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March 31, 2006 Newsletter

March 31, 2006

This Week on

Spring Reading in New York Talks to Robert Taylor, Author of PARADIGM

New One to Watch Author: Naomi Hirahara, Author of SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN

New Featured One to Watch Author: Kelley Armstrong, Author of BROKEN

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

Spring Has Sprung and Baseball Returns

April and May Books into Movies

New In Paperback for March

This Week's Reviews and Features Blog

Poll: What's YOUR Favorite Thing About
Question of the Week: Other Bookish Websites
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: Who is an author (name up to 3) you will skip dinner to read?
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

Spring Reading in New York

It feels like spring in New York and we love it. Readers, hit your hammocks!

Last weekend I was down in Charlottesville at the Virginia Festival of the Book, which is an event that gets better and better each year. For my report on what I heard and saw, see my blog called Bookish in Virginia. What a wonderful trip this was.

This week I have been reading two books that have grabbed my attention. The first is THE RABBIT FACTORY by Marshall Karp, which will be in stores in May. It's got wry writing and a plot that's pulled me in from the first chapter. Simultaneously I plucked 18 SECONDS by George Shuman from my stack. It's out in April. The protagonist is investigative consultant Sherry Moore. "She's blind and stunningly beautiful, with the extraordinary ability to 'see' the deceased's last eighteen seconds of memory by touching the corpse." I am real fan of the television show "Medium" and I am loving this one. This week I had one book or the other in my hand every free moment.

As much as I love to read books and share topline thoughts about them with you, I know better than to do them justice with a review. We have many talented reviewers who are much better at that than me. This week Shannon McKenna reviews a book that I just loved and told you about a few months ago --- THE BOY WHO FELL OUT OF THE SKY. I fell in love with it all over again reading her review. It's a poignant memoir by Ken Dornstein about his brother who was killed on Pan Am Flight 103. Read her review and see if you are moved to read it.

This week we have Advanced Reader Comments for Debut Suspense/Thriller Author Robert Dugoni, author of THE JURY MASTER. I am telling want to keep your eye on him. Also, we have a terrific interview with Robert Taylor, who wrote a very different kind of thriller, which Joe Hartlaub reviews this week.

We are very excited to be introducing you to our two latest featured One to Watch Authors --- Naomi Hirahara, author of SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, and Kelley Armstrong, author of BROKEN. Naomi Hirahara expertly combines an intimate portrayel of Japanese American community and identity with a sly whodunit, and Kelley Armstrong's spine-tingling BROKEN is a Supernatural Thriller with a decided tilt of the head to the Victorian-era Gothic novel.

Intrigued? We have 10 copies of both titles to give away to readers who would like to read either book and comment on it. Please note that we have two different mailing addresses for this --- for Naomi Hirahara and for Kelley Armstrong.

We can't and we won't forget Hurricane Katrina, and our readers in the affected areas --- many are still suffering. Hurricane Katrina floodwaters damaged all the New Orleans Public Library's 13 buildings and destroyed eight. Total damage has been estimated at as high as $30 million. Five libraries are open now. The New Orleans Public Library is still accepting donations of hardcovers and paperbacks for people of all ages. Library staff will decide which books should go into its collection; the rest will go to destitute families or be sold to raise funds for the library.

The FAQ posted on the NOPL web page addresses the issue of book donations, and lists email addresses to New Orleans Public Library staff who are handling donated materials. Through the link, you can contact the appropriate staff member directly and they will give you the details and guidelines for donating.

The clocks change this weekend, which means we all have one less hour for reading. Thus....speed reading is in order. Have a great weekend. Enjoy the extra evening daylight and have fun if you are watching the Final Four.

Carol Fitzgerald (

List of titles reviewed and featured on March 31st.

List of titles reviewed and featured on March 24th.


Click here to read more about donating to the New Orleans Public Library. Talks to Robert Taylor, Author of PARADIGM

Nobel Prize-nominated research scientist and businessman Robert D. Taylor is trying his hand at fiction with his debut novel, PARADIGM. In this interview with's Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Team (Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub and Wiley Saichek), Taylor discusses his theories on gravity and how it may affect the stock market, and compares and contrasts creative and scientific writing. He also explains how he structured the book by entwining his scientific research, historical data and fiction with real life experiences, and drops hints about both his next theory and follow-up novel. 

PARADIGM by Robert D. Taylor (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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.

Click here to read our interview with Robert Taylor and a review of PARADIGM.


New One to Watch Author: Naomi Hirahara, Author of SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN

We are very excited to be featuring Naomi Hirahara as one of our two newest featured One to Watch Authors. In her newest book, SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, which comes out April 25th, she showcases her unique blend of wit and suspense.

We have 10 advance copies 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, April 7th.

From SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI to GASA-GASA GIRL, Naomi Hirahara's acclaimed novels have featured one of mystery fiction's most unique heroes: Mas Arai, a curmudgeonly L.A. gardener, Hiroshima survivor, and inveterate gambler.

Few things get Mas more excited than gambling, so when he hears about a $500,000 win --- from a novelty slot machine! --- he's torn between admiration and derision. But the stakes are quickly raised when the winner, a friend of Mas's pal G. I. Hasuike, is found stabbed to death just days later. The last thing Mas wants to do is stick his nose in someone else's business, but at G.I.'s prodding he reluctantly agrees to follow the trail of a battered snakeskin shamisen (a traditional Okinawan musical instrument) left at the scene of the crime...and suddenly finds himself caught up in a dark mystery that reaches from the islands of Okinawa to the streets of L.A. --- a world of heartbreaking memories, deception, and murder.

Click here to read more about Naomi Hirahara and SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN.


New Featured One to Watch Author: Kelley Armstrong, Author of BROKEN

Our second featured One to Watch author is Kelley Armstrong, whose newest supernatural thriller is BROKEN --- a chilling tale of vampires, zombies and things that go bump in the night.

We have 10 advance copies 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, April 7th.
(Please note the change of address as we have two One to Watch features commencing simultaneously)
More about BROKEN:
In this thrilling new novel from the author of INDUSTRIAL MAGIC, a pregnant werewolf may have unwittingly unleashed Jack the Ripper on twenty-first-century-and become his next target.

Ever since she discovered she's pregnant, Elena Michaels has been on edge. After all, she's never heard of another living female werewolf, let alone one who's given birth. But thankfully, her expertise is needed to retrieve a stolen letter allegedly written by Jack the Ripper. As a distraction, the job seems simple enough-only the letter contains a portal to Victorian London's underworld, which Elena inadvertently triggers-unleashing a vicious killer and a pair of zombie thugs.

Now Elena must find a way to seal the portal before the unwelcome visitors get what they're looking for --- which, for some unknown reason, is Elena.

Click here to read more about Kelley Armstrong and BROKEN.


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.

-Click here to read a new excerpt from DATING IS MURDER.
-Click here to see our Advance Copy Winners.
-Click here to see Harley Jane Kozak's backlist.
-Click here to read Fast Facts about Harley Jane Kozak.
-Click here to read Critical Praise for DATING IS MURDER.

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.

-Click here to read an excerpt from LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG.
-Click here to see our Advance Copy Winners.
-Click here to read Critical Praise for LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG.
-Click here to read Fast Facts about Laurie Graff.
-Click here to read Laurie Graff's backlist.

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 a new excerpt from SHIVER.
-Click here to see 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.

Spring Has Sprung and Baseball Returns

Following their first World Series Championship in almost 90 years, more than a dozen titles acknowledging the Boston Red Sox's accomplishment hit the shelves. Now that the novelty has finally worn off, the genre can get back to normal, with its usual assortment of heroes, villains and eclectic themes.'s Ron Kaplan takes a look at some of these titles just in time for the start of the 2006 Major League Baseball season.

Click here to read our Baseball roundup.


April and May Books into Movies

The countdown to the May 19th release of The Da Vinci Code has officially begun. Luckily for all you book-loving cinephiles out there, April and May promise some intriguing and exciting movies based on books --- they may be just enough to keep the anticipation at bay.

Thriller fans will find both The Sentinel and Poseidon to be excellent distractions, while those who can't resist being chilled to the bone will be satisfyingly scared by An American Haunting. Independent movie-lovers will be entranced by Art School Confidential and tickled by the mischievous and offbeat Killer Diller. And if you have a kid in the house, then the May 5th release of the movie version of Carl Hiaasen's HOOT may be even more anticipated than The Da Vinci Code.

At, we know that on May 19th any self-respecting Books Into Movies aficionado will be lining up early in the morning (unless, of course, you pre-ordered your tickets the night before) to see Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen and Alfred Molina in the intensely anticipated film version of Dan Brown's bestselling novel. Keep checking our Books Into Movies section, as we'll be featuring a DA VINCI CODE roundup as the release date draws closer and a place where you can send Jen Krieger, our resident movie expert, your thoughts and reactions to the film.

Click here to read our Books Into Movies feature.


New In Paperback for March

At long last, the paperback version of THE DA VINCI CODE has been released in the United States. Since its publication in 2003, Dan Brown's controversial thriller has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and still sits on the New York Times bestseller list. In addition, the illustrated version of the novel is now available in paperback.

Other notable fiction titles appearing in March's New in Paperback roundup include COMPANY MAN, Joseph Finder's sixth work of fiction, in which the CEO of a major corporation takes matters into his own hands after a stalker menaces his family; NO PLACE LIKE HOME by Mary Higgins Clark, whose protagonist is a young woman returning to a place she had hoped to leave behind forever; and THE MERMAID CHAIR, Sue Monk Kidd's follow-up to her phenomenal debut, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES.

Among our nonfiction offerings are PLAN B: Further Thoughts on Faith, the eagerly-awaited sequel to Anne Lamott's TRAVELING MERCIES; DISNEYWAR, in which Pulitzer Prize-winning author James B. Stewart takes readers inside the epic battle of control of the world's leading entertainment company; and four baseball-related titles that tie in perfectly to the beginning of the Major League season.

Click here to read our New in Paperback feature.


This Week's Reviews and Features

GONE by Jonathan Kellerman (Psychological Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
When two young lovers and fellow acting students disappear and then reappear in dramatic fashion, they tell a harrowing story of abduction that ultimately turns out to be a hoax. Some months later, one of them is found brutally murdered while the other goes missing. Psychologist Alex Delaware and homicide cop Milo Sturgis discover that the murder and disappearance are merely the tip of a very quiet yet deadly iceberg that may well have claimed more than one victim.

-Click here to read an excerpt from GONE.

FALSE IMPRESSION by Jeffrey Archer (Thriller)
Reviewed by Maggie Harding
When an aristocratic old lady is brutally murdered in her English country home on the night before September 11, 2001, it will take all the resources of the FBI and Interpol to work out the connection between her death and a priceless Van Gogh, which is stolen that night. But in the end, it is a courageous young woman who has the foresight and determination to take on both sides of the law and avenge the old lady's death.

-Click here to read an excerpt from FALSE IMPRESSION.

THE BOY WHO FELL OUT OF THE SKY: A True Story by Ken Dornstein (Memoir)
Reviewed by Shannon McKenna
In this stunning, emotionally charged memoir, Ken Dornstein interweaves the moving story of his own coming-of-age with the promise of greatness his brother never lived to fulfill. THE BOY WHO FELL OUT OF THE SKY is a heartbreaking but profoundly hopeful book about finding beauty in the midst of tragedy and making sense of it.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE BOY WHO FELL OUT OF THE SKY.

OUR TOWN: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America by Cynthia Carr (History)
Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott
The brutal lynching of two young black men in Marion, Indiana, on August 7, 1930, cast a shadow over the town that still lingers. In this sweeping narrative, journalist Cynthia Carr explores the issues of race, loyalty, and memory in America through the lens of a specific hate crime that occurred in Marion but could have happened anywhere.

SEDUCING THE DEMON: Writing for My Life by Erica Jong (Memoir)
Reviewed by Alexis Burling
Peppered with juicy remembrances of times past and written in her signature bawdry style, Erica Jong's no-holds-barred memoir offers an up-close-and-personal look into the life and words of this legendary literary demoness. 

TIMOTHY; OR, NOTES OF AN ABJECT REPTILE by Verlyn Klinkenborg (Fiction)
Reviewed by Roz Shea
This is the story of a tortoise whose real life was observed by the eighteenth-century English curate Gilbert White. For 13 years, Timothy lived in White's garden, and now, thanks to Verlyn Klinkenborg, Timothy regales us with an account of a gracefully paced eight-day adventure outside the gate and entertains us with shrewd observations about the curious habits and habitations of humanity.

THE RUG MERCHANT by Meg Mullins (Fiction)
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton
An extraordinary debut novel that centers on an unlikely romance between an Iranian immigrant and an American college student, THE RUG MERCHANT is an inspiring, character-rich tale about shaking free from disappointment and finding connection and acceptance in whatever form they appear.

SECOND HONEYMOON by Joanna Trollope (Fiction)
Reviewed by Kathy Weissman
Joanna Trollope's metier is what you might call the English family novel --- a skillfully knit mix of cozy and tough, old-fashioned virtues and modern problems. Her newest, SECOND HONEYMOON, is not an earthshaking work, but in its own quiet way it touches us where we live.

THE BOOSTER by Jennifer Solow (Fiction)
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
Desperate to fill a hole in her heart, Jillian Siegel fills her pockets --- and her pocketbook --- with stolen merchandise. In THE BOOSTER, Jennifer Solow presents a compelling character study of a young woman whose fragility hides her real talents.

GOOD DAY IN HELL by J. D. Rhoades (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Bail enforcement officer Jack Keller is doing a skip trace on a good girl gone bad who is wanted on a parole violation. Keller's girlfriend, Deputy Sheriff Marie Jones, is simultaneously investigating the robbery of a gas station and the murder of its proprietor, as well as the apparent abduction of the proprietor's son. Their respective assignments are about to intertwine into what is only the beginning of an explosive, angry and senseless rampage.

SAVAGE MESSIAH: The Destinies of Blood and Stone, Book 1 by Robert Newcomb (Fantasy)
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard
Robert Newcomb scored a successful trilogy with The Chronicles of Blood and Stone. Now he returns to the land of Eutracia with SAVAGE MESSIAH, the first in a new trilogy that picks up where the previous series left off, both in terms of story and enjoyment.

THE SCOTLAND SERIES (History/Reference/Travel)
Reviewed by Elinor Nuxoll
For historians and scholars, for travelers or anyone who wants to learn about the history of Scotland, three stunning volumes --- THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCOTLAND and THE EDINBURGH VISITOR GUIDE --- tell the fascinating story in detail.

Click here to read our reviews and features. Blog

Bookish in Virginia

March 24th Entry:
Thrilling Ride

March 10th Entry:
Spring Break - In Reading Style

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: What's YOUR Favorite Thing About
What are your favorite features of (Check as many as apply.)
Featured Author Spotlights (Suspense/Thriller, Mystery Mayhem, Debut Suspense/Thriller, One to Watch, Romantic Suspense and Chick Lit)
" Talks To" --- Exclusive Author Interviews
New in Paperback
Carol's Blog
Books into Movies
Coming Soon
Author Bibliographies
Sports Books Roundups
Holiday-themed Roundups
Holiday/Event-based Contests (Examples --- Beach Bag Summer Promotion, Valentine's Day, Oscar Basket and Holiday Cheer)
Poll and Question
Word of Mouth
None of the above.

What other websites in The Book Report Network do you visit?
I only visit
I did not know there were other websites in the Network
Answer the Poll here.

Question of the Week: Other Bookish Websites

Do you visit other websites devoted to books and authors? If so, which are some of your favorites?

Please note: Our question of the week will update on April 14th.

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 SAVANNAH BREEZE by Mary Kay Andrews and TWO LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE by Mary Higgins Clark.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on April 14th.


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.

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