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November 25, 2009 Newsletter November 25, 2009

Home for the Holidays

I got back from my trip to Philadelphia on Monday afternoon. On the drive back, I spoke with my mother on the phone and she asked if I “wasn’t cutting it a bit close to Thanksgiving to be getting home.” My reply: “Wednesday would be cutting it close!” Thanksgiving dinner requires very little ingenuity. It stars the turkey, thus the main dish is all figured out. Yesterday morning I hunkered down with my notebook of “what I made last year” telling myself that tried and true will be just lovely. There is no need to get all creative here this year. I have the cookbooks all lined up; I am sure since I never have been wise enough to use one of those cookbook protectors (I own two), the stained and splattered pages of Thanksgivings past will flop right open as required.

I suggested that the boys each cook something this year with my best Donna Reed voice. Greg seemed halfway interested, but I am sure he too was acting like some character in a sitcom. He looked towards the television as he answered me. Cory looked at me like I was daft and informed me he was heading to his friend Stephen’s house after school. I told him perhaps he could make the cranberry sauce. He said that would be fine; he would open the can. Clearly, the fact that we cook cranberry sauce from scratch in this house has been lost on him! Oh well, I rented the first four discs of "Mad Men" from Netflix (though I cheated and watched Season Three first, which everyone has told me is terrible, like I read a book series out of order), so I will hang with Don and Betty as I cook dinner. We’re being joined by our neighbors, Shelley and Diana, for the feast, which will be terrific fun.

A short week does not mean that we are short on books to be sharing with you. The editorial team rallied posthaste to get this update done in record time this week, and thus you have a full lineup to keep you reading over the weekend. Would we let you down with four point five days for reading? We know you need something to do while the turkey is in the oven!

I have been having so much fun reading the author holiday blogs. If you have not caught up with them yet, click here and get reading. Want to keep up with the blog via email? You now can do that by signing up here. Once you have signed up, you will get an email asking you to confirm your subscription, and BAM, the blogs will appear in your mailbox. Since many days we have two author posts a day, this is a great way to stay up-to-date on these. Think of them as small presents from us and our author friends! This week we've had stories from Keith Raffel, Lisa Scottoline and Cathy Lamb, with Holly Goddard Jones, Celia Rivenbark, Wade Rouse, Gretchen Rubin and Suzan Colon scheduled to take us through the weekend. On tap for next week are Newt Gingrich, Amy Bloom and Ann Pearlman, to name a few.

For those of you not on Facebook, we continue to let you know about the posts that go up on our
Facebook fan page. Here’s the weekly wrap-up of the features you missed, and for all our recent posts, click here.

Our first round of Holiday Basket of Cheer contest winners for LAKESHORE CHRISTMAS have been announced. Click here to see if you have won. I am mailing out the prizes this week. Our second contest with a collection of six titles from Kensington will be open until next Thursday night, so get entering here! And if you are stuck on What to Give and What to Get, may we suggest our fabulous collection of the same name that boasts over 100 titles perfect to make it to your gift list to either give or receive.

Besides OUR holiday features, more than 40 authors from Penguin publishing are sharing book recommendations for holiday gift-giving as part of their What to Give & What to Get feature. Among the authors weighing in is Sue Monk Kidd, who has among her selections NOVEL DESTINATIONS by Shannon McKenna Schmidt, our Contributing Editor at, and Joni Rendon. They also have some videos of authors like Nick Hornby, Kate Jacobs and Robert B. Parker talking about their favorite books on camera. Those videos are posted here.

Thanks to all of our readers who gave me candle suggestions. Over the weekend, I am going to go through your MANY emails with ideas on what candles you like best. Nice to have your advice. And thanks for all the warm holiday wishes. I think I wrote back to everyone; I was trying to be good about sending email, not ESP mail!

My reading is in what I call a yin/yang period. I am wrapping up reading THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO, which I am enjoying, while at the same time I am reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I heard Jeff Kinney speak last week at the conference I was at, and the weekend before I was with his editor at the Miami Book Fair, and thus I had to read these books that clearly have captivated readers. They are wickedly funny and definitely have all-age appeal. I could not stop laughing as I read them. There were many Greg/Cory moments illustrated. HOW does Jeff Kinney know them, or are my boys just typical? Greg is now sitting behind me reading book one and laughing as well.

Last night I brought home three books for Cory, including the latest Alex Rider adventure by Anthony Horowitz. I brought them up to him just as he was falling asleep. He bolted up in bed and said, "Okay, here goes an all-nighter!" I tried to grab it back. He said…"MINE" like he was two years old. I handed it over. He turned up the light and started reading. He made the bus this morning, but I am not sure how much sleep actually happened last night. Of course, how could I say anything? I have done the same thing many a time!

A huge shout-out of thanks to the folks at the Verizon store on Market Street in Philly for charging my cell phone for me last weekend. I own three chargers and managed to leave them all home. After the tip from my friend, John, to try the lost and found at my hotel failed (yowser, they have at least 20 chargers there, but none was a match), I headed across the street to ask them to charge my phone for me. And they very nicely did; more than once, too. When I am on the road, it’s the little things like that that mean a lot. For humor, my cell phone ringtone is Eric Clapton's "Layla," which is quite amusing. Each time I dropped it off, I was willing no one to call until I got back.

Here’s to the long weekend. Once the turkey dinner is over, it will be time to get out the Christmas decorations. Cory and his friend over-accessorized the house for Halloween, but have yet to take down all things pumpkin (this is what happens when I travel part of four weekends in a row). It is more fun to decorate than un-decorate, I have been told.

And here’s wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. We give thanks for all of you. Now grab hold of the wishbone and tug and shake that turkey leg tomorrow…and then Friday, go buy some books! Read on…..

Carol Fitzgerald (


Now in Stores: PIRATE LATITUDES by Michael Crichton

PIRATE LATITUDES by Michael Crichton (Fiction/Action & Adventure)
PIRATE LATITUDES was discovered on one of Michael Crichton's computers following his untimely death in 2008. Written in 2006, it is everything a pirate adventure novel should be as it swashes and buckles its way through the Caribbean in the mid-17th century at the height of piracy on the high seas. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

-Click here to browse inside PIRATE LATITUDES.

Click here to read a review of PIRATE LATITUDES.

Now in Stores: THE DARKNESS by Jason Pinter

THE DARKNESS by Jason Pinter (Thriller)
A young man is found murdered, his bones crushed nearly to dust before his body was dumped into New York’s East River. In New York there are hundreds of murders a year, but this one is different. Someone is sending a message. And shockingly, the victim has ties to Henry Parker’s brother, Stephen Gaines, recently murdered by an elusive drug lord known only as the Fury. Reviewed by Joe Harlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE DARKNESS.
-Visit Jason Pinter’s official website,


Click here to read a review of THE DARKNESS.'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 Brown, Stephen Coonts, Sandra Dallas, Barbara Delinsky, Jamie Ford, Robert Goolrick, Kristin Hannah, Marcia Muller, Lisa Scottoline, Donna VanLiere and more!

Reading these pieces about gift giving and getting, bookish tales of the stories that have enhanced their lives and the traditions that they share will provide an opportunity for you to spend time with some of your favorite authors --- and celebrate the holidays. 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.

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.
-Click here to see Jeffery Deaver’s backlist.
-Click here to read more about the contributing writers to WATCHLIST.
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 hit shelves on November 17th.

-Click here to read a review of THE PIANO TEACHER.
-Click here to read a second 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.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Books for Teens
Headed out to do some holiday shopping? Before you go, check out our What to Give/What to Get feature with ideas in 14 categories.

We are spotlighting the various categories in the newsletter this week and in upcoming weeks. This week we're featuring Teens’ Choice, Splendid Series, True Story and Picture Perfect. First up --- Teens’ Choice.

Got a teen on your holiday list? Our Teens' Choice category has you covered no matter how fickle your recipient.

Our featured titles in this category are:

ANOTHER FAUST by Daniel and Dina Nayeri
ARE THESE MY BASOOMAS I SEE BEFORE ME?: Final Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison
THE ASK AND THE ANSWER: Chaos Walking, Book Two by Patrick Ness
THE AWAKENING: Darkest Powers, Book 2 by Kelley Armstrong
BEAUTIFUL by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma
DAY OF THE ASSASSINS: A Jack Christie Novel by Johnny O’Brien
DEVIL'S KISS by Sarwat Chadda
ETERNAL by Cynthia Leitich Smith
FALLEN by Lauren Kate
I’M SO SURE: A Charmed Life Novel by Jenny B. Jones
L.A. CANDY by Lauren Conrad
MALICE by Chris Wooding
THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner
RAMPANT by Diana Peterfreund
REDEFINING BEAUTIFUL: What God Sees When God Sees You by Jenna Lucado with Max Lucado
TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself by Austin Gutwein and Todd Hillard
VAMPED by Lucienne Diver

Click here to see our Teens' Choice category.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Series Books for Kids

Our Splendid Series category has 6 series titles your kids will love to dive into.

Our featured titles in this category are:

CURSE OF THE SPIDER KING: The Berinfell Prophecies Series, Book One by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper
RETURN TO THE HUNDRED ACRE WOOD written by David Benedictus and illustrated by Mark Burgess
SYREN: Septimus Heap, Book Five written by Angie Sage and illustrated by Mark Zug
WARRIORS: POWER OF THREE Box Set, Volumes 1 to 3 by Erin Hunter


Click here to see our Splendid Series category.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Nonfiction Titles for Kids

For all those kids who wondered about ancient civilizations or where electricity comes from, True Story is the category for them. These books are full of facts and will surely satisfy the curious mind.

Our featured titles in this category are:

OPEN ME UP by DK Publishing


Click here to see our True Story category.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Picture Books
Have a young reader on your list? Our Picture Perfect category includes 4 beautifully illustrated books your kids will be thrilled to unwrap this holiday season.

Our featured titles in this category are:

OTIS written and illustrated by Loren Long
SHLEMIEL CROOKS written by Anna Olswanger and illustrated by Paula Goodman Koz
SKIPPYJON JONES, LOST IN SPICE written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
THE TALLEST OF SMALLS written by Max Lucado and illustrated by Maria Monescillo
Click here to see our Picture Perfect category.'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
NO LESS THAN VICTORY: A Novel of World War II by Jeff Shaara (Historical Fiction)
World War II has ravaged Europe under the onslaught of Hitler's forces, but his grip is weakening. Allied troops have begun to press him back, leading him to undertake desperate measures. Author Jeff Shaara takes up the final installment of his World War II trilogy (following THE RISING TIDE and THE STEEL WAVE) and brings to a close one of the most harrowing moments the world has known. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

-Click here to read an excerpt from NO LESS THAN VICTORY.

HOLLYWOOD MOON by Joseph Wambaugh (Mystery)
Officer “Hollywood” Nate Weiss (who appeared in HOLLYWOOD STATION and HOLLYWOOD CROWS) is back with more drama from the LAPD, this time dealing with a string of attacks on women. The police know that, if they don’t stop the guy soon, they could have a murder on their hands. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

EATING ANIMALS by Jonathan Safran Foer (Social Science)
Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between omnivore and vegetarian. But on the brink of fatherhood --- facing the prospect of having to make dietary choices on a child's behalf --- his casual questioning took on an urgency. His quest for answers ultimately required him to visit factory farms in the middle of the night and probe some of his most primal instincts about right and wrong. Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol.

LONDON BOULEVARD by Ken Bruen (Mystery)
Irish mystery writer Ken Bruen puts a dark twist on the classic noir story Sunset Boulevard. A small-time Southeast London con is released from jail after serving three years for a crime he can’t remember committing and becomes involved with a stage star well past her prime, as well as assorted dangerous people from his past. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

MERRY, MERRY GHOST by Carolyn Hart (Mystery)
In this charming sequel to GHOST AT WORK, the dearly departed spirit of Bailey Ruth receives another rescue assignment. To Bailey Ruth's joy, her earthly sojourn is in her hometown at the height of the Christmas festivities. Her mission: to protect a vulnerable orphan while also solving a murder mystery. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins (History)
WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED begins in 1960, when most American women had to get their husbands' permission to apply for a credit card. It ends in 2008 with Hillary Clinton's historic presidential campaign. This was a time of cataclysmic change, when, after 400 years, expectations about the lives of American women were smashed in just a generation. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

CHANGING MY MIND: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith (Essays/Criticism)
In addition to her considerable talents as a novelist, Zadie Smith has been quietly assembling an impressive body of literary and cultural criticism over the past several years. Those pieces have been collected in this volume, a showcase for the workings of a first-class mind and a writer of lucid prose. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

RAYMOND CARVER: A Writer’s Life by Carol Sklenicka (Biography)
When Raymond Carver died at age 50, readers lost a distinctive voice in its prime. Carver was, the Times of London said, "the Chekhov of middle America." Carol Sklenicka's exhaustively researched biography presents a striking portrait of Carver as a man as well as the talented writer. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

DEATH MESSAGE by Mark Billingham (Thriller)
Delivering the "death message." That's what cops call those harrowing moments when they must tell someone that a loved one has been killed. Now Detective Investigator Tom Thorne is receiving messages of his own: photographs of murder victims sent to his cell phone. Who are the victims? Who is sending the photographs? And why is he sending them to Tom Thorne? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE BOY FROM BABY HOUSE 10: From the Nightmare of a Russian Orphanage to a New Life in America by Alan Philps and John Lahutsky (Memoir)
A smart and engaging little boy afflicted with cerebral palsy, abandoned by his mother and locked away in the Russian orphanage system, escapes his fate by reaching out to the world in this powerful and moving true-life story. 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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