Skip to main content

March 30, 2012 Newsletter March 30, 2012
Mercury is Retrograde --- So Bring on Spring Break!
March has been a lamb/lamb month here in the New York area instead of exhibiting any lion tendencies as the weather has been pretty spectacular. But Mercury is retrograde until the 6th, and it seems these last two weeks have been filled with a number of small and large tech and other communication hassles that have me LONGING for the 6th when this planetary insanity ends. I know…I know…people think I make this up, but clearly the last couple of weeks give weight to my claim.

BIG news around the office this week as became the latest site in to get a complete redesign and re-launch --- for those of you keeping count, that is five sites done! We still are moving some content over (there were more than 2,000 reviews and dozens of author features), thus I was amused when a mom wrote the morning after launch saying her son was looking for a review of a book that started with “S” and wondered where it was. Of course, everything up to “S” had been moved. We will be working on the Series Features and Great Books for Boys in the next few weeks, but if you have a young reader in the house --- or a grandchild, niece or nephew --- we would love you to send them here.

Last Saturday, I went to the mall to do a quick errand. In the parking lot, I pulled into a spot. And as I did, I realized there was someone in a car who was beyond the spot I was taking backing up to try to get into it. For a second as I parked, I wondered if I should pull out and find another, though I was not sure if it was really necessary as I had been heading with traffic to the spot while they were working some backwards maneuver.

I had one quick errand, so I just kept walking. I came back 15 minutes later to find the driver’s door of my car keyed with an 18” scratch across it. I stood there rather shocked for a moment feeling pretty violated. And knew there was only one person who could have done it --- the person who wanted the spot. There is a lot of anger inside someone to do that. The really nice attendants at the parking garage where I park near the office are working on a solution on how to fix this instead of my taking it to a body shop. They were pretty outraged looking at it. Quite obnoxious.

This got me wondering if he was a bully growing up. By the way, following up on my comment in the newsletter last week about how I was blown away reading WONDER (I cannot stop thinking or talking about that book since I finished it, and I am predicting you are going to hear about it for a long time --- by the way, it’s a perfect community read.), I got a note from another reader, Pat, who told me she was lucky enough to screen the film Bully; she pronounced it “excellent” and recommends it to “anyone with school age children or grandchildren.” It’s definitely on my list! Also, I did not make it to The Hunger Games last weekend, so it’s on the lineup for the next week.

On Sunday, I baked a lemon bundt cake from THE CAKE MIX DOCTOR by Anne Byrn. It must have been good, as Monday night when I got home, all that was left was crumbs. I was perusing the Cake Mix Doctor page on Facebook the other night and learned that there is an uproar among bakers about cake mixes. It seems that some manufacturers are now packing only 16.5 ounces into cake mix boxes instead of 18.25 ounces. This is causing issues with the recipes in cookbooks like this that are cake mix-based. Anne weighed in with a suggestion that “the basic rule of thumb for a smaller mix is to add 1/3 cup flour to the mix before beginning the recipe. This will increase the volume of the cake.” So consider that your baking tip for the week.

The week, I also got a nice note from one of our readers, Cheryle, who said, “The quality of this newsletter and all the reviews are so compelling that I want to get every one of the books in that week’s edition. Keep up the good work. Every update is FANTASTIC!” I shared this with our whole team, and it made our week.

And with that in mind, get ready Cheryle and all our others readers as there is lots to share this week….

First up…did you know that March is Maisie Month? Well, it is! Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs is back with ELEGY FOR EDDIE, where she takes on her most personal case yet: a twisting investigation into the brutal killing of a street peddler that will take her from the working-class neighborhoods of her childhood into London’s highest circles of power. Our reviewer, Norah Piehl, says, "Maisie's self-examination, her sense of being on the verge of huge changes, makes ELEGY FOR EDDIE both unsettling and satisfying to read, as readers follow Maisie on what may be her most personal --- and personally revealing --- case to date."

THE NEW REPUBLIC, Lionel Shriver's new novel (many of you remember Lionel’s fabulous WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN), is about a disgruntled New York corporate lawyer who's more than ready to leave his lucrative career for the excitement and uncertainty of journalism. But when he's offered the post of foreign correspondent in a Portuguese backwater that has sprouted a homegrown terrorist movement, he's plunged into a complex case where nothing is as it seems. Our reviewer, Eileen Zimmerman Nicol, says, "While the book was completed in 1998, Shriver waited until now to get it published, because a novel that is funny and also deals with terrorism was obviously problematic after 9/11. For some it may remain so. This is not a feel-good book, but I found it intriguing and entertaining."

THE LAND OF DECORATION, which I read and gave a rave to a few weeks ago, tells the story of 10-year-old Judith McPherson. Persecuted at school for her beliefs and struggling with her distant, devout father at home, Judith finds solace and connection in a model in miniature of the Promised Land that she has constructed in her room from collected discarded scraps --- the Land of Decoration. Our reviewer, Melanie Smith, says the book is "...beautifully written and brilliant. It will charm, fascinate, and leave readers with quite a lot to talk about.... I highly encourage everyone to read THE LAND OF DECORATION. It is one of the best books of the year, worthy of all the praise it has received and then some." It’s also highly discussable for book groups, and we share an interview with the author, Grace McCleen, with you.

As you know, our current Women’s Fiction Spotlight selection is BAREFOOT SEASON by Susan Mallery. Our reviewer, Bronwyn Miller, says, "BAREFOOT SEASON will appeal to book clubs (great discussion topics abound!) and fans of Barbara Delinsky and Jodi Picoult. Susan Mallery weaves a tale of broken friendship with enough twists and turns to keep even the most seasoned reader of commercial women’s fiction guessing about where the story will lead." Bronwyn also interviews Susan this week.

In TERRIFIED by Kevin O’Brien, Megan Keeler is a mother who puts herself at the mercy of a maniac to protect her abducted son. Is Glenn a cold-blooded killer determined to destroy her world piece by piece, or is the truth even more twisted? Megan thought she knew fear, but her nightmare is only beginning. Our reviewer, Joe Hartlaub, says, "Once you start reading TERRIFIED, you will not want anything to get between you and its conclusion. The last 100 pages or so will have you riding the edge of your seat...while what has gone before will give you nightmares." We are running a contest for this book as well, so be sure to enter by Thursday, April 5th at noon ET. Joe also interviews Kevin, and I again marvel how such a nice guy writes such terrifying books!

Two Paperback Spotlights continue, and they both were Bets On picks in hardcover! Daisy Goodwin’s THE AMERICAN HEIRESS follows beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash as she travels abroad with her mother at the turn of the 20th century to seek a titled husband. If you love "Downton Abbey," I am pretty sure you will love THE AMERICAN HEIRESS. In a book group? We will be posting discussion questions for book groups on next week.

I dare you to read TURN OF MIND by Alice LaPlante and not think about if for long afterwards. In it, an orthopedic surgeon who is suffering from dementia becomes the primary suspect in the murder of her best friend and neighbor. With her memories muddled, she herself cannot even remember whether or not she is the killer.

Our new poll asks in what genre the most recent book you read was, and we also ask what, if any, genres that we currently do not cover would you like to see more of on

Meanwhile, our current Word of Mouth contest continues through Friday, April 6th at noon ET. Let us know what you’re reading for a chance to win THE RED BOOK by Deborah Copaken Kogan, THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani (look at the great book trailer for this book here to inspire you) and THUNDER AND RAIN by Charles Martin.

It's been busy at the office, and we failed to post the winners of the Spring Preview Contest until now. Apologies for that…books for winners have been sent!

Romance Writers of America announced the nominees for the RITA and Golden Heart Awards in a variety of categories. The winners will be announced on July 28th as part of the RWA Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA.

I got home late last night after a really crazy day, and waiting for me was hank of yarn from The Quarter Stitch, a yarn shop in New Orleans. When I was there in January, I bought yarn that I have been trying to match and have not been lucky about that. I called Jill at The Quarter Stitch to ask her for ideas, and she sent me the photo above of a yarn that was PERFECT. Last night, I wound it up and unwound myself casting both yarns on to start a shawl. There are times when it’s the little things that matter --- and last night, this was a perfect little thing. Oh, and I know, bet you were surprised that it’s turquoise!

Tom and I are married 27 years today....met 30 years ago today on a ski slope in Crested Butte, Colorado, and as fate would have it, we both were from New Jersey. Tomorrow we are headed to the Outer Banks on Spring Break vacation. Cory is bringing his friend Son 2A, Josh, with him. This will be the first vacation where he can drive, so it will be nice that they can run out for pizza at Corolla Pizza (THE BEST PIZZA), according to Cory, or up to the beach sans me. Greg will meet us at some point as he has plans to lighthouse/camp further down the coast for most of the week.

I have a stack of books packed --- and a box of knitting projects --- and as usual, there is enough of both in case we stay a year. It’s all about choices. Which is what we bring you this week.

By the way, we are hoping the rental house has HBO as "Game of Thrones" kicks off Season Two on Sunday night. My husband has read all the books since Season One ended ---- that was a month-long project where we barely saw anything but the top of his head --- and thus he is raring to go! "The Killing" also starts back up on Sunday night, a show that I thoroughly enjoyed last season. I confess I was less than enamored with the two-hour kickoff of "Mad Men" last weekend. It felt like when you read a series book and there is a need to reintroduce the cast in book five, and it’s not brilliantly done and drags. I would like to have had a red pen taken to that script. Hoping it picks up this week. And whoever came up with the concept of DVR...brilliant...a great way to manage Sunday night TV watching.

I confess I am out of the loop on who made the Final Four…and there’s no Cinderella in the fight, so I'll see if I watch.

We are wildly busy at the office, thus this trip will not be a total getaway (the clear sign of that...I am packing my desktop and printer as well as my laptop) and you will hear from us next week. The lineup is pretty stellar, so you'll want to steal time from your Easter or Passover plans next Friday to check it out.

Here’s to a great week of reading…

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: ELEGY FOR EDDIE by Jacqueline Winspear
ELEGY FOR EDDIE: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear (Historical Mystery)
Maisie Dobbs takes on her most personal case yet: a twisting investigation into the brutal killing of a street peddler that will take her from the working-class neighborhoods of her childhood into London’s highest circles of power. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE NEW REPUBLIC by Lionel Shriver
THE NEW REPUBLIC by Lionel Shriver (Fiction)
Lionel Shriver's new novel is about a disgruntled New York corporate lawyer who's more than ready to leave his lucrative career for the excitement and uncertainty of journalism. But when he's offered the post of foreign correspondent in a Portuguese backwater that has sprouted a homegrown terrorist movement, he's plunged into a complex case where nothing is as it seems.
Click here to read a review. Talks to Susan Mallery, Author of BAREFOOT SEASON

In Susan Mallery’s new novel, BAREFOOT SEASON, a young army vet returns to her home on Blackberry Island to recover from the perils of war, but is unexpectedly forced to confront her former best friend, whom she betrayed years ago. In this interview, conducted by’s Bronwyn Miller, Mallery explains the process of creating Blackberry Island and why she decided to make the book the start of a series rather than a stand-alone title. She also talks about the importance of female friendships in her life, discusses her involvement with book clubs, and gives a glimpse into the next installment of the series.

BAREFOOT SEASON: A Blackberry Island Novel by Susan Mallery (Fiction)
Michelle Sanderson may appear to be a strong, independent woman, but on the inside, she’s still the wounded girl who fled home years ago. A young army vet, Michelle returns to the quaint Blackberry Island Inn to claim her inheritance and recover from the perils of war. Instead, she finds the owner’s suite occupied by the last person she wants to see. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to visit the official website of the series.
-Click here to read Susan Mallery's bio.
-Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight.

Click here to read our interview. Talks to Kevin O’Brien, Author of TERRIFIED

In Kevin O’Brien’s latest thriller, TERRIFIED, a woman believed to have been murdered by her husband is actually hiding under a false identity with her young son. Everyone thought that the body found near their former home was hers --- until now. In this interview, conducted by’s Joe Hartlaub, O’Brien discusses the source of his inspiration for creating dark, evil and twisted characters. He also shares his ideal casting for a hypothetical movie version of the novel, describes his typical process for writing books, and recommends some of his recent favorite reads.

TERRIFIED by Kevin O’Brien (Thriller)
Megan Keeler died years ago --- or so everyone believes. In fact, she disappeared to escape from her sadistic husband, Glenn, who was eventually convicted of her murder. Megan has built a new life in Seattle for herself and her son, Josh. She's never forgotten that she's a fugitive, and Josh knows nothing about her past. But someone does. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read critical praise.
-Click here to read Kevin O’Brien’s bio.
-Click here to follow Kevin O’Brien on Twitter.
-Click here to read more in our Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight.

Click here to read our interview.
An Interview with Grace McCleen, Author of THE LAND OF DECORATION
Grace McCleen’s debut novel, THE LAND OF DECORATION, is the story of 10-year-old Judith McPherson, who is ostracized for her religious beliefs in school, but finds solace in a miniature model of the Promised Land that she calls “The Land of Decoration.” In this interview, McCleen points to parallels between her main character and herself, including the creation of miniature worlds. She also discusses the unique course of her writing career and gives her opinion about modern-day religion.

THE LAND OF DECORATION by Grace McCleen (Fiction)
If a bullied, naive, obsessively religious little girl had the power to produce miracles, what might happen? In THE LAND OF DECORATION, Grace McCleen’s debut novel, a 10-year-old believes there is a certain power and magic --- akin to that of The Creator --- in her self-built replica of mankind. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt
-Click here to see the book trailer.

Click here to read the interview.
Paperback Spotlight: THE AMERICAN HEIRESS by Daisy Goodwin

THE AMERICAN HEIRESS by Daisy Goodwin (Historical Fiction)
Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the 20th century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts', suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read critical praise.
-Click here to read Daisy Goodwin’s bio.
-Connect with Daisy Goodwin on Facebook and Twitter.
-Click here to visit Daisy Goodwin’s YouTube channel.

Click here to read more in our Paperback Spotlight.
Paperback Spotlight: TURN OF MIND by Alice LaPlante
TURN OF MIND by Alice LaPlante (Literary Thriller)
When Dr. Jennifer White’s best friend, Amanda, is found dead with four of her fingers surgically removed, Dr. White is the prime suspect. But she herself doesn’t know whether she did it. Told in White’s own voice, fractured and eloquent, a picture emerges of the surprisingly intimate, complex alliance between these life-long friends --- two proud, forceful women who were at times each other’s most formidable adversary. As the investigation into the murder deepens and White’s relationships with her live-in caretaker and two grown children intensify, a chilling question lingers: is White’s shattered memory preventing her from revealing the truth or helping her to hide it?

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read critical praise.
-Click here to read our interview.
-Click here to read Alice LaPlante’s bio.

Click here to read more in our Paperback Spotlight.
Now in Stores: GUILTY WIVES by James Patterson and David Ellis
GUILTY WIVES by James Patterson and David Ellis (Thriller)
Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous and sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Little did any of them know that they all would be arrested and accused of the foulest crime imaginable. Now the vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime --- for survival. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: MONDAY MORNINGS by Sanjay Gupta, M.D.
MONDAY MORNINGS by Sanjay Gupta, M.D. (Fiction)
Every time surgeons operate, they're betting their skills are better than the brain tumor, the faulty heart valve, the fractured femur. Sometimes they're wrong. At Chelsea General, surgeons answer for bad outcomes at the Morbidity and Mortality conference. MONDAY MORNINGS follows the lives of five surgeons at Chelsea General as they push the limits of their abilities and confront their personal and professional failings. Reviewed by Roz Shea.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: FALL FROM GRACE by Richard North Patterson
FALL FROM GRACE by Richard North Patterson (Psychological Thriller)
Using his training as a CIA operative, Ben Blaine skillfully seeks to find the truth surrounding his father’s violent death --- even if it means exposing one of his own family members as the killer and unearthing hidden skeletons that were never meant to be found. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

Click here to read a review.
Calling All Teens! Enter’s Short Story Writing Contest --- and You Could Win Some Fabulous Prizes!
Sister and brother co-authors of the Another Series, Dina and Daniel Nayeri, have been inspired to turn some of our best known literary classics on their heads to create modern-day, paranormal page-turners --- including the previously released ANOTHER FAUST and ANOTHER PAN. Now it's your turn!

Inspired by ANOTHER JEKYLL, ANOTHER HYDE, we are inviting readers (and aspiring writers!) to write a story in which you reinvent a classic story or character, making it modern and, most importantly, your own! Write your story in no more than 1,200 words.

Please note that all entries must be received by Tuesday, May 15th at noon ET, and you must include your short story in the body of your email. No attachments please.

And, for good measure, here are the AWESOME prizes, offered by the publisher of the Another Series, Candlewick Press. The winner (as determined by us) receives a NOOK eReader! And for the Runner-up, a $50 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble!

Click here to read all the contest details.
This Week’s Reviews
EDGE OF DARK WATER by Joe R. Lansdale (Thriller)
May Lynn, once a pretty girl who dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star, is now dead. Sue Ellen, her strong-willed teenage friend, sets out to dig up May Lynn's body, burn it to ash, and take those ashes to Hollywood to spread around. But Sue Ellen has some stolen money that her enemies will do anything to get back. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE MEMORY OF BLOOD: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery by Christopher Fowler (Mystery)
For the crew of the New Strand Theatre, the playThe Two Murderersseems less performance than prophecy when a cast party ends in the shocking death of the theater owner’s son. The crime scene is most unusual, even for Bryant and May. In a locked bedroom without any trace of fingerprints or blood, the only sign of disturbance is a gruesome life-size puppet of Mr. Punch laying on the floor. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THAT’S HOW I ROLL by Andrew Vachss (Hard-boiled Mystery)
Esau Till’s race is almost run. After pleading guilty to a series of homicides, he sits on death row, awaiting lethal injection. And writing his life story. But his memoir is no case study in tragedy --- it’s his one last chance to protect his brother Tory after he’s gone. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

CARLY’S VOICE: Breaking Through Autism by Arthur Fleischmann with Carly Fleischmann (Memoir)
One of the first books to explore firsthand the challenges of living with autism, CARLY'S VOICE brings readers inside a once-secret world and in the company of an inspiring young woman who has found her voice and her mission. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

THE MAID AND THE QUEEN: The Secret History of Joan of Arc by Nancy Goldstone (History)
How did an illiterate peasant girl gain access to the future king of France, earn his trust, and ultimately lead his forces into battle? Was it only the hand of God that moved Joan of Arc --- or was it also Yolande of Aragon? On the 600th anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, THE MAID AND THE QUEEN explores the relationship between these two remarkable women. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

THE GOOD FATHER by Noah Hawley (Psychological Thriller)
Dr. Paul Allen's specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on. In the harrowing opening scene of this novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally, and his son Daniel is caught on video as the assassin. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

This Week’s Poll

In what genre was the last book you read?

General Fiction
Literary Fiction
Historical Fiction
Women’s Fiction
Science Fiction
Short Stories
Graphic Novel/Manga
Current Events
Other (Please specify)
I'm not sure.

Which of the following genres that we generally do not cover would you like to see on Please check as many as apply.

Crafts & Hobbies
Business & Finance
Science & Technology
Arts & Entertainment
Other (Please specify)
I am happy with the genres that are covered.
I’m not sure.

Click here to answer the poll.
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 March 23rd to April 6th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of THE RED BOOK by Deborah Copaken Kogan, THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani, and THUNDER AND RAIN by Charles Martin.

To make sure other readers will be able to find the book, please include the full title and correct author names (your entry must include these to be eligible to win). For complete rules and guidelines, click here.

-To see reader comments from previous contest periods, click here.


Click here to enter the contest.

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.

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

The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107
connect with us twitterfacebook