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August 26, 2011 Newsletter August 26, 2011
Celebrating 15 Years of!

It’s funny how anniversaries creep up on you. At the beginning of August, it’s always in the back of my head that’s anniversary is coming up, but suddenly August 27th is here! Once again this milestone has me counting my lucky stars that you all are reading and enjoying the site so I can continue reading and sharing books and authors with you. This celebration is just as much yours as it is ours.

I was thinking about writing my thoughts on this momentous occasion when I got a better idea and turned the blog over to my son, Greg. His piece is called “Fifteen Years Measured By a Bottle.” He handed me the first draft yesterday afternoon; as soon as I started reading it, I found myself smiling. Hope you enjoy it too!

Many of you have been writing to let us know how you have been sending the link to our newly designed website to friends and family. We appreciate this! We have been seeing many more newsletter signups, so welcome to our new readers! Traffic on the site has been up substantially, which is especially lovely as August can be quiet with people on vacations, getting kids back to school, and other things that take people off their regular schedules.

If you are so inclined, may I ask you to continue to share the reviews, interviews and features with your friends, as well as this newsletter, which, if you are getting this in your email, has a handy link on the upper right for forwarding it on? Also, every review, interview and feature can be shared as well, giving you a chance to forward along whatever books and authors you love.

Next week we will be taking our annual summer hiatus and will not be publishing an update on Friday, September 2nd. A week like this gives some staff time to catch up on things around the office and gives others of us a chance to get away without worrying about deadlines in New York. Please note that our Fall Preview featured book contests will continue through Wednesday, August 31st.

I was supposed to head to the Outer Banks for our 12th annual summer vacation there, but Irene got in the way. You know how many of you like series books because they continue a story? Well, my vacation seems to be going the same way. Last summer, when we left the Outer Banks, we were being evacuated for Hurricane Earl. Cue up this year, and we were headed there the same time as Hurricane Irene. Most of the week I was hoping that Irene was going to be a “no-show,” but that is not happening. Now we just hope she does not get an upgrade. By the way, listening to reports about the storm all week, they sound the same as for Earl. I think they are just plugging her name into the old copy. And we KNOW how we hate stories that go like that, when a writer does the same story over and over and over.

We were planning to cool our heels in Chesapeake, VA until this morning when I looked at the forecast and read some local blogs. I realized that that area could lose power for an extended time as well, and the idea of being stuck in a hotel in that situation sounded pretty silly. When I called to cancel our reservation, the reservationist said she is a big reader and thus I told her to log on and check us out. Making lemonade out of lemons. Will come up with a new vacation plan once the rain ends. And, oh, while we are on the subject of natural disasters, yes, we felt the earthquake in the office too this week. Life is not dull.

And neither is our update this week….

For our One to Watch Author Spotlight featuring Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s debut novel THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, we have our review by Norah Piehl where she says, "Women, especially, will respond to this narrative on both an emotional, almost visceral, level and a literary one. Her language is evocative without being flowery, and her characterization of Victoria, in particular, is gutsy --- it's daring to write a character you know not everyone will like." If you’re in a book group, you can win one of three author chat prizes for your group that we’re giving away over on Read more details and register your group here.

The next few weeks are full of big book releases as publishers begin rolling out their fall titles, and this week gets things started with FLASH AND BONES by Kathy Reichs. This marks the 14th book in the Temperance Brennan series and finds “Bones” piecing together the clues between a young woman’s disappearance years earlier and a dead body that’s just turned up at Charlotte Raceway as 200,000 NASCAR fans flock to the track. Reviewer Roz Shea says “Fans of [Reichs's] bestselling mysteries who also watch the hit television detective show “Bones,” which arose from the books, realize how completely different the personalities of the two Temperance Brennans are between the printed page and the small screen.” For those readers, the show is like bonus Temperance.

Another fan favorite, Laura Lippman, is back with THE MOST DANGEROUS THING, which I enjoyed reading last weekend and had me clocking some late hours on Saturday night. Taking a break from her Tess Monaghan series, Lippman weaves together the story of an uneasy reunion between former friends who are now confronting the secrets that drove them apart years ago. Norah Piehl has our review and says, “In the novel, ‘the most dangerous thing’ is truth that is neither seen nor understood. Her storytelling reviews that truth --- and far more besides.”

Fans of Scandinavian crime writers like Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo will definitely want to check out Jussi Adler-Olsen’s THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES, which marks his major U.S. debut. Adler-Olsen won the prestigious Glass Key, which is awarded to the top Scandinavian crime writer. This is a fast-paced mystery about a down-and-out detective who’s been confined to a basement full of cold cases. He begins re-investigating the case of one of Denmark’s young, rising political stars who vanished without a trace years ago and soon discovers the case isn’t too cold after all. I read it in manuscript form --- and loved it.

Some of you may remember this as one of our special Sneak Peek: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book features earlier this year. If you were one of our chosen readers, check out this site to see if one of your review quotes is being featured on the reviews page. There’s a great guessing game that unfolds here as well as a good dose of humor, especially between the detective and his Syrian assistant. Joe Hartlaub has our review and says, “Jussi Adler-Olsen is one of those authors just now being introduced to American audiences...THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES (originally titled WOMAN IN A CAGE), the first in his Department Q series, was published in 2007. Three have been released since then in Denmark, so we have some catching up to do here. And believe me when I tell you that we will want to do so, if THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES is any indication.” Also, it’s hard to miss this one at the store with its fiery orange cover!

We have our review of UNMEASURED STRENGTH by Lauren Manning this week, the book that I shared my thoughts about last week. Stephen Hubbard has our review and says, “UNMEASURED STRENGTH is an extraordinary book. It is heartbreaking and shocking, compassionate and uplifting. It is a testament to determination and to love. Manning shows that life has things worth fighting for, if you have the clarity to see them and to fight unwaveringly until the end. Often we find them too late, in the midst of crisis or tragedy.”

I was thrilled to see The Help hit No. 1 at the box office over the weekend, which is very rare for a movie in its second week of release. It just missed the top spot during its opening, but some strong reviews and certainly a lot of word-of-mouth between book lovers thrust it to the top! In other movie news, I got to see Sarah’s Key earlier this week and loved it. I had heard so much about the book over the years, especially as it was named one of the Top 10 Discussion Books in our anniversary survey and one of the Top 25 picks for 2010. It’s a powerful story that translated so well to the screen. The location shots enhanced my reading experience, though when we watched, both my friend Beverley and I said that we really were glad we had read the book first as it filled in so many of the pieces for us.

We had more than 1,326 entries in our previous poll asking if you own an eReader, and, if so, which do you own? Thanks to everyone who voted, as this data really gives us an idea of how our readers are reading and what technology they’re choosing. Kindles and Nooks made up 63% of the vote with 17% owning iPads and 15% percent saying they will never convert. This week’s poll asks, “Do you have 'book guilt' about the books you have purchased and have not read?” Vote here.

Nice news this week that Karin Slaughter has released a short story called THORN IN MY SIDE, which is on sale for $1.99. She wrote it to help raise money for Save the Libraries, which, as she says, is her "crazy cause to keep library doors open and help ensure folks have free public access to reading." ALL her proceeds from the sale of this short story go to Save the Libraries in the US and The Reading Agency in the UK. Buy it and feel good about keeping a library's doors open!

Last weekend I read RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles (order from Indiebound or Amazon), which is a smart escapist novel. It’s beautifully written with great visual prose that will have you dropped right into 1938. It opens in a jazz bar on New Year’s Eve when Katey Kontent and her friend Eve meet Tinker Grey, a bon vivant banker. The book looks at what happens to these characters over the next year, as Katey drops into a world of wealth and status, including a job at Conde Nast (which the ex-magazine girl here loved reading about). There are LOTS of cocktails mentioned in the book, especially ones with gin in them. I am not much of a drinker, but found myself craving a gin and tonic as I read. Perfect summer weekend book!

There’s lots more to explore, so read on. For everyone on the East Coast, here’s to weathering the storm. Next newsletter I’ll let you know where we ended up! And what I read when I got there!!

And as I have been saying now for 15 years, thank you for reading and being a part of

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Fiction)
A mesmerizing, moving and elegantly written debut novel, THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS beautifully weaves past and present, creating 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. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-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.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: FLASH AND BONES by Kathy Reichs

FLASH AND BONES by Kathy Reichs (Thriller)
Just as 200,000 fans are pouring into town for Race Week, a body is found in a barrel of asphalt next to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The next day, a NASCAR crew member comes to Temperance Brennan’s office at the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner to share a devastating story. Twelve years earlier, Wayne Gamble’s sister, Cindi, disappeared, along with her boyfriend. Reviewed by Roz Shea.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE MOST DANGEROUS THING by Laura Lippman

THE MOST DANGEROUS THING by Laura Lippman (Psychological Thriller)
Years ago, they were all the best of friends. As time passed and circumstances changed, they grew apart, became adults with families of their own, and began to forget about the past --- and the terrible lie they all shared. But now Gordon has died, and the others are thrown together for the first time in years. And then the revelations start. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES by Jussi Adler-Olsen

THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Psychological Thriller)
Chief detective Carl Mørck used to be one of Copenhagen's best homicide detectives. Now Carl has been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigations division that turns out to be a department of one. But when his colleagues snicker about the time he's wasting trying to find a missing politician who vanished five years earlier, Carl may have the last laugh --- and redeem himself in the process. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to read a review.
In Stores August 29th: THE CUT by George Pelecanos

THE CUT by George Pelecanos (Thriller)
THE CUT is the first book in a series starring recent Iraqi vet-turned-private-investigator Spero Lucas, who recovers stolen property for the clients of a defense attorney for a 40% cut. But he comes upon a web of corruption that even the enticement of the cut cannot top. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

Click here to read a review.
In Stores August 30th: UNMEASURED STRENGTH by Lauren Manning

UNMEASURED STRENGTH by Lauren Manning (Memoir)
She had a big job on Wall Street, a loving husband and an infant son, and a confidence born of intelligence and beauty. But on 9/11, good fortune was no match for catastrophe. When a wall of flame at the World Trade Center burned more than 80 percent of her body, Lauren Manning began a 10-year journey of survival and rebirth that tested her almost beyond human endurance. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.


Click here to read a review.
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.

-Click here to read a second 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.
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 third 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.
Now Available in Paperback: THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY by Marian Keyes

THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY by Marian Keyes (Fiction)
Marian Keyes's inimitable blend of rollicking humor, effervescent prose, and captivating stories that deal with real-life issues have won readers around the globe. Reminiscent of the blockbuster movie Love, Actually, her new novel, THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY, features seven neighbors whose lives become entangled when a sassy and prescient spirit descends on 66 Star Street to radically transform at least one person's life in the Dublin town house. With the comic appeal of Nick Hornby's novels and delicious drama akin to Jane Green, THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY will keep readers guessing, laughing, gasping, and in tears until the very last page.

-Click here to read a review.

Click here to read more about the book.
Now in Stores: UNSAID by Neil Abramson

UNSAID by Neil Abramson (Fiction)
UNSAID is told from the perspective of Helena Colden, a veterinarian who has just died of breast cancer. Helena is forced to witness the rapid emotional deterioration of her husband, David. With Helena's passing, David, a successful Manhattan attorney, loses the only connection that made his life full. He tries to carry on the life that Helena had created for them, but he is too grief-stricken, too angry, and too quickly reabsorbed into the demands of his career. Helena's animals likewise struggle with the loss of their understanding and compassionate human companion. Because of Helena, David becomes involved in a court case to save the life of a chimpanzee that may hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of animals' consciousness. Through this case, all the threads of Helena's life entwine and explode --- unexpectedly, painfully, beautifully.

Click here to read more about the book.’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've been spotlighting a different title and offering a contest to win one of three copies of the book. Check the site until Wednesday, August 31st to see the featured book and enter to win. We've also been 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 29th at noon ET.

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

THE MEASURE OF THE MAGIC: Legends of Shannara by Terry Brooks (Fantasy)
For 500 years, the survivors of the Great Wars lived peacefully in a valley sanctuary shielded by powerful magic from the blighted and dangerous outside world. But the enchanted barriers have crumbled, the borders have been breached by predators, and the threat of annihilation looms large once more. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

THICK AS THIEVES by Peter Spiegelman (Thriller)
Ex-CIA agent Carr is the reluctant leader of an elite crew planning a robbery of such extraordinary proportions that it will leave them all set for life. Diamonds, money-laundering and extortion go into a timed-to-the-minute scheme that unfurls across South America, Miami and Grand Cayman Island. But soon Carr will discover that few of his crew are what they seem to be, and even his own past might be built on a lie. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME by Donald Ray Pollock (Suspense)
Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s --- from a tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific whose wife is dying of cancer, to a husband-and-wife team of serial kill­ers, to a spider-handling preacher and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

YOSSARIAN SLEPT HERE: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home, and Life Was a Catch-22 by Erica Heller (Memoir)
Erica Heller’s sometimes scarifying, but often hilarious, memoir of life as Joseph Heller’s daughter provides some of the brushstrokes and shading to complete Tracy Daugherty’s more comprehensive portrait in his new Heller biography, JUST ONE CATCH. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

THE WOODCUTTER by Reginald Hill (Mystery)
There was a mysterious period in Wolf Hadda’s youth when he disappeared from home and was known to his employers as the Woodcutter. And now the Woodcutter is back, looking for the truth --- and revenge. Can prison psychiatrist Alva Ozigbo intervene before his pursuit of vengeance takes him to a place from which he can never come back? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

TONY AND SUSAN by Austin Wright (Thriller)
Susan Morrow divorced her aspiring author husband, Edward Sheffield, many years ago, and has long settled into her imperfect yet comfortable marriage with her surgeon husband and their children. When Edward asks her for a favor, she discovers if critiquing her ex-husband's novel manuscript can change her life --- and, if so, if it's for better or for worse. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

A DECADE OF HOPE: Stories of Grief and Endurance from 9/11 Families and Friends by Dennis Smith with Deirdre Smith (Current Events)
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Often, the most overlooked stories are that of the 9/11 first responders, their families, and the victims' families over the past decade. Dennis Smith addresses this important topic in a series of interviews with the heroes and families of those most affected. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

SILENT ENEMY by Thomas W. Young (Thriller)
Four years after the events of THE MULLAH’S STORM, jihadists strike the Afghan National Police training center in Kabul, killing many and wounding others. The injured are loaded onto a C-5 Galaxy bound for Germany, but once airborne, the commander, Major Michael Parson, receives a message. The jihadists have placed bombs on some planes leaving Afghanistan, and the Galaxy is one of them. If Parson tries to descend, the bomb will go off. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Young Adult Books You Want to Read
As you may or may not know, our company, The Book Report Network, has a number of websites about books and authors in addition to Throughout the year, features adult books on, our site for young adult readers, that we think will have definite appeal to a teen audience. In the spirit of sharing, we are now spotlighting a selection of titles each month from that we believe are great reads that you might enjoy.

Here are our latest featured titles:

CLEOPATRA'S MOON by Vicky Alvear Shecter (Historical Fiction)
For anyone who desires a different experience or who tires of pointless romance, I highly suggest CLEOPATRA'S MOON as an entertaining read that stands apart. This is historical fiction that delivers cerebral images while centering on a strong heroine with modern feminist ideals and unusual strength of character. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

THE MARGRAVE: Relic Master, Book Four by Catherine Fisher (Fantasy)
Galen and Raffi's quest has brought them to the Pits of Maar. There, below the surface of the world, in the deepest darkness, a most evil thing is waiting for them to come. THE MARGRAVE is the startling conclusion to Catherine Fisher's Relic Master series, where the travelers must confront knowledge about the origins of their world and the truth about themselves. Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood.

INGENUE by Jillian Larkin (Historical Romance)
Gloria and Jerome arrive in New York City and begin searching for work in any and all nightclubs. Both have music in their veins --- Jerome is a talented piano player, and Gloria is a budding singer. But the year is 1924, and life isn't easy for a biracial couple, especially when they are running from both the law and the mob. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE BABYSITTER MURDERS by Janet Ruth Young (Fiction)
Everyone has weird thoughts sometimes. But for 17-year-old Dani Solomon, strange thoughts have taken over her life. She loves Alex, the little boy she babysits, more than anything. But one day, she has a vision of murdering him that's so gruesome, she can't get it out of her mind. She confesses her thoughts to keep him safe, which sets off a media frenzy. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

Click here to see all the young adult books you want to read.
Poll, Question and Word of Mouth


Do you have "book guilt" about the books you have purchased and have not read?

Yes, all the time
Yes, but I calm myself by just continuing to read.
I never thought about this.

-Click here to answer our poll.


What book do you feel most guilty about not having read?

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth:

Tell us your current reading recommendations with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars. During the contest period from August 26th - September 9th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of LASSITER by Paul Levine, THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern and THE WINTERS IN BLOOM by Lisa Tucker.

-Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.

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