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January 29, 2016 Newsletter January 29, 2016
Denver: Clear Skies and Lots of Enthusiastic Book Talk

After racing out of town a day early to escape the epic snowstorm in the New York area, I was happy to spend time in Denver with booksellers from across the country, as well as more than 100 authors and dozens of publishing friends. I never managed to switch to Mountain Time, thus I was awake each morning at 5:00, ready for the very full days of programming that started at 7:45. Those in my office know that I am not one to hit the office in the early morning --- I prefer to start my day working from home --- but jet lag was in my favor here.

On Friday evening, I wandered down to the Tattered Cover’s LoDo store, which is one of my favorite stores in the country. Downtown Denver has come alive over the last decade, and it has an energy and vibe that I loved. The store, which has been owned for 40-plus years by Joyce Meskis, is in the process of being sold to Len Vlahos and his wife, Kristen Gilligan, who I have known in various roles in the publishing business through the years. It was fun to see them in the store and see their picks on one of the walls. The store was filled with booksellers who were enjoying this busman’s holiday.

From there, I headed across the street to have dinner with my old friend, Bob Knous, who I first met when he was running Colorado Ski Country USA, before he went on to run the Vail Valley Foundation. Later he worked with East West Partners, the development company that has brought two master-plan urban neighborhoods into Downtown Denver, which have contributed to the revitalization of the area. He knows Joyce and shared terrific stories about her and her passion for books, reading and the protection of the First Amendment, as well as her contributions to the growth of downtown. I love when my worlds collide like that and was grateful that I rushed to Denver a night early so we could enjoy this evening together.

On Saturday afternoon, I was so happy to have lunch with one of our longtime readers, Nancy Brice-Simpson, from Book Vault in Oskaloosa, Iowa and her friend, Mollie Loughlin, from The Book Vine in Cherokee, Iowa. Since politics are everywhere with the Iowa caucuses on Monday, besides book and author talk, Nancy walked me through the caucus process. It was interesting to hear about it from someone who has been boots on the ground with it instead of the talking heads. You can see a photo of Nancy with me above.

In the second photo above, Nancy is pictured with Kwame Alexander, the Newbery Medal-winning author whose speech opened the day on Tuesday. Kwame told stories about working with his dad, which included toting lots of boxes of books. On Monday, he ran into Nancy, who was struggling to carry a box of books, and he volunteered to help her carry it. She said yes, which --- he teased --- he was hoping she would not say! Nancy did not recognize him at that time, and thus it was endlessly fun when he called her out by name from the stage during his talk. I rarely recognize anyone famous and am glad I am not alone in this. Thanks to Claire Kirch from Publishers Weekly for the photo!

On Saturday evening, the program kicked off with a party at Tattered Cover’s Colfax Avenue Store, which is 22,000 square feet of book goodness. The photo above, taken by Kristen as Joyce was welcoming us, gives you a small idea of what the store looks like. It’s worth a pilgrimage! Back at the hotel was the Book Swap event, where booksellers shared favorite books that were at least five years old and still in print. My contribution was THE DAY THE WORLD CAME TO TOWN, which I got reader mail about when I mentioned it last week. Mary said, “That is one of my favorite books as well; such a moving story.” Marilyn said, "Traveled through Eastern Canada a few years ago with a fairly large group of mostly seniors. We went to Gander and were told to read the book beforehand. Most of us had never heard this story. So sad. Most of us only thought of the US side of the story. Encourage more to read it."

I was lucky enough to pick up WEST WITH THE NIGHT by Beryl Markham, which had been selected by Annie Philbrick from Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut. This book inspired Paula McLain to write CIRCLING THE SUN. I loved telling Annie how much I wanted to read it!

Our Historical Fiction Author Spotlight on Melanie Benjamin and THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE, which released Tuesday, enters its final week. Set in high society 1950s New York City, it introduces readers to famed socialite Babe Paley. Surrounded by wealth and a glamorous group of friends known as the Swans, Babe seems to have it all but longs for a true connection. Enter Truman Capote, a charismatic genius who quickly sweeps Babe and the other Swans off their feet. But as Truman is given access to Babe’s powerful circle, his ear for gossip results in a shocking literary scandal with life-changing repercussions.

Bronwyn Miller has our review and says that THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE “faithfully and accurately portrays the elegance of New York of the ’50s and ’60s in such vivid splendor, it makes you want to order a smart cocktail with lunch, like women used to do.” We also have an interview that I conducted with Melanie, which you can read here. As soon as I read this book, I knew I wanted to interview her about it. I loved the way she faithfully captured that time and place, as well as her posh characters. I’ll let you know more of why I’m selecting it as a Bets On pick in next week’s newsletter.

Also wrapping up this week is our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight of Anne Girard and PLATINUM DOLL, which is now in stores. Set in Golden Age Hollywood, it follows the awe-inspiring rise to fame of iconic film star Jean Harlow. Only 17 years old at the start of the book, Harlean Carpenter McGrew longs to escape her Midwestern life for a new start in Hollywood. Although she finds a wealthy husband and glitzy friends quickly, she still needs an outlet for her talent. Before long, she is following her passion as Jean Harlow, a woman torn between her love for her family and the temptations of fame and glamour.

Reviewer Alexis Burling has this to say: “[P]erhaps what makes Girard’s nuanced storytelling stand out is her choice to render Hollywood’s first blonde bombshell --- a precursor to Marilyn Monroe --- as not just star struck and driven, but conflicted and, more importantly, human.” Alexis had the opportunity to talk to Anne, and you can check out the interview here.

We are excited to present our latest Sneak Peek feature, which gives readers an early look at THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER, a charming debut from Phaedra Patrick. Although his wife, Miriam, is no longer alive, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper enjoys his simple life with all of its routines and familiarities. But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s passing, he discovers an exquisite gold charm bracelet amidst her possessions. Curious about its origins, Arthur embarks on a worldwide journey to learn more about Miriam’s life before him. As he travels from London to Paris and even India, he discovers that hope and healing can be found in the most unexpected places. As part of our Sneak Peek feature, we’re giving away 35 advance copies of THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER --- which releases on May 3rd --- to readers who would like to preview the book and share their feedback on it by Friday, April 1st. Enter here by Thursday, February 11th at noon ET. I started this last night, and already it has tugged me into the story.

Our latest Debut Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight features Fiona Barton and her chilling debut, THE WIDOW. For years, Jean has stood by her husband despite evidence that he may have committed a heinous crime. Although it was not always easy to ignore the accusatory stares and anonymous harassment, Jean kept her head down and focused on being the perfect wife. But now her husband is dead, and she can finally share her side of the story, from what it was like living with him to what really happened. Of course, Jean has secrets of her own --- and a talent for making people believe what she wants them to believe.

I had the pleasure of meeting Fiona in Denver last week, where I bubbled on and on about my love of THE WIDOW, which will be a Bets On selection. We had a spirited conversation, and I shared that her book reminded me of another Bets On pick, THE SILENT WIFE. In anticipation of its February 16th release, we’re giving away 35 copies of THE WIDOW to those who would like to read the book and comment on it. Enter here by Thursday, February 11th at noon ET.

Our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight of Sally Hepworth and THE THINGS WE KEEP continues. Here, Hepworth introduces readers to Anna Forster, a woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only 38 years old. Anna has just checked herself into Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. Although she is initially desperate to keep her fellow residents at bay, her attitude changes when she meets Luke, a young man who is also affected by a debilitating disease. The two quickly form a powerful bond that transcends their illnesses, but when a tragic accident leads to their separation, it is up to Rosalind House’s new cook to help them find one another again. Don’t forget that there is still time to enter to win one of 25 copies of the book, which we reviewed last week. Enter here by Thursday, February 4th at noon ET.

THE THINGS WE KEEP is one of my Bets On picks for this week, along with Gregg Hurwitz’s latest thriller, ORPHAN X, which we also reviewed last week. Click on each of the titles for my Bets On commentary.

ORPHAN X is one of the books we gave away in this week’s Winter Reading contests, along with ANGELS BURNING by Tawni O’Dell and SEIZED: The Profiler, Book 3 by Elizabeth Heiter. Next week’s prizes will be DOG LOVE by Ann DeVito, THE FLOOD GIRLS by Richard Fifield (the voice in this one is nailed from page one), PRETTY BABY by Mary Kubica (she is an author to watch!) and A VOICE FROM THE FIELD by Neal Griffin. Our first contest of the week goes live on Monday, February 1st at noon ET.

Don’t forget to enter our Valentine’s Day contest, which we’ve brought back for an 11th straight year. We’re giving five readers the chance to win six love-themed books, along with some delicious Ghirardelli chocolates. Enter here by Tuesday, February 16th at noon ET for your chance to win this taste-tempting prize package.

We have two additional contests to tell you about. The first is for THE GRATITUDE DIARIES by journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief Janice Kaplan. On New Year’s Eve, Kaplan made a promise to herself to spend the year looking on the bright side of whatever happens. Over the next few months, she realized that changing her attitude had a profound effect on her feelings, regardless of the situation. Throughout the year, she collected advice from psychologists, academics, doctors and philosophers, combining their input with her own experiences to write this book. We’re giving away 100 copies of THE GRATITUDE DIARIES to readers who can commit to reading the book and completing a short survey about it by Friday, March 11th. Enter here by Thursday, February 4th at noon ET.

Contest #2 highlights DARK MONEY, Larry D. Thompson’s latest thriller featuring millionaire lawyer Jackson Bryant. After turning to pro bono work in DEAD PEASANTS, Jack is caught in a tangled web of money and politics when he receives a call from his old army pal, Walt Frazier. Walt needs his help evaluating security for a Halloween party fundraiser being thrown by a Republican billionaire at his mansion in Fort Worth. But when an anti-government markswoman named Miriam Van Zandt joins the party, leaving one man wounded and another dead, Jack must call upon the Texas DPS SWAT team to attack an anti-government militia group. Although it seems like the attack is a victory, Jack knows that the real mastermind behind the Halloween attack is still at large --- and it will take an international chase to bring the real killer to justice. DARK MONEY drew me in right from the start; Larry knows how to plot and ramp up the action! His style to me is a lot like Robert Dugoni. We’re giving away 25 copies of DARK MONEY to those who would like to read the book, which is now in stores, and share their comments on it. Enter here by Tuesday, February 9th at noon ET.

We’ve updated our Young Adult Books You Want to Read feature, reviews we’ve posted on that we think will appeal to our adult readers. This month’s titles are ANNA AND THE SWALLOW MAN by Gavriel Savit (which will be perfect for book group discussions), MY NAME IS NOT FRIDAY by Jon Walter and THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp.

Our latest poll asks if there’s an independent bookstore near your home. Click here to vote. After spending four days with indie booksellers, I am very interested in knowing if you have one of these stores near you!

Let us know by Friday, February 5th at noon ET what books you’ve finished reading, and you’ll be in the running to win BREAKDOWN: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman and THE EX by Alafair Burke (the latter of which we review this week) in our current Word of Mouth contest.

Time is running out to enter this month’s Sounding Off on Audio contest. Tell us about the audiobooks you’ve finished listening to, along with your comments, for a chance 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. Enter here by Monday, February 1st at noon ET.

News and Pop Culture:

Reader Mail: Holly wrote about her husband winning our holiday contest for BROKEN PROMISE: “My husband was thrilled to receive his very special book to celebrate his retirement after almost 50 years in the insurance business. Thank you for this very special opportunity.” She also shared, “I remember Bookreporter as a simple black and white page, and I found a wonderful go-to site for all things books. I loved seeing the addition of color, and photos!” She clearly was there in the early AOL days!

Carm wrote: “Thank you for sending all the info about books; it has been a godsend for me. I have read more books than I ever thought possible. Keep up the good work.” Love that!

Skimm the Vote: The Iowa caucuses are Monday, and from there the race for the presidency goes into hyper gear, as if we were not on overload already. The folks at The Skimm have created a calendar of all the dates you need to follow the action...or avoid it! Love the voice of their newsletter, and this calendar has that same attitude!

Fun Snow Video: Snowboarder towed by a jeep through NYC last weekend. Check it out here.

Knitting: Who knew there were health benefits? Wonder what happens when one “reverse-knits” like me!

Vacation in an Author’s Home: Saw the following this week: “Perhaps you won't make it into Mary Kay Andrews' next novel, but staying in one of her homes on Tybee Island is the next best thing! Ebbtide and Breeze Inn have both been lovingly restored and beautifully decorated by the author. From the design, to all the details and cottage-style touches throughout, guests will feel right at home during their vacation. Mary Kay Andrews is also pleased to offer an autographed novel and welcome note on each stay!" See more about Ebbtide and Breeze Inn here.

I read THE GIRLS by Emma Cline on my flight back from Denver; it will be in stores on June 14th. Set in Northern California at the end of the '60s, the protagonist is Evie Boyd, a lonely teenager. She is drawn to a group of girls who hang out in her town, frolicking and living life with reckless abandon. She is particularly enamored with Suzanne, an older aloof girl. She follows these women into their world, which is a cult where they are led by a charismatic leader on a ranch on the outskirts of town. Swept up in their world, she longs to be part of them, but she is too young to notice that things are spinning wildly out of control and an act of violence is about to unravel her newfound life.

Emma’s writing is beautiful. I found myself re-reading sentences, because they were so well done. I had the pleasure of meeting Emma at a luncheon the day before I left for Winter Institute, and I also caught up with her there. Nicole in our office is enjoying it as well; she, too, is impressed with the writing.

Cory thinks an epic snowstorm on his 21st birthday was a great present; ah, to be 21 again and loving snow! We celebrated Greg’s birthday at the office yesterday with a chocolate cake. Breaking tradition, he said he wants a lemon cake this weekend, not chocolate marble. Of course, this is the one year I have a chocolate marble mix on hand! We are going to my mother-in-law’s house for dinner tomorrow night. Our celebrations go on and on.

Quiet weekend on tap. I want to watch Amy, the documentary of Amy Winehouse’s life. And read. And knit. And finally get a fire going in the fireplace. And admire the three amaryllis plants, which of course sprouted while I was in Denver!

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 Talks to Melanie Benjamin, Author of THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE --- Our Latest Historical Fiction Author Spotlight Title
Melanie Benjamin, the New York Times bestselling author of such novels as ALICE I HAVE BEEN and THE AVIATOR’S WIFE, is back with her latest foray into historical fiction: THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE, a triumphant novel about New York’s “Swans” of the 1950s --- and the scandalous, headline-making and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley. In this interview, Benjamin talks with's co-founder, Carol Fitzgerald, about Babe Paley and the Swans, “the first Real Housewives of New York” --- from their glitz and glamour to their complicated relationship with Capote and beyond.

THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin (Historical Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Paul Boehmer
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. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman who is 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. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-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 see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.
-Click here to read more in our Historical Fiction Author Spotlight.
Click here to read our interview. Talks to Anne Girard, Author of PLATINUM DOLL --- A Women's Fiction Author Spotlight Title
Anne Girard is the pen name of bestselling author Diane Haeger, which was adopted to distinguish her more recent historical fiction from her earlier works. Her latest book, PLATINUM DOLL, is about Harlean Carpenter McGrew, better known as silver screen legend and “the original platinum blonde bombshell” Jean Harlow, as she and her domineering mother take Hollywood by storm. In this interview with’s Alexis Burling, Girard talks about what inspired her to write Harlow’s story and how she researches each of her books (including a trip to the city in which it’s set!). She also shares some fascinating details about the starlet’s life, including bits about her troubled marriage, her unquenchable free spirit, and her untimely death at only 26 years old.

PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard (Historical Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Leslie Carroll
It's the Roaring Twenties, and 17-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. There, she has everything a girl could want, 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. Reviewed by Alexis Burling.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-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 see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.
-Click here to read more in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight.
Click here to read our interview.
New Sneak Peek Contest: Enter to Win an Advance Copy of THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER by Phaedra Patrick and Share Your Comments on It
Our latest Sneak Peek Feature spotlights THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER by Phaedra Patrick, a poignant and curiously charming debut about a lovable widower who embarks on a life-changing adventure. The book doesn’t release until May 3rd, but we have 35 advance copies to give away to readers who can commit to previewing it and sharing their comments on it by Friday, April 1st. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, February 11th at noon ET.

For our Sneak Peek program, your commitment to participate is critical, so please only enter this contest if you truly will have time to read THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER and give us your feedback by the April 1st deadline.

Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met --- a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER is a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Phaedra Patrick’s bio.
-Click here to visit Phaedra Patrick’s official website.
-Connect with Phaedra Patrick on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Sneak Peek Feature and enter the contest.
New Debut Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight & Contest: Enter to Win a Copy of THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton and Share Your Comments on It
We have 35 copies of THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which releases on February 16th, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, February 11th at noon ET.

THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton (Psychological Thriller)
For fans of GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, an engrossing and thrilling debut novel of psychological suspense from a major new talent.

There's a lot Jean hasn't said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now her husband is dead, and there's no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth --- that's all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything...

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Fiona Barton’s bio.
-Click here to visit Fiona Barton’s official website.
-Click here to connect with Fiona Barton on Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Debut Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight and enter the contest.
Women's Fiction Author Spotlight & Contest: Enter to Win a Copy of THE THINGS WE KEEP by Sally Hepworth and Share Your Comments on It
We have 25 copies of THE THINGS WE KEEP by Sally Hepworth to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which is now in stores, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, February 4th at noon ET.

THE THINGS WE KEEP by Sally Hepworth (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Barrie Kreinik and Therese Plummer
Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only 38 years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one other resident her age: Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke, even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother, she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind House. When she meets Anna and Luke, she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to see why we're betting you'll love this book.

-Click here to read our interview with Sally Hepworth.
-Click here to read Sally Hepworth’s bio.
-Click here to visit Sally Hepworth’s official website.
-Connect with Sally Hepworth on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight and enter the contest.'s 11th Annual Valentine's Day Contest: Enter to Win Books and Sweet Treats for Yourself or Your Valentine!
Valentine's Day is only a few heartbeats away. We can't think of a better way to celebrate this special day than to cuddle up with your loved one...and a good book, of course! We're giving readers the chance to win one of our five Valentine's Day prize packages, which includes one copy of each of our featured books and some delicious Ghirardelli chocolate. Enter between now and Tuesday, February 16th at noon ET for your opportunity to be a lucky (and beloved!) winner.

If you're feeling frisky, share with us your all-time book character crush. Don't be shy, we all got 'em! We'll post the top 10 literary loves and lusts --- along with the five winners --- right after Valentine's Day, so please be on the lookout!

This year's featured titles are:

Click here to enter the contest and see our featured titles.'s Second Annual Winter Reading Contests and Feature
At, we are kicking off 2016 with our second annual Winter Reading Contests and Feature. On select days through Friday, February 19th at 11:59am ET, we are hosting a series of 24-hour contests spotlighting a book releasing this winter and giving five lucky readers a chance to win it. We also are sending a special newsletter to announce the day's title, which you can sign up for here.

Our next prize book will be announced on Monday, February 1st at noon ET.

This year's featured titles include:

Click here to read all the contest details and see our featured titles.
Women's Fiction Author Spotlight: MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout
MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Kimberly Farr
A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including OLIVE KITTERIDGE and THE BURGESS BOYS, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all --- the one between mother and daughter.

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human and truly unforgettable.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read our interview with Elizabeth Strout.
-Click here to read Elizabeth Strout’s bio.
-Click here to visit Elizabeth Strout’s official website.
-Connect with Elizabeth Strout on Facebook and Twitter.
-Click here to see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.

Click here to read more in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight.
Women's Fiction Author Spotlight: THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND by Katarina Bivald
Audiobook available, narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Lorelei King
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral guests are just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor --- there’s not much else to do in a dying small town that’s almost beyond repair.

The one thing you certainly wouldn’t do is start a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in charge. You’d need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), and…customers.

The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel’s own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thought.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read our interview with Katarina Bivald.
-Click here to read Katarina Bivald’s bio.
-Visit Katarina Bivald’s official website, blog and Instagram.
-Click here to connect with Katarina Bivald on Twitter.
-Click here to enter the “Readers, Recommend Your Bookstore!” sweepstakes on the publisher’s website.
Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight.
Women's Fiction Author Spotlight: STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD by Susan Meissner
STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD by Susan Meissner (Fiction)
Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie…

Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone with the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide. What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read our interview with Susan Meissner.
-Click here to read Susan Meissner’s bio.
-Click here to visit Susan Meissner’s official website.
-Connect with Susan Meissner on Facebook and Twitter.
-Click here to see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.
Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight.
What's New This Month on
We currently are giving away the following books on Each of these contests has an entry deadline of Wednesday, February 3rd at noon ET:

The following guides are now available:

Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

Click here to visit
More Reviews This Week
THE EX by Alafair Burke (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Xe Sands
Widower Jack Harris has resisted the dating scene ever since the shooting of his wife by a 15-year-old boy three years ago. An early morning run along the Hudson River changes that when he spots a woman in last night’s party dress, enjoying a champagne picnic alone and reading his favorite novel. Eager to help Jack find love again, his best friend posts a message on a popular website after he mentions the encounter. Days later, that same beautiful stranger responds and invites Jack to meet her in person at the waterfront. That’s when his world falls apart. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

EVEN DOGS IN THE WILD by Ian Rankin (Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by James MacPherson
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is investigating the death of a senior government prosecutor, David Minton, while Malcolm Fox is helping a surveillance team track a notorious Glasgow crime family. John Rebus gets a call from his old nemesis, "Big Ger" Cafferty; someone just fired a bullet through his front window, and the only man he trusts with his life is Rebus. As the cases collide, it's up to Clarke, Fox and Rebus to connect the dots and save their unlikely ally, whose past harbors a shocking secret that implicates Minton's friends in an unspeakable crime. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

COCONUT COWBOY by Tim Dorsey (Mystery/Humor)
Audiobook available, narrated by Oliver Wyman
Serge A. Storms devises his wildest plan yet: finish the journey begun by his freewheeling heroes, Captain America and Billy, tragically cut short by some shotgun-wielding rednecks. Setting a course for the Florida panhandle, Captain Serge --- with Coleman literally riding shotgun --- mounts his classic motorcycle and hits the highway in search of the real America. In a state where criminal politicians are more common than gators, Serge and Coleman discover one particular speed-trap locale so aggressively inept at corruption that investigators are baffled where to start. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

WHERE IT HURTS by Reed Farrel Coleman (Hard-boiled Noir Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by Chris Andrew Ciulla
Following the loss of his family, Gus Murphy has settled into a mindless, soulless routine that barely keeps his grief at arm’s length. But his comfortable waking trance comes to an end when ex-con Tommy Delcamino asks him for help. Four months earlier, Tommy’s son T.J.’s battered body was discovered in a wooded lot, yet the Suffolk County PD doesn’t seem interested in pursuing the killers. It’s a dangerous favor Gus has taken on as he claws his way back to take a place among the living, while searching through the sewers for a killer. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE PORTABLE VEBLEN by Elizabeth McKenzie (Fiction/Humor)
THE PORTABLE VEBLEN is set in and around Palo Alto, amid the culture clash of new money and old (antiestablishment) values, and with the specter of our current wars looming across. A young couple on the brink of marriage --- the charming Veblen and her fiancé Paul, a brilliant neurologist --- find their engagement in danger of collapse. Along the way they weather everything from each other’s dysfunctional families, to the attentions of a seductive pharmaceutical heiress, to an intimate tête-à-tête with a very charismatic squirrel. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

GIRL THROUGH GLASS by Sari Wilson (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Tavia Gilbert
In the summer of 1977, 11-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina whose mentor is 47-year-old Maurice DuPont. As she ascends higher in the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, sparking unexpected desires that will upend both their lives. In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and capsize the new life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man she has long thought dead, Kate is hurled back into the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE GOLDEN SON by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Sunil Malhotra
Anil Patel, the golden son, carries the weight of tradition and his family’s expectations when he leaves his tiny Indian village to begin a medical residency in Dallas, Texas. When his father dies, however, Anil becomes the de facto head of the Patel household and inherits the mantle of arbiter for all of the village’s disputes. Back home in India, Anil’s closest childhood friend, Leena, has trouble adapting to her demanding new husband and relatives. Though Anil and Leena struggle to come to terms with their identities thousands of miles apart, their lives eventually intersect once more --- changing them both and the people they love forever. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read our interview with Shilpi Somaya Gowda.

THE ILLEGAL by Lawrence Hill (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Gideon Emery
All Keita has ever wanted to do is to run. Running means respect and wealth at home. His native Zantoroland turns out the fastest marathoners on earth. But after his journalist father is killed for his outspoken political views, Keita must flee to the wealthy nation of Freedom State --- a country engaged in a crackdown on all undocumented people. There, Keita becomes a part of the new underground and learns what it means to live as an illegal. As the authorities seek to arrest Keita, he strives to elude capture and ransom his sister, who has been kidnapped. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

NOAH'S WIFE by Lindsay Starck (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Kirsten Potter
When young minister Noah and his dutiful wife arrive at their new post in the hills, they find a gray and wet little town where it's been raining for as long as anyone can remember. Noah's wife is determined to help her husband revive this soggy congregation, but soon finds her efforts thwarted by her eccentric new neighbors. As the river water swallows up the houses, the telephone poles and the single highway out of town, Noah, his wife and the townspeople must confront not only the savage forces of nature but also the fragile ties that bind them to one another. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

THE POISON ARTIST by Jonathan Moore (Psychological Thriller/Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by Luke Daniels
Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he is drinking whiskey at the speakeasy House of Shields when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers, and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her. As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial murder investigation. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

THE 8th CIRCLE by Sarah Cain (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Ray Chase
A year ago, Danny Ryan lost his wife and son in a car accident. He's still reeling from the tragedy when Michael Cohen, his friend and fellow journalist, drives into the pond in front of his house with a bullet through his gut. With Michael's death ruled a murder, Danny must work to get his name crossed off the list of suspects, and that means digging into Michael's last article, an exposé of the twisted side of Philadelphia politics. But powerful people are ready to kill to protect what Michael was about to uncover. If Danny isn’t careful, he'll be next. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

RIVER OF INK by Paul M.M. Cooper (Historical Fiction)
In 13th-century Sri Lanka, Asanka, poet to the king, lives a life of luxury, enjoying courtly life and a sweet, furtive love affair with a palace servant, a village girl he is teaching to write. But when Magha, a prince from the mainland, usurps the throne, Asanka's role as court poet dramatically alters. Although a cruel and calculating king, Magha --- a lover of poetry --- commissions Asanka to translate a holy Sanskrit epic into the Tamil language spoken by his recently acquired subjects. The poem will be an olive branch --- a symbol of unity between the two cultures. But in different languages, in different contexts, meaning can become slippery. Reviewed by Carly Silver.
Next Week's Notables: Noteworthy Books Releasing on February 2nd
Below are some notable titles releasing on February 2nd that we would like 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 February 1st, see our “On Sale This Week” newsletter here.

THE ART OF WAR by Stephen Coonts (Thriller/Adventure)
A Chinese sleeper cell has planted a nuclear weapon in the harbor at Norfolk, Virginia, the biggest naval base on the planet. The target: a secret rendezvous of the Atlantic Fleet aircraft carriers and their battle groups.

BREAKDOWN: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman (Psychological Thriller)
Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware meets emotionally fragile TV actress Zelda Chase when called upon to evaluate her five-year-old son, Ovid. Years later, Alex is unexpectedly reunited with Zelda when she is involuntarily committed after a bizarre psychotic episode.

BROTHERHOOD IN DEATH by J. D. Robb (Thriller)
Sometimes brotherhood can be another word for conspiracy in J. D. Robb's new novel featuring homicide detective Eve Dallas.

THE CELLAR by Minette Walters (Psychological Thriller/Horror)
THE CELLAR is a harrowing novel about a family of African immigrants, the Songolis, and the dark secret they keep hidden in the depths of their seemingly respectable British home.

THE FORGETTING TIME by Sharon Guskin (Fiction)
One day, the preschool office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about her four-year-old son, Noah, now --- and life as she knows it stops.

THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF PORTUGAL by Yann Martel (Metaphysical Fiction)
THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF PORTUGAL --- part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable --- offers a haunting exploration of great love and great loss.

MISSING PIECES by Heather Gudenkauf (Thriller)
A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband's family in this chilling page-turner from Heather Gudenkauf.

REMEMBRANCE: A Mediator Novel by Meg Cabot (Paranormal Romance)
Suze Simon --- all grown up and engaged to her once-ghostly soulmate --- faces a vengeful spirit and an old enemy bent on ending Suze's wedded bliss before it begins.

ROBERT B. PARKER’S BLACKJACK by Robert Knott (Historical Mystery/Western)
Appaloosa, the hometown of Territorial Marshals Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, continues to prosper, but with prosperity comes a slew of new trouble. And there’s a new menace in town: a wealthy, handsome easterner --- and the owner of Appaloosa’s new casino --- Boston Bill Black.

THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN by Cristina Alger (Fiction)
From the acclaimed author of THE DARLINGS comes a hilarious yet tender exploration of fatherhood, love and family life through the story of a widower who attempts to become the father he didn’t know he could be.
Our Latest Poll and Word of Mouth/Sounding Off on Audio Contests


Is there an independent bookstore near your home?

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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 22nd to February 5th at noon ET, three lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of BREAKDOWN: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman and THE EX by Alafair Burke.

-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.

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