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April 22, 2011 Newsletter April 22, 2011

Celebrating Easter!

I like celebrating Easter, which, besides its religious significance, also seems to be the official welcome of spring. Maybe its late date is why it still feels like winter here! I am having a group of people over for dinner on Sunday and a couple of weeks ago was obsessing about the perfect tablecloth and napkins, which was endlessly amusing to the men in my house. I found a really elegant set in jacquard linen that are a beautiful shade of green with bunnies and an outdoor garden setting lightly outlined in off-white, as well as some beautiful votive candle holders also with bunnies. It sounds really silly, but thinking about how this table is going to look is making me smile.

Years ago, my “Aunt” Barbara decided it would be fun to give my sister and me baby chicks for Easter. She came to the house with these adorable little balls of fur that within weeks matured into creatures that pecked and pecked and did not seem like a really fun gift anymore. I remember bringing them to a farm that could have been called “Easter: Two Months Later.” There were many bunnies, ducks and chicks that had matured into full-sized animals that clearly did not have homes in the suburbs. I remember crying when we drove away. Needless to say, no Easter wildlife will be finding its way into our house. Ever.

Promised last week that I would fill you in on more of my Austin trip. A highlight was my visit to BookPeople, the indie bookstore there that I have heard about for years. I spent a couple of hours there browsing the shelves and enjoying reading their staff comment cards. Seeing what others felt about the books I knew or that we had reviewed was such fun. I found myself whipping out my BlackBerry to send notes to author friends to share what I had seen written about them. There’s a sense of humor to their merchandising. I love the cookbooks displayed on an oven (see photo above) and other enticingly smart eye-catching or whimsical book ensembles. Eric in our office celebrated his birthday last weekend, and he loves bacon...a lot. In the store's novelty area, I was able to find him bacon gumballs, drink tabs and breath mints. Great, witty present! Books and clever gifts --- love that combo. The store had a voice, a tone and an attitude. LOVED THAT. When I was in the greeting card section, I knew exactly the kinds of cards I was going to see. Will get back there, and if you are in the Austin area, plan time to visit!

I did not get to as much programming at the Texas Library Association's Annual Conference as I would have liked as I spent a lot of time working in our booth for The $20,000 Great Graphic Novel Giveaway, which we sponsored with Diamond Book Distributors and Brodart. Librarians entered to win this amazing prize that included more than 700 books plus furniture, including a comfy couch, shelves, spinner racks and tables. It was fun to watch people stand outside the booth, figure out that this was an amazing prize and then hustle over to enter. Eduardo Zepeda from Weslaco Public Library won, and you can see me pictured with him above. Click here to read a blog piece about the entire event, including Eduardo's reaction.

I did slip away to catch a summer preview presented by a number of publishers, which helped me in my mission to “read ahead” to be sure I can stay a step ahead of our very well-read readers! After hearing about BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S. J. Watson, which is coming out June 14th, I made it my next read. Here’s the premise. One morning a woman wakes up next to a man and has no recollection of meeting him. She learns that he is her husband and she is suffering from amnesia since an accident, and thus every day starts like this. She awakens and is told what's going on. But what of what she knows is true? The story spins and weaves as the reader wakes with Christine each morning as she relearns her world.

Now I am reading SISTER, a debut novel by Rosamund Lupton, which will be in stores on June 7th. Tess Hemming has been found dead and it’s been called a suicide, something her mother and others accept. But her sister Beatrice does not think that could be. She and Tess were very close, and the signs just aren’t there for her. She moves into Tess’s apartment, and her obsession with finding out the truth endangers her own life. More to come on this one.

Just as we were putting this update to bed, I heard the very sad news that Beverly Barton passed away yesterday. Beverly has been featured here a number of times and thus is well known to our readers. She sold her first book in 1989, and in 2010, DEAD BY MIDNIGHT, her first book in the Dead By series, spent multiple weeks on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. The second book in the trilogy, DEAD BY MORNING, which we are now featuring, will be published in May, and the third and final book, DEAD BY NIGHTFALL, will be published in December. Beverly lived with her husband in Tuscumbia, Alabama (which is right outside Huntsville), and I am sure that you join me and the rest of the staff of in extending our sympathy to her family and friends.

More sad news this week that author Tim Hetherington was killed while reporting in Libya. Hetherington teamed up with author Sebastian Junger to report on the war in Afghanistan, and together they created Restrepo, the winner of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival documentary grand jury prize and the nominee for an Oscar in the documentary category; this material also was the subject of Junger’s WAR. Sebastian penned a wonderful tribute to Hetherington in Vanity Fair that you can read here.

We’re featuring two new titles in our Paperback Spotlight this week. FATHER OF THE RAIN by Lily King is a domestic drama about a woman’s relationship over the years with her charismatic, alcoholic father. She witnesses the high society lifestyle that takes its toll upon her parents’ marriage, the wreckage from their eventual divorce, and the healing process that occurs as his health deteriorates. FATHER OF THE RAIN received some serious critical praise and would also make for a great book group discussion, especially for readers who remember the Nixon years. We have 20 copies to give away to those who enter here by Friday, April 29th at noon ET. FATHER OF THE RAIN will be in stores on May 10th.

Our second featured title is THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS by Brianna Karp, a stirring memoir that really challenges the misconceptions about the homeless. After overcoming a difficult childhood, Brianna worked her way up the corporate ladder and was earning a nice salary in her early 20s while living in a beachside condo. She then lost her job during the economic crisis of 2008 and began living in a camper she inherited and parked in a Walmart lot. This is a remarkable story along the same lines of Liz Murray’s bestselling, award-winning memoir, BREAKING NIGHT, which was a big hit when we featured it on last fall. We have 20 copies of THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS for readers who enter here by Friday, April 29th at noon ET. The book will be on sale Tuesday.

There is just a little more than a week left to enter our Mother’s Day contest. We’re featuring 24 titles, and 10 lucky winners will get a gift basket of goodies along with a collection of 12 books. That’s a book per month until next Mother’s Day! Check out our featured titles here and enter the contest here by Monday, May 2nd at noon ET. Also, don’t forget our Mother’s Day blog series, where we’re featuring a different author writing about motherhood every day. I got a chance to catch up with these pieces this week and had a laugh at Victoria Brown’s (MINDING BEN) piece about her short-lived Calypso singing days. Click here to read it! These are always such fun! Click here to follow the series. This weekend we’ll have original essays from Daphne Kalotay, Sarah Addison Allen and Kat Martin.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, we have some great contests happening on, one of our affiliate sites. We have just revamped our contest forms on that site to make it easier for kids and parents to enter. Currently, we have 100 copies of H.N. Kowitt’s illustrated book THE LOSER LIST about a comic-obsessed student desperate to get his name off “the loser list” that hangs in the girls’ room. Enter here by Thursday, May 26th at noon ET. also is hosting its first-ever Bunch O’ Books Giveaway, where 20 lucky young readers can win a collection of four books: IN FRONT OF GOD AND EVERYBODY: The Confessions of April Grace by K.D. McCrite, IZZY'S POPSTAR PLAN by Alex Marestaing, NO PLACE LIKE HOLMES by Jason Lethcoe, and THE SECRETS BENEATH by Kathleen Fuller. Enter here by Wednesday, June 15th at noon ET.

Also, if you’re interested in knowing when the latest books will be out --- in hardcover and paperback --- please sign up here for’s new “On Sale This Week” newsletter. This special newsletter will mail every other Tuesday in April and May, with a plan to go out weekly in June. Over the years, readers have been asking for this timely information, and thus we are happy to share it with you! We got so many notes from grateful readers when our first mailing went out a couple weeks ago that I am wishing we started doing this sooner!

I am sure that over this week you have seen the media coverage that calls into question Greg Mortenson’s writing and work. Jon Krakauer has written a piece of long-form journalism called "Three Cups of Deceit" that explores the story in depth that is now available in a Kindle edition here. I have long thought that there was a place for writing like this --- pieces the length that used to run in magazines before everything became the length of sound bites and something shorter than a book. I look forward to sharing more pieces like this with you in the future.

Last weekend I watched 127 Hours, the story of Aron Ralston’s horrific experience when caving alone that was so well told in his memoir, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I still found myself again reminding my sons that when they head out on an adventure, even if they do not tell me, they need to tell SOMEONE where they are going. I saw Aron speak a few years ago and told him that was the message his book had driven home to me. He smiled and said, “Tell them that is a VERY good idea.” Also watched His Way on HBO, Jerry Weintraub’s one-man show, and laughed…a lot. If you read WHEN I STOP TALKING, YOU'LL KNOW I'M DEAD, you will want to check this out.

In case you missed it --- and I am not sure HOW that was possible --- next Friday is the Royal Wedding. There is a book tie-in here. Remember a few weeks ago I told you about a book called THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, which I had read and enjoyed, that will be in stores on August 23rd? Well, it seems that one of the royal cakes will remain true to tradition as Fiona Cairns creates a traditional tiered fruitcake decorated with frosted flowers chosen for their meaning according to the Victorian language of flowers. Bridal roses (happiness), acorns (strength and endurance), and lilies of the valley (sweetness and humility) will take their place on the cake along with symbols of the United Kingdom (the English rose, daffodil, thistle and shamrock). Here’s a palace video about it.

I fly to Los Angeles on Thursday for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books next weekend, which will be held in a new location, on the USC campus. Previously it had been at UCLA. Thus, if I want to watch the wedding, I will need to awaken at 1AM PT. And that, folks, is what DVRs are for! Very much looking forward to the Festival. It’s an excellent way to take a live pulse beat of what readers are reading and how they are reading it. I, however, have NO sense of direction, and thus the new location will mean that I will be spending time figuring out where I am supposed to be as much as I will be exploring the programs. If you are going to be there, let me know!

Here’s wishing Happy Easter to our Christian readers and a continued Happy Passover to our Jewish readers. Here’s to making some great memories this weekend.

Carol Fitzgerald (


Now in Stores: THE SIXTH MAN by David Baldacci

THE SIXTH MAN by David Baldacci (Thriller)
Sean King and Michelle Maxwell return in their most shocking case yet. Their search for the truth behind the mysterious person labeled the “6th Man” by the U.S. government results in a high-stakes struggle where the relentless needs of national security run up against the absolute limits of the human mind. Reviewed by Ray Palen.


Click here to read a review of THE SIXTH MAN.

Now in Stores: EVE by Iris Johansen

EVE by Iris Johansen (Thriller)
EVE is the first book in a new trilogy by Iris Johansen, and the 11th Eve Duncan novel. As a forensic sculptor, Eve’s mission is to bring closure to families who have experienced the agony of a missing child. Her work is driven by the fact that her own daughter was kidnapped years ago. But now, a name from the past resurfaces. Could he be the missing piece to the puzzle that has haunted Eve for years? Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

-Click here to read an excerpt from EVE.

Click here to read a review of EVE.

Now in Stores: THE PRIEST’S GRAVEYARD by Ted Dekker

THE PRIEST’S GRAVEYARD by Ted Dekker (Thriller)
Bosnian immigrant Danny Hansen is a vigilante priest living in America, exacting punishment when justice and the law fall short. Renee Gilmore is an addict rescued from life on the streets by a mysterious lawyer. After Renee’s rescuer disappears, her search to find his killer brings her and Danny together. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

Click here to read a review of THE PRIEST’S GRAVEYARD. Talks to Julia Spencer-Fleming, Author of ONE WAS A SOLDIER

Bestselling author Julia Spencer-Fleming’s novels involve faith, murder and plenty of suspense. Her seventh in a series about Clare Fergusson, Russ Van Alstyne and other inhabitants of a small Adirondack town, ONE WAS A SOLDIER also explores the problems veterans of the current Iraq war face when they reenter society. In this interview with’s Norah Piehl, Spencer-Fleming discusses the evolution of her risk-taking protagonists and how they continue to surprise her. She also reveals the hefty research she conducted for her latest mystery and the dynamics of tension and passion at work in her books.

ONE WAS A SOLDIER: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Romantic Suspense)
On a warm September evening in the Millers Kill community center, five veterans sit down in rickety chairs to try to make sense of their experiences in Iraq. What they will find is murder, conspiracy, and the unbreakable ties that bind them to one another and their small Adirondack town. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read a review of ONE WAS A SOLDIER.
-Click here to read an excerpt from ONE WAS A SOLDIER.
-Click here to read critical praise for ONE WAS A SOLDIER.
-Click here to see the reading group guide 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.


Click here to read our interview with Julia Spencer-Fleming.

New Paperback Spotlight and Contest: FATHER OF THE RAIN by Lily King

Lily King's critically-acclaimed third novel, FATHER OF THE RAIN, follows Daley Amory as she watches the destruction of her parents' marriage against the backdrop of the last days of Richard Nixon's presidency. Long estranged from her charismatic, alcoholic father, Daley returns home to care for him as years of fast living finally take their toll.

To celebrate the release of FATHER OF THE RAIN, we are giving 20 readers the chance to win a copy of the book. All you have to do is fill out this form by Friday, April 29th at noon ET.

-Click here to read an excerpt from FATHER OF THE RAIN.
-Click here to read critical praise for FATHER OF THE RAIN.
-Click here to read Lily King’s bio.
-Click here to see Lily King’s backlist.

Winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction and a New York Times Editors' Choice, Lily King's masterful third novel received glowing critical praise upon its initial publication and is poised to make an even bigger splash in paperback.

Gardiner Amory is a New England WASP who's beginning to feel the cracks in his empire. Nixon is being impeached, his wife is leaving him, and his worldview is rapidly becoming outdated. His daughter, Daley, has spent the first 11 years of her life negotiating her parents' conflicting worlds: the liberal, socially committed realm of her mother and the conservative, decadent, liquor-soaked life of her father. But when they divorce, and Gardiner's basest impulses are unleashed, the chasm quickly widens and Daley is stretched thinly across it.

Click here to read more about FATHER OF THE RAIN and enter the contest.

New Paperback Spotlight and Contest: THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS by Brianna Karp

After a tumultuous childhood, Brianna Karp had finally made it, earning a nice salary and living in a beachside condo. That all changed when she abruptly lost her job in 2008 and took up residence in a camper she parked in a Walmart lot, as chronicled in her emotional memoir, THE GIRL'S GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS.

To celebrate the release of THE GIRL'S GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS, we are giving 20 readers the chance to win a copy of the book. All you have to do is fill out this form by Friday, April 29th at noon ET.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS.
-Click here to visit the book’s official website.
-Click here to read Brianna Karp’s bio.

Brianna Karp entered the workforce at age 10, supporting her mother and sister throughout her teen years in Southern California. Although her young life was scarred by violence and abuse, Karp stayed focused on her dream of a steady job and a home of her own. By age 22 her dream became reality. Karp loved her job as an executive assistant and signed the lease on a tiny cottage near the beach. And then the Great Recession hit. Karp, like millions of others, lost her job. In the six months between the day she was laid off and the day she was forced out onto the street, Karp scrambled for temp work and filed hundreds of job applications, only to find all doors closed. When she inherited a 30-foot travel trailer after her father's suicide, Karp parked it in a Walmart parking lot and began to blog about her search for work and a way back.

Click here to read more about THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS and enter the contest.'s Sixth Annual Mother's Day Contest: Books Mom Will Love

Mother’s Day is a time to recognize the woman who raised and nurtured us. Why not brighten her special day with some great books? From April 15th through May 2nd, readers will have the chance to win one of our 10 Mother’s Day gift baskets. Each basket is filled with a selection of 12 books from our 24 featured titles, giving Mom a book to read each month and making Mother’s Day truly a yearlong celebration. Also included are a variety of gifts to treat her: a rather large Godiva chocolate bar, a collection of body products from Crabtree & Evelyn, Tazo Tea, and a 4x6 picture frame.

With books that are moving, uplifting, humorous and informative, look no further than for the perfect gift for Mom.

-Click here to see our featured titles.


Click here to read all the contest details.

Mother's Day Author Blogs: Celebrating Authors and Their Mothers/strong>

Here at, Mother’s Day will be a month-long celebration with the help of some of our author friends and their mothers. During the next few weeks, we will be featuring daily blog posts from authors, including Elizabeth Noble, Chelsea Cain, Sarah Addison Allen, and more! Reading these pieces will give you a new understanding and insight into the role Mom played as authors got their start or followed into the literary world.

Contributing authors have included:
-Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark
-Luanne Rice
-Julia Spencer-Fleming
-Victoria Brown
-Michelle Au
-Lorna Jane Cook
-Meg Waite Clayton
-Joanna Trollope

Coming soon:

-Diana Abu-Jaber
-Erica Bauermeister
-Sandra Dallas
-Eileen Dreyer
-Therese Fowler
-Siri Hustvedt
-Jayne Ann Krentz

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 Mother's Day Author Blogs.

Featured Women’s Fiction Author: Sandra Dallas, Author of THE BRIDE'S HOUSE

From New York Times bestselling author Sandra Dallas comes THE BRIDE'S HOUSE, a novel about the secrets and passions of three generations of women who have all lived in the same Victorian home.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from THE BRIDE'S HOUSE.
-Click here to read Sandra Dallas’s bio.
-Click here to see Sandra Dallas’s backlist.

-Visit Sandra Dallas’s official website,
-Click here to see the winners of THE BRIDE'S HOUSE.

It’s 1880, and for unassuming 17-year-old Nealie Bent, the Bride’s House is a fairy tale come to life. It seems as if it is being built precisely for her and Will Spaulding, the man she is convinced she will marry. But life doesn’t go according to plan, and Nealie finds herself in the Bride’s House pregnant --- and married to another.

For Pearl, growing up in the Bride’s House is akin to being raised in a mausoleum. Her father has fashioned the house into a shrine to the woman he loved, resisting all forms of change. When the enterprising young Frank Curry comes along and asks for Pearl’s hand in marriage, her father sabotages the union. But he underestimates the lengths to which the women in the Bride’s House will go for love.

Susan is the latest in the line of strong and willful women in the Bride’s House. She’s proud of the women who came before her, but the Bride’s House hides secrets that will force her to question what she wants and who she loves.


Click here to read more about Sandra Dallas and THE BRIDE'S HOUSE.

Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Beverly Barton, Author of DEAD BY MORNING

In DEAD BY MORNING, a book loaded with Beverly Barton's trademark suspense and romance, two security officials race to uncover the clues that could lead them to the serial killer terrorizing their offices.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from DEAD BY MORNING.
-Click here to read Beverly Barton’s bio.
-Click here to see Beverly Barton’s backlist.
-Visit Beverly Barton’s official website,
-Click here to see the winners of DEAD BY MORNING.

Maleah Purdue is tough, outspoken and completely dedicated to her work at the Powell Security Agency. But her fearless exterior shatters when a madman begins killing her colleagues one by one, mimicking a notorious serial killer already behind bars. Working alongside top profiler Derek Lawrence, Maleah will do anything to find the murderer, even if it means playing a psychopath's twisted mind games. No one connected to the Agency is safe. No one is beyond suspicion. For as Maleah and Derek piece together the clues, they uncover a chilling legacy of lies and brutal vengeance --- and a killer who has been hiding in plain sight all along.

Click here to read more about Beverly Barton and DEAD BY MORNING.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Kevin O’Brien, Author of DISTURBED

In DISTURBED, the latest pulse-pounding thriller from Kevin O'Brien, a newlywed tries to adjust to her new, affluent neighborhood only to learn that a brutal killer is lurking around, stalking his victims.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from DISTURBED.
-Click here to read critical praise for DISTURBED.
-Click here to read Kevin O’Brien’s bio.
-Click here to see Kevin O’Brien’s backlist.
-Visit Kevin O’Brien’s official website,
-Click here to see the winners of DISTURBED.

More about DISTURBED:
The houses in Willow Tree Court are sleek and modern --- the kind designed to harbor happy families and laughing children. No one would guess the secrets that lurk beyond the neat lawns and beautiful facades. Molly Dennehy is trying to fit in to her new surroundings, though her neighbors are clearly loyal to her husband's ex-wife. But that's the least of Molly's worries. Her stepson's school has been rocked by a brutal slaying, and a psychopath known as the Cul-de-Sac Killer is murdering families in Seattle homes. Homes just like Molly's. With each passing day, Molly grows more convinced that someone is watching her family, someone consumed with rage and vengeance. On this quiet road, a nightmare has been unleashed, and the trail of terror will lead right to her door.
Click here to read more about Kevin O'Brien and DISTURBED.

Calling All Kids! Enter to Win Some Fabulous Books on

We have two contests currently running on that we think the kids in your life should consider entering.

Announcing's First "Bunch o' Books" Giveaway!
In our first-ever Bunch o' Books Giveaway, is giving 20 lucky readers the chance to each win four books that we think they'll enjoy! Each winner will receive a copy of IN FRONT OF GOD AND EVERYBODY: The Confessions of April Grace by K.D. McCrite, IZZY'S POPSTAR PLAN by Alex Marestaing, NO PLACE LIKE HOLMES by Jason Lethcoe, and THE SECRETS BENEATH by Kathleen Fuller. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, June 15th at noon ET.

-Click here to read all the contest details.

Win a Copy of THE LOSER LIST by H.N. Kowitt
Being a loser is bad enough, but now comics-obsessed Danny is actually on the list: the Loser List --- it's right there, hanging in the girls' bathroom, for everyone (and one girl in particular) to see. There's only one thing for him to do about it. He must get his name off. But just when his world starts looking up again, Danny may find that being cool isn't all it's cracked up to be.

To celebrate the release of THE LOSER LIST, is giving 100 readers the chance to win a copy of H.N. Kowitt's illustrated book. The deadline for entries is Thursday, May 26th at noon ET.

-Click here to read all the contest details.


This Week’s Reviews

A COVERT AFFAIR: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS by Jennet Conant (Biography)
Julia Child is best known --- and best loved --- for her cooking. But before that, she and husband Paul were members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in the Far East during World War II. During the 1950s, they were even caught up in the McCarthy Red spy hunt. A COVERT AFFAIR provides a fascinating portrait not only of Child, but of a tumultuous time in American history. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

CRUNCH TIME by Diane Mott Davidson (Mystery)
Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz cooks up big trouble when she tries to help her longtime friend and fellow chef Yolanda Garcia. When Yolanda’s rental house is destroyed by arson, and a cop-turned-PI is shot dead --- his house also set on fire --- Goldy must swap her chef’s hat for a sleuthing cap and step up to the investigation. It’s crunch time to find the killer, before he finds her. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

DRAWING CONCLUSIONS: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon (Mystery)
Late one night, Commissario Guido Brunetti is called away from dinner to investigate the death of a widow in her apartment. Though there are some signs of a struggle, the medical examiner rules that she died of a heart attack. It seems there is nothing for Brunetti to investigate. But he can’t shake the feeling that something, or someone, may have triggered her heart attack. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DEAD BY MIDNIGHT: A Death on Demand Mystery by Carolyn Hart (Mystery)
Annie Darling, owner of the Death on Demand mystery bookstore, is none too pleased when her newest employee, Pat Merridew, fails to show up to work on the day when her help is sorely needed. But it turns out she has an excuse that no one can refute --- she's dead! Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell (Fiction)
Karen Russell’s debut novel takes readers to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, where Ava Bigtree’s family owns a gator-wrestling theme park called Swamplandia! The park is swiftly being swallowed up by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor. With a recently deceased mother, distracted sister, dreamy scholar brother, and AWOL father, it’s up to 13-year-old Ava to manage 98 gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for SWAMPLANDIA!

A KINGDOM BESIEGED: Book One of the Chaoswar Saga by Raymond E. Feist (Fantasy)
In 1982, Raymond Feist launched himself into the world of fantasy with the publication of MAGICIAN. With that novel, he successfully began one of the most praised and enjoyed series of modern fantasy, The Riftwar Cycle. Twenty-nine years and 26 books later, Feist gives us A KINGDOM BESIEGED, the next installment in the massive arc in the worlds of Midkemia and Kelewan and the initial volume of the Chaoswar Saga. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

LEAVING VAN GOGH by Carol Wallace (Historical Fiction)
Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver in the summer of 1890. He died two days later, at the age of 37, largely unknown despite having completed over 2,000 works of art that would later achieve worldwide notoriety. Carol Wallace navigates the mysteries surrounding his death --- painting a well-researched portrait of van Gogh’s final days. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

THE SILENT LAND by Graham Joyce (Fantasy/Thriller)
In the French Pyrenees, a young married couple is buried under a flash avalanche while skiing. Miraculously, they dig their way out from under the snow --- only to discover the world has been overtaken by an eerie and absolute silence. As the couple begins to witness unsettling events, they are forced to con­front a frightening truth about the silent land they now inhabit. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

THE CONFESSION OF KATHERINE HOWARD by Suzannah Dunn (Historical Fiction)
Henry VIII’s fifth wife is the star --- and the victim --- in this racy retelling of Tudor history. Narrated by the teenage queen’s best friend, THE CONFESSION OF KATHERINE HOWARD puts a sexy modern spin on the intimate dynamics of 16th-century girls and boys. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

THE PRIEST by Gerard O'Donovan (Thriller)
Struggling to find his feet back in Ireland, drug specialist Mike Mulcahy is plunged into unfamiliar territory when the daughter of a politician suffers a horrific sex attack. Mulcahy becomes convinced there is more to it, especially when he discovers that a crucifix was used to torture the victim. As more young women are attacked and murdered, Mulcahy hurtles ever closer to the monstrous killer known only as The Priest. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Click here to read this week's reviews.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth


Are you on Facebook?

No, but I plan on joining
No, but I’m thinking of joining
I used to be on Facebook.
I have no interest in joining.

-Click here to answer our poll.


Name up to three authors you’re currently following, or would like to follow, on Facebook.

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth:

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 CALEB'S CROSSING by Geraldine Brooks, EXPOSURE by Therese Fowler, and TABLOID CITY by Pete Hamill. Tell us what you are reading here and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, April 29th 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.

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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. Michele from Midlothian, VA was last month's winner. She won 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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