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January 8, 2016 Newsletter January 8, 2016
Great Books Ahead for 2016!

Happy New Year!

The cold that I caught over the holidays escalated into a sinus infection and knocked the stuffing out of me for most of the holiday break. Of course, I felt much better by Monday when I went back to the office.

It forced me to slow down, which in many ways was perfect. I read three books that will be Bets On selections. First up was Chris Cleave’s EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN, which is set during the start of World War II as children are being evacuated for the Blitz and London is readying for war. The tension is palpable, and there are many surprises in the plot. Chris’ books are so different; each has memorable characters, and he draws us right into their struggles. This one, too, is full of emotion and has a strong storyline.

I have just 50 pages left in GLORY OVER EVERYTHING: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, and I cannot wait to get back to it. It’s 1830, and Jamie, who is biracial but passes as white, has fled from Virginia where his parentage has been discovered and is living in Philadelphia society as a wealthy silversmith. He must return to the South to do a favor for a man to whom he owes a great debt, traveling there to rescue that man’s son, Pan. This will take him near Tall Oakes and a ruthless slave hunter who has not forgotten him. Escape via the Underground Railroad weaves its way into the story, which is a complete page-turner. Kathleen is the author of THE KITCHEN HOUSE, which I must read.

I am listening to THE SOUND OF GRAVEL by Ruth Wariner, a gripping memoir read by the author, about her life growing up in a family of polygamists. She is the 39th of her father’s 42 children. She grew up in abject poverty in rural Mexico, with no power or plumbing. Her mom transported the children to Texas each month to collect welfare money. At some point, Ruth begins to doubt this way of life and leaves with her young siblings to give them a better life in the States. It’s heartbreaking and heroic, an unlikely combo. Stephanie from Ottawa, Canada, agrees with me about THE SOUND OF GRAVEL, noting, “The book is as good as THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls. I could not put it down. Superb!"

A new year means we want to share two new features with you. Some of you may be familiar with our “On Sale This Week” newsletter, where we let readers know some of the fiction and nonfiction titles that are coming out over the next two weeks. It is sent on Tuesday nights. This year, we’re making a new addition to this newsletter: a Bonus News feature, calling out something we want to let you know about --- whether it be a book, a feature or a contest. See this week’s issue here. We’ll be mixing it up every week. If you are not already signed up to receive these newsletters in your inbox every Tuesday, please click here and do so now.

We’re also excited about a new section we’re adding each week to THIS newsletter. It’s called “Next Week’s Notables,” where we call out a number of noteworthy books publishing the following week that you may want to consider adding to your reading list. You can check out our first round of “Next Week’s Notables” covering January 12th titles later in this newsletter. We are still working on a feature where you can keep track of upcoming titles that I recommend. Give us a few weeks for that! Above we have added a link to my future Bets On selections.

Our first New Release Spotlight of the year celebrates the release of Chris Bohjalian’s latest book, THE GUEST ROOM, a title you may remember from our recent Sneak Peek feature. In this thrilling novel, a man’s life is turned upside down after a night of drunken shenanigans results in two murders and lots of collateral damage. When Richard Chapman agrees to host his brother’s bachelor party, he expects the boys to bring along some provocative entertainment, but when two hired dancers stab and kill their Russian bodyguards, he is plunged into a dangerous world. With his home now a crime scene and his marriage on the rocks, Richard’s life could not be worse --- but that is nothing compared to the life of Alexandra, a girl now on the run from police, gangsters and the far-reaching world of human trafficking.

According to reviewer Norah Piehl, Bohjalian “enrich[es] the emotional impact by delving into Alexandra’s Armenian heritage and bringing the graphic details of her life to his readers where they live --- much as the events of the novel do for Richard and his family.” We received some excellent feedback from the winners of our Sneak Peek contest, and you can read their comments here. We also have a discussion guide available on, which you can see here.

Next up is our latest Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight, which features AFTER THE CRASH, French author Michel Bussi’s first book to be published in English. Already a bestseller in Europe, this stunning novel follows a night flight from Istanbul to Paris as it plummets into the Swiss Alps, killing 168 passengers. The sole survivor, a baby girl, comes under intense scrutiny when it is revealed that there were, in fact, two infants on the plane. With two families --- one wealthy and one poor --- fighting for the young girl, all of France is plunged into a complicated mystery. As the girl nears her 18th birthday, however, the private investigator tasked with determining her identity discovers a shocking clue that sets off a dangerous series of twists and turns.

Joe Hartlaub has our review and calls AFTER THE CRASH “simply amazing, an old school mystery dressed up in brand new clothes and quite unlike anything I can remember reading. One can never tell, but this has classic written all over it, though in dark and disturbing letters." Joe also had the opportunity to interview Michel, and you can read the brief Q&A here. Some very lucky winners of a contest we held in November were given the chance to read and comment on AFTER THE CRASH. We received some marvelous feedback from them; click here for their comments.

THE GUEST ROOM and AFTER THE CRASH will be my first Bets On picks of 2016. You can read my commentary for both books in next week’s newsletter. To see more of my upcoming Bets On selections, click here.

And while we’re in a Bets On frame of mind, you only have until Monday to enter our End-of-the-Year Celebration, a very special contest featuring all of my Bets On picks from 2015. One Grand Prize winner will be awarded all 33 books, while 11 other winners will receive a selection of three of these titles. The deadline for entries is Monday, January 11th at noon ET.

THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin (who many of you may know as the author of THE AVIATOR’S WIFE and ALICE I HAVE BEEN) is the current focus of our Historical Fiction Author Spotlight. Set in glamorous 1950s New York City, the novel introduces readers to socialite Babe Paley, a flawless and celebrated woman known for her exquisite taste and bevy of stylish friends, the “Swans.” With her wealth, beauty and high-profile husband, Babe seems to have it all, but she longs for a true connection. When she meets diminutive genius Truman Capote, his larger-than-life personality sweeps Babe and the other Swans off their feet. At the same time, Truman is given access to all the gossip of Babe’s powerful circle, a gift that inspires some of his most scandalous stories. Although Babe affectionately calls him “True Heart,” Truman will soon ignite a literary scandal with shocking repercussions. In advance of its January 26th release, we’re giving away 25 copies of this upcoming Bets On selection (it's very dishy!) to those who would like to read the book and share their comments on it. The deadline for entries is Thursday, January 21st at noon ET.

Our latest Women's Fiction Author Spotlight shines on Anne Girard’s PLATINUM DOLL, which whisks readers away to Golden Age Hollywood to meet iconic film star Jean Harlow. At 17, Harlean Carpenter McGrew is ready to chase her dreams and escape her small Midwestern life for a new start in Beverly Hills. Before long, Harlean has a rich husband and numerous glamorous friends, but no outlet for her immense talent. When a dare pushes her to follow her passion, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow, a woman torn between her family and the pull of the stage. As she mingles with a glittering cast of stars, including Clark Gable and Laurel and Hardy, Harlow learns that fame always comes at a price. I read and loved this inside look at old-time Hollywood! Although PLATINUM DOLL doesn’t release until January 26th, we’re giving away 25 copies to readers who would like to read the book and share their comments on it. The deadline for entries is Thursday, January 21st at noon ET.

Rounding out our Spotlight features is the heartbreakingly honest memoir, IT WAS ME ALL ALONG, our newest Paperback Spotlight title. For years, food blogger Andie Mitchell delighted in eating and seeking comfort in creamy, decadent foods. But when she stepped on the scale on her 20th birthday to an alarming 268 pounds, she knew it was time to find a balance between food and herself. Journeying from working-class Boston to the streets of Rome, Andie found the changes she needed, both in a balanced diet and the self-acceptance she so desperately craved. What a perfect read for those of us thinking that January is a great time to find more balance in our lives.

New York Times bestselling travel writer Eric Weiner takes readers on another worldwide adventure through history with THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places, from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley. In this latest work, Weiner explores the connection between our surroundings and bursts of creativity and innovation. Through examinations of such incredible moments as Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence and ancient Athens, he shows that certain urban settings are, in fact, conducive to ingenuity. With his trademark wit, Weiner walks the same paths as history’s geniuses to attempt to recapture their creative spirits. As he unpacks and reevaluates current arguments about genius, he shows the importance of culture and setting in birthing creativity.

Harvey Freedenberg raves about THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS in his review: “Blending travel memoir with reporting on the latest scientific and historical research, THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS is a fresh, informative and entertaining take on a subject that is a source of perpetual fascination…. Weiner's voice is breezy but well-informed, reminiscent of works like Steven Johnson's HOW WE GOT TO NOW.” Greg and I went to see Eric at his kickoff event in the city on Monday night. You can see a photo of Eric above. He’s an excellent presenter, so try to catch him on his tour. Click here for dates.

We’re awarding the audio version of THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS (which is read brilliantly by Eric himself) in our latest Sounding Off on Audio contest, along with Bill Bryson’s THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING: Adventures of an American in Britain, read by Nathan Osgood. Tell us about the audiobooks you’ve finished listening to, and you’ll be in the running to win both prizes.

We also wanted to bring attention to two books for which we are running ads on the homepage: ANGELS BURNING by Tawni O’Dell, a literary thriller about a small-town police chief with a shadowy past (click here to read our review, which just went up this week), and HOSTAGE TAKER by Stefanie Pintoff, the start of a new thriller series featuring Eve Rossi, head of a secret division of the FBI that is made up of ex-convicts with extraordinary talents, oversized egos and contempt for the rules (we reviewed the book here when it released in August).

ANGELS BURNING is just one of the books we’re featuring in this month’s New in Paperback roundups. Others include GOD HELP THE CHILD by Toni Morrison; RADIANT ANGEL: A John Corey Novel, by Nelson DeMille; MISSOULA: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, by Jon Krakauer; and THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH by Christopher Scotton (a Bets On pick when it released in hardcover; we have a contest for it now on

We’ve also updated our Books on Screen feature for January. Theatrical releases include 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and The 5th Wave; on the small screen are the premieres of “The Shannara Chronicles” and “The Magicians” (both limited series); and out on DVD are Everest and The Walk.

For our first poll of the year, we’d like to know which of the following paid subscription services, if any, do you use: Amazon Prime, basic cable, Cinemax, HBO, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Showtime, Starz. We asked this same question back in 2014, and are curious as to how your viewing habits may have changed (or stayed the same). Click here to let us know.

Our previous poll asked how many books you read in 2015. 27% of you read more than 100 books, which is just amazing! 18% of you read 51-75 books, which also is impressive, while 13% tackled 76-100 books…equally as fantastic! Click here for all the results.

In our new Word of Mouth contest, we’re giving away THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoag and RIVER ROAD by Carol Goodman. Let us know by Friday, January 22nd at noon ET what books you’ve finished reading for your chance to win both novels.

We were delighted to learn that Gene Luen Yang, the award-winning author of AMERICAN BORN CHINESE and BOXERS & SAINTS, was recently named the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. In celebration of his appointment, we interviewed Gene on about his platform “Reading Without Walls,” how teaching influenced his writing, and why he thinks graphic novels are so important. I had the privilege of hosting him as our keynote speaker at a Day of Comics and Graphic Novels Education at the Miami Book Fair a few years ago. He's a brilliant talent and presenter, and a fabulous mentor about the importance of reading in all formats.

News and Pop Culture:

Reader Mail: I sent out a reminder to some audiobook readers about adding their titles to our "Sounding Off on Audio" feature and heard this from Jan, which made me smile: “Thanks for the reminder.... I need to make this a regular habit. I've added two audiobooks that I've read this month. I LOVE the new feature, and my Audible wish list has grown to nearly unmanageable numbers --- ha, not a bad problem to have, right? DEAR MR. YOU is already on my wish list, and I hope I win! If not, I will have to use a precious credit. Thanks once again for your newsletter. I get ridiculously excited every week when it appears in my inbox and know there will be lots of good recommendations and chatty news about you and your family."

"Making a Murderer": As I mentioned in our last newsletter, like many of you I was addicted to this series. Once I finished, I spent time researching more intel about the events. Here are some links you may want to peruse once you finish watching: on the filmmakers, evidence not shared, more about Teresa Halbach, Burning Questions from Buzzfeed, and a Vogue piece about Dean Strang.

Bill Gates: Book Concierge: Apparently, books that Bill blogs about sell!

PBS’s Masterpiece Book Club: This book club offers tie-in materials for both "Downton Abbey" and "Sherlock." It has reading lists, lists of books that the cast and crew are reading, and themed recipes. The site will be updated biweekly with new materials based on the current shows.

When Books Have Similar Titles: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN; GIRL ON A TRAIN. Mixup noted here.

Adult Coloring Books: Looking back to the '60s to see this trend then.

Goals: Good piece on celebrating what you have.

Emma Donoghue: Talks about the film Room, which we all are crazy about.

"Billions": New Showtime series kicking off on January 17th. I previewed six episodes, and except for one plot thread (the one that opens it), I really enjoyed it. Axe is played by Damian Lewis, who was Brody on "Homeland." Takes a bit to get used to him in this new role, but then you are there. In the third episode, there is a publishing plot twist…another one where, like in "The Affair," it’s pretty far-fetched. The first episode is available now for previewing for those of you who have Showtime.

Cory is headed to Utah tomorrow morning for a week of skiing in Park City on a college ski trip before he heads back to classes. His flight is at the ungodly hour of 6:05am, and he has a couple of friends traveling with him. They are planning to stay here tonight, and we will make homemade pizza. Not sure if I will be the one volunteering to drive them to the airport at 4am; they need to be there by 4:30, as I am convinced the tour leader knows all too well that college kids have their own time clocks. Of course, they may just stay up all night! Youth and energy is great to watch; going to miss the stream of kids in and out of the house. I love how they always check in with Tom and me when they come by.

I still want to see The Big Short, Concussion and The Danish Girl; hoping to see at least one before the Golden Globes on Sunday night. There is still a HUGE pile of books calling my name as I am prepping for meeting authors at the American Booksellers’ Association’s Winter Institute conference in Denver later this month. I have two lightweight scarf projects going. As with books, I am trying to get a season ahead. Let’s see how that goes!

On Monday, the winners of the top children’s literary prizes, including the Newbery and the Caldecott, will be announced at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference in Boston. Our own Shara Zaval is there representing us.

Read on, and have a great week!

Carol Fitzgerald (

P.S. For those of you who are doing online shopping, if you use the store links below, gets a small affiliate fee on your purchases. We would appreciate your considering this!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

New Release Spotlight: THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian
THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Mozhan Marno and Grace Experience
When Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother’s bachelor party, she expects a certain amount of debauchery. She brings their young daughter to Manhattan for the evening, leaving her Westchester home to the men and their hired entertainment. What she does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, her husband sharing a dangerously intimate moment in the guest room, and two women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night.

In the aftermath, Kristin and Richard’s life rapidly spirals into nightmare. The police throw them out of their home, now a crime scene, Richard’s investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave, and Kristin is unsure if she can forgive her husband for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here for advance readers’ comments.
-Click here to read Chris Bohjalian’s bio.
-Click here to visit Chris Bohjalian’s official website.
-Connect with Chris Bohjalian on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our New Release Spotlight. Talks to Michel Bussi, Author of AFTER THE CRASH --- Our Latest Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Title

Michel Bussi is one of France’s most celebrated crime authors, and he’s ready to make his mark on American readers. AFTER THE CRASH is his first book to be translated into English, and it tells the riveting story of two families --- one rich and one poor --- who are battling for custody of a child who was miraculously the sole survivor of an air flight tragedy. In this brief interview with’s Joe Hartlaub, Bussi discusses his fascination with the nature vs. nurture debate and how that inspired him to write this novel. He also talks about beginning a story at its end, as well as some of AFTER THE CRASH’s precedents in American pop culture.

AFTER THE CRASH by Michel Bussi (Psychological Thriller/Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by Daniel Philpott
A night flight from Istanbul bound for Paris, filled with 169 holiday travelers, plummets into the Swiss Alps. The sole survivor is a three-month-old girl --- thrown from the plane onto the snowy mountainside before fire rages through the aircraft. But two infants were on board. Is the miracle baby Lyse-Rose or Emilie? Both families step forward to claim the child --- one poor, one powerful, wealthy and dangerous.

Filled with delicious twists and riveting psychological suspense, AFTER THE CRASH is an electrifying story of a two-decade mystery, secret love and murder --- perfect for the readers who swarmed to Stieg Larsson, GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read critical praise.
-Click here for advance readers' comments.

-Click here to read Michel Bussi’s bio.
-Click here to read more in our Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight.

Click here to read our interview.
New Historical Fiction Author Spotlight & Contest: THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin
We have 25 copies of THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which releases on January 26th, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, January 21st at noon ET.

THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin (Historical Fiction)
Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends --- the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a high-profile husband and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman --- a woman desperately longing for true love and connection.

Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan’s elite, along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe’s powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls “True Heart,” Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller --- even when the stories aren’t his to tell.

Truman’s fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he’ll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years.

-Click here to read Melanie Benjamin’s bio.
-Visit Melanie Benjamin’s official website and Instagram.
-Connect with Melanie Benjamin on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Historical Fiction Author Spotlight and enter the contest.
New Women's Fiction Author Spotlight & Contest: PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard
We have 25 copies of PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which releases on January 26th, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, January 21st at noon ET.

PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard (Historical Fiction)
It's the Roaring Twenties, and 17-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream --- to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.

In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want --- a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends --- except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition --- to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth --- that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it.

-Click here to read Anne Girard’s bio.
-Click here to visit Anne Girard’s official website.
-Connect with Anne Girard on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight and enter the contest.
New Paperback Spotlight: IT WAS ME ALL ALONG by Andie Mitchell
IT WAS ME ALL ALONG: A Memoir by Andie Mitchell (Memoir)
All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her 20th birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself --- that her life was at stake.

IT WAS ME ALL ALONG takes Andie from working class Boston to the romantic streets of Rome, from morbidly obese to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled and two-to-a-pack to finding balance in exquisite (but modest) bowls of handmade pasta. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Andie Mitchell’s bio.
-Visit Andie Mitchell’s official website, Instagram and Pinterest.
-Connect with Andie Mitchell on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Paperback Spotlight.
Now in Stores: THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS by Eric Weiner
THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places, from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley by Eric Weiner (Memoir/Travel)
Audiobook available, narrated by Eric Weiner
In THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS, acclaimed travel writer Eric Weiner sets out to examine the connection between our surroundings and our most innovative ideas. He explores the history of places --- like Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens, Song Dynasty Hangzhou, and Silicon Valley --- to show how certain urban settings are conducive to ingenuity. And he walks the same paths as the geniuses who flourished in these settings to see if the spirit of what inspired figures like Socrates, Michelangelo and Leonardo remains. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to visit Eric Weiner’s official website.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: ANGELS BURNING by Tawni O’Dell
ANGELS BURNING by Tawni O'Dell (Psychological Thriller/Mystery)
On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all 50 of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was 16.

When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals.

During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys.

-Click here to read a review.
Click here to read more about the book on the author’s website.
Now in Stores: HAUNTING INVESTIGATION by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
HAUNTING INVESTIGATION: A Chesterton Holte Mystery by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Historical/Paranormal Mystery)
With a ghost for a partner, what could go wrong?

Spring 1924. The world has clawed its way back from the ravages of World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic. The '20s are beginning to roar.

Poppy Thornton lives with her Aunt Jo and her excitable cat Maestro in upper-crust Philadelphia. Poppy is determined to make a name for herself as a serious crime reporter, but is stuck reporting on garden parties and ladies' fashion. Then one day, her editor assigns her to collect background information on the suicide of a prominent businessman. She soon discovers it was actually a murder...but her surprising source for this information is the ghost of a man killed alongside her father during the Great War. Even if she dared tell anyone, who would believe it?

Together Poppy and her "gentleman haunt" follow the trail of a string of murders. But as their investigation narrows in on an all-too-familiar suspect, Poppy becomes a target herself and wonders if her ghost of a partner will appear in time to keep her from joining him in the afterlife.
Click here to read more about the book on the publisher’s website.
An Interview with Andrew Grant, Author of FALSE POSITIVE

Recently, Andrew Grant took a break from his popular David Trevellyan series to write the stand-alone thriller RUN. He’s back now with an exciting new series about troubled Alabama detective Cooper Devereaux, which kicks off with FALSE POSITIVE. In it, Devereaux is partnered with cagey detective Jan Loflin, who’s fresh off a long undercover stint in Vice, when they’re put on a case that will test them both beyond their direst nightmares. Stand-alone or series, Grant knows how to write a knockout thriller. In this interview, he discusses why he chose to set FALSE POSITIVE in Birmingham, AL, how much he enjoys writing flawed heroes, and the differences between penning a solo book and one of many in a series.

FALSE POSITIVE by Andrew Grant (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Jon Lindstrom
Alabama detective Cooper Devereaux may have met his match in fellow detective Jan Loflin, who’s fresh off a long undercover stint in Vice when they’re partnered on a case that will test them both beyond their direst nightmares. A seven-year-old boy has disappeared from his home in the Birmingham suburbs. But the more Devereaux digs into the missing child’s background, the more he discovers about his own, eventually shaking loose a series of harrowing truths --- about bloodlines, mass murder, obsession, and what two damaged detectives have in common with the innocent victim they’re so desperate to save. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.

Click here to read the interview.
January's New in Paperback Roundups
January’s roundup of New in Paperback fiction titles includes GOD HELP THE CHILD, the first book by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment, a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape --- and misshape --- the life of the adult; RADIANT ANGEL, a John Corey thriller from Nelson DeMille that takes readers into the heart of a new Cold War with a clock-ticking plot that has Manhattan in its crosshairs; and THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH, Christopher Scotton's debut novel about an act of violence in a small, Southern town and the repercussions that will forever change a young man's view of human cruelty and compassion.

Among this month’s nonfiction offerings are MISSOULA by Jon Krakauer, a meticulously reported narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana --- stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape; DOUBLE DOUBLE, a dual memoir in which award-winning mystery writer Martha Grimes and her son, Ken Grimes, offer two points of view on their struggles with alcoholism; and HUCK FINN’S AMERICA, award-winning biographer Andrew Levy's investigation into Mark Twain’s writing of HUCKLEBERRY FINN, which turns on its head everything we thought we knew about America’s favorite icon of childhood.

-Find out what's New in Paperback for the weeks of January 4th, January 11th, January 18th and January 25th.
January's Books on Screen Feature
It’s pretty well known at this point that major studios tend to bury their subpar movies in the post-holiday hangover of January. The good news is that indies get to have their moment in the cold winter sun. One such bright spot this month is Lamb --- based on Bonnie Nadzam’s provocative 2011 book of the same name --- a sensitive and difficult movie about a 47-year-old man’s friendship with a young girl.

If you like your morality less ambiguous, look no further than Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. It’s hard to imagine that the Transformers director handled the events of the 2012 Benghazi attack --- one of the most perplexing and tense events in recent history --- with the care they deserve, but stranger things have happened. And if you’re one of the brave souls who can stomach ocean disaster movies, check out The Finest Hours, starring Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster.

On the other hand, it’s a great month for fans in the center of the scripted TV/YA fantasy Venn diagram. The 5th Wave --- based on the blockbuster Rick Yancey trilogy about a teenager trying to survive after Earth is decimated by an alien invasion --- will hit theaters towards the end of the month. MTV and Freeform (so long, ABC Family!) are rolling out “The Shannara Chronicles” and “Shadowhunters,” respectively, which means lots of preternaturally attractive young people fighting all kinds of mythical creatures. And Syfy will finally premiere its long-anticipated adaptation of Lev Grossman’s THE MAGICIANS.
Click here to see all the movies, TV shows and DVDs featured in January’s Books on Screen.
More Reviews This Week
FORTY THIEVES by Thomas Perry (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Peter Berkrot
Last spring, a body was recovered from one of Los Angeles’s overwhelmed storm sewers. The victim was identified as James Ballantine, a middle-aged African-American who worked as a research scientist for a prestigious company. But two bullets to the back of the head looked like nothing if not foul play. Now, with the case turning cold, Ballantine’s former employers bring in detectives Sid and Ronnie Abel to succeed where the police have failed. Meanwhile, assassins-for-hire Ed and Nicole Hoyt’s mysterious contractors want to make sure that the facts about Ballantine’s death stay hidden. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

BLACKOUT by David Rosenfelt (Thriller)
New Jersey state police officer Doug Brock has been after infamous criminal Nicholas Bennett for years. When Bennett kills someone close to Doug, Doug's investigation --- and his life --- starts spiraling out of control. It isn’t long before Doug is found in a hotel room, shot and in critical condition. When Doug finally awakens from his coma, he has no memory of the case, or even the last several years of his life. But the pull of what he might have discovered is too strong, and he finds himself immersed in a desperate search for truth once again, regardless of the danger. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

THE FIRST ORDER by Jeff Abbott (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Kevin T. Collins
Two brothers. One dead, executed by extremists on a grainy video. The other forged into a top undercover agent. But now, Sam Capra has reason to believe that his brother, Danny, may be alive. His desperate search for Danny leads him into a modern heart of darkness: the Russian elite inner circle, a group of ruthless ex-KGB billionaires who owe fealty to Russia's corrupt president, Morozov. One of these men wants Morozov dead. And Danny will be the one to kill him --- on American soil. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

HOTELS OF NORTH AMERICA by Rick Moody (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Jefferson Mays
Reginald Edward Morse is one of the top reviewers on, where his many reviews reveal more than just details of hotels around the globe --- they tell his life story. The puzzle of Reginald's life comes together through reviews that comment upon his motivational speaking career, the dissolution of his marriage, the separation from his beloved daughter, and his devotion to an amour known only as "K." But when Reginald disappears, we are left with the fragments of a life --- or at least the life he has carefully constructed --- that writer Rick Moody must make sense of. Reviewed by John Maher.

NINE LIVES: A Lily Dale Mystery by Wendy Corsi Staub (Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by Melanie Ewbank
When reluctant road trippers Bella Jordan and her son, Max, detour to Lily Dale, New York, they're planning to deliver a lost cat to its home and then move on, searching for one of their own. But the footloose feline's owner, Leona Gatto, has unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind a pregnant pet without a mistress, a busy inn without a keeper --- and a lovable circle of neighbors who chat with dead people. It's up to Bella to solve the case so that she and Max can leave town, but their new home --- like Leona's killer --- might just lurk where she least expects it. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

MR. SPLITFOOT by Samantha Hunt (Gothic Horror)
Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth’s niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who --- or what --- has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road? Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE SONG OF HARTGROVE HALL by Natasha Solomons (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by James Langton
New Year’s Eve, Dorset, England, 1946. Harry Fox-Talbot and his brothers have returned from World War II determined to save their once grand home from ruin. But the arrival of beautiful Jewish wartime singer Edie Rose tangles the threads of love and duty, and leads to a devastating betrayal. Fifty years later, now a celebrated composer, Fox reels from the death of his adored wife, Edie. Until his connection with his four-year old grandson --- a music prodigy --- propels him back into life, and ultimately to confront his past. Reviewed by Megan Elliott.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.

THE BLIZZARD written by Vladimir Sorokin, translated from the Russian by Jamey Gambrell (Historical Fantasy)
In THE BLIZZARD, we are immersed in the atmosphere of a 19th-century Russia. Garin, a district doctor, is desperately trying to reach the village of Dolgoye, where a mysterious epidemic is turning people into zombies. He carries with him a vaccine that will prevent the spread of this terrible disease but is stymied in his travels by an all-consuming snowstorm, an impenetrable blizzard that turns a drive that should last only a few hours into a voyage of days and, finally, a journey into eternity. Reviewed by Stephen Febick.

THE GUN written by Fuminori Nakamura, translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Brian Nishii
On a nighttime walk along a Tokyo riverbank, a young man named Nishikawa stumbles on a dead body, beside which lies a gun. From the moment Nishikawa decides to take the gun, the world around him blurs. Knowing he possesses the weapon brings an intoxicating sense of purpose to his dull university life. But soon his personal entanglements become unexpectedly complicated. Through it all, he can’t stop thinking about the gun --- and the four bullets loaded in its chamber. As he spirals into obsession, his focus is consumed by one idea: that possessing the gun is no longer enough --- he must fire it. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE UNDOING by Averil Dean (Psychological Thriller)
Best friends since childhood, Eric, Rory and Celia have always been inseparable. Together they've coped with broken homes and damaged families, clinging to each other as they've navigated their tenuous lives. When the trio decides to follow Celia's dream of buying and renovating the Blackbird, a dilapidated hotel that sits on the perilous cliffs of Jawbone Ridge, new jealousies arise and long-held suspicions start to unravel their relationship. Soon they find themselves pushed to the breaking point, where trust becomes doubt, longing becomes obsession, and someone will commit the ultimate betrayal. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

TIME AND TIME AGAIN by Ben Elton (Science Fiction/Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Jot Davies
In June 1914, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer Hugh Stanton is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be. Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming --- a collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history. Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war --- a war that will begin with a single bullet. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

ONCE SHADOWS FALL by Robert Daniels (Psychological Thriller)
After years of paying her dues on the force, Beth Sturgis has earned her place as a detective for the Robbery-Homicide division of the Atlanta PD. Now, she's heading up a major manhunt for a potential serial killer who’s working his way inward from the outskirts of the city. The copycat elements in the first crime scene lead Sturgis to retired FBI agent Jack Kale, who was responsible for apprehending and nearly killing the murderer known as the Scarecrow, the same Scarecrow who appears to be this new killer's terrible inspiration. Reviewed by Lorraine W. Shanley.

PASSENGER 19: A Jammer Davis Thriller by Ward Larsen (Techno-thriller/Adventure)
Jammer Davis has spent most of his life investigating aircraft accidents. When a small regional jet disappears over the jungles of Colombia, it is a tragedy like dozens of others he has seen, but for one terrible detail: his young daughter is listed on the passenger manifest. The possibility of a hijacking looms large as the search begins to focus on two passengers who boarded the plane, yet their remains cannot be found. Davis uncovers an even more sinister plot behind the entire disaster --- one that goes to the highest levels of the US government. But how could it possibly involve his daughter? Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.
Next Week’s Notables: Noteworthy Books Releasing on January 12th
Below are some notable titles releasing on January 12th that we wanted to make you aware of. We will have more on many of these books in the weeks to come. For a list of additional hardcovers and paperbacks releasing the week of January 11th, see our “On Sale This Week” newsletter here.

THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoag (Psychological Thriller)
Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska take on multiple twisted cases as Tami Hoag explores a murder from the past, a murder from the present, and a life that was never meant to be.

DICTATOR by Robert Harris (Historical Thriller)
DICTATOR is the long-awaited final volume of Robert Harris’ Ancient Rome Trilogy, which began with IMPERIUM and continued in CONSPIRATA.

EVEN THE DEAD: A Quirke Novel by Benjamin Black (Historical Mystery)
A suspicious death, a pregnant woman suddenly gone missing: Quirke's latest case leads him inexorably toward the dark machinations of an old foe.

THE GILDED RAZOR: A Memoir by Sam Lansky (Memoir)
In the vein of Elizabeth Wurtzel and Augusten Burroughs, Sam Lansky scrapes away at his own life as a young addict and exposes profoundly universal anxieties.

THE GIRLS SHE LEFT BEHIND: A Lizzie Snow Novel by Sarah Graves (Mystery/Thriller)
THE GIRLS SHE LEFT BEHIND marks the return of ex–Boston homicide detective Lizzie Snow, the new sheriff’s deputy in Maine’s Great North Woods.

THE GOOD GOODBYE by Carla Buckley (Psychological Suspense)
For fans of Jodi Picoult comes an enthralling domestic thriller about the lies we tell, and let ourselves believe, in the name of love.

MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout (Fiction)
In MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON, Elizabeth Strout shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all --- the one between mother and daughter.

SCANDALOUS BEHAVIOR: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods (Thriller)
After a series of nonstop adventures, Stone Barrington is eager for some peace and quiet in a rustic British setting. But no sooner does he land in England than he’s beset by an outrageous demand from a beautiful lady, and an offer he can’t refuse.

THIS CENSUS-TAKER by China Miéville (Paranormal/Urban Fantasy)
In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a profoundly traumatic event. When at last a stranger knocks at his door, he senses that his days of isolation might be over. But is this man a friend, an enemy…or something else altogether?

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi (Memoir)
WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR is a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?

WRITTEN IN FIRE: Book Three of The Brilliance Trilogy by Marcus Sakey (Science Fiction/Thriller)
WRITTEN IN FIRE is the explosive conclusion to Marcus Sakey’s Brilliance Trilogy, which Gillian Flynn calls a “forget-to-pick-up-milk, forget-to-water-the-plants, forget-to-eat total immersion experience.”

THE FLAMETHROWERS meets LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN in Sunil Yapa’s debut novel set amid the heated conflict of Seattle's 1999 WTO protests.
Our Latest Poll and Word of Mouth/Sounding Off on Audio Contests


Which of the following paid subscription services do you use? Please check as many as apply.

  • Amazon Prime
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-Click here to vote in the poll.

Word of Mouth:

Tell us about the books you’ve finished reading with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars. During the contest period from January 8th to January 22nd at noon ET, three lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoag and RIVER ROAD by Carol Goodman.

-Click here to enter the contest.

Sounding Off on Audio:

Tell us about the audiobooks you’ve finished listening to with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars for both the performance and the content. During the contest period from January 4th to February 1st at noon ET, three lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win the audio versions of both THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places, from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley, written and read by Eric Weiner, and Bill Bryson's THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING: Adventures of an American in Britain, read by Nathan Osgood.

-Click here to enter the contest.

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