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December 16, 2016 Newsletter December 16, 2016
Ready or Not (I am NOT), Here Come the Holidays!
This year the Christmas holiday season crept up on me when I was not looking. In my usual tradition, this week I started knitting holiday presents. Each year I vow that I will begin clicking the needles for gift giving in August, but somehow the spirit of the season for me includes making the presents during the last two weeks of the year. Last weekend, instead of picking yarns and starting to knit, I decided to organize my yarn stash, which looks like a small yarn shop. I bought two-gallon baggies for organizing all the “works in progress,” of which there are many, and then started in on the three baskets of yarn that had various bits and pieces in them. I have half a basket more to go, and yarn lined up for six holiday presents. I work from home on Fridays, and there is something very calming to me about twirling my chair to look at these neatly organized shelves when I am on a conference call or stuck on a writing project.

This has been a busier than usual time of year in the office as we work on some big projects. This week we relaunched our corporate website,, which was designed and built by Greg. It has the history of our past 20 years on it, as well as a listing of my Speaking Engagements and Appearances, which I currently am lining up for 2017.

Also, as previously noted, we will be changing newsletter companies in 2017, and that has been a multi-layered project. For the book savvy, this might not mean much. For the tech savvy, you know this is a large feat. Hats off to Jennifer Lai, our designer and developer who has been managing the endless backend details that go along with this. Reminder to please add to your address book to ensure that the newsletter does not go to your oh-so-dreaded SPAM folder. For those on Gmail, please note that often newsletters slip into your “promotional” emails, so be on the lookout. When we first started out, there were very few email providers; now newsletter companies have endless challenges to be sure that content is rendered in properly!

Yesterday, Rebecca, Nicole and I, along with my good friend Beverley, went to the Random House Open House, which was held for the first time at Hunter College instead of in their offices. Author guests included Trevor Noah, Jodi Picoult (who was interviewed by Alice Hoffman), Jon Meacham, Diana Gabaldon, George Saunders, Fannie Flagg, Lindsey Lee Johnson, Allison Pataki, Sana Krasikov and Laura McHugh. Each of us had favorite moments in the day. Trevor Noah’s stories about his mom and grandmother were brilliant, and his insight into the ramifications of apartheid on his life in South Africa were personal and thought-provoking. I am going to listen to this on audio. I also think that book groups who read Jodi’s SMALL GREAT THINGS may want to consider reading BORN A CRIME as well for another look at the issue of race.

Jon Meacham is a walking history book, and his conversation with Willie Geist on presidents and politics was both interesting and amusing. Name a year and Meacham can tell you what was happening in the country! Beverley is a huge Fannie Flagg fan, and Fannie’s sharing of stories of her life on the stage and screen, as well as a writer, was charming. Greg jokes that Diana Gabaldon is one of the few people who speaks faster than me, and yesterday her interview was brisk and fun. Near the end, a member of the audience noted that Diana is someone who has transformed the lives of millions of people with her writing. Diana became very emotional, unable to speak for a few moments, as she clearly was moved by this comment and took time to compose herself before speaking and thanking her readers.

Rebecca is enjoying a much-deserved vacation day today, so we will have our blog about the event next week and will share it in the December 30th newsletter as well.

Looking ahead to next year, I wanted to get an event on your calendars now. On Saturday afternoon, March 11th, Simon & Schuster will be hosting a "Book Club Matinee" at the Ed Sullivan Theater. Their author guests are Anthony Doerr, Isabel Allende, Lisa See, Lisa Genova, Ruth Ware and Megan Miranda. Tickets will be on-sale in January, and I am hoping to see many of you there. Much more to come about this!

Our year-end celebration kicks off with our Sixth Annual Bets On Contest. The prize books? All 40(!) of my Bets On picks from 2016. One grand prize winner will be awarded all 40 titles, while eight other winners will receive a selection of five of these titles. Some of the books you may win include BEFORE THE FALL by Noah Hawley, MODERN LOVERS by Emma Straub, THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin, and THE THINGS WE KEEP by Sally Hepworth. To enter, please fill out this form by Monday, January 9th at noon ET.

Next up are our Reviewer Picks! We always love hearing from our reviewers what their standout books of the year were. Check out their fiction and nonfiction faves here; see which of their selections you agree or disagree with, and which titles you may want to add to your 2017 reading lists.

For more highlights from 2016, take a look at this page where you’ll find a number of “Best Of” lists that we’ve compiled from around the web --- including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Amazon and many more.

How many books did you read this year? We’re always curious to know the answer, which is why we love making it our last poll question of the year. Click here to let us know how “bookish” you were in 2016!

Our previous poll asked if you’re planning to give books as gifts this holiday season. Close to 80% of you are planning to give hardcovers or paperbacks, while 28% plan on giving a gift card that will allow the recipient to buy a print book, eBook or audiobook. Click here for all the results.

Our Holiday Author Blogs are back for a ninth year! This time around, we have eight authors sharing with us some of their favorite holiday memories. So far we have heard from Hank Phillippi Ryan and Ann Hood. Still to come are remembrances from Laurie Lico Albanese, Marie Benedict, Martha Hall Kelly, Caroline Leavitt, Will Schwalbe and Wendy Walker. One of our readers, Suzanne, shared this comment after reading Hank’s blog: “tears spilling...emotions overflowing for me.” Many thanks to all who have taken the time to write such heartwarming pieces for us, and to Emily for coordinating and editing this project!

In this week’s Holiday Cheer contests, we gave away THE CHRISTMAS TOWN by Donna VanLiere, THE GERMAN GIRL by Armando Lucas Correa, THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG by Carole Bayer Sager, and all three titles in Linwood Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy: BROKEN PROMISE, FAR FROM TRUE and THE TWENTY-THREE. Our final Holiday Cheer contest of the year will go up on Tuesday, December 20th at noon ET; the prize book that day will be THE WIDOWER'S WIFE by Cate Holahan. Many thanks to Nicole, who manages all of our contests on top of her other responsibilities. Her endless attention to detail is why these run so very smoothly.

We also have holiday-themed contests running on, and Click on each of the site links to see our featured prize books and enter these contests. You only have until Wednesday, December 21st at noon ET to submit your entries, so the time to fill out those contest forms is now!

One fun note about the aforementioned Linwood Barclay: As the number "23" figures prominently in his Promise Falls series, Linwood is sharing his Top 23 TV Series to Binge Watch and his Top 23 Thriller Movies. Please note these for holiday viewing...after you've binged his trilogy, of course!

We wrap up the year with our final 18(!) reviews of 2016. Among the books we’re reviewing this week are THE UNDOING PROJECT: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis, about how a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality; THE SEVENTH PLAGUE, a new Sigma Force thriller from James Rollins that reveals an ancient threat hidden within the pages of the Bible that has the potential to endanger the modern world; and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO INTERRACIAL LOVE?, a never-before-published collection of stories from African American artist and filmmaker Kathleen Collins, who passed away from breast cancer in 1988 at the age of 46.

I want to take a moment here to thank Tom Donadio, our Editorial Director, for his incredible job of pulling together the editorial features and reviews all year. Both his wide lens on what needs to be reviewed and his attention to detail on all aspects of the editorial process are appreciated!

We have a new Word of Mouth contest to tell you about. Submit your comments about the books you’ve finished reading by Friday, January 6th at noon ET, and you’ll be in the running to win BOOKS FOR LIVING by the aforementioned Will Schwalbe (releasing December 27th) and THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD by Douglas Preston (which will be available on January 3rd).

Please also keep in mind December’s Sounding Off on Audio contest. This month, you’ll have a chance 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 enter, all you have to do is let us know by Tuesday, January 3rd at noon ET what audiobooks you’ve finished listening to.

News & Pop Culture

Reader Mail: Muriel wrote, “I enjoy all aspects of your newsletters --- from book suggestions to your family updates to media suggestions to contests to enter, etc. Each time I see what audiobooks are being offered for the monthly contests, I wish I had listened to an audiobook. I'm going to make an early New Year's resolution right now to start listening to audiobooks. I do appreciate the time you spend on your interesting and informative newsletters!” We will be talking more about reading resolutions in the weeks ahead.

Maria Semple’s TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is headed to television: Julia Roberts is heading to the small screen to star in a limited series based on Semple's latest book. Semple, who has worked as a writer and producer on TV series such as “Suddenly Susan” and “Arrested Development,” will write the adaptation.

Important Note: To give our staff time to celebrate and enjoy the holiday, this will be our last newsletter until December 30th when we will pop back to you with one last short news update for the year.

To try to summon up some holiday spirit, I read an e-novella called CHRISTMAS ANGELS by Viola Shipman. It’s the kind of thing you can download and read while the cookies are in the oven, a kind of feel-good story that you would watch on Lifetime. If you enjoyed Viola’s THE CHARM BRACELET, you will love this. Also, looking ahead, Viola’s upcoming book, THE HOPE CHEST, will be in stores on March 21st. I have a wonderful collection of holiday books that have brought me much joy through the years. I have given many of these as well.

Over the past week, I listened to Cookie Johnson’s memoir, BELIEVING IN MAGIC, where she shares details of her marriage, motherhood and the ramifications of the HIV diagnosis of NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, which was announced 25 years ago, shortly after their marriage began. While most of the memoirs that I listen to are narrated by their authors, this one was done by Robin Miles, who was terrific.

Last weekend, Tom and I volunteered to help with our annual neighborhood luminary celebration as neighbors picked up their bags, candles and sand. The weather was frigid (they even had a fire pit going), so we both bundled up in our ski clothes to work. I found myself very caught up in the spirit of the season as we drove around the neighborhood that night and saw the lights flickering at the curb. You can see a photo of us above.

My sister is in town next week with my nephew, and we are planning to catch up with them and my niece next Thursday night to celebrate. Cory has exams until next Friday, but then will be sprung from school for three weeks, which will be lovely. I foresee drones flying overhead throughout the house. Duck and cover! My parents will be at our house for Christmas dinner; I already am working on the menu.

Back to knitting. Last night, I was 16 rows into an 18-row pattern for a hat knitting K1P1 when I reread the pattern and realized I should be knitting K2P2. Thus I reversed knit, as in I ripped it out! I am making the Sugar Maple hat in pink! Bonus points to you if you know what K1P1 and K2P2 mean.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa to all! Thank you for reading, thus giving us the gift each week of being able to do what we love.

Read on, and have a great TWO weeks!

Carol Fitzgerald (

P.S. For those of you who are doing online holiday shopping, if you use the store links below, gets a small affiliate fee on your purchases. We would appreciate your considering this!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
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. Reviewers Choose Their Favorite Books of 2016
We've asked our reviewers to provide us with a list of some of their favorite books from 2016. Included is a mix of fiction and nonfiction titles, all published this year. Among their top picks are THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead, WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi, NEWS OF THE WORLD by Paulette Jiles, AMERICAN HEIRESS: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin, LILY AND THE OCTOPUS by Steven Rowley, IMAGINE ME GONE by Adam Haslett, and THE POISON ARTIST by Jonathan Moore. Take a moment to read these varied lists of titles and see if you agree with any of their selections!

Click here to see our reviewer picks for 2016.
Featured Review: THE UNDOING PROJECT by Michael Lewis
THE UNDOING PROJECT: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis (Psychology/Economics)
Audiobook available, read by Dennis Boutsikaris
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’ own work possible. THE UNDOING PROJECT is about a compelling collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read the review.
Featured Review: THE SEVENTH PLAGUE by James Rollins
THE SEVENTH PLAGUE: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins (Thriller/Adventure)
Audiobook available, performed by Christian Baskous
A British archaeologist --- a member of an expedition gone missing for over two years --- stumbles out of the Egyptian desert. Before he can explain what happened to his team, he dies. But his remains hold a terrifying discovery that only deepens the mystery: something had begun mummifying his body while he was still alive. Commander Grayson Pierce of Sigma Force is tasked with uncovering the truth behind the brutal murder and discovering the fate of the missing team. He and his allies must confront a danger that will unleash a cascading series of plagues around the globe, culminating in a scourge that could kill all of the world’s children…and forever end mankind’s future. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read the review.
Featured Review: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO INTERRACIAL LOVE? by Kathleen Collins
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO INTERRACIAL LOVE?: Stories by Kathleen Collins (Fiction/Short Stories)
Audiobook available; performed by Nina Lorez Collins, Cherise Boothe, Adenrele Ojo, Paula J. Parker, Desean Terry and Dan Woren
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO INTERRACIAL LOVE? is a never-before-published collection of stories from African-American artist and filmmaker Kathleen Collins, whose stories masterfully blend the quotidian and the profound in a personal, intimate way, exploring deep, far-reaching issues --- race, gender, family and sexuality --- that shape the ordinary moments in our lives. Her work seamlessly integrates the African-American experience in her characters’ lives, creating rich, devastatingly familiar, full-bodied men, women and children who transcend the symbolic, penetrating both the reader’s heart and mind. Reviewed by Bianca Ambrosio.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read the review.'s Holiday Author Blogs: Authors Write About Their Favorite Holiday Memories of Giving or Receiving Books
This week marks the return of our Holiday Author Blogs, which we’ve brought back for a NINTH consecutive year. We will be featuring a new blog post from an author each weekday, with the final one appearing on December 24th.

Thus far we have heard from Hank Phillippi Ryan and Ann Hood. In the days ahead, you can look forward to contributions from Laurie Lico Albanese, Marie Benedict, Martha Hall Kelly, Caroline Leavitt, Will Schwalbe and Wendy Walker.

As always, we so appreciate all the authors who have taken the time to share these wonderful holiday memories with us.
Click here to read's 2016 Holiday Author Blogs.'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.

Our final prize book will be announced on Tuesday, December 20th at noon ET.

This year's featured titles are:

Click here to read all the contest details and see our featured titles.
2016 "Best Of" Lists from Around the Web
This is the time of year when “Best Of” lists are everywhere. These annual roundups always seem to spark lively discussions among readers as they reflect on their favorite books of the year. Although we at don’t have a “Best Of” list of our own, we’ve compiled a number of them for you here. See which of your top picks appear on these lists and which titles you feel should've been included but weren't. Perhaps you’ll even find some books to add to your reading list as we head into the new year!
Click here to see 2016 "Best Of" lists.
What's New This Month on
Here are the contests currently running on

The following guides are now available:

Click here to visit
More Reviews This Week
TURBO TWENTY-THREE: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich (Mystery)
Audiobook available, read by Lorelei King
Larry Virgil skipped out on his latest court date after he was arrested for hijacking an 18-wheeler full of premium bourbon. Fortunately for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Larry is just stupid enough to attempt almost the exact same crime again. Only this time he flees the scene, leaving behind a freezer truck loaded with Bogart ice cream and a dead body --- frozen solid and covered in chocolate and chopped pecans. As fate would have it, Stephanie’s mentor and occasional employer, Ranger, needs her to go undercover at the Bogart factory to find out who’s putting their employees on ice and sabotaging the business. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

EIGHT FLAVORS: The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman (Cooking/History)
The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population that makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG and Sriracha. In EIGHT FLAVORS, Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Historical Fiction)
Audiobook available, read by Nick Podehl and Teri Schnaubelt
On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman 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. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them. Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds.

THE PLATINUM AGE OF TELEVISION: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific by David Bianculli (Entertainment/History)
Audiobook available, read by David Bianculli
Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way. In tracing the evolutionary history of our progress toward a Platinum Age of Television, he focuses on the development of the classic TV genres, among them the sitcom, the crime show, the miniseries, the soap opera, the western, the animated series and the late night talk show. In each genre, he selects five key examples of the form, tracing its continuities and its dramatic departures, and drawing on exclusive and in-depth interviews with many of the most famed auteurs in television history. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

BRYANT & MAY: STRANGE TIDE: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery by Christopher Fowler (Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by Tim Goodman
Along the River Thames, the body of a woman has been discovered chained to a stone post and left to drown. “The Bride in the Tide,” as the London press gleefully dubs her, has the Peculiar Crimes Unit 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. Unfortunately, the venerable detective seems to be losing his grip on reality. John May fears the worst, as Bryant starts hallucinating that he’s traveled back in time to solve the case. As more bodies are pulled from the river’s depths, May and the rest of the PCU find themselves in over their heads. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF MRS SHARMA by Ratika Kapur (Fiction)
Audiobook available, read by Tania Rodrigues
Renuka Sharma is a dutiful wife, mother and daughter-in-law holding the fort in a modest rental in Delhi while her husband tries to rack up savings in Dubai. Working as a receptionist and committed to finding a place for her family in the New Indian Dream of air-conditioned malls and high-paid jobs at multi-national companies, life is going as planned until the day she strikes up a conversation with an uncommonly self-possessed stranger at a Metro station. Because while Mrs. Sharma may espouse traditional values, India is changing all around her. And it wouldn't be the end of the world if she came out of her shell a little, would it? Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

MINCEMEAT: The Education of an Italian Chef written by Leonardo Lucarelli, translated by Lorena Rossi Gori and Danielle Rossi (Memoir)
Audiobook available, read by Will Damron
The restaurant industry in Italy is as tough, cutthroat and unforgiving as anywhere else in the world --- sometimes even colluding with the shady world of organized crime. Leonardo Lucarelli is a professional chef who has been roaming Italy opening restaurants, training underpaid, sometimes hopelessly incompetent sous-chefs, courting waitresses, working long hours, riding high on drugs, and cursing a culinary passion he inherited as a teenager from his hippie father. In MINCEMEAT, Lucarelli teaches us that even among rogues and misfits, there is a moral code in the kitchen that must, above all else, always be upheld. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

HEMINGWAY AT WAR: Ernest Hemingway's Adventures as a World War II Correspondent by Terry Mort (History)
In the spring of 1944, Ernest Hemingway traveled to London and then to France to cover World War II for Collier's magazine. Obviously he was a little late in arriving. Why did he go? He had resisted this kind of journalism for much of the early period of the war, but when he finally decided to go, he threw himself into the thick of events and so became a conduit to understanding some of the major events and characters of the war. HEMINGWAY AT WAR is also an investigation into Hemingway’s subsequent work --- much of it stemming from his wartime experience --- which shaped the latter stages of his career in dramatic fashion. Reviewed by John Bentlyewski.

KILL THE NEXT ONE by Federico Axat (Psychological Thriller)
Audiobook available, read by Maxwell Hamilton
After being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, Ted McKay finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. Then the doorbell rings. A stranger makes him a proposition: Why not kill two deserving men before dying? The first target is a criminal, and the second is a man with terminal cancer who, like Ted, wants to die. After executing these kills, he will become someone else's next target. As Ted commits the murders, the crime scenes strike him as odd. The targets know him by name and possess familiar mementos. Even more bizarrely, Ted recognizes locations and men he shouldn't know. As Ted's mind begins to crack, dark secrets from his past seep through the fissures. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

BEYOND THE TRUTH: A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel by Anne Holt (Mystery)
Shortly before Christmas, four people are found shot dead at the home of the Stahlbergs, a wealthy family of shipping merchants notorious for their miserliness and infighting. Three of the victims are members of the family, and the fourth is an outsider, seemingly out of place. As Hanne Wilhelmsen investigates the case alongside her longtime police partner, Billy T., motives for the murders emerge in abundance; each surviving member of the Stahlberg family had good reason to want the victims dead. As she searches for the killer, Hanne will once again risk everything to find out the truth. But this time, will she go too far? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE CHOSEN by Kristina Ohlsson (Mystery/Thriller)
Audiobook available, read by Justine Eyre
On a cold winter’s day, a pre-school teacher is shot to death in front of parents and children at the Jewish Congregation in Stockholm. Just a few hours later, two Jewish boys go missing on their way to tennis practice, and an unexpected blizzard destroys any trace of the perpetrator. As investigative analyst Fredrika Bergman and police superintendent Alex Recht struggle to pin down a lead, someone or something called the Paper Boy --- a mysterious old Israeli legend of a nighttime killer --- keeps popping up in the police investigation. But who was the Paper Boy really? And how could he have resurfaced in Stockholm? Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

DON'T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS by Bernard Minier (Mystery)
Christine Steinmeyer thought the anonymous suicide note she found in her mailbox on Christmas Eve wasn’t meant for her. But the man calling in to her radio show seems convinced otherwise. Bit by bit, her life is turned upside down. Martin Servaz is on leave in a clinic for depressed cops, haunted by his childhood sweetheart’s kidnapping by his psychopathic nemesis. One day, he receives a key card to a hotel room --- the room where an artist committed suicide a year earlier. Servaz soon uncovers evidence of a truly terrifying crime. Could someone really be cruelly, consciously hounding women to death? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

A DECLINE IN PROPHETS: A Rowland Sinclair Novel by Sulari Gentill (Historical Mystery)
With direct threats from Australia’s warring Right and the Left having quieted, wealthy Rowland Sinclair and his group of bohemian friends are on their way home to Sydney via New York after a lengthy stay in Europe. The wealthy Sinclair scion has treated his artist friends to first-class accommodations on the Cunard ship, the luxury liner of the day. Also on board are some members of the Theosophical Society, as well as an aggressively conservative Irish Catholic Bishop and his cohorts. Their clash ups the tensions in first class and presents the liner’s captain with a tricky situation when bodies start to drop. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

A WANT OF KINDNESS by Joanne Limburg (Historical Fiction)
The wicked, bawdy Restoration court is no place for a child princess. Ten-year-old Anne cuts an odd figure: a sickly child, she is drawn towards improper pursuits. Cards, sweetmeats, scandal and gossip with her Ladies of the Bedchamber figure large in her life. But as King Charles' niece, Anne is also a political pawn, who will be forced to play her part in the troubled Stuart dynasty. Transformed from overlooked princess to the heiress of England, she will be compelled to overcome grief for her lost children, the political maneuverings of her sister and her closest friends, and her own betrayal of her father, before the fullness of her destiny is revealed. Reviewed by Sarah Jackman.

RETURN TO UMBRIA: A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery by David P. Wagner (Mystery)
Audiobook available, read by David Colacci
Orvieto. Its very name brings to mind priceless art, colorful ceramics, straw-colored wine, and the most famous cathedral façade in Italy, a structure of gothic spires, arches, statues and mosaics. When Rick Montoya moved to Italy to work as a freelance translator using his dual heritage, he didn’t expect to be helping the Italian police. During his fourth investigation, his language skills draw him into the brutal murder of an American visitor. Strong suspects, tantalizing secrets, concealed motives and risky behaviors tie to a fascinating landscape and layers of Orvieto’s past. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.
Noteworthy Books Releasing on December 27th

As the week leading up to the holidays typically is slow in the publishing world, there are no December 20th releases to note in this section. However, you still can take a look at some of the hardcovers and paperbacks releasing that day in our "On Sale This Week" newsletter here.

Since there will be no December 23rd Weekly Update newsletter, we wanted to make you aware of some of the noteworthy books releasing on December 27th. You can find additional hardcovers and paperbacks releasing the week of the 26th in the December 27th edition of the “On Sale This Week” newsletter.

BOOKS FOR LIVING by Will Schwalbe (Memoir/Literary Criticism)
For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. In this delightful celebration of reading, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions.

CURTAIN OF DEATH: A Clandestine Operations Novel by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (Historical Thriller/Adventure)
CURTAIN OF DEATH is the dramatic third novel in W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV's Clandestine Operations series about the Cold War, the fledgling Central Intelligence Agency --- and a new breed of warrior.

THE MIDNIGHT BELL by Jack Higgins (Thriller)
In Ulster, Northern Ireland, a petty criminal kills a woman in a drunken car crash. In London, Sean Dillon and his colleagues in the “Prime Minister’s private army,” fresh from defeating a deadly al-Qaeda operation, receive a warning: You may think you have weakened us, but you have only made us stronger. In Washington, D.C., a special projects director with the CIA, frustrated at not getting permission from the President for his daring anti-terrorism plan, decides to put it in motion anyway. Soon, the ripples from these events will meet and overlap, creating havoc in their wake.

Click here to see the latest "On Sale This Week" newsletter.
Our Latest Poll: How Many Books Did You Read in 2016?
How many books did you read in 2016?

  • 1-10
  • 11-20
  • 21-30
  • 31-40
  • 41-50
  • 51-75
  • 76-100
  • More than 100
  • None
  • I’m not sure.
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 16th to January 6th at noon ET, three lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of BOOKS FOR LIVING by Will Schwalbe and THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD: A True Story by Douglas Preston.

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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