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November 20, 2009 Newsletter November 20, 2009

A VERY Bookish Week

This is the fourth Friday that I have been traveling. It’s been a different city every week, thus I have been writing you from various hotel rooms and airport lounges. Today I am tapping away as I sit on a chaise in my hotel that feels very swanky and chic, and reminds me somehow of film stars in the '50s. I have a wonderful view of Philadelphia out my window, and I am enjoying watching the city come alive as I type. This is a “repeat hotel,” meaning I have been here before. Traveling as much as I do, I love it when I repeat hotels that I like. It just makes it easier. I remember where the pool is and how to get to the convention center. It saves time. For amusement, yesterday when I plugged in my GPS to drive here, it first told me it would take 20 hours to arrive. I thought Philly had moved until I realized that “Fiona” (as I call the British chick who chirps my directions out) thought I still was in Miami! She needed a few moments to reorient.

I am in Philly for the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention. It’s a great way for me to get a handle on what is going on in school these days, so I can better understand how to program the sites in our Network that are aimed at kids and teens. I started out yesterday at a roundtable discussion with secondary school teachers where Nancy Pearl was one of the featured speakers. Nancy never ceases to amaze me as she quotes the first lines from books glibly in her presentations. She also talked about, if you like a book, it is a good book for you; if you do not like a book, it means it’s a bad book for you. Even if everyone else LOVES it, if it does not work for you, it’s fine. And there should be no reason to think you are right or wrong about not liking it.

The opening question for Nancy Pearl was about whether or not she owns a Kindle. She does not. Why? Because she starts many books that she chooses not to finish and the library is a better source for material like that. Also, she would miss her UPS guy, who delivers books from publishers to her. The former is interesting if you are a picky reader; the latter is humorous.

I moved from there to the official opening session, where Junot Diaz, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO, delivered the keynote. Diaz shares so many of my thoughts and fears on the lack of literacy in this country. I truly feel that we do not cultivate a love of reading. He feels we need bullseye guidance on reading, which basically is putting books that we think people will enjoy into their hands. I so agree. I see how this works with my own boys. I love plunking a book I think they may like into their hands and saying, “try this.” Nine times out of 10 I get it right.

The National Book Awards were given out Wednesday night, and thus I found myself in black tie at Cipriani’s on Wall Street among similarly spiffed-up folks. Andy Borowitz gave a humorous intro that made me wish I had seen him in Miami. Gore Vidal was honored and gave a talk that proved that the rambling he did at the PEN Awards a few years ago was not his only unscripted moment. Dave Eggers was honored with the Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community award. We have the complete list of winners here. This is the first time I left the event wanting to read the fiction (Colum McCann's LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN), nonfiction (T.J. Stiles's THE FIRST TYCOON: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt) and young people’s literature (Phillip Hoose's CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice) winners. The acceptance speeches by the authors were all well done, and their discussions about their work --- as well as their passion for it --- really translated.

I realize I am writing backwards here, and as I write I realize this has been one amazing week. At the Miami Book Fair I got to meet Jamie Ford, the author of HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, one of my Bets On picks from earlier in the year, as well as John Pipkin, whose book WOODSBURNER is about Henry David Thoreau and the woods he accidentally burned down the year before he moved to Walden Pond. I also saw Paul Levine on a panel with Jeff Lindsay. Paul told me that he just turned in a new Jake Lassiter book, so for all of you who have been waiting for Jake’s return, you can plan on this one. Jeff Lindsay writes the Dexter series, which has become a huge television hit on Showtime. I had first met Jeff in Miami a few years ago when he told me he was starting this series about a serial killer who kills serial killers, thus it was nice to catch up and hear more about what has been going on with those books --- and the show. The latest Dexter book, DEXTER BY DESIGN, was released earlier this fall. One question was about Dexter’s name: Does it have anything to do with his being ambidextrous about good and evil. Jeff loved that question and responded that the series, I think, had first been titled “The Left Hand of God.” I say "I think" since I lost my notebook with all my notes when I was in Miami, so I am doing a bit of free-form memory here, which is a tad scary.

There was a terrific panel with Elizabeth Berg, Jacquelyn Mitchard and Lauren Grodstein. Elizabeth shared background on HOME SAFE and read from it while Jacquelyn told a story about a number of personal trials and tribulations that she has been through in the past years. We had interviewed Jackie back when we had just launched She had just finished THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN, so it was fitting that I got to speak with her about NO TIME TO WAVE GOODBYE, the follow-up to it. Lauren Grodstein has written for us on with a very funny piece about her encounter with a book club. I had the pleasure of talking to her about her new book, A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY, when I was in Baltimore last month. We've posted our review this week.

Another stellar panel had Mary Karr, whose new book LIT has been getting a ton of attention; click here to read her interview with Jesse Kornbluth. Jill McCorkle read the last story in her latest collection of short stories, GOING AWAY SHOES. I love Jill’s southern drawl and thus hearing her read was a real treat. Jayne Anne Phillips, author of LARK AND TERMITE, and Lydia Davis, author of THE COLLECTED STORIES OF LYDIA DAVIS, rounded out this panel.

I hit a number of the graphic novel panels in Miami where they had three full days of graphic novel programming, and I will share more about those next week. I am just out of time this week even typing as quickly as I do!

I am adding a new Bets On pick this week. It’s 31 HOURS by Masha Hamilton. I had written about this book as soon as I read an advance copy last summer, and when our review ran, I failed to note it as a Bets On pick, so I am playing catch up now. Read on for why I loved this book and selected it. Trust that the ending will have you thinking for a while.

Today we kick off one of my favorite holiday features --- our author holiday blogs. We did this feature last year, and I heard from so many of you on how much you enjoyed this that we once again reached out to our author friends this year to ask them to share their stories about holiday gift giving and getting, especially with books. My piece on what these pieces mean to me is here. You can read our first author piece by Beverly Barton here. Between now and Christmas, we will be posting at least one piece every day, and they will be archived for easy reading thanks to Eric Rhodes in our office, who redesigned the page for me this week with Erin Quinn. It will make it easier to find our Facebook update blogs as well as the holiday ones.

Speaking of which, this week on Facebook we've featured some interesting articles and posts like The London Times top 100 books of the decade and a review of a biography about Beatle Paul McCartney, and a whole bunch of other good stuff. We update the page all day every day with book news. If you're on Facebook, become a fan! If not, and you'd like to be, click here.

Our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest this week features six fun titles from Kensington Books. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this contest will be open until Thursday, December 3rd. Between these titles and our What to Give/What to Get listing, those of you who want to get your shopping done by Thanksgiving should be all set with some terrific suggestions.

This week we are launching a Suspense/Thriller feature for Jeffery Deaver’s WATCHLIST: A Serial Thriller, featuring the novellas THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT and THE COPPER BRACELET. It’s a collaboration with a number of writers who are members of the International Thriller Writers organization, including Lee Child, Lisa Scottoline, Joseph Finder and Jim Fusilli. 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 Sunday, November 29th.

One last bit of humor. I have been a compulsive nail biter since I was three. According to my mom, this started one night as Lassie headed off a cliff. I always hated that I had this habit, so I broke it in September when I was at the beach --- the same weekend I gave up Diet Coke. To try to keep my nails strong, I have been doing weekly manicures, which means for something like 45 minutes I am not typing or knitting. Well, I did not have time before I left this week to get a manicure, so I bought polish here and painted them last night. Let’s just say that I paint nails about as well as I paint walls. It looks really simple --- base coat, pale color coat, top coat --- but I think I better delegate this task going forward. Of course, it might have had something to do with the fact that I started typing again before the polish was dry!

We’ll be back to you on Wednesday instead of Friday as we are taking a long weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday. Read on….and have a great weekend.

Carol Fitzgerald (


Now in Stores: I, ALEX CROSS by James Patterson
I, ALEX CROSS by James Patterson (Thriller)
Detective Alex Cross is pulled out of a family celebration and given the awful news that a beloved relative has been found brutally murdered. The hunt for her murderer leads Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, to a place where every fantasy is possible if you have the credentials to get in. Alex and Bree are soon facing down some very important, very protected, very dangerous people in levels of society where only one thing is certain --- they will do anything to keep their secrets safe. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from I, ALEX CROSS.
Click here to read a review of I, ALEX CROSS.

Now in Stores: THE WRECKER by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott

THE WRECKER by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott (Historical Thriller)
It is 1907, a year of financial panic and labor unrest. Train wrecks, fires and explosions sabotage the Southern Pacific Railroad's Cascades express line, and the railroad hires the fabled Van Dorn Detective Agency. Van Dorn sends in his best man, and Detective Isaac Bell quickly discovers that a mysterious saboteur haunts the hobo jungles of the West, a man known as the Wrecker, who recruits accomplices from the down-and-out to attack the railroad, and then kills them afterward. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.


Click here to read a review of THE WRECKER.'s Special Blog --- Authors on the Holidays
Between now and Christmas Day, more than 50 authors are sharing their favorite memories of giving or receiving a book at the holidays. They include Sandra Dallas, Barbara Delinsky, Dorothea Benton Frank, Kristin Hannah, Marcia Muller, Donna VanLiere and more!

You can see Beverly Barton’s post, The Circle of Love, now. May we suggest you bookmark this page or set up an RSS feed so you can read these pieces every day?


Click here to read our Authors on the Holidays Blog.

Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on Spotlight on a Collection of Holiday Titles from Kensington Books
The holiday season is upon us! At, this means it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with you with our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest. While you are searching for the perfect gifts, we want to remind you that books make affordable, personal and wonderful gifts for EVERYONE on your list --- and are a nice way to treat yourself as well!

From November 13th through January 4th, we will spotlight a different title or collection of titles, and readers will have the chance to win one of five holiday baskets filled with winter-themed items as well as a copy of the featured book(s).

This week, we’re spotlighting a collection of holiday tales from Kensington Books:
CHRISTMAS AT SEA PINES COTTAGE by Sally Smith O'Rourke; KISSING SANTA CLAUS by Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon; SANTA IN A STETSON by Janet Dailey; SNOW ANGELS by Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Janna McMahan and Rosalind Noonan; A WEE CHRISTMAS HOMICIDE: A Liss MacCrimmon Mystery by Kaitlyn Dunnett; and YULE BE MINE by Lori Foster.

Our Holiday Basket of Cheer is a woven basket stocked with holiday-themed items. Along with copies of each of the titles above, winners will receive Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate mix, gourmet hand-cut vanilla marshmallows, peppermint bark candy, plush red socks, a red and white striped fleece blanket, a gift decorated ceramic dish, a snowman dish towel, cinnamon sticks, and a snowman mini planter perfect for a small tree or single bulb.

To enter, fill out this form and answer the following question by Thursday, December 3rd at 11:59PM. You can find the answer by reading an excerpt from YULE BE MINE here.

Whose Christmas album do Booker and Frances listen to?

YULE BE MINE by Lori Foster (Romance/Short Stories)

Sparkling days, crackling fires, long steamy nights…Christmas is all about making memories. In four delicious tales of seduction and romance, New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster brings you all the pleasures of the season…and then some.


-Read more about Lori Foster and YULE BE MINE here.


CHRISTMAS AT SEA PINES COTTAGE by Sally Smith O'Rourke (Romance)

From the author of THE MAN WHO LOVED JANE AUSTEN and THE MAIDENSTONE LIGHTHOUSE comes a heartwarming, unforgettable novel set on the ruggedly beautiful island of Cape Fear in the Carolinas, where a man determined to retreat from the world discovers the redemptive power of unexpected love. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.


-Click here to read a review of CHRISTMAS AT SEA PINES COTTAGE.

-Read more about Sally Smith O'Rourke and CHRISTMAS AT SEA PINES COTTAGE here.


KISSING SANTA CLAUS by Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon (Romance Anthology)

USA Today bestselling author Donna Kauffman headlines this Christmas anthology --- with two sizzling contemporary authors: USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon --- as three hot humbugs find holiday magic where they least expect it.


-Read more about Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis, HelenKay Dimon and KISSING SANTA CLAUS here.


SANTA IN A STETSON by Janet Dailey (Romance)

Though Diana Palmer left the bright lights of the big city behind for New Mexico, she misses the excitement now that Christmas is coming. But she’s about to find out the joys of season are just as big in the Land of Enchantment…and just as romantic.


-Read more about Janet Dailey and SANTA IN A STETSON here.


SNOW ANGELS by Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Janna McMahan and Rosalind Noonan (Romance Anthology)

They bring joy, wonder --- and all the happiness of the season. Let SNOW ANGELS’s delightful stories of love and miracles light up your holidays with cheer --- a beautiful holiday book for the perfect stocking stuffer.


-Read more about Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Janna McMahan, Rosalind Noonan and SNOW ANGELS here.


A WEE CHRISTMAS HOMICIDE: A Liss MacCrimmon Mystery by Kaitlyn Dunnett (Mystery)

Kaitlyn Dunnett’s third Liss MacCrimmon mystery has the part-time sleuth tracking another killer --- after the season’s hottest toy leads to murder --- and coping with not one, but two attentive males.


-Read more about Kaitlyn Dunnett and A WEE CHRISTMAS HOMICIDE here.

Click here to read all the details of our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature.

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Jeffery Deaver, Contributor to WATCHLIST

Jeffery Deaver leads a talented team of fellow bestselling authors in WATCHLIST: A Serial Thriller, two novellas penned by 21 of the world's foremost suspense/thriller writers. Now packaged together, THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT and THE COPPER BRACELET feature characters and plots created by Deaver with contributions from Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline and many more. WATCHLIST will be available in stores on January 5th.

We have 10 copies of WATCHLIST 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 Sunday, November 29th.

-Click here to read Jeffery Deaver's bio.
here to visit the official website of the International Thriller Writers Association.

More about
From International Thriller Writers comes WATCHLIST: two powerful novellas featuring the same thrilling cast of characters in one major suspenseful package. THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT and THE COPPER BRACELET are collaborations of some of the world’s greatest thriller writers, including Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline, and Jeffery Deaver, who conceived the characters and set the plots in motion. The other authors each wrote a chapter and Deaver then completed what he started, bringing both novellas to their startling conclusions.


Click here to read more about Jeffery Deaver and WATCHLIST.

Featured Women's Fiction Author: Janice Y. K. Lee, Author of THE PIANO TEACHER

Janice Y. K. Lee's debut novel, THE PIANO TEACHER, was a national bestseller upon its release in January, and is now poised for even bigger things as the paperback edition hits shelves on November 17th.

-Click here to read a review of THE PIANO TEACHER.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE PIANO TEACHER.
here to read Janice Y. K. Lee's bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE PIANO TEACHER.
-Visit Janice Y. K. Lee's official website,
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

More about
Set in Hong Kong during the outbreak of World War II, and its aftermath 10 years later, THE PIANO TEACHER alternates between the lives of two vastly different women whose destinies are linked by the events of the war.

Click here to read more about Janice Y. K. Lee and THE PIANO TEACHER. Bets On: 31 HOURS by Masha Hamilton
31 HOURS by Masha Hamilton (September 8th): In 31 HOURS, Masha Hamilton delivers a novel that is powerful and profound. It’s the story of a young American man who has joined a group of terrorists plotting to blow up parts of the subway system in New York. How did Jonas come to this mission? His story is told not only with his thoughts as he prepares for his role, but also by his family and friends who worry about him, each reaching out to him or wondering about him a tad too late. As the story builds, readers will feel the tension ratchet up as each person’s story builds upon the other. The conclusion will leave you thinking about it for a very long time.

As a journalist, Masha brings that sensibility to her fiction writing. She also has spent time in Afghanistan and thus brings knowledge of the atmosphere in the Middle East to infuse it as well. I echo our reviewer Joe Hartlaub’s comments when he says, “A thriller in every sense of the word, it is also a work of literary fiction, a cautionary tale for the times taking place somewhere at this moment and for the foreseeable future.” It’s just an excellent book, and one I do not want you to miss.

-Click here to read a review of 31 HOURS.
-Click here to read our interview with Masha Hamilton on the Blog.

Click here to see all the titles we're betting you'll love.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Cookbooks, Entertaining Guides & Culinary Tales

Headed out to do some holiday shopping? Before you go, check out our What to Give/What to Get feature with ideas in 13 categories.

We are spotlighting the various categories in the newsletter this week and in upcoming weeks. This week we're featuring Eat, Drink & Be Merry and Healthy, Wealthy & Wise. First up --- Eat, Drink & Be Merry.

With Thanksgiving and winter holidays right around the corner, our Eat, Drink & Be Merry category features titles that will delight any connoisseur of good food, good wine and good books.

Our featured titles in this category are:

-THE CHEESE CHRONICLES: A Journey Through the Making and Selling of Cheese in America, From Field to Farm to Table by Liz Thorpe
-CIAO ITALIA FIVE-INGREDIENT FAVORITES: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen by Mary Ann Esposito
-HEALTHY BREAD IN 5 MINUTES A DAY: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients by Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoe Francois
-JAMIE’S FOOD REVOLUTION: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals by Jamie Oliver
-NIGELLA CHRISTMAS: Food Family Friends Festivities by Nigella Lawson
-THE POTLUCK CLUB COOKBOOK: Easy Recipes to Enjoy with Family and Friends by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson


Click here to see our Eat, Drink & Be Merry category.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Advice & How-To

Books that teach and offer tips for living make perfect gifts. Our Healthy, Wealthy & Wise category has everything from the witty to the informative.

Our featured titles in this category are:

-THE BIRTH ORDER BOOK: Why You Are the Way You Are by Dr. Kevin Leman
-FIT FOR MY KING: His Princess 30-Day Diet Plan and Devotional by Sheri Rose Shepherd
-HAVE A NEW HUSBAND BY FRIDAY: How to Change His Attitude, Behavior & Communication in 5 Days by Dr. Kevin Leman


Click here to see our Healthy, Wealthy & Wise category.

Freelance Writer Bella Stander Interviews Julian Fellowes, Author of PAST IMPERFECT
PAST IMPERFECT begins with its anonymous narrator, a member of the minor aristocracy, being contacted by Damian Baxter, an ex-friend from Cambridge who he hasn’t seen in decades. Thus begins a journey that contrasts the naïve debutantes and would-be debonair beaux of the London Season of 1968 with their surprisingly altered (or not) selves 40 years later.


Reached by phone in Chicago on Halloween morning, Julian Fellowes observed to freelance writer Bella Stander that “Lake Michigan is like an enchanted sea around a fairy castle.” Later that day, From Time to Time, which he produced, directed and wrote, was screened at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. Starring Maggie Smith, the picture went on to win the Best of Fest Award and two other prizes.

PAST IMPERFECT by Julian Fellowes (Fiction)
“Damian Baxter was a friend of mine at Cambridge. We met around the time when I was doing the Season at the end of the Sixties. I introduced him to some of the girls. They took him up, and we ran about together in London for a while….”

Nearly 40 years later, the narrator hates Damian Baxter and would gladly forget their disastrous last encounter. But if it is pleasant to hear from an old friend, it is more interesting to hear from an old enemy, and so he accepts an invitation from the rich and dying Damian, who begs him to track down the past girlfriend whose anonymous letter claimed he had fathered a child during that ruinous debutante season.

-Click here to read more about PAST IMPERFECT.


Click here to read our interview with Julian Fellowes.'s Basket of Holiday Cheer Contest
Celebrate the season with's Fourth Annual Holiday Basket of Cheer feature and contest! From November 13th through December 10th, you can enter to win a "Basket of Holiday Reading and Fun."

Five winners each will receive a festive basket that includes 10 of the holiday's hottest books --- THE AMANDA PROJECT: BOOK 1: INVISIBLE I by Melissa Kantor, DEADLY LITTLE LIES by Laurie Faria Stolarz, HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT by Natalie Standiford, IT’S ALL GOOD: A So For Real Novel by Nikki Carter, A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD by Lisa Ann Sandell, NEED by Carrie Jones, SECRET SOCIETY by Tom Dolby, SPLENDOR: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: THE AWAKENING by L.J. Smith, and VIOLA IN REEL LIFE by Adriana Trigiani.

Along with the books, winners will find their basket stocked with tons of seasonal goodies --- a kit to make a mini gingerbread village, Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate mix, peppermint bark candy, a snowflake patterned fleece blanket, red woolen gloves, a snowman ceramic coffee mug, plush warm socks, snowflake tissues, and gourmet hand-cut vanilla marshmallows.

Click here to read all the details of the Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest.

This Week's Reviews

A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY by Lauren Grodstein (Fiction)
Pete Dizinoff is an internist enjoying a comfortable life in Round Hill, New Jersey, with his devoted wife, Elaine, and their cherished 20-year-old son, Eric. When the 30-year-old daughter of a good friend of the family returns home and shows an unhealthy interest in Eric, Pete will do anything to protect his son.
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

-Click here to read Lauren Grodstein’s blog post, “First Impressions.”

NEW YORK: THE NOVEL by Edward Rutherfurd (Historical Fiction)
Edward Rutherfurd celebrates America's greatest city in a rich, engrossing saga that showcases his extraordinary ability to combine impeccable historical research and storytelling flair. As in his earlier, bestselling novels, he illuminates cultural, social and political upheavals through the lives of a remarkably diverse set of families. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

THERE GOES THE BRIDE: An Agatha Raisin Mystery by M. C. Beaton (Mystery)
Detective Agatha Raisin's ex-husband, James Lacey, is getting married --- and she's invited. While she'd rather sit this one out, she knows that staying home will look like sour grapes, so she puts on a happy face and attends. Unfortunately, before the couple can make it down the aisle, the bride is murdered and James and Agatha are prime suspects. Will Agatha be able to clear their names, or has she finally taken on a case she cannot solve? Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

by Cecelia Ahern
In this intriguing holiday story served up with a zesty side dish of magical surrealism, ambitious businessman Lou Suffern has lost sight of what is truly important in life. But the day he offers a homeless man a cup of coffee alters his future in unforeseen and seemingly impossible ways. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

by Douglas Coupland
A sequel of sorts to the hit GENERATION X, GENERATION A is a witty and sobering satire of our decade’s paradoxical relationship with communication and connectedness in a digital environment. Though uneven and more than a bit simplistic, Coupland’s earnestness and urgency take him far. Reviewed by Max Falkowitz.

BEG, BORROW, STEAL: A Writer’s Life
by Michael Greenberg
Michael Greenberg regales us with his wry and vivid take on the life of a writer of little means trying to practice his craft or simply stay alive. He finds himself doctoring doomed movie scripts; selling cosmetics from an ironing board in front of a women's department store; writing about golf, a game he has never played; and botching his debut as a waiter in a posh restaurant. Reviewed by Jana Sicilano.

COWBOYS FULL: The Story of Poker
by James McManus

James McManus chronicled the game of poker for newspapers and magazines for many years. In 2000, he entered the World Series of Poker and finished fifth. Recognizing that poker is a central part of American history in war and peace, McManus decided that a comprehensive history of the game was important. The result is COWBOYS FULL, an encyclopedia of the game that every poker player will enjoy. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

THE NIGHT MONSTER by James Swain (Thriller)
The past has come back to haunt P.I. Jack Carpenter, former head of the Broward County Missing Persons Unit. As a young cop, he failed to stop the kidnapping of a college coed by a shockingly large assailant --- and neither of them was ever seen again. The abduction has remained Carpenter’s most chilling cold case, and even now the mystery of the missing girl lurks in his darkest dreams. But after 18 years, it’s about to become terrifying reality once more.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

JOHN DIES AT THE END by David Wong (Horror)
It’s a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly, a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity?
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.


Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: Cookbooks

How many cookbooks do you have?

More than 50

-Click here to answer our poll.


Which are your go-to cookbooks? Name up to five.

-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 BREATHLESS by Dean Koontz, THE DARKNESS by Jason Pinter and PIRATE LATITUDES by Michael Crichton. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on December 4th 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 November 30, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: BREATHLESS by Dean Koontz, THE HUMBLING by Philip Roth, THE LACUNA by Barbara Kingsolver, PIRATE LATITUDES by Michael Crichton and UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King. Carlene from Irving, TX was last month's newsletter winner. She won NINE DRAGONS by Michael Connelly, LAST NIGHT IN TWISTED RIVER by John Irving, LOCKED IN: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller, PURSUIT OF HONOR by Vince Flynn and TRUE BLUE by David Baldacci.

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

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