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April 21, 2006 Newsletter

April 21, 2006

This Week on

Books on My Mind....

Mother's Day Hat Box Contest on

SAVANNAH BREEZE by Mary Kay Andrews

New Featured Chick Lit Author --- Meg Cabot, Author of QUEEN OF BABBLE

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

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

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

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

Featured Chick Lit Author: Laurie Graff, Author of LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG

FIREFLY CLOAK by Sheri Reynolds

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

Books on My Mind....


The first week back from vacation takes on a rhythm all its own. This week as I was shaking the sand from my toes I found myself plunging right back into work. When it gets crazy busy like this, I find that reading a few pages of a book can definitely sort me out. Right now I am reading PRAYERS FOR THE ASSASSIN by Robert Ferrigno. It's not light reading, but rather a thought-provoking thriller that takes place in 2040. Somehow though when I have reached for this book this week, I have felt myself calming down. It's like checking in with these characters is something stable as everything else swirls around. While I did not have much reading time this week, I did find that these little escapes have been lovely. Any of you do this when life is hectic?

On the way back from the Outer Banks last weekend I had a knitting disaster. We stopped short and I dropped many many stitches making --- a hole. Well, I had no clue how to fix this and lost a lot of sleep over it. Suddenly on Monday, I got a brainstorm and thought --- I can write Debbie Macomber. She has written those two novels about knitting and I am sure she knows what to do. Well, as I was trying to track Debbie down, I called my local yarn shop and they had me bring it in and fixed it, but Debbie and I went on to do some fun emailing about knitting and what no one knows about what we spend on yarn! I do find it humorous that Debbie and not the yarn shop was my first thought.

Today we are kicking off our Mother's Day Contest. The prize is six terrific books and some great prizes, all packaged up in a floral hatbox. I love the books that are included and I had a LOT of fun shopping for the other prizes. I hope you enjoy perusing the titles, plan to buy some for the moms in your life or make a wish list of them, and enter the contest too! See details below.

There are authors who make me smile, because I like both them and their writing. One is Meg Cabot. I have had the pleasure of meeting her a few times and it's always fun. She's an author whose voice rings in my head when I read her books. I hear her laugh. And I start smiling and laughing along with her. I read QUEEN OF BABBLE a couple of months ago and it was a wonderful escape. Now just looking at the cover, I smile. It's in stores May 23rd, but we have 20 Advance Copies of QUEEN OF BABBLE 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, May 5th.

Some really terrific news. Lisa Jackson, whose book SHIVER we have been sharing with you, debuts on the New York Times bestseller list at #4 this week. We love news like that. This week see what our advance readers had to say about her books and read her replies to their questions here

Readers often write and say that they enjoy hearing about books to add to their "coming soon" lists. Here's one you want to note: KILLER INSTINCT, the latest thriller by Joseph Finder, which will be in stores on May 16th. I read it about six months ago in manuscript and enjoyed not only the story, but all that I learned about plasma TVs, since the plot revolves around a large company that sells this technology. When I see plasma TVs  now, I always think about the book! readers already know Finder's work from his previous books, PARANOIA and COMPANY MAN. Read more about KILLER INSTINCT at

Next week I am attending the Mystery Writers of America events in the city and then going to L.A. Friday morning for the L.A. Festival of Books. Remember if you are going to be at the Festival, drop me a note. I should have my schedule figured out by Tuesday. part of flying to L.A. --- five to six hours of reading time on the plane. Have a great week....

Carol Fitzgerald (

List of titles reviewed and featured on April 21st.

List of titles reviewed and featured on April 14th.

Click here to read Lisa Jackson's Advance Reader Comments.

Mother's Day Hat Box Contest on

From April 21st through May 5th readers will have the chance to win one of five Mother's Day Hat Boxes filled with goodies Mom will just love, as well as ALL SIX of our featured books --- CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM by Melanie Lynne Hauser, THE LOST MOTHER by Mary McGarry Morris, RECIPES FOR A PERFECT MARRIAGE by Morag Prunty, SUSANNAH'S GARDEN by Debbie Macomber, THE WOMAN AT THE WASHINGTON ZOO by Marjorie Williams and A YEAR IN THE WORLD by Frances Mayes.

Our Hat Box prizes have a beautiful spring floral pattern and are stocked with charming and indulgent items for Mom. Along with the six books,  Mom will be thrilled to find potpourri in a charming mossy heart from Smith and Hawkins, seeds to plant and her own culinary herbs and edible flowers to grow, a soothing pink stargazer lily scented candle from Illuminations, and lemon and coconut lime bath fizzies from Crabtree and Evelyn. And because moms regularly wipe away a lot of tears, we're adding a portable package of spring-colored tissues. You can keep the basket yourself or give it to a special mom you know.

Here's How to Enter:
Tell us your favorite book that your mom read to you, with your name and address or the name and snail mail address of your desired Mother's Day Hat Box recipient if you would like to give it as a gift, to by 11:59AM EST (noon) on Friday, May 5th. (Please note that P.O. Boxes cannot be accepted)

Click here to read official rules and details for our Mother's Day Hat Box Contest.


SAVANNAH BREEZE by Mary Kay Andrews

SAVANNAH BREEZE by Mary Kay Andrews (Fiction)
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara
In this eagerly awaited sequel to SAVANNAH BLUES, Southern belle BeBe Loudermilk loses all her worldly possessions thanks to a brief but disastrous relationship with the gorgeous Reddy, an "investment counselor" who turns out to be a con man. All that's left is a ramshackle 1950s motor court on Tybee Island --- an eccentric beach town that calls itself a drinking village with a fishing problem.

-Click here to read an excerpt from SAVANNAH BREEZE.
-Click here to read about Mary Kay Andrews's SAVANNAH BREEZE Basket Contest.
-Click here to visit Mary Kay Andrews's website.

Click here to read our review of SAVANNAH BREEZE.


New Featured Chick Lit Author --- Meg Cabot, Author of QUEEN OF BABBLE

Meg Cabot, author of the bestselling, critically acclaimed and immensely popular Princess Diaries novels, is our newest featured Chick Lit Author. From this New York Times bestselling writer comes QUEEN OF BABBLE, which comes out May 23rd, the charming and witty story of a lovable blabbermouth who can't seem to stay out of trouble....

We have 20 Advance Copies of QUEEN OF BABBLE 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, May 5th.


What's an American girl with a big mouth but an equally big heart to do?

Lizzie Nichols has a problem, and it isn't that she doesn't have the slightest idea what she's going to do with her life or that she's blowing what should be her down payment on a cute little Manhattan apartment on a trip to London to visit her long-distance boyfriend, Andrew. But what's the point of planning for the future when she's done it again? See, Lizzie can't keep her mouth shut. And it's not just that she can't keep her own secrets, she can't keep anything to herself.

Unless she can figure out a way to use that big mouth of hers to save the day.

Click here to read more about Meg Cabot and QUEEN OF BABBLE.


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.


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.

One to Watch Author Feature: 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.

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

We have Advance Reader Comments for Harley Jane Kozak --- our latest 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 Advance Reader Comments for DATING IS MURDER.
-Click here to read an interview with Harley Jane Kozak.
-Click here to read our review of DATING IS MURDER.

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 more about Harley Jane Kozak and DATING IS MURDER.


Featured Chick Lit Author: Laurie Graff, Author of LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG

We have Advance Reader Comments for Laurie Graff --- one of our featured Chick Lit authors, whose book LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG came out on April 1st and is a fun twist on the old story about a princess and a frog.

-Click here to see Advance Reader Comments for Laurie Graff.
-Click here to read our interview with Laurie Graff.
-Click here to read a review of LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG.

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 more about Laurie Graff and LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG.


FIREFLY CLOAK by Sheri Reynolds

FIREFLY CLOAK by Sheri Reynolds (Fiction)
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton
When eight-year-old Tessa Lee and her brother are abandoned in a campground by their desperate mother and her boyfriend, they are left with their mother's favorite housecoat, which Tessa Lee calls the Firefly Cloak. Seven years later, when word arrives that her mother has been spotted not far from where Tessa Lee lives, she sets off on a dangerous journey to try to recover what has been taken from her.

"Reynolds' newest novel delivers more of the rich southern atmosphere and coming-of-age drama that made THE RAPTURE OF CANAAN (1995) an Oprah Book Club selection and bestseller." - Booklist (starred review)

"Reynolds is the newest and most exciting voice to emerge in contemporary Southern fiction." - San Fransisco Bay Guardian

Click here to read a review of FIREFLY CLOAK.


This Week's Reviews and Features

BEAUTIFUL LIES by Lisa Unger (Thriller)
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
On one fateful day, Ridley Jones's entire life turns on a dime and she is forced to question everything: her family, her past, even her own name. In this terrific debut thriller, Lisa Unger develops a sexy, tense nail biter with real emotional depth, in which every choice Ridley makes creates a whirlwind of consequences that are impossible to imagine.

-Click here to read an excerpt from BEAUTIFUL LIES.

DARK HARBOR by Stuart Woods (Mystery/Thriller)
Reviewed by Maggie Harding
In Stuart Woods's latest thriller featuring Stone Barrington, the New York lawyer and private investigator enters the picturesque town of Dark Harbor off the coast of Maine, where the shocking deaths of three people have cast a long shadow over this island haven --- a locale as mysterious as it is exclusive.

DEAD DAYS OF SUMMER by Carolyn Hart (Mystery)
Reviewed by Belinda Williams
Murder hits close to home for Death on Demand bookstore owner Annie Darling and her beloved husband, Max. While investigating a new case, Max calls Annie to let her know he may be late getting home. He never shows up, and Annie knows something dreadful has happened to him.

APEX HIDES THE HURT by Colson Whitehead (Fiction)
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
What's in a name? Shakespeare told us that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. But what if the rose was called something horrible like "rendered pork fat weed?" Would we even go near it? In Colson Whitehead's witty novel, he suggests names are tied to identity and fate, and to the way we understand and make sense of the world around us.

END OF STORY: A Novel of Suspense by Peter Abrahams (Suspense)
Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds
Aspiring novelist Ivy Seidel takes a job teaching creative writing --- at a maximum-security prison. It is a world she has never experienced before, one ruled by enigmatic codes of honor, ceaseless aggression and absolutely savage violence. But one of the prisoners there is unlike any of the others, and unlike any man she has ever met.

HIGH PRIESTESS by David Skibbins (Mystery)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
This second novel in David Skibbins's wildly original and entertaining series tells a tale of murder and madness that stretches back over decades into the tumultuous 1960s. It further reveals the secrets of the unusual narrator's past and what he'll do to keep them hidden.

LIVE WIRE by Jay MacLarty (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Faced with the dire news that North Korea intends to sell its nuclear weapons indiscriminately on the black market, professional courier Simon Leonidovich is recruited to deliver vital CIA documents to North Korea. But when Simon finds himself trapped behind enemy lines with a briefcase full of incriminating evidence, he discovers the true nature of the threat.

AN ORDINARY MAN: An Autobiography by Paul Rusesabagina (Autobiography)
Reviewed by Alexis Burling
This intelligently written and incredibly moving autobiography of Paul Rusesabagina --- the man whose heroism inspired the film Hotel Rwanda --- explores what the Academy Award-nominated film could not: the inner life of the man who became one of the most prominent public faces during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

PRETTY LITTLE DIRTY by Amanda Boyden (Fiction)
Reviewed by Jamie Layton
What starts out as the story of two young women living a charmed adolescence soon swirls into an intoxicating novel of art, music, and self-destructive impulses as best friends Lisa and Celeste dare each other ever onward.

PASSIONATE NATION: The Epic History of Texas by James L. Haley (History)
Reviewed by Robert Finn
Texas historian James L. Haley compresses the tumultuous, blood-soaked history of his native state into a single vivid volume that begins with Hernando Cortes and ends with George W. Bush.

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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