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April 1, 2011 Newsletter April 1, 2011

Spring Break: Adult Style

My younger son came home a couple of months ago and informed me he had been invited to spend his spring break in Florida with one of his two best friends (the one we call Son 2A); last year, Josh had gone to the Outer Banks with us. I decided that I still needed Spring Break with or without a prerequisite child to justify it, so my husband and I are headed to Coral Gables, Florida, tomorrow morning. I am tired of waiting for spring to come, have a stack of books that I want to read, and I crave the chance to swim outdoors. My husband is frustrated that he has not played enough golf, especially since his Christmas playing plans were snowed out, so we both have a plan for the week. The hotel we are staying at has an amazing 200-foot pool. I have stayed here before but always for just a night or two on business trips, and it’s been a place I want to enjoy more.

Now I am used to driving to the Outer Banks for most of our vacations where I can put EVERYTHING I need for a trip in the car --- and more. This packing is going to be a bit more interesting. While I have an iPad, I still have a stack of advance reading copies of books to take with me. I have been editing and re-editing the piles all week. While my airline status allows me three 70-pound bags, I seriously see the golf clubs being overage baggage! I wonder if my husband can pack his clothes around his clubs. I know, April Fool’s!

I'm looking forward to catching up with Mitch Kaplan and Debra Linn over at Books & Books while I am in the Gables (what the locals call it). I love that store, and lunch or dinner in the Courtyard is on my agenda. Beyond that, not a plan yet except to read, swim and sleep. And to not think about cold and bad weather. Plans will evolve once I have a chance to take a mental break from life for a while.

Speaking of lunch, I often eat at Molyvos, a Greek restaurant about a block from the office. They have a Kotosoupa Avgolemono, which is a velvety chicken soup finished with egg, lemon and dill that I love. I would love to try to make it. The other night I remembered there is a cookbook called THE NEW GREEK CUISINE that is written by Jim Botsacos, the head chef of Molyvos. It arrived Tuesday, and thus I did not have time to explore it much, but I look forward to getting back home to do just that.

Tuesday we are launching our new “On Sale This Week” newsletter. Many of you are avid readers of our Coming Soon feature (note that May and June titles will be up on Monday). With “On Sale This Week,” we will deliver a listing of the books published each week right to your mailbox. At the start we will be sending this every other week, with a plan to “go weekly” in June. Initially we will feature two weeks of selections broken out by hardcover and paperback. This by no means will cover EVERY book out during a given week, but we will be mentioning those that we think will be of interest to our readers. If you would like to sign up for this newsletter, click here. Note: This is a separate signup from the newsletter.

One quick note. We’re proud to offer and all the sites in free of charge to readers and have no plans to change that, but we cannot bring you the content that we share without the support of the publishers and authors who advertise with us. Currently we have ads on for a contest to win Geraldine Brooks’s latest, CALEB’S CROSSING (out May 3rd), here. Also, you can get some information about THE GOODBYE QUILT by Susan Wiggs, out now, here. We encourage you to explore these ads and those in the “On Sale This Week” newsletter. We are very selective about the advertising that we take and appreciate your taking note of these titles and opportunities.

One of THE MOST highly anticipated books of the year, THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES by Jean M. Auel, went on sale this week. Through the years, I have gotten numerous emails from readers that asked "When is the next book coming?" Thrilled to share that it's here; you can read an excerpt here, and we will have our review next week.

This week we have our review of MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS by Rae Meadows, which came out this week. This was our recent One to Watch Author Spotlight and one of my weekend reads earlier this year. I loved this story about three generations of women and how the decisions each made impacted the next. Samantha, a young mother, receives a box filled with some belongings of her recently deceased mother. The box’s contents lead Samantha on a search to uncover a lot of long-hidden family secrets. We’ll be posting the reading guide for MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS on in a few days, as it’s a great choice for book groups.

Jamie Layton has our review and says, “While several of the book’s mysteries will remain mysteries to the characters themselves, as readers we have the luxury of knowing the answers to all the questions. For us, the secrets of these mothers and daughters are all revealed.” Jamie also interviewed Rae, and you can read that Q&A here.

CLOSER THAN BLOOD by Gregg Olsen, our latest Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight title, is also reviewed this week. Joe Hartlaub has our review of this frightening cat-and-mouse thriller, saying, “Olsen has written a number of what I would call 'serial-thriller' novels over the past several years, dealing with the bloody deeds of extremely frightening people whose capacity for violence is exceeded only by their cleverness. So it’s interesting that CLOSER THAN BLOOD is just a bit different for Olsen. The violence is toned down a shade, and the killer is not hunting random victims. What we have instead is a cat-and-mouse hunt for an individual who is motivated in equal parts by bloodlust and greed. What has not changed, however, is Olsen’s capacity to keep his readers velcroed to the edge of their seats from first page to last.” You can also read Joe’s interview with Gregg here.

Also this week, we have Bronwyn Miller’s review of THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST, a debut novel from Anna Jean Mayhew. This was our latest Southern Writers Spotlight title, which details a teenage girl’s awakening to the racism and injustices of the South circa the 1950s. Bronwyn says that “the violent and heartbreaking resolution will leave readers breathless and members of book groups heatedly conversing into the wee hours.” We also have an interview with Anna that you can read here.

Also note the interview with Trent Reedy, the author of WORDS IN THE DUST, who talks about his protagonist Zulaikha, an Afghan girl who dared to hope for a better future. He recounts his own experiences as a soldier in Afghanistan, elaborating on the real-life girl who inspired his book. I heard him speak in January at a librarian conference, and he was so moving that he got a standing ovation. He's a person who really made a difference in a young woman's life!

In the “other things happening” category, I thoroughly enjoyed "Mildred Pierce" on HBO the other night and look forward to the next installment this Sunday. I also have downloaded the book to my iPad. "His Way", a documentary about Jerry Weintraub, premieres on HBO on Monday, April 4th. I want to watch this after reading his memoir, WHEN I STOP TALKING, YOU'LL KNOW I'M DEAD, which I enjoyed enormously. I'm not happy that there will be no new "Mad Men" season until 2012. And for the Final Four, I am going with Virginia Commonwealth University. I love the fact they “played in” and got this far. I have a thing for the “little guy” since we started this company.

Cory has told me that he has packed himself for his trip! I remember the time he forgot to pack underwear, and every trip he has needed to buy a new toothbrush, thus I will be pawing through that bag later. Last weekend we went through his closet and made a pile of everything that no longer fits him; it was most of the closet!

Here’s to my figuring out what books to pack, a great week of reading, and lots to report next week. If you are in a place where spring weather is stalled like for us in the northeast (it’s snowing here as I write this note), here’s hoping next week brings a break. Oh, and Mercury is retrograde for all of you who are wondering why little things have gone wildly awry these past few days. You can read more about THAT here.

Read on….

Carol Fitzgerald (


Now in Stores: THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES by Jean M. Auel

THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES by Jean M. Auel (Historical Fiction)
This highly anticipated sixth book of Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series is the culmination fans have been waiting for. Continuing the story of Ayla and Jondalar, Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived more than 25,000 years ago.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES.

Click here to read more about THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES.

Now in Stores: MYSTERY by Jonathan Kellerman

MYSTERY: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman (Mystery)
The murder victim’s fingertips were severed and her body mutilated. Recognizing the need for expert psychological insight on this gruesome case, LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis calls in his friend and colleague, Alex Delaware. When a lead offers up the dead woman’s nickname --- Mystery --- the case takes an alarming turn. But just when they think they’ve reached the solution to Mystery’s violent death, their confidence is devastated by another brutally stunning revelation. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from MYSTERY.

Click here to read a review of MYSTERY. Talks to Rae Meadows, Author of MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS

Rae Meadows is the author of MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS, the riveting tale of a new mom who discovers a whole host of buried secrets after receiving a box of her mother’s belongings, which forces her to face a few of her own. In this interview with’s Jamie Layton, Meadows talks about the events that inspired her latest novel, elaborating on how she first heard about orphan trains and how her experiences as a mother helped shape the course of Sam’s story. She also muses on the forces that made the Orphan Train Movement necessary, speculates on the nature of parent/child relationships, and reveals plans for her next historical novel.

MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS by Rae Meadows (Fiction)
Moving back and forth in time between the stories of Sam, Violet and Iris, Rae Meadows’s latest novel is the spellbinding tale of three remarkable women connected across a century by the complex wonder of motherhood.
Reviewed by Jamie Layton.

-Click here to read a review of MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS.
-Click here to read an excerpt from MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS.
-Click here to read critical praise for MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS.
-Click here to read Rae Meadows’s bio.
-Click here to see Rae Meadows’s backlist.
-Visit Rae Meadows’s official website,
-Click here to see the winners of MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS.


Click here to read our interview with Rae Meadows. Talks to Gregg Olsen, Author of CLOSER THAN BLOOD

In Gregg Olsen’s newest thriller, CLOSER THAN BLOOD, Detective Kendall Stark --- first introduced in VICTIM SIX --- investigates a former classmate who has recently murdered her husband. In this interview with’s Joe Hartlaub, Olsen discusses the appeal of “black widow” characters, the use of violence in his writing, and the controversial relationships between older women and teenage boys that have captivated America in recent years. He also reveals which of his novels he would most like to see made into a movie and hints at his future writing plans.

CLOSER THAN BLOOD by Gregg Olsen (Thriller)
The first time was easy. No one ever suspected the victim had been murdered. The crime long buried, the dark passions guiding the killer's hand are still alive. But the need for revenge cannot be denied. Only one person can stop the killing. Only one person can identify the killer.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of CLOSER THAN BLOOD.
-Click here to read an excerpt from CLOSER THAN BLOOD.
-Click here to read critical praise for CLOSER THAN BLOOD.
-Click here to read Gregg Olsen’s bio.
-Click here to see Gregg Olsen’s backlist.
-Visit Gregg Olsen’s official website,
-Click here to see the winners of CLOSER THAN BLOOD.


Click here to read our interview with Gregg Olsen. Talks to Anna Jean Mayhew, Author of THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST
A Southern woman born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Anna Jean Mayhew is the author of THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST, the spellbinding story of a 13-year-old girl who is confronted with racial tensions --- and an unexpected tragedy --- when she travels to Florida on an ill-fated vacation with her family and their black maid. In this interview with’s Bronwyn Miller, Mayhew talks about her own childhood in the Jim Crow South, elaborating on the personal experiences that helped shape her debut novel. She reflects on the ways in which her hometown has informed her writing, gives the scoop on some of her favorite coming-of-age stories, and reveals how she made the transition from an aspiring writer to a published author at the impressive age of 71.

THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST by Anna Jean Mayhew (Fiction)

On a stifling hot day in August 1954, 13-year-old Jubie Watts joins her mother, sisters, baby brother and African-American maid in the family Packard for a trip to Florida. Along the way, the differences between blacks and whites in the American South of the 1950s are made abundantly and dangerously clear. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read a review of THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST.
-Click here to read Anna Jean Mayhew’s bio.
-Click here to see the winners of THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST.

Click here to read our interview with Anna Jean Mayhew.

Paperback Spotlight: THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake

THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake (Fiction)
In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it.

Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them. But both Iris and Frankie know better...

-Click here to read a review of THE POSTMISTRESS.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE POSTMISTRESS.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE POSTMISTRESS.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE POSTMISTRESS.
-Click here to read our interview with Sarah Blake.
-Click here to read Sarah Blake’s bio.
-Click here to see the winners of THE POSTMISTRESS.


Click here to read more about THE POSTMISTRESS.

Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming, Author of ONE WAS A SOLDIER

Julia Spencer-Fleming is back with ONE WAS A SOLDIER, her seventh mystery featuring Rev. Clare Fergusson and police chief Russ Van Alstyne. When Clare returns from a tour of duty in Iraq, she finds herself embroiled in the strange death of a veteran and her touch-and-go relationship with Russ.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from ONE WAS A SOLDIER.
-Click here to read critical praise for ONE WAS A SOLDIER.
-Click here to read Julia Spencer-Fleming’s bio.
-Click here to see Julia Spencer-Fleming’s backlist.
-Visit Julia Spencer-Fleming’s official website,
-Click here to see the winners of ONE WAS A SOLDIER.

The Rev. Clare Fergusson wants to forget the things she saw as a combat helicopter pilot and concentrate on her relationship with Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne. MP Eric McCrea needs to control the explosive anger threatening his job as a police officer. Will Ellis, high school track star, faces the reality of life as a double amputee. Orthopedist Trip Stillman is denying the extent of his traumatic brain injury. And bookkeeper Tally McNabb wrestles with guilt over the in-country affair that may derail her marriage.

But coming home is harder than it looks. One vet will struggle with drugs and alcohol. One will lose his family and friends. One will die. Since their first meeting, Russ and Clare’s bond has been tried, torn, and forged by adversity. But when he rules the veteran’s death a suicide, she violently rejects his verdict, drawing the surviving vets into an unorthodox investigation that threatens jobs, relationships, and her own future with Russ.


Click here to read more about Julia Spencer-Fleming and ONE WAS A SOLDIER.

Now in Stores: STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG by Kate Atkinson

STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG by Kate Atkinson (Mystery)
It's a day like any other for Tracy Waterhouse, running errands at the local shopping center, until she makes a purchase she hadn't bargained for. One moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy's humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger at every turn. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Click here to read a review of STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG.

Now in Stores: TOWNIE by Andre Dubus III


TOWNIE: A Memoir by Andre Dubus III (Memoir)
Acclaimed novelist Andre Dubus III reflects on his violent past and a lifestyle that threatened to destroy him --- until he was saved by writing. TOWNIE is a riveting, visceral and profound meditation on physical violence and the failures and triumphs of love. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.


Click here to read a review of TOWNIE.

An Interview with Trent Reedy, Author of WORDS IN THE DUST

A first-time novelist and a member of the Army National Guard, Trent Reedy is the author of WORDS IN THE DUST, the remarkable tale of an Afghan girl named Zulaikha who dares to hope for a better future --- and the surgery she'll need to fix her cleft palate --- when American soldiers arrive in her village. In this interview, Reedy talks about his own experiences as a soldier in Afghanistan, elaborating on the real-life figure who inspired his book. He also explains how the experience of war altered his feelings about the Afghan people, reflects on the challenges of writing his first-ever novel, and recalls the fan letter he wrote that helped launch his career as a writer --- and sparked the beginning of a long-lasting literary friendship.

WORDS IN THE DUST by Trent Reedy (Fiction)
A quiet, severely disfigured Afghan girl experiences a promising vision of her nation's future when American troops occupy her desert village and arrange surgery for her cleft lip. Based on an enlightening true story, WORDS IN THE DUST tells of a shy 13-year-old and how much her life changes because of the simple kindness of a few concerned American soldiers. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

-Click here to read a review of WORDS IN THE DUST.
-Click here to read an excerpt from WORDS IN THE DUST.
-Click here to watch Trent Reedy talk about WORDS IN THE DUST.


Click here to read an interview with Trent Reedy.

Calling All Kids and Teens! Vote for Your Favorite Books, Authors and Illustrators of 2010 in the Children's Choice Book Awards


The Children’s Book Council has announced the finalists for the fourth annual Children's Choice Book Awards. The favorite book finalists --- which include fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels and picture books --- were determined by over 16,000 children and teens. Thousands more are able to cast their votes for their favorite books, authors and illustrators at bookstores, schools, libraries and at until April 29th.

The Children’s Choice Book Award winners will be announced live at the annual Children’s Choice Book Awards Gala on May 2nd in New York City as part of Children’s Book Week (May 2-8), the oldest national literacy event in the United States.



Click here to cast your votes for the 2011 Children's Choice Book Awards.

This Week’s Reviews

AFRAID OF THE DARK by James Grippando (Legal Thriller)
New York Times bestselling author James Grippando is back with a sinister thriller that leads his ever-popular hero, Jack Swyteck, to secret detention sites and an underground video ring spanning the globe. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE FOUR MS. BRADWELLS by Meg Waite Clayton (Fiction)
It was 30 years ago that four remarkable young women formed a bond that has endured the trials of time and distance. Now that bond is about to be profoundly tested as the past comes back to bite them. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

ONE OF OUR THURSDAYS IS MISSING by Jasper Fforde (Mystery)
Jasper Fforde's return to the fantastical BookWorld opens during a time of great unrest. All-out Genre war is rumbling, and the BookWorld desperately needs a heroine like Thursday Next. But with the real Thursday apparently retired to the Realworld, the Council of Genres turns to the written Thursday. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

DEVIOUS: A Bentz and Montoya Novel by Lisa Jackson (Romantic Suspense)
After the body of novice nun Camille Renard is found in a faded yellow bridal gown at St. Marguerite’s cathedral, New Orleans detectives Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya are called to investigate. This brutal strangulation is especially upsetting to Montoya, who dated Camille in high school. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

BENT ROAD by Lori Roy (Fiction)
On Bent Road, a battered red truck cruises ominously along the prairie; a lonely little girl dresses in her dead aunt's clothes; a boy hefts his father's rifle in search of a target; a mother realizes she no longer knows how to protect her children. It is a place where people learn: Sometimes killing is the kindest way. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

LUCIFER’S TEARS: An Inspector Vaara Novel/strong> by James Thompson (Thriller)
Inspector Kari Vaara is
pushed into investigating a 90-year-old national hero for war crimes committed during World War II. The Interior Minister demands a conclusion of innocence, preserving Finland's heroic perception about itself and its role in the war, but Germany wants extradition. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE PERFECT NAZI: Uncovering My Grandfather's Secret Past by Martin Davidson (Memoir/History)
What if you found out that your grandfather was a Nazi SS officer? This is the confession that Martin Davidson received from his mother upon his grandfather's death. THE PERFECT NAZI is Davidson's exploration of the truth behind this dark family secret. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.


Click here to read this week's reviews.


Poll and Question of the Week: Book Prologues


Do you read the prologues in books?

All of the time

Some of the time



As many prologues tease a book, do you ever go back and read them again later to see how they fit in with the story?

All of the time

Some of the time


-Click here to answer our poll.


Name up to three books that you think have a great opening --- either a prologue or first chapter.

-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 CHASING FIRE by Nora Roberts, SAVE ME by Lisa Scottoline and THE SIXTH MAN by David Baldacci. Tell us what you are reading here and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, April 15th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.


Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.


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 April 30, 2011 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: CHASING FIRE by Nora Roberts, EVE by Iris Johansen, THE FIFTH WITNESS by Michael Connelly, I'LL WALK ALONE by Mary Higgins Clark, and THE SILVER BOAT by Luanne Rice. Last month's winner will receive A LESSON IN SECRETS: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear, LIVE WIRE by Harlan Coben, NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah, THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith, and SILENT MERCY by Linda Fairstein.

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