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December 16, 2005 Newsletter

December 16, 2005

This Week on
Happy Holidaze to You; Happy New Year Too! Author Interviews of 2005 2005 Reviewer Picks

Our Last Week --- Holiday Basket of Cheer: TWO BOOKS and Weekly Basket Giveaway!

Spotlight On Our Newest Debut Suspense/Thriller Author: Raymond Khoury, Author of THE LAST TEMPLAR

Debut Suspense/Thriller Feature --- Richard Hawke, Author of SPEAK OF THE DEVIL

What to Give/What to Get: Eat, Drink & Be Merry --- Cookbooks, Entertaining Guides and Culinary Tales

What to Give/What to Get --- Mystery Madness & Thrilling Reads: Mysteries, Thrillers & Suspense

What to Give/What to Get --- Stocking Stuffers: Books small enough to pack up in stockings and buy in quantity

New in Paperback for December

This Week's Reviews and Features Blog

Poll: Better Books and a Better You?
Question of the Week: Best Book of 2005 --- YOUR pick
Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading -- THREE Prizes!
Quick Links to Features On The Book Report Network
Past Reviews
Can't See the Graphics? Read This Newsletter Online
Past Question of the Week: What book published this year would you want to give multiple copies of --- and why?
Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Promotion
Debut Suspense/Thriller One to Watch Promotion
Mystery Mayhem Promotion

Fantasy Author Spotlight Promotion

One to Watch Promotion
Chick Lit Promotion
Holiday Basket of Cheer Promotion
Happy Holidaze to You; Happy New Year Too!

As I wrote the headline to this newsletter, I was humming it like a song in my head. Much progress in our house on the holidaze front. My gifts are wrapped, except for the ones that are still on order. I have been wrapping gifts as soon as they arrive trying to keep from the Christmas Eve wrapping marathon where there's never any tape and I contemplate bandaids for closure.

Of course, I still have a few more bookstore trips planned since I keep thinking of more people who I want to get this book or that book for. I am betting you are the same way. I like to browse bookstores for great last-minute ideas, as well as big presents. For those of you looking for a great last-minute gift to give, may I suggest the LightWedge, which is's FAVORITE reading light? Click the graphic in this letter to read more about it!

Our family card is in progress as I am determined not to be writing these on vacation. Note that I say this every year, but this year I am serious! We design this card with photos and, yes, the sappy annual letter. It's a "production," but I have them all saved from through the years and it's nice to look back at them.

The holiday card is half-written and will be along sometime next week. I need at least one more night in front of the fire with my feet up to finish it. I actually have ingredients in the house to bake and menus planned for holiday dinners, which is nice. I am now convinced I have forgotten something MAJOR! I am sure you all can relate to something like this.

For those of you looking for a holiday movie to wrap by, may I suggest The Christmas Blessing, which airs on CBS Sunday night at 9PM ET? It's based on Donna VanLiere's bestselling book of the same name.

This week we bring you some annual roundups. The first is a collection of our Author Interviews of 2005. We thought it would be nice to look back on the ones you missed. The second is our Reviewers' Picks of the Best of 2005. I dislike doing an official Best of List since I have a hard time selecting books like this. It seems so not in the spirit of what we do. Thus I turn to our reviewers to lend their voices and then ask you to lend yours in our Question of the Week, which asks what you think was the Best Book published in 2005.
One quick note. We ended up selecting 20 advance winners in THE LAST TEMPLAR advance reading contest. Scroll down to see if you were a winner.
We are taking the next couple of weeks off to enjoy the holiday, take some vacation time and read! We'll be back with a new update on January 6th. I am off to the Outer Banks where my plan is reading --- and sleeping. As always, I have more books to read than I have time, but I will do my best to do a book a day! I will write some blogs over the next couple of weeks to check in about what I am reading --- and loving, so do keep an eye on the Blog page.
Here's wishing you the very best this holiday season. May your celebrations be equal parts tradition and surprises. Thank you for reading and here's to a great 2006. By the way, and The Book Report Network celebrate its 10th Anniversary next year, so get ready for a year-long celebration. Have a good one.

Carol Fitzgerald (

List of titles reviewed and featured on December 16th

List of titles reviewed and featured on December 9th

Click here to get more info about the LightWedge. Author Interviews of 2005

As 2005 comes to a close, we invite you to sit back and enjoy the author interviews that were featured throughout the year on This is a great way to catch up on the discussions you may have missed --- and to re-read what some of your favorite authors had to say about their books.

Click here to see our list of Author Interviews. 2005 Reviewer Picks

Recently we asked our reviewers to provide us with a list of some of their favorite books from 2005. Included is a mix of fiction and nonfiction titles, all published this year. Take a moment to read these varied lists of titles, and see if you agree with their selections! Please note that due to personal and professional commitments, some reviewers were not able to participate in this feature.

Click here to read our 2005 Reviewer Picks.


Our Last Week --- Holiday Basket of Cheer: TWO BOOKS and Weekly Basket Giveaway!

The holiday season is upon us! At this means it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with you with our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest.

Each week from November 4th through December 16th we will spotlight a different title, and readers will have the chance to win one of five holiday baskets filled with winter-themed items as well as two copies of the featured book. Why two? One is to keep, of course, and one is for someone on your holiday gift list. We will also include festive wrapping paper and a bow to make the gift-giving hassle-free.

This week our featured titles are THIS CHRISTMAS by Jane Green, Jennifer Coburn & Liz Ireland and SUGAR COOKIE MURDER by Joanne Fluke.

Our Holiday Basket of Cheer is a woven basket stocked with holiday-themed items. Along with a copy of THIS CHRISTMAS by Jane Green, Jennifer Coburn & Liz Ireland and SUGAR COOKIE MURDER by Joanne Fluke, green-and-tan checkered wrapping paper and a matching bow --- winners will receive a cinnamon spice-scented Illuminations candle, Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate mix, gourmet vanilla marshmallows, sweet-smelling Cinnamon sticks, delicious Chewy Peps peppermint candies, soft comfy slipper socks and blue-green treated pinecones that will color your holiday fire.

THIS CHRISTMAS by Jane Green, Jennifer Coburn & Liz Ireland (Romance Anthology)
Reviewed by Shannon McKenna
Celebrate the season with a collection of sweet, sexy stories from Jane Green, Jennifer Coburn and Liz Ireland. Whether you've been naughty or nice this year, partake in a little holiday cheer as you follow the characters in these tales through the ups and downs of marriage, family, and shopping for another woman's prospective husband.

SUGAR COOKIE MURDER by Joanne Fluke (Mystery)
Reviewed by Shannon McKenna
Hannah Swensen is back in her sixth food-themed caper, and this time the bakeshop owner and sometime-sleuth has a full plate. So will murder put a damper on Lake Eden, Minnesota's much-anticipated annual Christmas buffet? Not with Hannah, who is as skilled at uncovering clues as she is at creating confections --- on the case!

Click here to read all the details of our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest.


Spotlight On Our Newest Debut Suspense/Thriller Author: Raymond Khoury, Author of THE LAST TEMPLAR

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Acclaimed screenwriter and producer Raymond Khoury's debut novel THE LAST TEMPLAR hits bookshelves on January 19th and already has been met with international acclaim. From the stunning first scene to the startling climax, Khoury weaves a breathlessly compelling tale that will delight thriller fans and history buffs alike.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE LAST TEMPLAR.
-Click here to see our list of 20! Advance Reader Copy Winners.

"It has served us well, this myth of Christ."
-Pope Leo X, 16th Century

In a hail of fire and flashing sword, as the burning city of Jerusalem falls from the hands of the West in 1291, The Last Templar opens with a young Templar knight, his mentor, and a handful of others escaping to the sea carrying a mysterious chest entrusted to them by the Order's dying Grand Master. The ship vanishes without a trace.

In present day Manhattan, four masked horsemen dressed as Templar Knights emerge from Central Park and ride up the Fifth Avenue steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the black-tie opening of a Treasures of the Vatican exhibit. Storming through the crowds, the horsemen brutally attack anyone standing between them and their prize. Attending the gala, archaeologist Tess Chaykin watches in silent terror as the leader of the horsemen hones in on one piece in particular, a strange geared device. He utters a few cryptic Latin words as he takes hold of it with reverence before leading the horsemen out and disappearing into the night.

In the aftermath, an FBI investigation is led by anti-terrorist specialist Sean Reilly. Soon, he and Tess are drawn into the dark, hidden history of the crusading Knights, plunging them into a deadly game of cat and mouse with ruthless killers as they race across three continents to recover the lost secret of the Templars.

Click here to read more about Raymond Khoury and THE LAST TEMPLAR.


Debut Suspense/Thriller Feature --- Richard Hawke, Author of SPEAK OF THE DEVIL

Richard Hawke is one of the authors spotlighted in our Debut Suspense/Thriller feature. His white-knuckle thrill ride of a novel SPEAK OF THE DEVIL has already garnered praise from critics, fellow authors and readers alike. Called "intense and intriguing" by Michael Connelly, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL promises to establish Hawke's place at the table of acclaimed Suspense/Thriller authors.

-Click here to read a new excerpt from SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.
-Click here to see our list of 20! Advance Reader Copy Winners.

It all begins on a beautiful crisp Thanksgiving morning. A gunman takes aim on the crowd gathered for Manhattan's world-famous parade. Only one man in the throng sees it happening. And before the gunshots have even finished echoing off the venerable apartment buildings lining the parade route, that man is on the chase.

And that man doesn't know when to let up.

He's Fritz Malone, bastard son of a former New York City police commissioner, every bit as wry and old-style romantic as he is cool, smart and relentless. Within minutes of pursuing the parade shooter (within pages!), Fritz is tossed into a game that involves coldhearted criminals, dirty cops and long-buried secrets held by those who have no intention of allowing anyone to bring them up into the light of day. Ever.

Click here to read more about Richard Hawke and SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.

What to Give/What to Get: Eat, Drink & Be Merry --- Cookbooks, Entertaining Guides and Culinary Tales

Our Eat, Drink & Be Merry category features books that will delight any connoisseur of good food, good wine and good books.


DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME by Kimberly Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman (Editors)

JAPANESE WOMEN DON'T GET OLD OR FAT by Naomi Moriyama and William Doyle


THIRSTY WORK by Matt Skinner

Click here to read more about the Eat, Drink & Be Merry Titles featured in our What to Give/What to Get Guide.

What to Give/What to Get --- Mystery Madness & Thrilling Reads: Mysteries, Thrillers & Suspense






Our Mystery Madness & Thrilling Reads titles are perfect for the suspense fan on your list. Keep them up reading all night with these creepy and compelling tales.

CREEPERS by David Morrell

GIRL SLEUTH by Melanie Rehak

S IS FOR SILENCE by Sue Grafton


Click here to read more about the Mystery Madness & Thrilling Reads Titles featured in our What to Give/What to Get Guide.

What to Give/What to Get --- Stocking Stuffers: Books small enough to pack up in stockings and buy in quantity

We saved the best for last! Our Stocking Stuffers category is a veritable treasure trove of perfect mini-gifts for the book lover, of any genre, on your list.

52 PROJECTS: Random Acts of Everyday Creativity by Jeffrey Yamaguchi

700 SUNDAYS by Billy Crystal

THE BART BOOK by Matt Groening



Special limited time offer: buy 2, get 1 free. For details, visit

THE HOMER BOOK by Matt Groening

IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN by Jim Henson, Muppets, and Friends

THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

LUMP O' COAL by Zolo

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius; Why I Write by George Orwell; Why I Am So Wise by Friedrich Nietzsche; The Prince by Niccolo Macchiavelli; On the Pleasure of Hating by William Hazlitt; On Natural Selection by Charles Darwin; On Art and Life by John Ruskin; The Inner Life by Thomas a Kempis; Common Sense by Thomas Paine; The Christians and the Fall of Rome by Edward Gibbon; On the Shortness of Life by Lucius Annaeus Seneca; On Friendship by Michel de Montaigne.


Click here to read more about all the Stocking Stuffers Titles featured in our What to Give/What to Get guide.


New in Paperback for December

December's roundup of New in Paperback titles includes ALONE, a riveting suspense/thriller by Lisa Gardner that truly will keep you on the edge of your seat; THE MEMORY OF RUNNING, Ron McLarty's bestselling debut novel about a middle-aged man who embarks on a journey of discovery and redemption; A THREAD OF GRACE by Mary Doria Russell, a work of historical fiction set during the final years of World War II; and Amy Krouse Rosenthal's memoir ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AN ORDINARY LIFE, in which she conveys the accumulated knowledge of her lifetime through the format of an encyclopedia.

Click here to read our December New in Paperback feature.

This Week's Reviews and Features

THE CONSTANT PRINCESS by Philippa Gregory (Historical Fiction)
Reviewed by Amie Taylor
The story of Henry VIII is one that has fascinated many throughout time. But the story of Katherine of Aragon, his first wife among six, has stolen the limelight in this new work of historical fiction in which bestselling author Philippa Gregory gives us a fresh and interesting glimpse into a centuries-old story.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE CONSTANT PRINCESS.

MY FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror by Louis J. Freeh (Current Affairs/Biography)
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad
Louis Freeh led the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1993 to 2001 through some of the most tumultuous times in its long history. This is the story of a life in law enforcement, and of one man's determined struggle to strengthen and reform the FBI while ensuring its freedom from political interference.

THE NEW WOMAN: A Staggerford Novel by Jon Hassler (Fiction)
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum
Agatha McGee, now 87 years old, knows she's slowing down. From the window of her new home in the Sunset Senior apartments, she can see that Staggerford has become a town with hustle and bustle that threatens to leave her behind. But in Hassler's imaginary Staggerford, things don't always turn out as expected, and as the story unfolds Agatha moves back and forth from the present to her past.

SUMMER CROSSING by Truman Capote (Fiction)
Reviewed by Jamie Layton
Set in New York during the summer of 1945, Truman Capote's very first novel is the story of a young carefree socialite who must make serious decisions about the romance she is dangerously pursuing and the effect it will have on everyone involved.

TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES by Alison Lurie (Fiction)
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
Alan Mackenzie has suffered a debilitating back injury and is becoming more and more dependent on his wife Jane. But with the arrival of the beautiful Delia Delaney, Alan gradually begins to recover and becomes well enough for a not-so-harmless liaison. Meanwhile, Jane, who all her life has tried to be a good woman, finds herself falling in love with Delia's husband.

CONSIDER THE LOBSTER: And Other Essays by David Foster Wallace (Essays)
Reviewed by Alexis Burling
Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a sick sense of humor? What is John Updike's deal anyway? And who won the Adult Video News' Female Performer of the Year Award the same year Gwyneth Paltrow won her Oscar? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in his new book of entertaining nonfiction.

Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard
Alan Lee, the Oscar-winning conceptual designer for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, discusses his approach to depicting Tolkien's imaginary world. THE LORD OF THE RINGS SKETCHBOOK presents more than 150 of Lee's celebrated illustrations to show how his imagery for both the illustrated LORD OF THE RINGS and the films progressed from concept to finished art.

-Click here to read our interview with Alan Lee.

THE BRONTË PROJECT: A Novel of Passion, Desire, and Good PR by Jennifer Vandever (Fiction)
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
In a more cerebral response to the "Chick Lit" genre, THE BRONTË PROJECT introduces Sara Frost, a young woman who feels more at home in the Victorian era than in the twenty-first century. When her comfortable fiance leaves the country to follow his bliss, Sara must reevaluate her notions of romantic love, professional satisfaction, and personal fulfillment.

FLASHMAN ON THE MARCH by George MacDonald Fraser (Historical Fiction)
Reviewed by Ron Kaplan
Sir Harry Flashman, that mid-19th century rapscallion, is at it again in this new adventure by George MacDonald Fraser. This time he's enmeshed in the Abyssinian Wars in 1868. He bluffs and bungles his way into a winning situation, but not without a boatload of near-tragedies.

PRINCESS OF PARK AVENUE by Daniella Brodsky (Chick Lit)
Reviewed by Amie Taylor
Stuck in a rut and pining after a guy she can never have, hairdresser Lorraine Machuchi makes the leap from her familiar life in Brooklyn to a new career and whirlwind social life in Manhattan where she becomes a princess of Park Avenue!

Click here to read our reviews and features. Blog

December 9th Entry:
Holiday Shopping 101

December 2nd Entry:
Why the Holidaze is a Crazy Time of Year!

November 23rd Entry:
Musing the Miami Book Fair

November 18th Entry:
Books for Boys

November 17th Entry:
My 24 Hours with Joan Didion

October 30th Entry:
Time Time Time...See What's Become of Me....

October 21st Entry:
My Role as a Book Concierge to My Friends
Note: You can read past blogs here as well.
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Read a list of upcoming books here. Browse our author bibliographies by clicking here. Sign up for Author Newsletters here.
Poll: Better Books and a Better You?
Do "Best Of the Year" book lists influence your reading choices?
Not sure
Do you make New Year's resolutions?
Yes, I do
I have not in the past, but I am making a resolution(s) this year.
Not sure
Answer the Poll here.

Question of the Week: Best Book of 2005 --- YOUR pick

What do you think was the best book published in 2005?

Please note: Our question of the week will update on January 6th.

Answer the Question of the Week here.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading -- THREE Prizes!

Tell us what books YOU are reading and loving --- or even those you don't.

This week we have THREE great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of GENTLEMEN AND PLAYERS by Joanne Harris, NAIL BITER: A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery by Sarah Graves and ON THE RUN by Iris Johansen.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on January 6th. 

Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.


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