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March 16, 2012 Newsletter March 16, 2012
A Hint of Summer...
We had a brilliant burst of glorious summer-like weather in the middle of the week, and the “jetlag” of the clock change did not hit me until today. While there was less time last weekend, I still got in some great reading.

I started with STARTERS by Lissa Price, a YA novel about a world inhabited just by younger and older people. The change came about as a genocide spore wiped out those who had not been vaccinated, which was everyone middle-aged. Now the older folks do not die, the younger kids without grandparents are left to fend for themselves, and to make money the teens lend out their bodies to the older folks called "Elders." It’s completely science fiction/dystopian, neither of which is usually my thing, but the cleverness of this story was so well done that I really enjoyed it. I am having dinner with the author in a week or so…and look forward to hearing more about her inspiration for it.

Next up was THE LAND OF DECORATION (On Sale: March 27th) by Grace McCleen. Ten-year-old Judith McPherson lives with her Bible-thumping dad; her mom died in childbirth. In what the reader sees as an attempt to control the world spinning around her, she creates a miniature of the Promised Land from odd bits and scraps that she calls the Land of Decoration. It’s a story of love between a daughter and her distant father, and a child who is trying to make things right and better with the only power she has --- her imagination. So much to talk about here. It will be a great book group book.

WIFE 22 by Melanie Gideon (On Sale: May 29th) is going to be a fun summer read. Alice Buckle sees herself as the spouse of William (for 20 years) and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions. Then an anonymous online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century” shows up in her inbox. She becomes Wife 22 and is assigned a caseworker (Researcher 101). Along the way, she shares her innermost thoughts and secrets in this survey, and her confessions end up making some sparks fly. The book is fun as just Alice’s answers to the questions are on the page, and you can have fun guessing what the questions are. (Note: you also can flip to the back to read them.) I am betting you will find yourself trying to figure out how YOU would answer the questions!

There were some terrific stories about books in the news this week. First up, there was a piece on "NBC Nightly News" last Saturday about people starting pop-up libraries ---- little book exchanges promoting a sense of community. There are now 800 across 28 states in the country and even more around the world. I really want to build one next to our mailbox, but since I am all thumbs with a hammer, I am trying to convince my husband to do this. Anyone else game for making one in their town? If you are, take a picture and we will feature it!

I love college basketball this time of year. I am fascinated by the brackets and love the idea of the Sweet Sixteen, etc. For years I have wanted to do a version of this with books, but never got it together. I learned this week that Book Madness, the literary version of March Madness, is pitting books from both sides of the Atlantic against each other to see which book will be the last one standing. You can play here.

I get sent links to a lot of book trailers…and to be honest, most are not that good. This one, however, is quite special for BLOOM: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected by Kelle Hampton. And viewing it can help a cause. $$ will be donated to the National Down Syndrome Society along with a portion of author Kelle Hampton’s book proceeds. It’s very moving.

Over the past week, the buzz in the book world has been about FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E L James, an erotica title that has been described as “mommy porn” and also as a book “people cannot put down.” It is the first in a trilogy that has been a runaway sensation. I have not read it…yet…thus am wondering if our readers have read it…and what you have to say about it if you have. And I am asking you, “Should I read it?” How’s that for turning tables for a moment?

And one last nice thing… This week, it was announced that #1 bestselling author James Patterson and Little, Brown and Company are donating 200,000 copies of hardcover Patterson titles to the United States Armed Forces. The donation will include copies of TICK TOCK, PRIVATE, THE POSTCARD KILLERS, I, ALEX CROSS, SWIMSUIT, THE 9th JUDGMENT, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, CROSS COUNTRY, SAIL and THE QUICKIE. The books will be distributed via Operation Gratitude with the help of George Scott of Books for Heroes and the Peerless Book Store of Alpharetta, Georgia, as well as a number of military support organizations via Feed The Children.

Patterson says, “Every day the men and women of our Armed Forces sacrifice themselves on our behalf. I can’t think of a more deserving group to receive this gift, and I hope that this gesture shows how big our gratitude truly is.” I love moments like this. Now onward to this week’s reviews…

We were saddened to hear that New York Times foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid was killed in Syria on February 16th, which makes the release of his book, HOUSE OF STONE: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East, bittersweet. The book follows Shadid’s journey to his great-grandfather’s estate in Lebanon, which he began rebuilding after having traumatic experiences in the Libyan revolution. It’s been getting rave reviews, including the one from our reviewer, Eileen Zimmerman Nicol, who says, “A treatise on the meaning of home and an evocation of a part of the world that since World War I has known very little else but war or the threat of war, HOUSE OF STONE opens our eyes to the pathos and color of this region.”

On a lighter note, Lauren Groff’s ARCADIA, set in rural New York in the 1970s, follows a young man as he grows up in an idealistic commune built by his parents and their friends on the grounds of an old mansion. As our reviewer, Norah Piehl, says, “ARCADIA is far more than a portrait of a 'fringe' community or a saga of corruption and lost innocence. It's an extended conversation --- one in which the reader is an active participant --- on the fragility of nature, the power and necessity of connection, and the dual human compulsion to preserve and destroy both.”

Simon Lelic has a new book out called THE CHILD WHO. His last book, A THOUSAND CUTS, was one of my Bets On picks from last year, and THE CHILD WHO sounds like another fantastic read. Set in modern-day England, the story follows provincial attorney Leo Curtice, who is hoping his career will take off with the case of Daniel Blake, a 12-year-old boy who has been accused of murdering another child. Our reviewer, Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum, says, “With supreme élan, Simon Lelic has written a fast-paced novel that draws the reader in at once.” Exactly the reason I enjoyed A THOUSAND CUTS!

Another case unfolds in Cara Black’s MURDER AT THE LANTERNE ROUGE: An Aimee Leduc Investigation. Aimee Leduc has gotten herself into another tangle, this time involving a missing young woman, an illegal immigrant raid in progress, botched affairs of the heart, dirty policemen, the French secret service, cutting-edge science secrets, and a murderer on the loose. My son, Greg, reviewed it, and he said, “MURDER AT THE LANTERNE ROUGE is one of the most atmospheric crime novels I’ve read in a long time. Black so accurately represents the joys and senses of Paris in January that I immediately found myself standing in front of Notre Dame the way she did, feeling every sense of the experience.” And yes, I am really proud that Greg reviewed a book for us this week.

Don’t forget about the contest in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight featuring Susan Mallery’s BAREFOOT SEASON. Enter to win an advance copy by Thursday, March 22nd at noon ET!

And speaking of contests, our Spring Preview has only two more contests left, so make sure to get in on them! One will be for Peter Farris’s LAST CALL FOR THE LIVING, starting at noon ET on March 19th, and the other will be for GLAMOUR IN GLASS by Mary Robinette Kowal, starting at noon ET on March 20th. If you’d like to get our special newsletter announcing the contest titles and sending reminders, you can sign up for it here.

This week’s poll and question were inspired by the recent New York Times article about book blurbs. The article got us thinking about which authors’ and publications’ opinions we trust the most, and for our poll, we want to know just that: Do you read blurbs (quotes) on the front and/or back of books, and do blurbs influence your book selections? And to go along with the poll, our question is: What author's or publication’s blurb would influence your book selections? This week’s Word of Mouth contest continues with the aforementioned ARCADIA, SO PRETTY IT HURTS by Kate White (I am headed to her book launch party next Thursday night), and STAY CLOSE by Harlan Coben. So be sure to tell us what you’re reading by Friday, March 23rd at noon ET for a chance to win all three of these books!

I've been monkeying around with new Timeline Headers on our Facebook pages this week and have new ones on,,, and I'm not loving what we came up with for (I took the photo so I can say that!), so if anyone has an idea, we are all ears. Take a look and let me know. If we use your idea, I’ll contact you and send you a book or an upcoming ARC as a thank you.

We have a big update over on with three new contests there, all ending Thursday, April 5th at noon ET: THE STARBOARD SEA by Amber Dermont, RETURN TO GRACE: A Home Valley Amish Novel by Karen Harper and MIDNIGHT IN PEKING: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French. Click here to check out our full update for March.

The weekend is promising to be a busy one. Tomorrow will be the annual corned beef and cabbage ode to St. Patrick’s Day; Sunday is a friend’s birthday party. In between….lots of reading, including THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES, which I have wanted to get to for a while as it has had some terrific buzz. We are featuring it on this month.

Sunday night is the season finale of "The Walking Dead." Last week’s episode was so tension-filled that I thought THAT was the season closer. Talk about ratcheted-up tension.

Cory has a Robotics competition this weekend at Rutgers. I asked him for the schedule for us attending, but he told me he would let me know if he hears they are going to win. Then I can come. Okay, I will hold for the text since there will be a text, not a call.

When the weather was nice this week, I started planning all kinds of outdoor projects, and you can imagine my husband’s glee about these ideas. I think he called for dank weather today just to slow me down on these ideas. Here’s to sunshine coming back…and a great week of reading ahead.

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: ARCADIA by Lauren Groff
ARCADIA by Lauren Groff (Fiction)
In the fields of western New York State in the 1970s, a few dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what would become a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Lauren Groff’s latest novel follows this romantic, rollicking and tragic utopian dream. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: HOUSE OF STONE by Anthony Shadid
HOUSE OF STONE: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid (Memoir)
In spring 2011, Anthony Shadid was one of four New York Times reporters captured in Libya, which was seized by revolution. When he was freed, Shadid returned to his great-grandfather’s estate, a house he had begun to rebuild over three years earlier. HOUSE OF STONE is the story of a battle-scarred home and a war correspondent’s jostled spirit. Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: GODS WITHOUT MEN by Hari Kunzru
GODS WITHOUT MEN by Hari Kunzru (Fiction)
Jaz and Lisa Matharu are plunged into a surreal public hell after their son, Raj, vanishes during a family vacation in the California desert. Before Raj reappears inexplicably unharmed --- but not unchanged --- the fate of this young family will intersect with that of many others, echoing the stories of all those who have traveled before them. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
Click here to read a review.
Featured Women’s Fiction Author: Susan Mallery, Author of BAREFOOT SEASON
We have 50 advance reading copies of BAREFOOT SEASON by Susan Mallery, which will be in stores March 27th, to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment on it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Thursday, March 22nd at noon ET.

Michelle Sanderson may appear to be a strong, independent woman, but on the inside, she’s still the wounded girl who fled home years ago. A young army vet, Michelle returns to the quaint Blackberry Island Inn to claim her inheritance and recover from the perils of war. Instead, she finds the owner’s suite occupied by the last person she wants to see.

Carly Williams and Michelle were once inseparable, until a shocking betrayal destroyed their friendship. And now Carly is implicated in the financial disaster lurking behind the inn’s cheerful veneer.

Single mother Carly has weathered rumors, lies and secrets for a lifetime, and is finally starting to move forward with love and life. But if the Blackberry Island Inn goes under, Carly and her daughter will go with it.

To save their livelihoods, Carly and Michelle will undertake a turbulent truce. It’ll take more than a successful season to move beyond their devastating past, but with a little luck and a beautiful summer, they may just rediscover the friendship of a lifetime.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to visit the official website of the series.
-Click here to read Susan Mallery's bio.

Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight feature.
Now in Stores: ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART by Jane Green
ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART by Jane Green (Fiction)
Andi has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at 37, she's finally found him: Ethan, a divorced father of two. But in his daughter Emily’s eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father’s love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: POISON FLOWER by Thomas Perry

POISON FLOWER: A Jane Whitefield Novel by Thomas Perry (Thriller)
Jane Whitefield spirits James Shelby, a man unjustly convicted of his wife’s murder, out of a criminal court building. Within minutes, men posing as police kidnap Jane and, when she tries to escape, shoot her. Jane’s captors are employees of the man who really killed Shelby’s wife. She endures their torment and is willing to die rather than betray Shelby. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE CHILD WHO by Simon Lelic
THE CHILD WHO by Simon Lelic (Psychological Thriller)
A chance phone call throws the biggest murder case in southern England into the hands of provincial attorney Leo Curtice. Twelve-year-old Daniel Blake stands accused of murdering an 11-year-old girl. But who is truly responsible when one child kills another? As Curtice sets out to defend the indefensible, he soon finds himself pitted against an enraged community calling for blood. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

Click here to read a review.'s Spring Preview Contests and Feature
Spring is in the air! We’ve already caught the fever --- and so have the publishers! Here are some picks that we know people will be talking about over the next few months. We will be hosting a number of 24-hour contests for these titles on select days through March 21st at noon ET. You will need to check the site to see the featured book and enter to win. We also will be sending a special newsletter to announce each title, which you can sign up for here.

Our next prize book will be announced on Monday, March 19th at noon ET.

This year's featured titles are:

-ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell
-DARK MAGIC by James Swain
-A DOG'S JOURNEY: Another Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron
-GLAMOUR IN GLASS by Mary Robinette Kowal
-ISLAND APART by Steven Raichlen
-LIVING PROOF by Kira Peikoff
-THE SINGLES by Meredith Goldstein
-THREE A.M. by Steven John
-TRUE SISTERS by Sandra Dallas
-WIDE OPEN by Deborah Coates

Click here to see our Spring Preview feature and sign up for our special newsletter.’s Hunger Games Movie Feature and Contest, the newest site in The Book Report Network, is gearing up for the release of the first film in The Hunger Games trilogy with a special blog series and great prizes! From now through March 23rd on, we will post a new blog each day leading up to the movie premiere, providing you with commentary and great giveaways to get you in the mood for The Hunger Games!

One lucky reader will have the chance to win a basket of Hunger Games goodies --- THE HUNGER GAMES movie-tie in edition, the Collector's Edition, THE OFFICIAL ILLUSTRATED MOVIE COMPANION and THE TRIBUTE GUIDE. The deadline for entries is Friday, March 23rd at noon ET.

-Click here to read The Hunger Games blog.
Click here to read all the contest details.
Calling All Kids and Teens! Vote for Your Favorite Books, Authors and Illustrators of 2011 in the Children's Choice Book Awards
The Children’s Book Council has announced the finalists for the fifth annual Children's Choice Book Awards. Thousands of children and teens are able to cast their votes for their favorite books, authors and illustrators at bookstores, schools, libraries and at from now until May 3rd.

The winners will be announced live at the annual Children’s Choice Book Awards Gala on May 7th in New York City as part of Children’s Book Week (May 7-13), the oldest national literacy event in the United States.

Click here to cast your votes for the 2012 Children's Choice Book Awards.
New Guides Now Available on
The following guides are now available on


BEING LARA by Lola Jaye
THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal
MIDNIGHT IN PEKING: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French
RESTORATION by Olaf Olafsson
RETURN TO GRACE: A Home Valley Amish Novel by Karen Harper
THE STARBOARD SEA by Amber Dermont

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

THE DRESSMAKER OF KHAIR KHANA: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
THE LANTERN by Deborah Lawrenson

The following new guides are now available for Christian book groups:

LOVE'S SACRED SONG by Mesu Andrews
SARAI: Wives of the Patriarchs, Book 1 by Jill Eileen Smith
Click here to visit
This Week's Reviews
MURDER AT THE LANTERNE ROUGE: An Aimee Leduc Investigation by Cara Black (Mystery)
A missing young woman, an illegal immigrant raid in progress, botched affairs of the heart, dirty policemen, the French secret service, cutting-edge science secrets and a murderer on the loose --- what has Aimée Leduc gotten herself into? And can she get herself --- and her friends --- back out of it all alive? Reviewed by Greg Fitzgerald.

BLACK SITE: A Delta Force Novel by Dalton Fury (Thriller/Action & Adventure)
A Delta Force operator and one-time American hero, Kolt Raynor is still trying to make sense of his life, and duty, after a secret mission gone bad. He’s been given a second chance to do right by his country, his men and himself. But his shot at redemption comes at a price. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE EMERALD DIAMOND: How the Irish Transformed America's Greatest Pastime by Charley Rosen (Sports History)
From early discrimination to later domination, from Mike Kelly, a society star in the 1880s, to the managerial fame of Connie Mack, early Irish players and managers helped shape the game of baseball in every way. With decade-by-decade profiles of exciting Irish figures on the field and off, THE EMERALD DIAMOND also offers important discussion on cultural and political themes relevant to their times. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

SISTERHOOD OF DUNE by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Science Fiction)
It is 83 years after the last of the thinking machines were destroyed in the Battle of Corrin, after Faykan Butler took the name of Corrino and established himself as the first Emperor of a new Imperium. Great changes are brewing that will shape all of humankind. Reviewed by Pauline Finch.

THE SOUND OF A SCREAM by John Manning (Thriller)
Daphne May tries to adjust to her strange surroundings in Point Woebegone, but a killer keeps striking this small Maine town. A psychopath is culling his victims with brutal precision, and Daphne's arrival is far from random. But knowledge may come too late to save her from the secrets in her past, with a killer hiding in plain sight. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

TOUCHSTONE by Melanie Rawn (Fantasy)
Cayden Silversun is part Elven, part Fae, part human Wizard --- and all rebel. His aristocratic mother would have him follow his father to the Royal Court, to make a high society living off the scraps of kings. But Cade lives and breathes for the theater. With his company, he’ll enter the highest reaches of society and power, as an honored artist --- or die trying. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

THE HOPE VENDETTA by Scott Mariani (Thriller)
Ex-SAS operative and hero-for-hire Ben Hope has decided to put down his gun for good. When his professor and friend asks him to help find his missing daughter, Ben declines, but puts his buddy, Charlie Palmer, on the case. But when Charlie runs into trouble, Ben reluctantly joins him to find out what might have happened. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

Poll and Question of the Week


Do you read blurbs (quotes) on the front and/or back of books?


Do blurbs influence your book selections? Please check as many as apply.

Yes, if the blurb is written by an author whose work I know
Yes, if the blurb is written by an author I have heard of
Yes, if the blurb is from a publication or reviewer I trust
Yes, if the blurb is from a publication or reviewer I have heard of
Yes, if the blurb makes the book sound appealing to me
Occasionally, if I don’t know much about the book
No, because I am not interested in reading promotional blurbs
No, because I would rather get the opinion of someone I know
No, because I already know enough about the books I am going to buy or borrow without reading the blurbs
I am not sure how I feel about blurbs.
Other (Please specify)


-Click here to answer the poll.


What author’s or publication’s blurb would influence your book selections?

-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 March 9th to March 23rd, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of ARCADIA by Lauren Groff, SO PRETTY IT HURTS: A Bailey Weggins Mystery by Kate White, and STAY CLOSE by Harlan Coben.

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


Click here to enter the contest.

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