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September 25, 2009 Newsletter September 25, 2009
Plunk Go The Leaves....
The leaves are falling, and each time I hear one plunk to the ground (they sound louder than usual this year) I realize summer is behind us. Oh yes, the “colors of fall” are just lovely, but each time the wind blows I feel like the warm days are flying out of here way too quickly. Today, as I was driving around town doing some errands, I was trying to remember the trivia fact about which tree loses its leaves first; you know those things you learn in elementary school when you have lots of memory cells ready to dedicate to things like this. That factoid definitely was lost.

I remember being at the dinosaur exhibit at the Museum of Natural History back in 1999 with a friend and our young children as we quizzed them about the Tyrannosaurus and Brontosaurus, jamming as many facts as possible about them in their little heads. There came a point when I turned to her and said, “They barely know the alphabet and cannot read, add, subtract, multiply or divide, but we are cramming their brain cells with factoids about something that lived 70 or 147 million years ago --- think how long ago that was as we approach the Millennium. Are they coming back or something that I missed that makes this matter so much?”

Well, we both started convulsing in laughter at this moment of being rational about dino history, and the rest of the time on the tour I confess we were both struggling to keep a straight face. Bottom line. Who REALLY knows what the dinosaurs did? And Paul Simon sings about the “crap” we learned in high school. I think nursery school had that beat!

Speaking of which, last night I went to my younger son’s Back to School Night. I had had a year “off” from the high school after Greg graduated, and it was fun to be back there. He has the most energetic group of teachers (even at 9PM on a Thursday night!), and I was thrilled to see their reading lists for English class. And the teachers also understood the power of the Internet to be integrated into learning. It was quite an inspiring evening.

Last Sunday I spent the day with Dan Brown’s THE LOST SYMBOL. Yowser, did he do research on this one! I now can see why there were six years between books. There are times that the research pokes through a bit too much, but as Joe Hartlaub notes in his review, I found myself wanting to drive to DC to poke around the places that he mentioned when I closed it. As I was reading I confess I kept seeing Tom Hanks instead of Robert Langdon; movies do that to you. What was interesting is that Brown was criticized in both THE DA VINCI CODE and ANGELS & DEMONS for not writing characters well. By compressing the story in THE LAST SYMBOL into 10 hours, there was little need for strong characterization. It was plot plot plot. Very wise move. Would love to hear what those of you who have read it say about it.

We are launching a new Women’s Fiction feature for WINDFALL by Penny Vincenzi, which is being released in the United States next week by Overlook Press. We have 10 copies to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. I am a huge Vincenzi fan, and I started this one and have been enjoying it. I love her characters! If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, October 2nd.

Our readers raved about UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY by Shandi Mitchell and DYING FOR MERCY by Mary Jane Clark. Click on the authors’ names above to read their responses to the books.

This morning I finished reading THE SWIMMING POOL by Holly LeCraw, a debut coming next April that was really good. The jacket copy says it best --- “A heartbreaking affair, an unsolved murder, an explosive romance.” I know I am telling you about it way too early, but for those of you who keep records on upcoming books, make a note.

I have been having fun with the Fan page on Facebook. It’s nice to see your pictures and names. Our world is so virtual that it’s nice to be able to “see” our readers. On Facebook and not a fan yet? Then click here. And for those of you who are not on Facebook, here’s the weekly wrap-up of the features you missed.

We’re celebrating my dad’s 80th birthday this weekend. When shopping in stores I saw a lot of cards with Happy 90th, Happy 95th and Happy 100th on them. Pretty nice to see there is a market for those! As a result of this celebration, I will not be at either the National Book Festival or the Baltimore Book Festival. Our poll and question are about book festivals --- whether you would like to attend them and who you would like to see at them.

Sunday I am looking forward to Ken Burns’s National Parks special on PBS. I am a huge fan of his work, and I have been to some National Parks though not as many as I would like. Greg has a National Parks passport with a number of stamps, so I see this sticking around on the DVR for a while. For husband has a golf tournament this weekend; the third and fourth games in the series. Since he has played well the last two games, he is insisting on making chicken parmigiana again for dinner tonight as his lucky meal. I am glad the first meal was not something like liver and onions! I am going to finish this really cool, actually warm sweater that I am working on. It’s made with chunky yarn on large needles so it could get wrapped up this weekend --- and as the temps plunge it might be just in time.

Have a great weekend…and a good week…

Carol Fitzgerald ('s Review of THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown
THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown (Thriller)
Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object --- artfully encoded with five symbols --- is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation…one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom. When Langdon’s beloved mentor, Peter Solomon --- a prominent Mason and philanthropist --- is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE LOST SYMBOL.

Click here to read a review of THE LOST SYMBOL. Talks to Beverly Barton, Author of SILENT KILLER
SILENT KILLER, the latest novel by award-winning romance and romantic suspense author Beverly Barton, centers on a serial killer with a rather unlikely group of targets --- members of the clergy. In this interview with’s Donna Volkenannt, Barton discusses what inspired this unique and rather timely plot, and gives readers insight into her instinctive method of writing, in which she completely immerses herself in the characters she creates. She also comments on the authenticity of non-Southern writers who attempt to portray the region's distinct feel, touts the benefits of being an active member of the Romance Writers of America, and talks about her current projects to be published over the next few years.

SILENT KILLER by Beverly Barton (Romantic Suspense)
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. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

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

Click here to read our interview with Beverly Barton. Talks to Alan Jacobson, Author of CRUSH
Alan Jacobson is the author of four novels: FALSE ACCUSATIONS, THE HUNTED, THE 7th VICTIM and the newly released CRUSH. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Jacobson discusses the research he conducted in order to portray the mind and actions of a serial killer as accurately as possible, and explains why he chose to set his latest thriller in the unlikely location of Napa Valley. He also describes how one of his ideas prompted the production of a tool now used by a branch of the European Crime Division, shares his thoughts on the appeal of California's wine country, and reveals the real-life counterparts to his FBI-agent protagonist, Karen Vail.

CRUSH by Alan Jacobson (Thriller)
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 another high-velocity thriller. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

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

Click here to read our interview with Alan Jacobson.

Now in Stores: TRUE COMPASS by Edward M. Kennedy
TRUE COMPASS: A Memoir by Edward M. Kennedy (Memoir)
Senator Edward M. Kennedy finished this personal memoir just shortly before his death from cancer on August 25th. Beloved by many, reviled by many others, he surely knew that this book would be his final public testament. The last scion of a fate-haunted and tragic family, he tells his story here unapologetically. It is a family history and a tale of inside politics, both stories told with grace and obvious personal passion. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

-Click here to read an excerpt from TRUE COMPASS.
-Visit the publisher’s official website,

Click here to read a review of TRUE COMPASS.

Now in Stores: A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE by Anita Shreve
A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE by Anita Shreve (Fiction)
As Margaret and her husband, Patrick, climb Mount Kenya with their new acquaintances, a small and seemingly innocent action on Margaret's part sets off an unimaginable calamity. That tragedy is the stone tossed into the pond of their marriage, possibly altering it --- and them --- forever. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to read an excerpt from A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE.

Click here to read a review of A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE.

Now in Stores: THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD by Margaret Atwood
THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD by Margaret Atwood (Fiction)
Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners --- a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life --- has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God's Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. Have others survived? Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD.

Click here to read a review of THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD.

New Featured Women’s Fiction Author: Penny Vincenzi, Author of WINDFALL
Penny Vincenzi is the author of many acclaimed novels, including THE BEST OF TIMES, AN OUTRAGEOUS AFFAIR and NO ANGEL. WINDFALL, which is being released in the United States on October 1st, is full of the signatures that make Vincenzi’s books irresistible to devoted fans and newcomers alike: a sharp eye for detail, an assortment of loveable and despicable characters, and a titillating, suspenseful plot.

We have 10 advance copies of WINDFALL 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, October 2nd.

-Click here to read Penny Vincenzi’s bio.
-Visit Penny Vincenzi’s official website,

More about WINDFALL:
WINDFALL is an addictively dramatic family saga from one of the hottest female writers today. Penny Vincenzi takes us behind closed doors of the glamorous and scandalous English aristocracy. The dutiful doctor’s wife, Cassia Fallon, has just inherited a large fortune from her godmother. Newly empowered, Cassia sheds her domestic burdens and re-forms old relationships --- one of them of a most dangerous kind. Too soon the windfall has become a corrupting force --- one that Cassia cannot resist.

Click here to read more about Penny Vincenzi and WINDFALL.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Nevada Barr, Author of 13 1/2
Nevada Barr is the New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Anna Pigeon novels. In 13 1/2, Barr weaves a terrifying stand-alone thriller in which a respected professor of literature begins suspecting that there might be a connection between her beau and a series of gruesome murders that occurred decades earlier. 13 1/2 will be available in stores on September 29th.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from 13 1/2.
-Click here to read Nevada Barr’s bio.
-Click here to see Nevada Barr's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for 13 1/2.
-Visit Nevada Barr’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about 13 1/2:
With 13 1/2, Nevada Barr, New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Anna Pigeon novels, has written a taut and terrifying psychological thriller. It carries the reader from the horrifying 1970s murder spree of a child --- dubbed “Butcher Boy” by a shocked public --- in Rochester, Minnesota, to Polly, the abused daughter of Mississippi “trailer trash,” to post-Katrina New Orleans. Bestselling Jeffery Deaver raves that 13 1/2 "is a hands-down winner!”

Click here to read more about Nevada Barr and 13 1/2.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: R.J. Ellory, Author of A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS

R.J. Ellory is the author of five novels being released in the U.S. by Overlook Press. A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS, which has earned international acclaim, was a Richard & Judy Book Club selection in 2008 and was shortlisted for the American Barry Award for Best British Crime Fiction. In A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS, which is now available in stores, Ellory blends literary style into a mesmerizing and haunting crime story.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.
-Click here to read R.J. Ellory’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.
-Visit R.J. Ellory’s official website,
-Visit the official website for the book,
-Click here to watch a video in which R.J. Ellory discusses A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

Growing up in rural Georgia during the 1940s, Joseph Vaughan finds himself at the center of a series of mutilations and killings of young girls. The killers are never caught, and Joseph, an aspiring writer, continues to be haunted by the murders. Years later he sets out to forge a new life in New York. But even there the past won’t leave him alone --- for it seems that the murderer still lives and is killing again, and that the secret to his identity lies in Joseph’s own history.


Click here to read more about R.J. Ellory and A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Michael Walsh, Author of HOSTILE INTENT

Born on the United States Marine Corps base, Michael Walsh comes from a long line of American servicemen. His debut novel, ÉXCHANGE ALLEY, was a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection upon its publication in 1997 and still a cult favorite today. It was followed by AS TIME GOES BY, the controversial sequel to the movie Casablanca, which has been translated into 22 languages. In HOSTILE INTENT, his new novel now in stores, someone is trying to draw a covert government agent out of the shadows through acts of terror.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from HOSTILE INTENT.
-Click here to read Michael Walsh’s bio.
-Click here to see Michael Walsh's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for HOSTILE INTENT.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

It starts with the unthinkable --- the most horrific act of violence ever committed on American soil --- and only one man can stop them.

Michael Walsh --- New York Times bestselling author of AS TIME GOES BY --- is back with his first military thriller about an ultra-top secret US Government-Op, whose real identity is known only by a select few in the highest echelons of Washington, D.C. Someone is trying to draw him out by putting America’s citizens in the crosshairs --- and they will continue the slaughter until they get what they want.

Click here to read more about Michael Walsh and HOSTILE INTENT. 2009 Reader Survey --- Give Us Your Input by September 30th and Win a Free Book
For those of you with kids in your households or who have grandchildren, library patrons or friends, we have a survey running right now on The 2009 Reader Survey is open until Wednesday, September 30th, 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 this survey, may we ask you to forward this link to them? The more voices that are heard for this, the better! Tell your local bookseller or librarian too!

Click here to participate in the 2009 Reader Survey.

This Week's Reviews
THE MURDER OF KING TUT: The Plot to Kill the Child King by James Patterson and Martin Dugard (Nonfiction Thriller)
James Patterson and Martin Dugard have taken on the coldest of all cold case murders, though whether it was actually a murder at all is by no means a settled point. The victim --- circa 1324 B.C. --- was King Tutankhamen, the 18-year-old Pharaoh of Egypt whose tomb, rediscovered in 1922, provided the most astonishing archaeological treasure trove of modern times. Patterson and Dugard have woven a cleverly contrived fictional fantasia around the known facts and “solved” the “crime” --- at least to their own satisfaction. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE MURDER OF KING TUT.

HARDBALL: A V.I. Warshawski Novel by Sara Paretsky (Mystery)
When V. I. Warshawski is asked to find a man who's been missing for four decades, a search that she figured would be futile becomes lethal. Old skeletons from the city's racially charged history, as well as haunting family secrets --- her own and those of the elderly sisters who hired her --- rise up to brush her back from the plate with a vengeance. Reviewed by Marge Fletcher.

LOVE AND SUMMER by William Trevor (Fiction)
In the mid-1950s in the small Irish town of Rathmoye, Ellie Dillahan is married to a man whose life is blighted by an unspeakable tragedy. She lives a quiet life until she meets Florian Kilderry, a young photographer preparing to leave Ireland and his own memories forever. The chance intersection of these two lost souls sets in motion a poignant love affair. Reviewed by Alexis Burling.

AMERICAN ON PURPOSE: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot by Craig Ferguson (Memoir)
Born in Scotland but determined to come to the United States, comedian Craig Ferguson wasn't always the laughing jokester he is today. He was a milk delivery boy. He was a punk rock drummer. He was an alcoholic and a drug addict. The road from point A to point B was rife with potholes. But Ferguson endured, and in AMERICAN ON PURPOSE he lets everyone in on his life and his dream of America. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

SECOND SIGHT: A Novel of Psychic Suspense by George D. Shuman (Thriller)
In the fourth installment of George D. Shuman's series, blind psychic Sherry Moore faces off against a fiendish villain bent on her destruction. Set against the backdrop of heinous crimes perpetrated by Big Pharma run amok, Sherry fights for her life while confronting a question born of a miraculous medical innovation: Should she reclaim her sight or remain in the darkness that allows her to save so many lives? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW: A Memoir by Alice Eve Cohen (Memoir)
At age 44, Alice Eve Cohen was happy for the first time in years. But then the stomach pains began. In WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW, Cohen carries us through her metamorphosis from a woman who has come to terms with infertility to one who struggles to love a heartbeat found in her womb --- six months into a high-risk pregnancy. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson (History)
Atlantic City, New Jersey, has always been more than the Boardwalk and salt water taffy. Nelson Johnson traces the history of Atlantic City vice from its earliest days in this re-released book that is being turned into an HBO series set to air in 2010 starring Steve Buscemi. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: Book Festivals

This is the time of year when a number of book festivals are taking place across the country. Would you make a special trip to see your favorite authors at one of these events?

It would depend on the festival’s location.
I am not sure.

-Click here to answer our poll.


Name up to five authors you would like to see at a book festival who would make it "worth the trip."

-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 EVIDENCE: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH: A True Story by Mitch Albom and HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on October 9th 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 September 30, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH: A True Story by Mitch Albom, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger, THE LAST SONG by Nicholas Sparks and THE PROMISED WORLD by Lisa Tucker. Paulette from Plantation, FL was last month's newsletter winner. She won 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.

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

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