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February 13, 2009 Newsletter February 13, 2009
The Weekend Agenda: Reading!

The wind over the past 36 hours in the New York area has me feeling like I could end up in Kansas at any moment passing Dorothy on her way to Oz. The weather has been warm, which has ensured that all the snow has melted. I am hoping it does not snow next week as my husband is traveling and I have no clue how to run the tractor/snow blower. If I have to deal with this, I am sure it would unfold like an "I Love Lucy" episode. The lawn would get plowed and I would hit a few trees. Yes, the boys will oblige if needed, but I am not sure that they will have more fun riding or clearing. I know, I know, I could read the manual, but I confess that while I love to read books, somehow reading instruction manuals is something that just evades me, so I never know what half the buttons on most of the electronics that I own actually do!

Speaking of electronic gadgets, the other day when the release date for the new Amazon Kindle was announced, I started thinking again about why I do not own one. I, who have a treasure trove of electronics history stored in boxes in my attic (everything from the cell phone that was housed in a suitcase to the Astraltunes that were a precursor of the Walkman), do not want a Kindle. Somehow for me, one more thing to charge --- and one more thing to keep track of --- is just not on the agenda. Books are portable enough for me. I can see the emails flying in now to convince me otherwise; I am bracing myself. Kindle lovers I know have a special glow about them when they speak of their devices. I know those swooning smiles, and you are not convincing me!

I know I really struck a chord with many of you last week with my note about reading before sleeping. I loved the feedback. I got back to many of you, but I know there are some that I missed! I spent Thursday through Saturday at New York Comic-Con, and my head was really swirling by the time I hit the couch Saturday night. Visions of Princess Leia costumes were dancing in my head. I really need ESP mail where I can telegraph my thoughts when I read emails with no time to reply with traditional means!

Our editorial team outdid themselves this week. We have FOUR interviews for you, as well as the usual stellar lineup of reviews. I still get such pleasure from reading what authors have to say about their work. And what a lineup this week --- Linda Fairstein on her latest thriller, LETHAL LEGACY, set in the New York Public Library; Kathryn Stockett on THE HELP, a debut that finds its way onto my “ Bets On” list this week; T.C. Boyle, whose latest, THE WOMEN, looks at the women in Frank Lloyd Wright's life (after time spent at both Taliesin East and West, and reading LOVING FRANK, I cannot wait to read this); and Jayne Anne Phillips on LARK AND TERMITE, which is her first book in nine years!

I also want to highlight that William Lashner's new thriller, BLOOD AND BONE, is now in stores. It's his first stand-alone --- a wonderful departure for all his Victor Carl fans and one that I know will find him new readers. You can read Joe Hartlaub's review of it here.

We are launching new Suspense/Thriller features for two authors many of you will be familiar with. Our first is for Barry Eisler, whose new thriller, FAULT LINE, releases on March 10th. Barry, who received intensive training as a CIA agent, does a great job of weaving his experiences into the fast-paced thrillers he writes. His Rain series is a favorite with many of our readers; this is his first stand-alone thriller. We have 10 copies of FAULT LINE 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, February 20th.

Our second new featured author is Gregg Olsen, who received critical acclaim for his work as a journalist, true crime author and novelist. In his third novel, Sherriff Emily Kenyon, who we met in A COLD DARK PLACE, leads a desperate search for a serial killer targeting young women. We have 10 copies of HEART OF ICE 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, February 20th.

In our last newsletter I missed noting the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth yesterday (I am known for belated notes to friends as well!) As you may have noted, there are just a few books out to commemorate this. Many of you I am sure enjoyed MANHUNT by James L. Swanson, which chronicles the capture of Lincoln's killer. I wanted you to note that he has a new book out for young adults called CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER. I saw a presentation on this at the library convention, and it made me want to cancel my dinner plans and curl up and read. Let's just say that if Swanson taught history when I was growing up, I would have paid a LOT more attention. Trivia Fact: Swanson and Lincoln share the same birthday, so belated Happy Birthday to Swanson. Check out the video about the book here.

For the record, I have decided that the news on television all seems to be the same story on rewind. And I am a tad bored with the continuous commentary that goes something like this: If you leave your house and buy anything, you are not smart and will end up on a breadline. I am here to share that buying one book this weekend is not going to crumble your economic future, so head to the store and indulge yourself with a book. Maybe even buy two. Then, if you feel a continued need to shop once you leave the bookstore, go see
Confessions of a Shopaholic. I have not seen this movie yet, but I figure the scene where Becky has her credit card frozen in her freezer will be one that will make the news commentators froth with glee. And when you see all those designer names flashed across the screen, you can reminisce the consumerism that is part of the reason we are where we are now. Consider it a history lesson.

After a hectic last three weekends of travel and conventions, I have a plan for the weekend that includes lots of fires in the fireplace, reading and relaxing. The stack of books that I want to read is pretty high. I joke with the boys that if all the books I want to read fall on top of me, they could kill me, thus I HAVE to get through some of them this weekend, or it could be death by book! My obit will read, "The pages killed her" or "Killed by the stack." I know, too much time reading thrillers. Here's to delightful bookish adventures this holiday weekend and Happy Valentine's Day to all.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Linda Fairstein, Author of LETHAL LEGACY
Similar to previous installments in the bestselling Alex Cooper series, author Linda Fairstein sets her latest novel, LETHAL LEGACY, in another famous Manhattan landmark, this time giving her readers a behind-the-scenes peek inside the New York Public Library. In this interview with's Maggie Harding, Fairstein discusses what fascinated her about this cultural institution and describes some of the rarities she found amidst her research there. She also explains how she constructs her complex plots, muses on how her former career in the District Attorney's office gave her the discipline she needs as a writer, and reveals what notable locales will appear in the next book in the series.

LETHAL LEGACY by Linda Fairstein (Legal Thriller)
When Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper is summoned to Tina Barr’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she finds a neighbor convinced that the young woman was assaulted. But the terrified victim, a conservator of rare books and maps, refuses to cooperate with investigators. Then another woman is found murdered in that same apartment with an extremely valuable book, believed to have been stolen. As Alex pursues the murderer, she is drawn into the strange and privileged world of the Hunt family, major benefactors of the New York Public Library and passionate rare book collectors. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

-Click here to read a review of LETHAL LEGACY.
-Click here to read an excerpt from LETHAL LEGACY.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for LETHAL LEGACY.
Click here to read our interview with Linda Fairstein.

Author Talk: Kathryn Stockett, Author of THE HELP

Kathryn Stockett's debut novel, THE HELP, examines a rarely covered subject: the complex relationship between white Southern families and their black domestic servants in the 1960s. In this interview, Stockett reminisces about her own childhood experiences with her family's maid and discusses her hesitation --- as a white woman from Mississippi --- to write from the perspectives of African-American women. She also describes the research she performed to get a feel for the atmosphere and attitudes of the time, shares what surprised her most from the people she interviewed, and reveals the real-life inspirations behind her main characters.

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett (Fiction)
Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women --- mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends --- view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor and hope, THE HELP is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t. Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol.

-Click here to read a review of THE HELP.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE HELP.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE HELP.

Click here to read an interview with Kathryn Stockett.

Now in Stores: BLOOD AND BONE by William Lashner
BLOOD AND BONE by William Lashner (Thriller)
When his father’s former law partner is brutally murdered, the cops see Kyle Byrne as a possible suspect and start asking uncomfortable questions about his father’s death. After a strange encounter with one of his father’s former clients, Kyle enters into a search for answers that leads from his father’s past to the highest pinnacles of power --- and forces Kyle to lay bare the deceptions and losses in his own life. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from BLOOD AND BONE.
-Visit William Lashner’s official website,

Click here to read a review of BLOOD AND BONE.

Author Talk: T.C. Boyle, Author of THE WOMEN
T.C. Boyle, whose previous novels have centered on historical figures such as John Harvey Kellogg and Alfred C. Kinsey, tackles Frank Lloyd Wright in his latest work of fiction, THE WOMEN. In this interview, Boyle explains what attracted him to these strong personalities and points out the differences between Wright's creative process and his own. He also compares historical and contemporary fiction, shares his experiences living in a house designed by the famous architect himself, and discusses his current and future projects.

THE WOMEN by T.C. Boyle (Fiction)
With a bold, lively spirit of historical reinvention, T.C. Boyle stunningly brings to life renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright through the lens of his relationships with his indentured servant/apprentices and with the four women whose passionate, unconventional love affairs with Wright served as microcosms of his mercurial, impractical disposition and lifelong quest to do something extraordinary. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read a review of THE WOMEN.
Click here to read an interview with T.C. Boyle.

Author Talk: Jayne Anne Phillips, Author of LARK AND TERMITE
Jayne Anne Phillips, a writing professor and author of several award-winning novels and short story collections, recently published her latest work of fiction, LARK AND TERMITE (her first in nine years). In this interview, Phillips recalls a decades-old memory that planted the seeds for her protagonist and sheds light on the complexities of his character. She also shares her thoughts on the spiritual and emotional bonds among family members, discusses the real-life events during the Korean War that inspired the book's plot, and offers advice to aspiring novelists.

LARK AND TERMITE by Jayne Anne Phillips (Fiction)
Set in West Virginia and Korea in the 1950s, and told through the eyes of four distinctive narrators, Jayne Anne Phillips’s latest novel is a moving exploration of the powerful bonds that keep families together in the face of the forces that threaten to sunder them. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to read a review of LARK AND TERMITE.
-Click here to read an excerpt from LARK AND TERMITE.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for LARK AND TERMITE.

Click here to read an interview with Jayne Anne Phillips.

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Barry Eisler, Author of FAULT LINE
CIA agent-turned-novelist Barry Eisler is the bestselling author of the John Rain novels, which have won the Barry and Gumshoe Awards and have been translated into nearly 20 languages. In his first stand-alone thriller, FAULT LINE, Eisler delivers a fast-paced story in which two estranged brothers --- one a Silicon Valley lawyer, the other an undercover military operative --- must put aside decades of resentment and hurt to thwart a deadly techno-conspiracy. FAULT LINE will be available in stores on March 10th.

We have 10 copies of FAULT LINE 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, February 20th.

-Click here to read Barry Eisler’s bio.
-Visit Barry Eisler’s official website,

More about FAULT LINE:
Silicon Valley: the inventor of a new encryption application is murdered in what seems to be a drug deal gone wrong. Istanbul: a cynical undercover operative receives a frantic e-mail from his estranged brother, a patent lawyer who believes that he’ll be the next victim.

A full-throttle thriller that is both emotionally and politically charged, FAULT LINE centers on a conspiracy that has spun out of the shadows and onto the streets of America, a conspiracy that can be stopped by only three people --- three people with different worldviews, different grievances, different motives. To survive the forces arrayed against them, they’ll first have to survive one another.

Click here to read more about Barry Eisler and FAULT LINE.

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Gregg Olsen, Author of HEART OF ICE

A New York Times bestselling author, Gregg Olsen has written seven nonfiction books, three novels and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child. As a journalist and true crime author, Olsen has received numerous awards and much critical acclaim for his writing. In HEART OF ICE, his new thriller releasing on February 24th, Sherriff Emily Kenyon must stop a serial killer who is targeting young women.

We have 10 copies of HEART OF ICE 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, February 20th.

-Click here to read Gregg Olsen’s bio.
-Visit Gregg Olsen’s official website,

More about HEART OF ICE:
Cherrystone, Washington is the kind of small town where strangers are few and gossip is plentiful. Sheriff Emily Kenyon is investigating the murder of a pregnant young woman whose husband is the prime suspect, yet nagging doubts remain. Immersed in uncovering the truth, Emily doesn’t realize she’s become involved in something much bigger --- a case both dark and horrifying, one that will pit her against a killer whose vengeance knows no limits, and whose next target is chillingly close.


Click here to read more about Gregg Olsen and HEART OF ICE. Bets On...: Books We're Betting You'll Love

With thousands of books published each year and much attention paid to the works of bestselling and well-known authors, it is inevitable that some titles worthy of praise and discussion may not get the attention we think they deserve. Thus throughout 2009, we will be spotlighting books written by debut or up-and-coming authors that immediately struck a chord with us and made us say “just read this” in a new feature called " Bets On…" Our plan is to alert our readers about these titles as soon as they’re released so you can discover them for yourselves and recommend them to your family and friends.

Here is our latest featured title, with more to come in the weeks ahead:

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett (February 10th): Set in 1963, THE HELP is the story of three women --- two African-American maids in the Deep South and a young white woman who sees a story in the world that they live in. You hear the voices, see the houses and truly feel like a voyeur in their world. I found myself reaching for my advance reading copy of the book between present opening, dinner preparations and other holiday festivities in December. Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter are strong characters, and the stories they tell speak volumes about the time. Stockett closes the book with a piece about her family's maid, which shows why she could write this novel with such insight and honesty. No matter what your political views about our new president, reading THE HELP and seeing the world 46 years ago when the right to vote was something that was fought over, and not taken for granted, is interesting.

-Click here to read a review of THE HELP.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE HELP.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE HELP.
-Click here to listen to Kathryn Stockett discuss THE HELP, and discover the story behind the novel.


Click here to see all the titles we're betting you'll love.

What's New on
We are pleased to share that, the newest addition to The Book Report Network, is quickly becoming the premier destination on the web for everything related to graphic novels --- news and reviews, interviews with writers and artists, behind-the-scenes peeks at the creative process, podcasts and videos, a blog and more. has been updated with new content this week, including exclusive interviews with some of the biggest names in the comics industry. Gerard Way, author of the bestselling Umbrella Academy series, as well as the frontman of the band My Chemical Romance, talks about his plans for the award-winning series, how the characters inspire him and what it was like to record a song for the upcoming Watchmen movie. Then, check out our interview with Dean Motter. It's been 25 years since Motter unveiled the legendary comics character of Mister X, and in this career-spanning retrospective, Motter talks about the character's influence, as well as working on other major comics works, such as The Prisoner adaptation and Batman.

We continue to bring you the latest graphic novel and manga reviews. They're grouped into convenient categories, so you'll be able to find good new reads for kids, teens and adults. This week's crop of reviews includes Joker, Saga of the Swamp Thing, Cowa!, Orange, The Death of Captain America and many others.

All that, plus news about comics, updates on new releases, details about upcoming comics-related movies and much more, are on the site now. Visit us and find some great new graphic novels to read!

Click here to visit

What's New This Month on

With more than 2,500 discussion guides now available, continues to be the leading place for book clubs to find all the resources they need on the web.

Our Blog continues to be a big hit among our readers. Throughout the month we are sharing postings from regular contributors --- including authors, librarians, book club facilitators, booksellers and experts in the publishing industry --- as well as special guests. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Laurie R. King: Book Clubs and Bees
-THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett

-Susan Rebecca White's Strawberry Pie Recipe
-Susan Rebecca White: The Stuff of Novels
-Kelly Simmons: RUI: Reading Under the Influence
-Book Clubs in the News
-2009: A Year of Change
-Adriana Trigiani on the Today Show
-You Could Dine with Sara Gruen

The following guides are now available on

BETWEEN HERE AND APRIL by Deborah Copaken Kogan
THE BISHOP'S DAUGHTER by Tiffany L. Warren
COAL BLACK HORSE by Robert Olmstead
CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese
THE END OF MY ADDICTION by Olivier Ameisen, M.D.
THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
THE LAWS OF HARMONY by Judith Ryan Hendricks
LETHAL LEGACY by Linda Fairstein
MUDBOUND by Hillary Jordan
A PIGEON AND A BOY by Meir Shalev
ROCK BOTTOM by Michael Shilling
THE SLIDE by Kyle Beachy
SUNDAYS AT TIFFANY'S by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN by Karen Kingsbury
WE TAKE THIS MAN by Candice Dow and Daaimah S. Poole
THE WILDERNESS by Samantha Harvey

Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld
KILLER HEAT by Linda Fairstein
THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
A VERSION OF THE TRUTH by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

AGAINST ALL ODDS: Heroes of Quantico Series, Book 1 by Irene Hannon
AGE BEFORE BEAUTY: Sister-to-Sister, Book 2 by Virginia Smith
EVE: A Novel of the First Woman by Elissa Elliott
KISS ME IF YOU DARE: A Patricia Amble Mystery by Nicole Young


Click here to visit

Congratulations to Our Valentine's Day Basket Winners!
The countdown to Valentine's Day is on! Stuck on what to buy your Valentine? Our featured titles have the bookish answer. From January 23rd through February 6th, readers had the chance to win one of our five Valentine's Day Baskets. They are filled with one copy of each of our featured books. Thanks to all who entered and told us which character in a book they would want to share a Valentine moment with. We had some great responses! Click here to see our winners.

Although the contest has ended, we encourage you to visit our Valentine's Day feature. Whether you are looking for a humorous tale, a heartwarming love story or an escape into the world of paranormal romance, our Valentine's Day suggestions are sure to satisfy whatever you’re craving to give on this holiday.

Our featured Valentine’s Day titles are:

-NIGHT'S PLEASURE by Amanda Ashley
-ONE TRUE THEORY OF LOVE by Laura Fitzgerald
-VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani

Click here to see our Valentine's Day suggestions.

This Week's Reviews
THE BREAKTHROUGH: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill (Current Affairs)
Everyone --- even his political enemies --- agrees that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency is a “historic” event. But what exactly does this mean? Has it really opened up new prospects for minorities in American politics? If so, who will be the beneficiaries? And how do African Americans themselves feel about the idea? TV journalist Gwen Ifill tackles these and other provocative questions in a book that could change your thinking about what “historic” really means. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

SPADE & ARCHER: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon by Joe Gores (Mystery)
What was Sam Spade doing before he took on the case of THE MALTESE FALCON? Where did Effie Perine come from? How did Miles Archer hook up with Spade? The answers to these questions and more are woven into the thread of SPADE & ARCHER, a superb prequel from three-time Edgar Award winner Joe Gores. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

MOUNTING FEARS by Stuart Woods (Thriller)
In MOUNTING FEARS, President Will Lee’s running mate just died during surgery, and confirmation hearings for the new vice president are underway. Meanwhile, rogue CIA agent Teddy Fay is plotting his revenge on CIA director Kate Rule Lee, the president’s wife. Plus, there are some loose nukes in Pakistan that might just trigger World War III if Will’s diplomatic efforts fall short. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

DROOD by Dan Simmons (Historical Thriller)
On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, Charles Dickens hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever. Narrated by Dickens’s friend, Wilkie Collins, DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author's last years and may provide the key to his final, unfinished work: THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

THE MESSENGER by Jan Burke (Supernatural Thriller)
Beneath the Caribbean Sea, a salvage diver hears an eerie voice calling to him from the wreckage of a 19th-century ship. In return for promised riches, the diver becomes the servant of Adrian deVille, Lord Varre, the creature who has called to him. It's a bargain the diver will come to regret. Reviewed by Lori Lamothe.

THE LAST DAY by John Ramsey Miller (Thriller)
On the edge of the North Carolina woods, behind an isolated modern house, the watcher patiently waits. He knows all about the couple who lives there --- a talented surgeon and a successful businessman. He knows all about the people in their lives. He knows they are numb with grief. And he knows what is going to happen next --- and why. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: Spreading the Word

When you love a book, do you readily talk about it with others?

Yes, if they are readers
Yes, whether or not they are readers
I’m not comfortable doing this.
I’m not sure.

-Click here to answer our poll.


What is the one book you recently read that you couldn’t stop talking about?

-Click here to answer our question.

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 BLOOD AND BONE by William Lashner, THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett and VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on February 20th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.
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 February 28, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: BLOOD AND BONE by William Lashner, PROMISES IN DEATH by J. D. Robb, TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah, VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani and WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS by Barbara Delinsky. Harriet from Cherry Hill, NJ was last month's newsletter winner. She won THE ASSOCIATE by John Grisham, ECLIPSE by Richard North Patterson, ON THE GRIND: A Shane Scully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell, PLUM SPOOKY: A Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers Novel by Janet Evanovich and STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova.

Happy reading! Don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend or to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

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