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January 13, 2006 Newsletter

January 13, 2006

This Week on

Books As News Talks to Richard Hawke, Author of SPEAK OF THE DEVIL

Author Talk: Cecelia Ahern, Author of IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW

Suspense/Thriller Feature --- Spotlight on Steve Berry, Author of THE TEMPLAR LEGACY

Debut Suspense/Thriller Feature: Raymond Khoury, Author of THE LAST TEMPLAR

Our Newest Featured One to Watch Author: Keri Arthur, Author of FULL MOON RISING

THE SPACE BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar


THE FINISHING SCHOOL by Michele Martinez

What's New On Generic Discussion Guides and New Guides

This Week's Reviews and Features Blog

Poll: The Impact of Negative Reviews
Question of the Week: Regarding the Review
Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading -- TWO 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 do you think was the best book published in 2005?
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

Books As News

What a week to be a reader it has been! Thanks to James Frey, books were a news topic and the news buzz was about reading. Imagine that. Wondering what I think about this? Then read my Blog entitled, "My Week in January with James Frey." Here's a line to get you started: "What does it say that a memoir that clearly was moving and emotionally packed required any fiction? Do we readers need 'more' than the truth to make a memoir work?" Piqued your interest? Read the rest of my musings on the topic here. Nothing like a scandal to jumpstart January.
Oprah is announcing her new book on Monday. When we know what it is, we'll share it with you on By the way, for those of you in book clubs, we know that many of you only are comfortable discussing books when there are discussion guides available. While we have close to 1,800 guides on this website, we also have created generic questions for discussion in ten genres with ideas to get your discussion going. Genres include: Biography, Christian Fiction, Classics, Current Events & Politics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, History, Mystery & Thriller, Memoir and Religion & Spirituality. Thanks to Shannon McKenna for writing these for us. Please reach out to share these with your local booksellers and librarians, who I am sure see many of the same requests that we do.
This week we are announcing our first Suspense/Thriller title for 2006 --- Steve Berry's THE TEMPLAR LEGACY, which will be in stores on February 21st. Like Berry's previous books it has action, history and well-written characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it. We have 20 copies to give away to advance readers. Interested in entering to win a copy? Then send your name and your snail mail address to by Friday, January 27th.
I got a lot of mail from readers who asked more about how I knit when I read. Last weekend I was reading and I got to an exciting part and I kept knitting and reading. Finally I looked down. I had added ten new stitches to my twenty stitch wide scarf. Note to all of you: When you hit the exciting part, stop knitting!
I just noticed that today is Friday the 13th. For those of you with paraskevidekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th), take cover! By the way, use that word in a spelling bee with kids sometime.
Many of you have a long weekend coming up. Enjoy. We certainly have a terrific lineup of reading this week. Enjoy!


Carol Fitzgerald (

List of titles reviewed and featured on January 13th.

List of titles reviewed and featured on January 6th.

Click here to read our list of generic discussion guides. Talks to Richard Hawke, Author of SPEAK OF THE DEVIL's Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Team (Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub and Wiley Saichek) interviewed Richard Hawke about his debut work of suspense, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL. Hawke reveals how the novel's plot naturally progressed from a humorous writing exercise and discusses his characters' roots as literary archetypes with contemporary twists. Read on to learn more about Hawke's influences, the ways in which he challenges himself with open-ended storylines, and the future of this very promising series.

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL by Richard Hawke (Suspense)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
On a beautiful morning in New York City, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade comes to an abrupt halt when a spectator opens fire, killing several people apparently at random. As the gunman flees into the park, private investigator Fritz Malone runs after him. What Malone doesn't know is that he is also running into one of the most shocking and treacherous episodes of his life.

Click here to read our interview with Richard Hawke and a review of SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.

Author Talk: Cecelia Ahern, Author of IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW

Inspired by her fascination with children and their imaginary friends, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern has written IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW, her third novel in less than two years. In this interview Ahern explores her recurring themes of self-discovery and self-healing, and underscores the sense of universality she wishes to convey to her audience. She also comes to terms with the "fairy tale" label placed on her books and attempts to pick a "favorite" amongst them.

IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW by Cecelia Ahern (Fiction)
Reviewed by Jennifer McCord
In her third novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern introduces us to two sisters at odds with each other. Elizabeth's life is an organized mess thanks to Saoirse, whose personal problems leave Elizabeth scrambling to pick up the pieces. Saoirse's six-year-old son Luke is quiet and contemplative --- until the arrival of a new friend, Ivan, turns him into an outgoing, lively kid. And Elizabeth's life is about to change in wonderful ways she has only dreamed of.

-Click here to see the Reading Group Guide for IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW.

Click here to read an interview with Cecelia Ahern and a review of IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW.


Suspense/Thriller Feature --- Spotlight on Steve Berry, Author of THE TEMPLAR LEGACY

Our newest featured Suspense/Thriller author is Steve Berry, who has already made a name for himself with such page-turners as THE THIRD SECRET, THE ROMANOV PROPHECY and THE AMBER ROOM. His newest work, THE TEMPLAR LEGACY, comes out February 21st, and is sure to satisfy old fans and lure new readers with it's DA VINCI CODE-esque mix of modern day thrills and ancient religious mysteries.

We have 20 advance copies of THE TEMPLAR LEGACY to share with readers who would like to read the book and comment on it. Interested? Then send your name and mailing address to by Friday, January 27th.

The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power over kings and popes...until the Inquisition, when they were wiped from the face of the earth, their hidden riches lost. But now two forces vying for the treasure have learned that it is not at all what they thought it was --- and its true nature could change the modern world.

Cotton Malone, one-time top operative for the U.S. Justice Department, is enjoying his quiet new life as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen when an unexpected call to action reawakens his hair-trigger instincts --- and plunges him back into the cloak-and-dagger world he thought he'd left behind.

It begins with a violent robbery attempt on Cotton's former supervisor, Stephanie Nelle, who's far from home on a mission that has nothing to do with national security. Armed with vital clues to a series of centuries-old puzzles scattered across Europe, she means to crack a mystery that has tantalized scholars and fortune-hunters through the ages by finding the legendary cache of wealth and forbidden knowledge thought to have been lost forever when the order of the Knights Templar was exterminated in the fourteenth century. But she's not alone. Competing for the historic prize --- and desperate for the crucial information Stephanie possesses --- is Raymond de Roquefort, a shadowy zealot with an army of assassins at his command.

Welcome or not, Cotton seeks to even the odds in the perilous race. But the more he learns about the ancient conspiracy surrounding the Knights Templar, the more he realizes that even more than lives are at stake. At the end of a lethal game of conquest, rife with intrigue, treachery, and craven lust for power, lies a shattering discovery that could rock the civilized world --- and, in the wrong hands, bring it to its knees.

Click here to read more about Steve Berry and THE TEMPLAR LEGACY.


Debut Suspense/Thriller Feature: Raymond Khoury, Author of THE LAST TEMPLAR

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 a new 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.


Our Newest Featured One to Watch Author: Keri Arthur, Author of FULL MOON RISING

Our newest featured One to Watch author is Keri Arthur, whose supernatural novel FULL MOON RISING hits shelves on January 31st. Deliciously sexy and mysterious, with a touch of humor, FULL MOON RISING is a sinfully delicious little bonbon of thrills, chills and romance.

-Click here to see our list of advance copy winners.
-Click here to read an excerpt from FULL MOON RISING.

In this exciting debut, author Keri Arthur explodes onto the supernatural scene with a sexy, sensuous tale of intrigue and suspense set in a world where legends walk and the shady paths of the underworld are far more sinister than anyone envisioned.

A rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, Riley Jenson and her twin brother, Rhoan, work for Melbourne's Directorate of Other Races, an organization created to police the supernatural races-and protect humans from their depredations. While Rhoan is an exalted guardian, a.k.a. assassin, Riley is merely an office worker --- until her brother goes missing on one of his missions. The timing couldn't be worse. More werewolf than vampire, Riley is vulnerable to the moon heat, the weeklong period before the full moon, when her need to mate becomes all-consuming.

She must follow her instincts not only to find her brother but to stop an unholy harvest. For someone is doing some shifty cloning in an attempt to produce the ultimate warrior --- by tapping into the genome of nonhumans like Rhoan. Now Riley knows just how dangerous the world is for her kind --- and just how much it needs her.

Click here to read more about Keri Arthur and FULL MOON RISING.

THE SPACE BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar

THE SPACE BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar (Fiction)
Reviewed by Jennifer Krieger
In this richly textured and engrossing novel, Thrity Umrigar explores the relationship between two women whose connection transcends their place at opposite ends of the social spectrum of modern-day Bombay. Weaving between past and present, Umrigar reveals their shared struggles, their solitary hardships and the secrets that threaten to destroy them both.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE SPACE BETWEEN US.

Click here to read a review of THE SPACE BETWEEN US.







THE BROOKLYN FOLLIES by Paul Auster (Fiction)
Reviewed by Rob Cline
Divorced, and estranged from his only daughter, retired life insurance salesman Nathan Glass seeks only solitude and anonymity when he comes to Brooklyn. But through his long lost nephew, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new set of acquaintances --- not to mention a stray relative or two --- and leads him to a reckoning with his past.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE BROOKLYN FOLLIES.

Click here to read a review of THE BROOKLYN FOLLIES.


THE FINISHING SCHOOL by Michele Martinez

THE FINISHING SCHOOL by Michele Martinez (Suspense)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
In a glittering penthouse high above Park Avenue, two beautiful teenagers, students at an exclusive Manhattan girls' school, lie dead under suspicious circumstances. Michele Martinez, author of the critically acclaimed MOST WANTED, brings back savvy, sexy federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas in a new case that pits her against a very clever, very scary killer.

Click here to read a review of THE FINISHING SCHOOL.


What's New On Generic Discussion Guides and New Guides

While we have hundreds of reading guides available, and we're adding more all the time, it can happen that no guide is available for the book your group has chosen to read. It can be intimidating when it's your turn to lead the discussion and you have no idea where to begin. In order to aid your discussion and enjoyment of your group's choices, we have created a list of questions that can be used for those books with no reading guides.

We've broken these out to cover the following ten genres: Biography, Christian Fiction, Classics, Current Events & Politics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, History, Mystery & Thriller, Memoir, and Religion & Spirituality. Click here to read our lists of questions.

The following guides have just been added to

IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW by Cecelia Ahern
THE LADY OF THE SEA by Rosalind Miles
THE LAST OF HER KIND by Sigrid Nunez
LIGHTING UP by Susan Shapiro
LOVE WALKED IN by Marisa de los Santos
MARY AFTER ALL by Bill Gordon
THE PERFECT PLAY by Louise Wener
PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld
SNOW IN JULY by Heather Barbieri
THE TEMPLE OF MUSIC by Jonathan Lowy
THIS HEAVY SILENCE by Nicole Mazzarella
A THREAD OF GRACE by Mary Doria Russell
THE WHITE ROSE by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Click here to visit


This Week's Reviews and Features

THE ACCIDENTAL by Ali Smith (Fiction)
Reviewed by Alexis Burling
A finalist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize and winner of the Whitbread Award, THE ACCIDENTAL captivates readers with a portrait of a broken down yet blazingly human family before, during and after the strange summer that permanently altered each member and changed their outlook on life (and one another) in mystifying ways.

QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD by Gail Godwin (Fiction)
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
Recent college graduate Emma Gant moves to Miami to begin her first job as a newspaper journalist. It is the summer of 1959 and Emma is soon absorbed into the life of the tropical city, complete with Cuban exiles, new friends, a married lover, and the compelling story of a mob-connected madam.

THE MAKING OF A WRITER: JOURNALS, 1961-1963 by Gail Godwin, edited by Rob Neufeld (Autobiography)
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
To coincide with the release of QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD, well-known author Gail Godwin shares her frank and illuminating diary, enabling readers to watch her incorporate her life experiences into her work as she struggles and perseveres against self-doubt and rejection.

THE TENT by Margaret Atwood (Fiction/Essays)
Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller
In this charming collection of smart and entertaining fictional essays, punctuated with wonderful illustrations by the author, Margaret Atwood gets to stretch her artistic muscles as she creatively comments on a variety of topics, in a variety of ways.

GET A LIFE by Nadine Gordimer (Fiction)
Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol
In her 14th novel, a challenging but rewarding work of fiction, Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer tackles large-scale themes of conservation and survival, death and compromise, through the vehicle of a privileged, white South African family navigating several crises.

CATCH ME WHEN I FALL by Nicci French (Psychological Suspense)
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum
A successful, happily married businesswoman, Holly Krause is loved and admired by everyone she meets. But that's only one side of Holly. The other takes regular walks on the wild side and is making reckless mistakes. When the two sides of Holly's life collide, her world quickly spirals out of control.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS by Jude Deveraux (Fiction)
Reviewed by Hillary Wagy
Eden Palmer's return to the small North Carolina town she escaped as a young girl with a small baby is complicated by memories, secrets, family skeletons, and hidden jewels. Two handsome suitors pursue Eden as she discovers the answer to a Farrington family riddle and millions of dollars worth of Impressionist art in Farrington Manor.

SONG OF THE CUCKOO BIRD by Amulya Malladi (Fiction)
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton
Barely a month after she is promised in marriage, 11-year-old orphan Kokila comes to Tella Meda, an ashram by the Bay of Bengal. Once there, she makes a courageous yet foolish choice that alters the fabric of her life: Instead of becoming a wife and mother, youthful passion drives Kokila to remain at the ashram.

Click here to read our reviews and features. Blog

January 11th Entry:
My Week in January With James Frey

January 6th Entry:
Reading Outside the Comfort Zone

Note: You can read past blogs here as well.
Sign up here to get notified each time this blog is updated.
Click here to read the blog.
Read a list of upcoming books here. Browse our author bibliographies by clicking here. Sign up for Author Newsletters here.
Poll: The Impact of Negative Reviews
Will a negative book review in a newspaper or online site keep you from buying or reading a book?

Yes, unless it's a book by an author that I really want to read.
Yes, negative reviews always are a turnoff to me.
No, negative reviews do not influence me.
I am not sure how I feel.
Do you read customer comments/reviews about books online?
All of the time
Some of the time
Will negative customer comments/reviews keep you from buying or reading a book?
Yes, unless it's a book by an author that I really want to read.
Yes, negative reviews always are a turnoff to me.
No, negative reviews do not influence me.
I am not sure how I feel.
Answer the Poll here.

Question of the Week: Regarding the Review

What book (you can name up to 3) did you buy in spite of reviews that were less than stellar?

Please note: Our question of the week will update on January 20th.

Answer the Question of the Week here.

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

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

This week we have two great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of DEATH DANCE by Linda Fairstein and GOT THE LOOK by James Grippando.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on January 20th. 

Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.


As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online (see the link on the upper right) or change your preferences below.

Those of you who wish to send mail to, please see the form on the Write to Us page.  If you would like to reach me, please write Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by January 31, 2006 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: CELL by Stephen King, DEATH DANCE by Linda Fairstein, GENTLEMEN AND PLAYERS by Joanne Harris, GOT THE LOOK by James Grippando and IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW by Cecelia Ahearn. Last month's winner was Sandi from Guilford, CT, who won THE CONSTANT PRINCESS by Philippa Gregory, NAIL BITER: A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery by Sarah Graves, THE NEW WOMAN: A Staggerford Novel by Jon Hassler, OH WHAT A SLAUGHTER by Larry McMurtry and TURNING ANGEL by Greg Iles.

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