause. And then the world changes. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE WHISPERERS: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly (Thriller)
In his latest dark and chilling Charlie Parker thriller, John Connolly takes us to the border between Maine and Canada. It is there, in the vast and porous Great North Woods, that a dangerous smuggling operation is taking place, run by a group of disenchanted former soldiers, newly returned from Iraq. Illicit goods --- drugs, cash, weapons, even people --- are changing hands. And something else has changed hands. Something ancient and powerful and evil. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

IT ALL BEGAN IN MONTE CARLO by Elizabeth Adler (Romantic Suspense)
Elizabeth Adler’s romantic French Riviera adventures are as addictive as the French rose her chic and sophisticated characters sip to celebrate every occasion. IT ALL BEGAN IN MONTE CARLO is a world-class beach read, complete with the scent of the sea, a little mystery, and sweeping vistas of white yachts and luxury hotels. Reviewed by Hillary Wagy.

MIDNIGHT ANGELS by Lorenzo Carcaterra (Thriller)
In the beautiful Italian city of Florence, an American art student is searching for a lost Michelangelo. Fortunately, for her, there are people on those streets watching her and hoping she finds what she seeks. But not all of them are there to protect her. Some are there to kill her. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

THE BLIND CONTESSA’S NEW MACHINE by Carey Wallace (Historical Fiction)
In the early 1800s, a young Italian contessa, Carolina Fantoni, realizes she is going blind shortly before she marries the town's most sought-after bachelor. Her parents don't believe her, nor does her fiancé. The only one who understands is the eccentric local inventor and her longtime companion, Turri. As darkness erases her world, she discovers one place she can still see --- in her dreams. Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds.

THE BLESSINGS OF THE ANIMALS by Katrina Kittle (Fiction)
Veterinarian Camden Anderson's life comes crashing down around her when her husband of 18 years announces without warning that he does not want to be married to her anymore, and out the door he walks. This novel follows Cam through a bewildering time of pain, upheaval, despair and self-examination. The animals she rescues and the people closest to her teach her about healing, trust and second chances. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE BLESSINGS OF THE ANIMALS.

THE DOUBLE HUMAN by James O’Neal (Science Fiction/Thriller)
The world has been shattered, and disease and war have ravaged the earth. Amid the chaos, where crime and murder happen in a breath, Tom Wilner stumbles into the path of a wild and brutal adversary --- a serial killer who he has been active for nearly 50 years without any repercussions. People call him "the Vampire." Indeed, he is not human...and neither are his victims. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE GREAT: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour by Rachel Shukert (Memoir)
When she lands a coveted nonpaying, nonspeaking role in a play going on a European tour, Rachel Shukert --- with a brand-new degree in acting from NYU and no money --- finally scores her big break. And, after a fluke at customs in Vienna, she gets her golden ticket: an unstamped passport, giving her free rein to “find herself” on a grand tour of Europe. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.
Click here to read this week's reviews.

Poll and Question of the Week: Books into Movies


Do you typically like to read the book before you see the movie on which it is based, or vice versa?

I like reading the book before seeing the movie.
I like seeing the movie before reading the book.
I don’t have a preference.

I’m not sure.

Does having a film adaptation give you more incentive to read the book on which it is based?

I'm not sure.

-Click here to answer our poll.


What was your favorite movie that was based on a book, and what was your biggest disappointment?

-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 I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman, THE LAST LIE by Stephen White and SPIDER BONES a>by Kathy Reichs. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, August 27th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.

Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.

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 August 31, 2010 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: BURN: An Anna Pigeon Novel by Nevada Barr, I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman, THE RED QUEEN by Philippa Gregory, SPIDER BONES by Kathy Reichs and THREE STATIONS by Martin Cruz Smith. Nikki from Bridgeville, PA was last month's winner. She won CORDUROY MANSIONS by Alexander McCall Smith, LIVE TO TELL: A Detective D. D. Warren Novel by Lisa Gardner, THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR by Daniel Silva, RULES OF BETRAYAL by Christopher Reich, and STAR ISLAND by Carl Hiaasen.

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

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