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April 17, 2009 Newsletter April 17, 2009
I Vacationed. I Read. And Now It’s Just a Memory.

Vacation feels like it was a year ago. Every once in a while I pass a mirror and see that I am tan and I think --- that’s right, I was away! Since I have been back, it’s been go go go.

The best part about vacation was having the time to read without guilt. I never read at my desk in the office, which is somewhat amusing given the fact that reading is a huge part of my job. Once in a while I sneak a page or two, but the vast majority of my reading is done once I get home at night or on weekends. By the way, I took a quick picture of the office in the rental house before I took down my computer and packed up my books so you could see just how much I moved in.

So what did I read? First was a wonderful funny and thoughtful memoir called I LOVED, I LOST, I MADE SPAGHETTI. It’s a terrific story of food and failed relationships from Giulia Melucci, who cooked for all the men in her life through the years. It’s the kind of book you cannot read when you are hungry. There are recipes throughout it, and I have a couple of pages dogeared with things I would like to try! Here’s a fun video with Melucci talking about the book that was amusing. We plan to have our review for you next week.

I was humored reading this, as for my third date with my husband (we met skiing in Crested Butte, Colorado, so dates one and two happened there), it was his birthday and I made dinner --- chicken cutlets, linguini and some green vegetable and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. At the time, that just about summed up my culinary skill. He had another birthday yesterday, and while the chocolate cake will be on the menu when we officially celebrate tomorrow night, I think the rest of the menu will be a tad more sophisticated.

Easter Sunday found me on the deck reading THE WILDWATER WALKING CLUB by Claire Cook, which will be in stores May 5th. It’s a quick smart read that will get you thinking about walking, friendship and making time for the things you love. The protagonist, Noreen Kelly, takes a buyout from her company and starts to think about what comes next. She never had free time to just enjoy and never got to know her neighbors. Now as she redefines herself, she takes joys in simple things and getting to know those around her, including two women who form a walking club with her. Reading I remembered when I first left Conde Nast and I had no idea what to do all day. Just as I got to the point where I was ready to take cake-decorating classes from Wilton, I decided to start Thus my cakes still do not look as good as they taste.

THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE by Alan Bradley is a completely fun romp of a mystery read. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith will just love the ever-so-precocious Flavia de Luce, who is aptly described as “an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, a taste for homicide and an obsession with delving into the forbidden past of her taciturn, widowed father.” It’s in stores on April 28th and is the number one pick for the Indie Next list from Independent Booksellers for May.

I also read THE HORSE BOY by Rupert Isaacson, which is reviewed this week by Barbara Bamberger Scott. It’s a moving and passionate memoir about the journey one family took to heal their autistic son Rowan by traveling to Mongolia where horses and shamans might work their magic. It’s just wonderful.

Also this week we have a review of TRIPLE CROSS by Mark T. Sullivan. It's been a while since his last book, but this one is so wickedly timely as it has ties to the economy with a story set in a ski lodge in Montana where the wealthiest men in the world have gathered to celebrate the holidays with their families. A hostage situation erupts and from there the story reads, as our reviewer Joe Hartlaub says, like “Die Hard at a ski resort.” I read it months ago, loved it and am thrilled to share it with you. Curious if a place like this exists? Then see this piece in The New Yorker.

A favorite author of mine is Philip Gulley. His memoir I LOVE YOU, MISS HUDDLESTON will remind you of the best parts of growing up. Our reviewer, Sally M. Tibbetts, agrees with just how special this coming-of-age book is, and she, like me, notes that readers will want to read all of Gulley’s books once they finish this one.

We are launching a new feature for John Sandford this week, whose new suspense/thriller novel, WICKED PREY, releases on May 12th. It is the 19th book in Sandford’s Prey series, which features the Twin Cities' crime-fighting Lucas Davenport. We have 10 copies of WICKED PREY 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, April 24th.

Also, if you are a fan of Lisa Jackson’s, please take a moment to read our advance readers’ responses to her latest book, MALICE. We also kick off our Mother’s Day Contest this week. Be sure to check out the 13 mom-perfect titles, and enter the contest to win a basket of books and mom-pampering treats. For the record, I still am waging a campaign for Mother’s Day WEEK!

Quiet weekend ahead…nothing like last weekend when my older son and I blasted up the 4x4 beach in his truck. At one point we were off-roading in puddles, and I was very happy to learn his car could plow through 20 inches of water. I also was glad I remembered the demonstration of how it would not roll even when it was on its side at 45 degrees. That came in handy as we dropped off the “shelf” of sand that was about three feet high headed for the hardpacked sand nearer to the ocean. I wish we had this on video!

Next Friday I travel to LA for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I will be at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood Friday night for their annual Mystery Author event and then racing around the UCLA campus Saturday and Sunday. If you plan to attend, let me know. I would love to catch up with you. Read on....

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Lisa Scottoline, Author of LOOK AGAIN
Lisa Scottoline, best known for her series featuring attorney Benedetta Rosato, ventures outside of the courtroom in her most recent release, LOOK AGAIN. In this interview with's Kate Ayers, Scottoline recalls an experience with her daughter that inspired the plot of her latest book, and expresses her hesitation over labeling her novels as legal thrillers. She also discusses how writing a weekly newspaper column has affected her approach to long fiction, muses on the roles women play in mysteries and thrillers, and gives details about her next installment in the Bennie Rosato series.

LOOK AGAIN by Lisa Scottoline (Thriller)
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. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

-Click here to read a review of LOOK AGAIN.
-Click here to read an excerpt from
Click here to read our interview with Lisa Scottoline. Talks to Sandra Dallas, Author of PRAYERS FOR SALE
Sandra Dallas's eighth and most recent novel, PRAYERS FOR SALE, chronicles the unlikely friendship between an 86-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl in 1930s Colorado. In this interview with's Terry Miller Shannon, Dallas traces the book's origin from a collection of short stories and likens writing books to patching together quilts. She also recalls her earliest attempt at writing fiction, shares details about her creative process, and discusses her next book, WHITER THAN SNOW.

PRAYERS FOR SALE by Sandra Dallas (Fiction)
In 1936, two women form a friendship in the Colorado mining town of Middle Swan. Hennie Comfort is 86, and reluctantly facing a move to live with her daughter in Iowa. But in the meantime, she shares her amazing life stories with a newcomer, 17-year-old bride Nit Spindle. The result: a warm and luminous patchwork quilt of a book that readers will not soon forget. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to read a review of PRAYERS FOR SALE.
-Click here to read an excerpt from PRAYERS FOR SALE.

Click here to read our interview with Sandra Dallas. Talks to Jilliane Hoffman, Author of PLEA OF INSANITY
As the bestselling author of the legal thrillers RETRIBUTION, LAST WITNESS and the newly released PLEA OF INSANITY, former state attorney and legal advisor Jilliane Hoffman has put her previous career to good use. In this interview with's Kate Ayers, Hoffman recalls what prompted her to write this latest novel about a man suffering from schizophrenia, and elaborates on court procedures and the difficulties of trying cases in which the defendant pleads not guilty by reason of insanity. She also gives insight into some of her main characters’ actions, shares her thoughts on why American legal thrillers are hugely popular overseas, and discusses her next release, THE PORTRAIT PAINTER.

PLEA OF INSANITY by Jilliane Hoffman (Legal Thriller)
A prominent citizen murders his family and then enters a plea of insanity. Can attorney Julia Vacanti effectively prosecute the case against this man for his heinous crimes? First, she may have to put aside her personal demons coming back after half a lifetime to haunt her. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

-Click here to read a review of PLEA OF INSANITY.
-Click here to read an excerpt from PLEA OF INSANITY.

Click here to read our interview with Jilliane Hoffman.

Announcing the Fourth Annual Mother's Day Contest: Books Mom Will Love
Mother’s Day is a time to recognize the women who raised and nurtured us. Why not brighten their special day with a great book? From April 17th through May 1st, readers will have the chance to win one of our five Mother’s Day Gift Baskets filled with goodies Mom will just love, as well as one copy of ALL 13 of our featured books. With titles that are moving, uplifting, humorous and informative, look no further than here for the perfect gift for Mom.

Our featured Mother’s Day titles are:

-BAD MOTHER: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman
-THE DIARY by Eileen Goudge
-FLOWERS ON MAIN: A Chesapeake Shores Novel by Sherryl Woods
-THE GIRLS FROM AMES: A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow
-HEART AND SOUL by Maeve Binchy
-PRAYERS FOR SALE by Sandra Dallas
-STERN MEN by Elizabeth Gilbert
-TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith
-TIME IS A RIVER by Mary Alice Monroe

Click here to read all the contest details.

Author Talk: Mark T. Sullivan, Author of TRIPLE CROSS

Inspired by both a ski vacation and the earliest indicators of the current U.S. economic crisis, Mark T. Sullivan's TRIPLE CROSS centers on the wealthy patrons of an exclusive resort who are taken hostage by terrorists and put on trial for crimes against humanity. In this interview, Sullivan discusses the kind of research he performed to create the very realistic financial scenarios portrayed in the book, and sheds light on his decision to make three teenage triplets the heroes of the story. He also describes how his previous career as an investigative reporter helped to hone his skills as a novelist, explains why mysteries and thrillers are his genre of choice, and shares details about two projects currently in the works.

TRIPLE CROSS by Mark T. Sullivan (Thriller)
It’s New Year’s Eve at the Jefferson Club, a luxurious private ski resort in the mountains of southwestern Montana. Seven of the world’s wealthiest men and a U.S. Senator are among the guests gathered in the ballroom of the club’s spectacular main lodge for a private party. At the stroke of midnight, a ruthless and well-armed militia attacks the club. These self-described anti-globalists intend to put the wealthy patrons of the club on trial for crimes against humanity, live on the Internet for all the world to see. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of TRIPLE CROSS.
-Visit Mark T. Sullivan’s official website,


Click here to read an interview with Mark T. Sullivan.

Now in Stores: BONEMAN'S DAUGHTERS by Ted Dekker
BONEMAN’S DAUGHTERS by Ted Dekker (Thriller)
Sent to Fallujah and captured by insurgents, military intelligence officer Ryan Evans is asked to kill children not unlike his own. The method: a meticulous, excruciating death by broken bones that his captor has forced him to learn. Returning home after the ordeal, a new crisis awaits. A serial killer is on the loose, and his method of killing is the same. Ryan becomes a prime suspect, which isn't even the worst of his problems: Ryan's daughter is BoneMan's latest desire. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Click here to read a review of BONEMAN'S DAUGHTERS.

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: John Sandford, Author of WICKED PREY

For 20 years, John Sandford’s books have been beloved for their “ingenious plots, vivid characters, crisp dialogue and endless surprises” (The Washington Post). Sandford is the author of 19 Prey novels and eight other books, including, most recently, HEAT LIGHTNING. In WICKED PREY, his newest Prey thriller releasing on May 12th, Lucas Davenport faces danger on multiple fronts when the Republican National Convention comes to St. Paul.

We have 10 copies of WICKED PREY 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, April 24th.

-Click here to read John Sandford’s bio.
-Visit John Sandford’s official website,

More about WICKED PREY:
Danger stalks Lucas Davenport at work and all too close to home, in the superlative new thriller by the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

The Republicans are coming to St. Paul for their convention. Crashing the party are a few hard cases the police would rather stayed away, including a crew of professional stickup men who’ve spotted several lucrative opportunities. All that’s headache enough for Lucas Davenport --- but what’s about to hit him is even worse.


Click here to read more about John Sandford and WICKED PREY.

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 a second 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 a second 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.

Now Available in Paperback: THE SUGAR QUEEN by Sarah Addison Allen
THE SUGAR QUEEN by Sarah Addison Allen (Fiction)
In this irresistible novel, Sarah Addison Allen, author of the New York Times bestseller GARDEN SPELLS tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets --- and secret passions --- are about to change her life forever.

Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis --- and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands.

-Click here to read more about THE SUGAR QUEEN.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE SUGAR QUEEN.

Visit Sarah Addison Allen's official website,

What's New on has been updated with exclusive new content, including an interview with Gene Luen Yang (AMERICAN BORN CHINESE) and Derek Kirk Kim (SAME DIFFERENCE), both of whom discuss their new book, THE ETERNAL SMILE. Other interviews include punk-rock cartoonist Mitch Clem and graphic memoirist Ariel Schrag, who discuss their latest works and what comes next for them. Plus, go behind the scenes to watch the creation of the art for one of the hottest comics miniseries today, City of Dust. The artists behind this book share their creative process just for our readers. Also, artist and writer Jeffrey Brown asks if we are in a graphic novel bubble, and what happens when it implodes. Plus, we have the latest reviews and comics and manga-related news for graphic novel readers of all stripes.

Click here to visit'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 link 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
CURSED: A Regan Reilly Mystery by Carol Higgins Clark (Mystery)
Regan Reilly leaves her home in New York City and heads back to her old stomping grounds in Los Angeles to help her friend and former neighbor, Abigail, track down a wayward boyfriend who has absconded with Abigail's heart and, more importantly, $100,000 of Abigail’s money. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

I LOVE YOU, MISS HUDDLESTON: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood by Philip Gulley (Memoir)
In I LOVE YOU, MISS HUDDLESTON, readers are transported to 1970s Danville, Indiana, the everyone-knows-your-business town where Philip Gulley still lives today, to witness the uproarious story of Gulley's young life, including his infatuation with his sixth-grade teacher, his dalliance with sin --- eating meat on Friday and inappropriate activities with a mannequin named Ginger --- and his checkered start with organized religion. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

CLOSING TIME: A Memoir by Joe Queenan (Memoir)
This is the kind of memoir only a critic and humorist with the skill of a Joe Queenan could write. CLOSING TIME is a painfully honest, savagely funny, wise and ultimately moving story of growing up in Philadelphia in the 1950s and ’60s while outgrowing life in the home of a brutal, alcoholic father. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

GENGHIS: BONES OF THE HILLS by Conn Iggulden (Historical Fiction)
In the third installment of Conn Iggulden’s Genghis Khan series, the Mongol conqueror, stalked by enemies seen and unseen and plagued by a divided family, leads a sprawling force of horsemen beyond the realm of their known world. He will bring a storm to Arab lands and face the armies of the shah in all their strength. Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds.

NIGHTWALKER by Heather Graham (Paranormal Romantic Suspense)
Jessy Sparhawk is a Vegas showgirl, but doesn't spend much time on the casino floor. The night she decides to play becomes one she won't soon forget. She finds herself under a dead man, dodging a ghost, and trying not to fall in love with a private investigator. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

FLIPPING OUT: A Lomax & Biggs Mystery by Marshall Karp (Mystery)
Homicide detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs return in their third outing, following THE RABBIT FACTORY and BLOODTHIRSTY. This time, the wise guy detectives find themselves in the cut-throat world of high-end Los Angeles real estate with a multiple murder that hits close to home (pun completely intended). Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE HORSE BOY: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson (Memoir)
When his son Rowan was diagnosed with autism, Rupert Isaacson was afraid he might never be able to communicate with his child. But when he rode their neighbor's horse with Rowan, Rowan improved immeasurably. He was struck with a crazy idea: why not take Rowan to Mongolia, the one place in the world where horses and shamanic healing intersected? THE HORSE BOY is the dramatic and heartwarming story of that impossible adventure. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth

Outside of a formal book club setting, would you enjoy the experience of meeting with people to discuss books you recently have read?

Yes, I already do this.
Yes, this is of interest to me.
Not sure how I feel

-Click here to answer our poll.


Which books that you recently have read (name up to three) would you like to discuss with others?

-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 ADMISSION by Jean Hanff Korelitz, FIRST FAMILY by David Baldacci and TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on May 1st 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.

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