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August 14, 2009 Newsletter August 14, 2009
How Do You Pronounce That?

Whenever possible I like to get out to author readings in the city. Last night my older son and I went to see Jonathan Tropper’s standing room-only event for THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU. Jonathan read from parts of three chapters of the book, giving readers a version of a book reading based on the style of a movie trailer --- just some highlights. For the record, it worked. Since I enjoyed the humor in this book, during the Q&A I asked him if he gave a lot of thought to the comedic timing in his books. I will get to the answer in a moment, but first I must share my embarrassment. Unbeknownst to me for years I have been pronouncing "comedic" with the British affectation, with a “long e” sound instead of the American way with a “short e.” (And now I feel like an English teacher.) You can hear both versions here by clicking on the little flags at the top of this page.

And the answer to the question? He does not think about the humor when he is writing, but he does later when he is rewriting and editing. Getting the timing right on everything, from the jokes to the dialogue, really matters. I also asked if he laughs when he is writing. He said no, he cries. He confirmed what many authors share over and over, that writing is not easy and suggested that prospective authors consider another career. We are glad he didn't. It was a fun evening.

Next Tuesday night Greg and I are headed back to that Barnes & Noble store on Broadway and 82nd Street to see Joseph Finder, whose much anticipated first book in his Nick Heller series, VANISHED, will be in stores that day. Readers are in for a real treat with it. You want to start this series NOW with the first book. We will have our review (okay, I peeked and it's a total rave) and an interview with Joe next week. We have a video where I interview Joe on the site now, which you can watch here. We had a lot of fun shooting that day since I had read the manuscript and had a number of questions for him about his new character, Nick Heller, and the series, which he answered. Authors, unlike politicians, usually do answer the questions they are asked! Happy viewing!

I really enjoyed Linwood Barclay's FEAR THE WORST that we are bringing you this week. I have had the pleasure of spending time with Linwood at a number of conventions. The way he drops scenes from everyday life into books, like the scene at the start of this book where he is making breakfast, makes me wonder what he really was thinking when we sat across the table eating a crabcake sandwich in Baltimore last year. Was there a plot brewing?

Last weekend a news broadcast on NBC talked about vinyl records returning to popularity. That inspired me to write a blog piece about this trend as publishing races to digitize everything, which you can read here. Alex, one of our staffers who is in his 20s, said he has been buying records for the past few years and he listens to them more than his iPod these days, which is interesting.

I have an iPod that I listen to in hotels and on airplanes. I usually work best in quiet or with music I really know well. For me, unlike other electronics, my iPod has not become a habit, but rather a novelty. I often wonder if eReaders like the Kindle and the Sony eReader will become habits or novelties. It will be interesting to watch this. I have an entire attic filled with my electronic hobbies through the years. My favorite relics are the cell phone that was the size of a small pocketbook and the Astral Tunes player that was a predecessor to the Walkman.

Oddly I still have no desire here for a Kindle. There is something about flipping the pages that works for me. I watched a man on the flight back from San Diego telling the woman across the aisle all about his Kindle. One thing. The battery had died and he did not have a charger, so he did a lot of talking ABOUT it, but not a lot of time reading it. As I read my book he was reading the Continental magazine. I think he had a long five-hour flight! And I who forget to charge everything all the time and have chargers in the cars, my travel briefcase, the office and home just know this would be me if I relied on anything to be plugged in to read.

Our Beach Bag of Books Contest continues this week with four terrific selections that include
THE CONDITION by Jennifer Haigh, DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS?: Questions You’d Ask a Medium If You Had the Chance by Concetta Bertoldi, JENNIFER JOHNSON IS SICK OF BEING SINGLE by Heather McElhatton and THE SEAMSTRESS by Frances de Pontes Peebles. This is our final Beach Bag Contest of the summer, so enter now for this last opportunity to win some great summer reading and beachy items!

We are launching a new spotlight feature for Shandi Mitchell, whose debut novel, UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY, will be out on September 8th. Set in the 1930s, the author weaves a beautiful story of an immigrant family trying to build a new life in the Canadian prairieland. We have 10 copies 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, August 21st.

Our advance readers raved about Christopher Reich’s new novel, RULES OF VENGEANCE. You may read their responses to the book here. I love when our readers agree with us about books!

I spent most of last weekend in the hammock reading THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. Though I read a lot, there are always books that I “miss” and I am playing catchup on. This was one of them. Though I confess that it started slow for me, once all the players were in place it was one very quick read and I enjoyed it. Usually going into the weekend I know what I am going to read, but this weekend I do not have a plan. I am going to surf my shelves to see what's there. I am trying to figure out what I am in the mood to read, and I am sure that many of you know exactly what that is like!

My younger son has finished his summer reading except for the book for history class that he discovered he needs to read when he checked the school website. He has an interesting assignment for the advanced reading program he is doing. For three books that he read he has to write letters to the authors talking about their work, which I think is a really terrific idea. It's more fun to write Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. rather than wax prosaically to the teacher. I will try to sneak a peek at these!

Here's to hammocks, pool chairs, rafts, grilling and all things summer. May they find a way into your weekend. Have a great week. Read on!

Carol Fitzgerald (


Click here to read the Blog. Talks to Linwood Barclay, Author of FEAR THE WORST
Linwood Barclay is the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including TOO CLOSE TO HOME and NO TIME FOR GOODBYE, a #1 bestseller in Britain. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Barclay explains what sets his latest effort, FEAR THE WORST, apart from his earlier works of fiction and shares the surprising discovery he made while researching the topic of human trafficking, which plays an important role in the book's plot. He also compares and contrasts being an author with his previous jobs as a newspaper columnist and editor, names the biggest influence on his career, and muses on what he might be doing if he weren't writing.

FEAR THE WORST by Linwood Barclay (Thriller)
In Linwood Barclay's riveting new thriller, an ordinary man's desperate search for his daughter leads him into a dark world of corruption, exploitation and murder. Sometimes the people you think you know best are the ones harboring the biggest secrets. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

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

Click here to read our interview with Linwood Barclay.

Now in Stores: RHINO RANCH by Larry McMurtry
RHINO RANCH by Larry McMurtry (Fiction)
Larry McMurtry has chronicled the life of Duane Moore in five books over five decades. RHINO RANCH marks the conclusion of this iconic saga. Readers can have one final visit with Moore and the inhabitants of Thalia, Texas, in a humorous and often touching novel that reminds us all that our human frailties are bountiful. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

-Click here to browse inside RHINO RANCH.

Click here to read a review of RHINO RANCH.

Our Summer Beach Bag Contest: Spotlight This Week on Great Summer Titles from HarperCollins Publishers
Whether your "beach" is on sand, your backyard deck or a grassy meadow in the country, the summer months mean it's time for "beach reading." is celebrating the lazy days of summer reading with our Fifth Annual Beach Bag of Books feature and contests.

During select weeks from May 22nd through September 4th, a different title or collection of titles will be featured with a contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with the featured book(s) and summertime essentials. Five FABULOUS beach bags will be given away each week, as well as five copies of the featured book(s) to additional winners.

This week we’re spotlighting a collection of four titles from HarperCollins Publishers, including THE CONDITION by Jennifer Haigh, DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS?: Questions You’d Ask a Medium If You Had the Chance by Concetta Bertoldi, JENNIFER JOHNSON IS SICK OF BEING SINGLE by Heather McElhatton and THE SEAMSTRESS by Frances de Pontes Peebles. In a green floral-patterned bag, winners will find a two-toned green towel, tie-dye flip-flops, a bottle of H20+ Apricot-Peche Shower and Bath Treatment, colorful reusable ice cubes to add flair to summer drinks, orange-flavored Tic Tacs, an inflatable raft for floating while reading and flip-flop shaped beach and lawn stakes to hold your towel in place, as well as a copy of THE CONDITION, DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS?, JENNIFER JOHNSON IS SICK OF BEING SINGLE and THE SEAMSTRESS. We have five to give away, as well as five additional prizes of copies of THE CONDITION, DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS?, JENNIFER JOHNSON IS SICK OF BEING SINGLE and THE SEAMSTRESS.

To enter, fill out this form and answer ONE of the following questions by Thursday, August 20th at 11:59PM.

Question for THE CONDITION:
Who is “The Captain’s House” named after?
You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.

Question for
According to the author, how do people communicate with one another on the Other Side?

You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.

Question for
How does the narrator feel about online dating?

You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.

Question for THE SEAMSTRESS:
What is the name of Emilia’s son?

You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.

THE CONDITION by Jennifer Haigh (Fiction)
THE CONDITION tells the story of the McKotches, a proper New England family that comes apart during one fateful summer. Compassionate yet unflinchingly honest, witty and almost painfully astute, Jennifer Haigh’s novel explores the power of family mythologies --- the self-delusions, denials and inescapable truths that forever bind fathers and mothers and siblings.

-Read more about Jennifer Haigh and THE CONDITION here.

DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS? Questions You’d Ask a Medium If You Had the Chance by Concetta Bertoldi (Occultism)
Concetta Bertoldi has been communicating with the "Other Side" since childhood. In her previous book, the bestselling DO DEAD PEOPLE WATCH YOU SHOWER?, she addressed questions about the afterlife that ranged from the poignant to the provocative. Now she returns with DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS?, a second volume of intriguing observations about our beloved deceased.

-Read more about Concetta Bertoldi and DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS? here.

Everyone around Jennifer Johnson is getting married, while she's still single and stuck writing ad copy about men's dress socks. Launched on a humiliating and hilarious quest to find Prince Charming at any cost --- including agonizing online dates, diet-clinic cults, drag-queen fights, and a debilitating addiction to Cinnabon icing, JENNIFER JOHNSON is a cautionary tale about getting what you want --- and how that may be the worst thing to happen to you.

-Read more about Heather McElhatton and JENNIFER JOHNSON IS SICK OF BEING SINGLE here.

THE SEAMSTRESS by Frances de Pontes Peebles (Fiction)
As seamstresses, the orphaned sisters Emília and Luzia dos Santos know how to cut, how to mend and how to conceal. Emília dreams of falling in love and escaping to the city. Luzia also longs to escape their little town, where residents view her deformed arm with suspicion. But when Luzia is abducted by a group of vigilantes called cangaceiros, the sisters’ quiet lives diverge in ways they never imagined.

-Read more about Frances de Pontes Peebles and THE SEAMSTRESS here.

Click here to read all the details of our Summer Beach Bag Contest.

Author Talk: Lev Grossman, Author of THE MAGICIANS
Described as a “Harry Potter for adults," Lev Grossman's third and most recent release is THE MAGICIANS, a coming-of-age novel about a young man who discovers modern magic in the real world. In this interview, Grossman characterizes his book as an homage to fantasy and explains his motivations behind writing a story in which contemporary life intersects with fiction. He also discusses how his English-professor parents influenced his approach to literature and reflects on the difference between classic fantasy writers like C. S. Lewis and contemporary authors like J. K. Rowling and Philip Pullman.

THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman (Fantasy)
In THE MAGICIANS, a cadre of young wizards --- and the fantasy genre itself --- learn to live in the real world. This fabulously rendered novel manages to completely ensnare readers by their escapist tendencies, then show how our dreams of happiness and magic never quite live up to the real thing. Reviewed by Max Falkowitz.

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

Click here to read an interview with Lev Grossman.

New Featured One to Watch Author: Shandi Mitchell, Author of UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY
Shandi Mitchell is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker and screenwriter. In her remarkable debut, UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY, she crafts a boldly imagined, powerful novel of one family’s struggle to survive. This title will be available in stores on September 8th.

We have 10 advance copies of UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY 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, August 21st.

-Click here to read an excerpt from UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY.
-Click here to read Shandi Mitchell’s bio.
-Click here to read more about Shandi Mitchell at
-Click here to watch a video in which Shandi Mitchell discusses UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY.

Building to an unforgettable climax, this is the story of a 1930s immigrant family trying to survive the harsh Canadian prairies, where small and innocent acts have enormous and catastrophic consequences. From a passionate new voice in the world of literary fiction, UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY is a tribute to the resiliency of the human spirit told with great sensitivity and cinematic aplomb.

Click here to read more about Shandi Mitchell and UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Joseph Finder, Author of VANISHED
Joseph Finder is the author of many highly acclaimed thrillers, most recently the New York Times bestsellers POWER PLAY, KILLER INSTINCT and COMPANY MAN. With his forthcoming novel VANISHED, which will be available in stores on August 18th, Finder launches a four-book series featuring corporate security specialist Nick Heller. Trained in the Special Forces, Nick is a high-powered intelligence investigator --- exposing secrets that powerful people would rather keep hidden.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from VANISHED.
-Click here to read Joseph Finder’s bio.
-Click here to see Joseph Finder's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for VANISHED.
-Visit Joseph Finder’s official website,
-Click here to watch a video in which Joseph Finder discusses VANISHED.
-Visit to watch additional videos.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about VANISHED:
Nick Heller is tough, smart and stubborn. And in his line of work, it's essential. Nick is a high-powered intelligence investigator --- exposing secrets that powerful people would rather keep hidden.

When Nick’s brother disappears without a trace --- and Nick’s favorite nephew pleads for his help --- Nick’s search sets him on a collision course with one of the most powerful corporations in the world --- and they will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.

Click here to read more about Joseph Finder and VANISHED.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Brandon Massey, Author of CORNERED
Though established as an author and editor of horror and supernatural fiction, Brandon Massey’s first traditional thriller novel, DON'T EVER TELL, was widely met with critical acclaim when it was published in 2008. In CORNERED, his latest novel now available in stores, a chance encounter brings a family man face to face with a dark past he’d long since left behind --- and now those he loves may be in grave danger.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from CORNERED.
-Click here to read Brandon Massey’s bio.
-Click here to see Brandon Massey's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for CORNERED.
-Visit Brandon Massey’s official website,
-Read more about CORNERED here.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about CORNERED:
In the tradition of Stephen King comes a bone-chilling new thriller --- CORNERED from award-winning master of suspense Brandon Massey --- about a man who will stop at nothing to ruin the life of his childhood best friend.

“The talented Mr. Massey has the rare knack of grabbing the reader early and not letting go.” --John Lutz, New York Times bestselling author

“Massey starts this thriller with a bang.” --Publishers Weekly
Click here to read more about Brandon Massey and CORNERED.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Mary Jane Clark, Author of DYING FOR MERCY

New York Times bestselling author Mary Jane Clark has written 12 novels, all set in the high-stakes world of broadcast journalism. Her new novel, DYING FOR MERCY, is now available in stores. When death shatters the serenity of a wealthy town, the co-host of the country's premier morning television show is on the scene. As she begins searching for the truth, it becomes apparent that someone has conceived a plan to expose the sins of the past involving some of the town's most revered citizens.

-Click here to read a review of DYING FOR MERCY.
-Click here to read a third excerpt from DYING FOR MERCY.
-Click here to read our interview with Mary Jane Clark.
-Click here to read Mary Jane Clark's bio.
-Click here to see Mary Jane Clark's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for DYING FOR MERCY.
-Visit Mary Jane Clark's official website,
-Click here to watch a trailer for DYING FOR MERCY.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

When death shatters the serenity of the exclusive moneyed enclave of Tuxedo Park, New York, Eliza Blake, co-host of a television show, is on the scene. While attending a lavish gala at her friends' estate, Pentimento, Eliza's host is found dead.

Determined to find out the truth, Eliza and her colleagues discover that Pentimento holds the key. It becomes clear that no amount of wealth or privilege will keep the residents of Tuxedo Park safe.


Click here to read more about Mary Jane Clark and DYING FOR MERCY.

Now in Stores: THE HOPE OF REFUGE by Cindy Woodsmall

THE HOPE OF REFUGE: An Ada's House Novel by Cindy Woodsmall (Fiction)
New Yorker Cara Moore has nothing and is on the run. Young Amish woman Deborah Mast has everything and is on her way to the wedding altar. When their lives collide, neither one will be the same. Can the humility and faith of Ada save either of them?


Click here to read more about Cindy Woodsmall and THE HOPE OF REFUGE.

The and 2009 Reader Surveys --- Give Us Your Input and Win a Free Book!

For those of you with teens or kids in your households or who have grandchildren, library patrons or friends, we have surveys running right now on and The 2009 Reader Survey is open until August 31st, and 775 teens will have the chance to win one of the 27 titles being given away if they complete the survey. The 2009 Reader Survey is open until September 15th, and 1,000 readers will have the chance to read one of 24 titles being given away.

If you know other readers who may be interested in responding to these surveys, may we ask you to forward these links to them? The more voices that are heard for this, the better!

-Click here to participate in the 2009 Reader Survey.
-Click here to participate in the 2009 Reader Survey.


What's New This Month on

With more than 2,700 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:

-The Time Traveler's Wife
-Library Resources for Book Clubs

-Hannah Tinti: Wishful Thinking
-Freshmen Summer Reading 2009
-JULIE & JULIA Spices Up the Big Screen
-Tune in Today to Hear Frances de Pontes Peebles

The following guides are now available on

THE CONFESSIONS OF EDWARD DAY by Valerie Martin: Valerie Martin brilliantly recreates the theater world of 1970s and 1980s New York and plays with the boundary between reality and performance amongst a group of thespians.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF LOVE by Glenda Burgess: A poignant exploration of the depths of the human heart and our ability to love and to trust no matter the obstacles.
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larsson: In the electrifying follow-up to the bestselling THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, Lisbeth Salander, the troubled genius hacker, is drawn into a murderous hunt.
GOOD-BYE AND AMEN by Beth Gutcheon: The follow-up to the critically acclaimed novel LEEWAY COTTAGE follows the newest generation of the Moss family as they gather at their summer home in Maine.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A PROBLEM?: Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoumi: Moustafa Bayoumi offers a glimpse into the often-ignored struggles a group of twenty-something Arab Americans face.
IN THE HEART OF THE CANYON by Elisabeth Hyde: From the author of THE ABORTIONIST'S DAUGHTER, a novel about a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that changes the lives of everyone on board.
ISRAEL IS REAL: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and Its History by Rich Cohen: Breaking through the heated polemics and intractable politics, ISRAEL IS REAL is a fresh voice, a tale of people and ideas, of the background of present-day Israel. It’s a new approach to a story we thought we knew.
LABOR DAY by Joyce Maynard: Acclaimed author Joyce Maynard weaves a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence and devastating treachery seen through the eyes of a young teenage boy.
THE LACE READER by Brunonia Barry: THE LACE READER is a mesmerizing tale that spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies and half-truths.
THE NIGHT COUNTER by Alia Yunis: Shifting between the U.S. and the Middle East, first-time novelist Alia Yunis pieces together four generations of family secrets in this hilarious, heartwarming debut that creates a vibrant mosaic of modern Arab American life.
SOUTH OF BROAD by Pat Conroy: The one and only Pat Conroy returns with a big, sprawling novel that is a love letter to Charleston and an ode to lifelong friendship.
THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC by Richard Russo: Richard Russo tells the story of a marriage and all the other ties that bind, from parents and in-laws to children and the promises of youth.
TWO BROTHERS: One North, One South by David H. Jones: Navigated by Walt Whitman and based on real people and events, TWO BROTHERS: One North, One South is the quintessential story of the Civil War.
THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS: In the Court of Elizabeth I by Jeane Westin: The story of Elizabeth I, as it’s never been told before --- through the eyes of two ladies-in-waiting closest to her…
WAIT UNTIL TWILIGHT by Sang Pak: Sang Pak's WAIT UNTIL TWILIGHT is a coming-of-age story that explores the complex darkness infecting a damaged psyche in a small Southern town.
THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE by Heather Gudenkauf: Masterfully written and beautifully told, Heather Gudenkauf’s debut is a stunning novel of family devotion, honesty and regret that will linger long after the last page is turned.
THE WIDOW'S SEASON by Laura Brodie: A lyrical, mysterious novel about a young, seemingly haunted, widow, inspired by Renaissance plays where husbands faked their deaths in order to spy on their wives.
WORLDWEAVERS: Cybermage by Alma Alexander: When Thea Winthrop and her friends are called in by the Federal Bureau of Magic to unlock a mysterious cube left behind by Nikola Tesla, they find themselves in a race against time.
WWW.QUEENMOTORHOME.COM by Patt Fero: WWW.QUEENMOTORHOME.COM is a story about two baby boomer-aged best friends who run away from home in a motor home.

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

DECEMBER by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop
THE GARGOYLE by Andrew Davidson
THE GOOD THIEF by Hannah Tinti
THE HOUSE AT SUGAR BEACH: In Search of a Lost African Childhood by Helene Cooper
JULY AND AUGUST by Nancy Clark
THE SEAMSTRESS by Frances de Pontes Peebles
THE SISTER by Poppy Adams
SO LONG AT THE FAIR by Christina Schwarz

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

THE BELIEVER by Ann H. Gabhart: A romantic story of two people caught up in the storms of life.
THE HOPE OF REFUGE: An Ada's House Novel by Cindy Woodsmall: Cara and her daughter must run to escape a deadly threat. Can they find refuge in an Amish community with complex, unspoken ties to her family history?
JUNE BUG by Chris Fabry: Publishers Weekly calls JUNE BUG “a lovely, moving, present-day account of sacrifice.”
THE JUSTICE GAME by Randy Singer: In his new legal thriller, Randy Singer explores the unseen forces controlling two lawyers involved in a lawsuit against a gun company.

THE SACRED CIPHER by Terry Brennan: More historically and biblically accurate than THE DA VINCI CODE and just as adventurous as an Indiana Jones movie, THE SACRED CIPHER draws readers into a world of ancient secrets and international escapades.
SWEET WATERS: An Otter Bay Novel by Julie Carobini: After returning to her hometown, a young woman begins to uncover shocking secrets about why her family left this heaven on earth all those years ago.
VALLEY OF THE SHADOW by Tom Pawlik: In this sequel to the award-winning novel, VANISH, Tom Pawlik explores the murky world between life and death, where your worst fears can become reality.

Click here to visit

This Week's Reviews
THE TRAFFICKERS: A Badge of Honor Novel by W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (Thriller)
Homicide Sergeant Matthew Payne is used to murder, but lately there’s been an awful lot of it in Philadelphia. A gangland shooting in a popular tourist location has left six dead, most of them innocent bystanders, and days later the body of a headless Latina turns up in the Schuykill River. Everybody assumes they’re not related, but Payne can’t shake the hunch that there’s something more to it. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE BRIDE’S FAREWELL by Meg Rosoff (Fiction)
Continuing to redefine the boundaries between fiction for adults and teens, Meg Rosoff --- author of the internationally bestselling novel HOW I LIVE NOW --- goes back in time to explore one young woman’s attempts to find her place in an unfriendly world. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

RAVENS by George Dawes Green (Psychological Suspense)
When Shaw and Romeo pull up at a convenience store in Georgia, their only thought is to fix a leaky tire and be on their way again to Florida. But this happens to be the store from which a $318-million Jackpot ticket has just been sold. When a clerk accidentally reveals to Shaw the identity of the winning family, he hatches a ferociously audacious scheme: He and Romeo will squeeze the family for half their prize. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE BIRTHING HOUSE by Christopher Ransom (Paranormal Thriller)
A man and his wife hope for a fresh start, but their new house at 818 Heritage is not the kind of place to let its owners be at peace. In fact, it has all sorts of nasty surprises in store for the Harrisons. The previous residents escaped with their lives --- mostly --- but will the new folks have the same luck? Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

ONCE ON A MOONLESS NIGHT by Dai Sijie (Fiction)
Some books are easy to describe. You start at the beginning, discuss the plot, main characters and conflict, and avoid revealing any major surprises to would-be readers. But ONCE ON A MOONLESS NIGHT, the latest from BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS author Dai Sijie, is not so easy to write about. With shifting points of view, a barely linear progression of action, and stories within stories, this novel is complex and highly literary. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

MIND SCRAMBLER: A John Ceepak Mystery by Chris Grabenstein (Mystery)
John Ceepak and Danny Boyle are making the rounds in Atlantic City when Danny runs into his former crush, Katie. She’s working for a magician named Rock, and her life seems to be in better order than Boyle could have hoped for. But Ceepak and Boyle soon find themselves on another case when Katie is found strangled to death. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

WHERE THE DEAD LAY by David Levien (Thriller)
After the sudden disappearance of two high-priced detectives, former Indianapolis cop Frank Behr --- the brooding private investigator introduced in David Levien’s nationally acclaimed novel CITY OF THE SUN --- is pulled into a case that is harrowing, relentless and, ultimately, personal. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: Lengthy Books


Does the length of a book ever intimidate you?

No, I love long books.
Yes, I shy away from long books.
The length of a book has no effect on me.
I am not sure how I feel.

-Click here to answer our poll.


Which long book would you recommend?

-Click here to answer our question.


Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can Win THREE Books!
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 THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper, VANISHED by Joseph Finder and THE WHITE QUEEN by Philippa Gregory. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on August 28th 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 August 31, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: RHINO RANCH by Larry McMurtry, SMASH CUT by Sandra Brown, THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC by Richard Russo, THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper and VANISHED by Joseph Finder. Patricia from Yuba City, CA was last month's newsletter winner. She won THE BEST OF TIMES by Penny Vincenzi, BLACK HILLS by Nora Roberts, THE DEFECTOR by Daniel Silva, LABOR DAY by Joyce Maynard and TWENTIES GIRL by Sophie Kinsella.

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

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