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February 19, 2016 Newsletter February 19, 2016
Mourning the Passing of Harper Lee

As we were putting this newsletter together today, news came in that Harper Lee had passed away at the age of 89. To say that Harper Lee was a national treasure is an understatement. I have never heard anyone say that they did not like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Most instead talk about it as a book that made them love reading, or changed their lives, and in that way she had a huge impact on encouraging a lifelong love of reading.

In 2010, when TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD celebrated its 50th anniversary, it was an event. HarperCollins produced a video where they asked industry folks, authors and readers to weigh in on what the book had meant to them. Both Greg and I were interviewed; I remember my pride as he was recorded, and I saw how this book had lit up his life. I stuck around to see others interviewed and noted that everyone who spoke dropped into some zone of awe as they talked about the meaning of this work. It had inspired and invigorated them --- and the fact that they remembered so much about it made me smile.

I am glad GO SET A WATCHMAN was published this summer, if for no other reason than Harper Lee could see the love that people had for her work again while she was still alive. That book has gone on to spend 29 weeks on the printed New York Times bestseller list. In October, a special Harper Lee boxed set was released, with both books, that you can see here. We honor her today...the memory of her work will endure the test of time.

As I write this newsletter, I am humming the words to Dave Edmunds’ song, “Here Comes the Weekend.” It’s been one of those hectic and compressed weeks where we condensed five days of work into four after a long weekend. Last weekend was lovely, despite the bitter temperatures; I think the world needs more three-day weekends. It was blissful to sit in front of the fire reading and knitting. Beyond that, traffic was light this week as many people were away for winter break, which made commuting a delight. My hat goes off to Tom Donadio, our Editorial Director, who was down for the count with a terrible cold this week, but still pulled together everything we needed for this update. I really appreciate him!

On Monday, both the audiobook and print book of Sue Klebold’s A MOTHER’S RECKONING: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy arrived at my house. After watching Sue interviewed by Diane Sawyer on "20/20" last Friday night, I eagerly anticipated this book, which I highly recommend. While we were horrified to watch the events at Columbine, for Sue, this event was personal as it was masterminded and executed by her son and his friend, Eric Harris. While wrapping her head around the horror of what had been unleashed that morning, she grappled with losing the child she had loved, presenting her with a deep set of challenges. In the days after the tragedy, I confess to wondering what kind of parents she and her husband had been, who could raise a child who was capable of executing this kind of a plot. How did they not know what was going on? Sue felt all of this and more.

My thoughts changed as I read the book. I actually listened to most of it on audio; Sue narrates it, and this is such a personal story for her that I felt it was a great way to read it. It’s important reading as she looks at how this happened and not why it happened. Armed with Dylan’s journals, she seeks out experts to guide her through what was happening to Dylan in the weeks, months and years leading up to the tragedy. There were shifts in his behavior that she wrote off as “typical adolescence.” She now sees that, compiled together, they were not. She explores not only the events at Columbine, but also brain health in the larger population. She learns that Dylan was suicidal and focused on ending his life for a long time. His was an act of murder/suicide where his accomplice fed on his energy, and together they hatched the seismic events at Columbine. Throughout the book, she is seeking understanding, not forgiveness. The difference between how and why are explored in depth. Sue has gone on to advocate for mental health issues, looking for both awareness and intervention.

I have long thought that the subject of mental health is stigmatized, and not adequately funded or explored. Though she forges on with initiatives to bring awareness, Sue thinks of her son and the victims --- a very heavy burden to carry through life. She is very brave to have written this book, where she unwraps and shares her innermost thoughts, something that took a lot of inner fortitude to do. This is the kind of book that could save lives. It will be a Bets On pick next week for all the above reasons. I hope it gets all the attention it deserves; for those who are wondering, her financial proceeds will be donated to mental health research and charitable organizations.

When I was at Winter Institute, I attended a dinner where Matthew Griffin, the author of HIDE, was one of the featured authors. In advance of the dinner, the publishers who were hosting the event sent me 50 pages of each of the featured authors' books. After reading the excerpt from HIDE and hearing Matthew speak about it, I looked forward to finishing it and finally got time to do that on Saturday. In it, Frank and Wendell meet in the South after World War II and fall in love at a time when being in love like this is against the law. They move to a remote farm and spend their lives together, casting away all others. Their caution and need to hide has them constantly looking over their shoulders for those who will out them. At one point, they decide to both go to a grocery store at the same time --- something that they have never done --- and while there, they act like strangers to one another so no one will learn their secret. While it begins as the story of two young men, the heart of it looks at love between two people in their twilight years.

Matthew was inspired to write it after witnessing the care and compassion that his grandparents had for one another. While often we look at young love, stories of lives where love has endured and the couple are facing health challenges give us a new view. Wendell is a taxidermist, giving the title HIDE yet another meaning. A word of caution here: There is an incident with a family pet, which will be tough reading for those who love animals.

The long weekend meant there was time for lots of reading, and thus I started two other books, both of which I am looking forward to finishing. First up is THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR by Helen Simonson, coming out March 22nd. It takes place during the summer before World War I. Set in East Sussex (where Helen was raised) in 1914, Beatrice Nash has arrived in town to teach. Agatha Kent, who has lobbied for her tenure there, is distressed to learn that Beatrice is not some old schoolmarm type, but rather a pretty and bright young woman. Layer in Hugh Grange, Agatha’s son, who is studying medicine and is in town to visit his aunt, and I may sense something brewing between them. I am not sure, though, as Beatrice is clearly saddened by the death of her father and seems to be viewing her time in Sussex as an opportunity to read, escape and be alone with her books and her bicycle. While these are not the folks who inhabit Downton Abbey, the same spirit of propriety and politeness imbues this book. I had the pleasure of hearing Helen speak about this book at a luncheon in the fall, and I am going to be interviewing her at the Random House Open House in late April. Fans of MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND will be lining up to read this, which was named as a #1 selection from Library Reads.

LILAC GIRLS by Martha Hall Kelly (April 5th) is a debut that I am kicking myself for not getting to sooner! Proving that World War II is still great fodder for novels, LILAC GIRLS looks at three women whose stories had not been previously told. Martha says that the book “is based on the life of Caroline Ferriday, who was a real heroine, and the character of Kasia is based on Nina Ivanska, one of the 'rabbits' of Ravensbruck, who helped smuggle out the news of their operations to the world.” The third character is a young doctor, Herta Oberheuser, who finds herself not in the position she was looking for, but rather as an instrument of the Nazis. Set across Paris, Germany and Poland, the story promises to lend yet another lens to the war. I look forward to finishing it.

Both LILAC GIRLS and THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR are destined to be Bets On selections.

It’s shaping up to be a great year for reading! Now to this week’s update…

Our Debut Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight on THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton brings you our review of the book and an interview with Fiona. In this harrowing debut, readers are introduced to Jean, a woman who has stood by her husband for years, despite evidence that he once committed a terrible crime. For too long, she withstood the accusatory glares and quiet rumors, focusing only on her housewife duties. Now, however, her husband is dead, and Jean can finally share her side of the story. But is her story really the truth?

Joe Hartlaub has our rave review and calls THE WIDOW “an emotionally powerful novel. None of the characters emerge from the ending in quite the same state as they entered, and I daresay any reader won’t either. I had quite a dramatic emotional reaction to the conclusion; I would guess that it was a painful book to write, but what a wondrous, bittersweet work it is to read." Joe also had the pleasure of speaking with Fiona, and you can see their interview here. I will have more on the book next week when I pick it as a Bets On selection; for me, it was a page-turner. I am so glad I had the chance to meet Fiona in Denver and chat with her!

Kate Hamer makes her debut with THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT, an immersive novel about a mother and daughter torn apart. Single mother Beth is constantly worried that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, will wander off for good one day. Then, on a foggy Saturday morning at an outdoor festival, it happens. Totally heartbroken, Beth sets off on a mission to find her little girl, even as the authorities tell her that hope may be lost. Carmel, meanwhile, is on her own sort of journey, one that will require her to live by her instincts and memories of her mother.

According to reviewer Megan Elliott, “Hamer is on the hunt for emotional truth here, and the who, what and where of Carmel’s abduction matter less than how she and her mother cope with their feelings of grief and loss after their separation. She tells the story of Carmel’s disappearance with grace and sensitivity, resulting in a book with far more nuance than a typical by-the-numbers missing child story.” I read it, and Hamer had me completely engrossed. I expect to hear a lot more about this book and the author.

Following the celebrated release of THE UNCHANGEABLE SPOTS OF LEOPARDS, Kristopher Jansma returns with WHY WE CAME TO THE CITY. Although it has been five years since their college graduation, the devoted friends known as “the Murphys” remain inseparable. They are making their way to a lavish art world holiday party, though the night will become far more momentous than any of them realize. Before the night is over, Irene will notice a lump under her eye, William will fall in love with her, and George will finally ask Sara to marry him. Over the next few years, these dynamic characters will chase their dreams in Great Recession New York, watching acquaintances falter and clinging to one another tighter than ever. But when a devastating change threatens to tear them all apart, they must struggle to hold the group --- and each other --- together.

Reviewer Norah Piehl weighs in: “The events that transpire in Jansma’s novel may be extreme in many ways, but they also dramatically portray the realities that face many people in the post-college years --- from coming to terms with their friends settling down to confronting a loved one’s death for the first time. More generally, the book perfectly captures the amorphous disappointment that many promising young people must deal with as they approach their late 20s (or, gasp, even 30!) and realize that they’re probably never going to be the wunderkind their parents and teachers might have imagined them to be.”

Just added this week to are the guides for NO SHRED OF EVIDENCE, the latest installment in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series by the acclaimed mother-son duo known as Charles Todd, and THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE, Joshilyn Jackson’s insightful story about endings and beginnings. We also have reviews of both books, and we’re happy to share interviews we conducted with the authors, all of which you can see later in this newsletter.

Our second annual Winter Reading contests wrapped up this week. Our final three prize books were THE FRIENDS WE KEEP by Susan Mallery, LOVE IN LOWERCASE by Francesc Miralles, and A PLACE FOR US by Harriet Evans. Congratulations to all the winners of our 17 contests! Our Spring Preview contests will kick off on Tuesday, March 15th, so get ready for those.

More congratulations is in order to the five winners of our 11th annual Valentine's Day contest! These readers received a copy of each of our six featured books and some scrumptious Ghirardelli chocolate. We gave entrants the option of answering the question “Who is your all-time literary crush?” As always, we enjoyed compiling your top 10 “Literary Loves and Lusts,” which you can see here.

We’ve posted our History Books roundup for February. Included are titles perfect for Black History Month (THE BLACK CALHOUNS, THE FIREBRAND AND THE FIRST LADY), and with the primaries in full swing, it’s only fitting that many of this month’s titles center on US presidents, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, John Quincy Adams and Theodore Roosevelt.

This week’s new poll poses a question that we’ve never asked before, so we’re VERY curious about your responses. Approximately how much of a book do you read before you decide if you will finish it? Click here to let us know!

Our previous poll asked the following: Do you purchase eBooks at discounted prices (e.g., $.99, $1.99, $2.99) and read them? 20% of you do not read eBooks. 27% purchase them some of the time and read them, while 22% purchase them some of the time and sometimes read them, and 7% never do this. Click here for all the results.

We have a brand new Word of Mouth contest to tell you about. Let us know by Friday, March 4th at noon ET what books you’ve finished reading, and you’ll be in the running to win A GIRL’S GUIDE TO MOVING ON by Debbie Macomber (which could be Debbie’s best book in years!) and UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Joyce Maynard (a future Bets On pick).

Don’t forget to enter this month’s Sounding Off on Audio contest. Let us know by Tuesday, March 1st at noon ET what audiobooks you’ve finished listening to for a chance to win the audio versions of Gregg Hurwitz's ORPHAN X, performed by Scott Brick, and THE SOUND OF GRAVEL: A Memoir, written and read by Ruth Wariner --- both of which are Bets On titles.

News and Pop Culture:

Reader Mail:

Jani wrote with a question about the Edinburgh Book Festival: “Just wondering if you've ever been to the book festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. It's in August and looks to be a lot of fun. I am going with friends (we have a flat booked in the Grassmarket area), and all three of us are avid readers. Since I am also a reviewer, I thought it would be cool to read up ahead of time on those authors already scheduled. Anyway, Edinburgh is magical in August with the nightly fireworks from the Castle, and the craziness in the streets with the Festival Fringe as well as other Festivals all combining during August. This is my third time during festival month, so I hope I've prepared the 'virgins' going with me for the sensory overload! That being said, the three of us who are going are also rabid Outlander fans, and we're planning a two-day trip up to Inverness to visit the Culloden Battlefield (where Jamie Fraser fought). I've been to Scotland many times, but each time I visit this place, it gives me goosebumps --- much like the feeling at Gettysburg and the Vietnam Wall. I enjoy the weekly newsletter so much! I wish I had more time to read books you recommend, but my review pile never seems to diminish. Thankfully, most are good reads.” I have not attended this book festival, but if any of you have done so and have tips for Jani, please let me know!

Pat Conroy’s cancer: Those are three words that I did not want to string together. We learned this week that bestselling and well-loved author Pat Conroy has pancreatic cancer. He’s undergoing treatment and is optimistic. As he noted on Facebook, “I owe you a novel and intend to deliver it.” We look forward to reading it!

Savannah Book Festival: Rebecca Munro loved this bookish event in Savannah. She texted me throughout the weekend as she attended sold-out events with Paula McLain (who rapped a little Eminem) and Erik Larsen (who she found to be humorous). She saw Sara Gruen and Chris Bohjalian…and much, much more. Unfortunately, she came back and was felled by the flu, but she still was able to file this terrific report for us here.

Speaking of festivals: We’ve updated the listing of Book Festivals and Fairs for 2016. We are waiting for dates to be announced for some of them. See what we have so far here. If you know of an event that is missing, please drop Tom a note at, and we will get it added.

Jimmy Carter wins a Grammy (again!): Former president Jimmy Carter, at age 91, won his second Grammy for best spoken word album for his reading of his memoir, A FULL LIFE: Reflections at Ninety.

The Martian: Last weekend, Tom and I watched The Martian, and we see why it’s gotten such raves from viewers! I do not think I ever will look at a potato the same way again! Amusingly we saw a piece this week that a store is selling the DVDs near the potatoes in the store. Love this!

My mother-in-law’s birthday is today, and we are celebrating tonight here at the house with homemade pizza and birthday dessert. Like my mom, she is an avid reader, so I am combing my shelves to find some books that I think she may enjoy. Beyond that, a quiet winter weekend is on tap. Greg has a curling competition on Saturday night, and I am sure that Cory will mosey on over here at some point.

I am knitting I-cord for the edges of the mohair scarf that I made. Melanie, who edits our Word of Mouth section, sent me this cool tool for making I-cord quickly. Sadly, the mohair yarn I am using is too fine and sticky to work with it, thus I am working yarn the old-fashioned way, but I already am plotting another project with I-cord just to put it to work!

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 Fiona Barton, Author of THE WIDOW --- Our Latest Debut Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Title
THE WIDOW, debut author Fiona Barton’s brilliant psychological thriller, had readers buzzing well before its publication date. It’s the story of a woman who has stood firmly by a husband suspected of committing a terrible crime. Now that he is dead, people want the truth --- which is never as simple as it seems. Although this is her first book, Barton has been a respected journalist for over 30 years and has a keen eye for the fine line between fact and fiction. In this interview, she talks to’s Joe Hartlaub about her unconventional storytelling choices, why she finds “the people on the edge of stories” so fascinating, and how she is adjusting to the unexpected but very well-deserved success of her inaugural novel.

THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton (Psychological Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Hannah Curtis, Nicholas Guy Smith, Mandy Williams, Jayne Entwistle and Steve West
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. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-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 see the 35 winners selected to read and comment on the book.
-Click here to read more in our Debut Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight.

Click here to read our interview.
Now in Stores: MIDNIGHT SUN by Jo Nesbø
MIDNIGHT SUN by Jo Nesbø (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Kim Gordon
He calls himself Ulf, and the only thing he’s looking for is a place where he won’t be found by Oslo’s most notorious drug lord: the Fisherman. He was once the Fisherman’s fixer, but after betraying him, Ulf is now the one his former boss needs fixed --- which may not be a problem for a man whose criminal reach is boundless. The agonizing wait for the inevitable moment when the Fisherman’s henchmen will show forces him to question if redemption is at all possible or if, as he’s always believed, “hope is a real bastard.” Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT by Kate Hamer
THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT by Kate Hamer (Psychological Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Antonia Beamish
Newly single mom Beth worries that her eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing. And then it happens: The two get separated at a local outdoor festival, and Carmel vanishes. Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter. Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own --- to a totally unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to keep in her head a vision of her mother. Reviewed by Megan Elliott.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review. Talks to Charles Todd, Author of NO SHRED OF EVIDENCE
Charles Todd, the mother-son writing duo responsible for countless bestselling historical mysteries, returns with NO SHRED OF EVIDENCE, the latest entry in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. When four young women are accused of a crime --- without a shred of evidence to clear their names --- war-scarred Rutledge embarks on a dangerous search for the true perpetrator, with many lives hanging in the balance. In this interview with’s Ray Palen, the Todd team discusses how their protagonist (and the entire country) has been changed by the war and how the evolution of Rutledge's character surprised even them. They also talk about why they choose the specific time period and settings of their novels, and how they keep their mysteries entertaining, above all else.

NO SHRED OF EVIDENCE: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd (Historical Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by Simon Prebble
On the north coast of Cornwall, an apparent act of mercy is repaid by an arrest for murder. Four young women have been accused of the crime. A shocked father calls in a favor at the Home Office. Scotland Yard is asked to review the case. However, Inspector Ian Rutledge is not the first Inspector to reach the village. Following in the shoes of a dead man, he is told the case is all but closed. Even as it takes an unexpected personal turn, Rutledge will require all his skill to deal with the incensed families of the accused, the grieving parents of the victim, and local police eager to see these four women sent to the infamous Bodmin Gaol. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
Click here to read our interview. Talks to Joshilyn Jackson, Author of THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE
Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, as well as an award-winning audiobook narrator (something we have a great appreciation for at In her latest book, THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE, former foster kid and tough-as-nails attorney Paula Vauss discovers that her estranged mother has another daughter and, with the help of her ex-lover, must figure out how to put her family back together. In this interview with’s Bronwyn Miller, Jackson talks about why she decided to give scene-stealing Paula --- a minor character in SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY --- her own story, the unique genre she would assign her eclectic bibliography, and why this might not be the last readers will see of Paula.

THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE by Joshilyn Jackson (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Joshilyn Jackson
A fiercely independent divorce lawyer learns the power of family and connection when she receives a cryptic message from her estranged mother in this latest novel from Joshilyn Jackson, the nationally bestselling author of SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY and GODS IN ALABAMA. THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE is an emotionally resonant tale about the endurance of love and the power of stories to shape and transform our lives. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
Click here to read our interview.
Now in Stores: WHY WE CAME TO THE CITY by Kristopher Jansma
WHY WE CAME TO THE CITY by Kristopher Jansma (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
Five years after their college graduation, five devoted friends remain as inseparable as ever. Amid cheerful revelry and free-flowing champagne at a posh holiday party, they toast themselves and the new year ahead --- a year that holds many surprises in store. They must navigate ever-shifting relationships with New York City and with one another, determined to push onward in pursuit of their precarious dreams. And when a devastating blow brings their momentum to a halt, the group is forced to reexamine their aspirations and chart new paths through unexpected losses. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE YID by Paul Goldberg
THE YID by Paul Goldberg (Historical Fiction)
A week before Stalin's death, his final pogrom is in full swing. Three government goons arrive in the middle of the night to arrest Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, an actor from the defunct State Jewish Theater. But Levinson is a veteran of past wars, and his shocking response to the intruders sets in motion a series of events both zany and deadly as he proceeds to assemble a ragtag group to help him enact a mad-brilliant plot: the assassination of a tyrant. While the setting is Soviet Russia, the backdrop is Shakespeare: A mad king has a diabolical plan to exterminate and deport his country's remaining Jews. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
February's History Books Roundup
February's roundup of History titles includes WEST OF EDEN, a mesmerizing oral history of Hollywood and Los Angeles from Jean Stein, the author of the contemporary classic EDIE; THE FIRST CONGRESS by Fergus M. Bordewich, which tells the dramatic story of the two remarkable years when George Washington, James Madison and their dedicated colleagues struggled to successfully create our government, an achievement that has lasted to the present day; THE BLACK CALHOUNS, in which Gail Lumet Buckley --- the daughter of actress Lena Horne --- delves deep into her family history, detailing the experiences of an extraordinary African-American family from Civil War to Civil Rights; and Patricia Bell-Scott's THE FIREBRAND AND THE FIRST LADY, which details the story of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist, granddaughter of a mulatto slave, and the first lady of the United States, whose ancestry gave her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, forged an enduring friendship that changed each of their lives and helped to alter the course of race and racism in America.
Click here to see our History Books roundup for February.
What's New This Month on
We currently are giving away the following books on

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
BROTHERHOOD IN DEATH by J. D. Robb (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Susan Ericksen
Just as Dennis Mira is about to confront his cousin Edward about selling the West Village brownstone that belonged to their grandfather, he gets a shock: Edward is in front of him, bruised and bloody…and then everything goes black. When Dennis comes to, Edward is gone. Luckily Dennis’ wife is a top profiler for the NYPSD --- and a close colleague of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Now Eve is determined to uncover the secrets of Edward Mira, but whoever is behind this disappearance, Edward is not going to be their last victim. Reviewed by Jennifer McCord.

A DOUBTER'S ALMANAC by Ethan Canin (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by David Aaron Baker
Milo Andret is born with an unusual mind. A lonely child growing up in the woods of northern Michigan, he gives little thought to his own talent. But with his acceptance at U.C. Berkeley, he realizes the extent --- and the risks --- of his singular gifts. California in the ’70s is a seduction, opening Milo’s eyes to the allure of both ambition and indulgence. The research he begins there will make him a legend; the woman he meets there --- and the rival he meets alongside her --- will haunt him for the rest of his life. For Milo’s brilliance is entwined with a dark need that soon grows to threaten his work, his family, even his existence. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

HONKY TONK SAMURAI: A Hap and Leonard Novel by Joe R. Lansdale (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Christopher Ryan Grant
When Hap and Leonard witness a man abusing his dog, Leonard takes matters into his own fists --- and now the bruised dog abuser wants to press charges. One week later, a woman drops by their new PI office with a proposition: find her missing granddaughter, or she'll turn in a video of Leonard beating the dog abuser. The two agree to take on the cold case and soon discover that the used car dealership where her granddaughter worked is actually a front for a prostitution ring. What began as a missing-person case becomes one of blackmail and murder. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE LIFE OF ELVES written by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson (Fiction)
Maria lives in a remote village in Burgundy, where she learns that she has a gift for communicating with nature. Hundreds of miles away in Italy, Clara discovers that she possesses a stunning musical genius and is sent from the countryside to Rome to develop her preternatural abilities. THE LIVES OF THE ELVES tells the story of two children whose extraordinary talents will bring them into contact with magical worlds and malevolent forces. If, against all odds, they can be brought together, their meeting may shape the course of history. Reviewed by Katherine B. Weissman.

THE FIRST CONGRESS: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government by Fergus M. Bordewich (History/Politics)
The First Congress was the most important in US history, says prize-winning author and historian Fergus Bordewich, because it established how our government would actually function. Had it failed, it’s possible that the United States as we know it would not exist today. The Constitution was a broad set of principles. It was left to the members of the First Congress and President George Washington to create the machinery that would make the government work. Fortunately, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and others less well known today rose to the occasion. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

WRECK AND ORDER by Hannah Tennant-Moore (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Nicol Zanzarella
Elsie has a tumultuous relationship with an abusive boyfriend, a dead-end job at a newspaper, and a sharp intelligence that’s constantly at odds with her many bad decisions. When her initial attempts to improve her life go awry, Elsie decides that a dramatic change is the only solution. So she travels to Paris and Sri Lanka, hoping to accumulate experiences, create connections, and discover a new way to live. Along the way, she meets men and women who challenge and provoke her towards the change she genuinely hopes to find. But in the end, she must still come face-to-face with herself. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE QUALITY OF SILENCE by Rosamund Lupton (Psychological Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Fiona Hardingham
THE QUALITY OF SILENCE is the story of Yasmin, a beautiful astrophysicist, and her precocious deaf daughter, Ruby, who arrive in a remote part of Alaska to be told that Ruby's father, Matt, has been the victim of a catastrophic accident. Unable to accept his death as truth, Yasmin and Ruby set out into the hostile winter of the Alaskan tundra in search of answers. But as a storm closes in, Yasmin realizes that a very human danger may be keeping pace with them. And with no one else on the road to help, they must keep moving, alone and terrified, through an endless Alaskan night. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

FLOODGATE by Johnny Shaw (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Patrick Lawlor
After discovering explosive information that reveals corruption within the highest levels of the police department, Andy Destra is kicked off the force, framed and disgraced, left to wage a lonely one-man crusade against conspiracies he can’t prove. Andy’s investigation plunges him into a blackly comic maelstrom of one-armed gang members, slick pickpockets, criminal syndicates, hired mercenaries, escaped convicts, sewer dwellers and one sinister ice cream truck. At the same time, he must contend with a mystery closer to home: the true identity of his parents. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

A VOICE FROM THE FIELD by Neal Griffin (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Rachel Fulginiti
Gunther Kane and his white supremacist group are using forced prostitution to finance the purchase of automatic weapons. Kane snatches young women off the streets and sells them to hundreds of men. When a victim is used up, she's killed and dumped. Physically recovered from being shot but struggling with PTSD, Tia Suarez almost doesn't believe her eyes when she glimpses a Hispanic teenager bound and gagged in the back of Kane's van. The look of terror on the woman's face makes Tia desperate to rescue her, and nothing will stop her. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
Next Week’s Notables: Noteworthy Books Releasing on February 23rd
Below are some notable titles releasing on February 23rd 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 22nd, see our “On Sale This Week” newsletter here.

DEATH OF A NURSE: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery by M. C. Beaton (Mystery)
M. C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series continues with a new mystery featuring Scotland's most quick-witted but unambitious policeman.

THE FRIENDS WE KEEP by Susan Mallery (Fiction)
Three close friends test the boundaries of how much a woman can give before she has nothing left.

A GIRL'S GUIDE TO MOVING ON by Debbie Macomber (Romance)
A mother and her daughter-in-law bravely leave their troubled marriages and face the challenge of starting over.

I'M GLAD ABOUT YOU by Theresa Rebeck (Fiction)
I'M GLAD ABOUT YOU is a glittering study of how far the compromises two people make will take them from the lives they were meant to live.

SHE'S NOT THERE by Joy Fielding (Psychological Thriller)
A vanished child, a family in turmoil, and a fateful phone call that brings the torments of the past into the harrowing present. Joy Fielding weaves these spellbinding elements into a gripping novel of psychological suspense.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Joyce Maynard (Fiction)
The bestselling author of LABOR DAY and AFTER HER returns with a poignant story about the true meaning --- and the true price --- of friendship.

WEDDING CAKE MURDER: A Hannah Swensen Mystery with Recipes! by Joanne Fluke (Mystery)
Hannah Swensen is thrilled to be marrying her college crush. And her excitement only grows when she learns he’ll be able to join her on her trip to New York City for the Food Channel’s dessert chef contest. But, of course, nothing goes according to the recipe.
Click here to see our latest "On Sale This Week" newsletter.
Our Latest Poll: Do You Stop Reading Books You're Not Liking?
Approximately how much of a book do you read before you decide if you will finish it?

  • The opening chapter
  • 10 pages or less
  • 25 pages
  • 50 pages
  • 75 pages
  • 100 pages
  • More than 100 pages
  • I never have a set number of pages in mind.
  • I always finish every book that I start.
Click here to vote in the poll.
Word of Mouth Contest: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can Win Two Books!
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 February 19th to March 4th at noon ET, three lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of A GIRL’S GUIDE TO MOVING ON by Debbie Macomber and UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Joyce Maynard.

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

-To see reader comments from previous contest periods, click here.
Click here to enter the contest.
Sounding Off on Audio Contest: Tell Us What You're Listening to --- and You Can Win Two Audiobooks!
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 February 1st to March 1st at noon ET, two lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win the audio versions of both Gregg Hurwitz's ORPHAN X, performed by Scott Brick, and THE SOUND OF GRAVEL: A Memoir, written and read by Ruth Wariner.

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

-To see reader comments from previous contest periods, click here.
Click here to enter the contest.

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