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April 10, 2009 Newsletter April 10, 2009
Spring Break

I think I should live on the Outer Banks one week each month. I get more of the things I need to do --- and enjoy --- done here than I do at home. This week has been defined by the books that I read, the movies I watched, the knitting projects I worked on, the dinners I made and the time logged sitting on the deck or walking on the beach. Yes, I have answered email and worked, but there has been time to THINK as well.

There is a terrific office space in this house where I have my desktop and a printer set up, and it even has bookshelves, thus I unpacked the box of books that I brought with me and placed them there. I love having this room where I can "set up shop." As we were packing the car, my husband muttered to my younger son that he could not understand how I planned to get through all these books and also tackle knitting projects with the huge tub of yarn I had packed. I tried to explain multitasking and my need for options as he plunked his golf clubs into the car. So far, the plan here has worked.

So, what have I read? I started the week off finishing THE LATE, LAMENTED MOLLY MARX, Sally Koslow's upcoming book (coming May 19th). Sally's characters always have strong voices and presence, and she crafts a good story with sharp wit and prose. Molly has died in an accident, and from another place she watches her family as they try to unravel what happened to her. Through her vantage point we pick up the threads of who Molly was and how the people in her life came to be there. I read it on a warm sunny day on the deck and pronounced it my first beach read of the summer.

Next up was the manuscript for THE SIEGE by Stephen White, which will be out on August 4th. While White is known for his series books with Alan Gregory, this book, like KILL ME (one of my favorite books) from a few years ago, is a departure. Again he has a winner here. The story features Sam Purvey, who has had a role in many of the other books, as one of the characters. The story takes place in New Haven on the Yale University campus, not Boulder, where the Gregory books are set. There's a hostage situation, and Sam is drawn into it. The book has a strong political message wrapped into the quick-paced and deftly plotted story. By the way, Joe Hartlaub, our reviewer, had wanted Sam to have his own book, so it was fun to see the story set up with him in a key role. The interesting thing about reading a manuscript is that there is no back of the book copy to guide you. The story unfolds as you flip the pages, and you have no idea about the setup. It's like you are reading blind, and thus you get all the surprises.

Next up was Patti Callahan Henry's DRIFTWOOD SUMMER, coming June 2nd. It's my second beach book recommendation. Patti's writing gets stronger with each book, and this story of three sisters living in their beach town was just a relaxing emotional read. Next was LABOR DAY by Joyce Maynard, which is a July book. I know, I am reading way ahead here, but just take notes as these are books you will hear more about. I read this in one sitting yesterday. It's a tightly written story about a young boy and his mother and the man who spends a Labor Day weekend with them and his impact on their lives. I love the voice of the boy, which is honest and strong, and the story unfolds perfectly. Very, very powerful. Now I am reading SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See and am swept up in the Chinese American world that she has created. I am just getting into it but already have seen references to SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN.

This house has a second family room that we have dubbed "the screening room." Between Netflix and Redbox at the local Harris Teeter store, I saw a number of movies this week: Milk (brilliant, and I see why Sean Penn won the Oscar), The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (wonderful adaptation of the book), Australia (I never had thought about Australia during WWII), Rachel Getting Married (excellent performance by Anne Hathaway, and I liked the camera angles used), In the Valley of Elah (a rental thriller) and You Don't Mess With the Zohan (pure Adam Sandler humor).

I even packed some cookbooks for this trip. ONE SPICE, TWO SPICEA> has some of my favorite Indian food recipes in it. And the grilled lamb for Easter is from THE SILVER PALATE GOOD TIMES COOKBOOK. You would think I would have this recipe memorized after all these years. After all, the pages have splashes of balsamic vinegar and red wine!

We have a full lineup this week. Robert Goolrick
wrote a wonderful blog post for us on this week that gives some insight into his novel A RELIABLE WIFE, which is my most recent Bets On title. We also have an interview with Joel Goldman, whose latest book, THE DEAD MAN, is an office favorite. Joel is someone whose talent has not gotten the recognition that it deserves. Everyone in the office who read it was talking about how well done it was. You can see a video trailer for the book here. And there's a review of COLUMBINE, which I had written you about last week. Our reviewer, Sarah Rachel Egelman, appreciated this one as much as I did. I have not yet read Robert Dugoni's new one, WRONGFUL DEATH, but am glad to see he is back. It's on my "to be read list."

Also, you may remember the great feedback we included in last week's newsletter for Kyle Mills's LORDS OF CORRUPTION. This week, we are featuring the author's responses to our advance readers' questions, which you can read here.

Here's wishing you a Happy Easter...and for our readers who celebrate Passover, we hope you are enjoying Passover week. I would love to find an Easter Egg Hunt down here. When Greg was three, we were in Montauk for Easter. There was a hunt at our hotel. I was afraid that he would not get any eggs since so many kids were bigger. Well, the whistle blew to start hunting, and he was all over the place. Elbowing his way through older kids. And smiling as he showed me his basket jammed full of eggs. Today he is down the coast in Ocracoke shooting pictures of lighthouses with a secondary mission that he can log he was from Maine to the southern Outer Banks since March. Cory has been lobbying for Easter candy for the last few hours, so we are off to the store. He has informed me there is no need for a basket. Just candy will be fine. I love this maturity. Read on.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Lisa Jackson, Author of MALICE
Lisa Jackson's latest installment in her New Orleans series, MALICE, finds Detective Rick Bentz literally haunted by ghosts from his past. In this interview with's Stephen Hubbard, Jackson describes what inspired the plot of this story and explains why her protagonist always seems to be down on his luck. She also discusses what prompted the book's change of scenery from Louisiana to California, reveals how she unwinds after writing particularly intense and "creepy" scenes, and shares details about some of her future projects --- both solo efforts and collaborations with her sister, author Nancy Bush.

MALICE by Lisa Jackson (Romantic Suspense)
Detective Rick Bentz, struggling to recover from the crippling effects of an accident, is shaken to the core when a mysterious package arrives for him, its contents implying that his ex-wife, long dead, may actually be alive and living in Los Angeles. To settle his own mind, Bentz sets off for L.A. to seek out answers and chase his past demons. Arriving back in his old life, however, brings a long-dormant killer out of hibernation --- a killer Bentz failed to catch years ago. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

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

Click here to read our interview with Lisa Jackson. Talks to Joel Goldman, Author of THE DEAD MAN
Nightmares take on new meaning in Joel Goldman's latest thriller, THE DEAD MAN, in which special agent Jack Davis investigates a serial killer who murders his victims according to the ways in which they each dreamed they would die. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Goldman credits both a newspaper article and his longtime interest in science as inspiration for the book's plot, and elaborates on the neurological condition from which both he and his protagonist suffer. He also gives readers a peek into his own nightmares and shares details about his upcoming novel due out next year.

THE DEAD MAN by Joel Goldman (Thriller)
People in Milo Harper’s study of the human brain are starting to die exactly as they have dreamed they would die. Harper hires Jack Davis to find out why their nightmares are coming true and protect his foundation. But when Jack investigates, he crosses paths with a serial killer inside one of the most advanced research facilities in the world. For Jack, the case will shatter illusions, raise ghosts, and take him onto both sides of the law and into the path of a murderer’s terrifying rage. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of THE DEAD MAN.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE DEAD MAN.
-Visit Joel Goldman's official website,
-Click here to watch a trailer for THE DEAD MAN.

Click here to read our interview with Joel Goldman.

Now in Stores: JUST TAKE MY HEART by Mary Higgins Clark
JUST TAKE MY HEART by Mary Higgins Clark (Thriller)
In her new thriller, Mary Higgins Clark delves into a legal battle over the guilt or innocence of a man accused of murdering his wife. Woven into her plot is an eerie, little-understood but documented medical phenomenon --- the emergence of a donor's traits and memories in the recipient of a heart transplant. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

-Click here to read an excerpt from JUST TAKE MY HEART.

Click here to read a review of JUST TAKE MY HEART.

Now in Stores: COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen
COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen (Contemporary American History)
It has been 10 years since “Columbine” came to mean “massacre” in the American psyche. Instead of conjuring up the delicate blue flowers, the word is synonymous with a particular kind of violence: massive and seemingly random. In his account of the infamous and horrific school shootings, journalist Dave Cullen unpacks the event, including the mental health and history of the killers, their planned rampage, the responses of the community and survivors, and the truths and lies published by the media. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

-Click here to watch an interview with Dave Cullen.
-Visit the publisher’s official website,

Click here to read a review of COLUMBINE.

Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Nancy Bush, Author of UNSEEN
Nancy Bush is the author of the acclaimed Jane Kelley Mysteries, which include CANDY APPLE RED, ELECTRIC BLUE and ULTRAVIOLET. In her new romantic suspense novel, UNSEEN, Gemma La Porte survives a horrific car accident and awakens with a loss of memory and a terrifying realization that she may be guilty of murder. UNSEEN is now available in stores.

-Click here to read an excerpt from UNSEEN.
-Click here to read Nancy Bush’s bio.
-Click here to see Nancy Bush's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for UNSEEN.
-Visit Nancy Bush's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about UNSEEN:
Gemma La Porte wakes up in a hospital and knows her name and where she lives, but there are blank spaces in her memory. When released, she senses she’s being watched but thinks she's overreacting. As the days pass, Gemma begins having blackouts, waking up and having no idea where she's been or what she's done, especially when she finds blood on her hands. Has she committed murder?

Click here to read more about Nancy Bush and UNSEEN.

Featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author: John Manning, Author of ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS
From a new voice in suspense/thriller writing comes a novel in which a decades-old crime and a modern-day string of murders force a young college student to be a pawn in a psychopath’s twisted game. ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS, John Manning’s debut suspense/thriller novel, is now available in stores.

-Click here to read an excerpt from ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS.
-Click here to read John Manning’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

Two decades ago, at a private women’s college in upstate New York, a student was brutally attacked in her dorm room, but her assailant was never found. Sue Barlow arrives at Wilbourne College 20 years later. When a classmate disappears, Sue thinks it’s an isolated incident until two other girls vanish. As fear grows on campus, Sue begins to sense she’s being watched, and as the body count rises, she soon realizes that a twisted psychopath is summoning her to play a wicked game.

Click here to read more about John Manning and ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Lisa Scottoline, Author of LOOK AGAIN

Lisa Scottoline is the Edgar Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of 16 books, including LADY KILLER, DADDY’S GIRL and DIRTY BLONDE. In LOOK AGAIN, her new novel releasing on April 14th, a reporter’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives a photo of a missing child who is identical to her adopted son.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from LOOK AGAIN.

-Click here to read fast facts about Lisa Scottoline.
-Click here to read Lisa Scottoline’s bio.
-Click here to see Lisa Scottoline's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for LOOK AGAIN.
-Visit Lisa Scottoline’s official website,
-Click here to watch a video in which Lisa Scottoline shares her favorite thrillers.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about LOOK AGAIN:
When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops --- the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Everything inside her tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won't be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth.


Click here to read more about Lisa Scottoline and LOOK AGAIN.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Jilliane Hoffman, Author of PLEA OF INSANITY

Jilliane Hoffman began her professional career as an Assistant State Attorney prosecuting felonies in Florida. Through 2001, she was the Regional Legal Advisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, advising more than 100 special agents on criminal and civil matters in complex investigations involving narcotics, homicide and organized crime. PLEA OF INSANITY, releasing on April 14th, is her third novel, following her international bestsellers RETRIBUTION and LAST WITNESS.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from PLEA OF INSANITY.
-Click here to read Jilliane Hoffman’s bio.
-Click here to see Jilliane Hoffman's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for PLEA OF INSANITY.
-Visit Jilliane Hoffman’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

The prosecutor --- Julia Vacanti. Young, ambitious, and facing a case that could launch her career. The defendant --- David Marquette. A successful Miami surgeon and devoted family man. The victims --- Marquette’s own wife and three small children. The plea --- Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. The perfect father and model husband, David Marquette seemingly just snapped one night. Or did he? His experienced defense team claims paranoid delusions caused by schizophrenia drove him to slaughter his entire family.

Click here to read more about Jilliane Hoffman and PLEA OF INSANITY.

Featured Women's Fiction Author: Sandra Dallas, Author of PRAYERS FOR SALE
Award-winning and critically acclaimed author Sandra Dallas has captivated readers with her novels that explore themes of loyalty, friendship and human dignity, including NEW MERCIES, THE CHILI QUEEN and TALLGRASS, among others. PRAYERS FOR SALE, Dallas’s eighth work of fiction, is an unforgettable tale of a friendship between two women, one with surprising twists and turns, and one that is ultimately a revelation of the finest parts of the human spirit. PRAYERS FOR SALE will be available in stores on April 14th.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from PRAYERS FOR SALE.
-Click here to read Sandra Dallas’s bio.
-Click here to see Sandra Dallas's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for PRAYERS FOR SALE.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for PRAYERS FOR SALE.
-Visit Sandra Dallas's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

It's 1936 and the depression has ravaged the country. Hennie Comfort is 86 and has lived in the mountains of Middle Swan, Colorado since before it was Colorado. Nit Spindle is just 17 and newly married. After a chance encounter between the two women, the harsh conditions of life that each have endured create an instant bond and an unlikely friendship is formed, one in which the deepest of hardships are shared and the darkest of secrets are confessed.

Click here to read more about Sandra Dallas and PRAYERS FOR SALE.

Now Available in Paperback: THE STORY OF FORGETTING by Stefan Merrill Block
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THE STORY OF FORGETTING by Stefan Merrill Block (Fiction)
Blending myth, science and dazzling storytelling, Stefan Merrill Block’s extraordinary first novel illuminates the hard-learned truth that only through the loss of what we consider precious can we understand the value of what remains.

Though neither knows of the other’s existence, Abel and Seth are linked by a dual legacy: the disease that destroys the memories of those they love, and the story of Isidora --- a land without memory where nothing is ever possessed, so nothing can be lost.

-Click here to read a review of THE STORY OF FORGETTING.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE STORY OF FORGETTING.
Click here to read more about THE STORY OF FORGETTING.

Now Available in Paperback: RIVER OF HEAVEN by Lee Martin

RIVER OF HEAVEN by Lee Martin (Fiction)
On an April evening in 1955, Dewey Finn died on the railroad tracks outside Mt. Gilead, Illinois, and the mystery of his death still confounds the people of this small town.

RIVER OF HEAVEN begins some 50 years later and centers on the story of Dewey’s boyhood friend Sam Brady, whose solitary adult life is much formed by what really went on in the days leading up to that evening at the tracks. It’s a story he’d do anything to keep from telling, but when his brother, Cal, returns to Mt. Gilead after decades of self-exile, it threatens to come to the surface.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for RIVER OF HEAVEN.


Click here to read more about RIVER OF HEAVEN.'s 2009 Book Group Survey -- Give Us Your Input and Be Entered to Receive a Complementary Book! is conducting a survey of book groups. Our goal is to identify trends and topics that are of interest to book groups that we can share with publishers and authors, so they can provide the information and resources to enhance your meetings and discussions. We have not done a survey since 2001, and we know that a lot has changed in the last eight years! Thus, we would love to hear from you.

We estimate it will take 12-15 minutes to complete the survey. Each of the first 2,500 respondents will receive one of
these 28 books graciously provided by our publisher colleagues. All other entrants will be entered into a random drawing to win one of 200 books. The titles
that have been selected each are worthy of a terrific book group discussion, besides providing some wonderful reading enjoyment. Titles will be selected at random. Your name will not be used for any other mailing.

If you know people in other book clubs, may we suggest that you forward
this linkfont face="verdana,helvetica,sans-serif" size="2"> to them? The more voices that are heard for this, the more we will be able to have your comments shared with publishers and authors.

The survey will close on April 30th, so
click here to answer the survey NOW.

One quick note: Given customs and mailing restrictions, the prize offerings are only available to residents of the United States and Canada. To our international readers, we welcome your participation and regret we cannot send prizes overseas.

here for more information about the survey and the 28 prize books.

Please note that only our readers who are members of book clubs are eligible to take this survey.


Click here to take part in the 2009 Book Group Survey.

This Week's Reviews
BORDERLINE by Nevada Barr (Mystery)
National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon returns from a harrowing experience in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in a fragile mental state. Mother Nature, immigration politics and heroism combine to make BORDERLINE one of Nevada Barr’s most compelling suspense novels in this always eagerly awaited series. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

WRONGFUL DEATH by Robert Dugoni (Legal Thriller)
Just minutes after winning a $1.6 million wrongful death verdict, attorney David Sloane confronts the one case that threatens to blemish his unbeaten record in the courtroom. In New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni's latest legal thriller, Sloane returns to uncover a ruthless conspiracy that reaches farther and deeper than anything he could have imagined. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WRONGFUL DEATH.
-Click here to read an interview with Robert Dugoni.

LAURA RIDER’S MASTERPIECE by Jane Hamilton (Fiction)
Real life meets romance novel in LAURA RIDER’S MASTERPIECE, Jane Hamilton’s witty, tightly constructed take on modern marriage, media and morality. Although her new book disguises some significant issues behind a veneer of humor and lighthearted description, it does so in a way that will certainly surprise many of Hamilton’s long-time readers. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SCHEMERS: A Nameless Detective Novel by Bill Pronzini (Mystery)
A locked room mystery that goes from stolen books to stolen lives and the hunt for a phantom stalker with a penchant for pouring acid to make his point give Nameless and his partner Jake more than enough work to earn their fees --- as long as neither turns his back at the wrong moment. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

THE DAKOTA CIPHER: An Ethan Gage Adventure by William Dietrich (Historical Thriller)
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author William Dietrich’s THE DAKOTA CIPHER is the third book in his series featuring Ethan Gage. This time around, the expatriate American is back in the U.S. accompanied by a Norwegian warrior named Magnus Bloodhammer on the hunt for an ancient Norse artifact --- Thor’s Hammer! Reviewed by Ray Palen.

NO SURVIVORS: An Accident Man Novel by Tom Cain (Thriller)
Tom Cain’s THE ACCIDENT MAN introduced Samuel Carver, a man hired to make bad things happen. Carver is back in an action-packed new adventure that takes him from the war rooms of Washington, D.C., to the merciless Arctic peaks of Norway and from the palaces of the French Riviera to the war-torn Serbian countryside. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN by Kate Morton (Fiction)
A three-generation saga with a spooky fairy-tale twist, this fat, absorbing new novel by the author of THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON transports us from Victorian London and Cornwall to Queensland, Australia. Call it THE SECRET GARDEN for grownups. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

Geoff Dyer’s fourth work of fiction is a brilliantly bifurcated exploration of the emotional poles of sensual pleasure and spiritual quest. It’s a smart, funny, eyes-wide-open take on our search for meaning, one of those rare novels that begs to be read again the moment you have turned to the final page. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth

Do you read debut authors?

All of the time
Some of the time

-Click here to answer our poll.


Name up to three debut authors who you have recently read.

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth:

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 BONEMAN’S DAUGHTERS by Ted Dekker, COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen and A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on April 17th 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 April 30, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: BONEMAN'S DAUGHTERS by Ted Dekker, CURSED: A Regan Reilly Mystery by Carol Higgins Clark, FIRST FAMILY by David Baldacci, JUST TAKE MY HEART by Mary Higgins Clark and TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith. Edna from Smyrna, DE was last month's newsletter winner. She won HANDLE WITH CARE by Jodi Picoult, ILLEGAL by Paul Levine, LIFE SENTENCES by Laura Lippman, LONG LOST by Harlan Coben and PURSUIT by Karen Robards.

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

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