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October 14, 2011 Newsletter October 14, 2011
Lurching on, Zombie Style

I am intrigued by zombie makeup. I was at New York Comic Con yesterday, and there were folks lurching around in full zombie garb and makeup. I found myself staring and trying to figure out HOW they do that. Wednesday night I attended the signing for the prose book, THE WALKING DEAD: RISE OF THE GOVERNOR by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. In addition to writing this book --- and, of course, the original comics and graphic novels --- Kirkman is a producer of AMC’s hit show "The Walking Dead”; Season Two debuts on Sunday night. Click here for more about the TV show. Note that this program has even higher audience numbers than "Mad Men"!

I became intrigued with "The Walking Dead" after hearing about it at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010. Sure, there were tons of zombies and a huge booth for the show, but what piqued my interest was a presentation by Christina Blanch from Ball State University, where she talked about teaching the graphic novel in her Anthropology course, which just shows that I never know what I will learn when I am on the road! We have an interview where Christina talks about her course here.

Last weekend I was on a three-day cooking binge, one thing my family always likes about long weekends. I got my hands on a cookbook called THE HOMESICK TEXAN COOKBOOK by Lisa Fain. I love Tex-Mex and Mexican food, and thus I was reading through this like a novel! I made Chile Con Queso and Poblano Macaroni and Cheese, and marked a number of other pages for future culinary adventures. Both got raves and will be made again.

The book includes ideas for how to get various ingredients via mail. The idea of how tough it is to get regional ingredients locally was brought home in a humorous story in her prologue about her adventure taking the bus from New York to New Jersey looking for a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes for Chile Con Queso. Unable to find them, she created the recipe I ended up making! I was smiling as I made a trek to a supermarket about 20 minutes away to get poblano chilis; I understood her pain. The book is based on her popular blog.

We know we have added a number of new readers over the past two months, and we have been getting emails asking if we have websites for younger readers. And indeed we do. is for teens 12-17; is for kids 6-12. We also have for book group members, for those who enjoy Christian-based writing, and for graphic novel lovers. And drum roll here…we will be launching a new site in 2012 called for readers who are twentysomething. To us, twentysomething is a state of mind. We are really excited about this, and there will be more about it to come soon.

We also have more newsletters than just the one that you are reading here, including On Sale This Week, ones we use for Daily Contests at various times of the year (Holiday, Summer and Fall thus far, with more to come) and ones for each of the aforementioned sites. You can sign up for whatever you would like at one time by clicking here.

This week was a short one, which means it has been super-busy. The staff wrote, edited and posted content in super-quick time!

Jeffrey Eugenides’s THE MARRIAGE PLOT has been one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the season. It’s come up again and again in conversations, and I have been hearing things like “I will buy that one in print because I want it on my bookshelf.” Reviewer Sarah Rachel Egelman calls THE MARRIAGE PLOT a “[d]azzling, heartfelt, sincere, intelligent, thoughtful and bittersweet” examination of “change, happiness and, of course, love.” She goes on to say that “Eugenides plays with so many ideas --- from the battle between New Criticism and Semiotics to religious faith, young love, feminism, readers and writers, and the Novel itself. Serious but rarely clunky and never dull, referencing a vast array of intellectual and academic ideas without being preachy or overworked, the book feels fresh and readable on every page.”

SNUFF, Sir Terry Pratchett’s latest addition to the Discworld series, is a wild thrill-ride. Sam Vimes, the Watch Commander of Discworld, has never taken a vacation and has decided that now is a good time as any to do so. But as this is Discworld, before Vimes is even out the door, he finds himself embarking on an adventure unlike what he had planned. As our reviewer, Roz Shea, notes, he experiences “adventure on the high seas, roiling rivers and, gods forbid, even racing through a raging storm in the dark of night on horseback.” That would make me head back to my desk and never contemplate another vacation!

KILLING LINCOLN by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, which looks at Abraham Lincoln’s death and the subsequent investigation, is for history buffs --- and those of us who have always hated memorizing dates and who can’t remember where they put their keys 10 minutes ago, let alone recall what happened a couple of hundred years ago. According to our reviewer, Donna Volkenannt, KILLING LINCOLN “reads like a thriller.” She goes on to say that “it is written in present tense, with short chapters, vivid details and an emotional intensity that gives the story a sense of urgency, intimacy and suspense.” Though the book is about Lincoln’s assassination (and the subsequent investigation), it really makes history come alive.

Lots of people get angry when large companies ruin neighborhoods, destroy small businesses and harm the environment. Yet someone in the small town of Butternut Falls, Minnesota takes the protest against large retailer PyeMart too far --- they set off two bombs on company property! John Sandford’s SHOCK WAVE is the latest in his Virgil Flowers mystery series, a group of books that our reviewer Joe Hartlaub thinks is probably in most crime series fiction readers’ top 10.

The absolutely harrowing story of Jonestown is famous for being a tale of collective brainwashing and mass-suicide. Yet in her new book, A THOUSAND LIVES: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown, Julia Scheeres gives a more intimate portrait of the Jonestown victims by closely following five very different Peoples Temple members. Her information comes from declassified FBI documents and audiotapes, as well as some rare videos and interviews, and the result is an insightful but devastating look at the struggles of those who decided to follow Jim Jones. Reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott warns: “This is not a bedtime story… read it in the light of day with all your loves and comforts around you.” Though no one likes to think about Jonestown too much, it is interesting how much the whole ordeal has affected our lives. It taught us so much about crowd psychology, not to mention is responsible for the popular phrase “Drink the Kool-Aid” --- one I use all the time. By the way, it was Flavor Aid, not Kool-Aid, that was actually drunk at Jonestown.

Justin Torres’s WE THE ANIMALS is short, but not sweet. A story of three boys who grow up in New York in poverty, reviewer Harvey Freedenberg calls the book a “stomach-grinding portrait of a family in turmoil,” yet one filled with “pulsating energy… fueled by descriptions of the brothers’ collective self-image” as they --- and their young parents --- make their way in the world as best they can.

Every week, independent booksellers across the country send the American Booksellers Association data about what books they are selling, and the result is the Indie Bestseller List, something we feature on every week. This week’s top five on the Indie Bestseller Fiction List are THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern, THE AFFAIR by Lee Child, THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain, THE CAT’S TABLE by Michael Ondaatje and THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach. Click here to see the rest of the list. And then bookmark this page to see all of the lists, including hardcover fiction, hardcover nonfiction, trade fiction, trade nonfiction, mass market, children’s fiction, children’s interest, and children’s illustrated books all on one convenient page when we update them each week.

Speaking of bookstores, our poll this week asks, “With fewer and fewer bookstores out there, do you find yourself more at a loss for what to read than you were before?” Our question asks, “What is the book that you are reading now, and how did you hear about it?” Weigh in and let us know.

Our Word of Mouth feature continues to be a popular way to find out about books. Share what you are reading now here to be eligible to win one of five copies 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. If you're looking to see what readers have shared as their own Word of Mouth selections, please click here and bookmark that page as we update it every two weeks.

Still to be added since we redesigned is our Awards section! As we are behind adding that back in, we wanted to note here the National Book Award finalists for fiction: THE SOJOURN by Andrew Krivak, THE TIGER'S WIFE by Téa Obreht, THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC by Julie Otsuka, BINOCULAR VISION by Edith Pearlman and SALVAGE THE BONES by Jesmyn Ward
. Until this section is rebuilt, you can see all the nominees here.

Another trip to New York Comic Con with my son Cory and his friend Josh is the only adventure that I have planned for the weekend as there is a stack of books begging to be read, and there are all those pesky chores I never got to last week. The weekend ended, and I realized that the ONE thing I wanted to get done --- repotting the inside plants --- never got done. Thus that stays on my list!

Tuesday night I am going to a party to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Nicholas Sparks’s THE NOTEBOOK --- those years flew by. I remember that being one of the first books that we reviewed. I also remember “back in the day” when we used to do author chats online, and Nicholas was one of our first interviews. I was working late one evening and remember overhearing it in the other room. Since all author chats were transcribed, we have the text from that chat for you here. His latest book, THE BEST OF ME, his 16th, came out Tuesday. It's the story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks, and we will have our review next week.

One more thing. I love to hear from readers, but I also get hundreds of emails a day. Often reader mail slips in between, and I miss getting to replies the way I would like to. I see reader mail fastest --- and reply more quickly --- if you write me using the email link here.

Here’s wishing you all a great week of reading.

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides

THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides (Fiction)
In the midst of the deep recession of the early 1980s, English student Madeleine Hanna is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine attempts to align this literary theme with current ideals, she finds herself in a complex love triangle that continues long after graduation. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

-Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: SNUFF by Terry Pratchett

SNUFF: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett (Fantasy)
Terry Pratchett has enthralled millions of fans worldwide with his hilarious satires set in Discworld, a universe remarkably similar to our own. In this latest installment, Lady Sybil has finally lured her husband, Sam Vimes, on a countryside vacation away from Ankh-Morpork. But it’s not long before a body is discovered, and Sam must rely on his instincts, guile and street smarts to see justice done. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: KILLING LINCOLN by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

KILLING LINCOLN: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (History)
KILLING LINCOLN is a suspenseful historical narrative that chronicles events in the spring and summer of 1865 --- prior to, during and after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth --- events that changed America forever. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: SHOCK WAVE by John Sandford

SHOCK WAVE: A Virgil Flowers Novel by John Sandford (Mystery)
The superstore chain PyeMart arrives in a Minnesota river town, but two furious groups want to stop it: local merchants and environmentalists. The project continues as planned --- until a bomb goes off at PyeMart's headquarters, and another explodes at the construction site itself. It’s Virgil Flowers’s job to find out who is behind the bombs and how far they will go --- before more people are killed. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: A THOUSAND LIVES by Julia Scheeres

A THOUSAND LIVES: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres (History)
A THOUSAND LIVES follows the experiences of five Peoples Temple members who went to Jonestown. Julia Scheeres draws from thousands of recently declassified FBI documents and audiotapes, as well as rare videos and interviews, to piece together a compelling and astonishing history of the doomed camp. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: HEADSTONE by Ken Bruen

HEADSTONE: A Jack Taylor Novel of Terror by Ken Bruen (Mystery)
An elderly priest is nearly beaten to death, and a special-needs boy is brutally attacked. Evil has many guises, and Jack Taylor has encountered most of them. But nothing before has ever truly terrified him until he confronts an evil coterie named Headstone, who have committed a series of random, insane, violent crimes in Galway, Ireland. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: WE THE ANIMALS by Justin Torres

WE THE ANIMALS by Justin Torres (Fiction)
Justin Torres’s brief first novel tells the brutal, tender story of three brothers growing up on the edge of poverty. WE THE ANIMALS is a stomach-grinding portrait of a family in turmoil and the toll it exacts on those boys. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.


Click here to read a review.
Miami Book Fair International: November 13-20, 2011

Miami Book Fair International
November 13-20, 2011 - Street Fair: November 18-20
Wolfson Campus, Miami Dade College

Enjoy the 28th edition of the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering presented by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College. Renowned authors such as Elizabeth Berg, Jeffrey Eugenides, Michael Moore, Hillary Jordan, Amor Towles, and hundreds more will be attending. Plus, there will be 250 exhibitors from around the country and plenty of activities for the kids.

For more information, visit

Share and Our Other Sites with Your Family and Friends
We know that you know is a great way to find out about new books and read up on older ones. So why not tell your friends about us? Our team of reviewers is a great resource, and remember: the site is loaded with special features and giveaways! Every reader should be “booking” it to

And did you know that has some sister websites?, and are all part of The Book Report Network, so if you know any kids or teens who like to read, or have friends who can't resist graphic novels, turn them on to these sites! is another one of our sites, designed especially for book groups. It is chock-full of advice for your reading group, as well as more than 3,000 discussion guides.

Also, be sure to keep an eye out for the newest site joining The Book Report Network early next year, To us, being twentysomething is both an age and a state of mind!
Sign Up for's "On Sale This Week" Newsletter --- and All the Other Newsletters in The Book Report Network
While’s Coming Soon feature has been on the site for many years, we have received requests from readers asking for weekly email notifications when books are released. This has led to the creation of our “On Sale This Week” newsletter.

Inside this weekly newsletter is a listing of hardcover and paperback titles releasing that week and the next, along with a brief description. It's printer friendly for you to take right to the store or post on a bulletin board in your library or store.

Click here to sign up for's "On Sale This Week" newsletter, along with all the other newsletters in The Book Report Network.
What’s New This Month on

The following guides are now available on

DAY OF HONEY: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo
DON'T SING AT THE TABLE: Life Lessons From My Grandmothers by Adriana Trigiani
A GOOD AMERICAN by Alex George
THE GOOD SISTER by Drusilla Campbell
THE MEMORY PALACE: A Memoir by Mira Bartok
THE SECRET LIVES OF WIVES: Women Share What it Really Takes to Stay Married by Iris Krasnow
THE SOLDIER'S WIFE by Margaret Leroy
TINY SUNBIRDS, FAR AWAY by Christie Watson
THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME by Jean Thompson

Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

BOUND by Antonya Nelson
COMPASS ROSE by John Casey
FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen
SOLOMON'S OAK by Jo-Ann Mapson
THE WEEKEND by Bernhard Schlink

This Week’s Reviews

ELIZABETH AND HAZEL: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick (Biography/History)
The names Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan Massery may not be well known, but the image of them from 1957 is: a black high school girl walking stoically in front of Little Rock Central High School, and a white girl screaming at her. This gripping book tells the remarkable story of how the picture came to be taken, its wider significance, and why neither woman has ever escaped from its shadow. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

I’M NOT THE BIGGEST BITCH IN THIS RELATIONSHIP: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales About Man's Best Friend from America’s Favorite Humorists edited by Wade Rouse (Essays/Humor)
Critically acclaimed memoirist Wade Rouse has gathered some of America's best-known humorists --- authors, comedians and actors --- to offer biting commentary on what it means to share a life, and a heart, with a dog. From battling for bed space to trying to transform a pampered NYC pup into a Texas rawhide to helping a shelter rescue navigate through her new life, this collection has something for every dog-lover. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

THE CONSUMMATA by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Mystery)
Begun by Mickey Spillane in the 1960s and completed four decades later by Max Allan Collins, THE CONSUMMATA is a tale of treachery and intrigue involving the CIA, anti-Castro exiles, and a wanted criminal called Morgan the Raider set on the streets of Miami in the 1960s. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

HALF-PAST DAWN by Richard Doetsch (Thriller)
Manhattan District Attorney Jack Keeler has no memory of last night, or of how he got the gash on his head, a bullet wound to his shoulder and a huge tattoo. Scarier yet, his wife is missing. But most eerily of all, he has made the front page of the newspaper --- as a murder victim. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

40 LOVE by Madeleine Wickham (Fiction)
At their country estate, Patrick Chance and his wife host a weekend tennis party. As four couples gather on the sunny terrace, it seems obvious who is succeeding and who is falling behind. But by the end of the party, nothing will be quite as certain. While the couples’ children amuse themselves, the adults suffer a series of personal revelations and crises. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

THE REVISIONISTS by Thomas Mullen (Science Fiction/Thriller)
Imagine you’re a time traveler sent back in time to make sure a catastrophic event takes place. Knowing millions of people will die, you stick to your mission, but something --- a small event, a chance meeting --- plants doubt in your mind about the validity of your operation. You wonder if you can really change history, and more importantly, if you want to. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

INMATE 1577: A Karen Vail Novel by Alan Jacobson (Thriller)
When an elderly woman is found raped and brutally murdered in San Francisco, Karen Vail heads west to team up with SFPD Inspector Lance Burden and her former task force colleague, Detective Roxxann Dixon. As the team follows the killer’s trail, they are ultimately led to the most unlikely of places: a mysterious island ripped from city lore whose long-buried, decades-old secrets hold the key to their case: Alcatraz. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

MISTERIOSO by Arne Dahl (Mystery)
In the first book of the gripping new Intercrime series, Swedish Detective Paul Hjelm is plucked out of a potentially career-ending Internal Affairs investigation by the National Criminal Police commissioner, who places him into an elite task force assembled to find an elusive killer. The murderer targets high-profile Swedish business leaders and carries out a meticulous killing ritual enacted to a rare bootleg recording of Thelonious Monk’s jazz classic, “Misterioso.”

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.

To view reader comments from previous contest periods, click here.

Click here for more details.

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