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October 28, 2011 Newsletter October 28, 2011
In 1996, when we started this site, it was only available on AOL. At the time, there were something like 500 websites on the Internet, and we did not want to “get lost out there” (humorous to think about that now). Most people were connecting to the Internet from AOL, Prodigy or CompuServe; we opted for AOL, which was backing companies financially, seeing a value in content to keep their customers spending time online as they charged by the minute. We had a chat room called Bookaccino, where readers would gather to chat (actually typing their comments) about books. There we had a dedicated group of chat hosts who would facilitate readers talking about books throughout the day, greeting them and keeping the dialogue going.

I got a chance to meet these wonderful folks just twice --- in Chicago in 1997 and St. Louis in 1998. Among them was Ann Bruns, who I stayed in touch with as she moved around the country. This week she came to visit during her first trip to New York; Ann is a former dancer and was in town from Kansas City with girlfriends to catch some theater. We had a fun lunch catching up on the last 13 years and reminiscing about the days of Bookaccino. You can see a picture of us above that my son, Greg, took in my office. After lunch, Ann spent some time perusing books in our office and meeting our staff. Truly fun!

By the way, Bookaccino got its name as I had an idea that Starbucks would sponsor the chatroom and they would create a coffee called Bookaccino. You can laugh; I am. I still like the name, but for the record, I am not a coffee drinker.

This week, Paul Simon released a collection of songs called Songwriter. He wrote that he always has seen himself as a songwriter first --- and listening to his music and his words that tell stories, it’s clear why he feels this way. In this compilation of his work, he has selected the songs that he feels are his best. As a longtime fan, I could create my own best-of lineup (I have others and would not choose some that he has) and am tempted to do so, but it’s always nice to see what the artist selects from his work with a critical eye.

I would love to see authors with long-standing careers sharing with their readers what they feel were their best books --- and why. Sure, everyone always says that their latest book is their favorite, but I always wonder if that is really true when one looks back on their career. I am sure that you all could chart your personal selections from your favorite authors and your reasons why.

And, as always, we have new books to share….

In John Grisham’s latest, THE LITIGATORS, things are looking up for partners Finley & Figg when a new young lawyer joins their “boutique” --- aka tiny and unimportant --- Chicago law firm. They begin to investigate the manufacturer of a popular cholesterol medication, hoping to file a class-action suit. Yet the pharmaceutical industry is no picnic, and soon the trio finds itself in situations it can’t just argue out of. Stuart Shiffman has our review and says, “Grisham's novels are no longer just suspense-packed adventures. He now uses the pages of his bestsellers as a pulpit for commentary on contemporary legal issues. The lecture subject of THE LITIGATORS is mass tort litigation, a system that makes millionaires out of lawyers on both sides of the legal battle but does little to compensate the actual victims.”

Haruki Murakami has one of the liveliest imaginations of any writer today. His books take time to contemplate. 1Q84, his latest, is no exception. Norah Piehl has our review, where she says the book is "enriched by Murakami's philosophical musings and his uniquely visionary form of fantasy."

In the final book of the Strain trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, THE NIGHT ETERNAL, the entire world is on the brink of extermination by an evil vampire lord. Reviewer Joe Hartlaub says the book will leave you very intimately acquainted with vampires --- everything from what vampire urine smells like to what blood-type they like best. “Is the book shocking? You bet,” Joe says. “But it is also smartly told and seamlessly written.”

Many stories have been written about journeys at sea, but it is less common to see such a journey combined with a coming-of-age tale. This is exactly what Michael Ondaatje has done in his latest book, THE CAT’S TABLE. This story, though fictional --- and very imaginative--- is drawn from Ondaatje’s own life; he took the very same voyage at the same age. Through a number of characters that our reviewer Harvey Freedenberg calls “colorful and enigmatic,” Mynah begins to learn about how the adult world works. Harvey says the book “is a tale Michael Ondaatje someday was destined to tell. It’s a pleasure for us, his readers, to share in that telling.”

CITY OF WHISPERS is a new Sharon McCone mystery from Marcia Muller, who was named a “Grand Master” by the Mystery Writers of America in 2008. Our reviewer Maggie Harding says, “Sharon McCone is one of the most interesting fictional private detectives in the genre today.” The plotting and storyline of CITY OF WHISPERS, which each revolve around secrets, are a testament to Marcia’s talent.

I am glad that the World Series has gone to seven games, as this week we are bringing you our end-of-the-season baseball roundup from our resident baseball aficionado, Ron Kaplan. The year’s baseball collection has a theme: that tried-and-true rivalry of Boston vs. New York. Two of these books, FENWAY PARK: THE CENTENNIAL: 100 Years of Red Sox Baseball and FENWAY 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year, celebrate 100 years of Fenway Park. On the New York side, we have THE METS: A 50th Anniversary Celebration and BULLPEN DIARIES: Mariano Rivera, Bronx Dreams, Pinstripe Legends, and the Future of the New York Yankees, as well as Dodger Ralph Branca’s memoir, A MOMENT IN TIME: An American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak, and Grace. Click here to read Ron's feature. And we all know that a book about either the Rangers or the Cardinals will be rushing to press very soon!

Also this week, we bring you our monthly feature of YA books that we feel will be of interest to adults. Our latest additions include Kathy Reichs’s SEIZURE, a thriller about a mysterious disease that gives the protagonist wolf-like superpowers; ALL THE EARTH THROWN TO THE SKY by Joe R. Lansdale, which centers on a family living during the Great Depression; and MY NAME IS MINA by David Almond, the prequel to the 1998 novel SKELLIG. Click here to see the entire feature.

This week, I played a bit of book catch up. I was traveling this summer when A STOLEN LIFE by Jaycee Dugard came out. I missed the full interview with her that Diane Sawyer did, just catching some random clips, but I have been intrigued by this young woman who was kidnapped at age 11 and spent 18 years in captivity bearing two girls at the hands of her kidnapper along the way. I never had a chance to read the book, but this week I stole some time to read the heartbreaking ---and also uplifting --- story of a young woman’s resilience in the wake of unspeakable horror. I still marvel that no one noticed what was going on in that backyard all those years; knowing the typical noise that surrounds a young family, how could this have been missed? Chilling, but I also daresay inspiring.

This morning temperatures were in the 30s, and the predictions for snow tomorrow --- snow on the pumpkin is just not right --- are reminding me again how happy I am that I will be heading to the 28th annual Miami Book Fair from November 13-20. The fair will host some reader favorites like Amor Towles, author of RULES OF CIVILITY; Hillary Jordan, author of WHEN SHE WOKE; and Jeffrey Eugenides, author of THE MARRIAGE PLOT. Click here for more information about the Fair, and note that the full lineup of authors appearing at the Fair, along with the schedule of events, will be released next week.

Last night I was at an event where the Books for a Better Life finalists were announced. These awards are given to books being recognized for their messages of inspiration and for bettering people’s lives. While we do not have our Awards section rebuilt yet, we are sharing this link so you can see all the finalists. The winners will be announced on Monday, March 12th.

I will be enjoying another weekend at home reading --- I currently am enjoying THE POSSIBILITY OF YOU by Pamela Redmond. There are three women and three time periods --- 1916, 1976 and present day that all weave and intertwine. I am about halfway finished with it and am thoroughly enjoying it. Each chapter is bringing more of a reveal.

I also will be moving yet more plants (I see myself hauling in anything still green to keep it out of the snow) and working on some behind-the-scenes things we need to do for the re-launch of, which is happening in November. Halloween has crept up on me, and I have not even put up any decorations. We get very few trick-or-treaters, but I always shop for candy like we live in a place where hundreds of kids will be traipsing to our door. My favorites are Peanut M&Ms (though I would love them to make Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms), Dots, Jujubes and Good & Plenty.

Here’s wishing you a great week of reading…and lots of book treats besides those of the sugary kind.

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: THE LITIGATORS by John Grisham

THE LITIGATORS by John Grisham (Legal Thriller)
With their new associate on board --- a young but already burned-out attorney who walked away from his fast-track career at a fancy downtown firm --- the “boutique law firm” of Finley & Figg is ready to tackle a case that could make the partners rich without requiring them to actually practice much law. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Dystopian Fiction/Mystery)
Beginning in 1984 in Tokyo, Haruki Murakami’s newest saga follows the lives of Aomame and Tengo, a pair of estranged childhood friends. As Aomame begins to realize that she has entered a mysterious parallel world, Tengo has become deeply absorbed in a suspect ghostwriting project. Through a series of bizarre connections and dreamlike events, the two are gradually brought together. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE NIGHT ETERNAL by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
THE NIGHT ETERNAL: Book Three of the Strain Trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan (Horror)
THE NIGHT ETERNAL is the conclusion to Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan's much-talked-about vampire trilogy. As the final battle dawns, the group’s only hope is the intervention of an unexpected race of beings --- avenging “angels” --- who arrive to help them defeat the vampires and reclaim the planet for humanity. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE CAT'S TABLE by Michael Ondaatje

THE CAT’S TABLE by Michael Ondaatje (Fiction)
Cloaked in the garb of a classic coming-of-age story, Michael Ondaatje’s new novel is an evocative tale of a strange and wondrous sea voyage from Sri Lanka to England in 1954. Its 11-year-old narrator is introduced in the course of a three-week journey to a cast of colorful, enigmatic characters and to a glimmer of the mysteries of the adult world. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: CITY OF WHISPERS by Marcia Muller

CITY OF WHISPERS: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller (Mystery)
Private eye Sharon McCone receives an email asking for help from her emotionally disturbed half-brother, Darcy Blackhawk. She replies, but gets no response. Sensing he's in terrible danger, Sharon begins a search for him throughout the city. In the midst of her investigation, she suddenly finds herself immersed in a murder case. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

-Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to read a review.
Author Andrew Grant Interviews His Wife, Tasha Alexander, About A CRIMSON WARNING

In A CRIMSON WARNING, the latest installment in Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series, a malicious vandal is on the loose. Someone has been splashing red paint on the homes of London’s elite, a precursor to publicizing their deepest and most guarded secrets. It is up to Lady Emily and her husband, Colin, to stop the destruction of innocent lives and find out who is behind the twisted scheme. In this interview, conducted by her husband, thriller writer Andrew Grant, Tasha describes her approach to developing Lady Emily over the six-book series and her unique process of researching the city of London. The couple also explains how they evaluate each other’s writing and shares their favorite London restaurants.

A CRIMSON WARNING: A Lady Emily Mystery by Tasha Alexander (Historical Mystery)
Lady Emily and her husband, Colin Hargreaves, an agent of the crown, begin investigating the murder of a well-known London businessman with many odd leads. When red paint, a calling card for the revelation of long-held, scandalous secrets, begins appearing on doorsteps, all of high society holds its collective breath waiting to find out who will be next and what secrets will be revealed. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read the interview. Talks to Elizabeth Letts, Author of THE EIGHTY-DOLLAR CHAMPION

In THE EIGHTY-DOLLAR CHAMPION, award-winning author Elizabeth Letts tells the incredible true story of rider Harry de Leyer and his horse, Snowman. In November 1958, Harry and Snowman, outsiders to the wealthy horseback-riding culture, won the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden against all odds. Letts narrates the unbreakable relationship between the two and the story behind their success. In this interview, conducted by’s Alexis Burling, Letts describes her original discovery of the story, which led to a phone conversation with de Leyer himself. She also shares some of her childhood experiences with her own horse, Pretty Boy Floyd, recommends a few of her favorite horse-related books, and gives advice on how anyone can become involved in the world of horses.

THE EIGHTY-DOLLAR CHAMPION: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts (Biography)
Harry de Leyer first saw the beaten-up horse he would name Snowman on a truck bound for the slaughterhouse. Harry bought the horse for $80, and they soon became an inseparable team. Against all odds, the pair won the 1958 National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In this meticulously researched account, Elizabeth Letts tells their remarkable story. Reviewed by Alexis Burling.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to read our interview.
Now in Stores: ALL OUR WORLDLY GOODS by Irene Nemirovsky

ALL OUR WORLDLY GOODS by Irene Nέmirovsky (Fiction)
Set in France between 1910 and 1940 and first published in France in 1947, five years after Irene Nέmirovsky’s death, ALL OUR WORLDLY GOODS is a gripping story of war, family life and star-crossed lovers. Pierre and Agnes marry for love against the wishes of his parents and his grandfather, the tyrannical family patriarch. Their marriage provokes a family feud that cascades down the generations. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

Click here to read a review.
New York vs. Boston Baseball: A Literary Rivalry
Since the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox saw their seasons end early this fall --- the Yankees having been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Detroit Tigers, and the Red Sox, well, let’s just say having fallen off the face of the earth during September --- they can basically look forward to starting fresh in 2012. With the offseason looming,’s Ron Kaplan takes a look at five books that New York and Boston fans in particular will want to consider adding to their reading lists while waiting for pitchers and catchers. These titles focus on the centennial of legendary Fenway Park, the bullpen of the Bronx Bombers during the 2010 season, the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets franchise, and the career of famed Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca.
Click here to see our current roundup of baseball books.
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 (ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS YOU), Jeffrey Eugenides (THE MARRIAGE PLOT), Michael Moore (HERE COMES TROUBLE), Hillary Jordan (WHEN SHE WOKE), Amor Towles (RULES OF CIVILITY), 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
This Week's Reviews
THE GREAT LEADER by Jim Harrison (Mystery)
A policeman retires but can’t let go of the case he last worked: a cult leader recruiting underage girls. Trying to bring the leader down almost ruins a perfectly good retirement. In the end, though, tenacity pays off. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

GHOST HERO: A Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Novel by S. J. Rozan (Mystery)
What starts as a rumor about new paintings by a dead artist quickly becomes something far more desperate. Private investigator Lydia Chin and her partner, Bill Smith, soon learn that someone else --- Jack Lee: PI, art expert, and, like Lydia, American Born Chinese --- is also on the case. Lydia and Bill soon find themselves in a high-stakes crisis that they will risk everything to resolve. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

LOVE AND CAPITAL: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution by Mary Gabriel (Biography/History)
Drawing upon years of research, Mary Gabriel brings to light the story of Karl and Jenny Marx's marriage. We follow them as they roam Europe, on the run from governments amidst an age of revolution and a secret network of would-be revolutionaries. And we see Karl not only as an intellectual, but as a protective father and loving husband, a revolutionary, a jokester, a man of tremendous passions, both political and personal. Reviewed by Shelby Wardlaw

DEATH OF THE MANTIS: A Detective Kubu Mystery by Michael Stanley (Mystery)
In the third installment of the Detective Kubu series, a ranger is found with a severe head wound in a ravine in Botswana, surrounded by Bushmen. Detective Kabu is on the case, and his high school friend claims the investigation of the Bushmen is based purely on racist antagonism. But when a string of other bizarre murders occurs, Kubu must journey to the depths of the Kalahari to uncover the truth. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

CHOKE HOLD by Christa Faust (Hard-boiled Crime Fiction)
Angel Dare went into Witness Protection to escape her past --- not as a porn star, but as a killer who took down the sex slavery ring that destroyed her life. But when a former co-star is gunned down, it's up to Angel to get his son, a hotheaded MMA fighter, safely through the unforgiving Arizona desert, shady Mexican bordertowns, and the seductive neon mirage of Las Vegas. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

THE COLDEST FEAR by Rick Reed (Thriller)
After three seemingly unconnected people are gruesomely murdered in the outskirts of Evansville, Indiana within the same two days, all evidence suggests that they’ve been committed by the same murderer. One newspaper reporter seems to have a direct line to the killer --- and a secret he wants to keep hidden. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE HAND THAT TREMBLES by Kjell Eriksson (Mystery)
A Swedish county commissioner disappears, and many years later, one of the town’s natives is convinced that he’s caught a glimpse of the missing man while traveling in Bangalore, India. Meanwhile, Ann Lindell is investigating a case of a severed female foot found where a striking number of inhabitants are single men --- and the two cases may be crucially connected. 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:

SEIZURE: A Virals Novel by Kathy Reichs (Supernatural Mystery/Thriller)
Ever since Tory and her pals caught the unusual strain of the parvovirus that gave them wolf-like super powers, their lives have been tossed into a storm. But when the funding is slashed for the research facility where their parents work, they need to find the money to rescue it so they can stay together. It seems hopeless --- until Tory hears of a long-lost pirate’s buried treasure. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

MY NAME IS MINA by David Almond (Fiction)
Mina loves the night. While everyone else sleeps, she gazes out the window, witness to the moon's silvery light. This is when Mina feels anything is possible and her imagination is set free. One night, she decides to use the blank notebook that’s been lying on the table forever. As she writes, Mina makes discoveries both trivial and profound about herself and her world, her thoughts and her dreams. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

ALL THE EARTH, THROWN TO THE SKY by Joe R. Lansdale (Historical Fiction)
The Depression strikes a fatal blow to Jack’s life when his mother dies of sickness and his father commits suicide. Left with nothing, Jack, his classmate, Jane, and her brother, Tony, take their neighbor’s car and strike out for something, anything, better. But what they get is a dangerous and heart-pounding adventure that will change their lives forever. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson (Historical Thriller)
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives at her new London boarding school, a series of brutal murders breaks out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago. The police are baffled. But Rory discovers she can see the murderer when no one else can --- and he’s not the only one she sees. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

PREGNANT PAUSE by Han Nolan (Fiction)
As a pregnant 16-year-old, Eleanor’s options are limited: move to Kenya with her missionary parents, or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids. Despite her initial reluctance, Elly is surprised that she actually enjoys working with the campers. But a tragedy on the day her baby is born starts a series of events that overwhelms Elly with unexpected emotions and difficult choices. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.


Click here to see all the young adult books you'll want to read.
This Week’s Poll and Question


Do you ever skip to the end of books before finishing them, or are you strict about reading straight through?

I never skip to the end.
I always read the last chapter first.
I always skip to the end at some point when I read a book.
I sometimes skip to the end, especially if I want to see something like if a favorite character survives.
I am not sure what I do.

-Click here to answer our poll.


If you skip right to the end, which was the last book that you did that with?

-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 20th - November 4th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of BLUE NIGHTS by Joan Didion, THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, and ZERO DAY by David Baldacci.

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

Click here for more details.

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