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December 30, 2016 Newsletter December 30, 2016
Farewell 2016; Bring on 2017!

As promised, we’re bringing you a very abbreviated newsletter this week as we all felt that three weeks between newsletters was toooo long! It’s also called “The Catch-Up Issue,” as it will give you time to catch up on some of our features that you may have been too busy to read over the holidays. And we have a LOT of them below, including our Year-End Contest where the Grand Prize has a value of over $1,000, the Holiday Author Blogs (which are terrific), our reviewers' “Best Of 2016” lists and more.

Important Reminder: Our next newsletter will be coming to you from a new email platform. It will look the same but will be mobile friendly except on Samsung email, which of course is what I have (Samsung annoyingly refuses to release their email protocols, so newsletter companies cannot adapt their programs to work with them). To make sure it doesn’t go straight into your SPAM, add to your address book.

And a public thank you to Gene, Mark and the rest of the team at Patron Mail, who have been such great partners for the past 15 years! We wish them luck with their arts ticketing business at Patron Technology.

Before we all headed out for the holidays, the staff and I treated ourselves to lunch at Trattoria Dell'Arte where I toasted our fabulous team. This merry band of just six is responsible for all of the editorial on our six websites. You can see a photo of us above. From left to right are Greg Fitzgerald, our Accounts Manager (and my son); Tom Donadio, our Editorial Director; Emily Hoenig, our Associate Features Editor; myself; Rebecca Munro, our Editorial Coordinator for and; and Nicole Sherman, our Advertising/Promotions Manager. By the way, I highly recommend the Burrata Ravioli at this restaurant!

This year, I decided to forego a big tree and instead brought the one that you see here down from my home office where I enjoy it year-round. My friend Cathy gave it to me a few years ago, and annually I dust off the ornaments. The tree base is a planter that I bought in Arizona the first year we were in business when I was at an AOL Partners Conference. Just looking at it makes me smile.

Speaking of Cathy, her entire family is in town, and they have a lovely tradition where they all give each other books. They shop in advance of coming to town, as well as in bookstores here. We stopped by to see them twice, and both times there was so much book conversation; I loved it! I gave a number of books and not surprisingly received none. I think I would be very tough to buy for!

The very sad news about the passing of both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds overshadowed the week. Greg and I recently finished listening to THE PRINCESS DIARIST and loved it. I had watched the documentary "Wishful Drinking," and now I want to go back and listen to the audiobook. I checked online yesterday morning in a few places, and the print book was out of stock. Actually all of her books were out of stock online. I highly recommend digital downloads of her memoirs; she reads and is terrific. Also, for those wondering what happened to her faithful dog, Gary, here’s an update. And for something to look forward to, the documentary "Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds," which was shown at the New York Film Festival in October and was produced by Debbie's son, Todd Fisher, was scheduled to air on HBO in March but has been moved up to Saturday, January 7th at 8pm ET. "Wishful Drinking" will re-air on HBO on New Year's Day at 9pm ET.

What have I read over the holiday? First up was I SEE YOU by Clare Mackintosh, which will be in stores on February 21st. Her last book, I LET YOU GO, was one of my 2016 Bets On selections and had one of the best twists in a thriller that I have read. I SEE YOU again has a twist, and the pages before will keep you guessing. In I SEE YOU, Zoe Walker commutes the same way each day with the same route to the train station, standing in the same place on the platform to wait for the train and stands in her favorite place once in the car. One night as she commutes home, she sees her own face staring back at her from her newspaper with a phone number and a listing for a website called Other women in those ads have become the victims of violent crimes, including rape and murder. Enlisting the help of a determined female investigator, who has some baggage of her own, they race to find who is behind this site before they act again. It will be a Bets On selection for 2017; it held my attention during a week when I was reading in fits and starts while doing holiday tasks.

One of our readers, Nancy, wrote, "We just finished I LET YOU GO with our book group. It’s full of twists that most of us didn’t see coming, and that was the basis of much of our discussion. I thought it might be an interesting topic for a poll or book group discussion suggestion. When you do read a book with unanticipated twists that catch you completely off-guard, do you get angry at the author for misleading you, or admire him/her, or laugh it off? Do you go back and re-read sections to see where you went wrong? In this particular book, there is actually a line here or there that hints at the twists, but most of us missed them." So I'm wondering what you all do. Write me with the subject line “Book Twists” and let me know how you react.

On Wednesday night I started QUICKSAND by Malin Persson Giolito, which will be in stores on March 7th. I had heard about this at a publisher preview and could not wait to get my hands on it. The opening pages drew me in quickly. In the story, a mass shooting has taken place at a prep school in a wealthy Stockholm suburb. Maja Norberg is on trial for her role in the attack, which killed her boyfriend, as well as her best friend. So far, so well done!

I am listening to BORN TO RUN by Bruce Springsteen, which is 19 discs long; I am on disc three. He is a very strong storyteller. Shockingly, as I am a Jersey girl, I never have seen Bruce in concert.

Sad news that P.J. Lambrecht, who was one half of the mother/daughter writing team of PJ Tracy, passed away last week. Here’s a tribute piece about her. Our sympathy to her daughter, Traci, who will carry on the writing of their Monkeewrench series.

Richard Adams, the author of WATERSHIP DOWN, passed away on December 24th at the age of 96. I confess to never reading this; not sure how I missed it.

For those of you who were around during the early days when we were on AOL and had our Bookaccino chat room, I have some sad news to share that we just learned. Cynthia Burt, known as Booksie, who was one of our early chat hosts, has passed away. She was so well-read and was loved by so many readers and fellow hosts. She was wheelchair bound, but when her fingers flew over the keys, we all had a hard time keeping up with her. Our sympathy to her husband, John.

News & Pop Culture

Reader Mail:

E wrote, “I really enjoy your newsletter. I am a reader and a knitter, so it is great to hear from someone with the same interests. My husband calls my yarn stash a ‘store.’ If I want to start a new project, I can just look for the yarn that I want. Mine is organized mostly by color. I belong to three reading groups and volunteer at the local public library. I love books and knitting.” I knitted two presents this week and started another project that I am not loving, so it will be reverse knit time and I will come up with something else for that friend.

Joan wrote, “I am another who really enjoys your blog about books, etc. The only problem is that I want to read everything! I usually read more than 100 books each year. So many books, so little time. :-) I have to really control myself to keep from getting way too many books...or perhaps I should say that I do not control myself nearly as much as I should. You make them all sound too good to miss. I'm wondering how to use the 'bonus points' that I receive for telling you that K2 P2 means that you knit two, then purl two for a ribbing.” Very funny, Joan. Happy you know what K2 P2 is.

Nancy wrote, “I’m in a new book group in my new area, and I turned the women on to They’re all fans now, especially our leader, who has already entered a contest and won a book! Best wishes for a Merry and a Happy. I love the newsletters, as you know, and look forward to more in 2017.” Thank you, Nancy!

Lorraine wrote, “Just a note to say Thank You for this year of newsletters! As a 60-something that can't get out a lot, I truly look forward to your weekly notes on your travels and reads. Have a very merry holiday, Carol.” Lovely to know we entertain you!

Barbara wrote, “I just CO a sweater for my 7-lb. dog. She loves being close to the burning logs in the fireplace. Do you ever listen to knitting podcasts? I think you might enjoy '2 Knit Lit Chicks,' a mother/daughter co-hosting team. They talk about knitting and then books. I enjoy it, along with some others.” I have to try this podcast out. We are going to be exploring these in 2017!

Katherine said, “Merry Christmas to you, your family and all the staff at Bookreporter. I love your newsletter and eagerly await each issue!” And we love writing it, so thanks for reading.

Wendy Corsi Staub’s FAMOUS Rummy Rum Cake: Around our office, this cake is a huge holiday hit! Here Wendy shows how to make it online.

Linwood Barclay’s Favorite Thrillers: Here are 23 (chosen as this is a plot point in his current Promise Falls trilogy) of his favorite thrillers; see how many you have read.

Lots of movie watching at our house this week, which is a holiday tradition. Here are my thoughts on what we have watched so far.

The Girl on the Train: Why they chose to set it in the US, I am not sure. The book was better!

Arrival: Based on the short story by Ted Chiang, who plotted Arrival back in 2002 as a first-person short story called "Story of Your Life." I am not a huge sci-fi fan, but this is very well done. I was drawing parallels to Inception. Confession that I had to look up exactly what happened at the end! With Inception Cory had to draw me a map!

Jackie: Natalie Portman is excellent; terrific behind-the-scenes look at the week of JFK’s assassination. There is one scene where Jackie is in the shower and Jack’s blood is pouring down her back, which is chilling. Yes, I have seen the blood-stained pink suit, but this was a very powerful image.

Sully: Brilliant film about the amazing landing on the Hudson. I remember the morning this happened. The way Sully defended his actions...riveting. Tom Hanks is fabulous; a must see.

20th Century Women: Annette Bening rocks her role. Interesting look into life in the late 20th century. My favorite part was the end where we learned where everyone ended up, and watching Bening throughout, her fate was not tough to predict!

Moonlight: Tragic but powerful story told in three parts, looking at Miami's drug scene and its impact on one young boy, who, over the course of the film, becomes a man.

Nocturnal Animals: A woman receives the manuscript of her ex-husband's book, a chilling thriller that makes her rethink her life. Is it about revenge? Not for the faint of heart.

The latter two have what Tom calls "an indie ending," which means they end abruptly. Makes him crazy!

Looking forward to a long weekend of college and pro football, reading, more knitting projects (maybe I will finish something), more movies, previews of "Billions" and "Homeland" --- and eating more Black Tea Cardamom cookies, which were suggested by Anna, one of our former chat hosts. And before you ask, here’s the recipe.

And this wraps up 2016 for us, except for our wishes to you for a Happy New Year! Your next newsletter will be on Friday, January 6th. Until then, read on and get ready to ring in 2017! See you next year....

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!

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.
Special Feature & Contest for Book Groups on Tell Us What YOUR Best Books of the Year Are --- and Enter to Win SIX Advance Reading Copies

This is the time of year when everyone is posting “Best Books of the Year” lists. We would like you and your book group to help us compile ours! Click here to share both your favorite book that you read with your group this year and your favorite book that you read outside your group by Tuesday, January 31st at noon ET, and you will be eligible to win SIX fantastic titles:

Please note: Your favorite book you discussed with your group CAN be the same as your favorite book of the year! And they don't have to have been published in 2016. Also, please be careful with the spelling of book titles and authors’ first and last names to save us editing time.

We will have our reader-compiled Best Of list to share with you in early February. We cannot wait to see what you select!
Click here to let us know YOUR favorite book group titles of 2016.'s Holiday Author Blogs: Authors Write About Their Favorite Holiday Memories of Giving or Receiving Books
Our Holiday Author Blogs have returned for a NINTH consecutive year.

Eight authors have shared with us some wonderful holiday memories about giving or receiving books during the holidays.
This year's contributors are Laurie Lico Albanese, Marie Benedict, Ann Hood, Martha Hall Kelly, Caroline Leavitt, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Will Schwalbe and Wendy Walker.

As always, we 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 Feature: Books You Want to Wrap and Unwrap
At, we've been celebrating the holiday season in style with our Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature. As our gift to you, we've been spotlighting a book and giving five lucky readers a chance to win it.

Although the contests have ended, we encourage you to take a look at this year's featured titles. These are books you'll want to read during the holidays --- and throughout the year as well!

This year's featured titles are:

-Click here for the winners of this year's Holiday Cheer contests.

Click here to see our Holiday Cheer feature.
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.
Next Week's Notables: Noteworthy Books Releasing on January 3rd

Below are some notable titles releasing on January 3rd 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 2nd, see our “On Sale This Week” newsletter here.

BELOW THE BELT: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods (Thriller)
A situation has arisen that could escalate into an explosive quagmire, and only someone with Stone Barrington’s stealth and subtlety can contain the damage. But in the fickle circles of power, fortunes rise and fall on the turn of a dime, and it may turn out that Stone holds the key not just to one man’s fate, but to the fate of the nation.

THE DANGEROUS LADIES AFFAIR: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini (Historical Mystery)
When a pleasant afternoon’s bicycling through Golden Gate Park ends with the revelation of threatening letters, followed by a gunshot, Sabina Carpenter knows this is a case that demands her immediate attention. Meanwhile, a courier has been murdered, creating a trail that will take her partner, John Quincannon, through most of San Francisco’s less savory places.

DIFFERENT CLASS by Joanne Harris (Psychological Thriller)
Joanne Harris, the bestselling author of CHOCOLAT, is back with a dark, suspenseful tale in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith about a sociopathic young outcast at an antiquated prep school and the curmudgeonly Latin teacher who uncovers his dangerous secret.

DIFFICULT WOMEN by Roxane Gay (Fiction/Short Stories)
The women in Roxane Gay’s latest collection of stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America.

HISTORY OF WOLVES by Emily Fridlund (Fiction)
Isolated at home and an outlander at school, 14-year-old Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is charged with possessing child pornography, the implications of his arrest deeply affect Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong.

THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD: A True Story by Douglas Preston (History/Adventure)
A 500-year-old legend. An ancient curse. A stunning medical mystery. And a pioneering journey into the unknown heart of the world's densest jungle. Bestselling author Douglas Preston takes readers on an adventure deep into the Honduran jungle in this riveting, danger-filled narrative about the discovery of an ancient lost civilization.

THE MISTRESS by Danielle Steel (Romance)
For seven years, Natasha Leonova has lived under the protection of Russian billionaire Vladimir Stanislas. Theo Luca is the son of a brilliant artist, Lorenzo Luca, whose widow has transformed their home into a celebrated restaurant decorated with her late husband’s paintings. It is at this restaurant where Theo first encounters Natasha and Vladimir lays eyes on Luca’s artwork. Two dangerous obsessions begin.

THE OLD MAN by Thomas Perry (Thriller)
Thirty-five years ago, Dan Chase was sent to Libya to covertly assist a rebel army. When the plan turned sour, he reacted according to his own ideas of right and wrong, triggering consequences he never could have anticipated. Just as he had begun to think himself finally safe, Chase must reawaken his survival instincts to contend with the history he has spent his adult life trying to escape.

THE RED SPHINX: A Sequel to The Three Musketeers written by Alexandre Dumas, translated by Lawrence Ellsworth (Historical Fiction/Adventure)
For the first time in English in over a century comes a new translation of the forgotten sequel to Alexandre Dumas’ THE THREE MUSKETEERS, which continues the dramatic tale of Cardinal Richelieu, Queen Anne and King Louis XIII --- and introduces a charming new hero, the Comte de Moret, a real historical figure from the period.

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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