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January 6, 2012 Newsletter January 6, 2012
Happy New Year! I've Missed You!

Happy New Year! A few weeks without writing you has felt rather strange. Over the break, I kept making note of little nuggets of information to share with you.

First up. This year I bought bulbs for amaryllis plants that the garden center said were to have HUGE double flowers on them. They did not lie! As you can see in the photo above, these are just spectacular blooms. That was ONE flower, and the plant has had SIX of those with more to come. This plant is the bane of my husband’s existence! We brought it to the house on the Outer Banks --- and back. He was using adjectives I will not share here to describe this bit of flowering splendor as we found a “safe” place for it in the car in both directions. There were moments I thought it was me or the plant! He just assured me that this was a very good interpretation of the situation.

On the one rainy day of the trip, we went to the movies where I indulged in some Books on Screen reporting. First up, my husband and I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; the boys opted to sleep til noon instead of joining us. We both had read the books and had seen the Swedish films. I had been a tad hesitant to see this latest version thinking it would be a letdown after the Swedish ones, which had been so “un-Hollywood.” So I was very pleasantly surprised with the latest versions, and it was not just because Daniel Craig was starring. It was a new visual interpretation of the story with some other changes as well. I liked seeing the story a new way. We also saw War Horse, which was very well done. My sons did not find the story “believable,” but I found it appealing. There still are plenty of movies on my list that I want to see.

Our Books on Screen feature for January has been updated. And we not only share films, but also programming like "Downton Abbey", which has a new season starting on Sunday, and "The Firm", which begins airing as a television series on Sunday at 9 pm ET/PT on NBC.

I love to cook, and thus vacations in a house with a great kitchen mean I can spend time in the kitchen. The photo above is of the spices that I brought with me to be sure I had everything I needed for cooking. I know, over the top! But I had a great time cooking everything from Dr. Pepper Ribs from the THE HOMESICK TEXAN COOKBOOK to the Holiday Ham from We watched three marathons of "Chopped" on Food Network. Greg got home from the beach a day before us and complained that there was no food. I told him after watching all those "Chopped" episodes, he should be able to fill a basket with four items from the pantry and whip up a meal.

There was lots of time for reading this trip. The roundup of titles included THE INNOCENTS by Francesca Segal (June 5th), THE RULES OF INHERITANCE by Claire Bidwell Smith (February 2nd), NO ONE IS HERE EXCEPT ALL OF US by Ramona Ausubel (February 2nd), STEVE JOBS by Walter Issacson, PARIS IN LOVE by Eloisa James (April 17th) and THE WOMAN AT THE LIGHT by Joanna Brady (coming in July). More on all of these in a blog next week!

Greg did some bookstore touring while we were away, hitting Buxton Village Books in Buxton and Books to be Red on the island of Ocracoke. He loved talking about our websites with folks there. He’s now off sailing on the Queen Mary 2 to the UK. He called excitedly from the ship when it was still in the harbor to tell me that LEFT NEGLECTED by Lisa Genova was the on-board book group selection for this portion of the voyage. He loved that one of our Bets On selections was one of the titles. By the way, Amy from Canton, Georgia, was our Grand Prize winner of the Bets On Contest that ended today. You can see the other 16 winners of single titles here.

Today also was the last day of our Author Holiday Blogs! We got so many notes from you about how you enjoyed this series. Soooo many great posts. If you have not had a chance to read these before, take a moment to read them now. One of my favorite comments was from a reader named Carlie who said, “I really enjoyed this blog-entries-from-authors series. It was like internet literary stocking stuffers!”

This week we are featuring an interview with Jeffrey Zaslow, author of THE MAGIC ROOM: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters. It weaves the story of Becker’s Bridal, a bridal shop in Fowler, Michigan, with a broader examination of how women today approach marriage. In his interview, Zaslow discusses his experience researching the book, and how he goes about writing of the emotional lives of women.

And of course, a new month means a brand new New in Paperback roundup! This month’s list includes some great titles, including BURIED SECRETS, Joseph Finder's second novel featuring "private spy" Nick Heller; Tina Fey’s memoir BOSSYPANTS; and Sarah Addison Allen’s THE PEACH KEEPER, a tale of uncovering skeletons in the family orchard. If you missed these in hardcover, pick them up now!

We also have a new Poll and Question for you this week. This time we want to know about the eReaders in your life: whether you received any over the holidays, and what you did with them! And, as always, enter our Word of Mouth contest by telling us about what you are reading now and you could win three books: BOND GIRL by Erin Duffy, THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON by Adam Johnson and THE ROPE: An Anna Pigeon Novel by Nevada Barr.

Just a heads up: We now are asking you to list your addresses when you enter our Word of Mouth contests. This way it will be MUCH easier for us to get the lucky winners their prize books by saving a step and not having to write to ask you for your information. Soooo many times it has taken forever to hear back from winners! Have no fear. We will not publish your personal information or use it for any other purposes. Just to award prizes!

Polish off that lucky rabbit’s foot, readers --- we have THREE new contests coming your way next week on! The titles are HOME FRONT by Kristin Hannah, DEFENDING JACOB by William Landay and THE LEGACY OF EDEN by Nelle Davy. Warm up your mouse to enter contests next week!

Also, we are not the only ones talking about historical fiction author Eva Stachniak, who wrote THE WINTER PALACE, with wild enthusiasm. THE WINTER PALACE is featured on’s “16 Books to Watch For in January 2012,” and the Sacramento Bee reviewer Allen Pierleoni called the book “Scandalous stuff, but oh, so fun.” For those of you who don’t know, THE WINTER PALACE is the story of Russian Empress Catherine the Great’s rise to power from the perspective of one of her servants. We’ll have our review and interview next week

Have you entered yet to be a Book Giver for World Book Night, which will take place on April 23, 2012 --- a night of book celebration in the U.S., UK and Ireland? During World Book Night, 50,000 people, named as “book givers,” each will be giving away 20 books from a select list with a goal to have 1,000,000 people across the United States alone celebrating reading en masse. There will be 25 adult books and 5 young adult titles given away. Sign up here by February 1st to apply to be a “book giver.” We want our readers to be part of this very special night in a BIG way. You can see the complete list of titles that includes books from authors like Jodi Picoult, Michael Connelly, Barbara Kingsolver and Junot Diaz, among others, here.

One sad note this week. Many of you may have seen the story that's made national news about Jack Jablonski, the 16-year-old hockey player from Minneapolis who was paralyzed during an accident on the ice last Friday. It’s one of those heartbreaking stories that usually is about someone you do not know. This time it’s different. Jack is the son of my friend, Leslie, who I have known since back in my days at Mademoiselle. We’ve kept in touch through the years --- much of the Mlle crowd stays in touch --- and in fact her Christmas card was sitting on my counter at the house when I heard the news.

I immediately thought of what I had learned about spinal injuries from memoirs that I have read, like STILL ME and NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE: Reflections on a New Life by Christopher Reeve, THE BROOKE ELLISON STORY: One Mother, One Daughter, One Journey by Brooke Ellison and Jean Ellison, and RESCUING JEFFREY by Richard Galli. And one of our reviewers, Steve Hubbard, who is an ardent hockey player, and fan, told me about another book, ELEVEN SECONDS by Travis Roy with E.M. Swift. Jack and his family have a long road ahead of them. As Leslie said, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Definitely lots of thoughts and prayers headed to the Midwest this week from all over the world! Please join me and send some of your own their way.

This weekend, I am tackling putting away the Christmas decorations. But this year, I am vowing to make this exercise a lot more organized than it has been the past few years. I keep buying wrapping paper, colorful bags and cookie tins when I already have these tucked away in the attic. Thus today, Ingrid, our amazing housekeeper, brought EVERYTHING Christmas into one part of the house, and this weekend I am going to sort it all logically into bins and label them. My inspiration? Candy Spelling. You can laugh. I am too. I watched "Selling Spelling Manor" on HGTV, and the sheer organization of this woman in her 56,000-square-foot house was like a cheerleading session for me.

I also have a number of terrific books lined up for reading; it's going to be a fabulous spring and summer for readers. Now I am reading PURE by Julianna Baggott, an absolutely wonderful post-apocalyptic work that I am loving. And I usually am not enamored with this kind of a book, but I cannot put it down. More on it next week, along with a blog of what I read over the holidays that I did not have time to get to this week.

Read on…and here’s to a great week of reading. And it's really nice to be back writing to you!

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: 77 SHADOW STREET by Dean Koontz

77 SHADOW STREET by Dean Koontz (Supernatural Thriller/Horror)
Once the dream home of a tycoon, the Pendleton is now a luxury apartment building, a sanctuary for its privileged inhabitants. They are unaware of the building’s dark history --- episodes of madness, suicide, mass murder, and whispers of things far worse. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: PRIVATE: #1 SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

PRIVATE: #1 SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Thriller)
Since former Marine Jack Morgan started Private, it has become the world's most effective investigation firm. But when his former lover is found murdered in Jack’s bed, he is instantly the number one suspect. Meanwhile, the mob strong-arms him into recovering $30 million in stolen pharmaceuticals. And the beautiful manager of a luxury hotel chain persuades him to investigate a string of murders at her properties. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: SLEEPWALKER by Karen Robards
SLEEPWALKER by Karen Robards (Romantic Suspense)
At 27, Detroit cop Micayla Lange has it all together. But a chance event on New Year's Eve changes her life forever when she stumbles across incriminating evidence regarding a close family friend and goes on the lam with the sexiest thief she has ever encountered. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: DISTRUST THAT PARTICULAR FLAVOR by William Gibson
He is credited with coining the term “cyberspace” and has written novels that have given us a glimpse of a frequently unsettling future. Now, in DISTRUST THAT PARTICULAR FLAVOR, William Gibson offers his first nonfiction collection, an assortment of 25 often quirky pieces, ranging from articles for magazines like Wired, Fortune and Time, to essays, book introductions and speeches. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.


Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE HUNTER by John Lescroart
THE HUNTER by John Lescroart (Thriller)
Raised by loving adoptive parents, San Francisco private investigator Wyatt Hunt never had an interest in finding his birth family --- until he gets a chilling text message from an unknown number: "How did ur mother die?" The answer is murder, and urged on by curiosity and the mysterious texter, Hunt takes on a case he never knew existed, one that has lain unsolved for decades. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Click here to read a review.
An Interview with Jeffrey Zaslow, Author of THE MAGIC ROOM
THE MAGIC ROOM by Jeffrey Zaslow tells the emotional stories of eight of the countless brides who have passed through Becker’s Bridal, a small-town bridal shop in Michigan that has been in the same family since 1934. In this interview, Zaslow describes the process of finding the shop and delving into its history, shares his thoughts on the bridal industry and those who dedicate their careers to it, and explains the most challenging part of writing such a personal and heartfelt book.

THE MAGIC ROOM: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters by Jeffrey Zaslow (Relationships)
A bestselling author and father of three daughters himself, Jeffrey Zaslow has thoroughly examined the complicated subject of love, marriage and parental love in THE MAGIC ROOM. Woven into this story about women who are on the brink of commitment is a bridal shop in Fowler, Michigan, that has been in continuous operation for 76 years by four generations of Becker women. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read the interview.
January's New in Paperback Roundups
January’s New in Paperback roundups include the following highlights:

BURIED SECRETS: A Nick Heller Novel by Joseph Finder (Thriller)
When Alexa Marcus, the teenage daughter of a billionaire hedge fund titan, is kidnapped, it’s up to family friend and “private spy” Nick Heller --- a former intelligence operative trained in the Special Forces --- to find her…before time runs out.

LETHAL by Sandra Brown (Thriller)
Accused murderer Lee Coburn claims that Honor Gillette's beloved late husband possessed something extremely valuable that places Honor and her daughter in grave danger. Coburn has come to their house to retrieve it --- at any cost.

NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah (Fiction)
When Lexi Baill, a former foster child with a dark past, moves to the Farradays’ small town, she becomes inseparably close with their family. But one bad decision on a summer night during their senior year of high school will change everything.

OF LOVE AND EVIL: The Songs of the Seraphim, Book Two by Anne Rice (Metaphysical Thriller)
Barely recovered from his previous divine mission, former contract killer Toby O'Dare is once again summoned by the angel Malchiah to investigate the poisoning of a prominent nobleman and stop the haunting of a diabolical dybbuk.

"THERE ARE THINGS I WANT YOU TO KNOW" ABOUT STIEG LARSSON AND ME by Eva Gabrielsson with Marie-Françoise Colombani
No one knew Stieg Larsson like his lifelong companion, Eva Gabrielsson. Here she tells the story of their 30-year romance, of Stieg's lifelong struggle to expose Sweden’s Neo-Nazis, of his struggle to keep the magazine he founded, Expo, alive, his difficult relationships with his immediate family, and the joy and relief he discovered writing the Millennium Trilogy.

-Find out what's New in Paperback for the weeks of January 2nd, January 9th, January 16th, January 23rd and January 30th.
Books on Screen for January
A number of exciting movies and TV shows are ringing in 2012. The first month of the new year brings old classics and contemporary favorites to the big and small screens. From Shakespeare to Janet Evanovich and John Grisham, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

In One for the Money, based on Janet Evanovich's first Stephanie Plum novel, a desperate-for-work Stephanie convinces her cousin to hire her as a recovery agent at his bail bonding company. But she never expects to get sucked into the case of murder suspect Joe Morelli, who also happens to be her former high school boyfriend.

Coriolanus brings Shakespeare’s classic drama to life, telling the story of a revered Roman general who seeks the position of consul, is consequently driven out of the city, and partners with his lifelong enemy to get revenge.

Other films releasing this month include Norwegian Wood, The Grey, Albert Nobbs and Watching TV with the Red Chinese.

On the small screen, two new shows premiere on January 8th. NBC’s "The Firm" continues the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family 10 years after the events of John Grisham’s 1991 novel and the 1993 film starring Tom Cruise, as the McDeeres try to escape Mitchell's past entanglements with the Chicago mob. Meanwhile, “House of Lies”, a comedy about a group of eccentric high-powered management consultants, debuts on Showtime.

And in case you missed them in theaters, The Big Year, Drive, I Don’t Know How She Does It, Killer Elite, Killing Bono, The Mill & the Cross, Moneyball, Real Steel, The Thing and What’s Your Number? all release on DVD this month.

Click here to see our Books on Screen feature for January.
Now in Stores: THE BUNGALOW by Sarah Jio
THE BUNGALOW by Sarah Jio (Historical Romance)
In the summer of 1942, 21–year–old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the island of Bora–Bora. She is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into love. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world --- until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.
Click here to read more about the book.
Now in Stores: THE HOUSE AT TYNEFORD by Natasha Solomons

THE HOUSE AT TYNEFORD by Natasha Solomons (Historical Romance)
It's the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When the master of Tyneford's young son, Kit, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford --- and Elise --- forever.

Click here to read more about the book.
Featured Historical Fiction Author: Eva Stachniak, Author of THE WINTER PALACE
In THE WINTER PALACE, award-winning author Eva Stachniak tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to power, as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.

-Click here to read a third excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read Eva Stachniak's bio.

Catherine the Great is one of history’s most fascinating rulers --- a monarch whose 34-year reign brought Russia into the modern industrial world, whose affairs were the scandal of her court, and who truly embodied the ideals of the Enlightenment. Drawing on letters, diaries, and on-the-ground research in St. Petersburg, Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo, award-winning author Eva Stachniak delivers a passionate novel that illuminates the early life of one of history’s most enigmatic and powerful women. THE WINTER PALACE tells the epic story of Catherine’s improbable rise to power, as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.

Click here to read more about Eva Stachniak and THE WINTER PALACE in our Historical Fiction feature.
This Week's Reviews
THE CONFESSION: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd (Historical Mystery)
A dying man walks into Scotland Yard and confesses that he killed his cousin five years earlier during the Great War. With little information and no body, Inspector Ian Rutledge begins to investigate. Less than two weeks later, the alleged killer’s body is found with a bullet in the back of his head. Rutledge discovers that the man was not who he claimed to be. What was his real name --- and who put a bullet in his head? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

AGENT 6 by Tom Rob Smith (Thriller)
Leo Demidov is no longer a member of Moscow's secret police. But when his wife and daughters are invited on a "Peace Tour" to New York, he is immediately suspicious. Forbidden to travel, Leo watches helplessly as his family is pulled into a web of conspiracy and betrayal that will end in tragedy. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

A QUIET VENDETTA by R.J. Ellory (Thriller)
When Catherine Ducane disappears, the cops react rapidly --- she is the daughter of the Governor of Louisiana. Her bodyguard turns up horribly mutilated, and when her kidnapper calls, he doesn't want money: he wants time alone with a functionary from a Washington-based organized crime task force. Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

THE INVISIBLE ONES by Stef Penney (Mystery)
Private investigator Ray Lovell is hired to solve a cold case, that of a Gypsy girl who disappeared seven years ago, shortly after her wedding. Part of her family wants to know what happened, and he is convinced the other part can tell him. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

KBL: KILL BIN LADEN: A Novel Based on True Events by John Weisman (Thriller/Action & Adventure)
In this pulse-pounding fictional account, John Weisman goes beyond the headlines and worldwide speculation and provides a vivid story --- based on actual events and real-life heroes --- of the breathtaking hunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist, Usama Bin Laden. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

DEAD LAST by James W. Hall (Thriller)
April Moss writes obituaries for the Miami Herald. Her son, Sawyer, also a writer, has been scripting a cable TV series called “Miami Ops” and has been using his mother’s work as a central element of the show's storyline. In “Miami Ops,” a serial killer is using obituaries published in the local paper as a blueprint for selecting his next victims. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

THE OTHER GUY’S BRIDE by Connie Brockway (Historical Romance)
When Ginesse Braxton sets out to find the lost city of Zerzura, the only thing on her mind is to establish herself in the male-dominated world of archaeology. But little does she know that the most important discovery she will make is that of true love when she joins forces with the rough and ready American adventurer Jim Owen. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.
This Week's Poll and Question


Did you get an eReader over the holidays, or did you already have one? Please check as many as apply.

Yes, I received a Kindle.
Yes, I received a Nook.
Yes, I received an iPad.
Yes, I received another eReader device.
I already had an iPad.
I already had a Nook.
I already had a Kindle.
I already had another eReader device.
I am thinking about getting an eReader.
I have no interest in getting an eReader.
I am not sure how I feel about eReaders.

If you did receive an eReader for the holidays, what did you do with it?

I started downloading books immediately!
I played around with it, but have not downloaded any books yet.
I opened it but haven't used it yet.
It's still sitting in the box.
I re-gifted it.

-Click here to answer the poll.


If you got an eReader this holiday season, what was the first book or short story that you downloaded? Name up to three.

-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 January 6th to January 20th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of BOND GIRL by Erin Duffy, THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON by Adam Johnson and THE ROPE: An Anna Pigeon Novel by Nevada Barr.

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

Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.

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