Skip to main content

September 23, 2011 Newsletter September 23, 2011
Fall: It's Here!

Just when I was getting into the groove of summer, along comes fall. Right now is my least favorite time of year for figuring out what to wear. Mornings and evenings can be cool and crisp, but the days can be muggy and warm. After my Conde Nast fashionette years, I know better than to wear white or light-colored clothes, but I am just not ready for a sea of gray, brown and black. It’s what we called a “transition season,” but somehow we used to make that sound exciting, which it is not.

Last weekend, when I was headed to St. Louis, I was trying to remember what I wore when it was 60 degrees; I know I have gotten dressed when it was 60 degrees, but I honestly have no recollection of what I wore. We used to tell readers at the magazine to take Polaroid pictures (remember those?) of their outfits each season --- including jewelry --- and I used to think WHO does not remember what they wear from season-to-season? I now can raise my hand and say, “ME!”

When I left off with you last week, I was in St. Louis zipping from my hotel room off to Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention events. As opposed to many conventions that are trade show events with only publishing professionals in attendance, this show is a fan conference and has lots and lots of readers. In fact, the combination of authors, publishing personnel, press and readers meant that more than 1,600 were there. The programming was so well done, with panel pairings that were put together with great wit and humor, clever titles, subject matter and the selection of panelists.

One of the most fun panels, called "Trouble: Hank Phillippi Ryan and 5 Well-Behaved Young Writers, had Harlan Coben, Joseph Finder, Steve Hamilton, Ridley Pearson and Jeff Abbott on it, and they were corralled --- I mean, moderated --- by Hank. Many writers at Bouchercon came up through the ranks together, and when they gather, it’s all about remembering the good old days before they were household names. And they do mean that. I walked into the bar at one point, and Harlan, Laura Lippman, Mark Billingham and a cluster of others were having a kind of old home week with lots of "remember whens."

Gregg Hurwitz did not disappoint as he interviewed Robert Crais, keeping Mr. Crais very much on tenterhooks with his questions. Eoin Colfer was his usual witty self, doing author duty on three panels talking about his first adult novel, PLUGGED, that we and many others have been giving raves to. He was sporting a beard, and I joked that he grew this to show folks he’s a grown-up author; as you know, he has been wildly successful with his Artemis Fowl series for kids. Guess they wanted to make his trip over from Ireland worth it! People at Bouchercon too were just wild about PLUGGED.

I loved meeting Chevy Stevens for the first time, a highlight of the show for me. Her books, STILL MISSING and NEVER KNOWING, are huge favorites of mine, and getting the chance to catch up with her was lovely. She also told me how much she appreciated the interview that had done with her as the questions were out of the box. I hear that a lot from authors; we are known for writing questions that make authors think.

Nice also to hear Kevin Guilfoile (his CAST OF SHADOWS had been a favorite of mine) interviewing Sara Paretsky and then see him again on a panel with Chelsea Cain, Sophie Hannah and Katia Lief. No matter how many events I attend, there always are things that I miss at conference.

I did get to see the Arch from afar as I walked around town, and the party that HarperCollins threw had a fabulous view of it from the window. But as I read Facebook feeds from other attendees, I realized I missed seeing the Clydesdale Horses. Now THOSE I would have wanted to see, as the Budweiser commercials with them on the Super Bowl are among my favorites. And one of our readers, Kathy in St. Louis, encouraged me to visit Art Hill in Forest Park where there was an exhibit of 3,000 flags, each labeled with a 9/11 victim's name, personal info and picture. She continued and commented, “I thought I knew what 3,000 lives looked like, but I was wrong.” Alas, I did not have time for that but wish I had been able to see it.

The show will be in Cleveland next year from October 4-7, and you can read more about it here. I plan to hit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! My next event is New York Comic Con October 13-16, and then I stay put until the Miami Book Fair; I’ll be there from November 16-20 where I will be moderating the Fourth Annual Day of Comics for Teachers and Librarians on Thursday, November 17th in addition to just enjoying the Fair. Much, much more on those events to come.

I was not the only one in our family on the road these last two weeks. My husband did a business trip to an oil rig where he “choppered out” an hour into the Gulf of Mexico from southern Louisiana. Made the adventure of a direct flight to St. Louis pale by comparison. Then this week he went to Milwaukee, which gave him tons of reading time. He was reading WHEN SHE WOKE by Hillary Jordan, which is our latest One to Watch featured author and title. As he was walking through the airport after his flight, a man who had been seated near him called out and asked what he was reading. He was intrigued as Tom had barely looked up the entire flight. Tom gave him a quick synopsis of WHEN SHE WOKE, as his fellow traveler wrote down the title. He also told him about, as he had told the crew on the rig. (I found myself picturing a book club event on the rig!) I should send him with a stack of MY business cards next time.

Last week, I shared my mother’s story of searching for a David Baldacci book, but accidentally grabbing --- and enjoying --- a Linwood Barclay novel at her local library. One of our readers, Kathryn from Warrenton, Virginia, a former library page, wrote to say she often wondered how Nelson Mandela would feel sandwiched between Barbara Mandrell and Madonna. Too funny!

Our reviews this week are headlined by Sandra Brown’s LETHAL. I think it’s Sandra at her finest with this one, as she just nails the right mix of characters and action. I always picture Sandra having as much fun plotting and typing as I do reading her books. While some authors of her stature seem to “phone it in,” she never does, and in LETHAL she pushes her craft even farther. Accused murderer Lee Coburn claims that Honor Gillette's beloved late husband possessed something extremely valuable that places Honor and her daughter in grave danger. Coburn has come to their house to retrieve it --- trying to beat others who want it at any cost. Joe Hartlaub has the review and says, “LETHAL is a masterwork by a master of suspense.”

THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach has been one of the year’s most anticipated debuts and hit the New York Times list at No. 8. Sports fans will catch the baseball reference as the story revolves around one player’s fielding error that forever changes his life and relationships. It’s received some glowing reviews, and our Stuart Shiffman adds his own, saying, “In a beautiful way, the love of baseball and of literature combine here to remind us of the fallibility of life.” Also, the development of this book is the subject of piece written by Keith Gessen for Vanity Fair, which you can buy and read here. I saw Ben Coes, the author of COUP D'ETAT, last week at Bouchercon, and he thinks it may be one of the best “behind the scenes” pieces on publishing that he has read. I have it slated to read this weekend.

Reviewer Harvey Freedenberg gives a “thumbs up” to legendary film critic Roger Ebert’s memoir, LIFE ITSELF, saying, “There are certain books it’s a privilege to review, and LIFE ITSELF is one of that small number.” This is a great glimpse into Ebert’s life as a critic, who could make or break a movie along with his partner Gene Siskel, as well as the medical complications and procedures he endured in recent years. I had the pleasure of seeing Ebert present at BookExpo America this year. His wife was with him to enable his presentation, and it was just as witty and wonderful as one might expect.

One more memoir to note is Theresa Weir’s THE ORCHARD, which is about a city girl who falls for a country boy and follows her heart to the family’s orchards. It’s an honest look at a whirlwind courtship and marriage, and the massive adjustment from city to country living complicated with some prickly in-laws. Reviewer Pauline Finch says, “The instant I laid eyes on the title of this book, I knew it was something I wanted to explore.”

It's hard to believe that we're coming up on seven weeks since the new site launched. We all truly appreciate the great feedback! Just a quick reminder for those still getting used to the new design and format: If you're having trouble finding your favorite features, you can click here. We've included all our regular features like New in Paperback and Books on Screen in one place to help readers navigate the site. Contributors to our Word of Mouth feature can continue to share their recent reads here. Our most recent batch of reader reviews from September can be read here.

While we all "think pink" in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in September we "think teal" as this month is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which people have been saying is not hard for me as it is one of my favorite colors! Sadly I lost two friends to ovarian cancer --- and whenever I think of this disease, I always remember the love and laughter of Gilda Radner.

Avon Books is joining forces with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance to urge women to learn about the symptoms of ovarian cancer --- and to help us spread the “K.I.S.S. and Teal” message (Know the Important Signs and Symptoms) to friends and family. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most deadly cancer for women. The overall five-year survival rate for all women with ovarian cancer is only 46 percent, compared to 73 percent for cervical cancer and 89 percent for breast cancer.

Avon Books has made an initial donation of $25,000 to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and also have committed to donating 25¢ from the sale of each book and eBook bearing the “K.I.S.S. and Teal” logo, sold between August 30, 2011 and February 28, 2012 --- up to an additional $25,000 --- towards programs that support ovarian cancer patients and their families.

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James’s life has been intimately affected by this disease --- and she has committed her voice to help spread the K.I.S.S. and Teal message, saying, “My mother died of ovarian cancer in her seventies. My college roommate’s mother died of the same disease in her sixties. One of my best friends, a brilliant professor, lost that battle in her forties. This disease strikes women of every age --- with potentially deadly consequences. If we planted a poppy for every woman who has died from ovarian cancer in the last decade, there would be fields upon fields --- millions of crimson blooms.” You can read more about the program and how to participate and donate here.

Been a busy week and a quiet weekend on tap. We are celebrating my dad's birthday, but beyond that, it's all about reading!

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: LETHAL by Sandra Brown

LETHAL by Sandra Brown (Thriller)
Accused murderer Lee Coburn claims that Honor Gillette's beloved late husband possessed something extremely valuable that places Honor and her four-year-old daughter in grave danger. Coburn has come to their house to retrieve it --- at any cost. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach

THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach (Fiction)
At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: LIFE ITSELF by Roger Ebert
LIFE ITSELF: A Memoir by Roger Ebert (Memoir)
Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert shifts his attention inward to offer an insightful, compassionate, witty and moving self-portrait of a life that’s been filled with both joy and suffering. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: SON OF STONE by Stuart Woods

SON OF STONE: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods (Mystery)
Stone Barrington is back in New York, and he's looking to stay closer to home and cash in on his partnership at Woodman & Weld. But his former love, Arrington Calder, has other plans for Stone...including introducing him to the child he fathered many years ago. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.


Click here to read a review.
Featured One to Watch Author: Hillary Jordan, Author of WHEN SHE WOKE

Hillary Jordan's dystopian novel, WHEN SHE WOKE, explores the relationship between crime and punishment, church and state in a not-too-distant future.

-Click here to read a second excerpt.
-Click here to read Hillary Jordan’s bio.
-Visit Hillary Jordan’s official website,
-Click here to see the winners selected to read and comment on the book.

More about WHEN SHE WOKE
Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family, but after her arrest, she awakens to a nightmare: she is lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes --- criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime --- is a new and sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, according to the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she’s shared a fierce and forbidden love.

Click here to read more about Hillary Jordan and WHEN SHE WOKE in our One to Watch feature.
Now in Stores: FORBIDDEN by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

FORBIDDEN by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (Thriller)
Bestselling author Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee have created an ingenious thriller set in a bleak, barren future where the only emotion that remains is fear. FORBIDDEN, the first book in their Books of Mortals series, begins a journey into an imaginative future that seems all too plausible. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: BIRDS OF PARADISE by Diana Abu-Jaber

BIRDS OF PARADISE by Diana Abu-Jaber (Fiction)
A girl who ran away from home five years previously must reckon with the guilty secret that drove her away, and has to face her fear of losing her family and her sense of self forever. Diana Abu-Jaber’s latest novel is about family and self, self-indulgence and generosity, against the vivid backdrop of contemporary Miami. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THERE BUT FOR THE by Ali Smith

THERE BUT FOR THE by Ali Smith (Fiction)
At a dinner party, Miles Garth suddenly leaves the table midway through the meal, locks himself in an upstairs room, and refuses to leave. An eclectic group of neighbors and friends slowly gathers around the house, and the story of Miles is told from the points of view of four of them. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE ORCHARD by Theresa Weir
THE ORCHARD: A Memoir by Theresa Weir (Memoir)
Theresa Weir’s THE ORCHARD is really two stories in one novelized memoir --- her patchwork existence before marrying into a midwest apple growing family, and how she found a purposeful life in a heroic effort to reclaim the dying art of traditional orchardists. Reviewed by Pauline Finch.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: HABIBI by Craig Thompson

HABIBI by Craig Thompson (Graphic Novel)
Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems and modern industrial clutter, HABIBI tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth --- and frailty --- of their connection.

At once contemporary and timeless, HABIBI gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.

-Click here to read an interview on
-Click here to visit Craig Thompson’s Facebook page.

Click here to read more.
Find Your Favorite Features on the New has a new look! With the new look, comes a new way of organizing our content to better meet the needs of you --- our readers!

To make that transition easier --- and to help you find your favorite features quickly, as well as some surprises --- we have created this index page that will take you directly to the specific feature you are trying to find.

Still not seeing your favorite feature? Send us a note at

Click here to find your favorite features.
This Week’s Reviews

PIRATE KING by Laurie R. King (Mystery)
In this latest adventure featuring the intrepid Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, Laurie R. King takes readers into the frenetic world of silent films --- where the pirates are real and the shooting isn’t all done with cameras. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

PREY by Linda Howard (Romantic Suspense)
Linda Howard brings us deep into the wild, where a smart and sexy outdoor guide and her ruggedly handsome competitor must join forces to survive --- and avoid becoming what they never expected to be: PREY. Reviewed by Hillary Wagy.

BLUEPRINTS FOR BUILDING BETTER GIRLS: Fiction by Elissa Schappell (Fiction/Short Stories)
In these eight darkly funny linked stories, Elissa Schappell delves into the lives of an eclectic cast of archetypal female characters to explore the commonly shared but rarely spoken-of experiences that build girls into women and women into wives and mothers. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

A BITTER TRUTH: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd (Historical Mystery)
When World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford takes leave, returning home to England from France, she stumbles upon a stranger needing her help --- a situation that leads her into a murder mystery in which she becomes a major suspect. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

CABIN: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine by Lou Ureneck (Memoir)
Confronted with the disappointments and knockdowns that can come in middle age, Lou Ureneck decided he needed to build a simple post-and-beam cabin in the woods. Helping him was his younger brother, Paul, which Lou saw as a way to reconnect with their shared history and to rediscover his truest self. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

GETTING OFF: A Novel of Sex & Violence by Lawrence Block writing as Jill Anderson (Crime Fiction)
Hard Case Crime returns with its first hardcover book by acclaimed mystery writer Lawrence Block, writing under the name Jill Emerson. GETTING OFF pushes the boundaries of both sex and violence in a noir tale of a woman who kills the men she sleeps with. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

SERIAL by John Lutz (Thriller)
In SERIAL, the latest Frank Quinn thriller, Quinn and his quirky, prickly team are brought in as consultants almost immediately when a fiend who quickly becomes known as the Skinner begins preying on seemingly random people in Manhattan. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

This Week’s Poll and Question: What Do You Do With Books You've Read?


What do you do with a book once you are finished with it?

I save it for my personal library.

I pass it along to a friend.
I donate it to my local library.
I donate it to another cause.
I sell it online.
I sell it back to a bookstore.

-Click here to answer our poll.


What was the last book you gave away, and what did you do with it?

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You’re Reading --- and You Could 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 September 22nd - October 6th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of THE BEST OF ME by Nicholas Sparks, MURDER UNLEASHED by Rita Mae Brown, and WHEN SHE WOKE by Hillary Jordan.

Click here for more details.

As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online or change your preferences below.

Those of you who wish to send mail to, please see the form on the Write to Us page. If you would like to reach me, please write Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Happy reading! Don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend or to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107