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April 14, 2006 Newsletter

April 14, 2006

This Week on

Spring Break- North Carolina-Style Talks to Harley Jane Kozak, Author of DATING IS MURDER Talks to Laurie Graff, Author of LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author --- Lee Child, Author of THE HARD WAY

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

Mary Kay Andrews SAVANNAH BREEZE Basket Contest

THE LAST CATO by Matilde Asensi

Fandorin Mystery Series Contest --- Win a Trip For Two To Russia!

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

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

This Week's Reviews and Features Blog

Poll: Books On Your Radar
Question of the Week: The Book You're Recommending
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: Do you visit other websites devoted to books and authors? If so, which are some of your favorites?
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 Break- North Carolina-Style


I am writing this afternoon from the deck at the house we are renting on the Outer Banks. It's been a wonderful week weather-wise, thus I have the "laptop on the deck" scenario completely under control. I love Wi-Fi when it works seamlessly like this. I have tap tap tapped out notes from the deck, the patio and the "tiki bar." I kid you not. This house has a tiki bar. Our house is on the 18th fairway. I have become the spotter for many an errant ball these past days. I hear clink on the rocks and know shortly a golfer will find his way through the trees and I will point to where the ball is. It's my version of vacation multi-tasking.
Good reading this week. I started off finishing Mary Higgins Clark's TWO LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE, which was a fun "Mary read." From there I read WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen, which will be in stores on May 26th. Buzz about this one started when Mitch Kaplan from Books & Books told me about it in Coral Gables. Then I saw Mark Nichols from Booksense and he told me Indy booksellers are just loving this one. Well, add me to the list of people saying, this is one you do not want to miss. Jacob Jankowski, who narrates the story, is 93 years old and in a nursing home. His memories are of the circus, which he traveled with in his younger days during the Depression and the love of his life who he met there. The writing is wonderful; the story is beautiful and the sense of history is really strong. I have to say that I have no interest in circuses, but loved reading about them in this book.
Next up was Lee Child's THE HARD WAY, which was perfectly timed, as Child is our latest Suspense/Thriller Author. I never have read a Lee Child book before, though I know Lee from various mystery/suspense/thriller conferences that we have both attended and I know of his character, Jack Reacher, the guy who swoops in, solves the crime and walks away. THE HARD WAY will be in stores on May 16th. We have 20 advance reader copies to give away. Interested? Then send your name and your mailing address to by Friday, April 28th.
I am just wild about a book called THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS by John Boyne. It is not coming out until September, but it's a book I am taking a huge stand on now. As the back jacket of the galley says, "It's a difficult book to describe." Let's just say it's a look at the Holocaust from a child's eyes. Those who loved ANNE FRANK: The Diary of a Young Girl will love it. Trust that it will be a book you'll want to read and share once you are done with it. My older son closed it and said, "That is so good that I am not even sure how to talk about it." My younger son is reading it now and watching his face I see he feels the same way.
Yesterday we drove down to Manteo, a part of the Banks that we had not explored. We went to the Manteo Booksellers where we met Steve Brumfield, who manages the store. He had just finished reading THE GOLDEN SPRUCE: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant and was looking forward to sharing it with readers. As we talked, my sons and my husband pulled together a nice-sized pile of books to buy, including ANNE FRANK: The Diary of a Young Girl.
This afternoon we went to a used book sale sponsored by the Currituck County Library. My son came home with two boxes of books. Just what we needed!
Tonight I am having dinner with Jamie Layton, who is one of the managers of Duck's Cottage in Duck, one of my favorite bookstores. I am making Beef Tenderloin from the Silver Palette Cookbook, which of course I forgot, so I swung by the store the other day and found a copy to get the cooking time and temperature. Jamie also teaches water aerobics down here, and I took her class three times this week. She weaves bookish chatter into her routine. Her book club at the store is reading THE LAST BOLEYN, and from her conversation about it we all wanted to pick up a copy.
Okay, that was my week. Lots to share with you on the site as well. SAVANNAH BREEZE by Mary Kay Andrews hit stores this week and she is celebrating with a contest! See details below. And plan to pick up a copy --- hint Mother's Day gift.
Heard fabulous news that Robert Dugoni's THE JURY MASTER hit the New York Times extended list, which is just great since he's a debut author. My husband was up til 1:30 AM three nights reading this one. We also have advance reader comments on Robert Taylor's PARADIGM, as well as his answers to reader questions.
I am off to spot for a golfer before I make dinner. Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all of those celebrating. Instead of making the boys baskets this year, we have a huge basket of candy here at the house that we have been plowing through this week. Pass the peanut M&Ms.

Carol Fitzgerald (

List of titles reviewed and featured on April 14th.

List of titles reviewed and featured on April 7th.


Click here to read Robert Taylor's Advance Reader Comments. Talks to Harley Jane Kozak, Author of DATING IS MURDER

Harley Jane Kozak --- perhaps best known for her acting roles in films such as Arachnophobia, Necessary Roughness, Parenthood and All I Want for Christmas --- is the author of the award-winning comic mystery DATING DEAD MEN and its acclaimed sequel, DATING IS MURDER.'s Carol Fitzgerald and contributing writer Andi Shechter interviewed Kozak about the initial inspiration behind her protagonist, Wollie Shelley, and the ways in which her background as an actor has aided her writing. She also discusses the blog she has with three other authors and shares details concerning Wollie's next adventure. 

DATING IS MURDER by Harley Jane Kozak (Mystery)
Reviewed by Andi Shechter
Wollie Shelley believes that her friend, who has vanished into thin air, is in grave danger. But when she reports the disappearance to the Los Angeles Police Department, the detective assigned to the case seems more interested in dating Wollie than in finding her friend. So she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Click here to read our interview with Harley Jane Kozak and a review of DATING IS MURDER. Talks to Laurie Graff, Author of LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG

Laurie Graff captured the lighter side of bad dates in her acclaimed Chick Lit novel, YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS. She recently spoke with's Jennifer Krieger about her newly released sequel, LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG, and describes how she drew experiences from her rocky love life --- along with those of her friends --- to write this book. She also ponders the influence of fairy tales on young girls, as well as the status of women in today's society.

LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG by Laurie Graff (Chick Lit)
Reviewed by Jennifer Krieger
In Laurie Graff's amusing and incisive sequel to YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS, sweet and slightly cynical actress Karrie Kline is still wading through the bog that is the New York dating world, looking for a frog whose spots match hers. After kissing far too many duds, Karrie decides to turn her woes into a one-woman show, with unexpected results.

Click here to read our interview with Laurie Graff and a review of LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG.


New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author --- Lee Child, Author of THE HARD WAY

Lee Child is our newest featured Suspense/Thriller author. He's already a household name among thriller lovers, and with such page-turners as ONE SHOT, THE ENEMY and PERSUADER, Child has established himself at the forefront of the genre. THE HARD WAY, which comes out on May 16th, is Child at his fast-paced, thrilling best.

We have 20 Advance Copies of THE HARD WAY 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 28th.

More about THE HARD WAY:
In Lee Child's astonishing new thriller, ex --- military cop Reacher sees more than most people would...and because of that, he's thrust into an explosive situation that's about to blow up in his face. For the only way to find the truth --- and save two innocent lives --- is to do it the way Jack Reacher does it best: the hard way....

Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money. And Edward Lane, the man who paid it, will pay even more to get his family back. Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any amount of money and any tool to find his beautiful wife and child. And then he'll turn Jack Reacher loose with a vengeance --- because Reacher is the best man hunter in the world.

On the trail of a vicious kidnapper, Reacher is learning the chilling secrets of his employer's past...and of a horrific drama in the heart of a nasty little war. He's beginning to realize that Edward Lane is hiding something. Something dirty. Something big. But Reacher also knows this: he's already in way too deep to stop now.

Click here to read more about Lee Child and THE HARD WAY.


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. 
We have Lisa Jackson's Advanced Reader Comments here!

SHIVER by Lisa Jackson (Romantic Suspense)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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 is playing a sick game, and Montoya intends to beat him at it.

-Click here to read our interview with Lisa Jackson.

-Click here to read our review of SHIVER.

Click here to read Advance Reader Comments for Lisa Jackson and SHIVER.


Mary Kay Andrews SAVANNAH BREEZE Basket Contest

To celebrate the release of SAVANNAH BREEZE, the eagerly-awaited sequel to SAVANNAH BLUES, Mary Kay Andrews is hosting a very special SAVANNAH BREEZE contest.

Since everyone loves a little pampering, the Grand Prize is a $200 Gift Certificate to the spa of your choice --- and a personally inscribed copy of SAVANNAH BREEZE.

Three runners-up will receive a sweet and breezy basket filled with indulgences inspired by Savannah including a "Summer in Savannah" tin of famous and irresistibly good Byrds cookies that are made in Savannah as well as a "Savannah-scented" candle by Archipelago. In recognition of the power of friendship between Bebe and Weezie, winners will receive a signed copy of SAVANNAH BREEZE for themselves and an extra signed copy to give to a friend.

Click here to read all the details of the Mary Kay Andrews SAVANNAH BREEZE Basket Contest.

THE LAST CATO by Matilde Asensi

THE LAST CATO by Matilde Asensi (Historical Thriller)
Reviewed by Pauline Finch
A masterful blending of Christian scholarship and pure thrilling adventure, THE LAST CATO is a novel about the race to find the secret location of the Vera Cruz, the True Cross on which Christ was crucified, and the ancient brotherhood sworn to protect it from Infidel hands.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE LAST CATO.

Click here to read our review of THE LAST CATO.

Fandorin Mystery Series Contest --- Win a Trip For Two To Russia!

Find out why Boris Akunin's bestselling Fandorin series is thrilling mystery fans around the world. Featuring Erast Fandorin, the "Slavic Sherlock Holmes," this critically acclaimed series has mystery fans buzzing. Now, all four titles --- THE TURKISH GAMBIT, THE WINTER QUEEN, MURDER ON THE LEVIATHAN and THE DEATH OF ACHILLES -- are available in trade paperback.

Read the entire series and enter to win a trip to Russia plus a 10-day cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg, courtesy of The Russian National Group! Click on the link below for more on how to win this incredible contest.

Click here to read all the details of the Boris Akunin, Fandorin Contest.


One to Watch Author Feature: 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.

-Click here to see winners of the Advance Reader Copies.
-Click here to read a new excerpt from SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN.
-Click here to read Naomi Hirahara's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN.

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.


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.

-Click here to read a new excerpt from BROKEN.
-Click here to see our Advance Copy Winners.
-Click here to read Kelley Armstrong's backlist.
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.


This Week's Reviews and Features

THE SECRET SUPPER by Javier Sierra (Historical Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
In 15th century Milan, Leonardo da Vinci is completing The Last Supper. Pope Alexander VI is determined to execute him after realizing that the painting contains clues to a baffling --- and blasphemous --- message that he is driven to decode. 

-Click here to read an interview with Javier Sierra.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE SECRET SUPPER.

ONCE UPON A DAY by Lisa Tucker (Fiction)
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
On the streets of St. Louis, two lost souls find each other as they come to terms with their tragic pasts. In her third novel, Lisa Tucker explores the ways in which a whole life can change course in the space of a single day.

WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE by Elizabeth Berg (Fiction)
Reviewed by Lourdes Orive
In Tupelo, Mississippi, during the summer of 1964, tensions are mounting over violent civil rights demonstrations occurring across the state. But for Paige Dunn, there are more immediate concerns. Challenged by the effects of the polio she contracted during her last month of pregnancy, she is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and raise her daughter in the way she sees fit.

MY LATEST GRIEVANCE by Elinor Lipman (Fiction)
Reviewed by Lourdes Orive
When Frederica Hatch uncovers a surprising fact about her father --- that he was married previously, to a distant cousin named Laura Lee French --- she becomes exceedingly curious and strikes up a correspondence with Laura Lee. Fearing scandal, the three Hatches and Laura Lee are forced to keep this past relationship a secret.

KINGDOM COME by Tim Green (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Thane Coder works for a giant real estate entity that has become one of the richest, most powerful companies in the United States. When founder James King announces that he's taking the company public and promoting his son Scott ahead of Thane, Thane and his wife conspire to kill James and frame Scott for the murder.

CIRCLE OF QUILTERS by Jennifer Chiaverini (Fiction)
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad
An Elm Creek Quilter must not only possess mastery of quilting technique but also teaching experience, a sense of humor, and that intangible quality that allows an individual to blend harmoniously into a group. When two of its founding members decide to leave the fold, Elm Creek Quilts posts an open call for applicants.

BLACK SWAN GREEN by David Mitchell (Fiction)
Reviewed by Alexis Burling
A true gem that must be read and cherished for its wit and insight, BLACK SWAN GREEN chronicles thirteen months in the life of thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor --- each chapter mirrors each of the thirteen months during the time in which the novel takes place --- told from his perspective and at his own meandering pace.

MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child, with Alex Prud'homme (Memoir)
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
This luscious feast of a book is a love letter from Julia Child to her husband, France, friends, and --- of course --- cooking and food. Suffused with Child's wit and joy, each anecdote is a pure pleasure for the reader.

SEEING by Jose Saramago (Fiction)
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
Four years ago the nation's capital suffered a bizarre and debilitating plague of unexplained white blindness. Such was the premise of Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago's novel BLINDNESS. His latest, SEEING, has the capital again in crisis; this time political calamity ensues when about 70 percent of the paper ballots of the recent election are blank.

CRIPPLE CREEK by James Sallis (Mystery)
Reviewed by Kate Ayers
James Sallis releases his second novel in the superb Turner series. Having left the Memphis PD, John Turner retreats to the quiet life in rural Tennessee, yet it doesn't stay quiet for long. A jailbreak leads him back to the city for answers, but the trouble follows him home and he winds up watching his back --- and those of his friends.

THE FRIENDSHIP TEST by Elizabeth Noble (Fiction)
Reviewed by Hillary Wagy
An eclectic group of girls, who meet as students attending Oxford University in the United Kingdom, are bound by their friendship and their unique personalities. Friendship is the "silken ties that bound them together."

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: Books On Your Radar
Which of the following just released or soon to be released titles are you looking forward to reading (or reading now)?
BLUE SHOES AND HAPPINESS: The New Novel in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith
DARK HARBOR: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods
DEAD DAYS OF SUMMER: A Death on Demand Mystery by Carolyn Hart
A DIRTY JOB by Christopher Moore
FORTUNATE SON by Walter Mosley
HEY, GOOD LOOKING by Fern Michaels
PROMISE ME by Harlan Coben
SAVANNAH BREEZE by Mary Kay Andrews
SEEING by Jose Saramago
TWO LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE by Mary Higgins Clark 
VANISHED by Karen Robards
WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE by Elizabeth Berg 
None of the above
Answer the Poll here.

Question of the Week: The Book You're Recommending

About what book are you saying, "You HAVE to read this book!" this week?

Please note: Our question of the week will update on April 28th.

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 BLUE SHOES AND HAPPINESS by Alexander McCall Smith and PROMISE ME by Harlan Coben.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on April 28th.


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 April 30th, 2006 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: BLUE SHOES AND HAPPINESS by Alexander McCall Smith, MY LATEST GRIEVANCE by Elinor Lipman, SAVANNAH BREEZE by Mary Kay Andrews, VANISHED by Karen Robards and WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE by Elizabeth Berg. Last month's winner was Dan from Fayetteville, GA who won 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.

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