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January 22, 2016 Newsletter January 22, 2016
Four-Letter Words: Snow…Book…
I had planned to head to Denver tomorrow, and then the forecast for snow --- aka Winter Storm Jonas --- got in the way. I accelerated my flight departure, and by the time you read this, I will be in the Mile High City. Just know I am blaming Mercury retrograde for this travel change; I just need to crawl my way to Tuesday when the red planet straightens itself out.

I am thoroughly looking forward to the four-day Winter Institute presented by the American Booksellers Association, where 100(!)-plus authors will be on hand along with booksellers from across the country and publishers to share their upcoming work. The schedule is packed with non-stop events and programs, thus I am happy that my earlier-than-anticipated arrival means that I can join my old friend, Bob Knous, for dinner Friday night. He is Greg’s godfather, and we never get to spend enough time catching up. Sunday is the Broncos/Patriots game, so the excitement in town will be ramped up to a big high. For more about the rivalry between Manning and Brady, you’ll want to read BRADY VS. MANNING, which we reviewed in December!

As the Broncos are my second favorite team after the Giants, I am trying to figure out how I can watch the game. Years ago, my dad and his friends would march in a parade with men from our church, and each dad would be wearing an earpiece. No, they were not with the Secret Service; rather, they were tuned in to the Giants game via their transistor radios!

I love when books spark memories. That is what happened when I read THE CHARM BRACELET by Viola Shipman (in stores on March 22nd). When I was growing up, I had a silver charm bracelet; for each big milestone and special moment in my life, my mom and dad added a charm. I remember ice skates and a birthday cake being among them. About 10 or so years ago, the bracelet vanished. I am not sure where I lost it, but losing it made me so sad as I felt a record of those memories slipping away.

In the book, through an heirloom charm bracelet, three women --- Lolly; her daughter, Arden; and her granddaughter, Lauren --- rediscover the importance of family and a passion for living as each charm on Lolly’s bracelet tells a story. Aside here: If I had a daughter, she would have been named Arden. By the way, Viola Shipman is a pen name for Wade Rouse, whose memoirs I --- and, I am sure, many of you --- have enjoyed. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name to honor the woman whose charm bracelet and family stories inspired him to write his debut novel. You can read more about it at

Now let’s shift our attention to this week’s robust update.

Bill Bryson is back with THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING: Adventures of an American in Britain, a sequel to his classic travel book, NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND. In 1995, Bryson charmed the world when he took a weeks-long motoring trip through England before moving his family back to America. He now returns to his beloved Britain to rediscover the country and offer a new look at its eccentricities and national identity, all while writing with his trademark wit and keen eye for detail.

Amie Taylor has our review and says, “Whether describing his travels in a well-known city like London or a smaller, lesser known locale like Chawton, you can be sure that Bryson's impressions will be witty, wonderful and wise. After reading THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING, I, too, am ready to pack my bags and explore Britain from end to end.”

We’re awarding the audio version of THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING, read by Nathan Osgood, to the winners of our Sounding Off on Audio contest, along with THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places, from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley, written and read by Eric Weiner. Let us know by Monday, February 1st at noon ET what audiobooks you’ve finished listening to for your chance to win both titles.

From Gregg Hurwitz comes ORPHAN X, the first book in a new series featuring skilled assassin Evan Smoak. Known in various circles as the Nowhere Man, Evan is a man with the resources, skills and determination required to help those desperate and deserving enough to reach him. Long before he was the Nowhere Man, Evan was pulled from a foster home to be raised in the Orphan Program, a covert operation designed to create perfect assassins. He was known as Orphan X until he broke away from the program, using his training to help him disappear and leave his past behind. But now someone has discovered Evan’s true identity, and he must put all of his skills to the test or risk being eliminated.

According to reviewer Joe Hartlaub, “Surprises and suspense abound throughout, while the plot is peppered with major and minor characters who stick in the memory whether present from first page to last or only for a few paragraphs.” I will have much more about ORPHAN X in next week’s newsletter, as it will be a Bets On selection.

Our newest Women's Fiction Author Spotlight celebrates the release of THE THINGS WE KEEP by Sally Hepworth. This sharp, emotional novel introduces readers to Anna Forster, a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at only 38 years old. In an effort to maintain some independence, Anna voluntarily checks herself into Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. It is there where she meets Luke, another young person with early-onset Alzheimer’s. As the two struggle to preserve their memories and identities, they find themselves falling in love with one another, a surprising silver lining to their diseases. But when a tragic accident compels Anna and Luke’s families to separate them, Rosalind House’s newest employee, Eve, takes it upon herself to help them stay in love, even as all odds are against them --- and Eve. We are giving away 25 copies of THE THINGS WE KEEP to those who would like to read the book and share their comments on it. Enter by Thursday, February 4th at noon ET.

Rebecca Munro has our review and says, "Though certainly a tearjerker, THE THINGS WE KEEP is also deeply hopeful and uplifting, a perfect balance for any reader. With plotlines that could be taken from today’s headlines, it offers hope for both the patient and the caregiver, combining sensitive handling of impossible decisions with realistic descriptions of the fear and anger one feels when losing their independence." Rebecca also had the pleasure of interviewing Sally; you can read their conversation here. This, too, will be a Bets On pick next week.

Our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight of Katarina Bivald and her debut novel, THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND, continues this week. Sara has just traveled all the way from Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet her pen pal and fellow booklover, Amy. Upon her arrival, however, the residents of Broken Wheel are just leaving Amy’s funeral. Luckily for Sara, they’re happy to look after her for a bit, although no one expects her to stick around the small town for long. Needless to say, it’s quite the surprise when she decides to put down roots and open a bookstore --- which may be just the thing Broken Wheel needs.

We’re giving 100(!) readers a chance to win a copy of the book and give us their feedback on it. Please be sure to enter by Thursday, January 28th at noon ET. Melanie Reynolds has our review and raves: “You will adore Sara and be charmed by her impact on Broken Wheel --- and Broken Wheel’s effect on her. Don’t miss this delightful tale of discovery and transformation of a group of people and a town that are so much more than they first appear.” We also have an interview with Katarina, which you can read here.

Also continuing this week is our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight of STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD, Susan Meissner’s glamorous new book. Set in both 1938 and present-day Los Angeles, it tells the story of two friends, Violet Mayfield and Audrey Duvall. While Violet is hoping to reinvent herself after her dreams of a family fall apart, Audrey’s once-rising fame has dwindled, forcing her to take a job as a secretary. As the two enjoy adventures among Hollywood’s elite, they find a world far from anything they’ve ever experienced. But when their deepest desires collide, they must decide what they are willing to risk to ensure their own happy endings.

Would you like to be one of 25 readers who will win a copy of STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD and submit their comments on it? If so, then enter our contest by Thursday, January 28th at noon ET. Reviewer Susan Miura calls it “a pleasant read that will be enjoyed particularly by aficionados of old movies. The plot plays out at a slow and steady pace, always moving forward as the main characters maneuver the hills and valleys of life, love and friendship.” Click here to read more about Susan and her latest effort in our interview.

There’s still time to enter our contest featuring two thrilling books by Linwood Barclay. Last year, Linwood left readers in awe with the publication of BROKEN PROMISE, the first installment of his Promise Falls trilogy, which will be available in paperback on March 1st. We’re celebrating the March 8th release of the second installment, FAR FROM TRUE, by giving away 23 (the mysterious number that keeps reappearing in the series) copies of both books. Please note that we are looking for readers who can commit to reading BROKEN PROMISE and FAR FROM TRUE and submitting their feedback by March 4th. Click here to read more about the series and enter the contest by Thursday, January 28th at noon ET.

Our 11th Annual Valentine’s Day contest is up and running! We’re giving five readers the opportunity to win six love-themed books, along with some delicious Ghirardelli chocolates. All you have to do is enter by Tuesday, February 16th at noon ET for your chance to win this irresistible prize package.

Our Winter Reading contests kicked off this week. Our first three prize books were the paperback editions of INSIDE THE O'BRIENS by Lisa Genova and UNBECOMING by Rebecca Scherm, along with AN UNDISTURBED PEACE by Mary Glickman. Next week, we’ll be giving away the aforementioned ORPHAN X, in addition to ANGELS BURNING by Tawni O’Dell and SEIZED: The Profiler, Book 3 by Elizabeth Heiter. Keep an eye out for the first contest of the week on Monday, January 25th at noon ET.

Speaking of UNBECOMING, Rich Fahle, the executive producer of “Book View Now” on, talked to Rebecca Scherm about her debut novel at last year’s Midwest Literary Walk in Chelsea, MI. Please take a look and a listen to their interview here.

Congratulations to Melissa from Homer, MI, who is the Grand Prize Winner in our End-of-the-Year Contest! She will be the proud owner of all 33 of my Bets On selections from 2015. Eleven other winners will receive a selection of three of these titles; click here to see if you are one of them!

We’ve updated our History Books Roundup for January. Here you will find personal histories (A FIFTY-YEAR SILENCE, THEIR PROMISED LAND), titles focusing on the fight for civil rights (DEATH OF A KING, THE DEFENDER) and much more.

With the new year just beginning, readers and film fanatics alike have tons to look forward to on the big screen, so we’ve built a bookshelf displaying book-to-screen adaptations coming out between now and August that we think you’ll enjoy. From action films like 13 Hours to total tearjerkers like Me Before You, and even retellings of popular classics like THE LITTLE PRINCE, there’s an adaptation for everyone. Pass the popcorn!

Is there an independent bookstore near your home? Let us know by taking our latest poll here. In our previous poll, we asked which paid subscription services you use. The three most popular choices are Basic cable (68%), Netflix (57%) and Amazon Prime (54%). Starz received 26% of the votes (here’s looking at you, “Outlander”!) Click here for the full results.

We have a review of Bernard Cornwell’s WARRIORS OF THE STORM this week, which reminded me of a note that I received from Patricia, who lives in Calgary: “My husband and I have just finished watching 'The Last Kingdom,' based on the first of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon books. Absolutely fabulous! If you haven't watched it yet, then I strongly suggest that you do.” I am not seeing it on Netflix now, but it sounds worth hunting down if you like Cornwell’s work.

We have a new Word of Mouth contest to tell you about. Let us know by Friday, February 5th at noon ET what books you’ve finished reading, and you’ll be in the running to win BREAKDOWN: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman and THE EX by Alafair Burke.

This week, the National Book Critics Circle announced its 30 finalists in six categories --- autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry --- for the outstanding books of 2015. The awards will be presented on March 17th; click here to see all the nominees.

News and Pop Culture:

Reader Mail: Got this from Suzanne about last week’s newsletter, which I shared with the team: “A very quick note, because I so enjoyed this newsletter. So much to say, so many books, such a great job, and I praise all who had a hand in it. A good start to 2016.”

From Maleen: “You made me laugh with your amaryllis plants. I planted my bulbs (after a brief email with you) a few days after you did. Spent $100 on bulbs and pots --- to give to friends. They were just beginning to poke at Christmastime. Mine just bloomed this week, too. Somehow I am not as excited to see them in mid-January when I am looking forward to leaving for a few weeks for reading in FL. I think next year I may buy plants that are 10" tall on 12/15!!!”

From Dottie: “So many books, so little time --- even reading and listening to books is never enough time for me as my list already exceeds the limit of my years remaining by oodles. Please keep up the good work. I love your newsletter and reading about and adding great books to my list of books I’ll hopefully live long enough to read.”

From Raylene: “I have never listened to an audiobook (the confession), nor did I plan to, but…I'm a retired English teacher (33 years) and a bit old-fashioned in thinking that a book should be read. However, some former students who didn't read much might have listened instead, especially those with learning difficulties…. I am cleaning my own house (and basement) this year, and realizing that I could listen as I clean. That would make the dreary chore more interesting! Now if I could win an audiobook!”

Cool Product Tip!!: What do you use to clean your iPad, Kindle, Nook, cell phone and computer screen? For years I used...Windex! NOOOOOO...this is BAAAAD. I then moved on to lens cleaners. Then I learned about iKlear from Jesse Kornbluth, the co-founder of He shared that iKlear is the only cleaning product used at the Genius Bar and in the Apple repair shop for iPhones, iPads and iMacs. It’s an ammonia- and alcohol-free cleaner. Works on eyeglasses as well! Here are options on what to buy: Cleaning Kit: It comes with the spray fluid, cleaning cloths, travel-sized cleaning cloths and a dozen Travel Singles. iKlear also sells an eight-ounce bottle of cleaning fluid, which you can get here. If you’re traveling, the Travel wipes need to be on hand. Trust me…you will see clearly now!

Best Acceptance Speech at the Critics’ Choice Awards: Jacob Tremblay taking the Best Child Actor Award for his role in Room. Watch this, and you will see why the entire TBRN team loves him.

Video Delight #1: Bowie Playing Simon and Garfunkel’s "America" at The Concert for New York City, October 20, 2001, which you can watch here.

Video Delight #2: Adele singing car karaoke with “The Late Late Show” host James Corden. Watch here.

Why Those in Hollywood Movies Look So Good: Retouching to insane levels.

Cory turns 21 tomorrow, and I felt very guilty about being away for his milestone birthday; I only missed one other birthday two years ago for the same conference. He has been noting for years now that he would turn 21 on a Saturday, which he thought was very cool. In order to assuage my guilt, he said, "Mom, I am turning 21 on a Saturday; trust me, I will have a plan for that." We celebrated Monday night with margaritas and a chocolate marble cake before he headed back to school. He also wants snow for his birthday, and he just may get that! He also made Tom and me feel like college kids last weekend. He got home from the airport at 1am, and we proceeded to stay up talking to him about his trip until 3am!

Greg has a Bonspiel this weekend at the curling club that he belongs to. He fell in love with curling during the Olympics and joined a club last year, which he has been enjoying. I asked if the snow would get in the way of these plans and then realized that those who play games on ice will not be stopped by snow. Greg turns 26 on Thursday, thus coming close to catching up with me at my age of 27! More chocolate cake and celebrating in my future next week.

I am off to cram for author conversations. Looking forward to sharing lots of great books from this conference in the weeks and months ahead! Last weekend, as I watched the four playoff games, I made an observation about the endless color commentary. I absorb so little of these endless factoids that I clearly would flunk the NFL version of the SATs. “More,” “most” and “record-setting” were said over and over. I think I find it MUCH easier to talk books and authors.

On Saturday night, they are having a book swap, where we are to bring a book older than five years old that we loved and think was under the radar and is still in print. I am surprised, though I probably should not be, that some of my faves are out of print! I am bringing THE DAY THE WORLD CAME TO TOWN, which is one of MY favorite books.

Read on, and have a great week.

Carol Fitzgerald (

P.S. For those of you who are doing online shopping, if you use the store links below, gets a small affiliate fee on your purchases. We would appreciate your considering this!
Now in Stores: THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING by Bill Bryson
THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson (Travel/Memoir)
Audiobook available, narrated by Nathan Osgood
In 1995, Bill Bryson got into his car and took a weeks-long farewell motoring trip about England before moving his family back to the United States. The book about that trip, NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, is uproarious and endlessly endearing. Two decades later, he set out again to rediscover that country, and the result is THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING. Nothing is funnier than Bill Bryson on the road, so prepare for the total joy and multiple episodes of unseemly laughter. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: ORPHAN X by Gregg Hurwitz
ORPHAN X by Gregg Hurwitz (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Scott Brick
Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He's also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as part of the off-the-books black box Orphan program, designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence assets --- i.e. assassins. He was Orphan X. Evan broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear. Now, however, someone is on his tail and determined to eliminate him. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
Click here to read a review. Talks to Sally Hepworth, Author of THE THINGS WE KEEP --- Our Newest Women's Fiction Author Spotlight Title & Contest
Sally Hepworth is a former event planner and HR professional, as well as a world-traveler and the bestselling author of THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES. She’s following up that success with THE THINGS WE KEEP, the story of Anna Forster, a 38-year-old woman in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease who checks herself into an assisted living facility, where she meets and connects deeply with another patient. In this interview with’s Rebecca Munro, Hepworth discusses why she was moved to write about a protagonist suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s (and why it was crucial to tell Anna’s story in the first person), and why she believes deeply in the ability of love to trump disease.

THE THINGS WE KEEP by Sally Hepworth (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Barrie Kreinik and Therese Plummer
Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only 38 years old, resides in Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. There, she meets fellow resident Luke, and a relationship develops between the two. When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother, she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind House. When she meets Anna and Luke, she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them. Reviewed by Rebecca Munro.

We have 25 copies of THE THINGS WE KEEP to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which is now in stores, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, February 4th at noon ET.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read Sally Hepworth’s bio.
-Click here to visit Sally Hepworth’s official website.
-Connect with Sally Hepworth on Facebook and Twitter.
-Click here to read more in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight and enter the contest.
Click here to read our interview. Talks to Katarina Bivald, Author of THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND --- A Women's Fiction Author Spotlight Title & Contest
Swedish author Katarina Bivald grew up working part-time at a bookshop, so it’s no surprise that her heralded debut novel, THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND, is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us and connect us. What is surprising, though, is that it’s set in Broken Wheel, a small Iowa town, considering she never even had been to the United States. In this interview with’s Melanie Reynolds, Bivald reveals why she finds small American towns so charming and how Broken Wheel came alive so vividly in her imagination. Although she can’t quite decide what her favorite books are, she knows precisely what she likes to read about and shares some details about crafting all those elements into her own work.

Audiobook available, narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Lorelei King
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy's funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor --- not much else to do in a small town that's almost beyond repair. They just never imagined that she'd start a bookstore. Or that books could bring them together --- and change everything. Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds.

We have 100 copies of THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which is now in stores, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, January 28th at noon ET.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Katarina Bivald’s bio.
-Visit Katarina Bivald’s official website, blog and Instagram.
-Click here to connect with Katarina Bivald on Twitter.
-Click here to enter the “Readers, Recommend Your Bookstore!” sweepstakes on the publisher’s website.
-Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight and enter the contest.
Click here to read our interview. Talks to Susan Meissner, Author of STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD --- A Women's Fiction Author Spotlight Title & Contest
Susan Meissner is the acclaimed author of multiple bestselling novels, as well as a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her latest book, STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD, is set in both the present and the past, and tells the story of two women who meet on the set of Gone with the Wind, whose friendship is tested by the glamour and deception of 1930s Hollywood. In this interview, Meissner talks to’s Susan Miura about the incredible research that went into making STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD historically accurate, the role that her faith plays in her storytelling, and why she thinks friendship is the most interesting relationship to write about --- especially because there's a bit of Scarlett O'Hara inside us all.

STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD by Susan Meissner (Fiction)
Los Angeles, Present Day. When a hat worn by Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister's vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie. Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield goes to Hollywood after her dream of having a family falls apart. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star. Their adventures together among Hollywood's glitterati enthrall Violet...until each woman's deepest desires collide. Reviewed by Susan Miura.

We have 25 copies of STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which is now in stores, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, January 28th at noon ET.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read Susan Meissner’s bio.
-Click here to visit Susan Meissner’s official website.
-Connect with Susan Meissner on Facebook and Twitter.
-Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight and enter the contest.
Click here to read our interview.
Women's Fiction Author Spotlight & Contest: MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout
We have 25 copies of MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which is now in stores, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, January 28th at noon ET.

MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Kimberly Farr
A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including OLIVE KITTERIDGE and THE BURGESS BOYS, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all --- the one between mother and daughter.

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human and truly unforgettable.

-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read our interview with Elizabeth Strout.
-Click here to read Elizabeth Strout’s bio.
-Click here to visit Elizabeth Strout’s official website.
-Connect with Elizabeth Strout on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight and enter the contest.
Announcing's 11th Annual Valentine's Day Contest: Enter to Win Books and Sweet Treats for Yourself or Your Valentine!
Valentine's Day is only a few heartbeats away. We can't think of a better way to celebrate this special day than to cuddle up with your loved one...and a good book, of course! We're giving readers the chance to win one of our five Valentine's Day prize packages, which includes one copy of each of our featured books and some delicious Ghirardelli chocolate. Enter between now and Tuesday, February 16th at noon ET for your opportunity to be a lucky (and beloved!) winner.

If you're feeling frisky, share with us your all-time book character crush. Don't be shy, we all got 'em! We'll post the top 10 literary loves and lusts --- along with the five winners --- right after Valentine's Day, so please be on the lookout!

This year's featured titles are:

Click here to enter the contest and see our featured titles.'s Second Annual Winter Reading Contests and Feature
At, we are kicking off 2016 with our second annual Winter Reading Contests and Feature. On select days between now and mid-February, we will be hosting a series of 24-hour contests spotlighting a book releasing this winter and giving five lucky readers a chance to win it. We also will be sending a special newsletter to announce the day's title, which you can sign up for here.

Our next prize book will be announced on Monday, January 25th at noon ET.

This year's featured titles include:

Click here to read all the contest details and see our featured books.
Historical Fiction Author Spotlight: THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin
THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin (Historical Fiction)
Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends --- the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a high-profile husband and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman --- a woman desperately longing for true love and connection.

Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan’s elite, along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe’s powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls “True Heart,” Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller --- even when the stories aren’t his to tell.

Truman’s fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he’ll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years.

THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE releases on January 26th.

-Click here to read Melanie Benjamin’s bio.
-Visit Melanie Benjamin’s official website and Instagram.
-Connect with Melanie Benjamin on Facebook and Twitter.
-Click here to see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.

Click here to read more in our Historical Fiction Author Spotlight.
Women's Fiction Author Spotlight: PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard
PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard (Historical Fiction)
It's the Roaring Twenties, and 17-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream --- to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.

In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want --- a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends --- except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition --- to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth --- that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it.

PLATINUM DOLL releases on January 26th.

-Click here to read Anne Girard’s bio.
-Click here to visit Anne Girard’s official website.
-Connect with Anne Girard on Facebook and Twitter.
-Click here to see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.

Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight.
January’s History Books Roundup
January's roundup of History titles includes THE LOST TUDOR PRINCESS by Alison Weir, the first biography of Margaret Douglas, the beautiful, cunning niece of Henry VIII of England who used her sharp intelligence and covert power to influence the succession after the death of Elizabeth I; THE DEFENDER by Ethan Michaeli, a revelatory narrative of race in America that brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemen’s clubs to do their jobs; THEIR PROMISED LAND, Ian Buruma’s account of his grandparents’ enduring love through the terror and separation of two world wars; and James P. Duffy's WAR AT THE END OF THE WORLD, a harrowing account of an epic, yet nearly forgotten, battle of World War II --- General Douglas MacArthur's four-year assault on the Pacific War's most hostile battleground: the mountainous, jungle-cloaked island of New Guinea.
Click here to see our History Books roundup for January.
More Reviews This Week
WARRIORS OF THE STORM by Bernard Cornwell (Historical Fiction/Adventure)
Audiobook available, narrated by Matt Bates
A fragile peace reigns in Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia. King Alfred’s son, Edward, and formidable daughter, Aethelflaed, rule the kingdoms. But all around the restless Northmen, eyeing the rich lands and wealthy churches, are mounting raids. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the kingdoms’ greatest warrior, controls northern Mercia from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But forces are gathering against him. Northmen allied to the Irish, led by the fierce warrior Ragnall Ivarson, are soon joined by the Northumbrians, and their strength could prove overwhelming. Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds.

THE EXPATRIATES by Janice Y.K. Lee (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Ann Marie Lee
Mercy, a young Korean American and recent Columbia graduate, is adrift, undone by a terrible incident in her recent past. Hilary, a wealthy housewife, is haunted by her struggle to have a child, something she believes could save her foundering marriage. Meanwhile, Margaret, once a happily married mother of three, questions her maternal identity in the wake of a shattering loss. As each woman struggles with her own demons, their lives collide in ways that have irreversible consequences for them all. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

THE MAN WITHOUT A SHADOW by Joyce Carol Oates (Psychological Suspense)
Audiobook available, narrated by Susan Hanfield
In 1965, neuroscientist Margot Sharpe meets Elihu Hoopes --- the “man without a shadow” --- whose devastated memory, unable to store new experiences or to retrieve the old, will make him the most famous and studied amnesiac in history. Over the course of the next 30 years, Margot herself becomes famous for her experiments with E. H. --- and inadvertently falls in love with him, despite the ethical ambiguity of their affair. Though he remains forever elusive and mysterious to her, she is haunted by mysteries of the past. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

ALIVE, ALIVE OH!: And Other Things That Matter by Diana Athill (Memoir)
Diana Athill charmed readers with her prize-winning memoir, SOMEWHERE TOWARDS THE END, which transformed her into an unexpected literary star. Now, on the eve of her 98th birthday, Athill has written a sequel every bit as unsentimental, candid and beguiling as her most beloved work. Writing from her cozy room in Highgate, London, Athill begins to reflect on the things that matter after a lifetime of remarkable experiences, and the memories that have risen to the surface and sustain her in her very old age. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

NFL CONFIDENTIAL: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football by Johnny Anonymous (Sports/Memoir)
Audiobook available, narrated by Jeffrey Kafer
In NFL CONFIDENTIAL, a current pro player takes fans on a pseudonymous trip through one of the most infamous years of football --- the very long, sometimes funny, often controversial 2013-2014 season --- sharing raucous, behind-the-scenes, on-the-field and in-the-locker-room truth about life in the National Football League. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

THE DRIFTER by Nicholas Petrie (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Stephen Mendel
Peter Ash came home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with only one souvenir: the buzzing claustrophobia due to post-traumatic stress that has driven him to spend a year roaming in nature. But when a friend from the Marines commits suicide, Ash returns to civilization to help the man’s widow with some home repairs. Under her dilapidated porch, he finds a Samsonite suitcase stuffed with cash and explosives. As Ash begins to investigate this unexpected discovery, he finds himself at the center of a plot that is far larger than he could have imagined. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE FAMILY TREE: A Lynching in Georgia, a Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth by Karen Branan (History)
Audiobook available, narrated by Pam Ward
Harris County, Georgia, 1912. A white man, the beloved nephew of the county sheriff, is shot dead on the porch of a black woman. Days later, the sheriff sanctions the lynching of a black woman and three black men, all of them innocent. In trying to figure out what led to this unthinkable crime, Karen Branan --- the great-granddaughter of that sheriff --- was forced to confront her own deep-rooted beliefs surrounding race and family, a process that came to a head when she learned a shocking truth: she is related not only to the sheriff, but also to one of the four who were murdered. Reviewed by Maya Gittelman.

ORCHARD GROVE by Vincent Zandri (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Hillary Huber and Keith Szarabajka
Orchard Grove is a town like any other, with quiet neighborhoods and apple groves…though Ethan, the depressed screenplay writer, and his secretive wife, Susan, would tell you differently. So would the seductive serial killer living next door. The apple trees are fertilized with evil, and the backyard fences aren’t enough to stop the manipulative mind games and dangerous lies. The lines between good and evil are blurred, and then erased, as Ethan does what it takes to survive. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

WHAT SHE LEFT by T.R. Richmond (Psychological Thriller)
On a snowy February morning, the body of 25-year-old journalist Alice Salmon washes up on a riverbank south of London. Professor Jeremy Cooke, who taught Alice, embarks on a final project --- a book documenting Alice’s life through the digital and paper trails that survive her. Bit by bit, the real Alice --- a complicated and vulnerable young woman --- springs fully formed from the pages of his book…along with a labyrinth of misunderstandings, lies and secrets that cast suspicion on everyone in her circle --- including Jeremy himself. Reviewed by Lorraine W. Shanley.
Next Week's Notables: Noteworthy Books Releasing on January 25th and 26th
Below are some notable titles releasing on January 25th and 26th that we would like to make you aware of. We will have more on many of these books in the weeks to come. For a list of additional hardcovers and paperbacks releasing the week of January 25th, see our “On Sale This Week” newsletter here.

January 25th

THE ILLEGAL by Lawrence Hill (Fiction)
Internationally bestselling author Lawrence Hill’s latest novel is the gripping story of Keita Ali, a refugee --- like the many in today’s headlines --- compelled to leave his homeland.

NYPD RED 4 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp (Thriller)
NYPD Red chases a ruthless murderer with an uncontrollable lust for money --- and blood.

January 26th

THE BANDS OF MOURNING: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy)
With THE ALLOY OF LAW and SHADOWS OF SELF, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America. Now, with THE BAND OF MOURNING, Sanderson continues the story.

COCONUT COWBOY by Tim Dorsey (Mystery)
Channeling his inner Easy Rider, Serge Storms saddles up for his most epic, lethal and hilarious road trip ever as he revvs off to find the lost American Dream…starting in the Florida Panhandle.

THE EX by Alafair Burke (Thriller)
A woman agrees to help an old boyfriend who has been framed for murder, but begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated.

THE PLAGUE OF THIEVES AFFAIR: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini (Historical Mystery)
Sabina Carpenter and John Quinncannon have solved dozens of mysteries, but one has eluded even them: Sherlock Holmes or, rather, the madman claiming his identity, who keeps showing up with a frustrating knack for solving difficult cases.

THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin (Historical Fiction)
The bestselling author of THE AVIATOR’S WIFE returns with a novel about New York’s “Swans” of the 1950s --- and the scandalous, headline-making and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley.

WHERE IT HURTS by Reed Farrel Coleman (Hard-boiled Mystery)
From critically acclaimed and award-winning author Reed Farrel Coleman comes a gritty, atmospheric new series about the other side of Long Island, far from the wealth of the Hamptons, where real people live --- and die.

WHERE MY HEART USED TO BEAT by Sebastian Faulks (Psychological Suspense)
This sweeping drama about the madness of war and the power of love marks acclaimed novelist Sebastian Faulks' return, after 20 years, to the fictional territory of his #1 international bestseller BIRDSONG.
Our Latest Poll and Word of Mouth/Sounding Off on Audio Contests


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Word of Mouth:

Tell us about the books you’ve finished reading with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars. During the contest period from January 22nd to February 5th at noon ET, three lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of BREAKDOWN: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman and THE EX by Alafair Burke.

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Sounding Off on Audio:

Tell us about the audiobooks you’ve finished listening to with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars for both the performance and the content. During the contest period from January 4th to February 1st at noon ET, three lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win the audio versions of both THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places, from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley, written and read by Eric Weiner, and Bill Bryson's THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING: Adventures of an American in Britain, read by Nathan Osgood.

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