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July 29, 2011 Newsletter July 29, 2011
Back to My Stack of Books

Home --- just like I pictured it. Stacks of books to read, plants that have sprouted and grown taller, and a pool six degrees warmer than when I left it thanks to last week’s heat wave. I will confess that last week, when most of the country was roasting, I was grabbing for a sweater in San Diego. I guess it balances the heat I felt when I was in New Orleans in June!

San Diego Comic-Con was one panel, meeting and party after another --- which had us moving at a ridiculous pace, but made for a terrific, immersive experience. The vibe was quieter than in other years for many reasons, but I still learned a ton. Panels about shows based on books like "Game of Thrones," "The Walking Dead" and "True Blood" were big hits (lines were too long for me to attend any of them), and that alone made me smile. Many publishing pals, librarians and educators have embraced this show, making my experience there a collision of all my worlds. John Hogan, our Editorial Director for, was on a panel on Saturday with a group of creators and academics, which made me really proud.

And of course there were more promotional moments. You can see me above as I would be packaged as a Jedi Doll. And I was entertained by the character in turquoise, which I snapped purely for his turquoise touches. Below is me with the turquoise zombie woman on display in one of the booths.

As John and I walked to an event on Friday night, we passed a shuttered Borders store, which is pictured above. What made this all the more sad was that the name on the building in stone was "Borders Building Established 2002." That will not be erased with a quick liquidation sale.

I got a note this week from Noel in Sun City West, Arizona, which said in part, “Partly because of your Friday essay, Jane and I went over to our local B&N store on Sunday afternoon. We browsed for about two hours, had a nice glass of iced tea, and brought home six books, mostly of favorite authors.” That note made my day.

Noel went on to tell a lovely story inspired by THE POSTMISTRESS. “My Dad was the Postmaster in a county seat town in Nebraska during World War II. He would go down to the Post Office on Sunday and sort the mail to see if there were letters from service people. If so, he would phone the recipients, and see to it that they got their mail ASAP…the mail operation scenes in THE POSTMISTRESS were very familiar." Really nice to hear how a book can spark memories like that.

This week we’re launching a One to Watch Author Spotlight feature for COMING UP FOR AIR by Patti Callahan Henry, which will be in stores August 16th. It’s a Southern story about a woman who’s struggling with both “empty nest” syndrome and a deteriorating marriage. She returns home for her mother’s funeral only to cross paths with an ex-boyfriend and discovers that she still has feelings for him. She’s also surprised to learn that this former flame was working on a secret project with her mother. Those of us in the office who already have read it loved it, thus it’s nice to be able to share COMING UP FOR AIR with you, too. Patti writes the kind of story that gets into your heart, and the characters she writes are so vividly drawn that you feel you have known folks like them, and thus their stories resonate. We have 100 copies to give away to readers who enter here by Friday, August 5th at noon ET. You can learn more about the book and Patti at her website,

We thank all of you who participated in our Summer Reading contests throughout June and July. We gave away copies of more than 30 titles, which was a lot of fun! You can still check out all our featured titles here to consider for summer reading. It's not even August yet.

Though we all love summer, we’re looking ahead to fall with’s first-ever Fall Preview Feature and Daily Contests. Fall is known as the biggest season of the year for books! The titles that come out in fall often become holiday gifts, and many are blockbusters. Here are some publisher picks that we know people will be talking about. Check the site each Monday through Thursday in August, where we will spotlight a different title and offer a daily contest to win one of three copies of the book. We also will be sending a special daily newsletter to announce each day's title. You can sign up here to receive the daily newsletter. Our first title will be shared on Monday. See below for titles to be featured next week and for a link to our entire feature!

My latest Bets On selection is NEXT TO LOVE by Ellen Feldman, and you can read more about why I selected this book later in this newsletter. I am going to recommend a pairing here of two Bets On selections --- this and THE SOLDIER’S WIFE by Margaret Leroy for a really lovely reading experience. This is the first time I have lined up two Bets On titles like that!

We have Norah Piehl's review of NEXT TO LOVE this week. She says, "The very thought of covering several decades in a single novel is a prospect that would challenge most authors. Placing those several decades in the intense period between World War II and the war in Vietnam is even more of a daunting proposition. But Ellen Feldman, who’s proved her historical novel chops in several previous works, shows readers that she's more than up to the task in NEXT TO LOVE, a surprisingly intimate novel about the countless ways in which war changes lives."

Also we have our long-awaited review of George R. R. Martin’s A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, the fifth book in his hugely popular A Song of Ice and Fire series. As I mentioned, this series and its accompanying HBO program were the toast of Comic-Con (there were even pedicabs with "Game of Thrones" advertised on the back, and it doesn’t look like A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is going off the bestseller list anytime soon. Please forgive our delayed review as there was a delivery issue with the book. Reviewer Stephen Hubbard says, “A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is wholly remarkable writing from a wholly genius storyteller. If you have not yet become ensnared by the web that is the game of thrones, now would be the perfect time to begin your adventure.”

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting our reviewer, Nathan Wilson, in San Diego. Since our reviewers are far-flung, these opportunities are really quite lovely. This week he reviews Grant Morrison’s SUPERGODS: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human. In his review Nathan says, “Like his comics, SUPERGODS is certain to reinforce the already polarized opinions of the comics-reading public toward Morrison. However, if his comics, both the successes and the failures, have proven anything, it is that getting people to think beyond their comfort zones is a noble pursuit --- and one that SUPERGODS admirably achieves.”

We’re also reviewing THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB by Melanie Benjamin. Some of you might remember Melanie’s ALICE I HAVE BEEN, which was one of my Bets On picks last year. She really gave a new perspective on ALICE IN WONDERLAND and now handles the legend of the pint-sized Mrs. Tom Thumb. Reviewer Sarah Rachel Egelman says, “This is a lovely novel, ambitious in its attempt to illuminate the life of a fascinating woman.” You can also read an interview with Melanie here.

I am looking forward to a quiet weekend. Booking a massage. Lots of swimming. And, most of all, looking forward to my stack of books. Emails these past few weeks have been peppered with “have you read 'X' yet?” to which I reply, "no," as I frustratingly have had little reading time.

Right now I am thoroughly enjoying WHEN SHE WOKE by Hillary Jordan (pre-order from IndieBound or Amazon), who many of you may remember as the author of MUDBOUND. WHEN SHE WOKE is very different. I am not a huge lover of dystopian-flavored books, but this one grabbed me from the first page. In it, a young woman awakens with her skin red, dyed as such as a murderer for aborting her child. I am completely caught up in this manufactured world where Chromes are people who are dyed and outcast based on their crimes. It’s bold and provocative. As I said, this is not the kind of book that usually would grab me, but it has. And I cannot wait to get back to page 151 later today.

An update on the redesign: If all goes as planned, this will go live the week of August 8th. I have been looking at the new screens so often that I find myself looking at our present site and wondering why it looks so different. Thank you to all of our beta testers for their feedback. And please note, this newsletter will NOT be changing; only the website at will be redesigned.

Here’s to a great week of reading.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Reviews A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by George R. R. Martin

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book Five by George R. R. Martin (Fantasy)
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance --- beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

-Click here to read an excerpt from A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.

Click here to read a review of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.

Announcing’s Fall Preview Contests and Feature

Fall is almost upon us, which is known as the biggest season of the year for books! The titles that come out in fall often become holiday gifts, and many are blockbusters. Here are some publisher picks that we know people will be talking about. Each day we will spotlight a different title and offer a contest to win one of three copies of the book. Check the site each day to see the featured book and enter to win. We also will be sending a special daily newsletter to announce each day's title, which you can sign up for here.

Our first prize book will be announced on Monday, August 1st at noon ET.

-Click here to see this year's featured titles.
-Click here to receive our special newsletter announcing each day’s prize book.


Click here to read all the details of's Fall Preview Contests and Feature.

New Featured One to Watch Author: Patti Callahan Henry, Author of COMING UP FOR AIR

With her marriage falling apart, Ellie Calvin returns to her coastal Alabama town for her mother's funeral, only to have a decades-old romance rekindled in Patti Callahan Henry's COMING UP FOR AIR.

We have 20 copies of COMING UP FOR AIR, which will be in stores August 16th, 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 Friday, August 5th at noon ET.

-Click here to read an excerpt from COMING UP FOR AIR.
-Click here to read Patti Callahan Henry’s bio.
-Click here to see Patti Callahan Henry’s backlist.
-Visit Patti Callahan Henry’s official website,

Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband --- between her reality and the woman she wants to be --- she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life. But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie is not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary --- and a window onto stories buried long ago.


Click here to see our One to Watch Author Spotlight feature for Patti Callahan Henry and COMING UP FOR AIR.

An Interview with Melanie Benjamin, Author of THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB

Melanie Benjamin’s debut novel, ALICE I HAVE BEEN, explored the true story of Lewis Carroll’s muse, Alice Liddell. Now, in THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB, she tackles the real-life pains and pleasures of tiny Lavinia Warren Stratton, aka Mrs. Tom Thumb, who famously starred in P. T. Barnum’s sideshow. In this interview, Benjamin discusses how she weaves fact and fiction, recounts the road that led her to Lavinia (“Vinnie”), and discloses the material she poured through in order to gain an inside look. She also sheds light on the parallels between the classic “freak show” of yesterday and the reality shows of today, while suggesting how Vinnie might feel if she got to see her name on the cover of this book.

by Melanie Benjamin (Historical Fiction)

She was only two-feet eight-inches tall, but her legend reaches out to us more than a century later. As a child, Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump was encouraged to live a life hidden from the public. Instead, she reached out to the immortal impresario P. T. Barnum, married the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, and transformed into the world’s most unexpected celebrity. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

-Click here to read a review of THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB.


Click here to read an interview with Melanie Benjamin. Bets On: NEXT TO LOVE by Ellen Feldman

NEXT TO LOVE by Ellen Feldman (Historical Fiction)
In NEXT TO LOVE by Ellen Feldman, three young women --- Babe, Millie and Grace --- who live in a small town in Massachusetts all send the men they love off to fight in World War II. Not everyone returns, and those who do are profoundly changed, reminding us that the scars of war run deeper than the day that victory is won. This character-rich story begins before the men head out and continues right through the early ’60s.

Feldman’s writing drew me in from the beginning (once I got all the couples straight), and from there I found myself reading late into the evening and in the early mornings savoring the story, especially the parts set during World War II.

It’s a story of love, loss and rebuilding --- and offers an inside look at what unfolded after those quick wartime marriages. The three female characters are well-drawn, with Babe being the star for me. But the way the stories collide gives the book its richness. No one woman’s story would have been special enough on its own. How they collide and interact gives it power.

Also, I love the title, one that is just perfect on many levels. As you read it, you will see why.

By the way, I heartily recommend pairing it with THE SOLDIER’S WIFE by Margaret Leroy, an earlier Bets On selection, to get very female points of view about World War II.

-Click here to read a review of NEXT TO LOVE.


Click here to see all the books we’re betting you’ll love.

Now in Stores: FULL BLACK by Brad Thor

FULL BLACK by Brad Thor (Thriller)
There are some missions so deadly, so sensitive, that they simply don’t exist. When one such mission goes horribly wrong, a wave of dramatic terrorist attacks is set in motion. Their goal: the complete and total collapse of the United States. Scot Harvath launches an audacious plan to infiltrate the terrorists’ network and prevent one of the biggest threats the United States has ever faced. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.


Click here to read a review of FULL BLACK.

Now in Stores: QUINN by Iris Johansen

QUINN by Iris Johansen (Psychological Thriller)
As a former Navy SEAL turned cop, Joe Quinn has seen the face of evil. When he first met Eve Duncan, he never expected to fall in love in the midst of her haunting tragedy. As their search takes them deeper and deeper into a web of murder and madness, Joe and Eve must confront their most primal fears…and test their resolve to uncover the bone-chilling truth. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.


Click here to read a review of QUINN.

Now in Stores: BORN TO DIE by Lisa Jackson

BORN TO DIE by Lisa Jackson (Romantic Suspense)
Dr. Kacey Lambert enjoys her life as a small town doctor in Grizzly Falls, Montana. But when a number of women who look just like her end up dead, Kacey begins to fear for her life and wonder if she's the next one in line who is born to die at the hands of a vengeful madman. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.


Click here to read a review of BORN TO DIE.

Now in Stores: SUPERGODS by Grant Morrison

SUPERGODS: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison (Sociology)
The first superhero comic ever published introduced the world to something both unprecedented and timeless: Superman, a caped god for the modern age. The skies of the imaginary world soon filled with strange mutants, aliens and vigilantes. For Grant Morrison, these heroes are powerful archetypes whose ongoing, decades-spanning story arcs reflect and predict the course of human existence. Through them we tell the story of ourselves. Reviewed by Nathan Wilson.


Click here to read a review of SUPERGODS.

Paperback Spotlight: LEFT NEGLECTED by Lisa Genova

LEFT NEGLECTED by Lisa Genova(Fiction)
Sarah Nickerson, like any other working mom, is busy trying to have it all. One morning while racing to work and distracted by her cell phone, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In so doing, she also learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.

-Click here to read a review of LEFT NEGLECTED.
-Click here to read a third excerpt from LEFT NEGLECTED.
-Click here to read critical praise for LEFT NEGLECTED.
-Click here to read more about LEFT NEGLECTED in our Bets On feature.
-Click here to read Lisa Genova’s bio.
-Click here to see Lisa Genova’s backlist.
-Visit Lisa Genova’s official website,
-Click here to see the winners of LEFT NEGLECTED.


Click here to see our Paperback Spotlight feature for LEFT NEGLECTED.'s Summer Reading Feature

Thanks to everyone who participated in our daily Summer Reading contests, and congratulations to all the readers who won! These giveaways were a huge success, and we look forward to doing it all over again next year. Even if you weren’t a winner this time, we encourage you to take a look at our 34 featured titles. Reading any of these wonderful books is a great way to pass the time during these dog days of summer.

-Click here to see this year's featured titles.
-Click here to see our winners.


Click here to see our Summer Reading feature.

This Week’s Reviews
IT LOOKED DIFFERENT ON THE MODEL: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy by Laurie Notaro (Humor/Memoir)
Laurie Notaro is just trying to find the right fit --- whether it’s in the blouse that looks charming on the mannequin but leaves her in a literal bind, or in her neighborhood after she’s shamefully exposed at a holiday party. Notaro makes misstep after riotous misstep as she shares tales of marriage and family. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

BETRAYAL OF TRUST: A J. P. Beaumont Novel by J.A. Jance (Mystery)
A video appears to be showing a childish game: a teenage girl smiles for the camera, a blue scarf tied around her neck. All of a sudden things turn murderous, and the girl ends up dead. It’s as bad as a snuff film can get, and what’s worse, the clip has been discovered on a phone that belongs to the grandson of Washington State’s governor. Fortunately, the governor is able to turn to an old friend, J. P. Beaumont, for help. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

DICK FRANCIS’S GAMBLE by Felix Francis (Thriller)
Nicholas "Foxy" Foxton, a former jockey, is out for a day at the Grand National races when his friend and co-worker Herb Kovak is murdered, execution style, right in front of him --- and 60,000 other potential witnesses. As he struggles to come to terms with Kovak's seemingly inexplicable death, Foxton begins to question everything, from how well he knew his friend to how much he understands his employer. Reviewed by Jennifer McCord.

THE NIGHTMARE THIEF by Meg Gardiner (Psychological Suspense)
Autumn Reiniger expects something special for her 21st birthday. Her father signs up her and five friends for an “ultimate urban reality” game: a simulated drug deal, manhunt and jailbreak. It’s a high-priced version of cops and robbers, which is convenient for the gang of real kidnappers zeroing in on their target and a mammoth payday. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SHUT YOUR EYES TIGHT by John Verdon (Thriller)
The facts of what has just occurred are horrible: a blushing bride, newly wed to an eminent psychiatrist and just minutes from hearing her congratulatory toast, is found decapitated. Though investigators believe that a Mexican gardener killed her in a fit of jealous fury, the victim’s mother is having none of it. Reluctantly drawn in, Dave Gurney is quickly buffeted by a series of revelations that transform the bizarrely monstrous into the monstrously bizarre. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

FLASHBACK by Dan Simmons (Science Fiction/Thriller)
It’s the not-too-distant future and the United States is near total collapse. But 87 percent of the population don’t care: they’re addicted to flashback, a drug that allows its users to re-experience the past. Ex-detective Nick Bottom knows about flashback addiction firsthand. But can he resist temptation long enough to solve an old murder without losing his soul in the process? Reviewed by Ray Palen.

THE TALK-FUNNY GIRL by Roland Merullo (Fiction)
In one of the poorest parts of rural New Hampshire, teenage girls have been disappearing, snatched from back country roads. For Marjorie Richards, the fear raised by these abductions is the backdrop to what she lives with in her own home. Marjorie is also tormented by classmates, who call her “The Talk-funny girl.” But as the nearby factory town sinks deeper into economic ruin and as her parents fall under the influence of a sadistic cult leader, her options for escape dwindle. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

Click here to read this week's reviews.

Poll and Question of the Week: Books to Be Read --- and THE Book of Summer


How many books are on your to-be-read list right now?

More than 10

-Click here to answer our poll.


What do you think will be THE book of summer 2011?

-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 NEXT TO LOVE by Ellen Feldman, THE SIXES by Kate White, and THE WILD ROSE by Jennifer Donnelly. Tell us what you are reading here and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Monday, August 8th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.


Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.


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