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December 8, 2006 Newsletter

December 8, 2006

This Week on

Holiday Lights

Now in Stores: NEXT by Michael Crichton

Author Talk: Stan Pottinger, Author of THE BOSS

Our Newest Mystery Mayhem Author: Deanna Raybourn, Author of SILENT IN THE GRAVE

Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on --- Spotlight on A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Healthy, Wealthy & Wise: Advice and How-To

What to Give/What to Get: Spotlight on Humor Books, Stocking Stuffers and Trivia & Games

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Holiday Spirit: Titles Perfect for Holiday Reading

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Eat, Drink & Be Merry: Cookbooks, Entertaining Guides & Culinary Tales

Featured Fantasy Author: Alan Campbell, Author of SCAR NIGHT

Featured One to Watch Author: Julia Navarro, Author of THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE HOLY SHROUD

Featured One to Watch Author: Lalita Tademy, Author of RED RIVER

This Week's Reviews and Features

Poll and Question of the Week: Book Buying and Holiday Meals
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
Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Promotion
Debut Suspense/Thriller One to Watch Promotion
Mystery Mayhem Promotion

Historical Fiction Promotion

One to Watch Promotion
Chick Lit Promotion
Books Into Movies
Bestseller Lists

10th Anniversary Page and Pictures

Holiday Lights

While we have a very tasteful holiday display here at the house with the front columns wrapped in red bows, a big decorated wreath and hand-painted candy canes on the front walk, I have a confession. I love checking out the houses with really gaudy, over-the-top lighting displays. You know the ones I mean ---- they have been the subject of endless holiday movies and they are the ones where you just picture the electric meter whirring around and around when you drive by.
Last Friday night I stopped the car with a screeching halt and leapt out to check out one house that had a note on their lawn inviting people to walk around and check out their display. They had trains and an entire Department 56 village set up  (I really love to see these villages) as well as every holiday inflatable that I have ever seen. There were themed sections --- candyland, trains, a creche. Pretty amazing. Though I do not want this kind of thing on my lawn, I do love checking these out. A few years ago, when we were on the Outer Banks, I drove down to Nags Head to see one over-decorated house that had been featured on the "Today Show." For the record, at the risk of insulting some of our readers, I do not like blowup displays when they are not part of one of these over-the-top extravaganzas. I especially loathe the way they sink to the ground during the day and look like uninflated pool toys! I just needed to share that lest you all run out this weekend and buy inflatables thinking that this is holiday magic.
This week we are sharing a new Mystery Mayhem author with you, Deanna Raybourn, whose book SILENT IN THE GRAVE will be in stores on January 1st. I read this book months ago and just loved it. I typically do not love historical mysteries, but this one is a brilliantly done debut and the start of what promises to be a great series. It has so many details of the period that I found myself just absorbing all kinds of historical facts in a way I never would have enjoyed them in nonfiction history. Fans of Jacqueline Winspear will love this book. We have 10 advance reader copies to give away to readers who send us a note at
by Friday, December 15th.
For those of you who are doing holiday shopping, be sure to check out the What to Give/What to Get section, as well as our last contest for Holiday Cheer, which features A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS, a fun and sexy trio of holiday tales. Also, if you have boys on your list we have our Great Books for Boys feature. Still stuck on what to give or get? Or have a reader on your list who you have NO idea what to buy for? Well then think about an gift certificate or think about buying a Booksense gift certificate so your reader can shop in their favorite independent bookstore. 
This weekend my younger son and I are baking three-dimensional holiday cookies. I got this kit at Williams-Sonoma that just looks too cute. Of course, I am sure that my cookies will puff up too much and the 3-D effect will come from my jabbing frosting all over these parts to "glue" them together once I chisel them down with a knife. I am determined to get this phase of baking and all the wrapping done this weekend. I know, how ambitious AM I?
If anyone has an address where people can send books to servicemen in the military, please let me know. I want to send some out next week. We will share what we find on this and also give you some last-minute charity ideas for booklovers next week as well. 
Here's to the spirit of the not let the holidaze get the best of you. I already am plotting out a book to read when the cookies are baking.

Carol Fitzgerald (

List of titles reviewed and featured on December 8th

List of titles reviewed and featured on December 1st.


Now in Stores: NEXT by Michael Crichton

NEXT by Michael Crichton (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Michael Crichton blends fact and fiction into a breathless tale of a new world where nothing is what it seems and a set of new possibilities can open at every turn. NEXT challenges our sense of reality and notions of mortality, shatters our assumptions and reveals shocking new choices where we least expect.

-Click here to read an excerpt from NEXT.
-Click here to visit Michael Crichton's website for NEXT.

Click here to read a review of NEXT.

Author Talk: Stan Pottinger, Author of THE BOSS

Bestselling author Stan Pottinger tackles the timely topic of the oil industry in his fourth novel, THE BOSS. In this interview, Pottinger discusses the similarities and differences between himself and his characters, and explains how his previous career in law has helped to shape his writing. He also addresses the moral questions his book raises and shares his thoughts on the status of white-collar crime.

THE BOSS by Stan Pottinger (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Stan Pottinger's fourth novel is an unsettling and bold work of fiction set in the high stakes, no-holds-barred world of oil exploration. It combines new oil technology and corporate greed, resulting in an action-packed thriller that proves oil is the most precious commodity on earth.

-Click here to visit Stan Pottinger's website,

Click here to read an interview with Stan Pottinger and a review of THE BOSS.


Our Newest Mystery Mayhem Author: Deanna Raybourn, Author of SILENT IN THE GRAVE

Our newest featured Mystery Mayhem author is Deanna Raybourn, whose compelling blend of historical suspense and intelligent prose puts her in the Jacqueline Winspear category of smart thrills and chills. SILENT IN THE GRAVE is Raybourn's debut novel, and it hits shelves January 1st.

We have 10 advance copies of SILENT IN THE GRAVE 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, December 15th.

A psychotic murderer is about to make his one mistake.

Underestimating Lady Julia.

To say that Lady Julia met Nicholas Brisbane over her husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward -- it should be noted -- was still twitching upon the floor.

Lady Julia Grey is a London aristocrat with a wildly eccentric family and a husband she does not love. When her husband dies, she discovers that Edward was the target of menacing notes. Enlisting the help of detective Nicholas Brisbane, Julia begins to sleuth for clues to unravel the mystery of Edward's death. As she does so, she discovers that she has more in common with her unconventional family than she would like to admit, and also finds herself increasingly attracted to Nicholas, a man with a few mysteries of his own.

Click here to read more about Deanna Raybourn and SILENT IN THE GRAVE.


Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on --- Spotlight on A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS

Each week from November 3rd through December 15th we will spotlight a different title, and readers will have the chance to win one of five holiday baskets filled with winter-themed items as well as two copies of the featured book. Why two? One is to keep, of course, and one is for someone on your holiday gift list. We will also include festive wrapping paper and a ribbon to make the gift-giving hassle-free.

Our sixth and last featured title is A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS by Lori Foster, Gemma Bruce and Janice Maynard --- three stories that prove Christmas is not only the most wonderful time of the year, but also the sexiest. Along with two copies of A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and green-and-tan checkered wrapping paper and coordinating ribbon --- winners will receive a Cinnamon Sugar Scented Illuminations candle, Ghirardelli Rich Dark Hot Chocolate mix, gourmet vanilla marshmallows, sweet-smelling cinnamon sticks, delicious Chewy Peps peppermint candies, adorable winter-themed cookies, a snowman-themed wooden tray and soft comfy fluffy socks (colors on this may vary from what is pictured). 

To enter to win, answer the question below:

Who is the "Mountain Man" Madison Tierney gets stranded with in "By Firelight" by Janice Maynard?

You can find the answer by reading the book description here.

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS by Lori Foster, Gemma Bruce and Janice Maynard (Romance)
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
In this trio of scorching hot holiday stories from Lori Foster, Gemma Bruce and Janice Maynard, three lucky women get everything they ever wanted (and much more) for Christmas: peace and joy, plus love and passion.

Click here to read all the details of our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Healthy, Wealthy & Wise: Advice and How-To

Headed out to do some holiday shopping? Before you go, check out our What to Give/What to Get feature with ideas in 13 categories.

Books that teach and offer tips for living make perfect gifts. Our Healthy, Wealthy & Wise category has everything from the funny to the informative.

Our featured titles in this category are:

BETWEEN THE WINGTIPS: The Secret Life of Birds by Brutus Ostling and Magnus Ullman

PHIL HELLMUTH PRESENTS READ 'EM AND REAP: A Career FBI Agent's Guide to Decoding Poker Tells by Joe Navarro, Marvin Karlins and Phil Hellmuth, Jr.

SAVING GRACES: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers by Elizabeth Edwards

SIMPLY GREEN GIVING: Create Beautiful and Organic Wrappings, Tags, and Gifts from Everyday Materials by Danny Seo

YOU CAN DO IT! The Boomer's Guide to a Great Retirement by Jonathan D. Pond

Click here to see our Healthy, Wealthy & Wise category.

What to Give/What to Get: Spotlight on Humor Books, Stocking Stuffers and Trivia & Games

Got a trivia buff, a humor-lover or just looking to fill some stockings? Check out our Just for Fun, Trivia & Games and Stocking Stuffers categories and you're bound to find exactly what you're looking for.

Just for Fun:

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS: The Making of a Tradition by Lee Mendelson 


Click here to see our Just for Fun category.

Trivia & Games:

CRUCIVERBALISM: A Crossword Fanatic's Guide to Life in the Grid by Stanley Newman and Mark Lasswell

The New York Times Holiday Cheer Crossword Puzzles: Festive, Fun and Easy Puzzles edited by Will Shortz

Click here to see our Trivia & Games category.

Stocking Stuffers:

CHRISTMASLAND by Ralph Del Pozzo and David High

MIXTIONARY by John Nee, Scott Lobdell and Mia Christou

Click here to see our Stocking Stuffers category


What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Holiday Spirit: Titles Perfect for Holiday Reading

Getting into the holiday spirit is a piece of cake with these sweet holiday-inspired treats that will put you in the mood for mistletoe, snowmen and reading by the fire.

Our featured titles in this category are:

BLUE CHRISTMAS by Mary Kay Andrews

CHRISTMAS LETTERS by Debbie Macomber 


HOME: The Blueprints of Our Lives by Former Senator John Edwards

Click here to see our Holiday Spirit titles.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Eat, Drink & Be Merry: Cookbooks, Entertaining Guides & Culinary Tales

Got a foody, a wine connoisseur or a cook on your list? The books in our Eat, Drink & Be Merry category will make mouths water and aspiring cooks eager to get into the kitchen.

Our featured titles in this category are:

THE ESSENCE OF CHOCOLATE by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg


I LIKE YOU: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris

JAMIE'S ITALY by Jamie Oliver

THE UNITED STATES OF ARUGALA: How We Became a Gourmet Nation by David Kamp

Click here to see our Eat, Drink & Be Merry category.


Featured Fantasy Author: Alan Campbell, Author of SCAR NIGHT

We're bringing back our Fantasy Feature with Alan Campbell and SCAR NIGHT, which comes out December 26th and is Campbell's first novel. With its distinctive blend of mystery, thrills and the fantastic, Campbell is destined to make a name for himself in the fantasy genre.

-Click here to read a new excerpt from SCAR NIGHT.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about SCAR NIGHT:
Suspended by chains over a seemingly bottomless abyss, the ancient city of Deepgate is home to a young angel, an assassin, and a psychotic murderer hungry for revenge --- or redemption. But soon a shocking betrayal will unite all three in a desperate quest.....

Click here to read more about Alan Campbell and SCAR NIGHT.

Featured One to Watch Author: Julia Navarro, Author of THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE HOLY SHROUD

One of our two new featured One to Watch authors is Julia Navarro --- a Madrid-based journalist whose mesmerizing biblically-inflected tale, THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE HOLY SHROUD, was a publishing phenomonen in Spain. The English translation of the novel hits shelves on December 26th and is bound to garner a whole new audience for the talented and fiercely intelligent writer.

-Click here to read a new excerpt from THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE HOLY SHROUD.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

A fire at the Cathedral of Turin and the discovery of a strangely mutilated body attract the attention of Italy's special Art Crimes Department. For the fire is only the latest in a troubling series of arsons and break-ins at the cathedral, which houses what millions believe to be the authentic burial shroud of Jesus Christ.

Spanning centuries and continents, from the storm-rent skies over Calvary, through the glories of Byzantium and the intrigue and treachery of the Crusades, to the modern-day citadels of Istanbul, New York, London, Paris, and Rome, BROTHERHOOD OF THE HOLY SHROUD is a provocative page-turner of the highest order-one that will challenge you to believe.

Click here to read more about Julia Navarro and THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE HOLY SHROUD.

Featured One to Watch Author: Lalita Tademy, Author of RED RIVER

Our second featured One to Watch author is Lalita Tademy, whose newest title, RED RIVER, is a powerful tale of racial strife and the bonds of family that hits bookstores on January 3rd.

-Click here to read a new excerpt from RED RIVER.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about RED RIVER:
Hailed as "powerful," "accomplished," and "spellbinding," Lalita Tademy's first novel CANE RIVER was a New York Times bestseller and the 2001 Oprah Book Club Summer Selection. Now with her evocative, luminous style and painstaking research, she takes her family's story even further, back to a little-chronicled, deliberately-forgotten time...and the struggle of three extraordinary generations of African-American men to forge brutal injustice and shattered promise into a limitless future for their children... RED RIVER.

Click here to read more about Lalita Tademy and RED RIVER.


This Week's Reviews and Features

WALT DISNEY: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler (Biography)
Reviewed by Ron Kaplan
Neal Gabler's exhaustive biography of one of America's iconic figures follows his subject from a humble Missouri childhood to his (relatively) sudden death at age 65. Gabler is the first writer to be given complete access to the Disney archives, and it shows in this meticulously researched book.

EMPIRE by Orson Scott Card (Science Fiction)
Reviewed by Pauline Finch
The American Empire has grown too fast, and the fault lines at home are stressed to the breaking point. The war of words between Right and Left has collapsed into a shooting war, though most people just want to be left alone. In his latest book, Orson Scott Card takes a chilling look at a near-future scenario of a new American Civil War.

FINDING NOEL by Richard Paul Evans (Fiction)
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton
FINDING NOEL is a love story about Macy and Mark, two young people from different worlds. Richard Paul Evans wrote this Christmas novel --- his first since THE CHRISTMAS BOX --- in honor of his beloved mother, who passed away earlier this year.

THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU: And Other Stories by Susanna Clarke (Fantasy/Short Stories)
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
Following the enormous success of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, Susanna Clarke delivers a collection of 10 stories set in the same fairy-crossed world of 19th-century England. These dark, enchanting tales unfold in a slightly distorted version of our own world, where people are bedeviled by mischievous interventions from the fairies.

ALMOST A CRIME by Penny Vincenzi (Fiction)
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
Recently, the Overlook Press brought Penny Vincenzi's talent from her native England to the United States with the publication of her popular Spoils of Time trilogy. Now it is releasing some of Vincenzi's other smash hits for her new American fans, starting with ALMOST A CRIME, a sprawling saga about family, money, love and revenge.

THE SENATOR AND THE PRIEST by Andrew M. Greeley (Fiction)
Reviewed by Amie Taylor
While the wind blows and the snow flies, curl up in your easy chair with bestselling author Father Andrew M. Greeley's latest book --- an explosive novel about the corrosive political culture tearing apart America and a riveting tale of two Irish Catholic brothers who couldn't be more different.

THE FAMILY THAT COULDN'T SLEEP: A Medical Mystery by D. T. Max (Medicine)
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
In a medical detective story as gripping as any thriller, we learn how a tiny protein called a prion links several bizarre and deadly diseases. The author introduces the reader to an inherited fatal insomnia, to a disease in which afflicted sheep scrape their itching hides bloody before they die, to a New Guinea tribe's mysterious illness, and to mad cow disease.

AN ALPHABETICAL LIFE: Living it Up in the World of Books by Wendy Werris (Memoir)
Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg
Wendy Werris has spent a lifetime in the bookselling business. In this engaging account of that career, she generously shares her love of books and the people who make their living creating and selling them. Avid readers will find much to satisfy themselves here.

AMERICAN SKIN by Ken Bruen (Thriller)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Stephen Blake and his girlfriend Siobhan, best friend Tommy, IRA terrorist Stapleton, and a particularly American sort of psychopath named Dade are all on a collision course somewhere on the road between the dive bars of New York and the pitiless desert of the Southwest.

DEATH'S WITNESS by Paul Batista (Mystery)
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
When Tom Perini, a legendary Heisman Trophy winner turned criminal lawyer, is found brutally murdered in Central Park, his widow Julie not only must unravel the mysteries of her husband's secret double life, but survive long enough to discover the truth.

Click here to read our reviews and features.
Poll and Question of the Week: Book Buying and Holiday Meals


This fall we have seen a number of blockbuster authors release books, which has us wondering. Think about your own book buying habits compared to last year. Are you buying:

More books
The same number of books
Less books
Not sure what I am doing
-Click here to answer our Poll.


What author would you like to have join you for a holiday meal?

-Click here to answer our
Question of the Week. 


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 HANNIBAL RISING by Thomas Harris and NEXT by Michael Crichton.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on December 15th.


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 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 December 31, 2006 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: THE BOLEYN INHERITANCE by Philippa Gregory, HANNIBAL RISING by Thomas Harris, NEXT by Michael Crichton, THE RAVENSCAR DYNASTY by Barbara Taylor Bradford and SANTA CRUISE: A Holiday Mystery at Sea, by Mary Higgins Clark. Last month's winner was Charlotte from Bourne, MA who won THE BOSS by Stan Pottinger, BROTHER ODD by Dean Koontz, DEAR JOHN by Nicholas Sparks, NATURE GIRL by Carl Hiaasen and WILD FIRE by Nelson DeMille.

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