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December 9, 2016 Newsletter December 9, 2016
And the Years Are Rolling By Me...
It was a fun week as I turned 27...yet again! Amazing how that happens. The staff surprised me with a celebration with some of my favorite snacks and flowers, which you can see to the right. Rebecca “arm-knitted” me a scarf; she is going to teach me how to do it next week! It's amusing how well they know me. I joked at how very predictable I seem to be since they clearly hit it dead on for every angle for this party.

My husband and I both love to cook; we rarely go out to dinner as we typically say when we are out, “We could do this.” (We did hit a fabulous restaurant, Ninety Acres, for my birthday dinner as they have an inventive menu.) Last weekend, we cooked two dinners from Ina Garten’s COOKING FOR JEFFREY cookbook. First was the Filet with mustard and mushrooms that you see above, and then the following night we made the Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken. I do not like dark meat or chicken on the bone, so we did it with chicken breasts, changing the prescribed cooking time from 30 minutes and 15 minutes to 25 minutes and 10 minutes. Just fabulous!

The rest of the week has been crazy busy. Typically December is quiet at the office, but not this year. There are many terrific projects in the air, including booking some fun speaking events for 2017. I prefer when things are busy than when it’s quiet, and my wish has been granted. The wreath is hung on the front porch, but no other decorating has been done.

On Thursday, I went to a luncheon for Melodie Winawer, the author of the upcoming book, THE SCRIBE OF SIENA, which will be in stores on May 16th. The book is being described as GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING meets OUTLANDER. Here’s the publisher’s description: “Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined --- a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.” Melodie was such fun to talk to; it felt like I was talking to a very interesting friend. She is an accomplished neuroscientist, but also is an intrepid chef who loves making meals inspired by menus from the past and has created entrées inspired by cuisine from the Middle Ages. She talked about the wonderful taste of homemade almond milk. I love this from her bio: “She is fluent in Spanish and French, literate in Latin and has a passable knowledge of Italian.” I have started the book, and it’s a brisk, smart read.

I am behind on posting the books that I have read in 2016 (and read ahead to 2017); I promise to catch up on that in the next week or so.

As promised this week, we’re featuring my final two Bets On selections of the year: THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS by Karan Mahajan and VICTORIA by Daisy Goodwin. Click on each of the titles for my Bets On commentary.

And drum roll please... These are just two of the books you can win in our Sixth Annual Bets On Contest, featuring all 40(!) of my Bets On picks from this year. One very lucky grand prize winner will be awarded all 40 titles, while eight other winners will receive a selection of five of these titles. Among the other books you can win are EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN by Chris Cleave, THE GIRLS by Emma Cline, THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian, and SMALL GREAT THINGS by Jodi Picoult. To enter, please fill out this form by Monday, January 9th at noon ET. By the way, I never go into the year with a goal of reading X number of Bets On titles. This year it just happened to be 40; last year it was 33.

Important Note: We will be changing the company that sends this newsletter after the first of the year. As I mentioned last week, the company that we've been working with for the past 15 years, Patron Mail, will be shutting down their newsletter product on December 31st. To ensure that you get the newsletter in your mailbox and not in your SPAM after January 1st, please add to your address list! We will remind you about this a few more times, but do it now so you do not miss a newsletter!

Now to this week’s update...

Journalist and political commentator Megyn Kelly encourages readers to SETTLE FOR MORE in her deeply personal and surprising new book. The anchor of "The Kelly File" reflects on the enduring values and experiences that have shaped her --- from growing up in a competitive family to her father’s sudden, tragic death while she was in high school. She goes behind the scenes of her career, sharing the stories and struggles that landed her in the highly coveted anchor chair. She also sheds light on the news business, her time at Fox News, the challenges of being a professional woman and working mother, and her most talked-about television moments.

According to reviewer Allison Sharp, "SETTLE FOR MORE resonates with a certain definition of womanhood. Kelly is as tough as she is gracious in her prose and manages to authentically report her own story."

THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK) by New York contributor Chris Smith is a complete, uncensored oral history of the long-running Comedy Central program. For almost 17 years, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" redefined the borders between television comedy, political satire and opinionated news coverage. Here, the show's behind-the-scenes gags, controversies and chemistry are chronicled by the players themselves, from legendary host Jon Stewart to the star cast members and writers --- including Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell and Lewis Black --- plus some of the program's most prominent guests and adversaries: John and Cindy McCain, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson and many more.

Reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott has our review and says, “In this collective memoir, Chris Smith presents the life story of a satirical news program that started out funny, became funnier, and finally became not only newsworthy but an information source in itself.”

Other books we’re reviewing this week include three holiday-themed titles --- CHRISTMAS DAYS: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson, A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE by Anne Perry, and THE MISTLETOE MURDER: And Other Stories by P. D. James --- NIGHT WATCH, another Kendra Michaels thriller from the mother-son writing team of Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen; and TO CAPTURE WHAT WE CANNOT KEEP by Beatrice Colin, a work of historical fiction that delves into the unlikely relationship between a young Scottish widow and a French engineer who fall in love.

We’ve updated our New in Paperback feature for December. Some of this month’s highlights are SWEET TOMORROWS, the final book in Debbie Macomber’s Rose Harbor series; BEYOND THE ICE LIMIT, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's latest thriller starring Gideon Crew, who takes on his most dangerous and high-stakes assignment yet; and STORIES I TELL MYSELF, a memoir by Juan F. Thompson, who recounts his rocky relationship with his father, the famed journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson.

In this week’s Holiday Cheer contests, we gave away CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE by Ronie Kendig, LIKE FAMILY by Paolo Giordano, SPEAKING AMERICAN by Josh Katz, and TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Debbie Macomber. Next week’s prize books will be THE CHRISTMAS TOWN by Donna VanLiere, THE GERMAN GIRL by Armando Lucas Correa, THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG: A Memoir by Carole Bayer Sager, and all three titles in Linwood Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy (so you can binge them) --- BROKEN PROMISE, FAR FROM TRUE and THE TWENTY-THREE. The first contest of the week will be up on Monday, December 12th at noon ET.

You’ll also have a chance to win THE GERMAN GIRL, along with THE SEVENTH PLAGUE: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins, in our Word of Mouth contest. Submit your comments about the books you’ve finished reading, and you’ll be in the running to win both novels. Be sure to enter by Friday, December 16th at noon ET.

Our Sounding Off on Audio contest for December continues. If you’d like to win the audio versions of Alice Hoffman's FAITHFUL (read by Amber Tamblyn) and Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke's THE SLEEPING BEAUTY KILLER (read by Jan Maxwell), all you have to do is let us know by Tuesday, January 3rd at noon ET what audiobooks you’ve finished listening to, and you could be the proud listener of both titles.

Are you planning to give books as gifts this holiday season? Click here to let us know in our latest poll.

News & Pop Culture:

Reader Mail: Last Friday, Denise wrote, “I am reading your message (featuring Pearl Harbor books) sitting at Pearl Harbor.” Love this.

Season One of "Z," based on the book by Therese Fowler: This is headed to Amazon Prime on January 27th. Here's a trailer. If you haven’t seen the pilot, you can watch it now on Amazon Prime before the rest of the series starts next year.

Hidden Figures: I am so looking forward to this movie, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly. We just added the discussion guide on here. Here’s a video with an interview with the author, which also features John Glenn, who sadly passed away this week. And here’s the official movie trailer. By the way, when I saw the news about Glenn, I thought of the book THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB by Lily Koppel, which was adapted for television last year.

Bookstores are in the news this week: First up, Emma Straub, who is known for her novels, THE VACATIONERS and MODERN LOVERS, is planning to open a bookstore with her husband. Here’s a piece about it. Here are some pieces from the Travel section of the New York Times. This one is about destination bookstores to travel to. This one has seven writers talking about their favorite bookstores. This one has Ann Patchett’s Guide for Bookstore Lovers. Here are hotels for booklovers. And here are a bookworm’s travel plans.

According to my friend, Dini von Mueffling, who is handling the PR for this, 130 million people had viewed this video in the five days leading up to December 7th. It has a brilliant message. Please take a moment to watch it. Just wow!

Yarn Bombing Hits the High Street: Give this a look, especially if you do not know what yarn bombing is.

The Shack: 20 million copies of Wm. Paul Young's book have been sold since 2007. Here’s a trailer for the film that is scheduled to hit theaters in March.

A very touching video: It made me smile.

"This Is Us": Amazing show, which airs on Tuesday nights at 9pm ET. Every episode has been terrific. To me, this show is the closest thing to a novel on television...the way the story unfolds. Just great writing, and it makes me realize how much great writing matters.

This weekend, our entire neighborhood will be lit with luminaries. Tom and I are volunteering to help with handing out the bags, sand and candles tomorrow. It’s one of my favorite nights of the year. I want to get the candles in the windows as well. I'm hoping to coerce Cory into helping to decorate the tree. I am soooo behind on Christmas. My head is just not in it yet!

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!
Featured Review: SETTLE FOR MORE by Megyn Kelly
SETTLE FOR MORE by Megyn Kelly (Memoir)
Audiobook available, read by Megyn Kelly
In the two and half years since her show “The Kelly File” premiered on the Fox News Channel, Megyn Kelly has cemented her reputation as one of the most respected and hardest hitting journalists in America. Now in her debut book, Kelly goes behind the scenes of the stories and the storms that have made her one of the most talked-about public figures in America. From growing up in a tough love family where she had to earn her praise, to her father’s sudden, tragic death while she was still in high school, to the news stories that launched her journalism career, Kelly traces the values and experiences --- both good and bad --- that landed her in the anchor chair. Reviewed by Allison Sharp.

-Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read the review.
Featured Review: THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK) by Chris Smith
THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests by Chris Smith (Entertainment/History)
Audiobook available; read by Oliver Wyman, Jay Snyder, Kevin T. Collins, Chris Lutkin, Robert Fass, Lauren Fortgang, Ryan Vincent Anderson, Graham Halstead, Cheryl Smith, Christian Coulson, Tommy Harron and Elece Green
For almost 17 years, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” brilliantly redefined the borders between television comedy, political satire and opinionated news coverage. It launched the careers of some of today's most significant comedians, highlighted the hypocrisies of the powerful and garnered 23 Emmys. Now the show's behind-the-scenes gags, controversies and camaraderie have been chronicled by the players themselves in this oral history, which takes the reader behind the curtain for all the show's highlights --- from its origins as Comedy Central's underdog late-night program hosted by Craig Kilborn to Jon Stewart's long reign to Trevor Noah's succession. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

-Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read the review.
Special Contest: Enter to Win Our End-of-the-Year Celebration, Featuring All 40 "Bets On" Titles from 2016

We are thrilled to announce a very special contest featuring Carol Fitzgerald’s Bets On picks from 2016. One Grand Prize winner will be awarded all 40 books, while eight other winners will receive a selection of five of these titles. To enter, please fill out this form by Monday, January 9th at noon ET.

Here are this year's Bets On titles:

Click here to enter the contest.
Ring in the Holiday Season with New Releases from Jeanette Winterson, Anne Perry and P. D. James

CHRISTMAS DAYS: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson (Fiction/Short Stories)
Audiobook available, read by Jeanette Winterson and Imogen Church
For years Jeanette Winterson has loved writing a new story at Christmas time, and here she brings together 12 of them --- plus a personal story of her own Christmas memories. These tales give the reader a portal into the spirit of the season, where time slows down and magic starts to happen. From trees with mysterious powers to a tinsel baby that talks, philosophical fairies to flying dogs, a haunted house and a disappearing train, Winterson's innovative stories encompass the childlike and spooky wonder of Christmas. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE by Anne Perry (Historical Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by Jenny Sterlin
The year is 1900, and Victor Narraway is giving his wife, Vespasia, an unforgettable Christmas present --- a trip to Jerusalem. Vespasia is enchanted by the exotic landscape of Palestine, and charmed by a fellow traveler the Narraways meet at their hotel in Jaffa. But when the man is murdered over a torn piece of ancient parchment he was taking to Jerusalem, Victor and Vespasia risk their lives to finish his mission and deliver the puzzling document to its home. Pursued by a shadowy figure with evil intent, they embark on a dangerous yet ultimately enlightening pilgrimage to the holy city, where the mysterious message on the parchment may finally be revealed. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.

THE MISTLETOE MURDER: And Other Stories by P. D. James (Mystery/Short Stories)
Audiobook available, read by Jenny Agutter and Daniel Weyman
The newly appointed Sgt. Dalgliesh is drawn into a case that is "pure Agatha Christie." A "pedantic, respectable, censorious" clerk's secret taste for pornography is only the first reason he finds for not coming forward as a witness to a murder. A bestselling crime novelist describes the crime she herself was involved in 50 years earlier. Dalgliesh's godfather implores him to reinvestigate a notorious murder that might ease the godfather's mind about an inheritance, but will reveal a truth that even the supremely upstanding Adam Dalgliesh will keep to himself. Each of these previously uncollected stories by P. D. James is as playful as it is ingeniously plotted. Reviewed by Jane Krebs.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review. Bets On: THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS by Karan Mahajan
These days, fears of terrorism are always lurking in the shadows. THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS, a novel by Karan Mahajan, takes readers inside the world of terrorists and terrorism, giving a 360-degree view to the subject in a tightly woven story that unfolds brilliantly. As the book opens in 1996, two brothers, Tushar and Nakul Khurana, pick up their family’s television set at a repair shop in a Dehli marketplace. They have been accompanied by their friend, Mansoor Ahmed. Alas, a bomb has been planted in the marketplace. As it detonates, it claims the lives of the brothers, but spares Mansoor, who races from the scene leaving his friends behind.

But the incidents of that day have echoes far beyond that marketplace. Mansoor has sustained physical injuries and mental trauma, and while he tries to move ahead in life, he cannot. He is crippled in many ways by the events of that day. As his once-focused life now meanders, he meets a young man named Ayub, who becomes a fast friend. But in Ayub, we have an activist whose shadow dealings bring Mansoor once again into the grips of terrorism, in another way.

There are surprises and twists along the way with Mahajan leading readers to explore the many sides of terrorism, from both inside and outside. We always picture terrorists as arrogant and singularly driven, but here they are more dimensional. We see them in the days before and after the act. There is lots to think about here, including how the effects of many small bombs are just as powerful as those of more epic proportions.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt. Bets On: VICTORIA by Daisy Goodwin
VICTORIA by Daisy Goodwin (Historical Fiction)
When I hear that there is a new Daisy Goodwin book out, I am an eager reader. Her two previous novels, THE AMERICAN HEIRESS and THE FORTUNE HUNTER, were both Bets On selections. Her latest, VICTORIA, is a brilliantly juicy novel about Queen Victoria, who ascended to the throne at the young age of 18 and held that position for 64 years. I confess to little study of British Monarch history, I suppose in part due to the fact that Queen Elizabeth has reigned longer than I have lived. But by the time I had finished this book, I was sorting out the Edwards (VII and VIII) and Georges (V and VI) who reigned after Victoria and before Elizabeth.

VICTORIA captures the early days of her rule when she is finding her way in governing and leading. She led a very sheltered life before ascending the throne in 1837 upon the death of her uncle, William IV, spending her nights sleeping in the bedroom of her mother, the Duchess of Kent, in Kensington Palace. Her mother, who was German-born, has as her “companion” Sir John Conroy, a man who clearly wants to get the Queen in his clutches to pursue his own interests.

Victoria stands up to them both, sweeps her way into Buckingham Palace, and quickly relies upon Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, who she sees as a companion as well as an advisor. There is an age gap between them, and he rapidly deflects her advances, but clearly is charmed by her. History tells us who her ultimate suitor is, but if you, like me, have not done monarch research, you can watch the story unfold in VICTORIA.

Daisy was drawn to write about Victoria after discovering her diaries while she studied at Cambridge. A couple of years ago, when she was trying to decide what to do next after a year of personal strife (no job, house fire, breast cancer), she found herself thinking about those diaries. And from there she was off and writing.

Note that Netflix’s terrific series, “The Crown,” which looks at the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, is a perfect prelude to the upcoming “Victoria” miniseries, debuting on PBS in January 2017, which also was written by Daisy. As she is working on Season Two of the miniseries, we can assume that there will be another novel to follow as well. I’m looking forward to that!

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt. Talks to Matt Coyle, Author of DARK FISSURES
Matt Coyle revived the Raymond Chandler hardboiled PI model, set in today’s tony La Jolla suburb of San Diego. In DARK FISSURES, Rick Cahill tries to right wrongs by proving that singer Brianne Colton’s estranged husband didn’t commit suicide, but Rick violates a cardinal rule: romantic involvement with a client, and it appears that Brianne’s husband had contacted the FBI shortly before his death. Moreover, Police Chief Tony Moretti targets Rick as a murder suspect. All the while Rick faces mortgage foreclosure, in the most complex installment of this thrilling, award-winning series. In this interview, Coyle chats with’s Dean Murphy about the development of protagonist Rick, the many awards he has earned, and the specialists who have been instrumental in making the Cahill series an astounding success.

DARK FISSURES: A Rick Cahill Novel by Matt Coyle (Thriller)
La Jolla Chief of Police Tony Moretti is convinced that Private Investigator Rick Cahill killed a missing person. With Moretti on his tail and the bank about to foreclose on his house, Rick takes a paying case that will stave off the bank, but pits him against Moretti and the La Jolla Police Department. Brianne Colton, a beautiful country singer, believes that her estranged husband’s suicide was really murder. Each new piece of evidence convinces Rick that she’s right. He breaks his number one rule and falls for Brianne, even as he begins to question her motives. As Moretti cinches the vise tighter, evil forces emerge from the shadows who will do anything to stop Rick from uncovering the truth. Reviewed by Dean Murphy.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.

Click here to read the interview.'s Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature
At, we kick off the holiday season in style with our Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature. As our gift to you, on select days in November and December, we are spotlighting a book and giving five lucky readers the chance to win it. You have to visit the site each day to see the featured prize book and enter the 24-hour contest. As always, we are 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, December 12th at noon ET.

This year's featured titles are:

Click here to read all the contest details and see our featured titles.
December's New in Paperback Roundups
December’s roundup of New in Paperback fiction titles includes SWEET TOMORROWS, the conclusion to Debbie Macomber’s beloved Rose Harbor series, set in the picturesque town of Cedar Cove; BEYOND THE ICE LIMIT, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's latest thriller featuring Gideon Crew, who embarks on his most dangerous and high-stakes assignment yet...because failure will mean nothing short of the end of humankind on earth; and GONE AGAIN by James Grippando, in which Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck takes on his first death-row client since THE PARDON in a case as twisty as it is shocking.

Among this month’s nonfiction offerings are STORIES I TELL MYSELF, Juan F. Thompson's personal account of his father, Hunter S. Thompson, and of their getting to know each other during their 41 fraught years together; BROWSINGS by Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda, a collection of 50 of his witty and wide-ranging reflections on literary journalism, book collecting and the writers he loves; and THE LOVERS by Rod Nordland, the story of a young couple willing to risk everything for love that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about women’s rights in the Muslim world.

-Find out what's New in Paperback for the weeks of December 5th, December 12th, December 19th and December 26th.
More Reviews This Week
NIGHT WATCH by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Elisabeth Rogers
Born blind, Kendra Michaels spent the first 20 years of her life living in the darkness. Then, thanks to a revolutionary medical procedure developed by England’s Night Watch Project, she was given the gift of sight. Her highly developed senses (honed during her years in the dark), combined with her new found vision, have made her a remarkable investigator, sought after by law-enforcement agencies all over the country. But her newest case becomes deeply personal as she uncovers the truth about the shadowy organization that has given her so much. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

A WOMAN LOOKING AT MEN LOOKING AT WOMEN: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind by Siri Hustvedt (Social Sciences/Essays)
Siri Hustvedt has always been fascinated by biology and how human perception works. She is a lover of art, the humanities and the sciences. She is a novelist and a feminist. Her lively, lucid essays in A WOMAN LOOKING AT MEN LOOKING AT WOMEN begin to make some sense of those plural perspectives. There has been much talk about building a beautiful bridge across the chasm that separates the sciences and the humanities. At the moment, we have only a wobbly walkway, but Hustvedt is encouraged by the travelers making their way across it in both directions. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

TO CAPTURE WHAT WE CANNOT KEEP by Beatrice Colin (Historical Fiction)
Audiobook available, read by Polly Stone
In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris, France --- a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who, because of her precarious financial situation, is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family's business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

IN SUNLIGHT OR IN SHADOW: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper edited by Lawrence Block (Mystery Anthology)
Audiobook available, read by an ensemble cast
"Edward Hopper is surely the greatest American narrative painter. His work bears special resonance for writers and readers, and yet his paintings never tell a story so much as they invite viewers to find for themselves the untold stories within." So says Lawrence Block, who has invited 17 writers to join him in an unprecedented anthology of brand-new stories. Contributors include Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Olen Butler, Michael Connelly, Megan Abbott, Joe R. Lansdale, Jonathan Santlofer, Jeffery Deaver and Lee Child. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE KNIFE SLIPPED: The Lost Cool & Lam Mystery by Erle Stanley Gardner (Hard-boiled Mystery)
Lost for more than 75 years, THE KNIFE SLIPPED was meant to be the second book in the Cool & Lam series, but was shelved when Erle Stanley Gardner’s publisher objected to (among other things) Bertha Cool’s tendency to “talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people.” But this tale of adultery and corruption, of double-crosses and triple identities --- however shocking for 1939 --- shines today as a glorious present from the past, a return to the heyday of private eyes and shady dames, of powerful criminals, crooked cops, blazing dialogue and delicious plot twists. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

HOW WILL I KNOW YOU? by Jessica Treadway (Psychological Thriller)
Audiobook available, read by Ryan Vincent Anderson
The body of high school senior Joy Enright is discovered in the woods at the edge of a pond. She had been presumed drowned, but an autopsy shows that she was, in fact, strangled. As the investigation unfolds, four characters tell the story from widely divergent perspectives: Susanne, Joy's mother and a professor at the local art college; Martin, a black graduate student suspected of the murder; Harper, Joy's best friend and a potential eyewitness; and Tom, a rescue diver and son-in-law of the town's police chief. As a web of small-town secrets comes to light, a dramatic conclusion reveals the truth about Joy's death. Reviewed by Dunja Bonacci Skenderovic.

WHO WATCHETH: An Inspector Irene Huss Investigation written by Helene Tursten, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Mystery)
A woman is found dead in a cemetery. Just a few days before her death, the victim had received a flower, an unintelligible note, and a photograph of herself. Detective Inspector Irene Huss and her colleagues on the Violent Crimes Unit have neither clue nor motive to pursue, and when similar murders follow, their search for the killer becomes increasingly desperate. Meanwhile, strange things have been going on at home for Irene: first the rose bush in her garden is mangled, then she receives a threatening package with no return address. Is Irene being paranoid, or is she next on the killer’s list? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

PLAID AND PLAGIARISM: The Highland Bookshop Mystery Series, Book 1 by Molly MacRae (Cozy Mystery)
Audiobook available, read by Elaine Claxton
PLAID AND PLAGIARISM begins on a morning shortly after the four new owners of Yon Bonnie Books take possession of their bookshop in the Highlands. Unfortunately, Janet Marsh is told she’ll have to wait before moving into her new home. Then she finds out the house has been vandalized. Again. The chief suspect is Una Graham, an advice columnist for the local paper. When Janet and her business partners go looking for clues at the house, they find Una in the garden shed with a sickle in her neck. Who wanted Una dead? After discovering a cache of nasty letters, Janet and her friends are beginning to wonder who didn’t, including Janet’s ex-husband. Reviewed by Lorraine W. Shanley.

THE ONE HUNDRED NIGHTS OF HERO by Isabel Greenberg (Graphic Novel)
In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend, Manfred: If Manfred can seduce Cherry in 100 nights, he can have his castle --- and Cherry. But what Jerome doesn't know is that Cherry is in love with her maid, Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love, betrayal, loyalty and madness. Reviewed by Maya Gittelman.

OF ALL THAT ENDS written by Günter Grass, translated by Breon Mitchell (Essays)
In spite of the trials of old age, and with the end in sight, suddenly everything seems possible again: love letters, soliloquies, scenes of jealousy, swan songs, social satire, and moments of happiness crowd onto the page. Only an aging artist who has once more cheated death can set to work with such wisdom, defiance and wit. A wealth of touching stories is condensed into artful miniatures. In a striking interplay of poetry, lyric prose and drawings, Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass creates his final major work of art. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

THE ORNATRIX by Kate Howard (Historical Fiction)
Cursed from birth by the bird-shaped blemish across her face, Flavia spends much of her life hidden from the outside world. After sabotaging her sister’s wedding in a fit of jealous rage, she is exiled to serve in the convent of Santa Giuliana. Soon she finds that another exile dwells in the convent: a former Venetian courtesan named Ghostanza, whose ostentatious appearance clashes with the otherwise austere convent. When Ghostanza claims Flavia as her ornatrix --- her personal hairdresser and handmaid --- Flavia is pulled into a world where admiration is everything and perfection is the ultimate, elusive goal. Reviewed by Megan Elliott.

A VERY PUKKA MURDER: The First Maharaja Mystery by Arjun Gaind (Historical Mystery)
When Major William Russell’s valet knocks on his bedroom door the morning after the 1909 New Year’s Ball and receives no response, he and the Major’s elderly secretary eventually task the English Commandant of Cavalry with breaking it down. The Resident is dead in his bed. The fabulously wealthy Maharaja, Sikander Singh, cannot resist an enigma. Wielding careful and deliberate logic to crack puzzles that leave less intelligent men confounded, he overcomes obstacles, false trails, and the growing hostility of the English Establishment. Will the Maharaja work through a surplus of suspects and motives before the British shut him down and cover up the truth about the Major’s death? Reviewed by Roz Shea.

RIO: A Photographic Journey Down the Old Río Grande edited by Melissa Savage (Photography/History)
The dynamic Río Grande has run through all the valley’s diverse cultures: Puebloan, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo. Photography arrived in the region at the beginning of the river’s great transformation by trade, industry and cultivation. In RIO, Melissa Savage has collected images that document the sweeping history of that transformation --- from those of 19th-century expeditionary photographer W. H. Jackson to the work of the great 20th-century chronicler of the river, Laura Gilpin. The photographs are assembled in thematic bundles --- river crossings, cultivation, trade, floods, the Mexican insurrection, the Big Bend region, and the estuary where the river at last meets the Gulf of Mexico. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

HEROES WITHOUT GLORY: Some Good Men of the Old West by Jack Schaefer (Biography/Essays)
This collection of essays features 12 “heroes” from the American West. Jack Schaefer profiles pioneers of the West --- the doctors, explorers and cowboys who settled the challenging landscape and built communities in the Old West. These unsung champions highlight the unglorified work of the West that was achieved without violence and gunslinging. Schaefer shares the lives of Grizzly Adams, George A. Ruston, John “Snowshoe” Thompson, John Phillips, Washakie, John S. Chisum, Thomas J. Smith, Valentine T. McGillycuddy, Charles Fox Gardiner and Elfego Baca. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.
Next Week's Notables: Noteworthy Books Releasing on December 13th

Below are some notable titles releasing on December 13th 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 December 12th, see our “On Sale This Week” newsletter here.

BRYANT & MAY: STRANGE TIDE: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery by Christopher Fowler (Mystery)
Near the Tower of London, along the River Thames, the body of a woman has been discovered chained to a stone post and left to drown. Curiously, only one set of footprints leads to the tragic spot, and the Peculiar Crimes Unit is stumped. Why wouldn’t the killer simply dump her body in the river, as so many do? Arthur Bryant wonders if the answer lies in the mythology of the Thames itself.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Historical Fiction)
Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals on an isolated Texas ranch. But in 1959, no one is interested in a female doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son. When Pete Solomon, a neglected 12-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. But then the whole town turns violently against them.

THE SEVENTH PLAGUE: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins (Thriller/Adventure)
If the biblical plagues of Egypt truly happened, could they happen again, but this time on a global scale? That’s the question that lies at the heart of this latest Sigma Force thriller from James Rollins, who reveals an ancient threat hidden within the pages of the Bible, one that threatens the modern world.

THE SOUND OF RAIN by Gregg Olsen (Mystery/Thriller)
As former homicide detective Nicole Foster obsesses over the murder case that ended her career, she realizes that too many questions were left unanswered. When the grieving father of the little girl who was killed begs Nicole for help, she is drawn back into the investigation and given one shot at redemption.

Click here to see the latest "On Sale This Week" newsletter.
Our Latest Poll: Giving Books for the Holidays
Are you planning to give books as gifts this holiday season? Please check all that apply.

  • Yes, I am planning to give print books (hardcovers and/or paperbacks).
  • Yes, I am planning to give eBooks.
  • Yes, I am planning to give audiobooks.
  • Yes, I am planning to give a gift card that will allow the recipient to buy a print book, eBook or audiobook.
  • No, I am not planning to give any books or book gift cards this year.
  • I am not sure what I am doing.
Click here to vote in the poll.
Word of Mouth Contest: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can Win Two Books!
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 December 2nd to December 16th at noon ET, three lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of THE GERMAN GIRL by Armando Lucas Correa and THE SEVENTH PLAGUE: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins.

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 rules and guidelines, click here.

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

Click here to enter the contest.
Sounding Off on Audio Contest: Tell Us What You're Listening to --- and You Can Win Two Audiobooks!

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 December 1st to January 3rd at noon ET, two lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win the audio versions of Alice Hoffman's FAITHFUL, read by Amber Tamblyn, and Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke's THE SLEEPING BEAUTY KILLER, read by Jan Maxwell.

To make sure other readers will be able to find the audiobook, 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.

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

Click here to enter the contest.

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