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August 21, 2009 Newsletter August 21, 2009
Flying Through Books…Authors We Love…And So Long Frank Lloyd Wright

Last weekend the weather was gorgeous. Early Saturday morning I headed outside with OXYGEN, a novel by Carol Cassella, and plunked myself down in the hammock. When I looked up a few hours later I was on page 200. I love books that tug me into the story like that. OXYGEN is the story of an anesthesiologist who has something go deadly wrong with a patient during what seems like a routine surgery. It then moves on to explore the impact and aftermath that follows.

Cassella herself is an anesthesiologist, so the work is very informed about the person behind the mask. But I am grateful to her that it never was "showy," meaning that there are not five pages of "how smart I am" copy where the author impresses the reader with his or her knowledge. I call those the "flip" pages since rarely am I mesmerized by overtly deep explanations or observations in this vein. OXYGEN instead was infused with refreshingly great informative prose. Cassella wrote a blog piece for us for, and we also have a review of OXYGEN and a discussion guide for it. I look forward to reading more from Cassella.

During my bookish travel trips in July, I had the pleasure of meeting Hank Phillippi Ryan at ThrillerFest and then had the chance to spend some more time with her at the Romance Writers of America Conference. Talking to her made me want to read her latest book, FACE TIME, which is now in stores. Like Hank (who has 26 Emmys), her protagonist, Charlotte McNally, is in the news business in Boston. (Looking back I feel this was something like my "career exploration through novels" weekend.) I floated in the pool reading this one on Sunday (there will be no pictures of that) and thoroughly enjoyed it. FACE TIME is the middle book in a series that Hank's publisher is releasing this summer in a three-month sequence of PRIME TIME, FACE TIME and AIR TIME, which all are coming out between July and September. Lovely to discover Hank, and thus I am glad I "left the house" and traveled in July.

And when talking about authors who also know their way around the newsroom, we love Mary Jane Clark, who, as you know, we have been featuring here on with her new book DYING FOR MERCY. She recently spoke with CBS "Early Show" White House producer BJ D'Elia, who also appears as a character in the book. Click here to watch the interview.

Tuesday night I went to see Joseph Finder's bookstore event for the release of VANISHED, his new thriller. This time my sons ---- as well as Erin Quinn and Sunil Kumar from our office ---- joined me for this event. We at have been fans of Joe's since PARANOIA back in 2004. We were part of a standing-room only audience where there were some great questions about his new Nick Heller series. We have a terrific interview with Joe this week. By the way, I loved his answer when we ask him to speculate about what he thinks will be the biggest communications advances in the next five years. And we have Joe Hartlaub's review where he says, "Finder has been a marvel from the very start of his writing career, and VANISHED takes him to new heights. It is a sharp, intricate thriller, shot through with memorable characters both good and bad, and wonderfully told from beginning to end. And about that 'end': the last 50 pages or so, in which everything is made clear, contains some of the best writing you will read this year." All I can say is, I agree.

Joe has always been one to come up with innovative ideas to promote his books, so I was intrigued to see his Twitter Book Tour where he was guided by Bethanne Patrick, who is known as the Book Maven. You can see the complete conversation here.

We are launching two new features this week. Our first shines the spotlight on Beverly Barton, an author with whom many of you may be familiar. Her new romantic suspense novel, SILENT KILLER, will be available in stores on August 25th. 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 28th.

Next up is Alan Jacobson, whose 2008 novel THE 7th VICTIM, was named to Library Journal's "Best Books of the Year" list. In CRUSH, THE 7th VICTIM's heroine and renowned FBI profiler Karen Vail returns in an explosive thriller set against the backdrop of California's wine country. 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 28th.

Our advance readers of FEAR THE WORST by Linwood Barclay have submitted their responses to the book, which you can read here. And as you may remember, we recently held a special contest for LOVING A LOST LORD, the first title in Mary Jo Putney's new historical romance series. You can see our 10 finished copy winners here.

Tuesday afternoon I took my sons to the Guggenheim Museum to see the Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward exhibit, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the museum. I had been trying to get there since it opened in May, and since it was closing on Sunday, I left a desk full of work behind, flipped on my away message and headed uptown. I had spent time at Taliesin East and Taliesin West the year that LOVING FRANK by Nancy Horan came out, and the boys had been to Oak Park, so this exhibit enhanced all of our Wright experiences.

As we toured the museum I was surprised to see drawings for a large number of buildings that had been designed but never built, as well as a project that had been planned for Baghdad that I was unaware of. Behind me as I started the tour was a man who had worked at Fallingwater. He shared so much detail about the exhibit that I felt like we had a personal tour guide. I remarked how once again, when we got to the Taliesin East portion of the exhibit, there was no reference to the murder of Wright's mistress. Again the sanitized version of Taliesin being destroyed was given. I want to read T.C. Boyle's THE WOMEN, about the women in Wright's life.

My younger son is rather crazy about Legos. There are "structures" all over the house --- and even some floating in the pool --- and I seemingly cannot walk in his room without nailing the instep of my foot with a Lego piece. Thus, when his eyes lit up as he saw a Lego creation of Fallingwater when we made the proverbial bookstore stop, I took a deep breath and plunked down my credit card. Within two hours of getting home that night he had finished pawing through the pieces (a sound all too familiar in our house) and came downstairs to show me the completed structure. I am happy to report that he has remade this twice since then, so I was not looking at a project that had cost me $50 an hour. It has been amortized to something like $17 an hour.

My older son heads back to college on Tuesday as he is on the orientation committee, though he vows he will not be yelling, "We are FORDHAM." This year there is a lot less drama and trauma attached to his leaving, as instead of racing around shopping, we will be packing up the boxes that were hauled into the basement in June. It's much more civilized. Who knew? I still keep asking who among his five other suitemates has a microwave or a TV, and I have gotten no answers.

My plan for the weekend besides reading is to try to pick 10 books to take on vacation when we leave next weekend. I also am determined that the knitting project I have been working on since San Diego (the remake of a ruana that in its first go-round was knit up so big it looked like a coat) will be finished before we leave. Tune in next week to see my list and hopefully a ruana photo. (Before you get your fingers on keys to ask...a ruana is like a poncho.) Oh, one more thing. Television shows I have been addicted to --- "Nurse Jackie" and "Dexter" (which I JUST am getting to now; I know, I am slow.) Anyone else watching those?

Tuesday night I am going to a screening of Taking Woodstock. More on that next week! May the rain stay away this weekend...and read on...

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Joseph Finder, Author of VANISHED
New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder's latest novel, VANISHED, introduces readers to Nick Heller, a Special Forces-trained intelligence investigator commissioned by his 14-year-old nephew to find and rescue his estranged brother. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Finder discusses what sets his protagonist apart from those of his previous works and explains how his interest in family dynamics fueled the plot of this story. He also shares details on the book's companion comic, contemplates the future of communications technology, and reveals how he avoids giving in to distraction while writing.

VANISHED by Joseph Finder (Thriller)
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. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of VANISHED.
-Click here to read an excerpt from VANISHED.
-Visit Joseph Finder's official website,

Click here to read our interview with Joseph Finder.

Author Talk: Laura Caldwell, Author of the Izzy McNeil Trilogy
Laura Caldwell is the acclaimed author of such novels as BURNING THE MAP, A CLEAN SLATE and THE ROME AFFAIR. Her latest offering is a trilogy of thrillers --- RED HOT LIES, RED BLOODED MURDER and RED, WHITE & DEAD --- that released this summer in successive months, featuring entertainment lawyer Izzy McNeil. In this interview, Caldwell compares her own personality traits to that of her protagonist, and weighs the pros and cons of releasing the second and third installments so quickly after the first. She also explains why she had trouble publishing her first novel and shares some of the famous Chicago landmarks where events in the books take place.

RED, WHITE & DEAD: An Izzy McNeil Novel by Laura Caldwell (Mystery)
In the final installment of Laura Caldwell’s outstanding summer trilogy, Izzy McNeil is moonlighting as a private investigator and hot on the trail of one of Chicago's most notorious gangsters. When an unexpected run-in blows Izzy's cover, she is swept into an evil underworld where she definitely is not safe. That is until Izzy receives help from an unlikely source. Now she is racing from Chicago to Rome, all the while battling personal demons, Mafiosi killers and red hot emergency desires. Reviewed by Hillary Wagy.

-Click here to read a review of RED, WHITE & DEAD.

Click here to read an interview with Laura Caldwell.

Now in Stores: SOUTH OF BROAD by Pat Conroy
SOUTH OF BROAD by Pat Conroy (Fiction)
Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, SOUTH OF BROAD gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for SOUTH OF BROAD.

Click here to read more about SOUTH OF BROAD.

Now in Stores: INHERENT VICE by Thomas Pynchon
INHERENT VICE by Thomas Pynchon (Fiction)
It’s been a while since private eye Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer with whom she just happens to be in love. Doc soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions, in Thomas Pynchon’s new novel set at the tail end of the psychedelic ’60s in L.A. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Click here to read a review of INHERENT VICE.

New Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Beverly Barton, Author of SILENT KILLER
New York Times bestselling author Beverly Barton has written over 50 contemporary romance novels and is a two-time Maggie Award winner, a two-time National Readers’ Choice Award winner and the recipient of a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Adventure. In SILENT KILLER, her new romantic suspense novel releasing on August 25th, an Alabama town becomes the target of a serial killer on a quest for vengeance.

We have 10 advance copies of SILENT KILLER 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 28th.

-Click here to read Beverly Barton’s bio.
-Visit Beverly Barton’s official website,
-Click here to watch a trailer for SILENT KILLER.

SILENT KILLER is the searing new thriller from award-winning and national bestselling author Beverly Barton. A serial killer is at work --- one whose rage grows more vicious each day --- and in a town full of secrets, trusting the wrong person could be deadly.

Click here to read more about Beverly Barton and SILENT KILLER.

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Alan Jacobson, Author of CRUSH
Alan Jacobson is the national bestselling author of the critically acclaimed thriller THE 7th VICTIM, which was named to Library Journal’s “Best Books of the Year” list for 2008. With CRUSH, Jacobson again delivers an enthralling novel in which Karen Vail, the memorable heroine of THE 7th VICTIM, faces the most evil serial killer of her career. CRUSH will be available in stores on September 22nd.

We have 10 advance copies of CRUSH 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 28th.

-Click here to read Alan Jacobson’s bio.
-Visit Alan Jacobson’s official website,

More about CRUSH:
Fresh off the most challenging case of her career, THE 7th VICTIM heroine and renowned FBI profiler Karen Vail returns in an explosive thriller set against the backdrop of California’s wine country. Meticulously researched during years of work with the FBI profiling unit and extensive interviews with wine industry professionals, bestselling author Alan Jacobson delivers a high-velocity thriller featuring the kind of edge of-your-seat ending that inspired Nelson DeMille to call him “a hell of a writer.”

Click here to read more about Alan Jacobson and CRUSH.

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 third 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 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.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY.
-Click here to read Shandi Mitchell’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY.
-Click here to read more about Shandi Mitchell at
-Click here to watch a video in which Shandi Mitchell discusses UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

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.’s Summer Beach Bag Feature
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." has been 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 was featured with a contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with the featured book(s) and summertime essentials. Five FABULOUS beach bags were given away each week, as well as five copies of the featured book(s) to additional winners.

Although the contest period is over, please be sure to visit our Beach Bag of Books page for some great reading suggestions as the summer winds down.

-Click here to see our contest winners. (Please note that the winners of last week's collection of books from HarperCollins Publishers will be announced next week.)

Our featured Beach Bag titles are:

-CHOSEN TO DIE by Lisa Jackson
-THE COMPASS by Tammy Kling and John Spencer Ellis
-THE CONDITION by Jennifer Haigh
-DIAMONDHEAD by Patrick Robinson
-DO DEAD PEOPLE WALK THEIR DOGS?: Questions You'd Ask a Medium If You Had the Chance by Concetta Bertoldi
-DOMESTIC AFFAIRS by Eileen Goudge
-DRIFTWOOD SUMMER by Patti Callahan Henry
-THE EX-MRS. HEDGEFUND by Jill Kargman
-LOOSE GIRL: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen
-THE RICHEST SEASON by Maryann McFadden
-THE SEAMSTRESS by Frances de Pontes Peebles
-THE SHIMMER by David Morrell
-SUMMER BLOWOUT by Claire Cook
-SUMMER HOUSE by Nancy Thayer
-THE UNIT by Ninni Holmqvist

Click here to visit our Beach Bag of Books feature.

The and 2009 Reader Surveys --- Give Us Your Input and Enter to 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 on the Blog
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:

-Heather Gudenkauf: Nature and Novels
-Esther Bushell's Reading Suggestions
-Kris Radish: Slice of Life
-Joshua Henkin On Air
-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

For those of you who use RSS feeds to keep track of your favorite blogs, you can now add the blog to your list by clicking the link on the blog page.

Click here to read the Blog.

This Week's Reviews
A PLAGUE OF SECRETS by John Lescroart (Legal Thriller)
As two men fall victim to murder, prosecutors close in on Maya Townshend, the beautiful socialite niece of the city’s mayor. Maya has a secret she needs to protect at all costs during her very public trial, where not only her future but the entire political landscape of San Francisco hangs in the balance, hostage to an explosive secret that Dismas Hardy is privilege-bound to protect. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

SOUL OF A DOG: Reflections on the Spirits of the Animals of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz (Memoir)
Do animals have souls? Some of our greatest thinkers --- Aristotle, Plato, Thomas Aquinas --- and countless animal lovers have been obsessed with this question for thousands of years. Now New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz looks for an answer and finds even more questions as he recounts the lives and stories of the residents of his celebrated Bedlam Farm. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

DUNE ROAD by Jane Green (Fiction)
The heroine of DUNE ROAD is a single mom who works for a famous --- and famously reclusive --- novelist. When she stumbles on a secret that the great man has kept hidden for years, she knows that there are plenty of women in town who would love to get their hands on it --- including some who fancy the writer for themselves. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

ABANDON by Blake Crouch (Thriller)
On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman and child in a remote gold mining town disappeared, belongings forsaken, meals left to freeze in vacant cabins. And not a single bone was ever found. One hundred thirteen years later, two backcountry guides are hired by a history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them into the abandoned mining town so that they can learn what happened. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

SWIMMING by Nicola Keegan (Fiction)
SWIMMING is the story of Pip’s journey from a small Midwestern swim team to her first state meet, her brutal professional training, and the final, record-breaking swims that lead to her dizzying ascent to the Olympic podium in Barcelona. It’s the story of a girl who discovers --- in the loneliness of adolescence, in the family tragedies that threaten to engulf her --- the resilience of the human spirit and the spectacular power of her own body. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for SWIMMING.

TO HEAVEN BY WATER by Justin Cartwright (Fiction)
As he moves toward old age, David Cross loses his wife, Nancy, to illness, and retires from his job as a prominent television news anchor. As David’s son Ed and his dancer wife Rosalie struggle to conceive a child, and David’s daughter Lucy seeks refuge from a chaotic ex-boyfriend, all of them are now forced to face their lives without the woman who was the center of the family. Reviewed by Alexis Burling.

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL: A Memoir by Carlene Bauer (Memoir)
Carlene Bauer discovers God at age seven, and she spends the rest of her life trying to reconcile her faith with unwavering doubt and an equally unwavering attachment to literary romantic heroines. Which will win --- her quest for piousness and unworldliness, or her quest to live a carefree and literary life in New York City? Reviewed by Shannon Luders-Manuel.

BURY ME DEEP by Megan Abbott (Mystery)
Edgar Award-winning novelist Megan Abbott revisits and re-imagines one of the most sensational true crime stories of the 20th century in BURY ME DEEP. In October 1931 a railroad station agent in Los Angeles opened two abandoned steamer trunks. Their grisly contents pointed law enforcement in the direction of a young woman. But was she really responsible? Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL by Larry Correia (Science Fiction/Horror)
Owen Pitt has killed his boss by shoving him out an office window. That might seem like a bad thing until you hear that the victim was a werewolf. Whether you know it or not, monsters exist. They are everywhere. And one group thrives on the obligation to serve and protect while remaining in the shadows: Monster Hunter International. And Owen is their new recruit. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

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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