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December 14, 2007 Newsletter

December 14, 2007

This Week on

Happy Holidaze Talks to Steve Berry, Author of THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL Talks to Jan Karon, Author of HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS

Now in Stores: THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR by Dean Koontz

New Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Beverly Barton, Author of THE MURDER GAME

New Featured One to Watch Author: Eli Gottlieb, Author of NOW YOU SEE HIM

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Kevin O'Brien, Author of ONE LAST SCREAM

Best Books of 2007: Staff and Reviewer Picks

Author Interviews of 2007

Now in Stores: LOYAL IN LOVE: Henrietta Maria, Wife of Charles I by Jean Plaidy's Holiday Basket of Cheer Feature and What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide
Coming Soon: A List of Upcoming Books

This Week's Reviews

Poll and Question of the Week: Best Books of the Year

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- THREE 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
Books Into Movies
Bestseller Lists
Coming Soon
New in Paperback

Summer Beach Bag of Books Promotion

Happy Holidaze

Ho Ho Ho, oh no. Remember the extra week that I had for Christmas prep? Well, somehow I squandered that away and now am looking at my "to do" lists until "the big day" and crossing off sleep as an option. Things left to do include designing and producing the family holiday card, buying and wrapping gifts, baking brownies and packing for our trip.

You may ask what I have gotten done. Ummmm...well, the house is decorated inside and out. I did opt out of decorating a tree at the house since we are leaving next Friday. Right now we have a tree in the foyer with no decorations. It has that "gee, we are waiting for the 24th to do this" look to anyone who comes in the door. You know the “appearance” of being together when you are anything BUT. The charity tree was done, too. And my friend Cathy designed and created the great turquoise tree that you see in this opener as a present for me last week, and that’s completely giving ME the spirit.
Saturday morning, the 15th, I am going to be doing a segment for CBS's "The Early Show" about books for kids and teens. We pulled together some terrific "unexpected" choices for those of you with children on your holiday shopping list. Tune in around 7:40 AM ET to see the show in New York, or check your local listings as the show airs at different times around the country. The advantage to being up that early --- you can get an early start on holiday chores, or so I am telling myself! Both of my boys made Wish Lists on Amazon, and I am checking those twice and then moving items into my shopping cart. This summer my older son suggested we get Amazon Prime shopping, thus all will be here in two days with free shipping. I tell you that option has been the hot setup for us. When he “forgot” about his summer reading, they delivered the books to us at the beach in time for him to get it done. It’s well worth exploring.

Last Friday night, when the newsletter went out, mail started coming to me fast and furiously. In between the birthday well wishes were notes that the idea that we had passed along of sending notes to injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was not valid. My apologies to all about this. I was acting on a note that one of our reviewers had sent me, and while I usually check out everything three times, this sounded like there were no glitches so we ran with it. Our hearts were in the right place, and I apologize for any inconvenience caused by our passing along incorrect information!

This is a time of year for "Best Ofs." Thus we are happy to bring you our Staff Picks and Reviewer Picks for 2007. I never read these in advance, but rather look at them on the site along with all of you. I like the surprise of seeing what moved our staff and reviewers. As I settle in for the holidays there are two books "for all ages" that I am just wild about this year --- GREAT JOY by Kate DiCamillo and the 50th Anniversary Edition of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! GREAT JOY has a story that gets to the heart of Christmas, and the anniversary Grinch book gives background on the story and its characters that will be fun to share with guests during your holiday celebration. I love the Grinch, and while I am not a fan of lawn ornaments (no mail about this please), one neighbor has a giant Grinch that makes me smile each time I drive by. I am packing up the new Eloise title, ELOISE’S CHRISTMAS TRINKLES by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight, as well as OLIVIA HELPS WITH CHRISTMAS by Ian Falconer to read on Christmas Eve. There is still part of me who loves the wonder that this time of year brings to children.

This week we kick off two new special features.
Our newest Romantic Suspense author is New York Times bestseller Beverly Barton. Her latest book, THE MURDER GAME, hits stores on February 5th. In this frightening book, a serial killer has turned killing into a sick game in which he is always the winner. We have 20 copies of THE MURDER GAME to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, January 4th.

Our new One to Watch author is Eli Gottlieb, whose latest book, NOW YOU SEE HIM, will be available in stores on January 22nd. This is a suspenseful story exploring how a friend’s death forces a man to reevaluate his own life. I read it over the summer and have been looking forward to sharing it with you. We have 10 copies of NOW YOU SEE HIM to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, January 4th.

As you may remember, readers loved DARKNESS FALLS by Kyle Mills. You can read their comments here. This week Kyle answers the readers’ questions, which you can see here.

While there is no new contest in our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature this week, we still want to remind you of the six titles we spotlighted, which make excellent holiday gifts.
Please note we will be dashing a holiday card your way next week, but there will be no updates until Friday, January 4th to give our staff a much-needed break. We also have included a lineup of all the interviews that we did in 2007, so you can look back through them to see what you missed! Trust that there is lots of reading for you to explore. Also, we have interviews with both Steve Berry and Jan Karon that we are bringing you this week.

I am off to the Outer Banks next Friday for two weeks --- and I cannot wait. For those of you who have followed our adventures there over the years and my tales of excessive baggage, you will be happy to know I have a new plan: two cars. This way my husband can leave with things we NEED, and I can bring everything we HAVE TO HAVE. There IS a difference. I will be doing the four-suitcase setup again: clothes, books, knitting and other projects. He has the tree, ornaments, lights, Christmas dishes and other trimmings…and, oh yes, the presents. I think we now have solved the packing crisis. And my suitcase will NOT have to go in first. Whew!

Here’s wishing you a great holiday season….may the holidaze bring you all great memories. We have had one amazing year. We hit a new monthly high of more than 725,000 unique visitors. Thanks to each of you for reading and allowing us to share our book recommendations with you each week. You are the reason we love what we do. Raising a glass to toast you all. We’ll see you next year.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Steve Berry, Author of THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL

Steve Berry's latest installment in the Cotton Malone series, THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL, finds the former U.S. Justice Department agent turned rare-book dealer in search of one of history's greatest unsolved mysteries: the location of Alexander the Great's final resting place. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Berry talks about what drew him to this compelling figure as the subject of his sixth book and discusses his fascination with lost objects of antiquity. He also explains how he balances fact and fiction in these historically-based novels and gives insight into what may be in store next for Cotton and company.

THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL by Steve Berry (Thriller)
In 323 B.C.E, having conquered Persia, Alexander the Great set his sights on Arabia, then suddenly succumbed to a strange fever. Locating his final resting place --- unknown to this day --- remains a tantalizing goal for both archaeologists and treasure hunters. Now the quest for this coveted prize is about to heat up. And Cotton Malone, former U.S. Justice Department agent turned rare-book dealer, will be drawn into an intense geopolitical chess game. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL.

Click here to read our interview with Steve Berry. Talks to Jan Karon, Author of HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS

After launching her first novel AT HOME IN MITFORD more than a decade ago, author Jan Karon’s Mitford series numbers a whopping 30 million copies in print. Her stories about an Episcopalian priest are lauded for their charming characters, the evocation of small town life and her gentle inclusion of faith. In HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS, the first installment in her Father Tim Novels, Karon takes her beloved priest to new locations and levels of self-understanding.’s Cindy Crosby talks with Karon about the book and Father Tim Kavanagh’s future escapades, the challenges of getting older, the importance of Advent and her new appreciation of Elvis.

HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS: The First of the Father Tim Novels by Jan Karon (Fiction)
Although prolific novelist Jan Karon has completed her popular Mitford series, everyone’s favorite Episcopal priest is back in HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS, the first installment in the Father Tim Novels. Readers of Karon’s previous series will find the same wonderful brand of fiction they’ve grown to love. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby and excerpted.

-Click here to read a review of HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS.


Click here to read our interview with Jan Karon.


Now in Stores: THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR by Dean Koontz

THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR by Dean Koontz (Supernatural Thriller)
Dean Koontz’s latest thriller features Amy Redwing, who will stop at nothing to rescue endangered dogs. Yet she is not prepared for the unexpected bond that forms between herself and the mysterious female Golden Retriever, Nickie. It soon becomes apparent, however, that someone is shadowing them. Amy, her architect boyfriend Brian and the mysterious Nickie must prepare for a showdown with evil forces that will push them to the brink of their bond of love and companionship. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR.

Click here to read a review of THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR.

New Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Beverly Barton, Author of THE MURDER GAME
New York Times bestselling author Beverly Barton has written over 50 contemporary romance novels. Her new thriller, THE MURDER GAME, will be available in stores on February 5th. In this terrifying follow-up to THE DYING GAME, private investigator Griffin Powell and FBI agent Nicole Baxter team up again to stop a serial killer playing a very dangerous game.

We have 20 copies of THE MURDER GAME to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, January 4th.

-Click here to read Beverly Barton’s bio.
-Visit the author’s official website,

The game is simple. He is the Hunter. They are the Prey. He gives them a chance to escape. To run. To hide. To outsmart him. But eventually, he catches them. And that’s when the game gets really terrifying...

Private investigator Griffin Powell and FBI agent Nicole Baxter know a lot about serial killers --- they took one down together. But this new killer is as sadistic as they’ve ever seen. He likes his little games, and he especially likes forcing Nic and Griff to play along.


Click here to read more about Beverly Barton and THE MURDER GAME.


New Featured One to Watch Author: Eli Gottlieb, Author of NOW YOU SEE HIM

Eli Gottlieb's THE BOY WHO WENT AWAY won the prestigious Rome Prize and the 1998 McKitterick Prize from the British Society of Authors. In NOW YOU SEE HIM, which will be in stores on January 22nd, Gottlieb takes the reader into the human psyche with extraordinarily luxuriant and evocative prose. After the shocking deaths of writer Rob Castor and his girlfriend, Rob's childhood best friend is forced to reevaluate his own life --- opening a fault line beneath him.

We have 10 copies of NOW YOU SEE HIM to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, January 4th.

-Click here to read Eli Gottlieb's bio.

More about NOW YOU SEE HIM:
His name was Rob Castor. Quite possibly, you've heard of him. He became a minor cult celebrity in his early twenties for writing a book of darkly pitch-perfect stories set in a stupid upstate New York town. About a dozen years later, he murdered his writer-girlfriend and committed suicide. Their deaths begin a wrenching and enthrallingly suspenseful story that mines the explosive terrains of love, loyalty, envy and deception.


Click here to read more about Eli Gottlieb and NOW YOU SEE HIM.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Kevin O'Brien, Author of ONE LAST SCREAM
Kevin O’Brien is the New York Times bestselling author of THE LAST VICTIM and KILLING SPREE. In his new thriller, ONE LAST SCREAM (which releases on December 18th), a series of mysterious murders leads a young woman suffering from blackouts to question herself and her past. Could she be a cold-blooded killer? Or a pawn in a deadly game?

-Click here to read an excerpt from ONE LAST SCREAM.
-Click here to read fast facts about Kevin O'Brien.
-Click here to read Kevin O’Brien’s bio.
-Click here to see Kevin O'Brien's backlist.
-Visit the author’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

Amelia Faraday is beautiful, smart and a walking disaster. Suffering from blackouts, she also suffers from something worse --- the feeling that she is personally involved in a series of deaths. Now as a new series of murders begins, and she continues to suffer from blackouts, Amelia is left wondering if she is a cold-blooded killer --- or a pawn in a deadly game that’s only just beginning.


Click here to read more about Kevin O'Brien and ONE LAST SCREAM.


Best Books of 2007: Staff and Reviewer Picks

Before ringing in the new year, we at The Book Report Network reflect on some of our favorite books published in 2007. Though it was difficult to narrow down, each staff member chose up to five books that he or she enjoyed the most this year. Take a look and see if any of our selections match yours --- and which titles you may want to consider reading in the future.

-Click here to see our 2007 staff picks.
Recently we asked our reviewers to provide us with a list of some of their favorite books from 2007. Included is a mix of fiction and nonfiction titles, all published this year. Take a moment to read these varied lists of titles and see if you agree with their selections! Please note that, due to personal and professional commitments, some reviewers were not able to participate in this feature.

-Click here to see our 2007 reviewer picks.


Author Interviews of 2007

As 2007 comes to a close, we invite you to take a look at the author interviews that were featured throughout the year on This is a great way to catch up on the discussions you may have missed --- and to re-read what some of your favorite authors had to say about their books.

Click here to see our roundup of 2007 interviews.


Now in Stores: LOYAL IN LOVE: Henrietta Maria, Wife of Charles I by Jean Plaidy

In an age of power and pageantry, the deadliest thing a woman could do was fall in love.

When the daughter of the Catholic King of France falls in love with the Protestant King of England, their passion threatens to destroy her new country and the man she loves with all her heart. Click here to browse inside the book.

“Plaidy excels at blending history with romance and drama.” —New York Times


Click here to read more about LOYAL IN LOVE.'s Holiday Basket of Cheer Feature and What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide
Still stumped on what to get for all the people on your holiday list? The titles spotlighted in our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature would make great gifts.

WHERE ANGELS GO by Debbie Macomber
CANDY CANE MURDER by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine and Leslie Meier
AN IRISH CHRISTMAS by Melody Carlson
THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR DOGS: A Parody by Rex & Sparky by Joe Garden, Janet Ginsburg, Chris Pauls and Anita Serwacki

Also, be sure to check out our What to Give/What to Get Holiday Gift Guide, which spotlights books in a host of popular categories such as cookbooks, humor, sports, games, stocking stuffers, fiction, mysteries and more. It also includes holiday gift ideas for kids and teens.

-Click here to see our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature.
-Click here to see our What to Give/What to Get Holiday Gift Guide.

Coming Soon: A List of Upcoming Books

Curious about what books will be releasing in the months ahead? Then be sure to check out our Coming Soon section, where we currently have titles for December through April listed. Please note that we have not included every book coming out, but rather some that caught our eye --- and that we thought should catch yours as well.

Click here to see our list of upcoming titles.


This Week's Reviews

THE HEIR by Barbara Taylor Bradford (Historical Fiction)
Barbara Taylor Bradford continues her fascinating series featuring the Deravenels --- a powerful family whose lives are filled with drama, intrigue, danger and revenge --- in this sequel to THE RAVENSCAR DYNASTY, the second installment in her Ravenscar trilogy. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

CONFESSOR by Terry Goodkind (Fantasy)
It has been a long, hard road, one of anxious anticipation for millions of devoted readers who first joined Terry Goodkind on this journey back in 1994. The captivating tale of Richard and Kahlan, intertwined with those of their friends and enemies, has all led to this very moment in time: the release of CONFESSOR and the conclusion to the bestselling Sword of Truth series. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER by Stewart O’Nan (Fiction)
In this touching story, Stewart O’Nan describes the final shifts of a soon-to-be closed Connecticut Red Lobster restaurant on a snowy late December day. He offers an empathetic account of the commitment of unknown workers to even the most menial tasks and a realistic glimpse into the life of America's working class. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.
WATCHMAN by Ian Rankin (Thriller)
Ian Rankin wrote his second book, WATCHMAN, in the 1980s. He chose a spy story that is as timely in many ways today as it was then. Some of the players are different, and certainly the technology is much improved, but this does not detract from the fast-paced suspense imbued in this early classic. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.
STARBUCKED: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture by Taylor Clark (Business/Sociology)
In STARBUCKED, Taylor Clark investigates the giant coffee chain --- which was founded by three young men in Seattle --- and asks why we are so drawn to such an overpriced luxury. This is a witty and well-researched exploration into the company that changed coffee culture. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

PERSON OF INTEREST by Theresa Schwegel (Mystery)
Leslie McHugh is married to Craig, an undercover cop who trusts no one, not even her. When a thousand dollars disappears from their bank account, she wants answers. But before she can even ask the questions, their 17-year-old daughter turns up at the center of Craig’s investigation into a snitch’s violent death. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

BEATING THE BABUSHKA: A Cape Weathers Investigation by Tim Maleeny (Mystery)
A movie producer hurtles to his death from the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, an apparent suicide that shocks the film community and puts a $200 million production in jeopardy. His colleague, Grace, doesn't believe it was suicide and turns to private detective Cape Weathers to find the truth. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

A MAGNIFICENT CATASTROPHE: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign by Edward J. Larson (History)
How did our political parties come into existence? Why do we still rely upon the Electoral College? Edward Larson’s A MAGNIFICENT CATASTROPHE offers a stirring account of “the tumultuous election of 1800,” along with many lessons that are applicable to the 2008 Presidential campaign. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.
A SKATING LIFE: My Story by Dorothy Hamill (Memoir)
Three decades after her gold-medal performance at the 1976 Olympics, “America’s Sweetheart” Dorothy Hamill finally speaks out about her behind-the-scenes trauma, the challenges she has faced ever since, and what it means to truly win both on and off the ice. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

Iain Banks has put together a vivid story of family turmoil, compromised loyalties and hidden origins. The Wopuld family is gathering at their estate at Garbadale to discuss the potential sale of their board game company that has been built on the success of the game Empire! The protagonist, Alban McGill, knows that the weekend not only will bring family loyalty to the forefront but also potentially will uncover family secrets buried for many years. Reviewed by Ray Palen.


Read this week's reviews here.


Poll and Question of the Week: Best Books of the Year


Do "Best of the Year" book lists influence your reading choices?
Not sure

-Click here to answer our poll.


What do you think were among the best books of 2007? Name up to three.

-Click here to answer our question of the week.


Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- THREE Prizes

Tell us what books YOU are reading and loving --- or even those you don't.

This week we have three great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of BLEEDING KANSAS by Sara Paretsky, THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner and LAST CALL by James Grippando
. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on January 4th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on January 4th.


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, 2007 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR by Dean Koontz, LAST CALL by James Grippando, T IS FOR TRESPASS by Sue Grafton, THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HERE by Cecelia Ahearn and WATCHMAN by Ian Rankin. David fom Franklin, MA
was last month's newsletter winner. He won DOUBLE CROSS by James Patterson, EVERLASTING by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD: A Tale of Adventure by Michael Chabon, THE HEIR by Barbara Taylor Bradford and STONE COLD by David Baldacci.

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