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March 17, 2006 Newsletter

March 17, 2006

This Week on

Interim Places and A Stuffed Animal and A Pet to Love -- And Learn From

THE SKIN GODS by Richard Montanari

A YEAR IN THE WORLD: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller, by Frances Mayes

Our Newest Featured Mystery Mayhem Author --- Harley Jane Kozak, Author of DATING IS MURDER

Chick Lit Author Feature --- Spotlight on Laurie Graff and LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG

Our First Featured Romantic Suspense Author --- Lisa Jackson, Author of SHIVER

Our Newest Debut Suspense/Thriller Author --- Robert Taylor, Author of PARADIGM

Featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author --- Robert Dugoni, Author of THE JURY MASTER

What's On Now --- Contests, New Guides and More!

What's New on

This Week's Reviews and Features Blog

Poll: Books to Anticipate
Question of the Week: Authors Who Fill You Up
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's your favorite author website? What do you like on it?
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

Interim Places and A Stuffed Animal and A Pet to Love -- And Learn From

Last Saturday the weather here was glorious. I had my older son help me haul the hammock outside so I could pretend either that it was summer or that I was still in Florida. I looked through my stack of books and plucked out THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD by Kevin Brockmeier to read while I swung.

Here's the premise of the book. When people die, they do not go to "the next place," but rather to an interim place where they are "living dead." When the last person who knew this person on Earth dies, they move on to their permanent next place home. Interesting concept. Now think about the number of people who one person may come in contact with --- and would thus be able to survive in the interim place by knowing. In a parallel story in this book, a woman named Laura is fighting for her life at an Antarctica outpost and in the balance are a number of people who are "waiting to move on." Their destiny lies with Laura. This book will have you thinking for a long time! I look forward to meeting Brockmeier next weekend at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville.

Sunday night I wanted to read something as a total escape. I found a book that we recently wrote about on called THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE by Kate DiCamillo. I had seen Kate present last year at a dinner and I thought she was just terrific. This book about a toy rabbit who is loved and lost and found again is just precious. While I was looking for an escape I found a book with a lot of hidden meaning.

Speaking of books about animals, a few weeks ago I read THE GOOD GOOD PIG by Sy Montgomery. Montgomery lives in a remote town in Vermont, and confesses that she has always been more of a loner than a people person. Then she adopts a runt pig, named Christopher Hogwood. Through her life with him, he becomes far more than a pet, and teaches her more about life than she thought she could know. She learns to be part of a community of people that Hogwood gathers around him --- and much much more. It will be out in May and we will be spotlighting it.

Many of you have written to tell me how much you enjoyed Stephen White's book, KILL ME. This week we have Stephen's replies to our advance reader questions. We enjoyed reading them --- and think you will too.

Richard Montanari's book, THE SKIN GODS, hit stores this week. I dare you to finish reading it and not want to head to your local video store. Read our review to see why. I had drinks with him a few years ago and his knowledge of films, especially noir ones, impressed me. He has watched two to three a night on occasion while he was working on this book. We'll have an interview with Montanari next week.

In my blog last week I misnamed the mystery bookstore that I visited in Delray Beach that is so popular with mystery authors. It's called Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore. Note to stop by if you ever are in the area! Also note that I am notorious with names. Three staffers check up on me before we send this newsletter each week just to see what I invented! These are part of lore.

Thursday I am off to Charlottesville. If any of you plan to be at the Virginia Festival of the Book, please drop me a note. For those of you making future plans, I am pondering a trip to L.A. the last weekend of April to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, known to many of us simply as the L.A. Book Fair.

Happy St. Patrick's Day. We have corned beef and cabbage on the menu for dinner with Irish soda bread here tonight. A reader wrote last year that lamb stew was a far better idea. Anyone with a recipe, send it my way!

Have a good something Irish tonight.

Carol Fitzgerald (

List of titles reviewed and featured on March 17th.

List of titles reviewed and featured on March 10th.

Click here to read Stephen White's answers to readers' questions.

THE SKIN GODS by Richard Montanari

THE SKIN GODS by Richard Montanari (Suspense)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Back on the force after taking a bullet during the arrest of a sadistic murderer, Detective Kevin Byrne warily returns to police headquarters. He cannot shake the memory of the Rosary Killer's innocent victims --- or his growing sense that the evil has not been vanquished. When he and his partner, Detective Jessica Balzano, are called in on a bizarre case, Byrne's gravest suspicions are confirmed.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE SKIN GODS.

Click here to read a review of THE SKIN GODS.


A YEAR IN THE WORLD: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller, by Frances Mayes

A YEAR IN THE WORLD: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller by Frances Mayes (Travel/Essays)
Reviewed by Carole Turner
Five years dedicated almost exclusively to travel are compressed into this very interesting personal narrative by the author who made Tuscany famous a decade ago with her bestseller UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. Stow away in Frances and Ed's carry-on luggage for a remarkable journey minus disorienting jet lag or the bonus of frequent-flyer miles.

-Click here to read an excerpt from A YEAR IN THE WORLD.

Click here to read a review of A YEAR IN THE WORLD.


Our Newest Featured Mystery Mayhem Author --- Harley Jane Kozak, Author of DATING IS MURDER

Harley Jane Kozak is our newest featured Mystery Mayhem author. Her smart and funny novel DATING IS MURDER is coming out in paperback and we're excited to be spreading the word about this witty and suspenseful tale.

We have 20 copies of DATING IS MURDER 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, March 24th.

Wollie Shelley, the plucky amateur sleuth Kirkus Reviews called "funny, brave, smart, and altogether the fetchingest crime heroine since the early Stephanie Plum," returns to face suspect lovers and unlovable suspects in this hilarious sequel to DATING DEAD MEN.

Wollie Shelley is a greeting card artist struggling to keep afloat financially and to pursue --- despite a series of recent disasters --- the search for the love of her life. She reluctantly agrees to be a contestant on the reality television show Biological Clock. The show's premise: Six eligible singles date each other, and the audience votes on which couple would make the best parents. Alas, Wollie isn't having much luck finding a man she'd like to date "off the air," much less father her child. As her own biological clock ticks away, Wollie gets caught up in a much more pressing demand on her time. Her friend Annika has vanished into thin air, and Wollie is convinced that she's in grave danger.

Click here to read more about Harley Jane Kozak and DATING IS MURDER.


Chick Lit Author Feature --- Spotlight on Laurie Graff and LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG

Our newest featured Chick Lit author is Laurie Graff, whose book LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG comes out on April 1st and is a fun twist on the old story about a princess and a frog.

We have 20 Advance Copies of LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG 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, March 24th.

A Fact About Frogging:

With new species discovered every day, it's hard to find a rule to catch a good frog, except to say that when it comes to frogs there are no rules at all.

Karrie Kline had kissed her share of frogs. But when it came to finding her prince, her pond was dry. With disappointments ranging from a Colorado-bound Casanova to a lascivious lawyer she meets online, Karrie's frustration climbs so high, even dreams of meeting her match on her own reality show become a nightmare. But she still has her tales.

An enterprising actress, Karrie turns her dating stories into a successful one-woman show. Has her quest to put her bad-date karma to good use turned her into a dating pariah? Her old frogs are hopping out of the woodwork. But offstage, Karrie journeys back to the beginning to figure out how she got here. From finding her very first tadpole on up to her biggest horniest toad, Karrie comes away with an even stronger sense of herself and relationships, passing on a prince for her own good frog.

Click here to read more about Laurie Graff and LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG.


Our First Featured Romantic Suspense Author --- Lisa Jackson, Author of SHIVER

To launch our Romantic Suspense Author Spotlight we are featuring Lisa Jackson, author of SHIVER. In each of her gripping bestsellers, Lisa Jackson has brought readers to the edge of their seats and proven herself a master of romantic suspense. Now the New York Times bestselling author delivers SHIVER --- her most powerful novel yet.

-Click here to read an excerpt from SHIVER.
-Click here to read our Advance Copy Winners.

More about SHIVER:
Detective Reuben "Diego" Montoya is back in New Orleans where a serial killer is turning The Big Easy into his personal playground. The victims are killed in pairs -- no connection, no apparent motive, no real clues. Somebody's playing a sick game, and Montoya intends to beat him at it.

His only lead is the ex-wife of one of the victims, Abby Chastain,a woman haunted by painful secrets. Twenty years ago she watched in horror as her mother, a patient at the Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, plunged through a window to her death. Abby has always dreaded that she too would one day go insane...especially now, back in this town, where she's begun to feel watched, as if the devil himself is scraping a fingernail along her spine.

As more bodies are found in gruesome, staged scenarios Montoya's in a desperate race to find a killer whose crimes are getting more terrifying, and closer all the time. Plunging deep into a nightmare investigation will uncover a shocking revelation -- a deadly connection between Abby and Montoya and an asylum where unspeakable crimes were committed, evil once roamed free, and a human predator may still wait.

Click here to read more about Lisa Jackson and SHIVER.

Our Newest Debut Suspense/Thriller Author --- Robert Taylor, Author of PARADIGM

Robert Taylor, whose intelligent and wickedly well-written thriller PARADIGM came out March 13th, is our newest featured Debut Suspense/Thriller author. 

-Click here to read a new excerpt from PARADIGM.
-Click here to see our list of Advance Copy Winners.
-Click here to see a list of Robert Taylor's Bookstore Appearances.

More about PARADIGM:
What is tomorrow's Wall Street Journal worth to you today? Where is the line between reality and fiction? Are the financial markets really predictable? Does an ancient artifact hold the key to how some of the world's wealthiest families made their fortunes?

When a mysterious granite and cypress Egyptian box is found hidden away in a secret room in the palatial Biltmore Estate, twin scientists Alex and Nicholas Shepard work to unlock the secret of its intricate dials, gauges, crystals, and carvings. What they discover has the potential to make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. But it could also collapse financial markets, bankrupt corporations around the globe, and destroy many of the world's most powerful families. As the twins quickly find out, people will not only kill to make money, but will kill to keep it.

Click here to read more about Robert Taylor and PARADIGM.

Featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author --- Robert Dugoni, Author of THE JURY MASTER






Debut Suspense/Thriller author Robert Dugoni has written a legal thriller with a soul in THE JURY MASTER, which is on sale March 21st. It has high praise from both Nelson DeMille and Stephen White.

-Click here to read a new excerpt from THE JURY MASTER.
-Click here to see the winners of our Advance Reader Copies.

In a courtroom, David Sloane can grab a jury and make it dance. He can read jurors' expressions, feel their emotions, know their thoughts. With this remarkable ability, Sloane gets juries to believe the unbelievable, excuse the inexcusable, and return the most astonishing verdicts. The only barrier to Sloane's professional success is his conscience -- until he gets a call from a man later found dead, and his life rockets out of control.

THE JURY MASTER hurtles through one hairpin turn and into another. Sloane fights for his life, he gets closer and closer to an explosive truth: about who he is, how little he knows, and who is the master of his fate...

Click here to read more about Robert Dugoni and THE JURY MASTER.


What's On Now --- Contests, New Guides and More!

We have two very special contests currently running on --- one for THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN by Mitch Albom, featuring a special DVD giveaway, and one for THE MERMAID CHAIR by Sue Monk Kidd. We also have the following guides now available on

BEAUTIFUL INEZ by Bart Schneider
A BRIEF LUNACY by Cynthia Thayer
EATING HEAVEN by Jennie Shortridge
FREAKONOMICS by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
THE GOOD SON by Craig Nova
THE ILLUMINATOR by Brenda Rickman Vantrease
INTUITION by Allegra Goodman
KILL ME by Stephen White
THE LAST BOLEYN by Karen Harper
LOVE STORY by Erich Segal
METROPOLIS by Elizabeth Gaffney
MONEY, A MEMOIR by Liz Perle
MY JIM by Nancy Rawles
RIVER RISING by Athol Dickson
SEND ME by Patrick Ryan
SNOBS by Julian Fellowes
THE SPACE BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar
WHITE GHOST GIRLS by Alice Greenway

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

THE BAKER'S APPRENTICE by Judith R. Hendricks
A CHANGED MAN by Francine Prose 
MARCH by Geraldine Brooks
ME & EMMA by Elizabeth Flock 
OH MY STARS by Lorna Landvik
THE PAINTED KISS by Elizabeth Hickey

Click here to visit 


What's New on

People say that teens don't read, but we do not agree. And we have proof. Just this month more than 150 teens wrote us to have what they are reading added to the Word of Mouth feature! Have a teen in your house who loves to read? Send them to

Now is better than ever! This month we launched a Coming Soon feature and our review section now includes Manga, Christian Fiction, and titles that are perfect for teens. We also have information about the Claudia Ann Seaman Poetry Contest, Cool New Books, and updates on series favorites.

Click here to visit


This Week's Reviews and Features

DIRTY BLONDE by Lisa Scottoline (Legal Thriller)
Reviewed by Kate Ayers
A high-profile case in Cate Fante's courtroom explodes into a shocking murder-suicide, and the young judge's dark double life is exposed. Having been dumped by her boyfriend and her new career hanging in tatters, she finds herself running for her life and wondering how to outwit a veteran Philadelphia cop gone bad.

-Click here to read an excerpt from DIRTY BLONDE.

A PIECE OF CAKE by Cupcake Brown (Memoir)
Reviewed by Alexis Burling
In her relentlessly crushing yet ultimately uplifting memoir, Cupcake Brown relays the down-and-dirty details of her disaster-prone life with such vigor and frankness that readers will be shocked to realize that she actually made it far enough to work through her problems without giving in to the weight of them.

-Click here to read an interview with Cupcake Brown.

NIGHTLIFE by Thomas Perry (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
By turns horrifying and erotic, Thomas Perry's new thriller takes readers on a dangerous cat-and-mouse game that pits two women against each other: a beautiful serial killer and the detective who is determined to stop her.

SOUR PUSS by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown (Mystery)
Reviewed by Amie Taylor
Love is in the air as spring comes to Crozet, Virginia, but no sooner has Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen remarried than she is rudely interrupted --- by murder. Rita Mae Brown and beloved kitty Sneaky Pie Brown are together again as they collaborate to bring readers the 13th adventure in the renowned Mrs. Murphy mystery series.

ABIDE WITH ME by Elizabeth Strout (Fiction)
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
In West Annett, Maine, widower Reverend Tyler Caskey guards the townspeople's secrets as dearly as he shelters his own. Despite his faith, his life is disintegrating around him, bit by bit, abetted by his own congregation. All is lost. Is there any hope for redemption?

THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER by Katharine McMahon (Historical Fiction)
Reviewed by Pauline Finch
The unlikely premise of an English female scientist during the early 1700s sets the scene for Katharine McMahon's magnificent fifth novel, which takes a number of unexpected turns and leaves a memorable impression. This literary alchemy really does turn to gold.

FRANGIPANI by Celestine Vaite (Fiction)
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton
Materena Mahi starts her new job as a professional cleaner at the same time she becomes the mother of her beautiful baby girl. Leilani is a challenge almost from the start. Soon enough, mother and daughter are engaged in a tug-of-war that tests the bonds of their mutual love.

SOME LIKE IT HAUTE by Julie K.L. Dam (Fiction)
Reviewed by Hillary Wagy
Newcomer Julie K.L. Dam sits the reader in a coveted seat in the front row of Paris's runways and Haute Couture shows, letting us lead the life we lust for through Alex Simon's private access. Addicted to shoes and sample sales of couture clothing, Alex gets her story --- and her man --- in the fashion and romance capital of the world.

Click here to read our reviews and features. Blog

March 10th Entry:
Spring Break - In Reading Style

February 24th Entry:
Serious Expectations

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: Books to Anticipate
Which of the following highly anticipated March releases are you reading, or planning to read?

Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout
Dark Assassin by Anne Perry
Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline
The Fallen by T. Jefferson Parker
False Impression by Jeffrey Archer
Gone: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
Kill Me by Stephen White
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
Nightlife by Thomas Perry
Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag
The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters
A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller by Frances Mayes
None of the above
Answer the Poll here.

Question of the Week: Authors Who Fill You Up

Who is an author (name up to 3) you will skip dinner to read?

Please note: Our question of the week will update on March 31st.

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 PRIOR BAD ACTS by Tami Hoag and TOMB OF THE GOLDEN BIRD by Elizabeth Peters.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on March 31st. 

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 March 31st, 2006 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: CIRCLE OF QUILTERS by Jennifer Chiaverini, DARK ASSASSIN by Anne Perry, FALSE IMPRESSION by Jeffrey Archer, GONE by Jonathan Kellerman and THE TENTH CIRCLE by Jodi Picoult. Last month's winner was Sue from Council Bluffs, Iowa who won THE 5TH HORSEMAN by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD by Kevin Brockmeier, THE GOOD LIFE by Jay McInerney, MAGIC HOUR by Kristin Hannah and THE OLD WINE SHADES: A Richard Jury Mystery by Martha Grimes.

Happy reading! Don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend or to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

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