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August 19, 2011 Newsletter August 19, 2011
Inspiring Moments

The people in the house two doors away from us have a small dog who personifies mischief. Though they have one of those doggie-safe electronic fences, Sugar (she is all white) ducks out and wanders around, showing up in the most unlikely places. See the deer racing alongside the house? What are they running from? Sugar, who is racing behind them like she’s a mountain lion. Wonder what the rustling is in the woods? Yep, it’s Sugar prancing among the leaves. Tonight, driving home after dark, she was walking in the middle of the street --- not crossing the street, mind you --- but walking right down the middle like she was a dotted white line in motion. She makes me want to write a picture book called “Adventures of Sugar” with punchy copy every preschooler would love. And more than that, she makes me smile at her crazy adventures so much that I can almost forgive her incessant barking. She has been known to yip yap for hours.

Thanks to all of you who wrote to comment about the NEW website. I think I responded to everyone; if I missed you, my apologies. I was trying to keep up! I shared your notes with the staff, and we really appreciate them. For those of you who may not be aware of what’s happened (we know this is a big vacation time of year), click here to see "How to Find Your Favorite Features on the New" and here for some background on "Things to Know About the New".

I am happy to report that the most recent Word of Mouth comments (from the two weeks before the re-launch) as well as the archives back to early 2011 are now live. You know that hue and cry of “I want my MTV” from the '80s? Well “I want my Word of Mouth” was something we heard over and over this week. While you were able to add new entries last week, we were delayed posting your comments as we needed to pull these replies by hand from the old site as the two systems are not compatible. We will get the past years moved over in the weeks to come, as well. Want to participate in what we in the office affectionately call WOM? Then click here before August 26th to comment away, tell us about the books you’ve read and rate them from 1-5 to be entered to win one of five sets of copies of THE ACCIDENT by Linwood Barclay, THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES by Jussi Adler-Olsen, and THE MOST DANGEROUS THING by Laura Lippman.

While you are thinking about ways to weigh in with your opinions on the site, may we ask you to vote in our latest poll asking “Do you own an eReader? If so, which do you own?” This is such a huge topic for all book lovers, and we’re really curious to know how you all feel. This is a great chance to weigh in on eReaders, as even if you do not own one, we want to hear from you!

A friend of mine from childhood became a grandfather last week, and it reminded me of the perfect gifts for book lovers who have children or grandchildren. has the cutest onesies and t-shirts for the bibliofile in training. Click here to check them out, and please see the note that says they're tough to keep in stock so act fast! Unshelved also has lots of cool gear for adults. Check out the store here.

Last week, in the midst of all the craziness of the launch, I found myself stealing time to read each morning and evening. My escape was not into my usual choice, which is fiction, but rather to the pages of one of the most inspiring memoirs I have read --- Lauren Manning’s UNMEASURED STRENGTH, which will be in stores on August 30th.

I thought Lauren Manning was a name that everyone knew, but over the past weeks I have found myself telling her story to people who have no recognition of her. For me, since I heard about her shortly after 9/11, she has become the person with whom I most connected when I think about the events of those tragic days. Maybe I related to her as a mother of a small child, or as a woman who left the house a few minutes late as I am wont to do and as a result was lucky that she was not killed at her desk at Cantor Fitzgerald, or because I admired her as someone who was robbed of the life she knew --- and, instead of cowering and giving up, found a new inner resolve to create an equally wonderful life for herself.

On that fateful morning in 2001, 82 percent of Lauren’s body was burned (which translates to an 18 percent chance of living) as a fireball erupted from the elevator at the first tower. The initial story of her recovery was chronicled in 2002 in a book that her husband wrote called LOVE, GREG & LAUREN, which was compiled from the emails that he began to write friends each evening in the dark days when she was in a medically induced coma that went on to last two months. In UNMEASURED STRENGTH, Lauren shares her story of these past 10 years, a story that reminds us that an accident that happens in an instant can take years to overcome and to get there requires courage and a huge inner strength. Lauren attacked her recovery the same way she had her corporate job. Five days a week, there was therapy instead of meetings. Beauty routines were replaced by pressure garments and a plastic facial mask.

What she tells here is a wonderfully honest, inspiring tale of digging deep and fighting hard to become not the person she was, but someone stronger and even wiser. She’s unflinching when she describes what she's been through and the moments when she looks back now on events in the mid-2000s --- when she thought she had come so far without seeing how much of a journey stood before her --- will have you thinking about what you were doing all those years as she was taking small steps to regain a normal life. And there are lots of lovely surprises, too. I venture to say that reading this, there will be at least one anecdote that will stay with you --- and inspire you --- for a long time after you are finished reading. We will have our review next week.

Patti Callahan Henry’s COMING UP FOR AIR is one of our One to Watch Author Spotlight titles. Patti is a Southern girl and really brings the people, places and culture of the South to life in her books, and her latest is no different. In COMING UP FOR AIR, an Alabama woman on the verge of a midlife crisis returns home for the funeral of her mother only to rekindle a relationship with a first love, as well as learning some secrets about her family. Bronwyn Miller has our review and says, “COMING UP FOR AIR by Patti Callahan Henry is a transcendent read that will whisk readers away to another place and time. Through these two women’s entwined lives, we are treated to a story that is relatable, entertaining and surprising. Fans of THE HELP, THE NOTEBOOK and THE DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD will devour this chronicle of mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, old friends and old loves.” Bronwyn also interviewed Patti, which you can read here.

Patti is in the middle of a book tour through the South. Check out her website,, to see if she’s visiting near you! Her events are always terrific. Also, here you can find out more about the trip she took to Montgomery to explore the background for COMING UP FOR AIR. And here she has written a great piece about "How to Make a Writer" that we all loved. Such great photos with her through the years, and it really tells a story of how she became a writer.

We have two new features starting this week. THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY: A Ballad Novel by Sharyn McCrumb is our latest Historical Fiction Author Spotlight. Sharyn mixes fact and fiction as she recounts a murder trial in western North Carolina that captivated the nation following the Civil War. A man is wrongfully found guilty of murdering his lover and executed, but not before evidence and accusations from the governor’s mansion to death row play a significant role. It’s a story of betrayal and justice set in the newly-settled Appalachian region that will really appeal to historical fiction lovers. We have 20 copies of THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY to give away to readers who enter here by Friday, August 26th at noon ET. The book will be in stores on September 13th.

The latest title to be featured in our Paperback Spotlight is FAITHFUL PLACE by Tana French, who has steadily built a strong following with her bestsellers IN THE WOODS and THE LIKENESS. Tana knows how to develop characters and give them a voice, which she does so well in FAITHFUL PLACE, which is about a Dublin detective who stumbles upon the suitcase of a lover with whom he lost contact 22 years before. FAITHFUL PLACE was an Edgar Award finalist and would be a great mystery to tuck away in your bag for a late-summer trip or to just escape with wherever your favorite summer reading takes you. It’s in stores now.

We’re entering the second week of our Sneak Peek: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book feature for BOND GIRL by Erin Duffy. It’s about a recent graduate who lands her dream job on the bond trading floor for one of Wall Street’s elite firms. But her new job is a lot different from what she envisioned, especially when she strikes up a relationship with a co-worker while desperately avoiding another with a high-powered client. This is a great depiction of the Street for those interested in the finance lifestyle, and it also has some good doses of humor. We have 100 advance copies to give away to readers who answer some questions here by Friday, August 26th at noon ET. Please only enter if you think you will be able to read the book and answer some further questions by the end of September.

Two other reviews to note this week. The first is Celia Rivenbark’s YOU DON’T SWEAT MUCH FOR A FAT GIRL: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool. She writes great humor; I had the pleasure of meeting her back in 2006, and talking to her was like being with a standup comic. Our reviewer, Kathleen M. Purcell, agrees: "I’m sure I looked like a nut laughing poolside while reading this book. What makes Rivenbark’s writing so entertaining is that it’s a lot like seeing a stand-up comedy act: she does an uncanny job of keeping the flow of comedy fresh." Also, David Levien, who is known for CITY OF THE SUN, is back with THIRTEEN MILLION DOLLAR POP: A Frank Behr Novel, about which Joe Hartlaub has this to say: "Behr is an extremely complex character who, at times, seems to be comprised on a gigantic rough edge and is not always sympathetic. Nevertheless, he is consistently interesting and ultimately falls on the side of the angels. Levien has been on my must-read list since the first page of CITY OF THE SUN, and THIRTEEN MILLION DOLLAR POP solidifies that position in concrete."

A quiet weekend ahead, which is great as we leave for the beach next Friday. This will give me time to make a pile of books to take with me and line up some knitting projects --- in other words, plan my over-packing! I scratched my cornea last week and thus am sporting my new glasses full-time these days, perching them on the edge of my nose to read. Hand-of-God moment that I actually bought new ones with the right prescription a few weeks ago! Who knew? Last Sunday, the pain was so great that I was trying to just relax…realized I always do that with a book, and since reading was painful, I instead napped. A whole lot less fun!

Here’s to more fun discovering new books on the NEW…and a great week of reading.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Patti Callahan Henry, Author of COMING UP FOR AIR

Patti Callahan Henry is not only a married mother of three, but also a New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including BETWEEN THE TIDES and DRIFTWOOD SUMMER. Hailed as a fresh new voice in southern fiction (though she is originally from Philadelphia), her latest book, COMING UP FOR AIR, is about a house on the coast of Alabama --- a place that reveals the truth and changes the lives of Ellie Calvin and her loved ones.’s Bronwyn Miller spoke with Patti about the generation gaps between her characters and how she balanced several storylines in different time periods, such as the early days of the Civil Rights movement. She divulges her organic writing style, how motherhood has influenced her work and also kept her grounded in the “metaphorical dirt of real life,” and why her books appeal to so many avid readers of southern fiction.

COMING UP FOR AIR by Patti Callahan Henry (Fiction)
After the sudden loss of her formidable mother, Lillian, Ellie discovers the late woman’s diary, which opens up a whole side to her mother she never knew. She decides to return to the summer house in coastal Alabama where Lillian spent the summer of 1961, in the hopes of learning more about her mother and, perhaps, find some closure for herself. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Patti Callahan Henry’s bio.
-Visit Patti Callahan Henry’s official website,
-Click here to read more about Patti Callahan Henry and COMING UP FOR AIR in our One to Watch feature.

Click here to read our interview with Patti Callahan Henry.
New Featured Historical Fiction Author: Sharyn McCrumb, Author of THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY

Sharyn McCrumb brings the Appalachian Mountains to life in THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY, a fact-based novel of a man wrongfully executed for a crime he didn't commit, and the emerging pieces of evidence that throw the case in another direction entirely.

We have 20 copies of THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY, which will be in stores September 13th, 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 26th at noon ET.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Sharyn McCrumb’s bio.
-Visit Sharyn McCrumb’s official website,

What began as a fictional re-telling of the historical account of one of the most famous mountain ballads of all time became an astonishing revelation of the real culprit responsible for the murder of Laura Foster.

"Hang down your head, Tom Dooley…" The folk song, made famous by the Kingston Trio, recounts a tragedy in the North Carolina mountains after the Civil War. Laura Foster, a simple country girl, was murdered and her lover, Tom Dula, was hanged for the crime. The sensational elements in the case attracted national attention: a man and his beautiful, married lover accused of murdering the other-woman; the former governor of North Carolina spearheading the defense; and a noble gesture from the prisoner on the eve of his execution, saving the woman he really loved.

Click here to read more about Sharyn McCrumb and THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY in our Historical Fiction feature.
New Paperback Spotlight: FAITHFUL PLACE by Tana French

FAITHFUL PLACE by Tana French (Mystery)
Tana French's IN THE WOODS and THE LIKENESS captivated readers by introducing them to her unique, character-driven style. Her singular skill at creating richly drawn, complex worlds makes her novels not mere whodunits but brilliant and satisfying novels about memory, identity, loss, and what defines us as humans. With FAITHFUL PLACE, the highly praised third novel about the Dublin Murder squad, French takes readers into the mind of Frank Mackey, the hotheaded mastermind of THE LIKENESS, as he wrestles with his own past and the family, the lover and the neighborhood he thought he'd left behind for good.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read critical praise.
-Click here to read Tana French’s bio.
-Visit Tana French’s official website,


Click here to read more about FAITHFUL PLACE in our Paperback Spotlight feature.
Now in Stores: VICTORY AND HONOR by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV
VICTORY AND HONOR: An Honor Bound Novel by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (Thriller/Action & Adventure)
Wars come to an end. But then new ones begin. Just weeks after Hitler's suicide, Cletus Frade and his colleagues in the OSS find themselves up to their necks in battles every bit as fierce as the ones that just ended. One slip and everyone becomes a casualty of war. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: BACK OF BEYOND by C.J. Box

BACK OF BEYOND by C.J. Box (Thriller)
Cody Hoyt, while a brilliant cop, is an alcoholic struggling with two months of sobriety when his mentor and AA sponsor is found burned to death in a remote mountain cabin. When clues found at the scene link the murderer to an outfitter leading tourists on a wilderness trip into the remote corners of Yellowstone National Park --- a pack trip that includes his son --- Cody is desperate to get on their trail and stop the killer. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: ACCEPTABLE LOSS by Anne Perry
ACCEPTABLE LOSS: A William Monk Novel by Anne Perry (Historical Mystery)
This latest installment in Anne Perry’s Victorian crime series finds Commander William Monk returning to a dangerous case that he thought he had left behind. High-stakes murder, conspiracy and dark secrets abound, and no one involved will escape unharmed. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

Click here to read a review.
Sneak Peek: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book --- Our Latest Featured Title: BOND GIRL by Erin Duffy
At, we have the opportunity to read many great books well in advance of their release dates. Now, with our Sneak Peek Feature/Contest, we are offering our readers the chance to preview select early picks --- and share feedback on them. We know that readers champion books that they love, and we want you to be part of the excitement of upcoming releases as early as possible.

Our latest Sneak Peek Feature spotlights BOND GIRL by Erin Duffy --- a novel of one hardworking, young bond trader's adventures on Wall Street --- which releases in January 2012. We have 100 specially formatted early reader editions to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and share their comments about it. We really want to hear what you have to say about BOND GIRL, so if you will have time to read it and answer some questions by Monday, September 19th, please enter this contest. If not, we plan to have more opportunities like this in the future.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Erin Duffy’s bio.

Click here to read all the contest details.
Featured Mystery Mayhem Author: William Kent Krueger, Author of NORTHWEST ANGLE

William Kent Krueger's NORTHWEST ANGLE, the latest installment in his Cork O'Connor series, finds the Minnesota sheriff seeking some rest and relaxation on a houseboat until strong winds wash him and his daughter ashore, stranding them on an island that holds a grisly secret.

-Click here to read a second excerpt.
-Click here to read critical praise.
-Click here to read William Kent Krueger’s bio.
-Visit William Kent Krueger’s official website,
-Click here to see the 20 winners selected to read and comment on the book.

With his family caught in the crosshairs of a group of brutal killers, detective Cork O’Connor must solve the murder of a young girl in the latest installment of William Kent Krueger’s unforgettable New York Times bestselling series. During a houseboat vacation on the remote Lake of the Woods, a violent gale sweeps through unexpectedly, stranding Cork and his daughter, Jenny, on a devastated island where the wind has ushered in a force far darker and more deadly than any storm. Amid the wreckage, Cork and Jenny discover an old trapper’s cabin where they find the body of a teenage girl.

Click here to read more about William Kent Krueger and NORTHWEST ANGLE in our Mystery Mayhem feature.
Featured One to Watch Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Author of THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS

Vanessa Diffenbaugh's debut novel, THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, creates a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to see the reading group guide.
-Click here to read critical praise.
-Click here to read Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s bio.
-Click here to see the 20 winners selected to read and comment on the book.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now 18 and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.

Click here to read more about Vanessa Diffenbaugh and THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS in our One to Watch feature.’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 next prize book will be announced on Monday, August 22nd at noon ET.

Click here to read all the details of's Fall Preview Contests and Feature.'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 our Summer Reading feature.
This Week’s Reviews
THE IDEAL MAN by Julie Garwood (Romantic Suspense)
While jogging in a park nearby, Dr. Ellie Sullivan witnesses the shooting of an FBI agent in pursuit of wanted criminals, a couple identified as the Landrys. The only person to see the shooter's face, Ellie is suddenly at the center of a criminal investigation. Agent Max Daniels takes over the case --- he’s definitely not the ideal man Ellie always imagined, yet she's attracted to him in a way she can't explain. Reviewed by Hillary Wagy.

YOU DON’T SWEAT MUCH FOR A FAT GIRL: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool by Celia Rivenbark (Humor/Essays)
From the bestselling, award-winning author of YOU CAN'T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON'T START IN THE MORNING comes another collection of hilarious observations. Celia Rivenbark cracks up while getting her downward facing dog on, pines for a world in which every mom gets to behave like Betty Draper, and wonders why everybody is so excited about the Science Fair when there aren't even any rides. Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell.

BYE BYE, BABY by Max Allan Collins (Historical Mystery)
It’s 1962, and Twentieth Century Fox is threatening to fire Marilyn Monroe. The blond goddess hires Nate Heller to tap her phone so she will have a record of their calls in case they take her to court. When Heller starts listening, he uncovers far more than nasty conversations. Not long after Heller signs on, Marilyn winds up dead of a convenient overdose, and he investigates all who might be responsible. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

COURAGE BEYOND THE GAME: The Freddie Steinmark Story by Jim Dent (Biography)
Despite the pronouncement by many coaches that he was too small to play football at the college level, Freddie Steinmark was a tenacious competitor who vowed to start every game as a varsity Longhorn. Tragically, bone cancer took Freddie off the field when nothing else could. With this moving story, Jim Dent once again brings readers to cheers and tears with a truly American tale of resolution and bravery in the face of the worst odds. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE by Juliet Grey (Historical Fiction)
Maria Antonia learns at a very young age she will be marrying the Dauphin of France, Louis Auguste, and she makes an attempt to learn everything she can but knows it will be hard to win over the French court. Unsure but willing, Maria Antonia becomes Marie Antoinette. However, when she has trouble winning over the one person who matters to her, her faith falters. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

THIRTEEN MILLION DOLLAR POP: A Frank Behr Novel by David Levien (Thriller)
Frank Behr is rocked by a burst of automatic weapons fire as an attempt is made on his client. And though he is celebrated for his heroism, Behr can’t help but investigate what happened in that garage --- and why the Indianapolis cops seem to be burying the incident. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

STEALING MONA LISA by Carson Morton (Historical Fiction)
One-hundred years ago, the Mona Lisa went missing from the Louvre. In this re-imagining of how it happened, charming con artist Valfierno recruits a grateful painter, a streetwise femme fatale, a disgruntled museum worker and a wayward American to pull off the heist of a lifetime. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

THE LITTLE WOMEN LETTERS by Gabrielle Donnelly (Fiction)
THE LITTLE WOMEN LETTERS explores the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants --- three sisters who are both thoroughly modern and thoroughly March. This novel will speak to anyone who has ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DANDELION: A Flower Shop Mystery by Kate Collins (Mystery)
Flower shop owner Abby Knight does not believe rumors that Vlad Serban, friend and employee of Abby's fiancé Marco, is a vampire. But how to explain that Vlad is from Romania, has prominent canines, likes bizarre plants such as bloodwort and Dracula orchid, and dresses entirely in black? When a local woman is found dead, her body drained of blood, the stakes become life and death. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.
Poll and Question of the Week: eReaders


Do you own an eReader? If so, which do you own? Please check as many as apply.

Sony Reader
Samsung Reader
I read on my iPod.
I read on my iPhone.
I read on my BlackBerry.
I read on my Droid.
I have another device.
No, but I plan to buy one.
No, but I borrow one from my library.
I do not plan to buy one at this time, but I am interested in them.
I have no interest in buying one.

-Click here to answer our poll.


What is the ONE thing you like about having an eReader?

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can Win THREE Books!

Tell us your current reading recommendations with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars. During the contest period from August 8th-26th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of THE ACCIDENT by Linwood Barclay, THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES by Jussi Adler-Olsen and THE MOST DANGEROUS THING by Laura Lippman.

Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.

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