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October 7, 2011 Newsletter October 7, 2011
Here Comes a Looooong Weekend!

I spent last night at Back to School night at my younger son’s high school. He has a terrific group of enthused teachers, for which I am really grateful. His English teacher, Mrs. Phelan, made me think back on one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Halpern. When I got home last night, I spent some time trying to track her down via social media channels as I wanted to let her know how much she’s meant to me, but no luck so far. There were a handful of teachers like that, ones who made learning fun. All of mine were in the English and Communications area, which is no wonder given what I do. I was never a math and science kind of student.

Last weekend, I read THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty, a historical fiction novel, which is coming out next summer. I share it with you now as I want it to be a “you heard it here first” kind of book. It opens in the early 1920s in Wichita, Kansas where Cora Carlisle lives with her husband Alan and twin sons. The boys are growing up, and Cora is restless. She seizes a chance to go to New York with Louise Brooks, then just a local girl, to chaperone her as she practices and tries out for the Denishawn dance troupe. Cora has a secret reason for wanting to get back to New York, and Louise provides the perfect opportunity to get there.

While Louise twirls in and out of this story, it’s really Cora who is the star here. What she learns and what she does with this knowledge gives us a chance to see a woman who is living a very different life for her times while still keeping up appearances. I flew through it and then started Googling Louise Brooks. By the way, Laura’s book, THE REST OF HER LIFE, was one that I enjoyed enormously. THE CHAPERONE takes her work on a really different course, and I am very impressed with how she changed gears.

Speaking of changing gears, I also read Raymond Khoury’s THE DEVIL’S ELIXIR, which will be in stores on December 27th. Once again Raymond delivers a brilliant thriller, but this time he pushes his writing to a new level, alternating first and third person voices throughout the book. Sean Reilly and Tess Chaykin, who you may remember from his Templar books, are back. This time, they are on the hunt for a drug kingpin who has formulated a catastrophic drug, and they are also embroiled with the DEA as they try to track it down. And along the way, Sean comes across a surprise that ups the stakes higher than he would have thought. His writing is vivid, and I found myself thinking breathe more than once as I read.

Beyond sad to hear about the death of Steve Jobs. He was our Thomas Edison with a bit of Albert Einstein tossed in as well. He changed our lives, shaping how we listen to music, use our phones, find information and read. The way he presented products was unmatched. He approached tech not just as a solution for what people did not know they needed, but as art, a rare combo as very little that most tech companies turn out is designed beautifully. He was HUGELY concerned with style and how things LOOKED, as well as how they worked! I cannot wait to read Walter Isaacson's book about him, titled STEVE JOBS, which comes out October 24th. Also, I know the part of his talk at Stanford University where he addressed his illness has been shown again and again these past days, but I wanted to share with you this link to the entire speech. There are two other parts that are very interesting as well. Oh, and for the record, I own an iPod and an iPad --- never owned a Mac, a MacBook or an iPhone, but still am a Steve Jobs fan.

His passing made my hearing about the upcoming GOODNIGHT iPAD, which will be in stores on October 27th, even more poignant. You have had a huge impact when you realize the classic GOODNIGHT MOON can be re-imagined with your product in the title! It’s a fun story for the young generation of techies who do need to unplug before they drop off to sleep!

On Tuesday night, Greg and I caught up with Hillary Jordan at her event at the Clinton Book Shop, where she was promoting her latest novel, WHEN SHE WOKE. You can see a photo of me with Hillary, as well as Harvey (on the left) and Rob, who run the store. It was nice to be able to reconnect with her again after the dinner we had so many years ago in Philly when MUDBOUND was being released. Reading WHEN SHE WOKE, I found myself thinking a lot about not just social issues of today, but also about the novel 1984 and how it painted a picture of the future. We share our interview with Hillary this week, as well as a review by Donna Volkenannt, who calls it “a thought-provoking novel of self-discovery in a terrifying world of extremes,” and describes Jordan’s writing as “graceful, evocative…passionate and vivid.”

THE DOVEKEEPERS, Alice Hoffman's latest novel, is the story of four women stuck in the Roman siege of Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert, in 70 C.E. Our reviewer Roberta O'Hara says the book is “lush in detail [and] evocative in memory” as it explores their lives and family histories.

Chris Bohjalian's new book, THE NIGHT STRANGERS, tells the creepy tale of the Lintons, who move to a new house only to find themselves disturbed by its mysterious history. Our reviewer Bronwyn Miller says that it has “an atmosphere worthy of an Edgar Allan Poe story.”

In a series of vignettes about his life growing up in Davison, Michigan, Michael Moore’s HERE COMES TROUBLE showcases the birth and evolution of his radical politics. Yet our reviewer Harvey Freedenberg says “even Michael Moore detractors…should suspend judgment and give this collection of tales of the first half of his life growing up in the middle of Middle America a fair look, because they may find they have more in common with Moore’s values than they might think.” For the record, the cover of this with a young Moore is pretty amusing.

NIGHTWOODS, the new book from COLD MOUNTAIN author Charles Frazier, tells the unforgettable tale of a girl, Luce, caught up in her sister Lisa’s murder trial when she is asked to take care of Lisa’s children. As our reviewer Kate Ayers says, “NIGHTWOODS is Frazier’s pinnacle achievement to date.”

And ahem…one thing to be aware of when heading out to the bookstore or library this season: there are far too many books with “NIGHT” in the title, and two by men whose names begin with the letter “c.” This week’s NIGHTWOODS by Charles Frazier and THE NIGHT STRANGERS by Chris Bohjalian to be exact. And then of course there’s Erin Morgenstern’s THE NIGHT CIRCUS. All I’m saying is that whatever you do, DON’T ask for “that night book…!” We expect more from readers.

FALLING TOGETHER, the latest novel by Marisa de los Santos, author of the wildly popular LOVE WALKED IN and BELONG TO ME, tells the history of Pen, Cat and Will’s friendship, its up and downs, and the things forgotten and remembered along the way. Our reviewer Terry Miller Shannon calls it “modern women’s fiction at its finest.” I had the pleasure of having lunch with Marisa back in May with some booksellers who all love her work as much as we do.

This update we also share YOU DESERVE NOTHING by Alexander Maksik, a book from a small press that we are crazy about, Europa Editions; they were the publishers of THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG, which was a wonderful bestseller. In YOU DESERVE NOTHING, a teacher captivates and inspires his students, though sometimes his influence spreads a little too far. Our reviewer Sarah Rachel Egelman says, "YOU DESERVE NOTHING is a confident debut novel. Maksik's prose is lovely, his multiple perspective works well, and his use of philosophical ideas such as Sartre's existentialism is challenging and compelling. Though he is playing with very familiar themes, the book is interesting and well-written, and, thus, highly recommended."

Our New in Paperback update has been done for October. With our new system, we are breaking out titles week by week to make facilitating our On Sale This Week newsletter easier, but you can see links to them all here. Included in this update are THE LAST BOY: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood (by the way, there is some mourning going on in our house as the Yankees lost last night). Mystery lovers will enjoy A RED HERRING WITHOUT MUSTARD, the Flavia DeLuce novel by Alan Bradley. And for those who want holiday cheer to get started early, there’s A CHRISTMAS BLIZZARD by Garrison Keillor, the tale of a man returning home to his crazy family for the holidays. A story many can relate to? And hey, remember Sweet Valley High? Well, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back in SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL: TEN YEARS LATER!

Books on Screen also has been updated. The Big Year is one of those rare movies based on a book of nonfiction, in this case one that depicts the race to spot the most rare birds in one year. The Thing, Real Steel and The Skin I Live In are all out to give us a good dose of creepy. Based on the sci-fi novella WHO GOES THERE? by John W. Campbell Jr., The Thing is like something from an old drive-in theater: a vicious alien escapes from a spaceship crash and terrorizes earth. Real Steel is based on Richard Matheson’s short story “Steel,” and tells the story of a fight against giant robots. Who here thinks the producer’s computer crashed one too many times and this is how he vents his frustration? The Skin I Live In, based on Tierry Jonquet’s novel TARANTULA, tells the tale of a plastic surgeon obsessed with creating a second skin that could have saved the life of his wife, who burned to death in a car crash. But if you would rather see something fun, go check out The Rum Diary, where Johnny Depp plays the main character in the movie version of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name, a movie that will certainly be an exciting [acid] trip.

Got a number of notes from readers who enjoyed my story about my mom and JACQUELINE KENNEDY: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy. A few of you told me that I spurred you to buy some spontaneous gifts. Consider this my way of stimulating the economy.

My DVR has the new George Harrison documentary by Martin Scorsese, "George Harrison: Living in the Material World", which aired on HBO, all ready for viewing this weekend. I also have last week’s season premiere of "Dexter" to catch up on. Guilty pleasures include new shows "Pan Am" and "The Playboy Club." Unfortunately, "The Playboy Club" already got cancelled (my friend Annie called that one), so I’ve had my last chances to frolic with the Bunnies. These retro shows are clearly based on the success of "Mad Men," proving once again that all media seizes success and chews onto it like a dog wih a bone. Remake anyone?

Long weekend ahead, which I am looking forward to. The office has been busy, and I have not caught up since vacation in August and hurricane cleanup. My husband won a golf club championship last weekend and played golf out of town with buddies two days this week, thus this weekend he will be driving a shovel instead of golf balls, moving plants and flowers! I will think on things that will help him with his putting game as well. And the list I have will replace the scorecard. I guess it’s my own version of a rewrite!

I hope all of you celebrating Yom Kippur have a meaningful fast, and that everyone clocks some family time on this holiday weekend.

Here’s to a great week of reading!

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Hillary Jordan, Author of WHEN SHE WOKE

After the enormous success of her first novel, MUDBOUND, Hillary Jordan’s second book, WHEN SHE WOKE, takes us years into a startling future. Now a ruthless theocracy, America is governed by a repressive system in which criminals of all varieties are forced to have their skin permanently dyed according to the severity of their crime. After an adulterous affair followed by an abortion, protagonist Hannah Payne must face the lifelong shame of becoming a Chrome. In this interview, conducted by’s Donna Volkenannt, Jordan discusses her various sources of inspiration for the imaginative plot, as well as why she loves setting her stories in the South. She also recommends some of her favorite upcoming books and shares a charming anecdote about her first reaction to the cover design for WHEN SHE WOKE.

WHEN SHE WOKE by Hillary Jordan (Dystopian Thriller)
In a distant American future, Hannah Payne awakens after being infected with a virus that has turned her skin red. Chroming is her punishment for her crime of murder --- for terminating the pregnancy of her unborn child. Because of her refusal to identify the father or name the abortionist, she is forced to live in permanent disgrace. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

-Click here to read a review.

-Click here to read an 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.

Click here to read our interview.
Now in Stores: THE DOVEKEEPERS by Alice Hoffman

THE DOVEKEEPERS by Alice Hoffman (Fiction)
Against the backdrop of the Roman siege on the mountain of Masada in 70 C.E., Alice Hoffman’s novel follows the lives of four bold and fiercely independent women brought together by their extraordinary circumstances. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets --- about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. Reviewed by Roberta O’Hara.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE NIGHT STRANGERS by Chris Bohjalian

THE NIGHT STRANGERS by Chris Bohjalian (Paranormal Thriller)
After pilot Chip Linton’s plane tragically crashes, killing 39, he and his family move to New Hampshire in hopes of rebuilding their lives. But when they move into the old Victorian house, they discover a dusty basement door sealed shut --- with 39 bolts. Late at night, the children swear they hear the distressed voices of people drowning. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: HERE COMES TROUBLE by Michael Moore

HERE COMES TROUBLE: Stories from My Life by Michael Moore (Memoir)
Breaking the autobiographical mode, Oscar-winning filmmaker and bestselling author Michael Moore presents 24 far-ranging, irreverent and stranger-than-fiction vignettes from his early life. Capturing the zeitgeist of the past 50 years, yet deeply personal and unflinchingly honest, it's a book he has been writing --- and living --- his entire life. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: NIGHTWOODS by Charles Frazier

NIGHTWOODS by Charles Frazier (Suspense)
Set in a small town in North Carolina in the early 1960s, NIGHTWOODS tells of Luce, a young woman who inherits her murdered sister’s troubled twins. Before the children, Luce was content with her quiet life amidst the Appalachian landscape, choosing to live apart from the community around her. But the coming of her disturbed niece and nephew changes everything, cracking open her solitary life in difficult, hopeful and dangerous ways. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: MURDER UNLEASHED by Rita Mae Brown

MURDER UNLEASHED by Rita Mae Brown (Mystery)
In the second of Rita Mae Brown’s newest series, Mags Rogers moves out West with her great-aunt Jeep and Jeep’s German Shepherd, King. Teaming up with Babs Gallagher, a big-hearted real estate broker, Mags, Jeep and their clever canines hunt a ruthless killer circulating among a local community of desperate squatters. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Visit Rita Mae Brown’s official website,


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: FALLING TOGETHER by Marisa de los Santos

FALLING TOGETHER by Marisa de los Santos (Fiction)
Pen lost touch with her closer-than-close college friends, Will and Cat, after their friendship tragically ended. Now, six years later, she receives a message from one of them that feels like a summons --- a message that will alter Pen's life in ways she never could have predicted. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.


Click here to read a review.
Find Out Why Cork O’Connor is THE Breakout Series of the Year

William Kent Krueger is B&N's NOOK Spotlight Author for October. The first book in his engrossing Cork O’Connor series, IRON LAKE, is available this month for only 99 cents! The riveting adventure continues with 10 more titles, including the latest mystery featuring the former sheriff, NORTHWEST ANGLE.

Click here to read more about William Kent Krueger and his Cork O'Connor series.
October’s New in Paperback Roundups
October's New in Paperback roundups include the following highlights:

DON'T SING AT THE TABLE: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers by Adriana Trigiani (Memoir)
In DON’T SING AT THE TABLE, Adriana Trigiani reveals how her grandmothers’ simple values have shaped her own life, sharing the experiences, humor and wisdom of her beloved mentors to delight readers of all ages.

GIDEON'S SWORD by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Thriller)
Ever since his late mother begged him to avenge his father’s murder, Gideon Crew has been on a mission. Now, he is being closely observed --- and he may have an opportunity to use his skills for more than just this murder…

ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS YOU by Elizabeth Berg (Fiction)
Even on their wedding day, John and Irene sensed they were about to make a mistake. Years later --- divorced and dating other people --- they are bound only by mutual love for their spirited 18-year-old daughter. When tragedy strikes, they must come together to support their daughter.

THE PROSTITUTES' BALL: A Shane Scully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell (Thriller)
When LAPD Detective Shane Scully responds to a call at a once-immaculate mansion, the place is deserted --- except for three dead bodies, all shot with the same gun. But when Scully starts investigating what looks like an open-and-shut case, things take a turn for the worse.

SING YOU HOME by Jodi Picoult (Fiction)
In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life. But to her shock and inevitable rage, some people don’t want that to happen.

-Find out what's New in Paperback for the weeks of October 3rd, October 10th, October 17th and October 24th.
Books On Screen for October
This month, the big screen features dynamic trios, battles, bird watching, sci-fi adventures, and an overall cross-section of eccentric gentlemen.

The Big Year is about three obsessive bird watchers who compete to spot the largest number of rare birds in a year, each with his own outrageous approach. An equally devoted yet slightly fiercer trio unites in The Three Musketeers, adapted from the timeless classic by Alexandre Dumas. Here, the Musketeers must battle a seductive double agent to protect the French throne and save Europe from war.In The Thing, a different battle finds paleontologist Kate Lloyd joining up with a Norwegian scientific team to fight a vicious extraterrestrial creature that has escaped from a crashed alien spaceship deep within the ice of Antarctica.

In another violent arena, Real Steel, inspired by Richard Matheson’s short story “Steel” (which was also the basis for a "Twilight Zone" episode of the same name in 1963), stars Hugh Jackman as a washed-up fighter who lost his chance at a title when 2,000-pound, eight-foot-tall steel robots took over the ring. But after he teams up with his estranged son, the duo may finally get a chance at redemption.Dr. Robert Ledgard is also in search of redemption in The Skin I Live In. This eminent plastic surgeon is desperately attempting to create a new skin with which he could have saved his wife, who was burned to death in a car crash.

In keeping with the masculine trend, The Rum Diary, based on Hunter S. Thompson's novel, stars Johnny Depp as freelance journalist Paul Kemp. After moving from New York to the Caribbean to write for a small, neglected newspaper there, Paul finds himself amidst a violent, alcoholic and self-destructive group, and his life and career take critical turns.

If you need a break from all that testosterone, look no further than the smaller screen. After a tantalizing six-week hiatus, "Pretty Little Liars", inspired by Sara Shepard’s drama-filled YA series, returns on October 19th with a Halloween special that promises to be juicy as ever.

Wednesday and Thursday saw the premiere of "George Harrison: Living in the Material World", an HBO documentary by Martin Scorsese about the late Beatle. A companion book with the same title was written by his wife, Olivia Harrison, and includes an introduction by Paul Theroux and a foreword by Scorsese. The special will be repeated later this month.

If you’re in the mood for some fun and adventure without leaving your couch, there are a few DVD options as well. In case you missed them in theaters, Captain America: The First Avenger, Green Lantern, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, Monte Carlo, Submarine and Winnie the Pooh all will be released this month for your viewing pleasure.

Click here to read our Books On Screen feature for October.
October is National Reading Group Month!

The Women's National Book Association (WNBA) has designated October as National Reading Group Month (NRGM). This is the fifth annual celebration, and thousands of readers are expected to take part in activities through traditional and online book clubs and at neighborhood bookstores and local libraries.

Official National Reading Group Month events will be hosted by the nine WNBA chapters --- Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. --- and additional programs will take place throughout the country during the month of October. For more information or to find events near you, go to

In honor of this special month, the National Reading Group Month Selection Committee picks a selection of Great Group Reads. Titles are selected on the basis of their appeal to reading groups for whom they are bound to open up lively conversations about a host of timely and provocative topics, from the intimate dynamics of family and personal relationships to major cultural and world issues. The Selection Committee also makes a conscious decision to focus its attention on under-represented gems from small presses and lesser-known mid-list releases from larger houses.

-Click here to see this year's selection of Great Group Reads.

Click here for more information about National Reading Group Month.
This Week’s Reviews

ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE ARES DECISION: A Covert One Novel by Kyle Mills (Thriller)
Covert-One is a clandestine U.S. government group trained to respond during emergency international threats. Colonel Jon Smith, the group’s top operative, is sent to Uganda when an American special forces team there is attacked. When Smith discovers dangerous biological weapons being developed by the director of Iranian Intelligence, he realizes that Washington itself may be somehow involved. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

ARGUABLY: Essays by Christopher Hitchens (Essays)
For nearly four decades, Christopher Hitchens has been telling us what we confront when we grapple with first principles --- the principles of reason, tolerance and skepticism that define the foundations of our civilization. Here, he supplies fresh perspectives on such figures as Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Rebecca West, George Orwell and J.G. Ballard. His intrepid discussions are gathered from a lifetime of traveling and reporting all over the world. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

THE WOMEN OF THE COUSINS’ WAR: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones (History)
Inspired by reader requests, Philippa Gregory teams up with historians to create a complete history of three feminine icons featured in The Cousins' War. Whether you’re a big fan of Gregory’s bestselling historical fiction or a European history buff, you’ll be intrigued by these interesting accounts of Medieval ladies. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

CAIN by Jose Saramago (Fiction)
What did the infamous biblical character Cain do after he was condemned by God for killing his brother, Abel, and forced to wander the earth forever? His journeys are those of Jose Saramago’s brilliant imagination. In this enlightened work of speculative fiction, Saramago pits Cain against God as he interferes with everything from the Fall of Jericho to the building of Noah’s Ark. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

DRAMA: An Actor's Education by John Lithgow (Memoir)
In this riveting personal history, John Lithgow shares a backstage view of his own struggle, crisis and discovery, revealing the early life and career that took place before he became a national star. Lithgow’s memory is clear and his wit sharp, and much of the humor comes at his own expense. But he also reflects with moving candor on friends made and lost, mistakes large and small, and the powerful love of a father who set him on the road to a life onstage. Reviewed by Marge Fletcher.

CITY OF SECRETS by Kelli Stanley (Historical Mystery)
In this sequel to the critically-acclaimed CITY OF DRAGONS, Pandora Blake is murdered at San Francisco's 1940 World's Fair and her body marked with an anti-Semitic slur. Miranda Corbie is soon entangled in a web of deceit and betrayal that is only overshadowed by the threat of impending war. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE KILLING SONG by P.J. Parrish (Thriller)
At 35, Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist Matt Owens is adrift. But then his beloved younger sister Mandy is kidnapped from a crowded dance floor and killed, with only one clue --- a grisly rock song downloaded onto her iPod --- hinting at the murderer’s identity. Matt follows a chain of musical clues --– “killing songs” --- to hunt the anonymous killer. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

YOU DESERVE NOTHING by Alexander Maksik (Fiction)
Set in Paris at an international high school, YOU DESERVE NOTHING tells the story of William Silver, a talented and charismatic young philosophy teacher. Silver’s unconventional methods raise eyebrows among his colleagues and superiors, but his students adore him. When he succumbs to a forbidden temptation, however, his fall will render him a criminal to some, and all too human to others. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

This Week’s Poll and Question


With fewer and fewer bookstores out there, do you find yourself more at a loss for what to read than you were before?

I'm not sure.

-Click here to answer our poll.


What is the book that you are reading now, and how did you hear about 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 October 7th - October 20th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of CITY OF WHISPERS: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller, THE LITIGATORS by John Grisham, and THE NIGHT ETERNAL: Book Three of the Strain Trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

Click here for more details.

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