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March 19, 2010 Newsletter March 19, 2010

My Old Friend...and Sleepless in Seattle

I have been in Seattle since Tuesday, where I am on an uber booklover adventure. I literally have been racing all over the city --- and I am loving every minute of it. Lourdes Orive, an old friend and one of our reviewers, has been Master Hostess. She is a native of Seattle, and thus on each block she has great stories about the history of the city. Here’s a taste of what has been going on.

After dinner at the fabulous Palace Kitchen, we caught up with Jennie Shortridge, Garth Stein, Kevin O’Brien and Randy Sue Coburn from the Seattle7Writers Organization for drinks at the Sorrento Hotel. I got a chance to hear more about the fundraising efforts that they have been doing on behalf of literacy (we will have more about this in the weeks to come) as well as what they each have been working on.

Wednesday was a fun meeting with Susan Wiggs and her lovely daughter, Elizabeth, about their upcoming book about their “adventures” planning Elizabeth’s wedding, which is coming out in January. This one promises to be just terrific given the chemistry that I saw between the two of them. We met at the Central Library, which was designed by Rem Koolhaas (of The Netherlands) and Joshua Ramus (originally from the Seattle area). I wish one of the architecture tours of this space had been scheduled when I was in town. We met in the “living room” area on the 3rd floor where we pushed three chairs together to form a conversation zone. About halfway through our conversation, a police officer came over and told us that we were not allowed to move the furniture. I am trying to figure out if this was a fire hazard or some feng shui thing, but we quickly moved the furniture back into place and migrated to a table to meet. I am wondering if I actually could have been arrested for moving the furniture. Is there a law about this? I could see the headline now: “ Co-Founder Arrested at Seattle Central Library."

That evening I had dinner with Robert Dugoni and his wife at Palisades, which afforded me a wonderful view of Mt. Rainier (Lourdes tells me that locals say, “the mountain is out today,” on the days Rainier can be seen) as well as the entire downtown. I had time to talk to Robert not only about his upcoming book, BODILY HARM, which will be out on May 25th, which I am crazy about and have talked about here, but also the research and writing he is doing for his next book. Love moments like that where I hear where a book is headed.

Thursday was a terrific meeting with Eric and Jacq from Fantagraphics, the publisher that produces some of the most stunning graphic novels. From there it was lunch with Nancy Pearl, the librarian --- and author --- extraordinaire who shared information about her upcoming book, BOOK LUST TO GO: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers, which will be out in October. Nancy and I talk book shorthand when we meet, going through our mental rolodexes of what we have read recently and loved/liked/been not so crazy about. Always a pleasure and never enough time to do this enough.

I raced from there to the Panama Hotel as I had gotten a call from Jan Johnson there that she was doing a tour of the hotel and the public bath area at 2:00. Two book groups were on the tour as well, and it was wildly fun to meet Patti Larson, one of our Registered Book Group subscribers. Jamie Ford, the author of HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, had told Jan about me, and she gave me a kind intro to the group and then plunged into a thorough tour of the history of the hotel, which is a focal point of Jamie’s book. She made the history of the hotel come alive and had us all envisioning what the street had been like at that time. If you are in town when a tour is being offered, be sure to take it. From there I enjoyed a “coffee break” with Mary Ann Gwinn, the Book Editor for the Seattle Times. As I started my career with five summers at a newspaper in high school and college, getting to talk to someone involved in print journalism brought me back to my roots. Again we dropped into the kind of bookish chatter that binds readers together. I zipped back to my hotel to meet Carol Cassella, the author of OXYGEN, a book I had enjoyed, and we got a chance to chat about her upcoming book, HEALER, which will be out in September --- and anesthesiology.

Yes, it’s been a whirlwind, with today and tomorrow filled with stops at bookstores and sightseeing. I do love this city.

Sunday I am going to see one of our readers, my old friend Elinor, outside Portland. There is a lovely back story to this. When I was 13, I read a story in Horoscope magazine about Simon and Garfunkel written by a woman named Elinor Houldson, which was extremely well-written and had some facts about my favorite singers that I had not read before. I wrote her to ask her how she knew so much about them in a handwritten letter that looking back now probably looked like many that we get at the office from children who are writing their favorite authors. Since this was the time of slow mail, I got a letter back about four months later after the kind folks at the magazine had forwarded mine on to Elinor. Her return reply was handwritten as mine had been. Elinor explained that she had met the singers in Berkeley and kept in touch with them through the years. We started a pen pal correspondence with our letters criss-crossing the country weekly. We banged them out on old manual typewriters or scratched them out trying to cram many words on the page to save on postage. The following summer when I was 14, we went to visit her on our family’s cross-country trip, the version of which had us fly to San Francisco, see the west for three weeks and then fly home from Denver. Looking at maps, my dad was convinced there was nothing of interest between Chicago and Denver; I since have learned otherwise.

We went to visit Elinor at the commune in Berkeley where she was living with her daughter’s family, and I spent some of my teen geek hours that predated my adult geek hours pouring over her Simon and Garfunkel memorabilia. At the time, Elinor was 51. We kept in touch through letters as I grew up, usually writing at least once a month. She became a grandmother, a great grandmother and a great-great grandmother while I became a mom. She lost four of her eight children and a husband. Letters became emails as the years rolled on, and Sunday I am going to see her in the retirement home where she lives outside Portland; she’s now 89. Elinor is active in a pen pal club, and many of our readers have found via her farflung network. She truly is my “old friend.” Yes, I will take pictures. Getting to spend time with her again will be a highlight of my trip. And I know that I am after people to forward on the notes we get from children at the office remembering how my own day was made getting that reply from Elinor.

Back in New York, the staff has been more than holding down the fort, so we have a really wonderful update for you this week that includes an interview with Chang-rae Lee, author of THE SURRENDERED, and reviews of HER MOTHER'S HOPE by Francine Rivers (her first full-length novel since 2003), THINK TWICE by Lisa Scottoline (I have this one on top of my "to be read" pile at home), THE PALLBEARERS, Stephen J. Cannell's latest Shane Scully thriller, and THE IRRESISTIBLE HENRY HOUSE by Lisa Grunwald, a fascinating novel that explores a little-known phenomenon of mid-century college home economics courses. We have some great reader responses from our contest for Susan Wilson’s ONE GOOD DOG, and this one looks like a must for dog lovers. There were a lot of heartfelt comments and personal stories about people and their dogs, and even some saying they have a new perspective on what dogs are thinking and feeling. You can read those comments here. Also, for those of you who are not on Facebook, here is a roundup of what we have been featuring.

Signing off from the west where I gained three hours that I do not want to give back this week. Here’s wishing you all a great week of reading and your own bookish adventures.

Carol Fitzgerald (


Now in Stores: HER MOTHER'S HOPE by Francine Rivers

HER MOTHER’S HOPE by Francine Rivers (Historical Fiction)
Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta’s experiences convince her that only the strong survive. Hildie, Marta’s oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse during World War II gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

-Click here to read an excerpt from HER MOTHER'S HOPE.
-Click here to read Booklist’s feature article on Francine Rivers.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for HER MOTHER'S HOPE.
-Click here to read Francine Rivers's bio.
-Click here to see Francine Rivers's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for HER MOTHER'S HOPE.
-Visit Francine Rivers's official website,
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

Click here to read a review of HER MOTHER'S HOPE.

Featured Women's Fiction Author: Sandra Dallas, Author of WHITER THAN SNOW
Bestselling author Sandra Dallas follows the success of PRAYERS FOR SALE with her latest novel, WHITER THAN SNOW, which releases on March 30th. This time, Dallas chronicles the lives of residents in a small Colorado town following a devastating avalanche that forever affects the town and its people.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from WHITER THAN SNOW.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for WHITER THAN SNOW.
-Click here to read Sandra Dallas's bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for Sandra Dallas's books.

-Visit Sandra Dallas's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

WHITER THAN SNOW opens in 1920, on a spring afternoon in Swandyke, a small town near Colorado’s Tenmile Range. Just moments after four o’clock, a large split of snow separates from Jubilee Mountain high above the tiny hamlet and hurtles down the rocky slope, enveloping everything in its path including nine young children who are walking home from school. But only four children survive.
Click here to read more about Sandra Dallas and WHITER THAN SNOW.


Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Gayle Lynds, Author of THE BOOK OF SPIES

An intelligence officer teams up with a rare books curator in THE BOOK OF SPIES, the latest globetrotting thriller from Gayle Lynds, which releases on March 30th. This unlikely duo finds itself in a race against time to recover the mythic Book of Spies before it falls into the wrong hands.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from THE BOOK OF SPIES.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE BOOK OF SPIES.
-Click here to read Gayle Lynds's bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE BOOK OF SPIES
-Visit Gayle Lynds's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

For centuries, emperors, historians and even the Vatican have tried to locate Ivan the Terrible's magnificent Library of Gold. Now one of its volumes, The Book of Spies, has surfaced, and along with it the secret book club that owns the fabled library. They form a cabal of the globe's most powerful men --- men who will do anything to achieve their aims and protect their interests. An intelligence officer and a rare books curator now must do what other global agencies can't --- find the library and stop them.
Click here to read more about Gayle Lynds and THE BOOK OF SPIES.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Authors: Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens, Authors of YOU CAN'T STOP ME

Author Max Allan Collins and writing partner Matthew Clemens turn up the suspense in their latest collaboration, YOU CAN'T STOP ME. A small-town sheriff becomes the star of a reality television series tracking criminals with viewers' help --- until the reality becomes a little too real. YOU CAN'T STOP ME is in stores now.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from YOU CAN'T STOP ME.
-Click here to read Max Allan Collins's bio.
-Click here to read Matthew Clemens's bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for YOU CAN'T STOP ME
-Visit Max Allan Collins's official website,
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

More about YOU CAN'T STOP ME:
Small-town sheriff J.C. Harrow made headlines when he apprehended a would-be presidential assassin --- only to come home that night and find his wife and son brutally murdered. This tragic twist of fate launched his career as the host of reality TV’s smash-hit, "Crime Seen!" But while media star Harrow tracks down dangerous criminals coast to coast --- with the help of viewers’ tips --- a killer with a twisted agenda is making his own bloody path to fame.

Click here to read more about Max Allan Collins, Matthew Clemens and YOU CAN'T STOP ME.


Now in Stores: THINK TWICE by Lisa Scottoline

THINK TWICE by Lisa Scottoline (Mystery)

Bennie and Alice are identical twin sisters, but one of them is evil --- and she will stop at nothing in order to impersonate her sister and empty her bank accounts. When Alice buries Bennie alive, though, Bennie refuses to give up and die. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THINK TWICE.

Click here to read a review of THINK TWICE.


Now in Stores: THE PALLBEARERS by Stephen J. Cannell

THE PALLBEARERS: A Shane Scully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell (Thriller)
From New York Times bestselling author Stephen J. Cannell comes a powerful new novel in which Detective Shane Scully, who grew up as an orphan, must revisit his painful childhood to find out who murdered the kind and charismatic man who became a father to him. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE PALLBEARERS.

Click here to read a review of THE PALLBEARERS.

Author Talk: Chang-rae Lee, Author of THE SURRENDERED

In this interview, Chang-rae Lee --- the bestselling and award-winning author of NATIVE SPEAKER, A GESTURE LIFE and ALOFT --- recalls the early inspiration behind his epic fourth novel, THE SURRENDERED, and explains what he wished to explore in this sweeping narrative that encompasses over 50 years and three continents, as lived by three characters with tragic pasts. He also discusses the challenges he encountered while writing a book with such a large scope, elaborates on the novel’s titular theme of surrender, and reflects on an idea presented in the text about the incontrollable nature of mercy.

THE SURRENDERED by Chang-rae Lee (Fiction)

Western literature is rich with accounts of warfare, some reveling in its heroism and glory and others exposing the grim toll it exacts from all those --- combatants and civilians --- who experience it. To that ample body of work add Chang-rae Lee’s fourth novel, THE SURRENDERED, a devastating saga of three intersecting lives scarred irretrievably by the horrors of war. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg

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

Click here to read an interview with Chang-rae Lee.


Now in Stores: GOURMET GAME NIGHT by Cynthia Nims

GOURMET GAME NIGHT: Bite-Sized, Mess-Free Eating for Board-Game Parties, Bridge Clubs, Poker Nights, Book Groups, and More by Cynthia Nims (Cooking)
Don’t just rely on conventional convenience snacks and standbys for your book club meetings. GOURMET GAME NIGHT has imaginative recipes for homemade bite-sized mess-free options that everyone will love!
Click here to read more about GOURMET GAME NIGHT.

What's New on brings you the latest news on the hottest graphic novels being released, including a thrilling new book from bestselling fantasy author Jane Yolen and manga superstar Christopher Hart. Plus, get a look at how librarian Michele Gorman has been building a graphic novel collection from scratch over the past decade and get a preview of the new book, TRICKSTER. All this and much, much more are online now at!

Click here to visit

Calling All Middle Graders and Teens! Answer Our 5-Minute Survey --- and You Can Win a Prize!

Our websites are continually committed to bridging the gap between our readers and the publishers and authors behind the books we love.

In this spirit, we are looking for a group of middle graders and teens aged 8-18 to answer some quick and easy questions about what they read, their perceptions of different genres, and their thoughts on publishers and imprints. This is an exciting opportunity for them to share their opinion and influence.

They can take the survey here.

Those participants who are within our age criteria will be able to complete this online survey, which is expected to take no more than 5 minutes. The survey will be open through Thursday, April 1st at 11:59PM ET. Participants who complete the survey will have the opportunity to enter a random drawing to be eligible for a prize.

-Click here for all the survey details.


Click here to answer our 5-Minute Survey.


Calling All Kids and Teens! Vote for Your Favorite Books, Authors and Illustrators of 2009 in the Children's Choice Book Awards

The Children’s Book Council has announced the finalists for the third annual Children's Choice Book Awards. The favorite book finalists were determined by close to 15,000 children and teens. Thousands more can cast their votes for their favorite books, authors and illustrators at bookstores, schools, libraries and at until May 3rd.

The Children’s Choice Book Awards winners will be announced live at the Children’s Choice Book Awards gala on May 11th in New York City as part of Children’s Book Week (May 10-16th), the oldest national literacy event in the United States.


Click here to cast your votes for the 2010 Children's Choice Book Awards.

This Week's Reviews

THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON by Sarah Addison Allen (Fiction)
Have you ever felt quieted and contented in the aura of a place, lulled into its sights and scents, acutely aware of its currents? If so, then you should take a good look at Sarah Addison Allen’s THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON, set in a small town with exactly that kind of quality. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON.

It is the middle of the 20th century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN’S BAG: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley (Mystery)
Flavia de Luce is a dangerously brilliant 11-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths --- separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads. Alan Bradley’s second novel featuring Flavia continues to reinvent the English country house mystery with wit and warmth. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub (Suspense)
Horror master Peter Straub returns with a conundrum of a novel, whereby five high school friends share their individual stories about the tragic events they witnessed in the 1960s during a pagan ritual and how their lives were forever changed by this event. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

THE HONOR OF SPIES: An Honor Bound Novel by W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (Military Thriller)
August 6, 1943: In his brief career in the Office of Strategic Services, 24-year-old Cletus Frade has already been involved in a lot of unusual situations, but nothing like the one he's in now, standing with a German lieutenant colonel named Wilhelm Frogger in a Mississippi prisoner-of-war detention facility. Frade's job? To help Frogger escape. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

David R. Dow takes us inside prisons, inside the complicated minds of judges, inside execution-administration chambers, into the lives of death row inmates (some shown to be innocent, others not) and even into his own home --- where the toll of working on these difficult cases is perhaps inevitably paid. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

-Visit the publisher’s official website,

THE LITTLE DEATH by P. J. Parrish (Mystery)
Most people would kill to live in glamorous Palm Beach, with its beautiful women, five-star resorts and dazzling coast. But most people don't know what really goes on in the bedrooms of the rich and famous. Mark Durand did --- and now the handsome high-class "walker," who escorted the wealthiest women to posh affairs, is dead. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE DREAM OF PERPETUAL MOTION by Dexter Palmer (Fiction)
THE DREAM OF PERPETUAL MOTION is best read not as a novel, but as a complex collection of images, fantasies, dreams, music, narratives and ideas. Through a strange assemblage of clamoring machines, awkward robots and pastiche emerges a surprisingly beautiful work, an experience as much as a book. Reviewed by Max Falkowitz.

FINAL TARGET by Steven Gore (Thriller)
A man lies unconscious in a hospital bed, the victim of a violent assault the police are calling "road rage." If he recovers, prosecutors are waiting to indict him for conspiracy, eager to send him to prison for the rest of his life. Private investigator Graham Gage believes the injured man --- his closest friend, Jack Burch --- had no part in the ever-widening criminal conspiracy surrounding the collapse of defense contractor SatTek Industries. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.


Click here to read this week's reviews.

Poll and Question of the Week: TBR Lists

Do you keep lists of the books you want to read?

Yes, all the time
Yes, sometimes
No, but this is a good idea
Not sure

-Click here to answer our poll.


Name the top three books on your “to be read” list.

-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 CAUGHT by Harlan Coben, THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear and SHATTERED by Karen Robards. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, April 2nd 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 March 31, 2010 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: CAUGHT by Harlan Coben, HELL GATE by Linda Fairstein, HUSH by Kate White, SHATTERED by Karen Robards and THINK TWICE by Lisa Scottoline. Susan from Westmont, IL was last month's winner. She won BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani, FANTASY IN DEATH by J.D. Robb, LAST SNOW by Eric Van Lustbader, SPLIT IMAGE: A Jesse Stone Novel by Robert B. Parker and WINTER GARDEN by Kristin Hannah.

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

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