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November 4, 2011 Newsletter November 4, 2011
The Pioneer Woman Needs an Extra Hour This Weekend
I have proven that I would have been a really lousy pioneer. Last weekend, when the snow came in and the power zipped off, it was time to test my prairie life skills. I toted wood from the felled trees (including one that dramatically dropped between three cars in our driveway), laid a fire, layered up as the temperature in the house dropped to 48 degrees, and, in general, adapted. But within hours, I was ready to shrug off this charade like it was a Halloween costume. Seriously. It was not fun as the hours wore on. And I am far luckier than many of my neighbors who are on day six with no power, mirroring our nightmare this summer. We lost it for only two days and considered ourselves lucky. All I want for Christmas is a generator!

The damage from the storm was so bad that we got a call from the Office of Emergency Management telling us that Halloween was canceled. I kid you not. I see the plot of a children’s book “The Year Halloween Was Canceled” being hatched. I see my sons telling the story of the storm of ’11 for many years to come.

While my pioneer girl role got tiresome really fast --- as did the search for warm winter attire in a windowless closet as I tripped over my sandals --- I did make an interesting discovery about reading without power. I structured my reading time around the light that was available. During the day, I read print books. As the evening started to unfold, I turned on my LightWedge and continued to read print books via that light. Then, when darkness enveloped the house with nary a glimmer of light, I moved on to my iPad.

While reading on my iPad, I realized that with the light on maximum brightness, I was able to light up the entire room. There is something about encroaching darkness that makes one feel like crawling towards bed even at 8:00. The residual light from the iPad kept me reading 'til close to midnight. And that bright light came in handy. I was toting my iPad everywhere like a talisman.

Amusingly, after a publisher meeting last week, I received a digital manuscript for a book called WIFE 22, which will be out May 29th. Originally I planned not to read it immediately as I had a huge stack of galleys for books pubbing sooner to go through. However, it moved to the top of my reading stack when I plunged myself into my iPad reading adventure. The next day, I sent Cory off with it in hand to charge at his friend’s house --- who lived on what seemed to be the two blocks in town WITH power. He called himself “the 1%.” And I hit the store to track down some triple-A batteries for my LightWedge to keep that powered as well. It was all about getting resourceful about power this week to keep the reading going.

By the way, I am convinced the snow came as the snow gods were confused by people decorating their homes with orange lights and large displays for Halloween like it was Christmas. The snow cue came up instead of the haunted house tour. As we failed to put up our decorations, I cannot be blamed.

School was not in session in town for three days --- thus, after a day of chillaxing and a day of ringing doorbells volunteering to do yard cleanup, Cory and three friends joined me in New York on Wednesday for a day of work. We are re-launching next week, and once again there was the monumental task of moving more than 2,200 reviews to a new site. I sequestered them in an empty office where they diligently hit their task til 12:00 came, and they hit my office door for lunch like they were punching a clock. It was feeding time…to be followed by a stop at a local store to get Halloween candy on sale for afternoon energy. From there on, the sugar buzz took over and there was a flurry of activity. The verdict at the end of the day is that two of the four --- including Cory --- decided that a desk job is not for them. And they all told me that work is not fun. It's not supposed to be. It’s…work! Pretty amusing.

One more anecdote. On the drive into the office, we passed a man hosing down a street. I said to Cory and his friends, “If you do not want to have that as your job, you need to study and get a college education.” As I said this, I felt like my mother. From the back seat, a voice piped up from the back and said, “The way things are going, that could be my job AFTER getting a college education.” Okay, he has a point there.

By the way, WIFE 22 is a really fun read. In it, a woman in her 40s is asked via email to participate in a study about marriage. Questions are sent her way. Her answers to the questions --- we do not see the questions themselves (which makes it fun to guess what they are) --- have her looking at her life in a new way. Women are going to love this one –-- and many will relate to much of what she is sharing. I am halfway through it and looking forward to seeing where the story ends up.

Monday, instead of doling out candy to trick-or-treaters, I enjoyed a treat of a luncheon thrown in honor of Jan-Philipp Sendker, the author of THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS, which will be in stores on January 31st. He was visiting from Berlin on a pre-publicity tour. This was one of the galleys I was reading by the light of a battery over the weekend as I really dislike meeting with an author when I have not read any of their work.

His book is an inspirational story about the power of love. A father who is a prominent attorney says goodbye to his daughter one morning. However, instead of heading to his office, he disappears and is later traced as heading back to his homeland of Burma. From there, all tracks disappear. Why did he go there? What drew him back and had him leave everything behind? Readers --- like his daughter, Julia --- are pulled into finding out why, with one clue: a letter he wrote many years ago to a woman in Burma who he never spoke about.

I'm really enjoying this story. Now here’s something interesting. This book was published 10 years ago in Germany and found great success there as well as across Europe. Jan-Philipp always had a dream of being published in the United States, but it took all this time --- and the passion of Judith Gurewich, the brilliant small press publisher from Other Press --- to make it happen. He’s now working on a sequel, after writing two other books.

In a book group? Then note that over the next two weeks, we are featuring a very special book group contest on for NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah. We hosted a VERY successful contest with our Registered Book Clubs in October, and it spurred us to offer the same opportunity to readers who are in book groups as well as our other readers. Thus, an additional 150 clubs --- we already awarded this prize to 500 clubs!!! --- will win hardcover copies of her book, NIGHT ROAD, for everyone in their group. There is a caveat. Groups who win must agree to talk about the book in their January or February discussion groups and post about their discussions on Kristin Hannah’s Facebook page, the blog on, their personal Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or blogs. Pretty nice, eh? If you are in a book group, fill out the form here to enter your group!

Onward to this week’s reviews….

John Puller, the new hero of David Baldacci’s latest book, ZERO DAY, is an Army Special Agent who works alone. However, when he is sent out to West Virginia to investigate the heinous murder of an entire family, the local homicide detective tags along. As she reveals her personal demons, Puller begins to discover deception after deception in this quiet mining town. Reviewer Kate Ayers says, “Far beyond your everyday thriller, ZERO DAY will scare you in more ways than you’d believe possible, if for no other reason than the plot is frighteningly realistic --- or, worse, way too plausible.”

Joan Didion’s new book, BLUE NIGHTS, is short, but chock-full of memories and reflections on parenthood as well as Didion’s reflections on her own aging. It details Didion’s relationship with her daughter, Quintana, from adoption to marriage and eventually Quintana’s untimely death in 2005 at the age of 39. Reviewer Harvey Freedenberg calls it a “compelling meditation on parental love, loss, memory and the perils of old age.” I read BLUE NIGHTS a few weeks ago, and while it was not as special to me as THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, I once again enjoyed the details that Didion shares in her writing, such as the little things that Quintana carried and wore at her wedding that brought up so many memories.

BONNIE is the third installment in Iris Johansen’s trilogy about Eve Duncan, a single mother whose child, Bonnie, has disappeared. In BONNIE, we learn more about Eve’s relationship with her daughter as the quest to find her continues through a plot that twists and turns. A number of characters from the earlier novels return in BONNIE --- including Bonnie’s father, who was supposedly dead. Reviewer Judy Gigstad says, “Johansen’s plot twists keep the story moving toward its eventual conclusion,” and that the book “reads quickly and holds your attention.”

ZONE ONE by Colson Whitehead investigates the horrors and psychological distress of a post-apocalyptic world. “Zone One” is the area below Canal Street in Manhattan, the last place left to be cleared of squatters who carry the disease that has wiped out much of the rest of the earth. In order to repopulate the city, these stragglers must be removed; ZONE ONE documents the experience of the civilian volunteers who attempt to do so. Reviewer Norah Piehl says, "Even as Whitehead encourages a new engagement with the zombie phenomenon, his work also prompts a renewed thoughtfulness toward our own actions, the many mindless daily acts that, for better or for worse, form the pattern of our days."

Flavia de Luce, British prodigy detective, is back in Alan Bradley’s I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS. This time, someone is murdered while a crew is filming a movie in the de Luce’s manor house. Trapped in the house because of a snowstorm, Flavia sets out to discover whodunit. Reviewer Roz Shea says of Flavia that “Bradley has created one of the most original, charming, devilishly creative and hilarious detectives of any age or any time,” and that this novel is a “delightful holiday gift idea for Flavia fans, or for those who should be.”

A new month means a brand-new New in Paperback roundup! Among the paperbacks hitting shelves this month are books from James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, Steve Martin, Tea Obreht, Nora Ephron and Jim Fusilli. Click here to see what’s "New in Paperback" for November.

Also this month, adaptations of a number of books will be making their way to screens near you. A new movie from George Clooney, The Descendants, will grace theaters this month, along with two scandalous films: A Dangerous Method, a movie about Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, and My Week With Marilyn, a film based on British filmmaker Colin Clark’s memoir about time spent filming with Marilyn Monroe. And, of course, who can forget the last installment in the Twilight movie series, Breaking Dawn? To hear more about these films and other new Books On Screen titles, click here. Have a teen in your house crazy about all thing Twilight? Then tell them about our contest to win one of 100 copies of TWILIGHT: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, Volume Two on

When the lights came back up this week, I started reading CARRY THE ONE by Carol Anshaw, which will be in stores on March 6th. On the night of a wedding, a group of revelers are driving home --- drunk and stoned --- and they hit and kill a little girl who is in the road. The story of the people in that car --- and the woman whose wedding they were attending --- and how they were affected over the next 25 years is the basis of this book. As one character says, “When you add us up, you always carry the one.” It’s full of passion and addiction, and I am hooked on reading it.

We all have an extra hour in our future this weekend, the one we gave up back in March. I don’t know about you, but I am more than ready for it. I have plans to spend it 24 different ways, including picking up twigs and finishing all those half-read books! Here’s wishing you fun spending yours as well. And here’s to a great week of reading.

Carol Fitzgerald (
Now in Stores: ZERO DAY by David Baldacci

ZERO DAY by David Baldacci (Thriller)
The Army Criminal Investigative Division sends its best agent to investigate a murdered family out in the middle of nowhere. What he discovers about the motive behind the killings is more chilling than his tours of duty in Afghanistan. If he can’t catch whoever is behind this, the days ahead for America may be grim. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: BLUE NIGHTS by Joan Didion
BLUE NIGHTS by Joan Didion (Memoir)
In a bookend to THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, her account of the aftermath of her husband’s sudden death, Joan Didion confronts the loss of her daughter, reflecting on the joys and pains of parenthood, the fragility of memory and the process of aging. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: BONNIE by Iris Johansen
BONNIE by Iris Johansen (Thriller)
When her seven-year-old daughter Bonnie vanishes, forensic sculptor Eve Duncan joins with her beloved Joe Quinn and CIA agent Catherine Ling to find her. She never expects that the search will lead directly back to Bonnie’s father. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: ZONE ONE by Colson Whitehead
ZONE ONE by Colson Whitehead (Post-Apocalyptic Horror)
After a pandemic devastates the planet, humanity is mostly divided between the living and the living dead. As survivors attempt to restore Manhattan, Mark Spitz and his civilian squad must confront “malfunctioning” stragglers --- those caught in between the living and the undead. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS by Alan Bradley
I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley (Historical Mystery)
A famous actress is starring in a new movie that’s being filmed at the de Luces’ old English estate. When a body is found on set, strangled to death with a length of film, Flavia knows that a gruesome killer is hiding in plain sight, and she’s determined to find out who it is. Reviewed by Roz Shea.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE TEHRAN INITIATIVE by Joel C. Rosenberg
THE TEHRAN INITIATIVE by Joel C. Rosenberg (Political Thriller)
In anticipation of the arrival of a Muslim Messiah, Iran has developed atomic weapons. The world is on the brink of disaster, and the entire Middle East is on the verge of going up in flames. CIA operative David Shirazi and his team are sent to track down the nuclear warheads before the entire global economy collapses. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.
Click here to read a review. Talks to Michael Walsh, Author of SHOCK WARNING

In Michael Walsh’s SHOCK WARNING, the follow-up to EARLY WARNING and the third installment in what he calls the “Skorzeny Trilogy,” a major biological attack and the appearances of the Virgin Mary and Mohammad in the sky set off a chaotic chain of events. In this interview, conducted by’s Joe Hartlaub, Walsh describes the process of shaping the series and his research for this latest book, which included a visit to the site of an ongoing apparition. He also shares his experiences writing in Hollywood and offers some glimpses into his upcoming books.

SHOCK WARNING by Michael Walsh (Political Thriller)
It begins in California with a devastating biological attack --- a horrific display of homegrown terror unseen on U.S. soil --- just weeks before the presidential election. For the White House, it is a political nightmare. But for the NSA's undercover agent Devlin, it is the ultimate warning. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review.


Click here to read our interview.
New in Paperback Roundups for November

November's New in Paperback roundups include the following highlights:

THE BRAVE by Nicholas Evans (Fiction)
As a child, Tom Bedford moves to Hollywood with his sister when she falls in love with a suave TV cowboy. But after a shocking act of violence, Tom’s life is destroyed. And when his estranged son is charged with murder years later, he is forced to confront his painful past.

I REMEMBER NOTHING: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (Humor/Essays)
Nora Ephron takes a hilarious look at the past, the present and the future, bemoaning the vicissitudes of modern life, and recalling with her signature clarity and wisdom everything she hasn’t (yet) forgotten.

JUSTICE by Karen Robards (Romantic Suspense)
Hired by a prestigious D.C. law firm after barely surviving witnessing the murder of the First Lady, attorney Jessica Ford is deliberately keeping a low profile as she gets a sensational rape case involving a senator’s son, whom she is defending.

THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES by Jean M. Auel (Historical Fiction)
Jean M. Auel continues the story of Ayla and Jondalar, and their little daughter, Jonayla. Now, Ayla is pursuing the fascinating knowledge and power of the Zelandoni, led by the charismatic First Among Those Who Served the Mother of the Zelandoni of the Ninth Cave.

THE TIGER’S WIFE by Téa Obreht (Fiction)
In a Balkan country, Natalia, a young doctor, is attempting to piece together the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death through the extraordinary stories and legends from his past.

-Find out what's "New in Paperback" for the weeks of October 31st, November 7th, November 14th, November 21st and November 28th.

November's Books On Screen Feature
On November 18th, the long-awaited next installment of The Twilight Saga will finally be released. Although BREAKING DAWN concludes the book series, all you “Twihards” out there know that this final novel will be split into two different films. In Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen are finally married, but an unplanned pregnancy sets a deadly chain of events in motion. And hitting the big screen on the 23rd is Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese and based on Brian Selznick’s THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET. Hugo is a young orphan boy who is secretly living inside the walls of a busy Paris train station in the 1930s, and the discovery of a mysterious mechanical man draws him into a thrilling adventure.

Also in theaters this month are
The Descendants, London Boulevard, Killing Bono, A Dangerous Method and My Week With Marilyn.

Debuting on the small screen in November is Certain Prey, Debbie Macomber's Trading Christmas and Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith, while ABC's "Castle" and "The Walking Dead" on AMC continue their respective seasons.

And as part of TNT's Mystery Movie Night, the cable channel will feature six TV movie specials --- all based on novels --- in November and December. The event kicks off with Scott Turow's Innocent on November 29th, about a judge charged with the murder of his wife and struggling to hide a secret affair from his past. The next night brings Ricochet, based on Sandra Brown's thriller, in which two homicide detectives find their careers -- and lives --- on the line when they get caught up in a case of murder and betrayal in high-society Savannah. Keep an eye out for the continuation of this major movie event next month!

A plethora of DVD releases kicks off the holiday season this month as well. Atlas Shrugged Part 1, Conan the Barbarian, The Devil’s Double, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, An Invisible Sign, One Day, Sarah’s Key, Seven Days in Utopia, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Water for Elephants all will be released in November for your viewing (or gifting) pleasure.
Click here to see our Books On Screen feature for November.
Win Copies of NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah for Your Reading Group!
This month, 150 groups are being offered a very special opportunity --- a chance to win a hardcover copy of NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah for each member of their group (up to 20), provided that they agree to discuss the book at their January or February meeting and post comments or feedback about the book and/or their discussion on Kristin Hannah’s Facebook page, the blog on, their personal Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or blogs. The deadline for entries is Friday, November 18th at noon ET.

NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah (Fiction)
For 18 years, Jude Farraday has put her children's needs above her own, and it shows --- her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close-knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia's best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.

Jude does everything to keep her kids on track for college and out of harm's way. It has always been easy --- until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them. On a hot summer's night her worst fears come true.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to see the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.
Miami Book Fair International: November 13-20, 2011
Miami Book Fair International
November 13-20, 2011 - Street Fair: November 18-20
Wolfson Campus, Miami Dade College

Enjoy the 28th edition of the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering presented by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College.

Come see hundreds of great authors like John Connolly, who will be talking about his YA novel, THE INFERNALS, on Friday, November 18th at 9:30am; New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean, author of RIN TIN TIN, who will speak on Sunday, November 20th at 2:30pm; and Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be discussing his new bestseller, THE MARRIAGE PLOT, on Saturday, November 19th at 10am.

There are also a number of discussion panels on intriguing topics like “Discover New Worlds” and “The Writer’s Voice.” And don’t forget: there are some not-quite literary events at this festival! Check the schedule for fun events like cooking demonstrations, a talk by Jim Lehrer about presidential debates, and an evening with Rosanne Cash!

-Click here for the full schedule of events.

Click here for more information about Miami Book Fair International.
This Week's Reviews
LIONHEART by Sharon Kay Penman (Historical Fiction)
Richard I has been known mainly as an absentee king, leaving England to rot (that’s where Robin Hood came in) while he was off gallivanting in the Holy Land. This novel --- a stirring brew of 12th-century politics, religion and romance --- tells a more intriguing story. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

HELL AND GONE by Duane Swierczynski (Thriller)
After barely escaping from an outrageous shootout, ex-cop Charlie Hardie is kidnapped by a team of undercover operatives and forced to guard an underground prison that houses the most dangerous criminals on earth. Or so he's told. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

MARY BOLEYN: THE MISTRESS OF KINGS by Alison Weir (Biography/History)
The world is familiar with the name of Anne Boleyn, the second of Henry VIII’s six wives, but little is known of her elder sister Mary, who also had intimate relations with the same notoriously colorful monarch, as well as with his overseas contemporary, Francois I. Alison Weir’s exhaustive research brings a fascinating and little-known woman out of the shadows of history. Reviewed by Pauline Finch.

THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011 edited by Harlan Coben (Mystery/Short Stories)
Bestselling novelist Harlan Coben, a master of suspense and creator of the critically-acclaimed Myron Bolitar series, edits this latest collection of the must-reads in mysteries from the past year. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

L.A. MENTAL by Neil McMahon (Psychological Thriller)
To psychologist Tom Crandall, the residents of Los Angeles seem to be going insane, exploding in violent, self-destructive rampages. When a string of events leads Tom to his older brother’s movie set, a physicist turned filmmaker leads him into a terrifying scheme that threatens his sanity and his very life. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

A KILLER’S ESSENCE by Dave Zeltserman (Mystery)
New York City Homicide Detective Stan Green has seen better days. As his family life threatens to disintegrate and his work partner disappears, he is assigned to the most shocking case of his career --- a strange and remarkably violent murder. He finds just one witness, a neurologically disabled recluse who sees demonic hallucinations through the souls of others. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE STONEHENGE LEGACY by Sam Christer (Thriller)
The death of a well-known treasure hunter and archaeologist causes grief for his estranged son, but also sets in motion an ancient prophecy that could unlock the secrets of Stonehenge. Cryptic letters and blood sacrifices are just the beginning. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.
This Week’s Poll and Question


Right now, the “Coming Soon” feature lists titles two months in advance. If we extended this preview of what’s to come further, how far out would you like to see books that are “Coming Soon”?

3 months
4 months
5 months
6 months
I am not sure how I feel.

-Click here to answer the poll.


Which books on the current Coming Soon lists for November and December (name up to three) are you most excited about reading?

-Click here to answer the question.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You’re Reading --- and You Could Win THREE Books!
Tell us your current reading recommendations with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars. During the contest period from November 4th - November 18th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of 11/22/63 by Stephen King, KILL ALEX CROSS by James Patterson and THE SISTERS by Nancy Jensen.

-To view reader comments from previous contest periods, click here.
Click here for more details.

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