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September 30, 2011 Newsletter September 30, 2011
And the Leaves that are Green Turn to Brown

I am looking out the window and see brown leaves on the ground. There were some floating in the pool this morning that I was pushing out of the way as I swam. Actually I was gathering them in my hands and tossing them on the side of the pool as I made the turn. Wonder if Michael Phelps ever tried that maneuver! For those wondering, yes, my trusty wetsuit has been pulled out for swimming as the temperature of the water has been holding at 70. I fear I am on my last week or so of churning up the water in the pool here until next May.

Last weekend, I realized that the aqua–colored linen wrap that I was knitting needed to be put aside, and I had to start creating something a bit cozier and toastier to wear as I realized the number of times I would be wearing the linen wrap, even if I finished it quickly, were going to be few and far between. I am so glad that books are not seasonal items. That would be such a bore.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a book that I was reading called A GOOD AMERICAN, which is coming out in February. In it, Frederick and Jette Meisenheimer settle in Missouri in 1904 after leaving their home in Germany; Jette is pregnant and the couple is unmarried. Their journey starts with a rushed race from town as their secret has been discovered. Narrated in the voice of their son, James, it moves on through the years as they raise their family. Often stories like this are told through the eyes of women, not men. Loved this voice as a result.

Throughout the book, there is a thread about our families all being immigrants in this country as we all came from other places, and this made me think a lot. It also touches on the theme of families and how they are complicated, but also how they define us. Throughout the book, people start one journey and end up on another, which often springs from casual encounters, like so much of life. Nothing unfolded just the way I would have expected it to, also much like real life. It definitely will be a Bets On selection. And in October, we will be giving away advance reading copies for book groups to sample on; it will be a discussion-worthy read.

Last weekend, when we got together for my dad’s birthday, my mom mentioned an interest in reading JACQUELINE KENNEDY: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, which is accompanied by a series of wonderful audio pieces. My mom was raising my sister and me during the same years that Jackie was raising Caroline and John. Like many women her age, she appreciated Jackie as a cultural and fashion icon. She continued to talk about the book the following day and in a conversation on Monday morning. I knew she wanted to read it, but she rarely buys books, preferring to borrow them from the library. In her words, she is in the years where she tries to accumulate less, hence the books and toys from my own childhood that have found their way from her attic --- to mine!

I got the feeling this was the kind of book she would want to keep --- and share --- thus I decided to buy a copy and send it to her as a surprise. I often buy her yarn that I think she will like as I travel, and I pass along books to her, but I think this may be the first time I bought her a book as a non-occasion gift. Nice to do, and it was really lovely to picture her face when a package she never expected arrived at her door! Spontaneity can be such a nice thing.

Busy week this week as we welcome FOUR new staffers to the office. Dana Wilson, our Editorial Assistant, will be working with Tom Donadio, our Editorial Director; she wrote the headlines and promos you see this week below and on the site, among other tasks. Katherine Tandler is our Editorial Promotion Assistant, who pulled together the content for this newsletter and also will be managing our social media, as well as handling other projects. Ashlyn Behrndt is our new intern, and she will be working to help gather materials for many of our features. And Liz Hartman is our new Advertising and Promotion Director. We had someone new starting each day from Monday through Thursday! Looking forward to working with all of them.

We have a great lineup of reviews this week. First is THE AFFAIR by Lee Child, which is a prequel to the much-heralded Jack Reacher series, bringing us the story of how and why Reacher became the hero we know; I think of it as “why Reacher became Reacher.” As Reacher becomes a self-appointed investigator of a local murder, he learns some secrets about the small town to which he is dispatched. In the words of reviewer Joe Hartlaub, Reacher is the “archetypal thriller protagonist” and THE AFFAIR is “one of the most noteworthy books of 2011.”

In FEAST DAY OF FOOLS by James Lee Burke, Hack Holland is at it again; this time, he is working alone as a sheriff in a rural Texas town that is anything but idyllic. Rather, its isolated location is ideal for drug smugglers and other illegal business, and when a mass grave of young prostitutes is discovered, Hack has his hands full. Feast your eyes on new characters, and maybe even some familiar faces in this latest from Burke, of whom Roz Shea says “you can feel, taste, touch and smell his scenes and characters at a level to which other writers aspire, but rarely achieve.” Joe Hartlaub offers his take as well: "FEAST DAY OF FOOLS is a parable shot through with unforgettable narrative metaphor and characters, good and bad, who will find permanent stations in your waking hours and nightmares." And yes, this is a rare time when we are sharing two reviews of the same book. For the record, I also think this is one stunning cover.

THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD is a polarizing new novel from Rebecca Coleman. The book begins with a recognizable theme: the suburban family that starts to crumble as husband and wife grows more estranged. When she discovers a habit of her husband’s that disturbs her, Judy McFarland makes the decision once and for all to give up on her marriage. Yet, once she does, her life begins to spiral out of control, culminating in not just an extramarital affair, but one with her 16-year-old son’s close friend, a student at the school where Judy is a teacher. As Judy “trespasses into adultery, then statutory rape, and finally madness,” Melanie Smith writes, readers are “overcome” by the “power of strong literature.”

I found myself completely caught up in this book, even though the subject matter was so disturbing, the exact words that our early readers used over and over again in their comments about this in our Sneak Peek feature earlier this year. Watching the characters spiral into madness was so well done. In our editorial meeting this week, Dana and Katherine both referenced the movie Notes on a Scandal, which was based on Zoe Heller's Booker Prize-nominated title when I told them about the plot. Similar, but not the same!

I got to spend time with Alma Katsu, the debut author of THE TAKER, last Friday as she talked about the origins of her book. She also revealed a little background tidbit that, while it has nothing to do with her book, was pretty interesting. She used to be with the CIA, working in the area of genocide and other atrocities; in other words, what makes people become mad like the rulers in Rwanda. In between her work there, she started writing a book, a project that took 10 years and became THE TAKER. The book opens in a Maine hospital emergency room where a woman reveals to the doctor that she has killed a man, but for good reason. And she needs to escape. That doctor agrees to help her. But this is not a usual patient; it ends up that she is immortal, something she accepted that brought consequences she will regret.

THE TAKER moves across centuries, as well as around the world, in a story that belies the fact that the author is a debut writer. Usually debut authors do not attempt a plot this complicated. Alma says of the book that it “combined many influences on my life” --- a childhood in “ancient” and creaky houses in a town near Concord, MA that had five graveyards, a love of Johnny Tremain, and literary influences from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Vladimir Nabokov. For a first novel, THE TAKER certainly has its bases covered! I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. As our reviewer Amy Gwiazdowski says, "With one book, Alma Katsu is now an author I will be waiting on. She tells a daring, harsh and unapologetic tale with a main character who has you wrapped around her little finger until the very last word."

Though you probably recognize him from American movies and TV, you may not know that Rin Tin Tin is actually French! That’s right, owner Lee Duncan rescued him from a bombed-out kennel while doing a tour of duty in France during World War I. His love for the dog propelled him to make Rin Tin Tin into a star, and it is this fascinating history that Susan Orlean, staff writer at The New Yorker, chronicles in her book. Kate Ayers says, “Baby boomers will eat...up” this story of America that “needed desperately to believe in a moral world,” and was so eager, therefore, to choose “man’s best friend” for company.

A few weeks ago, I selected RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles as a Bets On pick. Sporty coupes, jazz and liquor in downtown bars, everyone out to make a buck. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s New York City in the 1930s --- how could one expect it to be civilized? Social tension, a changing economy, and the boundaries of friendship, all captured in a threesome formed by humble roommates Katey and Eve, and landed banker Tinker, are what Amor explores in this Gatsby-esque debut novel. According to reviewer Bronwyn Miller, this is “a carefully observed and beautifully written portrait of a distinct moment in time,” a wonderful period piece. I love when our reviewers enjoy the books we share as much as me!

After years of writing, Valerie Frankel, prolific author and journalist who has contributed to everything from The New York Times to Glamour, is not afraid to speak her mind. Her latest book, IT’S HARD NOT TO HATE YOU, is a testament to her openness, a memoir that takes hatred as its main theme. At times poignant and, at others, hilarious, Frankel tells her life story through a series of vignettes that each revolve around something or someone she hates. Terry Miller Shannon calls it “all too relatable.” I worked with Val years ago at Mademoiselle, and thus I look forward to reading this one!

We know that Word of Mouth is one of our readers' favorite features, and that came to light this week when I was having a conversation with one of my publisher friends, Bibi. She told the story of her cousin who discovered a book on our Word of Mouth section and called her raving about how she wanted to read it. Aha, we do not call it "Word of Mouth" for nothing. Speaking of word of mouth, know that as of this week it's easy to share all reviews, features and other content on our site with an exact description tag of the piece there. Our web developer needed to make some tweaks to get this right, so share share share...

Speaking of sharing, this week we have our monthly update of Young Adult Books YOU Want to Read --- five Young Adult books, including two with authors whose names you may know: Harlan Coben and James Patterson. And for the teens in your house, give THEM a heads-up that today we have launched our Book O'Lantern contest on You can read details on how they can win books --- and holiday-themed treats --- below.

Something to note for those of you who like literary travel. I will be at the Miami Book Fair from November 16th-20th. It’s always a favorite weekend of mine as I get to see a number of authors and spend time with readers. I always come back with a longer reading list. The organizers of the Fair are offering some nice discounts on travel, including airfare, hotels and more. Click here to learn more. Above, on the far left, we share a look at the poster for the Fair, which always is a collector’s item. It was created by Ye Hongxing, a native of China whose artwork has earned her a place in the top exhibitions around the world.

Tuesday night this week, I am planning to go to the Clinton Bookshop to see Hillary Jordan talk about her new book, WHEN SHE WOKE, which we have been featuring as a One to Watch title and will be in stores on Friday. If you live in the area of the Clinton Bookshop in New Jersey, be sure to stop by to meet her between 7-9PM on Tuesday --- and I also will have a report on this next week!

May the leaves not fall too fast lest I need to think about raking them. I have reading to do this weekend! Here’s wishing you all a great week of reading --- and sharing.

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: THE AFFAIR by Lee Child

THE AFFAIR: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child (Thriller)
Everything starts somewhere… For elite military cop Jack Reacher, that somewhere was Carter Crossing, Mississippi, back in 1997. A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A coverup. Now a young woman is dead, and evidence points to a soldier at a nearby military base. Reacher is ordered undercover --- but in Carter Crossing, he finds layers no one saw coming, and the investigation spins out of control. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: FEAST DAY OF FOOLS by James Lee Burke

FEAST DAY OF FOOLS by James Lee Burke (Thriller)
Sheriff Hackberry Holland patrols a small Texas border town with a deep respect for its citizens. When an alcoholic ex-boxer reports that he witnessed a man tortured to death in the desert, Hack's investigation leads to the home of Anton Ling, a mysterious Chinese woman known for sheltering illegals. Ling denies any association with the crime, but something about her compels Hackberry to return to her home again and again. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

-Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to read TWO reviews.
Now in Stores: THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD by Rebecca Coleman
THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD by Rebecca Coleman (Fiction)
A well-respected teacher in a prestigious Maryland school maintains a pristine public image while stumbling privately toward disaster and (ultimately) madness. Suffering from severe depression and lamenting her doomed marriage, Judy willfully abandons her high ideals to engage in an appalling affair with a 16-year-old boy, a friend of her son’s. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
An Interview with Alma Katsu, Author of THE TAKER

THE TAKER, Alma Katsu’s debut novel, begins with Lanny, an immortal woman who arrives at a hospital in Maine in the middle of a cold night and confesses to a murder. Inspired in part by Katsu’s upbringing in “ancient houses that creaked with every passing breeze,” Lanny’s complex saga gradually unfolds, telling of a world where magic, reality and timeless love converge. In this interview, Katsu discusses her childhood fascination with “the spooky and supernatural,” and ties the atmospheric components of the story to her unique ideas about the coexistence of science, religion and human experience. She also describes the process of simultaneously writing in multiple voices, tenses and time periods, and gives several tantalizing glimpses into the two upcoming sequels.

THE TAKER by Alma Katsu (Historical/Supernatural Fiction)
A woman covered in blood with no obvious injuries is brought into the emergency room of a small hospital in Maine. Believing she may be in shock, the on-call doctor keeps her for observation. When she begins to tell the doctor about her life, it makes him wonder if what he’s hearing is true or an incredible tale woven by a potential murderer. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.


-Click here to read a review.

Click here to read an interview.
Now in Stores: THE RACE by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott

THE RACE: An Isaac Bell Adventure by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott (Thriller/Action & Adventure)
In 1910, a contest is awarding $50,000 to the first aviator to cross America in less than 50 days. One of the top candidates is Josephine Frost --- whose husband just killed her lover, tried to kill her, and is bound to try again. Investigator Bell has tangled with Harry Frost before, and if he takes the case, Frost will be after him, too. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: RIN TIN TIN by Susan Orlean

RIN TIN TIN: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean (Biography)
Millions of us watched the famous canine star, but few of us knew about his roots. Who owned him? How did he become a movie star? Where did he come from? Susan Orlean answers these questions and many more in her beautifully researched biography of Rin Tin Tin. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles

RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles (Historical Fiction)
Set in New York City in 1938, RULES OF CIVILITY tells the story of an uncompromising 25-year-old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: IT’S HARD NOT TO HATE YOU by Valerie Frankel

IT’S HARD NOT TO HATE YOU: A Memoir by Valerie Frankel (Memoir/Essays)
In this entertaining memoir, humorist Valerie Frankel targets her own oft-felt hatred in a series of essays that are frequently hilarious, but are also often thought-provoking and revealing. Frankel reveals her personal History of Hate, from mean girls in junior high to selfish boyfriends in her 20s and old professional rivals. By the end of her authentic emotional experience, Frankel finds that toxic emotions are actually good for you. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.


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 third 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.
Announcing’s Second Annual Book O’Lantern Contest!

Got a teen in your house? Note that is celebrating the season of ghouls and ghosts with our Second Annual Book O'Lantern Contest! Between now and Friday, October 21st, teens can enter to win a bag perfect for trick-or-treating, filled with a few special sweet treats, plus some spooky reads that will help make the scariest season of them all last well beyond Halloween.

Fifteen winners each will receive a selection of books from our list of featured titles, which includes the following:

-ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick
-A BEAUTIFUL DARK by Jocelyn Davies
-BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton
-DARK EDEN by Patrick Carman
-FATEFUL by Claudia Gray
-FROST by Marianna Baer
-GOSSIP GIRL, PSYCHO KILLER by Cecily von Ziegesar
-THE HOMELAND DIRECTIVE by Robert Venditti and Mike Huddleston
-LOST IN TIME: A Blue Blood Novel by Melissa de la Cruz
-MISFIT by Jon Skovron
-THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab
-POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil
-ROTTERS by Daniel Kraus
-THE SECRET CIRCLE: The Initiation and The Captive Part I TV Tie-In Edition by L. J. Smith
-SUPERNATURALLY by Kiersten White
-SWEET VENOM by Tera Lynn Childs
-SWEETLY by Jackson Pearce

Click here to read all the contest details.
This Week’s Reviews

THE END OF THE WASP SEASON by Denise Mina (Mystery)
A woman brutally murdered. A detective pregnant with twins. Lost boys, parents both cruel and caring, a complex plot that ranges from the mean streets of Glasgow to its ritzier enclaves. Gritty and sensitive at the same time, THE END OF THE WASP SEASON is first-class crime fiction. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

During one long night, as Nina sits by the body of her newly deceased husband Philip, she pieces their marriage together from scraps of memory. The resulting mosaic is a moving, honest and deeply satisfying depiction of a complicated relationship. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

QUARRY’S EX by Max Allan Collins (Mystery)
Bestselling author Max Allan Collins brings back his series featuring the hit man known only as Quarry in an original story for the publisher Hard Case Crime. On a Nevada desert movie set in 1980, Quarry has to face not only a ruthless killer and the mob, but also the very reason he became a hit man in the first place. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

LEARNING TO BREATHE: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life by Priscilla Warner (Memoir)
Panic attacks and severe anxiety had plagued Priscilla most of her life. Medication and therapy only partially and temporarily eliminated her distress. She was determined to find the peace and serenity that continued to elude her. In this memoir, she frankly shares her sometimes humorous, sometimes emotionally painful, and always determined journey through various treatments, practices and therapies. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

IRMA VOTH by Miriam Toews (Fiction)
Irma is a teenager burdened with a terrible secret. She is isolated in the rural farming community in Mexico in which her family has settled. Shunned by her Mennonite family when she marries a Mexican stranger, her life takes a detour when a movie crew begins filming nearby. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

BAD INTENTIONS: An Inspector Sejer Mystery by Karin Fossum (Mystery)
In the newest installment of the Inspector Sejer series, Konrad Sejer must face down his memories and fears as he struggles to determine why the corpses of troubled young men keep surfacing in local lakes. As the various cases unfold, Sejer begins to feel his age weigh on him. Does he still have the strength to pursue the elusive explanations for human evil? 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:

WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick (Fiction)
Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SHELTER: A Mickey Bolitar Novel by Harlan Coben (Mystery)
After witnessing his father’s death and sending his mom to rehab, Mickey Bolitar is forced to live with his estranged uncle and move to a new high school. Things start to improve when Mickey gets a new girlfriend, Ashley --- until she disappears. In search of Ashley, Mickey is lured into a seedy underworld that obscures his reality and calls into question everything he once knew. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DANIEL X: GAME OVER by James Patterson and Ned Rust (Science Fiction)
When Daniel X discovers that a duo of evil extraterrestrials is plotting to control kids around the world through video games, he's determined to take them both out of commission. These wicked game masters are also running an endangered species hunting club on the side, and their next target is none other than Daniel. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

MICHAEL VEY: THE PRISONER OF CELL 25 by Richard Paul Evans (Science Fiction/Action & Adventure)
Michael Vey thinks his electric super powers is a secret that only his mom and best friend know about. But then he discovers they aren’t so secret after all and he’s not the only one who has them. A private corporation has set out to collect all 17 of the gifted teens with plans to rule the world. And they will stop at nothing to get what they want. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THIS DARK ENDEAVOR: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel (Science Fiction/Thriller)
Victor Frankenstein’s twin, Konrad, has fallen ill. In his desperation to save him, Victor searches for the ingredients to the fabled Elixir of Life. With the help of his cousin Elizabeth and his best friend Henry, Victor will do anything to help Konrad --- even if it means embracing madness. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.


Click here to see all the young adult books you'll want to read.
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.

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