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November 18, 2011 Newsletter November 18, 2011
Greetings From Miami
I am in Miami for the Miami Book Fair, where a stellar lineup of author presentations are on the agenda for the weekend. Tonight I am planning to attend two very different events.

The first will be a rocking time when the author of the runaway hit GO THE F*CK TO SLEEP, Adam Mansbach, and the illustrator, Ricardo Cortes, talk about the story behind the book, along with comedienne Jenna Elfman and singer Nikka Costa, who share the story of making their rap video based on the book that’s making its way around YouTube. I know, I know, the title may be too crass and irreverent for some of our readers, but the theme of trying to get a young child to go to sleep is dead-on, and the book has become a runaway sensation. Following that, Nicole Krauss will be “in the house” at 8 tonight talking about GREAT HOUSE and THE HISTORY OF LOVE. It promises to be a really fun evening.

Yesterday I moderated a Day of Comics where a group of South Florida librarians and teachers got some hands-on advice about teaching with graphic novels and manga. Loved the enthusiasm in that room! Before heading over to the event, two of the presenters were talking to me about getting reluctant readers, especially boys, to read. One of them, Chris Wilson, who works with K-4 students, made a great point. Usually classroom teachers are women who love to read, and thus they cannot grasp how their young male students cannot be just as excited about this. They think their enthusiasm for reading will magically take charge and are dismayed when it does not. They fail to grasp that different methods need to be incorporated. Very interesting point!

I had hoped to duck outside for some poolside reading today, but alas it’s cloudy with pouring rain going on, so I have given up on even trying to sneak in some laps and resorted to writing proposals and this newsletter in my room. Ah well, these author events will brighten up my day. I keep looking at the rest of the lineup for the weekend making notes on what to see; the spectrum of talent in attendance for this event is quite varied and stellar. My full report will be blogged next week.

Last weekend, history was made at our house as “Operation Swingset Demolition” unfolded. The boys are now 16 and 21, so the lovely CedarWorks swingset that we had in the yard since Greg was about four needed to come down. When it was originally purchased, it cost the same as many starter homes in the 1920s, and thus I wanted to be sure we got every dollar’s worth. We spent months trying to give it away, but the wood needed work ---- we had never done all the preventive treatment that was advocated --- and there were no takers. So Greg and I both took a last swing on the swings, and Tom and Greg took a last whirl down the slide, and then the chainsaw came out.

In the photos above, you can see before and after shots. Swingset/firewood. The cedar is perfectly dried after 17 years, and I think this is some good-looking recycling…and the swinging memories will live on.

Last weekend, I read an early advance copy of GOLD by Chris Cleave, which will be in stores on July 12th. You probably remember Chris as the author of LITTLE BEE, which was a huge bestseller and continues to sell very well. GOLD completely captivated me. Set in Manchester, England, the protagonists are two female bicyclists both in the hunt for their last Olympic gold. The chance to even be in the race has eluded one of the women for two Olympics, and this is her last shot. She has a young child who is desperately ill, and balancing the emotions that swirl around her as she tries to balance her daughter’s odds for survival with her training raise the stakes and the tension.

Full of flawed characters each in pursuit of dreams, GOLD is a page turner. Timed perfectly to hit bookshelves right around the Olympics, I see a golden future for this one. I am selecting it as a Bets On and look forward to hearing much more about it here at

Now I turn back the clock to our lineup for this week.

Sue Grafton is back at it with the 22nd installment in her alphabetical series, V IS FOR VENGEANCE. The story starts when the ever-fearless Kinsey Millhone is injured after being hit by a car while in hot pursuit of a shoplifter. When she emerges from the hospital, all she wants is vengeance. Our reviewer Roz Shea says of the book that it “is more a novel than a mystery. It contains a cast of fully developed characters who live and play outside of Kinsey’s realm, exposing the glitz and glam of the privileged set whose second and third homes and expensive lifestyles lead to dangerous self-indulgence.”

Along with the review, we are featuring a very special interview with Grafton this week, in which she talks about her views on writing…and revenge. My son Greg adores these books and has been collecting and reading them for years now --- it’s too bad there are only four more letters in the alphabet! Anyone want to make any guesses about what the titles for W, X and Y will be? We know “Z is for Zero.”

The title of Carrie Fisher’s latest book, SHOCKAHOLIC, is a reference to the shock therapy treatments she underwent to combat her struggles with substance abuse. The book is a memoir that describes Fisher’s life, her history with drugs, her fear of never being able to escape her identity as Princess Leia, and memories of her family. So though Fisher is a funny writer, at times the book is harrowing and intense. Our reviewer Jana Siciliano says, “SHOCKAHOLIC is shocking, but it’s the emotional depths that are charged under the therapy’s push that really make this an interesting read.” By the way, WISHFUL DRINKING, Carrie’s last book, was adapted into an HBO special featuring the author in an extremely funny look back at her life. If you have not yet seen it, it's well worth a look.

In Ben Coes's second novel, COUP D’ETAT, Dewey Andreas is being pursued by Aswan Fortuna, a man who wants to avenge the death of his son, whom Andreas killed. Meanwhile, however, conflict is brewing in India and Pakistan, and Andreas is called in by the CIA to help stage a coup in Pakistan to oust the leader and prevent any major violence between the two countries. Andreas has his hands full --- can he pull it off? Joe Hartlaub has our review, and he says, “In the short space of two books, Coes has demonstrated conclusively that he is a killshot master at delivering a fast-paced book with a complex but coherent plot that sparks and sizzles from first word to last.” I had the pleasure of meeting Ben at Bouchercon in September and am happy to share our review this week.

NARROWS GATE, a new novel by Jim Fusilli, gets its title from the neighborhood of the same name in which the book takes place. Narrows Gate, an immigrant community and a Mafia stronghold, is home to young Sal Benno. Sal soon becomes involved in the Mafia’s dangerous empire, and though his friends try to help him, sometimes they do more harm than good. Soon, Sal finds himself in more danger than he bargained for. Joe also has our review of NARROWS GATE where he says, "[Fusilli's] full arsenal of talent is on display here --- from unforgettable characterization to complex but easily followed plots, to turns of phrase that you will underline, note, mark or copy, and quote to others."

I feel like Thanksgiving has crept up on me. I know it’s always the fourth Thursday in November, but this year it just feels like it’s sooner than usual. Maybe because with the snow in October, I am rather off-kilter. We are hosting the holiday, and I am lucky that the menu will just be a rewind of other years since I will barely have time to make a shopping list and check it twice once I get back home late Sunday night.

The Thanksgiving holiday also means that it’s time to start thinking about holiday shopping. Our Holiday Cheer feature is live, and our Daily Contests will start next Tuesday (we’ll do Tuesday, and then be back with our next contest after the holiday). Contests will run until December 16th. We will be giving away five copies of each featured contest title. The contests kick off at noon ET on the appropriate day and run for just 24 hours, so you will have to check the site every day to see what is being featured. We are once again sending out our special Holiday Cheer newsletter on the days when there are contests, so if you would like to sign up for that, click here.

Also, we have some great gift suggestions for you in our What to Give, What to Get feature, which also kicks off today. We have suggestions ranging from cookbooks to biographies and everything in between. By the way, I am very big on the “to me/from me” category of gift giving. Wonder how many of you are the same! We will keep adding to What to Give, What to Get in the weeks to come as we come across more items that we think readers will love.

And our Author Holiday Blogs will be kicking off the week after Thanksgiving. We have dozens of authors ready to share their stories about holiday gift giving and getting.

And in the world of contests, is featuring special contests this month for TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY by John le Carré, THE GOODBYE QUILT by Susan Wiggs and THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes.

We know that many book groups enjoy reading books and then seeing the movie together, thus we are excited to share a contest where 10 groups will win a copy of the movie tie-in edition of John le Carré’s TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, the first book in the Karla trilogy. The movie adaptation of this heart-stopping tale of international intrigue will be in theaters on Friday, December 9th, so you'll want to think about reading this one now. There are authors who tell me time and time again that le Carré is a master of the thriller-writing craft, and they read him to study style as well as for enjoyment. Click here to enter this contest by Friday, December 2nd at noon ET.

THE GOODBYE QUILT by Susan Wiggs tells the story of a mother torn between happiness and sadness as she sends her only child to college. 25 readers will have a chance to win this thoughtful book. Maybe it’s because I knit and maybe it’s because I value hand-crafted items, but I just love the description of this book: “As mother and daughter embark on a cross-country road trip to move Molly into her dorm, Linda pieces together the scraps that make up Molly’s young life --- the hem of a christening gown, a snippet from a Halloween costume. And in the stitching of each bit of fabric, Linda discovers that the memories of a shared journey can come together in a way that will keep them both warm in the years to come.”

Julian Barnes’s THE SENSE OF AN ENDING, winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, is the newsletter contest book this month. The novel is told from the perspective of a middle-aged man who grapples with his past and memories he has not often considered, but has been forced to come to terms with. One lucky book group will have a chance to win up to 20 copies for their fellow members. How to enter to win? Subscribe to the newsletter here.

Thanks to all who shared their deer stories last week…heard some amazing ones and to the folks who recommended Deer Scram! I will be testing it out. Composting is progressing nicely, though I have heard from the men in my house that this is “my project,” thus carting the kitchen scraps outside is MY responsibility.

A quick note. Our newsletter will be sent Wednesday afternoon next week, not Friday. That gives our staff time to enjoy the holiday break. And I will use hitting "send" as my signal to hit the kitchen and get cooking. Wishing you all a great weekend of reading. And much more about Miami next week!

Carol Fitzgerald (

An Interview with Sue Grafton, Author of V IS FOR VENGEANCE
Sue Grafton’s latest Kinsey Millhone mystery, V IS FOR VENGEANCE, finds Kinsey on the case of a shoplifting ring that may be associated with a murder. In this interview, Grafton shares her personal thoughts on the ideas of vengeance, crime and addiction. She also gives insight into her writing and research processes, sheds light on Kinsey’s character, and discusses her plans for future novels.

V IS FOR VENGEANCE by Sue Grafton (Mystery)
A spiderweb of dangerous relationships is at the heart of Sue Grafton's new Kinsey Millhone novel. When a woman with a murky past suddenly dies, it initially appears to be suicide. But Kinsey discovers that it actually may have been a murder tied to a local shoplifting ring. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

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

Click here to read the interview.
Now in Stores: KILL ALEX CROSS by James Patterson
KILL ALEX CROSS by James Patterson (Thriller)
The President's children are abducted, and Detective Alex Cross is one of the first on the scene. But someone very high-up is using the FBI, Secret Service and CIA to keep him off the case. Meanwhile, a deadly contagion in the water supply cripples half of the capital, and Alex discovers that someone may be about to unleash the most devastating attack the United States has ever experienced. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Announcing's Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature
At, we kick off the holiday season in style with our Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature. As our gift to you, on certain days we will spotlight a book and give five lucky readers a chance to win it. You have to check the site each day to see the featured prize book and enter the contest. Some days may even feature special bonus prizes, including gourmet treats, holiday items, or some of Carol Fitzgerald’s Bets On picks from throughout the year. If you think you will forget to check, no worries: we also send a special newsletter to announce the day's title.

Our first prize book will be announced on Tuesday, November 22nd at noon ET.

-Click here to sign up for our Holiday Cheer Daily Featured Book and Contest alerts.

Click here to see this year's featured Holiday Cheer titles.
What to Give, What to Get: "Reader Perfect" Suggestions for Holiday Giving and Getting knows that readers crave ideas for gift-giving --- and getting --- at the holidays. With this in mind, we're offering a "What to Give, What to Get" Guide with suggestions in multiple categories: Eat, Drink & Be Merry, Faces & Places, Great Choices for Booklovers and Holiday Spirit. We have book ideas for everyone on your holiday list! And while you're looking for gifts for others, may we suggest you jot down notes for books YOU want?

We'll be spotlighting the various categories in the newsletter this week and in upcoming weeks. First up is Eat, Drink & Be Merry. With Thanksgiving and winter holidays right around the corner, we're featuring titles that will delight any connoisseur of good food, good wine and good books.

Our featured titles in this category are:

-MAMAN'S HOMESICK PIE: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan
-OMG PANCAKES!: 75 Cool Creations Your Kids Will Love to Eat by Jim Belosic
-RECIPES FOR LIFE: My Memories by Linda Evans

-Click here to see our Eat, Drink & Be Merry category.

Click here for this year's "What to Give, What to Get" feature.
Now in Stores: DEVIL'S GATE by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
DEVIL’S GATE: A Kurt Austin Adventure by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown (Thriller/Action & Adventure)
When two ships burst into flames in the same location, Kurt Austin and the rest of the NUMA Special Assignments Team rush to the eastern Atlantic region to investigate --- and find themselves drawn into an African dictator’s complex plot to extort the world’s major nations. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: NARROWS GATE by Jim Fusilli
NARROWS GATE by Jim Fusilli (Historical Fiction)
Jim Fusilli’s new novel takes place in the years surrounding World War II in the dangerous immigrant neighborhood of Narrows Gate, overlooking the Hudson River. Sal Benno is a neighborhood kid who provides the favors the Mafia needs, which brings him into their inner circle and closer to ultimate danger. Meanwhile, his best friend harbors a deadly secret. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: SHOCKAHOLIC by Carrie Fisher
SHOCKAHOLIC by Carrie Fisher (Memoir)
SHOCKAHOLIC is the juicy account of the life of Carrie Fisher, daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. Focusing on the Star Wars years and dishing about the various Hollywood relationships she’s formed since she was chosen to play Princess Leia at only 19 years old, this memoir recounts Fisher’s emotional and psychological journey through fame. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: HOT WATER by Erin Brockovich with CJ Lyons

HOT WATER by Erin Brockovich with CJ Lyons (Thriller)
No stranger to balancing an intensely demanding work schedule with the stresses of keeping her family together, AJ Palladino now faces another challenge: she is leaving her young son home with her ailing parents so that she can travel to the site of a new case involving a nuclear power plant in peril. And it will take all her skills to keep her cool while the action and tension build to a fever pitch. Reviewed by Ray Palen.


Click here to read a review.
In Theaters Today: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 and The Descendants
The long-awaited next installment of The Twilight Saga is finally here! Although BREAKING DAWN concludes the book series, all you “Twihards” out there know that this final novel will be split into two different films. In Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen are finally married, but an unplanned pregnancy sets a deadly chain of events in motion.

Also in theaters today is The Descendants, adapted from the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Wealthy landowner Matt King (played by George Clooney) has his life upended when his wife, Joanie, is involved in a boating accident. King struggles to reconnect with his two daughters as the three of them take a journey to deliver the news of Joanie's imminent death to the man with whom she was having an affair.

Click here to see all of this month's “Books on Screen” releases.
Featured Contests on

In a book club? Here are three exciting contests for your group that are being featured on

The feature film adaptation of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, the first novel in John le Carré's celebrated Karla trilogy, will be in theaters on Friday, December 9th. We’re giving 10 readers the opportunity to win a copy of the movie tie-in edition for their group. The deadline for entries is Friday, December 2nd at noon ET.

We are celebrating the release of THE GOODBYE QUILT by Susan Wiggs --- the story of a fabric shop owner who is torn between excitement and heartache as her only child departs for college --- with a special contest. 25 readers will win a copy of the book, which is in stores now, for their group. The deadline for entries is Friday, December 2nd at noon ET.

And in our monthly newsletter contest, one group will receive up to 20 copies of THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes, the winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize. All you have to do is sign up for the newsletter by Thursday, December 1st. If you receive the newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!


Click here to visit
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.

Come see hundreds of great authors like Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be discussing his new bestseller, THE MARRIAGE PLOT, on Saturday, November 19th at 10am; Chuck Palahniuk, who will be talking about his latest novel, DAMNED, on Saturday, November 19th at 6:30pm; and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean, author of RIN TIN TIN, who will speak on Sunday, November 20th at 2:30pm.

There are also a number of discussion panels on intriguing topics like “Discover New Worlds” and “The Writer’s Voice.” And don’t forget: there are some not-quite literary events at this festival! Check the schedule for fun events like cooking demonstrations, a talk by Jim Lehrer about presidential debates, and interactive demonstrations on "The Green Planet" all day Saturday and Sunday!

-Click here for the full schedule of events.

Click here for more information about Miami Book Fair International.
This Week's Reviews
THE GARNER FILES: A Memoir by James Garner and Jon Winokur (Memoir)
After suffering physical abuse at the hands of his stepmother, James Garner left home at 14. He became Oklahoma’s first draftee of the Korean War and was awarded with two Purple Hearts before returning to Los Angeles to become an actor. In his memoir, Garner recalls his extraordinary struggles, as well as breaking Doris Day’s ribs, having a “heart-to-heart and eyeball-to-eyeball” with Steve McQueen, being “a card-carrying liberal --- and proud of it,” and much more. Reviewed by Jennifer McCord.

GOING HOME: Finding Peace When Pets Die by Jon Katz (Memoir/Pets)
Drawing on personal experiences, stories from fellow pet owners, and philosophical reflections, Jon Katz provides guidance and support for those in mourning. With great compassion, he compels us to consider if we gave our pets good lives, if we were their advocates in times of need, and if we used our best judgments in the end. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

COUP D’ETAT: A Dewey Andreas Novel by Ben Coes (Thriller)
Wanting only a peaceful, obscure life, Dewey Andreas has gone to rural Australia, far from turbulent forces that he once fought against. But when powerful men who are seeking revenge track him down, Dewey must abandon his home and fight for his life against a very well-armed, well-trained group of assassins. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DEFENSIVE WOUNDS by Lisa Black (Mystery)
In this fourth novel in Lisa Black’s captivating suspense series, forensic investigator Theresa MacLean finds herself embroiled in a case in which everyone has a motive and everyone is a suspect --- especially when high-powered defense attorneys start turning up dead. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE MARBLED SWARM by Dennis Cooper (Fiction)
In secret passageways, hidden rooms and the troubled mind of our narrator, a mystery perpetually takes shape --- and the most compelling clue to its final nature is “the marbled swarm” itself, a complex amalgam of language passed down from father to son. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

A SINGLE SHOT by Matthew F. Jones (Psychological Thriller)
After the loss of his family farm, John Moon is a desperate man. A master hunter, his ability to poach game in-season or out is the only thing that stands between him and the soup kitchen line. Until he trespasses on the wrong land, hears a rustle in the brush, and fires a single fateful shot. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

EXPLAINING TRADITIONS: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture by Simon J. Bronner (Sociology)
Simon J. Bronner discusses the underlying reasons for the continuing significance of traditions, delving into their social and psychological roles in everyday life. His work forces readers to examine their own traditions and imparts a better understanding of raging controversies over the sustainability of traditions in the modern world. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.
This Week’s Poll and Question


Do you prefer watching an author video or reading an online interview?

I usually prefer watching an author video.
I usually prefer reading an online interview.
Only if I like the author a lot would I prefer watching a video.
If I like the author a lot, I would prefer reading an interview.
I enjoy watching author videos, but dislike waiting for them to load.
I have no preference; I like doing both.
I have no preference; I don’t do either.
I’m not sure how I feel.

-Click here to answer the poll.


Name up to three authors you would love to see interviewed on video or in an online interview.

-Click here to answer the 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 November 18th to December 2nd, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of THE DROP by Michael Connelly, MICRO by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston, and THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon.

-To see reader comments from previous contest periods, click here.
Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.

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