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November 14, 2014 Newsletter November 14, 2014
Old Friends

This week, I spent time with old friends. Back in 1995, when we were conceptualizing the company that would become The Book Report Network, I met two people who also had fledgling sites on AOL who became my friends for life. One was Gene Carr, who at the time ran Culture Finder and now runs Patron Technology and Patron Manager. His company offers ticketing, subscriptions, fundraising, email marketing and staff collaboration technology for arts organizations. Our newsletters are powered by PatronMail, and what makes me smile is that Gene reads the newsletter each week to keep up with what is going on with me. Thus, when we meet, he is way up to speed on my life.

On Wednesday night, he threw a small party for friends, where his four-man band, The Clients (named as two of them are clients of the architect who built their homes in the Berkshires), entertained us. Above you can see a photo of Gene on electric cello (an instrument that I had never heard of before). While at the party, Lily, a Patron staffer, stopped me to share that when she looks for something to read, she frequently selects one of my Bets On titles. This news made my evening, and I was happy to hear that she has enjoyed so many. In fact, she pulled out her Kindle and went through what she had read with me.

Lourdes Orive used to be part of a site called Moms Online, another early AOL property, which was bought by Oxygen years ago. She went on to work for Starbucks, Major League Baseball, Microsoft and is now at Apple. She was in town on business, and we caught up for dinner last night and relived some very funny times. For many years, Lourdes reviewed books for us at, and I miss seeing her voice on these pages. Greg had never met her, but after one very long and fun Chinese dinner, he saw why we are friends for life.

I count myself lucky that what I do has enabled me to maintain and nurture friendships with so many of the wonderful people I have met through the years.

It snowed at home last night, and I was way underdressed for the pouring rain in New York. Lourdes, a native of Seattle, kept assuring me I did not need an umbrella as this was not "real rain." She was instead I tucked my polar fleece poncho (which ironically I bought with her on a trip to visit her in Seattle) shrouded over my head, and she and Greg teased me that I looked like a nun wrapped in pale blue, calling me Sister of Blue Mercy.

On the subject of colleagues, this week we said goodbye to Eric P. Rhodes, who has been a member of The Book Report Network family since May 23, 2006 (he always remembered the exact date he started with us). Eric was the Director of Web Design for our division for the past eight-plus years, and worked with me to architect/shepherd through/worry about/gnash teeth over the redesign of and our other sites, which was a four-year-plus project. We feted him with three of his favorite things: bacon, oatmeal raisin cookies and Jack Daniels. Above you can see a spontaneous shot of me hugging him goodbye.

No one gets to leave without getting a last word in, so besides a toast to us, Eric was kind enough to share with us some of his insight about audiobooks in our “Sounding Off on Audio” feature. We also hear from Carol Kubala, a retired librarian and a longtime fan. She’s an old hand when it comes to audiobooks --- and has plenty of wisdom to share. If you are an audiobook aficionado and would like to be interviewed, then drop me a note at with the subject line "Audiobook Lover." We are running two interviews every week.

Remember, if you have not yet answered our Audiobook Survey, it's open to both listeners and non-listeners. Finish it by Monday, December 1st at noon ET, and you will be eligible for prizes. Click here to get started.

We believe in getting children started early on the path to reading; indeed, our website does that each month with reviews and features of new children’s titles. Now we have word of a new online community for moms and dads (and grandparents!) who are connected by their love of reading and their dedication to inspiring that passion in their children, called Brightly. Do you have children you read with, or children who read on their own? If so, we’d like to know more about what’s important to you and how you encourage them to love reading as much as you do. Answer the survey here by December 31st, and you'll be entered to win one of 50 copies of one of my newish favorite kids’ books, THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. They are looking for feedback from parents and grandparents of children 0-13, so if you fit the bill, share your comments!

Speaking of getting kids to read, I'm sorry to share that Raymond Almiran Montgomery, publisher and author of the wildly popular Choose Your Own Adventure series for children, died this past Sunday, November 9th, at the age of 78. He was a pioneer in his field and astoundingly successful at getting generations of children to pick up books: 230 of his Choose Your Own Adventure titles have sold more than 250 million copies in more than 40 languages. That's a lot of kids reading! To read more about this astounding man, click here for his obituary. These books were faves of our Editorial Director, Tom Donadio!

Besides the trip-down-memory-lane moments, this has been one busy week. At lunch on Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Norris, the author of BETWEEN YOU AND ME: Confessions of a Comma Queen (on sale April 6th). Mary began working at The New Yorker in 1978 and has been a query proofreader at the magazine since 1993. She is lively and fun, and this promises to be one very enjoyable read on the subject of grammar and life. Accompanying each book on the table was a Blackwing pencil, my husband’s favorite, which clearly is a fave of Mary’s as well. I slipped an extra in my bag for him! As I got my start in magazines, Mary and my tablemates commiserated about closing dates and getting the train --- I mean the issue --- out on time. As someone whose grammar skills are sorely lacking (everyone on staff edits me), I cannot wait to delve into what promises to be a delightful book on the subject.

This morning, I am off to the Open House at Random House event, where I look forward to meeting some of our readers and enjoying the stellar programming that this event always brings. And getting ideas for my reading list!

And now on to this week’s update…

Horror legend Stephen King takes readers to a small New England town in REVIVAL. Young Jamie Morton, along with the rest of his town, is awestruck by Charles Jacobs, the new minister, and his beautiful wife. Unbeknownst to everyone else, Jamie and Charles share a bond based on a secret obsession. But when tragedy strikes Charles’ family, he curses God and is immediately banished from town. Years later, Jamie, now a heroin addict, meets Charles again, and their bond threatens to take over their lives --- leading to King’s most frightening conclusion yet.

Joe Hartlaub has our review and says, “REVIVAL is fearfully and wonderfully dedicated to a number of old-school horror authors, and the reason for this becomes all too clear by the time one reaches the book’s finish line. While it takes King a while to set up the board, the second half of the story, particularly the last hundred pages, will stick with you long after you read the final paragraph.” In celebration of this new release, Rolling Stone has broken down King’s work from A (Annie Wilkes) to Z (Zihuatanejo). Click here for a horror-filled trip down nightmare lane!

New and old fans of forensic sleuth Dr. Kay Scarpetta will love FLESH AND BLOOD, Patricia Cornwell’s 22nd book in the series. Scarpetta is just about to go on vacation with her husband when she notices seven old but shiny pennies on a wall behind their house. Soon after her discovery, she learns that a deadly-precise sniper has killed a high school music teacher nearby, leaving no clues other than scraps of copper. As more and more victims drop, Scarpetta is no closer to identifying the enigmatic killer, until she investigates a shipwreck off the coast of South Florida --- where clues implicate her own niece.

Reviewer Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum raves, "[R]eaders can presumably look forward to Kay Scarpetta and the gang in thrillers yet to come. If they are as stunningly suspenseful and pull the reader in immediately upon the first page as FLESH AND BLOOD does, then Cornwell will continue to have fans who snatch up her books as soon as they go on sale.”

The dynamic duo of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child returns with a new Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast thriller, BLUE LABYRINTH. When one of Pendergast’s worst enemies shows up dead on his doorstep, a long-buried family secret comes to light. A piece of turquoise in the victim’s stomach leads Pendergast to a deserted mine in California, where he can further investigate his family’s dark past. But before he knows it, Pendergast is caught in a deadly plot masterminded by a killer who wants vengeance for an ancient wrong --- that may end in his death.

Ray Palen proclaims in his review, “This may be a bold statement, but I believe BLUE LABYRINTH is the finest Pendergast novel yet.... The story gives you everything readers have become accustomed to when delving into a Preston and Child thriller: edge-of-your seat suspense, flawless plotting and enough scientific detail to please all of their fans…. BLUE LABYRINTH is a fine work and one of the best reads of 2014.”

Comedy lovers will say “YES PLEASE” to Amy Poehler’s #1 New York Times bestseller, a rich collection of stories, photographs, mantras and more. The star of “Saturday Night Live,” “Parks and Recreation” and several hit films offers her take on everything from boyfriends to plastic surgery, never losing her signature skill for wit. I listened to the audiobook, which I enjoyed, and thus, when copies of this book arrived in the office this week, we all noted they were HEAVY! The pages are printed on heavy shiny stock, which our reviewer noted as well. We reached out to the publisher to ask why and were told that the paper was selected because it was "the best choice to showcase the photos and design features throughout the book."

Amy talked about one thing I am going to do. For my birthday, I will ask my parents to write the story of the day I was born. And I am going to do the same for my boys. A very lovely suggestion for documenting an important memory.

Sarah Rachel Egelman has our review and says, "It is perhaps a cliché to say that a book is great for gift-giving, but YES PLEASE truly would make a wonderful gift. Printed on thick, glossy pages, it’s also nice to hold and look at, which is no small thing. Poehler is able to swing wildly between the totally crude and the incredibly tender, remaining likable and honest, though a bit guarded, throughout."

Fans of Patrick Rothfuss’ accomplished Kingkiller Chronicle series will love THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS, a companion book written from the point of view of Auri, one of Rothfuss’ most enigmatic characters. Auri lives deep below the University in a spiral of forgotten passages and rooms known as the Underthing. Here, readers join Auri on an adventure of her own, seeing the world through her eyes.

According to Amy Gwiazdowski, “THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS is a perfect little story, so much like Auri herself. While the author might note that the book isn’t for everyone, it’s for those who have read and enjoyed his works and want a glimpse into the silent world Auri inhabits.”

Also available now is YOU HAVE TO F**KING EAT by Adam Mansbach, with illustrations by Owen Brozman. The author of the international bestseller GO THE F*** TO SLEEP returns with his highly anticipated sequel about parental frustrations. Affectionate and honest, Mansbach lifts the curtain on child-rearing, offering moms, dads and grandparents the permission to laugh about a universally annoying problem.

This week, we wrapped up the first three contests in our Holiday Cheer feature, where we’re giving away books that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. This year’s Holiday Cheer titles include books that you want to give and get, as well as a couple of “hot” 2015 titles. The contests kick off at noon ET on select days through December and run for just 24 hours, so you will have to check the site to see what is being featured. As always, we’ll be sending our special Holiday Cheer newsletter on the days when there are contests. Click here to sign up for these email alerts. If you have problems signing up, please send a note to, and he will handle this for you.

Week one’s prizes were THE DEEPEST SECRET by Carla Buckley, HELLO FROM THE GILLESPIES by Monica McInerney and UNDER THE WIDE AND STARRY SKY by Nancy Horan. Next week, we’ll be giving away BY WINTER'S LIGHT: A Cynster Novel by Stephanie Laurens, MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH EATING: From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love by Ann Mah, A QUILT FOR CHRISTMAS by Sandra Dallas and THE SOCIAL CLIMBER'S BIBLE: A Book of Manners, Practical Tips, and Spiritual Advice for the Upwardly Mobile by Dirk Wittenborn and Jazz Johnson. Our next prize book will be announced on Monday the 17th at noon ET.

With the holiday season almost upon us, we’re curious about the types of books you typically give over the holidays. Click here to let us know in our latest poll!

In our previous poll, we wanted to know which paid subscription services you use. 64% of you have basic cable, while 50% use Netflix and 40% have Amazon Prime. Click here for the complete breakdown.

We have a new Word of Mouth contest up this week. Let us know by Friday, December 5th at noon ET the books that you’ve finished reading, and you’ll have the opportunity to win BETRAYED: A Rosato & DiNunzio Novel by Lisa Scottoline, THE CINDERELLA MURDER by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke, and DON’T GIVE UP, DON’T GIVE IN: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin.

On Saturday night this weekend, we are having our good friend, Moe Schwartz, and his family over for dinner. I guess this is in keeping with my old friends theme this week. My husband met Moe on a squash court over 30 years ago; Moe is turning 91 next week and still plays. I'm looking forward to this.

As the frost was upon us, I brought two more large hibiscus plants in the house last weekend, as they still had blooms and I could not bear to see them die. This weekend, I need to organize the kitchen that has turned into a greenhouse! Also, I bought a number of hibiscus bulbs to give as holiday gifts, and I have to get them planted lest I give plants that bloom for Valentine’s Day, which I have been known to do with some of mine. Oh, and the sweater/scarf knitting project that I started last week is headed back to the drawing board. Rip rip rip.

We watched three episodes of "Broadchurch" last Friday night and enjoyed them enormously. I was really tired and slept through part of the second episode. In doing some research about the show, I learned that "Gracepoint" on Fox is the American version of the show. It is --- literally --- as I found when I watched two episodes this week. Shot sequences are set up the same, and the dialogue is the same, though "Broadchurch" is a better production. But hey, at least I was able to catch up on what I missed in episode two as I had sent the discs back to Netflix. Has anyone else watched this? Thoughts on both are welcome!

I'm trying to decide what to read this week, but there is no lack of choices on my stack. Stay tuned next week to see what was selected!

Read on, and here’s to a great week ahead…

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: REVIVAL by Stephen King
REVIVAL by Stephen King (Thriller/Horror)
In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a new minister named Charles Jacobs will transform the local church. However, when tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief and is banished from the shocked town. Years later, a grownup Jamie Morton meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: FLESH AND BLOOD by Patricia Cornwell
FLESH AND BLOOD: A Scarpetta Novel by Patricia Cornwell (Mystery)
Dr. Kay Scarpetta finds herself in the unsettling pursuit of a serial sniper who leaves no incriminating evidence except fragments of copper. The victims appear to have had nothing in common, and there is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next. When Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze, she comes face to face with shocking evidence that implicates her techno genius niece, Lucy, her own flesh and blood. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: BLUE LABYRINTH by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
BLUE LABYRINTH by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Thriller)
A long-buried family secret resurfaces when one of Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast's most feared enemies shows up on his doorstep as a murdered corpse with a piece of turquoise lodged in the stomach. The gem leads Pendergast to an abandoned mine on the shore of California's desolate Salton Sea. But Pendergast learns there is more at work than a ghastly episode of family history: he is soon stalked by a killer bent on vengeance over an ancient transgression. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler
YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler (Memoir/Humor)
A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, YES PLEASE offers Amy Poehler's thoughts on everything from her "too safe" childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and "the biz," the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a "face for wigs." Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: I MUST SAY by Martin Short
I MUST SAY: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short (Memoir)
In this engagingly witty, wise and heartfelt memoir, Martin Short tells the tale of how a showbiz-obsessed kid from Canada transformed himself into one of Hollywood’s favorite funnymen. But there is another side to Short’s life that he has long kept private. He lost his eldest brother and both of his parents, and, more recently, his wife succumbed to cancer. In I MUST SAY, Short talks for the first time about the pain that these losses inflicted and the upbeat life philosophy that has kept him resilient and carried him through. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS by Patrick Rothfuss
THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS written by Patrick Rothfuss, illustrated by Nate Taylor (Fantasy)
In THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS, we meet a girl named Auri who lives in Underthing, a maze of forgotten underground tunnels below the University. She goes about her day putting the world, and all her precious objects, to right according to her own internal rules. Auri is a wonder, a sad, slightly broken person, but one so fascinating. This continuation of the world created by author Patrick Rothfuss in his Kingkiller Chronicle series is an incredible peek into the world of the character of Auri. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to visit Patrick Rothfuss' official website.
Click here to read a review.'s Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature
At, we kick off the holiday season in style with our Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature. This year’s Holiday Cheer titles include books that you want to give and get, as well as a couple of “hot” 2015 titles. The contests kick off at noon ET on select days in November and December, and run for just 24 hours, so you will have to check the site to see what is being featured. As always, we’ll be sending our special Holiday Cheer newsletter on the days when there are contests. Click here to sign up for these email alerts.

Our next prize book will be announced on Monday, November 17th at noon ET.

This year's featured titles are:

Click here to read all the contest details and see our featured titles.
Sounding Off on Audio: Interviews with Listeners About Their Love of Audiobooks
As we continue to explore the world of audiobooks, we bring you our newest feature, “Sounding Off on Audio,” where we interview listeners about their love of audiobooks. Find out what they listen to, who their favorite narrators are, why they enjoy audiobooks, and much more. Whether you are a seasoned listener of audiobooks or have only a passing curiosity, we hope that you find these interviews to be fun and informative --- and perhaps come across a title or two that you can add to your audiobook listening list. Whenever possible, we will try to provide samples for your listening pleasure as well.

We have two interviews to share with you this week.

On Tuesday, we said goodbye to a beloved member of The Book Report Network family. Eric P. Rhodes was the Director of Web Design for our division for the past eight-plus years. Not one to leave without getting a last word in, Eric was kind enough to share some of his audio insight with us --- including how addictive the instant gratification of downloads can be, and why it’s important to focus when listening…audiobooks can be just as informative as a college course.

-Click here to read our interview with Eric P. Rhodes.

We also chat with Carol Kubala, a retired librarian and a longtime fan. She’s an old hand when it comes to audiobooks --- and has plenty of wisdom to share. Here, Carol lets us in on the secret to great narration, as well as how she designates which audiobooks to listen to and when (hint: thrillers are great for multitasking).

-Click here to read our interview with Carol Kubala.
Click here for more "Sounding Off on Audio" interviews.
Voice Your Thoughts About Audiobooks in Our Survey --- Whether You Listen or Not --- and Enter to Win a Book or an Audiobook on CD!
Do you listen to audiobooks? If you have a smartphone, you can easily listen to an audiobook, so we want to know if you are tuned into them or not. We would like to hear from both listeners and non-listeners, so chime in with your thoughts in our Audiobook Survey. The questions have been designed so you can respond either way. Finish the survey, and you can enter a drawing for the chance to win one of 25 books or audiobooks on CD. There will be 25 prizes for listeners and 25 prizes for non-listeners.

The survey will be open until Monday, December 1st at noon ET. Please note that prizes are limited to respondents in the U.S. and Canada.

-Click here for the official rules.
Click here to take the survey.
How Do You Read with Your Kids? Take the Brightly Reader Survey --- and Enter to Win a Book!
Do you have children or grandchildren you read with, or who read on their own? If so, we’d like to know more about what’s important to you, and how you encourage them to love reading as much as you do. Let us know by taking the Brightly Reader Survey here. You’ll also have the chance to enter to win a copy of THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, the charming children's book written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Plus, sign up to be a charter member of Brightly, a community of parents and grandparents, connected by their love of reading and their dedication to inspiring that passion in their children.
Click here to take the survey.
Celebrate This Year’s Miami Book Fair International from November 16-23

Enjoy the 31st edition of Miami Book Fair International, the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering presented by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College.

The Fair, an eight-day literary party, will open Sunday, November 16th with the popular "Evenings With…" series, featuring six nights of readings and discussions with noted authors from the United States and around the world. This year's participants include Anne Rice, Patricia Cornwell, Joyce Carol Oates, Alexander McCall Smith, Walter Isaacson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Dave Barry, and many others. The “Evenings With...” tickets are now on sale.

Click here for the full schedule of events and here for all the authors who will be in attendance.

On Friday, November 21st, the Street Fair gets underway. The highlight is the Festival of Authors, with more than 450 authors reading and discussing their work. During Street Fair weekend, more than 250 publishers and booksellers exhibit and sell books, with special features like the antiquarians, who showcase signed first editions, original manuscripts and other collectibles.

Click here for more information about Miami Book Fair International.
More Reviews This Week
AS YOU WISH: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden (Arts & Entertainment)
From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear and director Rob Reiner. Reviewed by Jeff Ayers.

PRIVATE INDIA: CITY ON FIRE by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi (Thriller)
When Jack Morgan opens the Mumbai branch of Private, the world's most elite detective agency, he hands the reins to top agent Santosh Wagh. A killer is targeting seemingly unconnected women and placing strange objects at their death scenes in a series of chilling rituals. As the Private team races to find a link that will lead them to the next victim, an unseen menace threatens to destroy the agency from within --- and plunge the city into chaos. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

LIVES IN RUINS: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble by Marilyn Johnson (Social Science/Archaeology)
Pompeii, Machu Picchu, the Valley of the Kings, the Parthenon --- the names of these legendary archaeological sites conjure up romance and mystery. The news is full of archaeology: treasures found and treasures lost. Where are the archaeologists behind these stories? What kind of work do they actually do, and why does it matter? Marilyn Johnson’s LIVES IN RUINS is an absorbing and entertaining look at the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Reviewed by Carly Silver.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS by Marlon James (Historical Fiction)
On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife and his manager, and injured several others. A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath. Reviewed by Megan Elliott.

PAPER LOVE: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind by Sarah Wildman (Memoir)
Years after her grandfather’s death, journalist Sarah Wildman stumbled upon a cache of his letters. One woman’s letters stood out: those from Valy, her grandfather’s lover who had remained behind when he fled Europe six months after the Nazis annexed Austria. Obsessed with Valy’s story, Wildman began a quest that lasted years and spanned continents. She discovered, to her shock, an entire world of other people searching for the same woman. Reviewed by Rebecca Kilberg.

THE REMEDY FOR LOVE by Bill Roorbach (Romantic Thriller)
Danielle doesn’t really have a home. She’s squatting in a cabin deep in the woods, with no electricity or heat --- nothing but the nearby river to sustain her. She’ll need food, water and firewood --- and that’s just to get her through the storm. Eric gets her set up and departs with relief, but his car has been towed with his phone inside. There’s no choice but to return to the cabin. Danielle is terrified, then merely hostile. Who is this guy with this big idea that it’s she who needs rescuing? Reviewed by Donna Smallwood.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

RESPECT: The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz (Biography)
Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has evolved ever since her hit single "Respect," amidst personal tragedy, surprise Grammy performances and career reinventions. Again and again, Aretha stubbornly finds a way to triumph over troubles, even as they continue to build. Her hold on the crown is tenacious, and in RESPECT, David Ritz gives us the definitive life of one of the greatest talents in all American culture. Reviewed by Jane Krebs.

THE LAST BREATH by Kimberly Belle (Mystery/Thriller)
Gia Andrews’ father was imprisoned 16 years ago for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he’s come home to die of cancer, and she’s responsible for his care. As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth --- and all the lies that came before --- may have deadlier consequences than she ever could have anticipated. Reviewed by Renee Yeager.

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

EASY DEATH by Daniel Boyd (Crime Fiction)
It takes guts and good luck to pull off an armored car robbery, and Walter and Eddie have both. But getting the money and getting away with it are two different things, especially with a blizzard coming down, the cops in hot pursuit, and a double-crossing gambler and a sadistic park ranger threatening to turn this white Christmas blood red. Reviewed by Tom Callahan and Joe Hartlaub.

TWILIGHT OF THE EASTERN GODS by Ismail Kadare (Fiction)
Albanian author Ismail Kadare’s semi-autobiographical novel was originally published in 1978. This episodic book is a chronicle of the years (1958-1960) Kadare spent as a graduate student at Moscow’s Gorky Institute, a “factory of the intellect” intended to nurture a new generation of Socialist Realist writers. The novel’s centerpiece is the furor that resulted when the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel in Literature to DOCTOR ZHIVAGO author Boris Pasternak. Reviewed by Michael Magras.

THUNDER IN THE MOUNTAINS: A Portrait of American Gun Culture by Craig K. Collins (Memoir)
In this beautifully written and powerful memoir, author Craig K. Collins ushers readers down a remarkable path --- one that wends from the American frontier to present-day suburbia. Along the way, he explores the meaning of a history --- of his family’s and his country’s --- that is infused with the culture of the gun. Stops include an Indian massacre at Bad Axe, the siege of Vicksburg, the slaughter of buffalo in Montana, and the discovery of gold in a remote Nevada canyon. Reviewed by Rebecca Munro.
Our Latest Poll: Giving Books During the Holidays
What types of books do you typically give over the holidays? Please check as many as apply.

Children’s/teen books
Holiday-themed books
Gift books
Coffee table books
None of the above
I do not give books over the holidays.

Click here to answer the poll.
Word of Mouth Contest: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can 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 14th to December 5th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of BETRAYED: A Rosato & DiNunzio Novel by Lisa Scottoline, THE CINDERELLA MURDER by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke, and DON’T GIVE UP, DON’T GIVE IN: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin.

To make sure other readers will be able to find the books you write about, please include the full title and correct author names (your entry must include these to be eligible to win). For complete rules and guidelines, click here.

Please note: You must enter your full address, using correct capitalization and filling in all fields if you would like to be eligible to win this prize.

Also, we realize that many times, your opinion of a book will change as you get further along into the story. Thus, to ensure that your comments and ratings accurately reflect your entire reading experience, your review WILL NOT be posted if you have not finished the book.

One important technical note: If you're using an iPad or another iOS device to access the Word of Mouth page and you would like to enter the contest, you must wait for the page to fully load before you can rate your book. Only then will the stars be clickable.

-To see reader comments from previous contest periods, click here.
Click here to enter the contest.

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